The eighteenth release on Second Circle is the label's second exploration into an artists archival works; this time presenting a selection of four early tracks by theatre, film and music producer Can Oral under his Khan alias.
"Can moved to Williamsburg, New York in the early 90's along with good friend and fellow musician Jimi Tenor. Born in Germany of Turkish-Finnish parents, he would frantically start buying equipment (such as a TR808, TB303 and Korg Polysix) from junk shops across New York, becoming greatly prolific in his recordings which he would work on throughout the night. During the daytime though, Can set up and ran the now defunct Temple Records, a seminal Soho record store, and later label, largely importing Techno and Acid from Europe.
Though a small store, Temple Records would count musicians and DJs such as Björk, Tricky, Dee-Lite, Josh Wink and Joey Beltram among its regular customers. Also he would host many such guests to play live or DJ at his weekly Techno party “Killer” which was held at Save The Robots in New York’s East Village. Can Oral's nightly studio sessions eventually led to an almost inexhaustible discography with over a dozen monikers each representing a different aspect of his productions. SC018 focuses then on his early electronic works as Khan.
Named after the color painted studio where the EP was produced between 1993-1996, 'Blue Box Sessions' is a collection of four analogue machine driven cuts, covering different tempos and ethos within electronic music. Initially live recorded to an old DAT recorder, and without any overdubs, SC018 is a lost and found artefact to Khan's unquestioned raw talent and timeless relevance."
Winter Family is a duo made up of Ruth Rosenthal and Xavier Klaine. This new album was recorded in St Martin Church of Maxeville, France for a dance piece and was remixed in 2020, it has never been released before.
"I recorded the pipe organ there, inspired by the Alsatian philanthropist organist Albert Schweitzer whose slow, bombastic performances, limited by faulty technique, have always touched me deeply. In 2006, my aunt Loulou agrees to lend me the keys to the church. Ten years later, Loulou passes away, I play on this same pipe organ during her funeral. During the fall of 2018, in her room with old floral wallpapers, so cold, that I empty, surrounded by her missals and huge crucifixes I remix this pipe organs and the voice of Ruth. Through this late remixing, we wanted to deliver this woman from her agony, her eyes turned to the milkish Lotharingia sky and beyond, trying to illustrate this Catholic France of yesterday, as vain and terrifying as a month of November in this cold and humid garden, within reach of the incessant song of the A31 highway." (Xavier Klaine)
The Trilogy Tapes glean a keening enchantment of ondes Martenot and harmonium pieces from one of their earliest contributors, Accident du Travail, recorded in Strasbourg, 2014 and transferred to tape by Cooper Crain (Bitchin Bajas).
Très Precieux Sang makes for a welcome change of pace from the preceding run of TTT’s, slowing time to stately drift and and seducing with supple, spacious tone rather than running a body wild with rhythm.
Pairing the ondes Martenot - an early 20th century instrument famed for its theremin-like sound, and probably best known for its use by Oliver Messiaen, Edgard Varèse and Jonny Greenwood - with the harmonic glow of an old church harmonium; Julie Normal and Olivier Demeaux a.k.a. Accident du Travail cycle eight pieces that tread a fine line between haunting early sci-fi score and folk-wise nocturne, all captured in room recordings that call to mind the charged atmosphere of Gurdjieff recordings or chamber music from a lost civilisation.
Greek enigma JGD beautifully indulges esoteric dub urges and his own vocals for Berceuse Heroique following a string of celebrated experimental dub explorations for the house of Bokeh Verisons, Ectastic and The Tapeworm
Trotting on from his flips of Sade for BH, Jay Glass follows the ancient/futurist themes of his ace Not Glass collab with Alessio Natalizia (Not Waving) across four tracks taking cues from ancient Greek mythology, German kosmiche longhairs and the wigged-out studio experiments of African Head Charge, all galvanised with the modernist efficiency that underlines all his music.
Whether lighting up the militant snares and cinematic strokes of ‘Das Ding An Sich’ with up-to-date flashes of trance pads, or cannily smudging and updating late ‘80s/early ‘90s “ethnodelic” ambient strains in ‘The Controversial Control’, he excels at making the familiar uncanny and vice versa. He spends the A-side priming this kind of inverted sound, readying the EP for a remarkable turn of Martyn Bates-like vocals on ‘Urged To Be Cleansed While Bathed In More Blood’, along with the psychedelic spy funk dub centrifuge of ‘An Ambivalent Path’, before his vocals appear again weft into the majestic swell of horns and beatific choral swells in ‘Atremes.’
A four track EP from Anthony Naples, originally released on The Trilogy Tapes in 2014.
"I named it after an amazing place I visited in Colombia a few months before, and in honor of all the friends I made there." (Anthony Naples)
After dropping our AOTY in 2018, extraordinary percussionist/producer Eli Keszler distills his feelings on Manhattan under lockdown in a killer new suite of noirish NYC jazz rent with electro-acoustic magick - RIYL 0PN, Kenji Kawai, Elodie, Rashad Becker, Aphex x Squarepusher
One of experimental music’s most dynamic figures of recent years, Keszler’s bevy of solo sides and collaborations with everyone from Skrillex, 0PN and Laurel Halo to Jandek and John Butcher have placed him at a captivating crossroads of electronic, soundtrack music, new jazz, and the avant garde. His first album in 3 years, ‘Icons’ is his most broadly appealing and subtly gradated, with a level of emotive nuance, diffracted pacing and vaulted spatialization that beautifully comes to reflect the slow/quick/slow flux of the city during lockdown. OK, ye ye we don’t need to hear anymore about lockdown, but we’ve gotta admit this is one of the coolest, collected musical thoughts on the subject that’s emerged over the whole blasted period, absorbingly transmuting and relating a classically inner city, avant jazz blues ambiance for a new generation in a way that really hits home.
During the past 18 months the usually itinerant artist and performer found himself staying in one place for the first time in a decade, and the sense of tension between stasis and an urge to travel is at the core of ‘Icons’ Replacing international dates with bike trips around Manhattan island, Keszler draws on the experience of carving around the city’s empty streets, as well as those moments when it erupted into activity with protests and ambulances, effectively oscillating across lanes, up the side of buildings, and even thru them, to present a gyring-eye’s view of Manhattan’s unstable reality. From the dawning clangour of ‘All The Mornings in the World’ to the album’s elegiac closure ‘We sang a dirge, and you did not mourn’ expect a completely absorbing day-in-the-life experience as Keszler cycles thru freewheeling gear changes and plays of light dancing between its sound architecture and vertiginous proprioceptions.
93 minute collection of the electronic, ambient, prog, and kosmische side of the 80's-90's Paul Chain catalogue.
Paul Chain is widely revered in the Doom Metal underground, and rightly so, but this collection aims to highlight the many 'other' sides to his work. Anyone interested in NWW list or Mutant Sounds should investigate. Officially licensed collection bringing these gems to back to vinyl for the first time in 30 years.
A new collection of tracks, plus a DJ Python remix, from Sheffield's unperson now out on Negative Space [Ma].
"Hailing from Sheffield – a cultural hub for UK underground sound, having birthed bleep techno and many electronic stalwarts such as WARP – unperson has quickly defined his own unique lane of deeply atmospheric and percussive bass-laden electronics. He distinguishes himself with fwd production techniques, clever methodology and a unique vision; a delicate sound design and introspective melodies blend with moody atmospherics in a style that isn't confined to a specific era or genre besides his own.
'Struggles In Conjuring' exemplifies this and experiments with emotion in ambient textures, hypnotic patchworks and jagged breaks, as unperson journeys through personal grapples in a world that can seem hollow and fractured. The EP sees unperson step further out of the "corners of the club" than he has in his output to date; with an alluringly warm introduction, 3 tracks primed for peak dance floor dismantling and a remix from man-of-the-moment DJ Python."
Proper, doomy industrial techno traction from a new lamb to the churn on Kareem’s Zhark
Striking hard into Zhark’s most classic style, Derlich debuts with six tracks of hippo’s heartbeat kicks and possessive atmospheres that lock us right in the zone. Obviously benefitting from the best soundsystem you can lay hands on, the sound design is made to be played loud and all night long. The distanced pound of ‘Grey Area’ sets cavernous parameters where the chain-dragging beast ‘Rancour’ follows to the viscous churn of ‘In Your Black Eyes,’ plus the tunnelling industrial techno depths of ‘Ad Nauseum,’ the cold killing might of ’Shiver,’ and unsteadier trample of ‘Fight Response.’
Class trio of latin freestyle electro/techno inspired heaters by Brooklyn’s J. Albert, chasing a handful of downbeat outings with a return to the ‘floor
Giving it up for the NYC-Miami connection, Albert plays up to inspirations from vintage Frankie Bones and early Joey Beltram between the warehouse-ready wooden percussion and rave stabs of ‘Knock Knock,’ the coiled freestyle electro drums and proto-darkside leads of ‘Fully Torqued,’ and the nimbler parry of ‘Copal’ compatible with minimalist electro and breaks rollers.
Extra fruity Italo funk, chanson, streetsoul and Miami vibes from Bayete for the disco peacocks.
Buff stuff for all the retro club family, taking in abundant congas and latin freestyle-esque synth chops on ‘Alba’ and some hot vocals in ‘Guapa,’ whilst ‘Sancho’ gleams with sparkling FM synth slickness on an Chanson disco tip, and ‘Lily’ takes it bed ways with a kinky street soul wink.
Long-in-the-making sequel to 2005's unsurpassed "Superwolf" is more "Godfather 2" than "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties". Basically, way way better than it has any right to be.
At the beginning of lockdown last year, Matt Sweeney and Will Oldham shared a new song - their first since 2005 - promising a full-length in the works. They weren't kidding, after 15 years we're presented with "Superwolves", another collection of tangled jangle-rawk songs penned by Sweeney with lyrics from Oldham. Shockingly, it not only captures the rare, magical mood of the original album but surpasses it, adding a world-worn ease to everything without losing spark. Each song glistens and burns with an energy that's only really captured by artists confident enough in what they're doing that they no longer give a fuck what anyone thinks. Rather than just going through the motions, they play with form and expectation.
Songs are touching and melancholy ('Good to My Girls'), sugary sweet and unashamed ('My Popsicle), explosive ('Hall of Death') and stripped down to a whisper ('My Body Is My Own') and yet from beginning to end there's a coherence that allows you to read "Superwolves" like a good book. It's a timely reminder of the quality of Oldham's back catalogue, but he and Sweeney aren't looking back in time, they're offering us their own take on the state of the world right now, not just wallowing in doom and gloom.
Jana Rush, Dave Quam, Homemade Weapons, and Cardopusher lend solid remixes to an expanded edition of Clipping.’s 2016 ‘Wriggle’
The cranky follow-up to Clipping.’s debut LP with Sub Pop revolves a nasty chunk of Whitehouse’s ‘Wriggle Like A Fuckign Eel’ torn apart in its lead tune ‘Wriggle.’ The whole EP is is a prime example of the LA-based experimental hip hop crew at their rambunctious best, veering from grimy rap (’Shooter’) to cyberpunk jit (‘Wriggle’), jungle juke (‘Hot Fuck No Love’) and trilling rap noise hingeing on the iciest rimshots (‘Our Time’), plus a bashy new cut ‘Back Up 2021’ featuring bars by SB The Moor and Debby Friday.
Remixing, juke and footwork Queen Jana Rush accentuates the kinkiness of ’Shooter’ on a rugged af Chicago flex recalling earliest DJ Nate in her ‘Face Rearranged Remix’, while Portland, OR’s Dave Quam drags ‘Back Up’ to a sort of dark electro sleaze recalling Pametex joints. Seattle’s Homemade Weapons keep it close to Sub Pop’s homeland with a rolling, acidic step-up D&B conversion of ‘Wriggle,’ and Cardopusher yokes the same elements to hard snares and muscle-twanging arps in his EBM remix.
Marvellous suite of pseudo-ethnographic sounds and unreal field recordings from Andrew Pekler, tallying an engrossing debut for his Groupshow band-mate Jan Jelinek’s Faitiche (trans: a combination of facts and fetish).
Taking its cues from Claude Lévi-Strauss’ Brazilian travelogue, Tristes Tropiques and sounding not dissimilar to the washed-out new age meditation tones of early James Ferraro or Dolphins Into The Future, Pekler’s dreamy suite yields eight discrete scenes that feel like aural snapshots of planets discovered in no man’s sky; fanning out from burbling tribal rhythms in Feedback TT to the immersive 10 minutes of 4th world pygmy voices and light headed, hi-register thizz in Theme From Tristes Tropiques / Avian Modulations / Life In The Canopy via the melted Hassell-isms of Humidity Index / Khao Sok (Chopped and Screwed) and the tangled pulses of A Savage Topography, always with a playfully involving, enchanted sensibility.
Hollie Kenniff makes up one half of the duo Mint Julep, and the album features performances from Keith Kenniff (aka Goldmund).
"Director David Lynch once said “I long for a kind of quiet where I can just drift and dream. I always say getting inspiration is like fishing. If you’re quiet and sitting there and you have the right bait, you’re going to catch a fish eventually. Ideas are sort of like that. You never know when they’re going to hit you.” Inspired by this quote in both name and spirit, Hollie Kenniff’s The Quiet Drift is an ambient gallery of cloudlike synths, seraphic strings, echoing guitars, and other celestial textures guided to cohesion by Hollie’s own wordless singing.
Though the album certainly creates (and originates from) the kind of space where Lynch’s proverbial “fish” can be caught, The Quiet Drift is a fitting title for Hollie’s own history, both recent and distant. During the course of the album’s creation, Hollie and her family moved cross-country from an island in Washington state, to an island in Maine before ultimately relocating to Canada. “As a child I visited Ontario year-round,” she explains in her own words. She continues “More than any other landscape, I think the lake, rivers, and woods there left the most enduring impression on me. The landscape and pace of life of these places will always stay with me.” But the reverberant spaces Hollie crafts need no physical headquarters. Instead of conjuring views of nature at the ground level, her sound more readily evokes a top-down perspective, with the distinct features of the land shrinking underfoot as the listener becomes untethered from geography altogether.
The Quiet Drift belongs more to the liminal spaces between life and afterlife, memory and fantasy, landscape and dreamscape, than any mappable locale. Describing her formative years, Hollie says “As a dual US/Canadian citizen who spent my childhood in a rural town one that I haven’t returned to in many years I have a sense of not entirely belonging anywhere. When I was a teenager my close friends were male musicians, so I was also an outsider to the degree that they were wild and anarchic in a way that I wasn’t. I was a quiet book reader and avid music listener who enjoyed being around a creative group. I was also a radio DJ for alternative and punk music throughout high school.”
In this light, The Quiet Drift attests that creativity is placeless, and calls into question the stereotype of artists as scene-centric city dwellers. Having come of age in the absence of metropolitan sensory overload, Hollie learned to spot the muse in nature, and within herself, instead of the echo chamber of a frenzied peer group. On The Quiet Drift Hollie Kenniff wholly escapes from such pop-culture feedback loops into transcendent, shimmering realms, and she brings the listener along with her. In this age in which we have all been called to reevaluate our relationship to indoor spaces, and seek refuge in the great outdoors, The Quiet Drift provides an apt soundtrack for such rebalancing."
FatCat compete their groundbreaking Split Series with complementary sides by operatic psychopomp Ian William Craig and Estonian folk singer Kago after nearly a quarter century of surprises. Time to release that fake Pole 12" lads?
The Split Series was minted in 1997 with a 12” shared by Third Eye Foundation and V/Vm, and it's since hosted some of modern electronic music’s most vital artists, from Gescom to Konono No.1, Merzbow and Katie Gately, with each instalment typically contrasting and complementing pairs of radical artists on one record. Their 24th and final edition of the series sees them match sides by two artists who share a northerly latitude and experimental attitude, but are separated by thousands of miles, with Canada’s Ian William Craig working at the rudest limits of his mutant neo-classical style, while Estonian poet Kago channels ancient tradition and quietly cosmic energies in a suite of electro-folk curios.
It’s a fine send off to a reliably off-the-wall series which has turned up some real gems over the years, and which arguably broke the mould for curating adventurous new music, with ‘Split Series 24’ keeping up their remit to the end. Star of experimental contemporary classical Ian William Craig takes the opportunity to explore the limits of his style with ‘Because It Speaks,’ an 19 minute tract of foghorn blasts and keening vox that sounds like a death knell for the world, hard recalling classic Deathprod, but with Craig’s patented, blasted textures in ravishing effect. It’s then left to Kago to see off the final side with a collection of songs sung in Seto, the language of a tiny, indigenous Finno-Ugric ethnic minority in Estonia’s south-east, and set to nithered folk strings and cut-up dictaphone recordings in totally absorbing and charming style. While he’s been on FatCat’s radar since 2006, it’s remarkably his first international release, and bound to snag attention from fans of the Fonal label (Paavoharju, Islaja) or Stroom’s recent Estonian exploits.
Toodle pip, ta for the mad tunes!
Andrés brings the heat to KDJ’s label with a heart ’n soul house banger b/w a plush new live take on his classic ‘New For U’ fleshed out with a phalanx of 313 aces
If you’ve been down with Andrés over the years, from his Slum Village work beside J Dilla, to his totally adored house cuts, this one’s kinda unmissable for the B-side at least, yielding an up and bustling live take of 2012 gem ’New For U’ replete with instantly recognisable string motif, and now teased out with scatting vox by Dames Brown, and plus a full array of synths, fender Rhodes, sax, clavinet, and the rest, laid down by Amp Fiddler, Shigeto, Ian Finkelstein and many more, including killer drums solo by Andrés hisself. It’ fruity as fuck and all th better for it, but if you need it a bit straighter, club-wise, the uptempo dancer ‘Praises’ is for you.
Open-hearted and fiery techno-dancehall futurism from the Democratic Republic of Congo's Rey Sapienz, vocalist and dancer Papalas Palata and rapper Fresh Doggis. Tradition, anxiety, conflict and stargazing fever dreams of the future for fans of Zazou Bikaye, Don Zilla or STILL.
Brought up in the midst of the bloodiest conflict since World War II, Rey Sapienz used music to both audit his horrifying experiences and momentarily escape reality. He started rapping at only 12 years old, before leaving the DRC for Uganda and learning to make beats with Kampala's growing crowd of visionary producers. "Na Zala Zala" is the result of Sapienz attempt to create a Congolese response to techno, and positions him alongside two performers who bring their own unique experiences to the mix.
Papalas Palata was a singer in Congolese legend Papa Wemba's band and was expected to be one of the greats of the genre. But war has a derailing affect on progress, and as his country was forced into catastrophe it was impossible to continue his work. Rapper Fresh Doggis is younger and brings his own unique perspective to the mix, learning his craft in a country ravaged by war. Between them, the three artists have developed a style that sits with the traditions of Congolese soukous music, but spikes it with ideas formed from a love of rap, techno and experimental music.
Both vocalists trade words in Lingala, singing and rapping about the constant anxiety that comes with their memories of the DRC. These words are splayed over beats that use Congolese percussive elements and loop them into kinetic, rolling rhythms that draw a straight line between techno, footwork, soukous and the 'ardkore continuum. It's expansive, motivated and unmistakably political music - the sound of artists who are screaming for their stories to be heard in a world that has ignored them for far too long.
Belgian jazzrock-fusion ensemble COS, featuring Marc Hollander and Alain Pierre in their number, are in Finders Keepers’ crosshair for a bountiful haul compiled from a sorely overlooked run of ‘70s-to-‘80s albums, including disco gem ‘Babel,’ Aksak Maboul styles on ‘Perhaps Next Record,’ and the swaggering, sample-worthy ‘Postaeolian Train Robbery’
“COS might not be the first genre-defying progressive music group you’ve heard of who share both wordless onomatopoeic vocals and a snappy three-letter name (complete with philosophical leanings and alchemic penchants) but on listening to this first-ever custom COS compendium you might have just discovered a potential favourite!
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that COS share close spiritual, stylistic and social connections with the aforementioned bands, as one of the few long withstanding single-sylable ensembles to remain utterly idiosyncratic and incomparable in their hyper-focused and impenetrable creative bubble. As a group that effortlessly MIX head-nod prog, synth driven jazz, dislocated disco, arkestral operatics and high-brow conceptual anti-pop grooves, it’s easier to just remember the name COS than to thumb the vast amount of genre dividers in your local record shop in which COS could occupy. With the crème de la crème of Belgian jazz, prog, psych and funk within their ranks (Daniel Schell, Placebo, Marc Hollander, Alain Pierre, Brussels Art Quintet), their combined idea-to-ability ratio litters the COSography with concepts that aficionados, future fans, collaborators and critics still haven’t begun to unravel…
With their earliest roots in the compact jazz group Brussels Art Quintet the group spent their sapling years creating art-school prog under the name Classroom, this flourishing collective, cultivated by multi-instrumentalist mainstay Daniel Schell, would soon shed its leaves, dropping band-members and typographics reducing its moniker to simply COS (a multi-purpose, globally recognised word, with links to Alchemy and philosophy, with a hard phonetic delivery to suit the groups heavier rhythmic approach). In it’s new skin COS also shed all forms of orthodox language to find its true exclusive voice.
Fronted, in the conventional sense, by the daughter of author and part-time jazz player Jean De Trazegnies, the bands wordless singer changed her name to Pascale SON, to accentuate the French word for “sound”. Drawing comparisons with sound poets like Polish jazz legend Urszula Dudziak or Hungarian Katalin Ladik, but retaining the crystalline femininity (and funk) of Flora Purim, while effectively sharing an imaginary lyric book of non-words with Damo Suzuki, Magma or a future Liz Fraser… To use the word “unique” would, by COS academic standards, be lazy journalism.”
One of London’s most intriguing labels ventures a dark fantasy horror/gamer soundtrack by its co-founder, Lugh O’Neill for an experimental film of the same name by Kevin Brennan.
Lugh follows a highlight of the label's ‘Apocope’ compilation with his most enigmatic work, scored in a back and forth with director Brennan to locate some of his most curious and haunted recordings. Made to accompany the film’s part documentary, part scripted format, the music follows a storyline about real life imitating gamer life, and vice versa, outlined by the label as grappling “with the idea of virtual violence as a form of expression and identity whilst scrutinising the predominantly male ‘gamer-bro’ archetype synonymous with these online cultures.” As with 'Apocope’ earlier in 2021, the concept does not get in the way of enjoyment of the music, acting on its own merits as a steeply absorbing suite of suggestive soundtrack and finely sculpted dark ambient music.
The ‘Erangel OST’ finds its closest aesthetic corollary in Lugh’s ‘Re Munus’ LP of 2020, but loses that LP’s more frantic aspects in favour of an extremely slow burning appeal, where scenes unfold at a glacial pace that’s hard not get sucked in by. Its 10 parts unfold thru 37 minutes, describing a fleeting play of shadow tones and transportive spatial settings. Any violence is implied and not explicit, perhaps seeping thru in the unsheathed sword scythes and keening guitar noise of ‘Crystalline Dawn’, the bellyaches of ‘Lost Boys’ and the beastly grind of ‘Moan Jiro,’ but more often reserved to the peripheries where it suggests the tension leading up to the act, and its aftermath, especially in the highlights of ‘Idle,’ the guttural lurk of ‘Forest Lure,’ and exquisite designs of ’Sentinel.’
Double deep house from 1990 resurfaces on Rush Hour, keeping Vincent Floyd’s early joint for Gherkin sublabel Resound Records in circulation for the dancers
A sterling example of Chicago house at coming into its own back in 1990, it features the dreamy 12 minutes of cascading bleeps, purring bass and bumpty jack in ‘Cruising (Long Ride)’ plus the effervescent groover ‘Isolation’ with its sparingly used female vocals, and the Detroit-sounding, kaotic harmonic synths of ’Silent Noise.’
Exemplary selections of industrial, ambient, techno, house and electro prototypes sourced from little known compilations on Robert Maycock’s sorely overlooked label, Mindscan Tapes.
Highlighting the solidarity of the tape swapping scene in the late ‘80s to early ‘90s, french label Delodio give a necessary second wind to he remarkable abundance of styles covered in two compilation series, plucking out nuggets from the ‘Beatronics’ and ‘UK Electronics’ sets that, with hindsight, were very much of their time, but also unusually broad-minded for a period when labels often tended to stay in one lane.
Ranging from Pattern Clear’s ambient cushion ‘Dreamscape’ to Dreamcore’s exquisite acid house charge ‘Deep In U,’ and thru to new beat/early techno adjacent bangers ‘Change Fuzz’ by M Nomized, and Teknohadfuk’s ‘sizzler ‘THF 4.1.A’, plus gamelan-esque rhythmelody from Richard Leake, and scuzzy electro kinks from Youth Is Violence (aye, we’ve never heard of any of them either!), it’s a pretty crucial haul for fans of that era’s mutations.
We can only offer our gratitude to the UK dole system of the late ‘80s / early ‘90s for supplying Robert Haycock the means to get this gear out there, even if if did take 30 years to reach our ears.
Spend your precious time in Lolina’s head with her inimitably loosey goosey live performance, recorded at Geneva’s Cave12 in 2018 and now pressed to vinyl for Tokyo’s Big Love Records
Exemplary of Inga Copeland (Hype Williams) aka Lolina’s increasingly freeform, ephemeral style of composition of the last few years, her Geneva live show sees her coolly drifting between clouds of frothed percussive loops, bleeps, and church bells to screwed grime abstraction, janky blatz and dadaist synth-pop for nearly 50 wonky minutes. Keener observers will recognise mutant versions of songs from ‘The Smoke,’ released the same year of this performance, stitched in with her naturally unpredictable forms, which most brilliantly and boldly sound unresolved and frayed in a DIY, off-the-cuff way that many artists wouldn’t have the gall to perform live in front of an audience.
It practically sounds as though she’s in her own space and doing what comes naturally, offering a candid snapshot of her stream-of-consciousness in unfettered flow. Never hectic, more stoned and endearingly carefree, the set washes out with a lolling sort of lo-fi psychedelia that feels freer, less contrived than more conventional sorts of psychedelic music (don’t get us started on soundalike “psych” bands that couldn’t be further from it), primed with a sort of aleatoric unpredictability and canny wit, and snagged with her patented, from-behind-the-ear hooks that light up the set at opportune junctures.
Long-awaited reissue of three of the most desired records from the ‘modern soul’ scene. Privately recorded in the Detroit area between ’73 and ’78, and scarcely distributed since, the rare ‘Aged In Harmony’ 7”s have become highly sought after and much revered by soul enthusiasts around the world.
"The unique vibrations emanating from these very special records have resonated at the heart of the Melodies label since it’s conception, originally prompting the birth of the internationally acclaimed “You’re A Melody” party and forever inspiring generations of soul collectors to dig that little bit deeper.
All originally written, arranged and produced by Arnold Moore, the six recordings bring together Strings, Vocals, Guitars, Synths, Horns and Drums for the perfect marriage of textures; each track contributing it’s own individual energy to the warming aura which surrounds the whole collection. There’s something about these compositions that draws you closer to anyone in your vicinity - trust me.
After lovingly remastering these gems in conjunction with their creator, Melodies are proud to present the masterpieces together as a set for the very first time, accompanied by the second edition of the label’s very own Melozine, which features an exclusive interview with Arnold himself, amongst much, much more…"
After an absence of 13 years Stephen Fretwell announces his long-awaited third album, ‘Busy Guy’, released via Speedy Wunderground.
"Described by Fretwell as “a song cycle of sorts,” the album examines the seasons of a life, exploring fatherhood, grief and rebirth, with Fretwell’s trademark eloquence and wit. ‘Busy Guy’ was produced by Fretwell’s close friend and Speedy Wunderground label boss, Dan Carey. They recorded the whole thing one hot July afternoon in just two hours. “I was so fired up, I just rattled off the songs,” Fretwell says. “I assumed it was the run-through, but Dan said he thought we’d got it.” The next day, Carey assembled “a palate of sound” involving keyboards and an electric guitar. “Dan said, ‘I’m just going to react to the songs over the next few hours’, and that’s the finished record, besides some cello.”
The album title was also Carey’s idea. Fretwell explains: “Years ago, Dan asked why I always carried a copy of The Guardian, a notebook and a pen when all I did was go to the pub. I said: if you go to the pub at 11am with a newspaper, a notebook and pen, you look like a busy guy rather than a pisshead. It became a joke between us. The joke too is that I didn’t do any music for years.” The album was recorded at Dean Street Studios in Soho, not far from where Fretwell now lives, and London looms large on the record, in titles like ‘Oval’ and ‘Embankment’: stops on the Tube and urban images shimmer as Fretwell captures a city full of pride and secrets. He wrote most of the lyrics for ‘Busy Guy’ sitting in the British Library, “taking the songs to pieces and reassembling them, refining the words, thinking about the stories.”
There are moments of visceral delight, of ripeness and fullness in nature - blood, milk and honey, peaches and almonds - all set against the backdrop of the slowburn of long-term love. Fretwell is a true poet with his imagery - taking us on a tour of the universe as he tries to conflate the experience of loss and love on a major scale, yet never wanting to assume grandeur, always dancing that fine line between statement and question. He takes us right up into the cosmos, to “moon craters” and “crazed constellations” (‘Green’), to religion’s saints and angels, and right back slap-down down to earth again - in the grotesque detail of horseflies twitching in last night’s wine glasses, and the fridge-cold lagers the narrator of ‘Pink’ has brought for the beach: a peace offering but also an opt-out. ‘Busy Guy’ is a record that dips into darkness but ultimately shines in its own light. A record that symbolises a waking up. A fresh start. A newness that bears the weight of the past but uses it to great effect."
Perhaps our most rinsed record this year - the first album, proper, from Tom Boogizm’s Rat Heart is finally here, an all-over-the place rendition of scuzzy soul knocks and frazzled steez that somehow manages to sound like Arthur Russell, Urban Tribe and The Other People Place all at once. Seriously - AOTY gear right here.
Panel-beating house, rap, post-punk and screwball machine funk into a heavily personalised, bruised sorta soul music, Rat Heart is the sound of pure invention, a delirious exercise in DIY world-building that sounds like it was made with rudimentary gear in a bedroom in south manchester, and yet in our opinion more or less creates its own musical vernacular - blind to any stylistic or technical limitations.
It’s an album that’s basically a portrait of someone with an insatiable appetite for music and a vast pool of ideas - weaving blunted vocals into a claggy mix of thizzed-out atmospheres, mutable rhythms and hot-wired edits with signature, freehanded swagger. It’s a real manc thing too, woozily navigating between a wide spectra of influences guided by instinct, and - like so much music that’s captured us most over the years - plays that trick of sounding both primitive/crudely constructed, while also suggestive of entirely new creative possibilities.
In patented, hungry-belly lo-fi, the production is eviscerated but full of moxie, wringing out brittle but bumptious hardware grooves in all 12 bits. From the aerosoul graffiti of the opener to the rawly offset techno of the closer, it’s proper snakes and ladders styles, switching between clambering funk and squashed rufige with a mazy, game, logic all of its own. No doubt it’s one of the strongest albums from this city in 2021 - possibly in years.
Dean Blunt’s totemic, genre-agnostic first ’Black Metal’ album is back in circulation on the heels of its killer 2nd volume, singing out a singular sort of mid-decade London blooz where his myriad circles run into one.
In 2014 ‘Black Metal’ arrived as Blunt’s 4th solo album in a string of quietly groundbreaking and guess-again solo recordings following the break-up of Hype Williams, his duo with Inga Copeland. It was an instant fave, raved about everywhere, and with the benefit of hindsight is arguably one of the past decade’s definitive highlights; a record symptomatic of the way staid generic borders were dissolving, expressing a lucid but woozy pathos that still feels timeless, yet very much of its flat-time, when the stream of musical history had pooled into the reservoir of the internet.
Returning to its slow baked charms 7 years later ‘Black Metal’ has lost none of its fascinating allure, with a reflective stillness still belying its depths. Nimbly joining wipe clean presets and crisp licks of original instrumentation with vocals by Blunt and regular spar Joanne Robertson, their baker’s dozen tunes somehow consolidate aspects of everything from hip hop to chamber music, indie-pop to R&B with experimental wit and ohrwurming magick that places it among his most memorable and surprising records.
From the symphonic Americana lilt of ‘Lush’ to its amazing 13 minute centrepiece of chamber soul gauze ‘Forever’ and the free jazz meets folk and roadrap synthscape of ‘Grade’ it coolly piques curiosity and perplexes from every angle, resolving unfamiliar styles with a pop-sharpened manner that follows a path first taken by A.R. Kane and which quite possibly ignited a reappraisal of the problematic way in which Black music has been perceived and categorised in popular/critical culture.
All time business = unmissable.
At flipping last The Force Dimension’s EBM classic and proto-rave touchstone sees a proper reissue, including the Red & Blue LP versions and the all-timer ‘200 FA’
After cropping up on various comps and LP reissues over the past decade, The Force Dimension’s finest moments are now in the Optimo spotlight, highlighting their slightly synth-pop styled take on EBM that first appeared on Belgium’s KK Records in the late ‘80s. Their tracks transcended leathered-up EBM to find favour in Belgian new beat clubs as well as the proto-rave sets of Colin Dale and the whole Wax Trax!/house crossover in Chicago, and now, more than 30 years later, they still absolutely smack.
Basically unmissable for the ecto-trigger pads and tumpin’ toms of ‘200 FA’ at the least, this EP also draws for prime cuts from the same year, such as the Klaus Nomi-in-the-darkroom styles of ‘Aqua 2000’ from their ‘Dust’ 12”, and the dodgier EBM of ‘All Systems Out.’ Interestingly ‘Tension’ appears in two forms, a ‘Red’ mix by pivotal producer Luc Van Acker (Ministry) that was released at the time, but the band didn’t really like it, and ended up getting Dirk Ivens (Klinik) to lend some muscle to a whole new ‘Blue’ version of the album, from where this EP’s superior version comes.
First new single in 4 years from Welsh post-punk band Chain Of Flowers.
'Amphetamine Luck' is produced by Jonah Falco (Fucked Up, Jade Hairpins) and serves as a taste for the bands second album, due for release in 2022.
Knekelhuis compilation presenting all-new productions from international artists.
"This is a story of friendship, about how it grows stronger through the years. But it’s just as much about fledgling togetherness and shared art in times of crisis. The result is an introspective document of contemporary music, in spirit of Eno and Hassell. A space where we embrace our differences and speak the language of collectivity together, where we reflect, adapt and value each artist's contribution equally. To witness a multitude of cultural backgrounds that speak one like-minded language. Soothing and illuminating. And felt like...
Seriously spannered musical cross-pollination here: XT make free jazz, but using the sonic backdrop of Chicago house. In an attempt to reflect the musical variety of Cafe OTO, they intersperse their freeform sax 'n drums splatter with triggered electronic elements and sampled references. Weird shit, and very good.
XT is saxophone player Seymour Wright and percussionist Paul Abbott, who on their fourth full-length channel the cultural-referencing musical relevance of house and footwork and dump it into a free jazz framework. It's not the first time the duo have managed to express this kind of fusion; in 2019 they released a 2018 collaboration with Chicago's own footwork pioneer RP Boo.
On "Deorlaf X" they take what they've learned from not only this collaboration but their regular run of Cafe OTO performances, and bend these elements into their already well-tuned artistic practice. So squealing horns and clattering drums are spaced out and disrupted by bursts of noise or triggered samples. Occasionally everything comes to a hard stop, before jerky electronics take over completely.
It's time-warping, mind-fluxing material that ties the forward motion of Charlie Parker and Ornette Coleman with the furious dancefloor lyricism of Larry Heard, Theo Parrish or DJ Rashad.
Double A Side vinyl of 'Baba Ayoola' and 'Carry Me Home'.
"'Baba Ayoola' was written as a tribute to the grandfather of the band's alto saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi and is 'an invitation to celebrate life'. Whilst 'Carry Me Home' was inspired by conversations with the masterful Dele Sosimi, whose technical ability in bridging the gap between the West African afrobeat sound of his roots, and the London energy of his upbringing, has directly informed the ever-impressive capabilities demonstrated by London's eight-piece collective, KOKOROKO."
Russia’s rudest fires off his sharpest round of jittery, mutant ghetto tech on his ANWO label
Rinsed out in his patented, compressed, serotonin-skull-scrape style, ‘Railz’ posits Flaty at his plasmic limbed best, with something like the soundtrack to a low-res rave scene in a fan-art remake of The Matrix. Rhythms spark and jolt like snapping synapses, swirled in thizzing electronic textures in a way that inverts any sense of “heaviness”, but has the capacity to fling bodies just as well as anything more protein fed.
Working within a curiously inverted soundsphere or roll cage akin to Jay Glass Dubs, but even more elusive, Flaty’s style works by inference rather than urge, leaving lots of room for the imagination to fill the ample negative space of his structures. His pointillist prods and smeared artefacts are at their most effective between the needling swang of ‘railz,’ which almost resembles a sort of desiccated dembow patterning, and also in ‘Lisc,’ which sounds like an AI invented by Stingray, while that eviscerated dubbing is at best on the swarming electroid diffusion of ‘say it’ and most explicitly, even sensually on ‘rotation—60,’ and anyone hunting for that iciest Russian tone will get it in ‘feeding of the negativity.’
Skudgy midnight house grooves and drowsy atmospheres from Șerb, minting the first album on Austria’s Night Defined Recordings
‘A12 Proceedings’ was made in “sparse moments” in 2018 while the artist inhabited an old apartment building in Bucharest, Romania. The eight tracks are brooding but not dark, locating a shade of deep minimal techno and dub-techno more primed for home listening than club play as it breezily carries from the quick flutters of ‘Hands Spoke’ to offset electro-dub on ‘334th Hurdle,’ scratchy broken steppers styles in ’Stampcrabs’ and the wicked electro-dub-hous squirm of ‘Proceedings,’ with supple dub downstroke reserved for ’Topit,’ and a lush sign off with the cinematic synth pads of ‘Moat Shore.’
SOPHIE lights up 2018 with ‘Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides’, an exhilarating début album of upfront dance-pop, epic ballads and shocking electronic production that grasps the modern zeitgeist with jaws and both fists
Landing some 6 years since her ironically titled debut Nothing More To Say, over which time the artist has produced records for Madonna, Charli XCX and Vince Staples (among others), Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides renders a full frontal experience that’s set to define the scene for years to come.
SOPHIE’s understanding of the links between avant-garde and pop cultures is dramatically in force across the album, matching the hyperreal pop stun of PC Music chop for chop, but also pushing the prism farther in favour of her own, equally hyperreal image. The results are comparable with Autechre and EVOL records as much as Taylor Swift or The Pet Shop Boys, veering from warped pop perfection to brutalist electronics and breathtaking rhythmic energy often in the space of a single track, brilliantly embracing contradiction as a tool of expression in a way that feels bang on the money right now.
Her trifecta of lead singles, It’s Okay to Cry, Ponyboy, and Faceshopping gild the album’s entrance with some of the strongest pop sensations felt in recent years, before matters take a dramatic turn with a plunge into the beatless trance ballad Is It Cold In The Water?, and the subsequent chest-bursting R&B gospel of Infatuation, which both appear to massage the senses in preparation for the album’s shock-out 2nd half.
In Not Okay, she pairs knock-out electronics with the sheerest rave mentasms in delirious 3D, before utterly gobbling your swede in the breathtaking, atonal wormhole of Pretending, and promptly spiralling into the vacuum-packed banger Immaterial, then embracing the Whole New World/Pretend World in a kill-‘em-all 9 minutes of endorphin-rushing dance-pop genius that’s effectively the 2018 anthem we were all waiting for.
Rob Smith’s B-lines fi blow on two classic for Pev’s Punch Drunk, reissued on their 10th anniversary
Casting us back to the red-eyed daze of 2008, RSD’s two outings for Punch Drunk marked the development of the hardcore ‘nuum by one of its originators.
Stepping 20 years on from his earliest Bristol bassbin classics in Smith ’N Mighty and into the 140bpm arena, Rob Smith shook the foundations with billowing subbass pressure and dub-forged drums in ‘Jah Way’, and brought UK steppers up to speed with the rolling juggernaut ‘Speeka Box’.
Pure locked groove rhythms from Swiss drummer Sartorius, chasing up 2019’s Valentina Magaletti collab with his first solo release in five years
A must check for anyone wowed by the recent CZN records from Magaletti with João Pais Filipe and Leon Marks, Sartorius’ locked grooves are wickedly stumbling, offbeat loops of swag primed to be blended in the mix by explorative DJs and even freaks who simply get off on listening to locked groves - there’s gotta be a few out there, at least.
“Julian Sartorius aims to test infinity. Focussing on reduction and repetition, the versatile artist, drummer, and percussionist has recorded an album capable of suspending time. Exploring the potential of a repertoire performed under rigorous conditions and regulated by a loop length of 1.8 seconds, Sartorius responds with a disciplined focus on tonal nuances, micro expressions and shifting time signatures.
The 112 locked grooves of this album — or 112 one-minute loops on the digital release — unveil an abundance of rhythmic forms, some vigorous, some frail, others impulsive, alluring, and adrift. Sartorius’ precise, multi-layered rhythmical patterns are incisive excursions into the hidden tones of found objects and prepared instruments, concise arrangements which bridge the gap between sound art and the vocabulary of (experimental) electronic music.
On ‘Locked Grooves’ Sartorius interrogates the idea of a ‘static’ groove, unfurling an endless, meticulously gradated percussive suite. This is the point at which intangible structures materialize, becoming four-dimensional, sculptural, solid. Sartorius explains: «I hope listeners will experience these compositions like they would explore a painting at a museum - letting the work unfold in depth, revealing layer after layer.”
Freehand pads ’n bass graffiti from Skee Mask, serving a definitive 3rd album on Ilian Tape collapsing his myriad styles into mutant swarms of electro, D&B, and deep techno
At 18 tracks long and 1hr 44min long, ‘Pool’ is easily Skee Mask’s most substantial offering, coughing up a payload of writhing, ADD-like exercises in the gaps between styles after making his name over the past decade since early work as SCNTST. He’s amassed a keen following to his swirling sound designs since then, who will no doubt be all over this one like hungry dogs, especially its highlights in the strobign trance arps and glyding footwork pressure of ‘DJ Camo Bro,’ the nervy drum machine jag ’60681z,’ and the Analord-esque ‘Pepper Boys.’
Expanded vinyl edition of Another Setting, the third studio album by cult Manchester ensemble The Durutti Column.
"Another Setting was recorded in 1983 at Strawberry Studio, Stockport with production by Chris Nagle, a favourite engineer of Martin Hannett. The 11 track album contains several acknowledged Durutti classics, notably haunting instrumental Prayer (burnished with cor anglais by Maunagh Fleming) and The Beggar, probably the closest Vini Reilly has edged to rock music. Elsewhere, Smile in the Crowd would be covered by Depeche Mode mainman Martin Gore on his 1989 solo project Counterfeit.
This new vinyl remaster also includes non-album single I Get Along Without You Very Well, a bittersweet Hoagy Carmichael cover sung by Lindsay Reade, the former wife of Factory foreman Tony Wilson. The second disc is a previously unreleased live show taped at the Pandora’s Box Festival in Rotterdam on 4 September 1983, featuring eight tracks performed by Vini Reilly and Bruce Mitchell. This second disc is pressed on clear vinyl.
The album contains several acknowledged Durutti classics, notably haunting instrumental Prayer (burnished with cor anglais by Maunagh Fleming) and The Beggar, an unusually muscular vocal song and probably the closest Vini Reilly has edged to rock music. Elsewhere Smile in the Crowd would be covered by Depeche Mode mainman Martin Gore on his 1989 Counterfeit EP."
“Listen as if you were being told a secret” - Federico Fellini
"A companion piece to 2018’s Listening To Pictures, this second volume in the pentimento series presents eight new tracks by the music visionary, continuing his lifelong exploration of the possibilities of recombination and musical gene-splicing. Pentimento is defined as the “reappearance in a painting of earlier images, forms, or strokes that have been changed and painted over” and this is evident in the innovative production style that ‘paints with sound’ using overlapping nuances to create an undefinable and intoxicating new palette.
In classic Hassell fashion, the title can be interpreted in a myriad of ways, but perhaps the most pertinent at the moment is the human instinct to sing and play through a rain of difficulties. A future blues of indeterminate and ever-shifting shape. The album is buffered by two 8-minute plus epics at the beginning and the end - the hypnotic “Fearless” with it’s metronomic, almost Can-like rhythm, and blurry, noir-ish texture of sound emerging like car headlights from the fog; mirrored at the end of the record by the beautiful sci-fi lullaby of “Timeless”, a track with a gaseous, billowing quality as electronic clicks and bubbles float over a landscape of shimmering, glacially paced complexity. The bridge between those two worlds is no less compelling, from the frantic, spidery IDM sketch of “Reykjavik” to the collapsed-time ballad of “Unknown Wish”. Whilst containing seeds of classic ‘fourth world’ fusion, this record finds the artist still questing to create new forms and mutations of music, a thrilling window into what music could sound like in a world to come."
Nurse With Wound do us all a favour and sort the wheat from the chaff of their legendary “List” in a bountiful new trawl for their spiritual descendants at Finders Keepers, this time with a focus on German artists. Wigs will be flipped, we tell thee.
For the uninitiated; on the back cover of their 1979 debut album, ‘Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella,’ Nurse With Wound alphabetically itemised a stack of records that had influenced them, often for the inclusion of only one track on the record. The records were so rare and obscure that people who picked up the album thought NWW were having a laugh, but eventually realised they were real, obtainable things, leading them to become proper collectors’ items. After more than 40 years, and to the delight of many, NWW’s Steven Stapleton now dissects the pertinent bits of heart, liver and vital organs from those records, highlighting a shared consciousness of the ‘60s / ‘70s experimental, psych, and avant garde scenes in the years before record collecting of that voracity became a competitive pursuit and the fancy of hirsute record fair hunters.
This second volume examines Germany's inclusions on the list and is another precious haul of spannered, synapse popping prog 'n psych rawnesz thru to druggy, burned out eccentricity and ragged Prussian post-funk fuzz. It's a wild, narcotic voyage down the styx, all loose jazz rawk rhythms, ripped woofer bass and screaming detuned axe leads, everything assembled with a pre-punk middle finger to established ideas of order and genre. More importantly, it avoids the gilted critic-proof Kraut canon of Neu!, Can, Amon Düül, Popol Vuh and the like, mostly 'cuz if you've missed that you've probably not been listening very closely.
Instead, we get to experience the jagged, off-key improv splatter of Wolfgang Dauner's 'Output', that pulls us into the Deutsche smokescape kicking, screaming and frothing at the mouth. It sounds like musicians playin against each other rather than together: drums are an assemblage of occasional fills, guitar riffs are mangled, smacked and panned, oscillators squeal drunkenly like sick insects and piano rattles and rolls to underpin everything with nautical anxiety.
Avant legend Limpe Fuchs and her husband's Anima-Sound duo appear with 'It Loves Want To Have Done It', a haunted, sparse improvisation that pits screams and whispers against tidal free-wonk percussion and pinging left-bonk effex. Underrated Detroit x Stuttgart Kraut-funk oddbods Exmagma fight thru blotter breath with 'It's So Nice', drawing a clear line in Sharpie between Black US innercity innovation and German commune-adjacent anti-establishment experimentation. It all follows a line far beyond the usual krautrock and kosmiche culprits to perfectly demonstrate the Germans’ rhythm-driven and psychedelic urges in abundance, highlighting the way a generational wave of musicians sought to create a new music unshackled from folk music tainted by their fathers’ generation, or imitating British and American styles; broadening their horizons while cognisant of the need to make a music that was, after all, expressive of a new society. Trust Steven Stapleton has picked out the most virulent, enduring examples for a new generation to absorb while watching their hairlines recede and waists and beards bloom…
Acclaimed UK shoegaze revivalists Sennen celebrate two decades of existence with an expanded reissue of their debut album "Widows".
Shoegaze really is the sound that can never die. A couple of decades ago, really not long after first wave shoegaze had petered out, Sennen jumped on the next wave train (pre Slowdive's reunion and MBV's return to center stage) and released 'Widows' in 2005. Now it's back with a few extra tracks, remastered by Slowdive's very own Simon Scott. It sounds decent too, and if you're into the Ride/MBV axis of dreamy shimmer you'll probably find plenty to hang onto here.
Burial’s total bewt ‘Chemz’ with an exclusive new B-side working at ASMR levels of ambient sensitivity, developing a strain of extended beatless works following from his ‘Nightmarket’ and ‘Beachfires’ classics
Originally despatched as one of Burial’s annual Chrimbuss spesh’s, ‘Chemz’ really struck a nerve with many listeners during lockdown, even outing my teenaged bro as a Burial fan, which was heartwarming to say the least. The track has lost none of its allure since xmas, and the new B-side is a chef’s kiss complement, extinguishing the beats to float off on smoked-out ambient pads and tip-of-tongue sound design.
Where ‘Chemz’ left us lump-in-throat and looking for a dark corner to dance in, ‘Dolphinz’ is one for midnight balcony zoots and duvet diving, with the South Londoner following his nose for plangent, range-finding dolphin calls and crackling foley ephemera sparingly daubed with ASMR voices and gorgeous pads that recall late ‘90s D&B intro’s/breakdowns via moments of The Sprawl and deepest chill out rooms in Second Life.
Soul-slapping deep jazz hearticals from a key player in the Chicago and IARC cosmos, joined by Angel Bat Dawid and Ben LaMar Gay who help make up his 11-part Black Monument Ensemble - So on-point, this one!!! RIYL KDJ, Theo Parrish, Prefuse 73
Revolving Damon Locks’ sampler chops and electronics at its core and periphery, it’s abundantly clear to hear the band are in-the-zone on ‘Now’, which is practically the epitome of how to do forward facing music jazz with a deep appreciation of tradition. In their seamless and jagged elision of electronic and organic sources a real magick bleeds thru that’s got us standing up to give it some proper appreciation, and we imagine it will have the same effect everywhere else.
The bookending works with clarinetist Angel Bat Dawit are, perhaps predictably, the highlights, with her spirited freeness lighting up Locks’ patchwork of samples and a sextet of vocalists driven by dual percussionists, Dana Hall and Arif Smith on the swingeing West African styled downstroke of ‘Now (Forever Momentary Space)’ from start to the spine-chilling end and final exhortations of “Whew!”, and again in the rug-shredding wriggle of ‘The Body Is Electric.’ They’re both serious dancefloor cuts in the right hands, and perfectly characterise the album’s grooving nature that snakes thru the Theo-esque bustling metrics and hip-shot sampler stabs of ‘The People vs The Rest Of Us’ and lip-biting swing and parry of ‘Keep Your Mind Free.’
Use your ears, trust your body, you’ll know what to do next. No brainer!
Lowkey but pivotal Bristolian duo O$VMV$M supply No Corner with their first 12”, some 6 years after their debut ‘Memoryz Ov U’ in 2015
Part of the sprawling but loose knit Young Echo collective, Amos Childs (Jabu) and Sam Barrett (Neek) have been in the shadows recently, producing for Manonmars and Rider Shafique, but ‘Weekend Saviour’ marks their sultry return to the fray via six slow and eazy downbeats in signature style. Chopped & screwed rap instrumentals, R&B, and dancehall inform the vibe, although skewed with a lilting South Western accent and perfectly skudgy, stoned appeal that oozes from every cut, working with a paucity of ingredients in an unshowy manner that’s made them clear favourites of red eyed night owls.
The ghosts of Avon’s trip hop and heritage gloam large over proceedings, with perhaps obvious comparisons to be between Portishead and their dusty, creaking opener ’116 Greystoke,’ but there’s also something more fugged out to the likes of their dungeon bunkered title cut that’s more intimation, not imitation, as they pursue a perpendicular style of bluntedness between the slompy ‘Deathphone,’ plus the pastoral dancehall of ‘Bird Ride’ nodding to Equiknoxx, and an outstanding closer of cartoonish samples and groggy groove like a Metal Fingers meets Wiley screwball in ‘Codzilla Outro’ pointing to new angles of their sound.
Koreless returns with keenly awaited debut album ‘Agor,’ fine-tuning inspirations ranging from Benjamin Britton to UK rave within distinctive electro-acoustic sound designs.
Prizing the futureshock and enigma of electronic music as much as the immediacy of dance-pop and finesse of ambient classical composition, Koreless achieves a high watermarkwith ‘Agor.’ Arriving a decade since they debuted on Peckham’s Picture Music, which ultimately led to their appearance at Young Turk’s clubnight, and a small but promising clutch of singles for the label between 2012-2015; the album finally unveils a bold new sound at its fullest, calibrating instrumental flourishes with generative vocals and sheer computer music tekkers in plush, spacious designs that benefit from immaculate mixing and mastering.
The ten tracks of ‘Agor’ makes their 33’ run time feel even shorter thanks to the artist’s mercurial grasp of refractive harmonic colour and diffractive pacing. Synth-pop in effect, but soundtrack-like in scope, they cascade from the pendulous metric freedom of widescreen opener ‘Yonder’ to the valley sweeping choral majesty of ‘Strangers’ in measured turns that coalesce into a dramatic description of landscape, both external, hyperreal; and inner.
Previous single ‘Black Rainbow’ plucks the heartstrings with a piquant sort of hiraeth, bringing to light a remarkably precise, bespoke sound design that underlies its windswept highlights, from the Barker-esque weightless flight and choral dramaturgy of ‘White Picket Fence’ and digitized chamber music of ‘Act(s),’ thru to standout darkside bouts of droogy electro in ‘Joy Squad,’ crystalline AI R&B in ‘Frozen,’ and scalp-tingling elision of trance-pop arps and classical pastoral elegance in ‘Shellshock.’
Since their early singles, Koreless has been busy producing for FKA Twigs and Rita Ora, but ‘Agor’ sees them step from behind the scenes into the light of the uncanny valley.
'Fantas' re-imagined eight times; there's pipe organ, singeli and blistering 'ardkore! You know what to do.
Italian modular icon Caterina Barbieri struck gold with 'Fantas', the delirious opening track from 2019's brilliant "Ecstatic Computation" that's been a staple of her live performances since its release. Now the fan fave has been bumped up and fleshed out with a suite of versions, but "Fantas Variations" is no ordinary remix compilation. Rather Barbieri asked a few friends to re-interpret 'Fantas' in their own distinct manner, and the results are far more interesting than a job lot of ambient shovelware or lo-fi house b-stock. Evelyn Saylor opens proceedings with a crystalline vocal version, working alongside the sublime trio of Lyra Pramuk, Stine Janvin and Annie Garlid, before Bendik Giske transports us into a loopy sax-led netherworld with his lifted, elegiac take.
It's Kali Malone's version that truly blows out our brain cavities out, though. A longtime friend of Barbieri's, Malone adds the weight of a dying world to her 'Fantas For Two Organs', summoning the melancholy power of a sad cathedral on a sad evening in Sadberg: tears were shed. More cheery is an extended singeli jam from Nyege Nyege's Jay Mitta, and LA veteran Baseck's 'Fantas Hardcore' that does exactly what it says on the tin, with the hoover sounds and overdriven hardbounce kicks to prove it.
The album closes by touching the sublime with a deft, economical take from Kara-Lis Coverdale. She strips the composition down to its key elements, recreating the memorable riff on piano and smudging the edges just ever so slightly. It's as spine-tingling a finale as you'd hope to find and the perfect end to a celebration of all things 'Fantas'.