Siavash Amini transposes photos of his home city into a hauntingly visceral form of concrète classical and metaphysical simulacra, describing the nooks and little-known perspectives of his local environment in a dreamlike, sensual, and ‘marishly atonal vernacular.
“Following up on »Harmistice« together with fellow Iranian artists 9T Antiope, the six tracks were conceived in close collaboration with another artist and see the prolific composer intensify his interdisciplinary approach. The six tracks enter a dialogue with the photographs of Nooshin Shafiee, an acclaimed artist whose work capturing their hometown Tehran becomes the starting point for one of Amini’s most visceral and haunting records. »A Mimesis of Nothingness« translates the ephemeral situations and melancholic moods of Shafiee’s pictures into suspenseful soundscapes that masterfully navigate between the concrete and the abstract.
Amini met Shafiee while setting up the sound art space SEDA Projects at the Emkan gallery in Tehran where the photographer’s second solo exhibition was shown. Following the suggestion of curator Behzad Nejadghanbar, the two started a fruitful collaboration that would eventually lead to »A Mimesis of Nothingness,« which was written and recorded between the years 2018 and 2019 and which includes a booklet with a selection of Shafiee’s work. The two share an interest in exploring the sensual experience and the metaphysical dimensions of space. »I was fascinated by Nooshin’s approach,« explains Amini who, ever since releasing the album »TAR« through Hallow Ground in 2017, has focused on how our experience of places is shaped by the individual and collective subconscious. »It wasn’t the Tehran that everyone projected into their work, it was Tehran showing itself through tiny and giant overlooked places or objects.«
Amini’s music accordingly does not seek out a specific sonic picture of the city, but rather lets it come alive on its own terms. »A Mimesis of Nothingness« is a disquieting record precisely because it is a quiet one. Working with field recordings, Amini sculpts dynamic portraits that create an atmosphere of tangible suspense that is never fully released. Even when string-like sounds enter the picture as they do on the third track »Moonless Garden« or when the abstract and glacial noise on »Observance (Shadow)« demand the listener’s attention, the six pieces take hold of the subconscious rather than trying to be direct and confrontational. It is sound conceived not as a description, but a circumscription of spatial relations and the eeriness embedded in them.”
Vaporwave pioneer and new age scryer Spencer Clark (The Skaters) and poetic enigma Francesco Cavaliere merge minds as Etrusca 3D with a heady synth throwback summoning 600BC deities into the C.21st
Taking the longest view on matters of provenance, civilisation, and spirituality in the modern age with the blend of sincerity and tongue-in-cheek dramaturgy that has informed their best solo work, on ‘Etrusca 3D’ the duo naturally elide Clark’s signature synth ethers with Cavaliere’s sampled vox to induce proper hypnagogic, Toga-wearing states of mind.
The Etruscans were essentially proto-Romans, and the gods they worshipped would become adapted into Roman civilisation’s own polytheistic belief system (much like many major world religions that followed in their wake over the eons). In ‘Etrsuca 3D’, Francesco Cavaliere follows the mesmerising examples set on his ‘Gancio Cielo’ volumes of 2016, and this year’s ‘Alata Onda’ tape, to provide vocals uttering the names of Etruscan gods, while Clark process them via the “Emax 2 3D machine” in attempt to dial those gods into the future for spiritual guidance and such.
On another level, they’re poetically highlighting how the past continues to inform the future, moving beyond Clark’s formative feedback loop of ‘80s / ‘90s ephemera into the ’00s/’10s and the deeply uncertain ’20s by widening that loop to encompass millennia of esoteric thought, and perhaps show up how humans have always been pretty fucking nuts, whether looking for signs in the sky, the ground, and nowadays on limited edition records; meaning that shamans like these guys are needed now as much as ever.
Less Bells fleshes out a sort of southern Gothic folk ambience that’s less macabre, more melancholic, than the title suggests; using plaintive choral vox woven with synths and banjo to create a longing, rarified air of Americana recalling Stars of The Lid and Julianna Barwick
“The second offering by Julie Carpenter’s textural orchestral entity Less Bells takes its title from a storied strain of decorative objects worn in remembrance of lost loved ones: Mourning Jewelry.
The album shares a similar mood of devotional pageantry, stirring ornamental laments born from a need to “create beauty out of grief.” Utilising an amalgam of strings, synthesisers, and choirs, the pieces ascend and descend in grand, glimmering arcs, ebbing from passages of “baroque complexity” to expanses of haunting emptiness. Certain songs also skew more overtly western than ever before, deeply reverbed plucks of banjo refracted against glowing horizons of sunrise drone: Americana gone ambient.
Furthering the music’s mystic intentionality, the track titles comprise “the major arcana of a tarot deck from an alternate universe,” lorded over by the “Queen Of Crickets,” ruler of “The Gates,” “The Fault,” and “The Fang.” Even so, the record requires no psychic divination to glean its fragile majesty, its muted tumult of mirage and melody. The beauty it possesses is too blatant, and bountiful.”
Transference is the seventh studio album by Spoon.
"Transference is released as part of the Slay On Cue series, which will see the reissue of the band’s first eight records in original editions - Telephono (1996), Soft Effects EP (1996), A Series Of Sneaks (1998), Girls Can Tell (2001), Kill The Moonlight (2002), Gimme Fiction (2005), Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007) and Transference (2010)."
“Some of these albums haven’t been available on vinyl or CD in years, and in some places they never actually came out,” says frontman Britt Daniel.
Gimme Fiction, the fifth studio album from Spoon, originally released in 2005 and featuring the single ‘I Turn My Camera On’.
"Gimme Fiction is released as part of the Slay On Cue series, which will see the reissue of the band’s first eight records in original editions - Telephono (1996), Soft Effects EP (1996), A Series Of Sneaks (1998), Girls Can Tell (2001), Kill The Moonlight (2002), Gimme Fiction (2005), Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007) and Transference (2010)."
“Some of these albums haven’t been available on vinyl or CD in years, and in some places they never actually came out,” says frontman Britt Daniel.
Lucrecia Dalt is back on RVNG with a complex and syrupy full-length of undulating rhythms and half-heard melodies, cracking with ASMR vocal elements and shrouded, mystical instrumentation.
At this stage, Dalt has successfully built herself a unique sound-world; 2018's "Anticlines" was inspired by her own work as a geotechnical engineer, and with "No Era Sólida" she investigates fictional character Lia, explored through poetry and experimental sound.
Dalt's words melt into haunted electronics and rumbling environmental elements, with everything draped in ear-bending psychedelic effects. The album is not so much a set of separate songs as movements in a larger work, each track voyaging into a different territory of Dalt's sonic landscape. At times it's sensual and inviting, at times illusory and unsettling, and each listen reveals another layer of a singular vision.
Isolating is the industrial solo alter ego of London-based, Stephen Hindman, one half of The Golden Filter.
"Coming off of their moody 2020 debut EP on Optimo, Isolating release an analog, lo-fi, gritty full-length LP on their own 4GN3S label. Disquieting and dystopian, the album shifts from the beatless drone of ‘Mortification’ to the IDM inspired electro in ‘Sacrament’, each track melding into each other with an unsettling anxiety.
The album mirrors the concepts behind ’Perennial Philosophy’ by Aldous Huxley. Solitarily created in London room on a Modular system, ‘Perennial’ tackles the perspective in spirituality that views all of the world's religions as sharing a single, metaphysical origin, with a nod to the Lucretius quote; “To such heights of evil are men driven by religion.”
Killller UK-style dancehall techno and corkscrewing acid presha from London/Bristolian Laksa on Batu’s Timedance.
Spun from the top, ‘Ardhall’ works a gully rut of rasping snares and distant sirens synched to squirrelly acid bass - think Acid Hall riddim redone by Neil Landstrumm - while ‘FWD Ghosts’ busses on a tighter tucked for of Afrohouse hustle with shades of Gqom and Plastic People percolators.
He stakes out wilder terrain off somewhere between Mosca and Mumdance & Logos with the weightless scudder ‘Bane’, and ‘Sen On One’ fully lets the leash on a gnashing sort of mutation nodding strongly in direction of Slikback, 33EMYBW and the thrilling new patterns coming from East/Central Africa and China right now.
Originally released in 1982, Pascal Comelade's Sentimientos is one of the most elusive and sought after LPs in the French composer's vast catalogue. Recorded on a two-track Revox machine, the album is an eclectic series of brief pieces – only two of the twenty tracks exceed four minutes – showcasing his poetic imagination and impressive range.
"While much of Comelade's early work hints at many of the major electronic movements to come, Sentimientos remains earthbound and organic. Melodic fragments performed on piano, organ, plastic saxophone, vibes, guitar, toy piano, ukulele and synthesizer place Comelade's boundless creative spirit on display. It is telling that Comelade chooses to cover a Brian Eno tune not from the ambient pioneer's seminal Music For Airports, released just four years earlier, but rather the more traditional "Taking Tiger Mountain," here rendered to highlight the song's previously hidden hymn-like qualities.
Like fellow countryman Ghédalia Tazartès, there is something distinctly unclassifiable about Comelade's music. Undoubtedly, the two artists share a flair for the mischievous. Sentimientos is an unapologetically whimsical, frequently dizzying and loveably anarchic album of manic energy and radiant mystery – a perfect introduction to Comelade's singular musical mind."
Fluence is the brainchild and first release of sound artist / provocateur Pascal Comelade. Recorded in Montpellier, France in 1974-1975, the project consists of exploratory electronic pieces in the Fripp & Eno vernacular with a Kosmische tinge.
"A Few Reasons To Stay / A Few Reasons To Split," a title inspired by Swiss conceptual artist Urs Lüthi, features Comelade's kaleidoscopic arpeggios and Richard Pinhas' howling guitar, which variously resembles a dreamlike cello and ghostly human moans.
"Barcelona Tango's" off-kilter exotica with pocket trumpet and looping drum beats foreshadows Comelade's later work, which would create a stir in some avant-garde circles for his use of unorthodox instruments (plastic saxophone, toy piano, etc.).
On the side-long "Schizo," Comelade's electric organ with probing, Terry Riley-esque swooshes collides with Gabriel Ibanez's thick, reedy buzz – together forming a truly magical soundscape. These incendiary performances ably join the ranks of other dreamily cosmic, impressionistic guitar-and-synth masterworks like No Pussyfooting and The Serpent (In Quicksilver) as well as Conny Veit's work with Popol Vuh.
Originally released in 1975, Fluence offers a remarkable emotional and textural range – richly experimental and deeply progressive – that sounds at once timeless and strikingly contemporary."
Pontiac Streator’s debut solo 2LP lands on Motion Ward featuring appearances form Ulla & Mister Water Wet, following a run of collabs with Ulla on West Mineral, and with Exael as ‘Micro Incubus’ earlier this year.
Is there a name for this stuff yet? The West Mineral/Experiences/Motion Ward aesthetic is a kinda modern counterpart to the Chain Reaction nucleus splintering out into refracted and interconnected directions at the turn of the century, most immediately with Pole and his Scape label in Germany, but then further afield with Vladislav Delay’s Huume and Kit Clayton’s brilliant and mad Orthlorng Musork, as well as more experimental labels like Tonschacht - all of which had roots in that fizzing dub sound. The West Mineral axis - as we shall call it for a mo - is similarly ephemeral and evolving; but at its heart is a smudged and zonked vibe that’s perhaps a key signifier of our time.
On ‘Triz’, Pontiac Streator imagines a metamorphic landscape that shifts and pulls with weighty pressure amid a backdrop of humid, amorphous atmospheres - most notably on the uon-esque shuffle of ‘Triz Cohors pt. 3’, and the cave-like echos of ‘Lamp Fest’. By no means a gloomy affair though, a tender sense of optimism radiates throughout - with light shining through the cracks on the almost balearic ’Trizlang Gem (featuring Ulla) and the dampened chimes of ‘Angelus Spit (featuring Mister Water Wet), eventually culminating in the rekkid's most hopeful moment, the blissful ‘Transier Unt’.
Pure smoke this one.
Natela Svanidze (1926 - 2017) was one of the most distinguished Georgian composers, whose creations have not been explored and praised sufficiently to this day. Key period of the artist's comprehensive work coincided with Soviet times, resulting in a variety of impediments—both in creative and personal realms of her life.
"The following issue aims to showcase Natela Svanidze's electronic music recorded in 1974 for her Georgian Lamentations oratorio, part 5. "Epitaphium". The groundbreaking for the time being, as it is based on electronic music, developed into four dynamic waves, with rhythmic whispering of the choirs chanting "eternity". Several aspects make this part exceptional: this is the first electronic music piece in Georgian music, composed by a female composer, and simultaneously recorded on Synthi-100, a popular synthesizer (invented by P. Zinoviev and imported to Moscow from England in the early 1970s) at the time. This very synthesizer was used by E. Artemiev, V. Martinov and I. Bogdanov, as well as famous movie soundtracks, including Stalker by A. Tarkovsky, Sibierade by A. Konchalovsky, A Few Days from the Life of I.I. Oblomov by N. Mikhalkov and many more.
This unique recording from 1974 has never been released and can be extremely precious and valuable especialy to modular synth comunity and generaly to all music lovers. Natela's release has been treated with care and it comes supported by 3 young and extremely talented Georgian music producers: HVL; Tamo Nasidze and Mess_Montage."
This record sort of changed our life, and probably changed many of yours too. It was originally released as part of 12x12, a series of one-sided releases we started back in 2017 and which is still ongoing (lol). It’s a release that seemed to capture the imagination of pretty much everyone; it felt like it was licensed, playlisted and written about all over the place - we get asked about it constantly - pretty much daily - so chances are, you already know what we’re talking about. What we didn’t know though, until a while after it came out, was that ‘Grafts’ also had a b-side, a 20 minute piece called ‘Undo’ which was omitted because the series was one-sided. Yeah, we know. Anyway, here it is: the extended, two-sided edition of Grafts, aka the greatest.
A sublime and quietly hypnotic work belied by steadfast conceptual rigour, Grafts (the A-side) is deployed in three parts of cascading yet plaintive multi-instrumental gestures, expanding on the processing and self-temperament techniques explored on Coverdale’s 2014's A 480 into a more encompassing palette. Uncompromisingly distinct while redolent of modal minimalism, 70s new age, and folk music, Grafts effectively blurs distinctions between traditional composition and more open, overlapping genres that hover in the half-light between acoustic and electronic refinement.
Rather than anything grandiose or explicitly seductive, the effect of Grafts is best compared with the subtle intoxication of micro-dosing on LSD or the clarity afforded by quiet meditation, in a sense dilating the listener's focus to a heightened awareness of the piece's intricate peripheral tones as much as its melodic centre ground, with a beautifully understated, surreal resolution. The piece flickers with gentle optimism, never at random, illuminating unseen spaces that quickly gradient into nothingness.
‘Undo’ - on the flip - is its previously unheard cathartic coda. A moment of contemplation, afterwards, captured in suspended animation. It’s breathtaking, beautiful.
Frames of reference are numerous and on the face of it largely disconnected here; The Köln Concert, Clare Fischer’s sweeping arrangements for Prince, the deviant pop instinct of Arthur Russell, the organic/synthetic love songs of Art of Noise, the meditative, almost hallucinogenic spiralling compositions of Philip Glass and Terry Riley, the intoxicated minimal romance of Erik Satie.
All, and none of the above.
The bleary-eared swagger of 'Ghettoville' concludes Actress' album cycle begun with his debut 'Hazyville' back in 2008. As we're sure you're well aware, in the meantime he's released a pair of modern classics, 'Splazsh' and 'R.I.P.', two radically rugged, sophisticated abstractions of electronic music alternately rendered in crystal clear and far-more-murky resolution.
With 'Ghettoville' it would appear he's wearing his tinted glasses again, the ones which don't show up his bloodshot eyes and give him license to prowl the most fugged-up interzones between dancefloor, bedroom and headspace without hassle. Like 'Hazyville' the emphasis is on heavy troddin' grooves - a backyard distillation of grime, rare groove, house and hip hop - but he's now upped the overdriven noise factor to noxious, memory-bleaching degrees, making everything eerie as f**k and disorienting, like a dazed 5am stroll around familiar yet alien ends of a concrete jungle shrouded in pre-dawn fog.
The oppressive atmosphere would be enervating if not for the redemptive traces of melody that perfuse the murk, whether that's the tweet of birdsong that cuts through the foundry clank of 'Forgiven', the half-heard Thriller-era boogie hope of whoever's been crushed to def in 'Contagious', or the seductive bassline calling you back in from the smoking area 52 in 'Frontline', always keeping his sound cannily poised with an ambiguous, ambivalent nonchalance. DJs will find useful gear in the gauzy bump and grind of 'Skyline' and the low-slung, knock-kneed swing of 'Birdcage', but ultimately this album is one for the heads, the headphones, and lowlit habitats.
Room40 pair two much-loved and out-of-print Tim Hecker pieces on vinyl to mark the label's 15th year of editions and events.
The A-side finds Tim bunkered in the mine shaft at Sweden's Norberg festival on July 30th, 2005, where he coaxes out some 20 minutes of pealing chimes and reverberant cacophony making intrinsic use of the space's natural acoustics. After 10 years, thankfully 'Norberg' makes its first appearance on vinyl here.
On the other side we find the succinctly emotive eight minutes of 'Apondalifa', presenting its frayed ribbon of oxidising strings and electronics in its entirety for the first time (it was previously broken in two parts over a 7" in 2010). If you're only familiar with Tim's better known work, this is a perfect stopgap in lieu of a new LP.
Mind-mashing vocal and electronic experiments from legendary Japanese punk Hiromi Moritani, aka Phew. Originally part of Aunt Sally, she later collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto and members of Can, Einsturzende Neubauten and DAF, among other scene icons. "Vertigo KO" pulls together unreleased material recorded between 2017 and 2019 and is described by Phew as "a personal documentary music of the late 2010s".
It's an intimate collection, twisting vocals around bizarre synthesizer patterns, nauseous drones and bubbling rhythms. There's even a cover of The Raincoats' 'The Void', which makes some kind of sense as Phew collaborated with Ana da Silva on 2018's "Island", yet still sounds disarmingly alien. The music sits almost completely out of time, sometimes reminding of vintage electronic music, sometimes kosmische, sometimes academic experimentalism, sometimes the playful, irreverent electronics of Yellow Magic Orchestra. But there's little room for vapid nostalgia here, Phew is still pushing relentlessly forward and her optimism is inspiring.
Anthony J Hart’s Basic Rhythm laces up fidgety garage-house, melted acid and bolshy grime mutations for Bristol’s Sneaker Social Club
Spinning on from last year’s album with Planet Mu and a drop on his Raw Basics label, this one squares up the cuboid garage of ‘What Would I Do’ alongside a canny hybrid of Detroit beatdown and West London brukbeat nodding to Dego in ‘I Just Don’t Know’. That cut’s sensuality seeps out into ‘Annihilate’ before it quickly turns sour on a squashed 8-bar grime tip, and the square bass of ‘Plodding Along’ goes on like a melted Mr. Fingers meets Mister Softee. Good this one.
Bryn Jones, who was never happy with remixes of Muslimgauze music apart from his own, might be with this one. Extreme, an earlier Muslimgauze label, had a long history of remixing the material Bryn sent to them and this was the main reason for the artist to move to the staalplaat label.
"It's an interesting coincidence that Extreme hired Anders Peterson to remaster Muslimgauze for them. In the process of listening to masters and studying the music, the idea of a remix or 'rework' seemed an intuitive next step, reflects Peterson, "The remixes are based on various material from about 6 DAT tapes. I did not choose any specific tracks, rather sections and parts of all the recordings on those tapes. I did not seek to do a remix, it just grew up of that remastering project. I think I could not find any artist in any genre, anywhere, that would be more interesting to rework / remix than Muslimgauze, so I definitely feel very honored having been able to record these remixes."
Musically, this release falls in line with the more deep spiritual, meditative, abstract side of Muslimgauze, which is often overlooked. The music remains timeless, the production as crisp as ever. Those familiar with the Muslimgauze oeuvre know this music is more than just a series of infectious rhythmic works. Rather a historical document, a musical commentary on the tumultuous times that inspired it; a reflection on the Iran/Iraq war, Operation Desert Storm, the Soviet invasion of and retreat from Afghanistan and the first Intifada of Occupied Palestine. Anders Peterson brings the music of Muslimgauze and successfully found new ways to reveal the artistries from one of the 20th century's more intriguing artists. Through circumstance, Staalplaat is to ensure that the remix project sees the light of day, now available on the evidently timeless medium of a vinyl record."
Kelly Lee Owens crisps up and expands her melodic synth-pop style on a well anticipated follow-up to 2017’s breakthrough debut LP - including a smart Radiohead cover and guest feature by John Cale.
'Inner Song’ sees London’s Kelly Lee Owens hone her sound to a fine blend of sleek, late ‘00s melodic minimal techno and timeless, shine-eyed synth-pop with neatly tempered nods to her home city’s rude club swing.
Going deeper on the sound of her debut LP, she stakes her tastes for classic and experimental pop between the album’s two key reference points: a nimbly stepping cover of Radiohead’s ‘Arpeggi’ from ‘In Rainbows’; and the husky guest appearance of Velvet Underground’s John Cale over her dreamy electronics on album highlight ‘Corner Of My Sky’.
In between, she recalls everything from a moonlit meeting of Four Tet & Julee Cruise with the synth-gilded 2-step of ‘On’, to Fever Ray doing R&B in ‘Re-Wild’, or some Mathew Jonson tech house twirler from the mid ‘00s in ‘Jeanette’, and a sweet piece of Sally Shapiro-esque dry iced synth-pop in ‘L.I.N.E.’
Cochlea-kissing and deeply hypnagogic ambient nuance from Giuseppe Ielasi and Nicola Ratti’s cultishly prized Bellows duo - one of Italy’s finest ambient/experimental projects - now crossing paths with Oren Ambarchi’s vital Black Truffle label.
Rendering them at almost dark jazz and chamber-like angles, the masterfully poised tone of their 5th album ‘Undercurrent’ marks Bellows first outing since 2017’s ‘Strand’ for Shelter Press and our own Editions label before that. In eight parts this one renders their formula of textured small-sound detailing and plangent sferic timbres at their most elusive and atmospheric, conjuring a proper sleepwalker’s sound that resonates with the quietest reaches of Japanese ambient/avant garde, Andrew Chalk at his most sanguine, and even Actress at his most sullen, worn-out, while also making the rest of the neo-ambient sphere sound frantic in contrast to their slumbering pace.
‘Undercurrent’ is the sort of record that perhaps sounds best in midnight stillness, very slowly seeping into your surroundings to create a barely-there yet cocooning ambience that’s hard not to let yourself get wrapped up in. From their opener’s sallow bass licks and sibilant thizz, to mouth-watering floating harmonics and their exquisite manipulations of high register tones that sound like a silent TV playing from rooms away; it’s almost hard to believe that actual people were involved with the making of ‘Undercurrent’. It all feels more like the work of spirits coming out to play their melancholic instrumental blooz for the dust mites and spiders that dangle in your alcoves.
Two years since 'Splazsh' topped a stack of annual polls, Actress presents his 3rd, and most coherent album, 'R.I.P' - his 2nd for Honest Jon's.
Despite being a vital cog in the machinery of underground UK dance and electronics since at least 2004 (when he released his 'No Tricks' debut), it's fair to say that it's only in the last few years he's made the shift from cult concern to acknowledged auteur of some repute. His work with Damon Albarn's DRC Music, beside a legendary DJ set at Sonar and killer remixes of Shangaan Electro, Panda Bear and Radiohead all certify the fact; so expectations are no doubt set high for 'R.I.P'.
Produced exclusively on hardware and inspired by Milton's classic poem 'Paradise Lost', he's arranged his most labyrinthine, esoteric release to date; a timeless set of 15 tracks traversing crystallized radiophonics and subterranean Techno with a psychedelic sideswipe that leaves us dazed and beguiled. By assimilating machine-like characteristics - his notions of "seeping yourself liquid into the machinery" and "I'm just an instrument, I'm completely dead when I write" - he's become an interpreter, a symbiotic conduit of semi-lucid visions into the interzone whose revelations contain the potential to manipulate your consciousness in magical ways compared to the prosaic intentions of so much bland and overwrought electronic music out there.
The newfound clarity and fluid narration of 'R.I.P.' makes this the most intriguing chapter in the Actress saga so far - an unmissable experience.
Debut album of seething, artful punk blurt from well tipped London band ranting about the unrelenting pressures of the world like it’s 1980 all over again, building on a mean live reputation and a run of cult 7”s since 2016 - think Wire, The Fall, Crass
“In equal parts frantic, considered, ear-splitting and melodic, the group take their cues from the early DIY punk and post-punk pioneers to keep everything in-house; artwork, videos, performances and recordings are created entirely by the group and their handful of trusted collaborators, under a bedrock of heavy, bludgeoning, dark, post-punk.
‘Now Here’s An Echo From Your Future’ is their first release for fabled experimental punk label Harbinger Sound and finds the band advancing their sound, making subtle but experimental shifts in texture and tone, helping to break free from the shackled straight-jacket of punk rock that, to be fair, never really held them down in the first place.
Across the album’s ten songs, Girls In Synthesis explore a wide range of sensations and sounds as the album detonates into life with opening track ‘Arterial Movements’ in a screeching flurry of over-driven guitar and hammering drums. The contrast between the slow, mesmerising look into aging and dying in ‘Human Frailty’ (‘The realisation that you cannot halt their impending death’), to the aggressive attack on the rise of the right-wing in ‘They’re Not Listening’ (‘The time-old tradition of the right wing accosting desperate working class people has returned’) shows a wide range of subjects and reactions aggressively tackled.
Mental health in a fast-moving, unforgiving world, media control, the divide widening between the have and the have nots, the class divide, the blaming of the poor, NHAEFYF bristles with an unforgiving frustration and temper.”
After crafting one of the most enduring albums of the last few years with 2008's 'Hazyville', Actress sets his sights on the future with a crucial debut for Honest Jon's.
Wheras it's predecessor was composed over a staggered period of many, many years, this album was fashioned in a fraction of that time, lending a tangible symmetry between these shapeshifting tracks that's as loose as it is detached from the rest of the modern herd. Of the 14 tracks he's selected, we've previously encountered the first two, with the unstable space float of 'Hubble' appearing on a shady Thriller 12" and his remix of Various Production's 'Lost' reminding us how good his most overlooked cuts can be.
From here in it's all about that next-level longing, sealing the airlock and initiating pressure sequence with 'Futureproofing', before laying down the robo-boogie with 'Always Human'. Showing a teflon resistance towards easy categorisation, 'Get Ohn (Fairlight Mix)' swerves down a side street into a footwurkin' face-off by cyborgs sliding to a mutilated mix of Jon E Cash and Chez Damier played underwater. Next we hit the erogenous interzone of 'Maze' and that incapacitatingly lush bassline designed to lock into your central nervous system and send shockwaves of piloerection to every f*cking corner of your soul.
After that, we're cynically dumped into the Ferraro-esque Prince tribute 'Purple Splazsh', and on into the Detroit ghetto stalk of 'Let's Fly'. The dissonant robo-crunk of 'The Kettle Men' and closing entry 'Casanova' confirm that if anything, Actress is only suffering from a surfeit of ideas and expanded technical expertise. Proof, if it were needed, that there is a sprawling future beyond the stasis of so much contemporary electronic music.
The endlessly inventive Matmos keep abreast of the game in ‘Plastic Anniversary’, their hugely playful and charming follow-up to ‘The Marriage Of True Minds’ 
One of modern dance music’s original deconstructionists, Matmos bring a long and mazy history of conceptualised sonic rearrangement to the table in ‘Plastic Anniversary’. As precedents for the current wave of dance music astringents, they maybe have a lot to answer for, but likewise they also lead the way with their fundamentally rhythm-based style inside, using the most ubiquitous of materials - plastic - to shape a ruck of highly personalised and unconventional songs.
“Taking the concept of “broken beat” literally, “Breaking Bread” is a bouncy digital dancehall number built entirely out of the plucked and twanged fragments of broken vinyl records by the Seventies soft rock group Bread. A mini-suite for plastic container, exercise ball and an amplified DNA kit that recalls both 80s pop and the hectic minimalism of Michael Nyman, “The Crying Pill” stacks frantic patterns of saxophone-like sobs onto deep sub bass stabs that are almost trap. Amplifying squishy synthetic human tissue created by the SynDaver corporation as a substitute for human corpses in medical schools, “Interior with Billiard Balls & Synthetic Fat” pairs squelchy electro made out of gross-out substances with tangy melodic riffs. This odd combination of Cronenbergian body-horror and sunny grooves continues on “Silicone Gel Implant”, a skanking number that works rubbery basslines out of, yes, a breast implant, but by the time the plastic flutes snake into the mix, the source becomes secondary to the trance-like form. Side one closes in a more reflective and somber key, with the title track “Plastic Anniversary”, whose cod-medieval martial drums and horn fanfares recall Matmos’ penchant for anachronism circa “The Civil War” before giving way to a close-mic-ed cascade of plastic poker chips.
If side one is playful and poppy, side two is sharper and darker in its implications, and features more live drumming than any other Matmos album. Things kick off with “Thermoplastic Riot Shield” a single-object study built entirely out of the sound of a police riot shield being stroked, rubbed and struck. The resulting sounds are processed into a tense assemblage of harsh noise, deep dub basslines and jarring cuts of silence. On a squeaky loop straight out of a Jacques Tati film, “The Singing Tube” draws out the pinging resonance of a ten foot long PVC pipe played entirely with plastic toilet brushes, and hits a flanged overtone effect not unlike the string compositions of Arnold Dreyblatt. Bristling with whistles and noisemakers and plastic-gloved handclaps, “Collapse of the Fourth Kingdom” bolts a percussive showcase for the high school marching band playing the signature patterns of drumline and Baltimore club onto jarring edits of LEGO bricks clicking into place and weird smears of processed plastic horns. Since plastic was described by its first developers as a “fourth kingdom” beyond animal, vegetable, and mineral, this track heralds the eventual collapse of the political economy that birthed the oceans of garbage that now choke our world. Thinking the dystopian consequences of plastic through to their post-human conclusion, the final track, “Plastisphere” sounds like a field recording of insects and birds and pattering rain and ocean waves, but is in fact a work of digital sleight of hand: every single sound on this track has been artificially constructed out of samples of bubble wrap, Velcro, plastic bags and straws and, tellingly, an emergency stretcher. After a volatile and vibrant suite of poppy plastic electronics, Plastic Anniversary ends in an acknowledgement of the planetary price yet to be paid.”
Morphine usher a crushing suite of organ music made with an abandoned Saxon pipe organ discovered in Transylvania, Romania - a strong look for fans of Kali Malone, Anna Von Hausswolff, Ellen Arkbro...
‘Quellgeister #3, Bussd’ is the 3rd instalment of Austrian composer Stefan Fraunberger’s ongoing research into the influence of nature on culture, and how it “touches on time, periphery, memory, and transience.” As with Morphine’s releases over the past 3 years from Senyawa, Potro Joyo, and most recently Rabih Beaini and co’s Upperground Orchestra, this release is focussed on acoustic phenomena and the listener’s perceptions of tone and space.
The LP’s seven recordings were made with a 19th century organ built by K. Einschenk with wooden mechanics. The organ has never been renovated or modernised, and it solely uses air pumped through the pipes to make sound, rather than any electronic process. Although the recordings are entirely acoustic, Fraunberger uses the deteriorating old organ in a way that highlights its potential for creating sounds that one could easily, and mistakenly, perceive as electronic in origin.
With bellows pumped by Johanna Magdalena Guggenberger and Nicolai Guta, Fraunberger elegantly operates the unwieldy machine to bring out hauntingly warped versions of the sounds that would have originally cast a powerful spell over the church’s congregation with its vast range of near (or actually) infrasonic sub-bass tones and quivering spectral highs that suggest the presence of some metaphysical deity. But due to the decay of the instrument, those towns are now more chaotic, unpredictable, even detectably devilish.
Vladimir Karpov’s questing Soviet synthesizer designs as X.Y.R. evoke desolate landscapes, lost worlds, and labyrinthine inner realms but his latest is less destination than journey: Pilgrimage.
"Comprised of two simmering, serpentine side-long compositions – “Black Monk In The Dunes” b/w “Echoes Of Time” – the album summons a sense of pensive processions across shifting sands, “an internal dialogue with reflections and obscure images,” twilit horizons dimming to starlit mirage. Karpov likens these long-form voyages to temple meditations, “trips in search of something,” looking in as looking out.
Whispery pulses of percussion echo under ancient cosmos keys while devotional textures drift like smoke from nomadic encampments. The sound of water in a well or an exotic caged bird occasionally cuts through the holy haze shrouding these ceremonies but the truth of their trance never wavers, the guiding star holds its light, the pilgrim progresses. Attuned achievements by a deepening master."
Sir Hiss goes on like a mellow echo of Bristol’s purple sound in two 140bpm low riders for Wych, paired with a woodblock-kissed remix from K-Lone
The title tune leans back and reminisces on a G-funk-meets-late ‘00s Bristol sound with fruity top lines and massaged subs for the old heads, and ‘Anatolian Heartland’ gets it right on the nose with a sort of E.M.M.A.-meets-Gurdjieff flex, which come neatly crimped and sweetened up with some R&G scented oils and Timba woodblocks in K-Lone’s remix.
Melbourne based TOY DIVISION (Dick Sallows with help from friends Phillip McKellar (Informatics) and Martin Fripp (sound engineer)) with their fantastic electronic album "CUTE” from 1983.
The CUTE Lp includes a Bonus 7 inch sampler with 4 more tracks previously released on other Temporary Art Tapes between 1981 and 1983.”
"TOY DIVISION's music style ranges from ‘Nulabor’ an Aussie ‘Autoban’ , to an ambient 'Autumn Trees', to post punk political commentary on 'Beurit' and 'John Wayne once told me’ which are still relevant today..."
Bill Callahan returns with another solo jammer, which opens with him exclaiming "hello, I'm Johnny Cash." It's good too; Smog devotees will find plenty here to enjoy and Callahan's deep, smoky tones have rarely sounded so absorbing. The songs are sad and graceful, slow and seductive, simple and enjoyable. Callahan's a witty, gifted songwriter and his take on deeply Americanized country and folk tropes is never dull. Think latter-day, deconstruction-of-the-mundane Mark Kozelek, but without the misogynist, self-referential cringe.
"For his first record in….uh, well, just a little over a year (!), Bill Callahan’s given us his first Gold Record. They can’t all be gold, and they’re not all six years apart either — all good! You could probably call the album “Gold Records,” too: all the songs have a stand-alone feel, like singles, meant for you to have a deep encounter with all of a sudden, from the start of the song to the finish. And what do you got when you have a record full of singles — and let’s face it, hit singles, at that? That’s a Gold Record for you.
From the top, it’s clear this is music with an affection for people, as Bill immediately slips easily and deeply into his characters. Among them: a limo driver, a watcher of television, a suitor, a man in a broken-down car, a reader of books, a Ry Cooder superfan, and in the closing number, a wanderer who “notices when people notice things”. The voices of the people, with their ups and downs, their loss and laughter. You can feel the love.
For Bill, preparing to tour for Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest meant considering being away from home for long stretches of time — maybe up to a year, who knew? Feeling his oats, Bill pulled out a few sketches from over the years and touched them up. Before he knew it, he was recording them, and in the shuffle, newer songs started popping up.
It happened fast. Basics were recorded live with Matt Kinsey playing guitars, guitars, guitars and Jaime Zurverza holding it down “and then letting it go” on bass. Drums and horns were brought in for a couple songs. Spirits were high! Six out of the ten were done first take; overdubs, when needed, came equally quickly. Listening, one hears their intuitive cohesion coming together richly behind Bill’s titanic voice spread across the stereo spectrum: the gentle conversation of Bill and Matt’s guitars, the subtle percussion of the bass and drums, and odd appearances of trumpet, woodwind and synth, striking notes both decorous and discordant, sounding for all the world like the naturally occurring sound meant to accompany and express lives lived everywhere.
These are in fact songs meant for other people to sing — but until they do, Bill’s got this. He’s got a secret on this one, and before we go, we don’t mind sharing it with you: he’s figured out how to perfectly place his voice in proximity to your ear. It’s based on the distance from your heart to your brain. Simple! Why don’t more people think like this?"
Surprise, self-released red-label dancehall wreckage from Low Jack’s anti-nuke riddims series - strong moves riffing on a late ‘90s ragga sound with extra noise and zipped-in edits = murdah!!!
The baddest dancehall/dembow mutant on road right now, Low Jack is a prime mover in the gully between dark, technoid electronics, noise and Caribbean music proper thanks to his cranky redefinitions of the phrase “rhythm & sound”.
This self-released double-header throws down two heavyweight gyrators with a typically off-the-cuff swagger. The A-side’s ‘Virgin Traf 22’ sees him riff on a rude late ‘90s ragga flex augmented with cold string slashes and sparing snarls of neuro D&B synth in a minimalist fashion aching for an MC. On the B-side he pops off another ‘Now Thing’ compilation-referencing zinger with ‘Grass 29’, lathering up with tresillo rhythms awash with reverse edits and filtered for psychedelic pressure.
Pure instrumental rufige: less chat, mo’ play!
Properly crafty, esoteric Casio jams from barely-known ‘80s artist Jack Briece, the latest outsider soul highlighted by Jed Bindeman’s amazing Concentric Circles label with a first ever vinyl issue of his sole, barely-known 1984 tape - a big RIYL Jun Chikuma, early Æ, Lovely Music classics, Irdial’s Mariopaint comp, Frederik Schikowski (remember him?!), the Diskono / Irritant axis!
Practically unknown beyond Bindeman’s house, the deeply endearing 8-bit lather of ‘Heterophonious Fool’ was only ever available in an edition of 50 self-distributed tapes made in 1984, only years before Briece sadly died of AIDS related complications in 1988. Aside from a couple of videos with barely any views on YouTube, Briece’s work has been a preserve of the avant garde margins for the past 30 years, and our guess is as good as yours to how Bindeman keeps plucking out these kind of pearls, but thank chuff he did because frankly we might never get to revel in Briece’s bittersweet charms without his guidance.
Built with minimal means that belie the music’s inspiration from the I Ching, it’s perhaps testament to Briece’s charming spirit that his lofty ideas are easily digestible and never in the way of its potential enjoyment. You’ll surely know from the first fizz of drum machines and curdled melody in ’Seventh Heaven’ if it’s your bag, and if so, attention will be rewarded with 9 mins of elemental electronic beauty recalling Woo-meets-Werkbund in ‘Arousing Wind and Thunder’, while the tremulous hi-hats and scattergun rhythm of ‘Peace’ could easily be mistaken for a section of Autechre’s Lego Feet, and comparison between that amazing batch of Paul DeMarinis’ ‘Songs Without Throats’ (among our AOY ’19) and Briece’s gloriously free-sprouting 8-bit babble in ‘Pushup Words and Food’ is inevitable.
Aside from putting a smile on the mugs of the pickiest electronic music fiends, long overlooked releases like this can be taken as encouragement to follow your nose and forget about contemporary “acclaim”, 'cuz eventually heads almost always find the good stuff...
Body-slamming techno rufige from Codex Empire, aka the neo handle for Mahk Rumbae of Konstruktivists esteem, and a regular on aufnahme & wiedergabe
For Samurai’s Horo division the Viennese bosch master takes no prisoners, whether invoking biblical imagery in the model of Ancient Methods on ‘Herod’, turning your tendon to pistons with ‘Tribenode’, or sustaining a knife-edge tension with ‘Sleep Garden’, this stuff is properly built for a ruck at the rave.
Overlooked ‘90s electro and IDM in the crosshair on the latest nifty reissue from Melbourne’s mix series-turned-label A Colourful Storm
UK electro bass cadet Andy Jaggers aka ADJ shows his sweetest, slinkiest side on the Detroit-taught electro-techno of ‘Somewhere Else’ from his 1996 EP as 3 Elements, primed to slip in at the crack of dawn, and Tevatron’s needle-point ’98 electro/IDM ace ’Nu-tronik’ may have a shite title but will work a treat for air-stepping, gyr-eyed ravers with its lush pads and a burbling flow somewhere between classic Claude Young and Balil.
Autechre's classic debut album from 1993, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
Go on, blink; for the first time in fifteen years Autechre’s peerless debut album, Incunabula is reissued as a facsimile copy of the original, 1993 release, replete with silver-printed gatefold jacket.
We’re not going to bang on about this too much, but you should know by now that Incunabula is one of the cornerstones of modern electronic music, one of the pinnacles of the British rave epoch and among the most life-affirming records ever, bar none.
Aye, it’s 100% essential.
Vladislav Delay’s Chain Reaction masterpiece resurfaces for a remastered 20th anniversary edition. Answering the prayers of dub and electronic fiends everywhere, this long overdue vinyl edition of ‘Multila’ acts both as a reminder of Sasu Ripatti’s pioneering work and a primer on his early practice.
Technically the Finnish artist’s 3rd album, 2000’s ‘Multila’ offered a looser limbed, sensuous take on dub techno as much informed by the Finnish climate and landscape as the templates of Basic Channel, SND, and the deep house styles established between the late ‘80s and during the ‘90s.
It’s an immensely immersive work that prizes the qualities and infidelities of analogue production nose to tail from hardware to tape and D&M’s revered all-analogue mastering facilities, which up until this reissue has only previously been available on vinyl spread across the 'Ranta' and 'Huone' 12"s. Anyway, the Keplar label remedy that issue right here with Rashad Becker’s remaster which faithfully combines to present the album as it was perhaps always meant to be heard.
Between the submerged, coruscating crackle of ‘Ranta’, the soothing tone of ‘Raamat’, and the 22 minutes of semi-organic, lissom swing and ambient smudge in ‘Huone’ on the first disc, to the water-logged tumescence of ‘Karrha’ and the 16 minutes of head-swilling textural abstraction and saline buoyancy in ‘Pietola’ on the 2nd disc, you’re in the presence of pivotal, peerless material that effectively splits the difference between the GRM, King Tubby, and Huerco S.
Liberated from the personal vaults of François Tusques himself, the previously unreleased recordings from the ‘La Chasse Au Snark’ (The Hunting Of The Snark) sessions, featuring a stellar all-star cast of the crème de la crème for French avant-garde and free jazz musicians, including Bernard Vitet, Beb Guérin, Daniel Laloux, Jean Frenay, Jean Vern, Michel Kurylo, Annick Astier, Lambert Terbrack, Jacques Thollot, Aldo Romano and Noel Mcghie.
"In 1967, 1968 and 1969 most of my works were happenings loosely based on Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting Of The Snark, a not-so-cryptic poem that, to my mind, gave clues to free the theatre in the same way the “new music” had freed jazz. It never made it to record and I gave up on the idea when I met Sunny Murray and Alan Silva when they arrived in Paris in the summer of ‘69. Few concert venues would have anything to do with us but we didn’t want that kind of connection with the public – famous or not (Jacques Higelin joined on occasion!) – which more often than not would join us on stage to bang percussion, sing, dance, freak out. Our favorite part was when we shut down the lights near the end, silently left the stage, and when the light went on for the curtain… The public had formally taken our place.
Galleries, museums and art/theatre/dance festivals, on the other hand, were open to this early multimedia event – complete with films, masks and early electronic devices (Bernard Vitet, the trumpet player, brought an early portable reverb system to the proceedings). The reels and cassettes we rescued from my basement are rather evasively labelled and the following data is far from precise. The core group was me on piano, Bernard Vitet on trumpet and electronic treatments, Beb Guérin on double bass, Daniel Laloux (who later had tremendous success in film, theatre and voice acting) as MC, Jean Frenay and Jean Vern (who did the artwork for le nouveau jazz) on saxophones, Michel Kurylo, Annick Astier, Lambert Terbrack and my then wife Françoise Tusques “singing” and “acting”, so to say. Jacques Thollot, Aldo Romano and later Noel Mcghie were on drums.
I know for sure side A is a studio recording carried out in august 1968 by the comité action musique, an activist group of artists and engineers aiming to reclaim the means of production from the “record industry”. The line-up is me, Vitet, Guérin, Laloux, Frenay, Vern, Astier, Françoise Tusques, no drums (everyone doubling on percussion), and Michel Portal on bass clarinet and saxophone as guest. Side C is a montage of the surviving bits of the happenings that took place at La Vieille Grille between August 1967 – March 1968 (sometimes on a daily basis in ‘68!), the museum of modern art during the May ‘68 demonstrations, and the Biennale Of Paris in February 1969. Sides B and D are less theatre oriented and may have been recorded either at the American center in October 1968, the international students center in November 1968 (Barre Phillips on bass and Barney Wilen on sax guested on these dates but I’m not able to confirm they are on the tapes), or in the winter and spring of 1969. However, the cassette for side B only read “Snark 1969”…
The name of the group (it changed every time it ventured out), the title of the concerts and accordingly the cuts on these LPs were all lifted randomly from Lewis Carroll’s poems and novels.
Back then, I described what we did in this way: “Composers, directors, writers, band leaders, those people are vampires sucking the blood of musicians and actors. They are byproducts of the current state of our society. Yet, someone who has something to convey needs performers… Unless a cultural revolution happens soon, I think it’s impossible to overcome those contradictions. Therefore, I wish that this rendition of the hunting of the Snark would be the last ever rendition of any work of art, and that the next stage of evolution is that any individual craving for expression will have the physical and intellectual means to create without constraints, to freely associate with others, without bearing the weight of so-called geniuses and nobodies. We want to bring to the stage the same revolution that happened in jazz with the new music."
Avery and Cortini feel out emotionally raw synth circuitry across an album of rolling topographies strongly comparable to Blanck Mass, Abul Mogard, Tim Hecker.
“The album is a beguiling and unexpected collusion of two sounds. Beginning as a collaborative experiment before the pair had even met, Avery and Cortini then worked remotely and free of concept or deadline over several years. The result, finally completed when both artists were touring with Nine Inch Nails in 2018, is a quietly powerful album rooted in trust, process and experimentation.
The first fruits of their labour were unveiled last year when ‘Water’ and ‘Sun’ appeared online, subsequently released as a very limited 7” run that was sold at FYF Festival, Mount Analog in Los Angeles, Phantasy's online store and Phonica Records in London. Both tracks are included on the album.”
Mesmerising, synth-heavy Nigerian Fuji music from ’88, reissued for the first time by Soul Jazz
“This is the first in Soul Jazz Records’ new series of vinyl-only Afro funk / Afro beat exact-replica, super- rare albums that were previously only ever released in Nigeria. The series starts with Kollington Ayinla’s celebrated 1978 album Blessing, a rare lost classic of Nigerian Fuji music, featuring Ayinla’s sharp political lyrics together with his new band Fuji ’78. Blessing blends the heavily percussive style of Fuji music with a stunning array of modern instruments, including synthesizers, Bata drums and guitars, to create one of the most forward-thinking and heavily danceable sounds ever to come out of Nigeria - a highly successful mixture of profound Fuji rhythms and Fela Kuti-style Afrobeat.
Kollington Ayinla ranks alongside his friend and competitor Ayinde Barrister as the two most important artists to dominate Fuji music from its inception in the 1970s through to the 1990s by which time it had grown to become one of the most popular dance genres in Nigeria. At the start of the 1980s Ayinla started his own record company, Kollington Records, to release his music and remains to this day an extremely prolific artist, having recorded over 50 albums, most of which have never been released outside of Nigeria.”
Facsimile reissue of an iconic number from the important Smithsonian Folkways Recordings archive, focuseded on beautifully lissom and serene Kora recordings made in Senegal and The Gambia, 1977, with a Sony 722 1/2 track stereo deck using 4 cardioid condenser microphones...
“The hypnotic, delicate sound of the kora, the harp-like instrument strung on a halved gourd, has been a trademark of West African music for centuries. Gambian Griot Kora Duets (1979), featuring the master player Alhaji Bai Konte and his equally influential son Dembo Konte and Ma Lamini Jobate, is a remarkable recording that documents an evolution in the kora’s use in the traditional music of the Gambia. The album, made in Dembo and Alhjai Bai Konte’s living space, shows the musicians incorporating complex, polyrhythmic arrangements. Though these musicians are intrinsically linked to the Jali tradition of griot families in West Africa, in which kora players are the historians and record keepers of local cultures, these recordings, with their stylistic flourishes, marked a new beginning for international interest in the kora. Dembo Konte went on to tour internationally, performing on John Peel’s legendary BBC program in 1989 and collaborating with the influential group Mustaphas 3.”
A COlourful Storm hold a light to the shadowy phantasms of French mystic Désaccord Majeur with the first vinyl of their work - a must check for fans of Coil, Organum, Zoviet France.
Compiling 3 tracks from the ‘90s/early ’00s, ’Sunquake’ is the first release by Jérôme Mauduit in any guise since his contribution to Rotorelief’s John Balance homage comp in 2006, and a split with Zoviet France’s Rapoon in 2003. His music occupies an absorbing twilight zone between dark ambient and post-industrial musicks, creating a sort of elusive but intoxicating, immersive Cinéma pour l’oreille from fragments of field recordings and “ethnic” samples rendered in amniotic ambient suspension.
Tipped by contemporary shaman Vladimir Ivkovic to Melbourne’s A Colourful Storm, the project necessarily takes on a new life with this reissue, which sets out his aesthetic in reverberating industrial dimensions and greyscale tones with the grumbling ‘Sat’, before expanding expectations with the head-swallowing cosmic synth yawn and tentative new age flute tendrils of ‘M.O.E.R.’, and really sucking us in with the 11 minute blinder ;Sunquake’. As far as we can tell this last cut is exclusive to the comp, and packs the kind of rarified early ‘90s ambient substance that’s worth the entry alone, recalling the darkest aspects of Global Communication, Coil at their most slithering, or indeed the atmospheric night visions of Mauduit’s label mate Muslimgauze.
Vernal Crossing is Rapoon´s fourth album, originally released in 1993 by Staalplaat. One of the most interesting records released by Robin Storey (founding member of the pioneering industrial group :zoviet*france) on vinyl now for the first time.
"A magic balance between percussion and electronics, creating mind-bending tapestries of minimalistic patterns and quasi-melodic drones fused with occasional doses of well-placed white noise. An approach much in debt to his 12-year stint with *zoviet-france*. It paints a gossamer diaphanous drifting veil of mood over the top. Other than some moody loops and psychoacoustic dimensions, it sounds authentic - hardly a trace of crude electronics or sampling. The drumming - in soft tones rather than hard hitting ones - does nothing to intrude on the passive mood.
The overall atmosphere does not really change throughout the recording making it a cool, pacifying atmosphere while having the madcap tempo which would be very easy to dance to. This edition includes a new track called Total Crossing, edited/constructed by Colin Potter, who has overseen the remastering of the record. A deep drone trance/meditation edit that blew Robin´s own mind (and ours!). The successful experiment explained by Colin: “I imported all the masters to my DAW to make a mockup of the LP & initially they were all together at the beginning of the multitrack, before I spaced them out in the record's running order. And I thought.... what would it sound like with them all playing at once? Well, it was actually surprisingly interesting, so I did a mixdown”."
A brilliantly singular record that appeared back in 2013 like some kind of sonic aberration, never to be repeated, this hypermodern soundclash was pieced together by New York based composer and conceptual sound artist Marina Rosenfeld and features virtuoso cellist Okkyung Lee and, strikingly, The Bug collaborator Warrior Queen. For our money it's one of the most surreal, futuristic records of the 2010’s. Imagine Eleh making an experimental, subs-heavy, ultra-minimal dancehall record - this is basically it.
The inter-dimensional blend of Warrior Queen's vocals and Okkyung Lee’s electro-acoustic scapes, framed by the intense frequency modulations of Rosenfeld, push our buttons like no other; we can draw lines outwards to Rashad Becker, Kode 9, Ryoji Ikeda, The Bug and Laurie Anderson, all playing at once, somehow of one mind.
Adapted from a series of quasi-sculptural sound system installations, 'P.A. / Hard Love' unfolds around morphing location recordings with unstable acoustic parameters, or "tuned atmospheres" as the label put it, in electronic soundfields strafed with eerie sci-fi tones and complex synthesizer patterns. Warrior Queen sounds like she was dialled in as a mischievous AI presence; something like a character in the latter chapters of Neuromancer, singing and spitting amidst the laser zaps and gyroscopic diffusions of 'New York / It's All About', or digitally shredded as a flickering, holographic simulation against the abstract ragga-tech refractions of 'I Launch An Attack' and the titular 'Hard Love’ - the real standout here.
Most crucial to the record's appeal, though, is that constantly morphing patina of electro-acoustic flux; like the scramble suit in Philip K Dick's 'A Scanner Darkly', perpetually shifting and realigning your ear's focus between the peripheries and the foreground with something approaching a slow, controlled, cybernetic psychedelia. It really is a stunning, highly idiosyncratic record, one of the decade’s real sleeper classics.
2020 Re-issue of Keith Kenniff's debut under his Goldmund moniker. Originally only released on CD in 2005 via John Twells' Type Recordings, this album of rare and unusual minimalist beauty is now presented as a vinyl edition for the first time.
"Multi-instrumentalist Keith Kenniff is a busy man. He has appeared as Helios on a number of acclaimed releases, including Deaf Center’s ‘Neon City EP’, and released a debut album ‘Unomia’ on Merck records which has appeared on many best of 2004 lists. All this while studying at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, and playing drums, guitar or contributing production to a host of amazing musicians. Kenniff lives and breathes music, something that is very obvious when hearing tracks under any of his pseudonyms.
As Goldmund, Kenniff has disregarded the electronic elements of his music almost entirely in favour of just a piano, a microphone and occasionally a guitar. ‘Corduroy Road’ is thirteen tracks of pure recording, the sound of the piano being opened and the feet on the pedals, the sound of fingers pressing lovingly onto the keys. This is a record of rare and unusual beauty, so shocking and yet unpretentious in its simplicity. When the guitar does emerge from beside the delicately touched piano, it serves as a balancing point for the record. Weaving in and out of the melodies, it adds another layer to what is already incredibly moving music.
‘Corduroy Road’ is rooted in Kenniff’s love of folk music from the American Civil War. We can hear this directly from his rendition of Civil War era classic ‘Marching Through Georgia’, but the influence carries throughout the record. There is an unheard voice which propels each track through history, maybe the ghosts of dying soldiers whispering in a long forgotten bar. Every haunting note drifts deep into the psyche and is lost in the ether of nostalgia. In this way it is a concept recording of sorts, it certainly has a narrative and has to be listened to in sequence. The story has clear themes; loss, history, friendship, camaraderie, forgiveness and hope, all clearly marked out by musical segments. It is no surprise that Kenniff’s passion for cinema shines through so strongly."
Perhaps the most ambitious and absorbing album yet from Lawrence English, featuring a whole host of friends and collaborators including Swans’ Norman Westberg, The Necks’ Chris Abrahams and Tony Buck, Mats Gustafsson, Werner Dafeldecker and The Angels of Light’s Thor Harris. It’s an arctic, ice-cold meditation rendered in the most beautiful drone and semi-orchestral variants - think somewhere between William Basinski, Akira Rabelais and Badalamenti at his most terrifying. A huge recommendation.
Lawrence English carries the weight of the world in the emotive blows of Cruel Optimism; his tortuous yet somehow triumphant follow-up to the Wilderness of Mirrors (2014) LP, which was conceived prior to the present socio-political sh*tstorm, and attempts to present “a meditation on these challenges and an encouragement to press forward towards more profound futures”.
Inspired by the title of a critical text by American theorist Lauren Berlant, whose analysis of the contemporary crisis points to the elusive promise of neoliberalism - particularly its inherent sense of hauntological trauma - Cruel Optimism is offered by English as a reflection “on how power consumes, augments and ultimately shapes two subsequent human conditions: obsession and fragility”, and does so in a way that viscerally resonates with the long-standing, recurring themes of his work: deferred ecstasy, textural decay and the way they affect perception.
Galvanising strength through collaboration, as opposed to the solo introspection of Wilderness…, English elected to work with a number of his peers for this record, who all gauzily serve to enrich these recordings, which each carry the subtle, if distinct presence of plural spirits in the mix. Object Of Projection is especially hard-hitting, recalling Deathprod’s life-changing Treetrop Drive with its looped refrains, albeit here submerged underneath a tonne weight of sonic detritus that triggers nostalgia and dread in the most evocative manner imaginable - perhaps the most astonishing 5 minutes in all of English’s by-now sizeable catalogue of work.
English carefully consolidates every element on this album within the democracy of the soundfield; we may be able to discern the crucial gestures of Norman Westberg’s clanging chops in Hammering A Screw or smudged into the soberly grand dimensions of Requiem For A Reaper/Pillar Of Cloud and the waking dread of Somnambulist, but, in effect, thru English’s enigmatic processing, his ego is properly sublimated into the ether and as vital as any other to the record’s sense of swelling, aching communal pathos.
Kevin Martin has tapped into a kind of unfathomable strain of desolation this year, first on King Midas Sound’s ‘Solitude’ - one of the most painfully lonely albums of recent times, and now on the first album under his own name, ’Sirens’, released by Lawrence English’s Room 40 label. It’s a startling record lost in its own thoughts, the soundtrack to personal tragedy and rebirth somehow mirroring Hildur Gudnadottir’s recent score work for Chernobyl, but in much more personal space.
Despite being a more or less constant presence on our radars since the late 90’s when we first opened our doors (actually, from way before that - 1995’s 'Macro Dub Infection' comp and 97’s 'Köner Experiment' are both foundational records here) - and despite a constant barrage of bangers under myriad guises (but mostly as The Bug), various strains of Martin's work seem to have only just recently converged into something entirely distinctive. Both ’Solitude’ and ’Sirens’ are neither showy nor self indulgent - this is music that’s ice cold yet intimate, barely-there - but utterly compelling. While its easy to make sudden impact with scudding basslines, here Martin takes a more lonely route into numerous strands of contemporary music; from dub to noise and across the abyss between, into a dimly lit corner that somehow brings out the best we’ve heard from him in over 20 years. It's nothing short of an isolationist classic.
“When I was 22 I managed to acquire Techno Animal’s Demonoid 12” at a local record store, Rocking Horse Records. I can still recall the intensities of sound that marked the first moments of listening to it. The sense of bass as a tactile surface, that rolling groove and the howling sine waves and dub sirens that scorched with a type of sonic burning sensation that to this day makes my hairs stand on end. A year later I heard Ice’s Bad Blood, from there I discovered The Bug through a release on Wordsound, a band called God, a sound movement called isolationism and much more; all of these projects had one nexus point - Kevin Richard Martin.
In 2015, Kevin and I book-ended a series of concerts at Berghain for CTM festival. For his performance, Kevin debuted a new work I’d heard very little about called ’Sirens’. I remember two things distinctly about the performance. The first thing is he opened the set with a blazing passage of bass and dub sirens that instantly transported me back to those initial moments of encountering his work. The second was the feeling of absolute, crushing bass. Not before, or since, have I felt a sense of sound pressure like this. Unlike his other work with The Bug for example, the consistent bass carrying in the space was literally breathtaking and there were moments when it seemed difficult to see clearly as my eye sockets were vibrating in a way I’d never experienced.
Sirens, which documents the intensities surrounding the delivery and early days of his first child, carries in it a sense of deep affect. The album, unlike the live work, traces out a dynamic sound world that is both tender and caustic. It charts the emotional rollercoaster that is the arrival of parenthood, heightened through the complex circumstances of his wife's emergency procedures during the birth and two further life threatening operations for his son, in the first month of the child's life. Within each piece, microcosms of sensation unfold, Kevin clearly and deftly manoeuvres us through the tumultuous journey. Seconds become hours, and hours become seconds; Sirens somehow creates a sense of time that is without anchor and is foggy in a way that is profoundly unique (and frankly pleasurable).
Kevin Richard Martin has remained a point of constant inspiration for me over several decades now. To have the opportunity to share his first ever solo recording, one that arguably opens an entirely new side of his practice, brings me the utmost pride. His work has impacted so very much on me at various points and I know I am not alone in this situation. His new work, Sirens is a life journey transposed into sound that is truly personal, but effortlessly universal. It is the start of a new chapter for Kevin and one that I know will only strengthen his place as one of the critical voices in contemporary electronic music.
Lawrence English, March 2019”
‘Bratschebraut’ is an engrossing retrospective of pivotal Belgian avant gardist Moniek Darge, half of Logos Duo with Willem Godfried Raes, and a singular catalyst of liminal experimental ambient sound in her own right
All tracks make their first time on vinyl following their excavation by London’s Horn Of Plenty and cover a period of years around Darge’s debut ‘Sounds of Sacred Places’ (Igloo, 1987) when she was using a similar set-up of prepared violin, electronics tapes, and voice in usually scrabbly, haptic style that saw her debut previously reissued on Graham Lambkin’s Kye.
The four works were never intended for release together but now collected they frame an inquisitive artist-musician ever in flux around fleeting ideas; whether attempting to describe the elements with scratchy early electronics and animist wind instrumentation on ‘Clouds’, or sounding like a divination ceremony using David Behrman-esque circuit chicanery in the far reaches of ‘Dark Waves’, while the title track sees her rely on her improv wits with unsettling results, and the 20 mins of ‘Man Mo 2’ follows to open the window out into a surreal simulation of naturally occurring free jazz minimalism.
A Colourful Storm presents a new album by Beequeen, the duo of Frans de Waard (Kapotte Muziek) and Freek Kinkelaar (Brunnen).
"Over two long-form pieces, new material from 2020 and almost-discarded fragments dating back to 1988 are collaged to form a brand new composition. Think woodblock, guitar, static radio signals, ethereal ambience. An honourable addition to Beequeen's discography and a beautiful piece of the Dutch avantgarde with historic ties to Edward Ka-Spel, De Fabriek, Merzbow and Nurse With Wound. Mastered by Peter Johan Nyland with full-colour sleeve photography by Alfred Borland."
Hot from his Serwed side with Flaty for West Mineral Ltd., OL does downbeat and moody vibes on his tod for local Moscow label Gost Zvuk
Again we’re strongly reminded of vintage DIN in the Dynamo or Pole-esque dub wise shuffle of ‘Block24’ and the fuzzed-out steeper ’Skepsys’, and ‘morph_16+’ or recalls the crunching, humid and abstract fuked edits of Low Jack’s work Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement , Demdike and Iueke gang gang, with possible nods to Push Button Objects and Miami’s Metatronix out in the skudgy low slung crack of ‘Blacksiris’, and ‘Trial Dub’.
‘The tenth, jubilee release of ‘Instrument’ series is a sudden turning point and immediately changes the rules of the game, anticipating emerging trends. Oleg Buyanov – one of the main GOST contributors responsible for prominent records ‘True White’ and ‘Height Difference’ makes his debut in ‘Instrument’ framework. OL’s new release creates a path of complete diverseness - a unique mix of ambient, dub and mutational electronica, though the author’s hip-hop DNA is still recognizable.
The release title as well as its symbol flirts with the privacy of communication in the context of its facilities and tools of the present world. Music acts as the info-channel, which provides unseen and coded data to a person from aside. The vagueness of mood, recurrent rhythm changes, and order of arrangement seem to rhyme with the feeling of being wiretapped. OL (along with another ГОСТ ЗВУК resident Flaty) recently had a similar experience of sound synthesis with their Serwed project whose recent LP was released via West Mineral Ltd. The groove of ‘SORM’ is swirling, distorted and sometimes ‘disengaged’; sound guided by its waves exists in a constant process of decomposition, dissolution and then reassembles in new configurations.’