Omar-S’ FXHE chase abundant acclaim for last year's Hi-Tech album with a strong introduction to Detroit rap squad Dastardly Kids.
Seemingly outta nowhere, Sonny Dulphi & Pat2Dope aka Dastardly Kids arrive fully formed with ‘Delinquent’, extending an unmissable invitation to a late night Motor City rap style that feels like a downbeat counterpoint to Hi-Tech. That similarity is attributable to the fact Dastardly Kids’ Sonny Dulphi is cousin to Hi-Tech’s Milf Melly, and on broader level emblematic of classic Detroit energies, variously recalling Andrés aka DJ Dez’s lo-slung instrumental ruggedness and the weirdness of Kemetrix (Urban Tribe) or his 100 Limousines label mates K-6000, while mired in a dank moodiness comparable to Three 6 Mafia and the tight clack of Clipse.
Aye this is the real sh*t, relaying the post-apocalyptic scapes and sci-fi tense paranoia of Detroit at night in eight succinct shots. Stately symphonic soul strings are chopped to ruggedest effect on ‘4 Ever Dastardly’, and ‘Bu$$ The Bank’ hits the horrocore sweetspot, next to a killer highlight of trilling kicks in ‘Pesos’, next tothe very MF Doom styles of ‘Gag Reflex’ and an ode to getting noshed off in ‘Dastardly Love Song’, with that lo-slung Detroit energy glowing in ‘Bodies Drop’, beside the red-eyed pressure of ‘All I Wanna’ and signature darkside Detroit crankiness of ‘What U Here Foe’.
Reissue of an album originally released in 1982, 'Song of the Bailing Man' is an ‘inspired, invigorating, confounding, disturbing... yeah, one hell of a swinging way to go.
"Still the futility Ubu must have felt making far sighted music in a chronically near-sighted world is pressed hard into these grooves.’ (Melody Maker, David Fricke).
Crack soundtrack duo Salisbury & Barrow supply haunting choral drones and atmospheric colour to Alex Garland’s psychological thriller feature on horrors lurking in the english countryside.
By our estimation their 9th soundtrack after working together since 2012, the pair’s score to ‘Men’ follows their work with Alex Garland on ‘Ex-Machina’ (2015), and subsequent acclaim for their work on ‘Black Mirror: Men Against Fire’ (2016), and Ben Whateley’s ‘Free Fire’, with a fine grasp of bleakly eldritch english folk horror manifest in haunted church chorales, gloaming synths and an all-together clammy chill.
There are some atmospheric similarities with Mark Jenkin’s recent soundtrack to his own film, ‘Enys Men’ and even the unnerving stasis of ‘Sapphire & Steel’ and ’Children of the Stones’ to our lugs, but that’s maybe more simply defined to non-english people as the sort of strangeness of this blighted part of the isle that makes us look and act fucking weird, like we have faces coming out of our faces.
London hyper-connector label Accidental Meetings hustle exclusive work by Jay Glass Dubs’ Wild Terrier Orchestra, Rupert Clervaux, Susu Laroche, Bruce, Luke Lund, FUMU, Ausschuss, Dijit, memotone, Giant Swan’s Robin Stewart and more in aid of charity for victims of the Pakistan floods
Converging from myriad disciplines, the artists on board all channel a certain mix of self-reflective solemnity, intensity and optimism into their musics here. We’re particularly struck by the cold tonal abstraction and grind of Bruce’s away day ‘Self Doubt’, and likewise the haunting shape of Abu Ama’s trampling Arabic drums, charred drone and ululations on ‘Away With You’, the anxious grapple of FUMU on ‘Tougher than Dartmoor Tundra’, and a pair of meditative wonders pivoting around Dimitris Papadatos in the autotuned dub prayer ‘The Creatures in Defence’ as Jay Glass Dubs with X. YPNO, or the radiant microtonal ritualism to ‘Osman Takas’ by his Wild Terrier Orchestra.
Egypt’s Youth affiliate Dijit also charms with the sitar-laced illbient downstroke of ’Sharq’, MAL’s Ausschuss lays down gravelly drill shades away from Mobbs in ‘True Partner’, and Angel Hunt serves a set highlight of Arabic-inflected 2-step on ‘Rainham Steel’, chiming with club-adjacent tackle in Luke Lund’s Beau Wanzer-esque grinder ‘Imposter (Bristol Action)’, the Muslimgauze-like percussive rattle of Rupert Clervaux an HMOT’s ‘Zum F/F’, plus Livity Sound paralleling rhythmic workout from Saskia and the restless uptempo slug of Robin Stewart .
Lifted & Beautiful Swimmers’ Max D pairs two sought-after EPs of mutant house and broken beats from 2014-15 in one spangled package for the dancers and DJs
Originally issued by The Trilogy Tapes and Off Minor, now on Max’s Future Times, the eight cuts add up to snapshot of a time and place that still resounds in 2023. With Beautiful Swimmers, solo, and his programming of the Future Times label, Max’s work was key to the unlocking of US house music’s grooves during the late ‘00s and into the ‘10s.
While the parameters of what became known as lo-fi house have calcified into tropes and meme-ification in recent years, back then it was a playground for the ideas of those who grew up with myriad strains of dance music. Max’s crafty take on deep house, broken beats, weirdo boogie and even Washington go-go held among the fruitiest, most distinctive, and enduring examples of that scene, as displayed generously here.
We’re talking brilliantly spannered machine funk in the lather of ‘Immunity’, and footwork jazz resembling Pekka Airaksinen in ’She’, air-stepping jazz-funk paving the way for his ace Lifted project in ‘Oshima Flicks’, plus percolated Chicago deep house meets go-go wiggle in ‘Circles Bubbles’ and ‘Calvin & Hobbes’ and a sort of freakish Detroit techno like Shake’s most wigged out jams in ‘Zsa Flex Cathedral’ to remind everyone of Max D’s creative brilliance.
Jewelled Antler Collective lynchpin Loren Chasse teams up with AKTI Records boss Juho Toivonen on this levitational set of bubbling environmental recordings and clouded ambience.
Loren Chasse is one of those artists who we feel never got his due. Based in Portland, he's been responsible for too much music thats reverberations are felt but not always seen clearly. While everyone and their dog might be slapping Zoom-recorded twig crunches over detuned zithers and conch shell improvisations in 2023, Chasse was setting the standard back in the late 1990s, shoehorning free-thinking abstraction and deep listening concepts into the New Weird America movement. "ACLOD" retains that spirit completely, and here Chasse is working alongside young Finnish musician Toivonen who sounds like not only a devotee of Chasse but also of his related local scene. Toivonen re-released Chasse's 1998 field recording album "Synthesis of Neglected Places" on his AKTI label, and the two began to shuttle music back and forth, processing recordings from Washington and Finland and developing this lengthy, pillowy composition.
The good news is it's a masterclass that doesn't grandstand in any way, it simply shows us what so many contemporary artists that attempt this style (and there are a lot) miss so unvaryingly. As might be expected, the environmental recordings are sublime. Not iPhone notes clippies of backyard frolics, they're detailed captures of fascinating outdoor sounds: rushing water, submerged clunks, sticks, stones and cracking bones. And the more musical elements the duo fold into their narrative are subdued and effective. Diaphanous drones are hard to come by in these trying times, but Chasse and Toivonen know that magic happens when you restrain yourself and cut sounds down to the bare minimum. The chiming sine waves sound as if they're growing out of nature itself, electronic but completely biological somehow. If yr into Sugai Ken, Lieven Martens, christina vantzou or crys cole, you'll need this one.
Mexico City's Lao joins forces with TSVI on 'Sendero', twisting Latin club rhythms with trap percussion and throbbing dark trance risers. RIYL Nick León, Manuka Honey or Siu Mata.
Lao's always been a reliable presence on the CDMX club circuit, and he turns the dial clockwise on 'Sendero', materializing with a coherent dungeon dembow template. It's tempting to head to the pair of TSVI collaborations first, and they're worth the asking price. 'Pandora' is surprisingly low-key, a froth of chop snares and serrated oscillator jabs, while the title track makes more of a footprint, hammering acid-sloshed trance arpeggios to a heaving dembow thud, leaving room for polite savegame euphoria in the liminal spaces.
But it's the rest of the record we're most excited about. Lao's own 'Caña Trece' is a sly belter, pushing the tempo up (fans of Siu Mata's "Speed Dembow" series will be pleased with this one) and playing fast and loose with the Eurodance signaling. If there's a better fusion of tribal and warped '90s trance we've yet to hear it. DJ Fucci collaboration 'Alarma' might be the EP's edgiest cut, leading us into darkness with zonked synth FX and a surprisingly skeletal beat that builds into and inverted drop. Clever.
Sick death metal mixtape mayhem from cult duo Scheich In China for the reliably uncompromising V I S label - a must if you clocked that DKR pearl for The Trilogy Tapes, the $hotta Hardcore session, or just for anyone attuned to the meditative wonder of music at the extremities.
As you might have clocked from Scheich In China’s logo or the intense gnarr of their music, death and black metal is a key touchstone for Alsen Rau and Philipp Meiers’ duo. On ‘Death Mix’ they explore that influence in-depth across 90 minutes of white-out blizzard axe work and hell-for-leather vocals that are making the flu throat wince right now.
Perhaps it's a symptom of growing up with replays of a strobed-out roadhouse or maybe it's the counter-intuitive link between relentless metal riffage and meditative drone - but we find this shit healing / life affirming to the extreme - an acceleration of energy that in our mind at least blurs into an almost Raga-like singularity that makes us feel zoned out and v alive. You still with us? get this tape, it’s the shit.
Overproof early singles survey of Black Uhuru, led by the mellifluous Michael Rose and underlined by Sly & Robbie’s deadly rhythm section
’Showcase’ shells seven early singles recorded between Black Uhuru’s formation in 1972 and up to 1978, when they had achieved international acclaim to a sound that would reverberate far beyond Jamaica to inspire everyone from disco dancers in NYC to London punks like PiL or The Clash.
Reissued on Sly & Robbie’s Taxi, which would soon after become incorporated to Island Records - where the drums & bass section would help define that decade with work for Grace Jones and on their own - the set spills over with foundational aces cascading from the heads-down skank of ‘Leaving to Zion’ thru the reggae disco-ready bop ‘Plastic Smile’, taking in the locked-down bluesy stepper ‘General Penitentiary’, the bubbling brilliance of ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’, the evergreen earworm of ’Shine Eye’, the effortlessly charming ‘Natural Reggae Beat’ benefitting from Sly & Robbie’s classic boops and Rose’s finest croon.
YOUTH are back in town on a 3rd Sports volume packed with exclusive chops from Michael J. Blood, Rat Heart, Sockethead, pigbaby, FUMU, and Iueke, plus new cats Craig Birrel and Zesknel among many others.
Programmed by footie-mad graphic designer/DJ, Andrew Lyster, ’Sports 3’ casts a wide net over work by Youth label friends and extended family with results limning a dead cranky conception of club music and blooz/beatdown pressure. All sharing a taste for texture that sounds like the masters were left to decompose for winter, the 16 cuts map odd gooches and ginnels of the contemporary soundsphere from the washed-out jazz reminiscence of Zesknel next to harder-to-place works such as the metallic cyborgian slug of ‘Driesh’ by Craig Birrel, or the groggy breaks of ‘Cocaine’ from HR For Drug Dealers.
Pigbaby plays the game with a highlight of midnight keys on ‘Far From Home’, and we spy a zinger from Sockethead on the feral yowl of ‘Coarse Ground’, while Dave Saved keeps it slanted on ‘Abisso 66’ and into a super glum one by the still enigmatic Yugen Disciple. That sense of entropy also infects the set’s more energetic bits, as with the PointilisticT arp flight of ’T’ by S, and the drowning struggle of ‘When It Rains (It Pours)’ from Significant Other complementing the worn out acid trample of Iueke’s ‘Videoslash’ and Jessic*nt’s murky stealth bomb ‘Manic/Panic’. Rat Heart, Michael J. Blood x Sockethead unsurprisingly steal the show on the slow cymbal-crash blooz of ‘True’, and the album ends with Lyster’s own VIP of NW / HR tripped & screwed hardcore submersion.
High grade digital lovers rock zinger from Melody Beecher, shuffling on the heels of her amazing George Michael version with a cover of Errol Dunkley’s ‘Movie Star’ originally released on Brooklyn label Witty in 1987.
Running strictly bullets, the necessary reissue of Melody’s diamond-cut ‘Movie Star’ pulls versions from the dead hard-to-find 12” and 7” for a definitive edition sure to reach more ears than the OGs. Calling to mind classic Horace Andy and his work with Massive Attack, the title tune comes in mellifluous vocal, robust dub, and 12” disco mix to extend the pleasure of Melody’s glyding vox and the rhythms tuff digital crack, eased off with sparkling DX7-like chimes and chords. Flawless diamonds all the way.
Featuring a startling guest turn from Kuwaiti vocalist Gumar, Fatima Al Qadiri's new EP develops the themes explored on 'Medieval Femme', setting opulent vocals against willowy, plasticated electronics.
2021's 'Medieval Femme' felt like a carefully decorative interweaving of each strand of Al Qadiri's artistic practice. Using Medieval poetry as her inspiration, the veteran Hyperdub polymath was able to invoke "a simulated daydream through the metaphor of an Islamic garden", employing a sonic palette that blended her early vaporous post-club experimentation and her latter day work as an in-demand film composer.
'Gumar' expands the plot, letting it grow into new shapes with the assistance of the eponymous singer, whose name means "moon" in Arabic. The duo's touchstone for this fleeting set of lamentations is the traditional music both grew up with, and the music Gumar was formally trained in as a teenager. Piercing in ways that feel almost inhuman, it's a body of songs that considers the pain of unrequited love - a familiar topic for anyone who's spent time poring over Arabic music and poetry.
Gumar's heartfelt vocals provide the record with its emotional anchor, but Al Qadiri's compositional restraint and precise engineering gifts the songs exactly what they need in order to soar. Finely pinched strings and orchestral thuds furnish a backdrop of disquieting polish. We know these sounds - we've been well prepped by the last decade plus of streaming drama and inverted Hollywood excess - and Al Qadiri uses our preconceptions to toy with our emotions like a puppetmaster. If big budget Hollywood hacks like Hans Zimmer and his team of lackeys can belch out Orientalist noodles to spec within a moment's notice, Al Qadiri is asking us to rethink what these sonic motifs might mean when re-appropriated and used to hint at deeper, darker truths.
'Motik (Your Waves)' takes a different approach, harking back to Al Qadiri's gummiest early material (think 'Vatican Vibes') using acidic synths to suggest well-lit neoteric rooms with baffling sacred geometry. Gumar's vocals rise and fall in classical curves, shocking sadness with majestic romance and slicing into love with loss's razor. Al Qadiri approaches the song construction with the tension control of a DJ, filtering it to muted silence and pulling it back to a crushing crescendo. She leads us out with 'Meriem', a quiet meditation that gives us a moment to consider everything we just heard.
ATL outfit Algiers line up a startling crew of collaborators on their explosive fourth album, including DeForrest Brown Jr., billy woods, Zack De La Rocha, Nadah El Shazly and Big Rube.
A few weeks ago we were treated to King Vision Ultra's 'Shook World', an ambitious deconstruction/reconstruction of 'Shook' that tore apart the unreleased album's stems and fashioned them into a temporally-rooted loveletter to New York City. Now we get to hear the proper album, Algiers' latest co-mingling of radical politics and fringe musical obsessions that spirals thru post-punk, doom jazz, DIY noise, '80s electro and hip-hop landing somewhere rare and isolated. The personnel the band have managed to assemble is jaw-dropping, frankly - while getting KVU involved was an inspired move, they've extended a hand to plenty more of the contemporary avant garde's most intriguing operators. Dungeon Family's Big Rube shows up immediately on the day zero rap-inspired 'Everybody Shatter', bringing along the same ATL energy he imparted on OutKast's LPs and fixing modern-day knowhow to and oldschool flow over Algiers' knowingly saturated sutras.
The back-and-forth between Franklin James Fisher and the album's throng of guest vocalists offers "Shook" a unique buzz. On '73%' the band boil with punk-funk intensity thanks to Fisher's furious delivery, while Griselda's billy woods helps twist the gravelly 'Bite Back' into a skeletal reflection of the Atoms Family/Cannibal Ox wave of psychedelic East Coast hip-hop. Zambian-Canadian rapper Backxwash steps up too, interrupting woods' anxious flow and Fisher's impassioned wails with her serrated horrorcore flow. Longer tracks are broken up by Algiers' short-form experiments (like the DJ Premier-inspired 'Cleanse Your Guilt Here' and distorted answerphone tape 'All You See Is...'), so when more developed long-form ideas emerge they hit even harder. Egyptian jazz futurist Nadah El Shazly lends her voice to 'Cold World', crooning over lumpen sampled beats and tape-mangled synths, while theorist and rhythmanalyst DeForrest Brown Jr. speaks softly over Patrick Shiroishi's curved horn wails on 'An Echophonic Soul'.
Each track feels as if it embodies a different color in Algiers' hyperchromatic spectrum - if there's a coherent thought it's that we need to think of it like a mixtape. With this in mind, "Shook World" makes so much more sense - do yerself a favor and bag both.
A box set collection of the first five albums released by the celebrated Factory Classical imprint in 1989, featuring modern classical works composed by Benjamin Britten, Elliott Carter, Paul Hindemith, Theodore Lalliet, Gyorgy Ligeti, Steve Martland, Olivier Messiaen, Francis Poulenc, Dmitri Shostakovich and Michael Tippett.
As Tony WIlson himself explained in an interview with the NME, 1989
"One of the best things about Factory starting a classical label is that as a pop label we pioneered the classical look of record covers without pictures of the groups on them. Now, as a classical label, we can pioneer the pop look of records with pictures of the musicians on the front. The idea that I had in mind was people like Peter Saville, the Factory designer, and his girlfriend - art school kids brought up with Bowie and Roxy Music, into punk, maybe they find acid house interesting, but they're looking for something else. For people like them or younger, there is no easy way into classical music, because it's all quite exclusive, they're scarcely likely to read Gramophone magazine, or make head or tail of it if they did. Ideally what I'd like to do is establish some setting in which people like the Kreisler Orchestra could play, that would suit them better and the circuit they get involved in, because there is such a limited sense of contemporary classical music in this country. If you go anywhere else in Europe, classical music is much more central to the culture than it is in England. Here there are so many barriers of class which prevent people from simply appreciating it. If we can break some of those down, I think we will have done a good thing."
This edition comes in a clamshell box set that includes a 24 page booklet featuring the original Factory commissioned liner notes from 1989, as well as a contemporary essay by writer Stuart Huggett and an interview with Tony Wilson. Each individual CD is housed in a card wallet which reproduces the original artwork by designers Peter Saville, Trevor Key, Ben Kelly, Mark Farrow, Neville Brody and Trevor Johnson. The 5 CDs have been newly re-mastered in 2022 by Peter Beckmann at Technology Works. Curated by Durutti Column viola player John Metcalfe, the performers include the Kreisler String Orchestra, German pianist Rolf Hind, The Duke Quartet and oboist Robin Williams, with Steve Martland’s material performed by Residentie Orkest Den Haag and pianists Gerard Bouwhuis and Cees Van Zeeland.
Properly absorbing electronic enigmas from Zaheer Gulamhusein (Xvarr, Waswaas) and Justin Tripp (Georgia), following their noses down the rabbit hole into aether-chamber interzones adjacent to Coil, Conrad Schnitzler, Werkbund, and Jeff Mills’ deep space missions.
A strong case of two artists transcending the sum of their parts, String present an immersive exploration of the unknown, realising a “virtual vacation” from which they never returned. Their quest somehow made it into the mitts of Hamburg’s V I S, where it follows the label’s Ditterich von Eulberg-Donnersberg (Werkbund) album with uniquely engaging findings from the brink; eight tracks rendered in swirling sci-fi noir tones, siren-like chorales and plangent off-planet pads scried with a kosmiche twinkle in their 3rd eye. In other words: the sort stuff you may well have come to these pages for.
In its elusive fluidity and unfathomably spatialized scope, we find the duo fusing to project a sound that, without prior notice, would be difficult to attribute to either artist. There are no doubt traces of Zaheer’s new age toned work as Xvarr and the microtonal shimmer of Waswaas, and likewise Tripp's mutant sensibilities carried over from Georgia, but they’re distilled to a darker substance than anything we’d come to expect.
It’s not so much gothic dark, more dark as in full of negative space, with a richly meditative appeal that threads their hardware improvisations from the Millsian deep space intrigue of ‘Phase Transition’ thru the eldritch eeriness of ‘World Line’, to the illusive choral motifs of ‘Fringe’ and oceanic abstraction of ‘From the End to the Beginning’, with glimmers of a more lush, idealistic hope in ‘Plus Operator’ and the cinematic ‘Degrees of Freedom’ that beautifully moderate the journey.
Stella Z unfurls a debut LP of sanguine ambient downbeats, backroom club music and soothing atmospheres with London’s Third Place Records
‘In The Woods, Will Be Late’ was recorded by Stella Z in the mountainous seaside province of Fujian, China and distills a microcosm of influences explored by the DJ/producer in recent years on her Threads Radio show, Mars Weather Today, where she highlights emerging sounds from the Far East. The lingering glow of Jon Hassell’s 4th world oeuvre colours proceedings as the album cyclically resolves between its title tune of feathered ambient downbeats and the closing sequence of its ‘Ambient Version’, coolly encompassing strains of subtropical acid wriggle in ‘6 Leaves Elephant’, the lounging exotica of ‘East Egret Pond Road’, and the subtle dancefloor moves suggested by her pendulous cosmic dembow trip ‘Good Night Fire Lily’ and the ember-stepping fire dancer ‘In Ru’s Dreams’.
French ambient/downbeat maven Jean-Yves Leloup guides an evocative, cinematic collage of sampled voices and noirish atmosphere as his first Quiet Voices LP with Sähkö - think Julien Neto, Chris Marker’s La Jetée score, Scorn’s Murder Ballads, Maxence Cyrin.
Toned with a typically gallic smokiness and ponderous air, ‘Hantologies’ mints a new project for Leloup; a pivotal french journalist, curator, DJ and playlist maker also known as one half of RadioMentale, and a key presence in his native ambient/downtempo field. Sifting choice snippets of film dialogue over slow, plangent keys and diaphanous synth pads, he conjures a wistful feel and gauzy narrative thru the subtlest gestures, with a cinematic storyline emerging from the smoke as it progresses from Hancke-esque brood in ’Story of New Ancestors’ to the eerie sci-fi sublime of ‘When Computers Began to Misbehave’, and along dreamlike corridors of keys and voices in ‘And Time Went By’, to the final part ‘Quiet Voices of the Ether’ and its transition from barely-there, Lynchian atmosphere to heart-in-mouth choral life.
“Quiet Voices is a collaborative musical and sound art project, mixing ambient & electronic music, cinematic atmospheres & spoken word, founded by Jean-Yves Leloup, featuring musical pieces he composed with Hélène Vogelsinger, Villeneuve & Morando, Wild Anima, François-Eudes Chanfrault and Maxence Cyrin.
Most of the composers involved in this project are all working in the field of cinema, composing music using electronic and acoustic instruments. All these musicians are also working in the field of modern classical, ambient and electronic music. Through the use of spoken voices (some of them coming from films), the Quiet Voices project can be heard as a tribute to the power and emotion of cinema. Each track can be heard as a short film, or a scene, fostering the listener's imagination. All the pieces from the record are dealing with the themes of time, memory, death or loss, and often dealing with the idea of an imaginary intermediate dimension between life and death.”
Berlin-based Neapolitan vocalist and sound artist Sara Persico cracks words and raspy croaks into crystalline electro-acoustic beatscapes on her formidable debut. Essential listening if yr into anything from Shapednoise and Rashad Becker to Elvin Brandhi and Aïsha Devi.
The first sound we hear on "Boundary" is Persico clearing her throat. Reverberating into smoky, distorted electronics and wordless whispers, it establishes the record's sonic space immediately, assuring us that although she's a trained vocalist we're not to expect manicured prettiness or histrionic operatics. The Italian polymath is an unavoidable presence on Berlin's experimental fringe. Never bound to one particular style or another, she's a prolific collaborator who's worked with Caterina Barbieri, Elvin Brandhi, Ludwig Wandinger and others, and an adventurous DJ who's as motivated by bass-heavy fwd-thinking club mutations as she is DIY noise, modular experimentation or Medieval chamber music. On "Boundary" Persico attempts to reconcile at least a few of her interests, cutting into her acrobatic voice with serrated beats and gaseous airlock club stutters. Contorted screams and sensual coos are fractured and flustered into dystopian furnaces of withered percussion and charcoaled electronics that blaze into infernal digital noise.
The title track is a tightly engineered low-slung hip-hop crawl that sounds like Metro Boomin through a broken guitar amp. Persico meets her sculpted beats head-on, singing and rapping through alienated fx, letting her voice express punk delirium and heady poetic intrigue simultaneously. 'Exit' is more blurry, tiptoeing into psychedelia via dissonant electro-vocal soundscapes and tactile, mechanical scribbles that morph into dense walls of screaming, croaking, singing and powerful, bass-heavy drone. Her sound design skill bubbles to the surface completely on the metallic 'Under the Raw Light', that twists vocal squeaks and growls into pneumatic, overdriven clangs that sound like heavy machinery falling apart in a weightless off-world refinery. SOPHIE-like high intensity detritus forms an almost-rhythmic accompaniment, but it's Persico's vocals that make this one completely essential.
She's so confident in her voice that its normative beauty or identifiable technicality isn't even a consideration. Persico is prepared to use it as comfortably and creatively as she does any other tool in her belt, and plays with it like its modeling clay, fitting her distinct calls around textures and rhythms that shift with the wind. It's a stunning introduction to an artist we're expecting to hear a lot more from.
One of the greatest techno albums of the 2000's is mercifully made available on vinyl again with cult Texan label Downlow, some 17 years since its first coming - essential RIYL Juan Atkins, Drexciya, UR, Basic Channel, DeepChord.
A fathoms deep, dubwise techno masterclass is in session with Gerard Hanson’s eponymous first album as Convextion. Originally issued in 2006 and out of print ever since, ‘Convextion’ paid up on the unique promise of Gerard Hanson’s run of releases under this name and E.R.P. from the mid ‘90s, all produced and deployed from his remote Detroit star base in Dallas, Texas. It's since become a key piece of US techno lore, adored by those quick enough to pick up a copy back then, and regularly name-checked due to its timeless atmospheric potential and seductive slant on Motor City mind and body propulsion. 17 years later it still comes non-more-highly-recommended to anyone with a passion for timeless electronic romance and club music.
‘Convextion’, with hindsight, marks the end of a certain golden era of electronic music. Made from the ground-up with synths, drum machines and FX in the old skool way, it now feels like an elegy for a bygone spirit that has become lost in translation by waves of producers and DJs who arguably threw this sort of baby out with the bathwater in subsequent years. Tuff but tender, synthetic but intuitively human, trance-y but definitely techno; it flows with a breathtaking quality that the artist themselves term “emotional punishment”, and rarely fails to fire on empathetic nerves, especially those sweetened by MDMA. Personally that link is incredibly important, reminding us of the high quality of pink love hearts guzzled during years around the LP’s release, and especially its peerless live performances at the time, a few of which we memorably hosted in Manchester and still give us shivers thanks to evidence uploaded to YouTube.
Syncing minds to the cool but strident lushness of ‘Equanimity’, the album roils between sub-heavy dub techno genius in ‘Solum Ferrum’, and Juan Atkins-style Model 500 depths of ‘Desolate Hub’, to the aerial string symphony of ‘Astrum’, thru the steady endorphin release of ‘Premiata’, and pounding Detroit standards of ’Sulphur Vent’ and ultimately the Basic Channel-esque ‘JMA020603’ with an unswerving vision of techno at its most affective, heady and sensuous. No doubt it has indelibly coloured the listening lives and imaginations of a generation, and long may it continue to do so. We will warn ya, however, that we’ve been pestering for a repress for well over a decade, so make your move quickly or forever hold your peace and weep.
The second collection of "burger highlife" from Kalita shines a spotlight on the Ghanian dance subgenre that centered skipping DX7 and drum machine-led hybrid disco sounds.
When Ghana was disrupted by economic and political turmoil, many artists who needed cash to survive decamped to Europe and the USA. And when they arrived in their new homes, they found new musical styles to draw from and cheap electronic equipment that allowed them to digitize highlife sounds, creating "burger highlife" in the process. Kalita's second compilation yet again brings together rare material from some of the genre's most beloved artists: Alan Cosmos, A.B. Crentsil, Atta Frimpong, D.J. Lawyer Okyere, Nana Aboagye Da-Costa, Mawuli Decker, Pope Flyne Ackah and Pat Thomas.
Frimpong's 'Bepo So Duo' introduces the set with a downtempo beatbox groove backed by jangly high-life guitars and a shimmering vocal, but Cosmos's 'Soca For Your Pleasure' is a more readable example of the genre. It's here where the influence of disco, hip-hop and other nascent dance music forms is most felt; Cosmos spikes his flow with Sugarhill Gang delivery, flitting from psychedelic disco sounds into soca and back. 'I Think You Are Right (Jepense Que Tu A Raison)' is pleasingly off-kilter, absorbing US R&B and blaxploitation funk grit and just about avoiding highlife entirely, while Mawuli Decker's 'Mawu Nafako Nam' is the opposite, a tender blend of 4/4 kicks, sunny electric guitar riffs and harmonic vocals.
A second batch of weirdo curveballs from Laurent Petitgrand’s cult French duo Geins’t Naït, pumping a bad belly full of french industrial grot and slop recorded between 1986-1993.
More abstract cinematique than the roiling rhythms gathered on the first instalment, this next volume breaks down between passages of atmospheric filmic dialogue and feral no-wave industrial that cuts layers deeper into Geins’t Naït’s uncompromising oeuvre. Vacillating between chilling vignettes and rowdy churn, it portrays more disturbed and oblique aspects of an artist whose 30-odd years of work links the most errant ends of french industrial musick to soundtracks for Wim Wenders, to collaborations with Scanner - with a big fan in Vladimir Ivkovic, whose Offen Music also issued a key retrospective ‘Make Dogs Sing’ in 2019.
‘Archives 2-3’ is defined by its restless variegation and asymmetric juxtapositions. The set veers from short form shots of film-like cues such as the excellent ‘Georgette’ answer machine ruckus and the cold, ceramic ambience, or the shattered rhythms of his ‘Casse’ parts, to proper ruthless gobs of industrial gristle in the likes of ‘J’Ai Apprise Hier’ and more full bodied works to get your teeth into.
We’re talking a queasy fever dream scene in ‘Inkel’, and the GRM-on-a-budget soundscaping of ‘Jévus’, thru to crazed pieces resembling cyberpunk soundtracks in what could be the German-language dubbing of Tetsuo Iron Man on ‘Hans’, and, for the crankiest nuts, a sweltering nine minutes of atonal clang and motorik drive like Vivid Oblivion jamming with a Japanese noise beast on ‘Chiken Kitchen’.
From Bill Seaman
"I got a note from Stephen. As the consummate archiver he had inherited a tape of an interview with me in 1985 done with Kevin Concannon, in particular about my music production. He points out that in it I mention “a device called a digital delay” that I had been exploring. A Deltalab Effectron II Digital Delay, which let you make little short 1 second loops and manually inject other sounds among other things – nice kind of kluge aesthetic. We knew each other through Electronic Arts Intermix where Stephen worked for some time. I had started out as a Video Artist exploring Image/Music /text relations. I had liked Stephen’s work in the past with Molly Berg called “Between You and the Shapes You Take.” I also enjoyed “Captiva” with Taylor Deupree. More recently I had started a collaboration with Michael Grigoni (who lives here in Durham, NC) that was put on pause due to his course schedule. Stephen sent me his lovely album with Grigoni – “Slow Machines.” So I wrote Stephen a note and asked “Would love to collaborate with you if you ever feel like it!” and he responded “Sure, I'd be happy to work on something together. Let me know what you're thinking - or when something feels like a time and idea to start. I can generate some material and send it your way, or just as happy if you want to send me something.” He sent me some things.
I had just completed working with a very good recording engineer on some new piano recordings, which I edited into short sample libraries, which I in turn sent to him. I often use these to build up my tracks in a very physical manner in Ableton live, often exploring chance relations and juxtapositions, then choosing what I feel “works”. Later I sent him some other things – DX7 and analogue synth.
We started working on both our own linear tracks with the materials and others, and also exploring the re-arrangement of each other’s work samples juxtaposed with some other parts of the library of materials. Stephen also began to include some found sound that was quite lovely. I was hoping he might convince Molly Berg to contribute – I really love her sound.
Stephen sent me acoustic guitar, some ebow which I love, and some experimental abstraction of guitar. Later he sent some tracks with Molly on them. We both went at the material and did a series of back and forths. Stephen arranged some of my Piano samples into a lovely repetitive long work which is the center of our digital release. I went back in and further arranged the arrangement and added some new layers. Stephen added Banjo in one case to the album material…in any event we seemed to find a good method of sending, experimenting and responding to each other – then moving forward with the best of those digital volleys."
Fever Ray returns, flanked by Vessel, Nídia, Olof Dreijer, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Aasthma and Johannes Berglund on a 3rd solo album full of odd tunings and warped glam-dancehall-electro swag.
Karin Dreijer aka Fever Ray’s ‘Radical Romantics’ continues the queered outernational pop weltanschaaung of its predecessor across 10 songs that squirm with a brilliant blend of Scandi-pop chops and sexy, propulsive, offbeat club meter.
Now 22 years deep into their thing since debuting with The Knife in 2000, Dreijer is one of very few active artists equidistant to original late ‘70s synth-pop and experimental glam of, say Kraftwerk, YMO and John Foxx - or Roxy Music and Kate Bush - and their hyperpop offspring such as Hyd or SOPHIE. It’s not hard to hear how their work since ‘Plunge’ continues to keep that lineage alive by balancing a fresh influence of producers Nídia and Vessel with the timelessness of Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross or the uncanny symbiosis with sibling, Olof from The Knife, resulting in a sort of hyperpop-adjacent sound sealed by those inimitable vocals and songwriting.
At the time of writing this we’re not privy to most of the production credits, but we can identify Olof’s tweaky Oni Ayhun-esque touch on the pensive opener ‘What They Call Us’, and that’s clearly Vessel’s razor-plucked harpsichord on the instant club ace ‘Carbon Dioxide’. An educated guess tells us Príncipe’s Nídia is behind the squeaky batida groove to ‘New Utensils’ and possibly the tarraxho slunk of ‘Kandy’, and we’d wager Reznor & Ross are responsible for plangent synth ache of the album’s mantric closer ‘Bottom of the Ocean’.
Elsewhere your guess is as good as ours as to who did the goth glam trample of ‘Even It Out’, or the nithered tang to ‘North’, but it will all become clear in due course. It remains to be said that ‘Radical Romantics’ is class; an affective ode to queer love that prizes synth-pop’s perhaps unique capacity to express the ambiguity of gender fluidity and strength in vulnerability, while having a great time doing it.
Originally released in 1985, "The Well & The Gentle" has finally been repackaged by Important with a bumper set of liner notes. Deep and meditative, the two substantial works highlight Oliveros' approach to collaboration, and sound as singular now as they did almost 40 years ago.
When Pauline Oliveros composed for musicians, she didn't take the Tár route - she wasn't trying to engage in a petty display of power, quite the opposite in fact, she was attempting to communicate revolutionary ideas about interdependence by encouraging different ways of writing and collaborating. "The Well & The Gentle" was written to encourage participation from the performers, asking them not to just play the pieces but react to the writing and direct the pieces into fresh places. On the first disc, Oliveros teams up with Philly troupe Relâche, who realize her compositions with no small amount of grace. 'The Well' is softly paced but completely poetic, moving almost operatically as it swells from Oliveros' recognizable accordion drones into a full-fledged ensemble piece. Meditative and detailed, it wisps like shadows in candlelight, and the closer you listen the more you get to unravel.
'The Gentle (I)' is quite different, this time centering Relâche who play a fluid, folkish reaction to 20th Century American minimalism, repeating percussive phrases that flutter around Reich-ian woodblock smacks. Oliveros takes the lead on the second disc, playing her just intoned accordion on 'The Receptive' and revisiting an earlier composition on 'The Gentle (II)'. Without Relâche, the piece is significantly denser, focusing on shimmering accordion phrases rather than skeletal percussive loops. Oliveros whips them into a blur of unusually-tuned harmonies that smudge so effectively that it almost forms an organ-like thrum. Seriously good stuff, absolutely crucial listening if you're into anything from Ellen Arkbro or Kali Malone to CC Hennix or La Monte Young.
Todmorden’s avant bard Sophie Cooper takes an oblique route under the skin with her slow-burning rumination on broken family structures and unspoken taboos surrounding estrangement.
Using guitars, tape loops and electronics, the vital member of Yorkshire’s experimental music rhizome dwells on matters of family and interpersonal relationships lesser covered in contemporary music. Her ideas on fractured nuclear family structures are made explicit via frayed loops of her speaking on the nature of familial relationships during lockdown, and hopes of reconciliation with an unidentified person.
On the first instance of ‘Lean In’, her stop/start loops are embedded in instrumentals that cloud her thoughts with a textural uncertainty that leaves much ambiguous space to the listener’s imagination and sense of anticipation. On the other hand ‘Intact’ sheds the fug for a play of phased tape loops of vocals on longing for a connection, and the expectations of family, coaxed into curious cadence with results that relate to Richard Youngs’ experiments as much as Lolina or Jacqueline Humbert’s Lovely Music, Inc. recordings, but keening into more maddening blur of trombone and white-out electronic noise like an Alvin Lucier work.
Everyone is going to have a different perspective on Sophie’s subject here, to hugely varying degrees. Depending one’s background it’s possibly either discomfiting or insightful in effect, and in that sense recalls Terre Thaemlitz’s uniquely challenging ‘Deproduction’ opus in its broaching of societal taboos on family.
Heavy duty sluggers by jakbeat dons Beau Wanzer and Jamal Moss, on Natural Sciences.
Following their respective appearances in Natural Sciences’ magazine-cum-poster-and-mixtape ‘Embryo #1’, the pair of Chicago mutants here upend ruggedly contrasting cuts of squashed industrial acid and freeform cosmic house noise in patented styles true to the label’s hard-bitten aesthetics.
Beau Wanzer chases his sick recent LP for iDEAL with the hulking slow brawler ‘The Table Scrap’, knuckling sour acid and sputtering drums into a hard hip hop swagger galvanised by his spirit-gnawing levels of distortion.
Jamal Moss takes an even more smudged route with a ridiculously freeform swirl of harmonically textured noise that emulates the feeling of being locked inside one of his DJ or live sets at 5am, smoke so thick you chop it with a credit card, strobes bouncing off flickering retinas. So sick, always.
Snipped from 2021's extensive Faust box set, "Momentaufnahme I" is a patchwork of textured soundscapes and electronic experiments that was recorded by the German band around the same time as "The Faust Tapes". Crucial listening, then.
Between 1971 and 1974, Faust were working out of a converted school in rural Wümme, writing the music that would make it to 1973's legendary (and famously polarizing) set "The Faust Tapes". At the same time, they put together material that would eventually reach us as "Momentaufnahme I and II", two bizarre full-lengths that emerged as part of the band's 50th anniversary box set.
Now released on its own, "Momentaufnahme" highlights not only Faust's experimental process but their willingness to push at the edges of acceptable logic. The record is a stitched together tapestry of outerzone grooves, nauseous textures and off-key jazz fantasies that hiccups and heaves with a level of grit and determination that still seems too rare. If you're a fan of "The Faust Tapes" then this record and its sequel complete a visceral picture of one of Krautrock's most spirited outfits. Recommended.
Om and Sleep lynchpin Al Cisneros returns to his dolo dub project on a “versions” split with perennial bassbin botherer Kevin Martin aka The Bug.
Al’s versions are on the stoned dub edge, the sort of heavyweight acoustic gear you get played out over a PA as the house lights come up; thumping drums, bass and melodica = all-vibes. ‘Rosin Immersion’ plays it straight, while ‘Dabby You’ deploys the same riddim with added delay and a tonne of space echo.
The Bug adds colossal bass weight and sharpened snares for his side, built for impact and physical immersion.
Free improv legend Peter Brötzmann turns 80 in fine style, partying with Heather Leigh (on pedal steel) and cellist Fred Lonberg Holm. If you know...
This one's special. If you've come across Brötzmann before you'll already know that there are few players that know how to match his energy. When he turned 80, he brought in two of his favorite collaborators, the unmatched Heather Leigh and Valentine Trio's Fred Lonberg-Holm. Anyone expecting the German original's usual frenetic skronk might be shocked to hear that there's a level of restraint and romance on show that's both surprising and incredibly rewarding. Leigh's heart-wrenching pedal steel thrums are crucial here, anchoring the mood to give Brötzmann a virtual shoulder to cry on while Lonberg-Holm pierces the dense clouds of sound. She teeters between stadium rock grandiosity and tearjerking folk whimsy, allowing Brötzmann the room to express frustration and passion with his fluttering squeals.
Lonberg-Holm comes into his own on 'Flower Flaps' powering thru the track with staccato plucks that echo eerily next to Brötzmann's runs and Leigh's woozy swells. 'Johnny Anaconda' then is a coda, offering a farewell that wavers off key and out of sight - a fitting end to an electrifying set. Happy birthday pal.
AD 93 jemmy the padlock off Joanne Robertson’s archive of diaristic songcraft with frankly devastating results that form her solo follow-up to ‘Painting Stupid Girls’ (2020) for Dean Blunt’s World Music label.
The Blackpool-raised songbird, guitarist and painter Joanne Robertson is among the most precious artists of her generation. Since the 2008 release of her solo debut ‘The Lighter’, produced by General Strike and This Heat’s David Cunningham, Robertson has been a regular collaborator of Dean Blunt, lending her silvery folk lilt to Hype Williams and Bo Khat Eternal Troof Family Band recordings, and notably some of Blunt’s best solo sides. ‘Blue Car’ is her 5th solo release and a total pleasure to spend time with, holding 11 acoustic recordings of guitar and voice that roll off her tongue and fingertips with preternatural effortlessness and linger on the mind long after the music has stopped.
Reaped from a tranche of undated recordings made by Robertson over the past 10 years, as with ‘Painting Stupid Girls’, these new glimpses of her daily practice feel like leafing through a handwritten diary with polaroid snaps lodged between the pages. We can hear what she was feeling that day, and practically picture the scene: the brown-blue daylight of Blackpool’s Irish sea coast and the town’s neon night glow lending tone and shadow to her ghostly blooz, tape noise resembling wind outside the window. Shy of any effects or post-production, they are captivatingly naked documents of time and place that transcend tastes, with an emotional grip that directly translates to any listener, regardless of their mother tongue.
If you harbour a thing for music by anyone from Grouper to John Fahey, The Durutti Column to Suzanne Vega, this one's for you.
Following collaborations with claire rousay, Makaya McCraven and Circuit des Yeux, Lia Kohl constructs her sophomore album from live radio samples, adding cello, environmental recordings and foley scrapes. Bizarre - and very unique.
Kohl inspires plenty of thoughts about the nature of writing and the truthfulness of influence. Her starting point on "The Ceiling Reposes" was what she describes as 'found lyrics' that she acquired while channel surfing on Vashon Island in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. She plays cello over these chaotic phrases and snippets, weaving in field recordings and electro-acoustic elements to paint a narrative that's somewhere between modern classical experimentation, sound art, and the diaristic ambient of her occasional collaborator claire rousay.
The album closely follows last year's Longform release 'Untitled Radio (Futile, Fertile)', which also developed from shortwave improvisations and processed field recordings. "The Ceiling Reposes" is a fully realized version of that concept, and while it doesn't lapse into song-based territory, there's a level of animation here that makes you assume it at least could travel in that direction. Interestingly, Kohl invited a handful of poets and lyricists to build on her collage of vocal snippets, and the poems will be released alongside the album.
If we weren’t already tripped out by this whole Honour thing, HBK Vol 2 has sent us thru the looking glass. A properly shapeshifting mixtape/album bursting with enigmatic head-scratchers on the Hype Williams x Klein axis, but probably also featuring contribution/s from Wu-Lu and we swear we recognise **** ****'s voice too, but honestly, who knows.
Honour’s music runs against the grain without feeling overly conscious or ironic about it. Their grasp of atmosphere and non-linear storytelling manifests in luxurious yet crushed textures and suggestive cues that don’t rely on a single device or trick, instead spinning through countless reference points to end up with something that’s hard to fathom, and endlessly expressive.
‘Everytin Na Double’ is even harder to pin down than its predecessor, deploying basement blooz, smudged neon soul and scuzzed rhythms like a sort of liquid impressionism. Sweeping from cinematic collages of militant drums, horns and strings to 128k drill, roadman romance and screwed R&G with a sort of red-eye swagger and attitude that places the project firmly in the UK, to our ears, at least. Not even the tracklisting the label sent us matches the number of tracks on here so, you know, anything and everything is possible, and perhaps the object of the game is to just give in and embrace/inhale the smoke.
Fine reminder of the puckered melodic charm and crazed, intricate beat craft of Iglooghost’s 2017 debut LP for Brainfeeder
Nowadays more often found on the Gloo label he runs with Babii & Kai Whiston, back in 2017 Iglooghost helped spearhead Brainfeeder’s frolics in the space between hyper-jazz, IDM and hyper-pop with ‘Neō Wax Bloom’, whose title evokes images of the record bubbling from 2D plane to 3D animations as it turns. The production levels are obsessively detailed leaving no 2 seconds spare for manic data, but harnessed in shatterproof structures that bend in on themselves and buckle into wild new designs on club music.
Ramping the future funk of Rustie, Hud Mo and FlyLo with hyperactive chops, they invite comparisons to forms of cosmic jazz and proggy fusion styles as the album careens from the outdoors/indoors joys of ‘Pale Eyes’ to helium-pitched rappy hardcore in ’Super Ink Burst’, snapping back into juking funk on ‘Bug Thief’ and cosign off like A.G. cook in ‘White Gum’. Japanese dream-pop artist Cuushe tempers proceedings with a cute vocal on ‘Infinite Mint’, and Mr. Yote helps send it the other way with breathless momentum of ‘Teal Yomi / Olivine’, to its rugged parting shot ‘God Grid’.
David Roeder burns his fragmented, psychedelic concepts into endearingly unrestrained lo-fi experiments that exist at the intersection of bedroom pop and sound art. Raw and deliciously unpredictable, 'Form & Feeling' falls somewhere between Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Don Cherry's Organic Music Society, Laila Sakini and Malvern Brume.
Only a single song on Roeder's third Nein Rodere full-length cracks the three-minute mark. The German multi-disciplinary artist isn't motivated by long, overcomplicated expressions of labyrinthine filigree - he cut his teeth training as a painter and working in psychodynamic art therapy, and has played music for two decades, often improvising with other self-styled non-musicians. So his approach to his art is purposefully impulsive; Roeder is interested in digging out the vulnerability that comes from untethered free expression, and whether he's producing cracking folk blues ('Bristletown (I-II)' or charming no-fi drone ('&'), the music is yoked philosophically if not stylistically.
The album is informed by Susanne Langer's "Feeling and Form", an influential 1953 text that proposed that art ("form"), music particularly, could convey "feelings" that conventional language struggled to express. Taking this into account, Roeder uses aesthetic elements in intentional but broadly spontaneous ways, attempting to represent the anxiety and mundanity of his existence authentically, but not without an artistic spark. A comparison could easily be made to Laila Sakini's outsider music-influenced "Paloma", but where Sakini nudges into cinematic self-reflection, Roeder instead approximates rugged basement rock 'n roll, punk, folk and sound collage.
Guitars are a central focus of the album, but the instrument has been blunted considerably, sharp edges removed by obstinate tuning and trashbag recording techniques. 'March on Jahn' sounds like a smog track piped thru a broken telephone receiver; Roeder's voice is cracked and indistinct, and his string plucks ping-pong between innocence and crude, punkish grot. If sadness slips into the songs, it's because Roeder is vulnerable enough to express himself sincerely, using indistinct but familiar songwriting structures to bolster his message. Roeder's world is a place where deviant sound art, vintage pop, psychedelic noise and madcap jazz exist simultaneously.
Dirk Dresselhaus and Ilpo Väisänen's ninth album as die ANGEL is an expert set of improvised noise that the duo call their "electro-acoustic blues album".
'Yön Magneetti Sine' is Dresselhaus and Väisänen's most stripped-down album yet, made by processing acoustic signals from two homemade single-string instruments and an acoustic guitar. There are flickers of AMM or Loop on the opening track '– (10-29)'; the duo pluck their instruments as if they're triggering a sequence of processes and effects, using faint pings to inform electronic repetitions and gloomy field recordings.
The mood shifts from blues to slashed amplifier noise, mirroring KTL's big-room dissonance with clanking shreds and thick walls of distortion before heading into a buzzing fusion of Panaonic interference, stormy feedback and warehouse grot. Very good.
Striking debut of skilful, yet kinda unhinged, a cappella operatic tributes to Cathy Berberian executed with careful abandon by Belgian soprano Sarah Defrise.
"The disk features exclusively a capella pieces which were written for Cathy by some of the most prominent composers of her time. Berio's Sequenza III, Cage's Aria and Cathy's own Stripsody have become new music 'hits', but 'For Cathy' also presents lesser known repertoire such as Henri Pousseur's Phonème pour Cathy, Bussoti's fragment from Passion selon Sade and Entretien, a piece for electronic tape composed by Sarah Defrise as a tribute to Berberian. Sarah took an active part in the editing process of the disk in order to create a coherent sound object, displaying the endless possibilities of the human voice. Cathy Berberian (July 4, 1925 - March 6, 1983) American mezzo-soprano and composer based in Italy.
She worked closely with many contemporary avant-garde music composers, including Luciano Berio, Bruno Maderna, John Cage, Henri Pousseur, Sylvano Bussotti, Darius Milhaud, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati and Igor Stravinsky. As a recital curator, she presented several vocal genres in a classical context, including arrangements of songs by The Beatles as well as folk songs from several countries and cultures. As a composer, she wrote Stripsody (1966), in which she exploits her vocal technique using comic book sounds (onomatopoeia), and Morsicat(h)y (1969), a composition for the keyboard (with the right hand only) based on Morse Code."
Karl O'Connor’s Downwards mark 30 years in the game with a 30 track / double tape edition featuring label classics, rarities and exclusives, including material from label boss Regis, his pal Surgeon and as a duo in British Murder Boys, plus Tropic of Cancer, JK Flesh, Veronica Vasicka, Female, Ann Margaret Hogan, Fret, Robert Hampson and many others.
Originally founded in 1993 to release the results of Karl’s sessions at the studio of Mick Harris (Napalm Death), Downwards effectively picked up the baton from Birmingham’s early metal, techno and industrial heritage and have run with it ever since. ‘Spasms and Savagery’ finds them still gassed on the thrill of dank electronic mood music for dancing, crying and screwing.
The tapes include magisterial synth music from Simon Shreeve (Mønic, CUB), thru Anni Hogan’s solo piano blooz, William Bennett freaking the fuck out of Russell Haswell, and of course girder strength techno by Surgeon, Female and British Murder Boys, plus archival nuggets attributed to Karl O’Connor aka Regis - the dark ambient noise pollutant ‘Day One’ as Farmer & Karl (an exclusive, early recording from pre-Downwards days, 1988), and we would speculate the recording of Brummie workmen admonishing each other for necking Frosty Jacks on the job, plus a killer new CUB work ‘Informal Beauty’ with Mønic, who also supplies an extra-reticulated remix of Regis’ ‘Blood Witness’.
Never one to rest on their laurels or bask in the gurn of adoring techno nuts, the label has also often wormed into weirder ends, as characterised by Robert Hamspon’s grinding Chasm dub of Veronica Vasicka, or the opiated slug of Karl’s work with Einstürzende Neubauten’s Boris Wilsdorf and My Disco, resonating with the industrial clangour of Nitzer Ebb/DM producer Paul Kendall, while Justin K Broadrick aka JK Flesh brings it home to roost with the knuckle dragging stottish‘Offering’.
We’ll leave it to Karl himself to tell it like it is.
“I’m incredibly sorry for wasting everybody’s time. all artists included here are no strangers to the black embrace of loneliness and have spent all their whole “careers|? crawling around the woodwork of pigeon holes. Not one of them fell into those holes and I love them all for that, the useless bunch of sillies.”
Karl O'Connor, 2023.
Dutch duo Wanderwelle allow the climate crisis to inform their latest full-length, using a ruined Scottish church organ to eke out dying drones for trying times.
Phil van Dulm and Alexander Bartels looked at maritime mythology when they were writing "All Hands Bury the Cliffs at Sea", and they came across the legend of Aspidochelone, a sea creature so big that at one point it was mistaken for an island. Legend has it that sailors docked on what they assumed was an island and lit a fire before it ducked into the sea as if the land itself had collapsed. The Amsterdam duo thought this was an appropriate metaphor for the climate-related erosion that has ravaged the coast of Scotland; they were traveling the area when they came across a church that had been ruined by the receding coastline - a nearby cliff had collapsed into the sea and ruptured the building's walls. The pipe organ inside had been almost destroyed completely, but Wanderwelle were allowed to fiddle with it and extract all the tones they could, sounds that formed the foundation of the album.
Swelling their palette with drones from antique cavalry trumpets, piano, cello and synthesizer, they attempted to mimic the sea's constant erosion of the land it interacts with. The result is a careful, considered set of low-profile flotilla that hovers between the distant disintegration of William Basinski and Tim Hecker's 4K "big ambient" gestures. Creaks, damp sloshing and foghorn blasts make up the majority of the record, but each sound is manipulated in such a way that there's little friction. The mood is dark but the sounds are surprisingly frothy, lapping at the feet rather than drowning the listener in cold truth. If it's an album that's about the grim reality of climate crisis, maybe they're telling us to sleep it off.
One of Convextion’s most in-demand classics, ‘Crawling & Hungry’ is finally repressed along with his ace ‘Venus In Spurs’
A total inverted-anthem in our Pelicanneck shop back at the start of this century, Convextion’s ‘Venus In Spurs’ 12” remains a high water mark of dub techno to this day. While in any normal circumstances the A-side would be hailed a total pearl, it’s really all about the B-side’s ‘Crawling And Hungry’, one of Gerard Hanson’s very deepest emotional punishers, stretched out for 11 minutes of Basic Channel-style dub chord meditation with the additional glow of Detroit techno proper and Area54 ambience.
Ask almost anyone who knows or owns this cut, they’ll probably put it in their all-time top 10. Goes for us at least.
Classic hardcore southern rap from 1997, back on road decades later, following the untimely passing of Gangsta Boo - a real touchstone for modern rap
’Chpt. 2: World Domination’ is Three 6 Mafia’s 3rd album after the group’s debut ‘Mystic Stylez’ (1995) and ‘The End’ (1996) firmly established their “horrorcore” style during ‘90s rap’s golden era. However, Memphis-based Three 6 Mafia were located far away from the putative coastal power centres of hip hop that dominated the decade, and would foster a sound distinct of the rugged, sample-chopping East Coast styles, and likewise West Coast G-funk, fomenting a dank sound built from nagging 808s and creeping minor key synth vibes that, over time, would come to usurp the whole East/West schism and crucially formulate the chemistry of contemporary rap in the 2020’s.
Jazz and club music aren't always the best bedfellows, but Lithuanian duo Santaka somehow manage to blend Laswell/Hassell fourth world dub with effervescent machine tech - and it sounds prophetic. Trust Sähkö.
Jazz drummer and producer Marijus Aleksa started jamming with DJ and producer Manfredas Bajelis in Vilnius during lockdown in an attempt to capture the magic of Herbie Hancock and Don Cherry's fusion of electronic, jazz, experimental and world music sounds, using similar processes to Bitches Brew era Miles. 'Burning Head' features Aleksa on drums and both artists using an arsenal of synths and drum machines, they rub the old and the new, hinting at fusion and fourth world innovation with a modernist twist..
'Love Kilimanjaro' is weirder, pushed forward by sparse drumming and Bajelis' fluttering drones. They save the best for last though: 'Reciever' flickers thru spy movie/library music funque into haunted folk horror ambience (with "Suspiria" style screaming, natch) climaxing on tweaky rhythmic stutters and subs.
From Philip Samartzis
"Atmospheres and Disturbances registers the changes in high altitude ecologies caused by increasing global temperatures. The composition is based on field work undertaken at the High-Altitude Research Station at Jungfraujoch, Switzerland where for four weeks I deployed various recording devices around the station, and in the surrounding alpine environment to register natural, anthropogenic and geophysical forces. The project provides new encounters of an endangered alpine environment to enhance the way we perceive and engage with notions of place, community, and environmental dissonance.
During fieldwork I used different microphones to record a variety of acoustic, spatial, atmospheric, and vibration-based phenomena. Omnidirectional microphones registered wind, snow, and ice as well as social, material, and industrial sound emanating from the nearby train terminus and viewing platforms. Hydrophones were placed within water and ice to record geophysical sound resonating within the frozen environment of Jungfraujoch and the adjacent glacier. The recordings capture the pervasive presence of anthropogenic sound permeating throughout the landscape produced by tourists, transport operations and recreational sports. Accelerometers were attached to various surfaces and structures to record solid vibration generated by high-velocity wind, and the process of melting and freezing. The recordings produced by the accelerometers clearly express the stress and fatigue occurring within the material structure of buildings and infrastructure.
Atmospheres and Disturbances is designed to place audiences deep inside an extreme environment to afford embodied experiences of an alpine ecology under duress."
Outstanding fever dream collage of Moroccan field recordings and curiously pitched synthesis by Portugal’s O Morto - an addendum to his new album that surely holds up on its own, riveting merits - RIYL Metal Preyers, Christos Chondropoulos, Muslimgauze, Sublime Frequencies, Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force
One of many good reasons to keep a close ear on Discrepant and its Sucata Tapes sublabel, ‘Ifrits Habitent’ is proffered as a more free-flowing sibling to O Morto’s new studio album ‘Dans la Gorge d’un Monstre’, itself a follow-up to 2016’s ‘The Forest, The People and the Spirits’. Typically drawing on his background as a composer and sound artist for film, dance, performance and theatre, O Morto specifically applies his techniques to the riches of Moroccan music here in a heavily satisfying hour of impressionistically skewed and warped field recordings that nevertheless impart a strong feel for the sweltering sound fields of Moroccan streets and marketplaces. The results are acutely comparable to Metal Preyers’ similarly spirited incursions on Kampala, also taking the license of Muslimgauze’s sound-scaping, but with a humid sense of actually being there (as opposed to Manchester) that reflects the lingering psychedelic after effects of his time in Arabic North Africa.
With keen attention to the rhythmic psychedelia of Moroccan percussion traditions and polyphonic cacophony of its built-up areas, augmented by a spellbinding taste for curdled discord and bittersweet Non-Western synth tone, O Morto plunges us into his memory banks with a grippingly impressionistic sort of surreality. We are utterly intoxicated from the front by his dense thicket of horns and crowd holler in ‘Marrakesh Vertigo’, and it’s a rare pleasure to follow his logic across the 12 minutes of trampling, ritualise drums and chant in ‘Fais attention, pas de confiance’, thru wavey flutes that sound like a screwed grime riddim in ‘Ali Baba’, to Raï keyboard melodies of ‘Tefout Radio Loop’, gonzoid Sublime Frequencies snapshots of drum batteries in ‘Festivities in Boumaine du Dadès’, and the eerie evocation of ‘Out of Nowhere Ferry Between Ceuta and Algeciras’ that leaves us with the oddest sensation of time travel.
Glacial keys and drones from arid Western Australia, shaped into introspective domestic hush and more epic post-rock scapes for Lawrence English’s Room 40
Aussie sound artist Matt Rösner uses an upright piano to form the basis of reverberating electronic compositions that don't sound a million miles from Alva Noto's collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto. 'Empty, Expanding, Collapsing' started life as a sequence of piano improvisations that Rösner proceeded to overdub with guitars, synths and percussion that were "aged with sounds of the surrounding dune systems seeping through the wafer thin studio walls".
Double shot of syrup for the club, recorded in 2019 and following on from a series of EP’s that started with ‘Passed Me By’ and ‘We Stay Together’ last decade.
Recorded fast and loose over a hot summer, these 9 tracks (8 on the vinyl) harness a pure and bare-boned energy, melodies subsumed by drum machines and synths; slow, rugged mush. It’s all about rhythmic heat and disorientation, DJ specials rendered at an unsteady pace, from percolated house and percussive rituals to moody tripped-out burners.
Rihanna’s backing dancer and Brooklyn’s Flex Dance Music pioneer/dancehall producer Hitmakerchinx ramps for Night Slugs on a thrilling follow-up to his introductory 2017 session
The new name HMXGOD signifies a switch-up up in style and tempo for Brooklyn’s Rafael Martin. Mutating aspects of drill, bashment and dancehall to his FDM style torque, HMXGOD delivers some of the heaviest dance music of ’23 so far. ‘Anti Fed Up II’ runs a pacy vocal murder from the front, beside hardcore bashment pressure in ‘It’s Bruck Up’ and sweeter variation of feminine pressure with Rihanna-esque EDM vocal on the scudding ‘Kryptonite’. ‘Flex God’ makes standout use of moody choral motifs and ragga chat in a sped-up dancehall style edging on Dutch-Surinamese bubblers, and ‘Philly Story’ delivers a flash of dancehall drama to close. Levels!
Levon Vincent joins Red D's We Play House U.S series.
"Ever since Levon Vincent came and played at Red D’s We Play House night in Ghent’s infamous Decadance club back in 2012 there has been a strong mutual respect between both veterans of New York and Belgium nightlife respectively. Levon’s unique form of house and techno music always finds its way into the crates of Red D and over the years the two have shared the bill on nights ranging from Berlin’s Panorama Bar to various festivals around Europe.
Getting Levon Vincent to join his U.S. Series on We Play House Recordings was a no-brainer for Red D and a matter of honouring their mutual respect. And so here we have it: a classic Levonesque piece of dubbed out house that moves and shakes across 10 minutes of heady deepness on the A-side and an equally dubbed out Red D affair on the B-side inspired by the likes of Maurizio and Echocord. An E.P. in the vein of its authors…with attitude and determination."
Duane Pitre and Eleh present two extended drone collaborations precisely based on pure intonation utilising the prime numbers: 1-3-5-7.
The slowly unfolding results don't require a thesis in musicology to be enjoyed. Taking inspiration from the vibrational waves of sound, gravity and water, the duo yield seemingly naturally evolving layers of pure sine waves evaporating the kind of shimmering harmonic overtones that one breathes in and could practically and bathe in. They're graceful, seductively somnambulant and nuanced pieces of work, certainly not challenging, and provide a great sense of calm, centred stillness bound to reward patient listeners in dividends.
Belgian introvert Annelies Monseré's folk experimentation has never sounded more vital than on 'Mares', an unusual, layered interrogation of trauma and memory explored via frothy, confident dirges that straddle court music, experimental minimalism, pulsing electronics and dreamlike drone. It sounds like a baroque-folk cousin to Broadcast’s ‘Tender Buttons’ - with all the goosebump-inducing goo the comparison entails.
For two decades now Monseré has been quietly issuing some of the most beautiful and gently thorny minimal folk music we've heard. With her last album, 2018's 'Happiness Is Within Sight', she released on the Stroom label - whose sense of genre fluidity, narrative world-building and (relative) atemporality chimes directly with Monseré’s prevailing, oddly unique aesthetic outlook.
Monseré now lands on Horn of Plenty for ‘Mares’, her most complete and memorable full-length to date, an album "about childhood memories of the sea...enhanced by future events". The most immediately striking dimension is her keen grasp of euphonious sonics; there aren't many elements, but each plays an important part, from wheezing indian Harmonium and Accordion to strangled, other-worldly electronics. Before ‘Mares’, Monseré's music was mostly accompanied by just guitar and piano, but here she allows other elements to infiltrate the mood - the oddly snappy pulse of a drum machine refracting into newly uncovered levels. On 'Shells’, unstable harmonium drones, dulled electrified folk and Monseré's ghosted articulations make for a potently weird mix somewhere between Broadcast’s ‘Subject To the Ladder’, metronomic Nico and Tudor court music. It sounds ridiculous - but is potently mesmerising in execution.
Monseré's cover of Cyril Tawney's 'Sally Free and Easy' from 1958 is the album’s centrepoint. The song was brought to wider attention by Pentangle in the 1970s, and has been covered by everyone from Marianne Faithfull to Flying Saucer Attack in the years since. Monseré's version is unabashedly peculiar; she applies her well-defined methodology to a standard that's familiar but malleable; jangling folk guitars replaced with rippling harmonium drones and the memorable vocal part sung slowly and deliberately, allowing the notes in-between to ring out like church bells at night. Monseré tackles her lyrical content with similar vigour, disassembling the original's problematic themes about a sailor blaming a woman for his suicide by centring her own vocals against a male backing.
These dagger-sharp turns are balanced with occasional instrumental interludes, like 'August II', a wafting harmonium-led composition that sounds both medieval and modern. But it's her poetic, vocal-led songs that have us enraptured - Monseré's voice never overwhelms her instrumentation and balances on a precarious ledge without falling. What was once congenial and purred is now clearly stated and uncanny. 20 odd years of honing her craft has granted Monseré a clarity of vision that's captivating to behold, with ‘Mares’ being her most uneasy and satisfying despatch to date.
The beautifully enchanting Tower of Silence is Music From Memory’s penultimate release of 2016, compiling a number of hard-to-find releases by Milanese artist Roberto Musci, crammed with worldly fusions of far-flung instrumentation, scales and vibes absorbed and transcribed from his travels across India, Asia and Africa between 1974-1985.
Lifting tracks from Musci’s debut album, The Loa of Music as well as a number of collaborations with Giovanni Venosta, including their UK Grammy-nominated Water Messages on Desert Sand, this set forms a sort of oneiric travelogue or mystic reminiscence of Musci’s genteel journeys diffracted thru the prism of then-cutting edge technology.
Throughout Tower of Silence he effectively speaks in his own musical tongue, consolidating a world of sonic dialects into his own language, from which he spins a range of mesmerising yarns encompassing synth-fringed folk music, psychedelic drift and ritual atmospheres, which, when decrypted, find strong parallels in the related vocabularies of Coil, Jon Hassell, David Toop or Rex Ilusivii, ultimately hinting that they were all sourcing from the same rhizome of mycelia.