Five years on from Space Is Only Noise, the once precocious composer Nico Jaar pursues that album’s blend of dancefloor mechanics, hip hop and ambient electronic pop into the more refined, layered designs of Sirens; its follow-up proper after dallying with Dave Harrington in Darkside and scoring/re-scoring films by Jacques Audiard and Sergei Parajanov, and even racking up BBC Radio 1’s mix of the year for his 2012 Essential Mix.
Whether weaving nods to Alice Coltrane with funereal torch song in Killing Time, or sounding like gothic Trentemøller doing clattery, jazzed-up D&B on The Governor, and even smoky ’50s doo-wop mixed with desiccated rocksteady groove in History Lesson, whose title is perhaps the earnest key to Sirens, Jaar’s 2nd album is slightly trickier to date than its predecessor, yet detectable nostalgic for another time and place.
We’re most attracted to its quieter moments, as with the ether drift of Leaves and its gauzy smudge of brass, strings and pads infiltrated with what we’ll assume is a sample of Nico as a child babbling to his famous father, making for a nice, innocent contrast with the rest of his earnest, pleading croons.
Vox Populi’s adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun, reworked by by Japan Blues, Tim Karbon, Hiroaki Oba and Shizka for the 2nd volume of ‘Field Works’
Howard Williams a.k.a. Japan Blues opens with a strolling, neon-lit rejig of ‘Chapter V’, marking up his 2nd outing of the year after a remix of Kufuki’s ‘Dodome EP’, while French producer Tim Karbon reworks ‘Chapter VI’ as a dextrously fluid fray of darting percussion and smeared arps for the canniest dancers.
Hiroaki Oba brings the vibe up to speed with debonaire ‘90s deep house styles in the satin smooth flow of their ‘Chapter VII’ remix, and Inoue Shirabe a.k.a. Shizka melts ‘Chapter VIIII’ as a mystic, airborne shimmy with effortlessly elegant results.
In 2016, after reissuing two Bruce Haack albums, Haackula and Electric Lucifer Book II, Telephone Explosion began speaking with Ted Pandel (Bruce’s lifelong friend and business partner) about working on the 1970 masterpiece The Electric Lucifer. It turned out there was another matter that he wanted to discuss: finding a final resting place for the Bruce Haack archive.
"We were shown test-pressings of The Electric Lucifer board mixes from his Columbia studio sessions, countless pieces of written music, a large number of personal photos, an invitation from Raymond Scott inviting Bruce to play his newly created Electronium instrument (now owned by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh), poems, press clippings, and, most importantly, a heavyduty shelf containing 213 reel-to-reel tapes.
All of the chosen material on The Preservation Tapes is unreleased, has only been heard by a handful of people and showcases a relatively unknown period in Bruce’s musical career where Bruce was recording for Sparrow Records (who billed themselves as "America's best Christian music record label”). Bruce’s signature Farad vocoder continues to feature prominently, but the lyrical content is decidedly more religious. The Bruce Haack archive is now resting in the Provincial Archives of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada."
'Phase 3 : Thones and Dominions' has been one of the more elusive Earth titles so it's great to see this oft-misunderstood gem back in circulation again.
'Phase 3' was a difficult album for Earth, and marked a transition period in between the drone-heavy 'Earth 2' and the classic rock styled 'Pentastar : In the Style of Demons'.
The album includes destructive drone tracks such as genre high point 'Tibetan Quaaludes' juxtaposed against rock riff-fests like 'Song 4'. I definitely don't have a problem with this, but I seem to remember at the time when 'Phase 3' hit the shelves in 1995 it garnered a hell of a lot of negative press from people expecting a rehash of 'Earth 2'.
'Phase 3' was never going to rework the style they had so carefully initiated, and hearing it agin now- it's a strong, powerful record and one which shows a band experimenting with sound and form.
The aforementioned 'Tibetan Quaaludes' was one of the finest pieces the band ever committed to wax, and the free-improv influenced 'Site Specific Carnivorous Occurrence' is another high point in their career. Some of these tracks were recently rediscovered and reworked on the fantastic remix compilation 'Legacy of Dissolution', which has led many to look at them under a different light, and quite rightly too.
Any Earth fans who don't own this need to add this underappreciated classic to their collection, and while this might not be the easiest intrduction to the band's catalogue; it's without a doubt worth a look.
Rump-pumpin’ house, Amsterdam-meets-Detroit style, from an incognito source.
A-side they ride a kinky pump with sheer metallic Detroit riffs and eccie-triggering pads for the all-night dancers, before the B-side settles down to a beatless organ cadence whisking off into an airborne shimmy by the track’s end, working as a nice transitional tool or end of night come-down for the DJs.
A first physical release at last for this album inspired by Sergei Parajanov’s Armenian masterpiece The Colour Of Pomegranates — even if some of the music was composed before Jaar watched it.
"Already for Jaar a private emblem of change and upheaval, the fruit is broken open in the film: its juice seeps into a cloth, like blood, making the shape of ancient Armenia on a map. In hundreds of such moments of cultural and poetic saturation (including numerous different associations for the pomegranate), and in the film’s biographical, episodic form, Jaar found confluent ground for intimate, teeming musical reflections about his own life and Palestinian-Chilean heritage. “It gave me a structure to follow and themes to stick to. It gave clarity to this music that was made mostly out of and through chaos. It also gave me the balls to put it out.”
‘Much of Jaar’s most elegant and touching melodic work is nestled here, its power residing in its simplicity and willingness to speak to the heart and not the mind of the listener, in the language of lyricism, freedom, and emotional resonance held in common by his many paths and projects."
Another sterling pick from Sacred Summits, Morgan Fisher’s charmingly playful 'Inside Satie'  sees its first ever vinyl reissue on Lindsay Todd and Stuart Leith’s cult label.
Morgan Fisher has had a storied career as part of ’60s one-hit wonders Love Affair, thru to playing keys for Mott The Hoople in the ‘70s, and working on ambient, improv and soundtracks in the ‘80s alongside Yoko Ono, Haruomi Hosono and Dip In The Pool.
Inside Satie was recorded in Japan following Fisher’s move from the UK in the mid ’80s. Perhaps a perfect fit for the sophisticates of Tokyo at the time, the album adapts Satie’s timeless minimalism to a mix of electronic and acoustic instruments, highlighting and feeding into the similarities between Gnossiene and Gymnopedie and the new age ambient zeitgeist of Japan in 1985.
As a meditation aid, a coffee table staple, and a historic artefact, Inside Satie is a beautiful and warmly satisfying document totally worthy of reappraisal in 2018.
Black Truffle present breathtaking, mind-bending works from Alvin Lucier; premiering a pair of pieces written for and performed by Oren Ambarchi and Stephen O’Malley (Sunn 0))), Æthenor), and released thru the former’s indomitable Black Truffle label. Lovers of life-affirming avant-garde music of all stripes need to stop what they’re doing and check this one, pronto!
Both works offer an extension of Lucier’s “elegant explorations of the behaviour of sound in physical space” which have been ongoing since the ’60s, and includes his best known work, I Am Sitting In A Room , a piece that has practically become required listening for anyone with an interest in 20th century avant-garde music thought and practice.
Specifically, Lucier’s work places great focus on the infidelities of instrumental phenomena and closely tuned pitches, often using pure, electronically generated oscillations in combination with single instruments in order to both highlight and blur their tonal and timbral distinctions. This LP documents two works in this vein, firstly on Criss Cross, his debut work for electric guitars, written especially for Ambarchi and O’Malley playing one semitone each in duo, and secondly on Hanover, a much grander tribute to Lucier’s father, Alvin A Lucier, who is pictured on the sleeve in 1918 with the Dartmouth Jazz band.
The A-side’s Criss Cross is truly one of the heaviest things we’ve heard in years. With Ambarchi on the left channel and O’Malley to the right, the duo improvise on a single semitone, generating thick, viscous waves of wobbling oscillations that merge in transfixing formation at the middle . So far, so simple, but the effect - which alters brilliantly on headphones or with proper amplification - is just staggering, baffling the senses with a richly saturated, undulating sonic pressure to visceral, psychotomimetic ends.
The first time we heard this piece on headphones it just floored us, but then we tried on speakers and tried to conduct a conversation at the same time. The effect was something like an anechoic chamber - the conversation couldn’t happen because our voices sounded louder in our head than in the room. WTF?! Just to push it one step farther, I also tried listening on headphones while on a plane, and can only imagine what the EasyJet staff thought of my eyes rolling in back of my skull. Quite honestly, I haven’t heard anything quite like it since Zbigniew Karkowsi & Topher Davidson’s Processor, and that’s a proper percy.
The B-side’s Hanover is just as precise, but the intensity and tonal variation is multiplied by he number of players, including O’Malley and Ambarchi on electric guitars joined by alto and tenor sax, violin, piano and bowed vibraphone. Here the tones are far more pinched and slippery, streaking the stereo field in iridescent timbral dynamics and almost lilting cadence, and with a far more delicate, intricate appeal when compared to the other piece.
It almost goes without saying that a new Alvin Lucier work is worth your time, but in case you’re under any doubts - this LP is just astonishing, ingenious, preternaturally brilliant stuff.
Finally, Roland Kayn’s breathtaking cybernetic salvo, ’Simultan’; one of the most important works by one of the 20th century's greatest (if unsung) composers; all newly remastered from original tapes and reissued for the first time since the original 1977 release by classical music label, Colosseum. Huge Recommendation for followers of work by Jaap Vink, Leo Küpper, Jim O’Rourke, Keith Fullerton-Whitman, Autechre, The Hafler Trio...
Italy’s Die Schachtel, following the lead of Frozen Reeds’ and their 16CD edition of ‘A Little Milky Way of Sound’ in 2017, have the honour of reintroducing ’Simultan’ into the wild. Presented to the highest possible standards on the format it was intended for, the unfeasibly complex dynamics and revelatory perceptive spaces opened up inside ’Simultan’ are bound to generate jaw-dropping reactions with Kayn's growing ranks of followers and even the most hard-to-please fans of outer-limit composition.
Collapsing ideas from electro-acoustic, concrète, electronic, and computer music disciplines into what he termed “cybernetic music”, Kayn methodically and effectively worked off-the-radar towards a form of Artificial Intelligence in music from 1962 until his death in 2011. Building on his earlier studies with seminal figures such as Boris Blacher and Oskar Sala (whose FX appeared on classic Hitchcock’s), as well as time spent playing organ and piano with Ennio Morricone and Egisto Macchi’s exploratory Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, Kayn devoted his life’s work toward realising what would become recognised among the most incredible, genuinely prism-pushing arrangements of sound ever recorded.
’Simultan’ is the first in a series of seminal Roland Kayn boxsets released between 1977 and his blinding masterpiece ’Tektra’ in 1984. While he had previously contributed ‘Cybernetics III’ to a Deutsche Grammofon split with Luigi Nono, ’Simultan’ was where Kayn’s ideas really came to fruition, and with results that practically document the birth of a new music, or a computer manifesting its first signs of sentience in sound.
Weighing in at six pieces clocking in at over two hours, it’s arguably a difficult, spasmodic birth when compared with the smoother contours and expansive arrangements of his subsequent releases, but that amorphous atonality and noisy unpredictability accounts for much of the attraction to ’Simultan’, which sounds like very little before it, or even since.
If you’re the insatiably curious, technically pedantic type, then many of your queries about Kayn’s music will be answered in the lucubrate liner notes included on the insert, which provide all the technical context one would need to know. But it’s better to just dive head-first into ’Simultan’ and let your head be consumed, dissolved into those micro-organismic diffusions and unfathomable chaos.
Mercifully this 2nd wind will prevail on further reissues of Kayn’s aforementioned run of boxsets up to and including ‘Tektra’. We advise making some space on your shelves and your calendar to spend some time with this incredible music.
Optimo on a roll with this this gobsmacking follow-up to the ace Iona Fortune LP and ‘Miracle Steps’ compilation
Penelope Trappes, a member of freak disco unit The Golden Filter, makes a spellbinding solo debut on Optimo Music with Penelope One; her chamber-like suite of deep blue songcraft about “being a mother in a dystopian world, with pensive words about swimming against the current as a female artist”.
Referencing the perceived freeness of Scott Walker and This Mortal Coil compositions, Penelope uses a minimal palette of mostly solo piano and FX to frame her spectral songs in a starkly beautiful sound which suggests, to our minds at least, a collaboration between Mazzy Star and Leyland Kirby, or Felicia Atkinson and HTRK writing for a Lynch soundtrack.
It’s a quintessentially adult and measured style, one porous to subtle atmospheric flaws and resolutely tempered with a calmness and plotted narrative that absorbs the listener like an episode of some American noir TV or film, and with a lingering, visual quality that likewise continues to phosphoresce in the mind beyond the credits reel.
A year’s worth of work is condensed into its 11, inch-perfect parts, all recorded in a small, rented piano practice room in London which she effectively turned into a sort of alternately vast and intimate floatation tank, using FX to defy its dimensions and give her thoughts acres of emulated room to breathe and manifest a genuinely sublimated sound.
Puppets opens with Penelope at the centre of wide, multi tracking herself into spare, airy dimensions of a Club Silence sound stage, with Gravel Mouth introducing a plaintive, modern blooze-soaked appeal in its trap tics and pealing guitar licks, establishing a pace and atmosphere for the album that percolates between its three gripping Untitled instrumentals and into majestic spaces such as Gone and the cracked fragility of The Hair Shirt, thru the slide guitar twang and sylvan R&B of Heartbreak, to the air-borne spectre of Low and the weightless, plasmic impression left with 9 Monkey.
It’s a truly remarkable album, womblike in its comforting sense of seclusion, and patiently awaiting your detached gaze and contemplation.
'Space Is Only Noise' is the first album by Nicolas Jaar.
By anyones estimations his arrival into the electronic music sphere has been unavoidable, receiving comparisons to Villalobos and AFX from The Guardian, providing one of Resident Advisor's most adventurous mixes to date and practically having Panorama Bar, Fabric and Bar25 eating out of his hands - all before he'd turned 20! His string of releases for the like-minded Wolf+Lamb Music and his own Clown & Sunset label besides remixes for Matthew Dear and Ellen Allien have defined his sound as purposefully slow, sensuous, and with a graceful maturity way beyond his years, all equally informed by HipHop and his Chilean heritage as he is House music and the furthest reaches of electronica.
Like the relatively recent pop/dance phenomena of Drag/Witch House, electronic Cumbias and Dubstep, his music signifies a sea change towards exaggerated energy efficiency, dropping the tempo to up the groove and deftly filling the space left behind with supremely sophisticated musical decisions drawing further comparisons to everyone from his beloved Satie and Mulatu Astatke to DJ Shadow. 'Space Is Only Noise' is far from being your conventional House music album and should be filed in your 'promising debut' stack.
An excellent Arvo Pärt primer...
"Arvo Pärt creates music of deceptive simplicity, and listening to his work can be a transformative experience. Imagine taking your ears on a retreat, and you’re some way to understanding why his work is so popular.
The Estonian composer underwent his own transformation in the 1970s, having explored dense avant-garde music in the early part of his career. He put himself through an eight-year creative exile, and emerged with a new, purer voice. The Arvo Pärt that many people are devoted to today (including R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Björk) creates music that cleanses. A sonic detox."
Magisterial, glacial, attention-demanding and powerful exposition of Buchla 200 synth tones mapped to acoustic woodwind and brass by a promising young composer; Stockholm’s Kali Malone. A strong tip to fans of work by Caterina Barbieri, Emptyset, Sarah Davachi.
Arriving in the resonating wake of her self-released solo début Velocity of Sleep , and flanked by the recently issued Organ Dirges 2016-2017 tape for Ascetic House, the Cast Of Mind LP gently but grandly expands the constellation of Kali Malone's solo releases, next to her Upper Glossa collaborations with Caterina Barbieri, a tape with Ellen Akrbro, and acclaimed live performances.
Joined by Yoann Durant (Alto Sax), Isak Hedtjärn (Bass Clarinet), Gabriella Varga Kalsson (Bassoon), and Mats Äleklint (Trombone), Kali’s Buchla 200 Synthesiser forms the basis for a quartet of diaphanous and slowly unfolding electro-acoustic landscapes that externalise a highly personalised form of emotive topography.
In the titular opener, wood and brass trace the swooning ellipses of Kali’s Buchla contours in stately procession suggesting a sort of resigned march to battle, before the Buchla appears to dominate in the warped streaks of Bondage To Formula, but listen closer and it’s harder to tell whether it’s electronic or organic sources so fully lending flesh to her rich sound field.
The answer to that question is much clearer in Arched To Hysteria, whose keening, hunched electronic forces hold powerful potential to conversely induce paranoia and heavily hypnagogic effects, whilst Empty The Belief yields a lustrous, Raga-like drone capturing a marriage of Buchla and bassoon at their most transcendent and steeply attractive.
This one should be filed for reference and safekeeping beside recent transmissions from Sarah Davachi, Anna Von Hausswolff, and Catarina Barbieri = properly good.
Rarely has an album owed so much to production... Low return with their most daring, experimental release in years, co-produced by James Blake's man at the controls B.J. Burton, at times verging on a layered, pulsing electronic sound you'd associate with the likes of Andy Stott. Doused in distortion, throbbing electronics, submerged vocals, side-chain effects - this could easily have been a nauseating exercise in modernisation; but instead the strength of the songwriting shines through for one of Low's best = a standout full-length for 2018.
"In 2018, Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.
This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fightsfor the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?"
Plush UK neo-soul from Eglo queen, Fatima, produced by Theo Parrish, Knxwledge and Floating Points and following 4 years since her debut LP, which was subsequently reissued in 2016 on Blue Note
“It's been four years since Eglo Records' Fatima released 2014's Blue Note-approved, critically acclaimed debut Yellow Memories. This September, the London- via -Stockholm, Sweden songstress, returns with her second album, And Yet It's All Love — an emotional, yet entertaining trip through the full cycle of a romantic relationship, told in Fatima's now-familiar soulful style.
From first singles "Somebody Else” and "Caught In A Lie" to "Waltz" and "Just To Hold You" — listeners are transported from first meet, the blinding honeymoon period and struggle right through to the break-up and eventual fallout. Once again, she calls on a talented array of producers and instrumentalists to paint that picture; from Stones Throw's MNDSGN, J.D Reid (Mabel, D Double E), Purist (Daupe), Taz Arnold (Kendrick Lamar), Swarvy and regular collaborator, Natureboy Flako.
Early support has already come from the likes of Gilles Peterson (BBC 6Music/Worldwide FM), Benji B (Radio 1 / 1Xtra), Toddla T, NTS Radio, Crack Magazine, Pitchfork and Resident Advisor. Up-and-coming San Francisco-based illustrator, sculptor and painter, Monica Kim Garza crafts the album artwork, placing one of her powerfully intimate nude paintings at its centre.
For the uninitiated, Fatima, has earned a reputation as one of the UK's most respected vocalists. Her debut LP Yellow Memories featured heavyweight collaborations with Floating Points, Theo Parrish and Anderson Paak producer Knxwledge. It was met with critical acclaim winning Gilles Peterson's 'Album Of The Year' at the 2014 Worldwide Awards as well as ranking No.10 in Rolling Stone Magazine's Top 20 R&B albums of the year before being re-released by the legendary Blue Note records.”
Steve Hauschildt’s grasp of synthesis reaches alchemical, intuitive levels of lushness in ‘Dissolvi’, keening towards a broadly appealing ambient-techno-pop sound without losing the enigmatic, abstract, deep space quality of previous efforts. It’s his finest achievement since striking solo from the influential Emeralds and, quite honestly, isn't a million miles away from late 90's IDM keeprs like Arovane's Atol Scrap. And on we go in circular motion...
“In search of the sublime, contemporary electronic musician Steve Hauschildt has designed grids and panoramas of sound across multiple releases through the rise and dissolution of his former band, Emeralds, an American touchstone of 2000s home-recorded psychedelic noise music. Consistent with his solo work is Hauschildt’s ability to coil his craft in precise, varied, and distinctly physical forms. Gently spinning arpeggios converse with post-industrial decay. Sonic fibers sway like pendulums from static melancholy to motorik bliss. Dissolvi, the artist’s first full-length with Ghostly International, engages sublimation from an ontological perspective: by dissociating the self. Hauschildt steps out from the singular path, for the first time in a traditional studio, to compose and arrange contributions from friends. As a result, his most collaborative work to date extends a vast, vibrating framework in which to consider the state of being.
The album's title — a reference to cupio dissolvi, the Latin phrase meaning "I wish to be dissolved" — needn't be taken one-dimensionally or as purely solipsistic. It does, however, serve an apt reference. Physiological phenomena are of interest to Hauschildt. These back-of-mind ruminations find their way out. Songs are cerebral in orientation, but beyond explanation, the music is truly visceral. Involuntary eye movement inspires the serene, sanguine-nearing-suspicious "Saccade." Hauschildt feathers soft percussion beneath the echoed refrains of Los Angeles musician Julianna Barwick, together shaping a svelte suggestion of the anxieties brought about by modern-day surveillance; if everyone is being watched constantly, there is no individual, no self, only a broadly monitored and clumsily cataloged populous. The work of Chicago poet Carl Sandburg comes to mind: “I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass.” The individual dissolves into the taxonomic crowd.
Minimalist techno impulses provide a stylistic through-line for Dissolvi. Understated synth phrases and drum grooves take hold in selective moments, like synchronistic structures onto which nebulous mists, like the rapturous voice of Gabrielle Herbst aka GABI on "Syncope," cling to and cloud, producing a dazzling rift in consciousness. The 7-minute centerpiece "Alienself" reiterates this creative logic, burbling like an amorphous body of water on a low-gravity planet, on the verge of dissolving, but never fully dematerializing. The album was constructed in Chicago (where Hauschildt now resides) and partially in New York. "Much of it was recorded in a windowless studio which removed elemental or seasonal references to time in the music," says Hauschildt. "The focus this time was on mixing the album and incorporating a broader set of instrumentation. I describe my compositional approach as being quasi-generative." Embracing new methods and philosophical curiosities, and in turn, expanding the range of his repertoire, Hauschildt proposes a fascinating and profoundly rich experience in listening, being, and deliquescing.”
‘Metal Aether’ showcases Lea Bertucci's role as a performer, revealing four pieces that represent approximately 3 years of ideas and gestures for alto saxophone and magnetic tape. Expanding on 2014’s ‘Light Silence, Dark Speech’ as well as 2015’s ‘Axis/Atlas,’ ‘Metal Aether’ develops a language of extended technique for alto saxophone that is based on a spectral, psychoacoustic, and non-linguistic approach to the instrument.
"Much like the recordings of her previous NNA release, ‘Metal Aether’ continues to explore Lea’s acute interest in the nature of acoustics and the harmonic accumulation of sound, with it’s four pieces having been recorded in Le Havre, France in a former military base, and in New York City, at ISSUE Project Room. With her horn, Lea produces pulsing minimalist patterns, transcendent drones, and upper register squalls that envelop these spaces in waves of overtones, microtones, and psychoacoustic effects. Tracks like “Accumulations” explore evocative, ancient-sounding melodic figures, while tracks like “Sustain and Dissolve” relish in the microtonal relationships between overlapping sustained notes. Aside from the saxophone, Bertucci further interacts with physical space by fortifying these pieces with manipulated field recordings from diverse locations, ranging from Mayan pyramids to NYC subways. Other instruments such as prepared piano and vibraphone can be heard on this album, processed through tape to unite melody and texture together as one. Lea displays a firm grasp of the inherent possibilities of sound manipulation to maximize her music’s power through the recording process itself, mixing conflicting fidelities to achieve a deeper, more organic form of expression.
Throughout 2017, Lea fully dedicated her creative efforts toward exploring and informing her music through a variety of disciplines. In addition to recording ‘Metal Aether,’ she wrote and performed during multiple residencies, toured rigorously throughout North America and Europe, organized site-specific sonic events with the SITE:SOUND series, and published her first book “The Tonebook,” a collection of graphic scores by 17 avant-garde composers. Through these endeavors, Lea immerses herself in the essential principles of true musicianship: study, performance, curation, literature, and experimentation. It is with these tools that she connects herself with sound in all of it’s forms – live, recorded, situational, natural, and unnatural. All of these elements come together to inform the pieces found on this album, creating a sophisticated, multi-faceted, and highly personal body of work. ‘Metal Aether’ feels like the defining statement from an artist in elevated control of their form – a summary of concepts, ideas, and emotions given life from one’s mind and heart. Lea demonstrates the desirable ability to use her art to sincerely communicate in a language of one’s own personal
Amazing jazz slab from Japan, 1983, feat drummer Takeo Moriyama and a crack squad of players. First time vinyl reissue (also available on CD) of a highly sought-after 2nd hand release
“BBE Music is proud to present the next instalment in the J Jazz Masterclass Series: ‘East Plants’ by Takeo Moriyama, one of Japan’s finest jazz drummers.
A genuine ‘under the radar’ album known only to a handful of Japanese jazz collectors, ‘East Plants’ is now available once more, reissued for the first time as a double 180g LP, with exact reproductions of the original artwork, obi strip and insert. It also comes with the original notes fully translated. ‘East Plants’ is also available as CD and digital formats. This reissue is fully endorsed by Takeo Moriyama himself.
Originally released in 1983 on the Japanese VAP label, ‘East Plants’ is an essential album in the J Jazz canon. It’s an album that distils several key characteristics of Moriyama’s music: clearly articulated and inventive rhythms, open yet orderly arrangements, and an accessible groove balanced with a graceful control.
‘East Plants’ features no piano, just percussion, bass and reeds. From the luxurious raga-like build of the album’s hypnotic title track and the fierce post-bop workout of ‘Fields’, to the stately modal track ‘Kaze’ ( as featured on the sell-out BBE compilation, ‘J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1968-1984’), the album was, until now, a rarely acknowledged masterpiece. ‘East Plants’ shows Moriyama’s quintet at their most transcendent: delicate layers of percussion by Yoji Sadanari, a warm and pliant bass from Hideki Mochizuki, with colour and texture provided by the eloquent reed work of Shuichi Enomoto and Toshiko Inoue. And, overseeing it all, Moriyama’s discreet yet commanding drumming.
The BBE J Jazz Masterclass Series is curated by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden and is dedicated to presenting the very finest in Japanese jazz. The series will feature rare, long-lost and unreleased material presented in the highest quality reproductions of the original releases, fully licensed and authorised.”
Australian/Ukranian techno survivor Tim Jackiw unfurls in classic, lustrous, romantic style on Offworld Records - the same home of his coveted debut 12” ‘Science Of Sound Volume One’ over 20 years ago.
All material was produced and recorded 1994-1996 and beautifully reprises the sincerely intimate yet astrally scoped vibe of his diamond debut, rolling from the purring bass weight and lump-in-throat pads of ‘Half Moon’ thru the silvery moonlit house of ‘Waves (Lost Mix)’, to the Dan Curtin-esque rude depth of ‘Night Watch’ and the sci-fi romance of ‘Tears In Rain’ with deeply satisfying verve and timeless appeal.
Keith Fullerton Whitman never ceases to impress with his seemingly endless understanding of musical references and ability to flit from the most personally affecting music to constructions of an altogether more playful nature.
His "Playthroughs" album for Kranky is still one of the most played entries in our late-night listening pile and so every new release graced with his name is a bit of an event for us.
"Schoner Flussengel" is another vinyl-only release, following up last year's excellent "Antithesis" LP, stretching into six tracks of dense layering and momentarily spacious acoustic sequencing.Utilising processed, textured drones to computer-guitar-piano trio, two of the tracks here also feature the vcs3 synthesizer recorded at Soma in Chicago during 2001 with the aid of Casey Rice and John McEntire (Tortoise).
Not for the first time, but arguably the most significant, Pye Corner Audio crosses paths with Ghost Box for his first LP of 2016; a narcotically hypnagogic and dystopian trip entitled Stasis.
At least one leap year cycle since his last album with the GB’s, Sleep Games, right now this one feels like a stygian trudge into bleakest futures, operating at such a stoned pace that it moves slower than actual time, and by submitting to its temporal warp we’re allowed to regress back into a pre-digital epoch of paranoid cold, or even civil war atmospheres and paranoia.
It could almost be the soundtrack to a Ben Wheatley flick (low budget, not the over-glossy high rise) about British time travellers, forgoing Dr. Who queso for a more hard-boiled, furtive vibe about anachronistic assassins sent back to kill Nigel Farage at birth, only to uncover that he’s part of an exceedingly dangerous non-human race with ties to Johnson, Cameron and all the other pebble-people, so they round them all up and lock them in a hostel in Middlesbrough with a broken kettle and packet of poisoned monster munch between the lot.
Of course, that fantasy is all set to a soundtrack of wistful electronic mists and pulsating arpeggios that could be right out of some late ‘70s / early ‘80s synth library, and ultimately shows that whilst technology has advanced in the meantime, that ostensibly archaic music still reflects an underlying eldritch darkness contemporary and relevant to both eras, then and now.
‘Mandy’ is the exceptional final soundtrack realised by dearly departed composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for the film directed by Panos Cosmatos. A supporting cast of Stephen O’Malley, Kreng and Yair Elazar Glotman, plus production from Randall Dunn ensure a majestic final missive and one of the most rich and varied releases in Jóhannsson's canon, taking in elements of metal, drone and doom ambient, even retro-futuristic synth work...
With a crack squad including O’Malley on guitar and additional production from gifted sound designers Randall Dunn, Pepijn Caudron (Kreng) and Berlin’s Yair Elazar Glotman (Ketev), the results lurk like blinking red eyes in a dense nocturnal forest, swarming in formation from widescreen romance to petrifying, plangent cues and pockets of heart-sinking gloom, saving the gnashing guitars for when their bite is felt strongest, but equally knowing how to send shivers shooting down the spine in moments of sublime, contrasting relief on the ‘Memories’ theme.
Jóhannsson's deft approach to sonic extremities is the real eye opener here; far removed from the emotionally driven demands of his more mainstream work for hollywood, here we're taken through grinding, industrial metal scrapes one minute and insanely rich ambient textures the next - with no concession to soaring emotional cues. Not that Jóhannsson ever really succumbed to much of that; but nonetheless - it’s a total pleasure to hear him reach into those darker recesses on Mandy - a soundtrack that’s likely to be remembered as one of his best.
R.I.P to a true master.
Following that eye-opening box set on Vinyl On Demand and the crucial I Don't Remember Now / I Don't Want To Talk About It and Plaster Falling reissues, Superior Viaduct give life to John Bender’s third and final album Pop Surgery, recorded in 1982 and once again demonstrating Bender as one of the most inspiring discoveries of 1980’s sprawling wave scene.
"While all of Bender’s work draws from intimate home recordings—featuring the artist alone with various keyboards, analogue sequencers and tape delays—Pop Surgery remains the one that perhaps best distills his arrant deconstruction of the “pop” concept. These twelve frenetic tracks, meticulously stitched together with dubbed-out vocals and disjointed drum machines, stretch the boundaries of bedroom electronics.
Bender would forgo the handmade LP sleeves typical of his Record Sluts imprint. The cover depicts an imposing scrapyard crane, ready to pick up discarded objects with its bright red electromagnet, while the center labels détourn Columbia’s classic ’70s style.
“I pressed a single run of 500 copies,” Bender recounts. “The only review I remember railed at the poor production quality. The DIY era had clearly come to an end.”
Antithesis is taken from Keith Fullerton Whitman archives, featuring ensemble works featuring instruments played by Whitman himself with no computer interaction.
Each piece was recorded in one of the different apartments Whitman has rented since he lived in Boston and broadens the instrumental and compositional base of 'Playthroughs' with fender rhodes piano, viola, guitar and percussion.
The four tracks on the album verge from straight up drone to what sound like lost krautrock classics.
Steve Hauschildt follows his eponymous 2013 compendium for Editions Mego with this romantic lush-out for Kranky.
Hauschildt's first proper solo release since the group disbanded in 2012, 'Where is Fled' charts an alchemical, emotional spectrum of synthetic and natural timbre/spirit within 14 tracks of symphonic swell and resolution infused with processed crowd noise, piano and animal noises. Wandering its sleek gradients in headphones whilst looking at the album sleeve's CGI artwork feels like taking a mooch in No Man's Sky accompanied by the perpetually shifty looking Enya, pointing out new plants on far-flung planets while she coyly glances away, only to morph into Vangelis before scuttling away after a giant pink squirrel and leaving us with that most intangible sensation - am I dreaming or is this a Steve Hauschildt album?
Seattle-based stepper Homemade Weapons does dense, tense D&B for Samurai Music
Check for the hyperventilating, needle-point precision of ‘Subcept (RIP)’ and the crafty drum funk torsion of ‘Paroxysm’ with Torana.
Sister collection to “The Flesh Creeping Gonzoid & Other Imaginary Creatures.” Studio out-takes, deleted obscurities, compilation appearances and vinyl and download releases.
The DVD included is an extended version of the very limited DVDR of “Life Is An Empty Place”. (N.B: DVD may not play in all territories – it is REGION 2). All discs are over 75 minutes in length and feature a wealth of previously unreleased material. The discs are housed in individual card sleeves. Box includes a 4 page insert with the track-listing. Limited to 500.
A momentous celebration of one of the last century’s most important composers, offering insight, recognition, and critical investigation, long overdue and lovingly produced. Including an extensive, lavish 120 page book, with numerous unseen images and 10 historic, sought-after and impossible to find albums pressed on 180 gram vinyl - unquestionably one of the most beautiful and important archival releases of the year.
The perfect jump-off for anyone intrigued or beguiled by Lucier’s oeuvre and looking for a way in, ‘Illuminated by the Moon’ was recorded in October 2016 at the Alvin Lucier 85th Birthday Festival at the Zurich University of the Arts and spans pioneering classics such as ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’  thru to his recent piece for Stephen O’Malley and Oren Ambarchi, ‘Hanover’. Along with a fistful of rare works, it adds up to an unprecedented, overdue survey of Lucier’s cross-disciplinary efforts in locating the metaphysics of sound in minimalism, and is arguably the most crucial boxset of 2018 alongside Roland Kayn’s immense ’Simultan’ session.
In deliberate depth and detail, ‘Illuminated by the Moon’ highlights Lucier’s intersections with pivotal contemporaries including Joan La Barbera and Charles Curtis, right up to his work with disciples such as Sunn 0)))’s Stephen O’Malley and virtuoso minimalist Oren Ambarchi, each proving, where needed, evidence of a deeply focussed yet open-minded approach to the phenomenology of acoustic sound.
From ostensibly simple units of sound Lucier extrapolates incredible, otherworldly dimensions, using various extended techniques and recording methods to probe ideas of auditory and musical reception and perception. In historical context, he wasn’t the only artist doing so back then, as the likes of Steve Reich with ‘Come Out’, or his group mates Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley and David Behrman in Sonic Arts Union also explored hybrids of text/speech/composition, but Lucier’s work stands out for its enduring patience and subtle playfulness in its transformative transitions of texture and tone, highlighted here in his liminal, tip-of-tongue take on ‘Nothing Is Real (Strawberry Fields Forever)’ , and the absorbing roil of his percussive piece, ‘Music For Solo Performer’ .
As with the most recent work on show, including ‘Hanover’ and a number of modern compositions from 2002-2016 with Joan La Barbera and young American cellist Charles Curtis, Lucier’s work has only grown more intently focussed and transcendent over the years and has quietly shifted the understanding of what music can be; laying a mark on history and the expectations of nearly everything to come, while radically expanding the field.
Japanese composer/demi-god Ryuichi Sakamoto presents an exquisitely oneiric and elusively spiritual new album inspired as much by the sound sculptures of Harry Bertoia as the magic of Andrei Tarkovsky’s seminal septet of celluloid classics.
It’s been some years since Sakamoto has placed his name at the top of a solo album proper - as opposed to his swathes of collaborations and film scores - and we can promise that the results herein are definitely worth the wait.
Imagined and realised after a period of fright with his health, Async captures Mr. Sakamoto at his most wistful and wonderful, meditating on the existentialist, ontological themes and atmospheres of Tarkovsky’s work from both a gauzily impressionistic aspect, and a quite literal one, employing readings of Tarkovsky’s poetry (poem transcribed in the liner notes) in a variety of languages from a coterie of contemporaries including long time collaborators David Sylvian, Bernardo Bertolucci (for whom he composed the OST for The Last Emperor) and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), among others.
Embracing both the fluidity and flux of Tarkovsky’s water analogies as well as the harmonic chaos of Harry Bertoia’s lush metal rod clangour, Sakamoto melds feather touch acoustic keys with field recordings, shimmering electronic patinas and signature synthesiser flourishes in a suite that beautifully lives up to and even transcends its influences, revealing some of the most achingly emotive yet often abrasive and abstract work in a catalogue now spanning over 40 years of exemplary work.
Beyond maybe Scott Walker, we can hardly think of another artist who has continued to expand their oeuvre over such a long period of time, and with an appeal quite like this, albeit respectively unique to their work. But Sakamoto really is in a league of his own here, utterly absorbing us with the dappled keys, organ haze and stereo starting doom synths of Andata, thru the stark Sonambient emulations of Disintegration to the romance of ZURE and the almost Toshiya Tsunoda-esque sensitivity of his field recordings woven into Walker or Honj, with humbling moments to be discovered in the switch from disorienting cinematic dialogue in Fullmoon to the legit Ligeti style violence of Async, and again in the curdled chromatics of FF and the Gas-eous swells swirling about Garden.
The long awaited Remix album, featuring reworks from Andy Stott, Oneohtrix Point Never, Electric Youth, Alva Noto, Arca, Motion Graphics, Fennesz, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Yves Tumor, S U R V I V E and Cornelius...
We shouldn’t have to be writing this, but naturally the Jóhann Jóhannsson remix of Solari takes on a much darker shade of blue in light of his recent, untimely passing, yet it equally stands out as the LP’s most uncannily suggestive highlight. R.I.P..
Elsewhere, Yves Tumor can be trusted to handle Zure with a sensitively suspenseful sort of R&B/quasi-ambient breakbeat flip, while Andy Stott feathers Life, Life into an elegiac airborne waltz, Alva Noto catches Disintegration in a sublime, quiescent state, and Arca lends his own, original, tortured torch song vocal and windswept beat to a rework of Async with utterly heart-breaking impact. Yelp, this one really gets us.
One of Japan’s most revered ambient/deep house/jazz heads shares his sublimely elegant early material with Music From Memory on Early Tape Works 1986-1993 Vol.1. In good company amid the groundswell of reissued Japanese classics and obscurities currently in circulation, this collection gives a smart overview of an artist who is still active and pivotal to modern scenes, as opposed to long over the hill, and demonstrates that the classy integrity of Takahashi’s approach to sound has been there since the start of his oeuvre.
Check it for sweetest ambient treats in his languorous ace Day Dreams, as well as the pulsing kosmiche lift of You Should Believe, featuring a brilliant but as yet uncredited female vocal, and the ruder industrial/EBM styles of Signifie and Zero To One, which relate to his streak of EBM releases as DRP for Dirk Ivens’ Body Records.
"The Japanese producer and DJ Kuniyuki Takahashi is the subject of Music From Memory’s latest retrospective compilation with ‘Early Tape Works - 1986-1993’. Composed of two volumes, the compilations gather together a selection of tracks from a tiny run of privately released tape only albums, highlighting a fascinating early period in Kuniyuki’s musical output, one of which little is known.
After discovering the world of nightclubs in Japan around 1986, and the seemingly boundless freedom expressed there through music as well as art, Kuniyuki became inspired to experiment with electronic music. Excited by the possibilities of new music technology, he would begin to gather together a number of, at that time, reasonably accessible and inexpensive local keyboards, drum computers and recording equipment. This became for Kuniyuki a way in which to explore music not as such made for nightclubs, but certainly inspired by them. Setting up a home studio in his hometown of Saporro, Kuniyuki would record extensively during this period with the equipment he had gathered together, equipment such as Roland’s Juno60, TR-606, TB-303, Casio FZ-1, Korg 770, Boss DE-200, Foster A8 and a Yamaha MT44 track cassette recorder.
Driven to develop a musical language derived as much by an exploration of music technology and a desire to create new sounds, Kuniyuki was also looking to evolve the possibilities of what he refers to as a ‘new Oriental sound’. Early Tape Works - 1986-1993’ then brings together two albums of material which not only highlights the evolution of Kuniyuki’s own work but also of Japanese electronic music as a whole."
Skull Disco reaches it's final catalogue number with the final nail in the coffin on 'Soundboy's Gravestone Gets Desecrated By Vandals', collating the final few 12" releases on the first CD, and a selection of accompanying remixes from the likes of T++, Rupture, Geiom, Brendon Moeller, and Bass Clef on an additional second CD.
Over the course of three years the label has come to define a very dark corner of the dubstep related universe, finding fans in unexpected places, from Ricardo Villalobos and Cassy at the housier end of the spectrum and T++ showing love from the techno end. The first CD opens with the dystopian classic 'The Rope Tightens' by the maverick Shackleton, with a horrific echo chamber lockdown featuring vocals from longtime Skull Disco affiliate Tenfold Vengeance, and moves onto later collaborations between Appleblim and Peverelist on their lauded 'Circling'.
Shackleton's smacky voodoo dancer 'Death Is Not Final' is included, alongside the undulating drum workout 'You Bring Me Down' as well as Appleblim's now classic 'Vansan' making it's first appearance on CD. The second set is about as fresh as it gets, starting with T++'s techno enhanced remix of 'Vansan' and further cementing the Berlin connection with Pole's spatialized dub-scape version of Shack's 'Shortwave'. Peverelist's remix of 'You Bring Me Down' is surely one of the finest dubstepXtechno tracks of the year and is also included alongside the stunning T++ revision of Shack's 'Death Is Not Final', surely one of the tracs of year full stop! The most surprising remix comes from badawi, with a previously unreleased rethink of 'The Rope Tightens'. Raz Mesinai sticks with the original's extended format, but rewires it with a technofied yet meditative version that sounds like 'Polaroid' or 'Cern' era Monolake mixed with sound design approaching Peter Rehberg's frosty scapes for the KTL project. The depth and scope on this one can only be fully appreciated at home on a good system with all the lights out, or equally in a dark warehouse setting, this is riddimic futurism at it's finest.
A final mention must be given to the terrific artwork from the mind of Zeke Clough beamed directly from a tower somewhere in deepest darkest Salford, applying the final but essential touch to a stunning package.
Samurai’s relative label newcomers form a phalanx of mutant grey area styles on Part 5 of the label’s Decade anniversary plates
The Untouchables follow up their debut album with the blunted dread halfstep rolige of ‘Zaku’ alongside the grimy pressure of ‘Khans Of Takir’ by Shiken Hanzo.
Last Life open out with a pendulous skank on the swollen subs of ‘The Worst Awakening’, and Es.tereo holds down the bone-rattling tribalism, ‘LV426’.
Autechre weigh in the labyrinthine 8 hour ‘NTS Sessions’, parsing the guts of their hard drives for gold and other precious materials dating back to 2011
The duo were initially commissioned to do a DJ residency on NTS, following their show from early 2016, but what transpired is closer in approach and results to a super extended Peel Session, featuring stacks of reworked material along with exclusive new notions generated by their infamous ‘System’ of software patches.
Given so much time to roam, they explore a full spectrum of meters, tones and alien machine feels ranging from succinct hyper-symphonies to an hour long closing passage of unfathomably deep ambient music, all sequenced with a non-linear narrative arc influenced by the stunning 3rd series of Twin Peaks, and with distant echoes of their seminal, freeform Disengage shows for Kiss firmly in mind.
Call it an album, call it a radio show, call it a massive excuse to lock yourself away for 8 hours, either way ‘NTS Sessions’ is a vital dispatch from the North Face models, with material such as the squirming tech-step of ‘North Spiral’ and the slimy electro of ‘Four Of Seven’ from the 1st session, or the footwork-esque ‘Gonk Tuf Hi’ from the 2nd, and the free-floating structures of ‘Cluster Casual’ off the 3rd volume offering some deeply satisfying rhythmic convolutions for the dancers, whereas the preponderance of durational cuts, including highlights such as the hour long ‘All End’, the breathtaking visions of ‘Turbine Epic Casual, Stpl Idle’, and the plasmic wormhole of ’Shimripl Casual’ reach deep into the most abstract, amorphous nooks of their sound in a way comparable with visionary work from Roland Kayn or Iannis Xenakis.
In other words, it’s fuucking mint.
Gigi Masin, Jonny Nash and Marco Sterk reconvene their soothing Gaussian Curve trio with a faithfully mellow and utopian suite of ambient lounge jazz themes for Music From Memory. Bath time music
“The Distance is a different musical beats to its predecessor, but shares the same timeless, emotion-rich feel that made Clouds such a hit. While the fundamental ingredients remain the same - Masin’s masterly piano and synthesiser work, Nash’s blissful, meandering guitar lines, and Stewrk’s synths, drum machines and production - The Distance is an album brimming with fresh ideas, and more complex musical arrangements. It’s the sound of three confident collaborators crafting magical musical moments in their own unique way.
This expansive new approach can be heard on “T.O.R”, where Nash’s haunting trumpet and hazy guitars wrap themselves around the kind of hypnotic piano and synth patterns that were once the preserve of American minimalist composers, in the gently breezy positivity of “Ginger Lemon”, and in the loved-up chord progressions and bubbly electronic beats of “Last Breath”. Close your eyes, and you’ll also hear it amongst the sunrise shuffle of “The Distance”, Masin’s hushed vocals on “Smile For Me”, and within the kosmiche influenced sensuality of “Birthday Song”.”
Penelope Trappes follows her head-turning debut solo LP with two beautifully gloomy songs, backed with an Abul Mogard remix on CD
Paving the way for ‘Penelope Two’, the follow-up to her acclaimed eponymous debut with Optimo, ‘Carry Me’ is a sashay thru bleak and funereal downbeats, leavened only by the glowing filament of Penelope’s lilt, whereas on ‘I Can Hear Your…’ she speaks to the void in stark yet intimate terms, with whispered lyrics peeling off into sonorous negative relief.
Serbian synthesist and all round enigma Abul Mogard turns ‘Carry Me’ into a 13 minute drone panorama, incrementally ratcheting the tension of the original with an opiated gothic lushness akin to Alessandro Cortini’s finest.
Eighteen months since their first issue, Woe To The Septic Heart!'s long delayed 2nd release finally dawns upon us.
Comprising entirely new and previously unreleased Shackleton material - including collaborations with vocalist Vengeance Tenfold and musical spars Andreas Gerth (Tied & Tickled Trio) and Kingsuk Biswas (Bedouin Ascent) - it's also his most shocking and invigorating body of work. What strikes us first and foremost is the newfound vitality and visceral impact of his sound here. Any signature murk is replaced with a lysergic lucidity and rendered in widescreen 3D that consumes the senses with ultra-vivid potential.
The CD entitled 'Music For The Quiet Hour' features your venerated protagonist and his mystical interpreter, Vengeance Tenfold in the extended format we've long wished to hear them, astral projecting cut-up passages of Tenfold's apocalypse-baiting text over five meticulously crafted sonic topographies which stretch to the periphery of the mind's eye and ever further into inky blackness. This combination of poetry/spoken word and dark ambience clearly calls to mind Deathprod's 'Reference Frequencies', but the choking bass pressure and timbral cadence are innately Shackleton, just presented in a vital new form. But, perhaps the most subtle yet striking new element is the wheezing, scaling tonal spectrum siphoned through the Italian drawbar organ module which inspired the title of 'The Drawbar Organ EPs'.
Effectively forming an album in their own right, it's here that we find more condensed, rhythmically structured episodes reminding of his recent live shows - which are, in our humble opinion, the finest in the world right now. Meditating on late '60s/early '70s Reich-ian rhythm phasing, stained with carmine Italian horror vibes, driven by wanton Junglist and post-punk torque and enveloped by a universal consciousness alluding to Alice Coltrane, it will take longer than we have right now for these tracks to settle in fully, but we can assure you that they're of the rarest, most precious substance. Unmissable.
After a revelatory 1st volume, Mule Musiq supremo Kuniyuki Takahashi (Koss) digs deeper into his archive, comes out with some sweetly gauzy gems on Early Tape Works 1986-1993 Vol.2
Tessellating perfectly with Music From Memory’s catalogue of obscure riches, this set unfurls seven works ranging from the faded seaside scenery of Island to romantic, chintzy downstrokes on Your Home, and stripped down Sakamoto-esque gestures on Asia. At its apex, Echoes Of The Past blushes a totally sublime colour of Adult Contemporary synth-jazz, leading to the Lynchian atmosphere of Ai Iro, and cascading harps and water sounds in Sakura No Mizu, and closes out with the cinematic panorama of Imagination, which strongly recalls the finest moments of Ensemble Economique, or what he was referencing, at least.
Like the first set, we advise you not to sleep on this stuff.
From hitherto little-known niches, Music From Memory pluck a reel gem of bright, warm and colourful electro-dub written in St. Louis, Missouri, 1989, yet, for all intents and purposes sounding perfectly out-of-time-and-place.
If we’re playing musical DNA, Workdub could be a close, younger cousin of Eno + Hassell and YMO, or an older, not-often-seen sibling to Max D and Actress, pretty much slotting right between their respective styles as sweetly as you could hope for.
Out of a matrix of programmed drum computers and hand-played percussions, plus MIDI-synched synths and canny recording trickery, Workdub’s debut record reveals lush windows on a wide, crisp and clean spheres, effortlessly, deftly carrying its weight from the quick-stepping but laid-back shuffle of Island Breeze thru the piquant strings and swanging roto-bass of Caravan, and into ancient electro dimensions with The Odyssey and a breathtakingly spacious remodelling of Caravan.
With a responsive rig, a bit of sunshine, and the right crowd, these tunes will melt the best ‘floors.
Music From Memory blindside again with an unprecedented survey of Geoffrey Landers’ home-baked avant-pop-funk and more experimental dabs of ambient jazz, abstract electronics
“Music From Memory's final compilation of 2017 sees the release of the double album “1 by 1”, which brings together the works of American experimental musician Geoffrey Landers. During a period spanning from 1979 to 1987, this Denver, Colorado based multi-instrumentalist, composer, record producer and engineer, conceived several solo albums. Only two of these, “The Ever Decimal Pulse” and “Habitual Features” along with the single “Breedlove” were ever released on vinyl.
.Being heavily involved in the local industrial/punk/new wave scene and wanting to create a recording studio “available to record artists regardless of their financial circumstances” Landers set up “The Packing House Studio” in 1981. This analog 8-track recording facility was located in a former slaughterhouse in the stockyards of Denver and was a place of significant activity for the next three years with the studio releasing recordings from numerous artists most notably Allen Ginsberg.
It was here that Geoffrey Landers also started his own aptly named “Cauhaus” label. Indicative of the underground/DIYculture, “Cauhaus” was a subsiduary of a label called Local Anaesthetics which was started as an in-store label by independent Denver record store Wax Trax. Typically Cauhaus releases were only pressed up in small quantities and independently distributed, making Lander's music essentially elusive to a wide audience. After relocating in 1984 to an art district of Denver Landers opened the “Cauhaus Institute of Recording” studio where he continued to produce music for soundtracks, art and multi media projects for the next three years, after which Landers stepped out of the music industry entirely. He currently creates and exhibits mixed-media glass art.
Throughout the twenty tracks of "1 by 1", of which six previously appeared on CD only, we are submerged into a wide diversity of musical approaches from Geoffrey Landers. From the proto-house track “Logarhythms” and the heart breaking New-Wave Boogie/Funk of “Say You’ll Say So” to the more contemplative pieces such as the oriental insprired “Nisei” and the drenched in sunshine dub/reggae track “Mack” Landers shies away from musical expectations again and again; searching continually for innovative and new forms of expression.”
Music For Memory stun again with a first-ever reissue/compilation of The System’s sublime new wave pop; immaculately conceived in Birmingham, UK, 1983, but clearly overlooked ever since.
The System EP is set to seduce all comers to its incredible, prototypical pop charms and exquisite production, which yet again makes us question how much uncovered gold is still out there, or at least awaiting a 2nd wind in MFM’s Amsterdam bank.
Featuring three cuts from The System’s sole album, plus a previously unreleased gem, this is a first class example of early ‘80s pop at its most refined, emotive and technically progressive, largely thanks to the skilful studio chops of producer Bob Lamb, who’s hailed in the promo text as a “somewhat cult figure in Birmingham’s music history” who, perhaps unsurprisingly - when considering the strengths of these tunes - also worked on the earliest releases from Duran Duran and also produced UB40’s debut album.
Bearing all that in mind, it’s a wonder that The System are so unknown, but it also explains why original copies of their only LP now trade for a lot of money 2nd hand, especially once you’ve tasted the divine pleasures of Almost Grown or danced to the remarkable proto-Detroit-meets-Junior Boys dream pop of Vampirella.
Techno/Power Ambient boffin Peder Mannerfelt appears on Cera Khin’s Lazy Tapes for a typically skizzy and brilliant session called The Screws That Hold The World Together.
The follow-up to Cera’s sought-after split mixtapes with Ossia and Christoph De Babalon gives up three original Peder Mannerfelt works oscillating from a mad, raved-up confection of hypnotic vocal loops, clanking drums and burning ‘ardcore strings in Shining Beacons of Light, to go all radiant and blissed out with the spatial-tonal metamorphosis of The Toad, and then diffracting dub chords and frazzled jazz drum breaks in Every Day Had a Number.
We’ll spare you another gush about the quality of Peder’s sound, but suffice it to say this one is heavily satisfying, as to be expected.
Gossamer dream-pop and wistful balearic strokes from Arturs Liepiņš and Anete Stuce’s Domenique Dumont for Antinote, reprising the midas touch of their acclaimed début, ‘Comme Ça’  with big highlights in the gently percolated pop of ‘Sans Cesse, Mon Cheri’ and ‘Le Debut De La Fin’
“August 2018: It’s already been three years since Domenique Dumont made its entrance in the music world with a debut EP named Comme Ca. Despite a seemingly very quiet musical activity (the opening song to Antinote’s compilation Five Years Of Loving Notes was the only song released by the band in 3 years) a few things have changed in-between these two summers: Domenique Dumont is no more the mysterious lone French producer we introduced last time but a Latvian duo, Arturs Liepins and Anete Stuce, which has been collaborating with “an enigmatic French artist whose existence cannot be confirmed nor denied” (sorry, but it sounds like there’s still some mystery in the air, and, again, we’re just as clueless as you might be), the duo have been touring live and, most importantly, they kept on broadening their musical palette experimenting in a definitely pop field. Eight of these experiments are now tied together in Miniatures de Auto Rhythm.
The record probably begins where Comme Ca ended: frantic but light drum programing backbones a solar and slightly melancholic melody on Le Début De La Fin (“the beginning of the end”). However, the scope gets enlarged as soon as one reaches the second tune, Quasi Quasi, or Quand, on the flip side, perhaps the most overtly pop-rock oriented song on the record with its Mediterranean guitar and emotional bridge.
The road towards the apex of the record, Le Soleil Dans Le Monde, is a narrow and windy one, punctuated by toy instrumentals like Ono Mambo Haiku or the Donkey Kong Country-friendly Message Of The Diving Bird; however it never departs from its original tongue-in-cheek attitude. It’s quite pleasant to imagine these eight “miniatures” as field recordings from an enchanted world of pop music designed by some Pierre & Gilles’ disciples – or are there
musical interpretations of half-mechanical, half-organic creations from a certain Otto Rhiesem (who might have inhabited the Locus Solus villa)? There might be no definitive answers to this second set of riddles by Domenique Dumont.”
Oosh! Academy LPs present this reissue of a scorching Ghanaian Afro-funk/Highlife classic from 1975 packed with infectious percussion, horns, hammond organ hooks and grunts from the main man, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley!
Original copies on the legendary Essiebons label go for hundreds of £££, once you've checked the intro to 'Kwaakwaa' you'll likely be smitten.
Music From Memory follow up the enchanting Suso Sáiz retrospective Odisea with a far more recent survey of the Spanish ambient and new age pioneer’s contemporary output, Rainworks; spanning wistful ambient vignettes to mind-engulfing drone, brittle concrète and drifting solo piano studies commissioned and written in 2016.
Highly regarded for his work with Orquesta De Las Nubes and Música Esporádica for Grabaciones Accidentales (home to Finis Africae, Luids Delgado, Randomize) in the early-mid ‘80s, Sáiz has followed that path ever since, resulting collaborations with Steve Roach and dozens more releases over the interim.
Rainworks finds him still feeling out a sublime, etheric otherness, bringing to life a series of atmospheric pressure systems with a deft, elemental touch in key with the original commission from Hidraulica, Tenerife (Canary Islands), gradually expanding and contracting in ambition from the opening arabesque to the abstract yet richly evocative tract of A Rainy Afternoon at the album’s perimeter.
For their first multi-artist compilation, Music From Memory take us on a trip to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1978-1992 is a double LP that explores the outer reaches of Brazilian music, where indigenous rhythms mix with synthesizers and where MPB mingles with drum computers.
"As Brazil faced the last years of its military dictatorship and transition to democracy, a generation of forward-thinking musicians developed an alternative vision of Brazilian music and culture. They embraced traditionally shunned electronic production methods and infused their music with elements of ambient, jazz-fusion, and minimalism. At the same time they referenced the musical forms and spirituality of indigenous tribes from the Amazon. The music they produced was a complex and mesmerising tapestry that vividly evoked Brazilian landscapes and simultaneously reached out to the world beyond its borders.
.The product of extensive research, this compilation is a unique introduction to this visionary music and features many fresh discoveries in a country well trodden by record diggers. It gathers tracks from obscure albums that have for too long been neglected by even the most avid collectors of Brazilian music. It includes now highly sought after music by Andréa Daltro, Maria Rita, and Fernando Falcão, as well as unknown gems like those of Cinema, Carlinhos Santos, and Anno Luz. This is an essential release that reveals a broader spectrum of Brazilian music, striking a unique sonic signature that is full of innovation, experimentation, and beauty.
Compiled by John Gómez and featuring extensive liner notes, Outro Tempo showcases this overlooked corner in Brazil’s rich music history for the first time."
'Versions' leaves out the vocal accompaniment and exposes the production as it drifts off into instrumental effervescence...
This second breathtaking CD leaves out the vocal accompaniment and exposes the terryfingly deep Basic Channel production as it drifts off into instrumental effervescance. The hallmarks are all there; Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald have already set the world ablaze once, twice, three, four times with their work as Basic Channel and the splintering into microscopic, heavyweight offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix. It's hard to over-emphasise just how important their music has been to us over the last two decades and, for that matter, just how substantial their impact has had on everything that has taken place in electronic music since.
Following convention, each of these labels has offered a catalogue up on record (in this case 10" releases) before compiling the music. This is, in fact, the second Burial Mix compilation, the first "showcase" concentrating on the label's collaborations with Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, for its opening set of releases. This second installment divides itself into Vocal and Instrumental "Versions" (the Vocal tracks are collected seperately on a second release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon"), and features a by-now totally classic collection of tracks that in their time have all been singles of the week for us here.
Just thinking of the majestic exuberance of "King in My Empire", or the breathtaking space of "Making Histroy" makes it hard to fathom how this material hasn't really aged a day in all these years...
(Suburban Knight + DJ Pierre’s Wild Pitch Mixes) ÷ King Tubby x X³ = Basic Channel’s Q1.1. Or something. Stone cold essential techno classic. As ever; mastered and cut at Dubplates & Mastering, pressed at Pallas.
Music From Memory mine more gold from Michal Turtle’s archive of idiosyncratic home recordings made in Croydon between 1983-85. Combining vocals like a pre-echo of Dale Cornish, together with the dreamiest electro-jazz, balmy ambient dub and languid 4th world grooves, this one has breezy summer days and long warms nights written all over its blissed out face.
“Delving further into the archives of British musician Michal Turtle, MFM 029 ‘Return To Jeka’ brings together eight previously unreleased works recorded between 1983 and 1985. Drawn from a larger archive of works the compilation highlights a fascinating period of material Michal recorded after the release of his only album.
Working as an accompanist musician at the Laban Centre in New Cross at the time, Michal there met Jonathan Smart who was currently studying Dance. After being invited to add spoken word vocals to a few of Michal’s tracks, Michal discovered Jonathan was also an accomplished guitarist; and Jonathan would add guitar to a number of recordings from this period. Vocalist Lucianne Lassalle who Michal was working with in locals bands ‘The Duplicates’ and ‘The Wicked Kitchen Staff’ and who had worked with Michal on recordings for his album, would also collaborate with Michal during this period.
While some tracks were produced with he idea in mind of a follow up to his album ‘Music From The Living Room which UK label Shout proposed but which would sadly not materialise, others were in fact demos written for student dance choreographies. Produced in the living room of his parents home in Croydon, South London and later in his apartment in Camden Town, Michal Turtle’s home recordings featured on’Return To Jeka’ continue his unique musical explorations; drawing extensively on the use of percussion and electronics they bring together elements which were not only in many aspects visionary but also sound like little else.”
Surprise drop from Shackleton, his first of 2018, following up ’Behind The Glass’ on this Woe To The Septic Heart! label
There’s a discernible Far Eastern bent to both tracks, nodding in the direction of Indonesian percussive styles from Uwalmassa or Senyawa, but still with that outernational nous that also lends it to comparison with Ekuka’s Ugandan thumb piano recordings or Psychic Warriors of Gaia style tribal techno.
‘Furnace of Guts’ is a mercurial, polychromatic flow of stuttering voices, glinting high register percussion and wriggling bottom end feathered into increasingly noisy, knotted formations, while ‘Wakefulness and Obsession’ is more potently hypnotic, droning and viscous.