After releasing their 17th album 'Abolition of The Royal Familia' earlier this year, The Orb are back with further guest appearances on their remix album 'Abolition Of The Royal Familia - Guillotine Mixes'.
Including mixes from David Harrow, Moody Boyz, Youth, Violeta Vicci, Andy Falconer and more.
Fathoms deep tape loop dirt from Muscut and Shukai boss Dmytro Nikolaienko. Properly faded tripbient zoners for fans of Jan Jelinek, Jake Muir, Andrew Pekler et al.
For his Faitiche debut, Nikolaienko excavated his tape archive, finding the most interesting loops and using his collection of analog machines to play the loops like an instrument. To make noise, he would create saturation, and to create flutter, he moved the mechanical head manually over the moving tape. So the tracks are blessed with the haunted flavor of mid-20th Century tape music, but constructed with a more contemporary ear for texture, timbre and trippy abstraction.
Decaying Basinski-esque ambient phrases are looped, carved up and distorted over bleeping arpeggiated sequences and clouds of sodden noise. Sizzling Cluster-esque guitar licks tumble over exotica synths and woodblock percussion, sounding like a collection of easy listening tapes melted into a broken car stereo. It's nostalgic, certainly, but doesn't dwell on bait feelings of instant gratification or fetishization - rather Nikolaienko abstracts his sounds into a deeply sensual cosmic slop of frayed synthesis and half-heard stylistic references.
There's a ton of tape-frazzled ambient music out there, but "Rings" is a thing of rare beauty and another essential addition to the Faitiche catalogue.
Anz finally mints her new label Otras Mitades, or OTMI for short, with two typically killer new productions.
A key catalyst of dance music in Manchester and beyond, Anz keeps it strictly for the ‘floor in both parts of ‘OTMI001.’ Following up 2020’s bout for Hessle Audio and a few for Finn’s 2 B Real, she pushes on with equal parts classic and futurist funk for the warehouse rave or your buddy’s bashment, laying down treacly purple G-funk leads and twanging boogie B-lines on the Afrobeats-y street rave flair of ‘Unravel In The Designated Zone’, while cutting for the peaks hours soused in sweat and fog on the 2-stepping brukbeat parry of ‘Morphing Into Brighter’ - think SUAD meets Dego at 4AM in the Soup Kitchen basement. Aye, v, v sick.
Soul-slapping deep jazz hearticals from a key player in the Chicago and IARC cosmos, joined by Angel Bat Dawid and Ben LaMar Gay who help make up his 11-part Black Monument Ensemble - So on-point, this one!!! RIYL KDJ, Theo Parrish, Prefuse 73
Revolving Damon Locks’ sampler chops and electronics at its core and periphery, it’s abundantly clear to hear the band are in-the-zone on ‘Now’, which is practically the epitome of how to do forward facing music jazz with a deep appreciation of tradition. In their seamless and jagged elision of electronic and organic sources a real magick bleeds thru that’s got us standing up to give it some proper appreciation, and we imagine it will have the same effect everywhere else.
The bookending works with clarinetist Angel Bat Dawit are, perhaps predictably, the highlights, with her spirited freeness lighting up Locks’ patchwork of samples and a sextet of vocalists driven by dual percussionists, Dana Hall and Arif Smith on the swingeing West African styled downstroke of ‘Now (Forever Momentary Space)’ from start to the spine-chilling end and final exhortations of “Whew!”, and again in the rug-shredding wriggle of ‘The Body Is Electric.’ They’re both serious dancefloor cuts in the right hands, and perfectly characterise the album’s grooving nature that snakes thru the Theo-esque bustling metrics and hip-shot sampler stabs of ‘The People vs The Rest Of Us’ and lip-biting swing and parry of ‘Keep Your Mind Free.’
Use your ears, trust your body, you’ll know what to do next. No brainer!
A decade since his transition from D&B to greyscale techno, Shifted dispenses a typically grim definition of his style in 5th studio album, ‘Constant Blue’
Perhaps a poetic metaphor for the zeitgeist, ‘Constant Blue’ dwells in starkest terrain unconcerned with the club, hewing to an impurely tonal palette of queasy low end frequencies and shatterproof upper register timbres that mirror feelings of stasis and unyielding twilight, or what he terms “caustic minimalism.”
The album’s 10 tracks manifest the most textural distillation of his trademark sound, shorn of dancefloor kicks and left to gloomy, isolationist introspection. Don’t expect it to put you in a good mood, but it may be good company for those times when one needs something that echoes their thoughts, as it holds a singular line from the immersive intricacies of ‘Slowly Counting Backwards’ to the nodding hypnosis of ‘The Weight of It’, and thru the spatialised declension of ‘Metronome’ to roiling bass and fizz in ‘Tradecraft’ recalling Frank Bretschneider’s work with old Soviet synths.
What do you get if you take six 7"s (three of which were released in 2005 and three of which are out this week), take the A and B of each and then collate them on a single, user friendly piece of plastic? If you answered 'Stereolab - Fab Four Suture' than give yourself a star and go home early. If not; eyes open and read on! Whilst the harvesting of vinyl-only releases can often lead to an unsatisfactory full-length, the source material which was jacked for 'Fab Four Suture' benefits from being of the finest quality imaginable - with the newly invigorated Stereolab mining a rich seam of creativity that bodes very well for their many admirers. Opening with the Sunny-D vocals of 'Kyberneticka Babicka Pt.1', Stereolab remind you just what made them so compelling in the first place - tagging a beach full of choral goodness onto oscillating organs, rumtiddlyump drums and an almost lecherous undercurrent of unease (continued on 'Kyberneticka Babicka Pt. 2'). Elsewhere, both 'I Was Sunny Rainphase' and 'Platic Mile' are the kind of genreless Morricone-influenced Gaelic-pop that make you want to move to Paris, 'Excursions Into "Oh, A-Oh"' is Blondie reimagined in a toy-box, whilst 'Widow Weirdo' is about as concentrated a shot of Stereolab you could legally consume and still drive afterwards... Seven shades of fab!*
Grown-up Berlin rave kids Modeselektor translate the energy of their live set into a production mixtape format chock with exclusive material, including guest spots from Paul St.Hilaire (Tikiman) and Jackson & His Computer Band
Packing the thrills and spills of their stadium filling live shows - beloved of Thom Yorke, who has guested on their material, and vice-versa - ‘Extended’ brings the rave to your living room in a smartly tempered flow of 27 tracks tilted between punchy tressilo techno-electro, club-footed stompers, and more twisted arps than you can shake up a bockle of champers to.
They draw on set pieces crafted for specific sets such as ‘Butlin’s Minehead Interlude’ and ‘Bangface’ which make a nice couple, and no doubt nod to their Berlin ‘hood on the tunnelling transition ‘U8’ into the electrodub flex of ‘OHM’, with a standout moment in the appearance from Berlin royalty Paul St. Hilaire who graces ‘Movement’ with his haunting Dominican singjay styles as found on reams of Rhythm & Sound classics and has just reminded us of his ace ‘Fake Emotion’ with MDSLKTR back on 2005’s ‘Hello Mom!’ album.
Drums ‘pon drums for days, from Roska’s prized alias Bakongo, taking to Al Wootton aka Deadboy’s Trule label for the UKF fiends
Ripe to be rinsed in the mix by DJs that know, Bakongo’s latest keeps the grooves bare bones and syncopated for optimal swang and parry. Unlike his Roska workouts, there’s a notable lack of bass, but that’s where your other deck, or more simply your imagination, comes into play. ‘Thirteen’ tees up a rhythmelodic fuss of tumbling and crisply tucked drums set in spare air with occasional hollers keeping time.
The patented Roska kicks ’n snares are then fully effect on ‘Level Cowbell’, hingeing around the titular clank with a lip-smacking swagger, and practically anticipating appearance of a “Roska Roska Roska!” and subs that never come.
Crucial tripped smoove groove diversions from Jan Jelinek's "Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records" era; vibraphone and vinyl crackle heated slowly into a narcotic haze.
'ICE Compositions' was released in 2002 on the hyper-limited En/Of imprint, and came only moments after "Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records", perhaps still Jelinek's most beloved full-length. The smoky, after-hours vibe of that album still hangs around these four tracks, dissolved even further into psychedelic, abstract groans and drones.
There's plenty of artists at this point that have absorbed Jelinek's method, but few manage to capture the spirit of what he was doing here. The glitches weren't simply used for aesthetics alone, they add rhythm and texture to his eerie set of samples, fleshing out his concepts in three dimensions. Here, Jelinek's mind-boggling simplicity is in full focus: a cursory listen might reveal nothing at all, but the more you submit, the more you begin to hear. So damn good.
A milestone in Regis’ catalogue, the slow screw of 2010’s CUB project returns alongside its trotting re-edit
Essentially the seed of what would become developed into his ‘Blood Witness’ 12”, the original CUB cut plotted a new, sub-120bpm groove that pissed off loads of DJs who couldn’t mix it with Regis’ faster gear, but sounded brilliant when placed with compatible cuts. It effectively brought Brummie techno in line the sound of D&B played on 33-not-45 as well as the stylized swagger of the industrial rock and wave gear that’s formative to his style. An all time classic if you ask us.
Jangling, mostly instrumental bluegrass and country variations from Chicago-based acoustic guitar maestro Bill MacKay and Durham, North Carolina-based Appalachian folk player Nathan Bowles. Quite lovely!
'Keys' is MacKay and Bowles' debut, and is a plaintive horseback ride into American folk music. Both players have trad chops, and flesh out their playing with virtuoso flourishes giving their music a haze of Fahey-esque experimentation. But this is more melancholy and more immediate than anything Fahey ever meditated on - MacKay and Bowles aren't afraid of scratching the country itch and teasing out a tear or two.
Imagine Bonnie "Prince" Billy covering the "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou!" soundtrack and you'll have some idea of where this one's headed.
More bizarre and brilliant outsider funk from fine artist and latter day renaissance man Lonnie Holley.
Modern Americana pioneer Matthew E. White teams up here with sculptor, educator and later-life musical hero Lonnie Holley to rock through a set of eccentric psych-funk-gunk that should appeal to anyone who has been fascinated by Holley's last few records. Holley's idiosyncratic lyricism is the draw here, as he deconstructs the issues du jour - selfies, reality, outer space, psychedelics - with wit and undeniable style. But White's musical contributions make this more than just an odd aside, if you've enjoyed Holley's recent run ("MITH", "National Freedom") then "Broken Mirror" shows that Holley has more mileage yet. Not bad for someone who released their debut album at the age of 62 eh? Southern funk at its weirdest and wildest.
Tehran's Parsa Jamshidi throws down the DSP gauntlet on "Musique Grossière", building uncomfortable hi-def soundscapes out of panic-inducing digital noise, screaming feedback and processed, microtonal blasts.
'Musique Grossière' means "course music", and there couldn't be a better description of this EP. PARSA is a gifted sound designer, and creates bubbling noise worlds from synthetic textures rendered with such HD clarity it sounds as if you could touch them. This is gross, unsettling stuff - visceral body horror soundtracks that speak to a contemporary era of cybernetic augmentation, social (media) disruption and surveillance capitalism. It's not pretty, but it's not supposed to be.
You think COVID-19 is bad? By 2025 it's going to be international law that every musician has to make an ambient album. Getting ahead of this mandate is Sufjan Stevens, who wrote a five disc ambient set while grieving the loss of his father. Each volume will explore a different aspect of loss, taking listeners through mourning, healing and catharsis.
This first part is entitled "Meditations" and the press release mentions Morton Subotnick, Maryanne Amacher, Christian Fennesz, Brian Eno, and Wolfgang Voigt, none of whom would be playing "Meditations" on repeat. (OK maybe Eno.)
Stevens already explored tragedy and loss succinctly on 2015's "Carrie & Lowell", which makes this set feel a little surplus to requirement. The fact that it digs into some of the most played out ambient tropes - seriously, how many times do we need to hear reversed electric piano? - makes it feel like an exercise in aesthetic rather than an exploration of form or an honest expression of emotions. It's tropes, assembled in order..
But the biggest problem with "Meditations" isn't its refusal to do anything new, but that it's so inoffensive that it sinks completely into the background. In doing so, it might be the purest ambient record we've heard in a while. Eno would be proud, but we're a bit bored.
After a slew of popular releases on Lovers Rock, JINN Records, Disco Halal and others, and an album on Smalltown Supersound, genre-hopping dance producer Yoshinori Hayashi returns with another dense collection of off-kilter bangers.
"Pulse of Defiance" is Hayashi's second full-length and shows the Japanese beatmaker has lost none of his exploratory passion. It's undeniably hard to pin down, jumping haphazardly from brittle jungle ('Make up One's Mind') to DJ Krush-esque trip-hop ('Luminescence') and into rolling deep house ('Touch') without so much as a pause for breath. It's all expertly produced, bright-around-the-edges stuff, coming across like the soundtrack to an open-world videogame set in an parallel universe Tokyo. No doubt one where the clubs are still actually open.
Andrew Johnson (The Remote Viewer, Hood) unfurls his wings as A New Line (Related) once again on a brilliant, driving but delicate new album, his first to be released on tape.
A quietly persistent and much loved presence on these pages since our earliest days thanks to his work with some of West Yorkshire/Lancashire’s finest, Johnson continues to speak a musical language that resonates very deeply with us; all purring rhythms and glancing dimensions that we imagine are only enhanced by our deep affection for the man himself. His sound is made of simple elements but oozes warmth in a way that’s so much more than the sum of its parts - almost impossible to describe with its gentle play of shadow and light toying with our feelings.
The nine tracks on ‘Love in a unitary authority parts 1 - 9’ fade from almost pre-club anxiety ambience to svelte, Move D-like motion in Part 1, and variously drifting in/out of the crowd and his own thoughts between the muffled depths of Part 2, vacillating deep techno swing in Part 4’, with a dance of vaporous ‘Tender Love’-era SND chords in Part 5, exquisite strokes recalling Will Long ov Celer’s Longtrax on ‘Part 6’, and his pop sensibilities buried deep under the hood of Part 7.
We’re tempted to say that it’s a nostalgic sound that takes us back to a less complicated time, but in truth one of the virtues of Johnson’s minimalist production, with little concession to overly emotive melodies, is that it has a timeless quality that speaks as much to current dimensions as to the sort of thing we were listening to when we first heard his music well over 20 years ago. In other words - lovers of warm, generous, open-hearted, timeless electronic music of any colour would do well to dive into this one, it’s just so utterly lovely.
Reflective album of solo keys fringed with electronics and swaddled in ambient noise by New York’s master of liminal composition; Taylor Deupree
His first solo side since 2018’s ‘Fallen’ (and collaborations with Richard Chartier and Stephen Vitiello in between) takes hazy shape thanks to Deupree’s patented, texturised atmospheres which account for half of the message he’s trying to convey, while his expressively nuanced melodic content makes up the other half, luring us into hypnagogic headspace where time is out of joint and the days never seems to get going, just looping into themselves so that the meaning of any slight shift appears amplified from the norm.
“Taylor Deupree is an American musician and mastering engineer based just outside of New York. As a former member of the American electronic band Prototype 909, Deupree has had numerous collaborations with artists such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Stephen Vitiello, Alva Noto and Marcus Fischer. Curating 12k, a New-York based music label, is another aspect of Deupree’s career and brought together over one hundred releases since its beginnings in 1997. Having some similar artists in our catalog (Federico Durand, Will Samson and Steinbüchel for example), it’s safe to say that Deupree’s new release through Dauw will be in good company.”
Thomas Fehlmann returns to the sediment of ages, drawing from a similar lexicon of sounds to that used on 2018's '1929 - Das Jahr Babylon'.
"Like that album, Böser Herbst was produced as the soundtrack to a documentary made by Volker Heise, Herbst 1929, Schatten Über Babylon, which offers historical insight to the third season of the television series, Babylon Berlin. It adds yet another string to the bow of this most forward-thinking and creative artist, whose history takes in NDW (Palais Schaumburg), techno (3MB) and psychedelic ambience (The Orb), plus a clutch of gorgeous solo albums that explore wide terrain, from the dancefloor through supine home listening to compelling soundtrack work.
Fehlmann's approach here was to "capture" samples of contemporaneous music, "picking up the dirt and dust of original 1920s archive sound and music excerpts and shaping the essence into this selection of tunes," he recalls. After delivering the material to the editing room, Fehlmann "threw all the pieces up in the air, deliberately lost the overview in consequence, researched the atmospheric thread and assembled it for this album."
R.I.Y.L. Jason Molina, Bonnie Prince Billy, Bill Callahan, Damien Jurado.
"The raw inspiration for Vague Tidings came from a 2006 DIY tour of the 49th state. It was a trip that went off the beaten path sometimes a bit too far for comfort. Now, over a decade later, listeners find Joe O’Connell aka Elephant Micah stationed at a creaky spinet piano, singing about the Alaskan sky. Throughout, his lyrics take a new angle on a pet theme: human encounters with the natural world. Vague Tidings places these encounters in the American West and, at times, in its sci-fi corollary, outer space. Its imagery draws from the allure of Alaska, the idea of Western prosperity, and the human relationship to wilderness more broadly. Often, O’Connell sings about the goal of capturing and commodifying nature. In poetic sketches of resource extraction industries and dark sky tourism, frontier lust runs amok. Pipelines catch fire and stars disappear, all to the tune of a stark, uncanny Americana.
Vague Tidings is a sustained, hallucinatory rendering of this theme. In style, its eight songs follow a switchback path between foggy incantations and mountain anthems. Made with a small cohort of acoustic instrumentalists, the record is rough hewn, but easy on the ears. To put Vague Tidings down on tape, O’Connell assembled some of his favorite musicians in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area, where he’s lived since 2015: Libby Rodenbough (Mipso) bows and plucks a detuned fiddle, Matt Douglas (Mountain Goats) breathes life into various woodwinds, and Matt O’Connell (Lean Year) sets the pace on a two-piece drum set. Their loose, imaginative playing pushes Vague Tidings beyond the singer-songwriter genre into something richer in texture. Ultimately, this is foreboding but spacious music, with plenty of room for reconsidering life on earth."
"In an industry always pinning its hopes on the next big trend, Benny Sings is in it for the long haul. The Dutch artist has honed a signature sound while creating a colorful catalog of essential pop gems that have led to loyal global following.
Benny’s songs are sophisticated and easy to fall in love with, ear-worming melodies and sticky choruses the result of years of craft that have made him the ultimate songwriter’s songwriter. Rex Orange County, with whom Benny wrote the platinum hit ‘Loving Is Easy’, says, “In my opinion he’s one of the most underrated producers and artists going.”
Benny cut his teeth as a studio collaborator and to this day is as comfortable working with a huge range of musicians as he is writing his own distinct songs. He says: “I’ve learned along the way that working with other artists enriches my music. I’m a bit of a loner, and because of that I’ve always had more affinity with songwriters than with musicians. Over the past few years I’ve been actively chasing collaborations with kindred spirits.”
Some of those kindred spirits bring their talents to new album Music. Mac DeMarco lends deadpan vocals to ‘Rolled Up’; Tom Misch contributes a blazing guitar solo to ‘Nobody’s Fault’; the title track was written with songwriter P.J. Morton, and ‘Kids’ features L.A. rapper KYLE. Cautious Clay appears on the laid-back pop song ‘Run Right Back’, and Kelsey Gonzales of The Free Nationals and Emily King contribute vocals to the ecstatic, gospel-influenced ‘Miracles’. Music was engineered and mixed by Renaud Letang, of the famed Studios Ferber in Paris.
Before Benny even started working on the album, he had an idea for a song that he knew would be a perfect fit for Mac DeMarco. When the two artists met up in L.A., they wrote ‘Rolled Up’ together almost effortlessly – even its opening lyric came about by happenstance, overheard from someone in the street. A song about feeling down without any reason, ‘Rolled Up’ is a counterpoint to the album’s generally upbeat tone."
Rattling, slinky house variations from Nervous Horizon co-founder Anunaku, with bizarrely effective choral vocals.
Anunaku returns to AD 93 with another plate of left-leaning house, this time adding whispered vocals and church music to the mix, you know, just because why not? It works too, with the wavering monastic tones adding a fresh texture to the driving 4/4 on opener 'Spirale'.
Elsewhere, Anunaku throws down the euphoric techno gauntlet on 'Ninfea', sounding like Berghain at 3am, and goes for a '90s downtempo/side room shuffle on 'Luminosa'. Good stuff.