Sähkö are keeping schtum about this ace enigma from “an experimental artist willing to stay anonymous on this project”, although they do mention a likeness to Nurse With Wound, Hafler Trio, Zoviet*France…
Presented under the low key moniker, …, ‘No Title’ sounds like a night in an abandoned wooden cabin in the arctic circle with CM Von Hausswolff, and only a reel to reel and a broken radio for company. Left to your devices and each other, the result is séance-like and utterly captivating, metaphorically leaving listeners in the dark surrounded by spirits that speak like the wind thru cracked windowpanes.
In the first part, any dilettantes will be scared off by the introductory 6 minutes of crackling static and looming low register tones, but those who see it thru will be subsequently immersed in doom sonic worth of Helge Sten’s Deathprod, CMvH, or Mika Vainio at his bleakest, before the piece peels away into puristic sines recalling Eleh or Eliane Radigue’s fluctuating partials as much as The Conet project.
Ultimately, the trip ends with the respite of human voices, although we’re not sure whether we were hiding from them in the first place or are welcome to hear them, as they remain at a distance, intangibly muffled and outta reach.
Our money’s on Kevin Drumm, but your guess is as good as ours.
Curdled avant-pop from Joe Snape featuring a cast of intriguing players, making a return to Slip with a curious embrace of saccharine American indie-pop flavours, inspired by a stint in the USA that didn’t go too well. It’s shiny and smiley on the surface, but with a gritted teeth/teeth-gritting effect under the surface - highly recommended if yr into Kim Hiorthoy, Tunng, Múm...
‘Joyrobix’ is Brummy-abroad Joe Snape’s flooring return to Slip: a songbook of nimble, aching pop that wrings raggedy solace from dejection and displacement. Begun as a danceable refix of pieces for chamber ensemble toured the last three years, production on ‘Joyrobix’ stalled sharply in 2016. Instead of a self-confident exercise in documentation, the record twisted into a darker, more lyrical original: a period portrait of dislocation and burnout following Snape’s move to the US in 2015.
There’s still plenty of fun to be had. Between the adult contemporary guitars, gospel grooves, and Broadway melisma, the tropes of a musical America are present, correct, and indefatigably uptempo.
But even at his most playful, Snape sounds like a musical mind running on fumes, the optimistic experimentalism of 2015’s ‘Brittle Love’ audible only through a weary cloud, and the black dog never altogether quieted. Nor could it be: ‘Joyrobix’ sounds like a working-out – here manic, there taciturn – of a New World dream gone sideways.
Featuring Jesse Chevan on drums, Will Gardner on saxophone, Suze Whaites on oboe, J, Louise Snape on cornet, Owen Roberts on bass clarinet, Weston Olencki on trombone plus Laurie Tompkins and Suze Whaites on vocals.
Montreal cellist and composer Justin Wright makes a memorable first impression with debut solo suite ‘Music For Staying Warm’, playing to the full spectrum of his sound ranging from improvisations to “drone” works and more “composed” pieces, all tied by a sensitive and calming soulful touch. Recorded with a quartet of violin, viola, cello and double bass in the Rocky Mountains, and cinematically sounds like it
“"Music For Staying Warm began when I was tasked with writing and performing a set of string works for a relaxation room at a chaotic all-night event in the heart of Montreal winter. It was a cold winter, and for me, a cold year, and when a cat curled up at my feet in the middle of performing these works, I felt like I was doing something right. After gradually developing these ideas many months after the first performances, I recorded most of this album during a residency at the Banff centre for the Arts, coinciding with a surprise visit from my long-time collaborator Kate Maloney.
What all of these tracks have in common, aside from being limited to string instruments, is an intention for you to relinquish your sense of anticipation. Conceptually, they were heavily inspired by particular styles of Ethiopian music such as the tizita, which often lacks any resolving cadences to leave you with it’s trademark evocation of longing without resolution.
So I guess there is a certain amount of irony in the name Music for Staying Warm. Drone III definitely isn’t warm. But refuge is just as often acceptance of where you are as it is an escape, and I hope that, whatever I was thinking when I wrote this music, you are able to contextualise it in your own life and find your own meaning."
Girl Unit delivers a ravishing debut album in ‘Song Feel’ for Night Slugs nearly 10 years since he debuted with ‘I.R.L EP’ on the pivotal London label.
Save for a couple of compilation cuts, Girl Unit’s been noticeably quiet the last few years, but ‘Song Feel’ makes up for lost time with some of his slickest chops, full of air-brushed R&B vocals and exacting feminine pressure emphasised by guest appearances from Kelela, Taliwhoah, Thast and Ms. Boogie.
Running thru ‘Song Feel’ you get the distinct impression this is the record Girl Unit has always wanted to make. From the sweetly polarised versions of ‘WYWD’ feat. Kelela in R&B and house mixes that bookend the set, thru the lush ’90s-style swerve of ’Stuck’, to the direct rudeness of ‘Pull Up’, the chart-ready brim of ’24 Hours’ and his rolling raver ‘Pure Gold’, Girl Unit plays to the full spectrum of his abilities in hyper colourful, rude and rugged style bound to resonate with heads on both sides of the Atlantic.
Breakcore hero/weirdo Bogdan Raczynski coughs up his first LP in over a decade with ‘Rave Til You Cry’ for Disciples, following their two Black Lodge releases.
Back in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Bogdan was a staple of the drill ’n bass scene, one a number of artists using tracker software to make the fastest, wildest breakbeats after D&B peaked and went pure neuro 2-step. He was also, and presumably still is, very fucking tall.
Many years later, he’s hardly changed, as ‘Rave ’Til You Cry’ catches him in gymnastic form across 18 tracks of kinetic rhythms and strange electronic atmospheres comparable with a fusion of Aleksi Perälä’s odd tunings and Christoph De Babylon’s brittle jungle styles.
Late ‘90s/early ‘00s style hip hop meets ‘80s Turkish film soundtrack samples and gritty Turkish rap.
“A side captivates by its voracity. Hi-tech and fierce beats drop with the sharp voice and flow of Ethnique Punch, delivering 14 – yes, f-o-u-r-t-e-e-n – short and punchy tracks. The diggin’ liveliness of Grup Ses is well present in the samples used, manufacturing beats that serve well the fast paced and nocturnal voice of Ethnique Punch. The first part of “Deli Divan” is pretty much a straight story. A good one.
But then comes the surprise. The other side. The same fourteen tracks without voice, just the beats. And here “Deli Divan” tells a completely different story. It loses the emergency, darkness and robustness of the A side, specially because the beats float on a limbo without a voice. But that limbo reveals the straightforwardness of the beats created by Grup Ses for this record. There’s a hidden narrative here, without the voice the short tracks connect like an outer world radio broadcast. But there’s no narrator. Just time-travelling beats that interlink past, present and future, synthetizing complex ideas in short bursts of 1 or 2 minutes. Delight it is.”
Impeccably slunky, slow and sexy ambient dance turns from Philipp Otterbach, an OG Salon Des Amateurs resident and co-organizer of the Substance club nights with Vladimir Ivkovic
Drawing upon decades of experience DJing between Düsseldorf and Berlin, Otterbach paints a singular worldview of dance music in ‘The Rest Is Bliss’ for Amsterdam’s Knekelhuis. Teasing the senses with fragrant traces of exotica in his opening ‘Interlude’, the trip soon becomes more ambiguously seductive/menacing with the hard-to-resist, insectoid syncopation and sci-fi sound design of ‘Dark Side of the Møn’ - those subs are proper! - before ‘The Weak Song’ turns another sharp corner into a strange ambient acidic dramaturgy pairing an enigmatic, lamenting female vocal with yearning 303 plongs and offworld electronics to totally beguiling degrees. Following this slow, mazy logic, the two parts of ‘The Roamer’ see us out in low key, shadowy style with thicc subs and stealthy, noirish gestures worthy of Bohren Und Der Club of Gore or Portishead in the first part precipitating a deliciously glassy, sparse closer recalling moments of Diego Herera’s ace SK U Kno LP.
'Signals Bulletin' is the new album from Jan Jelinek, made in collaboration with Japanese organist Asuna aka Naoyuki Arashi. It’s vintage Jelinek; immersive scapes fizzing with colour, anchored by determined organ drones, primed for achieving bliissful, contemplative equilibrium.
"Watching the Japanese sound artist Asuna playing the organ, some people might be surprised. Asuna is no virtuoso flying over the keyboard in a rage. Instead, with the calm gestures of an office worker, he cuts strips of adhesive tape to the correct length before sticking them onto the keys of his instrument. In this way, large clusters of keys are held down, creating a dense and sustained range of frequencies, while the sound artist continually prepares further sets of keys or removes tape again. I have rarely seen a more convincing performance concept, with such a power to fascinate.
I first met Asuna when we both gave a concert at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, his home city. He performed the organ drones as described above and I immediately knew I wanted to collaborate with him. Six years and five meetings later, we completed 'Signals Bulletin'. The album includes both joint improvisations and compositions, recorded in Berlin, Kanazawa and Kyoto.
Whether using prepared organ, Casio keyboards or mechanical plastic toys, Asuna creates rich textures of sound that barely change over long stretches of time. It is a music without breaks. For a while, I was unsure how my loops made using modular synthesizers and live sampling fitted here – until I realized the role I had to take in this duet: I would provide the rhythmically pulsating foundation over which his dense continuums could unfold.
The result is harmonically drifting superclusters that put us into a meditation-like state. It can perhaps be compared to Automatic Writing – a mode of creative expression floating somewhere between concentration and distraction. Both the structure of our pieces and our approach to our instruments allow a similar “absence”: we let the machines play and repeat themselves – while we, in a mild form of trance, adopt the role of observers, intervening only occasionally.
It is no coincidence that Asuna owns a collection of Doodle Art – drawings jotted down during conversations or while talking on the phone. It is said that works made like this point to the unconscious and reveal pet motifs – because a doodler always inadvertently returns to his or her favourite themes. The artwork for Signals Bulletin features pictures from the collection, in this case sheets of paper from the pads provided in stationery shops to test out pens. The special quality of such doodles is that the jumble of drawings is the work of a collective whose individual members do not know each other. Layer by layer is added, by someone different each time – until it becomes a dense cluster of lines and symbols ..."
Jan Jelinek, Berlin 2018
Hyperdub’s Danielle Mana really comes into his own with the illusive animations of ‘Seven Steps Behind’, his debut LP and 2nd release under his own name, following years of work as Vaghe Stelle, and alongside Lorenzo Senni in One Circle
Twisting synthetic instruments to resemble semi-acoustic, chamber-like abstractions of grime and deconstructed club musics, Mana’s music now, more than ever, possesses an expressive electronic quality perhaps best compared with the work of Arca, or his former collaborator Lorenzo Senni.
From the proggy trance hymn ‘Myopia For The Future’ to the autotuned avant-synthpop of ’Soaking In Water’ Mana distinguishes his sound from the hyper-contemporary fields with big highlights such as the queasy, weightless R&B of ‘Talking / Choking’, and utterly unique pieces like the unpredictably morphing ‘Swordsmanship’, and the chromatic nose-drip reggaeton of ’Solo’. For our money it’s one of the stranger, more fascinating Hyperdub album in recent memory.
Ambitions is Prins Thomas’ 6th album and his second solo album for Smalltown Supersound (plus two duo albums with Bjørn Torske and Bugge Wesseltoft).
"Ambitions picks up from were he left off with Principe Del Norte. Still ambitious, but the tracks are shorter, more melodic and more concise. Prins Thomas also offers up his first vocal track, lead single "Feel A Love." Or to be precise, it's based around a sample of the track "Feel A Love" by one of the biggest pop-stars in Norway in the 70s and 80s, the late Alex (Naumik).
”The sun rises, the sun sets. This collection of new songs wasn't intended as an album at first. It gathers up loose ideas sketched down on my computer or hummed into my handheld recorder in the last 2 years with a shifting work environment, from hotel rooms in San Francisco, backstage in Osaka, on a plane from Miami to Chicago, my garden patio, and finally my B15 Studios in Asker.
The common thread was found later during overdubbing and reworking these sketches under the critical ears of label boss Joakim Haugland. Most of the tracks were finalized in the studio at the same time as my previous collaborative album with Bugge Wesseltoft. Bugge even kindly joins in on the album's closing track "Sakral".
Ambitions is my 6th album and I would like to thank the following people for their direct inspiration: Jon Christensen, Jaki Liebezeit, Haroumi Hosono, Daniel Lanois, Eberhard Weber, Shinichi Atobe and Ricardo Villalobos."
Prins Thomas, February 2019
IDM/electronica-geared techno, grime, and futurist hardcore with ADD composerly tendencies
“Xao returns to Astral Black with his new eight-track LP, Eternal Care Unit. Created after relocating to Germany and distanced from the UK sounds and scenes that had influenced his previous work, ECU sees Xao further explore the ethereal futurism displayed on 2017's Alloys EP. In keeping with the title (Eternal Care Unit is a medical slang term for the morgue), the release soundtracks the transcendental shift from the physical to the spiritual realm.
Over the course of the record's thirty minute running time, Xao traverses through the hauntingly beautiful soundscapes of tracks like the opening 'Embryno' to the sonic brutalism of 'Corvid Tendencies' and 'Vent Jockey', interspersed with the driving off-kilter rhythms found on the likes of 'Bernet Franca' and 'Blades//Savants’.”
Written over the course of a solitary Sunday afternoon in East London, ‘Alone’ is a sad record of life in that city, channelled by someone who was clearly affected by the misery and chaos and being surrounded by too many arseholes.
Abul Mogard's first new solo album since 2015’s ‘Circular Forms’, a staggering suite of widescreen landscapes painted in self-built modular synth strokes. Hugely recommended if you're into Alessandro Cortini, early OPN, Coil, Brian Eno...
Above All Dreams is Abul Mogard’s beautifully absorbing new album for Ecstatic, deploying six longform pieces for the most expansive solo release by Mogard to date. Taking into account its intangible divinity and cinematic quality - the result of no less than three years diligent work - it is arguably elevated to the level of his master opus; presenting a modular distillation of Mogard’s most intoxicating strain of hauntology.
Consistent with Mogard’s music since the sought-after VCO tapes c. 2012-2013, the allure to Above All Dreams lies in his ability to evoke and render feelings which are perhaps purposefully avoided in more academic echelons of drone music. Rather than a purist expression of physics thru maths and geometry, Mogard voices his soul, improvising on modular synth for hours, days, months and years in the same way a more conventional “band” develops group intuition.
While hands-on, the intuitive evolution of process locates a newfound freedom in his music that implies a recognition of the metaphysical or post-physical, while Mogard explicitly points to influence from the Brazilian music of Tom Zé, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Chico Buarque, whose approach to shape and density, or perceptions of light and delicacy, also go some way to explaining the ephemeral intangibility of Above All Dreams.
The results are best considered as the ephemera of non-verbal communications. From the gaseous bloom of Quiet Dreams to the opiated depth of Where Not Even to the starlit awn of Upon The Smallish Circulation, and through the B-side’s keeling, 16 minute+ panoramas of Above All Dreams and The Roof Falls, the power of Abul Mogard’s dreams above all transcends sound, feeling and physics in a truly remarkable way that evades words or concrete notation.
Normal Brain’s near-impossible to find Japanese minimal wave obscurity, remastered and reissued for the first time.
“WRWTFWW Records is immensely happy to announce the reissue of impossible-to-find cult album Lady Maid by Japanese outfit Normal Brain, available on vinyl, digipack CD, cassette, and digital, with liner notes by acclaimed sound artist and mastermind behind the project, Yukio Fujimoto.
Originally released in 1981 as a limited vinyl pressing of 300 copies on Agi Yuzuru’s fabled experimental label Vanity Records (R.N.A. Organism, Dada, Sympathy Nervous, Tolerance…), Lady Maid is a testament to the creativity of the early 80s’ Japanese electronic and experimental scene, encapsulating a prolific era when audio gear became affordable for musicians to explore sounds in the comfort of their home, free from studio time pressure and major label rules.
Entirely imagined and brought to life by an inspired Yukio Fujimoto, the 6-track opus was conceived with a Korg MS-20, a Korg SQ-10, a Boss Dr. Rhythm DR-55, and…a Texas Instruments Speak & Spell! It’s elegantly minimalist, honest and witty, very playful, cleverly pop, and downright fascinating. The a-side captures the fun side of avant-garde electronica, lo-fi wave, proto-glitch, and IDM, a joyful ride beautifully interrupted by the cinematic mood switch of the b-side - a 20 minute ambient piece flirting with sci-fi, melancholy, and hints of metallic darkness. Unclassifiable and marvelous!”
One of this century’s first true modern classics, this 2004 album from Supersilent member and experimental shakuhachi-style trumpet player Arve Henriksen has long been a reference points for Jazz music of the most quietly absorbing variety, containing what must surely rank as one of the most beautiful opening tracks of any album in recent memory...
We’re not sure what took them so long, but Rune Grammofon finally get around to pressing Arve Henriksen’s Chiaroscuro  on wax, rendering its sublime, otherworldly, etheric appeal on the format most befitting of its classic status. Replete with the breathtaking Opening Image and that beautiful cover art now blown up to 12”x 12”, this gorgeous record is quietly awaiting a slot in any and all collections of contemporary ambient, classical composition.
Originally released on CD as the second solo album by virtuoso Norwegian trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist, Henriksen - who was by then already esteemed on the jazz and classical circuit and for his work with the Supersilent ensemble alongside Helge Sten (Deathprod, who also mastered this LP) - this album deeply perfused and coloured the listening lives of ourselves and many, many others with an enchanted breeze of flyaway vocals, trumpet and percussion diffused with a sublime butterfly effect of electro-acoustic process.
"Chiaroscuro" ("light and shade") is quite an unbelievable listen - cinematic in a way that defies pastiche, a vast panoramic ocean of sound reduced to the most silent, heart-wrenching string arrangements, samples (courtesy of Jan Bang) and a whispered sweep of barely audible percussion (from Audun Kleive), hovering around Henriksen unique, mesmerising trumpet playing and broken voice.
Its incredibly gentle, diaphanous arrangements would, pretty understandably, end up licensed for TV and film, which is where many would have osmotically absorbed the likes of Opening Image without having a clue who made it. For us, it was a staple in our old shop, Pelicanneck [1998-2007] and therefore instantly redolent of the smell of fresh coffee and waffles and Carol Batton poetry. Over ten years later it still has that faintly nostalgic effect, but more in the comforting way of a ubiquitous classic which, no matter your exposure to it, will always hold a special place in your heart.
Alvin Curran’s outstanding mesh of soaring vocals, swooping subbass and glancing percussion in ‘Cante E Vedute Del Giardino Magnetico’  arrives as part of Superior Viaduct’s indispensable, educational reissue series for its first vinyl reissue since 1981. Bravo, SP. This is blowing our minds right now!
“American composer and multi-instrumentalist Alvin Curran has remained one of the great emblems of experimental music for the last half-century. In 1966, along with Frederic Rzewski and Richard Teitelbaum, Curran co-founded Musica Elettronica Viva, a seminal gesture in collective free improvisation. In the early '70s, his solo work would become a crucial bridge between minimalist traditions on both sides of the Atlantic.
Canti E Vedute Del Giardino Magnetico, Curran's solo debut, was recorded by the artist himself and issued on Ananda, the small Italian imprint started by Curran and fellow composers Giacinto Scelsi and Roberto Laneri. The piece itself was put together in the winter of 1973 and presented for the first time at Teatro Beat 72 (Rome's The Kitchen).
Encouraged by the work of Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Charlemagne Palestine and Simone Forti, Curran binds the listener to aberrant notions of place and time: blending field recordings (wind, high-tension wires, beach waves, etc.) with simple and often primitive instruments. Across two sidelong tracks, Giardino Magnetico forms a lyrical collage of synthesizer, glass and metal chimes, plastic tubes, brass and the composer's alluring voice – converging in an immersive realm of Curran’s inner / outer experiences.
This first-time vinyl reissue is recommended for fans of Harry Bertoia, Michel Redolfi and Lino Capra Vaccina.”
Magisterial, glacial, attention-demanding and powerful exposition of Buchla 200 synth tones mapped to acoustic woodwind and brass by a promising young composer; Stockholm’s Kali Malone. A strong tip to fans of work by Caterina Barbieri, Emptyset, Sarah Davachi.
Arriving in the resonating wake of her self-released solo début Velocity of Sleep , and flanked by the recently issued Organ Dirges 2016-2017 tape for Ascetic House, the Cast Of Mind LP gently but grandly expands the constellation of Kali Malone's solo releases, next to her Upper Glossa collaborations with Caterina Barbieri, a tape with Ellen Akrbro, and acclaimed live performances.
Joined by Yoann Durant (Alto Sax), Isak Hedtjärn (Bass Clarinet), Gabriella Varga Kalsson (Bassoon), and Mats Äleklint (Trombone), Kali’s Buchla 200 Synthesiser forms the basis for a quartet of diaphanous and slowly unfolding electro-acoustic landscapes that externalise a highly personalised form of emotive topography.
In the titular opener, wood and brass trace the swooning ellipses of Kali’s Buchla contours in stately procession suggesting a sort of resigned march to battle, before the Buchla appears to dominate in the warped streaks of Bondage To Formula, but listen closer and it’s harder to tell whether it’s electronic or organic sources so fully lending flesh to her rich sound field.
The answer to that question is much clearer in Arched To Hysteria, whose keening, hunched electronic forces hold powerful potential to conversely induce paranoia and heavily hypnagogic effects, whilst Empty The Belief yields a lustrous, Raga-like drone capturing a marriage of Buchla and bassoon at their most transcendent and steeply attractive.
This one should be filed for reference and safekeeping beside recent transmissions from Sarah Davachi, Anna Von Hausswolff, and Catarina Barbieri = properly good.
Ecstatic finally issue Abul Mogard's modular landscape paintings on 'Circular Forms'.
Unfolding through a 40 minute synthesiser suite in four parts, 'Circular Forms' is one of the most captivating examples of Mogard's deeply evocative music, drawing out a sort of direct emotional quality from his limited set-up of Farfisa organs and a self-built modular system.
At this point his backstory bears repeating: Mogard worked in a Serbian factory for most of his life, and upon retirement began making synth music to remind him the harmonic buzz and drone of heavy machinery. Between 2012 - 2013 he issued his first works on tape thru Steve Moore's VCO Records, followed most recently by a gorgeous split vinyl for Emotional Response.
But this one for Ecstatic is our favourite yet, framing three misty-eyed visions with perfectly suited titles such as 'Slate-Coloured Storm' and 'Half Light of Dawn' on the front, backed with the 16 minutes of slow and tortuous valerian bliss of 'House of the River' on the back.
Seriously, don't sleep on this one until you've got it home.
10th of 10 x 10” specials from We Play House is a warm pair of deep swingers by time-served producer Padcal Garner aka Krewcial
Uptown you’ll cop the nagging piano chords, rich diva vocals and superbly padded subs of ‘Plaster’ built for warm-up fridays and goosed sunday afters, while downtown comes ruder, electroid, with burning mid-range lead roving around drier drums and grubby bass, but licked up with streaks of chromatic synth salvation.
Finally, Amnesia Scanner, Bill Kouligas and Harm Van Dorpel’s A/V project arrives in album form, taking in unspooled/unravelling mixtape fragments, generative avant-EDM and cyberdrone topographies inspired by NSFW imagery and extreme banality. If you were into Haswell & Hecker’s amazing ‘Blackest Ever Black (Electroacoustic UPIC Recordings), or generally fascinated by PAN's sprawling, multi-faceted interests, this incredible album really is a kind of encapsulation of that limitless world of sound...
Amnesia Scanner, Bill Kouligas and Harm Van Dorpel’s prism-collapsing, algorithmic A/V project ‘Lexachast’ becomes extruded polyvinyl flesh on their sickeningly strong debut for PAN. Conceived in 2015 as an improvised performance between Bill Kouligas and Amnesia Scanner at London’s ICA, ‘Lexachast’ was subsequently developed into an online A/V work with visual artist Harm Van Dorpel, and is here presented in its current, full-grown form - a flux of sonic references to the fallout of avant-EDM and cyberdrone, resembling a swan dive into the uncanny valley’s darkside.
In a bold synaesthetic dialogue, Kouligas and Amnesia Scanner sonically respond to a dense flux of NSFW and extremely banal images raked up from the Internet’s underbelly (Deviant Art and Flickr) and layered by Harm Van Dorpel’s ever-evolving, image-sourcing algorithm. Through this process, they effectively give voice to the images and their morphed meanings, mirroring their abstracted, warped content with a sonic vocabulary of hypermodern dance musick.
The results speak to humanity’s ever-changing relationship and un/familiarity with the Internet, and the way it mediates the self. Simultaneously drawing upon our darkest thoughts, our existential traumas and their prosaic settings, Lexachast is acutely symptomatic of our epoch - taking age old concerns about who we are and the limits of new technology. It’s not pretty, but it is utterly fascinating - like a car crash witnessed in slow motion.
Haunting, enlightening, spellbinding; ‘Bush Lady’ is the definitive musical opus by Alanis Obomsawin. A member of the Abenaki Nation and one of Canada’s most esteemed and decorated documentary filmmakers, Alanis recorded ‘Bush Lady’ for CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster, in 1985, but was unhappy with the lead song, ‘Bush Lady’. She re-recorded the song and self-released it as part of new edition, which the marvellous Constellation have now picked up for this reissue, some 33 tours later
Combining her knowledge of traditional Abenaki songs, learnt in her home community of Odanak, with lyrics in french and english, and more modernist arrangements drawing from jazz and classical, Bush Lady paints an engrossing and unforgettable portrait of the venerable singer, songwriter, and storyteller which has somehow managed to evade the attentions of reissuers until now.
The 2-part, 13 minute long opener Bush Lady, Pt.1 + II make a transfixing introduction with Alanis’ mix of traditional and modern vocals dancing free over a tumpin’ drum and expanded with searching fiddle that beautifully tails off with her vocals in the 2nd part. Meanwhile, Theo, Pt. I + II find Alanis singing/speaking in french over a central, steady drum motif joined by the kind of lush woodwind you might expect from a mid ‘80s CBC release (think BoC feels), while Odana reserves the album’s lushest arrangement till last, with Alanis in chanson mode against a fittingly plush, almost filmic backdrop of strings and wind, and Of the Earth and of the Sea remains a timelessly universal message.
We wager some ears are about to fall madly in love with this album…
Bokeh Versions bring freshest, weirdest dancehall to market with Sikka Rymes’ ‘Love Di People’ - a big BIG look for fans of Equiknoxx, Slikback, Vybz Kartel!!!
““Incarcerated deejay touts Sikka Rymes as next big thing in dancehall” say the Jamaica Star headlines; referencing Vybz Kartel and Sikka’s cousin Shawn Storm, all of Portmore’s Gaza Nation dancehall royalty………..
So then we have Love Di People EP: Sikka’s first solid gold release after strings of strictly Vevo hits (‘Life of the Party’, ‘Nuh Change’) lie between his previous hook up with producer Genesis Hull (on Duppy’s 2016 Fresh Clipp’d). Genesis’ prods are pure widescreeen sub-tension and speed - now of Mexico City, he carries Sikka’s flow into gleaming new future chrome jobs of the dancehall chassie, the madness of 00s dancehall returns for global review. In This Time Of Many Dancehall Think-pieces: Live Long And Grow Strong.
The weight of two year’s of Drive demos caused Miro Tape to spontaneously burst into the world on Bokeh last year, we told you it was just a mixtape - Love Di People is the first wax seal on the Bokeh x Duppy Gun relationship, and not the last one of 2019. Founded by Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras, Duppy Gun pairs under-cover West Coast producers with Jamaican vocalists like G Sudden, Early One & others from their island HQs in Portmore & Spanish Town.”
Deep, minimalist house hero LoSoul works his modest magic for Tokyo’s Mule Musiq
Leading on from last year’s ‘Island Time’ album, it’s his first 12” since 2016, but the formula remains resolutely in place, working out a supple tech-house groove with minimalist ingredients yet deeply romantic dancefloor spirit in the mesmerising hustle of ‘The Sentiment’, while ‘A Different Wave’ lends a little more gravity with rugged bass heft driving sizzling hi-hats and dubbed-out, deep acid house atmospheres.
Wheezing, light-heading krautrock flights from Seoul, S. Korea’s Tengger, arriving on their native Extra Noir a year since the label’s ace, eponymous comp which starred a peach by Cucina Povera
Tengger’s track on the ‘Extra Noir Vol.1’ set, ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’ gives a good indication of the mediative yet physical effect they pursue with the soaring designs of ’Spiritual’, coaxing an unidentified array of analog electronics and seemingly acoustic sounding drones (possibly a harmonium, shruti box?) , as well as vocals, into sustained drones and pulsing rhythms that seem to fly between the mountaintops of the Hindu Kush and original longhair retreats in the Alps.
Ecstatic offer a deeply arresting and definitive collection of Works by erstwhile Serbian factory worker-turned-synthesist Abul Mogard; containing selections from two cassettes released in 2012 and 2013 on Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra’s VCO Recordings, as well as a cassette only release last year on Ecstatic, never before available on vinyl. RIYL Alessandro Cortini, The Caretaker, Fennesz, Tangerine Dream, Brain Eno, Tim Hecker...
Abul Mogard’s relatively unusual path to releasing music is well documented, but bears repeating here. Upon taking retirement from a job at a factory which he held for decades, Mogard craved the mechanical noise and complex harmonics of the industrial workplace, and found that the best way to fulfil that need was through electronic music - using a limited set-up of Farfisa organs, voices, samplers and a self-built modular system to realise a peaceful yet haunting, sweetly coruscating sound that resonates uncommonly with music from Leyland Kirby to Alessandro Cortini, or Fennesz and Tim Hecker.
The nine tracks on Works are soused in an emotional richness that’s hard to forget once experienced. Broad daubs of distorted bass and naturally glorious harmonic progressions paint panoramas of wide open, grey-scaled skies whilst equally conveying the intimate feel of a person with their nose to the machine, toiling for a sound or feeling that really means something to them, and by turns, us.
The fact that Mogard hails from an area hardly well-known for its synth music, and that he’s of an age where most people take up gardening or lawn bowls, rather than synth music, only helps to aid the enigma and magick surrounding this remarkable artist and his layered, emotional music.
First ever reissue of this Spiritual Jazz holy grail, remastered from the original tapes.
"Although his albums are full of the same qualities as those of many other star saxophonists / flutists playing spiritual jazz, Frenchman Michel Roques is often classed as a "supporting artist" or a "musicians’ musician", forever in the background, and often left out of the reference books. Adding to this lack of recognition is the fact that Michel Roques was seriously under-recorded: five albums as leader in a career of almost twenty years does not amount to much! Thankfully, in 1972, Pierre Barouh, boss of Saravah, records made up for the injustice by offering him the opportunity to record ''Chorus'' in studio, providing a continuity with the equally brilliant ''Safari'' made four years earlier.
An ambitious work, ''Chorus'' owes much to the unusual ‘augmented’ rhythm section, the inner structure of which is none other than that used in the Parisian trio of pianist Mal Waldron at the end of the 1960s: namely Patrice Caratini on bass (completed by the cello of the amazing Jean-Charles Capon) and Franco Manzecchi on drums (seconded by the percussion of Humberto Canto). Another notable singularity is that Michel Roques had the excellent idea of excluding the piano, traditionally employed in this kind of context. This didn’t prevent ''Chorus'' from being played on French TV in 1973 with a piano replacing the cello, and a different voice reciting the beat-style poems of Nicole Roques, that of actor Jacques Degor, occasional collaborator with Jef Gilson but far less convincing than Bachir Touré, wisely chosen for this recording for his style inherited from Afro-American preachers and capable of holding his own with the wild improvisations. In its own way, ''Chorus'' is one of the key albums mixing free jazz and spoken word ‘à la française’. It is also a militant concept album which has lost nothing of its political force."
Kenyan and Egyptian musicians meets Düsseldorf’s downtempo expert Jan Schulte on a swingeing, grubbing percussive tip nodding to classic Wally Badarou and cosmic disco vibings
Up top on ‘Mabomba Dance’ they set sights on the horizon for a 15 minute trek hustling Kasiva Mutua’s percussion with acidic synth wiggle and Ahmed Omar’s panting vocal, before a creamy breakdown takes them into a lusher 2nd half lit up with arcing synth chorales.
Down under, they contract to a nattier groove built from Jaw Harp and loose drums and framing a low key vocal from Rapasa Nyatrapasa Otieno in ‘Ruoth Radido (Nyangile)’, before traditional Kenyan strings appear on the dusty shuffler ‘Moso Radido Wuod Ndege (Nyatiti)’, and they wrap up with the tightest mesh of clipped clave rhythms and Adel Mekha’s balmy, plangent Arabic vox.
Off civil duties, Beau Wanzer & Shawn O’Sullivan do rude and raw machine funk for The Trilogy Tapes
From ghetto-tech to kerb-crawling sleaze and nagging future primitivism, this one’s a strong payload. Up top they rev up the diesel-spitting Detroit funk of ‘Body Melts’ ready for some triplin’ action in-the-mix, whereas ‘Germ Identity’ does it slower, nastier on a snappy Pametex tip. Turn her over and they loosen up for the pendulous, blown-out drums and scurrying rhythms of ‘Pickle Eye’, and the wriggling, rusted chassis of ‘Metal Mouth Mob’ gets off on a rasping tribal buzz.
Veronica Vasicka’s curatorial sensibilities are at best on this compilation of Minimal Wave from around the world 1980-1991, collecting a range of material shared by a common purpose - music made in or for the bedroom. Features tracks by Unovidual, Autumn, Pink Elln, Karen Marks, Vorgruppe, Aural Indifference, Perfect Mother…
We’re instantly drawn to the blue, sluggish melancholy of Mensch Im Eis by Vorgruppe, taken from their 1982 7”, as well as the anaesthetising gauze of Iham/Echo’s exceptional Eagle , which could almost be a pre-echo of Teresa Winter, and likewise to Denial’s cover of California Dreaming, which could just as easily be a pre-echo of Carla Dal Forno, while those who like to dance when nobody’s watching will no doubt get along with Perfect Mother’s grinding Japanese EBM in dark-disco-da-da-da-da-run, and the Belgian reserve of Unovidual’s Dit Is Pas Het Begin.
Excellent, studiously well-crafted and addictive retro-vintage pop nodding to space-pop and gloomy soul in the style of Stereolab, Broadcast, Nico...
“Movies For Ears is a retrospective collection of works by Polish-born, Glasgow-based artist Ela Orleans which navigates almost two decades of songwriting in the heart of the global pop underground. This remastered collection casts an ear over what Orleans might call the ‘pop sensibility’ within her back catalogue. Released previously on a number of small DIY labels, Orleans’ music coincided with the explosion of auto-didactic musicians finding their voice in the age of the blogosphere, artists emboldened by the democratisation of music-making afforded by the internet.
From the outset, Orleans’ childhood studying formal music mixed with cut-up techniques, sampling, sound-art and experimentation to create a distinctive signature cloaked in an innate melancholy and playfulness. Fully remastered by James Plotkin, featuring extensive sleeve-notes and rare photos from Orleans’ archive, Movies For Ears presents an appraisal of the musician’s work, painting a portrait of an artist with an uncanny ability to evoke emotions and ghosts of memories in the listener.”
Another Drexciyan evergreen comes up for air on reissue, packing some of their deadliest electro-techno missiles, bar none
Of course, we’re mainly talking about the immense title tune, ‘Digital Tsunami’, which is also found opening the seminal ‘Harnessed The Strom’ album. It’s a never-bettered archetype of Detroit electro-techno bristling with electric blue energy and Afro-futurist Detroit soul, driven by spine-tracing arps and uniquely evolved electro-techno DNA. The others are class too, including the wonky, prophetic sci-fi electro minimalism of ‘Aquatic Cataclysm’, the highly attuned electro-funk of ‘The Plankton Organisation’ and the blissed-out, wavey beauty ‘Birth Of New Life’.
Juju & Jordash hit the tiles with 2nd volume of their “No fuss DJ/dancer friendly” series
Up top there’s a percolated disco bubbler named ‘Flashback Slack’ and the flanging techno trip ‘Spooky Rhodes Slack’, while the flipside comes faster with the effortless juke flow and nose-drip synth tang of ‘Jupiter Slack’ and a skippy minter called ‘Heavy Swing Slack’.
The Movement box set includes the vinyl LP with its original iconic sleeve designed by Peter Saville, original album CD in replica mini album sleeve, a bonus CD of previously unreleased tracks, DVD of live shows and TV appearances plus hard backed book all housed in a lift off lid box.
"Out of the ashes of Joy Division, the remaining members decided to carry on recording under the name of New Order. The band’s debut album Movement recorded between 24th April to the 4th May 1981 at Strawberry in Stockport and featuring all new material, produced by Martin Hannett was released in 11th November 1981 on Factory Records. The vinyl LP of the original album is cut on 180g and features the 2015 remastered audio, presented in a replica of the original sleeve.
The second CD includes 18 completely unreleased tracks made from Demos, Sessions, Rehearsal Recordings and an Alternative 7” version of Temptation
Accompanying the set is a 48page hard back book which features photos and an essay"
Spellbinding harmonic ambient developments from Spanish new age pioneer and soundtrack composer Suso Sáiz, making his 2nd original outing on MFM after ‘Rainworms’ LP and ‘Odisea’ compilation. A must for Eno disciples!
Anaesthetising, effortlessly sublime, the shape and feel of ‘Nothing Is Objective’ is beautifully limned in the cover art, where smudged hues of peach, pink and grey-blue keen out of centre and off the page, seeping out of the edges into space. Sáiz’s music moves just like this, conjuring borderless frames painted with gas-like tones that offer a broad detail on lushly widescreen, cosmic spaces and events. This record is the equivalent of a vast, perfect utopia where the ideas of vulnerability and friction can’t even be conceived...
A crucial Drexicya project comes back around on remastered 12” blessed with some of James Stinson’s heaviest basslines
First served on Tresor’s Supremat sublabel in 2001 and now given cat#Tresor.271, this 12” was a stone-cold warm-up for the killer LP ‘The Opening of the Cerebral Gate’. It opens with the moody, acidic electro squelch of ‘Power of the 3rd Brain’ and only gets stronger therein with chest-rattling subbass shockwaves and subaquatic pressure of ‘Disrupted Neural Gateway’, and another untypical streamlined winner named ‘Do You Want To Get Down?’, squaring up mad, slyding squares with zig-zagging synths and sparingly used vocals in one of oddest Drexicya grooves out there.
Floating Points drops his astral disco roller 'Peoples Potential' backed with the uptempo electro-jazz of 'Shark Chase' for all the beat fiends.
The A-side has already been deployed over the previous months by sure hands from Gilles Peterson to Four Tet but the effect of heavenly harmonised contours and simple but irrefutably funked percussion certainly hasn't worn off yet.
The flipside 'Shark Chase' concentrates on the Detroit/Jazzwise end of his ouevre, using rough padded kicks a la Theo Parrish with wandering keys and a swollen electro-etched bassline to make his own mark on the style. The effect is something like Omar-S jamming with The Tribe round at C2's pad, and just as cool as you'd imagine.
Philip Glass’ previously unreleased, 1975 performance of ‘Music In Twelve Parts’ is the latest archival excavation on Paris-based Transversales Disques, the label run by the GRM’s Jonathan Fitoussi.
Performed by Philip Glass with Jon Gibson, Dickie Landry, Michael Riesman, Joan La Barbera and Richard Peck, it's one of the earliest iterations of ‘Music In Twelve Parts’, which would be fully issued the following year, 1976, to become one of Glass’ best known and loved works. Placing the previously issued Parts 1 & 2 on side A, the never-before released parts 11, 3, and 12 are cut to sides B & C, finding the piece reeling off into breathtaking chromatic dervishes and ecstatic minimalism with a truly head-spinning lushness, especially in the stunning murmurations of Part 12.
Side D is effectively a piece in its own right. Recorded for french radio by Daniel Caux - musicologist and co-founder of Shandar Records - Glass speaks in french over recordings of the rehearsals for ‘Music In Twelve Parts’, held in his NYC loft. Together with the scream of sirens, it gives some fascinating context for the piece (even if you don’t parlez francais) as it inherently highlights link between the colours of the sirens and the music which we may not have gauged otherwise.
Dungeon Acid injects psychedelic vapours into steely Detroit-inspired acid/techno on his long awaited debut album proper, recorded and edited between 2010-2019 for his pals and admirers at Ideal Recordings. RIYL Underground Resistance / Börft!
Dungeon Acid has become the most vital of drummer and producer Jean-Louis Huhta’s many projects, following a musical arc since the ‘80s which has seen him variously play with crust punk group Anti Cimex (and tour the UK alongside Napalm Death in a van with no seats), become a member of cult Swedish rave band Lucky People Centre, play ritual rock tribalism with The Skull Defekts, and duel with electro-acoustic heavyweights such as Zbigniew Karkowski and CM Von Hausswolff.
Yet for all his stylistic versatility, Huhta’s heart has consistently been found in tough, driving and psychedelic strains of house and techno indebted to Detroit since the ‘90s - eventually ending up on Detroit’s influential FIT sound imprint last year. This inspiration comes out in unexpected ways across his first Dungeon Acid album proper; working within this square but malleable meter via persistently detailed tweaks and hypnotically layered productions, where he’s unafraid to push into the red or lower the tempo and croon like a shaman conducting ancient rites.
In 9 parts he effectively joins the dots between the psychy, punkish dance trax of Börft Records and the Motor City mechanics of Underground Resistance, generating a singular, machine-borne but organic flow with big highlights between jelly-limbed acid opening, through to steely warehouse hammers, a slow and skudgy hymn to nose drip dynamics, and two belting barrels of warped Biker Bar funk that would surely make the grade in the 313 any time between the early ‘90s and now.
Dungeon Acid is brilliant testament to the art of marrying mutually exclusive bedfellows as much as it is a masterclass in dare-to-be-different house and techno, all done with hard-won skills, natural personality and warmth, with history and future at the front of the mind.
Stunning, previously unheard chapter in the saga of Igor Wakhevitch, a close peer and associate of everyone from Pierre Henry to Yves Saint-Laurent and Pink Floyd, one of the first composers of his generation to make use of Moog, Synthi AKS and ARP synthesizers. responsible for some of the most remarkable synth music known to humankind.
Among the key, pioneering ‘70s artists who brought an epic sense of poetry to the language of avant-garde synth and concrete music which emerged in the ‘60s, Wakhevitch is hailed as a cult figure for his string of classic albums including ‘Logos’, ‘Docteur Faust’, and ‘Let’s Start’ between 1970-1979, as well as production for Terry Riley, and on Salvador Dalí’s opera, ‘Être Dieu’ (‘To Be God’). Most beautifully, he opened up synth music’s 3rd eye to heavy inspiration from Hindu classical music and schools of thought, leading him to spend 30 years in India prior to the construction of this, a masterful chapter in his visionary canon.
‘Kshatyra [The Eye of the Bird]’ is a remarkable, much later work, recorded in the late 90’s on Wakhevitch’s custom Mysterious Island 88 system, and later edited for this release last year. It came to Wakhevitch as a means of mediating and reconciling his ontology (the grandson to victims of the Shoah) and his knowledge of Hindu symbolism, making use of ancient Indian classical modes and the Far Eastern-influenced styles of Jean Claude-Eloy, consistently conjuring heady modes of listening, hypnotic and transcendent, that subliminally yet potently light up the subconscious.
In eight parts he navigates a journey from celestial melody through spirit-engulfing, widescreen black hole synth dimensions and glistening visions of the sublime, before seeming to collapse the firmament into the earth and vice-versa in the chapter’s glorious, durational finale brimming with elegiac church bells, sky-scorching synths and deep abstractions.
Long a cult figure to diggers and listeners in the know, the praise and admiration for Wakhevitch’s music (by everyone from Demdike Stare to Andy Votel and the GRM’s Jonathan Fitoussi) is proportionally inverse to the availability of his music, which remains all too hard to come by. This new album is crucial as a portal to worlds unheard, and a startling introduction for many to one of the most quietly important figures in electronic music.
Recently voted one of the Top 100 British Albums of all time...
So why should you want this 1969 album in your collection? Well in addition to featuring the likes of Robert Kirby (of Nick Drake fame), Robin Williamson (Incredible String Band) and the Fairport Convention's Simon Nicol and Dave Swarbrick, it is also regularly cited as inspiration by Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom and Scout Nibblet...
Possibly sounding a bit naïve in retrospect, much of 'Just Another Diamond Day' seems to exist somewhere between the Wickerman and Bagpuss, with lyrics like "the rainbow river is a laughing stream, down in a valley by a mountain that is pine tree tall...".
After crafting one of the most enduring albums of the last few years with 2008's 'Hazyville', Actress sets his sights on the future with a crucial debut for Honest Jon's.
Wheras it's predecessor was composed over a staggered period of many, many years, this album was fashioned in a fraction of that time, lending a tangible symmetry between these shapeshifting tracks that's as loose as it is detached from the rest of the modern herd. Of the 14 tracks he's selected, we've previously encountered the first two, with the unstable space float of 'Hubble' appearing on a shady Thriller 12" and his remix of Various Production's 'Lost' reminding us how good his most overlooked cuts can be.
From here in it's all about that next-level longing, sealing the airlock and initiating pressure sequence with 'Futureproofing', before laying down the robo-boogie with 'Always Human'. Showing a teflon resistance towards easy categorisation, 'Get Ohn (Fairlight Mix)' swerves down a side street into a footwurkin' face-off by cyborgs sliding to a mutilated mix of Jon E Cash and Chez Damier played underwater. Next we hit the erogenous interzone of 'Maze' and that incapacitatingly lush bassline designed to lock into your central nervous system and send shockwaves of piloerection to every f*cking corner of your soul.
After that, we're cynically dumped into the Ferraro-esque Prince tribute 'Purple Splazsh', and on into the Detroit ghetto stalk of 'Let's Fly'. The dissonant robo-crunk of 'The Kettle Men' and closing entry 'Casanova' confirm that if anything, Actress is only suffering from a surfeit of ideas and expanded technical expertise. Proof, if it were needed, that there is a sprawling future beyond the stasis of so much contemporary electronic music.
L.A.’s Benedek pulls out a balmy disco package for Music From Memory’s Second Circle sub label.
Uptown, he delivers the liquified 4th world trumpet and keeling boogie of Earlyman Dance before swapping out the trumpet for synth keys and wilder dubbing in the Canyon Version.
Downtown, on Maca he percolates natty percussion in a clipped strut soaked in lush pads and acidic bass, while Tengu’s Mystery pulls toward YMO-esque instrumental influences, and Sixtern gives it some glam slouch.
One of Convextion’s most in-demand classics, ‘Crawling & Hungry’ is finally repressed along with his ace ‘Venus In Spurs’
A total inverted-anthem in our Pelicanneck shop back at the start of this century, Convextion’s ‘Venus In Spurs’ 12” remains a high water mark of dub techno to this day. While in any normal circumstances the A-side would be hailed a total pearl, it’s really all about the B-side’s ‘Crawling And Hungry’, one of Gerard Hanson’s very deepest emotional punishers, stretched out for 11 minutes of Basic Channel-style dub chord meditation with the additional glow of Detroit techno proper and Area54 ambience.
Ask almost anyone who knows or owns this cut, they’ll probably put it in their all-time top 10. Goes for us at least.
The fluidity of the phrasing, timbral research, complex rhythmic combinations and rare sense of improvisation make this one of the best modern jazz recordings on the Saravah label in the 1970s.
"The cello, although considered a minority instrument in the history of jazz and improvisation, has carved itself a niche, both in the USA (Fred Katz, Calo Scott, Abdul Wadud, Diedre Murray, Peggy Lee) and in Europe (Tristan Honsinger, Maarten Altena, Denis Van Hecke, Ernst Reijseger). Alongside Didier Petit, Jean-Charles Capon is one of the French virtuosi on the instrument, that he began playing professionally at the beginning of the 60s before creating the Baroque Jazz Trio. His name was rapidly linked to different cult groups for who he became the guest star (Confluence, Perception, Speed Limit), but also with many more or less well-known (free) jazz musicians including David S. Ware (with whom he recorded the impeccable duo From Silence To Music), Philippe Maté, Michel Roques, André Jaume or Joe McPhee (as part of Po Music). Jef Gilson helped get his career under way (they recorded together as far back as 1968) before Pierre Barouh, boss of Saravah records with who Jean-Charles Capon played alongside Brigitte Fontaine and Areski, offered him the opportunity to record his first album: L'Univers-solitude. In the company of Swiss percussionist Pierre Favre, Jean-Charles Capon demonstrated, in all registers, a level of invention way beyond a traditional rhythmic and melodic background, with the fluid phrasing a perfect complement to his extended range.
It is not for nothing that Jean-Charles Capon admires Duke Ellington, John Lewis and Gabriel Fauré, as can be heard on his later highly personal versions of "Mood Indigo", "Django" and "Après un rêve". As for Pierre Favre, he is not there just to make up the numbers: his timbral research and combinations of complex rhythms offer the French cellist wonderful interaction throughout this remarkable album which had finally been given a dignified rerelease."
Lush, floating vocal studies and diaphanous ambient electronic from Alis, the artist who used to be known as Subeena.
‘Paper cuts’ is a pleasant experience, convecting a meditative vibe between her Aïsha Devi-alike ritual ‘Papercuts’, the anaesthetised space and harmonic hues of ‘BCC: me’, and the blue/grey skied atmosphere in ‘Rely (Could I)’, before shifting into more blunted, folksy ambient-pop dimensions with the etheric ‘Status’ and the glossolalic keen of ‘water’.
Following the reissue of Robert Ashley’s ‘Private Parts’ last week, a reanimated Lovely Music serve this absolute pearl from David Behrman, an important and beautiful artefact of interactive computer music recorded in 1977 and featuring a primitive microcomputer manipulating and evolving improvised acoustic parts for flute, bassoon and cello. It was conceived and recorded in parallel to the arrival of the first home computers, and is one of the earliest, most subtle and satisfying examples of machine language interacting with acoustic instrumentation we’ve heard.
"On the Other Ocean” was recorded in 1977 at the influential Mills College and features Maggi Payne on flute, Arthur Stidfole on bassoon and David Behrman on electronics, feeding their improvisations into the Kim-1 microcomputer for "Harmonic Responses” - or a kind of primitive machine learning. As the label explain: "The relationship between the two musicians and the computer is an interactive one, with the computer changing the electronically-produced harmonies in response to what the musicians play, and the musicians influenced in their improvising by what the computer does."
Behrman expands: "When we went into the Mills recording studio that sunny September afternoon with the breeze blowing through the Golden Gate, we had had no previous rehearsal; Maggi Payne and Arthur Stidfole had never performed together; the simple software (typed laboriously by hand in machine language into the tiny hexadecimal keypad of the "Kim 1" microcomputer) had just been completed. I had no idea what would happen. When Maggi and Arthur began spinning off their long, calm phrases I remember being surprised. And I remember catching an expression of what looked like surprise on the countenance of "Blue" Gene Tyranny through the control room window. We did two takes, chose one and that was it."
"Figure in a Clearing” followed a similar process, but this time the main player was cellist David Gibson, once again feeding into the Kim-1. Behrman explains: "It seemed astounding in 1977 that a translucent green circuit board with a tiny brain on it could take a million instructions per second from its little memory and send commands to another device (the home-made music synthesizer) whenever its program asked it to do so. David Gibson's only "score" was a list of 6 pitches to be used in performance, and a request that he not speed up when the computer-controlled rhythm did. The timbral richness and concentrated eloquence of his playing sprang from his own sources.”
Listening to this edition over 40 years later, the thing that’s perhaps most striking about these recordings is their subtlety; where you’d perhaps expect to find heavy-handed utilisation of new technology, instead you discover slowly evolving, gently mutating pieces hiding a multitude of processes. Behrman’s work here is so startling in its beauty and subtlety that it should be used as a textbook guide for how to approach innovative technology; with patience, restraint and consideration.
Serenely calm, synth-gilded harp meditations with a slight southern gothic air from Mary Lattimore, following up her rarified outings and collaborations for Ghostly International, Thrill Jockey and Constellation Tatsu. In an age full of exhausting noise, chaos and unconscious verbalism, Mary Lattimore and Mac McCaughan’s “New Rain Duets” offers an antidote.
"Diaphanous melody emerges from the strings of Lattimores harp, at times reminiscent of a room full of antique music boxes playing different songs but in accord. The synthesizer textures from McCaughan float in and around the harps arpeggios, warm like cloud cover, then disturbed and more harshly electronic. Like the textures on Bowie’s Berlin albums with Eno, there is a constant sense of beauty and foreboding coexistent.
The collaboration’s four movements snake and float through a liminal sonic universe, without a linear sense of tension/release but rather a calm and brooding build into a widening pool of immersive sound. “New Rain Duets” proves that “cosmic music” lives not just in the notes played but also the ones in between. When rendered in such a way as this album, it yields a thing of true beauty and wonder."
Five years on from Space Is Only Noise, the once precocious composer Nico Jaar pursues that album’s blend of dancefloor mechanics, hip hop and ambient electronic pop into the more refined, layered designs of Sirens; its follow-up proper after dallying with Dave Harrington in Darkside and scoring/re-scoring films by Jacques Audiard and Sergei Parajanov, and even racking up BBC Radio 1’s mix of the year for his 2012 Essential Mix.
Whether weaving nods to Alice Coltrane with funereal torch song in Killing Time, or sounding like gothic Trentemøller doing clattery, jazzed-up D&B on The Governor, and even smoky ’50s doo-wop mixed with desiccated rocksteady groove in History Lesson, whose title is perhaps the earnest key to Sirens, Jaar’s 2nd album is slightly trickier to date than its predecessor, yet detectable nostalgic for another time and place.
We’re most attracted to its quieter moments, as with the ether drift of Leaves and its gauzy smudge of brass, strings and pads infiltrated with what we’ll assume is a sample of Nico as a child babbling to his famous father, making for a nice, innocent contrast with the rest of his earnest, pleading croons.
Still one of the best techno albums out of Berlin in this millennium so far, Shed’s seminal debut LP, Shedding The Past is finally and necessarily reissued on his own label, The Final Experiment - newly expanded to include all 12 tracks from the CD edition, and cut to heavier vinyl than the original 2008 pressing!
Thanks to the timeless cues and intent it was built on, Shedding The Past still sounds amazing today, working to an effortlessly adroit, light-footed and dynamic schematic that makes much of his subsequent work feel a bit clunky and overdone by comparison.
On release in 2008, it was a seriously big album for a techno world in flux between classic Detroit house, echoes of UK dubstep, broken beat and Braindance, and traces of tuffer Frankfurt sounds - all components of the Soloaction sound he’d developed for years prior.
Fair to say that Shed distilled those styles perfectly in his début album, as proved in its most impressive highlights such as the balletic gait of Another Wedged Chicken, the misty-eyed beauty of The Lower Upside Down and the breakbeat seduction of ITHAW, but most powerfully in its spine-freezing eternal anthem, Estrange.
Trust us: no techno collection is complete without a copy of this album.