Aude Van Wyller’s astonishing debut album as Oï les Ox is a sprawling, kaleidoscopic, hour-long thrill-ride through intricate, interwoven and hugely ambitious styles that reminds us of the minimalist pop perfection of Broadcast’s 'Tender Buttons’, the percolating spectral brilliance of Stereolab’s ‘Dots & Loops’, as well as Trevor Duncan’s enveloping La Jetée soundtrack and the plaintive songcraft and steepled organ refrains of Julia Holter’s masterpiece ’Tragedy’. Basically - it’s a lot - easily one of the most ambitious, layered and rewarding avant-pop albums we’ve heard in an age.
Originally released on a limited cassette edition last year, 'Crooner qui coule sous les Clous’ (translation: A crooner that sinks under nails) finally gets a vinyl airing via The Death Of Rave. The hour-long, four part album revolves around a libretto written by the Brussels-based artist in her native French, and performed in shapeshifting guises, all set to incredibly crystalline yet mercurial synth arrangements and endlessly unwinding drum programming. It encompasses nods to everything from coldwave to chamber music, æther folk, chanson and synth-pop in the most beguiling style, all woven together by a spellbinding vocal presence and needlepoint arps that patently place her music in a familiar, but exceedingly rare, other dimension.
Across its four parts, field recordings elide with original synthesis and multiple vocal personas to spell out a flux of fleeting emotions with breathtaking subtlety and sensuality, riddled with melodic ohrwurms. Each part contains an album’s worth of ideas, persistently altering the scenery, lighting and style with inimitable deftness between passages of lilting songcraft, sound collage, and electronic abstraction that betrays a keen reading and transmutation of classic and contemporary vernacular into a singular, cinematic/operatic whole.
’Crooner qui coole sous les clous’ arrived on a limited cassette run last year like a dream, quickly becoming a go-to album that totally absorbed and distracted us from the needling ambient anxieties outside. Fast forward a year later, and its life-affirming expression of modern eeriness continues to reveal new facets each time we play it - leaving us with a surreal, uncanny feeling that’s dead hard to shake once experienced. Basically, it’s one of those records. Don’t miss it eh?
Mogwai reissue their 90’s EPs on vinyl for the first time in over 20 years through Chemikal Underground.
"Each EP was originally released in limited numbers between 1997 and 1999 and quickly sold out. Although packaged as the CD and download compilation album EP+6, this is the first time 4 Satin, No Education = No Future (Fuck the Curfew) and E.P. have been available on vinyl since the initial pressings.
4 Satin: Curacao vinyl. Originally released 1997.
No Education = No Future: Clear vinyl. Originally released 1998.
EP: Sun Yellow vinyl. Originally released 1999.
“I’m incredibly proud of these EPs,” says guitarist and singer Stuart Braithwaite. “I think they’re interesting as we were experimenting with so many things back then. A lot of what we tried out on those records are things that went on to define us.”"
Volume 1 features 8 Andrew Weatherall remixes of Mark Lanegan, Saint Etienne, Gwenno, The Orielles and more.
"Between 1990 and his untimely death in 2020, Andrew fed more Heavenly bands through the mixing desk than those of any other label. Each time, he would warp and twist originals into beautiful new shapes — elasticated club records that might evoke Detroit techno one second and Throbbing Gristle the next, before wheel-spinning into something akin to The Fall produced by King Tubby.
Andrew’s studio adventures would always be guided by that early advice to destroy the source material. It’s why he was the first name that came up when remixes were discussed; the first number on the speed dial. Listening back to these remixes now — to thirty years of glorious outsider sounds — it’s more obvious than ever that Heavenly was blessed to have a friend like Andrew Weatherall."
Juke-pop dreamer Jessy Lanza proves an ideal candidate for the DJ-Kicks series with a shimmering 26-track (16 tracks on wax) blend of vibes by the likes of Lolina, Gant Man, Grain, Mafia Boyz, Michael J. Blood, DJ Swisha and more
Beloved for her long players and renowned for party-starting live shows, Jessy Lanza here spells out her influences and current tastes with strong picks of US & UK dance music, peppered with slanted pop and low-key boogie hustles ++ bags of soul. It’s top marks for the flow and feel of her mix, coolly swerving between reference points proximal to her home city, Hamilton, Ontario — not so far from Toronto’s disco and jungle, and in raving distance of Detroit and Chicago with a bit of drive.
The strongest bits are by Jessy herself, who supplies a number of exclusives including the air-lock juke entry portal of ‘Guess What’, plus the percolated sweetness of ’Seven 55’ with Hyperdub labelmate Loraine James, and the feathered techno tump of ‘Wet x3’ and the electro-stepper ‘Heaving’ with Taraval. But that’s not to discount her other picks, spanning the gritty house slap of Michael J. Blood’s genius ‘Lip Biter’, to fleet-footed juke by CN and Mr. Ho, Chicago ghetto percolators by Dee Jay Nehpets, DJ Swisha, and DJ Spookie, with the likes of Lolina’s groggy ace ‘A Path of Weeds and Flowers’ tempering the flow.
Hard nosed electro-acoustic experiments by Georgian artist, Irakli Shonia aka Esi, featuring text read by Natalie Beridze and entirely extracted from hardware
Located by its titular co-ordinates to Tbilisi, ‘Forty One Forty Four’ was recorded 2015-2017 and arrives as the latest on CES Records, a local label home to Georgia’s prism pushing electronic music explorers including Nikakoi and Anushka Chkheidze.
ESI is a new project for Irakli Shona, who has been composing music since the early 2000s and set up the de re label in 2018. It sees him wrest a sort of brutalist concrete poetry from his machines (Dave Smith Evolver Desktop, Korg MS20, Eventide Timefactor, Marantz PMD 201, Moog drive, Moog phaser, Neumann KMR 81 i, various Eurorack modules), and quite literally adapting John Cage’s words from a lecture, voiced by Natalie Beridze on the opener ‘No Such Thing As Silence’, before the album launched into a lazily intricate nest of prickly arps and fine grained noise, at time recalling the devilish detailing of CoH, or Russell Haswell’s n0!se blatz, with strangely mind-bending results in the final track ‘Hardware Limitations’, a tape recording of a damaged cooler in his computer, which resembles a plane taxiing to take off.
The 15th anniversary reissue of Max Richter’s highly cherished sophomore album expanded with a bonus disc including an orchestral version of ‘On The Nature of Daylight’ and a previously unreleased 2018 take on ‘Vladimir’s Blues’, plus an elegantly rude remix of the same track by Jlin, and a swooning, technoid Konx-Om-Pax rework of ‘Iconography’
"The Blue Notebooks was originally composed in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Richter has described it as "a protest album about Iraq, a mediation on violence – both the violence that I had personally experienced around me as a child and the violence of war, at the utter futility of so much armed conflict." The album was recorded about a week after mass protests against the war. It features readings from Franz Kafka's The Blue Octavo Notebooks and Czesław Miłosz's Hymn of the Pearl and Unattainable Earth. Both readings are by the British actress Tilda Swinton."
Here’s our original review from 2004:
"Max Richter's 'The Blue Notebooks' is the 4th release on FatCat's 130701 imprint, an outlet for more orchestrated, instrumental material. 'The Blue Notebooks' is Max Richter's second solo album, a distinctive and adventurous work that is beautifully recorded and cinematic in scope. Opening with a text from Franz Kafka over a sparse piano melody, the album moves through gorgeous, heart-wrenching string swells of 'On The Nature Of Daylight' through to sparse but lyrical piano pieces; hazy, swirling atmospherics, avalanche pulse-beats and partially occluded melodies that recall Aphex Twin's SAWII; and to reverberant organ / choir recordings.
Utilising piano, cello, violin and viola, alongside electronic beats (made using a variety of antique electronics and Reaktor), spoken word passages and the occasional field recording, other sounds were generated via old guitar pedals and vocoders. Life affirming music."
Beautifully serene and contemplative, ‘Landscape Architecture’ sees classical minimalists Christina Vantzou & John Also Bennett describe quizzical scenes on their follow-up to a sterling 2018 debut for Shelter Press, all mixed and self-released on the duo’s Editions Basilic imprint and now available on vinyl for the first time. It’s a suite of blurry dreamscapes made with flutes, piano, hazy environmental recordings, subs and subtle fx, a perfect companion for works by Félicia Atkinson, Alice Coltrane, Jim O’Rourke, Luc Ferrari, Deaf Center, Pan American.
Reprising the lucid dream-like dimensions of their debut ‘Thoughts Of A Dot As It Travels A Surface’, CV & JAB assuredly trace a line between etheric whimsy and a spellbinding sort of atmospheric mastery on their sophomore sequence. Fashioned from petalled classical and jazz keys blended with woodwind, richly enigmatic electronics and gently aleatoric intersections of street noise and bird song with water sounds, the album’s 10 parts and bonus track limn a drift through what they evocatively term as “remote thought gardens and conceptual collonades” to deeply trippy effect.
Recorded over the course of three days during a residency in Brussels, the album is detailed with a sure-handed directness as ephemeral as spring light, appearing like a dream that lingers on the mind’s eye with its own perpendicular sense of time and space. That effect has long been key to Christina Vantzou’s work, from solo to collaborations with The Dead Texan and Heinrich Mueller, and it’s now clear that JAB shares this gift for elegantly supposing and luring listeners into their ever-curious explorations of ambient classical metaphysics.
The duo recall the rapt effect of Félicia Atkinson’s poetic compositions in ‘Down a passageway’, while the brooding allure of ‘Phantom Tunnel’ remind us of the quizzical nature of Catherine Christer Hennix’s style, whereas the more explicitly electronic works such as ‘Pungent Lake’ and ‘The maître d’ is dead’ capture the sort of laminal ooze and woozy effect of Jim O’Rourke’s amazing 'To Magnetize Money And Catch A Roving Eye’ 4CD in a more concentrated form.
Newly expanded with a bonus disc of 10 unreleased demos and alternate versions and available on vinyl for 1st time since 1996, Stereolab’s classic 4th studio album is back in circulation, offerign a fresh chance to dive into what Pitchfork ranked as the 51st greatest album of the 1990s, and was then (and still is) a cornerstone of retro indie-pop and post-rock experimentalism starring guest turn by Tortoise’s John McEntire.
Remastered from original tapes with a bonus disk of unreleased demos, outtakes and alternate mixes. Co-released by band’s own label Duophonic UHF Disks and Warp Records. Fold-out poster insert with lyrics and sleevenotes from Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane Vinyl comes in bespoke gatefold sleeve with download card, housed inside a heavyweight clear PVC wallet.
A Colourful Storm artist Klon Dump launches his own imprint with two tracks on a double A-side 12-inch, "KLON001".
"Following a string of EPs for Unterton under his Mark alias, KLON001 debuted during Klon's back-to-back DJ set with Nick Höppner for the Ostgut Ton aus der Halle am Berghain stream. His previous releases on A Colourful Storm and Thomas Melchior's label My King Is Light garnered adherents like Raresh and Ricardo Villalobos, and these new productions drop all pretence of subtlety in favour of aggressively memorable hooks."
Terrence Dixon's new full-length is a two-headed behemoth that ducks and dives from edgy minimalist funk into heaving sci-fi soundscapes. Whether you're into Actress, Hieroglyphic Being, Jeff Mills or Steve Roach, this one's an essential listen.
Dixon's latest dystopian nightmare is exceptional, highlighting his twin interests in spaced soundscapes and robotic 4/4 minimalism, divided into two distinct sides.
The first, beginning with the gusty 'Cosmic Storms', is where Dixon flexes his machine funk muscle, mapping out a neon-lit cityscape with hollow kick drums and flickering synths. If you're familiar with recent transmissions like last year's "Reporting From Detroit" then the vibe won't come as a surprise, but Dixon's ability to transfix with the barest elements really can't help but bend our brains. Tracks like 'Final Results' and 'The Meeting' pulse with a familiar whirr but still somehow unique, deepening a sonic future with soft lighting and eerie cross-hatched shading.
But it's the flipside's suite of glimmering music that has us transfixed. Dixon is capable of creating a mood that's so visual you can almost taste the burned fuel in the air. There's an ominous flicker to 'Brilliant Rotation' that pits Blade Runner-esque android synthetics off groaning dark ambience and gaseous, volcanic noise. 'Other Dimensions' is bolder still, building an orchestral cacophony from synthetic pads and glassy, atonal droplets. Each track flickers with tangible, traced outlines; unsettling and always experimental, it's a mood that only Dixon has perfected and continues to evolve.
Obscured by incense smoke and trembling candlelight, Freundliche Kreisel's debut is a German hauntological treat - a Deutsch answer to Broadcast and The Focus Group's psychedelic magickal realism. Somewhere between Fonal, Flaming Tunes, and Alien Transistor.
STROOM just keeps 'em coming. Freundliche Kreisel roughly translates to "friendly spinning top", and it's a three-way collaboration between ambient producer Johannes Schebler (aka Baldruin), and dark folk group Brannten Schnüre's Christian Schoppik and Katie Rich. Based in Lower Franconia, the trio assemble an atmosphere that's authentically Bavarian, rooted in fairytale surrealism, forest folk twanging, and schlager kitsch. It's a fair few paces from the usual three-pronged experimental musical Cerberus of krautrock, kosmische, and minimal techno, and feels far more connected to the Mannheim scene than Dusseldorf or Berlin.
Rich's voice strikes a consistent vibe - whether you can unpick the German words or not - shuttling her between the role of singer and fairytale narrator, sometimes lapsing into a nursery rhymes or even ritual chanting. Her deadpan delivery has a sort of grating charm to it, leaving Schoppik and Schebler to conduct soundscapes from twanging instruments and an arsenal of ping-ponging FX. Thankfully they never take things too seriously, using kitten meows to accompany accordion drones on 'Hängengeblieben', and circuit-frazzled, Disney-esque musicbox chimes on 'Dreh die Zeit Zurück'. Elsewhere they invert militaristic drumming and pop refrains on 'Peinlich', and evoke The Notwist at their most melancholy on somber closer 'Spiegelbild'.
Cinematic, quirky, and memorable, "Freundliche Kreisel" sits comfortably between Islaja, "Valerie and her Week of Wonders" composer Luboš Fišer, and Mordant Music.
Fractured Radiophonic out-sound electronix, eroded fin de siècle smokiness, with evocative, dissociated poetry from Belgium-based duo Roman Hiele and Clodagh Kinsella. Bizarre 'n pristine memory experiments for fans of Finders Keepers, Akira Rabelais, or Stroom's recent Dali Muru & The Polyphonic Swarm full-length.
Writer Clodagh Kinsella begins 'The Third Summer of Love' talking smoothly about the mysterious 528Hz frequency, a vibration believed by some to be so powerful that it can inspire love, heal a weakened immune system and even repair DNA. As she tells a story of hippies, tones, and shitty DJs, her collaborator Roman Hiele, who's released on Ultra Eczema and runs the Universal Exports label with Yves De Mey and designer Allon Kaye, joins with woozy tangled guitar gurgles, and slowly rising drones. The track gets more and more ominous as Kinsella reveals that 528Hz isn't the frequency of love, but the frequency of death.
Thankfully, 'Arabesque' offers a breather from this tense mood, with distorted musicbox chimes faintly reverberating over faded noise and awkward, crumbling bleats. One fer fans of The Caretaker and Akira Rabelais' recent Proust tribute "À la recherche du temps perdu", it's a fittingly ornate end to this excellent oddity.
Amsterdam electro specialist Interstellar Funk generates his debut album of hardware-hewn grooves and piquant melodies for Dekmantel
‘Into the Echo’ is an effortless yet studious distillation of Olf Van Elden aka Interstellar Funk’s electronic touchstones, from the spectrum of ‘80s synth-pop to Italo disco, library-like commercial experiments, and electro, proper. He capably takes on the album format’s potential for portraying widescreen feels and impressionistic narrative with ten parts that describe a journey from furtive noir in the uncannily titled ‘Moscow Ghost’, to Legowelt-like sonic fictional functions in the credit sequence of his closing title tune. Lissom electro like ‘Crystal Whispers’ leads into feathered FM synthesis on ‘Dreamers (Part 1)’, and puckered Lowlands disco noir in ‘Psycho Panner’ and ‘The Helium Queen’ rendered in full bodied form.
Icy scene setters such as ‘Northern Winds’ keep the story unpredictable, along with the oddity of ‘Octave Echoes’ which sounds like somethgin Stroom may have dug out from 30 years ago, and ‘Crickets At Night’ would appear to be a reworking of one of those recordings of crickets slowed 1000% to reveal their strange choral singsong.
June 2021 marked the tenth anniversary of the worldwide release of Bon Iver's sophomore release Bon Iver, Bon Iver.
"To commemorate the occasion, the band and 4AD will release a limited edition reissue of the influential album - Bon Iver, Bon Iver (10th Anniversary Edition) - on CD and LP on 14th January, 2022. This edition features five songs from Bon Iver’s beautiful AIR Studios session, which captures the grand spirit of Bon Iver, Bon Iver and distils it into sharper focus, as Justin Vernon and Sean Carey perform the songs as a duo, on grand pianos and vocals only.
Bon Iver, Bon Iver (10th Anniversary Edition) features a blind embossed version of the original cover art and an intimate personal essay from long-time fan Phoebe Bridgers recalling how the “massive, sprawling, unbelievably complex” album brings about both yearning for yesterday, contentment for the present, and collective hope for the future. The album’s iconic cover art has been reimagined to a minimal white-on-white, with a white LP to match."
New lambs (or mutton in disguise?) Lex Lathan and William Kincaid chip in grotty, squashed jakbeats to the Dirty Blends series of Traxx’s Nation label
Both arriving with suspiciously little background info, we’re tempted to make some up, but will focus on the tunes; a sleazy coil of thrumming bass and skeletal machine pulses for the dankest Chicago darkrooms on the A-side, and a B-side of plughole gargle bass and sibilant drum machine sizzle that u prob won't be able to wash off with soap.
Aldous Harding's new studio album "Warm Chris", the follow-up to 2019’s "Designer".
"An artist of rare calibre, Aldous Harding does more than sing; she conjures a singular intensity. For Warm Chris, the Aotearoa New Zealand musician reunited with producer John Parish, continuing a professional partnership that began in 2017 and has forged pivotal bodies of work (2017’s Party and the aforementioned Designer). All ten tracks were recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales, the album includes contributions from H. Hawkline, Seb Rochford, Gavin Fitzjohn, John and Hopey Parish and Jason Williamson (Sleaford Mods)."
Fifth studio album from Charli XCX on Atlantic, "CRASH".
"The iconic global pop star Charli XCX, releases, her highly-anticipated album Crash including 'New Shapes’ featuring Caroline Polachek and Christine and the Queens.
Producers and collaborators include A. G. Cook, George Daniel, Deaton Chris Anthony, Lotus IV, Caroline Polachek, Christine and the Queens, Oscar Holter, Digital Farm Animals, Rina Sawayama, Ian Kirkpatrik, Jason Evigan, Justin Raisen, Ariel Rechtshaid, Ilya, Oneohtrix Point Never, Jon Shave and Mike Wise."
Classically burnished modern soul flex with strong Afro-diasporic roots, from Reginald Omas Mamode, member of the illustrious clan with Mo Colours, Jeen Bassa and fam in Omas Sextet
“Reginald Omas Mamode IV stands strong in process, sensibility and message; speaking authentically against our collective future and the struggle of the Afro Diaspora people, the enslavement and colonisation of his and many others ancestors. His clear modus operandi focuses on a desire for peace, unity, love and a revised value system to insight a wider societal change.
“Music, it's a beautiful, spiritual and powerful thing" says Reginald. "It transcends boundaries and cultures, brings people together, it can instigate the worst and the best in us."
Running through 'Stand Strong' are themes encompassing a distaste for humanity's collective responses to the hierarchical systems that the ruling classes have conjured, past abuses and present economic and physical slavery on our and our children’s future.
Throughout, the overall message remains of hope for a better future. There's a subtlety in delivering these ideas and concepts: Afro Mulatto expressions and inspirations of negro spiritual are articulated with clarity through intuitive instrumentalism, raw drums, natty funk bass, soulful fender Rhodes, and Creole percussive patterns.
"Through this powerful vessel we call music, my hope is to inspire love, unity, and raise a positive consciousness and vibration.””