Hallow Ground invites label regulars Maria W Horn, Siavash Amini, FUJI||||||||||TA and Lawrence English to join newcomers Magda Drozd, Valentina Magaletti and others in celebrating sonic epiphanies. Spiritual stuff, from beginning to end - electro-acoustic studies of ancient and modern discipline.
It's fitting that label boss Remo Seeland opens this sprawling set of interwoven tracks with an ambitious collaboration with Laya Ensemble. Reading the album's dense press release it's difficult to grasp the compilation's theme - Seeland wanted all involved artists to consider not only their artistic processes but also the instruments they use, and sets an example by studying the depth of Laya Ensemble's acoustics, blurring the line between real instrumentation and synthesized electronics. The noise he manages to create falls somewhere between the meditative deep listening of Pauline Oliveros or even Hallowed Ground alum Kali Malone, and the ominous ferric noise of David Lynch collaborator Dean Hurley.
From here we're launched into a cut-n-paste fever dream of experiments, ideas and expressions that quickly impresses with tracks like Maria W Horn's spine-chilling 'Oinones Death, Pt. I' and FUJI||||||||||TA's dilated 'Kumo'. Horn's track is particularly sticky, sounding like church organ but actually constructed from contrabass recorder sounds, twinned with the eerie high-pitched fluctuations of pitched glass tones for maximum off-world giddiness. But don't fret church organ fans, Lawrence English continues his examination of the instrument, following his ace "Observation of Breath" full-length, with blustery microtonal ritual 'Outside the City of God (Augustine wept)', that sounds thematically lashed to Debit's recent "The Long Count" missive.
It's at this point in 'Epiphanies' that we had a moment of realization ourselves, finally properly grasping the compilation's weighty theme. There's not a duff track out of the entire 16, each piece does a brilliant job of exploring not only the artist's creative motivation but also prompts intriguing reconsiderations of their respective sound palettes. Laurin Huber's 'Puolipilvistä' (Partly Cloudy) is a fusion of sopping wet environmental recordings, distant sine tones and wooden clanks, Norman Westberg's 'For Alice' takes the dreampop template and simultaneously makes it cavernous and haunted, while Siavash Amini lavishes spectral microtonal electronics across doomed acoustic strings. Line alum Miki Yui's 'Alternatio' is our pick of the bunch, making an awful a lot out of bare components by concentrating on the emotional resonance of dreamy, echoed plucks.
If you're into electro-acoustic music that forgoes stuffy academia in favor of real-world chaos, tangible history and self-reflection, this one's a keeper.
Ai Aso’s immaculately crafted form of minimalist pop music skirts the edges of tensity with the manner and with the skill of a tight rope walker, calmly balancing repeatedly at every step, with a combination of surety and the risk of a slip, a fall, and an unknown uncoiling of events.
"Aso's capacity to capture, or inspire, the tension and attention from within the listener and observer are quite pronounced. At Aso's concert the performance constantly teeters near the brink, a sharpened awareness in the hall emerges from all observing, with the will of that most delicate balance. On “The Faintest Hint” she brings a meta level to the proceedings, the dream of a singer in a bright sunlit room in the centre of the density of the society, simply and precisely searching for single ideas, single tones, a sense of sensuality and even a dream of a grandeur (rock dream) emerge. A stillness prevails, even a sharp set of instances of dreaming, melancholia, nostalgia… or even saudade. The album was recorded, mixed & mastered by Soichiro Nakamura at Peace Music between 2018-2020. Atsuo and I joined these sessions as producers, and moreso as catalysts, yet also became the skeleton of a band on the album (with the tender touch). The legendary Japanese rock band Boris accompany Aso on two pieces. A faintest hint of sharpness and la tendresse féroce quickly erodes into a fine brief cloud of the purest crystalline dust."
–Stephen O'Malley, Stockholm June 2020
Enchanting collab between Bangladeshi migrant Mohammad After Hussain and Italian artist Andrea Rusconi, reframing traditional Baul folk songs as psychedelic paeans for Brighton’s ace Hive Mind Records.
A warmly spirited and ingenious fusion of styles, ‘Matir Gaan: Songs From the Earth’ is the result of a project for asylum seekers in Rimini, Italy seeking to create an archive of songs, stories and sounds by the people who have spent time with its programme. Mohammad After Hussain escaped Bangladesh in 2015 and arrived in Italy via an arduous and dangerous journey, experiencing violence in Libya before crossing the mediterranean. Finding sanctuary with Rimini’s Associazione Ardea, the group’s Andrea Rusconi aka Paq encouraged Hussain to sing the songs of his Bangla village, taught him by the minstrel-like Baul people, who come from a culture rooted in early Sufi mystics and Hindu Fakirs. The result is a gently gorgeous raft of songs sung by Hussain and performed by him on the harmonium and pakhawaj (double headed drum), and gilded with Crumar and Veena synth drones by Paq that beautifully suspend the music in cosmic space.
Although Hussain does not consider himself a part of the Baul ascetic tradition, the songs are clearly etched on his heart as a key part of Bangla village life. They flow naturally from him across ‘Matir Gaan: Songs From The Earth’, whose title refers to the Baul beliefs in a bind of celestial and earthly love and the philosophy of “Deha tattoo” or truth in the body, epitomised by the aphorism “whatever is in the universe is in the body”. Stemming from traditions far older than any in the West, it’s perhaps not hard for ears attuned to European folk musics to hear the natural links between Indo-European linguistic branches and music manifesting in the natural cadence of and spirit of these 10 songs about life, love, earth and the cosmos, no matter your mother tongue.
Germany's answer to Daphne Oram or more likely Jan Jelinek in a wig, back in circulation.
You certainly get a lot of Bogner for your buck on Sonne = Blackbox, with 15 tracks showcasing faux-primitive electronic composition and tape manipulation from the imagined archive. On 'Or Dor Melanor', 'Shepard Monde' and the title track, Broadcast and Stereolab come to mind, while the eerie synthetic ramble of 'Trabant' is like Ghost Box relocated from Belbury to Berlin.
'Signalfluss' and 'Uranotypie' mesh droning, minimal electronics with Teutonic spoken word, while the playful, impish quality of 'Der Chor Der Oktaven' and 'Permutationen' invoke the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's John Baker and Delia Derbyshire on a jolly. The giveaway is Jelinek's use of subs though, the attendant sense of space and dub aesthetic is hard to imagine in late 60s and early 70s Germany. Good stuff though!
Much needed reissue of this vital, long lost electronic soul masterpiece from Jeff Phelps, originally released in 1985 on a private press run of 1000 copies and has since become the stuff of '80s legend. 2022 edition, featuring a previously un-released second mix.
Despite the enthusiastic efforts of Jeff, the album basically suffered from a lack of marketing and was destined to have a greater impact creatively rather than financially, exerting a direct influence on the likes of Dâm-Funk and Nite Jewel who both cite the LP as one of their favourites. And it's easy to hear why; the blend of synth melodies, rickety drum machine funk and endearing vocals from Phelps and young singer Antoinette Marie Pugh basically provide the blueprint for much of the 2010's hypnagogic pop and electro soul/boogie renaissance.
At the core of each track, whether instrumental or vocal, is an unmistakably warm and glowing soul. Be it Jeff's masterfully synthlines on 'Phase Shift' or Antoinette's two diamante-iced performances on the irresistible dancefloor slayer 'Don't Fall Apart On Me' and the more sensual 'Hear My Heart', the personal, expressive nature of their music is unique.
Anthony Naples kicks back and listens to the grass growing on a plush new album suite of beatdown ambient and AOR-style guitar bliss-outs, smushing our temples with a brand of hazy magick somewhere between The KLF’s Chill Out album, BoC, Huerco S.’ Pendant, and the cult Express Rising albums.
Shimmering with iridescent strums and loosely harnessed to stumbling drums, Naples’ 3rd album ‘Chameleon’ is defined by a marked difference to the micro-house dub tech of its predecessor ‘Fog FM.’ It’s music for the dying embers of summer, heralding longer evenings with a carefully toned collection of 12 tracks that refine the sehnsucht of his sound into woozier shapes puckered with bluesy melodic cadence and squinted with a kosmiche gaze. For anyone following the NYC-based artist thus far, it’s surely a richly rewarding new extension of his sound that lends itself to lonesome strolls and porchside pipe puffing alike.
One might not guess it from the accomplished quality of the music, but this is the first time Naples wrote music for instruments first, following his nose for a style of lissom ambient reverie that’s perhaps the most spirited and distinguished since he debuted nearly a decade ago with Mister Saturday Night Records and helped shape a new movement of para-deep house and ambient from USA via some dozen singles with everyone from The Trilogy Tapes to his own labels, Proibito and ANS.
Working to a masterful sunday night sound, if you will, ‘Chameleon’ sprawls out with arpeggiated tendrils and searching guitars lines from the faded lean of ‘Primo’ to the early ‘90s ambient bop of ‘I Don’t Know If That’s Just Dreaming’ , laying down syrupy sweet soul in ‘Devotion (SSL Mix)’ and swaying from the crooked hip hop drums of ‘Chameleon’ recalling Dante Carfanga’s Express Rising project, to amorphous chromatic whorls reminding of BoC’s wow and flutter in ‘Bug’ and ‘Hydra’, with exquisite vignettes like ‘Full O’ Stars’ and the thizz of ‘Sizzlin’ epitomising its low-key but heady ephemeral nature.
South African jazz bandleader Gideon Nxumalo's 1970 tribute to drummer Early Mabuza, "Early-Mart".
"Gideon Nxumalo was a key figure during the formative years of South African jazz in the 1950s, helping shape the emerging South African jazz sound as a pianist and composer and contributing to the scene as a radio presenter, music teacher and arranger. His recorded output as bandleader/composer is comprised of three iconic albums from Jazz Fantasia (1962) to Gideon Plays (1968) to Early-Mart (1970).
Early-Mart was Gideon Nxumalo's tribute to his friend and musical compatriot, drummer Early Mabuza (Castle Lager Big Band, Mankunku Quartet), who died in 1969. Nxumalo assembled what journalist and observer Leslie Sehume reports was a 14-piece band for the album, which was recorded during a legendary overnight session in February 1970 and released just months before Nxumalo's own death on 24 December 1970."
Nine-track compilation of Indonesian music recorded between 1979 and 1991, compiled by Munir Septiandry of the influential Indonesian DJ collective Midnight Runners.
"This time we make a pitstop in Jakarta, in the years between 1979 and 1991, the peak of the New Order. No, not the British electronic post-punk band that enjoyed great success during this same period (although synthpop is quite popular here) but the revolutionary government of President Suharto, which could be characterized as a “dictatorship”… along with all the political repressiveness that entails.
However, at the same time, Suharto’s full-throated advocacy of foreign trade resulted in a new economic buoyancy, an expansion of tourism and culture industries, and a flourishing of the entertainment sector. Suharto aggressively courted western corporations to do business in Indonesia, which led to the need for more and more entertainment to distract the expatriates after hours.
Jakarta became a wonderland of colorful discotheques, nightclubs and restaurants that merged traditional Indonesian ambience with the sexy ultramodern pulse of the disco beat. While imported disco records dominate playlists, a local music scene has developed in parallel, with indigenous artists like Chaseiro, Rafika Duri, The Rollies and Lydia Kandou embracing the use of synthesizers and drum machines, modern studio production and influences from western pop, rock, funk, boogie, disco, jazz, yacht rock as well as Japanese “City Pop.” And from all this they are forging a distinctive Indonesian dance-pop sound that will largely remain hidden from the rest of the world… until now.
Compiled by Munir Septiandry of the influential Indonesian DJ collective Midnight Runners, Tanamur City collects some of the high points of the latter part of this era, conjuring up a world of humid nights in packed discos, no-holds-barred genre blending, fun, fashion and funkiness of a kind never before seen in Southeast Asia… and seen rarely since."
Originally released in 2003 and 2005 as limited edition 3" CDs, Broadcast's "Microtronics" sets of squelchy library electronix and analog beat loops have been spliced together and remastered.
Broadcast's romantic fixation on the Radiophonic Workshop's soundtrack work, and the library music that accompanied so many of that era's B-movies and TV shows has provided a backbone to their music since the earliest twangs of their debut single 'Accidentals'. But it wasn't until 2003's "Microtronics Volume 01", cheekily subtitled "Stereo Recorded Music For Links And Bridges", that their passion unravelled fully. These tracks aren't just Broadcast tunes with library elements, they're Broadcast's attempt at assembling proper library jams - short, sharp interludes and themes assembled from sonic elements that wouldn't sound out of place on "Haha Sound" or "Tender Buttons".
The longest track runs just over two minutes - they aren't songs, they're spry strip-lit odes to a long-gone era. Crate diggers will have a field day - with clattering live drums and burned-out electronics, there's a similar blunted atmosphere to "Microtronics" as the masses of interchangeable oddities Madlib fills his sampler banks with. Influenced by Italian mad scientists like Piero Umiliani, Bruno Nicolai and Alessandro Alessandroni, the KPM label, and roguish British eccentrics like Basil Kirchin, John Baker, and even Delia Derbyshire, these vignettes vibrate with genuine glee. It's as if being cleaved from their duties as a proper band, Broadcast were able to run wild into atmospheres they might otherwise have left on the cutting room floor - but it also gives a prescient look into their later recordings, like their collaborations with The Focus Group, and their soundtrack to Peter Strickland's "Berberian Sound Studio".
It's a varied selection too: there's the shuffle of sci-fi dancefloor number 'Microtronics 02', the ruff 'n tumble stop-start tape saturated psychedelia of 'Microtronics 04', or 'Microtronics 05' with its post-"Haha Sound" spy movie dub-jazz drum edits. The second side pushes further into the red, with the jerky bass-led 'Microtronics 13', submerged exotica jammer 'Microtronics 14', and Cluster-esque 'Microtronics 15'. It's essential business that adds deeper shades of color to their immaculate catalogue.
Heart-rending solo piano scores for film from Czech duo Irena & Vojtěch Havlovi, aka The Havels - expertly exploring a quintessentially central European brand of melancholy and emotion for the films of Václav Kadrnka.
"Absence of the loved one is a theme running through both films, but during the creative process we never discuss with the Havels the themes, symptoms or attributes of the characters. We do not specify any meanings. Our collaboration is intuitive, based on interconnectedness. We neither explain things to each other nor analyse. From the outset we have a common goal: to quieten the viewers’ perception, to attune them to certain vibrations by visual, musical and acoustic repetitions, thus enabling them to focus on every tiny detail, every subtle aesthetic quality, so that by the end of the film they have a sense of reconciliation. In fact it is a state similar to meditation or prayer. The aim is being shown Mercy. Each time, the linking of the filmed images with Irena and Vojtech’s music has uncovered a new quality that we have named: a commentary on eternity. Characters cease to be determined by their senses, psychological motivations, or the times they live in. They find liberation in the stream of eternal time." /Václav Kadrnka"
Heartsick boogie aces from Anthony Naples, poking out his first release of 2016 as a sort of autumnal toddy for chapped dancers and reveries of warmer times.
Leaker swivels out on a slow, shifty electro boogie glyde with a steady core of phasing bass and ticking rimshot smudged by psychoacoustically shifty pads; sounds sorta like a sharpened NWAQ joint.
The sluggish jack of Moments Magicos feels more sore, blue, like one of V/Vm’s saltiest new beat tributes, early trance on 33-not-45, or Pye Corner Audio at their gauziest.
Matador release Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal, an exhaustive 45-track reissue of Pavement’s fifth and final album.
"The new special edition compiles the remastered original album, B-sides, home demos, rehearsal tapes, era-appropriate live recordings, and even the rough tracks from Pavement’s scrapped session at Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon studio. Altogether, it features 28 unreleased tracks.
Originally released in 1999, Terror Twilight marked a departure from Pavement’s established operating methods. Which is to say that it was recorded with a big-time producer in an expensive studio. However, for all the talk of “polish” and “precision” it’s still very much a Pavement record. And a great one. Like every Pavement album that preceded it, Terror Twilight thrills and confounds. Often at the same time. Twenty-two years on, the songs remain moody, strange, and eminently deserving of re-celebration."
An overcast "Caretakered" ambient re-working of Eartheater's phenomenal 'Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin' full-length. Properly smudged, late-night business.
We never imagined we needed a suite of fully blurred, smudged-to-fuck reworks of every track on Eartheater's "Phoenix", but now they're here we're not sure how we survived without them. There's nothing particularly complicated inside - the same process is applied to each song: a timestretched wooze that should be familiar to anyone who's spent a considerable amount of time in the ambient zone over the last decade or two. But "Pheonix: La Petite Mort Edition" isn't about technical grandstanding. Like The Caretaker's reverberating vignettes, Eartheater's edits conduct an alluringly haunting mood that adds an erotic postscript to the original album.
If "Phoenix" was a deft exercise in spare songwriting and elegiac dream-pop soundscaping, "La Petite Mort Edition" morphs the experience into a mystifying, drug-delayed climax, dragging every crescendo into an edged squeal. Bonus points for providing a long-form mixed version for the tantra demons on the digi version. Who said ambient music can't be sexy?
Coil’s gaping vaults give up their esoteric erotic massage parlour soundtrack supplemented by tracks from 1993’s ‘Themes For Derek Jarman’s Blue’. This is Coil at their most beautiful - in places best compared to Art Of Noise's 'Moments in Love'...
After recently cropping up on one of the Threshold Archive CDs, Coil’s seven tracks of creamy new age parlour music make a kinda incredible release on their own, with the culminating cuts for Derek Jarman making for a very happy ending in certain Coil fan’s fantasies. For the most, this is Coil doing sensual New Age music in a very early ‘90s style, all choral harmonies and blushing digital pads primed for your comedown or floatation tank session, but edged with that unfathomable sense of eeriness that’s practically made Coil a byword for all things queered and quasi-mystic.
It gets very weird when the masseuses’ hands turns to tentacle with the plasmic ooze of ‘Part 5’, and in the mix of raga drone and sleazy rhythmic creep in ‘Part 6’, with the set all arranged to lead up to a tantric disco noise climax as only these guys could in the pair of Jarman soundtrack parts recalling their work on the sort sibling soundtrack release, ‘Gay Man’s Guide…’.
45th anniversary reissue of Alvin Lucier’s momentous and mesmerising debut: a landmark of the late c.20th avant garde, unavailable on vinyl for 20 years. Massive RIYL John Cage, Robert Ashley, David Behrman, Annea Lockwood
Originally released by the legendary Cramps Records in 1976, ‘Bird and Person Dyning’ hails the point when the Lucier, like his peers of the Sonic Arts Union (David Behrman, Gordon Mumma, and Robert Ashley) really came into his own, offering hugely playful, and considered, responses to the challenges previously laid down by John Cage, and forming a singular new body of work in the process. Predating Lucier’s better known and totemic piece ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’ (1981), the two works on ‘Bird and Person Dyning’ highlight an earlier, spellbinding iteration of his fascination with acoustic phenomena and auditory perception, using a mix of Cageian strategy and poetic personal wit to explore the nuance of textural contrasts and, with it, the meaning of sound’s materiality.
Quite unlike anything before it, the A-side’s “grotesque jukebox” work ‘The Duke of York’ bears traces of the vocal explorations that would inform ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’. Reciting from an assembly of assorted texts of “whole songs, speeches, arias, selected excerpts from books, letters, poems, films, plays, TV series or any other vocal sounds, including non-human ones” the composer’s voice becomes progressively processed from subtly stereo-swept hush, to deeply uncanny warble, and ultimately a proto-noise mulch over its 20 minutes. With hindsight, we could draws parallels with what TG were doing at the time, but there’s a more elegant nature to Lucier’s work that bridges the more disciplined, oblique work of Cage with something more dreamlike, that relishes in the grain and psychedelic nature of the sound itself.
The B-side’s ‘Bird and Person Dyning’ however showcases Lucier’s obsession with space, and particularly in relation to the body. By way of binaural microphones, he captures the pre-recorded sounds of birdsong phasing and creating interference patterns as he moves between the speakers, with the slightest tilt of the head causing shifts in feedback timbres and volume. The results are on the cusp of harshly bittersweet and even visceral, uncannily sharing the artist’s POV in a way that will play with your own proprioception and question your grasp of place in the world. Again, there are possible links to be drawn with the likes of NWW’s feedback experiments on ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ some years later, and we can possibly hear this piece as a natural bridge between Messiaen’s work with birdsong, thru the tones of Clara Rockwell’s theremin, and the alien scapes of early electronics - but Lucier is looser and more enchanting with his subtly tactile sense of freedom.
This lot have released 5 x 12”s anonymously over the last 3 years via Hardwax and there’s no info about them anywhere, pretty sneaky.
They now land on Mana, a label so esoteric it has a flowchart on its website showing you how to get from Luc Ferrari to Nico Jaar in one short leap.
There are 4 long tracks, one per side, each clocking in at 15 mins and each taking time to expand into being. There is persistent water drumming, the a side is all exotic melodica, nature sounds and bells with Flanger-esque bass humps plus some water drumming, side 2 has a very burial mix sounding bassline sat low in the mix to give the water drumming more presence, side C is more reflective and serene tropical vibes, with side D giving it some classic dub pressure and location recordings which we think we once heard Bill Kouligas play on the radio a few years back and which is dope as fuck.
So yeah, it sounds a bit like a k-hole version of Burnt Friedman & Atom Heart’s early Flanger gear crossed with Burial Mix and that incredible water drumming vid dust to digital posted a while back on there tweeter.
Wet Leg's self titled debut album.
"After releasing two of the best singles of the year, Wet Leg’s Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers were catapulted from their confines on the Isle of Wight to sold out venues across the UK and packed-out tents at festivals causing giddy excitement wherever they went. Now, the duo are thrilled to unveil their debut album. The album is called ‘Wet Leg’ via Domino.
‘Wet Leg’ was recorded and produced in the main by Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey (‘Chaise Longue’ and ‘Angelica’ were produced by Jon McMullen and Josh Mobaraki respectively). The album was mostly recorded in London, in April 2021, meaning they had a finished album before the world had even heard debut single ‘Chaise Longue’ or played live. “I guess how it happened was unconventional,” admits Hester."
Yusuke Ogawa selects a diverse set of Japanese jazz deep cuts from the Nippon Columbia vaults, with WaJazz classics from Jiro Inagaki, Minoru Muraoka, Hiroshi Suzuki and others.
While Japan's interest in jazz is well documented, it's taken decades for the country's homegrown jazz to achieve interest from outside the rare groove scene. In the 2000s, Japan began to reevaluate its jazz history, referring to the music as "WaJazz" and establishing it as its own specific genre - connected to US jazz traditions but also existing on its own. Yusuke Ogawa is perhaps the country's foremost expert on WeJazz, he's been running Tokyo's collector-centric Universounds store since 2001, and he's also supervised dozens of reissues and compilations, as well as lending his expertise to the WaJazz Disc Guide and the Independent Black Jazz of America books.
Ogawa notes that on this selection of tracks, there's "something uniquely Japanese flowing through that creates a kind of synergy." On the surface, the modern jazz flow of Takeo Moriyama's 'Watarase' might sound familiar, but look a little closer - those flutes! - and its Japanese qualities rise high above. Elsewhere, Tadaaki Misago & Tokyo Cuban Boys' 'Sakura Sakura' is a cinematic Blaxploitation-style groover, but skronks in the most unexpected places, while Soul Media's 'Breeze' augments loose, lite funk with Japanese percussion in the most subtle way. From beginning to end, this is sublimely high quality material that shines a bright light on a scene that's well deserving of closer attention.
Pavement's Spit On A Stranger EP on Matador.
"Issued to accompany the deluxe 23rd anniversary edition of Terror Twilight.
Includes never-before-released live recording of "Harness Your Hopes," from Pavement's final shows at the Brixton Academy in 1999."
Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen finally hits out alone on 'You Belong There', exploring the "uncharted territory of adulthood" via prog-folk compositions that highlight his confident vocals and knotty, multilayered guitars. RIYL Big Thief, Dirty Projectors, Fleet Foxes.
It's surprising that Rossen has taken this long to assemble his debut full-length. 'You Belong There' is an amply large-format album that picks up where 2017's "Painted Ruins" left off; Rossen's well-read fusion of US folk, heady prog and engineering nous is still at the center of his craft.
'You Belong There' is a more mature proposition though; the jangling guitars and earnest vocals are cut with a self-aware sense of impending doom. On the album's title track, ominous strings and jazzy percussion simmer beneath Rossen's questioning vocals; it's only a short interlude, but injects the album with dreamlike thematic weight. 'Unpeopled Space' and 'Shadow in the Frame' are more trad - almost classic rock jukebox soundalikes, elevated by smart lyrical touches and a musicality that sets Rossen apart from many of his contemporaries.
Dub techno and deep house pressure systems from Toronto’s Emissive, following the trajectory of his debut with Pacific Rhythm
Also known as Active Surplus, here he doubles his Emissive tally with a handful of diverse variations within a theme, scaling from the brisk, scudding dub techno and rolling breaks of ‘Quartz Register’ to square bass-riding house depths on ‘Natural Springs’, spacing out on the pendulous ’Sunset yellow’, and tending to airy, stepping electronica in ‘Clophyll’, before taking it to the bedroom with the winky electro-disco of ‘Constellation of Friends’.
Loraine James scratches her IDM itch on Whatever the Weather, centering her obsession with Telefon Tel Aviv and DNTEL, and slamming those sounds together with emo vocals and math rock structures.
Named after a Less Than Jake song, Whatever the Weather is a marked left turn for James. It's not as if she hasn't explored these sounds before, but here she's unchained from the R&B, drill and pop modes she's made her calling card. She's never been shy about her interest in American Football and Deftones, but it's made completely clear on a track like '30°C', where she sings calmly over skeletal beats and cascading synth tones - not just evoking her influences but sounding similar to Hood's ace "Cold House" too.
James tangles D&B breaks with pitch-mangled vocals on '17°C', but retains the album's frozen mood, dipping the sound in-and-out of cityscape field recordings. On '10°C' she forgoes a beat completely, instead working with dipped sine tones and experimenting with glacial ambience. It's a rewarding diversion that plays like a victory lap.
Luaka Bop's tribute to gospel performer Pastor Wylie Champion and his wife Mother Champion is a touching experience - both died while their debut was being assembled, and are memorialized here with a striking set of soulful, DIY jams.
Luaka Bop stumbled across Pastor Champion when they were readying "The Time for Peace Is Now: Gospel Music About Us". The label had come across a set of YouTube videos recorded at Oakland's 37th Street Baptist Church put together by Bishop Dr. W.C. McClinton, and Champion was a stand-out performer. His raw blues-inflected songs - recorded mostly with electric guitar and vocals, and sometimes a larger ensemble - is hard not to fall for. Sadly, as this debut album was being sorted, Pastor Champion and his wife both died within months of each other, making the collection even more resonant.
The most memorable moments here are also the most intimate - 'I Know That You've Been Wounded (Church Hurt)' is an early highlight, and features little more than Champion's voice and a delicately strummed guitar. It's simple but effective, and Pastor Champion's assertive, characteristic vocals have enough personality to carry the emotion alone. But the larger group pieces, like 'Talk To God' and the deliriously funky 'Who Do Men Say I Am' are impressively interactive, with additional singers and church call-and-response action.
Whisper-quiet new age/ambient vignettes from Japanese multi-instrumentalist Masahiro Takahashi. Swaying, elegant and almost unfathomably beautiful - one for fans of Hiroshi Yoshimura's "Green".
After a cold winter in his adopted home of Toronto, Takahashi decided to assemble a meditation on both seasons and distance, taking into account the era's forced isolation. Using a selection of softsynths, samplers, controllers and a shruti box, he put together a series of vignettes that accurately capture the particular nostalgia of immigrants. This is Japanese music, but is also music for and about a Japan that only exists in Takahashi's memory as he is surrounded by vastly different people and places.
"Flowering Tree, Distant Moon" is a subtle, unashamedly pretty record, but there's no escaping its distinct sadness. It conjures landscapes, but they feel like landscapes once experienced that no longer exist. Surreal and sometimes psychedelic, it's a vividly painted picture thats colors shift fluidly from track to track.
Official soundtrack for "Spencer" written by Jonny Greenwood.
"Spencer is an upcoming biographical drama film directed by Pablo Larraín (No, Jackie) and written by Steven Knight, based on the later years of the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and starring Kristen Stewart in the titular role. The score is written by Jonny Greenwood, the lead guitarist and keyboardist of the alternative rock band Radiohead, who has written a number of acclaimed film scores such as Phantom Thread, There Will Be Blood and Norwegian Wood."
The fifth album-length collaboration between acclaimed poet Susan Howe and Gastr del Sol's David Grubbs, 'Concordance' is the duo's most minimal set to date, paring their sound down to just piano and voice to accent Howe's transcendent poetry.
It's Howe's distinctive voice that ignites her fifteen years of collaboration with Grubbs. When they started working together, she was already a well established poet and critic, but her work with Grubbs has taken her poems to another level and not just because they could now be presented with musical accompaniment; when performing with Grubbs, Howe's words take a certain tone and the delivery itself becomes a central part of the experience. This quality sits at the center of "Concordance", with Grubbs allowing his instrumentation and processing to slip into a minimalist backdrop.
Here, Grubbs' piano trails off slowly with unhurried reverberation, never taking focus away from Howe's well-sculpted vocal complexity. Her poems could exist without music at all, but alongside Grubbs, he words are given an illumination that's both fitting and transcendent.
Swiss artist Belia Winnerwisser's second album "SODA" is a sugary set of divergent pop experiments influenced by a year without club nights.
Light-hearted and cartoonish, "SODA" blends the clattering IDM of Mouse on Mars or Matmos with vocal pop and muted club elements. 'Ancient Monument' finds videogame leads sprouting from razortooth beats and ugly digital noizze, while 'So Real' sounds closer to '90s diva pop but backs Winnerwisses vocals with an icy dembow rhythm.
'Peaceful Darkness' is almost like early Arca - tweaky anxious electronics and jubilant vocals that teeters on the edge of beautiful and ominous. It's vivid music that dances around genre tropes with a haphazard energy and sense of fun.
Folly Group's new EP "Human and Kind" on Ninja Tune imprint Technicolour.
"The four-piece of Sean Harper, Louis Milburn, Kai Akinde-Hummel and Tom Doherty formed in the tumultuous melting-pot of the London musical circuit. They released their debut EP Awake and Hungry last year receiving wide acclaim for their electronic infused post-punk sound and furiously brilliant live shows, landing coveted slots at Pitchfork Music Festival, in NME’s “100 Artists On The Rise” and a co-sign from IDLES’ singer Joe Talbot. Speaking about the EP, Folly Group said: “Where Awake and Hungry doubled as a diary of the band’s formative months and encapsulation of our live show, Human and Kind is a projection of our ambition, and our desire to push ourselves through what we might previously have perceived as the ceiling of possibility for four players.”"
Brilliant guess-again label chOOn!! do Shangaan disco archaeology with a strong primer on the roots of a sound that burst thru internationally in 2010 thanks to Nozinja and co on Honest Jon’s.
Adding to a growing international awareness of South East Africa’s incredibly fecund electronic dance music traditions, ‘Tsonga Tremors: Explorations in Tradition, Technology & South African Dance Music (1983 - 1991)’ follows ace comps on Bubblegum and Kwaito with an in-depth, hyperlocal survey of works from the Tsonga region, located between southern Mozambique and Limpopo and Mpamalanga in what’s now known as SA. As with many recordings made in the region in the face of Apartheid, the music remains incredibly optimistic and primed for good times despite the inclement politics.
In a practical inversion of Western politics manifesting thru dark or angry music, Tsongan musicians meshed local rhythms and politics with imported dance-pop grooves as a means of solidarity and swerving cultural censorship (Apartheid meant they were banned on radio), using more affordable technology to create music and establish a tight underground, street-level distribution network so effective that it’s taken the rest of the world decades to cotton on to their releases.
Their passion and verve is unmistakeable across this set, from wickedly bolshy power moves such as Xigangu Xaphorisa’s strutting ‘Kaya’ programmed along with the lilting charms of ‘Vafunshisi’ by Jackson Maximbyi & The Mpfumarhi Sisters, and the head-high boogie vamps of Mordillo sitting proud beside the joyous brim of ‘Wadyiwa Wanuna’ by Julius Mdaka & The Manyuyu J. Sisters, while T-Fisto comes off like the Limpopo Tina Turner on ‘I Want To Be’.
Our first introduction to the oneiric theatrical soundtracks of Lithuanian composer Giedrius Kuprevičius with a reissue of his 1994 gem, including 30 mins of unreleased gear - a must check for fans of Spencer Clark, Pekka Airaksinen, downbeat Rephlexian oddities, Laurie Anderson’s ‘Home of The Brave’, Art of Noise, the Anthony Manning / Irdial axis!
Coming from a label that specialises in obscure, archival and forgotten releases, this one’s a real pearl. Originally created for a theatre play staged in 1994 in Kaunas, Lithuania. Giedrius Kuprevičius was one of the founding members of the pioneering electronic pop outfit Argo and had written dozens of scores for stage and film, imbuing his soundwork with a multitude of artful moods and emotive depth, on display here in a distinctly Eastern European, VHS style.
It fits in with all those aforementioned late 80’s / early 90’s weirdos, but we’re most reminded of the sheer technolust and wonder of Laurie Anderson’s ‘Home of the brave’, crossed with a kind of purist energy that would later come to typify Sleeparchive’s earliest incarnation as Skanfrom, and much of the Irdial label’s intersection with retro-futurist ideas - especially Anthony Manning’s quasi-baroque electro fascinations.
A contemplative, celestial electronic work rendered in a synthetic, often beautiful ambient style which breezily swings with exquisite analogue synth textures and infinity loops. Jazz spontaneity and organic pop impulses lift the meditative veil, ending with a climactic final scene: a sensuous reverie complete with shedding light and gently opening synapses.
Cork-via-Manchester techno ambassador Kerrie pounds out four sleek and deadly techno missiles for James Ruskin’s Blueprint
Kerrie follows the subtle diversities of her 12”s for DBA, I Love Acid, and her Dark Machine Funk label with characteristically restless, stylish chops on the ‘Raw Regimen’ EP. The title tune is a classy take on the Detroit/UK axis fuelled with horsepower hoof and stacked, spiralling arps akin to Mills or indeed Ruskin, whereas ‘Native Intelligence’ works deeper into a minimalist electro-techno style with fluid hydrodynamics comparable to Mike Parker, but riddled with her own devilish details. ‘Poly Pressure’ switches again to swingeing, offset loops and properly bugged out leads, with ‘Turning Point’ as the EP’s most experimental cut in the classic B2 position, testing out pitch-bent microtonal motifs and odd drum programming shades away from recent Blawan workouts.
Jacques Greene returns with new work alongside Joel Ford, Satomimagae (RVNG) and Leanna Macomber.
"‘Fantasy’ pushes Greene further into his downtempo and ambient influences than ever before. Since releasing his last studio album, ‘Dawn Chorus’, in 2019, Jacques Greene has scored the short film ‘Exhaust’, Glenn Kaino’s installation piece ‘Tidepools’ (alongside Nosaj Thing), and video game ‘Homeschool’, pklus remixes for artists such as Para One, DC Salas, Amtrac, Kllo, Elohim, Kacy Hill and Montreal disco legends Lime."
Following the release of the first two parts of CAN's live series, Mute and Spoon Records reissue Soundtracks.
"Soundtracks, a compilation of songs CAN had composed for different movies, was released in 1970 before the band started work on their second album.
This record said goodbye to the band's original vocalist Malcolm Mooney, who features on ‘Soul Desert’ and ‘She Brings The Rain’, to be replaced by Japanese singer Damo Suzuki. Bridging the gap between the improvisatory rock jams of their earlier recordings, Monster Movie and Delay 1968, Soundtracks also laid the foundations for their more electronic and experimental sounding work, such as Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi."
Wet Leg's debut single, "Chaise Longue".
"Amidst a night of hazy scenes in their native Isle of Wight, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers found themselves at the summit of a Ferris wheel. They decided to start a band. The band is called Wet Leg. Arming themselves with guitars, a penchant for French disco, effervescent imaginations and a shared love of the The Ronettes and Jane Birkin, through to Ty Segall and Bjork, they set about making some recordings of their own. Enter their debut single, Chaise Longue."
Foundational hard Detroit techno ravers from Rob Hood c.1992, originally dispensed as The Vision on the Hardwax label, now making its 30th anniversary reissue with M-Plant
One of a handful of tuffened excursions on Hardwax (a precursor to M-Plant, nowt to do with the Berlin shop) beside the hair-raising L A M bangers by Drexciya, Mills’ H-Bomb ramrods, and tricksier minimalism of The Mathematic Assassins; Hood’s Missing Channel projects charts his flirtation with nastier European hardcore techno during its prime early phase, as it reached critical mass, but before it refracted into gabber prototypes and myriad other strains.
The 1992 follow-up to his hoover and breakbeat-crazed ‘Onslaught’ 12” sees Hood in the process of refining his style to something more recognisable,still going hard between the gnashing, buzzing bounce of ‘H-Formula’, the L A M-esque heck of ‘Virus-4-9K561’, but drawing closer to his patented sound on the locked in minimalism of ‘A-472.0’, and Suburban Knight-paralleling hulk and thrust of ‘Dread’.
Beat builder for Kendrick Lamar and Joey Bada$$, Knxwledge comes correct with his first new album since 2015, a decade on from his debut with Dublin’s All City Records
Holding tight against the ubiquity of trap music, Knxwledge sticks to his guns (samplers) in a vintage-soul licking hip hop style on ‘1988’, tiling 22 tracks of deep and rugged MPC knocks alongside shroomie skits and a couple of joints featuring his NxWorries homie Anderson .Paak (Itkanbe[Sonice]) and Durand Bernard & Rose Gold on the slick boogie soul downstroke ‘Minding_My Business’. It’s a proper hip hop album in a really old skool, ruffkut MPC sense, sure to appeal to backpack dads and their ilk.
Kapriole is the debut album by Zurich- and Hamburg-based artist Leo Hofmann after working in music theatre, sound art, and performance contexts.
"Central to the album, which refers in its title to a joyous jump, is the ambition to translate an ephemeral practice into recorded matter. Fixed but never static, Kapriole is informed by intimate and detailed listening situations and sound practices like ASMR or the acoustically sheltered world of noise cancelling headphones. And while it is apparent that Hofmann has a deeply rooted understanding of technology and its abundant possibilities, Kapriole is a tender and almost analogue feeling affair. The human voice occupies a central role in the musical configuration of the album: quirky repetitions, hushed fragments and poetic statements, circling topics like communication, mobility, and immersion occupy the album’s eight tracks. The result is a sonorous sensation, which, in its scarcity, paves the way for meticulously crafted and delicate soundscapes. Kapriole as a joyous jump which is technological as much as it is emotional."
Remarkable collaboration between inventor, synth pioneer and EMS co-founder Peter Zinovieff and preeminent cellist Lucy Railton, capturing a life-altering dialogue between two figures with a more than 50-year age gap between them, and with very little shared musical vocabulary. Pursuing common ground through an open-ended series of conversations and experiments, the pair somehow produce what we can only describe as creative alchemy; transforming banal conceptual triggers into a work seeping into almost mystical dimensions, with immense personal resonance.
Initially conceived as a live project between the pair and performed at various festivals internationally between 2016-2017, this 35 minute recording feels like just one possible manifestation of an ever-evolving process, a one-off reproduction of an impossible image. The pair started working instinctively, playing to each of their strengths - Railton’s radical ideas, energy and technique, and Peter's inventive, impulsive thinking. Fuelled by their surroundings and through an exchange of ideas, the process they eventually embarked on saw Zinovieff model a computer-synthesised composition made from a series of Railton’s cello improvisations, creating a complex cluster of intricate parts that couldn’t ever be performed by human hands. Over the resulting web, Railton added solo cello to create a kind of double-helix where you’re never quite sure where one sound begins, or ends.
In essence, Railton’s cello provides a radical variable - a sort of spirit in the machine - which is diffused, inverted and scattered by Zinovieff. At the atomic level: chaos reigns. Zoom out a bit, though, and you start to see filigree detail and shapes emerge. It’s this intangible aspect that makes the piece so much more than just a document of process, or experimentation.
It’s worth noting that Railton is here the catalyst for what can be considered Zinovieff’s definitive work in an illustrious career spanning 60 years; RFG is, remarkably, his first ever album. And despite its unwavering, un-sentimental spirit - it’s an album that ultimately speaks to a very modern human condition; the search for common understanding when there is so much that separates us. Inter-generational differences. Our interaction with, and perception of, the world around us. Our relationship with technology. And despite that very academic-sounding title; our individual need to find and nurture the things and ideas that bind.
Sound poet and multidisciplinary artist Félicia Atkinson follows 2017’s cherished ‘Hand In Hand’ album with this spellbinding study on loneliness and intimacy, crafted while pregnant and on tour. Félicia notably draws Sunn 0)))’s Stephen O’Malley into her meso plane on the collaborative 19 minute closing cut ‘Des Pierres’, a quietly startling end to another captivating album from one of the most interesting minds working on the contemporary scene, perfectly encapsulating a sense of uneasy calm in the midst of so much global uncertainty.
To enter any Felicia Atkinson album is to give yourself up to another world where perceptions of time and space subliminally become short-circuited and synaesthetic. Combining illusive electro-acoustic process and meticulously tactile vocals reciting poetry, Felicia’s music rarely fails to provide anything other than an intoxicating experience, and her powers of perception appear to be uniquely attuned on ‘The Flower And The Vessel’. As she states; “this is not a record about being pregnant, it’s a record made with pregnancy”, and as such the results are more ambiguous, riddled with a cosmic web of references to musical memory and onotology, as much as nature and the strange subtleties of the everyday.
The album’s theme of loneliness while touring has historically provided much grist to the artistic mill over the years, but rather than tales of excess and depression, Félicia handles her subject matter more meditatively, using small gestures such as “recording my voice, recording birds, a simple melody” to locate her place in the foreign worlds around her, and in the process answer the questions “What am I doing here? How can I connect to the world?”.
The first 10 tracks are barely watermarked with her presence, with opener ‘L’Après-Midi’ acting as a poetic diary entry, where she fills in subsequent pages with a mix of notes both metaphorical and musical, from the unsettling intimations of ’Shirley to Shirley’ inward-spiralling vocals of ‘You Have to Have Eyes’, to the micro-to-macro contemplation ‘Linguistics of the Atom’, while album highlights ‘Lush’ and ‘L’Enfant Et Le Poulpe’ speak to a elusive sense of the pastoral, perhaps as viewed form a distance.
When she finally does meet another tangible soul, Stephen O’Malley, in the 18 minute finale ‘Des Pierres’, it’s testament to both her own vision and O’Malley’s tactile range that his harmoniously strung-out contribution is so seamlessly woven into her parallel dimension, that you may need to be reminded he’s there, sublimated in-the-mix.
Karate's 1998 album The Bed Is The Ocean, via Numero Group.
"A lingering guitar note. A cushion of a bassline nudging along a hushed cadence unspooling impressionistic poeticism one halting line at a time; the sparse snap of a snare providing punctuation. This is how Boston’s Karate opened their third full-length, 1998’s The Bed Is In The Ocean.
Perhaps this was a reaction to the aggressive punk tones that marked their previous album, or maybe they hoped to capture the somnambulant dusk on one of those pristine fall days that make living in a town whose population swells when colleges welcome back students all worthwhile. Then again, Karate never made a point of chasing the same idea twice, and opener “There Are Ghosts” remains in line with the band’s stylistic intrepidness and unpredictability.
Singer-guitarist Geoff Farina frequently teased out the emotional nuances of each song, his worn-in voice shading in the complexities of his enigmatic lyrics; no matter how difficult it may be to parse his snatched-from-daily-life wisdoms, on The Bed Is In The Ocean Farina sounded like a guy who knew exactly the right thing to tell whoever may be listening. And with Karate’s snaking turns through quasi-punk reveries no one else appeared capable of mustering, it’s comforting to hear it accomplished by a band that knew exactly what they were doing."
Properly absorbing electronic enigmas from Zaheer Gulamhusein (Xvarr, Waswaas) and Justin Tripp (Georgia), following their noses down the rabbit hole into aether-chamber interzones adjacent to Coil, Conrad Schnitzler, Werkbund, and Jeff Mills’ deep space missions.
A strong case of two artists transcending the sum of their parts, String present an immersive exploration of the unknown, realising a “virtual vacation” from which they never returned. Their quest somehow made it into the mitts of Hamburg’s V I S, where it follows the label’s Ditterich von Eulberg-Donnersberg (Werkbund) album with uniquely engaging findings from the brink; eight tracks rendered in swirling sci-fi noir tones, siren-like chorales and plangent off-planet pads scried with a kosmiche twinkle in their 3rd eye. In other words: the sort stuff you may well have come to these pages for.
In its elusive fluidity and unfathomably spatialized scope, we find the duo fusing to project a sound that, without prior notice, would be difficult to attribute to either artist. There are no doubt traces of Zaheer’s new age toned work as Xvarr and the microtonal shimmer of Waswaas, and likewise Tripp's mutant sensibilities carried over from Georgia, but they’re distilled to a darker substance than anything we’d come to expect.
It’s not so much gothic dark, more dark as in full of negative space, with a richly meditative appeal that threads their hardware improvisations from the Millsian deep space intrigue of ‘Phase Transition’ thru the eldritch eeriness of ‘World Line’, to the illusive choral motifs of ‘Fringe’ and oceanic abstraction of ‘From the End to the Beginning’, with glimmers of a more lush, idealistic hope in ‘Plus Operator’ and the cinematic ‘Degrees of Freedom’ that beautifully moderate the journey.
XKatedral Anthology I is the first in a series of archival releases dedicated to presenting music by XKatedral affiliated composers working within the realm of slowly evolving harmonic and timbral music. This double-vinyl set contains an array of pieces dating from 2010 - 2020. Four of the works included here were originally released on cassette tape early on in the label's history, while the two remaining pieces are presented by the label for the first time.
"The works Ir Himinn, Grooenn by Kristoffer Svensson, Disquiet (Heart) by Marta Forsberg and Lamé by Isak Edberg were first released on the compilation XKatedral Volume II in 2016. Svenssons piece from 2014 combines justly tuned gamelan percussion and prepared piano intricately interwoven in a way that obscures the boundaries between the two instrument groups. Forsberg and Edbergs pieces both use a monolithic form to explore the timbral and harmonic spaces provided by the Düben Baroque organ situated in Tyska Kyrkan in the oldest part of Stockholm. While similar in terms of instrumentation the two works differ formally - Edbergs Lamé composed in 2010 uses the registers of the organ to articulate a seamless spectral transformation while Forsbergs Disquiet (Heart) from 2014 deals in blocks of sound with a varying degree of opacity, saturation and intensity.
Glory for two electric guitars by Caterina Barbieri and Kali Malone was composed and recorded in Tempo Reale in Florence, Italy, and was originally released on the cassette compilation XKatedral Volume III in 2016. This music takes the form of an ever-evolving hypnotic pattern shared by the two instruments articulated through an additive and subtractive canon. Dissolving Ceremony, composed in 2012 by Edberg/Erlandsson/Lisinski, was first presented publicly on the self-released record Stratum. The music contained in that release was formed from a collection of gamelan percussion instruments augmented by two sets of live-electronic instruments tuned to the harmonic framework formed by the partials of the metal percussion. Originally positioned in the center of the record running order between two long monolithic process-based pieces, Dissolving Ceremony now stands on its own as a memory of a time and methodology from the not so distant past.
The newest piece in this set is Shipwrecks by Daniel M Karlsson. While this work is a recent one Karlsson should be considered one of the forerunners of the musical expression contained within this record set. Active within new music for two decades his strongly articulated musical ideas and constantly evolving craftsmanship has resulted in an enormous body of work, and has served as an inspiration for many of his fellow composers. This piece is a celebration of transposition and its immense capacity for timbral transformation using a vast array of instruments performed, recorded and electronically treated by the composer to form a liquid uncanny topography where a deeply personal harmonic language constantly shifts, slides and shivers."
Volume number 6 from yr friendly ghostephoners.
This one's on an atmospheric, almost weightless flex, nodding to classic Burial (rain on paving stones, slowed autotuned vox), but paired with trills and robust/delayed drums on 'No More Puppy Love', while 'If This World Were Mine' references Actress' Thriller edits with some added/clipped hardcore breaks and full bore reverb.
If yr gonna do edits, do em like dis.
'Hecker Leckey Sound Voice Chimera' presents a radical mashup of works by two probing, multidisciplinary artists among the most vital of their generation.
First realised as part of a two day performance at Tate Modern called 'Push and Pull', it offers a mutant configuration of Leckey's vocal track from 'GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction' (the eerie inner monologue of a Samsung fridge, as heard on the B-side of his 'Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore' vinyl and viewable on youtube), scrambled, decomposed and modulated with Hecker's '3 Channel Chronics' - a sound installation also debuted in 2010, where distinct sounds from three suspended speakers were combined and altered by visitors movements.
The resultant combination, a piercingly abrasive sonic warp visually reflected in the album artwork, intersects both artists' work on a number of levels: the ideas of cultural transcendence core to Leckey's work, correlating with notions of chimerisation - the synthesis of genetically discrete elements; the 3-headed beast of Greek mythology - algorithmic chronics (morphing patterns) and psychophysical audition central to Hecker's practice. Ultimately it sounds utterly freakish, somewhere between the voices of T-1000's mimetic poly-alloy in T2: Judgement Day as he's lowered into molten metal by Arnie's T-800, and a seriously frustrating skype call to Polynesia, if you follow.
No doubt it's not easy listening, but it is deeply satisfying- both conceptually and aesthetically - if you like that kinda thing.
Bijou DIY-ers Notte Brigante are back in longplayer spheres, unearthing this set of elusive industrial-mode percolators that cross synth-age zones in a way that’s almost impossible to accurately date.
The mode is slow and pure, you could be listening to a lost John Bender volume on V-O-D or something contemporary in that style, the production is faithfully analogue and fucked, all drum machine fuzz, space echo and delay pedals deployed with attack and verve.
The sales notes say something about a “dark-ish fever dance of many styles” - which is kinda on the money - if yr into the classic DIY synth styles, cassette culture or that Mecánica Popular peach - this one will push yr buttons, no doubt.
The first release on Séance Centre's 'Speculative Ethnography’ series comes from Alan Briand aka Shelter, deploying slow drum machine pulsations and delay pedals over a wash of smudged keys, harmonised melodica and clipped effects. Industrial-zone DIY-ers - your time!
"Recorded directly to cassette 4-track late at night in Briand’s apartment in Paris with a gathering of temperamental vintage gear, Le Sommeil Vertical captures a somnambulant journey into vibrant analog nether-regions. The hazy sonics harken back to ‘80s DIY cassette culture, but refracted through a prism of fourth world melodics and early IDM rhythm experiments.
The tracks are titled after Burroughs’ Cities of the Red Night, and the book acts as a talisman for the album, setting sci-fi surrealism within expansive arid psychic landscapes. The trance-inducing terrain, mapped out in warm 1/4” tape, moves through phased backstreets, AFX-arrondissements, and dub municipalities. This is music on the nod, an elixir for the sleepwalking flaneur."
Wanda Group crawls inside your ear and plays out an abstract dramaturgy of haptic whorls and macrocosmic events with the bleeding ooze of Central Heating, his 2nd LP for Opal Tapes after 2013’s widely acclaimed Piss Fell Out Like Sunlight slab.
Like some metaphysical Eugene Tooms character from X-Files hybridised with salad fingers, the wiry blighter flosses your head with a frayed concrète ribbon of texturhythmic pattern and long, pointy digits that really get in there and fiddle around the grey goo.
A Bag of Warm Milk evokes the sensation of extruding your mind thru a nice, warm set of pipes in a haunted OAP’s home set on the moors, or maybe the boiler room of an ancient hospital, imagining you/him as particle convected thru time and space in state of amniotic bliss, not a f**king care in the world.
On the other hand, Easy in the Future is conversely warning and alert, vacillating passages of panicked dissonance and pensive ambience picking up the rumbles of distant traffic. Of course there is possibly some deeper meaning to it all, then again, it might just be meant to feel nice and trippy and make your teeth curl.
Chuff knows, but we like it a lot.
Calexico's Joey Burns and John Convertino return with their 10th studio album, El Mirador; a hopeful, kaleidoscopic beacon of rock, bluesy ruminations and Latin American sounds.
"Convening at longtime bandmate Sergio Mendoza's home studio in Tucson, Arizona, the ensemble recorded throughout the summer of 2021, crafting one of their most riveting and whimsical productions to date. Convertino, who now resides in El Paso, and Burns, who relocated to Boise in 2020, channeled cherished memories of Southwestern landscapes and joyful barrio melting pots into an evocative love letter to the desert borderlands that nourished them for over 20 years.
“El Mirador” features gossamer vocals from Guatemalan singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno, while Spanish rocker Jairo Zavala brings his signature bravado to “Cumbia Peninsula.” By working with friends and recurring collaborators, Calexico also highlights the unique social and linguistic intersections at the US-Mexico border and the magnificent possibilities of a borderless world."
Signing to a major label - even one of the calibre of Real World - seems to have been a mixed blessing for Hannah Peel. On the one hand there’s no denying the epic sense of scale that seeps through the orchestration, arrangements, the recording, mixing, mastering - everything sounds incredible, flawless (the Paraorchestra - a unique ensemble of disabled and non-disabled musicians - are clearly top tier). But on the other hand, is flawless what you wanna hear? Add enough sheen and things start to feel a bit hollow.
So while 10 minute opener 'The Universe Before Matter’ taps into a similar spot as Arve Henriksen’s still entirely untouchable 'An Opening Image’ (swear down, is there a more low-key influential piece of music in all of contemporary classical / film music, Arvo Pärt excepted?), and ‘Passage’ is effortlessly moving with its Max Richter-esque alignment of fleet-footed brass and glacial strings, it doesnt take long for things to take an overworked turn, 'If After Weeks Of Early Sun’ is more or less indistinguishable from something you might hear on Strictly.
There are moments on this album that are just inarguably great, but - not gonna lie - that's a bit of a buzkill.