Remastered 2020 edition of Diamanda Galás’ terrifying debut, based on a reading of Baudelaire’s ‘les fleurs de mal’ which brought her to the attention of the world-wide avant garde in 1982, often in a pioneering quadrophonic performance or demonic exorcism/exhortation.
“Diamanda Galás’ debut album The Litanies of Satan, originally released on Y Records in 1982, is reissued on the artist’s own Intravenal Sound Operations label, meticulously remastered from the original by Galás and engineer Heba Kadry and features the original classic artwork of that release.
This is the first release in a reissue series of Galás work since she regained ownership and control of her entire catalogue last year. Her 1982-2008 work, tied up in major label limbo, was unavailable for years. In April 2019 Diamanda's discography was made on all major streaming services. The s/t Metalanguage album Diamanda Galás, from 1984, has never been reissued and will also be remastered for release this Fall.
When asked about her earliest work, in the early nineties Diamanda spoke of the ‘athletic discipline’ required, and described the physical toll of her performances as ‘like a ripping of the flesh’. Likening the discipline of her attack to warfare, she said that the idea of performing without perfect vocal technique would be like ‘someone going to war who didn’t know how to fight’; she described singing as ‘an attack energy’ – the transformation of the body into a weapon. The Litanies of Satan is divided into two experimental pieces of physical performance with a terrifying intensity, at the limits of madness, which is certainly not for all ears but is in all essence timeless."
11-track album of post-digital, post-electronic music. The recordings are deeply acoustic -- no electronic processing features anywhere. The sounds are produced by the experimental manipulation of repurposed recycled objects subjected to electromagnetic force fields.
"The "infinite world of the real" offers up richly unpredictable effects, with fields of vibration producing psychoacoustic flourishes, along with spontaneous, arbitrarily microtonal and harmonic compositions. Agitations: Post-Electronic Sounds constitutes a series of sonic exercises based around one principal philosophy: that systems of electromagnetically-resonated physical objects can lead to complex electronic-sounding tones that emerge acoustically, progressing themselves in surprising non-linear dynamic states, providing pointers for further actions upon the objects. Techniques usually associated with electronic music, such as modulation, wave-shaping, filtering, etc., are here applied to acoustic physical systems via prods, cranks, levers, gears, and jacks. The bulk of the recordings were made at La Borde Basse/Studio Midi-Pyrénées in 2013, with additional tracks recorded with electromagnetic-force-field resonated oil drums at Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, and upgraded reconstructions of Luigi Russolo's Futurist intonarumori at Mount Pleasant, Clapton. Starting with fallen dry leaves, found pottery, and brass junkets, the experiments progressed to combinations of interconnected objects, including industrial springs, clamps, woks, rods, hand-held brass bells, earthenware, dry leaves, stones, pitchforks, feathers, paper, plastic receptacles, lamp-post doors, wicker baskets, grilles, bottles, barrels, and much more. The album forms an acoustic exploration into the alchemy of found objects, and the origins of inspiration. London-based electroacoustic quartet Oscillatorial Binnage have been giving workshops and performing live experimental improvised music together since 2004. 16-page booklet.
"While music in general drifts every day further from real strings, drums and vinyl, into the virtual world of files, Oscillatorial Binnage reaffirms the origin of sound in physical things that shake, rattle and hum -- the pre-industrial caterwauling of post-electronic music."
Nicolas Collins (author of Handmade Electronic Music
The classic 12 disc Parmegiani Box Set finally given a reissue by INA GRM, covering the majority of Parmegiani's musique concrète output recorded between 1964 and 2007. Is there a more important, influential, totemic single-artist collection in all of electronic music?
The Wire magazine described this amazing package as "A bargain price treasure chest....containing worlds of inexhaustible spaciousness and strangeness" and, indeed, listening through just some of the 12 cd's included you find yourself drawn into a multi-faceted world of strange sound sources and audio manipulations designed to play tricks on your senses to an extent that has left this reviewer almost paralysed with wonderment.
Parmegiani was mentored by the founding father of Musique Concrète, Pierre Schaeffer. Making use of technological advances that gave the world magnetic tape and microphones, Schaeffer pioneered a method of taking everyday sounds and transforming them into unrecognisable, detached pieces of music with no identifiable sound source, a style that became known as Acousmatic music. Parmegiani was hugely influenced by Schaeffer's pioneering work and Groupe de Recherche Musicale (GRM), the French Radio institution that is often described as the French equivalent of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
The work Parmegiani would go on to create would make use of these Acousmatic techniques in creating a body of work which is not only one of the most significant of the 20th century, but also hugely influential on a whole host of musical pioneers that would follow in his wake, with Christian Fennesz, Aphex Twin and Jim O'Rourke being notable disciples. These 12 cd's cover the majority of Parmegiani's musique concrète legacy and include pieces recorded between 1964 and 2007.
Hard to comprehend the immersive and often woozy effect of these recordings, ranging from eerie cut-out tape loops through to popular music plunderphonics and proto-distilled-dub that's impossible to absorb in one sitting. L'Œuvre Musicale is one of the most impressive and important collections of electronic music you'll likely ever hear, but also one of the most rewarding.
16 hours of peerless, important works by Eliane Radigue relating to her work with the ARP 2500 synthesiser between 1971-2000. Prior to this period, Eliane worked exclusively with feedback on tape and oscillators, but her work from the ‘70s onward is defined by an uniquely meditative and transcendent grasp of microtonal minimalism which has latterly come to place her among the 20th century’s most esteemed and truly inimitable composers. Bearing in mind that Eliane realised this fathomless body of work in her Paris apartment away from professional recording studios, only makes it resonate more strongly with the idea that Eliane was a genuine outlier whose uniquely sober work divined an unquantifiable yet ultimately human nature in electronic music.
"Eliane Radigue was born in Paris. She studied “musique concrète” techniques at the “Studio d’Essai” of the RTF under the direction of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry (1956-57). She was married to the painter and sculptor Arman and devoted ten years to their three children. She then worked with Pierre Henry, as his assistant at the Studio APSOME (1967-68). She was in residence at the New York University School of Arts (1970-71), the University of Iowa and the California Institute of the Arts (1973) and Mills College (1998). She has created sound environments using looped tapes of various durations, gradually desynchronising.
Her works have been featured in numerous galleries and museums since the late 60s and from 1970, she has been associated to the ARP 2500 Synthesizer and tape through many compositions from Chry-ptus (1970) up to L’Île resonante (2000). These include: Biogenesis, Arthesis, Ψ 847, Adnos I, II and III (70s), Les Chants de Milarepa and Jetsun Mila (80s) and the three pieces constituting the Trilogie de la Mort (1988-91-93). Since 2002, she has been composing mostly acoustic works for performers and instruments. Her music has been featured in major international festivals. Her extremely sober, almost ascetic concerts, are made of a continuous, ever-changing yet extremely slow stream of sound, whose transformation occurs within the sonic material itself.
Radigue found her musical voice through the decisive encounter with “musique concrète” and its founding fathers. With Pierre Schaeffer, first, and then Pierre Henry, with whom she learned and perfected the art of tape recorders. She then developed a unique style by herself, freely continuing the exploration of electronic sounds, progressing with tenacity through her musical quest, without worrying about current trends or fashions, paying no attention to creeds or dogmas. An isolated course, out with fashions and institutions, such a singular and intense music, so remote from everything..."
More of the good stuff from Youth and the return of Tokyo’s Hoshina Anniversary with a properly strong second release for the label. This one’s more fluid and atmospheric than its predecessor, deploying retro-futuristic synthscapes in the mould of classic YMO/Sakamoto but framed around crushed algorithmic dynamics.
If Nihon No Ongaku was all about gunky rhythms and psychoactive electronics, this one’s about atmospherics in the mould of classic late 80’s Japanese New Wave - and especially Sakamoto’s peerless Left Handed Dream, as well as Anthony Manning’s classic work for Irdial and the more percolated/ambient side of Veiculo-era To Rococo Rot.
We’re not gonna lie, 'Left Handed Dream’ is our favourite Sakamoto album, and 五七五七七 seems very much built in its image - a quietly organic take on futurism that makes use of wildlife and found sounds alongside brittle and fizzing synths as part of its dreamlike world-building. That vibe is most evident on the opening Iwa Utsi Nami, on Shinobaremu and the woodwind-heavy Ryuushouten, but there are also loose and startling tangents; such as the sudden Mentasm breakdown on Tokyo Geijutsu Sai which arrives with a sudden and unexpected jolt.
But yeah - trust that if you’re into that 'Left Handed Dream’ vibe, this one will push a lot of the same buttons for you - and if you don't know that album, check it out pronto and then swerve back to this one for a worthy accompaniment.
Ulrich Krieger's Wall Of Sound is a series of CDs about music that invites the listener to indulge themselves in sound. It doesn't guide an audience through a narrative, like a song, but offers the listener slow changing and developing soundscapes, acoustic sculptures, to immerse themselves in.
"How listeners move in and through these sounds is up to them: meditative drifting along, focusing on certain small details of sounds, letting themselves be taken away by emerging psycho-acoustic phenomena or going back and forth between listening attitudes. Wall Of Sound features compositions by: James Tenney, John Cage, Alvin Lucier, Phill Niblock, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Lee Ranaldo, Boris Hegenbart, Zbigniew Karkowski, Ulrich Krieger, John Duncan. 3CD set comes in a digipack; includes 16-page booklet.
Ulrich Krieger is well known as a saxophone player in contemporary composed and free improvised music as well as a composer of chamber music and electronic music. His recent focus lies in the experimental fields and fringes of contemporary pop culture: somewhere in the limbo between noise and heavy metal, ambient and silence. He also arranged works by Merzbow, Throbbing Gristle, Deicide, Terry Riley, Henry Cowell, and others for chamber ensemble. He collaborates with: Lou Reed, LaMonte Young, Phill Niblock, Text of Light, Lee Ranaldo, John Duncan, Zbigniew Karkowski, Thomas Köner, DJ Olive, Christian Marclay, Kasper T Toeplitz, Antoine Beuger, Radu Malfatti, Mario Bertoncini, Michiko Hirayama, Miriam Marbe, Hans-Joachim Hespos, Ensemble Modern, Berliner Philharmoniker, Soldier String Quartet, zeitkratzer"
Salt Lake City’s indie pop favorites Choir Boy return after four years with the release of their new cosmic album, Gathering Swans. An emotionally powerful record, full of poignant heartbreak and gently steeped in pop nostalgia, Choir Boy push their distinctive sound further, while tenderly romancing the unsuspected.
"Since the release of their well-received 2016 debut Passive With Desire, of which Slug Magazine’s Erin Moore declares to be “...packed with songs that are infectious by way of their sound, as well as their emotion...”, and their 2018 single “Sunday Light”, the band evolved from singer Adam Klopp’s project accompanied by a rotating cast of players into a solidified, permanent lineup featuring long-time collaborator and bassist Chaz Costello, saxophonist and keyboardist Jeff Kleinman, and guitarist Michael Paulsen. Following a series of tours with such notable acts as Cold Cave, Snail Mail, and Ceremony, Choir Boy began writing their new album. Proving to be a worthy successor, Gathering Swans builds upon Choir Boy’s infectiousness with unique pop sensibilities and impeccable polish.
The first single, Complainer, demonstrates Klopp’s angelic voice effortlessly floating within the heart-wrenchingly somber melodies, that in a tender state, will surely render tears. Lyrically, the song poses a form of wounded optimism, declaring “Oh my life, what a pitiful thing to hear...But it’s not that bad...I’m just a complainer”. Tracks such as Toxic Eye undoubtedly present the touching “choralpop” sound that has come to be a hallmark of Choir Boy. Repetitious, layered vocal hooks that fade into the background, allowing the absence between breaths to be filled with the serene melody that embodies the foundation of Choir Boy’s appeal, demonstrating that the ethereal moments between the bright choruses and memorable hooks are as equally crucial and unforgettable as the lyrical content itself. A slightly more solemn ballad, Eat The Frog, skillfully adapts Choir Boy’s taste for nostalgia and translates such desire into a fully mature statement. The propulsive drive behind Eat The Frog possesses the emotional equivalent to sitting atop a hillside, just outside of the city, gazing at the sunset on a warm Summer night.
Creative, sincere, passionate and glaring with intention, Gathering Swans paints a bright, hopeful, and deeply heartfelt image that will most assuredly attract anyone who accompanies Choir Boy upon their journey."
First LP in 30 years from the legendary Sonic Boom aka Pete Kember (Spaceman 3, Experimental Audio Research); a massive influence on contemporary psych pop ’n rock and go-to engineer/producer for everyone from Panda Bear to MGMT and Beach House.
“It’s auspicious that Sonic Boom—the solo project and nom-de-producer of Peter Kember (Spectrum, Spacemen 3)—returns in 2020 with its first new LP in three decades. Kember’s drawn to the year’s numerological potency, and this intentionality shines into every corner of All Things Being Equal. It’s a meditative, mathematical record concerned with the interconnectedness of memory, space, consumerism, consciousness—everything. Through regenerative stories told backwards and forwards, Kember explores dichotomies zen and fearsome, reverential of his analog toolkit and protective of the plants and trees that support our lives.
Sonic Boom’s second album and first for Carpark began in 2015 as electronic jams. The original sketches of electronic patterns, sequenced out of modular synths, were so appealing that Stereolab’s Tim Gane encouraged Kember to release them instrumentally. “I nearly did,” confesses Kember, “but the vibe in them was so strong that I couldn't resist trying to ice the cake.” Three years later, a move to Portugal saw him dusting off the backing tracks, adding vocals inspired by Sam Cooke, The Sandpipers, and the Everly Brothers (which he admits “don’t go far from the turntable pile”), as well as speculative, ominous spoken word segments. His new home Sintra’s parks and gardens provided a different visual context for Kember’s thoughtful observations, and he thematically incorporated sunshine and nature as well as global protests into the ten resulting tracks. “Music made in sterility sounds sterile,” he says, “And that is my idea of hell.”
Isolationist pioneer Thomas Köner goes all the way in for his spiritual home of Mille Plateaux (now seemingly back to its original ownership?) with a masterful new album of dynamic, grippingly minimalist sound designs - essential listening for disciples of Chain Reaction, Eleh, Rrose, Emptyset, Ø, Thomas Brinkmann
First off - Mille Plateaux - after years of having various characters seemingly commander the name and dubiously “reissue” label classics allegedly without the knowledge of any of the artists involved, the label now seems to be back under the stewardship of its founder Achim Szepanski, or at least it's his name on the label info sheets. No idea what the mechanics of this are, but it seems legit - which is in itself a bit of a shocker.
Back to Köner…after bobbing up with new Porter Ricks material alongside Andy Mellwig in recent years, he now takes a plunging solo dive with ‘Motus’ that brings his patented isolationist style more in line with Porter Ricks’ pulsating subaquatic dancefloor aesthetics. The eight tracks follow a murky roil of ragged rip-tide currents and crunching, pressurised tones right on the electric biting point, manifesting an elusive but heavily present sense of physicality that’s been his calling card for decades now, but rarely in this sort of purified form.
Exploring a spectrum ranging from the cavernous and reverberating designs of ‘Cogitation’ to the head-swilling acidic pump of ‘Potential (Sustain)’, and flowing from the monotone grind of ’Substance (Suicide)’ to pool in the quietly breathtaking, viscous dissolve and intoxicating fumes of ’Synthesis (Carnal)’, the German artist’s sound sensitivities are at their most heightened and attuned to the kind of detail that draw us right inside his matrix. It’s just incredibly impressive stuff from a visionary master of this artform, a richly poetic and sensual description of natural and imaginary worlds begging to be inhabited, immersed in.
““I dream of a dance floor where Motus would be enjoyed. What kind of world, or rather, what kind of society would allow that? And when? Is this futuristic? A situation-to-come, where the understanding of music expands greatly, when blissful moments are independent of simple melodies, where harmony appears beyond I-V-vi-IV chord progressions, when the techniques of social alienation, which determine the use of all the drugs that accompany recreational music, are reversed into creative tools of exploration. ‘Motus’ is part of this exploration: to find dance, free of clock, and groove, free of rhythm. There is pulsation, and the downbeat connects to the downward beings as in stones and minerals, the upbeat connects to the upward beings as in grasses, flowers, trees and stars. Binding both together, connecting sky and earth, is the dancer. The moves / the movement is pure. It is the kiss of spirit and matter.” (Thomas Köner)”
Twelve years since his debut album, cult Detroit legend Terrence Dixon presents the sterling follow-up 'From The Far Future Pt.2' for Tresor. For many listeners, DJs and collectors Dixon's sparse output ranks among the 313's most definitive and influential creations. Whether under his own name or as Population One, his sound is a quintessential application of Afro-futurist, Motor City machine music, at once driven, sleek, hypnotic, spacewise, and deeply funky. We can safely say that this album has exceeded our expectations, mixing heavyweight, heart-rending club tracks such as 'Light Of Day', the detuned reese bass shuffletek ace 'Band Together', and the mighty 'Dark City Of Hope (Hard Mix)', with signature experiments in more esoteric quadrants; the Actress-meets-Mills vibes on 'Fountain Of Life' or the bit-crushed polyrhythmic wind of '11th Floor'. It's gotta be one of the the year's finest techno albums, bar none. Massively recommended!
Mastering & Additional Production By Lawrence English
"I’ve told this story before, but memories that recur in your life only become more critical as you revisit them. Sometime in the early to mid 00s, I was on tour in Japan. I was playing at the now closed venue Bridge in Tennoji. It was one of my favourite venues in Japan, mostly as Tennoji still holds those secrets of Japan’s 20TH century history; the nocturnal, dreamlike sensibilities that reach out to us from beyond; much like, Chris Marker’s San Soleil observes.
During this concert, I was joined by an artist whose work I wasn’t familiar with at that time, Ytamo. By the end of her set however I was completely spellbound by her unusual sense of harmony, minimal repetitious piano patterning and her ability to move between seemingly unrelated musical structures in ways that acoustically melted from one movement to another.
Over the past 15 years, my interest in her work has not waned. A few years ago we released Mi Wo on Someone Good, a milestone recording for her and one I did not think she could easily eclipse. With Vacant however, she does just that."
Nightports w/ Betamax is the second in a series of albums from musician-producers Adam Martin and Mark Slater to be released on The Leaf Label, following 2018’s Nightports w/ Matthew Bourne.
"This time, Nightports have enlisted the formidable talents of drummer and percussionist Betamax, the beating rhythmic heart of sonic explorers The Comet Is Coming. Nightports w/ Betamax will be released on CD, digital and limited edition black vinyl LP. As with the previous album, the vinyl is packaged in an intricate die-cut sleeve, designed by Split.
Nightports is based on a simple but unbreakable rule of restriction: only sounds produced by the featured musician can be used. Nothing else. These sounds can be transformed, distorted, translated, processed and reprocessed, stretched, cut, ordered and reordered without limitation. Nightports is about amplifying the characteristics of the musician – celebrating what’s particular about them, finding sounds that nobody else can make, constructing a complex sonic weave that, however radical the transformations, still bears the watermarks of its origin. “Within the depths of the drum takes, we found hidden melodies, chords, structures and bass lines which we distilled and exaggerated to realise this album,” Slater explains. “On the one hand, this album is fully improvised in that all drum performances were spontaneous, intuitive and responsive; however, they were then subjected to editing and manipulation to arrive at a sound that is neither purely improvised nor constructed.”
Lucifer Is A Flower is the final album from the Black Devil.
"His story is as deep and strange as the music itself. His first album ‘Black Devil Disco Club’ is one of the most enigmatic electronic masterpieces ever made. So ahead of it’s time that no one could believe it was made in 1977 (released 1n 1978). Many thought it was a hoax and that the music was made by Aphex Twin or Luke Vibert but when Lo Recordings released the ‘28 After’ album in 2006, the truth was finally revealed.
Black Devil was the alter ego of Bernard Fevre, a French composer of electronic library music including the magnificent ‘Strange World Of Bernard Fevre’. Bernard grew up and worked in Paris, and it was the African clubs and rhythms that inspired him to make the ‘Disco Club’ album. With only a small arsenal of electronic keyboards, a vocoder and looped conga drums he made music that transcends time.
Fast forward to 2020 and the final Black Devil release. ‘Lucifer Is A Flower’ is every bit as enigmatic, inventive and inspiring as it’s title suggests. A kaleidoscopic ride into the mind of a musical master. Beautifully packaged with design by Non Format that includes pictures of the devil as a young man, it’s a fitting tribute to a career that has spanned over 40 years of divine and diabolical genius."
Bibio returns, just over a year on from his latest album Ribbons, with a new ten track LP titled Sleep On The Wing.
"The release follows a pattern Bibio has established in his work; releasing a follow up EP after an album exploring similar sonic ground. This release draws on a familiar range of influences from traditional folk, peaceful atmospheric soundscapes and field recordings from the natural world. Stephen Wilkinson (Bibio) once again demonstrates the breadth of his musicality, embracing a wide range of self-played instruments including the strings which gave Ribbons much of its flavour and features some new accouplements for good measure.
Pieced together over the course of last year, with a few exceptions stretching back into Bibio’s older repertoire, the Sleep On The Wing EP is a largely instrumental collection that exhibits deep atmospheric melodies as observations on rural escapism, reflection and melancholia. Recorded in Bibio’s home studio in the UK midlands countryside, the writing process for this latest EP starts in a similar place to most of his previous works, growing from a guitar riff into a richly textured soundscape one instrument at a time.
The sleeve artwork by notable illustrator Chris Wormell was developed by Bibio and Chris and lino-printed by Chris. Speaking about how the artwork happened, he explains: “It was an idea that came into my mind when thinking about the title. The bird - a swift - is a bird that apparently can sleep during flight and spends more of its life in flight than any other bird. It really is a creature of the air, the skies are its habitat. I wanted to have artwork that sees the world from the swift’s perspective. It was important to me that the landscape looked typically British, because the British rural landscape has been a never ending source of wonder for me, and the feeling that I try to induce in some of my music very much comes from this desire to really be at the heart of its unique qualities.”
As on Ribbons, the surrounding nature seeps into the studio and underlies the essence of his music as it unfurls. This new work offers an in-depth study into the instrumentation and feelings surrounding this past year, imbued with revisited works which seem as poignant as they did when they were first composed over a decade ago."
There was an old saying you used to hear in music circles - hardly anyone bought The Velvet Underground's albums back in the day, but those that did started a band. I can believe it too - their influence has seeped into the veins of the alternative indie scene like no other band I can bring to mind.
If you're listening to leftfield rock music chances are the band have either been influenced by Lou Reed's gang of slackers or they've taken their cues from a band who were. Yo La Tengo have been around for quite some time now with their first material surfacing way back in 1985, so I'm guessing they were first generation Velvets fans, but the influence still pulses through their music. It's not like the band even sound so much like the Velvet Underground anymore, but their attitude, their juxtaposition of lite-summer-pop with abstract noise rock (the intro track is a 10 minute SY-lite psychedelic piece...) and their uncompromisingly anti-commercial style is where comparisons become clear. All this would be meaningless though if they weren't still making quality music, and I'm happy to say that 'I am not Afraid...' sees the band on blistering form - quite an achievement after over 20 years of activity.
After the extended rock explosion of 'Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind' we're onto potential single 'Beanbag Chair' which manages to be as poppy as the Beatles while retaining that classic Yo La Tengo charm which has brought them so many hardcore fans worldwide. It's a triumphant moment and sets the tone for the rest of the record, in fact the Beatles are a good reference point - they're another band who managed somehow to inject experimental influences into good ole summer pop music. Ending as it began, we are treated to yet another incredible extended (12 minutes this time) avant rock jam, knowingly entitled 'The Story of Yo La Tengo' and in a way it's exactly that. This is a band who over time have perfected their craft rather than merely repeating themselves, they have continued to challenge each other and their fans and they seem to continue enjoying the music they create - a feature rare in so many bands. To put it quite bluntly, if you're looking for a truly varied indie-rock-pop album, then you're unlikely to find one more varied or charming then this in 2006.
Muzz, the new project of Paul Banks (Interpol), Josh Kaufman (producer/multi-instrumentalist and one third of Bonny Light Horseman), and Matt Barrick (drummer of Jonathan Fire*Eater, The Walkmen, and Fleet Foxes’ touring band), have announced their self-titled, debut album.
"Muzz was born out of longstanding friendship and collaboration. Banks and Kaufman have known each other since childhood, attending high school together in Spain before separately moving to New York. There, they independently crossed paths with Barrick while running in similar music circles. They kept in touch in the following years: Barrick drummed in Banks + Steelz and on some of Kaufman's production sessions; Kaufman helped on Banks’ early Julian Plenti solo endeavour; various demos were collaborated on, and a studio was co-bought.
The self-titled debut album, written, arranged and performed by all three, is dark and gorgeous, expansive and soulful. No matter the sonic direction, Muzz goes there effortlessly and with maximum emotional charge."
Joachim Nordwall (The Skull Defekts, The iDEALIST, Saturn and the Sun, owner and curator of iDEAL Recordings) focuses the mind through two long, meditative drum machine ragas written under lockdown during one crisis, and released in the midst of another. Clocking in at half an hour each, the two pieces here bring to mind Ilpo Väisänen’s classic Liima versions as well as Andrea Parker’s by-now slept on Ballbreaker-era productions for Mo Wax.
Recorded "In this time of total confusion and fear” Nordwall is at his stripped down best here, utilising nothing more than a drum machine, analogue synths and some effects to slowly unfurl repetitive, slowly shifting heartbeat rhythms offset by wailing synths and cries of distortion like some lost Pan Sonic jam slowly defrosting after years in cold storage.
The two pieces are direct counterparts to one another, heavy subbass pulses provide the constant meditative loop, referencing the same dub resonances beloved of his iDEALIST alter ego but here imbued with a more solitary and contemplative focus.
Beautifully serene widescreen vistas from Andrew Tuttle on his latest for Room 40 sidelabel, Someone Good. This one’s on a sun-bleached and countrified tip somewhere between Calexico instrumentals, The Hired Hand OST and Brian Eno’s ‘Another Green World'.
"Alexandra, Tuttle's fourth studio album, reflects the growth apparent in his three previous Room40 releases and commitment to developing a reputation in his home country of Australia in the time since his 2015 debut. Leaning upon the inspiration pulled from recent tour supports with contemporaries such as Steve Gunn, Ryley Walker and Calexico; Alexandra presents a true sonic landscape; a musical reflection of a rediscovered homeland. A magician of banjo and resonator guitar, Tuttle named the album after that Queensland street and suburb where he first created and fell in love with music. Alexandra is the sound of rediscovering one's environment, almost twenty years on, tracing it with an organic, expanding flow of energy.
The songs on Alexandra weave their way serenely and purposefully, tracing a gossamer path resembling the distinctive, scribble-like burrowing patterns left by moths on the scribbly gum trees which dot Tuttle's ambles through the Australian bushland backgrounding the suburban environment. Splashes of colour flutter through like rosellas in flight, with pedal steel, piano, strings and horns contributed by collaborators such as Chuck Johnson (Saariselka, VDSQ, Three Lobed, Scissor Tail), Tony Dupe (Saddleback), Sarah Spencer (Blank Realm), Gwenifer Raymond (Tompkins Square), Joel Saunders (Spirit Bunny) and Joe Saxby (These Guy).
As a child, Tuttle became obsessed with two things: cricket and playing guitar, however it was the latter of those two hobbies which eventually stuck, in spite of an initial indifference. Despite his eventual career path, that other childhood passion has stuck with him and there's nothing that Tuttle enjoys more than taking in a game of cricket at the Allan Border Field, a beautiful small ground about 3km from his house. "It's my happy place," he says, simply. "Absolutely picturesque, shaded grandstands and a grassy hill, great natural lighting. I think both music and cricket, in my mind, can be related on a linear level. Like how either a song or a cricket game can go for a short defined time or for an almost infinite time; with busy moments, reflective moments, meandering moments and resolution."
After finishing school around the turn of the century, Tuttle embraced a whole new world amid the DIY culture and venues of Brisbane, where issues with gentrification and noise complaints led to a lot of shows in alternative venues which boasted lineups that were often strikingly diverse and interesting. In late 2017, a fortuitous path of chance meetings, house-sitting and blissful spring days led Tuttle back to his childhood habitat, awakening an ardent awareness of place that was both intimately familiar and strangely new. This experience of psychogeography inspired Tuttle to delve into the soul of one little patch of the world.
Painting broad strokes of local colour amongst a deeply rooted spirit of place, Alexandra is a journey that tranquilises the restless mind. This expansive album cycles through a rediscovered environment, illuminating forgotten or overlooked landmarks, evoking the dreamy ritual of the "flâneur" (a romantic figure imagined by Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin) who wanders the streets, with the sole purpose to wander."
Timely reminder and primer of sorts for Sean McCann, the influential LA-based composer whose oeuvre and curation of Recital (Sarah Davachi, Ian William Craig, Daniel Schmidt) have done much to help shape the boundaries of avant-garde music over the decade since these recordings were made.
‘Ten Impressions for Piano and Strings Recital’ holds 10 pieces dating back to 2010, when McCann moved to a new city and began realising a transition from classical to avant-garde spheres that has captivated keener listeners over the past decade. His work as a solo composer and collaborator has bloomed over this time in tandem with his exquisite programming of the Recital label - behind definitive modern classics by Sarah Davachi and stunning archival reissues from Daniel Schmidt, RIP Hayman and Charlie Morrow - and has come to bridge myriad musical worlds that we love, while also introducing us to many more, so it’s surely a good time to get acquainted or rake back over his earlier work.
In Sean’s own words: “Ten Impressions dates from the fall of 2010, when I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I was contemplating starting Recital at this time, envisioning the first release to be a double-LP of my ambient, slow works. Amassing violin and piano fragments over the next months, I ended up with over 4 hours of recorded material. Well, then… I sat and looked at the files on my computer and lost all interest. An odd gapping period overtook me and I stopped working on music. Twiddling my time, my listening interest in classical and art-y avant grade music flourished.”
The 10 pieces are what he imagined as his “last ‘ambient’ record for the foreseeable future” in 2015, and find him clearly nodding to Eno/Budd in a heavy-lidded, oneiric style that he has both sharpened up and opened out since then. Make sure to check his elegiac mix of raga-esque strings and billowing choral pads with strangely possessed spirits in ‘Sense of Life’ and ‘Language of Night’, and the way the ambience of ‘Vacant Plaza’ takes on an uncanny resonance in 2020.
On his third album as Trickfinger, John Frusciante makes the jump from Acid Test to its leftfield sub-label, Avenue 66.
"Frusciante has the melodic and programming chops to jump from style to style while sounding only like himself. "Amb" is the welcome middle-ground between Balearic and IDM while "Brise” with its quick syncopations and rhythmic groove provide a contrasting fabric. Elsewhere, JF caroms through electro and pastoral, "intelligent" ambient. The common thread through this quixotic journey are his trademark, timeless melodies.
For years now, Frusciante has immersed himself in machines, learning tracker programs, synths and drum machines inside and out, applying the same, tireless approach he's exhibited throughout his career. On She Smiles Because She Presses The Button, this period of intense study leads intense creative liberation."
After a searing intro on Nyege Nyege Tapes tipped by Aphex Twin, Uganda’s Nihiloxica group their possessed percussive energies in a killer full length for Crammed Discs - home to the band’s spiritual brethren Konono No.1, Kasai Allstars, Ndagga Rhythm Force.
Equal parts drivingly rhythmic and ruggedly dissonant, Nihiloxica’s sound has won over swathes of festival and club crowds overt the past few years with a swingeing blend of traditional drumming and noisy electronic shredding that arguably makes any other band on the line-up pale in comparison. After two tapes on the trail-blazing Nyege Nyege Tapes in 2017 and 2019, the sextet turn it out hot and heavy on Belgium’s Crammed discs, an ideal and sympathetic home for their rooted but experimental sound which comes off like the metallic klang of Konono No.1 spliced with a punkish adjunct to Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force, but firmly located in various Ugandan musical traditions.
Cannily named after the Lugandan word for the Marabou Stork - a properly fugly carrion bird covered in boils which is also Uganda’s unofficial national bird - ‘Kaloli’ is a canny metaphor for the band’s sound; at once ravenous and gangling, but effortlessly entrancing when in flight. As such the album feels like a fearsome creature engorged on scrapped electronic detritus, spreading its wings in 11 semi-cyborgian ways that bring together the Nilotika Cultural Ensemble’s four expert Bugandan drummers with their two UK member’s stripped down trap drums and plugged inputs.
Where previous outings were recorded at Nyege Nyege’s Boutiq Studio in Kampala, this one captures the band recording at Bradford, UK’s Hohm Studio in the days after supporting Aphex Twin. Gassed on that experience, they commit a sprawling but tight LP that conceptually tours the rich rhythms of Uganda, from the Darwin swerve of ‘Giunjkola’ style from Central Uganda, to the rolling swang of ‘Busoga’ from the country’s east, and the dread trample of ‘Bwola’ from northern Uganda, all heightened in tension by pq’s swarming psychedelic production to incendiary effect on the lead single ‘Black Kaveera’, and lushly dubbed out in ‘Mukaagafeero’.
This is the second edition of instrumental soundtracks, composed and edited for film or television companies, tagged (on CD sleeve) and conducted conveniently to provoke absorption.
"All pieces were produced by Burnt Friedman and/or Hayden Chisholm as part of sessions with The Embassadors and Friedman´s score recording–sessions with contributions from The Embassadors, Root70 (playing The Nu Dub Players), Hayden Chisholm, Flanger, Burnt Friedman, Daniel Dodd–Ellis and Friedman's 90s outlet, Drome. It's not only a wild mixture of various jazz–centered quality tunes, but a continuously surprising assembly of sound substance under extremely different musical idioms. You hear compassion and anger, vulnerability and strength, but deepest of all, perhaps, a sadness that would be almost unendurable if it were not examined and transformed, somehow, into beauty."
Malcolm Green (b. 1952) is a British artist, dancer, and publisher. His eccentric, liquid ideas seem to come with a smile. Or is it a wry grin?
"His colorful paintings, usually adorned with phrases, are little riddled plaques. Luckily, Malcolm is of the ilk of visual artists who also records audio works (this multiplicity is always interesting to me). Green’s own label Seedy CDs / Sieh Dies issued a number of CD-rs between 2000 & 2005, including many of his own works, along those by friends Jan Voss and a CD-r reissue of Dieter Roth’s classic Die Radio Sonate. Green is, in fact, a memeber of the Dieter Roth Academy - and furthermore gracefully ropes the pillars of Roth into his own artistic process.
When I approached Malcolm about republishing an album, Electric Landlady excited us both immediately. It is the sound of an Epson 90-dot matrix printer running sheets of the score for John Cage’s 4’33”. It is piercing, though I’ve uncovered a world of ricocheting meaning in between the lines. Green says, “this particular rendering of Cage’s handwritten score is in fact somewhat contrary to Cage’s intentions, because every performance on the Epson 90 will be more or less identical. For this reason I have titled it differently: ‘Electric Landlady’ – in honour of a felicitous misprint of the famous Hendrix record I once encountered in Italy.”
The subsequent tracks are beautiful, harmonic re-renderings of the printer’s voice, “played live without post-editing, …with the (accidental) addition of a booming guitar sound that came with the PC programme I was using.” Electric Landlady concludes with a jaw dropping DJ-remix of the printer, with airplanes and dogs flying high above a field of beats."
London based experimental producer and composer, Leifur James announces his return with the release of ‘Wise Old Man’ - the first single taken from his highly anticipated second album ‘Angel in Disguise’.
"Driving, melancholic electronica, ‘Wise Old Man’ is a nod to what can be expected of James’ second album, Angel In Disguise, showcasing a more experimental side to his production. Traversing through musicality, progressive synths and introspection, this first single unveils the producer’s distinct sound with disorientated vocals; speaking of the interplay between reason and emotion, the lyrics repeat “Wise old man in my brain, soul bursting through my veins”, opening the gates to this captivating electronically steered opus.
This news comes after an incredible few years for the artist. 2018 saw James release his esteemed debut album A Louder Silence on Night Time Stories and follow up remix EP that championed upcoming electronic talent including Bruce, FaltyDL and Whities producer, Coby Sey, on rework duties; projects which captured the attention of key tastemakers including Resident Advisor, Pitchfork, Mixmag, Electronic Sound and Future Music UK.
An aesthetically driven artist dedicated to marrying powerful visual backdrops with sonic explorations, James teamed up with Hungarian director, Balázs Simon; producing the critically acclaimed, ‘Wurlitzer’ project which saw widespread support from the likes of Boiler Room, CLASH, Directors’ Notes, Motionographer, the UK and Berlin Music Video Awards, the London Short Film Festival, Dublin International Film Festival and more.
Angel In Disguise promises to explore the themes of love and loss through a masterful blend of harmonic vocals from James himself, nuanced electronic soundscapes and vibrant percussion - punctuated by bespoke visuals, directed by Balázs Simon. This exciting project is expected to make waves and see James step up, exhibiting his discerning ear and painstakingly honed production craft on a seminal label."
40th anniversary edition of a late kosmiche evergreen, spruced up with a bonus disc of remixes by peers and antecedents of Grosskopf and his glittering solo classic debut of 1980 for the legendary Sky label.
First emerging at the cusp of a new dawn when the Berlin schule krautrock and kosmiche music that Grosskopf pioneered as drummer and keyboardist with Ashra Tempel, Ashra and Cosmic Jokers gave way to new age synth movements, ’Synthesist’ paralleled this phase shift with a lissom hybrid of rolling motorik drumming and liquid analogue arps that, with hindsight, feel a bit like the missing link between Tangerine Dream and his bandmate Manuel Göttsching’s E2-E4 and the UK’s sound of NWW/Pump/Colin Potter and their inspirational ilk.
Released at the latter end of Krautrock’s golden years ’Synthesist’ perhaps escaped canonical praise until 2010s and RVNG Intl’s reissue which reignited a lot of interest, thanks to its striking cover and sleekly future-proofed sort of nostalgia which has found its way into a lot of record collections since then. This new edition still glows with timeless energy in highlights such as the beaming title track and the ecstatic roil of ‘Transcendental Overdrive’, which the new batch of remixers feed off in abundance.
Your Hero Is Not Dead – the debut album by West London songwriter Will Westerman is full of supremely crafted songs about moral, political, and ethical grey areas.
"Recorded alongside his close friend and producer Nathan Jenkins (aka Bullion) in Portugal, they find Westerman attempting to resolve external issues by looking inward. Like a young Peter Gabriel in a late capitalist world, Westerman’s music falls somewhere between artful soft rock and confessional electronic pop. Already getting attention of high end tastemaker media from both sides of the Atlantic, Westerman’s unique sound and aesthetic is encapsulated in this exquisite debut longplayer."
Utterly unmissable ambient confections from early ‘80s Japan, remarkably seeing their first official reissue after appearing on those Light Sounds Dark comps and cropping up like rare orchids on blogs over the years - strongest RIYL Woo, Durutti Column, Two Daughters.
Somehow evading any kind of legitimate reissue until now, Pale Cocoon’s impossible-to-find 1984 tape is set to become even more sought-after as this reissue highlights a quality of ghostly songwriting of the most delectable order to a whole new circle of listeners hungry for unheard songs. As you’re probably gleaning from the samples, it’s perplexing how this album isn’t better known. If you’re not swooning by the first bars of ‘Sora’ and its transition into Woo-like folk whimsy you’ll surely be caught out by the diaphanous ambient-pop shimmers of ‘Mitzutamari’, and we’re probably don’t need to stress the rest is of equally enchanted virtues.
The inverted telescope vocals and spindly guitars of ‘Onshitsu’ cast magical webs of connection between Durutti Column and Two Daughters, but with a unbound joy that’s just knockout charming, and ‘Toy Box’ recalls some frothy meeting of Pierre Bastien and Techno Menses, while their strangely rhythmic sensibilities really come out in the likes of ‘Microscorp’ and echo the lushest dream-pop of Cocteau Twins in ‘Flalform’. It’s got us dead light-headed in the best way. Life-affirming stuff!
Spellbindingly gentle and atmospheric acoustic recordings of two Tuareg ladies from rural Niger singing and playing guitar, then joined by their pals for a joyous 17 minute dance piece. Really no need to describe this any further, it’s just perfect
“Sublime recordings from rural Niger. Two very different sides of Tuareg music - dreamy ishumar acoustic guitar sessions, and the hypnotic polyphonic tende that inspires it. Guitarist Fatou Seidi Ghali and vocalist Alamnou Akrouni lead the troupe, named after the village. Recorded in the open air studio of the desert.”
Will Long aka Celer is at his patient, stately, ambient best on ‘Xièxie’, a subtly poetic suite melding locations recordings made in Shanghai with diaphanous, layered synths that elusively yet beautifully bring his subject to life
“A week before leaving, I bought a dictionary and phrasebook. Covered in rain, during the days and even the nights, Shanghai was lit in a glow, a mist turning to a constant grey fog. Buildings lined with neon and lcd screens flashed, and from around corners and behind buildings, the night was illuminated much the same as the day. Cars separated the classes, their horns voices punctuating the streets, as pedestrians in groups loosely scattered the streets, talking and walking on speakerphone.
Standing by the metro escalators, there in the square with the overhanging trees of a park, there is construction all around. The buildings seem to be climbing into the darkness at this very moment. Leaving behind and moving forward. We seem to know everything already, our illusion of experience. I imagine taking your hand, I imagined taking your hand, and the lights in the subway flicker as we go deeper. Transit bookmarks each experience, every daydream, and in the end they're interchangeable and indistinguishable between reality and imagination. Try to remember which is real.
To Hangzhou the maglev reached 303 km/h, the towering apartment buildings hunch under construction, passing by in blurs on the flat farmland landscape. I fell asleep, as you were dancing but to no music. The lilies on the lake nodded in the rain, dipping into the water. There was a Wal-Mart near the hotel where I won a pink bunny from a claw machine. I remember the beauty of the architecture of Hangzhou station, birds swirling around the pillars near the top, the echoes of the deep station interior, and the laughing at being lost. There at least we have each other, that memory, or that daydream.
Everything moves faster than we can control. Days are just flashes, moments are mixed up but burned on film, and all of the places and times are out of order. If it could only be us, only ours. If it was ours, if it was us. Sometimes everything goes faster than you can control and you can't stop, much less understand where you are. I bought a dictionary and phrasebook, but "xièxie" was the only word I ever got to use.
- Will Long, January 2019”
If you're new to Throbbing Gristle then, well, shame on you; but don't worry, all's not lost, you can get up to speed with the help of the band's Greatest Hits, newly remastered.
First released by Rough Trade in 1980 with the apt subtitle Entertainment Through Pain, it's an unbeatable summary of crucial material from Gen, Chris, Cosey and Sleazy's first three albums (Second Annual Report, DoA: The Third and Final Report and 20 Jazz Funk Greats), taking in the robo-fetish disco of 'Hot On The Heels of Love', the piss-streaked paranoia of 'Subhuman', the deadpan synth-pop pretensions of 'United' and more.
Once you've heard any of this stuff, you'll want to explore each album properly, but for now, if you ever wondered why TG are so deeply revered but were too afraid to ask, this'll tell you what you need to know. Punk might have done away with the past, but it was Throbbing Gristle that created the future.
One year later, FlyLo’s latest opus is undressed of vocals to reveal the complex instrumental mechanics under the hood.
“To celebrate the anniversary of the original album Flying Lotus presents Flamagra (Instrumentals), shining a light on Flylo’s untouchable arrangements and production.
The double LP comes with printed inners in wide spine outer sleeve plus download card. Packed in poly sleeve with custom turntable powered psychedelic zoetrope slipmat and labels designed by Drew Tetz.”
Remastered 2020 edition of this peculiar and dreamlike Japanese ambient minimalist classic for those who’ve rinsed their Midori Takada and looking for new/old dream updates - check the hyper-Reichian phasing of ‘Nude’ for some rare flavour of mind floss.
“Official reissue of Motohiko Hamase’s remarkable ambient/environmental/minimalism project #Notes of Forestry, available for the first time since 1988. The album is sourced from original masters and available on vinyl and CD with liner notes from the artist. This marks the third release from the ESPLANADE SERIES which focuses on the works of Yoshio Ojima, Motohiko Hamase and Satsuki Shibano.
One of the most fascinating and peculiar works from the golden era of Japanese ambient, #Notes of Forestry was initially released in 1988 by Newsic, the cult label started by Tokyo’s Wacoal Art Center (also known as Spiral), home, notably, of Yoshio Ojima who co-produced the album. Conceived by Jazz bassist turned experimentalist Motohiko Hamase, the magnum opus offers an enchanting mix of free-form pastoral electronics, otherworldly percussions by Yasunori Yamaguchi, and delightfully allusive piano played by none other than Satsuki Shibano (Sound Process’ Wave Notation 3).
Vibrant, sometimes eerie, and absolutely captivating, #Forestry captures Hamase’s quest for musical freedom, he explains: "Inside the body of a musician, music is always transcendentally resonating. More than language, music reigns. When creating music overlaps with the moment my body performs, I strive to be as close as possible to the feeling of musical freedom. I feel that this notion lies at the foundation of this album".
Musical freedom, here, provides an essential escape, extending the path uncovered by pivotal releases such as Midori Takada’s Through The Looking Glass, Satoshi Ashikawa’s Still Way, and Yutaka Hirose’s Nova.”
Nocturne (Live at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival) comprises three pieces performed live on a partly prepared piano, along additional pre-recorded soundscapes.
"The live performance of ‘Klavierstück II’ is a pensive improvisation using essential elements of the original piece. ‘Nocturne’ starts with the ambient sounds whilst the piano seemingly melts into the soundscape and eventually grows into a long meditative piano solo. ‘Yonder’ is a much more dramatic piece, dominated by the overwhelming sounds of church bells, a sort of “dies irai”, radical, emotional and fiercely poetic."
Lushly intricate Buchla scapes and seraphic vocals inspired by kinaesthetic processes - like a more epic and grown up version of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s electronic “music for dance” records of olden daze primary schools
“"I guess in one sentence, this album is my expression of love and appreciation for electricity," says Smith. While writing and recording, she embraced a daily practice of physical movement, passing electricity through her body and into motion, in ways reflecting her audio practice, which sends currents through modular synthesizers and into the air through speakers. Not a dancer by any traditional definition, she taught herself improvisatory movement realizing flexibility, strength, and unexpectedly, what Smith calls “a visual language” (the term was introduced to her by filmmaker Sean Hellfritsch) stemming from the human body and comprised of vibrational shapes. Understood as cymatics, as she says, "as a reference for how frequencies can be visualized," much like a mosaic.
If the record could be summarized in a single movement, it is the 10-minute closing suite, a rapturous collage called "Expanding Electricity." Symphonic phrases establish the piece before washes of glittering electric peals and synthesized vibraphone helix into focus. Soon, Smith's voice grounds it all with an intuitive vocal hook, harmonized and augmented by concentric spirals of harp-and-horn-like sounds. Smith's music doesn't capture a specific emotion as much as it captures the joys of possessing a body, and the ability to, with devotion and a steady open heart, maneuver that vessel in space by way of electricity to euphoric degrees.”
Connoisseurs’ choice Japanese ambient jazz-fusion from 1993, gilded with killer slinky bass work, FM synths and computerised atmospheres - massive RIYL Haruomi Hosono, Jon Hassell, James Ferraro, 0PN, Visible Cloaks.
“Official reissue of Motohiko Hamase’s extremely rare live album Anecdote (recorded in 1987). The album is sourced from original masters and available on vinyl (double LP) for the first time ever as well as on CD. This marks the sixth release from the ESPLANADE SERIES which focuses on the works of Yoshio Ojima, Motohiko Hamase and Satsuki Shibano.
Anecdote was recorded live June 12th 1987 at Spiral Garden (Wacoal Art Center) in Aoyama (Tokyo) as part of the Eat Newsic Concert No.3. Motohiko Hamase on electric fretless bass, synthesizers and computer programming, is accompanied by frequent collaborators Toshio Kaji on acoustic piano and synthesizers, and Yasunori Yamaguchi (of #Notes of Forestry fame) on acoustic percussions. The three-man band improvises around Hamase’s unique repertoire of ambient and electronic music, reinterpreting pieces from his albums Reminiscence, Intaglio, and #Notes of Forestry.
It’s environmental and minimalist experiments with a jazz soul, three brilliant musicians flowing to blissful heights, and a beautiful testament to the 80s Japanese ambient scene that gave birth to seminal releases by Midori Takada, Satoshi Ashikawa, Yutaka Hirose and many more. Essential.
The live album came out on CD only in 1993 on Motohiko Hamase’s Lung Records. It is now reissued in conjunction with his #Notes of Forestry and Anecdote albums.”
Blanck Mass earns his first solo film soundtrack credits with the soundtrack to ‘Calm With Horses’, an Irish thriller directed by Nick Rowland
After lending his work to soundtracks for the London 2012 Olympics, Ben Wheatley’s ‘A Field In England’, and re-scoring 2013 Giallo ‘The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears’, the former half of Fuck Buttons applies his sorely textured style to this 46’, 17-track suite of distressed electronics, seething EDM themes, carmine-stained dark ambient and heart-rending piano motifs.
Belonging, Ian Chang’s first full-length album, is like a cyborg - part purring mechanism, part animate bio-mass rising from primordial ooze.
"In nine concise, largely instrumental pop songs, Chang conjures a personal cosmos: the listener feels as if we might reach out and touch Belonging's jagged and tender aural sculptures. At every level, his music sings with earnest and deceptive simplicity. The album's melodies are intimate, its rhythms rewarding, and yet, just beneath the surface glimmers innovation, as if the neurons firing in each melodic idea have become audible. From the tradition of Bjork, Burial, and Flying Lotus, Chang breathes a new kind of human vulnerability into electronica."
Balmorhea’s RG Lowe explores his tender blue-eyed soul underbelly and best croons on a 2nd solo album.
“The album’s nine songs are an invitation for us to reconnect with ourselves and our world through the senses by illuminating our intrinsic connection with the physical world and the freedom of physicality. Produced by David Boyle — known for his work with Glen Hansard, Patty Griffin, and Okkervil River — the album consistently delivers both intimate and epic moments, often in the same breath. The opening track “Sorrow” sketches the myth of Icarus as a frame to explore feelings of modern malaise, desire, and seduction.
This sets an initial tone of discontent and helplessness, from which Lowe spends the rest of the album expanding from and breaking out of. Echoing the ardor of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” and channeling Talk Talk's Mark Hollis, this wide-angle collection of songs is a sensual journey that asks us each to “feel the wind blow on your face, camerado.””
Dream-feeding conceptual fusions of ambient house, industrial, jazz and Japanese music from 1993 - pretty unmissable for anyone with an interest in this sort of interzone, and hopefully the start of new vectors for the Japanese ambient reissue programme. Big RIYL Haruomi Hosono, Jamal Moss, Jon Hassell, James Ferraro.
“Official reissue of Motohiko Hamase’s astounding ambient house album Technodrome (1993). The album is sourced from original masters and available on vinyl for the first time ever as well as on CD. This marks the fourth release from the ESPLANADE SERIES which focuses on the works of Yoshio Ojima, Motohiko Hamase and Satsuki Shibano.
Inspired by John Cage, Jon Hassel, Brian Eno, and the emergence of house and techno music, Technodrome is jazz bassist turned electronic experimentalist Motohiko Hamase’s foray into what he calls ambient house or, as he explains, "using the gritty sensation inherent to the core of house music" to create an ambient record "aiming to express inverted images, optical illusions, and the sense of déjà vu that modern people can get in the city".
Technodrome is constructed around innovative minimalism, a robotic funk orchestrated by bass lines and percussions, and monochrome moods. It’s the most intriguing project in Hamase’s discography, a ghostly ride set in 90s urban landscape, where repetition sets the groove and brings things to life, echoing Hamase’s deeper subtext for his compositions: "and attempt to recreate (as metaphor) the time in our mother's womb".
The album was initially released in 1993 by Newsic, the cult label started by Tokyo’s Wacoal Art Center (also known as Spiral), home, notably, of Yoshio Ojima who co-produced the album. It is now reissued in conjunction with Motohiko Hamase’s #Notes of Forestry and Anecdote albums.”
Officer! was founded by Londoner Mick Hobbs, whose roots were in the Rock In Opposition scene of the late 70s and early 80s. Initially he worked as guitarist in The Work, subsequently he became closely associated with This Heat and their Cold Storage Studio in Brixton, working with artists like Family Fodder, Catherine Jauniaux and Zeena Parkins.
"The band's first album 8 New Songs By Mick Hobbs came out in 1982 on casette only. It was followed by the second album, Ossification. The third album, Cough was recorded and released in France in 1985. It is often overlooked in the band's discography, a fate that many cassette releases share. 8 New Songs By Mick Hobbs and Cough have been collected to form the CD Earlier Music. Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes was the band's fourth album and came out as a vinyl LP in 1988, released by the band themselves. It was recorded in France and England between 1986 and 1988. Performing on the album are Antoine Gindt, Bill Gilonis, Claudia Schmid, Daniel Koskowitz, Felix Fiedorowicz, Keisuke Matsui and of course Mick Hobbs. Hobbs is a songwriter with a gift for plangent melody, ingenious arrangement and lyrics at once caustic and courtly, playful and profound."
Estimable American cellist Charles Curtis spans a spectra of rare, unreleased recordings of music by Eliane Radigue, Morton Feldman, Anton Webern, Olivier Messaien and himself in the first comprehensive survey of his oeuvre on Tashi Wada’s Saltern label. Almost two and a half hours of deep, engrossing music.
Ranging from performance of obscure C.14th pieces by Guillaume de Machaut, to C.20th avant garde works by Messiaen and Webern, thru to his previously unreleased 2012 rendition of Éliane Radigue’s ‘Occam V’, and a clutch of his own compositions, the 20 pieces of ‘Performances & Recordings 1998-2018’ plot out the remarkable breadth and depth of work by renowned, LA-based cellist Charles Curtis. Rooted in his childhood classical studies and subsequent schooling by La Monte Young and Pandit Pran Nath, Curtis’ wide scope and insight has placed him among the eminent performers of contemporary music, minimalism and modern classical for over 20 years, as documented inside.
The set speaks not just to Curtis’ musical restlessness, but his spirit of inquiry, as the works all bear some relation to each other, not least for the fact they’re all performed by him, but also in the way he inhabits and brings the original composer’s ideas to fruition, and makes inherent links between eons of Medieval and Renaissance music, serialism, rock and early conceptions of noise music.
The set smartly outlines this breadth in stages, drawing connection between his awning take on Radigue’s ‘Occam V’ (2012) and a number of C.14th-17th works by Guillauem de Machaut, Tobia Hume, Silvestro di Ganassi and the stately sweep of his own ‘Unfinished Song’ (1998) in disc 1, whereas disc 2 focusses on his readings of C.20th works including Terry Jennings’ ‘Song’ (1960) which he premiered in 1995, Morton Feldman’s sublime ‘Durations II’ (1960) that appeared on Chamber Music: Alvin Lucier & Morton Feldman’, and Alison Knowles ‘Rice and Beans’ (2008), adapted from a score made out of lentils, fabric and string; while disc 3 contains a massive highlight in his fascinating take on Richard Maxfield’s ‘Perspectives for La Monte Young’, itself inspired by John Cage’s conception of noise music and the harmonic qualities of frictional, non-musical sounds, which all feel as though they’re preparing the listener for the culmination of three Curtis originals, from the supernatural shimmer of ‘Unison Offset’, to the dusky Cali post-rock of ‘Music For Awhile’, and the keening figure of ‘Music for “Lester”’, a commission for Luke Fowler’s ‘Tenement Films’.
The debut album from British singer/songwriter Eve Owen, Don’t Let the Ink Dry, is a work of raw sensitivity and uncontained imagination, brought to life over the course of three transformative years.
"During that time, the 20-year-old artist spent her summer holidays writing and recording in New York with The National’s Aaron Dessner, immersing herself in a creative exploration that provided welcome refuge from her sometimes-troubled school life. As she discovered an entirely new sense of freedom and belonging, Owen devised a sonic language all her own: frenetic yet delicate, mercurial yet nuanced enough to capture the most ephemeral of feelings. Produced by Dessner at Long Pond Studio (a converted old farmhouse deep in the Hudson Valley), Don’t Let the Ink Dry finds Owen embracing her affinity for folk music while pursuing the endless possibilities in electronic experimentation."
Over the years, Rafael Anton Irisarri has become ubiquitous within the spheres of ambient, drone and electronic music. Whether it’s through Irisarri’s celestial long-form albums or his lauded audio engineering credentials for countless artists and labels, Irisarri’s consistent dedication to his craft never wavers from the forefront.
"While Irisarri’s compositions typically field an array of modern ambient overtones threaded through oceanic symphonies with tape loops, bowed electric guitar and vast washes of overdriven sound, his recent debut album for Dais Records, Peripeteia, portray these common themes giving way to metal and classical influences that emphasizes Irisarri’s melancholic tendencies. These unique overtures, coupled with his signature layering of distortion and bleached-out textures, fabricate an audible environment that would seemingly be at odds with, yet gracefully complement each other. In Irisarri’s own words, “My previous works internalize any exterior forces or circumstances, while trying to make sense of the world. Peripeteia reverses that approach, focusing on the personal in order to tell a wider human story.”
The emotional depth found throughout Peripeteia is impeccably on display with the track, Mellified. A collaboration with Spanish composer Yamila, the choral arrangements bring to mind the sacred music of Arvo Pärt, while her voice combines the Andalusian “Cante jondo” style with medieval modes, almost drowning in layers of octave fuzz distortion and dystopian synths patterns. On Arduous Clarity, the bright arpeggiating melody that churns throughout, offers the initial glimmer of optimism in an otherwise decaying tale of personal turmoil. This encouraging glimpse is short lived however, as the song Refuge/Refuse seemingly plummets into the mourning depths of somber despair. A chorus of voices steadily crawls from its desolate terrain – a sea of broken spirits, eternally resigned to strain and bellow their final lament. Fright and Control, a piece which is equally soul churning, seems to possess a satisfying resolve, as if after years of searching, one’s very salvation has been laid to rest through the acceptance of mortality and the enlightenment in death. Irisarri’s complexity is utilized to a forcible success, slowly pulsing throughout the foreground of his audience, further emphasizing the impending dread of resolve."
Fluxion beautifully drifts focus from quietly cinematic scenes to signature dub house rollers in his dustily nuanced style.
‘Perspectives’ is the Greek’s 8th album following a few years from ‘Ripple Effect’ and some choice ‘Transformations’ with mutual spirits Deepchord over the interim. Now 20 years since his ‘Vibrant Forms’ placed him in the Chain Reaction calibre of dub techno producers, he describes ‘Perspectives’ as a more “personal… intimate” record that his previous, and that personality comes out stealthily thru his quiet elision of frayed dub house chords with more jazzy smoky rhythms and lonely coffee atmospheres in the album’s title track and the cooing angelic chorales of the intro ’Schism’, while the luxuriant scapes of ‘Within’ and ‘Promise’ also recall Moritz Von Oswald’s turns toward kosmiche jazz dub space.
A vital Muslimgauze classic from 1995, spying some of his sickest drum chops and opiated atmospheres from a cutlishly adored period of his catalog.
Issued on Ukraine-via-Berlin label Kvitnu, for whom the release has an extra political resonance - outlined below - ‘Salaam Alekum, Bastard’ is a prime example of Bryn Jones aka Muslimgauze’s strongheld political worldview, near-wordlessly wrapped up in billowing nocturnal desert-scape pads and some of his most hypnotic, serpentine percussion. Check for intoxicating highlights in the swingeing syncopation of the title tune, the ravishing ambient dubbing of ‘Hebron Massacre (Short Mix)’ and ‘Mandarin Guerilla’ for the artist at his subtlest and psychedelic.
“It was not so long time ago in history of modern music, when influence of musicians on society was tectonic. When artist’s statement or position could impact the political situation in a country or sometimes even worldwide. When secret services like KGB, Mossad or CIA would consider some musicians as seriously dangerous for their agenda, because of artist’s influence on audience’s minds. When in some countries listening to forbidden bands could lead a person to appear in a concentration camp or even killed. When artist’s names would be an inspiration and a symbol of fight for freedom.
It was also a time when artists would not censor themselves and their position in fear of being obstructed and hunted by mob for political incorrectness. When artistic freedom to honestly express their subjective views, no matter how harsh or extremely reactive the form of expression could be, was more valuable than any possible concerns or fear to hurt anyone’s feelings. When hurting feelings would mean that provocation reached it’s goal. When idea of speaking out their subjective truth had the highest value for artists, as one of true meanings of art."
Soul Jazz apply keen ears to the ingenious era of UK rave, hardcore and jungle and its unprecedented stylistic shifts of the early ‘90s with a haul of seminal, obscure and killer cuts.
Archivists of the most crucial Black and Latin music, Soul Jazz know what they’re on about, and rack up some proper knowledge here from a unique phase of UK music when ragga and nutty rave styles collided and accelerated to produce one of the UK’s most distinctive, enduring genres.
Following the emergence of digi-dub dancehall and the house phenomenon of the late ‘80s, the 2nd generation offspring of Caribbean migrants pushed those styles to breaking point, and then some, in the early ‘90s, ramping the tempos, going ruthlessly heavy on the subs, and chopping up amen breaks in a mean advance of rugged US hip hop UK fast-rap.
These innovations were the result of a tight feedback loop of influence between dancers and DJs, who effectively egged each other to greater ecstasies (perhaps amped by some pills and powders), and producers followed suit with tracks that sounded ever more like two or three tunes being mixed by a DJ at +6 on the decks.
The 12 tracks of ‘Black Riot’ are all a result of this innovative rush of form and function, and range from the nutty jazziness of DJ SS’ 1994 ace ‘The Smoker’s Rhythm’, to the foundational hardcore pressure of ‘Durban Poison’ by Babylon Timewarp, Leviticus’ all-time burner ‘Burial (Lovers Rock Mix)’, and Trip’s darkcore ’93 glyder ‘The Snowball’, alongside absolute murder in DJ Krome & Mr. Time’s lighter tune ‘Ganja Man’, plus more experimental obscurities in the nano-tight edits of ‘Way Of Life’ by New Vision, and overlooked but deadly rude ragga bleep rave by Nu Jacks.
Konstantinos Soublis aka Fluxion follows Type's reissue of his classic 'Vibrant Forms' with this set of buoyant dub house riddims recorded in New York for Echocord and starring reggae vocalist, Teddy Selassie. Taking clear inspiration from the seminal precedents of Main Street and Rhythm & Sound, Fluxion gives the Tikiman-alike Teddy Selassie a plush suite of stepping, skanking riddims rent with widescreen dub techno atmospheres, oscillating back and forth between lean, fluidly 4/4 instrumental steppers and dread-heavy future roots styles topped by the achingly mellifluous vocals. Arguably, it's one of the most accomplished long-players you'll hear in this niche and tightly defined sound. RIYL Rhythm & Sound, Deepchord.