Fans of all good music to come out of Scotland will be familiar with the name Aidan Moffat. A stalwart of Glasgow, one half of Arab Strap and Scottish Album Of The Year winner - among many other accolades - joins fellow SAY Award winner and Chemikal Underground labelmate RM Hubbert for this new album, this time out on Mogwai’s Rock Action Records.
"The album features guest appearances from fellow Glaswegian Siobhan Wilson, who sings and plays cello (and who released her own ‘There Are No Saints’ album last year to great acclaim); Louisville, Kentucky’s Rachel Grimes on piano; and veteran jazz saxophonist John Burgess."
“Sarah Louise’s music is spiritually and tangibly set apart from her peers’, her 12-string compositions culled from birdsong and rivers as well as the sacred drone of Appalachian folk music.” - NPR Music (Songs We Love)
"Praised by Pitchfork as “one of the most exciting figures in solo guitar music,” masterful 12-string guitarist and vocalist Sarah Louise integrates elements of drone, spiritual jazz and minimalism into her compositions. Her Thrill Jockey debut ‘Deeper Woods’ is her first album to prominently feature her voice. Louise enriches her warm singular vocal sound with a lush variety of instruments as well as layers of harmonies that together create a tapestry of texture. ‘Deeper Woods’ features performances by Louise’s House And Land bandmate and Steve Gunn collaborator Sally Anne Morgan, as well as drummer Thom Nguyen and Jason Meagher (Black Dirt Studios), who also mixed the album. Louise has toured extensively over the past year both solo and with House And Land. 2018 will see an appearance at Pickathon Festival as well as continued touring."
Mount Kimbie bring out the European big guns to rework their Love What Survives album for the gurners.
Marcel Dettmann rolls Four Years And One Day right off the bone for a killer sort of grey area techno pressure leading up to a shoegazing squall, whereas Gerd Janson reframes the same original elements as a tuff acid house groove.
The flipside is given to Ellen Allien and her U.F.O remix of T.A.M.E.D, cut at 45rpm for optimal bass traction in trademark, rolling and jacking style.
Astral Projection is the first full length ASC album for the Horo label.
"Astral Projection follows on clearly from ‘Imagine The Future’ with the development of the Grey Area sound progressing and becoming intrinsic to a large majority of ASC’s current work. But this LP is not a Grey Area addendum, Astral Projection is a luminous artistic statement from a sonic perfectionist who the term ‘sound designer’ was made to define.
An accomplished and much respected ambient producer, ASC weaves his talent for soaring emotive soundscapes with his undeniable rhythmic prowess across a cohesive 12 track sonic voyage that again accomplishes a rare goal in todays electronic music landscape - a commanding listen from beginning to end. Very few artists are as prolific and consistent as ASC, but we are confident Astral Projection will be revered as one of his finest moments in years to come.”
On their follow up to 2016’s acclaimed ‘No One Deserves Happiness’, the Portland duo of Lee Buford and Chip King conjure the sublime from the unexpected by turning their compositional approach on its head.
"The Body continue to defy the constraints of what it means to be a ‘heavy’ band, seamlessly combining diverse influences for an utterly singular sound. The album’s contributors include Kristin Hayter (Lingua Ignota), Michael Berdan (Uniform) and Ben Eberle (Sandworm), as well as frequent collaborator Chrissy Wolpert (Assembly of Light Choir). Production was handled by Machines With Magnets (Lightning Bolt, Battles).
The Body transcend musical boundaries. Their ambitious creativity shapes their bleak worldview into propulsive, affecting, and even danceable music often drenched in distortion."
Carla Bozulich is diversely experimental, uncompromising and continues to be ceaselessly devoted to mixing art-punk ethics and creativity.
"Here, with Quieter, is an intensely emotive, intuitive, enchantingly cohesive collection of previously orphaned and one-off tracks where, uncharacteristically, nothing ever quite screams. Carla’s way with a fleshy edge remains sharp as ever. A couple of these are left over from the bountifully productive sessions from her brilliant and widely-acclaimed 2014 album Boy; others featuring collaborations with the likes of Marc Ribot, Sarah Lipstate (Noveller), Freddy Ruppert, JHNO (John Eichenseer), Shahzad Ismaily and more.
Quieter is the result of this ceaselessly nomadic and defiantly DIY iconoclast having settled back in Los Angeles for a spell, recovering from tour-inflicted ear damage, sifting through unreleased/unfinished material, and finding herself drawn to working on the quieter stuff (relatively speaking) in her abundant archives. Ranging from the searching, searing opener "Let It Roll" - "the most honest work I've ever done" says Carla - to the chiming, deconstructed lullabies of "Glass House" (composed by Ruppert) and "Sha Sha" (from her mid-2000s project The Night Porter) and the album's sultry closing track "End Of The World"(a duet with Marc Ribot, who penned the song), Quieter is a brilliant addition to Bozulich's impressively diverse, adventurous, and unwaveringly authentic body of work.”
Epic D&B charges from metalheadz for the nu skool crews
Going on with splashy breaks, big-lunged vocals and massive, distorted B-line pressure in Piano, Vocal, Drum, and tighter 2-step rolige on the B-side’s Subtleties (Album Sampler Exclusive).
Low-key, slippery Bristol business from Facta
Cutting neat rug in between Parris and Peverelist styles with the avian chirrups and needlepoint tics of Dumb Hummer, then teasing a solitary vocal motif around hypnotic, vaporous jazz chords and swinging percussion recalling Joe or Airhead product in All The Time.
Sully operates at his very, very best on these junglist diamonds delivered thru his newly minted label; Uncertain Hour.
The level of beat breaking dexterity and arrangement are just breathtaking on Vacancy, and comparable only with the best Dillinja, Photek or Source Direct gear.
Likewise, Digitalis is shocking in its clarity and faithfulness to the craft, subtly updating his beloved jungle frameworks with a blend of classicism and razor-edge modernity that’s flooring us right now.
A total collector’s fancy from 1990, the hypnotic percussions of ‘Elephant’s Easy Moonwalk Through The Night’ finds an ideal new home on Bernd Friedmann’s nonplace.
Drum nuts, dancers and ersatz ethnomusicologists will have a field day with this one.
Canada’s Tess Roby makes her long touted IDIB début, poised between dusky balearic romance and waking dream pop, with just a touch of folk-wise new age diva about her.
Quite remarkably for an IDIB releases, the hand of Johnny Jewel is unusually absent apart from some mixing treatment on Ballad 5. The rest of the record is written and produced by Toronto/Montreal’s Roby, whose measured vocals are the centrepiece of each cut, variously framed against languid Yacht boogie vibes in Given Signs, or most beautifully buoyed by creamy chromatic arps in Catalyst, and like Nico meets Tangerine Dream on the album’s exceptional parting missive, Borders.
"The Beacon crowns Ashurst Hill in Dalton, Lancashire, looming over the verdant English countryside nearly six hundred feet above sea level. This spartan brick monolith was erected in 1798 as a watch tower to warn of French invasion during the Napoleonic War — and there it silently remains, keeping infinite vigil. It stands in Tess Roby’s mind. The Beacon calls to her. “Throughout my life I have felt the pull to return to it,” she says. “I’m beckoned by father’s roots and by the sullen landscape of fields leading to the coast.”
Tess Roby is an artist with a vision. The Montreal-based photographer and musician, an eight-year veteran of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company, seems utterly original, moving with a restless energy toward the sublime. Her sound betrays an intrepid longing to discover and explore, to reject convention and transcend cliché: Roby is a born traveller, absorbing everything she hears and making it new. Ethereal and crystalline, bathed sumptuously in synths, her music is heady, dreamy, singular — a transmission from parts unknown. The classical training and aesthetic omnivorousness combine like worlds colliding.
Roby’s debut album Beacon was written in 2015, following the death of her father. She collaborated with her brother Eliot to create what they describe as a kind of spiritual homage — both to her father and to the Beacon, where the family travelled often. Roby recorded these songs with the drum machines and synthesizers she found in her father’s recording studio, and galvanized by his spirit she imbued the music with love, movement, whispers, memories, and pain. “All the while the Beacon remained effervescent in my mind,” Roby remembers. “Visions of it ablaze on the hilltop, standing motionless while I searched for understanding.”
A remarkable dream described in sound and song, ‘Un Beau Matin: Areski’ is an important and singular slice of the French avant garde recorded in 1970, following Areski and his wife Brigitte Fontaine’s album with Art Ensemble Of Chicago. This LP clearly paved the way for artists such as Ghédalia Tazartès or ÉLG, and crucially incorporates African elements in a way that feels natural, not forced or pasted-on. A stunning vintage classic
“Souffle Continu Records present the first ever reissue of Areski's Un Beau Matin, originally released in 1970. Only those who read all the credits on record liner notes will know the full details: Areski is of course Brigitte Fontaine's partner in life, but also her creative alter ego, and the composer of the music of most of her songs. Even though it was his wife Brigitte and not him who wrote the lyrics, Areski is a poet in his own right. Furthermore, he is polyvalent: composing, arranging, singing, improvising, playing every possible instrument, and even acting. Areski, to sum up, is the perfect mix of the tradition of Munir Bashir with the European "sophistication" of someone like Jean-Claude Vannier, one foot permanently in Versailles (where he was born) and the maghreb.
Areski, is left bank French songs without the stylistic effects, revised and updated through contact with Arab-Andalusian music. He is a Living Theatre style happening with a dose of cosmic free jazz; surrealist poetry viewed through the prism of Kabyle culture... Areski honed his talent observing the stars of traditional chaâbi, testing it out in bars and dives before meeting, during military service, the singer Jacques Higelin with whom he would record his first cult album (1969), and who would present him to his wife-to-be, Brigitte Fontaine. Between 1969 and 1980, with Fontaine, Areski would contribute an essential chapter to French underground music including classics such as Comme à la radio (with the Art Ensemble of Chicago) (1969), Je ne connais pas cet homme (1973), L'Incendie (1973), Le Bonheur (1975), and Vous et nous (1977).
For all that, Areski has never really tried to have a career under his own name, in spite of the wonderful Un Beau Matin first published in 1970, and which it is high time to (re)discover. Those already in the know will not be surprised to see, especially, Jean-Charles Capon, author of the inspired L'Univers-solitude (1972), Brigitte Fontaine of course, or Daniel Vallancien, author of a no-less inspired duo with saxophonist Philippe Maté. All contributing to an acerbic poetic universe, concerned but never militant, and open to worldwide influences long before they became a fashion. Inspired, poetic, in a word essential: Un Beau Matin is one of the best albums of the French underground produced by Pierre Barouh on his label Saravah.”
The 15th anniversary reissue of Max Richter’s highly cherished sophomore album expanded with a bonus disc including an orchestral version of ‘On The Nature of Daylight’ and a previously unreleased 2018 take on ‘Vladimir’s Blues’, plus an elegantly rude remix of the same track by Jlin, and a swooning, technoid Konx-Om-Pax rework of ‘Iconography’
"The Blue Notebooks was originally composed in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Richter has described it as "a protest album about Iraq, a mediation on violence – both the violence that I had personally experienced around me as a child and the violence of war, at the utter futility of so much armed conflict." The album was recorded about a week after mass protests against the war. It features readings from Franz Kafka's The Blue Octavo Notebooks and Czesław Miłosz's Hymn of the Pearl and Unattainable Earth. Both readings are by the British actress Tilda Swinton."
Here’s our original review from 2004:
"Max Richter's 'The Blue Notebooks' is the 4th release on FatCat's 130701 imprint, an outlet for more orchestrated, instrumental material. 'The Blue Notebooks' is Max Richter's second solo album, a distinctive and adventurous work that is beautifully recorded and cinematic in scope. Opening with a text from Franz Kafka over a sparse piano melody, the album moves through gorgeous, heart-wrenching string swells of 'On The Nature Of Daylight' through to sparse but lyrical piano pieces; hazy, swirling atmospherics, avalanche pulse-beats and partially occluded melodies that recall Aphex Twin's SAWII; and to reverberant organ / choir recordings.
Utilising piano, cello, violin and viola, alongside electronic beats (made using a variety of antique electronics and Reaktor), spoken word passages and the occasional field recording, other sounds were generated via old guitar pedals and vocoders. Life affirming music."
On this joint EP with Reggie Dokes, Gari Romalis takes us on an intergalactic mind trip, while keeping it true to the dancefloor.
"On the A side is Reggie Dokes, who gives us deep house, then without shame moves us into that Detroit style of techno, cultivated by the Motor City. Mr. Dokes likes to walk in both worlds of house and techno, and not confine himself to one particular genre."
L.I.E.S. provide a wider angle on Cienfuegos’ crooked Cubano drone sound in Autogolpe, the follow-up to a smart run of12”s and tapes with Unknown Precept, BANK Records NYC, and Ascetic House since 2014.
Expanding his sound along ambient and noise axes, Brooklynite Alex Suárez a.k.a. Cienfuegos has cooked up a properly varied album here, using uniquely textured ambient intros and outros to set the scene for a murky ride that takes industrial world music and the grubbiest drums in its stride with outstanding highlights in the droning payload and squirming torque of his ‘floor-slaying groove The Mountains Are Crying and the brute grinder, Symbiotico.
Mannequin compile the music of Dutch post-punk, industrial outsiders Nexda, drawn from all their single and EP vinyl releases.
"Taken from two 12” EPs, a split 7” and a flexi 7”, all released in 1982, the music within Word & Numbers captures striking compositions, part of, but some way removed from their contemporary post-punk bands coming out of the Dutch “Ultra” scene of the time.
Developing out of a series of concerts in Amsterdam, Ultra expanded to Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Haarlem, with artists and musicians creating their own work spaces and studios. Driven by the DIY mentality of the punk movement, this uniquely Dutch take on the post-punk ethos embraced avant-garde thinking and experimentation that disseminated in ideas and from that, sound.
Coming from Haarlem, Nexda – consisting of Ivo Schalkx, Karin Hueting, Martienden Nijs – played music on handmade drums, metal, organ, saxophone and voice. Releasing a series of cassettes on their and Wim Dekker (Smalts, Minny Pops) Studio 12 label, the latter’s link with Wally Van Middendorp’s Plurex label, resulted in the release of Nexda’s two EP – 246, 121 and 657 (PLUREX 0026) and Second (PLUREX 0031) - with artwork of Ivo Schalkx, are included here, both in their entirety.
Capturing the bands’ heavy percussive backdrop, raw, dub baselines contrast with questioning, mainly spoken word lyrical poetics, saxophone underplay and occasional Pablo-style melodica. The avant nature of the music is apparent and enticing, where experimentalism and artistic expression was sought over commercial success and technique and song form were less important than the process of exploring ideas.
The none-descriptive titles match song structures that jettison the traditional verse, chorus, verse; weaving across the 8 songs so that they can be heard as one, as much asshort bursts of individual statements."
Doris Norton was Apple's first music "endorsement" and Roland affiliate, and is one of the most important female pioneers in the use of synths and in the early electro / computer music field. This 3rd album of experimental computer works is anther peach, and includes the beautifully lush 10 minute medieval/prog regression ‘Don’t Shoot At Animals’ and the whirling psychedelia of ‘Iran No Ra’...
"As a teenager, Norton was drawn to medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, not to mention quantum physics, differential equations, organic chemistry, the experimentalism of John Cage and animated movie soundtracks. Her love for modules and circuits found expression through the waves of an old harmonium, the frequencies of a Minimoog, a Roland System 100M, a Roland System 700 and the ARP 2500/2600.
In 1980, Norton began her solo career by recording at Fontana Studio 7, the Milan studio of the composer and musician Tito Fontana, resulting in the electronic opera "Under Ground". Norton became more prolific, continuing her adventures in experimental electronics and computer music with Parapsycho (1981), Raptus (1981), Nortoncomputerforpeace (1983), PC (1984) – whose album cover prominently features Apple’s colored logo – and Artificial Intelligence (1985).
Third studio album, 'Nortoncomputerforpeace' involved Doris Norton, Antonius Rex and Rudy Luksch (hardware engineer). "Don't Shoot At Animals" was used as original soundtrack for the RAI tv program "Rumore Di Fondo" directed by Umberto Marino.”
Grinding Walls is Dirk Ivens a.k.a. Dive’s soundtrack for a 1995 film by the Italian band Sigilium S and visual artist KOMA.
Working at the sorespot between EBM and ‘90s cybergoth synth soundtracks, Grinding Walls is now expanded with material from the No Pain No Game release and old compilations for this first vinyl reissue by Poland’s Mecanica label, who have previously released records by Group A, Soft Metals, and Dirk Ivens’ other, infamous project; Absolute Body Control.
The emphasis here is on tone and structure, rather than anything we’d really call dance music. There are some heavy industrial rhythms inside, but they’re generally slow or harnessed in very short tracks. It’s best suited to fetish dungeons or blood spattered bedsits.
Two tracks taken from Rush Hour Surinam Funk Force compilation.
Indo-Surinamese singer, Cynthia’s “Jhoom Le" (1980) is wonderfully skewed synth disco gem! The track was previously only featured on the CD version of the comp. Another fav, Astaria's "Jamasa Roro" (1979), a driving Carribean style disco bomb, appears on the flip.
Liquid D&B and earthy deep house from Sydney, Australia’s Hubert Clarke Jr a.k.a. Hugh B, dispatched on his OTIS label in the wake of two 12”s for 100% Silk and Wolf Music Recordings.
"4 track excursion through deep textures, roaming drum machines, sliced breaks and dub echoes. With a nod to early Jungle duos (RIP), a psychedelic love letter to UK Broken Beat, a remix from OTIS family member Sean Thomas that pays respect to the UK Deep scene of the late 90s and a deep, valium-laced House groove designed for post-rave reflection.
OTIS003 is a dreamy meditation amidst the occasional chaos of the rave, a blissful trip through the styles of “dance music” this label holds dear."
Bambara is a Brooklyn based dark, noise/punk band with a Western slant. The trio consisting of twin brothers Reid (vocals/guitar) and Blaze Bateh (drums) and childhood friend William Brookshire (bass) formed in Athens, GA deriving their name from a character in the cartoon Aeon Flux. They moved to a basement apartment in Brooklyn where they recorded their ambitious debut LP Dreamviolence (2013), their sprawling noise-collage EP Night Chimes (2014) and their snarly, apocolyptic sophomore LP Swarm (2016) to much acclaim.
"Although Reid plays all the guitar on their records, Bambara recently added two guitarists to their live shows, allowing Reid to sneer and stagger around the stage as he sings unhindered by instruments. They've shared the stage with Iceage, The Men, Daughters and Uniform and have toured with Liars, Girl Band, Metz, A Place to Bury Strangers and Algiers. They've also led their own European tour which included a headlining gig at the Le Guess Who? Festival in 2016. In 2017, after recording Shadow on Everything, Blaze and Reid were personally contacted by Angus Andrew to join as members of Liars' touring band. Bambara will appear at SXSW in 2018 and are currently organizing a series of US tour dates centered around the festival."
Boy Harsher sate demand for their early gear with a new edit of Pain, backed with a mean remix by The Soft Moon in deadly EBM post punk mood.
The wickedly gaunt title cut from Boy Harsher’s sought-after 2nd EP is here nipped and tucked with classy back alley surgery for optimal drive and bite in the darkroom.
On the remix, The Soft Moon ratchet the intensity with stealthy force, giving the bassline more gnash and bite while bringing the drums forward with additional Linn cracks and a power surge of dissonant distortion that sends it stratospheric.
rRoxymore, Bruce and Chekov rep for Batu’s Timedance on this fine sampler 12” for the label’s first compilation.
A-side, rRoxymore shapes up the recoiling roller bRINGTHEbRAVE in her patented bass heavy electro-house style, while the B-side is given to Bruce’s microtonal ambient abstraction Let’s Make The Most Of Our Time Here, which is surely intended to fry some heads in the dance, and touted Leeeds-based producer Chekov plays to the label’s signature, stripped down style with the reticulated swing of Stasis 113.
Brooklyn filmmaker and sound artist Rose Kallal delivers her crushingly dark Perseus album, making one of her rare outings on Paul Purgas’ We Can Elude Control label following previous collaborative projects with Karl O’Connor & Mick Harris, Mark O Pilkington, and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe.
She steers hard to the darkside here, conjuring six immersive tracts of chronic drones and and concrète ephemera that suck us into a formidable inky blacknuss of viscous low end roil and polluted atmospheres.
Judging by the the swathes of dark ambient gear in circulation, it’s fairly easy enough to generate this stuff, but the the difference with Rose lies in her patient, glacial control, which means that Perseus hovers at the brink of the abyss, but avoids falling into stock cliche or academic torpor.
I:Cube packs 6 serious heaters on the 120th release from Versatile, the long-running label he co-operates with Gilb’R.
LP 1 throws down a sort of demented cumbia-house style lit with see-sawing accordion in Flutes Souterraines, along with the chunky electro-house jaxx of Troglo Dance before curving into psychedelic slow acid a la Tin Man or The Analord in Bifurque.
On disc 2 he restlessly shifts the pattern again to a sort of brilliantly skewed gamelan dance with La Nuit Des Rats, then synking into viscous cosmic disco chug on Ramurc, and saving the googley-eyed 6am business of Fractal P for the most lip-smacking moments of the night.
Having just finished a residency at the prestigious EMS Stockholm, Egyptian producer Ahmed El Ghazoly makes a stunning 2nd mark on Lee Gamble’s UIQ label with Numbers, a ruggedly chopped but spatially hypersensitive suite of encrypted electronic rhythms and entrancing, mirage-like geometries. It's the 9th release on Lee Gamble’s UIQ label.
Boldly committed to his own niche between the folds of grime, techno and electro-acoustic dimensions, Zuli’s follow-up to the Bionic Ahmed EP pushes it’s loping designs into stranger spaces within the sound field, finding an idiosyncratic ecology of frequency that finds room for dense, physical subbass, smeared vocals and iridescent motifs amid its morphing dimensions.
The six tracks exemplify Zuli’s playfully paradoxical approach to club music, experimenting with tessellating dry and fluid textures in the dusty, humid London-via-Cairo swerve of Bow which cranks opens the EP, to the metastable techno momentum in the buckling rolige of CommProto, while She’s Hearing Voices feels like a smoking area between rooms, heard in a queasy but spangled state.
That all feels like preparation for the second wind of the B-side, which convulses into action with the chromatic trance warp of What You Do and its grubbing Autechrian inversion, Tongue Chomper, only to slide off the page in Foam Home’s future primordial glob of melted dancehall.
The enigma of Rex Ilusivii becomes deliciously mistier with this remarkable recording made at The Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad, 1983. We’re going to get used to saying this; it’s yet another amazing record from the Offen Music label outta Düsseldorf’s Salon Des Amateurs…
This is a truly freakish slab of sounds, combining Suba’s background in classical composition (although he never finished his studies, becoming seduced by synthetic sounds and therefore not allowed to finish his degree under Rudolf Bruci), with a headlong taste for electronic music and a unique cache of ethnic and folk recordings made by his travel writer father, Radomir Subotic.
Factor in a fascination with emerging Latin-American sounds, and Suba was clearly out on his own at this time in what was then known as Yugoslavia, where he was employed at Radio Beograd’s state-of-the-art Sound Workshop as a freelance engineer and composer exploring the potential of their Synthi 100 and learning from the maestros of “radiophony”, Arsenije Jovanovic and Ivana Stefanovic.
Predating the sounds on his sought-after Disillusioned! LP and In The Moon Cage, the Koncert SNP 1983 performance renders Suba at his most liminal, unquantifiable, twisting and turning in seven parts between starkly minimal, primeval synth music to hypnotic, pulsating vocal arrangements and Ghedalia-esque worldly psychedelia, plus a number of shorter pieces of gristly knots and abstract whorls, which are almost concrète dub in effect and bear no small resemblance to current, deconstructed club musics.
We love this label, and much like everything we've heard from them thus far: this is a buy on sight kinda deal.
There was a time when The Third Eye Foundation was the mirror of the world from which the group drew its substance. But the reflection faded and dirt accumulated so it only provided deformed images and gradually became the world's shadow.
"This willingness to look at and express images and words about humans and their environment has since been embodied in the completely open face of its founder, Matt Elliott. Thus, The Third Eye Foundation is a discrete entity, the opposite of what Matt Elliott may otherwise represent. In 2010, The Dark (IDA 071CD) already portrayed this state of affairs. Today, Wake The Dead is banging the last nails into the boards that make up the barricades. Wake The Dead is like a key which attempts to open the doors of memory. Waking the dead is not a question of meaning but rather of sensations. Free will and free thought have no place here -- in the universe of The Third Eye Foundation, humans are no more than a simple product of their environment.
This may seem extremely violent and dehumanizing but it is not the case at all. You need to get rid of your certainties, empty yourself, and put yourself on the same level as those considered to be "the other". And that's probably the greatest quality of an album like Wake The Dead. Its abstract compositions are without a format and thus implicitly participate in the deconstruction of the imaginary, of all logical forms which we sometimes cling to without even knowing why. It offers something essential in its unpredictable approach: the possibility of letting go without this ever being judged as an admission of weakness. In a way, Wake The Dead is an album without a beginning or an end. Its melodic variations instill themselves without the listener realizing, and then progressively changes the listener's perception of the work. The 40 minutes of throbbing, hypersensitive dubstep that make up the record are not aimed at sending a message to the mind; The intention is to make souls dance and to unite them. Personnel: Matt Elliott - all instruments, vocals; David Chalmin - additional keyboards, vocals, drum machine, manipulations, effects; Raphaël Séguinier - drums; Gaspar Claus - cello."
The rarest treat for your lug ‘oles, The Glass World of Annea Lockwood is a hugely innovative and immersive study in the complex resonant musical properties of glass in its myriad forms.
A number of tracks from the LP previously featured on EM Records’ Annea Lockwood retrospective Early Works, 1967-1982, but this LP forms their first time vinyl reissue, and it’s a total pleasure to receive the music in context of its original format - made even better, canny, thanks to a crystal clear vinyl pressing.
An exercise in focussed listening as the result of filigree tactility, Annea Lockwood’s début introduced a vitally perceptive new spririt to the avant-garde upon its release in 1970 via Mike Steyn’s South African label, Tangent Records. In a similar way to, or even pre-echoing Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient recordings of metal rods, Annea’s material recordings are necessarily scientific, but serve to render a spectrum of sounds as Ur/un-earthly as anything made on synthesisers prior to or during that era of intrepid sound exploration.
With her first release Annea strove to “entice people into really listening intensively”, and does so with transfixing effect, activating wired glass, glass discs, chunks of green cullet glass, glass tubing, sheets of micro-glass and glass jars to generate totally beguiling sounds; from brittle pointillism to refracted glissandi. In getting as close as possible to the material, Annea gives voice to his hidden nature, stimulating its fine graded hyaline structures in order to make its atoms sing like audible alien animalicula.
The collaborative venture of Turk Dietrich and Michael Jones, Belong inhabit a sonic territory that seems perpetually out of sight - giving the same effulgent warmth as standing with your back to a sunset, or glimpsing a blizzard through a frosted window.
Spectrum Spools scan back to the early work of Second Woman’s Turk Dietrich with reissue of his and Michael Jones’ first album together as shoegaze duo Belong. While there’s maybe no obvious connection between the hyper dance music of Second Woman and the romantically sore, heavily textured tones of October Language, look a little further and it’s possible to locate a shared lust for keening transcendence and a lush tension between freeness of expression and discipline of intent between the two projects.
But no worry if that’s not apparent. Just think of it belong as a sublimated MBV or echo of Fennesz and you’ve got the measure of this abrasively beautiful album.
Ex Nihilo is the crushing new album from arch experimentalist Bruce Gilbert (Wire), forming his first album in six years and demonstrating a super rare example of an artist who only gets more vital and far-out with age. If the idea of slipping into an irretrievable K-Hole lights up your mind, prepare to take a swan dive into this one.
Following from Ab Ovo  and the head-swallowing Oblivio Agitatum , the nomenclature of Gilbert’s latest signifies another uncommonly strong batch from one of the UK’s most persistent electronic boundary pushers. With the last five years or more spent upkeeping his legacy via various reissues of foundational work with Wire and Dome, this album drills right down to Gilbert in the here and now, portraying a brilliantly uncompromising, belligerent artist of a kind that appears unfortunately absent in so many other echelons of contemporary electronic music.
Like an instrumental, electronic music-embracing Scott Walker, Bruce Gilbert’s experience feeds into the peerless visions of Ex Nihilio, lending the innate confidence to express himself in such brilliantly discordant terms as the opener Undertow, and realise the magick and attraction of such bittersweet tones in Negative Mass, and it’s surely only from such experience of the late 20th century avant garde that majestic structures like the breathtaking hyaline spires of Hymn can arise.
But for all those head-turning moments, the inverse, quieter parts are just as important to Gilbert’s sound, as pieces such as HA8, or the smeared timbral resonance of his Alien-like Change And Not, and the spatially-searching pulse of In Memory Of MV all hold the balance in check, making this set another ideal Gilbert gesamtkunstwerk for the ages.
Re-mastered, legit licensed reissue of two soul belters outta 1970s Memphis
“With Majik's Back Into Your Heart, we’ve dug deep into the back catalogue of Hi Records, legendary soul label from Memphis founded in the 1950s.
Originally signed as a recording artist, Willie Mitchell took the reigns of the label and guided it through its most successful period in the 1970s, notably producing a string of studio recordings for Al Green, Syl Johnson and OV Wright among other eminent soul musicians of the time.
Whilst the Hi Records catalogue shifted hands multiple times since the late 1970s, it was mainly exploited as a means to reissue recordings from Al Green and other high profile Hi Records artists (notably by Motown) while the label’s more obscure back catalogue remained largely untouched.
Years later, a few lesser known one offs from the label’s vaults holding the distinctive raw Hi Records production sound and a circling hypnotic quality that makes them potential successful records for modern day dance floors have been getting a second life with record collectors, DJs and on dance floors worldwide.
As such, recordings such as Africano's Open Your Hearts have become You’re A Melody classics for some years now and we are glad to bring you one more reissue which in our hearts hold at least the same level of quality and potential as the former. With Back Into Your Heart, Majik pull through with a strong up-tempo disco tune that embodies Mitchell’s sound as well as a level of modernity that might explain why it has remained largely unnoticed up until now.”
Félicia Atkinson is a multidisciplinary artist with many strings to her bow. Hand In Hand elevates her work to a completely higher plain as far as we are concerned though; fusing field recordings, modular and MIDI electronics with an almost hypnotising line in whispered/ASMR vocal narration to subliminally affective degrees, lulling us into an alien - yet incredibly human - soundsphere. It’s rare to hear a singular artistic vision translated into a sound that is so inherently personal and inviting - but somehow Hand In Hand is both one of the most accessible, and most experimental albums we encountered in 2017. It’s riddled with so much nuance that many months on we’re still discovering hidden new crevices with every listen. If you’ve yet to hear it - what are you waiting for?
Preeminent avant-garde composer Felicia Atkinson weaves myriad, filigree electro-acoustic and non-musical metanarratives in her totally absorbing follow-up to A Readymade Ceremony  - a remarkable album which attracted high acclaim worldwide and pushed her to the core of the modern experimental sphere.
Hand In Hand consolidates Atkinson's refined palette of modular and MIDI electronics with ASMR voices, field recordings and instrumental improvisation to subliminally affective degrees, whilst conveying the ambitious complexities of her sound art with a harmoniously organic, spaciously poised appeal.
Where her last album A Readymade Ceremony emerged fully formed from a protracted period of experimentation and research whilst based in The Alps c. 2013-2015, Hand In Hand finds Félicia building a metaphysical playground on its foundations, meshing recordings and lyrics - found and composed between her home in Brittany and Stockholm’s EMS facilities - into a finely sculpted and dreamlike web of subtle sensations and hyperstisised fiction.
In the process she brings closer together a wide-range of her artistic practices, incorporating elements of sculpture and painting along with sound installation, multichannel diffusion and live performance into her ever-expanding sonic vocabulary and grammar. Whether consumed on headphones or loudspeakers, it’s clear to hear this sharply honed sound sensitivity come into play as her carefully hushed vocals are bathed in placid yet suspenseful tones and almost imperceptibly underlined by an attention to timbral detail and those infrasonic frequencies normally ignored or blithely unattended by other composers within the field.
This all becomes apparent within the first side’s transition from warbling ambient-pop/neo-classical in I’m Following You to a stark contrast of hushed ASMR vocals and Rashad Becker-ish crack-bug electronics in Valis laid over Oren Ambarchi-esque bass tones, and then again into the hyaline gamelan dimensions of Curious In Epidavros, each laced with layers of spectral detail that only reveal themselves after multiple listens, and quite differently in each mode (headphones or speakers).
The dichotomies or paradoxes between the seen/heard/felt and unseen/unheard/elusive continue to beautifully, mystically inform and frame the rest of the album; begging us to chase her vocals around the stereo field of and mazy shimmers of Adaptation Assez Facile into the upside down oddness of Monstera Deliciosa’s rising basses and the curiously erotic lyrics about plants in Visage, before calving off into squashed rhythms with the hymn, A House A Dance A Poem, emerging into the sublime, weightless ambience of Hier Le Désert, and the surreal avian jazz Buchla strokes that resolve No Fear But Anticipation.
In the best way this is a record that is immediate and enduring; transparent yet oblique, riddled with nuance and underlying layers that keener listeners will discover in their own time.
Micachu & The Shapes collaborated with the London Sinfonietta to create 'Chopped & Screwed' back in 2010. The concept itself is pretty far flung, merging the disciplines of codeine-laced cough syrup-drankin' early '90s Houston HipHop legend, DJ Screw, with the rarified sound of one of the world's leading contemporary orchestras.
While the Sinfonietta provide endlessly absorbing backdrops, Michachu takes the innovative approach and plays her own, hand made instruments, as she explains "Our own instruments sound a bit percussive, a bit like samples, a bit different. When I write songs on a guitar I find my hands falling into the same bar chords all the time, but if you have something new in front of you there are no rules. No one else has ever played one before so you can approach music differently just make it up as you go along".
The end result of all this is incredible, a bewitching sequence of dissonance and crooked articulation that sounds unlike anything you'll have heard before, somewhere between her acclaimed Under The Skin score, classical Fantasia, Shoegaze and Dj Screw.
Trust us, it's a special one.
Shed’s 2nd album, The Traveller is also known as the one that’s not as good as Shedding The Past.
It’s definitely not terrible, per se, or even bad - check the lush, C2-style breakbeat techno chops on Leave Things, or the searing noise techno elegy Hello Bleep! - but it’s just maybe too sentimental and awkwardly experimental to live up to comparison with its predecessor.
Don’t let that put you off giving it a crack though; it’s riddled with details and ideas worth checking out.
Tim (aka Jean Marie Tiam) and the sadly departed Maurice Foty are musical cousins from Bafoussam in Cameroon. Their signature vocal harmony sound may be the first thing you hear, however they also have produced some of the funkiest African sounds around. They sing in their native language Ngomâlah, as well as Duala and English.
"We start the album off slowly with the scene-setting and largely instrumental "Douala By Night". Tight guitar and choppy clavi drive this song along. The groove is so deep even Missy Elliot couldn't resist a cheeky sample. "Funky Bafoussam" carries on the theme and expands it to include a kick-ass horn section. "More And More" is next and here the vocals burst forth over this up tempo punchy pop-funk track. With "Love Is Light" the pair show their versatility with a smooth English-sung soul ballad.
The hopelessly upbeat "Aie" is next with its earworm keyboard riff, slice guitar and catchy falsetto vocal. "Not So Bad" brings on the boogie. "I Love Yaounde" is a smooth swinging boogie-ballad with a killer chorus hook. "Eda" is a hit from early in their career. We close of the comp with the disco funk of "Funky Boogie Love" and synth grooves of "Eya Mba".
The songs on the comp represent only a 2 year period but some of the finest from the duo. These days Tim keeps the Tim and Foty flame alive. He currently lives between France and Cameroon. A musical flame that most definitely is burning bright."
The label with the best cover art in the business follow that stellar release from Polish pop diva Aldona Orłowska with the wonky melt of Caçador do Futuro, where Portuguese duo Tropo Macaca pursue the vibes of their Trilogy Tapes 12” into ever more lysergic instrumental narratives.
Over two wandering sides they let the synths do all the talking, which comes out in voices ranging from slow and viscous to babbling rants, almost like a Dadaist radio play or location recordings from another dimension.
The effect of Tropa Macaca’s music recall a heat-warped adjunct to Jan Anderzen’s Tomutonttu or a smudged echo of Èlg’s avant garde enigmas, leading listeners down a mazy garden path that seems to grow in behind you until you’re meshed into the sound. We’d imagine this effect will only be heightened with good drugs.
"The golden record was a gift from humanity to the cosmos. But it is also a gift to humanity. It’s a reminder of what we can achieve when we are at our best-and that our future really is up to all of us..."
"In 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each of these probes is a beautiful golden phonograph record containing a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it, perhaps billions of years from now. This enchanting artifact, known as the Voyager Golden Record, may be the last vestige of our civilization after we are gone forever. Curated by a visionary committee led by Carl Sagan, the golden record tells a story of our planet expressed in music, sounds, images, and science. Etched on the record’s gold-plated aluminum jacket is a diagram explaining where it came from and how to play it."
Still one of the best techno albums out of Berlin in this millennium so far, Shed’s seminal debut LP, Shedding The Past is finally and necessarily reissued on his own label, The Final Experiment - newly expanded to include all 12 tracks from the CD edition, and cut to heavier vinyl than the original 2008 pressing!
Thanks to the timeless cues and intent it was built on, Shedding The Past still sounds amazing today, working to an effortlessly adroit, light-footed and dynamic schematic that makes much of his subsequent work feel a bit clunky and overdone by comparison.
On release in 2008, it was a seriously big album for a techno world in flux between classic Detroit house, echoes of UK dubstep, broken beat and Braindance, and traces of tuffer Frankfurt sounds - all components of the Soloaction sound he’d developed for years prior.
Fair to say that Shed distilled those styles perfectly in his début album, as proved in its most impressive highlights such as the balletic gait of Another Wedged Chicken, the misty-eyed beauty of The Lower Upside Down and the breakbeat seduction of ITHAW, but most powerfully in its spine-freezing eternal anthem, Estrange.
Trust us: no techno collection is complete without a copy of this album.
Laurel Halo stakes an eagerly and widely awaited return with the beguiling 4.1 world techno dimensions of 'In Situ' for Honest Jon's after cutting her teeth with highly acclaimed albums and EPs for Hippos In Tanks (R.I.P.) and Hyperdub.
Arriving two years since the Ann Arbor-quartered musician began testing a new hardware set-up on 'Chance of Rain', Laurel has refined those slightly clunky experiments here with a fluidly dextrous approach to Afro-inspired, rhythmelodic drum programming taught by psychedelic jazz and cosmic electronica.
It's a mental playground of fantastic dancefloor geometries, blooming at every angle with refreshed ideas of alien scales and hieroglyphic drum patterns designed to be deciphered by bodies in motion and heads in flight.
With nods to Afrikan Sciences, Kerry Leimer and Actress, she commands her machines with a deceptively loose sense of control, encouraging them to chatter freely, coolly, resulting in the ingneous, midnight groove formations of 'Focus I' and the future primitive techno funk of 'Drift', beside the discombobulated topographies of 'Nah' and the footworking centrifuge, 'Leaves'.
Time will tell, but this may well be one of the 2015's most impressive, nuanced collections of new electronica. A massive recommendation!
Although often overshadowed by the more popular ‘Treasure’, 'Head Over Heels' is perhaps the most influential album in the Cocteau Twins catalogue and one that continues to confound 35 years later.
The band’s second album, it was recorded in 1983 mostly as a duo of Fraser and Guthrie, and was the first album to make a real feature of Liz Fraser’s made up, oddly intoned vocabulary. More hard-edged and loud than Treasure, Head Over Heels is also a marvel of production - the way the guitars stay submerged in the mix while the drums pound, those sudden key changes, small flourishes etched into eternity.
Coming not long after original bassist Will Heggie had departed the band, the chemistry between Fraser and Guthrie moved the band on from the starkness of their debut; they were now making the music that would help them define the decade ahead; her wordless, dreamlike vocals a powerful instrument over his lush, textured guitars.
They just don’t make them like this any more (although Demen tried).
Finders Keepers come up roses again with dazzling, never-before-heard live documentation of two Buchla 200 concerts recorded in 1975 by Suzanne Ciani. Rightly heralded as “a distinctive feminine alternative to The Silver Apples of the Moon”. The words “Holy Grail” and “revolutionary” spring to mind! Remarkable stuff for any synth fetishists or historians of the future.
“This spring Finders Keepers Records are proud to release an archival project that not only redefines musical history but boasts genuine claim to the overused buzzwords such as pioneering, maverick, experimental, groundbreaking and esoteric, while questioning social politics and the evolution of music technology as we’ve come to understand it. To describe this records as a game-changer is an understatement. This record represents a musical revolution, a scientific benchmark and a trophy in the cabinet of counter culture creativity.
This record is a triumphant yardstick in the synthesiser space race and the untold story of the first woman on the proverbial moon. While pondering the early accolades of this record it’s daunting to learn that this record was in fact not a record at all… It was a manifesto and a gateway to a new world, that somehow never quite opened. If the unfamiliar, modernistic, melodic, pulses, tones and harmonics found on this 1975 live presentation/grant application/educational demonstration had been placed in a phonographic context alongside the promoted work of Morton Subotnick, Walter Carlos or Tomita then the name Suzanne Ciani and her influence would have already radically changed the shape, sound and gender of our record collections. Hopefully there is still chance.”
Completing the lovely song cycle of Tenniscoats’ ‘Music Exists’, Volume 4 wraps up with gorgeous vocal harmonies, sun-kissed strums and the kind of fragile pop delicacy that’s won over hearts and ears around the world...
"Alien Transistor and Tokyo-based label Afterhours release the vinyl-version of Volume 4 of tenniscoats' masterpiece "music exists" and therefore eventually accomplish this magic quadruple release by the Japanese experimental folk luminaries.
"Tenniscoats have devoted followers all over the world, but their releases were always hard to find outside of Japan. Except for their album "Tokinouta", which saw a very limited run on vinyl, and the seminal "Two Sunsets", their collaboration with The Pastels (and a small handfull of 7"s), there were never any vinyl-releases, and also the CDs were hard to get for any-one, who doesn't speak or read Japanese.
So, this is the chance to dive deep into the beautiful, unique world of the tenniscoats and their opus magnum "music exists"."
Further to Peggy’s Once 12”, and ahead of her début album, Phonica White turn out an effortlessly swinging house play Travelling Without Arriving
It's nacked with a fruitier and thicker layered Nite Stealth Ninja Mix by Brooklyn’s Ge-Ology, who’s previously released jazzy goods on Sound Signature and Dekmantel.
Numerous publications have since declared it one of the best albums of the 90s, with Pitchfork calling it “a core of ungodly gorgeous songs that is every bit as moving and relevant today as it ever was.”
Label founder Ivo Watts-Russell goes further, candidly revealing in the recent 4AD biography ‘Facing The Other Way’ that this album wasn’t just his favourite Cocteaus album but also his favourite all-time 4AD album and, “by a long shot,” calling it “the perfect record.” With tracks as majestic as the title track, ‘Cherry-Coloured Funk’ and ‘Iceblink Luck’, who’s to argue?
After a searing run of releases and remixes, Ancient Methods makes the natural move to working with vocalists in The Asking Breath Comes To Each, teaming up with Tropic Of Cancer, Huren, Zanias, and Azar Swan for a distinctive new addition to AM’s carefully expanding catalogue.
The sole preserve of Michael Wollenhaupt for some years now, in the last few years Ancient Methods has carved towards working vocals to deadly effect on a number of remixes for everyone from The Soft Moon to Wolfsheim, beside his own edits as Room 506.
All this has clearly fed into the stonking original material found on The Asking Breath Comes To Each, which royally boots off with the harpy screech of Azar Swan over the scorched earth gallop of Swallow The Screw, before trimming back to the acidic darkroom canter of The Standards Will Come And Go feat. a possessed Dave Foster aka Huron - arguably summat of a wet dream for anyone who needs talc to help get their duds on.
Tropic Of cancer executes a perfect, pensive and floating counterpoint to the razor sharpened 16th note serrations of It Won’t Take Me on the B-side, and we’re feeling pangs of guilty glee towards the borderline cheesy/lush epicness of Zoe Zanias’ vocal on the restrained pulse of Andromeda.
Lars T C F Holdhus follows one of the very best releases of the new millenium so far, the 'Untitled' tape for YYAA, with another cryptic future-shock, his 1st for Liberation Technologies.
Continuing a trajectory away from the calculated dance mash-ups of his now-defunct Cracksmurf alias, this project and mini-album is based on a whole other algorithmic strategy, rendering densely coded formulae into utterly mind-boggling and synaesthetically affective compositions. Once you've heard his music and done a little research into his academic background and visual practice - he studied at Frankfurt's famed Städelschule; is fascinated by data encryption; loves a good brew - it almost becomes really hard not to hear T C F's music as immensely complex, fluctuating plumes of code billowing and refracting across infinite virtual landscapes.
It's fxxking staggering stuff, soaring between hardstyle peaks and the kind of ultra-lucid FX you'd expect to hear while watching Transformers at the iMax, traversing wide-open, lysergic ambient space and majestic neo-classical (more Matrix than Max Richter, tho) gestures with an incisive balance of wry humour and emotional pathos that's all too rare, nay absent, from much stuff nowadays. Ultimately, words fall well short of adequately describing this stuff; it simply needs to be experienced, fully immersed, piloerect, pupils dilated. It's one of 2014's most crucial pieces of new music, no doubt.
Following a trio of acclaimed, genre-confounding 12" drops - for his own Diagonal imprint and most recently The Death of Rave - London's Powell reports for duty at Mute's dance R&D department, Liberation Technologies.
'Fizz' picks up where the mighty 'A Band' left off, being an anachronistic party-starter that splits the difference between rockabilly shuffle and gear-grinding industrial stomp, spiced with aromatic no wave samples and squirts of acrid electronic noise - techno for teddy boys. 'Wharton Tiers On Drums' revives the jerry-built, tunnelistic groove of early Powell ace 'The Ongoing Significance Of Steel & Flesh', but jerks the toms harder, adding sampled shout-outs to the eponymous sticksman and inviting you to contort yourself on the dancefloor.
'Beat' is a return to the sparsest rhythm science, simultaneously invoking the loping hypno-rock of Can, the popper-crazed brawn of Nitzer Ebb and the sparse techstep rollage of Nico and Ed Rush circa Torque.
The overdue and overproof sophomore Young Echo album is finally upon us, dispensing an epic 24 tracks of subby, red-eyed and distinctively Bristolian vibes set to dank-out smoky dwellings everywhere. Arriving five years after Nexus, their eponymous second album features cuts from each of the 11-strong mob, framing a fractious mosaic of style and pattern rooted in dub and the dancehall, but unafraid to fxck with noise, techno, ambient pop and grime in their own way.
It’s a proper group effort, playing to their strengths in diversity and unity in the best way by keeping individual track credits close to their chest, only allowing the album to be taken as a whole. Yeh, of course everyone’s going to have personal favourites, but they’re only facets of a much bigger body, and it’s to their credit that the whole thing feels coherent, a shared experience, and doesn’t simply sound like a compilation of music by like minds.
Young Echo have always been a bit of sore-thumb in the scene - are they a band? A label? A soundsystem in the mould of The Wild Bunch? The one takeaway from all their material is a sense of shared purpose and democracy - not in the usual, arrogant indie band style, or in-your-face political militancy - pivoting around mutual ideas of economy of expression and a sensitivity to space, rhythm and tone that effectively all pulls back to dub, no matter their individual heritage.
Young Echo is an organic complex where light hardly penetrates its papyrus-like walls, and much of the most crucial communication is made via infrasonics and atonality, relaying messages and emotions both as metaphorical/physical vibes and quite literally thru a morphing voice, which might be gruff poetic realism of Rider Shafioque one minute, the crisply enunciated diction of Jabu or Chester Giles the next, while a number of ghostly, sampled characters also haunt its corridor, perfusing half-heard messages thru their smoky matrix.
It adds up to an album symptomatic of the times in which it was made, yet does so timelessly, bridging the original, super plush studio trip hop creation of their geographic forebears, Massive Attack or Portishead, with a more road-level appreciation of economy and soul which might be best recognised by members of their generation, but should also be felt by any open-minded and empathetic souls the world over.
It’s definitely not another fxcking coffee table record, we’ll give you that for free.