After a 5 year pause for breath, Rainer Veil return with their debut full length for Modern Love; an immersive, kinematic tumble through electronic forms from hyper trance to tape dub experiments and loose polyrhythms - a summoning of ‘ardcore spirits in flux. Big RIYL: Photek, Caterina Barbieri, SND, Lee Gamble, Gábor Lázár...
A hypnotic soundworld tempered by weighty bass and angular construction, ‘Vanity’ marks a breaking away from the binds of overthinking, an embrace of imperfection. It’s a brighter set of tracks then anything we’ve heard from them before, discarding the fog of filters and guitar pedals in pursuit of a more loose-limbed and swung ideal.
Opening on the skeletal Trance vapour-trail ‘Sim Screen’ and the agitated ‘Repatterning’, we head into a ferociously asymmetric warehouse swerve ‘In Gold Mills’ conjuring an uncanny, nighttime vision of suburban bass riddled with tension and bliss. ‘Shallows’ retreats through isolation dub, echoing ‘Change Is Never Easy’, a re-worked House template fractured to its bare percussive core, while ‘FM2’ entwines a double helix of DX7 patches with a heart wrench, and ‘Gauze’ dismantles a mosaic of Kwaito patterns, buried under a haze of smoke.
Tracing rapidly mutating electronic forms, from ringtone hooks to latinate rhythms and Razor synth edits, ‘Vanity’ explores an instinctive swell of ideas and influences in perpetual and unstoppable forward motion, a sequence of flash frames captured and distilled for posterity.
This is a total find - ‘Tanz Und Andacht’ (Dance and Devotion) is a mouth-wateringly rare and otherworldly missive from Hamburg’s cult, highly enigmatic label/band Werkbund, a bizarre, crazily ahead-of-its time project that finds the sweet spot between Coil and Torsten Pröfrock's work as Dynamo / Various Artists, now reissued on vinyl with two bonus tracks to the pleasure of weirdos across the world, more than 20 years after the long sold-out original 2x7” release.
Since 1987, Werkbund have remained a riddle to practically anyone outside their studio. Between the late ‘80s and the ‘00s, they released a handful of LPs and CDs on the enigmatic Walter Ulbricbht Schallfolien and the related Abraum label, including some extraordinary electronic recordings by Mechthildt Von Leusch, a properly shady character, who, if Google is translating correctly, would also appear to be behind this 1997 album, ranging from beautifully windswept synths and airborne waltzes to deeply creepy horror themes.
We won’t front - Werkbund and their related projects are relatively new to us, but we could tell from only a few bars of this LP, which somehow fathoms everything from widescreen ambient to proto-T++ style metallic dubs, that they’re a seriously special project, and the kind of stuff we dream about discovering every day. And in the strangest way, to our ears their music feels uncannily familiar, like the illusion of Déjà entendu, yet somehow utterly fresh and unique at the same time.
‘Tanz Und Andacht’ very much plays into its own schism with one side full of inquisitive and rhythmic electronics, and the other dank and cranky as your life. Spine-chills cascade from the front in ‘Lichtregen’ triggering a surreal, warped side that bends between the sort of slow, minimal but generous polyrhythms favoured in Vladimir Ivkovic DJ sets, and pockets of genuine mystery such as the head-licking ‘Allseele’, which is perhaps best compared with the best of Leyland Kirby’s ‘Intrigue & Stuff’ volumes.
The flipside however is much starker, traversing the vinegary, vintage Lynchian tone of ‘Perl Weiss’ and ice palace harmonics of ‘Im Heiligen Hain’ alongside the carmine seep and trailing fade-outs of ‘Eine Von Diesen’ and the chthonic breaths of bonus piece ‘Die Abendburg.’
Fair to say that with original copies now going for the prices of a week’s rent in Manchester, there’s probably a lot of industrial/ambient fiends gleefully rubbing their hands over a pot of beans right.
UVB-76 offshoot The Stone Tapes diversify their bonds with Chafik Chennouf & Katsunori Sawa’s splayed rhythms and grey area keen
Chasing up the label’s introductory 12” revolving Karim Maas, Pessimist, Overlook and Talker, ‘Fragments of Reference’ sees Chennouf and Sawa pushing the hi-tech dirt of their Opal Tapes releases down darker ginnels to claustrophobic, anxiety-raising effect.
Up top their ‘False Paradigm’ sounds like a recording of aliens scuttling around the belly of an oil tanker while you shit your gruds waiting for them to suck your brains out. ‘Growth of Inequality’ follows with a turbulent sort of acid rolige, and ‘The Jonah Complx’ takes it danker with muffled alarms and threatening bas detonations, next to the bestial growl and lumbering structure of ‘Heat Death’.
My Disco finally unveil their debut album for Downwards, a brilliant rendering of concrète/industrial styles recorded in the same Berlin studio often frequented by Einstürzende Neubauten, Pan Sonic and Keiji Haino, somehow channelling the spirit of all three. It’s an intensely rich and wildly unexpected trip that takes in the ragged intensity of Suicide alongside gong recordings and a kind of isolationist ambient spirit that resides somewhere between Selected Ambient Works Vol II and Raime.
‘Environment’ finds My Disco in the midst of deep synth despair, leaving behind the gnashing guitars in favour of cold metallic percussion and gloomy pads reverberating in derelict, factory-like space. Gutting out the driving, mathy repetition of their prized early work (2010’s Steve Albini-produced ’Young/You’ is a favourite of Karl O’Connor/Regis), the Melbourne-based trio now recall the ungodly offspring of Raime and Swans, operating with an increased appreciation of space, rhythm and tone that will shock even the hardest to please explorers of avant-rock and industrial fault lines.
In no uncertain terms its 8 tracks plumb the depths of a foul mood, strafing thru a series of antechamber-like stations like some inelegant beast encumbered with clanking manacles and ankle restraints. Thanks to the visceral, vivid nature of the recording and production, the devil lies in the synaesthetic sonic/visual detail, riddling a mostly wordless narrative that perfectly says it without saying it.
Biting down first with the jagged metallic klang and gnawing drones of ‘An Intimate Conflict’, the album continues to fetishise both bleeding-raw and cinematic themes thru the torture chamber ambience of ‘Exercise In Sacrifice’, and the red-lining tone poem ‘Act’, leading into belly of the beast bass growls on ‘Rival Colour’, before the dissonant, keening might of ‘No Permanence’ calves off into a closer to end all closers, with the band’s Cornell Wilczek feeding Buchla Easel tones into the empty tank strikes and fetid atmosphere of ‘Forever’ with a febrile effect worthy of Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement.
By any measure, ‘Environment’ is one of Downwards’ most singular albums, and a must-check for disciples of proper, unheimlich sonics. Trust it’ll wipe that art school smirk right off your mug.
Crafty mix of dream-pop vocals and supple, slow grooves nodding to witch house, R&B, trip hop
“"Our Love Is The Gold" is the third proper studio album from Paco Sala following "Ro-Me-Ro" & "Put Your Hands On Me". Written over 4 years it marks a return to song-writing for the duo, employing fever-dream melodies and synth drunk hooks, balanced against off-kilter production that sets them apart from their peers.
Intense, impassioned, guttural yet enigmatic - the album documents the process of leaving London and the empowerment a new life inspires. The opening & title track is a statement of intent “are you aware of my power?” repeats Garza, leaving us in no doubt that we really shouldn’t doubt her.
Tone set, what follows is gloriously idiosyncratic and deeply personal pop, presented without compromise or concession. Direct, confident, articulate - gone are the the opiated improvisations of 2017’s "The Silent Season", though the wilful sense of adventure remains throughout. "Our Love is The Gold" is a record of awakenings and self-discovery.”
Classy dream-pop from London’s Greg Hughes, Tessa Murray and friends, the follow-up to their widely acclaimed 2011 set Creatures Of An Hour.
The album kicks off with ‘The Trip’, in which Murray invites you to “pack your bags / hit the open road”, and she could be describing the band’s own creative trajectory: this a far airier, more widescreen LP than its predecessor, with a clarity to the production and songwriting that surely will surely lead to daytime radio play and festival ubiquity (if it hasn’t already...we’re not the people to ask). We don’t say all this to denigrate Still Corners: you have to take your hat off to such finely crafted AOR missiles as ‘Beginning To Blue’, a bruised, synth-daubed ballad easily the equal of Feist in full flight, and very much in her patented mature, melancholic, electro-organic style.
The guitar parts are lovely, variously invoking The Police’s slick minimalism, Twin Peaks roadhouse twang and Paisley Underground jangle, and Murray’s voice is pleasingly gossamer-thin without being substanceless; she has the versatility and gusto to handle gnomic, near-abstract miniatures (‘Beatcity’) and forays into full-on, bouffant synth-pop (‘Fireflies’) alike. Quality alert for the pop-pickers and fans of Feist, Ashrae Fax, Chromatics, etc.
Without a doubt one of the tightest bands we’ve ever seen live, Japan’s Kukangendai jump onto Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ for their first release easily available outside Japan. Played with unreal timing and precision, Kukangandei’s pointillist chops and stop/start rhythms aren’t just mathematically sound as fuck, they’re also riddled with curious melodic sensibility and funk that generally escapes math rock types, effectively making a lot of other stuff seem sloppy, boring and ancient by comparison.
Ideologic Organ boss and Sunn 0))) legend Stephen O’Malley tells us why he signed them for this release: “Kukangendai is a kick ass rock trio from Kyoto (Tokyo transplants). When I first hear this band live I was instantly transfixed by their minimalist yet illusory primitive, polyrythmic and structural, memory evoking rock narratives. Their energy is completely and transparently palpable yet handled with restraint of the pleasure of a disciplined form dealing with time and articulation. They are a power trio of bass, drums and guitar but the music they play is as much the limbic system of a forest than it is a geode. They started in 2006. They left Tokyo to Kyoto and started the cult venue Soto (“Outside”) “to listen to music they hadn’t heard yet” a few years later. They collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto last year. They reminded me of James Brown on a heavy binge of Bastro, there’s a deep current of both archaic musical tastes and the human desire for articulating that archaism in there, but you shake your ass and get the shouting in… in a punk basement … 13th century version of Breadwinner, the bare soul version. I’m honoured and proud to work with this tribe, and to count them amongst friends.”
First vinyl reissue since 1987 - contains two bonus tracks never before released on vinyl...
"Tidal Waves Music now proudly presents: the official reissue of this fantastic album, back available on vinyl for the first time since 1987. Available as a deluxe 180g 2XLP set, with TWO bonus tracks from the same session that were not featured on the original vinyl release. This album is limited to 500 copies worldwide and comes with an obi strip + liner notes by American jazz critic & author Kevin Whitehead.
Pharoah ‘Farrell’ Sanders (born 1940) is a leading figure in the world of jazz and one of the last living legends with connections to players like Sun Ra and John Coltrane. His tenor saxophone playing has earned him royal status amongst free jazz players, critics and collectors. Originally Sanders was interested in urban blues music, but his high school teacher exposed him to jazz and this took Farrell in an entirely new direction. Once completing high school Sanders quickly packed his belongings and headed to Oakland, where he got a chance to work with musicians of high caliber such as saxophone players Sonny Simmons and Dewey Redman (who were both later to be major forces in new jazz and free jazz). Soon the young Pharoah would meet John Coltrane and would feel being attracted to the life as a professional musician. By the early sixties Sanders moved to New York where the major jazz scene was happening. Here he’d spent most his time honing his skills at rehearsals with Sun Ra….sadly he was not making much money with the Arkestra and soon found himself living on the streets, trying to stay up all night playing and then scrounging for money during the day, often selling blood to eat.
Sanders recorded his debut album for ESP soon after, but it wasn't until he started playing with his old friend John Coltrane that he would fully unleash the fury of his saxophone on the world of free jazz. The records Pharoah Sanders played on for Coltrane laid the foundation of what was to come for both the world of free jazz and for Sanders as a musician. After Coltrane's tragic death Sanders would record further with Alice Coltrane, John's widow, on the album Karma (1969 - Impulse!), which is universally accepted as Sanders' masterpiece. Along with musicians Alice Coltrane and singer Leon Thomas, Sanders helped to create the genre of spiritual jazz.
On the album we are presenting you today (Africa from 1987) Sanders plays with an all-star line-up consisting of Idris Muhammad, John Hicks and Curtis Lundy. Muhammad brings his trademark tight sense of timekeeping, but with a looseness that we love – and Lundy’s warm soulful bass does more than enough to give the set a sound bottom- all this while Hick’s free lyrical piano works nicely with Sander’s spiritual horn.
The brilliant ‘Africa sessions’ features the quartet at their best...soulful but also searching for a strong groove at the same time. The music here is less ornamented than on most of Sanders’ studio recordings, where sextets, septets or larger lineups have been the norm, but this brilliant effort here remains every bit as compelling. Pharoah and his crew play with the utmost sensitivity and give a demonstration that shows us the full extent of their skills."
Of all Jan Jelinek’s formidable output, this album has always been t-h-e o-n-e for us. More resolved and driven than 'Loop-Finding Jazz Records' (which appeared two years later), less reliant on glitch than Farben, it was essentially Jelinek's most satisfying and complete prototype for a new kind of sample-based music deeply immersed in the spirit of Jazz, without making any direct reference to it. Finally, 20 years later, here’s another chance for the unfamiliar to join the dots.
Originally released via Move D’s Source imprint back in 1999, 'Personal Rock' is one of those albums that no one seems to ever talk about but which has resonated over the years with anyone lucky enough to have encountered it. Situated somewhere between 'Loop-Finding Jazz Records', his Farben output, Move D's Conjoint and Atom Heart's most immersive work for Rather Interesting, it's an album full of subtle production flourishes within deep House structures that belong to the pre-millenial IDM heyday, but which transcend its overly-fussy, masculine templates.
The music is brooding and deep, designed for late night immersion without resorting to cliché, bolstered by what we reckon is the most forward thinking and timeless production of Jelinek’s output over the last two decades. Impossible to pull highlights, it’s an album best experienced from end-to-end through multiple listens, drawing you into a quietly euphoric, deep blue mood.
NYC’s artist-led Wild Flesh Productions label showcase a highly variegated mix of avant-songcraft, ambient sculpture, and hard-to-categorise integers by 21 mostly non-musician artists: Gabe Rubins, Felix Bernstein, Whitney Claflin, Park Mcarthur, Izzy Occampo, Paige Lillian Walton, James K, Gobby, Martina Gordon, Amanda Harris Williams, Kayla Guthrie, Alex Fleming, Candice Williams, Clara Lou, Christina Croll, Speaker Music, Crawlspace, Eve Essex, Cammisa B and June Junior
Conceived in the independent spirit of art labels such as Berlin’s Gelbe Records, crusty stronghold Crass Records, or the No Wave survey by Just Another Asshole, Wild Flesh’s Various Artists compilation speaks to a shared sense of mission between all on board, while embracing their expressive diversity. Expect to meet myriad voices you wouldn’t hear elsewhere, ranging from the prim but coruscating dream pop of Martina Gordon with ‘Arc Minute’, to June Junior’s Mica Levi + Tirzah-esque ‘Dick Trap’, to the druggy Dome-like drowse-pop of Kayla Guthrie in ‘Erotic Death’, label owner Cammisa Buerhaus’ hazy sunset stroller ’Schizovztt’, to spoken word pieces by Clara Lou, and the burnished amp fuzz of ‘A Habit’ by Eve Essex.
Kampala, Uganda’s multi-faceted Faizal Mostrixx serves a craftily organic electronic spin on the kind of rhythms and vibes found on Nyege Nyege Tapes/Hakuna Kulala with he ‘Ghosts’ EP
A breakdancer, choreographer, social worker and producer with a keen interest in preserving and developing African cultural heritage, Faizal Mostrixx possesses a breezier, gentler and more poetic sound than we’d associate with recent, exhilarating finds from Uganda. But make no mistake; he still knows how to kick it.
The A-side is the one for us, striking out with the loping, tarraxho-compatible drum patterns, rudely plucked bass and warped vocal motifs of ‘Chicken Groove’ before a single-string fiddle refrain opens the titular EP highlight, a deeply unique fusion of swaying plainchant giving way to scatty chat and smacking drum programming that could easily be mistaken for Jlin. Factor in the grimy low end strings and brooding atmospheres of ‘Icy Forest’ and the slinky slow/fast gear shifts of ‘Flute Cry’ and you have an exceptional EP from any angle.
Not Glass is the hugely immersive, often surprising debut collaboration between Alessio Natalizia (Not Waving) and his longtime correspondent Dimitris Papadatos (Jay Glass Dubs), deploying a sublime and unexpected line of mystic, ambient dub and tribal rhythms to reconfigure what we know about their respective outputs. If you regularly join dots between Eno & Budd, Sylvian & Sakamoto, Peter Gabriel & John Carpenter, and crave that sweet spot where pop and ambient archetypes reach an unsteady equilibrium, this one’s spectacularly satisfying.
Paying tribute to Latin and Greek authors Ovid and Heraclitus in a suite of sublime electronics and cryptic rhythms comparable to a theatrical soundtrack, ‘Forma’ is the result of years of daily chats between the London and Athens-based artists where they cemented the album’s concept around key quotes by the legendary poet/philosophers, who hail from their respective homelands of Italy and Greece.
On this timeless plane, Natalizia and Papadatos spaciously consolidate their contrasting, rhythm-driven approaches in a reverberant, often beatless sphere of exploration. Removed from their usual handrails, the artists operate at their most open-ended and suggestive, amorphously shapeshifting from gloaming shadowplays of synth and keys to investigate arcane percussive impulses and iridescent ambient whorls.
The result is a perfect, finely shaded marriage of their mutually esoteric, outsider Southern European energies, which intuitively acknowledges and inhabits the paradoxes of their respective styles. The illusively static yet mercurial ebb and flow of the atmospheric intro ‘Fallite fallentes’ sets the scene, where ‘Dum loquor, hora fugit’ invokes a viscous but brittle tangle of wide bass and pointillist rhythms beside a stately cello vignette ‘Ludicrum’ that recalls aspects of Scott Walker’s mystic charm ’Soused’.
The rapid arps and slow moving, glassy pads of ‘Pauper ubique iacet’ conjure a sublime tension that becomes diffused into the cavernous, hollow dub dread of ‘Ut ameris, amabilis esto’, possessed with its throaty, processed vocal, and the lonely strings and plasmic electronics of ‘Forma bonum fragile est’ connotes a psychedelic coming-to-terms with their artistic/philosophic duality. Total pearl this one.
Lone reworks DJ Haus’ big-boned jacker ‘See U In My Dreams’ with a patented bag of tricks and lip-smacking MDMA flavour
Where the original is stripped to the essentials, Lone adds loads of new ingredients to the mix, adding restlessly killer, early ‘90s AGCG-style breakbeat torque and samples, turning the vocals into scudding, flyaway thought-bubbles, and licking it up with deft daubs of Radiophonic-like analog synths. You don’t hear this kinda break chopping every day. It’s very well done.
Debut release from award-winning violinist and member of The London Contemporary Orchestra Galya Bisengalieva, occasional Radiohead, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Frank Ocean and Actress collaborator. On this EP she performs her own work as well as pieces composed by Claire M. Singer (Touch) and Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, another award-winning artist who records for FatCat’s post-classical label 130701.
The A-side's ’tùs is a majestic piece written by Singer, a soaring, widescreen drone inspired by Glencoe, an extinct volcano in the Highlands of Scotland. At 10 minutes it’s the longest piece on the record, and uses a mixture of strings, organ and electronics to beautifully limn an awe-inspiring sense of space. What starts as a barely-there wheeze of bowed strings builds into an almost grandiose, panoramic soundscape that will be easily recognisable to anyone who has visited or even seen the breathtaking, rugged wilds of Northern Scotland.
On the other side Bisengalieva opens with ’TULPAR’. in a marked contrast to the A-side’s billowing, sustained drones, she here uses her violin rhythmically to animate the winged horse of Kazakh mythology, connoting the sensation of quick, galloping hooves and massive, beating wings in the lower ends. More complex and insular, this is the sound of the violin as pitched at an atomic scale; intimate and alien.
Emelie Levienaise-Farrouch seals the EP with ‘Oparin’, which takes inspiration from Alexander Ivanovich’s theories about the origins of life in the primordial soup. Her vision takes flight here, conjuring a hugely dynamic play of stereo strafing strings and breathlessly high register electronics that connote chaos and tension in the first 2/3rds, then bloom into wilder discord and romantic sweeps implying danger and beauty in the final section.
Gassed on analogue synths after a trip to Japan, Synkro renders a newfound fluffiness to his sound in his lovely sophomore album, landing half a decade since his debut, also on R&S ambient wing, Apollo
“Since his last album ‘Changes’ released in 2015 Synkro has been exploring more ambient influences and introducing new studio techniques. ‘Images’ is heavily inspired by the 80s-90s new age/ambient movement and artists such as Andreas Vollenweider, Jon Hassel & Marc Barreca (as well as some Japanese ambient techno influences such as Susumu Yokota & Ken Ishii's early work), most of the music uses a full analogue set up, moving further away from McBride's earlier sample-based work.
Following a long trip to Japan, McBride became "addicted" to vintage synths, and returned to his studio in Derbyshire to write the album. The twelve-track long player still contains his trademark rural soundscapes suspended in a rich seam of hooks and emotive synth arrangements but this time with focus on more weightless, looming melodies that extend throughout the album.
‘Images' distils the pure essence of the Synkro sound, a step in a different direction from some of his more beat led releases and an alternative from his collaborations with Liam Blackburn (as Akkord) or more recently with Arovane. Yet the music is still immediately recognisable and it’s an album in the old fashioned sense that is best consumed whole.”
Hypnagogic raga drone electronics and mutating, distorted rhythms from L.A.-based experimental musician Byron Westbrook, yielding two compatible improvisations that have stood the test of time in his archive. RIYL David Behrman, M Geddes Gengras, Matt Carlson
“Nearly all of my recorded music is pieced together from organized edits of various improvisations of some sort, via a composition process that generally involves cut/paste and superimposing those to a point of precision. Over time I’ve been curious about what gets lost in that process, in terms of representing how things develop over time and spontaneity. In 2016, I found myself with a 20-minute improvisation that felt distinguished in it's raw form, mistakes and all. It felt like a more guttural, gritty approach that represents how I actually “play” as an instrumentalist, which is something I’ve consciously downplayed in previous work out of preference for spatial and environmental elements. I sat on the piece for a while, then a year and a half later, when a second improvisation materialized that felt familial to the first, it seemed that a work had completed itself. Voice Damage is a bit of an exposure of the exploratory aspects of my process, where I’m not really thinking in terms of music composition or preconception, just playing in the moment as an instrumentalist.”
Blisteringly heavy yet glacially poised black metal galvanised with towering synths
Golden Ashes are yet another excellent new discovery by London’s Aurora Borealis, following from their ace Primitive Knot release into the steepest valley of despair and hopelessness where the sun never penetrates.
“A dreamlike descent into the realm of death. A mystified swansong to the days of hope. A dark return of myths through dying light. Eternity admired through the eyes of the dead. A restorer of all things abandoned by light and life.”
Kode9 flips 4 X 8bit and 16bit video game soundtracks in his 80/160bpm hyper cubist footwork style
Long a key part of Kode9’s sound, the influence of Japanese computer game soundtracks has also perfused the history of rave music, so it’s interesting at the least to hear him fuse the source with its echoes.
With Soshi Hosoi’s flighty ‘Mister Diviner (The Mahjong Touhaiden)’ he wields glittering arps up and down a footworking spine, while he salvages fluoro rave licks from Koichi Ishibashi’s ‘Bad Data (Dezaemo)’ and synchs them to rapid, needlepoint 2-step and jungle breaks in pretty much unprecedented style. Yes Koshiro’s ‘Temple (Actraiser)’ is then turned into something like the soundtrack for a Giallo set between South London and Tokyo, and Tadahiro Nitta’s ‘An-Un (Ominous Clouds)(Xak II)’ pushes that vibe farther down carmine stained platforms.
Blinding Sun Ra reissue, finding Ra on his newly acquired Crumar Mainman synth (with early drum machine!) in stellar 1978 recordings from the same Italian sessions that birthed ‘Disco 3000’ and ‘The Sound Mirror’
Well known to Ra disciples, but not as much to everyone else who stands by his catalogue and doesn’t know where to start, ‘Media Dream’ is a massive highlight of Sun Ra’s fecund period circa 1977 and 1980 - the peak of his output of new LPs.
Recorded live sometime in January 1978, the album is really most distinguished by Ra’s inimitable use of the Crumar Mainman keyboard, which was then - and still is - a rare model of “string synthesiser” that was only manufactured between the 60s and ’84. It captivatingly lights up the whole LP, from the super dark and grungy blasts that open with ‘Saturn Research’ thru its application as bubbling groove box underlining Ra’s hieroglyphic riffs and Michael Ray’s sharp trumpet in ‘Constellation’, to the wigged out blatz in ‘Year of the Sun’, before spiralling out into gobsmacking double helixes of synth and trumpet and collapsing into alien squabble on the title tune.
A legendary wig-flipper, this!
Ron Trent and Kuniyuki supply neatly contrasting remixes of songs by Amsterdam’s Azymuth-esque, 9-piece Jungle By Night outfit
Our pick of the pair is Ron Trent’s take on ‘Spending Week’, turning the swaggering OG into a more uptempo disco workout switching back and forth between rudely dubbed-out bassline and more rootsy hustle for 10 minutes of patented Trent suss. Kuniyuki’s remix of ‘LoveBoat’ is more rapturous, winking and slinky, leaving less to the imagination.
Q’s fruity 1982 ohrwurm is relaunched into disco orbit on its OG, 7” format following a 12” repress, also from Isle of Jura, in 2017
A-side is the original 7” mix with that memorable vocoder vocal and whistling hook, while the flipside is the instrumental 7” mix, highlighting the trilling hi-hats, popping claps and chunky bass fretless bass vamps.
Hieroglyphic Being and Vakula kick Pedro Vian’s ‘Vacant Boat’ song into deep and psychedelic house styles
Jamal Moss aka Hieroglyphic Being vibes out with ‘Flexible Girl’, turning in a restlessly sparking and gasping piece of raw Chicago house nous whereas Vakula opts for the slow burn with his low-key and ruggedly offset spin on ‘Darwin’s Nightmare.’
‘I’m Not Always Where My Body Is’ is the lead single and a highlight of Aïsha Devi’s upcoming ’S.L.F.’ EP for Houndstooth
Over 4 minutes of percussive and etheric vocals, guttural bass jabs and thizzing dream-pop melody, Aïsha puts her kinaesthetic sorcery to fine use as a spiritual rallying cry to likeminds and familiar spirits.
Shelter Press’ remarkable run of 2017 releases ends in deep contemplation with this beautiful exploration of traditional Northern Indian classical music recorded with an experimental emphasis, carrying out the aural equivalent of zooms and close-ups, weaving between the minute details of sound and the more expansive effect on the listener. Recorded by artist Darren Almond, each of the pieces here corresponds to imagery from his eponymous video installation, shot in Rajasthan, 2012.
Revolving around recordings of Fateh Ali (Santoor, Manjira), Ghulam Gouse (Tabla), Roop Singh (Manjira), and Zakir Hussain (Bansari), All Things Pass seeks to connect the ancient Indian artform of the raga, whose time-based structures link the movement of the stars to earthly events, with the individual player’s emotions.
In this complex feedback loop of cosmic information and terrestrial expression, Almond operates as a sensory relay or transducer, using a shotgun microphone to document the instruments and synaesthetically offering a sort of sensory lens that regulates the liminal link between the macrocosmic, or universal, and the molecular, more human level of existence.
From its meter-melting Tabla drum pulses, to the refractive metallic shimmer of dulcimer-like Santoor and the Maniira hand cymbals, threaded with airborne stripes of flute-like Bansuri, the naturally fluid but closely disciplined results can be heard as a prism for realigning our Western-based and shaped perceptions of time. It’s really only when you fully comprehend how closely these things are linked in Indian classical culture that you may realise how restrictive and naive so much Western instrumental music, with its minor and major modes, and reliance on fixed time signatures, can be.
By that token, it’s not difficult to hear why the plasmic, meter and scale-dissolving possibilities of electronic music - when applied inventively - appeal to listeners who’ve become bored with the arrogance of Western convention. Effectively, All Things Pass ties all these ideas in a way that is self-evident, requiring the listener to simply allow themselves to interpret its expressive mathematics in their own way, and real unto themselves maths as the universal language.
It offers a soothing, thought provoking end to a tumultuous year, and marks Shelter Press as one of the most rewarding and diverse labels on the contemporary scene.
STL weaves his low-key house magick in three dusty, trippy, liminal zoners for Echocord
In fine tradition, he comes on like Theo Parrish’s brother from a German mother on the A-side, melding ruff-cut, Theo-styled rhythms with a patina of pastoral scenery - creaking field gates, sloshing troughs, and breezing cowbells - in the gently dazed, 10 minute stroll of ‘Lost Harbour’, while the effect is tripper on ‘Mr. Sinister’, as brooding tendrils of acidic dub chords infiltrate the sublime field recordings luring us into twilight states, before ‘Sensemilla’ beckons the night properly with reverberating kicks carrying filtered blue noise and barely-there, ghostly chords.
Pacific Breeze documents Japan’s blast into the stratosphere. By the 1960s, the nation had achieved a postwar miracle, soaring to become the world’s second largest economy. Thriving tech exports sent The Rising Sun over the moon. Its pocket cassette players, bleeping video games, and gleaming cars boomed worldwide, wooing pleasure points and pumping Japanese pockets full of yen.
"Japan’s financial buoyancy also permeated its popular culture, birthing an audio analog called City Pop. This new sound arose in the mid ’70s and ruled through the ’80s, channeling the country’s contemporary psyche. It was sophisticated music mirroring Japan’s punch-drunk prosperity. City Pop epitomized the era, providing a soundtrack for emerging urbanites. An optimistic spirit buzzed through the music in neon-bathed, gauzy tableaus coated with groove-heavy strokes.
Pacific Breeze is an expertly compiled collection of choice cuts that range from silky smooth grooves to innovative techno pop bangers and everything in between. Long-revered by crate diggers and adventurous music heads, this music has never been released outside of Japan until now. Including key artists like Taeko Ohnuki and Minako Yoshida, as well as cult favorites Hitomi Tohyama and Hiroshi Sato, the long-awaited release also features newly commissioned cover painting by Tokyo-based artist Hiroshi Nagai, whose iconic images of resort living have graced the covers of many classic City Pop albums of the 1980s.
Many of the key City Pop players evolved from the Japanese New Music scene of the early ’70s, as heard on Light In The Attic’s acclaimed Even a Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973, the first release of the ongoing Japan Archival Series. In fact, you could say City Pop set sail with a champagne smash from Happy End, the freakishly talented subversives who included amongst their ranks Haruomi Hosono and Shigeru Suzuki, both featured on this compilation. As Michael K. Bourdaghs noted in his book, Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon, this music was, “Deconstructing the line between imitation and authenticity.” Some of the best City Pop teeters in this zone—easy listening with mutant exotica, tilted techno-pop, and steamy boogie bubbling beneath the gloss."
Strapping, mid-tempo, cosmic disco and EBM knockers from San Fran’s C.L.A.W.S.
Marking C.L.A.W.S.’ solo debut proper on his own label, ‘the ‘Splat City’ EP is squared up for sweaty, amyl-reeking nights under the strobes in four parts, delivering heavy club traction in the bolshy bruxist EBM chew of ’Slug Bait’, the swivelling ‘80s power move of ‘Pacific Fog Authority’, and what could be the soundtrack to a boss-level dancefloor battle-scene in ’Splat City’, while ‘Into The Eyes of the Zombie Queen’ lends a dose of sleazy cosmic disco swagger.
Fine slices of aerobic mysticism from Parisian producer D.K. on his spiritual home, Zaltan’s Antinote
Jacking deeper down the path that lead to this year’s ‘Mystic Warrior’ EP, D.K. pulls from restless NYC house rhythms and harmonious Detroit and UK techno synth styles in the enveloping atmospheres and crisp but fluid flow of ‘Voices’ which orbits the A-side, while the flip’s ’Shoubuari (Battle Mix)’ drops the pace a little and widens, rudes up the bass to accommodate pendulous tribal drums and a dazzling display of synth auroras in a style recalling early PWOG and proto-Goa trance, while ‘Riding For A Fall’ sees the EP off with a crimped ambient dancehall hustle shaded in warm pads and hypnotic flutes.
In which the erstwhile Yellow Swan expands upon the structures of 'Movement Building' with a 2nd volume of cavernous drone and drum space to follow Stephen O'Malley's 'Éternelle Idole' on Felicia Atkinson and Bartolemé Sanson's Shelter Press.
"An early inspiration for both The Sensationalists and the music collected in Movement Building Vol. 2 was the novel Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata. The classic Japanese novel from 1956 tells the story of a geisha in a small mountain town and her married and wealthy male lover (a self-taught musician and self-appointed expert of Western ballet, respectively). Their tragic love affair, set amidst the snow, hot springs and mountains, became a thematic and contextual source for early phases of the project, and much of the music on this album is a result.
Borrowing compositionally and tonally from Taiko and Gagaku (an ancient drone based imperial court music), Saloman reproduced sounds originating in traditional Japanese drums, wind and stringed instruments almost completely on guitar, ride cymbals and snare drum. This influence is most explicit in the undulating rhythms that open the first side of Vol. 2 (Contained Battle/Ascend) and the layered escalation of the literally titled Gagaku, a methodical combination of rhythm and drone that climbs to a peak of psych-tinged burning guitar lines. Between these tracks are situated Ear Piercer and Mountain Music, two songs that have been staples of Saloman’s viscerally intense live sets for the last two years.
Concluding the album is a version of Miles’ Davis’ classic ballad, My Funny Valentine. This epilogue of sorts is a uncanny combination of original percussion and guitar, collaged together with what may be a live recording of Davis’ “second great quintet” taken off of YouTube, processed and time-stretched on tape. Conceived of as support for a duet interpreting a shambolic, drunken encounter between Snow Country’s protagonists, the piece provides a cool denouement following the drawn out intensities of what preceded it."
Official reissue of cult maxi single Eisbär by Swiss band Grauzone with cult 45rpm-or-33prm-ready b-side "FILM 2" - for fans of electronic, new wave, cold wave, Swiss wave, Neue Deutsche Welle (Welle means wave!), synth, pop, post-punk, proto-techno, 80s, Stephan Eicher, Marco Repetto, Liaisons Dangereuses, Tristesse Contemporaine, Young Marble Giants, Swizerland, mountains, polar bears, and xerox machines.
"Ich möchte ein Eisbär sein…Written by Martin Eicher after a nightmare in which he saw talking polar bears on the walls, and with music by the Grauzone crew consisting of Martin and his brother Stephan Eicher, Marco Repetto, Christian "GT" Trüssel, and Claudine Chirac (on saxophone), "Eisbär" is the most recognizable title from the band, a sublime mix of ingredients reflecting the transitional era it comes from - the raw energy of punk music still palpable, combined with the audacity of early electronics, the warm groove of a disco gem, beautifully fragile lyrics, and one of the best basslines ever. It became a mega hit, totally unplanned, but how could you resist such a track?
"FILM 2" is the ultimate b-side monster, a menacing all-instrumental pre-techno masterpiece, slowly building to a magnetizing frenzy. An instant underground favorite, it was famously heard played at both speeds depending on the scenes and DJs you were frequenting, 45rpm as it was first intended, and 33rpm for the cosmic experience (search Daniele Baldelli’s Cosmic C75 1982 mixtape online for a great example of this).
The maxi single ends with "Ich Lieb Sie", a synth-pop meets doo-wop ballad, a true love song oozing with innocence. Simple, stylish, and just right.
At the crossroads of post-punk, new wave, pop, and electronic experimentation, the Eisbär maxi offers three songs that are technically different but hold the same spirit, the perfect embodiment of Grauzone’s music - wild, unpredictable, and youthful, yet sophisticated, catchy, and ingenious. The magic recipe for the good stuff.
Stephan Eicher went on to be, arguably, the most successful Swiss musician ever, with an international career extending from pop chanson to experimental escapades and collaborations with Moondog, artists Sophie Calle and John Armleder, and author Martin Suter among many other luminaries. Marco Repetto flourished as a techno and ambient producer, releasing multiple projects including releases on Aphex Twin’s Rephlex label."
The wonderfully disorienting ’What A Mess’ is the first album in 21 years from deep and psychedelic house maestro Pépé Bradock
There will be a lot of house heads who won’t even read past that first line and already be clicking buy right now, but for everyone else you need to know this is some of the freakiest, freeform house music you’ll hear this decade.
Constructed as a seamless work split in two over one LP, Bradock leaves all the details such as track titles and background info purposefully open ended and possibly apocryphal, to reflect the music’s serendipitous construction and psychedelic-realist feel and leave it open to interpretation.
The result is a mind-bending flux of styles that sounds like he recorded in the GRM studios, traversing chaotic swells of acephalic voices, super dank ethers, concrète shrapnel, spiralling disco licks and pockets of hyper electro-dub in its alternately brittle, lucid, and viscous, gauzy flow.
It’s not really a DJ record, unless you’re prepared with sticky tape markers denoting the parts where the groove resolves. It’s much better received in altered states, after the club, when logic is frayed and you’re almost bound to have to remind yourself 10 times “what the fuck is this record, again?”
Praised Icelandic ambient-techno producer Yagya spreads his wings on A Strangely Isolated Place
A key member of Iceland’s Thule crew, and a revered artist in his own right, Yagya is beloved for his knack in turning inspiration from his native Icelandic landscapes into signature, sensitively fluffy but sincerely deep creations that swim somewhere between classic ambient and dub techno styles.
Following from two albums for Delsin and a rare 12” for XOZ in 2018, ’Stormur’ is Yagya’s 7th album proper and a snug fit for A Strangely Isolated Place’s eternally melancholy, dream state aesthetic. It works like a seamless mixtape or production showreel, flowing with a cool conduction of energy between its 10 tracks that’s equally suited to simmering dancefloor sessions or sinking into your sofa.
Fans of everything from Gas to Basic Channel and Brian Eno should find something to appreciate here.
EVOL cough up the intensely hypnotic results of sessions recorded on a Serge Modular Music System at the GRM in Paris, in early 2019. Weighing in at 28 trax wide and 292 minutes long, ‘GRM Trax’ is arguably the motherload of all EVOL releases. It features the OG deco-rave duo applying their unrelenting, uncompromising process to a classic vintage synth with transfixing results ready to open a vast, pulsating wormhole in your living room or wherever it is that freaks like to consume their EVOL (betcha someone does it in the bog).
Pushing the classic early ‘70s synth in a way not previously heard, EVOL make only the slightest envelope shifts in each part, allowing the machine to gurn and chatter in its purest, buzzing vernacular. With such unyielding focus on each tweak, they encourage a total immersion in the sounds’ pure signal and its resonant overtones. We can confirm the effect is extremely uncanny and totally disorientating after headphone ingestion, meaning that once the cans came off every sound in the room will still pulse freakishly.
For the sake of your sanity and the health of your ears, it’s maybe not best to do the whole release in one go - or at least not loudly on headphones - but for those who love to peer into the abyss, we can assure you of a heavily sensational, mind-bending experience quite unlike any other.
The Lioness is the first Jason Molina project to fully turn away from the battlefield folk and deconstructed Americana of earlier Songs: Ohia recordings. At the dawn of the 21st century, the album felt modern. It aligned Molina with a new set of peers — Low, Gastr del Sol, Red House Painters and, most importantly, the influential Scottish band Arab Strap, whose producer and members were crucial in the creation of The Lioness.
"The avant- garde tones and arrangements of Arab Strap are absorbed here into Molina’s songwriting to create what would become, for many acolytes, the archetypal Songs: Ohia sound. Love & Work: The Lioness Sessions, the box set reissue, will serve as the seminal log of the era, complete with lost songs, photos, drawings, and essays from those who knew Molina best. We know Molina was diligent in both love and work. He treated songcraft like a job at the mill, and his approach to romance was not so different.
We know that when he fell in love with his wife, he was dutiful in his adoration. There were strings of love letters and poetic gesture. Included in this edition are replicated examples of this relentless love — an envelope with a letter from Molina, a photograph of Molina and his to-be wife, a postcard, a Two of Hearts playing card, and a personal check for one million kisses. Some of these items were gifts he would send to his new love from the road; others, like the 2 of Hearts, were totems he’d carry with him around this time as a symbol for his burgeoning love. And so, the head-over-heels album that is The Lioness has its workman counterpart. Nearly another album’s worth of material was recorded in Scotland during the album sessions. While similar in tone and structure, the songs seem to deal in the grit and dirt of being.
These are songs for aching muscles getting soothed in the third-shift pub. But they’re also examples of Molina’s diligence as he constructs what would be the essential elements of The Lioness. In addition to these outtakes, we also have a 4-track session made weeks earlier in London with friend James Tugwell. Comprised of primarily guitar, hand drums and voice, these songs are raw experiments that mostly serve to illustrate Molina’s well of words and ideas. But then, there is the devastating Sacred Harp hymn “Wondrous Love.” While he may have had his new love in mind, one can’t help but think of Molina’s legacy as he softly warbles “Into eternity I will sing/Into eternity I will sing.” You don’t have to try too hard to mythologize Molina. He did all the work for you."
Félicia Atkinson is a multidisciplinary artist with many strings to her bow. Hand In Hand elevates her work to a completely higher plain as far as we are concerned though; fusing field recordings, modular and MIDI electronics with an almost hypnotising line in whispered/ASMR vocal narration to subliminally affective degrees, lulling us into an alien - yet incredibly human - soundsphere. It’s rare to hear a singular artistic vision translated into a sound that is so inherently personal and inviting - but somehow Hand In Hand is both one of the most accessible, and most experimental albums we encountered in 2017. It’s riddled with so much nuance that many months on we’re still discovering hidden new crevices with every listen. If you’ve yet to hear it - what are you waiting for?
Preeminent avant-garde composer Felicia Atkinson weaves myriad, filigree electro-acoustic and non-musical metanarratives in her totally absorbing follow-up to A Readymade Ceremony  - a remarkable album which attracted high acclaim worldwide and pushed her to the core of the modern experimental sphere.
Hand In Hand consolidates Atkinson's refined palette of modular and MIDI electronics with ASMR voices, field recordings and instrumental improvisation to subliminally affective degrees, whilst conveying the ambitious complexities of her sound art with a harmoniously organic, spaciously poised appeal.
Where her last album A Readymade Ceremony emerged fully formed from a protracted period of experimentation and research whilst based in The Alps c. 2013-2015, Hand In Hand finds Félicia building a metaphysical playground on its foundations, meshing recordings and lyrics - found and composed between her home in Brittany and Stockholm’s EMS facilities - into a finely sculpted and dreamlike web of subtle sensations and hyperstisised fiction.
In the process she brings closer together a wide-range of her artistic practices, incorporating elements of sculpture and painting along with sound installation, multichannel diffusion and live performance into her ever-expanding sonic vocabulary and grammar. Whether consumed on headphones or loudspeakers, it’s clear to hear this sharply honed sound sensitivity come into play as her carefully hushed vocals are bathed in placid yet suspenseful tones and almost imperceptibly underlined by an attention to timbral detail and those infrasonic frequencies normally ignored or blithely unattended by other composers within the field.
This all becomes apparent within the first side’s transition from warbling ambient-pop/neo-classical in I’m Following You to a stark contrast of hushed ASMR vocals and Rashad Becker-ish crack-bug electronics in Valis laid over Oren Ambarchi-esque bass tones, and then again into the hyaline gamelan dimensions of Curious In Epidavros, each laced with layers of spectral detail that only reveal themselves after multiple listens, and quite differently in each mode (headphones or speakers).
The dichotomies or paradoxes between the seen/heard/felt and unseen/unheard/elusive continue to beautifully, mystically inform and frame the rest of the album; begging us to chase her vocals around the stereo field of and mazy shimmers of Adaptation Assez Facile into the upside down oddness of Monstera Deliciosa’s rising basses and the curiously erotic lyrics about plants in Visage, before calving off into squashed rhythms with the hymn, A House A Dance A Poem, emerging into the sublime, weightless ambience of Hier Le Désert, and the surreal avian jazz Buchla strokes that resolve No Fear But Anticipation.
In the best way this is a record that is immediate and enduring; transparent yet oblique, riddled with nuance and underlying layers that keener listeners will discover in their own time.
One of Drexciya's most sought-after and definitive "storms" finally reissued for those that need it.
Originally released in 2002, 'Harnessed The Storm' yields timeless anthems such as the devastating 'Digital Tsunami' - leaves us an emotional wreck every time - and the unfathomable mystery of 'Under Sea Disturbances' alongside signature enigmas like 'Mission to Ociya Syndor and Back' or the heart-breaking melodies of 'Birth Of New Life'. Trust us and everyone else: it's essential.
Dome’s groundbreaking debut album ‘1’ is finally available as a standalone vinyl reissue via Editions Mego. Comprising Wire’s Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis, Dome formed during Wire’s 1980-84 hiatus, creating their own recording space in Eric Radcliffe’s legendary Blackwing Studios (Depeche Mode, Yazoo), where they would pursue and recombine myriad musical interests to become one of post-punk’s most definitive, influential and endlessly inventive bands.
Truly taking to the idea of studio as instrument, Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis used their Dome set-up to generate some of the uncanniest music of their generation. Using the usual guitar and drums, plus synths and lots of tape manipulation, they effectively combined avant-garde experimentation with a pop nous, resulting in strikingly unique songs such as their incredible, signature ‘Cruel When Complete’ featuring the haunting vocals of Angela Conway aka. A.C. Marias, along with oblique noise sculptures such as ‘Ampnoise’ and seminal freaks like ‘Rolling Upon My Day’ which do it all in the space of one track.
‘Dome 1’ was the first of three Dome LPs released on the band’s eponymous label between 1980-81, along with other notables such as the incredible Michael O’Shea album and A.C. Marias’ ‘Drop / So’, which all bore the spooky, spacious hallmarks and air-bending tones of Dome’s studio. It catalogues the first experiments of what, to our mind, was one of the most intriguing and esoteric bodies of work from the early 80’s, combining the artschool sensibilities of Gilbert - who was in his mid '30s by this point - with a post-punk awareness shared by Lewis. They captured the ideal - shared by so many yet achieved by so few - of reaching a kind of avant-pop utopia. 40 years later, it still sounds like nothing else.
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.
Shelter Press and INA GRM join forces for the first in a new series of annual publications focused on music theory and thinking covering a wide spectrum of ideas. The first volume features articles written by Félicia Atkinson, François Bayle, François J. Bonnet, Drew Daniel, Brunhild Ferrari, Beatriz Ferreyra, Stephen O’Malley, Jim O’Rourke, Eliane Radigue, Régis Renouard Larivière, Espen Sommer Eide, Daniel Teruggi and Chris Watson…
"This book has been conceived as both a prism and a manual. Following the “traditional” arc of electroacoustic composition (listen—record—compose—deploy—feel), each of the contributions collected together here focuses in on a personal aspect, a fragment of that thrilling territory that is sonic and musical experimentation.
Although the term “experimental music” may now have be understood as referring to a genre, or even a particular style, we ought to hold on to the original use of this term, which was based more on an approach than on any particular aesthetic line to be followed. The experimental is first and foremost a spirit, the spirit of the exploration of unknown territories, a spirit of invention which sees musical composition more as a voyage into uncertain territories than as a self-assured approach working safe within the bosom of fully mapped out and recognized lands.
Contents of volume one are as follows:
1. Chris Watson: Recording
2. Brunhild Ferrari: The Microphone’s Gaze
3. Espen Sommer Eide: Exercices d’écoute non-humaine
4. Beatriz Ferreyra: Perceive, Feel, Hear…
5. Drew Daniel: Towards a Heterology of Sound: on Bataille and Musique Concrète
6. Eliane Radigue: Time Is of No Importance
7. Stephen O’Malley: Sound Matters
8. François J. Bonnet: Underneath Listening
9. Jim O’Rourke: Chair and Table
10. Régis Renouard Larivière: Acousmatic Recreations
11. Daniel Teruggi: Spaces of Mind
12. Félicia Atkinson: On the Patio: The Voice, Doubt, Perspective and Immersion
13. François Bayle: Space in Question
This is pushing so many buttons for us right now; recordings of flutes and electronics from Brooklyn’s John Also Bennett aka JAB on his debut solo album ‘Erg Herbe’, echoing a fine tradition of loft-based, downtown NYC minimalism and new age ambience that references classic work by La Monte Young and Laurie Speigel as well as quieter intimations of Dominique Lawalrée or Takehisa Kosugi and Bennett’s regular collaborator Jon Gibson. The results are deeply beautiful, in a manner everyone has by now come to expect from the wonderful Shelter Press.
A decade in the works, ‘Erg Herbe’ follows 2018’s enchantingly elusive CV & JAB album as John Also Bennett’s 2nd release for Felicia Atkinson and Bartolemé Sanson’s widely adored label. It finds the Brooklyn-based artist in gentle pursuit of a sound which best represents his sense of self, using an array of flutes and synthesisers to imbue a distinguished sense of character into his music in much the same way as the original downtown heroes whose footsteps he follows, with the humble yet ambitious goal to, in his own words; “…create nice, strange, and thoughtful music that reflects a genuine inner vision of self.”
In a patient and patently soulful manner befitting of those minimalist and ambient pioneers, Bennett physically breathes life into the album on a C flute, Alto flute, and rare Chinese dizi flute, suspended in space with the gaseous tonal hues of a Yamaha DX711-D, Yamaha CS Reface and Roland Super JV-1080, plus Farfisa Organ. The effect is intoxicatingly rich yet modest, eliding new age spiritual concerns with minimalism’s more scholastic approach - using modified Aphex Twin presets played with a just intonation tuning system, and oscillators “tuned to intuitive structures using intervals of 30Hz” to generate warm and deeply heady harmonic sensations.
Underlying and tying this all together is the album’s title, ‘Erg Herbe’, an invented turn of phrase - erg meaning a sea of desert sand dunes, and herbe being french for grass - mirroring the music’s dreamy imagery of rolling green landscapes and blue/pink/orange skies. From the radiant warmth of the opener, to the pastoral waltz of ‘Jacob’s House’, thru the 12 minutes centrepiece of ‘Distant Patterns’ with its raga-like flute and pillowy pads, to the chance midnight meeting of flutes in ‘Chanterai por mon coraige’, recorded in a decrepit mill near the Shelter Press HQ, we’re left zoned out and deeply tuned in to his gorgeous, transcendent music.
Sweden’s Johanna Knutsson steps away from Berlin techno and into a pastoral sublime with the natural, utopian scenes of her debut solo album
“Tollarp Transmissions is a deeply personal and moving album created by Johanna Knutsson. Closing herself off from the flutter of the outside world in her Berlin studio, Johanna has painted a series of melancholic yet warm pictures of her childhood for Kontra-Musik. Johanna grew up in the small hamlet of Tollarp in the south of Sweden, surrounded by fields, forests and silence – a priced commodity not to be found in Berlin. Each track is named after a physical memory of Tollarp, the intro Vramsån, for instance, is named after a stream close to Johanna’s home and heart. Befittingly, the first timbres of Vramsån remind one of Tuba Mirum from Mozart’s Requiem, solemnly played by an old ice cream truck. A sound every child in Sweden knows. Tollarp Transmissions is not a grand Requiem, however. It’s a heartbreaking Reminiscence.
A crisp winter night blasted with stars. A child’s neck bent upwards in amazement, creaking snow beneath her feet. The stars singing to her in voices no-one else can hear. Change of scene. A summer’s day is slowly dying. The low humming of sated insects. Bursts of muffled laughter from a nearby porch. The shadowy forest marching slowly on the neatly trimmed lawns. The difference between hiding and getting lost is obscured by the silent trees. Change of scene. A mighty storm ravaging the barren forest and the sleeping fields. A branch crashing rhythmically against the windowsill of the blacked out kitchen. The grownups are tense, the child secretly enamoured with the wind. Change of scene. The stars are silenced by the lights of the city. She must sing to them now.”
First time vinyl pressing of Chris Carter’s live record ‘Disobedient’, which appeared as part of the ‘Miscellany’ vinyl boxset earlier this year, and is now available as standalone release.
Recorded live on the Blast First, Disobey tour in 1995, compiled from gigs in Manchester, London and Vienna, the results were digitally remastered at Carter’s Norfolk studio and released in 1998.
In Carter’s distinctive style the vibe is brooding but not gothic, tending to an eldritch conception of English darkness that resonates with his influences such as the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and his years in the late ‘60s working for various UK TV stations as a sound engineer.
First time vinyl pressing of Chris Carter’s 1999 ambient-techno mission ‘Small Moon’, which appeared as part of the ‘Miscellany’ vinyl boxset earlier this year, and is now available as standalone release.
Now 20 years old, the sleek ambient techno fittings and fluid contours of ‘Small Moon’ spoke to an techgnostic eldritch conception of English “darkness” as much as the palpable feeling of PMT in the air back then - everyone shit-scared their cooker’s clock wouldn’t work (and maybe their computer might explode) when the dates flipped from 1999 into 2000.
Mercifully we all lived to tell the tale of the millennium (it was massively underwhelming), and so did ‘Small Moon’, a collection of meandering cuts featuring Carter swimming thru the wires between hypnotic, purring basses, glistening webs of filigree electronics, meditative voices and pharmaceutically effective atmospheres.
Berlin’s dark techno stalwart, Kareem commits a gloomily satisfying 2nd album of gothic drone and depth charge percussion with ‘Garden Of Time’, leading on from 2013’s ‘Porto Ronco’ LP for The Death of Rave
First performed at Sam Kerridge’s Contort #15 in Berlin, 2015, and recently rearranged and extended for this release, ‘The Garden of Time’ presents a stealthy evolution of Kareem’s first longform attempt at this style, back with 2015’s ‘Porto Ronco’. Where that release absorbed listeners in its stark linearity, this new album is more layered and given to shifting, weathered moods, avoiding formalism through a broader palette of references to sub genres ranging from dark ambient to computer music and rhythmic noise.
These are essentially the sounds Kareem dreams about in between making some of the finest dark techno known to humankind. ‘Inhale’ unmistakably reflects a nocturnal Berlin environment, but soberly so, as though perched beyond the gurning milieu in the city’s freezing dry cold, absorbing its sferic spirits and multi kulti makeup in shocks of processed outernational instrumentation and dissonant noise alarms. ‘The garden of Time’ follows more aggressively with eruption of broken toothed rhythm kicking off a stygian trudge into sombre, dank ambient and flashes of olde Berlin cabaret.
First ever digital issue of Chris Carter's solo follow-up to the legendary 'Spaces Between'
Originally issued on LP in 1985, 'Mondo Beat' stars one of the Throbbing Gristle lynchpin's most recognisable solo tracks, the proto-New Beat and Industrial classic, 'Moonlight', plus five further tracks of highly advanced productions, taking in the flash stabs and body-contorting beats of 'Real Life', the extra-tropical electro elan of 'Noevil', experimental cut-ups on 'Nobadhairdo', and the noisy, psychosexual EBM tripper 'Beyond Temptation'. We need say no more; this is a total must-have for all wave psychonauts and techno dancers!
Remastered 2019 cut of a proper 1995 jungle rinse-out, courtesy of Dublin’s Foxy Jangle - a sublabel of Rua Sound
Originally intended for full pressing on 24 Karat, the atom-smashing Amen choppage of ‘Pow / Thunder’ never saw it past the promo stage, with the 2nd hand white labels now going for price of some shiny TNs, but packing twice the amount of steppers’ boing.
A-side starts out calm and cool enough with ragga chat and rolling steppers breaks, but all heck burkes loose when the Amens kick in - run for cover or skank for your life. B-side plays it gangster cool as well with boogie soul vibign intro, then crisply rugged with the breaks and dread bass.
Richard D James' classic album from 1992, re-pressed countless times but still sounding as vital as it did way back when. Still probably the most uplifting and nostalgic thing in the AFX catalogue...
Best electronic music album of the late 20th century. A proper gateway drug to the myriad microcosms of Richard D. James a.k.a. Aphex Twin. 100% essential in any collection.
Grubby, slimy dread slugs produced on a no input mixer by Zurich’s Simon Grab, hitting a squelch rut of sub 100bpm torpor for the -OUS label
“Simon Grab’s «Extinction» is the opening act of his long-term project «Pulse», in which he creates soundscapes and noises of an imagined posthuman environment.
His dark organic sonic creatures build up on a dense conglomeration of pulsating frequencies, produced with a reduced «no-input-mixing» setup. The self-oscillating system unveals a vast richness of notorious feedbacks, bursts of noise and tender tones. The signals speak in their own voices as they incarnate the network of machines they originate from.
As the status quo is defined as temporary and transient, Simon Grab captures the sound of his circuits in live recording sessions.”
Mouse On Mars’ Jan St. Werner in typically playful but studious form, presenting an LP version of his radio installation commissioned by the dokumenta 14 event in Athens
“Jan St. Werner is a critically acclaimed and internationally recognized sound innovator. In a myriad of ways – as a solo artist, a collaborator, through his group Mouse On Mars, as a producer, as a lecturer at MIT, or as a professor of Dynamic Acoustic Research at the Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremburg - Werner has challenged traditional approaches to creating and experiencing music. The sixth installment of his Fiepblatter Catalogue series, Glottal Wolpertinger, endeavors to transcribe the phenomenon of sound as anarchic and highly sensitive material. His multilayered presentation of the project highlights the ways in which sound and music can fluctuate and re-constitute depending on context all within one consistent work. In keeping with the series’ collaborative nature, the pieces include contributions from guitarists Aaron & Bryce Dessner of The National, who Werner also collaborated with on Mouse On Mars’ Dimensional People, and The National’s Sleep Well Beast and I Am Easy To Find.
Glottal Wolpertinger was initially conceived as a radio installation for documenta 14, the world's most renowned event for contemporary arts, with each of the tracks broadcasting individually over the course of ten weeks and culminating in a convergence of all eight tracks at a performance in Athens. The pieces consist of microtonally tuned feedback, multispectral drones which Werner modulated and filtered with a purposeful, and indeed vocalized, emphasis given to the different frequencies and textures used. By naming the individual frequency bands, Werner defies traditional tuning systems and instead centers the piece on collaging variable elements. Sonic elements churn and sprawl across the tracks in constant motion. Their drones, combatting for space, entangle one another and oscillate into overtones that shift, build, and wither with fluid motion that blurs the line between consonance and dissonance.
Glottal Wolpertinger’s incarnation as a recording is no less potent than its preceding forms, but serves as a continuation of the project’s evolution as a distinct listening experience. Werner’s apt title for the project embellishes the ambiguity and cognitive dissonance inherent with the work, as the wolpertinger is a creature of European myth which is said to be the mutated result of different species breeding under special circumstances in the Alps. Glottal intonations are those produced by the guttural and throat region of the body, the center of organic sound. According to Werner, the wolpertingers are “bastards, collaged freaks who exist in the grey zone of nature’s perfect plan,” the same grey zone in which his pieces live.”