The 23rd edition of the Pop Ambient compilation, compiled by Wolfgang Voigt.
"A contemporary product of relentless capitalism has been a trend called slowness for several years now. In order to counteract the perceived fast pace of the times in which we live with a little deceleration, sustainability and relaxation, phenomena such as Slow Food, Slow Travel, Slow Fashion or even Slow Cruising, the tourist sailing of the world's oceans with somewhat smaller cruise ships "away from the mainstream", have been introduced into the world.
That slowness is more than the opposite of speed, that elements, things, sounds that move as if in slow motion unfold a special power, precision, aesthetics and beauty, doesn’t need to be explained twice to ambient musicians. The 23rd edition of the Pop Ambient compilation, compiled as always by Wolfgang Voigt, is no exception, but instead provides the proof."
Spanish-Finnish duo Rauelsson & Rönkkö coverts ground from isolationist cinematic scapes to tribalist percussion, spoken word and baroque chamber work after calling home to Sonic Pieces and Beacon Sound over the past decade
“Recorded both in Spain and Finland, the 13-track album Myriadi documents Tatu Rönkkö and Raúl Pastor Medall's first standalone collaboration, entirely created, performed and mixed by the pair. With Myriadi, the two artists walk listeners into a world that somehow manages to feel ancient and modern at the same time. It is peaceful and dreamy but also raw, solemn and unsettling. Tatu's improvisational, crude and almost ritualistic sonic approach blends in seamlessly with Raúl's more melodic and melancholic schemes of composition. With its simplicity and clarity, the album belongs in the realms of dark ambient and drone as much as it belongs to a tradition of minimal acoustic music.
Myriadi embraces loose ends, harmonic freedom and even atonality; regardless of whether it involves the sound of glass-blowing water bottles, a small Finnish harp, bell-like sounding metal plates or piano strings played with paint brushes and sticks, the overall improv-based character of the project gives the music a primal, unpredictable and meditative feel. This spontaneous study of form and timbre has room for bold rhythmic pieces played with a drum set consisting of six floor toms, but also for hypnotic chants of granular flute-like sounds and spoken word poetry (featuring voices by Raúl and Tatu's moms). The spontaneity and lack of premeditation that permeate through Myriadi paradoxically reinforce the cohesiveness of the record, reminding us that sometimes creativity really benefits from avoiding too much analysis and overthinking.
Rauelsson (Raúl Pastor Medall's musical moniker) and Tatu Rönkkö met in 2015 through common friends. They both have released music on the Berlin-based label Sonic Pieces and have collaborated on stage and in the studio on a number of occasions. Tatu appeared as a guest musician on Rauelsson's Mirall (2018) and contributed significantly on some film and TV projects that Raúl has worked on for the last couple of years. For the recording sessions of the dystopian TV Series Anna (2021) Tatu travelled to Spain where they explored countless rhythmic ideas with relatively untraditional instrumentation. These free and relaxed creative meetings led to other recording sessions completely unconnected to any scoring project, planting the seed for what Myriadi would become.”
Master poet / concrète enigma, Lionel Marchetti takes his bow on the Recollections GRM series with two works commissioned for, and realised at, the inestimable Parisian institute during the mid ‘90s.
Hailed a major player in the 3rd generation of concrète musicians, Marchetti is renowned as a consummate collaborator with everybody from Jérôme Noetinger to Michel Chion and Voice Crack, besides his absorbing solo oeuvre that stretches back to the late ‘80s. François Bonnet’s Recollections GRM here rummage in their archive to find two striking pieces recorded by Marchetti at their facilities in 1989/90, and 1993/95, documenting some of the artist’s earliest compositions, and the start of a bountiful catalogue that’s vital to contemporary conceptions of musique concrète.
While contrasting in their outlooks and make-up, both pieces share their roots in field recordings and atmospheric influence taken from the artist’s hikes and rambles around the ancient landscapes of the Drôme region in southeastern France. Realised from 1993-95, ‘La grande vallée’ utilises a wide spectrum of sources to describe earthly settings thru a subtly modulated climate of widescreen drones and soggy textures underfoot, with strange whimpers, peacock calls and insect clamour animating the negative space with totally immersive vision. On the other hand, 10989/90’s ‘Micro-climat’ predates much of Marchetti’s work and finds him porous to the elements, highly cognisant of his proprioception and the environments of the high plateaus of the Monts du Forez, using his body and mind as a weather vane to translate a fascination with clouds into exceptionally sensitive, ephemeral descriptions of the elements that so perfectly resonate the original, ineffably poetic intentions of concrète music.
Merzbow does his bit for the Ukrainian resistance with a ferocious torrent of pounding percussion and noise shred for a label who donate all their profits to self-defence and humanitarian foundations
Masami Akita properly gets the bit between his teeth on this one, unleashing foul instrumental tirades against invasive forces with a bitter taste of their own medicine. On a war-footing he slams out bullish tattoos of clanky rhythm and atonal foment in the heck-raising highlight and opener ‘Petara #2’ sure to satisfy and suture the nerves of even hardest to please noise fiends.
‘Hina Wave’ follows into more high register squall with intense alacrity, and ‘Hope’ deploys more BM levels of weathered vocal howl and stressed machine howl in blizzard formation. ‘Metalbolism #1’ then takes the long route like an extended Black Mecha/Wold trip with rictus, martial rhythm underpinning his manacled grasp of wayward frequencies in tortuous turns.
Originally composed for a dance performance and installation, 'Black Box 3' is an uncompromisingly reduced set of processed field recordings, drum skitters, and cautious synthetic minimalism.
Mads Emil Nielsen's first "Black Box" release arrived in 2018 on 7"; each edition presents music and sound that the Danish composer originally assembled for theater performances and installations, and the third chapter is no different. This time around, the starting point was material Nielsen had worked on for "Sprækker (Cracks)", a dance performance and installation that was presented in Denmark last year. Based on improvisations recorded with contemporary dancers, Nielsen wanted to guide the listener through a selection of sounds, from synthesizer experiments to everyday sounds and radio archives.
So we're presented with clever, precise tweaking on 'Installation - 2', that obscures chopped-up drums behind synthesized glitches and moonlit field recordings. It sounds like someone jamming in a remote marsh at night, and that's never a bad thing. 'Climbing Plants' is more immersive somehow, molding hissing environmental sounds into billowing dark ambience that sounds almost like dub techno at a quarter speed. Nielsen's command of microscopic percussive elements is impressive, and his ability to weave fine pinprick patterns with undergrowth crunches and insect calls is particularly hypnotic on closing track 'Vibrations'.
London based label Natural Selection's 3rd release, Kamikaze Space Programme (aka Christopher Jarman) "Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust EP".
"Jarman is widely considered as one of the most forward thinking and innovative sound designers around. With roots indebted to the music he released as Raiden in the early 00's, his abstract, field recorded, industrial and broken admission into the annals of Techno via his prevailing alias; Kamikaze Space Programme, has seen his music backed, supported and released by the heaviest of renowned labels such as MORD, Mote-Evolver, Osiris, TRUST & more.
As an avid field recording artist, Jarman's release by and large is made up of foley sound design and sonic experimentation using bespoke apparatus and homemade microphones. Capturing internal resonances and electromagnetic radiation of objects, re-amplified or organic, classic hardware dub mixing completes his instantly recognisable Kamikaze Space Programme aesthetic, and successfully traverses the divide between Techno, Drum and Bass, Electro and Breakbeat.
Natural Selection are well known for bridging the heavier spectrum of Techno, Electro, Acid, etc. with new, experimental style and form. One can always expect cutting-edge, hard-hitting, underground electronics from Natural Selection, with extreme diversity in sound."
Front 242’s untouchable blueprint for late ‘80s EBM and beyond, now finally reissued.
Simply a best in class example of machine funk and homoeroticism, ‘Headhunter’ has soundtracked countless industrial club and darkroom fetish frolics in its 35 years on record. Sometimes scorned for its ubiquity, it is nonetheless one of the deadliest bits of ‘80s body music ever made, welding deadly DX7 bassline and laser cut drums to anthemic vocals with irresistible torque and kink.
Fruit Distro Collective is a project by long time friends Boris van der Hoff & Tristan Coco.
"Raised on sampling & Hiphop beats, schooled through Jazz composition and inspired by Afrobeat & Afro latin styles. Pour some analog tape sauce over it et voilá!
Debut album 'Some Kind Of Wisdom' is a collection of nuggets of wisdom. The concept was born when Boris was about to become a father. He started pondering what wisdom he would want to pass onto his children.
The album features several talented guest appearances. Contributions by local jazz/soul friends Rebiere (Lucas van Ee), Shamis (Misha van der Winkel) & Suula (Thimo Geijzen) as well as support by Brazilian mogul Piry Reis."
The evolution of Detroit based producer & DJ 2lanes' digital label ‘AUTO SHOP’ into the physical world, with its first release Standing Waves.
"A new alias, OVERTONE SERIES, is a collaborative project between 2lanes and fellow Detroiter Jonah Baseball.
The EP has 4 tracks that span psychedelic deep house, dance floor stomping soul, and rejuvenating sunrise downtempo moments. The record also features performances from Jonah’s father David Gray, Los Angeles based singer Jia Pet and Ji Hoon - who was featured on the B-side “Impish Desires” on 2lanes breakthrough record on Portage Garage Sounds. "
The Dewaele brothers’ peak bastard dance-pop mash-up is now available on vinyl for the weirdos that need it like that.
Once ubiquitous at afterparties in the indie sleaze era that’s currently being resurrected by gen Z, ‘As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2’ throws down an hour of cut ’n spliced classic dance music from the ‘70s until 2002, including reams of millennial pop mixed and matched in the style of the day. It sold half a million copies on release, lol
Alongside the likes of Erol Alkan, Soulwax’s 2ManyDJs were among the most prominent, lauded party-starters of that era and this mix was their calling card, stemming from afterparties for their main vehicle, that would arguably eclipse their work as a band and endure in the befuddled memories of those who’d rather forget their Hoxton fins and drug habits at the time.
Nyati Mayi and soFa elsewhere fuse dub sonics and Afro-cosmic synths on their outward-looking debut.
Following their debut 7" last year, "Lulanga Tales" extends Nyati Mayi & The Astral Synth Transmitters' universe, combining the wide musical interests and heritages of its two protagonists. Nyati Mayi's heritage is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and as well as providing the vocals on "Lulanga Tales" he also plays the lulanga, a trough zither native to the DRC that was gifted to Mayi when he visited his mother's village Nyangezi. soFa elsewhere's background is deep in the crates; he's been a member of the Brussels electronic scene since the 1990s, creating Balearic ambience as CCCVVV and teaming up with Cheb Runner on the electro-boogie project Mameen 3.
"Lulanga Tales" provides both musicians with the opportunity to slip out of their comfort zone. soFa's dubwise productions feel more fictile when blessed with Mayi's vocals and lulanga twangs, and for the most part he keeps a low profile. On 'Cry Woman' the electronics are dipped out almost completely, so Mayi can take center stage, but soFa's cosmic throb is fully evident on 'Lulanga Tale', bolstering Mayi's vocals and plucks with disco dings and John Carpenter-esque syn drums.
Berlin-based Turkish sound artist Hüma Utku uses psychological research to inform this unsettling set of hybridized analog-digital electronic vignettes, based around doomy strings and Buchla 200 recordings made at Stockholm's legendary Elektronmusikstudion. Bleak, pitch-black shit - inhabiting the same universe as Muslimgauze, Roly Porter or even Silver Mt. Zion.
Described by the label as "a series of sonic essays", "The Psychologist" references Utku's studies in psychology, which she employs to fuel shadowy abstractions of strings and electronics that feel cinematic. There's a careful pace to her productions that sweeps up her influences - from electro-acoustic music to abstract techno and industrial sounds - into a coherent soup of dimly lit orchestral flourishes and gurgling analog electronics. On 'Fuel for the Flames', thick oscillator waves set the mood, before epic double bass strokes mire the track in arcane mysticism. Utku introduces a grinding electronic rhythm on 'Dissolution of I', referencing Muslimgauze or Pan Sonic's jerky noise-inflected industrial shakes, but matches it with grim, grinding strings you'd be more likely to hear in Montreal's Godspeed-adjacent zone.
Across the course of the album, Urku rarely lets up - the tracks reference Carl Jung's theories, and our mind goes straight to the nightmare realm on the foreboding 'Rüya', which literally translates to dream in Turkish. Acidic environmental recordings and witchy vocals are layered with uneasy modular electronic drones, while phantasmagorical scraped strings hint at a realm beyond the real. Elsewhere, Utku leans more confidently into experimental electronics on the lengthy closing track 'Chironian Wound', building a similarly nightmarish landscape from bleeping vintage oscillators and wailing harmonic bass synths. Epic stuff.
Whew!!! The mind-blowing, tape-effected 1973 free-jazz recordings of Khan Jamal and co finally come back to vinyl orbit with Aguirre, remarkably paralleling developments in dub and foreshadowing avant evolutions of post-punk, jungle and ‘90s technoid dub experiments by decades. Seriously this is the ONE!!!
Nearly 50 years since it was first projected into the ether of The Catacombs, Philadelphia, ‘Drum Dance To The Motherland’ has steadily amassed a cult reputation for its bewildering, lysergic swirl of effected, rhythmelodic vibes. As your ears will tell you, it sounds quite unlike anything else on the planet from then or now, but only a scant number of reissues/represses on CD and vinyl in the past 15 years have kept it from obscurity and close to the bosoms of those in the know, which could now mean you, too.
An outpouring of free jazz expressionism and fusioneering psychedelia, ‘Drum Dance To The Motherland’ is firmly rooted in myriad modes of post-bop free jazz, blues, R&B, even edging on Afrobeat at times, but it’s the instinctively forward-looking dub rendering of Mario Falana’s real-time, hand-on-desk dubbing that sends the results stratospheric. With judicious use of echo and delay, Falana is like a spectral counterpart to the band, finely attuned with their groove and nimbly giving them whole other, shimmering dimensions to play around and within.
The recording documents an emergent Afro-American consciousness of the late 60s and early ’70 bubbling to the fore in their artful music, where, as Jamal says; “My ancestors eventually show up in my music every time i play. I’ve always said that my backyard is Africa.” While perhaps heard most distinctively in the dubbed-out, rolling breaks of final cut ‘Breath of Life’, the energies unleashed here are simply extraordinary, emerging from the tempered tempest of ‘Drum Dance of the Motherland’, across the limb-feathering murmuration of its title tune, and the breathtaking spectral interplay of ‘Inner Peace’ to leave an indelible impression of any first time listeners, and beyond.
Think ‘Bitches Brew’ Miles meets The Upsetter at the Black Ark to imagine templates for 4 Hero’s ‘Parallel Universe’, and on thru Jamie Hodge’s techno-jazz or Autechre remixing Tortoise, and you’re in the zone for this one. Incredible.
RIP Khan Jamal (1946-2022).
Oh this is good! If you love Daniel Lanois' heart-piercing pedal steel clouds on Brian Eno's "Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks", then this collection of modern pedal steel-based drift music is gonna hit you straight in the gut. Features contributions from Susan Alcorn, BJ Cole, Luke Schneider and more.
For Tompkins Square's eleventh "Imaginational Anthem", the label sign up Third Man's Luke Schneider - an in-demand Nashville pedal steel player - to assemble a selection of tracks that survey the modern pedal steel landscape. Schneider's comp offers us a bit of history, opening on a track from legendary player BJ Cole, who's played with Harold Budd, Björk, Dave Gilmour and The Orb, and provided pedal steel to Icebreaker's versions of Eno favorites like 'An Ending (Ascent)'. His 'Ely Revisited' echoes that era of ambient music, setting sublime pitch bent country-fried tones against billowing pads that throb into a hopeful, oscillating crescendo.
NYC player Jonny Lam - who's performed with everyone from Pharaoh Sanders to David Byrne - opts for a more open approach, nestling his hypnotizing tones in a fantastical country backdrop filled with birdsong and light gusts of wind. The album takes a turn when it his 'An Ode to Dungeness', a UK guitarist who moved to Nashville to follow his interest in American country; his track brings in drums and piano, and is the most self-consciously Americana moment on the set. Barry Walker Jr. lifts us back into the heavens with 'I Will Tread Upon the Lion and the Cobra', that feeds lilting pedal steel phrases into a phaser, creating a psychedelic mood without even trying too hard.
Of course though, it's Susan Alcorn - the avant-garde pedal steel innovator who's worked with Pauline Oliveros, Jandek, Ellen Fullman and Josephine Foster, among others - who pushes hardest into the unknown. 'Gilmor Blue' doesn't take any easy routes, and Alcorn sounds as if she's resisting the temptation to drift into loveliness, exploring the pedal steel's pitch bends with an inquisitiveness that's hard to turn away from. It's a fantastic set - one of the best compilations we've heard in a minute and a glorious celebration of an instrument we can't get enough of.
Epic 30th Anniversary Limited Boxset
"Since 1991, Tresor has provided a home for artists to germinate their ideas for advanced new sounds and broadcast them to the world. The pioneers that first traversed the Detroit-Berlin connection and were at the forefront of a new cultural movement gave to Tresor its original and continuing mission: community, resistance and reshaping the world to come.
The Tresor 30 compilation represents a major landmark in this continuing history of electronic music. This unique collection of music profiles some of the artists that gave the previous three decades of Tresor its sound and foundation, but it also casts its gaze forward. Writing new postcards from the future, this collection brings new artists who main- tain a connection to that original mission to the fore, charting ways in which this ethos can contin- ue to build bridges and break walls in the next 30 years.
Bringing together 52 essential tracks - both clas- sics and exclusive commissions - each of the 12 records in this box-set charts a unique line of flight from those artists that helped define the shape of this new music to those who continue to pattern its landscape further."
Chrome-plated sound design and bristling textures frame the latest speculative sci-fi experiment from Xao, meshing sonic concepts inspired by Rabit, Visionist and Lotic into the cybernetic scapes of Hyph11E or Algorave proponent Renick Bell.
Xao has been working alongside the C.A.N.V.A.S. label since the beginning, and his second album builds on the promise of 2019's Astral Black-released "Eternal Care Unit", by burying some of his most recognisable inspirations into an algorithmic shimmer of vaporous sound design and cyborg percussion. The roots of ‘Wirehead’ can be traced to the mid 2010s obsession with shaping global club echoes and videogame FX into music that accurately scored our descent into digital dystopia, but Xao makes a clear link between those ideas and the brain-fried cyberpunk vistas of William Gibson. His guiding theme is the idea of the contemporary digital attention economy with its algorithmically-powered tidal wave of content, and the mental states that follows - employing procedural and algorithmic compositional methods to shatter this status quo, reaching in the direction of a proposed "digital spirituality" in the process.
On opening track 'Bone Theory', he burns fragments of death metal into warped airlock club stumbles, welding evocative, clanging sound design to tempered forms of weightless grime and gravel-throated trap. 'Aqua Tofana' is more fucked, sounding like a frosted-glass take on Autechre's latter day post-electro rhythms, or an algorithm-warped AI rendition of Lanark Artefax's 'Touch Absence', while 'Hyperfixate For Me' stutters barely-audible vocals beneath cracked Vladislav delayed percussion and the corrupted data throb of guitar noise and loopy synthesis.
The rest of the album plays like a Johnny Mnemonic-style braindump: the last few years of underground electronic music melted into a frayed patchwork of textures, rhythms and sonic signifiers. It comes to a head on 'I Wed My Shadow', when opera singer Marie Requa Gailey's voice just about cuts through the static like a candle in the dark, making the escape route from the techno dystopia just about visible. Moments later we're exposed to the corrosive 'Ophanim Plushie' - all jazz clatter and anodised rolls, accompanied by drones and squashed breaks that barely make it off the surface. By the time we reach the album's final track 'Threnody for the Child of Omelas', it’s all repair and recovery, twisting beatless echoes from strangled neural networks into blankets of aesthetic warmth.
Wirehead is a smart album that fits well into the deconstructed club/post-club lineage, deploying hyperkinetic sound design and a whelming flux of feelings echoing contemporary classics in its progressive field by TCF or Lee Gamble or indeed the same algo-powered artificiality as James Ferraro, or even the hyperpop set, fused with nu-metal and dembow somewhere between Arca and Oxhy.
Takafumi Okada, drummer with GOAT, does mutoid no wave body music on L.I.E.S. for fans of CHBB, Factory Floor/Gabe Gurnsey, Group A, early Powell.
Locked into permutations of metallic rhythms and possessed vocals, ‘Body of Void’ sprouts nine bendy-limbed jags like a soundtrack to Tetsuo Iron Man finding his funk. Its cyberpunky dance music spoiling for sleazy ‘floors with a fever dream of teeth-chattering industrial noise in ‘Encounter’ giving way to a slew of frenetic but robotically disciplined, panel-beaten tribal percussion and gnawing noises that relate loosely to his role in GOAT alongside Koshiro Hino (YPY) of the Nakid label - seen most recently on that KAKUHAN killer.
Once it gets going with the gunky, hot-stepping pump and over-the-shoulder vocals of ‘Restive Lines’ it barely lets up the pressure for an hour, taking in strapping EBM a la DAF on ‘Body of Void’, and chewier synth tone in the yoked back strut of ’Suicider’, with a pounding tom tattoo in ‘Dyspnea Circus’ recalling The Slits via Group A, and searing Factory Floor workouts in the cranky calisthenics of ’23 Witness’. At his most shark-eyed and insistent, ‘Formalin’ pushes rictus rhythms until they ooze with oil and sweat, and ‘Cave’ works up a hypnotic monotonic groove to leave your bones jangling.
International debut of febrile dream-pop by Japan’s Hitomi Morikawa, produced by Hideki Urawa (Boris, Kikagaku Moyu) and crossing liens with everything from early Phew to Teresa Winter and Sun Araw
“Composed and recorded at her Fukuoka home during the worldwide pandemic between 2020-2022, the album was produced by Hideki Urawa, who has also worked with Kikagaku Moyo and other musical acts on Guruguru Brain.
"Subtropic Cosmos" in particular is a wonderful work that conveys the "joy of making things" to listeners, as it is filled with various influences from her diverse activities.
As suggested by the album title, most of the songs were created under the unprecedented conditions of corona--and as a result, were inspired by the consciousness of traveling through imaginary foreign lands and nature.
As if adventuring through the universe inside of her own mind, Moriwaki's versatility is best experienced through her fearless fusion of hip-hop, pop and experimental music.
Through a lens of psychedelic production by Hideki Urawa, this album is a truly special, one-of-a-kind space experience for listeners to enjoy and embark upon.”
The third instalment of Melodies International's DJ and Artist curated mini compilations: Melodies Record Club.
"Following Ben UFO and Four Tet’s selections, Hunee helms volume three which includes three tracks this time including music from Digital Justice, Dorothy Ashby and Frantz Tuernal.
On one side we have a beatless ecstatic piece of electronic music by Digital Justice called Theme From ‘It’s All Gone Pearshaped’. Originally released in 1994 on Rob Gretton’s (ex-manager of Joy Division and New Order) label Robs Records, Pearshaped is a 13 minute live jam from two friends messing around in a loft studio full of synths, inadvertently creating magic that can “take many shapes and forms in the hands of a DJ and the movement of a dance floor, whilst its harmonic counterpoint shines through the wildest mixes and combinations”
On the flip, we have Dorothy Ashby’s spiritual piece featuring Koto and spoken word “For Some We Loved” from her classic album “The Rubáiyát Of Dorothy Ashby” originally released in 1970 on Cadet and Frantz Tuernal’s “Koultans” originally released in 1986 by l’AMEP (Association Martiniquaise d’Enseignement Populaire)."
Fifteen years after their last full-length, Montreal's Black Ox Orkestar return with a fresh cross-cultural dialog between Jewish and Arabic folk sounds that couldn't be more timely. RIYL Tindersticks, Nick Cave, A Silver Mt. Zion.
Thierry Amar, Scott Gilmore, Jessica Moss, and Gabriel Levine initially formed Black Ox Orkestar way back in 2000, looking to a way to examine their Jewish identity through folk music traditions, singing original compositions in Yiddish and interpreting music from Jewish, Romani and Arabic texts. After two albums, they went on hiatus in 2006, re-appearing earlier this year with a special flexidisc release that confirmed their reunion. 'Everything Returns' is the fruit of their labor, and it's as if they've never been gone. The band's careful, well-studied interpretation of klezmer via Montreal's avant indie-rock scene is still intact, and their political motivations are still just as sharp and incisive. Black Ox aren't afraid to shout loudly of the harmonies between cultures, showing the connections between Slavic, Central Asian, Arabic, and Jewish traditions.
All of this is bracketed by the quartet's seemingly effortless instrumental skill, introduced slowly on the low-key opener 'Tish Nign' with wordless choral vocals, melancholy piano, punctuating double-bass, and Moss's unmistakeable violin. Black Ox get into the groove on 'Perpetual Peace' and it's as if they'd never been gone at all - Gilmore's Yiddish vocals sound rich and emotional, and producer Greg Norman renders everything in such rich dimensionality that it's almost like having the band in the room with you. The most memorable moments feature Gilmore playing cimbalom, a kind of dulcimer; on 'Oysgeforn / Bessarabian Hora', the instrument is used to bring us into the right headspace before the Levine's clarinet takes over and the track fizzes into new-wave klezmer. On 'Skotshne' though it sounds more cinematic, accompanying Moss's teary-eyed violin and speaking wordlessly on themes of perpetual displacement and exclusionary nationalism.
'Everything Returns' is a darkly comic title. It acknowledges the band's long absence, but also speaks of the return of more unnerving elements in society. The album's mood reflects this perfectly, tying up the darkness of contemporary culture into a historical lineage that's grim, but never oppressive.
Classic early ‘80s NY zinger - a big DJ Harvey fave - uprooted and dusted down for reissue by Isle of Jura Records.
Fire In My Heart is a big blast of stardust up your head, in your knickers, with a flammable vocal matched by swaggering bass and taut electro undertow; the B-side gets freakier with the keys and pads on a boogie slant with Won’t Be Your Fool, before licking you off properly with and Instrumental Dub of Fire In My Heart.
Give Me You / Starchild by Ian Friday in collaboration with vocalist Byron J. Moore.
"NYC mainstay Ian Friday shows us once again how he easily transcends the ‘house’ genre by using his latin and jazz influences to transform his productions and arrangements into lush songs.
The A-side brings us a cover of Detroit’s Gospel group The Winans and the flip side a reworking of the Level 42 classic. Much like previous successful collaborations with vocalist Byron J. Moore the songs sound like they were written especially for him, oozing musicianship and groove. These timeless vocal house gems were previously playlisted by Ron Trent and are now finally available on vinyl courtesy of MTMU’s reissue imprint ‘Music Take Me Back’."
Just shy of 50 years vintage, Fela’s searing ’73 side still burns and seduces on reissue contact with four cuts of top drawer Afrobeat for the dance and the chop up.
Notably studded with Fela’s first Nigerian hit, the brassy swag of ‘Jeun Ko Ku’ which sold over 200,000 copies, ‘Afrodisiac’ sports four re-recordings of songs cut for 45, made in London 1972. The whole record is hailed as a key touchstone for Talking Heads’ Remain In Light’ (1980), and it’s not hard to hear why between the lively bustle of ‘Alu Jon Jonki Jon’ with its incendiary organ work and swingeing drums, to the taut funk rock fusion dance music of ‘Eko Ile’, and perhaps most particularly in the jangling, driving syncoatopn of guitars, horns and percolated rhythms in ‘Je’nwi semi (Don’t Gag Me)’.
All dancefloor gold in the right hands.
Kaitlyn's solo debut Euclid (primarily written on a Buchla Music Easel synthesizer) was inspired by her love of mbira music, early electronic music pioneers like Laurie Spiegel, Oskar Sala, and Terry Riley, and euclidian geometry. Each of the first six songs on Euclid were initially structured using euclidian geometry, an idea which Smith explored while attending a class at the San Francisco Conservatory.
"As Smith explains, "We each chose a 3D shape and assigned our own guidelines to the different components that make up the shape. For example each point of the shape represents a different time signature, each line between the points represents a pitch, each shape within the closed lines represents a scale, etc. And then you play the shape." Despite their heady geometric origins, the songs have a playfulness and warmth that makes them inviting and memorable.
In addition to the buoyant grooves of Smith's synthesizers, some of the songs feature wordless vocals, which energize the otherworldly songs, while grounding them with Smith's earthly presence. She slows things down for the second half of the record, which features a collection of twelve short pieces, Labyrinths I-XII. Originally composed as new soundtracks to old silent films she found online, Smith says the tranquil Labyrinth pieces are "intended to feel like one is walking through a holographic labyrinth and encountering different experiences such as hang gliding, viewing microbes under a microscope, ice fishing in Alaska, and watching glaciers collapse."
Despite their brevity, most of these songs feel like mini odysseys, effortlessly casting a cinematic hue on the the listener's world. Throughout Euclid Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith consistently delivers sonic puzzles draped in a warm Pacific mist. At times these songs feel so alive — like the musical analog to roots growing deeper and stronger, leaves on branches bending towards the light, or the sun peeking over the horizon, briefly igniting the air with a primordial swirl of warm and cool colors."
Trunk serves up Ron Geesin's previously unreleased score to John Schlesinger's Oscar-winning 1971 movie, packaging it with a suite of unreleased soundtrack recordings from Geesin's work for Channel Four and the BBC.
Sunday Bloody Sunday was most notorious when it released for making a stark u-turn on director John Schlesinger's depiction of gay people. Two years earlier, he'd made the divisive "Midnight Cowboy", which portrayed gay men as self-loathing outcasts, but here his treatment was more sensitive and far more in tune with reality. Geesin's score is light and airy, featuring two guest appearances from English folk legend Bridget St John, and interspersing traditional soundtrack moments like 'Affectations For String Quartet' with eerie synth experiments like the tense 'Blitzful Memories' and the bubbly 'Wayward Balloons'.
Schlesinger had come across Geesin when he watched Tristan Powell's 1970 BBC Omnibus film "Shapes in a Wilderness", a documentary about the use of art therapy in mental hospitals. That ten-minute score is included in full here, and strikes a darker tone, with moody vocals and stuttering piano hits, spine-tingling Tangerine Dream-esque synth passages and psychedelic primal tones. To finish the record off, there's a selection of cues from Greg Lanning's 1985 Channel Four documentary "Viv" about West Indies cricket star Viv Richards and this is where Geesin gets to let rip with his most eccentric material: jazzy piano, splattery electronic hits, and exotica-inspired percussive workouts like the phenomenal 'Through Loud Bamboo'.
Impressive consolidations of romantic classical urges, grandiose prog and twisted club vernacular by Swiss composer Büchi, really stepping up her game after more stripped back early works. RIYL TCF, Æ, 0PN, Ben Frost
“Noémi Büchi’s debut album ‘Matter’ captures the tension between growth and decay, consonance and dissonance, mirroring Büchi’s own catharsis through music. Her most personal material to date, ‘Matter’ is an opus of refined, sculpted beauty, one that aims to blur the distinction between ephemerality and physicality. Inspired by late romantic classical music and early 20th century contemporary music, ‘Matter’ is driven by the compositional methodologies of Igor Stravinsky, Alexander Skrjabin, Gustav Mahler and György Ligeti to modern sound forms, adapting and expanding upon their ideas in an awe-inspiring exploration of cutting-edge potency and tactility.
Büchi structures the electronic works that constitute ‘Matter’ in movements, stratifying myriad instrumental parts like the constituent sections of an orchestra. During her work on the album, Büchi engaged in extensive research, obsessively studying specific chords and progressions, and searching for transcendent intonations with resonant properties; complexions of sound with the ability to connect with the listener’s body. Transforming our inner worlds into zones of suspension and levitation, Büchi exposes the listener to intoxicating slipstreams of sound. Prominent voices ascend, tectonic disturbances threaten the foundations, perception and sensation becomes subject to elemental countercurrents and inversions. ‘Matter’ illustrates the fraught pursuit of momentary equilibrium, and makes the fragility of euphoria tangible.
Composer & sound artist Noémi Büchi creates electronic, symphonic maximalism. Her music is defined by delicate electronic-orchestral forms and textural rhythms. She strives for a combination of harmonic and dissonant sonorities, to evoke both intellectual and emotional euphoria. Büchi has appeared on the Light of Other Days and Visible Dinner labels, and is now an affiliate of -OUS, releasing ‘Hyle’ her debut EP on the label in spring 2022. As well as her solo output, Noémi Büchi is currently working with Feldermelder on their collaborative project Musique Infinie. Their debut album will also be released via -OUS in the near future.”
Chris Abrahams of The Necks gets right under the skin with a new album of spectral electro-acoustic minimalism that tingles and prods like little else - all subdued piano flourishes and low-lit mood music from one of the Antipodes’ most important experimental jazz musicians.
Back in his spiritual home at Room40 two years after ‘Appearance’, Abrahams’ returns to liminal spaces of musical thought, where silvery lines of solo piano and distant pulses weave through detuned bells and organ swells with a dreamlike quality. Where his last album was a more clear-minded solo piano rendition, ‘Follower’ is enhanced with minimalist electronics and loose percussion that lends proceedings an impressionistic quality that calls to mind the otherworldly seduction of Tarkovsky scores or the kind of liminal melancholy Ryuichi Sakomoto has been perfecting for years.
Abrahams’ keys are most elegantly mixed somewhere in the middle-distance against an ultra-fine patina of electronic pointillism and timbral sheen in ‘Costume’, a 13 minute panorama punctuated by spiralling percussive trills that leave an indelibly woozy mark, before the track dissolves into a nervy wash of feedback and distortion. ‘New Kind Of Border’ is more blue and ambiguous, offsetting rattling percussion over a lone parlour jazz pianist in an off world lounge, while ‘Sleep Sees Her Opportunity’ opens with resonant chords x pump organ drone giving way to almost Feldman-esque keys and a rushing bass-pulse heartbeat that connotes a lurking sense of dread in balance with the sublime.
The closing ‘Glassy Tenseness Of Evening’ runs like a companion to Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto’s prized run of collaborations, all precise, rattling electronics cut through with the most pristine, glistening piano motifs - a wistful resolution that gradually ramps up the emotional - and low end - pressure.
Masterful and incredibly beautiful music - late night / solo-immersion highly recommended.
1080p and RVNG alum RAMZi's latest is a psychedelic salve that updates fourth world atmospherics with fuzzed 'n blunted downtempo rhythmic construxions. RIYL DJ Python, Boards of Canada, Gigi Masin.
"hyphea" was born when Montreal's Phoebé Guillemot was asked to write a score for Frederic Lavoie's "Fun Fungi", an experimental documentary about mushrooms. The sketches for that soundtrack eventually grew into this album, that Guillemot worked on during the pandemic to curb the boredom of isolation. This is maybe why the record's sound word is so well developed and widescreen; Guillemot's music has been shifting and changing over the last decade, but she sounds moored on "hyphea", working in a fertile space between fourth world experimentalism, psychedelic trance eccentricity, and rhythmic, club-aware electronics.
Somehow, it sounds like Boards of Canada's early material if they'd been inspired by Shpongle rather than RZA. There's no dusty boom bap here, but Guillemot has the same dedication to quirky, documentary score electronics, hallucinatory vocals, and strong, memorable themes. 'foggi' is an unfussy example of this, lifted by airy synth chords and a stark, slow-motion beat that's not a million miles away from DJ Python's similarly horizontal "Mas Amable".
When Guillemot lets her ideas develop further, the album really begins to shine: 'smooshi' sounds exactly as the name suggests, propelled by a pliable rhythm and the kind of unstable rainforest atmospherics that Jon Hassell patented back in the 1970s; 'megafauna' meanwhile does a good job of twisting tabla whirrs into ethnographic liquid D&B. When she gets it right, Guillemot manages to write music that sounds like 21st century loungecore - queasy listening for young millennials and older Gen Zs who were dragged up listening to EDM rather than AOR or popular jazz.
Aussie trumpet player, composer and sound artist Peter Knight dissolves jazz and classical elements into a low-light requiem on "Shadow Phase", harmonizing well with music from Arve Henriksen, Leila Abdul-Rauf and Angelo Badalamenti.
Described by Knight as a "meditation on the nature of connection", "Shadow Phase" was created during Australia's strict 2020 lockdown, when residents of Melbourne/Narrm were restricted to a small 5km zone. During this period, Knight connected with his friend and teacher Ania Walwicz, who passed away later that year. This provoked the composer to consider Walwicz's process, which was created in dream states, attempting to find resonant words from the subconscious. It's interesting then that "Shadow Phase" is an instrumental album, relying on trumpet, synthesizer, harmonium and Revox reel-to-reel sounds to convey the mood.
Knight's trumpet parts are most impressive, and his loops - distorted with pedals and plugin chains, and saturated by 1/4" tape - form illusory clouds of lilting melancholy. Its an album that fits neatly on Room40, alongside evocative cinematic music from Rafael Anton Irisarri and dreamworld experimentation from Madeleine Cocolas.
Offering an alternate view of Arthur Russell's career, Love Is Overtaking Me brings together the massively influential artists folk and country compositions, recorded between his formative days in the '70s and his untimely death in 1992.
The first thing to strike you about album opener 'Close My Eyes' is how much Russell sounds like Townes Van Zandt - with a hint of James Taylor in his voice. He fits into the country sound wonderfully, coming across as effortlessly authentic without conforming too heavily to genre expectations. For instance, 'Goodbye Old Paint' features strings, woodwind and what sounds like droning sitar, bringing a welcome outsider angle to classic Americana song formats. Some of the later recordings venture more pronouncedly into edgier avant-pop (as on the uptempo new-wave/disco of 'Your Motion Says'), but regardless of the era, Russell seems able to embed something fresh and unmistakably his own within conventional songwriting tropes. A perfect introduction to Arthur Russell's oeuvre for uninitiated listener, as a collection of songs Love Is Overtaking Me is pretty hard to find fault with and very different to pretty much everything else in the known Arthur Russell canon. A real find - and a massive recommendation.
Rahiem Supreme links up with WiFiGawd on YUNG $AKS 5TH - a record that moves freely through old school hip hop to esoteric new school rap.
"Rahiem paints vivid imagery with his lyricism, reminiscent of Slick Rick’s storytelling where fact meets fiction, wit and charisma.
Both artists hail from Washington D.C. and it was inevitable they’d cross paths after bumping into each at mutual studio sessions. WiFi played Raheim some of his beats, they connected instantly and the collaboration was born. The album is produced entirely by WiFiGawd, who also features on ‘Run Shh Up’, alongside a guest feature from Al Divino on ‘Vintage Fendi’."
Simply deadly Afro-funk by Benin’s best to ever do it, compiling a superb primer overview spanning highlights of an extensive career
Like James Brown and Fela Kuti’s wildest dreams, Clément Mélomé’s T.P. Orchestra Poly-Rythmo distill the most effective bits of Afro-Cuban and West African rhythms with the fiery licks of US funk and its local sibling Afro-beat to incendiary degrees on this dozen flawless bombs.
It notably encompasses the restive badness of ‘It’s a Vanity’ with its sparking conga breaks and needlepoint drums, plus the electrifying highlife garage funk guitars of ‘Gbeti Ma Djro’ with its scorching yowl, and the sulkier Afro-Cuban tuck and parry of ‘Segla’, plus extended trips in a feel mode such as the 13 minutes of swaggering organ and drum chat in ’Gan Tche Kpo’, and another bustling rocket in ‘Medida’.
Midori Takada's "lost" 1999 solo album has been remixed by Takada herself and cut to vinyl for the very first time. If you've only come across "Through the Looking Glass", this one shines further light on her story, bolstering her usual percussion with a side-long team-up with Chinese erhu player Jiang Jian Hua.
When "Tree of Life" was released back in 1999, Midori Takada was a few years away from her YouTube algorithm-powered renaissance. The album was released on CD just for the Japanese market, and it's taken this long to reach the rest of the world. To make sure we get to hear it in its full detail, Takada herself has made a new audiophile mix, and remastered the album completely at half speed. We have to admit it sounds dazzlingly clean and clear - the first side is peak Takada, and shouldn't surprise anyone who discovered her via her bewilderingly popular debut "Through the Looking Glass". Playing marimba, drums, and bells, Takada constructs environmental structures that link disparate cultures via tonality and rhythm.
But it's the second side that has us completely giddy. Here Takada brings in virtuoso musician Jiang Jian Hua, a Chinese master of the erhu, the two-stringed bowed instrument that's commonly known as the Chinese violin. If you've spent any time watching Chinese historical movies or TV shows, it's a sound you'll be extremely familiar with. This material is incredibly unique, fusing Takada's percussive knowhow with Chinese traditional playing that bends to her open-minded approach. The blend of ideas and cultures is so simple and so complex simultaneously, always considered and always deeply moving. Sometimes the music hews closer to Chinese music, like on 'Modoki 1', and at others it drifts into Takada's marimba-heavy territory, with Hua following closely, mimicking Takada's staccato notes with quick, bowed flurries.
Hauntingly beautiful music - a true lost gem!
Irish label Weeding follow up their reissue of Stephan Mathieu's Wurmloch Variation with a debut LP from a young Irish artist Icebear, entitled White Dove Dream.
"The liminal space between storytelling and dreaming is full of noise. Like whispers, flickering lines of static travel to the rhythm of tension, moving through moments of stillness and chaos. The sharp details of the hyper-personal become shared memories.
Dreams can be stories, their fabric transient and their logic malleable - like folk songs carrying ancient knowledge or clairvoyant wisdom.
White Dove Dream tells a story that only sound can. One that defies language and closed narrative; a story that is both a personal rumination and collective conversation.
There are layers of healing synthesis and dream logic improvisation; captured recordings coalesce somewhere beneath the scramble like deja vu. Like a diary entry, or a manifesto - noise is folk music and Icebear is noisy.
Icebear is Eilis Mahon, a sound artist from Kildare, Ireland. White Dove Dream is her debut release on Weeding - an independent label and collective of friends based primarily in Dublin, Ireland, who love to make and share noise."
I Will Set You Free by Barry Admson, via Mute.
"Initially released in 2012, I Will Set You Free amalgamated elements of Barry’s previous work, resulting in an album that is unmistakably Barry Adamson.
Like many of Adamson’s records, the album is a genre odyssey that jumps from garage rock rock, to blues, to new-wave pop, with the adventurous brass section injecting an acid jazz touch. His overwhelming desire to examine cultural shifts and embrace them within the quest to improve oneself that often centres in Adamson’s art is clearly present in I Will Set You Free. This subsequently makes it a quintessential Barry Adamson record that fits right in with the back catalogue."
Part of a vital reissue program, The Pyramids’ 1974 salvo is a pinnacle of spiritual jazz deeply regarded for its extraordinary 18 minute work ’Nsorama (The Stars)’ plus other ecstasies.
One of those rare comets that comes back into orbit every so often, ’King of Kings’ makes its first earthly visit in a decade via Strut, along with the band’s other two LPs that helped bookend a short but incredible run of spiritual Afro-jazz classic between 1973-76. In between ‘Lalibela’ (1973) and ‘Birth / Speeding / Merging’ (1976), the ensemble co-founded and led since 1972 by Idris Ackamoor, Margaux Simmons and Kimathi Asante would achieve a peak of its powers in Paris before ultimately moving to San Francisco and disbanding by ’77, with ‘King of Kings’ remaining a full force feat of thunderous drumming, cascading instrumental colours and powerful voices amassed in celebration of hard won and newfound freedoms.
‘Mogho Naba (King of Kings)’ lights it off with a joyous stampede of percussion, wind, hammered keys and ecstatic vocals that arguably pave the way for the likes of Goat in the modern day, and the three-part ‘Queen of Spirits’ follows to more hard swingeing murmurations of galloping rhythm and jazz-funk, into some of the deadliest drumming you will ever hear, and a 3rd-eye gyring finale of communal beauty. The 18 minute highlight ’Nsorama (The Stars)’ simmers those energies down to a breezier, fluidly open structure of swaying harmonies and complex consonant/dissonant dialogue that really lets it all out, before collapsing into the sublime lushness of ‘My Africa’.
A heavyweight, foundational, spiritual jazz classic back in circulation, The Pyramids’ first LP, inspired by a trip to the Lalibela monastery in Egypt, is a masterpiece of rhythmic psychedelia and post-Coltrane and Cecil Taylor modal voodoo
Now appearing as part of Strut’s vital reissue programme, ‘Lalibela’ (1973) pays witness to Idris Ackamoor, Margaux Ackamoor, Kwame Kimanthi Asante, and Hekaptah flocking to a spirit prompted by their visit to the eponymous c.12th monastery, a site of pilgrimage for Coptic Christians. The recordings were made back in the US in Yellow Springs, early 1973 and was issued in edition of 500 as The Pyramids’ debut release. Originals understandably trade for triple figures, if you can find one, but thanks to the reissue machine it is now more widely available and deserves a place on the shelf of any self-respecting spiritual jazz fiend or indeed followers of heavy rhythmic Afro-American music.
In two extended, multi-part movements the ensemble’s ancestral communications manifest in deeply possesses rhythmic verve and ribboning lines of melodic thought led by Idris’ alto and tenor sax, joined by the bamboo flutes of Kwame and Tony Owens aka Masai. They all get down on drums too, with a wide range of Ugandan balafon, Moroccan clay drum, Ethiopian percussion, and the wooden Osi drum in a breathtaking rhythmelodic flow. It’s really best taken in one sitting, but make sure to check for the muscular breakbeat hustle and buzzing horns of ‘Rock Churches’, or ‘Ya A Ya A Ya A Ya A (Anubis Awakens) (Indigo Suite Part 2)’ and you’ll know exactly what to do next.
Tokyo veteran Takayuki Shiraishi of Vanity Records’ BGM regenerates his deep and broken ’97 techno album on Paris’ Camisole Records after their archival sets of his minimal post-punk and industrial works as MLD and Tristan Disco
Shimmying along the timeline to when Shiraishi was immersed in the club sound of late ‘90s Tokyo, ‘Photon’ follows the progression of electronic music from no wave disco and rhythm-based industrial minimalism to its iteration as a form of techno that echoed Detroit’s fetish for Japanese technology.
Exemplary of a double-refractive dialogue between the island, the Motor City, and strains of AI techno also inspired by the 313, the 10 tracks offer a lush bloom that gently nod to Model 500 via LFO and Susumu Yokota on a rolling trip from the pensile techno of ‘Graviton’ and the rhythmelodic impulses of ‘Clear’, to Balil or Jamie Hodge-like experiments with slow/fast ambient dance meter in ‘Fluorite’ and the twinkle-toed stepper ‘Clear Away’. The kaotic harmonies of Mayday and Model 500 patently inform ‘The vanishing Point’, and there’s a couple of gorgeous ambient works on the titular vignette and the Kraftwerkian waltz of ‘Afterglow’, plus a strident deep techno-house pearl ‘Blue Devided by Blue’.
Turner Prize-winning artist Tai Shani enlists cellist Maxwell Sterling and vocalist Molly Moody to soundtrack her painterly, poetic meditations on a feminized history of the rye fungus Ergot, commonly known as the chemical basis for LSD.
Accompanying a book of the same name, ‘The Neon Hieroglyph’ unfolds along two durational sides of processed strings and electronics that underline Molly Moody’s recital of Tai’s lyrics. Recalling works by everyone from Current 93 to Roy Claire Potter or Mike Ratledge, the work draws on the artist’s dilated feminist weltanschauung and her considerations on matters of scale from “the cellular to the galactic” with riffs on multiple perspectives encompassing “Paleolithic cave markings to the trace impressions left by drone photography on our mind's eye, incorporating dancing plagues, communist psychedelic witches, hyper-sexual fungi, chthonic descents, and skyward ascents.” It’s an ambitious work well done, applying Maxwell Sterling’s familiarity with atmospheric soundtrack strategies and vernacular to the subject matter in a symbiotic process that continues their work over the past years, often related to Maxwell’s mother, and Tai’s collaborator, the post-punk pioneer and acclaimed artist, Linder.
“The Neon Hieroglyph constructs a house of lyrical reflections for our ghosts to inhabit, a place where the gothic and the hallucinatory collide, where gothic affect and fractal dread form a mausoleum for psychedelic specters. And also the Sun! The Sun is a ghost that haunts the night! Framed with new essays by artist and writer Caspar Heinemann and anthropologist Amy Hale, Tai Shani's The Neon Hieroglyph continues a journey into the post-patriarchal fictions that animated her first collection, Our Fatal Magic.”
Know Where To Run by Barry Adamson, on Mute.
"Barry’s 2016 album, Know Where To Run, was produced by Barry himself and recorded in Brighton with Paul Pascoe, whilst WTNSS mixed and provided additional production at the legendary Dean Street Studios.
The concept behind the album emerged when Barry started taking photos during a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds North American tour, playing with the idea of traversing different states of the human condition and different states across America. The result was an audio/visual project inspired by these pictures, with the record being presented alongside a curated photobook."
Necessary reissue of The Pyramids’ 3rd and final album of their majestic mid ‘70s trio, a soaring, rhythmic psychedelic feast of spiritual Afro-jazz weft of myriad percussion and heavenly wind
The culmination of a peerless run, ‘Birth / Speed / Merging’ (1976) unleashes ancestral energies developed and distilled over the course of two previous albums and their trips to Africa. It speak sot rising consciousness of identity for Afro-American artists in the post-civil rights movement period that begat its creation, taking the lessons of John Coltrane’s modal music on a path adjunct Alice Coltrane’s spiritual jazz, with a deep focus on endless rhtyhmelody and their absorption of African instrumental traditions rendered lusher, denser than previous sides by the use of studio effects and overdubbing.
The hunched drums and chanting mantric procession of prelude ‘Aomawa (Part 1)’ sets up a pan-Afro tour in four movements, developing from the lushly atmospheric soundscaping of its title part to astonishing ‘Reaffirmation’ section pairing huge choral arrangements with ecstatic motorik drive and spooked out communal jam scenes, then into the swingeing ‘Jamaican Carnival’, and uniquely humid riches of ‘Black Man and Woman of the Nile’ where the studio-as-instrument tekkerz really come into play and sucks us in head first.
Two alternate versions of Sufjan Stevens' "Carrie & Lowell" fan favorite song 'Fourth of July', released just in time for Independence Day.
Stevens' original is one of his most moving songs, a dedication to his mother who died a decade ago sidesteps the playfulness of his usual fare in favor of tape-saturated piano and synthesized bass. But it wasn't always that way, this hard drive discovery from Stevens sheds new light on the song's genesis, with a stripped down elegiac version recorded at Justin Vernon's April Base studio in Wisconsin, and a minimal folk take recorded in Brooklyn.
FOLIE 2's Eingriffe via Themes For Great Cities.
"Following on from Folie's self titled album fcomes a packed 12" Maxi featuring versions and exclusive extra tracks.
Outsider B-Boy/Basshead TBZ throws out a surprise discofied remix while the great Toulouse Low Trax keeps it all stripped back, refined and German sexy... this is a hot hot 12"."
Massively important bassist/producer Melvin Gibbs, who's worked with everyone from John Zorn and Christian Marclay to Dead Prez and Femi Kuti, cracks open another doorway entirely on 'The Wave', using unsettled hi-end synthesis and lysergic minimal sound design to nudge into sonic spaces closer to Mika Vainio, Bernhard Günter, or Coil, infusing his tactile minimalism with the texture and language of Black creativity. Transfixing material.
This one's got us completely delirious. Best known as a bassist, Melvin Gibbs has been active on the NYC downtown circuit since the early 1980s, and he's always been able to keep a foot in different worlds. He's well-known for his jazz fusion work, and has recorded extensively with Sonny Sharrock and Ronald Shannon Jackson, but he's equally notorious for his time as a member of Rollins Band, and his more recent excursions with ex-Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker.
Less known is Gibbs' interest in sound art; friends of Gibbs knew about his experiments, but 'The Wave' is the first release that opens up this side of his oeuvre to the rest of us, and it's a revelation. We know what you're thinking: jazz noodling and electronic music, we've heard it before. You'd be wrong - this is startling, precision engineered sonic doom that's as calm-headed and spiritual as Bernhard Günter's best material and as sharp-fanged and untamed as anything in Mika Vainio's catalog. It's an antidote to the weekly cavalcade of Hollywood experimental full-lengths - there's mercifully no 24/96 clangs stretched over eerie, metallic strings; Gibbs travels into inner space here, using rumbling industrial electronics and burned-out oscillators to map out a platform that makes connections between Miles Davis, Sunn O))), Lee 'Scratch' Perry, and Slikback.
Gibbs was ushered towards the process by decades of back-and-forth with his good friend Arthur Jafa, an artist and cinematographer who's worked with Spike Lee, Solange, and John Akomfrah, among many others. Jafa's artistic goal was to make films that guided creative thinkers in the same way that Black music did, and Gibbs took this as a challenge, studying pivotal filmmakers like Sergei Eisenstein and wondering how that approach might help trigger a musical revelation. He began to experiment with sound design using the Kyma system, and worked on soundtracks to two of Jafa's films in 2009 and 2013, naming his bass-heavy output "sonics" in the process. Gibbs connects the music to "rootwork", a traditional African-American folk medicine that's a potent blend of herbalism, psychotherapy, and ritualism. To Gibbs the practice is a form of magick that's not too far removed from his own, wherein he attempts to make tangible objects from liquid sounds. All of this energy passes into "The Wave" - initially another commission from Jafa - and seems to manifest in Gibbs' disquieting assemblies of booming subs, hard-EQed scratches, and insectoid oscillations. It's music without genre that doesn't look directly to camera and assure you how free it is; it just exists in the way it does because it has to. It's music that has evolved from experience, expertise, trauma, history, and serious research, and it's music that's as rooted in Black magickal folklore as Coil's is in the British occult.
Just as New England percussionist Jake Meginsky used the instructional logic of vanguard drummer Milford Graves to dissolve techno formulae into bubbling bleeps on 2016's 'Seven Psychotropic Sinewave Palindromes', Gibbs travels a similar path, using his outsized knowledge of jazz to expand a picture of electronic minimalism that passes the expected state lines. We've mentioned a lot of different artists here but - the truth is - 'The Wave' doesn't sound quite like any of them - it's a mass of yawning, animalistic bass frequencies, pricked by dissociated hi-frequency echoes; it's doom metal buried deep underground, then rescued and re-assembled by a future civilization; it's unstable ritual drum music that's slipping in psychedelic, primordial slop. Gibbs has done something remarkable, coming up with sound art that's at once unsettlingly alien and beautifully, fallibly human.
We didn't know we'd been waiting for this one, but it's just what 2022 had been missing. Absolutely phenomenal.
Best Piece Of Shit Vol. 4 compiles The Hated's D.I.Y. debut cassette, the No More We Cry EP, and 14 period bonus tracks.
"Draped in a flag of patriotic shame, the Hated stormed onto the scene just as D.C.’s Revolution Summer was swerving out of control. Channeling Bad Brains’ Black thrash and Hüsker Dü’s zen approach to hardcore, Dan Littleton, Erik Fisher, Colin Meeder, and Mike Bonner synthesized their own version of what became emo in 1985. This Hated-approved set captures a band, a scene, and a country on the verge of either exploding or imploding. Never said it’d be like this, right?"
Spring-heeled punky reggae steppers and coiled disco-not-disco on the axis of The Slits to Maximum Joy, Dinosaur L and Tapes
Sounding like they sprang from an Amsterdam studio sometime in 1979, The Mauskovic Dance Band are the aural equivalent of a bag of whizz, eight Amstel and some ‘Dam bleed. Peppy as fuck, then groggy, they brings a real fervour and schwag to every tune with revving basslines propelling the chipping guitars and yelping vox with ludicrous amounts of energy, but also enough buttoned-up discipline to keep it all in line and knowing when to switch pace.
Like their previous turns with Dekmantel and Soundway, ‘Bukaroo Bank’ is straight up for the good times, wielding killer descending vamps and congas on the title tune, and wiggling the hips on a quick disco trotter ‘Face’ that practically references Arthur Russell’s Dinosaur L. ‘Wie net we is is gezien’ could almost be mistaken for The Slits lost in Two-Tone era Cov, and there’s weirder echoes of Jameszoo int he wiry oddball ‘Bebi’.
However the 2nd half sounds like they had a zoot mid-set and changed pace, resulting the post-punk dub ace ‘Dr Rhythm Space’, and plonging stepper ‘Telefoon Dub’, plus slower variants of ‘Buckaroo Bank’ with its sloshing nyabinghi drums, and the heads down bop ‘Slow Crack’.
Essential 10th anniversary reissue of Polish mainstay Piotr Kurek's crossbreed of early electronics, 20th century minimalism, and kosmische music - something like Laurie Spiegel, Raymond Scott, and Philip Glass, via Elysia Crampton.
Warsaw-based artist Piotr Kurek put together 'Edena' after a run of releases for labels including Portuguese imprint Crónica and Digitalis Limited. It appeared initially on his own Sangoplasmo label, before being snapped up for reissue by Italian experimental stable Black Sweat, and while it fits neatly into the experimental landscape of the era (think Francesco De Gallo, Rene Hell, and Emeralds), it might make even more sense now. This year's 'World Speaks' was one of the most lightheaded sets we've come across in a while, carefully simulating memory with odd-bod MIDI vocal sequences and boss-eyed organ solos; "Edena" puts it further into perspective, revealing not only the root of some of Kurek's more recent material but a similar desire for batshit artistic fusion.
Kurek buffs a little of 20th century minimalism's sheen away, reimagining Philip Glass's weighty scores or Laurie Spiegel's meditative synthwork by piercing it with the Radiophonic Workshop's giddy, gleeful fatuousness. Kurek makes serious music that doesn't take itself too seriously; it's not sloppily put together, but there's no way to listen to the operatic MIDI voices on 'Goddess Eye' without picturing Kurek's wry smile. By using sounds in this way and blending the perceived cheapness of MIDI soundfont elements with relatively more elevated modular synth and organ bleeps, Kurek makes a subtle statement about the hierarchy of sound.
If a single track is removed from the whole experience, it might not make complete sense - in a vacuum, a track like 'Becoming Light' might just sound like a gently shifting cosmic soundscape. In context, it breathes life into Kurek's teeming landscape; 'Tonal Colors' comes quickly afterwards, weaving pitch-fucked sampled vocals into the same Reich-cum-Delia backdrop of chiming synth blips and nursery organs, and it's clear Kurek is trying to usher us into his private surrealist hedge maze. The seemingly looping phrases don't quite match, and each wordless vocal "ooh" takes on more weight now that computer-rendered voices have become so commonplace in the TikTok era.
In some ways the album sounds like an attempt to reconcile the echoes of an analog past with a democratized digital future, and Kurek's evenhanded treatment of all his sounds shows us that our projected value is nothing but that - a barely-audible whisper of the past that no longer has any relevance when one sample is basically the same zeroes and ones as the next.
Antinote's compilation 10 Years of Loving Notes (And foolin' around).
"Hugging the bend and blowing kisses since 2012, Antinote has been a vessel of choice for lovers of left-of-centre dance music and retro-laced boogie. Covering a supremely wide range of styles, the Parisian outlet has carved out a musical lane truly its own by putting on a nonstop celebration of electronics’ inexhaustible power of enthralment. A pledge of quality-driven curation and never-ending search for the next thrill that’s proven untiringly relevant throughout the years and opens onto its second decade of existence with equal panache.
Toasting to its ten years splashing the game with continuously reasserted outsider bravura, label captain Zaltan has bottled some of the finest expressions out Antinote’s versatile vaults of sound to form the present “X” compilation, “ten years of loving notes and foolin around 2012-2022". From totem animal IUEKE’s oddball musique concrète (“fiano-church") to the the candid synth-pop of Latvian outfit Domenique Dumont (“La Dolce Vita”), via Feminielli’s outré mix of ghetto-house and ominous croon (“Nobody’s Boy”) and Tel-Aviv vibist Alek Lee’s signature synth-splattered 80s wave (“Different Plans”), it’s a smorgasbord of colours and vibrations that prepares to avalanche across your sound system."
Pinch us; it's real! Audika unleash a vintage-fresh stash of tunes from Arthur Russell's archive, marking one of the most substantial, posthumous dispatches of his unreleased material to date.
At this point, Arthur should need little introduction - he's arguably among thee most important, yet neglected, American composer/song-writers of the 20th century - so we'll skip the skooling and run to the music. There are nine songs, of which five are actually alternate and previously unheard versions of much-loved classics, while the other four are completely unheard, and also plucked from his notoriously "unfinished" stockpile of some 1,000 tapes. Collected, they form a release that was originally shelved by Russell's label, Sleeping Bag Records, in 1985, partly due to a fall-out around his 'Wax The Van' 12". It's full of his uniquely slanted, mutant takes on hip hop, electro and disco with that inimitable, innately avant-pop twist; spanning the droning, folksy disco wormhole of 'Corn' and its studio-wigged, ten minute reprise, shredded up with distorto cello and nuff dub FX, thru to a spine-freezing pair of odd-popsicles in the slow buzzing chamber piece, 'They And Their Friends', and the lushly chaotic whorl of 'Ocean Movie', surely the wildest combination in his (available) catalogue?! The alternate mixes/edits are awesome, too: offering a febrile, noisy mix of our percy, 'See My Brother, He's Jumping Out (Let's Go Swimming #2)', and an hypnotically slompy, salty extension of 'This Is How We Walk On The Moon', plus a sweetly discordant new play on 'Hiding Your Present From You'. They're all a joy to behold, and, quite importantly, give lots of room to his noisier, avant sensibilities, just in case folk forget that he was anything but narrow minded. It's a valuable lesson from the vaults that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.
Whew! Death is Not the End mint their reissue label 333 with Devon Russell’s sweet-as-honey reggae soul tribute to Curtis Mayfield, replete with thizzing falsetto vox, swaying horns and proper, shiny early ‘90s digital production .
Originally issued in ’93 but containing songs written as far back as ’79, ’Darker Than Blue’ is full of smouldering late night blues whose appeal has perhaps only depend with 30 year of marination. It counts a stellar roll-call (Sly Dunbar, Aston "Family Man" Barrett, Earl "Wire" Lindo, Dean Fraser, Bobby Ellis, Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, Prince Lincoln Thompson and many others - plus production & arrangement from Earl "Chinna" Smith, Sly Dunbar & King Tubby's Firehouse Crew) backing Russell’s takes on the likes of ‘Move On Up’ and ‘Keep On Moving’, with particular highlights in the FM synth-toned shimmy of ‘Songs on Sirene’, the lovers sway of ‘The making of You’, and nice ’n easy stroller ‘Give Me Your Love’ which appears to channel Mayfield via Grace Jones.
“"The concept for Darker Than Blue dates back to 1979. Returning from South Amerrica with my partner (in duo Lloyd & Devon) Lloyd Robinson, we did "Red Bum Ball" which had been a massive hit in the 60's. It was around this time that Earl Chinna Smith (of The Wailers and Soul Syndicate fame) approached me with the idea of re-making some Curtis Mayfield songs. "Darker Than Blue" was the first track we did, followed by "Move On Up" in 1981, both of which received great reviews.
On returning to Jamaica from a UK tour in 1986, my good friend King Tubby had taken on five men from my school of music from which the Firehouse Crew were born. Within 3 years they had matured to become Jamaica's No.1 instrumental band, winning the Rockers award. Then in the spring of 1990, together we managed to record the album "Money, Sex & Violence", during a tour of the UK & France, on which we did Mayfield's "Give Me Your Love". The track was played to Steve Barrow who suggested we do more Curtis tracks.
Sly Dunbar and I have known each other for as long as I can remember. We grew up in the same hood and used to jam regularly in our youth. I told Sly about the further Mayfield tracks I wanted to do and he agreed that it would be a good idea. So Sly, myself and The Firehouse Crew went to work at the Leggo Studios in Kingston, Jamaica and created the remaining tracks for the Darker Than Blue LP, a tribute to Curtis Mayfield.
We grew up on the sounds of Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions. Everyone in Jamaica loved them. His death was a terrible thing, but while there is life, there is hope."
- Devon Russell, 1994.”