Ambient healing music from Japan. The first in a series tending to the archive of prolific Japanese ambient music pioneer Fumio Miyashita, formerly of psych/prog-rock band Far Out/Far East Family Band.
"In 1969, he was an original member of the rock musical, ‘Hair’, in Tokyo. He formed the progressive rock groups Far Out and Far East Family Band, releasing ground-breaking albums and touring internationally. Always interested in oriental philosophy since studying karate at a young age (he became a black belt in high school), he became interested in oriental medicine after an injury on stage that only healed after undergoing acupuncture. In 1977, he immigrated to the United States, where he continued to study oriental medicine, philosophy, the Chinese Five Elements and also began, in earnest, to research music therapy.
In 1981, he decided to return to Japan, moved to Shinshu Iizuna Highlands and established Biwa Studio. One reason for choosing Iizuna Highlands was because it’s altitude is 1,250 meters and during his studies he learned that this is a very positive and healthy altitude for the human body to reside in. There he created numerous works, including music CD’s and image videos. His passion was for creating music that was helpful to people and his recurring theme in his works was relaxation and healing for the mind and body. He named his music ‘Healing Music’ and he established his own unique style of music therapy."
Pretty solo piano recordings by Italian Bavota, whose music has appeared on popular playlists and high profile TV placements in recent years
“Bruno Bavota – the young, prolific Italian composer whose music has often been labeled with earnest, adjective-laden descriptors such as “disarmingly sincere” and “extraordinarily emotional” – has experienced a self-imposed creative transformation over the past few years. Where his early records were pristine, piano-driven expressions of universal themes, his more recent works have found him in a place of thorough meditation and self-examination. As Bavota explains, “While at the beginning of my music and career, I focused on crystal clear piano sounds, eventually all the time spent at the piano day after day changed my sense of the piano itself. I started to see the piano like a living instrument.”
Get Lost is Bruno Bavota’s first studio album since the 2016 release of Out of the Blue helped thrust him into that peculiar world of anonymous but significant success via high-volume streaming playlists and high-profile TV placements. Out of the Blue marked the beginning of Bavota’s drift from immaculate, traditional piano music. If Get Lost isn’t a complete reinvention, it is at the very least a radical new direction. Rather than obsess over the sound of the piano itself, Bavota now explores the sounds around the piano – the resonance, the silence, and the acoustic ambience of the living, breathing space in which the piano resides. He employs an array of outboard effects pedals and processors to not just capture those sounds that are often overlooked, but to sample, loop, and reposition them as central figures in a story.
Bruno Bavota gave Get Lost its name when he found himself drifting deeper into the darker side of his music. Inspired by a familiar observation of modern life, Bavota confessed, “I think people are becoming more selfish and don't seem to have time to listen to other people who need to be heard. We don't show much empathy.” Much like Bavota’s evolving approach to the piano, he has discovered profound purpose and influence in the people and places least visible but most meaningful.”
Evil spirit in the machine, Bad Tracking tacks to Bokeh Versions for their label debut and 3rd gob of acrid industrial noise misshapes
Also feared as members of para-rave radgies Avon Terror Corps; Bristol’s Bad Tracking is now revealed as the alias of jungle producer Gordon Appds (Relapse) and poet / VHS artist Max Kelan (who has lent his visuals to videos from Hodge, The Pop Group, OM Unit and Young Echo among others). They continue to run amok between blvck metvl, noise, and industrial dub strains with a sourly puckered, slow and abrasive volley in ‘Widower.’
‘Ericsson’ sees him spread leathery wings in proper, delacquered BM style, and the rinsed out cadaver of ‘Widower’ follows thru with a rusty shank of industro-dub bother. ‘Banned From Motion’ catches them trampling with structural stress-test squeals in unforgiving fashion, while ‘Banned from Fini’ reiterates that idea to swollen extremes, and ‘Wellspring’ leaves no prisoners with its full frontal physical assault of atonal shudders and the sort of vocals that require a full packet of lozenges after recording.
Superb, variegated debut LP of twysted vintage drum machine crack and cinematic techno synths from Maria Inês Borges Coutinho’s Violet for Dark Entries, marking one of their rare forays into contemporary productions.
Covering all bases between Serpente-like jungle deviations to lamping, latinate techno, metallic boogie and ambient breeze, ‘Bed Of Roses’ ‘fesses to the full spectrum of Violet’s style, as previously heard in 12”s for her Naive imprint, and the One Eyed Jacks and Paraíso labels since start of this decade.
The 10 songs were conceived as a “healing device” or “a sort of childhood-teenage memories diary” and see her come to terms with nostalgia and buried feelings. As such she strikes a fine balance of introspection and dancefloor escapism, taking in the Jasss-like fusion of dark, lustrous synths and deviant, reticulated junglism with her striking opener ‘Tears in 1983’, while the FM synth-refracted feel and title of ‘Bed Of Roses’ harks back to herself as a 9 y.o. with a thing for Jon Bon Jovi. But if you’re after proper club gear, best check the whirling metallic dembow of ‘In The Aquarius’, or the Nite Jewel boogie flex of ‘They Don;’t Wanna Know’, and the bruxist thump of ‘Spectral.’ But they’re really all best heard in the flow of the album, along with its swaggering downstrokes in ‘Half Crazy’ and the Teresa Winter-like vectors of ‘Never Leave.’
Carla dal Forno’s keenly anticipated 2nd album pays dividends on the promise of her debut, returning a gorgeous, stately suite of chamber pop that certifies her among the most vital songwriters in her field. Tipped to fans of Nico, HTRK, CS + Kreme, Dome, Julee Cruise...
Forming an exquisitely pruned bouquet of midnight wildflowers, ‘Look Up Sharp’ makes the shrugging pop of Carla’s debut LP ‘You Know What It’s Like’  feel almost naif by comparison. With her vocals cleanly poised high in the mix, as though throned in a wide, high-ceilinged room lofted above the city, Carla speaks to a sort of resigned state of mind, coolly coming to terms with a sense of impending doom that resonates with early post-punk concerns over nuclear war and how the old world informs the present.
It’s perhaps best seen as an exercise in snatching relief from the jaws of misery; an idea is conveyed in the plaintive reserve of her vocals and the urge of the album’s title, and arrestingly enunciated between the album’s most immediate standouts, from the driving gothic succour of opener ‘No Trace’, to the elegant self-realisation of ‘I’m Conscious’, leading her to similarly downbeat but not beat conclusions as HTRK in the smoky shuffle of ‘Took A Long Time’ and the quietly optimistic closer, ‘Push On.’
Chalk Hill Blue is a record of electronic ruralism channeling lives threaded through the chalk landscapes of Southern England.
“Will Burns is Caught by the River poet-in-residence, and Hannah Peel is a frequent fixture of Caught by the River festival stages – both with the ‘cosmic colliery’ electronica of her solo work, and with orchestral place-rock band The Magnetic North (of which Chalk Hill Blue producer Erland Cooper is also a member.)
As part of their collaboration, Burns, Peel and Cooper walked the landscapes around Burns’s Wendover house together: their chalk-heeled boots tracing shared routes through the rhythms and repetitions of the place. What emerges in Chalk Hill Blue is a site-specific-non-specific record of creative place portraiture; an album that traces elements of a living landscape, and reworks them into something that is as sensitive and finely-observed as it is visionary.
Burns’s words and Peel’s sounds – deftly fused by Cooper’s sympathetic production – channel the minute shifts in the air and atmosphere of a place, and their resulting emotional effects. The spoken words and sound worlds on Chalk Hill Blue often seem to emerge from subliminal processes of call and answer; a fertile blurring of collective inspiration and intention circling this abstracted chalk landscape.
Perhaps if Delia Derbyshire’s later years in Cumbria had been happier then a record like this might have emerged from the fells, or alternatively if Virginia Astley’s gardens had contained a modular synth or two. Other triangulation points might include Hans Joachim Roedelius’s bucolic kosmiche reveries, Joanna Brouk’s new age minimalism, or James Yorkston’s ambient spoken word experiments. Like the butterfly with which it shares its name, Chalk Hill Blue is a rare thing: a glorious electric pastoral shimmer.”
Greyscale drones and jagged industrial textures make up Aki Onda’s soundtrack response to images supplied by experimental filmmaker Paul Clipson, who died suddenly on 3rd February, 2018. RIYL cranky James Ferraro, Phillip Jeck’s lustrous grays, Aaron Turner’s textured improvs
“On Make Visible the Ghosts, New York-based musician Aki Onda composed the soundtrack for the images of the San Francisco experimental filmmaker Paul Clipson, who suddenly passed away on February 3, 2018.
In 2009, Clipson and Onda met at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for the first time and shared a ride to the International Film Festival Rotterdam, where they presented audio-visual works in the same bill. Since then, the two artists – known for their highly personal approach with Super 8, 16mm, cassette Walkman and radio – maintained a close friendship over the next nine years. Their works deal with memory, time, space, and those reflections, and they had a lot to share.
Onda and Clipson completed their collaboration work Make Visible The Ghosts—a combination of vinyl LP of Onda’s music and large-size collage artwork by Clipson—a few months before Clipson’s departure from life. The work is composed of the materials they used for their performance in New York in 2012 and developed over the three years from 2015 to 2017.
Onda notes: “The loss of Paul has left a huge hole in our mind including his friends and collaborators. Paul is no longer here, and this is a chance to remember him and his images that extended and expanded our perception of how the world can be seen and heard.””
London’s dankest relay palpably paranoid pressures from the capital on The Bug's newly minted Pressure label, hopefully the start of an ongoing collaboration between the pair.
Spying those hours of the dance when the smoke machines are puffing but there’s nobody there yet, Fog finds them melding charred bass hustle with billowing greyscale atmospheres in a time-honoured style shared by both artists.
On the flip, Shrine distills their meditative intensity to more suspenseful degrees with exceedingly brittle drums bearing the huge, brooding weight of a slowed down dread bass and glowering pads = minimal fuss for deadly, concentrated impact.
At fudging last, Jai Paul’s infamous “demo” track ‘BTSTU’ is cushioned on vinyl via XL. Only took ‘em 8 years to get around to it, like
Crying out for a vinyl pressing since it first landed to resounding acclaim in 2011, ‘BTSTU’ has arguably become one of this decade’s most notorious songs not made available on a 12” single. Since its release Jai Paul has issued a 12” pressing of another demo ‘Jasmine’ (2012), and only this year he dispensed an official release of ‘Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones)’, which gave some signs that his archive was (possibly) about to spill over to us proles on the shop floor.
To be fair, there’s no signs of new material as of yet, but at least ‘BTSTU’ is on the hard black stuff, in new remasters of the ‘Demo’ and ‘Edit’ versions, which still sound as juicy and addictive as the primest Prince cuts, nearly a decade after they were first cooked up.
Greater Manchester’s All Night Flight toss their bonnet in with reissue of an atmospheric DIY “trance” album from late ‘80s California sure to appeal to fans of K. Leimer, Marc Barreca, or Stroom’s languid introspective vibes.
“Ok, background! A Produce is the moniker of the late Barry Craig, a prolific artist operating on the fringe of the experimental and DIY music scene of California from the 80's onwards. Via his Trance Port Tapes label, Craig was responsible for documenting what he coined in his own words 'the growing trance music scene' emerging in LA at the time. Trance? not as we know it, but more his own unique take on hypnotic, somewhat introspective minimalist electronics and instrumentation that's STILL very of the now and undiscovered. The imprint's DIY ethos and alternative agenda was cemented through the incredible design work by Bruce Licher of Independent Project Press and a release from psychedelic enabler Timothy Leary.
Incubated over the course of three years, Craig's privately released, small-run debut The Clearing is described as 'an album of conceptual space', rooted in LA's early post-punk / DIY scene but coming at an intersection of styles to incorporate the new experimental or 'trance' music that was starting coalesce . The result is a masterpiece of flow and cohesion without comparison, shifting from heady, repetitious organ pieces ‘Farming In Arabia’ to tension-laced palette cleanser ‘Tunnels’. ‘Owachomo’ slips into a moodier, sulking drum-machine strut, followed by the more frantic ‘Pulse’ - a wild, insistent, polyrhythmic soup of crisp drum machines and eccentric vocal acrobatics. At this point it’d be nice to offer some comparisons but I’m totally stumped; the whole LP flows so naturally between these livelier moments to deeper, inward-looking passages, such as the transition from ‘October 1st’ to the blind-siding, spirited new-wave cut ‘Ashes Of Love’. The home-straight plunges back inside, with a piece of stripped bare hypnotism ‘#2’, more intimate, wind-chime ambience on ‘The Raw Silk, The Uncarved Block’ and the final piece of tempered tribalism ‘The Clearing’.
I really can’t give this one enough justice with words and any obvious bias aside, it’s truly one of the best front-to-back listens I’ve ever encountered and I hope others can experience the same.”
Newly remastered at D&M, ’Necklace Of Bites’ is a crucial volley of early Regis artillery sourced from 12”s issued by Downwards c. 1998-2000. Effectively a reshuffle of his 2000AD self-titled CD compilation of 12”-only cuts, it features his Jim Jones-sampling ‘Solution (Voice)’ amid a ruck of prime, dark and killer late ‘90s techno girders.
Revolving definitively monotone and snaky templates for the Birmingham techno sound forged by Regis (alongside Surgeon, Female, Mick Harris and Justin Broadrick), ‘Necklace Of Bites’ is built in the driving, distorted and highly utilitarian style that spilled out of Brum’s Q Club in the mid ’90s, and which continues to infect the sets of DJs such as Helena Hauff and Blawan well into 2019.
Back before main room techno became meme-ified as “business techno”, these tracks were the Black Country shirehorses of peak time DJ slots across the UK, EU and the world. Influenced as much by Jeff Mills’ Axis and Purpose Maker 12”s and hardass Chicago house as original ‘80s industrial and post-punk, the dozen tracks epitomise Regis’ signature distillation of proper, bluecollar club sounds made for those who like to play hard and all night, and as such they’re future-proofed for use over 20 years later.
The set in particular highlights Regis’ hypnotically sexy and arguably rare use of vocal sampling in the inexorable, militant charges of ‘Execution Ground’, ‘Baptism’, and ‘Purification (Endless)’, while his use of a muffled Jim Jones sample on ’Solution (Voices)’ predates his use of Jones in BMB by half a decade. More to the point, the compilation also holds precious DJ tool bruisers in the likes of his lip-bitingly infectious roller ‘Wound Us’, and the industrial galvanics of ‘Adolescence’ and ‘Rites’ that still kill in the modern day.
‘Chain Tripping’ - YACHT’s seventh album and third for DFA - was recorded between Marfa, Texas and the band’s home in Los Angeles.
"The ten songs are unlike anything YACHT has ever made: pop experiments from a sideways dimension coaxedinto their studio through a portal opened by machine intelligence. “AI and Machine Learning represent a revolution in music equivalent to the introduction of the synthesizer or the beginning of laptop music. We’ve been a band long enough to watch technology overwrite our assumptions many times, and felt compelled to bring these new tools into our life,” explain YACHT."
Berlin’s ACS unarchive early productions by US and UK techno fanciers Recept and Tom Churchill
Chicago-based owner of Tektite Recordings, Merrick Brown aka Recept furnishes the A-side with ‘Quisite’, a swanging tribute to Detroit techno written in Texas at the end of the ‘90s, riding bumpy groove and layered with wistful Martian melodies not a million miles from the work of deep techno cowboy, Convextion/E.R.P.
Glasgow’s Tom Churchill offers a slinky lovely coil of Motor city harmonies and tinfoil drum machine patterns on the flip, mercifully salvaged from a hard drive that survived a studio fire to dance another day.
New music specialist and guitarist Cristián Alvear sensitively brings Catherine Lamb’s work for solo guitar and electronics to life with intoxicating results for Another Timbre.
Originally written with pedal steel guitar in mind, Catherine’s composition is animated with extreme subtlety by Alvear on the classical guitar, working an infinite cycle of four, overlapping “environmental” chords against an algorithmic response of shimmering electronics. The guitar and electronics proceed to intersect at strangely poignant junctures that describe the piece’s title, resolving in elliptical cadence that seems to also describe the vector of our heads to an imagined pillow, as we struggle to keep our eyes open and deny the piece’s hypnagogic traction for its duration.
Rabih Beaini’s Morphine label rouses from a long hiatus with a killer blast of Sun Ra-skooled cosmic techno jazz.
Last spotted in 2017 introducing solo projects by Senyawa, who have gone on to worldwide acclaim, Morphine Doser doesn’t miss a beat with this immersive session of live instrumental and electronic jams recorded by Rabih Beaini and his pals, Piero Bittolo Bon, Tommaso Cappellato, and Alvise Seggi, in Italy during June of 2016.
Patently indebted to Sun Ra, the results gush in five parts ranging form the roiling, turbulent cosmic polyrhythms and haywire synths of ‘Kaigo’, to channel a sort of dark Middle Eastern jazz vibe in ‘Barene’, with the effervescent palate cleanser ‘Sinopia’ leading into more pastoral, spiritual styles spiced with funk drums in ‘Ghebi’, and a head-spinning whorl of splayed breaks and modular scree in ‘Hephaistos.’
The recordings on this album were made in Texas prison farms in July 1964. Bruce Jackson had gone there in the hope of recording black convict worksongs, a tradition that derived from slavery and, before that, was imported from Africa.
"Many of the prisons in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana, where such songs had been sung, had been built on the sites of slaverytime plantations. It was as if the owners changed but not much else. Bruce found far more than worksongs. Prison is a place where people live: when they go there, they bring with them pieces of free world culture, just as someone migrating from one country to another brings cultural knowledge and practice to the new home. In addition to the worksongs he heard spirituals, blues, toasts (recited poems) and much more. In this album he tries to give a sense of that range of material."
New on Luaka Bop: Danish duo Bremer/McCoy—Morten McCoy keyboards and loops and Jonathan Bremer acoustic bass—make music that is a meditative and intense blend of jazz and dub created entirely via analog process.
"No computers involved; they record everything straight to tape in their own studio. These two childhood friends tour with their own soundsystem, originally left over from a dub band they were both in, to ensure adequate depth in the lower frequencies.
Recorded over two cold and windy Copenhagen weeks in sessions plagued by malfunctioning gear, the band overcame these setbacks and recorded some of the clearest melodies and conceptual passages they have put to tape. In pieces such as “Åben bog” they draw on Danish folk music as a base from which they work from more classical composition to a free-form and trouble-free place. The album’s closing track, “Determination,” stays true to its title and is a song without hesitation, finishing what the band sets out to do."
A genteel mix of spoken word and burbling electronics from Will Burns and Hannah Peel, issued as addendum to their ’Chalk Hill Blue’ album
Conceived at the behest of the BBC, the A-side’s ‘Moth’ further explores the paths of ‘Chalk Hill Blue’ with breezily elegiac strokes of synth and a succinct passage of observant poetry giving way to feathered drums and lilting, melodic lines of piano and electronics. Their B-side trails in a duskier vein with wistful arps and tender keys underlining Will Burns’ poetic description of the landscape around ‘Wendover, Bucks.’
Tech-House veteran Ryan Crosson does jiggly breaks for Deadbeat’s label, backed by the label’s boss’ dubbier rework
‘Feet VanVleet’ is one for the k-crew with its wobbly groove and swarm of gibbering ether voices, whereas Deadbeat gives it a much slinkier pivot gilded with deliquescent chords.
Premiere vinyl reissue of a Japanese no wave/disco-punk classic from 1980, newly remastered and dished up by Studio Mule. Hugely sought-after, original copies trade for triple figures!
A killer lesson in stripped down, nagging no wave drills, ‘Back Ground Music’ was first issued by the legendary Vanity Records in 1980 and has been sought-after ever since on the 2nd hand market. And it’s not hard to hear why. Like the tighter far eastern cousins of Wire, Liquid Liquid, Mars or DAF; BGM possessed a millimetre-tight groove control, a hypnotic feel for repetition and trippy mixing, and a strange way with near-whispered, mumbled vocals that sets them way out on their own.
Slipping its disco clogs on with deliciously slouchy bass, drums and guitar countered by clattering, two-left-footsteps in ‘Mix’, the LP impresses at every turn between the discordant jag of ‘Neo Dancer’, the primitivist no wave hunch of ‘Repeat’, and the sozzled swagger of ‘And’ on the A-side, before locking down a mean psych-disco groove with ‘Member Ship Card’, and what sounds like the Japanese grandpappies of Sleaford Mods on ‘In Put’, while a couple of beat-less oddities sandwich the brilliant, asymmetric rhythm and deeply odd use of drones and pealing electronics in ‘Romantic Recovery.’
Reissue of two deep garage house gems by Rotating Assembly’s Warren Harris on Floating Points’ Melodies International
Rolling on from MI’s recut of a divine Mood II Swing remix session, the label pluck out a pair of cuts from Hanna’s 2004 CD ‘Exquisite Style’, laying out the jazz-funky garage bass, soft keys and balmy vocal of ‘I Needed’ across the front, with the ruder swang of ‘Intercession, On Behalf’ reserved to the B-side, which makes us feel like we’re in a chufty clothes shop on a weekend, overlooked by shop assistants who can’t decide if they’re keen or aloof.
Features remixes from Coby Sey, Bruce and FaltyDL.
"Blueberry Records founder FaltyDL aka Drew Lustman comes first with a deep, skipping 2-stepping reversion of Mumma Don’t Tell. Bruce comes off the back of his well received debut album for Hessle Audio with a “resymph” of Osho in typical mind-bending style. Whities producer and Tirzah/Mica Levi collaborator Coby Sey reconstructs Suns of Gold with his sampler, and also accompanying it, is Leifur’s own remix of suns of Gold."
On their debut album Saariselka fuse Ambient and Americana - "unearthed and explored."
"There is an old Norse myth that says the great northern glaciers stored energy until they burst with fluorescent light, creating the Aurora Borealis. Saariselka is inspired by the meeting of earth and light, where slowly moving land masses merge with enveloping light fields. This sonic collaboration between composers Marielle Jakobsons (Fender Rhodes, organ, synthesizers) and Chuck Johnson (pedal steel guitar and treatments) is as expressive as it is enigmatic.
The Ground Our Sky gets its lift by pondering the universe not while staring up at the sky, but rather down at the ground – gazing into the earth, where we are all individually and collectively a meeting of the ground and the sky. This inverted perspective is at the heart of Saariselka’s music. That feeling of becoming ungrounded is universal and inevitable – and increasingly necessary to seize those rare opportunities for meaningful changes in perspective."
L.A.’s Mor Elian does tech-breaks with nimble flair on her Fever AM label
A-side carries the pirouetting arps and jiggly hang drum nano-breaks of ‘Radical Spectacular’, while B-side swangs out with testy electro syncopation and ‘Farewell To The Snare’ rolls out on a bubbling breakbeat pivot with nervy synth tweaks.
Sun City Girls’ Alan & Rick Bishop gang up with Michael Flowers and Chris Corsano for a debut LP trek to outposts of free-jazz, motorik krautrock, strung-out desert blues and mystic drone.
"Invited to perform in London as part of the St John Sessions series, Alan Bishop rounded up this quartet of underground stalwarts with a deep history of collaborative ventures – the Bishop brothers making up two-thirds of the legendary Sun City Girls, Richard Bishop and Corsano comprising two parts of psychedelic juggernaut Rangda, and the Flower-Corsano Duo having wowed audiences for over a decade with their face-melting brand of eastern-tinged free shred.
The quartet spent four days in the studio developing material for the London show and recording the seven pieces heard here (five across the two sides of the LP, accompanied by two digital bonus tracks). They settled, for the most part, on something approaching a classic rock quartet line-up: Richard Bishop on electric guitar, Michael Flower on his signature amplified ‘Japanese banjo’ (an Indian keyed zither), Alan Bishop on bass and Chris Corsano manning the drums. Rather than a straight-up improvised blowing session, the LP strikes a balance between free-flowing spontaneous interaction and structured surprise, alternating between zoned-out group meditations and stop-on-a-dime unison dynamics.
On the epic side-long opener ‘Don’t Hang From My Ceiling’, a lyrical weave of guitar, bass and Japanese banjo lines approaches the unhurried melodic invention of Indian classical music until Corsano’s tumbling, free-form drums incite the quartet into an ecstatic crescendo, over which Richard Bishop’s guitar unfurls a euphoric solo that calls to mind the mystical grandeur of prime Popol Vuh.
The B side finds the quartet branching out both in terms of instrumentation and compositional strategies, crafting a suite of pieces that, like classic Sun City Girls, move unexpectedly from tightly locked bass and drum grooves to explosions of free jazz alto saxophone (courtesy of Alan Bishop) and from shimmering guitar jams to massed choirs of horns. ‘(So Long) Harry Dean’, one of the record’s highlights, finds Richard Bishop on piano, leading the quartet through a languorous series of chords punctuated by Corsano’s gracefully ungainly percussive accents, before a sudden blast of reed horn announces a passage of rapid-fire dissonance that seamlessly transitions back into the pianistic meandering of the track’s first-half.
Effortlessly balanced between improvisation and composition, melody and noise, rhythm and space, the Clandestine Quartet is a fitting next step for this group of psychedelic troubadours, showing them drawing on their past accomplishments but never content to stand still.”
Grandiose electro-acoustic composition from Munich’s Sophie Schnell aka Pyur, refining the styles heard on her 2016 Hotflush debut into a mix of distended, crunchy IDM-techno swarmed with symphonic chorales and strings. RIYL Zoe McPherson or Roly Porter
“Munich’s PYUR (Sophie Schnell) makes her Subtext debut with “Oratorio for the Underworld”, a nimble odyssey through vivid, otherworldly dreams. Growing up immersed in her family’s work as shamans, Schnell draws on the techniques and stories of her upbringing, through which ephemeral forms, stories and colours seep into her sound—a synthesis of hyperreal sound design, dramaturgy and classical composition.
PYUR’s fascination with the space between life and death is expressed through the weaving together of the organic and sublime in a dramatic exercise in expansive sonic worldbuilding. The LP is a form of storytelling in which Schnell reimagines and takes on the roll of psychopomp, ushering the listener into a borderless realm. She relays rich legends while warm, airy timbres (courtesy of cellist Teresa Alvarez and violinist Juan Zalba Fuentes) serve as guides throughout.
Working largely in isolation over a period of two years, Oratorio for the Underworld is a document of “inward archaeology,” and marks an intimate yet grandiose journey through the psyche, exploring the ecstatic emotional boundaries between life and death, and body and spirit. Over the two year period, Schnell constantly found herself inventing new and unconventional compositional techniques with which to keep her writing dynamic—a process key in countering her own obsession with the mythos of Oratorio.”
The drowsy nostalgia and summer-days charm of ‘Neighbourhoods’ is another absolute peach from Pete Swanson & Jed Bindeman’s Freedom To Spend, presenting the first ever reissue of Ernest Hood’s sole, outstanding 1975 LP. Big RIYL BoC!
Hazily framed by a mixture of zither, woozy keyboards and sweetly candid field recordings, ‘Neighbourhoods’ is Ernest Hood’s deeply personal and warmly endearing impression of childhood naivety. Previously a figurehead of the Northwest US jazz scene, a bout of polio restricted his guitar playing, so Ernest turned to a gentler sound focussed on “the formation of comfortable memories”, resulting a daydream of an album that recalls fondest memories of long summer holidays, nagging parents, and hours absorbed in kids flicks, cartoons and their sugary soundtracks. sadly that’s maybe not the same experience many kids have nowadays, self-sequestered in bedrooms, congregating on Mmorpg’s, but once upon a time this kind of idyll was real.
Gently coming to life with ‘Saturday Morning Dozing’, the album saunters thru scenes such as ‘At The Store’ documenting kids on a shop stoop deciding what to do with their day and spilling 7up on their peanuts, to the meridian buzz of crickets in ‘August Haze’, and the chufty synth fanfare connoting the buzz of leaving class in ‘After School’, and onto the mischievous frolics of ‘Night Games’, it would take a heart of stone not to melt at the charms of this album. Really, almost anyone will recognise and fall heavily for Ernest Hood’s impressionistic beauty.
Deep house minimalism from Tokyo via Amsterdam, courtesy of Dutch and Japanese artists
San Proper set it off with a techno-dubbed stride in the rolling square bass and tantalising chords of ‘Your Call’, which ends up with a ruder house swang, while Triad goes slinky and subaquatic with ‘Room N’, and Iori Wakasa sprinkles rapid piano ostinatos and high-register electronics on a deep heaving but elegant tech house groove.
Culled from live performances in Los Angeles in 1980, 'Towards A Total Poetry' holds radioplays and sound poems by Julien Blaine, Adriano Spatola, F. Tiziano, and Paul Vangelisti. Two concerts were organized by poet and professor Vangelisti and broadcast on his KPFK radio show. A rare gathering of extreme French and Italian sound poets in California, flown out on with an arts funding grant (my, how things have changed!). A jarred specimen on a golden platter of a time passed.
"The electricity of the performances is unparalleled. Sadistically funny, dizzy with confusion: a map lies dissected on the table. Adriano Spatola (1941-1988) is the most beautiful Italian post-war poet, also publisher of Baobab, Tam Tam, Geiger editions. His stage presence is that of a drunken wolverine, thrashing his words and letters, madly chuckling and whispering secrets to himself. Spatola interprets a disfigured rendition of “Buddenbrooks,” a traumatic and shocking radioplay, held alongside his infamous “Aviation / Aviateur” and “Al Capone Poem,” read with explosive tension. His younger brother, F. Tiziano, is a more mysterious figure. His radioplay, “Los Angeles Bridge,” has four characters: North, South, East, and West. Quibbling through a fever dream over a card game. Professional voice actors were hired for all of the radioplays, translated from Italian by Vangelisti (as with all of Spatola’s English publications). French artist and sound poet Julien Blaine (1942) composed the play “Passe / Futur” – utilizing his actors as verbal instruments: buzzing and howling as carefully as dots on sheet-music. His sound poems are hilarious, “Amputation” mimics the sound of four severing surgeries, and “Mots d’enfants” still confuses me as to what exactly is going on… Paul Vangelisti’s works open and close Towards A Total Poetry. The Los Angeles poet and publisher of Red Hill Press organized the affair and was able to hold his own against such powerful artists. Paul’s pieces are conceptual, opening with a fitting typewriter hymn, “Radio,” and concluding with “Auld Lang Syne,” the Ms of the phone book sung by chorus.These are some of the strangest radioplays in existence. A format I feel is underused. The infusion of drama and comedy and open air to fill... oh, the possibilities."
Lending new meaning to the idea of getting stoned and rocking out, the first audio document of Fluxus artist Geoffrey Hendricks’ music presents three meditative and playfully sensitive pieces performed by Philip Corner, Charlie Morrow and the artist himself with a bag of stones, prongs, Korean shaman cymbals and a shoe. If you loved that Anne Tardos CD on New Wilderness Audiographics (reissued by Recital) as much as us, don’t miss!
“The first audio document ever published by Fluxus artist Geoffrey Hendricks (1931-2018). There is a romanticism found in Geoffrey, that, in my mind, sets his work aside from his Fluxfriends. Known for his timeless sky paintings, applied to canvas, cars, clothes, and so on, the conceptual married the majestic. He was a master painter, whose work could have filled cathedral ceilings. Instead, he chartered his bow alongside George Maciunas, John Cage, Dick Higgins, etc. in the 1950s. Hendricks became a prominent member of Fluxus, shown in exhibitions around the world for over 60 years.
In the 1970s, composer Charlie Morrow approached Hendricks about recording an album for the New Wilderness Audiographics cassette series. This became a 40 year dance of orbiting schedules and slipping dates. Their skies aligned in 2014, and a recording session at Ear Up Studios in New York manifested. Geoffrey’s connection to nature not only focused upwards at the sky, but also downwards to stones. “Rock Music” consists of a box of rocks being cast across a room. Pounded on wood, soft and hard, the sonar-like snapping echo mapping the dimensions of the room. Small bells hover over the rubbing of stones humming to each other. You can tell that this was a therapeutic ritual he practiced for years, not merely an improvised recording concept. With the LP is a booklet that includes diaries of his stone collecting on Cape Breton island in 1973, beautifully infused with dream recollection.
The cassette of “Music for Sky Slate Wall” was discovered by chance earlier this year in the vast archive Hendricks left behind. It holds Geoff’s close friend Philip Corner performing at an Emily Harvey Foundation exhibition in 1999. Corner responds to the Hendricks installation, interpreting the wall adorned with watercolors of day and night skies, grey slate, and a ladder hanging more paintings and golden ornaments. Philip Corner performs with prongs, Korean shaman cymbals, his voice, and a shoe. Their charming friendship can be heard in the interplay.
This project was made possible by Geoff’s widow, Sur Rodney (Sur), his children, Tyche and Bracken Hendricks, Philip Corner, & Charlie Morrow.
-Sean McCann, August 2019”
Shocking 909 driven dancehall banger from Dug Out, the label run by Honest Jons and Hard Wax
Ruffest shot of 1988 ragga-techno from Tiger at his maddest. Nuthin' but a rattling 909 riddim topped by incendiary, unhinged vocal and that's all you need! Seriously, we've never heard anything quite like it, the groove sounds like some one-off bleep techno experiment from Sheffield gone AWOL and discovered by a manic Jamaican.
Berceuse Héroïque wheel out the heavy artillery with Pinch’s rude debut barrage for the bass and techno outpost - one of his baddest since those early Swamp 81’s at start of this decade.
Making his first trample of 2019, Pinch keeps it topical with the grimacing and soggy dread march of ‘Border Control’, coming off like a late ‘90s Virus workout remodelled for basements full of hooligans stomping their ugly sneakers into rave slush - you know the tread - before ‘Fortune Tellers’ spins us right back to Pinch’s 2010 steamers ‘Croydon House’ and ‘Retribution’ but with added time lag in a proper piece of UK bass/techno, while ‘Loose Cables’ sees him unbuckle the modular and let it all slop out in a sort of frazzled, drunken stagger that will churn the ‘floor to mush.
Murder business. For serious bassbin use only!
Empire of Signs follow Hiroshi Yoshimura foundational 'Music For Nine Postcards' with a much needed look at Makoto Inoue and Yasushi Yamashita’s Inoyama Land project, expanding on their sound heard on 'Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990' to illuminate material that is even lesser known outside of Japan – some of it presented publicly for the first time, written as the soundtrack to a museum exhibit on slime molds and now making its vinyl premiere after years in the archive.
"A portmanteau of their family names, the “Land” of Inoyama hovers between imagined mythical space and concrete reality, extending beyond physical releases into installations, site-specific sound design and theatre scores. After their famed Haruomi Hosono-produced 1983 release Danzindan-Pojidon, the duo became involved in the budding environmental music business that was taking shape in Tokyo during the development boom of the asset bubble – working directly with figures like Hiroshi Yoshimura (with whom they developed sound design for the International Stadium in Yokohama) and Takashi Sekiguchi (Bamboo from Asia).
Working initially with Munetaka Tanaka’s Sound Process Design (an acoustic consulting company formed by Tanaka with Satoshi Ashikawa, before Ashikawa’s tragic death in 1983), their commissioned work mirrors the sound world first fleshed out on Danzindan: chiming synthesizers, pastoral hues, childhood memory – all pulsing with a distant, emotional resonance. This material – culled from limited CD issues of the material on Tanaka’s Crescent label, Kazunao Nagata’s Transonic Records and self-released CDRs – presents a window into this process, illustrating how Inoue and Yamashita’s idiosyncratic musical identity gelled perfectly with all of the disparate environments of their commissions. Included is music written for the Kankaku (Sense) Museum in Miyagi, an exhibit on slime molds at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno park, the 1977 stage performance Collecting Net (which also included music that would later become Danzindan-Pojidon) and their score for a Tokyo re-staging of New York avant-theatre pioneer Richard Foreman’s post-modern stage piece Egyptology."
Marie Davidson and Pierre Guerineau’s Essai Pas do hi-impact EBM/trance with a lustrous twist of Euro epicness
‘Earth’ rolls sleek and powerful with adrenalised bass arps and silver-skied synths topped by Marie and Pierre’s perfectly measured vox, whereas ‘Corps Étranger’ yokes back to more furtive electro scenes as the mission starts to unravel, and Passarani is dialled in for back-up with a HiNRG remix of ‘Earth’ that reeks of meph and sweat and pine car freshner.
The fabled, previously unreleased Mad Professor dubs of ’Mezzanine’ land with finest style and keeling doses of nostalgia to mark the 20th anniversary of Massive Attack’s late ‘90s trip hop classic
Following in the vein of Mad Professor’s legendary ‘No Protection’ - his ’95 dub version of Massive Attack’s 2nd side ‘Protection’ - the echo chamber king radically reframes six cuts from the lustrous gothic dub of ‘Mezzanine’ in a purely smoked out style, alongside his re-do’s of the rarer ‘Wire’ and ’Superpredators’. For a generation who spent their formative years with ‘Mezzanine’ in the background, it’s a heavily satisfying bout of nostalgia as temporal sickness, pulling heads of an age back to a time that only seems like it was yesterday.
This pair of ears were probably starting to study for GCSEs when ‘Mezzanine’ dominated our late night listening in ’98 (off a Thai bootleg tape copy, lol), and while the album does feel a little cheesy when we return to it nowadays, it’s surely left an indelible mark on our listening life. Like many others, we were also enamoured with ‘No Protection’ back then, and always wondered what a proper dub gutting of ’Mezzanine’ might sound like, until now.
In key with the OG LP, the mood is arguably much starker and more gothic than the lush precedents set by Mad Professor’s ‘No Protection’. The likes of ‘Angel (Angel Dust)’ are huffed-up in a bittersweet bubbling style, and ‘Teardrop (Mazaruni Dub One)’ is eased off but still retains enough of Liz Fraser’s vocal and the harpsichord to send shivers down the spine. Likewise, the ‘Risingson (Setting Sun Dub Two)’ sounds achingly brilliant reset in a swarm of duppied FX, and ‘Group Four (Security Forces Dub)’ steps the finest line of paranoid pre-millennial tension.
Necessary, expanded, first time edition of Badalamenti & Lynch’s seminal soundtrack to Twin Peaks Season 2...
We’d probably be preaching to the choir if we stressed just how important this music has been to popular culture over the last 30 years, so we’ll suffice it to say the pressing is excellent - very little surface noise and beautifully mastered by Bernie Grundman (former Chief Mastering Engineer at A&M) - and the 16-page booklet of photos is lovely to have to the hand.
Moor Mother heralds her 4th and strongest solo LP with ‘The Myth Hold Weight’, a preparatory EP including Saul Williams on one of four album highlights
On ’The Myth Hold Weight’ Moor Mother holds the listener’s gaze to the fact the western world is largely built on slave-made cotton and sugar - hardly more apparent in Manchester, aka Cottonopolis, or Liverpool and Glasgow’s Tate & Lyle links - over subtly affective ambient backdrop, while ‘Mother’s Clock’ is a a short sharp shock of puckered electronics and tribal drum drive, then ‘Black Flight;’ catches her slugging out a Suicide-esque dancefloor rattler accentuated with pointed rap and countered by ice cool verse from Saul Williams, before ‘After Images’ hits hardest with a JK Flesh-like slice of mentasm-laced, hardcore blues rave stomp.
Hutchins puckers up a mix of melancholy electronica and effortless, rolling club rhythms in a follow-up to his UIQ 12”, Dale Cornish split, and the inverted dance music of ‘Clubeighteen2thirty’
Playing up to his bittersweet side, the tracks increase in literal and metaphoric optimism between the deep blue swang of ‘(Can’t) Find Love in the Club’, the looser whirr and curious party parry of ‘(Won’t) Find Love in the Club’, and, ultimately, the search ’n screw mode of ‘(Let’s) Find Love in the Club.’
Debut turn of shadow-dancing tribal grooves and hypnotic electronics from J. Chrysalis for the UK’s globe-trotting Blank Mind label
Both touted by Ben UFO on his Rinse show, ‘A Kind Robin’ syncs dusty, hiccuping drums and avian lead with a tight, in-the-pocket hustle and slow building arrangement that sounds like Joe meets Carl Craig, whereas ‘Latent Space’ turns cues from Durban Gqom into a sort of psychedelic stroller that swaps Gqom’s dark energy for something more limpid and dreamy.