Gloriously daft and crafty synth charms from Finnish psych whiz Roope Eronen, a member of space rock troupe Avarus and peer of Jan Anderzen (Tomutonttu), found here on a rare solo trip
Pumped up at the behest of Spencer Clark’s wonderful Pacific City Discs, who tasked Eronen with creating pop-tart miniatures of his extended synth improvisations, ‘Inflatable World’ is a tactfully playful pik ’n mix of lo-fi oddballs rendered in primary colour organ tones every bit as inviting as the cover art sketch of a bouncy castle. Echoes of ’60s/‘70s kids TV themes, BBC Radiophonica, 8-bit computer game soundtracks, early Irdial. and even Rashad Becker abound its 11 tracks, where melodic choral voices frolic with bouncing arps and more acidic, sweetly distorted tones in a carefree manner that’s bob on the money for us right now.
I always used to get kicked off bouncy castles for helplessly bouncing off other kids, but no such worries here, as the 11 tracks are primed for more grown up (big kid) antics with psychedelics and rolling around on the rug. In each bit Eronen juices his stripped down kit for maximum squelch and oddity, ranging from the interplay of acid sludge and ringing telephones in ‘Angel Bounce’ and minute-long vignettes like ;Slow Motion Jump,’ to Novo Line-esque arp madness in ‘Bassmaster Mania,’ and brain-bugging aces such as ‘Extra Wet Ball Pools,’ and with a standout arrangement of cloud castle chorales in ‘XXXL Nativity,’ with the album’s longest and final part ‘Activity Lounges’ arriving at a charming crossroads between Eastern-facing psych tunings and a blissed underwater cartoon soundtrack.
Ever-unpredictable genius Mica Levi sports a wickedly loose new album following hot on the heels of that Ruff Dog pearl just a few weeks ago.
It appears that the award-winning composer is here joined by their Curl collective in ‘Blue Alibi’ for an album that almost preternaturally collapses the vernacular of grunge rock, free jazz, indie-pop, rap, and chamber music, into scenes limned with the skill of a proper soundtrack scorer. At this point we’re just going to refer to this style as Mica Music, because for all intents and purposes, there’s just nobody making anything quite like it in the modern sphere. It’s the type of music that would puzzle a computer tasked with classifying its taxonomy, all asymmetric, bittersweetly discordant and metered off-centre in a way that defies categorisation.
While there’s no explicit mention of lockdown fuckries, aside from Brother May’s “middle finger to Boris Johnson and all the cops now” on the album’s bitterly puckered ace ‘Om Om Om Om’, the album’s sore blue pallor certainly feels like it was sculpted by the experience, or is implicitly realised as a salve for it. From the scratchy, free-jazz Company-isms and deadpan vox of ‘Whack’, to the mumbly introspection of ‘Rose’, thru the Sub-pop styles of ‘Liquorice’, and exquisite nap anxiety ambient in ‘Monk’ and ‘Blue Shit’, or the devastating torpor of ‘Waves’ and biley reflux of Flying Nun-esque guitars in ‘Outro’, it’s an ideal soundtrack to miserable, locked down times.
Coiled hard drum pressure from NYC’s Significant Other, riding reticulated rhythms for Hank Jackson’s anno label.
Putting some grungy NYC muscle in it, Significant Other follows shots on Spe:c and Oscilla Sound with some of his darkest gear here. ‘Every Night A Dtream Visits Us’ works a lather of sidewinding, sinuous arps and drums under Ghost In The Shell atmosfear, and the scaly ‘Gomek’ drags us down an alley to chew our bones and spit ‘em out in a sort of slompy cumbia dance. ‘Oblivion’ allows for some more brooding, beat-less introspection continuing his narrative style, and ’Second Skin’ crawls out on swingeing, snag-toothed tresillo rhythms lodged somewhere between DJ Python and Nick Klein.
One for fans of Cindy Lee, Sic Alps, Ariel Pink, and LARPing like it’s the ‘60s; Amsterdam’s CV Vision underline their wistful jangle and echoic vocals with subtly tight grooves.
‘In Time’ is the 2nd album by Dennis Schulze’s retro-pop vehicle CV Vision, following the ‘Tropical’ LP earlier in 2020 with a new collection that continues to bask in the ever dying, but still glowing, light of ‘60s pop. He’s not the first and nor the last to dig that era for traces of gold, but he’s definitely one of the better ones, proven in lysergic aces such as ’Should I Tame My Endless Mind,’ in the BoC-alike wooze of ‘My Autumn Has Come,’ and with that grooving rhythm instinct in swoonsome effect on ‘1+2=3.’
“With relationships, as with music, timing is everything. When the elements sit together in the pocket, it just feels right - and that groove can’t be forced. Lovers and players can fall in and out of time, depending on the rhythms of their lives, and how they react in the moment. In the end, we’re simply either in sync or not - because Time plays its beat on all our hearts without exception.”
Living legends Kool Keith and Mick Harris (Scorn) deliver a rusty slap down beside Ohm Resistance boss Submerged, heralding a soon come Scorn album on the horizon
We can probably safely assume this is some bucket list business for Scorn, who clearly relishes the opportunity to weigh in with true rap OG, Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs, Dr. Octagon.) Scorn’s mixes range from a lurching, signature halfstepper pinned in placed with massive rusty snares, to a Scorn remix full of blown out bass and laced with lethal mentasms, and a more stripped down version hingeing around skeletal drums shades away from The Bug. Label boss Submerged keeps up his end with a grungier remix squeezing out junglist shrapnel and nasty neuro synth stabs.
First in a new series of all-time Studio One party bombs.
"Now available for the first time ever on loud 12”. Marcia Griffiths’ ‘Feel Like Jumping’ is a stone cold classic, one of the best reggae songs ever made. Includes version on the flip. 100% essential!"
Sylph is the new project from Thomas Cohen.
"Regis, Rrose, Terence Fixmer and Nicolas Bougaïeff have collaborated to create a series of EPs, beginning with ‘Silver As It Was Before’. Using contemporary techno in a singer-songwriter format, the EP is informed by notions of space and congregation, built loosely around the concept of ‘mass’. This EP includes ‘Braid’ (a collaboration with Nicolas Bougaïeff) and ‘In The Morning Light’ (with Terence Fixmer)."
Unexpected bout of rock music on FXHE, with Omar-S producing for Decliner, a local 313 group
Tapping into a long and legendary history of Detroit rock music, the results pack requisite snarl and basslines from below the belt, echoing everyone from The Stooges to The Dirtbombs on five cuts built for the scuzziest Detroit biker bars.
The holy triumvirate invert and intensify their freeform rock styles in a suite of darkly inquisitive electronic scapes, recorded in tribute to Hideo Ikeezumi ov PSF Records and the Modern Music shop
Latest in a standout line of collaborations between Japanese dynamo Haino, ingenious synthesist O’Rourke, and limitless shredder Ambarchi, was recorded on the night that Hideo Ikeezumi - a titan of Japanese psychedelic and experimental music, and long-term collaborator with Haino - passed away in February, 2017. In effect a bardo-like soundtrack of sorts, the results can’t help but remind us to Gaspar Noe’s use of Jean-Claude Eloy’s music in ‘Enter The Void’ as much as their own reference to David Behrman’s ‘Wave Train’ as the trio follow their nose along the axes of ‘Each side has a depth of 5 seconds A polka dot pattern in horizontal array A flickering that moves vertically’ to plumb deeply psychedelic, other dimensions and planes of existence.
The album is dominated by the sidereal scope of its side-long ‘Introduction’, where each member elides their respective electronics into an insoluble fluid mass of roiling white noise and starscreaming timbre where it’s difficult, and unnecessary, to pick out who’s doing what. However Haino takes the lead on the other side’s three-part suite, proper; piping up with spine-tracing effect on the suona (a Chinese double-reed horn) over O’Rourke’s descending synths and Ambarchi’s Leslie cabinet amp hum in ‘Part I’ and steering them into shattered bleeps, before the more concise ‘Part II’ erupts with angular free jazz drum machines and wrenched guitar squall, and ‘Part III’ passes out into space music recalling Rafael Toral.
This is the what you’re looking for; Hamburg’s lowkey pivotal Uli Rehberg, aka Ditterich von Euler-Donnerperg - and quite possible Werkbund! - turns up on ACS for a properly mysterious album of avant sci-fi music starring his kids. A total pearl, RIYL Asmus Tietchens, Gerald Donald, Felix Kubin, Thomas Köner
Drilling down to one of their core influences,. ACS highlight Uli Rehberg’s clandestine atmospheres at their most mysterious and eyrie, offering a clammy handed introduction, where needed, to one of post-industrial music’s key, cult figures, and a deep inspiration on the ACS output. To give some potted history, Uli’s label Walter Ulbrich Schallfolien is behind some 50 releases since issuing Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Journey Through A Body’ in 1982, and S.P.K.’s ‘Auto-Da-Fé’ the year after, with exceptionally enigmatic releases by Uli’s satirical communist avatar, Dr. Kurt Euler and the likes of Mechthildt Von Leusch and Werkbund - who may, or may not be Uli’s aliases - in between. It all remains one of the most covert and intriguing bodies of work in its field, and now ‘Weisheit Aus Des’ only factors that otherworldly allure.
Most crucially Uli possesses a remarkably singular electronic palette, one that prizes ultra HD clarity and space over distortion, with particular taste for gleaming piquant tones that’s perhaps best compared with Gerald Donald’s non rhythm-driven research as Arpanet. Perhaps that’s because they both masterfully use Arp synths? Your guess is good as ours, but surely we can all all agree that these tracks plug into a very fine and rarified zone of electronic inquiry.
The A-side is given to four succinct works of mercurial and amorphous synth practice, organised with an unravelling, elusive logic that’s a joy to follow. The impish unpredictability of his own children’s voices lend a playful counterpoint and complement to his amorphous synth contours, leading down the slipperiest wormholes into scenes evoking ‘Beyond The Black Rainbow’ or some avant-cyberpunk soundtrack, while the B-side rolls out 21 minutes of the most intoxicating , transportive sci-fi drone you may hear in 2021. It’s really that good - exactly the sort of sonic chicanery we listen out for every day, and only very rarely find from this sorta vintage.
Frank Timm aka Soundstream/Soundhack/half of Smith N Hack is one of Berlin's most coveted producers of House in the Chicago tradition.
You're probably well aware of that already, so we'll cut to the chase - this is his most substantial collection in some time, four tracks wide and 100% satisfaction guaranteed. A-side there's the swirling, filtered strings of 'Just Around' as Soundstream, beside the ruff-cut jack of 'Vintage' in his Soundhack guise. B-side he introduces a new moniker, T.S.O.S., with the smashing, Poindexter-esque 'Over And Over' and 'Over Beats', plus four loops which will definitely get rinsed.
Long before disco-edits became de rigueur, Frank Timm was making the kind of tightly coiled works of wonder that would gain the attention of everyone from Carl Craig to Herbert, Basic Channel and Francois K and have since sorta become the blueprint.
With a work-rate that has seen a grand total of six 12"s released in 10 years under the Soundhack and Soundstream aliases, you gotta pay attention. You don't need to know owt else - these are precision tooled for the dance, forever fresh.
The legendary Hardwax series (with Soundhack at one end and MMM at the other) gave up by far it's most influential dancefloor moment with this utterly classic twelve.
If you know the Soundhack releases you'll have some idea of what to expect; soulful, sweating funk, minimal x superbly crafted loops, jacking specials. Check the Chic-esque vibe of the opener 'Good Soul' with its killer padded bassline under the drums, or the low-end bothering 'Love Town' - all classic filtered vibes, for good times.
Pearson sound has the honour of releasing Hessle Audio's 1st solo artist album with his adroit and concise self-titled opus.
It arrives 7 years since his earliest transmission, 'Blimey' [HES005] as Ramadanman, in which time he's carved a distinct niche between the sub-strata of UK techno, dubstep and electronica, building one of the most distinguished catalogues in modern dance music - including high profile remixes for Radiohead and Disclosure. Clearly inspired by the 'floor but not beholden to it, 'Pearson Sound' gives him wriggle room for experimentation; space to pursue those wayward ideas that have cropped up more regularly in recent aces like the 'REM' 12" or 'Raindrops' 7".
It's a succinct LP statement, stripped to the bare bones and focussed on fleshly raw production values, as with the bruising bass of opener 'Asphalt Sparkle', but with flashes of luminous brilliance that cut thru the murk and ligament, as with scything synthline in 'Glass Eye', or the deliquescent glint and strobing figures of big highlight, 'Swill', or the twysted rave poltergeist in 'Headless'. Ultimately though, it's all about a very UK style of ruffness and sweetness, laced with a mutant crankiness that pushes the right buttons.
More essential disco cut-ups from the one and only.
'All Night' is a filtered weapon, previously appearing as the closing cut to Tama Sumo's brilliant P'Bar 02 mix, onto the sweet 'n crunchy 'Tease Me' and the conga/clap driven wooze of 'Deeper Love'. 100% 100% 100%
The Basic Reshape of Carl Craig's 'The Climax' is without question one of the finest remixes of all time. Seminal 12" from Basic Channel....
It's a definitive, driving, hypnotic club killer that rebuilt the tribal mastery of the original into a logic-defying display of bass shuffles and aquatic percussion that kills us every time/
"Remake" Basic Reshape from 1994 relates to "Remake Uno/Duo", Carl's sample-based re-interpretation of Manuel Göttschings epochal E2-E4. Basic Channel take a radical, abstract, sample-free approach with a breathtaking slow motion groove under a multilayered sound sphere.
Soundstream with a trio of signature disco edits to light up the 'floor.
The peerless loop-master heralds the summer with a kinky bomb 'Bass Affairs' upstairs, tickling cowbells and rustling shakers until a chopped 'n oily bass slicks the groove proper and pads provide a heady highpoint. Go below the belt and the B-side brings up a filtered winner with show-stopping bass drops in 'Sweep Magic' beside the spangled delights of 'Starstrike'. Classique.
Originally a tape-only companion piece to Laila Sakini’s quietly stunning ‘Vivienne’ AOTY contender last year, 'Into the Traffic, Under the Moonlight’ now gets a standalone vinyl release, newly mastered by Rashad Becker to provide us with a chance to swoon at its endless, quiet charms from a new perspective. Featuring Laila’s voice, plus piano, samples, cello, bass clarinet, flute and handclaps, it’s a totally unique late night/intimate pop anomaly that sounds to us something like the missing link between Grouper, Bohren & der Club of Gore and The The’s Soul Mining.
'Into the Traffic, Under the Moonlight’ is no doubt woven from the same fibre as Laila's ‘Vivienne’ album - one of the records we listened to - and loved - most last year, but it expands on its minimalist palette of piano, voice and effects to include more instrumentation, samples and full bodied arrangements. Listening to ‘Vivienne’, followed by this one, feels a bit like emerging from a small room - curtains drawn - into the outside world for the first time in a while.
The quietly suggestive presence of Sakini’s music evokes ciné-rich scenarios and vignettes from a careful paucity of ingredients to limn scenes of lonely existential angst and hypnagogic dreaminess that contrast with ruffer cuts of late night trip hop and nerve-bitten breakbeats that resemble a makeshift coffee table strewn with bits of baccy and weed, mug stains and unpaid bills, rather than unwieldy art books and pot pourri. Despite their quiet nature, these are ambitious, layered, memorable songs for the ages.
It pays to start at the back here, as the creaking cold space and aching vox of ‘Night Emotion’ really seems to sum up the wistful sensuality of the whole release, but - to do it properly - the album unfolds as a total artwork, looping from the plaintive vocals - and flute - of ‘Talk My Way’ in succinct turns thru the dust-mite dance of her instrumental ‘Wade High’, to the opiated night flight of ‘Into The Traffic’, while curled-lip smackers in ‘Easy Does’, and her restlessly cranky ‘Metro’ help play out a flux of feelings, ambiguous and determined - that remind you that no one ever really knows what goes on inside other people’s heads.
In a world of overly produced and controlled music, this here is yr antidote - Laila Sakini is producing some of the most vital and brittle music of our time.
Following releases from Perila, Jake Muir, Space Afrika, Roméo Poirier, tau contrib and Echium, sferic introduce TIBSLC to their flock with a strong debut album of immersive synthetic environments and four-dimensional ambient grit that haphazardly welds together the narrative world-building of Space Afrika and Jan Jelinek's loopy rhythmic shuffle, where the fractured dreamworlds of Chain Reaction, West Mineral and ~Scape collide in full VR.
Based in Leipzig, TIBSLC (The International Billionaire's Secret Love Child) sculpts hazily ambiguous but meticulously detailed sounds hypersensitive to nanoscopic movements and fleeting midnight feels. Blending subtle environmental recordings with processed digital noise and feedback, the eight parts of ‘Delusive Tongue Shifts - Situation Based Compositions’ find themselves in good company on sferic’s roster of intuitive ambient explorers, but TIBSLC’s work is distinguished by an arcing narrative quality that emerges across its yawning spaces, each viewed by perspectives ranging from lofty, birds-eye to more intimate and voyeuristic, like a fly on the wall in Deckard’s apartment.
Carefully keeping interest on the waking dream side of torpor, TIBSLC proceeds to shape the album’s experience at liminal, hypnagogic levels of intrigue, alternating its spatial and barometric parameters from light-headed sensations in ’Soft Afternoon Pressure’ to something like an ancient bathhouse humidity in ‘Later That Day.’ It’s an effect that feels like watching Andrew Pekler's hazy imagined vistas reshot in 4K, with every minuscule element suddenly hypervisible. We can hear lingering, vaporous traces of ‘90s Likemind experiments percolate thru ‘The Touch Of Your Toes’, while ‘Beachlife’ fees like Burial filtered by Jan Jelinek, and ‘Extended Stay of Blue Sky’ evokes a glorious, aerial motion in its hang glyder swoops, with ‘Nightmode’ lushly extending that feeling of roiling midnight air that practically, gently leaves us pill bellied and swooning.
Anniversary reissue of Tortoise’s classic album, Millions Now Living Will Never Die.
"Tortoise's production expertise hit an early peak with Millions Now Living Will Never Die, a work that not only references studio-centric forms like dub and electronica, but actively welds them to the group's aesthetic of sturdily constructed indie rock. The centerpiece is the 21-minute opener "Djed," a multi-part track which brought Tortoise's already impressive compositional abilities to a grand scale. It's almost a history of influences in miniature, first referencing tape music and dub for several minutes, then moving on to Krautrock with a chugging section incorporating wheezing organ and understated guitar chords.
Halfway through, the band takes on minimalism with repeating figures of organ and vibes, then return to the green fields of their debut with a final few minutes of moody indie rock (though even this is spiced with a scratchy rhythm and various noise effects). With "Djed," Tortoise made experimental rock do double duty as evocative, beautiful music. The other songs on Millions Now Living are hardly afterthoughts, though; highlights "Glass Museum" and "The Taut and Tame" display the band quickly growing out of the angular indie rock ghetto with exquisite music, constructed with more thought and played with more emotion, than any of their peers." John Bush, AllMusic
Osiris have the rare honour of hosting a typically sublime Burial remix on the B-side to Deep Summer, Simon Shreeve (Kryptic Minds) aka Mønic’s melancholic and dusky industrialullaby.
Perfectly measured for the pensive atmosphere of summer 2017 in a Brexiting UK, Mønic’s Deep Summer courses ghostly R&B/folk vocals thru an arid scene of knackered, worn-down drums and keening harmonic pads, barely but stoically keeping its head up against its impending conclusion in a cannily metaphorical narrative arrangement.
Trust Burial, then, to extract and amplify some sense of beauty from the reserved anguish of Deep Summer on the B-side, opening with a filigree collage of seagulls, windchimes and pads recalling the “better days” of ‘90s summers, before lone voices sardonically echoes the sentiments of Nigel Farage (say it like garage) in the recurring phrase ‘we don’t need noone else’ against a rhythmelodic moire of maribas, pealing sax and queasy subbass squirms, perfectly capturing the lucid sleepwalking momentum and frayed socio-cultural fabric of Britain right now in the gauziest, impressionistic terms, replete with an updraft of balearic guitar in the closing stages perhaps predicting our mass exodus to a Ballardian super-city along the mediterranean coast.
Benidorm, you’ve been warned.
Transcendent, next-level pedal steel recordings that refuse to stay still, embellishing the instrument's country roots with mind-altering infusions of Indian classical music, free jazz and drone.
Susan Alcorn began playing music as a toddler, helping her mother recite church songs. She developed quickly, picking up a few different instruments before settling on the pedal steel guitar and she's gradually become one of the world's most renowned players, channeling the instrument's ethereal twang through vastly different prisms of influence. On "The Heart Sutra" she enlists cellist and composer Janel Leppin, who arranges fleshed-out near-orchestral versions of Alcorn's originals, giving them a levity that's tough to describe: you really have to feel it.
The recording, from a 2012 performance at NYC's Issue Project Room, has an air of devotional music, as sacred vocal tones and strings swirl around Alcorn's unmistakable pedal steel drones. American primitive folk music still lies at the base of these pieces - just listen to 'Suite for Ahl', that twins almost banjo-esque strums with fiddle and makeshift church-cum-sea shanty vocals - but each is fashioned by Alcorn's wealth of knowledge and experience. Her interests range from Pauline Oliveros' deep listening philosophy to the wide spectrum of folk traditions, and each piece betrays an enthusiastic, passionate mind.
Fans of Arvo Pärt's sacred minimalism, Eyvind Kang's next-level collabs with Earth and Sunn O))) (he even appears here on viola), Christina Carter's genre-averse American folk explorations, or even Klezmer owe it to themselves to dig into this one, providing a level of soul nourishment apt for these times.
Breathtakingly calm gossamer folkbient that sounds like a Grouper-axis survey of lo-fi 1990s indie; imagine a suite of painstakingly low-key Japanese covers of 'Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping'. So lovely.
With the distant, forest-dwelling magical buzz of the Fonal or Jewelled Anter catalog and the next-level sing-along charm of Eartheater's towering "Phoenix", Satomimagae's "Hanazono" hits an alarming number of sweet spots for us. Ambient indie doesn't really do it justice, but in smudging the edges of melancholy guitar pop (instruments are fuzzed beyond recognition and lyrics are almost indecipherable) the band have hit upon a rich creative seam that they explore almost academically over the course of the album.
The production is lo-fi throughout, but intentionally so: every distorted tape loop feels as if it's been placed entirely purposefully to add to an aesthetic haze that sounds as if you've been teleported into a faerie kingdom. "Manuke" is a pure gem, you can just about make out words if you listen carefully, but each syllable is sucked into a dream-pop fog that gets progressively more blissful as layers of vocals build into a dense pink cloud. Percussion is mostly swerved altogether, but when Satomimagae do decide to add rhythm, it's overdriven mic-slaps that build into a decadent thump on "Numa".
"Hanzono" is a minor marvel, sounding like traces of music you just about recall woven into reassuring ambient lullabies. Imagine Tenniscoats jamming with Grouper and you'll have an idea where this one's located.
Flaming Tunes was recorded by Gareth Williams (ex of This Heat) and his childhood friend Mary Currie and released on cassette in 1985. A hodgepodge of lo-fi pop songs, experiments and location recordings that sound like they were never intended for public consumption, it’s by chance or design one of the most moving, personal, memorable DIY/experimental pop albums of the 20th century, you better believe it.
As Mary Currie describes it: "Flaming Tunes was a collaboration that came out of a friendship. Gareth and I would meet at 'Danger de Mort' Gareth's house in Balham usually during the daytime when my son was at nursery. Sometimes we'd be joined by others. A room full of instruments and things that could make noise. We made some of our own too and used available objects for percussion. Later on we had more sophisticated equipment - full size keyboard and 12 track recording facility. Sometimes things happened and sometimes we just indulged ourselves in making a bit of a racket. I can't begin to describe how Gareth put things together and this was often done well into the early hours of the morning. I'd go away and come back and what had started out as a fragment had become another flaming tune."
After a bootlegged version came out in the late 90's, Life & Living Records - an independent label operated by Williams' close circle of friends (Williams himself passed away in 2001 at the age of 48) - went back to the original master tapes and painstakingly restored and remastered the audio. As for the music itself - oh gosh, where to start? On one level - it's a hodgepodge of lo-fi pop songs, experiments and location recordings that sound like they were never intended for public consumption. And yet - these tunes just don't let go of you once you've spent any amount of time with them. Take "Breast Stroke" for instance - just the most unforgettable, life-affirming three and a half minutes you'll ever spend with a piece of music. The fact that the percussion was made on a casio keyboard and what sounds like a peculiarly British variant of a human beatbox, well, it's just the icing on the cake.
Really, words just do no justice.