Whew! Outta nowhere, Telesoniek Atelier’s airspun synth-works land exquisite on the mind somewhere adjacent Dominique Lawalrée and Tarkovsky soundtracks for a truly unmissable introduction to the world at large.
In ten dream-weaving works for various synths, Telesoniek Atelier present themselves as quite the enigma. Arriving with little to no background info beyond their name Hans J. Kulk - responsible for a small handful of CDrs - and the track titles, we’re left to deduce that they possibly hail from the Lowlands, but it’s anyone’s guess, really.
And it’s no matter, with its gossamer fine appreciation of extended melodic thought, spellbinding timbre and pace that lulls listeners to the lushest hypnagogic states, the collection is like the quietest sections of Dominique Lawalrée’s floating nocturnes, the most romantic turns of Kevin Drumm or the kind of transportive, atmospherically narrative substance to gems on La Scie Dorée. Basically it’s the kind of rare essence that we all hunt for.
Scotland’s answer to New Order seduce and propel with dreamy melodic guitar jangle, radiant stacked synth harmonies and their own brand of sultry swag on remastered reissue of their 1985 album, comprehensively doubled in length with 7” single and radio session cuts - check the reversed dub version of ‘Torn Calendar’ for some proper proto-BoC wheeze!
“Newly remastered CD and vinyl editions of Here Comes Everybody, the highly-regarded second album by Scottish group The Wake, originally released by Factory Records in 1985.
On the special 30th anniversary edition 2xCD package, the core album is joined on Disc 1 by companion singles Talk About the Past and Of the Matter, as well as a 4 song radio session and a previously unreleased dub version of Torn Calendar.
Disc 2 combines their final Factory EP Something That No-One Else Could Bring (produced by John Leckie) with no less than 7 previously unreleased demos recorded between 1988 and 1990, including unheard songs as well as material later re-recorded for Sarah Records.”
Electroacoustic explorer Erik Enocksson consolidates his raging industrial noise and choral ambient urges with a manacled grasp of quiet/loud dynamics and mournful melancholy, recommended listening if you’re into Tongue Depressor, Kevin Drumm, Beatriz Ferreyra, Maja S. K. Ratkje, Vainio.
‘Räkna evighet som intet’ (‘Count eternity as nothing’) pits Enocksson’s mettle at the service of a palindromic transition from ethereality to phantasmic facemelt terror and a choral sublime on the first part, into atonal metal-on-metal wondering on the 2nd. It follows a course of releases for the Kning Disk, Release the Bats, Posh Isolation and Irrlicht labels since 2007.
The choral sound du jour has been flung in every conceivable direction over the last few years, but is here handled by an experienced hand, able to transition from hushed reverence to clanging brutality with conviction and purpose. On the A-side, the sombre mood is gradually elevated by phased and pitched transitions that grow with an urgent, metalic intensity, recalling recent work by Henry Birdsey and Zach Rowden’s Tonge Depressor. On the flip, the mood is more industrial and aggressive, landing somewhere between Kevin Drumm’s ‘Sheer Hellish Miasma’ and Mika Vainio’s analogue terror zone.
Slickest, Brazilian-flavoured ‘80s boogie nuggets by a pair of prolific musicians who worked with everyone from Jorge Ben and Gilberto Gil to Marcos Valle and Rita Lee
Prised from their archive ’82-’86, the duo’s thwarted 2nd album ‘Déjà Vu’ is a party guaranteed session for debonaire dancers, laying the vibes down thick as treacle between the percolated, horny disco funk of ’Suspira’, the below-the-belt thrust of ‘Dance Baby’, and George Benson grease of ‘You’, with a massive highlight in the winking jazz-funk chops of ‘Sem Essa’ and stacked synth work of ‘Batebca’.
The 23rd edition of Kompakt’s annual compilation series Total 23.
"It’s impossible to look at this number without thinking of William S. Burrough’s Captain Clark anecdote, the Illuminatus trilogy and the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. But don’t you worry, we’re not giving in to eikositriophobia. We’re enlightened folks, after all.
The lively dance begins solemnly with KOLLMORGEN’s deep-subtle minimal gem “Muddy”. Making her debut is the wonderful ARGIA with the somewhat misleading title ‘No Concept’ – the Madrid native indeed has a very precise plan. Also, number one hit guarantor, JÜRGEN PAAPE, is represented here with his brand-new super hit ‘Alone In Italy’. His colleague MICHAEL MAYER is also in top disco spirits with ‘Talmi’. One of the secret weapons of the current season comes from STEPHAN BARNEM & FUTURISTANT. ‘Don’t Cry’ is a passionate New Wave belter for eternity. JÖRG BURGER proclaims a new, trippy genre: Cinematic Dance, before C.A.R. & PATRICE BÄUMEL slowly raise the energy level in the ‘Four Down’ Club Mix.
JOHN TEJADA then cruises calmly at the desired cruising altitude while the cabin crew serves refreshments. ‘Duration’ by BARNT/MAYER pays tribute to an artist formerly known as Prince with grand rave romanticism, and about REX THE DOG’s summer smash hit ‘Change This Pain For Ecstasy’, there’s really nothing more to say. The Thuringian force of nature ROBAG WRUHME must not be missing here, of course. ‘Fire’ once again shows him in top form, with one of the dirtiest basslines in techno history. Joining us from London is HARDT ANTOINE, who spells u n d e r s t a t e m e n t with ‘All We See’. And finally, REINHARD VOIGT feat Eduard Weber bring it all together – live from the grand Comedy Barn of folk music."
The debut release on FInders Keepers' Dead-Cert imprint, 'Voices Of Packaged Souls' was the first album recorded by Suzanne Ciani, originally pressed up as a private edition of just 50 copies.
Suzanne Ciani's debut release 'Voices Of Packaged Souls' was originally issued in a private press edition of only 50 copies for an art gallery exhibition in Brussels documenting a sound sculpture collaboration between hard material artist Harold Paris and fledgling electronic composer Susan (Suzanne) Ciani. This original art-artifact is officially the rarest tangible recording of Ciani's music who is now recognised in the press as 'The Delia Derbyshire Of The Atari Generation" on account of her groundbreaking developments in the commercial evolution of synthesizer music as one of a small number of female composers in the field.
Inspired by her studies and meetings with electronic pioneers Don Buchla, John Chowning and Max Matthews, 'Voices Of Packaged Souls' was created during the night shift at radio station KPFA where she had free run of the tape machines between midnight and 6am and presents an eerie array of altered vocals introducing ghostly, tape-manipulated radiophonics of a very personal and exploratory quality. For even the passing electronic music enthusiast, the early work of the BBC's Delia Derbyshire should instantly spring to mind, but it's the odd juxtapositions of intros such as 'Sound An Eye Tearing' with a baby's ga-ga's, to the ecstatic noise on 'Sound Of A Nose Peeling' or the salaciously sensual coos, giggles and whispers of 'Sound Of A Lighted Window' which distinguish this work from that of her buttoned-up British counterpart.
Greek singer, pianist and composer Maroulita De Kol looks to traditional Hellenic ceremonial culture on her debut album, singing over ornate piano flourishes and hazy electronics.
Now based in Berlin, de Kol grew up in Athens and was fascinated by her homeland's pre-Christian rituals. On 'Anásana', she uses these practices to inform a suite of contemporary experiments, building on her classical training and emphasizing the rich mythology of ancient Macedonia. Her piano playing is rooted in Greek folk music and her vocals play on the region's history of ritual magic, curling around her instrumentation gracefully and blissfully. It's not dark by any means, but de Kol doesn't trip into the saccharine either, conjuring sun-bleached Greek landscapes and echoing into the past.
Iceland’s volcanoes supply an eternally evocative muse to Ben Frost & Francesco Fabris in a suite of extreme close-mic’d recordings that reveal, by magnification and amplification, the violent and unstable nature of geologic time.
More recently best regarded as soundtrack composer, Ben Frost here follows work with interdisciplinary sound artist Francesco Fabris on the ‘Dark’ OST with a plunge into purest rock music, as in the actual sound of molten material rising to the surface and solidifying. With an impressionistic-artistic license also found in work by Chris Watson, Jana Winderen or Giuseppe Ielasi, the duo uncompromisingly revel in the sounds of nature’s biting point, using various production methods to make audible the sound of the earth beneath our feet in the process of creation, on location at Fagradalsfjall, Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland.
Here's label boss Lawrence English on the subject
"As stable as we might choose to think it is, this planet is anything but that. A paper thin crust, the zone in which we find ourselves, and mostly concern ourselves with, exists as a modest veil cloaking a dynamic seismic turbulence that is as powerful as it is unknowable. There are moments though where ruptures occur. The pressure from within carves its way to, and through, the surface of the planet simultaneously delivering destruction and virgin landscapes, as primordial as any we might care to imagine. It is here, in these places, where we can literally see the living planet, that geologic time is condensed and world building is made visible, and audible to us, in an unrestrained and provocative detail.
These volcanic ruptures, such as those captured on Vakning by Francesco Fabris and Ben Frost, speak to the very living geology of Earth. These recordings, captured at close range, exist at a nexus where liquid rock becomes solid. They capture moments of transformation, of obliteration and of creation, often all at once. These are recordings of a living, material planet, dynamic and unrestrained.”
Lush's first proper album is one of the shoegaze era's most enduring tomes, misunderstood when it was released in 1992, but inspiring a legion of soundalikes all the same. If you missed it first time, get yerself acquainted.
Despite how it might look now, the early '90s wasn't a great period for alternative music. Grunge, despite Nirvana's success, was mostly a toxic boys club with duff music to boot, and shoegaze, although it might have been re-examined in recent years, was despised by a laddish, petty music press. The foul smell of Britpop was in the air, even if the festering shitpiles hadn't been trodden in yet, and a band like Lush stuck out like a sore thumb. They didn't make dense noise like My Bloody Valentine and they didn't make perfectly packaged pop, Emma Anderson and Miki Berenyi were weirder than that, and far more singular. The duo had met at school and struck up a friendship around their love of music, eventually publishing a fanzine together. When they went to university and met vocalist Meriel Barham (aye of the very excellent Pale Saints and, later, Kuchen), bassist Steve Rippon and drummer Chris Acland, they formed the Baby Machines, later renaming themselves Lush. Barham didn't last long, quitting Lush to join Pale Saints, and Berenyi took over on lead vocals, with Anderson taking the harmonies.
It's the interplay between Berenyi and Anderson (who both took turns writing the songs) that provides Lush with its beating heart. Their unusual upper-register harmonies were at odds with the British alternative scene's expected snot, sharing more with delicate folk than laddy rawk, so it makes sense that they ended up signing to 4AD. Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie assisted Lush with production on the first few records, and while his production is less evident on 'Spooky', the influence of his band still weighs on the songs. Anderson and Berenyi's guitars shimmer into thick waves that underpin the duo's shy, romantic vocals. Listening back now it's not hard to understand how confusing the music was to so many indie listeners; while their sound can trace through whimsical twee pop and the C86 sound, those scenes were mostly an underground concern. And although they were at home on 4AD alongside artists like Throwing Muses and This Mortal Coil, their poppiness offered the music press a red herring.
Since the mid-'90s, when Lush split following the tragic death of Acland, the interest in shoegaze and Lush has increased steadily. And as the music press softened its attitude to rock music made by spirited women, plenty of similar bands have emerged in Lush's stead. 'Spooky' then is an important benchmark that appeared like a crack of light and now sounds like blazing sunshine. They were way ahead of their time, and if you've spotted Emma Anderson's debut solo album 'Pearlies' and haven't clapped your ears around this album, you know what you have to do.
Laila Sakini and Lucy Van’s sought after 2017 EP Figures resurfaces on a newly expanded and remastered edition, deploying taut poetry and creeping electro-pulses for an alchemical suite of slowly encroaching trip hop x dub-pop - highly recommended if you’re into CS + Kreme, Laurie Anderson, Leslie Winer, YL Hooi, Bullion, Jonnine, Kallista Kult - all the best stuff basically.
Long before releasing her slow-burn classic ‘Vivienne’ and last year’s compelling Princess Diana of Wales album, Laila Sakini was at work with acclaimed poet Lucy Van for an impromptu session for a local noise and spoken word night in Naarm, Australia. Those initial ideas marinated and eventually resulted in ‘Figures’ - an EP that was originally released on tape via Purely Physical Teeny Tapes, offseting Sakini’s minimal production against Van’s text, spoken in a carefully enunciated dialect lifted and wrapped around Sakini’s nocturnes. It’s the sort of thing that reminds us of Tin Man & Rashad Becker’s ‘Wasteland’ sessions, fused with the spirit of the contemporary Naarm/Melbourne scene.
For all those references, Sakini and Van’s songs are displaced from the contemporary wellspring too. The dusky blue waltz of opener ‘Those Who See’ comes off like a lighter Leslie Winer or melodic, early AFX, as Van dryly intones “...all my enemies in an orgy, of IQ to body ratio,” while ‘Deep End’ sees them nudge into more claustrophobic introspection, before shoring up a dank sort of trip hop sleaze with the title song, slithering with a similar energy to early 90’s Autechre as the narration echoes to a blur.
The three previously unreleased songs flesh out the release into the full album it always should have been, cut of equally rare, hand-spun fabric. With its post-Sleng Teng B-line and noctilucent chords, ‘What You Need’ feels like an Eski rhythmic bump accompanied by sub-aquatic synth bass, and the opalescent, gumtree-shaking shimmer ‘Rough Desires’ secretes its intimations with an absorbingly hypnagogic slow-burn that pools into the perfect curtain closer; ‘Trees Make Me High’.
A special one.
Avant rap icon Odd Nosdam ov cLOUDDEAD and Anticon makes a welcome, if totally unexpected, turn on Where To Now? with a pair of sampledelic gems
20 years since committing some of rap’s oddest recordings with Dose One and Why? in the BoC-fancied cLOUDDEAD trio, Odd Nosdam pings our radar with these two typically enchanted audities, written in his current base of Barcelona. A blast from the past for many, or perhaps you’ve been keeping track of his subsequent albums for Leaving records and Alien Transistor; either way ‘End is Important’ is a charming one-two that reminds us what made his work on cLOUDDEAD’s ‘Ten’ album so enduring.
The title tune catches him weaving sparkling elements of Tsunetomo Yamamoto’s ‘Hagakure’ into a dreamlike lope, paired with spoken word and choral pads like Kate Bush gone hip hop. sHis B-side’s ‘Here To Know’ however wears his abstract credentials more proudly with field recordings of a trip to Salvador Dalí’s summer house, in Port Lligat, Spain, turned into a smudged echo of his admirers, Boards of Canada.
Roméo Poirier's third album is a perfect fit for Jan Jelinek's Faitiche label - using underwater speakers, a sample collection from his dad, and endlessly resampled loops, the sferic alum spins close-knit sounds into inverted dreamworlds that sound like Jelinek's own "Loop Finding Jazz Records" slowed to a crawl.
'Living Room' is the French producer's most autobiographical album yet, and as its title suggests, is pieced together from sounds close at hand. His starting points are often his own material, re-worked and re-sampled as a way of questioning and reworking his past, but here's where it gets really interesting. Poirier used a waterproof speaker and a hydrophone to attempt to create an aquatic world not unlike GRM legend Michel Redolfi's. This technique is particularly potent on tracks like 'Porte contre', where snatched instrumentation is diluted into fluid, tonal hydration.
Poirier used to be a drummer, so it's curious that the biggest difference between his material and that of his influences - Jan Jelinek particularly - is his interest in avoiding obvious rhythms. That's not to say "Living Room" is ambient music, but its pulse is as aqueous as many of its samples, rippling and teeming like a forest stream. The album is also the first time Poirier has used vocals, taken from his musician father's own sample collection. These elements perfectly feed into the Poirier's personal autobiographical narrative: just as he has dedicated himself to resampling and re-evaluating his own history, he's able to draw on his father's history too and add it to his palette. Quite lovely.
Kali Malone’s 'The Sacrificial Code’ is a major work featuring almost two hours of concentrated, creeping organ pieces aligned to non traditional intonation/tuning systems. It's a stunning realisation of ideas borne out of academic and conceptual rigour, with a perception-altering quality that encourages exploration without a preordained endpoint.
The Sacrificial Code’ takes a more surgical approach to the methods first explored on last year’s ‘Organ Dirges 2016 - 2017’. Over the course of three parts performed on three different organs, Malone’s minimalist process captures a jarring precision of closeness, both on the level of the materiality of the sounds and on the level of composition.The recordings here involved careful close miking of the pipe organ in such a way as to eliminate environmental identifiers as far as possible - essentially removing the large hall reverb so inextricably linked to the instrument. The pieces were then further compositionally stripped of gestural adornments and spontaneous expressive impulse - an approach that flows against the grain of the prevailing musical hegemony, where sound is so often manipulated, and composition often steeped in self indulgence. It echoes Steve Reich’s sentiment “..by voluntarily giving up the freedom to do whatever momentarily comes to mind, we are, as a result, free of all that momentarily comes to mind.”
With its slow, purified and seemingly austere qualities ‘The Sacrificial Code’ guides us through an almost trance-inducing process where we become vulnerable receptors for every slight movement, where every miniature shift in sound becomes magnified through stillness. As such, it’s a uniquely satisfying exercise in transcendence through self restraint and by this point inarguably a modern classic.
Wicked survey of Jamaican-British rootsman Pablo Gad in flight on highlights of his ’70s / ‘80s run, including nuggets sampled by The Prodigy
A towering legend of roots reggae, Pablo gad moved from Jamaica to the UK in 1974 and was cutting tunes by the end of the decade, with a voice often compared to Fred Locks. His anthem, ‘Hard Times’, inspired by observing differences between Jamaica and UK, where at least people “got their giro every week”, would be notably sampled on The Prodigy’s ‘Fire’ and Nu Matic’s 1990 hardcore tune of the same name, and sealed his place in the UK hardcore ‘nuum. This set heaves with 10 classics, fronted by the stepping disco mix of ‘Blood Sucker’, and counting his early classics ‘Gun Fever’ an its woozy dub, plus the aching croon of ‘Beggar Man Child’ and its spangled dub.
Keith Fullerton Whitman brings his 3-part Generators series for Japan’s NAKID label to a close with a third and final instalment that ravishes the senses with hybrid analogue/digital systems tekkerz.
Hazing into a solemn start of floating organ and slurred drums, the first part fizzes into action with pranging irregularities, tentatively allowing the system to voice varying pitches and nimble rhythms that resemble balletic footwork plies as much as classically-trained instrumentalist flurries. It’s deeply trance-inducing, meditative gear that over the course of 25 minutes slowly gains momentium and complexity, first adding robust arps to complicate the structure, treading the finest line of chaos and discipline. In time, those arps turn themselves into a rhythm track, landing somewhere between Whitman's earliest junglist works as Hrvatski and a sort of plucked rhythmic minimalism that reminds us of Mark Fell’s Sensate Focus, gliding on natural, brownian motion and flux of texture, punctuated by what sound likes a plucking of a drum machine from the inside-out.
In part 2 the mood pools and diffracts in slow-fast meter, bristling ruptures of atonality that send limbs flailing one way and then another, adding subs for a dimensional shift that’s rhythmically fractured but always grounded at the low registers. The wavy embroidery of Whitman's machines trigger each other in endlessly fascinating forms of gyring workshop ballistics and dub reverberations.
A special bonus piece ‘Meakusma (Generators, Soundcheck)’ is the most curious of the lot, with a lone clarinet heard in the air, perhaps a serendipitous inclusion form someone else’s soundcheck, lending an enchanting depth perception to his frolicking bleeps.
'In A Beautiful Place In The Country' is arguably one of the most beautiful records in BoC's catalogue.
As part of the holy hexagon with 'Hi Scores', 'Twoism', the 'Aquarius' 7" and their 'Music Has The Right..." and 'Geogaddi' LP's, it's rightly gained something of a(n) (oc)cult status as a portal to better times.
ZULI deploys unflinching atom-smashing tekkerz on the peerless Nashazphone in a noisy dervish of drill ’n breakcore x improv electronics featuring Elvin Brandhi & Karim El Ghazoly.
ZULI has built a fierce reputation via releases on Haunter and Lee Gamble’s UIQ, including Wire magazine’s #2 AOTY in 2018, ‘Terminal’, and more recently the ‘One’ album in 2020 for our Documenting Sound series. In 2019, his keenly observed progress was curtailed by the robbery of his laptop and live performance gear, but he’s overcome that bullshit and gets ravishingly deep into his sound here with ‘Digla Dive - Live’; a furnace blast document of him playing with studio compositions, in-the-moment.
While tempestuous standout ‘Alteration Jump’ features the rabid vox of Elvin Brandhi and Karim El Ghazoly, the vast majority of the recording finds ZULI going sicko with a palette of ruffneck IDM in mind-bending style and pattern. The 10 parts place lessons learned and instincts honed during years of heavy touring at the service of a distinctively bullish but intricate form of avant-club music which makes little concession to the grid.
The session arrives on Nashazphone nearly 10 years since EEK’s jaw-dropping ‘Live at the Cairo High Cinema Institute’ LP with a sort of hyper update on the Cairene underground. Inside the ride, we hear aspects of road-ready mahraganat or electro-shaabi (Egypt’s answer to grime and dancehall) rinsed out into flechette ballistics reminding of early ‘00s breakcore, and ‘Windowlicker’-like electronic wormholes slipping into bone-crunching ruggedness, passages of hyper-chromatic ambient switched up into ecstatic noise and futurist geometries echoing the brilliance of his peer 1127.
DIY ambient J-pop by Sairi Ojima’s Kumachan Seal, accompanied by Le Makeup on guitar and lovely synth work by Takao, all lilting like a Far Eastern answer to Brenda Ray, or recalling Maria Minerva’s mellifluous downbeat bops. Highly addictive gear somewhere in the vicinity of Brenda Ray or Nite Jewel, with a bit of Mark Clifford/Seefeel-esque production stylings
Emerging on Japan’s revered EM Records in the glistening wake of aces by 7Fo, Tapes, and Xiao Yun, the maiden Kumachan Seal album keeps it blissed and dreamlike across a transportive raft of songs featuring Kumachan’s vox alternating between proper pop song structures and glossolalic intimation. She has been making music since her teens with indie and punk bands, but ‘Kumachan Seal’ finds her pursuing a more discreet, gentle style of songcraft blushing with melody and elegant harmony sure to win hearts from all corners.
Kumachan has us snagged from the front with ‘食む（Hamu）Graze’, loosely painting her gauzy vocals over a grubbing groove and finely FM-sculpted synths, and right thru to the gorgeous closing couplet of slow rolling Japanese house in ‘羹 (Atsumono) Soup’ and the Branda Ray-esque, Casio-keyed reggae of ‘Tinycell’. She makes superb use of room recorded tekkerz on ‘狼の庭（Ōkami no niwa）Trap for Catching Wolf’ and ‘カヌーで火を焚く (Kanu de hi wo taku）Build a Fire in a Canoe’ that lend a real waking dream quality to its spongiform dub bass and floating harmonies, while pulling from folk melody in the breezy sashay of ‘CHINA珊都異知（Chaina-sandoicchi）China Sandwich’ and hitting a proper sweetspot with the quiet lilt and air-step swing of centrepiece ‘晩夏 (Banka）Late Summer.’
yeahh this is the shit, a 13 track double vinyl edition of Príncipe’s 2006 kuduro milestone, hailing the deadliest early cuts by pioneers DJ Marfox, DJ NK, DJ Jesse, DJ Nervoso, DJ Fofuxo and DJ Pausas under the DJs Di Guetto banner - 100% essential if yr into Nídia, Nazar, Adrix, Arca, Craxxxsmurf!
Originally issued on the first day of term in September, 2006, ‘DJs Di Guetto’ introduced the young Lisbon scenius surrounding DJ/producers Marfox and Nervoso, whose road-ready mutations of kuduro and tarraxo kickstarted a whole movement whose influence is still rippling through multiple club scenes to this day.
In step with FruityLoops-enabled contemporaries across the global south and Afro-Portuguese diaspora, DJs Di Guetto formulated a ruffer, more stripped-back slant on rhythms from Angola and Central Africa that repped the sound of local Lisbon block parties and clubs, while running parallel to early Baile from Brazil, and surely (if unwittingly) presaging and echoing London’s transition from grime to UKF at the time.
As these 13 tracks spell out, the young likes of DJ Marfox, N.K., Jesse, Pausas, Fofuxo and Nervoso were on a natural avant one back in 2006, dancing ahead of the curve with a blend of hard-bodied but playful rhythms and rudely cartoonish stabs that resound the directness of earliest UK bleep techno and ‘90s rave, but with their own swag and parry that laid groundwork for a sea-change toward syncopated rhythms in western club music in the proceeding decade. As such, it’s not hard to hear the set’s influence everywhere from the entirety of the Príncipe catalogue in their wake, to the likes of Mexico’s NAAFI and even T C F’s Craxxxsmurf or early Arca, and best believe they all still kill today.
A masterclass in pronouncing heritage with a modern accent and meaning, the set encompasses the don DJ Marfox’s cowbell-led zinger ‘Drift Furioso’ thru to DJ Nervoso’s wild joyrides like the pace-setting ‘Estrago Terrivel’ and molten beatdown of ‘Tapada’ or ‘Tarraxho Nervoso’, while heralding key early input of DJ NK on ‘Mete Chuva Muita Chuva’ (a surefire prototype for Ramon Successo?) or what sounds like a screwed Crazy Cousins in ’Não Chora Mais Não’, with cruddiest slow blows served by DJ Fofuxo and DJ Pausas, and a Mills or Claude Young type weapon ‘Techno’ from DJ Jesse.
Hypnotic proto-Raï from Algeria circa 1979-1989 by Drissi El-Abbassi, a pioneer of the style who bridged its early roots with the era of multi-track digital recording during the sound’s rapid evolution, making for an insane set of microtonal synths, psych guitars and drum machines for fans of Cheb Khaled, Omar Khorshid or Omar Souleyman.
‘Rai Sidi Bel Abbes’ plays deeply into one of the core influences of borderless Algerian/Egyptian label Nashazphone, highlighting a figure relatively unsung beyond the North African Arabic diaspora, introducing his unusually balmy, soft-voiced take on a genre that came to be known for its harder edges. Set to a mix of microtonal Roland synthesiser leads and swaying drum machines, El-Abbassi’s vocals emote with particular clarity and sensuality, carrying the jazz and psych rock-inspired early sound into a prototype of its current form across eight songs that chart his transition from working with principal group Les Freres Zergui, to selections from recordings by his own band’s influential releases during the mid-late ‘80s.
Drissi El-Abbassi was 17 in 1978, when he joined one of the main groups in Oran region, Les Aigles Noir, working as “stage animator” - a sort of hypeman, also responsible for relaying lyrics to the lead singer, at weddings and parties - and by 1979 he was a member of Les Freres Zergui, who pioneered the use of wah wah pedals and drums in the style of Rai; a new sound established by Messaoud Bellemou and his troupe, that incorporated trumpets and sax into a distinctive new Algerian genre. He cut his teeth playing two shows a night at the weekends with Les Freres Zergui, and his first solo tape came out that year with Zergui on guitar. Following Zergui’s passing in 1983, and the dissolution of the band, El-Abbassi set up his own group, embracing new technology and helping progress the style alongside legendary producer Meghni Mohamed for labels such as Editions Anwar, Editions Maghreb, and Editions Saint Crepain.
The eight songs on ‘Rai Sidi Bel Abbes’ cover a spectrum of El-Abassi’s work during 1979-1989, from the mouth watering microtonal psych licks and nagging machine grooves of ‘Zedti laadab aliya’ to the lissom guitars and accordions of ‘Khalouni neck’, showcasing his smoothly contoured vocal cadence in finest style on cuts that resemble melodic Lovers Rock vibes in ’Trig maaskar’ and intoxicatingly sensual highlights ‘Jat jat’, plus the passionate, psychedelic ache of ‘Manetzouedj manebni dar’, or ‘Djibek liyam’, which should appeal to fans of Omar Khorshid as much as Omar Souleyman.
Archival magic from US DIY legend Robert Turman, recorded between 1980 and 1984, and something of a missing link between his earliest, noisiest work and the hypnagogic sound collages he'd come to make just a few years later.
If you copped 2021's 'Chapter Eleven' boxset, you'll already know we've been foaming at the mouth for this one. That set chronicled some of Turman's most essential early material and stands as one of the most crucial documents of the era, displaying just how foundational the Ohio musician's sounds were in shaping the later US DIY scene. 'Distant Dosage' fills in some of the gaps, a selection of tracks culled from Turman's archive that highlight his obsession with loop-based experimentation. This ain't easy listening by any means; Turman takes tiny musical fragments and repeats them mercilessly, subtly shifting the loop points to vary the rhythm and create unsettling stutters. It's plunderphonics thrust into the depths of the underworld, as close to sewer-strength industrial music as it is to Carl Stone's batshit canon.
'A Kind of Dance' is an apt introduction, almost 10 minutes of slowly-shifting sound that, if you're not listening carefully, sounds like a CD player stuck on a grubby disc. Taking just a couple of notes of music and a single drum beat, Turman uses the repetition to heighten our anxiety and force us to notice the most minute changes, examining the snippet in minute detail as it spirals from rhythm to rhythm. The technique is tougher to recognize on 'Listen With Your Heart' when Turman speeds up his sample until it's a blur, letting only the glitch between the loop points create any discernable pulse, and on 'Not Moving' he turns slovenly jazz into a whirr of overlayed drums, cheeky horns and an aborted melody.
'Possiblities' is the album's noisiest cut, and maybe its most satisfying. Here, Turman prioritizes texture, employing the same basic process but thrusting the resulting sound into the red so it creases and distorts under the pressure. These additional artifacts create surprising secondary rhythms, with the loop point shifts almost working like a call and response through walls of radio static. And 'Mind Meeting' finishes 'Distant Dosage' on pure eccentricity, chopping what sounds to us like smooth pop music into a splatter of hard-panned, glitchy horns and deadened vocals. Absolutely psychotic, psychedelic brilliance here, that makes links from Dadaism and surrealism to industrial music and noise, and points directly to the cheeky laptop experiments Oval and pals would produce a few short years later.
Berlin's Philipp Otterbach dusts off his guitar for 'The Dahlem Diaries', an album about friendship and oneness that's part Durutti Column and part Brian Eno.
'The Dahlem Diaries' was written by Otterbach between 2020 and 2022, sketched out using his guitar and then fleshed out by his friends, who contributed instrumental parts that the German producer subsequently reworked and re-contextualized. As the title suggest, the record was intended to work like a diary; in Otterbach's own words "the recordings encapsulate a very specific moment in time, one that would have sounded perhaps very different the day before or after."
Despite the contributions from his friends, 'The Dahlem Diaries' is very much a guitar album. The producer's previous records may have been focused on electronics and drums, but this one's almost completely beatless, and the guitar is so central that it almost mirrors Vini Reilly's personal dreamscapes. Melancholy and subtly psychedelic, it's music that might lull you into a deep sleep at one point, or rouse you into ecstasy the next.
Kojun’s long slept-on ’93 Japanese ambient charm is given a new lease of life on a first vinyl edition with the EM Records.
The sole album by Kojun, ’The Water Garden’ is an LP worthy of Vince McMahon meme; ambient music, from Japan, little known internationally, and absolutely ticking all the boxes for fruity FM synthesis and era-specific synthpop variations. From the gamelan flurries of ‘Kaw’ to the flute-led stride of ‘Dancing in the Lotus Garde’ the record is certain to enchant listeners who like their melody laid on thick, with clear comparison to YMO in the strident ‘Parade’ and piquing interest of gamers in ‘Lady with Cjinese Parasol’, and reserving a proper gem in the 12 minute transition from beat-less FM terraforming to downbeat swivel in ‘The Water Garden/Vesel With Torch’.
“A buoyant masterpiece from the early 90s, “The Water Garden” was created by Okinawa-born Kojun Kokuba under the inspiring image of a “happy Asia” thriving in the sea-based trading networks of the medieval to pre-modern era, with the concept that various types of music, as well as physical goods, were distributed and dispersed across the seas connecting various parts of east and southeast Asia. Fittingly, the music here has definite and distinctive Ryukyu island roots, but is informed by a number of other Asian musical traditions, layering phrases derived from numerous Asian scales, often altered by Kojun, eschewing typical Western chordal harmonic movement. Kojun uses the synths and multitrack recorders of the early 90s to, in his words, “pile up lines” in sweet and not at all overbearing melodic accumulations, with a desire to distribute and disperse a new energy from Okinawa to the rest of Asia and the world. Despite a pleasing and compelling rhythmic lilt and the use of synths and drum machines, this music was not created as a product for the dance floor; Kojun envisioned a type of electronic salon music, a “light music” made with contemporary technology. This is the first LP edition of the self-produced original 1993 CD release and includes bonus tracks and liner notes in English and Japanese.”
Slowdive's fifth album and second since reforming is an impeccably-produced delight that captures the blown-out beauty of their beloved 'Souvlaki', bringing it into new territory with fractal, psychedelic textures and stacked analog synth cycles.
It's so rare for cherished, trailblazing bands to reform and retain their OG energy that it's almost easier to believe it never happens. Slowdive have always had knack for sidestepping expectations though; even when they were releasing their most influential material, the music press were desperate to tear them down. It took many years before they received the recognition they deserved, and they've repaid fans by continuing to refine the genre-defining mood they nurtured early on, teasing it into fresh spaces without losing momentum.
'Everything is alive' started life as a more minimal electronic record, with Neil Halstead writing demos that reflected his interest in experimental modular synth music, later fleshed out with a more recognisable 'Slowdive' sound when the band reconvened in full. This alloy of ideas is evident on 'shanty', opening with dramatic synth sequences and pads before bursting into a wash of reverb-drenched guitars, into Rachel Goswell and Halstead's tranquillised vocals. There are any number of bands who have tried to hijack this sound over the last couple of decades, but the Slowdive's sound is evidently impossible to replicate: Simon Scott's driving drums and euphoric electronic treatments, Christian Savill's weightless riffs, Nick Chaplin's low-slung bass plucks. Everything contributes to a muggy whole that's immediately recognisable, without feeling mired in nostalgia.
The album is dedicated to Goswell's mother and Scott's father, who both died in 2020. So this time round the band's sadness turns to palpable grief. Halstead mentions that it didn't feel right to make a dark record, so the songs trace a mountainous emotional topography without resorting to doom and gloom. Lead single 'alife' is a saccharine, uplifting reminder of 'Alison', and 'kisses' might be the band's poppiest recording to date, blessed with a hooky chorus that's romantic and utopian. But elsewhere the mood is more ambivalent; 'chained to a cloud' is dusky and low-lit, assembled around a stepped analog synth pulse that wouldn't sound out of place on an electro-pop record, and closing track 'the slab' is saturated, noisy and strangely uplifting, Halstead and Goswell's vocals buried under an avalanche of distortion.
Ploy with sterling cuts of dark UKG, mahraganat bleep rave, and purling deep tech for Batu’s Timedance 🔥
‘For when we haven’t slept’ is Ploy's first of ’23 and a marked switch from the rugged murder of the ‘Unit 18 E.P.’. Starting up on the bad foot with a South London-via-Bristol toned hybrid of El-B style 2-step and Pinch-esque percussive rolige in ‘CrazyBBY’, it goes heads-down with the blend of auto-tuned vox, microtonal keys and searing vamps on the corkscrewing mahraganat nod ‘Ross’, and tucks percussion tight in the pocket for an effortless piece of deep tech swang with brilliantly detailed, psychedelic vocal processing on ‘Finally’ that’s bound to find his widest audience.
10 year reissue of Huerco S.’ hypnagogic ambient game-changer for 0PN’s Software Recording Co. - a masterstroke of mulched and zonked electronics essential for fans of Wanda Group, radical Chain Reaction, Newworldaquarium, Actress
First issued in 2013 after Daniel Lopatin contacted Huerco S. on Soundcloud, ‘Colonial Patterns’ emerged as his first album after acclaimed starts made with a 12” of bangers for Ukraine’s Wicked Bass, and a far more tender side of smudged ambient for Opal Tapes (later issued on vinyl via our Editions series). That 2012 EP would most acutely herald his style to come on ‘Colonial Patterns’, whose deconstruction of deep house and dub techno along degraded ambient vectors dovetailed with work by the likes of Wanda Group, NWAQ or Actress, and came to characterise a whole movement of texturised, grubby neo-ambient experimentalism that heavily feeds forward into today.
While the oft misunderstood term “deconstructed dance” is now a byword for “I don’t get it” by a whole wave of noobs and protectionist dance music bores alike (thought there is admittedly some shite in there), with the benefit of hindsight it was clearly that decade’s answer to ‘80s industrial and post-punk’s rip it up and start again ethos, and ‘Colonial Patterns’ is among its key touchstones. Like a mollusc processing the decayed essence of club music and ‘00s experiments on the seabed, Huerco S. in the plains of Kansas digested and rearranged those sounds in deeply peculiar and attractive ways.
The pulsating structures of dance music are found desiccated and gauzily granulated to a feint but insistent echo of their original purpose. The pump is slumped to armchair-ready levels, enervated of an obvious ecstasy yet still glowing with residual greyscale iridescence that works a treat in supine positions. It’s not hard to hear how this brand of magic snagged the ears of 0PN, who was at that time himself immured in more oblique forms of synthy experiment, prior to sharpening up his sound across that decade, and likewise not hard to hear how the sound mirrored a sense of the future unravelling in line with socio-economic fuckries and the state of mild but ubiquitous confusion and distraction associated with minds zombified by data and sensorial overload. More simply it’s just a pleasure to inhabit, carried away by its murky eddies and silty swirl.
A total doozy for Slowdive, Carla dal Forno, HTRK fiends - Naarm’s late ‘90s indie-pop darlings Hydroplane are subject of a crucial retrospective with London’s World of Echo, following a reissue of their s/t debut via Efficient Space.
Harvested from a clutch of 7”s and trio of albums, ‘Selected Songs 1997-2003’ runs an immaculate sequence of deceptively loose but perfect lo-fi pop, shoegaze, early electronic blips and billowing drift songs, puckered up by Andrew Withycombe, Bart Cummings and Kerrie Bolton’s Hydroplane in various Naarm (Melbourne) sharehouses during an era of creatively fertile cross-pollination.
While operating at a distance from the international pop scene, the trio were also a key node with The Cat’s Miaow, whose acclaimed run of records from 1990 would neatly overlap and effectively mutate into Hydroplane with the departure of drummer Cameron Smith. The two projects clearly share a knack of ohrwurming hooks and emotional register between indie-poptimism and melancholy, but with Hydroplane they loosened up in a way that saw them porous to krautrock as much as the sort of ambient dance-pop that’s recently resurfaced via Efficient Space and Left Ear compilations, and the prevailing influence of folk and DIY electronics. For a long time their music remained the preserve of ardent diggers but, like the reissue of their eponymous debut LP, this anthology places them firmly on the treasure map of vintage, timeless indie pop music.
The set ideally kicks off with a cover of fellow Aussie outsider Pip Proud in ‘We Crossed the Atlantic’, a John peel favourite that ended up as no.13 on his festive top 50 of 1997 and perfectly epitomises a fine touch for haunting dream-pop and umbilical links to contemporary types such as Carla dal Forno. ‘The Love You Bring’, uses the ubiquitous funky drummer sample, swaddled in Kerrie’s vocals and shimmering guitar. We can point to loping gem ‘City Terminus’ and the punk-funk and synth noise of ‘Radios Appear’ to illustrate their range, but for the most it’s all about their bucolic strums and feel for genteel psychedelia, with standouts such as the lo-slung creep of ‘You Were There’ or the zonked spectre ‘Failed Adventure’ which best highlight them as uncanny precedents for HTRK and a whole scene emerging from Naarm years later.
Keith Fullerton Whitman's brilliant 2004 landmark, recorded between 1994 and 2002, and compiling work Whitman made without using any computer processes, ranging from elegiac drone symphonies to Popol Vuh-esque cosmic rock.
After Whitman released the computer-powered 'Playthroughs' on Kranky in 2002 to significant, unforeseen acclaim, he started to rummage through his archival material, wondering what to do with it. He didn't want to seem like he was turning away from computer music in favor of more "organic" material, which was a familiar move for many artists at the time. But he knew the material was good enough to release - he'd planned to work on a small-run private press release, but Kranky stepped in to give it a wider audience. It's a relief they did, because this record fills in some blanks for any of us who weren't party to Whitman's regular live shows in and around the Boston metro area. He recorded the four tracks presented here at various houses he lived in around the city, and used a variety of instruments - notably none of the modules and effects boxes that would become his signature a few years later. Whitman had been experimenting with guitars, modern composition and muggy psychedelia for years at this point, while moonlighting as breakcore producer Hrvatski, no less. Genre purism was never his strongest inclination.
His dedication to La Monte Young, 'Twinguitar Viola Drone', starts us off, using dissonant feedback tones, pious vocals and plucked electric guitar notes to create a fudgy haze of weightless instrumentation. It's a sound that falls into the zone between Flying Saucer Attack and Sonic Youth on one end, and the grungy, neo-kosmische psychedelia of Emeralds and the US CDR set - who would emerge a few years later - on the other. Whitman bridges the gap with this piece, sounding revenant and prophetic at once. 'Rhodes Viola Multiple' is just as foggy, but focuses on clusters of electric piano notes that snowball into a layered drone, accompanied by electrified viola vamps that provide a welcome palette cleanser. 'Obelisk', his dedication to Dada vanguard Kurt Schwitters, is completely different, and Whitman celebrates the artist by creating an uncanny installation, playing haphazard drums and found objects alongside wispy tape loops and radio static. But he saves the best until last: 'Schnee' is Whitman's devotional psych-rock masterpiece, a guitar led burner that reminds us of Popol Vuh's under-loved 'Agape - Agape, Love - Love'. Quite brilliant.
Surgeon's 'Balance' (1998) is a masterclass is tuff, occultist Brummie techno.
Upon its original release, it was his 3rd album (following 'Communications' and 'Basictonalvocabulary'), and marked a phase shift towards the kind of tripped-out, eldritch atmospheres we'd more readily associate with his peers such as Autechre or Coil, whilst still forging some of the most unyielding, infectious rhythms of golden era techno.
The likes of 'Golden' with its arcing crest of eerie arpeggios, and the spine-creeping, beat-less zones of 'Dinah's Dream' reflect an air of technological fear and pre-millenial tension, whereas grooves such as 'Circles' and 'The Heath' deal in lip-bitingly sharp, latinate dynamics that can twist a room full of baying dancers into a contortionist frenzy without resorting to base kick drum bludgeoning.
Very nice and easy does it for Shira Small’s private press ’74 soul gem, newly dusted down for first reissue with Numero
“Real people music recorded at a Quaker Boarding school in the mid- ’70s. Mixing soft psych, vocal jazz, and sunshine soul, Shira Small and her high school music teacher Lars Clutterham created a peerless artifact of outsider magic. Imagination, wonder, the existential dread of Vietnam and math class and getting caught smoking weed in Nixon’s America… it’s all here. Is your life alright?”
Latvian ambient avatar mu tate makes blissed waves on Alex Egan’s Utter with a sublime 2nd album, starring guest input by Space Afrika’s Josh Inyang and Nikolay Kozlov ov Folder.
A split release between Utter and special guest dj’s 3XL, ‘they're with you always’ supplies sanctuary for fried minds and bodies with a highly effective escape pod to serene and OOBE-like dimensions. The artist’s thizzing backdrops of sferic resonances and massaged subs are in step with his 2021 debut ‘Let Me Put Myself Together’, but here distinguished by the use of sampled vocals and field recordings that riddle his isolation tank atmospheres and elevate the work to another level.
Josh Inyang’s contribution of field recordings to the co-production ‘∞ ∞’ is a particular highlight, as is the smeared virtual oil and water-colour textures of ‘frank’s hublots’, with Desirèe Monique’s spoken word on ‘was it holy’ recalling Soaring Wayne Phoenix works, and the barely there traces of Kaiba in ‘me when u’ are surely comparable to Malibu or DJ Lostboi nuggets.
Sigur Rós’ ÁTTA on BMG.
"Few bands cut through the noise and distractions of the world to bring you a pure elemental truth or feeling like Sigur Rós. As you hear on ÁTTA, there’s a new compulsion and drive to the band that comes with the new formation of the line up. Multi-instrumentalist Kjartan Sveinsson is back in the fold – having left the band in 2012 – to join frontman Jónsi and bassist Georg Holm.
Recorded across multiple continents - in the band’s Sundlaugin studio in Iceland, the legendary Abbey Road in the UK and a number of studios in the US - ÁTTA leans heavily towards the orchestral, and touches on everything that has made Sigur Rós one of the most ambitious and acclaimed bands of recent times, with close to ten million albums sold, whilst signposting an exciting and expansive possibility for their future. ÁTTA prominently features the London Contemporary Orchestra conducted by Robert Ames, alongside brass performed by longtime Icelandic collaborators Brassgat í bala. It is mixed and co-produced by another frequent collaborator Paul Corley, alongside the band."
A slept on 2004 wonder by ‘70s folk-jazz singer turned new age visionary, Beverly Glenn-Copeland, returns on a 2nd pressing, somehow recalling everything from the queer operatics of Anohni and theatrics of Kate Bush, to the dilated weltanschauung of László Hortobágyi, ‘90s Massive Attack and kids TV soundtracks.
The diversity and emotional register of ‘Primal Prayer’ ideally characterises the sort of playful spirit that’s been lurking in Beverly’s catalogue of the last 50 years. Since the 2016 reissue of ‘…Keyboard Fantasies’ (1986) it’s become clear that the world was sleeping on a real one with every new archival dispatch, and most recently in the new recordings of ‘The Ones Ahead’. 2004’s ‘Primal Prayer’ was first issued under the Phynix alias but is for all intents and purposes a key part of the Beverly Glenn-Copland canon, weirdly bridging ‘80s new wave and new age, with aspects of Massive Attack-like ‘90s trip hop in a way that, with benefit of hindsight, would have placed it out of kilter with 2004 trends, but now sounds peculiarly attractive and hails a unique place out of time.
Classic ‘80s soul sashays with new age Afro and soaring opera vocals in opener ‘La Vota’ to signal a fantasy feats ahead, turning from the moody minor key majesty of ‘Back to Bachland’ and thumb piano trip ‘On the Road’, thru to gospel-soul in ‘This Side of Grace’ and killer deployment of the Apache break in what sounds like the intro to a wigged-out ‘90s kids TV show with ‘In The Image’ (Beverly played a character on Canadian kids TV for 25 years!). We find the rhythmic urges also guiding the ace tabla breaks of the title tune, and bringing the album to a superb close with the beatdown beauty ‘Between The Veils’ and ‘A Song and Many Moons’ reminding of Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel.
Total Techno classic, reissued by Tresor.
As Surgeon's sophomore album, 'Basic Tonal Vocabulary' established him as a unique force in Techno, appearing in the style's golden year of 1997 armed with seven of the leanest, most disciplined, and outright killer dancefloor tools around. While insistent movers like 'Rotunda' and the skewed drive of 'Krautrock' define this LP, the ambient 'Waiting' showed Surgeon in possession of a uniquely nuanced electronic language.
Pioneering jazz trumpeter Don Cherry does jazz-funk inspired by early NYC rap and post punk funk on this 1985 oddity produced by Parisian legend Ramuntcho Matta and starring Brion Gysin
On its first vinyl outing since the original, ‘Home Boy (Sister Out)’ still occupies a unique place in Cherry’s sprawling catalogue spanning prototypical free jazz to psychedelia. The difference is largely due to production by Ramuntcho Matta, who was back in his native Paris after a 1978-1980 stint in NYC absorbing and participating in the nascent no wave/punk funk and early rap scenes.
Matta would soon go on to work with Marc Hollander’s legendary Crammed Discs, but here he craftily transposes the NYC scene to Paris streets full of vibrant African influences, furnishing Cherry with lean, snappy ‘80s jazz-funk tracks peppered with a certain gallic swag, and the voice of his then girlfriend Elli Medeiros (of punk band Stinky Toys) on a couple of cuts, plus Moki Cherry on the opener, and weirdly enough, Brion Gysin on the jazz club-ready single ‘Kick’, newly included in this expanded reissue.
Mind & Matter's 1970's recordings, '1514 Oliver Avenue (Basement)'.
"Boasting a perfectly calibrated vocal quartet, an aggressive rhythm section, and stacks of Rhodes, Rolands, and Hammond keyboards, Mind & Matter were instrumental in creating the Minneapolis Sound. Tracked in 1977, this bundle of never-before-released basement demos throw Jimmy Jan Harris’ beloved Philadelphia Sound into an unfinished root cellar, pelting it with Clavinet attacks, disco skats, and infectious hooks. Named for the street address of its underground uptown genesis, 1514 Oliver Avenue (Basement) is an organic alternative to a late-’70s Prince songbook gone increasingly synthetic."
Exceptionally bliss-smudged tape music by one of the UK’s most intriguing, quiet operators, who is notably responsible for introducing us to Svitlana Nianio & Oleksandr Yurchenko via his Skire label - RIYL Andrew Chalk, Timo Van Luijk, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, NWAQ/154, Craig Tattersall
The waterlogged, atmospheric meditations of ’Nightshade’ mark a typically subtle yet vital new strain of work for Tom James Scott, ventured by his collaborator Luke Younger’s label, Alter. Whether you’re familiar with his solo work, or via communions with Elodie’s Andrew Chalk & Timo Van Luijk, or credits on records by Lee Gamble, Sean McCann, or his bands Liberez and Charcoal Owls - it’s easy to identity a gentility of spirit and tonal nuance to Tom’s music that distinguishes it from the milieu.
Following his Skire label’s reissues of sublime Ukrainian folk works by Svitlana Nianio & Oleksandr Yurchenko in recent years, Tom continues an unusually prolific 2023 - which has already seen him issue a Svitlana Nianio collaboration ‘Eye of the Sea’, and solo LP ‘The Last Swarm of Summer’ - with this lowkey radical reset of his sound into gauziest ambient classical, saturating gorgeous lines of extended melodic thought and shimmering loops with thick layers of ferric tog to a heart-in-mouth appeal.
This is one to drink in deeply and on your tod. In three acousmatic parts, unidentifiable instrumentation swirls and sways on the cusp of nervous and soothing, recalling the coruscating textures of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma as much as the emotional tenor of NWAQ/Ross 154’s lushest zoners. ‘Echo on Water’ serves 14 minutes of immanent calm that could happily go one for twice as long and not lose our interest, whilst ‘Blue Mist’ moves deeper into a sort of beautiful oblivion with vaporised harmonies of a claggy nature that perhaps owe to his new locale on the english North West coast, and the ‘Wasting Stars’ feels as though we’ve transitioned from sun-dazed to crepuscular with wilting piano notes just-about detectable under its ferric blanket of hiss and decay.
Using modular synth, zither, voice, percussion and field recordings, Stockholm-based duo Maria W Horn and Mats Erlandsson evoke the 1960s on 'Celestial Shores, recording in the studio together to capture the immediacy of their collaboration.
There's a lot of xenharmonic drone material wriggling from Stockholm's fertile experimental scene right now, but we have to say that Maria W Horn and Mats Erlandsson are two of its most interesting proponents. They've collaborated extensively already, and that's no doubt what's allowed them to work on 'Celestial Shores' so freely. The duo were commissioned to score the second half of Andy Warhol's 'Nico/Nico Crying', and used it as a springboard for two lengthy pieces they recorded in December 2021. 'Towards the Diamond Abyss / The Navigators' is the first side, a patient whisper of pristine synth tones that slowly opens up, adding stirring bell chimes, ASMR rattles and poignant zither plucks. Not psychedelic exactly, it's more pastoral, bringing to mind Sweden's rolling landscape and mossy atmosphere.
The side-long 'A Ship Lost in the Polar Sea' is significantly more animated as the duo's synths almost throb into kosmische territory, running the oscillators off each other with slow riffs, ring modulated bursts and uneven drones. A breathy voice can just about be picked out in the background, when the zither finally makes its appearance, it connects with aged Northern European folk music. While the piece might have its stylistic roots in West Germany, Horn and Erlandsson use the style to poke at their own history, using their combined experience and expertise to emphasise minimalism without sacrificing structure or drama. It's extraordinarily charming material that falls just outside of time. And while it's easy to compare with Kali Malone's rigorous organ drones, 'Celestial Shores' has just as much in common with Sarah Davachi's patient studies, or Martyna Basta's hypnotic, emotional designs.
Ecka Mordecai & Valerio Tricoli’s cello and Revox tape duo yield a starkly gripping form of avant-classical gloom on debut full length with Luke Younger’s Alter, sure to seduce disciples of Hildur Gudnadottir, Leila Bordreuil, Helge Sten
The phantasmic musique concrète silhouettes of ‘Château Mordécoly’ derives from wine-soused sessions at London’s esteemed Cafe Oto, where Mordecai’s roots and branches in early music and avant-classical are heard subtly warped, tattered, and braided by Tricoli’s preternatural Revox B77 reel-to-reel tekkerz. The three part suite proceeds from Mordecai’s superb solo debut, proper, ‘Promise & Illusion’ (Otoroku, 2022) and the first Mordecoli tape ‘The Addiction’ (Hedione, 2022) with 40 minutes of music that characterises and bottles the increasing intensity of their collaborations, ongoing in private for the better part of the past decade. The results are cinematic, unsettling, yet somehow sexy in their evocative grasp of a writhing psychedelia and emotional register, congealing voice, wooden body, horsehair and tape in symbiotic metaphysicality.
Tricoli & Mordecai uncannily move as one phantasmic whole, fleshing out the sound stage from spotlighted soloist strokes to swarming diffusions. There is a real sense of alchemy at play in their coming together of intuitions, forgoing any spectacular tricks or stunts in favour of a seamless flow of energies, occasionally fractured by Tricoli’s punctuation, but never letting themselves get carried away, preferring to hold a line of calmness that belies the depth of feeling lurking beneath.
The first piece’s transition from range-finding drone to aeolian plucks, and slow-burning ethereality buoying Ecka’s siren-like void is just masterful, while a more rustic mid-section keens into eerie oblivion, setting up a final part where Ecka’s lifetime of training really comes into play with its bittersweet discord stealthily layered, reiterated in a haunted house hall of mirrors like Ligeti and Bernard Hermann at the Psycho house, resolving in almost sickly sweet dream folk.
Whewww! Hakuna Kulala extend an incendiary introduction to Lagos-based Aunty Rayzor across a barrage of ruff-to-sweet rap, raving Afrobeats, and neo-baile co-produced by Titi Bakorta, Scotch Rolex, DJ Cris Fontedofunk, Debmaster, Kabeaushé and more
Well, this is a lot. ‘Viral Wreckage’ is set to be the breakthru debut album by Bisola Olugbenga, aka Aunty Rayzor, who first rose to local Lagos acclaim with street anthem ‘Kuku Corona’ in 2021. Surely set to follow in the international footsteps of Kenya/Uganda’s MC Yallah, with whom she shares clearly fierce similarities, Rayzor’s sound is defined by a properly nagging knack for hooks and the ruggedest, upfront West African and US rhythms, with lyrics sung in Yoruba and english, and an effect bound to translate directly to ‘floors, whips, and cans across the world.
Nyege Nyege Tapes’ sibling Hakuna Kulala have done a brilliant job in bringing Rayzor’s vision to a broader audience here, supplying fresh co-producers and cherry-picking tunes that characterise the breadth and emotional register of her sound in a tight 10 track showcase. Between the upfront furnace blast of her vocal’s metric acrobatics and the tungsten-tipped drill rhythm to opener ’Stuttrap’, and the fusion of Congolese guitarist/producer Titi Bakorta’s lissom top-lines on ‘Sise’, she treats us to a rambunctious and at times romantic joyride between styles.
The bomb ’Nina’ comes hungry as heck like Cardi B needing to pay rent, and ‘Bounce’ lifts a leg on a rave-stabbed Afrobeats meets neo-baile flex produced by São Paolo’s DJ Cris Fontedofunk, while ‘Tobaya’ finely tempers the mode with a brooding late night slow jam. That lowkey feminine pressure is also felt strongly on the autotuned R&B of ‘You are not worthy of my love’ in duo with Kabeaushé, and the puckered Afrobeats lilt to ‘Tonedo’, saving a venomous sting in the tail for the rowdy soundsytem drama ‘Murder’.
Pat Gubler embraces acoustic instrumentation once again on 'Murmurs & Whispers', his first solo album in over a decade, using the Celtic harp to inform a suite of songs that'll appeal to anyone into Joanna Newsom or Mary Lattimore.
Not every track on 'Murmurs & Whispers' uses the harp, but it was Gubler's ongoing interest in the instrument that provided the direction for the album. He's been playing the harp for many years, first a Paraguayan model and more recently a Triplett Celtic 34-string harp that he set up in his woodshed. It's this that we hear first on 'Leaves', completely naked until it's met by Gubler's disarmingly soft voice and the subtlest swirls of analog synth. This is folk music that reaches back to the rainy ancestral islands, assembled with a deep knowledge of Americana that prods it into a pocket universe.
Gubler's orchestration is more lavish on 'I Have Known Love', ornamented with organ sounds and woodwind blasts that lift the song into the heavens. He looks even further into the past on 'I Have a House', using a hurdy gurdy to provide a wavering drone and echoing his words, sounding as if he's singing into the rolling fog. In the final third, he adds distorted, psychedelic guitars, edging towards a crushing, feedback-heavy crescendo, but it's tempered somehow. Even at his most bombastic, Gubler sounds controlled and measured.
On 'Just Begun' he augments folk with early music, combining medieval recorder whistles with dainty fingerpicked guitar, and he sounds as if he's plucking a lute on 'I Don't Want To Be Free', while waves wash in the distance and horns bring us into the jazz age. It's a beautiful fusion that speaks directly to Gubler's experience, and his passion for all forms of music.
Very tasty aether-dub abstractions from Sweden’s Martin Herterich aka Sand Circles, birthing the Continuity project with a session of heavily textured heart-in-mouth atmospheric pressure drops and synthy cyberdub - RIYL BoC, Civilistjävel!, Burial, 1991, DeepChord, Vladislav Delay...
Over a decade since pinging radars with the ‘Motor City’ tape as Sand Circles on Not Not Fun, and its consequent remixes with Posh Isolation, Herterich assumes his ultimate ambient dub form as Continuity - an apt moniker for the music’s reeling chronics and timelessly transportive forms. The 30 minute session takes place on Belgian label B.A.A.D.M., where it sits among good company in the likes of textural noise shapers Andrew Chalk & Timo Van Luijk, Mattias Gustafsson, Sewer Election, and Opéra Mort, and is bound to attract fans of all the above and more.
It’s maybe a bit of a cliché to say, but all those long winter nights and time spent at home certainly results in some awesome introspective music from Sweden and the Scandi realms. Continuity ideally characterises the matter thru these seven pieces, chasing an atmospheric dragon across neon-lit Gothenburg cityscapes and into wilds of the imagination with an unbroken suspension of disbelief. Lifting off from the Burial-esque crackle, it blooms into fathomless, lushest negative space in ‘Dawn Shifts’, and glydes thru gorgeous noctilucent synth space in ‘Infinite Lights (nights without end)’ and the noisier intensities of ’The Neon God’. The final section of ‘Chrome Haze (trailing off)’ into the inclement drizzle and silver vapours of ‘City limits (reassurance)’ is a chef’s kiss conclusion to a very special set.
This Can't Exist - a compilation of Native Nod's trio of seminal 7” EPs for the Gern Blandsten label.
"An antidote to the tough-guy hardcore spreading from CBGB’s, emo outliers Native Nod’s unique genre juxtaposition of damaged art-rock, daring/naive songwriting, and raw, poetic vocals have set them apart from the glut of early-’90s post-hardcore."
Liz Harris's 12th album is a heart-melting anthology of songs written over the last 15 years. A mixture of 'Dragging A Dead Deer...' emotional rawness and 'AIA' -style tape-dubbed sonic fog, it's a timely reminder of why she's one of the crucial underground voices of the era.
When Harris's early Grouper material began to emerge thru the cracks in the wall of wyrd folk CDRs and hand-made cassette tapes, we could already sense it was something different. There was a bare quality to it that set it out of time: this was music that sounded as harmonious with Slowdive's melancholy shimmer as it did with the Olympia and Washington DIY set. 'Shade' is a career-spanning set that accurately charts her evolution thru the years, running a course that broaches ambient music, Laurel Canyon folk, grunge, dream pop, and everything in-between.
Her music is unified by its unique spirit and personified by Harris's voice - a ubiquitous element that's sometimes an elasticated, ghostly whisper and at others a spiraling coo. On opening track 'Followed the ocean', it's an assured driving force, but her powerful tones are reduced to glowing cinder beneath the burn of overdriven, tape-distorted noise. Words are present, but indecipherable - it's like hearing a song taped from radio and endlessly re-duplicated for heightened ghosting. The fog dissipates on 'Unclean mind', harking back to 'Heavy Water' with a grunge-y strum and angelic moans.
'Shade' is a good title, because the interplay between openness and insularity lies at the heart of the album. From track to track is sounds as if Harris is revealing herself and then retreating under a blanket of tape hiss. 'The way her hair falls' is so clean you could hear a pin drop, making out every nuance in Harris's voice. The biggest surprise is the album's closing track 'Kelso (Blue sky)', where her vocals are finally given a grand treatment, drenched in reverb but completely tangible. The result is a glimmering slice of lingering acid folk that sounds divorced from time and space.
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
Pave The Way/Pave The Dub from Icho Candy featuring The Viceroys, via Bristol's Poor Man's Friend.
"A truly enigmatic character from the golden era of Jamaican roots music, Icho Candy is an artist that has always been shrouded in mystery. A devout rastafarian born with a gift for prophetic songwriting, Candy always writes in a way that is true to himself and his deep seated beliefs, regardless of the external pressures he endures as a veteran artist, an incredible feet for an independent artist with a career that spans fifty years.
The A side of this latest seven inch gives us the classic writing style of Icho Candy. Pairing his lyrical depth with an early 70’s Phil Pratt style production. An eerie horns line meets the clean sharp, older school backing vocals provided by The Mighty Viceroys to create something magical.
Yakka returns to the label on B side duties, providing another Tubby inspired voyage into dusty fx units and quick draw fades. The bassline increases, the vocal decreases but the vibe never ceases."
Previously digital-only bonus cut ’she know the best’ in regular and slowed versions, lathe cut in an edition of just 50 copies and tipped if yr into DJ Screw, Future, Young Thug, Lil B, Iceboy Violet…
Yungwebster give a nod to DJ Screw and acknowledge the Houston original's overwhelming influence on contemporary ambient-experimental styles by taking the signature crawl of Southern rap that guided cloud rap's first steps and dissolving it with Ambient froth, lean-hued ATL melancholy and YouTube/TikTok micro-clique self-expression
At risk of repeating ourselves, Omar S’s FXHE are on fire right now, a fact epitomised by Alister Fawnwoda’s debut album of killer Detroit disco-house finesse, tipped if yr into owt from Junior Boys to KDJ, feat production and vocodered vox by Omar S.
Last seen as co-producor/author of Omar S' huge 'I Love Your Girlfriend', Fawnwoda debut album is stacked with vox and input by John F.M., Mitchell Yoshida, Super Cool Wicked, Troi Alexis, Tyesha Blount and more, plus Omar S on production. ‘Fun House’ is a heavily satisfying session racking up prime cuts of deep disco house, R&B, night drive electro and freestyle-tinged synth-pop. It follows Fawnwoda’s pair of 12”s self-released on his AF13 Records (and part-recorded at FXHE studios), with an in-depth introduction to his classically-toned take on Detroit house’s roots and branches with a flair comparable to Morgan Geist, Bobby O or Junior Boys as much as KDJ and, of course, Alex Omar Smith.
Frankly we’re floored by the levels on show, from the flash hi-NRG strut of ‘Grasslands’ to the purring and cantering 11 minute ride of ‘Selinho Na Calcinha’. There’s a proper diamond in ‘Visions of You’ starring Omar S on vocoder, and ohrwurming disco-house kinks in ‘Car Dates’, Junior Boys-adjacent freestyle synth-pop in ‘Growing Old’, and raw but debonair tracky business in ‘Morning Ride’ and the Detroit electro-disco attack of ‘Slide’; all neatly contrasting with the album’s crucial downstrokes on the slow jams of ‘Total Recall’ and fluoro-greazed boogie of ‘Keeping me Waiting’, with a deep mid tempo R&B pearl ‘Saturn Eats Its Young’ to close.