The slow and sexy OG version of ‘Feel The Love’ from the ‘Ambitions’ LP, backed with the campy canter of Prins Thomas’ uptempo ‘Diskomiks’, plus a pair of punchier late ‘80s styled takes by Lauer bringing its saucy disco flavours to the boil and then the darkroom
Deep techno and house from Ireland’s blooming bedroom dancefloor dimensions, served warm by Greek label Echovolt
Leading on from Der Opium Queen’s remix of George Earnest’s G.E.O. Corp 12 ‘College Derive’, the two make it official with their debut turn of astral acid and blushing boogie, building up the energy withe lip-smacking MDMA-flavoured pads over ruggedly offset Detroit techno-house drums and 303 ellipses in ‘Ultralush’ to leave you rolling on the carpet or hugging the next body, whereas ‘Rainy Day’ sees to a slower blush of pink-hued pads and pendulous electro-soul rhythm, with ‘Time Heals All Wounds’ striding off into the sunset like an Omar-S or Rick Wilhite number.
Lyric Hood, daughter of Detroit techno god Robert Hood, makes her fully fledged solo debut on M-Plant
The apple clearly didn’t fall far from the Hood family tree as Lyric turns out the teasing, head high jack and parried chords of ‘Nineteen’ and the intensified pound of ’11:11’ with the same kinda in-the-pocket flair and soulful pedigree as her pops.
This is pushing so many buttons for us right now; recordings of flutes and electronics from Brooklyn’s John Also Bennett aka JAB on his debut solo album ‘Erg Herbe’, echoing a fine tradition of loft-based, downtown NYC minimalism and new age ambience that references classic work by La Monte Young and Laurie Speigel as well as quieter intimations of Dominique Lawalrée or Takehisa Kosugi and Bennett’s regular collaborator Jon Gibson. The results are deeply beautiful, in a manner everyone has by now come to expect from the wonderful Shelter Press.
A decade in the works, ‘Erg Herbe’ follows 2018’s enchantingly elusive CV & JAB album as John Also Bennett’s 2nd release for Felicia Atkinson and Bartolemé Sanson’s widely adored label. It finds the Brooklyn-based artist in gentle pursuit of a sound which best represents his sense of self, using an array of flutes and synthesisers to imbue a distinguished sense of character into his music in much the same way as the original downtown heroes whose footsteps he follows, with the humble yet ambitious goal to, in his own words; “…create nice, strange, and thoughtful music that reflects a genuine inner vision of self.”
In a patient and patently soulful manner befitting of those minimalist and ambient pioneers, Bennett physically breathes life into the album on a C flute, Alto flute, and rare Chinese dizi flute, suspended in space with the gaseous tonal hues of a Yamaha DX711-D, Yamaha CS Reface and Roland Super JV-1080, plus Farfisa Organ. The effect is intoxicatingly rich yet modest, eliding new age spiritual concerns with minimalism’s more scholastic approach - using modified Aphex Twin presets played with a just intonation tuning system, and oscillators “tuned to intuitive structures using intervals of 30Hz” to generate warm and deeply heady harmonic sensations.
Underlying and tying this all together is the album’s title, ‘Erg Herbe’, an invented turn of phrase - erg meaning a sea of desert sand dunes, and herbe being french for grass - mirroring the music’s dreamy imagery of rolling green landscapes and blue/pink/orange skies. From the radiant warmth of the opener, to the pastoral waltz of ‘Jacob’s House’, thru the 12 minutes centrepiece of ‘Distant Patterns’ with its raga-like flute and pillowy pads, to the chance midnight meeting of flutes in ‘Chanterai por mon coraige’, recorded in a decrepit mill near the Shelter Press HQ, we’re left zoned out and deeply tuned in to his gorgeous, transcendent music.
Glass offers the sublime results of a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), as performed and recorded at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut during the private opening to Yayoi Kusama’s installation marking the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth.
Making sterling use of the landmark architectural work’s pellucid dimensions, the pair fixed contact mics to its glass walls, which they effectively played as an “instrument”, rubbing it with rubber gong mallets to generate delicate tones which they combined with a sympathetic palette of singing glass bowls, crotales, keyboards and mixers.
The seamless performance of floating, weightless tones and exquisitely quivering timbres is without doubt one of their finest. For the duration we’re held static and spellbound by the pair’s interplay of microtonal shifts and plasmic chronics, keening the listener thru hazes of digital dust and vortices of angelic harmonics to locate, alchemise and resolve a rarified, deeply mysterious spirit before the piece closes.
As the follow-up to their OST for The Revenant  and the warbling keys of Summvs  before that, the achingly lush tension of Glass is perhaps the purest testament to the clarity of vision and endless minimalist mutability of this highly revered duo.
Tight tribal techno minimalism and freaky acid from stalwart UK producer James Ruskin on his Blueprint label
Attention is required pronto for the jibber-jawed funk of ‘Disaffection’, with manic, acidic lead and deadly 909 programming recalling Rob Hood’s killer ‘Analog Track (Ghost)’. The other two are proper wormholers, packing virulent arps up to an alarm sequence peak in ‘Reality Broadcast Off’ and doing the same with more swing in ‘We Are Everywhere.’
Inspired, wholly unexpected collaboration between legendary singer songwriter Mark Lanegan and Ecstatic maverick Alessio Natalizia aka Not Waving - a timeless, modernist fusion of barrel-aged narratives and diverse, experimental backdrops, RIYL Scott Walker, Conny Plank & Moebius, David Sylvian...
Following Not Waving’s stellar recent recordings with Jim O’Rourke, Colin Potter & Jay Glass Dubs, ‘Downwelling’ finds him in a striking Pas de deux with alt. rock god Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, QOTSA). It’s one of those rare link-ups that truly transcends the sum of its parts, with Not Waving’s rolling range of nuanced electronics acting as backdrops for Lanegan’s smoky barritone storytelling. Delivered in a husky but pliable voice that has come to define the American alternative rock scene since the early ‘90s, Lanegan inhabits the songs with a reserved presence that has served him well for decades, but which has never been heard in quite this context.
Pairing music recorded by Natalizia between London, Italy, and Paris over the past five years, with vocals recorded by Lanegan in LA, the duo arrive at dreamy non-place that’s not defined by geography or time. Instead the album offers a timeless insight into human behaviour, as reflected in the sleeve art details from the ‘Lights of Canopus’, a Persian version of the ancient Indian book of animal fables, the ‘Panchatantra.’ Thanks to Lanegan’s classically dusty tone - famously described as being “scratchy as a three day beard yet as supple as moccasin leather” - and the breadth of Not Waving’s production, the results draw listeners deep into the artists’ shared plane of world-weary but quietly hopeful conception, emphasising the power of closeness and empathy.
Their songs come on like waves lapping a shore that’s ever-shifting, ever the same. This cycle is epitomised on the opener, ’Signifying The End’ with Lanegan’s raspy tone met by honeyed synths, before scaling the nocturnal heights of ‘City Of Sin’ and coolly channeling Suicide in ‘Burn Out Babylon.’ The waters calm again for ‘Persimmon Tree’ suitably set to harp-like arps, while the deathly croon and impending throb of ‘Murder In Fugue’ comes to rest in the serene resolution of ‘The Broken Man’ in a manner that’s entirely modernist but speaks to eons of human emotion.
Echoing everything from latter-days Scott Walker to David Sylvian at his most strung out, and even the odd energy of Moebius, Conny Plank & Mayo Thompson’s ‘Ludwig’s Law’ album, or the arcane creak of John Duncan’s ‘Bitter Earth’, Natalizia & Lanegan’s efforts will surely realign listeners presumptions of both artists and place them in a category all of their own.
Inimitable deep Detroit magick from KDJ on a cracking 2x12” of Linn drum rhythms and freaky psyche-funk
Dedicated to the dance - whether that’s a heaving, red-lit club or bedroom hustle - ‘Sinner’ plays loose with classic 313 styles in typically rolling but unpredictable arrangements built to toy with moving bodies and light up late night minds.
Plate 1 throws down two massive, uptempo zingers. ‘I’ll Provide’ fits low-riding, scuzzy guitar to tweaky kicks in a style recalling Funkadelic or The Dirtbombs, with the snappy Linn Drum crack and deft disco bass of ‘I Think Of Saturday’ playing up to his hushed but urgent vocals on the backside’s instant classic.
In contrast Plate 2 delivers a more soulful punch in the simmering live drums, floating organ and strutting bass of ‘If I Gave U My Love’, which winds in on itself to a deeper burning bass hustle before the final side slips into bedroom mode with the slow acid bass and sublime, coastal breeze strings of ‘Deeper Shadows’, and the aching downstroke of ’Sinnerman.’
You know what to do.
Thai folk-styled disco peaches from the YĪN YĪN duo, chasing up a devilish 2018 for the Swiss G’s at Les Disques Bongo Joe
Working in space to the left of Khruangbin and Paradise Bangkok, YĪN YĪN dish up a Bruce Lee-inspired and oyster sauce-flavoured Molam disco groove ‘One Inch Punchg’ up top, with the strung-out haze and saddlesore shuffle of ‘The Grey Chamber’ seeing to a contrasting downstroke on B-side, before a saloon appears on the horizon and YĪN YĪN’s steed picks up its hooves to the psychedelic end.
Arch techno goth Vatican Shadow delivers Berghain’s annual mix, vacillating new and vintage selections with cherry-picked cuts from his unrivalled collection of industrial cassette rarities.
Vatican Shadow is a relatively late stage alias for Dominick Fernow, who unmistakably made his name as noise beast Prurient and boss of Hospital Productions since 1997. As the noise scene ran out of conceptual energy around 10 years ago, Dominick found his calling on the ‘floor, forming Vatican Shadow as a vent for his rhythm-focussed industrial music concerns. The project would coalesce around militant drum patterns that found their way into various DJ sets, and Vatican Shadow became a key part of the whole industrial/EBM/darkwave resurgence witnessed over the best part of this decade.
With ‘Berghain 09’ Fernow makes his influences and affiliations explicit across the mix and in two accompanying EPs of exclusive gear, collected here. Opening and closing with Genesis P-Orridge mantras ‘Ritual Music’ and ‘One Being, One Orientation, One Power’, he trawls rolling EBM/techno from Juan Mendez (Silent Servant) as Los Angeles Death Cult, the blitzkreig of ‘Venom Timetables’ with Ancient Methods and Regis’ Ugandan Methods, and the agitated pound of ‘Decontrol’ from JK Flesh, while Hospital Productions' Alberich slams out the thistly banger ‘Werkstatt’ along with ‘Colt Neck’ from Ron Morelli, and a handful of distended noise loops by Merzbow.
First time vinyl (2LP) pressing of Atom Heart’s 1994 ambient album as Dots, originally released by his mighty Rather Interesting label and now newly prepped by Uwe Schmidt himself and cut by Noel Summerville for Astral Industries.
Modestly self-described by Schmidt aka Dots as “elevator music”, the project’s only release is defined by its spacious parameters and paucity of palette, using icy arps and plangent bleeps to connote a wide, free-floating sense of vastness and airy detachment. If it is “elevator music”, then it’s surely made for a glass-bottomed lift to the moon and beyond.
Trailing in the shimmering wake of Astral Industries' reissues by Sonmi451, Chi Factory and Heavenly Music Corporation, ‘Dots’ sweetly follows suit with an assurance of no sharp edges or snagging tones for the ardent psychonaut or ambient explorer, working in a very ‘90s way where a utopian trust was implied between artist and listener that says, “we’ve got you” in the come-down session, or when used as an aid for sleeping or for simply escaping your own mind.
To be fair, there was a long period (that only ended during this decade) when ambient music of this ilk was viewed as a bit lukewarm or toothless. But there’s certainly been a sea change in tastes that have lead to folk prizing the potential for this kind of background or environmental music to induce visions of lost halcyons, or perhaps even subliminally gird themselves and become familiar with an early form of cybernetic intelligence, before it becomes overly familiar with us. If, like many sets of ears, you’re exhausted with reissued new age and kosmiche records, but still favour a pre or early-internet electronic soul, this album will push all the right buttons.
One of many peaches on Wackies, few are sweeter than Love Joys’ Lovers Rock Reggae Style .
Produced and originally issued by the JA/NYC bossman Bullwackie, and subsequently reissued via their Hardwax hook-up outta Germany, who’ve rightly kept it in print (this edition), Lovers Rock is all killer no filler, starring Claudette Brown and Sonia Abel riding high over killer disco-dub-edged lovers rock riddims such as the bubbling beauty One Draw and the synth-buoyed float of Let Me Rock You Now, all replete with dubs.
Hyper-cubist 2-step and gutting ambience from Burial in classically old skool mood, loading some of his classiest vocal work since ‘Untrue’, b/w dense, shadowy midnight atmospheres.
Without a doubt, ‘Claustro’ is an instant Burial classic. Lathering an ear-worming R&B motif (Brandy again?) into hair-kissing, lip-smacking skip-to-my-loops, he channels Steve Gurley on the cusp of hardcore into 2-step in a way that distinctly recalls his ‘Untrue’ cornerstone, and quite possibly heralds its follow-up on the distant horizon.
Likewise, ‘State Forest’ is signature Burial, but playing deep into his isolationist aesthetic with 8 minutes of heavy tog gloom lit with sparking clippers and alien craft landing-site pads.
Theeeee holy grail when it comes to :zoviet*france: - finally given the deluxe reissue treatment by VoD. Already sold out at source...
"Members during the exciting early years represented by these 15 LPs of :zoviet*france: were Ben Ponton, Robin Storey, Peter Jensen, Paolo Di Paolo and Lisa Hale. :zoviet*france: is an idiosyncratic group of anonymous music makers, gatherers of sound, and fabricators of unknown music. For nearly 40 years, they have explored and reported back from the liminal areas of music and composition, walking the margins where little is easily located and consensus reality melds with the hypnagogic and half-heard.
Having wilfully obscured themselves in Newcastle upon Tyne since their inception in 1980, :zoviet*france: has developed a radical relationship with cheap technologies, homemade acoustic instruments, primitive looping and sampling techniques, and basic dub trickery from which the group has crafted a distinctly unique vocabulary of sonic hypnosis.
Just as the group’s sound has alchemically reconfigured inexpensive technologies, the packaging of their releases has avoided standard formats with aluminium, steel, wood and porcelain among the materials that have been bent and cut to shape instead."
Lp1: Garista Lp (1982)
Lp2: Untitled / Norsch Lp (1982/83)
Lp3/4: Monomishe 2lp (1983)
Lp5/6: Eostre 2Lp (1984)
Lp7: Gris Lp (unreleased extended version) (1985)
Lp8/9/10: Popular Soviet Songs And Youth Music 3Lp/7inch (1985)
Lp11: Misfits, Loony Tunes And Squalid Criminals Lp (1986)
Lp12: Gesture Signal Threat Lp (1986)
Lp13: Loh Land Lp/7inch (1987)
LP14: Assault And Mirage Lp (1987)
Lp15: A Flock of Rotations Lp (1987)
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 utterly sublime 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.
After leaving us hanging since his acclaimed ‘Dulce Compañia’ LP, Brian Piñyero’s DJ Python makes a welcome return with six tracks of heat-hazy, dembow-driven ambient house for Dekmantel.
Leading on from that cracking album for Anthony Naples Proibito label, the ‘Derretirse’ EP locates an even lusher-minded Python snaking thru slower and more spacious productions, sounding like he’s taking OG Balearic vibes back to the source.
On the A-side that results the the BoC-like shimmers and infectious rub ’n tug of ‘Lampara’ sequenced next to the hip-swaying breeze of ’Tímbrame’, and the subbass-loaded grip of ‘Cuando’ in a style firmly recalling The Orb and SAW 85-92. The B-side follows on that vibe with the EP’s sublime highlight of weightless drums and ‘floor-cradling ambient strokes ‘Espero’, and ‘Be Si To’ crisply defines his dembow house stride at a balmy 110bpm beside the bleary-eyed and screwed rave suss of ‘PQ CQ.’
Some time around 20 years ago, Dub Surgeon made an absorbing album of beautiful dub infused with ambience, found sounds and horizontal rhythms. 'The Lost Future' was recorded at the former Amsterdam Film Academy, engineered and mastered by Ricardo Villalobos who put it through several vintage mixers and recorded it to 2 inch tape. Then, tragedy struck: a storm surged and ignited a fire that ravaged the studio. The master copy was thought to have been lost forever.
Dub Surgeon stopped making music and disappeared into the shadows after just two EPs on Future Dub in 2002/3. But one day, 15 years later, and totally out of the blue, he received a demo of The Lost Future. "Pay attention to this," it said.
Attached was a demo version of the long lost album which now, finally, has found a home on Dubai's Ark to Ashes imprint, so named in homage to the story of Lee "Scratch" Perry burning down his Black Ark studio to rid it of demons.
Newly mastered by Rashad Becker, the album adopts its full form as a killer dub excursion which, with hindsight, can be marked up next to other electronic dub classics of its era, arguably right up there with the first two Pole albums, but also wickedly prescient of wilder, out-of-the-lines styles to come from Jay Glass Dubs to Seekersinternational, and even flashes of Hyperdub and Burial’s more abstract, introspective moments.
Classic Doom, finally re-pressed on wax!
His first solo album since '04's 'MM..Food', 'Born Like This' could have taken another 4 years and it would probably still have sounded the same, this is DOOM and the tongue twisted and brain boggled lyrics, cherry picked samples and primo beats would always come together with this fella at the helm.
This set takes its title from Charles Bukowski's poem 'Dinosauria' and a tale describing "Hospitals which are so expensive it's cheaper to die... a country where jails are full and madhouses closed", so it's perfect fodder for Dumile to feed his uncompromising sense of hiphop noir and reinforce his outsider superhero status. The production duties are largely taken up by DOOM himself with his usual stacks of jimmyed sampledelia and killer beats fully in effect next to extra productions from Jay Dilla, Jake One and Madlib working on an inherently understood synchronicity.
Extra vocals come from fellow 'character rap' specialist Raekwon, with Slug, Tony Starks and Kurious making supporting appearances but you know it's all about DOOM's inimitable sense of flow, timing and ruminations on subject matters far removed from your average MC's curriculum. I can foresee this recieving maximum rotation round these parts for some time to come...
Martyn indulges his formative and enduring love of D&B and UKG in three crispy zingers for Ostgut.
The rugged breakstep flex of ‘Odds Against Us’ triggers a deep and rude session that sees him get on a jazzy halfstep hotfoot recalling classic J Magik in ‘B.C. 2’, then cutting like Dego in the ruffneckj soulboy parry of ‘Rhythm Ritual.’
Low key, infectiously squashed bumps from Lurka, rubbed out for Bristol's bob-on crew, Wisdom Teeth
Among the most distinctive but modestly unsung producers of this decade’s shift to 120bpm and slower tempos, Lurka maintains his curious class in all three parts, with tucked tresillo rhythms and weightless pads in ‘Stay Let’s Together’, then like a thizzing, slinkier Gabor Lázár workout in ‘Plenty’, and on a rudely stressed and dubbed-out swagger in ‘Bodied.’
Recorded in Nashville with the legendary engineer Rob Galbraith, ‘Nashlantis’ features 11 mesmerizing Gantry performances (“a séance with the Human Spirit,” as the producer puts it), retouched in Austin with painterly brevity by DeCicca and Stuart Sikes. Preserving the intimate nature of Chris’s acoustic guitar and vocals, Don Cento, Ryan Jewell and Marina Peterson wove electric guitar, mandolin, synthesizer, percussion and cello into the fabric of the songs and guest harmony vocalists Edith Frost and Bill Callahan added stellar contributions as well.
"'Nashlantis’ is inevitably a reflection on Gantry’s long and winding path through this world - but the vitality of the songwriting stops the music from becoming simple elegy or denouement. Chris’s crafty old-school way with a tune and his smooth melodicism gives him the space to tell his tales with ease; lovers, losers and madmen are depicted with warmth and empathy, a genuine love of the human spirit and the singing chops of a man who’s known tens of thousands of nights of song. ‘Nashlantis’ is a testament to the career and talent of Chris Gantry - the individualism that set him apart from his earliest days and his openhearted embrace of the unknown. Jerry David DeCicca’s production sound makes for yet another unique chapter in the Chris Gantry catalogue - a potent new entry, five decades and more down the line - the improbability of which makes it pure Gantry, all the way.
The annals of Nashville, the 20th Century’s immortal Music City, are filled with lore of the legends, as well as tales of the one-shots, the lesser-knowns and the delightful obscurities: singers, writers and players who had a moment, were a step away from stardom or just stood in the same room with the men and women whose names we know. Like the outlaw he defines himself as, Chris Gantry doesn’t really fit in any of those boxes - and 50-plus years since he wrote his first and biggest hit, he’s still writing and singing, having lived to tell the tale of his serpentine but ultimately joyful path, a ‘Life Well Lived’.
Now in his mid-70s, Gantry is still a consummate performer and an inveterate writer, appearing in performance as a lusty, genial man, grateful to have drunk of the experience he’s had, transcendent in that experience and ebullient in the moment of singing it. ‘Nashlantis’ is the ninth record of Gantry tunes to be released since Chris moved to Nashville in early 1960. Then, he fell in with like-minded others: Shel Silverstein, Kris Kristofferson, Eddie Rabbitt, Vince Matthews and Mickey Newbury - guys working day and night to break into the business, writing and singing their way through the chaos of their youth. It was an intoxicating environment - everyone with his own vision and Chris’s cosmic stirrings setting him a little apart from the rest.
He first got a contract to make an album after Glenn Campbell’s version of his tune ‘Dreams of the Everyday Housewife’ went to Number Three on the Billboard Country Charts in 1967. Between 1968 and 1975, he recorded three madly diverse records, released by three different imprints - Monument, Magic Carpet (a Monument subsidiary) and ABC Dot. One other session from that time sat in the can for over 40 years, until Drag City put it out in 2017 as ‘At The House Of Cash’. Meanwhile, the fellow who brought that long-lost project to Drag City, Jerry David DeCicca (a singer and performer in his own right, who also co-produced the Larry Jon Wilson album released back in 2008), was producing a new record for Chris."
Bassbin-worrying rufige from Charlie Baldwin aka Kasket aka Cocktail Pary Effect on Pinch’s Tectonic Label
In pursuit of his 2018 EP for Cold, CPE steps up to its parent label with a granite cut quartet of heaviness, displaying some serious subbass nous in the writhing minimalism of the title tune, while ‘Triops’ hinges hard drums around a heart monitor bleep, and ‘When The Gun Claps’ harness a proper bone-rattling swing groove beside the ruthless rail gunning drum attack of ‘I Feel Sick.’
Buttechno’s debut LP returns to vinyl orbit, throwing down some of his gunkiest misshapes and drily icy, technoid dubs
First self-issued in 2015, ‘СПОРТ’ was the first cranky signal from Moscow’s Pavel Milyakov aka Buttechno, Since then he’s regularly soundtracked Gosha Rubchinskiy’s runway shows and turned out some seriously sought-after zingers such as the ‘City-2’ EP and a zippy electro pack for Veronica Vasicka’s Cititrax, but ‘СПОРТ’ catches his sound at its grubbiest and primordial, as though it just crept out of the ‘zone’.
In 12 wormy blatz, he dissolves and mutates the rawest strains of radioactive techno with freehand hardware chops, skulking thru a series of cold, reverberant antechambers where pranging, skeletal figures writhe in the darkness, jostling bones and scratchy synthetic textures in a mix of asymmetric rhythms and phosphorescent ambience that gets the geiger counter going.
Wildly polychromatic synth-pop and late ‘80s dancers from the “Polish genius of Synthesisers” Władysław Komendarek. Hits right between the eyes of Stroom chin-up Soviet disko and the earliest strains of Eurobeat. We can only imagine this music must have been a major splash of colour against the backdrop of brutalist tower blocks and strained socio-politics in late ‘80s Warsaw, although trying to imagine this soudtracking Kieślowski's Dekalog is causing our minds to short circuit...
“Akuphone presents a compilation of Władysław Komendarek, the Polish genius of synthesizers. This selection comes from three albums released between 1987 and 1990, a very important political and social period in Poland, marked by the last convulsions of communism. Komendarek’s music offers a unique patchwork of synthesizer sounds, “art of noise” and cosmic flights far beyond the realm of conventions that dominated the Polish electronic music scene at the time. It brings a weird mixture of electronic, proto-techno, eurodance and progressive music.
Instrumentalist and composer, Władysław Komendarek (born in 1948 in Sochaczew, Poland) was a member of the legendary group Exodus in the 1973-1983 period. But the pioneering achievements of Komendarek in the field of electronic music were revealed with glory in the 1980s with the start of his solo career. Equipped with various analogue synthesizers –even some of his own manufacture–, he began to explore the sounds of the Earth and the Cosmos. Intensely drawn to electronic instruments, he tried to use them to their maximum capacity. For over forty years now, he has been a restless and tireless seeker of beyond-the-earthly sounds hiding in synthesizers which he has tried to reveal to the world.
Thanks to their richness, the liner notes provide an immersion into the Polish electronic music scene. Written by the musical journalist Łukasz Komła, liner notes include a text on Władysław Komendarek, Pioneer and rebel by choice, a Brief history of electronic music in Poland, a short biography and a paper on the Social and political context in Poland in the 80s.”
Killer, frazzled acid techno steppers from Buttechno for Moscow’s Gost Zvuk powerhouse
The newest in a hail of bullets by Pavel Milyakov’s Buttechno follows from Flaty on Gost Zvuk with a club-ready quartet of cuts driven by pummelling kicks and drugged on claggy atmospheres.
Up top he drills home the desiccated ghettotech kicks, claps and acid chirrups of ‘Project One’ at a mean 150bpm+, then keeps the pace up with the ceramic-finished acid attack of ‘Boloto Acid’ for that hardcore rave in an abandoned public bog feel. Down below he drops the tempo to a slouchy junk jack of ‘2cx Tech’, and the visceral electroid pinch/punch of ’Subsonic II.’
Entr’acte reveal the avant-pop undergrowth of Tel Aviv’s Ohad Fishof in a deeply strange, oneiric album touching on warped synth-pop and ambient noise with a platte of improvised, frazzled electronics, melodic percussion and multi-part pop vocal harmonies. Issued weeks after the reissue of Amnon Raviv’s unhinged ‘Mirror’, and the recent sideways aces from Malka Tuti, we do wonder what the heck is going on Tel Aviv
“Ohad Fishof is an interdisciplinary artist. He began his artistic career in the mid-eighties as the energetic teenage leader of the pioneering Israeli post-punk band Nosei Hamigbaat. His subsequent time-based art, ranging from dance pieces and performance acts (often in collaboration with his partner, choreographer Noa Zuk) to sound and video installations as well as recorded and live music, has been presented worldwide. Fishof performs his music regularly as part of his solo multimedia and dance works. He also has an improvised music duo with conductor and music curator Ilan Volkov.
Soundtracks aside, ALBUM 1 is Ohad Fishof’s first solo album. Some of the music on it was originally created in the context of other art projects, and was then rearranged for inclusion here. Technically electro-acoustic, stylistically idiomatic and liminal, ALBUM 1 carries a strong sense of narrative and seems to be taking place somewhere in the fantasy territory of ethnographic fiction. Its echoes of exotica on one hand, and post-punk on the other, are shaped into idiosyncratic song forms, fronted by changing voice characters.”
Christian Fennesz relays four compelling deep space images from his unique electro-acoustic microcosmos in ‘Agora’, the Viennese artist’s first album since ‘Bécs’ 
Borrowing its title from the ancient greek word for a gathering place, ‘Agora’ finds Fennesz creating highly detailed, alien ecologies of sound riddled with myriad, interlaced dynamics, but each singular in their scope. They variously transition from wide-open to busy, hyper-populated zones of enquiry and back again, but paradoxically enough all come as the result of one man in his spare room, composing inside a pair of headphones.
Change of circumstances meant that Fennesz couldn’t use his usual studio and by necessity was limited to what was at hand in his spare bedroom-turned-studio - just like the old days when he wrote his first record. These limitations pushed him further to explore worlds of possibility contained within his guitar and computer, with drily functional titles such as ‘In My Room’ invoking ideas from both Alvin Lucier and J.G. Ballard to explore vast realms of reverberant, imaginary space, while ‘Rainfall’ feels to emulate a lush spring downpour over bust city streets, all splitting greys and oil and concrete reflection, and ‘Agora’ radiates into every corner of the synthesised soundfield with gloriously detached, isolationist effect, alongside the bittersweet then and coruscating texture of ‘We Trigger The Sun’.
Zamaan Ya Sukkar is a rich musical portrait from the time when Cairo was the vibrant cultural heart of the Middle East and the grandeur of the leading orchestras was incomparable.
"Un-earthed latin and jazz-tinged tracks will let your mind drift off to the glamorous nightlife of 60's Cairo. Meet some forgotten souls of the Egyptian music scene and cinema world. Sensual voices and Bolly-wood-like orchestra sounds inflame the senses of the body with an in-tangible exotic twist!"
Bristol Cando duo’s debut on Livity Sound’s Dnuos Ytivil series with a trio of tribal sidewinders
Slotting snugly into the label’s bassbin-testing remit, the duo work out a sort of hazy Andean techno psychedelia with a thizzing meld of panpipes and clip-clopping cumbia-like rhythms in ‘Bleak’, which really isn’t, whereas the desiccated ‘Bleak Dub’ is, while the swingeing syncopations of ’Sundown’ shows off a distinguished percussive suss comparable to Beatrice Dillon or the one like Peverelist.
Peach-dealer Jonny Trunk presents a ripe beauty with Ernest Berk’s haunting, technoid 1970 ballet soundtrack - newly rediscovered and remastered from original pressing by Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle).
Receiving a long overdue release proper, ‘Electronic Music For Two Ballets’ is the first readily available example of Berk’s conviction that electronic music best suits contemporary experimental dance performance. He was hardly the first to acknowledge this - Merce Cunningham and John Cage, Pierre Henry, Xenakis all wrote music for contemporary dance - but this rare, surviving example of Berk’s work perhaps most starkly highlights a line from his work to the stripped down, keen angularity of Jlin’s stunning score for Wayne McGregor’s ‘Autobiography’ in 2018. And it’s with thanks to Jonny Trunk that we can even hear Berk’s piece to draw that link, as the original LP was long thought lost in a tragic collapse of the Historical Archive Of The City Of Cologne, who owned his entire collection, until a copy mercifully resurfaced with his family.
With interest in Berk piqued some years ago by a Wire article, which lead to fruitless searches for his music, this LP, along with a couple of tracks on the CD accompanying Ian Halliwell’s ‘Tape Leaders’ book, make a scant amount of Berk’s work now available in the public sphere. It serves to prove he had a keen understanding of electronic music’s potential to generate thrilling movement in dancers, just as the rest of the world has realised over the past 30 years on a much wider scale.
A dancer himself, who arrived in England after fleeing the Nazis, Berk “feels that electronic music is able to express the feelings of contemporary society in a more potent and communicative way than conventional forms of music”, according to the original LP sleevenotes. As you’ll hear in the LP, he patently uses electronic music for its suggestively proprioceptive/spatial qualities, using it to create clearly structured yet abstract narrative frameworks of communication between dancers and audience. Following a theme about “modern youth and its ritualistic behaviour” you hardly need to know that to enjoy this record. It’s a must-check for anyone fascinating by the deep, instinctive connection between electronic music and dancing bodies.
‘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.
First vinyl pressing of a killer suite by “Queen of The Nile” Om Kalsoum, or “Souma”, written in 1969 by a then young composer, Baligh Hamdy - contemporary of electric guitar king Omar Khorshid. Heady, intoxicating stuff
“Om Kalsoum! They call her ’The Rose of the Nile’, ‘The Queen of the Nile’, ‘The Daughter of the Nile’ or even ‘The 4th Pyramid of Egypt’ since she’s known as the greatest Egyptian singer of all times. Om Kalsoum’s mythical life story of a poor peasant girl who grew up to become the face of Egypt is a 20th-century fairytale. Almost half a decade after her death the power of her music and singing is still moving the hearts of millions of people worldwide.
At the end of her overwhelming career she was introduced to the young but brilliant composer Baligh Hamdy who wrote this 30 minutes lasting monument for her in 1969. In the footsteps of Mohamed Abdel Wahab, the godfather of Egyptian modern music, Baligh Hamdy refreshed the classical Egyptian orchestra sound with the addition of stylish instruments like electric guitar (Omar Khorshid), organ (Hany Mehanna), accordeon and horns that were adapted to the eastern tonal system. The studio version of this immortal “Alf Leila we Leila” must undeniably be archived under the best recordings ever made in music history!”
‘Day Of My Death’ is Pavel Milyakov aka Buttechno’s noisily poetic soundtrack for Gosha Rubchinskiy’s S/S 17 show, held in the Florentine warehouse depicted on the LP sleeve
First issued in late 2016, ‘Day of My Death’ marked Buttechno’s part departure from cold, grubby, beat-driven styles and a fine embrace of billowing, textured guitar and synth noise and poetry set to ominous ambient backdrops.
Across the six tracks it’s easy to hear Milyakov germinating ideas that would be more fully explored over subsequent releases. The searchlight synth pulse of ‘Monoliths’ and the two tracts of Italian language poetry ‘Intense Low’ and ’SH Blues’ establish a cold, cinematic gaze that would be more fully explored in this year’s ace ‘La Maison De La Mort’ LP for Berceuse Heroique, while the ripping guitar lash of ‘GTR I’ feels like Stephen O’Malley kissing the sky. Factor in a piece of his signature, bare bones electro dub with ‘606 Juno’, and the strung-out, flickering flame of ‘Ambience’ and you’ve got a must-have bit of the Buttechno catalogue.
Old skool Chicago acid belters from Hot Mix 5 Records, racked up for a re-release by Still Music
Strictly 1988-89 vibes inside, rounding up the slinky swing of ‘Dream Girl’ by Pierre’s Pfantasy Club next to the rude grab of Pierre’s ‘Can You Feel The Bass’ and ‘Jiggawatts’ jackers with Roy Davis Jr and co’s Phortune, plus the head-swilling churn of Armando’s ‘151’ (a staple of Jamal Moss DJ sets), the deeper touch of Coom McCool’s ‘World Turns Around’, and two tried ’n tested slices of 303 genius by Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers, ‘The Juice’ and ‘Ecstasy.’
Blume once again expand our horizons with this remastered reissue of the sole recorded output of visual artist Winfried Mühlum-Pyrápheros, originally released as a small private pressing in Germany, 1970, and known by no more than a handful of heads in the years since. If you have an interest in minimalism, sacred music, the work of Fluxus, Tony Conrad, Henry Flynt, or indeed Eliane Radigue and Jani Christou - we urge you to dive head-first into this precious find from one of the best labels in the game.
Following a long but elusive line of Artist Records - records made by artists whose primary output exists within the context of visual rather than sound art (see Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwiters, Dieter Roth, Joseph Beuys etc), this highly absorbing work for organ, violin, percussion and triangle was recorded at a Franciscan church in Bensheim and follows a graphic notation system made by Muhlum-Pyrapheros (an image of which is included in the liner notes) which offered the players a common path for the recording. Originally intended as a musical accompaniment for a slide presentation of his work, Musica Nova Contemplativa is essentially an acoustic extension of his art, described by Bradford Bailey as “...a lost work from the height of musical minimalism”.
"Droning and tense, subtle melodic elements underpin sheets of tone and atonality, sculpting an incongruous sense of spacial ambience, the conception of Musica Nova Contemplativa, drew on a unique, unfixed compositional system, created by combining traditional musical notation with mobile and variable elements, expressed graphically as a system of coordinates which leave variation, interpretation, and improvisation up to the performer. Captured as eleven distinct movements, the work, with hindsight, can now be understood as lost, freestanding work of musical minimalism - echoing idiom’s roots in Fluxus and the raw temperaments of artists like Tony Conrad and Henry Flynt, threaded with touchstones in the work of Eliane Radigue, Giacinto Scelsi, and Jani Christou.
Born in Germany during 1941 and educated in philosophy and psychology, over the last half century the bulk of Winfried Mühlum-Pyrápheros’ artistic output has been largely oriented around painting, sculpture, and installation, each focused on the experiences of phenomena, environment, and light. Musica Nova Contemplativa, beginning as graphic score, composed in 1964, then interpreted and recorded by Mühlum-Pyrápheros on violin and Johann Georg Ickler on organ, three years later in a Franciscan church in Bensheim, is a logical extension of the artists broader concerns - seeking further territories of inclusive and expansive environments of experience. Intended as acoustic extensions of his paintings, the collective contents of the album are a metaphysical and esoteric rising in sound."
Gogeous, while-away ambient improv thought bubbles expressed in the northern wilds of Canada. A must check for fans of Jonny Nash, Suzanne Kraft and Gigi Masin works...
“Like many Canadians, Joseph Shabason and Ben Gunning like to untangle themselves from urbanity and disappear up north a few times a year. Unlike other cottage-goers, Ben and Joseph don’t while away the ur-time on jet-skis and lounge on docks reading pulpy mysteries. Instead, they bring a car full of synths, drum machines, saxophones, guitars, samplers, effects, and recording equipment to jam the days away in a cabin-fever inducing haze of wood smoke, cedar musk, hot wires and jazz sweat.
Muldrew, recorded on the northern Ontario lake by that name, is the culmination of several years of this collaborative tradition. Resisting their penchant for composition and arrangement, the duo embarked on this project with only an open framework that encouraged restraint. The result is a sparse and improvisational album, hung on enough structure for each song to evoke a distinct, albeit ambiguous mood. Space is paramount and even the most digital elements breathe with the resonance of the room and mingle with creaking floors. The resulting album is steeped in the placid stillness and northern ambience of a lake at dawn, and the emotive expanse of a forest at dusk. Imagine an ECM cottage-series, or Jon Hassell, Hiroshi Yoshimura, and John Martyn scoring a Bela Tarr film set in rural Canada. This is the future-proof music of metropolitan polyglot minds invigorated by nature’s mute refusal to follow a click-track.”
Necessary reissue of super rare recordings by Juju master Ojo Balingo and band, sung and recorded In the Yoruba language (and other indigenous tongues) for the domestic Nigerian market
Basically ‘Tabansi’ is music written by and for Nigerians, or specifically the Yoruba diaspora which nowadays makes up a fifth of the Nigerian population. Juju is distinguished from Highlife, which was written mostly for Western audiences and sung in pidgin English. While slight, the differences are crucial, and essentially Juju of the sort played by Ojo Balingo and his amazing band is the real deal Yoruban music, more often played on local instruments, sung in local tongues, and absolutely full of mesmerising West African percussive voodoo, with some era-appropriate ‘70s funk breaks and psyche Hawaiian guitars to boot.
“Popularised all over the globe by King Sunny Ade in the 1980s, juju music had actually been around for decades before. Resembling highlife music in many ways, juju could be described as a more traditionally African form, mainly played by Yoruba people for Yoruba audiences.Although the original sleeve artwork implies that this is a ‘various artists’ album, it’s pretty clear that it’s the same unnamed juju band throughout, performing two long tracks, one on each side. Side 1 calls forth more traditional juju sounds, whilst the darker Side 2 adds funk breaks galore. Psych-rock Hawaiian guitars, talking drums and political lyrics rub shoulders in this almost-unknown 70s juju rarity. Ojo Balingo, in Yoruba, means ‘rain comes’, or ‘a breeze comes’. And so it does, with this never-before reissued obscure collectors’ vinyl from the vaults of Tabansi Records.”
Dubplates and Mastering admirable assistance in reissuing this series of beautiful Wackies music can really be seen in all its glory on this 6 tracker.
Killer Pallas pressing of some understated but still sublime three part vocal harmonies. The mood is well dread with four cuts resembling prime period Black Ark Perry productions and the heartical pull of two Marley inflected numbers, making this another fine addition to the swelling back catalogue of joy emanating from Lloyd Barnes New York based Bullwackie vaults.
Ten albums culled from the deepest, weirdest co-op of record enthusiasts ever gathered under one banner. We’ve spared no expense packaging these, pairing the idea of the Art of Compilation with living and breathing art, creating little fortune cookies baked in a factory of forgotten dreams. Video games, pyramids, trading cards, matchbooks, mazes, lottery tickets, film canisters, yearbooks, and various other exercises in design absurdity.
"The previously unissued soundtrack to the 1964 western noir, discovered after 55 years in the Wayne Louis Moody archive. Sixteen languid guitar instrumentals, femme fatale dirges, and cinematic country crooners score the loneliest night of one man’s life. Packaged in a replica of the original octagonal film canister, with 36” x 27” fold out movie poster."
Pan Sonic + Charlemagne Palestine’s 20 year old drone album finally takes a new life on LP with this first pressing via Godbear following Staalplaat’s long sold-out CD
Forming the 2nd meeting on record between Palestine, Vainio and Väisänen after their 1997 hook-up with Pita (Peter Rehberg) on ‘Three Compositions for Machines’, their follow-up is slimmed down to the legendary pianist and Finnish wave shapers for an exceedingly tense, minimal, excursion marrying glacial microtonal chords licked with underlying, rhythmic subbass disturbance and occasional, off-key, distorted moraine that buckles the microtones from below.
Both sides of the equation maintain a tense equilibrium throughout the album, which, while originally divided in five parts, played thru seamlessly, whereas this new vinyl cut dedicates nearly a side per piece. Across its taut body Palestine and Pan Sonic sustain gossamer fine chords and swollen, sometimes unruly bass, appearing to under-do each other and never making any moves, but the tension just gives at point, sinking into subbass mire and slipping trains of thought out of line. It’s perhaps not entirely typical of either of them, and achieves a modest mix of their respective sensibilities.
The quietly rapturous sublime of ‘Tracing Back The Radiance’ forms Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s first new album since 2017 and a definitive entry to his golden catalogue,
Leading on from the pop-tight arrangements of ‘On The Echoing Green’, Root-Strata founder Cantu-Ledesma is accompanied on a return to glorious, smudged, widescreen canvasses by esteemed members of the U.S. experimental firmament including Mary Lattimore (Harp), John Also Bennett (Flute), Jonathan Sielaff (Bass Clarinet) and Roger Tellier Craig, among others. In two floating, durational pieces, separated by a pealing five minute ambient flute arrangement, Cantu-Ledesma and pals remind us exactly why we’ve followed his work so intently all these years.
Always a sign of good things is the fact that by 2 minutes into opener ‘Palace Of Time’, we’re fighting the urge to shut eyes and push off, which may look a bit suss at 3pm in an office full of people. However, that’s what we and many others are probably hoping for, and it’s surely delivers as the 20 minute opener flows its course of silvery piano streaks and softened metallic resonances with the warmest sentiment. The intermediary ‘Joy’ is slightly sharper focussed, as though rubbing the ears lense to allow Sielaff’s bass clarinet break the murk in slow, flitting saccades, before ‘Tracing Back The Radiance’ resumes a form of serene sonic therapy with melting sounds and ear-nuzzling timbral complexities which, in turn, relax and harmonise the world around us and make everything more manageable, even if only temporarily.
Legendary qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali and Brain Eno-collaborator Michael Brook’s 1995 album for Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records reappears on vinyl along with a previously unreleased song on the bonus download. First ever vinyl edition.
“Nusrat is generally considered to be the greatest Qawwali singer in our time. Born in 1948 in Lyallpur (now named Faisalbad after decolonisation in 1979), Nusrat was the son of a famous Qawwali vocalist— Ustad Fateh Ali Khan. Trained to be a doctor but studying Qawwali tradition secretly or with his father, Nusrat only accepted the vocation of singer after a dream: Ustad came to him, ten days after his death, and asked his 16-year-old son to sing. Nusrat declined, but after his father had touched his throat, he found the gift had come to him. As the dream continued, his father took him to a holy place, the dargah of Ajámer Sharif in Rajasthan, India.
With that Vision, Nusrat devoted himself to Qawwali, his powerful voice and concentrated expression lifting the music above the vulgarisations that represented Qawwali’s populist face in the Bollywood film industry. But despite a huge back-catalogue of more traditional concert recordings, Nusrat is no purist. His collaborations with Peter Gabriel, Bally Sagoo, Massive Attack and, most recently, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder for the acclaimed Dead Man Walking soundtrack or a proposed duet with Bjork, have pushed Qawwali beyond all previous boundaries.”
Séance Centre source an astounding bounty from Guadaloupe’s Gwakasonné, spanning balmy slow songs and gripping, uptempo drums nodding to Afro-Cuban, Pre-Colonnial and indigenous traditions under its colourful Caribbean wingspan
““Stop here!” exclaimed Robert Oumaou as we passed a mango tree on the side of the road just outside of Point-a-Pitre, the balmy capital of Guadeloupe. He filled a plastic bag with ripe fruit, and we set off on our journey across the small Caribbean island in search of musicians he hadn’t seen in years. On the way, we shared stories in broken French and English, stopping at truck stops to eat delicious fried fish. Robert took me to his hometown, and placed a mango and a flower on the grave of his teacher and mentor, a local poet. The seeds of Vwayajé (Traveller) were sewn on this trip, but shortly after returning home, I heard that Robert was ill, and he sadly passed away in 2018. This compilation was originally intended as a way to share Robert’s brazen work with a wider global audience, but it now also serves to immortalize his indomitable spirit.
Gwakasonné is the ecstatic articulation of Robert Oumaou’s artistic and political vision, a unified expression of his interests in American jazz, pre-colonial rhythms, Guadeloupian independence, and Créole poetics. Over the course of three albums, all released in the 80s, Robert piloted a revolving cast of musicians, a venerable who’s-who of Point-a-Pitre avant-jazz pioneers, to deftly intone his creative communal concepts. The songs on Vwayajé are compiled from these three releases, Gwakasonné, Temwen, and Moun, along with an electronic mantra taken from his 2007 solo album Sang Comment Taire. Viewed from our current artistic and cultural landscape, Robert’s work is exceptionally enduring, grounded in its declarations of freedom and foundational use of the Ka (drum) and voice, and prescient in its borderless explorations of protest folk, electronics, ambient atmosphere, music from the African diaspora, and spiritual jazz. The long-form hive-mind expression of the group has parallels with similar explorations by The Grateful Dead, electric Miles, Pharaoh Sanders, and even the Boredoms, but these are only oblique references for a truly peerless sound. Like other conceptual children of Gérard Lockel, the group was part of a progressive movement of like-minded musicians, such as Serge Fabriano, Dao, Erick Cosaque, and Gaoulé Mizik, who embraced Lockel’s modernist ideals, fusing Gwo Ka drumming and tuning systems with contemporary jazz and vanguard recording technologies. Robert’s ecstatic phrasings, embrace of electronic instruments, and daring lyrics set the group apart as the beatific expression of a sagacious soul.”
Brendon Moeller surfaces with a new album on Fluxion's Vibrant Music.
"Brendon Moeller is an artist that needs no introduction. The South African born living in the US, like few of his generation constantly challenges himself with new concepts and ideas, has incorporated techno, dub, jazz, ambient, sound design, to his works throughout the years. He has collaborated with labels like Echocord, Third Ear, Electric Deluxe, Prologue, Mord to name some. "Materialize" is his first work for Vibrant Music. From his early days in various bands in the 80's and 90's, Brendon liked indie, shoegaze, ambient, moody, cinematic soundscapes.
With Materialize he has come full circle, reaching out to his early influences, but with the knowledge and experience of many years of exploration of modular synths, to create a concept space that feels intimate, and at the same time vivid evoking visual imaging. It explores the time space through a minimalist, stoic approach.
It tells the story of how we are all linked into this tree of music we call electronic music, wherever each one is coming from. A celebration of life through the mind of one of today's scholars of electronic music. A liberation from the strictness of tempo and metronomes, to reach to a more creative state."
After ace turns on Martyn’s 3024, Yak does it for Orson’s Version with a rudely percussive swang
Evidently a man of many tricks, Yak turns his hand to slower tempo with the same flair he applies to his uptempo, brukken beats; riding pendulous, live-sounding drums and cascading cosmic dub FX in ‘Umbra’, then clocking up the swingeing tribalist syncopation of ‘Kaepora’ on a frayed Tresillo pattern galvanised with technoid chord stabs.
Mysterious Sydney singer songwriter Justine recorded one album in ’79, which was never officially released. Left Ear have chosen two tracks for a 45 RPM 12” single, which they feel best highlights Justine’s unique vocal talents and songwriting ability. Here the crafty songstress wields melancholic soul and a funky Jazz inspired number with personal and reflective lyrics, both with an intimate and honest approach.
"Elusive Sydney songstress Justine (Bradley) almost entirely wrote, produced and arranged her sole LP in ’79, an album that was funded by a radio station as the beneficiary for emerging talent. The music was created specifically for radio play without any intention of being manufactured. Luckily however, a friend with ties to a pressing plant known aptly as ‘Midnite Flite’, managed to sneak into said plant one evening and press up a small number for the enjoyment of family, friends & those involved.
Left Ear have decided to release what they consider to be the two most significant tracks from this release onto a 12” single, now for the enjoyment of all. The A-Side will feature the haunting ‘Wordless Songs’, a melancholic soulful number which according to Justine explores the “capacity to comprehend a partner’s internal quest for authenticity and connection”. The B-side ‘Mama Didn’t Tell Ya’ is more uplifting in both tempo and arrangements comprising an extended outro, while the lyrics remain just as personal and reflective.”
Fruity jazz-funk, soul and boogie-pop flavours from 1984 Seattle via Hawaii. Newly remastered and reissued for the first time
“Maggie Herron was born in Muskegon, Michigan into a family of 12 children (she was number 9). She began taking piano lessons as a little girl and was the church organist by the age of 10.
At age 18, she hitchhiked across the US, arriving at the Olympic National Rainforest in Washington State where, in an off-the-grid cabin with an old upright piano, she began weaving pop and folk sounds with her classical training. Maggie soon started performing in Seattle alongside veteran musicians who introduced her to R&B and jazz. Her writing and performing style continued to evolve with these new influences. Eventually the Northwest’s gloomy weather propelled her further west, to Hawaii, where she has made her home ever since and continues to record and perform today.
On these songs, Maggie shows the soulful side of her jazzy chops over two mid tempo groovers that live somewhere in the great sweet spot between AOR and modern soul, with jazz as the foundation. Recorded right before the advent of the digital era, the organic grooves of her band lay the foundation for her impressive vocal range that she is taking to great heights at the end of the A-side."
Brilliant collaborative debut album of riveting noise and widescreen synths by Merzbow and Posh Isolation’s Vanity Productions featuring two longform, elemental works transmuting worries about ecological disaster into a torrent of spirit-gnawing, experimental noise that surpasses the sum of its parts.
Masami Akita and Christian Stadsgaard both hail from places with a lot of coastline vulnerable to sea level rises, ‘Coastal Erosion’ sees them grasp the nettle of impending doom with typically gauntleted grip and an unswerving intensity that speaks to clear and present concerns. While perhaps not the most obvious bedfellows for collaboration, the artists patently share an emphatic empathy for the situation that resonates through their music, where human forces of emotion intersect elemental chaos in a pair of poetically tempestuous, even harrowing works.
Merzbow’s visceral, primal roar sustains a perpetual force of attrition that constantly threatens to overwhelm VP’s widescreen, panoramic pads on both of the LP’s monolithic tracts. But it’s due to their democracy of vision that they speak as one, rather than over each other. On the A-side’s 18 minute ‘Erosion Japan’ they connote the frothing might of the Pacific tide encroaching and destroying towering walls of steel and glass with an arrestingly Ballardian quality to their instrumental description of violence and anguish. The B-side’s 17 minute ‘Erosion of Denmark’ follows with a more pensive arrangement of low-lying, unyielding drone frequencies smeared to stereo extremes and overlapped with spirit-penetrating shards of distortion, limning the prospective submergence of the Danish peninsula and its archipelagoes with a Thunbergian seriousness and intractable logic.
Taken as a profound warning or as an elegy for anthropocene extinction, ‘Coastal Erosion’ is a frighteningly powerful statement that leaves its message like the murky stain of flood waters inside the mind.
Troops, the wait is over for Ancient Methods’ debut album with ‘The Jerihco Records’, a 14-track set bristling with vocals by Prurient, Cindytalk, King Dude and Wahiba Khadri, and guest production from Regis and Orphx
For pretty much the first time we really hear Michael Wollenhaupt a.k.a the sole serving member of Ancient Methods really stretch his legs in all directions, with results ultimately ranking as perhaps the definitive industrial techno album of its generation.
Biblical in concept and scale, ‘The Jericho Records’ takes the world’s oldest, longest inhabited city as muse for a incredible showcase of futurist/primitive rhythm and sound, melding Michael’s trademark so-stiff-it’s-fuucking-funky-as-fuck drum patterns with a much broader range of instrumentation and voices than any previous AM release.
To get down to business, DJs and dancers need to clock the highlights in the cataclysmic shock of ‘Twelve Stones to Divide Jordan’s Sand’, as well as the bare-faced rage of ‘The House of Rahab’, the searing ‘Crack and Collapse In The Storm of Lights’, and the incendiary payload of ‘Omen’s Duty’ or the appearance of Prurient on the trampling thunder of ‘Walking on Cursed Soil’.
But we’d be remiss to overlook the moments of contrast in the Arabic EBM mutation of ‘Array The Troops’ featuring synths from Regis; the Muslimgauze-like meld of whirling percussion and horns in ‘The City Awakes’; or the clashing scimitars of ‘Swordplay’; while ‘The Seven Shofars’ and ‘In Silence’ impressively attest to AM’s unrepentant obsession with darkest, ritual ambient electronics.
Just hoof it all down and ask questions later.
Balmy ambient relaxants from Andrew Wilson (Andras Fox) and John Tanner (Eleventeen Eston)
"Wilson Tanner come to shore with a new album of floating melodies, lightly salted. Throwing electroacoustic conventions overboard, Andrew Wilson (Andras) and John Tanner (Eleventeen Eston) recorded this new work aboard a 1950s riverboat with a resourceful array of weatherproof electronic instruments and a long extension lead. These eight compositions pull in a by-catch of maritime folklore; of Siren and Selkie, Seagull and engine oil slick. A change of course from their debut album 69 (Growing Bin Records, 2016), the ambient temperature drops as II casts out to sea in uncertain weather and returns to the safe harbours of Port Phillip Bay.
The seafarers head out to My Gull’s poised optimism. The birds watch but do they listen? By the arrival of Loch and Key, the shoreline has dissolved completely, the boat floating in serene infinity as the rest of the world spins. Conditions soon take a treacherous turn on Killcord Pts I-III - a 12 minute odyssey that battens down the hatches as these sailors eye merciless waves and blinding ocean spray, jointly channelling Berlin-school electronics and sea legs. In the aftermath, the waterlogged bleeps of Idle survey the damage as our parched crew sound the distress signal and ultimately descend into delirium.
Known for navigating individual courses as solo musicians, Wilson and Tanner’s collective storytelling is saturated in detail, buoying between tension and harmony. II modestly stands as some of both artists’ most accomplished material.”