A masterclass in modern folk-techno fusion, pitting Acholi fiddle virtuoso Ocen in the turbulent yet disciplined computer matrices of Rian Treanor with jaw-dropping effect for East African powerhouse, NNT
Uganda meets UK in devilishly ingenious style on ‘Saccades’, the long-in-the-works result of Rian Treanor’s 2018 residency at Nyege Nyege Tapes’ Kampala-based studio incubator. Thousands of miles from his Rotherham home, Rian forged a vital creative kinship with Acholi fiddle player Ocen James, using physical modelling software techniques to create a virtual instrument based around the tunings of the a’dungu, an arched harp, as well as the nah or nag, that allowed Rian to “jam” with Ocen’s rigi rigi, a single string violin.
Under a title that ideally sums up the rapid, rhythmelodic flux of their pointillist percussion, plucks and strokes, ‘Saccades’ throws down some of the most exhilarating outernational treks of recent times. Within a system allowing for Rian to react in real time to Ocen’s expressive chops, they play off each other in utterly beguiling styles that effectively bridge ancient Nilotic tradition with up-to-the-second computer muzik, via free jazz and deep fwd club tekkerz.
Across 9 original zingers, and a surprisingly straight-played Farmers Manual remix, Rian & Ocen harness a scintillating rhythmic energy and ingenuity, diffracting tradition into modernity between the cluttering polyrhythms of ‘Bunga Bule’ and dusk-hailing soundscape of ‘Casascade’, with properly thrilling results in the needlepoint stepper ’Tiyo Ki’, and creakiest free jazz on ‘As It Happens’, plus whorls of iridescent folk-techno futurism in ‘The Dead Centre’ and ‘Agoya’ sequenced beside more haunting use of curdled timbres on ‘Memory Pressure’, or rowdy ceilidh-like party music in ‘Rigi Rigi’.
We were lucky enough to witness an early live iteration of this improvised jam on stage at NNT’s 2018 festival, and can now marvel at the finished product; a radically fluid fusion of what were previously, mutually exclusive styles, projecting the historic, systems-based examples of David Behrman, or indeed Mark Fell’s algorithmic duets with instrumentalists, to the centre of the dancefloor. No hype, it’s simply the best record we’ve heard from Rian or Ocen - a new high water mark of cross-cultural collaboration that makes our head top fizzy as fuck.
Crown prince of the Manc dance, Chunky throws down the first sign of loooong-anticipated debut album, ‘Someone’s Child’ due on Floating Points & Alexander Nut’s Eglo.
Shiver my timbers this is shit hot!!! The Zimbabwe-born, Manc-raised rapper/producer tends to the roots and branches of his sound with utterly inimitable results, pairing biographical bars with a unique brand of playfully grimy, post-dubstep UKG swang cemented in Afro-rhythmic nous.
Surely the only artist in his field who can ride rhythms by A Certain Ratio as adeptly as sets from Loefah or Hessle Audio, his steez is just peerless in ‘Dancin' On Tables’ as he reflects on shotting, his mother, and school days - lyrically conscious but not overbearing - and switching up the flow and cadence between singjay, drill, fast-chat and pure Manc swag every 32 bars. Then there’s his production, bare-bones but with proper subbass tremors and wavey hook that buries itself in the memory. Judging by the strength of this one, we could be on for an instant classic in the full LP package.
On the cover: Meredith Monk: In the wake of a career-spanning box set the multidisciplinary artist discusses a lifetime of connection and communication. By Emily Bick.
Inside this issue:
Barbara Dane: The US folk/blues/jazz musician and activist details eight decades of anticapitalist agitation in a new memoir. By Emily Pothast.
Ocen James: The Ugandan Acholi fiddler talks electronic collaborations and riotous wedding jams. By Daniel Spicer.
Invisible Jukebox: aya: Will The Wire’s mystery record selection be poetry to the ears of the UK DJ, producer and vocal artist? Tested by Meg Woof.
Unlimited Editions: Fox & His Friends. By Antonio Poscic.
Unofficial Channels: The Bristol Germ. By Noel Gardner.
Mark Jenkin: The Enys Men director explores Cornwall’s hidden reverse. By Spenser Tomson.
Zaliva-D: Explosive electronics from the Beijing duo. By James Gui.
Territorial Gobbing: Leeds noisenik Theo Gowans cobbles it together. By Abi Bliss.
Jacqueline Nova: Opening the Colombian composer’s archive. By Louise Gray.
Global Ear: Kansai: Fantasy and future unite in southern central Japan. By Miranda Remington
The Inner Sleeve: Audrey Chen on Nakatani-Chen Duo’s LIMN
Epiphanies: The Raincoats’ Gina Birch on a pivotal encounter with The Slits
Print Run: Assembling A Black Counter Culture by DeForrest Brown, Jr; From Scratch: Albanian Summer Picaresque edited by Pykë-Presje; The Williamsburg Avant-Garde: Experimental Music And Sound On The Brooklyn Waterfront by Cisco Bradley; dublab: Future Roots Radio edited by Mark ‘Frosty’ McNeill & Jeremiah Chiu; No Machos Or Pop Stars: When The Leeds Art Experiment Went Punk by Gavin Butt; The Bebop Scene In London’s Soho, 1945–1950 by Ray Kinsella
On Screen: Tim Mackenzie-Smith Getting It Back: The Story Of Cymande; Michelle Heighway Energy: A Documentary About Damo Suzuki
On Location: X100, Berlin, Germany; Slanted! Enchanted! A Pavement Musical, New York, US; Eartheater, Los Angeles, US; Underground Institute Festival, Berlin, Germany; Maarja Nuut + ASUNA, Tokyo, Japan; UNFURL, Sydney, Australia; OORtreders, Neerpelt, Belgium; We Jazz Festival, Helsinki, Finland; HCMF, Huddersfield, UK; Decibel New Music Ensemble, London, UK; Valentina Magaletti Residency, London, UK; Wilbury Radio, Letchworth Garden City, UK
On Site: Shinro Ohtake; The Horror Show! A Twisted Tale Of Modern Britain
Soundcheck: Chris Abrahams, ACA, Algiers, Dewa Alit & Gamelan Salukat, Alvarezz, The Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Nick Ashwood, Backxwash, Meg Baird, Bardo Todol & Robert Millis, Jeb Bishop/Pandelis Karayorgis/Damon Smith, Patricia Brennan, John Cale, Calsutmoran, Christina Carter, Hannibal Chew III, Climax Golden Twins, Mike Cooper, Vladislav Delay, Delivery Health, Alliyah Enyo, Angelo M Farro, Avram Fefer/Marc Ribot/Eric Revis/Chad Taylor, Jürg Frey, GAHLMM, Ben LaMar Gay, Graham/Bishop/Karayorgis/McBride/Osgood, Kay Grant & Daniel Thompson, Keiji Haino/Jim O’Rourke/Oren Ambarchi, Hammered Hulls, Manga Saint Hilare, Martin Iddon, In Weather, Mark Jenkin, Pandelis Karayorgis/Nate McBride/Luther Gray, Uri Katzenstein, Kelela, Jussi Lehtisalo, Kali Malone featuring Stephen O’Malley & Lucy Railton, Lionel Marchetti & Decibel, Dan McCarthy, Joe McPhee & Tomeka Reid, The Necks, Negativland, Nighte, numün, Ivo Perelman, Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp, Ivo Perelman & Joe Morris, Richard Pinhas & Merzbow, Pole, Pulverize The Sound, Ruhail Qaisar, Reading Music, Ishmael Reed, Tomeka Reid & Fred Lonberg-Holm, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Rebecca Saunders, Shovel Dance Collective, John Smith, Snøgg, Soulside, Suss, Tamarisk, Truemendous, Alexander Tucker & Keith Collins, Eli Wallace, Drew Wesely, Wolf Eyes, Christian Wolff & String Noise, Loula Yorke
The Boomerang: Beauty Pill, Butchamana & The Big Bang Brothers Band, Chris Capers & Joe Rigby, Joe Rigby & Chris Capers, Codeine, Grupo Um, Jill Kroesen, Laraaji, The Maglory Dengluch, People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz, PG Six, The Pyramids, Rex, Jody Stecher & Krishna Bhatt, Marvin Tate’s D-Settlement, White Heaven, Various The 12th Annual International Sound Poetry Festival, Various Instant This/Instant That: NY NY 1978–1985
AUDINT affiliate Eleni Ikoniadou helms this fascinating treatise on the voice in Western culture, featuring versions from AGF, Chino Amobi, Harrga, Lafawndah & Trustfall, Savvas Metaxas, - RIYL Kode 9, Otolith Group, GRM sound poetry
“In Western culture, voice without speech is irrational and dangerous. Both in myth and history, those voices must be contained or prohibited because of the threat they pose to the social order. Female, animal, artificial and inanimate voices, lamenting, screaming, dreaming, mumbling. Fugitive voices, entangled in a parallel ‘nonhuman history’ devise a chorus yet to come.
Future Chorus is based on a collection of readings, spoken word, nonlinguistic sound, poetry, MCing, cello and animal sounds — made by Abbas Zahedi, AGF, Elaine Mitchener, Eleni Ikoniadou, Jordan Edge, Joshua Leon, Lunatraktors, Ruth McGill, Sukitoa O Namau and Viki Steiri. The material was combined with machine learning processes — by Mohab Tarek — for the artificial generation of a new voice speaking a nonhuman language. The vocal database and AI voice became the raw material for five remixes — by AGF, Chino Amobi, Harrga, Savvas Metaxas, Trustfall and Lafawndah.
This release is a collaboration between Hypermedium and MAENADS. Created by Eleni Ikoniadou in collaboration with Anne Duffau and Aphroditi Psarra, MAENADS is a platform for collective projects, sonic, visual, performative or text-based, unleashing works that seek to inhabit polyphonic narratives, other worlds and subjectivities, group joy.”
NTS DJ, label boss and fabled collector Howard Williams lands on DDS with an etheric communique under his Japan Blues moniker, inspired by early C.20th Min'yō folk and avant-dub, richly spirited with field recordings and ghostly ephemera.
Six years since his debut Japan Blues album ‘Sells His Record Collection’, Williams is back - and it’s been worth the wait. Based around enka and minyo recordings made with London based singer Akari Mochizuki and Tsugaru shamisen master Hibiki Ichikawa at London’s Earthworks studio back in 2018, Williams adds field recordings made while traveling through Japan, inviting The Dengie Hundred to co-produce, bringing his own sound worlds into the mix.
The two spent several months shuttling ideas back and forth, processing mixes and adding environmental recordings, like snatched penny whistle melodies or the familiar whirr of an extractor fan. Singer Tamami Pearl is the final piece of the puzzle, providing an almost imperceptibly breathy aura to proceedings. The obsessively researched archivist’s resolve is still very much present, but the processing style and overall sound here is more faded than the Japan Blues of yore, transmuting discernible sounds into magickal textures that boil and bubble until all that’s left is vapour.
On 'Sazanka, Hokkai Bon Uta', Japanese vocals are dubbed into bare syllables, juxtaposed with flute improvisations and muddy whirrs. Eventually, the instrumental elements turn to noise, like some shortwave radio transmission slowly falling out of range. Environmental sounds become uneven, clunking percussive currents offer a sort of dream logic, morphing into faint choirs. In the final third, Williams pulls away the veil almost entirely.
The album's most compelling section is the side-long 'Soran, AIzu Bandai-San, Shimabara Lullaby'. If you've heard Robert Turman's 1981 album "Flux" - a reel-to-reel recorded slo-mo kalimba and piano masterpiece - you'll have an idea of how this one rolls. Williams and The Dengie Hundred work into the source material like modelling clay, dubbing and distorting shamisen twangs and echoing vocals into half-speed, dissociated dream visions.
It's not Ambient by any means, but there are undoubtedly traces of Brian Eno's earliest, most crucial experiments. It's not Folk music either, but Williams' deep obsession with Japanese traditions allows him to integrate sounds holistically, provoking a conversation rather than simply cherry picking aesthetic decorations. He works like a dedicated DJ, giving The Dengie Hundred room to tweak the spaces in-between. Together, they create an atmosphere that's fiendishly hard to put into words, and even harder to forget.
If you're into tape-damaged industrial experiments (think Skaters, Spencer Clark, Aaron Dilloway et al), the surrealist global exploration of labels like Stroom, or simply after a new perspective on Japanese folkways, "Japan Blues Meets The Dengie Hundred" is unmissable.
Paul Dickow’s mutant dub project steps into its 3rd decade with a batch of free-handed electro-dub-noise on Oakland’s Constellation Tatsu after turns on more labels than we can count since 2001
After leaving his mark everywhere from Kranky to Entr’acte and Idle Hands over the decades, Strategy’s umpteenth album sprays six permutations of cruddy dub electronics smeared with FX in a style and pattern that’s served him well.
We advise looking for the hypnotic dub-disco-house skudj of ‘Daydream Space Graffiti’ or the lilting bump of ‘In Space No One Can See Your Scream’, which is recalling that class Post rework of Grace Jones from Skam 400, if you have a club to budge. But the general vibe is more built for gouching out and getting faded, as encouraged from the gauzy skank of ‘Remote Dub’ thru the empty-belly echo chamber dubbing of ‘Fountain of Youth’, to its most sublime points on ‘Message from Ouroboros’ or ‘Surface Worlds’.
Kelman Duran introduces LA’s Holodec to his Scorpio Red label with a sick debut album of flickering R&B torchsongs and ambient trap-soul that aches in a very special way. A massive RIYL Dawuna, Burial, Junior Boys, MssingNo, claire rousay, Joy O, Triad God, Sampha…
The smouldering ’All Dogs Come From Wolves’ is a definitive statement by a quietly gifted artist who operates inside the long shadow of late ‘90s US R&B and the space where it intersects ambient, neo-classical, and the weightless bass interzones of contemporary UK club music. Bare boned and bathed in a dusky Californian half-light, the album’s 11 songs feel unnervingly stark yet full of tongue-tip sensuality, making a virtue of negative space and atmosphere with a lo-fi soundtrack-like quality that evokes the idea of nostalgic reflection as the route to the future; “a reminder to look to the past to remember where you’re from, to see where you’re going.”
Holodec's been assembling rugged dancefloor constructions for years now, teetering between 2-step, jungle, nu-rnb, and vaporous ambient forms, but rarely has he been as pointed or full-bodied as he is on ‘All Dogs Come From Wolves’. It's an album that can't possibly be cleaved from the place where it comes from, documenting LA's immigrant experience (Holodec is Asian-American), and finding thematic common ground with Space Afrika's "Honest Labour", absorbing prismatic reflections of footwork, rnb and hip-hop instead of trip-hop and dub techno.
Holodec croons soulfully over muted piano motifs on 'Tiles', evoking the spirit of Sampha or Dawuna, but with a gaseous glamor that's unmistakably Californian. The mood carries into 'The Wild', utilising wistful pads and saturated noise but refusing to let his music sink into the background. If you feel yourself drifting, there's inevitably a voice, a womp, or a stifled drum sound to drag you back into its presence. 'Bounce' is rhythmically heavy, but still somehow smudged around the edges; beats don't so much pump as fray, the closer you listen the more you hear it falling out of time and just out of space. It's more like a memory of neon-hued dance forms than a replication of the thing itself.
Even at the album’s rudest, the flinty jungle drums of ‘Black Market’ still remain desiccated, just out-of-reach, suggesting not telling, in a way that makes the album’s other highlights such as the vaporous R&B voice note of ‘And My Angel Dies Too’ or the shivering baroque figures of ‘Spirit’ so unusually seductive with their nuanced grasp of inference and a reserve of humility.
Gonzo sound art spanners by persistent UK avant-gardist Adam Bohman, typically dipping into his tranche of observational ’80s “talking tapes”, but also sporting works dating to the ‘90s and ‘00s - RIYL Graham Lambkin, Mark Harwood, William S. Burroughs, Uri Katzenstein, V/Vm, Cosmic Dennis Greenidge, Trevor Wishart
A virtuoso example of locating poetry in the prosaic, ‘Music And Words 3’, like the preceding volumes, revolves armfuls of domestic DIY dictaphone recordings rubbing shoulders with janky songcraft, and butting against improvised instrumentals made on his custom-built sound objets. Each of the 24 works captures a curious energy or ephemeral line of thought in-the-moment, ranging from almost voyeuristic voice notes to droll descriptions of everyday ludicrousness and surreality, and hopping between hacked pause-button collages of found media(TV and charity shop/bargain bin vinyl) and documentarian jams of dadaist daftness extracted from life lived in England’s south east.
Not po-faced, there’s a palpable sense of a quintessentially english eccentric at work here, abundant between his feedback experiments with hearing aids or literal evocations of ‘Melancholic Alcoholic’, thru to lyrics about “Steve Davis sucking out your cum / you can have Fatima Whitbread sucking on your feet” like some errant V/Vm novelty session on the genuinely effed up and hilarious ‘Foster’s Champions’, or multiple parts describing days out, sights seen, in Brighton or Clacton-on-Sea. Aye, it’s properly wigged out, but in an understated, odd but charming bloke-next-door, rather than woah hark at me, style.
Glam to country, psych blues and motorik railroad rock - cult Chicago act Glyders do it all with classic panache and roadhouse sleaze on Country Thyme, a young sublabel of Drag City
Practically smelling like a backwater record retailer or thrift shop, ‘Maria’s Hunt’ picks up a lost strain of Chicago rock ’n roll and runs against the contemporary grain into a parallel timeline where this stuff never stopped playing under fizzing neon lights to Bud Lite-cuddling, sherm-huffing dudes.
Impeccably styled and executed, the results are properly infectious form the Bolan-esque hip roll of ‘High Time’ to its come down on the buzzing strum of ’Shoreline (Reprise)’. There’s nice ’n easy country sway flush with slide guitar for the slow dance in ‘Wrong Sometimes Right’, hustled next to the heads-down glam rock swag of ‘Geneva Strangemod’ and the sort of melancholic songcraft that can be found on the killer ‘Ghost Riders’ compilation in the LP’s title tune or ‘Can’t Beat The Heat’.
hey keep it mellow but motorik on ‘Golden Hour’ and the psych blues stride of ‘Inbound/Outbound’, and back on the glam stride with ‘Smooth Walker’ for the sort of record one could easily mistake for a lost-and-found private press grail.
Brand new project from Radian/Trapist's Martin Siewert, pianist Georg Graewe, and Dieter Kern of DEK Trio. It's jazz, sorta, but not as we know it - if you're into Radian, Giuseppe Ielasi or 3/4HadBeenEliminated, this one's worth a look.
With Siewert on guitar and electronics, Graewe on organ and Kern on drums, Austrian improv-experimental trio Dry Thrust get off to a solid start on "The Less You Sleep". All three players are experienced, and all three know exactly what they're capable of - their experimentation is then less an expression of skill and training, and more of a joyful examination of what might be possible from a project of this kind. Graewe's background is in orchestra work, including movie scores, and this band is one of the rare occasions he plays organ. It's a revelation, with his jazzy twinkles leading many of the improvisations, adding sugar to Kern's skittering drums and Siewert's grizzled guitar growls.
But "The Less You Sleep" isn't really a jazz album, quite. 'Afterburner' sounds more like Morricone-inspired soundtrack music put through an improvisational, electro-acoustic blender. Graewe's organ drones are spine-chilling, and Kern's beat forms a near march as Siewert jams into the distance. On 'Wet Engine' meanwhile, the band erupts into a fanciful prog-rawk explosion, and each instrument blooms into the ur-version of itself. It's unexpected after so many tracks of latent energetic build-up, but it's welcome.
Cong Burn's John Howes looks to the mid-2000s for his Paperclip Minimiser debut, building an era-specific studio and using it to unfurl ambient experiments that split the difference between Chain Reaction, Mille Plateaux, and Schematic.
Using a Nord Modular G2, an Elektron Machinedrum, and a Monomachine, John Howes has built an “authentic” 2006 studio to serve as the engine for his Paperclip Minimiser project. The Manchester mainstay has maintained a solid presence over the last decade, not least via his Cong Burn imprint that's issued lysergic material from fringe dancefloor operators like Flaty, BFTT, Chekov, Lack, and of course Howes himself. Howes has also used the label to distribute his innovative sequencing software - a way of composing electronic music intended to wrench adventurous producers out of soulless DAW monotony. He employs some of these methods on his self-titled Paperclip Minimiser debut, assembling generative patches that are then forced into some level of malfunction to create unpredictable ghosts in the machine. The resulting material is familiar given its sound/era-specific studio setup, but driven by a wholly different energy.
It's perfect gear for the Peak Oil imprint that sits comfortably alongside releases from Topdown Dialectic, Leech, and Strategy, but while Howes' productions are steeped in similar influences, he aims for more abstracted results, hitting into the kind of blissful minimal pseudo-algorithmic repetition that SND made their calling card back in the Mille Plateaux era. Howes' tracks aren't quite as purposefully cold, but they're purposefully cyclic and mind-bending, suggesting Chain Reaction's technoid dub but not exactly repeating it. Rhythms wind and jam, controlled by malfunctioning technology. it's dance music that wholeheartedly references classic techno, but Howes is careful to never clomp a muddy boot into anything as crass as a uniform beat.
If you wanna hear what Phoenicia, Special Guest DJ, Serwed, and T++ would sound like pulverised in a blender, Paperclip Minimiser might be just the thing.
Kerala-based multi-instrumentalist, engineer, curator and visual artist Seljuk Rustum lays his practice bare on "Cardboard Castles", a collaborative record that winds between ideas and instruments, reflecting on the musical limitations of freedom. Playful, evocative music.
Recorded between 2016 and 2021 in Rustum's Kochi studio, the album's tracks are mostly improvised, single-take recordings that capture the energy between Rustum and his collaborators. Musicians would roll through the studio, and Rustum would invite them to improvise with him and share their ideas - instruments would rotate and styles would be as ephemeral as emotions. Rustum's background is in painting, and he's the founder and creative director of Forplay Society, a performance space in Kochi. A self-taught musician, he plays synth, saxophone, guitar, and percussion, and is a member of various bands and part of a wide-ranging collective of artists. He's worked throughout India, and has collaborated with artists as varied as Senyawa, Eiko Ishibashi, Otomo Yoshihide, and Pisitakun, and all this experience is channeled into the sounds on "Cardboard Castles".
The warmth of Rustum's process is immediately evident on 'Body Of A Dolphin, Breasts Of A Cloud', a delicate track that features Rustum's delicate folksy acoustic guitar playing over cinematic swoops from the Cochin String Orchestra. On 'Desi Bunny', he takes recordings from the Alan Lomax Archive that document Kerala's Malayam language and layers percussion and synthesizer elements, and on 'Sometimes I Sink A Thousand Centuries', Rustum duets on piano with violinist Sekhar Sudhir, adding his evocative voice as an additional texture. The title track is particularly impressive, an experimental jam that combines glitchy electronics with playful piano melodies and deep bass. There's no stone left unturned here, and Rustum's evident joy permeates every note.
Marking 10 years in the game, Ecstatic compile a haul of exclusive new cuts from familiar faces and newcomers alike, on a limited edition tape released to coincide with label parties at Cafe Oto in London and The White Hotel in Salford next week.
‘Catch Feelings’ marks a decade and some 100 releases in the game with a treasure chest featuring label stalwarts Romance, Celestial, Spivak, Felisha Ledesma (appearing here with Angelo Harmsworth) as well as label owners Not Waving & Primitive World, alongside new faces Raw Deal, Horses, ’93 Til Infinity and ICARUS.
The label hit its strongest run of form these last 12 months - albums from Romance, Dean Hurley, Cucina Povera & Ben Vince all featuring among our favourite music of 2022 - so this glimpse at things to come opens their 2023 with much promise. Strongest of all is perhaps Not Waving’s blushing vaporwave beauty ‘Liberasi’, including a spine-tingling Saxophone coda, while Romance unveils yet another immaculately screwed inversion ‘I Close My Eyes’ into their pool of gleaming memories. Spivak’s slow-slugging ‘Overnight’ gets right under the skin with its slow strobe dream sequence woooze, and Felisha Ledesma’s iridescent ambient alloy with Angelo Harmsworth ’Silver Washed’ is pure ambient bliss.
From the new lot; Raw Deal deploy the sickest UKG x neon light atmospherics, 93 ’Til Infinity flip a strung-out, Basinski-esque inversion of a hip hop classic, Horses go porchside with a midnight Takoma special, and ICARUS loop a Bill Evans sample into the blue-est lament.
In all, 40 minutes of supremely evocative music from one of the best labels around right now, a strong prompt to go catch them at The White Hotel (Thursday, 26th January) or Cafe Oto (Friday, 27th January) , as well as a sturdy primer on what to expect from them in the coming year.
Levitational hypnagogic aether-pop from Bianca Scout, who follows impressive collaborations with Space Afrika, Ben Vince, and Elena Isolini with a spellbinding compound of narcotic chorals, blunted after-hours ambience, and chopped-n-screwed sacred music. RIYL Grouper, Empress, Teresa Winter, Mhysa.
The best clue to unraveling Bianca Scout's latest album is her brilliant - and bizarrely under-heard - 2020 EP Elemental Figures. While her previous records had fixated on that beguiling voice and her dark, dreamworld interpretations of pop, this short experiment, billed as a proposed ballet score, dissolved carved-up classical fragments and church music into gaseous, half-heard memories. 'The Heart of the Anchoress' picks up these diaristic excerpts and twists them into a dissociated long-form narrative characterized by blank-voiced vocal murmurs, spiraling lullabies and strained, painful rhythms. The album emerged from a recording session at Camberwell's St. Giles' Church, where Scout was able to record not just the historical building's famous pipe organ, but the chaotic south London ambiance that adds both texture and a faint, rattling percussion to each track.
In a cultural landscape trapped in a nostalgia loop, but it's refreshing to hear an artist make distinctly British music that's haunted without being hauntological. Scout avoids the most obvious references, opting to tarnish more distant pasts with a musical vocabulary that's as informed by contemporary pop as it is experimental forms. In her hands, Medieval church music is a color that compliments AutoTuned vocals, wobbly afterhours bass drones, and cultural references to a lifestyle that's rooted in the post-pan reality. 'The Heart of the Anchoress' is a folk album that feels philosophically lashed to the club, yet makes none of the usual broad strokes it takes to get our minds there.
On opener 'Empty Space', detuned plucks, organ wails and pedal bumps pierce the room's palpable shape, giving way to rotating foley rhythms that sound like an inverse 4/4. Is there a kick drum? Or is it a cable being pulled from an amplifier? Loose beats collide with each other like derailed trains, and Scout's choral vocals swirl into intense sheet noise. 'Vanguard' extends these ideas further, looping wooden clatters as a foundation for wavering organ drones and Scout's unforgettable vocal turn, that puts her somewhere between Empress's Nicola Hodgkinson and Eartheater, flitting from dry British nonchalance to hyperdream poptimism seamlessly.
But it's her more low-key moments that stand out for us: 'Chorus' and 'Lamina' shuttle Scout's vocals into the background, submerging them in reverb and echo. The latter dispenses with them almost entirely, foregrounding nauseous organ oozes that build into a fervent crescendo. Elsewhere, Scout embodies the folk whispers that run throughout the album on 'Phantom Limb', wailing an uncannily beautiful song that materializes like mists on a bronze age burial mound. And while so many contemporary artists are more than happy to look into the past simply for decoration, Scout sounds as if she's channeling spirits that control her, contort her, and traumatize her. 'The Heart of the Anchoress' is melancholy and euphoric, angry and ecstatic - its an album that fits the mood of the here and now, as we wonder whether to lose ourselves in digital confusion or escape into a past that's deep, dark, and druidic.
John Cale's eagerly-awaited seventeenth (!) studio album features Actress, Laurel Halo, Weyes Blood, Tony Allen, Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Dev Hynes, Sylvan Esso, Tei Shi and Fat White Family. It's not bad at all, either.
It doesn't take long for "MERCY" to hit us right in the boomies. The album's opening, title track was produced by none other than Laurel Halo, who spices up Cale's blood-curdling wails with tense acidic squelches, electric piano keys and muted drums. As if this wasn't enough already, Actress steps up next - Darren Cunningham and John Cale together at last? Who'd believe it? Cale is fully in Cunningham's world too, humming and moaning underneath whooshing pads and chilly, echoing electronic pings. Honestly if Laurel Halo and Actress had produced the other ten tracks we'd be screaming about this one from the rooftops but sadly, it's not Christmas yet.
Cale's solo productions are serviceable and interesting but don't quite match the promise of those early collaborations. Team-ups with Sylvan Esso, Weyes Blood, and Animal Collective are worthwhile too, but we're still cross-eyed over that Actress one. Seriously - the last minute or so is just an unsettling electro snare and Cale sounding as if he's singing in the shower? We're gonna need a full album - make it happen?!
Impressively distinctive UK club hybrids of rolling hardcore junglism, juke and dream-pop vox with clinically sharp sound design, by Bristol’s Lucy Helyer - RIYL Auco, $ombi, Sherelle
LCY’s 5th EP on her SZNS7N since 2019, and interim inclusions on Fabric mixes by Sherelle and Overmono, ‘/Y\’ is also her sickest drop yet. Bookended by two pieces of shearing cosmic synth torque, the EP’s main body sees her shapeshift between deftly breezy breakstep and cooing vocal harmonies recalling $ombi in ‘Cherubim’, to a uniquely finessed take on 2-step rave replete with hip-shot hoovers in ‘0nly 0ne’, before really stepping up the pressure with her echoes of breakbeat hardcore spliced with footwork, a la Auco, in the outstanding flex of ‘Whatitcouldbe’, and setting off the fast-fwd rufige of ‘Sacred’ with lush ambient glyde. Innovation > imitation.
Following 2016’s definitive collection of singles released by Sun Ra from across his illustrious career, Strut present the second volume of the vinyl edition on 3LP format which focus on Ra’s later 1962-1991 period.
"Released sporadically during the three decades and primarily on the Saturn label, the 45s offer one-off missives from Ra’s prolific cosmic journey, tracing the development of his forward-thinking “Space-Bop” and his unique take on jazz and blues traditions which remains unlike anything else from the period. As with the first volume vinyl editions, the collection is hugely varied, ranging from Ra’s spoken word recitations and some of his R&B recordings to alternative versions of Arkestra staples like ‘Love In Outer Space’, ‘Enlightenment’ and ‘Rocket No. 9’. The singles are also unpredictable vehicles for Ra’s music, combining different tracks from different sessions and occasionally making available music which was recorded many years beforehand.
As Francis Gooding describes them, “they are answers to questions that albums won’t answer, and questions that can’t be asked or answered elsewhere.”
As with Ra’s LPs, most 45s were only pressed in small runs and have since become extremely rare and sought after. On the volume 2 vinyl editions, we feature tracks that have only ever been seen via a small handful of copies including ‘Love In Outer Space’ b/w ‘Mayan Temple’ and ‘The Blue One’ b/w ‘Orbitration In Blue’; some were planned and pencilled but allegedly never made it to vinyl and some appeared as limited one-off magazine singles including Ra’s very last single release, the reflective ‘I Am The Instrument’.
Sleeve note writers Chris Trent and Paul Griffiths brilliantly illustrate the role of the single within Ra’s career and break down each release with detailed track by track notes. Working with Sun Ra LLC and Sun Ra archivist Michael D. Anderson, Strut has also assembled the best possible master sources for each track.
‘Singles’ Vol. 2 features fully remastered tracks, rare photos, original 45 artwork, Chris Trent sleeve notes and detailed track by track and session notes by Paul Griffiths."
French guitarist and pedal steel player Michel Henritzi teams up with Japanese sax dons Harutaka Mochizuki and Makoto Kawashima on this ragged three tracker, inspired by Austrian expressionist poet George Trakl's "Nachtlied".
'Chinmoku wa ishikure ni yadoru' is a tough album to define. Led by the extraordinary sax duo of Makoto Kawashima and Harutaka Mochizuki, with Michel Henritzi padding out the space in-between using lapsteel and guitar feedback, it's a record that feels indebted to the free improv scene but not beholden to it. Henritzi's cloudy textures provide a subtle inky backdrop for Kawashima and Mochizuki's expressive overblown alto blasts, that dip and spray like screams in the night.
Reference points might be scene originators like Anthony Braxton and Peter Brötzmann, or more recent acolytes such as Mats Gustafsson, but Kawashima and Mochizuki also touch on the frothy freewheeling noise of Les Rallizes Denudes, and Henritzi's contributions strike a chord that's not a million miles from Heather Leigh's sacred dissonance. Very nice.
A fresh, ultra-minimal version of David Bowie's "Low"-era classic 'Subterraneans' featuring Depeche Mode's Martin Gore on vocals? What's not to love?
Released in 1977, "Low" marked a departure and creative peak for Bowie, the first of the Berlin Trilogy that saw him team up with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti. Wordless closing track 'Subterraneans' was a stand-out, originally recorded for Nicholas Roeg's surreal "The Man Who Fell To Earth". Bowie later said the track was dedicated to anyone caught in East Berlin when the city was divided, and that's an element that takes on even more resonance here as it's reimagined by East German minimalist Carsten Nicolai. He's not alone either - William Basinski steps up to duplicate Bowie's memorable sax solo, and Depeche Mode's Gore handles the vocals.
Nicolai's version is a confident cover, even if it isn't a radical departure from the original. It sounds more like a tribute to a track that helped inform the direction of each artist involved, and their way of remembering the original is to subtly insert their own signature sounds into the whole. Smart and touching, it's avant-garde karaoke that's actually worth checking out.
Another anonymous head plays to a bittersweet electro-dub-noise agenda on the latest from London’s anarcho-collective, SM-LL
‘UAN0022 ‘ is one of their quieter, more reserved outings, but still elusively abstract in tone and form. It’s hard to gauge, or even unnecessary, to figure out what kit they’re using as the five tracks feel like an unattended workshop coming to life after-hours with human overseers.
Scratchy, hiccuping drums and spluttering noises congeal in what feel like eerie electro-acoustic room recordings with a mind of their own, unravelling from the claggy ephemera of ‘WAVELET 003’ thru the ghostly wheeze of ‘WAVELET 002’ and sloshing fizz of ‘WAVELET 004’ to poltergeist rattles on ‘WAVELET 005a’ and slurred drone in dub on ‘WAVELET 009’.
Moody, Beau Wanzer or Legowelt-like lo-fi techno distress signals by Falmouth’s Snake Gang, back to buck it up on Gabber Eleganza’s roving label, Never Sleep
Picking up from the darkest strains of their 2022 debut ‘Lurker’, the Cornish act draws on the sort of raw, pulsing machine music pursued by Legowelt and his ilk, plus synth-pop melody and early AFXian styles on ’Suicide Friday’. The title tune builds brooding melodies on a sort of gasping, acid darkwave jakbeat, and ‘What We Was banging’ eggs the distortion to a redlining biting point resonating AFX’s early ‘90s techno and more seething, bittersweet LFO works.
Poland's Aleksandra Słyż brings acoustic and electronic music together on her sophomore album, using modular synthesizer alongside a quartet of players to create cinematic drones inspired by 20th century spectral composers and just intonation.
A composer and sound designer who's worked on movies, art installations and for ensembles, Aleksandra Słyż is ideally placed to reshape our expectations of classical music. She's inspired by sound's energy, working with acoustic instruments - in this case violin, viola, cello and saxophone - to shift their vibrations to fit her purpose.
Słyż bends her instrumentation into droning dissonant clouds across three lengthy tracks. The most impressive is the 25-minute microtonal finale 'Softness, Flashes, Floating Rage', that illumiates her technique, curling each instrument in and out of subtle synthwork to highlight the power of tonal variation.
Paleman’s percussive instincts come to the fore on a strong debut album firming up his UK techno-bass style after showcasing his sound designer tekkerz as Fresnel Lens.
After a decade of signature, stripped down, and big-boned club pressure for the likes of Loefah’s Swamp 81 & 81 labels, and lately on his personal imprint PLMN, ‘Veiled’ cuts a singular figure of rolling bass heft and swingeing rhythms that speak to his background as a jazz drummer. Paleman resists any urge to bruk out in a very UK style of sleekly stealthy, locked-in rolige that could be fairly compared with recent Regis/CUB, Beneath or ANA label works in the current field, but with a sparing parry, shark-eyed momentum and atmospheric content he can claim as his own.
The trax mostly hew to a c.130bpm tempo, only sometimes pushing the needle over that limit, as with the industrial pound of ‘The Fell’ on a Concrete Fence flex, and the powerfully concentrated D&B motion of ‘Mandible’ that pinpoints a crucial UK reference point for so many of the best. sDJs and darkroom dancers should fill their boots with the gravelly textured thrust of ‘Bite’, the microtonal shimmer and velvet gloved bass thump of ‘Procession’, roiling Downwards techno on ‘Ravine’ and the CUB-liek ‘Whispers’, or the subaquatic rip currents of ‘Visible’.
Rhythmic hypnosis by Harmonious Thelonious on a relatively rare modern day work issued by Hamburg’s krautrock archivists Bureau B, following the excellent ‘Plong’ LP and his outernational music studies.
Always welcome in these parts, Stephan Schwander - an original Salon Des Amateurs resident alongside Vladislav Delay, Tolouse Low Trax and Lena Willikens - continues his pursuit of the perfect, minimalist groove with the infectiously efficient swang and shuffle of ‘Cheapo Sounds’. A classy lesson in rhythmic economy and maximising mesmerising potential, the 10 trax put finely picked fundamentals thru their paces with a singular traction derived from his personal understanding of what makes Pan-African, South American and Middle Eastern rhythms tick, while adhering to a classic Teutonic sense of sleek, driving motion and tangy electronic tone.
As the title implies, he cocks a snook at producers with all the gear and no idea, deploying fairly basic and unprocessed sounds in hypnotic style and pattern with proof in the pudding. Dancing around and not on the beat, the grooves unfurl from wavy Arabic disco on ‘Soft Opening Machine’ to serene echoes of Cluster in ‘Afterhour’, diffracting the momentum between his languid ‘Liquid Sound waves’ to Detlef Weinrich-esque slow and chewy swang on ‘Limitations’, and a piece recalling Carl Craig’s remix of Junior Boys in ‘M And A’, or paralleling proto-new beat in the jaunty bop ‘Gummy Twist & Crawl (Die Koffer Sind Leer)’, and adjacent Novo Line in ‘Sunglasses’.
Who had dubstep goes goth on their 2023 bingo card? Commodo defies expectations with ace elisions of mutually exclusive, moody bedfellows on a return to Black Acre
Laced with proper Sisters of Mercy-style guitars and a palette of goth horror percussive foley hailing Bauhaus, ‘Deft 1s’ heavily piques our interests on all three cuts. Infringing on aspects of Raime-into-Moin, but more explicitly rooted in dubstep, proper, he gets into it with slack-stringed bass guitar and needling SoM riffs in the title tune’s elegantly rude glyde and step, then with a whipsmart turn of Bauhaus-like drive and swagger benefiting from drily reverberant production and club bloodlust on ‘Forester’, and shores up somewhere between Danse Society, Faith No More and dankest halfstep in ‘Living Bones’. Mad one.
Sultry, glittering synth-pop and nEuro electro pearls from Amsterdam bod Interstellar Funk and Turkish artist Loradeniz on the ever reliable Artificial Dance
Toned with a lowkey sort of Lowlands élan and melancholy, ‘Never Been’ fixes up the first five collaborations between two Amsterdam residents. The dry-iced glyde of ‘Fly Me In’ feels like Chris & Cosey via Nine Circles, with a certain frosted finish ripe for midwinter that seals the deal across their pulsating electro ace ‘Freefall’ with its choral drft and chiming hooks, and thru to the classique beat-less synth gaze of ’Situational Lullaby’ and the Carpenterian sashay of ‘Lurking Orange’.
A decade on from reissue of Andrzej Korzynski’s soundtrack to cult horror ‘Possession’, Finders Keepers plunder the Polish composer’s archive for his score to another Andrzej Żuławski flick ‘The Devil’, a holy grail psych special flush with strange grooves and lysergic fuzz
“It has been exactly ten years since Finders Keepers first intrepidly entered Andrzej Korzyński’s cavernous musical vault, but it is only today that we are able to proudly announce the safe retrieval on what we consider the true heavy psych holy grail of the Polish composer’s mind-bending oeuvre. By cruel coincidence this welcome event has sadly come during the same year as the composer’s tragic passing. However, in true Korzyński style, alongside his previous Finders Keepers releases, the legacy he has left behind in this one final lost soundtrack project alone has come with musical riches beyond anyones wildest expectations.
The comprehensive elusive archive of the deeply psychedelic soundtrack to Andrzej Żuławski’s forbidden film Diabeł (The Devil) is perhaps the most detailed dossier one could wish to find – including audio sketches, rejected proposals and pre-butchered variations that play out like an intense and veritable creative conversation between the director and the maestro, both of whom are widely recognised as true mavericks of socialist-era Poland’s fertile artistic landscape. Never intended for anything as conventional as a straightforward movie tie-in promotional disc (state owned Eastern European record labels rarely did this), the music in this archive has required special forensic inspection. Let’s say the devil is in the detail. The 7” record you are now holding is more than just a companion piece, and it is far from a selection of the (non-existent) poppy title themes to promote a full feature-length album. This standalone release is wholly unique in its own right, giving Finders Keepers listeners a final access all areas snoop into the mind of one of the pillars of our alternative musical community.
As those familiar with Żuławski and Korzyński’s long-running relationship will understand (a methodology best exemplified in the schizoid soundtrack to the film Possession), their exchanges were deeply nuanced and often complicated, with lots of artistic “tennis” thrown into the mix. The key plot in this behind-the-scene fable is that after delivering his original off-kilter psychedelic score to the director, maestro Korzyński was asked to make the music “totally unique, like something from another planet”, to which Korzyński took his tapes, pulled down the vari-speed to a guttural grind and continued to recompose over the top using avant-garde electro-acoustic techniques while deploying psychedelic skills of guitarist Winicjusz Chróst. This limited record release proudly boasts Korzyński’s original uptempo awkward psychedelic pop music prior to the doom laden growls that make the official films soundtrack a true Goliath of Eastern European soundtrack composition. Which, when recontextualised, will stand as a veritable face-melter for stoner rock fans. As one of Finders Keepers deepest conquests, we are delighted to share The Devil Tape… What is a grail without the wine.”
Jonnine Standish of HTRK returns with a divine third solo release of humanist pop and ornate (im)perfection with the down-home strums and gentility of ‘Maritz’ for DJ Sundae’s Idle Press, following cult turns for our Documenting Sound series and Good Morning Tapes.
Written and recorded at home in the Dandenong Ranges outside Naarm, Australia, with a spectra of scavenged instruments, ‘Maritz’ takes its title from the maiden name of Jonnine’s mother - “the most haunted word I know” - which signifies the music’s childlike innocence and spiritual provenance, wrapped in supremely blunted azure vapors and ruff, mossy fuzz.
Using bass guitar, a broken Swiss metronome, an oddly tuned wooden stringed instrument, recorder, Halloween charm bracelets and a homemade glockenspiel found at “an abandoned highschool in the hills”, plus spare additional instrumentation from Conrad Standish, James Rushford and Maria Moles, the eight songs of ‘Maritz’ span gonzo snapshots of domestic songcraft blessed with the sort of blissful melancholy that has long made Jonnine’s work such a staple of our musical diet.
Stripped to the barest essence of vocals and animated objets, the songs float daydreamy between the unforgettable lilt + hook of ‘I Put A Thing In Your Pocket’ to a pair of gorgeous baroque dub-bops fleshed with wavey recorder-as-melodica in ‘Tea for Two (Boo)’ and ‘Portrait’, while ‘There’s Nothing There’ is the sort of delicacy that we’d imagine Audrey Horne would play in private, and the groggy recorder set to offbeat metronome in ‘Three Spider Bites’ parallels the eerieness of recent work by Jonnine’s pal Laila Sakini - pushed even further into corporeal fantasy. ‘Blissfully Unaware (of you)’, meanwhile, most closely resembles the instrumental wonder of Matt Johnson’s The The at their most emotionally blitzed.
Like her last album ‘Blue Hills’, ‘Maritz’ is distinguished from Jonnine’s HTRK gear by a relative absence of studio embellishment or dynamic, preferring to leave songs lingering in a room-recorded air that conjures the feel of Alan Lomax folk recordings in the field, with incidental subtropical sounds carried thru open windows. Brittle and timeless, these are songs with an unhurried logic that feels antithetical to modern pressures, just happy to exist in their own temporal space.
It’s a rare privilege to spend time in Jonnine’s company. Pull up, and lean in.
Both volumes of Reggae Goodies came out around 1977 on Bullwackies' City Line imprint, which celebrated the Wackies HQ, and the NY subway track ending at White Plains Road.
The sets are based on a compilation of 7" a-sides, which had appeared over the previous few years on labels like Versatile, Rawse and Senrab. The original sleeve notes of volume one noted that 'today, reggae music is reaching its peak and this album is a perfect example of the roots of its success. This an exceptionally put together album with various artists at their best."
No one could argue with Don Carlos's Black Harmony Killer, Wayne Jarrett's African Woman (to Baba Leslie's Black Horns rhythm), Joe Morgan's Basement Session, and the first time out for Stranger Cole's intense Capture Land, later re-done by Wackies and Half Moon affiliates TAMU. Volume 2 derives more from Wackies' Sound Unlimited studios in New York and aims for lovers as well as roots' fans in the dance.
Ad hoc lineups like Wanachi, with Jah Jah's Call also appeating on Creation Dub, and The Chosen Brothers - here it may be Lloyd Barnes with Wayne Jarrett on one track and with Leroy Sibbles on another - all appearing alongside Wackies regulars like 'Jah Junior Delahaye', KC White, and those three attractive young beauties The Love Joys - with a different, alternate mix to their version of the Abyssinian's Sweet Feelings than appears on their debut album.
Another classic from Ther Wackies archive, reissued.
Having released some classic cuts in the shape of 'Gypsy Woman' and 'Cornbread and Butter', Henry upped sticks from his native Jamaica and settled in 1970's New York - a city that was far from the gentrified urban sprawl that now exists, bringing with it a host of social issues that music could help to breakdown. Gravitating naturally towards Wackies, Henry was soon fully involved in day-to-day operations at Wackies HQ - even being granted the near mythical privilege of owning a spare pair of studio keys.
First released in London in 1984, Henry was joined by the Itopia band and soon layed down the wonderful 'Who Do You Think I Am?' - wherein a relaxed and lethargic style was kept energetic through fantastic vocals and bubbling production. With particular highlights including the ribald title track, the rose-tinted solipsism of 'No Dreams' and the sunny disposition of 'Them the Devil', Milton Henry can lay claim to a classic album that hasn't diminished one jot with age.
Visions Of John Clarke was a little thrown together for its original release in 1979. Still, its sleeve carried a ringing endorsement from Bullwackies himself -'President of the John Clarke Fan Club - and the album attracted the interest of no less than Studio 1 boss Coxsone Dodd, whose bid for distribution-rights was thwarted when the Brooklyn label Makossa quickly put in for a full licence.
Out soon afterwards, the new version - entitled Rootsy Reggae - duplicated five tracks, but with markedly different mixes, fresh edits, and sometimes new instrumentation. This CD presents both albums complete with the original track order. The singer - not to be confused with Johnny Clark - had been running with the Wackies operation for six years, ever since moving from Jamaica to New York. He'd cut memorable sevens with co-founder Munchie Jackson for the Tafari label - like In Search of The Human Race and Recession - and with Lloyd Barnes for such Bullwackies imprints as Versatile and Wackies.
Several are collected by these two albums, with another layer of modification: for example, on Wasn't It You Lloyd Barnes and Prince Douglas give a new treatment - adding guitar - to the Jumbo Caribbean Disco twelve; on Pollution they remove the horns from the Wackies seven (though generally Baba Leslie is in full effect here). The tracklisting rounds out with a Johnny Osbourne cover; several New Breed jams, featuring the likes of Jah Scotty, Clive Hunt, Harold Sylvester, Jah Hitler, Jerry Johnson, the Love Joys, even Mickey Mouse apparently; and on a handful of done-over rhythms Clarke takes the mic from brethren like Joe Auxumite, K.C. White and Wayne Jarrett.
Following acclaimed releases on Touch and 12k, Slowdive's Simon Scott lands on Room 40 with a site-specific sound study that addresses the near future of the Fens.
Scott has been refining his technique over the last few records, devising a method of combining the subtle ambience of his earliest solo records with the field recordings he's clearly motivated by in his latter-day releases. "Long Drove" is his most convincing long-form expression yet, and is motivated by geopolitical issues that are very close to his heart. The one time drummer grew up in Cambridgeshire near the Fens, a flat agricultural region in the East of England that was drained centuries ago and is maintained by a criss-cross of dykes and drains. It's an area he represented over a decade ago on the 12k-released "Below Sea Level", but he approaches it now with new-found urgency and restraint.
Scott is concerned with the future of his ancestral home, which is threatened with erosion, subsidence, and the constant threat of floods. So the music on "Long Drove" is speculative almost, an idea of what the Fens might sound like if it was underwater once more. Careful, evocative and lightly processed field recordings are the base of the recordings, but Scott's secret weapon is his use of tape loops, which provide the compositions with a ghostly, familiar air of British melancholy. You can't completely turn away from climate crisis discourse right now, and neither should you, but few albums have captured the feeling of loss, history, and speculative future quite as well as this. Recommended.
12" cuts by Barrington Spence and Lloyd Hemmings take dub honours from the Wackies mixing desk; also Sugar Minott, Leroy Sibbles’ just-about redemptive version of Lionel Richie’s Truly, and the rhythms behind still-unissued vocal tracks by Milton Henry and — best of all, the knockout punch — The Shades.
What an assembly of studio talent this band really was - Leroy Sibles from the Heptones on bass, next to Clive Hunt fresh from genre defining stuff with the Abyssinians, and Lloyd himself bearing the colours of Lee Perry's mighty Black Ark as pedigree, you're dealing with the best basically. interestingly the streamlined, sparse lines here remind me more than anything of the stripped down roots shockouts of the uk steppers scene. Important and what's more, until now underrated session.
Super heavy dub set - originally issued in a low fidelity, stencilled sleeve on one of Lloyd Barnes numerous imprints, Aries. This is bravura stuff from the mid seventies golden era, and a superb collection of some very obscure sevens which surfaced on Aries and on Tafari in Jamaica.
"Free for all" is ultimate dread materials present in three thrilling versions, cut at Randy's and with Aston Family Man Barrett in the place on keys. The Charlie Ace deejay cut Meditation Dub is some ital stew for sure, add to this classic dubs of Little Roy's Tribal War and further versions of Stranger Cole My Application and K.C. White's awesome All For Free, maximum bass wreckage. Productions come from Melvin 'Munchie' Jackson and Lloyd Barnes were begun in Jamaica and finished off in New York - one of this or for that matter any year's essential reissues.
The title track was recorded at Randy’s, and came originally on The Heptones’ Hepic label, featuring Family Man Barrrett on keyboards, and - on the deejay cut here, Meditation Dub - sounds like Charlie Ace. There are dubs of Little Roy’s Tribal War and Black Bird; Stranger Cole’s My Application, later re-voiced by The Heptones, turns up as Dis Ya Dub; and if things weren’t smoke-filled enough, Roots is the rhythm of K.C. White’s All For Free.
For the third volume of Tenerife imprint Keroxen's Radar series, the label examines Canary artists in the diaspora, highlighting the cross-genre breadth of creativity that stretches across the globe.
On their first Radar volume, Keroxen looked at the Canary Islands' fertile indie and shoegaze scene, while the second scrutinized the area's experimental landscape. This third edition casts its net further afield, beginning with a trio of tracks from Berlin-based visual artist Arístides García aka Anisotrópico. García creates custom MIDI-based orchestral compositions that sound stylistically linked to James Ferraro's bizarre vaporwave-adjacent swipes, or more recently Nozomu Matsumoto's corrupted 'n future-shocked elevator musick. 'Rumbo' is the most impressive composition, sounding as pitch-mangled as one of Aleksi Perälä's wonked colundi material but infused with YMO-inspired drum shakes.
Amsterdam-based trio Halli Crigi make grotty jazz/improv noise that explodes into Derek Bailey-style tangled mayhem on 'Jerry Cat', and Sweden's Hara Alonso takes another path completely, working with piano and synthesis to create minimalist vignettes that aren't a million miles from Ryuichi Sakamoto's collaborations with Alva Noto. Tarragona's Transistor Eye finishes things off with a single long-form track that rushes thru American Primitive-style fingerpicking into psychedelic oscillations and clouded, mushroom-addled mayhem.
Cult LA label Peak Oil present Lamin Fofana’s most sublime yet quizzical work in a suite of 4th world ambient fraught with noise and smudged with ghostly grooves primed for fans of KMRU, Patten, Jon Hassell, Emeka Ogboh.
Lamina Fofana originally hails from Sierra Leone and Guinea, before he moved to NYC and spent formative years between Harlem, NYC and Alexandria, Virginia, where he soaked up experimental electronic music, ambient and techno. Active as a producer since the ‘00s on Shadetek’s Dutty Artz, and notably working behind the scenes of his Sci-Fi & Fantasy label, who introduced Lotic to the world, Fofana has more recently been found on his Black Studies label and the ‘X/Perience’ boxset containing three albums produced 2018-2020 - ‘Black Metamorphosis;, ‘Darkwater’, and ‘Blues’.
Joining an illustrious set of releases by Topdown Dialect, Hoavi and Paperclip Minimiser on Peak Oil, Lamin’s ‘Unsettling Scores’ proceeds into the most ambiguous ambient interzones of his style where vaporous traces of Jon Hassell’s dreamy brass and notions of a 4th world ambience intersect smudged rhythms redolent of Emeka Ogboh’s deep sonic-topographic reading of Lagos, and lowkey, liminal lines of atmospheric thought also expressed by Klein at her quietest.
The crackling melodic filament of his ‘Tune of Departure’ vignette leads off into 12 minutes of digitally smeared and funereal ambient on ‘A Symbol of the Withdrawn God Redux’, while much lusher, aerosolised tones give way to a sort of washed out 4th world dream space on ‘Erosion / Whispers’. Rhythmic impulses guide the knackered crawl of ‘Broken Time of Transition’ somewhere adjunct Andy Stott and Klein, and the deep house thrum of ‘Oily (Resurfacing)’ nudges the reference points closer to KMRU’s take on melodic electronica, beside a pair of gorgeous ambient classical works rich with crackling textural embers.
Joyfully unblinkered dance trax by Strategy on return to LA’s Peak Oil for his 3rd and most effusive volley, arriving alongside the label’s aces by Topdown Dialect, Paperclip Minimiser, and Lamin Fofana.
Bare bones but buoyant in a dubwise style that has served Paul Dickow’s Strategy for over 20 years, ‘Unexplained Sky Burners’ flexes dextrous tekekrz in a volley of tried and tested mutant templates that edge on B-More/Jersey bumps, broken beat rave, Detroit techno and freestyling break-house.
Spongiform subbass and a sparing percussive palette propel nine variations within a theme of swanging, dipping dance music, each lit with instrumental licks of outernational strings and synthetic wind in a way recalling Beatrice Dillon’s ‘Workaround’ as much as early ‘00s Domu or Demdike Stare’s leanest Testpressings, with ripest rug-cutters lodged in the forward tumble of ‘Inside the Pyramid’, the double-dipped bass stepper ‘Frontiera’, his scudding choral cut-ups and garage-techno torque in ‘Blue Situation’, and the DMZ-style eastern dubstep gaze of ‘Santur’.
Kelela unveils another honeyed leftfield pop radio belter, produced by LSDXOXO, Asmara, Bambii and Brandon Peralta.
Billed as a soundtrack to the pre-game or a time-bending romance in the shadows at the back of the club, 'Contact' is another sensual reminder that "Raven" is one of the year's most anticipated full-lengths. And while there's a host of collaborators on production duty, it's LSDXOXO's signature that's most present, with anti-gravity breaks couching Kelela's carnal murmurs. February can't come fast enough.
Factory’s mayo-loving subsidiary hail Bobby Gillespie’s first band and Scotland’s answer to New Order with a shuffled and expanded 40th year edition of their debut LP, augmented by an armful of singles. Do not proceed without checking their killer ‘Judas’ and prime jangle in ‘Patrol’, the brooding ‘Uniform’, or the spiky ‘Give Up’
“Factory Benelux presents expanded CD and vinyl editions of Harmony, the debut album by influential Scottish group The Wake, originally released by Factory Records in December 1982. The group formed in Glasgow in 1981 after singer/guitarist Caesar left Altered Images, and joined Factory the following year. Harmony was recorded at Strawberry Studios in Stockport with producer Chris Nagle (Martin Hannett's preferred engineer), by which time The Wake comprised Caesar (vocals, guitar), Carolyn Allen (keyboards), Steven Allen (drums) and Bobby Gillespie (bass). On release as Fact 60 the original 7 track mini album earned a 5 star review in Sounds magazine, hailed as the missing indiepop link between Factory and Postcard Records.
Bonus tracks on this extended remaster include dub-informed second single Something Outside b/w Host (FBN 24), and their popular John Peel session from July 1983 - the last recordings to feature Gillespie before his departure for The Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream.
The 2xCD version is housed in a trifold digipack, and on the bonus CD offers 21 lost recordings from 1981 to 1983, compiled from demo and live cassettes located in the Rob Gretton tape archive.
The 3 disc vinyl version is packaged in an attractive trifold sleeve and includes 8 live tracks desk recorded at Ayr Pavilion on 15 April 1983, while on tour with New Order. The vinyl also includes a digital copy. The artwork for these 40th anniversary editions includes images of the band by photographer Paul Slattery, taken at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, as well as new liner notes by Caesar.”
The first release of a masterful album recorded by Bullwackies in the same heady months of 1982 which delivered the Love Joys’ Lovers Rock and Junior Delahaye’s Showcase LPs.
"The lineage of The Meditations — Ansel Cridland, Winston Watson, Danny Clarke — elaborates Wackies classical project perfectly: from their introduction by Stranger Cole (who would himself record for Wackies) to Dobby Dobson back in 1975, and their hits for him under the supervision of ace Studio One engineer Sylvan Morris (Woman is like a Shadow, Running From Jamaica, and the rest); through revered Lee Perry productions like No Peace and House of Parliament.
This album evokes and deepens the atmosphere of those Black Ark sides — but cuts the group’s militant rasta reputation with the ecstatic soulful sensibilities of the Junior Delahaye session in the same period. The tracks comprise six originals — brand new, prime Bullwackies music — though the title cut recasts I Shall Be Released via interpretations for Coxsone and Scratch by The Heptones (another all-time-great JA vocal trio with an unreleased Wackies album recorded during this period). The luxuriant Wackies sound — dubwise from start to finish, with the drums of Jah Scotty and big-city-blues guitar of Barry Vincent outstanding — sets off fine trio harmonising."
Boy Harsher serve a properly ‘80s-toned piece of melodrama to complement the latest in the ‘Halloween’ film franchise, as soundtracked by John Carpenter.
Joint released on their Nude Club label, the session plays to classic templates of brooding cinematic synth music for the screen and the club with four mixes that drip from the incandescent drug chug noir of ‘Burn It Down (Rework)’ and its instrumental, to the reverberating, dry-iced original with Jae Matthews breathy vox and tense heartbeat percussion, also supplied in instrumental form.
Perhaps the nicest and best executed Arvo Pärt on vinyl of the last decade or so available again - compiled by the knowledge at Mississippi to include their favourite versions of their favourite Pärt music, including several all-timers, and housed in a gorgeous metallic-foil ink sleeve.
A key piece of Arvo Pärt’s peerless canon, Für Alina is the Estonian composer’s beautiful dedication to a friend’s 18 year old daughter who had just left to study in London. First performed in Tallinn in 1976, Für Alina has become one of Pärt’s most-loved and widely appreciated works - regarded an early, defining example of his signature, mystical tintinnabuli style.
For this reissue, the great Mississippi Records have teamed with Oregon’s The Ajna Offensive to gather their favourite Arvo Pärt pieces as a sort of compilation, rather than a direct reissue of the title piece, which has previously appeared on various ECM releases. It's a lovely and exquisitely well presented package.
It features two contrasting takes on Für Alina, opening with Alexei Lubimov’s, bright, if almost impending and fearful take, which subtly differs from the slower, spacious yearn of Jurgen Kruse’s version on the other side, while the rest of the LP is taken by a number of string variations on Spiegel I’m Spiegel, which has formerly accompanied the title piece on ECM releases.
The other special thing about this pressing is the appearance of Alexei Lubimov’s Variationen zur Gesundung von Arinuschka (Variations for the recovery of Arinuschka), another time-stoppingly wonderful solo piano piece, written by Pärt in 1977, and also the inclusion of Fratres, performed by Vadim Gluzman and Angela Yoffe on violin and piano.
This classic Sugar Minnott, available again via Wackies.
"In the early seventies Sugar had more or less singlehandedly revived the fortunes of Studio One, before cutting a string of hits for Channel One. Meanwhile his Youth Promotion sound system and his own label Black Roots nurtured fresh new talent like Tenor Saw, Nitty Gritty and Junior Reid. After moving to London at the turn of the decade, his international smash Good Thing Going brought Sugar a rash of lucrative major label offers, which he declined, preferring to link up with Bullwackies in New York.
This album contains the full vocal versions of tracks included on African Roots Act 3. With the core of his band drawn from the Wackies group Itopia, Sugar sings inimitably for lovers, bubblers and rootsmen all. He recasts Michael Jackson again; and — alongside Studio One maestro Jackie Mittoo in the studio — revisits his all-time favourite album, The Heptones On Top."
Tony O'Meally aka Jah Batta is the Bullwackies acolyte featured with Rhythm & Sound on the Burial Mix 10" Music Hit You, here on a set of absolute murder specials featuring sly & robbie on drums & bass, jackie mittoo on keys plus sugar minott on backing vox...
On this album from 1983 his buoyant deejaying follows Lone Ranger's massive revival of U-Roy's legacy. Upful dancehall vibes address topics such as vegetarianism, skin colour, school, good old-fashioned rocking the mic. One toast laments Batta's girlfriend running off with Sugar Minott.
And the album is a must even for its rhythms alone: basically top-notch Youth Promotion material from Channel One in JA, overdubbed and remixed at White Plains Road in the Bronx, with contributions from Sly & Robbie, and Bagga and Jackie Mittoo from Brentford Road, alongside Wackies regulars.
Version excursions include Sugar originals like Informer and Jezzreel's Stop Playing Tricks, Bob Marley's Too Much Trouble, and deadly do-overs of Studio One cornerstones like Throw Me Corn and Real Rock. Do it, Jah! Flash it!
Classic, kicking dubwise rockers from the Wackies stable, a great selection from the archives, including a nice extra version to Rockfort Rock tucked away on here.
Possibly outsmarting even the African dub series revivals, head straight from the top for the title cut, a fierce stepper. Check some of the cuts through a PA and you'll be as close as possible to having your own dubplates without getting your hands dirty.
The Reckless Breed in Jamaica, the New Breed in New York, Scotty and crew rock rootical Jezzreel rhythm tracks like Roman Soldiers, with fine sing-jaying from Jah Batta; also Clive Hunt's inimitable take on Rockfort Rock; and a steppers version of Junior Delgado's Upsetter classic Sons of Slaves. 'Natures Dub, this sound a rockers…rockers…rockers…me say a rockers…rockers…'
Essential dub music.
Horace Andy, Wayne Jarrett and Naggo Morris with a set of 1983 productions that present the singers showcase style, in mostly devotional mood. The music is classical and original - full of awe, in a kind of dread development of the Bullwackies lovers rock sound - with inimitable and glorious dubs throughout.
Born in Jamaica in 1944, Wackie’s founder Lloyd Barnes worked for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label before emigrating to New York in the early seventies. Here he founded the Wackie’s House Of Music. Wackies lineage is classical - rooted in Studio One and Black Ark - but cut with the acid urbanity of New York City. Several local artists made their names here, and a roll-call of great Jamaican artists including Jackie Mittoo, Max Romeo and Leroy Sibbles found there home here.
"The two Horace Andy cuts nod to Studio One: an interpretation of Little Roy’s Prophesy reworks Peanut Vendor with the bebop artfulness of the Sound Dimension; while My Heart Is Gone is a homage to the Ken Boothe classic.
The under-recorded Naggo Morris — who replaced another Wackie’s alumnus, Leroy Sibbles, in The Heptones — is best remembered for his Joe Gibbs 45, Su Su Pon Rasta: here his soulful baritone is in just such searing form, and the track You Rest On My Mind is devastating.
Wayne Jarrett’s opener likewise recasts a reggae evergreen for its rhythm, Keith and Tex’ Tonight — but now the music (co-produced by Sugar Minott, either side of the Bubble Up album) is darker and more burnished, with Jarrett’s Horace-styled falsetto set off against nyabinghi percussion. Also featured are the only reggae interpretation of Lionel Richie’s Truly you might like to hear, and a killer version of Don Carlos’ Black Harmony."
Meredith Monk - The Recordings is a 13-CD limited box set edition compiling all Meredith Monk ECM New Series recordings to date, issued on the occasion of the composer and singer's 80th birthday.
"Meredith was the first singer to have a leader-date on ECM Records and has released her music with the label since Dolmen Music in 1981.
This beautifully designed box set incorporates a 300-page book reprising all original liner notes, as well as new texts and interviews. Additionally the book includes an introductory essay by Frank J. Oteri, "The Worlds of Meredith Monk", an autobiographical text by Meredith titled "The Soul's Messenger" and a preface by Manfred Eicher. Plus: many photographs (some previously unpublished), quotes from the press, archival documents, and more."
Includes the following CDs:
I - Dolmen Music
II - Turle Dreams
III - Do You Be
IV - Book of Days
V - Facing North
VI - ATLAS
VII - Volcano Songs
VIII - mercy
IX - impermanence
X - Songs of Ascension
XI - Piano Songs
XII - On Behalf of Nature
Released the same year as Star Wars, Reckless Breed's 'Reckless Roots Rockers' sees Jah Upton, Lloyd Barnes and Prince Douglas assembled behind the desk for some Wackies dub greatness.
Drawn from tapes recorded with King Tubby's Soul Syndicate band, the music included on 'Reckless Roots Rockers' is deeply ingrained with fissures of rhythm and dub melodies - bringing a vast array of talent to bear on some fabulously low-end material. With much of the album recorded in Jamaica, there were plentiful tributaries on which to draw, as the likes of Jah Carlos, Bullwackies Allstars and Joe Morgan all make appearances.
Opening through the Reckless Breed's 'Dub Full Of Girls', we're immediately transported to a humid smoke-draped environ - as the familiar melody snakes its way through jaunty rhythms and an overarching sense of light that is a welcoming salve for a dark November night. For those who know about such things, the inclusion of Don Carlos' deadly 'Jah Man' will be of particular note - with this particular slice of dub fortitude (crafted over a rhythm double-take of Wayne Jarrett's 'Bubble Up') unavailable anywhere else and now rightly resurrected for appreciative audiences to rediscover, whilst dubs of Wackies' vast Black Harmony rhythm crops up throughout like a welcome friend throughout.
Elsewhere, 'Exposure' from the Sylvesters is a lithe and uncluttered beast, Bullwackies Allstars 'Creation' contains some demon rhythms, whilst 'Chin Chow' from Reckless Breed will have you nodding till Sunday.