The latest in 180g, Universounds and HMV Record Shop's WaJazz series, celebrating the life and music of Japanese jazz saxophonist, Jiro Inagaki.
"This is the ultimate collection of music from legendary saxophone player Jiro Inagaki and his Soul Media band, covering their 1968-1980 golden age, with extensive and detailed liner notes by Universounds' Yusuke Ogawa, comments by Jiro Inagaki, and exclusive pics. 16 tracks of pure gold music spanning jazz, jazz-funk and jazz-rock, including an unreleased version of the track "Express" — first time on vinyl!
Yusuke Ogawa has been running the Universounds store in Tokyo since 2001, specializing in jazz and second-hand, rare, and collector records. He is also a reissue supervisor, label manager, DJ, and music writer. Known for his vast musical knowledge, eye for detail, and archival skills, Ogawa has worked on more than 250 reissues and compilations – including the highly praised Deep Jazz Reality and Project Re:Vinyl series. He is the co-author of the Wa-Jazz Disc Guide and the Independent Black Jazz of America books."
Remastered from the original 1/2" master tape, 'Towers' is the 1996-recorded first EP/mini-album from Stephen O'Malley's fabled doom outfit Burning Witch. Sounding better than it ever has before, it's prime fodder for fans of Black Sabbath, Sleep, Om et al.
Before Sunn O))), there was Burning Witch. The band was put together in 1995 by Stephen O'Malley, Greg Anderson, EDGY 59, Jamie Sykes and G. Stuart Dahlquist, but Anderson left shortly afterwards when he moved to Los Angeles and formed Goatsnake. 'Towers' was the outfit's first release, and although it was bundled with 'Rift.Canyon.Dreams' and released as 'Crippled Lucifer' in 1998 on Anderson's own Southern Lord imprint, the original masters had already been lost. Now rediscovered and given the luxury treatment by Mell Dettmer, this new version sounds heavier and sludgier than the original, bringing out all the nuances of Steve Albini's recording.
Like Sunn O))), the band took their cues from Black Sabbath's sludgy, blues-inflected heavy metal, but they put these influences on the surface, rather than burying them in warbling bass tones. EDGY 59's hoarse screams are perfectly placed over O'Malley's familiar, syrupy riffs and Dahlquist's subharmonic bass - there's an echo of the past, but the band were entering new territory, and setting a benchmark for the genre. The black metal influence was a new ingredient at the time, and while they ignored the faster tempos and lo-fi production standards, they captured the Norwegian scene's stifling, tortured darkness. If yr into ISIS and Goatsblood, this is where it all began.
Split-release double album featuring brand new works from Midori Takada and SHHE.
Japanese marimba legend Midori Takada wrote this new trio of pieces for the V&A Dundee's main Locke Hall, working with architect Kengo Kuma to fill his space with magical wooden reverberations. It's been gratifying to see Takada's music finally attract the attention it deserves. The Japanese ambient innovator has been working on her personal sound for decades, releasing two acclaimed albums with Mkwaju Ensemble in 1981 before she penned her enduring solo debut 'Through the Looking Glass'. And thanks to the mysterious power of the YouTube algorithm, that album captured the imagination of a new generation of listeners, helped by a legion of contemporary acolytes like Visible Cloaks, H.Takahashi and Chihei Hatakeyama. This surge of popularity led to collaborations with Lafawndah and Bottega Veneta, and a handful of new releases and reissues, and no doubt prompted this collaboration with V&A Dundee.
'MSCTY & V&A Dundee' is a suite of three new compositions for marimba, and is relatively restrained for Takada. The chilly, layered soundscapes of her last album 'Cutting Branches For A Temporary Shelter' are all but gone, and her bare percussion is left to ring into the void, something no doubt inspired by the space she was asked to respond to. The pieces were played in the gallery's Locke Hall, that's clad with wooden panels, so Takada's choice to use only woodblock sounds is canny. Even hearing it outside of its intended space, the music evokes a sense of humble awe. Takada's playing is deft and skillful, but never overwhelmingly technical. And her tuned, wooden knocks are perfectly fitting - for music originally designed to accompany a designated environment, it's an ideal commission.
"Triggerd by the sounds of the water around the V&A Dundee, with the music reacting to the movement of the pools and the tides, SHHE's transcendental 45-minute work is also inspired by the rugged exterior of the museum architecture, and its location by the River Tay."
Blonde Redhead's Sit Down for Dinner, their debut for section1.
"It's title a nod to the often-sacred communal ritual of sharing a meal with those you love, this immersive, meticulously crafted album appropriately serves an expression of persistent togetherness, a testament to the unique internal logic Blonde Redhead have refined over their three-decade existence.
Understated yet visceral melodies charge each song, creating a foil to lyrics about the inescapable struggles of adulthood: communication breakdown in enduring relationships, wondering which way to turn, holding onto your dreams. Ultimately, ‘Sit Down for Dinner’ lands as perhaps the strongest record in a catalog that’s already as illustrious as it is varied."
RVNG Intl. reissue that incred Wayne Phoenix album that was originally released via Rabit’s Halcyon Veil label - a fact which bizarrely doesnt even get a mention in the sales notes. Still, great, great album.
Here’s what we had to say about it first time round.
An enigma this one, the debut release - a decade in the making - from an artist about which we know very little. It’s a mysterious, confessional beauty - a diaristic mix of half-cut songs and textured, bittersweet electronic collage that we urge you to check if you’re into anything from Klein to Burial, Tricky to Mica Levi, Young Echo to RZA’s Ghost Dog OST.
soaring wayne phoenix story the earth is a fascinatingly intimate yet elusive record that was made by a trained pianist creating a kind of all-encompassing audio diary that subsequently spent a decade filed away in a drawer. After marinading in the archive while trends passed by, the fleeting stop/start collage of honest humility and ephemeral thoughts resembles a time capsule of a former, or parallel, self; one the artist is only now at ease to come terms with. Vacillating moments of profound lucidity and penetrative pangs of anxiety, Wayne lays his soul bare in that most vulnerable way that can sometimes lead to the greatest art, and finally finds himself in solid, empathetic company among Halcyon Veil’s sensitively intuitive spirits such as Myslma, Mhysa and of course, Rabit.
One of those debuts that feels uncannily familiar on first encounter, the album dredges a remarkable and unshakeable depth of feeling and human insight via its mazy tile of vignettes, drifting from softly textured, deep blue witching hour logic to more grizzled, Tricky-esque realisations and glossolalic expressions that practically, poetically say as much as his legible lyrics. In between, pockets of fractured music box melody and sorely textured beats flower and weed in the gaps, sounding something like RZA’s ‘Ghost Dog’ OST adapted from dilapidated NYC rooftops to the same drizzly London streets inhabited by Burial, Klein and Mica Levi.
Maybe best of all though, there’s very little pretence to this record. It simply sounds like the artist is working out their feelings thru music in an exposed, genuine way - you get the sense that it really didn't matter to them if nobody else ever heard it. But here we are, and Wayne Phoenix’s frayed, dreamlike tapestry of self reflections are set to become part of our contemporary consciousness in 2020.
Estimable American cellist Charles Curtis spans a spectra of rare, unreleased recordings of music by Eliane Radigue, Morton Feldman, Anton Webern, Olivier Messaien and himself in the first comprehensive survey of his oeuvre on Tashi Wada’s Saltern label.
Ranging from performance of obscure C.14th pieces by Guillaume de Machaut, to C.20th avant garde works by Messiaen and Webern, thru to his previously unreleased 2012 rendition of Éliane Radigue’s ‘Occam V’, and a clutch of his own compositions, the 20 pieces of ‘Performances & Recordings 1998-2018’ plot out the remarkable breadth and depth of work by renowned, LA-based cellist Charles Curtis. Rooted in his childhood classical studies and subsequent schooling by La Monte Young and Pandit Pran Nath, Curtis’ wide scope and insight has placed him among the eminent performers of contemporary music, minimalism and modern classical for over 20 years, as documented inside.
The set speaks not just to Curtis’ musical restlessness, but his spirit of inquiry, as the works all bear some relation to each other, not least for the fact they’re all performed by him, but also in the way he inhabits and brings the original composer’s ideas to fruition, and makes inherent links between eons of Medieval and Renaissance music, serialism, rock and early conceptions of noise music.
The set smartly outlines this breadth in stages, drawing connection between his awning take on Radigue’s ‘Occam V’ (2012) and a number of C.14th-17th works by Guillauem de Machaut, Tobia Hume, Silvestro di Ganassi and the stately sweep of his own ‘Unfinished Song’ (1998) in disc 1, whereas disc 2 focusses on his readings of C.20th works including Terry Jennings’ ‘Song’ (1960) which he premiered in 1995, Morton Feldman’s sublime ‘Durations II’ (1960) that appeared on Chamber Music: Alvin Lucier & Morton Feldman’, and Alison Knowles ‘Rice and Beans’ (2008), adapted from a score made out of lentils, fabric and string; while disc 3 contains a massive highlight in his fascinating take on Richard Maxfield’s ‘Perspectives for La Monte Young’, itself inspired by John Cage’s conception of noise music and the harmonic qualities of frictional, non-musical sounds, which all feel as though they’re preparing the listener for the culmination of three Curtis originals, from the supernatural shimmer of ‘Unison Offset’, to the dusky Cali post-rock of ‘Music For Awhile’, and the keening figure of ‘Music for “Lester”’, a commission for Luke Fowler’s ‘Tenement Films’.
Bureau B profile the fertile DIY tape scene of East Germany prior to the wall falling on their latest compilation.
Picking up on the themes of Mannequin’s under-rated 2016 KlangFarbe primer, Bureau B widen the scope to profile 14 bands active in East Germany’s DIY tape scene in the last few years before the GDR was dissolved in 1990.
The strict State measures in place demanded these musicians flirt with prosecution to establish the self-distribution networks that proliferated their work on cassette, and it also cultivated the disillusion and despair that resulted in some startlingly creative work. The seeds of so much to follow are evident throughout ‘Magnetband’ as Bureau B highlight work by musicians that largely released on cassette but would go on to form Raster Noton, Rammstein, Kuntskopf, To Rococo Rot and Tarwater.
The various KlangFarbe projects of Raster Noton founder Frank Bretschneider feature prominently throughout, with the hushed guitar freakout of his A.F. Moebius track Böser Traum the sort of thing you’d find in a Beau Wanzer mixtape. Beyond Bretschneider there is plenty to enjoy for the avid archivalist. Stoffwechsel’s Fly, Fliege, Fly sounds like John T. Gast after a weekend on the sensimilla, the brilliantly-named Choo Choo Flame deliver one of the shortest but most unnerving moments in the creeping ambient of Nein and Aponeuron’s Jab Gab Hej is a bracing slab of gurning EBM with added wookie screams.
Best of all perhaps is Gesichter’s SK 8 Gesichte which offers a dizzying frenzy of primitive sampling you’d mistake for early Hype W from Inga and Dean.
Investigating the musical possibilities of MP3 compression artifacts, Jim Reeve-Baker stitches a dream-world out of hauntingly familiar threads, using low-bitrate encoding to belch out unexpected harmonies and surprisingly colorful noise.
Like Lee Gamble's 'Diversions', this is one of those records that you'll swear must have been done before. We've been oppressed by digital compression for decades at this point; the MP3 codec has been used since the mid-1990s, and anyone who downloaded music from the internet back then will know how bad those early rips could be. This wasn't a world when you could simply boot up Soulseek and have access to a treasure trove of 320kbps gems - downloading 128kbps files was the standard, we had dial-up modems and phone bills. So hearing these oddly comforting artifacts is like time traveling; we know the sounds, but Reeve-Baker manipulates them masterfully, forming the uncanny chatter and glassy tones into nauseous, pitch-drifted symphonies.
There's a level of digital echoing that's present in all of this material. A sound appears and its ghost isn't far behind, spluttering in the background like a hollowed-out version of its former self. The MP3 was criticized in the early days because its lossy quality resulted in oddities like this that stripped the music of its roominess and soul. Here, Reeve-Baker captures the essence of an era that's rapidly being reshaped by opaque nostalgia; these weren't things we wanted, but they were the things we got, nonetheless. Turned into xenharmonic drone and noise vignettes, the sounds are given a new lease of life; we never knew we wanted to hear this, but it turns out we absolutely do. Big RIYL Oval or Microstoria.
Recorded in 1997 in Seattle (where else?), 'Rift.Canyon.Dreams' is the heavy-as-fuck second and last offering from Stephen O'Malley's pre-Sunn O))) band Burning Witch.
Made just before vocalist EDGY 59 quit the band to join industrial metal band Sinisstar, 'Rift.Canyon.Dreams' is a strangled swan-song for the Pacific Northwest doom innovators. Made up of four lengthy tracks, it highlights exactly how influential the group were for the metal that would arise shortly afterwards. Punishingly heavy riffs roll over Jamie Sykes' war drums, and EDGY 59's pained vocals provide the link to black metal that put Burning Witch in a bracket all of their own. The Sabbath/NWOBHM influence is diminished a little on this one, and the kind of pickled sludge that Sunn O))) and Khanate would pick over in the coming years is beginning to crystallize.
On 'Stillborn', O'Malley's riffs and G. Stuart Dahlquist's bass mesh together in familiarly weighty harmony, but it's still EDGY 59 who steals the show. 'History of Hell' is even more convincing, matching EDGY's screams with sufficiently hammy vibrato distortions and finding the sweet spot between stoner fuzz and black metal's terrifying atmosphere. Huge.
Belgian introvert Annelies Monseré's folk experimentation has never sounded more vital than on 'Mares', an unusual, layered interrogation of trauma and memory explored via frothy, confident dirges that straddle court music, experimental minimalism, pulsing electronics and dreamlike drone. It sounds like a baroque-folk cousin to Broadcast’s ‘Tender Buttons’ - with all the goosebump-inducing goo the comparison entails.
For two decades now Monseré has been quietly issuing some of the most beautiful and gently thorny minimal folk music we've heard. With her last album, 2018's 'Happiness Is Within Sight', she released on the Stroom label - whose sense of genre fluidity, narrative world-building and (relative) atemporality chimes directly with Monseré’s prevailing, oddly unique aesthetic outlook.
Monseré now lands on Horn of Plenty for ‘Mares’, her most complete and memorable full-length to date, an album "about childhood memories of the sea...enhanced by future events". The most immediately striking dimension is her keen grasp of euphonious sonics; there aren't many elements, but each plays an important part, from wheezing indian Harmonium and Accordion to strangled, other-worldly electronics. Before ‘Mares’, Monseré's music was mostly accompanied by just guitar and piano, but here she allows other elements to infiltrate the mood - the oddly snappy pulse of a drum machine refracting into newly uncovered levels. On 'Shells’, unstable harmonium drones, dulled electrified folk and Monseré's ghosted articulations make for a potently weird mix somewhere between Broadcast’s ‘Subject To the Ladder’, metronomic Nico and Tudor court music. It sounds ridiculous - but is potently mesmerising in execution.
Monseré's cover of Cyril Tawney's 'Sally Free and Easy' from 1958 is the album’s centrepoint. The song was brought to wider attention by Pentangle in the 1970s, and has been covered by everyone from Marianne Faithfull to Flying Saucer Attack in the years since. Monseré's version is unabashedly peculiar; she applies her well-defined methodology to a standard that's familiar but malleable; jangling folk guitars replaced with rippling harmonium drones and the memorable vocal part sung slowly and deliberately, allowing the notes in-between to ring out like church bells at night. Monseré tackles her lyrical content with similar vigour, disassembling the original's problematic themes about a sailor blaming a woman for his suicide by centring her own vocals against a male backing.
These dagger-sharp turns are balanced with occasional instrumental interludes, like 'August II', a wafting harmonium-led composition that sounds both medieval and modern. But it's her poetic, vocal-led songs that have us enraptured - Monseré's voice never overwhelms her instrumentation and balances on a precarious ledge without falling. What was once congenial and purred is now clearly stated and uncanny. 20 odd years of honing her craft has granted Monseré a clarity of vision that's captivating to behold, with ‘Mares’ being her most uneasy and satisfying despatch to date.
Bombino’s 'Sahel' is the follow up to 2018’s ‘Deran’
"The guitar luminary and Tuareg folk hero is the first-ever GRAMMY®-nominated artist from Niger.
‘Sahel’ was produced by David Wrench (David Byrne, Frank Ocean, Caribou, The xx) and was recorded at Studio HIBA in Casablanca, Morocco."
That *something* in the Baltic water oozes out of Santaka’s nervy jazz techno tronics, augmented with a Marco Shuttle remix, on their newly minted Radio Vilnius label.
Arriving in pursuit of their first moves made on Sahko’s Puu sublabel and UK’s Byrd Out in 2022, the collaborative project of multi-instrumentalist Marijus Aleksa, DJ/Producer Manfredas Bagels and their mates from Vilnius take matters into their own hands with a restless but cool 4th release.
Wing-beat footwork flutter, scrambled bleeps and flyaway jazz notes light up their opener ‘Xram’ which soon knits into a frictionless jazz techno/broken beat flight, and is reset as a slo-mo late night groover by Berlin’s Marco Shuttle. On the flip they explore a more dusted strain of post-footwork jazz abstraction in ‘Crescent’, all aerial motion and rapid modular saccade, before stripping it back to pulse and ghostly sax, or is it voice, on the psychedelic ‘Xdrum’.
Shore-to-shore etheric dub techno bliss by Italian pioneer Gigi Masin and Detroit’s Rod Modell of DeepChord, beautifully consolidating their respective aesthetics on two durational trips
For many listeners of a sanguine disposition, ‘Red Hair Girl At Lighthouse Beach’ is a marriage made in ambient heaven. The two pieces find them at a certain position in their career arcs where both are particularly porous to collaborative energies, and are now understandably brought together by Silentes’ 13 series. With Gigi beaming from the shores of the Venetian lagoon, and Modell transmitting from the lakes of Michigan, they arrive at a sympathetic union of floating choral castles in the sky buoyed by systolic subbass thrum and bathed in moonlight.
The titular piece sees Modell take the lead with his signature, hearty bass underlining and propelling the hazed out choral pads and ephemeral traces of Masin’s guitar for much of its 20 minute breadth, before fading out and letting the harmonic thizz and tackling field recordings wash over. It would appear that Masin takes the lead on ’Summer Morning at Lighthouse Beach’, where they jettison the bass anchor and diffuse the tremulous electric guitar into shoreside mist, layering lens flare chords and gracefully lapping choral elements into a sustained, heart-in-mouth effect.
Volumes 7 & 8 of the Heavenly Remixes series.
"Heavenly Remixes Volume 7 heads to Belfast, where David Holmes - a producer who first appeared on Heavenly in 1994 amping up the acid on Saint Etienne’s Like A Motorway - appears as solo artist and as one third of Unloved, who get a lift right to the heart of a Vauxhall sweatbox by Horse Meat Disco. It draws a line between Amsterdam and Frankfurt as Ludwig A.F. amps up the electronics on Pip Blom’s Keep It Together. It stops off in a south London studio where super producer Dan Carey plays the desk with Toy, then relocates L.A. psych rock band Fever The Ghost to an Ibizan shoreline as the sun sets on the horizon. It cements Sheffield’s reputation as the home of modern British techno with the return of true originators Forgemasters. And it pitches up in front of a renegade soundsystem late night at Glastonbury as Erol Alkan’s mighty rework of Con Man gets its third rewind of the night.
Heavenly Remixes Volume 8 opens with Space Afrika’s lush, ambient reimagining of the Orielles’ BEAM/S before Justin Robertson stretches Amber Arcades’ Turning Light into eight minutes of electronic dub. Elsewhere, Baxter Dury’s peerless Miami becomes a string-laden electro skank in the hands of French producer Pilooski; Edinburgh’s bedroom techno genius Eyes of Others’ Safehouse turns into an East End bathhouse courtesy of disco deviants Decius; Ashley Beedle’s Black Science Orchestra turns Unloved’s heart worn torch song into seven minutes of glimmering dreamlike percussive house and Katy J. Pearson’s freak flag is flown high thanks to The Umlauts’ throbbing filtered electro mix. It ends similarly to how it began as TONE takes Fran Lobo’s All I Want on a gorgeous slow motion spacewalk."
To coos from all corners, Joe Hisaishi’s symphonic scores for Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli classics Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro feature in new arrangements on this collection essential for any self-respecting, record-collecting anime fiend
“For his first album on Deutsche Grammophon, Joe Hisaishi, the revered Japanese composer whose work has become synonymous with the magical Studio Ghibli animations of director Hayao Miyazaki has created an exciting series of symphonic arrangements of his original soundtracks for such Ghibli classics as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and My neighbor Totoro. Fittingly titled A Symphonic Celebration, it presents state-of-the-art recordings of his extraordinary work for this much-loved artistic force in animated movie-making. Recorded in London by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the composer, its tracks are newly arranged by Hisaishi for symphony orchestra and features Grace Davidson, Avi Avital, Bach Choir and Stephen Morris.
Hisaishi ranks among Japan’s greatest composers of all time and is famed worldwide for his collaborative work with Oscar-winning director, animator and Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki. Their creative partnership began in 1984 with the post-apocalyptic anime feature Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and has since developed to the point that they are now likened to other legendary director-composer pairings, including Hitchcock and Herrmann, Fellini and Rota, Leone and Morricone, and Spielberg and Williams. Indeed, Hisaishi’s reputation has been secured by the fact that his soundtracks have won eight Japanese Academy Awards, an unprecedented achievement. He is equally acknowledged, however, as a conductor and as a composer of contemporary classical music, much of it minimalistic and experimental in nature, like that of friends and colleagues such as Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Nico Muhly.”
All-time classic, life-changing biz.
Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald already set the world ablaze once, twice, three, four times with their work as Basic Channel and its legendary offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix.
This is, in fact, the second Burial Mix compilation, the first "showcase" concentrating on the label's collaborations with Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, for its opening set of releases. This second installment divides itself into Vocal and Instrumental "Versions" (the instrumentals are collected seperately on a "Versions" release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon").
Weirdo side of library-like gallic downbeat sleaze and mindbending cosmic psych thrust sprouted by Brussels’ Accou
Clearly contrasting, but feasibly from different scenes in the same imaginary movie, ‘French Fried’ is a strange one. The A-side plays it down and groggy with oily bass and dubbed out percussion sauntering under finely layered pads, gathering into dreamy wind tunnel slow/fast and ether ambient coda by the close. Its B-side operates in stark relief with acrid computerised electronics congealing in a squashed lift off sequence that boils over into destructive psych noise on a hobbled groove.
Face freezing emotional punishments by Texan electro-techno deity Gerard Hanson resurface on a reminder of his golden late ‘00s into ‘10s run
Please pardon the gush, but we’re in the presence of greatness here. ‘Lunar Ruins’ was first issued in 2011, but contains material known and utterly beloved from his live sets as early as 2006-2008, as heard in recordings for Faktion (Manchester) and Bleep43 (London) which have gone down in underground lore as legendary examples of his ineffably beautiful and powerful mastery of Detroit-inspired synth music.
At the right times, ‘Lunar Ruins’ literally brings us to tears and on our knees with its tendon-tuned electro-funk and beatific string harmonies, while ‘Into the Distance’ dials up the Martian melodies and cosmic conga turbulence in clear homage to Red Planet, Drexciya and Mad Mike, beside the sinuous, minimalist cool of ‘Mimosa Canopy’. We can’t stress how much this sound feels absent on the ‘floor nowadays.
Tight electro split from Detroit-Inspired Texan, ERP (aka Convextion), and Rotterdam’s Duplex
Gerard Hanson’s ERP works signature bassline flair under shuddering metallic arps and chiselled machine percussion in ‘ZRX’, while the Frustrated Funk figurehead Klen aka Ovatow makes one of his relatively rare but ever precious outings on the pendulous, tenderly dubbed and expansive Ovatow Reclock of Duplex’ s ’Molecular’, the standout of this session.
Brooding post-industrial tribalism and junglist prang-outs by London’s Kyyberwall featuring Susu Laroche and new for Milan’s Haunter Records.
Leading on from their 2022 debut with Xquisite Releases, Kyyberwall takes their menacing bristle to Haunter with a sort of soundtrack to imaginary places populated with the ghosts of Muslimgauze, Christoph de Babalon and Moin, resonating with like-minded aesthetics and spirits of Downwards’ Nonexistant or percussive warehouse/back alley/industrial zone disciplines of Vivid Oblivion and even Cut Hands.
There’s little melody or vocals to latch on to, but the info is all in the drums and the reverberating space between, with tracks ranging from the worm-charming bass and serpentine slither of ‘Not Far From The Tree’ on a Cut Hands tip, to bone-clak brukouts in ‘Gil Boy Son’ and the rictus twitch of ‘Underscore_’, with a standout in the silo-drumming thrum of ’55FF’ suffused with Susu Laroche’s wraithlike goth vox and suggestions of Arabic enigma, and swaggering post punk goth in ‘Drone Drum Function’.
2 hours of outlandish inharmonic electronic convolutions and doomy orchestrations generated by multidisciplinary Turkish artist Özcan Saraç.
‘Manifestations of Natural Phenomena’ is a furnace blast introduction to the uncompromising work of Özcan Saraç, who has proceeded over the past decade from installation artist working across the world to release his work in the physical and digital domains since 2022. The set plays to the range of Saraç’s sound, characterising fascinations with radical electronics between the head-scrambling hyper chromatic whorls of ‘Time (0,0)’ thru to crushing, militant percussion and minor key string arrangements ripe for a cyberpunk flick soundtrack on its numerous ‘Motion’ parts, and another, finer, strain of investigation in the ‘Space’ pieces that trade in deeply trippy stereo diffusions of sound on the threshold of perception.
The none-more-keenly awaited vinyl debut of Japan’s inimitable goat is a 10 year anniversary reissue of their acclaimed first album, featuring YPY aka Koshiro Hino (half of KAKUHAN) in nanometric syncopation with the exemplary no wave/experimental quartet - Huge RIYL Moin, Klaus Dinger, Wharton Tiers, Mark Fell.
Arguably the tightest band we’ve ever seen play live, Osaka’s goat are the definition of a cult property, beloved by the likes of Mark Fell and Rian Treanor, yet unfathomably little known beyond the heads. As their maiden international release, the decade anniversary vinyl edition of ‘New Games’ should go some way toward rectifying that matter with its utterly captivating display of needlepoint-precise drums and flinty guitar prioritising pure percussive sound and propulsion over melody. In a sense, they operate in a tradition that reaches back to experimental rock forms pursued by Klaus Dinger with Neu!, Wharton Tiers’ catalytic work in the NYC no wave underground, or indeed the uncompromising, pointillist percussive bias of Mark Fell, but all with an in-the-moment agility and airtight precision that’s pretty much breathtaking if you ask us.
With the scene now prepped in recent years by band-member Koshiro Hino’s stream of rhythmically compelling sides as YPY and Hinosch on his birdFriend & NAKID labels, the rest of the world is set to catch up with the might of goat’s ‘New Games’. Typically taking up to and over 10 minutes to cycle thru their permutations per track, Hino, Ando, Tatami and Nishikawa pucker up the sharpest rimshot and neck-top interplay in the LP’s title piece, rupturing the sheer latticed patterns with stop/start punctuation that lets you know they’re doing it live, and subtly but exactingly shifting patterns between the panic-attack of ’STD’, to more lissom evocations of Asian and African rhythmelody in ‘Solid Eye’ or the sinuous muscularity of ‘On Fire’, while unravelling a wickedly knotted miniature ‘Ghosts (Part 1)’ primed for DJ and radio use.
Playing right on the sweetspot where experimentalism yields to propulsive purpose, goat are uniquely worthy of their moniker in its acronymic sense, practically showing up everything either side of them as lazy and uninspired in relief of their meticulous drills.
Evoking the American primitive ambience of Bruce Langhorne's influential 'The Hired Hand', Jim O'Rourke's latest is a gorgeous, quietly resonant and slow-moving snapshot of the wide North American landscape, or “prairie gothic”. Rendered thru simmering jazz keys, microtonal drone, double bass, piano and skittering percussion, it’s just completely unmissable gear that comes highly recommended to anyone with a Jim obsession, or for those of you who love those Tindersticks scores for Claire Denis as much as we do.
Jim O'Rourke's flirtation with cinema has been one of the reliable constants in his lengthy, prolific career. His best-known trilogy of albums 'Bad Timing', 'Eureka' and 'Insignificance' were named after Nicolas Roeg films, and even 'The Visitor' was a reference to Roeg's Bowie vehicle 'The Man Who Fell to Earth'. He's made his own short films, got involved with Werner Herzog's 'Grizzly Man' and scored a handful of independent features, most notably Todd Louiso's odd, underrated 'Love Liza’, as well as contributing to Eiko Ishibashi acclaimed ‘Drive My Car' soundtrack.
Set in the prairies of Western Canada, 'Hands That Bind' is a surrealist fusion of science fiction and Western tropes from maverick director Kyle Armstrong. O'Rourke has worked with Armstrong before on 2018's 'Until First Light’, and is here given license to render Armstrong’s skewed vision of Alberta with plenty of room for creative movement. Its eerie, foreboding landscape is mirrored via intricately engineered environmental recordings and pitch-warped instrumentation. At times it shimmers with the darkness of François Tétaz's influential score for Aussie horror classic 'Wolf Creek', recalling the film's spacious landscape via electric pulses and fudged radio static, suddenly diverting to a more gothic re-imagining of pastoral folk, dissolving its homespun instrumentation into oily pools of electro-acoustic abstraction.
On opener 'Go Spend Some Time With Your Kids', O'Rourke reels us in with glacial bowed strings and luxurious double bass, almost imperceptibly fucking with the pitch to prepare us for the rest of the album's peculiar intonation. Everything gradually starts to quietly curdle through grotesque hisses and unusually tuned string knocks, piping pastoral Americana into rougher, off-world spaces. Subtle even at its most vivid, the suite of tracks bubbles beneath Armstrong's wide expanse, bringing in manipulated field recordings to enhance the feeling of connected disconnectedness. But O'Rourke’s score never feels detached; when the sound starts to drift into abstraction, he pulls it back with a vibraphone, or a stifled orchestral swoop.
'A Man's Mind Will Play Tricks On Him' paints the album's sonic palette into what might hew closest to O'Rourke's 'Bad Timing'-style material. Using alternative tunings on the instrumentation, it feels a bit like watching a performance through a cracked, frosted lens. It's familiar but also not, perfectly capturing the film's disquieting visuals. Elsewhere, on 'Here Is Where I Seem To Be...', he dilates billowing drones into poetic reflections to draw us into the uncanny landscape in much the same way we feel listening to Eliane Radigue.
O'Rourke has crafted an album that's both driven by the film’s visual language and able to stand tall on its own. It's a remarkable achievement, even for him.
The quietly devastating ’Picture of Bunny Rabbit’ forms a long fabled studio sequel of sorts to Arthur Russell’s divine debut and sole album, ‘World of Echo’, offering up nine previously unreleased recordings from the same, enchanted 1985/86 sessions.
Quite simply ‘World of Echo’ is among the most important, groundbreaking avant-pop records of the late c.20th, so the release of ‘Picture of Bunny Rabbit’ after 38 years in the archive is nothing short of momentous. Sourced from a fiercely guarded archive and one of two test-pressings - dated 9/15/85 by Arthur, as supplied by his mother and sister - this posthumous release nestles a radical iteration of Russell's classic ‘In The Light of the Miracle’ and a gobsmacking title song amid its treasures, which are bound to send the late, great auteur’s acolytes reeling upon contact. Honestly it’s once in a lifetime gear; be wowed now or later - up to you - but wowed you will be.
A pivotal node of NYC’s legendary ’70s downtown experimental scene, who uniquely joined the dots between country-folk, contemporary classical, disco, and the avant-garde, Arthur Russell was tragically diagnosed with HIV in 1985, the same year he released ‘World of Echo’. Beyond an inner circle and those in the know, its dreamlike, disembodied chamber-pop was sorely under appreciated at the time, yet has only grown in stature with the benefit of hindsight, becoming name-checked by almost any modern singer-songwriter worth your time. ‘Picture of Bunny Rabbit’, so named for a standout dedication to a pet of Arthur’s pal, now returns us to the waking dream of ‘World of Echo’ decades advanced and maybe a little wiser, more cynical, yet it still hits harder than we could ever have expected.
The nine parts are lovingly sequenced into an album that ideally showcases the humbling halcyon of Russell's genius. Vacillating achingly beautiful, nuanced ‘Fuzzblaster’ instrumentals for amplified cello and keys with songs, proper, such as the whispered folk-blues of ‘Not Checking Up’ and the nerve-knitting strokes of ‘Telling No One’, it all wraps us up in the most human, cathartic embrace. His phasing, skeletal gem ‘Very Reason’ and synaestehtic sensuality of ‘The Boy With a Smile’ are clearly cut of the same cloth as ‘WoE’, and have a similarly beatific effect, but if we’re playing faves the final couplet are just utterly beyond.
With the title song ‘Picture of Bunny Rabbit’ we’re privy to a stunning, tragically unexplored trajectory for his songcraft into glitching dissonance that betrays his roots in the avant-garde and, likewise, offering us hints as to where it could have gone, while the wobbling, plucky raptures of his new version to ‘In The Light of the Miracle’ characterises the open-ended spirit and mutability of his compositions, sounding distinctive as ever thanks to his eternally fragile yet striking falsetto. Alongside 2022’s ’Sketches for World of Echo: June 25 1984 Live at Ei’, this stunning new suite helps build a true picture of Russell’s gift, we're lucky to be able to bear witness.
Croatian Amor's A Part of You in Everything - a companion piece to 2022's Remember Rainbow Bridge.
“"My younger brother died at birth and I never had a chance to meet him. Growing up he was my ghost friend, someone told me he lived in the stars which I accepted. I had not paid attention to him for many years but when I was making "Remember Rainbow Bridge” and waiting for my son to come into the world he suddenly appeared again. I partly dedicated Remember Rainbow Bridge to him, but I knew that it wasn’t his record, so I thought I should make one just for him and here it is; “A Part of You in Everything”, 8 songs about being human on Earth. I think it’s music which is best listened to at night out under the stars. Thank you to all my friends who helped making it!” - Croatian Amor."