Stunning retrospective of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’s devotional works collated from the private tape archive of the Avatar Book Institute. Seriously, this one's a proper head melter...
Luaka Bop commence a new series of releases themed around the global spiritual diaspora with this superb collection of rare devotional works from Alice Coltrane. Sure, everyone knows how great ‘Universal Consciousness’ (especially after that Superior Viaduct reissue from a few years back) but ‘The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’ hones in on a period of her life that is less widely-known.
Undoubtedly moved by the passing of her husband John Coltrane in 1967, Alice embarked on a spiritual reawakening that took her out of the public eye and culminated with the establishment of a 48-acre Sai Anantam Ashram in Malibu, California in 1983. This secluded ashram gave Coltrane the freedom to explore her spirituality through music unfettered, performing countless solo bhajans, and group kirtans and experimenting with them and synthesizers using the complex structures learnt from jazz.
These would soon form a series of cassette recordings that were privately distributed throughout the ashram community on Coltrane’s own Avatar Book Institute label. After some rather iffy, illicit vinyl editions of those tapes recorded off YouTube made the rounds, it’s good to hear this music in newly-remastered form from the original masters (by engineering legend Baker Bigsby, no less) on this Luaka Bop collection.
And how vibrant it sounds! There is clearly a vast intersection of styles at play throughout, interspersing the spiritual incantations of the Vedic devotional chants with some unique song structures and uplifting synthetic experiments. You can easily foresee the likes of Flo Po, Antal and Four Tet playing Oh Rama and Rama Guru, two of the more rhythmically-bound kirtans that act as spiritual jazz precursors to Detroit techno with illuminating synths that would make Carl Craig blush with envy. At other times, it is Coltrane’s voice which acts as the guiding force, orchestrating a wonderful harmonious call on Om Shanti.
Hopefully this is the prelude to a wider LB campaign of Alice Coltrane reissues from the Avatar Book Institute era.
Unexpected new album from Shinichi Atobe - an hour of deeply inspirational House music for the ages that could have been produced 20 years ago, could have been produced earlier this year - we’ll probably never know. RIYL DJ Sprinkles, good times!
Heat is a surprise new double album from Shinichi Atobe for DDS. It follows on from last year’s “From The Heart, It’s A Start, A Work Of Art” set and continues a run of highly enigmatic, acclaimed and completely unparalleled productions that follow their own timeless logic. There’s no sonic fiction involved - this material really does just turn up on a CD sent by air mail from Japan to Manchester, sparse info, no messing, pure gold.
What’s that cover art about? prob something to do with the balmy, slightly fuucked, sunstroked material within. So Good, So Right, the 10 minute opener, will force you to forget about all the shite around you for a while. There are also several tracks called Heat; they’re all killer.
This music takes you elsewhere almost immediately; that fan on your desk is basically a summer breeze. In fact, this whole album is absurd; completely effortless; a total classic. Convince us that there’s a more life affirming electronic album this year and we’ll buy you an ice cream....
Dream collaboration between Jonny Nash and likeminded ambient soul, Suzanne Kraft
Produced in 2016 and “in close proximity to the M56 Motorway”, which, weirdly enough, lulls me to sleep every night. We’d imagine that Passive Aggressive is intended to do the same thing, operating at such lowlit and hushed levels that it’s almost hard not to be seduced to slumber by its sandman tones.
It really is best consumed whole, but if you’ve got a shorter attention span or need some highlights, check for the deliciously off key tone of Small Town and the ambient jazz nocturne, Hanging Glass Structure and you’ll instantly know the vibe.
Broadly psychedelic compilation from Glasgow’s Invisble Inc., hopping styles from Italian cosmic disco to West Coast ambient experiments and myriad, dubby, dreamy styles betwixt
“Marking the 20th release on Invisible, Inc. is this special limited edition double-vinyl gatefold compilation featuring tracks from some of the most highly respected musicians of the last five decades.
The astonishingly diverse palette of styles comes courtesy of renowned ambient innnovator Laraaji, multi-Grammy Award-winning producer and ground-breaking synthesist and sound engineer Malcolm Cecil (in his Tonto's Expanding Head Band guise), Italian 'Cosmic Disco' pioneer and DJ Daniele Baldelli, avantgarde experimentalist K. Leimer, New York electro synth-pop legend Richard Bone (all five of whom have been active since the '70s or earlier) as well as dub techno locked groove aficionados log(m), West Coast psychedelic electronics maestro Secret Circuit, Berlin-based synthesist/composer Eva Geist plus a veritable "who's who" of some of the finest producers of ambient, dub, downtempo, leftfield and experimental electronica ever collected together on a single piece of wax (or two in this case): Baikonour, Sordid Sound System, Causa, Ulysses, Epsilove, Luv*Jam, Higamos Hogamos, Randweg, Bronze Savage, Komodo Kolektif, Bal5000 and Natural Sugars.
Eliciting a distinct sense of musical other-worldlyness, the title is perhaps more than just a nod to Philip K Dick's "Blade Runner" and hints at the idea that if these transmissions 'from beyond' are 'lost' they may in essence be more rooted in our distant past than in some science fiction future.
Putting needle to record, ancient rhythms and hypnotic mantras merge with synthesized soundscapes and deep basslines to propel us upward from the primeval forest floor into steady orbit before engaging the hyperspace drive on a trajectory deep into the Great Mystery.”
Caterina Barbieri binds cello, voice and Buchla 200 modular synth in sweeping electro-acoustic panoramas on ‘Born Again In The Voltage’, her 2nd solo LP with Important following the resoundingly captivating ‘Patterns Of Consciousness’ .
Recorded at EMS in Stockholm, ’Born Again In The Voltage’ is arguably the Berlin-based Italian’s most distinctive release yet, demonstrating a hard-nosed yet romantic approach to electro-acoustic music that stands out from her field in a way perhaps best compared with a more chaotic parallel to Alessandro Cortini or Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, while also echoing the probing, contemporary styles of her peers and collaborators such as Kali Malone and Ellen Arkbro.
Naturally tempestuous but coolly controlled, the astonishing designs of ‘Born Again In The Voltage’ are testament to Caterina’s unique grasp of meditative, minimalist maelstroms. Using elemental, primary waveforms, pattern based operations and subtractive counterpoints, her music blossoms along polyphonic and polyrhythmic axes with a complex unpredictability and timbral density that is a richly psychedelic pleasure to experience.
Picking us up in the arcing swells of Antonello Manzo’s cello and the radiant pulses of ‘Human Developers’, Barbieri takes 12 minutes to arrive in oxygen-depleted altitudes, before letting the cello sound out in a melting Renaissance hall of mirrors in ‘Rendering Intutions’. By the mid-way point, suitably dazed and malleable, she really pushes the envelope with uncanny tactility in the viscous subharmonics and contrail contours of ‘How To Decode An Illusion’ coming off like Stephen O’Malley deep in the matrix with Keith Fullerton Whitman, while her latent techno side, previously explored alongside Carlo Maria in the Punctum project for Berlin’s Σ, comes blazing thru in the mesmerising undulations of ‘We Access Only A Fraction’, which will make a serious DJ tool in the right mitts.
Early bodybeat works and unreleased tracks by Schiksal, the alias of Rudi Huybrechts, one of the most adventurous body beat artists of 1980's Belgium.
“365 Days” compiles his best work since 1982 until now. 36 years of experiment, changing gear from analog to digital and back, without ever changing his Leitmotiv: creating the perfect sounding body beat. After a few tracks released on the famous Underground Wave compilation albums on Walhalla Records, now finally a full album by this fascinating artist, a mix of early and more recent work. An album worth discovering!"
Alessandro Cortini returns with the third and final album from his SONOIO project...
“Prior to releasing a string of influential and widely acclaimed solo records under his own name on labels such as Important and Hospital Productions, Alessandro Cortini (Nine Inch Nails) self-released two albums under the name SONOIO (“It’s Me.”) in 2010 and 2011 in limited runs.
Praised for their complex and rich pop sound, strong vocal delivery and thoughtful compositions with impeccable production values, SONOIO’s “Red” and “Blue” (and the accompanying remix albums “Non Red” and “Non Blue”) made heavy use of Cortini’s expert manipulation of the Buchla synthesizer, releasing the single “Enough”, and remixing Ladytron’s “Houdini” before setting off on tour in direct support.
As activity with Nine Inch Nails, the demands of touring, and his other solo endeavors began to pick up, production on the third and final SONOIO installment was delayed. In 2014 however, after years of silence, SONOIO posted the single and video for the song “Thanks For Calling” exclusively on sonoio.org and quickly reignited rumors and hope for the release of the third album.
Opening track “I Don’t Know” and the mournful follow-up “Left” set the stage for the emotional ride, with reverbed synths over an acute mid-tempo beat – accompanied by astonishingly strong vocals, which those accustomed to Cortini’s instrumental works will likely be happily shocked by. Next, the aforementioned single “Thanks For Calling” starts slow, building over 4 minutes with Cortini whispering, speaking, building strength into the gorgeously delivered line: “falling to pieces” before the track explodes into a driving anthem.
The album then quite literally descends into “Pieces”, an instrumental effort that brings to mind Aphex’s Ambient Works – a submerged lullaby of electronics before re-emerging into “Vitamin D”, an energetic and pulsing track that snaps the listener to attention. A pattern of smart and intentional pacing and rhythm becomes apparent, as the listener is taken down through moody, effective dirges (“Bad Habit”, “Under The Sea”) and lifted up into a surprising guitar piece “What’s Before”. “I Don’t Know (Coda)” is the album’s effective and final track, with Cortini’s vocals muffled and echoing “I’m in the mirror, let me in….” before emerging loud and clear above a wash of howling synth*
Personal, layered and complex, “Fine” achieves greatness as both a singular example of deep and inspiring pop music, and as the final album – the closing chapter in the story of SONOIO.”
A brand new South American tape batch on Sucata Tapes annonces itself with the premiere of Los Siquicos Litoraleños’ Radio Siquica (Psychic radio). RIYL: Sun City Girls, Sublime Frequencies...
"After their international debut ”Sonido Chipadelico" (Sham Palace/Annihaya) and their recent mind melting tape, Medianos Éxitos Subtropicales Vol.1 (Artetetra) the masters of rural homegrown psych cumbia/rock come to Discrepant (via Sucata Tapes) with an undefined tape of radio experiments done (not) some time ago. ‘’Their music is a unique triumph of homegrown rural psychedelia, standing alone on the edge of an unchartered vanguard. Here is the contemporary group you keep hoping exist, but can never find. Mind-melting tropical psych-rock, pitched-down cumbias soaked in dub brine, swirling solar instrumentals, and surrealist shamanic lyrics laid across guitars, drums, tapes and electronics – bringing together multi-fidelity electric and acoustic psychic sound-forms from the greater depths of sound and surprise.’’ (Mark Gergis)
Issued via Lawrence English's Room 40 emporium, this custom-made generative soundbox uses a circuit board that is no longer in production so these are most likely going to be the final copies that will be available - 100 units only. Second generation model housed inside an embossed pouch including a USB cable.
This magic box from Spyros Polychronopoulos arguably just achieved one of modern composition’s smartest goals; to make a piece of music which will, in effect, play infinitely without direct repetition; using electronic means to create the effect of a musician trapped within a box of persistently morphing timbral and temporal paradoxes.
The sounds are indescribable; constantly shifting thru fragments of classical piano, field recordings, glowing drone contours, haptic grains and fizzing scree in a way that’s perhaps best compared in synaesthetic sound/visual terms to looking out of a train window while travelling at speed and trying to tune a shortwave radio.
We’ve seen a lot of innovative releases over the years, but in terms of both its execution and the amorphous abundance of sounds contained within, Live Electronic Music is easily one of the most fascinating objects we’ve had the pleasure to stock, garnering the kind of interest we can only compare to the initial Buddha Machine frenzy a decade ago.
Discrepant’s Sucata Tapes intercept cumbia dub signals from Buenos Aires, Argentina’s Panchasila. If SKRS Intl and Don’t DJ drank ayahuasca with Muslimgauze…
“Welcome Panchasila, the 3rd entry on our South American tape extravaganza for Sucata Tapes.Panchasila are the duo of Juan Jose Calarco and Guillermo M. Cerredo (M3Y, VLUBÄ) from Buenos Aires, Argentina. They started playing together with Panchasila around 2012 and define their sound as a mix of Dub music techniques applied to Cumbia and other South American rhythms. On this self titled debut tape they took inspiration from Bollywood, Thai films and Indonesian music to create an unique melting pot of genres and styles defying categorisation.”
OCA is a collaborative project by producer and musician Yo van Lenz (Through My Speakers, Monkeytown Records) and artist Florian T M Zeisig (Important Records/Cassauna, No Disk)
"At the intersection of music being presented in a certain framework, questions regarding musical quality, intentionality, virtuosity and purpose arise. The work 'Preset Music' engages with questions regarding compositional intentions. Notes, chords - and often times improvised snippets of music - are exclusively serving the purpose of showcasing the instrument itself. 'Preset Music' aims to display the juxtaposition of intentionality and non-intentionality in music and composition. With the gesture of intentionally sampling and composing, using non- intentional musical material - in the sense of purposive presentation regarding the instrument – the seven compositions stand in direct contrast to the presenters' original intentions.
'Preset Music' is the result of complex sampling strategies working with looped segments, automation, pitch, timbre, speed and mapping amongst other."
Rod Modell (DeepChord) returns to Astral Industries’ elevated planes, this time with Chris Troy on a 20 year follow-up to their first Waveform Transmission; V 1.0-1.9 for Silent. With the 72 minute V 2.0-2.9, they present a supremely serene addition to their nebulous catalogue, paradoxically plumbing reverberant, expansive space to beautifully introspective effect.
Modell’s signature dub techniques are in effect, but only as part of a greater system of ambient processing, with having bass reserved to daubs of low end pressure in a swirling ecosystem of harmonious tone and abstract crackle that’s more widescreen kosmiche in its outlook, totally in key with the Astral Industries aesthetic that Modell has played a strong part in with DeepChord’s Lanterns and the Colours of Time (Re-Intrepreted) session with Wolfgang Voigt.
We warmly encourage pumping up your noumenal lilo and casting adrift in these epic realms.
With an impact that belies the Kentucky combo's mayfly like existence, Slint set about cheery picking elements from Punk, New Wave and classic Rock then reassembled them so as traditional notions of pitch, rhythm and timbre didn't apply.
Predicting the Post Rock of Tortoise by almost half a decade, the likes of 'Nosferatu Man' and 'Don, Aman' show just how heavily the likes of Mogwai and godspeed you black emperor! are indebted to their sound. Including the classic heartbreak squall of 'Good Morning, Captain' (whose DNA is all over Beck's new album) there's never been a better time to investigate Slint and play dot-to-dot through the post-rock elements of your record collection.
Sound artist Tomoko Sauvage adds the gorgeous, elemental waterbowl recordings of Musique Hydromantique to a wonderful run of 2017 releases on Félicia Atkinson & Bartolomé Sanson's Shelter Press. Quite possibly the most soothing hour of music you'll experience all year
It will become hard to believe once you’ve heard it, but all sounds on the LP were improvised with acoustic technique and recording - meaning no electronics, edits or overdubs - whilst they effectively sound like the microtonal output of some unique, natural synthesiser affected by subtle variables such as temperature, architecture, humidity and human presence. If Philip Corner and Eliane Radigue ever made a record together, it may well sound like Musique Hydromantique.
Using a set-up of hydrophones (underwater mics) and porcelain bowls filled with varying amounts of water, developed by the artist over the better part of this decade, Musique Hydromantique forms a meditative, experimental study in rhythm and pitch which resonates with gamelan and ancient divination techniques as much as it does with minimalist modern electronics. The results are utterly captivating in their fluid timbres and plaintively plangent structure, rendering the elusive, ever-changing and hypnotic phenomena of moving water in three diverse states or sonic sculptures that patently demonstrate a deep, underlying and innate connection between the performer, her medium, and the listener.
Clepsydra - meaning ‘water clock’ - most closely resembles a form of gamelan practice, or, even some form of minimal electronic music. For ten minutes she renders a series of exquisitely variegated sonic glyphs gestured from her struck bowls and hands changing the quantities of water, and by extension, the pitch of each bowl. Tomoko makes a real virtue of everyday sounds, resulting in a time-dilating passage of smooth glissandi, elegantly unshackling our internal clocks from the anticipation of quantised convention.
Fortune Biscuit follows in a very different style. Here, the brownian flow yields a remarkable micro-ecology of sounds that almost mimic animals, cyborganic mechanisms and insect choruses, yet they were entirely generated by a piece of porous terra cotta (biscuit) dipped into water. The scuttling patterns are perhaps understandable in that context, but we’re utterly baffled how they also make those pealing, arcing harmonic partials. In the final, 20 minute piece, Calligraphy those techniques serve to gel and diffuse her water-based sounds in even more bewildering fashion, as she employs the 10 second reverbs of an old textile factory to render her delicate, subaquatic sounds in a play of fractious drips, haptic rubs and their resonant feedback, feeling to melt time entirely and open a tranquil space for divination of your own senses in between those perceptions of time and tone.
This is a record that seems to have been designed to promote ultimate well being, it will completely engulf and subsume your senses and keep your attention rapt from start to finish. And we'd echo Tomoko's request that you listen to it at the start or end of the day for optimal results - far healthier than a spliff or night cap and will set your mood like some kind of ancient tuning fork.
Raw yet sophisticated deep house, acid and electro clearly schooled in the classics, from Glasgow’s Stephen Lopkin
Continuing a run of Gaelic-located or themed titles for M>O>S, Clyde Built is perhaps the definitive batch of Lopkin's emotive and puristic style following ‘The Haggis Trap’  and ‘Meall a’ Bhùiridh’ .
Nodding to Glasgow’s heritage as the entry point for so much imported American dance music as well as its industrial past, Lopkin forges 10 aces over two plates, with divine results inspired by Detroit classics in ‘Fragments of Yesteryear’ and ’Stupid Humans’, along with the lush house traction of ‘White Corries’, some B12-esque electro in ‘Decades’, and a heavily seductive stripe of Reese-bassed techno in ‘Fridays at Pure’, at Carl Craig-goes-Italo flavour in ‘Welcome To Nowhere’.
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.
Strapping EBM tackle from Raw Ambassador, returning to Mannequin’s Death of The Machines series (which also introduced JASSS in 2016) with a fierce follow-up to the Shadows of Evil EP.
It’s practically worth it for the titular lead track Front 242 style bass torque and rusty razor-cut drums, but acid fiends may also like the vinegary 303 tweaks of Bal, and the Jamal Moss-like intensity of Trip.
Mood Hut deliver a late summer disco-house hustle with Local Artist’s ‘Dancer / Dreamer’ session, their first release of 2018
‘Dancer’ works out a strutting groove with walking disco bass and warm chords fringed by a patina of party vibes.
‘Dreamer’ comes a touch ruggeder on the flip with rudely dubbed out chords and robust subbass recalling Chez Damier and Ron Trent classics, but softened ‘round the edges for fluffier folks.
Well-rounded, richly layered and deeper acid house from the Kiwi duo
Up top they go on earthy, mystic with the deep house hustle of ‘Multiverse’ and the combo of lushly jazz-wise pads with grubbing acid in ‘Double Dribble’, whereas they go proper spiritual on the other side with the super spacious atmospheres and low-lying drums of ‘Kaitaia Fire’ and the heavy-lidded somnambulance of ‘Drum Therapy’.
It's impossible to overstate the unique brilliance of Arthur Russell's posthumous release, 'Another Thought'.
Originally issued on Phillip Glass's (then Decca financed) Point Blank label (CD only) a year after Arthur's tragic death in 1993, Another Thought features mostly bare-boned Russell with his vocals mixed with cello plucks and bowing, occasional percussion and other subtle touches. Almost all the tracks are exclusive to this release, two tracks appeared on the Soul Jazz comp and here you also get an alternative take on the classic 'In the Light Of The Miracle’.
Like many others, we wouldn't be ashamed to admit shedding a tear or two to the sheer life-affirming qualities of this record over the years. It's not sad, it's just heart-breakingly beautiful, stripped to the bare essentials of Arthur's voice and cello dappled with effects and backed with his own drum machine, plus congas, sax and keys from longtime collaborators such as Peter Zummo, Elodie Lauten, and Mustafa Ahmed, among others. In the most transcendent sense, it's music that occupies its very own genre, a magical soundworld all of its own, ready for you to visit when times are good, and perhaps even more so when they're bad and you really need a fillip.
Although it’s been available on CD, first on that 1994 pressing for Point Music, and later in 2006 for Philip Glass's Orange Mountain Music, the magic is arguably enhanced by Arc Light Editions' much needed gesture to press it on wax for the first time. It's like finding a new, secret entrance to your favourite place in the world. Even passing Russell fans will likely know a few of its charms such as 'This Is How We walk On The Moon', 'Another Thought' itself, or the alternate version of 'Keeping Up' from 'The World Of...', and we truly envy any of you who are about to encounter it for the first time.
Only Now and Orogen depart terra firma in pursuit of habitable new zones, realising a stark, inhospitable sound that, in a Planet Of The Apes twist, turns out to be transmission from Urth, a parallel plane of existence practically indistinguishable from our own...
“"Unearth I and II" carves tunnels of resonance which mimic the cosmic proportions and monolithic movements of exoplanet existence. Slow, but unpredictable howls, lurks, and .00001 BPM rhythms visualize the life between the dust and atoms. Symphonies and loading docks echo a million miles away: slowed beyond belief, compressed into rhythmic ambience and flattened to unearthly oblivion. As the compositions grow on into side B of the cassette, the zero BPM landscape slowly transforms into cycles, distinctly organic and tribal, slipping out the very last, or the very first primitive signs of life on a planet, not of our own.
Only Now (Kush Arora) and Orogen (Lucas Patzek) grew up together in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have been collaborating on ambient and experimental sound projects for 19 years. In high school they began manipulating and arranging audio from minidisc field recordings, first-generation software synths, hardware samplers and FX pedals, and homemade contact mics. The sonic innovators that inspired their early work include Zoviet France, Brume, Lustmord, Alio Die, Haujobb, and Hafler Trio. They were drawn to the occult music scenes of California and beyond, and performed together from their teenage years through their 20’s at a variety of venues, from outdoor music festivals to artsy fashion shows.
Fast forward to 2015: the duo returned to the studio intending to craft some rhythmic compositions. They laid down some pummeling metallic drum work using physical modeling VST's and synths to create what can be described as WAX TRAX records meets Pole. They then decided to shatter and reform these on-time compositions, and the journey began into the aural nature of outer being, power music; drawing textures from the deep earth and subconscious.”
Sunn 0)))’s entrancing, crushing doom metal totem ’White1’, entirely remastered by Matt “The Alchemist” Colton for its 15th anniversary edition, including the beastly rarity ‘Cut Wood(ed)’ from their rare-as-heck ‘White’ box
Notably featuring guest appearances from Julian Cope and Joe Preston, White1 is an exceptional highlight of Sunn 0)))’s near-sacred catalogue of doom metal drone recordings. Originally intended as an acoustic album, the recording session took a different route towards psychedelic electronic experimentation, with the results originally issued in 2003 on CD and as a now sought-after 3-sided LP packaged in a pillowcase and including a sleeping pill.
In the same year of its release, this reviewer popped their Sunn 0))) cherry at Autechre’s ATP, which was nothing short of a life-changing revelation, seeing Julian Cope prostrate, front of stage, surrounded by candles and dry ice, flanked by axe-wielding druids clawing the most monstrous riffs this teenaged bean had ever heard.
On disc, you might not get the full visual glory of O’Malley, Anderson, Ritter, and Cope on stage, but provided you crank it loud enough at home, you can now come closer than ever to the void of White1, from Cope’s foul mouthed induction in the 26 minutes of My Wall, to the brainfeezing blend of traditional Norse vocals and the super rare appearance of Joe Preston’s achingly tight drumming on The Gates of Ballard - one of scant few Sunn 0))) cuts to feature percussion, and which still makes us want to knock down skyscrapers - and right thru the subharmonic ritual of A Shaving of the Horn That Speared You.
Always pushing it one step farther, this release also now includes the abyssal dimensions of Cut Wood(ed), their 2003 collaboration with Ulver which didn’t make the original LP, later found on the White box in 2006, and now retrospectively added to this definitive edition of a staggering masterpiece.
Filth-smith Helena Hauff fires up a raw-to-the-bone barrage of bleached drum machines and needle-fanged arps on ‘Qualm’ - the Hamburg assassin’s 2nd album for Ninja Tune.
Arriving at a point where Helena is a hugely sought-after DJ - a time when other artists have often played up to a more commercial style - she pulls no punches with a severely thistly album of extreme pH levels placing her love of Bunker bombs and noisy industrial dance music front and centre, in a way perhaps designed to keep the dilettantes at arm’s length, while offering a sweaty embrace to all madder ravers, cyberpunks and misfits.
Under the title Qualm - one of those words you can chew like gristle - Helena deftly and brutally gets what she needs from her machines, slaving a battered analogue array to the front of the rave and rarely sparing the whip for any of them. However, when more romantic or melancholy emotions come thru, they’re direct and never self indulgent, lending a fine contrast to the album’s harshest aspects.
In transitional flux of alkali and acidic extremes, Helena charts a heavy trip between the salty ghetto lash of Barrow Boot Boys and the bittersweet synth-pop of It Was All Fields Around Here When I Was A Kid which both bookend the set. In the frazzled space between, she laces up some absolute welters with raging acid of Lifestyle Guru, the screwface charge of Hyper-Intelligent Genetically Enriched Cyborg, and the switch from ‘floor-swilling 303s to night-vision pads in The Smell Of Suds and Steel, while her electro instincts bubble up in warped ways on Fag Butts In The Fire Bucket and the furtive, slimy creep of Panegyric.
But none of those would be so effective in an album context without the contrasts provided by her more fanciful missives, such as the salty lullaby of Entropy Created You And Me, the blood-curdled horror themes of Primordial Sludge, or the struggling nEuro pomp of the titular Qualm itself, which can possibly be taken as a sort of requiem for a rotting Eurozone at the vinegar strokes of late capitalism.
London’s dankest relay palpably paranoid pressures from the capital on The Bug's newly minted Pressure label, hopefully the start of an ongoing collaboration between the pair.
Spying those hours of the dance when the smoke machines are puffing but there’s nobody there yet, Fog finds them melding charred bass hustle with billowing greyscale atmospheres in a time-honoured style shared by both artists.
On the flip, Shrine distills their meditative intensity to more suspenseful degrees with exceedingly brittle drums bearing the huge, brooding weight of a slowed down dread bass and glowering pads = minimal fuss for deadly, concentrated impact.
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.
Not for the first time, but arguably the most significant, Pye Corner Audio crosses paths with Ghost Box for his first LP of 2016; a narcotically hypnagogic and dystopian trip entitled Stasis.
At least one leap year cycle since his last album with the GB’s, Sleep Games, right now this one feels like a stygian trudge into bleakest futures, operating at such a stoned pace that it moves slower than actual time, and by submitting to its temporal warp we’re allowed to regress back into a pre-digital epoch of paranoid cold, or even civil war atmospheres and paranoia.
It could almost be the soundtrack to a Ben Wheatley flick (low budget, not the over-glossy high rise) about British time travellers, forgoing Dr. Who queso for a more hard-boiled, furtive vibe about anachronistic assassins sent back to kill Nigel Farage at birth, only to uncover that he’s part of an exceedingly dangerous non-human race with ties to Johnson, Cameron and all the other pebble-people, so they round them all up and lock them in a hostel in Middlesbrough with a broken kettle and packet of poisoned monster munch between the lot.
Of course, that fantasy is all set to a soundtrack of wistful electronic mists and pulsating arpeggios that could be right out of some late ‘70s / early ‘80s synth library, and ultimately shows that whilst technology has advanced in the meantime, that ostensibly archaic music still reflects an underlying eldritch darkness contemporary and relevant to both eras, then and now.
Glass offers the sublime results of a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), as performed and recorded at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut during the private opening to Yayoi Kusama’s installation marking the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth.
Making sterling use of the landmark architectural work’s pellucid dimensions, the pair fixed contact mics to its glass walls, which they effectively played as an “instrument”, rubbing it with rubber gong mallets to generate delicate tones which they combined with a sympathetic palette of singing glass bowls, crotales, keyboards and mixers.
The seamless performance of floating, weightless tones and exquisitely quivering timbres is without doubt one of their finest. For the duration we’re held static and spellbound by the pair’s interplay of microtonal shifts and plasmic chronics, keening the listener thru hazes of digital dust and vortices of angelic harmonics to locate, alchemise and resolve a rarified, deeply mysterious spirit before the piece closes.
As the follow-up to their OST for The Revenant  and the warbling keys of Summvs  before that, the achingly lush tension of Glass is perhaps the purest testament to the clarity of vision and endless minimalist mutability of this highly revered duo.
Carsten Nicolai’s Noton present a masterclass in minimalist electronic discipline with Mika Vainio, Ryoji Ikeda + Alva Noto’s powerfully future-proofed Live 2002 performance, recorded at Newcastle’s Baltic arts centre.
The only known recording of the trio, as far as we’re aware, Live 2002 documents three visionary artists in seamless, indivisible collaboration segueing from sublime drone darkness (Movements 1) thru what sounds like a massive computer server centre playing dancehall (Movements 2 + 4), to fiercely dense electro dynamics (Movements 6) and passages of purest, rolling techno pressure (Movements 8), intercut with bodiless, beatless electronic frequency massages.
Being familiar with each artist’s respective, individual catalogues, we’re pretty astonished at the level of democratic control between the three singular producers. While it’s maybe possible (or pedantic) to pick out who’s doing what, and where and when, ultimately the 45 minute performance is a lesson in subtlety and restraint at the service of generating powerful, coolly organised pressure systems, without recourse to convention/cliché (delete as applicable), offering electronic sounds at the purest and perhaps even egoless. Definitely no grandstanding doofus in front of a massive IPhone screen filtering dull as fuck doofs here.
Man-machine Edward Upton aka DMX Krew boomerangs back to Hypercolour with a strong collection of melancholy, bittersweet brain dance and electro themes, some of his deftest and concise material in an ever-sprawling catalogue
“Since releasing his last album on Hypercolour in February 2016 (‘You Exist’), DMX Krew has not for one moment rested on laurels, releasing two further LPs on the Ekster and Abstract Form labels, as well as EPs and singles for Central Processing Unit, Shipwrec, Revoke and more. Continuing to remain faithful to the roots of electro, IDM and the deeper shades of techno, and without compromise, DMX Krew cranks out emotive and brain scrambling electronica at a mighty rate, and never disappoints.
‘Strange Directions’ is album number 21 from DMX Krew, and lands once more on Hypercolour, the British label that continues to make heady waves in the music scene with genre shifting releases from the like of Matthew Herbert, Luke Vibert, Gary Gritness, The Cyclist, Outboxx and A Sagittariun in the last 12 months alone.
You’ll know what kind of ride you are in for from the first few bars of album opener ‘Snowy Blue’; hypnotizing bass and spatial keys float over dusty micro breaks, produced with an infectious aesthetic that continues over the long player’s fifty-five minute tenure.
Experimental and expansive joints such as ‘Odd Chill’ and ‘Strange Directions’ sit comfortably alongside funkier techno jams such as ‘Thin Hype’ and ‘Zero Sum’, whilst the melancholic synth sensibilities of tracks like ‘Hip Hopeless’ and ‘Axial Mode Beat’ catches DMX Krew on fine form.
Another fine set of highly polished and visionary electronic goodies from one of the scene’s most dedicated and consistent players.”
For the first time ever, Jamal Moss introduces his own vocals and reckless higher tempos to the slaying traxx of Acid Taken Over, a spanking heavy double pack of aces drawn from his Acid Attacks  tape release.
If you’re paying attention, the inclusion of vocals and jit or ghettobass-compatible speeds should be sounding the biggest sirens with anyone who’s followed Jamal’s output over the years, as they should well know he’s pretty much never touched either aspect previously in his work (or to the very best of our knowledge, and the knowledge of other committed Moss fans!). And, as they’re all cut at 45rpm, there’s myriad options for DJ permutations.
On the first disc he serves the absolute belter Acid Attacks, a sterling play on Phuture’s Acid Tracks, arriving some 30 years later loaded with Jamal’s own vox sampled and chopped, classic Chi-style, into a washing machine tumble of drum machine and 303 patterns with hypnotic intent and effect. More of this, pleeeeeze!
The rest of the set comes from the tape and features some of his strongest power jacks, bar none, from the wormholing dynamics of The Doors Of Perception to the warehouse bending chromatic warper, The Teachings of Don Juan before properly stepping on the gas for the free-glyding hyperspeed scud and scuzz of Crome Yellow, the brain-melting gliss of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and the gut-socking breakbeat/freestyle madness of The Perennial Philosophy.
If you think you’ve heard Jamal do it all before, you’d best think again!
Finnish/Turkish/german house boss Khan digs into his archive of ‘Lost Acid Tapes 92-96’ for his occasional label, I’m Single
Trust this one bangs, from the bendy acid kinks of ‘9 Volt Soul’; thru the lissom acid gliss of ‘Slow Stepper’; to the slippery AI/Detroit house of ‘Nylon Spacer’; a breezily swung beauty in ‘Mutama’; the sexy acid tribalism of ‘The T Dub’; and the darker lust of ‘Acid Lemon Bits’.
In case you had worries, this isn’t some half-cocked barrel scraping exercise, but real gems whose time has finally come.
Robin Buckley a.k.a. rkss reasembles mainstream EDM sample packs on the killer, unconventional ‘DJ Tools’ - the long awaited first album on Lee Gamble’s UIQ label following 12" releases from Lanark Artefax, Renick Bell, Sim Hutchins, Zuli and others. If you're into anything from Florian Hecker to Rian Treanor, Evol, Errorsmith, Theo Burt or Lorenzo Senni - this one’s a doozy!
Manipulating off-the-shelf sounds from ‘EDM Kicks Vol.1’ through various processing techniques, rkss explores the politics and aesthetics of club culture, technology and queerness by radically altering these preconceived, “purpose-built” blocks of sound from their original use, and rendering them in a spectrum of non-standard, ambiguous designs that both highlight, abstract, and reimagine the samples’ social function.
The result is nine hyper-colourful, unpredictable and uniquely engaging tracks that metaphorically connote queer dynamics, employing the user-oblivious potential of computer software to shape a form of dance music that insightfully reflects and celebrates rkss’ difference within the flux of today’s social spaces. In other words it’s a music very much of, and for, its times, crucially in step with current redefinitions of musical boundaries and identity politics.
In Robin's own words:
“DJ Tools was recorded at a turning point for me as an artist & person as I came into the aesthetic and social limitations I was finding in contemporary dance culture. I started to change how I thought about myself as an artist in terms of changing the way I created music, instead of writing the music at home and later arranging it for the club, I started writing music for live performance first. I wanted to be able to arrange these pieces/excerpts / sketches live. I was beginning to re-arrange how I thought about my gender / self and placing, exploring and finding the language to point to my sense of difference as a rans person. DJ Tools was where I began to formulate my own relationship to club culture as a mostly sober, transgender person, what version of club music did I want to engage with in that social space? Fluid, dynamic and reacting to audience. Highlighting the social. Sharing & connecting through my difference rather than erasing it.”
In ‘New Hymn To Freedom’ Luke Abbott, Laurence Pike and Jack Wylie follow their 3rd eye to iridescent uplands of jazz and psychedelic electronics...
“Sometimes in improvised music there can be a distance between listener and players, a sense you’re sitting back and admiring their interplay and abstraction – but with Szun Waves’ second album, you’re right in there with them, inside the playing, experiencing the absolute joy the three musicians feel as they circle around each other, exploring the spaces they’ve opened up.
The three members already have sparkling pedigrees of their own. Norfolk’s Luke Abbott is well known for his explorations of the zones between pure ambience and the leftmost fringes of club culture. With Portico Quartet and Circle Traps, Jack Wyllie has been in the vanguard of UK fusions of jazz, classical and club music. Australian drummer Laurence Pike has likewise found a unique voice in improvised and experimental music-making, whether in the bands Triosk or PVT, or as a solo artist.
The trio’s musical relationship has grown naturally and steadily, and it shows. From Wyllie adding shimmering sustained sax notes to Abbott’s gorgeous ambient pieces in 2013, Szun Waves emerged when Pike was added to the mix, energising the sound but still keeping its levitational qualities. Their 2016 self-released debut album hit a natural groove – it was a “proof of concept” as Abbott says – and now they’re in a place of pure spontaneity: New Hymn To Freedom is a document of six entirely live improvisations – “no edits or overdubs” – and its title couldn’t be more apt.”
The third album from KYO, the enigmatic product of Hannes Norrvide and Frederik Valentin's compact. For this record they have collaborated with American vocalist Jeuru, a recent recruit to the city of Copenhagen.
"KYO's previous records are breathtaking instrumental works, and they have steadily earned the group praise on their own terms. Having dreamt of a quiet future on their last album 'I Musik', Norrvide and Valentin went on to present KYO live. Though always able to express a wealth of emotion, their delicately rendered stillness has perhaps learnt something from the immediacy of presenting the work in this way. 'Vi Byder Sommeren Ind / Vi Tackar För Sommaren', their recent live cassette, captures this in their duet form. Collaborating with Jeuru takes this exploration a step further and into territory hitherto uncharted in previous recordings.
Jeuru's vocals stray from spoken word trysts to heartfelt cries and introspective sighs. Love's locks circle with each move and we ride along. The casually diaristic lyrics and the often conversational tone brings a very real immediacy into Norrvide and Valentin's world, gracefully illuminating its architecture and revealing the great forms all around. KYO's music always departed for freedom and arrived there promptly. Jeuru gives us a telescope, and with intimacy we explore.
The fine blend of electronics and acoustic instruments is carefully balanced on 'All The Same Dream'. Everything shimmers, turning us one way and then losing us the next, matching the vocals in a persistent sense of opportunity. Brilliantly pitched moments of abrasive electronics are a warm welcome, immersing us in a different time zone from that of the rhythmic pieces that lead us into a chilled metropolis.
It feels like we've been walking these streets forever, from club to club, from scene to scene, but there's never enough time to dream between destinations.”
Mogwai cast their best middle distance gaze on their soundtrack for Jonathan and Josh Baker’s ‘KIN’, starring Zoë Kravitz, Hames Franco and Dennis Quaid
“Scotland’s Mogwai are not only legendary experimental rock icons, but also well-established soundtrack titans – sound sculptors behind an impressive spectrum of cinematic releases (both full soundtracks and contributions): Including their last film soundtrack, Atomic (2016), there's been consistent acclaim through Michael Mann's Miami Vice (2006), The Fountain (2006, collaborating with Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet), Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2007), Amnesty International's PEACE project (2010), international hit French TV series Les Revenants (2013), and Leonardo DiCaprio's climate change documentary Before The Flood (2016) alongside soundtrack Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
The staggeringly prolific force that is Mogwai return less than a year after their standout new album, Every Country’s Sun, to provide the soundtrack to the anticipated, acclaimed new sci-fi major motion picture, KIN. Like their beloved soundtracks to Atomic and Les Revenants, KIN uses the band’s original score as the genesis and point of departure for an expanded, fully developed album of new songs. KIN is cinematic maximalism and synth-rock minimalism delivered with the signature introspective grace that has defined and refined Mogwai’s decades-long reputation.”
Latency catch the unique momentum of Japan’s Ena in his most prolific phase with Distillation following a string of uncompromising 12”s by Nuel, Kane Ikin and Andrea Belfi.
Yu Asaeda to his mum, Ena to you and I, has been steadily coursing his own path between the shared contours and patterns of techno, electronica and D&B minimalism for the likes of 7even Recordings, Samurai Horo and Hidden Hawaii since 2008.
With Distillation, he presents his purest reduction of his influences, liquifying the frameworks of the aforementioned established styles to find a viscous, dub wise pressure point that works more by inference and gesture than explicit generic conventions.
Each cut appears to exist in a flux of states, warming up with a non-newtonian dancer, Crossroads before working into a haze of gamelan-esque resonance and uniquely elliptical bassline drift in Waft, whilst Narrow pinches a distended sub roil into polymetric dub sludge, and Tendency rolls right off the bone in a melted sequence that sounds like quasi-speed flashcore meets hyper-minimal D&B.
Grupo Controle Digital give another charming taste of Brazilian ‘80s new wave with ‘A Festa É Nossa’ arriving in the wake of Soundway’s superb compilation; ‘Onda De Amor: Synthesised Brazilian Hits That Never Were (1984-94)’
While almost every other geographic area of this era has been nearly mined to exhaustion, Brazil’s evident wealth of music from that era has remained relatively untapped until Soundway kindly stepped in to convect their warm breezes beyond the South American market.
Grupo Controle Digital’s ‘A Festa É Nossa’ was a highlight of the aforementioned compilation, and now it’s available as part of the original album - available for the first time on digital formats. The fruity title track will leave juice on your chin, and depending your tolerance for pure, unadulterated late ‘80s cultures, this rest of the album will leave you dead sticky, or totally dry.
Personally, we fall on the sticky side, and its not hard to hear connections between this sound and the vibes on Soundway’s ‘Gumba Fire: Bubblegum Soul & Synth-Boogie in 1980s South Africa’, Jamaican digidancehall, Belgian new beat and lots of natty ‘80s UK dance-pop.
Sam O.B.’s soul, dissected by Armando Young, Photay, Jon Bap, K4cie, Che and more
Check for canny dancefloor highlights in Photay’s mesmerisingly vintage-sounding Chi-house/freestyle/garage refit of ‘Balance’; for Che’s John Maus or Ariel Pink-esque re-breeze of ‘Firefly’; and the ruggedly suave slap of K4cie’s remix of ‘Sirens’.
A second album from Japanese avant-garde / noise icon Keiji Haino in collaboration with free jazzers Konstrukt...
"Celebrating their 10th anniversary, Konstrukt have an impressive catalogue including collaborations / performances with significant musicians like Peter Brotzmann, Joe Mcphee, William Parker, Akira Sakata, Thurston Moore and many others - and they keep exploring new ground.
In 2016 Konstrukt invited Keiji Heino to their home town Istanbul for a recording session that resulted in a quite unique album: "A Philosophy Warping, Little By Little That Way Lies A Quagmire" - featuring all the elements you may well have expected but also offering some wild curveballs, including a kind of 70's fusion style on that album's closer.
Two days later the free jazz quartet and the Japanese avant-garde icon continued their adventure with a public performance at SalonIKSY, pushing things further and raising the level of energy and rawness. Carrying the same title ""A Philosophy Warping, Little By Little That Way Lies A Quagmire" makes this a sister release to their previous studio effort. Or, as the saying goes: "same same but different!"
Liquified new age ambient exotica, in Not Not Fun’s hallucinatory style
“In 2011 Charles Belpois and Baptiste Martin became roommates in Dijon, France and began making music, both together and alone. The solo projects they birthed – Magnétophonique and Les Halles, respectively – share a similarly introspective mood, vignettes of emotive, smeared ambience conjured from private communions with tape hiss, loop stations, and bleached keys. The label they founded, Carpi, issued many of their early recordings (typically in editions of less than 50) but ceased operations in 2015, with Belpois’ last release coming out on defunct Mexican imprint Dept Tapes the year before.
Une Cartographie Idéale collects 12 gems from the Magnétophonique catalog to map a nuanced portrait of his evocative mirage exotica, wavering between bliss and abandonment, paradise and prison. Isolation and island fantasy intermingle in bewitching delirium, the sound of waves and tropical birds refracted through heat-stroked haze while melting cassettes unspool refracted melodies into lost horizons. Escape is heaven – until it isn’t; in the artist’s words: “You’ll never belong here.””
Keen-eared documentarian Natalie presents a series of poignant, poetically abstracted sonic snapshots recorded on an iPhone 7, making up her deliciously drifting 2nd release for Chicago’s very watchable Lynn label
The 18 tracks were recorded in Kraków, New York City, and Stargard Szczeciński in Poland during 2017. They cover a remarkable range of textural, spatial and tonal environments in a way that constantly begs the question what are we actually listening to? - a sensation that we get more often than not with Lynn releases.
Of the 18 tracks only handful go over the 1 minute mark, rendering a rolling parade of sounds shorn of context beyond the track title and what’s playing. There’s the self-explanatory, charmingly punny ‘Beautiful Song In Deli’, along with gonzo snaps of a ‘Cellist’ doing their thing, and ‘Horseshoes on Cobblestone’ , all short pieces which keep the album fractured between the longer parts, such as the haunting air vent jazz of ‘Félicia For James’ and the crackling patter of raindrops on ‘In The Rain After Seeingvyku’, and perhaps our favourite, the nostalgic sound of a pencil on paper in, you guessed it, ‘Pencil’.
“Released the midst of ot. I'm in the office, I hide in the bathroom. Something to hold onto, quickly.”
Nick Höppner, former label manager at Ostgut Ton, mints his new label, Touch From A Distance, with the electroid breaks and wonky tech house of ‘Fast Life’ by Desert Sound Colony.
Hypnotically druggy and effortlessly grooving, it’s exactly the kind of kit you’d expect to hear in an extended Höppner set, roving from the pie-eyed swang of ‘Fast Life’ and the wobbly strut of ‘Somehow I Talk’ to the pitch-bent disco-tech wonk of ’Glixen’ feat. Baby, and the straighter ‘Rollen’ on the back.
Smoked-out, heavy-lidded loops and grooves from Joe Herrick, weaving between Jan Jelinek-styled ersatz ambient and sawn-off boogie slink, with a number of odd eldritch detours
As the title implies, ’Dream Reading’ is a trippy suite of roving offbeats riddled with a strongly oneiric appeal. The 14 tracks are all selected from some five years worth of work, and render a multi-dimensional mosaic of ideas, tiling half-cut nods to new age ambient, Hypnagogic pop and screwed hip hop into a mercurial portrait of the artist’s inner soundscape.
In the album’s most convincingly dreamlike moments, the eyrie ‘Hamzanama’ reminds of Mike Rutledge’s low key classic ‘Riddles of the Sphinx’, and the damp murk of ’Sharrow Night’ recalls DJ Yo-Yo Dieting at his most smudged, but half the fun of this side is the unpredictable track sequencing, which takes an oblique, mazy route to its elusive and playfully surprising conclusions.
Crafty remixes of Sonae’s melancholy hauntology from Electric Indigo, Lucretia Dalt, La Leif and Natalie Beridze of the extended Monika Enterprises family
Arriving in the wake of her excellent debut album, Electric Indigo remixes ‘Majority Vote’ as a lolling, fragile yet driving piece of electro-acoustic techno. Lucretia Dalt also follows her significant new album with a typically low key and quietly unsettling, off centre abstraction of ‘Rust’, while London/Brighton’s La Leif tentatively reframes ‘White Trash Rouge Noir’ with a sparse, pent and druggy energy, and Georgia’s Natalie Beridze balances decaying, ghostly rhythms with filigree processed piano keys and daubs of optimistic synth pads on the EP’s biggest highlight.
Hauntingly beautiful nocturnes from Keith Kenniff (Goldmund) in Helios mode. Modest yet rich with moments of heart-rending majesty, ‘Veriditas’ is yet another immaculate late night LP worthy of comparison with Kenniff’s earlier releases for Type.
“On respective edges of America — Oregon and Maine — Keith Kenniff records quiet music at night. “When things are calmer,” he says. “My mind is less distracted when I know that everything is dark outside.” For over a decade, such has been the mode — nocturnal, unrushed, using the same mini-cassette recorder, "a lovely little imperfect way to treat sounds" — for one of the country’s most understated composers. Kenniff has housed dozens of ambient releases under the name Helios since 2004, alongside post-classical output as Goldmund, shoegaze pop with his wife Hollie as Mint Julep, and commissions for film and television. It is a reliably transportive body of work that's earned Kenniff a cult following, and a genuine modesty that’s kept him on the fringes, right where he prefers, in the dark.
Veriditas introduces unusual shapes and landscapes to the Helios catalog. Whereas past songs have followed traditional structures — discernable bell curves with beginnings, arcs, and ends — the focus here is texture and harmony. "I wanted to explore emotionality within something more static." Synth-tones radiate and hum as vignettes, often crisp and cloudless, other times smeared to a queasy Boards of Canada-like unease. The latter burbles below the last moments of "Eventually" and looms over the opener "Seeming" like darkness inching across a forest. Tracks cease at will. "Seeming" fades just after a sliver of light cuts through the mossy pillars. "Latest Lost" mists for just one minute. "Row The Tide" for two, hovering like a helium balloon lost to the horizon. "Even Today" hangs above the snowcaps, suspended in an upper arboreal sequence, as shimmering surges of static trace the treetops below.
Moments on Veriditas pass quickly, but as a series of moments, they are fluid, almost regenerative. Disassembling the album by instruments is difficult. Unlike past Helios work, there is no percussion. The one straightforward use of guitar appears on the ambling "Upward Beside The Gale," strummed solemnly as if over end credits, watching the greenery lapse to grey in the twilight. In the second half of “Dreams,” crystalline piano chords converse with washes of orchestral notes and deep drone, advancing towards temporal clarity, a lookout point, that once presented evaporates.
In a way, Veriditas parallels the path of the Helios project to date: patient, immense, and wondrous without ostentation. Kenniff continues to find a soothing and centering quality in his craft. Aligned with Hildegard von Bingen’s philosophy, Kenniff looks towards sound, like many do to nature, for momentary vigor, for elemental and nourishing prolificacy. Here, in pursuit of viriditas, with precise textures and harmonies, he humbly extends that verdant expression outward, wide and pliable.”
Unique rhythm trips from pivotal Berlin player, Burnt Friedmann, following the vectors of his Masque / Penuche 12” for Risqué onto the Paris-based Latency label with six cuts hovering between the dance and bedroom ‘floors.
These tracks feel more smudged and ruffer ‘round the edges than the majority of his output to date for Nonplace, seeking out textured electronic noise and delivering some of the sharpest, technoid drum patterns in his entire catalogue.
We’re not too sure what the dates in the titles refer to - one might assume they’re newly finished sketches started in that year, but we’re really not sure. They start out fuzzy and jazz-wise with he gauzy dollop of 2011 Monkhide, and tentatively find firmer shape with the asymmetric dub fractions and keening neo-classical motifs of 2010 The Pestle, before spinning off the razor-clipped 2-step mechanics of 1999 Nerfs D’Acier, which ends up at something like a 2.1 step.
The biggest highlight, however, is 1996 Intrication, a spellbinding display of whirring trills diffused with mercurial FX and worth the admission alone for the DJs, while the more chiming, tender ambient and drone structures of 1994 Sorcier and 1993 Day In Rho certainly justify our theory about the dates.
No doubt the best we’ve heard from this artist in some time. Tip!
Goldie marks 25 years as the don of UK jungle with a collection of remastered alternate versions and rarities under his Goldie and Rufige Kru aliases, and as part of Internal Affairs
Check for the tuff as nails Rider’s Shadow (VIP Mix) and the floating pressure of his Hornet 127, produced with Dego and only previously available on CD.
Sublime electro-acoustic enigmas from Giuseppe Ielasi and Nicola Ratti’s Bellows, recombining their subtle sensitivities a few years on from the Rustl charm for our Boomkat Editions and a handful of acclaimed, respective solo excursions during the interim. Like Latency’s incredible recent dispatch from Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, the unmissable Kulthan, wager that this one will be on our spindle for some time to come.
Recorded by the duo over the course of days in Milan during February, 2016, the five tracks capture Ielasi and Ratti in their element, improvising with an expanded palette of hardware to coax their wonderfully nuanced small sounds into diaphanous but densely layered sonic ecologies of humus-like subbass-shifts, dancing dust particles and alternating atmospheric humidity.
There’s a more refined sense of poise and composure to Sander than the rugged, grubbing oddities of Rustl back in 2015, still maintaining the sense of daydreamy abstraction but, with totally compelling melodic developments in the opening part’s airborne strings and rising subbass percolations, whilst the 2nd part teeters Gas-like cloud structures and whiffs of wistful melodica on a plunging, plangent and steady dub bass that’s former, more pronounced that we’ve previously heard from them.
B-side, they again establish unique dimensions with starkly hollowed drone and slow staggering, reverberant dub pulses leading into the arid and quietly breathtaking waves of chords radiating into distant ether, before closing with what sounds like a melting digital clock in the final strokes.
A must for fans of the quiet things in life…
Marks expands his brooding blue grime sound over a full solo debut album with South London’s Coyote Records
Falling loosely between grime, dubstep, drill, D&B and cloud rap tropes, ‘Crush’ works a personalised angle of melodic instrumental expression with smart highlights in the tense drill of ‘Bikini Blonde’ and the smoked-out pressures of ‘POP’ and ‘Ghost’.