A rare grail of Ghanaian cosmic high life bubbles back to vinyl for 1st time in over 30 years
“One of Ghana’s most sought-after LPs emerges from obscurity as a high quality reissue on the new Vintage Voudou label from the Netherlands. First released in Nigeria in 1979, this LP (also known as Basa Basa Experience - Together We Win) is a unique collaboration with Themba ‘T-fire’ Matebese, who propelled Basa Basa’s sound, inspired by Ghanaian traditional music, soul and afrobeat, into another dimension, adding disco elements, synthesizers and the production aesthetics of the next decade. Contains extensive liner notes and fold-out poster.
The new Amsterdam based label Vintage Voudou focuses on re-releasing a carefully picked selection of rare tropical music on vinyl, paying special attention to sound quality and print work. Vintage Voudou was founded by Alex Figueira (Fumaça Preta / Conjunto Papa Upa), originally as a club night in Amsterdam dedicated to vintage tropical dance tunes. In 2013 he joined forces with Edo Bouman (Bombay Connection), opening the Vintage Voudou record shop in the heart of the Red Light district in Amsterdam. Basa Basa is Vintage Voudou’s first release, and is a collaboration of Edo Bouman and Thomas Gesthuizen aka DJ Gioumanne.”
An all-time classic, production masterclass - it doesn't get any better.
The hallmarks are all there; Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald have already set the world ablaze once, twice, three, four times with their work as Basic Channel and the splintering into microscopic, heavyweight offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix. It's hard to over-emphasise just how important their music has been over the last two decades and, for that matter, just how substantial their impact has had on everything that has taken place in electronic music since.
This is, in fact, the second Burial Mix compilation, the first "showcase" concentrating on the label's collaborations with Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, for its opening set of releases. This second installment divides itself into Vocal and Instrumental "Versions" (the instrumentals are collected seperately on a second release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon"), and features a by-now totally classic collection of tracks that in their time have all been singles of the week for us here.
Just thinking of the majestic exuberance of "King in My Empire", or the breathtaking space of "Making Histroy" makes it hard to fathom how this material hasn't really aged a day in all these years...
Vangelis' 1982 masterpiece, back in on wax.
We probably don't need to spell out the influence of this soundtrack and Ridley Scott's correspinding take on the Philip K Dick short, 'Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep'. It's simply one of the finest scores and one of, if not THE most influential pieces of electronic music ever written.
Slang is a new project from DJ Deep and Traumer giving both artists room to explore blends of Afro-percussion and dub thru the prism of House music.
On their début for German label Possible Futures they work out three tracks together - the reticulated, Villalobos-like wriggler Streets At Night Part 1, the grubbing, gritty groove and over-the-shoulder vocals of Streets At Night Part 3, and the Hieroglyphic Being-esque sign and chord clusters of Knocked Out - while Traumer has another go with Streets At Night, turning it into a more propulsive, pendulous workout erring to the smart side of tech house.
Basement Phil digs deep for this set of exclusive jungle dubs and in-demand classics from Peshay, The Truper (Photek), Roger Johnson, and some souls who’ll only ever be known as Unknown.
Despite the extra hiss, the A-side’s previously unreleased and highly sought-after Peshay & Roger Johnson joint Crazy Daydreams • Original Dubplate Mix is one big reason to snaffle this set, but the fiends should also like to know there’s handy pressings (from DAT) of Street Beats’ Unknown Untitled Volume 6A + 6AA & 2A + 2AA 10”s, as well as some really choice cuts from Peshay and The Truper.
One way to look at it is, any one of the releases inside would cost roughly the same price as this lot, and may well be infinitely more knackered!
Fresh pressing of Digital’s sought-after 1995 ace, Space Funk
Backed with remixes by Rufige Kru, Futurebound, Nasty Habits and Special Forces (Photek), although the choppy Om Unit mix is decent. Worth it for that new cut of Spacefunk alone.
Fit Siegel and Sotofett galvanise their S & M Trading Co duo with Metal Surface Repair, a labyrinthine acid beauty, backed with a trackier version and a very handy beat-less version.
The A-side’s title cut is a real midnight bloom, flowering from an intro of mystic Eski flutes and layered subs into a 303-gilded masterpiece meant for deployment at the most crucial times of the dance. B-side, DJ Sotofett takes the lead on a chunkier Acid Mix emphasising the 303 and percussion, saving the floating pads for the final strokes, whereas the Synthetic Mix lets the synth and acid lines move in lush avian formation, leaving the drums aside to be dropped as a proper palette cleanser where needed.
Truly excellent work.
Top lip-sniffin’ trance techno nourishment from Aoud on Persephonic Siresn, the label behind Ancient Methods’ The First Siren  missile.
No denying it, when the bassline begins to gallop and the synths ascend around 2 minutes into SE MKII we’re right there with it, suppressing a gurn and pill belly at 5pm - and it even works similar effect at 33rpm - while the B-side’s I (One) stirs up techno-trance passions with a more distorted, burning edge, and Surd plays it down but stealthily bubbling under for proper lockjaw effect.
The Kelly twins’ Happy Skull play host to Roman siblings and IDM producers Fabrizio and Marco D’Arcangelo for only their 2nd outing since Rephlex did a houdini.
Hailing from the same Roman skool of ‘90s electronic music as Leo Anibaldi and Marco Passarani, the D’Arcangelo brothers were always Italy’s closest answer to AFX, blessed with an urge for melodic and rhythmic intricacy that set their work apart.
On Saba Tree they pick up where they left off, dispensing the near-baroque acid-electro elegancy of the title cut, then the curdling Braindance harmonics of Pull Seven, before whipping out the EP’s big highlight in AC - SF13 - 2 Cid - 13th Cider, which reads like a Cornishman’s weekend drugs shopping list, and sounds like a stray Analord production, leaving them to clock out on the downtempo tilt of Korty.
The untouchable AOS keeps the pressure gauge ticking with an acid boogie monster backed by a lithe, reticulated instrumental house groove.
Games That We Play finds Alex Omar Smith at his very best, joined by vox from Diviniti and live acid and CP-1 piano played by Ian Finkelstein, for a pendulous piece of garage-house pressure in the mould of late ’80s Juan Atkins, but with that inimitable Omar-S ruggedness. On the other side, he lets the soul flow on Potawatomi with rolling rattlesnake trills and stepping B-line driving a deep, tracky bomb in classic FXHE fashion.
This Gottfried Michel Koenig collection is a definitive document of his pioneering innovations in electro-acoustic composition: spanning his Zwei Klavierstücke  and other works created at the WDR, Cologne; thru his years at the Utrecht Institute For Sonology, and right up to his 60 Blätter for Streichtrio . If you’re into anything from Roland Kayn to Dave NYZ, Ligeti, Haswell or Æ, Koenig’s oeuvre is essential listening!
A key mind in the realisation and theoretical underpinnings of electro-acoustic music, Koenig came thru the Darmstadt summer schools as a student, and later a lecturer, where he met Stockhausen, Kagel, Evangelisti, and Ligeti, whom he would later assist at the famous WDR (Westdeutschen Rundfunk) studio in Cologne - where he also worked in the radio drama department, before moving to Utrecht as director and chair of the Institute of Sonology during its most fecund period until 1986.
The work he assisted on or created himself during this period was crucial to the development of electro-acoustic and computer music paradigms, and since the ‘60s he’s placed ever greater focus on realising a form of computer composition - both writing programs that generate unique scores for instrumentalists to play, and recordings of pure computer music.
For us, and we’ll safely assume many others, it’s the latter part of Koenig’s catalogue - the purely electronic works - that demand attention. Utterly raw, complex and alien, Koenig’s pieces such as Terminus X , and the colour-coded Funktion series from the same era, are some of the most captivating, visceral recordings of electronic music that we’ve ever heard, presenting sounds at their very most abstract, and with no concession to replicating instrumental timbres and dynamics.
We highly recommend getting to grips with the works in this collection, which is pretty much the only place you’ll find a reliable high quality versions of each piece.
Martyn Bootyspoon flounces into the dance with a crackshot début EP cubing the roots of Chi-house, Ballroom and grimy, FWD electronics for the leading lights at Fractal Fantasy. Following his 'Don’t' hook-up with Zora Jones on the Visceral Minds 2 comp, Bootyspoon’s fully fledged solo flight is a lusting future funk session steeped in club hedonism and destined for widespread dancefloor damage.
Perfectly tessellating with the Fractal fam’s sound, Bootyspoon toggles a killer blend of properly upfront styles and techniques with a feel for more classic styles that adds something retro yet fresh and soulful to the label.
Silk Eternity is riddled crafty rhythm programming and virulent vocaloids that set the EP apart from his field at every turn. Whether retrofitting c*nty ballroom with classic Chicago drum machines and wickedly bitchy vox on Spread That Kat; going hard for instrumental Jersey and B-More pressure in Steam and The Grid; or perfectly serving the rave what it needs thru the spaced out dimensions of Helicoptah Dance - “sh*t is tantric, maximum lust!” - or flipping classic ‘90s dancepop samples into a head-spinning blend of Viennese keys, Senni-esque Arps and slathering trills on Ease U - Bootyspoon’s music is set to make a big impression everywhere.
Jóhann Jóhannsson presents his OST for another Denis Villeneuve flick, following from his work on Sicario and essentially, perhaps unavoidably, turning up as a sort of preface to thee most anticipated score of the 21st century; his work on the forthcoming Bladerunner 2049 sequel.
Whilst the recent, extraordinary Orphée gave room for Jóhannsson’s solo spirits to roam, back at the day job he provides the perfect backdrop of unearthly terror and fear-of-the-unknown atmospheres for Arrival’s first contact themes, employing a palette of symphonic strings and perilous electronic abstraction in thick, impending strokes of minor key portent and chasmic electro-acoustic wormholes interspersed by zones of weightless chamber music and blood-curdling alien chorales.
It’s all you want from the soundtrack to a big budget sci-fi and leaves us quite literally salivating for what comes next…
Two years in the making, Ahwar (Arabic for marshlands) is an otherworldly record, not unlike an abstract mythological story-tale.
"Opening with the mangled and filtered vocals of the album's lead track Afqid Adh-Dhakira (I Lose Memory) like an alien dream, the drones of a bowed double bass lead us into a drum groove that lays the groundwork for El Shazly's sultry and captivating presence, singing: "(I am) coming, from a time far away. Going, escaping. Alone in the wilderness".The Arabic prose lingers over interjections of slap-back delayed guitar twangs and an avant-garde arrangement of dissonant winds, horns and seemingly random drum fills, ending with an eerie soundscape that wouldn't feel out of place in a Giallo classic.
A daring and potent statement that sets the foundations over which the rest of the album can unravel. Composed, written and produced by El Shazly herself in collaboration with The Dwarfs of East Agouza's Maurice Louca and Sam Shalabi on co-composition and arrangement duties, the album was crafted across two continents, between Canada and Egypt, and features the crème of Montreal's contemporary-classical and improvised music scene, most of whom aremembers of Shalabi's own Land of Kush ensemble. In between El Shazly's five original tracks, we are treated to an abstract coverversion of Sayyid Darwish's classic Ana 'Ishiqt (I Once Loved). El Shazly's haunting vocal floats over broken Kalimba and Harp arpeggios which slowly intertwine with a free, bowed double bass improv to nestle within the breaks between Younes Al-Qadhi's early 20th century verses of love and betrayal.
More than that, it is difficult to really describe, but imagine the worlds of Nico, Björk and Annette Peacock with the Arabic language as their mother tongue, re-approached through acoustic avant-jazz harmony and re-constructed with a dash of Kamilya Jubran's modern styling of Arabic maqam and you may be somewhere close. Recorded and delicately mixed through miles of analogue cabling by Thierry Amar at Hotel2Tango and mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market Mastering in Montreal, the album is adorned with the surrealist artwork of Egyptian artist Marwan El-Gamal and designed with custom typography by Egyptian designer Valerie Arif . All editions come with dual-language booklets featuring the lyrics in Arabic with English translation by Nariman Youssef."
Spread over a massive six discs and further bolstered by a pretty darn exhaustive book that interviews the surviving members (Williams passed away in 2001), 'Out Of Cold Storage' is testament to the unbridled virility of This Heat - with all the music very much rooted in its era, yet also utterly timeless. Comprised of their five studio albums ('This Heat', 'Deceit', 'Health and Efficiency', 'Made Available' and 'Repeat') plus an incendiary set of live action culled from their 1980/81 heyday, 'Out Of Cold Storage' allows everyone to get hold of these classic recordings in pristine form - a real treat given the eroded bootlegs and mp3s that have been doing the rounds for years.
Born out of the UK crucible that existed in the period immediately post punk (before it earned capitals and morphed into genre all of its own...), This Heat formed through the restless response of three twenty-somethings who felt impelled to document their corner of 1970's London. Already faces at the more severe end of the prog-rock scene, Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward were joined by non-musician Gareth Williams - a catalyst that would see them recording vast quantities of work then editing the results down into consumable chunks of aural fortitude.
Ranging in style from the avant-rock of their eponymous debut, through to the political polemic of 'Deceit', This Heat are spiky without the need to resort to high-kicking comparisons with the likes of Orange Juice et al., with their output always a couple of steps removed from their retrospective peers. Unafraid to disrupt their reputation through creative right-angles, the likes of 'Repeat' and it's central 20 minutes of looped drones and rhythms (think Can in a chiller cabinet) are seemingly at odds with 'Health And Efficiencies' melody etched high - yet rather than cause tension, these juxtapositions merely heighten the band's appeal and allow you a glimpse into moments of creative perfection.
Vast, comprehensive and thoroughly indispensable, 'Out Of Cold Storage' proves that the endless vault combing perpetrated by labels can sometimes come good. Six shades of fantastic.
Jóhann Jóhannsson returns with his first new solo album in 6 years, his first album for Deutsche Grammophon.
Multi award-winning composer Jóhann Jóhannsson - who was recently announced composer for the Bladerunner sequel score - presents his first solo work proper in six years with Orphée; a completely bewitching orchestral “meditation on beauty and the process of creation”, which takes its inspiration from various perspectives on the ancient greek myth of Orpheus and uncannily incorporates traces of the near-mythical Conet Project recordings.
Now firmly established as a preeminent composer of major film soundtracks thanks to his preternatural feel for atmosphere and sensitively emotive arrangements, Jóhannsson here takes the opportunity to transcribe his feelings on moving from Copenhagen to Berlin, and the process of saying goodbye, making new relationships, by caring to a deeply personal muse.
Tending to the seeds of ideas begun in 2009, he used an interpretation of the Orpheus myth - particularly Ovid’s version from Metamorphoses - to metaphorically unpackage themes of death and rebirth, the ephemerality of memory and the mutability of love and art with suitably magisterial, timeless appeal.
It’s worth reiterating that this is Jóhannsson working to his own, philosophical ends, and not at the service of visual elements or narrative requirement. And, in that respect, the personalised results are rendered for closest inspection, channelling the butterfly effect of Orpheus’ tales on the underworld, on love and music, on divine inspiration, with a sombre elegance and subtly intoxicating enthusiasm.
The addition of distant, elusive recordings from Irdial’s enigmatic Conet Project recordings - a nod to the title character of Jean Cocteau’s Orphée who listens to shortwave radio noise bursts of avant-garde poetry - forms the spectral spirit that binds it all together, perfusing the composition’s creaking strings, electronic timbres and airy dimensions like voices from another dimension, which for all intents and purposes, just like this record, might as well be.
Neo-classical maestro Keith Kenniff (Helios, Sono) rings in his first new album in three years with Cricle, a warbling streak of solo piano keys swaddled in iridescent strings, sounding out a hazily submerged and nostalgic feeling.
Never before pressed on vinyl, IBM 1401, A User's Manual, is one of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s most loved works. Released in 2006, the decade since its release has seen Jóhann establish himself as one of the most important composers in the World today, most notably scoring movies such as Arrival, Sicario and The Theory of Everything.
:Inspired by the work his father did in the sixties when chief maintenance engineer of one of Iceland’s first computers, Jóhann originally wrote IBM 1401, A User's Manual to accompany a dance piece by long-standing collaborator and friend, Erna Ómarsdóttir. For this album release, he rewrote it for a sixty-piece string orchestra, with a new final movement (built around a poem by Dorothy Parker) and incorporating both electronics, and reel-to-reel recordings made by his father and friends in 1971 of an enormous IBM 1401 mainframe computer singing the hymn Ísland Ögrum Skoriðby Sigvaldi Kaldalóns as it was being decommissioned.
The first ever pressing of IBM 1401, A User's Manual comes in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, having been reworked by Chris Bigg (v23) from his original design. Pressed on clear vinyl, two album tracks recorded in 2010 with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra at the Rudolfinum, Dvorák Hall in Prague have also been added and are exclusive to this release:
End Ground forms the third and final installment in a series of records documenting the solo prowess of Sunn 0)))’s Stephen O’Malley released on Sweden’s iDEAL Recordings. It was performed on electric guitar thru Sunn model T amps, and captured on a zoom H4 at Centre Cultural Suisse, Bad Bonn Carte Blanche, Paris, France, on 18th October 2013.
In solo mode, stripped of his usual accomplices and collaborators, O’Malley is no less than an elemental force. His durational meditations absorb and consume with steady-handed wave after wave of charred, sustained, and sub-harmonised chords casting the mesmerising minimalist practice of La Monte Young into the physicality of Black Sabbath’s original, heavy metal die.
The A-side/first half of this 45 minute performance features O’Malley tentatively coaxing out languorous riffs which turn the air around him to a pensive, vibrating mush. As the 2nd half dawns he begins to deliver more crushing blows, drawing out and subsiding the chords with a patented, gut-wrenching and vivifying power that transcends rock, avant-garde, minimalism - all of that - to awaken dormant senses not usually experienced with other musics or concise temporality.
As with many of the most affective heavy drone recordings by Sunn 0))), among others, a modicum of patience is required in order to attain the right state for reception, but once your mind and body are malleable, the impact is deliciously visceral, primal and whelming.
Colour us blown away, once again.
Meditative, durational works for a 17th century organ, horn, trombone and microtonal tuba written by Ellen Arkbro, who has previously composed for early music ensembles and studied Just Intonation with La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Jung Hee Choi - Huge Recommendation.
“For organ and brass is comprised of two works by the Stockholm-based composer Ellen Arkbro. Both works focus on tuning, intonation and harmonic modulation. In previous projects, Arkbro composed for early music ensembles, wrote a series of durational pieces utilising synthetic tones and processed guitars, and, most recently, presented a work lasting 26 days at the Stockholm Concert Hall. for organ and brass looks back to Arkbro’s studies in Just Intonation with La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and their disciple Jung Hee Choi in New York, as well as with kindred spirit Marc Sabat in Berlin.
The title composition was written for an organ with a specific kind of historical tuning known as meantone temperament. It was only after locating an appropriate instrument—-the Sherer-Orgel dating back to 1624 in St. Stephen’s Church in Tangermünde, Northeastern Germany—-that Arkbro set about recording both for organ and brass and its counterpart, three. “Hidden within the harmonic framework of the Renaissance organ are intervals and chords that bare a close resemblance to those found in the modalities of traditional blues music,” explains Arkbro. “The work can be thought of as a very slow and reduced blues music.”
The work moves gradually through a series of long, sustained tones played by the organ and in parallel by a brass trio comprised of horn, tuba, and trombone. Arkbro’s treatment of pitch resembles the tuning strategies of La Monte Young. The brass parts were performed by microtonal brass trio Zinc & Copper, a group whose repertoire has included works by C.C. Hennix and Christian Wolff.
In Arkbro’s words, “the brass instruments and the organ fall into patterns of interaction in which a new breathing instrument emerges.” three, which follows the 20-minute title work, deploys the same principles of harmonic relativity. In removing the organ from the instrumentation and switching to a different meter, three acts as an intimate counterpoint to the ritual drone cycles of the title piece.
Ellen Arkbro is currently studying for her Master’s degree in music composition at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. Her work has been performed in Brooklyn, Stockholm, Norberg, Bologna, Gothenburg, Berlin, Birmingham, and Malmö, and on Swedish National Radio.”
Stephen O’Malley deploys the 2nd in a trio of documents of his improvisational prowess following his crushing Fuck Fundamentalist Pigs, which was brought forward in tribute to the Paris attacks and released in late 2015.
The minimalist electric guitar mantra Dread Live was performed at Studio Helmbreker in Haarlem, Netherlands, September 2013, and recorded by Mathijs Ton on a hypercardiod ribbon mic with immaculate 70’s valve amp back line and technical support by the great Tos Nieuwenhuisen. The set was programmed as part of the opening of the Dread - Fear in the age of technological Acceleration exhibition at De Hallen Haarlem, curated by Juha Van’t Zelfde.
It renders 40 minutes of Sunn 0)))’s O’Malley at his most depressive and heavy and is something akin to a slow-motion baptism by waves of tarry, blackened harmonic distortion, holding us under ’til we nearly pass-out from its sinking pressure. Needless to say - it’s insanely good.
How low can you go? O’Malley knows.
London’s ADA drop your RDA ov tweetronic pop with Traffic Island Sound’s All Aboard, starring the naif vocals of P.P. Rebel, backed with one radiophonic vignette and a proper psyche-pop charm.
The lysergic melt of All Aboard comes on like a long-lost ‘60s pop song dreamt by Stereolab’s children after a weekend training trip with a batch of hoffmans. The B-side songs both come from TIS’ debut album Maximal Electronics, where First Steps feels like the woozy aftermath as the same kids stumble upon a synth and attempt to riff on Mike Ratledge’s Riddles Of The Sphinx LP, then arrive at the spiked robotic sing-a-long of Not Coming.
Sweet like that metallic tangggg.
Quite literally the definitive and perhaps most complex of all post-rock albums is given a remastered reissue 23 years since its original release back in 1994. If you’re into Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock / Spirit of Eden and you don’t know this album - welcome to your new obsession.
Back in 1994 Hex sounded like a new kind of music - albeit one guided by foundations laid by Talk Talk on that pair of albums half a decade earlier, as well as by so much of what was going on in the electronic scene at the time - and especially electronic music’s fascination with dub (the Kevin Martin compiled Macro Dub Infection that came out the following year provides a good measure of this intersection, featuring everyone from Coil to Tortoise and 4 Hero). In hindsight it’s easy to join the dots from what was happening in Chicago around the nebulous web of artists revolving around Thrill Jockey and the more esoteric end of UK’s electronic scene, but at the time it really did sound like something completely alien.
Bark Psychosis suffered from the derision with which Post Rock was ultimately treated by the British music media at the time, but Hex has grown in stature over the years, and it has aged beautifully - a perfect marriage of stoned ambition, innovative recording techniques and a refusal to settle on one stylistic trajectory.
It laid foundations for so much of what was to follow over the following decade to the extent that it’s bewildering that it hasn't been given the accolades it so obviously deserves. Perhaps this new, gorgeously remastered edition will put that right.
Ben Frost convulses a new EP of original solo material recorded with Steve Albini. Vast systems - unstable, overloaded, and on the verge of collapse were fed into an array of amplifiers inside a cavernous studio. Behind the glass, Albini committed this to tape, slashing at it intermittently with a razorblade and more than two hours of music was recorded. The Threshold Of Faith EP is the first release of music from those sessions.
Frost fully bares his teeth on five tracks inside, entering with the electrical storm and depth charge detonations of the title track, and hunting down an apocalyptic muse throughout the rest of the EP, from the nerve-gnawing string convolutions of Eurydice’s Heel (Hades) to the chromatic chamber vision of Threshold Of Faith (Your Own Blood), and with shuddering, tempestuous torque in The Beat That Don’t Die In Bingo Town. The finale climax, Mere Anarchy errs a bit to heavy into his cheesy side for us, though.
Integral to the ruptured flow of the album, All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated (Albini Swing Version) catches a quietly dynamic moment from the master engineer, rendering a hyaline cloud of intensely bright and sparse tones that could shatter at any moment, whilst Janus member and Björk remixer Lotic sends the same elements flying in corkscrewing militant drum rolls that sound like Chino Amobi’s wildest dreams.
Keith Hudson, the dub dentist, was a one-off innovator with impeccable, classical lineage: his first studio recording involved former Skatalites; his earliest releases provided solid-gold hits for Ken Boothe's "Old Fashioned Way" as far back as John Holt, Delroy Wilson, U-Roy and the rest.
Like "Lloyd" Bullwackies Barnes, his collaborator here - his split from this tradition is dynamic and all his own: Hudson's mature music finds its optimum conditions away from Jamaica, in London and New York studios and for less didactic transatlantic audiences, while his dark experimentalism becomes increasingly better suited to the the LP and extended 12" than the cardinal 7" reggae format.
Original dark disco mixes from the middle>> latter seventies, drenched in the essences of deepest afro-american-jamaican funk jams. "Playing It Cool & Playing It Right" was released in 1981 on Hudson's own, american based Joint International label. It was originally intended that one of Hudson's teenage sons would voice the dubs: in the event the Love Joys, Wayne Jarrett, and inimitably Hudson himself featured at the microphone.
Like Wackies, Hudson was a Studio One devotee "I used to hold Don Drummond's trombone for him so I can be in the studio", he once recalled ˆ and the album follows Coxsone's recent strategy of overdubbing signature rhythms. While the Studio One sides were aimed at the dancefloor; Hudson's reworks of alltime classic tracks like "Melody Maker", all darkside funkadelic guitars and brooding feeling, are more psychological. Deep Barrett Brothers rhythms are remixed like you've never heard, deeper still with reverb, filters and other distortion, pitched down, everything; and overlaid with new recordings, often heavily treated, of wahwahed guitars, percussion, keyboard, voice. "Playing It Cool.." is legendary, strange, utterly compelling music.
Richard Bishop performing with his rough charm and maximum elegance, along with one of the best avant- guitar players around, the now Brooklyn-based Ava Mendoza.
"Besides her work in Unnatural Ways, she improvises constantly on NY's avant-stages along with Elliott Sharp, Jim Black, William Winant, Paul Flaherty, Tim Dahl amongst others. Rumor has it that she was even in Caroliner. Recorded in full at Ivory Tower (Unrock Headquarters), the Sir opens up stepping deep into music history (as we know it), messing carefully around with the mysterious track the NY-Times was focused on with their recent review.
An electric version of "Safe House", a bone-dry 2015 update on "Abydos", an eruptive outbreak from "Multiple Hallucinations" into "Black Eyed Blue" and a mild & mellow reflection (Ivory Tower). Miss Mendoza is wild at heart and gives you the boot with what she's best at: thunderous eruptive, twisted improvisations and perfect songs. Shadowtrapping."
A towering, shivering totem in the foggy fields of contemporary ambient and drone music, Deathprod’s Morals And Dogma  makes its long awaited first appearance on vinyl as part of a trio beside respective editions of Treetop Drive  and Imaginary Songs From Tristan De Cunha , together presenting the Norwegian demi-god’s complete official canon on wax. It’s simply an essential purchase for anyone who’s ever felt the allure of dark ambient music, but also resonates deeply with followers of early electro-acoustic, concrète, noirish soundtracks and black metal atmospheres alike.
At risk of writing a hagiography for Helge Sten here, it’s impossible to avoid the long shadow his music has cast over our listening lives for the past few decades. Like the work of the late, great Mika Vainio, Sten’s recordings under the Deathprod moniker have practically become an adjective or key allegory on these pages for the most intangible and intoxicating strains of electronic abstraction; a bar from which we measure all other modern dark ambient music.
Originally issued in 2004, but making use of four recordings realised between 1994 and 1997, Morals And Dogma is perhaps the purest example of Deathprod’s texturally diffused minimalism, which is generated by a complex array of homemade electronics, almost obsolete samplers and playback devices and analogue effects usually credited as the ‘Audio Virus’ - arguably a perfect nomenclature for the way his studio set-up allows for and breeds a complex, organically sound sort of ‘cellular composition’.
We can safely say that Morals And Dogma ranks among the ‘purest’ of Sten’s Deathprod recordings,conveying a sense of total tonal detachment and disembodied feelings as ancient as they are infinite, and as evocative of the atmosphere to grainy black and white films as memories of grand, rain-soaked landscapes and the loneliest bedsit mindsets.
However, within this bleak sepia murk it’s possible to detect a human spirit riddling its mazy corridors and vast inky blacknuss, occasionally in the form of occasional collaborators, such as Henrik Magnus Ryan and Ole Henrik Moe’s barely-there violin and harmonium in the quietly funereal case of Dead People’s Things on Morals And Dogma, and with an arcane ecclesiastic air in the faint light of Organ Donor, which appears like a sort of sublime purgatorial state for the spine freezing final reckoning of Cloudchamber - which takes its title from one of Harry Partch’s self-built instruments and pursues that composer’s exploratory impetus deep into echoplex’s unknown dimensions.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of these recordings in light of modern electronic music, but in case you forgot (or lent out the boxset’s CDs to pals years ago, like us), you couldn’t hope for a firmer reminder than these vinyl pressings, as remastered to the exacting specifications of Helge Sten - the producer, engineer, mastering genius behind this, and records by Susanna, Motorpsycho, Jenny Hval, Arve Henriksen and Supersilent, himself.
NYC's foremost tape loop digger is back with a gorgeous album based around his highly-acclaimed show of the same name.
After a run of much-need archival issues based around Basinski’s seminal The Disintegration Loops series, the New Yorker finally delivers some fresh material for Temporary Residence in the shape of A Shadow Of Time. Formed of two extended compositions, the album has origins in the performances of the same name Basinski gave throughout 2016 and finds him exploring themes of fatality through the decaying medium of his trusty reel to reel players.
The title track finds Basinski again working with his unwieldy Voyetra 8 - a synth he last used on his 2001 LP Watermusic - on a composition dedicated to a friend who took their own life. A year in making before debuting at London’s Union Chapel in February last year, the 23-minute A Shadow Of Time recalls the best moments of The Disintegration Loops, as Basinski wrings out a captivating assemblage of plaintive drones and exquisite melodies.
Face down, For David Robert Jones is obviously a eulogy to the Thin White Duke and was originally commissioned for a performance at LA gallery Volume in the weeks following Bowie’s passing. Here Basinski cannily incorporates some ancient tapes loops chewed up by his “roommate’s cat in New York, this big fat motherfxcker,” with elements of Bowie’s work including his saxophone playing from Low closer Subterraneans.
A dead faithful go-to for vintage wave compilations in recent years, Color Tapes’ Cold Waves Of Color Volume 5 extends the cherry-picked selections of minimal and new wave with 11 more aces from the likes of Beserk In A Hayfield, Modern Art (Gary Ramon), Lives of Angels and Silicon Valley, and including a natty rarity by The Good Missionaries, post Alternative TV. All material this time spans 1981-1985 and all makes first appearance on vinyl.
As with previous instalments, Volume 5 impresses with its depth and quality of variety, sequencing crisp electronic dance tracks on the same page as grainy, melodic synth-pop and hard-working dubs in a way that makes total sense as both a historic education as well as a heavily satisfying, play-it-again record.
On the front they add up Void’s punchy, bittersweet minimal wave jabber Isotope beside the soaring, romantic ‘tronics of Silent Sky by Echophase and the supple swang of Beserk In A Hayfield, leading up to some real gems in The Lord’s warped chromatic wormhole Production Line, and especially The Good Missionaries brooding beauty Bending A Border  which is pretty unmissable for fans of PiL or Officer!.
Flip over for more treats in the fluidly Chris Carter-esque electro dynamics of Continental Shift by Echophase, a New Order-y turn from Lives of Angels, and the dubbed-out NRG-disco deviation of Gary Ramon’s own Modern Art ace, Colliding World.
Beatrice Dillon & Call Super toy with the dance in two supple, slinky riddims in a killer collaborative push ’n pull for Hessle Audio.
With both producers really coming into their own over the last few years, Beatrice with an acclaimed run of 12” and LP issues for our 12X12 series, The Trilogy Tapes and Alien Jams, and Call Super for Dekmantel and Houndstooth, these two new collaborations firm up the strongest dance moves in either artist’s catalogue.
Inkjet is a proper UK-meets-Berlin gem lodged somewhere in the system between T++’s dynamic steppers and the kind of grubbing grooves explored by Batu and the Timedance lot, persistently mutating with a darkside dancehall-techno science that recalls a synaesthetic analog of PKDick’s scramble suits.
In sweet contrast, Fluo works with a more tempered sort of deep garage swing, dialling in hovering jazz chords on the nimble first half before unexpectedly switching into a rolling tribal house groove with cascading bleeps and lovely resolution.
Iona Fortune’s Tao Of I came out a few weeks ago and was available in such limited supply that we had the vinyl edition up for sale for about an hour before it sold out. Now that it’s been re-pressed it’d be totally remiss of us not to bring it to the attention of anyone who missed out; it really is one of the year’s most striking debut albums.
Inspired by Eastern Philosophy and slated to be the first in an 8 album series exploring all the symbols of the I Ching, Fortune's music is described by the label as loosely fitting in with Fourth World concepts imagined by Jon Hassell, and indeed she meshes traditional guzheng and gamelan with lustrous tones from a Synthi AKS that provides an incredible sub-bass throb that runs through the record.
However, Fortune’s is an exercise in deep contemplation that isn’t afraid of baring it’s teeth. As opposed to so many Ambient albums riding revivalist waves right now, she seems aware of a basic truth that sound rarely works in one dimension. She aligns tradition and technology in a way that seems expansive and new, almost revolutionary; instead of creating soothing background sounds she makes use of grit and abrasion.
This makes Tao Of I a singular record, measured with a poise and patience that’s utterly arresting in its stoic elegance and sound sensitivity, drawing on a history of arcane, intramural Scots energies and channelling a mystic, ambiguous instrumental voice. It's completely enchanted, enchanting music.
London’s Another Dark Age relay two forlorn, dust-kickin’ janglers from Canberra’s Mikey Shanahan, written about and recorded in his home town, and practically tailored from the same booze-stained cloth as Nick Cave.
The A-side gauzily evokes a place dislocated from time, crooning like he means it over swirling strums before catch an imaginary ghost train to somewhere more serene on Civic Suicide while his B-side emerges on the other side of The Lake with a raw, needling and plangent missive that erupts into white hot distortion before its left to bake by the roadside.
Jealous God welcome Collin Gorman Weiland to their fetid fold for Issue Nº Twenty-One, a six-track EP of grim, distended industrial slugs in the vein of his 7”s for Downwards and a tape for Downwards North America.
Working hard in the red with earwax-crumbling levels of distortion and sinuous, wiry rhythms, this is some of the grimmest tackle on the label, spitting up crankiest highlights in the bellicose swagger of My Pathetic Words, and the cyberpunk trampler Everyone Wears Chipping Paint, but also saving some more conventional EBM/industrial thrust with the salty jakker She Is Wearing A Red Dress, and the Silent Servant-on-quaaludes pressure of A Section of Touch, and a cannily atmospheric finale featuring Sophia Deutsch on cello in Wondering Windows.
Avant-garde Japanese vocalist Phew follows her sublime Light Sleep for Mesh Key with this album of purely vocal works combining extended vocal technique with Dadaist sound poetry and complex, alien electronic processing.
Voice Hardcore a deeply strange and surreal listening experience, which flits a fine line between real, natural recordings and their warped reflections, gauging a wide space for free expression and, by turns, interpretation, which requires no understanding of the Japanese language in order to grasp its otherworldly beauty.
RIYL Kurt Schwitters, Toru Takemitsu, Joan La Barbara.
Your SA dance collection is set to swell with Pantsula! (The Rise Of Electronic Dance Music In South Africa, 1988-1990), a crucial survey of the much talked about - but little known - scene that sprang from bubblegum and Shangaan Disco, and laid the roots for those Kwaito and Gqom aces which would penetrate scenes and light up dancefloors far beyond the southern hemisphere.
As the excellent liner notes describe in much more detail, Pantsula music (think of Pantsula as a style, attitude rather than fixed descriptor) in 1988-90 was the soundtrack to a difficult, fractious time in SA society and politics, which was still under Apartheid and its people subject to all the shit came with it, which meant that nightclubs and shebeens (blues/after-hours joints/taverns/you know the ones) were constantly under threat of being shut down by the dibble and the authorities, even in places like Johannesburg, where black and white folk mixed more freely.
Still, where there’s a will… and all, meant that the low key shebeens acted as an incubator for Pantsula, where DJs in the backrooms of houses-cum-bars absorbed American and European influences into their own, deeply rich dance culture, resulting a sound that rudely mirrored the hard electronic jack of Chi-house, new beat or eurobeat and the sleek swing of US and Canadian garage, and even traces of Jamaican digi-dancehall, but with natty melodies and vocals familiar to Zulu culture and SA’s wealth of ethnic minorities.
Basically 4/4 house in all its variations was the common currency of Black Atlantic dancefloors, and few places mores than South Africa, which, outside of the USA, was evidently one of the Black Atlantic’s most important hotspots during the late ‘80s international house phenomenon. With that in mind, the 12 tracks on Pantsula! form a vital historic document of Afro-Futurism, catching a uniquely funked up brace of innovative, ingenious and down right infectious dance music which, with the benefit of hindsight, we’d identity among the strongest of its era. Just, it’s taken us all this long to realise.
And the tunes? 100% gold, pal, especially if you’ve a thing for the directness of new beat or the less jazzy sides of Chicago house, as it takes in absolute peaches such as Ayobayo Band’s Sorry Bra, the inimitably tangled bassline of Chaka’s Via Tembisa, the reggae-inflected lope of Go Siami from La Viva, along with pure, brimming soul aces such as The Equals New Lover, the lusty Chi-NYC-Antwerp-esque beauty of Ushelakanjani by Jazino, or the jagged sequencer funk of Scotch Band’s Watsotsama.
For anyone who enjoys dancing, or pissing off the po-po, this one's for you.
Prolific electro producer Roel Dijcks a.k.a. Ekman stretches out on stealthy search ’n destroy manoeuvres for Shipwrec in his sophomore album
Primus Motor gives Ekamn room to explore a broader range of vibes than his 12”s, giving closer attention to minimalist pressure systems with the likes of his i-F-esque Polymath8 and the slippery acid tone of Mills Constant, along with more evocative, spaced-out and melodic feels e To The Pi i, and the ruggedly bittersweet Goldbach Number, saving his sharpest dancefloor moves for the pendulous Riemann Zeta Function.
Mule Musiq push off a promising new reissue label, Studio Mule, with 13-tracks of Japanese disco, boogie and soul music collected on Midnight In Tokyo. Compiled by Toshiya Kawasaki. Mastered by Kuniyuki Takahashi.
"At mule musiq, we've focused on shining light on the many aspects of what electronic music can be, putting out house, techno and ambient releases on our main label, while releasing alternative-leaning dance music through our endless flight imprint. but with the launch of our new label, studio mule, we are stepping away from electronic club music for a bit. the label will not be tied to a specific genre, as we will instead focus on releasing any kind of music that we feel is a little bit different and interesting, but somehow make sense in this day and age. for our first batch of releases, we will be focusing on japanese music.
To be honest, i have been watching the recent rise of global interest in japanese musicwith a skeptical eye, not sure of how to feel about all these labels overseas licensing great albums that were birthed in our country. but then, i was told by somebody i greatly respect that i should do something similar with mule, and put our own spin on it, which sounded like a good idea to me. after a period of procrastination, i finally got around to doing it. we are starting things off with a compilation of japanese disco, boogie and soul music that we selected from a modern dance music perspective - the kind of songs that we feel would intrigue music fans across the world.
The compilation starts off with the Afro disco classic "Mi Mi Africa" by harmonica player Nobuo Yagi. "Silver Spot" is a jazzy fusion disco track taken from composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist Nobuyuki Shimizu's first album (1980), released when he was 19. The track features singer Epo. "Samba Night" is by vocalist Keisuke Yamamoto and his band Piper, from their masterpiece second album Summer Breeze (1983) -- a delightful city pop number for fans of Tatsuro Yamashita. "Akogareno Sundown" is a Japanese soul classic, sung by singer Haruko Kuwana (sister of Masahiro Kuwana). Produced by Mackey Feary Band, known for the soulful classic "A Million Stars". "Koiwa Saiko (I'm In Love)" is a mellow and groovy track by singer Aru Takamura, the great-grandchild of sculptor Kouun Takamura. It can be thought of as Japan's answer to Cheryl Lynn's "Got To Be Real". "What The Magic Is To Try" is a cult electropop track by Honma Express, a project helmed by producer Kanji Honma. Hailed as Japan's Trevor Horn, he is also known as the producer of legendary techno pop band TPO.
"Colored Music" is a song by Colored Music, a duo of pianist Ichiko Hashimoto and her partner Atsuo Fujimoto. Taken from their sole album (1981), the Japanese rare groove treasure is a mesh of new wave, synth pop, and jazz influences. The dubby electronic new wave disco "Electric City" is a B side of pop idol group Shohjo-Tai & Red Bus St Project's debut 12" single. "Love Is The Competition" is a breezy disco jam by Okinawa-born bilingual artist Hitomi Tohyama, originally featured on her album Next Door (1983). Taken from Mariah project's diva Yumi Murata's first album (1979), "Krishna" is a funky and soulful rockin' disco cut. Reminiscent of Chaka Khan's "I Know You, I Live You", "Live Hard, Live Free" is a song by jazz vocalist Eri Ohno who is known for her work with DJ Krush. "Rocket 88" is a melancholic disco number by singer Minnie originally released through Sapporo's independent label Paradise Records. Closing out the 13-track compilation is Japanese disco staple "Tokyo Melody", sung by Shoody and backed by Tetsuji Hayashi's disco band the Eastern Gang.”
One of the last, genuinely great, unsung artists of 20th century composition, Roland Kayn (1933 - 2011) - a sometime member of Gruppo Di Improvvazione Nuova Consonanza and the pioneer of what he termed Cybernetic Music - made some of the most breathtaking, intrepidly advanced electronic music ever recorded. The 14 hour expanse of A Little Electronic Milky Way is Kayn’s late major opus and forms a stargate-like introduction to his modular macrocosm, a place where many ideas of C.20th composition, from serialism to jazz and artificial intelligence, collapse into bewildering harmonic, metric and timbral structures practically unprecedented within his field. And mark our words, that’s not hyperbole: this is proper Enter The Void music.
A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound is Kayn’s first, posthumous release since Multiplex Sound-Art  and forms a staggering summation of his concept and aesthetic, which was first hatched when a series of 1950s broadcasts from WDR in Cologne named The Sound of Electronic Music prompted the then 20 year old artist to think that “a composer, like a painter, could realise his work without the help of other people. That he can handle the material directly and creatively edit it”.
He subsequently completed his studies as an organist (later applied to his work beside Egisto Macchi and Ennio Morricone in Gruppo Di Improvvazione Nuova Consonanza) and farther developed his concept of electronic music under the tutelage of Boris Blacher, Josef Rufer, Fritz Winkel and Oskar Sala (seminal composer of FX for classic Hitchcock flicks) in Berlin, grounding a sound which would come to pre-echo mankind’s push toward a form of AI, and serve to touch the very limits of human-machine imagination and perception.
A few years ago we were left reeling from a chance encounter with Kayn’s work, ironically enough offered up by YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, which pretty much turned our listening lives upside-down and inside-out. A keen investigation of Kayn’s composition ensued, which only confirmed our initial thoughts: this guy is light years out on his path; and how on earth is his music not better known?! We clearly weren’t the only ones to think so, and, now following their re-mantling of downtown legend, Julius Eastman, Frozen Reeds have grasped that task with both hands on this mind-expanding new release.
A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound effectively charts all aspects of Kayn’s unfathomable, algorithmically weft sound c. the era of his early boxsets Simultan, Makro, Infra and Tektra - from pineal-smudges and clouds of harmonic colour to fractured staccato pulses and keening, outer space dynamics usually only witnessed by Gods or astronauts. Mercurial by definition, elusive in nature, but gargantuan in scope and scale, it sounds as much like the inexplicable abstraction of a half-recalled, formative fever dream as your first K-Hole experience or some transmission from another galaxy, most effectively representing or emulating a sound which exists in our shared cultural imagination, but which has never before been generated, realised quite so vividly, and yet intangibly.
The implications of this sound are multitudinous. On the most fundamental level, he comes as close or closer, and earlier than any other composer to letting his machines speak their own language - and effectively years before Autechre, Keith Fullerton Whitman, the CCRU or Eno probed this same area. On another, connected level, his realisation of atemporal, atonal depth of field and mutably dissolved metrics can be said to consolidate myriad musical forms in a way that’s hardly been bettered (perhaps because so few knew of his examples), hinting at an atomic universality of all things that perhaps even transcends consciousness and gives a fascinating shape and formlessness to some of the C.20th’s most important ideas about AI and that old chestnut; where to next?
The fact that Roland Kayn did all this before most of us were even born, and he and his work still remains sorely unsung, is as humbling as it is frustrating. Kayn’s recordings described the future in prophetic terms and pretty much reset the last quarter of the C.20th in our books, making much extreme electronic music recorded during the interim seem pedestrian by comparison, and likewise makes a lot of deep space ambient seem like a kid’s picture book compared to his Hubble-scoped deep field projections.
Even more so now, in the age of everything at a touch and reams of modular explorers, Kayn’s music formidably generates a genuine, synaesthetically enhanced feeling of the unknown that’s sadly all too rare in modern electronic music, despite being the thing that probably attracted many of us to its putative charms in the first place.
We recommend serious time away from the laptop/desktop and getting right inside Kayn’s matrix, if only at the risk of coming out looking like Niander Wallace days later.
Kiran Sande (Blackest Ever Black) and Chris Farrell (Idle Hands) trigger their Silent Street cooperative with a surefire survey of Maximum Joy’s dub-fuelled punkfunk and pop singles 1981-1982, collected as I Can’t Stand It Here On Quiet Nights. Digging a pivotal point in Bristol’s dub-informed lineage, it reveals the sound of Bristol parties and after-hours blues in the early ‘80s, which would also find success among the punk-funk crowds and hip hop stations of NYC. Fans of Vazz, The Slits, Glaxo Babies, The Pop Group need to check this one!
“I Can’t Stand It Here On Quiet Nights is centred around the trio of singles the band released on Dick O’Dell’s Y Records between 1981-1982. Their first, ‘Stretch’, was licensed to seminal American label 99 Records and soon after became an anthem on the New York club underground, a cult staple at Danceteria and on late-night radio. Closer to home and a shared personal favourite is their first B-side, ‘Silent Street / Silent Dub’: a languid, haunting tribute to long summer nights in St Pauls (where the Idle Hands shop presently resides), and specifically the Black & White Cafe, “where dub-reggae reigned supreme, 24/7”. Llewellin’s mesmerising one-drop kit and Catsis’s outrageously heavy bassline anchor the track, allowing Rainforth’s exquisite vocal and Wrafter’s trumpet to soar within the intense, expressionistic dub mix. In both subject matter and execution it is the definitive Bristol tune.
‘White And Green Place (Extraterrestrial Mix)’, ‘In The Air’, and wistful instrumental ‘Simmer Til Done’ also feature; the non-Y bonus is the 12” version of ‘Do It Today’, Maximum Joy’s contribution to the Fontana compilation Touchdown, which originally came out in ’82 as a white label split with The Higsons.
I Can’t Stand It Here On Quiet Nights is the first official UK vinyl reissue of Maximum Joy material, with sleevenotes by Janine Rainforth, Tony Wrafter and Kevin Pearce. We invite you to acquaint, or reacquaint, yourself with the eclectic, exhilarating work of Bristol’s finest, brightest pop idealists.”
Carla Dal Forno, Sam Karmel and Tarquin Manek return to F Ingers’ noumenal haunted house slightly older, lusher and with a more detached, dub-filtered gaze in Awkwardly Blissing Out, which has to be one of the most evocative album titles we’ve heard all year.
With the damaged, water-logged audness of their Hide debut still lingering like a smell you can’t get out of the curtains, F Ingers’ 2nd grimoir reprises that mildewed nostalgia with a dusky/dawning appeal, capturing the air of hours lost in a pharmaceutical haze or a slow, gradual comedown, metaphorically manifesting residual gurns flickering on twisted lips and from wayward eyelids, clammy fingertips and glowing pores.
Since their debut collaboration, each member of the trio has issued respective solo LPs - Carla with You Know What It’s Like, Karmel in the magnificent CS + Kreme, and Manek with the ace LST and Tarcar outfits - but here they beautifully subsume all individual egos to a common theme that’s testament to their group familiarity and shared status as outsider Melbournians recording both there, and stationed thousands of miles from home in Berlin.
In a sense, listening to Awkwardly Blissing Out is like eavesdropping on the trio’s telepathic comms, intercepting relayed messages about love, like the plasmic bleep lullaby of My Body Next To Yours, or losing yourself in big cities as with the mild dread of Your Confused, and dealing with reminders from home, both positive and negative as in the sun-dazed All Rolled Up and the nerve-bitten post-punk dub jolts of Awkwardly Blissing Out, which all seem to inhabit a more indistinct, smudged place in their collective imagination.
Our imposed ideas aside, though, this is a captivatingly uncertain, ambiguous album that slowly, voyeuristically sums up those glimpses of a parallel world we all escape to at times.
There are too many hype labels around; Wah Wah Wino is one of the good ones.
Their small but perfectly formed catalogue has managed to carve out a very particular niche for the label despite their ideas often sprawling into so many different directions; repeating that trick Arthur Russell employed so brilliantly of always trying something new, always sounding like Arthur.
If you were into Davy Kehoe’s blinding 'Short Passing Game’ EP released on the label last year (in our top 20 releases of the year) or into Morgan Buckley’s by-now-legendary 'Shout Out To All The Weirdos In Rathmines’ 12” (in our top 5 records of 2014, £££ on discogs), you’ll have a good idea of what we’re talking about; working their way through five proper peaches that will satiate your Arthur Russell itch and then some.
By the sounds of it Buckley and Kehoe have their paws all over much of the EP (including Brendan Jenkinson’s super recognisable bass guitar sections on a couple of them), delivering 5 indispensable/shot-from-the-hip heaters based around all sorts of spiky, motorik punk and pop variants to great, highly absorbing effect.
There’s just no arguing with this one, or this label generally - they’re the real deal, buy anything on Wah Wah Wino on sight, f8ck the flippers.
A Strangely Isolated Place cycle back to Christian Kleine’s soft focus early years, circa his CCO charms, with Electronic Music From The Lost World: 1998-2001 - a lovely selection of previously unreleased, gauzy instrumental ambient-pop and frayed, mellow electronica. RIYL BoC, Arovane, Ulrich Schnauss.
"1998, Berlin was a pivotal time for Germany’s Christian Kleine and electronic music as a whole. Growing-up amongst a divided city’s bleak aftermath, alongside hedonistic tendencies that birthed the likes of Loveparade, it was easy to be both inspired and rebellious at the same time. The influences of Detroit techno and rave culture started to travel, and artists were turning to new techniques and machinery, at a time when the bedroom, started to become a studio.
Christian would end up developing a new and unique sound, alongside a small but impactful community that eventually formed a cult artist roster on the City Centre Offices label. His background began in New Wave and Punk, eventually transitioning into DJ’ing in the early 90’s and then, into more electronic productions, with Jungle and drum’n bass his first muse. Christian was on the hunt for something different to what Berlin had to offer at the time, and with his first synth, (Nordlead 1995) and an Atari computer, Christian was creating his first drum’n bass tracks, sending them off to the local radio station, (Kiss FM) where he met future production partner and CCO co co co co co co co co co label head, Thaddeus Herrmann.
Sunday morning studio time alongside Thaddi (as Herrmann & Kleine), jam sessions with Arovane, and coffee with Ulrich Schnauss, continued to inspire and push Christian’s style. This small but influential group of producers would go on to define a melodic, and introspective style of music that now has a cult status amongst IDM, ambient and electronic music fans.
Becoming tired of functional productions, Christian was always interested in finding his own place and language, and continued to experiment further. Taking his inspiration from drum’n bass, and the company of City Centre Offices artists, Christian defined his unique style we know today. Intelligent drum programming met an ethereal and melodic synthesizer style. A delicate and introspective listen, or a hazy layer of bubbling activity and color, Christian’s music defies function and invites you into a world of personal reflection.
This collection of music is Christian's own moment to reflect. Going back to a time he misses; an intense period when producing music was the only thing that mattered. This is music that never saw the light of day; recovered from DAT and pressed on vinyl; A Strangely Isolated Place and Christian Kleine present 'Electronic Music From The Lost World: 1998-2001'."
Osiris have the rare honour of hosting a typically sublime Burial remix on the B-side to Deep Summer, Simon Shreeve (Kryptic Minds) aka Mønic’s melancholic and dusky industrialullaby.
Perfectly measured for the pensive atmosphere of summer 2017 in a Brexiting UK, Mønic’s Deep Summer courses ghostly R&B/folk vocals thru an arid scene of knackered, worn-down drums and keening harmonic pads, barely but stoically keeping its head up against its impending conclusion in a cannily metaphorical narrative arrangement.
Trust Burial, then, to extract and amplify some sense of beauty from the reserved anguish of Deep Summer on the B-side, opening with a filigree collage of seagulls, windchimes and pads recalling the “better days” of ‘90s summers, before lone voices sardonically echoes the sentiments of Nigel Farage (say it like garage) in the recurring phrase ‘we don’t need noone else’ against a rhythmelodic moire of maribas, pealing sax and queasy subbass squirms, perfectly capturing the lucid sleepwalking momentum and frayed socio-cultural fabric of Britain right now in the gauziest, impressionistic terms, replete with an updraft of balearic guitar in the closing stages perhaps predicting our mass exodus to a Ballardian super-city along the mediterranean coast.
Benidorm, you’ve been warned.
Klein debuts on Hyperdub with an intuitively avant blinder, the Tommy EP, dropping a pin at the label’s farthest flung coordinates, somewhere between concrète R&B and soul-wrenching jazz noise. Very safe to say, if you were into Klein’s Only LP, this one’s a peach..
We pick up in Prologue with a candid glimpse of Klein in the studio riffing on Mariah Carey along with her pals - Atiena, Jacob Samuel, ThisisDA, Eric Sings and Pure Water - we’re dropped off 25 minutes later at the glitching jazz chord chops of Farewell Sorry feeling dazed and seriously wondering, wtf just happened?!
To offer some kind of description, the London/LA-based artist takes the cut-up, collaged themes and techniques of Only to beguiling new degrees, flinging the listener thru a maze of idiosyncratic gestures from clouds of diaphanous, operatic vocals in Act One to the tenebrous R&B of Cry Theme and the rainy parade of Tommy, then crushing ‘90s soul and jungle like you’ve never heard in the all-too-short Runs, and even some sorta grungy jungle trample in Everlong, while B2k is possibly best described as kitchen sink hypersoul.
It’s anarchic, unsettling and steeply unique stuff, largely thanks to her distinctive concrète palette - no recognisable plugins or owt here - but also thanks to a balance of daring, knowing, and playful boldness that makes it clear she couldn’t give a f*ck about trends or convention, which is evidently all too rare nowadays.
Mica Levi is without question one of the most interesting producers working today, with numerous strings to her bow she has repeatedly wowed us with everything from skewed rhythmic edits to her chopped & screwed take on classical arrangements, hooky 3-minute pop tracks to squashed Urban mixtapes - always seemingly side-stepping expectations with a singular approach to everything she's put her hand to.
Following her standout, brilliantly unnerving score for Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin a couple of years back, Levi now returns with her second high-profile soundtrack, this time for Pablo Larraín’s Jackie.
There are some pretty amazing interviews with Levi around at the moment (both written, and a couple of totally hilarious Video ones where she makes no concession to what’s expected of her - go find them!), and the tiny insight she gives to the recording process does very little to explain quite how she manages to make a sound so utterly identifiable as her own, regardless of the scale of the production. You’ll find out that she likes to look out of the window when she’s writing, for inspiration, and that despite a classical grounding (at Guildhall) she likes to layer strings in such a way that they attain a kind of school-band quality to them, ever so subtly messing with harmonics in a way that defies tradition.
And that’s the thing with this incredible soundtrack - it sounds rich and beautiful and hugely accomplished, but also ever so slightly off. The use of silence, dissonance, recurring motifs that accelerate and unravel as the soundtrack goes on... is quite something to behold. It’s a hugely confident, self-assured and above all gripping score that is never emotionally heavy-handed, nor does it ever sound like it's trying too hard.
Rather than adapting herself to convention, Levi has re-moulded the genre itself to fit around her acutely non-conformist approach to composition and production and, in the process, has in some way re-set our expectations of what a film score can achieve. She’s done that twice now, on her first two goes at it, which is really quite staggering.
We’ve said this so many times now it almost goes without saying, but there really aren’t many people in contemporary music leaving quite as indelible a mark across so many different genres and sub genres as Mica Levi, in a way that, in our opinion, hasn't really been seen since Arthur Russell or Prince.
PAN imparts its most ambitious and remarkable statement yet with this immersive 3-hour release of Kazuo Imai's avant-garde free improv collective Marginal Consort, recorded at Glasgow's Instal festival in 2008.
It's an impressive feat on so many levels, from the sheer volume of material, to the group's intuitive application of weighty rhetoric and philosophies - eloquently expounded in a 6-page feature in the current issue of The Wire. If we were to reduce it's appeal to any one factor, then its to the potential to collapse almost any listener's sense of time and space, depth and duration when given the attention it deserves.
It makes for a genuinely transcendent and transformative experience: over the course of three hours, divided in eight parts each between 21 - 25 minutes, the set explores forms of sound and ways of playing that never coalesce into 'traditional' music, instead creating a group dynamic of ebb and flow, of exploration and fluidity. Marginal Consort's members: Kazuo Imai (a student of Japanese Free Jazz linchpin Masayuki Takayanagi and also a member of both Taj Mahal Travellers and Takayanagi's New Direction Unit), Tomonao Koshikawa, Kei Shii, Yasushi Ozawa, Chie Mukai and sound-artist Masami Tada (also in GAP) adopt individual positions in the group that are hard to decipher, as opposed to so many other improv units whose preferred mode reflects a method of communication based on a mannered variant of of call-and-response.
Instead, Marginal Consort embrace an overlapping methodology, reflecting the chaos of life mutual to our shared experience, or as Imai himself puts it, "there always remain the fundamental premises that sounds are separately produced phenomena and that their accumulation forms the whole." It should be noted that this release was originally intended as one of PAN's earliest releases; to their huge credit it's taken the label years to put it together. In some respects, it seems right that now, with the benefit of hindsight five years down the line, it arrives to perfectly illustrate the label's broad, often daring parameters.
Praise be to 4AD, who unveil a Jesus arms-worthy new suite of soaring avant and neo-classical reveries by Tim Hecker, on return from unusually long hiatus well spent fine tuning the sound of Love Streams.
“Hecker’s newest opus, Love Streams, takes as its cue from the avant-classical orchestration and extreme electronic processing of his previous full-length, 2013’s Virgins, but shaped into more melancholic, ultraviolet hues. Its power accrues as it unfolds. Inspired by notions of 15th century choral scores transposed to an artificial intelligence-era language of digital resonance and bright synths, the album was assembled gradually, with layers of studio-tracked keyboards, choir and woodwinds being woven into the mix, then molded and disfigured through complex programming. The effect is similar to hearing some ancient strain of sacred music corrupted by encryption. Hecker admits to thinking about ideas like “liturgical aesthetics after Yeezus” and the“transcendental voice in the age of auto-tune” during its creation.”
Among the most stunning and musical electronic works ever produced, these five compositions represent the complete electronic works of Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim (1931-2010).
"Beautifully presented reissue of classic archival electroacoustic works, first released on now very obscure vinyl in 1974. It contains some of the most exciting, shimmering and crystalline electronic sounds to be unearthed in quite a while.
Born in 1931 and highly active, Arne Nordheim is considered by most as the greatest living Norwegian composer, his chamber music, orchestral and various other work spanning a 40 year period. He started to get international recognition in 1960 with his orchestral work ‘Canzona per Orchestra’ and soon after began to explore the use of pre-recorded tape as part of the compositions. His electronic works were recorded in Warszaw between 1967 and 1971, and have strangely enough not been available on record since the 70s.
This releases brings together the collected electronic works of Arne Nordheim, pieces that were furiously dismissed in academic circles in Norway when they first appeared almost 30 years ago, and in a way that have put an effective stop to weaker souls. Compared to some of the more ‘famous’ electronic composers, Nordheim distinguish’s himself by his sheer musicality and sense of structure...Electronic boxes, electric instruments and recorded tape glide in and out as a natural part of the orchestra, in constant pursuit of magical and spellbinding timbres. The orchestral parts reveal how working with mixers and tape splicing have influenced the development of musical ideas in more traditional arrangements.”
Heres our original review from 2004:
"After albums by Set Fire To Flames and Sylvain Chauveau, Max Richter's 'The Blue Notebooks' is the 4th release on FatCat's 130701 imprint, an outlet for more orchestrated, instrumental material. 'The Blue Notebooks' is Max Richter's second solo album, a distinctive and adventurous work that is beautifully recorded and cinematic in scope. Opening with a text from Franz Kafka over a sparse piano melody, the album moves through gorgeous, heart-wrenching string swells of 'On The Nature Of Daylight' through to sparse but lyrical piano pieces; hazy, swirling atmospherics, avalanche pulse-beats and partially occluded melodies that recall Aphex Twin's 'Ambient Works' albums; and to reverberant organ / choir recordings.
Utilising piano, cello, violin and viola, alongside electronic beats (made using a variety of antique electronics and Reaktor), spoken word passages and the occasional field recording, other sounds were generated via old guitar pedals and vocoders. Its lovely to see the Piano making a bit of a comeback, with last week's sublime album from "Hauschka" on Karaoke Kalk, Richter's "Blue Notebooks" and the forthcoming album from Helios on the Type imprint being three of the loveliest exapmples of just how moving this timeless instrument can be. Life affirming music."