Next up on TraTraTrax is a tidy set of eroticised 'n ecstatic dancefloor winders from Colombian-Swiss artist Pa' Bailar, who brings in an assist from his friend Parco Palaz, a psychedelic, half-time guaracha rework from Laksa and another from Perko, who smokes out his best Rhythm & Sound tribute.
If you've been eyeing the dancefloor closely there's no way you'll have missed out on Nyksan, DJ Lomalinda and Verraco's TraTraTrax output. The label shot into the spotlight with Nick Léon's raptor house breakout 'Xtasis' last year, but there's way more to find if you dig a little deeper. Luca Durán's been carving out a niche for the last few years with a slew of taut, hybrid club bangers and cheeky edits, but this latest EP might be his most intense yet. We'd urge you to head straight for 'Oh Oh', a collaboration with Palaz that'll already be familiar to dancers, mixing ecstatic prog house synths with dissociated vocal chops and a hard-swung pulse that's so thrusting it should come with an advisory sticker.
Lead track 'Pa' Bailar' follows roughly the same trajectory, occasionally falling apart into its consistent bits, but 'Ojos Cerrados' paints outside of the lines, adding trappy kicks and subverting its trance-pilled risers with slanted raps. It's the latter track that provides the fuel for Laksa and Perko's reworks. Perko slows it down to a sultry shiver, pulling a significant gulp of juice from Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald in the process, and Laksa follows his heady recent run with a hypnotic stumble of tipsy guaracha knocks and blotter-friendly synthwork. Very strong, beginning to end - don't miss.
Night School boss Michael Kasparis embraces divinity and ugliness on 'Prisoners of Love and Hate', tracking through pop history with a brace of mutant bangers that reference AFX, Whigfield, Erasure, Bruce Springsteen and Thin Lizzy. Mad.
Whether you like 'Prisoners of Love and Hate' or not, it's hard to deny its ambition. Kasparis is a lover of energetic pop music in all its forms, and he takes a trash-bag of Now That's What I Call Music classics here, cross breeding them into punky, tongue-in-cheek mutants. There's the Whigfield-referencing, hard dance-flecked EBM opener 'Saturday Night, Still Breathing', 'Rely On Me', that Kasparis explains is '80s Mute synth pop, or Erasure fronted by Bruce Springsteen, and the wiggly, AFX-inspired 'Spit Pit', and that's just the first three tracks.
After a brief diversion with the beachy, electro-samba inspired 'Nothing But Perfect', 'Summer of '03' provides the album's most chaotic mix, bending pop trance into donk - honestly though, without the vocal it'd be a perfectly respectable donk track. Kasparis references Shalamar's 'I Can Make You Feel Good' on 'Feel Good (You Can Make Me)', closing an eccentric run with rattly breaks and tinny synths. At least he's having fun.
Occupying a space adjacent to early Thomas Köner, Deathprod and Roland Kayn, this cult 1996 album of lightless dark ambient shows its elusive face on a first time vinyl pressing, augmented by three offcuts from the same sessions, and issued via Cairo’s exceptional Nashazphone label.
Amon is the alias of Andrea Marutti, practitioner of elemental ambient and tape music since the early 1990s. Among his decades of work, his self-titled 1996 album, here retitled as ‘Akh’, stands out for his almost mystical grasp of reverberant acoustics that hark back to prehistoric caves and spaces. Amon really gets inside his thing with literal, non musical inspiration from the mysteries and rites of ancient Egypt, factored by the esoteric writings of Peter Kolosimo and a movement of so-called “pseudo-archaeology” that guides and elevates his work in the imagination. It’s frankly terrifying gear, tempered by a slow-burning, introspective quality that invites the listener to succumb to its meditative formations.
Best consumed in the depths of night, the album takes on a vividly transportive nature. Over 90 minutes, it arcs from the Thomas Köner-esque tonalities of Regula #1’, to the subharmonic shadows of ‘Hiram Roi’, via the glowering ‘Darkside Return’ and into the chasmic phasing of ‘Wasted’. There's little in the way of light creeping through, but Marutti's occasional use of harmony is startling 'Uhura Photons' dense and suffocating noise eventually splits into a near choral synthscape, and on 'Mopula' you can just about pick up on the irregular harmony of each central note. On ‘She Touched The Stone’, we end with beautiful, chiming pads and bells echoing from deep below, an experience not unlike hearing Bohren and Der Club of Gore’s billowing melodies seep through a dense cloud of smoke.
The first vinyl release from acclaimed Canadian composer Cassandra Miller, 'Traveller Song / Thanksong' is rooted in her well-established transcription process, turning a Sicilian folk song and a Beethoven composition into intimate, hierarchy-free celebrations of the human voice. Quite remarkable.
Based in London, Miller is best known for her creative examination of the transcription process, where she takes established themes and works with them until they're almost unrecognizable, buoyed by the joy of human error. 'Traveller Song' is based on a song from an anonymous Sicilian cart driver that was recorded in the 1950s by Alan Lomax and Diego Carpitella. Miller, who's not a trained singer, attempts to sing along, layering her wavering tones and following them with piano. It's an absurd technique on the surface, but reveals the humanity at the center of the original composition. Far from a cover, it's a way of interpreting the soul of the piece and extracting its inner beauty; when the composition swells, with additional voices, strings, clarinet and guitar, it staggers gracefully into nervous grandeur. Miller doesn't miss an opportunity to tug at the folk roots either, meeting her vocals with accordion in the final third.
'Thanksong' is a loftier proposal, based on the third movement of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 15 in A minor (Op. 132). Miller sang along to each individual part in the composition, then handed the "aural score" to her collaborators, Montreal's Quatuor Bozzini, who were instructed to play back the material in headphones and interpret it by ear. Soprano Juliet Fraser completes the picture, singing slowly and quietly over the resulting piece.Hearing the strings crack and falter alongside voices recorded to pick up every breath and motion, Miller completely transcends her subject matter. We're reminded of Gavin Bryars' 'Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet', and that should tell you everything you need to know about the supremely special nature of this work.
MoM’s 1994 (that's pre-Vulvaland!) Düsseldorf sound walk ‘Bilk’ surfaces for the first time on the occasion of the duo’s 30th anniversary, freshly inflected with new edits and augmentations for, effectively, a new release.
During their 30 year tenure, MoM have become recognised among the finest mutators and torch bearers of a krautrock pulse that originated in the ’60s and was refined during the ‘70s. They picked up the thread in the early ‘90s, running adjacent and against-the-grain of Teutonic techno forms with a playful daftness that has also identified their work since the start. ‘Bilk’ finds the nascent pairing of Andi Toma & Jan St. Werner in classic form toeing the line of ludicrous and hypnotic with sounds recorded in their studio’s Düsseldorf neighbourhood and arranged into a continuous piece for broadcast by Helsinki radio.
Midi-controlled synths, samplers, analogue effects, tape delays, effect pedals, guitars and a jew’s harp are harnessed to a strident yet swaying and heady collage that paved the way for their acclaimed debut album ‘Viulvaxand’ in the following months of 1994. Divided in eight for this release, the work proceeds from the sound of workmen’s jackhammer and churning 303 to what sounds like pounding concrète played by Can, to springheeled steppers ambient techno, dub-swirled acid electronica, hyaline minimalism, and wigged-out pulses that give way to a beat-less ethereal with a sun-dazed quality.
Deaf Center co-founder and key Scandi ambient artist Erik Skodvin dims the lights on his quietest and arguably strongest solo album in years - RIYL early The Caretaker, Deathprod, Kreng, Korea Undok Group
Erik K Skodvin’s music has always been defined by its play of light/dark, yet the negative space has rarely consumed his music as much as in ‘Nothing left but silence’. Following from his ‘Schächten’ (2022) LP and this year’s ‘Devolving Trust’ under the cloak of Svarte Greiner, he really amplifies the background noise and allows only the finest glimpses of gently reverberating guitar to light the way. Its a logical extension of his musick’s nuance, prising a portal to the peripheries where flickering shadows and apparitions of the subconscious lurk.
“'Nothing left but silence' is Erik K Skodvin’s third solo album for Sonic Pieces and his most quiet to date. Subtitled as "Musical improvisations and quiet collages from the subconscious”, Skodvin reduces his instruments to guitar, reverb and amp - and creates a skeleton of eight hypnotic ragas that meanders in an eternal loop between ephemeral and singular.
Only on the horizon it’s possible to sense that Skodvin has also touched the neoclassical terrain in earlier productions - on Nothing left but silence, however, he acts as a twilight player who is not afraid of the coldness of endless space and who knows how to subjugate the shadowiness of the visible world. Carried by the noise of the amp and the occasional click of the effects pedals, a monolithic, reduced blues emerges, whose mediumistic quality nevertheless reveals that Skodvin's music always comes from the body - and as such is always searching for space. A space that - in this case - blends the vastness of the Norwegian steppe with the brittleness of American wasteland (as if Deathprod and Loren Connors were one and the same person), creating a persistent state between deceleration and absence of presence - that leads Skodvin ever closer to the inner essence of sound.
Initially recorded at Saal 3, Funkhaus, Berlin by Nils Frahm in 2015, the album has itself been subjected to silence as a forgotten relic, re-found and now released in a time where it might connect more with the contemporary state of mind. Welcome to the entrance to the periphery.”
Before they evolved into cult Belgian prog outfit COS, Daniel Schell's band was a bizarre jazz fusion outfit known as Classroom. Finders Keepers has exhumed this obscenely rare material and released it on vinyl for the first time.
Guitarist/flautist Schnell was something of a visionary. He established Classroom in the late '60s, but good luck finding the material. Better known was his run as COS, a jazzy prog act that emerged from the ashes of Classroom and developed the Canterbury sound of acts like Soft Machine and Caravan. When they recorded this self-titled album they were still making jerky Euro jazz, with glittery instrumentation and impressive vocals from Schnell's wife Pascale Son. This ain't an easy ride by any means, but it's another oddity that deserves to be heard - thanks to Finders Keepers yet again for doing the heavy lifting.
Following a killer comp of early hardcore jungle roots and branches with Grooverider, Fabio flicks the needle forward to that sound’s sexier sibling of Speed-era liquid D&B via cuts by Marcus Intalex & S.T. Files, High Contrast, Chase & Status, Alix Perez ++
“After the Jungle scene declined and underwent a distinct shift in sound and style, Fabio took the initiative to establish London's first dedicated soulful deep Drum and Bass night, known as Speed. Week after week, Fabio shared the decks with LTJ Bukem, and their skillful sets eventually garnered immense popularity, drawing in not only junglists but also celebrities, club kids, record label A&R representatives, and the who's who of the West End at that time. When the curtain fell on Speed Fabio's legacy continued to flourish with the inception of his legendary Swerve weekly residency at The Velvet Rooms, which later relocated to the iconic club, The End. The influence of Swerve was profound, serving as a catalyst for the creation of influential labels like Hospital Records, Tony Coleman (also known as London Elektricity) became a regular attendee, further contributing to the scene's growth and innovation.
The term 'Liquid', was born out of Fabio's deep admiration and support for his protégé, the talented Northern Irish producer and DJ, Dominick Martin, famously known as Calibre. This inspiration led to the creation of his acclaimed 14-year radio show on BBC Radio 1, 'The Liquid Funk Show', which drew from Calibre's masterful productions that Fabio likened to "liquid gold" for the ears. Through this show, Fabio played a crucial role in breaking numerous iconic records, and artists such as Chase & Status, High Contrast, and many many more.
Now, 'Generation Liquid' takes the baton from the legacy of Speed, Swerve, and 'The Liquid Funk show', capturing the essence of the era and the soulful, deeper music that Fabio has championed throughout his illustrious career. This meticulously curated collection celebrates records that embody the spirit of soulful D&B, making it a must-have for anyone who has followed Fabio's musical journey since the vibrant days of the 1990s up until now.
The compilation is a treasure trove, featuring contemporary classics, late-night rollers, iconic remixes, and timeless Fabio originals. The roster of producers on 'Generation Liquid' is stellar, boasting names like Calibre, Alix Perez, High Contrast, MJ Cole, Chase & Status, and many others. It is an essential snapshot of soulful D&B at its peak, handpicked and presented by the genre’s Godfather.”
Keplar plunder Vladislav Delay’s archival riches again with an expanded and remastered reissue of his year 2000 debut, proper, featuring all tracks in their entirety on vinyl for the first time.
Sasu Ripatti’s debut/2nd album and a classic of Mille Plateaux’s reign over over minimal, glitchy electronics, ‘Entain’ followed his first LP ‘Ele’ (1999) with a similarly quiet tactility, sharing some of its material while locating more devil in the details of its electro-acoustic dub fissures. By this point, Vladislav Delay already stood out from the crowd for his ‘Multila’ comp of works for Chain Reaction, and his bifurcation into the full bodied deep house of ‘Vocalcity’ as Luomo, but his restless creativity would move deeper into his abstract dub thing with ‘Entain’.
Now spread over three slabs and including all tracks in their immersive breadth, it remains a remarkable example of the era’s analog-to-digital flux and need for music that represented the newness of life increasingly immured in the internet and virtuality.
Glasgow’s Somewhere Press have made quite an impression with their fledgling Somewhere Between Tapes series, providing standout debuts from Chantal Michelle, Man Rei and Alliyah Enyo, whose smudged fusion of William Basinski's Disintegration Loops, choral music and dreampop provided one of last year’s most memorable album debuts. They return with their first label compilation, themed around the Blue Hour, that liminal stretch of time when the sun hangs below the horizon and the world doesn’t seem quite real. It’s a gorgeous evocation of blurred emotions, featuring contributions from Adela Mede, Man Rei, Chantal Michelle, Slowfoam, Dania, Astrid Øster Mortensen and a ruck of new names (to us) that we’ll be no doubt hearing more from.
The Blue Hour - that special time at dusk in summer when the light seems to glow soft and blue and the sounds of the world feel muted, has long been a source of inspiration in art, most famously with Guerlain’s indolic 1912 masterpiece L’Heure Bleue, a perfume that’s been described as an olfactory equivalent of an impressionist painting, and which attempted to capture that fleeting, melancholy moment where the smell of flowers also just happens to reach its peak.
For this compilation, Somewhere Press invited ten artists to convey the phenomenon, using a prompt from British writer-editor Hannah Pezzack. Each artist was asked to consider the historical and cultural significance of blue, tracking through its ancient association with melancholy, death and terror, to its later relationship with the divine and contemporary malaise. The colour's influence is far from universal, with many cultures only developing a word for it when the rare pigment was readily available, but its impact on the artistic world has been vast.
No stranger to these pages, Dania looks to the Romantic-era definition of blue on 'Lament', when German poet Novalis famously used Heinrich von Ofterdingen's dreams of a blue flower to symbolise the hopeless longing of the age. Singing softly over trembling strings, Dania establishes the mood with grace, burying almost inaudible whispers in pools of cavernous reverb. Mondlane takes a more liturgical approach, weaving solo voice around stretched, simmering bells sounding as phantasmagorical as Grouper and as spiritually resonant as Antonina Nowacka.
Angelina Nonaj contributes vocals to Georgia based artist santebela's 'If time bends', intoning slowly and purposefully over rainfall and clouded pads, and the album hits its emotional stride on 'Noise Dimensions', a rousing electro-orchestral composition from Anit Levan that reminds us of Cliff Martinez's flawless 'Solaris' soundtrack, gesturing towards the infinite vastness of the night sky.
The volume is turned down a little on the icy, Satie-like 'Winter go on' from Sweden's Astrid Øster Mortensen, who released the brilliant 'Sk æ rg å rdslyd' on Discreet Music last year. And Adela Mede sings assertively in Hungarian on 'Holnap' over slow piano chords and spiralling, softly psychedelic vocal loops. Elsewhere, the artists take the opportunity to use the blue hour to represent a space in-between places, with Rachel McDermott, aka Velvachell recording material in Mexico and sculpting the noisy, liminal 'Firewood (los colores)' back in Glasgow, while the set ends with its most entrancing sequence, Man Rei’s ‘Call’, a drift of synth pads, woodwind and voice that reminds us of the impossible melancholy of Malibu, or Sade’s ‘Cherish the Day’s slowed down 1000%.
Juliana Huxtable, Via App and Joe Rinaldo Heffernan light the touch-paper with their blindingly bizarre debut single, charismatically mutilating prog rock, b-movie electronix, symphonic punk and pinched electro in the process. A firework display for anyone into Siouxsie and the Banshees, Drexciya, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kathy Acker or Lizzy Mercier Descloux.
It would have been far too obvious for Huxtable to emerge with a project that simply built on her reputation as a DJ. She's been developing her craft and sharpening her voice for far too long to give us the expected gargle of dysregulated glitches, spongy drums and freeform poetry. Instead, she got together with her long-time collaborator Heffernan and club darkwing Via App to formulate Tongue in the Mind, a trio who cut the high-minded ambition of prog with the sneering sincerity of no wave, tying it all up with a vivid neon bow.
'Pretty Canary' is the band's first proper recording, and arrives after months of live renditions and studio revisions. It was worth the effort, and the finished version is bewilderingly tight despite its epic scope. "What's up y'all, had to pop out my situation 'cause I fell off too hard," Huxtable mouths in deliberate cadence over distorted, alien electronics. Then there's the tease; skittering electro-fried drums and serrated blasts of guitar noise prompt Huxtable to break into a fresh delivery. The three trade ideas back-and-forth for a few moments, skipping between punk rock and limber club sounds, before Huxtable takes the lead over a taut 4/4, crooning until her voice cracks and stirs sensually.
That leaves the final act for Heffernan's metal-flecked, virtuoso axe 'n drum work, adding the gargantuan pinch of tongue-in-cheek flavor that reassures us we're tuned into the right channel. It's the kind of track that should cause a raft of media darling indie/post-punk futurists to go back to the drawing board and figure out what they're doing wrong. Absolutely huge, in every possible sense.
The unsurpassable Julia Reidy returns alongside Berlin-based quartet The Pitch, who bless Reidy's peculiar xenharmonic tones with sparse flourishes of vibraphone, clarinet, double bass and electronics. A dizzying display of obtuse harmony and doomy, cosmic jazz, it's like Bohren & der Club of Gore playing Glenn Branca.
We've been knocked sideways by Julia Reidy's last run of releases, and 'Neutral Star' only fuels our obsession. Recorded in front of an audience in one take by Rebih Beaini at his Morphine Raum studio-cum-venue, it's a startling technical achievement, sounding deep and layered even without overdubs. The Pitch, made up of Boris Baltschun, Koen Nutters, Michael Thieke and Morten Joh, have been playing together since 2009, working out a way to blend acoustic improvisation with hypnotic electronics, and alongside Reidy they're able to slip into a parallel universe. Their music is both familiar and strangely exotic, following Reidy's obsession with non-standard tunings richly orchestrating the open-ended compositions.
'Endless ≠ Limitless' began as a tape-delay-based piece written by Reidy and Joh, and here plumes into a smoky, decelerated cabaret puff, with haunted, jazzy double-bass plucks at the root and sparse, wooly vibraphone tones and waved woodwind blasts fogging the upper register. The piece unfurls over almost 25 minutes, sustaining its particular, Lynchian mood and giving Reidy enough space to add their characteristic twang where necessary. On the flip, the title track is more nebulous, with Reidy adding subtle fingertaps to a high-pitched clarinet fanfare that sounds as if it's being carried across storm winds from beyond the coast. The lounge-y jazz vapors are all but gone here, swallowed by caliginous drones and wonky xenharmonic flurries - at times, it's tough to work out which elements are electronic, and which are emanating from acoustic instruments.
Subtle and uncommonly atmospheric, 'Neutral Star' is an album that takes the sultry evocative tone of film music and queers the pitch, neatly swerving any burned-out, melodramatic tropes in the process. Massive recommendation.
Deutsche Grammophon handles this posthumous world premiere recording of the late Icelandic composer's triumphant 'A Prayer to the Dynamo', bundling it with suites compiled from his acclaimed scores for 'Sicario' and 'The Theory of Everything'.
Jóhannsson's fascination with technology is one of his compositional hallmarks. He memorialized an obselete computer system on 'IBM 1401, A User's Manual', and with 'A Prayer to the Dynamo', he wrote the piece after being inspired by field recordings he captured at Iceland's Elliðaár power plant. These sounds are woven into the fabric of the four-part piece, played with requisite skill by the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Daníel Bjarnason. It's hard to know exactly how Jóhannsson might have treated the material, but this recording shines some light on the composition, and it's filled with Jóhannsson's expected melancholy flourishes.
To bump up the release, it's bundled with selected cues from 'Sicario' and 'The Theory of Everything', also rendered by the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra.
EBM/industrial pioneers Esplendor Geomtrico meet Chilean-German boffin Atom TM in a dream-fusion of their respective electronic muscle and gristle as ASA for Raster. They are not fucking-about here!
Named for an acronym of their first initials, Arturo Lanz, Saverio Evangelista, and AtomTM, aka ASA, form a recombinant beast with ‘radial’, the result of pitting their energies in a reflux of vintage industrial thrust with a thirst for modernist production. The album sits among the heaviest, rudely funked on Raster with a superb clash of textured samples dissected in hyper-crisp digital angularities certain to trigger and reprogram well tested muscle memories. The approach and final product speak directly to shared roots in ‘80s industrial body musicks, and likewise a Latin provenance that that can be heard and in their cyborg-sexy offbeat syncopations and feel for physically grinding machinery, resoundingly rent in imaginary workshop/warehouse space.
Too often the old guard of industrial music can return to the fray sounding dated and cliché, but not ASA. ‘Radial’ sounds classic but fresh, or as the label astutely put it “outstandingly atemporal… even meta-contemporary”. With little recourse to the timestamps of melody, they finely twist sine waves and panel-beaten percussion into compelling rhythmelodic forms that prompt the most crooked movement from dancers in the most classic sense of industrial musick, and likewise give the shadow dwelling types something to really chew on while they scowl at those who do get down.
They keep it playfully obtuse between highlights such as the militant stepper ‘Modernizacion Acelerada’ and the convulsive funck of ‘We Need a Medic’, jamming divebombing synths and cattleprod percussive blows into the hard-working ‘Trabajador Radial’, and mechanically reclaimed brawn of ‘Kreise’ or the jaw-disclocating gurns of ‘Enredando’, and like a scuzzy answer to Alva Noto meets Emptyset in ’Spazio’.
'Sending Up A Spiral Of' is US sound artist Sydney Spann's first vinyl release, and works as a neatly-presented introduction to their idiosyncratic catalog. Using environmental recordings, vocals, sine tones and rough, tactile sounds, Spann brings attention to the language and love of care workers, working obscure lullabies into her peculiar compositions.
Only a few seconds into the 20-minute title track of 'Sending Up A Spiral Of', it's pretty clear we're in for something special. Spann's voice echoes gently over church bells and pastoral ambience, sounding as if they're singing while washing rags in a metal pot; resonant clanks are splayed into dissociated echoes, and a single sine tone hangs in the background like an errant hum. It's not music that's particularly easy to decipher, but it's fascinating to unravel as it evolves and the sine tones grow into a symphonic whirr, footsteps and outdoor sounds turning into de facto rhythms. Spann's voice disappears into the thrumming drones, that vibrate and oscillate against each other as Spann adds looped insect chirps, radio static and microscopic touches that only reveal themselves on multiple listens.
The rest of the album is split into smaller chunks, but is no less riveting. Spann's lullabies are cut into shreds and cassette taped to add a warm layer of grit on 'Cow, Cow, Cow...', and on 'Possession' they structure a more traditional song, hushing "baby, baby" over cool, organ-like synths. Their tones are split into animalistic vocalizations on 'Love Undoes Me Every Day' - sharp intakes of breath and emotional cries, and on 'Purposeful Evening' strike an unsettling, mournful tone over gloomy synth drones that wobble under the tape hiss. Deeply affecting music, 'Sending Up A Spiral Of' is the kind of deeply personal, charged and expertly sculpted material that should appeal to anyone into Robert Ashley or Henning Christiansen. Massive recommendation.
Tapes, Surgeon, Nadia Struiwigh, V.I.V.E.K., Amy Kisnorbo and more sign up to tweak out Om Unit’s acclaimed Acid Dub Studies.
Across two volumes of ‘Acid Dub Studies’ and corresponding ‘Versions’ since 2021, Om Unit and pals have gone deep on a strain of acid dub music that’s percolated the waters since ‘80s digi-dub classic ’Sleng Teng’ and Bobby Konders’ early ‘90s joints, and found in classic works like the ‘Acid Hall’ riddim and a series of aces by The Bug. ‘Acid Dub Versions II’ sees Om Unit originals tweaked out in forms ranging from dub, proper, to its offshoots in dubstep, UKG, acid techno and ambient with often ace results.
The Tapes remix of ‘Acid Tempo’, itself a version of Black Roots Players’ ‘Tempo Dub’ (Wackies, 1985), is a big one, and we’re also partial to Nadia Striuwigh’s weightless ambient rendering of ‘Electrospringwater’, and the stylistic purism of Frenk Dublin’s duppied acid dub version to ‘Ghosts’. Surgeon smartly takes the opportunity to ping off at uptempo angles with his springheeled modular reshod of ‘Tapped’, and V.I.V.E.K.’s is built for the biggest rigs.
Beautiful modern composition from LA's prolific Sean McCann and En/Root Strata's San Fran-based Maxwell August Croy. Their first collaboration, 'I' feels timlessly enigmatic, drawing on a wealth of aesthetic and compositional tropes from their respective oeuvres
Beaming forth with the flurry of strings and breezing wind instruments of 'Parting Light (Suite)' they expand upon a sweeping sound with the vaulted harmonic overtones of 'Alexandria' and more intimate, folk-wise styles in the slow, rustic sashay of 'Momiji', before taking to the placid, meditative space of 'The Inlet Arc' and the lushly soured Eastern strings of 'Hollow Pursuits' nodding to classical Korean music as much as Taj Mahal Travellers, Gavin Bryars and Richard Skelton.
Burly but sinuous hard drum body movers by Danish producer DJ JM, looping back for his 2nd EP with Nervous Horizon
With origins in TSVI’s ‘Sacred Drums’ (2016) EP and a full 2019 EP for the label, DJ JM returns to Nervous Horizon with four concentrated, reticulated club sidewinders on the ‘Abnormal’ EP. To be fair, they’re pretty conventional not abnormal, but that’s not to say they’re aren’t effective, carrying a shunting darkroom house momentum in ’Syze’, beside the distended electro tribalism of ‘Pepper’, a tracky, wickedly discordant title tune, and rugged electro of ‘Erazer’ with its squealing lead.
Outernational documentarians Hive Mind usher the poetic debut recordings of a Pakistani Benju maestro from the Makran Coast of Balochistan near Iran, accompanied by dual tambura on a spellbinding recital.
Named ‘Jingul’ for the bird that visits his house, Ustad Noor Baksh’s first record reels four interpretations of local poetry and shepherd’s songs in the Sufi devotional form of qawwali. While it may be his first recording, it’s evident from his mastery of the electric benju - a keyed dulcimer deriving from a modified form of the Japanese taishōgoto instrument and adapted with pick-ups - that he has spent a lifetime with it, and the music flows forth with spellbinding, storytelling quality.
In Baksh’s hands the the benju is a noumenal loom for weaving the criss-crossed stories of his region, speaking to its conflux of migrations between Africa, Persia, and Arabia via the Indian Ocean that laps Baluchistan’s coast. The instrument’s distinctive, buzzing, bluesy twang leads with cascading melodies buoyed by the drone chronics of Jamadar Gohram & Doshambay’s damboora or tanpura, the traditional Indian instrument recently deployed on a deadly CC Hennix session, and here in its classic supporting role, creating sustained beds of drone that equally help carry the stories - and the imagination - with them.
Modern US new age ambient explorers Nathaniel & Earthtones align chakras on a gentle suite of mbira plucks and synth pads
LA-based jazz and electronic musician, meditation teacher and ritualist Serge Bandura aka Earthtones, and Kevin Nathaniel, a student of legendary African master musicians Ephat Mujuru and Chief Bey K, forged a creative relationship during the pandemic which resulted in this quietly functional set of music for relaxation.
The pair achieve a mutual conclusion of warm analogue synth rippling with the transportive plucks of mbira and kalimba in the 28 mins to ‘Of the Earth (Full Meditation)’, which also features in its constituent parts; the dawning arc ‘Of the Earth’, the nature bathing sublime of ‘Slow Emotion’, and drowsy bliss out ‘Sonrise’.
New Zealand's Noel Meek and veteran Spanish sound artist Mattin craft this smart tribute to the legendary Annea Lockwood from a long-form Skype conversation, that's peppered across mischievous tracks that re-examine her most memorable moments.
If you're going to make a tribute to a composer as important and singular as Annea Lockwood, you'd better find a novel way of approaching it. Thankfully, Meek and Mattin know exactly what they're getting themselves into, using a lengthy three-way chat with the New Zealand-born artist to form the backbone of the record, and fleshing it out with smart pieces that act as a commentary on her compositional practice. So opening track 'Das Ding an sich' establishes the form with vocal snippets from the interview cut, manipulated and juxtaposed with garbled laptop noises, and 'Computer Burning' is a digital age take on Lockwood's infamous 1968 composition 'Piano Burning'. Instead of hearing a piano dying as flames engulf its wooden frame and steel strings, we hear the plastic and metal of a laptop pop and bubble and spit for 15 minutes.
Lockwood's interest in sound maps and environmental sound is touched on with 'Otakaro / Where the Children Play', a "hydrophonic diary" recorded at the Ōtākaro river that runs through Christchurch, where Lockwood was born. And the final track 'Homage to Annea Lockwood (2021-22)' is a moving polyphonic choral piece. It's a touching and fittingly whimsical tribute to one of experimental music's true originals. Recommended.
If you thought Charanjit Singh's 1982-released acid house precursor 'Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat' was prophetic, this set is gonna make you question everything you thought you knew about the history of electronic music.
The NID Tapes is an incredible haul of early Indian electronic experiments uncovered at the archives of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad by Paul Purgas over the last few years. Recorded between 1969-1972, the collection chronicles electronic works from the previously unknown Indian composers Gita Sarabhai, I.S. Mathur, Atul Desai, S.C. Shama and Jinraj Joshipura who worked at the nation’s first electronic music studio founded at the NID during the utopian years following India’s independence - a radical period of visionary experimentation and artistic freedom.
Arriving at a point when our interest in contemporary Indian music has been sharply piqued by the likes of Shubharun Sengupta and Nakul Krishnamurthy, plus the soundsystem styles of DJ Smiley Bobby, this 19-track compilation dives into a rich pool of nascent work by poets, architects, technicians and musicians encountering electronic equipment for the first time, far from electronic music’s usual western hotspots.
The compilation presents excerpts from 27 reels of archive tape spanning the three years of the studio's operational history, extracted by Paul Purgas of Emptyset and as detailed brilliantly on the 'Electronic India' documentary on BBC Radio 3 a couple of years ago. Now made available for public consumption for the first time, the set chronicles a sliver of time when the influence of Indian music was resonating thru both Western pop music via The Beatles, and the avant-garde via likes of Terry Riley and a wave of artists enchanted by its just intoned tunings and rhythmic intricacy. The studio was in fact founded with support from the New York composer David Tudor who personally gifted and set up a Moog modular system and tape machine at the institute in the autumn of 1969, and the collection includes an excerpt from Tudor’s work discovered amongst the collection of tapes.
S.C. Shama opens the set with 'After the War', feeding hard panned analog bubbles over disoriented drones that lodge somewhere between Indian classical music and the American Minimalism that drank so much from the subcontinent. Levitational at times but never lacking anxiety, it captures the era's precarious hopefulness, struck through with the discombobulation of the recent past. But it's with his 'Dance Music' tracks that Sharma has our jaws dislodged and dropped into the dirt: using cycling, detuned oscillators and kick drum sine bumps, his trio of rhythmic experiments could almost be some lost Ø / Vainio production sizzling into sub-voided dub. 'Dance Music II' is more manic, with xenharmonic electronic stabs mirroring acoustic Indian instrumentation; and 'Dance Music III' is loopy, almost psychedelic, minimal pulsemusik, like Raymond Scott assembling a 7am Berghain floor-melter for Sähkö.
The only surviving artist featured on the compilation, Jinraj Joshipura, was a 19-year-old architecture student when he arrived at the NID. His two contributions are dramatic and urgent: 'Space Liner 2001' peers into an alien future, but also sounds marked by conflict, countering unstable synth warbles with explosions and controlled chaos, while its second segment sounds completely weightless, like a lifeless space suit floating in the frozen cosmos. Poet and musician Atul Desai used the technology to express what sounds to our contemporary ears like Aaron Dilloway's CDR-pilled Midwestern grot on 'Compositions', piping acoustic and electronic rhythmic patterns thru grotesque reverb and overdriven amps, before skewering tape-mangled traditional sounds on 'Recordings for Osaka Expo 70'.
I.S. Mathur is responsible for a large chunk of the sounds on "The NID Tapes", and on 'Once I Played a Tanpura' turns the familiar string instrument into a heavily distorted guitar, foreshadowing Sunn O)))'s doomed drones before dissolving the wails into acidic rasps. 'Soundtrack of Shadow Play' might be even more crushing, assumedly accompanying ancient shadow puppetry with screwed tabla womps and tanpura hums that ping-pong thru the stereo field next to Popul Vuh-esque Moog meditations.
It's all a total mindmelt, music that tells a vivid story of India during a time of great creative freedom and optimism. There's really so much to ponder it's hard to absorb it all at once - if you've ever wanted to dig deeper into the more expressive, more eccentric side of early experimental music, the kind of paradigm-challenging material you'd expect to hear from Keith Fullerton Whitman's iconic Creel Pone imprint or the darkest depths of the Sub Rosa catalog, ‘The NID Tapes’ is gonna have you frothing at the mouth. What a find.
Pre-Lolina bombs from Inga Copeland, originally issued as a mediafire freebie in 2013 and now pressed up a decade later on vinyl in a limited run touted as Inga’s first and last album.
Anyone following Alina Astrova’s work since the Hype WIlliams days (us) will be all over this, finding her in that skewed but earnest pop mode that we first caught a glimpse of on a grainy Hype Williams vhs doing Sade’s The Sweetest Taboo around 2010 as featured on the Do Roids And Kill E'rything 7” for Second Layer.
Higher Powers runs 6 tracks / 20 minutes deep of material you’ll know intimately if you grabbed the files way back when, but which will scratch a very 2010’s sorta itch for the uninitiated. ‘Light Up’ is one of her best, all martial/slowed amens, unstable pads and room recorded vox that revel in questionable fidelity, in the best way. ‘B.M.W.’ is more hi-def, a clipped soundsystem anthem with gloriously fuzzed arcade machine synths, ‘Obsession 2’ feels like one of those tunes that spends 4 minutes trying to figure out what time signature it’s in, while Scratcha-hookup ‘A World in Danger III’ is the most polished thing here, ending just as it gets going.
Always a tease with this one.
Freestyle electro-inflected acid aces by Leo Dimartino aka Tino for Tom Carruthers’ local powerhouse Non Stop Rhythm
All three cuts jack deep into NSR’s classy brand of retro-vintage revival with devilishly tweaked-out takes on the sort of imported dance music that really caught fire with late ‘80s UK crowds. Traces of late latin electro freestyle, Detroit and NYC techno and Chicago house are pursued in the needlepoint drum programming and sinuous, trilling funk of ‘Let’s Dance’ on an early Joey Beltram/Bones Breaks meets Catt Records flex, while ‘Work My Body (Workout Mix)’ comes with judicious measures of spin backs, electroshocks and hip house-meets-bleep techno swagger, also found in a more skeletal proto-rave form in the OG.
Oren Ambarchi reconnects with veteran Belgian percussionist Eric Thielemans on 'Double Consciousness', using his guitar as a fiddle, synth and organ over Thielemans' icy, frenetic patter.
Thielemans has been a fixture in the Belgian improv/jazz scene for decades, collaborating with artists as varied as Kreng, Chantal Acda, Charlemagne Palestine and Mika Vainio and releasing music on Ultra Eczema, Sub Rosa and Miasmah. He joins Ambarchi here once more after appearing on last year's 'ਚੈਨਲKAANALचैनलRÁÐעָרוּץ', and the two seem to share a similar interest in the mutability of cooperation - even the set's title suggests that their collaboration is deeper than your average head-to-head. Here the Berlin-based Aussie plays his prepared guitar alongside an Audobon Bird Call, a 1950s whistle that helps introduce the album, whistling away evocatively while Thielemans rattles on bells and cymbals.
As the piece progresses, Ambarchi contorts his guitar into varying forms, making it sound like a metallophone, a sub-aquatic synthesizer, a violin or a Hammond organ. For his part, Thielemans doesn't just set the rhythm but uses his drum set to punctuate Ambarchi's rich clouds. The two seem completely in step with each other at all times, there's never a stumble or a fall, rather they draw from each other's respective energy - Ambarchi sounds as if he's being carried by Thielemans' tidal flow, and Thielmans sounds invigorated by Ambarchi's measured soundscapes. At its best, they almost freeze time completely, studying their instruments so deeply that they become extensions of pure soul and spirit. Recommended!
First vinyl pressing of a cranky ’99 transpennine illbient-dancehall wrecker by Manchester’s Muslimgauze and Bradford don The Rootsman
‘Return to the City of Djinn’ skanked out a few years after the original ‘City of Djinn’ (1997) for The Rootsman’s Third Eye Music. Weighing in at 23 tracks, 67 mins over a new 2LP cut, it’s a substantial salvo of late period Bryn Jones aka Muslimgauze, who sadly passed away the week before it was issued, in January 1999. Omnivorous in its approach to style and pattern, it diffracts dub in varying shades of illbient, rugged NYC ragga-hop, jungle breaks and millennium dancehall pressure, with the duo’s pointed politics and weltanschauung implied by track titles often referencing zones of conflict and tragedy, ‘Bradford’ included.
Taking source material from The Rootsman records ‘Into The Light’ and ’52 Days to Timbuktu’, Muslimgauze dials in a heavy duty selection of hands-on-desk loop shaping, rudely pushed into the red and spliced with a palette of sampled voices occurring as characters in its ruffcut tapestry. From acidic dancehall echoing the weirdest, contemporaneous Lenky in ’Srebrenica’ to the cone-blowing illbient hip hop of ‘Bradford’ and heavily seasoned dub-noise of ’Banja Luka’, it’s classic Muslimgauze in effect, with standout cuts of flinty jungle in ‘Kabul’, ballistic bashment on ‘Dar Es Salaam’, and ‘hardcore hip hop breaks in ’Tuzla’, plus a dreamy sore thumb ‘Faizabad’.
Whatever your take on the mysterious, controversial Muslimgauze, he made some fucking amazing music - massive RIYL The Bug, Jay Glass Dubs, Demdike Stare, Shackleton.
Sally Shapiro covering Pet Shop Boys, co-mixed by Johnny Jewel? Don’t mind if we do.
Sweden’s disco queen and Johan Agebjörn lend a frostier frisson of romance to the Pet Shop Boys’ François K-produced classic, which now also benefits from that classic soft focus touch of IDIB capo, J. Jewel. Sally’s vocals simply sounds divine and voluminous in their original cover version, replete with Bobby O-like machine groove and strapping bass arps that come close to François K’s extended mix of the PSBs in Agebjörn and Jewel’s longer version built for the DJs. On thy remix, Canada’s Nicolaas ropes in a sleazy sax line from Zombi’s Steve Moore, and there’s an instrumental for any seeking to really get into their groove.
Svitlana Nianio's 1994 masterpiece 'Transylvania Smile' is one of her earliest solo recordings, unreleased - in this final form - until now. Melting traditional Ukranian folk with piano and harmonium improvisations, Nianio pre-empts later wyrd folk developments with a charmed suite that connects outsider forest folk with layered vocal drones and choral motifs to captivating, heart-stopping effect.
Nianio cut her teeth founding the Ukrainian avant outfit Cukor Bila Smert who gained notoriety for their blend of gothy, new-wave-inspired instrumentation and surreal vocals, elements that still underpinned Nianio's music when she drifted into a solo career in 1993. 'Transylvania Smile’ was commissioned to accompany a performance by dancers who used flashlights to project shadows on the walls of Cologne's Urania theatre, and although Nianio traveled to Aachen to dub the material in a studio, it remained unreleased in its entirety until now.
'Transylvania Smile' offers clues to Nianio's musical evolution; her instrumentation is minimal, often just harmonium or piano, paired with distinct vocalisations, and, most importantly, unforgettable melodies, like some archetypal songbook drawing clear lines between new wave, avant electronics, baroque and slavic folk. The tracks aren't titled, rather split into episodes, beginning with 'Episode III', the sort of primal, lullaby-esque tune you feel you’ve known your whole life - like the roots of Grouper, Islaja or even Julia Holter, painted in broad strokes, blurred into hallucinatory lattices.
'Episode I', in contrast, is relatively upbeat, with Nianio using the harmonium to mimic an accordion. The instrument's brittle wheeze counters her sculpted voice, lodging itself between the cloister and the street corner, dancing between waltzing chords and shimmering trills. The sacred air of church music is never far from Nianio's compositions either; on 'Episode II' she sings monastic phrases over harmonium wails that sound like a pipe organ, and on the album's concluding part 'Episode VII', she improvises chaotically as she sings clear, jubilant chorals. 'Episode IV', meanwhile, is like some magical, early music re-enactment of The Stranglers 'Golden Brown'.
If the last few years have seen young avant-minded composers digging into the history of sacred music for inspiration, it's intriguing to find an artist making those same investigations a couple of decades earlier. Needless to say, if you've spent time poring through the STROOM, Fonal or Recital catalogs, you absolutely need this one in yr life.
The legendary Tuareg blues guitarist sets fire on 'Ibitlan'.
“Recorded at the same sessions as Mdou's recent album Ilana: The Creator, "Ibitlan" has been a staple of Mdou's band's live shows over the past years, sometimes being played at lengths of 10+ minutes!
Whereas Ilana: The Creator's lyrical content often focused on life in postcolonial Niger, "Ibitlan" is more focused on matters of the heart. When describing the song, Mdou said, "It's like when there's a valley, with a stream running through it, and all the plants are green, the song is about how my girlfriend is beautiful like that. Her skin is like a yellow flower, and her smile is like lightning."
Mdou Moctar hails from a small village in central Niger in a remote region steeped in religious tradition. Growing up in an area where secular music was all but prohibited, he taught himself to play on a homemade guitar cobbled together out of wood. It was years before he found a "real" guitar and taught himself to play in secret. He immediately became a star amongst the village youth. In a surprising turn, his songs began to win over local religious leaders with their lyrics of respect, honor, and tradition.”
First official reissue of a legendary Japanese dream sequence projected by Junko Tange and Masami Yoshikawa in 1979 on Vanity Records and now trading for £600+ on the 2nd hand market. Junko Tange, an "unassuming dental nurse" is undoubtedly one of the most mysterious, pioneering and under-recognised women in the advancement of electronic music of the late 70’s and early 80’s, so this reissue (and it’s companion piece ‘Divin’ - also out this week) - should hopefully bring her work to the attention of a new generatuon of listeners.
Osaka’s Junko Tange fused dadaist lyrics with webs of guitar, piano and electronics into a waking dream procession on this singular debut recording. Over the years it has formed part of official boxset reissues with the Kyou and V-O-D labels, but this is its maiden stand-alone reissue and showcases Junko’s quietly unnerving style of electro-acoustic, avant-lounge jazz that quietly reserves the right to sting nerves with hypnic jerks of atonality. It’s one of those records that most palpably evokes the Lynchian sensation of inhabiting someone else’s dreams, replete with the feeling that you probably shouldn’t be there, even if you can’t tear yourself away.
In that sense, Tolerance feels like a more dazed adjunct to Phew, whose debut was issued a couple of years after ‘Anonym’, or in the modern day with Laila Sakini’s poetic chamber-pop inceptions, but it’s fair to say that this album placed Junko completely out on her own in 1979. Nonetheless, If you’re looking for reference points, it shares psychedelic proprioceptions with Basquiat’s Gray works of ’79 in the echoic sashay of ‘JUIN-Irénée’, and recalls the wilted wonder of Jandek, who would also emerge around the same time, on ‘laughiñ in the shadows’. CC Hennix’s avant-jazz tunings come to mind on ‘I wanna be a homicide’, as well as the enigma of Two Daughters in ‘tecno-room’, or From Nursery to Misery in the dessicated lo-fi pulse of ‘through the glass’.
Ultimately. it seems clear that Junko Tange was basically just following her nose to express a strangeness of being that still hits and snags the nerves like little else, some 44 years later.
Tender mutuals, ambient starlet Ana Roxanne and dembow mutator DJ Python, double down on their acclaimed Times Square DJ set with a crystalline definition of trip-gaze subtractions like a whimsical fusion of Julee Cruise, Boards of Canada, Seefeel and Cucina Povera.
Spanning their blissed takes on sylvan illbient, early ‘00s electronics, shoegaze jungle and ambient-pop, proper, ‘Natural Wonder Beauty Concept’ lives up to its evocative mantle with some of the most distinctive work in either artist’s estimable catalogues. It blooms most handsomely from their 2021 experience of DJing together at Transmission, NYC, quilting that show’s threads of classic trip hop, weirdo dancehall, ambient chamber-pop and classical music into a luxurious original LP that showcases their individual strengths amplified in collaboration.
While we’ve heard Brian Piñeyro’s DJ Python slithering toward this style since ‘Mas Amable’, these jams with Ana Roxanne are no doubt the most substantial and finely realised from him in this mode, supplying soft-touch bedding to Roxanne’s etheric glossolalia in 10 diversely dream-weft confections. Roxanne's ethereal Kranky full-length 'Because of a Flower' and its brilliant predecessor "~~~" gave us a taste of her vocal range, but where those albums treated her voice like oil paint, smudging it into her impressionistic electronics, here she's coaxed completely into a well-lit graphic reality, flashing between the roles of pop starlet and heartsick dreamer.
Seducing to the horizontal with ‘Fallen Angel’, they gently comb frayed nerves with a careful course of downbeat medication in the drowsy hyper-pop of ‘Sword’ and their tripped lullaby duet ‘III’, but prang off on dream-pop/jungle angles with a lush title song centrepiece, before recalling the eeriest plasmic traces of Leila’s AFX-engineered trip hop slant on ‘Young Adult Fiction’, and side quests in Seefeel or Hysterical Love Prioect-esque ’90s shoegaze electronica on ‘Driving’, with ‘World Freehand Circle Drawing’ distinctly recalling the romantic adult contemporary staging of Susanna Wallumrød.
File in your favourites shelf. It’s a real one.
Pure ecstasy from a living deity: 78 minutes of ineffably blissful, deferred drone gratification of thee highest order. Massive RIYL Pandit Pran Nath, La Monte Young, Alice Coltrane, Angus MacLise, Tony Conrad, being human
Writing thru tears of joy here, ‘cos ’Solo for Tamburium’ has just turned us to a vibrating mass of mush. Taken from a 2017 performance at MaerzMusik in Berlin, the piece is perhaps the most intimately generous, radiant manifestation of C.C. Hennix’s devotion to her craft. As far as we can tell, it is the first release to feature her solo since the 1976 recordings of ’Selected Keyboard Works’, and depicts the septuagenarian Swedish musician, poet, philosopher, mathematician and visual artist at a crest of her powers; cascading an eternal stream of sustained drone and cosmic iridescence from a just intoned, custom-built tamburium - a version of the Indian long-neck lute instrument she studied under Indian classical music master Pandit Pran Nath, which is crucial to performing the ancient music’s drone chronics.
In Hennix’s hands, the results are simply blinding, bringing a rare intensity and beauty rarely found in Western musics beyond the blues and psychedelia, but commonplace for millennia in modes of the subcontinental raga and Arabic maqam that she references. Hennix knows this from her roots in jazz and the fabled ‘60s NYC minimalist scene, that led to an in-depth, lifelong study of modal practice, developing, under Pandit Pran Nath, a system of precision-tuned preparation and intuitive, devotional performance that syncs mind-body and opens the gates for a staggering, singular sense of expression. As with all her solo and ensemble-based works, the spice flows with a preternatural effortlessness, but we’ve never heard it quite so glorious and glittering with utopian promise as here, with Hennix utterly locked into her own mode.
Oceanic, cosmic, corporeal, and spiritually resonant, the music stunningly feeds forward Hennix’s earliest urges into a timeless here and now. It is both immediately gripping, and yet unfolds its fathomless layers with durational immersion, ebbing with elemental logic to reveal dynamically shifting harmonic intensities and shearing timbral intricacies that reprogram perceptions and radically home in on music’s psychophysical effects. Quite honestly, if pushed, we’d happily live on a desert island with only C.C. Hennix’s catalogue and a decent rig for company, and never get bored. Just imagine supping coconuts, slapping midges and quivering to her cold rushes under tropical sun. That’s how we feel right now.
Maiden vinyl voyage for the YMO legend's masterful ’96 LP of outernational club rhythms and modal ambient dub, featuring Yasuaki Shimizu, Bill Laswell, François K, and many more - massive RIYL Muslimgauze, Terre Thamelitz, The Orb, DJ Spooky, Spacetime Continuum
One of a myriad Hosono gems ripe for (re)discovery, ’N.D.E.’ stands out from his dozens of solo albums due to its imaginative navigations of a ‘90s soundfield that blossomed from ideas seeded by the likes of his band, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and the emerging, global new age consciousness during the late ‘70s and ‘80s. It remains a landmark among the vast archipelago of Hosono’s discography, which already held strong influence on city pop and Shibuya-Kei, not to mention the worldwide electro phenomenon that begat house and techno, and feels somewhat like the sound’s godfather returning to earlier pastures armed with new ideas while revitalising old ones with lessons learned over the interim. The result is an album abundant with lush rhythms and even lusher sound designs that sweep between poles of inspiration from Indian classical to advanced Goa sand stomp, cinematic cyberdub and hallucinatory techno.
Now a cult number in the Hosono nebula, ’N.D.E.’ has, until now, never been issued properly outside of Japan. This reissue corrects an historic wrong with all seven tracks primed for DJ/club and home use. Teeing off with the Muslimgauze-like tabla dervish of ’Spinning Spirits’ and concluding in radiant country folk drone on ‘Aero’, it touches on contemporaneous strains of buoyant ambient techno on the air-stepping ‘Navigations’ and the psychedelic pulse of ‘Strange Attractor’, where he knits roots in psych-rock and modal ambient with Warp-like techno, and simmers to a sort of Warrior’s dance swang in ‘Higher Flyer’.
However the club momentum is tempered by proper ambient-dub side quests, characterised by the spongiform brilliance of ‘Teaching of Sphinx’, and echoes of mid ‘90s Plaid on the effervescent ‘Heliotherapy’, with a hypnotic quality recalling Move D & Pete Namlook or Terre Thamelitz in the marriage of bullish drums to modal sax and raga drone on ‘Edge of the End’ starring fellow ambient pioneers Laswell and Shimizu.
Eartheater's eagerly-awaited follow-up to 2020's 'Phoenix' is a dusty, trip-hop-inspired behemoth that spies its clubbier influence from a few paces south of the dancefloor. One for fans of Björk, Lafawndah, Jenny Hval, Abyss X or even Goldfrapp.
It's been intriguing to see trip-hop's steady re-emergence over the last few years. At first it was heard as a stealthy reference in soupy ambient music, but the further we've moved from the halcyon era of Tricky's 'Maxinquaye', Massive Attack's 'Blue Lines' and Portishead's trailblazing first LP, the more the genre has provoked a genuine new wave. Eartheater is the latest artist to attempt to modernize the formula, and it's a good fit for her distinctive, strained tones. Working with slower, more skeletal beats, her voice is able to curl like smoke and soar only where necessary, backed by loungey, floury beats that skip around a well-worn template with irreverent glee.
The influence is most evident on tracks like 'Crushing' and 'Clean Break', a pair of jazzy, ornately orchestrated bubblers that take the Ennio Morricone-esque glint of Goldfrapp (or more recently, Sevdaliza) and spritz it with Eartheater's characteristic moan. Rather than a genre exercise, it becomes a labor of love; Eartheater is clearly passionate about the music she references, using it to emphasize the velveteen sensuality of 'Phoenix' and its predecessors, trapping the feeling in a dense fog of swooping strings and hard-swung breaks.
But it's when Eartheater steps outside the sound that 'Powders' comes into its own; 'Sugarcane Switch' uses some of trip-hop's sonic signifiers (exotica flutes, slow-moving strings) but offsets the exercise with pneumatic kicks and subtle trance risers. Combined with the fantastical, theatrical orchestral elements, the track sounds unique and fanciful, perfectly matched to Eartheater's upper-register coos. Similarly, lead single 'Pure Smile Snake Venom' is co-produced by Sega Bodega and introduces a rattly, stepped beat, injecting energy into the record exactly when it's most needed.
The most unexpected moment comes when Eartheater stops to gather her emotions with a cover of System of a Down's iconic 'Chop Suey!', turning the 2001 metal club staple into a heartfelt lament, singing in pained breaths over a light acoustic guitar accompaniment. It's a move that's mirrored on the album's finale 'Salt of the Earth', an almost choral track that sounds like a cry to the heavens. An open-ended close, it's no-doubt the lead into the record's imminent sister release 'Aftermath'.
Intense, harmonised noise swell and relief from US operator Rafael Anton Irisarri, scorching spiritual home turf with his latest Room40 release.
‘Agitas Al Sol’ is served as sibling piece to 2019’s ’Solastalgia’, recycling offuct material composed for that album into a deep burning mass of granular electronics and baked textures. Under an anagram of its sister work, it mirrors a blistering set of ambient noise arcing in harmonic sympathy, allowing the gravelly swells to breath and slosh in what the artist describes as “a deep, deep exhale”.
Between the raging romance of ‘Atrial 1.1’, the more sublime lull of ‘Atrial 1.2’, and the haunted figure of ‘Cloak 1.1’ he takes all the time needed to lets the works billow outward and induce the effect of staring into the sun for too long, before two shorter form parts close this chapter with a more intimate grip reminding of passages of The Caretaker or Tape Loop Orchestra and Basinski’s disintegrated tapes...
Actress' 3rd album, 'R.I.P', his 2nd for Honest Jon's, is now a decade old.
Despite being a vital cog in the machinery of underground UK dance and electronics since at least 2004 (when he released his 'No Tricks' debut), it's fair to say that by the time 'R.I.P.' was released Darren J. Cunningham made the shift from cult concern to acknowledged auteur of some repute. His work with Damon Albarn's DRC Music, beside a legendary DJ set at Sonar and remixes of Shangaan Electro, Panda Bear and Radiohead all elevated the fact; so expectations were high for 'R.I.P'.
Produced exclusively on hardware and inspired by Milton's classic poem 'Paradise Lost', Actress arranged his most labyrinthine, esoteric release to date; a set of 15 tracks traversing crystallized radiophonics and subterranean Techno with a psychedelic sideswipe that left us dazed and beguiled. By assimilating machine-like characteristics - his notions of "seeping yourself liquid into the machinery" Cunningham effectively became an interpreter, a symbiotic conduit with the potential to manipulate your consciousness. The newfound clarity and fluid narration made 'R.I.P.' the most intriguing chapter in the Actress saga so far - an unmissable experience.
After crafting an all-timer with 2008's 'Hazyville', Actress set his sights on the unknown with a futureshock debut for Honest Jon's.
Wheras it's predecessor was composed over a staggered period of many years, Splazsh was fashioned in a fraction of that time, lending a tangible symmetry between shapeshifting tracks that defined and propelled the era. Of the 14 tracks, we'd previously encountered the first two, with the unstable space float of 'Hubble' appearing on a shady Thriller 12" and his remix of Various Production's 'Lost' reminding us that there are some deep cuts in the Cunningham discography.
From here in it's all about that longing, sealing the airlock and initiating pressure sequence with 'Futureproofing', before laying down 'Always Human' - can u even remember a time you didnt know this one? Showing resistance towards any categorisation, 'Get Ohn (Fairlight Mix)' swerves down a side street into a footwurkin' face-off by sliding to a mutilated mix of Jon E Cash and Chez Damier played underwater. Next we hit the erogenous interzone of 'Maze' and that incapacitatingly lush bassline designed to lock into your central nervous system and send shockwaves of piloerection to every fucking corner of your soul.
After that, we're cynically dumped into the Ferraro-esque Prince tribute 'Purple Splazsh', and on into the Detroit ghetto stalk of 'Let's Fly'. The dissonant robo-crunk of 'The Kettle Men' and closing entry 'Casanova' confirm that if anything, Actress only suffers from a surfeit of ideas. Proof, if it were needed, that there is a sprawling future beyond the stasis of so much contemporary electronic music.
Captured at Cologne's Week-End Fest in 2021, 'Improvisation On Four Sequences' is succinct, cosmic performance from the great Suzanne Ciani that mutates from twisted, psychedelic synth arpeggios into demented artificial vocal experimentation.
At this late stage in her career, Ciani doesn't have anything left to prove. She's not only been responsible for some of the greatest synthesizer music ever produced, but she often did it first, shaping and developing techniques that have been pored over for decades. Her recent shows have provided a way for her to connect with an audience that mostly missed her innovations the first time around, and on 'Improvisation On Four Sequences' she gives a brief lap of honor, coolly displaying some of the magic we got to grips with on legendary albums like 'Seven Waves' and the flawless 'Buchla Concerts 1975'.
Beginning with crashing waves and birdsong (Ciani famously lives on the California coast), a brassy, analog drone slices through the white noise, slowly animating itself with on-the-fly sequences that snowball into complexity. The accompanying press release describes the music as "spectacular precisely because it is so unexciting," but we'd disagree. Ciani never lets anything drag on for too long, tweaking her patches obsessively and regularly disrupting the rhythm and tone. By the end of the first side we've been handed a succinct summary of her early career, tracking through wavering minimalism and intoxicating kosmische soundscapes.
The flip is where things get more energetic, shifting seamlessly from ghostly gurgles and stargazing blips into enchanting pockets of rhythmic synth tones. Ciani remodels these wasp-y stings until they're almost drums, adding proggy pads before she lurches into the final act - a percussive experiment that matches rattling snare sounds with artificial alien vocalizations. It's so unexpected and spirited that the audience immediately erupts into applause a good few minutes before the piece draws to a close. Fantastic stuff from one of electronic music's true greats.
Regis chips in a killer, loopy Brum techno style remix for the 5th solo Conrad Pack EP
The ‘Gateway EP’ finds Conrad Pack ploughing a heavy groove of monotone London techno dryness on the SELN Recordings he runs with DJ Gonz since 2022. Its ‘gateway (Version)’ plays to a tunnelling, heads-down form reminding of vintage Milton Bradley, before nudging the drums offbeat in Mike Parker style on ‘Version 2’, and slicing into a shark-eyed warehouse momentum with ‘Turn (Version)’. UK techno pioneer Regis is the ideal candidate for remix with the backspun loopy drive of his ‘Influence’ mix harking to classic ‘90s/early’00s bangers.
Schlammpeitziger's second album was originally released on Köln's legendary A-Musik imprint in 1996, and still sounds like little else. Made using cheap Casio keyboards, it's an eccentric, DIY version of kosmische music, sounding like Cluster covered by Felix Kubin and remixed by ISAN.
Cheap and tinny, but endearingly passionate, Jo Zimmermann's early releases are a treasured part of Köln folklore. The artist would end up recording a slew of albums for labels like Sonig and Bureau B, but 'Freundlichbaracudamelodieliedgut' catches Zimmerman at a crucial moment. An illustrator and performance artist as well as a musician, Zimmerman wrote this album as a tribute to the joy of everyday life and the surreal fantasies captured within. And he realizes this by reinterpreting the kosmische canon with joyful abandon, swerving the analog fetishism that would blight its later revival by concentrating on affordable, consumer-level instruments that lend the compositions a plasticky quality that's impossible to ignore.
'Hydraulicmeistershalbtagstanz' is charmingly melodic, making up for the lack of room-sized modular systems with pure good-natured emotion. The drums don't pump they flutter, and melodies waft across the track like incense smoke. Zimmerman adds pastoral field recordings to 'Winterschlafsüßbärentraum', wrestling his kick drums into a manic roll but still concentrating most of his energy on pretty, meandering synth improvisations. And when he goes off piste a little, like on the exotica-influenced 'Gezischel Im Fremdorient', he harmonizes with the electrified West Asian pop of Omar Souleyman. Extremely odd and quite lovely.
Candyfloss-headed confections of neo-classical, ambient-jazz and IDM electronica from a curious artiste out of Bilbao, venturing a bountifully bucolic debut on Barcelona’s Lapsus
‘Zeru Freq.’ is a warm invitation to peruse the imaginative inner worlds of Izaskun González aka RRUCCULLA, whose music rolls of the tongue as pleasurably as her name. Everything in ‘Zeru Freq.’ feel airspun and lands easy on the mind somewhere between FlyLo, Goooose and Brainwaltzera or her Lapsus stablemate Kettel, with seemingly effortless, naturally flowing arrangements derived from detailed and fractally shifting production.
‘Sarrera: Afinación de Color’ opens like an emulation of Alice Coltrane’s orchestra tuning up in a fantasy glade, spritzed with field recordings that colour and gel proceedings between the heart-in-mouth string flutter and swing beats of ‘Arquitectura Capillary’ and windswept piano figures of ‘¿Punto Final?’. She proves equally adept at jazz-taught broken beat fizz on ‘Pure Air Contortion’ and ‘’Eco-Noise Hunting’ as dream-pop dance in the glorious harmony billow and dipped electro of ‘Wind Poise’, with a stilts centrepiece of percolated choral baubles and giddy footwork like 33EMYBW or Gooooose, and the sweet evocation of her unique homeland in the iridescent shimmer and sweeping scape of ‘Pausa: Basque Rain Dances’ and ‘Igandea’ that ideally characterise a personalised conception of her work as a “sound expressionist”.
Optimo alumnus Thomas Lea Clarke makes his debut on Vladimir Ivkovic's Offen Music imprint with a moody set of low-key, downtempo acid jams that play like extensions of Plastikman's iconic 'Consumed' set.
It was only a matter of time before acid's isolationist fringe began to unravel closer to the center once more. With the TB-303 a consistent mainstay everywhere from New York clubs to Eastern European festival stages, infecting a spectrum of subgenres with its serrated squelch, a counter-reaction was almost guaranteed. And on his first Acid Drones LP, Berlin-based Clarke rathcets the tempo down and keeps the beat to a downtrodden slither, emphasizing the emotional vacuum caused by languid repetition. It's a technique that Richie Hawtin perfected on 1998's flawless 'Consumed', and while 'Acid Drones' isn't quite as stiflingly gloomy, it undoubtedly takes its cues from that milestone.
Clarke barely adds a beat on the opening track, eviscerating his doomy portamento waves in shifting, echoed-out pads. There's more going on by the time we reach 'Acid Drone 3', a vertiginous fusion of dubby 303 fidgets and rolling percussion that prods at the flexible sides of the cosmos; we can hear a galvanic kick, but it's buried low in the mix, suggesting movement rather than requiring it. And on the fourth movement, Clarke uses a rolling bassline to bring a little drama, working zapped-out sequences into the hypnotic sludge. The record's momentum swells as it progresses: 'Acid Drone 6' is an airy reminder of the Artificial Intelligence era's peak, and 'Acid Drone 7' sets a robust groove against repetitive acid loops.
Our favorite is the last track; the moment that deviates most visibly from the formula. Here, Clarke lets the rhythm shift into double time, creating a stark contrast with the 303's molasses-slow warble.
Akira Yamaoka's enigmatic and enduring scores for the early 'Silent Hill' games have buried themselves in musical lore, referenced and sampled extensively by ambient artists, rap producers, bass heads and vaporwave pranksters. 'Silent Hill II' contains some of the composer's best-loved cues, meshing woozy, beatless soundscapes with spooky trip-hop and chunky metal.
When it comes to horror videogame soundtracks, the 'Silent Hill' series is up at the top of the pile, with 'Resident Evil' coming in a close second. Yamaoka's spine-chilling soundscapes drew from the broad spectrum of dance music, sounding perfectly in-step with the sonic reality of the late '90s and using vitreous, minor-key pads and lolloping illbient beats to flesh out his library of hand-recorded sound effects. And although 'Silent Hill 3' might be the most acclaimed of the bunch, sampled by everyone from Burial and Flying Lotus to Maxo Kream, 'Silent Hill 2' is almost as meaty, providing hooks and textures to Fort Romeau, A$AP Rocky, $uicideboy$, Lil Wayne, Prodigy and plenty of others.
We can mostly avoid the bolshy rock/metal cuts like 'Theme of Laura' and 'Angel's Thanatos', but the rest of the album plays like a weird dream, likely to trigger deja-vu whether you conquered the original games or not. As soon as you hear the opening notes of 'White Noiz' you'll know exactly what we're talking about. The sounds were repurposed on A$AP Rocky's VERYRVRE-produced 'Purple Kisses' in 2012, but outside of that framework it still sounds effective. Elsewhere, Yamaoka folds in sentimental piano flourishes: the memorable 'Promise (Reprise)' has been chopped and repurposed on at least a dozen rap tracks, that don't need to fuck with much of the composer's sad but beautiful mood. All it needs is a beat and the rest is taken care of. 'Null Moon' is even better, keeping the tense piano loops, and adding a downtempo bump and tinny strings.
Similarly, 'Heaven's Night' takes its cues from early Mo'Wax, layering reminiscent minor washes under a slowed-down break, and 'Alone in the Town' sounds as jazzy and suggestive as Barry Adamson's sorely underrated 'Oedipus Schmoedipus'. There's really so much here; Yamaoka's 'Silent Hill II' score is more than a nostalgia trip or a history lesson, it's a canonical part of the underground narrative - and if you've spent any amount of time scrubbing through grubby lo-fi ambient records or Southern rap mixtapes, chances are you've already heard a lot of it.
A fantastical forest of ornate and uncanny instrumentation feature on prolific sound alchemist Piotr Kurek’s stunning new album, commissioned, curated and now issued by Unsound’s label division. It’s a sprawling, instrumental delight, overgrown with harp, woodwind and glassy FM bells, essential listening if you're into anything from Martyna Basta and Wojciech Rusin to Talk Talk or Pharoah Sanders.
Piotr Kurek's last album 'Peach Blossom' wowed us with its scientific (and charmingly absurd) study of the human voice. On 'Smartwoods', he opts for a far more painterly blend of baroque, early music, jazz and subtle, dreamworld electronics. Gradually, Kurek creates a contemporary fairytale; building imposing, but alluring ecosystems where natural and computer generated organisms happily coexist. It’s like a cunningly cerebral soundtrack to an AI-assisted Disney movie, hiding its wiring in thickets of familiar but enigmatic musical bracken.
Collaborating with harpist Anna Pašic, woodwind player Tomasz Duda and bassist Wojtek Traczyk, Kurek plays electric guitar and keyboards, mimicking Duda's seductive clarinet, sax and flute puffs with MIDI woodwind instruments. It's not entirely obvious which sounds come from where; Kurek's digital processes are clandestine, teasing the notes rather than blotting them out - a harp twang stretched out for longer than it should, or slapped into a screwed echo, or peculiar, rubbery vocals that appear so fleetingly you wonder if they were even there at all.
Kurek's skill lies in his ability to gently screw with familiar motifs in a way that’s hard to identify, so the music on ‘Smartwoods’ is ostensibly as lush as Pharoah Sanders in full bloom, and as evocative and quietly complex as Talk Talk’s ’Sprit of Eden’s improvised passages, sprouting ornate instrumental flourishes that only reveal their artificial components if you listen extremely closely. Here, double bass can suddenly wind through celestial harps, electrified horns bleat an unexpected punctuation, and ingenious digital sound design tears through time without leaving much more than the tiniest temporal ripple.
The third album from Brazilian auteur and Caetano Veloso collaborator Ricardo Dias Gomes is sunny, psychedelic and celebratory, focused on Gomes' dreamy voice and lilting samba rhythms.
Recorded after Gomes relocated from Rio de Janeiro to Lisbon, 'Muito Sol' is the veteran performer's most experimental album yet, interspersing its songs with bubbling modular freakouts and doomy, distorted drones. The record was put together with an incredible cast of players, including Jeremy Gustin on drums, Julian Desprez on guitar and the great Shahzad Ismaily on synths, but it's Gomes' voice that's the main draw here. After the atmospheric psych freakout of the opening track, Gomez's airy tones appear on the gorgeous 'Morrerei Por Isso', lifting us into the clouds. These songs would be remarkable even without the additional instrumentation and unusual production choices, but Gomes sounds more comfortable taking the road less traveled, puncturing his songs with distortion and electricity.
Then there's moments like 'Fllow', that sounds like a krautrock bassline being tossed around in a washing machine. On their own these tracks might sound like an odd diversion, but they're the backbone of 'Muito Sol', giving extra weight to Gomez's more traditional compositions. So 'Um Dia' is softly-spoken and charming - think Veloso, but also Broadcast - and 'Com 6 Anos' is a skeletal take on the bossa groove, while 'Menos' erupts mid-way through with growling oscillators and a low-slung rhythm. 'Meditative Mode' is even more impressive, ducking Gomez's vocals underneath shimmering pads and reverb-laced horns. Sci-fi bossa, anyone? Great stuff.
Dreamy mid ‘90s trip-pop reflux by Berlin-based A.S.O., the duo of Naarm’s Lewis Day aka Tornado Wallace and Alia Seror-O’Neill - toeing the finest line between ‘The Beach’ OST and chilled charmers somewhere between All Saints, Sneaker Pimps, Hydroplane, Hysterical Love Project, Dubstar, Spooncurve, Lana.
The duo’s self-titled debut album arrives after a tentative start in late ’22 with ‘Go On’, which opens this full length with a clear indication of their mood and influences. Alia’s opiated vocals are dry iced over a slurred amen break, setting up a faithfully downbeat sequence that sashays in the long shadow of ‘80s-into-‘90s styles that prevails over 2020’s imaginations.
They strike a fine seam of urbane ennui in ‘My Baby’s Got it out for Me’, knitting in wavy trills on ‘Rain Down’ and effortlessly glyding like Bullion & Laura Groves’ pop-not-slop on ‘Love In The Darkness’. There are clear echoes of Portishead’s uneasy listening on ‘True’, and the sort of stuff that recalls Aussie teen drama soundtracks via ‘The Beach’ score on ‘Falling Under’, with vintage touches of St. Etienne suss in ‘Thinking’ and a flyaway flourish ‘Somebody’ that wraps it up with a sugar-lipped kiss-off.
Strong, memorable stuff.
Compiling the first 3 albums in the 'Everywhere At The End Of Time' series - two and a half hours long, each album reveals new points of progression, loss and disintegration, progressively falling further and further towards the abyss of complete memory loss and nothingness...
Embarking on the Caretaker’s final journey with the familiar vernacular of abraded shellac 78s and their ghostly waltzes to emulate the entropic effect of a mind becoming detached from everyone else’s sense of reality and coming to terms with their own, altered, and ever more elusive sense of ontology.
The series aims to enlighten our understanding of dementia by breaking it down into a series of stages that provide a haunting guide to its progression, deterioration and disintegration and the way that people experience it according to a range of impending factors.
In other words, Everywhere At The End of Time probes some of the most important questions about modern music’s place in a world that’s increasingly haunted or even choked by the tightening noose of feedback loops of influence; perceptibly questioning the value of old memories as opposed to the creation of new ones, and, likewise the fidelity of those musical memories which remain, and whether we can properly recollect them from the mire of our faulty memory banks without the luxury of choice
Lawrence English rummages down the back of Room 40’s sofa and discovers an endearingly gonzoid session featuring him on drums in 2009 with Tenniscoats’ Saya & Ueno in Hobart, Tasmania
“Lawrence English: When I was preparing the 15th anniversary re-issue of Totemo Aimasho I spent a few days doing a deep dive through the room40 archive. There’s a hell of a lot of material that has been collected over the years, and truth be told I don’t exactly remember a lot of it. About a day into this search, I came across this recording. Tasmania Bootleg was recorded on Sunday the 15th of February 2009, at The Brisbane Hotel in Hobart. The visit to Hobart came about pretty last minute, so my email chain from the time seems to suggest.
I’d invited Tenniscoats down to Australia to help celebrate the finale of the Fabrique seres I was curating at Brisbane Powerhouse. Some folks from Hobart reached out once the other tour dates were announced and then before we knew it, we were headed there. As part of the Hobart visit we recorded a suite of material using the same ‘field recording’ style we used to create Temporacha in Tokyo the previous year. We also took the chance to record the show at The Brisbane Hotel.
This recording is 100% bootleg territory. I must confess to being a huge fan of this style of recording. I was an enormous cassette trader back in my teen years and I put down a lot of my interests in texture and noise to the quality of duplicated bootlegs I listened to back then. This recording was made in the audience by a friendly local and is an entirely faithful capture of the atmosphere that surrounded Tenniscoats during this time. You can literally hear the audience becoming completely entranced by Saya and Ueno’s performance. I was honoured to play alongside them for this show. It’s not something I talk about much, but my first life in music was as a drummer and a flicker of that life is captured here.
The edition also comes with a digital phonebook, containing photos in 110 and other formats, that were captured in Tasmania during that time.”
Lisbon pianist João “Shela” Pereira presents pleasingly gonzoid recordings of her practice, with the sound of TV in the background and slow breathing included for intimate, even haunting, daydreamy appeal akin to Korea Undok Group or Ernest Hood pieces
“A scrapbook of recordings from the heart... Piano TV is a compendium of spontaneous notes of ideas on the piano, to the rhythm of a television set in the background... these are scraps of expression in a form of dirty bucolic sketches aspiring to a hypothetical larger, washed, pristine composition... they live best as an hypothesis, an aspiration, in infinity...
Because life is dirty, imperfect and real, it is this reality that allows us to taste the sublime, and the sublime can be found in these WhatsApp recordings.”
Really feeling this debut slab of screwed dub-punk-rap steez by an incognito figure who reminds us of everyone from Dean Blunt to Rat Heart/MJB, Lord Tusk and Thomas Bush
Seemingly hailing from outta nowhere (but something to do with London), ‘Lonely Eyes’ lays down a whole vibe across a dozen slo-mo and stepping screwballs built for those who like it dead slompy. It’s anyone’s guess as to their identity, or if it is even someone we already know, but either way they’ve evidently got a handle on this sound, hustling bits of digi-dub, DIY beat crud and drowsy vocals into druggy ditties about life, death and dub.
With nothing overpolished or overthought, they keep everything satisfyingly lowkey on a hoods-up skulk between the patently Dean Blunt-Spooled pressure of ‘I Smell Blood’ and the guttural ‘Krunk’. The wormy stepper ‘Move Like Dis’ and ‘talk of the Town’ parallel Lord Tusk & John T. Gast gems with its spongiform subs and zooted splutter, and a core highlight ‘death Hymn’ could almost be a stray Lolina work, while ‘Krunk (Woody’s Flute Mix)’ takes the set to its smokiest point. We’re a real sucker for those rusted 808 cowbells and slurred subs that underline the midnight chords of ‘Lost in the Dark’, and also the woozy Prince inflections that open up ‘Slum Funk’ and its Andy Stott-esque ruffcut drums, with a wicked piece of reticulated tresillo rhythm in ‘Terkos’, and the MJB meets BZMC flexor ‘An Poem’ sealing the seal for one you don’t want to nap on.