Dreamtime Return  is perhaps the definitive ambient album by Steve Roach. Its title and conception relate to Steve’s interests in native Australian culture and the idea of ‘dream-time’, a notion roughly translating to a ‘time out of time’, or a prehistory populated by ancestral figures with supernatural abilities.
Naturally, Steve uses indigenous percussion and his signature electronic palette, to bring the ancient, sacred idea of Dream-time to reality in a way that has since become canon to ambient electronic music, with clear antecedents in the music of Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement and FSOL among others.
"Since its release in 1988, Dreamtime Return has earned its reputation as a genuine classic. The two-CD magnum opus is one of the most important, widely known and highly respected release in Steve Roach’s vast body of work. It serves as an essential benchmark within the Electronic-Ethno-Atmospheric genre.
Roach’s travels in the Australian outback, along with studies of the native Dreamtime, and his desert walkabouts in California were the lifeblood for this recording which even today sounds like a transmission from the near future and the very distant past.
“Musically Dreamtime Return richly deserves its classic status, but Roach also deserves credit for leading electronic musicians out of their sheltered studios and into an active relationship with the landscape, the wider world, and deep cultural history. The whole genre is stronger and more relevant for his example.” – Stephen Hill, Hearts of Space Radio
Three decades after its release, the true expansive depth of this iconic masterpiece has been meticulously unveiled, revealing an entirely new listening experience. With this 30th Anniversary remastered edition, mastering engineer Howard Givens utilizes his years of technical knowledge with electronic music, an extensive array of analog and digital tools, and his passion for this seminal work, to restore the original sonic nature and visionary intention, taking the listener deeper into the dreamtime.
“Steve Roach demonstrates that electronic music’s greatest potential may lie in bringing our most elusive dreams and ancient memories into focus through potent, highly imaginative soundscapes. In addition to the atmospheric harmonies and rhythms that literally engulf you for two hours the artist’s compelling style is his uncanny ability to create the illusion of suspended time. Altered chords that breathe ever so slowly, floating textures, digitally sampled native timbres, and arresting special effects lead you through a gently unfolding maze of sonic dimensions that depict a sense of mystery and confrontation with the unknown. The effect is mesmerizing, increasingly introspective, yet curiously comforting as if the primitive wisdom and renewed connection to nature this music conveys is something you were craving all along. This is without question Steve Roach’s masterpiece.” – Linda Kohanov, (excerpt from) CD Review, August 1989
“Surrounding every masterpiece there is an arcane and indecipherable energy, a divine breath that blows. Works like Dreamtime Return change the course of history and accomplish a prodigious jump forward. It is a recording that has inspired a whole generation of musicians and that contains within its two hours astounding artistic intuitions, the starting point for all of the esoteric and tribal music that is produced today. The drones of the didgeridoo, the ceremonial drums, the alien ambiences, the voices from the past, the eternal silences, the tribal atmospheres, the dilation of time, and the sculpture of space have created the tribal-ambient genre, of which Roach was the first techno-shaman. The record can be considered a soundtrack for an adventure at the edge of time, an experience that has deeply and indelibly marked Roach, whose life from that moment will no longer be the same. The channel is open.” – Gianluigi Gasparetti, Deep Listenings, August 2005
"Dreamtime Return is more than a seminal recording that has influenced a generation of musicians. It’s a portal into a universe where technological designs merge deep inside primordial moods. Roach found the nexus of primal didgeridoo growls and synthesizer drones and orchestrated them into this techno-tribal opus. When you shout out at the edge of the world, Dreamtime Return is echo that calls back to you." - John Diliberto, Echoes Radio
A companion to his acclaimed Ravedeath 1972 set, Dropped Pianos collects sketches for that album recorded by Tim Hecker last year.
While on paper it might sound like something for completists only, trust us when we tell you that this LP is a beguiling listen in its own right: shorn of the disruptive electronic processing which defined Ravedeath, what you get instead is a series of exquisitely reverbed and layered piano instrumentals which showcase Hecker's gift for minimalist composition and mournful melody.
Richly evocative of rainy, post-war cityscapes, of mortality and of thwarted romance, it's another masterful offering from an artist at the top of his game.
The trio of Stephan Crasneanscki, Simone Merli, and Kamran Sadeghi,aka the Soundwalk Collective, are based between New York City and Berlin, their efforts span fine art and music, digesting anthropological, ethnographic, and psychogeographic study, through the lens of electronic sound - recording, processing, and synthesis. Marking the debut of the new imprint Dischi Fantom, Transmissions - a four LP anthology, gathers four previously unreleased studio compositions into a single sprawling set.
"Transmissions is a distillation of sonic worlds - its source material and recordings linked to specific locations, natural or artificial, collected by the trio over long periods of investigation, travel, and field work in the Mediterranean basin, the Black Sea, the Rub’ al Khali Desert, and the region around Odessa. Cacophonous and often chaotic, images drift in and out of view - the sounds of nature, captured frequencies, ambience, radio intercepts, voices, music, archival recordings - the list goes on. A careful ordering of chance encounter, captured in the search for beauty the chaos of the world. Across Transmissions' works - Ulysses Syndrome, Medea, Empty Quarter, and Bessarabia, emerges a startling post-modern realm. A sonic bubble of non-linear narrative, where concrete meaning eludes the ear - continuously changed by the listeners themselves. Published in an edition of 300 copies, and accompanied by a booklet (amazingly designed by Fabrizio Radaelli) which includes Black-Winged Night, an essay by David Toop, as well as a conversation between the Soundwalk Collective and Dischi Fantom founder, Massimo Torrigiani. A stunning start for the label, and a brilliant effort by one of the most interesting projects in the contemporary scene, this is one not to miss.
“I hear this displacement of refrains. I am not fixed within signs but adrift within signals. Like a bat or a dolphin, I hear scanned frequencies otherwise inaudible to my human limitations and these voices and tones captured from the aether seem to me to be our equivalent of those voices of gods who spoke ‘words that flew’; music asserts its regional and cultural affiliations and yet at the same time it drifts unmoored in the ocean of sound.” David Toop
Mutant electronics c.1978-83 from the Chen Yi commune in Chelmsford, including the obscure anthem ‘Rug’ primed for DJ detonation and fans of TG, CH-BB, and Severed Heads.
For the keener observers, this is actually a facsimile co-reissue of german label 90% Wasser’s 2006 release, with all tracks remastered from the original tapes by Simon at The The Exchange.
Drawn from some 30 tapes of unfinished material, including one tape of demos for a thwarted record deal with CBS, the compilation features some of the scant material that managed to escape the commune, where members were all into making music, but not so up for releasing it. Aside from a tape ‘The Hanging’ by one member (Chen 8), this bizarre set of cranky grooves, samples and field recordings is pretty much the only surviving and available output from this hugely intriguing time and place.
The bulk of material comes from both the aforementioned tape ’The Hanging’, and their never-to-be LP, ‘The Rape’, plus unused tapes for a planned Peel session, all serving to frame a properly mongrel and multi-limbed sound very much symptomatic of the era it was created. Funnily enough, though, it was all recorded to a high-end Studer A80 MkIV2 tape machine, which sealed it for posterity at the very least, meaning that the LP’s strongest bits such as the freezing cold and rabid stepper ‘Rug  and the reworked version of ‘Honey Money’ are firmed up for DJ play, while the rest of the LP’s more abstract dynamics scratch, bite, probe and beguile appropriate to the group’s original intentions.
Jazzy 1977 rework of a traditional Japanese wedding song, backed with Visible Cloaks’ weightless ambient electronic remix
The 1977 version was conceived by Jazz man Jun Arasaki and his group Nine Sheep, and executed in one take (this recording) on five sanshin, four winds, piano, bass, percussion and drums for a TV broadcast. It’s somehow solemn yet joyous in a slow and stately way, with lyrics describing how “beautiful buds unfold”.
Fourth World inhabitants and dreamers Visible Cloaks remix ‘Kajyadhi Fu Bushi’ in their own image, resulting a diaphanous, gauzy swell of harmonised synth chorales infiltrated by playful ghosts in the machine and weft with elusive traces of the original vocal to sound like a Google deep dream reverie of the real thing.
Five years on from Space Is Only Noise, the once precocious composer Nico Jaar pursues that album’s blend of dancefloor mechanics, hip hop and ambient electronic pop into the more refined, layered designs of Sirens; its follow-up proper after dallying with Dave Harrington in Darkside and scoring/re-scoring films by Jacques Audiard and Sergei Parajanov, and even racking up BBC Radio 1’s mix of the year for his 2012 Essential Mix.
Whether weaving nods to Alice Coltrane with funereal torch song in Killing Time, or sounding like gothic Trentemøller doing clattery, jazzed-up D&B on The Governor, and even smoky ’50s doo-wop mixed with desiccated rocksteady groove in History Lesson, whose title is perhaps the earnest key to Sirens, Jaar’s 2nd album is slightly trickier to date than its predecessor, yet detectable nostalgic for another time and place.
We’re most attracted to its quieter moments, as with the ether drift of Leaves and its gauzy smudge of brass, strings and pads infiltrated with what we’ll assume is a sample of Nico as a child babbling to his famous father, making for a nice, innocent contrast with the rest of his earnest, pleading croons.
Vox Populi’s adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun, reworked by by Japan Blues, Tim Karbon, Hiroaki Oba and Shizka for the 2nd volume of ‘Field Works’
Howard Williams a.k.a. Japan Blues opens with a strolling, neon-lit rejig of ‘Chapter V’, marking up his 2nd outing of the year after a remix of Kufuki’s ‘Dodome EP’, while French producer Tim Karbon reworks ‘Chapter VI’ as a dextrously fluid fray of darting percussion and smeared arps for the canniest dancers.
Hiroaki Oba brings the vibe up to speed with debonaire ‘90s deep house styles in the satin smooth flow of their ‘Chapter VII’ remix, and Inoue Shirabe a.k.a. Shizka melts ‘Chapter VIIII’ as a mystic, airborne shimmy with effortlessly elegant results.
In 2016, after reissuing two Bruce Haack albums, Haackula and Electric Lucifer Book II, Telephone Explosion began speaking with Ted Pandel (Bruce’s lifelong friend and business partner) about working on the 1970 masterpiece The Electric Lucifer. It turned out there was another matter that he wanted to discuss: finding a final resting place for the Bruce Haack archive.
"We were shown test-pressings of The Electric Lucifer board mixes from his Columbia studio sessions, countless pieces of written music, a large number of personal photos, an invitation from Raymond Scott inviting Bruce to play his newly created Electronium instrument (now owned by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh), poems, press clippings, and, most importantly, a heavyduty shelf containing 213 reel-to-reel tapes.
All of the chosen material on The Preservation Tapes is unreleased, has only been heard by a handful of people and showcases a relatively unknown period in Bruce’s musical career where Bruce was recording for Sparrow Records (who billed themselves as "America's best Christian music record label”). Bruce’s signature Farad vocoder continues to feature prominently, but the lyrical content is decidedly more religious. The Bruce Haack archive is now resting in the Provincial Archives of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada."
'Phase 3 : Thones and Dominions' has been one of the more elusive Earth titles so it's great to see this oft-misunderstood gem back in circulation again.
'Phase 3' was a difficult album for Earth, and marked a transition period in between the drone-heavy 'Earth 2' and the classic rock styled 'Pentastar : In the Style of Demons'.
The album includes destructive drone tracks such as genre high point 'Tibetan Quaaludes' juxtaposed against rock riff-fests like 'Song 4'. I definitely don't have a problem with this, but I seem to remember at the time when 'Phase 3' hit the shelves in 1995 it garnered a hell of a lot of negative press from people expecting a rehash of 'Earth 2'.
'Phase 3' was never going to rework the style they had so carefully initiated, and hearing it agin now- it's a strong, powerful record and one which shows a band experimenting with sound and form.
The aforementioned 'Tibetan Quaaludes' was one of the finest pieces the band ever committed to wax, and the free-improv influenced 'Site Specific Carnivorous Occurrence' is another high point in their career. Some of these tracks were recently rediscovered and reworked on the fantastic remix compilation 'Legacy of Dissolution', which has led many to look at them under a different light, and quite rightly too.
Any Earth fans who don't own this need to add this underappreciated classic to their collection, and while this might not be the easiest intrduction to the band's catalogue; it's without a doubt worth a look.
Rump-pumpin’ house, Amsterdam-meets-Detroit style, from an incognito source.
A-side they ride a kinky pump with sheer metallic Detroit riffs and eccie-triggering pads for the all-night dancers, before the B-side settles down to a beatless organ cadence whisking off into an airborne shimmy by the track’s end, working as a nice transitional tool or end of night come-down for the DJs.
A first physical release at last for this album inspired by Sergei Parajanov’s Armenian masterpiece The Colour Of Pomegranates — even if some of the music was composed before Jaar watched it.
"Already for Jaar a private emblem of change and upheaval, the fruit is broken open in the film: its juice seeps into a cloth, like blood, making the shape of ancient Armenia on a map. In hundreds of such moments of cultural and poetic saturation (including numerous different associations for the pomegranate), and in the film’s biographical, episodic form, Jaar found confluent ground for intimate, teeming musical reflections about his own life and Palestinian-Chilean heritage. “It gave me a structure to follow and themes to stick to. It gave clarity to this music that was made mostly out of and through chaos. It also gave me the balls to put it out.”
‘Much of Jaar’s most elegant and touching melodic work is nestled here, its power residing in its simplicity and willingness to speak to the heart and not the mind of the listener, in the language of lyricism, freedom, and emotional resonance held in common by his many paths and projects."
Another sterling pick from Sacred Summits, Morgan Fisher’s charmingly playful 'Inside Satie'  sees its first ever vinyl reissue on Lindsay Todd and Stuart Leith’s cult label.
Morgan Fisher has had a storied career as part of ’60s one-hit wonders Love Affair, thru to playing keys for Mott The Hoople in the ‘70s, and working on ambient, improv and soundtracks in the ‘80s alongside Yoko Ono, Haruomi Hosono and Dip In The Pool.
Inside Satie was recorded in Japan following Fisher’s move from the UK in the mid ’80s. Perhaps a perfect fit for the sophisticates of Tokyo at the time, the album adapts Satie’s timeless minimalism to a mix of electronic and acoustic instruments, highlighting and feeding into the similarities between Gnossiene and Gymnopedie and the new age ambient zeitgeist of Japan in 1985.
As a meditation aid, a coffee table staple, and a historic artefact, Inside Satie is a beautiful and warmly satisfying document totally worthy of reappraisal in 2018.
Black Truffle present breathtaking, mind-bending works from Alvin Lucier; premiering a pair of pieces written for and performed by Oren Ambarchi and Stephen O’Malley (Sunn 0))), Æthenor), and released thru the former’s indomitable Black Truffle label. Lovers of life-affirming avant-garde music of all stripes need to stop what they’re doing and check this one, pronto!
Both works offer an extension of Lucier’s “elegant explorations of the behaviour of sound in physical space” which have been ongoing since the ’60s, and includes his best known work, I Am Sitting In A Room , a piece that has practically become required listening for anyone with an interest in 20th century avant-garde music thought and practice.
Specifically, Lucier’s work places great focus on the infidelities of instrumental phenomena and closely tuned pitches, often using pure, electronically generated oscillations in combination with single instruments in order to both highlight and blur their tonal and timbral distinctions. This LP documents two works in this vein, firstly on Criss Cross, his debut work for electric guitars, written especially for Ambarchi and O’Malley playing one semitone each in duo, and secondly on Hanover, a much grander tribute to Lucier’s father, Alvin A Lucier, who is pictured on the sleeve in 1918 with the Dartmouth Jazz band.
The A-side’s Criss Cross is truly one of the heaviest things we’ve heard in years. With Ambarchi on the left channel and O’Malley to the right, the duo improvise on a single semitone, generating thick, viscous waves of wobbling oscillations that merge in transfixing formation at the middle . So far, so simple, but the effect - which alters brilliantly on headphones or with proper amplification - is just staggering, baffling the senses with a richly saturated, undulating sonic pressure to visceral, psychotomimetic ends.
The first time we heard this piece on headphones it just floored us, but then we tried on speakers and tried to conduct a conversation at the same time. The effect was something like an anechoic chamber - the conversation couldn’t happen because our voices sounded louder in our head than in the room. WTF?! Just to push it one step farther, I also tried listening on headphones while on a plane, and can only imagine what the EasyJet staff thought of my eyes rolling in back of my skull. Quite honestly, I haven’t heard anything quite like it since Zbigniew Karkowsi & Topher Davidson’s Processor, and that’s a proper percy.
The B-side’s Hanover is just as precise, but the intensity and tonal variation is multiplied by he number of players, including O’Malley and Ambarchi on electric guitars joined by alto and tenor sax, violin, piano and bowed vibraphone. Here the tones are far more pinched and slippery, streaking the stereo field in iridescent timbral dynamics and almost lilting cadence, and with a far more delicate, intricate appeal when compared to the other piece.
It almost goes without saying that a new Alvin Lucier work is worth your time, but in case you’re under any doubts - this LP is just astonishing, ingenious, preternaturally brilliant stuff.
Finally, Roland Kayn’s breathtaking cybernetic salvo, ’Simultan’; one of the most important works by one of the 20th century's greatest (if unsung) composers; all newly remastered from original tapes and reissued for the first time since the original 1977 release by classical music label, Colosseum. Huge Recommendation for followers of work by Jaap Vink, Leo Küpper, Jim O’Rourke, Keith Fullerton-Whitman, Autechre, The Hafler Trio...
Italy’s Die Schachtel, following the lead of Frozen Reeds’ and their 16CD edition of ‘A Little Milky Way of Sound’ in 2017, have the honour of reintroducing ’Simultan’ into the wild. Presented to the highest possible standards on the format it was intended for, the unfeasibly complex dynamics and revelatory perceptive spaces opened up inside ’Simultan’ are bound to generate jaw-dropping reactions with Kayn's growing ranks of followers and even the most hard-to-please fans of outer-limit composition.
Collapsing ideas from electro-acoustic, concrète, electronic, and computer music disciplines into what he termed “cybernetic music”, Kayn methodically and effectively worked off-the-radar towards a form of Artificial Intelligence in music from 1962 until his death in 2011. Building on his earlier studies with seminal figures such as Boris Blacher and Oskar Sala (whose FX appeared on classic Hitchcock’s), as well as time spent playing organ and piano with Ennio Morricone and Egisto Macchi’s exploratory Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, Kayn devoted his life’s work toward realising what would become recognised among the most incredible, genuinely prism-pushing arrangements of sound ever recorded.
’Simultan’ is the first in a series of seminal Roland Kayn boxsets released between 1977 and his blinding masterpiece ’Tektra’ in 1984. While he had previously contributed ‘Cybernetics III’ to a Deutsche Grammofon split with Luigi Nono, ’Simultan’ was where Kayn’s ideas really came to fruition, and with results that practically document the birth of a new music, or a computer manifesting its first signs of sentience in sound.
Weighing in at six pieces clocking in at over two hours, it’s arguably a difficult, spasmodic birth when compared with the smoother contours and expansive arrangements of his subsequent releases, but that amorphous atonality and noisy unpredictability accounts for much of the attraction to ’Simultan’, which sounds like very little before it, or even since.
If you’re the insatiably curious, technically pedantic type, then many of your queries about Kayn’s music will be answered in the lucubrate liner notes included on the insert, which provide all the technical context one would need to know. But it’s better to just dive head-first into ’Simultan’ and let your head be consumed, dissolved into those micro-organismic diffusions and unfathomable chaos.
Mercifully this 2nd wind will prevail on further reissues of Kayn’s aforementioned run of boxsets up to and including ‘Tektra’. We advise making some space on your shelves and your calendar to spend some time with this incredible music.
Optimo on a roll with this this gobsmacking follow-up to the ace Iona Fortune LP and ‘Miracle Steps’ compilation
Penelope Trappes, a member of freak disco unit The Golden Filter, makes a spellbinding solo debut on Optimo Music with Penelope One; her chamber-like suite of deep blue songcraft about “being a mother in a dystopian world, with pensive words about swimming against the current as a female artist”.
Referencing the perceived freeness of Scott Walker and This Mortal Coil compositions, Penelope uses a minimal palette of mostly solo piano and FX to frame her spectral songs in a starkly beautiful sound which suggests, to our minds at least, a collaboration between Mazzy Star and Leyland Kirby, or Felicia Atkinson and HTRK writing for a Lynch soundtrack.
It’s a quintessentially adult and measured style, one porous to subtle atmospheric flaws and resolutely tempered with a calmness and plotted narrative that absorbs the listener like an episode of some American noir TV or film, and with a lingering, visual quality that likewise continues to phosphoresce in the mind beyond the credits reel.
A year’s worth of work is condensed into its 11, inch-perfect parts, all recorded in a small, rented piano practice room in London which she effectively turned into a sort of alternately vast and intimate floatation tank, using FX to defy its dimensions and give her thoughts acres of emulated room to breathe and manifest a genuinely sublimated sound.
Puppets opens with Penelope at the centre of wide, multi tracking herself into spare, airy dimensions of a Club Silence sound stage, with Gravel Mouth introducing a plaintive, modern blooze-soaked appeal in its trap tics and pealing guitar licks, establishing a pace and atmosphere for the album that percolates between its three gripping Untitled instrumentals and into majestic spaces such as Gone and the cracked fragility of The Hair Shirt, thru the slide guitar twang and sylvan R&B of Heartbreak, to the air-borne spectre of Low and the weightless, plasmic impression left with 9 Monkey.
It’s a truly remarkable album, womblike in its comforting sense of seclusion, and patiently awaiting your detached gaze and contemplation.
'Space Is Only Noise' is the first album by Nicolas Jaar.
By anyones estimations his arrival into the electronic music sphere has been unavoidable, receiving comparisons to Villalobos and AFX from The Guardian, providing one of Resident Advisor's most adventurous mixes to date and practically having Panorama Bar, Fabric and Bar25 eating out of his hands - all before he'd turned 20! His string of releases for the like-minded Wolf+Lamb Music and his own Clown & Sunset label besides remixes for Matthew Dear and Ellen Allien have defined his sound as purposefully slow, sensuous, and with a graceful maturity way beyond his years, all equally informed by HipHop and his Chilean heritage as he is House music and the furthest reaches of electronica.
Like the relatively recent pop/dance phenomena of Drag/Witch House, electronic Cumbias and Dubstep, his music signifies a sea change towards exaggerated energy efficiency, dropping the tempo to up the groove and deftly filling the space left behind with supremely sophisticated musical decisions drawing further comparisons to everyone from his beloved Satie and Mulatu Astatke to DJ Shadow. 'Space Is Only Noise' is far from being your conventional House music album and should be filed in your 'promising debut' stack.
An excellent Arvo Pärt primer...
"Arvo Pärt creates music of deceptive simplicity, and listening to his work can be a transformative experience. Imagine taking your ears on a retreat, and you’re some way to understanding why his work is so popular.
The Estonian composer underwent his own transformation in the 1970s, having explored dense avant-garde music in the early part of his career. He put himself through an eight-year creative exile, and emerged with a new, purer voice. The Arvo Pärt that many people are devoted to today (including R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Björk) creates music that cleanses. A sonic detox."
Magisterial, glacial, attention-demanding and powerful exposition of Buchla 200 synth tones mapped to acoustic woodwind and brass by a promising young composer; Stockholm’s Kali Malone. A strong tip to fans of work by Caterina Barbieri, Emptyset, Sarah Davachi.
Arriving in the resonating wake of her self-released solo début Velocity of Sleep , and flanked by the recently issued Organ Dirges 2016-2017 tape for Ascetic House, the Cast Of Mind LP gently but grandly expands the constellation of Kali Malone's solo releases, next to her Upper Glossa collaborations with Caterina Barbieri, a tape with Ellen Akrbro, and acclaimed live performances.
Joined by Yoann Durant (Alto Sax), Isak Hedtjärn (Bass Clarinet), Gabriella Varga Kalsson (Bassoon), and Mats Äleklint (Trombone), Kali’s Buchla 200 Synthesiser forms the basis for a quartet of diaphanous and slowly unfolding electro-acoustic landscapes that externalise a highly personalised form of emotive topography.
In the titular opener, wood and brass trace the swooning ellipses of Kali’s Buchla contours in stately procession suggesting a sort of resigned march to battle, before the Buchla appears to dominate in the warped streaks of Bondage To Formula, but listen closer and it’s harder to tell whether it’s electronic or organic sources so fully lending flesh to her rich sound field.
The answer to that question is much clearer in Arched To Hysteria, whose keening, hunched electronic forces hold powerful potential to conversely induce paranoia and heavily hypnagogic effects, whilst Empty The Belief yields a lustrous, Raga-like drone capturing a marriage of Buchla and bassoon at their most transcendent and steeply attractive.
This one should be filed for reference and safekeeping beside recent transmissions from Sarah Davachi, Anna Von Hausswolff, and Catarina Barbieri = properly good.
Steve Hauschildt’s grasp of synthesis reaches alchemical, intuitive levels of lushness in ‘Dissolvi’, keening towards a broadly appealing ambient-techno-pop sound without losing the enigmatic, abstract, deep space quality of previous efforts. It’s his finest achievement since striking solo from the influential Emeralds and, quite honestly, isn't a million miles away from late 90's IDM keeprs like Arovane's Atol Scrap. And on we go in circular motion...
“In search of the sublime, contemporary electronic musician Steve Hauschildt has designed grids and panoramas of sound across multiple releases through the rise and dissolution of his former band, Emeralds, an American touchstone of 2000s home-recorded psychedelic noise music. Consistent with his solo work is Hauschildt’s ability to coil his craft in precise, varied, and distinctly physical forms. Gently spinning arpeggios converse with post-industrial decay. Sonic fibers sway like pendulums from static melancholy to motorik bliss. Dissolvi, the artist’s first full-length with Ghostly International, engages sublimation from an ontological perspective: by dissociating the self. Hauschildt steps out from the singular path, for the first time in a traditional studio, to compose and arrange contributions from friends. As a result, his most collaborative work to date extends a vast, vibrating framework in which to consider the state of being.
The album's title — a reference to cupio dissolvi, the Latin phrase meaning "I wish to be dissolved" — needn't be taken one-dimensionally or as purely solipsistic. It does, however, serve an apt reference. Physiological phenomena are of interest to Hauschildt. These back-of-mind ruminations find their way out. Songs are cerebral in orientation, but beyond explanation, the music is truly visceral. Involuntary eye movement inspires the serene, sanguine-nearing-suspicious "Saccade." Hauschildt feathers soft percussion beneath the echoed refrains of Los Angeles musician Julianna Barwick, together shaping a svelte suggestion of the anxieties brought about by modern-day surveillance; if everyone is being watched constantly, there is no individual, no self, only a broadly monitored and clumsily cataloged populous. The work of Chicago poet Carl Sandburg comes to mind: “I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass.” The individual dissolves into the taxonomic crowd.
Minimalist techno impulses provide a stylistic through-line for Dissolvi. Understated synth phrases and drum grooves take hold in selective moments, like synchronistic structures onto which nebulous mists, like the rapturous voice of Gabrielle Herbst aka GABI on "Syncope," cling to and cloud, producing a dazzling rift in consciousness. The 7-minute centerpiece "Alienself" reiterates this creative logic, burbling like an amorphous body of water on a low-gravity planet, on the verge of dissolving, but never fully dematerializing. The album was constructed in Chicago (where Hauschildt now resides) and partially in New York. "Much of it was recorded in a windowless studio which removed elemental or seasonal references to time in the music," says Hauschildt. "The focus this time was on mixing the album and incorporating a broader set of instrumentation. I describe my compositional approach as being quasi-generative." Embracing new methods and philosophical curiosities, and in turn, expanding the range of his repertoire, Hauschildt proposes a fascinating and profoundly rich experience in listening, being, and deliquescing.”
‘Metal Aether’ showcases Lea Bertucci's role as a performer, revealing four pieces that represent approximately 3 years of ideas and gestures for alto saxophone and magnetic tape. Expanding on 2014’s ‘Light Silence, Dark Speech’ as well as 2015’s ‘Axis/Atlas,’ ‘Metal Aether’ develops a language of extended technique for alto saxophone that is based on a spectral, psychoacoustic, and non-linguistic approach to the instrument.
"Much like the recordings of her previous NNA release, ‘Metal Aether’ continues to explore Lea’s acute interest in the nature of acoustics and the harmonic accumulation of sound, with it’s four pieces having been recorded in Le Havre, France in a former military base, and in New York City, at ISSUE Project Room. With her horn, Lea produces pulsing minimalist patterns, transcendent drones, and upper register squalls that envelop these spaces in waves of overtones, microtones, and psychoacoustic effects. Tracks like “Accumulations” explore evocative, ancient-sounding melodic figures, while tracks like “Sustain and Dissolve” relish in the microtonal relationships between overlapping sustained notes. Aside from the saxophone, Bertucci further interacts with physical space by fortifying these pieces with manipulated field recordings from diverse locations, ranging from Mayan pyramids to NYC subways. Other instruments such as prepared piano and vibraphone can be heard on this album, processed through tape to unite melody and texture together as one. Lea displays a firm grasp of the inherent possibilities of sound manipulation to maximize her music’s power through the recording process itself, mixing conflicting fidelities to achieve a deeper, more organic form of expression.
Throughout 2017, Lea fully dedicated her creative efforts toward exploring and informing her music through a variety of disciplines. In addition to recording ‘Metal Aether,’ she wrote and performed during multiple residencies, toured rigorously throughout North America and Europe, organized site-specific sonic events with the SITE:SOUND series, and published her first book “The Tonebook,” a collection of graphic scores by 17 avant-garde composers. Through these endeavors, Lea immerses herself in the essential principles of true musicianship: study, performance, curation, literature, and experimentation. It is with these tools that she connects herself with sound in all of it’s forms – live, recorded, situational, natural, and unnatural. All of these elements come together to inform the pieces found on this album, creating a sophisticated, multi-faceted, and highly personal body of work. ‘Metal Aether’ feels like the defining statement from an artist in elevated control of their form – a summary of concepts, ideas, and emotions given life from one’s mind and heart. Lea demonstrates the desirable ability to use her art to sincerely communicate in a language of one’s own personal
Amazing jazz slab from Japan, 1983, feat drummer Takeo Moriyama and a crack squad of players. First time vinyl reissue (also available on CD) of a highly sought-after 2nd hand release
“BBE Music is proud to present the next instalment in the J Jazz Masterclass Series: ‘East Plants’ by Takeo Moriyama, one of Japan’s finest jazz drummers.
A genuine ‘under the radar’ album known only to a handful of Japanese jazz collectors, ‘East Plants’ is now available once more, reissued for the first time as a double 180g LP, with exact reproductions of the original artwork, obi strip and insert. It also comes with the original notes fully translated. ‘East Plants’ is also available as CD and digital formats. This reissue is fully endorsed by Takeo Moriyama himself.
Originally released in 1983 on the Japanese VAP label, ‘East Plants’ is an essential album in the J Jazz canon. It’s an album that distils several key characteristics of Moriyama’s music: clearly articulated and inventive rhythms, open yet orderly arrangements, and an accessible groove balanced with a graceful control.
‘East Plants’ features no piano, just percussion, bass and reeds. From the luxurious raga-like build of the album’s hypnotic title track and the fierce post-bop workout of ‘Fields’, to the stately modal track ‘Kaze’ ( as featured on the sell-out BBE compilation, ‘J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1968-1984’), the album was, until now, a rarely acknowledged masterpiece. ‘East Plants’ shows Moriyama’s quintet at their most transcendent: delicate layers of percussion by Yoji Sadanari, a warm and pliant bass from Hideki Mochizuki, with colour and texture provided by the eloquent reed work of Shuichi Enomoto and Toshiko Inoue. And, overseeing it all, Moriyama’s discreet yet commanding drumming.
The BBE J Jazz Masterclass Series is curated by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden and is dedicated to presenting the very finest in Japanese jazz. The series will feature rare, long-lost and unreleased material presented in the highest quality reproductions of the original releases, fully licensed and authorised.”
Australian/Ukranian techno survivor Tim Jackiw unfurls in classic, lustrous, romantic style on Offworld Records - the same home of his coveted debut 12” ‘Science Of Sound Volume One’ over 20 years ago.
All material was produced and recorded 1994-1996 and beautifully reprises the sincerely intimate yet astrally scoped vibe of his diamond debut, rolling from the purring bass weight and lump-in-throat pads of ‘Half Moon’ thru the silvery moonlit house of ‘Waves (Lost Mix)’, to the Dan Curtin-esque rude depth of ‘Night Watch’ and the sci-fi romance of ‘Tears In Rain’ with deeply satisfying verve and timeless appeal.
Keith Fullerton Whitman never ceases to impress with his seemingly endless understanding of musical references and ability to flit from the most personally affecting music to constructions of an altogether more playful nature.
His "Playthroughs" album for Kranky is still one of the most played entries in our late-night listening pile and so every new release graced with his name is a bit of an event for us.
"Schoner Flussengel" is another vinyl-only release, following up last year's excellent "Antithesis" LP, stretching into six tracks of dense layering and momentarily spacious acoustic sequencing.Utilising processed, textured drones to computer-guitar-piano trio, two of the tracks here also feature the vcs3 synthesizer recorded at Soma in Chicago during 2001 with the aid of Casey Rice and John McEntire (Tortoise).
Not for the first time, but arguably the most significant, Pye Corner Audio crosses paths with Ghost Box for his first LP of 2016; a narcotically hypnagogic and dystopian trip entitled Stasis.
At least one leap year cycle since his last album with the GB’s, Sleep Games, right now this one feels like a stygian trudge into bleakest futures, operating at such a stoned pace that it moves slower than actual time, and by submitting to its temporal warp we’re allowed to regress back into a pre-digital epoch of paranoid cold, or even civil war atmospheres and paranoia.
It could almost be the soundtrack to a Ben Wheatley flick (low budget, not the over-glossy high rise) about British time travellers, forgoing Dr. Who queso for a more hard-boiled, furtive vibe about anachronistic assassins sent back to kill Nigel Farage at birth, only to uncover that he’s part of an exceedingly dangerous non-human race with ties to Johnson, Cameron and all the other pebble-people, so they round them all up and lock them in a hostel in Middlesbrough with a broken kettle and packet of poisoned monster munch between the lot.
Of course, that fantasy is all set to a soundtrack of wistful electronic mists and pulsating arpeggios that could be right out of some late ‘70s / early ‘80s synth library, and ultimately shows that whilst technology has advanced in the meantime, that ostensibly archaic music still reflects an underlying eldritch darkness contemporary and relevant to both eras, then and now.
Following that eye-opening box set on Vinyl On Demand and the crucial I Don't Remember Now / I Don't Want To Talk About It and Plaster Falling reissues, Superior Viaduct give life to John Bender’s third and final album Pop Surgery, recorded in 1982 and once again demonstrating Bender as one of the most inspiring discoveries of 1980’s sprawling wave scene.
"While all of Bender’s work draws from intimate home recordings—featuring the artist alone with various keyboards, analogue sequencers and tape delays—Pop Surgery remains the one that perhaps best distills his arrant deconstruction of the “pop” concept. These twelve frenetic tracks, meticulously stitched together with dubbed-out vocals and disjointed drum machines, stretch the boundaries of bedroom electronics.
Bender would forgo the handmade LP sleeves typical of his Record Sluts imprint. The cover depicts an imposing scrapyard crane, ready to pick up discarded objects with its bright red electromagnet, while the center labels détourn Columbia’s classic ’70s style.
“I pressed a single run of 500 copies,” Bender recounts. “The only review I remember railed at the poor production quality. The DIY era had clearly come to an end.”
One of the most important ambient releases of all time, Jon Hassell and Brian Eno's 'Fourth World Vol.1 - Possible Musics' deservedly receives the prime reissue treatment for the benefit of a new generation.
Originally issued in 1980 ℅ Editions EG, it converges the paths of two musical pioneers who were mutually searching for ways to consolidate world musics with the possibilities of tape, electronics and jazz-wise improvisation. Across five sweetly concise pieces and the 21-minute dreamscape of 'Charm (Over "Burundi Cloud")' Hassell expresses gorgeous, considered flights of fancy thru his heavily effected trumpet against a backdrop of Eno's rippling, rhythmelodic percussions and diaphanous synth tones as languid as they are subtly beautiful.
For us, from the spirited float of 'Delta Rain Dream' to the achingly lush peal of 'Ba-benzele' and aerial elevations of 'Charm ("Over Burundi Cloud")' it's the definition of timeless, enchanted music. Out of print for far too long, it's a must check for anyone with a taste for worldly dissonance and forward looking composition. RIYL Hieroglyphic Being, OPN, Tomuttontu, T C F.
Antithesis is taken from Keith Fullerton Whitman archives, featuring ensemble works featuring instruments played by Whitman himself with no computer interaction.
Each piece was recorded in one of the different apartments Whitman has rented since he lived in Boston and broadens the instrumental and compositional base of 'Playthroughs' with fender rhodes piano, viola, guitar and percussion.
The four tracks on the album verge from straight up drone to what sound like lost krautrock classics.
Steve Hauschildt follows his eponymous 2013 compendium for Editions Mego with this romantic lush-out for Kranky.
Hauschildt's first proper solo release since the group disbanded in 2012, 'Where is Fled' charts an alchemical, emotional spectrum of synthetic and natural timbre/spirit within 14 tracks of symphonic swell and resolution infused with processed crowd noise, piano and animal noises. Wandering its sleek gradients in headphones whilst looking at the album sleeve's CGI artwork feels like taking a mooch in No Man's Sky accompanied by the perpetually shifty looking Enya, pointing out new plants on far-flung planets while she coyly glances away, only to morph into Vangelis before scuttling away after a giant pink squirrel and leaving us with that most intangible sensation - am I dreaming or is this a Steve Hauschildt album?
Seattle-based stepper Homemade Weapons does dense, tense D&B for Samurai Music
Check for the hyperventilating, needle-point precision of ‘Subcept (RIP)’ and the crafty drum funk torsion of ‘Paroxysm’ with Torana.
Rarely has an album owed so much to production... Low return with their most daring, experimental release in years, co-produced by James Blake's man at the controls B.J. Burton, at times verging on a layered, pulsing electronic sound you'd associate with the likes of Andy Stott. Doused in distortion, throbbing electronics, submerged vocals, side-chain effects - this could easily have been a nauseating exercise in modernisation; but instead the strength of the songwriting shines through for one of Low's best = a standout full-length for 2018.
"In 2018, Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.
This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fightsfor the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?"
A momentous celebration of one of the last century’s most important composers, offering insight, recognition, and critical investigation, long overdue and lovingly produced. Including an extensive, lavish 120 page book, with numerous unseen images and 10 historic, sought-after and impossible to find albums pressed on 180 gram vinyl - unquestionably one of the most beautiful and important archival releases of the year.
The perfect jump-off for anyone intrigued or beguiled by Lucier’s oeuvre and looking for a way in, ‘Illuminated by the Moon’ was recorded in October 2016 at the Alvin Lucier 85th Birthday Festival at the Zurich University of the Arts and spans pioneering classics such as ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’  thru to his recent piece for Stephen O’Malley and Oren Ambarchi, ‘Hanover’. Along with a fistful of rare works, it adds up to an unprecedented, overdue survey of Lucier’s cross-disciplinary efforts in locating the metaphysics of sound in minimalism, and is arguably the most crucial boxset of 2018 alongside Roland Kayn’s immense ’Simultan’ session.
In deliberate depth and detail, ‘Illuminated by the Moon’ highlights Lucier’s intersections with pivotal contemporaries including Joan La Barbera and Charles Curtis, right up to his work with disciples such as Sunn 0)))’s Stephen O’Malley and virtuoso minimalist Oren Ambarchi, each proving, where needed, evidence of a deeply focussed yet open-minded approach to the phenomenology of acoustic sound.
From ostensibly simple units of sound Lucier extrapolates incredible, otherworldly dimensions, using various extended techniques and recording methods to probe ideas of auditory and musical reception and perception. In historical context, he wasn’t the only artist doing so back then, as the likes of Steve Reich with ‘Come Out’, or his group mates Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley and David Behrman in Sonic Arts Union also explored hybrids of text/speech/composition, but Lucier’s work stands out for its enduring patience and subtle playfulness in its transformative transitions of texture and tone, highlighted here in his liminal, tip-of-tongue take on ‘Nothing Is Real (Strawberry Fields Forever)’ , and the absorbing roil of his percussive piece, ‘Music For Solo Performer’ .
As with the most recent work on show, including ‘Hanover’ and a number of modern compositions from 2002-2016 with Joan La Barbera and young American cellist Charles Curtis, Lucier’s work has only grown more intently focussed and transcendent over the years and has quietly shifted the understanding of what music can be; laying a mark on history and the expectations of nearly everything to come, while radically expanding the field.
Japanese composer/demi-god Ryuichi Sakamoto presents an exquisitely oneiric and elusively spiritual new album inspired as much by the sound sculptures of Harry Bertoia as the magic of Andrei Tarkovsky’s seminal septet of celluloid classics.
It’s been some years since Sakamoto has placed his name at the top of a solo album proper - as opposed to his swathes of collaborations and film scores - and we can promise that the results herein are definitely worth the wait.
Imagined and realised after a period of fright with his health, Async captures Mr. Sakamoto at his most wistful and wonderful, meditating on the existentialist, ontological themes and atmospheres of Tarkovsky’s work from both a gauzily impressionistic aspect, and a quite literal one, employing readings of Tarkovsky’s poetry (poem transcribed in the liner notes) in a variety of languages from a coterie of contemporaries including long time collaborators David Sylvian, Bernardo Bertolucci (for whom he composed the OST for The Last Emperor) and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), among others.
Embracing both the fluidity and flux of Tarkovsky’s water analogies as well as the harmonic chaos of Harry Bertoia’s lush metal rod clangour, Sakamoto melds feather touch acoustic keys with field recordings, shimmering electronic patinas and signature synthesiser flourishes in a suite that beautifully lives up to and even transcends its influences, revealing some of the most achingly emotive yet often abrasive and abstract work in a catalogue now spanning over 40 years of exemplary work.
Beyond maybe Scott Walker, we can hardly think of another artist who has continued to expand their oeuvre over such a long period of time, and with an appeal quite like this, albeit respectively unique to their work. But Sakamoto really is in a league of his own here, utterly absorbing us with the dappled keys, organ haze and stereo starting doom synths of Andata, thru the stark Sonambient emulations of Disintegration to the romance of ZURE and the almost Toshiya Tsunoda-esque sensitivity of his field recordings woven into Walker or Honj, with humbling moments to be discovered in the switch from disorienting cinematic dialogue in Fullmoon to the legit Ligeti style violence of Async, and again in the curdled chromatics of FF and the Gas-eous swells swirling about Garden.
The long awaited Remix album, featuring reworks from Andy Stott, Oneohtrix Point Never, Electric Youth, Alva Noto, Arca, Motion Graphics, Fennesz, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Yves Tumor, S U R V I V E and Cornelius...
We shouldn’t have to be writing this, but naturally the Jóhann Jóhannsson remix of Solari takes on a much darker shade of blue in light of his recent, untimely passing, yet it equally stands out as the LP’s most uncannily suggestive highlight. R.I.P..
Elsewhere, Yves Tumor can be trusted to handle Zure with a sensitively suspenseful sort of R&B/quasi-ambient breakbeat flip, while Andy Stott feathers Life, Life into an elegiac airborne waltz, Alva Noto catches Disintegration in a sublime, quiescent state, and Arca lends his own, original, tortured torch song vocal and windswept beat to a rework of Async with utterly heart-breaking impact. Yelp, this one really gets us.
One of Japan’s most revered ambient/deep house/jazz heads shares his sublimely elegant early material with Music From Memory on Early Tape Works 1986-1993 Vol.1. In good company amid the groundswell of reissued Japanese classics and obscurities currently in circulation, this collection gives a smart overview of an artist who is still active and pivotal to modern scenes, as opposed to long over the hill, and demonstrates that the classy integrity of Takahashi’s approach to sound has been there since the start of his oeuvre.
Check it for sweetest ambient treats in his languorous ace Day Dreams, as well as the pulsing kosmiche lift of You Should Believe, featuring a brilliant but as yet uncredited female vocal, and the ruder industrial/EBM styles of Signifie and Zero To One, which relate to his streak of EBM releases as DRP for Dirk Ivens’ Body Records.
"The Japanese producer and DJ Kuniyuki Takahashi is the subject of Music From Memory’s latest retrospective compilation with ‘Early Tape Works - 1986-1993’. Composed of two volumes, the compilations gather together a selection of tracks from a tiny run of privately released tape only albums, highlighting a fascinating early period in Kuniyuki’s musical output, one of which little is known.
After discovering the world of nightclubs in Japan around 1986, and the seemingly boundless freedom expressed there through music as well as art, Kuniyuki became inspired to experiment with electronic music. Excited by the possibilities of new music technology, he would begin to gather together a number of, at that time, reasonably accessible and inexpensive local keyboards, drum computers and recording equipment. This became for Kuniyuki a way in which to explore music not as such made for nightclubs, but certainly inspired by them. Setting up a home studio in his hometown of Saporro, Kuniyuki would record extensively during this period with the equipment he had gathered together, equipment such as Roland’s Juno60, TR-606, TB-303, Casio FZ-1, Korg 770, Boss DE-200, Foster A8 and a Yamaha MT44 track cassette recorder.
Driven to develop a musical language derived as much by an exploration of music technology and a desire to create new sounds, Kuniyuki was also looking to evolve the possibilities of what he refers to as a ‘new Oriental sound’. Early Tape Works - 1986-1993’ then brings together two albums of material which not only highlights the evolution of Kuniyuki’s own work but also of Japanese electronic music as a whole."
Proper freak pop from Korea via France. Dead uncanny stuff, RIYL Maoupa Mazzocchetti, Holger Czukay, Arthur Russell, Antinote
“Recorded in Busan, Republic of Korea by former US special agent MB Jones, ROK Spy documents both his stay in a country on the verge of a nuclear conflict and his mission there (for obvious confidential reasons, the purpose of this mission is only to be referred to in an elusive way). While most of his personal belongings have disappeared – or, more likely, been destroyed – we are very thankful for the safe receipt of a USB stick containing 7 songs recorded in Autumn 2017, alongside a drawing and a few handwritten notes. We are proud to now be able to share these with you.
In order to do so, we hastily came up with a label. The circumstances under which it was born lead us into calling it “Drama”. This release is DRAMA1.
The content of this LP is a seemingly disparate set of pop-not-pop tunes, flirting with dance music on songs like the apocalyptical disco Nuclear War or the bizarre and mind puzzling boogie Pusan Perimeter. Though it is quite hard to put words on MB Jones’s productions (one may accurately call it an “oddball” of a record), his musical testimony may sit somewhere in-between Holger Czukay’s most narrative pieces and Arthur Russel’s most cheerful moments, sharing with these two brilliant musicians a genuine feeling of intimacy emanating from each second of his songs. The only thing that may be said without a doubt is that these 7 songs are the product of someone whose ear has been attentive and receptive to all sorts of contemporary musical genres (from trap to experimental electronic music and EDM).
It’s still not clear whether the cryptic lyrics evoke situations which already occurred, whether they are oracles, some insider’s warnings or whether they are the product of a mind in a hallucinatory state. On Poison Pill – the closing song – he is particularly ambiguous : “the CIA bought me a trip / I put the tab under my lip / They want to build a shopping mall / On the DMZ wall”. We’ll leave the interpretation to you.
PAM & Zaltan”
Samurai’s relative label newcomers form a phalanx of mutant grey area styles on Part 5 of the label’s Decade anniversary plates
The Untouchables follow up their debut album with the blunted dread halfstep rolige of ‘Zaku’ alongside the grimy pressure of ‘Khans Of Takir’ by Shiken Hanzo.
Last Life open out with a pendulous skank on the swollen subs of ‘The Worst Awakening’, and Es.tereo holds down the bone-rattling tribalism, ‘LV426’.
Gigi Masin, Jonny Nash and Marco Sterk reconvene their soothing Gaussian Curve trio with a faithfully mellow and utopian suite of ambient lounge jazz themes for Music From Memory. Bath time music
“The Distance is a different musical beats to its predecessor, but shares the same timeless, emotion-rich feel that made Clouds such a hit. While the fundamental ingredients remain the same - Masin’s masterly piano and synthesiser work, Nash’s blissful, meandering guitar lines, and Stewrk’s synths, drum machines and production - The Distance is an album brimming with fresh ideas, and more complex musical arrangements. It’s the sound of three confident collaborators crafting magical musical moments in their own unique way.
This expansive new approach can be heard on “T.O.R”, where Nash’s haunting trumpet and hazy guitars wrap themselves around the kind of hypnotic piano and synth patterns that were once the preserve of American minimalist composers, in the gently breezy positivity of “Ginger Lemon”, and in the loved-up chord progressions and bubbly electronic beats of “Last Breath”. Close your eyes, and you’ll also hear it amongst the sunrise shuffle of “The Distance”, Masin’s hushed vocals on “Smile For Me”, and within the kosmiche influenced sensuality of “Birthday Song”.”
Penelope Trappes follows her head-turning debut solo LP with two beautifully gloomy songs, backed with an Abul Mogard remix on CD
Paving the way for ‘Penelope Two’, the follow-up to her acclaimed eponymous debut with Optimo, ‘Carry Me’ is a sashay thru bleak and funereal downbeats, leavened only by the glowing filament of Penelope’s lilt, whereas on ‘I Can Hear Your…’ she speaks to the void in stark yet intimate terms, with whispered lyrics peeling off into sonorous negative relief.
Serbian synthesist and all round enigma Abul Mogard turns ‘Carry Me’ into a 13 minute drone panorama, incrementally ratcheting the tension of the original with an opiated gothic lushness akin to Alessandro Cortini’s finest.
After a revelatory 1st volume, Mule Musiq supremo Kuniyuki Takahashi (Koss) digs deeper into his archive, comes out with some sweetly gauzy gems on Early Tape Works 1986-1993 Vol.2
Tessellating perfectly with Music From Memory’s catalogue of obscure riches, this set unfurls seven works ranging from the faded seaside scenery of Island to romantic, chintzy downstrokes on Your Home, and stripped down Sakamoto-esque gestures on Asia. At its apex, Echoes Of The Past blushes a totally sublime colour of Adult Contemporary synth-jazz, leading to the Lynchian atmosphere of Ai Iro, and cascading harps and water sounds in Sakura No Mizu, and closes out with the cinematic panorama of Imagination, which strongly recalls the finest moments of Ensemble Economique, or what he was referencing, at least.
Like the first set, we advise you not to sleep on this stuff.
From hitherto little-known niches, Music From Memory pluck a reel gem of bright, warm and colourful electro-dub written in St. Louis, Missouri, 1989, yet, for all intents and purposes sounding perfectly out-of-time-and-place.
If we’re playing musical DNA, Workdub could be a close, younger cousin of Eno + Hassell and YMO, or an older, not-often-seen sibling to Max D and Actress, pretty much slotting right between their respective styles as sweetly as you could hope for.
Out of a matrix of programmed drum computers and hand-played percussions, plus MIDI-synched synths and canny recording trickery, Workdub’s debut record reveals lush windows on a wide, crisp and clean spheres, effortlessly, deftly carrying its weight from the quick-stepping but laid-back shuffle of Island Breeze thru the piquant strings and swanging roto-bass of Caravan, and into ancient electro dimensions with The Odyssey and a breathtakingly spacious remodelling of Caravan.
With a responsive rig, a bit of sunshine, and the right crowd, these tunes will melt the best ‘floors.
Music From Memory blindside again with an unprecedented survey of Geoffrey Landers’ home-baked avant-pop-funk and more experimental dabs of ambient jazz, abstract electronics
“Music From Memory's final compilation of 2017 sees the release of the double album “1 by 1”, which brings together the works of American experimental musician Geoffrey Landers. During a period spanning from 1979 to 1987, this Denver, Colorado based multi-instrumentalist, composer, record producer and engineer, conceived several solo albums. Only two of these, “The Ever Decimal Pulse” and “Habitual Features” along with the single “Breedlove” were ever released on vinyl.
.Being heavily involved in the local industrial/punk/new wave scene and wanting to create a recording studio “available to record artists regardless of their financial circumstances” Landers set up “The Packing House Studio” in 1981. This analog 8-track recording facility was located in a former slaughterhouse in the stockyards of Denver and was a place of significant activity for the next three years with the studio releasing recordings from numerous artists most notably Allen Ginsberg.
It was here that Geoffrey Landers also started his own aptly named “Cauhaus” label. Indicative of the underground/DIYculture, “Cauhaus” was a subsiduary of a label called Local Anaesthetics which was started as an in-store label by independent Denver record store Wax Trax. Typically Cauhaus releases were only pressed up in small quantities and independently distributed, making Lander's music essentially elusive to a wide audience. After relocating in 1984 to an art district of Denver Landers opened the “Cauhaus Institute of Recording” studio where he continued to produce music for soundtracks, art and multi media projects for the next three years, after which Landers stepped out of the music industry entirely. He currently creates and exhibits mixed-media glass art.
Throughout the twenty tracks of "1 by 1", of which six previously appeared on CD only, we are submerged into a wide diversity of musical approaches from Geoffrey Landers. From the proto-house track “Logarhythms” and the heart breaking New-Wave Boogie/Funk of “Say You’ll Say So” to the more contemplative pieces such as the oriental insprired “Nisei” and the drenched in sunshine dub/reggae track “Mack” Landers shies away from musical expectations again and again; searching continually for innovative and new forms of expression.”
Music For Memory stun again with a first-ever reissue/compilation of The System’s sublime new wave pop; immaculately conceived in Birmingham, UK, 1983, but clearly overlooked ever since.
The System EP is set to seduce all comers to its incredible, prototypical pop charms and exquisite production, which yet again makes us question how much uncovered gold is still out there, or at least awaiting a 2nd wind in MFM’s Amsterdam bank.
Featuring three cuts from The System’s sole album, plus a previously unreleased gem, this is a first class example of early ‘80s pop at its most refined, emotive and technically progressive, largely thanks to the skilful studio chops of producer Bob Lamb, who’s hailed in the promo text as a “somewhat cult figure in Birmingham’s music history” who, perhaps unsurprisingly - when considering the strengths of these tunes - also worked on the earliest releases from Duran Duran and also produced UB40’s debut album.
Bearing all that in mind, it’s a wonder that The System are so unknown, but it also explains why original copies of their only LP now trade for a lot of money 2nd hand, especially once you’ve tasted the divine pleasures of Almost Grown or danced to the remarkable proto-Detroit-meets-Junior Boys dream pop of Vampirella.
Techno/Power Ambient boffin Peder Mannerfelt appears on Cera Khin’s Lazy Tapes for a typically skizzy and brilliant session called The Screws That Hold The World Together.
The follow-up to Cera’s sought-after split mixtapes with Ossia and Christoph De Babalon gives up three original Peder Mannerfelt works oscillating from a mad, raved-up confection of hypnotic vocal loops, clanking drums and burning ‘ardcore strings in Shining Beacons of Light, to go all radiant and blissed out with the spatial-tonal metamorphosis of The Toad, and then diffracting dub chords and frazzled jazz drum breaks in Every Day Had a Number.
We’ll spare you another gush about the quality of Peder’s sound, but suffice it to say this one is heavily satisfying, as to be expected.
Oosh! Academy LPs present this reissue of a scorching Ghanaian Afro-funk/Highlife classic from 1975 packed with infectious percussion, horns, hammond organ hooks and grunts from the main man, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley!
Original copies on the legendary Essiebons label go for hundreds of £££, once you've checked the intro to 'Kwaakwaa' you'll likely be smitten.
Music From Memory follow up the enchanting Suso Sáiz retrospective Odisea with a far more recent survey of the Spanish ambient and new age pioneer’s contemporary output, Rainworks; spanning wistful ambient vignettes to mind-engulfing drone, brittle concrète and drifting solo piano studies commissioned and written in 2016.
Highly regarded for his work with Orquesta De Las Nubes and Música Esporádica for Grabaciones Accidentales (home to Finis Africae, Luids Delgado, Randomize) in the early-mid ‘80s, Sáiz has followed that path ever since, resulting collaborations with Steve Roach and dozens more releases over the interim.
Rainworks finds him still feeling out a sublime, etheric otherness, bringing to life a series of atmospheric pressure systems with a deft, elemental touch in key with the original commission from Hidraulica, Tenerife (Canary Islands), gradually expanding and contracting in ambition from the opening arabesque to the abstract yet richly evocative tract of A Rainy Afternoon at the album’s perimeter.
For their first multi-artist compilation, Music From Memory take us on a trip to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1978-1992 is a double LP that explores the outer reaches of Brazilian music, where indigenous rhythms mix with synthesizers and where MPB mingles with drum computers.
"As Brazil faced the last years of its military dictatorship and transition to democracy, a generation of forward-thinking musicians developed an alternative vision of Brazilian music and culture. They embraced traditionally shunned electronic production methods and infused their music with elements of ambient, jazz-fusion, and minimalism. At the same time they referenced the musical forms and spirituality of indigenous tribes from the Amazon. The music they produced was a complex and mesmerising tapestry that vividly evoked Brazilian landscapes and simultaneously reached out to the world beyond its borders.
.The product of extensive research, this compilation is a unique introduction to this visionary music and features many fresh discoveries in a country well trodden by record diggers. It gathers tracks from obscure albums that have for too long been neglected by even the most avid collectors of Brazilian music. It includes now highly sought after music by Andréa Daltro, Maria Rita, and Fernando Falcão, as well as unknown gems like those of Cinema, Carlinhos Santos, and Anno Luz. This is an essential release that reveals a broader spectrum of Brazilian music, striking a unique sonic signature that is full of innovation, experimentation, and beauty.
Compiled by John Gómez and featuring extensive liner notes, Outro Tempo showcases this overlooked corner in Brazil’s rich music history for the first time."
'Versions' leaves out the vocal accompaniment and exposes the production as it drifts off into instrumental effervescence...
This second breathtaking CD leaves out the vocal accompaniment and exposes the terryfingly deep Basic Channel production as it drifts off into instrumental effervescance. The hallmarks are all there; Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald have already set the world ablaze once, twice, three, four times with their work as Basic Channel and the splintering into microscopic, heavyweight offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix. It's hard to over-emphasise just how important their music has been to us over the last two decades and, for that matter, just how substantial their impact has had on everything that has taken place in electronic music since.
Following convention, each of these labels has offered a catalogue up on record (in this case 10" releases) before compiling the music. This is, in fact, the second Burial Mix compilation, the first "showcase" concentrating on the label's collaborations with Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, for its opening set of releases. This second installment divides itself into Vocal and Instrumental "Versions" (the Vocal tracks are collected seperately on a second release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon"), and features a by-now totally classic collection of tracks that in their time have all been singles of the week for us here.
Just thinking of the majestic exuberance of "King in My Empire", or the breathtaking space of "Making Histroy" makes it hard to fathom how this material hasn't really aged a day in all these years...
(Suburban Knight + DJ Pierre’s Wild Pitch Mixes) ÷ King Tubby x X³ = Basic Channel’s Q1.1. Or something. Stone cold essential techno classic. As ever; mastered and cut at Dubplates & Mastering, pressed at Pallas.
Music From Memory mine more gold from Michal Turtle’s archive of idiosyncratic home recordings made in Croydon between 1983-85. Combining vocals like a pre-echo of Dale Cornish, together with the dreamiest electro-jazz, balmy ambient dub and languid 4th world grooves, this one has breezy summer days and long warms nights written all over its blissed out face.
“Delving further into the archives of British musician Michal Turtle, MFM 029 ‘Return To Jeka’ brings together eight previously unreleased works recorded between 1983 and 1985. Drawn from a larger archive of works the compilation highlights a fascinating period of material Michal recorded after the release of his only album.
Working as an accompanist musician at the Laban Centre in New Cross at the time, Michal there met Jonathan Smart who was currently studying Dance. After being invited to add spoken word vocals to a few of Michal’s tracks, Michal discovered Jonathan was also an accomplished guitarist; and Jonathan would add guitar to a number of recordings from this period. Vocalist Lucianne Lassalle who Michal was working with in locals bands ‘The Duplicates’ and ‘The Wicked Kitchen Staff’ and who had worked with Michal on recordings for his album, would also collaborate with Michal during this period.
While some tracks were produced with he idea in mind of a follow up to his album ‘Music From The Living Room which UK label Shout proposed but which would sadly not materialise, others were in fact demos written for student dance choreographies. Produced in the living room of his parents home in Croydon, South London and later in his apartment in Camden Town, Michal Turtle’s home recordings featured on’Return To Jeka’ continue his unique musical explorations; drawing extensively on the use of percussion and electronics they bring together elements which were not only in many aspects visionary but also sound like little else.”