Utterly sublime ambient techno sound bath from X Or Size for the ever reliable Good Morning Tapes; long in the works, and it really shows, with 75 mins of deeply spirited suds and rumbles for fans of NWAQ/154, Actress, Andy Stott, Huerco S.++
Effectively the debut proper for NYC’s X Or Size, who also spends his time running the Aeon Bookstore in his home city, ‘Covert ID’ is the result of a durational process of regeneration and personal spiritual growth, naturally absorbing aspects of Eastern Mysticism and his visual practice into a spongiform, radiant style of ambient techno classicism. Beautifully unhurried and languorous, the 7 tracks each take all the time they need to unfold in waves of meditative bliss that really found their purpose during a period when the artist was bedridden with injury, and would come to fruition in the early phases of lockdown as a way to focus his energies.
In the rarest way, the music is allowed to breathe, lathering incremental shifts of textural layers between rolling and swung dynamics, all helmed by throbs that lull us into its glacial pace. In light of recent social media faff about “ambient” music, it’s clear that the style holds heavy meaning - positive or negative - to many users, and we could happily hold this album up as an example of the sound at its optimistic and practically therapeutic best, connoting and convecting a convincing sense of childlike curiosity and amniotic lushness that’s hard to shake once felt. For the dancefloor or bedroom, this one’s a real burner.
Glossy, rave-aware neo-dancehall that locks FDM's low-end wobble into an dubwise club template that should appeal to followers of Equiknoxx, Epic B and Nervous Horizons' own TSVI.
Montreal's SIM materialized back in 2019 with his wobbly af FDM-influenced debut EP "NEURAL GAIN". Now he's teamed up with London's Nervous Horizon stable, and continues his trek thru bass-heavy, skeletal club music with "Terminate".
Five tracks of icy, neon synth stabs and sparse, razor-sharp percussion, the EP sounds like a club-focused take on Kingston originals Equiknoxx's undulating alt-dancehall. But where Equiknoxx sit in a lineage of Jamaican pop and wyrd studio experiments, SIM approaches his tracks from a background of techno, dubstep and contemporary club music. Tracks like 'Stock Pile' and 'Fall' sellotape warehouse bleeps and stabs on snare-heavy percussive heaters, while 'Chased' and title track 'Terminate' offer a cheerful foil to the moody slither of SIM's contemporaries. Hard.
Rebellious, charged spiritual jazz that holds a mirror up to Berlin, reflecting the city's unreasonable treatment of Black people. Cathartic, uplifting and simmering with rage.
In November 2019, Angel Bat Dawid and her band Tha Brothahood traveled from Chicago to Berlin for JazzFest. Tragically, vocalist and instrumentalist Viktor Le Givens had passed out on the street and been robbed, ending up in hospital. When Angel reached Berlin with the rest of the band, she was passed the message that unless they could find a replacement, their fee would be reduced. This set the tone for the rest of the trip, where the group of Black musicians were greeted with constant stares, repeated microaggressions and suspicion from the German city's majority white inhabitants.
But they persevered, and the band's performance was considered by Angel to be among their best ever, charged with attitude and struck through with rage-in-process. This recording documents the entire thing, opening with a racist incident at Berlin's Duke Ellington Hotel (seriously) before tracking through a lifted selection of spiritual jazz experimentation from a troupe of Chicago's finest players. Human and electric, the set reflects the power of Angel's composition and conducting and stands as a crucial document of a historic moment for the band.
Whisper-quiet piano 'n vocals softness from the veteran Czech duo who've racked up two decades of releases.
Irena Havlová and Vojtěch Havel have been releasing collaborative work since 1990. "Melodies in the Sand" is their latest, exploring the interplay between cloudy piano riffs and Havlová's ghostly vocals, sitting in the space between ambient music and classical-folk experimentation. At times, it sounds like Grouper jamming with Meredith Monk, all smeared tones and transcendent melodies.
There's been a lot of ambient-adjacent piano music birthed in the last decade, and plenty of it has been no more than wallpaper for luxury condos. "Melodies in the Sand" avoids the association simply because it exists in its own space, where European folk tradition meets the blissful dreampop haze of Harold Budd and the Cocteau Twins.
Vlad Ivkovic’s Offen Music go New Beat/EBM with typically discerning taste - no nougat beat! - delivering deadly cuts from TPPM and AtB’s An Anomaly project - big RIYL Dirk Desaever/White House White/ A Thunder Orchestra
Tapping deep into the throbbing vein of the late ‘80s Belgian dance music phenomenon, adjacent to Chicago, UK, and Frankfurt styles, An Anomaly hold the mayo for seven serious shots of the dark and kinky stuff that we fucking adore over here. Steering wide of the style’s more commercial strains, they lay the kicks, snares, and claps down cold and rigid but infectiously funky in each part, with requisite amounts of monk chants and gloaming pads that properly get us going.
‘Concrete Chorus’ kicks off with a driving swang and munted vox, ‘Eye 4 An Eye’ keeps it up on dead ahead jack, and ‘Linear Minded’ takes it down to authentically slow mode with creepy acid jabs, where ’Sky 13’ recalls Chrismar Chayell’s sultrier moments. The militant snares ‘Velocity Decadent Skies’ has got my Aeron bouncing, and the tickled rimshots and breezy pipes of ‘Sunset Storming Heaven on LSD’ are right up our alley.
Influenced by the modal jazz of John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, McCoy Tyner and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Ambiance was an excellent but little known post-bop group that was active in Los Angeles in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
"Ambiance reflected the spiritual outlook of its founder and leader Daoud Abubakar Balewa, a saxophonist/flutist who also played African and Latin percussion"
Infectious Baile Funk hybrids from Rabu Mazda built for party pressure and better times
Pulling from Brazilian styles via Lisbon, Mazda patently knows how to ignite the rave on ‘Tá Sempre Pegando Fogo’, which translates to ‘It’s Always on Fire.’ Alongside his designated remix driver Silvestre ov Padre Himalaya and Media Fury esteem, who gives the syncopated bounce of ‘Fumo No Olho’ a Dance Mania-style spanking, Mazda brings the heat with recoiling 808 funk and gunshots on ‘Mago Mazda’, plus a deeply rude percolator ‘Bom Feito’, and, best of all, the Miami-via-São Paolo banger ’Sonho Weird’ with its scooping subs that we’ll be dropping in the dance at the nearest opportunity.
Perfectly moody new wave regressions from Pascal Pinkert’s De Ambassade, boomeranging back around on blue vinyl for 2018 with its 2nd vinyl pressing
The A-side’s title cut is a groggily measured shot of Dutch language vocals penned by Miriam Bruijning with Pinkert, and sung by Pinkert to his own arrangement of jangling new wave pop guitars and nippy drum machine crack.
The B-side is even better. On ‘Geen Genade’ Pinkert’s vocals mostly take a back seat to the synths and drums, which drive like a sleek European machine down long, straight, clean roads with solid drum pulse and expressive synth strokes making it come off like a Dutch-speaking John Foxx piece.
A bittersweet J-noise classic from 1997, full of curdled organs cooked up by the prescriptively named Noise
‘Tenno’ is nice but nasty in a way that will really only appeal to avowed fans of the genre, featuring long pieces of sustained organ discord with occasional, naif vocals and sputtering drum machines and live drums in a way resembling secular prayers of a strange backwater cult with battery operated gear.
Grungy, angular fuzz from South London - proper grim, claustrophobic stuff that feels completely in tune with the country's suffocating descent into fascism.
The second EP from Leisha Thomas under the Alpha Maid moniker, "CHUCKLE" is nowhere near as upbeat as the title might suggest. Grey and overcast, it ties together crunchy Slint-adjacent post-rawk technicality with the DIY grit of '90s Seattle, but roots everything in contemporary London. Thomas's vocals lash out with range: sometimes a disquieting snarl, sometimes a pleasing, echoing hum, but always entrancing.
There's an eccentric spirit that recalls This Heat in Thomas's disregard for stasis or formality. She pieces the record together like a sketchbook, cutting-and-pasting samples and editing her instrumentation with gleeful anarchy. It's rock music, just about, but charged with South London's hybrid energy and a distinctly British sense of socio-political unease.
Nico (Christa Päffgen) starred on the first Velvet Underground record before a series of highly acclaimed albums for Elektra, Reprise and Island between 1967 - 74.
"This mini album is the first and rarest of two sessions (the other was in 1974) recorded live for John Peel’s ‘Top Gear’, a BBC Radio 1 show, on 2nd February 1971. Featuring tracks from all the albums mentioned above, it is a beautifully haunting session featuring Nico at the height of her creative powers.
Previously available only very briefly on vinyl in 1989, this release benefits from the full luxurious Gearbox Records treatment, featuring all-valve mastering and the highest quality pressing."
The unmissable, head-twisting debut LP by Cairo's 1127 returns on red vinyl pressing for those who missed its shockwaves for the first time back in summer 2019, Huge recommendation if you're into Autechre, Arca, Crowww, Rabit...
Getting right under the skin with its hugely variegated palette of brutalist, rhythmic power electronics and evocative location recordings, ‘Tqaseem Mqamat El Haram 2016-2019’ resembles something like a soundtrack to a Neil Blomkamp flick set it Cario, Egypt, 2050 where stifling heat and pollution means everyone wears breathing apparatus and hover cars sputter about its dusty sprawl. It’s surely one of the most shocking and transfixing sides from North Africa this side of the debut LPs by 1127’s peers, Myslma and Zuli, and should be prized by anyone with an ear for futurist rhythms and microtonal synths of a modern, Afro-futurist order.
Comprising collaged chunks from 1127’s archive arranged in a seamless, diffracted flow that recalls Autechre as well as the mutant adjuncts in Arca’s &&&& or Croww’s ‘Prosthetics MechaMix’, the results feel as though scraped from the insides of 1127’s skull, capturing and rendering the sounds of Cairo street raves ricocheting with spasms of gristly noise, strafing into pockets of cutthroat flashcore and dropping out into smoky, intimate scenes of Arabic dialogue, all threaded together with a distinctive taste for metallic microtonal synthlines and coruscating noise.
Bassbin dons Low Jack, Simo Cell and Peverelist do a triple tub rinse out for Simo Cell’s Temet, mixing up 90’ of grime, UKF, breakbeats, and mutant bashment business with inexorable flow.
Keeping up the proper dancefloor traction of the label’s Simo Cell & Skee Mask sesh and E-Unity 12”, Brittany meets Bristol in a heavyweight showdown for Temetape2, working up one side of ruffly 138bpm steppers and one side of 100bpm (and below) dembow and dancehall mutations from the late ’90s to 2020. The trio's mutual love of Caribbean rhythms, and their diasporic offshoots, means the results are seriously rooted yet wickedly prone to ruder curveballs from the top shelf of both artists’ enviable collections.
On the A-side Pev & Simo turn the timeline from early ‘00s to 2020 inside out, running killer drums and duppied sound designs from the early heyday of dubstep, thru the infectious percussions of UKF, to grimy breaks and technoid twiss-ups, including no doubt at least one of Pev’s own zingers up in it. With the flipside Low Jack and Simo bring the tempo down a few gears to work around slippery dembow patterns, shuffling up recent gear off Livity Sound with late ‘90s ragga instrumentals, proper, and at least a few of Low Jack’s bashy, dare-to-be-different edits for the meanest sort of clipped dancehall pressure.
Of all the Sakamoto/YMO reissues, this is the one we’ve waited for the most. Hidari Ude No Yume (Left Handed Dream) was released in 1981 and is here reissued for the first time in decades in its rare Japanese edition - beautifully remastered from the original tapes by Bernie Grundman and sounding better than we’ve ever heard it before, including a 2LP version with a bonus album of instrumental versions pressed on vinyl for the first time ever.
Recorded during a pivotal period for Sakamoto - around the same time as his stunning ‘Bamboo Houses’ with David Sylvian, and in between two classic YMO albums, 'Hidari Ude No Yume basically sounds quite unlike anything he made before or since its release, a sort of anthology of pop interiors made with hi-gloss synths and unexpected edits, from farm animals to simmering, percolated drum machines.
‘Hidari Ude No Yume’ was Sakamoto’s follow-up to the seminal ‘B-2 Unit’, and sees him smudge that album’s angularities into weirder shapes that are somehow both more experimental and oddly accessible. The newly available instrumental versions offer previously unheard perspectives on the remarkably detailed production; including an amazing tweaked-out and extended mix of ‘Relâché’, plus a beautifully slippery mix of the album’s best known highlight, ‘Kacha Kucha Nee’.
It’s a sound that has had countless imitators and acolytes; using the newest Japanese synths, traditional percussion, and his own vocals to create a sort of infectiously rhythmic future-primitivism recalling his work with David Sylvian in the Eastern electro orientation and new wave vocal affectations of ‘Living In The Dark’ and 'Saru To Yuki Gomi No Kodomo’, which also sound incredible in their brighter instrumentals, along with more avant jags into collaged 4th world electro-steppers on ‘Sarunoie,’ and a psychedelic masterwork in the strutting ace ‘The Garden Of Poppies.’
What a record.
Gloaming cinematic scapes inspired by the Icelandic wilderness, from cellist Martina Bertoni - a regular spar of Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld
“cello player and electronic artist martina bertoni‘s new album „music for empty flats“ delivers masterfully crafted experimental ambient / drone for fans of hildur guðnadóttir, giulio aldinucci or lawrence english.
martina bertoni is a berlin based cellist and composer. she started playing the cello at a very young age. classically trained, bertoni‘s career soon developed around experimental and film music where her cello has been featured in numerous records, soundtracks for awarded movies and tv series and collaborations, among others with blixa bargeld and teho teardo with whom she recorded several albums and performed at many prestigious festivals all around the globe.
the core of her solo work is based on deconstructing the relationship with her own instrument by combining acoustic sound, repetition, analog and digital synthesis. after the eps „in a paradise you would be happy“ (2018) and „the green ep“ (2019) she released her critically acclaimed full length album „all the ghosts are gone“ with the reykjavík based label falk in january 2020.
on her new album she continues to explore the sonic possibilities of her instrument which she uses as sound source - sounds which are then processed, adding reverb, feedback and sub-bass frequencies and thus crafting sonic sculptures, rich of atmospheres and frictions.
„the inspiration for the title „music for empty flats“ comes from a fraction of time during last winter, while i was visiting iceland. i had the strange opportunity to spend lots of time listening to music, alone in a brand new but unoccupied - therefore completely naked - empty flat in the suburbs of reykjavík. it was christmas, it was constantly dark, outside there was snow, inside there was this strange dystopian empty space in which i could listen to my favourite pieces of music in complete solitude. this is when i started sketching the new record.“ says bertoni.
the resulting seven new tracks deliver masterfully crafted experimental ambient / drone, dense and intense but fragile and sensitive at the same time. A more than impressive new artistic statement by martina bertoni, recommended not only for fans of hildur guðnadóttir, giulio aldinucci or lawrence english!”
Leading Australian contemporary music composer A. Pateras yields a stunning, phantasmic spectralist work for tape and live players, recorded in 2019 at the 17th Sacrum Profanum Festival in Krakow, Poland
‘Pseudacusis’ is the follow-up to Pateras’ work on Sunn 0)))’s ‘Life Metal’ and Judith Hamann’s ‘Music For Cello and Humming’, and features the latter artist among his Tape Septet recordings, which provide the bed for its live performance iteration, here recorded in Krakow’s impressive new arts space, Małopolska Garden of Arts for the festival closely associated with estimable Polish label, Bocian Records.
Reliably helmed by Pateras at his trusted piano, the live septet (Lucio Capece: bass clarinet / soprano saxophone; Krzysztof Guńka: saxophones; Riccardo La Foresta: percussion; Mike Majkowski: double bass; Anthony Pateras: piano; Deborah Walker: cello; Lizzy Welsh: violin) render his strikingly dynamic composition with vigour and precision, found here edited into seven movements.
The results are surreal, febrile, and compelling, sweeping over it’s 50 minute course from frightful string tintinnabulation down concrète wormholes to tracts of glacial stasis and belly-churning dread, with outstanding parts of technically challenging, sustained dissonance and massed, keening orchestration that introduces fractious percussive themes and outlandish electronics. We’ve no doubt it will light up the harder to reach pleasure centres of fans of everyone from Iancu Dumitrescu to Xenakis.
Curated by 78-rpm record collector Pat Conte, ‘The Secret Museum of Mankind: Guitars Vol. 1: Prologue to Modern Styles’, is the first new volume in the legendary series since 1998.
It is also the first volume of the Secret Museum to focus on a specific instrument, the guitar. This new Secret Museum volume seeks to show the diverse range of guitar sounds and styles developed and practiced across the globe. ‘The Secret Museum of Mankind: Guitars Vol. 1: Prologue to Modern Styles’ presents guitar and guitar related music, recorded across the world from Spain, to Papua New Guinea, Greece to Ghana to India and more. The collection is drawn from Conte’s pioneering and remarkable personal collection of 78-rpm discs, recorded in the 1920’s-1950’s.
The album includes a liner notes booklet by curator Pat Conte, original drawings of rare and unique guitars in Conte’s collection, by artist Jeff Tocci, and beautifully remastered audio by Don Fierro. Additionally, the interior gatefold design features a selection of historic images of guitarists, also curated by Conte and drawn from his collection."
Russia’s Flaty does wipe-clean ambient romance and quicksilver IDM rhythms for Soda Gong in the slipstream of his ace 10” for Gost Zvuk
‘GENERIC Targz’ is the St. Petersburg, Russian artist’s 2nd LP under his best known moniker. Spellbinding with a mesh of impeccably crisp synth contours, vaporous pads and pointillist patterning, it speaks to a conception of modern Russian electronic music that has emerged in recent years thru the prolific Gost Zvuk label, which is also home to some Buttechno gear.
‘Free-Floating ambeint-electro structures such as ‘Elevation’ share hyperspace with dreamy, swinging gestures such as ‘Init Ignit’ and generative machine funk in ‘Self Assembled’. But he also has a knack for razor sharp Autechrian or Richard Devine-style incision, as proved in the rapid, insectoid flux of ‘Thread’, and the dazzling acrobatics of ‘Horn of Plenty’, which are kept in balance with tenderly melodic, crystalline pieces like ‘Praaai’, ‘Key Keeper’, and the NYZ-like ambience of ‘Pokrov.’
There’s a Rat Heart album due later this year and we can tell you now it’s AOTY kinda gear; basically tapping into so many things we love, soulful-but-fukced-diy-boogie-pop somewhere between Actress, Arthur Russell and the sorta excavated madness you’ll find on the PPU label; lo-fi but super deadly production that’s all subs and sparkling keys offset by a dry but soulful vocal delivery. This tape here is your first introduction; mixing album tracks with skits/edits and theeee saltiest intro poking at the “transparent middle class agenda”, ja.
Keen ears will have spotted a few of these tracks on that recent Space Afrika RA Podcast and we can tell u there’s already a perceptible buzz round here about Rat Heart - the artist fka Tom Boogizm. His Shotta Tapes label has in the last year released a series of collectable and deadly mixtapes focusing on UK drill, South African Kwaito, grime and ‘00s road rap, alongside Tom’s own anything-goes style in a way that's reflective of his broad and super deep knowledge worming into every musical nook imaginable.
Rat Heart (say it with enough manc = rat-arsed) is basically like someone with the best fuckign taste assembling and mixing the deepest stash of tunes, spanning a multitude of mostly un-named genres and paying zero interest/respect to whatever promoted shite is the latest flavour of the moment. It’s just a mad run of the illest tunes, all self produced, with yr man also providing MC duties and a genuinely soulful/real singing voice that somehow makes him one of the most original producers you’ll hear operating in any scene right now.
grab the tape and hold tight for the album, it’s gonna b real.
Exceptional set of psychedelic surfy Cumbia jams born in same place as Herzog’s ’Fitzcarraldo’, necessarily excavated and shared internationally for the first time!
"If you travel up the Amazon, past the city of Manaus and past the Brasilian/Peruvian border, you will eventually reach the city of Iquitos. It was here that Werner Herzog filmed Fitzcarraldo, the visionary epic of one man’s struggle to drag a ship over a mountain; and it was here, in a city completely cut off from the Peruvian coast, accessible only by air and water, and surrounded by impenetrable forests, that a new, distinctly Amazonian style of Cumbia emerged in the early 1970s.
One of the style’s greatest practitioners was Raúl Llerena Vásquez – known to the world as Ranil – is a Peruvian singer, bandleader, record-label entrepreneur and larger-than-life personality who swirled the teeming buzz of the Amazonian jungle, the unstoppable rhythms of Colombian and Brazilian dance music, and the psychedelic electricity of guitar-driven rock-and-roll into a knock-out, party-starting concoction. It’s cumbia alright, but you’ve never heard cumbia quite like this before.
Ranil’s music came into being far from Lima, the Peruvian capital, where Cuban-style big band and guitar waltzes vied for popular supremacy. On the distant banks of the Amazon, where Ranil spent the early years of his adulthood working as a schoolteacher, the air was full of the criollo waltzes of his youth, carimbó rhythms from nearby Brasil and crackly broadcasts of cumbia from Colombia picked up on transistor radios.
When Ranil returned to Iquitos after several years teaching in small towns, he assembled a group of musicians and prepared to take the city’s nightlife by storm. His unique blend of galloping rhythms and trebly, reverberant guitar was so successful that he was soon able to take his band to Lima to record their first record at MAG studios, where many of Peru’s most successful psych, rock and salsa bands began their recording careers.
Yet Ranil had no intention of entering into the indentured servitude that comes with signing one’s life away to a record company. Instead he established Produccions Llerena – possibly the first record label founded in the Peruvian Amazon – which allowed him to maintain complete control over the release and distribution of his music. His fearsome negotiation skills and his insistence on organising his own tours turned him into one of the central figures of the Amazonian music scene.
Although his records were popular throughout the region, Ranil never sought his fortune in the capital, preferring to remain in his hometown of Iquitos where, in recent decades, he has concentrated his considerable energies on his radio and television stations, and become involved with local civic politics. Yet his legacy has continued to grow among those fortunate enough to track down copies of his legendary – and legendarily difficult to find – LPs.
Ranil’s extraordinary output has remained one of the best kept secrets among collectors of cumbia and psychedelic Latin sounds. With the release of Ranil y su Conjunto Tropical it is a secret no longer. Assembled by Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb from original LPs sourced from Ranil himself, this fully-licenced compilation presents 14 tracks – many of which have never seen wide release outside the Amazonian region – by a singular artist at the very height of his considerable powers. Prepare yourself for a guitar groove you won’t soon forget."
Pauline Oliveros’ astonishing drone classicism finally surfaces on vinyl for a definitive 30th anniversary edition newly expanded with material from the slightly later but related ‘The Readymade Boomerang’ album.
Recorded in 1989 in a cistern with a 45” reverb, located 14 feet below the ground in Seattle, ‘Deep Listening’ is a masterclass of intuitively divined harmony helmed by one of the 20th century’s most revered composers, accordionists and musical thinkers; Pauline Oliveros. Accompanied by her long-time Deep Listening Band collaborators Stuart Dempster (trombone, hosepipe, conch shell, didjeridu) and Peter Ward a.k.a. Panaiotis (voice, whistling), the trio generate an utterly atavistic yet future-facing music that sounds convincingly electronic but is actually entirely acoustic in origin, and is likely to leave deep listening types floored at their conception of in-the-moment composition.
Like the plangent call of mother earth lamenting for the ages, it’s hard to avoid comparisons for this record with events practically beyond human conception. Of course, it’s just three people in a very echoic space, but the results directly speak to our sixth senses in a way that really escapes concrete classification and can really only be grasped at the most elusive, spiritual level - unless you want to get into the physics of acoustic phenomenology and psychology, and to be fair that might spoil the effect. Instead, we recommend finding time and space to give this album your full attention - preferably at night, when conditions are similar to the darkness the performers experienced in the cistern - and feel yourself dematerialised, like their sounds, into a perceptive state of pure, finely graded vibrational decay and harmonic mystery.
Melbourne, AU’s Daisart dip into lesser charted ambient waters with a sublime compilation intent on realigning your chakras and also perceptions of Aussie chill out music from a period spanning the emergence and early promise of the WWW.
Drawn direct from artists, labels, and a haul of corrupted HD’s and the archive of Melbourne’s 3RRR community radio station, the 14 tracks include some familiar artists such as techno bod Tim Jackiw, and the excellent Pelican Daughters, but the rest is all new to us, at least. The timing could hardly be better; it’s crucial listening and a recent historical primer for anyone’s whose interest in Melbourne’s contemporary music scene has been rightfully piqued by amazing records from Laila Sakini, CS + Kreme, HTRK/Jonnine, YL Hooi, Carla Dal Forno - all now or at one time residents of the city.
Couched in the utopian optimism of the ‘90s/‘00s, when new technologies fostered rhizomic links between artists and listeners via file sharing and online life, the music follows with a gently palpable sense of loveliness, no snags or grumbles, location your pleasure centres thru gems such as Ros Bandt’s pastoral chamber piece ‘From Under The Sacred Oak’, and the burbling clicks ’n cuts ambient of ‘Rounded’ from Kazumichi Grime, or melbient’s immersive, balmy collage ‘Naria.’ You can also trust Tim Jackiw supplies the goods with the shifting harmonic hues of ‘Composite Memory 7’, and likewise the anaesthetising, iridescent kiss-off ‘Aurascape’ by cult DIY unit Pelican Daughters.
Outstanding introduction to Amapiano, the hypnotic house sound of Guateng, SA with feet in Kwaito and deep house styles. Proper dancers’ gear, dead compatible the deeper ends of Gqom, and new London sounds on Housupa. Tipped by Tom Booigzm, Black Mecha, and us, at the least.
“The past five years have seen amapiano, South Africa’s electronic music movement born in the townships of the country’s Gauteng province, evolve from an underground sound to a nationwide mainstream staple. Even with its commercial success though, amapiano’s DIY ethos has continued to disrupt music creation and distribution in the country. Most amapiano commercial successes today began their careers on cracked versions of production software like FL Studio, distributed their work through file sharing platforms like datafilehost and marketed it using social media pages they controlled and influenced.
Amapiano is partly a tasting menu of South Africa’s musical history, a lineage that has been as much a backdrop to the times as it has been a catalyst for change in the country. South African jazz has thrived pre and post-democracy, contributing international stalwarts of the genre, notably Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela. Kwaito music—which itself borrowed from other genres like marabi, kwela, mbaqanga, maskandi, bubblegum and others—was created and proliferated in the 90s partly because of the newly accessible House music imported into the country. In the early 2000s, Deep and Afro House dominated, to be followed by the rise of diBacardi, a percussion—heavy electronic music genre most popular in the city of Pretoria and its surrounding townships.
Amapiano Selections, the debut album by DJ and producer Teno Afrika, gives listeners outside the movement’s online release economy an insight into the high-burn nature of amapiano that has spawned a distinct typology under its larger umbrella. Nineteen-year-old Lutendo Raduvha has spent the bulk of his life moving between different townships on the outskirts of Johannesburg and Pretoria in the Gauteng province. The palette of amapiano styles on the album reflect these influences.
But at first, South Africa’s youngest electronic music movement lived underground with a small, loyal following. “Amapiano is a genre that I chose because I have a passion for it,” says Teno “I started following amapiano in 2016 because I wanted to explore how it’s produced. It was not taken seriously in our country. By: Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi”
One of the most influential, insular and multi-layered albums of the last three decades, created through endless hours of improvisation - involving almost fifty musicians and recorded in complete darkness, 'Laughing Stock' is an album that has attained almost mythical status since its release in 1991.
Following the commercial success of their singles "It's My Life", "Life's What You Make It” and album "The Colour of Spring”, Talk Talk retreated back into the shadows and produced two albums that defied categorisation. After the release of the first of these (Spirit of Eden) and a proolonged court case, the band parted ways with EMI and signed to iconic jazz imprint Verve who financed the long and complicated recording of Laughing Stock. Assembling almost 50 guest musicians, Mark Hollis is said to have demanded they record in almost complete darkness, improvising for hours to produce individual parts without hearing any backing tracks or surrounding material. Most of these recordings were discarded, but from what remained Hollis and producer Tim Friese-Greene pieced together a record that is essentially one long sequence of overdubs separated out into six long tracks.
Laughing Stock was to be their last album - on its release the NME described it as “horrible” and many listeners were left perplexed by its insular, unfathomable dynamics. But in the time since, Laughing Stock's legacy seems to have grown in stature with every year that has gone by. You can easily see the stylistic and conceptual markers left by Talk Talk in the way that bands like Radiohead went on to explore more open-ended, diverse sound sources and stylistic shifts - feeling able to experiment without fear of alienating a large fanbase as if it were the most normal thing in the world for a band with considerable chart success to do.
"Laughing Stock" is not only one of the most absorbing albums of the modern era, it’s also a masterclass of production and construction, a relic, perhaps, of an era when artists could completely disconnect from the pressures of their surroundings and dive deep into the wormhole...
Vladislav Delay’s Chain Reaction masterpiece resurfaces for a remastered 20th anniversary edition. Answering the prayers of dub and electronic fiends everywhere, this long overdue vinyl edition of ‘Multila’ acts both as a reminder of Sasu Ripatti’s pioneering work and a primer on his early practice.
Technically the Finnish artist’s 3rd album, 2000’s ‘Multila’ offered a looser limbed, sensuous take on dub techno as much informed by the Finnish climate and landscape as the templates of Basic Channel, SND, and the deep house styles established between the late ‘80s and during the ‘90s.
It’s an immensely immersive work that prizes the qualities and infidelities of analogue production nose to tail from hardware to tape and D&M’s revered all-analogue mastering facilities, which up until this reissue has only previously been available on vinyl spread across the 'Ranta' and 'Huone' 12"s. Anyway, the Keplar label remedy that issue right here with Rashad Becker’s remaster which faithfully combines to present the album as it was perhaps always meant to be heard.
Between the submerged, coruscating crackle of ‘Ranta’, the soothing tone of ‘Raamat’, and the 22 minutes of semi-organic, lissom swing and ambient smudge in ‘Huone’ on the first disc, to the water-logged tumescence of ‘Karrha’ and the 16 minutes of head-swilling textural abstraction and saline buoyancy in ‘Pietola’ on the 2nd disc, you’re in the presence of pivotal, peerless material that effectively splits the difference between the GRM, King Tubby, and Huerco S.
Special edition of one of the year’s standout releases. Having lived with this amazing album for best part of a year, we can confidently say it’s among the strongest in its field, full of radiant joys - we urge you to make some time for it.
On her captivating 4th solo album, Montreal’s Sarah Davachi - highly regarded for her majestic, coruscating synth compositions - divides her attentions equally between a purely instrumental palette of strings, piano, voice and organ with an enveloping, often ecstatic and mystic effect recalling Áine O’Dwyer’s recent Locusts wonder as much as Ellen Fullman’s works for long stringed instruments. We're completely blown away by it.
Rather than mining ancient synth hardware for its unique tones, in All My Circles Run, Davachi applies the same exploratory approach to acoustic instruments with glacially tense results that quietly light up the liminal borderland between the spheres of electronic and acoustic practice when contrasted with her previous recordings. As the title suggests, you can consider these new pieces as discrete strands in a sort of diffracted spectral venn diagram of her sound.
The results will ring true with anyone who has heard her previous releases, while also offering another perspective on her tonal ontology, pin-pointing her acute feel for pealing, plangent overtones in For Strings, which opens out with a raw beauty and scale reaching heights vaguely reminiscent of Áine O’Dwyer’s recent LPs, or by Charlemagne Palestine for that matter, whereas For Voice is a deeply sober, sombre piece again precisely focussed on those fluttering points where consonance/dissonance are near indistinguishable.
The solo piano piece, Chanter follows that slope into lower tones, slowing the heart rate to the point where we can almost perceive the notes as gauzy, keening and candle-flickering blurs, before her sound starts to coalesce in lustrous, upward facing drone in For Organ, burning with a quiet optimism which is sublimated into the exceptional parting passage of For Piano, where the pensile strings, gently cascading keys, and floating organ ebb and flow with a magic intensity redolent of an imagined, smudged meditation by Emahoy Tsegué-Mariam Guèbru and Pauline Oliveros.
Multidisciplinary artist Jamie Krasner is back, finally, with a short set of dizzy soundscapes and gauzy electro-addled dreamwave.
It's been way too long since we last heard from James K. The New Yorker last burst into view back in 2016 with her debut full-length "PET", a keta-fizzed, romantic set of electronic ballads that sounded like Enya gone all vapor, or a bedroom pop Cocteau Twins. Now we've been blessed with five new tracks to remind us that we're still waiting for that sophomore album.
Unsurprisingly, they're absolutely gorgeous, with 'Ultra Facial' layering reverb-drenched vocals over frothy beats, sounding not a million miles from Jenny Hval's brill "Blood Bitch". Krasner takes a left turn on 'Everyrose', burbling through a voice-changer and sounding like a broken robot dressed in Sunday best. 'Subliminal Burn' takes things deeper into another forgotten crevice, introducing Bola-adjacent airlock beats but retaining Krasner's ethereal, twinkling vocals.
Geir Jenssen a.k.a. Biosphere yields the results of a field recording project on a Dutch farm, commissioned by Incubate festival.
Imperceptibly melded with Biosphere’s signature synthetic palette, the field recordings are effectively reanimated as dreamlike sequences, variously incorporating the sounds of a distant helicopter with shepherd’s calls and windswept choral synth voices in t’Schop, focussing in on insectoid minutiae with Pipistrellus, or indivisibly meshing the real and the unreal in lush pieces such as Audax and the pastoral bliss of Icoon.
Kevin Martin has tapped into a kind of unfathomable strain of desolation this year, first on King Midas Sound’s ‘Solitude’ - one of the most painfully lonely albums of recent times, and now on the first album under his own name, ’Sirens’, released by Lawrence English’s Room 40 label. It’s a startling record lost in its own thoughts, the soundtrack to personal tragedy and rebirth somehow mirroring Hildur Gudnadottir’s recent score work for Chernobyl, but in much more personal space.
Despite being a more or less constant presence on our radars since the late 90’s when we first opened our doors (actually, from way before that - 1995’s 'Macro Dub Infection' comp and 97’s 'Köner Experiment' are both foundational records here) - and despite a constant barrage of bangers under myriad guises (but mostly as The Bug), various strains of Martin's work seem to have only just recently converged into something entirely distinctive. Both ’Solitude’ and ’Sirens’ are neither showy nor self indulgent - this is music that’s ice cold yet intimate, barely-there - but utterly compelling. While its easy to make sudden impact with scudding basslines, here Martin takes a more lonely route into numerous strands of contemporary music; from dub to noise and across the abyss between, into a dimly lit corner that somehow brings out the best we’ve heard from him in over 20 years. It's nothing short of an isolationist classic.
“When I was 22 I managed to acquire Techno Animal’s Demonoid 12” at a local record store, Rocking Horse Records. I can still recall the intensities of sound that marked the first moments of listening to it. The sense of bass as a tactile surface, that rolling groove and the howling sine waves and dub sirens that scorched with a type of sonic burning sensation that to this day makes my hairs stand on end. A year later I heard Ice’s Bad Blood, from there I discovered The Bug through a release on Wordsound, a band called God, a sound movement called isolationism and much more; all of these projects had one nexus point - Kevin Richard Martin.
In 2015, Kevin and I book-ended a series of concerts at Berghain for CTM festival. For his performance, Kevin debuted a new work I’d heard very little about called ’Sirens’. I remember two things distinctly about the performance. The first thing is he opened the set with a blazing passage of bass and dub sirens that instantly transported me back to those initial moments of encountering his work. The second was the feeling of absolute, crushing bass. Not before, or since, have I felt a sense of sound pressure like this. Unlike his other work with The Bug for example, the consistent bass carrying in the space was literally breathtaking and there were moments when it seemed difficult to see clearly as my eye sockets were vibrating in a way I’d never experienced.
Sirens, which documents the intensities surrounding the delivery and early days of his first child, carries in it a sense of deep affect. The album, unlike the live work, traces out a dynamic sound world that is both tender and caustic. It charts the emotional rollercoaster that is the arrival of parenthood, heightened through the complex circumstances of his wife's emergency procedures during the birth and two further life threatening operations for his son, in the first month of the child's life. Within each piece, microcosms of sensation unfold, Kevin clearly and deftly manoeuvres us through the tumultuous journey. Seconds become hours, and hours become seconds; Sirens somehow creates a sense of time that is without anchor and is foggy in a way that is profoundly unique (and frankly pleasurable).
Kevin Richard Martin has remained a point of constant inspiration for me over several decades now. To have the opportunity to share his first ever solo recording, one that arguably opens an entirely new side of his practice, brings me the utmost pride. His work has impacted so very much on me at various points and I know I am not alone in this situation. His new work, Sirens is a life journey transposed into sound that is truly personal, but effortlessly universal. It is the start of a new chapter for Kevin and one that I know will only strengthen his place as one of the critical voices in contemporary electronic music.
Lawrence English, March 2019”
The first album in six years from German indie-electronic mainstays The Notwist. Gorgeous widescreen alt-pop for anyone who misses the homespun goodness of genre-classic "Neon Golden".
Around for over three decades, The Notwist have helped steer the direction of electronically-augmented pop with the influential "Neon Golden" and its follow-ups. "Vertigo Days" is the band's first full-length in a while, and finds them on fine form, still softly spoken, still charming. Fans of the band's more recent records and releases on their quietly ace Alien Transistor will find plenty to sink their teeth into - not least the Stereolab-in-dub flavors of stand-out track 'Ship', that features Tenniscoats' Saya on vocals.
Elsewhere they explore fuzzy psychedelia with the sweet, smudgy 'Oh Sweet Fire' and hit another high point with 'Al Sur', feat Juana Molina on vocals and electronics for a clattering left-pop u-turn.
"Vertigo Days" is a varied record; it's pop music certainly, but pop that draws from krautrock, Brazilian psych, dusty cult movie soundtracks and vintage British folk as music as it does experimental electronic music.
Rudely physical synthesis from Swedish underground lynchpin Mika Hallbäck aka Rivet, exploring his passions for synth-pop and industrial dance music in a killer album tipped to fans of The Knife as much as CoH or Chris & Cosey
The boss of Kess Kill has largely left his work as Rivet aside in favour of production for likes of Vanligt Folk, Celldöd and Majestoluxe in recent years, but he’s clearly been saving his best solo work for ‘On Feather And Wire’; a definitive debut album of dark, sleazy club music and expressive synth experiments that land on the right side of indulgent.
It ain’t hard to hear a cool familiarity with his kit - he’s been at it for best of 20 years, after all, from techno outings as Grovskopa to the past decade’s Rivet gear - but even still, this lot sees him really get his fingers dirty in the ports, leaving the smell of singed skin and frazzled hair in the air between the fizzing techno grunge and curdled voices of ‘Ney Non’, and the melancholy glyde of ‘April 8’, packing big-boned pulses and nervy arps recalling Nick Klein’s bullish grooves in ‘oral Sparte’, and the clonking jag of ‘Keloid’, while the likes of ‘Etna’s Ascent’ almost unmistakably hark to the axis of The Knife/Fever Ray/Oni Ayhun/Peder Mannerfelt, and the likes of ‘Sooty Wing Flecks’ and the stranger sensualities of ‘Pearling Woes’ prostate at the altar of his core influence, Coil.
Concept machine Jeff Mills dives into the Axis archive for a 27-track compilation spanning eons of his classic techno and sci-fi inspired themes, including previously unreleased material
‘Sight Sound and Space’ is presented as an expression of Mills’ “deep-seated thoughts” on synaesthetic relationships between the visual, auditory, and proprioceptive senses. It logically breaks down those three aspects over corresponding CDs, with respective commentary and explanations for each selected track contain in the attached booklet.
The first third, ‘Sight’ illuminates 12 harmonically sound tracks drawn from Mills’ CDs, DVDs and soundtracks, ranging from the floating structure of ‘Perfecture’ off the ‘Metropolis’ EP, to the tense and furtive strings of ‘Deckard’ from the ‘Blade Runner’ EP, and dream-sequence ambient prisms such as ‘Sleepy Time’ and ‘Multi-Dimensional.’
On the 2nd part ‘Sound’ he rounds up a pointedly technoid, driving clutch of cuts taking in the almighty thrust of ‘The Bells’ along with the textured polyrhythmic swinge of ‘4Art’, plus his dramatic ‘Spiral Galaxy’, the Jamal Moss-compatible churn of ‘Jade’, and cryptic ancient-futurist drum code in ‘Spiral Therapy’ and ‘Flying Machines.’
Part 3 finishes up in ‘Space’ with some of Mills’ most abstract, cinematic astral probes. The ‘Introduction’ to his ‘Fantastic Voyage’ CD parts the way for previously unreleased gear in the tense detonations of ‘Mercury (Residue Mix)’, the iridescent shimmy of ‘Unreleased002’, and the dematerialised textures of ‘Outer Space’ and ‘Unreleased005’, along with killer, subbass-heavy styles in ‘Stabilising The Spin’, deep space romance in ‘Planet X’, and neck-craning avant-classical sound design in the grand staging of ‘Medians.’
Fir Wave - a sonic shimmer of textures and pulses that switches between raw atmospheric edges and environments, arrives with a fascinating history.
"As Peel explains, “The specialist library label KPM, gave me permission to reinterpret the original music of the celebrated 1972 KPM 1000 series: Electrosonic, the music of Delia Derbyshire and the Radiophonic Workshop.” This process of re-generation and finding fresh inspiration in pioneering, experimental electronics from the early 1970s is at the core of the album. Peel has made connections and new patterns that mirror the Earth’s ecological cycles through music. Peel explains, “I’m drawn to the patterns around us and the cycles in life that will keep on evolving and transforming forever. Fir Wave is defined by its continuous environmental changes and there are so many connections to those patterns echoed in electronic music - it’s always an organic discovery of old and new.” As Delia Derbyshire revealed in 2000 to BBC sound engineer, journalist and academic Jo Hutton: “I like new things that don’t seem new . . . as though they’ve always been there.”
Known more recently for curating and presenting on BBC Radio 3’s Night Tracks, the Northern Irish Emmy-nominated composer and producer’s work is ambitious and forward-looking, adapting and re-inventing new genres and hybrid musical forms. Recent albums include the solo electronic and pop work of Awake But Always Dreaming, which became an ode to her grandmother’s mind as she lived with dementia; the electronic ruralism of Chalk Hill Blue, an album recorded with the poet Will Burns; and the space and the unparalleled vastness of Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia, scored for synthesisers and a 30 piece colliery brass band. In 2019 she composed and recorded the soundtrack for Game of Thrones: The Last Watch which earned her an Emmy nomination for ‘Outstanding Music Composition For A Documentary Series Or Special (Original Dramatic Score)’."
‘Arc 1’ is the first posthumous release of Mika Vainio’s solo material, taken from a large collection of his unreleased music. The archive series will present pieces which can be considered as completed works rather than unfinished fragments, and ‘ARC 1’ is a fittingly contemplative artefact - preserving Mika’s patient, sensuous minimalism released under his solo moniker, Ø.
Made up of two selections from an untitled recording Vainio did as Ø for the radio project Ambient City at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki in 1994, the 34 minute work can be considered a complete, singular work, and one of the purest in Vainio's catalogue.
Working at the threshold of perception in a way comparable with fellow minimalist masters such as Eliane Radigue or Kevin Drumm, ‘ARC 1’ follows a glacial transition from elemental subbass pulses through sustained, hovering drone before almost imperceptibly changing state half way, when a field of static disruption re-organises the piece’s atoms, only for the noise to recede and reveal a more complex timbral aurora, and a final tract of isolationist ambience flickering like northern lights.
Icy exotica from SAD, a new name to the ranks of Moscow’s Gost Zvuk, slotting in neatly with one of the label’s most serene, jazzy, lilting sessions
‘Children of the Sun’ lends a tasty new stripe of flavour to a label known and prized for its typically brittle rawness. From the spring sunlight keys and thawing tones of ‘Desert Wax’ to the shimmering finale ‘Enye’s Mirages’ they explore a tenderly ripened sound blushing with jazz chords and new age mysticism that perhaps fits the current change of the seasons, reminding of Buttechno at their most subtle, sublime, or Pekka Airaksinen’s northerly take on jazz-fusion.
Classic South African psychedelic afro-rock albums marking the watershed of Harari’s evolution from Soweto soul (as The Beaters) to the afro-centric rock and funk that brought them fame and changed South Africa’s musical landscape forever. Reissued with printed inner sleeves containing notes by “Soweto Blues” author Gwen Ansell and archival photography. Audio remastered and cut for vinyl by Frank Merritt at The Carvery with heavyweight 180g vinyl pressed at Pallas in Germany.
"The Beaters – Harari was released in 1975. After changing their name, Harari went into the studio late in 1976 to record their follow-up, Rufaro / Happiness. In 1976 they were voted South Africa’s top instrumental group and were in high demand at concert venues across the country. Comprising former schoolmates guitarist and singer Selby Ntuli, bassist Alec Khaoli, lead guitarist Monty Ndimande and drummer Sipho Mabuse, the group had come a long way from playing American-styled instrumental soul in the late sixties to delivering two Afro-rock masterpieces.
Before these two albums the Beaters had been disciples of ‘Soweto Soul’ – an explosion of township bands drawing on American soul and inspired by the assertive image of Stax and Motown’s Black artists. The Beaters supported Percy Sledge on his 1970 South African tour (and later Timmy Thomas, Brook Benton and Wilson Pickett). But their watershed moment was their three month tour of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) where they were inspired by the strengthening independence struggle and musicians such as Thomas Mapfumo who were turning to African influences. On their return, the neat Nehru jackets that had been the band’s earliest stage wear were replaced by dashikis and Afros.
“In Harari we rediscovered our African-ness, the infectious rhythms and music of the continent. We came back home inspired! We were overhauling ourselves into dashiki-clad musicians who were Black Power saluting and so on.” Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, talking of the band’s time spent on tour in the (then) Rhodesian township from where they took their name. As well as expressing confident African politics, Alec Khaoli recalled, they pioneered by demonstrating that such messages could also be carried by “...happy music. During apartheid times we made people laugh and dance when things weren’t looking good.”
The two albums capture the band on the cusp of this transition. One the first album Harari, Inhlupeko Iphelile, Push It On and Thiba Kamoo immediately signal the new Afro-centric fusion of rock, funk and indigenous influences. American soul pop is not forgotten with Love, Love, Love and, helped along by Kippie Moeketsi and Pat Matshikiza a bump-jive workout What’s Happening concludes the album. The second album Rufaro pushes the African identity and fusion further, with key tracks Oya Kai (Where are you going?), Musikana and Uzulu whilst the more pop-styled Rufaro and Afro-Gas point to where Harari were headed to in years to come. The popularity and sales generated by these two classic albums saw them signed by Gallo and release just two more albums with the original line-up before the untimely death of Selby Ntuli in 1978. Whilst they went on to greater success, even landing a song in the US Billboard Disco Hot 100 in 1982, it was never the same again.
“Harari’s music still speaks directly to one of my goals as a younger artist: to express myself as an African without pretending that I don’t have all these other musical elements – classical, jazz, house – inside me.” Thandi Ntuli, niece of Selby Ntuli.
The fleet fingers of harpist Rhodri Davies pick out connections between Gaelic, West African and Far Eastern traditions - to our untrained ears at least - on the 3rd album via his Amgen label
Making up 1 part of 4 to his ‘Pedlar’ boxset, ‘An Air Swept Clean of All Distance’ was recorded in 2014 at Blank Studios, Newcastle, and exec produced by folk chief Richard Dawson, and adorned by a continuing series of artwork by Anna Peaker. It skips back along the timeline to what sounds like happy times, where Davies’ playing fizzes with typically inventive, optimistic, and timeless beauty, which, if you shut your eyes and try a little, could almost hail from any point in the past half millennia - although we do wonder if they really shredded like this back in thee day.
He’s really going for it on this one, so understandably the tracks are mostly succinct, as who the chuff could keep up this sort of energy for any longer?! They come on In flurried waves with ‘soaked ruins of a raft’ and culminate in him expending his energies on the longest, final piece with the hyper jabs of ‘on the outer reach of the unending’, with numbers such as ‘In Distortion-Free Mirrors’ attacking like Rian Treanor doing Korean classical music at hi-speed, and the breathless, mellifluous flex of ‘continues, placement’ recalling Kadodi styles we’ve heard on Nyege Nyege Tapes. But of course he makes room for slower, serene moments, diffracting the pace thru more spacious and lilting parts like ‘Each clear and sudden drop itself’ and the anticipatory pauses of ‘fingers pluck played on by’ that temper the album’s gushing sequence.
Sticky sweet soul and beatdown from Washington, D.C.’s Dreamcastmoe - strong vibes for fans of Dâm Funk, Amp Fiddler, Maxwell
If this sound is your bag, all four cuts are kinda hard to resist. ‘Make Your Move’ lays down the G-funk with finessed production by Shungu under Moe’s purring vocals, and ‘Deserving’ ups the soul burn with extra bouncy bass and pleading croons. ‘Bend Backwards’ follows with a canny slice of mid-tempo swang placing Shungu’s beats near to Dolo Percussion/Max D vibes, before Moe tags in Baxter for the deep fried crispiness of ‘(301) 341-7207’ on a proper R&B downstroke.
Keith Hudson, the dub dentist, was a one-off innovator with impeccable, classical lineage: his first studio recording involved former Skatalites; his earliest releases provided solid-gold hits for Ken Boothe's "Old Fashioned Way" as far back as John Holt, Delroy Wilson, U-Roy and the rest.
Like "Lloyd" Bullwackies Barnes, his collaborator here - his split from this tradition is dynamic and all his own: Hudson's mature music finds its optimum conditions away from Jamaica, in London and New York studios and for less didactic transatlantic audiences, while his dark experimentalism becomes increasingly better suited to the the LP and extended 12" than the cardinal 7" reggae format.
Original dark disco mixes from the middle>> latter seventies, drenched in the essences of deepest afro-american-jamaican funk jams. "Playing It Cool & Playing It Right" was released in 1981 on Hudson's own, american based Joint International label. It was originally intended that one of Hudson's teenage sons would voice the dubs: in the event the Love Joys, Wayne Jarrett, and inimitably Hudson himself featured at the microphone.
Like Wackies, Hudson was a Studio One devotee "I used to hold Don Drummond's trombone for him so I can be in the studio", he once recalled ˆ and the album follows Coxsone's recent strategy of overdubbing signature rhythms. While the Studio One sides were aimed at the dancefloor; Hudson's reworks of alltime classic tracks like "Melody Maker", all darkside funkadelic guitars and brooding feeling, are more psychological. Deep Barrett Brothers rhythms are remixed like you've never heard, deeper still with reverb, filters and other distortion, pitched down, everything; and overlaid with new recordings, often heavily treated, of wahwahed guitars, percussion, keyboard, voice. "Playing It Cool.." is legendary, strange, utterly compelling music.
Galdre Visions is a Leaving Records supergroup comprised of Olive Ardizoni (Green-House); South Asian-American sitarist, vocalist, and composer/producer Ami Dang; Diva Dompé (Yialmelic Frequencies, Diva & The Pearly Gates); and harpist/composer Nailah Hunter.
"These four artists were drawn together during 2020’s pandemic to remotely create collaborative music reflecting this unique and uncertain moment in history. Hunter describes the group’s dynamic: “Each member of the group provides a unique sonic lens with which to view the realms beyond this world. Each member’s music recalls the sound of organic life in a different way.” Collectively inspired by Celtic mysticism, outer space, and New Age both classical and modern, Galdre Visions have crafted a powerful and timely document of the exploratory, healing power of music.
Ardizoni states, “Well, we are going through some extremely difficult times so there is no way that this project has not been influenced by that. I find that with writing music during difficult times you don’t really become aware, sonically, of the impact of that time until you listen to it way down the road. Writing this kind of music has always been a means of transmuting my pain into joy so that the listener can experience that by proxy.” Album-opener “Living Space Station (Bad Dream)” conjures an ominous atmosphere of strife, its lyrics alluding to unusual, unsettling, and nightmare-like events unfolding seemingly every day. Dang reflects, “Even though we’re all stuck at home, the world is ripping itself apart right now, and all of this chaotic activity makes me feel like I’m slowly making my way through a thorny thicket, but I’m only moving in circles. The trees and animals look more menacing at every turn. But the music keeps me going, and it reminds me that there will be a clearing, that the darkness will turn to light, that a crystalline waterfall lies somewhere beyond this cycle of madness. We will only reach this place through continuous movement, change, and protection.”
Stunning album-closer “The Sun Will Rise Again” ends on a positively ebullient note of optimism, a transcendent vision of hope and things to come. According to Ardizoni, “It acknowledges and validates this feeling of melancholy that comes from experiencing this seemingly never ending suffering while being able to maintain the awareness that it will be better again some day. We will be together again, building the communities that we need to build with a new sense of purpose.”
Whew! Radical Welsh harpist runs rings around tradition on a thrilling set of nerve-riding, biting-point performances with processed lap harp for his Amgen label
Another piece of the puzzle to his 4-part ‘Pedlar’ boxset, this one was thrown down in 2011 at Newcastle’s legendary Morden Tower, a C.13th, grade-listed turret on the West Walls of the city’s ancient defences against curious Mackems and Durham scunners, that was also previously and notably site of seminal recordings by The New Blockaders, a.o. In that vein, Davies gets raw to the bone in ‘Wound Response’, using Lap harp fed thru transducer, read by contact microphone, and pushed to seething limits with volume pedal and two amps to make everything bleed in the red with fierce effect.
Accompanied by the quotation - ““And may the freed bear bathe his body amid the flows of the frozen north and not languish in the aquarium of distilled water in the academic garden.” Kazimir Malevich, Suprematist Manifesto (1916) - the album dances on the line between atonal freeness and melody with a wickedly demented alacrity and damaged/destructive results, running ruffshod and wild haired from the excoriating discord of ‘everything at each moment’ thru electrifying high line antics on ‘questions_____of middle distance’ to the caustic shredding of ‘a parallel or mirroring space’ and ‘here the sun does not enter’, with a janky bluesy brilliance in ‘only compromises were arrived at in the end’, spurting tongues of fire on the album’s longest burnout ‘the convergence of how we got here.’
Reissue of Mika Vainio's final album under the Ø moniker...
Following on from the crushing technoid scapes of 'Kilo' under his own name and the blackened alloys of his ÄÄNIPÄÄ album with Stephen O'Malley, 'Konstellaatio' reveals the revered producer at his most sensitive, teetering on the brink of the abyss and projecting to the stars. Between the goosebump-inducing panoramic pads of opener 'Otava' and the twinkling electro-dub of closer 'Takaisin' we're made privy to some of the strongest material in his whole oeuvre, and we really don't say that lightly.
His tactile manipulation of bass and sub-bass dynamics and spacious application of pure, isolated frequencies is just mindblowing, evoking imagery on sub-atomic scales. Far from being an academic exercise in production, there's an awe-inspiring and compelling sense of pathos and wonder at its core owing as much to the grandeur of Beethoven as it does the diffuse sound sculptures of Parmegiani.
It's pointless listening to this material on shit speakers because you're gonna miss half of it's extreme subtleties, but for those who know and care about this music, prepare to bunker down with one of Vainio's finest.
A keeling second dose of pirate radio advert rave excavations from Death Is Not The End, culling 40 more relics from the London airwaves c. 1984-1993.
Unless you’ve gone full hermit during lockdown and cut the internet conx, the first volume of this stuff has already gained cult status, covered in national media and coveted by ravers looking for any form of classic buzz. This 2nd set features a further 40 vignettes from the golden daze of rave, with voices flogging everything from datelines to “tasty leather jackets”, 25K turbo sound rigs, and, quite cannily, ads for throwback rare groove parties that kinda show certain UK ravers have always had one misty eye over the shoulder to a “golden era” when it was just better than it is now.
If we’re playing favourites, the blown out jungle rush of ‘Monster Soundsystem’ is right up there, along with some lass appearing to mimic M*ggie Th*tcher on House FM’s ‘Legal Pulse’ ad, the X-amount of flange on the Fantasia promo ’NYE ’93’, a spine-freezing ’Stunning Dimension’ rave flier, and most definitely the Scouse lass flogging “Tasty Leather Jackets” (well i’ll tell ya, it’s bad!). Despite that Today Programme feature doing its best to cover it all in a sneering/sexless/overly polite sheen, it’s completely undeniable that this stuff is just pure gold, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Death Is Not The End for putting the work in to get it all compiled.
Turn back the clock a decade or two and step into an acid-folk bath with Ben Chasny and Skygreen Leopards' Donovan Quinn. Ah it was all a bit easier back then eh?
Back in the mid-2000s, we were locked in a psychedelic folk whirlwind and somewhere near the center was Ben Chasny, aka Six Organs of Admittance. Not far from him was Donovan Quinn, whose band The Skygreen Leopards released some of the most memorable folk pop of the era via Jewelled Antler, Soft Abuse and eventually landing on Jagjaguwar. The duo teamed up in 2014 for the first New Bums full-length "Voices in a Rented Room" and are now back, just in time to remind us of simpler times with skeletal, jangling songs that are effortlessly memorable.
It's really like time has stood still; Chasny's vocals echo into the ether as Quinn's songs ring out with a radio-friendly intensity without sounding bait. It's a real achievement - just check 'Onward to Devastation' or 'Wild Dogs', familiar like old friends you havent seen for a while.
Now the Foxy Digitalis zine is back (on Substack, natch) it feels like the perfect time to rediscover New Weird America once again. It's got to be better than current America, right? Jeez.
Heady collaborative drone workouts from Beirut's Ruptured Records stable and Stockholm's Lumen Project. Deep, dense material, from floatation tank soundscapes to blunted doom rawk.
Last year, Lebanese label Ruptured Records assembled a team of 14 local musicians and paired them off to prepare a series of "drone" recordings. The results are collected on this fantastic seven-track set, that investigates the possibilities of drone music as well as its application in Lebanese leftfield music.
Opening track 'Roots' is a disarming ambient dream pop jam from Fadi Tabbal and Julia Sabra, with airy vocals smudged over throbbing analog synth pads and loops. From there, we're taken into a chattering electronic soundscape from Anthony Sahyoun & Jad Atoui and Elyse Tabet & Jawad Nawfal's gloomy, glacial dark ambient workout 'Courbe Lisse'.
The best is saved for last, a collaboration between Liliane Chlela & Ziad Moukarzel that's as grim, transcendent and blissfully noisy as Steven O'Malley and Peter Rehberg's seminal KTL sets.
The well trodden path of the Silk Road unveils new secrets to David Shea, who turns years of research into a masterfully absorbing trip for his latest opus with Lawrence English’s Room40
Landing square between the third eyes of Michael Ranta’s focussed east/west experiments and the more impressionistic scenes outlined by KWC 92, ‘The Thousand Buddhas’ feels out an epic journey across continents in a searching side intent on creating practical and esoteric connections between the myriad cultures, regions, and belief systems that follow the Silk Road between China and Rome, linking the ancient realities of Africa, Asia, India, Europe, and the Pacific region.
It’s no new obsession for David Shea, whose dozens of releases sine the early ‘90s have returned to these themes, specifically on ‘Hsi-Yu Chi’, ‘The Tower of Mirrors’, ‘Satyricon’, and ‘Rituals’, which were all based on adaptations of myths connected to the world’s ancient trading routes. Decades later, in a time when China is keenly pressing ahead with Silk Road 2.0, Shea’s latest retun to the area is a multi-dimensional thing, plotting a steeply immersive course from fathomless layers of gamelan percussion, field recordings, and keys, that reach some astonishing heights redolent of Alice Coltrane’s spiritual jazz as much as Michael Ranta’s forays deep into Eastern tradition.
Sleezy disco-funk avant sludge that drags itself thru decades of dance history - Chicago house, dnb, DIY techno, rave - and emerges seriously hung over.
Ravioli Me Away have been upsetting conservative listeners since 2013, and in 2019 decided to put together an opera, cuz why not. "The View From Behind The Futuristic Rose Tellis" was performed across the UK, with two sold-out shows in London, and forms the basis of "Naughty Cool", that rewires these operatic brain dumps as vintage club music. It's weird stuff too, from the discordant, Dubstar-esque breakbeat funque of 'Optimists Lament' to the Photek-cum-Bukem intelli-step of 'The Vanilla Alternative'. This isn't going to be for everyone, but those of you with a strong stomach for psychedelics and quirky musical theatrics are gonna have a field day.
Smurphy shines on Bokeh Versions again with angsty roller 'Summer Riddim', featuring three vocals from G Sudden, King Kush and RdL.
Mexico City-based producer Jessica Smurphy has been offering pure bottled heat to the Bokeh label in the last few months, and 'Summer Riddim' might be her moodiest beat yet. Duppy Gun vocalist G Sudden is first to the plate with a mind-bending mutant vocal that mirrors the cheeky charm of his blistering debut EP "Burnout Boss". King Kush throws down a dryer but no less impassioned take, chiming effortlessly thru Smurphy's woozy synths and pinprick finger-clicks, before Portmore's RDL rounds things up with another sing-along version, following an impressive turn on February's 'Streets'. Sci-fi dancehall transfigurations for adventurous headz.
Aussie underground mainstay Eugene Carchesio returns to Room40 with another collection of off-kilter rhythmic studies. This is a weird one: insectoid, hotwired rhythmic patterns for fans of Goem, Thomas Brinkmann or Ryoji Ikeda.
26 (!) tracks here, from 30 second car-alarm-gone-wrong siren jams to 11-minute slowly-shifting beat exercises. It's an uncompromising listen too, striking in its minimalism - really there's only ever one sound source - but a fascinating study of synthetic textures and pulses. Basically, it's like a hyper-minimal spin on the Pan Sonic model - Room40 describes it as "ant sci-fi" and that's pretty spot on.
This second collection of synthetic experiments from veteran Australian artist Eugene Carchesio is less stark than its predecessor, exploring Radiophonic blips and sci-fi synth tones with expert restraint.
There's a charming dedication present in Carchesio's music. He's clearly inspired by the early electronic innovators who would release short-run private press records that simply experimented with a single synth sound or element, wringing out every bit of creative potential in the process. On "No Place II" he shows his confidence with his chosen instrument, allowing rhythms to cycle into the void and tones to cascade, bounce and squelch until nothing's left. Fans of vintage library music or the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's golden era will find plenty of head-wobbling, lunar cave-dwelling goodness here. Doctor Who sounds for days!