16 hours of peerless, important works by Eliane Radigue relating to her work with the ARP 2500 synthesiser between 1971-2000. Prior to this period, Eliane worked exclusively with feedback on tape and oscillators, but her work from the ‘70s onward is defined by an uniquely meditative and transcendent grasp of microtonal minimalism which has latterly come to place her among the 20th century’s most esteemed and truly inimitable composers. Bearing in mind that Eliane realised this fathomless body of work in her Paris apartment away from professional recording studios, only makes it resonate more strongly with the idea that Eliane was a genuine outlier whose uniquely sober work divined an unquantifiable yet ultimately human nature in electronic music.
"Eliane Radigue was born in Paris. She studied “musique concrète” techniques at the “Studio d’Essai” of the RTF under the direction of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry (1956-57). She was married to the painter and sculptor Arman and devoted ten years to their three children. She then worked with Pierre Henry, as his assistant at the Studio APSOME (1967-68). She was in residence at the New York University School of Arts (1970-71), the University of Iowa and the California Institute of the Arts (1973) and Mills College (1998). She has created sound environments using looped tapes of various durations, gradually desynchronising.
Her works have been featured in numerous galleries and museums since the late 60s and from 1970, she has been associated to the ARP 2500 Synthesizer and tape through many compositions from Chry-ptus (1970) up to L’Île resonante (2000). These include: Biogenesis, Arthesis, Ψ 847, Adnos I, II and III (70s), Les Chants de Milarepa and Jetsun Mila (80s) and the three pieces constituting the Trilogie de la Mort (1988-91-93). Since 2002, she has been composing mostly acoustic works for performers and instruments. Her music has been featured in major international festivals. Her extremely sober, almost ascetic concerts, are made of a continuous, ever-changing yet extremely slow stream of sound, whose transformation occurs within the sonic material itself.
Radigue found her musical voice through the decisive encounter with “musique concrète” and its founding fathers. With Pierre Schaeffer, first, and then Pierre Henry, with whom she learned and perfected the art of tape recorders. She then developed a unique style by herself, freely continuing the exploration of electronic sounds, progressing with tenacity through her musical quest, without worrying about current trends or fashions, paying no attention to creeds or dogmas. An isolated course, out with fashions and institutions, such a singular and intense music, so remote from everything..."
Special coloured vinyl edition of Space Afrika’s excellent album of mutable ambient frameworks somewhere between Lee Gamble’s ‘Diversions', Jan Jelinek and The Connection Machine. Recommended late night listening…
Space Afrika offer a bird’s eye view of the city at night with Somewhere Decent To Live; their keenly anticipated first LP on sferic. Unshackled from dancefloor needs, but still inspired and feeding off its spirit and romance, the pair respectfully acknowledge the undercurrents of jungle, dubstep, ambient techno and deep house which feed into their home city’s late night economy, dowsing their tributaries back to dub and rendering the findings in a quiet, modestly lush ambient haze with a flawlessly anaesthetising effect.
Taking gaseous form as a series of dark blue hues and subbass pulses, the vibe inside is delectably elusive. Unlike their previous transmissions on Where To Now? and Köln’s LL.M., the pair’s dancefloor urges are dissolved in favour of suggestively mutable ambient frameworks, leaving the kicks in the club while they appear to float overhead like the dead kid embarking his Bardo in Gaspar Noé’s Enter The Void.
In firm but gentle style they feel out eight interlinked headspaces, drifting like spectral flanneurs from the Diversions-like opener uwëm/creãtiõn to intercept telepathic thoughts from Teutonic friends in the percolated subs and drizzly ambient clag of sd/tl, before arriving at the most arresting moment in their catalogue thus far with the masterfully widescreen yet immersive bly and its sublimely smeared timbral thizz.
The second half of the record subsequently describes a more inward journey from wistful loops in u+00B1 to the sylvan 2-step of gwabh and curve feat. Echium, ultimately culminating in the echo chamber melt of dred.
Ireland’s Lighght serves the best we’ve yet heard on Dream Catalogue with the brain-spanking convolutions of ‘The Skin Falls Off The Body’
Apparently discovered by the London-based internet cult/label via the ‘Lila Tirando A Violeta’ fundraising comp, Lighght makes a complex, tumultuous racket inspired by his personal dread - “an existential cocktail of hypochondria and anxiety” - that lives up to comparison with music by AFX, Æ and Dalglish.
After a blazing succession of Sound System heaters, Dug Out offers a spiritual session of seminal nyabinghi grounation from Dadawah circa 1974, perhaps the most mind-expanding, important spiritual dub reissue we've heard this last decade.
It's most likely a large influence upon the work of label head Mark Ernestus in his Rhythm & Sound guise, recalling the magical spirituality of classics like 'Making History' among others in the hypntoic, shuffling pace and intangibly smoky aura that seems to evaporate from the grooves with each listen. The group is led by Ras Michael, guiding a traditional set up of nyabinghi (ceremonial Rasta drums), bass, guitar, brass and Piano organ in four extended excursions over sublime, psychedelic terrain without a worry in the world.
As with much of the best reggae, much of the magic was elicited and embellished in post production, with Lloyd Charmers and Federal engineer George Raymond apparently staying up all night after the session to mix the recording, imbuing the tracks with a dazed, wide-open and echoing personal space. Keeping the standards impeccably high, the album was lovingly restored at Abbey Road and looks every bit the classic that it is. Big up Dug Out, this going to be on rotation round here for years to come.
Prayers are answered with Vainqueur’s Reductions 1995-1997, a compilation of in-demand cuts from René Löwe’s seminal Chain Reaction 12”s and Elevations CD, including the vinyl premiere of Antistatic and first ever appearance of Antistatic II on any format, all available on wax for the first time in over 20 years!
For anyone who came thru during the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Vainqueur records were required listening - beyond Maurizio’s M-Series and the Basic Channel catalogue, they’re some of the strongest dub techno trax in existence. Now, two decades later, they still appear regularly in the mixes of those in the know, but their 2nd hand prices have steadily crept up in parallel.
To newcomers and older fiends alike, this 3LP selection provides a perfect overview of Vainqueur’s most feted period (not withstanding his all-time banger Lyot , but that was a kinda one-off). The first disc revolves his banging Reduce 1 and the monotone brilliance of Reduce 2, whilst the 2nd disc renders the more tender gasps and dub chords of Solanus (Original) and the heady Elevation II - both masterclasses in German techno minimalism - while the 3rd disc significantly presents the flared chords of Antistatic, taken from the Elevations CD, on vinyl for the 1st time, backed with the exclusive-to-this-12” Antistatic II.
The second instalment from Basic Channel's offshoot, Basic Replay, a reissue label convened to showcase prime influences and lesser known inspirations, the men from Berlin have selected and remastered a truly shocking follow up to Keith Hudson's 'Playing It Cool..' album reissued last year.
'Call me rambo' was originally recorded in 1986 and released on the Heavyweight label, an imprint formed by the Heavyweight soundsystem, based in the Wood Green and Tottenham areas of north London. Featuring Chester Roots at the controls and his nephew Ackie at the microphone, this is raw and dangerous english dancehall. Hailing from that blissful period in the middle eighties, when clubs could play Marley Marl next to Super Cat, or Half Pint next to early Trax records, 'Call Me Rambo' opens with a bang, racked with strafing machine gun fire and the helicopter sounds free with a Commodore 64, natty dread a go scientific an' ballistic.
Stylistically speaking, Ackie's voice is reminiscent of the great Barrington Levy, and the simply enormous, rampant rhythm sends shockwaves through any musical system - all b-boys and hardcore addicts would do well to sweep a copy of this and ask questions later. Flip the script, and Chesse retains Ackie's winning 'Don't push me' refrain, and much of the sonic elements but works the board hard, 'Rambo Gun Salute' as a part two is simply perfection, dubwise and anywise. 'Rambo Salute' takes the dub even further out, as Ackie drifts further into the mix, and Chester works it on out in true ragamuffin style. "Ramming dancehall is the priority", so the man say. This has shattered the office record for rewinds this week and is utterly essential for ALL self-respecting music fans.
Manny man Grizzle fuses heat-seeking R&G and below-kelvin Drill styles on his debut missile ‘Quinine’ for the city’s strongest grime label/club night; Chow Down
After previously sharpening his teef in collaboration on the ‘Fallow & Grizzle’ EP, Grizzle works the energy levels from low-key, slunky up to outright ecstatic and back again across 4 original productions.
‘Plasma’ tempers trilling 808s and hyperdiva vox in a wavey R&G burner, while ‘Loosed’ initially goes weightless, then calves off into full sunk subs and reversed loops with a rugged, futurist sort of psychedelic intensity native to UK and US club styles.
However, it’s likely that the title cut, with its ohrwurm motifs and bittersweet, bolshy lean is destined for widest reach, while ‘Gauntlet’ scans glowing new horizons of tranced-out grime with an expert grasp of pressure control.
Opiated, psychoacoustic dérives between processed field recordings, far flung voices, atmospheric electronics and outernational percussion, imagined and executed by Berlin/NYC’s Soundwalk Collective.
‘Death Must Die’ impressionistically describes a day in the sacred Indian city of Varanasi - a principle site of death for Hindus, where they come to die and burn their dead - and takes listeners from the blue hour before dawn right through to the end of the day, by the Ganges, to meditate on the intoxicating nature of death.
Strut dust down an electro-zouk peach from late ‘80s Guadaloupe, reissued outside the Caribbean Island for the 1st time!
“Producer Darius Denon explains: “This was 1988 and bands like Zouk Machine and Kassav were huge. I had met producer Frankie Brumier when I was performing at festivals and parties and he wanted to record a girl group so we began scouting venues, mainly around the Grande-Terre district in the island’s capital, Pointe-à-Pitre. I ran auditions and picked out the best three voices – Fabienne, Leïla and Yolande. One was singing in a choir and none of them had met each other previously.”
Recording at a studio in Le Gosier, Denon trained them to sing the songs and spent around 6 weeks recording the album: “I gave them a couple of compositions that I had planned for my own solo album. I remember that we all got on really well; the sessions were fun.”
The title track ‘Las Palé’ was the lead track pushed as a single and achieved modest success domestically. The band did a few promotional performances in the island’s discotheques but, in the end, the album stalled. “Studios were expensive and there was no cheap technology as we have now. So, the producer ended up cutting corners with the production – the mix was not completely finished and the voices were not synchronised right to some of the tracks.”
For Denon, he continued his career to the present day, successfully moving to Paris and breaking through with the hit ‘Je t’emmene’ in 1998. Meanwhile, although ‘Las Palé’ turned out to be Feeling Kréyol’s only recording, the interest in the album has grown in recent years with the title track’s lo-fi charm finding its way into sets by Invisible City and onto Red Light Radio, NTS and more.”
Superb curio from NYC-based Kathleen Baird, now Ka Baird for the purposes of this LP, sweeping from alien/avian electronics to Sun Ra-meets-Pekka Airaksinen electro-jazz freenuss, iridescent string and flute movements, and one a-m-a-z-i-n-g piece of flute, vox and pulsing bass that sounds like a winged sister of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe - practically worth it for this one alone! Seriously - one of the most original and brilliant things we've heard this year...
"Sapropelic Pycnic is the world debut of music presented under the name of Ka Baird. While this record is a commencement of many sorts, it is in no way a mere beginning: Ka was one of the founding members of experimental psychlings Spires That In the Sunset Rise. Formed in 2001 out of the Chicago scene, and described by late guitar legend Jack Rose as a "female Sun City Girls," Spires' sisterhood of sound deepened the New Folk slant with an array of avant- and world-flavored directions drawing them ever-farther into the source.
Ka relocated to NYC in late 2014 and immediately embarked upon new directions - exploring piano improvisations, electroacoustic intervention, extended vocal technique, physical movement and the electronic processing of her flute playing.With the release of Sapropelic Pycnic, Ka manifests an evolving self-hood, expanding upon the essence of her first two albums' artist name, while replacing and thus becoming that name on her own. Reaching toward the ancient roots of music, Ka utilizes electronic manipulation on the single "Tok Tru" to take the ear past preconception, combining the linearity of the physical with the abstraction of the cerebral, crafting textural rhythmic noise with lush operatic passages.
Conceived live as a series of solo vignettes and played that way by Ka (featuring contributions from Max Eilbacher (electronics), Sandy Gordon (vibraphone) and Troy Schafer (violin), Sapropelic Pycnic draws from primordial ooze and raises high a sacrifice to the immemorial concept of the sacred. We are standing on the verge of a great chasm. Sapropelic Pycnic uses tools both ancient and modern to draw Ka Baird - and all who listen - upward, toward the eternal!"
Smalltown Supersound celebrates its 25th anniversary with an epic new mix album of the Smalltown Supersound catalogue by Prins Thomas. Featuring artists including Sonic Youth, DJ Harvey, Studio, Yoshimi (Boredoms), Kim Gordon, Oneohtrix Point Never, Todd Rundgren, Stereolab, High Llamas, Neneh Cherry, Ricardo Villalobos, Four Tet, Bjørn Torske, Dungen, The Orb, Kelly Lee Owens, Lindstrøm, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Biosphere, Peter Brötzmann, and many more.
"I started Smalltown Supersound in 1993 while in high school in Flekkefjord, a small town of 4,000 inhabitants in the south of Norway. There was obviously no supersound in our small town. It was just an ironic name I came up with to release some tapes with lo-fi/noise/bedroom recordings by my brother and his friends. The name was inspired by my hometown and the catalogue number STS was a homage to SST, a label I deeply admired at the time (and still do). Little did I know that I would have to live with that name for the rest of my life.
I started the label before I knew what a record label was. So I gradually learned it by doing. And it was part of me growing up. It might sound like a cliché, but in many ways the label is the soundtrack of my life. Thomas has now made it into a mixtape.
We all hate to see photos of ourselves when we were younger, the bad haircuts and the strange clothes. It is the same thing when you run a label. You constantly look back on things you regret. This mix makes me see the label from the outside in a way I don’t think I have before. And to my surprise the haircuts and the clothes weren't as bad and strange as I remembered.
I have to admit that when I listened to it the first time, I was moved. First of all, because of the deep and true love Thomas has put into this mix. Second, because some of these tracks I haven't heard in 20-25 years. It really felt like revisiting the past. And in a very good way.
Thomas has followed the label since the early beginnings. Back in the days I was always thinking: “He’s a house/disco DJ – why does he want my noise records?”. I realize now I wasn't smart enough to understand his scope. I didn't understand it until his mix album Cosmic Galactic Prism, which is one of my favorite mix albums of all time. So for me it was very obvious that Thomas should make the Smalltown Supersound mix. I just couldn't imagine that he would go this beautifully far with it.
Since day one I have tried to have a red thread run through the releases and the label's DNA. Most of the time I am probably the only one who sees it. And many times I don't even see it myself. Now Thomas has found the spiritual unity.
While I have always struggled to describe what the label is, only now – with this mix – I can finally say: this is what it is. "
Joakim Haugland Oslo, August 2018
‘Body’ is the mesmerising 20th studio album by cult Aussie trio The Necks. It lands nearly 30 years into their singular run of sprawling, freeform yet coolly disciplined kosmiche jazz treks to prove, where needed, the timeless scope and appeal of Tony Buck, Chris Abrahams, and Lloyd Swanton in combination...
Unfolding nearly 1 hour of fluidly spaced and patiently timed drums, guitar, piano, synth and acoustic bass permutations, ‘Body’ is an instant classic in The Necks’ restlessly shapeshifting catalogue. As ever, their playing is modestly virtuosic and democratic. No one element dominates the others. Rather, they move as a feathered phalanx in dynamic murmuration, moving from breezy swirls of percussion over low-lying bass eddies in the first part, thru a passage of lysergic deliquescence, to a motorik post rock climax and far out into synth-curdled space jazz.
However, any literal description of ‘Body’ will fall short of grasping its full majesty. It’s an album that needs to be received with the patience with which it was made. Only by submitting to its intuitive quantum physics for the duration, and allowing yourself to roll with their unique syncopation and naturally unpredictable dynamics, can you comprehend their music’s full, transportive effect.
Jan Jelinek offers a classic, remastered and extended selection of material by Ursula Bogner, presenting a possibly apocryphal, definitely charming batch of early electronics purportedly made at home by Ursula between 1969-1988. It's either Jelinek himself offering up an enticing slice of sonic fiction, or a genuine archival oddity - either way, great to have it back again.
Back in 2008, Ursula’s ‘Recordings 1969-1988’ formed the maiden release on Jelinek’s Faitiche label. Chins were stroked, heads-scratched at where it all came from - the promo notes suggested a chance encounter with Ursula’s son led to the discovery of her home-made recordings on reel-to-reel and HiFi cassettes - however, more sceptical listeners, us included, weren’t entirely convinced. Short of taking a time machine back to the classes Ursula supposedly attended at the Studio for elektronische Musik in Kiln at the WDR with Herbert Eimert, we’ll never really know, but the music loses none of its appeal either way. Quite simply if you’ve ever found yourself wrapped up in works by Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire, F.C. Judd or Malcolm Pointon, you’re almost sure to love this playful collection.
“Jelinek on the music's initial discovery: "It seems incredible that Bogner's musical talents should have remained undiscovered, but in view of her biography, this might have been inevitable. I met Sebastian Bogner, Ursula's son, on a flight, and the usual small talk led to the topic of his mother, who 'liked to play around with synthesizers', albeit purely on an amateur level. Among her acquaintances, it was considered an eccentric hobby and not paid a great deal of interest. Bogner's life seemed simple and bourgeois to the core: she was a pharmacist, wife and mother. This situation made her obsession with electronic music all the more bizarre - an obsession that saw her build her own home studio. Throughout her early twenties, she followed the activities of Studio für elektronische Musik, attended seminars by Studio founder Herbert Eimert, exhibited enthusiasm for Musique Concrète and later shared her children's enthusiasm for new wave. Nevertheless, Bogner never involved herself in any scene, never made her music public. Her compositions, betray few signs of esotericism; they are closer to studies and sketches, humorous and almost silly, rather than tied to any particular school. Nevertheless, it is remarkably hard to grasp or classify her work as a whole.
Over the course of 20 years, she dabbled in many different styles, leading to a bewildering variety of titles. In the late 1960s, Bogner started to record her own music on reel-to-reel tapes. Covering a fairly short period of her creative career, this music conveys a peculiar coherence in both form and content, a coherence that reflects her accessible, rhythmic and sometimes even poppy side. My own preference played a part in the selection process, but a further compilation is already in the works. I hope that listeners will enjoy the same exhilaration I experienced on discovery of Ursula Bogner's music"
We can hardly believe it, Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore’s diaze-jazz masterpiece finally touches wax some 16 years since the original CD first cast its long shadow over our evenings. Quite simply; a must-have for fans of Lynch & Badalamenti soundtracks!!!
After spending so much time with this essential record it’s become even harder to sum up its impact as it just defines a whole sound or even a feeling for us, and we’d ideally rather leave that definition as smoky and mysterious as the sounds that curl from its black grooves.
It’s an album best absorbed or drunk deeply with close friends or solo in comfortable, low lit situations, preferably with a single malt and mellow smokes for best reception if that suits you. What ensues is as life-affirmingly contemplative and uncannily memorable as it gets, conjuring imagery of classic film noir and rainy city panoramas that conveys an underlying, romantic darkness which faultlessly seduces us every time.
Quite honestly, every home should own a copy for those times when nothing else will do, holding up a rain-spattered black mirror for those times when you’re at the end-of-the-rope, dangling for life, just can’t figure out your feelings, or need reassurance that you’re not the only one prone to those thoughts.
La Casa Tropical unearth another South African dance bomb with Bayete’s ‘Blue Monday’ and the boogie disco lust of ‘Open Your Heart (Vula)’
The title tune is a slow, balmy boogie with melodic lyrics lamenting a ‘Blue Monday’, contrasted by some pitched down call and response.
But the big one is the B-side’s ‘Open Your Heart (Vula)’, where they raise the tempo slightly with sighing synth vamps and greazed-up bassline paving the groove under a belting vocal.
An excellent Arvo Pärt primer...
"Arvo Pärt creates music of deceptive simplicity, and listening to his work can be a transformative experience. Imagine taking your ears on a retreat, and you’re some way to understanding why his work is so popular.
The Estonian composer underwent his own transformation in the 1970s, having explored dense avant-garde music in the early part of his career. He put himself through an eight-year creative exile, and emerged with a new, purer voice. The Arvo Pärt that many people are devoted to today (including R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Björk) creates music that cleanses. A sonic detox."
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.
Special white vinyl pressing of Pendant’s gaseous, shoegazing 'Make Me Know You Sweet’, without a doubt one of the most immersive electronic albums released this year. Pendant is, of course, the alias of Brian Leeds aka Huerco S - here delving into the kind of blurred harmonic bliss that avoids ambient cliché and instead acts as an absorbing vessel for deep introspection...
The artist sometimes known as Huerco S. ushers a phase shift of sound on the shoegazing harmonic gauze of Make Me Know You Sweet, his immersive debut proper under the Pendant alias. In this horizontal mode he relays abstract stories from a headspace beyond the dance, placing his interests in the Romantic landscapes of JMW Turner, Robert Ashley’s avant-garde enigmas, and Indigenous North American philosophy at the service of a more expressive, oneiric sound that sub/consciously avoids the trapfalls of ‘chillout’ ambient cliché.
Across seven amorphous, texturally detailed tracks he establishes far reaching coordinates for both Pendant and the West Mineral label, which aims to release everything except commonly accepted, traditional forms of late 20th/early 21st century dance music, while also representing the work of his inner circle of friends, producers and artists. In that sense there’s a definite feeling of “no place like home” to his new work, but that home appears altered, much in the same way The Caretaker/Leyland Kirby deals with themes of memory and nostalgia.
It’s best described as mid-ground music, as opposed to the putative background purpose of Ambient styles, or the upfront physicality of dance music. Rather, the sound here billows and unfurls with a paradoxically static chaos, occupying and lurking a space between the eyes and ears in a way that’s not necessarily comforting, and feels to question the nature and relevance of ubiquitous pastoral, new age tropes in the modern era of uncertainty and disingenuity.
The results ponder an impressionistic, romantically ambiguous simulacra of reel life worries and anxiety, feeling at once dense and impending yet without centre. From the keening, 11 minute swell of VVQ-SSJ at the album’s prow, to the similar scope of its closer, Pendant presents an absorbing vessel for introspection, modulating the listener’s depth perception and moderating our intimacy with an elemental push and pull between the curdling, bittersweet froth of BBN-UWZ, the dusky obfuscation of IBX-BZC and, in the supremely evocative play of phosphorescing light and seductive darkness in the mottled depths of KVL-LWQ, which also benefits from additional production by Pontiac Streator.
Make Me Know You Sweet taps into a latent, esoteric vein of American spirituality that’s always been there, yet is only divined by those who remain open-minded to its effect.
Coil’s unearthly garden continues to bloom posthumously with the Astral Disaster Sessions - including a whole bunch of previously unreleased and rare cuts from the Un/finished Musics recordings finally seeing the light of day, transferred from analogue tapes onto Gary Ramon’s Prescription label a year after the remastered original sessions crept out on vinyl reissue.
Notoriously recorded in the former debtors prison-turned-Iron Maiden studio beneath the River Thames, on Samhain, 1998, the Astral Disaster Sessions - Un/finished musics serves a haul of previously unreleased or hard-to-find versions of tracks from the original Astral Disaster [1999/2016] LPs, which are widely regarded a seminal highlight of Peter Christopherson, Johnn Balance, Drew McDowell, Thighpaulsandra and Gary Ramon’s time together as Coil.
On the A-side you’ll now find swirling raga-noise meditation The Sea Priestess (Early Mix) next to a sublime, previously omitted Part 2 tract of The Mothership and the Fatherland, and a skinnier, plasmic Alternative mix of The Avatars, but we imagine the big attractions for Coil fiends will be the Instrumental mix of I Don’t Want To be the One, which was previously only found on a rare 1999 promo-only Prescription sampler, and most particularly the ghostly and invasively psychedelic 14 minutes of Cosmic Disaster, which was the original working title for Astral Disaster, and has never been released on any format.
Drag City reissue O'Rourke's timeless fusion of Bossa-pop, folk, classic rock and jazz.
"Here's another few sides of long-ago and far-away Jim O'Rourke back on vinyl for the first time since way back. It's the 'Halfway To A Threeway' 12" back to set turntables a-spinnin'. Fans of his 'Eureka' and 'Insignificance' albums (not to mention Jim's tomfoolery as part of the Loose Fur band) will appreciate the analogue pressing of these four cuts of the pop music party-pooper combination of folk, classic rock, smooth jazz and a bit of the avant-garde to help communicate the twisted ways of the misanthrope that made Jim such a perennial int he fickle world of record sales.
A quick listen to the title track exposes our sweet soul-crusher as a lustful man-beast on the make. The song is a straight folk number. Straight, that is, until you listen through the haze of those 6 string overtones and chirpy harmony vocals to hear the true perversity of O'Rourke's fantasies. The whole record's a blast, and it hasn't really aged that much in the eleven-odd years since it first emerged."
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...
Jan Jelinek’s iconic album 'Improvisations And Edits, Tokyo 26.09.2001’ is finally given a vinyl issue for the first time. It’s another deep blue mood piece full of fragmented Jazz loops which will be essential listening for those of you enamoured not only with 'Loop Finding Jazz Records’ but also his quiet masterpiece 'Personal Rock’, released under ther Gramm alias. If you’re as obsessed with that album as we are, this reissue is a must.
"For the original 2002 CD on Soup-Disk and Sub Rosa (Audiosphere), Jan Jelinek and the Japanese trio Computer Soup (Satoru Hori – trumpet, Osamu Okubo - toys & electronics, Kei Ikeda - toys & electronics) presented eight tracks all recorded one afternoon in the trio’s living room in Tokyo. They are excerpts from a joint group improvisation that subsequently underwent rudimentary editing, on which Jelinek and Computer Soup worked separately.
Jelinek met the three musicians at his first concert in Japan in 2001, at Tokyo’s Yellow club, where Computer Soup performed as the support act. Delighted by their free improvisation on pocket-sized electronic toys, trumpet and oscillators, he arranged to meet Hori, Okubo and Ikeda a few days later for a session at their apartment. The resulting three-hour recording, made on their living room floor, formed the basis for Improvisations and Edits. A few days later, Jelinek returned to Berlin. Over the following months, they separately chose passages from the recording that were then edited and assembled into an album.
Formed in Tokyo in 1996 as a quintet (including Shusaku Hariya and Daisuke Oishi), Computer Soup began by performing with acoustic instruments on the streets of Shibuya. Ikeda und Okubo soon switched instruments, and from then on the group’s minimalistic but densely woven sound was defined by electronic toys, oscillators and Satoru Hori’s trumpet. Their first album was released in 1997 on the Japanese label Soup Disk. Eight further releases followed."
Jesus this album in incredible. Heather Leigh channels Kate Bush and Coil via lapsteel guitar and staggering vocals on a her new album for Editions Mego. Following her previous solo LP ‘I Abused Animal’ for Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ with a record that few beyond her inner circle could have predicted. Epic in scope, devastating on impact. Do not miss this one!
“Heather Leigh takes her Throne as queen of pedal steel with a suite of heartbleed ballads cauterised with burning riffs. After the rawness of its precursor I Abused Animal, Throne is a record of late night Americana and heavy femininity; intimate love songs smoked in sensuality. The songs on Throne are woozy, gorgeous and uncomfortable, smothered in thick layers of bass but lifted by multitracked vocals. These are rich song forms that stand in contrast to the stripped down steel in her duo with Peter Brotzmann.
Prelude To Goddess sashays in wearing leopard print jeans under the twinkling fluorescent illuminations of the British seaside, like Brighton Rock with extra bass. It is followed in by Lena – arguably Leigh's Jolene – a perverse love song soaked in a subversive sexuality, weighed down with a heavy pulse. Soft Seasons is anchored with sunken beats shrouded in wailing, growling steel and an earwormy melody. Gold Teeth, the longest track on the record, crests and breaks in waves; ecstatic peaks balanced and echoed by melancholic troughs. It soars on an updraft, and from cosmic heights dives seaward into a gnarly and riotous pedal steel breakdown, before catching the breeze again.
Days Without You and Scorpio & Androzani are shorter, intimate songs, in the latter the synths seethe and the steel bows and bends as Leigh's voice falters above a Greek chorus of shadows and reflections. But this isn't autobiography, and Throne departs on Days Without You, a confrontationally unfinished romantic song, anxious with half-thoughts and missed connections. It glides into the night on stilettos leaving unanswered questions, in a fug of psychic disturbance and lovesick sensuality.
Leigh's artwork (which she photographed and designed) is a visual mirror of the songs on Throne. It is an album of cosmic echoes, abstractions and introspection, of characters and stories that make up Leigh's first best pop record, its melodies and hooks set alight with the fiery core of her unique and distinctive pedal steel. - Jennifer Lucy Allen, 2018”
Elvin Brandhi (Yeah You) and Odie Ji Ghast are Bad@Maths for the indomitable Slip label. Fractured 2-step, refracted R&B and deconstructed pop shrapnel are reframed in the most beguiling, hypermodernist and psychotomimetic style. A big tip to fans of Sensational, V/Vm, Mica Levi, even recent Raime 12”s!
“'PROSEGUR' is the obliterating Slip debut of North-Eastern security force Bad@Maths: pulped voices scrawled on wasted digital clatter.
The voices of Elvin Brandhi and Odie Ji Ghast have stamped themselves inexorably on the Slip catalogue - Ghast's swoops and blabbers and Brandhi's doosmday swaggers all over pairings with bassist Otto Willberg and pop-garbler Mykl Jaxn (as Yeah You) respectively.
As Bad@Maths, the duo's inimitable speaking-in-tongues practice lurches through electronic daggers and gunge. Elvin and Odie's roaming productions are a smash-and-grab on the furthest reaches of contemporary trap and grime, their voices re-animating 'net-culled spirits amongst whipslap beats. Modern mores, nasty drift.”
The Skaters’ Spencer Clarke highlights the little-known but brilliant parallel worlds and wormholes of Germany’s Dörte Marth a.k.a. MAAT with a compilation of her first two records. Fans of Spencer’s exotic trips, Dale Cornish’s stripped down drum tracks, or the kinda esoteric audness plucked out by Freedom To Spend need to check this one!
Compiling MAAT’s not particularly rare, but certainly overlooked, first two LPs - ‘Konstruktionen’ [Dom Elchklang, 1993], and ‘Sie’ [Dragnet Records, 1993] - ‘The Next’ brings us up to speed with her highly personalised mid ‘90s work, covering a surreal spectrum of sounds ranging from ‘SAW II’-like slithering ambient creatures, to unique twists on Far Eastern styles, and future baroque synth pieces. It’s quite a revelation.
Matias Aguayo tramples out mystic South American rhythms, joined by vocal from Mujaji The Rain
The combo of squashed, swaggering drums and free vocal in the original recall Toresch, while the ‘Club Mix’ is pushed forward in the mix, and the ‘Drums’ are waiting for canny DJs in-the-mix.
‘Serious’ again smartly lives up to our Toresch analogy, meshing drunken master groove with possessed vocals and police sirens in the original, and stripped down to reveal whirring funk mechanics at work in the instrumental.
Mega digidub artillery form TNT Roots, backed with a spiralling version by John T. Gast, who’s also behind its release on 5 Gate Temple
Somehow manifesting as TNT Roots’ first 7” after more than a decade of CD releases via his Lion Musik label, and a recent 12” with London’s Bokeh Versions, the keen trample of ‘Chant Down Babylon Verse 2’ is a deadly steppers bullet eager for deployment on the biggest rig DJs can lay their hands on.
The British “neo-dub” producer finds a strong spiritual and physical ally in John T. Gast on the flip, who faithfully handles a ‘Gast Version’, running extra mentallic FX and extending the ting with an extra layer of gorgeous, dreamy ‘90s ambient pads, with no loss to the original’s heavy momentum.
Tunisia’s Deena Abdelwahed inhabits a fascinating space between tradition and technology, history and futurism in her strikingly moody debut solo album ‘Khonnar’, following from production credits on Fever Ray’s ’Plunge’ and use of her tracks in mixes by M.E.S.H. and Paula Temple. Subbass fiends need to check the final track ‘Rabbouni’, while fans of Jasss and Muslimgauze will gets strong kicks throughout...
“Deena Abdelwahed’s first album is shifting the epicenter of contemporary electronic music south. Pronounced “Ronnar“ (an essential detail so as to avoid facile misinterpretation by French- speakers) it is a term that makes the most of Tunisia’s cultural and linguistic spectrum. It evokes the dark, shameful and disturbing side of things, the one we usually seek to hide, but which Deena instead sticks our noses in with her debut. It is a testament to Deena’s coming into her own as a world citizen, and as an artist. A self-construction made of frustrations and constraints, borne of retrograde mindsets, which are not the prerogative of either the East or the West, and which she tirelessly strives to expose and break.
Throughout the 45 minutes of “Khonnar“, Deena breaks down the codes of bass, techno and experimental music, and writes the manifesto for a generation that does not seek to please or to conform, taking back control of its identity – with all the attendant losses and chaos. A new creative world order is taking shape, a new tilting point between north and south, the response of a connected and liberated youth who takes the control of the new decolonization.”
Carla Dal Forno yields her self-released cover versions tape, ‘Top Of The Pops’, which was previously only available on her 2018 US tour
Recorded on the cusp of winter/spring, it features Dal Forno placing a gently haunted spin on personal pop & wave favourites by The B-52’s, Rénee, The Kiwi Animal, Liliput, Lana Del Rey, and The Fates.
Stripped down to their essence, the songs provide a fine showcase for Carla’s strong yet plaintive vocals and skill in painting and framing her subtle instrumental backdrops. The results are most alluring in her skeletal reduction of the B-52’s ‘Give Me Back My Man’, with its seaside town-in-winter ambience, and in the dark blue stripe of her take on Lana Del Rey’s ’Summertime Sadness’, but we’re sure you’ll all have your own favourites.
Sold out at source. Think quick if you’d like one.
Jim O’Rourke is ready to talk to you again with his first pop album since 2001.
"Simple Songs’ is an amazing record of musical song entertainment because Jim O’Rourke knows what he wants and how to get it. The range of sounds and songs that have turned Jim’s head are numerous enough to have crushed together into something that is unmistakably his. The music is played so immaculately by so many instruments and most of them by the creator’s hand.
‘Simple Songs’ was worked over, from source material to finished mix, for five years or more now. Jim’s writing is rooted in the approach of ‘Insignificance’ - frosted pop tarts that leave a darkly bitter aftertaste. Let ‘Simple Songs’ seep into your brain, as a musical expression and a statement of animal motherhood. It may help you get your bearings in a world gone hopeless."
Seb Gainsborough's debut album as Vessel arrives on Tri Angle, immediately expanding what the label stands for even as it reinforces some of its central tenets.
But what's important about this splendid record isn't what label it's on, it's the music itself - and we have to say that the Young Echo member has really excelled himself, crafting a nocturnal epic of a depth, breadth and maturity remarkable from one so young.
Sculpting a self-contained sound-world largely distinct from anything he's released before, he favours a mood of inscrutable darkness and claustrophobia, yet manages still to be generous with hooks, with meat, with substance. Forget R&B; a rugged dub sensibility and a very British kind of radiophonic whimsy account for the DNA of each track here: at times the album feels closer in spirit to a Mark Stewart or a Cabaret Voltaire than to a Balam Acab or a Holy Other. Highlights? The fractious reggae drift of 'Stillborn Dub' , the Shake-via-Peverelist swing of 'Images Of Bodies', the scuffed sepulchral house of 'Aries', the jerry-built, glass-bowl-accented techno of 'Plane Curves' , the juddering, isolationist funk of 'Temples' and 'Lache' (both of which can stand proud next to recent Actress) - we could go on.
Melodically, rhythmically and above all texturally, Vessel resists easy or obvious tropes and strategies, and reinvigorates tired forms, but without falling into obtuseness for its own sake; the result is surely one of this year's most accomplished debuts.
One of many peaches on Wackies, few are sweeter than Love Joys’ Lovers Rock Reggae Style .
Produced and originally issued by the JA/NYC bossman Bullwackie, and subsequently reissued via their Hardwax hook-up outta Germany, who’ve rightly kept it in print (this edition), Lovers Rock is all killer no filler, starring Claudette Brown and Sonia Abel riding high over killer disco-dub-edged lovers rock riddims such as the bubbling beauty One Draw and the synth-buoyed float of Let Me Rock You Now, all replete with dubs.
Having stated on many an occasion that Hardwax affiliates Pete and René, aka Scion, understood and played Basic Channel material in the way it was intended to be played, the release of Ableton's 'Live' software convinced Mark and Moritz that the time had come to try something new out.
And that's precisely what this CD is - components from all 9 Basic Channel 12"s, (plus some choice cuts from related project Rhythm and Sound and remix work for Carl Craig), weave in and out of the mix, flawlessly spliced together, remodeeled and reshaped with a deep understanding of the BC sound and a look towards its future.
The first cut employs fragments from Cyrus's 'Inversion', 'Mutism', 'Radiance III' and the Basic Channel reworking of Cral Craig's 'The Climax' - 4 classics, re-modelled to create something new, somewhere between mixing and remixing - and that's just the opening sequence. Flowing from first moment to last, it's a bit of a benchmark release that not only serves as a testimony to one of the most treasured and beloved catalogues in all of electronic music, but also illustrates that technology really can be about more than just presets and self indulgance.
Fans of Basic Channel will melt into this CD on first play, those of you new to the label will do well to give this a listen and understand exactly what all the fuss has been about...
Minimalist hypnotists Ambarchi, Sprenger and Sollmann manipulate the dance with deeply trippy results for Ostgut's A-Ton sublabel
In two extended, kraut-y flights the trio place a wealth of multi-disciplinary, avant-garde experience at the service of dancefloor enlightenment, conjuring a lysergically timeless sound that richly exceeds the sum of its inputs.
With the 15 minute ‘Panama’ they hinge a lone clave around chipping guitar and synthlines in a sublimely tempered ascent thru microtonal increments and eye-fluttering arps, working out something like Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe channelling ancient spirits.
On ’Suez (Version)’ they loosen up the groove with a rolling swing that accumulates strange, pitch-bent synth twang and grubbing electronics until we’re lost in a lush chromatic maelstrom by the half way mark, from which point they really take off, leaving the dancefloor hundreds of miles below, showered in electronic perseids.
Really feeling this!
Surprise drop from Shackleton, his first of 2018, following up ’Behind The Glass’ on this Woe To The Septic Heart! label
There’s a discernible Far Eastern bent to both tracks, nodding in the direction of Indonesian percussive styles from Uwalmassa or Senyawa, but still with that outernational nous that also lends it to comparison with Ekuka’s Ugandan thumb piano recordings or Psychic Warriors of Gaia style tribal techno.
‘Furnace of Guts’ is a mercurial, polychromatic flow of stuttering voices, glinting high register percussion and wriggling bottom end feathered into increasingly noisy, knotted formations, while ‘Wakefulness and Obsession’ is more potently hypnotic, droning and viscous.
Angular, jabbing, psychedelic post-industrial/post-punk from early ‘80s Holland, drawn from hard-to-find and obscure tapes releases by Emotional Rescue and Mannequin Records
"Taken from two 12” EPs, a split 7” and a flexi 7”, all released in 1982, the music within Word & Numbers captures striking compositions, part of, but some way removed from their contemporary post-punk bands coming out of the Dutch “Ultra” scene of the time.
Developing out of a series of concerts in Amsterdam, Ultra expanded to Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Haarlem, with artists and musicians creating their own work spaces and studios. Driven by the DIY mentality of the punk movement, this uniquely Dutch take on the post-punk ethos embraced avant-garde thinking and experimentation that disseminated in ideas and from that, sound.
Coming from Haarlem, Nexda – consisting of Ivo Schalkx, Karin Hueting, Martienden Nijs – played music on handmade drums, metal, organ, saxophone and voice. Releasing a series of cassettes on their and Wim Dekker (Smalts, Minny Pops) Studio 12 label, the latter’s link with Wally Van Middendorp’s Plurex label, resulted in the release of Nexda’s two EP – 246, 121 and 657 (PLUREX 0026) and Second (PLUREX 0031) - with artwork of Ivo Schalkx, are included here, both in their entirety.
Capturing the bands’ heavy percussive backdrop, raw, dub baselines contrast with questioning, mainly spoken word lyrical poetics, saxophone underplay and occasional Pablo-style melodica. The avant nature of the music is apparent and enticing, where experimentalism and artistic expression was sought over commercial success and technique and song form were less important than the process of exploring ideas.
The none-descriptive titles match song structures that jettison the traditional verse, chorus, verse; weaving across the 8 songs so that they can be heard as one, as much asshort bursts of individual statements."
Leading on from his much loved album and some tuffer 12”S for Anagogic Force and Further Electronix, Brainwaltzera returns to Film a more melancholic shadow of himself
The ‘Epi-Log’ EP portrays a darker blue side of his sound, taking in the grain slow-slugging drone-techno of ‘Triangulate Dither [fairytale Version]’, along the agitated electronic of ‘Laif of Smit’ and poignant ambient vignette ‘[take 2]’ and the late ’90s AFXism, ‘CountDempops’, before finish with the upsweep of Braindance in ‘Bad Endgar’, and ‘Dropp On Gminor’.
Scorching, sprawling, lysergic psych and free jazz jams from Jibóia, a new artist from the fertile Portuguese undergrowth, picked up and presented on the ever-searching Discrepant label. Make sure to check the wild combo of sustained sax peal and pounding drums in ‘Diatessaron’, and the full-blown 15 minute Sufi whirligig styles of ’Topos’ if you like imagining yourself as a character in a frenzied Alejandro Jodorowsky scene...
“Earlier this decade, when Óscar Silva chose his alias Jibóia, he was already thinking of the variations his music would take on in each record. Jibóia is Portuguese for Boa constrictor and at his fourth record we got used to his instincts and ability to change over his sound and search for different collaborators to reach his intentions. After collaborating with the likes of Makoto Yagyu, Sequin, Xinobi, Ricardo Martins and Jonathan Saldanha in his previous records, in OOOO he goes deep into interconnecting his music with other musicians/past collaborators.
Joined by Ricardo Martins (Lobster, Pop Dell’Arte, BRUXAS/COBRAS, among other projects) and Mestre André (aka O Morto, Alacrau and Notwan), Óscar intended to create a record that sounded like Jibóia with the direct collaboration of the musicians that accepted the invitation. And what does it mean to sound like Jibóia? A fluent and rich dialogue between outer-world sounds mixed with a free jazz approach to rock, living in the limbo between what is fiction and reality. Meaning, it’s music that’s doing soul searching without any space or time barriers.
It flows as it should and in OOOO it’s no different. Inspired by the philosophy of Pythagoras and his concept Musica Universalis, that speaks about an inter spatial harmony created by the movement of the planets and the sound frequency it creates. It’s a poetic theory that imagines the sound produced by the movement of the planets and what we can listen to when we listen to the universe. The first three tracks are a reference to those frequencies and the last one, Topos, references an idea of accomplishment, of arrival and the sum of the experience.
So, yes, OOOO it’s a bit of a trip. A voyage of imagined sounds produced by three musicians in a constant dialogue and with a different focus in each track. Each of the first three tracks (Diapason, Diapente and Diatessaron) are developed with the focused on the instruments of one of the musicians, while the other two expand and enriches the range of the initial movement. First track focusses on Óscar’s instruments, the second one on Ricardo’s and the third on Mestre André’s. On the fourth and last one they explore the flux of ideas each one delivered to OOOO.
Topos doesn’t sum up the experience. It’s not intended to be a conclusion or an end to OOOO, it’s an open circuit of ideas that reinforces the free-minded rock that the three musicians explore, creating a new place where their music finds new routines. It just makes you want to go back to the beginning, again and again, reinforcing the feeling that Jibóia’s music belongs to this world without sounding like anything from this world.”
Expansive shoegaze and doom jazz scapes from a new artist on First Terrace/SVS.
“‘In The Dust Of Idols’ is an album exploring mortality, Existentialism & the dread one can feel in the face of an apparently meaningless world. The journey you embark on when trying to create meaning where there is perhaps none. These initial senses of dread can be brought about by the insignificance you feel in the face of greatness (or perceived greatness), where others have seemingly found meaning and purpose in the face of your own wavering path. Often these can be expressed in grandness and can become historically significant human feats, the fact that they have stood the test of time can become in itself overwhelming when reflecting on your own journey. Whilst these moments in time may hold no specific meaning to you - despite their impressive nature - you are driven into senseless awe.”
Incendiary 50 min recording of Merzbow performing at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane in 2012. Liable to take your eyebrows off and leave you with no mates. Great fun...
"I think the first time I heard Merzbow must have been in 1994. I was a compulsive cassette trader back then and I was sent a tape from a fanzine editor I traded with in the USA. It had two long form pieces on it that just said Merzbow//Noise.
I remember at the time not really knowing what to make of it. It was effortlessly deep and aggressive, but also very emotive and almost lyrical in the way the waves of sound would erupt and decay. In those days it wasn’t so easy to discover information about artists, but within a few months I had learned as much as I could about this prolific musician from Japan.
In the mid 2000s, I had the chance to meet Masami Akita, aka Merzbow and present him live when I was co-producing the Brisbane leg of the What Is Music? Festival. It was a pretty special event, in fact the first (sonic) meeting of Merzbow and Keiji Haino took place here in Brisbane. For me, Merzbow’s solo performance was as transformative an experience as hearing his music for the first time. Following a switch to digital electronics, in the early 2000s, his powerbook performance was literally like having someone run a razor blade across your eardrum, whilst pummelling your body. An exquisite, and beautiful, unease.
MONOAkuma is a live recording made in Brisbane in 2012 at the Institute Of Modern Art. This was the second time I had the pleasure to present him live in Australia. To me, this performance epitomises the physiology of Merzbow’s sound work. He creates in absolutes; sonically he generates a tidal wave of frequency that sweeps across the spectra with tireless frenzy. Merzbow’s capacity to conjure a massive swirling mesh of analog and digital sources is without comparison. His work is one of physiological and psychological intensity; a seething, psychedelic and utterly visceral noise-ocean.
What MONOAkuma represents is a resolution of Merzbow’s performative work across both analog and digital noise mediums. Here, he brings together his formidable pulsing analog noise (which exploded in the mid 1990s and subsequently forged the interests of countless artists creating music in his wake) and his more digital approach to noise. On MONOAkuma he resolves these two modes of operation into an ontology of noise in the absolute.
What I recall most about this performance is the sense of utter euphoria that was shared by everyone present. It is captured in the recording too. Not many people tend to dwell on this affective capacity of Merzbow’s work, but there is no question - this is about the body and the ears being overwhelmed. In those moments of being wholly consumed comes an incredible bodily sense of euphoria that is a truly unique and profound experience. MONOAkuma captures this affect in exacting detail.
2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the commencement of Merzbow. This recording, which epitomises Merzbow's 40 years as arguably the most important noise musicians of our time, demonstrates the intense and complex audio world Merzbow has created. It’s the perfect starting point from which to wade into the noise ocean that is Merzbow’s vast output.”
Lawrence English, 2018
High grade weaponry from Neville Watson, retuning his style with exhilarating, inexorable effect on his 2nd album and debut outing for DBA
While highly regarded as an upholder of old skool production values and style, Watson makes a break for the future with the technoid harvest of ‘The Midnight Orchard’, which contains the most abstract and driving gear we’ve ever heard from him.
He spends the first couple of tracks massaging your grey meat and matter with proper sci-fi modular spangles and tension-raising arps before locking in for the ride with ‘Anarcho Midnight’, a seriously powerful, offset roiler that will see a lot of play around our way, along with the album’s other big highlights, such as the pendulous, minimalist rinse of ‘Twin Tub’, the furiously wired gnash of ‘Dee Sides’, and the blinding hydraulics of ‘4am In The Trees’.
Together with its numerous black hole abstractions and lush moments like ‘We Own The Night’, this album is arguably one of the strongest techno-related LPs of the year, bar none.
Whizzy techno-pop from hotly tipped Bristolian newcomer Finlay Shakespeare. ‘Perris’ sounds like a hook-up between Richard Youngs and Erasure.
“Snapshot release by a new Editions Mego signing, the Bristol based one man machine, Finlay Shakespeare.
Routine is a twitchy electro monster confronting the listener with a worked up a blend of AFX, Cabaret Voltaire and New Order. Routine is damming slight on the soulless electronic age in which Finlay spits a curse on the mundane repetition of existence over the top of a wild unfurling techno pop banger. The B-Side Perris propels itself as a crazed analogue drama that is as ambitious as it is unholy. Simultaneously a modern throwback to the brooding synth pop age and concurrently an absolute belter in the contemporary mainframe.
Finlay Shakespeare has made it quite clear, that he is here.”
Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle present a mind-bending major new work by Alvin Lucier with the hour long piece, ‘So You… (Hermes, Orpheus, Eurydice)’, following release of his ‘Cross Cross / Hanover’ LP and the ‘Illuminated By The Moon’ retrospective boxset.
“So You ... (Hermes, Orpheus, Eurydice) is a major new work by legendary experimental composer Alvin Lucier. It is an hour long epic that tracks the familiar Orpheus myth from a less familiar perspective: that of Eurydice as imagined by poet H.D.; a Eurydice who rails at Orpheus for his hubris in attempting to rescue her. Two key, and formerly distinct, aspects of Lucier's practice come together in this piece: the exploration of interference patterns in closely tuned intervals, and the exploration of resonant chambers. From speakers mounted inside amphorae a constantly turning braid of beating sine waves trace the descent into the depths of hell, and then the doomed attempt to climb back into life. Singer Jessika Kenney and long-time Lucier collaborators Anthony Burr and Charles Curtis embody the three title characters in deeply focused performances that assert themselves against the process of the sweep, or become enfolded in it. The electronics were mixed in real time by programmer and equipment designer Tom Erbe.
This record has all of the mind-bending acoustic effects you'd expect from a Lucier piece, but also features a strong sense of narrative drama and flashes of raw emotion that are unexpected and deeply affecting.”
Proper, experimental techno drills from Rrose on her vital Eaux label
The kind of gear that leaves you sweaty palmed and clamming for nightfall, especially on a friday afternoon, ‘Beware of Shells’ delivers the Rrose’s first solo outing of 2018, following from her smart collaboration with Lucy.
Tilting in with the vertiginous title track of billowing synth dissonance and pulsating bass - imagine Cam Deas meets early Pan Sonic - the EP keeps us rapt between the air-ripping synths and powerful drive of ‘Incisors’, a droning death techno dirge named ’Sister (Remix)’, and the delectably dissonant nosedrip tang of ‘Pecking Order’, which, while the most minimal and abstract of the lot, is likely to endure as our favourite from this set.
Direct Detroit/Berlin-style deep techno pressure from Laurel Halo and Hodge on Livity Sound...
Rolled out in the wake of Laurel’s ace ‘Raw Silk Uncut Wood’ EP with Eli Keszler, and leading on from Hodge’s classy ‘Beneath Two Moons’ EP, they make an ideal pairing on three tracks built for clued up ravers.
It’s maybe possible but pointless to identity who’s doing what and where, better to take them as exceeded the sum of their parts, from the beautifully balanced 313 drive and sleek float of ‘Tru’, thru the stereo-pinging dub chords, High-Tech Jazz pads and rugged rub ’n tug of ‘Opal’, and the unsettling fusion of blithe new age vocal mantra with squirming subbass and phosphorescing synth tones in ‘The Light Within You’.
Numbers introduce another new artist with Perko’s lush debut of floating dance music after recently dispensing North Sea Dialect’s gaelic folk-tronica
From Scotland but based in Copenhagen, the 23 y.o. Perko makes dance music that’s deeper than his age may suggest. It’s evidently steeped in an appreciation of natural, pastoral aspects as much as the pull of synthetic styles like Detroit techno and UK soundsystem music, adding up to a beautifully well-rounded record with strong highlights in the Vladislav Delay-like weightless dub of ‘Water Memory’, in the 2-step suspension system of ‘Rounded’, and, at its core, the sublime scene of percolated subs and dreamy, wide open space in ‘Grace’.
“The seven tracks on this EP hear Perko mining the grooves between his favourite genres for building blocks of inspiration. Drawing from UK soundsystem culture and modern experimental music, half of the record explores deeper atmospheric passages and meditative repetition, characterised by layers of subtly shifting chords, field recordings and delicate polyrhythms.
Three dancefloor cuts, spread throughout the rest of the record, retain this detail and interplay with added energy. Perko’s sense of rhythm & space is clear with 'Rounded’s glacial synths, blown out drum machines and sculpted sub sine waves. 'What Otters' forges playful UKG touches within a paperclip framework of space-echoes and sparks, whilst 'Songbirds' flips into 4/4 drive with percolated alarms and shimmering pads.
“Density, Noise, Dust, Distortion, Space…” says Perko, if you want it simple.”
Funky West African disco heat from the late ‘80s, remastered and reissued for the first time
“These two late 1980s Ghanaian highlife cuts are taken from the catalogue of Nakasi Records. Nakasi was run by the late producer Nana Asiedu (Big Joe) - a well-known figure in the Ghanaian and African music community of 1980s London.
The A-side showcases a track from Jon K's second solo album, which was a re-working of a traditional Fanti language Asafo company song Asafo Beesuon. Made famous by C.K.Mann on his seminal album ‘Funky Highlife’, this version very much reflects the more westernised late 1980s sound of highlife music recorded in the UK, Holland, Canada and Germany for both ex-pat Ghanaian audiences and those back home in West Africa.
The album features the stalwart session musician Alfred Bannerman, the go-to Ghanaian guitarist known for the classic cut of ‘Let Me Love You’ by Bunny Mack, among many other tracks over the last 40 years, including his work on contemporary releases for Soundway such as Konkoma and Ibibio Sound Machine.
On the B-side, Pat Thomas (the brother in-law of Big Joe) needs little introduction having been touring the world extensively in recent years with the Kwashibu Area Band. Somehow this dancefloor-heavy cut has eluded recent compilations and reissues. With horns arranged by long time friend and collaborator Ebo Taylor, it's an instantly recognisable sound that also features Rex Gyamfi - himself a well-known purveyor of 1980s 'burger-highlife’.”
Astrophonica volley 14 breakbeat mutations from Fracture & Neptune, Luke Vibert, Falty DL, Sully, Proc Fiscal +++
Cutting to the chase, listen up for highlights in Falty DL’s dextrous deep jungle piece ‘A Day At The Races’ (is that a Firewire sample??); Luke Vibert’s Plug-style acid jungle bender ‘165 303’; Moresounds’ fierce jump-up madness ‘Shut Up’; and yet another hybrid beauty from Sully, smashing jungle, garage and grime atoms in ‘Qualia’.
Hanno Leichtmann’s ‘Nouvelle Aventure’ renders a remarkably layered and cut-up tour thru the prized, 70 year archive of the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music, for Karl Records
Given carte blanche to rifle the IMD’s (Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt) tapes and memory banks, Leichtmann returns a blinding set of recombinant collages, using his patented system of micro-loopers, as well as era-appropriate techniques such as tape editing and manipulation of amplitude/pitch/playback direction/repetition, to whisk up and create sparking new synaptic connections between his thematically fixed selections.
Like Leichtmann’s preceding release of the ‘SY4’ recordings of a drum machine, and his ‘Skin, Wood, Traps’ study celebrating 100 years the drumset, these decimated deconstructions of the IMD archive were conceived as installation for physical spaces - in this case a 6 channel mix - and later reduced to stereo for release. The results form dizzying microcosms of atomised sound, exploding the archive like the big bang of electronic music that it arguably is.
In 16 parts, the shrapnel of Darmstadt’s conceptual thought bombs and concrète recordings become unanchored from their original moorings and reshaped with Leichtmann’s unique logic. Traces of Stockhausen, Xenakis, Nono, Ligeti et al are recontextualised, remixed to provide the listener with the perspective of a fly-on-the-wall time traveller, siting in on lectures, or overhearing experiments, but all scrambled by strange quantum mechanics with heavily psychedelic side-effects. By nature it’s a respectful yet daring approach to this end of the avant garde, which we’re sure the originators may well approve of, or at least find good reason to criticise.
Outer nowhere, the 1 minute-long debut release by Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed arrives on digital format, some 20 odd years since the original tape release via Paolo Vitolo Gallery
The clue to ‘Work No. 117 ‘ All the sounds on a drum machine’ is obviously in the full title: “Work No. 117 ‘All the sounds on a drum machine played one after the other, in their given order, at a speed which makes it last for one minute’.
Files next to T C F’s ‘1000 Snares’ and The Automatics Group’s ‘Summer Mix’.