Long in the making debut album from Modern Love’s most elusive operator G. Howell. Recorded with a DR550, a battered Charvel guitar + assorted pedals, recommended if you're into Stephen O’Malley, Autechre, David Lynch, Shackleton, NWW, Demdike Stare...
From the disputed border somewhere between Lancashire and Yorkshire, G..H. claims a no mans land where he is free to decimate distinctions between black metal and concrète techno by drawing upon an elusive, metaphysical force that’s exclusively common to music rooted in that region; from Muslimgauze and Autechre thru Shackleton and Demdike Stare.
The inarguably mongrel Housebound Demigod is G.H.’s debut solo album, following the Ground EP (2011) and his involvement with the hexed Pendle Coven project & HATE, alongside Miles Whittaker and Andy Stott, respectively, between 2003 - 2009. It sounds like nothing out there; the result of countless hours at the grindstone, using sound as tonal therapy and a purely expressive sculptural material to best render the feel of his bleak but extraordinarily beautiful surroundings with all the rugged texture and captivating aesthetic of some ancient cave graffiti.
The album unfolds as a treacherous topography of boggy drones, entrenched subbass and deforested, windswept feedback, strewn with the charred remains of black metal in opener Screaming Demon Pickups and the hollow-eyed stare down of Angels & Doormen, or prone to bury the senses with unpredictable slow techno mudslides in Mickey Cosmos or the subsidence of Packhorse.
He often underlines that physicality with a drily ambiguous wit; check the bitterly clipped narrative on Yorkshire Fog, or, equally, when he puts all his weight behind the stylus-troubling, bestial shudder of Devils Bit Scabious, and you can’t shake the feeling that he’s gurning like an evil loon behind the rotten torque of the album’s titular parting shot.
While ostensibly monotone, overcast, the devil is found in the album’s subtleties of timing and mixing detail; riddled with phantasms that lurk and lash out from the crevices of its granite slabs and pitch black ravines, all placed at oblique angles in his surreally folded, labyrinthine and unheimlich soundfield.
The follow-up to 2019's dramatic debut 10", "hills/demons" continues Paul Purgas (Emptyset) and Imran Perretta's examination of diasporic musical vibrations, with help from Nabihah Iqbal and Bangladeshi singer Sohini Alam.
Another project that looks back to move forward, Paul Purgas and filmmaker Imran Perretta's AMRA establishes itself in earnest with this latest plate. More substantial than its predecessor and bringing in a larger group of collaborators, it features Nabihah Iqbal on sitar on opening track 'Toli Pir', alongside Bangladeshi singer Sohini Alam, both of whom add texture to Purgas and Perretta's reverberating atmospheres. The duo claim to be motivated by ancient rhythmic talas and syncretic mythologies, themes that are well conveyed in this opening intro.
'Rohtang Pass' is a more robust percussive experiment, that plays on Purgas's usual industrial grittiness, pulling the rhythmic focus towards South Asian stylistic templates; basically it's like Pan Sonic if they were motivated by tabla improvisation rather than hotwired drum machines. 'Brahmajuni' continues the experiments, building the tension into a Hollywood score-style crescendo, and closing track 'Srimangal' brings back Alam's vocals for a euphoric finale.
Gathering a team of collaborators that includes Jonnine Standish, AK Paul, Sherelle, Marie Davidson and HAAi, Daniel Avery looks back to his earliest inspirations - Portishead, Mogwai, Aphex and David Lynch - on his latest full-length.
What makes a good album? For those of us who grew up hearing the NME and the Melody Maker wax lyrical about tasteful tomes like Portishead's "Dummy" and Mogwai's "Come On Die Young", there's probably a script in mind. Daniel Avery was in this mode when he was conceptualising "Ultra Truth", which he describes as "an entirely new world of sound", inviting a full mob of collaborators to help bring his ideas to life, including Ghost Culture and Manni Dee on co-production, and a crew of vocalists to spice up his well-engineered and emotive electro backdrops.
The title track sets the scene, harnessing a sound that's in the vicinity of "I Care Because You Do"-era AFX. HAAi pops up on robust uptempo roller 'Wall of Sleep', and Jonnine is echoed into the digital ether on 'Only', a track that sounds like trip-hop funelled through a broken shortwave radio. The mood throughout appears to owe most to "Artificial Intelligence"-era IDM - there's even a euphoric acid track called 'Lone Swordsman'. And while there are diversions into other areas (Avery collides with fuzzy jungle on 'Higher' and 'Devotion'), it's the Squarepusher/Plaid/AFX axis that cuts through loudest.
Death Is Not The End dig up another treasure trove, excavating Thai pop music from the mid 20th-century, a bright fusion of Thai folk sounds, jazz, tango and rumba.
'Phleng Thai Sakon' means "song that is both Thai and universal", and the term was used to refer to the pop music that flooded Thailand after the 1930s cultural revolution. After World War II, the form began to blossom into subgenres like phleng talad (market songs) and phleng chiwit (life songs), but it wasn't until the music took on a more ballideering quality that it was formalized properly. Luk krung was used to describe this urban pop music, while the traditional styles were known as Luk thung; "Begging the Moon" focuses on the Luk krung style, but doesn't shy away from earthier references. And while there's a Western influence from jazz and mid-century romantic pop, it doesn't contort the music's heartbeat.
There's something about these compilations that feels rigorous; while plenty of Luk thung made it to Sublime Frequencies compilations a couple of decades ago, hearing it catalogued in this way provides us a sense of place and purpose - as well as a reading of the era's layered history. It's like a time capsule of an era and a part of the world that's all too often misunderstood, it's a pleasure to interface with on every level. An education.
DJ Old Rat is the alias of Steve Barker, legendary broadcaster of the On The Wire radio show - and inestimable digger of reggae, dub and far beyond - here furnishing Ossia’s RWDFWD a deadly 90 minutes of deep and psychoactive pickings.
*Spinback & FX* Let’s take it from the top, and 1984, when Steve Barker first transmitted his On The Wire show via BBC Lancashire in the sodden post-industrial landscapes of North West England. While it wasn’t his first broadcast - that was on Radio Blackburn in 1978! - his maiden On The Wire show was the start of the longest running alternative music show on UK radio, with a regular 3 hour slot that would notably give first plays of forward Black music from Derrick May and Kevin Sanderson alongside the first radio turns of ‘Pacific State’ by their spiritual descendants/parallels 808 State.
Hopping between deepest, upfront Black music and its echoes in punky British bands and beyond became a hallmark of Barker’s shows as much as the clubs down the road in Manchester, reflecting styles emerging from the likes of The Reno and The Nile in Moss Side that were fostering the first strains of music made by artists with dual heritage, often Afro-Caribbean and Irish, that were also found in the working class communities of London and Bristol.
DJ Old Rat’s ‘RWDFWDMIX011’ is a killer selection rooted in that formative early ‘80s era and resounding for the ages. It features many artists previously highlighted over the years on Barker’s radio show (John John, Jazzbo, Shabba, Pablo, Jnr Reid, Mighty Two, Phil Pratt, the Observer, Sylvan Morris, Phillip Fulwood, Tubby, Far I, Winston Riley and the mighty "Cough & Spit Out" versioning the Meters), and likely covered in his writings for The Wire magazine, highlighting dusty cuts from his heaving shelves in a spellbinding sequence of tunes played start-to-finish, just how they used to make and play them before DJ egos had to be seen in operation (not behind the scenes like this G).
Based in rural New Mexico, William Fowler Collins is a composer, recording artist and performer.
"His music extends across and beyond many genres including drone, minimalism, and free improvisation. He records and performs in both solo and group contexts. Collins has released music on the SIGE, Type, Blackest Rainbow, Handmade Birds, Sicksicksick and Root Strata record labels. In addition to his work as a solo artist, Collins has several collaborations including Thalassa with Aaron Turner and Mesa Ritual with Raven Chacon. He has also collaborated with Marshall Trammell, James Jackson Toth, Mamiffer and Margarida Garcia.
Alone Inside the Walls of Night is music for Mellotron, violin, synthesizers, and electric guitar. It was completed in 2022 and is dedicated to Maria Valentina Chirico, and features Heather Trost on violin.
Artwork by Chris Bigg."
Deep house and techno auteur Levon Vincent dons Michael Mann-esque cinematic goggles for ’Silent City’, a panoramic mixtape-like collection of downbeat expressions that swap out muscle Mary momentum for sensuality and futurist synth gleam
Effectively Levon’s reflection on grief and love, the 10-track session’s tack toward bass-heavy beatdown and dubbed-out slow/fast rhythms is primed for the after-afters and cruising the metropolis by night. Echoing the starkest, introspective strains of Urban Tribe’s Stingray or Kemetrix, and the brooding might of Andy Stott or Justin K. Broderick’s Final, it’s best defined by a sense of staunchly old skool NYC ruggedness and yoked synth-pop emotion; all streaking halogen light bouncing off glass, rats scurrying around your Timberlands in streets strewn with junkies and zombies as you live out a noir, near-apocalyptic fantasy that’s uncannily close to reality.
To drop a reference that scant few will get (less than a handful, of which we are a smug one, according to Discogs), it bares traces of Levon’s one-off 2004 album as Pop Culture in its embrace of non-techno structures and tones that hew to his roots in NYC synth-pop and electro. It also relates directly to his formative musical studies of NYC’s influential avant-garde minimalism in its singular palette of non-standard tunings, which are responsible for the fine spectrum of feels evoked across the trip from ‘Everlasting Joy’ to the sublimated stepper ’Sunset’.
Taking the full, durational opportunity of the tape format, Levon conjures 78 minutes of heart-on-sleeve moods & grooves. There’s a clear nod to emosh New Order in his mesh of trilling drill triplets and stately keys on ‘Gattaca’ or the nervy-tweaking electro of ’Tigers’, and echoes Tangerine Dream themes for Michael Mann flicks in the synthy promise of ’Sunrise’ and perhaps more Johnny Jewel-esque in Wolves’, with a key vein of bad-minded synth grunge on ‘Birds’ and wickedly suppressed in the knife-edge tension to ‘Moonlight’. Evidently it’s not what anyone might have predicted from Levon, but, all the same, a strong and refreshing addition to his singular oeuvre.
The eagerly-awaited sequel to Malibu's "One Life", "Palaces of Pity" is a euphoric ambient (trance?) elegy to calm, sublimating delayed guitars and cello into balearic zoomer-bient bliss sequences that remind us of Orbital, Burial, Enya.
'One Life' was an all-too-brief album that summarized a spectrum of moods, refining the slow crawl of nostalgic ambience into a digestible cinematic narrative that peaked with the Oliver Coates-assisted title track. 'Palaces of Pity' is its follow-up, this time motivated by quietude. It's music that is to trance and '90s Hallmark ambience what Burial is to garage and 'ardkore, the vaporous traces of a shared memory that's been passed along via regurgitated (algorithm assisted) mainstream culture before being reduced to noise and dust. Pure vibes, if you will.
Opening track 'The Things That Fade' might be the most strident example of Malibu's technique, with seductive vocals layered over Café Del Mar guitar licks, dirtied Reese bass rumbles and dizzying phased strings. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, adopting the weightless motion of Chicane or Banco de Gaia if the music was piped into an empty swimming pool and recorded to an iPhone; a lost future memory of the hedonism zoomers were promised but never inherited. Malibu once again taps experimental cellist du jour Oliver Coates to help out with textures, enlisting Madelen Dressler-Vollsaeter too, and guitarist Florian Le-Prisé, whose lite jazz tangles echo Isolée's iconic 'Beau Mot Plage', experienced within a half-remembered dream.
But the piece of music that looms largest over "Palaces of Pity" is Orbital's early '90s emosh classic 'Halcyon', that loops Kirsty Hawkshaw's wordless coos over clipped 'n stepped broken house rolls and an unsurpassed TX81Z "lately bass" bassline. The original was written as a tribute to brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll's mother, who was addicted to benzodiazepine derivative Halcion; it seems peculiarly fitting now that the narcotic ambient sound it inspired has become a de-facto soundtrack to a generation partly defined by its relationship with benzos. If "One Life" was anger, and "Palaces of Pity" is calm, there's an oddly medicinal subtext that's hard to ignore; blind panic is reduced to an emotional cinder. Stripping away the beats entirely and only leaving the sort of longing strings, soaring vocals and next-morning-comedown throb that Orbital captured so perfectly in the '90s, Malibu makes music that sounds completely in line with an emotion that's hard to define because we're still trapped, slumped over the trashcan.
As temporally liminal as Burial's 'In McDonalds', instead of soundtracking a late night visit to the Mark Fisher-powered neon-lit consumerist endzone "Palaces of Pity" is lying in wait for a VR world we haven't quite been granted access to yet. As austerity trips into rapid inflation and a cost of living crisis, the idea of the beach holiday is bound to become more and more mythical, and a soundtrack like this ends up representing the concept of sun, sea, sand and relaxation rather than its physical reality. Cleaved from the actual experience of boozy Club 18-30 package parties and balmy weekends breathing un-polluted salt air, its music that's as suggestive of the life we don't have as AI rendered artwork is to the skills we never learned. Dystopian, maybe, but also painfully on point.
Deep Blue Aquatic Creatures from Stonecirclesampler.
"The tape is bleak, quite literally – the entire narrative is subsumed by the slate-grey oppression of winter, seemingly every scene soaked by perpetual torrents of North West rain. In fact, you'll probably never find a better evocation of the foul weeks before the respite of Christmas sparkle; those late November days of frozen, sodden-coated darkness on the silent walk home from work."
Washington D.C. don Jackson Ryland serves wickedly gritty beatdown and trip hop moonshine via his home-brewed label.
Rolling left after a near decade in the game, Ryland’s ‘New Cat’ frames a gauzier spirit at work for the afterhours and headphone crews. Somewhere between living room stagger and crashed on the sofa, the mode resonates with classic SAW / I Care Because You Do-era Aphex and generally that mid 90’s sweetspot, a time when the crackling embers of jungle and UK soul splintered off in myriad directions.
Wrecked but still not ready for bed, the set has a satisfyingly hazy grip primed for tenderised minds and feet, from the drifting choral samples and reverse-looped slope of ’Sup Beat’ to the slanted & enchanted grid-smudge ‘Correctamundo’ to trampling breaks on ‘Eggheads’, and proper ‘90s illbient on ‘Evolution Beat’, with the moody ‘Sax’ acting as a palate cleanser for the album’s 2nd wind on the sexy ‘Rooftop Pool’, and the slow/fast sizzle of ‘Fat Chance’, before crashing out on ‘Kinetic’.
Hearing a lot of this mid 90’s vibe atm, but this one’s done proper.
Dane Law's latest is a serving of low-key magic put together with acoustic guitar samples and a semi-algorithmic Max/MSP patch. Somewhere between Oval, The Books/Zammuto and Matmos but more folk-inspired, it's affecting, unexpectedly warm material.
It's the physical sound of "blue forty-six" that makes it so special. By sampling acoustic guitar plucks but removing the fingerpicked squeaks and fretboard noise, Adam Parkinson (aka Dane Law) has reframed our perception of the omnipresent instrument, lending it the sonic characteristics of a harp, a koto, or a kora. He began the process so he could create a Max patch that would he could improvise with, semi-algorithmically. Once the notes were recorded, he began assembling the tracks, inspired by books about polar exploration and the arctic wilderness. This landscape offers "blue forty-six" its horizon, and its hard to listen to Parkinson's jerky but incredibly beautiful sounds without conjuring up mental visions of ice sheets, blizzards and hidden Lovecraftian nightmares.
Highlighting specific tracks is an almost pointless process; the album is a single idea ruthlessly explored in slightly different ways on each track. Thinking of it another way, it plays like a solo guitar album - by thinning out his options, Parkinson has created a level of focus that feels rigorous and almost academic. It's not a million miles away from Oval's underrated "Oh", an unashamedly computerized guitar study that attempted to bridge the gap between Markus Popp's notorious glitch experiments and Tortoise's emotive post-rock. But where Popp's approach was to scrub the sounds to almost sterile perfection, Parkinson is purposefully rougher; he admits that if you listen carefully, you might hear his cat or a radiator creaking under the notes.
This sense of humor gives "blue forty-six" a warmth and levity that reinforces its cascading chimes and bright, buzzy harmonics. Without focusing on the process, you might mistake the album for a lost psychedelic folk construction, a harpsichord jam or a set of icy dulcimer experiments. The joy is in the fine details; focus your ears and you'll get to experience Parkinson's vision in all its tundra-guided glory. You'll be lost in the white-out in no time.
Georgian artist Rezo Glonti coaxes a discrete, star-gazing suite of electronics from the Teenage Engineering OP-1 synth/sampler/controller for One Instrument’s conceptual series
Formerly found on Kate Carr’s Flaming Pines label and occasionally on Tbilisi’s Mutant Radio, Glonti’s work focusses on space and texture, with a certain sort of Middle eastern/Eurasian tang to his tunings helping to define this one. The 8 works are succinct and elegant snapshots of his tactful touch with the machine, with a melancholy, nostalgic allure that may help lull eyelids to half mast and induce sanguine states of mind. Initially awning and cosmic in ‘I Guess It’s Not Yet Li’, he projects into soothing, oceanic space on ‘Pastiche’, and follows melodic whims to the waltzing and iridescent ‘Allegedly’, tempering he flow with lullaby-like tones in ‘Lina’ and tending to the flipside of that feeling in the brooding dread of ‘Net Variations’.
There’s perhaps a clear nod to AFX’s SAWII in ‘random Requiem’ and the choral bliss out ‘Sacrificial Anode’ that comes to resolve in Twin Peaks-y intrigue on ‘Dr. Eric Last’.
Mickey J Blood coming in your earholes! Paralleling his ongoing NTS radio series, the mysterious producer cues up an hour of previously unreleased jams cutting across the radio dial between myriad styles on the first in a series.
Lest we forget, Michael J. Blood began life as a production showcase put together in 2019 by Tom Boogizm on NTS, with the show later issued on tape by Finn’s 2 B Real. ‘Blood FM#1’ now takes MJB to the fantasy airwaves with an hour long sequence of signature loopy, tracky jamz interspersed with radio chatter, static noise and soul samples dialling into different channels on yr analogue radio.
It’s a classic concept nailed perfectly, running stacks of previously unreleased technosoul bangers, gristly downbeats, strung out edits and proper concrète sampler audities with an attention deficit style that highlights the breadth of his spectrum. It’s certain to snag fans of everyone from the Electrifying Mojo and Ken Collier, to Gescom’s Disengage shows and Stu Allen on KissFM, thru Actress, Madteo, or Demdike Stare mixtapes - the best shit.
Genius, schismatic mixtape styles from Rob Digikiller ov Brooklyn’s beloved reggae reissuers, playing deep into, and hard out of, expectations for TTT.
So yeah, side A is the one for the reggae heads, stacking super sturdy and rootical cuts of dubwise reggae flush with chanting vocals, rolling nyabinghi drums and floating organs for the top shelf, surprisingly ending with a delectable countrified power ballad.
The B-side absolutely lets fly with other styles, roving the outer limits of heavy, thrash and black metal and into zoned-out hammering free-folk scuzz, into the atmospheric nether fields to spirit-clawing mentation electronic styles, wrapped up with a sharp left turn into what-the-f*ck-is-that? zones all the best mixtapes slide into.
Bravo, that’s how ya do it.
South London band Dry Cleaning's follow-up to their well-received 2021 debut "New Long Leg" is unashamedly British - sardonic, self-deprecating, poetic, earthy, pessimistic - which would be something to cherish if it wasn't so devoid of life. Maybe it's all we deserve.
It doesn't take more than a few seconds to isolate exactly where Dry Cleaning are coming from. Familiar dub-inspired post-punk bass notes introduce us to 'Anna Calls From The Arctic', before Florence Shaw's deadpan narrative anchors the track in a mood of unmistakably British malaise. Their musical influences are a teeth-grindingly tasteful laundry list of British reference points: The Smiths, The Fall, Public Image Limited. There's even a trace of the Factory stable in there somewhere beneath the paid-in-full art school velvet.
None of this would be an issue if it didn't sound like music devised by committee; British civic life is in a state of chaos, which Dry Cleaning freely reference on tracks like 'Conservative Hell', but shouldn't this result in musical violence rather than dejected nonchalance? The spectre of Johnny Marr looms over the jangling guitars on 'Kwenchy Kups', and Shaw comments, "Well things are shit, but they're gonna be okay." Are they? You sure?
LA’s Taylor E. Burch ov DVA Damas and Tropic of Cancer drops a cache of nuggets for Downwards, posing a killer mix of droll post-punk vocals and stripped dub/R&B/art-pop somewhere between Lolina, Gwen Stefani and The Slits. Mad original, bass-heavy ohrwurm fire!
Over a decade since her debut 10” with DVA Damas, and following a superb stint on Pessimist’s Stigma project in ’21, ‘The Best of Taylor E. Burch’ (though none of this matereial has even been released before) reveals her prowling swag from unexpected angles across nine distinctively succinct bullets bolstered by Elon Katz’s vocal production. Laid-back but tightly coiled, they slant from the clear echoes of Inga Copeland/Lolina on its intro, to cattier art-pop minimalism on ‘I’ve Never Felt Better In My Life’, her vocals layered and sparingly pronged with compelling effects around her wiry guitars and flashes of the gnash and bump that made her work with main vehicle DVA Damas (beside Joe Cocherell) so vital.
The lilting, purring punky dubs of ‘I Wanna Be Your Girl’ and ‘Time Differences’ illuminate a softer side delivered with a wry swagger, from the eyrie, clipped dembow Tears For Fears cover ‘Head over Heels’ to potent highlight ‘F*ck You Up’, while ‘We’re All The X’ and ‘’Time Is On My Side’ make us think of a slanted Juliana Hatfield, and we can’t help but recall that ace Fay record (‘Din’, Time No Place, 2012) in the brittle but heavy af ‘Na Na Na Na Na (Reprise).’
One of the most enjoyable, rinsable tapes of the year, full marks, plus.
Magnificent Goretex vortex gear from Richard Skelton, evoking the attrition of weather and time on rugged landscapes with 40 minutes of rough hewn yet emotionally resonant ambient drone textures for his private label - a sort of quietly growling, windswept special.
Third in Skelton’s ‘Moraine Sequence’, ‘Shear Planes’ spies two longform works that etch themselves on the mind’s eye with a particularly caustic and captivating effect. Inspired by the natural world, Skelton’s music takes its cues from glacigenic landforms as a study in glacial rheology; the process by which glaciers mould and modulate the landscapes by ‘basal shear stress’, deforming bedrock by immense hydrostatic pressures. Skelton’s music models this effect with simple waveforms layered into immense, grinding slabs of sound at the biting-point of distortion, pushing down and forwards with elemental strength.
Undulating an accretion of groaning basses, the first part commits Skelton’s vision somewhere between longhair mountaintop kosmiche and blistered ambient, carving its way from the back of the eyelids with a sort of fizzing intensity for its 20 minute duration. On the 2nd part, Skelton really leans into his thing with a frozen bite, emphasising the mid-range gnaw by opening out almost choral textures to make the landscape sing.
More nostalgic joy from the Death is Not the End crew - 'Pure Wicked Tune' is a set of deejay led concréte chop-ups nabbed from London soundsystems between the mid '80s and early '90s. Soul, funk, boogie, and rare groove bitten into by reggae sirens and omnipresent toasting - we're sold.
Before electronic dance music blossomed and bloomed in the late 1980s and came to dominate the British club scene in the 1990s and beyond, house parties and dances were dominated by radically different sounds - from reggae and soul to funk and boogie. Like Death is Not the End's rave adverts series, this collection plays like a time capsule of an era that's not really been documented and shines a light on a period of time in London that's often referenced but rarely interfaced with. "Pure Wicked Tune: Rare Groove Blues Dances & House Parties 1985-1992" is the first in a new series from the label that explores the sounds of UK soundsystem culture, assembling cuts from tapes distributed back in the day, recording music and vibes from South and East London's dances that dwindled once rave and jungle became dominant.
Listen carefully to the sounds that emerged in the early 1990s though and you'll hear traces of all of this music: 4hero and Giles Peterson's Talkin' Loud imprint for example constantly referenced this era, sweeping up the ashes of London's soul and funk soundsystems and reforming into something fresh and urgent. The music we're presented with here gives context for those sounds; reggae toasters and DJs blending burned-out rare grooves and embellished with studio effects, sirens and chatter that was as important as the music itself.
Pioneer of contemporary queer rap, Mykki Blanco makes up for a notable absence from a scene they fostered with a 2nd album in two years, flanked by Anohni, Kelsey Lu, Saul Williams, Michael Stipe, Devendra Banhart, Jónsi, and many more notables besides.
Marking a decade since the sea change of the early ’10s and their foundational ‘Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss’ for the crucible of UNO, Blanco’s influential fairy godfather status is reflected in the glittering roll call of guest on ’Stay Close To Music.’ From its anthemic pearl ‘Ketamine’ starring Awful Music’s indie-rap star Slug Christ, to the harmonious duet with Michael Stipe ‘Family Ties’, his bonds are diverse as they are deep with the scene that begat contemporary heroes such as Iceboy Viuolet and Rainy Miller at one end, or Frank Ocean and Arca at the other.
To spotlight some strong moments, folk troubadour Devendra Banhart makes a sterling appearance in the spa-ready chill of ‘You Will Find It’, and Anohni sounds lush against the smoothly stripped back ‘French Lesson’, and, left to their own devices, Mykki keeps it up-to-the-second on the warped drill of ‘Lucky’ and brooding downstroke ‘Trust A Little Bit’.
Cult series MBE - home to mixtapes from Beatrice Dillon, Conor Thomas, EVOL and more, gives the headiest flashback to ‘90s ragga-techno-rave with Zion Train’s recording from the same United Tribe warehouse party that spawned Paul Daley ov Leftfield’s tape last year - proper dog-on-a-string and 10p-a-tab acid vibes!
Digging deep into the addled recesses of the collective rave memory, Zion Train’s set from the ECCHERCCA!? III rave, held by United Tribes in ’94, heralds a then-ubiquitous sound that was beloved by dancers, but sneered at by trendier heads. Stepping on the sweetspot between prog house, breaks, ragga-dub, and acid techno, it was the sort of style also favoured by Megadog and free-parties in the UK, running counter to more “handbag” house and buttoned-up vibes, with a loose as fuck new age-techno/crusty spirit open to all dancers up for a good skank.
We’re guessing that the ravers may have smelt a bit better in Naples, Italy, but still shared the open-minded vibe and politics (lots of shout outs to Amnesty International, legalise marijuana etc) that went hand-in-hand with the early ‘90s hippy spirit. For almost an hour the set rocks on its heel-toes with a psychedelic swirl of barrelling acid-dub bass, flying 909 steppers techno rhythm and vocals channelling Ari-Up for the ‘90s; soundsystem detonations sharing space with proggy trance pads and the sort of mystic ragga-dub acid heard in John T Gast via Iration Steppers and countless parties between Cornwall, Bristol, London, Leeds and Manchester. Simply a f good time without the sneer or the pretence that would creep into dance music as the ‘90s party would eventually burn itself out.
In resident DJ and member of the UT crew, Danylo's words: "Back in 1993, I was resident Dj and active member of United Tribes, playing upfront progressive house on our club nights. I was also thrilled by the emerging scene of ambient and techno dub gaining momentum in the same period. Then, our local record store in Naples, called Flying records, started to distribute 12-inch mix from a label unknown to me, called Universal Egg, Zion Train label. Well, I got amazed by the solid groove and bass of Universal Egg tunes. It was roots music projected into the future. At some point Ivanmaria Vele-the instigator of United Tribes- went to London on one of his usual trips where he met Paul Daley. In fact we were mad about the latest Leftfield productions and wanted him to play in Naples. Ivan and Paul met in a club where, surprisingly, Zion Train were playing in one of the darkest rooms. So the contact with Paul and Zion Train was created, 2 phone numbers and few notes a piece of paper with that brought us directly to shape ECCHERECCA!? III, in March 1994: The rest is history, and in this tape you can experience the incredible live performance by Zion Train. A step in a future that will ever be present."
Wot do you call it? Jungle house, pal. UKG dynamo Finn slackens niche-style speed garage and ramps bassline house on a wicked one-two mixtape that messes with the sounds’ fundamentals.
Expanding an idea that’s been bubbling in his highly active imagination for time now, Jungle House makes subtly wicked adjustments to parameters of the UK’s favourite raving tackle. One side sees “speed garage played slow” and the other finds “bassline house played fast”, and both are absolutely up for it in their own way.
Finn finds new life in well worn tunes by simple but deadly effective strategies. On the A-side, speed garage is recorrected in step with the OG, US garage steez, yoking it back to a slinkier, sexier pace, just like they used to play it, before the rush of the ‘90s and DJs playing garage in the back rooms of D&B raves were practically forced to pitch it up to match the levels in the other room. Finn knows his onions, and his slowed down side is full of heat that sounds dead right in this context - those Reese basses sound class when slow and swollen, and the drums still carry it without losing the energy. Bravo.
His B-side however lives up to the UK’s reputation for going hard or going home. For 45 minutes Niche-style bassline is pushed up into the 150BPM bracket with breathless results making the breakdowns even more crucial for tempering the pressure gauge, hitting the sort of pace and giddiness we’d associate with his pal and longtime DJ-spar, Jordan’s acclaimed donk and UKG sets.
The Tapeworm presents Itchy Spots.
"The Berlin based duo Itchy Spots combine falling words with tricky rhythms. Their music concerns the simultaneity of intensity and nonchalance, feverish high speed drumming, static sounds and tribal hypnosis. The vocal performance seems to stand alone, it is independent from whats happening rhythmically, yet it all melts together perfectly. Grooving skeletons of songs, rituals and shamanism.
Itchy Spots are James Main (former singer and lyricist with Wild Daughter) and Ansgar Wilken (Ilse Lau, Feedbackorchester, Happy Zloty)."
Elle Andrews lands on Rat Heart’s $hotta Tapes with a 70 minute drum odyssey arcing from cascading chimes to martial snares, drill, amapiano, angular post punk x footwork inversions into bare-boned UKG, dancehall and jump-up jungle.
As far as we can tell the first properly released mixtape from MAL Recordings co-founder Elle Andrews - and it’s a real one, building from skeletal drums into full bodied rhythmic madness in a perpetual forward motion that seems to intensify endlessly despite persistently jerking outside the lines.
Poised between two worlds - one where flawlessly mixed business often leaves us cold, and one where selection is everything - Elle basically manages to sound like someone running through all their secret weapons - one after another - somehow making them all shine. There’s no jive bunny grid-riding here, it’s loose as f*ck, a perfectly selected, multi-tempoed rinseout that plays the elusive trick of sounding both completely off-the-cuff and like it could have been planned and trimmed for years.
For all the proclamations of so many contemporary "genre-agnostic" deejays who inevitably always end up playing it safe, this one really does sprawl into multiple directions without ever sounding contrived - just the sickest tunes, selected with deep knowledge and the tightest grip of yr energy levels and limb movements.
An essential $hotta, no less.
The recorded October 2021 show from Bear Bones, Lay Low and Polonius at the Circolo Dev.
"Side A is a shamanic potion cooked by improvisation artist Bear Bones, Lay Low. 45 minutes of slow brewing of hypnotic sounds originated from tapes, synths and various effects. A meditating process that slowly morphs into a tribal dance that ends with estatic liberation.
On side B 37 minutes of the magical improvisation of Polonius, that after a slow spelling brings you in to his world of samples and repetition, in a schizophrenic representation of modern world. A live composition on a laptop and a keyboard where every sample is played live."
The Tapeworm presents Psychic Architecture from Minneapolis based composer and sound artist Marsha Fisher.
"Originally from Nebraska, they participated heavily in the Lincoln DIY scene. They bring the DIY ethos into their experimental music practice by using consumer tape players and cassettes to replicate musique concrète techniques in a context more similar to harsh noise.
Fisher also runs the tape labels Gay Hippie Vampire and Activated Skeleton and has recent releases on Orb Tapes, Falt, and Full Spectrum Records."
Brilliant, lysergic synth-pop pearls and romantic elegies from Tekla Peterson, the unpredicted pop alias of cellist Louise Bock, something quite different on the reliable Geographic North - RIYL Oï les Ox, Molly Nilsson, Group Rhoda, Ka Baird
Presenting a markedly different figure to the one heard on her beautifully bleak ‘Sketch For Winter VII - Abyss: For Cello’ in 2020, Taralie Peterson expresses a far more colourful, ’80s pop-shaped sound from the bosom of the US avant-garde in ‘Heart Press’. Although barely recognisable as the work of the same artist, the two projects share an emotive grip and dreamlike magick that elevates them to be very much worth your time, and especially for lovers of canny, yet wayward pop glitter.
Your ears won’t deceive you, the whole thing is just riddled with ohrwurms and gently psychoactive, fractal details from front to back, stirring up gorgeous sorts of cusp-of-‘90s lysergic pop in the bubbling breaks and swaying FM synths of ‘Soda Pop Jam’, and stepping seminal art-pop templates with the unusual modal pop of ‘Swarm of Gnats’ like a stray Group Rhoda bullet, or channelling Molly Nilsson’s cathartic pop expression via mind-bending psych styles that speak to her background in band Spires That In The Sunset Rise beside Ka Baird.
We’re equally smitten with the chanson shimmy of ‘Between a Rock’ and dry-iced elegance of ‘Count out Shadows’, with the baroque electro disco of ‘WWIB’ sealing the deal for an EP we shall be returning to for repeat listens.
Born in Baghdad, raised in Tasmania, and now based in Barcelona, Dania Shihab moves between cultures and continents with an amorphous creative vision directly tied to her transient existence. As founder of experimental outpost Paralaxe Editions, Dania divides her time between Spain and the remote corners of Australia, where she works as an emergency doctor. Now, Dania presents her solo debut 'Voz,' which finds her rediscovering her voice as a primary instrument.
"The title “Voz”—Spanish for “voice” and signaling to her transnational experiences between Spain and Australia for the last decade—is especially fitting, as Dania grew up in a household where singing was culturally frowned upon. “I used to record myself privately by dubbing my vocals onto tapes in my bedroom and lied about joining the school choir. A lot of what I did musically was done in secret. For that, I have a difficult relationship with my voice,” Dania explains. And although not all the songs have vocals, the tracks here show Dania’s voice in an undeniably self-reflective, introspective, and cathartic light.
Created using a smattering of looped-and-layered vocals, instrumental samples, modular synthesis, cassette tapes, and piano, 'Voz' is an entrapped exploration of harmonics and tonality, weaving together manipulated vocal fragments, processed field recordings, and meditative atmospheres.
Dania sets the scene with the melancholic majesty of “I Lied,” a solitary chorus of lifted and lilted vocals and peripheral drones wafting through the air. “Aleph” floats in an ascending, slow-motion sprawl of synth tones, distant pianos, and kaleidoscopic lyrical abstractions. The low-fi churn of “Fire Dash” offers a vibrant milieu of witching hour merriment; a sinister snapshot that searches in the shadows to find even odder beauty.
“Whale Song” departs the well-trodden path and ventures into a thick brush of humid ambiance like a sweltering aural travelog of some uncharted place. The backward drift of “An Individual” levitates in a bubbly fog of heavenly harmonics, while “The Other Thing Is” awakens in a calm, piano-drenched state of hustle and bustle. “Anomaly” closes 'Voz' in a grandiose din of ethereal melody and glorious devastation."