Four pieces for flute and voice composed between 1985-2018 by Mary Jane Leach, a pivotal part of NYC’s pioneering avant-garde community since the 1970s and an active member of the legendary DownTown Ensemble, working alongside peers including Arthur Russell, Ellen Fullman, Peter Zummo, Philip Corner and Arnold Dreyblatt, as well as devoting years to the preservation of Julius Eastman’s legacy since his death in 1990. Mary Jane's vinyl debut 'Pipe Dreams' arrived last year via the Blume imprint and completely blew us away, and '(f)lute songs’ is only her second vinyl release in over five decades, feeding and expanding our obsession with her work.
In the late 1970’s Mary Jane Leach was triggered by an interview she heard with Steve Reich in which he implored artists to figure out ways of becoming more self sufficient when it came to performance rather than relying on traditional group structures. At the time Leach had already began to experiment with recordings she had made of herself performing long sustained tones made on instruments she could play; mostly voice and bass clarinet, and gradually became fascinated by the sound phenomena resulting from layering tones on her multi-track tape machine. Reich’s thoughts, however, made Leach realise that she didn't have to restrict herself to instruments she could play and, in an indirect way, were the foundation for this album.
Trio for Duo (1985), was Mary Jane's first attempt at creating work for instruments she couldn't play; revolving around alto flute and voice. She explains "I had noticed that my voice matched the sound of the bottom fifth of the alto flute, and so the voice in this piece is sung to sound as much like an alto flute as possible. There are four parts, but only three play at the same time, one part passing off its last note to the next entering part, weaving a tapestry of matching and contrasting timbres. By using glissandos, more “extra-notated” sounds are created than appear on the page. I originally conceived of it with each part coming from four separate speakers placed in the four corners of a hall, but I realised that it sounds best on tape with a stereo mix.” The result is an incredible, highly engrossing study in phasing, the voice sung to sound as much like an alto flute as possible to the the extent that it becomes almost impossible to discern which parts are which.
Bruckstück (1989) was originally written for eight sopranos, but is played on flutes on this recording - using the same pitches, but sounding very different. It was commissioned by the Kulturamt in Köln to coincide with the opening of an exhibition of paintings by Jack Ox that were organised using an analysis of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony. Mary Jane explains "The lowest parts (relatively speaking) represent the string section, using the same basic rhythm as Bruckner’s to set up the tonality throughout the piece. The rest of the voices represent the wind instruments. The piece is polyphonic, with a lot of closely resolving intervals - primarily major and minor seconds. Rather than writing linear melodies for one voice, I wrote melodies that are passed from one voice to another.” Dowland’s Tears (2011) was written for for nine flutes, thinking of it as a recording project and not a concert piece (it now has a “solo” tenth part added), while Semper Dolens (2018) is for solo and six taped flutes, with sustained harmony and dissonance in mind.
These recordings feature noted Roman flutist Manuel Zurria, who has worked with some of the most important composers around the world. In 1990 he founded Alter Ego, a leading group for contemporary music in Italy. Numerous composers have written pieces for him, and he has expanded the repertoire even further by re-orchestrating compositions into pieces for multiple flutes, as heard on almost forty albums.
If you're interested in sound phenomena or just looking for some of the most beautiful, avant garde music you'll hear this year; we reckon (f)lute songs is a bit of a masterpiece.
Co-produced with Robert Witschakowski of The Exaltics, and continuing her collaboration with guitarist Chris Lockington (as heard on Drei and Dva).
"Given its years of manifestation behind the scenes of other projects, Falling In Love With Sadness reflects a renewed understanding of Emika’s own genealogy, kindred lineage and its connection to modernity. Marking a drastic departure from the menacing, stripped-down qualities of albums past, Dva and Drei, Emika has surfaced with a new upwelling of sound gracing the bittersweet, melancholic and sanguine.
With the interplay of myriad genres both rhythmically and melodically intertwining between spacey, dub tinged Promises, lush synth pop hooks on Escape and the title track's soulful electro, a full spectrum of musicology remains primary to the ever-evolving chroma of Emika’s umbrous sound.
Further characterised by the breathy sibilance and sultry tones of Emika’s noirish, vocal aesthetic, the album navigates through the morose and trappings of misanthropy by illuminating a narrative of emotional resilience and recovery."
Another sterling collection of Parmegiani’s “lost tapes” spanning 1966-1990, ‘Mémoire Magnétique Vol.1’ circles 17 poetic and versatile works from the legendary GRM and ORTF artist/technician’s sidelines into work for TV, film and theatre choreography, expanding the themes of his recent ‘Rock (Bande Original Du Film)’ and ‘La Soleils’ reissues
Whilst deeply appreciated for his pioneering efforts in shaping electro-acoustic music at the GRM (with best results found in his priceless ‘L'Œuvre Musicale En 12 CD’ set), Parmegiani first cut his teeth at ORTF, France’s national broadcaster, and also wrote a lot of sound for theatre and contemporary dance choreography.
‘Mémoire Magnétique Vol.1’ offers a vital bridge between Parmegiani’s more academic, concert-based works for the Acousmonium system at GRM, and his artistic/commercial endeavours, documenting a body of work where his razor sharp skill in editing and illusive spatialization meet more melodic gestures and brilliantly proto-technoid rhythms.
There were clear hints of this style in the ‘Bande…’ OST, but they most captivatingly come to the fore in this follow-up, most notably on the pulsating brilliance of ‘Versailles… Peut-Être II’ , one of the sharpest pre-echoes of the ‘80s we’ve ever heard, along with the inimitable clarity of his pranging percussion and highly visual editing on ‘Image De Marque I+II’, and the Black MIDI-esque spirals of La Guerre Des Insectes I’ , for example.
‘Electrucs’ is a previously unpublished LP of works by former INA-GRM chief François Bayle, recorded 1974-1995, and now finally issued on the 60th anniversary of the world-renowned facility he managed between 1966-1997.
Comprising four distinct sections of acousmatic study ranging from playful AKS Synthi “hand games” to the blooming ‘Rosaces’, a test-piece for the Acousmonium, and a dedication to his peer, Bernard Parmegiani; ‘Electrucs’ follows Recollection GRM’s series of Bayle reissues to offer a diverse and spellbinding survey of his pioneering work spanning the past half century.
The A-side is taken by 10 oozing, viscously shapeshifting ‘Electrucs’ that give the LP its title, rendering a series of highly dynamic pieces made on the Synthi AKS between 1974-2018, and veering from chaotic polymetrics to pulsating, almost melodic vignettes, and many moments of tense, atonal abstraction that wouldn’t sound out of place on a good hour or thriller soundtrack.
The other side breaks down to three distinct sections. ‘Cinq dessins en rosace’  is a five part study of increasingly complex geometries, transiting from sharp, simple oscillations to filigree, spatialized arrangements of electronics and keys. ‘Foliphonie’ [1974-2011] follows with a beautifully alien scene of chirruping voices and whirled woodwind originally hatched for use on the GRM’s Acousmonium speaker/diffusion system, and ’Marpège’ [1995-2007] finds him dissolving a trace of Bernard Parmegiani’s ‘Sonare’ into sonic delirium.
Raw yet sophisticated deep house, acid and electro clearly schooled in the classics, from Glasgow’s Stephen Lopkin
Continuing a run of Gaelic-located or themed titles for M>O>S, Clyde Built is perhaps the definitive batch of Lopkin's emotive and puristic style following ‘The Haggis Trap’  and ‘Meall a’ Bhùiridh’ .
Nodding to Glasgow’s heritage as the entry point for so much imported American dance music as well as its industrial past, Lopkin forges 10 aces over two plates, with divine results inspired by Detroit classics in ‘Fragments of Yesteryear’ and ’Stupid Humans’, along with the lush house traction of ‘White Corries’, some B12-esque electro in ‘Decades’, and a heavily seductive stripe of Reese-bassed techno in ‘Fridays at Pure’, at Carl Craig-goes-Italo flavour in ‘Welcome To Nowhere’.
Stunning exploration of traditional Arabic music and electronic processing by pivotal Montrealer Radwan Moumneh (boss of the legendary Hotel2Tango studio), including unmissable meshes of rolling rhythms with spectral ‘tronics in ‘Bein Ithnein’, and Coil-like digital vocal manipulation on ‘Thaha, Mish Roujou’, Thahab’, along with entrancing theatric orchestrations of trad vocals, buzuk and zurna with synths and tape FX. TIP!
“Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) is a project of contemporary Arabic and electronic music interwoven with 16mm film projections and light-based (de)constructions of space, exploring a relationship between music, visuals, projections and audience. With performances thus far occurring once or twice a year, no two JIMH events have ever been the same: configurations have ranged from solo to 35 participants, with varying degrees of stage theatrics alongside a film & visual component, using multiple projections to construct a space in constant flux. JIMH's vocals and purposefully blown-out sonic sensibility have been the consistent thread, but neither its music nor visual propositions have ever repeated themselves – one of the reasons why JIMH has resisted for eight years any official documentation or definitive recording of the project.
JIMH was formed in 2005 by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, a Lebanese national who has spent a large part of his adult life in Quebec and has been a fixture of the Montreal independent music community, from his early days in various notable 90s punk bands to his tireless activities over the last decade as a sound engineer, producer and co-owner of Montreal’s Hotel2Tango recording studio. Moumneh is also active in the Beirut experimental music scene, where he spends a few months every year. JIMH now consists of a core trio with French musician & producer Jérémie Regnier and Chilean visual artist & filmmaker Malena Szlam Salazar, whose two-year collaboration with Moumneh has resulted in the co-creation of JIMH’s debut album Mo7it Al-Mo7it.
JIMH forges a modern experimental Arabic music by wedding melismatic singing in classic Arabic styles and electronic compositions with contemporary electronic production. The album equally emphasizes the intimacy and narrative pace that focused, intentional studio recording allows. The result is a unique and profoundly emotive album of contemporary Arabic music, a stunningly subtle first record for a project that resisted documentation or any sort of fixity for so many years. Moumneh's voice has become a powerfully authentic instrument, and his production techniques applying distortion, tape echos and delays to varying degrees transmit a timeless intensity to the recording. Saturated synths and the overdriven signals of Moumneh's acoustic buzuk and zurna reinforce the reigning sensibility, providing a bracing counterpoint to the vocals and lovely, searching instrumental narratives in their own right. Szlam’s work was the source material for the album’s visual aesthetic. Szlam’s visual creation for the album derives from sequences that echo lunar notions and photographic intervals that reverberate and resonate, evoking the oscillation of time. Using frames from various hand-processed 16mm filmstrips, Szlam created a lunar sequence that consitutes the album cover artwork.
Inspired by the Lebanese educator Boutros Al-Bustani’s book Circumference of the Ocean, Mo7it Al-Mo7it signifies, in JIMH’s open and poetic interpretation, “Ocean of the Ocean.” The numeral 7 is pronounced like an h; all titles on the album are rendered in contemporary colloquial “mobile” Arabic (the transliterative characters used in Arabic phone texting). Thanks for listening.”
Inimitable percussionist Eli Keszler takes time out from 0PN’s ensemble to unfurl the incredible, dextrous rhythms and electro-acoustic jazz keen of his masterpiece, ‘Stadium’ - a spellbinding follow-up to his cherished ‘Last Signs of Speed’ LP and recent duties working on 0PN’s ‘Age Of’ and Laurel Halo’s ‘Raw Silk Uncut Wood’ sides. For us this is one of the defining albums of the year - an isolationist avant-jazz masterpiece that is a total must-hear for late-night listeners and, we reckon, anyone with a pulse and especially recommended if yr into Milford Graves, Max Roach, Han Bennink, Conjoint, Jan Jelinek, Miles Davis...
With both his close collaborators Daniel ‘0PN’ Lopatin and Laurel Halo smoking in the back seat of ’Stadium’, Keszler is the dynamic battery behind a shadow-strafing suite of spidery rhythms and inquisitive jazz gestures, effortlessly binding avant instrumental dexterity with cool blue harmolodic sentiment in a timeless style that could feasibly be dated to any point between the mid ‘70s heyday of jazz-fusion and right now, except for those spectacuarly subtle production flourishes that render this album pretty much indefinable. It’s both highly complex and entirely accessible - in the most thought provoking, evocative way.
Painted in diffuse strokes, darting flurries, and intoxicatingly rich tones, ’Stadium’ shows off Keszler’s expressive grasp of meter, texture and proprioception from myriad angles. Combined with floating Rhodes chords, sighing woodwind and field recordings, the results also demonstrate his uncanny capacity to transmute sound to limn landscapes, architecture and the sensation of being lost in a crowd. In the case of ’Stadium’ he uses this ability to specifically reflect his recent house move from the semi-industrial scape of South Brooklyn to the high rise vistas and street level bustle of Manhattan, beautifully connoting multi-storeyed perspectives and a sense of scale that zooms from the atomic to the panoramic via a gauzy, morphing middle-distance.
Within this space, Keszler navigates webs of sound as structurally fascinating as a spider’s web or a deep space image of a distant constellation, seemingly moving on eight legs along steep vertical and fast-flowing horizontal axes with a shocking grasp of precision and pointillism that will leave new listeners to his work scratching their heads, wondering how to programme such chicanery electronically. But as longer term followers of Keszler’s work know, the magick is all acoustic and haptic; physically converting impressions of images and emotions into overlapping geometries of geography and psychology - and in this case effectively projecting a singular, inverted form of sonic deep topography, if you will.
Perhaps the most wondrous thing about ‘Stadium’ is the way it describes the paradoxical quality of keeping your head amid the chaos - a notion that will surely resonate with inner city dwellers as much as fans of the finest noise, jazz, avant-garde music of all stripes, and is firmly at the heart of ’Stadium’ and its amorphous milieu of sound.
Simply an incredible album.
Pert dance-pop from Little Dragon, taken from their debut EP for Ninja Tune
The sun-kissed vibes of ‘Lover Chanting’ features signature, soulful vocal from Yukimi Nagano in duet with the band’s Erik over plump bassline and natty guitar chops from the skool of neo Scando-disko.
Dean Blunt & Delroy Edwards knuckle down 19 raw-to-the-bone instrumentals from their time spent together in LA.
If played this gear in a blind test, 9 out of 10 neeks would no doubt recognise ‘Desert Sessions’ as the work of Edwards & Blunt. Simply titled in sequence, Audio Tracks 01 - 19, it all feels totally off-the-cuff and cloaked in red-eyed vibes in a very familiar way, with each artist’s input smartly masked by clouds of ferric hiss as dense as the tree smoke in their studio.
Working the heck out of their keyboards’ presets, they hustle a barrage of sawn-off boogie, hip hop and stanky outhouse styles, with a chorus of synthetic fallen angels playing a narrative role around their oblique, often atonal jabs of electronics and half-cut guitar riffs.
It’s maybe best regarded as a mutual, Hypnagogic regression and ode to Blunt and Edwards shared roots in late ‘80s and ‘90s transatlantic culture - from hip hop and R&B to slacker indie-pop and ambient music - allowing for all the fog and fallibility of memory recollection, but bittersweetly evoking their subject in fine style.
Prayers are answered with this damn fine pressing of two late ‘80s, Belgian-produced beauties, including a prime new cut of Teknokrat’s’ rare AF New Beat heater ‘What Did She Say’ - suffice to say we've been waiting for this one for years.
Pairing the original Congolese soukous version of ‘Nakombe Nga’ by Ben Nyambo’s Les Choc Stars Du Zaire, with its remixed instrumental, Teknokrat’s’ ‘What Did She Say’, Rush Hour have just blown our minds by revealing a whole other side to a song that’s utterly dear to our hearts and feet.
As it turns out, both songs share the same producer, Tony Baron, who uncannily shares a name and look with a Reeves & Mortimer character from The Club sketches, and who was behind some of New Beat’s high water marks and its hardest to find records. For years we’ve been obsessed with his ‘Tekno’ LP as The Teknokrat’s (mind that apostrophe), and in particular its last track, an addictive spin on Inner City’s Detroit house sound, titled ‘What Did She Say’.
One can possibly imagine our astonishment, then, to find out that track is actually a remix of a Congolese Soukous song by Ben Nyambo’s Les Choc Stars Du Zaire, swapping out the Anglophone vocals for harmonised Swahili lyrics and extra spicy guitar licks. Even better yet, as the original Teknokrat’s LP is pressed 5 tracks per side, this is the first time either song has seen a proper 12” cut, and we’re happy to report they both sound bright and punchy as one could hope for.
In our books this is a 100% essential plate, guaranteed to light up ‘floors anywhere. Here’s to hoping for a full reissue of the ’Tekno’ LP!
The Mutant Beat Dance supergroup of Melvin Oliphant (Traxx), Jason Letkiewicz (Steve Summers) and Beau Wanzer meet LCD Soundsystem’s Tyler Pope and Pat Mahoney
Combined, all five run an oil-spattered punk-disco style on ‘Feed The Enemy’, the EP’s weakest cut, before the OG trio get down to business in the murky grind of ‘Revival 80s’, a filthy detahrock groove called ‘Crete’, the slompy P-Funk of ‘Funk Groove’, and the demented bassline cubism of ‘Touy Story’.
Geographic North present an expertly curated, horror-themed compilation of exclusive aces from Félicia Atkinson, Pinkcourtesyphone, Ka Baird, Suzanne Kraft, CV & JAB, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Eluvium, Clarice Jensen, Arp, Ilyas Ahmed, Algiers and many more, all right in time for Samhain 2018
Mantled in reference to the seminal Nicolas Roeg flick, ‘Don’t Look Now’ , Geographic North’s 2nd collection of Halloween music shares much in common with the titular film’s classical scenery and unsettling psychology, with each contributor preferring inference and shadowplay over anything explicitly gory or sh*t-the-bed scary.
Bookended by prologue and epilogue from Sweden’s Arp, the set runs to 21 pieces in total, amounting to induce a nervously furtive state of mind fleeting between clammy anxiety, pensive midnight romance, and unshakeable uncanniness. It’s testament to Geographic North’s fine-tuned ears that the whole thing works so well, holding our attention by a silk thread for its feature-length 90 minute duration.
Like a movie, it’s best consumed in one go, but it’s worth pointing to key scenes such as Ka Baird’s nest of shivering keys in ‘Clearing’, and the cool tension between spiralling rhythms and tranquil chords in Felicia Atkinson’s ‘Little Things’ as crucial to the sequence, especially when contrasted with the more dread-filled nooks such as Robert Donne’s crushing dedication to Mika Vainio in ‘Rakkauslaulu’, the carmine seep of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s viscous organ wooze in ‘O Virtus Sapiente’, and the starkly sepulchral dynamic of ’Stabbing’ by Suzanne Kraft.
For our money comps rarely work, but much like PAN's Mono No Aware, Geographic North prove that with the right curation you can sometimes end up with something much more weighty then the sum of its parts, in this case an engrossing narrative full of darkness and light.
First new Phosphorescent album in 5 years, Matthew Houck's most grand and varied album to date.
"For years, Phosphorescent’s rise was a steady one: tours got a little better, rooms got a little bigger, and with it the music became more intricate, more ambitious in its recording and arrangement. Then came Muchacho, a juggernaut that to date has sold over 100,000 worldwide, with lead single “Song for Zula” now well over 50 million streams. Now, five years later, Phosphorescent returns with his seventh studio LP, C’est La Vie. Recorded in Nashville at Matthew Houck’s own Spirit Sounds Studio, C’est La Vie reveals a crystallization of what made Muchacho such a breakout — a little sweetness and a little menace, sometimes boot-stomping and sometimes meditative.
A lot of life was lived between these records: Houck became a father (twice), built his studio, escaped New York. And C’est La Vie does have a hefty, career-spanning feel. But there’s a newfound wisdom, too, a deeper well for all that livin’. The magic of Matthew Houck’s music has always been the way he weaves shimmering, almost golden-sounding threads through elemental, salt-of-the-earth sounds. It’s not experimental, exactly, but it’s singular and it’s definitely not traditional. That knack, the through-line across the Phosphorescent catalogue, is front and centre here."
Marie Davidson is a synth-pop star for our times. Her belting 4th solo LP, ‘Working Class Woman’ is a definitive reflection of her character and current sound, including road-tested zingers from her powerful live show along with genuine surprises, while introducing a whole new wave of listeners to her charms.
In hot pursuit of the more ‘floor-friendly styles on her ‘Adieux Au Dancefloor’, and marking distance travelled since her cinematically sculpted ‘Un Autre Voyage’ for Holodeck, Marie’s 4th album inseparably binds the sound designer and dancefloor aspects of her sound in a sleek, witty, and totally captivating album which, for all it’s vintage touchstones, feels very symptomatic of 2018.
Her grooves are firmed up to direct functionality while the arrangements are as varied as anything from her intricate earlier works, resulting in big highlights on her live show favourite, the playfully raunchy EBM of ‘Work It’, and the rabid drum machine razz-out ‘Workaholic Paranoid Bitch’. But the amazing late ‘80s synth-pop-house of ‘So Right’ and the album’s two bookends of sardonic and sensual vocals, set to respectively pensive and sublime backdrops, really set this album apart from the crowd.