Theo Parrish conducts a live take on his ‘First Floor’ album classic from Myele Manzanza (drums), Mark de Clive-Lowe (piano, keyboards, electronics), and Scott Maynard (double bass)
Guided by a sketch of the original ‘Love is War For Miles’, and the following notes - 1) start with unrecognised fragments 2) find our way into the rhythm 3) hit the melody four times 4) deliberately break everything and look for the unknown 5) find our way back home - the trio properly cut loose for ‘floors that like to be challenged, while Theo contributes an extra jazzy splash.
‘Ambient 4: On Land’ is Brian Eno’s eighth solo studio album and the final instalment of his foundational ambient series that started with ‘Music For Airports’
Recorded between 1978 and 1982, ‘On Land’ sees Brian Eno take a decidedly darker turn, using samples and tape loops from the cutting room floor of previous sides to create a soundsphere of seamlessly shadowy ambient drift.
Perhaps most intriguingly here, Eno found the synthesiser to be of “limited usefulness”, and turned his attentions to physical objets, such as pieces of chain and sticks and stones, to shape what is effectively a form of ambient concrète music, rather than the gentle synthy lushness it’s more commonly associated with.
Featuring guest contributions from Jon Hassell (trumpet) and Bill Laswell (bass guitar), and engineered by ‘Danny’ Lanois, ‘Ambient 4: On Land’ is a total classic of eldritch-tinted, British ambient pastoralism, with all the dark underbelly that notion entails.
Ruggedly variegated debut LP of Detroit gear from the keenly watched Black Noi$e, with additional production by Footworker DJ Taye and FXHE’s John FM
Showcasing the full extent of his style, ’Illusions’ follows from a 12” with Portage Garage Sounds and a hip hop EP with Navy Blue to check off all corners of Rob Mansel a.k.a. Black Noi$e’s sound.
Between its 10 tracks he proves equally adept at slow, mid, and fast tempos, and a fine range of moods, best heard in the crooked beatdown swang of ‘Ninety6’ with DJ Taye and John FM; in the Robocop techno of ‘Jump Off A Building’; with the uptempo Jit hydraulics of ‘Pandemic’, and on a nasty-ass drill depth charge, ‘B Lvde III’.
The Kingston/Manchester axis comes correct with a killah family affair from Equiknoxx and Swing Ting.
On the nice ’n nasty Rum & Buckfast Riddim, Rtkal, Shanique and Fox trade bashment commanding bars in a mix of classic but up-to-the-second party vibes.
Synkro takes cues from the ancient Japanese tradition of Gagaku on his 2nd self-released 12”
A-side ‘Gagaku’ is a genteel dramaturgy of Synkro’s signature harmonic progressions, drizzly atmospheres and fragile 2-step beats executed with patience and elegant. B-side, German D&B producer Frederic Robinson offers an early James Blake sort Airhead-like remix of ‘Gagaku’, beside a floatation tank-ready ambient passage, ‘Cloud Musik’.
Not sure how he does it, but John Tejada packs roughly 10% more punch than the average producer in everything on show in the Therapy EP; rubbing out some super rugged electro-dub-house swerve and wonky tech-house up top, and then with a defter breakbeat hustle and a melodic nerve tweaker on the other side.
Amazing, sui generis actions from Poland’s Mołr Drammaz duo and drummer Jacek Tokarski, taking in Coil-esque electronic abstraction, free jazz and ambient sound poetry under their broad wingspan on the 1st volume in “an undefinable series” unearthed by LFI
No strangers to the strangest strains of modern music, Lullabies For Insomniacs’ catalogue marbles thru the murk to highlight overlooked delicacies from spaces between the avant-garde, the DIY, and the occult. Mołr Drammaz’ ‘Times Before Emojis’ lies right in the middle of that triangulation, rounding up a baker’s dozen audities conceived in Poland between 1996-2012, mostly on their Mik Musik.! label. And, like their label name, the duo employ an equally free use of punctuation in their music, a refreshingly free-spirited, psychedelic style that sits in great company on LFI beside the likes of Sugai Ken, László Hortobágyi, Dino J.A. Deano.
Sequenced for sensory immersion and riddled with surprises, the compilation keens thru a number of reverberating digital drone pieces before shredded glitch gives way to a muddy systolic thrum and scrambled vox - all quite in/unhuman, before they suck us into what sounds like Smegma with a jazz drummer, and whorls of possessed tape loops. Turn over and it only gets more mercurial, vacillating vortices of Autechrian complexity with rabid batacuda rushes, surreal solo piano vignettes and fractured toytronica, culminating in the LP’s straightest but almost weirdest cut in the hobbling avant-pop of ‘Song Instead Of Grass’.
Somewhat of a return to the sparse, pared-back sounds of ‘Seven Swans’. While it sounds like a memory, it does not trade on pastiche or nostalgia. Each song begins with a fragile melody that gathers steam until it becomes nothing less than a modern hymn. The album accomplishes the rare thing that any art should achieve, particularly in these noisy and fragmented days - by seeking to understand, Sufjan makes us feel less alone…"
Architect of the present future, Chris Carter goes retro hauntological on CCCL Volume One, his first solo album in 17 years.
Since his previous album, released in the last century, he’s been busy taking his influential duo with partner Cosey Fanni Tutti to a natural close, and likewise seeing thru their trio with Nik Colk Void, while at the same time diversifying his bonds with remixes of the contemporary field, from Factory Floor to Nisennenmondai and Perc. Here, however, the enormously pivotal artist paints a sonic self portrait indulging an unswerving thing for the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and the malleability of modular synths, all with a mixture of wide-eyed, youthful innocence and high end studio nous executed to nostalgic degrees.
In the classic framework of hauntology, Carter’s nostalgia is for a lost, assuaged or thwarted synthetic future he experienced explicitly and cosmotically growing up during the ‘space age’, when synthesisers were vehicles for interstellar and interdimensional travel and acted as the connective ligament of counter-cultural likeminds across the world, so its easy to understand why he can’t shake that feeling here.
Like a grown up kid with all the kit he could ever dream of, Carter brings his ideas to life in uniquely tactile style, working like a sculptor with broad palette of amorphous materials that continue to react and mutate after he’s fixed them in place, at his legendary studio in Norfolk. Each of the 25 tracks feels to offer a window onto worlds of encrypted kinetic energy, fulminating figments of the imagination which come to life in shapeshifting, plasmic forms made all the more “real” and hyperstitious thanks to his application of AI like vocaloids which populate the album, cropping up as alien sirens, glossolalic darkroom murmurs, and fully-fledged “singers” in their own strange right.
The result is a uniquely absorbing album tied together by Carter’s smart internal logic, a mazy manifestation of bio-electronic feedback systems that gives voice to the machine as much as the man operating it in a way that will really speak to followers of classic electronic music.
Jesus this album is incredible. Heather Leigh channels Kate Bush and Coil via lapsteel guitar and staggering vocals on a her new album for Editions Mego. Following her previous solo LP ‘I Abused Animal’ for Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ with a record that few beyond her inner circle could have predicted. Epic in scope, devastating on impact. Do not miss this one!
“Heather Leigh takes her Throne as queen of pedal steel with a suite of heartbleed ballads cauterised with burning riffs. After the rawness of its precursor I Abused Animal, Throne is a record of late night Americana and heavy femininity; intimate love songs smoked in sensuality. The songs on Throne are woozy, gorgeous and uncomfortable, smothered in thick layers of bass but lifted by multitracked vocals. These are rich song forms that stand in contrast to the stripped down steel in her duo with Peter Brotzmann.
Prelude To Goddess sashays in wearing leopard print jeans under the twinkling fluorescent illuminations of the British seaside, like Brighton Rock with extra bass. It is followed in by Lena – arguably Leigh's Jolene – a perverse love song soaked in a subversive sexuality, weighed down with a heavy pulse. Soft Seasons is anchored with sunken beats shrouded in wailing, growling steel and an earwormy melody. Gold Teeth, the longest track on the record, crests and breaks in waves; ecstatic peaks balanced and echoed by melancholic troughs. It soars on an updraft, and from cosmic heights dives seaward into a gnarly and riotous pedal steel breakdown, before catching the breeze again.
Days Without You and Scorpio & Androzani are shorter, intimate songs, in the latter the synths seethe and the steel bows and bends as Leigh's voice falters above a Greek chorus of shadows and reflections. But this isn't autobiography, and Throne departs on Days Without You, a confrontationally unfinished romantic song, anxious with half-thoughts and missed connections. It glides into the night on stilettos leaving unanswered questions, in a fug of psychic disturbance and lovesick sensuality.
Leigh's artwork (which she photographed and designed) is a visual mirror of the songs on Throne. It is an album of cosmic echoes, abstractions and introspection, of characters and stories that make up Leigh's first best pop record, its melodies and hooks set alight with the fiery core of her unique and distinctive pedal steel. - Jennifer Lucy Allen, 2018”
Grandiose synth compositions from the Posh Isolation barracks...
“Cut from the same cloth as last year's double-cassette, 'Like All Mornings,' Vanessa Amara's new album trails shorthand piano pieces and wilted strings through magnificent, electro-acoustic surrounds, often settling into buzzing, syncopated reveries.
'Manos' takes its name from an abbreviated term of endearment. Spoken in this form, it's an affectionate and inclusive gesture from friend to friend, or indeed from gang member to gang member. Vanessa Amara seemingly take their cues from either usage. Their new album feels hesitant to reveal its parts, and is perhaps a document of the limits of what can be revealed, a memorial to its own process as it winds itself in and around its delicately hued landscape.
Though beginning with a morose gait, the album quickly turns over. And revealing its softer self, the clarity of the moving string arrangements hang in the air like fine mist. Everything settles against surfaces as the day breaks, opening up the space, though eventually condensing into the unnerving crescendo of the album's final piece. A recurrent, gentle whirring, much like a gramophone’s needle, tracks through much of 'Manos.' It carefully steadies the listener into a mode of measuring duration, a meditative self-awareness that delivers Vanessa Amara's world.
Always intricate, and effortlessly tender, 'Manos' is an album as textural as it is melodic, and it is certainly the most exquisite suite of works to have been presented by Vanessa Amara thus far.”
Nina Kraviz and friends ring in 2019 with eight blistered acid / techno bangers
Both Buttechno tracks, the cochlea-pinching ‘Rostokino Acid’ and his helter skelter ‘Dubstepping Progression Fast’ are well worth your time, as is The Mover’s gothic noir spike ‘Track One’, and the crazed warehouse pressure of ‘Soviet Film’ by label newcomer Vladimir Dubyshkin.
Italian library disco business from the main man Alessandroni, dug out and dusted down by Rome’s Four Flies reissue label
Sure to grease the ‘floor for anyone with a kink for vintage Giallo soundtrack sleaze and funk, ‘Background Disco’ was composed by Alessandro Alessandroni in 1976 as the soundtrack to the movie ‘Frittata All’Italiana’, directed by Alfonso Brescia.
The strutting title cut comes in vocal and instrumental mixes, edited for dancefloor potential, as with the R&B-vibing slow dancer, ‘I Get You In My Mind’.
Canny braindance gymnastics from the Colundi pioneer on Clone’s DUB sublabel for IDM and related electronica
Landing one year on from ‘The Colundi Sequence Volume 2’ compilation, Perälä turns out some of his smartest drum programming and trippy tones in ‘Sunshine 1’, none more so than the steel drum band-goes-acid styles of the 5th track, his 2-stepping introductory number, and the Astrobotnia vibes of track 4.
ASC explores the depths of his sci-fi ambient imagination with part 2 of the steeply introspective ‘Trans-Neptunian Objects’ sessions
Trailing in the astral wake of his excellent 2x12” ‘The Outer Limits’, James Clements a.k.a. ASC returns to the farthest quadrants of his vast inner cosmos, where he takes as long as he needs (between 8-12 minutes) to fully scan his widescreen panoramas.
By jettisoning his percussive anchor, ASC frees himself up to explore heady, swirling scenes of shimmering tonal gradients and gaseous hues of colour. But, where so many artists working with these kind of palettes can tend to bore us to death, ASC imbues his scenes with a rich underlying sense of romance and sci-fi suspense, effectively exacting that classic idea of electronic music - a soundtrack for the mind’s eye, for mental travel. We’d wager it’s what NASA staff listen to on their days off.
Rude, swaggering dubstep infiltrated by US hip hop flavours
Leading on from his ‘Dyrge’ for Black Acre, Commodo bowls back to the bosom of Mala’s Deep Medi with sparking drums and offset subs synched to a crystallized sorta Reichian riff in ‘Rikers’, but the B-side leans heavier toward deep south styles, placing a canny UK style spin on woozy trap and Memphis pressure systems.
Lisbon’s Niagara revive their Ascender label with a wheezing, woozy session of salty Atlantic house music following their Ímpar 12” for Príncipe earlier in 2015.
Technically the label’s 2nd release after 2014’s 506 CDr, the Ascender EP breezes four cuts of bittersweet electronics yoked to fudgy, misshapen house grooves, zig-zagging from the heady wow-and-flutter of See with its fizzing kaotic harmonies, thru the chromatic disco psychedelia of Beto to the splashing, curdled jackers trip Hexe and free-blowing oscillators of Ara.
Very fair to say this 12” sounds like nowt else we’ve heard this year.
RIYL Jamal Moss, Noleian Reusse, Black Zone Myth Chant
Wickedly damaged acid jack traxx from Novo Mundo, the first act not called Niagara to release on Lisbon’s Ascender label.
In the sun-baked mode of previous Niagara 12”s, this soundalike session turns out two hypnotic blocks of natty acid, stepping up with the flying hi-hats, zig-zagging 303 lines and dubbed-out chords of Dezembro and then locking into a more bucking formation with the monotone jack tackle of Leviathan, and cooling off to the glassy chiefs of Arsenale.
‘Another Life’ is Amnesia Scanner’s hyperreal début album for PAN. The Finnish production/design duo’s most significant release locates their EDM/pop voice proper after a string of prism-pushing singles, EPs and mixtapes issued since 2015 by Young Turks and Gum Artefacts
Bending EDM pop with warped sound designer sensibilities and a sci-fi visionary’s lust for post-human possibility, Amnesia Scanner’s music has come to define its era with unflinching form. They embrace the most compelling, even grotesque aspects of hyper-commercial dance-pop with an accelerationist alacrity that’s also shared by the boundary-realigning styles of fellow artists such as Arca and Sophie, who, like AS, started out in the sound designer’s playground of mid-’00s electro and tech-house minimalism, but have evolved into something mutant, transcending and redefining conceptions of humanity in their music.
Informed by a singular perspective on technology and the way it mediates contemporary experience, ’Another Life’ is ostensibly binary in the extreme - you’ll probably either love or hate the upfront garishness and unapologetically cybernetic nature of their music. But on another level, the character of AS’ synthesised voice, known as Oracle, and their warped pop conventions, both inherently play with ultra contemporary ideas of ambiguity in a way that’s symptomatic of a socio-political climate dominated by notions of gender fluidity and fake news. In effect ‘Another Life’ can be heard as an attempt to locate the analog nature of human sensation within computerised systems.
The results are effectively an exaggerated, syncretic synthesis of current Caribbean dance-pop, nu-metal, and trashy electro-punk with all elements turned up to 11 on their virtual amp, presenting a shockingly surface level reflection of contemporary culture that’s revealed a line in the sands of time between listeners of differing generations, and how they read meaning into their music. In other words, AS are the ‘ugly’ sneakers of modern music.
Having stated on many an occasion that Hardwax affiliates Pete and René, aka Scion, understood and played Basic Channel material in the way it was intended to be played, the release of Ableton's 'Live' software convinced Mark and Moritz that the time had come to try something new out.
And that's precisely what this CD is - components from all 9 Basic Channel 12"s, (plus some choice cuts from related project Rhythm and Sound and remix work for Carl Craig), weave in and out of the mix, flawlessly spliced together, remodeeled and reshaped with a deep understanding of the BC sound and a look towards its future.
The first cut employs fragments from Cyrus's 'Inversion', 'Mutism', 'Radiance III' and the Basic Channel reworking of Cral Craig's 'The Climax' - 4 classics, re-modelled to create something new, somewhere between mixing and remixing - and that's just the opening sequence. Flowing from first moment to last, it's a bit of a benchmark release that not only serves as a testimony to one of the most treasured and beloved catalogues in all of electronic music, but also illustrates that technology really can be about more than just presets and self indulgance.
Fans of Basic Channel will melt into this CD on first play, those of you new to the label will do well to give this a listen and understand exactly what all the fuss has been about...
Melodica-fuelled digi-dub fizz and cumbia-tinged house from those Portuguese freaks, Niagara.
You kinda never know what’s next from these guys and the Combos EP lives up to expectations, going off-road into rattlesnake cumbia-dub with a flighty melodica lead pushed high and forward in the mix on Ida, whilst Volta steers that vibe onto a loping 4/4 rubbed with wooden scrapers and then leaves us int he desert with Calor.
Senyawa stir primordial spirits in the cosmically heavy doom and psych explorations of ‘Sujud’, the Indonesian duo’s stellar debut with Sublime Frequencies.
Since arriving to global underground acclaim in 2015 with the ‘Menjadi’ LP on Rabih Beaini’s Morphine Records, Senyawa have established themselves among the most beguiling acts in circulation right now by meshing traditional Indonesian music with elements of doom metal and free improvisation to realise a sound truly without precedent.
Judging by what we’ve previously heard from Rully Shabara Herman and Wukir Suryadi’s duo, ‘Sujud’ is unmistakably their definitive and most powerful album yet. Across seven tracks they explore phantasmagoric scenes of throat singing and abyss-staring doom guitars on the incredible ‘Tanggalkan Di Dunia’, alogn with paralysingly haunting psych-folk on the title track, before jamming gibber-jawed vocals and churning metal riffs on ‘Perjuru Menyatu’, and rounding out with the possessed vocals and grunting guitars of ‘Kembali Ke Dunia’.
“Sujud, their premier release on the Sublime Frequencies label, is the latest chapter of this very special and singular sound of the past, present, and future. The basic theme of the record can be summed up with one extremely powerful Bahasa Indonesian word, Tanah, which translates to "soil-ground-land-earth". Shabara's vocals are an expressive force, conjuring spirits from the soil with a deep humility and respect for the land and their existence in the universe. Suryadi has built a new guitar for these tracks and pushes the Senyawa sound into new territory, utilizing delay, loops, and other effects creating grounded backdrops of folk metal, punk attitudinal, and droning earthscapes - providing Shabara the perfect context to explore his whispering poetry and jagged, sharp-as-a-kris animistic powers. There is simply no other sound like it and Sublime Frequencies is thrilled to present this new direction in their discography.”
Wolfgang Voigt commits one of GAS's most darkly sublime albums with 'Rausch', which arrives nearly one year on from Narkopop to remind us his position as the prince of ambient techno.
Meant to be listened to from end to end without interruption, but also included as seven discrete parts for those who need them, Rausch unfurls in diaphanous form along a depressed heartbeat march of padded kicks swept with distant horns and string swells in the faithful, time-honoured style of Wolfgang Voigt's finest recordings.
The difference lies in the feeling conjured by these swollen crests of abstracted instrumental textures and timbre. Rather than dreaminess or tranquilised melancholy, this one feels portent, impendingly stygian, as though summing up humankind’s incessant trudge toward a bleak unknown horizon, resulting in the emergence of sounds more akin to Sunn 0))), with his entrenched kicks struggling to break the gloom, and poetically losing out in the end.
Following a sold out run of Salm Vol.1, Arc Light Editions closes the year with a second volume of Gaelic psalm singing. The recordings documented here are from the same psalm singing sessions as the first, and both together represent a complete collection.
"This is music that is transcendent and together, about the individual and the earth, movingly spiritual with or without belief. The sound comes in great waves, swells of sound that break and roll around the space. The texture relies on the individuals: this is group singing where the individual is preserved, elevated, but together.
The recordings of Gaelic Psalm singing presented in the release are among the best ever captured. They document a living tradition, a form of religious singing from the Hebrides in Scotland, which is still practiced in Lewis. In Gaelic psalm singing, a precentor leads, and from here voices follow, moving together in great swells like the murmurations of birds.
These recordings of Gaelic Psalm singing were originally made over two evenings in the Back Free Church on the Isle of Lewis in October 2003. The singing was spontaneous and totally unrehearsed. The recordings are now presented on vinyl for the first time by Arc Light Editions. A precentor leads off with the first lines of a psalm, and the congregation follows, some faster than others, and each one remains discernible. In his notes to the original release, Calum Martin writes that the form, called precenting (where one person puts out the line and the congregation responds) while not exclusive to Gaelic free church traditions, is in Lewis particularly influenced by the pibroch style of free ornamentation. It’s through this, he says, that the distinctive emotional swell of sound emerges. The sound relies on the congregation’s individual responses to the melody and the individual precentor’s leading. The musical term is free heterophony.
Arc Light Editions has worked directly with DR Macdonald at the Bethesda Hospice and Calum Martin on this release, and we thank them for their time. A portion of the profits from this release go directly to Bethesda Hospice, in accordance with the original release."
DJ Sotofett joined in an Afrobeat session by Versatile bossman Gilb’r and previous collaborators Maimouna Haugen, Haugen Inna Di Bu & Stiletti-Ana
Played, mixed and mastered for authentic ’70s earfeel, ‘C’Est L’Aventure’ is a proper rug cutter wrapping up Stiletto-Ana’s virulent congas with drum programming by Sotofett and Gilb’r and funky bass vamps by Haugen Inna Di Bu, moving in three distinct sections use to take the ‘floor with them. The B-side dub is a peach; all West African percussive fluidity and psychedelic layers of synth and organ, leading to an extra spicy organ coda in the final third.
Enigmatic collective De Leon, known for a pair of cult tape releases on the Aught label, casts the 3rd release on Mana, following their sides by Pierre Mariétan and Benedict Drew with a display of rippling rhythmelodies and sloshing patterns, including some ripped from their Blowing Up The Workshop mix and all bound to resonate with fans of Shackleton, Don’t DJ, or Burnt Friedman.
Blurring distinctions between field recording and electro-acoustic performance in a gauzy sort of esoteric dance music, De Leon have worked coolly and obscurely in pursuit of an outernational spirit since their pair of tapes for /\\Aught in 2014-15. On Mana they pick up where we last heard them on a mix of exclusive productions for the BUTW mix series, rendering material from that set along with gear produced around then, or even more recently (we’re not sure to be honest, they don’t give much away).
The vibe is essentially a sort of trans-cultural moiré of ideas, converging elements of gamelan, West African tribal drums and Native American pipes in six seamless dream sequences that feel at times like Villalobos conducting Marginal Consort or at others like a naturally occurring delta of plugged in new age techno which has mutated in order to inoculate dancers against rigid metric conformity.
Spectral songcraft from Swiss trio Tout Bleu, charting a curious journey sure to appeal to followers of ÉLG, Gazelle Twin, The Velvet Underground, Coil
Bending drone-pop, darkwave electronics and keening jazz, rock and folk elements to their will, Simone Aubert’s Tout Bleu forge a form of, in their own words “Atmospheric No Wave”.
The results were recorded at Black Bunker Studio in Geneva, documenting Simone’s jibber-jawed glossolalia in a number of brooding situations, at times sounding like a call to prayer for far flung Mongolian tribes, at others resembling a sort of Japanese gagaku, and most often with an acutely trippy, heavy-lidded hypnagogic effect that leaves us subtly weirded out.
Raw and wincingly bittersweet, Niagara’s pendulous grooves blush like they were freshly bruised onto the vinyl in 37, the latest edition on the trio’s Ascender label.
In the wake of their São João Baptista EP for Príncipe, they carve out four parts of see-sawing hooks and crimped grooves doing the raw house thing quite unlike anyone else.
Their arrangements are practically disco in terms of live, lithe movement and lack of looping structure, leading the dance between the itchy boogie of Tó and the lushest grasp of deep fried dissonance in 12, before nodding to Jamal Moss’ cubist psychedelia with the lacquer bubbling scree and nerve-biting tone of Paradela, or the Birds Songs For Amelie vibes of Jordão.
Dreamlike second collaboration between Félicia Atkinson and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, a deeply affecting play of contrasting textures, densities and space that comes very highly recommended if you’re into Ryuichi Sakamoto’s collaborations with Alva Noto, La Monte Young, GRM’s 1970’s output, classic 4AD/Cocteau Twins, that incredible Autechre remix of Tortoise, or indeed Félicia Atkinson's scene stealing Hand In Hand album from last year...
‘Limpid as the Solitudes’ is the steeply immersive second collaboration between Félicia Atkinson and like-minded, explorative spirit Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. Both highly regarded for a sensually tactile approach to sound, they bring the best out of each other in an abstract, spectral form of songcraft indebted to shoegaze as much as concrète dreamscaping, millennial glitch works, and downtown drone classics.
Following from Felicia’s superb ‘Hand In Hand’ album and Jefre’s ‘Fragments of a Season’ side with Alexis Georgopoulos (Arp), the Franco-American duo humbly dissolve their egos into a sublime suite of hypnagogic drowse belied by a sense of widescreen detail and unpredictable arrangements that simultaneously beckons eyelids to half mast whilst encouraging listeners to remain in the waking world. This gentle push and pull of forces is a wonder to undergo, with an uncanny capacity to make time feel elastic, even polymetric and vertiginous.
To describe the album as ambient would indicate a much too passive engagement with the sound - leave it to play in the background and you’ll miss a lot of the joy. Felicia and Jefre describe the record as a series of postcards - “things and sounds that happen vertically as a slow ascension, vessels communicating in dreams”.
The first half breaks down to three pieces where fractured snatches of field recordings emerge over viscous drone beds and diffuse daubs of original instrumentation. Together, they resemble a form of sonic picnolepsy of overactive minds (yours and ours), where we attempt to fill in the gaps of their keening and precipitous collage of field recordings and original instrumentation, but soon enough succumb to their dream logic between he fragrant open space of ‘And The Flower Have Time For Me’, and the swirling axis of ‘Indefatigable Purple’, where Félicia’s ASMR murmurs mingle most beautifully detached bass pulses under a canopy of smudged keys.
But to be honest that all feels like preparation for the subtly keeling sensation impressed by the B-side, a 17 minute drift into vaporised sentiments that requires the connective tissue of your body and massaged senses to become complete.
'Colleen Et Les Boites A Musique' ("Colleen and the music boxes") is Colleen's most arresting and sublime offering to date - constructed entirely from the impossibly beautiful sounds of chiming music boxes.
Opening with the clanking and winding of 'John Levers the Ratchet', this is the perfect introduction, as if the record were being wound like a music box to run across its 40 minute life-span before returning to stillness.
The music box has, of course, been used before within a contemporary framework (Aphex Twin's "Nanou" for one), but the way Schott composes seems so obviously matched with the mechanical and naïve qualities we hear that she seems to own the concept.
"Colleen Et Les Boites A Musique" is in fact so sublime that her output to date seems to have been merely leading up to this serendipitous moment - concept and execution coming together for a wondrous display of simplicity and beauty. Like the soundtrack to your favourite half-remembered fairytale, you won't find a warmer, more inviting record this year.
By a stroke of pure luck, Carola Baer’s intoxicatingly dreamy avant-pop side ‘The Story of Valerie’ is made available for the first time via Concentric Circles, a new label minted by Jed Bindeman - the co-owner of Freedom To Spend with Pete Swanson
Apparently discovered in the goodwill bins of a Portland, OR thrift shop during the short window before said bins are sent to the dump, Carola Baer’s sole album - originally a demo tape for prospective collaboration - came this • close to escaping everyone’s attention, but now takes pride of place as the first Concentric Circles release.
Written circa 1990 on a Yamaha DX7, a Casio CZ-101, and a basic drum machinee while UK-based Carola was passing thru San Francisco on her way to Australia, ‘The Story of Valerie’ is a transfixingly intimate and melancholic affair whose heightened emotive atmosphere was the result of meeting new spirits and foreign partnerships that turned into relationships.
Its 11 songs are hauntingly frank and confessional, delivered in a style unmistakably indebted to early 4AD, but not beholden to it, as Carola is just as likely to err into edge of new age ambient-pop themes perhaps equally comparable with a lo-fi Enya, whilst also interspersed with much more wayward expressions of stressed distortion and even some wild rhythmic experimentation.
Of course, the discovery of ‘The Story of Valerie’ probably isn’t going to change the world, but it is most humbling to know that this kind of brilliance continues to resurface from blind spots everywhere. In the most classic sense of great art, it sometimes takes time to find your audience. In this case 28 years.
Chances are anything you’ll listen to after sitting through this half hour masterpiece will sound a bit lifeless - El Mal Querer is the most vibrant, layered and forward facing album of the year.
Rosalía Vila Tobella is already something of a sensation in her native Spain, but this new album looks certain to propel her into the stratosphere with its immediately accessible but multi-layered fusion of traditional flamenco with the swagger of modern R&B, a kind of minimal pop variant underpinned by what feels like an almost endless succession of clever hooks.
The opening Malamente is the most immediate and hard-hitting of the 11 tracks here, but the album is basically wall-to-wall brilliance, from the subtle, almost Theo-parrish inspired EQ cuts on Que No Salga La Luna to the super fwd juxtaposition of flamenco, auto-tune, pulsing subs and motorbikes revving on De Aquí No Sales to the ultra-ohrwurm Di Mi Nombre. Even the more traditional a cappela tracks edge into deviance - the eerie, layered vocals on A Ningún Hombre closing the album on a nervy, uncompromising note.
El Mal Querer really is a perfectly formed, hyper-modern vision of pop music; structurally daring, endlessly catchy, melancholy, introspective, bursting with charisma and more ideas than any other record we’ve listened to in 2018. Apparently there’s new music in the works from Rosalía with Pharell and Arca, you should keep a v close eye on this one...
Reissue of the killer debut solo EP by Anthony Shakir a.k.a. Shake, a foremost architect of OG Detroit house and techno
Produced in 1993 and out of print since 1996 (although we do remember a warehouse find turning up c. 2005), ‘5% Solution’ is one of the greatest examples of Detroit house at it’s futuristic, avant, and singular best.
The A-side throws down the title cut’s devilish breakbeat edits and speaker-worrying subbass growl in a freaky style that would become Shake’s calling card, while ‘Mindless Entertainment’ takes that subbass to shockingly heavy levels in the mix while the drums are chopped with a sleight of hand that’s got so much to answer for over the years. On the flip, the stop-start warehouse classic ‘Day Of Reckoning’ and the bleeping badboy ‘My Name Is Binky’ recalls to us many classic DJ Miles sets, and a time when Detroit house was hugely inventive.
A gaggle of experimentalists including UK’s Ian Helliwell rework (or Retime) Howlround’s soundtrack to Steven McInerney’s film, A Creak in Time’ for Psyché Tropes
Howlround’s patented spectral systems music provides rich, ghostly source material for the various tape manipulators, ranging from a weathered swell of ferric drizzle and guttural basses by award-winning composer Tom White, thru the warped convolutions of Merkaba Macabre, a fizzing bout of abstraction by Dan Hayhurst, and, most notably, a fractured collage by Brighton-based multimedia artist Ian Helliwell, who made the ‘Practical Electronica’ documentary about FC Judd and early British tape recording.
Howlround himself also supplies two new reworks of his own piece, one cochlea-chewing alien grub thing, and a curdled drone work recalling Leyland Kirby’s work as The Stranger.
CV & JAB is Christina Vantzou and John Also Bennett, two artists that might already be familiar to many of you from their individual work over the years for the Kranky and Spectrum Spools labels. Together they have made this slowly engrossing album for Shelter Press - who else - perhaps one of the most elusive, uncanny and multi-layered “Ambient” albums we’ve heard in what feels like a long time, a worthy follow-up to a frankly astonishing sequence of releases on the label that started with Felicia Atkinson’s modern classic 'Hand In Hand'. If you’re into anything from Chris Watson’s field recordings to Vangelis and Badalamenti at their most romantic and evocative, or even Boards of Canada’s early forays into wildlife documentary pastiche, this one will sooth your mind like nothing else.
The album is a musical interpretation of Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface, a 90m panoramic wall drawing by Zin Taylor (a reproduction of which is included as a fold-out poster that comes with the vinyl edition). Through 10 tracks they render beautiful electro-acoustic meditations on the passage of time, which follows-on from their co-work on Vantzou's No. 3 album.
Vantzou brings a wealth of experience working between auditory and visual mediums to John Also Bennett’s synthesized and acoustic sound sensitivities, which have recently applied to his action in the Forma trio and a compilation of Pauline Anna Strom’s amazing Trans-Millenia Music for RVNG Intl, with a purposefully slow and immersive flow of acoustic piano and flute wrapped up in remarkably plasmic, spatially detailed synth contours.
In 10 parts, through a combination of literal track titles and abstracted allegorical inference, they describe the movement and feelings evinced by Zin Taylor’s massive tableaux, variously transposing his imagery of Cactus with Vent into webs of crystalline harmonics that acquiesce to brownian motion, or, as with the transition of Alfred Hitchcock Haze to Rock House With Door, a vividly synaesthetic transcription of figurative drawing to brooding, doomily Lynchian sound that brings to mind a wealth of captivatingly dank and alien imagery.
The vinyl package includes a miniaturised print of Zin Taylor’s Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface to peruse while you listen, so that you, like Christina and Bennett, can also make your own interpretation, and see how far their sonic translation differs with your own. Or then again, you could ignore it entirely and let yourself drift inside their free-formed dimensions without the cues. Either way, you’re in for a beautiful, open-ended and unpredictable trip.
‘Sonder Somatic’ is the debut Bruce album for Hessle Audio. If Monolake came thru in the UK during the post-dubstep phase, his music may have sounded a bit like this one.
“Bruce – AKA Larry McCarthy – is set to release his debut album Sonder Somatic this October on UK imprint Hessle Audio. The album packs 11 singular UK club tracks that evoke a distinctly emotive and dense energy, channelling detailed sound designs, tangled textures and club anthems for 2018 and beyond.
The record is deeply varied in styles, ideas and tempos; from the tight rhythmic groove of album opener 'Elo' to the weaponised onslaught of ominous club cuts 'What' and 'Cacao' - through drifting, meditative techno and the skeletal sound design of 'Ore' and 'Baychimo.' Each track shifts the tonal mood in subtle and distinct ways, whilst retaining a consistent icy sound palette infused with colour and human warmth.
The shapeshifting Hessle Audio imprint is run by Pearson Sound, Ben UFO and Pangaea. For over ten years, through their combined tastes they have continued to unravel and explore the edges of sounds and ideas from the wider dance music scene, across the boundaries of the functional and the experimental, with consistently innovative results. As a long time follower of the label, Bruce wanted to craft an album that continues their singular attitude and approach; incorporating vibes from UK soundsystem music as well as music from his home town of Bristol.
"From being a fan of their work from the very beginning, it's not only the music they have released that has informed my taste/work, but also the journey they have formed through the application of their attitude and approach." - Bruce
Much of Sonder Somatic was shaped by Bruce's own understanding of club culture as a whole, and predominantly his personal relationship with it both professionally and recreationally. The album was partly written as an attempt to capture that rare transformative feeling that can cause you to fully lose yourself in a club space, disconnecting from your immediate environment for a short time.
Sonder Somatic follows EPs for Timedance, Livity Sound, Idle Hands and Hemlock, and comes 4 years after his debut EP 'Not Stochastic' for Hessle Audio. The album pushes the boundaries of what club music can be whilst expertly refining his work as both a club producer and an experimental sound designer. With a unique sense of flair that sets him apart, Sonder Somatic is set to raise Bruce's profile across all corners of the dance world.”
Back in March, prolific cellist and composer Lucy Railton released her long awaited solo debut for Modern Love; an intense and multi-layered opus that reminded us of everything from Alvin Lucier, Beatrice Dillon and Nate Young, to Valerio Tricoli and Popol Vuh.
A prolific performer who has appeared on countless recordings and collaborations with many important figures in contemporary music over the last few years, Paradise 94 is, remarkably, Railton's solo debut - featuring archival, location and studio recordings which serve as a time capsule of all the myriad disciplines and influences that have brought her to this point in time. It both plays up to and shatters expectations of her music, which harnesses a duality of energies - acoustic/electronic, real/imagined, iconic/iconoclastic, pissed-off/romantic; out of place and androgynous - resulting in a visceral emotional insight and rare narrative grasp.
Variegated, asymmetric, and located somewhere between her usual fields of exploration, Paradise 94 gives free reign to aspects of her creativity that have previously been subsumed into collaborative processes and interpretations of other composers’ work. Here, she’s free to probe, sculpt and layer her sounds through a much broader range of techniques and strategies, placing particular focus on non-linear structural arrangements and exploring the way her cello becomes perceptibly synthetic through collaging, rather than FX. At every turn Paradise 94 is bewilderingly unique.
The A-side unfolds an oneiric, inception-like sequence traversing temporalities, timbres and tones from what sounds like a spectral ensemble playing on a traffic island in Pinnevik, to bursts of rabbit-in-headlights trance arps emerging from meticulously dissected musique concrète in The Critical Rush, and a collision of masked vocals, string eruptions and a deeply moving, light-headed Bach rendition in For J.R.
On the other hand, Fortified Up on side B tests out a far rawer approach, sampling herself playing the same glissandi over and again, which she layers into a sort of perpetual, sickly motion, the Shepard Tone riffing on the listener’s psychoacoustic perceptions before calving off into a cathartic dissonant folk coda in its final throes.
In the most classic sense, you can only properly begin to f*ck with something from the inside once you truly know it. Railton’s dedicated years of service have more than equipped her with the nous and skill to do just that, gifting us with what will no doubt be looked back on as a raw, exposed and important solo debut in years to come.
Additional Note: The album features Beatrice Dillon on acetone drums on 'To The End', Gard Nilssen on cymbals and glass samples recorded and provided by Nicolas Becker on ‘The Critical Rush’. Organ extract on 'For J.R.' (Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott) is composed by J.S. Bach and performed by Kit Downes, drain pipe is performed by Koichi Makigami.
Included in the five-CD collection are 14 of the revolutionary composer’s best known and most acclaimed pieces, including: Music for 18 Musicians, Different Trains, Tehillim, Eight Lines, You Are (Variations), Electric Counterpoint, Come Out, The Desert Music, and Drumming.
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
Chromatic conjurer Tim Hecker meets traditional Japanese Gagaku musicians from the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble on ‘Konoyo’, a dreamlike dramaturgy of noise, dissonance and aching melody recorded during several trips to Japan
The Canadian’s 9th solo release ‘Konoyo’, like its predecessor, ‘Love Streams’  also finds Hecker drawn to acoustic instruments and collaboration with a larger ensemble or collective, this time working with the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble after commanding an Icelandic choir on his previous album. However, the results here have a different purpose, swapping out ecstatic density for an intently refined and spacious approach, allowing his processed sources to ring out beautifully un/true in a sort of parallel dimensional harmonic spectrum.
In ‘Konoyo’ Tim Hecker effectively establishes a whole new set and lighting design to stage his patented play of paradoxes - lone/collective; organic/synthesised; consonant/dissonant - with the synaesthetically heightened skill of director, set designer and conductor rolled into one. The results are thus among his most subtly yet richly theatrical or cinematic, riddled with romantic, if abstract, narrative and a yearning pathos, and effectively collapsing myriad traditions - electronic, acoustic, Western, Eastern, classical and new age - into a spellbindingly sonorous, mercurial triumph.
For new initiates and avant-garde fiends alike, this Xenakis collection renders a breathtaking survey of works by the radical composer, theorist, architect and engineer, spanning the period 1956-1974 and featuring some of the greatest works of the 20th century, including the awe-inspiring sonic architecture of ‘Persepolis’.
Inarguably one of the most important composers to blend electronic process and classical orchestration, Greek-French artist Iannis Xenakis made an indelible impression on the 20th century with his staggeringly complex feats of musical engineering. Regularly cited as an influence by composers ranging from Russell Haswell and Florian Hecker thru Autechre and Reinhold Friedl, Xenakis’s polymath pursuits in hybridising music, architecture and mathematics generated a bewildering array of sounds and structures which have rarely, if ever, been bettered in terms of their sheer scope, scale and technical ingenuity.
It’s possible to break down Xenakis’ approach to composition, and its results, as an extension of his experiences in armed combat, fighting for Greece’s left wing liberationists against the German army and later the British during WWII, with the latter leaving him blinded in one eye. He would eventually leave Greece in 1947 after graduating university with a degree in civil engineering, and before he could be conscripted into the Greek army, who didn’t look favourably on left wing sympathisers. Moving from Greece to Paris left him with a sense of guilt at betraying his friends, and a sense that “I had to do something important to regain the right to live. It wasn’t just a question of music - it was something much more significant.”
That significant something turned out to be a mind-blowing, multi-disciplinary oeuvre practically unprecedented in the history of music, architecture and art; a radical synthesis of ideas which embraced new technology and abstraction as a means to realise and create a new world in the aftermath of WWII. Like the Italian futurists before him, Xenakis would draw on the chaotic soundfield of war, and combined with a strong knowledge of experimental classical music and a special nous of maths, Xenakis’ subsequent studies with Olivier Messiaen and work with Parisian architect Le Corbusier would prompt him to composing groundbreaking new music during the 1950s.
This 2CD contains works from that era, stretching right back to the pranging clangour and jet-like eruptions of Achorripsis [1956-57], an early example of his stochastic style of composition, thru the dizzying, chronic dynamics of Syrmos , and to some of the earliest work composed by a computer, the 7090 IBM, in ST/48(St/48-1,240162).
But it’s Xenakis’ ’60s/‘70s work where his genius is mst evident, from the breathtaking scope of Polytope De Montréal  - written for four orchestras in the same space in the French Pavilion at Expo ’67 - to the gobsmacking dimensions of his seminal Persépolis , which was realised for the Shah of Iran, plus the frankly terrifying, computerised wormhole of Polytope De Cluny [1972-74].
We can’t reasonably describe this set as anything other than indispensable for fans of electronic music from its inception to the modern day.
One of Convextion’s most in-demand classics, ‘Crawling & Hungry’ is finally repressed along with his ace ‘Venus In Spurs’
A total inverted-anthem in our Pelicanneck shop back at the start of this century, Convextion’s ‘Venus In Spurs’ 12” remains a high water mark of dub techno to this day. While in any normal circumstances the A-side would be hailed a total pearl, it’s really all about the B-side’s ‘Crawling And Hungry’, one of Gerard Hanson’s very deepest emotional punishers, stretched out for 11 minutes of Basic Channel-style dub chord meditation with the additional glow of Detroit techno proper and Area54 ambience.
Ask almost anyone who knows or owns this cut, they’ll probably put it in their all-time top 10. Goes for us at least.
Welcome reissue of Romania’s 1st fully electronic music recording - a fascinating and intrepid example of Spectral Music made at the IPEM Studio in Ghent, Belgium. Big RIYL Horatiu Radelescu, Iancu Dumitrescu, Roland Kayn, Basil Kirchin
Notable not only as the first properly electronic record released in Romania (in 1984), the hallucinatory scapes of ‘Gradeatia • Natural’ also formed the solo debut by Octavian Nemescu, who, along with Horatiu Radelescu and Nemescu’s collaborator, Cornel Cezar, shaped the distinctive, astronomic dimension of the Spectral Music style - one of Romania’s greatest contributions to the wider 20th century electronic music canon.
The LP’s A-side, ‘Gradeatia’ was recorded in 1983 at the esteemed IPEM Studio in Ghent, Belgium. For practically any European artist, access to this studio would have been a big deal, but it was an even more serious opportunity for Nemescu, whose access to equipment was severely limited in Communist controlled Romania. Working with his partner/sound engineer, Erica Nemescu - a skilled engineer who had worked on sound for animations - Octavian created a remarkably sensuous and immersive work full of modernist wonder, coursing form lush EMS Synthi 100 strokes to chaotic pulses, cinematic synth passages and a mind-bending finale. It’s patently the sound of someone dreaming of escape routes into different temporalities and dimensions, and is presented here in its entirety for the 1st time, following an unauthorised, truncated version pressed up by Electrecord in 1984.
Nemescu’s B-side work ‘Natural’ was, however, recorded at home in Romania. Using prerecorded samples of the Romanian countryside and electronic sources, Nemescu cut them up on his Grundig reel-to-reel decks to create a uniquely captivating mesh of warbling voice and keening, sonorous electro-acoustic megastructures which, again, connoted a sense of longing escape from earthly binds, while acknowledging its escapable gravity.
Opal Tapes return to their roots in rock and metal with reissue of Sloth’s ‘Getting Ready for Christmas (It’s All About Malt Liquor)’
Bish speaks: “A true oddity, Sloth have worked peerlessly since 1994 covering a world of sludge rock, bizarro outsider pop and experimental noise musics.
"Getting Ready for Christmas" is a darkly comic collection of losercore in the vein of some of Twisted Village releases (Luxurious Bags, Major Stars) or maybe Sentridoh but charged with a painful pathos of lonliness and destitution and a dense heaviness. Released approximately in 1996 (Dom can't be sure exactly) these first four "Untitled" tracks are met on the flip with a pure wall, representative of Sloth's current output. A flipped switch and erasing of everything that precedes it.
Opal is very happy to reissue these recordings from an act who, along with their contemporaries and split partners, Floor, Fleshpress and Noothgrush, formed an important part in my early listening and introduction to the odd and extreme ends of music.”
A rare vinyl edition of three works by Luigi Nono - a pivotal figure of the Italian avant-garde - all composed and recorded in the mid ‘80s.
A lesson in fine-tuning acoustic perceptions, meant for focussed reception in keeping with Nono’s concept of “new listenings”: "This no longer means revolutionizing the entire linguistic system ie. a subversive attack on the institution of music; rather it means progressively expanding the technical possibilities of sound produced by traditional instruments and the perceptive faculties of the listener."
It includes the highly pensive and masterful use of space and silence in A Carlo Scarpa for large orchestra, plus the death sigh electronics, contrabass flute and contrabass clarinet apparitions of A Pierre, and perhaps most enticingly, a stunning 30-minute B-side piece called Guai Ai Gelidi Mostri and inhabited by “electronically treated winds”, scything strings and utterly haunting vocal swells.
As with most everything on Edition RZ, it’s a crucial dispatch from the brink.
Black Merlin gnashes at the ‘floor agin for Berceuse Heroique after sunning his ass in Indonesia
Tacking back to the dance via weirder outposts, the British artist stretches out between signature, oily EBM, hypnotic ambience and viscous modular roil on the ‘Void’ EP.
The first plate is smeared with the pendulous triplet rhythms and intoxicating reverb dynamics of ‘Void’, and the proper darkroom impulse of ‘Machine’, while the 2nd plate delivers the cranky industrial slug of ‘R24’ before dieting sidelong into the ritualistic modular synth styles, art best in the star-eyed kiss-off ‘Mod’.
Deep and rugged Detroit-style dub techno and electro from Japan’s Stereociti in Waveguide mode for Mojuba
Named after his personal imprint, Waveguide signifies a switch to tuffer styles for Ken Sumitani, taking in raggedly filtered dub chords and heaving subs in ‘Quod’, and a filigree weave of entrancing Detroit arps in ‘Cubic Roots’, whereas the the other two are proper electro missiles, skidding like a classic Ultradyne or E.R.P. in Tightrope’, and with hi-tech funk suspension on the rapid-fire ‘Lemma’.
Expert digger/editor Mori Ra on the chop again for BH, grooving between sweet folk dance, screwed boogie, gamelan driven disco-house and elegant jakbeat...
This volume of ‘The Brasseries Heroique Edits’ follows a wavy line from harp-led blends of folk chant and boogie to a killer, Thriller-esque downstroke on the front, before pushing the tempo with the lissom moire-ra of gamelan rhythms, seraphic synth voices and grooving 4/4, and a sublime house percolator.
A unique, prickly flora in the garden of Edition RZ, ’Klangregionen 1951-2007’ offers an unparalleled and riveting overview of Josef Anton Riedl’s pioneering concrète and electronic noise music; ranging from his time at the GRM c. 1950’s thru his later years, when he made important contributions, alongside Nikos Mamangakis, to the soundtrack for Edgar Reitz's incredible Die Zweite Heimat series.
Of proper historic pedigree, Klangregionen 1951-2007 renders a fascinating cross-section of Riedl’s oeuvre, collecting material previously released on vinyl, along with a number of premieres, which all make their first and only appearance on CD here thanks to the great Edition RZ. Frankly, it’s a treasure trove for adventurous listeners who hold an interest in any aspect of electronic and noise music, and where it came from.
As the set reveals, Josef Anton Riedl (1929-2016) was way ahead-of-his-time. After early studies in Münich, he began in earnest with electronic and concrète composition in 1952, charting a course that would take him to the GRM in 1953, to Köln’s NWDR studio in 1955, and Gravesano with the legendary Hermann Scherchen in ’59, before a spell as director of Siemans Studio for electronic music between 1959-66, and subsequently turning toward multi-media events, both in production and organisation, with the Musik/Film/Dia/Licht galerie in Munich, and the Kultur Forums in Bonn (1974-82), and since 1987 with the Bonner Tage Neuer Musik festival and Musica viva festival Munich.
The work he produced over this period is some of the most striking concrète and electronic noise we’ve ever heard. From the outset of this set, the shearing angularity of Paper Music I, 1961/70 sound remarkably fresh and distinctly prescient of music made 60 years later, while his later take on Cage’s Fontana Mix, here as Mix Fontana Mix, 1974/76/79 is one of the best, freakiest, we’ve heard - clearly pre-echoing the mad fuss of Russell Haswell and reams of Japanese noise music. Factor in breathtaking percussive workouts such as Silphium, 1969/70, the totally alien vocal diffusion of Leonce Und Lena, 1963/64, or the Roland Kayn-esque tonal warp of Studie 62 II, 1962 and you’ve got a truly astonishing, diverse body of work which requires much closer attention.
An added bonus for us is the revelation that Riedl was responsible for much of the experimental music in Edgar Reitz’s incredible second series of Heimat : Chronicle of a Generation, which we are only now realising was strongly related, or possibly even loosely based upon, Riedl’s own life; as the series follows a young composer who moves to Munich in the 1950s, undertaking classical piano studies which expand into experimental music as he looks to find a new musical voice and language for the generation of German youth who grew up in the shadow of WWII. The parallels are arguably striking and unmistakeable, and serves to render this collection in a fascinating new light.
For fans of anything from Daphne Oram’s alien abstractions to Gottfried Michael König’s harshness, thru their modern antecedents in Russell Haswell, Autechre or Emptyset - or indeed Heimat - this collection is utterly essential!