Torn Hawk’s spirit quest reveals proper aerobic mystic goodness under the wonderfully suggestive title Men With No Memory, following up the dramas of his Union & Return album with four genre-agnostic turns folding EBM, psyche and dub into striking new prisms that hold up to dancefloor pressure and closer scrutiny at home.
The title track kicks off the first plate with a fugged-up whorl of country guitars and lurching dub nodding at Sun Araw before spiking out with taut EBM drums that really come into play on the B-side’s Poser, one of the rudest, sickest electro cuts we’ve heard this side of Gesloten Cirkel’s album in recent times.
With Butterfly Knives opens the 2nd disc into a flanging metallic wormhole sounding something like a disco on the other side of the TV in Cronenberg Videodrome, then spitting us out at the psychey new wave enigma Stealing Geodes From The Nature Company, and the natty closer, Not Quite Music.
RIYL Beau Wanzer, Gesloten Cirkel, Willie Burns for daaaaays
Carsten Nicolai and Ryoji Ikeda’s seminal minimalist project is now finally available to download. Originally issued on CD and LP in 2001, cyclo.’s . was, and more or less still is, the last word in purest, stoically funked-up digital sound pressure.
“cyclo. is a collaborative research project by Ikeda and Nicolai which focuses on the visualisation of sound. The artists are developing a database of sounds that they are composing for the visual responses these produce when analysed in real time using equipment developed originally for phase correlation in mastering vinyl records. With such stereo image monitoring equipment, the phase and amplitude of stereo signals can be illustrated graphically.
The audio elements have been constructed and chosen through agendas concerned with the minute editing of frequencies (often beyond the physical range of human hearing) and the perceptual amassing of audio elements to an undefined point. For Nicolai and Ikeda an 'infinity index’ of sound fragments is a conscious motivation forming the basis of their research and feeding cyclo. with the audio material required for visuality.
In amassing this archive, Nicolai and Ikeda transcend the usual dynamic whereby image acts merely as a functional accompaniment to sound. They arrive at a standpoint from which the audio element in the process is subservient to the desire and appetite of the image. Although this imaging is purely 2-D in display, the process proposes 3-D possibilities. Their proposition is that the structural complexities of these visual metered shapes, born and examined from the perspective of audio metering, may have in them a rich potential for architects, designers and engineers to find starting points for structural readings.”
Class debut of lucidly imaginative and abstract electroscapes from Manchester’s Andy Brown aka AB2020; making his maiden mission on Sheffield’s Computer Club with the Cybotronian industrial sci-fi soundtrack styles of Sagittarius.
Built atom by atom in his hardware-filled pod and conducted with a proper, late night sense of dramaturgy, Sagittarius covers a lot of ground within AB2020’s chosen dimension - taking the listener from Alice Coltrane-like string sweeps and alien bleeps in Lacu to the Carpenter-esque finale of Nuworlds via the synaesthetic tweaks of Permafrost and pulsating Drexciyan techno in the two parts of Subsurface Ocean plus a smart dose of clipped electro acid on Terraform and some excellent pieces of chromatic techno mystery in Cogewn and Exic that recall Jeff Mills’ recent deep space explorations.
Torn Hawk’s 1st release for the No ‘Label’ outta A’dam frames four more wistful aspects of the producer’s wandering soul, racking up the chromatic psych-boogie bump of Motivation & Reward next to the blunted, acidic, cosmic chugger Greystain, the slompy, screwed grind of Nicenails, and Strikeinside’s electro slime trail.
Circa 2000 aka William Wiffen presents his debut album 'Thought In Vias' on Computer Club, a journey for the ears and hearts of electronic connoisseurs.
"These are the sounds of an electrical engineering graduate and accomplished musician, from Bridlington to Brighton, via a unique autobahn of analogue synth sounds. Haunting modulation with finely detuned oscillators sweep through the tracks, glued together with relaxed improvisation.
Provoking feelings of Depeche Mode, Air, Neu!, Tangerine Dream and including the killer track 'Fall All Over The Place', 'Thoughts In Vias' is 40 minutes of genuine kosmische Musik.”
Len Faki puts his weight behind two remixes of Aleksi Perälä colundi sequenced techno bangers.
In Faki's hands, GBBVT133715 is reinforced with horse-powered bass for the all-night steeds in a Hardspace Mix, whereas he focusses on the colundi sequence’s strange tunings in the elegantly balanced canter and hyaline harmonics with trips effect in UK74R1409047 (Deepspace Mix).
Classy counterpart to Design A Wave's deviant disco debut for Rush Hour's searching 'No' Label. Like the first one, the tracks here are pure, instantly gratifying, dancefloor gems ranging from Balihu-esque disco sway on 'Neanderthal Nyquist' to Kraftwerkian electro in 'Movie Of Helipad', and over to the wheezing punk-funk of 'Auto-Resonance Machine' and an instrumental of 'Cerebellum' off the 1st EP. RIYL Heatsick, Mordant Music, John Maus.
Swaaangin’ electro-boogaloo from 1986, produced by Lo Joe and Electro Wayne (whaddaname!) for Circuit Shock Productions.
Features the Kraftwerkian gasps, old skool hip hop/soul vocals and twanging bass juice of She’s Just That Type Of Girl in original and instrumental mixes, backed with the in-the-pocket funk of Under Pressure on the other one, with a lead hook that uncannily recalls *that* Edwyn Colllins song from a decade later. Go figure.
Further to his box-jacking session on Part 1, Massimiliano Pagliara diversifies his bonds into seesawing, beat-less kosmiche/trance arpeggios in Devoid of Dimension Pt.2
With a supple voltage control recalling Lorenzo Senni or COH’s recent Plays Everall LP in Unspoken, and like a long-lost Global Communication vignette in Unseen.
After showing up on Ostgut Ton with Time And Again, Massimiliano Pagliara returns to Live At Robert Johnson with Devoid of Dimension Pt.1
Jacking up a tidy fuss between the raw Chicago drums and piquant arpeggios of Free At Last and the bendy electro-boogie swang of Unstoppable Trajectory on the front, and swerving from smoother Larry Heard-on-the-Adriatic vibes in Blue Eyes to the sleazy strut of Small Town Life on the back.
Pauline Oliveros surrounded by Belgian ensemble Musiques Nouvelles, performing 2 long pieces for orchestra.
"Sound Geometries for Chamber Orchestra, Expanded Instrument System and 5.1 Surround Sound System by Pauline Oliveros was premiered in Brussels. The 3 sections metaphors of the piece are intended to guide the players in their feelings and approaches to conducted, guided and improvisational music making to create differing atmospheres for each of the three sections. Players sounds are picked up during the performance by microphones, processed in one of ten geometrical patterns by the Oliveros designed Expanded Instrument System (EIS). to transform and move the player's sounds in space in the 5.1 surround sound system.
Meditation for Orchestra asks the performers to listen then sound. Listen means to include all that is sounding and to find a space for each sound that is made. Pauline Oliveros and Ione are guests of Ensemble Musiques Nouvelle in this studio performance of Meditation.”
Japanese composer/demi-god Ryuichi Sakamoto presents an exquisitely oneiric and elusively spiritual new album inspired as much by the sound sculptures of Harry Bertoia as the magic of Andrei Tarkovsky’s seminal septet of celluloid classics.
It’s been some years since Sakamoto has placed his name at the top of a solo album proper - as opposed to his swathes of collaborations and film scores - and we can promise that the results herein are definitely worth the wait.
Imagined and realised after a period of fright with his health, Async captures Mr. Sakamoto at his most wistful and wonderful, meditating on the existentialist, ontological themes and atmospheres of Tarkovsky’s work from both a gauzily impressionistic aspect, and a quite literal one, employing readings of Tarkovsky’s poetry (poem transcribed in the liner notes) in a variety of languages from a coterie of contemporaries including long time collaborators David Sylvian, Bernardo Bertolucci (for whom he composed the OST for The Last Emperor) and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), among others.
Embracing both the fluidity and flux of Tarkovsky’s water analogies as well as the harmonic chaos of Harry Bertoia’s lush metal rod clangour, Sakamoto melds feather touch acoustic keys with field recordings, shimmering electronic patinas and signature synthesiser flourishes in a suite that beautifully lives up to and even transcends its influences, revealing some of the most achingly emotive yet often abrasive and abstract work in a catalogue now spanning over 40 years of exemplary work.
Beyond maybe Scott Walker, we can hardly think of another artist who has continued to expand their oeuvre over such a long period of time, and with an appeal quite like this, albeit respectively unique to their work. But Sakamoto really is in a league of his own here, utterly absorbing us with the dappled keys, organ haze and stereo starting doom synths of Andata, thru the stark Sonambient emulations of Disintegration to the romance of ZURE and the almost Toshiya Tsunoda-esque sensitivity of his field recordings woven into Walker or Honj, with humbling moments to be discovered in the switch from disorienting cinematic dialogue in Fullmoon to the legit Ligeti style violence of Async, and again in the curdled chromatics of FF and the Gas-eous swells swirling about Garden.
Addendum to Latvian artpop group, NSRD’s Workshop For The Restoration Of Unfelt Feelings compilation, STROOM 〰 give up 4.5 ‘floor ready examples of hot-wired, off-kilter takes on acid house and synthwave compatible with freaky late ‘80s new beat and early ‘90s euro-techno-pop mutations.
Yet another peach plucked by STROOM 〰, NSRD covers a blind-spot in the general knowledge of Baltic electronic music during the ’89-’92 house phenomena. A-side gives up the suave but daft swerve of Neskaties , a rickety sort of acid house that sounds perhaps closer to original Chi templates and the warped EBM/industrial of Smersh, for example, than much other stuff from that period. Ziemeļbriežu pajūgā pa Rīgas jūras līci  follows on a wistful sort of Larry Heard tip, following more jagged lines of inquiry with a fizzy fuss and finale recalling Novo Line’s Atari ST mutations.
B-side, Spilvens  commits a more brooding, romantic blend of folksong and endearingly cranky, lo-fi darkwave pop with cold baroque flutes and nuff ferric wow-and-flutter, and Augu nakti. Kādā rītā. Šovakar hears them stretch out on a jacking sort of primitive, woozily melodic techno-pop.
After being enchanted by Sugai Ken’s UkabazUmorezU LP for RVNG Intl, we play catch up with the Japanese artist’s On The Quakefish album from last year, issued by the excellent Lullabies For Insomniacs label who were also behind that mental Lazslo Hortobaygi reissue.
Here, we’re privy to another array of deliquescent electronics and mercurial hooks, framing Ken’s vision of the Japanese nightscape with absorbingly evocative, impressionistic effect. Based in Kanagawa, Japan, on the edge of the Tokyo megatropolis, Ken draws from his surroundings to paint immersive scenes in succinct, pointillist dashes and vaporous strokes that dissolve into acres of enigmatic, negative space.
Quite boldly, Ken is unafraid to embrace sounds perhaps unfamiliar to the classic Japanese records we’ve heard, or the swell of ambient/new age reissues from that region. He freely vacillates these stranger, abstract sounds with more conventional gestures in a way that adroitly brings his subject - the Japanese night - to life in a way that doesn’t simply soothe the listener, but keeps their ears intrigued, moving around the sound sphere attempting to locate their possible sources.
This effect relates to the Zen tradition of Satori, “imagining circumstances and atmospheres that are so silent, one can hear the sounds of the wind and water streaming”. For us this effect also recalls the studied audness of Rashad Becker’s Traditional Music For Notional Species, as much as Luc Ferrari’s poetic concrète scapes, or a very canny first person computer game or avant-garde film soundtrack; exactly the kind of stuff to bed down with during long, dark winter nights over here.
Young Marco’s Safe Trip does the business again with CZ-5000 Sounds & Sequences, a heart warming flush of archive material by identical Japanese twins, Satoshi & Makoto, recorded at home on the titular Casio synth c. early ‘90s. Follows very much in suit with the nostalgic appeal of Darling’s JPS and the volumes of Italian Dream House before that, another perfect addition to the label.
As the story goes, Satoshi & Makoto were big fans of anime and cartoon soundtrack as kids, and used to mess around on their ma’s Yamaha Electone keyboard. Fast fwd a few years, and a promise to work hard at school if their parents bought them a synth came to fruition, with the two sharing the same model of Casio CZ-5000 ever since.
Their nascent recordings with the CZ-5000 lay untouched for decades until the twins uploaded them as synth demos to YouTube, where Young Marco saw them and was so enamoured with the sound that he released this LP.
We could sit here all day referencing obvious analogs for this record, but its better heard as a genuine document of private, fraternal connections and non-verbal dialogue, almost like listening to a family photo album or the fantasy soundtrack to a computer game or anime that was never made.
An Anthology Of Noise & Electronic Music Vol. 1 begins in the 1920s, with the Russolo Brothers, and looks at each decade in turn -- Varése, Cage, Schaeffer, Xenakis, the great pioneers -- and shows the first traces of a music that was necessarily revolutionary: electronic music, created from nothing (and hence to be entirely invented).
Some pieces on these CDs are certainly classics, but there are others, which, though old, were distributed informally or never even released. The more contemporary pieces are, wherever possible, previously unreleased. In fact, more than the half of the tracklisting is unreleased and unpublished.
Artists include: Luigi & Antonio Russolo, Walter Ruttman, Pierre Schaeffer, Henri Pousseur, Gordon Mumma, Angus Maclise, Tony Conrad & John Cale, Philip Jeck, Otomo Yoshihide & Martin Tétreault, Survival Research Laboratories, Einsturzende Neubauten, Konrad Boehmer, Nam June Paik, John Cage, Sonic Youth, Edgard Varése, Iannis Xenakis, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, Pauline Oliveros, Ryoji Ikeda.
Up until the incredible "A Period of Review" reissue via RVNG Intl.last year we hadn't even heard of Kerry Leimer, yet that compilation and it’s astonishing followup, this years "Artificial Dance” set under Leimer’s ‘Savant’ alias, introduced us to one of the most fascinating and prolific producers of the era, operating at the cusp of ambient, 4th World and industrial musics.
From his base in Seattle, Leimer accumulated a unique catalogue of recordings created on a Micromoog, drum machines, guitars and FX units, and heavily informed by imported Krautrock/kosmische titles sourced outta NME and Melody Maker, and equally the more Anglophilic ambient loop compositions of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno.
This beautiful new double LP via Vinyl On Demand focuses on Leimer's earliest work and has once again left us dumbstruck, offering a genuinely remarkable addition to the canon of early '80s electronic/new age/4th world experimentalism, sitting very comfortably alongside some of the richest, most engrossing ambient music of the era.
Leimer's first two tape recordings are included and were released on Robert Carlberg's Anode Productions in 1978 and '79 (Translucent / Memory and Natural History / The Mind and Its Likeness). The set also includes material from the 1983 cassette Installation View. As Leimer himself offers: "It's best to consider these recordings as a homage to much admired and deeply loved music of the time; to consider these recordings as the artifacts of lessons being learned during simultaneous attempts at conceiving, writing, voicing, engineering, recording, and mixing something that might at least seem to be music. It's also best to consider that the one card that repeatedly found its way out of the Oblique Strategies deck and into my hands prevented me from erasing almost all of it: Honor thy mistake as a hidden intention.”
It all makes for one of the most engrossing ambient-era collections we’ve come across - give the clips below a listen and you’ll hopefully know exactly what we mean. Huge recommendation.
Following suit from last Christmas' 'Truant', Hyperdub present three new pieces from the shadowy producer.
It's a fine salve for seasonal woes, ripping loose with running man-style rave breaks and darkcore motifs across the dystopian sonic fiction of A-side, 'Rival Dealer', whilst the flipside reveals a whole new dimension to his sound with the soaring harmonies, twinkling chime-trees and '80s power drums of 'Hiders' and the tortuous, cinematically edited narration of 'Come Down To Us'.
The heads will have a feast picking this one apart - what's up with all the references to sexuality or his newfound penchant for FM synth sounds? - and we can practically hear the synch departments licking their lips in anticipation already… but ultimately the sincerity and delivery still brings a salty bead to the duct. You know what to do.
Call Super cocks a 2nd album of increasingly squirrelly electronics for Houndstooth, secreting the glittering nuts and bolts of his sound in a more fluid and dynamic brand of ambient techno mechanics.
Arriving three years on from his Suzi Ecto album, and a string of well-received DJ sets, solo 12”s and a collaboration with Beatrice Dillon over the interim, Arpo gathers Call Super’s recent studio thoughts in one place, coursing from mercurial IDM to jazzy flights of fancy and oneiric electro with a meticulous production style that’s become his trademark.
The ghosts of the 4th World, Red Planet martians, Irdiallian enigmas and golden era Warp haunt Arpo’s diffuse dimensions from the first chimes and clarinet plumes of Arpo thru the smoky electro-jazz of Out To Rust, following a silvery thread of logic that weaves between early hours dancefloor mindsets and late hours home listening from the glitchy hunch of OK Werkmeister to the sloshing brownian glitter of Music Stand, embracing Ethiopiques jazz in Arpo Sunk, and gently insistent future electro-funk with No Wonder We Go Under, and the hyaline electro-soul rubs of I Look Like I Look In A Tinfoil Hat.
Burial cements his busiest year on record with Pre Dawn/Indoors, forming a rare moonlight session away from Hyperdub for Boddika’s Nonplus.
This is Burial as warehouse shadow dancer, properly committed to the heavy hours of the rave. Pre Dawn rolls out at 140bpm with something like Tango & Ratty’s “lost” garage project, as heard under a corrugated roof beaten by acid rain. The first breakdown could have feasibly appeared on some Untrue cut, while the final passage of soul-smacking pads and distant gabber kicks delivers the classic Bevan shiver.
Indoors is perhaps meant to be what’s behind those booming kicks, on the other side of the door. Initially, furtively elegiac, it comes off as the more hardcore of the two thanks to a nagging vocal and marching, technoid rhythm, so vividly evocative of a steaming, classic rave in full rush that it’s no wonder Burial doesn’t bother with promo videos.
The complete work by Luc Ferrari for films from 1960 to 1984 including electronic pieces, concrete music made in GRM and some hybrid including traditional instruments. An In-depth survey of the concrète poet/artist/thinker’s works for films, comprising eight durational pieces, and including the 73 minute ‘Chronopolis’
“This 3CD set gathers the complete work by Luc Ferrari for films from 1960 to 1984 including electronic pieces, concrete music made in GRM and some hybrid including traditional instruments.
Very rare pieces, most are unpublished (with collaboration with Jean Cocteau ou Jean Tinguely...), this is for the very first time the complete scope of one of the most innovative composer of the XX century.
Including 2 lighting texts by two writers and critics Philippe Langlois (Les Cloches d'Atlantis) and Guillaume Contré, some rare photograms from films and some handwritings notes by Ferrari himself.”
The Basic Channel don meets the folk musicians of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for a beguiling exchange and fusion of traditions crossing paths between haunting acapella vocals, virtuosic instrumentation and sublime, dub-wise 4th world panoramas.
Locating MVO diversifying his bonds along outernational vectors, just like his BC bandmate Mark Ernestus with Ndagga Rhythm Force or Obadiah, the results form a series of studio portraits and wistful, impressionistic abstractions. They transport us to a place well off the usual map, to rugged lands once crossed by The Silk Road, where preserved, ancient traditions still reveal ghostly traces of the voices and sonic cultures which passed thru them.
The original arrangements of Ordo Sakhna range from complex, airborne string flights to nerve-jangling mouth harp pieces and a few stunning acapella pieces, which to our untrained ears resemble both Middle eastern, Indian classical and Chinese traditions, whilst the Drums track would appear to catch MVO in lissom fusion with live percussionists.
The multiple MVO dubs are a huge attraction, too. None more than the jaw-dropping Facets, where drums are swept in mountainous dynamic across the stereo field, joined by Hassell-esque dream tones and twanging mouth harp in one of the master’s most abstract, mercurial works in memory, whilst Bishkek, May 2016 catches them in live form at the Kyrgyzstan edition of Unsound festival, and the rolling Draught, and its version frame the spirits of Ordo Sakhna in his signature dub techno style, with results comparable to Shackleton when he removes the straight kicks.
Subliminal transportation systems from Stelzer Murray, a pair of individually prolific avant-garde artists from Boston, making their overdue debut collaboration with Connector; an immersive flow of lower case texturhythms and microtonal drone recommended to anyone who’s been snagged by Jim HJaynes’ atmospheric works or the quietest enigmas by Kevin Drumm or Zoviet*France.
“Stelzer brings to the table an array of mangled and partially demagnetized tape; and Murray brings his knack for compacted harmonics, obfuscated field recordings, and long-view compositional strategies. An irradiated, almost Kirlian glow permeates Connector through the duo's slow accretions and erosions amidst the soaring crescendos of compacted tone and vacant shadows of mechanical thrum. On occasion, rasping saw tooth frequencies and oblique synth-noise phrases stridently pop in a clinical opposition against the field of hiss. Screaming cascades from ice storms. Tape symphonies from urban blight. Life-support machines at the point of obsolescence.
In describing the process of building this album, Stelzer reflected, "When you've known someone for this long, the act of collaboration is like conversation over dinner; you don't fuss over it or worry about it; it's stress free, even instinctual like exhaling."
Good things come to those who wait.”