Alvin Curran’s outstanding mesh of soaring vocals, swooping subbass and glancing percussion in ‘Cante E Vedute Del Giardino Magnetico’  arrives as part of Superior Viaduct’s indispensable, educational reissue series for its first vinyl reissue since 1981. Bravo, SP. This is blowing our minds right now!
“American composer and multi-instrumentalist Alvin Curran has remained one of the great emblems of experimental music for the last half-century. In 1966, along with Frederic Rzewski and Richard Teitelbaum, Curran co-founded Musica Elettronica Viva, a seminal gesture in collective free improvisation. In the early '70s, his solo work would become a crucial bridge between minimalist traditions on both sides of the Atlantic.
Canti E Vedute Del Giardino Magnetico, Curran's solo debut, was recorded by the artist himself and issued on Ananda, the small Italian imprint started by Curran and fellow composers Giacinto Scelsi and Roberto Laneri. The piece itself was put together in the winter of 1973 and presented for the first time at Teatro Beat 72 (Rome's The Kitchen).
Encouraged by the work of Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Charlemagne Palestine and Simone Forti, Curran binds the listener to aberrant notions of place and time: blending field recordings (wind, high-tension wires, beach waves, etc.) with simple and often primitive instruments. Across two sidelong tracks, Giardino Magnetico forms a lyrical collage of synthesizer, glass and metal chimes, plastic tubes, brass and the composer's alluring voice – converging in an immersive realm of Curran’s inner / outer experiences.
This first-time vinyl reissue is recommended for fans of Harry Bertoia, Michel Redolfi and Lino Capra Vaccina.”
'Prata Bagnati Del Monte Analogo' is a sublime and truly rarified piece of occult esoterica produced by the famous Franco Battiato and originally published in 1979 on a series he curated for Gianni Sassi's Cramps Records.
This edition has been remastered from original tapes and mercifully made available again by California’s Superior Viaduct. It was inspired by the unfinished pataphysical novel 'Le Mont Analogue' by French writer Renè Daumal, himself a student of engimatic Armenian mystic Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff, whose teachings providing rich reference and spiritual guidance to the record's producer, Battiato, and its performers, Francesco Messina and Juri Camisasca.
A-side is a breathtaking 23 minute mediation played on Moog and Roland Vocoder synths, and EMS Synthi, stroking runs of gentle arpeggios over angelic pads with the sort of intimate pattern repetitions that could happily go on for infinity. Imagine a more sanguine, unhurried Iasos or Laraaji, or as Stephan Mathieu aptly puts it, "Vainqueur, Substance and Resilent as children chanting their vocodered chants" and you're there with us, floating lotus position one foot from the floor.
Raoul Lovisoni's B-side is more colourful and equally beautiful in its own right. His 'Hula Om' features Patti Tassini's purposefully wandering harp and intimate ambient sounds of the room it was recorded in, whereas the glassy resonance of 'Amon Ra' features a Lovisoni rubbing glasses to Juri Camisasca's chant.
Geographic North present an expertly curated, horror-themed compilation of exclusive aces from Félicia Atkinson, Pinkcourtesyphone, Ka Baird, Suzanne Kraft, CV & JAB, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Eluvium, Clarice Jensen, Arp, Ilyas Ahmed, Algiers and many more, all right in time for Samhain 2018
Mantled in reference to the seminal Nicolas Roeg flick, ‘Don’t Look Now’ , Geographic North’s 2nd collection of Halloween music shares much in common with the titular film’s classical scenery and unsettling psychology, with each contributor preferring inference and shadowplay over anything explicitly gory or sh*t-the-bed scary.
Bookended by prologue and epilogue from Sweden’s Arp, the set runs to 21 pieces in total, amounting to induce a nervously furtive state of mind fleeting between clammy anxiety, pensive midnight romance, and unshakeable uncanniness. It’s testament to Geographic North’s fine-tuned ears that the whole thing works so well, holding our attention by a silk thread for its feature-length 90 minute duration.
Like a movie, it’s best consumed in one go, but it’s worth pointing to key scenes such as Ka Baird’s nest of shivering keys in ‘Clearing’, and the cool tension between spiralling rhythms and tranquil chords in Felicia Atkinson’s ‘Little Things’ as crucial to the sequence, especially when contrasted with the more dread-filled nooks such as Robert Donne’s crushing dedication to Mika Vainio in ‘Rakkauslaulu’, the carmine seep of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s viscous organ wooze in ‘O Virtus Sapiente’, and the starkly sepulchral dynamic of ’Stabbing’ by Suzanne Kraft.
For our money comps rarely work, but much like PAN's Mono No Aware, Geographic North prove that with the right curation you can sometimes end up with something much more weighty then the sum of its parts, in this case an engrossing narrative full of darkness and light.
Suzanne Kraft beautifully paints outside the lines on ‘SK U Kno’, offering studio-rendered snapshots of material that gradually evolved into the pieces in front of you, drawing woozy connections between wistful ambient contours and more vaporous, hypnagogic loops, into unstable House and abstracted midnight Blues. One of the loveliest/smudged listens this year, huge recommendation...
On the A-side Kraft seduces with eight minutes of wilting chords and percolated synth voices in ‘Gaze’, before ‘Vast Mute’ breezes close to the kind of DJ Screw-style magick found in 0PN’s ‘Chuck Person’s Eccojams’, but to more abstracted, hazy effect.
His B-side follows with the beautifully mellow strums of ‘To Make A Stone Weep’ probing a Jim O’Rourke-like transition from acoustic balm to digital saltiness, and then we finally get to hear the full version of ‘Accelerate Me Wildly’, which now comes with an extra 12 minutes of astral synth-scaping and GRM-like electro-acoustics before it drops into killer, airborne funk trills and levitating chords with a proper West Coast US steez.
So good this one.
Marie Davidson is a synth-pop star for our times. Her belting 4th solo LP, ‘Working Class Woman’ is a definitive reflection of her character and current sound, including road-tested zingers from her powerful live show along with genuine surprises, while introducing a whole new wave of listeners to her charms.
In hot pursuit of the more ‘floor-friendly styles on her ‘Adieux Au Dancefloor’, and marking distance travelled since her cinematically sculpted ‘Un Autre Voyage’ for Holodeck, Marie’s 4th album inseparably binds the sound designer and dancefloor aspects of her sound in a sleek, witty, and totally captivating album which, for all it’s vintage touchstones, feels very symptomatic of 2018.
Her grooves are firmed up to direct functionality while the arrangements are as varied as anything from her intricate earlier works, resulting in big highlights on her live show favourite, the playfully raunchy EBM of ‘Work It’, and the rabid drum machine razz-out ‘Workaholic Paranoid Bitch’. But the amazing late ‘80s synth-pop-house of ‘So Right’ and the album’s two bookends of sardonic and sensual vocals, set to respectively pensive and sublime backdrops, really set this album apart from the crowd.
At 76 years old, you’d think virtuoso guitarist Mike Cooper would rest on his laurels a little, having continuously mined a seemingly bottomless well of inspiration for almost seven decades, spanning a countless number of recordings feeding his insatiable appetite for experimentation. For his latest album ‘Tropical Gothic’, however, he takes another sharp turn into more abstract terrain with a dark, brooding take on Exotika and Pacific music, sounding something like Jan Jelinek’s much loved Loop-Finding Jazz Records as rendered by Badalamenti and Lynch, before suddenly veering off into a tropical breeze...
Making use of his usual lap steel guitar, sampler and FX, Cooper provides a radical inversion of his style, switching from Pacific to Atlantic ocean to scouting out a looming deep south darkness lurking behind his usually balmy lap steel slide guitar blues. The title itself, “Tropical Gothic” references Cooper’s beloved areas of ‘the South’ with a Gothic, dark, remote interplay.
On each side Cooper studies different approaches to his method of weaving guitar and field recordings into a constant stream of sound, where he delivers chaos and melody - not necessarily in that order. Side A is composed of shorter pieces. Each of them offers a myriad of images and sensations, between the enigmatic and terror (“The Pit”), joy, happiness and freedom (“Running Naked”) or pure contemplation (“Onibaba”).
“Onibaba” runs as a fitting introduction to Side B and its 18 minute magical piece “Lelong & Gods Of Bali”. A mix of ambient exotica, silent film soundtrack and distorted rhythms that dance around Mike’s guitar. It keeps reinventing and transforming itself throughout those eighteen minutes, summing up the dexterity and muscle of Mike Cooper’s music of the last two decades.
Incredible music from a genuine unsung hero; yungers out there resting on yr laurels - take note.
Deep house craftsman Lawrence coaxes out trademark slinky bass warmth and playful drums on his 8th album since emerging at the turn of the century.
A perennial favourite of house heads in the know, the Dial Records co-founder continues to find iridescent variation within his style on ‘Illusion’, inducing the lushest hypnotic states with beautifully woven square bass and cirrus pads in ‘Treasure Box’ and the feathered flight of ‘Yu Yu’, while ‘Flaunting High’ seduces with some of the strongest bass work his side of Terre Thaemlitz, and ‘Transitions’ makes a lovely foray into midnight jazz-toned electro-house.
The overdue and overproof sophomore Young Echo album is finally upon us, dispensing an epic 24 tracks of subby, red-eyed and distinctively Bristolian vibes set to dank-out smoky dwellings everywhere. Arriving five years after Nexus, their eponymous second album features cuts from each of the 11-strong mob, framing a fractious mosaic of style and pattern rooted in dub and the dancehall, but unafraid to fxck with noise, techno, ambient pop and grime in their own way.
It’s a proper group effort, playing to their strengths in diversity and unity in the best way by keeping individual track credits close to their chest, only allowing the album to be taken as a whole. Yeh, of course everyone’s going to have personal favourites, but they’re only facets of a much bigger body, and it’s to their credit that the whole thing feels coherent, a shared experience, and doesn’t simply sound like a compilation of music by like minds.
Young Echo have always been a bit of sore-thumb in the scene - are they a band? A label? A soundsystem in the mould of The Wild Bunch? The one takeaway from all their material is a sense of shared purpose and democracy - not in the usual, arrogant indie band style, or in-your-face political militancy - pivoting around mutual ideas of economy of expression and a sensitivity to space, rhythm and tone that effectively all pulls back to dub, no matter their individual heritage.
Young Echo is an organic complex where light hardly penetrates its papyrus-like walls, and much of the most crucial communication is made via infrasonics and atonality, relaying messages and emotions both as metaphorical/physical vibes and quite literally thru a morphing voice, which might be gruff poetic realism of Rider Shafioque one minute, the crisply enunciated diction of Jabu or Chester Giles the next, while a number of ghostly, sampled characters also haunt its corridor, perfusing half-heard messages thru their smoky matrix.
It adds up to an album symptomatic of the times in which it was made, yet does so timelessly, bridging the original, super plush studio trip hop creation of their geographic forebears, Massive Attack or Portishead, with a more road-level appreciation of economy and soul which might be best recognised by members of their generation, but should also be felt by any open-minded and empathetic souls the world over.
It’s definitely not another fxcking coffee table record, we’ll give you that for free.
Evol dance on your tongue, down your throat and up yer synapses in ‘rabbit Trax’ for Diagonal
Following from the immense ‘Ideal 303’ blast and Evol’s overwhelming ‘Hardcore Vol.3’ package, ‘Wabbit Trax’ keeps the nutters on the ‘floor with three bendy acid techno bullets running thru seriously psychotomimetic permutations of 303 and pitching kick drums.
The wonky triplets of ‘Wabbit Trax 3’ will be out a stonking great grin on gurning mugs.
Includes fold-out A3 liner notes of an interview among Celli, Niblock, and Susan Stenger, plus original recording notes. Housed in tip-on style jacket
Phill Niblock’s riveting and rare work for Joseph Celli sees necessary and long-awaited reissue on the amazing Superior Viaduct, who continue to carefully and studiously unfold the history of avant-garde and experimental music before your ears. ‘Niblick For Celli’ is nothing short of stunning and life-affirming music, extremely transfixing and powerfully meditative. Play loud - it really comes alive with amplification!
“Composer, filmmaker and photographer Phill Niblock is a true pillar of the New York avant-garde. In the past 50 years, he has curated over 1,000 performances at his Centre Street loft and steadfastly built a massive, multidisciplinary body of work. While his earliest musical compositions date back to 1968, Niblock waited until the early '80s to release any recordings. Notion To Look At Just A Record, a powerful debut with densely layered trombones, would be the first to unfurl his unique approach to sound.
The second album and perhaps the most rare in Niblock's vast catalogue, 1984's Niblock For Celli / Celli Plays Niblock is a meeting of two great minds. Working with reed player Joseph Celli (a composer in his own right, who has collaborated with John Cage, Pauline Oliveros and Ornette Coleman), Niblock nimbly removes the breathing pauses from Celli's oboe and English horn to create seamless, enchanting drones.
Niblock insists that his music be played loud: only in this way can one experience the visceral ringing of these long instrumental tones through the speakers and their natural overtones generated by the room. Niblock For Celli remains deeply absorbing.
This first-time reissue is recommended for fans of Alvin Lucier, Yoshi Wada and Dome.”
‘Documento’ is a beautifully nostalgic minimal wave salvo from Valladolid, Northern Spain and Catalonia’s Slovenska Televiza duo
An astute study into the strange, unshakeable feelings associated with ‘80s cartoon soundtracks and the way childhood and formative nostalgia lingers over and permeates adult life, ‘Documento’ is a highly intriguing debut from the Wladyslaw Trejo and Lunademayo’s Slovenska Televiza, who are so named after the lasting impression of Czech cartoons’ vivid colours and soundtracks mixing classical and experimental electronic melodies.
It’s fair to say we totally subscribe to Slovenska Televiza’s hauntological notion, and also fair to say the five tracks flawlessly connote their subject across the A-side, flooding the senses with a range of emotions from the furtively mystic yet adrenalising opener ‘Invierno En Agosto’ thru the stark doom of ‘La Horrenda Noche’ and the pop-gilded romance of ‘Es El Ordenador’, to the chase sequence of ‘Muskiz’ and closing theme of ‘Slovenska Televiza.’
Here’s to waking up before everyone else on late ‘80s and early ‘90s mornings, getting your fix of sugary cereal, and being glued to syndicated foreign animations and the phosphorescing glow of their synthetic soundtracks.
Sterling first volley from Bristol’s Young Echo Records, featuring Sam Kidel (Killing Sound) and Amos Childs (Jabu) backing Rider Shafique’s incisive, intimate reflections on I-Dentity in modern Britain.
Perhaps best received as a clear response to the divisive, race-baiting politics our times, in both parts Shafique presents an ice-cool yet impassioned dissection of the state of playlucidly channelling his thoughts in a rooted, low-key style that resonates with the delivery and impetus of classic dub poetry from Linton Kwesi Johnson and Mutubaruka.
However, this being the first release from one of the UK’s most conscientious, variegated and distinctive outfits, don’t expect them to play to convention. This is most apparent in I-Dentity, where Shafique’s ennui and haunted ontological observations intersects Sam Kidel’s miasma of coruscating strings and insectoid inflection, creating a weightless, pensile and abstract space where Shafique ruminations on the stubborn hangovers of the colonial mindset and the semantics of its redundant taxonomies resonate in a wholly unique manner, similar to the way Kidel’s juxtaposed materials in his amazing Disruptive Muzak LP for The Death of Rave.
For a smart contrast, in the flip side’s Freedom Cry, Shafique spells out a more positive, stately message, hailing the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement against Jabu’s unfathomable, melting backdrop of slow, celestial jazz swoon, with the lyricist holding tight to his message at the centre of it all. If we’re totally honest, on previous records Shafique’s delivery has seemed slightly over earnest or, conversely, even too droll to us. But here it makes complete, affective sense.
Rob Hood’s seminal set of banging and experimental techno resurfaces for the CDJs on Peacefrog
Originally despatched in 2002 - pretty much equidistant from his earliest outings with UR and the modern day - ‘Point Blank’ breaks down squarely between his signature bangers and a couple of amazing, expressive, experimental pieces that pushed the Detroit techno paradigm into then-unexplored territory.
In the rapid flux of organ stabs and skittish electro 3-step of ‘The Art Of War’ and the utterly alien mesh of plunging bass and pizzicato arps in ‘Method B’, we find Hood at the extent of his Hi-Techjazz powers, while the rest of the set deftly delivers proper floor rockers, particularly in the intricate calculations of ‘Who Taught You Math’, the shivering strings of ‘The Body Human’, and his high-velocity killer, ‘The Pipes’.
Low-key, ambient updates of Washington Go-Go and boogie from D.C. area’s Davon Bryant a.k.a. Dreamcast
‘Outer Space’ bumps with a high-grade THC potency, distilling Go-Go into vaporous electronics, while ‘Up 2 You’ follows an old skool line of jazzy R&B boom bap, Future Times style.
Haunter’s chief spirit Daniele Guerrini a.k.a Heith turns Indonesian gamelan into spectral, plasmic ambient designs on ’Laguna’, his 2nd vinyl following ‘Silence Will Expire’ 
Coming from the same skool of unsettling ambient thought as Coil and their myriad side projects, ‘Laguna’ is a richly and purposefully meditative session patently in thrall to the complex, chaotic, yet subtly iridescent harmonic qualities of tempered metal alloys and South East Asian scales.
The A-side’s title cut finds him accreting and parsing layers of field recordings into a steeply opiated and viscous slosh resonating somewhere between Kink Gong and Sleazy’s The Threshold HouseBoys Choir, whereas the B-side’s ‘Tree Stand’ appears to invert that radiant effect with unsettling, endothermic dynamics and ‘Maria’ folds in Matthias Girardi a.k.a. Weightausend for a more mystic, tonal variant recalling the atmospheres of John T. Gast and M.C. Boli’s Gossiwor duo.
There are few voices more deeply embedded in the iconography and mythology of American indie rock than that of Chan Marshall.
"On her 10th studio album, ‘Wanderer’, Marshall resets her dials, offering a collection of winding, wondering narratives all perfectly imbued with the kind of yearning and warmth that have made her one of the most distinctive and beloved artists of her generation. Held aloft primarily by Marshall’s own guitar and piano and featuring appearances by longtime friends and compatriots, as well as guest vocals courtesy of friend and recent tourmate Lana Del Rey, the new album ‘Wanderer’ is a remarkable return from an iconic American voice."
Dylan Sheer a.k.a. Via App asserts her most hard-headed aspects with four gristly, thuggish bangers for BANK Records NYC after shots fired on 1080p and Lupin Tapes over the last coupla years.
Extraction makes a stumbling first move with scattershot kicks and whirlwinds of hi-hats resolving to boot the ‘floor in rawest form before slackening the reins and letting Desert Acid splash like a upended turtle in a puddle of battery juice.
Living Decoration keeps the freaky levels bubbling nicely with scrabbling top end screech fixed to a grungy, thistly thump and Rogue Nerve aims lower with a blank-eyed, punkish hump and retching metallic noise.
Consider this a proper taste of Brooklyn’s current underbelly.
Some of the most gorgeous, little heard DIY music of the early ‘80s finally surfaces with Rimarimba’s ‘Below The Horizon’, the first in Freedom To Spend’s reissue series of work by Suffolk, UK’s Robert Cox - all massively recommended to followers of Colin Potter, Woo, General Strike, Konrad Sprenger and homespun electro-acoustic music of all stripes!
Committing its first appearance on vinyl, ‘Below The Horizon’ documents Robert Cox in freehand exploration of his modestly built, four-octave Marimba, homemade electronic systems and FX boxes in the front room of his bungalow in Felixstowe, UK. He literally feels his way through the kit in subconscious search of an aesthetic that would firm up on future releases, but is quite beautifully caught in flux here, catching him probing at the edges of concrète, electro-acoustic, and minimalist frameworks in the wide-open spirit of post punk experimentalism.
Oscillating scenes of eldritch psychedelia and chaos with something like a miniaturised Reich on the A-side, before reaching out for the album’s titular horizon in the B-side’s durational meditation ‘Bebag’, the results are memorable, oddly regression-like - as though we’ve been induced to recall postcard images of a shared, hidden reverse. Two of those provide an unshakeably lasting impression, as the cascading, gently psychotomimetic cadence of ‘The Melting’ leaves us reminded of Derek Bailey or John Fahey in a lysergic ramble, and the durational B-side weaves its magick with a psilocybic alacrity that puts the LP’s cover image into context.
We can almost guarantee this side will be an end-of-year favourite, and at the very least should be a vivid, humbling reminder that untold joys remain undiscovered in the archives of so many artists form this fertile era of underground, or should we say ‘Below The Horizon’ music.
Air Texture hand the reins of ‘Vol. VI’ to Steffi and Martyn for a 26 track set of atmospheric IDM, electro, techno and D&B from friends, family and their favourite artists, including pieces from Stingray, Mosca, Actress, Shed, Herron and many more...
“The Air Texture series asks two producers/performers to provide a selection of unreleased music. The only guidance is the music should not be main floor bangers; other than that, the label gets out of the way, allowing them autonomy over their selection. For Air Texture Volume VI, Steffi and Martyn were asked to step up. Exciting, since as residents at Berghain/Panorama Bar, two of the most important dancefloors in the world -- how would two such respected artists approach our experimental ethos? Bringing together contributions from veteran producers such as Total Science, As One (Kirk Degiorgio) and Stingray, as well as contemporaries Actress, V.I.V.E.K. and Shed, the artists explain in a press release that the selected tracks are all "unique interpretations of a leftfield, non-linear aesthetic". Double-CD version features Synkro, Appleblim, Answer Code Request , dBridge and Lewis James, Tracing Xircles, Samuel Pling, Herron, Steffi, Afik Naim, Mosca, Novocanemusic, Mesak, FaltyDL, 214, Basic Soul Unit, Barker, Late Night Approach, Martyn, and KiNK. Double-LP version features: Steffi, Tracing Xircles, Basic Soul Unit, As One, Martyn, Afik Naim, Late Night Approach, and Answer Code Request.”
Brighton’s Wisdom Teeth rounds up their first four, vinyl-only split 12”s
From plate 01, the slinky dark garage torque of Wen’s ‘Late Night’ and the head-high strut of ‘Polliwhirl’ by Facta. Off plate 02 there’s Hodge on a squashed jungle tip with ‘X’ and the pendulous tangle of Acre’s ‘Don’t Get Me Started’.
Plate 03 gives up the decelerated grime of ‘Toxin’ by Etch and a darting 2-step ting from K-Lone, while the 4th plate stretches out from Alex Coulton’s Jam City-esque prancer ‘Radiance’, to the whisked bleep abstraction of ‘Tailwind’ by Chevel and the brooding swagger of Simo Cell’s ‘Escape The Fate’.
Ghostface Killah reprises a classic ‘90s sound on ‘The Lost Tapes’, starring a heavy roll call of hip hop heroes including Snoop Dogg & E-40, his Wu Tang alumnus Raekwon, Big Daddy Kane, Cappadonna and more. Production by Big Ghost
“In the 1st half of 2018, Wu-Tang Clan fans worldwide were hopeful that the previous sale of the one of a kind Wu-Tang album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, would change hands from the currently incarcerated owner Martin Shkreli to Wu-Tang affiliate Matthew “M80” Markoff who would release it freely to the public--- to be appreciated by all. In light of Markoff’s 1 million dollar offer, the sale never came to fruition and Markoff like most Wu-Tang fans simply wrote off the notion of the one of a kind album and any chance at ever being able to hear it after that.
Thinking where do we go from here, M-Eighty decided to link with Wu-Tang Clan’s own Ghostface Killah to bring the world a brand new studio album alongside legendary underground producer phenomenon Big Ghost. “This new Ghostface x Big Ghost album is definitely something that is going to blow the minds of Wu-Tang and Hip-Hop fans alike”, Markoff remarked as our collective goal in calling it The Lost Tapes was to bring fans back to that Ironman/Supreme Clientele/Cuban Linx Era sound. We set out to revive that, update it for 2018 and just like that we have a certified 2018 Wu-Tang Banger on our hands!
The Lost Tapes also features an All-Star Line-Up including; Snoop Dogg, E-40, Big Daddy Kane, Raekwon, Masta Killa, Cappadonna Killah Priest, Sheek Louch, Ras Kass, Planet Asia, Michael Rappaport and more.”
Scowling industrial bad vibes from Frederikke Hoffmeier’s Puce Mary, mounting her debut LP with PAN after dishing out dozens of albums and oddjobs for Posh Isolation, Ascetic House, iDEAL under her own name and also as Amphetamine Logic, JH1.FS3, and Body Sculptures during the preceding decade
“Building from a reputation of arresting live performances and critically acclaimed releases Puce Mary breaks new ground with The Drought, evolving from the tropes of industrial and power electronics to forge a complex story of adapting to new realities. Remnants of noise still exist, sustaining the penetrative viscerality offered on previous records, however The Drought demonstrates an intention to expand on the vocabulary of confrontational music and into a grander narrative defined by technical and emotional growth.
Bringing together introspective examination with literary frameworks by writers such as Charles Baudelaire and Jean Genet, Puce Mary’s compositions manifest an ongoing power struggle within the self towards preservation. The traumatised body serves as a dry landscape of which obscured memories and escape mechanisms fold reality into fiction, making sense of desire, loss and control. The Drought presents both danger and opportunity; through rebuilding a creative practice centred on first person narrative and a deliberate collage of field recordings and sound sources Puce Mary injects an acute urgency across the album seeking resilience.
“To Possess Is To Be In Control” makes use of lyrical repetition as an ambiguity of two selves, or a divided self, attempting to consume one another, while “Red Desert,” named after Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1964 film, portrays the individual subsumed by surrounding environmental forces. The seven-minute epic “The Size of Our Desires” acts as the emotional tipping point of the record; amongst the ominous drone and dense feedback flutters almost-beatific melodies, while the lyrics reveal a romantic call to be swept up in the midst of an increasingly uninhabitable world.
Rather than escape, The Drought dramatises a metamorphosis in which vulnerability is confronted through regeneration. Noise and aggression no longer act as an affront to react against but part of a ‘corporeal architecture’ where space, harmony and lyricism surface from the harsh tropes of industrial music. The Drought chronologises the artist’s transformation through a psychological famine, new ways of coping akin to plant survival in a desert – to live without drying out.”
Hans-Joachim Roedelius meets Gotan Eject founder Christop H. Mueller in etheric space for a 2nd time, reprising the serene buoyancy of their 2015 debut across a longer, broader, and immersive 2nd collaboration finding the sweetspot between Latinate fancy and ambient tranquility
“In 2015 their debut, IMAGORI, was released on Groenland Records. It is an album that readily demonstrated how well their musical visions fit together. Roedelius’s soundscapes joined Christoph H. Müller’s electronic productions and beats and they entered into a dynamic symbiosis that gave rise to music that, instead of uniting two worlds, created a new one.
That process continues seamlessly. The title itself implies as much: IMAGORI II. The second joint album from these electronic music virtuosos shows new facets of their collaborative efforts and reveals all the new discoveries there are to be made when two explorers join forces. IMAGORI II’s twelve tracks oscillate between tender and hard-edged, between science fiction and the Garden of Eden; they call forth organic orchestral sounds that then fragment; they create moods ranging from melancholy to euphoria and are all the while accompanied by Roedelius’s filmic pathos, which has no use for extravagant gestures and instead tests the limits of minimalism.
Language is employed strikingly often; for instance, on the first track “FRACTURED BEING,” which is sung by “Miss Kenichi,” alias Katrin Hahner. The song “ICH DU WIR” is a family affair in which Rosa Roedelius gradually allows the listener to observe how soundscapes allow deconstructed language to fuse into structured form once again. Then, on “LA VIE EN BLUE” we hear Christoph H. Müller’s daughter illustrate the boundlessness of her father’s music in while singing in French.
Thus, we witness new experiments on IMAGORI II that are well aware of the foundations they are built upon and that sometimes let us forget the present with their future-oriented perspective while never descending into pure escapism. The twelve tracks allow the listener to close his or her eyes and enter a dream that could not sound more beautiful – we experience this phantasm as IMAGORI II. It contains no fractures, merely passages that provide a plane on which something new emerges.
The album ends with a song that could not be more defining and that recapitulates the production’s musical harmony one final time: “HIMMLISCHER FRIEDEN.” Hopefully, this will go on for a long time.”
The Overmono brothers, Ed & Tom Russell, give it some deep and rude swang on ‘Raft Living’ for Ed’s Poly Kicks label.
‘Daisy Chain’ pivots on a tuff breakbeat techno groove somewhere between Shed and Skee Mask, but softens up some with the appearance of woozy chords a la Lone in the 2nd half. ‘The Mabe’ rolls out further with crisp breaks and floating pads for a loved-up and drunken 4am swagger, while the EP’s title track sees it off with a sweet nod to BBC Radiophonic Workshop vibes.
Kelela and Asmara round up ace remixes of ‘Take Me Apart’ from, in their own words “a diaspora of innovative emerging and established artists”, including highlights from DJ Lag, Nídia, Kareem Lotfy, and serpentwithfeet
Listen up for strong moments in the blue downstroke of Ethereal’s take on ‘Jupiter 97’; DJ Lag’s strappin’ Gqom rework of ‘Onanon’; an unmissable 150bpm rub of ‘Waitin’ by Miami’s Tre Oh Fie; Nídia’s ‘floor-ready version of ‘Blue Light’; and Kareem Lotfy’s staggering sublimation of ‘Turn To Dust’.
Spiritual jazz meets ambient tranquility midair on Matthewdavid’s blessed Leaving Records
‘Wilkes’ is the title track and lead single off the debut from Sam Wilkes, an L.A.-based jazz bassist, multi instrumentalist and producer for Knower, Pratly, Jacob Collier.
Organic melds of plaintive vocals, primordial techno and rustic folk with subtle electronic backdrops. Recorded in Talinn, Estonia and recalling elements of Cucina Povera, Fönal Records’ Paavoharju...
“The presiding spirit of “Muunduja” (Shifter) is a state of being between states, the warping of time’s arrow using sound. Maarja Nuut & Ruum’s music often lures us into unimagined conversations with elements of our psychic selves that we may have otherwise forgotten. Whether the listener reacts through out-of-body experiences, glitches in cerebral programming, or old fashioned magic is immaterial. We experience the phenomena presented to us, and we take new insights from them.
Essentially the recording of two musicians’ inner travels, “Muunduja” is a release that relies heavily on gesture and spirit. Rich, rounded and expertly arranged, the music is also presented as a series of contrasts, heavy on shifts of tone, texture and mood.”
One of NAAFI’s strongest new players, Debit follows her killer debut LP ‘Animus’ with a keener focus on tonal composition in the steeply absorbing ‘Love Discipline’ for Quiet Time Tapes
After setting out her style on the edges on Latinx electronix, IDM and dark club music, ‘Love Discipline’ marks Debit’s shocking but welcome turn into sheer sound designer territory. Shaping up as five tracks of billowing, beat-less structures enriched with sci-fi cinematic appeal, the result are comparable to Leyland Kirby or BJNilsen as much as Rabit or The Sprawl, but with an iridescent spice of her own creation.
V Highly Recommended!
Bunker-breaking industrial techno and breakbeat drills by two of the tuffest doing it right now
In grey area mode for Horo, they commit the pebbledashed double-time pelt of ‘Ikari’ and a gnashing monstrance named ‘R-Amen’ on the front, with the unyielding speedier styles of ‘Vigilante’ bringing up the rear beside a J.K. Flesh-comptiable remix of ‘Ikari’ from Headless Horseman.
Sumptuous, psychedelic, ambient jazz electronics woven with moonlight and a special blend of ancient spices
“Fourth world fusion voyager Anton Glebov’s latest full-length of chimeric environmental music, Diego, emerged from field recordings he conducted on a recent trek through Georgia: gurgling waters of Narzan springs in the Caucasus Mountains, serenading frogs late at night by a lake in Batumi, crickets and cicadas hissing in the fields. Returning home to St. Petersburg he layered them with meditations and melodies using balafon, flute, percussion, saxophone, and synths to create surreal, shape-shifting habitats. Though Mårble began in Siberia the project has always been rootless, a mercurial melting pot of scrambled electronics, tribalist rhythm, prismatic jazz, and ethnographic ambience, evoking illusions more than identities.
Glebov speaks of his music inducing “transcendental ideas and infinity,” hinted at in the lofty alien hymnals “Upanishad” and “Болото Релаксации” (Russian for “The Swamp Of Relaxation”). Elsewhere Glebov’s message is more garbled and miasmic, in keeping with the dizzying hybridity which could well serve as his artist’s statement: “Not belonging to any musical style creates an atmosphere of freedom, disengagement, and levity.”
Alejandro Morse is Edgar Medina’s latest ambient/drone project. Founding artist and collaborator at Umor Rex, he published his first full albums as Alejandro Morse – Landscape Memories (2006) and Obelisks (2007) – on the label. Medina is also known as Transistor – his dancefloor-oriented music.
"His album Liminal was developed through a 2-year process involving recordings from several disparate places in Mexico, USA and Switzerland. Field recordings are painstakingly processed to be used as layering, which in an emotionally and touching way are entangled among arrangements emanated by digital synthesis. He applies intricate sound processing to the interwoven elements adding complexity to the listener experience.
Liminal zones and their temporal dimensions are the creative input for this album, in which each zone is related to sudden events, since death has knocked in Edgar’s life lately. There is an ominous space between moving on and drowning in. In a liminal space, the individual experiences revelations of sacred knowledge, such as giving birth, ecstasy, enlightenment, orgasm, epiphanies and death. So, hopefully these works will have served as a digital monument and sonic exegesis for those going through a liminal zone. May these sound-wanderings let them move on into new and more complex dimensions and meaningful experiences.
Written, Produced and Processed by Edgar Medina aka Alejandro Morse. Artwork by Daniel Castrejón, Photos by Diego Berruecos."
Hessle Audio turn out two cuts from Bruce cut at 45rpm.
‘What’ rumbles along the top with percolated subs underlining a proggy, dry peak of stressed, processed vocals and nagging, zig-zagging bleeps. Think a mithered Zomby.
‘Æon’ opens out into simulated airier space with well tucked subs and filigree detailing that sounds like an AI imitating Detroit techno...
Incredible, unsettled soundscapes from Melbourne’s Francis Plagne, gently spiking Penultimate Press with ‘Moss Trumpet’ after doubling down on LPs with crys cole and Andrew Chalk already this year.
Plagne’s Penultimate Press debut is a fine lesson in the art of lower case obscurantism. Using an array of flute, harmonium, keyboards, mics, organ, paper, percussion, recorder, synthesiser, tapes, tuba, voice, whistle and zither, the Melburnian sound artist connotes a kind of lucid dream state for mental transport, seemingly bringing the shoreside indoors and somehow lighting small fires in its ebbing and frothing tide, where he cooks up stones and herbs and recites their geomantic prognostications instrumentally.
As you may be able to see, we’re sorta left floundering for handrails with this one, as Plagne maintains such a strange, naturalistic logic between his sounds that it feels more like the document of something that happened beyond human control than anything composed or written. Perhaps then, as the label inform us, the key to ‘Moss Trumpet’ lies in Costin Miereanu’s ‘Luna Cinese’, an avant-garde classic which we’re unfamiliar with, but need to run check out after ingesting this gently heady beauty.
The Death of The Machines series arrives at its first compilation, featuring heavy hitting EBM and industrial zingers by four new artists: Exterminador, Craow, R. Gamble, and Plastic Ivy
Classically schooled in the dark art of war dance, each operator pulls out something hard and nasty, ranging from the supremely taut, Silent Servant-esque traction of ‘Mohammad Bin Salman (Tegeler Mix)’ by Exterminador, to the gnashing drum machines and palpitating EBM pulse of Craow’s ‘Lot’ on the front, and over to the virulent synth-pop lead and muscular thrum of R Gamble’s ‘Dead Advice (Club Mix)’ and the hot-stepping quicksilver of ‘Exit Strategy’ by Plastic Ivy.
A spellbinding ode to love lost, and possibly to be gained, from Belgium’s Annelies Monseré, one of the few contemporary artists to release new recordings amid Stroom’s classic reissue schedule - although you’d hardly tell from the timeless, ghostly quality of her signing and gothic backdrops.
Described by Ziggy Devriendt’s (a.k.a. DJ Nosedrip) label as “…a record about a parting of ways. It is dedicated to the one who has been left behind and the one who left” the latest LP from Annelies is unmistakably shaded with a mittel european sense of sombre, nocturnal, romantic themes, using a blend of electronic and acoustic instruments to paint stark chambers of sound ready for intimate reflection and contemplation.
The lyrics of each song are included for disambiguity, but to be fair Annalies doesn’t hide behind glossolalia or any sort of wistful whimpering, masterfully mixing her vocals for plaintive legibility and with transfixing effect that’s only accentuated by the stripped back, refined poise of her undulating organ lines, glowing synths and sighing accordion phrasing.
In the most beautiful way, ‘Happiness Is Within Sight’ strikes the finest balance of vulnerability and quietly resolute strength, of classicism and timelessnes, making for a record that rewards many return listens - soemthing we could say about almost any Stroom release, but very strongly here.
‘Saccharine Scores’ is an absorbing album/book documenting recent chamber works by pivotal contemporary composer Sean McCann, who also runs the excellent Recital label.
As founder of Recital Program and a prolific collaborator and artist, McCann’s work over the past 10 years has placed him at the centre of myriad experimental music scenes, acting as the connective node between everyone from Loren Connors to Sarah Davachi and Ian William Craig, while continuing to pursue his own, dreamy, avant-classical muse, both solo and in collaboration, on dozens of tapes and LPs, and a DVD. He is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in experimental avant-classical music right now.
Marking ten years since McCann’s first release, ‘Saccharine Scores’ offers a captivating window onto his work. Rendered through in-depth scores, poems, photos, and a 4-track CD album recorded in London during a business trip in late 2017, the album and book portray an artist modestly assured of his gift for transmuting the prosaic into the otherworldly, paying testament to his poetic knack for evoking waking dream states.
The CD album ranges from the 10-person ensemble performance of ‘Portraits of Friars’, unfurling 26 minutes of glossolalic chatter and beautifully illusive strings recorded at Fylkingen, Stockholm in February 2018, to his quietly optimistic first quartet piece, ‘Victorian Wood’, performed in Toronto in 2014, along with the haunting blend of text-to-speech vox with solo keys and electronic drones in ‘Passing-Ship’. All tracks feature an assortment of noted guests including Sarah Davachi, Zachary Paul, Geneva Skeen, Celia Eydeland, and Maxwell August Croy.
Ultimately there’s something unquantifiable, and perhaps even slightly unfinished, about McCann’s work and his flaneur-like navigation of timbres, spaces, and textures that distinguishes its charms and deeply endears it to us. And quite possibly you, too.
As the legendary Art Ensemble Of Chicago celebrates its 50th anniversary, Soul Jazz Records release a new, fully re-mastered edition of the group’s seminal 1970 album ‘Les Stances à Sophie’, which features the great singer Fontella Bass on the opening track ‘Theme de Yoyo’, a stunning 9-min opus that continues to startle and compel new audiences today.
"The Art Ensemble explored many areas of popular black music during their career. For instance, their ‘Ancient to the Future: Tribute to the Masters’ album covered songs by artists such as James Brown, Fela Kuti and Jimi Hendrix. This however, remains a pinnacle moment in their exploration of black dance music.
‘Les Stances à Sophie’ was recorded in Paris in 1970 and features regular Art Ensemble members (Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell and Malachi Flavors) alongside newly recruited drummer Don Moye and guest Fontella Bass on vocals and piano. Fontella Bass already had a successful career as a soul singer - ‘Rescue Me’ was her biggest hit in the Sixties. She and Lester Bowie first met in St Louis while working with legendary rhythm and blues producer Oliver Sain. Vocals (and lyrics), alongside a constant drum and bass beat, were new elements to the music of the Art Ensemble at this time. Musicians such as Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane spearheaded the free jazz movement at the start of the 1960s.
Far from simply defining a musical concept, they also began to redefine the concept of the African-American musician in society. A new period of self-respect and spirituality among musicians paralleled the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, encouraging self-determination and empowerment in every African-American musician. The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) was formed in Chicago in 1965 by Muhal Richard Abrams with members including future Art Ensemble of Chicago members Bowie, Jarman, Mitchell and Flavors, as well as others including Anthony Braxton and Amina Claudine Myers. The AACM explored experimental music and began promoting concerts, teaching music and Black history and offering spiritual guidance to youngsters in the Chicago community.
Out of this The Art Ensemble was formed in 1968 and in June 1969 the group headed for France. ‘Les Stances á Sophie’ was originally released on EMI France in 1970 and later in the US on Nessa Records. Soul Jazz Records first released the album in 2000. Now ten years out of print, they are releasing it once more in this new fully re-mastered edition. ‘Les Stances á Sophie’ came about when Israeli film director Moshe Misrahi befriended the group and asked them to record a soundtrack to a (then unmade) French New Wave film of the same name. During a two-year period in France the group recorded an astonishing amount of music - over fifteen albums recorded for various labels such as BYG, Freedom, Nessa, Arista and EMI - before returning to America in 1971 to continue their journey. The Art Ensemble Of Chicago’s musical soundtrack remains perhaps the definitive release from this period, a stunning exploration of radical jazz music and, with with the rare addition of vocalist Fontella Bass on ‘Theme De Yoyo’, an unashamedly powerful celebration of Great Black Music."
Preeminent theremin player Hekla Magnúsdóttir coaxes a beguiling spectrum of tones from her trusted and notoriously difficult instrument on a superb vinyl debut for Phantom Limb - the label run by former FatCat Records, Thrill Jockey and Royal Albert Hall bods James Vella, Ken Li and Mark Pearse.
Short of developing your own software from scratch, it’s maybe harder than ever to make genuinely unfamiliar sounds nowadays - but that’s exactly what Berlin-based Icelandic theremin player and singer Hekla has done on Á, unpacking and reframing some 100 years of the Theremin’s history into her breathtaking solo opus .
“Hekla's music exists singularly. A one-off talent, emerging from no particular scene, ascribing to no particular rules.
A long-term scholar of solo theremin, Hekla (shortened from her own name Hekla Magnúsdóttir) uses her instrument as an otherworldly and highly evocative Siren-call. A spectral, wailing, howling, lamenting yearning second-voice that underpins a soft vocal delivery... as if her studio had been haunted with a chorus of ghostly backing singers.
As a creative tool, the theremin - bizarre, unique, and rarely heard - can be expressive, intuitive and highly adaptable. In Hekla's hands, her instrument covers an enormous range, from skittering birdsong of high frequency chirrups and chirps, to grinding, tectonic sub-bass. We are given the throbbing, apocalyptic dread of 'Muddle' and the baroque beauty of traditional Icelandic hymn 'Heyr Himna Smi∂ur' in sequential tracks on the album's A-Side. Appropriately, she also writes that the album title - Á - is similarly multifaceted in her native Icelandic: "a river is an á and also it means ouch like when you hurt yourself, and also when you put something on top of something you put it á (on) something.”
Humbly enchanting solo piano suite by a regular member of the long-running Idea Fire Company, and former collaborator with The Shadow Ring
“Karla Borecky’s long-awaited second album following 2011’s Still In Your Pocket (R9). In between her work with Idea Fire Company, Karla has been slowly building a new repertoire of solo pieces. She threads together simple, whirling piano numbers. Lines of blue sadness, red memories, and green dreams, stitched with charm and care.
An approachable album in the best way possible. Whatever your hobby may be, The Still Life will set the mood. This album also features two solo-piano versions of Idea Fire Company bangers: “The Life of the Party” from Music from the Impossible Salon (KYE) and “The Island of Taste,” from The Island of Taste (Swill Radio).
Borecky’s music carries such a layered emotional identity while balancing a lack of pretension. A fine tightrope to dance on, but she does it gracefully. Please do enjoy.”
A highly personalised sociopathic gem delivered as a futuristic rewriting of how music works, a melodious breeze with a tail wind of venomous din. A ten-track album, her tenth studio set.
"Enveloping the juxtaposition of the concept of ‘dark sunshine’, a brooding solo record creating with friends to expand her off-kilter sonic vision; a squally, squeaky mix of discordant beauty.
Feedback and phasing gyrate from simply strummed normality, imagine Dinosaur Jr and My Bloody Valentine cranking up a Dylan couplet. Messing with both extremes of the sonic spectrum: atonal and arrhythmic, a unique sound and a glorious return to form for one of alternative rock’s true innovators.
“Sometimes the most subversive thing I can do musically is adhere to standard song structure, sometimes the creepiest chords are the ones we’ve heard before, twisted into different shapes, and sometimes a story is lived a thousand times before we can ride it like a roller coaster. Nothing wholly unfamiliar is gonna make you look twice. When you can describe a record as being “deceptively” anything, you’re hinting at the sociopathic nature of music. Something I love. Imagine truly buying your own sunshine and charm, but also your darkness and violence; the two sides of your psychology showing each other off in relief. Songs can do that...we can’t, really. Darkness we’ve seen.”
Kristin Hersh, July 2018
The master of breezy but heavyweight modern soul smackers, Devonte Hynes a.k.a Blood Orange’ racks up a terrific follow-up to his ‘Freetown Sound’  LP, loaded with guest spots from Puff Daddy, A$AP Rocky and Georgia Anne Muldrow, a.o., but undoubtedly revolving Hynes as the star of his own show
Where ‘Freetown Sound’ found Hynes singing from his parents’ perspective, its follow-up comes from Hynes’ formative experience growing up in England, rendering, in his own words; “an exploration into my own and many types of black depression, an honest look at the corners of black existence, and the ongoing anxieties of queer/people of color.”
Instant standouts step forth in the deftly rugged swang of ‘Chewing Gum’ feat. A$AP Rocky and Project Pat, as well as the the fusion of ‘90s R&B and adroit soul-jazz touches in ‘Saint’; the jiggy but tender R&B of ‘Runnin’’ with Neo-soul queen Georgia Anne Muldrow; and the killer Linn drum programming on ‘Out Of Your League’; but it’s really sculpted for seamless, absorbed listening in one sitting.
A tremendous collection of recordings from famed Fluxus poet and artist Jackson Mac Low (1922-2004). Originally published on New Wilderness Audiographics as a cassette in 1977, these recordings have been cleaned up and remastered by Sean McCann in 2018.
"Jackson’s beautiful text formulas are supplemented by stereo multi-tracking, creating a spatial jungle of wordplay. One gem of this CD is the live foray into tape manipulation from 1966 featuring the assistance of James Tenney and Max Neuhaus. It is fabled that they took Jackson’s voice and slowed it down to a guttural thunderstorm during playback, resulting in a manic blend of words darting through a black cloud of reverberation.
Only a small amount of Jackson’s sound poetry is available, making this collection a delight to swallow and digest. Produced with Charlie Morrow, we are thrilled to re-present this history to the ears of both young and old."
Shoulda-been-huge Balearic pop music from '80s also-rans, DJ Ralf Behrendt, Stefanie Lange and Claudia Hossfeld aka Saâda Bonaire.
The first issue on Captured Tracks' new 'Fantasy Memory' sublabel, curated by Andy Grier of Theives Like Us, rescues from obscurity a full album of dub-wise, electronic pop produced by Dennis Bovell at Kraftwerk's studio in 1982. As fate would have it, the project fell foul of EMI's label politics, notably the group's excessive A&R man, who went 5 times over budget on Tina Turner's 'Private Dancer' and more than three times over on Saâda Bonaire, hence the release fell by the wayside with lack of promotional support.
This release collects their only released single, 'You Could Be More As You Are' along with eleven unreleased cuts of super slick pop equal parts Grace Jones sass and kinky studio experimentation melding exotic eastern instrumentation, killer drum machines and outright seductive vocals. Now, thirty years later it's getting the treatment it deserves.
Slacker no wave punk-funk bridging the gap betwixt The Fall and Liquid Liquid
“The latest release from D.U.D.S. is a deepening of the sinister sonic territory they have been exploring, in various forms, since they formed. Bass lines and percussion lope through the undergrowth while jagged guitars pierce the ears. Then there’s the brass section, which works less as a means of driving home a song’s point, than as a warning that whatever comes next is unlikely to be anything you expect. Lyrics are still somewhat hard to make out, emerging from the rhythmic chaos at intervals, as though you were listening to the recording of an Old Testament prophet, preaching from the ruins of the twenty first century. I don’t know what kind of band D.U.D.S. are supposed to be. There are labels you could apply to them, terms like ‘wave’ and ‘punk’ with various prefixes designed to qualify the fact that they don’t really sound like anyone else. Immediate makes that fact all the more obvious and all the more compelling.
Sometimes you catch something unexpected which resets a switch, excites and engages. I caught D.U.D.S. a couple of years ago on a whim, they were visiting Newcastle supporting their debut album. I had never heard them or of them but the moment their perfectly disjointed music hit the room, I was all smiles. Warping brass shapes through the room entwined with guitars played as percussively as they are melodically, the whole sound coalesces into a rolling ball of spiked energy.
Their take on punk rock welds the caustic atonality of The Fall to the coiled funk of Liquid Liquid. Both drenched in negative information and loaded with dance floor impact. Lyrically themes explore the human condition a lurching dread and this dichotomy of no-wave funk and the lyrical creep is the hook the grabs me/you/us and forces a regular return.”
Following his Pacific Alley album, Krikor Kouchian serves this killer soundtrack to the documentary 'Arabie Saoudite: Les Liaisons Dangerousness' on a deluxe presentation. Where the French TV program focusses on the Saudi royal family’s support of Wahhabism and the West’s appeasement of Saudi foreign policy, Kouchian underlines and accentuates the content with a brooding blend of mirage-like electronics and drum machine geometries that take on a gauzy new life thru the tape format.
In tone and aesthetic Kouchian’s soundtrack feels close to the use of melancholic ambient motifs in Adam Curtis documentaries on the same subject, as the Parisian artist conjures a sort of furtively ephemeral and mystic feel that matches the clash of ancient religion and crude oil-soaked modernity explored by the documentary. However, where Curtis’ soundtracks tend to collage recurring motifs, Kouchian’s emotive nudges are perhaps less ambiguous, lending a decidedly dark, looming shadow to proceedings.
Highly Recommended if you're into Gigi Masin, Low Jack, Terekke, Newworldaquarium, Boards of Canada.
Rabit resets his sound in kaleidoscopic, cinematic dimensions on ‘Life After Death’, an absorbingly psychedelic, pop-wise and fractally refined follow-up to his trio of boundary-pushing albums that bridged the gaps between DJ Screw and Coil, grime and the GRM, also inspired by Surrealist art, Enigma, and Japanese Ambient artists like Hiroshi Yoshimura...
Divined and constructed over the last two years between studios in Houston, TX and Paris, France, ‘Life After Death’ is Eric C. Burton a.k.a. Rabit’s most concerted effort at working deeper into the cracks between genres, so deep in fact that stylistic taxonomy becomes obsolete and sonic alchemy is now firmly the aim of the game. Across its 12 tracks Rabit essentially offers himself as a conductive vessel between dreams and machines, a kind of dark interpreter and interlocutor between metaphysical spirits and the material world.
‘Life After Death’ is still patently Rabit, but a tempered version of himself - one that’s clearly coming, or has come to terms with himself and what he wants from his music, which now finds him moving away from relatively obvious pattern recognition to a finer graded consolidation of styles, meters, textures and feelings. In his words “the probing and revisiting of genres in electronic music felt fetishistic and limiting and wasn’t the best way for me to communicate”, adding ”…I think the occult term is interesting because I don’t hear this explored in music in ways that I find relevant. I leave it to time and the intelligent listener to make up their own meaning.”
Within this wider yet finer semantic framework, Rabit elaborates an unfathomably mystic sound akin to a movie score without the visual aspect, conjuring a kind of modern sonic answer to the percptions and notions expressed in Alejandro Jodorowsky or Stanley Kubrick movies. It’s succinct parts each connote the feeling of distinct, interrelated scenes traversing from keening synthetic chorales to impendingly doomy orchestrations, knots of gnarled distortion and isolationist instrumental grime études, with each finding a Cerberus-like biting point between rawness and deliberate, filigree detail, or the ultimate abstraction of death and the thizzing surreality of waking life...
12 extraordinary tracks from the timeless genius of the New York underground...
Following up Soul Jazz's excellent retrospective on Arthur's disco material - now things really start getting serious. Mostly the material here is derived from two unreleased albums worth, a 1985 test pressing entitled 'Corn' and a long planned album for Rough Trade, worked on between 1986 - 90 and eventually shelved when Russell became too ill to complete, or let go of his material.
Arthur's curious, optimistic vocal - lifting us away from the corporeal into true mantric territories - is just completely inimitable and life affirming. The lyrical preoccupations with american upbringing and life could perhaps be found in an imaginary midpoint somewhere between Frank O'Hara's 'Lunch poems' and Billy Collins. His beloved cello and drum machine experiments still sound vital and completely innovative. Check 'Calling All Kids' for the beautiful Walter Gibbons remix, bringing us full circle back to the disco Arthur held so dear.
Russell emerges head and shoulders above, standing on the outside looking in, but glad of the fresh air. This is a must.