Autechre, aye, casually flip SOPHIE’s ‘BIPP' heater into a sort of freestyle pop diamond to get 2021 off on the right foot. We’re massively feeling this...
Way back in 2013, the addictive electro-pop additives of ‘BIPP’ helped position SOPHIE among the decade’s thrilling new talents after introductions made on the ‘Nothing More To Say’ 12”. SOPHIE has since admitted to a formative love of Autechre in interviews, so a certain circle is closed with Æ’s mix of ‘Bipp’, 5 years in the works and emphasising the original’s latin freestyle pop essence with sizzling hi-hat trills and that ultra vocal hook, but here deployed slower and with a rugged assymetry - more goretex than latex? Quite honestly it’s the best thing we’ve heard from Autechre in ages - properly forward, blunted business with a squashed Gescom vibe that pushes a lot of our buttons all at once.
"In 2015 when potential remixes of BIPP were first floated the unequivocal response from SOPHIE was “No remixes..” a long pause followed “..unless it’s Autechre”. We asked, and five years later an email from Autechre arrived “sorry this is so late, hope it's still of some use”. An Autechre live show recording from a Numbers show in 2005 had first inspired SOPHIE to source the equipment used to craft new music including BIPP, LEMONADE & more. The BIPP Autechre mx is 3 minutes 33 seconds long, stripped back and loose. Sounding like Autechre paying tribute to some serious late 80’s influences. The duo's interpretation channels an imagined transition point between NY electro and UK street soul, that pitched down SOPHIE vocal reconfigured into a wanna-be Latin Freestyle Natasha King, jiving over a deep slice of TR-606 funk technology.”
Russia’s Flaty does wipe-clean ambient romance and quicksilver IDM rhythms for Soda Gong in the slipstream of his ace 10” for Gost Zvuk
‘GENERIC Targz’ is the St. Petersburg, Russian artist’s 2nd LP under his best known moniker. Spellbinding with a mesh of impeccably crisp synth contours, vaporous pads and pointillist patterning, it speaks to a conception of modern Russian electronic music that has emerged in recent years thru the prolific Gost Zvuk label, which is also home to some Buttechno gear.
‘Free-Floating ambeint-electro structures such as ‘Elevation’ share hyperspace with dreamy, swinging gestures such as ‘Init Ignit’ and generative machine funk in ‘Self Assembled’. But he also has a knack for razor sharp Autechrian or Richard Devine-style incision, as proved in the rapid, insectoid flux of ‘Thread’, and the dazzling acrobatics of ‘Horn of Plenty’, which are kept in balance with tenderly melodic, crystalline pieces like ‘Praaai’, ‘Key Keeper’, and the NYZ-like ambience of ‘Pokrov.’
Japan’s Calax push all the right buttons with reissue of sex educator Cora Emens’ ‘80s tape of sensuous experiments, compiled by her then partner, and Fluxus co-founder, Willem de Ridder.
Remastered by Cora herself for this first reissue of a tape that only exists in the sound archives of the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, ‘Cora’ is a necessary introduction to her intoxicating, gently steamy sound, recalling everything from a lighter adjunct to Cosey Fanni Tutti’s ‘Time To tell, thru to the naif melodies of Tara Cross or From Nursery to Misery, and the heady slow-burn psychedelia of Teresa Winter. It’s really quite a special one that, despite existing on YouTube for a few years now, and its stellar avant garde roll call including the pivotal figure de Ridder, Alvin Curran (Musica Elettronica Viva) and Enno Velthuis, has really flown under the radar of most listeners due to its extreme scarcity on physical format, until now.
The music was all recorded during an era when Cora was married to Willem de Ridder (other releases are credited to Cora de Ridder), and when she was beginning a career as sex educator and performer that spanned music, as well as working on the first erotic sex-line services in Holland. Perhaps surprising, there’s actually nothing quite explicit inside, but rather Cora implies her subject thru inference and sensuality, stroking synths and naked drum machine pulses under what could be heard as an early example of ASMR vocals, as with the shushed intimacies of ‘Come On’, or the more elusive nature of ‘Telephone’, whilst the likes of her naif, Dutch language singing on ‘Earplay’ reminds to a more pagan, bucolic sort of eroticism, and ‘Lonely Tune’ emotes a sort of longing tristesse. Together with its non-musical elements, as in the field recording textures of ‘Running’, and the room recording of ‘Decadenzia’, and thru to the way it edges on sleazier lounge/erotica vibes in ‘Through Me’ this one’s every bit a lowkey overlooked classic of the ‘80s tape paradigm.
Nairobi, Kenya’s KMRU debuts on Mego with a suite of serene ambient scenes after emerging with Four Tet-like electronica releases in 2019 and recently starring on ‘Alternate African Reality - Electronic, Electroacoustic And Experimental Music From Africa And The Diaspora’
Known as Joseph Kamaru to his pals, KMRU was hailed by RA as one of ’15 East African Artists You Need To Hear’ in 2018 and is a regular performer at Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda, beside performing at CTM and Gamma Festival. For his Mego release ‘Peel’ it appears he’s been listening to label hero Fennesz, the Austrian experimental guitarist, or Will Long aka Celer, with whom his tracks share a certain, longing melancholy in their long, sighing arrangements of glistening and creaking ambient pads and mournful post-rock/cienmatic elegance.
“The subtle calming atmosphere within Peel belies the compositional prowess as layers of delicate sounds wrap around each other creating a hybrid new form ambient musics both captivating through it’s textural depth and kaleidoscopic patterns. The track titles lend themselves to the themes and mood set within: Why are you here, Well, Solace, Klang, Insubstantial and the title track. This is a deep heartfelt journey with a new strong voice being expressed through the means of organically presented electronic ambient sounds, one which reveals further layers on repeat listens.”
Carsten Nicolai embarks on a new series of works with this new full-length, commissioned to score Richard Siegal's choreographed performance "Oval" and influenced by astrophysics phenomena, cinema and scientific events. Not easy listening then.
At this stage in his career, Nicolai has his methodology nailed down like a dining table on a cruise ship. His precisely-engineered infusions of drone, noise and glitch have inspired a generation of producers, and truly, few do it quite like him. So although "HYbr:ID I" sounds familiar, the only person he's really aping at this point is himself. And Panasonic.
The album is saddled with an expectedly heady concept; it takes its track names from "static images portraying scientific events" and is inspired by "cinematic visual techniques". Which is to say, it's kinetic, spacious music made out of soundsystem-shaking slabs of wavering bass and chattering pinprick rhythms that encourage movement as much as they suggest abstract imagery.
Nicolai has always had a knack for crafting art that inhabits an area between audio and visual, long before it was de rigeur - "HYbr:ID I" continues that tradition: it's intensely visual music, even without accompaniment, and sounds like a blend of his more upfront material (best represented on the "Uni" series) and his textured "Xerrox" ambience. It's excellent, expectedly, like a VW Passat. Play loud, maybe in the Passat?
Arcane, serpentine post-punk and etheric neofolk gems from the shadows of the late ‘80s and mid ’90s surface on Stroom
Pairing works by Stephanie Payne’s obscure project, Dark Arts with Malka Spiegel's legendary Minimal Compact, Stroom make an apt comparison between the acts’ shared grasp of mood and space on ‘Songs of Earth’.
Dark Arts’ works come from her 1995 album ’Something Once Whispered To Cava’, as released by School For Berberian Music. ’Songs of Earth and Sky’ locks in a slow clash of glinting metallic percussion and flutes that conjure a sense of sleepwalking into battle, while ‘Jola Dool’ feels to echo Muslimgauze’s more etheric, less noisy, work of the same era with its drifting choral drones and lilting rhythmelodic cadence.
Minimal Compact’s pair from 1987’s ‘Lowlands Flight’ album are very much of a skool shared by the likes of The Cocteau Twins, Pump and Vazz during that era; toiling cold, reverberating drum machines and gut-revving bassline with keening bittersweet dissonance in the masterful ‘Low Flight’, and slinking off down the darkest vein of Robin Guthrie-like guitar enquiry in the icy negative ecstasy of ‘The Conference of Snakes’.
After suppressing his club instincts on the ‘Chameleon’ album, Anthony Naples gets loose and up-for-it in a sort of dembow deep house electro mode.
‘Club Pez’ dispenses five cuts of high grade, hip-swivel gear of a sort not heard from Naples since pre-pandemic times. The wobbly canter and square bleeps of ‘Bonk’ sets the agenda with something like a 2021 update of Nu Groove’s original ’91 NYC house templates, and ‘Drops’ keeps it below the belt with rudely offset jakbeat wiggle. The gritted drums of ‘Pez Anthem’ tuck into a bolshier sort of acid rolige, lit up with scudding rave stabs, and ‘Uni Vibe’ heads off on a proggier trajectory, with the sublime closing stroke of ‘Solero’ harking to DJ Python’s modern classic ‘Dulce Compañia’ album, as issued on Naples’ Incienso label.
UK street soul label V4 Visions is under the spotlight of expert diggers at Numero Group and Rush Hour for this killer 5-track EP, highlighting that incredible meeting point of so many elements that were crucial to the develolment of club music in the capital during that era - you can trace echoes of everything from Joyce Sims to Rhythim is Rhythim, Kurtis Mantronik, Strictly Rhythm, Soul II Soul, Mr. Fingers. - in an era that was right at the cusp between stereet soul and jungle hardcore - what a vibe.
Operating between 1990-1994, V4 Visions was home to a cross section of UK artists operating at an inner city confluence of lovers rock, deep house, swingbeat, and jungle, of the sort that one might hear in a late night blues or smaller parties away from the big raves. The vibe is dripping with soul, adapting Afro-inspired US and Caribbean vibes to a Black British experience, with results zipped up and tucked tight in the pocket between Ashaye’s jazz taught slow jam ‘Dreaming (Original Mix)’, and their guest vox on Insight’s deep house pearl ‘Fantasy - Insight Mix’, thru to Rohan Delano’s purring gem ‘Inflight’, the propulsive subs and gilded vox of Julie Stapleton’s ‘Where’s Your Love Gone’ (later covered by Kylie innit), and the deep, bouncing piano house of ‘Now Where To Run - Instrumental South Side Mix’ looping back to Ashaye.
Next level 30 minute session of ritualistic percussion jams from blessed percussionists João Pais Filipe and Valentina Magaletti, alongside producer Leon Marks. Two trance-invoking, long-form time melters that wouldn't be out of place in one of Offen Music boss Vladimir Ivkovic's notoriously heady mid-morning DJ sets. Fans of Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force, Nihiloxica, This Heat, Donato Dozzy, Beatrice Dillon or Muslimgauze don't wanna miss this one.
Swiftly following the "Luxury Variations" EP on Trilogy Tapes comes "Communicator", a weighty celebration of the kick drum's energetic, repetitive motion. The album expands the dubwise short-form sonics of its predecessor, allowing its two tracks to build slowly, zeroing in on almost imperceptible rhythmic shifts. Both tracks hover around a danceable central rhythm, with each percussionist skillfully tripping and stepping around each beat with the grace of ballet dancers performing a lavish, complicated routine.
Aside from drums, there's only gaseous traces of any other instrumentation; occasionally a synthesizer burbles from an adjacent floatation tank before swirling into the next dimension. It's like This Heat's paradigm-shifting avant post-punk, Miles Davis's "On The Corner"-era repetitive funk hypnosis or Donato Dozzy's sparse, groove-heavy progressive techno world-building, but stripped to its bare essentials. There's nothing out of place here, no needless frills and no pointless posturing: "Communicator" is drum music for heads.
First official reissue of Alice Coltrane’s gorgeous and hard to find 1982 meditation tape in its previously unheard original, unadorned organ and vocal mix, issued according to the wishes of her son, Ravi Coltrane. If you're into anything from Alice's uber-classique 'Journey in Satchidananda' to Kara-Lis Coverdale's Minimalist masterpiece 'Grafts' - this one's just utterly unmissable for what ails ya.
Perhaps the purest iteration of Alice Coltrane’s devotional music, ‘Kirtan: Turiya Sings’ captures the modal jazz innovator at a spiritual high water mark, chanting Sanskrit over free floating organ chords in a beautifully self-contained style. Originally issued on tape by Avatar Book Institute in 1982 in a fuller mix featuring synths and strings, this is the first time it’s appeared in its more stripped down, and arguably more affective, version with thanks to Alice’s son Ravi Coltrane, who’s helped bring it it to light via the legendary Impulse! label.
As name checked by a panoply of contemporary greats, from her nephew Flying Lotus and his Brainfeeder comrade Kamasi Washington, to Solange or Shackleton; Alice Coltrane’s music is a microcosmos unto itself, and, like Sun Ra’s catalogue, it can be difficult to fully grasp her scope. The relative simplicity of ‘Kirtan: Turiya Sings’ thus exists as one of the most welcoming entry portals to her sound, and is quite literally titled after her Sanskrit name, “Turiya” as in short for Turiyasangitananda, and with “Kirtan” referring to the act of “narrating, reciting, telling, describing, of an idea of story.”
Working quieter shades away from the ecstatic ‘Ocean of Love’ devotionals by Alice’s collaborator, Panduranga John Henderson (issued by Luaka Bop in 2017), the eight songs of ‘Kirtan: Turiya Sings’ speak to a richly immanent sort of pan-soul for the ages, offering mesmerising, enamouring space for meditation, or, on a more secular level, a worldly sense of serenity and peace that’s totally needed right now.
Trampling industrial dub sparked off with gruff poetry by Kingston’s Nazamba, fresh from duties on The Bug’s mighty ‘Fire’ album
Doing it for London/Tokyo co-op label, Riddim Chango, Nazamba rides out on a scowling production revolving pummelling subs and cybergoth pads built by Hiroshi Takakura’s Element, who commands two brooding cyber digi-dub instrumentals on the back side, both replete with scoop-worrying levels of subbass.
Stellar picks from the MFM camp; 21 obscure, outward-looking and disco-leaning peaches plucked from Europe 1980-91, including big highlights such as Nightfall In Camp’s sultry smudge of computer tones and Lena Platonos-like vocals in ‘Cada Día’, a heavily seductive swooner ‘Listen Over The Ocean’ by Violet Eyes, and the brassy electro swang of Sound on Sound’s ‘Depression’
“Uneven Paths: Deviant Pop From Europe 1980-1991 is the second multiple artist compilation on Music From Memory and is compiled by record connoisseur Raphael Top-Secret and label man Jamie Tiller. The compilation brings together twenty one tracks from across the continent; exploring the more unusual and unexpected sides of Pop music during that period.
Drawing material from cult experimental artists such as Steve Beresford, Brenda Ray and Bill Nelson alongside one-off independent musical projects rescued from he fringes, ‘Unusual Paths’ focuses on a selection of tracks that go beyond the confines of mainstream pop music but which also transcend expectations of much of the ‘experimental’ music of the time. This is music with one foot in the avant-garde and another foot firmly rooted within the sensibilities of Pop; where jazz musicians detour into Synth-Pop, Punk bands break into Boogie jams, and student doctors jam out on off melodies with synthesisers and drum machines during their night shifts.”
Ruddy, stepping dubs from Talinn, Estonia’s Nikolajev and sparring partner Dennis K. Okoth aka Kidega
‘Dub 1’ comes heaving from a smoky echo chamber with charred chords and sawn-off rave vocals on a taut slow/fast bass ballast. ‘Dub 2’ plays it easier and on the offbeat with a sort of skudgy dub boogie swivel landing somewhere between early Hype Williams and Seekerinternational.
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra's Jessica Moss paints another evocative nighttime scene on her fourth album "Phosphenes". Using violin, vocals and electronics, she creates visceral, ghostly soundtracks that are certain to appeal to fans of Deaf Center, Stars of the Lid or Marcus Fjellström.
Jessica Moss has added her signature sound to so many essential artists it's almost pointless listing them all. Most memorably, she toured with Vic Chestnutt's band, co-founded Black Ox Orkestar, performed alongside Carla Bozulich, and experimented with electronics with Growing's Kevin Doria as Total Life, but that's only the half of it. On 'Phosphenes', however, the most striking aspect is Moss's ability to harness the power of restraint, allowing minuscule strokes and small touches do the heavy lifting.
Epic three-part composition 'Contemplation' makes up the bulk of the album's first half, showing off Moss's instrumental skill without any kind of fanfare. Her playing is the central focus, but her knowledge of production and electronics infuses her productions with subtle elements that never detract from the instrumental sounds. On 'Let Down' and 'Distortion Harbour', these elements begin to strangle the strings as if a transition is taking place; by the end of 'Distortion Harbour', light starts to crack through the fog. A child's voice burbles up from the silence: "don't be sad, I love you."
Gorgeous debut from Wess Seven - longtime key member of FKA Twigs’ band - expressing a singular soul sound strung with piquant tunings and sung in honeyed tones, highly recommended if yr into Coby Sey, A.R. Kane, Twigs...
With credits dating back to Twigs’ ‘LP1’, Wess follows in the footsteps of bandmate Cy An to emerge from that creative milieu with a unique slant on the intersection of avant-R&B, textured dream-pop and classical chamber composition that places his ‘Dusky Walk EP’ in proximity to Mica Levi x A.R. Kane. It’s one of those introductions that reveals a considerable mind at work bending their influences into a distinctively modest, yet inventive form of self expression.
Puckered with instant ohrwurming potential from the opening notes of ‘Same Sad Eyes’ thru the waking dream sequence gauze of ‘The Stillness’, Wess conveys a sort of suburban, peripheral angst and melancholy that edges to the right side of the emo-grunge tropes that we reckon too many seem to be pushing in the wrong direction right now. His songs are sparingly constructed with immersive attention to spatial detail and iridescent timbres, each pruned into designs that shapeshift myriad styles, but are ultimately beholden to nothing but a sense of modern soul.
The bittersweet melody and vaulted harmonics of ‘Same Sad Eyes’, the smudged spongiform brass and blistered, cosmic electronics of his chamber-like nocturne ‘Tightrope’, or the Sade-meets-A.R. Kane kiss-off ‘The Stillness’ will remain lodged in your head long after the music stops.
Collecting archival recordings and presenting them alongside studio material from 2019, "Bugandan Royal Music Revival" provides a valuable potted history of Bugandan court music. It's stunning work, showcasing the different instruments, styles and techniques that remain the backbone of Uganda's traditional culture.
Assembled to go alongside a documentary by brothers Basile and Jules Louis Koechlin, this deep dive into Bugandan cultural music is completely out on its own. The kingdom of Buganda was founded in the 14th century, and music played a crucial role in the royal courts; the music was centered on a drum ensemble known as the mujaguzo, and over its existence the court was said to have collected over 300, each drum with its own significance. Players from across the kingdom would flock to the court to show off their skill to the king, and ended up forming ensembles that took turns holding residence. These musicians would play Bugandan lyre, harp, hand-made gourd trumpets, tuned drums and flutes, assembling the different instruments in various ways to tell layered stories of their kingdom's sprawling landscape.
But in 1966, as the country struggled after decades of British colonial rule, the Ugandan Army attacked the palace of Bugandan king Muteesa II. The musicians were either killed or fled, and in the aftermath the Bugandan kingdom was dissolved. Over the following years, sounds that had played such an important role in Uganda's cultural history fell out of favor, and while the kingdom was re-established in 1993, it's taken time to re-introduce them to contemporary listeners. The Koechlins' documentary follows their attempt to track down the players keeping the sound alive, culminating in a studio visit to capture the music for future generations. Even without the visual accompaniment, it's powerful and emotional material.
The sheer breadth of the sound here is remarkable. Most of the recordings are contemporary, but placed alongside earlier archival recordings from the 1940s and 1960s, it's possible to hear just how this music has survived an existential crisis and how it's changed. It's such a treat to absorb this spread of instrumentation that's survived from the middle ages and developed into complex rhythmic music (peep opening track 'Mujaguzo'), rapid microtonal tuned-drum virtuosity ('Kifwe kze kya'), heartbreaking harp and vocal jams ('Okwagala omulungi') or complex flute music ('Omusango gw’abalere'). There's just so much here - each listen reveals something deeper and more delicate. An unmissable treat, honestly.
Analogue bubblebath suds and chimes from multi monikered electronic maestro Ed Ruscha - founding member of 90’s shoegaze band Medicine - wrangling his imaginary ensemble The Only Thingz for a full-length follow-up to his sought-after 2018 entry for Good Morning Tapes' limited series.
‘Ed Ruscha V & the Only Thingz’ is exemplary of the sanguine, etheric spirit and bucolic nature that’s blessed all Eddie Ruscha’s body of work since the early ‘90s; from his earliest shoegaze work with Medicine, thru his lolling disco tracks as Secret Circuit with Beats In Space, to electronic pop with Scott Gilmore. But it’s under his own name (which he shares with his pop-art pioneer father) that Ed really comes into his own, sketching out scenes flush with a colourful warmth and gentle headiness that effortlessly lends itself to Good Morning Tapes’ crystal clear mindset.
Each of the eight pieces here seamlessly caresses stressed heads with a blend of electronic synthesis and field recordings, veering from groggy pastoralism to swaying ambient house, luring listeners into a sullied conception of ambient world-building. The wilting chord petals of ‘Slumber Punk’ recall the most blissed of AFX’s SAW works, while the lilting triplets of ‘Frog Man’ feels like a siesta in the Balearics, while ‘Tree Ring Circus’ and ‘Sight Gag’ offer a lush smush of raga-esque acid dub, before heading into the gorgeous new age intentions of ‘Waves Over Stones’.
Bassbin bullying halfstep tramplers from Compa for Mala’s dubstep bastion, Deep Medi
His first readily available shot since 2018 comes with stack-shuddering subbass rumbles shackled to slouchy snares and rusted claps on ‘Midn Control’, whereas he whips it tighter in a style recalling the iciest early Random Trio bits by Cyrus and Omen on ‘Emergence’. The salient info on ‘Stronghold’ is all packed well below the waist and practically won’t be perceptible without decent speakers, and ‘Armada Bleeps’ dips low again with the boot-quake bass tucked under craftily alien electronic artefacts.
Adroit Italian chamber ensemble Alter Ego meet electronic music’s blacksmiths Pan Sonic in the first unveiling of their 2005 recordings.
Mika Vainio & Ilpo Väisänen’s Pan Sonic should hardly need introduction to you lot, while Alter Ego (Manuel Zurria, Paolo Ravaglia, Aldo Campagnari, Francesco Dillon, Oscar Pizzo, and Eugenio Vatta) may well be recognised from their 20 year run of collaborations with a stellar number including Gavin Bryars & Philip Jeck, Alvin Lucier, William Basinski, Alvin Curran and Terry Riley. This 2005 collision of energies and frequencies was initially conceived in 2004 by the former’s Fausto Romitelli before his untimely passing the following year, when the work was picked up by some of his closest friends, the composers Atli Ingólfsson, Giovanni Verrando, Yan Maresz, and Riccardo Nova, who developed four pieces based around previously recorded works by Pan Sonic.
The final recording was completed by Alter Ego in collaboration with Pan Sonic themselves, whose extreme high registers and guttural bombast underlines and swarms around the skilled instrumentalists for a visceral and shocking example of contemporary chamber music. The sounds of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano mesh with electronic tonalities in two extended works, sometimes imperceptibly, and at others clearly the work of one or the other set of bodies. From tense, barely there beginnings it goes as raucous as it gets in this neck of the avant-classical woods, forging unusual fusions of dancehall-driven bass drum swang and sharp shards of flute and strings, and sometimes recalling the outlandishness of Pan Sonic’s Blast First Petite sides with Keiji Haino, but puckered with devilishly careful classical swerve that veers between restraint and frenzy.
It's impossible to overstate the unique brilliance of Arthur Russell's posthumous release, 'Another Thought'.
Originally issued on Phillip Glass's (then Decca financed) Point Blank label (CD only) a year after Arthur's tragic death in 1993, Another Thought features a mostly bare-boned Russell, his vocals mixed with cello plucks and bowing, occasional percussion and other subtle touches. Almost all the tracks are exclusive to this release, two tracks appeared on the Soul Jazz comp and here you also get an alternative take on the classic 'In the Light Of The Miracle’.
We're not ashamed to admit shedding a tear or two listening to the sheer life-affirming qualities of this record over the years. It's not sad, it's just heart-breakingly beautiful, stripped to the bare essentials of Arthur's voice and cello dappled with effects and backed with his own drum machine, plus congas, sax and keys from longtime collaborators Peter Zummo, Elodie Lauten, and Mustafa Ahmed, among others. In the most transcendent sense, it's music that occupies its very own genre, a magical soundworld all of its own, ready for you to visit when times are good, and perhaps even more so when they're bad.
Although it’s been available on CD, first on that 1994 pressing for Point Music, and later in 2006 for Philip Glass's Orange Mountain Music, the magic is arguably enhanced on wax. It's like finding a new, secret entrance to your favourite place in the world. Even passing Russell fans will likely know a few of its charms such as 'This Is How We walk On The Moon', 'Another Thought' itself, or the alternate version of 'Keeping Up' from 'The World Of...', and we envy those of you about to encounter it for the first time.
Fleet-footed soukous, calypso and funaná styles from Dutch producer Niels Nieuborg aka Arp Frique, lit up by a coterie of vocalists; Mariseya, Americo Brito, The Scorpios and Orlando Julius
Following his cherry-picked selection on the ‘Radio Verde: Cape Verdean Dancefloor Music’, and a pair of well received albums, Arp Frique taps into a classic sort of musical dialogue between the tropics and the lowlands , melding tight programming with bundles of soulful vocals and lithe instrumentalism. His recent single ’Nyame Ye’ opens the albums embarrassment of colourful, grooving riches, swinging from hip-house styles in ‘Way Ye Me’ and ‘Paa’ reminding of Teknokrat’s’ work with Les Choc Stars Du Zaire, to hi NRG zingers in ‘La musique du soleil’ and ‘Ecoutez’, thru vibes reminding of Francis Bebey’s synth bops on ‘Oi Quem Q’eu Nos Oi’, and SA bubblegum flavours in ‘Baba Love.’
High grade hard drum bangers from Fraxinus, long in the works but finally ready for hungry clubs on his newly minted label; Powerplant
Loaded with buffed up new iterations of gear first previewed years ago, ‘Position [Displacement]’ is a definitive solo statement by the UK producer who came thru mid decade with the Her Records gang, helping shape their omnivorous approach to techno as informed by UKB, Jersey/B-More, and dancehall. These six new zingers find their feet in the midst of a scene ripe for his style, deploying meticulously engineered and propulsive bullets that are bound to pique interest across the increasingly trampled-on borders of club music.
As played by M.E.S.H. as fair back as 2017, ‘Source Code’ appears here, subtly retuned for optimal wallop and swagger, while the lethal dancehall techno payload of ‘Pass One’ is absolutely gasping for big room devastation with devilishly timed dynamics and cavernous, offset kicks. On a more playful flex, ’115 (Kondo)’ is defined by its twirling, laser cut lead and effortless rolige, while ‘Larch’ feels like Oni Ayhun doing hard ass gopnik techno, replete with accordion, but his craftiest rhythms are saved for the two bookends with oodles of tightly wound drums in the Leonce-like pressure of ‘Overland’, and the insectoid sidewinder ‘Laced.’
NYC’s deep house and techno torch carrier gives it some elegant pomp and haughty dark room canter
‘Julius Caeser’ is one of those Levon turns where you can clearly hear his studious roots in New York’s avant-classical minimalism, especially in its phasing motif, whereas ‘Years of Your Life’ tends to his craft for heavyweight club finesse with slinky but pounding bass pressure and slippery triplets that get under the skin and swivel dem bones.
45th anniversary reissue of Alvin Lucier’s momentous and mesmerising debut: a landmark of the late c.20th avant garde, unavailable on vinyl for 20 years. Massive RIYL John Cage, Robert Ashley, David Behrman, Annea Lockwood
Originally released by the legendary Cramps Records in 1976, ‘Bird and Person Dyning’ hails the point when the Lucier, like his peers of the Sonic Arts Union (David Behrman, Gordon Mumma, and Robert Ashley) really came into his own, offering hugely playful, and considered, responses to the challenges previously laid down by John Cage, and forming a singular new body of work in the process. Predating Lucier’s better known and totemic piece ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’ (1981), the two works on ‘Bird and Person Dyning’ highlight an earlier, spellbinding iteration of his fascination with acoustic phenomena and auditory perception, using a mix of Cageian strategy and poetic personal wit to explore the nuance of textural contrasts and, with it, the meaning of sound’s materiality.
Quite unlike anything before it, the A-side’s “grotesque jukebox” work ‘The Duke of York’ bears traces of the vocal explorations that would inform ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’. Reciting from an assembly of assorted texts of “whole songs, speeches, arias, selected excerpts from books, letters, poems, films, plays, TV series or any other vocal sounds, including non-human ones” the composer’s voice becomes progressively processed from subtly stereo-swept hush, to deeply uncanny warble, and ultimately a proto-noise mulch over its 20 minutes. With hindsight, we could draws parallels with what TG were doing at the time, but there’s a more elegant nature to Lucier’s work that bridges the more disciplined, oblique work of Cage with something more dreamlike, that relishes in the grain and psychedelic nature of the sound itself.
The B-side’s ‘Bird and Person Dyning’ however showcases Lucier’s obsession with space, and particularly in relation to the body. By way of binaural microphones, he captures the pre-recorded sounds of birdsong phasing and creating interference patterns as he moves between the speakers, with the slightest tilt of the head causing shifts in feedback timbres and volume. The results are on the cusp of harshly bittersweet and even visceral, uncannily sharing the artist’s POV in a way that will play with your own proprioception and question your grasp of place in the world. Again, there are possible links to be drawn with the likes of NWW’s feedback experiments on ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ some years later, and we can possibly hear this piece as a natural bridge between Messiaen’s work with birdsong, thru the tones of Clara Rockwell’s theremin, and the alien scapes of early electronics - but Lucier is looser and more enchanting with his subtly tactile sense of freedom.
Chiastic Slide - the glitch blueprint - endlessly imitated, deconstructed and worshipped, now a quarter of a century old and still capable of shaping the narrative.
We’ve said it before, but the period that followed Chiastic Slide was a weird one in electronic music, there were just no other records that shaped IDM in quite the same way. This rubs people the wrong way, but you have to imagine the level of influence Chiastic Slide exerted. - when we opened our shop in 1998 there was just a seemingly relentless and endless flow of records made in its shadow - we even spent a weird afternoon watching on as sean grabbed a stack of them and played them on our listening deck, offering quick appraisals of things like EOG on Djak-Up-Bitch (he was into it) and Funkstörung (erm, cant remember). Anyway - we were just over saturated with the stuff.
25 years later Chiastic Slide's influence is just as evident, but the gap between its rhythmic genius and the legions of imitations seems almost laughably wide. ‘Tewe’ flows with the kind of liquid energy that’s completely at odds with the monochrome, staccato constructions you’d find on something like a Markant record, while the industrial clank on ‘Cichli’ connects directly to Alan Wilder and Martin Gore's mallet-on-sheet-metal brilliance in a way we just didn't clock at the time.
And on it goes - ‘Recury’ is a submerged sci-fi tearjerk of the highest order, ‘Pule' is pure, arpeggiated synth voodoo, 'Rettic AC’ is like some alien concrète flashback, ‘Calbruc’ stop-motion turntablist attack - it’s just all a perfect vision of some imagined future that hadn't quite finished rendering yet.
Lawrence English teams up with Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart once again for another voyage into ambient music's punishing underworld. It’s their gloomiest slab to date - unfurling nightmarish Lynchian drones and seismic, overdriven rumbles that sound like a Thomas Köner and Wolf Eyes soundtrack to Dante's Inferno.
If the gaseous, clouded noise of 'Material Interstices' sounds as if it could be snatched from one of David Lynch's most unsettling dream sequences, we have to assume that's completely intentional. The inspiration for the album came from two of English's recurring dreams, one of which had recently re-emerged. When English chatted to Stewart about it - a labyrinthine subterranean horrorscape of concrete and iron underneath his house - Stewart related to having unusual sleep patterns. So the music emerged from this midnight realm, and illustrates English's Tetsuo-inspired industrial fantasy in grim detail.
Those expecting the beauty and charm of English's lighter material might be in for a shock. This is vantablack level darkness, inspired by 1980s industrial tape music, blurry noise and the darkest of dark ambient records. Think the bleakest end of Dean Hurley, Maurizio Bianchi, Lustmord or The Haxan Cloak, but assembled to trigger near hypnagogic states. There's an intentionality about "Material Interstices" that feels knotted to its nocturnal inspiration - English and Stewart simultaneously invoke nostalgia, dread and wonder, recalling industrial music's rich legacy but suggesting its future might not be entirely written just yet.
Superb melange of effervescent synth-pop, dream-pop and shoegaze ambient styles from Troth, the duo of Altered States’ label runner Cooper Bowman and honey tongued Amelia Besseny for A’dam’s reliably anachronistic Knekelhuis - RIYL Maria Minerva, Teresa Winter, Oï les Ox, Tara Clerkin Trio, Orphan Fairytale
One of the best on an admirably stand out label, ‘Oak Corridor’ slips very snugly into Knekelhuis’ world with a melt-on-mind confection of styles that we adore. It’s the 3rd album by Troth following a mini album cassette for Not Not Fun earlier this year, and the duo’s earliest stirrings found on Cooper Bowman’s ace label, Altered States, since 2019. They all by-passed this set of ears, but this one really connects with us thanks to the measured but not overly fussy style of production and girl-heard-next-door innocence of the vocals, which nail that ideal balance of naif yet knowing, and oscillate from edge of the dancefloor to deep in someone else’s dream space.
At their perkiest, the duo find a filigree line of Lowlands/UK coldwave and synth-pop on album highlights such as the icily stride of ‘In Lore’ with its soaring vocals, the swooning beauty of ‘Balancing Arc’, and the cold stepper ‘Komodo’, but the album is more dominated by its seductive urges to the oneiric, most tantalisingly on the seashore slosh of shells and pads in ‘Forge Fabric’, and the gentle fever dream styles of ‘Weight of a Feather’, with an arcane sense of supernatural creeping in via the spindly bittersweet dissonance of ‘When Rivers Were The Highways’, and a perfect curtain closer ‘Aether Frolic.’
Landing in 1998 between the endlessly imitated Chiastic Slide (1996) and the deceptively impenetrable ‘Confield’ (2001), LP5 and the following year’s EP7 feature some of Ae’s most effortlessly fucked rhythm mechanics; less abstract than much of what came after it, more complex and interwoven than what preceded it - just end-to-end brilliance.
Arriving at a time when bedroom producers were still busy trying to emulate the glitched prism of Chiastic Slide, LP5 unexpectedly shifted perspective in typical Ae style, seemingly toning down the DSP’s and slowly funnelling into the algorithmic-aping abstraction of their new millennial output lying in wait just around the corner. LP5 was the last in a run of albums that still allowed harmonic and melodic logic to penetrate their arrangements - with a funked/jerking emphasis that made for some of the most advanced and propulsive music of their career.
The pure energy of ‘777' reflects the endless unravelling of their sets around that time - a forever shifting arrangement of drums and synths deployed and made for movement, while ‘Vose In’ takes formative electro landscapes and shifts them into unstable domain, all cascading synths crumbling through space. Tears also flow on this one; the lonely nerve-ending melody and key changes on ‘Corc’ supplying some of the most sentimental work in the Ae canon, while ‘Drane2’ provides a prototype for the desolate Gamelan topographies that opened ‘Confield’ 3 years later, at the dawn of a new century.
One of the most multi-faceted and deadly Ae albums, no question.
Pin-sharp 2-step-meets-dub techno and 160BPM cyclones from Klaus, back on his Tanum label 10 years after his debut
Out of sight for a minute, Klaus makes up for lost time with two class steppers here, melding classic ‘90s Metalheadz atmospheres into the dub filtered UKG rolige of ‘Sabz’ in a way recalling Demdike Stare’s Testpressing joints meets Source Direct, then following that line to a supremely brooding, skeletal sort of footwork jungle flex dialling up the ghosts of classic Digital via Sully. After costs have been recouped on this one, he’s giving any profits to the National Mikey Powell Memorial Family Fund, supporting the families of people killed by police, in prison, or in psychiatric custody in the UK. Commendable, and recommended.
Heady fusion of mystic South American tradition and contemporary electronic dance by drummer Brandon Valdivia aka Mas Aya, hitting square between the styles of Elysia Crampton, Christos Chondropoulos, DJ Plead and Ka Baird
‘Máscaras’ offers a lushly memorable introduction, where needed, to the world building sound of Toronto’s Brandon Valdivia, aka Mas Aya, whose name translates to “Over There.” In six parts he projects a mescaline strength vision quest of rich, live instrumentation and swirling harmonic colour underpinned by a mix of hands-on, and programmed drums that owe as much his South American heritage as prevailing currents of digi dancehall, trap and footwork, while also harking back to golden era Warp. In other hands this could be a box ticking exercise, but Mas Aya handles the disparate elements beautifully, harmoniously consolidating a world of influence in his craftily disciplined productions.
The opening whorl of flues and stumbling drums in ‘Momento Presente’ melts on the mind with a vibrant, radiant lushness that he toggles gently through the EP, from the keening pads and pendulous rolige of ‘Key’ to a highlight in ’18 de Abril’ imagining DJ Plead switching mode from Arabic to Incan. Its centrepiece ‘Villanueva’ presents the widest canvas for his thoughts to slosh over, and ’Tiempo Ahora’ weaves in a reverberating wordless lament from Lido Pimienta, while the beautifully buoyant ambience of closer ‘Quiescence’ surely recalls Ka Baird’s psychedelic tactility.
A never before released body of recordings interpreting the works of the Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi, made with Matmos (Martin Schmidt and Drew Daniel) in 2005, "Pranam - A(Round) Giacinto Scelsi".
"A modular chamber ensemble with a pointedly anti-academic approach to music, over the course of its activities - running roughly between 1990 and 2010 - Alter Ego developed a devoted following among some of the most forward thinking voices in experimental music, all the while collaborating widely with artists spanning a vast range of practices and disciplines, including Robin Rimbaud, Philip Jeck, Pan Sonic, Matmos, Gavin Bryars, Andrew Hooker, William Basinski, David Moss, Alvin Curran, Terry Riley, and near countless number of others.
Alter Ego’s diverse activities can be understood as interventions with the disposition toward formality within contemporary chamber music, often pairing themselves with artists working well beyond their own context as a means to develop highly original interpretations of a specific composer’s work. In 2005, this process led them to invite Matmos, the American duo of Drew Daniel, Martin Schmidt - acclaimed for a body of visionary albums at the vanguard of electronic process and sampling - to collaborate on a series of interpretations of works by the legendary Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi."
Obscure Japanese post-punk unit MLD (Minimal Lethal Dose), a side-project of BGM’s Takayuki Shiraishi, coughs up previously unreleased material with France’s Camisole Records, primed to hit hard with fans of the near mythical Vanity Records
As part of motorik No wave disco band BGM, Takayuki Shiraishi’s work is much adored, but his short lived MLD project is far less known or appreciated. ‘1983-1986’ spans most of MLD’s lifespan, with two sought-after pearls ‘Perpetual Motion’ and ‘Dynamo’ from his releases with Kitchen Records are lined up beside nine nuggets from the archive that see light of day for first time.
Where those releases recall everyone from CHBB and Liaisons Dangereuses to DAF and Can, the others follow with a brace of propulsive industrial spunk, sloshing around slower meters in the grinding likes of ‘Dance With Shadows’ and feeling out cold electro dub spheres in ‘Invisible Beats’ and the Chris Carter-esque ‘The Hole’, with a gnarly highlight tucked away to the proto-Pan Sonic styles of ‘Storm Pt.1’, and foreshadowing the soundtrack to ‘Tetsuo: The Iron Man’ on ‘Burning.’
Crankiest industro-dub sludge and skronk from Norn Iron outlier Autumns, channelling everything from Adrian Sherwood to Dennis Bovell’s dubs of The Pop Group to classic coldwave and EBM
Mashing it up in the wake of his latest album, ‘Dyslexia Sound System’, the ‘DDS Dubplate’ goes loose and rude in the echo chamber with the sort of hands-on badness found in his wicked live sets. It hits “that cultural and musical sweet spot when the rockers met the post-punk crowd”, flinging down mucky gobs of wiry guitar and splodgy dub heave in ‘Annoying Fucker’ before evening out to a 4/4 steppers keel rinsed with rusty, ring-modulated noise in ‘Eating on the Ground’, and giving it some EBM leather and swagger to come off like DAF after a few doobs in ‘Never Lasted’.
Church is a sister album to John Foxx’s The Garden (40th anniversary edition).
"Many elements of the original Church booklet, which was part of the original 1981 The Garden release, are integrated into the gatefold artwork. Church features singles, B-sides and out-takes from the same period, along with the Miles Away single when Foxx re-introduced more traditional instrumentation to his electronic template."
Dizzying multi-instrument devotional jams based on Afro-Arab sufi trance music from Tunisian percussionist Houeida Hedfi, assisted by production from The Knife's Olof Dreijer.
When Hefdi picked up drumming for the first time, she was already an established academic, working in economics and mathematics. But her inquisitive interest in Afro-Arab sufi trance music led her towards percussion, and she began touring alongside teaching, reaching out to Tunisian violin player Radhi Chaouali and Palestinian bouzouk player Jalal Nader, for a nine years stretch touring back and forth across Europe and North Africa.
In 2011, Hefdi met Olof Dreijer when he visited Tunisia during the production of a compilation of music composed by local women, and he agreed to produce her album. The result is a work that's decidedly modern, but intrinsically linked to Tunisian folk traditions. Hefdi was insistent that the music should use Arabic quarter tones, but the compositions aren't an exercise in simply looking to the past - her music nods to classical minimalism, contemporary post-classical sounds and modern electronic music.
The first handful of tracks express her classical influence strongly - the lengthy 'Envol du Mékong' folds in Philip Glass-style organs into expressive piano playing and bowed strings before erupting into percussive Tunisian styles. In the album's second half, the lid is blown off as Hefdi allows herself to flex a little, experimenting with drums and electronics. 'Echos de Medjerda' is a clear highlight, balancing subtle processes with trance-inducing percussive loops, and 18-minute closer 'Cheminement du Tigre' is the record's most mind-bending moment, creating a singular mood with bells, electronics, drums and evocative pads.
First ever vinyl reissue of the sole masterwork by Croatian composer Martin Davorin Jagodic, taking shape as a sort of psychoacoustic sci-fi soundtrack trip recalling to us everything from the La Jetée soundtrack to Annea Lockwood’s naturalistic sensitivities, Basil Kirchin’s Worlds Within Worlds, Stockhausen’s electronic pieces, or the hypnagogic sound poetry of Luc Ferrari - his sometime collaborator.
‘Tempo Furioso’ remains the only full length testament to Jagodic’s wonderfully open-ended experimentation with electro-acoustic layering and abstract storytelling. Executed with inception like results, the 1975 release was part of a seminal tranche on Cramps Records, where it appeared alongside works from Alvin Lucier, John Cage, Robert Ashley, Costing Mieraneau which effectively broke ground with orchestral and avant classical terrain and properly committed to the possibilities of electronics.
The artist himself describes the work in elemental terms “wood creaking, wind blowing, as well as lines connecting us with the outside world, far away as it might be (radio stations, for instance)” which ring true with the results, but only covers half the story. In the first part he follows a fine contour from near silence to cacophony, rendering thizzing electronic timbres elided with nature sounds that grow in abstraction, accreting stray radio waves and tidal sounds that lull into a strange state of mind evoking Chris Marker’s La Jetée soundtrack and Luc Ferarri’s subtle cut-ups (it should be noted Jagodic played on the rehearsal tapes of Ferrari’s ‘Atelier De Libération De La Musique’ and also ‘Labyrinthe de Violence’) before the feeling of gyring weightlessness is hard to ignore in the piece’s lush flux of radio fractals and zonked roil.
The chaos of the first part’s finale is explored more vigorously on the other side, deploying discordant organ vamps, severed German language voices and passages of Shakepearean dialogue that conjure all sorts of drama on the mind’s eye, reminding us of Basil Kirchin’s Worlds Within Worlds at times, as well as early radio plays and Stockhausen, but guided by a singular logic that, in the best sense, will take multiple plays to unravel.
Major new work from GRM director François Bonnet (aka Kassel Jaeger), featuring recent "Portraits GRM" stars Lucy Railton and Jim O’Rourke and filtering eerie drones and tones into a shapeless but deep-hitting rumble of waterlogged sound. It's a hypnotic, deeply human album that enshrines Bonnet's memories in layer upon layer of tonal mud; if we dig too deep or concentrate too hard, we are ourselves become engulfed in the swamp, part of the opera. Highly recommended listening if yr into Iancu Dumitrescu, Richard Lerman, Jimmy O'Rourke.
When Bonnet was a child, he would venture out every Sunday to his favorite spot in the countryside: a swamp. Years later, he has composed a drone opera to memorialize these pivotal early moments, drawing a parallel between his love of the swamp and his own musical output, which was described by a teacher as swamp-like. "I guess because of the lack of demonstrative musical shapes and articulations," Bonnet admits.
Regaled with an awesome capacity for inducing ur states of trance, and just as likely to rip you out of it and off onto darker paths, ‘Swamps / Things’ blurs the line between the organic and synthetic, as instruments are contorted to sound like synthesizers and heaving pulses take on the character of orchestral flourishes. Layers of sound come on in diffracted waves of elemental and perplexing emotions that speak to Bonnet's remarkable breadth of vision as much as his rich palette. In a sense, he extends his role as artistic director of the GRM to a metaphorical director of sound in a mostly instrumental and multi-dimensional opera whose meaning may be elusive, but whose dramaturgy is enacted in the most absorbing, ravishing ways.
"Sound is abstract. When the source is elusive, narrative and meaning shift between the concrete and obscure. With his first solo LP with Shelter Press, Swamps/Things, Kassel Jaeger wades into this foggy, conceptual realm. From memory and metaphor - sliding fluidly through the imagistic and emotive - emerges an immersive, cavernous world that rethinks electroacoustic music on organic terms.
‘Swamps/Things’ was conceived as an opera without distinct characters or text. It draws Kassel Jaeger into his own history, experiences, and the unlikely double of the swamp, a landscape that has held literal and metaphorical sway over him since childhood. Merging 8 works as a total environment, abstaining from distinct shape or discrete articulation, across the album's breadth, sound becomes a shifting mirror for the bubbling, ordered chaos of organic life.
Resting at the junction of concept, emotion, and phenomena - tapping the multidimensional potential for narrative and meaning possessed by each - Swamps/Things encounters an artist of remarkable craft, delving toward the unknown, deploying organized sonority as object and environment, as much as action, movement, passage, and arc. Seemingly possessed by an entropy entirely its own, the temporal gives way to the poetics of space, while the density of an endlessly evolving climate, laden with cacophonous happenings, renders itself still. Flickering images of the natural world - memory and the imagined reformed as sound - present an operatic double for human action and thought. From deep, fog like banks of minimalist long tone, to industrial clamors left as tracks in the mud, or the collisions of shifting pulses, overtones, and textures - captured from across the murky, drone laden waters between the acoustic and synthetic realms - moody, howling cries and tense meditations merge in ambient sheets, capturing a fleeting image of where decomposition gives way to new growth.
A remarkably intimate and forward-thinking aural balm, bristling with complex beauty, Shelter press is overjoyed to present Kassel Jaeger’s Swamps/Things. Two immersive, intoxicating sides overflowing with humanity and ideas."
Lightly spread Balearic smarm and pastel-shaded ambience recorded in Perth, Australia, 2015
“Spring might not yet have sprung, but the Growing Bin is always in bloom. After brightening our days with the opiate beauty of Barthel, Bohm and Bauer and the dusky grafts of Moon B last year, Basso’s well tended imprint begins 2016 with an antipodean gem. The green fingered, or thumbed, among you might recognise A.R.T. Wilson from his time in the Growing Bin a while back, when he soothed our cares with the drifting dreamscape of ‘Overworld’. Now the sometime club menace returns to Hamburg’s finest label in the company of numerical pioneer Eleventeen Eston AKA John Tanner for another journey into the heart of the horizontal.
Setting up camp where the Swan River meets the Indian Ocean, Wilson and Tanner tuned into nature, translating the warm sun, sea air and blue sky into a postcard from paradise. Lithe clarinet dances around tranquil piano, relaxed guitar decorates velvet synth textures and unhurried percussion makes an occasional appearance, as if to remind us that time’s still passing. Employing an innovative alfresco recording technique, Andy and John invited members of the local animal community to join their jam sessions, saving a Blue Swimmer Crab from the flames of the barbecue and encouraging him to claw the ivories.
Drop the needle and drift away on the distant ocean of “Pilot”, freefall into the soothing ambience of ‘Further Than Your Headlights’, and let “Sun Room” guide you gently back to terra firma. The dream team of Australian musicians (not to mention a very talented crustacean), come together on one vinyl – and it’s better than you could possibly imagine.”
A hardy perennial, Boards of Canada’s definitive "lost" 1995 debut is back in circulation for the first time in a few years.
Originally dished up on Marcus and Eoin Sanderson’s Music70 label in edition of only 100 copies in 1995, rumour has it that a copy was sent to Clair Poulton at Clear Records as a demo, who passed on it before Skam up in mcr signed up the pair for the Hi Scores 12", Aquarius 7" and eventually 'Music Has The Right To Children', released in conjunction with Warp. By the time Twoism was officially reissued in 2002, people had been known to spend upwards of £500 for original copies if they were lucky enough to find them.
Alongside Hi Scores, Twoism provides the definitive BoC blueprint, melding classic electro tropes with analog synth tones redolent of soundtracks to ‘70s and ‘80s Canadian nature programmes, sewing the seeds of a sound that would bloom in their classic 1998 side ‘Music Has The Right To Children’. It still slaps.
Chicago-based trumpet player and electronic experimenter Justin Walter makes a debut appearance on Kranky with his rarified first solo album.
Sounding uncannily like the results of a secret hook up between Golden Retriever, Arve Henriksen and BoC, on 'Lullabies & Nightmares' Justin employs the Electronic Valve Instrument - a sort of hybrid trumpet and analogue synthesiser created in the '80s - to gorgeous effect, improvising frothy, fizzing loops of languid melody and scorched dissonance overdubbed with blunted drum patter and fractured electronics.
It's all miles off Justin's previous work as session player for the likes of Iron & Wine, Nomo, or Sinkane, and much the better for it, allowing his mind to really wander beyond any generic restrictions and frame the instrument and Justin at their most free, intuitively expressive, creating a genuinely lush, naively wide-eyed sound that just happens to dovetail with the sweetest sides of Ghost Box, the sacred forms of Kyle Bobby Dunn or even an energy-depleted Colin Stetson.
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."
Manchester family Space Afrika's Dais debut is a sprawling, genre melted tapestry of charged diasporic innovation and unshakably Northern, British working class eccentricity >> Like Dean Blunt, DJ Spooky, Cocteau Twins, Klein, West Mineral, Tricky, Third Eye Foundation, Actress 'n Michael Nyman boiled into a waxy narrative epic, 'Honest Labour' is as smoky and mysterious as it is rewarding. Undoubtedly one of the most viscerally affecting records of 2021.
Since 2014's "Above The Concrete / Below The Concrete" Joshua Inyang and Joshua Tarelle have been drawing a complex blueprint, displaying their influences and re-drawing each element to fit their ambitious creative vision. Initially spurred on by nth wave dub techno, and Raster Noton 'n Mille Plateaux's glacial, arty minimalism, the duo dug deeper into their shared musical DNA on 2018's sferic-released "Somewhere Decent to Live". This time they anchored their productions in 'nuum history, liquefying garage, jungle and grime hallmarks into glistening trails of pulses, pads and gestures.
Spurred on by last summer's global anti-racist protests, the duo widened their sonic universe with "Hybtwibt?", a heady collage of political subterfuge, biography and raw emotion. It was a rap beat tape without beats or raps, or an ambient album that had shelved the ambience completely, leaving inverted space and covert cinematic storytelling. This year's short, sharp "Untitled (To Describe You) OST" offered similar brainfood, mulling over concepts of identity and class with traces of drill and musique concrete.
'Honest Labour' is the sum of these component parts, and Inyang and Tarelle's defining statement to date. It's a fully silver-lined patchwork of high and low cultural squares that dissolves class, race and state identifiers in searing washes of familiarity and anxious experimentation. The euphoric post-jungle sparkle of tracks like 'yyyyyy2222' and 'solemn' is cut with warbling vocal dream pop ('indigo grit' and 'rings'), post-SND beat fukkery ('ny interlude') and k-holed industrial fuzz ('ladybird drone', 'like orchids').
But it's the duo's use of trip-hop and illbient tropes that truly tips their sound into jaw-to-the-floor territory. Standout single 'B£E' welds a vivid rap from MCR's Blackhaine over eroding breaks that sound like they've fallen off the back of Tricky's misunderstood "Nearly God" album. As words spell out a rainy working class reality where hope cracks thru grey concrete, Tarelle and Inyang bleed orchestral strings into the mix until they drown the rhythm completely. It's Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Sympathy' completed finally, evolved in a battle-scarred south Manchester petri dish.
"Honest Labour" is a Black British story that painstakingly weaves theory and raw open wounds with a passion for discovery and obsessive ear for sound. It's an album that linx Goldie's euphoric melancholy with Tricky's gender-flexing working class poetics, Actress's fuzzed-out high-minded syfy storytelling and Klein's noizy theatrical experimentation. It's one of 2021's most essential albums so far >> no doubt.
Exceptional, 15 minute long dancer from Beatrice Dillon, blessing the 12 x 12 series with a concatenated ‘nuum sidewinder Can I Change My Mind?, where the London-based artist nimbly finds the square roots of jungle, techno, noise and minimalist dance music firmly anchored in steppers’ dub and West African percussive tradition. If you’ve ever been snagged by Sotofett, DJ Krust or Shackleton’s devilish dubs, this one’s for you!
Since first emerging with a highly regarded monthly NTS radio show, a reel of widely-praised mixtapes for The Trilogy Tapes, Blowing Up the Workshop and, most recently, a mix with Ben UFO for Wichelroede, Beatrice’s uniquely focussed solo works - including two excellent EPs for Where To Now? and a split with Karen Gwyer - along with two acclaimed LPs with Rupert Clervaux and her recent remix for Helm on the PAN label, have all come to define a curious juncture of worldly rhythm studies and probing electronics which arguably exists in a long lineage of avant-garde experimentation done at the service of ‘floors both real and imagined.
Can I Change My Mind? is Beatrice’s most tracky solo production to date, and also the most singular, adroit demonstration of what makes her tick, combining and parsing the most affective, tactile parts of Black Atlantic percussive patterns with a learned appreciation of dub-style economy and concrète texturing.
Across 13 minutes of morphing, fractious rhythm, Beatrice renders clear the prismic and rhizomic dub binds and syncopations that connect original, rolling African drum traditions with Afrobeat and highlife, and likewise between proper UK roots steppers, house and ‘90s jungle, or, for that matter, the mosaic of modern antecedents which continue to be informed by those styles - from the rites of Shackleton to Tessela’s visceral techno swerve and the mercurial grooves of Rian Treanor or her sometime collaborator, Kassem Mosse.
Urged by the intuition of a helpless riddim fiend and premo DJ, Beatrice nimbly synchs swollen, globular bass, needlepoint hi-hats and shocks of flinty amens at 150bpm in a deadly, mutating bogle, effectively exploring every interstice of half, double, and triplet-timed calculation with devilish sleight of hand and cadence; never letting the ball drop whilst suggesting myriad points of interpretation for the dancers and DJs.
It’s a singular work of experience, intuition and technique, and perhaps surprisingly only her 3rd solo release proper. But its daring ruggedness and stringency is a clear indication that Beatrice Dillon is only just warming up and coming into her own. There’s only one side, one track. But it’s all you need.
Back in 2013 Andy Stott found himself playing on the same bill as New York “Heavy Metal hoarders” Batillus. Despite operating in completely different spheres, Batillus had been playing ‘Luxury Problems’, Stott’s most recent album, on their tourbus and suggested a remix.
The result is pressed up on this one-sided 12”, a deadly reduction that pitches the original down into the abyss...
‘Selections from 100 Models of Hegikan Roku’ is the stunning, second major Catherine Christer Hennix work to appear on vinyl via NYC’s Blank Forms Editions and Empty Editions following ‘Selected Early Keyboard Works’ - one of 2018’s certified albums of the year. Let's just say that this one hits even harder. Read on.
Proceeding to fill crucial gaps in Hennix’s 60 year (and counting) ouevre, her 1976 recording with The Deontic Miracle (a trio with her brother Peter Hennix, and Hans Isgren, whom she described as “the most rejected band ever formed in Sweden”) presents utterly compelling tracts from a mind-blowing 90 minute exploration of the Just Intonation tunings that have fascinated Hennix since her late ‘60s studies with La Monte Young and Henry Flynt.
Just Intonation, on a technical level, operates in contrast to the equal temperament tunings most common to the familiar harmonics of western music. On another level, Just Intonation is deeply, deeply f*cking weird and subversive, working with its own laws of visceral dissonance and harmonic relationships that rarely fails to result in anything less than a life-affirming or even cathartic experience when applied by Hennix and her band. Honestly some of the most memorable and unshakeable moments of our listening lives can be attributed to this system, and almost everything else pales in significance after it’s been properly experienced. It’s no less revelatory than formative acid trips, and it boggles the mind that so much so-called “psychedelic” music doesn’t even come close to the effect of Hennix’s recordings.
Rigorously working within this mathematically sound and ancient system, with Catherine on Amplified Renaissance Oboe, Live Electronics and Sine Wave Generators, her brother Peter on Amplified Renaissance Oboe and Amplified Sarangi, and Hans Isgren on Amplified Sarangi, there’s an unparalleled aggression and intensity to the trio’s playing in ‘Selections from 100 Models of Hegikan Roku’ that was previously found on their ‘Central Palace Music’ CD of the same sessions for Important in 2016, and also more stripped down in Catherine’s incredible ‘Selected Early Keyboard Works’.
This is not psychedelic music for braiding daisies or growing your hair to. It’s psychedelic in an atavistic, frightening and metaphysical way, ripping down the curtains of melody and meter from the sound stage to reveal surrealistic, pineal panoramas of a sort rarely seen by humankind, and then holds your view like the Ludovico technique apparatus applied to Malcolm McDowell’s character in A Clockwork Orange. And similarly, the music can be heard as a conditioning against the strictures of classical music, prizing open its form and highlighting all the dark energy and negative ecstasy that haunts the harmonic spectrum, yet which sadly remains invisible to the naked ear in most western musics.
If ever there was a music that makes you want to f*ck, fight, drop mescaline, or most simply to feel sensations you’ve never come across before and really can’t properly explain, this is it. Not to push it out too much, but the resurfacing of Hennix’s recordings over the past decade feel prophetically profound in these times; where too much music retreads old ground, this shit feels like a message from aliens or previous civilisations bitchslapping our ears and crying out for us all to listen and perceive sound, and the world, differently.
Nairobi ambient wizard KMRU combs his archives to assemble this v enjoyable collection of odds 'n sods. The drones are pushed to one side for a hot minute as he explores Emeralds-esque cosmic psychedelia, clankin house, contemplative piano-bient and ping-ponging early electronic moods.
Following a banner 2020 with acclaimed albums on Editions Mego, Dagoretti and Rope Records, Joseph Kamaru - now based in Berlin - has selected some of his favorite Bandcamp-released tracks for "Logue". All of this music was produced at a time when Kamaru was evolving quickly as a young artist, learning his craft and placing himself within his shifting surroundings. Written between 2017 and 2019, the tracks show an inquisitive mind grabbing different ideas and sounds, personalizing them with field recordings and adding glacial synthesized elements that would characterize later recordings like "Peel" and "Jar".
For anyone who's only heard his more sensual and abstract long-form work, "Logue" might be surprising. The music here is more compact and more Kompakt, leaning towards the Cologne label's ongoing "Pop Ambient" compilations. It's good-natured, upbeat music that shifts between lowercase IDM-flecked house ('Jinja Encounters', '11'), Japanese-style architectural ambient ('Bai Fields', 'Logue', 'Points') and fractal cosmic deep space exploration ('Argon', 'A Meditation of Listening'). Recommended.
The Knife’s glorious 2nd album arrives on the reissue merry-go-round, replete with bonus tracks.
‘Deep Cuts’ returns a bout of early ‘00s nostalgia with its brace of mutant electro-pop smarts including its louche anthem ‘Heartbeats’ plus single cuts ‘You Take My Breath Away’, and the ‘Handy-Man’ included as bonus beside the club-ready winners ‘This Is Now’ and ‘The Birdge.’ It casts us back to a strange era in the neon fallout of electoclash, on the cusp of industry misfire “Nu-Rave”, when feathered fringes, terrible denim and shit drugs were in abundance.
With typical Swedish finesse, The Knife made that all feel OK with their timeless hooks and polished production offering a classy alternative to the chart-dominating efforts of their fellow countrymen Max Martin and co, helping to define and cushion an era that history will surely regard as a massive hangover from the hyper innovative ‘90s. Massive tip for the Maikna/New Monkey style hyper-pop of ‘Listen Now’!
One for the bubbling cru, K-Lone tags in Wilfy D on a sweetly debonaire tribute to classic UKG
Keeping up the momentum from his ‘Cape Cira’ album, K-Lone keeps it neatly on track with Vitamin D proprietor Wilfy D (aka D&G, Island Routes, L.M.Y.E.), breezing between the butterfly 2-step of ‘Strawberries’ to a deep Todd Edwards style hustler in ‘Moodswings’, while ‘STR8 UP’ dials up the US R&B influences in the pitched vox and keys on a proper UKG pivot, and ‘Getting Late’ gives it a slick speed garage gear change.
Eminent avant-garde/experimental explorer Oren Ambarchi opens a rewarding new avenue to embrace the warmth and mystic psychedelia of Brazilian music with assistance from celebrated percussionist and Downtown luminary Cyro Baptista. Arriving just after Ambarchi’s 50th birthday, and Black Truffle's 10th, ‘Simian Angel’ sees him yoke back from the forward tilt of his rhythm-driven outings over the past decade in order to focus on his electric guitar playing, with rewarding results.
Keening sideways from the unyielding percussion of his last outing ‘Hubris’ , he divines a floating space that recalls the beautifully pensile cats cradle of his early classic ‘Grapes From The Estate’ , only this time with fleshlier, more inviting arrangements. The first half’s ’Palm Sugar Candy’ is pure star-gazing material, with Baptista’s hand-played, self-built percussion drawing us into a horizontal headspace while Ambarchi’s glowing notes gently colour the sky above. Ambarchi gradually opens up a glorious space between that dissonant murmuring and an awning, harmonic meridian, where a voice whispers into the space to gently recalibrate our depth perception, before seemingly turning his guitar into a MIDI-triggering aeolian harp in the piece’s spellbinding, levitating 2nd half.
’Simian Angel’ follows with a more gripping rhythmic pull from the twanging Berimbau, just one of myriad percussion mastered by Baptista (who has previously played with everyone from John Zorn to Derek Bailey, Herbie Hancock and Robert Palmer), before Ambarchi glydes into view like a chorus of the sighing Simian Angels, drawing the piece upwards into thin air, where his guitar melts into piano and columns of warm air carry distant vocals from below. The drums rejoin to mark the work’s final avian swoops in strokes and dashes, triggering MIDI keys in a beautifully colourful sort of jazz fusion call and response, located amid and above a subtropical canopy.
Arriving at the apparent apex of a long and sprawling career in which he's had countless collaborations and gone down a seemingly endless series of creative rabbit holes, 'Simian Angel’ is quite possibly Oren Ambarchi’s most open and generous album to date - a perfect entry point into, as well as highlight of, a recorded catalogue that over the course of more than twenty years has been one of the most unpredictable and rewarding in the game. Bravo.
Emptyset's James Ginzburg teams up with chameleonic producer Ziúr for a gravity-defying set of apocalyptic lullabies and malfunctioning beat experiments. Mangled pop musick fer damaged minds >> like Loraine James or Telefon Tel Aviv circling the cosmic drain with Mika Vainio and Coil.
Last year, after Ginzburg had completed "Crystallise, A Frozen Eye" and Ziúr had finalized Spring's PAN-released "Antifate", the two friends realized they had a gap in their respective schedules. Eager to find a new project to fill their lockdown hours, they began shuttling sketches and sounds to each other that quickly developed into proper songs. While their respective solo albums may have been locked into a specific stylistic channel, this impromptu collaboration was an opportunity to touch the third rail and see what might happen. The result was Myxomy, a new project that finds both artists on a melancholy pop tip, trading vocals over damaged beatscapes and enchantingly unexpected instrumentation.
They aren't exactly strangers to pop forms. Ginzburg's lone Digitalis-released album as Faint Wild Light was a low-key ambient folk gem, and Ziúr spent years playing in bands before locking into the solo experimental mode. "Myxomy" takes these root sounds and develops them into debut with a defined sense of identity. Ziúr's squelchy, neon synths are front and center on 'Sloppy Attempt', but it's her molten sci-fi vocals that provide the real focus. She manipulates her voice as if it's clay, forming words and syllables into chattering earworm phrases over Ginzburg's rolling neo-trip hop beat.
Ginzburg handles vocal duties on 'A Little Opaque', twisting k-holed melodies over Ziúr's stuttering industrial beats and a disorienting hurdy-gurdy drone. That hurdy-gurdy plays a more central role on 'In and Until', with the ages-old sound forming a de-facto lead as Ziúr fashions rhythms from pulled packing tape and wood block cracks. It sounds like Goblin's terrifying "Suspiria" soundtrack re-imagined for our looming augmented reality era. On 'It is it Everything', the unsettling mood is sustained as micro-tuned glass bowls and plates provide a gamelan-esque foil for Ginzburg's robotic crooning.
"Eat the rich, and throw up on the fuckbois," Ziúr coos on 'Toxin Out' thru buzzing machinery and frothy synths. It's a sobering message that glues the duo's labyrinthine pop to our awkward contemporary reality with a wry smile and a wink to camera.