Epic, brilliantly curated two hour collection of new and exclusive material celebrating iDEAL Recordings' (1998-2018) 20th anniversary featuring JASSS, Stephen O’Malley, Jim O’Rourke (an epic 17 minute trance-enducer - honestly worthy of its own LP), Ectoplasm Girls, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Prurient, Puce Mary and many others...
We always say this - we hate comps - they’re almost always shite - but this one’s a bit of a mindmelter, featuring 20 new and exclusive tracks commissioned by label bossman Joachim Nordwall to celebrate the occasion of his label’s 20th anniversary, almost 1 track per year of going against the grain. Trust when we say that Nordwall's selection skills and sprawling network of interconnected artists has yielded a frankly ridiculous tracklisting, including a 17+ minute steamroom special from Jim O’Rourke, a pulsing electroacoustic killer from Stephen O’Malley, a rare new hookup between Prurient and Carlos Giffoni, brand new ambient/field recording peach from JASSS, an amazing fizzing drone tribute to Folke Rabe by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, plus Puce Mary and Jesse Sanes aka JH1.FS3 on fine fine form, and just too many others to mention - over two hours of exceptional music.
The story of iDEAL starts out in London 1998, when Nordwall was living the hardscrabble life: working in an underwear shop near Liverpool Street station; living in a filthy Bayswater apartment; scoring industrial records from the Music and Video Exchange; getting drunk in cheap pubs, and dreaming of starting a new record label and platform. He called it iDEAL, and 180 releases, 20 years later, it has become an invaluable node for non-standard, wayward expressions of modern electronic noise in all its mutable variation.
iDEAL’s success and longevity may well be down to the way that Nordwall treated it as a social and artistic home, offering a place where mutually exclusive styles could bed down away from the mainstream or the genre police, and feed into a much larger, work-in-progress definition of fringe music. ‘The Black Book’ extends, in the spirit of the label, an idealised compilation of disparate possibilities connected by a sense of musical mystery and chaotic energy.
"Twenty. Not sure if its worth celebrating, or mourning. Anyways, we decided to compile an album filled with artists we are very close to, others we admire deeply and a few we feel connected to in different ways. THE BLACK BOOK is indeed a celebration, of musical mysteries, energies and connections. Three LPs, six sides of music.”
Long live iDEAL!
Diagonal cough up another madness from Handy, jumping off from his bendy-ass ‘Smacker EP’ to test out slower, faster, and wilder styles on the ‘Mature Single Despots EP’
Effectively the Stretch Armstrong-like offspring of Cylob and EVOL, Handy is a pretty mad prospect, as proved across these four cuts, from the squirming electro-funk scrawl of ‘Pull Daddy’s Finger’, to the hyper kuduro-esque styles of ‘Crossword Bitch’, the jump-up daftness of ‘Toothless Sucker’, and the pinched rave pulse of the title cut.
Brilliant electro jazz and post-punk clash from Lol Coxhill and some of Manchester’s most crucial innovators, recorded in 1979. Worth it for the psychotomimetic sequencer scrawl and deadpan vocals of ‘Relentless’ alone!
Documenting the unlikely coupling of British free jazz bastion Lol Coxhill and the sarcy synth pop don’t-wannabes known as Gerry And The Holograms this rare incognito full-length album bridges the micro-niches of electronic jazz and punk jazz from a band formed in 1979 at an axis where DIY and new wave hadn’t quite collided! With sprinklings of post-punk female vocals worthy of PragVEC and Suburban Lawns, featuring angular art rock paeans to voodoo dolls and closed-circuit TV, this privately pressed LP comes directly from the man who gave Martin Hannett some of his best ideas and wrote the “Blue”print for Manchester’s new musical order.
Imagine if Talking Heads became Mark E Smith’s backing band for a week before being sacked for wearing a Frank Zappa t-shirt while Eric Dolphy forgot to take his headphones off… If that sounds up your street, then you should be paying double. A genuine lost moment from the post-punk era with progressive pop credentials from the university of Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias before everyone got a job at the local Factory. Why are you the only person who doesn’t know about this?
Beacon’s third full-length
"Returning home to New York in 2016, four years and several tours since the duo's ﬁrst release with Ghostly International, Thomas Mullarney III and Jacob Gossett knew the next direction would be different. Together they embarked on open-ended sessions, adopting a more linear style of songwriting compared to their previous loop and texture-driven method. They fundamentally constructed demos from piano chords and guitar phrases with vocal melodies, editing iterations almost ad inﬁnitum, looking through each from a multitude of angles. Compositions expanded, while others pared back to where they began. Like the bending of light, this abstractive and patient process outlines a space and scale in which seemingly separate colors — minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals, and four-on-the-ﬂoor dance sequences — can coexist at different speeds, fanning out with spectral cohesion. A prismatic collection Beacon call Gravity Pairs.
“All matter is created by dividing gravity into pairs,” said 20th-century scientific-mystic Walter Russell, whose idiosyncratic “new world-thought” writings and musically-informed schematic drawings were as fringe in their time as they are fascinating. Mullarney details the concept further: "’Gravity Pairs’ is how Walter Russell describes the rhythmic order of the universe. I kept reading 'pairs' as both a noun and verb; simultaneously the elemental units of Russell’s balanced universe and the process that brings us together." This curiosity of natural phenomena shines through the album’s kaleidoscopic artwork — dichroic glass prisms photographed by the band themselves — and its lyrics, most directly through the narrative device of light."
Party-time at DBA with General Ludd, Herva, Nene H and Altered Natives
Glasgow’s Ludd goes in with crooked, sputtering electro on ‘Owl; Italy’s Herva percolates ruff drum machines and blunted vox in ‘Constructive Pessimism’; Berlin/Istanbul’s Nene H works put he strident techno of ‘гетто’; and UKF hero Altered Natives cuts loose with gnashing breaks, hyperkinetic synth leads and turbulent bass in ‘Dancing Girl’.
‘Thresholder’ is another magisterial offering from Ian William Craig on FatCat’s 130701 sub-label, leading on from the ‘Centres’  album and a pair of 2017 singles with the Canadian artist’s signature sense of tempered ecstasy.
Now established as a significant figure in the cross-over fields between modern classical, ambient, and the avant-garde, Craig’s music speaks to the spaces between matter, and the gulf between waking and dreaming life, so we could hardly imagine a more apt title than ‘Thresholder’ for this, his most captivating and perhaps definitive album since he emerged as an elemental force in 2012 with ‘Cloudmarks’.
Most strikingly, ‘Thresholder’ shares an uncanny amount in common with the processed classical arrangements, rough grained textures and disjointed timelines of Akira Rabelais’ ‘eisoptrophobia’. But, where Rabelais’ music is fascinated with finding the new in old music, Craig makes new music sound timelessly old and out of place through his own, patented application of FX and field recordings onto original instrumentation.
With ‘Thresholder’ he pushes this aesthetic to a logical new extent to realise some of his most extreme, beautiful recordings to date. Operating right on the liminal biting point, he brings our hairs stand on end across 10 poignant pieces that make central use of wandering, operatic vocals that flicker like marbled beacons diffused into the dense, rolling haar of his arrangements. One will struggle more than ever to pick out individual tones from his smudged masses, but that’s maybe the point, to induce the listener to perceive his music from the middle distance, rather than focussed in or zoomed out.
In effect he subliminally encourages the listener to totally inhabit his ecologies of mulched flora and inclement conditions, allowing his uniquely stressed, warbling, surreal world to gloriously paint itself in mud, leaves, branches and drizzle on the back of your eyelids.
Colin Self’s joyously diverse and fiercely singular debut LP ‘Siblings’ takes its place among the year’s most thrilling introductions for fans of Arca, SOPHIE, Autre Ne Veut, Björk, Amnesia Scanner, or Panda Bear...
Both advance cuts, ‘Emblem’ and ‘Stay With The Trouble (For Donna)’ appear on ‘Siblings’ lodged amid a remarkable sequence that simultaneously unravel and entangle Self’s decadent, queered and singular definition of dance-pop and operatic soul. Totally in key with the times, it’s everything at once and then some, but somehow manages to keep its head in spite of its density of information.
“Colin Self’s Siblings is a proposal for interdependence, critical joy, and an expansive sense of being. As the lyrics beam, “I used to live as an anomaly... no explanation biologically,” so siblings share hidden language, lore, and identity. On Siblings, ecstatic voices and sound knot to form new ideals of kinship, emerging as horizontal relations for multi-species flourishing.
Colin Self challenges boundaries of perception with his art, music, and performances. Inspired by the work of Donna Haraway (Cyborg Manifesto, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene), Siblings is the final segment of the six-part opera series entitled Elation. Informed by Self’s exploration of the ways of knowing, Siblings places a non-biological family at its center. The characters, bonded by curiosity and caring, generate ways of collectively coming together on a damaged planet. Self uses Siblings to define this familial experience through sound and its soundmakers.
On “Story,” Siblings’ opening moment, breath and beats emerge as echoes within a vast, heaving chamber, sound conjured and cajoled into a new, blistered terrain. “Foresight” urges us toward a worlding - a break from the planet we’ve disregarded: “I see on my screen all the doubt, where it comes from, why you trust in no one. I see a new light.” While the unhinged form of “Ante-Strategy” lays the sonic compost for a Belurusian political poem, written with Tanya Zamirouskaya and Anastasia Kolas, Self tends toward elaboration and excesses in a “joyous rendering of survival.”
Siblings splits sides with “Transitions,” a pluri-vocal burst called forth from interstellar margins to put uncounted bodies in motion. Repetitions of “I commit to you” end with “We commit to you.” Self utilizes theoretical vocabulary to encourage germination of a new language. “Research Sisters” will make their own myths and forge their own families, the work’s fire sparking frenetic, ecstatic voices flashing back and forth in stereo. The gathering of choral voices lift up the melancholic words of “The Great Refusal” over pillowy layers of strings and stumbling, sputtering showers of keyboards.”
30 year anniversary reissue of this mad battery of percussion, including guess player Z’ev (R.I.P.). Fans of everything from early electronics and concrète to real deal Indonesian gamelan and 23 Skidoo should lend their ears…
“Since 1983, Bow Gamelan Ensemble have inspired generations of artists with their radical practices and explosive performances. Charged with their individual virtuosity in performance art, avant-garde music and kinetic sculpture, their sound installations and performances are immersed in an orchestra of instruments made from scrap metal, electric motors, river barges and domestic objects including glass sheets, light bulbs and fireworks. A dissonance between 'noise' and 'meaningful utterance’ that will astonish the ears and ravish the imagination with unearthly magic.
Guests: Z'EV, Nicola Kate Heys, Thames Steam Launch Co., Eel Pie Marine.”
Shady UK bass/techno aces from Gramrcy and Gaunt, dividing duties equally for the yung Glass Talk Records.
Following heavy rotation with the likes of Ben UFO, Shanti Celeste, and Object Blue, the EP finally comes to us proles on the ‘floor, with Gaunt providing a big highlight in the skittish swerve and unexpectedly buckling dynamics of ’Neeueee’, and Gramrcy doing the same with the bolshy tribal swagger of ‘Off Beam’. The others are good, too: Gramrcy’s teasingly paced ‘Settlement’ is a strong look for opening sets; and Gaunt’s ‘Burnt Toast’ is funked up like one of Artworks tribalist Grain aces.
Romantical reggaeton strokes with aching vox and strong traces of R&B, dancehall, trap and perreo. Make sure to check ‘Alibi’ featuring Catnapp for some prime vibes compatible with Arca or Lotic
““Vs” is Defensa’s first album alongside acclaimed cult label NAAFI. Throughout the album elements of dancehall, R&B, Trap, Perreo and reggaeton combine with the tight-knit production and vocal harmony that is the argentinian duo’s recognizable staple. The lyrics switch fluidly between Castellano and English, and touch themes of coming of age, breakups, comradery, and the new-found anxiety that comes with leaving everything behind to follow a dream. The duo teamed up with long time friend Catnapp who lent her cool flow on Alibi and tapped producers Ynfynyt Scroll and blastah for the instrumentals for the tracks Rookie and Mañana. To round the record off the final mix was handled by NEUEN, the engineers behind the sound of argentina's most acclaimed new trap artistis Duki and YSY A.”