‘Land Waves’, the third album by new minimalists Snow Palms, is the project’s first full length since becoming a duo.
"At times it is like Terry Riley with Lex Baxter in Japan, at others it could be the soundtrack to a meditation centre in neo-Tokyo dreamed up by William Gibson and Brian Eno. Its patterns and textures accelerate and resolve with drama and intent, its abstractions rendered by a distinctive kinetic sound world of mallets and synthesizers conjuring real and imaginary landscapes.
In 2017 Snow Palms originator, the musician, critic and tutor David Sheppard, invited fellow composer, producer and academic Matt Gooderson to formally join the project, after spending time together experimenting in the studio. “We have quite different musical backgrounds but found we were responding to and searching for the same things in music,” explains Sheppard, “Over time, we evolved both a methodology and a signature sound.” The album’s opener ‘Atom Dance’, which is like Martin Denny’s orchestra reinterpreting Steve Reich, crescendos to heart-stirring finale; ‘Everything Ascending’ counts out a human heartbeat before reaching for the stars in glittering synths and galaxies of soaring vocals; ‘Evening Rain Gardens’ is soothing music for a meditation centre from the future.
Title track ‘Land Waves’ is a restrained epic, equal parts vast panorama and decorous motif. The graceful mwoodwinds of ‘Thought Shadow’ express the album’s more reflective moments, while the shifting rhythmic patterns of ‘Kojo Yakei’ evoke the concept it’s named for - a Japanese trend for night-time visits to factories and refineries decorated in lights. Inexorably enveloping closing track ‘White Cranes Return’ is a requiem for twilight, when soft shadows are drawn over a landscape. ‘Land Waves’ is hallmarked by the voice of Matt Gooderson’s partner Megan, who was pregnant with their son during recording sessions. Her empyrean vocals are woven into the tapestry of the album, grounding the music in the human, as glockenspiels, marimbas and clarinets move in lockstep with arpeggiated modular synthesizers and glinting percussion. “Adding the human voice to this sound world adds a generous new dimension and opens up and a whole new vista for Snow Palms,” says Sheppard. “It’s a buoyant and uplifting record, which I love deeply,” agrees Gooderson, “That feeling is much needed in these times of crisis.”
With a clutch of deeply conceptual albums on subjects as diverse as the anthropocene and sleep paralysis after a major car accident, Cuts' latest album, ‘Unreal’, is a mournful meditation on pandemics, populism and disinformation.
"‘UNREAL’ is the second full-length album by musician and filmmaker Anthony Tombling Jr’s CUTS moniker. Tracks retain their emotional resonances in strong melodies and eerie vocals but there is also a hard edge to the music compared to previous releases. “I’ve always reacted to my environment,” explains Tombling, “and a lot of the themes I am exploring on ‘UNREAL’ are around climate crisis, pandemics, and the terrifying rise of far right orators.”
‘UNREAL’ was largely made in lockdown, as Tombling moved to an isolated house where there was no phone or internet three days before full lockdown was introduced across the UK. He soon built a routine of foraging for dinner in the morning and making music all afternoon. It marks a major departure in his output, as the first album not to be rooted in his films. It opens with ‘R U OK?’, with a precipitous bass drop into anxious rhythms like irregular heartbeats. ‘DISSOLUTION’ is a vocoder ballad for fragmenting hardware; ‘UNREAL’ is a hazy roller, evoking fast cars on highways at night. ‘OMEGA MINUS’ is a requiem for postindustrial wastelands, as robotic voices sweep over dust storms and obsolete machinery, then ‘SHELTERED LIFE’ harnesses coarse, rippling static around depth-charge bass. ‘THE BRINK’ brings on woozy and elastic basslines, ‘EXHALE EXILE’ sways in melodic loops lashed to fitful beats, then final track ‘AN INFINITE COLLAPSE’ blows off the grit to reveal songlines and crumbling metallic pulses that crackle with static electricity.
Tombling’s sound world for ‘UNREAL’ is one of anxiety, frustration and emotional peaks, where heavy slugs of sound are lifted by vocoder lyricism, sharp static and fizzing cymbals that cut through like shafts of light in abandoned warehouses. “It’s the heaviest record I’ve made,” says Tombling, “but it’s also the most accessible. I was much more influenced by what's going on in the world - it’s impossible not to be at a moment like this.”
A reintroduction to one of America's finest ever alternative rock bands, 'Quarantine The Past' coincided with Pavement's long-overdue reunion.
Although there are no exclusives on this 23-track collection, as Domino so rightly state: "it definitely goes deeper than the "hits"." For such a beloved band, a single disc Best Of was always going to present a tricky editing job, and sure there are omissions - no 'Zurich Is Stained', no 'Carrot Rope', for instance. In fact, the band's last LP, Terror Twilight is sorely under-represented given that it's the one Pavement album to not yet receive the deluxe reissue treatment, although making up for those absences are rarities culled from 1989's Slay Tracks 7", the Perfect Sound Forever 10", the Watery, Domestic EP and great B-sides like 'Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence'.
Additionally, old favourites like 'Range Life', 'Cut Your Hair', 'Summer Babe', 'Here', 'Stereo' and 'Shady Lane' are all dotted around the tracklist, ensuring that there's a healthy balance between early lo-fi obscurities and the band's best known classics. If you're looking for a gateway into this seminal band - or even if you're just looking for a quick-fix solution to plugging some gaps in your Pavement collection - this predictably magnificent compilation is a must-have.
Kamasi Washington turns his hand to soundtracking the Michelle Obama documentary based on her memoir, ‘Becoming’ with natural and uplifting classic jazz grace - properly American, like; it’s currently Grammy and Emmy award-nominated
“Kamasi Washington composed and produced the original score for Becoming, the four time Emmy-nominated film that provided an intimate glimpse into the life of Michelle Obama. Produced by Netflix Originals, Becoming documented a moment of profound change for the former First Lady, not only for her personally but for the country she and her husband served over eight impactful years in the White House. Washington, who joined the project in its embryonic stages, provides the powerful musical backdrop.”
Burial’s co-production ‘The Second Spell’, starring Prince and Madonna collaborator Ingrid Chavez closes out a smoky album of deep house soul from UK/US/SA journeyman Charles Webster, whose album as Presence ‘All Systems Gone’ is cited as an influence on Burial for its “pillowy sound”. Also includes vocals by Shara Nelson and an earthy house nugget ‘Music’
“‘Decision Time’ is Charles’ first major solo record since 2001’s ‘Born On The 24th July’, and features an array of artists from a number of different eras, guises and genres Charles has been involved with over his prolific career.
After moving to San Francisco in the late nineties, he created an album under the alias Presence entitled ‘All Systems Gone’. The “pillowy” sound design of this classic is cited as a key influence on the music of Burial. For ‘Decision Time’, Burial has paid a further tribute here, contributing a rare co-production, ‘The Second Spell’. This track featuring the words of Prince muse Ingrid Chavez. who also wrote the spoken word poetry in Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’.
Charles was at the forefront of the halcyon years of deep house, working with vocal talents like Robert Owens, Tracey Thorn, Terra Deva (aka Furry Freaks), who features here on ‘Wait And See’, and Shara Nelson, perhaps best known for her vocals on Massive Attack’s ‘Blue Lines’ album, featuring here on ‘This Is Real’.
Charles’ influence also spreads to the South African house scene with his Presence single ‘Better Day’ becoming a huge radio hit there in 1997. Charles later moved to South Africa and immersed himself in the local scene, collaborating with some of the country's most exciting talent, including Sio, Thandi Draai and Sipho – all of whom appear on this project.
With an album of this quality and the 20-year cycles of electronic culture, it feels like this is the perfect moment to celebrate the brilliance of Charles Webster’s legacy. From the downtempo soul of ‘This Is Real’, to the impressionistic words and ethereal two-step on ‘The Spell’, a new generation of ears are about to discover the influential underground sound of Charles Webster.”
Composer, musician and producer Angèle David-Guillou’s third album, ‘A Question of Angles’, is her most ambitious project to date, its multi-ensemble compositions forming a dynamic cinematic counterpoint to her contemplative lockdown EP ‘Sans Mouvement’, recorded on the organ at the Union Chapel.
"‘A Question of Angles’ is an album of vivid instrumental music. Centred around two main ensembles, a saxophone octet and a string septet, which strut and glide in rhythmic dances, its textures are inspired by the interplay between illusion and reality, particularly the magic realism of Jean Cocteau’s films. “I was interested in translating this idea into music, that I could make something big and bold, but where you might also be unsure of what you’re hearing,” the composer explains. This concept was extended to the album cover, which includes a multi-portrait image that at first glance appears to be a faked composite but was in fact carefully shot for real. On title track ‘A Question of Angles’ a Theremin sings with an uncannily human-like keening voice in conversation with the bombast of rumbling bass trombone and staccato strings. The bold opener, ‘Valley of Detachment’ enters with effervescent saxophones in pulsating phrases, followed by ‘Akrotiri’, where a solo cello moves like a courtly dancer, time signatures switching in interlocking patterns. ‘Forgetting Trees’ also plays with rhythm but speaks in sentences that ebb and flow, with repeating phrases on bassoon and flute, before ‘Quid Pro Quo’, with its layer choir and bass trombones, soars to a rousing finale.
Saxophones and bass trombones are paramount to the album’s sound - David Guillou’s use of these instrument draws parallels with Michael Nyman’s most exuberant compositions as well as Moondog’s dynamic neo-baroque rhythmic patterns, while the handling of unconventional time signatures echoes soundtrack composer Giovanni Fusco’s unsettling atmospheres for Alain Resnais. ‘A Question of Angles’ is David-Guillou’s third album for Village Green, with whom she’s also released two much admired EPs of her unique instrumental music. Hers is a music that rejects the density of ambient mood music, with strikingly animated compositions that recall in sound the bright movement of Matisse’s La Danse, offering an audacious addition to the landscape of contemporary composition."
Wolfgang Voigt’s ambient techno evergreen mercifully reissued as a standalone release for the first time since 1997, and its inclusion in the sumptuous Gas ‘Box’ set, now remastered.
Right up there with ambient techno’s greatest slabs, ‘Zauberberg’ is a classic balm for overworked minds and stressed bodies. As the 2nd Gas album, following the project’s eponymous debut, it pressed deeper into a uniquely dense yet diaphanous mixture of ambient and modern classical themes, exploring a breathtakingly lush, Black Forested adjunct to the sort of ambient/dub/techno austerities explored by other contemporary German producers such as Basic Channel, Monolake and the rest of the Berlin cabal surrounding Chain Reaction/Hardwax.
As with all GAS releases, It’s possibly difficult to provide any definitive description of ‘Zauberburg’, as we’ve usually fallen under its spell and towards the pillow, or at least drift off into a half-lidded reverie before it finishes. In that sense, we can only limn it from sub- or unconscious recollections, but the two effectively merge into one, as Voigt’s patented, distanced kicks mirror the soft throb of arteries heard muffled in a pillow, and the strings feel to descend with the inevitability of nightfall, all leading to the same conclusion - your head caressed by the sandman.
For obsessives fiending a fresh copy, or those lucky noobs about to pop their Gas cherry, this album is 100% essential.
Master field recordist, author and sound theorist David Toop presents a poignant, deeply trippy tableaux inspired by Chinese ghost stories and including recordings of his grandpa’s memories of 1901, a blind street group in Chiang Mai, and Ornette Coleman in conversation - wonderfully transitory, metaphysical stuff of rare substance.
From David Toop: What are field recordings? “My memory is not what it used to be, David,” my grandfather, Syd Senior, said to me as we huddled round a fireplace in 1979. Thanks to a cassette tape I have the memory of his gradual loss of memory, hearing him speak of Queen Victoria’s funeral and the severity of patriotism back in those old days, 1901. Syd Senior is long dead, no longer part of the field of living relations but still within the field of memories that can be revived by technology, albeit an old one that squeaks like a mouse, hisses like a cat.
Where is the field? The field is populated by all the ravishing, painful, poignant, nondescript moments of remembered life. Field recordings forget, just as memories forget. My recording of Ornette Coleman forgets that he fell asleep as we were talking together. I sat quietly, waiting for him to wake; the tape machine continued its work, oblivious.
During lockdown, a warm spring day, I sat working in the garden. A small fox appeared close to me, started, retreated into the shelter of plants by my pond. I took a photo with my phone but when I looked at the image no fox was visible. Earlier that day I had been reading Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, a collection of short stories written by Pu Songling during the course of his life in the late seventeenth/early eighteenth century. In many of these tales, fox spirits inhabit the physical spaces of living humans in a variety of guises. Some are malicious; some benign. Their presence in the material world is wrong and yet accepted as either a temporary nuisance or a blessing that would later be regretted.
“All the memories are very incomplete,” said Annabel Nicolson during a conversation I recorded with her in the early 1990s. “It’s like trying to substantiate something that was important to us . . . When I was younger I thought that didn’t matter. I thought everything could be transient because people would always be creating more . . . when you get older it seems rather different because you realise many wonderful things have just vanished. Which in some ways doesn’t matter but it also means that they can’t be shared with anyone other than those who were there.”
The 3LP edition of Wolfgang Voigt’s most treasured Gas release is finally freed of the 2016 boxset and available as a standalone edition to a definitive ambient techno classic
Originally issued as a 2LP in 2000 as the 4th Gas transmission, ‘Pop’ remains among the Kompakt co-founder and European techno catalyst’s finest work. By 2000 Wolfgang Voigt has indelibly carved his name on European electronic music with a huge catalogue touching on myriad strains of rave, techno and trance for everyone from Warp to Sähkö and Force Inc., including very canny lines in flipping pop classics far out of their original frameworks. With the Gas series he refined and applied that latter aesthetic to the grand orchestrations of Wagner in a strolling style of breezy strings and booming bass drum heartbeats designed to accompany his walks through the Black Forest. ‘Pop’ is arguably among the most revered of these rambling soundtracks and has now been afforded the fitting luxury of a 3LP pressing giving each track more room to breath and let the listener take in the scenery.
In our books it’s an evergreen essential that rarely fails to draw us into its gently insistent, ambulating pace and naturally plangent ambience.
Wolfgang Voigt’s deeply romantic, terrifying Gas classic, ‘Königsforst’ returns to vinyl on its 20th anniversary reissue, re-cut over 3LP for optimal immersion.
Finally available following its appearance within the Gas ‘Box’, this is the definitive 8-track vinyl edition of the 3rd instalment to one of deep, ambient dub-techno’s most revered catalogues.
Originally issued by Mille Plateaux in 1998, ‘Königsforst’ is an ideal example of Wolfgang Voigt’s turn away from his early ‘90s acid rave classics toward a more Teutonically-refined hybrid of classical elegance and inexorable techno momentum.
More specifically, the tracks distill Voigt’s experience of walking in the Black Forest into a sort of rhythm-driven meditation, creating a space for reflection upon always-the-same/always-different repetition that most beautifully encourages the mind of the listener to wander, ponder and arrive at similarly rarified conclusions.
In other words it’s a stone cold classic.
Japan’s masters of rock and noise face off in ravishing, symbiotic form on their 7th collaborative album
Eighteen years since their first meeting on record (‘Megatone’), the hybrid unit clearly have lots more energy to expend on ‘2R0I2P0’, with Merzbow shelling signature, wildly overgrown, high-register noise squall to complement Wata and Takeshi’s shrieking guitars, and lend a sharp tonic contrast with the album’s slower, more melodic moments.
The album’s title translates to ’Twenty Twenty R.I.P.’ and is intended as both an elegy for a shitty year, and a catalyst for change, or as they say: "This work becomes a monument to the requiem of the previous era. From here, a new world begins again." As such they take the full limit of playing time - 78 minutes - to scythe thru strains of pulsating quasar rock and absorbingly harsh electronics, starting out all folksy and soothing with ‘Away from You’ before banking up to sky-clawing guitar leads and clamorous noise, sometimes letting Merzbow set the way ahead, as on the crushing ‘Coma’ and the sensory smother of ‘Jounrey’, and locking into freewheeling metal on ‘Absolutego’, but saving their finest for the two longer pieces of epic terraforming, ‘Evol’, and ’Shadow of Skull.’
Belle and Sebastian present twenty-two live performances featuring songs from across their 25 year career. The recordings showcase the Scottish septet at the height of their power during their 2019 tour, including tracks performed on the band's own Mediterranean cruise, "The Boaty Weekender."
One of PC Music’s OG avatars, Hannah Diamond does black mirror pop in her debut solo album; ‘Reflections’
Puckered with diamond-polished production by AG Cook (Charli XCX, GFOTY) and EASYFUN (Charli XCX, Rat Boy), ‘Reflections’ is an assuredly hook-riddled volley of pop “perfection” that arrives in time to offer a glossy kind of resolution to this decade and consolidate PC Music’s game-changing, or at least defining, aesthetic.
Enunciated in the primmest middle clarse vowels, syllable by syllable in nursery rhyme pop style, Hannah delivers “frank” thoughts on love and pop in the modern day, set to backdrops that variously draw on ‘90s trance and synth-pop as much as contemporary hardstyle, dancehall, and that sort of trash pop that Farrah Abraham built her name on and is guzzled up by tweeny types everywhere.
It’s difficult to say whether PC Music have reflected stylistic shifts or prompted them, but either way, and depending on your tolerance for upfront shininess, this album is either as welcome as a glitter bomb in your bed, or a U2 album in your iTunes. Are PC Music the new Stock, Aitken & Waterman? Is Hannah a wannabe Sonia?
The master of the tape loop returns with "Lamentations", yet another collection of eroded drone for low-light dreamers, captured and constructed from tape loops and studies from Basinski’s archives – dating back to 1979 – Lamentations is over forty years of mournful sighs meticulously crafted into songs. They are shaped by the inevitable passage of time and the indisputable collapsing of space – and their collective resonance is infinite and eternal.
Those familiar with Basinski's catalog won't find a lot new here - not a complaint - like the molasses-slow shots that made David Lynch's "Twin Peaks: The Return" so eerily affecting, Basinski's spine-chilling repetition drags u into a state of near-hypnosis, focusing on the tiny details as they crumble in and out of view.
"Lamentations" is the perfect title; we've been spinning this on repeat as the constant chatter of apocalyptic news bubbles thru social media and every newsreel across the planet. It's hard to tell exactly what Basinski is lamenting but it doesn't really matter - each track sounds like a fragment of our past slowly fading from view. As "The Disintegration Loops" mourned a New York City that had been lost, "Lamentations" feels like a memorial for something else huge and all-encompassing. Nostalgia's a hell of a drug.
“25th anniversary compilation. It’s a mid-price cd, a snapshot to show where we are at after 25 years of the label. A selection of our roster and what we’re releasing in 2020. There is one exclusive - Basic Rhythm’s remix of DJ Nate. And six tracks from forthcoming albums for 2021, the tracks by RP Boo, Ripatti (aka Vladislav Delay), Jana Rush, Bogdan Raczynski, Meemo Comma and Eomac.”
Nick Cave here steps into the spotlight as librettist rather than performer, for a second operatic project with Belgian composer Nicholas Lens.
"Having collaborated on Shell Shock in 2014, they joined forces again during the global lockdown to create a new work, L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S.. At Lens’s request, Cave penned 12 litanies – “petitions to a divine maker” – simple, moving texts which the composer then wove into what he calls a “modest chamber opera of sleeping dreams”. Riding his bike around an unusually empty Brussels, Lens had been reminded of the magical stillness of the Rinzai Zen temples he had seen in rural Japan. Memories of these structures and of the inner peace he experienced while visiting them were the initial inspiration for the minimalistic, at times trance-like music of L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S., which features Denzil Delaere, N.L. Noorenbergh, Claron McFadden and Lens’s artist daughter Clara-Lane on vocals."
22nd anniversary reissue of what is for us one of the greatest albums of the late 20th century, originally released on Rephlex in 1998, now painstakingly remastered by Rashad Becker after being unavailable on any format for more or less two decades. If you’re into anything from Prince to A Guy Called Gerald, Tirzah to Jai Paul, Autechre to Rick Rubin - this really is an all-time great.
When you make a record that doesn’t conform, expect to divide opinion. ‘Like Weather’ was released in 1998, on Rephlex - run by Grant Wilson Claridge and Richard D James - an often great label that had a following that couldn't quite deal with electronic music made by a girl - let alone one that used vocals. Everything those lads couldn’t fathom about ‘Like Weather’ is essentially what makes it untouchable; one of the greatest, most effortlessly esoteric pop albums ever made, not in the lineage of IDM or Trip Hop, genres it has so often been awkwardly lumped in with, but something else that cant quite be categorised - even two decades later.
‘Like Weather’ echoes the world-building energy of Prince’s ‘Sign O The Times’ - every track is a self contained universe all its own, there are no rules or conventions - it’s full of hooks, but also insular as fuck, the production is all over the place and it still sounds like nothing else (although if you’re into the Mica Levi-produced Tirzah album, know that this here is the aesthetic, spiritual blueprint). It feels analog, then digital - it’s R&B, but also baroque music box, drone pop, experimental, electronic, junglist - attempting to define it is like trying to cup mercury in the palm of your hands; it’ll just find something else to slide into.
In 2020 we reckon it’s time to re-appraise ‘Like Weather’ as one of the great overlooked albums of our age, made by a female auteur operating in an overwhelmingly male-dominated scene at the turn of the century. Now newly remastered by Rashad Becker (a long, 6 month process - trust that a lot of work has gone into it) - it sounds fucking amazing, one of only a handful of records that have never left our side since we opened our doors in 1998.
So yeah, we could write a long thing here about Leila’s background playing keyboard for Bjork, her meeting with the Rephlex lads, the Aphex connection etc etc, but ‘Like Weather is a record that needs no hype - for real - listen to it and you’ll know.
In the winter of 2017 I moved back to my hometown of Kansas City from Los Angeles. The move was sudden and unforeseen, just as I was tying a bow on the writing process for what would become my 2019 album, Oh My God. I bought a Four Track Tascam model 424 off of an old friend to help me get to the finish line, but much to my surprise and excitement, this new piece of equipment in my all-but-bare home didn’t help complete one album but rather inspire another: Sundowner. The new collection of songs came quickly and effortlessly as I did my best not to resist or refine the songs, but instead let them take shape all on their own.
"As the songs kept coming I cleared out the crowded shed that was sitting dormant in my backyard and built a makeshift studio before adding drums, lead guitar and piano to complete the demos. Each day I would teach myself basic recording techniques, watching the channels illuminate and pulse as if the machine were breathing, and then emerge in the evenings as the sun was getting low: - around 5:30 in the winter, when the Kansan sunsets look icy and distant, like a pink ember inside of a display case, and 9 o’clock in the summer, when the sunsets are warm and abstract.
Landing back home felt jarring juxtaposed with a life full of chaos and adventure with my band on the road. But at the very least, I was happy to have - for the first time in my adulthood - a place to close the door, with no temptations other than to work on music and reflect on what I had built since I left. It was a new form of isolation, one I had never explored or expected to experience. Not ready to let go of the hand of the California desert, I spent the winter decorating the best I knew how; with mementos from my previous home, cactus and aloe vera and covering the walls in pinewood - immediately earning my house it’s nickname, The Little Los Angeles.
In January 2019 I contacted my friend and producer Brad Cook to help recreate what I had made in my shed. We chose to work in Texas; we wanted to make sure the record was done far away from any coastline, and in the heart of America. Brad played bass and some keys on the album, but beyond that he encouraged and inspired me to play almost everything else. All lead guitar, proper drums (save the drums on “A Night At The Little Los Angeles”), mellotron and what I believe to be the albums secret weapon - a WWII era collapsible and slightly out-of-tune pump organ - were performed by me. We did, however, bring in James Krivchenia towards the end of the session to fill out the percussion. It was an honor to work with him as he built maracas from pecans and played on the floor of the live room, adding flourish wherever he saw fit.
On the last evening of the session, after everything had wrapped, we all climbed on top of an empty water tower on the property, giving us a view in all directions. To the North you could see an endless Texas, with long wisps of cirrus clouds above the desert floor, and to the South there was Mexico, the recent detention camps only a mile beyond, with large cumulus clouds hovering over, bringing us to an ominous pause. To the West, towards the setting sun, the two families of clouds merged, holding the last light of the day in purple and orange. Below, a freight train cut the landscape in half as it whistled in the distance.
Almost as soon as the session wrapped, I was off and away on press trips and then proper tours for Oh My God, which came out in April that same year. Sundowner sat inside of a hard drive back at Sonic Ranch and did not see the light of day, until I found myself, as did the rest of the world, stuck inside their home and in quarantine in March 2020. My second year of touring for Oh My God was cancelled. Brad, Jerry and I worked from our respective homes, sending notes back and forth as we worked alone but together to mix the album, and suddenly, just like that, Sundowner was finished.
Songs, like sunsets, are fleeting, and it’s only due to a willingness and desire to catch them that you ever, if even only for a moment, grab a hold of one. When writing Sundowner, I was lucky to have had the Tascam 424 there to help capture both. Sundowner is my attempt to put the Middle American twilight -- it’s beauty profound, though not always immediate -- into sound. It is a depiction of isolation. Of the past. Of an uncertain future. Of provisions. Of an omen. Of a dead deer. Of an icon. Of a Los Angeles themed hotel in rural Kansas. Of billowing campfires, a mermaid and a highway lined in rabbit fur. It is a depiction of the nervous feeling that comes with the sky’s proud announcement that another day will be soon coming to a close as the pink light recedes and the street lamps and house lights suddenly click on. -- Kevin Morby, Kansas, 2020"
To mark this year’s Piano Day Nils Frahm released eight solo piano pieces.
"Conceived of just before Nils broke his thumb and composed the similarly intimate solo piano album Screws, Empty is a soothing vessel of eight simple and serene pieces originally recorded as the music to a short art film he shot with his friend and film director Benoît Toulemonde. Drifting through emotions from the stark and sobering opener ‘First Defeat’, to the gently euphoric ‘No Step On Wing’ and the contemplative but hopeful closer ‘Black Notes’, with its poignant minute of silence, Empty is a comforting score for these turbulent times.
“When I came back from the hospital with a broken thumb and listened to the recordings, I felt they were unfinished. I decided to put them aside and started to work on my small album, Screws. Many many other notes of the piano have been struck since these days, and before we all forget about this, I thought it would be a good moment to share these lullabies with you. I hope they help you stay all strong and calm in these days of solitude – despite the hardship, we can discover introspection and reflection unexpectedly. Who knows what it is good for.
Much love, Nils”
One of Coil’s most “accessible” and definitive classics finally resurfaces on Dais for a first *official* reissue 21 years after the fact
‘Musick To Play In The Dark’ is one those records that, like your first f*ck or trip, remains intractably lodged in the memory. At long last rearriving officially on physical formats with blessing of Coil’s Drew McDowell, the album could hardly be better timed to soundtrack the dread and enforced isolationism of our times.
Alongside Coil’s ‘The Ape Of Naples’, it plays to the full breadth of their enigmatic strengths, from sky-lashing doom licks and jazz noir to gibber-jawed druggy nightmares, via soaring kosmiche and breathtaking, unforgettable songcraft that rarely fails to plunge listeners into their wholly realised soundworld; hence it’s widely regarded as a vital entry point to their catalogue for anyone lingering on the fringes and wondering where to start with Coil’s catalogue.
This listener was relatively late to the album, but can still vividly recall being bowled over during the nithering winter of 2007 in Berlin, frozen to the chair and utterly transfixed by its magick appeal, which perhaps owes something to their shift in production methods from “Solar” phase to the “Moon” phase at their new studio, as well as the indelible trace of Drew McDowell’s deep granular synthesis and Thighpaulsandra’s brand of esoteric audness.
From the classic intro of ‘Are You Shivering?’ to their subbass hymn to our favourite brassica ‘Broccoli’, and the sleepwalker slant of ‘The Dreamer Is Still Asleep’; many years later the album has lost none of its capacity to reduce us to a goose-pimpled mess, and we’re just a bit jealous of anyone who’s about to pop their Coil cherry with this new pressing.
This is Thurston Moore’s seventh solo album, and features musicians Deb Googe (My Bloody Valentine) on bass and backing vocals, Jon Leidecker aka ‘Wobbly’ (of Negativland) on electronics, James Sedwards on guitar, and Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, as well as Jem Doulton, alternating on drums.
"‘Hashish’ is the ﬁrst single from the album to be released and is described by Moore as “an ode to the narcotic of love in our shared responsibility to each other during isolation." The song includes a video with footage from The Thurston Moore Group’s tour in early 2020 in Europe, as well as footage of Thurston quarantined in his home during the past few months “with respect to the sacred healing truth of nature.” Prior to isolation during the COVID pandemic, Thurston worked in recording studios in North London until the third week of March 2020 to complete this album for release on September 5, 2020.
While the musicians may not immediately tour, Thurston was adamant to release BY THE FIRE in 2020, and with Daydream Library, has released this quote: BY THE FIRE is music in ﬂames. 2020 is our time for radical change and collective awareness and Thurston Moore has written nine songs of enlightenment, released to a world on ﬁre. Taking a cue from Albert Ayler's "music is the healing force of the universe", this recording offers songs as ﬂames of rainbow energy, where the power of love becomes our call. These are love songs in a time where creativity is our dignity, our demonstration against the forces of oppression. BY THE FIRE is a gathering, a party of peace—songs in the heat of the moment. Some of the songs feature all of the musicians whist a few are solo guitar and vocals. Thurston is working on the ﬁnal cover and sleeve art with London-based artist Radieux Radio who also scribed lyrics for a few of the tracks."
Khruangbin has always been multilingual, weaving far-flung musical languages like East Asian surf-rock, Persian funk, and Jamaican dub into mellifluous harmony. But on its third album, it’s finally speaking out loud.
"Mordechai features vocals prominently on nearly every song, a first for the mostly instrumental band. It’s a shift that rewards the risk, reorienting Khruangbin’s transportive sound toward a new sense of emotional directness, without losing the spirit of nomadic wandering that’s always defined it. And it all started with them coming home.
By the summer of 2019, the Houston group—bassist Laura Lee Ochoa, guitarist Mark Speer, drummer DJ Johnson—had been on tour for nearly three-and-ahalf years, playing to audiences across North and South America, Europe, and southeast Asia behind its acclaimed albums The Universe Smiles Upon You and Con Todo El Mundo. They returned to their farmhouse studio in Burton, Texas, ready to begin work on their third album. But they were also determined to slow down, to take their time and luxuriate in building something together.
Musically, the band’s ever-restless ear saw it pulling reference points from Pakistan, Korea, and West Africa, incorporating strains of Indian chanting boxes and Congolese syncopated guitar. But more than anything, the album became a celebration of Houston, the eclectic city that had nurtured them, and a cultural nexus where you can check out country and zydeco, trap rap, or avant-garde opera on any given night.
In those years away from home, Khruangbin’s members often felt like they were swimming underwater, unsure of where they were going, or why they were going there. But Mordechai leads them gently back to the surface, allowing them to take a breath, look around, and find itself again. It is a snapshot taken along a larger journey—a moment all the more beautiful for its impermanence. And it’s a memory to revisit again and again, speaking to us now more clearly than ever."
Wolfgang Voigt's Pop Ambient series of compilations turns 21 with another selection of wistful/drift tunes from Joachim Spieth & Pepo Galán, Max Würden, Leandro Fresco & Thore Pfeiffer, Yui Onodera and more.
"As with many other Pop Ambient compilations, Pop Ambient 2021 offers a welcome platform to contributions from both old friends and new faces. It opens with the gorgeous, slo-mo drift of “Of A Vessel”, from new Kompakt signings Blank Gloss. Sending their music out into the world from their home in Sacramento, this duo makes music that’s featherlight and luscious, the muted chime of a guitar over here, the steady hum of a halatial drone over there; everything in its right place, and nothing overdone. The poise is all. Neozaïre and Seventh World are our other two new voices, the latter closing Pop Ambient 2021 with a long, lambent dreamsong, Neozaïre offering us two gaseous, morphing driftworks, “In Verschwenderischer Fülle” etched across with bell-like arpeggios.
Pop Ambient has always felt like a field for play for the KOMPAKT cognoscenti, and 2021 is no different, with Joachim Spieth collaborating with Pepo Galán on the sidereal visions of “Libration”, while Leandro Fresco teams up with Thore Pfeiffer on the lovely “Abejorro”. Pfeiffer also contributes two lovely solo miniatures of abstract longing. Yui Onodera calls in again, long distance, for their fourth Pop Ambient running, with the refracted, glinting lightscapes of “Cromo 5” and “Monochrome”, while there are also star turns from Max Würden, both solo and in Reich & Würden, and Morgen Wurde, who drops by with the ‘ethereal drama’ of “Mittsommer”.
Pop Ambient gets the balance right: visions and soundscapes, long-distance communications and intimate asides, sweetness and light, drama and dreaming, all wrapped up in floral abstractions – a most beautiful distraction."
40th anniversary reissue of Young Marble Giants’ jangling, wiry, killer post-punk pop groundbreakers from the early days of Rough Trade and the hayday of british DIY music
Originally issued in 1980, this edition of ‘Colossal Youth’ is now available on vinyl for first time, spanning the pioneering band’s debut album plus selections from the unreleased ‘Salad Days’ and various singles, adding up to a definitive survey of a band at the crest of their classic, puckered style.
Depending your tolerance for sweet-toothed hooks and chops, YBG’s sound is either mana or aspartame, but nobody can deny they’ve got a way with nagging riffs and nifty grooves, as you’ll find strewn between the likes of their droll stroller ‘Searching For Mr. Right,’ the reggae-lite dab of ‘Eating Noddemix,’ a Wire-y minimalist jag ‘Constantly Changing,’ and the tight punk-funk wiggle of ‘Wurlitzer Jukebox.’ At the time, this sound ran against the grain of noise punk posturing, effectively helping to birth a style or definition of post-punk which endures to this day, but it’s worth checking their singles and album demos for ‘Salad Days’ to catch their more experimental urges in action.
"Rising through the queer American DJ circuit, Eris Drew and Octo Octa, co-owners of dance label T4T LUV NRG, share multiple decades between them actively participating within the dance music community and are currently both weekly residents on BBC Radio 1."
"The CD compilation was mixed from all-vinyl in their log cabin home and studio in the woods of New Hampshire, taking in cuts that span house, bassline, UK hardcore and trance. It includes exclusive tracks from both Octo Octa (‘River’, a trancey and euphoric house classic) and Eris (‘Reactiv-8’, an electro selection with Eris’s own vocals), as well as many rare 90s house gems previously limited to the collections of vinyl-heads. Released alongside the CD is a double vinyl plus digital download code format featuring ten full length tracks from the mix."
Negativland’s mirror image sequel to last year’s True False, The World Will Decide turns the focus away from the very human inability to accurately define reality, and towards the technologies being built to do a better job at it.
"But if sorting true from false seemed like a full time job track of was one’s own mind, life alongside the machines built to connect everyone only seems to multiply the uncertainties. On The World Will Decide, those uncertainties are made almost deliriously danceable: a netweb of densely sampled voices melting speech back down into music and back again, into what everyone can agree are the real questions—did that firefly really land on your finger? Would you like to be arrested? Does this app connect you to people, or replace them? Is this post an example of inauthentic behavior? Do people have to die? Or, as one of the many sampled voices on this work assures the listener: we can really feel like we’rehere."
Luke Vibert's first Wagon Christ release in nearly a decade...
"Vibert has been key in pioneering and developing the “trip-hop” or “downtempo” genre of electronic music over his long, storied career. Creating, sampling and using various instrumental hip hop and funk riffs, found electronic sounds, rare breakbeats, outlandish spoken word samples, and carefully mined sound bites, along with LUKE’s signature sample pack of sounds. All mixed up and bound together with those thick WAGON CHRIST grooves."
Composed and arranged by Fermata Ark between November 2018 and April 2019 (UK/Iceland). Extra processing at Greenhouse Studios (Iceland). No extraneous instrumentation was utilised within these recordings. All sonic manipulation of a captured improvisation, all first takes. Instrumental source material from Spencer Grady and Mark Wastell recorded by Rupert Clervaux at Studio 3, London, October 2017. Produced by Mark Wastell.
"Harry Smith’s work is always looking in two directions at once: towards sound, and towards process. Listening to ‘Thus’, we are clearly immersed in both of these: it is a glorious celebration of sound, spinning a world of glittering textures, hovering drones, and fractured kaleidoscopes; but we are equally caught up in the unfolding of the work, with the riveting feeling that we are discovering the work at the same time as its maker is, with a shared sense of discovery and rapture. The soundworld evoked by Smith follows its own inevitable path, with Smith perhaps serving more as host or catalyst than calculating composer. But this image is deceptive: there is impeccable mastery and control here – control of his sounds and materials, but more importantly, an effortlessly masterful control of the shaping of time – that mark Smith as an artist of remarkable insight and talent. ‘Thus’ is a work that rewards headphone listening. No background music this; it is a work to lose yourself in. It is by turns intoxicating, hypnotic, ominous, serene, profound. It is a world of space and of texture, moving effortlessly from the gentle fluttering of insect wings to the dizzying swirling of primordial masses.
Occasionally, the curtains part, to reveal a fragile and human world behind; before we can quite reach it, the fog rises, the clouds close, and we are lost once again in a sea of sound. It is difficult not to be moved by the music on this album. It is a tactile and bodily experience, music to be felt as much as heard. The feelings it evokes, the imagery, the sensations, are all fleeting, transitory, evading any attempt to take hold of them and draw them into the light. Give yourself up to this music. You will not come away unchanged. (James Andean)"
"Directly following an ambient collaboration with modular synth master Alessandro Cortini (Illusion of Time) and a club 12" with Roman Flügel as Noun (Meeting of the Minds), Daniel Avery finished a solo LP and spontaneously decided to release it with no advance hype.
"Love + Light touches on several sides of Avery's personality, delivering propulsive dance tracks as well as reflective experiments, and diverting into other modes that he hasn't explored as frequently. "Dusting for Smoke" and "Dream Distortion" are prime examples of the type of hissing, hazy techno he excels at, with heavy, pounding beats and tense, dreamy synth textures, all fine-tuned for major club impact. "Darlinnn" keeps up a steady beat but builds much more gradually, working up to a frothy peak and then simmering down. Surrounding all these tracks are experimental pieces like the distorted drone of "London Island" (echoing his work with Cortini) and the gentle, floating harp interlude "Katana." "Searing Light, Forward Motion" takes things in a much harsher direction, with clattering, distorted breakbeats reminiscent of Christoph de Babalon or DJ Scud, and furious acid synths sounding like an angry robot on the rampage. "Infinite Future" is much more serene, with shoegazey synths gliding over a slightly jittery post-dubstep beat, and other tracks like "Into the Arms of Stillness" and "A Story in E5" dip into swirling, tenderhearted downtempo IDM in the vein of Casino Versus Japan or Freescha. "Fuzzwar" is in a similar vein, yet somehow it's one of the least fuzzy-sounding tracks on the album. Wrapping it all up is "One More Morning," a light, shimmering electro piece perfect for greeting the sunrise. While Love + Light feels a lot rougher than Avery's first two solo albums, and initially takes a few more listens to fully appreciate, it's just as inspired and creative."
Low-frequency, high-impact events such as earthquakes and tsunamis are not preventable, three bodies in a room sonically engaging are even less so. Beresford’s architectural narrative drives Magaletti and Martino’s rhythmic interventions into compelling short stories about dancing, dressing in rags, dreaming, swallowing, flight, famine, transformation, and dystopias/utopias.
"Frequency Disasters are pianist, improviser and composer Steve Beresford, percussionist Valentina Magaletti and bass player Pierpaolo Martino. The trio offers a carnivalesque approach to improvisation, where high and low culture, drama and irony 'speak' to each other, constantly redefining themselves and where normative approaches to frequency and sound are necessarily escaped. Mixing free jazz, noise, avant-garde and library music, the trio creates an imaginary soundtrack to a narrative nourished by literary suggestions of authors such as P.G. Wodehouse, Jeanette Winterson and Italo Calvino."
Neuzeit, which German electro-acoustic composer J. Peter Schwalm views through his new duo outing with the Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen, is generally taken to refer to the modern era that began in the 16th century and witnessed the rise of Western Civilization.
"Schwalm chooses to take the term on its face, however; the fusion of “new” and “time” he defines as a period marked by sudden and drastic change. To borrow another word from the German, it ably yet dauntingly captures the zeitgeist of our tumultuous moment, one in which political upheaval, global pandemic and catastrophic climate change seem poised to usher in an uncertain new existence."
'Translate' is the first solo artist album in six years from Norfolk synthesizer specialist Luke Abbott: a strikingly direct and assured return to the solo music-making game following a productive diversion into live improvisation with his experimental jazz trio Szun Waves.
"At times dark and ominous, others bright and welcoming, these eleven electronic vignettes form a dramatic and undeniably cinematic body of work which functions as a fitting widescreen soundtrack to our new now.
The lumbering rhythms, strident synths and distinctive touchstones of 'Translate' represent a musical reconciliation with the directness of the wave-making rolling synth-kraut of Abbott’s forthright debut 'Holkham Drones'.
Newly-reinvigorated and with a new sense of musical purpose, this is Luke Abbott’s sound fully realised and never so sure of itself."
Senyawa stir primordial spirits in the cosmically heavy doom and psych explorations of ‘Sujud’, the Indonesian duo’s stellar debut with Sublime Frequencies.
Since arriving to global underground acclaim in 2015 with the ‘Menjadi’ LP on Rabih Beaini’s Morphine Records, Senyawa have established themselves among the most beguiling acts in circulation right now by meshing traditional Indonesian music with elements of doom metal and free improvisation to realise a sound truly without precedent.
Judging by what we’ve previously heard from Rully Shabara Herman and Wukir Suryadi’s duo, ‘Sujud’ is unmistakably their definitive and most powerful album yet. Across seven tracks they explore phantasmagoric scenes of throat singing and abyss-staring doom guitars on the incredible ‘Tanggalkan Di Dunia’, alogn with paralysingly haunting psych-folk on the title track, before jamming gibber-jawed vocals and churning metal riffs on ‘Perjuru Menyatu’, and rounding out with the possessed vocals and grunting guitars of ‘Kembali Ke Dunia’.
“Sujud, their premier release on the Sublime Frequencies label, is the latest chapter of this very special and singular sound of the past, present, and future. The basic theme of the record can be summed up with one extremely powerful Bahasa Indonesian word, Tanah, which translates to "soil-ground-land-earth". Shabara's vocals are an expressive force, conjuring spirits from the soil with a deep humility and respect for the land and their existence in the universe. Suryadi has built a new guitar for these tracks and pushes the Senyawa sound into new territory, utilizing delay, loops, and other effects creating grounded backdrops of folk metal, punk attitudinal, and droning earthscapes - providing Shabara the perfect context to explore his whispering poetry and jagged, sharp-as-a-kris animistic powers. There is simply no other sound like it and Sublime Frequencies is thrilled to present this new direction in their discography.”
Official reissue of Richard Band’s soundtrack for horror fantasy classic Troll (1986).The limited edition yellow-colored 180g vinyl LP is housed in a heavy gatefold sleeve with full movie gallery, obi strip, and video store stickers.The album is also available on CD house in a classic jewel case with cavalier and video store sticker. Both versions contain liner notes by Richard Band himself.
"The infamous Troll score is its very own kind of monster: an extended five-movement symphony conducted by Richard Band in full sorcery mode, creating exhilarating moments of excitement and seat-gripping intensity. At the center of the magnum opus lies the incredible "Cantos Profanae" and its chorus sung in a mix of old English, Gaelic, and Latin - an irresistible magic rhythm, an anthem of fantasy, a true cult classic. Richard Band often cites Troll as one of his favorite works - no wonder, it’s absolutely amazing!
This is released in conjunction with the soundtracks of Empire Pictures’ Ghoulies and TerrorVision, also out on WRWTFWW Records November 20th. Established by producer and director Charles Band in 1983, Empire Pictures quickly became notorious for the horror-comedy classics made during its brief but legendary lifespan. With wild special effects, outrageous humor and over-the-top horror action, Ghoulies, Troll and TerrorVision were three of Empire’s finest works, and each movie featured an unforgettable score by Charles’ award-winning composer brother Richard Band."
Autonomic synth-pop by Donato Dozzy and Eva Geist, expanding on the retro-futurist allure of Dozzy’s Men With Secrets album with a full LP of needlepoint arps and laser-guided grooves landing somewhere between IDIB, dBridge, and Italian potpourri.
“Raster presents »Il Quadro di Troisi«, a project by Andrea Noce (Eva Geist) and Donato Scaramuzzi (Donato Dozzy). The record is a colorful ode of an Italian scented vision, overflowing of details and profound intensity. The contemporary world condition, the pandemic in Italy and around the world define »Il Quadro di Troisi« as a unique and right-on-time release.
This record is a enigmatic collaboration between the two Italian natives Andrea Noce and Donato Scaramuzzi. Andrea Noce takes lead on the vocals, with Donato Scaramuzzi carving the dreamlike soundscapes of the record. The record was born with a correspondence between the two artists about the late actor and director Massimo Troisi, and this exchange soon became an inspirational source of identification. Andrea Noce’s lyrics are sensitive and multi-faceted, they perfectly cling to the musical phrases and flow like a filmic monologue from the oeuvre of that very Troisi.
In a highly creative and confident manner, entire decades of national music history are comprehended and transformed into the here and now. The record takes its cue from the italo-disco, synth pop tradition corroborated by the contribution of artists such as the legendary Twilight Music co-founder, Paolo Micioni, as well as Stefano Di Trapani who wrote »L’ipotesi«. With »Il Quadro di Troisi«, Noce and Scaramuzzi prove their eclecticism, and passion for their home country.
»Il Quadro di Troisi« is a collaboration between Raster and the Milan-based festival Terraforma. With this release, the first with a purely Italian focus on the label, Raster celebrates its long standing relation with Italy and the Italian audience, encapsulated in the label's project ›Electric Campfire‹ held in Rome for ten years. Terraforma is an international experimental and sustainable music festival taking place since 2014 in the park of Villa Arconati, where Dozzy has been invited at every edition in different forms, DJing, live performing both in solo and with Voices from the Lake (together with Neel).”
The Acid Lands, created by the Prague-based Opening Performance Orchestra, was first heard in public in 2014 at the Movement-Sound-Space festival in Ostrava, to mark the centenary of William S. Burroughs's birth.
"The piece was performed live by Opening Performance Orchestra and their guests, the theremin player Martina Potucková, and the poet, musician and performer Pavel Z as the narrator. The studio version of The Acid Lands was made in late 2019/early 2020 in collaboration with Bill Laswell and Iggy Pop, who undertook the role of the narrator. The piece, which pays tribute to William S. Burroughs, features fragments from the novels The Western Lands and Junkie. In addition to the title composition, The Acid Lands, the record contains Bill Laswell's instrumental remix, as well as the collective piece Naming Seven Souls, featuring samples of William S. Burroughs reading his own work."
First new LP in 14 years by Kosmische pioneer Michael Rother (Neu!, Harmonia, Kraftwerk), painting elegant pastoral scenes and lolling synth-pop accompanied by a new vocal muse
Like the soundtrack to an air-conditioned bar at a Goan retirement village for krautrock kosmonauts, ‘Dreaming’ may well please the happiest old hippies but may taste a bit too like specialist German cheese to others, depending your tolerance for milky arps, motorik chug and breathy valium vox.
You may have heard of Gentle Fire, but could be forgiven for not knowing much about them. They were a 6, then 5 member group of composers/improvisers/performers based in London and Yorkshire. Most of the writings that cover the pioneers of experimental, electronic and improvised music have given them scant attention. In addition to this, their recorded output is slim, the main item being a long out of print LP (for EMI Electrola), featuring their interpretations of graphic scores by Cage, Earle Brown and Christian Wolff. Despite recordings for BBC Radio 3 and many German radio stations, it seems extraordinary that there were no other substantial releases of their repertoire, or any of the 6 Group Compositions they created.
Most of the existing Gentle Fire archive was kept privately by Hugh Davies, a member of the group. After Hugh died in 2005 it was shared between various institutions. This release owes much to Hugh’s meticulous record keeping as well as the archives at the British Library and Special Collections at Goldsmiths, University of London. Listening sessions at the British Library were a revelation, it was like discovering a missing link in the evolution of experimental music, but above all it sounded so undated and fresh.
The release is divided into 3 sections. The first CD, recorded between 1970 and 1971 contains 4 studio and 2 concert recordings of graphic and text scores: 2 parts of Stockhausen’s Aus den sieben Tagen, and one piece each by Earle Brown, John Cage, Toshi Ichiyanagi and Christian Wolff. Gentle Fire were active between 1968 and 1974 and were especially active during the early 70s, appearing at numerous European avant garde festivals, playing their own Group Compositions and a wide variety of experimental scores. They even ended up in Iran playing in Stockhausen’s Sternklang, and improvising at dawn at Hafez’s tomb. The text and graphic scores that they were innately drawn towards have large elements of interpretive freedom to them, where the composer provides a skeleton and steps back allowing the players to give it flesh. They were in regular communication with the composers of these piece, so it’s no surprise that their interpretations were sought after by concert organisers and composers alike. There are very few examples of groups working at this time with direct contact to the composers, which makes these recordings especially precious.
CD2 and 3 focus on their own works, CD2 dates from 1973 and was recorded during a 2 day residency at Radio Bremen. The 5 pieces on this disc cover a wide variety of styles and include a 23 minute version of Group Composition VI which is their only text based piece and uses processed and filtered speech.
CD3 is a recording of their appearance at ICES 72, a legendary festival that took place at the Roundhouse in London. Over the course of 2 chaotic weeks a vast number of the world’s experimental musicians took to the stage. Miraculously the whole of the Gentle Fire concert has been preserved. It consists of a performance of their Group Composition IV, centred around a large metal sculpture that all members of the group could play at the same time. The piece actually had its première the previous year on the original pyramid stage at the first Glastonbury Fair. There are several photos of the event included in the booklet that accompanies the CDs.
At last it is possible to assess the importance of this group’s work, both their own work and their interpretations of scores, and to give them their proper place in the history of live experimental/electronic music."
Brand new album from Colorado’s freewheelin’ melodist Josephine Foster. Revolving between her adopted Spain and her native American West, Josephine was stationed this spring in Nashville with maverick guitarist and comrade-in-arms Matthew Schneider. The result: ‘No Harm Done’, a spacious and enveloping love letter of an album.
"Eight new slow-burning songs branch forth from idiosyncratic country folk blues, sung with sibylline wit and a hint of the absurd, awash in sensually anachronic lyricism. “The Wheel of Fortune”, nearly a title track by virtue of its refrain: 'No harm will come/if there's no harm done', are words of a homebound wanderer finding refuge in healing stillness with her beloved, having 'time to kill' in the midst of 'hard times to feel at home'. All delivered with calm sagacity upon the pedestal of Mr. Schneider's pedal steel and underscored by a knowing trebled chorus in Foster's lower register. Going nowhere never felt like so righteous of a destination before.
Devotion in all its permutations, spiritual to carnal, are seamlessly explored. In 'Conjugal Bliss', overtones of the 12-string and autoharp gently interplay, sounding like some unearthed Carter family wedding hymn (it bears the subversive subtitle '69' ) while 'How come, Honeycomb?' bounces low in the hips like a sultry old music hall number à la Harry Nilsson. The obliquely sapphic 'Leonine', it's unquiet harp scaling right out of ancient Lesbos, dreams of a kingless land; in 'Sure Am Devilish', a stargazer humbly confesses to a lowercase lord. 'Old Saw', the mesmeric album closer, is a medium's petition to cross the threshold and merge with the holy spirit.
Josephine's enigmatic voice captured once more by frequent co-producer Andrija Tokic in his analog Bomb Shelter studio, where layers of her guitar, piano, organ entwine with Schneider's 12-string, pedal steel and electric bass to rouse a spectral yet full blooded band. The ensuing cycle of songs pulse and glow within the ruins and deep fundamental roots of American song."
London-based trio Quest Ensemble present a distinctive twist on the traditional piano trio format.
"A collaboration between three powerful performers/composers, ‘The Other Side’ sees musical styles woven together into a lyrical tapestry of sound, blending improvisation with co-created original compositions. A truly unique ensemble in compositional process and performance style.
With nods to influences as broad as the contemporary minimalism of John Adams and Steve Reich, the experimental melancholic textures of Radiohead to the progressive jazz precision of Brad Mehldau, ‘The Other Side’ inhabits its own soundworld somewhere in the gaps between chamber, jazz, folk and contemporary classical music. From the emotive ‘Moments’, the elasticated melodies of ‘Pendulum’, to the fluid lines and compelling urgency of ‘The Boatman’ and ‘Pedal Down’, Quest Ensemble’s compositions fuse layered melodies and rhythmic patterns to create contrapuntal webs of sound. The process involves sharing improvised ideas, building up layers of music on each instrument to create a patchwork of musical themes with a rich vein of surging Reichian rhythms underpinning each."
Ben Frost’s menacing soundscapes have provided a foreboding backdrop to the surreal German thriller for three seasons. In this third and final cycle, Frost’s score evolves beyond the sharp string orchestrations of the first and the percussive distortion of the second, towards a sea of disintegrated brass and woodwind arrangements and Eno-inspired ambience.
"In the third and final season, DARK reaches its mind-bending conclusion, moving beyond the concept of space and time. Upon arrival in a new world, Jonas tries to make sense of what this rendition of Winden means for his own fate, while the ones left behind in the other world are left on a quest to break the loop that now not only bends time but also space. Two worlds. Light and dark. And in the center a tragic love story of epic proportions.
Ben Frost is a Composer, Producer, Sound Artist and Director. Born in Melbourne Australia in 1980 and based since the early 2000’s in Reykjavík Iceland, Frost was mentored by Brian Eno in the Rolex Arts Initiative. His work includes the studio albums Theory of Machines (2007), By The Throat (2009), A U R O R A (2014) and The Centre Cannot Hold (2017) and spans an array of other forms including installations, live performance, scores for dance, theatre, and various studio collaborations. He has composed several scores for film including the Palme d’Or nominated Sleeping Beauty, the TV series Fortitude and Dark. Most recently he composed the score for Raised By Wolves with director Ridley Scott."
First everl release of Richard Band’s full uncut soundtrack for cult horror comedy classic Ghoulies (1985).The limited edition pink-colored 180g vinyl LP is housed in a heavy gatefold sleeve with full movie gallery, obi strip, and video store stickers.The album is also available on CD house in a classic jewel case with cavalier and video store sticker. Both versions contain liner notes by Richard Band himself.
"One of the most sought-after soundtracks from horror/sci-fi/fantasy film scoring master Richard Band, Ghoulies is finally getting the full official release it deserves. Packed with 16 tracks, plus two bonuses by Fela Johnson (including the fan-favorite "Dancing with a Monster", a true disco…monster!), it beautifully flows, covering all aspects of 80s b-movie horror music, from eerie vibes to palpable tension, full on satanic darkness, epic momentums, and just the right amount of wackiness. Band has a true talent for subtle tones and precise moods, fully capable of taking you on an uninterrupted magical ride/listening experience - one that feels like a trip to a 1985 video store and a whole world of mysterious treasures to discover!
This is released in conjunction with the soundtracks of Empire Pictures’ TerrorVision and Troll, also out on WRWTFWW Records November 20th. Established by producer and director Charles Band in 1986, Empire Pictures quickly became notorious for the horror-comedy classics made during its brief but legendary lifespan. With wild special effects, outrageous humor and over-the-top horror action, Ghoulies, Troll and TerrorVision are three of Empire’s finest works, and each movie feature an unforgettable score by Charles’ award-winning composer brother Richard Band."
Sheffield’s industrial music legends returns with a first album in 25 years, shaking up a classic style that has come to influence countless others, from Regis and Powell, to NIN and Mark Fell, since the band first emerged in the late ’70s
Cabaret Voltaire now revolves sole surviving member, Richard H. Kirk, but mostly sound just like they did in their ’80s heyday, mixing agitprop samples with cranky mechanical grooves and sparky synths in a sulky SoYo style they have exported to record collections across the globe. You probably already know they’ve become a byword for this sort of music, and ’Shadow of Fear’ is definitive Cab’s, like.
RHK’s longheld latin kinks come out to play in the cyberpunk soirée opener, and ‘The Power (Of Their Knowledge)’ shows the hordes of drum machine/synth wielding scuzzers how to do it. With a level of sort of psycho-dub sorcery that’s become RHK’s signature, he properly get his hands in there and twists structures like an avant metalsmith or mad scientist, creating strange temporal distance in the ruptured breaks of ‘Microscopic Flesh Fragment’, and panel-beating out 10 mins of factory line disco in ‘Universal Energy’, plus some dodgy Goan techno in ‘Vasto’, and a throwback to Cab’s (and his own) influence over early acid house in the cuboid bass and chattering bleeps of ’Night of the Jackal.’
Glorious turns from ‘90s Chicago staple Rob Mazurek and the superstar Exploding Star Orchestra, revolving members of Tortoise in their stellar number.
For the stats fans, Mazurek has written more than 400 compositions and features on more than 70 recordings, including IARC’s first, and has co-lead or lead ensembles including Chicago Underground, Pharaoh and the Underground (feat. Pharoah Sanders) and São Paolo Underground; just in case you needed confirmation of his truly heavyweight status in the contemporary field. On ‘Dimensional Stardust’ he fronts the free spirited jazz murmurations of the Exploding Star Orchestra through swooning turns, fully making use of orchestral colour in the album’s 10 works, and allowing male room for improvisation which becomes integral to the set’s lush, maximalist tension and release.
“"Dimensional Stardust" showcases the intricacy and complexity of Mazurek’s compositions but in their most potent, most compacted forms. Opting to focus on tight ensemble orchestration over passages of open improvisation, Mazurek distills a maximal orchestra of explosive improvisers into a beautifully restrained, graceful group exercise in melodic minimalism. The album features almost no “soloist” moments, excepting Jeff Parker’s other-worldy guitar meltdown on “The Careening Prism Within,” and when Nicole Mitchell’s flute floats to the front of the barrage on “Sun Core Tet.” Mazurek himself is sparsely present as instrumentalist, only occasionally joining the ensemble with his piccolo trumpet (notably on “Parable 3000,” where he shares leads with Mitchell’s flute and Joel Ross’s vibraphone, and his trills and textures haunt ghostly around Jaimie Branch’s trumpet counterpoint). Even Damon Locks’s voice is employed more like an ensemble instrument than a lead vocalist. Locks’ distinctively dry, abstract narrative flow beams in intermittently – sounding almost like fragments of Deltron 3030 through an Orson Wells-style radio transmission – climaxing in the album-closing poetry of “Autumn Pleiades.” And all the way through, the electro-acoustic poly-rhythmic percussion section (Chad Taylor, Mikel Patrick Avery, and John Herndon) churns, thrusting the music forward as the harmonic instruments collectively bow between frenzied, futurist chromaticism and soaring, pan-humanist pentatonic anthems.”
Darkside D&B reflux from the Christoph De Babalon vaults, snaring seven cuts produced 1993-1998 and absolutely essential for fans of late ‘90s/early’00s breakcore rufige a la DJ Scud, Venetian Snares, Karl-Marx-Stadt, Digital Hardcore
Cold-rushing back to the styles circa CDB’s classic album ‘If You’re Into It, I’m Out Of It’, A Colourful Storm follow their previous archival excursion ‘Exquisite Angst’ with another clutch of wraithlike darkside phantasms from Hamburg, which, while not quite the centre of D&B during the era, still produced one of the sound’s most prized bastard sons with De Babalon’s take on the UK-born genre. Away from the scene’s quick moving trends, De Babalon forged his own take equally inspired by bleak classical scores and black metal atmospheres, but retaining the rhythmic innovations - if with his own, bone-clacking and gutted DIY style - in a way that escaped many other producers outside the main hotspots.
It’s unmissable for the 9” masterwork of darkcore strings and skeletal hardcore breaks in ‘No Man’s Land’, while ‘Toteninsel’ and ‘Blkue Hours’ are deadly strong pieces of gloaming BM ambience, and the likes of the title track’s ravishing bladesaw breaks and the vintage Ambush-style pressure of ‘Combine’ are straightup essential checks for the hardcore doom ravers.
Stunning dream-pop/post-punk side from New Orleans’ MJ Guider, galvanising her shoegaze sound with industrial rhythms sounding out between Cocteau Twins, Tropic of Cancer and Seefeel in an amazing sophomore album for eternal dreamers at Kranky
Arriving four years after her ‘Precious Systems’, which benefitted beautifully from studio mixing rendered by Turk Dietrich and Josh Eustis ov NIN/Second Woman esteem, ’Sour Cherry Bell’ channels a more pronounced sense of southern Gothic mystique and late ‘80s industrial noir for Guider’s follow-up. We’re not certain who’s behind the mixing/mastering this time, but it certainly sounds like Second Woman’s spacious sensitivities come into play, perfectly suspending the vocals in endlessly diaphanous reverbs and giving special attention to the percussion and synths in an electronic/ambient-techno sense that’s seamlessly incorporated and feels like a subtle, but necessary update and mutation of its influences, rather than straightforward homage.
From the cavernous introduction of ‘Lowlight’ through to its supine closer ‘Petrechoria’, the album really comes alive with amplivication, tactfully enveloping the senses with sheets of processed guitar, or set against starkly booming drums in ‘The Steelyard’ and ‘FM Secure’ that conjure the steepest sense of dread, surely recalling Elizabeth Fraser and her amazing meeting with Seefeel’s Mark Clifford, while ‘Body Optics’ and ’Simulus’ feels like a gutted HTRK, and ‘Quiet Time’ could almost be mistaken for Tropic of Cancer, but that keening production is just something else.
Autechre drop ‘Plus’, the ruder counterpart to their brooding ’Sign’ album, rinsing squashed drums and harsher textured tones in a newly aerated, noisier sort of sound design.
If you were left glowing but still hungry for some rufige after ’Sign’, this album’s for you. Their staunchest North Manc C++Boy attitude is in spine twisting, neck snapping effect on nine unusually raw cuts that bleed dank air and squeeze melody from scuffed and scaly surfaces. It’s definitely still AE, but allowing for more space and finer graded textures in the mix, from their juiciest sloshing basses, to the rusted drums and iridescent, aerosolised timbres in a subtle new mutation of their sound.
As we commented with ‘Sign’, it feels like they're haunted by their older forms on ‘Plus’, but still inexorably pulled toward a futuristic unknown. We can feel those opposing forces at action in the stunning hyperstep dynamics and almost nostalgic ken of ‘X4’, which is one of the album’s durational highlights along with the totally absorbing concrète setting and avian chirrups of ‘ecol4’, and the quicksilver techno slipperiness of ‘TM1’, while the likes of ‘7FM ic’ deliver sharper shocks of impossible limb movements, and ‘marhide’ epitomises a noisier approach with straight-jacketed electro extruded thru some kind of imaginary airlock, saving bittersweet touches for the extended melodic thoughts of ‘lux 106 mod’ and the aspartame flavour tang of their beatless roller ‘ii.pre esc’, which is bound to become a favourite.
Quietly gripping and unmissable solo debut from cellist Judith Hamann, following a side of oneiric collages with her strikingly definitive chamber opus, including pieces written for her by Sarah Hennies and Anthony Pateras. RIYL the patient music of Kali Malone or Sarah Davachi, the interworld insights of Pauline Oliveros, or Anna Homler’s glossolalia
‘Music for Cello and Humming’ truly marks the emergence of a vital solo talent, as Judith Hamann segues from behind the scenes as player of note with everyone from Alvin Lucier to Oren Ambarchi, Lori Goldstone and CS + Kreme, to limn her most intimate self-portrait through a suite of works for cello and wordless humming. It smartly includes two works written for her that subtly, and not so subtly, challenge her range, and thus present the Australian artist at her most vulnerable, and, likewise, quietly confident. And coming to you from Blank Forms Editions, home to some of our favourite avant-classical records of recent years (Catherine Christer Hennix, Maryanne Amacher) you can take it on trust this one’s equally worthy of attention.
On five original compositions, Hamann intuitively distills her interests in psychoacoustics, shaking, just intonation, and “the voice in relation to the femme presenting body in performance” with the hauntingly natural accompaniment of cello and voice, which are known to closest resemble each other’s range. These work, while clearly requiring concentrated skill to sustain the string notes, also work to a simpler physical pleasure of humming along to drones, creating a vibrating interference that’s felt s much as heard, and coolly controlled with a shatterproof fragility between the tremulous title piece and absorbingly smudged timbres of her Humming Suite centrepiece, ‘Harmonics étude for one cello and one voice.’
The two works written for Hamann provide complementary contrasts, with Pateras’ ‘Down to Dust’ calling for Hamann tp render her strings and voice more slanted, shimmering and dreamlike, while the album’s unsettling 28 minute final work ‘Loss’, written by Sarah Hennies, demands she hum outside her range, resulting an uncomfortable tension that resolves into near silence, but with a powerful sting in the tail that sends it over the edge and leaves us agog for her next.