Laurel Halo focusses and diffracts her energies into the hi-tech jazz-fusion advancement of Dust; her stellar 3rd album with Hyperdub following the modern classic Quarantine  and the harder-to-grasp Chance Of Rain .
Whilst fully formed in their own rights, those records now appear to be a playground or warm-up for the stunningly loose yet instinctively coherent geometries and ideas that crystallise, slosh and flit all over this one, and which should surely place Halo among the most enigmatic artists in her astral field.
While swarmed with a daring roll call of collaborators such as Klein, Eli Keszler, Julia Holter, $hit & $hine and Max D, Laurel’s myriad ideas both anchor and form a glowing lattice which beautifully perfuses the whole record, tying together her roots in Detroit techno’s makeup - sci-fi, jazz, electro, japanese electronics, dub and nEuropean concrète - and seamlessly incorporating up-to-the-minute gestures from pop, R&B and 4.1 world dimensions in the most elusive yet insoluble style of her own.
If pushed to reduce that concoction to any one common factor, it’s got to be the sense of keening electronic soul that lights up the whole album, lending a cybernetic sensuality and pathos that’s entirely of its time yet totally transcendent for anyone with ears open wide enough to accept the interrelated nature of all the above references.
It would take a braver scribe than us to properly dissect each track, but the exercise would also be a a little pointless or, at least like like describing architecture thru dance, which funnily enough is perhaps the best analogy; a prism thru which to view the deliquescent R&B physics of Solar To Sun and Jelly at the album’s front, to the 3D weft of tribal percussion and Kraftwerkian bleeps wrapped into the avant-pop structure of Moontalk and the insectoid perspective of Nicht Ohne Risiko, or drifting out of 10th storey windows in the dusk of a hot summer day in Who Won? at the album’s core, whilst Syzygy sounds like an ancient construction site visited by a choir of swooping R&B angels from the future.
There’s little doubt that Dust will be one of our favourite albums for the (hopefully) long hot summer of 2017 and beyond; it’s just a brilliant, imaginative and inspiring piece of work.
Blinding Sun Ra reissue, finding Ra on his newly acquired Crumar Mainman synth (with early drum machine!) in stellar 1978 recordings from the same Italian sessions that birthed ‘Disco 3000’ and ‘The Sound Mirror’
Well known to Ra disciples, but not as much to everyone else who stands by his catalogue and doesn’t know where to start, ‘Media Dream’ is a massive highlight of Sun Ra’s fecund period circa 1977 and 1980 - the peak of his output of new LPs.
Recorded live sometime in January 1978, the album is really most distinguished by Ra’s inimitable use of the Crumar Mainman keyboard, which was then - and still is - a rare model of “string synthesiser” that was only manufactured between the 60s and ’84. It captivatingly lights up the whole LP, from the super dark and grungy blasts that open with ‘Saturn Research’ thru its application as bubbling groove box underlining Ra’s hieroglyphic riffs and Michael Ray’s sharp trumpet in ‘Constellation’, to the wigged out blatz in ‘Year of the Sun’, before spiralling out into gobsmacking double helixes of synth and trumpet and collapsing into alien squabble on the title tune.
A legendary wig-flipper, this!
Detroit don Omar-S drops a hot 7" cut of raw and undiluted tracky styles similar to his recent Sound Signature record.
The A-side track 'Out Of 853 Beats' is lopped from his forthcoming FabricMix and works like a tight little tool for the DJ's. Much the same can be said for 'Hot Ones Echo Through The Ghetto', with a purposeful jack track layered with ricocheting delays and reverbs for a hoods-up trip through Omar-S's ends. Comes pressed on puce coloured vinyl and hand numbered by the man himself.
Hawt and strictly limited!
God bless DJ Nobu for taking the initiative and pressing up a highlight of Pan Sonic’s ‘Katodivaihe’ album, which has, inexplicably, never been released on vinyl
‘Lähetys’ is the cut that memorably crashed in after Hildur Gudnadottir takes our head off with the cello on the opening cut of ‘Katodivaihe.’ From its opening of distress signal bleep patterns and lacquer-crackling noise, comes an almighty, soundsystem-rocking electro-dub-noise pattern regularly overwhelmed with tidal surges of noise that threaten to buckle the whole thing but, nah it keeps on swaggering like the last raver on the planet running down the final batteries in his boombox.
Solid debut LP of cranky IDM, mutant techno and immersive, layered ambience from Amsh
Toiling an industrial space somewhere between Jasss, Scorn and Heith, the introductory LP by Seville, Spain’s Amsh renders a full formed sound subtly defined by its palette of layered, textured field recordings. Inspired by grief and coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, it’s a suitably moody record given to a dark flux of feelings spelt out in a narrative style animated by Amsh’s meticulous, haunted sound design.
A passage of dread voices from beyond opens the LP, giving way to the lurching swagger of ‘Negación’ and the pendulous roil of ‘Ira’. His dark ambient virtues really come into play on the impending gloom of ‘Transición’, and the ruffshod techno of ‘Depression’ recalls Mick Harris’ Fret gear, and the final couplet of oozing subs and sluggish drum slugs into distressed electronics of ‘Emoción Predominante Part1, La Verdad (Rebelión)’ and ‘Emoción Predominante Part2, La Vida’ give a sorely raw sense of closure.
Reissue of Rajan’s under-the-radar, 1984 UK electro-funk missile on Melbourne’s Left Ear Records
The sole release on St. James Records back in ’84, ‘Impossible Dreams’ clearly echoes an NYC disco-not-disco and electro sound a la Material or some Kid Creole cut, but in that sweetly mutated-in-translation style common to the UK/US dancefloor dialogue.
An absolute treasure of an album, CS + Kreme’s debut is an early contender for 2020’s best - a quietly seductive, deeply romantic and stealthily addictive long player in the most classic, enduring sense.
’Snoopy’ has got under our skin with its opiated elegance and spellbinding hooks over the precious few months we’ve had the pleasure of spending in its company. Through eight immaculate songs and instrumentals, the duo’s Conrad Standish and Sam Karmel expand on the stripped-down chamber-pop of their prized 2016 debut, absorbing aspects of baroque composition, ritualist psychedelia, spiritual jazz and avant classical into their patented framework of groggy 808 bass, slow-baked vocals and none-more-effective, hypnagogic atmospheres.
Where CS + Kreme’s debut 12” for Total Stasis irrevocably came to soundtrack a portion of our lives, especially its highlight ‘Devotion’, we suspect these coming years will be defined by the low lit allure and melancholy of ’Snoopy’. We’ve already lost count of the number of times it’s seduced us to the horizontal from the first strokes of warbly organ and Conrad’s velvet croon in ‘Saint’, only to find ourselves stunned by the hypnic tear-jerk of its denouement during the final stages of ‘Mount Warning’, and genuinely wondering how the fuck we got there/what time is it/where did everyone go?
Pay a little more sober attention to it, though, and you’ll discover the most tender, sensuous body of work inside, slipping from exquisite baroque trip hop in ‘Faun House’ to the divine, Coil-esque ritual prostration of ‘Blue Flu’, and enchanted neo-classical keys recalling Dominique Lawalrée in ‘Pussywhistle Tea’, whereas the groggy skronk of ‘The Whale’s Tail’ recalls a smudged and psilocybic instrumental echo of Leslie Winer’s downtown ennui, and ‘Slug’ could almost be a knackered Andy Stott with a dose of sleazy guilt.
We don’t say this often, but this album is practically perfect in every way. It’s like a therapist who calmly draws out your inner feelings and leaves you in floods of tears, feeling cathartic but bruised. And it may come as little surprise that CS + Kreme are intimately linked to HTRK, whose Jonnine Standish also supplies vocals secreted inside (...be kind to animals, aye), and with whom they share a deep musical pathos. If you’re still reading, you’re evidently intrigued, and we implore you to follow thru and cop the most affective album you’ll hear in 2020. We’d be very happily surprised if anyone surpasses this slab.
100% must check.
Christian Fennesz relays four compelling deep space images from his unique electro-acoustic microcosmos in ‘Agora’, the Viennese artist’s first album since ‘Bécs’ 
Borrowing its title from the ancient greek word for a gathering place, ‘Agora’ finds Fennesz creating highly detailed, alien ecologies of sound riddled with myriad, interlaced dynamics, but each singular in their scope. They variously transition from wide-open to busy, hyper-populated zones of enquiry and back again, but paradoxically enough all come as the result of one man in his spare room, composing inside a pair of headphones.
Change of circumstances meant that Fennesz couldn’t use his usual studio and by necessity was limited to what was at hand in his spare bedroom-turned-studio - just like the old days when he wrote his first record. These limitations pushed him further to explore worlds of possibility contained within his guitar and computer, with drily functional titles such as ‘In My Room’ invoking ideas from both Alvin Lucier and J.G. Ballard to explore vast realms of reverberant, imaginary space, while ‘Rainfall’ feels to emulate a lush spring downpour over bust city streets, all splitting greys and oil and concrete reflection, and ‘Agora’ radiates into every corner of the synthesised soundfield with gloriously detached, isolationist effect, alongside the bittersweet then and coruscating texture of ‘We Trigger The Sun’.
In many ways, ‘Weather’ is the culmination of Tycho’s career as a whole – each prior step taken with intention to land on this new creative ground.
"The past 13 years have seen Tycho evolve from a part-time solo project of a graphic designer (Hansen is known internationally for his distinctive design work as ISO50) into a massively successful and world touring live band. The music, too, has fallen in line with this steep trajectory, and each release has introduced new elements to us, ever expanding into untouched sonic territory.
Hansen on the musical progression of Tycho through the years: “With each Tycho album my goal is to evolve and broaden the sound. After The Science of Patterns (2002) and Past is Prologue (2006) -- two primarily electronic solo efforts -- I began incorporating more organic sounds and instrumentation. Dive (2011) saw the addition of guitar and bass guitar while Awake (2014) took it a step further with guitars pushed to the forefront and the use of live drum performances for the first time. Epoch (2016) honed that sound further balancing the electronic and organic components that defined Tycho.” ‘Weather’ intends to reveal a more human side to the music, with the vocal and lyrical components adding a whole new dimension of warmth and life."
The seductively low-key synth-pop/house alias of Sven Riger (SVN, Dreesvn, PG Sounds) digs out a vintage batch of recordings made circa his sought-after ‘Rejected’ LP in 2010-2011
Rescued from his HD at the behest of Cologne’s Film label, the eight tracks of ‘Tase’ blush with a similar sort of soft-lit allure and slunky blend of loose drums, smoked-out vocals and smudged vibes as found on his debut, a decade ago.
Recorded onto 16-track tape machine, Riger’s creations writhe and roll in effortless, late-night/early-morning style, from what sounds like a blunted Tin Man on ’Silence’, to something like an imaginary jam between Move D and KDJ with ‘New Light’, or adjunct to Huerco S. in ‘Paradise’, while ‘The Dog’ trades in most hypnotic deep house tug, and it’s hard to avoid the drowsy pull of gems such as ‘Skateboard’ and the Theo Parrish-esque ‘Slide’.
Score to the documentary film 'Living The Light' by Claire Pijman. The subject of Claire’s film is Robby Müller, the unparalleled Dutch cinematographer and poet of light whose work includes: Paris Texas, Dead Man, Breaking The Waves, Barfly, 24 Hour Party People and at least 70 other films. He also produced many still photographs, like these luminous Polaroids on the jacket of this vinyl recording.
"Claire Pijman is also Dutch, and also a cinematographer. Her film is, happily, not a conventional or formulaic documentary, but more a personal essay focused on Robby’s vision, his gathered images, and his approach to light, to storytelling and to life itself. LIVING THE LIGHT has now been screened at numerous important film festivals around the world, and was recently awarded the top prize for best feature documentary at the Netherlands Film Festival.
As SQÜRL approached creating music for Claire’s film, we attempted to be guided by the beautiful and illuminated elements of Robby’s spirit. We tried to channel his love of the special light during ‘magic hour,’ his love of moving images – from trains and cars, the sadness of certain architecture, or the vibrant energy that can be felt emanating from all living things.
So here is Some Music for Robby Müller created by SQÜRL in NYC and inspired by Claire Pijman’s film, LIVING THE LIGHT, and of course by Robby himself; his perceptions, his wonderful presence, his mind, his heart and his twinkling, mischievous eyes -- through which he communicated, and with which he surveyed the same illusive world still vibrating around us.”
– Jim Jarmusch, NYC, October 2019
Cutesy brass music from members of Tokyo’s Tenniscoats and Biobiopatata, served on vinyl with Alien Transistor after a domestic 2019 Japanese CD edition
“Zayaendo is a Tokyo-based brassband, colorful, unique and adventurous...you won’t find any of the typical brass-bands-cliches here, nor are they a free-unit of improvisors…they nothing less then invited their own genre...Zayaendo Music !
Zayaendo was formed in 2016 by Saya (Tenniscoats, Spirit Fest) and Satomi Endo (Biobiopatata) after Saya was inspired by a performance of the acoustic instrumental band Hochzeitskapelle, who she saw in Munich.
The band also includes Tomoaki Saito, Masaharu Seki (sekifu), Takashi Ueno (Tenniscoats), Kiyokazu Onozaki (Andersens, 2B) and other musicians who play with other bands or as solo artists. Zayaendo consists of somewhere between ten and twenty musicians (depending on who is available to play at that time) and forms an orchestra that plays each other’s compositions as well as covers of experimental timeless masterpieces. Since the band play acoustic instruments, their performance venues vary from the street to the forest.
In 2018, the band played at the Alien Disko Festival #3 with their beloved Hochzeitskapelle, where together they took part in a parade through the streets of Munich to celebrate and ring in the festival.”
Musicians from Belize, Ghana and Glasgow reprise their charming cross-cultural project for Optimo’s Autonomous Africa label, which was set up in 2012 with goal of raising awareness and funds for music of the African diaspora
Revolving members of the Green Door studios (Golden Teacher and Whilst) plus young music makers from adjacent sides of the Atlantic, ‘Youth Stand United’ shimmies from shimmering xylophones and harmonised vox in ‘Tsormemanya’ to cosmic bop in ‘Let’s Go’, with a massive highlight ‘Diloeshutubui’ riffing on a soul disco classic, thru to the “Joe Meek-meets-William Onyeabor” flex of ‘Gidi’, and rolling reggaeton in ‘United We Stand’, and the space-age gospel pop of ‘Nobody Knows’.
“Proceeds from Youth Stand United will go towards a scholarship fund for musicians from Tafi Atome, Ghana.”
One of the most important concrète recordings of all time; Bernard Parmegiani's breathtaking 'De Natura Sonorum' is thankfully reissued in its entirety for the first time.
It's a beguiling feat of spatially diffused concrète dynamics and precise electronic processing providing entry to an extraordinarily vivid and otherworldly soundsphere perfused with sheer, isolated tones, acousmatic alien scree and sudden percussion organised with an abstract yet palpable sense of dramatic narration and timing.
These are rare and incredible sounds, plucked from nature and reformed in a hyperreal ecology with its own measurements of gravity and energy informing their momentum and trajectory within fractured dimensions. Whilst ostensibly as far from pop and dance music as you'd think, the sparse and deliberate coordinates of these musical schematics or sound designs in fact feed forward into much contemporary music when considered in relation to the sampler-chopped and flung dynamics of say, '90s hardcore and jungle, thru to the simulated hyperspace of Monolake and the aerodynamic geometries of Total Freedom's Ableton sculptures.
Ultimately, it's the perfect entry point for anyone intrigued by the crenellated climes of institutional electro-acoustic music, and on a much broader level, a jaw-dropping listen for anyone into the further reaches of electronic and experimental composition.
The maestro presents a sweeping live iteration of his rolling 'Rückverzauberung' series, recorded at London's Church of St John-at-Hackney in 2014.
The Kompakt boss' latest "reverse enchantment" unfolds his patented, languorous symphonics seamlessly across two discs, from billowing brass thru willowing and windswept strings to passages of strange bird calls and drones, and across desolate tracts of calving synthesisers to a climax with a finale of petrifying chorales. Hands-down it trumps any of the 'Rückverzauberung' editions so far for levels of dramatic suspense and the sheer sensation of imposing scale conveyed by the recording itself. Recommended.
Honest Jon’s cough up their stash of original copies of Steve Beresford’s first solo record, ‘The Bath of Surprise’ (1980) - a strong look for anyone into their Derek Bailey and Company reissues, or seeking the square roots of free improvisation, noise, post punk and UK experimental music.
Produced by Beresford’s bandmate in General Strike, David Cunningham, and featuring artwork by another notable band member, David Toop, ‘The Bath of Surprise’ is a bonkers record in a quintessential, eccentric english style chucking everything from the bathwater to the kitchen sink into its thrillingly scrappy vignettes on the A-side, while the B-side sees him stretch out on everything from a piano (with a toy piano inside) to a mutant little dub-shot employing euphonium, Astro-phaser and flugelhorn.
Just ogle at that equipment list: acoustic guitar (with microphone and battery amplifier), percussion, piano, synthesizer (toy), euphonium, trumpet, toy piano, drums, whistling, bass, cymbal, drums, ukulele, cymbal, tape (previous performance), electronics, piano (with toy piano inside), and performer (with whirled bee, whirled tube, clarinet mouthpiece, footclickers, blechtrommel, giggle stick, musicbox, bath water, nailbrush, body, tubes, reeds, balloons, cowbox, musical toothbrush, duck call, electronic bird, squeaky chops, chicken box, toy record player, plastic horn, talking telephone, astro-phaser.
Burning gospel techno, UR style, from DJ John Collins, reissued for its 10th anniversary
The big A-side blends the fruity acid percs with searing, Mad Mike-alike organ vamps to brilliantly conflate club and church vibes (if they aren’t the same thing to a lot of folk), while the B-side’s ‘All We Need’ cuts deeper and funkier with a swinging good times groove built from chicken scratch guitar and flushes of warm Detroit strings.
Total gems both of them!
25 years ago, David Shea released a crafty piece of complex philosophical and narrative audiocollage : The Tower of Mirrors. Composed and produced in New York City, during September-October 1995, it includes 24 tracks, and features guests such as David Morley on analog synthesizer programming, Dave Douglas on trumpet, Zeena Parkins on piano & prepared piano and Jim Pugliese on percussions.
"This is what DS had to say about it in 1995 "In 1994, i wrote a work based on the Hsi-Yu Chi novel for a large ensemble and sampler which used the 100 chapters as a map for creating an independent musical work. The Tower of Mirrors is a work that began as a collection of pieces for sampler solo and for sampler and solo instrumentalist. A series of 'mirrors' for solos and duos based on parts of the novel. Also a collection of tributes to composers in ambient dance music, exotica, easy listening film music and experimental music formed separate points of entry. In particular many of the great arrangers and composers of the period from 1955-64 who were the pioneers of stereo recording such as: Esquivel, Marty Gold, The Three Suns, André Popp... historical teachings (often completely out of order), religious lessons, and a host of allegorical, historical figures encountered much in the same way as in Dante's La Divina Comedia."
Deep house and disco legend Maurice Fulton supplies the 3rd release on Peggy Gou’s Gudu Records
Keeping the label in a classic old skool lane after Peggy’s ‘Moment EP’ and DMX Krew’s ‘Don’t;’ You Want To Play’, Sheffield-based Fulton pipes up with three cuts of saucy dancefloor swag, teaming with Peggy for the trilling, NYC-styled electro-house special ‘Jigoo’, before going solo on the giallo funk vibes of’Not Sure How I Would’, and the sizzling Afro-beatdown psychedelia of ‘One Itself’.
Proper space cadet Steve Moore supplies a superbly dramatic synth and guitar soundtrack for ‘Bliss’, Joe Begos’ 2019 psychedelic vampire horror feature. Make sure to check for the almost rave-ready beatless bass roller ‘You’re Not Going To Die’, the heart-racing thump of ‘Nobody Comes’
“Critically acclaimed multi instrumentalist STEVE MOORE (ZOMBI) presents the score to the 2019 feature film "Bliss". From pulsing, panic-inducing freneticism of tracks such as "The Bite" to calm and contemplative melodies and guitar leads endearing the listener to the film's lead character,"Bliss" sees STEVE MOORE at his most dynamic, intense, and nuanced.”
Gene Hunt jacks yo booty in three ways on Delroy Edwards’ LA Club Resource
Back to bang on LACR after supplying some of the label’s early zingers, Chicago legend Hunt digs out three tuff joints as heard played on radio and in the club way back when.
A-side sports the sizzling hi-hats and percolated toms of ‘Acid 808’ in a direct, tracky style shared by the lithe 303 attack of ‘Oooh Shit’, which adds in jabbing vocal samples for measure. But it’s the freakish, jagged B-side that really gets our attention with its mid-tempo but frenetic, stop/start arrangement of dead early house styles done in the rawest, jerking style possible.
Mecanica unearth a precious stack of spunky ‘80s “Techno-Pop” from lesser-known niches of the underground American wave...
The idea of “Techno-Pop” will surely evoke myriad different definitions, depending on who you ask. But according to Mecanica, its US iteration sounds like Hysterica Passio, Doppler Effect (note the space!), Schneebezen, Cinema 90, Event, A Method of Danse, and their ilk.
All sourced from rare tape compilations, one-off singles and demos that have surfaced thru the Internet’s rhizome of diggers and cult wave fanatics, ‘Techniques’ wrangles a stylishly puckered sound adjacent to its European counterparts, but perhaps at once spikier and smoother, and more often swapping out gothic melancholy for more forward sort of American moxie.
To play favourites, Friends of the Maid impress with two bits of punchy Linn drums, new romantic vocals and shimmering cascades of FM synths and processed guitars in ‘Love Turn Around’ and ‘Waiting For A Chance’, while Doppler Effect (yep, not that one) get it right with the glyding, swooning ‘Stations of the Cross’, and Schneebezen are on the money with the Erasure/Parade Ground-esque ‘Can’t Remain A Friend’ and ‘Treasure (Dance Version)’, and, if that’s your bag, also make sure to check for the slick elan of ‘Sequin (Remix)’ and the rutting EBM/New Beat of ‘Icepick’ by Event.
First ever official vinyl reissue of Neil Young’s beyond-classic 1996 soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's 'Dead Man' - a mesmerising exercise in tightly controlled improvisation mostly made up of solo electric guitar interspersed with organ, piano, field recordings and excerpts of Johnny Depp reciting William Blake. Sounds awful - we know - but actually a uniquely gripping, inspired piece of work - one of the great soundtracks of the late 20th century.
Vague recollections of the film and its fever-dream topographies are most likely responsible for the almost mystical aura that surrounds ‘Dead Man', but Young does much to heighten its bizarre sense of place with a process of recording that was both off the cuff and bursting with inspiration - taking things to almost transcendental dimensions. Young improvised on his electric guitar Old Black in real time as he watched the film in his studio, throwing in bits of dialogue between tracks and - most bizarrely - lots of weird ambient sounds that aren't in the film - including a prominent car engine running in the background - something that makes no sense for a film set in the 19th century.
It all adds to a sense of physical and metaphysical displacement that's connected to but not reliant on any knowledge of the film, running its own sense of fuzzy logic. Musically, it reminds us of everything from John Fahey’s ‘Red Cross’ to the more introspective end of Goran Bregović’s soundtrack work for Emir Kusturica, or even Ry Cooder’s iconic Paris Texas, Bruce Langhorne’s 'The Hired Hand’ and classic Earth playing at the same time as some weird field recordings open on another tab. In other words; just the sort of precious shit we spend our lives digging for.
Grotty, machine-made blatz from Corporate Park and Beau Wanzer, trottin’ out their 2nd full album of hot, sticky and wiry gunk-funk
Five years form their self-released debut collab, S. English and Jonah Lange aka Corporate Park get tangled up with Beau Wanzer’s cables in a damaged spool of rotted rhythms and clammy, murky atmospheres arranged into a killer sort of cyberpunk noir narrative.
Operating right at the red-lining biting point of distortion, everything sounds stressed to breaking point and caught in a druggy, drunken state of psychedelia. As such it comes on in waves, hopping from stoned and slompy tramplers such as ‘Nightclub Foot’ to grouchy churns of EBM in ’Stammer Time’ and palmed-out industrial beat-offs like ‘Aylmer’s Glue’, with more tonal and atmospheric blip-time moments that diffract the flow in the Coil-esque wormhole ’Sewer Sex’, and the deliciously kinky ‘Vertical Probation’ which makes canny use of vocal samples in a way recalling Tuning Circuits meets White House White.
A charming here-and-now portrait of the contemporary Lowlands jazz scene, covering cool downbeats, up-stepping jazz-funk fusion, joyous broken beat bubblers, and more key changes than a busy locksmith
“A snapshot of the rising Dutch jazz scene, the ‘Super-Sonic Family’ compilation captures a refreshed spirit of talented artists that are shaping the new musical directions within the Lowlands. This thirteen track collection connects these unique artists that express themselves beyond the borders of genres. This compilation adds to the rise of this ascending scene and will be released in the light of the six day ‘Super-Sonic Jazz Festival’ in Amsterdam, organised by KC The Funkaholic & Tenzers.”
Drag-style slow pounders from Lowlands producer Tassilo Vanhöfen making his debut on Neubau
Chasing up 2019’s ‘Cosmix’ tape for Victor De Roo’s Kontakt Group label, Vanhöfen holds to a hypnotically druggy 95bpm pulse and murky laminal textures in the A-side grinder ‘Primer’, whereas the B-side’s ‘Gutter Churl’ swangs out with spongiform ambient bumps, rubbed out alongside the chuggy acid heave of ‘Volatile’.
Totally unmissable debut full-length of free-floating ambient dream sequencing and avant garde percussion from pivotal NYC producer/sound artist Britton Powell for Brooklyn’s Catch Wave Ltd. - label behind 2016’s prized Dominique Lawalrée compilation as well as last year’s mind-melter from Leila Bordreuil.
Emerging as a real one-to-watch with ‘If Anything Is’, Britton Powell takes the spotlight with a unique conception of ambient music following his shadowy but key roles on some of our favourite releases of recent years; ranging from the liner notes in Recital’s sublime RIP Hayman side ‘Dreams of India and China’, to production coordination on Jon Hassell’s ‘Listening to Pictures (Pentimento Volume One)’, and also for Catch Wave Ltd’s releases by Dominique Lawalrée and Leila Bordreuil, as well as working with everyone from Warp Records to Jon Gibson, Lucy Railton, and Huerco S.
With his remarkable first solo release Powell finely distills themes of “psycho-acoustic phenomena, minimalism, and traditions of non-western music” central to his work across two sides that evoke a paradoxical state of seat-edge serenity related to psychic symptoms of hyper-reality and capitalism. Field recordings from Jonáš Gruska and percussion supplied by George Bennett are rendered as richly detailed, organic elements in his billowing sound sphere, elegantly enacting a meditation on the intersection of technology, ritual, and urban landscape that makes up everyday life in the Big Apple and surely resonates with city lives lived across the world.
In both parts he vacillates massive swells of stereo swept percussion and keening location sound, beautifully suspending the senses between feelings of paranoia from an insectoid scuttle of drums, and the seductively heavy-lidded appeal of his hypnagogic sound design and immersive aural scenery. If this is a collision of disparate elements, as the label calls it, then it’s one of slow motion Ballardian sensuality, glacially ravishing the mind with a push and pull between heady, lump-in-throat lushness and a subtle sense of needling dread.
Thrilling adventures in new wave kosmiche electronics and proggy ambient pop on Elena Colombi already head turning Osàre! Editions label, peppered with arabesque visions in a byzantine mosaic of styles resonating with Vangelis, the Berlin school, Akis, Laszlo Hortobagyi...
“When Elena Colombi launched the Osàre! Editions label in the autumn of 2019, she explained that the label would become home to bold, daring, future-facing music rooted in experimentation and free-spirited musical abandon. These are all descriptions that could apply to the label’s latest release, a retrospective album of little-known works by Greek musician and producer Thanasis Zlatanos.
Many will not have heard of Zlatanos, or Nekropolis, the band he fronted alongside dear friend and regular collaborator Trygve Mathiesen, yet the music he made during the 1980s was otherworldly, intergalactic and undoubtedly alluring. These songs and instrumentals made extensive use of analogue synthesizers and lo-fi drum machines, as well as Zlatanos’s trusted Gibson Les Paul guitar and his own distinctive voice.
Stylistically, the musician and producer refused to settle on a specific sound, preferring instead to create inspired, often mind-altering pieces that join the dots between wave music, skewed leftfield pop, ambient, prototype electronic and Madedonian folk music. Operating for much of the period from a crumbling house earmarked for demolition, Zlatanos kept up a daily music-making vigil that resulted in a vast vault of music, most of which has remained unissued since the 1980s.
The breadth of and width of Zlatanos’s distinctive approach is laid bare on Retrospective, a compilation album prepared by Colombi and the artist himself that draws on tracks from his numerous albums, those by Nekropolis – whose sophomore set “The New Europeans” was banned in Norway – and his epic archive of previously unheard material.
The artist’s singular but wide-ranging musical vision is free for all to see across the 13 tracks stretched across the vinyl version of the album (digital buyers also get a further four superb cuts). It veers attractively from the ghostly, traditional-meets-futuristic new age electronica of “The Crystal Sight (Excerpt)” and the doom-laden coldwave throb of “Master Chameleon”, to the undulating, soft-touch creepiness of “Surreal Moment”, the Vocoder-laden operatic poignancy of “The New Barbarians” and the squally guitar solos and effects-laden electronics of “The Light”.
For further proof of Zlatanos’s unique sonic approach, check the startling contrast between the bass-laden slacker pop headiness of “No Expectations” and the spacey ambience of “The Dead Don’t Remember”. Considered together, the selected pieces and those elsewhere on Retrospective forms a snapshot of a genuinely unique and visionary musician, composer and producer. It’s a celebration of someone whose work has previously been overlooked.”
Prophet is the high-spirited machine funk alias of Anthony Butler, originally from Louisiana.
"He debuted in the 80s with his influential album ‘Right On Time’, a holy grail among boogie / funk vinyl collectors. His first album on Stones Throw, ‘Wanna Be Your Man’, was co-written and co-produced by Mndsgn. ‘Don’t Forget It’ is an album full of soul ballads and upbeat funk tracks.
For fans of Mndsgn, Thundercat, Doug Hream Blunt, Dam-Funk, Karriem Riggins, Stimulator Jones."
Taking inspiration from the open spaces, noise, and density of his adopted city Copenhagen, Perko follows up the acclaimed ‘NV Auto’ EP with new music that yields maximum impact via minimalist principles.
"Across the record’s eight tracks, rhythms are reduced to their most essential components. There is no wastage, just pure precision and skeletal funk juxtaposed with microscopic melodies. Embedded across the entirety of the release are the sounds of the city. Listen carefully and you’ll hear recordings of his friends and their local neighbourhoods, with the city becoming a bed of sound.
‘Stutter’ melts these influences into quick-footed vaporous electro. On ‘The Reason’ Perko strips away the CSI synced excesses of drum n bass and synthesises percussion from samples of Stevie Williams skating at Love Park.
‘Grounds’ is a collaboration with Australian DJ / Producer Lia T, and stems from an exchange of field recordings between the two. These recordings became the core of the track, before Lia laid down additional synths. This all bleeds away into ‘Luna’, which connects gently cascading melodies to the urban landscape.
The record closes with ‘Pippin’, which comes in two versions. The grime concrète of the ‘Version’ oozes feelings of creeping dread and nightmarish bass stabs. The original takes the stabs and merges them with his take on the steppers’ riddim.
In Perko’s world, introspective and breakneck electronic music share the same space, mirroring the complexities of the city around him. "
UK soul futurist Steve Spacek sticks to his “hi oh es lab” (iOS) tekkers with typically louche, warm and inviting results following his 2018 album for Floating Points’ Eglo Records
Now doing it for burgeoning UK jazz and beats label Black Focus Records (Kamaal Williams), Spacek dishes up what he calls “a bunch of house riddims” in the distinctive style that he’s ploughed for over 20 years. But where his early band recordings with Spacek were elaborate studio affairs, in recent years he’s favoured a peripatetic mode of productions, making beats on his iPhone with apps that allow him to work organically and free-flowing, whenever he likes.
As found on 2018’s ‘Natural Sci-Fi’ album, he continues to get great results from the instant iPhone method of creation on ‘Houses’, trading on a classic brand of jazz-funk inspired dance music, but doing it with a tiny fraction of the kit used in the records he references. Its production values may not necessarily make for “club bangers”, but it does allow him to catch amn all-important vibe between the percolated shimmy of ‘Waiting 4 You’, the natty step of ‘Where We Go’ his sweetly off-kilter roller ‘Tell Me’, and the rude rag of ‘Love 4 Nano’, while lending an unusual, even surreal intimacy to the likes of his soulful downstroke ‘Single Stream’.
Revelatory first comp of deeply rootsy Nigerian Apala music to be released outside the country, containing loads of amazing talking drum rhythms, thumb pianos, vocal harmonies, and totally entrancing vibes
“Soul Jazz Records new ‘Apala: Apala Groups in Nigeria 1967-70’ is the first ever collection of Apala music to be released outside of Nigeria.
The album focusses on a wide selection of recordings made in Nigeria in the 1960s, a time when Apala music was at the height of its popularity. Apala is a deeply rhythmical, hypnotic and powerful musical style that combines the striking nasal-style vocals and traditions of Islamic music, the Agidigbo (thumb piano), and the equally powerful drumming and percussion rhythms and techniques of the Yoruba of Nigeria.
The most significant figure in Apala music is undoubtedly Haruna Ishola who features throughout this album. Ishola holds an almost mythological status in his role as populariser of Apala music in Nigeria. Ishola’s singing was believed to be so powerful that, without proper restraint, it could kill the recipient of his music.
Apala is a popular music that also functioned as a form of cultural resistance – Apala music involved no western instrumentation and is sung in the Yoruba language, its aesthetic an implicit cultural rejection of the British Empire’s colonial rule over Nigeria which lasted from 1901 until independence in 1960.
Apala music was popular and widely accepted in Nigeria due to its philosophical and profound lyrical content alongside the complex rhythmic patterns of this heavily percussive style, which highlighted many of the percussion instruments of south-west Nigeria.
Apala is one of a number of popular urban styles of music that came out of Nigeria in the 20th century and sits alongside the more well-known (in the West) styles of Fuji, Highlife, Juju and Afrobeat. Of these modern forms Apala remains perhaps the most ‘roots’ style (sometimes described as ‘neo-traditional’) due to the authenticity of its sound. It has similar Islamic roots to other neo-traditional styles of Nigeria – including Waka and Sakara – examples of which are also included on this collection contextualising the music of Apala.
These recordings were originally made and released locally by Decca and EMI Records as well as a variety of independent labels in Nigeria and have never been released outside of the country before.”
Sweepingly widescreen but intimately detailed electronic scapes inspired by time spent in the sprawl of Athens, Greece
“Bit-Tuner’s 7th album «EXO» marks a milestone in his work: the widescreen and nearly beatless opus focusses on musical storytelling and atmospheric depth. The album was written and recorded towards the end of Bit-Tuner’s 2-year stay in Athens.
Influenced by topics like the social and structural turmoils of the past years, the strong connections between communities and the sensation of being in an economic deadlock, Bit-Tuner wrote an album that urges to be listened to in a (self-)reflective way. It is a call to listeners to listen closely, delve into the sounds surrounding them in any given moment and draw a quiet but firm inspiration from within. Following his field recording-based albums «The China Syndrome» and «The Japan Syndrome», «EXO» highlights his interest in cinematic music and soundtracks.
For the album, Bit-Tuner is collaborating with film maker Joerg Hurschler, who is creating animated footage that is screened, mixed and live scored at Bit-Tuner’s shows in 2020. The material will also be released as video clips accompanying the album.
Joerg Hurschler’s work tells the story of molecular objects being propelled into a world similar to ours, where they operate, interact and affect their surroundings, creating and leaving behind something new and strange. What is it that surrounds us, and how do we approach and interact with forces that are beyond our (apparent) reach?”
Spunky, tightly melodic new wave and post-punk pop styles from L.A./Glasgow three-piece Shopping on their 3rd LP for FatCat
“Shopping return with their new album All Or Nothing – a record that speaks about commitment, leaps of faith and tests of courage. “A lot has happened in our personal lives since we last recorded and we knew this album was going to reflect that exciting and scary feeling that comes with change, heartbreak and personal evolution”, the band explains.
Since their last record the band are now spread across the globe with Billy in LA and Andrew and Rachel in Glasgow, and the songs were written in a two week intensive period while they were all together. Taking a bold leap towards pop with their most vibrant & punchy production to date, mixed and produced by Nick Sylvester.”
Debut side of shapeshifting indie-pop compositions from Kiwi composer Hamerkop, taking in cosmic flights of fancy, Stereolab-like melodies, ecstatic epics and more earthly psych-folk
“Remote is the debut of Hamerkop — a song-cycle that contrasts everyday life with an idealized, longed-for fantasy world, seeking catharsis through the wedding of personal texts and sonic scrapbooks to lush melodic songscapes. The chill of their synth-pop is highlighted by the sighing of the human soul concealed within it. In the spaces between these things, Hamerkop finds the spot where we all feel great joy in our shared existence.”
Captivating, avant spins on traditional Peruvian music - a big tip for anyone who was into Mica Levi’s soundtrack for ‘Monos’ (which was filmed further north along the Andes, in Colombia)
“Over the last decade multi instrumentalist Tomás Tello has been developing his own personal music style based around an exploration of the guitar and his intense personal investigation of traditional Peruvian music - in particular Andean culture which he grew up with.
Now operating out of Tavira, Tomás has been functioning like a psychic musician, a well tuned antenna picking an unique sound universe where, among others, sounds of native instruments (quenas, drums, charangos) and experimental electronics (field recordings, loops, circuit bending, small synths and effects pedals) merge in mystic harmony.
Tomás delivers meditative compositions, sonic illuminations which seem to be the result of a direct act of contemplation, of glaring at the immensity of a landscape, a river or the proximity of strange wild
animals, a vision calling that, with the the aid of medicinal plants, offers a state of consciousness in tune with the early works of envisioned artists such as Arturo Ruiz del Pozo, Jorge Reyes or Walter Maioli.
Tomás Tello's music is an invitation to listen to nature from a new place. It’s timeless music, which enraptures those who have the joy of entering it.”
In February 2010 the late, legendary musician, poet and author Gil Scott-Heron released his thirteenth - and last - studio album. First conceptualised in 2005 and ultimately produced by XL Recordings head Richard Russell during New York recording sessions that commenced in January 2008, ‘I’m New Here’ was Scott-Heron’s first album in thirteen years and found him sounding as vital, boundary-pushing and insightful as ever before.
"On the tenth anniversary of ‘I’m New Here’s release XL Recordings release an expanded version of the album. In addition to the original album, the ‘I’m New Here’ 10th Anniversary Edition features two unreleased tracks - a cover of Richie Havens’ ‘Handsome Johnny’ and a previously unheard Scott-Heron song ‘King Henry IV’ - as well as a selection of other recordings from the original ‘I’m New Here’ sessions that were only previously available on a rare, vinyl only deluxe version of the album.
A note on the recordings from album producer Richard Russell: “Ten years ago I was in the midst of recording ‘I’m New Here’ with Gil. There was a lot more to the experience than it was possible to process at the time, and there was some great material that never made it onto the album. “Our cover of ‘Handsome Jonny’ was the last recording Gil and I made on the last day of the last session for ‘I’m New Here’, at Clinton Studio in Hell’s Kitchen, NY, on September 19, 2009.
“Gil had introduced me to the original version of the song, explaining how Richie Havens had performed it in his opening set at Woodstock some forty years earlier, and we added it to a list of material we were considering for the album. “In the end we recorded some of these songs, like Bobby Blue Bland’s ‘I’ll Take Care Of You’, Bill Callahan’s ‘I’m New Here’ and Robert Johnson’s ‘Me and the Devil’, and didn’t get round to some others, including Joy Division’s ‘Disorder’.”
Gil Scott-Heron’s 13th, and last, album ‘We’re New Here’, reimagined in a faithfully classic but refreshing way by Makaya McCraven, a drummer/producer and key player on Chicago’s amazing International Anthem Recording Company.
On the 10th anniversary of release for Scott-Heron’s most contemporary-sounding solo album, McCraven’s “reimagining” lends it a more vintage touch, especially when compared with Jamie xx’s collaboration ‘We’re New Here’ in 2011. It arguably sounds like Gil working back in the ‘70s with a crack squad of soul-jazz players.
Warmest sci-fi synth nostalgia from mid ‘80s Catalonia, presenting first reissue of the soundtrack to a kid’s TV take on ET who looks remarkably like a weird buttplug. They do things their own way in Barcelona, eh? File next to your Moomins and Jan Zonder Vrees OST’s
“From the cosmic creative musical mind of Swiss/Catalan studio whizz, Zeleste Nightclub engineer, Video Nasty film composer, occasional Jaume Sisa (Música Dispersa) collaborator and future electronic music therapy pioneer comes the synth- ridden vocoder-loaded 1984 sci-funk soundtrack to Barcelona’s daytime TV response to the universal E.T. phenomena. Get ready to meet your new alienígena amic and the unidentified flying object of thousands of Catalonian kids affections through the 1980s as Finders Keepers present J. M. Pagan’s lost lunar modular synth score to Kiu I Els Seus Amics (Kiu And Friends aka Kiu Is Your Friend).
From the same intergalactic phenomenon that brought such delights as Turkey’s exploito cash-in “Badi” or South Africa’s lo-rent homage “Nukie” to our unregulated small screens, and the same craze which filled international airwaves with the likes of Extra T’S electro smash single “E.T. Boogie” or the million selling Columbian “Cumbia De E.T. El Extraterrestre” smash hit… not to mention a wide range of unofficial theme- tune cover versions from Holland, Austria, France and Germany (lest we forget an inspired late period Lee Scratch Perry Album) the creators of the movie which inspire the music on the album you are about to hear made no bones about their intergalactic muse. In 1982 the diaspora from Steven Spielberg’s small fictional mid-American neighbourhood that played host to everyone’s favourite torch fingered, three toed, Skittle scoffing space goblin touched virtually every family home in every major city resulting in one of the biggest cinematic merchandise phenomenas of the 21st century, resulting in an unexpected high-demand/short-supply play-off in which bootleggers, copyists and counterfeiters rose to the challenge like never before. At the precise moment that international audiences saw that cute little baldy poke his retractable neck around the corner and started stealing beer from the fridge, demanding long distance phone calls while circuit bending kids toys and frankly not looking after the plants… the human race was hooked! and we wanted more! more! more! When Spielberg regrettably told interviewers that he had no intention of making a sequel to E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, it instantly became open-season for the imitators… but way before somebody squeezed- out, Mac & Me, ALF and The Purple People Eater a team of kid’s TV executives in Catalunya were ready to fill the widening gap in the market without haste. Created in 1983 by Luna Films and Televisió de Catalunya (TV3) and screened exclusively in Catalunya, Kiu I Els Seus Amics was one of the first E.T. “tributes” to make it out of the gate, and with a crew of five individual directors and writers to ensure that the five episode, one-off series hit the wave of phone-home-fever, “Kiu” has since remained a short but sweet micro-memory in the hearts of an entire generation of Catalonian cosmonauts.”
Diaphanous Japanese ambient meditations rooted in Buddhist philosophy particular to Japan, and steeped in native folklore and ghost tales. Follows release for M_nus and performance at Today’s Art
“‘There are dreams that I still remember. Although it has been decades since I had those dreams, they continue to pulsate, circulating their pellucid blood, vital and fresh as if dreamt just last night’
Singing bowls, bronze bells and gongs resonate through the mindful layers of Japanese percussionist and ambient producer Kazuya Nagaya’s music. In Zen Buddhism, bells are believed to wash away the cares of the mortal world, as the listener follows the resonance of the bell into the silence and stillness within all beings. It is a penetration into the depths of one’s self. Floating in a cloud of billowing ambience, its nine tracks invite the listener to traverse a broad spectrum of spirit.
‘There is one thing I have known all along. Someday I will have to face the messages from my unconscious. I will have to decipher their meaning and change my life accordingly. The messages from my unconscious are like a knocking on the door of my mind. For many years the sound reverberated, but I payed it no attention’
Nagaya’s music is rooted in Buddhist (Zenzhu) philosophy and sensibilities unique to Japan. Concurrently, his work and interests are also contemporary and traverse a broad spectrum of cultures. This has led him to work with a wide range of collaborators that include Tibetan Buddhist Monks, Hawaiian Kahuna, artists such as Plastikman and Iris Van Herpen, and also to perform regularly in acclaimed festivals such as MUTEK and Today`s Art. His first album, “Utsusho”, was released in 1999 and later re-released with Minus. His latest album, “The Microscope of Heraclitus,” was released with Indigo Raw in 2018.
Nagaya started out to pursue his talents in literature and is also an award-winning writer and a connoisseur on Japanese Literature, Buddhist Folktales and Zen Philosophical Works. These interests breathed life into his music, and the sensibilities and philosophical views which he developed during his literary years are now reflected in most of his music today. He spends half the week teaching courses at his University in Tokyo, and the other half composing and writing in his home in the Japanese Alps, where he resides with his wife, and many adopted cats and dogs. ‘Dream Interpretations’ was composed at a difficult time in Nagaya’s life. While he worked, he listened closely to the sound of the knocking that reverberated from the paths of his unconsciousness and transformed that into music. In other words, this music is his dream interpretation.”
Dancefloor-ready survey of golden era sounds from the Portuguese-speaking West African islands. A great history lesson for anyone gripped by the influential, contemporary club music of Lisbon’s Príncipe label!
“The two Portuguese-speaking African islands of Sao Tomé & Principe, located in the Gulf of Guinea, created an unique music called Puxa : a refined mixture of various musical components from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. A blend of Semba, Merengue, Kompas, Soukouss, Coladeira patterns, often pushing forward with a voodoo-like energy, solid bass lines, delicate melodies and backing harmonies of the rich Sao Tomean melodic traditions. Very first compilation focusing on the golden age of these island’s sounds, the 16 tracks selected will surely set fire on all dance floors !
Léve-Léve is the first ever compilation devoted to music from São Tome and Principe, two small islands situated off the coast of Gabon in central Africa. The album unravels a story of liberation where the music of Africa, Europe and the Americas unify with a carefree spirit personified by a phrase the islanders use all the time: “léve, léve” (“take it easy”). With echoes of Angolan semba and merengue, of Brazilian afoxê, of coladeira from Cape Verde and dance music from the Caribbean, it is a sound fiercely proud of its island heritage, sung in local dialects and using distinctive local rhythms.
On this record you can hear the cultural and social history of São Tome and Principe, and how live music represented its beating heart. Once known as the “Chocolate Islands” (remarkably, these two tiny islands were the largest cocoa producers in the world, though now this title acts as a reminder of its colonial past), through the years leading up to independence from Portugal, music would be a fundamental voice of liberation and conviviality. Os Úntués were one of the first groups to make an impression, releasing a couple of 7 inches in Angola – the litmus test of success for any of the islands’ groups. They united unique rhythms and dances like socopé, puita and dança-congo – borne from the islands’ largely slave-descendant population – with the sound of pop music beamed in on the radio from Europe, even adding in a little bit of soukous and Brazilian instrumentation. Their main rivals were Conjunto Mindelo, who fused São Toméan rhythms with rebita, an Angolan style, to create high energy puxa, a truly original island rhythm.”
Swingeing soukous charms laced with talking drums and lead by the colourful palm wine guitar styles of bandleader Dekula Kahanga.
“Here is the debut album from the sensational live act Dekula Band. Centered around the legendary guitar player Dekula Kahanga (who was in the leading dance orchestra in Tanzania during the 70’s and 80’s: Orchestra Maquis Original) , this African band (based in Sweden) have been a very popular live band for the last years. Whether it's been at one of their monthly gigs at the not so glamorous club Lilla Wien in Stockholm or at bigger venues at Stockholm Jazz Festival.
Dekula Kahanga and the singer Gaby are both from Congo and with the other members coming from Kenya, Uganda, Senegal and Sweden they all bring their special influences to the infectous and hypnotic style of soukous that they have refined over the years.
And now in 2019 they have finally been into a recording studio with Sing a song fighter’s Karl Jonas to document some of their magic. These six tracks are bursting with energy, playfulness and grace from a unique band.”
Enchanted ‘90s ambient classicism from Japan’s Yoshihiro Sawasaki, newly edited and reissued by Pedro Vian for the MOMArchives sublabel of Modern Obscure Music. Originally dispatched in 1994 on Sublime Records - then home to Susumu Yokota and Ken Ishii - ‘Neocrystal’ has risen to the surface as a standout from the ‘90s phase of Japanese electronic music.
Subtly edited by Pedro Vian, the two tracks still glisten with a utopian promise that bridges new age environmental music and ambient techno, especially in the hyaline iridescence and bubbling acidic tones of ‘Neocrystal’, which eventually coalesces around a looping ambient breakbeat, whereas ‘Magic Dome’ approaches the floor more directly with its simmering electro drum patterns and streaking kosmiche synth leads drawing dancers in for a slinky shimmy and holding them there for 10 minutes.
Jakarta/NYC’s Asa Tone slip right under the skin with a mix of mercurial gamelan and electronics for California’s Leaving Records...
Exploring space where traditional Indonesian music re-merges with American new age’s Far Eastern inspirations, ‘Temporary Music’ offers firms up an ephemeral, experimental sort of ambient interzone that shares similar coordinates with the music of Georgia, Visible Cloaks and their wealth of Fourth World ambient inspirations.
The trio of Jakarta-born Melati Melay with New York based Tristan Arp and Kaazi recorded their debut album in a temporary studio nestled in tropical jungle canopy during Melati’s annual trip home in 2018. Improvising in long, meditative takes of mallets, bamboo, vocals, and electronics, the results were edited for brevity back in NYC and resemble a heat hazy series of snapshots from what clearly appears to be a lovely time spent together.
In 10 pieces flush with rhythmelodic cadence and aqueous shimmer, they elegantly skip and swoon from the beat-less, plasmic shimmy of intrpduction, ‘To Tell a Picture’ to the closing sound poem of ‘Each Pool a Lifetime’ via mosaic of moiré patterns; tilting uptempo thru the impish dance of ‘Perpetual Motion Via Jugnle Transport’, and swooping across the Hassellian dub of ‘Visit From Tokay’ to the tight ambient dancehall bumps of ‘In Everybody Repeating’, a spirited dream sequence called ‘River At Work’, and more dembow/dancehall styled ruggedness recalling Haruomi Hosono/YMO on ‘Ogoh Ogoh’.
Overmono remix ‘Not The News’ from Thom Yorke’s ‘Anima’ in a pair of emosh and brooding breakbeat techno rollers
The combo of Thom’s vox with contemporary electronic club production nails that sound Moderat have gunned for in both parts, but much better. Up top Thom is feathered into effervescent phrases over a snappy electro-breaks, spongiform subs and minor key chords to weightless, elegant effect, whereas the B-side’s takes a glummer route via drizzly, Burial-esque atmospheres and rolling garage-techno gait with Thom vapourised into hazy breaths and glossolalia.
Pacy, gruffly textured techno pressure from Blawan on his Ternesc label
Now fully at grips with his modular system, he tweaks the groove between skating, tribalized rhythms and mind-bending synths in ‘Many Many Pings’ and a body-swilling piece of 140bpm techno hydraulics in ‘Lox’, while ‘Gadget’ sounds like a battalion of murderbots trampling and chanting in your direction, and ‘Hapexil Rotator’ goes double deep with pounding, padded kicks laced thru hypnotic drones and elusive, dreamier motifs that really set it off for pie-eyed ravers at 5am.
Facsimile, 60th anniversary reissue of a classic number from the important Smithsonian Folkways Recordings archive, spanning rum ballads and observational sing-song by a legendary calypsonian
“Lord Invader was one of the most iconic and well-regarded calypso musicians of the mid-20th century. Coming from humble beginnings in the musical hotbed of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, Invader gained notoriety for his unique voice and lyrical prowess. Calypso Travels, his final album released just before his death, was produced in New York in 1960 by Folkways founder Moses Asch. The album showcases Lord Invader’s talent for biting lyrics that reference contemporary happenings, such as the rise of Fidel Castro, his experience at the 1956 World Fair in Belgium, the arrival of the Little Rock Nine in 1957 desegregating the public schools in the United States, and his touring experiences in Europe in the 1950s. An icon of Caribbean music, and one of the major forces exporting it to the world, Lord Invader epitomizes the spirit of calypso – boisterous, acerbic, and joyful.”
Facsimile, 60th anniversary reissue of a classic number from the important Smithsonian Folkways Recordings archive
Performed by Tuareg musicians of the Southern Sahara, and recorded by Finola and Geoffrey Holiday, this LP effectively offers a window into this region of the world whose music has become widely recognised in recent years thanks to the fiery Tuareg rock and folk releases of Bombino, Mdou Moctar, Tinariwen, and Les Filles de Illighadad.
While this side may be shy of the electric guitars that would become super popular in the region (it is 1960 after all, and they were only popularised in the US during the ‘50s), the ecstatic voices and wry, bluesy folk strings on show surely sound the roots of Tuareg rock to come. The gnawing tone of thud of ‘Azel au N Kel Owi (Imzhad Solo)’ is a prime example of their gripping instrumental prowess, while the plangent peal of ‘Song of the Enaden’ just sounds shockingly and transcendently ancient in a way that hasn’t yet been Americanised or Europeanised, and is all the better for it. Likewise the lilting cadence of ‘Hunting Song’ with its incidental sounds of crying babies and fits of giggles feels like we’re right there, in a smoky tent rapt by the nomads’ magic. Add in the sloshing claps, drums and chants of ‘Ilougan’ and the unabashed joy of the two weddings songs and it’s easy to hear why this side was picked to reboot the label’s vinyl pressings.
For ears what wander!
Astral Industries pluck out a cult ambient peach for reissue with Chi’s The Original Recordings (1985); a heady collection of communal invocations written on a farm in Holland during the fertile early ‘80s era of new age and post-punk exploration.
This is essentially the comprehensive version of The Original Recordings, compiling all tracks from their s/t tape and the later CD reissue - including both Kuhl II and Hopi - to frame their meditative, electro-acoustic wanderlust in all its dreamy effect.
Using a Juno 60 and JX3P synths, coupled with a few guitars, handmade percussion, flutes, organs and tape-loops, the six-piece ensemble recorded from summer, “all the doors and windows were open; birds flew in and out” thru the winter months, where “we sat close together, no hearing, only blankets, candles and brandy”, playing from late morning until sunrise to realise a drifting, gentle sound that hearkened back to classic kosmische from neighbouring Germany, but trimming away some of that sound’s cliche’s to leave a more minimalist, spectral sort of music for relaxation and meditation.
The recordings are wonderfully spacious, allowing the atmosphere of their environment to perfuse the music’s broad, sweeping layers and mingle with their pineal vision to become a vital, animated part of the record itself. For comparison, these recordings share certain similarities with the kind of records recently reissued by Amsterdam’s Music From Memory label, yet there’s something more mystic, less sweetened about Chi’s music that perhaps places it in a psychedelic Dutch lineage with later, ambient elements of Psychick Warriors of Gaia, or even the gentle, tactile tone of Machinefabriek music also made out in the sticks.
Definitely one to swoon for - highly recommended!