Captivating, avant spins on traditional Peruvian music - a big tip for anyone who was into Mica Levi’s soundtrack for ‘Monos’ (which was filmed further north along the Andes, in Colombia)
“Over the last decade multi instrumentalist Tomás Tello has been developing his own personal music style based around an exploration of the guitar and his intense personal investigation of traditional Peruvian music - in particular Andean culture which he grew up with.
Now operating out of Tavira, Tomás has been functioning like a psychic musician, a well tuned antenna picking an unique sound universe where, among others, sounds of native instruments (quenas, drums, charangos) and experimental electronics (field recordings, loops, circuit bending, small synths and effects pedals) merge in mystic harmony.
Tomás delivers meditative compositions, sonic illuminations which seem to be the result of a direct act of contemplation, of glaring at the immensity of a landscape, a river or the proximity of strange wild
animals, a vision calling that, with the the aid of medicinal plants, offers a state of consciousness in tune with the early works of envisioned artists such as Arturo Ruiz del Pozo, Jorge Reyes or Walter Maioli.
Tomás Tello's music is an invitation to listen to nature from a new place. It’s timeless music, which enraptures those who have the joy of entering it.”
Paul Woolford’s Special Request lends a deeper techno spin to ‘Spectrum’ by Erol Alkan
Following Matrixxman’s go with the same materials, SR returns a brooding cosmic electro-techno style in the ‘Kaleidoscopic Mix’, and a more nagging sort of trancey techno-house style in the ‘Double Vision Mix’.
Deep and gritty broken biscuits from Austrian artist Timo Bürgler operating under the handle Awo Ojiji
Hailing from Graz, Austria, Ojiji shows off an excellent grasp of ruggedly hypnotic rhythms and vibes in ’Static Flow’, shredding late ‘90s West London broken beats, deep Detroit hustle and swingeing Afro-Latinate house.
They’re all restlessly up for it but in a tightly tucked, in-the-pocket style, pivoting from the grubbing bass rubs and coiled syncopation of ‘Lifeforms’ to the pendulous, percolated intricacies and arcing atmospheric pads of ‘Grainhive’, then keeping it lip-bitingly tight and suspenseful in ‘Laura’s Lodge’, and weaving in effervescent dub house influences on the wooden drums of ‘Swarm Align’.
Legendary Uk techno label Risign High turn out classic-soudning rave techno from London’s Hannibal K
‘Caution’ is aimed for peak time play with panic station sirens, steepled snare rushes and stacks of chewy jawed acid lines whereas ‘Witchcraft’ bites down on a thumping big room style with booming kicks and rave-scanning hoovers.
Big boned steppers soundsystem pressure from the belly of Bristol, versioned in four way by Dubkasm
Kahn’s ruffneck 2012 original for Deep Medi comes refreshed with new vocal and weightier, faster stylings in its 2020 versions, putting considerable back into it with rude results.
SFV Acid on a slower, sozzled tip for the Netherlands’ Bakk label
Bending 303 lines and crooked beats to a ‘90s hip hop and trip hop sound, SFV Acid really suits the slower pace between the Miami-style subbass bumps and spaced-out tweaks of ‘lil_heaven(less)’, the sanguine slope of ‘Always (LA Hardcrew Mix)’, and strolling Detroit beatdown numbers ‘405 Mary’ and ‘Jasons II’ compatible with Urban Tribe.
Presenting richly detailed hydrophone recordings of algae development in the rapidly depleting Arctic, Jana Winderen’s latest research is a fascinating and acutely topical study of ‘Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone’.
Prefaced by a sobering interview with world-renowned Professor of Marine Science, Carlos Duerte, the album presents headphone and speaker mixes of the title track, offering an immersive sonic inspection of the transitional area between open sea and sea ice, where the world’s biggest bloom of phytoplankton - the micro-organisms that produce half of the oxygen on the planet - accounts for the most critical CO2 sink in the biosphere.
The results are unmistakably foreboding, layering the sounds of blooming plankton with the tense cracks, pops and creaks of sea ice, and the subaquatic sound of bearded seals, migrating humpbacks and orcas, crustaceans and spawning cod, into a properly suspenseful and eerily alien experience.
Thrilling adventures in new wave kosmiche electronics and proggy ambient pop on Elena Colombi already head turning Osàre! Editions label, peppered with arabesque visions in a byzantine mosaic of styles resonating with Vangelis, the Berlin school, Akis, Laszlo Hortobagyi...
“When Elena Colombi launched the Osàre! Editions label in the autumn of 2019, she explained that the label would become home to bold, daring, future-facing music rooted in experimentation and free-spirited musical abandon. These are all descriptions that could apply to the label’s latest release, a retrospective album of little-known works by Greek musician and producer Thanasis Zlatanos.
Many will not have heard of Zlatanos, or Nekropolis, the band he fronted alongside dear friend and regular collaborator Trygve Mathiesen, yet the music he made during the 1980s was otherworldly, intergalactic and undoubtedly alluring. These songs and instrumentals made extensive use of analogue synthesizers and lo-fi drum machines, as well as Zlatanos’s trusted Gibson Les Paul guitar and his own distinctive voice.
Stylistically, the musician and producer refused to settle on a specific sound, preferring instead to create inspired, often mind-altering pieces that join the dots between wave music, skewed leftfield pop, ambient, prototype electronic and Madedonian folk music. Operating for much of the period from a crumbling house earmarked for demolition, Zlatanos kept up a daily music-making vigil that resulted in a vast vault of music, most of which has remained unissued since the 1980s.
The breadth of and width of Zlatanos’s distinctive approach is laid bare on Retrospective, a compilation album prepared by Colombi and the artist himself that draws on tracks from his numerous albums, those by Nekropolis – whose sophomore set “The New Europeans” was banned in Norway – and his epic archive of previously unheard material.
The artist’s singular but wide-ranging musical vision is free for all to see across the 13 tracks stretched across the vinyl version of the album (digital buyers also get a further four superb cuts). It veers attractively from the ghostly, traditional-meets-futuristic new age electronica of “The Crystal Sight (Excerpt)” and the doom-laden coldwave throb of “Master Chameleon”, to the undulating, soft-touch creepiness of “Surreal Moment”, the Vocoder-laden operatic poignancy of “The New Barbarians” and the squally guitar solos and effects-laden electronics of “The Light”.
For further proof of Zlatanos’s unique sonic approach, check the startling contrast between the bass-laden slacker pop headiness of “No Expectations” and the spacey ambience of “The Dead Don’t Remember”. Considered together, the selected pieces and those elsewhere on Retrospective forms a snapshot of a genuinely unique and visionary musician, composer and producer. It’s a celebration of someone whose work has previously been overlooked.”
Gene Hunt jacks yo booty in three ways on Delroy Edwards’ LA Club Resource
Back to bang on LACR after supplying some of the label’s early zingers, Chicago legend Hunt digs out three tuff joints as heard played on radio and in the club way back when.
A-side sports the sizzling hi-hats and percolated toms of ‘Acid 808’ in a direct, tracky style shared by the lithe 303 attack of ‘Oooh Shit’, which adds in jabbing vocal samples for measure. But it’s the freakish, jagged B-side that really gets our attention with its mid-tempo but frenetic, stop/start arrangement of dead early house styles done in the rawest, jerking style possible.
Head-turning debut album of lysergic soul and avant-R&B chamber pop from LA Timpa; a Nigeria-born, London-based artist possessing a sound comparable to a mix of Blood Orange, Animal Collective, Soaring Wayne Phoenix, Richard Youngs, Klein, Yves Tumor, Arthur Russell, Mica Levi…
Served up on promising yung London label O___o, and mixed down by Warp’s Kwes, ‘Equal Amounts Afraid’ is a faultlessly modest yet enchanting album riddled with timeless musical soul. Following from his 2016 debut ‘Animal’, and guest production for Cold Specks’ trip hop sound, LA Timpa’s gently reserved and melancholic sound is sweetly symptomatic of the ambient zeitgeist in 2020, and arguably, beautifully sympathetic to the needs of modern listeners.
Introspective and avant like that gorgeous Soaring Wayne Phoenix album or Klein’s psyched chop-ups, as sensuous as Blood Orange, but with a taste for expressively harmonised pop refrains that clearly recall Yves Tumor via Richard Youngs, the album unfolds like a dream with suitably eyelid-tugging levels of hypnagogic charm that practically demands it is heard in sequestered, lowlit situations before you share the pleasure with pals.
Seducing us to his singular temporality and hazy atmosphere with the vaporous falsetto and ambient soundfield of sirens and groggy bass in ‘Around’, a Klein-esque cut-up interlude leads into fragmented music box melody and intimate plainsong on ‘Fertile’, whereas ‘Core’ almost echoes the 4AD dream-pop of A.R. Kane, and ‘Give’ beautifully dematerialises indie-pop into ambient gauze. ‘Backyard Exotic’ then surfaces his strangest side in a maze of mushied songcraft, ushering a trippier 2nd half where the songs really start to fray between ‘Caretaker’, the smokers’ hymnal vignette ‘Towel Under The Door’, before channelling Thom Yorke in the melting Mbira melody of ‘Rattle Snake’, and spooling out into proper ambient soul with the spine-tracing lines of ‘Tried Ice’ and the smudged magic of ‘Memory Phone’ where he truly divines a strength in his vulnerability in a way that should resonate with all sensitive souls.
Such a doozy. Don’t sleep!
Well, this is just lovely; Hiroshi Yoshimura’s soothing electro-acoustic ambient suite, Music For Nine Postcards  is made available outside the Japanese market for the 1st time, unfurling the Tokyo-based artist’s delicate, minimalist masterwork inspired by Satie, Schaefer and Eno to whole new generations in need of blissed sonic respite. Unless you’re a bit wadded or simply helpless to the charms of early ‘80s Japambient records and bought a dead expensive original, it’s maybe likely that you’ll only get to hear this one via YouTube otherwise, so the opportunity to hear this beauty in full fidelity, at a reasonable price, is not to be missed!
"Despite his status as a key figure in the history of Japanese ambient music, Hiroshi Yoshimura remains tragically under-known outside of his home country. Empire of Signs–a new imprint co-helmed by Maxwell August Croy and Spencer Doran–is proud to reissue Yoshimura’s debut Music for Nine Post Cards for the first time outside Japan in collaboration with Hiroshi’s widow Yoko Yoshimura, with more reissues ofHiroshi’s works to follow in the future.
Working initially as a conceptual artist, the musical side of Yoshimura’s artistic practice came to prominence in the post-Fluxus scene of late 1970s Tokyo alongside Akio Suzuki and Takehisa Kosugi, taking many commissioned fashion runway scores, soundtracking perfume, soundscapes for pre-fab houses, train station sound design – all existing not as side work but as logical extensions of his philosophy of sound.
His work strived for serenity as an ideal, and this approach can be felt strongly on Music for Nine Post Cards. Home recorded on a minimal setup of keyboard and Fender Rhodes, Music for Nine Post Cards was Yoshimura’s first concrete collection of music, initially a demo recording given to the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art to be played within the building’s architecture.
This was not background music in the prior Japanese “BGM” sense of the word, but “environmental music”, the literal translation of the Japanese term kankyō ongaku given to Brian Eno’s “ambient” music when it arrived in late 70’s Japan. Yoshimura, along with his musical co-traveler Satoshi Ashikawa, searched for a new dialog between sound and space: music not as an external absolute, but as something that interlocks with a physical environment and shifts the listener’s experience within it.
Erik Satie’s furniture music, R. Murray Schafer’s concept of the soundscape and Eno’s ambience all greatly informed their work, but the specific form of tranquil stasis presented on releases like Nine Post Cards is still difficult to place within a specific tradition, remaining elusive and idiosyncratic despite the economy of its construction. This record offers the perfect introduction to Hiroshi’s unique and beautiful worldview: it’s one that can be listened to – and lived in – endlessly."
Mecanica unearth a precious stack of spunky ‘80s “Techno-Pop” from lesser-known niches of the underground American wave...
The idea of “Techno-Pop” will surely evoke myriad different definitions, depending on who you ask. But according to Mecanica, its US iteration sounds like Hysterica Passio, Doppler Effect (note the space!), Schneebezen, Cinema 90, Event, A Method of Danse, and their ilk.
All sourced from rare tape compilations, one-off singles and demos that have surfaced thru the Internet’s rhizome of diggers and cult wave fanatics, ‘Techniques’ wrangles a stylishly puckered sound adjacent to its European counterparts, but perhaps at once spikier and smoother, and more often swapping out gothic melancholy for more forward sort of American moxie.
To play favourites, Friends of the Maid impress with two bits of punchy Linn drums, new romantic vocals and shimmering cascades of FM synths and processed guitars in ‘Love Turn Around’ and ‘Waiting For A Chance’, while Doppler Effect (yep, not that one) get it right with the glyding, swooning ‘Stations of the Cross’, and Schneebezen are on the money with the Erasure/Parade Ground-esque ‘Can’t Remain A Friend’ and ‘Treasure (Dance Version)’, and, if that’s your bag, also make sure to check for the slick elan of ‘Sequin (Remix)’ and the rutting EBM/New Beat of ‘Icepick’ by Event.
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."
First ever official vinyl reissue of Neil Young’s beyond-classic 1996 soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's 'Dead Man' - a mesmerising exercise in tightly controlled improvisation mostly made up of solo electric guitar interspersed with organ, piano, field recordings and excerpts of Johnny Depp reciting William Blake. Sounds awful - we know - but actually a uniquely gripping, inspired piece of work - one of the great soundtracks of the late 20th century.
Vague recollections of the film and its fever-dream topographies are most likely responsible for the almost mystical aura that surrounds ‘Dead Man', but Young does much to heighten its bizarre sense of place with a process of recording that was both off the cuff and bursting with inspiration - taking things to almost transcendental dimensions. Young improvised on his electric guitar Old Black in real time as he watched the film in his studio, throwing in bits of dialogue between tracks and - most bizarrely - lots of weird ambient sounds that aren't in the film - including a prominent car engine running in the background - something that makes no sense for a film set in the 19th century.
It all adds to a sense of physical and metaphysical displacement that's connected to but not reliant on any knowledge of the film, running its own sense of fuzzy logic. Musically, it reminds us of everything from John Fahey’s ‘Red Cross’ to the more introspective end of Goran Bregović’s soundtrack work for Emir Kusturica, or even Ry Cooder’s iconic Paris Texas, Bruce Langhorne’s 'The Hired Hand’ and classic Earth playing at the same time as some weird field recordings open on another tab. In other words; just the sort of precious shit we spend our lives digging for.
Rustling, haptic curios and lower case ambient vignettes from two members of the Glasgow underground.
Recalling the beguiling mystery of crys cole and Penultimate Press regular Graham Lambkin as much as Wanda Group at his most enigmatic, soft tissue’s s/t debut yields 7 cutely poetic arrangements of fractured small sounds and micro-amped ephemera, creating a quizzical ecology of relationships between physical objects, environmental sound, and digital processing that takes on another layer of fine grained smudge thanks to the tape format.
“soft tissue is a collaboration between Glasgow-based artists Feronia Wennborg and Simon Weins. Penultimate Press is proud to present their debut release that has grown out of a collaborative process where recordings from everyday life rub alongside experiments with analogue feedback”
Totally unmissable debut full-length of free-floating ambient dream sequencing and avant garde percussion from pivotal NYC producer/sound artist Britton Powell for Brooklyn’s Catch Wave Ltd. - label behind 2016’s prized Dominique Lawalrée compilation as well as last year’s mind-melter from Leila Bordreuil.
Emerging as a real one-to-watch with ‘If Anything Is’, Britton Powell takes the spotlight with a unique conception of ambient music following his shadowy but key roles on some of our favourite releases of recent years; ranging from the liner notes in Recital’s sublime RIP Hayman side ‘Dreams of India and China’, to production coordination on Jon Hassell’s ‘Listening to Pictures (Pentimento Volume One)’, and also for Catch Wave Ltd’s releases by Dominique Lawalrée and Leila Bordreuil, as well as working with everyone from Warp Records to Jon Gibson, Lucy Railton, and Huerco S.
With his remarkable first solo release Powell finely distills themes of “psycho-acoustic phenomena, minimalism, and traditions of non-western music” central to his work across two sides that evoke a paradoxical state of seat-edge serenity related to psychic symptoms of hyper-reality and capitalism. Field recordings from Jonáš Gruska and percussion supplied by George Bennett are rendered as richly detailed, organic elements in his billowing sound sphere, elegantly enacting a meditation on the intersection of technology, ritual, and urban landscape that makes up everyday life in the Big Apple and surely resonates with city lives lived across the world.
In both parts he vacillates massive swells of stereo swept percussion and keening location sound, beautifully suspending the senses between feelings of paranoia from an insectoid scuttle of drums, and the seductively heavy-lidded appeal of his hypnagogic sound design and immersive aural scenery. If this is a collision of disparate elements, as the label calls it, then it’s one of slow motion Ballardian sensuality, glacially ravishing the mind with a push and pull between heady, lump-in-throat lushness and a subtle sense of needling dread.
Grotty, machine-made blatz from Corporate Park and Beau Wanzer, trottin’ out their 2nd full album of hot, sticky and wiry gunk-funk
Five years form their self-released debut collab, S. English and Jonah Lange aka Corporate Park get tangled up with Beau Wanzer’s cables in a damaged spool of rotted rhythms and clammy, murky atmospheres arranged into a killer sort of cyberpunk noir narrative.
Operating right at the red-lining biting point of distortion, everything sounds stressed to breaking point and caught in a druggy, drunken state of psychedelia. As such it comes on in waves, hopping from stoned and slompy tramplers such as ‘Nightclub Foot’ to grouchy churns of EBM in ’Stammer Time’ and palmed-out industrial beat-offs like ‘Aylmer’s Glue’, with more tonal and atmospheric blip-time moments that diffract the flow in the Coil-esque wormhole ’Sewer Sex’, and the deliciously kinky ‘Vertical Probation’ which makes canny use of vocal samples in a way recalling Tuning Circuits meets White House White.
Drag-style slow pounders from Lowlands producer Tassilo Vanhöfen making his debut on Neubau
Chasing up 2019’s ‘Cosmix’ tape for Victor De Roo’s Kontakt Group label, Vanhöfen holds to a hypnotically druggy 95bpm pulse and murky laminal textures in the A-side grinder ‘Primer’, whereas the B-side’s ‘Gutter Churl’ swangs out with spongiform ambient bumps, rubbed out alongside the chuggy acid heave of ‘Volatile’.
Warmest sci-fi synth nostalgia from mid ‘80s Catalonia, presenting first reissue of the soundtrack to a kid’s TV take on ET who looks remarkably like a weird buttplug. They do things their own way in Barcelona, eh? File next to your Moomins and Jan Zonder Vrees OST’s
“From the cosmic creative musical mind of Swiss/Catalan studio whizz, Zeleste Nightclub engineer, Video Nasty film composer, occasional Jaume Sisa (Música Dispersa) collaborator and future electronic music therapy pioneer comes the synth- ridden vocoder-loaded 1984 sci-funk soundtrack to Barcelona’s daytime TV response to the universal E.T. phenomena. Get ready to meet your new alienígena amic and the unidentified flying object of thousands of Catalonian kids affections through the 1980s as Finders Keepers present J. M. Pagan’s lost lunar modular synth score to Kiu I Els Seus Amics (Kiu And Friends aka Kiu Is Your Friend).
From the same intergalactic phenomenon that brought such delights as Turkey’s exploito cash-in “Badi” or South Africa’s lo-rent homage “Nukie” to our unregulated small screens, and the same craze which filled international airwaves with the likes of Extra T’S electro smash single “E.T. Boogie” or the million selling Columbian “Cumbia De E.T. El Extraterrestre” smash hit… not to mention a wide range of unofficial theme- tune cover versions from Holland, Austria, France and Germany (lest we forget an inspired late period Lee Scratch Perry Album) the creators of the movie which inspire the music on the album you are about to hear made no bones about their intergalactic muse. In 1982 the diaspora from Steven Spielberg’s small fictional mid-American neighbourhood that played host to everyone’s favourite torch fingered, three toed, Skittle scoffing space goblin touched virtually every family home in every major city resulting in one of the biggest cinematic merchandise phenomenas of the 21st century, resulting in an unexpected high-demand/short-supply play-off in which bootleggers, copyists and counterfeiters rose to the challenge like never before. At the precise moment that international audiences saw that cute little baldy poke his retractable neck around the corner and started stealing beer from the fridge, demanding long distance phone calls while circuit bending kids toys and frankly not looking after the plants… the human race was hooked! and we wanted more! more! more! When Spielberg regrettably told interviewers that he had no intention of making a sequel to E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, it instantly became open-season for the imitators… but way before somebody squeezed- out, Mac & Me, ALF and The Purple People Eater a team of kid’s TV executives in Catalunya were ready to fill the widening gap in the market without haste. Created in 1983 by Luna Films and Televisió de Catalunya (TV3) and screened exclusively in Catalunya, Kiu I Els Seus Amics was one of the first E.T. “tributes” to make it out of the gate, and with a crew of five individual directors and writers to ensure that the five episode, one-off series hit the wave of phone-home-fever, “Kiu” has since remained a short but sweet micro-memory in the hearts of an entire generation of Catalonian cosmonauts.”
Jim O’Rourke, Eiko Ishibashi, and Joe Talia aid avant-garde enigma John Duncan unpackage songs from his remarkable grimoir ‘Bitter Earth’ on recordings made in Club Metro, Kyoto, 2017 while a Typhoon raged outside the venue. This is really quite the stunning set...
‘Red Sky’ offers documentary evidence of Duncan cementing his transition from wildly unpredictable experimentalist to a doomy troubadour with a mean line of cover versions during a set lasting just over 90 minutes. While Duncan takes centre stage on vocals, the highly attuned trio of O’Rourke, Ishibashi and Talia reliably supply backdrops that range from ritualistic ambience threaded with Duncan’s favoured FM radio signals, to swooning midnight jazz, passages of driving mixes of kraut- and psych-rock, uneasy exotica and carmine-stained, Italian library soundtrack vibes.
The pair of CDs capture the essence of the band’s last date on a three week tour of Japan. Because of the typhoon outside, the band expected it to be less than busy inside, but a packed audience - replete with steam from their wet clothes - greeted the band, including some coming for their 3rd show of the tour. Given it was their last chance to perform together, and for Duncan to “bask in Eiko’s, Jim’s and Joe’s consistently masterful creativity”, they all put on a mesmerising show that harnessed everything they’d experienced and learned together on the road one final time.
Kicking off with some 18 minutes of utterly haunting dark jazz scaping by his band, Duncan hovers in over a stark piano refrain with a devastating take on Dinah Washington’s 1960 evergreen, ‘This Bitter Earth’, the vocal and keys going toe-to-toe up your spine, and five minutes later they’ve seamlessly locked into a grizzled garage rock cover of ‘Wild Is The Wind’ by Nina Simone, and soon enough an achingly sleazy spin on Steely Dan’s ‘Do It Again’ almost worth the admission alone. CD 2 picks up at the set’s mid-way with a possessed take on Iggy Pop’s darkest moment, ‘Mass Production’, before steering down a dim-lit dark ambient ginnel to the set’s other peak, a spellbindingly tense but shatterproof cover of Four Tops’ ‘Reach Out’, before setting fire to The Zombie’s ‘She’s Not There’, and coming to rest in his quieter element with his barely-there cover of ‘Dark’ by Pere Ubu, and Duncan’s hollerin’, clappin’ bluesy spiritual ‘Red Sky’ to close.
Diaphanous Japanese ambient meditations rooted in Buddhist philosophy particular to Japan, and steeped in native folklore and ghost tales. Follows release for M_nus and performance at Today’s Art
“‘There are dreams that I still remember. Although it has been decades since I had those dreams, they continue to pulsate, circulating their pellucid blood, vital and fresh as if dreamt just last night’
Singing bowls, bronze bells and gongs resonate through the mindful layers of Japanese percussionist and ambient producer Kazuya Nagaya’s music. In Zen Buddhism, bells are believed to wash away the cares of the mortal world, as the listener follows the resonance of the bell into the silence and stillness within all beings. It is a penetration into the depths of one’s self. Floating in a cloud of billowing ambience, its nine tracks invite the listener to traverse a broad spectrum of spirit.
‘There is one thing I have known all along. Someday I will have to face the messages from my unconscious. I will have to decipher their meaning and change my life accordingly. The messages from my unconscious are like a knocking on the door of my mind. For many years the sound reverberated, but I payed it no attention’
Nagaya’s music is rooted in Buddhist (Zenzhu) philosophy and sensibilities unique to Japan. Concurrently, his work and interests are also contemporary and traverse a broad spectrum of cultures. This has led him to work with a wide range of collaborators that include Tibetan Buddhist Monks, Hawaiian Kahuna, artists such as Plastikman and Iris Van Herpen, and also to perform regularly in acclaimed festivals such as MUTEK and Today`s Art. His first album, “Utsusho”, was released in 1999 and later re-released with Minus. His latest album, “The Microscope of Heraclitus,” was released with Indigo Raw in 2018.
Nagaya started out to pursue his talents in literature and is also an award-winning writer and a connoisseur on Japanese Literature, Buddhist Folktales and Zen Philosophical Works. These interests breathed life into his music, and the sensibilities and philosophical views which he developed during his literary years are now reflected in most of his music today. He spends half the week teaching courses at his University in Tokyo, and the other half composing and writing in his home in the Japanese Alps, where he resides with his wife, and many adopted cats and dogs. ‘Dream Interpretations’ was composed at a difficult time in Nagaya’s life. While he worked, he listened closely to the sound of the knocking that reverberated from the paths of his unconsciousness and transformed that into music. In other words, this music is his dream interpretation.”
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...
Dancefloor-ready survey of golden era sounds from the Portuguese-speaking West African islands. A great history lesson for anyone gripped by the influential, contemporary club music of Lisbon’s Príncipe label!
“The two Portuguese-speaking African islands of Sao Tomé & Principe, located in the Gulf of Guinea, created an unique music called Puxa : a refined mixture of various musical components from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. A blend of Semba, Merengue, Kompas, Soukouss, Coladeira patterns, often pushing forward with a voodoo-like energy, solid bass lines, delicate melodies and backing harmonies of the rich Sao Tomean melodic traditions. Very first compilation focusing on the golden age of these island’s sounds, the 16 tracks selected will surely set fire on all dance floors !
Léve-Léve is the first ever compilation devoted to music from São Tome and Principe, two small islands situated off the coast of Gabon in central Africa. The album unravels a story of liberation where the music of Africa, Europe and the Americas unify with a carefree spirit personified by a phrase the islanders use all the time: “léve, léve” (“take it easy”). With echoes of Angolan semba and merengue, of Brazilian afoxê, of coladeira from Cape Verde and dance music from the Caribbean, it is a sound fiercely proud of its island heritage, sung in local dialects and using distinctive local rhythms.
On this record you can hear the cultural and social history of São Tome and Principe, and how live music represented its beating heart. Once known as the “Chocolate Islands” (remarkably, these two tiny islands were the largest cocoa producers in the world, though now this title acts as a reminder of its colonial past), through the years leading up to independence from Portugal, music would be a fundamental voice of liberation and conviviality. Os Úntués were one of the first groups to make an impression, releasing a couple of 7 inches in Angola – the litmus test of success for any of the islands’ groups. They united unique rhythms and dances like socopé, puita and dança-congo – borne from the islands’ largely slave-descendant population – with the sound of pop music beamed in on the radio from Europe, even adding in a little bit of soukous and Brazilian instrumentation. Their main rivals were Conjunto Mindelo, who fused São Toméan rhythms with rebita, an Angolan style, to create high energy puxa, a truly original island rhythm.”
Swingeing soukous charms laced with talking drums and lead by the colourful palm wine guitar styles of bandleader Dekula Kahanga.
“Here is the debut album from the sensational live act Dekula Band. Centered around the legendary guitar player Dekula Kahanga (who was in the leading dance orchestra in Tanzania during the 70’s and 80’s: Orchestra Maquis Original) , this African band (based in Sweden) have been a very popular live band for the last years. Whether it's been at one of their monthly gigs at the not so glamorous club Lilla Wien in Stockholm or at bigger venues at Stockholm Jazz Festival.
Dekula Kahanga and the singer Gaby are both from Congo and with the other members coming from Kenya, Uganda, Senegal and Sweden they all bring their special influences to the infectous and hypnotic style of soukous that they have refined over the years.
And now in 2019 they have finally been into a recording studio with Sing a song fighter’s Karl Jonas to document some of their magic. These six tracks are bursting with energy, playfulness and grace from a unique band.”
‘Peace and Happiness’ is a previously unreleased piece of Afro-dub meditation from African Head Charge’s ‘Churchical Chant of the Iyabinghi’, forthcoming as part of a ruck of reissues and the ‘Drumming Is A Language’ 5CD set
Jon Hassell’s entrancing Dream Theory In Malaya (Fourth World Volume Two) - the follow-up to his seminal Fourth World Vol.1 Possible Musics featuring Brian Eno - sees a much needed reissue, now expanded with a bonus track and available on any format for the first time since the early ‘90s.
Recorded at Bob and Daniel Lanois’s Toronto studio in 1981, Dream Theory In Malaya (Fourth World Volume Two) was titled after and inspired by a paper from visionary anthropologist Kilton Stewart, whose visits to a remote tribe, the Senoi of the Malay highlands, revealed a connection between their happiness and well-being and the tribe’s morning ritual practice of family dream-telling; sharing with each other and discussing the events of their previous night’s dreams, which they would also relay to other tribes in a process of mutual education and enlightenment.
Using this knowledge, plus samples of water-drumming by a tribe from the same region, the Semelai, and his patented, processed trumpet and electronics, Hassell created a definitively solo follow-up to his work with Eno, although as he points out in the liner notes, other personnel such as the Velvet Underground’s 1st drummer, Walter DeMaria also feature.
It all revolves around the central, 10 minute Malay, where a choir of his signature, warbling harmonics scat and flit over the sound of sloshing water drumming, cut-up and processed with soft gong hits in the kind of rhythms which Autechre would reprise algorithmically many years later. Either side of Malay is a series of lush postcards which come alive in your hands, ears, from the agitated fanfare of Chor Moiré to the lissom, plasmic regaling of Dream Theory’s bowl gongs and diffused hoots, thru mind-melting display of hypercoloured harmonic plumage in Datu Bintung At Jelong.
The only, beautiful, difference between the original pressing and this is the ending. Instead of passing out with the deftly genteel romance of Gift Of Fire, it’s now extended by inclusion of bonus track Ordinary Mind, relaying 3 minutes of windswept chants and glinting, liquid drumming that perfectly animates and articulates Hassell’s dream.
After 23 years out of print, FSOL’s definitive early ‘90s ambient-epic Lifeforms now returns to its natural habitat. Serving near-dangerous levels of nostalgia for almost anyone who came thru in the ‘90s, Lifeforms is set to soundtrack myriad afterparties and claim its place on a whole new generation of record shelves.
Originally released in 1994, a few years after FSOL had become a household name thanks to their debut LP Accelerator and its standout rave anthem, Papua New Guinea (and not forgetting Humanoid’s Stakker before it), Brian Dougans and Garry Cobain’s project really blossomed into something else with Lifeforms, where they consolidated a wealth of esoteric ideas and philosophies into what was effectively a new manifesto for psychedelic electronic music.
Whether unconsciously and osmotically absorbed, or dutifully studied and cherished by those cognisant of its brilliance, Lifeforms was almost unavoidably ubiquitous at the time, and inarguably worked its way into the popular consciousness in a way that electronic records rarely do nowadays. It was definitely a product of its time, and now, 23 years later, we can safely say it’s kept its charms intact.
Riffing on then-emergent themes of cybernetics, amorphous androgyny and artificial intelligence, together with nods to classic ‘70s psychedelia and kosmische - it features guest spots from Ozric Tentacles and Robert Fripp, and sampled Klaus Schulze - the results tapped into the era’s undercurrent of aerobic mysticism and eldritch new age spirituality to locate an unprecedented confluence of those styles which has influenced swathes of electronic dreamers ever since.
It’s techno-romantic and tech-gnostic in the lushest sense, a utopian beauty flush with the thrill of unknown futures, yet fringed with an MDMA come-down melancholy that’s totally crucial to understanding that era’s play and juxtaposition of energies. Quite simply, though: Lifeforms is an incredibly enigmatic and life-affirming album awaiting your (re)discovery.
Enchanted ‘90s ambient classicism from Japan’s Yoshihiro Sawasaki, newly edited and reissued by Pedro Vian for the MOMArchives sublabel of Modern Obscure Music. Originally dispatched in 1994 on Sublime Records - then home to Susumu Yokota and Ken Ishii - ‘Neocrystal’ has risen to the surface as a standout from the ‘90s phase of Japanese electronic music.
Subtly edited by Pedro Vian, the two tracks still glisten with a utopian promise that bridges new age environmental music and ambient techno, especially in the hyaline iridescence and bubbling acidic tones of ‘Neocrystal’, which eventually coalesces around a looping ambient breakbeat, whereas ‘Magic Dome’ approaches the floor more directly with its simmering electro drum patterns and streaking kosmiche synth leads drawing dancers in for a slinky shimmy and holding them there for 10 minutes.
Jakarta/NYC’s Asa Tone slip right under the skin with a mix of mercurial gamelan and electronics for California’s Leaving Records...
Exploring space where traditional Indonesian music re-merges with American new age’s Far Eastern inspirations, ‘Temporary Music’ offers firms up an ephemeral, experimental sort of ambient interzone that shares similar coordinates with the music of Georgia, Visible Cloaks and their wealth of Fourth World ambient inspirations.
The trio of Jakarta-born Melati Melay with New York based Tristan Arp and Kaazi recorded their debut album in a temporary studio nestled in tropical jungle canopy during Melati’s annual trip home in 2018. Improvising in long, meditative takes of mallets, bamboo, vocals, and electronics, the results were edited for brevity back in NYC and resemble a heat hazy series of snapshots from what clearly appears to be a lovely time spent together.
In 10 pieces flush with rhythmelodic cadence and aqueous shimmer, they elegantly skip and swoon from the beat-less, plasmic shimmy of intrpduction, ‘To Tell a Picture’ to the closing sound poem of ‘Each Pool a Lifetime’ via mosaic of moiré patterns; tilting uptempo thru the impish dance of ‘Perpetual Motion Via Jugnle Transport’, and swooping across the Hassellian dub of ‘Visit From Tokay’ to the tight ambient dancehall bumps of ‘In Everybody Repeating’, a spirited dream sequence called ‘River At Work’, and more dembow/dancehall styled ruggedness recalling Haruomi Hosono/YMO on ‘Ogoh Ogoh’.
Overmono remix ‘Not The News’ from Thom Yorke’s ‘Anima’ in a pair of emosh and brooding breakbeat techno rollers
The combo of Thom’s vox with contemporary electronic club production nails that sound Moderat have gunned for in both parts, but much better. Up top Thom is feathered into effervescent phrases over a snappy electro-breaks, spongiform subs and minor key chords to weightless, elegant effect, whereas the B-side’s takes a glummer route via drizzly, Burial-esque atmospheres and rolling garage-techno gait with Thom vapourised into hazy breaths and glossolalia.
Our album of the year 2019 is Kali Malone’s 'The Sacrificial Code’ - a major work featuring almost two hours of concentrated, creeping organ pieces. 'The Sacrificial Code' provided us with precious mental refuge just as the world started to spin out of control around us. It's an album that somehow slowed everything down, allowing us to take notice of every slight movement, as if every minute shift in sound became magnified through stillness. It's a stunning realisation of ideas borne out of academic and conceptual rigour, with a perception-altering quality that encouraged exploration without a preordained endpoint - the antithesis to the language of colourless musical platitudes we've become so accustomed to.
‘The Sacrificial Code’ takes a more surgical approach to the methods first explored on last year’s ‘Organ Dirges 2016 - 2017’. Over the course of three parts performed on three different organs, Malone’s minimalist process captures a jarring precision of closeness, both on the level of the materiality of the sounds and on the level of composition.The recordings here involved careful close miking of the pipe organ in such a way as to eliminate environmental identifiers as far as possible - essentially removing the large hall reverb so inextricably linked to the instrument. The pieces were then further compositionally stripped of gestural adornments and spontaneous expressive impulse - an approach that flows against the grain of the prevailing musical hegemony, where sound is so often manipulated, and composition often steeped in self indulgence. It echoes Steve Reich’s sentiment “..by voluntarily giving up the freedom to do whatever momentarily comes to mind, we are, as a result, free of all that momentarily comes to mind.”
With its slow, purified and seemingly austere qualities ‘The Sacrificial Code’ guides us through an almost trance-inducing process where we become vulnerable receptors for every slight movement, where every miniature shift in sound becomes magnified through stillness. As such, it’s a uniquely satisfying exercise in transcendence through self restraint - a stunning realisation of ideas borne out of academic and conceptual rigour which gradually reveals startling personal dimensions. It has a perception-altering quality that encourages self exploration free of signposts and without a preordained endpoint - the antithesis to the language of colourless musical platitudes we've become so accustomed to.
Laurel Halo stakes an eagerly and widely awaited return with the beguiling 4.1 world techno dimensions of 'In Situ' for Honest Jon's after cutting her teeth with highly acclaimed albums and EPs for Hippos In Tanks (R.I.P.) and Hyperdub.
Arriving two years since the Ann Arbor-quartered musician began testing a new hardware set-up on 'Chance of Rain', Laurel has refined those slightly clunky experiments here with a fluidly dextrous approach to Afro-inspired, rhythmelodic drum programming taught by psychedelic jazz and cosmic electronica.
It's a mental playground of fantastic dancefloor geometries, blooming at every angle with refreshed ideas of alien scales and hieroglyphic drum patterns designed to be deciphered by bodies in motion and heads in flight.
With nods to Afrikan Sciences, Kerry Leimer and Actress, she commands her machines with a deceptively loose sense of control, encouraging them to chatter freely, coolly, resulting in the ingneous, midnight groove formations of 'Focus I' and the future primitive techno funk of 'Drift', beside the discombobulated topographies of 'Nah' and the footworking centrifuge, 'Leaves'.
Time will tell, but this may well be one of the 2015's most impressive, nuanced collections of new electronica. A massive recommendation!
Pacy, gruffly textured techno pressure from Blawan on his Ternesc label
Now fully at grips with his modular system, he tweaks the groove between skating, tribalized rhythms and mind-bending synths in ‘Many Many Pings’ and a body-swilling piece of 140bpm techno hydraulics in ‘Lox’, while ‘Gadget’ sounds like a battalion of murderbots trampling and chanting in your direction, and ‘Hapexil Rotator’ goes double deep with pounding, padded kicks laced thru hypnotic drones and elusive, dreamier motifs that really set it off for pie-eyed ravers at 5am.
Of all Jan Jelinek’s formidable output, this album has always been t-h-e o-n-e for us. More resolved and driven than 'Loop-Finding Jazz Records' (which appeared two years later), less reliant on glitch than Farben, it was essentially Jelinek's most satisfying and complete prototype for a new kind of sample-based music deeply immersed in the spirit of Jazz, without making any direct reference to it. Finally, 20 years later, here’s another chance for the unfamiliar to join the dots.
Originally released via Move D’s Source imprint back in 1999, 'Personal Rock' is one of those albums that no one seems to ever talk about but which has resonated over the years with anyone lucky enough to have encountered it. Situated somewhere between 'Loop-Finding Jazz Records', his Farben output, Move D's Conjoint and Atom Heart's most immersive work for Rather Interesting, it's an album full of subtle production flourishes within deep House structures that belong to the pre-millenial IDM heyday, but which transcend its overly-fussy, masculine templates.
The music is brooding and deep, designed for late night immersion without resorting to cliché, bolstered by what we reckon is the most forward thinking and timeless production of Jelinek’s output over the last two decades. Impossible to pull highlights, it’s an album best experienced from end-to-end through multiple listens, drawing you into a quietly euphoric, deep blue mood.
Facsimile, 60th anniversary reissue of a classic number from the important Smithsonian Folkways Recordings archive, spanning rum ballads and observational sing-song by a legendary calypsonian
“Lord Invader was one of the most iconic and well-regarded calypso musicians of the mid-20th century. Coming from humble beginnings in the musical hotbed of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, Invader gained notoriety for his unique voice and lyrical prowess. Calypso Travels, his final album released just before his death, was produced in New York in 1960 by Folkways founder Moses Asch. The album showcases Lord Invader’s talent for biting lyrics that reference contemporary happenings, such as the rise of Fidel Castro, his experience at the 1956 World Fair in Belgium, the arrival of the Little Rock Nine in 1957 desegregating the public schools in the United States, and his touring experiences in Europe in the 1950s. An icon of Caribbean music, and one of the major forces exporting it to the world, Lord Invader epitomizes the spirit of calypso – boisterous, acerbic, and joyful.”
Astral Industries pluck out a cult ambient peach for reissue with Chi’s The Original Recordings (1985); a heady collection of communal invocations written on a farm in Holland during the fertile early ‘80s era of new age and post-punk exploration.
This is essentially the comprehensive version of The Original Recordings, compiling all tracks from their s/t tape and the later CD reissue - including both Kuhl II and Hopi - to frame their meditative, electro-acoustic wanderlust in all its dreamy effect.
Using a Juno 60 and JX3P synths, coupled with a few guitars, handmade percussion, flutes, organs and tape-loops, the six-piece ensemble recorded from summer, “all the doors and windows were open; birds flew in and out” thru the winter months, where “we sat close together, no hearing, only blankets, candles and brandy”, playing from late morning until sunrise to realise a drifting, gentle sound that hearkened back to classic kosmische from neighbouring Germany, but trimming away some of that sound’s cliche’s to leave a more minimalist, spectral sort of music for relaxation and meditation.
The recordings are wonderfully spacious, allowing the atmosphere of their environment to perfuse the music’s broad, sweeping layers and mingle with their pineal vision to become a vital, animated part of the record itself. For comparison, these recordings share certain similarities with the kind of records recently reissued by Amsterdam’s Music From Memory label, yet there’s something more mystic, less sweetened about Chi’s music that perhaps places it in a psychedelic Dutch lineage with later, ambient elements of Psychick Warriors of Gaia, or even the gentle, tactile tone of Machinefabriek music also made out in the sticks.
Definitely one to swoon for - highly recommended!
Facsimile, 60th anniversary reissue of a classic number from the important Smithsonian Folkways Recordings archive
Performed by Tuareg musicians of the Southern Sahara, and recorded by Finola and Geoffrey Holiday, this LP effectively offers a window into this region of the world whose music has become widely recognised in recent years thanks to the fiery Tuareg rock and folk releases of Bombino, Mdou Moctar, Tinariwen, and Les Filles de Illighadad.
While this side may be shy of the electric guitars that would become super popular in the region (it is 1960 after all, and they were only popularised in the US during the ‘50s), the ecstatic voices and wry, bluesy folk strings on show surely sound the roots of Tuareg rock to come. The gnawing tone of thud of ‘Azel au N Kel Owi (Imzhad Solo)’ is a prime example of their gripping instrumental prowess, while the plangent peal of ‘Song of the Enaden’ just sounds shockingly and transcendently ancient in a way that hasn’t yet been Americanised or Europeanised, and is all the better for it. Likewise the lilting cadence of ‘Hunting Song’ with its incidental sounds of crying babies and fits of giggles feels like we’re right there, in a smoky tent rapt by the nomads’ magic. Add in the sloshing claps, drums and chants of ‘Ilougan’ and the unabashed joy of the two weddings songs and it’s easy to hear why this side was picked to reboot the label’s vinyl pressings.
For ears what wander!
French artiste Tiphaine Belin aka Tryphème crystallises inspirations from ambient/synth-pop, rave and electro/IDM in her lush 2nd release for SoYo’s CPU crew.
Two years on from ‘Online Dating’, the six tracks of ‘Aluminia’ find Tryphéme swooning from what sounds like a nervier take on PC Music pop in ‘Lava’, to dry iced ambient electro on ‘Fey’, and sounding like some MASK series gem in ‘Eedyu’. ‘X Ray Mantra’ picks up in more curdled ambient synth-pop styles, and ‘In A Cyber Spiral’ feels Teresa Winter playing electro-dub hopscotch, while the lustrous, beatless arps of ‘Cry Silent Cry’ clearly nods to recent 0PN operations.
Mysterious Sydney singer songwriter Justine recorded one album in ’79, which was never officially released. Left Ear have chosen two tracks for a 45 RPM 12” single, which they feel best highlights Justine’s unique vocal talents and songwriting ability. Here the crafty songstress wields melancholic soul and a funky Jazz inspired number with personal and reflective lyrics, both with an intimate and honest approach.
"Elusive Sydney songstress Justine (Bradley) almost entirely wrote, produced and arranged her sole LP in ’79, an album that was funded by a radio station as the beneficiary for emerging talent. The music was created specifically for radio play without any intention of being manufactured. Luckily however, a friend with ties to a pressing plant known aptly as ‘Midnite Flite’, managed to sneak into said plant one evening and press up a small number for the enjoyment of family, friends & those involved.
Left Ear have decided to release what they consider to be the two most significant tracks from this release onto a 12” single, now for the enjoyment of all. The A-Side will feature the haunting ‘Wordless Songs’, a melancholic soulful number which according to Justine explores the “capacity to comprehend a partner’s internal quest for authenticity and connection”. The B-side ‘Mama Didn’t Tell Ya’ is more uplifting in both tempo and arrangements comprising an extended outro, while the lyrics remain just as personal and reflective.”
Left Ear keep ‘em coming with reissue of ‘Percussions Pour La Danse’, a sought-after 1989 side of computer-processed rhythmelody written for the choreography of Tony Kenneybrew. Afro, balearic, cosmic disco ‘eads and fiends gonna freak out over this one, especially for their 9 minute, Pekka Airaksinen-like jazz out on ‘Vas Y Peter’
“Percussions Pour La Danse was a collaboration between North American born jazz & contemporary-dance instructor Tony Kenneybrew and French musician Jean-Pierre Boistel. Tony, a Washington native who had studied, taught and danced professionally since the age of 12, found himself in France in the late 80’s. It’s here that he linked up with like-minded musician Jean-Pierre; who had recently returned from a 6-month trip to West Africa. A trip that helped refine his craft that begun in the early 70’s.
The music was created for Tony to use when teaching contemporary jazz-dance classes and to accompany live performance, allowing students to “dance slowly, rapidly and change speeds without changing the tempo!”. This work of rhythmic research was based on the “Balance of The Walk”; in 4 times, in 6 times, in 7 times & in 3 times. In order to reach the spatial possibilities he was striving for, Jean-Pierre would also use computer assisted programming to sample and re-play his own instrumentation. This allowed him to lay down the tempo of the track and then play live over the top, which in turn gave him the freedom to add the desired instruments and effects to each song.
Jean-Pierre’s use of instruments such as the Kalimba, Talking Drum & Sanza gives the album a distinctly African feel, while contemporary Jazz-dance time signatures adds a unique perspective to these traditional instrumentations creating an ethereal balance between the old and new.”
A 100% seminal, pivotal EP for many reasons, DJ Rolando’s ‘Knights of the Jaguar EP’ is back in circulation for all self-respecting house and techno DJs, dancers and collectors
Infamously, DJ Rolando’s anthemic A-side of this EP was so popular and successful at the time, that UR, a fiercely independent grassroots label from inner city Detroit, had to fight a legal battle against mega-major label Sony doing their own pressing. We’re not sure if any small label would stand up to that kind of shit these days - more likely to join ‘em if they can’t beat ‘em - but the 12” remains a vital piece of independent music history for matter that at least. But then factor in one of the greatest, enduring techno evergreens of all time in ‘Jaguar’, and the quick running depth of ‘Ascesión’ and it’s a real essential.
Endearingly nascent but accomplished deep house and techno productions from 1995-1997 by Tim Jackiw, only now seeing the light of day on Offworld.
Fuelled by the thrill of creation and pursuit of new sounds, ‘Many Moons’ documents the artist finding his way around an Amiga 500 computer, midi interface, and various analog and digital synths, drum machines and samplers in the mid ‘90s, at the point when the influence of Detroit techno, via its UK and Euro outposts, had made its way far south to Melbourne, Australia.
Considering it’s the artist’s first efforts, the results are charmingly classy and clearly modelled in the image of original heroes such as Juan Atkins, UR and Warp Records’ B12, all flush with iridescent, Martian melody, flighty pulses and slivers of acid in a way that recalls the slightly later work of 4th wave types like The Connection Machine or Dan Curtin.
Cosmic house from Glaswegian brethren Mr TC & Lo Kindre, embarking a maiden 4-track trip on their Phase Group label
The spooked-out, wobbly synths, tinfoil hi-hats and fluid bass of ’The Watching Eyes’ establishes a slow-burning, far-out aesthetic somewhere between Ra.H and Madteo that percolates thru the EP, pooling into the lo-slung, ambling shuffle of ‘The Knees’ and coming more jagged and druggy with the drip-off tang of ‘The Contaminant’ that leads into their zombied shuffler, ‘The Sink.’
Nobody does timeless yet modern ennui quite like HTRK. On their 4th album proper the duo trustingly cup your heart in a cats cradle of crepuscular rhythms & valium blues, all riddled with Jonnine Standish's ear worming mantras and Nigel Yang’s heat haze guitar shimmers.
Issued five years on from their excellent last album ‘Psychic 9-5 Club’, this new collection was recorded in the hills outside Melbourne and has a suitably lofty, cool, spacious air about it that makes their previous albums feel urgent by comparison. That’s maybe understandable considering the tragic circumstances surrounding their earlier albums (they lost a bandmate, mentor, and parent during this period), yet while ‘Venus In Leo’ is still decidedly gothic and downbeat, it’s clear they’ve come to terms with their quota of life’s worries, with Jonnine Standish’s vocals more than ever bearing the slow, travelled pathos of a country folk singer, beautifully accentuated by Nigel Yang’s acoustic strums. Don’t worry though, the spine tingling synths and lip-bitingly strong drum machine pulses are still firmly in place.
Preceded by two of its highlights, including Jonnine's sigh at the state of love in the age of social media on ‘Mentions’, and the aching shuffle of ‘Dying of Jealousy’ (whose singles both have killer B-sides), the album contains a further seven new songs that again confirm HTRK among the definitive songwriters of their scene. Between the opiated allure of ‘Into The Drama’, the shivery sweet acknowledgement of a lover’s compliments in ‘You Know How To Make Me Happy’, lazy afternoon sentiments on ‘Dream Symbol’, and the wilting petals of Yang’s guitar and dubbed drum machine in ‘New Year’s Day’, HTRK arguably prove the most crucial bridge between their heroes The Birthday Party/Rowland S. Howard/Suicide/David Lynch and a wave of modern pop tristesse from Lil Peep to Billie Eilish, whether those artists know it or not.
In two slow, alternately milky and gritty movements ‘Footfalls’ renders a proggy ambient trip loosely inspired by desolate seaside settings limned by T.S. Elliot and Samuel Beckett
“The two collaborators, known separately for contemporary electronic music & free clarinet experimentations team up to create the delirious trip, Footfalls. Two scenes are presented here, seemingly taken from different sides of the same desolated seaside setting, loosly inspired by poet and novalist T.S Elliot and Samuel Becket. In Towards the Door, Gareth Davis´ bass clarinet breathes slow, wave-like tones that merge with the oft-rythmic electronic textures from his counterpart. A third of the way in, Robin Rimbaud´s synth erupts into a Blade Runner-esque epic harmonic section that disappears as suddenly as it arrives - leaving ripples of oscillation in its wake, slowly unfolding into the sound of waves, as it arrives back where it begun : as a full circle, drawn in echo´s of sound.
Smokefall begins with the words „Invisible choirs“, subtly spoken by a woman’s voice among a blurred distant conversation, as textural sound effects creep forwards to the point where a slow progressing but steady LFO rhythm enters. Water, metal & smoke are absorbed into a creeping tribal passage, acompanied by long clarinet tones. The piece expands further and further into a state of ecstatic harmonic noise that fulfills all parts of your body – if played loud. Both artists from here on move into full on crushing electronics, all while Rimbaud´s Kilpatrick Phenol synth drives the background with its pulses and repetative bassline. The piece has an ellipse like rotation that makes one feel a sort of blissful vertigo that reverberates in your mind after the piece has ended.”
Jonny Trunk draws an astute link between ASMR and ‘Mechanical Keyboard Sounds’ in this perfectly peculiar side of recordings by bespoke luxury mechanical keyboard maker, Taeha Types, featuring Recordings of 12 bespoke mechanical keyboards.
Up there with the oddest and most brilliant Trunk sides, ‘Mechanical Keyboard Sounds’ takes a closer look and listen to the ubiquitous tool found on desktops everywhere, and may even make you develop a newfound appreciation for the humble keyboard. Prompted by a neighbour - Stuart London aka futurecrime - to check the growing online scene for bespoke and customised mechanical keyboards, Trunk was struck by how satisfying the sound of a well-tuned keyboard could be. A conversation was started with ‘tuber Taeha Types, who is recognised as the go-to guy for this sorta thing, and the result is this uniquely gratifying slab of 12 recordings of rapid taps made on some of the finest keyboards money can buy.
If one weren’t told otherwise, the recordings may well resemble close-miked documentation of insects, some esoteric ritual, or a game of backgammon sped up, but closer inspection reveals sequences of these flurries that are possibly identifiable as furious delete keying or hammering a return button. And this is where it gets interesting, as each recording reveals to the listener the idiosyncrasies of each keyboard and its custom parts which, like custom built cars, use a huge spectra of parts both vintage and bespoke to achieve the users’ dream build and preferred levels of tactility and clickiness.
The models all range from customised 1986 vintage to bespoke 2019 models made with milled aluminium and lubed with the same grease that NASA use. Stuart London highlights the Nixdorf switches on the ’TGR 910 RE’ as particularly satisfying to his ears, and they are to ours, too, but the ‘IBM P70’ with its tinny plate spring switches is also tickling our fancy, but christ that ‘Chicory KB5160AT would get on our tits if we had to use it all day. Like customised keyboards themselves, this record ain’t for everyone, but you don’t need to like them to enjoy this record, much in the same way we’ve previously enjoyed C Spencer Yeh’s recording of an unplugged RCA Mark II Synth.
Half a decade since the DMT-inspired ‘You’re Dead’ LP, Flying Lotus is cooking on gas with ‘Flamagra’, another concept-driven spectacular, this time featuring notable guest turns from Solange and David Lynch, among many, many more.
At 27 tracks wide and 67 minutes it’s a heavy serving by modern measures, likely inspired by the arms-race for epics established by Kamasi Washington, and like Kamasi, Flying Lotus favours a rich and densely woven blend of classic soul, jazz and P-funk flecked with the kinda jazzy IDM turns-of-phrase you might expect from Squarepusher, and the sorta wonky hip hop that was big 10 years ago.
Blackest Ever Black draw a line under their tenure as preeminent label of the decade with a typically affective compilation that perversely introduces new acts to their fold(ing).
Not to overstate it, but for many avowed fans it’s possible to measure a block of our lives by BEB’s existence. When they first emerged with Raime’s stark debut, they were a breath of dank but necessary air to the British music scene. Staunch in their tastes but also wide open with it, they continued to draw a jagged line around the music that they loved, and a ruck of disparate loners, ravers and weirdos were more than happy to follow their lead between mutant forms of UK dance musick, eldritch psychedelia, smoky French avant-garde, incredible mixtapes, and indie-pop also-rans rewarded with a necessary 2nd wind. They left us with a bold yet sensitive and singular catalogue that precipitated all sorts of salty fluids from their legion followers, and will go down as one of the definitive labels of the 2010’s.
Rounding up 10 ghostly vignettes ranging from funereal pop to liminal ambient ’A short illness from which he never recovered’ sees the label off in a poetic fashion that has served them beautifully well thus far. Carla Dal Forno’s gently fevered dirge ‘Blue Morning’ (a cover of ‘The Kiwi Animal’ by Julie Cooper) is an obvious highlight, as is the plangent strain of Bridget Hayden’s ’Solace’, along with the watery, strumming-by-an-open-window vibe of ‘De Dröigen Blaar’ by Hypnotic Sleep, and the strung-out beauty of Scythe’s ‘Flower, Drop’, but you can rest assured that the whole LP perfectly plays thru like a heart-breaking, personal mixtape compilation from a friend who you’re never going to see again.
Please allow the sentimentality, though, ‘cos BEB will live on both thru their catalogue and in their metamorphosis into Low Company, who have evidently picked up the baton and are continuing to run with it into greener pastures fertilised by new and old wavers and ravers alike.