Funky and f**ked-up studies in DIY dance music and noise from Gunnar Wendel (Kassem Mosse) as DJ Residue for TTT
Recorded over the course of “five days in summer in an apartment with no AC in New York with random instruments found inside the apartment (a moog radioshack synth & two zildjian cymbals).”, the results are a testament to Wendel’s ingenuity and economy in making the most of what he’s got to hand.
The results resemble Powell oddities as much as the worn-down grooves of Shamos or the stoic minimalism of Thomas Brinkmann, except more lo-fi. On the A-side he roves from blank-eyed and muggy drones in ‘Blackline’ to the off-centre pump and patter of ‘Hand-Crafted Among The Stars’, and a sort of salty, needling electro-acid on ‘Triple-Arched Gateway’. On the B-side, he tramples from the discordant triage of ‘Meditation Fee’ to the pulsing slug of the title track and a sort of free jazz blatz to finish with Shallow Bowl.
The debut album by UK/South African duo Okzharp and Manthe Ribane.
"Okzharp says 'most of the music came out of headphone moments in hotel rooms, planes and airports in the brief periods of time that we spent together, mainly on tour, in Paris and later Vienna', a city Manthe describes as a 'beautiful dream place'.
Okzharp describes Manthe as a ‘co-producer’, ‘she selected instrumental sketches and we developed them together, sometimes just keeping the bare bones or a melody or rhythm, or trying different elements or sounds.
Even thought the album was built long distance, the short periods they spent together were the ground zero for creativity, Okzharp recalls 'One particular moment in Milan last year, ‘we had a whole free day before our flight so we visited the Salone di Mobile design show. We were so
inspired by an installation there just walking around, listening to the amazing soundtrack.
That evening our flight was delayed, so we sat on the floor of the airport terminal putting musical ideas down for 'Time Machine' on the laptop speakers and writing the lyrics. "Tic Toc time, we'll be fine /Airport queues, cerulean blues / Viper trails cross the skies / Lights reflect in your eyes...'
The album has a softness and openness that contrasts the tougher sound of the EPs. Manthe explains, 'The new music is a 360 turn, It an expression of my “Lady” side, I grew up listening to Jazz, Classic and Gospel, I am a very soft spoken person, and it resonates with being confident with that. It's been crazy finding balance and finding a smart way to strengthen my weaknesses, I had to trust the process.’ Of the songs she says ‘They are part of the world now, I hope everyone feels motivated and inspired to be more after listening to the album.’”
Unsung West Coast maverick Carl Stone is subject of a necessary 2nd retrospective on Unseen Worlds following their Laurie Spiegel/Don Christensen and Jacqueline Humbert & David Rosenboom releases.
As revelatory as the first volume Electronic Music From the Seventies and Eighties, the temporal shift into the ’80s/‘90s in this 2nd collection opens four hallucinatory new planes of ambient enquiry yielding some of the most interesting electronic music we’ve never heard before.
Progressing farther along Stone’s timeline we find him refining the flow of his practice in four prime examples of his work within the parameters of real-time electronic music performance and process. With computerised sleight of hand, all four works reveal a magick of metamorphosis, demonstrating how fixed elements can become im/perceptibly changed over time.
In Bantreay Srey we hear a lone vocal slowed down into evaporating helixes of floating tones, while the percolated glassy chain of Sonali appears to predate the playful brilliance of his glitching pop cut-ups in its keening, frothy drive leading to a secreted Mozart chorus.
Woo Lae Oak follows with a sublime play on tension between levitating flute lines and a backdrop of strobing, hyper electronics keeping us rapt for its 23 minute lifespan, before another extended number Mae Yao aligns the senses in a sort of digitally windswept segue from hyperventilating female vocals to shimmering shoegaze radiance hinting at gamelan music, but never quite resolving at either.
To be honest, we’re still nowhere near getting our heads around Carl Stone’s body of work, but this and the last volume are a great place to start probing, and likewise his Al-Noor CD if his more popwise aspects take your fancy.
Metasplice return an absorbingly elusive, minimalist shadow of their former, noisy selves with ‘Mirvariates’ for Will Bankhead’s The Trilogy Tapes
Following a slight hiatus and a canny rethink of their sound, Metasplice’s first new studio album in five years, Mirivates defines the Philadelphian duo’s acute inversion from noisy roil to shimmering lower case sounds across seven tracks embracing negative space as a vital new part of their music.
Gauging by the skinny, barely-there aesthetics of Marinates, one would be forgiven for thinking that Metasplice only submitted the scrubbed stems of the album to TTT. However, closer listening reveals a series of oblique, abstract electro-acoustic ecosystems that bristle with virulent energy, perhaps emulating the varied ambiences of a space station (“Mir”?), the coded inner dialogues of stressed out machinery, or the sound of the Internet of Things plotting their take-over of humanity in encrypted electro-magnetic chatter.
Over the course of seven tracks they pay special attention to volume dynamics and texture, with fathomless abstract shapes looming from the darkness in persistently reorienting and amorphous style, as the imagined “walls” of each piece seem to dissolve and establish new dimensions within each cut, from the tentatively perilous explorations of ‘Cirrension’, to the free jazz-like squabble of ‘Teleric’, thru the clipped gamelan resonances of ‘Vase Weight Re-Route’, and the Xth Reeflexion-liek fuss of ‘Aridtaq’, and up to the parting, side-long denouement of ‘Speculen’, where a melodic spirit seems to be seductively struggling thru their finely graded textures and airborne sediments.
It’s all effectively and undoubtedly a radical break with past Metasplice releases, reeling away from the ‘floor to somewhere much more abstract and difficult to properly fathom with words. It’s best to just treat these recordings like seashells scavenged from the liminal shores of perception, awaiting your close ear inspection and interpretation.
Malka Spigel and Colin Newman’s Immersion vehicle tours breezy, instrumental ambient-pop variations in ‘Sleepless’, their follow-up to ‘Analogue Creatures Living On An Island’, still bearing hallmarks of their respective work with Minimal Compact and Wire during the late ‘70s and thru the ’80s
“Sleepless is at once a logical development from Analogue Creatures and a huge leap forwards. Although the influence of German krautrock pioneers like Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh is still detectable, Immersion have evolved their own far more personal sound. Their amalgam of fascinating textures and limpid melodies gives their compositions an irresistible appeal.
While warmly percolating analogue synths remain at the heart of Immersion’s sound, Sleepless finds their sonic palette broadened to encompass guitars, drums and bass. There’s a guest appearance from Matt Schulz of Holy Fuck, too, and a collaboration with Gil Luz and Assi Weitz of EBM band Hexenschuss.
Album opener ‘Microclimate’ is a bright, optimistic composition with shades of Ulrich Schnauss in its thoughtful, melodic flow. ‘Off Grid’ kicks off with the infectious sound of a four-string tenor guitar, but it’s soon joined by flickering synth-lines and one of Spigel’s characteristically spacious bass-lines. In fact, Spigel’s bass work throughout the album may be the finest she’s ever committed to tape.
Just as you think you might be getting the measure of the album, the title track opens with a richly melancholic brass arrangement. But this is then eclipsed by an Eastern sounding melody and strangely circling guitar line. Like all Immersion’s best work, it’s simultaneously mysterious and emotionally engaging.
‘Propulsoid’ has the kind of urgent electro-glide that might suggest Moon Duo or Suicide, but the core melody is unmistakably Immersion. The strict yet fluid drum pattern comes courtesy of Matt Schultz of Holy Fuck, who provides the track with a strong motorik drive.
‘Manic Toys’ is another distinctly up-tempo track, which comes across as a weird deep-space hoe-down, while ‘Seeing is Believing’ begins with dark synth tones suggesting we might be listening to the soundtrack to an early 1970s dystopian sci-fi film. But as the piece evolves, there is something of the bucolic splendour of Boards of Canada to be heard in the cycling rhythm and rich drones. Album closer ‘Io’ sees several looping celebratory melodies overlaid to create a mesh of sound that is elegiac and uplifting.
Sleepless is widescreen music – lush, detailed and smartly executed. In short, Immersion have produced an album that politely but firmly demands your attention.”
Four beautiful, exceptional ambient nocturnes bloom again on a very welcome 30th anniversary reissue, newly packaged together by Grönland for the benefit of your health...
David Sylvian and Holger Czukay’s Plight + Premonition  & Flux + Mutability  bouquets remain some of the most enigmatic ambient recordings of the ‘80s since their conception at Czukay’s converted cinema studio in Köln, 1986. But, while Sylvian was ostensibly coming to record vocals for the last track on Czukay’s Rome Remains Rome LP, the legendary Can figure ended up surreptitiously recording Sylvian improvising on whatever was at hand, only stopping the recording when the results started to become too “structured”, in effect capturing moments of less conscious, more freeform expression, and preserving them for what would become some of the most spellbinding and transportive recordings in either artist’s catalogue.
Recorded during their fateful first meeting just as glasnost was beginning to thaw the cold war, the two parts of Plight + Premonition tentatively mirror this transition from the shadow of nuclear war towards open windows of possibility in the dawning mists and gently windswept synths of Plight (The Spiralling of Winter Ghosts), and the again with a genteel flush of harmonic colour perfusing shortwave radio signals and glimmering keys hinting at the promise of seductively warmer uplands in Premonition (Giant Empty Iron Vessel). On the follow-up side, Flux (A Big, Bright, Colourful World) that horizon comes clearer into view with the earthy percussion of Jaki Liebzeit joining Czukay and Sylvian to beckon the light along with Can’s Michael Karoli and woozy, Hassell-ian Flugelhorn by Markus Stockhausen, son of Karlheinz, before the lead pair calibrate a mutual vision of reserved but quietly optimistic lushness in Mutability (A New Beginning is in the Offing).
Buchla synth supremo Todd Barton’s hyperstitious soundtrack to Always Coming Home, an ‘80s American sci-fi novel by author Ursula K. Le Guin, is yet another ingenious recording dug out for reappraisal by Pete Swanson and Jed Middleman’s Freedom to Spend label - a division of RVNG Intl. Expect alien folk songs in made-up language, set to richly evocative backdrops of location recordings subtly gilded with self built instruments and synth contours. Properly immersive, otherworldly - think Breadwoman meets Lonnie Holley recording for Fonal.
“Music and Poetry of the Kesh is the documentation of an invented Pacific Coast peoples from a far distant time, and the soundtrack of famed science fiction author, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home. In the novel, the story of Stone Telling, a young woman of the Kesh, is woven within a larger anthropological folklore and fantasy.
The ways of the Kesh were originally presented in 1985 as a five hundred plus page book accompanied with illustrations of instruments and tools, maps, a glossary of terms, recipes, poems, an alphabet (Le Guin’s conlang, so she could write non-English lyrics), and with early editions, a cassette of “field recordings” and indigenous song. Le Guin wanted to hear the people she’d imagined; she embarked on an elaborate process with her friend Todd Barton to invoke their spirit and tradition.
For Music and Poetry of the Kesh, the words and lyrics are attributed to Le Guin as composed by Barton, an Oregon-based musician, composer and Buchla synthesist (the two worked together previously on public radio projects). But the cassette notes credit the sounds and voices to the world of the Kesh, making origins ambiguous. For instance, “The River Song” description reads, “The prominent rhythm instrument is the doubure binga, a set of nine brass bowls struck with cloth-covered wooden mallets, here played by Ready.”
According to writer and long-time friend of LeGuin, Moe Bowstern (who pens the liners for the Freedom To Spend edition of Kesh), Barton built and then taught himself to play several instruments of Le Guin’s design, among them “the seven-foot horn known to the Kesh as the Houmbúta and the Wéosai Medoud Teyahi bone flute.” Barton’s crafting of original instruments lends an other-worldly texture to the recordings of the Kesh, not unlike fellow builders Bobby Brown and Lonnie Holley. Bowstern notes, “Other musician / makers have crafted their own Kesh instruments after encountering the earlier cassette recordings that accompanied some editions of the book.”
Both Barton and Le Guin are sensitive to the sovereignty of indigenous Californians and were careful not to trample the traditions of the Tolowa people who lived in the valley long before the Kesh. “You research deeply, and then you bring your own voice to the table,” said Barton. Within the Kesh culture, the numbers four and five shape the lives, society and rituals. Barton composed loosely around these numbers, patiently listening to the land of Napa Valley for signs and audio signals from the natural elements. Todd incorporated ambient sounds of the creek by Le Guin’s house and a campfire they built together.
The songs of Kesh are joyful, soothing and meditative, while the instrumental works drift far past the imaginary lands. “Heron Dance” is an uplifting first track, featuring a Wéosai Medoud Teyahi (made from a deer or lamb thigh bone with a cattail reed) and the great Houmbúta (used for theatre and ceremony). “A Music of the Eighth House” sends gossamer waves of the faintest sounds to “float on the wind.” Like the languages invented in the vocal work of Anna Homler, Meredith Monk, and Elizabeth Fraser, the Kesh songs and poems play with the shape of voice.”
A classic from academic and atrtist John Maus - sounding something like a cross between Autre Ne Veut and Joy Division - with a bit of Joe Jackson and Visage thrown in for good measure.
It's just one of those albums, it reminds you of something else almost constantly, yet leaves a smudged mark all its own on your psyche. This review from Jordan Redmond / Tiny Mix Tapes pretty much sums it up:
"Being an academic, John Maus understands the imperative to only release bodies of work that are conceptually sound and completely actualized. With Pitiless Censors, he sought to break into a new creative period but was disappointed that it was only a “consummation” or logical conclusion to the sound on his previous two widely-available albums (Songs and Love Is Real).
Based on the evidence here, Maus needn’t have any reservations about the body of work that he has released into the world. Pitiless Censors is a sparkling album, a lo-fi synth pop masterpiece that manages to give endless aural delights while still being intellectually engaging, and despite having been caught at the center of a whirlpool of current movements, all of which reflect some aspect of Maus’ style, he has only cemented his identity as a singular, unimpeachable figure. When confronted with music like this, it’s impossible not to be a believer.”
A must for lovers of affective pop music.
A Wolf Eyes masterpiece comes back to take your mind with this expanded reissue of their ‘Dread’  killer, re-cut at D&M and now featuring a bonus digital track taken from their ‘Sandpapered Eyes’ CDr
‘Dread’ is among the very earliest and gnarliest Wolf Eyes releases. It features the unholy trinity of John Olson in formative formation with Aaron Dilloway and Nate Young, each playing a fizzing and spitting disarray of tapes, electronics and guitars interspersed with scant vocals, and fundamentally catching the group at their most ragged and primitivist during a time when underground rock and noise was in need of new ideas.
The seeds planted in Dread sprout in the pavement cracks between sludge metal, avant-garde electronics and punkish No wave, establishing a low down and dirty sound that would eventually become known as Trip Metal. But it’s fair to say that their modern sound is generously polished when compared with these nascent, evil doings, where half-cut drum machines drunkenly slur in a torrid union with Nate Young's vocals, at times recalling throat-scarring hardcore, and at other reminding of Mark E. Smith with a bad cold on some home-brew.
In swapping out rock’s macho posturing for genuine, certifiable madness, and effectively reducing it’s structures to rubble, Wolf Eyes forged one of the most deadly records of the early ‘00s, which still remains utterly compelling today, 17 years on. And just in case you’re the insatiable type (you’re a Wolf Eyes fan, it’s most likely), the bonus cut of ‘Sandpapered Eyes’ should finish you off to the bone.
Theo Parrish commemorates one of the UK’s most important clubs for a whole generation, London’s Plastic People, with 3 x CDr’s spanning the full length of his 4hr 36min set at the club’s closing party
It’s a room recording, so you get all the excited natter in the background while Theo cuts loose on the filters, regularly bringing the crowd to ecstatic whoops and whistles...
The track-listing isn’t included but it does exist online thanks to some proper knowledge, and we can pretty much guarantee that if you’re investing in this piece of history, you’ll want to know what da fuq he’s playing!
Pure Ork fuel from Belgian rave bastard DJ David Goblin a.k.a. David Coquelin, one of the nutters behind the brilliant PRR! PRR! label - close affiliates of Low Jack’s Editions Gravats
Going ham with nobs of new beat, EBM, hardcore techno and gabber, DJ David Goblin has just cooked up one of the maddest CDs that you’ll hear in 2018. It’s unmistakably daft in that suddy, sozzled Benelux style; the type of gear that could feasibly trigger an outbreak of St. Vitus Dance in modern day Brussels.
There’s two shorter cuts that should come in handy with certain DJs, namely the hi-tech folk pounder ‘Squigpipe’ for the Nkisi fans, and the relentless breakcore choppage of ‘Mordor Fuka’, but the main bulk of ‘Ork Muzik’ is two longer, megamix-styled cut-ups; 20 minutes of drunken master swagger and potty rave leads called ‘In The Klub (Goblinized Traks)’, and the mad patchwork of ‘In The Street (Goblinized Traks)’ cutting from bombed out electronics thru early Shackleton, collapsed rave classixxx and fluoro outernational soundsystem styles.
Grade A bangers!
Topdown Dialectic make a sort of systems-based dance music that finds not-so-distant precedents in K. Leimer/Savant as much as Actress, NWAQ, Madteo and Jen Jelinek's Farben project. Over 8 tracks on their debut LP you’ll hear trace echoes of disco in frayed flux with fathoms-deep dub bass, soulful chords and swathes of electro-acoustic ephemera, somehow maintaining a sense of hypnagogic coherence that’s a total pleasure to follow.
“The dissociative electronic designs of incognito American producer Topdown Dialectic originated as a set of software strategies, rather than compositions in the traditional sense. The recordings are captures and edits of various nonlinear sound-systems, shifting conditions, and reactions to internal changes. Despite such a conceptual basis the music is hyper-sensory, evocative, and emotive, meshing the impossible sonic geometries of early UK warehouse bleeps and IDM stutters with the gritty spatial abstraction of Basic Channel to chart dynamic and diaphanous electronic topographies, at once decentralized, parallel, and environmental.
The eight identical-length tracks comprising this self-titled vinyl debut demonstrate the breadth of the Topdown sound world: shuddering, circuitous, textural, kinetic. Algorithmic arrhythmias phase and pulse and oscillate, chopped voice samples flutter within buffering static, peripheral melodic fragments glitch and glide in and out of time. It’s an aesthetic both autonomous and expressive, impersonal and inscrutable, in keeping with artist’s roots as a central operative in revered anonymous cassette collective, Aught. This is compelling, composite music, instigated as much as created, like obscure machinations occurring deep in the labyrinth of a server somewhere.”
After a nervy début with ‘The Future of Discipline’ , the Leichtmann / Tricoli duo gel in more sensuous curves and oneiric space on their 2nd collaboration for Entr’acte
Pulled along by viscous grooves in la Casa delle Chimere|, it feels like the duo found a new route out of their previous tangle of tape loops, percussion and FX, only to periodically lose the thread and dissolve the rug woven by their noumenal looms.
Recorded live to two-track at Plivka, Kiev, in 2017, the results resemble the environmental sound of an alchemical lab or some experimental machinery workshop that comes to life afterhours when nobody is listening - seemingly documenting inanimate objects in etheric dialogue, drills seducing vices and soldering irons secreting flux on live circuit boards, perpetually short-circuiting half-built systems.
In the best way, we hear both artists’ well established processes and approaches subsumed into a greater, indivisible whole with plenty of ephemeral remainders that will keep you coming back the plate.
Tim Hecker’s bittersweet 2nd album, his introduction to many listeners, comes back around on vinyl for the first time in 15 years (with his debut LP, ‘Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again’ in succession)
Yielding all the shimmering tingles, washed out textures and coruscating sensations his fans have come to know and adore, ‘Radio Amor’ remains a burning highlight of the Canadian artist’s oeuvre, which now includes some 10 albums and as many other EPs and such, most notably in modern classics such as ‘Ravedeath, 1972’ and a collaborative album with Daniel “0PN” Lopatin. However, with hindsight, it’s possible to say that none of them cut quite as deeply or linger in the memory quite so indelibly as this one..
Sarah Davachi’s quietly stunning first side for Sean McCann’s Recital Program. It arrives in the tremulous wake of the widely acclaimed 'All My Circles Run' album to offer a sublime reaffirmation of Davachi's genius for anyone who’s followed her work over the last few years, and also acts as an unmissable entry point for curious newcomers, especially anyone smitten with the methods and effects of music by Eliane Radigue, Kara-Lis Coverdale, or Mark Hollis.
Sarah’s work has been intimately concerned with the phenomenology of sounds and the way in which, once “released” from the player and instrument, they move in chaotic and unpredictable ways, effectively taking on a new life of their own. In order to exert some control over those factors, it’s perhaps understandable that Davachi's music is most often slow and the result of ostensibly simple gestures, but thanks to her preternatural attention to space and tone, those careful motifs generate a complexity of overtones that have become her coveted secret ingredient.
After alchemically turning her hand to whatever instrument is within reach (she’s been known to turn up at venues without an instrument and improvise on unfamiliar gear) for previous releases and shows, Davachi opts for the Mellotron and an electronic organ on Let Night Come On Bells End The Day, rendering five variegated improvisations that feel vulnerable yet somehow increasingly assured in her perceptive powers.
Most impressive among them are the gently coruscating chamber figure of Mordents, which makes an imperceptibly glacial transition from legible motifs to a gorgeous blur, and the heartbreakingly funereal drift of Buhrstone, especially when it really starts to keen out of the lines. But that’s not to say less of her hyaline beauty At Hand, or the time-melting dimensions of Hours In The Evening - as with all of Sarah’s work, they’re just aspects of the same, amazing whole.
Lushest suite of productions from Bamako, Mali’s Luka Productions - a prolific artist with a distinctively melodic, breezy style that sounds like it was produced by Actress circa R.I.P. or American cloud rap instrumentals. Seriously this is one of the records we've listened to most for the last couple of months and will surely be right up there among the year's best...
Luka is behind hundreds of tracks for local rappers who queue up for beats outside his small studio; a modest set-up including a PC running Cubase, Reason, Fruityloops, plus a keyboard and mic for sampling balafon, djembe and vocals.
We’re quite honestly left a bit tripped out and light-headed by this one, there’s a subtly breathtaking innocence and simplicity to his mix of electronic and (sampled) acoustic compositions which many other producers could learn from. From the richness of his harmonised synth and vocal arrangements in Furu Boyan and the new age tones of Christianise, to the rugged yet elegant grooves of Yelen and L’excision, or the way that Dambéfoil with its wicked electro breakdown seems to parallel UKF and Afrobeats, he’s really pushing all of our buttons here, but most of all with those curious ambient pads draped over Terriya, the same ones that make Dignètignena sound uncannily like a Lena Platonos piece.
Seriously, pinch us now. Are we dreaming or is this really amazing?!
Raw yet sophisticated deep house, acid and electro clearly schooled in the classics, from Glasgow’s Stephen Lopkin
Continuing a run of Gaelic-located or themed titles for M>O>S, Clyde Built is perhaps the definitive batch of Lopkin's emotive and puristic style following ‘The Haggis Trap’  and ‘Meall a’ Bhùiridh’ .
Nodding to Glasgow’s heritage as the entry point for so much imported American dance music as well as its industrial past, Lopkin forges 10 aces over two plates, with divine results inspired by Detroit classics in ‘Fragments of Yesteryear’ and ’Stupid Humans’, along with the lush house traction of ‘White Corries’, some B12-esque electro in ‘Decades’, and a heavily seductive stripe of Reese-bassed techno in ‘Fridays at Pure’, at Carl Craig-goes-Italo flavour in ‘Welcome To Nowhere’.
Comprised almost entirely of synths, drum-machines and Maus' own vocals, 'Songs' could well be the bastard offspring of Giorgio Moroder in Eighties Soundtrack mode - with the kind of bitter-sweet melodies and baroque flourishes that framed so much teenage-angst during that decade.
Kicking off with the prosaically titled 'Opening', Maus plunges us into a grandstanding bout of church organ that climbs and climbs... Before wrapping itself up with the minimum of fuss. From here, 'Time To Die' introduces us to that signature vocal style that has an Ian Curtis bruise atop it's clipped-glottal brusqueness, whilst the backdrop is made up of fizzing electronics and skyburst melodies.
Elsewhere, 'Maniac' is a pulsating electro-pop nose-bleed, 'And Heaven Turned To Her Weeping' is the sound of scarred electronic skies, whilst 'Just Wait Till Next Year' takes a cue from Bowie in it's AM melodies. Odd on first listen, appealing on second and proper smitten thereafter, John Maus has more than overcome expectations with this cracked mirror view of the Eighties.
Alex & Jonsi & co provide a fittingly romantic soundtrack to the Black Mirror episode about the perils of dating apps and the way AI might impinge on future love lives
“Late last year Sigur Rós producer and frequent collaborator Alex Somers hooked up with the band once again to deliver original music for ‘Hang The DJ’, one of the flagship episodes of the most recent Black Mirror series.
‘Hang The DJ’ comprises 16 new Somers compositions, plus ‘Match’ and ‘End’, the two new songs co-credited to Sigur Rós and Alex Somers.
Somers composed the Black Mirror episode on the back of recent scores for the silent movie archive epic, Dawson City: Frozen Time, and Viggo Mortensen vehicle, Captain Fantastic (also released on Invada), both of which have drawn wide praise. He also collaborated with Sigur Rós mainman, and boyfriend, Jónsi on the music for the US TV atomic bomb drama Manhattan.
Previously, in their Jónsi & Alex guise, the pair made the much-loved ambient masterpiece, Riceboy Sleeps, in 2009, with Somers going on to co-produce Sigur Rós’s 2012 and 2013 albums, Valtari and Kveikur.”
'Forse 1' is the unmissable solo debut by Alessandro Cortini ov Nine Inch Nails.
Alessandro has this to say: "All pieces were written and performed live on a Buchla Music Easel, in the span of one month. I found that the limited array of modules that the instrument offers sparked my creativity. Most pieces consist of a repeating chord progression, where the real change happens at a spectral/dynamic level, as opposed to the harmonic/chordal one. I believe that the former are just as effective as the latter, in the sense that the sonic presentation (distortion , filtering, wave shaping, etc) are just as expressive as a chord change or chord type, and often reinforce said chord progressions.
Of all the years with Nine Inch Nails the period spent writing and recording the instrumental record Ghosts I-IV is probably the one which changed my approach to music making the most. After that record I started getting more into instrumental composition, although I tried to approach it in a different way. While we had a vast array of tools and instruments at our disposal then, I decided to approach my pieces limiting myself to one instrument only, as I found myself being more decisive when faced with a limited creative environment."
At last, here’s a first taste of production and vocals from Clara! following that series of killer Reggaetoneras mixtapes - the first time Clara's own material has been available for public consumption. It’s a crucial followup to Low Jack’s massively in-demand ‘Riddims du Lieu-dit’ session on the BZH series and provides pure heat for fans of Equiknoxx, Low Jack, The Bug….!!!
Following the recent 3rd volume to Clara!’s cult, female MC-focussed ‘Reggaetoneras’ mixtapes, ‘Meneo’ slings three vocal cuts, plus two instrumentals and an acapella, serving to reveal Clara! as a deadly vocalist and producer alongside Brussels-based Maoupa Mazzocchetti, who’s best known for his EBM/industrial misshapes, and as member of An Ultimate DJ for PRR! PRR!
Hailing from Spain’s northern coast, Clara! presents a unique spin on the imported reggaeton styles she grew up listening to and eventually DJing at beach parties in her home region, before moving to Paris and Brussels. Combined with the more industrial rub and tug of Maoupa on the instrumentals, they render a piquant spin on reggaeton proper in Ruge, where Clara! masterfully glydes over acidic bass and dembow drums, also handily included as instrumental and acapella.
Flipside, on ‘El Ratón’ they resurrect and version the seminal ’90 bashment anthem ‘Playground Riddim’, tilting it 20 years forward with resonant tweaks and plasmic textures infiltrated by another effortlessly slinky and on-point vocal from Clara!, before the duo really push the prism with the paso-doble vamps and raving chicanery of ‘Discordia’, the EP’s maddest and hyper-colourful number, again featuring Clara!’s wickedly poised and playful vocal.
The result is a delectable new take on Caribbean futurism, presenting Clara! as a vocalist to be reckoned with, and rendering a whole new angle to Maoupa Mazzocchetti's production style after years of gristly, technoid beat-offs.
Tim Hecker's 'Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again' was the Montreal artist's first album under his own name (he'd previously released under the moniker, Jetone) and very much sets the blueprint for what was to come over ensuing full-lengths.
In the early days of his career, Hecker was often compared with Fennesz, with both artists mining a similarly beautiful line in fizzy, glitch-laden digital soundscapes.
'Music For Tundra' would certainly seem to share the same vernacular as Fennesz's Endless Summer, but Hecker's sound is less song-like in essence, placing greater emphasis on subtle drone variations. Towards the album's centre, 'The Work Of Art In The Age Of Cultural Overproduction' stands as arguably the album's most impressive entry, intertwining a snarling distortion with granular melodic fragments and vicious, wind-like currents of noise; a sonic conceit that's been refined and expanded by Hecker over the years, but which has seldom sounded better than it does here.
A remarkably enduring piece of work, Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again has aged well, contemporary electroacoustic drone enthusiasts unfamiliar with it should dive in.
Third EP from San Francisco-based trio INHALT, German for “content”. The group was founded in 2009, and for the purposes of this recording are Matia Simovich, Philip Winiger and Steven Campodonico.
"INHALT’s core operative strategy is of sonic fidelity and integrity rather than nostalgia. Their first release was a split 12"" on World Unknown in 2011 followed by two EPs on Dark Entries, a remix EP on Emotional Especial and a Part Time Punks Session on Cleopatra. ‘Commerce’ is a close examination of the self destructive tendency of the ego in relation to the allure of negativity and mass tragedy.
The EP details the psychopathy of relentless thirst mandated by neo-liberalism and traverses through the adoption of social and economic technologies that strengthen domination vis a vis self enslavement to disempowerment. Employing the best of both modern and vintage techniques, the four songs on the EP utilize dense production, big snares, and powerful German vocals from Philip. INHALT are informed by the brooding soundtracks of John Carpenter as much as the vastness and sheen of Trevor Horn, and set out to explore the borders between the vocal-driven pop song and the expansive dancefloor 12″ arrangement. The record was produced over four years at the bands own Black Sun Loft recording studio and Different Fur Studios."
An early, in-demand John Maus gem, ‘Love Is Real’  bubbles back up on pretty pink wax in the wake of last year’s ‘Screen Memories’, the ‘Addendum’ album, and an eponymous boxset compilation
On ‘Love Is Real’, Maus presented a slightly more low-key follow-up to his definitive ‘Songs’ album, which attracted a whole wave of listeners who’ve likely been smitten with the pop perfectionist ever since.
To be honest, ‘Love Is Real’ comes from a blindspot in our memories (we can clearly recall days spent with ‘Songs’, but not this one) and as such may as well be a new Maus release for us, and we’d imagine many others who either slept on it or can’t be arsed paying steep 2nd hand prices.
It’s stuffed with signature, floating melodies, rounded harmonies and of course laced with Maus’ singular baritone, which works right on the cusp of knowing pastiche and timeless pop proper in a style that has become his trademark. References can simply be stated as “the ‘80s”, as Maus pays canniest tribute to a wealth of music that everyone knows and feels, but with a dreamy spin that somehow brings out the oddness and melancholy of nostalgia in a way that’s maybe comparable with Burial’s hauntological approach to the not-so-distant as much as the hook-riddled craft of his spirit-brother Ariel Pink.
Unreleased baroque jazz horror score to controversial lesbian sex cult witchcraft exploitation drama from 1973, composed by the man who wrote the Catweazle theme! Hell yeah!
"Ted Dicks is not that well known as a composer these days, but back in the mid 1960s he was composing library music as well penning some of the greatest comedy songs of the era, including “Hole In The Ground” and “Right Said Fred”. His work was performed by Kenneth Williams, Petula Clarke, Bernard Cribbins, Topol and more. But until now, little has been known of his brief flirtation with film music.
Virgin Witch was his first brush with film scoring – one of only two score he wrote. The film was produced by legendary wrestling commentator Ken Walton (under his Sexploitation pseudonym of “Ralph Solomans”), with the help of Hazel Adair, a woman famed for co-creating the long running UK TV soap Crossroads. Virgin Witch was a racey film, turned down at least once for certification by the BBFC, passed uncut with an X for release just in London, then cut and passed for general release shortly afterwards.
The score itself is a unique and quite beautiful pop baroque work, utilizing the cimbalom, an instrument more than likely played here by “Ipcress file” musician John Leach."
Following an uncredited appearance of his ‘Fr3sh’ gem (off PAN’s Mono No Aware comp) on the new Kayne album, Cairo’s Kareem Lotfy gives a broader account of himself in a lush addition to the Quiet Time Tapes series
On QTT10 Kareem reprises and expands on the billowing aesthetics and melancholy feel of Fr3sh across a 33 minute set that reveals hitherto unheard aspects of his sound, from windswept rhythms to textured field recordings and vaporous dub influences.
In opener Asmar he pursues a sound somewhere between the mutating abstractions of Wanda Group and Xth Réflexion, while the layered field recordings and FM interceptions of Sundial Radio hint at an ancient futurism that come to light in sublime style, and Chromosome sounds out into vast ambient space between Global Communications and AFX’s SAW II - and we don’t use either of those comparisons lightly.
With GTO he inverts that epicness to a charming, lower case intimacy that effortlessly flows into the pastoral simulacra of Equilibrium, and Second Seed seems to bifurcate between a push and pull of sheer, alert high end tones and the secuctively hypnagogic attraction of the murky mid-ground, with Kwkab resolving the album at an gently upward ambient slant.
Joakim presents the varied results of his recording sessions in Xavier Veilhan’s Studio Venezia, a studio/sculpture installed at the 2017 Venice Biennale, which was also visited by Brian Eno and Sebastian Tellier
Using the studio’s rare instrumentation, including an Ondes Martinet, Buchla Music Easel and Baschet Cristal, plus some other synths, as well as aleatoric input from visitors to the Biennale, as source material for the final recordings, which take cues from Cluster’s kosmiche classics to rove between pastoral scenes such as Orange (Katie, USA), to clunky techno on Innuendo (Francisco, Spain), and bittersweet baroque themes in Dream (Roberta, Italy).
NYC percussion trio Tigue weave an entrancing ‘Strange Paradise’ from myriad instruments, both acoustic, analog and electronic, on a sublime and playfully intricate suite of rhythmelodic, Reichian studies in avant-classical and ambient minimalism
“Tigue is a group of three percussionists with a fluid musical identity. Praised for their energetic and focused performances, the members of Tigue (Matt Evans, Amy Garapic and Carson Moody) have played together since they were practically children — continuously making their own blend of instrumental minimalism while simultaneously performing in collaborative projects. Strange Paradise sees them building worlds as a unit, pushing each other to transcend the limits and expectations of their percussive instrumentation in the construction of long-form, radiant hypnotic soundscapes the group describes as “rendered in ecstatic complexity.”
As a result, Strange Paradise is a luminous, abstract, non-narrative world that funnels inspiration from patterns, objects, and relationships. Built on an intricate patchwork of tones where instrumental lines and textures shift in and out of alignment to produce a vibrating landscape, Strange Paradise is designed for a mode of “extended listening” — asking listeners to explore slow gradations of change between rhythm and texture. The album creates a sound environment that envelopes the listener but continually defies expectation — shapeshifting at each point it seems understood. Though the music floats from the serene to the uncanny, Strange Paradise is perhaps most notable for providing a distinct sensation of interconnectedness.
Strange Paradise was produced by Tigue & Seth Manchester, and recorded at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket, RI and Brooklyn, NY. The album was engineered and mixed by Seth Manchester, and mastered by Heba Kadry at Timeless Mastering. Special guests on “Triangle” include: Benedict Kupstas (guitar); Seth Manchester (guitar); Tristan Kasten-Krause (bass); Trevor Wilson (Wurlitzer); and Eliot Krimsky (OP1).”
Ron Trent reworks the chunky boogie-soul budge of Skymark’s ‘Find a Place In This Crazy World’, backed with the 2015 original, both cut loud ’n proud
The original is a radiant slice of soul revolving big, shuffling drums and a pealing vocal set in acres of reverb, while Ron Trent cools things out by a few degrees on the B-side with smoother groove and levelled vocals for duskier, gently gripping shuffle.
Superior Viaduct present a definitive early iteration of Steve Reich’s seminal ‘Drumming’ for the first time. Recorded at the work’s Town Hall premiere in NYC, 1971, its a more organic performance than the later, better known recording featured on Deutsche Grammofon’s recently reissued 1974 boxset
Inescapably one of the most important musical milestones of the last century, Drumming radically distilled percussive traditions from Ghana and Indonesia in a minimalist framework which revolutionised ideas about polyrhythms and phasing timbre in the context of classical music, and most specifically the body of minimalism, which was then only just emerging through the work of Reich and Philip Glass.
Performed seamlessly in four parts on eight small drums, three marimbas, three glockenspiel, piccolo and voice by an ensemble including esteemed percussionist Jon Gibson and vocalist Joan LaBarbera, Drumming Music calls for the percussion and voices to be percolated and phase shifted in a manner that essentially focussed on rhythmelody and slight timbral shifts, as opposed to harmonic development.
In a most beautiful sense, the piece places emphasis on a new way of listening to music which dispensed with the overblown gestures associated with the old world and pulled away from the harshness of serialism toward a sound which better reflected the rolling structures of ancient practices, while also discovering seductive new realms of exploration for Western Classical music in the process.
All that aside, it’s just an utterly entrancing piece of music that keeps listeners rapt to its syncopated subtleties for the entirety of its 82 minute duration. An essential piece in any collection.
‘Observing Objects’ is a quietly beautiful, improvised exercise in familiarisation between Eva Maria Houben, Rebecca Lane, and Sam Dunscombe, who had never previously played together prior to this recording
Based around simple, lingering gestures, in turn each player contributes single sounds which they observe and reflect upon before contributing their own, and so-on, with each consecutive part revealing more of the performer’s characteristics to the other.
Samuel Ekkehardt Dunscombe’s bass clarinet and Rebecca Lane’s bass flute occupy the lower registers and Eva-Maria’s organ and piano tend to the higher tones, each tentatively holding their bandwidth which only gradually overlap as the performers gain familiarity thru their practice, in turn generating more curious, querying and melting combinations as they work each other out.
A very welcome surprise. Don’t sleep on this!
Japanese percussionist and ambient pioneer Midori Takada meets her long lost daughter Lafawndah in an out-of-the-blue, self-released, 20 minute work scrolling from rippling rhythmelodies and glassy high registers to the entrance of Lafawndah, who beautifully sashays from operatic flights to R&B styles as Takada’s percussion rolls out and finally scales down to the smallest tinkles.
Modular synth botherer and multi-instrumentalist Ralph Cumbers takes it to the ‘floor for Happy Skull
Up top he drops the quirky, clipped strut of his acid wobbler ‘Charnel House’ and downtown he riffs on Adonis’ ‘No Way back’ in a style primed to mix with Gescom’s own take on those same elements in their ‘D1’  chop-up. One of the best we’ve heard from Bass Clef.
A highlight of KLO’s self-titled début album, the lilting bewt ’Birds’ appears here along with an epic, rolling disco-house remix by Prins Thomas, also included as a nifty ‘DJ Edit’
Prins Thomas gives KLO’s Bird some colourfully-plumed disco wings for a 17 minute diskomiks flight segueing from strobing, cut-up voices to gently undulating dub disco and a rolling, tribal disco-house groove and classical string outro.
Quiet Time Tapes début Bas Relief on ’QTT8’, following lovely editions by Huerco S and Phil Struck with a new addition of breezy ambient dream pop full of swaying harmonies, wind-picked strings and post rock swells, with detours into clipped beats...
"Bas Relief is the Montreal-based project of David Mitchell from emo act Gulfer and Will Osiecki, featuring other voices of the Canadian indie music scene such as Valeda and Fog Lake. This project brings their emo sensibilities and songwriting to an electronic sound palette, combining with influences of bass music, IDM and ambient.
This tape unfolds like an album, interweaving structured songs with short interludes and bringing guitar, piano, synths, and rhythmic static together with complex, mathy rhythms. David and Will are joined with the voices of Valeda and Naomi Soares for a set of melancholic songs."
Incredibly rich, sumptuous album from Tim Hecker, layering his particular blend of organic ambience with slivers of piano, found sounds and the quiet hum of abandoned machinery.
Playing counterpart to the processed acoustic transmissions of Fennesz, Hecker takes a much darker route, only offering relief from the mass of textures he concocts with deep buried remnants of melody and light. As a follow-up to Mille Plateaux's sublime "Radio Amor", "Mirages" is an even more majestic album, striding with a confident heaviness further out into the wilderness, deep into the night.
Frothy acid, washed out dub-house, sleazy electro-pop and smudged Balearantics from Australia
Cold Emotion debut with the louche, simmering acid-jazz-house of ‘Toast’ beside the gauzy dub-disco drift of ‘Cantao’ from Nap & D. Tiffany on the A-side.
Flip it over Ivan’s sleazy darkroom debut with the perfect marriage of prurient groove and icy vocal on ‘Manipulate Me’, while Metric Systems also make a smart introduction with the balmy slow/fast motion of ‘Adaptation Dub’.
Sun-seeking Afro-disco and Balearic-minded grooves from Jacco Gardner and Nic Mauskovic’s Bruxas
On their 2nd mission following the ‘Más Profundo’ 12” in 2017, Gardner and Mauskovich are joined by Jungle By Night’s Tienson Smeets on the drum stool to circle a four-square set of tropical rhythms and sun-blessed vibes, fanning out from the melting tension of ’Sirocco’ to the wave Ethiopiques-style synth runs and head-high beat on ‘Hermes’, before ‘Sirocco Remix’ turns that one up for suave dancers with something to show, and ‘Maria’s Holiday’ checks out on a prime, rolling groove sounding like a stripped down and stargazing ’80 Arthur Russell.
Masochistic club stress test from Enrique, delivering an acrid taste of his industrial Brooklyn ‘hood on Bank Records NYC
Both sides are a proper racket, pushing a brand of gnarly syncopation and red-lining, biting point distortion that’s bound to churn the ‘floor.
Studio Mule rebuild and rework another classic Japanese new wave peach to modern requirements...
Following their cover of Ohnuki Taeko’s Carneval, Mariah’s mellow glyder Shinzo No Tobira from the うたかたの日々  album is given a new lease of life in a straight-played A-side featuring the vocal re-sung by Miyako Koda (dip in the pool), but it’s Kuniyuki Takahashi’s B-side dub that gets our rosette, twisting cues from Adrian Sherwood’s remixes of Depeche Mode into a breezy and boomy piece of industrial dance dream pop.
Room40 pair two much-loved and out-of-print Tim Hecker pieces on vinyl to mark the label's 15th year of editions and events.
The A-side finds Tim bunkered in the mine shaft at Sweden's Norberg festival on July 30th, 2005, where he coaxes out some 20 minutes of pealing chimes and reverberant cacophony making intrinsic use of the space's natural acoustics. After 10 years, thankfully 'Norberg' makes its first appearance on vinyl here.
On the other side we find the succinctly emotive eight minutes of 'Apondalifa', presenting its frayed ribbon of oxidising strings and electronics in its entirety for the first time (it was previously broken in two parts over a 7" in 2010).
If you're only familiar with Tim's better known work, this is a perfect stopgap in lieu of a new LP. Highly recommended!
Age Of is OPN’s eighth studio album and the latest chapter of a definitive American hauntological saga for this transitory, phase-shifting decade. It features Anohni, James Blake, Prurient, Kelsey Lu, Eli Keszler and others in various capacities...
Strewn across the prog-R&B vape chamber fantasias in Age Of, vocals often take precedence in a mix of auto-tuned Future-style soul, sadboy elegies, black metal croaks and warped stadium pop choruses, all in duet with 0PN’s signature synthetic chorales. The nature of film editing and writing music to imagery - as with last year’s Good Time OST - also seems to exert an increasing hold over his music, as the variation from scene-to-scene and range of voices in Age Of feels like an ensemble cast rallying around a patently visionary composer/director/artist.
In key with his (not hard to pronounce) moniker - it’s One Oh Trix Point Never, a play on the radio station Magic 106.7 - Lopatin’s music feels ever more like dialling into a chimeric, algorithmic radio station where anachronistic MOR and adult contemporary modulates with modern R&B, trap soul and Afrobeats in a very contemporary sort of hyperjazz-fusion that absorbs and transmutes emotional signals from electromagnetic ether - perhaps imagining Paddy McAloon alchemising with Future, James Ferraro mutually dreaming with Laurie Anderson, or Thomas Dolby jamming the airwaves with The Game.
After now spending some quality time with the album, we can safely hail it as one of 0PN’s smartest. Its lead single Black Snow, remains a total standout, and Prurient’s appearances, whether erupting from the choral froth of Warning, harmonising with Lopatin’s auto-tune on the David Gray-puckered Babylon, or the pop epic Same are all peak points. But we can’t ignore the excoriating excellence of We’ll Take It, which uncannily sounds a bit like Croww’s Slipknot deconstructions, and Last Known Image of a Song beautifully sounds like 4Hero gone ambient.
Concision and variation are key here. There really aren’t a lot of records that manage to collide pop and avant-garde worlds quite like this one.
More than 10 years in the making, this box set features the earliest recordings and the first book ever written about one of the most influential guitarists from the 1960s and ‘70s, John Fahey.
"The five CDs feature 115 tracks, most of which are available on CD for the first time. The audio was remastered from Joe Bussard’s reel-to-reel tapes to achieve pristine sound quality. As for the accompanying book, the list of scholars who contributed essays includes Eddie Dean, Claudio Guerrierri, Glenn Jones, Malcolm Kirton, Mike Stewart and John’s childhood friend R. Anthony Lee. Byron Coley contributed a poem about John, and Douglas Blazek’s 1967 interview with Fahey is published for the first time.
Released 10 years after John Fahey’s death, this set puts one of the final puzzle pieces of Fahey’s career in place. Everyone can now hear where this guitar legend got his start – a smoky basement in Frederick, Maryland. Co-produced by Dean Blackwood of Revenant, Glenn Jones, and Lance Ledbetter of Dust-to-Digital, this set is released with the support of Joe Bussard and the John Fahey Estate. The set is dedicated to John’s mother, Jane C. Hayes and the late musician Jack Rose."
One of the standouts from 0PN’s ‘Age Of’ album heralds its own single release, due to be packaged with two new cuts and the previously Japanese-only beauty, ‘Trance 1’
Intriguingly enough, ‘The Station’ is based on a demo intended for Usher that Daniel ‘0PN’ Lopatin wrote in his hotel room. He’s just shared the original demo online, and the topline is identical in both, but ‘The Station’ is also blessed with Daniel’s own autotuned vocal and aching trancey counterpoint to great effect.
Synkro and Arovane breeze between weightless IDM jungle in New Dawn, to whirring, air-stepping half step pressure systems on Facing North
Knitting a woolly jumper for the soul with Rhizome, and turning icier blue with the nostalgic synth-pop-like melodic arrangement of Aspen.
Glacial Sound finally supply the Riko's fierce VIP of Rabit's 'Black Dragons' for the masses.
The Roll Deep frontman sounds utterly fearsome over the Houston-based producer's tensile square waves and prickling electro/grime jolts, importantly in a way which should appeal to American audiences without losing any of the tune's UK-rooted credentials. In case the rents are listening in, there's a cleaner radio edit, too. Tip!
Symptomatic of the sublime, rhythm-focused ‘Dissolvi’ album from Steve Hauschildt
'Alienself’ catches him describing an underwater scene of of slow, pulsing bass, FX and gently swaying fronds of melody like a distant echo of Drexicya, Klaus Schulze or B12.