Motion Ward’s ambient incubator drop shimmering shoegaze dream-pop and smudged downbeats for lovers of HTRK, A.R. Kane, Perila - issued in a limited CD edition.
Pairing Kiwi musician Ike Zwanikken with vocalist Brooklyn Mellar, Hysterical Love Project subtly muddle the foggy memory banks of late ‘80s/early ‘90s shoegaze/dream-pop with prompts from Balearic downbeats and canny compression techniques that lend it a patina of micro-dosed psychedelic sensuality.
Perfectly strung out on a late night tip, it flows from the bed-ways lullaby pop and back-combed partials of ‘Miracle-Mouthed’ to the beautifully out-of-reach gauze of ‘Cement’ via delectable highlights of ‘90s trip-pop in the slow-motion acidic lather and forlorn vox of ‘Ionian Sea’, and dreamily headlong wind-tunnel motion of ‘Boyracer’, while ‘Come 2 Me, My Baby’ and ’Sever/Strike’ are unmistakably redolent of HTRK, and likewise the weightless strums of ‘Lavender’ that show they can transfix attention without the beats.
Definitely one to watch.
Detroit deity Terrence Dixon lends a hand on a highlight of Karpenov’s effervescent debut album, which uses the abstract language of electronic music to evoke his native Black Sea landscape.
The Dixon link-up ‘Background Data’ is a massive standout deploying fine-tuned synth dissonance shorn of beats, while the rest of the album also impresses with its incredibly sharp sound design on the fluttering hyaline melodies of the title tune and sloshing pulse to ‘1.1’, what sounds like an alien orchestra tuning up in ‘Telpher’, and the stark contrast with its groggiest work, ‘Jet Ski Max’ in collaboration with Kuzma Palkin.
“After three years of deep work, Stas Karpenkov's debut album is released on Gost Zvuk in the form of an abstract, free-form study. The album is saturated with the Black Sea breeze and the natural beauty of the peninsula, a land associated with the life of the author. It’s a musical representation of its surrounding reliefs, an ode to the cyclicity of the waves, and a journey through soundscapes. These manifestations of maritime romance also include the experience of co-producing with Terrence Dixon and Kuzma Palkin on a couple of tracks that play an important role in the idea of the record.”
Two titans of post-industrial experimental music meet in a psychosonic flux drawn from recordings made but left unfinished due to Gen’s passing - an extraordinary 90 minutes of music for the headstrong, also featuring input by Eric Random and Z’EV
The first new album by The Hafler Trio since 2016, ’Dream Less Suite’ features its longstanding pilot Andrew McKenzie unearthing, resurrecting and completing a number of works made over the years with fellow outer-limits explorer Genesis P-Orridge (COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV). Bringing nearly a century of combined, lived experience and knowledge gleaned from the fringes of art music and collaborations with everyone from William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, to Autechre and Jóhann Jóhannsson to their music, the result is a compelling wormhole of multi-layered, multifaceted contemporary psychedelia that speaks to the unfathomable limits of their restless minds and contains the potential to unravel yours.
While input from Gen is apparent and key to ‘Dream Less Suite’, it’s very much a h3o album. As the title implies, the lysergic shapeshifting quality of the material and its zonked yet alert nature evokes the feeling of end-of-trip hours, when the gear has begun to fade but its effects linger. For many, that’s possibly an unpleasureable time, however those listeners who relish that between-world experience or have a mettle for getting twisted will be in their element here, lost to the endlessly slippery permutations of atonal asymmetry and unpredictable quiet/loud dynamics that give the album its captivating spirit and shape.
Pushing the limits of sanity and what can be contained on one side of vinyl, it arrives with the slow mulch of NWW-esque psych guitar flames, transitioning to spectral spatialisation of Gen’s vox in Alaura (yes)’, and shattered textures of ‘Veiled Threat (extract)’, and follows threads of primordial psych like Sperm splitting with Smegma on the 2nd side, before resolving to 22 minutes of scratchy ambient techno pulse like Zoviet France after hours in front of a Dream Machine in ‘E-am-E’, and committing an utterly powerful 23 mins of drone traction like an electronic echo of Harley Gaber’s sustained pitches in ’NOW<------->NOW’.
A master at work. Highly recommended.
Juicy mutant digi-dub by Parisian duo of François Marché and Stéphane Bodin, veterans of the city’s electro-punk-club scene now turning a hand to downbeat styles
Skanking in the proximity to Om Unit’s ‘Acid Dub Studies’ the groggiest Tapes cuts or Black Zone Myth Chant’s screwed psychoactive slugs, Froid Dub play it down and wobbly with the seven parts of ‘Deep Blue Bass’. One for loosey-goosey bodies up for a slow bop, or the horizontally-inclined, it works to a dubwise bias of ample bass and swinging machine percussion swirled with natty instrumental organ, melodica and acidic bleeps in time-honoured style and pattern.
‘The Conference’ sounds like a 10-tonne Aba-Shanti rhythm slowed to a dread heave, and ‘Item by Item’ leavens the pressure on a lighter footing, while ‘Wet Dub’ sounds like Tapes dubbing HTRK. The slackened disco-dub chug of ‘Not Loved’ is a strong number for the cosmic drug dancers, where ‘Original Stalker’ follows like Tolouse Low Trax-meets-African Head Charge.
Pill-belly techno flights by Berlin’s JakoJako on her debut mission with Mute after initial outings with Leisure System, on Tresor 30, and a collaborative LP with Rødhåd
The ‘Verve EP’ gives a strong flavour of JakoJako’s taste for modular and analog synthesis across four club tools that oscillate straight-laced and offbeat arrangements. ‘Impetus’ is built to hold a sublime tension at peak times with its galloping kicks and ascendent choral pads precipitating a soaring trance arp around the half way mark, and ‘Auris’ yokes back to a fine line of deep, stepping techno.
It gets more interesting for us with the crafty subaquatic slosh and radiant highs of ‘Opak’ recalling Barker’s Leisure Systems work or a slower Vel, and ‘Nexus’ also gets it right with a Mike Parker-esque pneumatic pump cycling into trance zones.
Valerio Tricoli teams up with his old friend and 3/4HadBeenEliminated bandmate Stefano Pilia on this slow-burning back-and-forth inspired by German mathematician Georg Cantor.
Pilia and Tricoli have been playing together for long enough to instinctively know how to react to each other's improvisation. "Cantor Park" was recorded during lockdown at Bologna's Xing, with Pilia playing live on guitar and modular synth, reacting to Tricoli's expected freeform tape manipulations. Then Tricoli grabbed the material and took it home to his studio in Munich, where he formed it into a balanced album. The duo were initially informed by Cantor's theories of the infinite, and display this by forming modern concréte soundscapes that bristle with kosmische energy. Tricoli's ASMR tape flexes set an initial pace, infusing the piece with magic, and Pilia joins with warbling drones, eventually adding crashing waves of electric guitar.
The key here is the duo's control of each other's intentions. Pilia's love of harmonic romanticism is shown off at times, but is always tempered by Tricoli's keen processes and disruptive tape techniques. Similarly, Tricoli's relatively austere psychedelic sounds - reflected on the mindboggling "Say Goodbye To The Wind" - are lightened somewhat by Pilia's post-rock sensibilities. It's billed as their most spontaneous piece of work, and the lightness and live sensation certainly lends it a quality that sounds as if it's pushing both artists out of their comfort zone. It's refreshing to hear two veterans so comfortable with each other that they're unafraid to keep asking for more.
Beijing duo Zaliva-D drag traditional Chinese rhythms into an industrialised crawl elevated by freakish vocals. Brilliant and perplexing material that’s hard to fathom in a single sitting, a bit like listening to gabber at 5% speed; hypnotic, still jarring, completely unhinged.
'Misbegotten Ballads' is one of those albums that made us wonder what the fuck we were listening to on first play. It’s traditional Chinese, defiantly experimental and bizarrely electronic - with ancient percussion rubbing against screwed synths to form a driving pulse alongside saw tones that rattle like snakes.
Mostly deployed at a sultry 60bpm crawl, it’s all almost uncomfortably slow and defiantly awkward, like some possessed fantasy version of propulsive dance music played at a pace designed for zoned-out contemplation. Where so much “exotic” music experienced at this tempo feels measured and tasteful, Zaliva-D revel in aesthetic carnage - their choice of instrumentation, pitch and arrangement all seem designed to stick a middle finger up to the polite mode of expression that seems to be the sound-du-jour as the world disintegrates around us.
On 'Hun Shou Qiang Qiang' saturated woodblock rhythms and vocal wails knock us into the next dimension, linking to traditional music without mimicking anything specific. The cartoonish processing makes the vocals sound like some alternate version of baile funk, combined with fuzzy lead synth melodies that are impossible to take seriously, in the best way.
One of the weirder things we've come across this year, and easily one of the Shanghai label’s most rewarding oddities.
Manna for BM fiends, D&D players and RPG questers; the next NTS compilation surveys the fetid bedroom-scape of dungeon synth music with a dozen gems plucked from obscure early ‘90s records.
‘Ascend’ holds a torch to black metal’s most atmospheric urges with exquisite, cherry-picked cuts compiled by Sam Strang with Bruno Halper (Emotional Rescue, NTS) and Will Dickson. Leading on from their expert surveys of private press folk, amapiano, and singeli, they turn sharply, bitterly inward with an icy grip of hard-to-find aces that can be hailed as the roots of what is now known as dungeon synth music.
The sound is surely familiar to dimples of black metal’s 2nd wave, and the sort of scene-setting, Midi-eval intros favoured by likes of Mortiis or dodgy cunt Burzum - particularly their inspiration from Tangerine Dream’s Conrad Schnitzler and Klaus Schulze that also leaches into ‘90s RPG computer games such as Diablo or indeed Skyrim in the modern day. Sniff your pits; you’ll know if that’s you: and if so, this set is another good excuse not to leave the house for as long as possible.
The fantasy begins with a stately invitation to join the kingdom of darkness extended by Evol (the Norwegian one), and proceeds from the enchanted pads of Corvus Neblus to the pulsating form of Asmorod, thru toens evoking flashbacks to kids TV gameshow ‘Nightmare’ in ‘Vindalv’s ’Swærfl Stimma’, taking in immersive durational wonders by Apeiron, Lunar Womb and Neptune Towers, beside the lustrous strings of Secret Stairways, and the wheeze of Kadotus609 primed to soundtrack alchemical experiments with Gatorade and Oreos or turn your next garage raid for rizlas and bacon into a gauntlet of suburban zombie NPCs and local hell-hounds.
Studio One Space-Age Dub Special draws on rare and classic dubs taken from the mighty vaults of Studio One Records.
"Most of these tracks are taken from Studio One’s superb long out-of-print series of dub albums released between 1974 and 1980 such as Zodiac Sounds, Ital Sounds and System, Roots Dub, Dub Store Special, Juks Incorporation and others. Many of these classic dub albums were originally released only in Jamaica in short-run pressings with special silk-screen printed sleeves all with striking minimal designs.
These tracks, credited to the Dub Specialist, use the original music tracks to seminal Studio One rhythms, which are broken down, reconstructed, and manipulated using the studio mixing desk as an instrument. With these albums producer Clement Dodd and engineer Sylvan Morris helped create some of the finest dubs ever known to man or woman!
The cover shows Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd in orbit, an image inspired by DJ Lone Ranger‘s 1982 ‘Badda Dan Dem’ album for Studio One, the cover of which portrays Sir Coxsone at the controls of a spaceship with the DJ in space.
The tracks on Studio One Space-Age Dub Special are mainly instrumental cuts with occasional snippets of original vocals brought into the mix. Lone Ranger’s complete vocals feature on ‘A Lie Gal A Tell’, a 6min+ superb dubbed out piece of musical madness. Also included is a selection of rare dub versions that only ever appeared on rare singles."
Chicago footwork/juke hitman DJ.MC turns up on Hyperdub with a wickedly weird, six-toed session that hails the Windy City’s irrepressibly odd feel for the funk.
Already flagged up for his powerful 2017 album ‘Lowend Jungle’, especially the gnawing acid minimalism of its ‘Mindflow’ zinger, DJ.MC lowkey demands attention to his soulful, spaced-out club style on this one. It starts up all G-funk greazy and rave-eyed on ‘Who Wants Smoke?’ and keeps toes barely touching the ground in levitation system of ‘5,4,3,2,1’, before feeling his deepest Chi roots in ‘House Goin Viral’. It only gets freakier, better in the 2nd half, whirling hi-register alien tones and pneumatic subs on ‘Space Godz’ and pinging bleep ballistics that resolve with spyfunk strings in ‘Chicago Flow’, then shutting it down with a deadly cut of jazz-fusion footwork ‘Go Down’.
Be daft not to!
Staggering new 12-part opus by Chicago’s jazz standard-bearer Angel Bat Dawid, advancing the vision of 2019’s ‘The Oracle’ with a compelling critique of racial politics in contemporary USA
‘Requiem for Jazz’ is a sprawling treatise on the African American story by one of jazz music’s leading protagonists and significant creative voices. Inspired in part by the dialogue of Edward O. Bland’s 1959 film ‘The Cry of Jazz’, Angel’s 2nd solo album delineates the documentary’s themes in a world, some 60 years later, where jazz music still serves a potent purpose as an expression of Afro-American identity, and specifically “draws formal comparisons between the structure of jazz music and the African American experience - as one of freedom and restraint, of joy and suffering - that manifests in the triumph of spirit over the crushing prejudice of daily life.” In the process, ‘Requiem For Jazz’ bridges the sprawling space-operatic nature of Sun Ra albums, and the cosmic ambition of Alice Coltrane, and the epic theatric staging of contemporary R&B and rap albums by likes of Beyonce or Kendrick lamar, to realise a peerless hour of music that ties together and transcends the past generations of Black music made post-the Civil Rights movement.
Side-eying a multibillion £$£$ industry built on repackaging the sounds of Black people’s sufferation into manageable commerce, Angel takes 1959 film ‘The Cry of Jazz’, and its images of Sun Ra in the ‘hood, as a diving point for her huge ensemble, Tha ArkeStarzz, to explore a wonderfully free mix of acoustic and electronic jazz licked with contemporary inflections of the drill sound that originated in her native Chicago, and most impressively, a sense of operatic staging or dramaturgy that strikes heavily on first listen, but will take many repeat listens to fully grasp. As that implies, it’s not an “easy” listen on any level, but it is a richly satisfying and spirit-raised one for anyone willing to step back and try to take it all in; from the alien vocoders of the intro, thru the haunting recital of ‘Kyrie Eleison’, a stately ‘Confutatis-repression’, and the inclusion of Arkestra bandleader Marshall Allen, or the spine-shattering finale of keening choral ‘Long Tone for Rayna Golding (A Binti Zawadi our Future).’
The complete soundtrack to the controversial 1979 French movie ‘Des Morts’ (‘Of The Dead’) composed by Alain Pierre.
"Expanded reissue of mega rare 1979 unknown vanity pressing LP that blends ethnological field recordings, musique concrète principles and introspective synthesiser music from this cult European studio maverick and historic collaborator of COS, Philippe Druilet, Marc Moulin and John Surman.
Alain Pierre’s Mondo movie soundtrack to the controversial Des Morts shares very few stylistic rivals, but fans of Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain soundtrack and some of the more eldritch early sampling experiments of Jean-Pierre Massiera will certainly draw fragmented comparisons herein. Other listeners might file this album at the weirder end of your Smithsonian Folkways shelf, just before the Video Nasty soundtracks.
Presented in remastered form comprising extra vintage studio outtakes (in accordance with the films morbid narrative), Des Morts serves as a would-be sequel to Finders Keepers’ previous Ô Sidarta release witnessing Pierre balance his allegiance to the Belgian bandes dessinée scene and Thierry Zéno’s shock cinema oeuvre from the heart of his uber-legendary Brussels based experimental recording studio through the 1970s."
Perennially underrated NYC noise deity Dreamcrusher crash lands on PTP once again with a two-headed collision of raw, expressive vocals, screaming feedback and sub-heavy beats. They're standing at the intersection of no wave, DIY noise, punk, dub and shoegaze - we get to watch.
If you've seen Dreamcrusher live or heard their last two PTP drops - the jaw-unhooking "Another Country" and "Panopticon!" - you'll likely have thrown this one in the cart already. Luwayne Glass has been challenging audiences with their confrontational, emotional take on DIY basement noize for years at this point, and for our money should be more than just a cult figure. "Suite ONE" is a brief, toned taster of Glass's idiosyncratic palo santo scented fuzz - two radio-length heavy hitters that extend their message without requiring the commitment of their more generous epics.
'Peach And Black' is constructed from a sample of Lightnin' Rod and Kool & the Gang's 'Sport' and lays bare Glass's aesthetic while also referencing Prince. The beat will be familiar to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of rap history, having been rinsed by everyone from the Wu-Tang Clan and Eazy-E to The Prodigy and Luke Vibert, so cleverly nods to checkered pop history while simultaneously dragging it into an unstable present. Glass's pinched moans cut into a rolling beat that's somewhere between Silver Apples and Yves Tumor, but there are few artists who can match their energy - they're as antagonistic as Merzbow but direct that spirit towards the mosh pit, not the back room.
'In Due Time' is an appropriate foil, emphasizing Glass's enthusiasm for ear-splitting shoegaze density, layering harmonic distortion over a dubbed-out sample of Lee 'Scratch' Perry's 'Justice to the People'. Essential material.
Pivotal mcr outlier Sockethead follows strong collabs with Michael J Blood and Rat Heart on arguably his deadliest, most locked-in album of scuzzed-not-fuzzed Detroit-influenced modalities, produced in Athens and sounding something like Urban Tribe and Actress soundtracking a cruise thru the city at night.
Feeling the moxie of a man used to grey Manc skies and smitten by Athens’ neon lights and sights, Sockethead delivers some of his finest material thus far on ‘Yas’, deploying an abundance of weirdo textures, space, and spirits on a typically crooked take on deep-rooted and wavey technoid inspirations with a DIY approach.
Notably shorn of the yowling, MES-y vocals found on his standout debut ‘Harj-o-Marj’, for YOUTH, Yas is nevertheless full of expressive leads and itchy rhythms that carry his signature style. We can hear him conveying the dry heat of Athens thru the circuits of pensive opener ‘The Prowler’ which crosses an 80s, Carpenter-esque slasher movie vibe with levitational Drexciyan synths, and on the pulsating, vibrating mass of ‘Temporary Atmosphere’.
The rest of the album patently indulges a passion for Motor City vapours between the pitch-bent melodies and whirring broken beats of ‘Other Side of Chaos (Guilt Mix)’, to an Actress style stepper ‘Cats On The Island’, and most explicitly on the kaotic, swarming harmonies of ‘Untitled ATM’ and the thrumming Juan Atkins adoration ‘The Ecstatic’.
It’s all supremely atmospheric, smoked-out and engrossing stuff, hugely recommended to anyone signed up for anything on the MJB x Ratty axis, or the deepest late night jams.
The ideal starting point for anyone who's looking to get into Felt, 'Bubblegum Perfume' assembles Brummie outsider Lawrence's 1980s dizzying Creation run into a tight set of virtuosic experimental pop that's still just as confounding as it was back then.
Although Lawrence had always known he was going to be a star, it's taken a while for the rest of the world to get up to speed with his ambitions. The uncompromising Birmingham-born visionary founded Felt in 1979 and put together 10 albums and 10 singles over 10 years, disbanding the outfit in 1989. And while they never achieved the commercial success that Lawrence and many of his followers knew they deserved, they inspired a wave of countless bands from The Wedding Present and Belle & Sebastian to The Pastels and The Charlatans. 'Bubblegum Perfume' ties a silk bow around their pristine run of Creation releases, assembling their finest moments into a relatively bite-sized set of jangling art pop that's still never been bettered. If you've never come across Felt or Lawrence before, there's really no better place to start.
Lawrence's bizarrely dreamy introspection is immediately evident on the brief, brilliant opening track 'I Will Die With My Head In Flames', that twins Martin Duffy's sparkling organ lines with spindly surf rock guitars and Lawrence's own despondent poetics. Almost over before it's started, it neatly characterises Felt's radio pop prowess, doing more in just over a minute than most bands manage in a career. From here we're treated to cultish classics like 'Space Blues', an electrified dirge that combines wonky p-funk synths and hammond organ vamps with cinematic orchestral flourishes, and the David Sylvian-like 'Be Still' that couches Lawrence's voice in swirling, crepuscular atmospherics.
From track to track it's hard to predict where Felt might go next. The coherent theme is Lawrence himeself, and while his time with Felt was pocked by regular disagreements with cycling band members and liaisons with starry engineers like Robin Guthrie and John Leckie, his guiding hand kept Felt from making mistakes the C86 generation repeated over and over. It's music that sings loudly of an '80s reality that trampled on Lawrence's West Midlands home, retaining hope and humble, self-deprecating humor in the face of factory closures and dwindling prospects for 80's youth. The compilation ends with 'Ballad of the Band', a much-copied early single (Felt's first for Creation) that addressed Lawrence's struggles with guitarist Maurice Deebank while he was still in the band, although he had left by the time it was released.
This mythology and unusual level of self awareness makes Felt a rare and fascinating prospect decades later, their influence can be heard throughout the art pop landscape, from Broadcast to Hood and beyond.
Caterina Barbieri somehow recalls both Laurie Spiegel and Lorenzo Senni on her staggering debut album, with ‘Ecstatic Computation’ yielding her most striking and accessible experiments in pointedly explorative synthesis
Working at the point where deep, learned R&D meets sophisticated expression of soul, ‘Ecstatic Computation’ is one of those rare LP's that comes close to divining the ghost in the machine. In further pursuit of the themes underlining Caterina’s ‘Patterns of Consciousness’  and ‘Born Again In The Voltage’  records, here she uses more complex sequencing techniques and pattern-based operations to generate the kind of vivid, hallucinatory trance states that many electronic music followers arguably spend their lives seeking.
With ‘Ecstatic Computation’ Caterina’s basically mastered the art of extracting a contemplative wonder from her machines, creatively using formal process to manipulate the listener’s temporal and proprioceptive senses, subtly distorting our perception of time and space with spellbinding and psychedelic effect. Most crucially, just like her fellow Italian composer, Lorenzo Senni, Barbieri achieves this effect through minimalist means, with a certain magick lying in the way she allows her machines’ full voice to speak as fluidly as the languages of classical music, but with the immediacy of Trance.
From the vertiginous scale and epic breadth of ‘Fantas’, thru the intensely expressive miniature ‘Spine of Desire’, to the balletic agility of ‘Closest Approach to Your Orbit’, Barbieri veritably dances on our nerve endings, before swiftly inverting that headlong futurism with the chamber-like design of ‘Arrows of Time’, featuring vocals by Annie Gårlid (UCC Harlo) and Evelyn Sailor, and wrapping up with the visceral ecstasy of ‘Pinnacles of You’ and a spine-freezing finale ‘Bow of Perception’.
It’s glorious, life-affirming stuff, sure to send her audience stratospheric.
The Necks regroup on a staggering first new LP in three years, switching between skittering jazz to widescreen rollers with a breathtaking momentum - somewhere between classic Verve label, MvO Trio, This Heat and Oren Ambarchi's ensemble jams.
The Necks’ Chris Abrahams (piano, Hammond organ), Tony Buck (drums, percussion, electric guitar) and Lloyd Swanton (bass guitar, double bass) re-ignite a mesmerising minimalism on ‘Travel’. Now in their 34th year of playing together, the Aussie unit’s fine-honed intuitions are fully apparent across four durational parts totalling 77 minutes sprawling across seemingly endless soundscapes that collapse into myriad genres.
Perfectly framed and suspended with beautifully buoyant mixing and engineering by long time collaborator Tim Whitten, ‘Travel’ is a swaggering statement by the modern masters of long-form jams. The elements are knit with a particularly smoked-out verve and swingeing flex in each part, stretching from what sounds like MvO Trio haunted by Jackie Mittoo on the extraordinary ‘Signal’, to an uncanny, streamlined echo of Ndikho Xaba and the Natives’ South African free jazz on ‘Forming’, before resembling Can emulating Brazilian jazz on ‘Imprinting’, and arriving at the heart-in-mouth tempest of snare rolls, escalating organ vamps and roving low end that brings the LP to a thunderous climax like some extended Alice Coltrane breakdown that leaves u tossed in mid air.
Sounding as lean and potent as they did on 1989’s debut LP ‘Sex’, they’re frankly showing off here, with ‘Travel’ registering as good a place as any to kick off your infatuation with one of the world’s greatest experimental units.
Overproof levels of ’80s keyboard funk for your dancing feet from the Cameroonian producer to Sunny Adé, Guy Lobe, and Steve Monite - one of the most notable Nigerians of the era working with electronics, comparable to William Onyeabor or Jake Sollo.
“Teles' first break came as a keyboard player in Tony Allen's new solo band, right after he had split with Fela Kuti the Africa 70 at the start of the 1980s. He travelled up to Kaduna in the north of Nigeria only to find that the sponsor had pulled out of funding Allen's band and was stranded in the city. Whilst in Kaduna he met Nigerian artist Steve Black who invited him to join his band. Steve remembers his first encounters with Nkono: "Someone told me there was a Cameroonian boy here that plays keyboards. He came to the studio and he was good, but he only played Cameroon music, mostly Makossa, but I knew he had potential. I said to him - "We have to change our musical style, let's play some funk". We listened to Cameo, The Crusaders, that kind of stuff. He spent hours on end listening to Cameo!"
"After that, Nkono came back to Lagos and every musician wanted to record and was looking for session musicians. When Nkono was in the studio with you he would contribute to the recording. He would arrange, he did a lot of the studio, so everybody liked Nkono. Most other musicians would come to the studio, just do what you ask and that's all, but Nkono wasn’t like that. He would take over, produce and arrange. Once Nkono discovered he could produce, he set up his own production company; everyone began taking their demos to Nkono and he would produce them."
Once you recognize the Nkono Teles Sound you start to hear it everywhere in Nigerian pop music from around 1982 onwards. Steve continues: "Nkono was a very cool guy, very humble, shy, not into drinking or drugs, never smoked. He was a perfect gentleman. He loved his music and loved good musicians. You couldn’t be Nkono’s friend as a musician if you weren't a good musician."
With only three solo albums to his name in this period (Fiesta Dancin, Party Beats & Afro Music Party) Soundway have curated the best tracks into one retrospective mini-compilation alongside an instrumental cut that he wrote, recorded and produced for the singer Jane Coleman on her only album from 1987. Sadly, Nkono Teles died in 2011 after having left Nigeria in the '90s and this material has been licensed from his family in Cameroon. The Nigerian recording industry started to change around this time and piracy made huge inroads into record sales. Nkono moved westwards back home again as Lagos became a harder place to exist and work as a foreigner. With a few productions made in Cameroon, France and the UK during the '90s and early '00s he never quite reached the same level of innovation as he did when he first arrived as a young man in Nigeria in the early '80s.”
Funk Masters' Love Money with Bo Kool's (Money) No Love on the flip.
"Few records crossed over into different musical worlds as successfully as the Funk Masters’ sublime UK disco / jazz funk monster classic cut, ‘Love Money’. Originally released in 1981, the track came out on the flipside over a rap cut to the song by Bo Kool, one of the earliest examples of UK rap, but it was the instrumental ‘Love Money’, with its dubbed out sound effects, that was more often played, filling dancefloors everywhere.
This nod to reggae and dub was not by chance. The track was produced by long-time UK resident Jamaican reggae DJ and producer Tony Williams. This was his first attempt at a club track but, by using reggae musicians, he created new style blending funk, disco and reggae, years ahead of its time.
So if ever you want to hear a record that encapsulates the world of disco, funk, proto-house, hip-hop, no wave dance and reggae in one go then this is it."
Roger Doyle's mythical 1981 debut, a Nurse With Wound-approved tape collage classic, and a handful of the Irish vanguard's best Fairlight-powered electro-pop. Essential, obviously.
Doyle composed "Rapid Eye Movements" when he was just 19. Inspired by the GRM set and recorded between Ireland and the Netherlands, Doyle wanted to create an audio representation of the REM sleep cycle using field recordings and improvisations. He read that during REM sleep the eyes move around beneath the eyelids, and captured this sense of place between dreaming and waking by using disorienting electronic effects and repetitions intended to give the listener a sense of aural deja vu. Released in 1981 on the NWW-affiliated United Dairies label, it's technically a Doyle solo album but the Operating Theatre moniker, a name Doyle used to his ensemble electro pop project, was used all the same. The record is still a dizzying piece of work, true vortex-level tape music material that takes the basic blueprint from artists like Luc Ferrari and Bernard Parmegiani and infuses it with Irish humor and surrealism.
Even just this album would make the reissue worthwhile, but we get a bundle of Doyle's quirky electro-pop productions too. In the 1980s he teamed up with actress Olwen Fouéré, who added a little bit of theater to the mix, and Spanish singer Elena López who handled vocals. Doyle managed to get his hands on a Fairlight sampler, an expensive and rare bit of kit for the time - it was famously used on Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" if you need a reference. So the brittle, characteristic sound gives his productions an era-specific bite that's hard to recreate. All of the tracks appeared on EPs and singles at the time, including one on the U2-affiliated Mother Records, but the group weren't well promoted and splintered. These tracks are a testament to the era and to Doyle's drive as a boundary-pushing producer - who else can pivot from grungy electro-acoustic tape collage into pitch-perfect electro pop so seamlessly? Crazy, good.
FFT’s label ventures Christoph De Babalon at his stripped-back best, toggling bony warehouse breaks and growling bass under patented, perpetual crepscular atmospheres
‘Leaving Time’ feels to enact a lycanthropic metamorphosis of figures in four parts that follow down the path from his definitive early works on CFET & DHR, and recent second wind of aces for likes of V I S or AD 93. The gulf between CdB’s eras is broadly defined by an increased emphasis on ominous space and brittle-boned slinkiness that’s most potently apparent on this new batch from the dark alchemist’s Berlin dungeon.
Creeping into view with a scoured late ‘90s guitar tone and chain-whipped toms of ‘The Upper Hand’ like some undead fusion of The Mover meets NIN, he follows that line of inspiration into spring-heeled breaks and a pall of gothic romantic pads in ‘I Trusted You’. The Frankenstein’s monster-like de/reconstruction of detuned Reese bass and articulated limb swivel on ‘Steps Into Solitude’ enhances the feel with something like an echo of peak Skull Disco and Raime ricocheting via Croww, and ‘Got to Let Go’ taps into the eternal vein of inspiration from darkside late ‘90s jungle with masterly poise that shows CDB is still the boss of the dancefloor netherworld.
Gabber Eleganza’s Never Sleep fire a turbulent 2nd EP of mutant hardcore latin dance by Lizzitsky for followers of Shapednoise, Cardopusher’s Safety Trance and Arca bits, or Tomas Urquieta.
Lizzitsky was responsible for the first original release on Never Sleep, but unfortunately in the first weeks of the 2020 pandemic lockdown, meaning it didn’t quite hit the ‘floor as intended. ‘Miasma Jester’ is a superb development of ideas outlined on his debut, factored by a more elusive cyber-dubwise quality and shearing dynamics, plus collaborations with Sarah Khan, MC Pusher & Sgabe that really light it off for clubs in 2023.
His titular owner is one of the maddest hardcore dembow mutations we’ve heard since Safety Trance’s EP on Club Romantico, and the pensively sculpted noise and slow/fast 160bpm flow of ‘Black Phlegm’ brilliantly benefits from Sarah Khan’s vox filtered thru the matrix, while Denmark’s MC Pusher and Sgabe lend a more feral holler to his buckled rhythmic noise blast ‘Usenet suic pac’. The other two offer a stark contrast, where ‘You Can’t say Hello Without Saying Hell’ recalls The Sprawl, and ‘Carbroke ouse’ leans into an impressive sort of slow burning avant electro-jazz delirium.
Muslimgauze’s latest archival wonder spies Bryn Jones in pure swag mode across 66 mins of lo-slung hip hop collage resembling golden era boom bap and Memphis instrumentals, but with his own rugged burr
A strong example of why one should never sleep on Staalplaat’s ceaseless Muslimgauze reissue programme, this latest presents previously unheard recordings found on two DAT tapes titled ‘Turn On Arabic American Radio’ (tracks 1-4, or disc 1) and ‘Arabic American Radio’ (tracks 5-9, or disc 2), that find rich variation within a theme. Loops of neck-snap breaks and shuddering 808 bass drops fuse with samples of uncredited instrumental performances, sometimes severed with blistering noise, or layered with sounds of a radio tuning-in and snippets of vocals, but all clearly indebted to the prevailing influence of ‘90s US rap and its rhythms.
Even if you’re the hardest Muslimgauze fiend who knows it all, we’d wager this one is new, even to you. The opening gambit sounds like Tommy Wright III on holiday to Palestine, and the collision of strings, noise and ruggedest bounce in the 2nd tune recalls Mutamassik’s late ‘90s NYC splices of Egyptian records or something off DJ/Rupture’s Soot, and Song 6 is clearly akin to Spectre’s illbient templates. Song 7 is a sort thumb of more sped-up breaks recalling Edan doing fast rap in Bradford, and we’re utterly snagged on his tar-like riffs twisted with deep south-style drum machine strut in Song 4.
Soulful sound-system renegades Seekersinternational cook up 40 minutes of dubbed out, sunny day ‘90s hip hop, reggae and glistening R&B for Japanese denim manufacturers Edwin
Blessed with the sort of Vitamin C boost that SKRS have specialised in since 2008, ‘Healing HiFi’ follows in the mode of SKRS’ classic cut ’n splice mixtapes/albums such as ‘LoversDedicationStation’ with a flawless flex here.
The session is rife with nostalgic madeleines of sunny ‘90s optimism, heralding a sense of romance that feels alien to these times, like tuning into someone else’s dream mixtape/sweetly-spangled thought broadcast. You'll find golden era sampledelic hip hop nuzzling laid-back NYC ragga and lovers dancehall, toggling flashbacks to FM synth-sparkling boogie-soul and R&B with a steady hand on the FX and the other clutching a cup of gin and juice.
The name of Mulatu Astatke has become ubiquitous to anyone with a healthy interest in Ethiopian jazz.
The Story Of Ethio Jazz 1965-75' charts Mulatu's journey from New York in '65, where he recorded his first two LP's 'Afro-Latin Soul Volumes 1 & 2', onto the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in '72 for the recording of 'Mulatu of Ethiopia', to more recent collaborations with London-based psyche Jazz outfit The Heliocentrics. Outside of the aforementioned classic recordings, this is one of the most comprehensive collections of Mulatu's career you'll find, including his signature 'Yekermo Sew', the fruity elephant-sampling Latin-jazz of 'I Faram Gami I Faram' feat Ethiopian Quartet, the devastatingly funky 'Yegelle Tezeta', and fellow Éthiopiques star Tlahoun Gessesse's cool swinging croon on 'Lantchi Biye'.
Besides his work with the Heliocentrics and occasional touring , Mulatu still seeks to further Ethiopian music, working with MIT on modernising traditional Ethipiopian instruments and helping new producers like Quantic's Will Holland to re-record his classic material. A highly recommended album for anyone with an itch for killer African music from the archives.
Moods, Modes, a triple 7" box set from Duster.
"Explore the Duster universe on the far superior 45RPM format. This deluxe triple 7” box contains Duster’s first single—1997’s Transmission Flux (including “Stars Will Fall” & “Orbitron”), 1998’s Apex, Trance-Like (featuring “Four Hours”), plus Stratosphere’s painfully absent “Echo, Bravo” and the lost 2002 outtake “What You’re Doing To Me.”
Fascinating early/sacred music experiments from Belgian ensemble Razen, who use meantone tuning, pipe organ and vintage instrumentation to explore "pre-industrial, spectral and ethnic dreamtones ... trance and medieval mysticism".
There's no shortage of artists looking to Europe's Medieval musical traditions for inspiration right now. Razen uses a dizzying array of era-specific instrumentation: a 17th century organ, a hurdy gurdy, various recorders, the chalumeau, ondes-Marthenot, sarangi, violone and nyckelharpa. As you might be able to imagine the music is particularly en vogue, using the organ's tuning (398 Hz, natch) to inform and limit the arrangements that emerged around its sacred drones. Thankfully, this isn't merely an exercise - while the organ is a surprisingly subtle character here, the ensemble's additional instrumentation is arranged and performed beautifully.
Razen talk about accenting the drone potential of their chosen sounds, but the stand-out moments are when the music does far more than this, crossing early music with more modern, experimental ideas. The humble recorder stands out furthest, particularly on tracks like 'A Postcard from Oliver' and 'A Postcard From Carl', where its sublime softness contrasts perfectly with the organ's shrill wails. One for fans of Kali Malone, Ellen Arkbro and Laila Sakini.
For anyone who knows these records already - you won't need much of a sermon from us about their stature and greatness. If you don't know them - fuck you're in for a treat.
Rhythm & Sound was the project that Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald turned to after their seminal series of recordings as Basic Channel came to an end. From 1997 until 2002 the label released seven 12" EP's which pretty much defined the direction so much electronic music would turn to in its wake - and it still continues to exert a colossal influence, for better or worse. It's perhaps hard to remember over a decade later just how little these productions sounded like anything that preceded them - taking the essence of dub and breaking it down until all that was left was a vapour trail of melody and a colossal bass echo. We could spend an hour listing all the music that basically came along and copied this template in the intervening years but, the thing is, none of what followed comes anywhere near these productions in terms of substance, none of it has aged in the same way.
Dutch D&B DJ/producer Yorobi runs a fractious solo debut fusing jungle and footwork for Bristol’s keepers of the flame, Sneaker Social Club, after her 2020 collaboration with Tim Reaper
Also regarded for her design work on the Intense reissue volumes, Josje Bijl aka Yorobi is a mainstay of Amsterdam’s D&B scene for the past 20 years. The ‘Eden EP’ locates her dancing on the knife edge between ‘90s jungle and ‘00s footwork templates with strong dub-wise influences as finessed sound design. ‘Motherless Child’ is a breathless stepper cadging samples of Dred Bass pads, and ’Stabs’ rinses it ruffer with SD-style tail-chasing breaks swept up in intricate arrangement. ‘Rhode to Nowhere’ leans back on a breaker tip, and ‘Eden’ shows off sharp sound design tekekrz.
Housemates and collaborators in the early 1980s, Linda Smith and Nancy Andrews reconvene for the first time in almost 30 years on 'A Passing Cloud', a lo-fi pop marvel that'll appeal to anyone into The Cat's Miaow, Talulah Gosh or The Field Mice.
Smith and Andrews lived in a shared house in Baltimore back in 1983, collaborating with their housemates Elizabeth Downing and Peggy Blitzer on music that would be shelved when Smith and Blitzer relocated to New York City and formed The Woods. When her music was being picked over for Captured Tracks' 2020 retrospective "Till Another Time: 1988-1996", Smith came across a tape of recordings she'd made with Andrews in the '90s and was prompted to get in touch and propose a new project. 'A Passing Cloud' is the result of a creative back-and-forth that's been on the cards for over three decades, recorded during lockdown and inspired by the duo's witty feminist reinterpretations of Andrews' collection of pulp fiction books.
The duo would grab a phrase from the book titles or blurbs, and then use that to prompt songs that swerve from jangling lo-fi pop to homespun folk, rendering everything with the charming nonchalance of an era long gone. The title track is a statement of intent, waking up vintage-sounding structures with well-scrubbed contemporary techniques; it doesn't sound clean exactly, but its vision of lo-fi is peculiar. 'In the Darkness of Slumber' is ice cold and sensual meanwhile, with evocative field recordings sitting where percussion might usually be, and 'How Could I Know' skews disarming samples and eerie oscillations alongside bold strings and cracking vocals.
Max Syedtollan makes a memorable debut introduction with his avant mazza mashing art-pop and no wave in gonzoid blatz like The Shadow Ring meets This Heat, Laurie Tompkins’ gurning troubadour, or the c.a.n.v.a.s. label’s hybrid possibilities
“Morbid gimmicks, throwaway polaroids, creaking piles of last season’s rubbish – Max Syedtollan rakes through the detritus on Disposables, his new album for 33-33.
Languishing in the opiated wake of a freak accident (awaiting major surgery for a shattered radial head) Syedtollan confronted tedium with a reinvention of his artistic process, a sprawling and unhinged stylistic U-turn that casts aside classical intricacies in favour of a homemade, back-to-basics approach the composer terms “decomposition”.
Across these twelve tracks, such musical staples as metre and key are subverted or ignored; with Syedtollan’s new method functioning as a form of creativity through refusal. Scuppered toy electronics punctuate derealised blasts of daytime radio; diaristic snippets mutate into hallucinatory psychonarratives. It’s a singularly fucked up offering, like The Shadow Ring meets This Heat – while at the same time, apparently, Max Syedtollan’s ‘pop album’.
But it’s yet to be seen if Disposables will make any Radio 1 playlists – these are anti-songs that chart the psychedelic mundanities of recovery. Things get pretty dark, but there are lols to be had amid the narcotic gloom. There are even moments of almost beauty. It’s a trip; and Max Syedtollan plays the companionable if slightly worse-for-wear trip sitter.”
Material Object investigates uncanny valley space serrated between violin improvisation and electronics on their first album in 6 years, for Editions Mego.
“Dismantling the acoustic to feed the electronic, Editions Mego presents Telepath, the new album by Material Object. Born out of a single improvised recording session with a lone Violinist, Telepath is a startling album of future electronic music, resulting in an LP of unique and timeless tracks that reimagine a classic sound for an endless future.
Boldly departing from his previous canon of largely 'Ambient' work, Material Object's Telepath renders itself out as something much stranger, something more spacious, more subtle and gradual. Moments of bouncing minimalism meet moirés of delayed pure tones phasing in and out of resolution, giving way to a series of strobing foreground gestures arranged and offset in disorienting landscapes which scatter themselves asymmetrically amongst crystal pools of reverb.
Revelling in the creative dismemberment of the original source material, Material Object slowly and patiently induces the violin to undergo every category of torsion, pressure and rupture. Its vivid acoustic qualities pass over and across the event horizon of the digital domain. Shattering then crystallising into points and coordinates, intersections, disjunctions, planes and reverberant figures. An uncanny geometry perceived only between the ears, at once dissolving and reconstructing itself.
Equally abstract, haunting and daring, Material Object’s Telepath is a singular work that abandons all notions of genre. Erupting with a tension of opposites that unfolds as a truly unique story, told in four dimensions and draped in deafening colour.”
French-touch club legend I:Cube returns, starry-eyed and spangled with kosmische lust on their self-titled first album in over a decade - RIYL Cluster & Eno, Neu!, Stereolab, Laraaji, Jean-Michel Jarre, Air, Silver Apples of the Moon.
I:Cube is the most revered alias of Nicolas Chaix (aka half of Château Flight with Gilb’R), the Parisian mainstay whose early 12”s and albums were crucial to the development of what became known as the French-touch sound of house music alongside the likes of Daft Punk and Pépé Bradock in the ‘90s and beyond. While he’s never let up with the high quality house deliveries since the ‘90s, recent years have seen Chaix turn his music outwards, upwards, a la 2022’s ‘Chimère FM’ project, which leads the way to ‘Eye Cube’; a delicious confection of classically skooled synth music iridescent with analogue machine melody and gently urged by raw, burbling drum machines. It’s the sound of an artist growing older gracefully, timelessly, and following their nose for more dreamlike and sensuous headspaces, without losing sight of what brought them here in the first place.
Improvised “hands on” and in-the-moment, and presented with minimal post-production, ‘Eye Cube’ is ultimately a testament to what naturally flows forth when he turns on the machines nowadays. Drawing on nearly 30 years of practice, the results convect a searching spirit between celestial harmonics recalling Laraaji in ‘Prismatic’, thru to Silver Apples of the Moon-esque exploits on ‘Vantableu’, and Air-via-JMJ-indebted beauty on ‘Gypsotheque 2’ or ‘Kaszio Plus 1’. He makes room for cosmic turbulence in ‘La Grotte aux fées’ and echoes of his club roots with the Rabih Beaini-like astro-techno vectors of ‘0-0-01-48’, and kisses off with a classic gallic flourish ripe for some unmade film’s romance scenes or a DIC animation in the 0PN-via-Eno shimmer to close, ‘Infinite ∞ Melodies’.
'Gold Mine Trash' hoovers up tracks from Felt's earliest Cherry Red run between 1981 and 1985, and includes their beloved 'Primitive Painters' collaboration with Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser.
Felt's pre-Creation material was marked by Lawrence's relentless creative dynamic, a process that saw him battle his bandmates and steamroll various producers until he'd worked out how to realise his vision. 'Gold Mine Trash' was produced by John Rivers, John Leckie and Robin Guthrie, and while it doesn't have quite the same level of coherence as the later 'Bubblegum Perfume', it still helps map out Lawrence's misunderstood genius in multiple dimensions.
A handful of these tracks were recorded as demos for Warner sub-label Blanco Y Negro, but were turned down. 'Dismantled King Is Off The Throne' is the best of these, and alongside 'Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow' shows the kind of jangling, off-center poppiness and abstract lyricism that'd be thrust into the charts a few years later by Pulp. Robin Guthrie's productions are expectedly interesting too, despite being at odds with Felt's aesthetic. 'The Day the Rain Came Down' is almost drowned completely by Guthrie's signature reverb, but 'Primitive Painters' - which features Liz Fraser on backing vocals - more than makes up for it.
An album of unreleased material from Black Country, New Road, recorded at the historic music venue Bush Hall, in London at the end of December 2022.
"Mixed by John Parish and mastered by Christian Wright at Abbey Road, the new album and material marks a new chapter for the band as a six-piece.
Fresh from the success of ‘Ants From Up There’, Black Country, New Road aka Lewis Evans, May Kershaw, Georgia Ellery, Luke Mark, Tyler Hyde and Charlie Wayne, wrote an entire new set of material to perform. Playing to swelling crowds at festivals, including triumphant performances at Primavera, Green Man and Fuji Rock, they entered a new musical phase as they navigated and developed songs that were just weeks old."
David Holmes (Ocean’s Eleven, Out of Sight, Killing Eve, The Fall, ‘71) new soundtrack to Sky limited series ‘This England’ via Stranger Than Paradise Records.
"The show is co-written and directed by Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart, The Road to Guantanamo) and stars Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson and Ophelia Lovibond as Carrie Symonds. The 6-part drama is based on Boris Johnson’s tumultuous first months as Prime Minister and traces the impact on the country of the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The plan for the music for THIS ENGLAND came in 3 parts.
1. We wanted to create a theme that was high in tempo. A theme that moved as fast as the virus was spreading. We wanted to always feel that we were chasing the vaccine but were ultimately never catching up as the virus took hold through huge events like Cheltenham & Champions League matches that should never have gone ahead. All the rhythms within the score were created using heart beats, ventilators, defibrillators, ECG machines etc. Even though these weren’t obviously noticeable I felt that it worked great as a linear thread and gave the piece real human movement, emotion and tension that told the story in an original way.
2. The second theme centred around the virus itself as it creeped, crawled and spread through cities, countries and ultimately the world, the horrific nature of it and how the world practically changed overnight. I wanted to create a sense of danger that was uncomfortable. It also had to work with the recklessness, nativity and ultimately mismanagement that was witnessed day in day out in Downing Street.
3. Emotionally, we had to be really careful. The last thing we wanted was to be overblown with the emotion. It was very important to deal with the raw human emotion in a very delicate way that had a profound feeling as people of all ages were dying unnecessarily by the 100s every day. The care homes were very tricky because of the hopelessness and obvious outcome of the situation. There was no room for sentimentality. We also wanted to create a darker sense of melancholy as Boris Johnson was not taking the virus at all seriously as he drove off to Chequers week after week.
David Holmes in his own words:-
“I’ve been profoundly affected by the sheer lawlessness and the dishonesty of the Tory government. When are the people who vote them in ever gonna learn? “Boris Johnson is starting to make Margaret Thatcher look like she wasn’t doing a bad job. And she was the devil.” "
The bearded one tonks out a rave techno missile teamed with freakier remixes by Kai Campos (Mount Kimbie) and ATL’s Nikki Nair.
The OG ‘Town Crier’ is a high velocity club tool hustling a rolling bass drum, garbled vox and a skewed hoover at a brisk 136BPM. Kai Campos shears off the kick to leave a writhing wiry exoskeleton, and Nikki Nair swings a sort of jumpy, squeaky killer locked somewhere between Miami bass and Jersey house. PM, always a g.
The third Rhythm & Sound, 1998, full dub pressure. All 25 minutes of it.
Rhythm & Sound was the project that Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald turned to after their seminal series of recordings as Basic Channel came to an end. From 1997 until 2002 the label released seven 12" EP's which pretty much defined the direction so much electronic music would turn to in its wake - and it still continues to exert a colossal influence, for better or worse. It's perhaps hard to remember over a decade later just how little these productions sounded like anything that preceded them - taking the essence of dub and breaking it down until all that was left was a vapour trail of melody and a colossal bass echo.
'Roll Off' is another colossal steppers reduction, the kicks more prominent this time, deployed over two tracks and 25 minutes - just pure headfloss. Buy them all.
NYC’s J/ Albert lathers his broken techno and beat-less ambient works with a potent psychedelic intent on their strong first move of 2023
A perennial, shapeshifting outlier of US dance music, J. Albert’s style feels to exist in space between likes of Max D or Person of Interest on his side of the Atlantic, and Actress or Rat Heart on this side. The ‘config’ EP exemplifies this between worlds feel with Albert’s adroit tekkerz spinning bodies between the restless deep techno stepper ‘Armor’, and the itchy electro of ‘Court’, via introspective bouts of electronica on ‘config4’ and chromatically warped 2-step electro in ‘config5’, beside the smudged slow dance ‘config2’.
Ruthless, hi-NRG Dominican Mambo badness from scene legend Munchi, made circa 2008-2010 and absorbing sounds with a journalistic hunger for storytelling and contextual deconstruction that takes in elements from reggaeton and baile funk to Dutch bubbling and Chicago juke - bending moombahton into breakcore and curving bachata and merengue into something altogether new. Blogger and musicologist Wayne Marshall even coined a separate genre for Munchi's diverse spread of genre-agnostic productions back in 2010: Munchiton. Since then, Munchi has worked with M.I.A. and Pharell Williams among others, and remixed everyone from Skrillex to Nguzunguzu, Noisia to Buraka.
‘I Love Mambo’ was put together in 2010 for Dave Quam's notorious It's After The End Of The World blog and was Munchi's first proper mixtape, matching a handful of his own productions with tracks from the Dominican Mambo canon that had evolved throughout the 2000s. It showcases the febrile sound of Dominican Mambo at a crest of its rudely incendiary powers, emerging from merengue styles via stripped down productions made on FruityLoops, running at a 180bpm gallop akin to Caribbean soca, Portuguese batida, Tanzanian singeli or DJ Chengz’ St. Lucian Kuduro, for example, with an unbridled NRG that’s deadly in the club.
Munchi seems constantly aware of things existing in the same continuum, pulling connecting threads between Dutch bubbling and bassline womps on 'Luis Esta Seguroski VIP', and mind-altering 'Percolator' trills on the hypnotic 'Ayoba Mambo’, summing up the sound with a restive hour of pure velocity and attack tempered by the cross-rhythms of the MCs, holding his line with breathless parade of plaggy pianos, rattling snares, blazing horns and tonking kicks that know no chill.
For the DJs, it gets even better with his OG productions included on the tape, queezing off a full clip of madness between ‘Damu Mambo’ with its orchestral stabs and incessant one note piano jab, the detuned toy piano plonk of ‘Que Maldito Disco’, and wild donk mutation ‘Luis Esta Seguroski VIP’, or the footwork-adjacent trills and flickers of ‘Klk Frutilu’ with its surprise tempo drop primed for the canny DJs. Fire.
Sleep & OM’s Al Cisneros serves manna for stoners with two rootsy, mystic dubs in the mode of his recent split with The Bug
The double A-sided ‘Suicide of Judas / Akeldama’ marks a decade of Cisneros indulging his passion for roots reggae dub after carving his name in the stoner rock hall of fame with Sleep, then Om, between the ‘90s and ’00s. His dub works naturally transpose the slow and heavy intensities of his rock records into loosely related frameworks with more attention given to the low and high end registers rather than rock’s usual midrange.
On ’Suicide of Judas’ he summons really roots reggae’s biblical references with a moody procession of slack-stringed bassline riff and wickedly lagging rock drums perfused with rolling nyabinghi percussion and hazy horns, whereas ‘Akeldama’ really opens out the dub FX envelopes on the same riddim with headier, air-stepping effect for those who haven’t smoked too much and can still lift up a leg.
A stone cold classic of the early ‘80s interzone between what we now call post-industrial and proto-techno styles. It’s perhaps most notably hailed as one of the first ever recordings to combine Roland’s 303 and 808 boxes in its album highlight, Dancing Ghosts, and still sounds entirely, remarkably future-proofed a whole generation down the line.
Recorded in 1982, completed in ’83, Elemental 7 marked a decisive move away from the sensual synth-pop of Chris & Cosey - itself a break with the bitterest ends of their previous group, Throbbing Gristle - to a blend of abstract, synthesised atmospheres and needlepoint rhythm programming joined by processed vocals, Cornet and a mass of self-built electronic instruments.
Nowadays, with reams of recordings from the early ‘80s now back in circulation, it’s perhaps easier than ever to hear the contrast between CTI’s sound and what they did before it, and how incomparable it was to practically everything else, especially in terms of CTI’s approach to clarity and emulated space, and particularly so as they worked outside of the usual big studio system, instead helming to DIY principles which have served them richly to date with little or no expense to fidelity.
As the soundtrack to a video work, Elemental 7 also found Chris & Cosey reprising their multimedia praxis with John Lacey, who previously worked with Cosey in COUM Transmissions, before that unit bifurcated and morphed into Throbbing Gristle. The album's sounds and arrangements, oscillating between breathtakingly immersive ambient architecture and inimitably tight electro-techno templates, are sensitive to synaesthetics and course with an amorphous nature and sensuality which simply didn’t exist before they brought the sound to life in this manner.
Elemental 7 has cast a long shadow of influence over almost all electronic music since it was made, so it almost goes without saying that it’s essential, historic listening.
The first ESP Summer album, Mars Is A Ten, originally released in 1995.
"Recorded in 1994 in Livonia, Michigan by 4AD labelmates Ian Masters (Pale Saints) and Warren Defever (His Name Is Alive). The album combines Masters' sweet, choirboy vocals with his and Defever's way around minimal guitar pop with appropriately spiky, strange touches at points. At its simplest and most unaffected, ESP Summer sounds wonderfully, beautifully fragile"
Ian Masters - guitar vocals piano drums samples
Warren Defever - guitar piano
Erika - violin
Autumn - cello
Matt Smith - string arrangements
Never-before-issued mix of a boogie-down reggae disco pearl lifted off Tyrone Evans’ 1983 Wackies album.
Originally cut by The Paragons and versioned by Tyrone Evans in his super low tone with lifted choral call-and-response, ‘Rise Up’ is a prime piece of reggae disco with the weirdest strut.
It gets even better and madder on the ‘Rise Up Version’, previously unreleased until now and swiping most of the vox to leave its wobbly organ vamps and bubbling bassline oozing late night suss for the coolest dancers.
Megan Mitchell follows strong electro-acoustic records for Longform Editions and Drawing Room Records with an album focused completely around her voice. Souring, grandiose vocal symphonies for fans of Diamanda Galas, Eartheater, or LINGUA IGNOTA.
If there's one thing that's clear within moments of 'Fractured Whole', it's that Mitchell can sing - she can really sing. Her last album 'A Dormant Vigor' was also focused around her vocals, but this time she's restricted herself to using her voice as the album's only instrument. This choice forces her to think about the compositions more deeply, and the unsettling operatic qualities that were an undercurrent on previous releases are now a riptide. 'Penance' is a bleakly cinematic introduction that sounds like velvet curtains parting to reveal an elaborate stage; Mitchell's mezzo-soprano carries a level of emotion that's impossible to counterfeit, and establishes a mood that she proceeds to expand on methodically.
Throughout, electronic treatments and percussive elements are decoration, not the main event. Each track features subtle supporting elements but it's the voice that rings as clear as a bell. On 'Lament', radio static growls oscillate in the background and offer important texture, but Mitchell's gliding moans position her between Enya and Tatiana Troyanos, absorbing the spotlight completely. On 'Synectics', she dissolves her wails into stuttering, insectoid clusters, harking back to her previous experiments, but once her operatic swoops descend on the track's final third, we're lifted by angels into clouds of euphoria.
Vol. 4 from Alhaji Waziri Oshomah.
"Waziri hails from a small part of Edo State in southern Nigeria called Afemailand, known for being a harmonious region where Muslims and Christians live—and dance—together.
And there, as a devout Muslim and an exemplar of religious piety in his community, Waziri’s music fuses Etsako/Afemai folk styles with pan-Nigerian highlife and pop to create a sublime vehicle for his Islamic philosophy that gets everyone—Muslims, Christians, whoever—on the dancefloor."
Alhaji Waziri Oshomah's Vol. 5, via Luaka Bop.
"Waziri hails from a small part of Edo State in southern Nigeria called Afemailand, known for being a harmonious region where Muslims and Christians live—and dance—together.
And there, as a devout Muslim and an exemplar of religious piety in his community, Waziri’s music fuses Etsako/Afemai folk styles with pan-Nigerian highlife and pop to create a sublime vehicle for his Islamic philosophy that gets everyone—Muslims, Christians, whoever—on the dancefloor."
First reissue of Muslimgauze’s 1999 LP of signature rhythm ’n noise for US experimental dub label BSI Records.
Heavier on the drums than the noise, and typically treated to Bryn Jones’ secretive dub, it’s a mixed bag sweeping between impressionistic scenes of duelling drummers on the street in ‘Antalya’, to glitch dubs that feel like a pre-echo of Seekers International on the hiccuping ace ‘Valencia In Flames’, with hand drums spun into heat hazy gauze on ‘Al Souk Dub’ and the labyrinthine recursions of ‘Catacomb Dub’.
It gets hottest and heaviest in the scorched electro-dub pressure of ‘Dust of Saqqara’ and takes a sharp turn left to the extra terrestrial mythology of Mali via Craig Leon with two standout parts of piquant psych-dub in ‘Dogon Tabla’ and the blown-out devise ‘Nommos’ Afterburn’.
Drag On Girard by Purling Hiss, via Drag City.
"The colliding circles of time bring us back to the brink of the Hiss at last.
Classic rock singing/screaming guitars fuse with Mike Polizze’s hope-n-dreamz feels and explode into fresh heartbreak, happening right now today, as sweet tunes and crushed guitar harmonics pour off the turntable and run out in the street, just like in the old days."