Another amazing entry from ‘70s Ethiopia, introducing krar player, singer and national icon Asnakech Worku to the world at large with a beautiful collection of songs made alongside Hailu Mergia at the height of her career, most notably on a haunting prototype of Mergia’s standard ‘Tche Belew’
“There is perhaps no woman more cherished in modern Ethiopian history than Asnakech Worku. As a musician, actress, dancer and cultural icon, Asnakech inspired and challenged society for decades, until her death in 2011. From her beginnings as Ethiopia’s first theater actress in 1952 to her acclaimed film appearances to her days as a club owner-turned-master musician, Asnakech’s inimitable confidence and charm made her a household name. She earned endless accolades across the artistic spectrum.
She made seminal recordings of unforgettable original compositions, as well as legendary renditions of traditional songs, that became national staples. With a singular sense of style, glamour and sex appeal that sometimes stunned mainstream society, Asnakech wore clothes no one else wore and said things no one else said. Staid notions of how women should dress and behave didn’t apply to her. Battling a mentality that until the early 1950s had men wearing dresses to play female roles in the theater, Asnakech became a national treasure on her own terms.
Her family wasn’t pleased with Asnakech becoming an azmari—an itinerant praise musician who sings, often in bars, for tips—and didn’t bother her, especially after Emperor Haile Selassie I began to emphasize theater and music in society, officially legitimizing her career. Asnakech became an internationally-celebrated performer of Ethiopia’s ancient harp, the krar, making her one of the most visible female musicians of the 20th century. All this while leaving controversy, broken hearts and a changed cultural landscape in her wake.
In 1975, keyboardist and bandleader Hailu Mergia got a call from the owner of Misratch Music Shop to do a recording with Asnakech and he went for it. This recording is a nearly-forgotten artifact of the remarkable icon’s singular legacy, remastered and available outside Ethiopia for the first time. It also provides a rare glimpse into Mergia’s work as a arranger-sideman in the Addis Ababa music scene.”
Polish ambient composer Bednarczyk gracefully boomerangs back to Room40 with the diffuse structures of ‘Illustrations For Those Who’ nearly a decade on from his early couplet of ‘Summer Feelings’ and ‘Painting Sky Together’ landed on Lawrence English’s label
“Across the late 00s, Tomasz Bednarczyk created a series of acclaimed ambient recordings that married the unsteadiness of archival technologies with an extensive palette of pastoral timbres. These recordings quietly set a particular tenor of work for a new generation of Middle Eastern European ambient composers.
Following these recordings however Bednarczyk’s energies were re-directed with his time being split between a multiple of more techno oriented electronic music outings.
In early 2018, following the success of his New Rome project released in 2016, Bednarczyk began exploring a new approach to his more atmospheric works. Using an incredibly reductive set-up, he took single sources and exploded their potentials. Through a process of layering and synthesis, he was able to create incredibly minimal, yet dense sound textures from very singular materials. Within a matter of weeks he had devised a new way of approaching his more ambient compositional interests.
Illustrations For Those Who is the result of this first investigation. Each piece is singular in nature, in that its source is one synthesiser or instrument. The resulting pieces though are anything but singular. Rather, each of them maintains a detailed and rich sensibility built around complex cycling of sonic materials.
This edition marks out an important new direction for Bednarczyk and firmly asserts him as a continued force for ambient music emanating out of Eastern Europe.”
Unique psychedelic killers from Niagara, mounting a sterling debut album with Lisbon’s Príncipe five years after their first 12”, ‘Ouro Oeste’ . Trust that they have lost none of the weirdness that’s endeared them to freaks around the world ever since they emerged. If anything they’re stranger, more spaced-out and porous to wild influence...
Outlining Niagara’s definitive description of contemporary exotica, ‘Apologia’ limns a frayed, buzzing sort of “Fourth World PLUS” sound, where the “PLUS” refers to their embrace of noise as an agent of chaos. But it’s not necessarily malefic chaos, and should be taken as a smart acknowledgement of the overlooked yet crucial role that roughness of grain and construction play in contrast with so many clinically smooth and even anodyne efforts from the same, imagined arena of worldly music for a new age.
In allowing for the entropy of time and the inevitable infidelity of attrition to enter their soundsphere, Niagara’s organic machine music keenly reflects a natural world order without the need for algorithmic process. Their world is a fertile interplay of acoustic and electronic sources rendering hazy, fata morgana-like glimpses of musical possibility, practically triangulating the visions of likeminds such as Jamal Moss/Hieroglyphic Being and Dolo Percussion with the explorative precedents of Portugul’s Telectu to realise a fine expression of anachronistic modernism.
Most of the tracks loosely work around 3 minute timeframes, lending a zig-zagging mosaic quality to the tracklist in between its longer parts. Richly colourful spiritual jazz arps and raw machine grooves spring from opener ‘França’, triggering a cascade of ideas that bends between acidic kosmiche in ‘6:30’ to the heatsick boogie gliss of ’40’ and the stark emptiness of ‘Senhora Do Cabo’, to give up the gorgeous, extended flute and acid meditation ’Siena’, and mess with Vangelis-style synth majesty on ‘Via Garibaldi’, before spending their coolest energies in the drowsy Afro-latin swagger of ‘Cabo Verde.’
It’s hard to ignore the fact that Alberto, António and Sara a.k.a. Niagara have distilled their sound to imperfection on ‘Apologia’, resulting one of 2018’s most crucial and vital electronic albums.
First ever pressing of a 1975 psych throw-down by soon-to-become important members of the Belgian wave underground; Alain Neffe, Guy Marc Hinant, and friends
“Something undoubtedly cosmic but with a DIY, home-made edge: a cosmos for sure, but dirtier than clean, noisier than technology-based. All songs are unreleased. Recorded and mixed in March 1975. After some years rather cosmic and raga-esque music, Kosmose slowly began to explore some more experimental and noisy sonic expression. At the time, the band only owned a few instruments and sound effects and, no drummer. They used to play long tracks in order to follow the trend of the alternative music of the period -- remember, this was 1975. The event was a total spectacle with an inventive light-show including a stroboscope and a frantic projection of strange abstract slides on a giant screen by Freddy Pourcel. Some incense was burnt time-to-time. Personnel: Alain Neffe - monophonic synthesizer, flute, primitive rhythm box, bell, clumsy voice, tarang; Francis Pourcel - bass, bass with violin bow, electric guitar; Daniel Malempré (aka MAL) - electric guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar.”
Première release of a pivotal piece by important American composer, Julius Eastman.
After more than 40 years, Julius Eastman’s Femenine - a euphoric, colourful, and inventive work by the brilliant but criminally overlooked composer with the S.E.M. Ensemble - finally sees the light of day thanks to Finland’s Frozen Reeds, bringing to life a wondrous iteration of the highly fertile 1970s north american minimalist/modern classical nexus for a whole new generation of ears.
Notable not least as the only known recording of Femenine, recorded live in 1974 at Composers Forum in Albany, New York - which makes it only the 2nd CD with Eastman’s name at the top - this release also documents the composer on piano (whilst wearing a dress, as it goes) and features his unique innovation, a set of mechanised sleigh bells, rattling throughout the 72 minute performance, which, in a way, neatly characterises the artist’s wide-open, pioneering idiosyncrasies and dichotomies for anyone new to his work.
Un/fortunately, depending your perspective, far too many folk will be new to his work or even unaware of Eastman’s involvement in some true totems of the time; whether that’s as lead vocalist on Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs For A Mad King (1971), playing keys on Dinosaur L’s disco-not-disco classic 24→24 Music (1981), or conducting Arthur Russell’s Tower of Meaning (1983). And we say too many folk, because, all considered, until quite recently, Eastman has been long overdue the shine afforded to many of his peers and contemporaries.
As a Gay, Afro-American new music composer, pianist and vocalist in the ‘70s, Eastman’s work was innately politicised and exceptional by the nature of its provenance, not to mention the music itself, which pulled from his personal history as much as wider social movements to represent a uniquely fluid perspective on minimalist music’s rigid process and presentation right up to his untimely death, aged 50 in 1990.
With that in mind, Feminine stands at a crossroads between Eastman’s earlier chamber work Stay On It, and later pieces such as his iconic, majestic Evil Nigger and the ambiguous flux of emotions in Gay Guerilla; sounding quite unlike any of them thanks to its sense of communal joy (there were somewhere between 12 and 15 players) and the polymetric meter of his mechanised sleigh bells, coupled with a display of massed, pitching tonal colour that moves with the kind of deliquescent, flighty optimism that’s hard not to be wowed by.
Ultimately, it genuinely lives up to the mantle of “new music” and presents its ideas in a deeply refreshing, insistent, yet never-cloying manner.
A huge recommendation.
‘What Light There Is’ finds Janek Schaefer feeding off and disassembling Robert Wyatt’s ‘Cuckooland’  album in his sublime style, paired with seven new, original pieces that share a captivating eldritch aura. Huge recommendation if you're into work by The Caretaker, Philip Jeck, WIlliam Basinski.
Continuing a series of releases reverential of significant British composers, writers and artists such as J.G. Ballard and John Tavener, Janek treats Robert Wyatt’s material with the same poetic license. What follows is an immersive, hypnagogic episode from the mental realm between waking life and dreamspace, gently teasing the pastoral loveliness of Wyatt’s music into a woozy, heavy-lidded parallel dimension.
As always with Schaefer’s work, the idea of nostalgia and the fidelity of memory is also key to the appeal of ‘What Light There Is Tells Us Nothing’. In the 21 minute title piece, commissioned by the Sounds New Festival in Canterbury and presented as a multi-channel radio installation, Schaefer revels in the profundity of Wyatt’s work with poignant slivers filtered into gaseous shapes suggesting a fleeting mix of pastoral glory and somnambulant melancholy comparable with the most striking Philip Jeck works, or the trace echoes of memory supplied by The Caretaker.
The other seven pieces follow with a more cinematic appeal, as though we’ve dozed off during a midday matinee programme in middle England and slipped into a silvery phantasy of medieval gallantry and posh English gentry, before nods to Schaefer’s Polish ancestry flicker into his nostalgic reverie via the bobbling loops and glitching chorales of his three ‘Corah’ pieces.
Sterling sophomore side of diaphanous dream-pop from Penelope Trappes (The Golden Filter), whose debut LP for Optimo was among 2017’s most haunting highlights...
On ‘Penelope Two’, Trappes takes us back to a misty space outta place and time, somewhere between the reveries of Julee Cruise and David Lynch, the shadowier side of Julia Holter, and Felicia Atkinson’s ambient chamber music.
“These distilled, rarefied creations take echoes as their starting point, with Trappes summoning swathes of tones, textures and emotions into something ethereal but also powerful, like an evocation of spirits. It’s also deeply melodic, with her intimate, maternally-tender voice floating in the middle of each three dimensional, womb-like sonic space.
Originally from the Northern Rivers of NSW, Australia before moving to New York and developing experimental electronic projects Locke and Priscilla Sharp, plus her best-known incarnation with partner Stephen –The Golden Filter.”
Presenting richly detailed hydrophone recordings of algae development in the rapdily depleting Arctic, Jana Winderen’s latest research is a fascinating and acutely topical study of ‘Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone’.
Prefaced by a sobering interview with world-renowned Professor of Marine Science, Carlos Duerte, the album presents headphone and speaker mixes of the title track, offering an immersive sonic inspection of the transitional area between open sea and sea ice, where the world’s biggest bloom of phytoplankton - the micro-organisms that produce half of the oxygen on the planet - accounts for the most critical CO2 sink in the biosphere.
The results are unmistakably foreboding, layering the sounds of blooming plankton with the tense cracks, pops and creaks of sea ice, and the subaquatic sound of bearded seals, migrating humpbacks and orcas, crustaceans and spawning cod, into a properly suspenseful and eerily alien experience.
Revolving around hot-wired sluggers, Melvin Oliphant III (Traxx), Beau Wanzer and Jason Letkiewicz, Mutant Beat Dance turn out a monstrous debut album packing 25 tracks of zig-zagging, raw electronic blatz for the dancefloor and beyond.
Including more gear than you can shake three sticks at, the MBM posse make up for lost time since their ‘PolyfonikDizko’  outing by throwing some of their strongest gear into the pot and stirring it good and proper for those dancers and DJs who prefer buffets over fine dining. That’s not to say this all ain’t tasty AF, but there is a f***ck tonne of it.
We could be here all day playing favourites, but there are some obvious numbers to highlight and give taste of the breadth of styles on offer. Most unexpectedly, the trippy recursions of ‘From Another Source’ come off like a cyberpunk take on Torsten Pröfrock’s Traktor aces, Funk Groove (skit) sounds like a killer reworking of Prince's Erotic City while ‘Revival 80s’ trades in killer proto-Drexciyan vibes; ‘Midi’ offers proper, scowling darkwave pressure. For the sickest sequencer tweaks, check out the ruddy swerve of ‘Uncanny Ignorance’, and try not to buckle in the psychoactive recursions of ‘The Fear of Future and Euphoria’ or spin your limbs off in the razorblade whirling arps and scissoring rhythms of ‘No Ambition’.
Reto A Ichi is the new alias of Guillermo Scott Herren, also known as Prefuse 73.
"The act of escaping that which is predestined. / A hustle. Reto A Ichi is a sonic tabula rasa for Guillermo Herren AKA Prefuse 73. There are identifiable elements of the artist you already know - an uncanny sense for rhythm, an ability to shape samples and frequencies like clay, an affinity for the subtle changes of repetition - yet this is first and foremost music born from the need for silence. There is no easy entrance point or index for the listener.
The first album, The Lapse of Exchange, is the sound of life as heard from a small Chinatown window in downtown Manhattan, the thunder of populism on the horizon. The album opens with music that reflects the inherent tension between the life of the artist - the self-doubt, the late nights, the aspirations - and the world outside - the hustle and bustle of a city that never sleeps, the wars abroad, the politicians at home. It's a tension felt in the repeating, circling keys of "Let The Pianos Freeze", the pulsating rhythms of "No Juntos", or the call and response of pitched vocal samples in "A Sword In The Rain". Ultimately it all becomes too much for our unwitting hero: the car horns outside the window, the 24 hour news cycle, the early stages of an election that tears down any remaining semblance of normality. Reto A’ichi can no longer grasp his humanity or connect to that of people around him.
With the walls closing in, he packs his small life and escapes. This change in situation is reflected in the second half of the album, with tension giving way to a rush of emotions: modulated elation on "All Regrets", sweeping melancholy on "Tuesdays Always Awful", and soaring hope on "Broad Plant Pt.2". On Alone Moving Often, the second album, we find Reto A’ichi away from the city, lost in the vastness of empty summer houses and the complications that solitude brings. Sitting in the prison of his own quiet, Reto A’ichi seeks to capture the essence of silence: the compositions are stripped back further ("Pforever Reto"), the instruments given prominence ("So Contra"), and the chaos of the city replaced by the cacophony of nature ("Criminality"). To be alone, one must learn to constantly move in both work and purpose. As the rest of the record unfolds, Reto A’ichi comes to realize that nothing is ever truly quiet and that to run from the world is to simply find yourself in another part of it. A sense of acceptance for these unsettling realities is reflected in the music, from the harsher tones and frequencies that resonate throughout "Noise Counter Melody" and "Ghost Arpeggio" to the heavy stroke of the keys on "Alone Moving Often" and the haunting drone of "Mountainside Hillside"."
‘Chindia Tower Impalements’ is Âmes Sanglantes’ foul and torrid 3 hour dedication to Vlad The Impaler, the infamous Voivode of Wallachia during the 15th century. Three years after the original tape release, and in parallel with a new 3CD reissue, Hospital Productions see fit to dispense this downloadable version, remastered for purpose by Paul Corley.
“Âmes Sanglantes means "bloody souls". Nowhere else in Âmes Sanglantes' sprawling and massive wild/punk/junk discography has this idea been more focused than on the epic and original Chindia Tower Impalements, as well as on cult tapes like Anti-Anti (1999), Mega Star Barbies, Violation, and the immense and impossible 12-hour-long Crackdown cassette box from Hospital Productions last year. This newly remastered version is the definitive document revealing the cruelty of the Wallachian landscape myths and realities. Dracula vs. Vlad Tepes... Caustic, brittle, and eerie, the six long-duration tracks secure Âmes Sanglantes as one of the most original and overlooked extreme electronic monikers of the '90s North American cassette underground.
Distorted but textural where the voices of young androgynous screams mingle together with chirping birds and wolf breath. It's the subtle layering and tape splicing structure beneath the crust that elevates this above the average "noise" recording. You will have to dig and claw past the walls built out of clay bricks, but beyond that is a rich and subtle world of loops equal parts Georges Braque and William Basinski, like collapsing scaffolding melting and crumbling on top of each other. This is rotting electro-acoustic studies where one can see a portrait float to the surface in the rippling and muddy puddles. Shockingly, after nearly 100+ cassette-only release since 1996, this comes forward as the first Âmes Sanglantes compact disc. A true student of the '90s, you'll find a stunning presentation that is equal parts in reference to Cold Meat Industry as well as Japan's Alchemy Records. So open up the old CD changer, light a few candles, and a pour the red wine for an epic that revives the imagination of times lost and losses yet to come. RIYL: William Basinski, Incapacitants, Brighter Death Now, and the early works of Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement. Remastered by Paul Corley (Oneohtrix Point Never, Ben Frost, Prurient).”
Barn Owl’s Jon Porras (Elm) arrestingly redresses his sound from the ground up in ‘Voices Of The Air’, a diaphanous new album of tempered ecstasies crafted with the multi-timbral voices of the Yamaha DX7 synth
“Taking the Yamaha DX7 as his main instrument on Voices of the Air, Porras read about John Chowning's work with FM synthesis, where a sound waveform's frequency, called the carrier, is modulated with a frequency similar in range. The result is a nuanced and multidimensional voice, and the possibilities are endless. Yamaha specifically licensed Chowning's creations for the DX7, and Porras spent a sleepless weekend poring through the manual, figuring out how to build textures. Taking a conscious step away from improvisation, Porras used these new sounds "as a plastic source to shape and mold." He stacked, arranged and adjusted through digital synthesis and effects. "The process felt like mixing paint to get the right color and texture, then laying down a brushstroke, each day returning to the canvas to build on something I left there from the day before," says Porras.
Once he had the basic structures he experimented with them in live performance,e took the stand-up comedian route with new material and tried out performing it live, (kinda weird esp in the experimental music context ha) seeing what worked, what provoked reactions in the audience, how to perfect each composition to its ideal form. This process went from June 2017 to February of this year, when into he recorded the album at Gary's Electric Studio in Greenpoint with Al Carlson to record the album. Voices of the Air broadcasts these intricate balance of sounds that slowly set together like wet concrete. In their final forms, Porras has created an album of delicacy and power, one that is only fully realized by a listener ready to allow it to take full effect.”
Punch Drunk & Tectonic pay dues to pivotal Bristol duo Smith & Mighty with an unmissable compilation marking 30 years of crucial, if overlooked, influence on Avon bass styles and the UK scene at large. Anyone into dubby strains of breakbeat rave, jungle, dubstep - the ‘ardcore ‘nuum - needs to check this one!
Weighing in 10 massive riddims recorded between 1988-1994, ‘The Ashley Road Sessions’ drills down to the mutant roots of deep, UK rave music as a synthesis of Jamaican dub, rolling hip hop breaks, deep house pads and nagging electronics - a sound that was arguably unprecedented in British dance music for its bias toward proper, wide and glutinous subbass and stoned, rolling structures, rather than wide-eyed nuttiness.
Back in the late ‘80s this sound sort of had parallels in the rolling dance forms of SoYo bleep techno and NYC house, but Smith & Mighty were out on their own in Bristol, a city steeped in Caribbean culture perhaps more than any other in the UK. It was here that Smith & Mighty shaped a definitive Bristol sound at the time when The Wild Bunch and Massive Attack were also coming into their own. It’s maybe stating the obvious that Massive Attack have had the most financial success since then, but ask almost any Bristolian DJ or raver and they’ll tell you Smith & Mighty were the real dons of that era.
‘Ashley Road Sessions’ is another timely reminder, then, where needed, of S&M’s masterfully grooving, deep and rude style. Stepping down the timeline from Bristol Sound Archive’s ‘The Three Stripe Collection 1985-1990’ to the most critical phase of UK rave music circa 1988-1994, you’ll hear acid house moulded for play on proper sound systems, with proper scoops that could recreate the sensuous pressure of their subs and crisp, lithe percussion and filigree moire of FX. Sounds that could equally work in a big dance or a packed, smoky blues, provided the system was rite and nice.
If pushed to pick favourites from this set, we’d highlight the bare bones pressure of ‘Through A Dark Cloud’, where the division between UK steppers dub, D&B and hard techno is only a slight pattern change; also the beautiful slow chuggers’ recoil and spine-tracing arps of ‘Higher Than Tempo’; the skittish jungle dexterity of ‘Filmscore’; the haunting dread dub dirge ‘Tumbling (Death March)’; and the proper ravers’ spesh, ‘Always Be There (Step Up)’, but we’d be remiss to not state it’s all killer, absolutely no filler.
For any with an interest in the history of UK dance music, the technoid links between dub and techno, the Black Atlantic, or who simply like getting red-eyed and having a bubble, this set is 100% indispensable.
Planningtorock - aka Jam Rostron - return with their radical fourth album ‘Powerhouse’ via DFA Records.
"‘Powerhouse’ was written and recorded across Berlin, London, New York and Los Angeles. It comes couched in the precision-tooled synths that have become Rostron’s signature, though critics and fans will hear a subtle, ear worm-y shift in style here: from the Noughties US R&B swagger of ‘Transome’ and the bubbling old school 90s house of ‘Beulah Loves Dancing’ and ‘Non Binary Femme’, to the funky, flute-laced ‘Much To Touch’ (the only track on ‘Powerhouse’ to feature a co-producer, long-time friend and collaborator Olof Dreijer of The Knife).Ultimately, ‘Powerhouse’ is a celebration of liberation, a groove-filled record that sees Rostron consolidating power both personal and artistic."
David Tibet pairs his apocalyptic prognostications with plush pastoral backdrops ranging from unsettlingly rose-tinted to beautifully melancholic, supplied by Andrew Liles, Ben Chasny, and various, nefarious associates of Coil, including bagpiper Michael J. York and Ossian Brown (Cyclobe)
““The Light Is Leaving Us All” is the new album from Current 93, everyone’s favourite Hallucinatory Cuneiform SuperGroup.
Three years in Her Making and Shaping, “The Light Is Leaving Us All” Spells WithIn Her 11 tracks.”
Bright, colourful modular magick from Mountains’ Koen Holtkamp in BEAST mode
“BEAST is a new project by composer Koen Holtkamp, known for his sweeping, maximalist work with Mountains, as well as his labyrinthian solo recordings. While taking some time away from music to focus on working with light and color his approach shifted, opening himself up to new working methods which led to the creation of a virtual ensemble of sorts. The process of refocusing on music found Holtkamp gravitating towards pieces centered on simple rhythmic patterns which, when built upon one another, create elaborately intertwining castles of sound. On Ens, Holtkamp reins in his sprawling sound with new resolve, crafting tightly constructed pieces of engaging and ecstatic beauty.
Ens was made during a time of anticipation of change for Holtkamp: the birth of his first child. Having recorded and mixed the album late at night and at odd hours in the months leading up to the birth and during the early sleepless days of fatherhood, Ens (which means entity or existence) is a profoundly intimate and heartfelt journey into Holtkamp’s psyche. The constant motion created by the ebb and flow of rhythmic elements connects Ens’ diverse compositions and mirrors the building expectation of such a momentous change.
Holtkamp’s initial recordings as BEAST (Vol 1 & Vol 2) were mostly conceived for the immediacy and physicality of performance and were directly linked to a series of visual environments he created with 3D laser projections. As a purely studio project, Ens takes on a more precise and contemplative approach. Moments of blissful grandeur such as the convalescence of melodies in “Paprika Shorts” are at once overwhelming and crystalline in the placement and clarity of each sound. Deceptively simple pieces like “Boketto” and “Miniature” appear more sparse and subtle, but the arrangement of sounds reveal deeper levels of nuance with each listen. By carefully arranging and selecting each element, Holtkamp both references genre tropes, from classical minimalism to beat-driven dance music, and constructs a sound all his own. The intricately detailed depth of field gives the album an almost sculptural presence. This level of detail is underpinned by Holtkamp’s move towards more virtual instrumentation which he utilizes to push beyond the physical limitations of their acoustic equivalents, as well as to synthesize new instruments.
As BEAST, Holtkamp has nimbly altered his process of creating dense, immersive music. Ens stands as not only the culmination of his newfound methods, but also a deeply personal moment. In crafting the graceful and passionate sonic tapestries into compact compositions, BEAST’s Ens masterfully melds the earthbound and the ethereal.”
‘Ke I Te Ki’ documents the prepared intuitions of Akio Suzuki and Aki Onda, performing live in 2015 at The Emily Harvey Foundation - former studio of Fluxus founder George Maciunas. The pair make particular use of the room’s acoustics by moving around a lot while they “play” electric fans, radios, stone flute, and other assorted ephemera, resulting a fluid dispersal of sound from all corners of the stereo spectrum. An immersive recording, prone to surprise...
“This album "ke i te ki" was recorded in New York City in Fall 2015 at The Emily Harvey Foundation - a SoHo loft-style art space that was once the studio of Fluxus founder George Maciunas. Nam June Paik and Shigeko Kubota, whom Akio met around the early ‘80s, used to live in the same building; another former resident and friend of Akio, Yoshi Wada, was said to have done some of the carpentry and plumbing. It is a historic building of New York avant-garde culture, and the last of the artist co-ops that Maciunas created in New York City. How could this not have an effect on the recording?
We had one day of preparation for the multi-track recording, performing for two nights surrounded by a limited but packed audience. The Emily Harvey loft is itself quite constrained, and Akio and I needed a significant portion of the floor to place our gear and roam around. Microphones were everywhere, since our sounds diffused across the space.
My role was to set an assortment of “scenes” with field recordings, sustained drones generated by an industrial electric fan, and electronic tones and pulses from radios, et cetera. Akio then built upon these with layers of melodies and rhythmic patterns, while we both engaged in fabricating distinctive texture and timbre. Akio kept changing his instruments—such as the Analapos, the stone flute, discarded objects, et cetera—bringing surprises and sudden changes, creating contrast and powerful tension.
“ke i te ki” in Japanese means the sound of an alarm, or a whistle to call attention to a hazardous event. We hoped to further develop our unconventional style by adopting a set of self-imposed rules related to the multi-directional soundscape, acoustical response to the space, implementation of visual elements, and so on. Akio suggested the name “ke i te ki” as a reminder to push ourselves further. It was a lesson for us in questioning ‘norms’ and exploring other possibilities. It’s having no determined limit or boundary.”
Erik Griswold coaxes charmingly off-kilter, rhythmelodic ribbons of sound from his prepared piano on return to Room40 with ‘Yokohama Flowers’, his 6th release for fellow Antipodean, Lawrence English’s label. RIYL AFX’s prepared piano works, Indonesian gamelan, African thumb piano music
“For over two decades, Griswold has been crafting a particular and utterly personal language around his instrument of choice. His preparations, which are in a state of perpetual refinement, are like a kind of lens; it is through them that a certain audio reading of his instrument is made possible.
It’s understandable then that Griswold would be inspired by the work of Australian experimental film maker Louise Curham. Like Griswold, she too reveals a very personal reading of her surroundings through a range of preparations and expanded techniques. Discovering her work through a series of collaborations hosted by Room40, Other Film and other groups, the pair slowly developed a strong approach to joint performance.
In many ways, these recorded works reflect upon those performances. Similar to her filmic works, which maintain an unfamiliar, yet tangible beauty; Griswold’s compositions remind us that the piano is never truly knowable, or known. Each composition collected here reveals another detail or way of knowing the piano. The preparations release something in excess of the instrument itself.
It’s in these extensions, these ruptures of familiarity, that the language of the piano is born and reborn. It is a state of perpetual discovery and resolution, framed in composition.”
‘The Last Days of Reality’ is a broodingly enigmatic Lionel Marchetti composition performed on acoustic and electronic instruments by Decibel, a new music ensemble from Perth, Western Australia. Concrète poetry in effect...
“From Cat Hope (Decibel):
I first met Lionel Marchetti in Australia during the Liquid Architecture Festival in 2010. Decibel were touring our Alvin Lucier program, and Lionel was on the same bill performing a live performance set manipulating electro-acoustic materials with dancer Yoko Higashi. I was so taken with Lionel’s performances and the resulting music, that I asked him if he would write a piece for Decibel.
I didn’t realise that he hadn’t done something like this before. The first work was “Première étude (les ombres)”, communicated as a text score, and premiered in 2012. I was asked by Lionel to make some recordings of ocarinas, harmonicas, and folk instruments – and I sent these to him for the creation of a ‘partition concrète d'accompagnement’– a fixed media part that is featured in the live performance. For this piece, the part comes from speakers beside each performer, and a bass amplifier beneath the piano. Like his own performances I had seen the year before, the work was naturally performative – with unique speaker and performer configurations, interesting and odd additional instruments. It was such a rich work, a remarkable combination of electronic, spatial, acoustic and textural music. The performers use the partition concrete as a score.
I visited Lionel in Lyon, France in 2014, recording flute improvisations in his studio. He used these as a basis for “Une série de reflets”, again communicating via text instructions and each performer having their own dedicated speaker to interact with. “Pour un enfant qui dort”, which again requested flute sounds that were this time part of the live performance as well as the partition concrète, was also written around that time. The next work saw a more ‘compositional’ collaboration - “The Earth defeats me" began as a graphically scored work written by me and recorded by Decibel in the studio. That recording was used to make the partition concrète which is now an embedded as part of the animated score file, thanks to the software we had developed to do so.
These works exist as live performances, but also as singular concrète works, when heard without the instruments. Working with Lionel has been remarkable: he has a singular way of thinking about sound and its relationship to works and images. Music concrete is a lifestyle for him, it is a way of thinking, communicating and being. These pieces enable the acoustic instruments to be part of that – extending the ideas in the partition concrete, using them structurally and texturally, as well as being part of them.
When I first met Lionel, I didn’t realise he was in Australia because it was originally planned he would be travelling with French composer Éliane Radigue, performing some of her electroacoustic works, as her preferred diffuser. I would commission a work for Decibel from Élaine (“Occam Hexa II”) in 2014 and it was during that process I realised the link between them. Decibel performed Lionel and Eliane’s music together – it is music that concerns itself with the incredible power of sound, but from the most delicate and dream like perspective.”
Optimo’s JD Twitch cherry-picks classics, rarities and percies from Germany’s original independent post-punk scene from 1979-1985, including necessary oddball grooves and songs ranging from Malaria!’s snotty ohrwurm ‘Your Turn to Run’ to Andreas Dorau’s NDW rocket ‘Fred Vom Jupiter’, an edit of Christiane F’s sleazy ace ‘Wunderbar’, and the killer disko mission of ‘Veb Heimat’ by Weltklang
“This was an era of particular artistic upheaval in Germany; emphasis was placed on expression rather than technical perfection, artistic impact rather than skill. Bands consciously abandoned the English-speaking mainstream with German band names and lyrics. “Although we had a small underground scene, it was very vibrant,” explains Gudrun Gut of Malaria! “Bands like Die Haut, our first band Mania D., Malaria!... we organised gigs ourselves, hung around together in a handful of clubs like Risiko or Dschungel and went to gigs at SO36. West Germany had other regional scenes too: Düsseldorf and Köln around Der Plan and the Ata Tak label and there was the Hamburg side with Abwärts. Germany didn’t have a real music industry like the US or UK back then.”
This new collection is a personal selection from JD Twitch: “The compilation is not designed to tell a definitive story of what was going on in Germany in this era; it is more an arbitrary collection of records I adore from a specific era with a specific attitude that hopefully together sum up some of the musical undercurrents in Germany at that time.”
The package features a host of rare and unseen photos from the period along with extensive interviews with artists including Beate Bartel (Mania D.), Gudrun Gut (Malaria!, Mania D.) Christoph Dreher (Die Haut), Michael Hirsch (P1/E, ExKurs) and Thomas Voburka (Weltklang).”
Reissue of a wicked, rugged punk-funk/no-wave/jazz-fusion blast from Japan, 1983. Sounds like Les Vampyrettes meets 23 Skidoo at Haruomi Hosono’s studio for a proper lark. Not hard to hear why 2nd hand copies are highly coveted...
“Straight from the delirious minds of beautiful provocateur Kaoru Sato (who had previously released an album as R.N.A. Organism on legendary Osaka label Vanity Records) and unconventional genius Yuji "Banana" Kawashima, Lingua Franca-1 is a seamless voyage of spellbinding mutant funk grooves, joyful post-punk explorations, synth fantasies, sexy distortions, and fluid cool-no-sweat vocals. Constantly mutating in an almost biological way (similarly to Colored Music’s self-titled album), always mysterious and seductive, sometimes reminiscing of a freaky cross between PiL, Liquid Liquid, Bowie and Yello, EP-4’s debut is hard to label, although "Debonair Wave" could be a legitimate way to describe this Japan’s best-kept-secret of an album.
Defying the rules wasn’t limited to sonic experimentations for band leader Kaoru Sato. To promote Lingua Franca-1, he and his crew plastered gigantic (illegal) billboards all over Shibuya and Harajuku, announcing performances in four different cities on odd hours of the same day (May 21st 1983) - and yes the shows did happen. Other of his notable antics included originally sub-titling the album Death to the Emperor Showa causing a controversy (which led to censorship and a title-change), trying to release two albums on the same day without the concerned labels being aware of the plan or, in the R.N.A. Organism days, fooling Vanity Records into believing the demo he sent them came from a foreign band (it worked). Unique personality, unique music!”
Sterling 8th album by contemporary cold wave queen Molly Nilsson, baiting an apocalyptic near-future with some of the sweetest hooks and nagging lyrics you’ll hear before the world implodes. Lovers of John Maus, Courtney Love, and pop songs that won’t leave your head, need to give it a whirl
‘"After a cancelled flight I found myself stranded at the Tokyo airport overnight. Between my interrupted bench naps the surroundings found their way into my dreams, particularly the big banners in the departure hall stating: 2020. Not aware that they were announcing upcoming Olympic games, my imagination wandered. 2020, a leap year. The year of the rat, the election. Perfect vision. The year of hindsight. The repetition, the ritual of the superstitious. A spell cast on the approaching future; not yet there, but close enough to be seen with full clarity. The year itself seems to draw a circle around its followers, as to protect anyone who dares enter. And it all begins on a late-Capitalist night…"
Twenty-Twenty is Molly Nilsson’s 8th album; the latest opus of an artist in a constant state of development and strength. Twenty-Twenty is about emerging from the husk of your old self, about binning the chrysalis and daring to stand up both to power, and also to your own limits. In 2018, we see the climate changing, democracy crumbling, inequality and injustice erupting. 2020 examines the near future, seeking out clarity, reflection, renewal and opportunity. It contains anthems so tall as to induce vertigo, leaving the taste of Euro Dance in your mouth, albeit without a four on the floor beat. Here, the pop auteur is haunted by the late Prince, channelling Courtney Love and Lou Reed, anger and love.”
Atlantan electro contortionist Richard Devine presents his first significant body of work since ‘Risp’  with the complex designs and computerized soul of ‘Sort\Lave’ for Venetian Snares’ Timesig .
Recorded between 2016 and 2017 on Devine’s custom Eurorack modular rig and a couple of Nord G2 units, ’Sort\Lave’ is a hi-tech rinse-out best compared with the work of Autechre or indeed, Timesig boss, Venetian Snares’ recent modular output. And we don’t use either comparison lightly.
Where Devine has been releasing music on a computer for more than 20 years now, this is the first time he’s made tracks nose-to-tail on a modular set-up and the results are just staggering, and certainly worthy of those five years - pretty much since the completion of ‘Risp’ - spent just establishing the systems that would be used on the album.
Within this complex modular playground/framework he goes thru his exercises like a double-jointed gymnast with a mind & body-bending disarray of polymetrics thru insectoid swarms of percussion and diffracted chromatic madness.
If we’re playing favourites, the most dancefloor-ready pieces are in that list, including the tense, pendulous electro of ‘Opaque Ke’, the outstanding tech-step rolige of ‘Sentik Pin’, and the slow-fast teeter of ‘Revsic’, if you’ve got the legs for it, but if you’re in it for the next level sound design, the dizzying designs of ‘Microscopic Recurse’, the plonging torque of ‘k-0’ and the viscous roil of ‘Brux’ are waiting your dropped jaw.
Oh my days this is amazing! David Lynch & Angelo Badalamenti’s psycho-jazz duo Thought Gang commit a full album of music in this mode after previously racking up credits on the Twin Peaks, Fire Walk With Me, and Limited Event Series Soundtracks.
Recorded in the early ‘90s , Thought Gang’s “long-lost” LP revolves around 12 tracks that were made years apart yet add up to a most ominous dish of huffin’ blues, psycho-jazz and tumbles into breakbeat horror themes, including pieces which have previously turned up everywhere from an Adidas commercial to Mulholland Drive and deleted scenes from Fire Walk With Me.
I mean, we were under no illusions as to Lynch and Badalamenti’s inimitable skills, but this set only ratchets our admiration to new levels, with pieces such as the lounge lizard freakout ‘Jack Paints It Red’, the enigmatic mash of vocals and splayed jazz beat on ‘Woodcutters From Fiery Ships’, thru to the Gray and Bill Laswell-like ‘Frank 2000 Prelude’ and the 16 minute ‘Frank 2000’, or the doomy slink of ‘Multi-Tempo Wind Boogie’, all revealing that these guys operate on a parallel plane.
Welcome to your new favourite Lynch & Badalamenti record.
Nurse With Wound rework The New Blocakders rare AF 1982 début, ‘Changez Les Blockeurs’ in a mechanically reclaimed reflux of the OG, as gruesome as McNuggets, and just as tasty.
For the uninitiated (or sensible-minded) listeners who are unfamiliar with The New Blockaders: they’re one of the cheeriest acts to ever emerge from Newcastle-upon-Tyne; a pair of siblings responsible for some of post-industrial/noise and avant-garde music’s greatest oddities, ranging from a severe collab with an early iteration of Coil, to pioneering cut-up recordings with Mixed Band Philanthropist, and even later recording for Prurient’s Hospital Productions. They’re basically certified noise music heroes (anti-heroes?).
As ever, NWW’as Steven Stapelton was way ahead of the curve in 1982, and the first person to pick up TNB’s début LP, which he subsequently distributed via United Dairies. 36 years later, he’s returned to that slab, seemingly with a hatchet and some steam-powered Victorian loom, to extract its guts and weave them into a sound which physically lives up the record’s title; Changez Les Blockeurs.
Across two sides, he hacks, splices and hacks up the OG in a tirade of frayed rhythmic complexity and decimated racket, at times sounding like a Saturday afternoon’s worth of striped geordies fed into a massive sausage grinder.
As grim as your life.
Radical discovery by Amir Abdullah of 5 two-track master tapes of the Charles Mingus Quintet recorded live in Detroit at Strata Concert Gallery. These electrifying recordings took place during Mingus’ week-long residency in February 1973. They were broadcast live by drummer/producer and broadcaster Robert “Bud” Spangler for WDET FM – a public radio station dedicated to jazz – from Kenny and Barbara Cox’s multi-purpose home for Strata Records at 46 Selden. Entrance to the gig was $5 dollars in advance and $6 on the door.
"By the early Seventies Mingus’ militant musings, volatile character and hugely innovative musical offerings had already earned him global notoriety. He’d played with the Bird, Dizzy, Max Roach, Duke Ellington and had released universally acclaimed albums as a leader like ‘Blues & Roots’, Oh Yeah’ and ‘Black Saint & The Sinner Lady’. This gig – one of a Jazz In Detroit series that also included Keith Jarrett, Tribe and Herbie Hancock – took place a few months after the release of Mingus’ “third stream” masterpiece ‘Let My Children Hear Music’.
The music on these tapes is blazing. According to the late Roy Brooks, the band – which included himself and fellow Detroit trumpeter Joe Gardner - had not long returned from playing two tours in Europe. Fresh to the quintet was stellar pianist Don Pullen and listening to these recordings Pullen’s church-driven power, blues sensibility and harmonic sophistication perfectly complements the bassist’s own vision. On tenor saxophone we have the soulful and innovative John Stubblefield. Like Pullen he was a recent recruit. Unfortunately, the saxophonist’s time with Mingus lasted a mere 5 months: “I got in a fight with Mingus and I shouldn't have done that. After that, I couldn't get arrested in New York." Ironically, when Sue Mingus formed the Mingus Big Band in 1992, to perpetuate her husband's legacy, Stubblefield emerged as a talismanic presence in the ensemble until he passed in 2005.
Thanks to BBE, 180 Proof Records and Strata Records we can now tune in to WDET-FM and transport ourselves back to Detroit ’73, and get a taste of the furious energy and compositional sophistication of a unique and modern master at work in the most intimate of settings."
0PN live ensemble member, NYC’s Kelly Moran joins Warp to issue her new album of sync-ready electro-acoustic composition.
“The composer, producer, keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist made an early name for herself in New York collaborating with dance performance and composing for long-term John Cage collaborator Margaret Leng Tan, and, most recently, performing around the world as part of Oneohtrix Point Never’s live ‘MYRIAD’ tour ensemble.
‘Ultraviolet’ plays to a wide, arresting array of stylistic influences, from jazz and dream pop, to classical composition and black metal.”
30th Anniversary Edition of Pixies’ debut releases, ‘Come On Pilgrim’ and ‘Surfer Rosa’, also includes bonus 1986 Radio Concert ‘Live From The Fallout Shelter’.
"It’s been thirty years since the release of ‘Surfer Rosa’ – a record made up of rage, religion, gore, incest and superheroes named Tony – a debut album so good that it’s now seen as a masterpiece. A year prior came ‘Come On Pilgrim’, an eight-track mini-album released in 1987 which contained cuts culled from their first ever studio session, where they famously recorded seventeen tracks in just three days.
These formative records showed the Pixies to be an alien breed; four oddball outsiders from Boston blending US underground thrash rock, indie surf pop and Spanish-language flamenco with the Biblical mythology of Frances’s childhood. They would go on to record another masterpiece in 1989’s ‘Doolittle’ but it’s the gruesome glory of ‘Surfer Rosa’, and the ruined sexuality of its cover image (a topless flamenco dancer in a crumbling Mexican bar) that set a fresh blueprint for an indie rock dynamism that not only planted the seeds of grunge (Kurt Cobain would admit that he was trying to imitate the record while writing ‘Nevermind’) but of much of the best rock music made since.
To celebrate this milestone, Pixies are playing five sold-out intimate shows at London’s Roundhouse starting this October and preceding them is the release of ‘Come On Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa’, the thirtieth anniversary nedition which contains ‘Come On Pilgrim’, ‘Surfer Rosa’ and ‘Live From The Fallout Shelter’, a concert-cum-session that first aired in late-1986 on WJUL in Lowell, MA. Vaughan Oliver returns as designer – as with all other Pixies sleeves - to stunningly reinterpret his original artwork thirty years on, delivering a fresh take while retaining Simon Larbalestier’s iconic photographs as the centrepiece of his design."
Soul queen Georgia Anne Muldrow blesses her new home, Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder, with a deeply rooted but properly fresh album ‘Overload’ after taking a minute out since ‘A Thoughtiverse Unmarred’ . Watch out for the dripping late night vibes of ‘Canadian Hillbilly’ and the ruggeder knocks of ‘Play It Up’ and you’ll know which side your bread’s buttered...
““Music is my discipline. It’s my way of meditating, it’s my way of thanking God, it’s my way of communicating… It’s my way of life,” Georgia explains. Typically working alone, her new album flips that dynamic and takes Georgia out of her comfort zone for the first time since “Seeds” (2003) which was entirely produced by Madlib. “Overload” bears the fruits of numerous collaborations, most notably with duo Mike & Keys (50 Cent, Nipsey Hussle, Snoop Dogg, G-Eazy) who contribute production to four tracks including the sleek, anthemic title track - Pitchfork ‘Best New Track’ on 25 June 2018 - alongside Khalil (Dr Dre).
“Overload [the album] is an experiment in restraint,” she explains. I pack myself into something as clear as possible with the help of gifted artists from all over the world. The live show is an experiment in interpretation. That's when [my band] The Righteous and I unpack into a joyful noise. Both of these dynamics have been striving to balance themselves within me since birth… since wanting to record anything. And by the grace of Patience, Discipline and Devotion, a sweet spot has started to appear.”
Elsewhere Dutchman Moods and Manila’s Lustbass bring the slo-mo funk heat on ‘Aerosol’ and ‘Vital Transformation’ respectively, and Shana Jenson (Muldrow) and Georgia’s partner Dudley Perkins crop up on ‘You Can Always Count On Me’ (a cover of the Gap Band classic) and ‘These Are The Things I Like About You’. Flying Lotus, Aloe Blacc and Dudley Perkins share Executive Production credits on the album.
Themes of Love, Spirituality, Self-Actualisation are woven into Georgia’s music, but she also does not shy away from politics and has been loudly and vigorously critical of the persistent state of inequality between Black and White in the US. Nowhere more directly than on ‘Blam’ - a song about self-defence. “I believe that it has the bones of spiritual song,” says Georgia. “It’s an updated negro spiritual in aesthetic”.”
Akira Rabelais' small but perfectly formed catalogue of releases has created one of the most complete and consummate identities in electronic music. On this album for David Sylvian's Samadhisound imprint, the Texan-born artist returns to the guitar - an instrument he wielded during his early years on the Austin live scene, playing in industrial bands during the 1980s.
Although processed guitar music became something of a staple on the experimental electronic scene of the earlu 00's, 'Caduceus' sounds very different from other records in the field, taking on a far more radically abstract tone. 'Seduced By The Silence' introduces the record with an almost percussive, grinding sound that resembles an annihilated tabla than a stringed instrument. More subtle, implicitly melodic episodes follow, with the crumbling timbres of 'Then The Substanceless Blue' and the blissful cacophony of 'Where To Let Our Scars Fall In Love' representing early highlights.
Considering this album is derived from a single instrumental source, the dynamics are remarkably broad, ranging from the quiet AM radio-style lullabies of 'Comme Un Ange Enivré D'un Soleil Radieux' to the howling distortion surges of 'Night Dances Through Heaven's Black Amnesia'. In both cases there's a magical otherness at work that goes beyond the realms of electronic music's conventional cold logic, and holds the kind of mysterious appeal you'd associate with artists like Steven Stapleton and Andrew Liles. 'Surface Of Soft Steps, Violets Whisper' and 'On The Little In-Betweens' momentarily unshroud the guitar to reveal more conventional harmonic structures, while 'In A Cadence Of Vanishing' spies untreated acoustic guitar as it shifts through an ominously stationary chord sequence and a backdrop of static jetisons tarces of melody.
A remarkable, deeply absorbing album from a modern great.
Perhaps the most significant new work from The Radiophonic Workshop in its 50 years of scoring radio and TV, the ‘Possum’ soundtrack is, remarkably, their first feature length score for film, and includes material from Delia Derbyshire's archive, heard here for the first time.
From the studio boffins and composers behind the influential, original Doctor Who and Quatermass soundtracks, the ‘Possum (OST)’ includes all cues from the film plus 9 bonus tracks, adding up to a bloodcurdling bevy of dread synth tones, pastoral flutes and bowed percussion notably laced with sound elements and drones from the archive of Delia Derbyshire, the legendary creator of the original Doctor Who theme tune.
It’s a seriously generous set, running to 38 cues that say their piece with haunting effect, along with a number of more meaty parts, and all primed to make you double check that the doors are locked on long, cold Autumn nights. In particular the eerie, evaporating flutes of ‘Possum Sting and Undercurrent’, and the likes of ‘The Barracks’ with its cold, empty tones, or the palpitating dread of ‘Pursuit’ really put the willies up us, and will likely do the same or worse when synched with the film.
While the personnel of The Radiophonic Workshop (as opposed to The BBC Radiophonic Workshop) is not disclosed, the sounds are unmistakably from that particular school of the eldritch uncanny and should be strongly recommended to fans of their classic BBC works or their Italian library/horror counterparts as much as Coil, Deathprod or Demdike Stare’s atmospheric moments.
Akira Rabelais has long been in our list of the most interesting, overlooked producers in electronic music. His early material for Mille Plateaux offshoot Ritornell was nothing short of revelatory, a mysterious, complex maze of elaborate layering that genuinely sounded unlike any of his contemporaries, or anything we've heard since. He was then picked up by David Sylvian's Samadhisound imprint and released an incredible, career-defining head-scratcher of an album in 2004 called "Spellewauerynsherde' - one of the most spectacularly odd and brilliant electronic records of any description you'll likely hear - seriously - seek it out.
Anyhow, that preamble is just to set out the extent to which we're all Rabelais fanboys here - so this new double album, the first disc in collaboration with Harold Budd no less, has arrived here with much excitement, offering his first new recordings in over five years.
The Little Glass breaks down clearly over two discs; the first containing four plaintive solo piano parts by Budd and Rabelais, followed by a 2nd disc presenting Rabelais’ hour long, inharmonic, electronic transformation of the preceding material.
Rabelais has collaborated with Budd before, he provided his own incredible side-long second CD to Budd's majestic Avalon Sutra album, and while the piano pieces that make up the first CD here are bloody lovely and all, pardon us if we do hurry on to the second disc, because, well, you know this is going to be special.
With a deliquescence touch perhaps best compared to William Basinski, the L.A.-based artist renders the original improvisations as a breathtaking hour of glistening tone clusters and mid-air melting partials growing in complexly yet naturally as fractals experienced under the lens of DMT, or a time-lapse image of ice crystals forming at the edge of moving water.
To be quite honest, we haven’t the foggiest as to what process that he’s using to achieve these results - it may well be his trusted Argeïphontes Lyre software but, we can’t confirm this - however that matter only ratchets the sensation’s enigmatic appeal - if ever there was a more acute application of the word.
It’s the sort of music that gives us involuntary rapid eye movements, as though we’re in sleep mode while awake, making time feel plasmic and space almost tangible in a sense that you could almost huff up his starlight and recline in his hyaline webs.
The Little Glass is evidently, achingly, beautiful but, don’t take our word for it; drink deeply and ye shall see, pal.
Harold Budd at his very best, coupled with an extra disc featuring a 70 minute re-working by Akira Rabelais. A timeless classic on David Sylvian's Samdhisound label.
It's hard to over-estimate the contribution Harold Budd has made to modern music, his seemingly effortless take on minimalism and ambience imbuing this often academic genre with all the warmth and humility so often missing from the work of his contemporaries. Best known for his collaborations with Brian Eno and the Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie, Budd here delivers 14 immensely moving pieces, strewn with Piano cascades and panoramic soundscapes, drifting off into sublime, almost unbearable reflection.
It's a theme that's further developed with the second of the two cd's here, featuring a 70 minute re-working of Budd's work by the remarkable Akira Rabelais: a breathless, beautiful tapestry of midnight strings and echoes of lost piano taking time to unravel, eventually displaying all the warmth and intimacy Budd has spent a musical lifetime striving to perfect.
Redshape presents his 3rd and most-rounded dedication to ‘90s dance music with ‘A Sole Game’ for Modeselektor’s Monkeytown Records. In a finely honed style he worked towards since 2006, Berlin’s Sebastian Kramer a.k.a. Redshape draws from classic Detroit house, UK rave and AI, Frankfurt techno, and the endless party spirit of his home city, to render a definitive, darkly-toned self-portrait sounding every bit as synthetic, romantic and classic as the CD’s cover art looks.
“In typical Redshape style, the eight tracks of A Sole Game take you on a journey through nighttime worlds and dusky industrial landscapes haunted by howls and other strange voices. It’s obvious that one of the most important goals was to craft a perfectly seamless whole of an electronic album that works without interludes or what others would consider “album material”. Each track is a universe of its own and ready to be played in a club. A limited amount of instruments made it possible for the songs to sound quite homogenous despite being constructed very diversely. Most of the melodic structures stem from a Prophet 12 synth, most of the drums from the duo of 808 and 909, providing a warm and analogue sound.
This kind of traditionalist techno setup allowed for a fast and immediate workflow while recording the foundations of each track. Later on, Kramer took these recordings and elaborately arranged and processed them, trying to maintain the sometimes naive and pure emotions of the initial recordings and establish an organic feel. By fusing this proper songwriter approach with the codes of techno, Redshape takes a big step forward in his musical evolution.”
Since his recording debut as Choir Boy in 2016, Adam Klopp mined a sound swirls 1980s synth noir with captivating, cinematic songs sweeping with pensive sorrow and glowing hope. As a former member of the Mormon faith, Klopp spent his youth both in the pews of his place of worship, but also churning through DIY punk venues, before leaving the sect in the thick of a mission in Tahiti.
"The duality of faith and fiction are central to the lush explorations on his debut album Passive With Desire. Recorded at Studio Studio Dada, the album’s tracks permuted as bedroom sketches, awash with camp, the sting of loss, and allusions to halcyon days of nocturnal, electronic driven pop. Retaining elements of Klopp’s original demos, Passive With Desire was recorded with a full band and polished with trumpet, strings, as well as archival samples calling back to Klopp’s hazy youth.
Engineered by Klopp, Bret Meisenbach, and Stephen Cope, Passive With Desire is the entry point to Choir Boy’s world of emotive wit, novella kissed lyricism, and bouncy, synth-forward takes on traditional song writing bound by the universal themes of loss, desire, evolution, and exploration."
Aggressively charged mutations of IDM, EBM, and EDM
“‘Calibrate’ proffers the highest of fidelity, with blockbuster sci fi levels of production value and bombast. Donoso channels sonic spirits across fluro pointillism, futuristic industrial tribalism and more serene moments of synthetic reflection.
Having never courted accessibility, Donoso remains as unbending as ever in his approach and unwavering in commitment to his craft. Calibrate takes Donoso’s polymetric abuse and sound design to all new extremes. Conflicting rhythms and swathes of electronic debris move in tandem, to create pieces that expand and contract in on themselves.
A journey through Calibrate is an exercise in instability and failure; its aggressiveness serves as a warning against the urge to seek safety on common ground, and its entire approach seems to display a hostility towards the increasingly homogenized nature of new electronic music.”
Preeminent sound artists William Basinski and Lawrence English roll out the quietly breathtaking ’Selva Oscura’ as the first fruit of their collaborations spanning the past half decade and more.
Mantled in reference to Dante’s Inferno, ‘Selva Oscura’ literally translates to ‘Twilight Forest’, a title which serves as metaphorical device for the way Basinski and English’s lives in transit have serendipitously crossed paths over the years between Zagreb, L.A., and Hobart, in a variety of situations. On another level it also speaks to the nature of losing one’s way in place and time, which is beautifully reflected in the music’s disorienting, otherworldly ebb and flow flux.
Using a palette of sounds broken down, magnified and inverted from macro to micro scales and vice-versa, and mailed to each other between L.A. and Brisbane, the results map out vast tracts of psychic terrain that shift like the sands of time, with sounds perpetually rearranging themselves on the granular level to render a broader, slow moving tapestry of sublime, anaesthetic quality.
The A-side’s ‘Mono No Aware’ (Japanese for “the pathos things” or “a sensitivity to ephemera”) is a captivatingly transient and hypnagogic work of sferic tones and sprawling wide bass, lulling listeners into a state of lushest melancholy with the allure of a time-lapse video of autumnal weather patterns. ‘Selva Oscura’ follows with a discernibly darker and submersed appeal, as though the clouds have come down to us (or us to them?) and we’re left wandering the firmament, initially swaddled in a creamy grey-pink expanse marbled with pealing partials, before crossing oceanic basses and gently touching down to pinch ourselves.
Steeply hypnotic and immensely powerful mix of possessed drone, doom metal and pounding motorik rhythms from Manchester’s Primitive Knot, who, being local and all, we’re ashamed to say we’ve never seen before, but will do on the strength of this evidence presented by Aurora Borealis (home to The Haxan Cloak, KTL, Burial Hex)
“Hailing from Manchester, UK, Primitive Knot have created a cult underground following with their prolific output and aura of arcane mystery. Primitive Knot cover a lot of musical ground, from motorik Krautrock to primitive thrashing doom metal, garage rock to the kind of industrial pop bombast associated with latter era Sisters of Mercy. Yet at all times, the sound is pure Primitive Knot. ‘Thee Opener Of The Way’ sees Primitive Knot exploring the spiritual outer realms with drone, doom and dark ambient methodology, delivering over an hour of shamanic cosmic drift.
‘Thee Opener Of The Ways’ collects the sold out tape releases of ‘DOOM I’ and ‘DOOM II’, combining them with the tracks ‘Thee Opener Of The Way’ and ‘Devotion And Decay In Interstitial Space’ to bring this material to a wider audience in a cohesive album format.”
Skull Disco reaches it's final catalogue number with the final nail in the coffin on 'Soundboy's Gravestone Gets Desecrated By Vandals', collating the final few 12" releases on the first CD, and a selection of accompanying remixes from the likes of T++, Rupture, Geiom, Brendon Moeller, and Bass Clef on an additional second CD.
Over the course of three years the label has come to define a very dark corner of the dubstep related universe, finding fans in unexpected places, from Ricardo Villalobos and Cassy at the housier end of the spectrum and T++ showing love from the techno end. The first CD opens with the dystopian classic 'The Rope Tightens' by the maverick Shackleton, with a horrific echo chamber lockdown featuring vocals from longtime Skull Disco affiliate Tenfold Vengeance, and moves onto later collaborations between Appleblim and Peverelist on their lauded 'Circling'.
Shackleton's smacky voodoo dancer 'Death Is Not Final' is included, alongside the undulating drum workout 'You Bring Me Down' as well as Appleblim's now classic 'Vansan' making it's first appearance on CD. The second set is about as fresh as it gets, starting with T++'s techno enhanced remix of 'Vansan' and further cementing the Berlin connection with Pole's spatialized dub-scape version of Shack's 'Shortwave'. Peverelist's remix of 'You Bring Me Down' is surely one of the finest dubstepXtechno tracks of the year and is also included alongside the stunning T++ revision of Shack's 'Death Is Not Final', surely one of the tracs of year full stop! The most surprising remix comes from badawi, with a previously unreleased rethink of 'The Rope Tightens'. Raz Mesinai sticks with the original's extended format, but rewires it with a technofied yet meditative version that sounds like 'Polaroid' or 'Cern' era Monolake mixed with sound design approaching Peter Rehberg's frosty scapes for the KTL project. The depth and scope on this one can only be fully appreciated at home on a good system with all the lights out, or equally in a dark warehouse setting, this is riddimic futurism at it's finest.
A final mention must be given to the terrific artwork from the mind of Zeke Clough beamed directly from a tower somewhere in deepest darkest Salford, applying the final but essential touch to a stunning package.
The Beta Band's hugely collectable‘The Three EPs’, available for the first time on a deluxe vinyl reissue.
"Arguably one of the most acclaimed and loved bands of the past 20 years, by both fans and their musical peers alike, The Beta Band formed in St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1996. Innovative and singular, their unique musical and aesthetic approach to everything they did set them far apart from their musical contemporaries. Together for a relatively short period of time, the three albums and three EPs they released between 1996 and 2004 would nonetheless help define them as one of the most exciting and cherished bands of their generation.
This is a deluxe vinyl edition gathering in a slipcase the EPs ‘Champion Versions’, ‘The Patty Patty Sound’ and ‘Los Amigos Del Beta Bandidos’ with remastered tracks and coloured vinyl edition."
Following the fleeting reveal of instrumental passages in two trailers and the release of the track 'Suspirium' - Thom Yorke’s Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) is finally here.
"Suspiria consists of 25 original compositions written by Thom specifically for Luca Guadagnino reimagining of the 1977 Dario Argento horror classic. The album is a mix of instrumental score work, interstitial pieces and interludes, and more traditional song structures featuring Thom’s vocals such as “Unmade”, “Has Ended” and “Suspirium,” the album's first single featuring the melodic theme that recurs throughout the film and its score.
As scoring a horror film presented Thom with altogether new challenges and opportunities, Suspiria stands apart from any of his other work. Piano/vocal ballads, Krautrock-esque modular synth work inspired by the film’s Berlin 1977 setting, multilayered vocals, and melodies that convey terror, longing and melancholy combine to create a chaotic yet cohesive musical spell.
Suspiria was written and arranged by Thom Yorke, recorded and produced by Thom and Sam Petts-Davies. The album also features the London Contemporary Orchestra and Choir, Noah Yorke on drums on “Has Ended” and “Volk,” and Pasha Mansurov on solo flute on “Suspirium.”
Haunting, rustic works for strings, synths and voice by Jessica Moss, violinist for A Silver Mt. Zion
“Jessica Moss, the violinist, composer and singer best known for her fifteen-year tenure in political post-punk band Thee Silver Mt. Zion, is newly ascendant as a soloist, captivating audiences with gritty, warmly expressive electronic- and drone-inflected post-classical Minimalism (and sometimes Maximalism), accented by a distinctive melodic sensibility that channels Klezmer, Balkan and Middle Eastern tropes.
On Entanglement, her new and second album, Moss channels quantum theory as a metaphor for creating energetic connections through esoteric processes. Using violin (and occasionally, voice) as sound source, her compositions are set in motion like entangled particles – spinning, ricocheting, warping and stretching in extra-dimensional space.
Moss has played 80 shows in the past year and Entanglement is also profoundly informed by her experiences travelling alone, giving concerts in precarious spaces preserved by passionate subcultural communities, attempting fragile, intimate, abstract transmissions through sound and performance. This is long-attention-span music that wonderfully synthesizes form and substance, spit and polish, austerity and lushness, expansiveness and intimacy. Entanglement is a deeply felt and deeply rewarding work that testifies to the unique stylistic and textural space Moss is carving out in the contemporary/New Music continuum.”
‘Sonder Somatic’ is the debut Bruce album for Hessle Audio. If Monolake came thru in the UK during the post-dubstep phase, his music may have sounded a bit like this one.
“Bruce – AKA Larry McCarthy – is set to release his debut album Sonder Somatic this October on UK imprint Hessle Audio. The album packs 11 singular UK club tracks that evoke a distinctly emotive and dense energy, channelling detailed sound designs, tangled textures and club anthems for 2018 and beyond.
The record is deeply varied in styles, ideas and tempos; from the tight rhythmic groove of album opener 'Elo' to the weaponised onslaught of ominous club cuts 'What' and 'Cacao' - through drifting, meditative techno and the skeletal sound design of 'Ore' and 'Baychimo.' Each track shifts the tonal mood in subtle and distinct ways, whilst retaining a consistent icy sound palette infused with colour and human warmth.
The shapeshifting Hessle Audio imprint is run by Pearson Sound, Ben UFO and Pangaea. For over ten years, through their combined tastes they have continued to unravel and explore the edges of sounds and ideas from the wider dance music scene, across the boundaries of the functional and the experimental, with consistently innovative results. As a long time follower of the label, Bruce wanted to craft an album that continues their singular attitude and approach; incorporating vibes from UK soundsystem music as well as music from his home town of Bristol.
"From being a fan of their work from the very beginning, it's not only the music they have released that has informed my taste/work, but also the journey they have formed through the application of their attitude and approach." - Bruce
Much of Sonder Somatic was shaped by Bruce's own understanding of club culture as a whole, and predominantly his personal relationship with it both professionally and recreationally. The album was partly written as an attempt to capture that rare transformative feeling that can cause you to fully lose yourself in a club space, disconnecting from your immediate environment for a short time.
Sonder Somatic follows EPs for Timedance, Livity Sound, Idle Hands and Hemlock, and comes 4 years after his debut EP 'Not Stochastic' for Hessle Audio. The album pushes the boundaries of what club music can be whilst expertly refining his work as both a club producer and an experimental sound designer. With a unique sense of flair that sets him apart, Sonder Somatic is set to raise Bruce's profile across all corners of the dance world.”
After a series of increasingly inward-looking, conservative LPs since her stunning debut, Julia Holter finally unleashes her imagination in technicolour once again on ‘Aviary’, an expansive observation of the ratchet madness that makes up the world today.
“Aviary is an epic journey through what Julia Holter describes as “the cacophony of the mind in a melting world.” Out on October 26th via Domino, it’s the Los Angeles composer’s most breathtakingly expansive album yet, full of startling turns and dazzling instrumental arrangements.
The follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2015 record, Have You in My Wilderness, it takes as its starting point a line from a 2009 short story by writer Etel Adnan: "I found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds." It’s a scenario that sounds straight out of a horror movie, but it’s also a pretty good metaphor for life in 2018, with its endless onslaught of political scandals, freakish natural disasters, and voices shouting their desires and resentments into the void
Aviary, executive produced by Cole MGN and produced by Holter and Kenny Gilmore, combines Holter's slyly theatrical vocals and Blade Runner-inspired synth work with an enveloping palette of strings and percussion that reveals itself, and the boundless scope of her vision, over the course of fifteen songs. Holter was joined by Corey Fogel (percussion), Devin Hoff (bass), Dina Maccabee (violin, viola, vocals), Sarah Belle Reid (trumpet), Andrew Tholl (violin), and Tashi Wada (synth, bagpipes).”
Jesus this album is incredible. Heather Leigh channels Kate Bush and Coil via lapsteel guitar and staggering vocals on a her new album for Editions Mego. Following her previous solo LP ‘I Abused Animal’ for Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ with a record that few beyond her inner circle could have predicted. Epic in scope, devastating on impact. Do not miss this one!
“Heather Leigh takes her Throne as queen of pedal steel with a suite of heartbleed ballads cauterised with burning riffs. After the rawness of its precursor I Abused Animal, Throne is a record of late night Americana and heavy femininity; intimate love songs smoked in sensuality. The songs on Throne are woozy, gorgeous and uncomfortable, smothered in thick layers of bass but lifted by multitracked vocals. These are rich song forms that stand in contrast to the stripped down steel in her duo with Peter Brotzmann.
Prelude To Goddess sashays in wearing leopard print jeans under the twinkling fluorescent illuminations of the British seaside, like Brighton Rock with extra bass. It is followed in by Lena – arguably Leigh's Jolene – a perverse love song soaked in a subversive sexuality, weighed down with a heavy pulse. Soft Seasons is anchored with sunken beats shrouded in wailing, growling steel and an earwormy melody. Gold Teeth, the longest track on the record, crests and breaks in waves; ecstatic peaks balanced and echoed by melancholic troughs. It soars on an updraft, and from cosmic heights dives seaward into a gnarly and riotous pedal steel breakdown, before catching the breeze again.
Days Without You and Scorpio & Androzani are shorter, intimate songs, in the latter the synths seethe and the steel bows and bends as Leigh's voice falters above a Greek chorus of shadows and reflections. But this isn't autobiography, and Throne departs on Days Without You, a confrontationally unfinished romantic song, anxious with half-thoughts and missed connections. It glides into the night on stilettos leaving unanswered questions, in a fug of psychic disturbance and lovesick sensuality.
Leigh's artwork (which she photographed and designed) is a visual mirror of the songs on Throne. It is an album of cosmic echoes, abstractions and introspection, of characters and stories that make up Leigh's first best pop record, its melodies and hooks set alight with the fiery core of her unique and distinctive pedal steel. - Jennifer Lucy Allen, 2018”
Portland, OR’s Saloli debuts on Kranky with a gorgeous suite of live analogue synth meditations...
Presented as they were performed, with no overdubs or edits, ‘The Deep End’ finds Saloli swimming in rich colours swept up in gentle currents, sometimes coagulating into poignant chromatic melodies, sometimes hovering on the biting point between harmony and bittersweet dissonance, and often prone to fleeting expressions of emotion, but with an ear for charming turns of phrase that will keep listeners coming back to this one.
"Mary Sutton’s solo debut materialized in the wake of a performance she gave at a clothing-optional soaking-pool sauna: “I had never composed for synth before but wanted to make something people sitting motionless and naked in hot bubbly water would want to hear.” It was while in this headspace that she reconnected with Satie’s entrancing cyclical motifs, particularly the way “he subtly spins melodic fragments, and pivots harmonies and phrases so the repetitions feel new and surprising yet soothingly familiar, as if casting a spell.”
The nine intuitive instrumentals comprising The Deep End accomplish exactly that, threading complementary shades of soft-hued hypnosis, dazed modal introspection, icy amusement park reverie, and lunar lullaby into a prismatic suite of contemplative melody and synthetic communion. Sutton’s songs are active rather than ambient yet their structure is more suggestive than scripted, full of lulls, asymmetries, and daydreams. Each track was written specifically to be played live on an analog synthesizer, with no overdubs or post-production wizardry. The sound of Saloli is one of warm-blooded wiring, turned on and tapped into, emotive and electric, storied machines speaking through all too human hands."
Barry Adamson announces ‘Memento Mori (Anthology 1978 - 2018)’, a 40th anniversary release charting the artist’s writing and recording career.
"Memento Mori’ charts Adamson’s career from 1978’s Magazine track, ‘Parade’ (co-written by Adamson, from their debut album ‘Real Life’) to his work as founding member, alongside Nick Cave, of the Bad Seeds (‘From Her To Eternity’, co-written by Adamson), through his nine solo albums, from 1988’s ‘Moss Side Story’ to the latest ‘Love Sick Dick’ EPs, bringing everything up to date with a brand new unreleased track, ‘The Hummingbird’."