Tim Zha aka Organ Tapes makes a hyperjump to DJ Python's Worldwide Unlimited label with an emotionally slushed set of singer-songwriter pearls spiked with his own idiosyncratic production moves. An investigation into avant pop, it sounds like a DIY inversion filtered thru the autotuned hypersonix of Ecco2K, Yves Tumor or Palmistry.
For over a decade now, Organ Tapes has been masterminding his own obsessively-curated and unique style, attempting to reconcile not just his interests in pop and experimental modes, but also his identity as a British-Chinese artist who's spent his life between Shanghai and London. Through production work for Triad God and releases for Tobago Tracks, Genome6.66Mbp and Berlin’s much loved Creamcake, he’s developed a style that’s pretty much inimitable, with autotuned vocals informed by a long-term love of dancehall, afrobeats and Soundcloud rap, and songs that slip into folk and country, with a compositional mindset that’s unmistakably non-Western.
"Chang Zhe Na Wu Ren Wen Jin De Ge Yao" (sing the song that no one cares about) expands on the misty landscapes of 2019's TT-released "Hunger In Me Living”, but while that album retained a wisp of R&B and a vague whiff of ambient, this new one feels firmly grounded in a bedroom pop aesthetic, allowing beams of sunlight to crack through his usually dense, textured clouds. Weft around guitar and vox, Organ Tapes bends the form by employing muffled field recordings, squashed drums and dreamy synths, assembling his tracks with the sort of diaristic warmth you’d expect to find on a claire rousay record.
Zha positions himself a few feet away from indie and emo, instead channeling more sparkling influences like TV themes and advertising jingles. His earworm compositions drip with familiar-but-alien riffs, with hooky choruses rendered personal and heartfelt through low-key, lo-fi production smarts. In different hands, it might have all sounded overly exuberant, but anchored by Zha’s muted voice and shaved arpeggios, it's touching and indelible. There’s no cynicism here - the songs work because they come from a genuine place. Just listen to 'Heaven can wait' and tell us you ain't feeling it.
Recorded back in 1999, 'Half a Dove in New York, Half a Dove in Buenos Aires' is the recorded debut of a NetCast improv between deep listening pioneer Pauline Oliveros and Argentinian free music trio Reynols >> a fascinating early example of the internet’s capacity to foster remote creativity in-the-moment that deploys the slowest electronics, accordion, voice, trombone and computer sounds on a next level ritual drone incantation recorded in another era, but made for our time.
As the story goes, Oliveros first met Reynols in the mid ‘90s at a Deep Listening workshop she held in their home city, Buenos Aires, where they impressed her with an improvised brass serenade. Years later, in 1999, they met again via NetCast - a series of very early online live improvisations - to explore the Internet’s potential for collaborations between artists thousands of miles apart. Finally mixed down in 2021 and mastered by Helge Sten (aka Deathprod) after marinating in the archive for 22 years, the album resonates with the late, great Oliveros’ legendary work in exploring alternate tunings, spatial dynamics and methods of intuitive performance - a remarkable slab of omnidirectional drone bearing traces of Miguel Tomasin's vox and Oliveros’ just-intoned accordion embedded in its cosmic roil.
Broadcasting from fabled record shop The Thing in NYC, with Oliveros (Accordion) joined by Jennifer McCoy (ICR), Kevin McCoy (Computer processing), and Monique Buzzarté (Trombone), and Reynols revolving Miguel Tomasin (Electronics, subliminal voice & Alclorse drums), Rob Conlazo electronics, leather gloves & e-gtr), and Anla Courtis (electronics, rubber foot & e-gtr) and dialling-in from Florida 943 in Buenos Aires, the results are an incredibly absorbing and consistently surprising testament to vanguard, experimental spirits prizing the internet’s nascent, unprecedented ability to connect minds and art across continents, language barriers, and modalities.
The album's first side, titled 'Micro Macro Wind Dance', puts Oliveros' accordion under a microscope, enhancing it with lower case rumble and noise from Reynolds' arsenal. Shifting glacially over 22-minutes, Oliveros plays subtly and slowly at first, letting the accordion breathe in-and-out like a sleeping mythical beast, before she transitions to fluttering bird-like phrases by the end of the side.
'Astral Netcast Pigeon' expands the dissonant drones to widescreen, submerging Oliveros' trills and drones beneath layers of dirt and grit. It's time-altering music that dissasembles yr head before you've completely worked out what's happening >> basically the perfect mid-point between Oliveros' deep listening practices and Reynols' wildly inspirational free-noise-drone freakouts.
Props to Smalltown Supersound's superb Le Jazz Non Series for bringing this incredible, life-affirming recording (back) to life.
Gnostic Chicago house virtuoso Jamal Moss unleashes the spirits of angular and rampant warehouse music on a powerful clutch of bangers for Modern Love - the first issued under his own name for five years, loaded with his deadliest energy. If yr into anything from Steve Poindexter to The Other People Place to MMM/Errorsmith and Sun Ra - this is the absolute sickest gear.
'Thanks 4 The Tracks U Lost’ taps into Jamal’s finest vein of tekkerz for a ribboning stream of chromatically colourful, insistently psychosexual club music for hearts, bodies and minds. By this point, readers of these pages should be very aware of Jamal’s prolific oeuvre; he’s been a GOAT to us for nearly decades now, probably listed here more than any other artist, and we’ll never tire of diving into his ceaseless stream of life-giving energies. This set of tracks for Modern Love are patently some of his most gripping, romantic, crazed and timeless; drenched in chaotic cosmic harmony and notably textured to the spirit-biting point, with thanks to Rashad Becker’s mastering which really holds up the facets of his raw cut gems to the light.
Slicing off just one cross-section of his ceaseless, holistic practice, the music here speaks to the endless variation within a theme that Jamal has made a virtue of since his nascent ‘90s productions. Where those early works with legendary mentors such as Steve Poindexter and Adonis still had Jamal’s experience of the original Chicago warehouse scene fresh in the memory, he’s come to singularly carry that flame far from the original object while never losing sight of its original reasons for being, seamlessly integrating lessons of Sun Ra’s cosmic jazz and his DJ/diggers-instinct for classic synth and industrial musicks, into a syncretic roil of ideas that simply sounds like nobody else.
Plainly put, opener ‘The Lust With-IN’ is an instant classic, blooming with arpestral orchestrations and cinematic string pads for the end-of-the-night, oozing a similar melancholy fire to The Other People Place’s 'Lifestyles Of The Laptop Café’, while the psychosexual club oscillator ‘Erotic Abuse’ plays it slow to delirious & deadly effect. There’s a striking lick of tranced-out synths for the wall-slappers in ‘This Is 4 The Rave bangers II’, and frankly unhinged, speaker-worrying badness in ‘I Can’t Escape From U’ - a distorted grind of square bass x animalic synths that rattles like the hardest MMM peak-timer, while the bugged-out butterfly dance of ‘When Love Knows No Bounds’ deploys cascading drum machines and arpeggios on top of one another to fully disorienting, trippy effect.
Jamal is one of the true, visionary club mediums of our time, and we reckon 'Thanks 4 The Tracks U Lost’ features some of his very best material - demented, soulful and restless - like nothing else.
Long-awaited solo vinyl debut of the most significant breakthru artist project in years - a staggering early testament to Blackhaine’s iconoclast energy and genre-shattering fusion of drill rap and ambient noise, produced by NW diamonds Rainy Miller & Croww. 100% essential for fans of Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’ thru John Cooper Clark and Space Afrika. Cut as one of the first products from new vinyl plant, Press On in Middlesbrough, and issued by The White Hotel's Head II label
‘And Salford Falls Apart’ is the searing 2nd EP of cinematic drill noise by North West polymath, Blackhaine; five tracks staging a brutalist, exhaustive expression of disaffection with life in a post Brexit England of the early 2020s, and paying witness to a genuinely prodigious talent coming into its own. It’s no doubt a massive recommendation to anyone who can join the dots between North West England’s resoundingly rich history of punk/post-punk, electro, rap, and rave electronics into the hard present.
Between the stomach-knotted dread of its opener ‘Saddleworth’, the caustic fulmination of its Rainy Miller-produced title track, and the magisterial poise of parting shot ‘Let Me Know’; the EP sees Blackhaine develop a more personalised, storytelling articulation of life in the precariat; drawing on the experience of unsatisfying jobs and a love of social-realist film (the eponymous La Haine), surrealist literature (Samuel Beckett), and road level, punk-spirited music - from John Lydon’s formative post-punks PiL, to the bruxist, staccato delivery of donk MCs - to wrest a vital, remediating energy from the void.
Now pronounced with a broader range of poetic and textural tekkerz, Blackhaine’s sound is deeply gratifying and absorbing in its psychic purging and knife-edge urgency. Its incursions on the no-person’s-land between detuned drill, noise, and industrial ambient paradigms are as vital as they come at the start of a new, foreboding decade - baldly resetting boundaries and rekindling a fire in the gut-level consciousness of rap and punk musicks that echoes the North West’s indefatigable spirit, and likewise spearheads a crucial new movement beside the likes of Space Afrika, Rainy Miller, and Croww. When factored by his uncanny gift for physicality, as inspired by traditional Japanese butoh dance and petrified city centre spice heads, Blackhaine’s art patently refuses, as much as acknowledges, the pressures of the times. A vital new working class voice demands your attention right here.
Stones Throw releases the synth-pop / weird-rock Free Time by Jerry Paper.
"This playful and joyous album captures Jerry Paper’s unique persona and tells the story of their self-discovery as a nonbinary artist.
Jerry Paper has previously collaborated with Tyler, The Creator, Weyes Blood, Charlotte Day Wilson, Kari Faux and BadBadNotGood, and they recently supported Flying Lotus live. For fans of: HandHabits, Connan Mockasin, Drugdealer, Weyes Blood, BadBadNotGood, and Mild High Club."
Parisian club dynamo Toma Kami serves four crunching, hard drum mutations of dembow house, dabke and D&B.
Chasing up a split side for YOUTH, Kami returns to Peverelist’s Livity Sound with baga proper dancefloor engines. At its wildest, ‘Mzecal’ nails an inch-tight flux of killer Arabic drum tones in a slow/fast style edging on D&B, while ‘Amapicante’ also makes sterling use of dabke drums harnessed in a swingeing dancehall dembow template a la DJ Plead. ‘Zone Bruma’ is the EP’s sparest workout, deploying super spaced out drums in skeletal dub setting, and ‘Later to the Bone’ brings it tuff and minimalist on a precision tooled dembow drill.
New album on Duophonic Super 45s from Astrel K AKA Rhys Edwards of Ulrika Spacek.
"Astrel K's debut single ‘You Could If You Can’ was released via Duophonic Super 45s - a label which has a history of releasing limited edition abstract releases from Stereolab, Broadcast & Yo La Tengo. Following the loss of KEN, a shared house in which Ulrika Spacek band members lived and worked from, Edwards relocated to Stockholm, Sweden where he began making music on his own: “At this time, I didn’t really know anyone in Stockholm so kinda retreated into making music just by myself. The album title definitely reflects this period; I was on my own making music and sometimes nothing would be happening and sometimes there would be little sparks of ideas that could keep me going
Edwards would spend nights writing and recording in a shared rehearsal space producing music rich with layers and texture, synonymous with the work of Ulrika Spacek but with perhaps a greater focus on the art of ‘song writing’. Tracks with verse’s and chorus’s are surrounded by instrumental interludes; inspired by old library music and compositions for film as well as being reminiscent of bands such as Broadcast.
The album doesn’t sound like one made in either London or Stockholm, rather somewhere in the nether region. Written pre pandemic but mixed in the past year, the music led Edwards to finding like minded musicians from the Stockholm music scene: “Though I’m now glad I can say I wrote an album by myself, I was definitely confronted with my own musical strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes when you have an A/B decision you want some perspective and you’d be in the studio, turn around and no one is there. It really made me curious to bring in more people into the fold, not to compromise any original vision or anything, but to have other energy in the room, to exorcise out any lazy tricks I may fall into”."
More itchy techno dancehall weight from the Duppy / Roolingz / Bokeh crew, this time connecting with Japanese soundsystem don Element. RIYL Equiknoxx, East Man, The Bug, Kelman Duran.
Having opened a studio last year in Jamaica, the Duppy Gun / Roolingz / Bokeh stable of artists have already been busy dubbing tracks that stretch across established genre boundaries and geographical borders. The original project linked the US with Jamaica, and on the 'Andromeda EP' they bring in Japan's renegade soundsystem and label Riddim Chango, tapping producer Element to provide two stargazing riddims. Duppy's I Jahbar and Darkblood take center stage immediately, going back-and-forth over Element's tweaky 'Andromeda Riddim' on 'Love My People'. It's one of the more off-kilter tracks the crew has stamped their name on, with winding synth arpeggios curved around squashed bouncing-ball beats, spooky strings and gut-punching sub, but with I Jahbar and Darkblood's rhymes everything's grounded in Jamaican positivity.
'Puff It' pushes the airlock-grade weightlessness of its predecessor to one side, heading into classic dancehall modes and allowing I Jahbar and Darkblood to take the lead again, while 'Walk & Stagger' - based on Element's 'Rum Song Riddim' - might be our favorite on the set, using the classic 'Pulse X' overdriven TR-909 kick and ASMR trills to evoke a bizarre UK-to-JA hybrid sound that feels effortlessly global.
Market's debut for Western Vinyl, The Consistent Brutal Bullshit Gong.
"On The Consistent Brutal Bullshit Gong, recording engineer and multi-instrumentalist Nate Mendelsohn and his band use lyrical maximalism for the powers of good. Where Market’s previous home recorded releases shifted genre restlessly, on The Consistent Brutal Bullshit Gong Mendelsohn took a core band of longtime collaborators to a house in rural Massachusetts where they carved out space for his words to speak through with humor and intensity.
Though he comes from a background in experimental music, Mendelsohn’s ear for pop has prevailed. Certain moments on Bullshit Gong reveal his stranger side, as on the thundering bridge of “Scar,” which sounds like a more unhinged Parquet Courts, or the angular “I Would Do That,” which takes cues from Cate Le Bon. On the whole, though, this band of close friends insists on directness, their arrangements clear despite the intricacies. Guitars and synthesizers tangle fluidly atop the rhythm section’s tight bedrock, evoking the tenderness and backbeat-centric qualities of Elliott Smith or Big Thief."
Influenced by Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane, Canary Islands-based cult outfit GAF dip their entire bodies into cosmic psychedelia on "Garden Island".
Since 2010, GAF have been sliding through psychedelic, kraut and space rock sounds, picking up influences and cracking their jazz muscles. "Garden Island" is their latest trip, and starts with the almost 20-minute title track, a collision of electronic organ, horn sounds, swirling guitar fx and urgent rhythmic beating.
On the surface, it's jazz improv, but there's a funk-influenced fusion taste to GAF's music that's hard to ignore. Their experimental stripes are revealed on the epic four-part 'Immensity of Colour', that curves sax blasts thru blipping waves of synth, tweaked lounge percussion and, finally, frenetic psychedelic blast beats.
Bizarre and enjoyable.
Debut album from Ghost Power on Duophonic Super 45s.
"Ghost Power are Jeremy Novak [Dymaxion] and Timothy Gane [Stereolab, Cavern of Anti-Matter and Turn On] Duophonic Super 45s have previously released music by both artists - Novak via a Dymaxion compilation album and 7", Gane via various Stereolab, Cavern of Anti-Matter and Turn On releases.
Having previously released a limited edition 7" in 2020, Ghost Power by Ghost Power brings the two musicians together for a full length album."
Phenomenal follow-up to Msylma's 2019's debut "Dhil-un Taht Shajarat Al-Zaqum". Msylma again sings in classical Arabic, using pre-Islamic poetic forms to tell densely layered stories over Ismael's head mangling weightless electronics. RIYL Fatima Al Qadiri, Abdullah Minawy, Scott Walker, Thoom.
"The Tenets of Forgetting" was recorded in Cairo between 2015 and 2020 and finds Ismael in the producer's chair, handling the album's syrupy electronic backdrop. But the star is once again Msylma, who channels his spirit and emotion into words, phrases and stanzas that dance across Ismael's restrained productions with grace and form. Msylma's tone and delivery harvests an emotional bounty that peals across borders and lifetimes, speaking directly to a root culture that underpins all music. His range is impressive, but it's Msylma's ability to balance the ancient and modern that truly stands out here - over crumbled electronics and sparse 808 thuds, he cries with romantic authenticity. On 'The Lovers' Creed' he wonders over melancholy chords and chest-rattling sub bass, "are you deaf and mute in the language of love?" His Autotuned voice sounds caught between classical Arabic music and cloud rap, carefully treading across cultures without descending into con-fusion.
'The Followers Path' shuttles subtle rhythms into the structure, echoing Logos or Rabit's weightless productions with glassy synth FX and punctuating low-end pulses. But there's nothing particularly minimal about Ismael's backdrops, they're grandiose in scope, with sweeping melodies and soaring arpeggios, disrupted by heaving cybernetic gurgles and pneumatic squelches. Sickly sweet electric piano chords guide 'The Tenets of Forgiveness', and Msylma's vocal strikes a reconciliatory note: "I will kill myself but not before offering a prayer of atonement to my goddess," he cries. Erupting in a euphoric throb of powerful bass and synth, the chorus sounds like an ascent to the heavens, pointing to the stars. The album plummets back down to earth on 'Abiding Trails', burying Msylma's serenades in a gloopy fog of acidic electronics and dissociated percussion; "I abandon our bodies like dirty rags reeking of sin."
Msylma and Ismael bring their collaboration to a frothy head with the closing epic 'Enter Stage Right', letting damaged, noisy pads sublime into trance arpeggios beneath Msylma's most operatic vocal turn. It's the kind of track that would melt the heart of even the most dedicated ice queen, effortlessly emotional but tweaked with an experimental mindset that manages to reference Scott Walker, Abdullah Minawy, Cluster and David Sylvian simultaneously. Seriously we're bowled over by this one.
Freshly re-mastered, "Symbol" was originally released in 2004 and follows Susumu Yokota's tried-and-true method of welding almost overfamiliar classical motifs onto fresh rhythmic grids. Gorgeous, timeless music that walks the conceptual tightrope between high and low culture expertly.
In many ways, the cut 'n paste technique Yokota had perfected by the time he released "Symbol" should have made him as notorious as The Avalanches, but his shyness and lack of showiness made him much harder to market. Here, he assembles classical music elements we've all heard hundreds of times echoing through our culture - whether on lofty recitals and self-serious movie soundtracks or on fairground rides and bank adverts - and frames them completely differently. Sometimes Yokota doesn't do much more than just loop a recognizable melody and cut it with another harmonic snippet, and occasionally he chops the motif, interrupting the perceived flow and forcing us to reshape our expectations.
Yokota will often utilize discernible rhythms - shifting into experimental electronics, breakbeat or techno - but mostly allows his samples to do the work, creating a meter as they loop. But it's his choice of music that's the most notable; Yokota swerves our Western reading of the classical canon and treats these well-worn sounds with sensitivity and egalitarian inspiration. Loops that we might avoid completely are twinned with elements that shouldn't work, but sound as inviting as a warm log fire on an ice cold day. Sure, it's cheesy, but it's supposed to be.
'Symbol' is a sentimental and affecting set of sample collage from an artist who left us too soon - if you've never heard Yokota's work before, it's a good place to start.
The first official re-press of the original 1971 album "2+2+1=" from The Ponderosa Twins Plus One.
"An American soul vocal group that would go on to shape the sound of pop music much farther beyond their imaginations, The Ponderosa Twins Plus One featured two sets of identical teenage twins, Alfred and Alvin Pelham, and Keith and Kirk Gardner, along with Ricky Spicer.
The group released a couple of singles and a lone album for Cleveland’s Saru label in 1971, breaking up and disbanding as adolescence waned. A recent sample darling of both Kanye West and Tyler The Creator, “Bound” has revealed the Ponderosa Twins Plus One as the real Midwest kid soul deal.
Includes fresh remasters from the original analog tapes, two previously unissued bonus tracks, and a replica tip on sleeve, making this an album you’re bound to fall in love with."
Early days bleep techno beauties from FSOL’s one-off alias, Intelligent Communication, back in circulation for their 30th anniversary reissue.
Originally appearing at a nascent apex of Brain Dougans and Gary Cobain’s illustrious oeuvre, ‘Principles of Motion’ witnesses them lathering up inspirations from proper NYC deep house with more bucolic British new age rave whims to dead sexy effect. In the intervening 30 years their charms have only become richer, returning a sublime cross-section of early rave optimism in the tracks’ balance of slinky urge and head-kissing Martian melodies that still work a treat on ‘floors today.
To broach the tricky connotations of their “Intelligent” nomenclature, in context the term was used to distinguish new strains of UK dance music inspired by Detroit’s hi-tech jazz and NYC’s Black secret technology from the ruck of cut-and-run rave trifles that swamped the market back then. Of course, the term became over- and mis-used during the ‘90s, but essentially here it’s pointing to an emotional and technical/studio intelligence that’s a by-word for adoption of Black innovations in techno/electronic music as an offshoot of jazz. Worth remembering that parties in Manchester, where both AGCG and FSOL cut their teeth, were very much unstratified - everyone into the good shit raved under the same roof. Just sayin’ (to all those online popping veins over semantics).
Anyway, the vibes are strong on this one, rolling out from the cosmic breaks and bass of ‘Drive’ to exceptionally slinky marriage of deep house shuffle and whale weeps in ‘Open Loop’, while the gorgeous ’Flight’ nods to thumb piano like African rhythms that bridge gaps between the Burrell Brothers and A Guy Called Gerald, and ‘Critical Ebb’ brilliantly balances jazz-funk-pop influences with new age and garage-house in effortless style.
The official score for 'PIG' by Alexis Grapsas & Philip Klein, on Invada Records.
"The score reflects the mood of the lead character played by Nicolas Cage with the simple “folk” like colours of the solo violin and acoustic guitars creating a richly mournful tone. More modern, aggressive electric guitars, distorted colors and drums provide a strikingly ominous, propulsive backdrop to his more intense moments.
Alexis Grapsas says this about the film’s score: “The score was born after lots of trial and error and experimentation under the guidance and vision of the filmmakers, where we tried very original acoustic and electric sounds. In the process of creating an environment that would capture the lead character’s emotional world, we landed on a very unique raw and gritty sound that remains true to the story while being self-aware.”"
War Island OST is the soundtrack to the complex and wide ranging anthology of artwork by the multidisciplinary artist GAIKA.
"War Island OST is a concept piece to be released as an international collaboration between GAIKA’s own label TSE, NAAFI from Mexico City and, SVBCVLT from Shanghai. The soundtrack was installed at the ICA in London as a part room-sized audio visual environment.
At the time of increasing British isolation and political failure, GAIKA, the perennial internationalist, has turned the focus of his analytical lyrical approach directly to the place of his birth. Gone are the dancehall inflections and infectious rhythms of his Caribbean heritage. Instead the focus is on London in 2022, a sprawling megacity city he poetically deconstructs with dense southside storytelling. The lyrics are set against futuristic urban production.
The results are cinematic salvos from the global underground that demand investigation. According to GAIKA London is cruddy as hell and everyone is a little drunk. Lyrically War Island is GAIKA’S attempt to analyze Britain's current geopolitical position in familiar terms. Touching moments are offset with bleak punchlines that leave little prisoners. By turns downtempo and decidedly industrial and by others anthemic soaring with fragile gothic beauty, the atmospheric soundtrack is a succinct demonstration of artists' sometimes contradictory aesthetic andtestament to the collaborative nature of the work.
Each song is structural and deliberate in nature, emotive pieces with a host of collaborators between London, Manchester, Mexico city and Shanghai are poignant personal assessments of matters of power wealth and class in British Society and how these matter relate to the rest of the world."
Rahaan, Satoshi Tomiie, Chida and Licaxxx neatly rework deep house cuts off DJ Sodeyama’s album ’1977’ under The People In Fog alias
Deffo one for heads on the axis from Soichi Terada to DJ Sprinkles, the remixers ride TPIF’s originals deep and rude for the dancers, with Chicago’s Rahaan bringing out a simmering disco-house lilt from ‘Mr. Dub’, and Japanese house pioneer Satoshi Tomiie nestling ‘Less Is More’ right between DJ Sprinkles and Moritz Von Oswald with super sultry strut and layered, eyes-shut dubbing. It’s left to Tokyo’s Chida to supply some proper muscle with his strapping darkroom version of ‘Come to Meet Me ft. Monkey Timers’, and local Tokyo lass Licaxxx pushes the tempo with a infectious acid-bassed remix of ‘Down The Drain’ that does not let up.
Genuinely some of the most exciting dance music ever made - we almost couldn't believe our ears on first listen, or the tenth. It was perhaps only when we witnessed the accompanying videos on youtube that it started to settle into place, watching liquid hipped Shangaan dancers scuttle and stomp like folk possessed by something untold but completely comprehendible.
The erstwhile and intrepid ears of Honest Jon's Mark Ainley and Hardwax/Basic Channel legend Mark Ernestus have been following this niche style from Soweto, SA, for a hot minute, long enough anyway to pick out twelve extraordinary examples of 180bpm, marimba-laden, afro-dance diamonds hewn from rickety drum machines and keyboards shaped into dazzling fillips of pure dance energy.
It's not a large punt to draw distinctions between this and Chicago footwurk or Caribbean Soca styles, from the high tempo velocity to use of basic equipment all deployed with the intention of eliciting faster and more furious dance moves from the participants. Essentially this is a continuation of traditional styles, only plugged in at the studio of Nozinja Music Productions to become utterly electrified and electrifying. But these aren't simply instrumental rhythms, they're also songs with passionate, soul wrenching vocals and head-rushingly sweet synth melodies. Four exemplary contributions from the scene's lynchpin Zinja Hlungwani are worth the entry price alone; from the gripping hypertension of 'Ntombi Ya Mugaza' to the warbling duet of synthesized and human soul in 'Nwa Gezani My Love', or the alien harmonics of 'Nwa Gezani', you're paying to experience a mesmerizing sound that you simply can't hear anywhere outside of Limpopo or low-res youtube clips.
Nozinja is responsible for the breakneck speed of Shangaan Electro, responding to public demand for faster rhythms since opening his studio in 2005, even creating "boy bands" like the boiler-suited and clown mask-wearing Tshetsha Boys and producing for the rest of the artists included here. To be fair, this music is still a totally niche prospect, but initial reactions from friends we would never expect to like it have been as immediate as the music itself and there's no denying this will be one of the years most lauded albums among adventurous listeners.
A devotional love letter to the man Louis Hardin.
Once you know about Moondog, there's little you can do to shake his melodies and rhythm from your head. A personal friend of Charlie Parker, Lester Young, in fact most of the prime period new york jazzers, Louis quite seriously saw one of his main forebears as Bach and there's a remarkable counterpoint in his music between his collection of totally unique, self-designed and made instruments and an apparently innate sense of harmonics.
Comprising some scandalously rare new york eps from the late forties and early fifties with a splash of later material, Moondog should be a lifelong obsession for any person and when you hear his mingus-like horns on the track mr scruff ripped wholesale for "get a move on", you'll know it's just the tip of a very large iceberg.
After crafting an all-timer with 2008's 'Hazyville', Actress set his sights on the unknown with a futureshock debut for Honest Jon's.
Wheras it's predecessor was composed over a staggered period of many years, Splazsh was fashioned in a fraction of that time, lending a tangible symmetry between shapeshifting tracks that defined and propelled the era. Of the 14 tracks, we'd 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 that there are some deep cuts in the Cunningham discography.
From here in it's all about that longing, sealing the airlock and initiating pressure sequence with 'Futureproofing', before laying down 'Always Human' - can u even remember a time you didnt know this one? Showing resistance towards any categorisation, 'Get Ohn (Fairlight Mix)' swerves down a side street into a footwurkin' face-off by 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 fucking 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 only suffers from a surfeit of ideas. Proof, if it were needed, that there is a sprawling future beyond the stasis of so much contemporary electronic music.
It still sounds pretty f good.
When this one came out in 1998 we had not long opened our shop and cos no one really new about us (we were tucked away on the third floor of afflecks palace in a tiny toilet-sized unit) we were pretty much the only place in the world you could still grab copies of Aquarius on 7" - not cos Skam gave us loads, but cos we basically had no customers. Was a similar story with all the MASK records too lol.
Anyway this guy, Elvis, who had a unit next to us, would play Aquarius multiple times each day, it became a bit of an endless ritual. By the time 'Music Has The Right To Children' came out a while later, so many people in the building knew the tune they were queuing up for it - we had a real best seller - must have flogged at least a dozen copies lol. Not sure how many of them realised the version of Aquarius on the LP was different though. Nevermind.
Remastered and finally available officially, 'Mother is the Milky Way' is Broadcast's rare-as-you-like final release, a spellbinding set of cut-n-paste Radiophonic bleeps, movie snippets, music box eccentrics, snatched vocals and overdriven drum machine loops.
Broadcast were on tour in Australia just before Christmas 2010, when Trish Keenan contracted the H1N1 virus and was hospitalized; she died shortly afterwards from pneumonia. This tragic incident was the end of Broadcast, by then a duo of Keenan and longtime bassist James Cargill, and while the soundtrack to Peter Strickland's "Berberian Sound Studio" emerged later, "Mother is the Milky Way" is the last release that Keenan fully oversaw. Unlike 2005's "Tender Buttons", "Mother is the Milky Way" leans wholeheartedly into spectral folk and occult weirdness - it has more stylistically in common with "Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age", or Keenan's lesser-heard folk project Hayward Winters.
Here, Keenan's long held obsession with Czech New Wave movie soundtracks (think Luboš Fišer's spring-loaded accompaniment to "Valerie and her Week of Wonders", or the bizarre experimental collage of Vera Chytilova's "Daisies") bubbles to the forefront. On opening track 'Creation Day The Travel Flute Way', splattered electronics and childlike recorder bleats are paired with chirpy field recordings that ooze into the grotty machine folk of 'In Here The World Begins'. 'Elegant Elephant' is even more affecting, stripping away the layers to leave Keenan's reverberating voice, a gently twanging guitar, and plodding synthesizer that sounds as if it's been pinched from an Oliver Postgate show. There's a surreal nursery rhyme quality to all this material, sounding as if Keenan's surrealist obsessions are swirled in a vortex of Grimm fairy tales and Alice in Wonderland abstraction.
Voices trap in marbled reflecting pools on 'Milling Around the Village', stop-starting against cheap guitar loops and farmyard sounds; 'The Aphid Sleeps' washes out further, all ghostly soft vocal echoes over dissonant clarinet bursts and tape delay vortexes. From beginning to end, the mini-album sounds like a privileged peek into Keenan's sketchpad - it's a personal and moving set that's all the more resonant now as it stands as Broadcast's final release. Originally issued as a limited edition tour CD of only 750 copies, it's been remastered from the original tapes and sounds crisper than ever.
Far East deep house G, Soichi Terada rides out head high on his first new album in this mode for 25 years
Buoyed by acclaim for the Hunee-racked 2015 compilation of his ‘90s/‘00s classics, ’Sounds From the Far East’, Terada spent 18 months getting right back in the saddle, attempting to recreate the headspaces and hardware studio tekkers that made his early work such an enduring joy. Although times have changed, his music still glows with that carefree ‘90s house elan that still keeps dancers cosign back for more, lending a subtle spin on original NYC house templates of Tony Humphries, Ben Cenac and the Burrell Brothers with his effervescent, butterfly lightness of touch and gait across 11 new perlers.
It’s all straight-up, deeeep house, exploring the styles fine spectrum of moods between the jazzy touch of opener ’Silent Chord’ and the floating, kick-less closer ‘Epoxy Lamp’, with winking, kinky marimba flourishes and dreamy pads in ‘Double Spire’, while ‘Bamboo Fighter’ tucks the bass deeper in his Gucci gruds in balance with its flighty Japanese woodwind. The slinky Latinate electro-house hustle of ‘Marimbau’ is a fine centrepiece, and ‘Soaking Dry’ is suave as you like, while ‘Runners’ surely channels early YMO touches via Dream 2 Science in the most charming style.
Amazing Bwiti harp music from Gabon, 1989, updating tradition with layered synths to gorgeous effect with its swaying call-and-response male/female vox.
“Kadi Yombo, published in 1989, is the most successful album in the quest for a fusion between tradition and modernity in Bwiti harp music of the Tsogho people of Gabon. Combining beating rattles with a layer of synthesizers, Papé Nziengui blends in a contrapuntal dialogue characteristic of harp playing: male song in appeal and female choir in response, male voice of the musical arc and rhythms of female worship.
But above all it’s Tsogho ritual music and modern studio orchestration. The result is an initiatory itinerary of 10 musical pieces which are all milestones likely to be simultaneously listened to, danced, meditated on, and soon acclaimed. In the years since, Nziengui has traveled he world from Lagos to Paris, from Tokyo to Cordoba, from Brussels to Mexico City to become a true icon, the emblem of Gabonese music.”
Enchanting introduction to the exquisite, smoky melancholy of a Japanese jazz and blues singer/songwriter/composer who collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto and penned some 30 solo albums, yet is scarcely known in the West.
Born in 1942 in a small, northern Japanese fishing village, Maki grew up during the era of American occupation and cultural imperialism, eventually moving to Tokyo and nurturing a passion for the records of Billie Holliday and Mahalia Jackson, which would lead her to perform on US military bases and cabarets and subsequently cover many US traditional folk and blues for the Japanese market.
With her distinctive voice she's seemingly possessed by the spirit of her heroes - Billie, Nina, Mahlia among them - and apparently had the mysterious countenance to match her unusual aesthetic.
We'll have to take that for granted from Hitoshi Jin Tamura's photos and Alan Cummings' enlightening liner notes, but Maki's music remains the best gauge of her character, taking in big band experiments along with an amazing, sitar-lead psych-out, plus runs into modal, spiritual jazz and the kind of lounge styles that prompt imagery of Bill Murray or some lonely salaryman clutching a single malt in the shadows of a Tokyo bar.
my bloody valentine's second studio album, "loveless".
"my bloody valentine, the quartet of Bilinda Butcher, Kevin Shields, Deb Googe and Colm Ó Cíosóig, are widely revered as one of the most ground-breaking and influential groups of the past forty years. During an era in which guitar bands denoted, at best, a retro-classicism, not only did my bloody valentine sound unlike any of their contemporaries, the band achieved the rare feat of sounding like the future.
With their debut album, Isn’t Anything (originally released in 1988), my bloody valentine revolutionised alternative music and heralded a new approach to guitar music for generations to come. The album birthed a sound which became a template for thousands of new subgenres, heralding a new approach to guitar music and studio production. Not only was it a new type of music, it paved the way for a new type of journalism; inciting comparisons to elemental phenomenon, tapping into how the music affected the psyche. Shields and Butcher frequently sang in a similar vocal range that allowed their voices to blend together. This had the effect of making their gender indistinguishable, to the point where their voices could be used as another melodic layer to complement the vertigo-inducing sounds made by Shields’ guitars.
The second my bloody valentine album, loveless, was released in 1991. Musically, it took an unexpected leap forwards, standing ahead of anything released at the time. Shields and the band moved further towards a music of pure sensation, creating textures and tones that could be felt as much as heard; with loveless the band created an album that overwhelmed the senses. loveless is widely considered a flawless whole and rightly regarded as a masterpiece; a 1990s equivalent to Pet Sounds, In A Silent Way or Innervisions, a record constructed by exploring the edges of what a recording studio is capable of. It is a record best experienced as a whole, in one sitting - a listening experience like no other and unmatchable in its sonic brevity."
Killer compilation from Honest Jon's focussing on the dancehall vocal and dubs that the Unity Sounds label and sound system dropped to mad effect in the mid eighties. Recorded by a cast of talented amateurs on a Casio keyboard and four-track recorder before being tested on the Unity soundsystem...
The album was recorded by the Unity Sound label workers after the introduction of the early digital sound system, later supplemented by vocals and overdubs in the studio.
Genius throughout with spot-on mastering from Moritz von Oswald at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. Informative liner notes, lush high quality sleeve makes this as essential a comp as 'Darker Than Blue'.
Legendary material, reissued with love.
The Ring Orchestra is an eight-person effort, a collective coming together to tackle opera and one of the genre’s controversial poster boys.
"18 compositions, the artists Born in Flamez, Gil Schneider, Si-monne Jones, Leo Luchini, Legion Seven, P.A. Hülsenbeck, Isa GT, and Ixa create a collaborative musical score that uses Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen as the point of departure.
Originally, the music was created for a staging of Der Ring des Nibelungen at Schauspielhaus Zürich, directed by Christopher Rüping and written by Necati Öziri.
Far from being an affirmative tribute, the orchestra sets out to deconstruct and break down what Wagner and his opus magnum represent: collaboration over singularity and openness instead of conservative rigidity. The resulting score doesn’t shy away from ambivalence by decentralizing authorship and encompassing everything from ambient to pop, reg-gaeton, and a wider variety of non-western musical influences."
IVVVO dovetails prevailing grunge/indie-rock trends, twisted metal, hyper-pop and deco-dance fascinations in a blistered new suite for Nic Tasker’s AD 93
Echoing recent directions by likes of Mica Levi’s Good Sad Happy Bad and Dean Blunt affiliates Bar Italia, Portuguese Londoner IVVVO practices a sort of teenaged angst and ecstasy in ‘Bleached Butterfly’. It’s his fifth album proper, following from ‘doG’ (2019) for Rabit’s Halcyon Veil, and an optimistically titled ‘Greatest Hits, Archive 2010-2015’ for Lith Dolina, with a full album for the latter label’s parent, AD 93.
Abyss X lends stylized indie-rock vox to the album’s titular blast of scuzzy guitar riffs and noisy bombast before IVVVO expresses himself across a collaged canvas ranging from the mentasm-streaked ‘Ceramic Chaos’ to woodwind-led orchestral chamber composition in ‘World’, taking in ample amounts of thrashed guitar strings on ‘Freedom’ and what sounds like a cut-up Kurt in ‘I’m Not Dead’, with sweeter indie-rock-pop pathos giving way to lurid trance shred on ‘You Know You’re Just Like Me’, and a very Mica-esque twist of discordant synths in ‘Drugs’.
Nurse With Wound do us all a favour and sort the wheat from the chaff of their legendary “List” in a bountiful new trawl for their spiritual descendants at Finders Keepers, this time with a focus on German artists. Wigs will be flipped, we tell thee.
For the uninitiated; on the back cover of their 1979 debut album, ‘Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella,’ Nurse With Wound alphabetically itemised a stack of records that had influenced them, often for the inclusion of only one track on the record. The records were so rare and obscure that people who picked up the album thought NWW were having a laugh, but eventually realised they were real, obtainable things, leading them to become proper collectors’ items. After more than 40 years, and to the delight of many, NWW’s Steven Stapleton now dissects the pertinent bits of heart, liver and vital organs from those records, highlighting a shared consciousness of the ‘60s / ‘70s experimental, psych, and avant garde scenes in the years before record collecting of that voracity became a competitive pursuit and the fancy of hirsute record fair hunters.
This second volume examines Germany's inclusions on the list and is another precious haul of spannered, synapse popping prog 'n psych rawnesz thru to druggy, burned out eccentricity and ragged Prussian post-funk fuzz. It's a wild, narcotic voyage down the styx, all loose jazz rawk rhythms, ripped woofer bass and screaming detuned axe leads, everything assembled with a pre-punk middle finger to established ideas of order and genre. More importantly, it avoids the gilted critic-proof Kraut canon of Neu!, Can, Amon Düül, Popol Vuh and the like, mostly 'cuz if you've missed that you've probably not been listening very closely.
Instead, we get to experience the jagged, off-key improv splatter of Wolfgang Dauner's 'Output', that pulls us into the Deutsche smokescape kicking, screaming and frothing at the mouth. It sounds like musicians playin against each other rather than together: drums are an assemblage of occasional fills, guitar riffs are mangled, smacked and panned, oscillators squeal drunkenly like sick insects and piano rattles and rolls to underpin everything with nautical anxiety.
Avant legend Limpe Fuchs and her husband's Anima-Sound duo appear with 'It Loves Want To Have Done It', a haunted, sparse improvisation that pits screams and whispers against tidal free-wonk percussion and pinging left-bonk effex. Underrated Detroit x Stuttgart Kraut-funk oddbods Exmagma fight thru blotter breath with 'It's So Nice', drawing a clear line in Sharpie between Black US innercity innovation and German commune-adjacent anti-establishment experimentation. It all follows a line far beyond the usual krautrock and kosmiche culprits to perfectly demonstrate the Germans’ rhythm-driven and psychedelic urges in abundance, highlighting the way a generational wave of musicians sought to create a new music unshackled from folk music tainted by their fathers’ generation, or imitating British and American styles; broadening their horizons while cognisant of the need to make a music that was, after all, expressive of a new society. Trust Steven Stapleton has picked out the most virulent, enduring examples for a new generation to absorb while watching their hairlines recede and waists and beards bloom…
2nd release on Bambounou’s label is a crafty rub ’n tug session with Bristol’s Bruce
From the quietly restless palpitations and frayed syncopations of ‘Crash’ they nod to the Algerian style of ‘Rai’ with a gauzy dub techno edge, and splash around with chrome tinted synths and pensile rhythms in ‘Final Conference.’
Gently spellbinding incursions on fourth world interzones by two snowbound Canadians, tipped to followers of the axis from Jon Hassell to O Yuki Conjugate, Aleksi Perälä and Civilistjävel!
Next in Séance Centre’s “Speculative Ethnography” series, ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ sees previous label alum Joseph Shabason meet mysterious operator Vibrant Matter for an intimate, personalised investigation of the borderland twixt ambient armchair orientalism, placid home listening, and a particular strain of interest in ‘90s trip hop. With benefit of hindsight, it’s possible to say that new age and ‘90s trip hop were mutually exclusive vibes, as the latter hadn’t yet been rehabilitated as “cool” enough for the downbeat breaks gang, making this quartet of cuts effectively a kind of exercise in uchronic imaginative projection, where filtered jungle breaks and murky downbeats meet the jazzy, off-world optimism of ‘80s ambient.
Call it dirty ambient, a la O Yuki Conjugate, or a sort of spiritual successor to NYC illbient, the sound is grubbily appealing, finding a haunted sort of magic with the uncertain utopianism of ‘Rust’, and bridging lowkey ‘70s jazz-fusion lines of thought with smokier confutable needs in ‘Ah Bat Dee’, while ‘Winterhaze’ commits a unique fusion of Hassellian trumpet and shadow-strafing jungle breaks that really works a treat thanks to its gauzy mixing tekkerz, and ‘Daylight Savings’ flips the typical 4th world script to a subtly darker, quizzical agenda.
On their opulent first outing since 2015, the MVO Trio embrace negative space and dematerialised jazz dynamics for a sterling debut with Modern Recordings (Pat Metheny, Craig Armstrong, Hendrik Weber) and a new lineup that now includes Laurel Halo and German jazz drummer Heinrich Köbberling. V highly tipped if yr into Carl Craig's Innerzone Orchestra or Move D's Conjoint.
Typically rooted in extended, improvised jams, the lissom and grooving results were teased into their final form by Moritz at the mixing desk, where he imbues the playing with an effervescent spatial nuance and deftly spotlights its ear-catching peculiarities as the trio naturlly explore and inhabit the interstices of rolling Afrobeat structures, modal Detroit jazz/beatdown, and airy ECM minimalism.
Picking up in the ether where ‘Sounding Lines’ left off in 2015, the deep presence of erstwhile trio member Tony Allen (RIP) is adroitly channelled by Köbberling’s shuffling stick work, and decorated with blushing organ chords and vibes laid down by Moritz, who finds an ideal foil in Laurel Halo’s electronic gilding. In unison they hold a sublime tension that’s driving but floating, placid yet thizzing with cool energy as they cycle thru harmonically sonorous permutations of a dubwise jazz techno.
From the pointillistic percussion and vapours of the opener, the set arcs low and wide from passages of spiralling organ to swingeing depths, coalescing at the mid-way point with a proper jazz techno vibe recalling Moritz’s early works with Juan Atkins, and traveling to almost 4Hero-esque hi-tech jazz abstraction and back into the pocket with natty rhythms that resolve into proper, heads-up techno.
Exquisite deep house dembow pressure systems, edging on UKF, from the donny DJ Python.
DJ Python arrives here off the back of that killer Sangre Nueva session with Florentino and Kelman Duran for a cockle-warming round of sultry moods & grooves in his patented fusion of reggaeton’s offbeat tresillo triplets with NYC house depth and a soupçon of UK club flavour.
‘Angel’ is the absolute one, tilting tabla-like percussion and plush sub bumps into a gently hip-gripping slosh, smooched with dub-wise deep house chords for 11 minutes of dancefloor sex music. If you’re not eyes-shut and licking your lips after this one you may need to see a doctor.
We’re partial to the others, too; ’TMMD (IMMMD)’ lodges in the club somewhere between Cooly G and DJ Qu with with its nanometer-tight shuffle on the cusp of UKF and NYC styles, beautifully offset with vintage-sounding, subtly proggy IDMelodies that also inform the parting kiss-off ‘Club Sentimental Vol Three’, but at a slower angle, like BoC on beach holiday in the Caribbean, (fleeces on but at least partially unzipped).
Quiet “ambient” radical, claire rousay sifts her sensurreal style into a sublime and keenly awaited long player that carefully frays the fabric of time and space for Shelter Press. Gorgeous sounds that fall thru the cracks between Rachel’s, Mary Lattimore, Hiroshi Yoshimura, Machinefabriek, Oliver Coates and Julianna Barwick.
Lingering in the listing wake of her oneiric cartography ’17 Roles (All Mapped Out)’ (2021) and last year's breakthrough "A Softer Focus”, claire huddles with mates (Alex Cunningham (violin), mari maurice (electronics and violin), Marilu Donovan (harp), and Theodore Cale Schafer (piano)) on ‘Everything Perfect is Always Here’ - an exceedingly tactile investigation of the fissures between improvised/composed sound and waking/dream life.
rousay slips into a role of conductor or band-leader, arranging the elements provided by her collaborators into a golden hour glow of delicate harmony and emotional honesty. She works like a diarist, drawing out her life in soft colors and curlicues, accenting her reality with dream-like textures and crumbling environmental detritus. The orchestral elements tread between the warmth of American folk music and the glacial perfection of classical modernism - rousay is the guiding force, softening rough textures and spinning songs into humming pads and gentle breezes. Donovan's harp is particularly memorable, sitting above Rousay's hissing atmospheres like angels serenading from the clouds.
Finding an ideal home on Shelter Press, nestled among lower register prism pushers such as Felicia Atkinson, Andrew Pekler & Giuseppe Ielasi, claire’s music sprouts probing new forms with a diaristic intimacy that veils its natural, filigree handicraft. What we’re dealing with is effectively a form of beautifully unresolved dream architecture, weaving palpable signals of the everyday, such as voice notes and under-the-table location recordings, with airspun skeins of instrumental fabric that purl the prosaic into pure sound poetry.
As its title implies, claire acknowledges a magick that underlines the lived experience; hers, yours and ours. There’s an imperceptible transience at play that most succinctly nods to and brings Eliane Radigue’s time-lapsed sound images and the laminal rustles of Craig Tattersall into the dematerializing flux of 2022, feeling as though we’re snagged in imagined, liminal space between the clutter of too many open browser tabs and flutter of sounds from an open window. The effect evokes a gentle sensation of detached voyeurism as much as intimacy, and rewards repeated play with an exquisite insight to the marbling of the present moment.
Following his debut Large Plants single, a quirky psychedelic rock cover of Madonna's 'La Isla Bonita', Jack Sharp throws down a full album of contemporary analogue fluttered soundtrack rawk for Ghost Box.
If you think about it, Large Plants' debut album fits into the Ghost Box catalogue perfectly. While a rock album might initially feel counter to Ghost Box's quirksome mix of early electronic bleeps and whimsical folk, "The Carrier" exists in the same parallel Gen X fantasy timeline, all tape fluttered and soundtrack-indebted. The aesthetic is a little different, but the spirit remains the same.
"The Carrier" is Jack Sharp's debut Large Plants album, and was recorded after a writing frenzy during 2020's lockdown. The singer and guitarist for now defunct Jagjaguwar psych-rock act Wolf People, Large Plants was Sharp's attempt to go it alone, and continue his obsessive recreation of '70s rawk sounds unhindered by the rest of the band's desires. Like the cheeky Madonna-covering advance single, these songs are balanced on a knowing wink that acknowledges the juxtaposition of writing music like this in the 2020s.
Thankfully, Sharp's vocals just stop the music from tipping wholeheartedly into pastiche. His folksy qualities nod to sturdy British legends like Pentangle, reminding of a simpler, more analogue era. Like the rest of the Ghost Box output, then.
Autechre's classic third album from 1995, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
Completing the triumvirate of early Autechre essentials, Tri Repetae was the duo’s cranky contribution to mid ‘90s electronic music, and, like its predecessors - Incunabula and Amber - a record that completely defines certain aspects of that era for many, us included.
It’s possibly best known for including the peerless electro-trance swerve of Eutow - which could literally kill someone prone to AMSR in the right situations (not a bad way to gan) - whilst the rest of the LP cements some of Autechre’s sharpest, neck-snapping productions.
If you’ve only heard this album via download or streaming, or are only aware of their later gear, you’re in for a treat.
Extraordinary electronic inventions from keenly observed US composer Madalyn Merkey, following her nose for lushly synaesthetic sensation with a batch of lathered pulses and ingenious timbral convolutions for an ideal host, Mana.
Like a rare comet, Mills College alum Madalyn Merkey has memorably blipped our radar ever since her quietly intoxicating album ’Scent’ in 2012, with scant sightings over the interim for bijou label Chantal, and, more recently, on a string of self-releases. With ‘Puzzle Music’, Merkey pursues key interests in the quintessential malleability of electronic music, and its effect on perceptions of temporality, thru her remarkably attuned grasp of the Oberheimer Xpander analog synthesiser.
Urged by “the desire to create images out of diverse pieces of sound” she acts like a fleshly conduit for her machine, semiconsciously coaxing its softest thoughts into a sound-image that paints itself thru her finely-honed process “of placing sound shapes next to one another in the hope that clarity will gradually be revealed.” The results are, well, mana for the closer listener, yielding an unfathomably lush suite of Dali-esque melting chronology rent in dream-hued tones that call to mind aspects of David Behrman’s live electronic pursuits as much as Maggi Payne’s shatterproof synth gradients and the oneiric, shine-eyed nature of works by Teresa Winter and Orphan Fairytale.
Viewing the dynamics of her music here as “mechanisms in a timepiece”, Madalyn draws upon an obsession with Swiss watch-making for a genuinely fantastical suite of amorphous, atemporal innovation riddled with a dreamtime logic. In Madalyn’s world time feels to move forward, back and perpendicular to its usual arrow, diffracted in sloshing eddies and whorls that elegantly unfurl with classical music’s metric license, and prize the plastic, plasmic qualities of synthesised music. Following her thoughts on “gears turning”, her music comes to resemble a sort of arcane, spirit energy-driven antikythera mechanism undergoing its cryptic functions in an Atlantean crystal cave, spurting out what may be coordinates to a heavenly bullion or a path to one’s rarest pleasure centres.
From initial listens we’re completely floored with this one - a deliquescent, microcosmic synecdoche of sound set for cult acclaim, and a real landmark for 2022 and beyond.
Moody post-punk distortion and electric bagpipe drone weirdness from LA deathrock outsider Jimmy Smack.
'Death is Certain' is assembled from two 7"s (1982's "Death or Glory and 1983's "Death Rocks") and a single 12" (1982's "Anguish"), over which Los Angeles weirdo Jimmy Smack carved out his legend. Smack was notorious for performing in a kilt and boots - with his electrified bagpipes of course - in full corpse paint, a few years before that style would become co-opted by Euro black metal bands. He was a regular on LA's hardcore punk circuit, but his music sits alone from pretty much all else on the scene.
The set showcases Smack's bizarre sound, which he built around machine-gun drum machine rattles, bizarre bagpipe drones, and of course his horror movie-ready voice. It's hard to describe exactly what it sounds like - maybe Suicide crossed with The Damned, remixed by Container. Smack's drum machine parts are the most unexpected element; it sounds as if he's using a regular cheap rhythm box, but he abuses it wildly to vary the rhythm, turning it into an industrial power drill or a malfunctioning A/M radio.
Bizarre, invigorating aces.
Remastered collection covering Alan Vega & Marty Rev’s forty year career.
"Although the band barely received any credit during their career, Suicide are cited as one of the most inspirational bands of the 1970s, influencing the likes Soft Cell, Depeche Mode and The Jesus And Mary Chain, whilst garnering fans in Nick Cave, Jim Thirlwell, M.I.A., Spiritualized, Lydia Lunch, Bobby Gillespie and Savages to name a few.
The tracklisting, collated by Marty Rev, Liz Lamere, and Henry Rollins, includes tracks from their classic debut album, Suicide (1977), to their final outing, American Supreme (2002). The LP also features two brand new, unheard tracks Girl (Unreleased Version) and Frankie Teardrop (First Version). The package has been full remastered by Denis Blackham at Skye Mastering."
Nik Colk Void's debut solo album is a slippery blacklight synth diary of limber cold-wave muscle, improvised warehouse techno and grizzled neo-no-wave slop. RIYL Raime, Suicide, Not Waving, Chris and Cosey.
As a member of Factory Floor, Kaito, Carter Tutti Void (with Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti) and NVPR (with Peter Rehberg), Void has been churning out music at an impressive rate over the last few years, so it's kinda surprising that 'Bucked Up Space' is her first time going it alone. The album developed slowly as she combined her love of beat-driven music with experience gleaned from live shows, growing from diaristic improvisations dubbed in her home studio. As the record took shape, Void took the sketches to a studio in Margate and began to arrange and compose them more vigorously. The result is a set of flickering electro/no-wave/techno experiments that straddle all the various aspects of her collaborations thus far.
The album starts strong with 'Interruption is Good', a cavernous Berlin-style minimal slammer packed out with industrial-strength gloomy gated kicks and swirling dissonant synths. Void refuses to stay rooted in one place for long though, 'Big Breather' is crunchy, fragmented electro, and 'Denma' morphs into ecstatic near-Krautrock territory, with acidic electronics and sizzling beatbox loops. 'Romke' meanwhile is all melodic analog squelch - think Analord with an extra post-pandemic bite. But Void saves the best for last: 'Oversized' is the most convincing track on the album, matching gruesome corroded guitar loops with edgy, squashed beats for a sound that's lodged between Suicide, Raime and Jesu. Really good.
Uni Son is the new ‘nom de plume’ of Jonathan Pardon aka Just Nathan.
"Inspired by those 4AM dancefloor moments where all are one and the whole history of club music ‘Moments In Unity’ is a stunning debut on all accounts. Uni Son has his very own sound that takes in original deep house, Balearic, acid, ambient and a lot more and delivers an instant classic from start to finish that will appeal to a wide variety of ears and tastes. Time to unite, both on and off the dancefloor."
Italian media artist and musician Marco Monfardini, of '80s duo Minox, developed 'Detect' as an audio/visual project, attempting to decode inaudible sounds using electromagnetic emissions left by electronic devices. Glitchy, bass heavy business for fans of Alva Noto or Ryoji Ikeda.
The funny thing about electromagnetic interference is that it's happening all around us, and only becomes obvious when we have a device to tune into it. Monfardini was fascinated by this phenomenon, and on 'Detect' spends 14 tracks gilding the "digital micro waste" and transforming it into skeletal, sub-bass heavy, rhythmic sound art. It's impeccably produced stuff too, that betrays Monfardini's experience as a composer, producer and gallery artist, but maybe leans a little too far into the established Raster/Ikeda model to give too much back.
Recorded while living off-grid in a French village, Perila's debut album proper is a dissociated, erotically charged throb of curling vocals, glassy synths, creaking environmental concrète, brushed jazz drums and submerged, dubwise subs. Like early Grouper spliced with Kenji Kawai's ominous "Ring" soundtrack, then re-assembled by DJ Spooky, Jake Muir and Vladislav Delay >> it’s properly time warping gear that's ineffably beautiful without being precious or cute.
Since moving to Berlin from St. Petersburg six years ago, Aleksandra Zakharenko has developed a unique hue in the ambient music spectrum. Leagues from the club-adjacent ambient posturing that her adopted city has centered in recent years, Zakharenko's sonic universe is sensual, poetic and narcotic, using elements of musique concrète, drone, dub and noise to reflect a mushy sensitivity that's as mysterious as it is tangible. Her sound has been refined by constant collaboration and her work with Berlin Community Radio, where she assembled regular podcast WET (Weird Erotic Tension) - a fusion of surrealist ambient sound and erotic ASMR poetry. And while "How Much Time it is Between You and Me?" has mostly shelved the spoken word, this muggy air of eroticism still circles her silky drones and subtle rhythmic strokes.
Pinkish clouds of granulated harmony float above a groaning modernist cityscape, expressed in subtly manipulated environmental recordings and occasional rhythms. On 'Time Date', the trace of a beat emerges with the spectral presence of a phantom limb, bubbling eerily beneath muffled, deadpan vocals. Long, psychedelic centerpiece 'You Disappear You Find Yourself Again', levitates fluttering drones that eventually slip from the pineal into neck, activating jazzy fumbles that point towards NYC's long-overlooked illbient zone. 'Memories of Grass' takes another left turn, sounding like Grouper's blurry "Way Their Crept" stickytaped to Eno's fwd-thinking '80s FM synth experiments.
The album's gently vibrating mass of jellyfish hues, vocal shards, and uncannily amplified small sound straddles a fine line between the unresolved nature of her sound and a more poised, certain style of agoraphobic pastoralism, as though she’s absorbing the sights outside her window, while keeping her thoughts intimately indoors. From the evocative track titles to their textured strokes, everything drips with a poetic, synaesthetic sensuality, articulating her sound at its most effective - formulating a perfect listen for anyone who craves the unruly, radical sprawl of art in all its unpredictable, fleshy realism.
Originators of “dirty ambient”, OYC mark nearly 40 years of skin in the game with chiral volumes of beautifully brooding atmospheres by the long serving group’s Andrew Hulme and Roger Horberry.
‘A Tension of Opposites’ marks a contemporary high water mark of O Yuki Conjugate’s scattered, ongoing explorations since 1982, over which time they’ve graced some of post-punk and industrial music’s finest labels and seminal compilations such as Final Image’s ‘Nightlands’ suite and the ‘Insane Music’ series in 1987 - with tracks more recently appearing on sly sets from Light Sounds Dark. Currently in their 4th incarnation, which is coincidentally their original line-up, and following a burst of releases in each preceding decade, they stick to the quietly nerve-riding, improvised style at the core of what they do, taking cues from the experience of 2020 lockdown to conjure deliciously smeared synth textures and tones that arc from crepuscular, phosphorescing to scenes streaked with noctilucent thizz over the album’s 84’ arc.
The first half is all Roger Horberry’s work, created in isolation from his musical partner, and limning a palpable sense of sorrow and frustration with his machines. However, trust it’s not depressive, rather it’s more expressive of the zeitgeist, but informed by a timeless sense of chamber like melancholy balanced by hopeful melodies. In a stark contrast, Andrew Hulme mans the second half, condensing his thoughts into four durational darkside explorations pregnant with doom, yet allowing for moments of redemptive bliss between the shearing synth strings of ‘Unfolding’ and passages recalling The Sprawl’s techgnostic pads in ‘Entracement’, and the exquisite illbience of ‘I Don’t Know I’m Not a Dream’ calling to mind the oneiric sensuality of Cosey Fanni Tutti’s ‘Time To Tell’, perhaps an apt comparison as Hulme is currently helming the film adaptation of her incredible biography.
Holy fuck! Source Direct finally unleash the fabled ‘Snake Style 2’ to us mere mortals after many many many years when all we had was a dodgy youtube rip lifted off a Peshay mix. The absolute pinnacle of the form.
Rumoured to actually be the first version of 1995's “Snake Style” ’Snake Style 2’ deploys 8 minutes of absolutely relentless, rampant drums, hissing breakage and noirish samples wrapped in barbed wire ribbons likely to take your limbs off. It’s pure adrenalised energy and for our money one of the last great unreleased artefacts of the era - it’s been a secret weapon round here for years, we can barely believe it’s finally made it to wax.
‘Street Wars’ follows with what sounds like a production from their ‘Exorcise The Demons’ album sessions, pushing hard into the dankest, militant tech-step replete with bullying bass and industrial atmospheres that takes us back to thee darkest warehouse sessions, and ‘Diamonds’ follows suit with proper, paranoid echoes of ‘Technical Warfare’.
Whew, f big one.
'Broadcast and The Focus Group investigate Witch cults of the Radio Age' is a dream sequence of sonics for the Hauntology canon, pairing Ghost Box's Julian House, aka The Focus Group, with longtime favourites Broadcast for a head swirl of psychedelic sampling, wistful vocals and charming melodic ephemera with an ominous underlying tension.
If you're at all familiar with either artist/s you'll fast acknowledge they've achieved a well poised balance between their respective styles, with House's involvement leaning the project more towards abstracted, collage-like arrangements recalling the soundtracks to Nigel Keale's cult TV series 'Quatermass' and Brit horror flicks 'Terror' or 'Witchfinder General', while retaining Broadcast's intimate song structures with Trish Keenan's haunting vocals and original instrumentation. We won't even attempt to describe these tracks any further as their magic is so intense and densely woven that much closer inspection would be required before emabarking on such a task. Suffice to say that the artists involved here have shared a wonderfully unique vision that needs to be experienced in private and intimate settings for full effect, preferably with the lights dimmed low, and after the witching hour. An absolutely essential release, one of the finest you'll hear this year.
Aisha Devi's Danse Noire label reissues Gabber Modus Operandi's mindboggling combo of microtonal Balinese gamelan and screaming carnival gabber. Absolutely galaxy brain post-colonial hardfuzion free expression from one of the globe's most fascinating duos.
Originally released in 2018, Indonesian duo Gabber Modus Operandi's debut album "PUXXXIMAXXX" showed the world the artistic and political power of radical fusion. By bolting together trash culture, European hard dance hedonism, heavy metal/punk theatrics and Indonesian gamelan elements, Ican Harem and DJ Kasimyn came up with a "chaotic pastiche" that has by now surpassed its influences without losing its cutting sense of humor. If you heard 2019's "HOXXXYA" then you should have an idea of where GMO's interests lie - "PUXXXIMAXXX" is maybe more raw, more unhinged and even more flamingly carnivalesque. From the very beginning the duo make their intentions clear, wielding a wavering trumpet loop before adding 400bpm kicks that roll like a tidal wave over traditional Indonesian percussion like it's nothing at all.
There's no hesitance in Kasimyn and Harem's resolve, they take risks that should make most producers embarrassed. Think the Danes are putting a fresh spin on hard trance? Well listen to 'Pariah', that takes the "festival somewhere in the distance" supersaw sound and slathers it over rolling gabber kicks before disintegrating into wobbly, ambient ritual magick. 'Jathilan Titan' might be even better, wrapping those same trance leads in beating Indonesian percussion without losing the 7am-on-a-mystery-drug-cocktail essence of the 'ardkore experience. By the time we get to 'Goroxxx' with its swung rhythm and dense, chattering vocal mangles, there can be no denying that "PUXXXIMAXXX” is a unique proposition. While half of Europe is trying to recapture the sounds of a lost rave they never attended, GMO use the discarded shells of dance subgenres to cobble together a completely unique vanguard rave sound that doubles as a middle finger to the dull, aggy purists