Sophisticated spiritual sounds on the crossroads of electrified jazz, oriental fourth-world spheres and deeply composed experimental sounds.
"This time Studio Mule welcome japanese artist ya-sukazu sato aka yas-kaz, a university-trained percussionist, that gained global success as a composer for the internationally known butoh dance troupe sankai juku, that tours around the world since 1975. his infrequent musical amalgamation of ancient eastern genres, airy soundscapes, and ritualistic dance percussions perfectly accompanied the modern dance movements of an avantgarde dance group that is known for slow, mesmerizing dance passages, whose repetitive body movements sometimes focusing only on the feet or fingers. besides his theatre work, yas-kaz composed scores for japanese movies, performed live along stars like us-american jazz saxophonist wayne shorter or legendary japanese new-age musical group himekami and recorded a number of collabo-rative and solo albums.
with “virgo indigo”, studio mule reissues his third solo album, originally published on the japanese label canyon in 1986. the album opens with “djidanda”, a composition whose melodic drive and percussive groove reminds on moondog’s spirit. melancholic strings, loose guitar riffs, spiritual cowbells and wild, yet mild rhythms form a repetitive maelstrom that is made for all sorts of acrobatic body movements. it gets followed by the album’s title track “virgo indigo”, a spiritual jazz leaning arrangement featuring wayne shorter on the soprano saxophone, delivering a crystal-clear performance above tribal rhythms and traces of gamelan. the story-arc of the ten-minute long composition brings also minimalistic percussive moments, oriental ambient zones and some electronic drones, all calm and lively at the same time.
a versatileness, that marks the other four arrangements on the album, too. “kara-kira ~windscape iii~” comes around as an airy spiritual illusionist, that melds joyful flute notes with gentle chime melodies. the b-side’s epic opener “wadji” starts industrial, just to break down into a manic, again moondogish atmosphere full of darkish sounds and nebulous ambient deepness. subsequent yas-kaz enters with “notarinotari” the oriental zones, seducing with a jazz-laden romantic soundtrack mood. the final tune is yet another surprise, as “jasmin” is percussive driven neon cocktail bar pop, that features a hum-ming female voice and mesmerizing synth and guitar melodies. six tracks that introduce six different locations of yas-kaz’s ramified artistic work, which combines sweetish melodies, dynamic percussions, statuesque minimalism and world music traditions in spacious compositions that stay surprising until the very last second."
Master of mysterious minimalism, Miki Yui helms the latest Hallow Ground with a beautifully poised and slow burning suite taking in deep-listening durational works and lighter, elusive sensations recalling Bellows and the oneiric seductions of Elodie.
Miki’s follow-up to a quietly acclaimed solo side for Cusp Editions, and her Realistic Monk collaboration with Carl Stone ‘Realm’ in 2018, ‘Aperio!’ Takes its title from the latin for ‘April’ and its original etymology, “to open” or “to reveal”, which works as a neat metaphor for the way her music revels in quiet nuance, and how it unfolds with an almost preternatural stealth.
Drawing on a related spectrum of strategies ranging from field recordings to synthesis and electro-acoustic processes, Miki’s music distills and crystallises a latent abstraction and oddness from physical experience and the “real” world into a series of warmly inviting, intimate scenes that gently trigger the imagination. The 10 minutes of rolling sinewaves in ‘Listening (oneness)’ summons comparison with Eliane Radigue’s enigmatic Arp process, while ‘Dancing (swamp)’ feels like music for an underwater lounge, and the fractured audity of ‘Dreaming (now)’ hits right on the waking/dreamlife sweet spot, along with the mesmerisingly precise tone poem of’ Rhyming (colours)’, and the Bellows-like low key otherworldliness of ‘Babbling’, whose sensitivities are coincidentally, perfectly brought to life in the mastering by Giuseppe Ielasi.
0PN mounts a definitive opus with his rapturous 9th studio album, entirely produced during lockdown, with “executive production” by The Weeknd, who also supplies vocals alongside Arca and Caroline Polachek.
‘Magic Oneohtrix Point Never’ is titled after the mispronunciation of Magic 106.7, a local radio station in Boston, Massachusetts; the state where Daniel Lopatin aka 0PN grew up, and where the album was created. The radio station’s adult contemporary programming is a formative and enduring influence on 0PN’s music, and it’s clear that he’s saved this album title for some of his most accomplished tributes to his influences, but refracted thru his prismatic styles to illustrate the distance between that era, and this, with some of his most elusive, illusive and beguiling sound design wrapped up in a mix of stunningly mazy and pop-toned arrangements.
0PN is one of those artists we’d imagine took to lockdown quite naturally, sequestering themselves away to immerse in their art for the good of everyone outside. Written between March and July, the results of ‘Magic Oneohtrix Point Never’ speak for themselves as 0PN’s most broadly appealing record, typically placing avant-inventiveness and curiosity at the service of a tumultuous narrative that really needs some kind of road-trip simulation game to go along with its possessed dial-strafing.
You’re probably familiar with the album’s opening sequence, which appeared on a lead single, and includes the lushest FM synthesis of 2020 in ‘Long Road Home’, and the rest of the album follows suit with a profligate approach to genre, cutting from phased dream-pop grunge in ’I Don’t Love Me Anymore’, to hypnagogic ident collage in ‘The Whether Channel’, and The Weeknd’s romantic ‘80s power pop turn on ‘Lost But Never Again’, crucially fractured with cut-scenes and mutant jingling of the ‘Cross Talk’ parts that tie the album’s story together with something approaching a sonic-visual analog of Safdie Brothers’ choppy editing gone lysergic.
Legowelt turns a Swiss candy shop of rare synths into a definitive masterwork for the first release on a highly promising new series.
Like a kid in the proverbial, the Dutch boffin clearly had a great time at Fribourg, Switzerland’s SMEM (Swiss Museum for Electronic Music Instruments) in early 2019, where he was invited to be the first artist in residence at the ‘Playroom’ project, and left was “flabbergasted” at their array of obscure synths, prophesying it may “turn into the world’s most magical place for synths”. The results are simply stone cold classic Legowelt, pulpy and warbly in all the right places, and totally evoking a classic nEuropean sort of synth romance in the style that’s served him for over 25 years.
Nerds may need to know that he used the following synthesizers: Moog Memorymoog, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, Sequential Circuits Prophet VS, Evolution EVS-1, Pulser Dual Voice Synthesizer, Roland Promars Compuphonic, Farfisfa Syntorchestra, Simmons Digital Clap Trap, FBT Synther 2000: and everyone else should know it’s some of his best work bar none; from the gauzy Vangelisian brass flares of the titular opener, to the high grade nostalgia of ‘Swiss Fairytales’, the glittering electro of ‘Prophet Vector Synth Dazzling In The Sun’, and sublime space-chamber enigmas ‘These Phenomena Are Not Well Understood’ and ‘Roxannes Magic Watch’.
‘Land Waves’, the third album by new minimalists Snow Palms, is the project’s first full length since becoming a duo.
"At times it is like Terry Riley with Lex Baxter in Japan, at others it could be the soundtrack to a meditation centre in neo-Tokyo dreamed up by William Gibson and Brian Eno. Its patterns and textures accelerate and resolve with drama and intent, its abstractions rendered by a distinctive kinetic sound world of mallets and synthesizers conjuring real and imaginary landscapes.
In 2017 Snow Palms originator, the musician, critic and tutor David Sheppard, invited fellow composer, producer and academic Matt Gooderson to formally join the project, after spending time together experimenting in the studio. “We have quite different musical backgrounds but found we were responding to and searching for the same things in music,” explains Sheppard, “Over time, we evolved both a methodology and a signature sound.” The album’s opener ‘Atom Dance’, which is like Martin Denny’s orchestra reinterpreting Steve Reich, crescendos to heart-stirring finale; ‘Everything Ascending’ counts out a human heartbeat before reaching for the stars in glittering synths and galaxies of soaring vocals; ‘Evening Rain Gardens’ is soothing music for a meditation centre from the future.
Title track ‘Land Waves’ is a restrained epic, equal parts vast panorama and decorous motif. The graceful mwoodwinds of ‘Thought Shadow’ express the album’s more reflective moments, while the shifting rhythmic patterns of ‘Kojo Yakei’ evoke the concept it’s named for - a Japanese trend for night-time visits to factories and refineries decorated in lights. Inexorably enveloping closing track ‘White Cranes Return’ is a requiem for twilight, when soft shadows are drawn over a landscape. ‘Land Waves’ is hallmarked by the voice of Matt Gooderson’s partner Megan, who was pregnant with their son during recording sessions. Her empyrean vocals are woven into the tapestry of the album, grounding the music in the human, as glockenspiels, marimbas and clarinets move in lockstep with arpeggiated modular synthesizers and glinting percussion. “Adding the human voice to this sound world adds a generous new dimension and opens up and a whole new vista for Snow Palms,” says Sheppard. “It’s a buoyant and uplifting record, which I love deeply,” agrees Gooderson, “That feeling is much needed in these times of crisis.”
Both pieces commissioned by INA GRM, Lucy Railton’s piece first performed on the Acousmonium at INA GRM's Multiphonies Concert Series, Maison de la Radio, Paris 2019, Eilbacher side recorded November 2018-March 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Two side-long pieces here from GRM's new "Portraits GRM" series, an offshoot of "Recollection GRM" geared towards more recent commissions for the pioneering French experimental outfit. The first side is from Berlin-based cellist and composer Lucy Railton, who follows her mind-bending records for Modern Love and PAN with an even more ambitious piece, fusing gurgling off-world electronics with disquieting, Lynchian strings. At times 'Forma' sounds as heavenly as Stephan Mathieu and at others as doomy as The Haxan Cloak, but it never loses the sacred essence of GRM pioneers Bernard Parmegiani or Beatriz Ferreyra.
Veteran Baltimore experimental sort Max Eilbacher - of Kraut-drone splinter sect Horse Lords - handles the flip, memorializing the death of a fly by surrounding its withering wails with effervescent electronics, collapsing polyrhythms, cut-and-paste French chatter and crunchy digital noise. A surreal, almost literary attempt at narrative storytelling, it twists and turns through aural textures with a lightness, humor and joy rarely witnessed in self-consciously "experimental" music.
With a clutch of deeply conceptual albums on subjects as diverse as the anthropocene and sleep paralysis after a major car accident, Cuts' latest album, ‘Unreal’, is a mournful meditation on pandemics, populism and disinformation.
"‘UNREAL’ is the second full-length album by musician and filmmaker Anthony Tombling Jr’s CUTS moniker. Tracks retain their emotional resonances in strong melodies and eerie vocals but there is also a hard edge to the music compared to previous releases. “I’ve always reacted to my environment,” explains Tombling, “and a lot of the themes I am exploring on ‘UNREAL’ are around climate crisis, pandemics, and the terrifying rise of far right orators.”
‘UNREAL’ was largely made in lockdown, as Tombling moved to an isolated house where there was no phone or internet three days before full lockdown was introduced across the UK. He soon built a routine of foraging for dinner in the morning and making music all afternoon. It marks a major departure in his output, as the first album not to be rooted in his films. It opens with ‘R U OK?’, with a precipitous bass drop into anxious rhythms like irregular heartbeats. ‘DISSOLUTION’ is a vocoder ballad for fragmenting hardware; ‘UNREAL’ is a hazy roller, evoking fast cars on highways at night. ‘OMEGA MINUS’ is a requiem for postindustrial wastelands, as robotic voices sweep over dust storms and obsolete machinery, then ‘SHELTERED LIFE’ harnesses coarse, rippling static around depth-charge bass. ‘THE BRINK’ brings on woozy and elastic basslines, ‘EXHALE EXILE’ sways in melodic loops lashed to fitful beats, then final track ‘AN INFINITE COLLAPSE’ blows off the grit to reveal songlines and crumbling metallic pulses that crackle with static electricity.
Tombling’s sound world for ‘UNREAL’ is one of anxiety, frustration and emotional peaks, where heavy slugs of sound are lifted by vocoder lyricism, sharp static and fizzing cymbals that cut through like shafts of light in abandoned warehouses. “It’s the heaviest record I’ve made,” says Tombling, “but it’s also the most accessible. I was much more influenced by what's going on in the world - it’s impossible not to be at a moment like this.”
A bearhug of chill-out room gouching gear from MFM spanning the golden era of ‘90s ambient dance music with gems from David Moufang, LFO, Global Communication, Kirsty Hawkshaw, Sun Electric and many more notables of that era.
Since the world turned into a big chill out room in early 2020, albeit with a heavy sense of anxiety, this set could hardly be better placed for downtime in the comfort of your own home, rolling out mystic highlights such as LFO’s MDMA-tingle arps and pads in ‘Helen’ and the sublime suspension systems of Global Communication’s remix of ‘Arcadian’, along with Move D’s early nugget ‘Sergio Leone’s Wet Dream’, and the lush pads of his close spar Jonah Sharp’s Spacetime Continuum, plus a strip of killer slow acid in Sideral’s ‘Mare Nostrum’, and the blissed romance of ‘Love 2 Love’ by Sun Electric.
One for the lovers and the ravers.
Nervy brokebeat techno, ambient footwork and mutant dembow zingers from Berlin/Vancouver’s Flørist, pushing off the 3rd release from London’s Baroque Sunburst
Carrying on a well-paced and judged release schedule, Flørist follows his TTT 12” and shots for All Caps and Pacific Rhythm with an absorbing sidespin on mutant techno-hall styles. ‘Headrush’ gets the blood pumping with a sharply clipped adjunct to the 160bpm pads ’n bass style of Ilian Tape, all palpitating bass hits and strobing stabs emulating the effect of floating in the middle of a rave (add your own lights and smoke).
The B-side however is reserved for more experimental workouts, teasing out choral motifs and sizzling hi-hat play on an ambient footwork/jungle flex in ‘Untitled 1’, and locking into a DJ Python-esque, minimalist ambient dembow groove in ‘Untitled 2.’
Debut album of perfectly buoyant psych-pop/odd-fi dance with a real bedroom-built charm from Otto, chasing up a string of wonky pearl singles with his first LP for London’s PLZ Make It Ruins (Vegyn, Arthur).
Bubbling with an inventive, all-at-once optimism, rude club quality, and woozy melancholy that recalls Panda Bear or Bullion as much as AFX, Squarepusher and Yves Tumor, the sound of Otto is a delirious proposition that’s bound to catch due attention. He’s surely an enviably creative type with a swelling archive, with only two of his four singles and EPs’ tracks appearing among these 14 new ones, which all spill over with colourful ideas, bow-tied with chirpy IDMelody and kissed off with memorable vocals and hooks that linger.
‘Clam Day’ is a wee beacon of proper, outre poptimism in dark times, is what it is. From a low bitrate-smudged pop vignette worthy of Ariel Pink in ‘Jumping Jane’, to the eyedose acid-house-pop wink of ‘Crystal Hole’, thru deliquescent dill ’n bass pop a la late ‘90s AFX or Squarepusher in ‘Sprained My Ankle’ and ‘Rain Jacket and Shorts’, he proves uncannily adept at doing heartache indie-pop on ‘Guess My Crush’ and ‘Chlorine’, alongside the PC Music-gone-pastoral styles of ‘Spirit Theme’, while still making room for the exceptional intravenal ambient techno dynamics of ‘Microplastics in My Bloodstream’. Honestly we’re beaming, totally under his spell and in need of a number for Otto's acid dealer.
This latest from Livity Sound's Surgeons Girl is a genre-fluxing collision of analog synth transcendence and Bristolian bass weight - think Caterina Barbieri or Suzanne Ciani jamming with Peverelist and you'll get the idea.
Surgeons Girl cites Ciani, Laurel Halo and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith as influences and has a studio full of analog hardware at her disposal, so we're off to a good start here. But it's how she manages to combine her influences that most impresses about "A Violet Sleep". Rather than simply chug along the established kosmische route, Surgeon's girl infuses analog explorations with a rolling west country percussive shuffle that brings it out into fresh territory.
Opener 'Clouded Temper | Small Steps' ushers us into her world slowly, with chopped vocals spiraling around deep, brassy analog stabs, then we really get going on 'Intimate Advance' that's as euphoric as it is propulsive. There's a progressive, harmonic push that reminds of Nathan Fake and the Border Community stable almost, engineered for prime tears on the floor modes - whenever that floor might exist again.
Dar Disku release their fourth installment of middle eastern records flipped for the dancefloor. Composed of two club-ready edits of popular music from the MENA region.
"Side ‘A’ features Dar Disku’s very own edit of a middle eastern classic ‘Abdel Kader’. Made famous by Rai superstars Khaled, Faudel and the late Rachid Taha, Dar Disku have flipped an alternate cover release by the North African superstar Cheb Mimoun. Taking inspirations from South African bubblegum and Egyptian G Funk, the duo’s edit layers the industry standard Yamaha DX 7 bassline along with a middle east exclusive release ‘quarter tone scale’ Roland. The track explores themes of nostalgia with the ever familiar ‘abdel kader’ but offers a fresh interpretation of what will undoubtedly re-connect listeners with their roots.
Side ‘B’ features a collaboration of two long-standing Dar Disku favourites, Dublin via Saudi Moving Still and Tjade from the Netherlands. Equally responsible for some of the biggest hits across the dance music scene in the last two months (Rush Hour chart topping ‘Koi Jaye and Sidi Mansour) the pair have collaborated to create the italo-esque edit of egyptian pop star Azza Kamal’s ‘Maadna Bkra’. The tape was originally found by Moving Still on a recent visit to his hometown and was later sampled to create the track. Azza’s iconic vocals echo throughout the track with the classic call and response found in the music from his era. Tjade’s signature drums paired with Jamal’s trademark arpeggiator bass create a dancefloor future classic. On a recent visit to the Gulf, Moving Still went on a treasure hunt through the markets of his home town. “ I hadn’t got a chance to listen to all of them but with the COVID-19 lockdow, I began to sift through my finds. The minute I heard Maadna Bukra I texted the label saying “you have no idea what I just found..”. As I got started I already visualised Tjade collaborating on it. Weirdly enough he got in touch and asked if I would be interested in working on an edit together. It’s so lovely to be able to work with someone you admire musically and lockdown shows us that you don’t have to worry about being in the same city. I always believed the two of us would end up working on a song together, and to put it out on a label I believe in and to be able to give back to the community is a wonderful privilege. “
In light of current worldwide events - the importance of togetherness, equality and diversity are more important than ever. Music is one of the tools that enable this and Dar Disku (together in agreement with Moving Still and Tjade) will be donating 50% of profits from the release directly to middle-eastern based charities."
Romantically appealing, faded and lo-fi grubby Dutch wave album about a Dutch/Moroccan couple in the ‘60s. Quite kooky and cute in a way reminding us of Pram, Pierre Bastien, early V/Vm
“'Together we went to visit Annie's in Leiden once. I brought a recorder and a keyboard. Annie told stories and we sang songs. Later when we had to sit inside and I recorded a lot of music at home in The Hague, friend Kim told me to make an album of it. I thought back to Annie who had been inside for years and listened back to the recording of our visit.
Annie met her husband at De Camera cinema in Leiden, about fifty years ago. Where they both worked. One day, Annie had to grab something from the projector. It is dark there, so she didn't see much. Suddenly she felt a hand on hers. Strangely enough, she wasn't shocked. She just felt something special inside and that feeling has never gone away, to this day. It was the hand of her future husband. He told her at that precise moment that he loved her and did so from the first time he saw her. Which in itself was quite remarkable. Since Annie thought he was a nice guy, but otherwise she didn't really know him well either. Moreover, she was a few years older than him (his name was Seban), he was Moroccan and Muslim and it was somewhere in the 60s. Not bad things in itself, but unfortunately in the 60s they thought otherwise. They got married after all and moved in together, in a brand new flat in the Merenwijk in Leiden. A flat and a neighborhood that have since lost their glory. Annie and Seban often went on holiday together with the caravan. They went to Morocco together, where Annie met his parents and family. Annie has converted to Islam. But in her own way. She does not wear a headscarf, for example, but also does not eat pork. Annie and Seban have unfortunately only been together for ten years. The short duration was absolutely not due to their love for each other. It is still there, even though Seban has been dead for some time. In the living room there is a black and white photo of him sitting on the football field downstairs by the flat, next to their German Shepherd Camar. They both look beautiful. Annie looks at it every day, for the happiest time of her life. "If I could, I would take them right back."
Mahraganat screwballs and rugged rap from Egypt’s Rozzma, riding noisy and psychy productions on his debut for XL
Chasing up the style of his 2017 debut with Belgium’s Crammed Discs, Rozzma spits quick fire on the needlepoint stepper ‘Hout’, whereas his voice appears processed with autotune over the panoramic synth flares and rolling percussive melodrama of ‘Ghierek’, and set to nervy, squeaky groove in ‘Sayeb’, leaving the instrumental ‘Hela’ to show off his fizzing microtonal synth vamps and grimy mahraganat production chops.
There are few instruments more uniquely suited to capturing the beauty and ennui of the rural American midwest than the acoustic steel-string guitar. In the hands of a master, the range of evocable emotion and experience is truly limitless. Daniel Hecht is one such master. His 1973 self-released debut album, simply titled Guitar, is an indispensable piece of the endless puzzle that is instrumental Guitar Soli music.
"Guitar was written and recorded while Hecht was living and working on a commune in Madison, Wisconsin. In between harvesting his own food and studying the music of Andrés Segovia and Mississippi John Hurt, Hecht found himself playing host to legendary itinerant street performer, Moondog.
On Moondog’s insistent urging, Daniel decided to record some of his recent guitar compositions. Released on his own Dragon’s Egg imprint, Guitar fused Hecht’s complex classical preoccupations with his country folk influences. The album eventually found a fan with guitar godhead, John Fahey, who eventually helped land Hecht on the eminent new age/ instrumental label, Windham Hill.
As Hecht’s playing and composition grew in complexity, he found peership with labelmates like Michael Hedges, William Ackerman, and Alex DeGrassi. But it is his debut album that remains the greatest document of Hecht’s talent and ambition in first bloom. A rolling, blissful trip through rural America, guided by the ambitious hand of a guitar master. Morning Trip is elated to release this gorgeous and seminal document of acoustic exploration on vinyl for the first time since its initial 1973 offering."
London’s Kouslin dances around the 100bpm mark in a class batch for Peverelist’s Livity Sound.
Anchored in dancehall and reggaeton’s Afro-Latin tresillo drum patterns, the four tracks of the ‘2020 Vision’ EP are roughed up with warped UK vibes in each part, turning from the acidic drunken master stagger of ‘Sharper’, to the floating bass pressure, stinging drum and lysergic ’tronics of ‘2020 Vision’, and over into a class, cranky nod to Labour firebrand Dennis Skinner in ‘The Beast Of Bolsover’, while ‘Ice’ wraps up with a scuffed sort of ambient dembow hustle.
Simo Cell diversifies his bonds alongside Egyptian singer and trumpeter Abdullah Miniawy in a Fourth World Bass style for Brothers From Different Mothers
Miniawy has previously lent his styles to collabs with Carl Gari for TTT and Whities (now AD93) in recent years, and now finds an ideal foil in Paris-based Simo Cell, who underlines the passionate vocals and touches of Hasselian brass with a range of speaker-smacking rhythms and textured noise.
The bookending works are perhaps most intriguing, working a sort of up-to-date spin on fourth world vibes in the lush opener, and its bitterer closer ‘Weed In The Freezer’, whereas the main body sees the two wrapped in supple club music for home play, at best in the Low Jack-esque warped dancehall of ‘Pending In The Pattern’, and what sounds like early Arabic electronics meets scorched trap drums with ‘Locked In Syndrome.’
Key Príncipe unit Puto Márcio, Lycox, B.Boy and Danifox - aka Tia Maria Produções - return to the Lisbon powerhouse with six driving batida songs and club trax built to shake off worries in the dance
Six years since their formative 2014 debut, on ‘Lei Da Tia Maria’ the group rally around a need for vocals and rude grooves that keep heads up above the madness of the world in 2020 and beyond. Like their first record, all tracks were written and sent over messaging apps from respective bases in Portugal, France and UK, and each testifies to the enduringly positive links between the young Angolan-Portuguese diaspora who have emigrated from Portugal during the 2010’s.
The crew’s 2nd volley channels their concerns and hopes into resolutely upfront dance music primed for better times. On EP standout ‘Xupetsilon’ Danifox shrugs off snide DJ politics, crooning what translates to "you're coming to bite me but you're not a dog" over deep blue chords and pendulous batida drums, while conjuring bleaker, rainy scapes that suit the mood of his lyrics about jealousy and and contempt in ‘Aguenta’, but lets the music do the talking with remarkable results nodding to Drill and bittersweet computer music tones alongside co-producer DJ Lycox on another big one, ‘Mete o Bass.’
Lycox also supplies a romantic kiss to his home city, Lisbon, or “Lisa” as it’s affectionately known, in the lissom shuffle of ‘11h na Lisa’, which shares a svelte lilt with Puto Márcio’s slower, melodic chops in ‘Coisas da Vida’, and DJ B.Boy keeps the vibe tilting up with ‘Kuribotas’, a scudding Kuduro zinger with direct, incendiary effect comparable to P. Adrix bits.
Always killer, right?
The first Documenting Sound release to appear on vinyl (we’re just doing a handful of them on wax) is this obsession-forming fever-dream recorded in Kallista, Dandenong Ranges / Autumn 2020 by Jonnine Standish of HTRK, newly mastered and featuring completely genius new meta-artwork/painting by Gian Manik. Anyway, you either altready know how good this one is, or else yr about to find out…
The other week we dreamt that we asked Jonnine aka Jonnine Standish of f#cking HTRK to make some music for a tape series. She ended up sending us what was essentially a 9 track album of new songs featuring Jonnine on bass guitar, a Mopho synth, a wave drum and an electric wind instrument, plus her vocals, clicks and garden chimes, and contributions from Conrad Standish (of CS + Kreme) and mixing by Tarquin Manek. Oh wait…
We approach all of Jonnine’s music with caution cos - hooks - she warned us about them. When her last record 'Super Natural’ was released last year the ohrwurm wasn’t for leaving us in peace, for real it was almost too much - and this time, if you can believe it - it’s worse.
You get 9 songs - 9 - songs - there are chorus pedals and strings and endless atmospheres. The opener is a dream, blurred vision - heartache. The title track - pan flutes - this is basically The Cure’s ‘Dressing Up’ remade. Except Jonnine has never heard ’The Top’. It’s all v weird and auspicious, a complete heartmelt. Also, somehow, real?
C.C. Hennix realizes Stockhausen’s ‘Unbegrenzt’ in a jaw-dropping addition to her revelatory series of unheard archival works issued by the honourable Blank Forms Editions and Empty Editions
Following resounding acclaim for releases of ‘Selected Early Keyboard Works’ and ‘Selections from 100 Models of Hegikan Roku’ in recent years, Hennix’s percussive, electronic take on ‘Unbegrenz’, recorded in 1974, calls for the Swedish polymath to intuitively, poetically interpret a series of 15 text pieces written by Stockhausen in Paris during May 1968. The results reveal her uniquely jazz-honed instincts and feel for affective tunings channelled into an extraordinary 50 minutes of roiling, deep inner space music abstraction calls to mind everything from Marginal Consort to Michael Ranta, Pauline Oliveros and Roland Kayn, but laced through with a elusive, darkly immanent spirit that keeps us utterly transfixed to everything C.C. Hennix deems worthy of release.
Hennix’s take on the canonical Stockhausen work, issued in 1969 on Shandar, applies her instrumental and compositional rigour to the original, gutting its frillier bits and rendering a more minimal version tense with intrigue and controlled, biting-point feedback. Stockhausen’s original score instructed to “play a sound with the certainty that you have an infinite amount of time and space,” and Hennix takes that cue remarkably to heart, providing an alternate score that collapses her deeply engrained jazz skills, forged in Stockholm’s renowned ‘60s scene, into darkest vapours of computer noise, anti-anticipatory percussion and keening, perpendicular drones strewn with recitations of text fragments from the millennia-old Hevajra Tantra.
We can’t explain it but there’s something so visceral about Hennix’s work here, and elsewhere, done in a way so many early electronic recordings somehow dont quite measure up to, making it vital nearly half a century later.
Tirzah pursues the slowest-burning soul feels on Devotion, the London-based singer-songwriter’s humbly singular début album, produced by Mica Levi and providing us with total life affirming summer listening - most probably the record we've listened to most this year so far, and one that lingers on and on...
Since her first solo 12”s and thru frequent collaborations with Mica Levi - including the Taz And May Vids  for DDS - Tirzah has quietly blossomed into one of the UK’s most precious and peculiar artists working at the fringes of experimental pop, post-grime and R&B, and Devotion is set to bring her love to a wider audience.
Plaintive and low key, Devotion presents Tirzah’s vocal in the most evocative light, framed by backdrops of bleary-eyed and bent vibes and the kind of half-finished, permanently work-in-progress production style that's become a calling card of her music and her tight knit crew including Coby Sey, Mica Levi and Brother May.
Album of the year? Aye, quite possibly.
New Techno offshoot label from Still Music, Chicago.
"In a need for contemporary conversations with deeply admired artists , it has become a necessity to add a new imprint to the family of legendary labels founded by Jerome Derradji. Still Techno is tailored to expose the artistry of known or unknown Techno producers throughout the world. Our first release is from absolute Detroit techno legend and long time friend, Mark Flash.
Mark Flash is an essential member of the Underground Resistance collective and a vital member of Galaxy 2 Galaxy, Timeline and Depth Charge with Mike Banks. It is an absolute honor to have Mark launch our new label with his 4 track EP “Alkebulan”. This EP is an incredible set of contemporary Detroit techno. The title track “Alkebulan” is a fantastic world hybrid tech joint. With “Dementia” and “Centraal Station”, Mark is honing back to familiar territories with productions reminiscent of his UR roots. Finally, “Black Male Syndrome” closes the EP in an all Detroit electro tech fashion. Let’s start our new conversation with Mark Flash."
The new Sarah Davachi record is an 80 minute, 17 track double album meditation on impermanence and endings, framed by minimalistic organ études and careful harmonic layering. On two tracks the artist’s own vocals are also heard for the first time. This is the first release on the artist’s own label, Late Music.
Just as we thought Sarah Davachi couldn't tug our heartstrings any harder, she inaugurates her new label Late Music with "Cantus, Descant", a two LP set containing some of the wooziest, most affecting organ music we've heard to date. The entire album is an exploration of the unique, individual character of her instruments as she harnesses the power of various pipe organs in Canada, Europe and the USA as well as the electric organ, Mellotron and a handful of other elements. This gives the tracks an impossibly human feel as subtle tones wind and fall with elegance, and unpredictable grace. It's not even that Davachi is exactly attempting to center her work as anathema to a world fogged by emotionally empty scambient and bone-dry modular drone, but these tracks are so animated that it's hard not to feel awed by what's so often missing.
'The Pelican' is an early highlight, using the Mellotron's unmistakable tape loops to add a layer of Morricone-esque melancholy to the mix. Elsewhere, album centerpiece 'Play The Ghost' drowns echoing vocals in reverb, sounding like distant prog-gaze beamed in from another parallel timeline. "Cantus, Descant" is a special album, whisper soft but pointed and intentional. Sarah Davachi is among the most gifted composers operating right now and this album is a celebration of the old and the new that speaks assuredly to the complex simplicity of tone itself. We're floored.
Wow OK - this spooky soundtrack to recently-rediscovered 1974 short film "Ô Sidarta" is a doozy, all fuzzy analog synth drones, Popol Vuh/Klaus Schulze wobbles and choppy, dubbed-to-death Luc Ferrari vs. Radiophonic Workshop squeak. Gasping.
Just when you think that everything's been dug out of the cult electronic-music-meets-horror-sci-fi treasure sack, Finders Keepers pop out with this absolute jewel. "Ô Sidarta" was released in 1974 and directed by Swiss filmmaker Michel Jakar, documenting the process of comic artist Philippe Druillet, but it's the soundtrack we're obsessed with, a truly haunting set of avant electronics from "synthesist, sound designer and ethnological instrument enthusiast" Alain Pierre.
Pierre popped up a few years ago on the STROOM label with a reissue of his soundtrack to cult Flemish animated movie "Jan Zonder Vrees", and this short soundtrack might be even better. The album is split into two side-long pieces, the first finds Pierre wrangling creepy samples (crashes, screams, rattling chains, bells, robot voices) and unusual vocals, dubbing them out with Radiophonic FX and adding carnivalesque synth sequences. It's like Delia Derbyshire and being let loose on the INA-GRM catalog at King Tubby's and we don't say that lightly.
On the flip, Pierre takes a kosmische trip with rolling psychedelic analog synth bubbles that sound like "Moondawn"-era Klaus Schulze before mutating into microtonal rhythmic funk that sounds more like Suicide. Finders Keepers describes this one as "space raga" and honestly, we can't disagree. So, so killer.
Japan’s masters of rock and noise face off in ravishing, symbiotic form on their 7th collaborative album
Eighteen years since their first meeting on record (‘Megatone’), the hybrid unit clearly have lots more energy to expend on ‘2R0I2P0’, with Merzbow shelling signature, wildly overgrown, high-register noise squall to complement Wata and Takeshi’s shrieking guitars, and lend a sharp tonic contrast with the album’s slower, more melodic moments.
The album’s title translates to ’Twenty Twenty R.I.P.’ and is intended as both an elegy for a shitty year, and a catalyst for change, or as they say: "This work becomes a monument to the requiem of the previous era. From here, a new world begins again." As such they take the full limit of playing time - 78 minutes - to scythe thru strains of pulsating quasar rock and absorbingly harsh electronics, starting out all folksy and soothing with ‘Away from You’ before banking up to sky-clawing guitar leads and clamorous noise, sometimes letting Merzbow set the way ahead, as on the crushing ‘Coma’ and the sensory smother of ‘Jounrey’, and locking into freewheeling metal on ‘Absolutego’, but saving their finest for the two longer pieces of epic terraforming, ‘Evol’, and ’Shadow of Skull.’
Avalon Emerson follows up her DJ Kicks compilation with a three-track 12” for AD 93.
"Lead single ’Rotting Hills’ is a study in contrasts, both tonally and emotionally. Mixing feelings of hopelessness, while also trying to enjoy what we have right now in the present. Winter and Water’ is for Hunter. ‘One Long Day Till I See You Again’ is for mom."
A reintroduction to one of America's finest ever alternative rock bands, 'Quarantine The Past' coincided with Pavement's long-overdue reunion.
Although there are no exclusives on this 23-track collection, as Domino so rightly state: "it definitely goes deeper than the "hits"." For such a beloved band, a single disc Best Of was always going to present a tricky editing job, and sure there are omissions - no 'Zurich Is Stained', no 'Carrot Rope', for instance. In fact, the band's last LP, Terror Twilight is sorely under-represented given that it's the one Pavement album to not yet receive the deluxe reissue treatment, although making up for those absences are rarities culled from 1989's Slay Tracks 7", the Perfect Sound Forever 10", the Watery, Domestic EP and great B-sides like 'Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence'.
Additionally, old favourites like 'Range Life', 'Cut Your Hair', 'Summer Babe', 'Here', 'Stereo' and 'Shady Lane' are all dotted around the tracklist, ensuring that there's a healthy balance between early lo-fi obscurities and the band's best known classics. If you're looking for a gateway into this seminal band - or even if you're just looking for a quick-fix solution to plugging some gaps in your Pavement collection - this predictably magnificent compilation is a must-have.
Príncipe’s dreamiest act supply a special batch of fizzing electronic exotica and ambient vignettes echoing the Black Atlantic waves of Drexciya, Iasos’ blessed new age harmonies, and the windswept wist of Zoviet France - a crafty change in styles following their ‘Apologia’ album, and stacks on their Ascender label...
On their prodigal turn to Lisbon’s finest label following 2018 album ‘Apologia’, the trio of Alberto Arruda, António Arruda, and Sara Eckerson aka Niagara distill their wide-ranging influences in briny electronic textures with a sense of mystery that is entirely their own. Their music on ‘Filho & Pais’ feels more enigmatic than ever, largely leaving regular percussion aside and letting their spontaneous hardware jams froth and lilt with an enchantingly loose, rhythmelodic sensibility and natural ecologic.
Like the Atlantic Ocean they live by, Niagara’s music feels eternally in churning flux, shaped by the elements and lunar cycles, rather than human hands. The relative absence of urgent drums leaves each piece more fluid and expansive, as epitomised on the gorgeous lather of glinting synth voices in EP highlight ’46 x 92m’, and what sounds like them riffing on a Drexciya intro in the retro-futurist enigma of ’Tília’, while the salty spray of ’21:44’ sounds like an early AFX ‘SAW’ number found in a Cornish rockpool. Their rhythmic intuitions lead them to some of the most beautifully elusive patterns resembling sea creatures scuttling around coral under gulf-stream heated waters on the three ‘Ano-‘ parts, helping shares up the release as a wonderfully imaginative package holiday to warmer climes for those who need it.
Deep techno hypnotism from Italy’s D-Leria, working in the slipstream of Shifted and Donato Dozzy style minimalism
From sleepwalker tekkers to squelching modular killers and serpentine zingers, D-Leria does it with finesse in each part of the ’Still Standing’ EP. ‘Tribalism’ is an unmissable charge of frenzied Afro-latin syncopation, and the rinsing modular madness of ‘Noises From The Floor’ hits square between the eyes of Blawan and Surgeon, while ‘Divergeneces’ emulates the hydrodynamics of Shifted or PAS at their fluid best, and ‘A Life On The Run’ breaks thru the 150bpm barrier for anyone chomping at the bit for full throttle rave gear.
Wicked survey of “Chimurenga” music from Zimbabwe, originally realised during the ‘70s as a subtly punkish way of incorporating local Shona language lyrics and traditional Mbira styles into a fusion of Afro-Rock, Cha-Cha-Cha, and Congolese Rumba, and subverting the ruling white minority government of what was known as Rhodesia in the process
“In 1972, the country of Rhodesia – as Zimbabwe was then known – was in the middle of a long-simmering struggle for independence from British colonial rule. In the hotels and nightclubs of the capital, bands could make a living playing a mix of Afro-Rock, Cha-Cha-Cha and Congolese Rumba. But as the desire for independence grew stronger, a number of Zimbabwean musicians began to look to their own culture for inspiration. They began to emulate the staccato sound and looping melodies of the mbira (thumb piano) on their electric guitars, and to replicate the insistent shaker rhythms on the hi-hat; they also started to sing in the Shona language and to add overtly political messages to their lyrics (safe in the knowledge that the predominantly white minority government wouldn’t understand them). From this collision of electric instruments and indigenous traditions, a new style of Zimbabwean popular music – later known as Chimurenga, from the Shona word for ‘struggle’ – was born. And there were few bands more essential to the development of this music than the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band.
The band came into being when a young trumpet player named Daram Karanga offered to assemble a group to entertain the workers at a copper mine in the town of Mhangura. The original line-up – which included legendary singer Thomas Mapfumo, who would bring the sounds of Chimurenga to the world in the early 1980s with his band the Blacks Unlimited, and Joshua Hlomayi, one of the pioneers of mbira- style guitar – started out playing the Rumba and Afro-Rock styles popular in the capital. Although this was a hit with the white owners of the mine, the workers greeted it with indifference. But when they started adding electric arrangements of traditional Shona music to their repertoire, the audience went wild.”
Lontano Da Dove? by DsorDNE is a four-track LP written and recorded between 1996 and 1999 - at Acqualuce studio in Alpignano, Torino - by the mind of Marco Milanesio and Luciano Gelormino. Additional guitars were provided by Danilo Beltrame on piano zeroquattro (extended) and vocals by Snowdonia founder Cinzia La Fauci.
"It was conceived to be released at the time but only a few promo copies were distributed. After about 20 years, the original recordings, which were considered lost, were found by Marco, who remastered them in his O.F.F studio and brought it back to life.
The all album is an organic work, who mash spoken ethereal voices and dubby basslines with tr-909 beats, borrowing elements from trip hop, techno and industrial."
No animals were harmed in making this release, although it does sound like it at times, as the Zeitkratzer leader and his french spar coax bestial sounds from piano and modular synths. A strong look for fans of Xenakis, Iancu Dumitrescu, EHŒCO, KTL
Reinhold Friedl, the “inside piano” specialist, and synth inquisitor Eryck Abecassis, were brought together by GRM director François Bonnet for performance at the Akousma Festival in Paris, 2019, where these recordings stem from. Friedl and Abecassis had been in touch for over a decade, and have charted wildly differing terrain over the interim. But a mutually visceral approach to their respective instruments was always begging to be explored in a duo, and the results on ‘Animal électrique’ surely pay up on the promise of their combined energies in gripping, head-wobbling style.
After “intense” rehearsal periods in Vienna and at la muse en circuit in Paris set rough coordinates for the duo, they arrive at a fascinating interzone of sonorities across the album’s 40 minute expanse. Thru secretive processes of transmutation they genuinely baffle the listener’s ear with otherworldly mimicry and imagination, with Friedl’s piano sounding more electronic than ever (although we’re assured it definitely is a piano), and irretrievably entangled with the strangely vocal tones and buzzes generated by Abecassis. In the most primitive sense, their music is all about tension and release, with passages of icy suspense calving away to bilious noise, and sections of calamitous, mechanistic dynamic recalling Xenakis superstructures as much as Manu Holterbach & Etienne Coussirat’s ‘L'Expérience Acousmagique’, with some deadly highlights in the arcane death roil of its first and fifth parts, contrasting the eerily quiet, conversational fourth part.
Haswell marks 50 years of raising havoc on this planet with a mean return to his spiritual home at Editions Mego
Cutting loose in the no man’s land of extreme musicks, ‘Digital’ is a typically hackled beast that makes mincemeat of genres, masticating traces of metal, hardcore techno, power electronics, electro-acoustic and good old fashioned n0!ze in a singular, untouchable style. Now entering his 6th decade of boundary-pushing badness Haswell has lost none of the thistly attitude and iconoclastic recklessness that has marked out his work since the late ‘90s, and notably seen him hand-picked as Autechre’s regular tour support, amid one of the most colourful and frankly unprecedented “careers” of any modern artist.
He’s really not one for indulging niceties, and the empty belly churn of his ‘Ambient Takedown’ is an ideal opening statement for ‘Digital’, which follows thru with 10mins of flegging techno shrapnel recalling Singeli made in a Rotterdam cement pit on ‘r-809’, while ‘Mould’ returns to the starker themes of the opener with another rare example of Haswellian “ambient”, and the fractured jazz break surgery of ‘The Bottom Line Of Safety’ stands up next to Mika Vainio at his most hands-on. The straightjacketed rhythmic n0!ze of ’Spezi’ is there for the loons, and ‘End Of Eternity’ gushes with the sort of signature, psychotomimetic energy found on his seminal ‘Satanstornade’ with Merzbow, or ‘Blackest Ever Black (Electroacoustic UPIC Recordings).’
Jamie xx practises safe raving with his debut solo album proper, following a 2011 collaboration with Gil Scott-Heron and production as part of The xx.
'In Colour' posits Jamie as the pre-eminent posh soul boy, lifting and massaging inspiration from the rich heritage of late '80s + early '90s London dance culture and channelling it into a pop-ready format palatable to Radio 1 daytime tastes and festival soundtracks. The putative "soul" of rare groove, boogie, hardcore and early jungle is sucked out and spliced with vocals in feathered arrangements ripened up for students and yummy mummys alike - all under one roof.
From the deflated hardcore of 'Gosh' to the trudging 'Girl', it's as seductive as a Waitrose fridge on a warm day, infused with exotic tropical reference points in the steel drums of 'Obvs', mixing the suburban Breaks of latter-day Chicane and Marine Parade with woolly chords right out of a Lamb classic in 'Hold Tight', or nodding to seminal Joss Stone in 'Loud Places'.
Oh, it's going to be a great summer, we can just feel it.
For our money, an everlasting classic - one that finally made it to wax at more or less exactly the moment clubs were shuttered earlier this year. A great tease - for sure - but also somehow the most uplifting record we heard in 2020, cut in the mould of classic Chicago gear but with a distinctly aggy vibe, aided by Tom Boogizm’s fluid, no-f*cks-given mixing style, all swing and smudge - an opiated cross between Urban Tribe, The Other People Place, Prince’s Purple Music, Dilla, Actress/Thriller edits and John T. Gast’s essential Invocations II session. Pure late night sleaze from end to end, absolutely essential if any of these references push yr buttons.
So Tom Boogizm’s prized introduction to mysterious G, Michael J Blood - whoever he may be - was originally broadcast on NTS, subsequently issued on a tape that sold out in an hour, and now newly edited, mastered and cut on a whitelabel 2LP edition with track markers for DJ navigation and primed for smoky lockdown jacking.
It’s as much a showcase for Michael J. Blood’s rudely soulful production and his circle as the deadly DJ tekkers of Tom Boogizm and Finn’s edit chops. Since the original 2017 broadcast the mix has been coveted for its bounty of unreleased cuts - a mixture of rude ghettotech and smoky soul-sampling jams - and the way it was stitched together, on-the-fly by Boogizm - whose recent Shotta Tapes editions have sold out in minutes.
Now prepped by Demdike Stare’s Miles Whittaker and cut to vinyl at D&M, the project enters a rare sub-sub-genre of mixtapes on vinyl, packing 20 mins per side, with track marks highlighting Blood’s most in demand numbers, and all juggled in a classic Chicago and Detroit-via-Manchester style ideal for slomping or lockdown house-functions.
Trimmed to 80 mins, this new edition toggles the vibe back ’n forth between red-eyed studio abstraction, slompy Dilla-esque beats, synth-funk vamps and mutant ghetto-tech/Jit/juke with a charming, Jazz loucheness, keeping the gauge ticking up with a ruder pressure recalling Finn’s own productions, and crucially includes some proper nifty, hands-on the 2000s chops by the Boogizm that sound like RP Boo, Slackk or DJ Rashad’s footwork flips of classic funk or even Actress’ classic Thriller edits, crisply framed and hewn for DJ use.
Back in April this one sold out within a few hours, but here it is again in a new edition - a missing link between so many things we love. Next year - if the gods allow it - maybe we’ll get to dance to this one outside these 4 walls.
Left Ear cock to 1983 and the new wave pop of Melbourne’s Tester Housing with a reissue/compilation of their impossible-to-find 7”s, landing somewhere between Dome side projects and early Ultravox
Tester Housing, aka Bill Tolson and Ken Olver, were forged in the belly of the city’s scene centred around St. Kilda, which would play incubator to the likes of The Bad Seeds and many more scuzzy punks and beatniks with a taste for the grog and whatever else they could huff down. Or as they put it; “just say something interesting such as drugs and ego got in the way and after we both had a knife fight on St Kilda pier one night and we both decided to go into rehab for the next twenty years. Or alternatively, we just knew that if we continued to play music together we would become too rich and boring.”
Prior to Tester Housing, Bill set up Prahan’s Greville Records in 1978 and founded the prolific Rampant Records in 1982, home to likes of Not Drowning, Waving and David Chesworth, before playing with Ken in new wave group Gilded Youth, and eventually the short stint that produced the two singles compiled here. ‘The Clock Ticks Over’ is a sweetly puckered piece of synth-pop surely channelling Graham Lewis over plinky synths that get smudged up a treat in the Dub Version, while the B-side follows suit with piquant melody and poised vocal recalling early Ultravox and John Foxx, but the one for us is ‘Oh’, stripping everything back to starkly measured vocal and Factory-esque jangle certain to lay ohrwurms in your left ear, and maybe the right, too?
Japanese sound artist Sugai Ken follows acclaimed full-lengths for RVNG and Discrepant with this quirky, understated musing on Dutch-Japanese water management projects at the turn of the 19th century. Seriously.
In some ways, music is a very obvious way to explore our history. Whether it's through the use of instruments dreamed up long before we were born or the investigation of musical practices that were perfected hundreds of years ago, history and sound is lashed together in almost imperceptible ways. On "Tone River", Ken makes a more obvious link with a project commissioned by the Dutch Embassy in Tokyo. The short, low-key work is a musical response to the Dutch influence on Japan's water management. In the early 19th century, as the country shifted from feudalism into modern democracy, Japan's government called on Dutch traders in the bay of Nagasaki to assist them on large-scale projects, one of which was the Tone River, a huge body of water that stretches 322 kilometers across Japan's biggest island, Honshu.
Ken responded to the brief by visiting three points on the river and capturing a selection of field recordings using an array of microphones, including hydrophones for detailed underwater sounds. The result is whisper-soft patchwork of calming sloshing and dripping, interspersed with Ken's charming, spacious synthwork. Fans of Hiroshi Yoshimura or Visible Cloaks should find plenty here; the combination of liquid sounds with delicate marimba and blurry drones is truly absorbing. Ken's experiments are historical in nature, but they never hammer you over the head with concept, they simply breathe.
Composer, musician and producer Angèle David-Guillou’s third album, ‘A Question of Angles’, is her most ambitious project to date, its multi-ensemble compositions forming a dynamic cinematic counterpoint to her contemplative lockdown EP ‘Sans Mouvement’, recorded on the organ at the Union Chapel.
"‘A Question of Angles’ is an album of vivid instrumental music. Centred around two main ensembles, a saxophone octet and a string septet, which strut and glide in rhythmic dances, its textures are inspired by the interplay between illusion and reality, particularly the magic realism of Jean Cocteau’s films. “I was interested in translating this idea into music, that I could make something big and bold, but where you might also be unsure of what you’re hearing,” the composer explains. This concept was extended to the album cover, which includes a multi-portrait image that at first glance appears to be a faked composite but was in fact carefully shot for real. On title track ‘A Question of Angles’ a Theremin sings with an uncannily human-like keening voice in conversation with the bombast of rumbling bass trombone and staccato strings. The bold opener, ‘Valley of Detachment’ enters with effervescent saxophones in pulsating phrases, followed by ‘Akrotiri’, where a solo cello moves like a courtly dancer, time signatures switching in interlocking patterns. ‘Forgetting Trees’ also plays with rhythm but speaks in sentences that ebb and flow, with repeating phrases on bassoon and flute, before ‘Quid Pro Quo’, with its layer choir and bass trombones, soars to a rousing finale.
Saxophones and bass trombones are paramount to the album’s sound - David Guillou’s use of these instrument draws parallels with Michael Nyman’s most exuberant compositions as well as Moondog’s dynamic neo-baroque rhythmic patterns, while the handling of unconventional time signatures echoes soundtrack composer Giovanni Fusco’s unsettling atmospheres for Alain Resnais. ‘A Question of Angles’ is David-Guillou’s third album for Village Green, with whom she’s also released two much admired EPs of her unique instrumental music. Hers is a music that rejects the density of ambient mood music, with strikingly animated compositions that recall in sound the bright movement of Matisse’s La Danse, offering an audacious addition to the landscape of contemporary composition."
Reflective shoegaze ambient bliss bath from Lebanon’s Fadi Tabbal, following work with likes of Praed and Rizan Sa’id with a wintry elegy for 2020
Fadi subtly deals with widescreen themes on ‘Subject To Potential Errors And Distortions’ in a way that has informed the best of his work in ‘Museum of Disappearing Buildings’ and ‘Music For The Lonely Vol.1’ in recent years, and sees him more often engineering and mixing for the best of the Middle Eastern experimental scene. That engineers finesse elevates this album beautifully, rendering his timeless ideas in acres of pillowy space and with richly expressive tone comparable to Alessandro Cortini as much as Stars of The Lid. We advise checking for the developments of gorgeous choral swell in ‘The New and Improved Guide to Birdwatching’ Vols, and the 10 minutes of smoky, romantic woodwind call and response in ‘The Sidewalk at Night’ and you’ll know what to do next.
Special edition pressings to commemorate classic A Certain Ratio albums.
"‘I’d Like To See You Again’: Album four and ACR pushed their sounds into new directions again. This is a more jazz-infused album that continues to receive critical acclaim today after the initial confused reaction, just like all the real classic albums that were misunderstood originally."
Sextet is the second studio album by Manchester postpunk funk group A Certain Ratio, originally released by Factory Records in January 1982.
Self-produced at Revolution Studio, Sextet saw the original Ratio quintet of Donald Johnson, Jeremy Kerr, Martin Moscrop, Simon Topping and Peter Terrell joined by co-vocalist Martha 'Tili' Tilson. Written and recorded following a transformative sojourn in New York at the end of 1980, the album reflects Latin, samba and even jazz influences (eg Skipscada; Day One), while still retaining Ratio's signature brittle funk textures, heard in full effect on Lucinda, Gum and trancelike floor filler Knife Slits Water.
Charlemagne Palestine conjures up his dense definition of maximized minimalism, opening with a minimalist drone with singing on top; from there on, anything goes.
"The piece develops while complex layerings of chords and musical sentiments shift in and out of focus, yet all take center stage all the time. Ending the piece, Palestine excitedly shouts out that the organ is still the best synthesizer ever made. In typical Palestine fashion, his performance made the whole church resonate, an effect that can be repeated easily when listening at home, because this record demands volume and lots of it. Brooklyn-born Charlemagne Palestine has long been hailed as one of the originators of modern minimalist and experimental music.
He very firmly describes his music as maximalist. His immense body of work features many solo albums, collaborations, performance-driven video works and much more. In his work in performance, music, video and related media since the late 1960s, he uses certain emblematic objects such as teddy bears, cognac and scarves. They serve as signatures, he calls them symbols of identification."
Modestly rustic, crackling and low-key modern classical from Oliver Alary (Ensemble) and his longtime spar Johannes Malfatti (Transformer Di Roboter)
While ‘u, i’ is Alary and Malfatti’s first joint release under their own names, it’s far from their first work together, following as it does decades of work as Ensemble for Rephlex and Fat Cat featuring likes of Cat Power and Lou Barlow, and a rich seam of film soundtrack projects.
Now on FatCat’s refined sibling, 130701, they conjure and in-between-worlds sound that reminds us of the likes of The Humble Bee and The Boats, exploring a grey area where neo classical gestures elide with experimental techniques and, perhaps most craftily, contemporaneously, allows for the infidelities of accidents generated by VOIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, whose compression lends a smudged and very much up to date watermark of modernity to their timeless yet anachronistic aesthetics.
Berlin-based Swiss vocalist Lucia Cadotsch returns with her Speak Low trio for their second album, featuring Otis Sandsjö on tenor saxophone, Petter Eldh on double bass, Kit Downes on hammond organ and Lucy Railton on cello.
"Speak Low II" comes almost five years after the band's lauded debut, and proves the depth of the band's approach right from the start. At the core of the trio's operation is an openness to their love of the music and to their surrounding scene(s). The album comes across as a unified collection of songs made truly theirs and found through listening to records and spending time with their musician friends, often on the road. The highly evolved band sound and the equality of the musicians shines through on the Speak Low sound, as the group uses their 100+ performances together as a vehicle for the development of their music.
"The first album was filled with pretty famous songs, but that was actually not at all intentional" explains Cadotsch. "Those were just my favourite songs of the previous 10 years and we started working on making them ours, musically. We were playing around with concepts for the second album, but soon realised that we just needed to find the right songs and adapt them organically, which comes through in how we interact with the songs and each other. This time around, we wanted to dig deeper and made finished arrangements of around 20 tracks, half of which we ditched in the process. The ones that made the cut have been through a lot and they just felt right for us."
Kamasi Washington turns his hand to soundtracking the Michelle Obama documentary based on her memoir, ‘Becoming’ with natural and uplifting classic jazz grace - properly American, like; it’s currently Grammy and Emmy award-nominated
“Kamasi Washington composed and produced the original score for Becoming, the four time Emmy-nominated film that provided an intimate glimpse into the life of Michelle Obama. Produced by Netflix Originals, Becoming documented a moment of profound change for the former First Lady, not only for her personally but for the country she and her husband served over eight impactful years in the White House. Washington, who joined the project in its embryonic stages, provides the powerful musical backdrop.”
30th anniversary edition of Ultramarine’s debut, a staple of hash-bucket post-club sessions during the ‘90s, Originally dished up on Belgium’s seminal Les Disques Du Crépuscule, and now issued as the maiden voyage by London-based reissue label Foam On A Wave. Armchair-o-nauts should check for evergreen charms in the Antenna-Like balm of ‘Bastard Folk’, the over-easy prog-funk frickles of ‘Vulgar Streak’, and the acid-folk rubs of ‘Interstellar’
“Ian Cooper and Paul Hammond admitted they weren’t totally sure what they were doing when they signed a record deal with the famously bohemian label Les Disques Du Crépuscule and found themselves on their way to Brussels. There, over a two week stint, the Essex duo recorded the album - drawing on a kaleidoscopic pallet influenced by both the Canterbury scene’s jazz-infused psychedelia, as well as the contemporary Benelux scene, with particular nods to the likes of Benjamin Lew, The Durutti Column and Anna Domino. Conceived at a time when technology began reshaping the process of recording and production, the band’s interest in fusing the organic and the electronic is apparent, and one which would remain with them throughout their career.
‘Folk’ both sits apart from and serves as a precursor to the ‘pastoral techno’ sound Ultramarine’s went on to pioneer. Following a US and European tour alongside Orbital and Bjork, a few more albums and collaborations with the likes of Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers, plus remixes for and by Everything But The Girl, Carl Craig, Luke Slater and more, they folded the project for a number of years. Last year the band returned to their inaugural imprint with the ethereal ‘Signals Into Space’. Albeit somewhat sparser, more sedate, it is in some ways a coming full-circle to the jazz-laden, analogue sound of their debut, which makes reissuing ‘Folk’ feel all the more timely.”
Martin Hannett’s classic production for Wythenshawe’s funkiest post punks, ACR, To Each…  bubbles back up for reissue more than 35 years since original release on Factory Records.
Cosign into play as ACR’s 1st album proper after a string of then well-received dance singles, To Each… found the group marrying them rhythmic sensibilities, influenced by American disco and Afro- latinate styles, with a gloomier, atmospheric sound, effectively imagining a more danceable adjunct to Joy Division - a fact no doubt consolidated by Martin Hannett’s signature, super spacious production.
Another record that arrived just on the cusp of strange times™ and sold out before anyone really had a chance to notice, Laila Sakini’s ‘Vivienne’ is an intimate collection of threadbare songs for piano, voice and effects that evoke a tremendous sense of melancholy - like a set of half-remembered earworms drifting into view decades later. It's an album that provided us with a strong sense of presque vu - a feeling of being stood on the verge of some great inner realisation - and is perhaps the most vital and real re-configuration of traditional singer-songwriting we’ve come across since Grouper’s 'Dragging A Dead Deer' re-aligned dreampop/shoegaze signatures into something much more intangible and personal. For those of you who realise that not all quiet music should be tagged “Ambient”, this is perhaps the most important intimate listening 2020 has to offer.
‘Vivienne’ is full of plaintive and uncooked recitals adorned with minimal effects - some delay, the sound of distant clattering filling in as percussion - with results that are substantially more than the sum of their parts. Sakini creates a fully insulated and self sufficient soundworld that operates on its own intimate logic. Bits of it remind us of the last few seconds of Cranes' ’Tomorrow’s Tears’, or what Britton Powell describes as “wallpaper; ornate and repetitive” in his liner notes to Dominique Lawalrée perfectly formed 'First Meeting’ - another apt frame of reference.
On album closer ‘Butterflies' Sakini’s vocal plays a more prominent role, although still distant and layered, somewhere in very vague proximity to Grouper albeit less aware of its audience. There’s an almost baroque, merry-go-round feeling to it, like a once forgotten dream recalled with lucid clarity for a split second, before slipping out of grasp for eternity.