Pure, unadulterated Berlin techno trample and gloom from Kareem, getting nostalgic for the early phase of Zhark when its “radical aesthetic… lead to inadaptability and isolation”
Admirably making no concessions to taste or trend, the tracks on ‘1997’ are forged with a charred and unyielding quality that’s going to garner some proper grimaces from the hardest to please techno fiends.
‘1997’ is a ruffshod, uncompromising beast built around drop forge kids and noxious levels of distortion, whereas ‘Bass, How Low can You Go’ sees him reprise the cantering, grungy flex of his ‘Wildpicth, I Think I Loved You’ cut of 2014 with pendulous drums, droning bass and bruxist noise, seemingly all preparing us for the escalating intensity of ‘cryinggodz’ and its arch gothic industrial stare-down.
Kinetic selection of breakbeat/IDM-oriented ravers from a wild ruck of producers including Dj Python, Gábor Lázár, Bullion, Aquarian, X-Altera and many more for Ghostly’s Adult Swim series
While also dipping into slinkier house and broken beat styles, the majority, and the best cuts, come from familiar artists on a ruder flex, including Gábor Lázár with the neuro-style licks and tweaky jazz-funk torque of ‘Fractured’, Aquarian on a meter-messing flex between Carpenter-esque darkwave bass and jungliest shrapnel, and the 4 hero-styled space funk of Tadd Mullinx in X-Altera mode, while DJ Python unfurls the reticulated tresillo slink of ‘Chalet’, and consistent charmer Bullion works up the itchy, pleasingly awkward funk of ‘Rhino’.
Future Times finish 2019 on a high with 23 diamond club cuts from an extensive international network of friends and family
Ay there’s a lot to get down with, so without further ado we direct your ears and asses to the likes of Joyce’s ‘Active Recovery’, juggling juke, jungle and jittery electronics in wildest style, also to Martyn and Dolo Percussion’s deep breakbeat rave razz ‘Misfit City Rolling’; the polymetric flux of ’Stock Murmurations’ by Motion Graphics; Jackson Ryland’s thizzing aerial breaks; cubist freestyle brokebeat chops from Soso Tharpa; the finely feathered jazz-fusion atom splitting of Max Motion Duo’s take on ‘Near Future’ by Lifted; and a charming strip of ambient dance soul from Jordan GCZ and Dreamcast.
Manchester/London label ANA mark a year of moody operations with a sullen group portrait spanning shady takes of dub techno, domestic electronic abstraction and dread steppers.
Delivering “wist and wrath in equal measure”, the 9 nine tracks stake out bleak and rugged ground somewhere between the catalogues of UVB-76 Music, Horo and 5 Gate Temple, introducing a ruck of new artists to the fray in the process.
We’re particularly taken with Kesa Getame’s ruffneck D&B blow ‘Untitled’, which seemingly comes on like a late ‘90s/early ‘00s amen choppage from Digital or Paradox after its supremely dank intro. The murky dreadnaught momentum of Gamba’s ‘Red Mud’ also gets it right, hitting a mark close to John T. Gast’s recent dubs, as does Kaval Yahudah’s ‘Soyguncu’, while Beyaz takes it gloomier with the cold, echoic techno rolige of ‘Femur (version)’, and there’s much darker, heavily atmospheric moves ranging from Aussterben’s very Belgian-sounding post-punk play ‘Daem’, and the cranky wobble of Heavy Teeth’s ‘The Pull of The Centre’.
Anyone gasping for more Jim O’Rourke after his unreal ‘To Magnetize Money and Catch a Roving Eye’ 4CD set will find succour in his richly enigmatic, ephemeral union with Brunhild Ferrari, a legend of the French avant-garde who shares O’Rourke’s pan-aural gaze in the mystifying interzones of ‘Le Piano Englouti’
In a masterful suite patently inspired by the late, great Luc Ferrari, his widow and collaborator Brunhild meets Jim O’Rourke amid a steeply mystifying pair of electro-acoustic explorations for Oren Ambarchi’s exemplary Black Truffle. The first collaboration between Brunhild Ferrari & Jim O’Rourke binds the titans of two eras in an immersive web of electronics threaded with tape samples of piano, field recordings of the Aegean sea and a Japanese island, and the roar of a Pachinko parlour, inside a dreamlike non-place soundsphere. Recorded in concert at O’Rourke’s SuperDeluxe stomping ground and later mixed/mastered by him at Steamroom, the results clearly speak to the influence of Luc Ferrari as found in O’Rourke’s amazing 4CD box ‘To Magnetize Money and Catch a Roving Eye’, and thanks to the input of Luc’s wife and collaborator of more than 40 years, the results are entirely worthy of comparison with the seminal poet-technician of 20th century avant composition.
While Luc Ferrari’s presence is detectable in the B-side, which uses source material from his 1977 ‘Exercises d’Improvisation’, it feels as though Brunhild and Jim spend the LP’s first side summoning his spirit. With ‘Le Piano Englouti’ they arrive like a dawn mist, before the sounds of digitally distorted waves and footsteps on sand breach the near-silence, leading into 17 minutes of cascading keys that scatter and fall like feathers from the imperceptibly surreal mix of synthetic and natural birdcalls that pepper the scenes, beckoning eyes to back of head and drifting the listener between the piece’s parallel dimensions.
If the A-side has worked its potential, the B-side’s shimmering vision ‘Tranquilles Impatiences’ will only impart its psychedelic subtleties more effectively. Using electronic source material from seven tapes of ‘Exercises d’Improvisation’ recorded by Luc Ferrari in 1977 and intended to be layered with instrumental improvisations, Brunhild and Jim nest chirruping avian tones in a flickering thicket of pulses that gradually open out, swelling into a monumental sound-object with a sort of suppressed, tempered ecstasy that leaves us levitating and rapt by its sublime tension.
Brimming with poptimistic promise, Georgia’s sophomore album is a tidy slab of classic-but-contemporary dance-pop lit with guest spots by Shygirl and Maurice, plus guest production by DJ Marfox and Happa.
Where Georgia’s s/t 2015 debut was dance-punky and prone to manicured distortion, ‘Seeking Thrills’ sounds like she’s since grown up in a different set of clubs where vintage M.I.A. is played next to new Charli XCX. Working to a slightly more indie-pop side of those poles, she comfortably slips into a new synth-pop skin that also places her music next to the likes of Annie while keeping her in reach of more rugged, roadways styles familiar to her native UK.
It’s hard to shift the M.I.A. comparison, especially in her chanting, bubbling ‘Ray Guns’ with its co-production by Príncipe’s DJ Marfox, while the likes of her ‘Mellow’ hook-up with Shygirl keeps it up-to-the-second fresh, and the likes of lead ohrwurm ‘Started Out’, and the ‘80s FM pop lust of ‘The Thrill’ sounds like proper classic synth-pop, no less.
The furtive Interplanetary label shell down a cyber-techno-goth themed haul ranging from haunted neofolk to EBM, industrial and punkish D&B
Moth Face comes off like a faded Carla Dal Forno in the slow, revving neofolk elegy, ‘Like Leaves In The Fall’, and Milf Wips feat. Haunted Mausoleum bare their fangs in the gnashing 2-step D&B raze of ‘Not Today’. Niban also impresses with the slathering industrial lurch of ‘Fade The Fuck Out’, Nocturnal Persuit dole out wickedly sloppy EBM grunge in ‘Beign insurmountable’, and label boss Theorem makes it sleazy and kinky with the slow grind of ’Super Wet & Intervened’.
Tautly funky footwork tekkers from the sound’s Australian ambassador and newcomer SunnySun
‘Dragnet’ shoots from the hip with stop/start soul chord chops and typewriter tics that double and triple up in leg-testing style, while ‘All Ghet Shoot’ hits on a dubbed-out footwork steppers tip in a driving but spaced-out and mellow flow.
London’s lauded Forest Drive West goes deep in the dub chamber, UK style, for Echocord, alongside a reverberating Conforce remix
Gauging the depth of his sound with the tentative stepper ‘Creation Dub’, which sounds like Rhythm & Sound on 45-not-33, he rolls out into skeletal, shifty grey area styles on ‘Drift’, and strands up in a classy piece of distant, clanking buoys and and elegantly sloshing garage swing layered up with lush pads in ‘Parallel Space’, which Conforce duly evens out on a rolling dub techno keel.
Prague’s fama Q string quartet perform avant garde works by pivotal Eastern European Fluxus figure Milan Knížák, including compositions dating to 1973 and all written in his unique style of clashing colours
“Violin was Milan Knizak's first instrument. He has composed hundred of works of this ilk. The first
one DHK, 45 years ago. Next to his destroyed works, Milan took notations of different composers, cut them and put them together (with his own score) into a collage, expressing his feelings and his apprehension of music.
'I am aware that the majority of my compositions are technically challenging, since I employ uncommon intervals, so as to make the musicians think in a different, novel way and to produce different colours in the “classical” passages too. If the instruments were arrayed “beneath one another”, simple melodies may come across as boring. In the case of interval skips, whereby I count
with a certain fuzziness, even falseness of tones, music is far more colourful.
I don't care who would perform my pieces, as long as they are solid musicians. I think I have written them in such a manner that they should not forfeit energy even when someone is not familiar with the modern playing principles, only their effect would somewhat shift. And I really don't mind any shift. One of my friends said that this music of mine is not similar to anything. I would like to add that it is similar to everything. Perhaps both are true.' Milan Knizak, April 2018”
Rude and sleazy shots of hypno-industrial swag and cyber-exotic dance music from Berlin’s Benoit B on Firecracker’s roving sibling imprint
Cut from a similar mould to his records for Berceuse Heroique, Versatile, Wisdom Teeth, Peur Bleue and his own Banlieue Records, ‘Caution 9’6” High’ continues to mark Benoit B out from the crowd at each step, shaking up the styles between skulky kerb-crawling juice recalling StabUDown Productions in ‘Global Go’, to the lilting Latin freestyle-meets-light industrial zone swagger of ‘Nanga’ on the A-side, before he rubs out the wickedly salty swang of ‘Cruising’, pivoting around Heinrich Mueller-esque arps and gasping EBM rhythms, and ‘Coconut Grove’ clocks out on a pendulous, sawn-off hip hop tip nodding to The Underdog.
Jarra cedes control to his analog machines on a tape of absorbingly organic, coruscating drones that recall the work of Deathprod and Kevin Drumm.
Chasing up the recent first digital edition of his 2002 CDr releases for US avant stable, and/OAR, the three ‘IsoMonads’ effectively elaborate on the way Jarra transposed his abstract painting techniques into sound. In his paintings, Jarra worked towards a technique in which his role as painter was reduced only to the essentials, and in his music he attempts to do the same, leaving as much agency as possible with the machines.
The results found on ‘IsoMonad’ allow the sounds of his analog synths to breathe and speak their own language. Left unmastered and unaltered from the initial recording, the two sides resemble a dematerialisation into pure, Ur texturhythm swaddled in the inherent ferric vapour of the format. They’re the sort of sounds that occur where natural and manmade worlds elide, but when nobody is paying attention. On the surface they clearly have a connection to the abstract tonal wilds of Kevin Drumm or the hellish sonic ecosystems generated by Helge Sten a.k.a. Deathprod’s AudioVirus, and on another level they also render similarly alien sensation, if slightly more lo-fi parallel to the algorithmic composition of Roland Kayn and his peer Jaap Vink, likewise illuminating the way into frankly frightening zones of abstraction. Perhaps what the world sounded like before humans arrived, or even after we’re gone and the last one standing forgot to switch off the power.
Smoggy radge-packet FUMU wrists a big aggy boo to the dance with ’Skinned’, the mutant, bashment-ready follow-up to his cultishly acclaimed debut CD issued in late 2018 on YOUTH
A member of Manny’s Return To Zero crew with Turinn and Rich Harris, FUMU has become notorious for his cyberpunk style of ruffkut dancehall and knackered house polluted with noisy power electronics. On the ’Skinned’ EP he shells four typically concise dancefloor wreckers inspired as much by the undercurrents of Manchester dancefloors and bedrooms as the Bladerunner landscape of his formative Teesside stomping grounds, resulting a sound compatible with Demdike Stare and Muslimgauze as much as DJ Scud and Ossia.
In four untitled bits he works up a filthy head of steam from swanging dancehall rhythms and industrial drones, booting off with the ruffian shunt of part 1, before shooting shredded jet engine sounds on the stunted drums and distorted graffiti of part 2, before turning it out like Merzbow on the dembow with part 3, and pasting soundsystem chat and primal screams onto murderous subs and in the burnt-out bogle of part 4.
With raw physicality and tone, veteran Swiss experimenters Luigi Archetti & Bo Wiget churn up compelling ground between modern classical, free improv, ambient and minimalism in their joint vinyl debut and first excursion for over a decade - Highly recommended if yr into Oren Ambarchi, Dylan Carlson, Tony Conrad.
Effortlessly taut but supple, often harsh but also lushly dissonant, ‘Weltformat’ pushes the duo’s practice found on their early trio of ‘Low Tide Digitals’ (2001-2009) albums to more ambitious levels for uncompromising Italian label, Die Schachtel. Clad in the explosive greyscale graphic score from which it was born, the piece wends thru a baker’s dozen parts riddled with surprising, quizzical turns and fascinatingly fluid transitions between moods, harmonic colours and quiet/loud dynamics that showcase the pair as uncannily deft masters of their craft.
Luigi Archetti brings decades of experience playing guitar with krautrock legends Guru Guru and their head Mani Neumeier, while Bo Wiget supplies signature cello and electronics, as heard in his work with Tetuzi Akiyama and Taku Sugimoto, to their refined yet intricate sound of ‘Weltformat’. Based on the score, which resembles a dual core of exploding stars, they flesh out a sound best described by the tracks’ transitory titles. For example, such as ‘London - Stavanger’, which lifts off from stately, spacious chords and buoyant bass strokes, but ends up, by turns, as a benign knot of garrotting discord. And at the opposite end of the LP ‘Villa Carcina - Wattwil’ makes the subtler passage from pooled post rock bass strums to aching cello coda via vaporous blips with the trippiest, fading in-and-out-of consciousness logic that’s testament to their tip-of-finger control and shared vision.
In the best sense of instrumental music, ‘Weltformat’ feels decisively intuitive and conversational, but in that special way which transcends words and harks back to atavistic systems of attuned, pre-verbal, empathic communication, when time moved slower and the divide between dreamtime and real worlds could be shortened or closed with sound and music.
Vinyl premiere of Masonna’s bona fide 1990 J-noise classic; a tortuous and shrieking example of Osaka’s most feared performer at an early crest of his powers.
A combustible force of nature working at the crossroads of alternative rock, death metal, and psychedelic synth music, Masonna’s music came to blisteringly define the “harshtronic” sound of Japanese noise as it lurched into the ‘90s. Following his 1989 debut ‘Open Your C*nt’ and a sick job on Bananarama (yep, them!), ‘Shinsen na Clitoris’ was issued in 1990 as the 3rd Masonna album and it has since been staked in the annals as unmissable entry point to his savage and forbidding catalogue.
Maso Yamazaki aka Masonna would go on found prog-noise group Flying Testicle with close affiliate Merzbow in 1992, but in the years before he established a mean reputation for bringing unhinged human behaviour to his powerful live performances, known to last only a few seconds. We can surely feel that energy unleashed and channelled into ‘Shinsen na Clitoris’, one of his best loved and notorious slabs. Gut-wrenched shrieks trigger torrents of hurtling distortion, limpid whimpers become barrages of face-melting abrasion, and collapsing tonnes of junk metal transmute into Tetuzi Akiyama-style guitar primitivism, always keeping recipients on the edge of their seat either out of exhilaration or a genuine fear for their own safety.
This is exactly the kind of stuff that has gassed the likes of Russell Haswell and Dominick Fernow (Prurient/Vatican Shadow) for decades now, galvanizing some of their strongest work with the feral nature that Japanese Noise is so widely praised for.
In dreamy pursuit of last year’s ‘Loyalty Does Not End With Death’ beauty, Abrahamsson & P-Orridge reprise their spectral duo in an absorbing bonus excursion for iDEAL.
Throbbing Gristle’s erstwhile front-pandrogyne returns to play the role of voice-in-your-head while Abrahamsson coolly shapes the space around them in a style that’s informed their ongoing collaboration since the first meeting of his White Stains project and Psychick TV in 1990.
Cut to 45rpm vinyl with one side a piece, the EP optimally highlights two works not found on their 2019 LP. The A-side ’s Slowly’ is a quietly unsettling sort of ether-dream sequence featuring Gen drawling their poetry in a slightly croaky, Burroughsian fashion thru a series of hyaline chamber harmonics, with a titular focus on reducing your heart rate in order for the hypnotic delivery and illusive sound design to really take hold.
The B-side’s ’Third Minds Think Alike’ follows in empathic style, with exquisitely smooth, anaesthetising electronics framing a delayed conversation between Gen’s stream-of-consciousness preaching on pandrogyny, social media, self-agency, and the rage of new generations against the shackles of DNA. Lovely easy-listening stuff, then.
Luc Ferrari’s sensually-focussed early ‘80s work ‘Sexolidad’ appears alongside a killer, technoid piece rife with metallic vocals and electro rhythms on vinyl for the first time.
Perhaps not the one to play anyone who says avant-garde music isn’t sexy, the full orchestration of ‘Sexolidad’, while intently focussed on the corporeal and the carnal, is probably only going to turn on a niche group of french pensioners.
However, ‘Dialogue Ordinaire Avec La Machine’ (1982-83) is a real wonder, mixing a punny conversation (in french, but we can chuckle at the translation) with cut-up rhythms and progressively weirder vocal processing that eventually ends up keening into chaotic dissonance and electro-dub rhythms recalling Pan Sonic or Muslimgauze jamming with Suicide and Craig Leon. Seriously! Aye, you’ve found our kink.
The first physical edition on iDEAL’s mixtape series comes from Aussie-in-Amsterdam DJ, Steele Bonus with a spellbinding follow-up to his split mix with Nosedrip, aside to his visual designs for Efficient Space, Safe Trip and many others.
Neatly patched from tip-of-tongue picks of tape art, film samples, lysergic psych folk, dubbed-out post punk and the kind of charms you’d expect to find on Music From Memory, we can assure you it’s a killer selection that will leave heads guessing at every turn. There’s no tracklist, but we reckon the internet will see to that in due course when the spotters get their notebooks out and get to work.
Haunting yet heavenly, widescreen and wintery deep ambient scapes from noted figures of the neo-classical/ambient interzone, making their 2nd joint excursion on A Strangely Isolated Place.
“Approached in a similar manner to their 2017 album ‘La Equidistancia’, the two producers have once again combined remotely between Buenos Aires and New York to form an expansive story of long-distance friendship and human connection. With Rafael taking the lead on engineering, culminating sketches, textures and isolated instruments, the warm, harmonic drones are once again apparent, albeit a lighter shine than their previous outing. With an emphasis on textures through voice manipulations, both Rafael’s and Leandro’s own personal stamp is interwoven throughout the six tracks, speaking to the close friendship that has developed between them both.
The album continues to explore this idea of human connection (in their case, thousands of miles away), our similarities, and how small everything really is in the grand scale of things. The pair speak about accidental connections in their hometowns, bringing to light a close bond despite never meeting in person. The remote situation ensured the music started without any predetermined concept yet installed a joyful and surprising experience each time a file was bounced back between them. This surprising and fluid process is evident through a myriad of instruments held in constant movement within the detail of the granular productions. Synths, effects units, pedals, the processing of their own vocals, pianos, guitars and a plethora of control voltage modulations represent the small details, the nodes of a relationship all coming together, amongst a greater, flowing mass of imperceptibility.”
Highly organic, kinetic concrete and reel-time ferric sculptures from Thomas Shrubsole, yielding almost 3 hours of lower case rustles resembling free jazz played by nature.
Working in a richly imaginative realm shared by everyone from Rashad Becker to Anne Guthrie, Ekoplekz to Decimus, ‘Tape Music’ is a significant batch of scrabbly abstraction from one of the North West’s most quietly unassuming and uncompromising operators. Working hands-on with his trusted reel-to-reel, found objects and 2nd-hand instrumentation, Shrubsole enacts a form of intimate animism that gives life to sounds lesser heard. Mixing skin with grit and machine, his improvised interventions coax out a plethora of almost anthropomorphic or bestial tones from things without a heart or brain, and effectively using his own body to better connect with the world around him and bring listeners to a granular, haptic level of musical perception.
Recorded in 2015 and left to mulch in the archive, the results are entirely analog from nose to tail, exploring a bio-organic feedback system that investigates, in his own words, “notions of the prosaic and the exotic, the personal as it pertains to the physically local and the distant, proximate and disembodied, the diaristic and the documentary: Kinetic performative physical improvisational concrete.”
Premiere Japanese selector, DJ Nobu plucks out a haul of deep electronic dance gems for the first Beyond Space and Time compilation
Prefaced by a 7” vinyl including Pan Sonic’s earth-shuddering ‘Lähetys/Transmission’ - also featured here - the compilation is the first release on Beyond Space and Time, a label arm of the Rainbow Disco Club (RDC) festival running in Japan for the past 10 years.
Opening with an effervescent Laurent Garner techno track ‘water Planet’, the set rolls thru some real nuggets ranging from Mono Junk’s aerial glyder ‘Beyond The Darkness’ to the hypnotic slink of Psychick Warriors of Gaia’s rare 1991 trip ‘The Valley’, and ultimately Burial’s heartbreaking ‘Arcangel’, via Thomas P. Heckmann’s brain-frying raver ‘Amphetamine’, the EBm raunch of ‘U-Men’ by Front 242, and NYC house shake-down of ‘E3 E6 Roll On’ by The Prince of Darkness aka Elbee Bad.
The 20 year net is in full effect as Soso Tharpa lifts from late ‘90s Eurodance and breaks for two gems on Future Times
On the A-side he weaves a sample of Floorfilla’s 1999 Euro dance ace ‘Anthem #2’ into the rolling square bass chassis and heavily swanging electro/house groove of ‘Decode’ with kinky effect, while the B-side betters the recent wave of late ‘90s nu skool-breaks nods in a slinky-toned workout licked with subaquatic pads and ruddy electro-dub bassline.
The Saturn Star is a properly immersive gesamtkunstwerk of music and art for an imagined film by Jorge Velez, who has strong previous form in this arena for L.I.E.S. and Rush Hour...
Now doing it for Alex Egan’s Utter label some five years after it started up with Jack Latham (Jam City)/Daniel Swan’s ‘Lux Laze’ score, Velez conjures an evocative, all-synthetic soundtrack for a fictitious flick, where “In a western European nation in the XVI Century, a physician-alchemist is accused of practising witchcraft by The Inquisition and is forced to live on the run. Pursued from all directions, he reluctantly resorts to a powerful and terrifying final act of self-preservation."
Taking cues from The Third Ear Band, late-period Coil, Carlos Peron's lurid soundtracks and European folk music, Velez applies his enigmatic sleight-of-hand to hardware in a mazily absorbing suite that variously calls to mind aspects of Bobby Krlic’s ‘Midsommer’ as much as the score of Ben Wheatley’s ‘A Field In England’ and the music to ‘Black Rainbow’ or ‘Building Arnold Schwarzenegger’, all very effectively evoking his subject in the most classic and timeless style.
Jorge Velez is also an illustrator and his accompanying A5 booklet plays a crucial part in the strength of ‘The Saturn Star’ with 8 pages of wordless images that work in step with the music and bring its pagan themes to life with sparse form that leaves lots to the imagination. It’s arguably among the most thoughtful and well-executed albums of its ilk in recent memory.
IDIB present a well warranted, analogue remastered Deluxe Edition of Chromatics' now-classic 'Night Drive', now including five bonus tracks.
The original tracks sound as poignantly cinematic as ever, their cover of Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill' still striking a tender nerve. The new tracks neatly expand the soundtrack-y feel, from the synth and Piano copulation of 'Shining Violence' to sleeve-rolling yacht disco in 'Circled Sun', through a memorably haunting duet for subtly effected bass guitar and vocals in 'Bell', to the Badalamenti-esque scoring of 'The Gemini' and a Drag Italo master stroke in 'Accelerator'. A must.
Fascinating compilation offering unprecedented access to Anthony Burgess’ personal life via the first and last known recordings of the late, great writers’ voice alongside domestic incidents, rehearsals and answering machine messages, plus “remixes” by Chris Watson, Vicky Clarke, Scanner, David Birchall, and Guy-Marc Hinant a.o.
The ‘Archives’ LP reveals Burgess’ gifts as a linguist and musician, as well as his engrossing views on everything from The Beatles to Stanley Kubrick, while the ‘Remix’ disc finds him chopped into a disarray of styles, including highlights in Roy Claire Potter & Kieron Piercy’s ‘Adjrust’, Marion Harrison’s witty cut-up ‘Janet and Howard Are In the Audience’, and the gauzy collage of Scanner’s ‘Whilst his piano gently sleeps’.
“Anthony Burgess's second wife Liana carried a cassette recorder with her at all times to capture her life with the author and their son Andrew. This extraordinarily intimate audio archive of over 1,000 cassettes now sits with the International Anthony Burgess Foundation and artist Alan Dunn has been granted access to select excerpts from it and curate sonic conversations from others.
Born in Manchester in 1917, Anthony Burgess was educated at Xaverian College in that city and at Manchester University. He served in the army from 1940 to 1946 and as an education officer in Malaya and Brunei from 1954 to 1959. He published more than 50 books (including 'A Clockwork Orange' and his masterpiece, 'Earthly Powers')
and composed around 250 musical works. He was created a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by President Mitterrand of France and a Commandeur de Mérite Culturel by Prince Rainier of Monaco. He died in London in 1993. His books are still read all over the world.”
Anti-fascist dubs, spiritual electronics and unconscious house music from Joachim Nordwall as The Idealist for his native Swedish label, Malmö Inre.
Pursuing the rooted, heavy-lidded mystic vibes of his LP, 7”s and tape in this mode over the past 12 months - including an ace dub of Genesis P-Orridge - The Idealist’s ‘Anti-Fascist Dubs’ continue to find intriguing variation within a theme, with discernibly and crisply more psychedelic, acidic, and cranky results to boot.
Working under a pointed title and rhetoric that has also been adopted by Deathprod - another Scandinavian artist who clearly feels the need to identify his music in solidarity with the left, but ostensibly shares few aesthetic connection with this music - The Idealist’s take on dub is both respectful of the original format and keen to mutate it, rubbing it the right/wrong way with a manacled grasp of prickly noise dynamics and druggy hypnosis.
Up top he comes off like MWC gone dub with the meditation tape loops and playfully angular step of ‘Breath Deeply Dub’, whereas ‘Tune In, Turn On, Dub Out’ unbuckles and swims in deep dub-house next to the drowsy techno dub of ‘The Energy’. Down below it gets more crooked with the abstract black mass of ‘Silent Protest Piece’, before pinging the elastic stepper ‘Steady Stream of Hatred for the Haters’, and cutting loose with ragged and cosmically kaotic vibes to close.
Fine showcase of new artists from East Africa - specifically Nairobi, Kenya - repped by soul and broken beats from Sichangi, Hiribae, Ukweli, Nu Fvnk, and Jinku
Currently receiving attention in the West from Boiler Room, RBMA, 1Xtra and Worldwide FM, the EA Wave artists elegantly bridge styles between R&B, house, broken beats and ambient electronica with a broad appeal to listeners everywhere.
Highlights include the gingerly shuffled swang and heavy, dusky air of Ukweli’s ‘Maralal’s Groove’, the uptempo 2-step prang of ‘Different Strokes’ by Hiribae, and the lilting lope of ‘Happening In The Grey Area’ on a breezy, rAMZI-esque tip from Nu Fvnk.
DJ Sotofett and Finnish electro duo Jesse entwine pineal visions of psychedelic electronic dance music on Twotinos, their collaborative debut for Sähkö’s sister label, Keys Of Life.
Like the breezy DJ Sotofett mix of Jesse’s Pohja for Wania which preceded this LP, Twotinos unfolds a freestyling mix of loose percussion and synth fondlings swept up in seductively wide, wandering sound designs. However, with much more room to manoeuvre in here, they take the magic carpet much farther out from the blissed cosmic dunes of Fear Mix (Fearmix) and the intoxicating disco nightflight, Orga Fit to the mazy byzantine dub trip(tych) of Autiomaa and a hard-to-resist Indo-Afro-disco-psychedelic beauty called Kuume (Last Gitar), with the cradling dub tranquility of Puhallus (One Mo, Pad Conga Vocoder Mix) at its conclusion, likely to leave many hankering for another chapter of this saga.
Manchester’s Lack tweaks out a cranky, tucked funk and deep blue atmospheres for Blank Mind
Best associated with the Cong Burn label, who previously issued his tracks on tape and 12”, Lack carves to Blank Mind with a subtly distinctive sound trading in clipped and low key brokebeat hustle on ‘Elementary Means’, while ‘Satin’ meshes out pendulous, pinched drums and rugged subs under a coating of sensuous, slippery pads, and ‘Overground’ kicks that sound father out into coiled, syncopated 2-step in a style shared by Herron and Joy O.
Lebanese saxophonist Christine Abdelnour brings an impressive, extended instrumental vocabulary to Joachim Nordwall’s cryptic electronics in this live recording made at Ystad Konstmuseum for Sweden’s Firework Edition Recordings
Falling deeply within the label’s taste for sounds that exist on the liminal edge of perception, ‘A Higher State of Body and Mind’ sees Abdelnour coaxing spittle-inflected small sounds and bestial whimpers from her brass tool while Nordwall colours the negative space in elemental, greyscale drones and sheets of coruscating electronic texture.
Their results are organic and drily, soberly expressive in a transfixing style of sonic dialogue that covers all tiers of the frequency spectrum. As the release’s title implies, ‘A Higher State of Body and Mind’ is attuned to extremes of penetrative highs and rich, sonorous low end, but neither dominate the other, rather they buoy and balance each other in their quest to elevate listeners to experience, feel and perceive the recording on its purely sensual, synaesthetic terms.
A fetid Yorkshire noise classic resurfaces on Hospital Productions like something that died down your drainpipes in the ‘90s.
Smell & Quim curled out ‘Cosmic Bondage’ back in 1995 and it’s remained a firm favourite of Prurient’s domineering label since then. Helmed by Milovan Srdenovic and Jack Shit, Smell & Quim dwell in the gutter of culture and their music is suitably obsessed with themes of porn, fetishism, alcoholism, necrophilia and basically anything that gets the Daily Fail clutching their handbags. They’re notorious for mutilating and burning a pig’s head live on stage, before being promptly ejected from the venue (run check the clips on YouTube!), and have an abject, black sense of humour that’s totally germane to UK noise and freakish noise offshoots such as Goregrind. They’re fucking off it, basically.
‘Cosmic Bondage’ is one of S&Q’s earliest and most revered outings. Newly clad in cover photo of the hirsute Barbie doll trussed with rope that came with the original tape released by Stinky Horse Fuck, the music is just awful in the best way, ranging from blitzed anal hardcore to gut wrench soreness and a final work of freeform squall starring Hakim Tubitz and Ibrahim Ibrahim on North African lung pipes.
Manchester catalyst John Powell-Jones fulminates thistly noise pierced with sky-clawing melodies in these bittersweet recordings made at an abandoned Topshop unit in Stockport.
The 2nd release on Jack Lever’s Open Tapes, ‘Open Circuit’ is perhaps the most grotesquely transfixing recording yet by JPJ, a multi-disciplinary artist whose work has previously blessed Sacred Tapes and also appeared on stacks of great record sleeves and posters. Following from the more modest rustles of his ‘’print-sound | sound-print’ tape with The Boats’ Craig Tattersall, this new JPJ side sees him return to familiar, scorched ground with a thick maelstrom of harmonic distortion and marbled by iridescent glints of melodic colour.
For 23 minutes he offers absolutely no respite from a blizzarding squall of white-hot distortion. While it may start up relatively sparse and dubbed-out, once it hits critical mass the piece sustains a stare-down intensity which, in the knowingly ironic nature of so much noise, actually results in hypnotic appeal for the listener - provided you’re of a certain, steely constitution. But once you’re in there it’s achingly lush. We advise placing the smoking incense in front of your speakers while the music’s playing, and become hypnotised by the smoke reacting to the sound.
An enigma this one, the debut release - a decade in the making - from an artist about which we know very little. It’s a mysterious, confessional beauty - a diaristic mix of half-cut songs and textured, bittersweet electronic collage that we urge you to check if you’re into anything from Klein to Burial, Tricky to Mica Levi, Young Echo to RZA’s Ghost Dog OST.
soaring wayne phoenix story the earth is a fascinatingly intimate yet elusive record that was made by a trained pianist creating a kind of all-encompassing audio diary that subsequently spent a decade filed away in a drawer. After marinading in the archive while trends passed by, the fleeting stop/start collage of honest humility and ephemeral thoughts resembles a time capsule of a former, or parallel, self; one the artist is only now at ease to come terms with. Vacillating moments of profound lucidity and penetrative pangs of anxiety, Wayne lays his soul bare in that most vulnerable way that can sometimes lead to the greatest art, and finally finds himself in solid, empathetic company among Halcyon Veil’s sensitively intuitive spirits such as Myslma, Mhysa and of course, Rabit.
One of those debuts that feels uncannily familiar on first encounter, the album dredges a remarkable and unshakeable depth of feeling and human insight via its mazy tile of vignettes, drifting from softly textured, deep blue witching hour logic to more grizzled, Tricky-esque realisations and glossolalic expressions that practically, poetically say as much as his legible lyrics. In between, pockets of fractured music box melody and sorely textured beats flower and weed in the gaps, sounding something like RZA’s ‘Ghost Dog’ OST adapted from dilapidated NYC rooftops to the same drizzly London streets inhabited by Burial, Klein and Mica Levi.
Maybe best of all though, there’s very little pretence to this record. It simply sounds like the artist is working out their feelings thru music in an exposed, genuine way - you get the sense that it really didn't matter to them if nobody else ever heard it. But here we are, and Wayne Phoenix’s frayed, dreamlike tapestry of self reflections are set to become part of our contemporary consciousness in 2020.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, controversial occultist and iconic founding member of COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, brings to a close a series of collaborations with Carl Abrahamsson which now spans three decades and which finds P-Orridge narrating over immaculate ambient tapestries, delivered at time-dilating pace.
Electing to use their own names, ’Loyalty Does Not End With Death’ is the final part of a spoken word trilogy initiated in 1990 with the Psychick TV & White Stains side ’At Stockholm’, and proceeded by their ‘Wordship’  album as Thee Majesty & Cotton Ferox, and is the first appearance the pair have had together on vinyl. It’s the sound of two cosmically-travelled minds crossing paths again after a long absence in which they’ve been able to chew over the bare essentials - love and magick - via vibrant poetry and beautifully charged forms of ambient music.
In nine parts they conjure a warmly meditative space, where Abrahamsson’s characteristic tones, cut-up electronics and gentle rhythms comfortably lay the bed for Genesis, who inhabits and enlivens the pristine scenes like an observant dark interpreter, translating the incomprehensible and revealing the divine through their psychedelic prism.
The spellbinding results were recorded in New York and Stockholm 2017/18 and could feasibly have occurred at any point between 1990 and now. They are blessed with a pacing, intuition and timelessness that pays testament to an enduring creative friendship, taking the form of writing, interviews, photographs and film for nearly 35 years, bringing to resolution an almost life-long arc.
Cosmic explorer Rafael Toral yields “the most quintessentially Ambient record i have ever done” with the free-floating structures of his 72-minute piece ‘Constellation In Still Time’
Unfurling a microcosmos of near-static, pointillist notes and chiming chords that glint like distant starlight, Toral’s latest is his most significant LP since ‘Moon Field’, also for Room40, issued in 2017 surrounding further volumes of his long-running ‘Space’ series. However, the Portuguese guitarist views his new album as the start of a distinct, new, 3rd phase of his sound that loops back into his earliest work by expanding on the concepts of his seminal debut, 1994’s ‘Sound Mind Sound Body’ in a way that he wasn’t able to execute back then, thanks to a new set of players who are capable of interpreting his slow-burn compositional ideas.
Working around the barely-there temporal structure of Toral’s fine, computer generated sine waves, the ensemble of Angelica V. Salvi (Harp), Joana Bagulho (Clavinet), Joana Gama (Piano), Luís Bittencourt (Vibraphone), and Riccardo Dillon Wanke (Rhodes Piano) pick out the piece’s curves and harmonic aura in a shimmering moire of precise yet languorous gestures that slowly shift pattern to create unpredictable, probing junctures that split the difference between the smoky, almost jazz-wise qualities of Elodie, the proto-ambient ‘Free Improvisation’ of New Phonic Art, or the contemplative nature of Morton Feldman works.
Sonic shapeshifter Jim O’Rourke yields 4 hours of engrossing, kaleidoscopic recordings from the Steamroom circa 2017-2018 in one of his most significant outings for years.
Bringing everyone up to date with O’Rourke’s actions out in Japan, where he’s been stationed for a good few years, ‘to magnetize money and catch a roving eye’ operates under a title as curiously evocative as the music within. Swirling a palette of processed instrumentation with delicate layers of electronics and ambiguous field recordings, he conjures four works each lasting up to and over an hour that may possibly leave listeners feeling as though they’ve just undergone experimental therapy.
Working around the sort of spectral electro-acoustic frameworks found on his ‘Old News’ volumes, it’s possible to hear traces of all the genres Jim has visited over the years, from noise and rock to free improv and folk, all resonating within the music’s iridescent matrices. The four labyrinthine tracts move almost imperceptibly slowly, evolving with an organic electronic logic that almost defies the fact a human was involved in its de/compositional flux.
But it’s O'Rourke's poetic, tactile grasp of aural alchemy that really sets this 4CD in realms comparable with everything from Luc Ferrari’s surreal, serendipitous narratives, to the other-dimensional magic of Roland Kayn’s cybernetics and the liminal edges of Japanese environmental music, albeit imagined for non-terrestrial climates. Whatever angle these four pieces are approached from, everyone will surely draw on one of their myriad, fluctuating elements in slow moving saccades of the ear until a bigger picture emerges, like some Google deep dream landscape or mushie-induced revelation. Essentially it’s all the work of a modern mystic or shaman, no less.
Laurel Halo lands on Latency with a cinematic suite featuring Oliver Coates on cello and drums by Eli Keszler.
Making her first move since 2017’s remarkable ‘Dust’ album, Laurel takes inspiration from her score work for Metahaven and Ursula Le Guin’s translation of the ‘Tao Te Ching’ in pursuit of a quieter, more tactile and elusive sound, moving deeper into a sort of twilight avant jazz realm that calls to mind the recently uncovered Luc Ferrari salvo on Alga Marghen as much as flashes of Conlon Nancarrow and the diaphanous swirl of Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas.
It's immediately obvious that this is a special release in Laurel’s catalogue. Two 10 minute works bookend the release; the sublime title track with its oneiric mesh of woodwind, early electronic music gestures, and almost funeral organ; and at the opposite end, a stunning symphonic piece that unmistakably recalls Gas, but also unlocks that sound’s potential from the grid thanks to Keszler’s free meter and an embrace of kaotic harmony deeply rooted in Derrick May and Carl Craig’s Detroit classics.
But that’s not to discount the bits in between; they’re also brilliant. From her pairing of Keszler’s inimitable snare rushes with dark blue keys and smudged, plasmic electronics in ‘Mercury’, to something like Mark Fell commanding an underwater gamelan orchestra in ‘Quietude’, and the rapid flux of keys in ‘The Sick Mind’, this one has us rapt from every angle.
Utterly absorbing new tape from Berlin’s Perila (aka artist, DJ, and radio.syg.ma co-founder Sasha Zakharenko) for LA’s Motion Ward, following the psychosexual intimacy of her exceptional 2019 debut for sferic and a cassette with TTT.
Lodging alongside uon and Brown Irvin on the Cali imprint, ‘Rust 22’ imparts its message by atmospheric inference rather than the more literal grip evoked by Nat Marcus and Inger Wold Lund’s vocals in Perila’s previous side, ‘Irer Dent’, which was surely among the most memorable of 2019. Save for some extra subtle, glossolalic murmurs, the session focusses on the Berlin-based Russian artist’s gift for conjuring a sense of ambient modernism that’s clearly steeped in classic vibes, yet doesn’t feel beholden to them, and neatly identifies her music amid a growing and boundary-shifting new field of atmospheric music operators.
The tape presents a 21 minute blissed smudge backed with a trio of studio cuts that share a feel a similar feel for sylvan synth strokes and hallucinogenic depth perception. That long cut is a reel beauty, conducting a subliminal transition from blue, subaquatic tones to shimmering chimes and a siltier sort of submariner’s melancholy, before concluding with an optimistic flourish in ‘Ripple22’. Her other three cuts, meanwhile, seep out of the edges to occupy a fuller soundfield, beautifully massaging tranquil new age influences with a more uncertain, underlying, textural anxiety in ‘Transient’, while ‘Distant’ sounds as though she’s turned location recordings of a metalworks into soft focus lushness, and the bass rhythms of ‘Perpetual’ move ever forward with a physics-defying dreaminess that’s hard to describe but a total pleasure to undergo.
We hardly need to emphasise it but this one’s a doozy.
The label that gave us Space Afrika’s excellent 'Somewhere Decent To Live’ album last year returns with this quietly shocking solo debut by Berlin-based Russian, Alexandra Zakharenko aka Perila, who creates a sensual and highly unusual sonic tapestry where ASMR bleeds into sonic erotica in nuanced and intoxicating ambient dimensions. Highly recommended if yr into Félicia Atkinson, Huerco S, Leslie Winer...
Born in St. Petersburg and based in Berlin, Alexandra Zakharenko aka Perila cut her teeth as in-house designer and programmer at the recently defunct Berlin Community Radio (BCR) before co-founding the Russian online station radio.syg.ma, as well as WET (Weird Erotic Tension), an online community exploring ideas of sonic sexuality in podcasts mixing spoken word, poetry, ASMR and field recordings. ‘Irer Dent’ stems directly from two WET podcasts, revolving around readings of an erotic novel and a collection of poems by Nat Marcus and Inger Wold Lund, each set to absorbingly hypnagogic backdrops, and both accompanied by quietly seductive, original instrumental works.
In five parts the album traces a filigree line between reality and fantasy in a more literal way than the label’s previously all-instrumental releases. On ‘Nat’s Poems’ the voice of Nat Marcus regales a poetic account of Berlin nightlife woven with classic house lyrics from Rosie Gaines and Mr. White over 12 minutes of tumescent subbass and phosphorescing pads. Where sensuality is implied on that piece, it’s quietly explicit in the LP’s other vocal piece ‘Sweat’, which revolves around Inger Wold Lund recounting a dream about suppressed sexual desire in a hushed and unaffected manner amid a shimmering forcefield of spectral energy and meridian birdsong. Both pieces are complemented by extra subtle originals, including the barely-there, pink/purple hues of ‘Mouth Full of Tahini’ and the warm endorphin flush of ‘Message From Another Table.’
Slipping very sweetly into sferic’s liminal ambient space alongside Space Afrika, Echium and Jake Muir, ‘Irer Dent’ lends a distinct new shade of modern, adult, atmospheric emotion to the exploratory, Manchester-based label, answering a need for sincerity and intimacy in overwhelming times.
Deeply unsettling but unmissable debut of “feral gore feminist ASMR” from France’s Ronce, an experimental music project based on the female form and all the traumas that are tied to it, and released by the boundary-probing DAWN label - a big tip to fans of Félicia Atkinson, Perila, Prurient.
‘Lolita / Acteon’ contains a subversive feminist inversion of ASMR and contemporary porn themes backed with a bestial cut of terrorizing terriers. It’s definitely not for the easily shook, but for those interested, the record’s standout A-side supplies a disturbing take on the male gaze that ranks among the creepiest and most arresting sides we’ve heard in years.
Imagine Félicia Atkinson poetically taking cues from the “casting video” subgenera of pornography and you’re in disquieting proximity to the A-side’s ‘Lolita’. Smartly flipping the ASMR genre on its face, Ronce enacts the role of a 3rd party viewer sleazily commentating on the unfolding scenes, adapting the close-miked recording techniques of ASMR to take the style’s low-key erotic fetishisation somewhere far more uncomfortable. Touched with clammy, spatialized electronics also recalling Manu Holterbach’s EHŒCO or “quieter” Prurient outings, the results are singularly contemporary and an undoubtedly illicit-feeling, squirming listen that highlights “the female form and all the traumas that are tied to it” and gives voice not just to the artist but a “collective scream of feminism”.
Factor in a B-side of exquisitely sound-sensitive, high frequency electronics, bombed out BM tropes and growling ankle biters (or as Ronce describes it - "a translation of constant surveillance, self disgust, rage, desire (or lack of)..." and you’ve undoubtedly got a definitive, heavily chthonic record to start your 2020.
Highly recommended (but approach with caution).
You’d be forgiven for missing this hyper-limited release last year (only 100 copies were made) - but thankfully we now have an exclusive clear vinyl edition, pressed up in a run of 250 copies as part of our ongoing celebration of the best of 2018.
Without a doubt one of the most daring artists out there right now, Klein makes music acutely symptomatic of its era. Naturally, recklessly combining formerly mutually exclusive styles such as gospel and noise, or ambient collage and R&B, she somehow keeps a distinct aesthetic amid these dense expressions of modernity, cannily reflecting the normalisation of intensifying socio-economic anxieties and the inexorable drive of urban life within her navigations of chaotic sonic environments.
Forging sounds and styles as wild as anything from Bob Ostertag’s ‘DJ Of The Month’, or with the decentred intensity of Aaron Dilloway, Klein’s music is better distinguished by the way she effortlessly bridges dimensions and conjures whole new sensations for the listener to deal with. I mean, if you’re on this site, you’re probably familiar with both Hype Williams and Prurient, but like us, you’d probably struggle to think of another artist who sounds like both of them at the same time, and in that sense Klein’s music is neologistic, syncretic and blessed with an intuitive physics in a way that language and musical perception is only catching up with.
Yet it’s best received and deciphered with a red 3rd eye and porous 6th sense, cos any attempt to limn it in concrete, literal terms will never fully grasp its emotive chicanery and might dull its aura of outright, alien oddness.
Moon Wiring Club scries dead strong, early Autechre-style hardcore breaks thru the prism of a Playstation on his perennial vinyl volley.
Doubling down on the breakbeat chops of summer 2019’s ace ‘Ghastly Garden Centres’ CD, the inimitable artist/medium returns from his Pennine portal with a ritualistic suite of eldritch energies that sound like a rave in a haunted manor house. The tracklist is perhaps unusually short this time, but that’s because the tracks are longer than we’ve come to expect, and likewise more dynamic and filled with nods to classic, darkside rave music characterised in the album’s titular reference to Autechre’s 1991 debut, ‘Cavity Job’.
In his own words, ‘Cavity Slabs’ is MWC’s pointed effort to “coax ancient voices from the landscape”. That landscape is littered with leylines that lead to raves tucked away in valleys and moor tops, full of gurning ghosts of yore kitted in Edwardian Goretex and carving plasmic contrails under moonlight.
‘Enchanter Taking Shape’ kicks off with proper 1901-into-1991 vibes with eerie strings perfusing swaggering, sped-up hip hop breaks, leading into what sounds like BoC on a bad one with ‘Ritual Number 19’ and cackling spectres gassed on Nox in ‘Magpie Takes Enchanter’s Hat’. The vintage acid really starts to take a hold with the plasmic roil of ‘Cromlech Technology’, to provide glimpses of dawning lushness with ‘Hidden Sea Houses’ and the sexy writhe of ‘Fog Shrouded Days’, and the rushing flex of ‘Re-Living 1901’ feels like stumbling across a reenactment society playing out a ravenous ritual in some gooch of the Goyt.
It’s one of MWC’s most devilish episodes in his 13 years of audness, no doubt.
Advanced computer music, chronicling Ben Vida’s titular installation piece and the start of a new long-form project entitled Reducing the Tempo to Zero. RIYL Florian Hecker, Aphex Twin, Keith Fullerton Whitman
Archetypal sonic explorer Ben Vida follows up standout albums for PAN and Jefre-Cantu Ledesma's Root Strata label with a spellbinding window into his latest work with a unique palette of electronic tones and structures for his second full-length with Shelter Press.
Coming up to nearly ten years since his serenely melodic, pop-wise Bird Show outings on Kranky, the two pieces of Damaged Particulates and Reducing the Tempo to Zero are testament to Vida’s endlessly searching spirit, connecting his earliest, drone-based work with Town and Country in the late ‘90s, and the the conceptually related text-to-score techniques used in Slipping Control (2014), via the poetic inquisitions of Esstends-Esstends-Esstends for PAN and his current practice.
Following widespread installations of Damaged Particulates - an ongoing study for synthesiser commissioned by Unsound Festival and subsequently shown in New York, Krakow, Berlin, Bologna and Montreal - over the past four years, this final iteration is a playfully discomfiting, pervasive demo of psychoacoustic precision and otherworldly electronics.
Consumed on headphones (recommended), it’s an experience akin to being valeted by a thorough swarm of cartoonish, bird-like nanobots, who proceed to descale and spruce up your bonce whilst chattering and singing in non-verbal chronics like some frenzied, hyperactive workforce. There’s no doubt he’s having a laugh with some of these sounds, but we’ve always found that Vida’s best work, and much of the best electronic composition in general for that matter, exists in the fine space between humour and rigorous seriousness.
That said, the B-side is a far more sober introduction to his latest, ongoing concern. Revealing the first dispatch from a far longer work totalling five hours, Reducing the Tempo to Zero grows with an inorganic sentience feeling out space between the tangiest timbres of AFX’s Selected Ambient Works and a glacial microtonal practice that sounds like a Rashad Becker piece smeared into a hazy thizz, before descending into Eliane Radigue-like microtonal fluctuation, and we don’t use that comparison lightly.
Heart-grabbing gospel rarities from Midwest USA during the period circa funk, soul and disco, mostly issued on private pressings and little heard outside the region. For anyone with a thing for Northern Soul, the roots of house and techno in Chicago and Detroit, or straight-up god-fearing folk need give it a whirl
“This collection of rare black gospel from the Midwest—featuring church congregations, basement recordings sessions, family bands and children’s choirs—is drawn together by two threads. The first—hope—which holds fast and unchanging, even in the most trying of circumstances. The second—circumstance—the way these recordings fell into the hands of producer, Ramona Stout, in Chicago at the dawn of the Obama era, when she had just about lost hope in her American Dream.
Over the course of five years (2006-2011) of vinyl hustling in Chicago’s South and West Sides, these 45s came into Ramona’s hands, mixed up in milk-crates stacked with Northern Soul, water-damaged jazz and Hall and Oates LPs. After much travel and time, Ramona has articulated the spirit that drove this music forward. In this collection, she writes of this music and its relationship to the struggling communities where the records were found.
Sourced from exceedingly rare 45s—many of which were vanity pressings of less than 100 copies—all but one of the tracks found on this collection appear for the first time since their original release. Remastered by Grammy-winning producer Christopher King, these recordings have been resurrected for a new generation of listeners. With art direction by Grammy-winning graphic designer Susan Archie, this collection is a tangible, immersive experience in the struggles—the victories, the failures and the lingering hope—that defined Chicago in the post-Civil Rights era.
No Other Love is a singular, impressionistic journey into music that expresses faith, despair and exuberance. It is also a profound exploration of the very meaning of hope.”
A serious bevy of stomping, outsider blues by one-man band and “last ole minstrel man” Abner Jay, including an early version of his anthem ‘I’m So Depressed’ on vinyl for first time
Collected by the ever-reliable Mississippi Records, ‘Man Walked On The Moon’ takes its title from Abner’s paean to the Moon (this should have been on the Voyager Golden Record) and also includes the aforementioned anthem ‘I’m So Depressed’, which really, really gives some gravity and relativity in the modern age - especially with the chuckles at the end! - while the B-side showcases the remarkable range of Abner’s voice in some of his final recordings, in the switch from fluttering upper registers to his signature deep lows in ‘I Cried’, to the hollering urgency and playfulness of ‘My Middle Name Is The Blues’, and the devastating hush of ‘Cocaine Blues’, all accompanied on a banjo that dates back to 1748, harmonica, and drums played by his feet.
All tracks are fully licensed from Brandie Jay, Abner’s daughter, and packaged with loving text tribute by Jack Teague. An unmissable introduction to one of the Blues greatest and legendary players!
John Coltrane’s favourite vocalist, Andy Bey has us by a thread in this remastered, first time vinyl edition of his sultry, velveteen ‘Tuesdays In Chinatown’ suite...
“Recorded in 2000 with essentially the same team as “Shades of Bey” and “River Man” and a similar variety of tunes and textures. It includes covers of two Milton Nascimento classics (“Bridges” and “Saidas e Bandeiras”), a cover of “Fragile” (by Sting) and standards such as “I’ll Remember April”, “Just Friends” (with strings), “Invitation" and “Little Girl Blue”, as well as the sultry original “Tuesdays In Chinatown”. This is Andy Bey in fine form, and includes performances by Ron Carter, Geri Allen, Mino Cinelu and Steve Turre. First time on vinyl.”
Building on the fierce reputation of her early albums, ‘Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes’ is the brutally transfixing 4th LP by force of nature, Moor Mother, featuring contributions from Justin Broadrick (Godflesh, Zonal), King Britt, Saul Williams, Giant Swan, and Bookworms...
Delivered with a booming, stentorian confidence, Moor Mother holds the listener’s gaze with frightening conviction of purpose, underlined by the ratchet strength of her Afro-punk-techno-blues-noise backdrops. Alongside guest input from poet/rapper Saul Williams and her fellow Philly native, MC Reef The Lost Cauze, Moor Mother holds darkness to light in a way that edifies and complicates the magick of her art.
In its detailed arrangements and penetrative focus, ‘ Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes’ resembles an immersive film sans the visuals, but the range of real and synthetic textures and timbres, coupled with Moor Mother’s central narration bring the music and her ideas to life in a way that visual languages may not fully be able to articulate so fully, while also leaving room for the listener to fill in their own gaps. She’s lost none of the rage that informed her first three albums, but here it feels more tempered and pointed than ever.
From the introductory portal/mental compression chamber of ancient sounding vocals, diaphanous synths and tightening, dissonant strings in ‘Repeater’, the album erupts across the first half, only to slow and crystallize into boulders and ash clouds. Warning flares come early with the bristling noise and wailing vocals of ‘Don’t Die’, and surges into gear with the exceptional Jk Flesh-like slam of ‘After Images’, the urgency of ‘Master’s Clock’ and the sooty rock and rolige of ‘Black Flight’ featuring arresting verse by Saul Williams. From here it runs slower, inward, pulled toward the black hole of ‘The Myth Holds Weight’ and the vice-like squeeze of ‘Sonic Black Holes’, resting the pace for her glaring vocals in ’Shadowgrams’ and the heaving slug of ‘Private Silence’, again recalling JK Flesh productions and making room for Reef the Lost Cauze, and a spirited resolution or recycling of they senses in ‘Passing Of Time.’
As we sit here writing in Manchester, which built its name as Cottonopolis, and thousands of miles from the US, there’s lots of food for thought when Moor Mother talks about her ancestors working cotton fields. We all share a history, but we only acknowledge a fraction of it. The visceral context and nature of Moor Mother’s music is vital in prizing opening ears and minds to history and the way it informs modernity.
Where to begin with this one. Michael O’Shea’s sole, breathtaking album ranks among our favourite of all time - produced by Wire’s Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis at the Dome studio in 1982, it’s an utterly singular work of magick, meshing myriad, worldly modes into music that rarely fails to reduce us to tears. First brought to our attention by Blackest Ever Black at the start of this decade, we’ve developed an obsessive fascination with its sublime, rapid dervishes and warbling rhythmelodies to the extent that we spent a good couple of years trying to find out how to license it for reissue. Luckily for us, in 2019, All City finally put us out of our misery and gave us this indispensable new edition - the first time the material has been available on vinyl since 1982 and a total ear-opener to a whole new generation of listeners. It’s one of those rare records that anyone we’ve played it to - from diehard music collectors and obscurists to those with no interest in the weird recesses of the music world we often inhabit - demanded to know what it was and where they could buy it. From the moment it was announced - we knew it would be our reissue of the year - if not the decade - and to celebrate we have a special clear vinyl edition with an alternate cover colourway and a bundled download for instant world-enrichment, to those of you yet to get acquainted with its endless wonders.
A busker among other trades, O’Shea was an itinerant soul who, after a childhood and formative years spent between Northern Ireland and Kerry in the south of the country, and extensive travel between Europe, Turkey and Bangladesh, created his own instrument - an electrified dulcimer known as Mó Cará (Irish for ‘My Friend’) - which he performed on at Ronnie Scott’s, before later playing on bills with everyone from Ravi Shankar to Don Cherry, and also recording with The The’s Matt and Tom Johnson.
Aside from his two contributions to the Stano album, ‘Content To Dine In I Dine Weathercraft’ (also recently reissued by Dublin’s Allchival), O’Shea’s first and only album is the main point of reference for this unique artist. Like some eccentric expression of ancient Indo-European voices channelled thru a Celtic body, Michael O’Shea’s improvised acousto-electric music intuitively distills a world of styles into singularly hypnotic works. Using his self-built instrument; a hybrid of a zelochord and a sitar, made on a wooden door salvaged in Munich, and with the crucial addition of electric pick-ups and the ‘Black Hole Space Box’, O’Shea would absorb sounds from his travels like a sponge, and relay them back thru the instrument with effortlessly freeform and achingly lush results as elaborate as a Celtic knot or elegant as Sanskrit text.
The mercurial flow of syncretised styles in 15 minute opener ‘No Journey’s End’ catches your breath and doesn’t give it back, leaving us utterly light-headed and feeling something akin to religious experience, before his ’Kerry’ vignette most beautifully limns the epic coastline he hails from. The plasmic swirl and phasing of ‘Guitar No. 1’ is perhaps the one piece that time dates the LP to the post-punk era, even if it could have come from ancient Mesopotamia, while the album and artist’s underlying metaphysics bleed thru most hauntingly in the timbral shadowplay of ‘Voices’, and the rapidly tremulous, animist voodoo of ‘Anfa Dásachtach’.
Noted in his lifetime, not least by himself as; “…joker, transvestite, inventor, psychonaut, actor, catalyst, community worker, musician, traveller, instrument maker,” Michael O’Shea’s life was, by all accounts, every bit as colourful as his music, which only makes his untimely death in 1991 all that more tragic, as we’d practically give an arm to hear what he could have made in the early techno era, as he was purportedly getting heavy into London’s rave scene before he was taken.
Honestly no other record has cast such a strong spell over us in recent memory - to the extent of sending us on wild goose chases on the wrong peninsula in Kerry - so please pardon the gush ‘cos we can’t help but share love for this life-affirming disc and Michael O’Shea’s beautifully transcendent music.
Ruffhouse’s Karim Maas does worm-charming techno and abstract D’n’B night terrors on his killer 2nd 12” following the crooked trip hop of his recent collab with Pessimist.
Emerging as a new overlord of UK bass undercurrents with his ‘Old World Disorder’ EP in 2018, Karim Maas has come to represent a very fine strain of negative energy carried over from late ‘90s D&B, techno and dark ambient noise.
Under a title that nods to Panos Cosmatos’ modern sci-fi classic as much as his noirish club lust, the ‘Blakk Rainbow’ EP finds Karim edging ever closer to a consolidation of the crucial cinematic and dancefloor aspects of his style. The thousand yard stare drones and gut-rumble rolige of ‘Beyond The Blakk Rainbow’ perfectly resonates feel of the eponymous 2010 film, while ‘Trama Doll’ starts out sounding like a Source Direct intro but surpasses any bruk out urges in its slithering, viscous flow and mist of seething noise. ‘Saturn Return’ follows with a steeply enigmatic mix of Indian classical vocal perfusing pendulous bass and drums that resemble a desiccated Regis production, and ‘Know Your Enemy’ again highlights his keen sound design skills with a frighteningly immersive intro that gives way to a shuddering techno undertow that splits the difference between CUB and Fishermen.
’Trippin’ Musik’ is Nurse With Wound’s most significant new dose in a while, collecting 3 epic discs of steeply psychedelic sonics that may well alter your breathing and heart rates and mental state. No tracklisting provided, play however tf you like.
Following from the reissue of NWW’s ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ boxset, ‘Trippin’ Musik’ relays the most recent findings from Steven Stapleton and co’s ongoing psychedelic research / surrealist reconnaissance / occult practice in electro-acoustic and avant-garde spheres. As the title suggests, it’s one for the journey, taking up whole sides of vinyl with intensely and intently focussed recordings that often take over 20 minutes to say their psychedelic piece in a cryptic language of abstraction.
Whether you take drugs to listen to this music or not, the effect is likely to live up to the title, but we’re pretty certain it will be stronger with than without. One disc features a whole side of what sounds like a folk song fractalised and slowed down by Carl Stone, while another also sees them strung out in desert guitar scenes sort of like a digitized interpolation of Earth jamming with Soisong, and the side of rapidly panned gasps is practically guaranteed to send your head into a tailspin given the right conditions, before it all shores up in a deeply lysergic scene of strolling, head-squashing, liminal/laminal electronic timbres that feel like classic kosmische slowed down and exhaled by an AI.
Trust the efficacy of ’Trippin’ Musik’ for psychoactive potential is right up there with the most potent sonic substance. Approach with spare time and a well stocked freezer for best results.