More absolutely killer minimalism from the undisputed master of the genre - Mika Vainio.
Kolmio is a masterclass in pristine minimalism that sounds like a pre-cursor not only to the precise tone arrangements of Alva.Noto but also to the bleep-driven reduced Techno of Hawtin, Sleeparchive et al.
Perhaps the most important contemporary torch carrier for cold wave pop, Martial Cantarel yields his strongest work to date with ‘Lost At Sea’; a richly evocative collection of songs and instrumentals that doesn’t shy away from up-to-date sounds, but uses them inventively and nimbly at the service of the ‘floor and with an ear-snagging sharpness when consumed on headphones.
“Since composer Sean McBride unveiled his first utterance as Martial Canterel almost 2 decades ago, he has produced a body of work both substantial and alluring within the field of live analogue electronic music. Effortlessly fusing a variety of styles and influences, Martial Canterel is one of the premiere outfits utilizing analogue electronics and modular synthesizers. In particular FM synthesis is employed to produce clustered polyphonies and organic atmospheres - a staple of his signature style.
Three years have passed since Martial Canterel’s last full length album Gyors, Lassù was released on Dais Records. During this down time, McBride found himself in a state of flux, ebbing back and forth between material displacement and musical aestheticism. His expert pedigree in electronic sound and arrangement bridges the gap created by an undecidability between life at home and abroad - his new album, Lost At Sea, is an attempt for the artist to locate common ground, mutating fable with reality, exteriority and interiority.
The album's introductory track, Giving Up, has all of the hallmarks that Martial Canterel has utilized in the past…melodic chorus, upbeat rhythm and classic sequential dynamism. Where the song diverges is in its core theme of nature: nature’s return to a period of restoration after the failures and recklessness of humankind. Although this first glance refamiliarizes one with the tight, upbeat appeal typically found within the genre, Lost at Sea quickly takes a more serious and sobering tone.
The slower pace of songs like Scampia and Puszta yearn for McBride’s complex love affair with far flung destinations. Re-evaluating the political strife and social unrest in these historical locations, McBride delves deeper into political and geological reference points creating symbolic representations using mechanized percussion, white noise and various sine waves.
The conceptual nature of Lost at Sea reaches even deeper depths within the waveforms of Astralize, a track based upon academic Donna Haraway’s pre-civilized theories of human neglect after the ‘azstralization’.”
Post Punk/New Wave survivor Laurent Prot a.k.a. In Aeternam Vale embraces a world of atonality and technoid impulses on Pink Flamingo, following from his Live at Berlin Atonal 2014 tape
“In Æternam Vale, long the best-kept secret of the french synth punk scene, has been revealed many times now.
This is about writing a new chapter of that 33+ years story, that begun in Lyon in 1983 as a band, whose leader Laurent Prot - an electronics pioneer and maniac - took over as a solo act since 1985. This new album (3xLP gatefold actually) explores another side of ‘IAV’, that echoes how Laurent sounds now - a ferocious take on techno, post-punk rhythmic elements and drone soundscapes, planted with unrestrained improvisation, and getting closure with a song time after time.
Ever building upon the everlasting influences of his first years : PIL’s punk sarcastic freedom, Suicide’s sexual rumble, Yello’s eerie dance moves, Kraftwerk’s accuracy, and Coil’s or Throbbing Gristle’s sense of transcendence and transgression, In Æternam Vale was never on hold for all those years. He has been relentlessly exploring all the spaces of freedom that electronic music has offered. To emphasize on how far he’s been going, we’ve put this album narration together, with intimacy, length, and space ; whenever the music had been made and how.
How this album was put together has a lot to say about how music is made in the In Æternam Vale universe…”
Punishing Brummie techno drills from midlander J-T Kyrke
Pulling no punches with the pounding kicks and acid graffiti of Caustic, a slicker Detroit-style ride in Kalabos, and rugged AF body-hoyinmg technique on Sinister Presence.
This Gottfried Michel Koenig collection is a definitive document of his pioneering innovations in electro-acoustic composition: spanning his Zwei Klavierstücke  and other works created at the WDR, Cologne; thru his years at the Utrecht Institute For Sonology, and right up to his 60 Blätter for Streichtrio . If you’re into anything from Roland Kayn to Dave NYZ, Ligeti, Haswell or Æ, Koenig’s oeuvre is essential listening!
A key mind in the realisation and theoretical underpinnings of electro-acoustic music, Koenig came thru the Darmstadt summer schools as a student, and later a lecturer, where he met Stockhausen, Kagel, Evangelisti, and Ligeti, whom he would later assist at the famous WDR (Westdeutschen Rundfunk) studio in Cologne - where he also worked in the radio drama department, before moving to Utrecht as director and chair of the Institute of Sonology during its most fecund period until 1986.
The work he assisted on or created himself during this period was crucial to the development of electro-acoustic and computer music paradigms, and since the ‘60s he’s placed ever greater focus on realising a form of computer composition - both writing programs that generate unique scores for instrumentalists to play, and recordings of pure computer music.
For us, and we’ll safely assume many others, it’s the latter part of Koenig’s catalogue - the purely electronic works - that demand attention. Utterly raw, complex and alien, Koenig’s pieces such as Terminus X , and the colour-coded Funktion series from the same era, are some of the most captivating, visceral recordings of electronic music that we’ve ever heard, presenting sounds at their very most abstract, and with no concession to replicating instrumental timbres and dynamics.
We highly recommend getting to grips with the works in this collection, which is pretty much the only place you’ll find a reliable high quality versions of each piece.
Burial’s eponymous debut LP is a defining beacon of post-millenium dance and electronic music. Written between 2001-2006, the follow-up to his debut 12” South London Boroughs, further consolidated what were previously mutually exclusive strains of music with unprecedented guile, vision and emotive impact, done to mind-blowing and award-winning effect.
In 2016 it’s easy for folk to forget that prior to this album, aside from a select handful of producers such as Horsepower Productions, El-B or Kode 9, effectively nobody was writing tracks circa 138bpm and using this kind of palette of samples, textures and spaces to the same ends as Will Bevan, a.k.a. Burial. And still, even fewer of them were writing without the dancefloor or radio squarely in mind.
Enter Burial, whose impressionistic, unquantized soundscapes reset the neuroses of Teebee and Bad Company’s neo-D&B with a romance and swing better associated with Steve Gurley and El-B, whilst also listening to and channelling the atmosphere of his environment in a way better likened to the spaces explored by Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound, but animated like a Massive Attack album produced and collaged by Chris Watson; albeit a Watson raised in suburban British sprawl and smoky bedrooms playing tense computer games and watching classic anime and thrillers on VHS, or whatever obscure foreign flicks Channel 4 had on late at night.
Honestly, nowadays that period seems eons away - especially in light of streaming services where you can find thee most obscure art at the touch of keyboard - but back on original release, this record nailed an atmosphere, even a lifestyle, that was lived by many souls on the peripheries who couldn’t be arsed with the menu offered by provincial high street clubs or cable TV, or a culture artificially inflated by major labels and the media.
It almost feels daft and futile trying to explain this to anyone under the age of 30 - or those cold hearted cynics who roll their eyes at the mere mention of his name - but, quite honestly Burial’s music nailed the vibe so heavily that it felt like déjà vu, uncannily weaving together the disparate strands of culture that meant so much to the artist, and by turns, us the listeners.
There are still tonnes of naysayers, but fuck ‘em - Burial’s music is hugely danceable and mixable by the right DJs, but there’s no denying that it probably sounds best in bedrooms or headphones where you can give it your full attention, or vice versa.
Despite the temporal dislocation, the 2007 smoking ban, and the sign-posted, rictus rigidity of too much modern dance music, we’d still love to think there’s a whole new generation out there who will get and love this record as hard as we did, and do.
Beatrice Dillon & Call Super toy with the dance in two supple, slinky riddims in a killer collaborative push ’n pull for Hessle Audio.
With both producers really coming into their own over the last few years, Beatrice with an acclaimed run of 12” and LP issues for our 12X12 series, The Trilogy Tapes and Alien Jams, and Call Super for Dekmantel and Houndstooth, these two new collaborations firm up the strongest dance moves in either artist’s catalogue.
Inkjet is a proper UK-meets-Berlin gem lodged somewhere in the system between T++’s dynamic steppers and the kind of grubbing grooves explored by Batu and the Timedance lot, persistently mutating with a darkside dancehall-techno science that recalls a synaesthetic analog of PKDick’s scramble suits.
In sweet contrast, Fluo works with a more tempered sort of deep garage swing, dialling in hovering jazz chords on the nimble first half before unexpectedly switching into a rolling tribal house groove with cascading bleeps and lovely resolution.
On his 7th studio LP, Nils Frahm shows off the results of recording in his new, bespoke studio, based in the legendary Funkhaus on the bank of the Spree in East Berlin. Frahm’s signature, melancholic solo piano works share space with runs into 4th World soundscaping, illusive rhythms played on organs-as-drum machines, and gingerly crafted posh tech house minimalism.
“Since the day Nils first encountered the impressive studio of a family friend, he had envisioned to create one of his own at such a large scale. Fast forward to the present day and Nils is now the proud host of Saal 3, part of the historical 1950s East German Funkhaus building beside the River Spree. It is here where he has spent most of his time deconstructing and reconstructing the entire space from the cabling and electricity to the woodwork, before moving on to the finer elements; building a pipe organ and creating a mixing desk all from scratch with the help of his friends. This is somewhere music can be nurtured and not neglected, and where he can somewhat fulfil his pursuit of presenting music to the world as close to his imagination as possible.
His previous albums have often been accompanied with a story, such as Felt (2011) where he placed felt upon the hammers of the piano out of courtesy to his neighbours when recording late at night in his old bedroom studio, and the following album Screws (2012) when injuring his thumb forced him to play with only nine fingers. His new album is born out of the freedom that his new environment provided, allowing Nils to explore without any restrictions and to keep it All about the Melody.
Despite being confined within the majestic four walls of the Funkhaus, buried deep in its reverb chambers, or in an old dry well in Mallorca, All Melody is, in fact, proof that music is limitless, timeless, and reflects that of Nils’ own capabilities. From a boy’s dream to resetting the parameters of music itself.
Words from Nils, October 2017:
“In the process of completion, any album not only reveals what it has become but, maybe more importantly, what it hasn’t become. All Melody was imagined to be so many things over time and it has been a whole lot, but never exactly what I planned it to be. I wanted to hear beautiful drums, drums I’ve never seen or heard before, accompanied by human voices, girls, and boys. They would sing a song from this very world and it would sound like it was from a different space. I heard a synthesiser which sounds like a harmonium playing the All Melody, melting together with a line of a harmonium sounding like a synthesiser. My pipe organ would turn into a drum machine, while my drum machine would sound like an orchestra of breathy flutes. I would turn my piano into my very voice, and any voice into a ringing string. The music I hear inside me will never end up on a record, as it seems I can only play it for myself. This record includes what I think sticks out and describes my recent musical discoveries in the best possible way I could imagine.”
Peter Zummo and Arthur Russell work on, off and around the beat in this previously unreleased suite of spontaneous compositions written in 1984, c. the sessions for ‘Zummo With an X’. They’re loose and breezy with all the charm you’d expect from the vital downtown composers...
“A few years ago , American composer and trombonist Peter Zummo discovered a 1984 recording of unreleased material from his Six Songs suite in his archive. Six Songs was the basis for Lateral pass , his award winning score for modern-dance choreographer Trisha Brown’s work of the same name. Material taken from Six Songs can also be heard on his seminal Zummo WIth An X (Loris Bend, 1985/Optimo 2012).
The work is now being released as this new album, r ecorded live and in single takes, it features a stellar line-up of longtime Zummo collaborators: Arthur Russell on amplified cello, Bill Tuyle on marimba, and Mustafa Ahmed on congas. Zummo plays trombone and euphonium. He describes the recording as ‘an exercise in spontaneous arrangement’. He mainly hews close to the score, while from time to time introducing canonic lines and variations.
Arthur Russell, using his signature amplified cello sound, alternates between solos and rhythm playing, while Ruyle vamps on the notation, while Mustafa Ahmed’s improvised percussion drives the forward momentum. Sometimes the music takes its time traversing a sonic landscape; at other points, it jumps from one section to another . Players’ decisions push and pull the downbeat ; rounds emerge, then disappear...”
For their VIP 100th release, Tectonic present the first record with a particularly hungry-sounding Riko Dan’s at the top, featuring the Roll Deep lynchpin - Pinch’s favourite MC - riding ruffshod over killah riddims by Mumdance, Joker, Walton, and Ziro.
It’s a momentous way to mark some 13 years and 100 releases from the UK’s most persistent bass pushers, cannily looping the label back to its roots in the schism between dark garage and grime which birthed dubstep, only for them to push the prism again between Joker’s distorted bashment ting Hard Food, an aggy AF ruction called Vibration produced by Pinch, and the hyperreal pressure systems of Mumdance’s backdrop to Hungry, with Ziro pushing him into deep forward trap vortices and Walton attacking Mumdance and Pinch’s Big Slug ace from a few years back.
Seun Kuti stokes his father’s fierce Afrobeat spirit for a new century alongside the OG Egypt 80 ahn-sahm-buhl and guest appearance by Carlos Santana. DJs need to run check ‘Struggle Sounds’ and the swingeing zinger ‘Corporate Public Control Department (C.P.C.D.)’
“Strut presents the new album from the modern day leader of Afrobeat, Seun Kuti. The youngest son of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti is as incensed by injustice as his father ever was and, with his mighty new album Black Times including features from Carlos Santana and Robert Glasper, he honours the revolutionaries who have gone before and rallies the torch-bearers to come.
Black Times is the fourth album by Seun and Egypt 80, the extraordinary dance orchestra created by Fela Kuti as a conduit for the common people. Inherited by the 14-year- old Seun in 1997, the younger Kuti has been building to this, his most accomplished and honest album yet. “Black Times is a true reflection of my political and social beliefs,” says the singer, bandleader and musician, 34. “It is an album for anybody who believes in change and understands the duty we have to rise up and come together. The elites always try to divide the working class and the poor people of the world. The same oppression felt by workers in Flint, Michigan is felt by workers in Lagos and Johannesburg.”
Here, then, are tracks designed to spark conversation and realign priorities. The elegant ‘African Dreams’ insists that commercial success counts for little. Pay no heed to examples set by “accepted” African-American celebrities, says Kuti, and marvel instead at the philosophies of such great thinkers as the late Pan-Africanist Doctor Amos Wilson. “The message,” Kuti sings, “is free.” ‘Black Times’, with its rousing male and female harmonies, furious guitar riffs and Kuti’s soaring tenor sax, gives us truth. Lyrics such as “Understand your history / rise to be free” shine a forensics-style black light on that which is otherwise hidden, intensified by the axe-work of Carlos Santana. ‘Bad Man Lighter’ is a horn-heavy track calling out duplicity and defending the right to smoke the good weed; the politically charged ‘Corporate Public Control Department (C.P.C.D)’ is a roiling protest anthem directed at Muhammadu Bahari’s Nigerian government and indeed, at deceitful politicians the world over. Co-written with veteran Egypt 80 saxophonist Abedimeji ‘Showboy’ Fagbemi, the frenetic, finger-pointing ‘Kuku Kee Me’ borrows from a Nigerian saying (“When someone is always on your case, you’re like ‘Save yourself the stress and kuku kill me now’”) while ‘Theory Of Goat And Yam’ ridicules a homily invented by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, who justified corruption by likening politicians to goats tempted by yams: “By taking money meant for a hospital or to build roads, they are actually costing human lives.” ‘Last Revolutionary’ featuring Robert Glasper’s keys is a paean to authentic leaders past, present and future, name-checking homegrown African heroes, revolutionaries and freedom fighters like Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara and Patrice Lumumba. “I say the names of these men who died for us without any promise of resurrection,” says Seun Kuti. “Maybe it will cause a young man or woman to wonder who they are. Maybe they will Google them, then set out on a journey whose destination is unknown.”
“We are all capable of change, us iron people, us workers. Black Times is the sound of the people, and a weapon of the future. The big picture needs more colour.”
Finally - Diagonal pull out a zinging art-techno curveball with the 2nd release from Glasgow’s hottest new prospect and Golden Teacher splinter cell The Modern Institute; an iconoclastic trio of agitators that have made one of the freshest and most vital blends of post-punk, art-school and techno sensibilities to emerge in recent memory.
Aimed as a snark at the middle class art gaze as much as a slippery engine for the ‘floor, Another Exhibition at the Modern Institute reels six mercurial fusions of scudding, techy rhythms and sheer electronic contours strewn with drily observant vocals describing hypersensual scenarios. It’s a sound perhaps purposefully located lightyears away from Golden Teacher’s charming retro-vintage styles, and effectively gives that group’s rhythmic engine of McMaster and Pitt a space to express their more contemporary concerns.
Forming the 2nd blow of a Glasgow-centred 1-2 after Russell Haswell and Sue Tompkins’ Respondent EP, The Modern Institute swarm in formation from a white-hot electro-stepper IV Cheeks to somewhere darker, almost paranoid by the close of Dozen Cocktails, taking in a sound like Errorsmith producing for MES in Limitless Light, or Hecker doing footwork on the new beta anthem Quicksilver Lips, whilst Unbreakable Pulse and the pinging ballistics of Molton Gold short circuit the deep rooted transatlantic connection between Glasgow art punks’ afterparties and Detroit ghetto styles with a deadly swagger.
It’s a must-have for fans of Chris Carter, DJ Stingray, Toresch, Dale Cornish, Cabaret Voltaire and, of course, Golden Teacher.
Brighton’s Zak Brashill aka Etch diversifies and fine tunes his breakbeat sound on Altered Roads Vol.1 following celebrated shots for Parris’s Soundman Chronicles, Keysound and others over the last 5 years.
Starting with the ambient bardo of When The Soul Departs The Body, he withdraws his sword (say it like RZA, sounds better) for the skillful parries and gut jabbing subs in Lore Of Samurai, then lets loose proper with the Photek and Source Direct-inspired technique of Flamingo Grove, and tightens up on a Wu Tang-meets-dubstep tip with Defunct Logic.
Alongside soundtrack composer Francesco Fantini, Lorenzo Senni makes a naturally graceful move to orchestral composition with their plush soundtrack to Yuri Ancarani’s The Challenge, a film which Warp describe as “an anthropological documentary observing the curious hobbies of rich in the desert.”
Set to images of people bezzing around the desert in Lambo’s with leopards in the passenger seat and hawks in their private jets, the soundtrack fits these scenes and themes with a suitably opulent sound full of sweeping strings and elegant woodwind describing motion and flight.
It’s really no stretch to draw a line between the flouncing weightless dynamics of Lorenzo’s pointillisticT trance deconstructions and the four pieces in The Challenge. They may be much plusher, and with a different purpose, but there’s a striking symbiosis between the way his early work strove for a balletic freedom of dance music, and the classicist discipline of expression, a fleeting play of emotion and lightness of touch, in Senni’s newly chosen form.
Mandon/Lonchester’s Gang Fatale prove they’re not just club kids with Portal; a lusher, downtempo group showing mainly produced by Basile3, Sierre and TD_Nasty, but also featuring Neana, Riz Fresco and Kieran Loftus up in it.
Touching down in the wake of important releases from the Gang, including Clara La San’s début mixtape Good Mourning and Neana’s fully fledged solo flight for Night Slugs, Portal scopes their collective sound from wider, horizontally inclined and introspective angles.
It’s framed as their attempt to parse and reflect “The introspective processes that humans go through every day; from making simple routine decisions, absorbing the actions of people close to us, dealing with grief and the consequences of our own choices”, and does so thru a palette of soft boogie yacht rock licks, ambient pads and R&B licks shorn from the ‘floor and left to marinate in mid-air.
Some of it sounds like early ‘00s electronica a la CCO or Type, while other parts are compatible with your weightless grime collection and the charms of Mr. Mitch’s Gobstopper label.
The medieval gloom is strong on this one
Featuring nine parts dungeon synth and shackle-jangle percussion from Morelocke to three parts dark ambient by Italy’s SA Bruxa. Fans of Croww, Young Druid, the Diablo soundtrack, and not leaving your room for days on end, all need apply.
Following up from Finders Keepers’ reissue of “In Alpha Mood” back in 2015, sister label Dead-Cert (run in collaboration with Demdike Stare) finally give life to these restored, previously unheard archival recordings of harmonisation of biofeedback techniques and hypnotic synth sonics from Ami Shavit. Part outsider electronic album; part physiological experiment; part work of art; this is not your average new age record…
With an enviable private collection of synthesisers amassed during his travels to the US in the early 1970’s and shipped home to Tel Aviv (where he was an established kinetic artist, as well as a professor of both philosophy and Art) Ami’s main focus was the desire to combine his love of electronic music acts such as Tangerine Dream, Philip Glass and new synthesiser technology, with his interest in the relatively new technique of biofeedback - a process in which technology was used to relay information about the body’s functions in order to enable a change of physiological activity.
Combined with his understanding of alpha brainwaves (primarily attributed to a function of the brain that deals with relaxation), Ami embarked on an experiment with what he called 'Alpha Mood' - a state in which the brain works in relaxation and in which music is used as a means of helping induce its own meditative state.
The fruit of that experimentation came in the form of a single privately pressed LP aptly titled In Alpha Mood which was limited to only 500 copies and distributed exclusively by a longtime friend, agent and owner of a small local record shop in Tel Aviv. Five 1/4 inch tapes (including the In Alpha Mood master tape) represent the only remaining artefacts of Ami’s experiments - the rest having been either lost, given to friends or simply thrown away.
Undated and unannotated, these raw studio recordings proivde a rare glimpse of Ami at work in his attempts to perfect his technique and reach the plane of Alpha Mood. The A-side’s Neural Oscillations sounds like Tangerine Dream on a magic carpet flight, but the LP really comes into its own on the B-side with the much slower meter and raga-esque phrasing of Alpha Rhythms 1, and most particularly in Alpha Rhythms 2 where Shavit chills out on the distracting top lines to focus on a wide, spongy, sluggish bass tone and icy melody with a transfixing appeal recalling Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe’s contemporary practice.
Moon Gangs, Cuts and John Cummings remix John Matthias & Jay Auborn’s balletic neb-classical-jazz piece Pretoria
In their on image, resulting a more windswept sense of drama from Beak>’s Will Young as Moon Gangs, and a tense, slow chugger from erstwhile Mogwai guy, John Cummings.
He may be a bit young for a Greatest Hits set, but that ain’t stopping Night Slugs, who’ve pulled together a stack of previously unreleased club constructions by USA’s Beau Thigpen a.k.a. DJ Vague a.k.a. Helix.
Built with dark, sweaty spaces clearly in mind, Helix’s Greatest Hits distill cues from a spectrum of modern club pressures into a forward moving and mutable style of his own.
The singular Richard Young gives up some of his most accessible gear in memory with Belief for Tim Burgess and co’s O Genesis label. While often regarded an acquired taste, Youngs’ music this time is almost conventional and likely more appealing to a much broader set of ears
“Youngs recorded the album in his hometown, Glasgow, as a cycle of chamber songs, a 21st century update of the solo album – one musician playing all the instruments in a small one-room set up. The album itself began with Youngs collecting his own percussion samples: from handclaps, a battered old cymbal, an extractor fan vent, FM radio interference, cassette hiss and a kick from “a disastrously ‘80s sounding drum machine”. These were then used to programme beats, played back at randomly determined tempos in durations mapped to randomly chosen major label songs.
The original plan was to send Belief out to the ‘major’ labels and collect the rejection letters as an art project. But, as soon as the album had been mixed, Daniel O’Sullivan (Grumbling Fur, This Is Not This Heat) played the songs to Tim Burgess and before the mail art project could take off, Belief became Richard’s debut for Tim Burgess’ O Genesis Recordings label.
Tim Burgess: “Richard’s album came to me via his friend Daniel O’Sullivan. He gave me some of Richard’s songs and they completely bowled me over. I immediately asked if O Genesis could release it and he put me in touch with Richard. Belief is sublime gnostic pop and is the soundtrack to why I wanted to be able to release albums on our label. O Genesis had recently released Daniel’s record (VELD) and it’s always difficult to know what an artist thinks of our label - they might just be being polite when they say good things. If someone recommends a friend or a band that is dear to them, then that is a perfect sign for me.”
Richard Youngs has released around 140 albums and his collaborations include Makoto Kawabata (Acid Mothers Temple), Jandek, Oren Ambarchi, Alasdair Roberts, Alastair Galbraith and Heatsick. Prolific, multi-genre and impossible to categorise, Stewart Lee has said of him: “Imagine Richard Youngs as the junior member of a cabal of prolific and puritanical English musician-mystics, including The Fall’s Mark E Smith, Van der Graaf Generator’s Peter Hammill, Martin Carthy and The Clangers’ composer Vernon Elliot, and still his nature will elude you.”
Breezing in the wake of Young Echo’s massive 2nd LP, Amos Childs (Jabu) and Sam Barrett (Neek, Gorgon Sound) meet Rider Shafique on a dancehall tip for LAVALAVA
Following their ace Mosca 7” and 12” by Alter Echo & E3. Bosslad Ossia brings up the rear with a spooked out Version evaporating Shafique into the ether, save for some spectral phrases perfusing the vast negative space.
Rafael Anton Irisarri's latest work was conceived as a sort of soundtrack to the "Midnight Clock or Doomsday Clock" — a symbol which represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. Recorded in 2017, when the Clock was at 2½ minutes-to-midnight (the second-closest to midnight since the Clock’s start in 1947), Midnight Colours permeates with the melancholy of memories resurfacing as you get close to the end of life: the regret, the closure, the uncertainty, the anxiety, and so on.
"The result is perhaps Irisarri's most moving and introspective work to date, unfurling a sort of epiphany symphony and sounding like a sunrise in slow motion. Irisarri experimented with the use of heavily "degraded" tape, played through a mis-aligned Otari 8-track tape machine that was constantly on the fritz. "I felt using tape gave the music a particular texture & character, like when you watch old news reels from the 1950's, you know those that talk about the H-bomb, and how we are all doomed," he explains.
Opening suite "The Clock" and "Falling Curtain" offer an elegiac dirge into the unknown, soldering on with humanity but pessimistic reality. "Oh Paris, We Are Fucked" retreats into a blur of mournful curiosity, while "Circuits" brings a glimmer of tragic hope. "Every Scene Fades" is brimming with eerie beauty and a distant, heaving rhythm that perfectly contrasts the morbid optimism of "Two and a Half Minutes." "Drifting" and "A Ruptured Tranquility" bring a soberingly sense of reality, closing out Midnight Colours harrowing narrative."
Pangaea goes in with ’92-style ‘ardcore pressure on Bone Sucka, plus a stripe of pumping Belgian techno-meets-UK bleep in Proxy, unleashing two of the strongest cuts on Hessle Audio in years.
The ruffkut and deviant breakbeats of Bone Sucka instantly recalls the rolige of one of our favourite Panagea cuts - Inna Mind  - but the filigree mixing trickery and layered sound design defines the distance his productions have come since that relatively early strike.
Proxy on the other hand metes out a tufted jack working somewhere between the muscularity of early Belgian techno and the hypnotic pressure of SoYo bleep bouncers, but with an up-to-date, mid-fi gaze that will draw you deep in during the late hours.
Who Are You is a new collection of free form, free flowing music from E Ruscha V.
"A wandering, wondrous search for identity rendered in brilliant musical shapes and forms, Who Are You resides in the transitional realm between calm and ecstasy. A meaningful moment along an artist’s transcendent path of self-discovery, and meaningful music to those who identify with a conscious universe.
Who Are You is the first full-length release by Eddie Ruscha under his given name since donning the Secret Circuit guise in 2010 to administer an electronic antidote to the psychedelic / shoegaze dirge that dominated his formative music-making. Between Secret Circuit’s two 12” EPs and a colossal full length, Tactile Galactics, on Beats In Space in 2013 and now, Ruscha has remained wildly prolific producing unfathomable four on-the-floor formulas for the best and brightest labels outside of Space. The Secret Circuit hiatus suggests a return to self and an unmasked, untethered musical language, an approach Ruscha describes as “exploring melody that can mutate as different shades of beauty.” Rhythm plays a supporting role on Who Are You, an album with less concern over club constrictions and more contemplation of open, unbound spaces, areas in which Ruscha sees the music capturing “the feeling of a lost day.”
Who Are You further pares down the dub, tropicalia, and Afro / cosmic influences that have historically placed Secret Circuit at the dance music fringe, repurposing them as concerted instrumentals whose melodic themes are so lyrical they appear song-like, expressive without words. Brought to mind are similar instrumentalists such as Vini Reilly, Wally Badarou, Mark and Clive Ives of Woo, and contemporaries such as Gaussian Curve and Suzanne Kraft, a collaborator of Eddie’s.”
““This record is definitely looser than our last one,” says Suuns singer/guitarist Ben Shemie. “It’s not as clinical. There’s more swagger.”
"You can hear this freedom flowing through the 11 tracks on Felt. It’s both a continuation and rebirth, the Montreal quartet returning to beloved local facility Breakglass Studios but this time recording themselves at their own pace, over five fertile sessions spanning several months. A simultaneous stretching out and honing in, mixed to audiophile perfection by St Vincent producer John Congleton who flew up especially from Dallas to deploy his award-winning skills in situ.
While maintaining a pleasing economy, the informality of self-production has enabled Suuns to explore bright new vistas. “Us doing it ourselves, that process was like a very receptive, limitless workshop to just try out ideas,” declares drummer Liam O’Neill.
Hence the hypnotic future-pop percolations of X-ALT or the way Watch You, Watch Me’s organic/synthetic rush builds and and builds atop elevatory rhythm and the ecstatic, Harmonia-meets-Game Boy patterns. As befits a band who cite Andy Stott and My Bloody Valentine as touchstones yet don’t sound like either, Suuns have always seamlessly blended the programmed and played. Never mere fusionists, it’s now pointless trying to decode their sonic signature as ‘dance music that rocks’ or vice versa.
Other notable developments are singer/guitarist Ben Shemie’s newfound vocal range and buoyant melodies, showcased in such wholly unexpected delights as the yearning lilt of Make It Real and sax-smoothed Peace And Love, which sincerely comes on like a post-punk Sade. There’s a previously unheard confidence to the singer and lyricist, perhaps best exemplified by centre-piece Control, where his hushed tones are complemented by a bilingual voice musing on dreams and reality, sampled from an old Montreal social art project.”
As footwork approaches 10 years as a style, proper, Teklifer DJ Taye presents a lush, new, hi-tech jazz spin on the fwd Chicago sound with Still Trippin’, his stellar debut LP for Hyperdub. Something of a unique triple threat in the footwork circle, Taye produces and raps, as well as dances to, his own music. On Still Trippin’ he explores these binds in mutant, highly refreshing ways in the hope of carrying DJ Rashad’s legacy forward for a new generation. Fair to say, he sees the late, great pioneer proud here.
Teaming with peers DJ Manny, DJ Paypal, and DJ Lucky, plus Jersey club queen UNIIQU3, vocalist Odile Myrtil, and Fabi Reyna - editor of women’s guitar magazine “She Shreds” - Taye gives a thrilling cross-section of the new gen, simultaneously diversifying footwork’s bonds while remaining true to its manic, hyper soul and ability to mess with the meter of modern dance music.
Marking up close to recent, forward-looking scene classics by Jana Rush and Jlin, Still Trippin’ lets Taye’s soul flow in myriad ways, constantly in flux between plus, jazz chord driven smarts such as 2094, the red-eyed rap/footwork hybrid Smokeout and the delicious bossa nova bump of I Don’t Know with Fabi Reyna, to more hi-tek variants in the the lightspeed jazz chops of Closer and the auto-tuned tweaker Anotha4 feat. DJ Manny.
But if you’re after straight up dancefloor bullets, they comes lean and fast on the likes of Trippin’ - with Taye admitting “i’m on those research chemicals/seeing new colours” over frenetic bleeps and slow/fast trap bounce, while Need It leans in hard on an acid-jungle-juke tip, and Bonfire sounds like Dhalsim playing for Mahavishnu Orchestra, on 45rpm, and his hook-up with DJ Paypal results the searing madness of Truu.
Nightports is based on a simple but unbreakable rule of restriction: only sounds produced by the featured musician can be used. Nothing else. These sounds can be transformed, distorted, translated, reworked, processed and reprocessed, stretched, cut, ordered and reordered without limitation.
"Nightports was established by musician-producers Adam Martin (based in Leeds) and Mark Slater (Hull), and Nightports w/Matthew Bourne is the first of a series of collaborative albums to be released by The Leaf Label. Material for the album was recorded at Bourne’s home outside Keighley, West Yorkshire, and at Besbrode Pianos in Leeds.
The recordings coax hitherto unheard sounds from a range of contrasting instruments - decrepit dusty uprights holding their own against the attack and precision of a modern concert grand. The lines between the source material and the manipulations are seamless, delivering an unexpected percussive drive and emotional impact."
Romanian outlier Rodion G.A. is subject of the 2nd release on Power Vacuum’s Inversions, who reveal a garage rock and psych aspect of his sound hitherto unheard on the electronic-leaning sounds reissued by Strut a few years back
“Inversions are happy to announce their fourth record release - a further collection of unreleased tracks from Rodion Roșca's archives, credited to his three-piece band Rodion G.A. The tracks are culled from several studio recording sessions, and one track recorded in Rodion's home studio. The first sessions, at Radio Cluj over the period 1978-79, produced the basic instrumental backing for what would become "Nu Tu Vei Fi," "Ore," "Bătrânul Cais," and "Moment." Rodion applied the triplicate vocals and effects that would transform them into the finished tracks at home on his Tesla reel to reel machine. When the last session was complete, Rodion asked the engineer if he could record the instrumental tracks directly from the mixing console on to his Tesla machine.
A genius stroke, as he was subsequently able to create many further tracks using various repeated rhythms and loops from this same material, tracks equally individual and unrecognisable from the source, such as "Uneori." This earned him the accolades "Orchestra Man," and the "First One-Man Band in Romania." The second session, at the radio station in Bucharest in 1983, was more straightforward, with the tracks "Tamburași, "Satul De Roua" and "Tic Tac" all finished then and there. "Singur Pe Drum," although written in Rodion's teens, was not recorded until 2010 in his home studio.
The record is a collection of tracks with a slightly rougher garage or psychedelic rock edge than the more electronic sounding works that have re-surfaced on recordings in the last few years - "The Lost Tapes" (2013,) and "Behind The Curtain - The Lost Album" (2014.)”
Oil Gang pull out a percy dub for the good of the people with Spooky’s Snow Forest - which was originally a Slew Dem anthem circa 2006 - backed by the wide-ass swerve of his Funky Dub.
Finally finding its audience after more than 10 years, Snow Forest is an arch golden era grime riddim, simultaneously cartoonish and menacing with a blend of rudest bass and daftest melody in a proper UK style.
Funky Dub is another special request, going Champion-like on the cusp of UKF and grime proper with nuff tribal drums and rass-out jump-up basslines for effective party pressure.
Rave mutant Filter Dread joins Parisian label TV Showw with the mazy soundsystem chicanery of Beyond Saturn, following on from a handful of album in as many years released by Unknown to The Unknown, No Corner, UK Trends, and EPs fired on PAN X Lost Codes, Ramp, Fresh 86.
With a judicious and reckless application of FX to stock samples and stylistic cues, Filter Dread goes ham on grime and jungle in a brace of psychotomimetic rave permutations, most impressively on the Jon E Cash-meets-AFX flex of Beyond Saturn, in the K-holignb squat-party dub of Tracks and Yards, and in the mad meter of M25.
Current GRM director François Bonnet a.k.a. Kassel Jaeger pays homage to Eliane Radigue on the first in a series of works inspired by and dedicated to the important French minimalist composer.’s groundbreaking recordings of the late ’60s and early ‘70s.
On Retroactions, Jaeger adapts and modernises Eliane’s original feedback techniques, using 6 microphones and 10 speakers in an attempt to extend her exquisitely disciplined gestures. The result is four mesmerising durational studies executed with a glacial patience and acute sound sensitivity worthy of Jaeger’s pioneering muse.
"I Have My Liberty! Gospel Sounds from Accra, Ghana is an album of sounds and performances recorded live in 2008 from the churches of Ghana's capital city.
This album is the missing link between American gospel records by artists like Rev. Johnny L. Jones and traditional African artists like those featured on Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM. I Have My Liberty! Gospel Sounds from Accra, Ghana is an album of sounds and performances recorded live in 2008 from the churches of Ghana's capital city. Amid Accra's bustling sprawl of swirling dust and exhaust, are countless havens for homegrown musical expression: charismatic and spiritual Christian churches.
There, distorted PA systems, anchored by female singers, and ramshackle guitars played by a rotating cast of local men weave in and out of popular melodies bringing congregations to their feet. Singers emote in repeated phrases, lifted by tambourines, claps, and percussion, to unite their voices in praise and worship. I Have My Liberty! Gospel Sounds from Accra, Ghana takes listeners into these churches, where congregations join together to process the anxieties of their West African metropolis."
Beneath does K-Pop on his latest plate for Mistry.
We jest: he’s back on that UKF/post-dubstep grind with typically shark-eyed swerve, churning up jabbing drums in a mire of boggy subs and amorphous spectral dub FX on Special Offer, which drips off into a dead tangy 2nd half after the drop, before Kushty rolls out slower and more rhythmelodic with hypnotic chiming lead contrasting the cut’s pendulous bass pressure.
Nowt flashy, but it works so well.
The Kelly twins’ Happy Skull play host to Roman siblings and IDM producers Fabrizio and Marco D’Arcangelo for only their 2nd outing since Rephlex did a houdini.
Hailing from the same Roman skool of ‘90s electronic music as Leo Anibaldi and Marco Passarani, the D’Arcangelo brothers were always Italy’s closest answer to AFX, blessed with an urge for melodic and rhythmic intricacy that set their work apart.
On Saba Tree they pick up where they left off, dispensing the near-baroque acid-electro elegancy of the title cut, then the curdling Braindance harmonics of Pull Seven, before whipping out the EP’s big highlight in AC - SF13 - 2 Cid - 13th Cider, which reads like a Cornishman’s weekend drugs shopping list, and sounds like a stray Analord production, leaving them to clock out on the downtempo tilt of Korty.
All Nerve – the first new album from The Breeders in a decade – reunites band members Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson.
The quartet returned to the stage in 2013 to celebrate the album’s 20th anniversary and have been quietly working on new material since then.
Mosca barrels out on a proper, acidic UK steppers flex with the sprung dubs of Prento Version and Fever Version for Lavalava Records, a new facet of Bristol’s Rewind-Forward squadron.
A-side gives up the the bone dry drums, singeing melodica leads and acid-etched bassline of Prento Version inna Jah Shaka’s style, tucked with sparing but well placed horror-movie synth vamps and spaced out to the max with corkscrewing, range-finding FX.
B-side is Fever Version, a slow burner from backa the echo chamber, run ruddy and mutant like a long lost Jammy’s digi nugget produced on a prototypical, bio-organic Casio keyboard that runs off mashed hard food and marijuana.
Greece’s DJ Loser rebounds on Glasgow’s Clan Destine with a scuzzy follow-up to her abrasive, eponymous 2017 tape.
Crusade Melancholia is another thistly industrial throw down, churning up some ferric-sodden highlights in the severely screwed 808 tang of Χωρος Για Λαθη; the nagging EBM jabs of Bad Blood Exhaust; a boggy mire of hypno synth distortion called End of the Bond 1; her black metal/Memphis rap fusion, Magdalena’s Apathy; or the Delroy Edwards-esque End of the Bond 2.
Your SA dance collection is set to swell with Pantsula! (The Rise Of Electronic Dance Music In South Africa, 1988-1990), a crucial survey of the much talked about - but little known - scene that sprang from bubblegum and Shangaan Disco, and laid the roots for those Kwaito and Gqom aces which would penetrate scenes and light up dancefloors far beyond the southern hemisphere.
As the excellent liner notes describe in much more detail, Pantsula music (think of Pantsula as a style, attitude rather than fixed descriptor) in 1988-90 was the soundtrack to a difficult, fractious time in SA society and politics, which was still under Apartheid and its people subject to all the shit came with it, which meant that nightclubs and shebeens (blues/after-hours joints/taverns/you know the ones) were constantly under threat of being shut down by the dibble and the authorities, even in places like Johannesburg, where black and white folk mixed more freely.
Still, where there’s a will… and all, meant that the low key shebeens acted as an incubator for Pantsula, where DJs in the backrooms of houses-cum-bars absorbed American and European influences into their own, deeply rich dance culture, resulting a sound that rudely mirrored the hard electronic jack of Chi-house, new beat or eurobeat and the sleek swing of US and Canadian garage, and even traces of Jamaican digi-dancehall, but with natty melodies and vocals familiar to Zulu culture and SA’s wealth of ethnic minorities.
Basically 4/4 house in all its variations was the common currency of Black Atlantic dancefloors, and few places mores than South Africa, which, outside of the USA, was evidently one of the Black Atlantic’s most important hotspots during the late ‘80s international house phenomenon. With that in mind, the 12 tracks on Pantsula! form a vital historic document of Afro-Futurism, catching a uniquely funked up brace of innovative, ingenious and down right infectious dance music which, with the benefit of hindsight, we’d identity among the strongest of its era. Just, it’s taken us all this long to realise.
And the tunes? 100% gold, pal, especially if you’ve a thing for the directness of new beat or the less jazzy sides of Chicago house, as it takes in absolute peaches such as Ayobayo Band’s Sorry Bra, the inimitably tangled bassline of Chaka’s Via Tembisa, the reggae-inflected lope of Go Siami from La Viva, along with pure, brimming soul aces such as The Equals New Lover, the lusty Chi-NYC-Antwerp-esque beauty of Ushelakanjani by Jazino, or the jagged sequencer funk of Scotch Band’s Watsotsama.
For anyone who enjoys dancing, or pissing off the po-po, this one's for you.
Terekke herds his wooliest flock of ambient Improvisational Loops for Music From Memory following the cultishly-acclaimed Plant Age album for L.I.E.S.. This time he evaporates any trace of percussion to leave listeners wrapped up in billowing harmonic structures with a deeply meditative, almost anaesthetising effect set to resonate with a raft of new ears.
It’s perhaps not surprising that Matt Gardner a.k.a. Terekke conceived his second LP as an aid for yoga in the esoteric-functional style of those late ‘70s/early ’80s new age pioneers whose work is having such a strong effect on contemporary styles. As the original new age gear was crafted in response to emerging thoughts of AI consciousness, secular spirituality and as a means detach oneself from the capitalist reality of Reaganomics, in 2017, at the dog-end of capitalism, perhaps the need for this stuff is as great or greater than ever?
Unless you exclusively fxck with harsh noise or are a bit of a bastard, Improvisational Loops is almost guaranteed to melt your worries and soothe your mind, running the equivalent of a hot bath while simultaneously massaging your temples and holding a zoot to your lips so you don’t get the roach wet. Just bliss. It’s that good!
Uniquely wicked package from Lisbon’s Príncipe label, hustling cuts from DJ K30, DJ NinOo and Puto Anderson under the crew’s mantle, Firma do Txiga, which translates to english as something like “Come Close”, and coolly signifies the set of ideals which ties their styles together.
After shots dispatched on the Cargaa 3 and Mambos Levis D’Outro Mundo compilations, K30 steps to his solo debut plate with the most mercurial vibes of all three. A-side he explores “a more synthetic approach to the syncopated PALOP sound of the streets, a sort of avant-garde technoid expression of the bated identity” with four mercurial grooves dancing from the plasmic string licks and syrupy bump of Era Uma Ve(z) to curdled organ riffs and nimble drums in Hora da Casa and one rot the oddly stark turn of System and the BIG highlight of warped techno chords, thizzing pads and brittle shuffle in Melodias do K30.
DJ NinOo follows with a deeply sweet but rugged pair on his plate, forming a perfect introduction tot he world at large with the Moments In Love-styled choral voices and downtempo romance of Ambientes Leves backed by the wistfully dusky and up-shuffled bustle of Saudades do Russel, before Puto Anderson charges up the final plate with two archival zingers; the hypnotic pressure of Éh Brincadira and the completely inimitable, scuffling woodblock cadence and parry of Gritos do Infinito, which is surely one of the maddest, distinctive grooves we’ve heard in years.
A total no brainer, this. Highly recommended!
London-based beat slacker Shamos sponges a load of demo cuts and endearingly half-cut ideas on I Can Think Of Nothing Else But This Machine, the 1st release from Role Models, following his batch of deep fried goods dispatched on Andy Lyster’s Youth and Funkineven’s Apron Recordings in recent years.
A strong look for late night smokers and insomniacs, the vibe is deliciously gauzy and low-key, stretching out from frayed ambient beginnings to take in smudged trip hop downbeats, zig-zagging, blunted EBM and knackered, natty house mutations in his wobbly stride.
RIYL Ratkiller, Delroy Edwards, Lord Tusk
A ébut shot of shrieking electronics and jagged post-techno pulses as We Will Fail, including remix reinforcements by Eomac and Ziúr.
Night boots off with febrile arpeggios skittering around distorted bass eruptions and keening sci-fi like Frank Bretschnider or Alva Noto gone manic, whereas Schadenfreude starts out slower, pensive, then congeals in a curdling slosh of rolling techno thumps and worming triplets sure to spin he dance off its axis.
Remixing Night, Eomac firms it up with a swaggering sort of cyber-dancehall swing and and scaly surface of noisy electronics, and Ziúr makes the same elements sound like Ben Frost doing ballroom Breaks - in the best way.
A fine collection of pre-1950’s songs taken from Chinese 78rpm records originally compiled on a CDr released by Dutch label Year Zero Records in 2008.
An otherworldly compilation of Chinese operas and folk songs from old scratchy 78RPM records, featuring such legendary early/mid-20th century artists as Mei Lan Fang, Bai Ju Rong, Fong Yim Fun and many more.
Onra releases his 6th LP on Dublin’s All City, blushing 13 tracks of romantic soul and R&B downstrokes straddling classic ’80s and ’90s vibes with up-to-the-second production. Furtively tucking the vibe away for the lovers, the Parisian producer licks choice samples into slick original arrangements of sticky boogie bass and snares drenched in gated reverb, all chain compressed for that pendulous pressure and a lip-biting sense of tension and release.
“On “Nobody Has To Know”, his fifth album for All City Records, the versatile French producer created music that reflects on the various aspects of a secret relationship pulling from R&B,New Jack Swing and Funk to soundtrack the passions of attraction.
Stylistically “Nobody Has To Know” picks up from the Future Funk style Onra originated on his 2010's “Long Distance” (and its 2012 companion EP “Deep In The Night” for Fool's Gold). Where those two releases mined the early and mid parts of the 1980s for ideas and references, the new album digs into late '80s and early '90s jams for smoother and richer sounds. Bolstering the record are two talented multi-instrumentalists, New Zealand's Lewis McCallum and Belgium's Pomrad, who bring touches of virtuosity to Onra's trademark smooth arrangements. The result is a record that, like its theme, oscillates between tender, torrid and tumultuous.
Over its 13 tracks “Nobody Has To Know” details the ups and downs of a secret relationship, from the excitement of doing something forbidden to the aftermath of living out fantasies. On "Let Me Fantasize" a rolling bassline and sparkling melodies capture the excitement of what is possible, the mind wandering into the forbidden. "No Question" taps into New Jack Swing to act out desires that can't be suppressed, exuberant solos echoing dangerous feelings. With its hard drums and smooth horn solos, and chorus of "Freak" takes you to that place where you can do things you only dreamed about. Balancing this intensity are more introspective moments. "Not Long Ago" rolls out gentle synth solos and nostalgic samples to reflect on past relationships and the very human desire to have what you had or can no longer reach. Rich textures and a languid rhythm underpin the reflective mood of "Nothing To Lose," as you wonder what could go wrong – it's a fine line after all.
The fantasizing, excitement and danger of fatal attraction are all reflected through the prism of the music. With “Nobody Has To Know” Onra deftly evolves the style he first began to explore a decade ago with his unique touch, re-affirming a unique sound rooted in warmth and setting the mood for some late-night escapades.”
A big bag of foundational Chicago house tracks produced by Frankie Knuckles
Featuring Jamie Pricniples classic vocals on Baby Wants To Ride, Bad Boy (Original 12” Mix), Waiting On My Angel (Club Mix), Your Love (Original 12” Mix), and It’s a Cold World, plus Frankie’s classic with Kevin Irving, Children Of The Night, and the banging jack track, Boom Boom by Dancer.
Trust it wouldn’t be a Trax release without sounding like it was mastered by ten different people or transferred from a rip of a rip!
Like a cold mojito splashed direct to the ears, Atlas’s Breeze serves a piquant dash of Balearic new age fusion feels from Japan, 1986, on its first vinyl reissue as part of Mule Musiq’s Japanese disco reissue series. Trust it’s a total dream for fans of late ‘80s FM synths and slicked-out fusion, this one
Studio Mule says: “we are proud to announce the vinyl reissue of one of the best and most complex japanese jazz fusion albums, 1987’s breeze by hiroyuki namba, eiji kawamura, and toshiro imaizumi’s band atlas. hiroyuki namba is one of the most important japanese keyboardist of the ’80s with a legacy that includes japanese cosmic classic “who done it?” and “tropical explosion,” a sought-after gem by diggers. in addition to his work with his progressive rock band sense of wonder, he’s also known as a member of tatsuro yamashita’s band. eiji kawamura is a highly respected arranger who has worked on projects by major recording artists like kyoko koizumi and hideaki tokunaga, and atlas’ third member toshiro imaizumi is a skilled studio musician who’s also worked on major projects. the album opens with the soothing sounds of ocean waves that turn into the melancholic fusion number that is “mediterranean breeze,” setting the balearic mood for the whole album.
“simpatia” is an album highlight with a euphoric feel that could be tokyo’s answer to the sounds of ibiza―an obscure japanese gem. 'after brunch with you” is a sunny samba fusion with a playful, bright piano melody, followed by “summer breeze,” an electric fusion jam that sound like holger czukay could have wrote it. a track that was so ahead of its time, i wouldn’t be surprised if international feel picked it up and released it as is. breezy mellow tune “never come into your eyes” reminds you of the sentimental feeling one gets around the time summer’s about to be over. another album highlight, “indige,” is one of japan’s most unique dance tracks of the time, an electric disco stomper that sound like it could’ve been produced by todd terje. “breeze for siesta“ features toshiro imaizumi’s beautiful piano paying, a relaxing song that wouldn’t sound out of place on ecm. “love beach” blends prog influences with fusion in a way only hiroyuki namba can. the album ends with “madrigl,” a magical song with dramatic and melancholic moments, full of quintessentially japanese sense of beauty."
For fans of moody ‘80s pop pomp, Death of Lovers’ 2nd album, The Acrobat packs all the aching emo swoon and synthy licks you could hope for. Think New Order, Duran Duran, John Hughes movies, montages of Reagan/Thatcher economics in effect, and buckets of salty, sugary nostalgia.
“Since the 2014 release of Philly outfit Death of Lover’s acclaimed debut EP “Buried Under a World of Roses”, many wondered if a full length follow-up for the band was even possible – largely due to the extensive touring schedule of Domenic, Nick, and Kyle’s other band: Nothing. But between 2016 and 2017, the four piece band (that includes keyboard player CC Loo) was able to find the time to focus, demo, write, and carve out a stunning new direction and polished sound for the band. “The Acrobat” represents that labor of love, and Death of Lovers have created one of the most eye-opening alternative records we’ve heard in years.
Thoughtful compositions weave driving synths, drums and guitars through lock-step rhythm and nostalgia before shattering into intricate and spacious instrumental breaks. There is a welcome complexity and depth to the tracks, which dance between moody and sweeping to sparkling and bright – creating a beautiful contrast to the honest and dark lyrics.
On the album single “The Absolute”, Domenic’s vocals (accompanied in harmony by drummer Kyle Kimball) take on the topics of selfishness and greed - “All in all is trembling fear – bound to fall on bludgeoned bell rung ears. A senseless world of worth, deceived by needing, and the crow who perches on your tongue – reminding you it won’t be too long.”
“Lowly People” is the band’s answer to PULP’s “Common People”, cast through the lens of their own upbringing: the streets of Kensington, Philly – where “Broken glass shimmers like the stars, summer air breeds a certain violence.”
Somehow, The Acrobat achieves warm familiarity while sounding completely new. While the tracks could easily have been included on the soundtrack to every one of your favorite 80s films, there is a fresh perspective and process evident in the songwriting that rewrites the “post-punk” rulebook.”
The time-dilating ‘Hearing Metal 1’  renders the amniotic results of investigations into the gong-like TamTam by American composer, Michael Pisaro - an influential collaborator with Julia Holter and mainstay of Edition Wandelweiser.
Focussing on the unique idiosyncrasies of the TamTam - a gong-like metal plate highly sensitive to touch and external vibration - Pisaro’s three durational works in ‘Hearing Metal 1’ coolly harness the TamTam’s reverberant energies in a way that seems to draw order from chaos and, in the process, subtly alter the listener’s temporal perceptions. They generate a rare effect that’s perhaps best compared with Morton Feldman recording in Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient barn, or Eliane Radigue and Stephen O’Malley duetting on an ARP synth and bass guitar whose wires have begun to oxidise and decay. Required listening for anyone who like to hover at the brink of liminality.
“Performer: Greg Stuart (tam-tam). ‘The 60-inch (Mikrophonie) tam-tam is a large piece of metal, a proto-sculpture. Brancusi might have altered it: rounding and tapering the edges, making an oval instead of a circle, polishing the surface into smooth gold. The tam-tam is also a vast sound landscape-an instrument that makes noise at the slightest provocation. A resonance is created just in the act of walking past the instrument or breathing on it ... that is, if your ear (or a microphone) is close enough to hear it. Wherever it is touched with a bow or a hand, it responds with chaotic, unpredictable complexity, never producing the same sound twice.I have attempted to work within the givens of this landscape, to allow some of its implicit contours to reveal themselves-by collecting sounds, giving them a duration, putting them into a clear structure, and cutting a path through them with pure tones. Sleeping Muse is something like a four-part chorale of bowed sounds, with a melody made up of long sine tones buried in the sounds.
The Endless Column is a collection of sixty extremely light, close recorded strikes, randomly ordered, but with a rising scale of sine tones mixed in, more or less within the central frequency range of the tam-tam (from 50 to 671 hz). Sculpture for the Blind arranges eight layers of bowed sounds (which are then released) along a pattern of lengthening durations and combined with a sine tone trio, again woven into the sounds of the tam-tam. Hearing Metal 1 is the product of close collaboration between composer and performer. The piece evolved as Greg made test recordings based on my suggestions and then sent them to me. As it happened we feel we fell into its world, in order to move it slightly towards our own.’ Michael Pisaro”
Portugal’s freakiest house band, Niagara, get loosey goosey on return to Príncipe with four jazz-fizzed and earthen jams mixing punk-funk and Afro-Latin rhythms in a way they can happily call their own.
OK they may display shades comparable with Hieroglyphic Being at his bendiest, or even traces of Pop Dell’ Arte in their musical DNA, but there’s some defiantly offbeat and textured to the bittersweet, cranky yet playful jazz-house of Asa, and even when they simply put a big kick under it, like with IV, they still manage to make it sound warped in their own image; a proper grinning/gurning fizzog.
When they lock down to a beat, they really juice it for all its worth in burred, ferric disco psychedelia of Amarelo, but equally know how to swivel your bones in distinctly fresh but tribalistic style with the splayed snare patter and lysergic, flanged-out flute tickles of Laranja.
Whatever, they’ll make your ‘floor feel weird and bring out the best dancers.