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.
What were the clouds like when Huerco S was young? The Kansas-raised, New York-based producer’s absorbing ambient album For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) goes some way to answering The Orb’s fluffy little proposition…
Brian Leeds a.k.a. Huerco S’s 2nd album, following Colonial Patterns (2013) finds him working between the cracks and fissures of what we’ve previously heard from him, drawing out nine pieces of mineral ambient textures and non-percussive rhythms marking his best work since the 20 minute Untitled track off his debut for Opal Tapes in 2012.
Defined throughout by a low lit, low-lying sense of intimacy, rather than oceanic or celestial tropes, Leeds’ appreciation of lower case nuance is in warm, crackling effect with a hazy hummus like grain and bonfire glow that recalls Wanda Group’s earlier outing as The Hers, or the sweeter touches of Bellows.
Like a well timed gary, once it really begins to sink in, the warbly electronic pitches and subtly chaotic ferric details really get to work in hypnotising and making you forget where you started, suspending disbelief for a 50 minute window of time just long enough to let your mind wander over the horizon.
Time will tell, but this is surely a future ambient classic.
'Prata Bagnati Del Monte Analogo' is a sublime and truly rarified piece of occult esoterica produced by the famous Franco Battiato and originally published in 1979 on a series he curated for Gianni Sassi's Cramps Records.
This edition has been remastered from original tapes and mercifully made available again by California’s Superior Viaduct. It was inspired by the unfinished pataphysical novel 'Le Mont Analogue' by French writer Renè Daumal, himself a student of engimatic Armenian mystic Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff, whose teachings providing rich reference and spiritual guidance to the record's producer, Battiato, and its performers, Francesco Messina and Juri Camisasca.
A-side is a breathtaking 23 minute mediation played on Moog and Roland Vocoder synths, and EMS Synthi, stroking runs of gentle arpeggios over angelic pads with the sort of intimate pattern repetitions that could happily go on for infinity. Imagine a more sanguine, unhurried Iasos or Laraaji, or as Stephan Mathieu aptly puts it, "Vainqueur, Substance and Resilent as children chanting their vocodered chants" and you're there with us, floating lotus position one foot from the floor.
Raoul Lovisoni's B-side is more colourful and equally beautiful in its own right. His 'Hula Om' features Patti Tassini's purposefully wandering harp and intimate ambient sounds of the room it was recorded in, whereas the glassy resonance of 'Amon Ra' features a Lovisoni rubbing glasses to Juri Camisasca's chant.
Remastered and expanded reissue of a beautiful early K. Leimer album demonstrating his DIY Closed System Potentials method for painting lush electro-acoustic ambient scapes. It follows excellent retrospective compilations issued by RVNG Intl (a Period of Review) and V-O-D (Recordings 1977-90) to get farther below the surface, in the mind of his pioneering, homespun magic.
“Closed System Potentials is honest and intimate music, with the elements of DIY work ‘by hand’ that lends a realness and tangibility to the proceedings. Its juxtapositions are, to me, distinctly Northwestern: it is both alive and synthetic; homespun in execution, yet cinematic in aspiration; acknowledges global experimentalism of the time, yet reveals some isolation in its curious re-wiring of genre standards; grayscale in mood, but with an underpinning of hopefulness that, for me, recalls the futurism of the time.”
Tirzah pursues the slowest-burning soul feels on Devotion, the London-based singer-songwriter’s humbly singular début album, produced by Mica Levi and providing us with total life affirming summer listening - most probably the record we've listened to most this year so far, and one that lingers on and on...
Since her first solo 12”s and thru frequent collaborations with Mica Levi - including the Taz And May Vids  for DDS - Tirzah has quietly blossomed into one of the UK’s most precious and peculiar artists working at the fringes of experimental pop, post-grime and R&B, and Devotion is set to bring her love to a wider audience.
Plaintive and low key, Devotion presents Tirzah’s vocal in the most evocative light, framed by backdrops of bleary-eyed and bent vibes and the kind of half-finished, permanently work-in-progress production style that's become a calling card of her music and her tight knit crew including Coby Sey, Mica Levi and Brother May.
Album of the year? Aye, quite possibly.
Giant Swan do their soggy, line-dancing taps aff thing for this Mannequin ace.
Giant Swan specialise in a form of raucous showmanship that evidently works wonders in live situations (check the numerous online vids of crowds losing their shit).
On the High Waisted EP they knuckle out swaggering drums and blunted vox of The Rest of His Voice beside the gnarly noise keen of Architectural Hangover, while the B-side slams out a wonky techno girder with howling breakdown, and the salty nothings of Palm.
A sublime compilation of cherry-picked, lysergic ambient experiments. Commemorating the ancient Roman festival of ‘Neptunalia’ with 10 tracks by H. Takahashi, David Edren, and a strong handful of Finnish artists such as Kuupuu, Marja Ahti, Ilpo Numminen, and Nuslux (who also compiled the set)
“Neptunalia, a festival of Neptune, celebrated at Rome, of which very little is known. The day on which it was held, was probably the 23rd of July. The festival was celebrated with games. Respecting the ceremonies of this festival nothing is known, except that the people used to build huts of branches and foliage, in which they probably feasted, drank, and amused themselves. From a "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities" by John Murray, London, 1875.”
Vital new electro and techno trax from the one and only Dopplereffekt, and Berlin's Objekt.
Once again, Leisure System bring out the best from Dopplereffekt, following the excellent 'Tetrahymena' 12" with some of their sharpest rhythms and inimitably romantic synth arrangements in 'Delta Wave' - the kind that only adventurous DJs will spin out, and the best crowds will appreciate. Objekt, meanwhile, keeps face with a strong effort called 'Ganzfeld' that sounds something like DJ Stingray in a step-off with Optical, all angular geometrics and moody blue pads...
‘And Nothing Hurt’ is Spiritualized’s eighth album, the follow up to 2012’s ‘Sweet Heart, Sweet Light’.
"From the opening lullaby of ‘A Perfect Miracle’ through to the fading Morse Code at the close of ‘Sail On Through’, it painstakingly wraps layer upon layer of gloriously transcendent sound together to create a mesmerizing and cinematic collection of songs. There are points - the thunderous climax of ‘On The Sunshine’; the spectral waltz of ‘The Prize’; the towering guitar solo on ‘I’m Your Man’ - where the waves of blissful noise are almost overwhelming, where one can imagine the studio’s speakers vibrating themselves off of the walls. Which is an incredible feat when you discover that the album was conceived and recorded almost entirely by one man - Jason Pierce, AKA J.Spaceman - in an upstairs room in his east London home. Sat in an edit suite in Whitechapel a month or so after finishing recording, Jason talks honestly about the painstaking, frustrating process of creating ‘And Nothing Hurt’: “Making this record on my own sent me more mad than anything I’ve done before. We’d been playing these big shows and I really wanted to capture that sound we were making but, without the funds to do, I had to find a way to work within the constraints of what money I had. So I bought a laptop and made it all in a little room in my house.”
For the listener, the nine tracks on ‘And Nothing Hurt’ effortlessly replicate the scale and power of Spiritualized’s previous releases, whether it’s the sonic blowback of ‘On The Sunshine’, the last dime in the jukebox love letter of ‘Let’s Dance’ or the swell of an imaginary orchestra that seems to lift ‘Damaged’ towards the heavens as it plays out."
Chilly Gonzales kinda puts everything else into perspective with this time-stopping solo piano delicacy. Delivered on his personal imprint, Gentle Threat, this third volume in his much loved Solo pIano series teases out fleeting emotions with each flurry of keys, sure to seduce anyone who’s still smote by the now classic album first volume.
"The album comes six years after Solo Piano II and, according to Gonzales, at “a more problematic inﬂection point”. "Like its predecessors, it’s a mostly happy ending in C major, but there is more dissonance, tension and ambiguity along the way… The musical purity of Solo Piano III is not an antidote for our times, it is a reﬂection of all the beauty and ugliness around us.”
Known as much for the intimate piano touch of best-selling albums Solo Piano I and Solo Piano II as for his showmanship and composition for award-winning stars, "Gonzo", as he is known to close collaborators, aims to be a man of his time, approaching the piano with classical and jazz training but with the attitude of a rapper. He holds the Guinness world record for the longest solo concert at over 27 hours. He performs and writes songs with Jarvis Cocker, Feist and Drake, among others, with recent collaborators including the likes of Ibeyi and Toddla T. With Never Stop, Chilly Gonzales composed a global hit for the inaugural Apple iPad 2 campaign. In 2014 he won a Grammy for his collaboration on Daft Punk’s ‘Best Album of the Year’ and composed the best-selling book of easy piano pieces Re- Introduction Etudes. With his last album Chambers, Chilly Gonzales devoted himself to ﬁnding a modern take on chamber music.
Most recently, Chilly Gonzales ventured into a new form of entrepreneurship. A culmination of recent years’ explorations in teaching, Gonzo inaugurated his very own music school: The Gonzervatory.
During this all-expenses-paid residential music performance workshop held in Paris, 7 selected students explored Musical Humanism, audience psychology and what it means to be a performing musician in 2018. After a week of intensive coaching, masterclasses and rehearsals, these young musicians performed a concert for an audience of 1500 fans with Chilly Gonzales himself as Master of Ceremony."
The dark lord of Berlin techno unleashes four pieces of brut elegance as the 30th release on his cultish Zhark Recordings
Uncompromising in the extreme and deadly functional, the Heinrich EP gets into gear with the trampling rolige and cavernous warehouse atmospheres of the title cut with its elusive finale, before stripping it all right down to the barest bones with Rattledisco.
On the dead murky swaggernaut Let Me Fly Away From You he hinges on the offbeat with aching effect that resolves with increasing intensity, and Beyond The 4th Alignment finds him tending to his most gothic sensibilities with a rare lick of melody enmeshed into its steely industrial design.
Where Neon Goes To Die’ explores a complex relationship full of highs and lows. From sultry pop to heart aching ballads, the album retells Clark’s travels through the city’s nocturnal fantasyland through hooky, R&B-infused synth pop - file alongside Prince and Frank Ocean...
"Of course, when Clark writes about his city he’s really writing about himself. ‘Where Neon Goes To Die’ retells Clark’s travels through the Miami’s nocturnal fantasyland. At its core, it is the story of a musician casting aside the distractions of his youth and discovering not only a new level of maturity but a new level to his talents."
Thomas Ankersmit, last seen on a pair of excellent albums for PAN and Touch (in 2011 and 2014, respectively) pays tribute to legendary Dutch composer / electronic and tape music pioneer Dick Raaijmakers with an extended study in electronic music, utilising Serge Modular feedback and sine/pulse/random generators, contact mic, and tape speed variation to mirror some of Raaijmakers’ deeply weird experiments. As the label so eloquently explain - despite the abstract nature of the material, a sense of loss somehow pervades.
Raaijmakers is a genuinely legendary figure in the history of electronic music, and Thomas Ankersmit’s fitting homage lands almost five years to the date of his passing, aged 83, in September 2013. Replete with experiments with sounds not found in the music, but generated by the listener’s own ear as a strange side-effect, this extended piece re-contextualizes Raaijmakers’ ideas about composition and spatial experience to focus on the sounds of raw electricity through creatively abused electronics, composing with analogue micro-sounds, and the three-dimensional sound fields; referencing storms, thunder, crashing and falling objects, and distant radio transmissions.
The concept of the recording is directly inspired by Raaijmakers’ thoughts on “holophonic” sound fields to be individually explored by the listener. With this phenomenon, the listener’s inner ears actively generate sounds that don’t exist in the recorded signal, and which can change with a small movement of the head. In other words; it’s unlikely that you will experience this piece of music in quite the same way as anyone else, or that you will experience it that way more than once. And it’s perhaps this sense of transience; of not quite knowing whether what you’re listening to has a real, physical presence, or is a direct result of strange otoacoustic phenomena, that imbues this work with such unexplained melancholy.
Listening to music borne out of conceptual curiosity, it's rare to suddenly find yourself staring into space, thinking about time, about the intangible essence of experience and beauty, of life itself. Homage To Dick Raaijmakers is an exceptional recording; approach with patience and care.
After announcing he’s winding down from duties in The Orb, Thomas Fehlmann “checks the juice” with a fine, squashed set of ambient-dub-techno jaunts. Make sure to check for the roiling acid-dub flow of ‘Morrislouis’, the way that the bassline on ‘Window’ practically drops out of the speakers, and the spiralling waltz of ‘Freiluft’.
"Establishing a picture of his current artistic condition, as suggested by the title - los lagos / die lage / the situation (literally translating to 'the lakes' but taking the meaning of 'wassup' in the context of a relaxed discussion between friends), the album refers to Fehlmann's "musical motivation, dreams and wishes" through the language of music exclusively: a way to "allow myself to techno" he says, "to techno as a means to deconstruct and rebuild again. Set up an area of tension, loose it in the flow of the grooves. Magnifying some detail out of proportion, regroup around that and slowly knit a texture. Expand."
"It was time to take a bend and head where the sun rises or sets, wherever my heart drives me." This is pretty much the kind of decision Thomas Fehlmann has made. 61 and shining, longstanding member of The Orb, multi-talented composer and boundless experimentalist, had to make in the twilight of his collaboration with Alex Paterson, eager to taste the flavours of the unknown on his own again. "It was the moment when felxibility would have become compromise”. Far from being the demise of their joint dream, this was bound to split it in two distinct, parallel fantasies - rich of their own singularity.
As goes with that essential love of his for the free-flowing nature of electronic music, a fascination born out of its "lack of borders", capable of "inventing, changing the emphasis, experimenting with an unpredictable outcome", 'Los Lagos' "freely connects disparate extremes. Art, disco, minimalism, schmalz, jazz and funk". As he likes to say, Fehlmann's head functions as a sampler, capturing elements and re-assembling them under his own embracing perspective ; not afraid to leap from a deep, dubbed-out hypnotism ('Window', 'Morrislouis', 'Freiluft') to the playfulness of '90s-style bleepy schaffel ('Tempelhof' featuring Max Loderbauer), through out-there, muscle-flexing dancefloor cuts ('Triggerism') onto the calmness of ambient ('Geworden’).
In need to keep his inner balance in check, Fehlmann committed himself to "switch off the control" and follow his intuition, which isn't so much of an easy process as he also wanted to incorporate the side disturbances experienced: "it’s a complex process of search and destroy to bring out a new beauty trying to expand my vocabulary". With 'Los Lagos', Fehlmann looked at finding "the structure that's surprising, disturbing and rewarding". The artwork for the record, courtesy of contemporary artist and friend Albert Oehlen whom he shares lots of artistic ambitions with, echoes the producer's "funky use of shape and space, sludge and clarity" like a second skin. A search for light and harmony that Fehlmann sums up eloquently: "Does your inner musical voice respond?", that is the question. Then "doors open up in unexpected corners, rays of light appear; you follow through and you're in - in your oasis."
RIYL: Jon Hopkins, Pantha Du Prince, Yann Tiersen, mum, Public Service Broadcasting, Tunng, Efterklang...
"‘There Is No Elsewhere’ is Haiku Salut’s third album and sees the acclaimed trio from Derbyshire continue their distinctive re-imagining of dreampop and rural electronica. Influenced by the evocative film soundtracks of Yann Tiersen and Benoit Charest, the genre-melting electronica of early Mum, and the impressionistic writing of Haruki Murakami, the band have previously released two critically acclaimed albums whilst last year they collaborated with Public Service Broadcasting on the track “They Gave Me A Lamp”, which featured on the PSB’s top five album, Every Valley. Yet it is this release that sees the band finally find their place, both musically and politically.
“It is an album about occupying your space, being proud of what you believe in and who you are,” says Sophie Barkerwood from the band. “It’s about making small life changes, making better decisions, writing better songs, having better conversations, knowing that these can lay foundations for change. It’s about finding who you are and not being dictated to about what you should be. It’s about celebrating others. It’s about making changes for a better future.”
This sense of solidarity and community prompted Haiku Salut to work with Glastonbury Brass on “Cold To Crack The Stones” and “The More And Moreness”, both of which marry the band’s ambitious interweaving of nelectronic and organic, natural and unnatural with the triumphant warmth of a brass band in full flow (with the former featuring a manipulation of a NASA recording of pulses emitted by lightning). It also provided the emotional core of the hypnotic electronic attack of “Occupy”, the genre-melting joy of “We Are All Matter”, and the startling “I Am Who I Remind You Of”, a seven minute pastoral symphony that sees treated vocals and glitched electronica blur into tradition, history and a sense of belonging, like waking up to sunshine after a long and dazzling dream."
Teklife’s Heavee charges up a strong debut solo album with ‘WFM’, featuring guest spots from DJ Rashad, DJ Phil, DJ Paypal, Gant-Man and more
Moving on from last year’s link-ups with Fractal Fantasy and the ‘Panic’ track from Teklife’s ‘On Life’ package, Heavee spells out his definition of footwork and juke, personalised with a soulful deftness and playfully forward funk.
You want highlights? Go get ‘em in the frenetic then squashed flex of ‘It’s Wack’ featuring DJ Rashad, the minaimlist mix of rap and footwork on ‘Cloud Rise’ featuring DJ Phil, and the hyper, intricate pointillism of ‘So High’ with DJ Paypal, then let your jaw drop at the wild discipline of ‘Scream At Me’, with Gant-Man, DJ Paypal and Sirr TMO on board.
Psychedelically enhanced synth experiments from Amsterdam’s Ben Penn on Young Marco’s label; ranging from psilocybin-soaked ambience to sticky, funked up synth boogie
“June 2018, Amsterdam, NL: 12 months ago we concluded a series of experiments with a test subject named Ben Penn. A year on, we decided to repeat this experiment at his Tilburg base. Once again, the results were startling...
After being provided with a sizeable dose of an enhanced and notably stronger derivative of 4-Ho Met (codenamed ST011), Penn not only reported intense hallucinations but also enhanced music production capabilities. With the aid of electronic instruments and hardware, he worked quickly, producing both his trademark “higher level inter-dimensional funk” and compositions that defied our previous expectations.
During the early stages of his ST011 experience, Penn completely ignored the provided Rhythm Composer and instead crafted a colourful, humid, jazzy and beat-free track entitled “Nix”, which boasted loose and fluid synthesizer motifs. As his hallucinatory experience intensified, Penn giddily tapped out tropical rhythms on the provided beat-making device, smothering them in alien electronics and sticky melodies. When we asked what this devilishly good cut was called, he simply replied: “Not Important”.
As the test went on and the most intense symptoms died down, Penn was much like his old self. Before the ST011 wore off completely, he was able to finish two examples of his trademark “inter-dimensional funk”: the skewed, introspective, bassline-driven wooziness of “Ben” and the mazy, kaleidoscopic goodness of “People”. The latter composition was particularly potent and ear pleasing, suggesting that his ST011 experience had finished on an intense high.”
Afro-futurist talent Scott Xylo releases his debut album 'Find Us When You Get There' via Black Acre.
"23 years old, Scott Xylo makes gloriously fragmented electronic structures that are as delicate as they are intoxicating. Sitting somewhere between hip-hop, neo-soul, left field electronics, and UK system culture, his work reaches a new level on the incoming full length."
‘Burn Slow’ is a 10-track album from Chris Liebing with vocal contributions from a diverse range of artists: Miles Cooper Seaton (Akron / Family), Mute labelmate Polly Scattergood (onDeadWaves), Cold Cave, Aleen and, of course, Gary Numan.
"‘Burn Slow’ is a minimalist electronic epic and the start of a new chapter for one of techno’s leading authorities. It might not be what you expect for a DJ synonymous with fast, hard and heavy techno but, according to Chris Liebing, he’s always been something of a slow starter: “I’ve wanted to do something like ‘Burn Slow’ all my life,” he says.
While retaining the framework of the techno beats that Chris Liebing has dedicated his life to for the past 25 years, here he also seeks out new harmonic territories, taking aim at the heart rather than the feet, in order to tackle some deep themes. The key concept of presence - the idea that everything is happening in this moment and that everything in the past is mere memory - form the thematic backbone of the record. It’s something Liebing got in touch with via philosopher Alan Watts, not to mention decades of getting entire dancefloors lost in the present: “If people would stay in the now, everything in the world would just have a bit more harmony,” explains Liebing.
Liebing has teamed up with Ralf Hildenbeutel (a key part of the long since defunct Eye Q family) for ‘Burn Slow’ and it was at his new musical ‘enabler’ Hildenbeutel’s Frankfurt studio that Liebing began drifting into new territory."
Brendon Moeller offers up his ‘Set In Motion’ EP on Echocord sub-label Echo Echo, comprising three originals from the Dub Techno veteran.
New York based producer and DJ Brendon Moeller aka Beat Pharmacy/Echologist has long been respected as one of the pioneering figures in ethereal, dubbed-out Techno with regular appearances at global hot spots like fabric, Berghain and Cielo as well as releases on labels like Third Ear, Kimochi, Neovinyl and Echocord. Here though we see Moeller joining the roster of the latter’s sublabel Echo Echo, marking its fourth release.
Title-track ‘Set In Motion’ leads with Brendon’s signature murky synth textures at its core whilst lumpy low-end tones, shuffled hats and spiraling dub echoes fluidly undulate amongst one another throughout. ‘Eastern Beach’ follows, and as the name would suggest, nods towards brighter sounds with airy pads, soft bell chime synths and pulsating subs driving the composition alongside swinging, heavily reverberated percussion. ‘Economy’ then closes the package, stripping things back to gritty dub stabs, dusty 4/4 drums and billowing noise sweeps."
Excellent, overcast atmospheric electronic pressure systems from Iranian artist Siavash Amini.
“After 2017's Tar', Foras is Iranian sound artist Siavash Amini's second album for the Hallow Ground and his sixth solo album in only six years. The four tracks see him returning to his singular approach that blends harsh electronic noise with lush granular synthesis and classical compositional techniques. Over the course of roughly 38 minutes, the album navigates between different and at times seemingly contradictory moods, thus mirroring its underlying concept. Foras explores how individual sorrow relates to and is triggered by space.
Similar to what the late theorist Mark Fisher has dubbed the "eerie," the LP focuses on how landscapes and buildings connect to and transform the inside world and thus the psychological experience. May it be by passing through a space haunted by collective memories of loss or tragedy, or by means of interpersonal dialogue, or even a memory of such events in each individual's mind elaborates Amini on the starting points from which Foras dives further and further into the darkness. It is no surprise then that the incredibly lush soundscapes of Foras evoke distance as much as depth.”
Ital Tek re-emerges with ‘Bodied’, his 6th album of sci-fi electronic scaping, with an increasing emphasis on the sci-fi part, and more sparing, spacious use of rhythm. make sure to check for highlights in the escalating energy of ‘Hymnal’, the teetering sound design of ‘Lithic’, and the staggered fulminations of ‘Bodied’
“Ital Tek's 'Bodied' is the follow up to his acclaimed 2016 album 'Hollowed'. Stepping in a different direction from that album, It’s as if Hollowed's detailed world has been fleshed out and filled with the spectre of human voices.
As on his last album, the sounds on 'Bodied' are highly designed, but this time barely a whisper of dance music remains. Instead it's built around acoustic elements and ghostly choral arrangements, refracted and transformed into atmospheric, alien forms which are given the time to settle and transform. Rhythm is used only as a tool to give his world a sense of dark, mechanical momentum.
Alan explains; "After completing 'Hollowed' I had over a year away from writing any of my own material. I was working, composing music for a video game and a number of different projects. I needed to find a way back in and I rediscovered the joy of music being a release as opposed to a job. I was getting up really early and sketching out lots of ideas very fast, squeezing in quick bursts of writing at the beginning or end of long studio day spent working on other musical projects."
"It was important for me to define the world that the album was going to inhabit before taking it any further, so I put a much greater focus into the sound design and palette than I had before. I wanted to make the music sound very physical, geometric, and monolithic, as if it inhabited a physical space."
"On 'Bodied' the music focuses on the interplay between the minuscule and the vast, beauty and brutalism. With this album I was much more concerned with dynamics and the discipline of holding tension; the use of space and silence to provide a counterpoint to the intensity."
"Most importantly, I was keen for there to be a human acoustic foundation, so I did a lot of live recording of cello, violin, harp and guitar - anything I could get my hands on. I was certain that I wanted there to be a greater vocal presence - nothing lyrical or at the forefront but to give it an underlying organic quality - to impart some humanity into the music."
As Ital Tek moves further from his roots, he's creating new sounds and spaces in which his music can exist. It's up to the listener to decide what kind of world 'Bodied' evokes, but it's certainly one that's beautiful and rewarding to spend time in.”
Written and recorded live in the Invada studios...
"Showcasing the lyrical side of Beak>, ‘Brean Down’ sounds as though Nirvana are gatecrashing a Bronx B-Boy mconvention. ‘Brean Down’ is the first single taken from the band’s forthcoming third album ‘>>>’."
London’s Toma Kami brings some serious drums to his debut platter for Livity Sound following a strong of self-released 12”s on Man Band Rec.
On ‘Sharp Tool In The Shed’ he deftly churns up a polyrhythmic fuss for 2 minutes before calving away into sparking electro-funk at full wingspan, whereas ‘Land Of The Insane’ grubs around at slower tempo with swingeing woodblock drums and piquant synth arps in super colourful tessellation.
This is really good; a first taster of Factory Floor's score to Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterpiece Metropolis; with a surprisingly assymetric take on New Beat on the A-side's Transform, and a slowed down, pulsing charmer on the flip sounding something like a more angular take on HTRK. This is the second reease on Factory Floor's own imprint H/O/D Records.
"Transform, a section inspired by Maria's transformation from human into the robot, reveals itself in a haze of accumulating ambience and scattered percussion that evolves into the heavy repetitive bass groove reassuringly stabilizes Maria's journey into metamorphosis.
The slow tempo and atmospheric wash of synths and electronics on side B 'Wonder' offering a hesitant hush contrast."
Kromestar runs amok on two lethal remixes of Pinch classics
The dread trial swagger of ‘The Boxer’ is amped to wide-eyed and ravenous degrees on the ‘Southpaw remix’, while the shutting half step of ‘Swish’ comes on noisier, raging and unrelenting.
Third in the 'Diving Bird' series from Andy Mac for Idle Hands.
"The third in the series sees Mac draw on Highlife and Dub influences.The A side leads off with 'Sketch 3' a rough hewn House track with live elements while 'Dancehall Style' does what it says on the tin.
On the B side Acido's Dreesen and PST remix 'Longships' from Diving Bird #1 into a hypnotic and subtley subby track with a Dub Techno feel."
Compelling Ballardian descriptions of life in a seaside town, rendered in textured ambience, melancholic techno and warbling, degraded synth vignettes. RIYL Leyland Kirby, Bellows, Helm...
“Vast, expansive and introspective works utilising place-specific found sound on this second Cremation Lily LP for Alter. Contemplating mortality, illness and the perennial bleakness of British winter in a seaside town we find Zen Zsigo experimenting with piano, violin, synthesiser and walkman tape players. Layering field recordings of the Hastings shoreline atop druggy, stretched out 303 basslines and snippets of spoken word there seems to be an overarching thematic of memory and reflection at play.
From vignettes of crumbling glass and bittersweet drones through to sprawling, semi-rhythmical pieces (‘As a sea creature...’) it seems as if Zsigo is trawling the coast for fragments of its former glory. The end result of his study manages to echo the work of Yoran, Leyland Kirby and even Jacob Kirkegaard yet the rare moments where he lays bare his own vocal narrative seemingly transforms In England Now, Underwater into sonic diary territory. Mixing salt-water soaked cassette loops with haunting, minimalist piano motifs and warped recordings of crashing waves and bird noise an intense atmosphere of Ballard’s drowned world is evoked through sound.”
Charlie Bones' much anticipated imprint launches with this killer 3-tracker, perfectly distilling the essence of his much loved Do You? breakfast show for NTS...
"3 tracks reflecting past, present and future and the spectrum of my DO!!YOU!!! NTS radio show. Dog & Fox - Who Gets The Cows....Futuristic philosophy banger Bryce Hackford - You Get High In NYC....Disco banger Seiji Ono - Celebrate Your Life...Live jam."
Killer, smudged & lofi wavey synth & boogie joints from Sao Paulo, Brasil's Fernando, best known for his more floor-oriented releases as Innsyter and Seixlack for L.A. Club Resource and 777. Fans of PPU take note; this one's a peach.
"For this release, his first LP under his given name, we get a vast array of mutant electronics with surprisingly insane, almost pop, songwriting structure over 15 tracks. These songs conjure up a weird netherworld where all things bizarre and wrong come to head and spiral out of control.
Think the drum machine driven punk funk dub outs of 80s New York City meets the catchy low fi charm of Ariel Pink combined with the element of chewed up vhs cassettes getting spit out of the machine and your on the right track.
Fernando manages to create a truly unique sound that's equal parts catchy yet has sinister, underlying back alley undertones.
Check "Actual Job" for immediate Arthur Russell vibes or the VHS boogie of "Erotic Moments" for starters."
Factory Benelux presents a deluxe edition of Without Mercy, the fourth studio album by cult Manchester group The Durutti Column, originally issued in 1984 and widely regarded as Vini Reilly’s most ambitious album.
"In 1983 Durutti Column mentor/manager Tony Wilson asked Vini Reilly to abandon fleeting guitar miniatures in favour of a long-form modern classical piece. The result was an ambitious 20 minute instrumental suite, Without Mercy, performed by core Durutti duo Vini Reilly and Bruce Mitchell along with Blaine L. Reininger and John Metcalfe (violas), Caroline Lavelle (cello), Tim Kellett (trumpet) and Maunagh Fleming (cor anglais).
Explains Vini: “Tony had just come in for a conversation one day and said, ‘Look, you keep making these albums that you want to make, and I’m quite happy with you doing that, but just give me this one album and do it my way.’ He wanted it to have a narrative determined by a Keats poem, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, which he said was the poet’s version of a pop song: boy meets girl, falls in love with girl, loses girl, blah blah blah. It was a very, very Tony way of looking at it. He had aspirations that I should be taken seriously.”
Produced by Reilly and Wilson at Strawberry Studio and Britannia Row, Without Mercy was originally split into 19 separate stanzas, some of which have now been restored using digital cue points on the CD. Bonus tracks include the original recordings of Duet, Estoril a Noite and Favourite Descending Intervals (all re-worked for inclusion on Without Mercy), as well as companion EP Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say, collaborations with John Metcalfe, Steven Brown and Benjamin Lew, and two previously unreleased live sets across Discs 3 and 4, recorded at London School of Economics in December 1984 and Oslo in December 1986."
Fresh from starting his own label Insult To Injury, Timothy Clerkin returns with three tracks for Ransom Note.
"The MVP here is ‘Knife Edge Heart’, an unabashed pop song whose shimmering exterior is cut through with flashes of steely darkness. Frequent collaborator Natalie Reiss’ glacial voice is held at the perfect level of remove, while Timothy allows his love of shoegaze to blossom with a guitar line that seems to extend like a ladder to the stars.
‘With You’ bridges Timothy’s opposing impulses, balancing sparkling synths and a celestial vocal sample with churning low-end, while ‘Divisive’ is paranoid warehouse techno at its very best. With his debut solo album out soon on Phantasy, Gabe Gurnsey of Factory Floor stops by for a lurching, seasick remix of ‘Knife Edge Heart’ that sounds like the onset of the robot apocalypse we’ve all been promised for so long.
After cutting his teeth as one half of Eskimo Twins, Timothy launched his solo career in 2014 under the now-retired Heretic moniker. He’s since released on labels including Throne of Blood, Hard Fist and Days of Being Wild. Timothy’s last release on R$N was the 'Serenade' EP, which brought us plenty of special moments last year - most memorably Andrew Weatherall closing out his Houghton quarry set with ‘Execute’. Here’s to many more this summer and beyond."
Repress of Walhalla Records’ class 2nd volume of Underground Belgian Wave rarities, all making their vital first appearance on vinyl, mostly a generation after their original release on some of Belgium’s hardest-to-find tapes.
Volume 2 is perhaps bets known for including the nifty Berntholer rarity Toys, and also features some big highlights in the likes of Autumns’ slippery synth-pop bubbler Synthesise, and two bullets from almost-rans Tangible Joy, namely the rocket fuel of Move and the swirling disco jakbeat Some Say I’m Drunk (But I’m Only In Love), alongside Eliza Waut’s etheric beauty Summary Of All My Dreams.
If you’ve been following Minimal Wave, Dark Entries, Mannequin Records, or STROOM 〰 in recent years, you need to check this one ,too.
Jay Glass Dubs returns with this plate of new, original material channelling Greek pop and echoes of classic 4AD soused in distress and flipped in dub...properly good, perhaps the best yet from Dimitris Papadatos.
Jay Glass Dubs sublimates Athenian distress and ennui into plasmic dub ether on ‘Plegnic’, his lushly evolved first collection of new material for Ecstatic, following from their acclaimed, 2LP ‘Dubs’ set of his earliest, hard-to-find tape releases, Deconstructing and rebuilding Jamaican dub with musique concrete production methods and a lingering air of inspiration from classic 4AD, new age and Laïko, or Greek popular music, Jay Glass Dubs fascinatingly evolves his sound with richer melodic and harmonic arrangements in a concerted effort to bridge and expand the nostalgic, esoteric and dancefloor dimensions of his unique sound world.
The key to the record lies in its title, ‘Plegnic’; an extinct word meaning “to strike like a hammer”, as well as its palpable sense of nostalgia. In this archaic context, JGD uses vintage machines and obsolete samples into junction with vocals from Yorgia Karidi - sound artist and coincidentally former beau of his childhood neighbour, and Andreas Kassapis one of his oldest friends, who provides the cover art - to conjure a strikingly new, mutated take on classic and well-trodden styles; metaphorically and anachronistically renewing their purpose while connoting his newfound dancefloor drive in the process.
Recording took place at his mother’s house in the Athens suburbs, with Fugazi’s ‘Steady Diet of Nothing’ on repeat. It was here that he dug out an old Juno, a Yamaha RX5 drum computer, and some “…crappier equipment” that provides the structural scaffold to his array of nostalgic, melancholic Laïka samples, which could be considered the ghost in the shell or the diffused soul of this superb five part crop.
On the A-side he sets out to spook with the desiccated, teetering steppers motion of ‘Temple Dub’ featuring heavily processed vox by Yorgia Karidi but the heady nostalgia takes over with a sublime tactility in the vaulted chorales and endless reverb tails of ‘Umbro Dub’, and again in the aching sehnsucht of ‘Mouthless Dub’, where traces of Laïka’s bouzouki melodies most beautifully glimmer thru.However, the B-side is far more upfront and up-for-it, firstly putting his weight behind the cranky skank of ‘Dry Dub’ with its hexagonal drums and acidic bass squirm, then in the super squashed swagger of ‘Fearless Dub’, a near 10 minute long pinnacle of his dancefloor output to date.
Ultimately Jay Glass Dubs’ music is riddled with the kind of nostalgia that can make an unfamiliar piece of music feel like an intense déjà entendu, like you’ve heard it before in a dream or some altered state. That’s a rare and precious thing.
Between the three artists involved here, Linkwood, Fudge Fingas and Bacon Rolls, are enough ideas, samples and restless dancefloor energy to fuel a small city if only someone could work out a way to harness such a thing.
If you've heard the other two 10"s in the series you'll know what to expect, if not, it's probably the most potent brew of funk, soul, disco, house and even electro this side of Moodymann and has rightfully found a spot in the box of everyone from Gilles Peterson to Derrick May since it's initial release in 2005. Well fun*ed.
‘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
Supersilent maestro Arve Henriksen yields a proper release of his haunting suite, ‘The Height of the Reeds’, originally commissioned for a sound walk over the Humber bridge in Hull. In its play of scale, scope, and its balance of quietly fraught tension and epic symphonic gestures, this one is another masterpiece in Arve’s huge oak cabinet...
“"The Height Of The Reeds" started as a commissioned work to the city of Hull, Great Britain´s cultural capital 2017. Composed by Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang, the work celebrates the longstanding seafaring relationship between Hull and Scandinavia. It was originally the musical companion to a sound walk that took place in April, May and June 2017.
Those who took part could listen to the music on headphones while crossing the Humber Bridge. Initially intended for April only, the arrangement proved so popular it ended up with selling out three months, a total of 15.000 tickets. This beautifully evocative music can now be experienced through this release, where only minor adjustments have been done to justify the transition from sound walk to album. It´s an exquisite addition to Arve Henriksen´s large and fast growing discography, and sits perfectly well with his popular Jan Bang contributions "Chiaroscuro" (2004) and "Places Of Worship" (2013).”
Almost exactly a year since his first EP on Byrd Out (the Kiyadub EP), Andrew Weatherall returns with new material for a second release.
"Andrew invited a mate round to his studio to try out a Les Paul his friend was looking to buy. As it turns out, his mate was Ride's (and Oasis') guitarist Andy Bell. Anyway, Andrew suggested he test the guitar out over a track he was working on, and `Making Friends With The Invader' is the resulting track, which Andrew paired with the EP's title track `Blue Bullet'.
Both tracks plough the trippy, cosmic dub furrow, and come in at a weighty 8 and 9 minutes plus."
'Control / Applications' is a split release born out of Amsterdam's warehouse scene, fusing together electro matrix rhythms, IDM, with warped hums and breaks used by dancers and performers heading up the rave.
"With a track on our Future Works III comp last year, this is his debut record on the label: a release challenging superstructures buried among the sweat particles of the floor."
Feat founding member of Sweet Exorcist and cabaret Voltaire, plus remixes from Daniel Miller and Lonelady...
"The lead remix is by Crooked Man (Richard Barratt aka Parrot) who started mixing drum machines and soul music in Sheffield 30-odd years when Stephen Mallinder was still in Cabaret Voltaire. He later became one half of Sweet Exorcist with Richard H Kirk - early pioneers of techno on Warp label - is a founding member of the band All Seeing I, works regularly with Roisin Murphy and is now creating forward looking house music for DFA Records.
Another new, previously unreleased track for this EP is LoneLady’s remix of ‘Space Ace’ from Wrangler’s debut album, LA Spark. The guitar and vocals are instantly recognisable on this collaboration which is their third together, following LoneLady (Julie Campbell) contributing guitars on Wrangler’s ‘Dirty’ (from second album, White Glue) and Wrangler remixing LoneLady’s ‘Bunkerpop’ from Campbell’s album of the same name. The other remix on the EP is Daniel’s Miller’s fantastic take on ‘Theme From Wrangler’ which has up to now only been available on the limited edition Wrangler album, Sparked."
Ólafur Arnalds' new record 're:member' features Ólafur’s new software, Stratus, which transforms the piano into a "unique new instrument".
"The Stratus Pianos are two self-playing, semi-generative player pianos which are triggered by a central piano played by Ólafur, and are the centrepiece of his new works. The custom-built software is born out of two years of work by the composer and audio developer, Halldór Eldjárn. The algorithms generated from Stratus were also used to create the innovative album artwork. On the album Ólafur uses these methods reinvigorate the compositional experience, feeding back into the creative process in a completely new way.
As Ólafur plays a note on the piano, two different notes are generated by Stratus, creating unexpected harmonies and surprising melodic sequences. Speaking of the album, Ólafur says, “This is my breaking out-of-a-shell album. It’s me taking the raw influences that I have from all these different musical genres and not filtering them. It explores the creative process and how one can manipulate that to get out of the circle of expectations and habit.”
Crepuscule presents a reissue of Crystal World , the debut album by Marnie, the moniker adopted by Ladytron lead singer Helen Marnie for her solo recordings.
"Recorded in Reykjavik, Iceland, Crystal World comprises ten original songs written by Marnie with Ladytron colleague Daniel Hunt. Focus track The Hunter was issued as a single in 2013 and subsequently remixed by Stephen Morris of New Order. “The Hunter is a rippling bit of Moroder by returning producer Hunt,” wrote Pitchfork. “Indeed Crystal World is for all intents and purposes the sixth Ladytron album.”
In fact the sixth Ladytron album is due later in 2018. Meanwhile Crystal World remains a stylish, slow-burn bestseller praised as an “ice-cool selection of shimmering nouveau synth-pop and frosty ballads” by The List, and “gorgeous and delectably glacial” by The Electricity Club.
Frequently Marnie laments the sea, itself so suggestive of change and movement, a feeling which ebbs and flows across the record, luring the listener in despite the gathering emotional storm. Focus track The Hunter was issued as a download single in May 2013. Hearts On Fire is another dark anthem with a pop chorus that builds until it's close. Venturing further into Crystal World, Submariner is a fragile tale to warm the coldest of hearts, while closing track Gold inspires just the right amount of melancholy, at the same time ending with soaring guitars and synths and an immense feeling of hope."
Growing up as a teenager in East London, break-dancing and writing graffiti with B12’s Mike Golding, Steve Pickton’s AKA Stais musical education moved along a familiar path, from hip-hop to Electro and onto Techno.
"Schooling himself in music theory and purchasing a sampler Pickton set about making his own music. Releasing on a whose who of seminal UK electronic labels including A.R.T., Likemind, Otherworld and B12 under various pseudonyms Pickton’s UK take on lush Detroit melodies fused techno, funk, hip-hop, dub, blues and jazz into a dense concoction all of his own making. Re-issued for the first time since its initial release in 1993 Circuit Funk Pickton’s debut release on Peacefrog is packed full of lush Detroit melodics and future funk that still sounds unique and fresh today."
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.”
Recorded at the same Rainbow Studio sessions, and with the same top musicians and legendary engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug, this can only be seen as a rightful twin companion to "The Nature Of Connections" from 2014.
"One can easily understand how Arve must have found it difficult to select tracks for "The Nature Of Connections", leaving these on the shelf. "Composograph" is standing rock solid as a top notch Arve Henriksen album. Interestingly enough, the track "Gathering In Vågå" features Arve on rather brilliant, freeflowing saxophone (for the first time on record?).
There are the typical folk music ties, courtesy of fiddlers Nils Økland and Gjermund Larsen, contemporary chamber jazz, nods to avant free music and atmospheric tone poems. All in all, twelve exquisite originals from one of the world´s leading trumpet players."
Founding member and co-creator of ‘Aiwo rec.‘ DJ Normal 4 delivers Second Circle’s eleventh release to date with the EP ‘Exoticz’ .
"Raised close to Düsseldorf in the Ruhr Area, Normal 4 grew up amongst a landscape of dusty factory skeletons and abandoned machine complexes in a formerly thriving industrial conglomerate. Bringing his signature sound of broken industrial dreams mixed with escapist rave fantasies, Normal 4 delves into the archives with two tracks ‘Kalaidoka’ and ‘Aeo’ recorded around 2011/2012, alongside a new track ‘La Arabia’.
Produced at Altstadt Studio Mülheim an der Ruhr, with Normal 4’s good friend Anke Preuß on guitar and vocals, ‘Aeo’ is given the remix treatment by Phillip Otterbach on the ‘Aeo (Ottertasia Mix)’. On the B side the synth freak out ‘Kalaidoka’ is followed by ‘La Arabia’ which rides the breaks into a dusty moonlit desert rave."