Telas is Nicolás Jaar's 6th full length album, and follows Cenizas from earlier this year.
"Telas (Veils) is multiple things at once. It's a visual terrain created by artist Somnath Bhatt. It's a record by Nicolás Jaar, with key contributions from Milena Punzi (cello), Susanna Gonzo (voice), Anna Ippolito & Marzio Zorio (instrument makers), and Heba Kadry (mastering). It's a digital terrain created by Abeera Kamran where the sounds and illustrations of Telas live in their primordial states. The site was imagined by Abeera, Somnath and Nicolás as a panspermic terrain where no matter -whether existing in thought, physical form or other- has a solid or unmovable origin.
Multiple parts of the music were first played during two shows at The Kitchen in NYC in the fall of 2017, alongside performances by Africanus Okokon and Patrick Higgins."
The French young composer is the link between the most accomplished scholarly music and some radical aspects of noise. Born in Toulouse mid-seventies, he settles in Brussels - which becomes the crossroads of a continuous creation. Currently works and has been collaborating since several years with numerous European ensembles and musicians such as Ensemble
"Unfinished Altar His most recent pieces intimately mix instrumental timbre and sound hybridization, cultivating a certain secrecy around this alchemy. Here more than everywhere else, Christophe Guiraud's new compositions create a dialogue between the times, from the polyphony of Ars Nova to Spectralism, while integrating his noise heritage.
Resolutely an-historical, the last pieces presented here unfold in a trembling stagnation. Performers The ensemble of the pieces creates coherence across a wide range of musicians coming from different places and traditions and from different ensembles - everything is woven together towards a rather spectacular conclusion."
R.I.Y.L. Jason Molina, Bonnie Prince Billy, Bill Callahan, Damien Jurado.
"The raw inspiration for Vague Tidings came from a 2006 DIY tour of the 49th state. It was a trip that went off the beaten path sometimes a bit too far for comfort. Now, over a decade later, listeners find Joe O’Connell aka Elephant Micah stationed at a creaky spinet piano, singing about the Alaskan sky. Throughout, his lyrics take a new angle on a pet theme: human encounters with the natural world. Vague Tidings places these encounters in the American West and, at times, in its sci-fi corollary, outer space. Its imagery draws from the allure of Alaska, the idea of Western prosperity, and the human relationship to wilderness more broadly. Often, O’Connell sings about the goal of capturing and commodifying nature. In poetic sketches of resource extraction industries and dark sky tourism, frontier lust runs amok. Pipelines catch fire and stars disappear, all to the tune of a stark, uncanny Americana.
Vague Tidings is a sustained, hallucinatory rendering of this theme. In style, its eight songs follow a switchback path between foggy incantations and mountain anthems. Made with a small cohort of acoustic instrumentalists, the record is rough hewn, but easy on the ears. To put Vague Tidings down on tape, O’Connell assembled some of his favorite musicians in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area, where he’s lived since 2015: Libby Rodenbough (Mipso) bows and plucks a detuned fiddle, Matt Douglas (Mountain Goats) breathes life into various woodwinds, and Matt O’Connell (Lean Year) sets the pace on a two-piece drum set. Their loose, imaginative playing pushes Vague Tidings beyond the singer-songwriter genre into something richer in texture. Ultimately, this is foreboding but spacious music, with plenty of room for reconsidering life on earth."
Pye Corner Audio reworks a handful of tracks from "The View From Halfway Down", indie survivor Andy Bell's debut solo album.
We didn't see this one coming that's for sure - a set of weirdy analog acid Pye Corner Audio reworks of Andy Bell, the guy from Ride, Oasis, Hurricane #1 and Beady Eye. The TB-303's unmistakable squelch underpins the first two reworks ('Skywalker' and 'Indica'), and recalls Andrew Weatherall's gamechanging collaborations with Primal Scream way back when. 'Love Comes In Waves' is more PCA proper, with a sleazy 4/4 sitting alongside some slippery synthwork and dubbed-to-death vocals.
Fathoms deep tape loop dirt from Muscut and Shukai boss Dmytro Nikolaienko. Properly faded tripbient zoners for fans of Jan Jelinek, Jake Muir, Andrew Pekler et al.
For his Faitiche debut, Nikolaienko excavated his tape archive, finding the most interesting loops and using his collection of analog machines to play the loops like an instrument. To make noise, he would create saturation, and to create flutter, he moved the mechanical head manually over the moving tape. So the tracks are blessed with the haunted flavor of mid-20th Century tape music, but constructed with a more contemporary ear for texture, timbre and trippy abstraction.
Decaying Basinski-esque ambient phrases are looped, carved up and distorted over bleeping arpeggiated sequences and clouds of sodden noise. Sizzling Cluster-esque guitar licks tumble over exotica synths and woodblock percussion, sounding like a collection of easy listening tapes melted into a broken car stereo. It's nostalgic, certainly, but doesn't dwell on bait feelings of instant gratification or fetishization - rather Nikolaienko abstracts his sounds into a deeply sensual cosmic slop of frayed synthesis and half-heard stylistic references.
There's a ton of tape-frazzled ambient music out there, but "Rings" is a thing of rare beauty and another essential addition to the Faitiche catalogue.
Burial’s sophomore LP, originally issued in 2007 only a year after his pivotal debut, is another masterpiece of urban UK composition and innovative imagineering whose sense of melancholic space, pop-wise dexterity and dancefloor yearn has rarely been explored or surpassed since its release.
Where its predecessor was starkly paranoid, mostly instrumental, Untrue was gilded with gorgeous, cut-up R&B and UKG vox, and interspersed with segments of nocturnal reverie that played out like the OST for a yung UK romance that replaced posh, gurning actors with real life road characters and focussed on the spaces between - between the club and home; between night and day; masculine and feminine; waking life and dream life; Maccy D’s and alley doorways; being high AF and coming down.
It was and still is Burial’s love note to UKG and R&G, and by turns gave context and validated those genres for a lot of listeners who arguably wouldn’t have touched that sound, or at least dismissed it as pop pap or with some snide, racist undertone before Burial’s revivalist instincts hybridised it with trip hop and snarling D&B memes.
More positively, however, depending on which way you look at it, this album also opened the endorphin floodgates for a whole raft of f****e garage producers to get in touch with their feminine side, especially in contrast to prevailing, laddish dubstep rave trends, and, since that sound has faded away, it’s not hard to hear this album’s influence in the vocal processing of Mssingno, in the uneven, off-kilter swing and parry of Zomby, the patch-worked constructions of Jamie xx or Evian Christ, or in Deadboy and Murlo’s more boundary-pushing creations.
As with any album that gets a lot of attention beyond its putative scene, Untrue was an unintended red rag to the cynics and rockists - and even garage purists - but for almost anyone who recognises and appreciates that more modest, aching sort of electronic, UK street rave soul, it remains a really transcendent album that still grips like few others.
As we approach the end of 2020, we thought we'd shine a light on a handful of releases we reckon should have had a bit more attention; albums that might have fallen between the cracks for some of you, but which have become missing links between different scenes and feelings for us over the duration of this cursed year. First up is FUJI||||||||||TA, whose iki album offered solace and space for contemplation with one of the most unusual, moving recordings we’ve heard in recent years. Played on a wheezing, self-built pipe organ, Iki unfolds into a set of oddly tuned organ meditations that bridge the gap between sacred music and the kind of smudged vignettes that made BoC's ‘Music Has The Right To Children’ so ingrained in our psyche’s. If there was one record in 2020 that perfectly straddled high art and approachability - this was surely it.
In the works for a decade, ‘iki’ is a unique release from nose to tail. It features FUJI||||||||||TA’s first recordings in nine years, over which time he’s got to grips with a self-built pipe organ that he crafted in 2009. The unique instrument features only 11 pipes, has no keyboard, and is powered by an air pump called a “fuigo” based on a traditional blacksmith’s model. Its sound is simply enchanting, and sensitively brought to life by the artist, who has evidently spent his time well in taming the instrument and bringing out its sublime, warbling harmonic and timbral qualities.
The overarching influence for ‘iki’ is traditional Japanese gagaku, the slow and elegant form of classical court music extant since the 7th century. In this context, FUJI||||||||||TA’s four pieces unfold with a graceful, if abstracted logic, imaginatively expressing a sound that one could easily imagine mirrored by graceful movements on stage, or enacted by much more phantasmic, anime creatures in the mind’s eye.
Within the first minute of ’keshiki’ our eyelids are drawn to half mast and we’re swept into an impossibly fragile and serene headspace as FUJI||||||||||TA gently coaxes out melodic figures over a long, sustained base note while the gentle clack of his pump appears to resemble a knackered butterfly beating its wings for the last time.
With ‘nNami’ the instrument’s capacity for beating low end frequencies really comes into view in a way recalling Eleh’s electronically generated wonders - but trust there’s no electricity involved here! - resulting in some dead uncanny harmonic chaos, and ultimately ‘osoi’, which sounds something like a BoC synth pad slowed down and recreated acoustically, also pulling the same trick on the ear to sublime effect, whereas ’sukima’ perhaps resembles organ music in its most classic, austere form, but in a way as familiar as a fleeting dream.
Unmissable for fans of Kali Malone, Eleh, BoC, Áine O’Dwyer, Yoshi Wada...
Catalog of Dennis Tyfus' exhibition 'Skins, Brains & Guts' that took place at Mieke Van `schaijk Gallery in The Netherlands between 07/11/2020 and 28/02/2021.
"The book contains a one sided 10" of Miles Away (Milan W's sleazy late night jazz pseudonym)'s soundtrack to 'Oi In Eupen'. A film that was shown in the exhibition, with the painter Luc Tuymans as a detective and the most notorious Antwerp bartender (of Café De Kat and De Nor) Marcel De Cleer as a police officer playing the roles of their lifes!"
Posthumous reissue of MF Doom and his disciple Bishop Nehru’s now-classic 2014 collab, including a cool Madvillain (Madlib & Doom) beat and freshly re-cut with bonus bits and interludes
A singular entry in the Doom cosmos, ’NehruvianDoom’ sees the sensei meet his student in a tight pack of songs produced after Nehru supported Doom and Ghostface Killah at the 100 Club in London, late 2013. The results are evidently dominated by Metal Fingers' signature noirish/cartoonish production, but he generally takes a passenger seat on the mic, probably building zoots and nodding appreciatively while Nehru cuts loose in the free-flowing golden era style Doom helped establish with KMD in the ‘90s.
In their own words, Nehru thought that “There's no way to really explain it. It's just kind of its own little feel, its own little sound. I don't think anything really compares to it" and Doom cosigned “It just is what it is.” It still holds water in that post old skool way, sticking to vintage principles of soul and funk samples kneaded in the MPC and spat on, with proper early ‘90s boom bap and tongue knotting wordplay on ‘Om’, and some classic Doom comic book/cartoon vibes in ‘Coming For You’, and his bumping build with Madlib on ‘Great Things’ plus inimitable bars on ‘Disastrous’ when he can be actually bothered to touch mic and show the whippersnapper how it’s done.
After 23 years out of print, FSOL’s definitive early ‘90s ambient-epic Lifeforms now returns to its natural habitat. Serving near-dangerous levels of nostalgia for almost anyone who came thru in the ‘90s, Lifeforms is set to soundtrack myriad afterparties and claim its place on a whole new generation of record shelves.
Originally released in 1994, a few years after FSOL had become a household name thanks to their debut LP Accelerator and its standout rave anthem, Papua New Guinea (and not forgetting Humanoid’s Stakker before it), Brian Dougans and Garry Cobain’s project really blossomed into something else with Lifeforms, where they consolidated a wealth of esoteric ideas and philosophies into what was effectively a new manifesto for psychedelic electronic music.
Whether unconsciously and osmotically absorbed, or dutifully studied and cherished by those cognisant of its brilliance, Lifeforms was almost unavoidably ubiquitous at the time, and inarguably worked its way into the popular consciousness in a way that electronic records rarely do nowadays. It was definitely a product of its time, and now, 23 years later, we can safely say it’s kept its charms intact.
Riffing on then-emergent themes of cybernetics, amorphous androgyny and artificial intelligence, together with nods to classic ‘70s psychedelia and kosmische - it features guest spots from Ozric Tentacles and Robert Fripp, and sampled Klaus Schulze - the results tapped into the era’s undercurrent of aerobic mysticism and eldritch new age spirituality to locate an unprecedented confluence of those styles which has influenced swathes of electronic dreamers ever since.
It’s techno-romantic and tech-gnostic in the lushest sense, a utopian beauty flush with the thrill of unknown futures, yet fringed with an MDMA come-down melancholy that’s totally crucial to understanding that era’s play and juxtaposition of energies. Quite simply, though: Lifeforms is an incredibly enigmatic and life-affirming album awaiting your (re)discovery.
Brittle, DIY pop from the prolific, Glasgow-based experimental awk-folk icon. "Holograph" was assembled in just three days and stands as a testament to Richard Youngs' idiosyncratic sonic world. No comparisons cuz after more albums and collaborations than we care to mention, Youngs just sounds like himself.
Using a 4-track reel-to-reel machine, guitars, vocals and drum machines, Richard Youngs pieced together "Holograph", a brief and perfectly formed shimmer of micro pop that sounds like folk, tropicalia, comic rock and library music ground into fragrant, narcotic dust. The songs presented here might be split into individual movements, but melt into each other like candle wax, rhythms over rhythms and pained vocal into pained vocal.
Youngs' songs are built around light, pinprick beatbox rhythms and airy bass melodies. Over these core elements he drapes the expected jangling acoustic guitar strums and the voice we've been obsessed with since the early days of crucial full-lengths like "Advent" and "Sapphie". Gorgeous, singular stuff from a British original.
Psychedelic sonic alchemy from Danish multidisciplinary artist Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard featuring a choir of 19 clarinets. Absolutely singular stuff that's honestly quite unlike anything we've heard before: sometimes terrifying psychoacoustic drone that's both futuristic and strangely historical.
'Saturations' is a composition that's intended to investigate sound's potential for transformation. Løkkegaard cites the phenomena of being in a noisy, crowded room and listening to a conversation up close, before stepping away and hearing the roomful of talking melt into a single throbbing drone bereft of words and language. He recreates this by multiplying sound, here using 19 clarinets playing the same note, allowing the phasing of that note to create sonic variations and subtle tonal shifts.
This is heady stuff that fits neatly alongside Important releases from artists like Pauline Oliveros, ELEH and Harry Bertoia. Løkkegaard uses natural resonance to force a level of deep listening that makes these long pieces effortlessly engrossing. The first side hones in on the clarinet's almost choral upper register and the flip on the bass clarinet's monastic hum. Both compositions utilise similar techniques, but reflect the differences in texture and vibration when the register is shifted. Really next level stuff.
Dry Cleaning release their debut studio album ‘New Long Leg’ on 4AD. The 10-track long-player, which includes ‘Strong Feelings’ and last year’s single ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’, was recorded over two weeks last summer at Rockfield Studios in rural Wales with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding).
"Following on from their thrillingly taut 2019 EPs ‘Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks’ and ‘Sweet Princess’, ‘New Long Leg’ is more ambitious and complex, with Shaw’s spoken vocals tightly intertwined with the band’s restless instrumentals. With lyrics preoccupied by themes like dissociation, escapism, daydreaming, complicated feelings of love, anger, revenge, anxiety, the kitchen, lethargy, forgetfulness and survival, Shaw says, “the title isambiguous; a new long leg could be an expensive present or a growth or a table repair.” Dry Cleaning was formed by friends Tom Dowse, Nick Buxton and Lewis Maynard after a karaoke party in 2017 inspired a collaboration.
They wrote instrumentally to begin with until six months later Florence Shaw, a visual artist, university lecturer and picture researcher by day - with no prior musical experience - turned up to a band rehearsal armed with reams of her own collected writing and a copy of Michael Bernard Loggins’ Fears Of Your Life to read out over the music. Before long she was the group’s frontperson, contributing words of her own and serving as the perfect foil to the band’s music."
Bambounou launches his own imprint Bambe with four rhythmic cuts.
"Bambe will be a home for passionate minds, roaming freely in a world of eclectic backgrounds. Driven through the ever-expanding horizons of creation and technology, by any artistic means possible. The record comes in a laser cut sleeve, designed by Dimitri Erhard. Additional vocals on 'Up A While' by Manuel Hildebrand. Mastered by Neel."
Head-melting percussion abstractions that occupy a curious space between free improv and experimental electronics. Like Autechre and Mark Fell jamming with the Flower/Corsano duo. So good.
Drummer Will Guthrie and keyboardist James Rushford join forces here for a spontaneous studio session that took place in Nantes, where Guthrie is currently situated. With Rushford wielding a detuned pipe organ and Guthrie complimenting his wheezing dissonant drones with gongs, bells and cymbals, it doesn't take more than a minute or so to fully materialize in the Aussie duo's (real real) world. They balance on a precarious precipice, treading carefully between free improv ideas and the meticulous rhythmic minimalism that we last heard on Mark Fell's recent Guthrie collaborations.
But this is uneasy, organic material and situates itself far from the ice-cold rattle of the post-IDM set. It's not exactly jazz, but Guthrie and Rushford's distinctly spiritual back-and-forth reminds of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders at times, as if the duo are ruminating on duration, tonality and the nature of rhythm. As the album progresses into deeper, darker territory, we're treated to sax from Melbourne's Scott McConnachie, who throws horn screams over Guthrie's manic polyrhythms and Rushford's organ doom on 'Slakes'.
Ending on the gloomy, evocative 'Blue-eyed Boy', the album almost sounds like a Bohren und der Club of Gore record screwed and chopped within an inch of its life and doused in hot tar. Just the way we like it, then.
FDW sets it off on a rolling dub house and deep, percussive techno tip in a sturdy follow-up to his ‘Apparitions’ album for Livity Sound
Weaving his own way thru a rhizome of related rhythmic styles, Forest Drive West can’t help but do it with a properly in-the-pocket flex on the ‘Dualism EP.’ The title may refer to the chimeric nature of the EP’s sides or an eternal tension between the bass heft and deft atmospheric thizz of his style, but either way they’re all classically skooled in the manner that's made his productions a cult property over the past half decade.
‘Dualism’ rides out head high, eyes-down on a stepping techno motion shades away from Substance & Vainqueur, whereas ‘New Day’ loosens up the hips and opens out with lush choral pads. On the other side, ‘Ritual’ pares back to pure percussive patter in a subaquatic techno doe, and ‘Scorpion’ works a delicious groove of slippery, tabla-like drums sure to light up fans of Beatrice Dillon or DJ Plead works.
Slickest jazz-funk, boogie and R&B flavours for the soul crew from a natty posse gathered by London’s ANMA Records
Ranging from old skool soft-porn soundtrack styles to properly turned-out broken beats, the styles on ‘Outlines’ flash come to bed eyes at every stroke. Domenico Sanna & Gio Iacovelli’s deft broken beat budge ‘Evidente (SofaTalk Rework)’ tops out alongside shifty nuggets such as Veezo & F2F Project’s polychromatic extravaganza ‘Anthropocene’, the burnished whirr of ‘Hibiscus’ from Footshooter, and the subatomic syncopation of Contours & Werkha’s ‘Sweat’, with overegged pornfunk in tow from Quiroga & 291out.
Warm, immersive blankets of synthesized drone engineered with academic precision by Swedish composer and sound artist David Granström. Cinematic, but never cloying.
'Empty Room' is Granström's full-length debut, and presents a detailed picture of his studies in harmonic simplicity and spatiotextural complexity. If that sounds like a mouthful, a quick listen will no doubt dissolve any hesitance: the album is almost effortlessly beautiful, allowing delicate chords to overlap each other slowly to play on our emotional triggers, but only gently.
The album's five long pieces blend electronic and acoustic sounds, mostly concentrating on synthesis but occasionally introducing processed string plucks or subtle field recordings. It's all high end stuff, with traces of Cocteau Twins' dream pop shimmer in amongst the weighty, Lawrence English-esque atmospheres.
Inception-like, lower case sound collage and experimentation from claire rousay, drawing out spectral apparitions from a library in San Antonio and conjuring a super immersive sort of magick realism in her debut for Second Editions - RIYL Sarah Hennies, Alvin Lucier, Luc Ferrari
claire rousay’s first vinyl release commits two beguiling works intended by the artist to question the “sensitivities of sound in relation to “the self” and “the other”, equally”, with results that investigate the architecture of social and functional space on one hand, while highlighting a sense of transience and ephemerality on the B-side with a gently disorienting and semi-fictional sound scenario comparable to Luc Ferrari classics.
‘Both’ represents Rousay’s keen ear for peripheral sound and a poetic knack for finding romance and mystery in the every-day. ‘Library’ arrives so subtly that it’s over 2 mins before its presence becomes apparent, as she uses sine tones, microphone and speakers to find the resonant frequency of the Central Library at San Antonio and turn it into a minimalist spectralist space to ponder and get lost in, before she eventually absorbs us into its walls.
By contrast ‘Two Things’ is far more colourful and varied, but also equally dreamlike; manifesting the subtle richness of her inner life with a fantasy projection of exterior street sound - birds, planes, breezes of Hawaiian guitar, keys and private conversations - arranged into an OOBE-like dream-drift out of her apartment in Mexico City. Neither drily documentarian or academic, the effect is more poetically zonked but lucid in a way that we love to drift off with.
Swiftly following up November's ace "Montegod Riddim" pack, Bokeh Versions throw Portmore's RdL together with Mexico City's Jessica Smurphy once more for another absolute burner.
'Streets' is another Bokeh outing for Duppy Gun youngblood RdL, who impresses rambunctiously, circling Jessica Smurphy's Molly-dub riddim with ecstatic autotuned vocals that highlight Jamaica's contemporary flow. Smurphy's beat is already tough (and gets its own time in the spotlight here on 'DesertK&QLove Riddim'), but the vocal version is just a perfect union of vocalist and producer, sounding like an alt-universe nugget of off-kilter pop perfection. Smurphy's lightly discordant production sets yer mind in the danger zone, while RdL takes things back to earth, grounding proceedings with tales of Portmore's grimy reality.
High calibre, FFWD ambient techno and electronic ballistics from Berlin’s Exael, a pivotal producer in the current flux of activity surrounding the whole Experiences Ltd. and West Mineral Ltd. nexus.
Produced on a dying laptop, ’Flowered Knife Shadows’ sounds out a fine contrast of atmospheric pressure fronts, vacillating a rush of ghetto-tech suspension systems with more elusive, mercurial ambient gestures in alternately restless and sanguine styles that could be said to mirror the world’s palpable state of anxious stasis and upheaval. It’s one of the most dextrous volleys yet heard from this scene, and a must check for fans of Exael’s work in the Ghostride The Drift and Critical Amnesia sessions alongside his buddies; Huerco S., Ol, Perila, Special Guest DJ.
Known as Naemi to their mates, Exael leads out with a thizzing steppers remix of Arad Acid’s ‘Koch Metish’ that comes off like Rian Treanor or Second Woman with a head cold, and that sound design also informs the pinched high pressure point of ‘Quikgel’, and the strange, inverted breakbeat rave space of ‘Boneheaed.’ But the sublimated ambient thizz of ‘Fig Jelly’ triggers a change in the wind directions that leads to quieter, contemplative zones in the crackling pulses of ‘Anc’, to the sunken ambient noise floor of ‘Rotor’, and a coy but spiky kiss-off starring Zoe Darsee vocals in ‘Reality’s Sweetheart (Moon Pie Mix).’
Yu Su deftly wraps up her sound at its dreamiest in a sterling debut album of new wave dance-pop with strong influence from traditional Chinese music.
‘Yellow River Blue’ is titled after the arterial river that passes near Yu Su’s birth place in Kaifeng, Henang Province, and unfurls as a sort of autobiographical collection of instrumental stories about “chasing something inconceivable.” Now based in Vancouver, from where she’s launched a series of much loved 12”s for likes of Second Circle and PPU, plus a split tape with CS + Kreme, Yu Su uses the album to reflect on recent years experiences of touring and travelling between cities and countries, expressing a related sense of detachment or temporariness, and feelings of being turned away and, likewise, accepted, or as she puts it “The world is my home and it isn’t, but as long as there is generosity of water and mud...”
Released to mark the arrival of the New Year of the Ox, according to the Chinese Zodiac, there’s a distinct sort of sehnsucht to the eight tracks of ‘Yellow River Blue’, treading the finest line of melancholic wist and FM-toned, new age ‘80s techno-poptimism that perfuses the album with a warm humanity and pathos between the puckered dream-bop of ‘Xiu’, the serpentine electro of ‘Futuro’ and ‘Gleam’, and thru to the Prince-meets-YMO style Linn drum chops and colourful arp plumage in ‘Melaleuca’, and her contemplative downstroke, ‘Dusty.’
Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen – guitar/Ellen Brekken – bass/Ivar Loe Bjørnstad – drums.
"Only nine months after her momentous debut solo album Ekhidna, the guitarist is back fronting her trio. With their previous album, Smells Funny, this explosive and expansive trio experienced a breakthrough of sorts, having gone from strength to strength through five albums since their 2011 debut Shoot!, gathering respect from both rock and jazz camps, sharing big stages with the likes of John McLaughlin and Black Sabbath, and being equally comfortable on jazz and rock stages. Hedvig enforced this breakthrough with Ekhidna, appearing on both jazz and rock best of 2020 lists, like coming in third in Prog´s “Album of the Year” poll.
She was included in Downbeat´s “25 for the future” and received heaps of international attention and great reviews.With the hypnotic title track, the spacious ballad Four Candles and generally a more varied mood, Ding Dong. You´re Dead. is the trio´s most dynamic album to date. That said there´s still enough solid and creative riffing here to satisfy the headbangers, as well as the jazzheads, as they further explore the free and open landscapes most notably started with their Black Stabat Mater album and continued with Smells Funny. As Nate Chinen wrote about "Black Stabat Mater" in JazzTimes: Her trio, which has Ellen Brekken on bass and Ivar Loe Bjørnstad on drums, caught my ear then with its audacious style references: the loose swagger of early Black Sabbath; the density and prowl of peak Led Zeppelin; the expeditionary urge of Jimi Hendrix; the incantatory fervor of John McLaughlin.
As recent performances have shown, online and in the flesh, this trio radiates confidence and have become a surefire hit on the Norwegian live scene. And while we rightly praise Hedvig´s exceptional abilities, let´s not forget how important the rhythm section is to make it all work so well. Ellen Brekken is an accomplished bassist, driving the band just as hard on the electric bass as on the acoustic. Then there´s Ivar Loe Bjørnstad, not your regular rock drummer, not your regular jazz drummer, but in possession of the loose swagger mentioned above.Hedvig first picked up her mother´s acoustic guitar at ten, before discovering a whole new world through her father´s jazz and rock record collection as a teenager. She was given her first electric guitar and amplifier as a confirmation present."
Extraordinary debut study on race and sexual politics in the USA from emergent composer and Harvard music professor Yvette Janine Jackson, yielding an unmissable introduction to her immersive style of electro-acoustic composition and radioplay opera forms - RIYL Matana Roberts, John Cage, Terre Thaemlitz, Sun Ra.
Contrasting one side of haunting atmospheres evoking the feel of below-deck on a slave ship, with one side of politically pointed concrète and jazz spasms, ‘Freedom’ is among the strongest debuts in this field we’ve heard in years. The latest from the musical wing of NYC’s Fridman Gallery, Jackson’s visionary first record is like little else in the contemporary sphere, placing a hugely varied electro-acoustic palette of strings, keys, electronics and vocal samples at the service of a timeless, avant style of storytelling, and with a personalised depth and purposeful pacing that leaves us rapt. As one may be able to gauge from its themes, it’s not an easy listen, but it is one that divines a portent strength in its poignant sadness and the artist’s skill in theatric suggestiveness.
Critically ‘Freedom’ manifests as part of the artist’s search for an “African American aesthetic for electroacoustic music that speaks to all people in order to foster conversation about contentious subjects.” The first side spells out a quiet but truly harrowing 22 minute transition from creaking drones, whispers and whimpers, to seasick string dissonance and noise with a patience that evokes the scale and terrifying nature of the ordeal suffered by African slaves, and with a queered coda that really sets it from a modern perspective.
Expectations set, Jackson upends them on side B’s mix of liminal electronics ruptured by original jazz arrangements and the sampled equivocations of prominent African Americans religious figures on LGBTQIA+ people. The voices of comedians and a president are presented, mangled and straight, in initially hypnagogic forms that become more fractious, juxtaposed against passages of rolling drums recalling Varese’s ‘Poème Electronique’ and a quasi-speed Parmegiani as much as Milton Graves works, or particularly the piece’s touchstone; John Cage’s 1942 radio play ‘The City Wears a Slouch Hat.'
Jackson is pushing the prism of African American electroacoustic music in fascinating, exemplary ways that we can only hope opens the door for more artists to follow her lead. For now. we have this absolute marvel to pore over and absorb.
Hybrid grime futurism from Hyperdub's young Scottish prodigy; like Aphex flicking prawn cocktail crisp crumbs at girls on the bus.
'Lothian Buses' is the next chapter in Proc Fiskal's shifting story, highlighting his progress as a producer as he continues to absorb ideas from trap, jungle, eski, chiptune and footwork and disintegrate them into a neon shimmer of disembodied electronics. Opener 'Thurs Jung Yout' sounds like a trap roller being played simultaneously against some elegiac new age ambient tripper, all fuzzy electronic harp melodies and Chop snares warring against each other. But the young producer goes back to his roots on 'Choco Frito', munging sino grime hallmarks with silly vocal samples and splattery hi hats. The lead synth line here almost sounds like bagpipes and we can't assume that wasn't completely intentional.
When he begins to add some amen spice, Proc Fiskal really shows his debt to Richard D. James; 'Scarab Aloph' sounds almost like a cheekier "Syro" offcut, all glassy detuned chords and 'Freeman Hardy & Willis Acid' breaks. It's nowt new but it's slicker than a well-used chip pan.
Natural Sciences let the chain off a series of gnashing rhythms by Honduran-American producer Dalibor Cruz - a big tip for fans of Low Jack, Muslimgauze, Kelman Duran, Nazar
Hailing from Chicago and acutely cognizant of his Honduran roots, Dalibor Cruz has been finessing a blend of raw, grimy electronics and restless polyrhythms via his BloodLine Recordings over the past 12 months. He now serves his first international release via Manchester’s ace, explorative label Natural Sciences, playing hard into their roving punkish tastes with eight tracks that land squarely between Muslimgauze and Kelman Duran’s noisy, freehanded sampledelia, and the DJ-ready swag of Low Jack, but with a deep rudeness of his own.
Technically his 2nd album after a self-released CD in summer 2020, ‘Riddled With Absence’ speaks to the solo process of producing during lockdown, and communing with others via samples and ancient, Afro-rooted rhythms. It’s all fire from start to finish, whipping Merenegue, Salsa, Cumbia and Punta percussive styles into devilish tornados of drums and noise bound to ignite the best dancers.
From the reverse-spiralling helixes of ‘Debase’ to the jump-up noise of ‘Seen As Scum, thru whirring mechanics recalling Singeli and paso doble patterns in ‘Never Sort Yourself Out For Them’, to a sort of hyper Afro-Latinate footwork in ‘Rhythm Gore’, and the album’s glorious, air-stepping finale it’s abundantly evident this stuff is the epitome of forward tresillo tekkers.
Trunk stump up Roger Webb’s extra musty, swinging symphonic soundtrack to Val Guest’s tawdry looking 1972 sexploitation flick starring Corrie’s Johnny Briggs
‘Au Pair Girls’ harks to the era of wink wink, nudge nudge and all that creepy shite, and is the kind of stuff that used to crop up your granddad’s trews as well as, inexplicably, Channel 5 programming late at night and deep into the ‘00s. The soundtrack’s genuinely funky jazz bits and striking cues are surely the only good thing associated with the film and smug boomer era.
“They come from here, they come from there....Au Pair....with swinging hips and swinging hair....Au Pair. Hell yeah! Au Pair!!! Brilliant unreleased easy, cheesy, groovy and swinging' soundtrack to the "sex comedy" starring Gabrielle Drake, Richard O"Sullivan, Me Me Lay and all sorts of other people. Brilliant.”
A new entry into Thomas Fehlmann's lengthy catalogue, Gute Luft collects music from The Orb member's score to the 24-hour documentary film 24h Berlin.
The productions assembled here sound boldly modern and executed with Fehlmann's familiarly expert ear. This being a documentary about Berlin, it's inevitable that the depth charge low-frequencies of dub-techno play an important part in the soundtrack's narrative, but there's so much more to the tracks here: you'll encounter some Pop Ambient style material - as on the heavily compressed string sections of 'Falling Into Your Eyes' - and lots of textured melodic content, something you'll hear spiralling around within virtually every corner of this album.
'Wasser Im Fluss' is a highlight, at once bringing to mind Pole, Biosphere and Basic Channel, yet there's something about the way it's all put together that's specific to Fehlmann. The same could be said of 'Speeding', with its neon-lit deep bass convulsions and gaseous, swirling ambient details, or the heavily layered, spongy shuffle of 'Cityscape'. Gute Luft flows brilliantly as a fully fledged full-length, and despite being conceived as a soundtrack it probably ranks as one of Fehlmann's finest solo albums.
Ooooooh shiiiiit!!! Omar S does Detroit jit for the the first time since his debut album, FXHE style, with Parental Advisory lyrics to boot
‘Music For Hot Babes Only!’ is a stone cold classic entry in the FXHE cosmos, with the glyding vocals and 150bpm+ groove of ‘Ain’t No Real Pimp’s Any’Mo’ landing square between his early jit joint off ‘Just Ask The Lonely’, the hip hop boogie badness of his ‘Side-Trakx’ volumes, and t the side of Sherard Ingram’s Urban Tribe templates. Seeing as he’s cutting loose, Omar also takes the opportunity to get wild with the dub chords in the frenetic, scudding arrangement of phasing synth riff and ruggedest rimshots in ‘Cadillacs and Dinosaurs.’
Unmissable if you know what’s good.
2021 repress of this classic UK house record, produced by Jaime Read.
"A staple in many a House DJ's bag since the 90s, the name LHAS (Larry Heard Appreciation Society) should give you serious clue on what to expect here. BIG TIP!"
Tune-Yards' fifth studio album, ‘sketchy.’
"Tune-Yards’ last release, ‘I can feel you creep into my private life’, was a self-reflexive question mark at the end of a decade of outspoken, polyphonic indie music. From 2009 to 2018, Tune-Yards (both Merrill and her partner and collaborator Nate Brenner) released four critically acclaimed albums, travelled the world relentlessly to play live shows and composed the psychedelic score to Boots Riley’s surrealist cinematic masterpiece ‘Sorry To Bother You’. “We had really been non-stop hustling,” Merrill reflects. “And when we’re hustling, we’re complicit in all of the systems that I really don’t believe in.” Interrogating these systems and her role within them had left Merrill feeling heavy with grief and lost about how to move forward.
The duo pressed on, inspired by the Beastie Boys Book and Questlove’s Creative Quest and began jamming daily for hours in their home rehearsal studio “like athletes.” They ditched computer screens for live instruments (Merrill on drums, Nate on bass) and before long full songs started to emerge. Unlike the lyrical introspection of previous outing ‘I can feel you creep into my private life’, on ‘sketchy.’ Merrill balances self-inspection and reflection with bombastic rallying cries, reminiscent of the furious tones of early days Tune-Yards. The result is a colourful and joyous record with lyrics that cut to the bone. “I started remembering that people come to us to be entertained, to move, to feel joy. And together, I think, we can wake up.”
A keenly awaited, dead clean vinyl edition of Muslimgauze’s mesmerising ‘Narcotic’ finally lands as part of Staalplaat’s unending archival salvo for the late, great artist.
‘Narcotic’ first came out in 1997, in the years before his death from a rare blood disease. It falls deeply into the latter phase of his oeuvre with richly atmospheric dubbing and some of his most lip-smacking, syncopated rhythms executed in a way that came to define his best work, and would exert a huge influence over the likes of Vatican Shadow. Seriously, the mastering job on this one is HD compared with previous releases and makes for an ideal entry point for anyone who’s been wondering where to start with Muslimgauze’s sprawling catalogue.
Plunging us into his soundworld with the intoxicating mix of field recordings and super wide, spatialized drums in ‘Medina Flight’, the album proves why it’s often hailed among Muslimgauze’s best with a slow burning fever dream sequence of events between the ambient arabesque, ‘Ramadan’ and scenes of slithering drums and oozing acidic synths punctuated with ricocheting gunfire in ‘Effendi’, while ‘Nazzareen’ feels as though we’ve slipped off down some ginnel from Cheetham Hill into a private backroom session in Ramallah. The opiated wooze of ‘Gulf Between Us’ and his beautiful duet for 303 and santur (?) ‘Saddams Children’ hold up among his finest ambient vignettes, priming for the album’s three-part title tune and again, some of his most enchanting sampledelia brought to life as we’ve never quite heard it before.
1975 Smithsonian Folkways debut from No-No Boy, the musical project of Vietnamese American singer and scholar Julian Saporiti.
"Named after the year Saigon fell, Saporiti investigates his own family heritage as well as life in WWII Japanese internment camps, immigrant detention centers and refugee camps in 2020, and other stories of immigration that illustrate the complexities of becoming American. His songs are the epitome of folk storytelling in the modern era, as he interweaves histories with field recordings from the sites of collective trauma and fragments of Asian American musical tradition, from jazz to rock, to choral music). With his plaintive, direct voice, he takes listeners on a deeply human journey through the Asian American experience in the US."
Probably the only album this year to feature a solo piano meditation imagining that heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua paid them a visit
“The collection of instrumental piano-based pieces, Kirby says, is the outcome of “trying to accept the duality of the world, and through that find peace”. Though he recorded Conflict about a year ago, Kirby decided to spontaneously release it in response to the escalating global crisis, with the hope that it might help fortify the listener and induce inner calm.
In the process of creating Conflict, Kirby imagined scenarios as a lens through which to examine his central concept, such as “the fallout from war, and how sometimes in the wake of its destruction it leaves a beautiful weathered silhouette of what came before it” (‘Iconic Portraits Mutilated During the Spanish Civil War’ and ‘Walking Through a House Where a Family Has Lived’). ‘Pilgrim’s Trail’ and ‘Inside A Ruin’ reflect on how “devotion comes at the cost of pain”, and ‘Waiting Alive in a Canyon’ and ‘Wabi’ revisit the natural themes of My Garden to explore the indifference of nature.
‘Anthony Joshua In My House (Anthony Joshua at Home)’ sees Kirby wondering, “What if heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua was in my house? I was thinking about the apparent ease and charm he possesses, juxtaposed with his potential for violence, and how he rises to his highest self in an atmosphere most find horrifying!” Finally, he asks how the next generation will embody virtue on ‘Who Will Replace Brandon Lee.’
Intended as a balm for this time of crisis, Conflict provides a welcome opportunity to step away from the breakneck pace and profound anxiety of the news cycle, and take a moment instead to listen and reflect.”
It is happening again: DJ, producer and dial records co-owner Lawrence returns with his fourth album for mule musiq.
"The berlin-based artist wrote nine new arrangements specifically for “studio mule”, the new audiophile listening bar that mule musiq's head-honcho toshiya kawasaki recently opened in shibuya, tokyo. it features an exquisite vintage hi-fi sound system, a small record shop, craft liquor and beer as well as an extensive natural wine collection.
“toshiya's wine and listening bar was the inspiration for the project. i followed the idea of listening to music in this (for me imaginary) place on a magic vintage sound system, slightly drunk with an always special drink in my hand! the music is therefore also very eccentric and “tipsy”, improvised on acoustic instruments, synthesizers and computer, combined with recordings i did in berlin's central tiergarten park.”
Now almost a decade old, this 2012 album is the soundtrack to acclaimed filmmaker Grant Gee's documentary about German writer WG Sebald. It’s been out of print since 2013 and remains a lesser known gem in The Caretaker catalogue.
'Patience (After Sebald)' is a multi-layered film essay on landscape, art, history, life and loss - an exploration of the work and influence of German writer WG Sebald (1944-2001), told via a long walk through coastal East Anglia tracking his most famous book 'The Rings Of Saturn'. Much like The Caretaker's oeuvre, Sebald's works are particularly focused on themes of memory, both personal and collective, making Kirby the ideal candidate for the score.
Rather than thrift shop shellac, the source material for 'Patience' was sourced from Franz Schubert's 1827 piece 'Winterreise' and subjected to The Car perplexing processes, smudging and rubbing isolated fragments into a dust-caked haze of plangent keys, strangely resolved loops and de-pitched vocals which recede from view as eerily as they appear.
Fans of Deep Forest and fancy hats may well be feeling this slab of Italian cheese and cosmic slow disco chug by Andrea Barbieri and Claudio Brioschi’s Tambour Neri
“Like a shadowplay for endtimes. Tamburi Neri, a duo from Milan, joins Worst Records' strange catalogue with their debut LP. Soberly named « Ombre », it's an organic entity filled with worry. If we discover again with pleasure their signature scarce and elegant style which drew the tension of their first releases, everything here is sewn as a delicate echo chamber.
Hiroko's voice responds to a relentless male spoken word, with invocations sometimes vaporous and sometimes lyrical. It's a poetic canvas suspended over the void and balanced by hypnotic rythms on one side and synthetic avant-garde minimalism on the other. This eighth panel of Worst's catalogue sets itself as a contemporanean piece far away from genre identifications and beautifully possessed in equal freshness and enlightening maturity.”
‘Island’, the latest album from Oscar-nominated composer and songwriter Owen Pallett.
"Almost entirely acoustic, ‘Island’ begins with 13 darkened chords and was recorded live at Abbey Road Studios with the London Contemporary Orchestra. The introduction is the sound of waking up alone and on the shore of a strange land. What follows is a shimmering and luscious orchestral album that draws across the full breadth of Pallett’s discography, from ‘Heartland’’s Technicolor to the glittering, fingerpicked guitar that marked Pallett’s first records with their trio, Les Mouches.
In addition to Pallett’s Grammy Award-winning work with Arcade Fire, Pallett’s commissions have included string, brass and orchestral work for Last Shadow Puppets, The National, The Mountain Goats, Christine and arrangements for Frank Ocean, Caribou, R.E.M., Linkin Park, Sigur Rós, Taylor Swift and the Pet Shop Boys. Since the release of ‘In Conflict’ (2014), Pallett has earned an Oscar nomination for their film scoring work on Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ and an Emmy for Sølve Sundsbø’s ‘Fourteen Actors Acting’."
Lukid’s rave alias gets fizzy on a hardcore jungle, bleeps ’n breaks, and proper rave tip
Riding deft on 25 PSI of Air Max pressure, the 3rd Refreshers volume follows a keenly sought-after couple with something of a bridge between Lukid’s Rezzett gear and his collection of early ‘90s rave tunes. The fidelity is upfront and kicks in the right places, but dosed up with a woozy lense comparable to Actress and Teresa Winter, variously applied to skilful emulations of DJ SS-style ’94 breakage in ‘Way U Smile’, a Doc Scott-esque bleepy hardcore hip hop stepper ‘Do U Remember’, the belly and head rush of ‘Bells Whistles’, and what sounds like Steve Gurley gone weightless in ‘Moving Up Dub.’
Lvcchesi comes off like the mutant spawn of Actress and D’Arcangelo on a strong 4-track EP of asymmetric, greyscale electro with Glasgow comrades Full Dose
Also known as An Gleann Dubh on a series of 12”s for DJ Superherb’s Full Dose, Lvca Lvcchesi switches to his surname for this crafty set backed with a perfectly druggy late night remix from S&H. The title tune scouts scorched post-warehouse terrain, sweepign up offset acid loops and cold atmospheres into a gutted garage techno groove straight from the Actress playbook circa ‘Ghettoville’, and ‘Vespucci’ places a vocoder with laryngitis over nimble 808 programming like some cranky Egyptian Lover offcut, with ‘Ominino’ dialling up the crunch in a strong late ‘90s techno-electronica style (don’t call it IDM) harking back to D’Arcangelo at their cranky best. We’re not sure S&H are, or what their initials stand for, but they pull the EP straighter again with fine use of cooing female R&B sample on the supple darkroom electro of the remix.
Underrated 1997 collection of soft-focus jungle and Detroit-influenced Plaid-adjacent bouncefunque.
Back in the mid-1990s, before Lee Norris went solo and started the Neo Ouija label, Metamatics was a duo with Dominic Kennedy, releasing a run of influential 12"s on the influential Clear imprint. "A Metamatics Production" collects those early plates and rattles through the duo's fuzzy take on '90s dance formula, fudging the edges of jungle, techno and electro. It's gorgeous stuff that still holds up decades later, mostly because it's out on its own; the most obvious reference point would probably be the duo's Clear labelmates Plaid, but Metamatics were more skeletal and undoubtedly funkier.
Spiking the essence of Bukem et-al's resoundingly popular liquid d&b, Norris and Kennedy carve out slippery grooves on jazzy low-enders like 'Swimmer' and 'Raytracks'. 'Skunk Me' and 'Two the Point' meanwhile point at the pad-rich Midwestern shuffle of Norris's Norken project with elegiac synth-house moods and fathoms-deep beatbox loops. The album is at its best though when the duo let their love of day zero electro and vintage electro pop to permeate the bedrock. 'Dope for the Robot' still sounds completely fresh, augmenting an almost Drexciyan robotic squelch with feather-lite melodies and clattering beats, and 'Piece it Together' settles into a sexy downtempo groove that lays the groundwork for Metamatics' next run of releases. Well good.
Romeo Poiriér and Michael Marshall’s choice morsels of balmy ambient resurface on a maiden vinyl voyage with Kit, who were also behind Poirier’s coveted ‘Plage Arrière’ sojourn
Neatly timed to arrive in the glistening wake of Roméo’s ‘Hotel Nota’ side for sferic, his five year old trip with long time pal, Marshall acts like a nano-break for the mind in light of the times, offering 40 minutes out of your usual environs and supplanted into daydreamy wooze. As ever, comparisons to Jan Jelinek are warranted with Romeo’s involvement, but we also surely reminded to the likes of To Rococo Rot at their sweetest, melodic, Joe Hishashi’s city-pop, or Huerco S.’ frayed ambient textures, all simply adding up to a very pleasant and endearing dose of sunshine sonics for your lunch break.
The ‘Atelier’ tracks were recorded in Strasbourg, combining trumpet, guitar, saxophone and array of vintage synths in gently playful, instrumental grooves that bubble with warm promise, characterised in the air-stepping charms of ’Stras5’, while their ‘Altitude1’ number was realised in Brussels and features deliciously hypnagogic sax liens by Devon Loch. Finally the ‘Ferme’ tracks were captured out in the hills of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines and follow their nose for smudged micro-house into sublime, jazzier climes on ‘Ferme6’ and dope Detroit beatdown in ‘Ferme7.’
Autechre drop ‘Plus’, the ruder counterpart to their brooding ’Sign’ album, rinsing squashed drums and harsher textured tones in a newly aerated, noisier sort of sound design.
If you were left glowing but still hungry for some rufige after ’Sign’, this album’s for you. Their staunchest North Manc C++Boy attitude is in spine twisting, neck snapping effect on nine unusually raw cuts that bleed dank air and squeeze melody from scuffed and scaly surfaces. It’s definitely still AE, but allowing for more space and finer graded textures in the mix, from their juiciest sloshing basses, to the rusted drums and iridescent, aerosolised timbres in a subtle new mutation of their sound.
As we commented with ‘Sign’, it feels like they're haunted by their older forms on ‘Plus’, but still inexorably pulled toward a futuristic unknown. We can feel those opposing forces at action in the stunning hyperstep dynamics and almost nostalgic ken of ‘X4’, which is one of the album’s durational highlights along with the totally absorbing concrète setting and avian chirrups of ‘ecol4’, and the quicksilver techno slipperiness of ‘TM1’, while the likes of ‘7FM ic’ deliver sharper shocks of impossible limb movements, and ‘marhide’ epitomises a noisier approach with straight-jacketed electro extruded thru some kind of imaginary airlock, saving bittersweet touches for the extended melodic thoughts of ‘lux 106 mod’ and the aspartame flavour tang of their beatless roller ‘ii.pre esc’, which is bound to become a favourite.
Super-tasty new age/ambient synth reissue from Andrew Wilson aka Andras Fox aka A.r.t. Wilson.
Originally conceived as the soundtrack to Rebecca Jensen and Sarah Aitken's contemporary dance piece 'Overworld', it was first self-released as a cassette in Australia before hamburg's Growing Bag Records stepped in to give it a vinyl life. Working under the mantra/subtitle 'The Body Says What Words Cannot', Wilson coaxes the sweetest synth pads and burbling drum machine patter in ten parts, breezing between cloud-like ambient shapes and a quintessentially Antipodean take on Balearic bump interspersed with the most romantic little vignettes. It's dead charming if you're susceptible to pastel coloured daydreams about coconut strewn beaches.
Horsegirl are a noisy rock trio from Chicago composed of Penelope Lowenstein, Nora Cheng and Gigi Reece, all 17-18 years old.
"Inspired by the shoegaze and post-punk sounds of the ’90s US and UK indie underground, in their year together they have played contemporary art museums, all ages venues, open mics and house parties.
First written during a Chicago teacher’s strike in 2019, ‘Ballroom Dance Scene’ presents Horsegirl's glassy guitars and vocal counterpoint, like a cross between Yo La Tengo and The Raincoats. The competing vocal melodies cascade over one another, detailing the lives of various fictional characters. With a title inspired by a misread product name sold at their local grocery store, ‘Sea Life Sandwich Boy’ was the first track Horsegirl wrote together and comes across like Pavement or The Breeders (or, perhaps more accurately, The Amps)."
Expanded edition of Dots & Loops, Stereolab’s fifth studio album and for our money their best. It was the first Stereolab album to mostly ditch the motorik/Neu! obsessions that had been a trademark since their inception; instead the sound here is dominated by odd time signatures wrapped in electronic, lounge and jazz textures, once again produced by Tortoise maverick John McEntire, with Mouse on Mars taking over duties on three of the tracks to showcase the band's most complex set of recordings to date. Remastered from original tapes, this new expanded edition includes a bonus disk of unreleased demos, outtakes and alternate mixes - which serve to highlight just how great the songs on this album are. Stripped of all the studio trickery, they still hold up - they hold up very well.
22 years old and Dots & Loops still sounds like a defining album of its era. Released in 1997, it found the band’s motorik fascinations upended by mostly electronic, loop-based foundations, in places augmented by echoes of Tropicalia and Sean O’Hagan’s psychedelic Farfisa. It’s an album that’s both exotic and rooted in the everyday detail with which they made their name over the previous decade - with that growing electronic dimension joining dots between their kraut roots, Pharrell /Timbaland and the more complex electronic music of the day typified by Autechre, Aphex, Mouse on Mars and so on.
Recorded in Chicago and Düsseldorf, Dots & Loops bridges a unique American-Euro influence - Bossa Nova and ’60s Euro pop are still major touchstones - imbuing proceedings with a deceptively light feel; while further listens reveal an elaborate work, with almost every track featuring complicated and layered arrangements. “Parsec” is space-rock meets drum and bass; “Brakhage” marries a minor key bass line to clinking vibes and a shuffling beat; the segmented, 20-minute “Refractions in the Plastic Pulse” is sunny and appealing, yet intricately constructed.
The dividing line between the band’s first phase and what would be its more experimental latter period, Dots & Loops is an intricately woven and complex masterpiece that's somehow breezy and evocative, like nothing else.
Prophet Noir is a 6 track 12" of dystopian industrial dancehall experimentalism created by Twin Cities Sound System Feel Free Hi Fi featuring the vocal powers of eclectic Brooklyn MC Eddie Hill and vagabond lyricist Manic Times.
"Feel Free Hi Fi began in 2016 when Derek Maxwell and Shawn Reed met in Minneapolis. Reed’s vast Jamaican-centric vinyl collection met Maxwell’s passion for designing and building custom speakers and the collective was born. Their mutual appreciation for worldwide mobile sound system culture, music and history would be their driving force.
As the physical sound system evolved, the duo began performing live dubbed vinyl sets throughout the Twin Cities. The next logical step was the creation of original rhythms cut to dub plates. During this time of experimentation Prophet Noir began to take shape. Originally conceived as an instrumental project, the record took a different direction with the addition of Eddie Hill and Manic Times on vocals."