CV & JAB is Christina Vantzou and John Also Bennett, two artists that might already be familiar to many of you from their individual work over the years for the Kranky and Spectrum Spools labels. Together they have made this slowly engrossing album for Shelter Press - who else - perhaps one of the most elusive, uncanny and multi-layered “Ambient” albums we’ve heard in what feels like a long time, a worthy follow-up to a frankly astonishing sequence of releases on the label that started with Felicia Atkinson’s modern classic 'Hand In Hand'. If you’re into anything from Chris Watson’s field recordings to Vangelis and Badalamenti at their most romantic and evocative, or even Boards of Canada’s early forays into wildlife documentary pastiche, this one will sooth your mind like nothing else.
The album is a musical interpretation of Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface, a 90m panoramic wall drawing by Zin Taylor (a reproduction of which is included as a fold-out poster that comes with the vinyl edition). Through 10 tracks they render beautiful electro-acoustic meditations on the passage of time, which follows-on from their co-work on Vantzou's No. 3 album.
Vantzou brings a wealth of experience working between auditory and visual mediums to John Also Bennett’s synthesized and acoustic sound sensitivities, which have recently applied to his action in the Forma trio and a compilation of Pauline Anna Strom’s amazing Trans-Millenia Music for RVNG Intl, with a purposefully slow and immersive flow of acoustic piano and flute wrapped up in remarkably plasmic, spatially detailed synth contours.
In 10 parts, through a combination of literal track titles and abstracted allegorical inference, they describe the movement and feelings evinced by Zin Taylor’s massive tableaux, variously transposing his imagery of Cactus with Vent into webs of crystalline harmonics that acquiesce to brownian motion, or, as with the transition of Alfred Hitchcock Haze to Rock House With Door, a vividly synaesthetic transcription of figurative drawing to brooding, doomily Lynchian sound that brings to mind a wealth of captivatingly dank and alien imagery.
The vinyl package includes a miniaturised print of Zin Taylor’s Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface to peruse while you listen, so that you, like Christina and Bennett, can also make your own interpretation, and see how far their sonic translation differs with your own. Or then again, you could ignore it entirely and let yourself drift inside their free-formed dimensions without the cues. Either way, you’re in for a beautiful, open-ended and unpredictable trip.
DJ Nobu meets Kouhei Matsunaga (NHK) on their début batch of techno trax as MTv for The Trilogy Tapes.
Their Hollywood #1 EP broadly falls in two categories: firstly working with hyaline timbres and slow, dull thuds in Snow Ball, and then with a viscous EBM momentum powered by tangy synth liens in Smooth Motion.
On the other hand you have two uptempo workouts; the tentative 127bpm stepper Smart Ball, and a squeaky bum jacker called Look Back Motion, where they jointly put some proper, jacked-up techno back into it.
Martyn Bootyspoon flounces into the dance with a crackshot début EP cubing the roots of Chi-house, Ballroom and grimy, FWD electronics for the leading lights at Fractal Fantasy. Following his 'Don’t' hook-up with Zora Jones on the Visceral Minds 2 comp, Bootyspoon’s fully fledged solo flight is a lusting future funk session steeped in club hedonism and destined for widespread dancefloor damage.
Perfectly tessellating with the Fractal fam’s sound, Bootyspoon toggles a killer blend of properly upfront styles and techniques with a feel for more classic styles that adds something retro yet fresh and soulful to the label.
Silk Eternity is riddled crafty rhythm programming and virulent vocaloids that set the EP apart from his field at every turn. Whether retrofitting c*nty ballroom with classic Chicago drum machines and wickedly bitchy vox on Spread That Kat; going hard for instrumental Jersey and B-More pressure in Steam and The Grid; or perfectly serving the rave what it needs thru the spaced out dimensions of Helicoptah Dance - “sh*t is tantric, maximum lust!” - or flipping classic ‘90s dancepop samples into a head-spinning blend of Viennese keys, Senni-esque Arps and slathering trills on Ease U - Bootyspoon’s music is set to make a big impression everywhere.
Neo-classical maestro Keith Kenniff (Helios, Sono) rings in his first new album in three years with Cricle, a warbling streak of solo piano keys swaddled in iridescent strings, sounding out a hazily submerged and nostalgic feeling.
Prolific electro producer Roel Dijcks a.k.a. Ekman stretches out on stealthy search ’n destroy manoeuvres for Shipwrec in his sophomore album
Primus Motor gives Ekamn room to explore a broader range of vibes than his 12”s, giving closer attention to minimalist pressure systems with the likes of his i-F-esque Polymath8 and the slippery acid tone of Mills Constant, along with more evocative, spaced-out and melodic feels e To The Pi i, and the ruggedly bittersweet Goldbach Number, saving his sharpest dancefloor moves for the pendulous Riemann Zeta Function.
Sounds like these guys share a dealer with Salem, Black Zone Myth Chant, and HTRK…
“Hailing out of Austin, abstract pop duo LACHANE makes an exquisite Holodeck debut with their self-titled cassette out 02/09/18. LACHANE's unique use of industrial trap beats and chopped & screwed vocals offers a fresh take on contemporary electronic music. Lead by producer and singer Melissa Cha, LACHANE rejects all things upbeat in favor of drudging, half-time rhythms and slowly melting synth and guitar tones. LACHANE's songwriting embraces hopelessness as a method of expressing beauty and has found a compelling union of ominous mood and dense texture.
LACHANE formed in 2015 out of Austin’s deep synth community when Cha bonded with guitarist Ryan Garl over their backgrounds in ambient music and mutual love for rap. As a result, booming sub-bass, blown out snares and bursts of hi hat triplets are the hallmark of almost every song. Cha approaches vocals like a multifaceted instrument by stacking layers of re-pitched samples and ghostly whispers underneath her live singing. Cha’s elegant voice is instantly soothing, grounding LACHANE's compositions while allowing the instrumentation freedom to mutate and decay. Garl’s bleak guitar work blends perfectly with the complex arrangements of percussion and sequenced analog synth melodies. Every element of LACHANE's new self-titled debut has been carefully crafted or destroyed to compile an engaging collection of heavy and inspiring pieces.
Songs like “Fandeath” and the first single “Ideal-I” are cathartic ballads that are tenaciously catchy despite their mournful overtones. LACHANE's dark palette brings richness out of minimalism by utilizing a thick array of treatments and processing. The gnarled samples and sound effects on “Yellow Dust” and “Cramp” construct vast and brooding soundscapes that are deliberately creepy yet undeniably alluring.
There is an undercurrent of creative brilliance throughout all eight tracks of LACHANE's haunting self-titled debut. Their raw and original style makes them a standout addition to the Holodeck roster.”
For the last while, Greg Dalton (aka Gary War) has been back in Massachusetts, after spending years working on his music down in twin Isles of Kiwi. Since returning he has popped up in the amazing psych duo, Dalthom (along with Sunburned's Rob Thomas), and even played with the legendary Bobb Trimble on a live Burger cassette, but Gaz Forth is the first new Gary War LP in over five years.
"Recorded with long-time collaborator, Daniel Rineer, as well as Robert Cathart III (Pigeons), Jeremy Pisani (Red Favorite), Kris Thompson (Abunai, Trimble), Clementine Nixon (Purple Pilgrims) and John Moloney (Sunburned), Gaz Forth hearkens back to some of the left-field pop amalgamations Mr. War had a hand in when he worked with Ariel Pink back in the early Oughts. Synths ripple at the edge of everything like space pistols fired into the face of Giorgio Moroder, there's the kind of mellotron/harmony-vocal blend one associates with Deram-era Moodies, the guitars blast out bubble-psych-readymades like runaway teenagers with scrips for Ketamine, and a bunch of the tunes remind me of what Golden Earring might sound like if heard from a great distance while riding one of those Whirling Teacup thingamabobs at full carny speed.
There's much less of a hypnagogic synth-pop approximation on Gaz than has been noted on earlier Gary War records, but the futurist space squeedle remains part of his bad-ass and trademarked sound. Certainly the presence of living (rather than robotic) drummers gives Gaz a very different pulse. As zoned as the music gets at times, there's no mistaking its rockist base, so you start thinking of its brunt in terms of subliminal glam and spacer types rather than off-gas from sad Midwesterners. Gaz is far and away the finest slab yet released by Gary War. High bore post-garage freakery of the largest available gauge. Pick up your shotgun and walk." --Byron Coley, 2017”
France’s M.A Beat! transform Laraaji’s Ocean Flow Zither into a multi-segmented complex of combustible shoegaze distortion, psychedelic electronics and strobing post techno flows. Imagine The Field clashing Black Zone Myth Chant.
"All Saints Records presents another remix from Laraaji’s most recent album ‘Bring On The Sun’, this time courtesy of french electronic trio M.A Beat! who have remixed ‘Ocean Flow Zither’. Having previously been given the remix treatment by LA based spiritual beat-maker ‘Ras G’, pioneers of the Nautilogical Cosmos ‘Seahawks’, and self proclaimed ‘blissmaker’ and co-founder of Leaving Records ‘Matthewdavid’, Laraaji’s influence is clearly far reaching, and inspires varied interpretations. In this remix, M.A Beat! highlight their favourite of Laraaji’s instruments, the zither, and add their usual setup of jazz drums, MPC, vintage synthesizers and sequencers. The group previously collaborated with Laraaji on the song ‘Brain Off’, from their recently released album ‘Sans Soleil’, and the musical connection between artists is evident, resulting in a work which honours the variety of musical worlds from which the artists draw influence.”
Dario Zenker works right at the biting point for Marcel Dettmann’s label with a handful of forceful, greyscale techno grinders in his #.4.26. cyberpunk mode.
All five tracks work to nervy, brittle or unsteady structures with special attention given to their shadowy tone, resulting murky highlights in the dry white noise sculpture of Mono Middle and with a secuctively melancholic appeal to Whenever Voi, while Free Upload goes for the 4/4 jugular, Van Cul rides razored hi-hats and undulating subs, and Past Vibration regresses to warped and stained memories of Vangelis-style sci-fi synths.
Florian Kupfer tends to contrasting shades of his sound with rugged, deeply gratifying style on L.I.E.S. 99.
Up top he unfurls the gorgeous sail of Contact, with billowing keys and martian synth harmonies dashed against bumpy kicks in a way that will turn 5am heads inside-up. On the other hand, Random Chaos finds him biting down on a tuffer, trackier groove laced with virulent arpeggio and glancing metallic percussion, before the cascading power drums of Z find their feet in a kind of keening, turbulent roil, made even more tense by its clenched drones.
Yowzers! Tokyo’s High Rise take the bleeding skin off it on reissue of their eponymous 2nd release, a truly blinding suite of turbo-charged psych shredding and diesel spitting bass revs first issued as the 2nd release on Japan’s pivotal P.S.F. Records back in 1986. Perhaps understandably, original copies of High Rise II now trade for the price of a small 3rd hand Japanese hatchback.
It’s an absolute fxcking riot, basically. From the first tinnitus-inducing blast of Cycle Goddess thru the lurching swagger of Pop Sicle these guys sound possessed. Whether that’s by good, strong acid or just a insatiable rock urge, we’re not sure, but their incendiary results will apply to fried heads and those in need of a sharp shock to the system all the same.
Cuts like Turn You Cry sounds like they were recorded at a ‘phet and whiskey-soaked lock in at Lemmy’s, and Cotton Top is the sort of tune they’d have to play behind chicken wire at a Hell’s Angels bar where the spirits are spiked with mescaline.
Take drugs. Listen to this. Have the time of your life.
Parrish Smith has quietly been making a name for himself over these last years with releases on Knekelhuis and Contort Yourself as well as with his projects Volition Immanent and Sige Bythos.
"We see him appear on L.I.E.S. in a strong fashion through four varied dense tracks. From slowbeat EBM to Belgium klang to classic Den Hague crushers this ep forges its own path taking these cues and putting Smith's unqiue spin on them. Heavy yet still possessing groove and hypnotic rhythm, damage will ensue if used correctly. Fresh stuff from this up and coming talent."
Max McFerren packs more bounce to the ounce in Complete Walkthru mode for his eponymous label
Rolling out a hefty, haughty house sound to spin your bones with the pendulous pressure of One On All Times, the wide-ass swagger of What Of Manner Of Club?, a super powerful jacker named Rolex, and the murky dub house flexer She’s Good At That.
Serious club tackle.
A long time in the making – Quare Groove Vol. 1 – Sounds of the Irish musical underground from the 70s & 80s..
"Stating it softly..... Irish music of the 1970's was simply not synonymous with groove music in any way. Avid music aficionado's were totally 'rockist' then (to use an old tag from the same time!) That thread tends to follow with record collecting of vintage Irish music of that time, down to this day. We'll throw a little change into that narrative here - the groove is very rare, and not a little quare! We've looked at the entire recorded music picture of what happened here on this little island into the 1980's, and we're bringing back this -----
We can't tell you that this music comes from a strange place - it comes from a steadily steep and VERY strange place! A small place that was not a little conflicted societally and politically back then - and in every way too, public and private. However it was also a time of great change. Living through it seemed like a rite of passage that moved off from some manner of dark age, and then over forward into a brighter light. Modernity beckoned, and not just with the technology!
So what can you hear here? It's no coincidence that this music also makes a similar coming of age. Recording techniques were wholly embraced here, in this era. Late 1970's Irish music saw sound engineering and music production artistry advance from previous, and in a very big way. As studio's moved away from simple and straight audio captures, the music really benefitted. So what can you hear here? We're bringing you two sides of this story on two big black twelve inch slates. The first slate has an abundantly sweet clubbier sound of past-funk groove music. The second slate gives you an edgier angle of what the post-punkers got up to, after they too got their hands on the same danceflooring. This is really but only the beginning: There's so much more to come!"
Add one feral vocalist to salty rhythmic noise by a L.I.E.S. rogue, engineered by a Hospital Productions don, and you get Wetware. File next to: Factory Floor, Alberich, Group A
“New York City has had a long history of dance music fused with confrontational performance. Whether it came from within the late 70’s No Wave canon projected through venues like the Mudd Club or the downtown avant-garde galleries such as The Kitchen, the feeling that influences and infects Brooklyn-based duo Wetware’s overall being as a cohesive and confrontational unit is as much enigmatic as it is familiar.
Formed in 2015, Wetware eased into its performative role with their live shows around their home base of Brooklyn, NY. Vocalist Roxy Farman, whose familiar voice was last heard on Drew McDowall’s “Unnatural Channel” album, stole audience’s attention immediately, using her body in tandem with her voice as a weaponized vehicle for the band’s anxiety filled performance. Matthew Morandi cut his teeth in the electronic music world through his solo tech-industrial project Jahiliyya Fields and partner to Inhalants, the techno collaboration of Morandi and Max Ravitz (Patricia). The synergy that’s developed between Farman and Morandi has been explosive. Wetware’s live antics and behavior has caused alarm amongst their local audiences, making Wetware the group to “not be missed” on any particular bill that they are allowed to take part in.
Wetware stepped out from their live persona and self-recorded a selection of songs that viewers had grown accustomed to and were debuted on the flawlessly curated Primitive Languages imprint. Shortly following their recorded premier was an EP collection of demo recordings on the much praised Bank NYC label. Once the band reconciled with documenting their work, they set out, with the help of engineer Kris Lapke (Alberich / Hospital Productions) to formalize their most recent output in the context of their first full length album entitled “Automatic Drawing”.
Given Wetware’s penchant for endurance, as displayed by their 3 hour long production at Koenig & Clinton Gallery in NYC in the Summer of 2017, one would expect the usual restlessness on Wetware’s debut full length. All of the apprehension and unease in Wetware seems to have been channeled into a string of cohesive electronic statements found on songs “Frequent Dreamlands” and “Ode to Joe”. Industrial dance rhythms bounce around Farman’s poetic stance on “Where Ever You Were”, causing flashbacks of an early 80’s dystopia that jumps around a confusing, uncomfortable backdrop. Interspliced with modular electronic instrumentals like the album’s opener “Pantomime”, Wetware’s devastating portrait is that of a society in peril.”
John Tejada returns to Kompakt with his thirteenth full-length, 'Dead Start Program' - an eleven-track journey spanning a prismatic array of styles and patterns, from John's signature soulful techno tunes to the further mazy, hypnotic motifs of his trancey electro hybrids.
"Be it solo or through a host of multifaceted collaborations, Tejada keeps himself busy on all fronts in and off the club environment, be it by contributing the 44th number in Fabric's seminal mix series, playing drums for Detroit legend Daniel Bell (as DBX),testing the limits of acid with Tin Man or joining forces with the hilarious self-proclaimed "disinformationist" Reggie Watts as Wajatta.
Since his beginnings and the drop of his debut 12", 'Waxing', released through his own label Palette Recordings over twenty years ago, John has been carving out a lane of his own - combining and assembling elements from all ends of his wide-spanning spectrum of reference in a way that allows a more direct transition from the realm of the mind to the circuits of the machine, as confirmed by the deliberately limited studio setup used in the making of the present album.
Navigating across the lines, from the arrhythmic machine spook of the album's opener 'Autoseek' via the straight out thumping and jacking pulse of 'Hypochondriac' and heavy-lidded breakbeat of 'Sleep Spindle' onto the kosmische-infused vibrations of 'Telemetry', vibrant slo-mo inertia of 'Loss' and wistful club-ready winds of 'Duty Cycle' and 'Heal', John threads his way through genres and tempos with optimal chameleonic effect.
Cloaked in a beautiful sleeve art courtesy of John's long time friend Juan Mendez aka Silent Servant - another key contributor to the Los Angeles scene worldwide, based upon a picture by Mark Richards, 'Dead Start Program' draws its title from the analog start up program used to boot an old CDC 6600 computer from a dead start and which metaphorically invites in John's own words to figure a "reboot from the challenges life throws at you".
Terekke takes L.I.E.S. over the line with his sublime debut LP, Plant Age - the label 100th release. If you’ve been wowed by his handful of Terekke 12”s to date, take it on trust that this one’s his best so far. For everyone else, this is some of the loveliest, fugged-out deep house you’ll hear all year.
In the mould of his much loved singles, Plant Age finds the Amsterdam-based producer lushing out in eight ways, all linked by the classic spirits of deep, ambient and dub-house styles. It’s surely an analogue bubblebath for the soul - the kind of careful, caressing music to put on at any time of the day to ease your worries.
With xanax-like efficacy, he conducts a deeply anaesthetising drift from the watercoloured chords and elusive, Sprinkles-like bass on Tack thru cotton-built deep house in BB2 and delicicious, barely-there ambient structures in Swim, then sending gentle shockwaves thru the smoke with his doubles stepper Mix91, before pushing off into purely opiated 4th world zones in JQM, and kissing off with the aqueous smudge of Closer.
Sub Rosa’s vital Early Electronic Series yields a fascinating and unprecedented collection of Indonesian Electronic Music 1979-1992 with the 1st survey of work by Otto Sidharta; a graduate of music composition at Jakarta Institute of Arts, electronic music composition at Sweelinck Conservatorium Amsterdam, and recently a doctorate from Institute Seni Indonesia Surakarta.
A pioneering figure within Indonesian Electronic Music since his début composition Ngendau , Sidharta has operated amid a small network of prism pushers in relative seclusion from the power centres of electronic music for nigh on 40 years. Since the start of his oeuvre, Sidharta’s work has been concerned with environmental sounds, integrating natural and electronic sources in a way that could be said to reflect the sound ecology of his home land as much as his personal imagination.
As the first collection to reveal Sidharta’s work beyond his home country, this set serves an increasingly rare encounter by revealing a hitherto un or little-known, yet fully formed and genuinely new, perspective on electronic music ranging from deliquescent gong works to dense blocks of gamelan abstraction, computerised chimes and totally unearthly oddities.
Make no mistake though, this isn’t some sort of Hassell-esque 4th world simulation or recreation of traditional music with plugged-in means. Rather, it’s better regarded as a fine mix of academic rigour and methodical electronic music techniques realised at the service of romantic, esoteric notions of space and place; vividly conveying sensations of heat, psychedelia, violence - both natural and political - with an imwersively dreamlike effect from both within and post Soeharto’s brutal dictatorship.
Simply, if 4th world music is too fluffy for ya, but you like its Eastern-oriented ideas of new tunings, rhythms, imaginary spaces, this one is strongly recommended, especially to fans of Coil, Rashad Becker, Gottfried Michael Koenig, Pauline Oliveros.