"Lucy Gooch’s music is a beautiful ethereal fog; like hearing a subliminal echo of Kate Bush on a fading tape loop, masked by an internal wall of sound that vibrates with the hum of everyday life."
"Rain's Break is her first release for Fire, following the much-touted ‘Rushing’ EP. Inspired by the early technicolour films of Powell and Pressburger, Lucy uses synthesisers and vocal layering to concentrate elements of each film’s score and narrative into songs which move through different moods of yearning and renewal. So, it is amidst 1940’s austerity that these films were an escape, an over-rich backdrop of possibilities. A snatched piece of dialogue, the film’s score, the crackle of uncertainty all succumbs to the layered ambience of Lucy’s music as she traces moods of yearning and renewal on ‘Rain’s Break’ EP. Originally from Norfolk, Lucy studied Fine Art and later moved to Bristol to join the emerging ambient scene there - gradually developing her writing and finally releasing her debut ‘Rushing’ EP in early 2020. Over the past year, she’s dipped into a wealth of long gone celluloid as the basis for a filmic journey, a five song EP that relives formative movies in her unique take on ecclesiastical pop."
A sentimental trip into the world of Don and Moki Cherry's Organic Music Theatre, a collaboration proposed as an alternative space for creative music and art. "Festival de jazz de Chateauvallon 1972" is a recording of the group's historic debut performance marks a joyful period in the Cherrys' lives.
Accompanied by musicians Naná Vasconcelos, Christer Bothén and Doudou Gouirand and Danish puppeteers Det Lilla Cirkus, Don and Moki laid out their life philosophy to French festivalgoers on this extended set. The performed outdoors and were joined onstage by a handful of friends, both adults and children, who danced and sang as the band played. The duo's message was clear: they wanted to bring people together.
This was the period that Don Cherry had rejected his former status as a jazz titan, jettisoning his career in favor of a more mysterious existence in rural Sweden with his wife and family. But as "Organic Music Theatre" illustrates, it wasn't a rejection of music, but of the art world's oppressive hierarchy, that was central to his decision. The music here, a frolicking fusion of Indian, African, South American and Native American forms that feel charged with an almost spiritual energy, is intimate but universal.
There's little of the avant/free jazz that Cherry cut his teeth pioneering here, rather it's a performance that celebrates the very act of playing in public. The band play challenging pieces - including tracks that would eventually make their way to Cherry's "Organic Music Society" and "Home Boy" albums - but inject them with so much positive energy that their context is shifted completely. It's a privilege to hear this performance from beginning to end and bask in its hopeful energy.
Newly unearthed bonanza of Don Cherry action, capturing an extraordinary free jazz tempest thrown down live in ’68 at a summerhouse south of Stockholm amidst a fecund epoch. Proper, third-eye dilating stuff rife with spontaneous possibility by players from Sweden, Turkey, USA
Part of a tranche of Don Cherry recordings that resurfaced recently from the Swedish Jazz Archive, ‘The Summer House Sessions’ now takes pride of place on its first vinyl pressing, accompanied on the CD by other recordings made the same day. For the first time they reveal a day of incredible energies improvised by Cherry with members of his Swedish ensemble, plus a Turkish drummer, at saxophonist and recording engineer Göran Freese’s summer house in late July, 1968. As many jazz heads will know, this is circa some of Cherry’s most legendary works, spanning a period after he’d cut his teeth playing with Coltrane and setting the template for free jazz with Ornette Coleman’s classic quartet, at a time when his creativity was unbounded and truly definitive of a searching, modal democracy of jazz music that drew from myriad sources.
The two vinyl sides and bonus material bear witness to a remarkable murmuration of sorts, with a swingeing rhythmic drive from the dual drummers underpinning a deeply psychedelic play of colours and pan-ethnic expression derived from Cherry’s pocket sax and flutes, and free-handed air shredding by likes of Bernt Rosengren (tenor saxophone, flutes, clarinet) and Tommy Koverhult (tenor saxophone, flutes). In effect, the recordings prove that Cherry’s preceding lessons for the players in extended forms of improvisations including breathing, drones, Turkish rhythms, overtones, silence, natural voices, and Indian scales had really hit home, triggering the massed ensemble to play with a ruptured, shearing unpredictability, but equally with a rapturous coherence that’s simply everything at once and then some.
Eccentric english composer Gazelle Twin marks her 2nd soundtrack release, and first collaboration with Max De Wardener, with the OST for period horror flick ‘The Power’
One year on from their work on ‘Welcome To The Blumhouse: Nocturne,’ and a decade since her debut release, Gazelle Twin comfortably solidifies her transition into movie scoring on her second effort, tempering her pop proclivities in context of the project while continuing the themes of a blighted Britain from her recent albums. She finds an ideal spar in Max De Wardener, a noted composer for TV and film, who brings a taste for unusual instrumental tonalities to GT’s eldritch electronics, makign for a score that will no doubt please fans of classic Radiophonic Workshop output and the likes of Cosey’s soundtrack for the Delia Derbyshire flick.
First reissue of the fabled 2nd album by organ weilding Ethiopian legend Hailu Mergia and his band, The Walias who single-handedly catalysed the modern Ethiopian music scene from the early ‘70s onward. Totally grooving and vibing gear done in a low-key, in-the-pocket style that graces everything Mergia touches...
“Hardly anyone outside Ethiopia seems to know Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band “Tezeta” exists. Within Ethiopia this tape has been impossible to find for decades. That’s about to change with this release, which makes available this epochal recording on LP, CD and Digital formats for the first time.
From their genesis as members of the Venus club in-house band in the early 70s, Hailu Mergia and the Walias Band were at the forefront of the musical revolution during an era where modern instruments and foreign styles superseded the traditional fare to become the staple sound of Ethiopia. No one would argue that the Walias were the trailblazing powerhouse of modern Ethiopian music.
They were the first band to form independently without affiliation to a theatre house, a club or a hotel; unprecedented and risky as they had to raise all funding for expenses by themselves including buying equipment. They were the first to release full instrumental albums, considered to be commercially unviable at the time. They opened their own recording studio, with band members Melake Gebre and Mahmoud Aman doubling as technical buffs during sessions. They were also the first independent band to tour abroad. In short, they were the pioneers every band tried to emulate; some more successfully than others.
Odds are, any Ethiopian over the age of 35 who had access to TV or radio by the early 90s, will instantly recognize the sound of Walias. What is not a given is, how many would actually identify the band itself. Barely a day went by without hearing the Walias either in the background on radio or as an accompaniment to various programs on TV.
This Tezeta album is the band’s second recording, released in 1975. Sourced by Awesome Tapes From Africa and expertly remastered by Jessica Thompson, its unique and funky renditions of standards and popular songs of the day are so quintessentially Walias, flavorful and evocative. Hailu’s melodic organ, unashamedly front and center in every track, makes even the complex pieces accessible.
Profoundly engaging; it’s an immersive trip down memory lane for those of us getting reacquainted with it, while also an enthralling and gratifying experience for fresh ears. (text by Tessema Tadele)”
Vital primer on Merzbow’s transition from cut-up experiments to polychromatic noise beast, scanning revised and newly unearthed work dating 1992-1995, with post-production in 2019
Ever in flux, Merzbow’s music has come to define the art of noise at its most unpredictable and ravishing. On ‘Scandal’ we hear the legendary avatar for Japan’s Masami Akita at its most intriguing, drawing lines between local construction site noise and astral synth swelter recalling Sun Ra at their loosest, and right thru to patches of briered distortion and pulsating rhythmic noise, plus a piece modelled on a contemporaneous pop song, but with said pop song extinguished to leave the guts and klang behind.
“One critical aspect these recordings capture, in a very essential way, is the role that field recordings and tape manipulation play in his music. Throughout the 1980s, cassettes, tape editing and found sound played a significant role in the development of Merzbow’s sound.
On Tokyo Blue Sky, Merzbow collates a series of field recordings made around his home during a period of construction in his neighbourhood and merges these with sampled recordings from various ritual records. In these recordings are striking, hammered blasts that feel innately tied to the aggressive metal percussion work that was featured heavily on numerous live recordings during this time. They also maintain a sense of dynamic eruption that characterises the shifts between states of intense noise that are the core of Merzbow recording strategies.
The editions final piece Evening Scandal was originally released in 1992 on RRR as part of their recycled music project; a project that sought to reuse thrown away cassettes, re-recording over them with various recordings including some of those heard here. Scandal bares the marks of its medium, tape wow and flutter flicker across various sections of this piece, revealing a tactile relationship with the medium. The version collected here is different to that which was released in 1992, this version being uninterrupted by the pop song from which it borrows its name. This piece, in moments, maintains a decidedly minimalist compositional form, using repeated single strikes as a means of creating a deep sense of unease and recurrent tension. It’s a technique later deployed with devastating ferocity later in the 1990s.”
Carnage is a new album by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, recorded over a period of weeks during lockdown.
"Although the pair have composed & recorded many soundtracks together, and Ellis is a long-term member of The Bad Seeds, this is the first time they have released an entire album of songs as a duo. Cave describes the album as "a brutal but very beautiful record nested in a communal catastrophe."
"Making Carnage was an accelerated process of intense creativity," says Ellis, "the eight songs were there in one form or another within the first two and a half days."
Cave & Ellis' sonic and lyrical adventurism continues apace on Carnage, an album that emerged almost by accident out of the downtime created by the long, anxious, global emergency. Carnage is a record for these uncertain times - one shot through with moments of distilled beauty and that resonates with an almost defiant sense of hope."
Merry drill ’n bass and electronica acrobatics by NYC’s Color Plus, debuting with Brussels’ Slagwerk after turns with Towhead Recordings and Plastician’s Terrorrhythm
They keep it sharp and tight at every angle, dicing with late ‘90s drill ’n bass à la AFX or Pearsquasher in the hypermelodic, ADD rushes of ‘Parsec,’ ‘Gum’ and ‘Memoria,’ the latter of which also feels a pull of influence from Lorenzo Senni’s scything trance synths, which equally inform the swooning shape of ‘Drowzi’ and ‘Myth 500’ that also share traces of Zomby’s rave mutations.
Transcendent material that finds legendary experimental turntablist Philip Jeck using dubplates from Mamiffer's Faith Coloccia and distorting them into a hazy, ambient fog of texture and tone.
Jeck met Coloccia in Seattle back in 2016, where she asked if he'd be interested in working with some recordings that she'd been collecting over the years. She sent him cassette recordings made from 2015-2018 cut to dubplates, but while Jeck liked them, he felt unable to add anything he thought was particularly worthwhile. Last year in lockdown, Jeck approached the material again and had a breakthrough, reshaping them into music that surprised both artists.
Coloccia's source material was recorded when her son was a newborn and formed during naptimes, so the sounds embody a blissful peacefulness while swerving any corny lullaby signifiers. Jeck's additions of reverb and vinyl treatment push the sounds into haunted landscapes, retaining the essence of Coloccia's material but giving them new depth and texture. 'Stardust' is a satisfying meeting of minds, and a perfect middle ground between both artists' strengths. Coloccia's raw emotional weight and Jeck's emphasis on sound and methodology is a match made in heaven.
Electro-acoustic sound sculptor Siavash Amini's latest full-length is inspired by a series of repeating nightmares and Muhammad ibn Mahmoud Hamadâni’s ‘Book of marvels’. It's safe to say it's a transportive experience in textural microtonality: suffocating at times and distressing at others, but with occasional cracks of sunlight.
Amini has been vocal about his desire to work outside of the 12 tone equal temperament, so for these recordings he was passionate about using other systems of tuning to represent his dreams. The result is four long passages of sound that smudge through the consciousness, blurring instruments into synthetic tones and suggesting distance, history and the wild labyrinth of the mind.
'The Oncome' submerges microtonal passages of sound in crashing waves of noise. This is aesthetically Persian music, but feels completely out of time - it could be rooted in the past or being beamed from the far future. 'Crocuta Crocuta' is more ominous, with thick low end that eventually caves into ghostly wails and eerie vapors.
Each track expands Amini's universe, digging deeper into his subconscious and dragging out symphonic fragments or passages of industrial grit. It's a terrifying voyage into a complex electro-acoustic web of literature, antiquity and sonic futurism; ambient, it ain't.
In 1980 the trio Humair / Jeanneau / Texier recorded this album, which was initially intended to illustrate an animal documentary.
"The trio did not know that ‘Akagera’ would become one of the founding moments of an aesthetic and an ethic of French jazz which, 40 years later, remains a model of the genre. First of all, the instrumentation (sax / bass / drums) is already singular for the time, then the creative power of a trio where each musician finds a cardinal place, very far from a mere rhythm section accompanying a soloist. Finally, the three musicians are also composers, each of them contributing original themes tinged with Africa and the Savannah, modal and mysterious World Music, inexhaustible subjects of unbridled improvisations."
Anaesthetising dream-pop from Kobe, Japan’s Haco, gracing Room 40’s rarely seen sublabel Someone Good with a sound somewhere between Grouper and Julia Holter
Depending how your tweedar is calibrated, ‘Nova Naturo’ offers either a blessing or a saccharine wince. It’s too much for these ears, but we can see how many others will fall for its charms, especially those who love it wipe clean and no grit between the record and you; leading from whispered late night lounge styles on ‘Frozen In Time’ to feathered airborne strums on ’Spinning Lantern,’ and the anime dream sequence styles of ‘Teardrops of Aurora,’ and with more success in what sounds like a vaporised Junior Boys on ‘A Mind Resort (Shiokaze Version)’ and the supine drift of ‘Myths and Facts.’
Fuck Buttons' Andrew Hung plumbs the deep chasms of his mind on this second solo album, that sounds like a rock opera cum '80s synthpop horror movie soundtrack remixed by, well, Fuck Buttons. Properly blurry business.
Written and produced by Hung himself, 'Devastations' is billed as his "most candid and introspective" material yet, and it's certainly inward-looking. Using the kind of gritty beats and jagged synths that made Fuck Buttons so popular and playing them against folky vocals and bumped-up instrumental arrangements, the album is an unusual blend of ideas and styles. It's thoroughly British, occasionally sounding like Depeche Mode, occasionally sounding like vintage Bowie, occasionally sounding like John Foxx and sometimes sounding more like Genesis or Pink Floyd. A trip.
LA’s arch ambient producer Yann Novak supplies a solemn and immersively diaphanous elegy for environmental collapse upon return to Room 40 - RIYL Lawrence English, Dean Hurley, Biosphere
The usually prolific artist appears to have slowed the release schedule and gotten deeper into his sound in recent years, with ‘Lifeblood of Light and Rapture’ marking a new high water mark of his catalogue. Inspired by the formative teaching that 2020 would be a point of no return for the environment, Novak models his thoughts in noctilucent clouds of textured harmonies and glistening filaments, keeping everything just outta reach but with a deeply brooding presence.
“From Yann Novak: "When I began working on Lifeblood of Light and Rapture I was thinking a lot about both my personal and society's tendencies towards nihilism. When I was in grade school, I was taught that 2020 would be the turning point in our collective fight against climate change -- that if we did not change by then, there would be no turning back. After learning this at a young age, I watched helplessly as little was done to save the planet. It made me certain that I would not live to see past 2020 . . . Now that 2020 has come and gone, I have the luxury of hindsight. I can look back and see that so many of my decisions were made not to destroy myself, but in order to self-medicate. In my teens and twenties, the world was a difficult place to inhabit, but I could use chemicals and other distractions to cope. Similarly, as it turns out, this is also the story of the industrial, technological, and digital revolutions. Even though the intention of these eras was to make the world an easier place to live in, most of the progress attributed to them over the last two centuries has directly contributed to the climate crisis. On Lifeblood of Light and Rapture, I wanted to explore this parallel -- that so many of the things we do to try and make this world livable also contribute to its destruction. Formally, this album follows the path I set out on with Slowly Dismantling (RM 4112LP, 2019). I sought to express myself in a more immediate and honest way through the use of digital and analog synthesis. With Lifeblood of Light and Rapture, I built upon this same path; but I also tried to imagine the listening experience over the process of making it, focusing solely on the pure pleasure of listening..."
Expanded double disc edition of Vini Reilly, the acclaimed seventh studio album by The Durutti Column. Originally released by Factory Records in 1989, the album has now been newly remastered with 23 bonus tracks including companion single WOMAD Live.
"Produced by Vini Reilly and Stephen Street, the original working title of the Vini Reilly album was The Durutti Column Sampler. ‘People describe them as found samples and found voices,’ explained Vini at the time. ‘I always build up a catalogue of interesting loops and voice samples and stuff. Then I forget where I got them from a lot of the time, which is quite convenient… A lot of the time I manipulate the sample anyway, so it’s singing my tune, rather than the original tune.’ Stand-out tracks include Otis, Love No More and My Country.
‘The tune always comes from playing the guitar,’ added Vini. ‘As soon as I pick a guitar up I’ll come up with a tune. I don’t know whether it’s good or bad - but there’s always a tune there.’ The sleeve itself samples Bob Dylan circa Highway 61 Revisited, showcasing an iconic portrait by Mark Warner. Indeed much about the album flirts with mainstream culture, being a deliberate attempt to position Reilly as a ‘pop’ artist following his chart-topping collaboration with Morrissey on Viva Hate.
This collaboration was further celebrated on bonus track For Steven Patrick. Other bonus tracks on this 2020 double-disc remaster include a multitude of demos and outtakes from the same period (some previously issued on The Sporadic Recordings in 1989), plus all four tracks from pristine performance CD WOMAD Live. Recorded at the WOMAD Festival in Cornwall in August 1988, the core Durutti duo of Vini Reilly and Bruce Mitchell are here augmented by Andy Connell on keys and Chinese opera singer Liu Sola."
Includes the first commercial recordings from Asia made in Japan in 1903 - Japanese gagaku, shakuhachi, shamisen, storytelling, folksong and more - Collected and compiled by sound artist Robert Millis - The beginning of Japan’s homegrown record industry, including a few sides taken from Japan’s notorious bootleg 78rpm industry.
Compiled by sound artist Robert Millis from recordings made by Fred Gaisberg, a legendary producer and recording engineer who travelled the world working for the Gramophone Company (later His Masters Voice), these collected gems offer a return trip to the now-distant past. Swaddled in a dreamlike haze of surface noise that emphasises their alien allure and peculiarity, the set is all the more remarkable for the fact it was recorded only a decade after flat disc recording and playback technology was invented as a successor to Edison’s wax cylinder tekkers. For anyone struck by Robert Millis’ sets such as ‘Indian Talking Machine’, ‘Victrola Favourites’, or perhaps most pertinently his deeply cherished ‘Scattered Melodies: Korean Kayagum Sanjo From 78rpm Records’ collection, this set is absolutely required listening.
They cover a gamut of styles and instruments including gagaku, shakuhachi, shamisen, storytelling, folksong and more, each admitting the listener entrance to what is, to these ears, a whole other world, long before Western imperialism went into overdrive. It documents for posterity a number of important voices who took their turn in front of Gaisberg’s recording horn, regaling their tales in a range of disciplines of which some have endured or been revived, while others have been lost to the mists of time. Safe to say one would never stumble across these recordings in the field without mountains of effort, so all credit due to Millis and his multiple trips to Japan for preserving and sharing these utterly beguiling sonic postcards.
Anniversary reissue of Tortoise’s classic album, Millions Now Living Will Never Die.
"Tortoise's production expertise hit an early peak with Millions Now Living Will Never Die, a work that not only references studio-centric forms like dub and electronica, but actively welds them to the group's aesthetic of sturdily constructed indie rock. The centerpiece is the 21-minute opener "Djed," a multi-part track which brought Tortoise's already impressive compositional abilities to a grand scale. It's almost a history of influences in miniature, first referencing tape music and dub for several minutes, then moving on to Krautrock with a chugging section incorporating wheezing organ and understated guitar chords.
Halfway through, the band takes on minimalism with repeating figures of organ and vibes, then return to the green fields of their debut with a final few minutes of moody indie rock (though even this is spiced with a scratchy rhythm and various noise effects). With "Djed," Tortoise made experimental rock do double duty as evocative, beautiful music. The other songs on Millions Now Living are hardly afterthoughts, though; highlights "Glass Museum" and "The Taut and Tame" display the band quickly growing out of the angular indie rock ghetto with exquisite music, constructed with more thought and played with more emotion, than any of their peers." John Bush, AllMusic
Ambient music's favorite Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famer Alessandro Cortini returns with his highest profile solo album to date. "Scuro Chiaro" is a frazzled selection of 8-bit RPG riffs, tape-dubbed arpeggios, sandblasted rhythms and saturated power ambience. A finely matured cask blend of early OPN, Tim Hecker, Emeralds and Prurient.
The faint throb of industrial electro underpins Cortini's umpteenth solo record. His obsession with synthesizers has characterized his last run, from the minimalist loveletter to Roland's underrated MC-202 "Sonno" to "Avanti", which was written on the EMS Synthi AKS MKII. On "Scuro Chiaro", particular synths are no longer the focus, but Cortini's keen focus on texture and minimalism is still central.
Each track appears to be built from the simplest ingredients, maybe a single melancholy arpeggio or bare drum pulse, but swells slowly to reflect the timbre and shifting tone of the instrument. Cortini treats his electronic boxes as if they were built of lacquered wood and horse hair, and betrays a passion for an era when the serendipity and unpredictability of the analog realm was far more constant.
The tracks are rooted in the eerie genre sound universe of John Carpenter, and tempered by Cortini's well-documented interest in vintage videogames. The repetitive, loping melodies are directly linked to a long-gone era of Commodore Amiga shovelware, filtered thru the composer's knowledge of noise, early synth music and Krautrock. The result is ambient, industrial and electropop all at once, fermented into almost beatless musical liqor: steeped in nostalgia, but expertly restrained.
Pivotal solo cellist and producer Oliver Coates (LCO, Apartment House) proceeds collaborations with Mica Levi and Radiohead with Shelley’s on Zenn-La, an indefatigably endearing 3rd solo album, new for RVNG Intl.
We can hardly think of many artists beyond Oliver’s own circle who can meld dance music with avant-electronic and classical instrumental expression quite like Oliver does here. From the raw electric buzz and spattered breaks underlined with layered cello in Faraday Movement, to the abraded BoC-like downbeats of Lime, thru to wayward disco treks like Charlev, Analord-style braindance in Norrin Radd Dreaming, and the final swoon between wide-open string composition and balletic IDM in Perfect Apple with Silver Mark, Oliver is making wonderful music unconstricted by convention, but patently happy to play with it.
Belgian-German trio Dictaphone keep it spooky on their fifth album. Like its predecessors, it's a blend of jazz and electronics that sounds like the accompaniment to a flickering, monochrome horror movie. On this one, the trio use sounds found on an old tape machine in a hidden room...
Producer Oliver Doerell, clarinet and saxophone player Roger Döring and violinist Alex Stolze join forces once again for another set based around their "morbid instruments" concept. This time, Doerell discovered a tape machine in a hidden room in his Berlin apartment, and this was used as the album's backdrop. For a few moments, ghostly sounds could be heard and the machine died quickly after the tape was digitized.
The trio improvised around these sounds, occasionally roping in help from other collaborators, like Helga Raimondi who sings on 'Your Reign is Over'. Unsurprisingly for a band who have supplied music to countless documentaries and dance performances, "goats & distortions 5" sounds purpose-built for soundtrack use. It curls with the elegance of thick, French cigarette smoke.
T. Griffin's score for Jill Magrid's documentary about Mexican architect Luis Barragán shifts effortlessly from elegiac drone and ambient to subtle modern jazz, the perfect accompaniment to a film that takes a holistic view of art.
'The Proposal' concludes Jill Magrid's art project "The Barragán Archives" and explores the iconic Mexican artist's complex legacy by defying genre and categorization, so it makes sense that she would involve a similarly ambitious musician. Brooklyn-based Griffin wrote the soundtrack while stationed in a cabin on the Massachusetts coast, and roped in some impressive collaborators: Matana Roberts, Reut Regev, Dirty Three's Jim White, Helado Negro's Jason Ajemian and Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Sophie Trudeau and Timothy Herzog.
He conducts this assembly of talent with restraint, using banjo, guitar, keyboard, field recordings and percussion to give the tracks fitting cinematic scope. From track to track, you might hear dusty crate-digging jazz, shimmering post-rock or effervescent electroacoustic ambience. It's an impressive atmosphere, that speaks to Griffin's experience having contributed to over 50 feature-length film and TV scores at this point.
On 30th Oct 2020 Mr. Bungle released their first studio album since 1999. ‘The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo’ was a re-recording of the band's 1986 high school thrash metal demo along with songs written then but never recorded.
"The album features original members Mike Patton, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn, joined by Scott Ian of Anthrax and Dave Lombardo of Slayer / Dead Cross. On 31st Oct 2020 the band celebrated the. release with a massive livestream event, ‘The Night They Came Home’. The event featured a full live show plus an opening set by America’s funnyman Neil Hamburger, plus cameos from musicians and celebrities such as Eric Andre and Josh Homme (of Queens Of The Stone Age)."
Recorded between 1963-2019, Degrees Of Freedom Found is a six CD set “Blue” Gene Tyranny hand selected from archival, live recordings, and brand new first recordings before his passing in 2020.
"Part new album, part retrospective, this box offers a fresh perspective on “Blue” Gene Tyranny’s musical legacy. Blue’s career defining moment, composing the music for Robert Ashley’s magnum opus, Perfect Lives, typifies the Buddha-like self-effacement of his musical life. Often lending a substantial supporting role to his friends’ more visible projects, Blue’s music under his own name blossomed in a more esoteric and highly personal manner outside of the spotlight. Across its many previously unreleased recordings, Degrees Of Freedom Found showcases a surprising, extroverted side of Blue’s music, alongside the virtuoso works of sensitive spirit for which New Music devotees have long revered him."
Remix album featuring production from Pye Corner Audio as well as unreleased accoustic versions.
1.Indica (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 2.Skywalker (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 3.Cherry Cola (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 4.Love Comes In Waves (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 5.I Was Alone (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 6.Indica (Pye Corner Audio Remix – GLOK Re-edit) 7.The Commune (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 8.Plastic Bag (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 9.The Commune 10.Plastic Bag 11.Love Comes In Waves (Acoustic Version) 12.Cherry Cola (Acoustic Version) 13.Skywalker (Acoustic Version) 14.Perfume (Acoustic Version) 15.The Commune (Acoustic Version)
LuckyMe-signed "Akira" fanatic Nathan Micay (fka Bwana) patchworks contemporary soundtrack tropes convincingly on this original score for BBC/HBO finance drama "Industry".
In just under a decade, Micay has shifted his interest from rolling post dubstep to progressive, trancey house and deep, gurgling ambient music, now snapped up to craft the score to prestige series "Industry". It makes sense that Micay has made the jump to soundtracks - in 2016 he released "Capsule's Pride", a collection of sci-fi electronics made in tribute to "Akira" (and Geinoh Yamashirogumi's abiding score). Apparently the "Industry" production team were impressed by last year's elegiac 'Blue Spring' and this full album fleshes out Micay's euphoric framework out into widescreen.
Interspersed with dialog snipped from the TV show, this suite of orchestra-injected electronix snatches liberally from the Christopher Nolan/Hans Zimmer sound-world (ticking clocks, ominous whooshes - you know the score) giving a sense of tried-and-tested urgency to proceedings. At times it sounds too familiar; any of these tracks could be stapled to almost any moody 2019-2020 movie trailer and it would work, but that's prob the point..
Canadian-born, London-based DJ Jayda Guy (aka Jayda G) turns in an effortlessly enjoyable mix of disco, funk, house and techno burners to map out her personal musical autobiography, from her beginnings in Vancouver to headline spots in Berlin. A joyful beacon of hope in trying times.
One of the best DJ Kicks selections we've heard in ages, Jayda G's mix succeeds by being vulnerable instead of posturing for clout. She lays out her musical journey in no uncertain terms, dropping tracks from contemporaries like DJ BORING and HAAi alongside slo-mo soul from Light of the World, Kokoroko's contemporary Afrobeat and Atmosphere's long-form, proggy jazz-funk.
There's an emotionality here that goes beyond crate-digging. Jayda is a DJ's DJ certainly, but she never lets her choices disrupt the flow. As she travels through musical history, she spins her narrative into an expertly blended mix that goes far beyond disco or funk revivalism and center the joyful Black expression of countless interlinked musical forms.
From filtered French funk to contemporary lo-fi house, the fingerprints of soul, jazz, R&B etc are all over today's dance music. On this diaristic journey, Jayda G gives us a history lesson that's just entirely enjoyable, and we can't argue with that.
South African dancefloor scorchers from DJ Black Low, shared beyond the region for first time by the ever reliable Awesome Tapes From Africa
The internet is remaining tight lipped about this fella right now, but it ain’t hard to hear the serious dancefloor levels across ‘Uwami’, working to the side of Amapiano and Gqom styles with lip-bitingly tight Afro-house grooves darkened by gloomy pads, tested with electroid licks, and spiced by a selection of vocalists.
Run go check for unmissable bits in ‘Downfall Revisit’, sounding to us like John T. Gast doing Afrohouse; the stealthy build of ‘Jaiva Low’ starring Hapas Music; what sounds like a deep blue and ruder Donae’o in ‘Emcimbinii’; the hypnotic trills and wonky bass twang of ’Sbono ((Vocal Mix))’; a superb ambient Gqom flex in ’60 Days No Sleep’; and the straight-up trippy morse code melody and gurgling leads of ’Stiwawa Quitter’.
Top shelf tackle for the DJs and dancers.
The Pusherman's debut album celebrates a quarter-century this year. Remastered from the original DATs it's never sounded heavier, with all the virtuoso bass noodling and hyperactive break editing you can squash into one album = an IDM classic, no doubt.
Along with μ-Ziq, AFX and Luke Vibert's Plug, Tom Jenkinson was instrumental in bringing innovations made by jungle pioneers like Goldie, Dego, Jumpin' Jack Frost and Rob Haigh to a global legion of antisocial, screen burned e-boys. At the time, he was widely credited for spearheading various jungle-patented techniques, but listening now it's harder to make that case. Drill 'n bass was always an iffy concept, but with the benefit of a couple of decades, it's easier to listen to "Feed Me Weird Things" free of this context. Now we can simply enjoy its proggy abstraction of Brit TV theme oddness, lightning-fast funk, jazz fusion and druggy rave excess.
All of Jenkinson's albums are a mixed bag (we reckon you could make one belter by grabbing a couple of tracks from each of the good 'uns), but "Feed Me Weird Things" is more reliable than most. The better moments find Jenkinson relying less on bass noodling and more on spooky wooze: 'Tundra' for example, with its wobbly synth and canned beatbox skitter, or enduring fan fave 'Theme From Ernest Borgnine' with its acidic synth squeals and sadboi pads. These tracks influenced hundreds of copyists and still sound just as brilliant today, expertly balancing the indulgent headmash energy of jungle and the gooey synthesized star-surfing of Jean-Michel Jarre or Kraftwerk.
"Get In" dispatched 12 years (!!!) since Get Off for Häpna in 2004.
Sepulchral in tone and celestial in scope, Get In is riven with playfully considered twysts and moments of heart-gripping beauty that recall the ecstasy, darkness and visionary electronic romance of its predecessors - Get Out (1999), Get Down (2002), and Get Off (2004) - but with a more tempered, spacious approach that epitomises the wonder of electronic music at its most elementally affective and also represents a subtly marked difference in his production palette and techniques.
When Pita’s highly original music emerged in the late ‘90s as a powerful force amongst the post-dance music and computer noise milieu, it provided a warped reflection of what came before it, but also suggested new possibilities and horizons. With Get In he presents a deeply personal, romantic view of music still firmly attuned to the world around him, whilst warping its contours and offering new escape routes.
We have to highlight the incredible S200729 as a perfect example, rendering a helical knot of trance arpeggios in vaulted hyperspace - which would be enough to occupy one track in many artist albums - before gleefully ripping the rug with a vicious, blindsiding noise attack that’s possibly the most life-affirming electronic music passage of 2016.
Elsewhere he sucks us into deepest black ambient vortices with Fvo and proper psychoacoustic head floss with 20150609 |, whereas Aahn rumbles like the trapped resonance of a rave recorded from the next warehouse, and the album’s other glistening highlights, Line Angel - rightly hailed in the press release as “a new form of minimalism for the post internet crowd - and the crenellated classical climes spied in Mfbk leave us in a deliquescent, thizzing mess, eager and willing to do it all over again.
This is a incredible piece of work for anyone with a taste for proper electronic music and into Oneohtrix Point Never, Florian Hecker, Leyland Kirby, Xenakis, Dozzy, Lorenzo Senni etc, etc, etc.
Almost universally derided when it came out in 1998 (I remember, it was shocking), TNT quickly became like a family member we'd listen to it repeatedly, totally entranced by its quirky combination of jazz, post-rock and experimental electronics.
Okay so some levelled that it was too 'light' and had lost the Kraut intensity of previous records, but it's an album that takes time to truly appreciate and hearing it now it seems bizarre that anyone could dislike it. With one of the most memorable sleeves of the 90s, it features 'Swung from the Gutters', 'I Set My Face to the Hillside' and 'The Suspension Bridge at Iguazu Falls' - combining everything that Tortoise do so well. Classic, innit.
‘Rare Pleasure’ is prolific LA-based musician and producer Mndsgn’s third full-length album for Stones Throw, following ‘Body Wash’ (2016) and ‘Yawn Zen’ (2014).
"This is Mndsgn’s first traditional studio album as compared to his repertoire of homemade beat records. Album contributors include Kiefer, Swarvy, Fousheé, Carlos Niño and more. ‘Rare Pleasure’ is an appreciation of sharing life, inward reflection and the gift of joyful catharsis in the face of adversity."
Definitive edition of Miriam Makeba’s final album for Reprise in 1970, remastered by The Carvery from original reel to reel tapes.
"Miriam Makeba’s ‘Keep Me In Mind’ was her last album for Reprise and reflected major changes in both her own personal life and politically within the USA. After becoming a national star globally following the success of ‘Pata Pata’ in 1967, she had fallen out publicly with her mentor and ‘Big Brother’, Harry Belafonte. Makeba made the decision to return to Africa following an invitation from President Sékou Touré of Guinea. In Conakry, Makeba met Stokely Carmichael, President of civil rights organisation the SNCC and they would later marry. “With the Vietnam War, the student protests and the riots in the ghettos, everyone is scared,” Makeba said. “Everyone is afraid that there will be a great black uprising.” Makeba’s concerts were widely cancelled and both her and Carmichael were followed relentlessly by the FBI.
Reprise also terminated her contract but brought in producer Lewis Merenstein for her final recording for the label, best known for his work with Van Morrison on ‘Astral Weeks’. Merenstein suggested two Van songs for Makeba to cover, ‘Brand New Day’ from the ‘Moondance’ sessions and ‘I Shall Sing’ and further songs were added to reflect both the political climate and Makeba’s own memories including Stephen Stills’ ‘For What It’s Worth’ and Lennon & McCartney’s wistful ‘In My Life’. New compositions by Makeba and her daughter Bongi included ‘Lumumba’, a personal tribute to Congolese independence leader, Patrice Lumumba. Reflective of the times, the album is infused with a palpable despair but, as in all of her music, a quiet determination still shines through."
Following in the footsteps of the Minna Miteru compilation of Japanese indie music, Morr Music and Alien Transistor have again joined forces to release The Fruit Of Errata, a compilation introducing the world to the intimate DIY pop of yumbo.
"Led by songwriter, pianist, and occasional vocalist Koji Shibuya, the Japanese band has released four albums since forming in 1998. This compilation draws fifteen songs (eighteen on vinyl) from those albums, and some ancillary releases, to uncover a biographical narrative of yumbo, showing how Shibuya’s songwriting, and the group’s limber, sensitive playing, has developed over the decades. It also places them squarely within a tradition of home-spun but ambitious Japanese pop that takes in Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Tenniscoats, Nagisa Ni Te, Yuzo Iwata, Kazumi Nikaido and more.
yumbo is very much the vision of Shibuya, an amiable iconoclast whose songs seem informed by some of his early listening – there’s the playful seriousness of Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s Tori Kudo here, an avowed long-time hero for Shibuya, but also the flexibility of freely improvised music. You can also hear Shibuya’s fondness for Mayo Thompson and The Red Crayola in both the idiosyncracies of the writing and the egalitarian looseness of the playing. Shibuya also carries those energies into the group’s membership – there are fantastic stories of him having a conversation at a record shop, or overhearing someone speaking, and asking the person in question to join yumbo as one of their various singers. He seems open to chance as a driving force, as a way to make space for unexpected possibilities to blossom.
The great achievement of yumbo and Shibuya, though, is translating all of this into beautiful, unpredictable pop songs. There’s a gorgeous soul-inflected lilt to “A House” that makes it delightfully affecting; the swaying brass on “Storm” propels its melody to a moody, dreamlike conclusion; the nakedness of “The Sweetest Mass” is slightly reminiscent of Carla Bley’s more pop-focused writing, crossed with the classicism of the songs that spilled from the Brill Building in the ‘60s. Throughout, Shibuya renders pop a deeply personal experience; you can hear musings here on friendship, family, intimacy, the complexity of relationships, mortality, and imbalances of power. These musings are also shadowed by real-life events: the effects and impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 are captured in songs like “Umbrella People” from Onibi.
Throughout the performances on The Fruit Of Errata, Shibuya and the group play with tenderness; they also often draw on other players to flesh out the music even further, two such guests being the aforementioned Tori Kudo (on “Umbrella People”) and Olympia, Washington’s LAKE (on “The Devil Song”). Community-minded and generous in approach, the writing of Shibuya and the music of yumbo is never less than lovely, and The Fruit Of Errata is a welcome introduction to their world. Open and gentle, confident and generous, these pop songs are filled with charm and spirit."
IST are: Rhodri Davies: harp, preparations, Simon H. Fell: double bass, preparations, aqnd Mark Wastell: violoncello, preparations. This 5CD set is a comprehensive study of live performances made by IST between 1996 and 2000, begining at the very outset of the group's career and features their debut concert at Club Orange in London and charts it's way through further gigs in London, Billericay, Norwich and Cambridge. The 20 page booklet contains written contributions from Mark and Rhodri, Jo Fell, Simon Rose, Nick Smith, John Butcher, Phil Durrant, Graham Halliwell and Chris Goode together with previously unpublished photographs.
"When IST’s first release, Anagrams to Avoid came out (recorded in 1995 and released in 1997), it caught listeners by surprise. It’s not like those who had been listening to Simon H. Fell weren’t used to the bassist’s wide-ranging musical interests, from his compositional frameworks for improvising ensembles like Compilation I and II and Music for 10(0) to found-sound tape constructions like Nightfall Two (Standards I) to solo outings to his coruscating duos with Charles Wharf and the Hession/Wilkinson/Fell trio to the trio Badland, where pieces by Ornette and Ellington sidled up to original free-bop excursions. But here was a new kind of group, an acoustic string trio of bass, cello and harp, with Mark Wastell and Rhodri Davies, two players most had never heard of before. But what jumped out immediately was their timbral palette as well as the way the three were beginning to rethink strategies toward group improvisation.
Improvisers were certainly fully engaged in efforts to subvert the touchstones of guitar attack, sustain and feedback, reed and brass multi-phonics and the percussive colorations of small instruments within ensemble settings. With their instrumentation, IST sidestepped that entirely. The three stretched the elemental sonics of their respective instruments, building on the intrinsic resonances, harmonics and layered overtones evoked from the strings while adding timbral orchestrations of multitudes of extensions and preparations. Working within that soundscape, they began to zero in on a micro-detailed consideration toward interaction. Over the course of five CDs, this set documents that exploration, from their first live performance in London in 1996 through a 2000 performance in Cambridge during a particularly active period for the group.
The first disc, capturing the group’s public debut at an upstairs room in a London Victorian pub, documents the group working their way through an extended 35-minute improvisation followed by two shorter outings. Things start out with a crack and flurry of bustling activity with rapid back-and-forth amongst all three players. From there, the trio navigates between vigorous intensity and areas where density is dialed back and the vivid nuances of the instruments emerge, from resonant bass through shuddering overtones, clipped and muted pizzicato, scratched textures, shimmering harp shadings and rustling skitters. The two 10-plus minute pieces that follow dwell more in open densities with some particularly quiet dynamics in the second piece, underscoring the group’s embrace of striated detail which they would continue to gravitate toward. Disc two kicks in a year later, around the same time as the gig that resulted in IST’s second release, Consequences (Of Time And Place) as well as the release of Anagrams. The two pieces here settle more quickly into the fields explored on the shorter pieces from a year before, extending them into longer excursions. One can hear a more assured group sound, honed through countless practice sessions and more performances. On these improvisations, even as velocity mounts, there is a more measured activity level at play and the layers work more transparently.
Discs three and four, from a bit later in 1997 and early 98, present music from a series of IST + performances where the trio opened, a guest played a solo, and then the four would play together. It’s worth noting that trio improvisations from each of the dates were included in excerpted form on Ghost Notes and are presented in their entirety here for the first time. First up is a collaboration with John Butcher. The two IST trio improvisations reveal continued development of group strategies, homing in on a fully integrated group sound with extended sections of atomic interaction. Even during more vigorous sections, the three utilize a sparing approach, parsed with pools of quiet and heightened attention to timbral detail. By this time, Butcher had been playing with Wastell and Davies as part of Chris Burn’s Ensemble and immediately syncs into the collective tactics. One does notice how much reed sonorities jump out against the acoustic string reverberations, but Butcher is a consummate listener and effectively balances his playing within the trio. Over the course of three improvisations, the four musicians increasingly gel, with quavering reed multi-phonics and keypad pops melding with the variegated string stratifications.
By February 1998, when the meeting with violinist Phil Durrant captured on disc four took place, Wastell and Davies had recorded the first release by Assumed Possibilities with Durrant and Burn and had worked together with him on the session released as Strings with Evan Parker. This string quartet was a natural extension of those sessions. The 23-minute IST trio improvisation that opens the set is a particular highlight, with the group zeroing in with steadfast, reciprocal focus throughout. The piece is imbued with nuanced playing, particularly the closing section of brittle, metallic interplay. The four quartet pieces are compact studies ranging from 5 to 10 minutes. Each piece carves out a particular sonic area with varying levels of density, pace, and articulation. With the addition of another string player, the quartet tends toward a more open sound, with tendril-like individual parts in constantly shifting, angular layers, forking off and then twining back in.
Marking the end of 1998, a particularly active year for the group, IST embarked on an Arts Council-funded tour. During the course of the tour, they presented improvisations alongside compositions written by and for the group, something they hadn’t done before and wouldn’t do again. The three headed into the studio before the tour to record a handful of these compositions which appear on Ghost Notes. Disc 5 includes the final performance of the tour in Norwich, with a program of two improvisations interspersed amongst compositions by Davies, Wastell, Durrant, Guto Pryderi Puw and Karlheinz Stockhausen. In his comments between pieces captured on the recording, Fell does note that the differentiation between improvisation and composition “is sometimes tenuous” and in a blind listen, the distinctions are mostly blurred.
However, a few things jump out in the 40-minute set. Firstly, the flow of the set is somewhat different than that of other live sets documented in this box and on other live recordings of the group, with seven pieces ranging from 3 to 8 minutes long rather than their usual set including an extended improvisation along with some shorter outings. Secondly, in the improvisations as well as a few of the compositions, a delineation of the three instruments is far more apparent. Listen to the opening improvisation and the resonance of Fell’s dark, sharply plucked strings, Wastell’s move between percussive pizzicato and abraded arco, and the spiky attack and shimmering sustain of Davies’ harp, all in clear focus in contrast to the more amalgamated collective sound of much of their playing. Their reading of Stockhausen’s “Intensität” from his text pieces Aus den sieben Tagen builds with layers of arco accentuating the elemental qualities of resonance from each of the instruments. The pointillism of Guto Pryderi Puw’s “X-IST” is another case, with each voice is clearly articulated across the countervailing lines. However the trio’s approach toward a more coalesced sound is still in full evidence like on Durrant’s composition “Sowari for IST,” which centers on muted textures and timbres of the instruments shot through with high-pitched overtone resonances. It is also great to hear another version of Wastell’s “Ritmico” dedicated to John Stevens, which appears on Ghost Notes, with its percussive flecks restricted to the wooden part of each of the instruments with no use of string permitted.
After their appearance as part of Derek Bailey’s Company at a series of concerts in Marseille, IST didn’t play together during much of 1999 while Wastell was living outside of the UK. Upon his return in the spring of 2000, the trio began their last run of active playing. The box closes with a set from Cambridge in May 2000, comprised of a 20-minute improvisation along with a short 5-minute piece. By this point, The Sealed Knot, with Wastell, Davies and Burkhard Beins, had formed, Davies had begun working in what would become an ongoing duo with John Butcher, and the strategies of minutely considered interactions, which came to be shorthanded as the reductionist scene, were beginning to germinate. The extended improvisation recalls of some of the frameworks employed in the compositional pieces melded with their ongoing development of a group sensibility. Here, the trio fuses laminal textures, gossamer overtones, miniscule creaks and pops, percussive attack and resonant sustain, areas of brisk activity and pools of considered composure with rapt listening and unremitting deliberation. The 6-minute concluding piece is a study in interactions of thwacks, plucks, hammered vigor, the resultant ringing decay, and craggy, abraded arco. While the rest of 2000 would remain relatively busy, group activities slowed somewhat after that, with only a few gigs, albeit high profile ones in international settings, each year between 2001 and 2003. Davies and Wastell were becoming far more active with other projects and Fell had launched his more compositionally lead group SFQ and begun plans to move to France. The group played as part of the Freedom of the City Festival in 2003 and then performed their final, although unbeknown at the time, concert together as part of Confront’s 20th anniversary celebrations in 2016. The trio were planning a series of 25th anniversary shows at the time of Fell’s death. This box, along with the release last year of At the Club Room (their second ever gig) and two archival recordings on Davies’ Archif series more than doubles the number of IST releases previously available. Beyond simply serving to fill discographic holes in the previously scant documentation of the group, this box provides an invaluable opportunity to delve into the development of this vital partnership. The fact that each disc stands on its own, deserving deep and repeated listens, is a testament to the music that Fell, Wastell, and Davies created." Michael Rosenstein
This one feels as if it's been a long time coming - Soul Jazz collect tracks from the new wave of cold wave: bands and artists influenced by chilly '70s and '80s synth music, from early electronics and new wave to post punk and beyond. Featuring Kriedler, FIT Siegel, Céline Gillain, Krikor Kouchian and more.
There's an enduring thrill of early DIY synth music that's seen records that, at the time, were barely heard beyond a few heads hit cult status in recent years. This has caused a surge of interest in "cold wave" music, from record labels like Minimal Wave and artists like Cold Cave, to club nights and even festivals prioritizing dry, edgy Euro synth sounds that sound as if they were released on limited cassette in 1982.
Soul Jazz has assembled this bumper comp to celebrate the resurgence of interest and the existence of a new generation of artists who owe as much to techno and hip-hop as post punk and Krautrock. Most of the artists here are European, but FIT Siegel's standout 'Wayne County Stomp' at least reaches out to Detroit with jagged, wiry synth lead and bubbly sequences that remind as much of Carl Craig as Visage.
Elsewhere, German band Kriedler tangle with doom disco on 'Kannibal, Céline Gillain impresses with the eerie, percussive 'Fight or Flight' and Violent Quand On Aime sound as if they've never left the late '70s with their chugging self-titled anthem. It's nostalgic material, that can't be ignored, but it's high quality throughout.
Loraine James follows 2019's charming "For You & I" with this melancholy scratch pad of disparate influences, from drill and R&B to IDM and ambient. Unashamedly beautiful music that perfectly captures an uncomfortably anxious period for British culture.
We don't need to explain what a grim landscape we're dealing with in the UK right now. The fallout of Brexit, Tory austerity, corruption, fascism, systemic racism and COVID-19 mismanagement has left the country in tatters and culture is still locked into a heave-ho of cheeky privately educated poshos attempting to fight or f*ck each other. The rest of us are left to weep on the sidelines, gathering the scraps from perpetual isolation.
Loraine James offers a breath of hope with her third album, "Reflection". More focused than its predecessor, it explores the brain-dissolving isolation of the last year without tripping up into cliché or falling into a spiral of self-pity. Instead it mirrors James' listening habits, obsessions, and yearning, with a mixture of angsty electronics, sub-toppling low end and soaring pop excess.
Representing London with a subtle drill pulse that strings together the album, James weaves through sounds collected from her love of SOPHIE, Telefon Tel Aviv and the Fractal Fantasy Crew, bending pop into dreamy, melancholy forms. Opener 'Built to Last' offers a tearful take on VR club music, with a guest appearance from Xzavier Stone; 'Self Doubt' sets James' own listless lyrics against fractured drums and lost synth pads; 'On the Lake Outside' submerges vocals from Baths in a fragrant concoction of dreamy harmonics and abrasive DSP.
James saves the best for last though with her Iceboy Violet collaboration 'We're Building Something New'. The Manchester rapper echoes with sober urgency, evoking Billie Holiday to sum up complicated feelings about a summer of division, violence and isolation. James meanwhile fuses drill with out-of-time lovers pop, speaking clearly on decades of Black British dance music in the process. With her collaborators in tow, James has built something new, and it's a privilege to bear witness.
Dynamic, silver-toned industrial ambience and hyperminimal techno from Mexican pioneer and master of the craft Murcof.
Since 2002's game-changing "Martes", Tijuana's Fernando Corona has been stirring cinematic orchestral flourishes with minimal techno padding. In recent years, his compositions have skewed more towards industrial ambience, but the glacial, glitchy push of Pan Sonic and early Raster is still just about present in his work. "The Alias Sessions" compiles work Corona created for performances alongside the Alias dance company, so his focus on rhythm is brought to the foreground once again; the tracks slither from warehouse gloom and grim, ominous ambience to pulsating intensity, with considerable effort taken to evoke a theatrical mood.
Standout 'Unboxing Utopia' sounds like a war drum from the depths of hell as a filtered 4/4 throbs beneath discordant prangs of anxious electronics. But there's a light at the end of the tunnel; through the doom and gloom, Corona lets light shine through, often building the tracks into jubilant post-rock-esque crescendos, while 'Underwater Lament' sounds like Sleeparchive trapped in a flooded cave, slowly running out of air. Cheery, then.
Oh my jeffing days, it finally happened! The Japanese edition of RZA’s seminal OST for ‘Ghost Dog’ finally lands to answer our prayers.
One of our most sought-after albums never to appear on vinyl (aside from a sneaky edition you could find at Hardwax if u were sharp-eared), RZA’s first soundtrack, for Jim Jarmusch’s mystic assassin thriller starring Forest Whittaker, has been top of our list since the day we walked out of the cinema after watching it in 1999 as a wide-eyed scrawny 16 y.o. That cinema has since been demolished, but our love for RZA’s score has never diminished, and we’ll happily sit with the looped-up 1 hour version of its ‘Ghost Dog Theme’ that was uploaded by some absolute G to YouTube on given day of the week.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s not hard to hear the album as punctuating a whole epoch of music and culture, practically executing the final word on sample-driven, old skool beatcraft at a time when rap and hip hop were phase-shifting into the whole jiggy era of Timbaland and The Neptunes, and the old analog world of comic books and Kung Fu flicks on VHS were on the cusp of being consumed into the nostalgia industry - an idea perhaps neatly reflected in the film’s story about an assassin who prefers to follow ancient samurai codes of honour in an era of modern gangsters.
As many have discovered to their annoyance, it’s only this, the Japanese version, that carries the full soundtrack, where other versions were full of crap filler from Wu Tang affiliates. We’re talking some of RZA’s crispiest drum chops, soul stabs, and the most atmospheric work in his catalogue; 35 minutes of lethal neck snappers from the top shelf of ’90s hip hop, and we couldn’t be any more gassed to finally clutch a copy that will be coming to the grave with us.
(RZA voice) Raise your swwwords! Ultimate tip!
For Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel, Clint Mansell supplies fittingly romantic, sweeping string-heavy arrangements, now issued on vinyl with a bonus song by Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson
The psychological thriller stars Lily James, Armie Hammer, and Kristin Scott Thomas playing out the bestseller’s gothic tale depicting “an unnamed young woman who impetuously marries a wealthy widower, before discovering that both he and his household are haunted by the memory of his late first wife, the title character.” The novel has previously been adapted most famously by Alfred Hitchcock, and Clint Mansell’s score hews this new version to a classic style, with few surprises save for Jason Williamson’s appearance.
Live In Stuttgart 1975’ is the first of a curated series of Can live concerts available in full for the first time on CD and vinyl.
"Originally recorded on tape, these carefully restored live albums will comprise the entirety of each show in the format of a story with a beginning, middle and end, with Can’s performances taking on a life of their own. Available on double CD and triple vinyl and. Double CD plus 6-page gatefold card pack with 16 page booklet that includes new extensive sleeve notes by novelist Alan Warner, archivist Andy Hall and manager Sandra Podmore Schmidt. Initial 3LP pressed on orange vinyl and packaged in a triple gatefold sleeve with 12” 4-page booklet that includes new extensive sleeve notes by novelist Alan Warner, archivist Andy Hall and manager Sandra Podmore Schmidt."
Double deep, rare and classic Rastafari roots cuts from reggae’s golden era and golden studio, starring Freddie McGregor, The Wailing Souls, The Gladiators, Horace Andy, Devon Russell, Cedric Brooks, Count Ossie and Judah Eskender Tafari
“Soul Jazz Records’ new Studio One collection ‘Fire Over Babylon: Dread, Peace and Conscious Sounds at Studio One’ features a stellar selection of 70s roots music - classic and rare tracks recorded at Clement Dodd’s musical empire at 13 Brentford Road in the 1970s.
Rastafarian-inspired Roots music was an ever-important aspect of Studio One’s output from the start of the 1970s onwards and this album features many of the ground-breaking groups and artists that established the sound of Jamaica during this decade and beyond.
Featured here are seminal artists such as Freddie McGregor, The Wailing Souls, The Gladiators, Horace Andy, Devon Russell, Cedric Brooks, Count Ossie and Judah Eskender Tafari alongside a host of lesser-known rare cuts made at Studio One from artists such as The Prospectors, Viceroys and Pablove Black.
Studio One and founder Clement Dodd’s connection with Rastafarianism dates back to the early 1960s, with Dodd accompanying members of the Skatalites up to the hills of Kingston to listen to the music of the Rastafarian Count Ossie and his drummers. The album sleevenotes discuss how Clement Dodd’s musical links, as well as his role in heading the most important record label in Reggae, are in many ways linked to the beliefs of Rastafarianism.”
Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and the Dessner brothers’ (The National) Berlin/Brooklyn artist collective 37d03d pivot to melodic rap from Indianapolis’ Sirius Blvck, Oreo Jones, and Sedcairn Archives, aka 81355 (pron. BLESS)
Exactly the sort of rap music that we’d imagine indie-pop folks to pluck out, ‘This Time I’ll Be of Use’ is flush with Sedcairn’s prim melodic hooks and polite beats, where Oreo and Sirius trades bars in a vintage, nimble style - basically well enunciated and flowing, with harmonic choruses. No rude stuff.
Canadian ambient mainstay Scott Morgan conceived his latest album from a three minute fragment of orchestral music, which he subsequently stretched, squashed and splayed into ten melancholy movements. One for fans of GAS, Deaf Center, Marsen Jules et al.
Morgan has been a reliable fixture on the ambient circuit since the late 1990s, developing a musical language that has helped shape the genre. For 'Clara' he took a short sample of a 22-piece string orchestra in Budapest and used it to inform the development of the album. To add grit, he cut the initial three minute recording to a 7" acetate, then "scratched and abused" it to infuse the sounds with character.
It's actually difficult to perceive exactly where the original orchestral strings end and Morgan's well-worn processes begin. Each track sounds different, but there's a pervasive sense of European orchestral melancholy that underpins everything. It's like the buried grandeur of Wolfgang Voigt's time-shifting GAS material, or Marsen Jules' Arvo Pärt-influenced ambience. The music has the character of a movie soundtrack, but hones in on subtle shifts in an attempt to represent light, shadow and depth of field.
Bird Ambience brings several fresh changes for the artist. Until now, Fujita would separate his acoustic solo recordings, the electronic dub made under his El Fog alias, and his experimental improvisations with contemporaries such as Jan Jelinek. The new album sees him unite all these different facets for the first time into one singular vision. He also makes a lateral leap from his signature instrument the vibraphone – on which he created his acclaimed triptych Stories (2012), Apologues (2015) and Book of Life (2018) – to the marimba, which takes centre stage on his new record alongside drums, percussion, synths, effects and tape recorder.
“The way of playing the marimba is similar to the vibraphone, so it was kind of a natural development for me and easier to start with, yet it sounds very different”, explains Masayoshi. “The marimba bars are made with wood and it has a wider range than the vibraphone, which gives me a bigger sound palette with more possibilities. I play the instrument with bows and mallets, and sometimes manipulate it with effects.”
Bird Ambience also marks his liberation from fastidious preparation for past solo releases to new endeavours in improvisation. “I prioritised trying to capture the wonder which happens during those occasional magic improv moments. Sometimes the mic-ing and placement of instruments was pretty rough; things weren’t perfect and everything was done quickly, but it turned out as the final recording. Overall when I couldn’t decide between two takes, I told myself to go with the first”, Masayoshi recalls.
Arranged with a perfect Kanso-like balance, the unhurried pace of Bird Ambience allows each sound and phrase enough time to be mindfully absorbed and savoured. This subtle but affective work carries ethereal remnants of Midori Takada’s minimalism, the static atmospheres of Mika Vainio, To Rococo Rot’s organics and the bucolic electronics of Minotaur Shock. Fujita vaporises contemporary and classical, ambient and dismantled dub, controlled noise and fragments of jazz into an atmospheric, static mist, which he skilfully coerces into new forms.
Over the slow-motion, skeletal glitch jazz drums of opening title track ‘Bird Ambience’, Masayoshi elegantly weaves celestial choral samples, the operatic voice of fellow Erased Tapes artist Hatis Noit and gentle marimba phrases. This exemplifies his sparing but substantial sound, with a composition that’s equal parts beauty and noise, with plenty of space in between. “When I was working on Bird Ambience, I had this very strong but blurred image in my mind that I wanted to capture, but had to find the right sounds. It was like when you try to remember a dream you just had, but it falls away and disappears”, recounts Futija.
The poem You Will Hear Thunder by Anna Akhmatova is an invisible root for the lead single ‘Thunder’, which blends mildly abrasive effects on the marimba with a warm feeling of benevolence. Its pretty-like-a-music-box-miniature counterpart was “inspired by an illustration for a textile design called ‘Anakreon’ by the architect and designer Josef Frank, which was inspired by a 3500-year-old Greek fresco of a blue-bird”, Masa explains.
Echoing the weight of the title track’s distorted marimba bass notes, on ‘Gaia’ this recurring theme has grown in gravity and gravitas, with the majestic riff now evoking a deep spiritual resonance. The saturated ‘Noise Marimba Tape’ features what sounds like an electric guitar stretched into acid lines, joined by bird-like chirrups, cartoon effects and a vibrating, bouncing-ball-motion-blur; whilst the balletic arabesques of ‘Morocco’ dance from twinkling filigree, to a cascading crescendo.
In a brief return to solo vibraphone, the gossamer ‘Miyama No Kitsune’ forms the most unadorned moment, reminding us of just how delicate the musician’s nimble touch can go. ‘Nord Ambient’ takes the listener through electrically charged layers of synth tones, before Fujita ups the rhythmic ante on ‘Stellar’, with choppy trip hop drums beckoning the sound down an unexpected tangent. The spiky, clipped beats juxtapose with winsome melody, creating a rough-with-the-smooth flawed beauty. The album closes with two meditative pieces, ‘Pons’ and ‘Fabric’, where a drone sustains throughout, slowly drifting away into infinity.
After 13 years in Berlin, Masayoshi recently relocated to a new home and studio in the rural Japanese mountain village of Kami-cho, Hyogo, following his life-long dream of creating music in nature. Even though the album was entirely recorded in Germany before he left, it has this palpable sense of reverie found in the natural world. From there we can only imagine the kind of impact his new life will have on future works."
By name and nature ’Barren’ yields a clammy quintessence of NWW, playing live in various configurations in Florence and Karlsruhe, 2012/2013, with both judged to be among their most unusual recordings.
The ‘Confluence’ parts document the lineup of Steven Stapleton flanked by Paul Beauchamp and Colin Potter, performing at Museo Marino Marini, Florence, in 2012. For just shy of an hour’s length, the trio transition from an oily ooze of searching synth drones, chime trees, and death knell bells, to more gripping tracts of atone psychedelia benefiting from Beauchamp’s texturised electronics, and ultimately slipping down steepest wormholes into stygian rivers of pulsating sludge and epiphanic noise.
Their ‘Transfiguration’ quota follows with recordings made at ZKM Centre For Art & Media, Karlsruhe, Germany during the following year. A classic lineup of Steven Stapleton, Colin Potter and Andrew Liles commune at their quietest, incorporating elements of the still-to-be-released ‘Opium Cabaret’ in its super wide, reverberant soundsphere fleshed out with plasmic desert guitar tones, gloaming ether voices and ritualistic midnight atmospheres that eventually pass out into nerve-gnawing discord.
Lock the doors, shut the lights; it’s going to be a long night in with this one.
Penelope Trappes concludes her trilogy with a selection of shimmering, darkjazz dream pop. Like Hans Zimmer producing the soundtrack to a Cocteau Twins biopic or Bohren & der Club of Gore jamming with Arca-era Björk >> next level doomed romance.
Back in 2017, Australia-born, Brighton-based producer Penelope Trappes released her debut album "Penelope One" on Optimo. Despite having a background in jazz and opera singing, Trappes had never written her own music until after the birth of her daughter. Her debut was a chance for her to comb through feelings on birth, motherhood and the body, and find confidence in creating art in an industry that fetishizes youth.
Her second album was a more somber affair, building on her debut's skeletal doom gaze and exploring loss and grief. Now, with "Penelope Three", she finishes the story with a set of gothic tales of motherhood, anxiety and healing. It's a confident record that's been simmered in experience and emotion..
Trappes subverts this by twisting her words around delicate, reverb-soaked productions that sound timeless. The inherent jazziness - low-slung doom bass, smokey vocals, pitter-patter drums - is offset by smart, subtle electronic elements that feel satisfyingly invisible. The album's centerpiece 'Red Yellow' sounds almost like Art of Noise's 'Moments in Love' stripped its core elements, but sizzles with the smooth, low-slung crackle of Barry Adamson.
It's a mix of styles that's hard to get right (we're not gonna lie, we clock piss-poor Slowdive/Seefeel pastiches every week), but Trappes' navigates the territory with ease. Minimal, haunting and incredibly affecting, "Penelope Three" is a masterful third act.
black midi’s new album, ‘Cavalcade’, is a dynamic, hellacious and inventive follow-up to 2019’s widely-praised ‘Schlagenheim’, “a labyrinth with hairpin-turn episodes and lyrics full of dourly corrosive observations” (New York Times, Best Albums Of 2019).
"‘Cavalcade’ scales beautiful new heights, pulling widely from a plethora of genres and influences, reaching ever upwards from an already lofty base of early achievements."