Like a cool breeze on a humid afternoon, Megan Alice Clune's "If You Do" is fresh, unexpected and welcome turn from Lawrence English's Room40 label. It's an operatic fusion of vocals and synthy electronics that's something like Grouper and Laurie Spiegel playing simultaneously.
In the summer of 2020, Aussie composer Megan Alice Clune had a dream that she wrote an opera. She'd been struggling to lift herself out of creative stasis after a long trip to Tokyo, but the dream offered her the push she needed. She began to sing melodies (quietly, so the neighbors wouldn't hear) and eventually an album began to take shape. Clune describes the record as "an album for solo voice and an ensemble of technologies" and that feels fitting. Her voice is the central instrument, but that's only part of the story; Clune's use of synths and effects gives the album a character that helps it shift thru genre, time and space.
It's a record that's intended to inspire through about our use of technology, and after well over a year of being tied to a computer screen, it's timely. The organic, fallible nature of Clune's voice is offset by the layers of electronics, and while the mood isn't combative, it's critical. Good stuff.
Glaswegish dream weaver Cucina Povera keeps the magick flowing with her 2nd album of 2021, following the outstanding ‘Lumme’ with a haul of tracks recorded while stranded in a scottish snowstorm back in 2017, tracing an icy path between ancient folk, choral music, Islaja, Lau Nau and Grouper - just next level really.
There's a weightlessness to Cucina Povera's music that’s inspiring and highly original; using little more than her voice, Maria Rossi forms soundscapes and song cycles that drag sacred music into personal new horizons with a depth of feeling and sense of succour in stasis, capturing lonely but quietly life-affirming expressions.
Povera’s music has a strong familiarity with the night; ‘The Dalmarnock Tapes’ are unmistakably made for nocturnal situations in a way that we imagine lonely Sub Arctic folk make music; as both entertainment and for spiritual elevation. Between the purring lilt of ‘Keruu’ and the nithered tone of ‘Olen oluen oljen’ Cucina grants access to this secretive practice, yielding private, if obfuscated, thoughts as meditative aids - building an atmosphere of measured resilience, looping phrases to create the illusion of a choir echoing internally/eternally like some spirit guide for the changing of the seasons.
Cairo break technician Hassan Abou Alam follows last year's ace 'T44' with this rugged, substantial five-tracker - a crunchy, bass-heave set of post dubstep tweakage, for fans of Martyn, CCL et al.
"It Spills" is strong material from Abou Alam, that seems to bridge the gap between the early '00s car culture breaks scene (think Tipper etc), rave and the Bristol-centric post dubstep movement that took root thanks to labels like Livity Sound and Apple Pips.
'Unkindled' is a low-end heavy machine funk monster, with wobbly synth bass rumbling under bit-crushed beats that aren't a million miles from Autechre's seminal "Envane". 'Breathe' is even better, with pinprick percussion underpinning metallic clattering and an acidic bassline that makes us yearn for a dark basement. Good stuff!
Brooklyn-based experimental noise holdout Bob Bellerue's latest is a symphony for feedback, enhanced with speakers sitting on metal bowls and drums. Seriously heavy durational drones for fans of Sunn O))), Catherine Christer Hennix, Robert Ashley or Eliane Radigue's Feedback Works.
'Radioactive Desire' is a suite of six durational pieces (the shortest clocks in at a modest 13 minutes, the longest is almost 40) that bask in feedback's lavish, squealing fuzz. The harnessing of feedback has been a constant in experimental music for decades, but Bellerue's approach is novel and well conceived. He's been a key component in the East Coast noise underground for 30 years, and brings this knowledge of all things extreme to his treatment, giving it a surprising level of restraint.
Considering 'Radioactive Desire' is constructed from feedback, there are few moments of complete cacophony. Rather Bellerue appears to want to highlight how feedback allows us to hear spaces through vibrations and tones. His space is set up so that the resonant squeals cause rattles and overtones throughout the room and enhance, or distort, every other element. It's not always easy to listen to, but it's consistently fascinating - the title track alone, the most musical of the six works contorting feedback into an almost orchestral groove, is an essential listen.
Sam Shackleton returns to his "core sound" with an intense solo long player of sunrise afters psychedelia and brain tickling, bass heavy rhythmic fusion. Completely absorbing music that spirals thru odd time signatures and offworld instrumentation, landing in a rare meditative space that's a balm fer the soul.
It's been a few years since Shackleton's last proper solo full-length; recently he's been more drawn to bold concepts and collaborations, so it's an unexpected pleasure to hear him circling back to basics on "Departing Like Rivers". Here he processes the emotional complexity of the last couple of years with a warm blast of cascading vocal splices, hypnotic drones and rousing sub pressure. There's little surprising about the album, but he investigates his own tropes more deeply, channeling the looping 'n loping weirdness of his Woe To The Septic Heart! run into a coherent seance that clothes the ghosts of the past in vivid nu threads.
The genre-shaping oddstep of his earliest releases is now left as only a faint trace, while elements snipped from folk music and experimental drone forms loom much larger. Each rhythmic cycle feels as if it dances around the 4/4 idea, without locking into the expected chug, allowing the brain to create subtle aural hallucinations while it processes the complex web of well-chiseled sounds. Electronic and vocal cuts usher us into a spiraling k-hole of echoing instability; colors are painted and then melted, and coherent forms shattered into tiny pieces before being carefully, slowly reassembled.
At this stage in his career, Shackleton isn't interested in making stand-out tracks or bangers; on 'Departing Like Rivers' he creates an emotional soundscape to aid anxious moments and reflective states. It's art that shares as much musickal DNA with Catherine Christer Hennix or FM synth pioneer Maggi Payne as it does with T++ or Peverlist. Pure phantasmagoria.
IDM retrofuturism from Parisian project Synalegg, shaking out wonky generative limbs on Florentine label OOH-Sounds
Leading on from the label’s yab ; yanko turn, Synalegg churns up busy drums and wayward softsynth angularities in ‘Computer Series’, oscillating puckered melodic pieces with more stripped back, splintered rhythm explorations and heady Autechrian spatial convolutions.
Curious batch of roiling, biting point synth noise and drone from Sofia Mestre’s Clothilde, crafted as soundtrack to a stage play authored and directed by Pedro Saavedra. One for fans of Alessandro Cortini, Joachim Nordwall, Alberich
“Out of the eight “Principles Of The New Man”, making up the play staged at Malaposta in October/November 2020, four are cut out for this independent soundtrack release. Precisely those which author and director Pedro Saavedra designated for distinct sound pieces. The remaining four are accompanied by The Background (“A Base”), a long, hypnotic, meditative and pulsating piece over which the listener is offered a chance of imaginative creation, just as in the play it assumes a background role to the text and music.
The author’s briefing and Clothilde’s attentive listening to the (long) original text were the sources for the composition. Each track was completed in one take, no editing. The music thus simulates a live performance, careful to adapt to the stage action but also respecting the natural rhythm of the equipment the artist manipulates. This – shall we say – organic dialogue is itself the creative process and generates a sort of autonomous area where woman and machine cannot be dissociated from each other.
Austere march across a barren land which, through sound, reminds us of the flat surface in Moderan, from the homonymous classic science fiction series of short stories. The titles themselves (“The Dawn”, “The War”, “The Fortress”, “The New World”) resonate as big keywords, each one a full epic suggesting the action in Moderan, within a narrative arc which follows the stage scenography´s conflict between light and darkness.”
Tim Hecker's score for BBC/AMC show "The North Water" is as chilly and menacing the drama's Arctic premise. Scraping orchestral drones echo over the faintest whispers of Hecker's early warbling power ambience >> deep, dark and serious.
It's hardly surprising that Canadian granular ambient don Hecker has shifted so seamlessly into prestige TV scoring. 'The North Water' began airing in the USA this summer, an adaptation of Ian McGuirand's popular novel that follows a whaling expedition to the Arctic in the 1850s. Cue some personal dread then, and who better to inform that voyage into the heart of darkness than Tim Hecker? His 2016 collaboration with Jóhann Jóhannsson "Love Streams" feels like it's informed "The North Water" most forcefully, and Jóhannsson's pointed subtlety hangs in the atmosphere of each evocative cue.
It isn't pretty music, but not without hope. Hecker paints a pitch-black backdrop with familiar elements, but his sonic signature is never far behind. The finest moments are when he breaks free - the levitated post-eno ambient haze of 'It's A Mistake To Think Too Much' for example - but there are plenty of winks to camera as he abstracts serious TV canned bleakness with dub echo slapback. Undoubtedly there's plenty here for devotees of the dark ambient movie soundtrack canon: Lustmord, Deaf Center and the Miasmah catalog.
Another must-check dub bonanza from Tamoki Wambesi Dove, with Scientist heading up an all-star cast of players and crucial digits on the desk
More a part 2, rather than a strictly dub version of 1983’s ‘The People’s Choice’, this 23 track digital release of the later CD edition, offering a patchwork compilation of alternate tracks that loosely correspond to the original session. It’s notable not least for two totally non-reggae bookends, the chants and percussion of ‘The Arawak’ (indigenous peoples of South America and the Caribbean; Whalley Rangers may know!) and a glorious dash of merry folk flutes on ‘Quadril’, while the rest of the set sloshes between roots reggae dub, proper, as with big highlights in the steppers bounce of ‘Emperor’s Faith’, the cavernous ‘Tom The Great Sabean’, and the dread heavy ‘Ruddy’s Spanish Town Champion’, thru to more digi-sounding styles on the likes of ‘Killimanjaro - 24 KT88 Power’, the synthetic brightness of ‘King Tiubby’s Hi-Fi’ and the balmy bop of ‘El Suzie A Go-Go Disco.’ The mastering quality may noticeably alternate throughout, but doesn’t detract from our enjoyment, at least.
Modeselektor’s mid ‘90s acid techno cuts resurface with breakbeat hardcore remix by Sarah Farina and a slippery techno refit from Substance
Digging into their archive of Fundamental Knowledge for the 3rd time, MDSLKTR’s Gernot and Sebastian turn out the jumping beans of ‘1994-20’, backed an acid jungle tekno overhaul from sarah farina primed for peaktime play in 2021, while the thizzing breakbeat experiment ‘1994-3’ receives a driving dub techno rework from DJ Pete aka Substance squashing the break into a shaky sort of dub techno swang shades away from Shed’s EQ’d joints.
Chock full of humid, resonant soundscapes that bend time and emphasize texture, tone and timbre, Sarah Davachi's latest is her most defining and rewarding full-length to date. We're floored, again - there's nobody else doing it quite like this.
Composed using a Mellotron, electric organ, piano and synthesizers, "Antiphonals" takes all the elements we know and love from Davachi's impressive catalogue to date and refines them into eight tracks of expertly-sculpted deep listening stickiness. If you're familiar with her work, the content won't be surprising, but Davachi's dedication to her craft has resulted in music that feels more and more revelatory each time.
Here, she brings her obsession with the tonal and textural character of early music to the fore, playing confidently with sounds that exist two or three steps from the contemporary sonic spectrum. Her favored outpost is a cocoon of soft-focus resonance, where sounds graze lightly and hypnotize rather than scrape or bruise. It's not background music - this is art that requires attention and understanding to appreciate its layered beauty and subtle complexity.
There are no real standouts or big moments, rather "Antiphonals" is a single long-running excerpt of Davachi's sonic thesis that plays continuously without a defined beginning or a defined end. It's a privilege to spend time in her world, listening to sacred music melt into prog rock and sensual, experimental drone into blurry neoclassical ambience. There are plenty of musicians who attempt to reach this jewelled nirvana, and precious few who get close - Davachi is currently sitting near the center. Breathtaking.
Elemental, experimental brilliance from the peerless Annea Lockwood, venturing two major new compositions attentively performed by Nate Wooley and Yarn/Wire
A leading pioneer of radical experimental music for over 50 years, Annea Lockwood is a legendary artist whose sound sensitive approach lies at the threshold of musical perception. Following the compilation/reissue of her seminal ’70s piece ’Tiger Balm’ (and two new works) by Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle in 2017, Annea’s 2nd release for the label offers two quietly stunning new works written between 2018/19 that return us to a familiar yet deeply otherworldly plane of sound exploration with a gripping exposition of sonic fundamentals made musical by her focussed, intuitive approach and dilated purview.
‘Becoming Air’ (2018) was developed with and performed by trumpeter Nate Wolley, who is pushed to the limits of his instrument by “a desire for ‘letting go of the sound to be itself’.” In fractured gasps and tip of tongue sounds at the periphery of audibility, the piece appears to unfold in and out of consciousness on the first section, before fixing into skull scrape, textured drones in the middle, and ultimately unleashing excoriating distortion in the final third with ruthless volume recalling the shuddering effects of Robert Ashley’s Wolfman.
‘Into The Vanishing Point’ (2019) follows in this vein of instrumental tactility by instructions to “explore their ‘feelings about what is happening ecologically’.” A collaborative work hatched with and performed by New York piano and percussion quartet Yarn/Wire, it takes the global warning of insect colony collapse as the cue for a far more low-key, tense and sprawling work populated with buzzing sonorities and flightier expressions that reflect the subject matter with a mixture of obliqueness and suggestive sensitivity that effortlessly and hauntingly weave us into its textures and insectoid rhythms.
Quietly concentrated downbeat pop, illbience, dematerialised drums and sliding whimpers from Max Stocklosa’s TRJJ and TRIIGroup, rejoining Stroom for his 3rd LP and follow-up to ’12 Dances’
Venturing forth in his discreet, unobtrusive style of ambient-pop, Stocklosa is flanked by the wider TRIIGroup to express his ‘Interest In Music’ over 14 hazy and endearingly open-ended works that dovetail beautifully with what we’ve come to expect of Belgium’s indomitable Stroom label. The Cologne-based singer-songwriter-artist operates at an alluring level of liminality throughout the album, with drums landing more as ghostly impressions rather than punctuation, underlining the plasmic sensuality and lowlit but lofty spaces of his sound and gently buoying the vocals in smoky dimensions.
If you’re after highlights, we’d advise checking for the lilting waltz of his lead single ‘G Lok G Lok’ and listening up for the loner hymn of ‘Friend’, and the squashed steel drum shimmer of ‘3rd Generation East German (Teen Rejection)’ while the deliquescnt nose drip brain tickle of ‘Triple Train’ sounds a bit like Cindy Lee meets Felix Kubin. Always winners.
Purely Physical Teeny Tapes excavate Aussie post-punks He Dark Age’s debut tape, originally issued in 1986 and absolutely impossible to find, now given a first ever vinyl edition destined to catch attention from Severed Heads, SPK and Pelican Daughters disciples.
Arriving on PPTT in the wake of aces by Laila Sakini & Lucy Van, Max Eilbacher, DJ Fitz and M. Quake, ‘Ecce Homo’ frolics in the scuzzy twilight of post-punk between 1983-1986 in and around Brisbane and Sydney, where He Dark Age’s Paul Newsome and Tony Millner forged a cranky and playfully janky style. They were part of a loose scene summed up on Efficient Space’s cherished ‘Oz Waves’ compilation, to which they contributed a highlight ‘Holding Out For Eden’, and explored a sound patently in thrall to some of Australia’s post-punk/post-industrial pioneers, with a possible clue to their name in SPK’s ‘Another Dark Age’ as well as a sampledelic wit no doubt inspired by Severed Heads, but also with a grubby oddness that recalls the gothic tint of Sydney’s cult properties, Pelican Daughters.
‘Ecce Homo’ (1986) remains a definitive testament to He Dark Age’s mid ’80s run, deploying a range of Korg MS10, Yamaha RX-11, a borrowed vocoder, guitars and bass in the years just prior to the advent of home computing. The original album’s 23 rough hewn but enchanting songs have been pruned back to 13 for this first reissue, from lissom new age in ‘I Have Come Back Deborah’ to the killer club banger on ‘Repent’, taking in American preacher Rex Humbard’s biblical declarations on ‘Jesus Didn’t Beat Him Over The Head’ and scalding EBM skronk on ‘The Book of Common Prayer’, tucking away their Oz Waves ace ‘Holding Out For Eden’, with their blend of gloaming noise and preacher samples in ‘The Master’ reminding of BMB’s ‘Hate Is Such a Strong Word.’ An idiosyncratic piece of the Australian underground music puzzle, Ecce Homo forms a unique DIY document from a part of the world that seems to have dominated our listening this last couple of years.
Astral Industries’ fave Hanyo van Oosterom (The Chi Factory) re-enters the label’s orbit in duo with fellow dutch ether explorer Radboud Mens for a minimalist but lush ambient trip
Following the 2019 death of The Chi Factory’s J. Derwort, ‘The Transition Recordings’ see Hanyo continue to expand the group’s legacy, looping in explorative sound artist and producer Radboud Mens to assist in unfurling his vision of diaphanous pads threaded with silvery solo piano keys, murmuring ether voices and mesmerising touches of Hassellian 4th world wind.
In combination they cultivate a sort night garden sound full of sensory inference and esoteric suggestion, where sounds synaesthetically take on both visual and olfactory symbolism but never fully reveal their whole shape, kept in a state of transient impermanence or ephemerality that totally seduces the horizontal and plays out on the back of one’s eyelids.
Lawrence English follows the excellent pipe organ-focused 'Lassitude' with another elevated set of syrupy drone poems built around Charlemagne Palestine's concept of "maximal minimalism". Glacial stuff, in the best possible way >> think Kali Malone, Ellen Arkbro, Phill Niblock or Éliane Radigue.
'Observation of Breath' is a patient, meditative album that continues English's obsession with organ sounds. He's been using the instrument for years now - his standout albums "Cruel Optimism" and "Wilderness of Mirrors" were shaped by the pipe organ - but has only recently began to experiment with the instrument's naked tones.
Last year's "Lassitude" was composed using a 19th century Australian organ housed in Brisbane's Old Museum. "Observation of Breath" picks up where that record left off, eschewing the processed drones of its weighty predecessor to offer a more sacred set of sounds. In fact, the processing English uses here is subtle - he lets the familiar groan of the organ take pride of place in the compositions, playing slowly but assuredly.
'The Torso' is the most abstract of the four pieces, with whooshing air taking up almost as much sonic territory as the squealing organ wails. But 'A Binding' and 'And A Twist' take a more familiar tone, reflecting Kali Malone and Ellen Arkbro's chilly spiritual minimalism. When English reaches his conclusion on the title track, he brings all the elements together, slowly painting over resonant tones until he creates hypnotic phasing sounds that wobble uneasily over gut-churning sub bass.
Neo-modernist Mark Fisher acolyte Lee Gamble finally polishes off his ambitious conceptual triptych with a brace of dusty, pensive re-realizations of wyrd dance, hyperreal ambient and warp'd web 3.0 doomsignalling >> proper gurglers fer dissident ravers inside.
Back in 2019 (which at this point feels like about a decade ago) Lee Gamble began his most ambitious project to date, a three-part album that would weave together the loose threads of his varied and often polar back catalog. The conceptual framework was "semioblitz": “the aggressive onslaught of visual & sonic stimuli of contemporary cities and virtual spaces.”
And while we received two weighty transmissions - "In A Paraventral Scale" and "Exhaust" - the third and final piece of the puzzle never appeared, until now. "Flush Real Pharynx 2019-2021" compiles those acclaimed first parts and adds an ample chunk of new material, bringing Gamble's 4K flicker of scanline drone and inverted post-'nuum rhythmic tweakage bang into the post-COVID-19 reality.
If the first two pieces of the puzzle were relatively hopeful ('n brutally cynical) flashes of our capitalism-warped reality, Gamble's new material feels checker'd by dislocated sadness. Given the project's CCRU-wave roots, this makes some kind of perverted sense, and Gamble's use of mucky haunted piano ('Empty Middle Seat') and machine-grade halfstep ('Newtown Got Folded') anchors the nu material in a pensive half-remembered backtopia.
The glinting, polished shimmer of "In A Paraventral Scale" and "Exhaust" is almost gone now, obscured by endless months of digital dust and mental anguish. Transport has stopped, AI has been subverted, and the MDMA rush is completely solipsistic in isolation: what's a contemporary city exactly when u compare 2019 with 2021? Now Gamble casts his mind into the future and channels cracks of light into a new reality's stifling darkness. Who knows what's next, but we ain't going backwards.
Cult slo-mo master Nenad Marković convects balmy magick and a rugged 808 workout as 33.10.3402 for Sähkö
In line with his series of 12”s for L.I.E.S. and ESP Institute, and a sorely coveted slab for Düsseldorf’s near mythical Kunstkopf, the Balkan artist deftly plays it down and heavy in both cuts with subtly contrasting results that alleviate the more grizzled pressure of Sähkö’s previous release by Basic House.
‘Iz Usta’ is the late summer party special, tilting rolling conga and toiling bassline from early disco rap days into a sort of Balearic peach spiked with gently lysergic electronics, colourfully plumed bird calls, and buoyant pads for its nine minute duration, which could easily go on twice as long. ‘Danasananas’ feels like dusk has just passed and he’s drawing in the night at a beachside soirée, gyrating with swole 808 bass and groggy leads laid down thick and low for those eazing into it or pacing themselves for the long haul.
Dan Abrams' third Shuttle358 album is a smudgy, horizontal collection of frothy laptop tones and carefully placed rhythmic glitches that's like SND making dub techno with Wolfgang Voigt, or Eno armed with a sampler and a bitcrusher.
Abrams' first two albums still stand as genre-defining classics. With 1999's "Optimal" and 2000's acclaimed "Frame" he asserted himself as one of the burgeoning microsound movement's grandmasters, and on "Chessa" he takes a victory lap. It's more placid than its predecessors, influenced by photography and space and allowing its richly processed loops to cook and transform slowly until they're fully embedded in the mind. The music is not quite ambient, but it takes cues from Eno's time-dilating "Music For Airports" and "On Land". Where Abrams veers left is in his digital treatments, where he chips away at viscous sounds with computer techniques that, when the music was released, were still relatively unheard. And while granular process are far more familiar in 2021, Abram's light touch and narcotic use of time is still bold and strikingly rare.
'Chessa' is calming, romantic and almost sugary sweet at times, but it refuses to fall into nostalgia or cheap manipulation. Abrams' compositions are subtle and affecting, and he chooses to work in the same heaving, atmospheric realm as Stefan Betke or Wolfgang Voigt, spiking his material with emotion simultaneously. It's a breath of fresh air after a decade or longer of cloying playlist ambient and lifeless hauntological nostalgia.
Ben Thomas aka BJNMN kill the lights to explore his alter ego, Body Portals in a self-released follow-up to a 2020 tape.
Brooding Reese bass, smoked-out vocal samples and reverberant electronics cloak skeletal rhythms strung out between industrial and trap dimensions, expressing far scuzzier feelings than we’ve heard in his previous projects (Singing Staues, 141, Jackhigh, Rewolf).
Picking up where his first Body Portal left off, ‘End Compass’ ventures into a sort of apocalypse-baiting void sound, embracing the darkside on handful of ritualistic productions. ‘Black Lake’ places his style in the nether fields of cloud rap and dark ambient with concentrated Reese bass sculpting and mantric vocal sample, and ’Stake Out’ dials up the noirish intrigue with cinematic appeal. ‘Without Order’ reprises the first track’s formal with a deeper burn, and ‘Hands UP’ introduces squashed dembow dancehall rhythm to his flex, with ‘Empty Facile’ straddling a fine line between Roly Porter-esque doom and the kind of possessed atmosphere conjured by Karim Maas.
Proper 2006 dubstep pressure resurfaces on digital format for the first time, saving steppers a few squid on 2nd hand vinyl copies
First issued in the summer of 2006 when the dance world went fucking nuts for big bad subs and woodblock drums, ‘Misty Winter’ stands as a prime example of Mala’s Digital Mystikz sound at the time. More commonly fronting the DMZ dances and radio shows, Crazy D here provides the wa wa waaa laments and rasta declarations over Mala’s scoop-troubling bass and natty drums, built spare and powerful in a way that only truly comes across with proper amplivication. Fuck the neighbours; rrrrun it!
Manchester’s deep drum dynamo Bethany Clements Patrick aka Clemency pares back to essentials for a 2nd turn with Finn’s 2 B Real
Taking cues from dub and bleep techno this time, Clemency follows up 2020 debut ‘References’ with an even more bare-boned approach, effectively desiccating the structures of UK bleep styles to a drily hypnotic, residual groove of resonant subbass and skeletal, flickering limbs on ‘Drum Circles Against Lamentation’ before depressing the tempo and upping the atmospheric quota with a darkly sublime tension in the creepy chug of ‘The Crude Foyer.’
Percussionist Ricardo La Forresta explores mesmerising permuations of drums and drones on another ace from the Superpang series
Hitting to our ears somewhere between the drum curious recordings of Valentina Magaletti, Eli Keszler, and Christos Chondropoulos; La Forresta’s works follow his aptly titled ‘Does The World Need Another Drum Solo’ (Yerevan tapes, 2019) LP and ‘Drummophone’ (Kohlhaas, 2020) side with three hypnotic examples of his free style, stretching out on the soporific drone and effervescent percussive invention of ’Soluzione di Continuità’, before contracting into the icier, crystalline formation of ’22 Colpi’ and reeling out zig-zagging clarinet lines on the motorik pulse of ‘Arpeggio.’
Originally released in 1980, 'Fairy Tale' is haunted, electrified prog, with flute, muted beatbox clicks and more synth wobbles than the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
Joel Vandroogenbroeck was a Belgian multi-instrumentalist who founded experimental rock band Brainticket and worked extensively with Swiss eccentric Bruno Spoerri. 'Fairy Tale' is a quirky, short composition that sounds as if it's improvised around a simple click track - echoing flute twists around acoustic guitar plucks sounding as if the pied piper of Hamelin is about to hypnotize the town's children.
Properly wacky progxotica that nudges itself into the Finders Keepers/Ghost Box axis without drifting into parody.
Legendary NYC Downtown trombone player Peter Zummo handles the moving, minimal soundtrack to Andy Kelleher’s debut fictional movie "Second Spring". Uneasy, jazzy and moody without resorting to corny tropes, it's a stunning set from the Arthur Russell collaborator and ex Lounge Lizard.
Zummo is probably best known for adding his trombone to Arthur Russell's beloved catalogue, but he's done way more than that, playing alongside Philip Corner, Phill Niblock, Pauline Oliveros, Annea Lockwood, and more recently with JD Twitch, Oliver Coates and Bass Clef. His skeletal score for "Second Spring" is more than just a set of cues, and is a deep, involving experience whether you've seen the movie or not.
The trombone takes center stage, of course, but Zummo is joined by Bill Ruyle on hammer dulcimer and percussion and Ernie Brooks on bass. The result is a record that simmers in Zummo's particular strain of Downtown minimalism but never veers into parody. One for late night sessions, for sure.
Downtown NYC innovator and notorious turntablist David Shea scores Belgian writer/director Herrman Asselberghs' "AM/PM" with a selection of computer and acoustic instruments, creating shifting clouds of disorienting drone, noise and ambience.
A pupil of Morton Feldman and a well-known John Zorn-collaborator, as well as a DJ, teacher and influential artist, David Shea has lived many lives already. His latest series of releases is a collection of soundtracks from film, video game and media projects, the first of which is this unsettling score to Herrman Asselberghs' "AM/PM". Asselberghs was inspired by Chris Marker's defining 1962 film "La Jetée", using still photographs and slow motion tracking shots with dialog that dealt with the emotional impact of global media and terrorism. So you can probably imagine that the music isn't exactly upbeat.
Shea's treatment is pitch black, a combination of acoustic instruments - percussion, brass, strings, piano - and noisy computer elements that sounds as fresh as it does unsettling. The loosely orchestral elements direct our minds into soundtrack mode, but we're never allowed to get comfortable. As soon as brassy wails or rolling piano notes suggest a Bernard Herrmann or John Williams score, Shea adds waves of uncomfortable synthetic noise or groaning dark ambience. It's an ideal treatment given the subject matter, just make sure to keep the lights on.
Veteran midwest US techno producer Dustin Zahn (Modz) crosses paths with UK bastion Blueprint
Exactly the kind of tackle one might expect to hear in a James Ruskin DJ set, ‘Hand Over Control’ sees Zahn cede authority to his machines, following five sequences of coldly stealthy techno between the hollow pipe strikes of the title tune, thru the chromatic pulses of ‘Rising Tides’ to the Silent Servant-esque shuffle and hip-shot lasers of ‘Studio 5/4’, and the chord-riding Detroit styles of ‘Wet Hot Heat.’
From Will Long:
"It was months ago, but it could have been weeks, days, or even hours since then. I stopped wanting to hear loops, I wanted to stop it. I added brass; trumpets, trombones, and more horns. I cut it out like words from a book, and sewed it back together. Burroughs. These movements are merely to stay alive, to stay moving.
You wake up from a truck horn passing in the early morning hours on the nearby freeway, or from a dream that you can't tell was a nightmare or a loving memory.
Someone walks by on the street wearing the same perfume. I drew out each place, each scene, and put the story there. It might have been with you, or without you. All I know is that you were there somehow the whole time, even if you weren't.
I saw rainbows from under the bridge by the river, and the sun shot up through the clouds of the golden hour. It didn't help, and there was no one around. Your chest is even with your knees, and you're sitting in the dirt. The sun keeps going down, and eventually you make your way home. It's not very much the same as it was anymore. The horns are deafening, but after, the echoes let me see the way away.
The light keeps coming, and it keeps going. Songs of surroundings, the silent, the heartbeats, the tears. We've all had them, and we'll never be rid of them."
Brooding autonomic D&B styles from established and new players corralled by Jon Convex’s CNVX sublabel of Convex Industries
To save you some time we’ll direct you to the good stuff; check for the glyding halfstep bass and blue vox of Sal with Need For Mirrors on ‘Verbal,’ also the needlepoint stepper ‘Loose Lips’ from Lao Wai, and Vex Seven’s clinically sharp drums.
Boston jungle/breakcore vet Dev/Null dusts off his ample break collection on this snappy oldskool cut that welds digidub rudeness with rapid-fire timestretched breaks that bear all the hallmarks of a true scientist. Extra.
Dev/Null's been at it since before most of y'all were born, and 'Time 2 Rhyme' proves beyond any doubt that his encyclopedic rave knowhow is still being channeled into explorative spaces. With a booming 1980s dub throb and chipmunked vocals, 'Time 2 Rhyme' is universes apart from the contemporary crop of tepid dnb. This is a grubby pill muncher's anthem, and you can practically hear the sampler running out of memory as the loops crackle under the pressure. Burnt 'n toasted.
Anthony Naples kicks back and listens to the grass growing on a plush new album suite of beatdown ambient and AOR-style guitar bliss-outs, smushing our temples with a brand of hazy magick somewhere between The KLF’s Chill Out album, BoC, Huerco S.’ Pendant, and the cult Express Rising albums.
Shimmering with iridescent strums and loosely harnessed to stumbling drums, Naples’ 3rd album ‘Chameleon’ is defined by a marked difference to the micro-house dub tech of its predecessor ‘Fog FM.’ It’s music for the dying embers of summer, heralding longer evenings with a carefully toned collection of 12 tracks that refine the sehnsucht of his sound into woozier shapes puckered with bluesy melodic cadence and squinted with a kosmiche gaze. For anyone following the NYC-based artist thus far, it’s surely a richly rewarding new extension of his sound that lends itself to lonesome strolls and porchside pipe puffing alike.
One might not guess it from the accomplished quality of the music, but this is the first time Naples wrote music for instruments first, following his nose for a style of lissom ambient reverie that’s perhaps the most spirited and distinguished since he debuted nearly a decade ago with Mister Saturday Night Records and helped shape a new movement of para-deep house and ambient from USA via some dozen singles with everyone from The Trilogy Tapes to his own labels, Proibito and ANS.
Working to a masterful sunday night sound, if you will, ‘Chameleon’ sprawls out with arpeggiated tendrils and searching guitars lines from the faded lean of ‘Primo’ to the early ‘90s ambient bop of ‘I Don’t Know If That’s Just Dreaming’ , laying down syrupy sweet soul in ‘Devotion (SSL Mix)’ and swaying from the crooked hip hop drums of ‘Chameleon’ recalling Dante Carfanga’s Express Rising project, to amorphous chromatic whorls reminding of BoC’s wow and flutter in ‘Bug’ and ‘Hydra’, with exquisite vignettes like ‘Full O’ Stars’ and the thizz of ‘Sizzlin’ epitomising its low-key but heady ephemeral nature.
Smart electro and techno from San Fran’s Jack Murphy, taking matters into his own hands on the freshly minted Knowing Something label after shots fired on Frozen Border’s Reference, Jack For Daze and DBA Special Editions, and an inclusion on Ryan Elliott’s Fabric mix.
Haze starts up on a sulky electro-dub lurch with a fine mix of melted synth drips and crisp drum patterns, before charging up the spacious designs of Wolfie Home (PPP Mix) with 2-stepping syncopation attempting to keep upright against the force of his keening subs.
Turn it over and Third Character works a very impressive sort of latinate shuffle and swing haunted by swarming, acephalic voices, and XLXD 3 leaves you with clipped, skittish electro torque compatible with Objekt.
This collection of damaged subsonic headmelters was originally released back in 2001 under the CTI moniker, and used Carter's 1970s and '80s Throbbing Gristle rhythm tapes to inspire industrial vignettes that have been used on countless installations, TV ads and Hollywood movie trailers since. Still so far ahead of the game - frozen ambient void soundtrax.
This second collection of ambient reworks takes his pioneering Throbbing Gristle sounds into a sub-aquatic cave of watery textures, rumbling sheet subs and chattering alien echoes. It's not drone material by any means - Carter retains the rhythmic push of his TG beat tapes, but flexes them in dilated time, reminding of Thomas Köner or Kevin Drumm.
Tracks don't so much play from beginning to end as twist thru the perceived audio field like weightless blunt smoke diving between hi-frequency whirrs and lo-end growls. It's music that can pretty much only be enjoyed on a decent set of speakers or headphones - the original release read "not mono compatible" and "contains sub-sonics and resonant frequencies which lower specified audio apparatus may find difficult to faithfully reproduce".
But if you're in possession of a half-decent setup you're in for a treat. There are few artists who possess Carter's wizardry working in this mode. As a pioneer he changed the game, but he also rarely repeatshimself. Billed as "ambient remixes", these eerie versions are several steps removed from the cloying ambient music that clogs up playlists and soundtracks. Carter's take on the genre exists in negative space and hinges on dub flavor, hypnotic texture and pure sonic confusion. It's next level shit, from beginning to end.
Jersey-born beatmaker JWords teams up with Brooklyn rapper maassai on "ve·loc·i·ty", a confident DIY back-n-forth that stirs Jersey club and neo-boom bap flavors into a formidable, coherent narrative that's socially motivated, tripped-out and heavy as hell.
Within a few seconds of opening track 'antisocial', it's immediately clear that the rapper-producer duo have a special relationship. Jwords' focused, experimental beats provide a sandbox for maassai's flexible free-associations, and while the tracks peer fondly at Brooklyn's hip-hop history, there's always a sense that H31R are ushering us into a new era. So when a dusty, cinematic phrase loops into view on 'precious silence', it might at first point to Brooklyn OGs Mobb Deep or more recently Ka, but the track quickly mutates into an angular club banger, guided by maassai's unique, throaty rhymes.
H31R's skill is in maintaining a balance between the sample heavy rawness of boom bap and the nebulous, genre-fluxing futurism of New York City and nearby Jersey's headline-catching club pep. Thankfully, maassai's voice is the constant throughout, and she links JWords' genre-agnostic beat experiments with an ease that suggests a keen ear. Whether talking about creative freedom on the low 'n slow 'whatweleftwith' or rhyming over hard-hitting house on 'big luv' and edgy, overdriven dnb on 'heavy on my crown', she sounds completely in her element.
Recorded when she was just 22, Nala Sinephro's debut album casts a potent spell, animating her harp, guitar and modular synth compositions with sturdy rhythms and horns. It's jazz that exists very much in the present, as much related to Rune Grammofon and ECM's surreal minimalism as Alice Coltrane's devotional bliss. V good!
London-based Sinephro can rightly be identified as a prodigy. The tracks - numbered from one to eight and all simply called 'Space' - feel like chapters in a book, each part of a living, breathing whole. They might introduce new sounds or feature different guest players, but the vision is Sinephro's, and she channels her interest in electronic music as well as in vintage and contemporary jazz into a record that's complex, physical and absorbing.
Fascinated by spontaneity and psychoacoustic recording techniques, she refused to use a set tuning or BPM to keep the album as raw as possible, and used frequencies emitted by a black hole (a Bb note 57 octaves below middle C, if yer interested) to guide her concept. So the title is layered, it speaks to her cosmic interests as well as the recording process, leading the album to sound like a meditation on the sounds around us and our preconceptions of jazz. It's not an album that's capsized by experimental posturing though, it's a warm embrace and as loose and jubilant as '50s harp legend Dorothy Ashby.
From the sunny electronic ambience and birdsong of opener 'Space 1', Sinephro brings in Lyle Barton’s evocative piano expression, low resonant tenor sax from James Mollison, and Shirley Tetteh's gentle guitar. On 'Space 3', we shift gears with a clip from a three-hour (!) improv with Sons of Kemet drummer Eddie Hick, all fractured rhythm and gurgling sci-fi synth mayhem that sounds like a lost session from Italian giallo synth prog legends Goblin. 'Space 5' is more psychedelic and soupy, layering loops and electronic drones over fragrant harp improvisations and uneasy, filtered rhythms.
Everything builds slowly and cautiously until the album's epic 17-minute final track, 'Space 8', where all of Sinephro's ideas and compositional idiosyncrasies are laid bare. A blend of lilting romance and stargazing wonder, it cautiously melts from warm ambience into melancholy, horn-led psychedelia.
UK bass mutants Wisdom Teeth return with a label debut by Dublin’s Sputnik One
Building on a string of 12”s dished up, one a year, since 2018’s ‘Return’, Sputnik One’s 5th entry docks with good company on K-Lone and Facta’s label, where he’s free to explore his versatility between the restlessly bubbling arps and tinny swing of ‘Microbead’ along with rolling tekkers recalling Clemency on the title tune, before twisting into more distinctive uptempo styles with the scurrying footwork of ‘Michael Cera’ reminding of 96 Back workouts, and ‘Powder’ stepping off on a cutely animated sort of jungle stepper somewhere between Foodman and Proc Fiskal.
The fifth album-length collaboration between acclaimed poet Susan Howe and Gastr del Sol's David Grubbs, 'Concordance' is the duo's most minimal set to date, paring their sound down to just piano and voice to accent Howe's transcendent poetry.
It's Howe's distinctive voice that ignites her fifteen years of collaboration with Grubbs. When they started working together, she was already a well established poet and critic, but her work with Grubbs has taken her poems to another level and not just because they could now be presented with musical accompaniment; when performing with Grubbs, Howe's words take a certain tone and the delivery itself becomes a central part of the experience. This quality sits at the center of "Concordance", with Grubbs allowing his instrumentation and processing to slip into a minimalist backdrop.
Here, Grubbs' piano trails off slowly with unhurried reverberation, never taking focus away from Howe's well-sculpted vocal complexity. Her poems could exist without music at all, but alongside Grubbs, he words are given an illumination that's both fitting and transcendent.
Aleksi Perälä’s Ovuca returns for the first time in 10 years with a fascinating exploration of syncopated rhythms and the colundi scale, in key with all AP Musik releases
Returning to one of his earliest projects, as released on Rephlex, the results are straighter and more technoid than we’d come to expect from memories of Ovuca’s drill ’n bass styles. The breaks are still there, but slower and organised in more rolling, lissom forms recalling PWOG’s extended early ‘90s treks, heading off on durational missions that range between 9 and 15 minutes each.
We may be overreaching here, but it’s maybe possible to hear some link to Persian tombak drum styles and microtones across the EP, swept in subtle permutations of groove between the swaying opener and the mesmerising 2nd piece, with classic Ovuca/Astrobotnia pads detectable on the third, whereas track 4 tweaks out a driving sort of Chicago house via Ø and Dabke styles, and the closer bends harder to a minimal bleep techno style akin to Pan Sonic.
Nomadic drum outlaw Stefan Schwander hitches his wagon to Bureau B again for a strong follow-up to the streamlined contours of ‘Plong’
For over ten years Harmonious Thelonious has ploughed a singular, strident path thru a plethora of outernational percussive styles, distilled into his own groove. With ‘Instrumentals’ he follows the subtle readjustments of 2020’s mesmerising ‘Plong’ album with a greater focus on effortlessly rolling structures, consolidating a world of influence from Pan African, South American, Antipodean and Middle Eastern percussive styles with a proper, fine-tuned sort of minimalist, motorik German suss rooted in the perpetual electronic drive of his native Düsseldorf.
Oblivious to trend, the eight supple fusions drums and widescreen flatland atmospheres are a very canny exercise in rhythmic world building, articulated in a drum language bound to be understood by moving bodies. With no tricks or stunts, or less gritty textures than early works, the tracks flow with a glistening quality, unfolding in nuanced permutations of sultry, tango-like elegance on ‘Beiläufige Muziek’, or knitting thumb piano-like rhythmelodies and pealing horns into swingeing syncopation on ‘Halb Ding’ and ‘Apakapa’, while saving a massive highlight for the heads down and shoulder bouncing ‘Yusuf’, which appears to imagine an elision of indigenous Australian and Kurdish Dabke reference points to our ears.
Pure fire from Analog Africa; 16 incendiary examples of ‘Cameroon Garage Funk’ furtively recorded in a church due to lack of facilities elsewhere. Do not sleep on big ones such as Damas Swing Orchestra’s swaggering soul bomb ‘Odylife’ with its crowd cheers, the calypso meets surf guitar rug shredder from Charles Lembe et son Orchestra, and James Brownian badness of Pierre Didy Tchakounte or Los Camaroes
“Yaoundé, in the 1970´s, was a buzzing place. Every neighbourhood of Cameroon´s capital, no matter how dodgy, was filled with music spots but surprisingly there were no infrastructure to immortalise those musical riches. The country suffered from a serious lack of proper recording facilities, and the process of committing your song to tape could become a whole adventure unto itself. Of course, you could always book the national broadcasting company together with a sound engineer, but this was hardly an option for underground artists with no cash. But luckily an alternative option emerged in form of an adventist church with some good recording equipment and many of the artists on this compilation recorded their first few songs, secretly, in these premises thanks to Monsieur Awono, the church engineer. He knew the schedule of the priests and, in exchange for some cash, he would arrange recording sessions. The artists still had to bring their own equipment, and since there was only one microphone, the amps and instruments had to be positioned perfectly. It was a risky business for everyone involved but since they knew they were making history, it was all worth it.
At the end of the recording, the master reel would be handed to whoever had paid for the session, usually the artist himself..and what happened next? With no distribution nor recording companies around this was a legitimate question. More often then not it was the french label Sonafric that would offer their manufacturing and distribution structure and many Cameroonian artist used that platform to kickstart their career. What is particularly surprising in the case of Sonafric was their willingness to take chances and judge music solely on their merit rather than their commercial viability. The sheer amount of seriously crazy music released also spoke volumes about the openness of the people behind the label.
But who exactly are these artists that recorded one or two songs before disappearing, never to be heard from again? Some of the names were so obscure that even the most seasoned veterans of the Cameroonian music scene had never heard of them. A few trips to the land of Makossa and many more hours of interviews were necessary to get enough insight to assemble the puzzle-pieces of Yaoundé’s buzzing 1970s music scene. We learned that despite the myriad difficulties involved in the simple process of making and releasing a record, the musicians of Yaoundé’s underground music scene left behind an extraordinary legacy of raw grooves and magnificent tunes.
The songs may have been recorded in a church, with a single microphone in the span of only an hour or two, but the fact that we still pay attention to these great creations some 50 years later, only illustrates the timelessness of their music.”
Dntel returns with a collection of 10 pop-infused vocal hymns. "Away" is the second of two Dntel albums to be released in 2021 by Morr Music in collaboration with Les Albums Claus.
"Jimmy Tamborello AKA Dntel is a musician who changed pop music forever – and still works in this never-ending labour of love, both effortless and highly focused, constantly tweaking the universe of our musical perception. Whether beatless or uncompromisingly embracing the limelight of collective ecstasy with one of his most remembered tunes "(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan", his almost forgotten anthem "Don’t Get Your Hopes Up" or his work as James Figurine. "Away" features 10 of these extravaganzas – uniting his audience once more in hope and future-bound optimism.
"I grew up with 80s techno-pop – these influences always come through in my music", Jimmy writes from Los Angeles. For this album, though, "I was thinking more of 80s indie pop or labels like 4AD. It is a mix of those influences along with trying to figure out what elements of my own discography I still connect with. I wanted it to reflect old Dntel records as well as the techno-pop band Figurine I used to be in. I have always considered my music basically being techno-pop, but not referring to pop as popular music – I just like pretty melodies. But with the Dntel moniker, I never had the ambition to produce music for a really big audience.”
It is exactly that looseness in approaching music which makes Tamborello’s style of composing so unique. On "Away" he combines a healthy dose of distortion with the most-sticking melodies, vocals and bitter-sweet lyrics he ever came up with – performing all vocals himself, with the help of technology. "My voice has a limited range. When I applied this vocal processing it seemed to bring out the emotions more. I don’t see it as the same as the more artificial, autotuned style of modern pop music. I think it still sounds like it could be a real person singing, just not me."
Using this technique, Dntel disembodies himself from his own art, welcoming all kinds of interpretations re. his current state as an artist. "Somehow this processed voice feels closer to how I see myself than my normal voice, for better or worse…", he writes. Pop music is a fragile entity, making its kingpins vulnerable. Many emotions reveal a lot of the originator’s personality –this is something one has to be prepared for. On "Away", Jimmy Tamborello finds the perfect way of marrying his unique musical personality with both the demands and possibilities of pop music. Just listen to "Connect" and you’ll know what we’re talking about. A perfect, yet timeless album for less than perfect times."
Bay Area duo Wonja Fairbrother and Daniel Letson (DJML) spin careful, skeletal ambient dance pop on 'Colocate', their second full-length. Influenced by city pop, skeletal house, new age and gentle idm, RIYL Driftmachine, Newworldaquarium, Hieroglyphic Being, Visible Cloaks...
It took Fairbrother and Letson some time to put together 'Colocate' and their slow and steady methodology drips from the pores of each track; nothing is showy or overworked, everything careful and intentional. Staying free from metered timing to give the rhythms a more human touch, the recordings combine with gentle field recordings (church bells in Freiburg, cicadas in Lousiville) and lo-fi sampling techniques for an out of time effect.
The influence of Japanese city pop - think YMO or Tatsuro Yamashita - is the most obvious initial reference, but even this is obscured by smart nods to dub techno, minimal house and shimmering new age music. Opening track 'Radiolarite' initially sounds as if it's going to mimic the environmental ambience of Hiroshi Yoshimura with its croaking insect sounds and staccato xylophone, but soon develops into a jerky shuffle that's painted with distant synths and a foggy dubwise throb.
'Misplaced Ceiling' sounds like T++ or Parris reworked using a general MIDI sound module, while 'Gaze Brace' is as funky, low-slung and sultry as anything on Italians Do It Better, but utilizes an almost inverted rhythm with no obvious kick drum. Minimalism doesn't have to be soulless, and Fairbrother and Letson inject enough humanity into their subtly evolving productions they they fill brimming with feeling.
Vital narrative-led field recording work captured in the Amazon rainforest by Aussie recordist and Room40 boss Lawrence English. Utterly captivating stuff that places us in the center of a misunderstood part of the world and allows us to appreciate its rare, complex beauty.
While English is likely best known at this point for his transcendent and ear-splitting drone plates like "Wilderness of Mirrors" and "Cruel Optimism", it's his understated field recordings that have always fascinated us most. "A Mirror Holds The Sky" is a selection of untreated recordings gathered in 2008 in the Amazon over a period of several weeks, chopped down from over fifty hours of audio. It's layered, textured sound that's as mind-alteringly elaborate as any pioneering electronic work (think Morton Subotnick or latter-day Autechre) but exists completely in the natural realm.
'The Jungle' eases us into a world that might be familiar to anyone who's spent significant time with Werner Herzog's "Aguirre" or "Fitzcarraldo". The Screaming Phia takes a lead role here, calling indiscreetly over the hum and buzz of insects and other birds. But as the album digs further into the rainforest, more unfamiliar sounds are unearthed. 'The River' seems to exist both underneath and above the water, capturing the swirl of insects that flutter on the surface. 'The Island' is more unsettling still, with implacable animal gurgles that build into a chorus of groaning, dissonant rasps noisier and more desolate than any noise tape.
On 'The Shore', innumerable insects fashion layers of hypnotizing drone that lull you into near meditation, while 'The Tower' magnifies these sounds further, breaking the illusion. The record is constructed so perfectly; English works like a documentary filmmaker, using real life footage but forming a narrative anybody can hook themselves into.
It's a towering work from a consistently engaging artist that truly celebrates the raw sonic power of the natural world - and is an album to file alongside Chris Watson’s still incomprehensible/incomparable 'Outside The Circle Of Fire’ - it’s that good.
Russian producer Vladimir Karpov dives headfirst into the fourth world on 'Anciente', evoking the humidity of the rainforest with two lengthy collisions of trippy percussion, fuzzy analog synthesis and hazed environmental recordings. On the Jon Hassell, Visible Cloaks, Emeralds tip for sure.
With releases on Not Not Fun and Constellation Tatsu, Karpov has built up a sturdy reputation in the nu new age scene. "Anciente" might be his most convincing set to date though, focusing the heady psychedelic experiments of his last decade into two 20-minute explorations into utopian daydreaming and meditative fourth world moods.
Both tracks adopt a similar fusion of slow, human rhythms, waved-out pads and picturesque field recording, but the album rarely overstays its welcome as Karpov obsesses over the repetition and world-building. Loops don't just repeat, they grow and flow like a mystical stream through an unfamiliar land; the music grips you and drags you through its psychedelic spiral and there's little left to do but lie back and enjoy the trip.
Techno’s answer to Basquiat scrawls freehand bangers and a smudged 16 minute scape on his first mission since those badass releases for DDS a few years ago
Yielding his first new material for a bit, the title of ’Str8 Crooked’ perfectly sums up Madteo’s loose-limbed irregularities squashed within. Picking up where he left off with the skewed techno boogies of the ‘Dropped Out Sunshine’, 'teo reaches deep in the top pocket for the wickedly scrappy log drums and rug-shredding syncopations of the title track before evening the keel with the rough hewn heft of his slompy jakbeat drums and unexpected pass-outs in ‘Build Back better Sweatshops.’
However, his magick best comes to the fore on ‘Episcopi Vagantes’ as he sprawls out over its 16 minute canvas with aerosolised pads, scribbly electronic voices and gasping dub chords that sound best if you take a step back, and squint a little, to properly take in its gently delirious form.
Tip, innit just!
Montreal art rockers Suuns follow last year's hazed and phased EP "Fiction" with a more substantial, electronic and skeletal collection of timewarping sounds and ideas.
'The Witness' might be Suuns' chilliest, most anxious set yet. Its 7-minute opener sounds closer to a Radiophonic Workshop jam or a 1970s documentary soundtrack than anything from the band's back catalogue, with talkbox vocals only breaking the squishy wall of analog synth at the midway point. It's a curious choice, but works well, coming across like a prog rock power move rather than post-Radiohead avant electronic posturing.
The band's stoner rock cred is still more than intact. Vocals are rubbery and harmonized, often slapped across inverted rhythms or over slithering industrial synth arpeggios, sounding like Jean-Michel Jarre or John Carpenter, but lifted into Beach Boys territory. The sloppy noisiness of their previous records is still present in spirit, but now a DIY electronic spirit is the primary focus, and on angular, druggy tracks like 'Timebender' and 'Go To My Head' it really works.
‘Sex’ is the 2nd exhibition soundtrack release by internationally acclaimed artist Anne Imhof, with Eliza Douglas and Billy Bultheel, following their soundtrack to the Golden Lion-awarded ‘Faust’ exhibition at the 2017 Venice Biennale
Combining dark, piano-led lieder, industrial prang outs, and grungy harpsichord works, the soundtrack to ‘Sex’ is every bit as strange and beguiling as ‘Faust’, again utilising Imhof’s Nico-esque vocals in ravishingly emotive, stately yet punkish style. The soundtrack was conceived in 2019 as one aspect of a much larger exhibit including paintings, sculptures, objects and architectural elements, and appears here reworked to spec for release, prior to its premiere performances at Imhof’s first dedicated Italian installation at Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin, and later in Rome.
Part of a trilogy with ‘Angst’ (2016) and ‘Faust’ (2017), the soundtrack to ‘Sex’ occupies similarly lofty ground between polyphonic antiquity and the fractious complexity of the modern day, building an imaginary world where Imhof’s innovative vocals can best express her disenchantment with social meditation and the alienation of an atomised society obeying physical distancing, but still narcissistic and needy.
With proper poetic clout Imhof and her collaborators construct an ambitious staging for the songs, which aren’t necessarily “sexy”, but are rather brooding and lamenting, sweeping from the elegiac keen of ‘Helmet Waltz’ to the stark bombast of ‘Pretty People’ via standout parts of grungy chamber music in ‘Bullshit Song’ co-produced by Ville Haimaia (Amnesia Scanner), and the industrial eruptions of its ‘Moshpit’ parts, with striking choral arrangements in ‘Prince Waltz’ and Anne at her most poised in ‘Dark Times.’
The architect engineer of Industrial music, Chris Carter (TG, X-TG, CTI, Chris & Cosey) turns classic early works inside out in an Electronic Ambient style on the first of reissued volumes with Mute.
Effectively rendering his seminal solo debut album ‘The Space Between’ in hyperspace, Carter measures distance travelled between the end of the ‘70s and 2000AD with ‘Electronic Ambient Remixes One.’ Originally issued under the CTI alias that he shares with creative and life partner Cosey Fanni Tutti, the album exemplifies his switch from angular manipulations of bespoke hardware to a mixture of hardware and computer-based systems, practically melting the tensile hard edges of his early classics with infinitely smooth gradients and more sensual pulses that reset their meaning from club and living room laboratories to a headier abstract metaspace.
For anyone familiar with Carter’s 1980 debut album, it’s all the more remarkable to hear those tracks utterly transformed and transposed into their reflections here. Unrecognisable from the originals, Carter translates their original post-Industrial vernacular into an alien language of vaporous signs and suggestive textures, dematerialising any semblance of fixed structure in favour of sheer amorphousness and floating amniotic sensation somewhere between lush and unheimlich. But for anyone unfamiliar with the originals, we’d even advise doing them in reverse chronology to hear what were once deeply futuristic forms emerge from Ur flux and vice versa.