Really feeling this debut slab of screwed dub-punk-rap steez by an incognito figure who reminds us of everyone from Dean Blunt to Rat Heart/MJB, Lord Tusk and Thomas Bush
Seemingly hailing from outta nowhere (but something to do with London), ‘Lonely Eyes’ lays down a whole vibe across a dozen slo-mo and stepping screwballs built for those who like it dead slompy. It’s anyone’s guess as to their identity, or if it is even someone we already know, but either way they’ve evidently got a handle on this sound, hustling bits of digi-dub, DIY beat crud and drowsy vocals into druggy ditties about life, death and dub.
With nothing overpolished or overthought, they keep everything satisfyingly lowkey on a hoods-up skulk between the patently Dean Blunt-Spooled pressure of ‘I Smell Blood’ and the guttural ‘Krunk’. The wormy stepper ‘Move Like Dis’ and ‘talk of the Town’ parallel Lord Tusk & John T. Gast gems with its spongiform subs and zooted splutter, and a core highlight ‘death Hymn’ could almost be a stray Lolina work, while ‘Krunk (Woody’s Flute Mix)’ takes the set to its smokiest point. We’re a real sucker for those rusted 808 cowbells and slurred subs that underline the midnight chords of ‘Lost in the Dark’, and also the woozy Prince inflections that open up ‘Slum Funk’ and its Andy Stott-esque ruffcut drums, with a wicked piece of reticulated tresillo rhythm in ‘Terkos’, and the MJB meets BZMC flexor ‘An Poem’ sealing the seal for one you don’t want to nap on.
UK drummer and sound artist Cameron Graham dances between EDM, joyous calypso colour, cellular Glassian minimalism, and hyperrealist AI on debut album Becoming a Beach Angel.
"Creating his dizzying, dayglo MIDI explorations with drumkit triggers, UK musician Cameron Graham conjures a multitude of soundworlds from dense compositional structures. The music of debut album Becoming a Beach Angel touches on neon, videogame digitisation, the finessed, mechanical precision of IDM, even the rhythmic intensity of gamelan, whilst retaining a thrilling and wholly singular energy. The record is an electrifying experience, full of colour.
Becoming a Beach Angel flips and trips through headspinning, hyperspeed effervescence, like an entire rave condensed into a moment. Instantly joyful, its textures - formed in wavetable synthesis triggered by live-performed percussion pads - thread and bob through hyperreal abstract space, millisecond snippets of organ chords and steel pans zooming like stars in a galaxy rocketed past at lightspeed.
With both silken, intuitive deftness, and meticulously rehearsed ability, Graham reins control of multiple spinning melodic lines and frequency filters into a unique bridge between various electronic and minimalist musics, celebrating and rejoicing, joyously dancing long into the night."
Oostwestkruisbest by Kim David Bots via South of North.
"Between 2009 and 2013 Kim recorded a bunch of music; in the old tramtransfer at the Kinkerstraat in Amsterdam (now de Foodhallen), in Berlin living in a biodynamic living community in Lichtenberg & in an apartment on the Hoofdweg in Amsterdam, that doubled as a grow-house.
The title ‘Oostwestkruisbest’ is a combination of the sayings ‘oost west thuis best’ and ‘ieder huisje heeft zijn kruistje’. The first translates as ‘home sweet home’, where the second means every home has its own troubles.
‘Infinity hours remaining’ was made during a prolonged period of sleepless nights. ‘Kopievankopie’ features, amongst other things, a guitar Kim borrowed from his sister. It directly translates as ‘copy of copy’. ‘Die Trommel, der Trum’ was made using a Casiotone 701 with a drummer boy in mind. The title is German for ‘the drum, the dream’. ‘Ongecontroleerde Dagrestanten’ was made with an elastic band (a broad one, that in the Netherlands were used by mailmen) and a clarinet without a mouthpiece. ‘Oostwestkruisbest’ features pots and pans from Kim’s kitchen."
Ooosh! Now-Again hail a lesser known but no less deadly ‘70s Ethio-Jazz killer from Ayalew Mesfin and his Black Lion Band.
Proceeding a strong handful of retrospective compilations since 2018, ‘Wegene (My Countryman)’ throws down 10 of the funkiest chops we’ve heard from this incredibly fertile era of Ethiopian music. Right up there with legendary figures such as Mulatu Astake, Mahmoud Ahmed, Hailu Mergia and Alemayehu Eshete, the work of Mesfin and his band is surely among the hardest of that cohort and a period that would sadly come to an end with political regime change in the region soon after these recordings were made.
We’re talking pure JB’s style swag with wicked ululation’s on ‘teregrew Nebere (You Used to Understand)’, and more psyched-out tackle with woozy horn vamps in ‘Ambassel’, plus more gently head-spinning organ and soulful urgency in the swaying dervish ‘Neye Temelesh Belwat (Tell her to Coem Back)’, the tremolo-inflected surfy wave of ‘Rehab’, and in-the-pocket tightness of ‘Lèné Antchi Bitcha Nèsh.’That’s all finely balanced by his burning Ethio-soul-jazz numbers, at best in the haunting ‘Endetnesh Belulegn (Ask How She’s Doing)’, and the 9 minute end of night slow jam ’Tizitash Zewetir (Your Memories Always)’.
A snapshot of Daniel Higgs’ post-hardcore pioneers Lungfish in the sound’s late zenith of 1999, which wasn’t released until 2012, years after they’d disbanded, replete with four (then) unreleased songs. Not hard to hear the sort of detuned guitars and swerve that goes into Moin
“These 10-songs were recorded and mixed by Craig Bowen at Baltimore’s A.C.R. Studios but never released. After the session the band decided to continue writing new songs. Six of these songs were re-recorded at Inner Eat Studios and released on Necrophones, while four others remained unreleased, until now. Released in 2012.”
Stroom unearth another stray nugget here, patchworking tracks (1983-1985) from Dutch new wave trio W.A.T.'s three albums into a vital anthology that showcases their ahead-of-the-curve blend of jangly, nonchalant indie and blippy electro pop. RIYL A C Marias, Siouxsie, The Smiths, Vazz
Released in 1983, a couple of years after guitarist Ad van Meurs had run into bassist Frank van den Nieuwenhof in Eindhoven, the six tracker was conceived in the living room Meurs shared with his partner, vocalist and keyboardist Ankie Keultjes, who used a Sequential Circuits Pro One synth and Boss drum machine to accompany Meurs' guitar and pedal steel jangles and Nieuwenhof's dextrous basslines. These tracks established a style that was defiantly ahead of its time, using unusual time signatures and complex harmonies to lift jaunty, new wave pop miniatures that were as comfortable on the dancefloor as on the home stereo. A couple of years later they released 'We' and another mini-album 'Thin Blue Notes', before Meurs and Keultjes turned their attention towards their enduring project The Watchman. Although W.A.T.'s material was acclaimed at the time, the releases sunk into obscurity - this is the first time these tracks have been reissued.
'World According To' plucks the best tracks from the three albums, funneling them into a surprisingly coherent 12 tracks that deftly illustrate their unhindered creativity. The trio were inspired by punk, but their process was far more rigorous; rehearsal sessions would blur from hours to days, and Meurs, Nieuwenhof and Keultjes developed a sound that plummeted a few fathoms beneath the mainstream. They were inspired by the nascent electronic dance music of the era, employing echoey beatbox rhythms and analog arpeggios that propelled Meurs' Johnny Marr-esque twangs, Nieuwenhof's groove-fwd bass and Keultjes' moonlit vocals. It's all on display on 'Famous', the opening track from 'Defreeze' that materializes over bleepy coldwave synths and Keultjes' gothy utterances. "I would have been gutted, bubbled and fluttered, through the funnels of my mind," she moans, before Meurs cuts in with chorus-heavy electric guitar. That album's title track is even morr off kilter, all scraggly Raymond Scott-like analog sequences, tangled grooves and marching band drums - it's like The Cure after a hot wash cycle.
'Wax', from the 'We' album, shows how the band developed their sound further; here the beats are more squashed and synths more psychedelic, while Keultjes' vocals sound rounder and more confident. On 'THX', Nieuwenhof's basslines bounce underneath sung-spoken words from Meurs, densely layered guitars and jerky electronics from Keultjes. 'Sangatte' is even more unique, a low-key waltz that stifles its patter of synthesized drums with Keultjes' romantic coos.
Some of the band's best material was included on their last record: 'Thin Blue Notes' should have rightly been their breakout, sizzling new wave pop choruses in dubwise instrumentation, and 'Conspiracy in the Dark' finishes off the anthology with a fuzz of melancholy that's so grey skied it may as well have come from Manchester. It's fantastic material that makes us wonder why it hasn't been reevaluated sooner - needless to say, if yr into classic 4AD, Les Disques du Crépuscule or Factory, 'World According To' is a doozy.
Mischievous electronic music plunderers Light Sounds Dark cue up 15 top shelf obscurities on the latest instalment of their contentious series, now in its teens.
Responsible for clueing us up to more oddities than we can name, LSD are on their classic game here, rifling their collections and YouTube for hens teeth curios from the intersection of industrial, electro and no wave mutant disco.
Aye, you can go whistle for a track-list but, as the samples will tell you, there’s a feast of properly propulsive, wickedly campy club gear inside, swept up along with freakier, esoteric synth asides in the label’s time-honoured tradition.
In 1972, trumpeter Baikida Carroll and some of his colleagues from the Black Artists Group (more precisely saxophonist/flutist Oliver Lake, trombonist Joseph Bowie, drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw and trumpeter Floyd LeFlore) took the advice of their friends in the Art Ensemble Of Chicago and left their native Missouri to come and discover the bright lights of Paris for themselves. The following year they would even get the chance to record their only album which would rapidly attain mythical status and a collector’s item: “In Paris, Aries 1973”.
"Therefore, it was not surprising that they crossed paths with Jef Gilson in the capital. He was always on the lookout for new artists for his recently formed Palm label and had been active on many fronts in jazz since the end of the 50s. The French bandleader / pianist / composer / sound engineer had already recorded, in the preceding months other American musicians who would go on to have great careers: Byard Lancaster, Keno Speller, Clint Jackson III, Khan Jamal... Gilson therefore offered Baikida Carroll the chance to record his first album under his own name, which would be the 13th release on the label. Carroll logically asked Oliver Lake to join him. He also recruited Manuel Villaroel, a young Franco-Chilien pianist from the group Matchi-Oul, who had already released an album on Futura in 1971 and would release another on Palm in 1976. The group was completed with the addition of Brazilian percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, who had just released a well-received album on the Saravah label. They were ready to enter the studio for the 3rd, 4th and 5th June 1974.
The first side of the album is divided into two long tracks which send free jazz back to its long-lost African roots. The opener “Orange Fish Tears” indeed rolls out a jungle of percussion of all sorts and sizes -the whole group is involved- which weave and mix together reaching a point where all bearings are lost, lending a sense of wonder to the majestic entry of the brass and woodwinds, flying suddenly out from the undergrowth. “Forest Scorpion” (sic) is a real voodoo ceremony where a venomous percussive groove backs the fiery solos from keyboards and saxophone in a furious trance. A warning; after these two tracks listeners are physically and emotionally wiped out!
The other side is more introspective. Deliberately using dissonance and repetition, “Rue Roger” -the only composition by Oliver Lake- in a long dialogue between trumpet and saxophone, could almost remind us of Terry Riley in his favourite ballpark. “Porte D'Orléans”, the fourth and final track on the album, has the group back to their old tricks in a long hallucinatory jam which owes as much to the contemporary music of György Ligeti as to the most angst-ridden Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack music (remember the heavy chords which beat through “Planet of the Apes»).
With these two sides, and in under 45m, Baikida Carroll and his musicians show just what they can do, from cerebral to charnel without ever simplifying things. This is an essential album if you are a fan of free-wheeling avant-garde music from the Art Ensemble of Chicago to Sonic Youth and including Shabaka Hutchings and Rob Mazurek. For those with good taste, in other words."
Afrosynth’s guided tour of golden era South African dance music reaches the pivotal year of 1991 with the palpable optimism felt in Citi Express’ kwaito-style slant on garage-house and soul, including a 10 minute riff on a Stevie Wonder evergreen.
Citi Express’ sought-after 1991 album ‘Living For The City’ simply brims with a good times feel that can be heard to reflect a renewed buzz in the long suffering country. The sound clearly parallels movements in US and UK and beyond, but with a directness and soul particular to South African dance music. The production feels notably more sophisticated and in key with the likes of NYC deep house and garage or soul music from London at the time.
They hustle the garage/hip house buzz of ‘It’s Too Late’ next to what could almost be the Burrell Brothers sampling MLK in the robust, bass-led piano jam ‘Love Is the Message’, and nods to silky Larry Heard on ‘Victim of Your Love’. However that’ only half the story as they also come equally correct on a downbeat street soul tip between the gospel soul of ‘People of the World’, a 10 minute pearl ‘Living for the City’ channelling Stevie Wonder via Soul II Soul, and the semi-rapped/sung swinger ‘Open Invitation’ blushing with FM synth work.
Phillip Sollmann (Efdemin) and PAN alumnus Konrad Sprenger’s ‘Modular Organ System’ stands at the crest of a years-long re-evaluation of the Pipe Organ in new music, from Japanese artist FUJI||||||||||TA’s attempt to personalise and adapt its vast machinations into a hand-operated, portable device, to famed organ tuner and composer Kali Malone’s focus on alternate tuning systems, or Kara-Lis Coverdale’s reading of the pipe Organ as a form of early speech synthesis, in which the organ literally transmutes the voice of God. The duo investigate and enact potential new methods to democratise and future-proof the instrument, with engrossing results that come highly recommended if you’re into any of the aforementioned artists, or indeed work by Ellen Fullman, Ellen Arkbro, Éliane Radigue, Sarah Davachi or La Monte Young.
Sollmann and Sprenger here tackle some of the most controversial and interesting aspects of the organ - an instrument that since ancient Greek and Roman times was devised to allow a single performer to produce a larger ensemble sound. ‘Modular Organ System’ started life in 2017 as an installation piece devised by the duo as a new model for a modular system that could be used for composition, performance and tool development in acoustic space. This album is the first proper documentation of that work, offering two long-form drone compositions that consider space, tonality and acoustics. Sprenger built his first organ as far back as 2002, but for this iteration the duo built the system out of tubes, air pumps and vibrating reeds, which they could place around a space as if the instrument were a sculpture. Visitors were encouraged to wander around the installation and wonder as the sound shifted; sometimes hearing just electrical buzzing from its motors, and sometimes just its engrossing low end frequencies. “The visitor has the impression of being inside an organ itself," composer Arnold Dreyblatt writes in the liner notes, "rather than listening to it externally."
On 'Modular Organ System', we don't have the benefit of being able to physically move around the space, but we do get to interface with the root of Sollmann and Sprenger's process: its peculiar tonality, commanding sound, and hypnotic interplay of airy, ancient drone. They use pure power to lull us into the opening side, with non-tempered harmonics that boom from the speakers. Even without seeing the instrument itself, it's easy to hear its unusual properties - at times sounding like archaic, phased woodwind playing alongside a church organ, or atonal bagpipes in the distance, over a hill or a mountain. The slow-moving wails connect us wholly to history, but the recording and texture feel decidedly modern.
On the dense, overpowering second side, the duo layer their drones into a wall of humming vibrations. These elements crack and distort naturally, sounding as powerful as Tim Hecker's signature granulations but blessed with spiritual magic. Midway into the piece, the drones descend into near silence before building again into a slowly chugging rhythm that seems to directly reference Sollmann and Sprenger’s motorik collaborations with Oren Ambarchi, and which leave us re-evaluating the instrument’s technological and historical boundaries. It makes for a stunningly meditative, disorienting listen.
Arguably the best-loved game in the 'Silent Hill' series, 'Silent Hill 3' also boasts one of the most enduring soundtracks, draping Akira Yamaoka's chilly drones in references to trip-hop, dub techno, illbient and industrial music. Terrifying, honestly.
If the first two 'Silent Hill' soundtracks worked best as sample fodder, with Yamaoka's piano phrases and pads inspiring countless beatmakers, the 'Silent Hill 3' soundtrack is more of a listening experience. That's not to say its themes haven't been scraped - Flying Lotus snipped the eerie 'Never Forgive Me, Never Forget Me' for his rework of Kanye West's 'Love Lockdown' - but this one's assembled with a broader sense of narrative, interspersing Yamaoka's themes with dialog from the game and 'proper' songs from Joe Romersa and vocalist Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. Sadly, those songs haven't aged particularly well, and yet again it's Yamaoka's inventive productions that steal the show.
'Float Up From Dream' drops us directly into the abandoned town, with disorienting minor-key chords and a disembodied voiceover. "We've come to witness the beginning, the rebirth of paradise despoiled by mankind," she mutters, creepily. And Yamaoka's love for melodramatic, Barry Adamson-style trip-hop rears its head again on 'Breeze ~ In Monochrome Night', that sets his fluttery, romantic piano motifs over a dusty break and dubby echoes. 'Prayer' meanwhile is more like the interlude from an East Coast power electronics CDR, made up of hoarse ritual chants and grinding, factory-strength percussive drops, and 'Sickness Unto Foolish Death' sounds like a tinny juxtaposition of canned, Ferraro-esque soundfonts and lo-fi, bit-crushed drums.
The album really hits its stride when we reach 'A Stray Child', a gloomy 'Mezzanine'-era Massive Attack-style cut that's hinged around shaky, sampled strings and a tightly reverberating woodblock snare. 'Maternal Heart' picks up where that one left off, meeting Yamoaka's blowzy rhythms with unstable, uncanny operatic voices and electrified gong sounds, and 'Letter ~ From the Lost Days' introduces a vocal without slipping into complete overblown rock, maintaining the low-slung mood. Elsewhere, the jazzy 'I Want Love' sounds like it could have slipped off a Major Force album, and 'Memory of the Waters', with its submerged pulse and lysergic electronics, is perfectly in line with humid, sensual ambience you'd expect to hear from the West Mineral/3XL axis.
Hardest, deepest Ethio jazz-funk-soul from a legendary figure and compatriot of Mulatu Astake, Mahmoud Ahmed, Hailu Mergia and Alemayehu Eshete.
Latest in a necessary unarchiving program initiated by Now-Again, ‘Tewedije Limut (Let Me Die Loved)’ dusts down seven further Ayalew Mesfin gems discovered on unreleased master tapes that now help plug a crucial blindspot in knowledge of Ethiopia’s incredible early ‘70s scene. Most sadly this rich seem of music would be curtailed by regime in the region not long after, but they mercifully left us with an inimitable sound that clearly endures half a century later due to its timeless soul-grabbing melodies and swingeing grooves that do not let go.
This account opens with a scorching take on the standard ‘Tewedije Limut (Let Me Die Loved)’, and arcs a spectrum of meson and Black Lion Band’s verve between the swaying soulful downstroke ‘Mot Aykerim (You Can’t Cheat Death)’, to the psychier strut of ‘Ayish Ayishina (I See And I See You)’, takign in its stride the horn section in full bloom on ’Shuferu (The Driver)’ and the incendiary ‘Libe Dil Temeta (My Heart Is Conquered)’, plus the kit-rattling ‘Gora Weshebaye (The Mountain Hero)’ with jaw-dropping vocals and horn blare tucked into that signature pentatonic Ethio shuffle groove, beside the looser beauty ‘Anchi Yefikir Taot (You Are Love)’. All dancefloor dynamite in the right situations.
Yore is the debut solo release from Charlie Hill.
"Yore captures the excitement and naïve creativity of Charlie’s new journey as a producer after studying and performing as a jazz drummer. A mixture of club-ready basslines, earthy space funk and ethereal Trip Hop, Yore follows Charlie’s 2023 collaborative Galaxy EP alongside fellow Meanjin producer Sampology.
There is an exciting energy currently bubbling within the Meanjin/Brisbane music scene and Charlie’s debut work as a producer has reflected this instinctively. Recorded performances from local jazz ensembles, his vocalist singer as well as his own drumming were utilised as samples throughout the EP."
King of Cowards - the second album from Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs.
"Seven is the magic number. Indeed, not only do psychologists theorise that the human brain can only memorise a sequence of this length, but the second album from Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs - the Newcastle-based maximalists whose riffs, raw power and rancour have blazed a trail across the darker quarters of the underground in the last ten years - does its damnedest to take consciousness to its very limits.
The Iggy-esque drive to dementia, Sabbath-esque squalor and Motörhead-style dirt may still be present and correct, yet the songs are leaner, the long-drawn-out riff-fests sharpened into addictive hammerblows and the nihilistic dirges of yore alchemically transformed into an uplifting and inviting barrage of hedonistic abandon. “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which” So George Orwell noted at the end of a certain slim volume. King Of Cowards is nothing less than just such a metamorphosis, one in which - in a blur of primal urges and beastly physicality - this band shows us just which animals are really in charge of the farm."
Flaty & OL’s Serwed return to Huerco S’ West Mineral for their fourth album; straying from their usual bass abstractions into hi-gloss lab experiments with obvious appeal to disciples of Dopplereffekt, Vangelis or the 'Resident Evil'/'Silent Hill' OSTs.
'Serwed IV' mines the vaults for tinny '90s workstation bells and FM pads placed alongside rigorously designed sci-fi drums and textures. The duo take inspiration from commercial background music, from film, documentaries, adverts and installations, re-contextualised with a modern sheen.
Album opener ‘Glare’ deploys Blade Runner-esque midi-woodwind and 4th world pads, and ‘Beroca’ takes us straight to Dopplereffekt’s drumless lab, with added blue-skied textures. 'Contrail' is even more stark, with a simulated harp riff that sounds like it was snatched from Kara-Lis Coverdale’s ‘Aftertouches’, bent around trapdoor slams and simmering drones. On 'Smart Home', the duo nod to YMO, using brittle percussion and simulated instruments to capture the mood, enhanced by dub effects and plucked strings like an edit of Laurie Anderson’s peerless ‘Late Show’, visions of ‘Home of The Brave’ flashing before our eyes.
On 'Heat Shield', wormy, generative rushes add sparkle to blurry hardcore vocals, ‘Technics’ turns dub techno to wavy plastic and 'Phoneme' pairs vibrating high-end with fudged dub and irregular pulses like some re-factored IDM blueprint. We end with ‘Bloomin’s’ Serotonin rush, all gleaming contours and loved-up energies, the best flashback.
To The God Named Dream by Nathan Micay for LUCKYME®.
"To say a lot has happened to Nathan Micay since the release of ‘Blue Spring’ is an understatement. Since the Canada-native turned Berghain-regular made the short jump from Berlin to Copenhagen after the pandemic, he’s been holed-up in a derelict studio complex to immerse himself in consecutive acclaimed soundtracks: multiple seasons of HBO/BBC award-winning drama ‘Industry’, the upcoming post-Trump feature ‘Reality’ starring Sydney Sweeney, and the highly anticipated HBO Original Documentary 'Time Bomb Y2K. His meteoric rise in the world of scoring has forced a break from the DJ circuit, but new tracks have debuted as VIPs through the sets of respected DJ peers Peach and Avalon Emerson. Having sharpened his proverbial sword he returns with his most ambitious offering yet.
‘To The God Named Dream’ takes inspiration from classic RPGs to present a haunted library record for the large language age. No longer solely gearing his music for clubs has proven a revelation for Micay. The result is a record equally at home in earphones as a PA. From the title down to every detail of the artwork, ‘To The God Named Dream’ represents a cursed library record, possessed by an interdimensional intelligence ripping though the sleeve. The vinyl art contains an original multiplayer board game, designed by LUCKYME® to accompany the album. “Jumanji meets Hellraiser.” "
20 year reissue of an enchanting showcase of little heard Ainu folk music by Umeko Ando, member of the indigenous community in northern Japan, singing songs about suppression and marginalization of their culture, which was only recognised by the Japanese government in 2008
““Upopo Sanke“ means “Let's sing a song" in the Ainu language. Umeko Ando (1932-2004) was one of the best-known artists of the Ainu, an indigenous, long-suppressed community in northern Japan. She sings their traditional songs together with Oki Kano on the Tonkori harp, who also recorded the album. The two are supported by members of the female vocal group Marewrew as well as Ainu percussionists, a string player and a male singer who provides rhythmic shouts and also throat singing. The call-and-response structure of many of the songs is performed with a mantric, hypnotic quality in a vocal style that is perhaps best described as elastic, relaxed and breathing. The lyrics praise the lush nature of the islands. They mention the deity Kamuy, who can appear in the form of animals such as bears or swordfish, and the singers repeatedly ask the audience to dance. Listening to this music can be a meditative experience. There seems to be a gentle smile in every note and syllable. This music softly hits the heart.
“Upopo Sanke“ was recorded on a farm in Tokachi in the summer of 2003. We hear dogs barking, a distant thunderstorm and voices imitating animals. The liner notes that accompany the 2LP release gather the anecdotal memories of Umeko Ando and Oki Kano about the stories of the 14 songs. Oki Kano is a musical ambassador of the Ainu culture who tours worldwide with his Oki Dub Ainu Band and also gives solo concerts, always playing the Tonkori, the five-stringed Ainu harp. The Ainu have suffered from the oppression of their culture and language by Japan, especially since the 18th and 19th centuries. Only recently, in 2008, were the Ainu officially recognized again as an indigenous people culturally independent of Japan. As a result of the marginalization, there are now only a few hundred native speakers of the Ainu language left, making it a particularly worthy object of preservation. This music would not exist if the Ainu had not maintained their culture in remote and secret communities against Japanese hegemony. Thanks to Oki Kano, Umeko Ando's interpretation of Ainu music has been recorded in great detail from within the community. "Upopo Sanke" is a treasure of the Ainu heritage.”
‘The Stix’ by Jaga Jazzist gets the 20th Anniversary reissue treatment. Originally released in 2003 by the Norwegian eight-piece, this new 2LP edition arrives on deluxe orange and red translucent vinyl.
"Jaga Jazzist have been a beacon for musical fusion and hybridity for nearly 30 years, each of their albums characterised by a curious, experimental spirit and an insatiable desire to evolve and innovate. 'The Stix’ sashays through post rock, jazz, psychedelia and IDM / dance influences. Breathless and exhilarating.
For fans of GoGo Penguin, The Comet is Coming, The Mars Volta, Ezra Collective, Ishmael Ensemble."
Floating Points’ Melodies International shine overdue light on Mad Professor’s rawly dubbed 1984 lovers rock reggae album, newly remastered from tapes by Matt Colton .
Mad Professor ranks among the world’s leading dub masters since the early ‘80s. He’s renowned for a classic, hands-on-desk approach to dub since founding his studio in 1979, leading to a series of legendary ‘Dub Me Crazy’ albums and UK household staples such as his reworks of Massive Attack’s ‘Protection’ album in the ‘90s, plus countless live performances. Named for his eponymous London studio, ‘Ariwa Sounds: The Early Sessions’ (1984) is a delectable snapshot of his work with lovers rock artists in the mid ‘80s, nestling his work for likes of Deborah Glasgow, Ranking Ann, Errol Sly and Sergeant Pepper in a truly heavyweight style.
A relatively recent encounter with ‘Ariwa Sounds: The Early Sessions’, and its timeless mix of soulful reggae vocals with rawly upfront dubbing, led Floating Points and co’s Melodies International to give it some love on reissue, where it stands tall alongside classic work by everyone from Womack & Womack to Mood II Swing and many more, and is likely to become a new fixation with new generations raking over dub reggae’s hot embers. The sultry but thunderous ‘Moonlight Lover’ is a massive flex, as is the nice ’n easy ‘My Thing’ by Deborah Glasgow, and no doubt the ricocheting instrumental ‘Sitting Room Dub’ depicting Mad Professor deep in the echo chamber,
The label say: “When we finally had the pleasure of meeting Neil at his recording studio, he revealed that this album was one of his earliest works. It was born out of a birthday gift from his wife—a four-track recorder that inspired him to venture into music-making after years of repairing and building electronics and audio equipment. When we asked him if he would be making music if not for that gift, he confessed that it was highly unlikely (!)
Mad Professor further explained that this album, originally released in 1984, is a compilation of tracks recorded between 1979 and 1981, representing the nascent stages of his recording and production career, when the idea of establishing a studio and the Ariwa label were just beginning to take shape. He set up all his gear, including his first homemade four-track mixing desk, in the front room of his house in South London. With no prior studio experience, he positioned microphones where he thought they should fit and invited local musicians to collaborate. Errol Sly, Ranking Ann, Sergeant Pepper, Deborah Glasgow, Victor Cross, Sister Audrey, his backing band the Sane Inmates and a host of other talented local artists, some of whom would go on to become stalwarts in their respective genres, all contributed to this album, capturing the raw essence of Mad Professor and Ariwa's early sound.”
The tune that floated a million gurns returns on a 32 year anniversary reissue.
Little introduction is surely needed for FSOL’s 1991 rave calling card. It is one of UK dance music’s most instantly recognisable anthems, adored for its magpie-picked collage of vocal samples from Dead Can Dance and Circuit, alloyed to rolling breaks, dub bass and pill-belly synth surges whose effect endures to this day. Even ubiquitous use in synch for film and TV and elsewhere has done nothing to dull the tune’s shine over the decades, and this reissue may well stoke the rush of a new generation.
The original (and best) 12” mix is fully here and ready for duty, along with its nipped 7” edit, while those looking to extend the impact should look to FSOL’s own, spaced-out mix as Dumb Child of Q, or the dub miniature. Honestly don’t ask us about passable and tedious Weatherall mix, but Graham Massey’s take is worthwhile for its kinkier reshuffle, and Hamish McDonald pushes it deeper along the Goa proto-trance dub axis.
Don’t fight the feeling!
Mondo, in collaboration with Konami, present the next installment of the SILENT HILL soundtrack series: the soundtrack of the 2004 game SILENT HILL 4: THE ROOM.
"THE ROOM is quite different from previous games in the series, both in narrative structure and gameplay. Following an all new protagonist who wakes up in a Rear Window meets Room 1408 hellscape. How did he get there? Where does that hole in the bathroom lead? What do those mysterious numbers mean? Cults and ghosts, and of course the eponymous town await our hero, but can he survive, and save his neighbor from certain doom?
The inventive subversion of structure is grounded by an incredible and reliably dynamic soundtrack by Akira Yamaoka: Anthemic rock songs, Trip-hop and ambient droning that bring the world of THE ROOM to life, and... afterlife.
Featuring all new artwork by Ashley Swidowski and Nephelomancer
Composed by Akira Yamaoka
Artwork by Ashley Swidowski & Nephemolancer
Manufactured in Czech Republic"
Prolific French DIY outsider Jonathan Katsav materializes on Heat Crimes for his latest rap deconstruction, using the sonic structures of noise and hardcore to elevate his modernist Memphis-inspired darkside vignettes. One for anyone into Tommy Wright III, Shapednoise, Spaceghostpurrp, Brodinski, Death Grips or Wolf Eyes. Play loud, basically.
Decked out with a cover of a figure duct taped to a metal pole alongside a propane-powered grill, 'Inner War Delirium' is the soundtrack to gloomy suburban malaise - stories of real people and real experiences that Katsav has folded into a multi-character epic. The French producer has used many different names in his two-decade career so far: Lieu Noir, Sniper Bait, Soul Collector, Jonny Teardrop, Junkbox, Paso Inferior and others. But Crave is his most enduring moniker, a place where Katsav has been able to reconcile his love of Southern rap, extreme noise and chilly dungeon synth. 'Inner War Delirium' might be his most complete statement, and serves as an ideal introduction for newcomers intimidated by his vast catalog.
A cinephile, Katsav approaches his music as if each track was a different scene from a movie, using field recordings, obscure recording techniques and different voices to help tell a mangled story. Opening track 'Phyllis' is a memorable title sequence, setting the scene with looped raps, doomy fairground synths and acidic sprays of noise. Katsav's words boom across the ambience like the voice of God, morphing from a sermon into a throaty rap as synthetic string plucks (that remind us of Richard Band's 'Puppet Master' soundtrack) shift from horror soundtrack to trap banger. But Katsav never takes the easy route; his music's made with mood in mind, and just before it can erupt into a crowdpleaser, it disintegrates into eerie noise.
'Backdraft' is the French DIY veteran's chance to lean more forcefully into Southern rap tradition, curling hi-hat trills and saturated 808 bumps around his slurred, distorted drawl. With reversed synths and a base of scraping metal, it's a track that sits comfortably alongside Shapednoise's recent 'Absurd Matter', effortlessly bringing serrated industrial sonics to the kind of grubby, horror-inspired grit Spaceghostpurrp was spearheading back in '08. The title track is a serious highlight, glued together from metal bar clangs, sci-fi electronics and Katsav's own garbled vocals, but the finale 'Skirt the Grove' takes the album to the next level, grounding the album in Katsav's physical reality. Beginning with squashed trap beats and vivid neon synths, its swamped by outdoor recordings; Katsav recorded the track from his car's trunk, letting the rain patter on the metalwork as voices scream in the background. It's terrifyingly effective.
New new age journeyman Spencer Clark meets Sun Araw on his travels in a first new Monopoly Star Child Searchers side since 2018, following a reissue of a rediscovered treasures in ’22
Never uneasy on the ear, Monopoly Star Child Searchers has been one of Clark’s main vessels since disbanding his legendary duo, The Skaters, with James Ferraro, instrumental in renewing and mutating the new age ambient virus in the ’00s, which prevails to this day. While that aesthetic has been commercialised and sanitised by many interlopers over the past decade, Clark has stuck to its psychedelic, modal, explorative principles without fail or compromise, as found on ‘Barbados Wild Horses’, a mesmerising four-part session starring Cameron Stallones aka Sun Araw, a mutual spirit who brings a vibrant percussive energy and lilt to two of its standouts.
‘Barbados Wild Horses’ was recorded during Clark’s stint on the Canary Isles in the Atlantic Ocean, and duly catches prevailing winds of influence from not just the islands’ volcanic landscapes and unique climate, but also elements of ritual trance music from Morocco and Saharan blues, rhythmelodic West African percussions, Japanese electronic fusion music, and the original US, DIY ambient/experimental impetus that has driven his and Sun Araw’s work for decades now.
On his tod, Clark bookends the album with the gauzy lushness of warm breeze melodies and wood drums diffracted with a compelling hands-on quality said to evoke “the lovelorn potential of the fading sunlight”, and a ‘Nightcharcos Punta Brava’ piece where the loops become more unbuckled, gummy with synth spooj and riddled with criss-crossing lines of extended melody. The rest of the album, in communion with Sun Araw, introduces flute fanfares that give way to what sounds like the score to Akira reset in Atlantis, and the spongiform curiosity of ‘Neopreno Antiguo’, like a backing track to an all-inclusive hotel where they water the vodka down with aether.
King of the skronk Ted Milton brings Blurt to an aggy then laid-back one-two in classic no wave style
Since 1979, Gloucester’s Ted Milton has practised a form of no wave punk variously known as Dada-Avantgarde-Jazz or Paranoid Jazz-Mutant Funk. While line-ups have changed over the four decades, poet saxophonist Milton has remained Blurt’s core member, steering the unit in the past decade onto Optimo and more recently working with Wire/Dome’s Graham Lewis as Elegiac.
We’re not sure if this new 7” is a sign of broader project, but it’s nevertheless a satisfying shot when taken on its own terms. ‘Cry’ is the crankier side, with Milton’s wizened vocals sounding out their experience over brittle drum kit attack and dub-smeared sax in time-honoured, propulsive fashion, whereas ‘Be There Now’ plays to his mutant lounge lizard side with echoes of OG NYC no wave and its janky UK parallels simmered down to a prowling groove and wickedly laconic delivery.
The self titled album from Kaytraminé (Aminé and Kaytranada), featuring Freddie Gibbs, Pharrell Williams, Big Sean, Amaarae & Snoop Dogg.
"The album has been a labour of love spanning nearly a decade with the origins of Kaytraminé trace back to 2014, when Aminé unveiled "Not At All," an unofficial remix of Kaytranada's 2013 track "At All." Impressed by Aminé's rendition, Kaytranada extended a hand to collaborate officially, leading to his production contributions on three songs from Aminé's 2015 mixtape, Calling Brio. This release showcases the pair reigniting their innate chemistry, further solidifying their musical bond."
Following the club and label’s 20th anniversary back in 2011, Tresor memorialised its two decades of existence with an exclusive mix from one of its esteemed Detroit connections, Mike Huckaby.
'The Tresor Track' is an archetypal Huckaby weapon, riding roiling synthline flux and optimised 909 percussion designed specifically for Berlin's legendary dancing institution. Flipside, 'Basement Trax' is nastier, hypnotic, no claps, just a tunnelling groove, while 'The Upstairs Lounge' swaggers with almost UKFunky styled drum syncopation in a refined deep Techno context.
Silk-cut, downbeat ambient suss by Japan’s Soshi Takeda, flush with fluttering FM synths and peppery machine percussion in the style of his turns for 100% Silk and Dotei Records
Takeda really catches a breeze behind his sails with ‘Same Place, Another Time’, pushing off into the sublime somewhere between Japanese new age ambient and Larry Heard’s slower strains of deep house, or even Paddy McAloon. Perfect measures of angelic synth voices, restrained jazzy turns of phrase and smoking jacket sashay add up to a dream for the debonairness, giving it come to bed keys on ‘Analog Photography’, and liquid-hipped shimmy rubbed with special oils in ‘Blue Dress’, along with echoes of Balearic Vini Reilly in the tremulous guitar top line of its title tune and blushing FM synth chords of ‘Flower’.
Nick León & Jonny From Space’s Impacto label introduce El Gusano with party-guaranteed, acidic, microtonal spins on tresillo traditions, from reggaeton to cumbia for peaktime rave - RIYL Coffintexts, Florentino, DJ Juanny
Known as Pablo Arrangoiz to pals, and Dj Fitness, Bauzer Vep, Señor Faxwater, Glue Boy, Goiz, among others, on record, El Gusano is the newest and most upfront of his monikers, and represents the leading edge of a prevailing “Latin Boom” that shows no sign of slacking right now. The blend of infectious drive and subtly experimental production on ‘Saka La Bolsita’ also epitomises the sexy psychedelia that makes music from Central and South American artists so virulent and in demand, especially by UK dancers whose muscle memories have been trained and limbered up on syncopated UKF and its offshoots over the past 15 years.
The reticulated banger ‘Donquicon’ galvanises steel tipped rhythmelodies with a microtonal tang, apparently derived from a tuning system “made by finding the overtones of air conditioners”, and which gives the rest of the EP its MD-like zing on the palate, as found in the speedy cumbia knees-up ‘Arrebatao’, and tempered to trancier, dead sexy appeal with female vox on ‘Saka La Bolsita’, and a lip-bitingly curdled acid tone that feels like V/Vm doing dembow house in ‘Alberca’. Chuck in the 111bpm “demonic dembow” of ‘Activao’, one of two featuring his mate Matt Angel, and you’re looking at a straight up winner.
Supersilent’s Ståle Storløkken and young gun drummer Ole Mofjell join leading Norwegian guitarist Hedvig Mollestad in her new trio for a sharp but expansive improv session of jazz-rock fusion hailing Henry Cow, Mahavishnu Orchestra, 73-74 period King Crimson, Squarepusher
Re-energised by the mix of Ståle’s veteran prowess and the driving moxie of Mofjell, Hedvig gives it some proper Fripp and McLaughlin chops across ‘Weejuns’ to get your moccasins tapping to their polymeter. The all Norwegian trio recorded the six tracks across the country between the Munch Museum, and Blå, in Oslo and Stavanger’s Spor5 studio, each capturing a spellbinding sense of space and shapeshifting vibe prone to start one place but end up somewhere quite different.
Opener ‘Go at Your Peril’ sets the tone with languid shimmer of her guitar buoyed by Storlokken’s bed of organ, and punctuated by crisp rimshots and slippery brushwork on their 11 min transition from noirish knife-edge to looser, psyched blooziness, starkly contrasting with their delve into more tumultuous rhythms and cosmic scaping recalling Gruppo cuts in ‘Come Monday’. From here they really get into it on a trio of longer form jams, heavily impressing with their spiral from near Squarepusher-like percussive precisio, via spangled keyboard spectres, to Henry Cow like dervish in ‘Hug That Tree!’, to a far-out excursion in space rock jazz on ‘I’ll give you Twenty-one’, and the rolling threat of ‘Star at your Peril’, featuring Mollestad’s electric lead on fire. ‘Pity The City’ starts as a fine come-down but comes to expend their collective energies in a soaringly emotive, but smartly tempered final half.
Rare Funk & Soul From Miami Florida 1967 - 1974. The good folk at Soul jazz dug through the everglades, and in their continuing 'places i've been' tour of american black music hotspots and highlights, cull seventeen gators for you to wrestle.
TK studios was eventually to spawn the biggest disco crossover numbers of all in the latter part of the seventies, but all you boogie obsessed fiends will just have to wait for volume two for this part of the story. Focussing here on the output of the plethora of small labels handled by TK: Alston, Glades, CAT, Marlin, Deep city, Saadia and several more small, great ones, there's plenty to admire here - Willie 'little beaver' Hale has one of the most singing guitar sounds of all, Timmy Thomas of 'Why Can't We live together' fame in astral shock out mode, the awesome '90 % of me is you' by Gwen McCrae, the heavy 'I Get Lifted' by husband George, Clarence Reid the man who would be Blowfly, and that's just the best known names covered. You just know this is sheer goodness from start to finish, so all brother funkers, soul sisters, crate diggers and breaks' casualties - get stuck in.
Finnish laptop fantasist Atte Elias Kantonen follows last year’s astonishing ‘POP 6 SUSURRUS’ with this new suite of surreal, hi-sheen digital models, a huge recommendation if you’re into anything from T C F to Theo Burt, Elysia Crampton to Microstoria.
Kantonen's remarkable grasp of advanced sound design seems to notch up a gear with every release. His colourful superstructures are balmy, bendable and fluent - architectural, but built from material that’s hard to fully comprehend. ‘A path with a name' centres an a digital narrator who guides us through those simulated topographies like some futuristic host, articulating its contours with a sense of detached but radiant inflections.
Once again Kantonen provides an irrational alternative to Big Ambient: structuring music that's calm but razor sharp, rejuvenating but unsettling. He never resorts to overworked tropes; despite the music fitting neatly into the family tree of digital computer music, it sounds screwed and futuristic, guided by app malaise, open-world RPG topography and an overabundance of information as much as it is technological development.
Harmonies drift like pregnant clouds, a scurry of glassy, percussive whirrs and dissonances punctuate the negative space like malfunctioning cyborgs clipping through an alpha-version dreamscape. Whenever it gets too chaotic or too uncomfortable, there's the narrator's tranquil, synthetic voice to guide you to safety. It’s a bit like a bio-electrical save-state, music that pauses the chaos for a second and allows time to scrub forward and backward like being frozen in a k-hole.
Chicago three-piece Purelink descend on Peak Oil - the label that gave us those essential Topdown Dialectic editions - with their most luxurious and gaseous set yet, fracturing dub techno with foggy ambience somewhere between Deepchord, Shuttle 358 and Pan American.
Formed in 2020 by Tommy Paslaski (aka Concave Reflection), Ben Paulson (aka kindtree) and Akeem Asani (aka Millia), Purelink have spent the last three years establishing themselves as players in the contemporary dub-ambient scene, with 'Signs' developed from compositions the trio assembled for performances across the US. Their sound is soft and billowing, but grounded by bass weight, in places reminding us of that specific turn-of-the-century sound epitomised by the likes of Opiate/Dub Tractor, or even Move D’s excellent Studio Pankow, arcing into the sort of Chain Reaction-fuelled trajectories found on Huerco S’ debut album.
'4k Murmurs' is a standout, betraying a featherlight jazz quality that seems to hang in the Chicago air. The spectre of '90s post-rock isn't far from this one, haunting its faint, echoing percussion and stifled electric piano phrases, but using it merely as colour, fleshed out with narcotic pads and burbles. The faded quiver of dub techno is still there in the background, slowed down and stretched into a gauzy blur, but those dub vapours become more fully present on 'Stadium Drive’, and the euphoric release of 'Pinned'strips the kickdrum of its drive through sloshing electronics, field recordings and transparent vocals.
Unsurprisingly, the trio are just as adept at working in beatless mode, sculpting billowing harmonies into dreamy, clouded shapes on 'Blue'. But the finale 'We Should Keep Going' is where they sound strongest, puzzling out unusual, steppy rhythms that echo into the void, chopped against children’s' voices and faded electronics. It's like 'Geogaddi'-era Boards of Canada blended with a Batu track at half speed - whimsical, but rhythmically impermeable.
End is the seventh album by Explosions in the Sky.
"End is perhaps the “grandest” Explosions in the Sky album – melding the quiet restraint and crushing feel of their early releases with the sonic texturing and ornate experimentation of their later releases, and their increasingly deep film and television scoring catalog, influenced by personal tastes stretching from classical to soul to experimental ambient music.
The title “End” furthers a story arc reflected in the album titles that started with the “innocence” of their first album (How Strange, Innocence), progressed through the idealism and romanticism of their second and third albums (Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever and The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place), followed by the introspection (All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone and Take Care Take Care Take Care) and big-picture focus (The Wilderness) of their most recent albums."
Pharoah Sanders' painfully misunderstood 1976 spiritual jazz left turn has finally been officially reissued and remastered, with the vinyl and CD versions including two additional, tracks "Harvest Time Live", recorded in 1977. Crucial, cosmic material that opened the floodgates for a wave of ambient and new age jazz experimentation in the decades the followed.
They weren't ready for 'Pharoah' when it was originally released - the album's meditative sway of double bass, expressive low and slow sax, harmonium and gentle percussion fell on sharply critical ears, who preferred the bandleader's more virtuosic turns. Listening now, the 20-minute 'Harvest Time' sounds almost prophetic; taking inspiration from Alice Coltrane (the two had already collaborated extensively by the time this was recorded), Sanders crafts a levitational prayer that's informed by free jazz but not trapped by its aesthetic. His usual angular skronk is nowhere to be found on this opening side, lulled into a peaceful warble by Steve Neil's pointed bass plucks and Bedria Sanders' harmonium drones. And while in the mid '70s the track was considered unusual, its mostly beatless flex sounds completely in line with countless reductionist jazz exercises that have followed - most recently from artists like Nala Sinephro and Sam Gendel.
From the label:
"With Pharoah Sanders’ blessing, we present the definitive, remastered version of PHAROAH, his seminal record from 1977, in an embossed 2 LP box set. Alongside the original record, we’re including two previously unreleased live performances of his masterpiece, “Harvest Time," and a 24-page booklet with rarely seen photographs and ephemera, which tell the story of this album and this moment in Pharoah’s life in a way that has never been done before—including through interviews with many of the participants and a conversation with Pharoah himself.
For those of you who already know this record, then you know that its origin story is as elusive as Pharoah was about everything Pharoah. It was born out of a misunderstanding between him and the India Navigation producer Bob Cummins, and was recorded when he was at a crossroads in his career with an unlikely crew. Among them was a guitarist who was also a spiritual guru, an organist who would go on to co-write and produce “The Message,” and a classically trained pianist—his wife at the time, Bedria Sanders—who played the harmonium despite never having seen one. At times ambient and serene, at others funky and modal, PHAROAH radically departed from his earlier work. And it became beloved.
Last fall, we were working with Pharoah on this project when he unexpectedly passed away. At first, it was hard to know what to do. We loved him, and the reason you do all of this is not solely for the music, but also for the person who made it. It’s their personality, their humor, and their wishes that drive you forward. So, we decided to go deep into the research. We set out to create something that showed Pharoah and his music in a new light. For seasoned listeners and new acolytes both, Pharoah will never sound the same."
Suzanne Kraft unexpectedly channels bar italia and on a two-track single
“Sometimes / If I Die” are two songs that have been key parts of the Suzanne Kraft live shows for the last year. The only songs in the set list not taken from the 2021 album “About You”, it felt natural to give them the full release that they deserve. Both tracks carry the hallmarks of SK’s recent work; hazy guitars, horizontally-inclined vocals and fuzzy 4-track pop sensibilities.
‘Sometimes’ was written in the wake of wrapping up ‘About You’ and served as a pole star for future exploration. A song of brotherly love, it simply describes a late evening at a friend’s house talking, drinking, laughing, sharing stories. ‘If I Die’ is a song originally written and recorded by close friend Alejandro Cohen and his band Languis. About the song, SK says, “Ale played a pivotal role in my musical upbringing since meeting him in my late teens. When the time came to play shows and tour I wanted to honour the influence Ale had on me by bringing one of his most beautiful songs along with me”.
Regis chips in a killer, loopy Brum techno style remix for the 5th solo Conrad Pack EP
The ‘Gateway EP’ finds Conrad Pack ploughing a heavy groove of monotone London techno dryness on the SELN Recordings he runs with DJ Gonz since 2022. Its ‘gateway (Version)’ plays to a tunnelling, heads-down form reminding of vintage Milton Bradley, before nudging the drums offbeat in Mike Parker style on ‘Version 2’, and slicing into a shark-eyed warehouse momentum with ‘Turn (Version)’. UK techno pioneer Regis is the ideal candidate for remix with the backspun loopy drive of his ‘Influence’ mix harking to classic ‘90s/early’00s bangers.
Harmonious 1983 debut LP of contemplative ambient jazz guitar works by Hiroshima-via-Tokyo’s Shinsuke Honda, available on its first digital edition and vinyl reissue with Mule Musiq’s ace retro programme Studio Mule
“A masterful guitarist and composer with a well-listened ear, Honda-San grew up in Hiroshima during the middle years of the 20th century, eventually making his way to Tokyo in the early 1970s, where he spent several years as a member of the pioneering japanese language folk-rock group Hachimitsu Pie. after they disbanded, Honda-San spent some time in Japan’s jazz and experimental rock scenes before turning his hand to film and television soundtrack work in 1978.
Five years later, as new age and kankyō ongaku (environmental music) became commercial record label concerns, alty offered him a record deal. over silence = サイレンス (夕映え)’s eight songs, Honda-San collapsed time and space, effortlessly integrating his sepia-toned memories of the rock instrumentals of his childhood with his adult love of jazz, minimalism, electric blues and soundtrack composition.
Although Honda-San went on to have an accomplished career in soundtrack work, along the way scoring the japanese films Target of Lust (1979), Koichiro Uno's shell competition (1980) and Moonlight Whispers (1999), and working on the theme music for the Fuji tv travel program Kazemakase Shin Shokoku Manyuuki, his early work spent decades languishing in obscurity, until it was rediscovered in recent years by record diggers like Tsunaki Kadowaki (sad disco) and Diego Olivas (fond/sound).
Forty years on, Mule Musiq and Studio Mule are very pleased to be able to contribute to the critical re-evaluation of Shinsuke Honda 本多信介’s silence = サイレンス (夕映え) album as an essential desert island disc for lovers of ecm contemporary jazz, steel-string blues and balearic guitar bliss.”
Charmingly queered, Amen-driven riffs on the ‘90s US dance music by Oakland’s Brontez Purnell, produced by Nightfeelings aka Nick Weiss ov Teengirl Fantasy and collaborator of Mykki Blanco and Lafawndah - RIYL Outkast, Max D, Animal Collective
“Dark Entries and Papi Juice Records team up for No Jack Swing, the solo electronic debut of multi-hype man Brontez Purnell. The Southern-raised, Oakland-based musician and writer has centered his queerness and Blackness in projects Gravy Train and Younger Lovers as well as in his award-winning books 100 Boyfriends and Since I Laid My Burden Down. On No Jack Swing, Purnell gives us a love letter to the most beloved (and secularized) of drum patterns – that is, the electronic 808 “Amen Break”. Beginning recording in 2020, Purnell conceived of No Jack Swing as an audio zine of found sound materials: chain letters of instrumentals recorded in bedrooms, poems from boys in France, found gospel tapes from his childhood family Baptist Choir, and the sound of records skipping on his bedroom turntable. No Jack Swing is as much a homage to No Wave and New Jack Swing as it is an answering to the gods of Indie, Electroclash, Disco, and Gospel. Amidst all this background noise, the unexpected occurs: all the niche pretensions collapse to a singularity – the sound of High Pop! No Jack Swing was produced by Nightfeelings.”
Ziúr returns with a blistering, rhythmically damaged post-everything workout featuring contributions from Elvin Brandhi, Iceboy Violet, Abdullah Miniawy, Juliana Huxtable, Ledef and James Ginzburg. It's brain-warping, queered avant-pop that bends in on itself like a möbius strip to sound something like Tom Waits, Toshinori Kondo and The Knife on a demented 3way.
Ziúr’s Hakuna Kulala debut explodes like a firework within seconds: rickety drums snake ritualistically around Elvin Brandhi's vocalisations like a spirited, exhilarating take on Bjork x Karin Dreijer, with added pep. It's punk music on a level, but sculpted with inimitable skill and propelled by impressive technical prowess.
Ziúr has spent the last few years developing a sound that's hard to pin down, moving from punk to deconstructed club to avant-jazz, metal, dancehall and folk music, creating an environment where anything and everything goes. When Egyptian vocalist and composer Abdullah Miniawy shows up on 'Malikan’, for instance, his celestial chants and warbling trumpet are an apt foil for Ziúr's rhythms, making a sound that orbits Trip Hop, but cracked under spiritual weight and creative energy.
Iceboy Violet appears on 'Move On', slurring sensually over jazzy twangs and squeaky percussion; pulling away from the noisy futurism of that sick 'Vanity' mixtape and poking into hypnotic rhymes with hard-swung thickets of trampled acoustic instrumentation. Brandhi appears again on both 'Nontrivial Differential' and 'Cut Cut Quote', channeling early Björk on the former and rebooting riot grrl on the latter, her vitriolic delivery draped across elastic womps, cash register pings and hollow thuds - basically like the Huggy Bear x Dilloway hookup of our dreams.
There are very few synth sounds to be heard on 'Eyeroll’, this time round Ziúr mostly makes use of a microphone and a small arsenal of acoustic instruments to lend the record its swagger, making a salient statement about modern electronic music - while everyone else is trying to wrestle with a new piece of expensive modular gear or a complex new plugin, Ziúr turns leftwards and skips the chase. Instrumental moments like 'Pique', 'Hasty Revisionism' and the bizarre, Americana-flecked closer 'Lacrymaturity' only confirm her resolve, simmering with antagonistic joy.
Truly, there's nowt else quite like it.
This is superb - Hamburg’s krautrock caretakers cast a butterfly net over Germany’s Hidden Reverse with grimoire of contemporary, folkwise neo-kraut spells by Brannten Schnüre, Baldruin, Kirschstein, Freundliche Kreisel and Balint Brösel
Over the past decade an occult impetus has spawned a new movement of folk music and unheimlich electronics in the German undergrowth. Comparable to the emergence of post-industrial acts such as NWW, C93 or Coil in early ‘80s UK, via Nico, and more acutely the preceding, seismic shift of original krautrock and kosmiche pioneers in the ‘60s, who were understandably looking to move beyond traditional music tainted by previous generations, this new cohort seeded a peculiar, against-the-grain style of songcraft that runs counter to contemporary german traditions of minimal techno and tweetronica.
‘Gespensterland’ now appears as an excellent stab at summing up this new scene, focusing on its key proponents with a heady, slow burning and psychedelic brew of lysergic folk and spangled, lo-fi, rhythm-driven electronics certain to prompt further research by inquisitive souls. Opening with Freundliche Kreisel’s possessed, dub-webbed cover of a traditional whose name escapes us (my mum will kill me for this), the set sashays spindly lines of inquiry between Baldruin’s oneiric vignette ‘Reich der Illusionen’, Diablo soundtrack-esque ‘Elektrische Kräuter’ and the mushied tingle of ‘In heimlichen Winkeln’. There’s deeply eerie songcraft of Low Company alum, Brannten Schnüre with the hobbled trot of ‘Disco’, and their evocation of entering a fugue state in Aldi on ’Supermarkt’, while Kirschstein also have us by a thread with the definitive ‘Futura Narkotica’, and Freundliche Kreisel impress again with the C93-like ‘Spannung’ and melting music box of ‘Entwirklichun’.
Get the mushies in and make yourself comfortable for a great trip.
Section 25's rich recording history stems back to their Factory Records debut 7", 'Girls Don't Count' produced by none other than Joy Division's Ian Curtis and Rob Gretton.
Sadly, this latest album comes after the death of vocalist and keyboard player Jenny Cassidy (whose contributions can still be heard on 'Dream' and 'Better Make Your Mind Up'), which gives some explanation for the band's long time away from the recording process. The music on Part-Primitiv is informed by all phases of the band's back-catalogue, incorporating their ealry post punk impulse alongside their later disposition towards electronic music. A track such as 'Cry' would fit into the former category, evoking the kind of jagged yet atmospheric new wave that characterised the work of former labelmates Joy Division, 'She's So Pretty' is one of the band's closest brushes with pop music, though it still seems to be offset by an edge of fury in the vocal delivery and its acerbic synth strings. There are ventures into surprisingly straight-forward techno here too: 'Power Base' comes as something of a surprise with its rampaging drum machine, but you'd have to say that the band are at their most successful with the gritty guitar onslaught of tracks like 'Ludus Cantus' and 'Nick' which both sound as though they could have been created during Section 25's early eighties prime.
Genius, gothic worldbuilding from longtime spars David Toop and Lawrence English, weaving field recordings, electronics and an arsenal of instruments like some quietly delirious fever dream, where Martin Denny and Jani Christou flex in session with Conny Plank at the controls.
English and Toop first met 20 years ago and the two have long maintained similar ideas about the potential physicality of music. 'The Shell that Speaks the Sea' is a realisation of that years-long conversation, with results that articulate Toop’s long held sound vision (here executed with his own voice, electric and lapsteel guitars, whistling, percussion, flutes and electronics) around English’s stunning recordings of various insects, birds and exotic animals, such as the Tawny Frogmouth, an elusive creature whose voice is like a modulating low frequency oscillator.
The duo clearly revel in the uncanny, combining those field recordings with unusual textural diversions and shortwave interference, like a more ambiguous parallel to Jon Hassell's fourth world modelling. Windy field recordings draw us into 'Abyssal Tracker', accompanied by synths and wavering percussion. Somewhere in the distance, Toop's quietly deranged whispers offer a sort of ASMR gore component, far too possessed to sooth the brain. The process is evolved on 'Mouth Cave', with moonlit cricket chirps underpinning ghost flute and bass drum rolls; widescreen and lavishly engineered, the track builds a soundworld that's so physical you can almost see it render before your eyes.
Their more direct tracks play decisively with gothic horror: 'Whistling in the Dark' is a luxuriously experimental chiller that matches Toop's nonchalant whistles with gong hits and eerie, high pitched synth strings; and 'The Chair's Story' is as faded and grim as Thomas Köner's early work, with Toop sounding like a possessed Graham Lambkin or Holger Czukay, whose cult Les Vampyrettes echoes through the album like a distant omen. As proceedings draw to a close, the two refine and elevate, ‘Huanghu’ is a stunning piece of multi-dimensional Gamelan, like some 4D rendition of Autrechre’s Confield played out in your dreams, and 'The Tattooed Back' sets flute vapours against vibrant, hyperreal rainforest detritus.
Background music, it ain't.
Jan Jelinek’s Faitiche label drops in on a milltown in the NW of England for a beautifully evocative lowercase session, like some blurred crossover with Craig Tattersall’s cotton goods universe.
Andrew Black's debut is a perceptive, simmering set of manipulated environmental recordings, with artificial synth tones drowning out brutalist sound sources. Hailing from "one of the UK's post industrial North West Milltowns", Black is used to blocking out noise; his training was in architecture and public space, so the concept of tweaking environmental recordings - manipulating space, if you will - came naturally. Fascinated by the idea of a room's acoustics, he contorts them gently, using "artificially generated frequencies" to dim the dominant sounds in the recordings. What we're left with is a sequence of beatless symphonies that pulse with the energy of the spaces where they were recorded, like a trace echo.
Opener 'Rhyolite' is the album's most generous composition, clocking in at just over 15 minutes. As it gradually unfurls, we hear the original recording - a transmitted vocal like some train platform announcement - with dust and crackles lifted into the foreground. Black slowly and pointedly introduces his hypnotic tones, as if he's pulling out stops on an immense pipe organ, and by the time we've hit the five minute mark, the original recording is a distant memory. 'Soft Fascination' is a gloomier proposition, sounding like an underwater inlet tube, and 'Silica' is the sound of whooshing machinery - the tones play a background role, humming beneath gaseous purrs.
The seventh studio album from the cult Factory Records outfit, Section 25.
Some 30 years after their beginnings as a post-punk act mentored by Joy Division and the untimely death of Larry Cassidy earlier in 2010, the group have re-recorded and remixed ten classic tracks spanning their catalogue, plus a notable remix of their biggest hit 'Looking From A Hilltop' by New Order drummer, Stephen Morris. The most distinct change from the original setup is the inclusion of Beth Cassidy's vocals, which lend an angelic sweetness to their reworked classics like 'Beating Heart' and 'From A Hilltop' and the euphoric Hacienda vibes of 'Garageland'. Best of all is Stephen Morris' 'Another Hilltop' revision, easily the most up-to-date offering here, in a retro-fetishist acid-house kinda way.
Free jazz deity Joe McPhee teams with Danish horn player Mette Rasmussen and Belgian surrealist Dennis Tyfus on this ferociously inventive 2018 Antwerp set. One for fans of Brötzmann and Bennink, Ghédelia Tazartès or Albert Ayler - ballistic, basically.
'Oblique Strategies' is so named because the trio of McPhee, Rasmussen and Tyfus aren't propelled by emulation or correlation. They make free jazz, broadly, but McPhee's post-Ayler expression is almost its own genre at this stage. And although Rasmussen and Tyfus have a history together, rattling and gurgling on alto sax and tape as Bazuinschal, they're seemingly happy to be shepherded by McPhee's blues-y wail. On 'Death or Dinner?', McPhee and Rasmussen sound as if they're screaming at each other, spittle bubbling in the horn's tubing while Tyfus vocalizes in the background. The Ultra Eczema boss's contribution is more profound on 'Sun Gore', processing the two sax players' output and layering it in waves, painting pronounced audio illusions. As McPhee and Rasmussen bounce tangled phrases off each other, Tyfus takes the roll of percussionist, chopping tape-recorded rolls into a noisy, saturated funk and scrubbing it into pitch-wonked moans and hisses.
The side-long 'Light My Fire' is the main draw here though, spluttering to life with Rasmussen and McPhee's breathy smacks and squeaks and scraped cymbals courtesy of Tyfus. Lightly delayed, the horn sounds take on a psychedelic presence, while Tyfus works like a drummer again, tapping irregular rhythms and letting the resonance buzz into feedback. Mid-way through, the horns disappear, leaving a barely-audible vocal that gets more and more intense, chopped and contorted by Tyfus before Rasmussen and McPhee duet again just in time for a blistering finale. Very strong stuff.
Toronto rapper / producer / DJ myst milano. returns with their second full-length Beyond the Uncanny Valley, on Phantom Limb.
"An exhilarating ride through hedonistic experimental hip-hop and house music that reinterprets the breadth of Black electronic music with addictive singular energy. “I offer Beyond the Uncanny Valley as a working anthology of Black electronic music across generational, geographical and genre lines,” myst milano. writes. “I thought a lot about staples of Black art across the world that can be traced back to Africa, and that link the diaspora regardless of where our people end up and throughout all eras.”
A mighty example of this omnivorous and multifaceted awareness of Black creativity, Beyond the Uncanny Valley is a tidal wave, swallowing up Canadian House, Detroit Electro, Chicago Footwork, UK Jungle and Dubstep, Jersey / Baltimore / Philly Club, Southern Hip-Hop and West Coast Funk into the trail of euphoric destruction left by myst milano.’s trademark grimy, sweaty, lusty neo-R&B take on contemporary hip-hop.
Underpinning the album is a mechanised female voice that has possessed the record like a replicant ghost. “When we go beyond the uncanny valley, we reach a state of perfect harmony where the robot has mimicked the human to the point of being indistinguishable,” myst says. “Who are we when we become perfect imitations of what the world wants instead of who we really are, which is imperfect and flawed and a little uncanny, anyway?” While the music of Beyond the Uncanny Valley is human, with real emotion and expression, it occasionally flirts with the beyond, reaching into a near future where reality and technology bleed into one."
Section 25's Dark Light, originally released in 2013.
"Recorded in 2012, Dark Light would be the first collection of new material since the tragic loss of co founder Larry Cassidy in 2010, and marked a return to the smooth electro and synth-pop textures first explored on their seminal 1984 album From the Hip. These echoes are amplified by the presence of co-vocalists Beth and new arrival Jo Cassidy, and a sublime cover image by iconic and legendary graphic artist/designer Peter Saville.
Much of Dark Light was produced in collaboration with remixer Derek Miller (aka Celtic Beitmeisters ‘Outernationale’), and includes new versions of single tracks Colour Movement Sex & Violence and Inner Drive."
Prolific Japanese ambinaut Chihei Hatakeyama shores up on Field Records with a genteel album of acoustic guitar-laced ambient electronica framed around his native land’s close relationship to water, chiming with fascinations of the Dutch label and their recent offerings by Sugai Ken, Monolake, and Imaginary Softwoods
“Matching expansive ambience with environmental sound, Chihei Hatakeyama’s new album continues Field Records’ exploration of Japan and the Netherland’s shared approach to water management. As with Sugai Ken’s 2020 album Tone River, a specific project becomes Hatakeyama’s area of focus - in this case the Hachirōgata Lake in Akita Prefecture.
Previously the second largest body of water in Japan, the government ordered extensive drainage work of Hachirōgata Lake after the second world war with the help of Dutch engineers Pieter Jansen and Adriaan Volker. After the project was completed in 1977, reclaimed land took up eighty percent of Hachirōgata Lake’s total size. As a result, a new ecosystem was established as plants
spread from surrounding areas, bringing with them a wider variety of birds and other wildlife.
Hatakeyama’s approach to this unique subject matter took in field recordings from particular locations around the lake - the drainage channels, the Ogata bridge, grassland conservation reserves and other key areas. The aquatic subject matter and sonic material is a natural fit for Hatakeyama’s accomplished sound, which has featured on numerous solo works for labels including Kranky, Room40 and his self-run White Paddy Mountain.
From the intimate intricacies of the sampled material to the glacial expanses of droning synthesis and languid guitar, Hatakeyama creates a tangible environment which at once reflects the settings around Hachirōgata Lake, while offering the listener any number of imagined scenes to observe in their mind’s eye.”
Self-produced in 2009, Nature + Degree was the first SXXV project to feature new members Stephen Stringer and Stuart Hill.
"Founder members Larry and Vin Cassidy are also joined on several tracks by Beth Cassidy, whose vocal style recalls that of her late mother Jenny on From the Hip and Love & Hate.
Stand-out tracks include Garageland, Singularity, Remembrance and Saddled With Something, the latter burnished by a string quartet."
Far East house assassin Soichi Terada and fellow Japanese club notable Kuniyuki revise a couple of nuggets from Satoshi & Makoto’s inventive exploits on the CZ-5000 synth
The warm and floaty originals are repackaged for the club with weight kicks and the contrast turned right up in the mix for propulsive effect in Soichi Terada’s edit of ‘Coastlines’, whereas Kuniyuki emphasises the Balearic appeal of ‘After New Dawn’ in a glyding mid-tempo Version 1, gilded with crisp keys, and rolled out to the terrace with slinkier bassline in Version 2.