Killer compilation ocumenting the groundbreaking maloya scene on Réunion Island from the mid-‘70s, as Western instrumentation joined traditional Malagasy, African and Indian acoustic instruments to spark a whole era of new fusions and creativity. Compiled by Réunionese DJ duo La Basse Tropicale, ‘Oté Maloya’ follows up last year’s acclaimed ‘Soul Sok Séga’ release on Strut.
"Traditional maloya, originally called “séga”, described the songs, music and dances of slaves on the sugar plantations of Réunion Island in the 17th Century – maloya ceremonies paid tribute to ancestors and mediated between the living and the dead. The music and culture began to be more widely accepted by Réunionese society from the 1930s as folklorist Georges Fourcade began to play maloya songs. By the ‘50s, maloya tracks were appearing on 78rpm releases and, in the ‘60s, it was used as a form of cultural protest music.
In the mid-‘70s, a new generation began exploring new directions in the music, using Créole language; many were self-taught and learned their craft in 1960s dance band “orchestres”. André Chan-Kam-Shu’s Studio Royal in the south of the island became the main hub for experimentation and collaboration. Most notably, the band Caméléon honed their sound here – with maloya legends Alain Peters and vocalist Hervé Imare involved, Caméléon became the leading collective on the scene, using poetic lyrics and creating their own potent fusion of maloya, jazz and psychedelia.
‘Oté Maloya’ tells the story of this fertile period in Réunion Island music for the first time and features the full spectrum of maloya styles. From Caméléon’s genius to the teenage Michou’s classic ‘Maloya Ton Tisane’, Daniel Sandié’s breakbeat sleeper ‘Défoule 3e Age’ and more traditional styles from Maxime Lahope and Pierrot Vidot, this is an essential trip through a lost era of Indian Ocean blues and soul."
Pure Berlin-school bliss from synthmeisters Thorsten Quaeschning and Ulrich Schnauss.
"Synthwaves pays homage to the masters of the past, yet feels fresh and enchanting. Crisp, interlocking patterns are modulated and mutated with mathematical precision into eight pieces of pristine, post-kosmische sounds to float away to. During two intense weeks in Berlin, Quaeschning and Schnauss – both students of the great, late maestro Edgar Froese – locked themselves in a studio full of vintage synthesizers, analog sequencers and drum machines, and the result is a gorgeous set of purely electronic music.
As the title suggests, a bit of tongue-in-cheek playfullness was allowed during the process – however, all of these pieces sparkle with real emotion and warmth. As with the finest Tangerine Dream soundtracks it's the kind of music that paints vivid pictures on the canvas of the listeners mind: synth plucks hang in the air like glaring neon in metropolitan dusk, and zero-gravity pads hover like ghostly morning mist travelling over empty coastlines. Poly-rhythmic patterns are allowed to build - slowly but steadily - bar after bar, until synth-Satori is reached. By the time the last track on this
album runs out, it's obvious these two producers have themselves become masters of their craft."
Next in the upswell of posthumous, Coil-related reissues, their sought-after Electric Sewer Age collab with John Deek of Divine Frequency is placed under the spotlight, serving something of a cryptic epitaph to the loss of Peter ’Sleazy’ Christophersen, whose untimely death in 2010 followed not long after the project was revealed to the world at large under the tagline, “an infinity of Sewers thrown open beneath the Threshold House.”
As far as we know, Moon’s Milk In Final Phase features some of the final work written by Sleazy prior to his passing. It was executed with trusted band-member and engineer Danny Hyde and quite possibly includes the presence of Jhonn Balance somewhere in its keening, off-kilter matrix of ambient, modern classical and avant-garde electronics.
In four quarter turns relating to lunar phases, Moon’s Milk traverses from curdled chorales and pointillistic tangles of strings and gamelan reminding of The Threshold HouseBoys Choir in Moon’s Milk (Waxing), to the queasier cadence of elliptical strings and synths in Moon’s Milk (Waning) recalling moments from the ElpH project, whereas Moon’s Milk (Eternal) follows with a more sprightly display of pizzicato notes and frothing bleeps buoyed by almost lyrical flutes into the creemy echo chamber of Moon’s Milk (Dark Passing), where its possible to locate some of Coil’s most indelible late period sensations.
Fiends, do your thing.
Penguin Cafe and Japanese producer Cornelius’ mutual admiration for one another led to them joining forces for this four-track ‘Umbrella EP’. The pair reworked and reimagined existing tracks of their own, alongside two new Penguin Cafe songs.
"Penguin Cafe was founded by Arthur Jeffes in 2009, bringing together a diverse and disparate group of musicians from the likes of Suede, Gorillaz and Razorlight, initially to perform his father Simon Jeffes’ legacy of world renowned Penguin Cafe Orchestra music, ten years after his untimely death in 1997. Arthur, a composer in his own right, quickly began to create new and unique genre-defying music, with the spellbinding philosophy of the Penguin Cafe always in his mind.
The project has evolved into something at the hands of Arthur who utilises many different instruments and influences including elements of African, Venezuelan, Brazilian, bluegrass, classical, avant-garde and minimalist music — using a variety of instruments from strings, pianos, harmoniums, slide guitars, cuatros, kalimbas, experimental sound loops, mathematical notations and more. To date, the new Penguin Cafe have released two albums of fresh, innovative and beautiful music, developing from the traditional folk and jazz heritage Penguin Cafe Orchestra is known for into another realm of blissful ambience and dance music, recreated using strictly acoustic elements."
Matador Records present Algiers’ second album, ‘The Underside Of Power’, recorded largely in Bristol and produced by Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Ali Chant and mixed by Randall Dunn (Sunn O)))), with post-production by Ben Greenberg (The Men, Hubble, Uniform).
"Touchstones on the uncompromising and impassioned album run from Southern rap to Northern soul, gospel to IDM, industrial to grime to Italo.
More pertinent than ever before, ‘The Underside Of Power’ follows Algiers’ 2015 eponymous debut which received praise from the NY Times, Pitchfork, The Quietus and others.
The record touches on oppression, police brutality, dystopia and hegemonic power structures. Its fiery lyrics encompass TS Eliot, the Old Testament, The New Jim Crow, Tamir Rice and Hannah Arendt, while carried by soulful and visceral songs, meditative moments and personal reflection. Now a four-piece, with the addition of Bloc Party founding member Matt Tong on drums."
Discwoman co-founder Emma Olsen aka Umfang makes strong moves with the raw, etheric techno fundamentalisms in Symbolic Use Of Light; the Brooklyn-based artist’s 3rd album and first for Technicolor, placing her in good company amidst the label’s roster of Peggy Gou, Jay Daniel, Hieroglyphic Being a.o.
Across Symbolic Use of Light she weaves and delineates her sound in two distinct strands, teasing oscillating piquant, weightless arpeggios in Full 1, the frothier pulse of Path, and the hazy, levitating organ tones of Full 2, whilst merging those strands with variously graded degrees of techno pressure elsewhere, at best in the pensile pulses of Weight, with the power dome slammer, Where Is She, and a light-headed touch in the spare dimensions of Pop and the shimmering Wingless Victory.
Soul Jazz Records' new Space, Energy and Light is a collection of music by early electronic and synthesizer pioneers (from the 1960s through the 1970s), mid-1970s proto-new age gurus and 1980s guerrilla D-I-Y cassette-era electronic artists, spanning in total over a near 30-year time frame.
"All of these artists used electronic advancements in music technology as a means of exploring not only space and the idea of the future, but also of looking inwards to the soul and of creating music in harmony with the natural world. From computer software and hardware experimentalists and sound pioneers such as Laurie Spiegel and Kevin Braheny, as well as Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Company - the first synthesizer ensemble created in collaboration with Robert Moog - through to the earliest musique concrète experimentation of Tod Dockstader, the album shows how technological advancements and creative artistic expression went hand in hand.
In the mid-1970s artists Steven Halpern and Iaxos were instrumental in creating proto-new age music, experimenting in both the healing properties of sound and its relationship with the natural world. These artists also pioneered a new self-contained and underground D-I-Y approach to music, creating their own record labels, forming new distribution networks (with albums sold in meditation centres, health food stores and ashrams) far away from the commercialism of the mainstream music industry. In the early 1980s after the revolution of punk, these D-I-Y attitudes and ideas appeared once more in the growth of the distinctly anti-commercial and underground cassette-only careers of artists such as Germany's Stratis and Carl Matthews in Britain."
New short film and soundtrack, featuring entirely new and unheard compositions - Reflections - Mojave Desert. The film, in collaboration with director Anna Diaz Ortuño, finds the ensemble in a sonic exploration of environment under an endless desert sky.
“Whilst we were out playing and exploring the area around us - the sound reflecting from the rocks, the sound of the wind between them, complete stillness at night and packs of roaming coyotes in the distance, it became apparent that we could use this as its own unique recording environment.” - Sam Shepherd, Floating Points
The first in a planned series of environmental recordings by Floating Points to be filmed and recorded at different locations around the world; the recording was made last year, as Floating Points travelled to the Mojave to rehearse in between US touring. Immediately struck by the distinct sonic tapestry created by the rock formations and valleys, Sam and the band set up a recording operation and filmed this new work at the base of the natural sculptures they encountered. The music of Reflections - Mojave Desert mirrors the landscape: soaring and vast, dynamic and intimate, centred around two longer works and shorter pieces that create a singular and seamless experience.
Reflections - Mojave Desert begins with chords played on a Rhodes Chroma and recorded with a surround sound microphone. Throughout the filming, microphones were placed throughout the landscape to capture the natural sonic textures of the desert: the undulating sound of wind, a bird call, the rustling of bushes and more created a backdrop on which much of the record rests. The music softly shifts from the Fender Rhodes introduction to ‘Silurian Blue’, an expansive full band piece that balances refined restraint with explosiveness. In one scene, ‘Kites’, Sam Shepherd walks through a valley with a super directional microphone, swinging it back and forth as a synthesiser loop gets faster to showcase the natural reverb and shifting phase of sound waves. ‘Kelso Dunes’ signals the film’s final act: the sky grows dark, lasers flash, the band and rocks gleaming in the pitch black around them."
Ethiopian Urban and Tribal Music is a fascinating field trip to a region rich in musical culture, offering dual perspectives on the sound of its capital, Addis Ababa, and farther afield on the borderlands with the Sudan and Kenya, all recorded in 1971 by Ragnar Johnson and Ralph Harrisson.
Amharic poetry and chants shoulder-to-shoulder with ritual dances and some remarkable, virtuosic instrumental performances such as the buzzing ‘Harp of David’ and the hypnotic, syncopated helixes of Fila Flute Dance
“Mindanoo Mistiru means 'What is the Unknown?' Gold from Wax refers to the layers of meaning in Amharic poetry.
Ethiopia has many languages and styles of music. These recordings were made in the Empire of Ethiopia in 1971. The music recorded in Addis Ababa uses masenko fiddles, craar and bagana lyres, washint flutes and kabaro drums. There is folk music played in Addis Ababa tej beit bars with vocals, craar, masenko, washint and kabaro, Ethiopian Christian songs accompanied by the bagana large 'Harp of David' and Mary Armeede's craar accompanied Amharic sung poetry. There are Afar chants and flutes from the Danakil Desert, Anuak thumb piano, Nuer harp, laments and drumming, a Konso dance and a Gidole flute dance from the Sudan and Kenya borderlands.”
James Clements aka ASC navigates deep space ambient projections on rare beat-less away day entitled Trans-Neptunian Objects for his Auxiliary label. If you like your space music cinematic and with no space junk or stray dust particles, this is the cream you’ve been looking for
“This is the first ambient release from ASC on Auxiliary, since 2011's collaborative album with Sam KDC - Decayed Society. As with the majority of ASC's recent work, this release continues the theme of his fascination with space. The term 'Trans-Neptunian Objects' refers to dwarf planets and asteroids that lay beyond Neptune, and are usually found in the Kuiper Belt. With that being said, you can fathom a guess that this album is seriously deep space ambient, and you wouldn't be wrong. A total of eight tracks spanning 73 minutes, which take you to the deepest regions of our solar system.”
An intimate investigation of the japanese Shakuhachi flute performed by virtuoso player Clive Bell, a regular contributor to the Wire Magazine.
“Asakusa Follies is a luminous scene of interplay between melody, breath, and the shakuhachi flute.
Following on from the initial triptych of electro-acoustic releases on the Cuspeditions imprint, Clive Bell’s Asakusa Follies shifts the listener away from the studio and toward the player himself. Breath is a central theme in the album where a punctuation of purring, spitting, flicking and gasping intersects the tones, overtones and noise of the shakuhachi.
The opening composition Ultramodern Variety makes it immediately apparent that this is no traditional exploration of the Japanese bamboo flute but something altogether unique. Bell’s personal shakuhachi technique is highlighted in the four solo pieces of the album, and reveals a revisionist approach to the instrument which still honours it’s traditional elements. The distant low of the album opener flutters with multiphonics, deep in tone and subdued. Golden Bat Cigarettes celebrates the meeting of breath and bamboo where the mouth and hands on wood buzz then snaps in exhale before drifting toward eerie overtones hanging amidst silence.
The two closing pieces, Five Story Pagoda and Idle Reminiscence, explore the shrill upper registers of the flute that keen in and out of silence, melody and breath-noise shifting the ears from inside Clive Bell’s mouth, to hearing from somewhere afar. A trio of shakuhachi flutes interweave to create Silk Factories, which float gently in and out of unison. Pi-Saw is double tracked on The Red Sash Society where chords abruptly drop into one another, wavering in modulation.
The Scarlet Gang is a resting point and site of contemplation. Hmong Khene is here warm and melancholic and gives the listener a moment to bask in a sensitive cycling sequence of chords. Erotic Grotesque weaves more overdubbed shakuhachi, overblown and textural with two distinct melodies intertwining as lovers in dark and empty space.
The album takes inspiration from Yasunari Kawabata’s 1930 novel The Scarlet Gang of
Asakusa. In Kawabata’s novel, the reader is lead through the vibrant and hedonistic Tokyo district by a wandering narrator, and this sense of wandering is captured in Bell’s improvisations :the shakuhachi is a restless and shifting path to follow toward contemplative calm in the bulbous swelling of reeds.”
First solo album in 5 years, recorded, produced and written by Richard H. Kirk, founding member of Cabaret Voltaire, the album was constructed at Western Works, Sheffield, over a three-year period.
"Work began with recording on midi and analogue synthesisers before guitar and vocals (Kirk’s first use of vocals in 10 years) were added. Kirk explains, “A lot of time was spent on post-production, editing and then living with the material and I think it benefited from stepping back and then revisiting after doing other things.”
Although not an overtly political album, it’s hard not to hear a reaction to recent years’ world events in the overwhelming urgency of ‘Nuclear Cloud’ or ‘20 Block Lockdown’ or in ‘New Lucifer / The Truth Is Bad’. When questioned Kirk admits, “It’s not really a political album, but over recent years – during the recording – all manner of horrorshow events have cropped up and now we seem to be in a rerun of the Cold War with Russia back as the Bogeyman.” The album’s title, Dasein (a German word meaning “being there” or “presence”, often translated into English as “existence”), is a fundamental concept in existentialism.
Kirk explains “culture succumbs to nostalgia in much the same way that an individual looks back wistfully to adolescence or childhood - the nostalgia is partly for a time when he or she wasn’t nostalgic, just lived purely IN THE NOW.” In 2014, during the recording period, Kirk began work on Cabaret Voltaire live and so the two projects coexisted in tandem. Although Kirk’s varied projects have always existed separate to one another, says Kirk, “in the past some solo works served as a blueprint for what I did later with Cabaret Voltaire”.
Billed as a performance consisting solely of machines, multi-screen projections and Richard H. Kirk, Cabaret Voltaire recently announced the first UK performance in over 20 years at the Devil’s Arse Cave (aka Peak Cavern) in Castleton, Derbyshire on Saturday 29 April. Kirk will perform entirely new material for a performance relevant to the 21st Century with no nostalgia."
Rescued from defunct formats, prised from dark cupboards and brought to light after two decades in cold storage…
"OKNOTOK features the original OK COMPUTER twelve track album, eight B-sides, and the Radiohead completist’s dream: “I Promise,” “Lift,” and “Man Of War.” The original studio recordings of these three previously unreleased and long sought after OK COMPUTER era tracks finally receive their first official issue on OKNOTOK.
All material on OKNOTOK is newly remastered from the original analogue tapes."
Crash Ensemble perform a wide breadth of contemporary music from the work of Steve Reich and Philip Glass to upand- coming younger Irish composers.
"Crash Ensemble are also known to perform with contemporary indie rock and pop artists such as Sam Amidon, Lisa Hannigan, Adrian Crowley, Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) and many more. As well as this, Crash Ensemble have worked extensively in the fields of contemporary opera and have recently started working with theatre.
This release is an album of four pieces specifically written / arranged for the group by some of the leading and most exciting contemporary composers of the day - Nico Muhly (USA), Donnacha Dennehy (IRE) and Valgeir Sigurðsson (ICE). It is a document of a lot of what Crash Ensemble have performed over the recent past and is a taste of what is to come from the group.
Crash Ensemble are a group that would appeal to fans of new, adventurous music played with energy and originality. Examples of composers frequently performed include Steve Reich, Andrew Hamilton, Linda Buckley, Bryce Dessner, Donnacha Dennehy, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Nico Muhly, David Lang and Deirdre Gribbin."
Subtext offer an engrossing study of the Davul drum, improvised with personalised, extended technique by Turkish artist Cevdet Erek and recorded in Berlin. While common to many cultures across the middle east and Europe, we’d wager few have heard the davul sound quite like it does on this record, where it’s turned into a bewildering and fluidly disciplined display of low end rumbles, scrapes and rimshots in uniquely expressive rhythms.
Davul proceeds Erek’s Frenzy (OST) for Subtext with a broader, more in-depth exploration of the drum’s myriad voices presented with no overdubs or edits, effectively using a finely skilled approach - honed in private over a number of years - to document the instrument’s rawest character traits, and, by turns, revealing some of its most uncharacteristic potentials.
The results recall a broad set of reference points, with opener Heal sounding like Colin Stetson jamming on a single note with First Nation peoples, whereas Prepare sounds out like some caveman dancehall (actually reminds us of when the sound cut out at an Equiknoxx show and folk beat the a rhythm for Shanique on the walls), whilst on Kirast he makes it sound like a detuned Balafon prepped for war, and Dicycles could almost be the sound of a knackered tractor engine failing to properly combust.
The results make for an intense listen and form Erek’s purest statement of intent to date; a exhaustively fascinating and intimate experience.
In 2010, Brunhild Ferrari decided to make public some of Luc Ferrari's original sound archives by offering a selected collection of recordings to other composers who may wish to use the material for the creation of original musical works.
"Her desire was to open this sonic treasure to other artists without wanting to impose any aesthetic direction on them, and with the only purpose of encouraging new artistic inventiveness. This edition presents the "Presque Rien Prize" winners and other selected works of the first three biennial contests, the most recent contest having taken place in December 2015.
Each of the competitions has been concluded by a concert including the winning and other selected works of the competition. While 109 new works were submitted to the three initial editions, Association Presque Rien are delighted to keep receiving many other works from over the world for the forthcoming competitions.
Features the following performers, listed by year: CD 1 - 2011 edition: John Palmer (winner), Elsa Justel (mention), Daniel Blinkhorn (mention), DinaBird and J. P. Renoult; CD 2 - 2013 edition: Bryan Jacobs (winner), Ayako Sato (mention), James Andean (mention), Masashi Isai, Andrea Belfi, Donia Jourabchi, Takuma Kuragaki; CD 3 - 2015 edition: Hideki Umezawa (winner), Lisandro Barbato (mention), Johannes S. Sistermanns (mention), Manfredi Clemente, Manuella Blackburn, Laurence Bouckaert, Dimitris Maronidis, Yingzi Li."
Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis are in fine voice on their summer-ready 5th LP of psychedelic dub-pop
“Peaking Lights’ 5th album titled, "The Fifth State Of Consciousness", is a double LP produced in Peaking Lights’ Dreamfuzz studio over the last two years. It’s both a departure from the new and a return to the old with a whole new twist on the psychedelic dub-pop they’ve become know for. The Fifth State Of Consciousness is an exciting listening experience invoking a story of overcoming the shadow to rise above and painted with otherworldly sounds. It’s a 12 song 2 Disc nearly 80 minute journey, where the album takes precedence over the single. Each of the 12 songs is a story and together form the larger narrative that is the album as a whole. Thru all its peaks and valleys the larger arc of themes within The Fifth State are about dreams, loss of innocence, strength and seeking an enlightened state of being after trials and tribulations.
Sonically the double album shifts through many states from beginning to end, resonating deep, like a drive thru foreign landscapes where you’re glued to the window as everything slowly changes around you. The flow and pacing of songs has a sense of wonderment and each time you play it there’s a whole new batch of lovely sounds and eccentricities within each of the players. While bringing together their love of Psychedelic music, House, Electronic and Reggae each song manages to live it’s own life and yet still there is some magical thread that binds them together.
Produced by Aaron Coyes, the whole creative process was filled with nerdy gadgetry, playful experimentation and deep alchemical soul searching for a musical medicine. Aaron describes Dreamfuzz as “a small junkyard with many happy mistakes”. Using tape machines, writing melodies backwards then playing them in reverse, layering sound upon sound to create “pads”, literally breaking electronics to get sounds, and a strict motto of “anything goes, pure creativity”. Most sounds were run thru Peaking Lights’ 1976 16/8 Soundcraft Series Two mixing console (the same type of board used by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry at Black Ark, and at the infamous Cargo Studios where many of the early Factory Records bands were recorded) to add some “mojo”. It’s an album that is sure to be a creeper even if you don’t fall in love on the first date.”
“In the summer of 2015, A L'ARME! Festival invited Konstrukt to perform with William Parker and Holiday Records teamed up with Matt Bordin of Outside Inside Studio to invite the quartet to play two shows in Italy on their way to Berlin. Plans overlapped leaving two days off spent playing with no interruption at Matt's studio in Montebelluna, capturing four incredible tracks. Now, Konstrukt are well known for their many collaborations with key players and real giants of worldwide jazz scene, but - once again - having the chance to listen to the music they produce when they play "by their own" is something special. Their tribute to the past is paid with every single tune they play, but these recordings are something that can only be described as "new music”.”
Max Richter initiates Rough Trade’s Behind The Counter… series of mixtape/compilations with a smart survey of his tastes drawn from the records Rough Trade sell on the shop floor.
As you might hope for, or expect, its a refined mixture of canonical classics, post rock and contemporary electronic composition, ranging from pieces by Charles Ives, Lucio Berio and Rachmaninov, respectively, to work by Low, GY!BE and Mogwai, and the likes of Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada.
Legit reissue taken from analogue masters, Coil's sorely coveted Astral Disaster (1998) for Gary Ramon’s Prescription (UK) is returned to circulation on its original format. 2nd hand copies now trade for at least a K, just sayin’…
At the behest of Ramon - who is absorbed into a line-up revolving Jhon Balance, Peter Christopherson, Drew McDowall, and Thighpaulsandra - over two days at Samhain 1998, Coil descended into the bowels of his Sun Dial studios, surrounded by manacles and chains under the level of the River Thames in the Ancient Borough of Southwark, to commit what would become one of their most possessing sides.
Astral Disaster was the result: two correlating hemispheres channelling, meditative, eastern raga drone with sage-like poetry and electro-acoustic phantasmagorias, projecting a plasmic miasma of pharmaceutical shimmer and surreality that’s pretty much arch Coil.
If there’s any one big reason you need it, though, that would be the amazing B-side, The Mothership and The Fatherland, framing creaking wooden drums and the gibber-chin shivers of swarming, translucent studio duppies in a diaphanous soundfield of freefall ambient atmospheres - basically the sound of ketamine in the ‘90s.
Makes us want to melt. Massive recommendation!
Enchanting debut release of diaristic, biographical reflections on space, place and time from Irving Park, presenting a subtly personalised suite of spectral piano pieces, ambient electronics and disembodied vocals that distill elusive sensations into tangibly haunting musical studies.
Humbly treading in the footsteps of like-minded projects from the Cotton Goods camp or the most wistful Richard Skelton releases, 5 2 1 offers a relatably warm and inviting suite of compositions operating with a feeling of gauzy detachment that suggests sequestered, subjective journeys of discovery.
The nine pieces fall over three discs, with each part framing his perfume-like piano meditations against the ephemeral rustle and hum of location recordings that suffuse and link his pieces like with the naturalistic nuance of moss or drizzle, balancing his personalised magick with a sense of the ordinary and everyday.
In the process the music takes on a beautifully shy or even coy quality, leaving a crumb trail of nudges and suggestively glimpsed signposts for navigation, encouraging the listener to take the enclosed map and the music as loose guides for your mental ramble between the grey day cafe ambience of 351 Indian Trail, Rockton IL and the quietly blistering resolution of Home, which almost feels like chilblains after a soggy but very satisfying mooch across country.
A gorgeous package.
Beguiling digital composition from London/Berlin’s Adam Asnan, forming a “continuation of the ideas and methods developed in Mythcigc I: a collection of music utilising readymade FM synthesis and digital reverbs from he late ‘80s, mid-‘90s and the present day.” Basically a strong look for fans of Theo Burt, Dale Cornish, Ilpo Väisänen or even that ||| ||| record…
With the stark tang of his Rev Sets still resonating from 2016, Asnan explores more fleshed out soundfields in Mythcigc - II, filling the cold spaces found between the notes of Rev Sets with a recursive moiré lattice of colourfully reactive rhythms and more expressive tonal cadence - the sort of stuff that can light up the grey matter between your ears like an electrical grid control board.
It all lends the album a much more humanistic, emotive touch than what we’ve previously heard from Asnan, which admittedly isn’t a lot, but enough to highlight the contrasting touch which bely Mythcigc - II’s (ostensibly) brutalist structures. There’s a certain chamber-like elegance to the pinched tones that teeter around the pickled chromatic plongs of II.1 and right thru to the more somnambulant, SAW-like tone of II.7 at its close, finding him working with a pizzicato balletic lightness in II.2 or like Hecker imitating the flight of a bumblebee in II.3, whereas ii.4 firms up as a pulsating adjunct to EVOL’s mentasm orgies and II.6 seems to split the difference between dancehall and gamelan practice with an intent appreciation of their shimmering commonalities and fluid punctuation.
Considered by the band as their most fully realized statement, The Floating World is a snapshot of the last chapter of Wet Hair's tenure as central players in the Midwestern DIY experimental music scene.
"Wet Hair finished the year long writing and recording process fresh off an eventful West Coast tour with Merchandise right before all three members of the band decided to part ways with their longtime residence in Iowa City. The tracks were recorded and mixed at Flat Black Studios in Iowa City and were mastered by Carl Saff. Reed finished the striking jacket artwork in early 2017 -- a collage reflecting on the Japanese concept of ukiyo ("The Floating World") as it relates to a feeling of American suburban emptiness and longing.
The Floating World is a kinetic collection of seven tracks that represent Wet Hair's most exciting, melodic and beautifully produced effort. On their follow up to Spill Into Atmosphere, Wet Hair revitalized their hybrid psych / krautrock / synth pop sound, masterfully working shimmering synth swells and fiery drum and bass grooves into pointed explorations of growth and texture. Working in a style that has traditionally drawn excitement from long sonic build-ups, Wet Hair keenly sculpt these jams so the electric musicality only highlights the pop vocal leads. Tracks like “Dear Danae” and “Revealing” revel in their allusion to noise-pop, offering up simple, ear worm melodies that shine in the frantic orchestration. “Endless Procession,” the record’s 8-minute long jaunt works through a haze of twittering synths toward the ultimate goal of full-blown catharsis and ensuing decay. Meanwhile, cuts like “Through The Night” and “Lift The Stone” show off Wet Hair’s rock-solid rhythm section as they syncopate and shred support for crunchy synth melodies.”
Grippingly dense and roiling collaboration between improv god Keiji Haino and and a rupturing Belgian rhythm section. Flashes of curdled baroque, avant-jazz scuttle, rock rage and primitive electronics. Recorded, mastered and mixed in Tokyo by Joe Talia between 2015-2016.
“Japanese legend, Keiji Haino, meets two of Belgium's most active and valued musicians, keyboardist Jozef Dumoulin (Lilly Joel) and drummer Teun Verbruggen (Othin Spake). The Miracles Of Only One Thing is a deep and intense testimony of this meeting. Keiji Haino, without any doubt one of the most important musicians from the Japanese underground scene, is at his best, Teun Verbruggen and Jozef Dumoulin did a three-week tour in Japan in September of 2015, playing concerts as a duet, but also solo and with local musicians.
One of those musicians was hero Keiji Haino, whose work has spanned rock, free improvisation, noise, percussion, psychedelic music, minimalism and drones. Besides his legendary bands Fushitsusha and Lost Aaraaff, he has worked with artists and bands like Boris, The Melvins, Jim O'Rourke, Oren Ambarchi, Peter Brötzmann and Steve Noble. As for Dumoulin and Verbruggen, they are both known for their always refreshing and groundbreaking work that breaks the barriers between free improvisation, electro, jazz and more. Jozef Dumoulin is part of the duo Lilly Joel appearing recently on Sub Rosa with What Lies in the Sea (SR 416CD, 2015). The three teamed up for a studio recording and a recorded live-show.
Out of all the material, they distilled an album that reflects both the excitement of the new bond as well as the deep and vast sonic landscapes that their joined forces laid bare. Personnel: Keiji Haino - guitar, vocals, flute, gongs; Jozef Dumoulin - Fender Rhodes; Teun Verbruggen - drums, electronics.”
Big Dada reissue the critically acclaimed debut and sophomore albums by Young Fathers, ‘Tape One’ and ‘Tape Two’. Both albums have been remastered for this reissue and are presented together as double CD, double LP and double cassette packages.
"‘Tape One’ and ‘Tape Two’ are compellingly unique - the band make the sort of uncompromisingly leftfield, forward thinking hip hop that has nothing to do with artiness and everything to do with brilliance, all with grain silo production and genuine pop hooks.
‘Tape One’ was recorded within a week. It was first released in November 2011 as a limited edition cassette with individually spray-painted sleeves. ‘Tape Two’ was recorded almost immediately afterwards, in January 2012. Eventually LA based label Anticon picked up both albums and gave them a limited release in the USA."
Race To Zero’ is the new album by musician and composer John Matthias and producer, musician and composer Jay Auborn, via the Village Green label.
"The album’s starting point was a series of acoustic improvisations recorded in a variety of locations, from a 700-year-old chapel in the Devon countryside to a basement studio in Reykjavík, Iceland.
In an attempt to create a fractured sense of space reflective of the digital condition, the duo found themselves working within a place that could only exist in the digital landscape. By crushing the recordings through a hundred different virtual rooms of reverb and other chaotic digital processes they collided, soared and splintered into sweeping new rhythms, melodies and drones.
Pushing the computer’s processor beyond its limits threw up sonic ‘errors’ that wouldn’t be easily possible to create through standard methods. In response, these outcomes created new and unplanned inspiration for further composition. Elements of the album were then produced binaurally adding a three dimensional listening experience. The outcome is a unique landscape that blurs the line between the virtual and physical worlds."
"Repetition is a form of change," reads one of Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies. Seth Haley knows the concept well, and his style of technicolour synth-wave takes the mantra as a challenge. Six years after Galactic Melt introduced the cosmic story of Com Truise, Iteration now concludes his sprawling saga. True to its name, the album is built on Com Truise hallmarks: neon-streaked melodies, big drums, robotic grooves, bleary nostalgia. But Iteration is also the most elegant and streamlined that Haley's singular music has ever sounded.
At the album's heart is an elaborate narrative, one full of longing, hope, anxiety, and triumph. Iteration illustrates the last moments Com Truise spends on the perilous planet Wave 1, before he and his alien love escape its clutches to live in peace. "...Of Your Fake Dimension" launches the interstellar drama with its anthemic swells and widescreen sound design, before lovesick songs like "Dryswch" and "Propagation" outline scenes wrought with cybernetic pathos. Later, the frantic rhythms of "Syrthio" conjure images of panicked flight as Haley's gorgeous synth melodies gild the action in quiet heartbreak. Then comes the resounding "When Will You Find The Limit...", when Iteration's pain and sadness finds liberation in the vast unknown. The closing title track ends it all in a gush of majestic revelry.
So goes the winding story that Iteration tells, and yet there's more behind its telling. "I try hard not to write from my personal life, but it's inevitably going to seep into the music," Haley explains. "It's basically like I'm scoring this film in my head, but that film I'm scoring is also somehow my life." There are glimpses of the difficult time the East Coast native spent adjusting to a new life in Los Angeles, fighting homesickness and burnout while also touring the world. It was a time full of uncertainty, transition, and self-realization. After a year and a half of living in California, Hayley finally recaptured his creativity by finding new excitement in his work. "I put more air, more breathing room in the music—that was the big change," he says. And once that clicked, the album just poured out of him. "It was like an information dump. I feel like I finished the record in two weeks."
Such a clear refinement of the Com Truise sound took time to develop, but Iteration is well worth the patience and perseverance it cost. Some of Haley's smartest, catchiest work is here, from the weightless pop of "Isostasy" to "Ternary"'s lush synth-funk. A song like "Vacuume" somehow balances massive bass drops and smashing drums with angelic gasps, and
"Usurper" gracefully pairs subtle poignancy and uplifting dance beats. "For me, it feels like change," Hayley says of his second album, and yes, this is Com Truise like never before. By embracing the music's inherent nature and peerless qualities, Iteration finds new avenues of expression in its vivid, familiar surroundings."
Dieter Moebius’ industrial incursion, Ding  bubbles back on Bureau B, showcasing the electronic music pioneer experimenting with a range of tempos and schizzy structures.
The stodgy beats are best avoided but there’s some intriguingly messed up parts to check in the Eric Copeland-esque churn of Neue News, the pulsating, screwy design of Flink, and a queasy, peeling drone piece called Alfred, if you’re that way inclined.
Tom Hobden & Eliot James present: Roam’ is the stunning debut collaborative album from composers Tom Hobden (Noah And The Whale, Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling) and Eliot James (Kaiser Chiefs, Two Door Cinema Club and Bloc Party).
"Having met back in 2007, while working on Tom’s band Noah And The Whale’s Top Five debut album, ‘Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down’, the pair have been in each other’s orbit for many years. In 2016 they decided to work together again after exchanging demos of orchestral and score material. ‘Roam’ is the fruits of this collaboration and a fascinating first taste of what Tom and Eliot have in store with this project.
Frustrated by a lack of opportunities for and appreciation afforded to orchestral strings within the world of pop, Tom and Eliot saw no other option but to take things into their own hands. Ambitious from the outset, ‘Roam’ reflects a shared love of late and neoRomantic composers and offers a knowing doff of the cap in the direction of the likes of Samuel Barber, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten, as well as more modern, post classical composers such as Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt and Max Richter."
Nick Edwards’ Ekoplekz indulges his mini-modular rig-up with a battery-creamed bleep techno session, coaxing out a searching and cannily radiophonic-style array of dub-frayed tendrils and rubbery bass with a dippy charm...
“Ekoplekz returns with his fourth album for Planet Mu, in the shape of 10-tracker "Bioprodukt". The unique lo-fi, woozy sound of Bristol's Nick Edwards stays intact while he veers towards the nineties for inspiration: the bleep and bass sound of the north of England is one touchpoint and the acid gurgles of the 303 are another.
While the murky lo-fi production levels and evocative melodies remain, they are now bolstered by a more muscular rhythmic chassis. Snappier kicks and snares mingle with dense layers of percussion and deep undulating sub-basslines adding a funkier edge, as typified by opening track "Elevation" where playful beats interlock with breezy keyboard flourishes to create something uncharacteristically upbeat. Similarly, the gentle, fluid motion of "Slipstream" and "Calypzoid" represent some of the most appealingly chilled grooves in the Ekoplekz canon to date.
But the darker-edged material remains. "Expedition" has a pensive, percussion-heavy feel whilst "Acrid Acid" is a dirt-encrusted slow-mo techno meltdown. "Transcience" displays the Ekoplekz trademark dub-fx in full flight over a driving lo-end, before "Descent" leads down to the final section, where the beats fade out, replaced by rippling layers of spectral ferric ambience on the epic "Low-X Over", before finishing with the radiant looped stasis of "Denier Daze". “
Dieter Moebius-one half of the legendary duo Cluster and the godfather of electronic krautrock-passed away in the summer of 2015. Bureau B are reissuing his final four solo albums.
"Following on from Blotch and Nurton (2016) Kram and Ding now complete the quartet. The last two albums will be availabe on vinyl for the very first time. Liner notes were penned by Moebius’ friend, the U.S. composer, producer and musician Tim Story. Recorded in 2008, Kram’s playfully disjointed rhythms and shiny plastic surfaces give us just a glimpse perhaps of Moebi’s own state of mind-content, at ease, and happy to be working on music. With small mobile recording setups in Berlin and Majorca where he and Irene split their time, he recorded when the muse struck (although he would hate the word “muse”). In English, “kram” means “stuff” and the title is fitting. Synthetic, toy-like sounds skitter across the soundstage, colliding with those unlikely rhythms, and modulating in real time with Moebi’s unmistakable hand on the controls.
Funny, warped, joyfully cluttered, Kram unapologetically embraces its disposable sounds and sly humor. Imbued throughout with his singular conception of music and sound, it’s arguably Moebius’ most cheerful and mischievous album, and it’s all the richer for it. Moebi was a champion of the everyday-self-effacing in both his life and his music. In Kram, he elevates the commonplace, then promptly subverts the touchstones which make it familiar. The lack of overt “emotionality” in his work sometimes obscures the humanity and depth that’s always there, lurking behind the fabricated surfaces. Kram is a perfect example. Though he would be quick to dismiss it, the warmth of Moebi’s personality drifts indelibly through it."
Panorama Bar’s Steffi gives up the best Fabric mix CD since their Mumdance instalment with an expertly tempered selection of deep Detroit/Dutch/UK/Berlin electro showing everyone else how it’s done.
Deep, rugged and galvanised with a shark-eyed techno spirit Fabric 94: Steffi draws from a close pool of producers, including some big highlights in her collaborations with Shed and Martyn, to basically sidestep all the bullshit and get down to classically-skooled futurist fundamentals.
Where say, Helena Hauff for example goes for dark and severely stripped down strains of electro, Steffi’s picks are more full bodied and funked up with a finely ingrained Detroit funk, of the sort which has informed Dutch dance music since the ‘80s and continues to bubble up in new ways here, especially with the sublime depth and complex breakbeat intricacies of 1.5 in her STFSHD collab with Shed, the martian hi-tech funk of No Life On The Surface as Doms & Deykers, or the Mr. De-meetsCybotron flexer, Off The Beat with Virginia, but also on the devilish picks of World Gets Crazy from UAS, and Afik Naim’s crunchy electro-soul-warper, Saturniidae.
A subtly evolving 45 minute piece by Thomas Köner and Jana Widneren recorded live from the cloisters at Evreux Cathedral, Normandy, France by Franck Dubois, mastered by Köner. Bird calls, swelling organ resonance and the sound of passing voices unfold across a richly detailed sound-field that seems to morph like some metaphysical presence.
Feels like the listener is placed in the shadows surrounded by cold stone on a warm summer day.
For completists, archivists and newcomers alike, Can - The Singles affords a comprehensive overview of the legendary krautrock pioneers’ outings beyond their run of seminal classic albums, notably rounding up a lot of material which has been out of print on any format for decades.
All material is taken and remastered from original single versions, including a few newly nipped edits and featuring a strong handful of obscure, sought-after numbers such as Silent Night and Turtles Have Short Legs beside their better known turns, Mushroom, Hallelujah, Vitamin C and I Want More.
Joanne Pollock (Poemss) joins the ranks of Datach’i, John Frusciante, and Otto Von Schirach (sorta) on Venetian Snares’ Timesig label with her vaulted, operatic IDM pop anomaly, Stranger.
“‘Stranger’ is the debut solo album from Canadian artist Joanne Pollock. Released via Venetian Snares’ Timesig imprint, with whom Pollock previously collaborated as Poemss, ‘Stranger’ is a stunning collection of electronic pop songs that range from the unsettlingly calm and beautiful through to ferocious explosions of caustic noise, all held together by Joanne’s multi-octave ranging vocals.
“What happens when we push up against that which contains us?” asks Pollock. “By distorting the mirror, we may become plastic. When the comfort of familiarity is stripped away, it can feel as though we become a stranger in our own bodies. Is it through embracing the Stranger that we discover ourselves? Stranger explores the multiplicities of selfhood - what defines us, where the boundaries lie.”
On tracks like the album opener ‘Carnival’, ‘Myself Apart’ and ‘Expect Me’ Pollock’s vocals weave in and out of the bruised and bruising bass lines, glacial synths and stop-start beats almost becoming one with the music, before suddenly overpowering the synthetic elements to take centre stage in bursts of joyful exuberance.
Combining an intricate, detailed approach to music production with illusive almost dreamlike textures ‘Stranger’ sees Pollock further burnish her reputation as one of electronic music’s most exciting and idiosyncratic new artists. Throughout the album’s ten tracks she continually leads us down dark, surprising paths as she experiments with and twists song structures, resulting in an album that feels both eerily familiar and startlingly new and continues to reveal new secrets with every play.”
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma follows-up the hazy shimmer of his masterpiece ‘A Year with 13 Moons’ on his most overtly accessible album to date ‘On the Echoing Green’. This is Jefre’s unabashed Shoegaze album, enlisting the help of Evan Caminiti and Byron Westbrook on Guitar, while Maxwell August Croy, Honey Owens and Sobrenadar supply occasional vocals.
The album opens where ‘…13 Moons’ left us off on “In A Copse”; a short, slowed down vignette bleached out by the sun, before A Song of Summer provides the album’s most joyous, anthemic moment. Making few concessions to the classic Shoegaze template for its first 4 minutes, it sounds like it could have been lifted off Slowdive’s Souvlaki, while the section that follows gives away its provenance with an immersive line in bass distortion that slowly erodes and kicks back into the track’s main refrain before closing out.
As Ledesma explains: “I was interested in trying to bring out more overt pop elements, to let them come to the front and be present. I also have more trust now in letting things happen – trusting other people’s musicianship, and being open to people’s ideas. Eventually, things emerge.”
The rest of the album deftly balances those classic Shoegaze references with Ledesma’s by-now perfected drum machine and tape delay arrangements, gradually dipping into more experimental terrain as the album progresses, especially on the beautiful Autumn interlude, and the closing field recording treatment Door to Night, effectively taking us away from the abundance and glee of the first half and into the introspective tristesse as the seasons pass.
Ride release their first album in over twenty years, ‘Weather Diaries’.
“Produced by legendary DJ, producer and remixer Erol Alkan, ‘Weather Diaries’ is packed with all the classic elements that made Ride one of the defining bands of the early 90s. Trembling distortion, beautiful harmonies, pounding rhythms, shimmering soundscapes and great songwriting all combine to make an album that’s ambitious in scope, timeless and thoroughly addictive.
The album sees the band reunited with label co-founders Dick Green and Mark Bowen, who worked with Ride during the band’s early years on Creation Records. It also brings the band back together with mixer Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers) who mixed their seminal 1990 album ‘Nowhere’ and produced its follow up ‘Going Blank Again’."
The Brötzmann / Leigh duo push a taut, distortion-oiled copulation of pedal steel guitar and tenor/alto-saxophones/tarogato and B-Flat clarinet in the cranky squeeze of Sex Music for Austria’s Trost, offering the 2nd officially recorded and released result of an ongoing touring/recording partnership following Ears Are Filled With Wonder [Not Two Records, 2016].
Candidly documenting the duo in their element at Music Unlimited in Wels, Austria late 2016, we can hear the pair’s fluidly exchanging dominant/submissive roles across the piece, with Leigh’s sheets of plangent, warbly dissonance alternately pierced and smoothed by bleating and melodic pressure from Brötzmann, naturally moving from clambering intensity to blissed serenity but also prone to punkish caterwaul and frankly, anything-goes bursts of incendiary emotion that are captivating to witness.
Portland, OR-based artist Daneil Menche return to the fold of Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner’s Sige with a 12-track, 3 hour somnambulant induction, Sleeper.
Fuck knows we haven’t got the time to go through it all without taking a little nap under the desk, but scanning through we can hear the vibe is dead heavy lidded and definitely shouldn’t be consumed whilst operating heavy machinery. We recommend eating a pound of cheese and sprinkling gravel on your preferred sleeping surface before immersion…
“It is easy to forget that our eyes are constantly seeing even when they are shut. We can still sense the faint traceries of blood vessels until the dark dims our view. Strange sparkles of light flicker and swim across our eyelids as they are chased by darkness. Subtle abstract films play every night, even in our deepest slumber, projected on the movie screens found inside our eyes. "Sleeper" is a soundtrack to these internal films. Play it loud or quiet: our eyes are always seeing. And don't forget....... Ears wide shut.”
The Ostgut Ton staple yields a 2nd album of intricate house and electronica designs with Work for the Berlin-based powerhouse.
Urged by a restless, hypnotic dancefloor sensibility, but measured out in waves of alternating pressure, Work scales between a broad range of styles and tempos within Höppner’s house remit, stretching from Plaid-like IDM with opener All By Themselves (My Belle) to Suicide-al strokes of Three Is A Charm W/ Randweg at the close, glyding thru bassliebn-driven garage-house tribalism in Clean Living w/ Tram 78; West London broken beat suss in Hoel Head; a slow-motion dive with The Dark Segment; and even pulsating Italo-disco-pop with From Up And Down.
An Album Co-Composed By Four Musicians: Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, James Mcalister...
"Flanked by a string quartet and a consort of seven trombones, this unique collaborative ensemble have assembled an expansive song cycle that explores the Sun, the Moon, the planets and other celestial bodies of our solar system (and beyond) through soundscape, song, science and myth.
The subject of the album is not just the wilderness of outer space, but also the interior space of human consciousness and how it engages with divinity, depravity, society and self - what does it mean to be human? A musical and aesthetic journey as far-reaching as its subject: from lush piano ballads to prog-rock political anthems, curious electronic backbeats to classical cadenzas, which occasionally give way to ambient interludes and majestic brass chorales, buttressed by a percussive drive that keeps the momentum skyward.
In spite of all the experimentation in sound and style, Sufjan’s vocals provide a clear and coherent centre of gravity, and includes some of his most diverse vocal performances to date (from soft hush to guttural scream); whether he’s singing through effects pedals, vocoders, auto-tune or not, his voice delivers an ambitious flight map through the cosmos..."
Philippe Hallais aka Low Jack returns to Modern Love with a debut album under his own name, this time round unfurling a deeply seductive and opaque mixture of squashed dream pop and ambient shimmers, sounding something like Badalamenti/Lynch doing Shoegaze except a lot more weird and beautiful...
It’s an album in the tradition of great records by Hype Williams, Leyland Kirby and, more recently, Yves Tumor; inhabiting a sonic world where not everything is quite what it seems. It offers familiarity and warmth one moment, dread and transformation the next, with an aesthetic that can basically be defined by that iconic image of the trophy cabinet in Twin Peaks, slowly zooming in on Laura Palmer’s framed face.
Divided into four sides (and eleven tracks) acting as parts in a greek tragedy, the album delves into the dislocations of the mythology of sports and its achievement in mass entertainment; whereby the hero becomes a dispensable and mimetic body. It delves into this unusual portrayal of triviality and disaster, naivety and cynicism that make the real life and ordeals of the hero indistinguishable from their scripted form on TV.
And so the narrative flows from the introspective ambient fizz of the opening Theme (Trophies) - sounding like the Cure’s All Cats are Grey as heard through the cracks, shrouded in several layers of auditory fog, through to the goosebump inducing Angela (Square), complete with punctuated snare/bassdrum crashes, to the Thriller-esque/Actress vibes on Fantasy (4U).
Feel (Storm) is like Jóhann Jóhannsson’s brass masterpiece Virðulegu Forsetar looped, phased and slowed down, before the album closes on the daytime tv vibes of Hero (Theme); a sound to get immersed in, mimicking life with its transition from the tragic to the sublime.
Life is short, seize the moment.
Impressive 3rd album from Ali Wells’ Perc project, diversifying his techno bonds along temporal, textural and spatial vectors by working influence from instrumental avant-garde composition, flashcore and ambient electronics into his rugged dancefloor structures.
Much more than a butcher’s tray of industrial bone ends, Bitter Music feels like a proper artist statement from an artist who has finer realised how to incorporate all the things he’s into whilst remaining true to his now, hard-worked sound.
The noisy, techngostic bookends of Exit and After Ball are comparable with strong aspects of Kraftwerk and Prurient as much as The Sprawl, whilst the body of the album smartly oscillates between chest-quaking kickers such as Unelected, the distended knocks of Chatter, and some proper lamping gear in Look At What Your Love Has Done To Me via canny insights to his esoteric side with the Dockstader-esque concrete clangour of Wax Apple and an ace sample of British pop artist Peter Blake in I Just Can’t Win, with a serious, prang out peak reserved for the speedcore pounding of Spit, just in case you were getting disorientated by the more abstract aspects.
Mannequin dig into the ruined foundations of ‘90s industrial rhythmic noise with reissue of Orphx’s debut cassette couplet and previously unheard 4-track tapes.
Scrolling back to early ‘90s Ontario, Canada - the site of Orphx’s first doings - Archive 1993-1994 reveals the noisy, abstract genesis of a unit who are maybe best known nowadays for their steely techno productions and valued modular synths skills, has released on Adam X’s Sonic Groove and heard alongside synthy collaborators ranging from Junior Boys’s Jeremy Greenspan to dark techno overlord, Dave Foster aka Huren in recent years.
Taking their cues from then contemporary European and Japanese noise scenes, Orphx hatched a feral and fucking busted sound that stirred improvised elements of power noise, electro-acoustic process and the notion of ‘death industrial’ into a crushing cacophony at their erstwhile member, Aron T’s basement studio named The Pit, wresting a guttural and unheimlich sound that wouldn’t be out of place on the Harbinger Sound catalogue or even Hospital Productions, who are coincidentally behind an expanded CD version of this collection.
The first disc of this set corresponds to their debut tape, 01 [Excretia, 1993], which was originally issued in edition of only 100 copies. It’s severely dank and distended stuff, akin to being pulped by a slow blowing sandblaster, prone to buckle and collapse under its own weight and undergo fits of spasming death gargle, with the’ rhythmic’ component pretty much reserved to the percussive detonations and metal-shearing screech of Excruciate and the bombed out hulk of Monophilia, which both make a mockery of much modern noise techno.
Disc two contains the gear off tape 02 [Excretia, 1994] along with unheard material, bookending the systematic immolation of Exposure and the very Prurient-esque Reservoirs of Infection with a much broader sound in the dive-bombing drone formation, Veil Of Dream and finally spewing up the black bile of the Wolf Eyes-like Beautiful Wreckage and a palpitating, cloven beast of Live Fragment 21/10/94, which is uncannily close to fellow Canucks, Wold/Black Mecha, but twenty years earlier.
It’s all basically as rare as chalky white dog shit (which we’ve not seen since the ‘90s; coincidence?!?!) and totally aches for the attention of noise grotbags everywhere.
Rivers collects in album form the two recent 12" vinyl releases (Retina and Iris) from Swedish duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums.
For this new venture, Swedish duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums expand their singular, percussion-heavy sound with the recruitment of the Schola Cantorum Reykjavik Chamber Choir, who have previously worked with Bjork on her all-vocal album, Medulla. In fact the Icelandic connection doesn't end there: the EP features arrangement from Hildur Guðnadótir, recording by Ben Frost and production from the latter's Bedroom Community pal, Valgeir Sigurðsson. The outcome of all this is a brilliant five-song release that hopefully gives some indication of the direction this band might head in next. As ever, vocalist Mariam Wallentin leads the way with a bewitchingly charismatic performance, and Andreas Werliin imposes a structural backbone via his drums, but the choral elements really add to the duo's music. It might be said that the ordinarily very fulsome and versatile percussive elements are ever so slightly impoverished by this new direction, but it's a trade-off that works well, particularly on 'Fight For Me' which locks onto a memorably mighty thud.
While Retina was recorded in a Reykjavik church with the Schola Cantorum Chamber Choir, this release sees Wildbirds & Peacedrums reverting to their conventional duo line-up, with Andreas Werliin playing drums and percussion while Mariam Wallentin undertakes some fairly major multitasking: singing while playing steel drums and an organ bass pedal. Once again, Bedroom Community mainstays Valgeir Sigurðsson and Ben Frost are in charge of recording and mixing duties, but this time it all takes place within the facilities of Greenhouse Studios. Despite the more controlled production environment you really get a sense of this duo's stunning presence as a live act, and Wallentin's ability to carve out a strong, melodically coherent song using such minimal and often abstract accompaniment is truly something to behold. The strongest entries are the songs bookending the EP: 'The Wave' establishes a memorable chorus from the vantage point of a slow tempo and methodical bass intervals, while closing track 'The Well' has real urgency and kinetic energy about it, building to a climax full of thrashing cymbals and flurrying steel drum work.