Codes In The Clouds celebrate their tenth anniversary with the first vinyl edition of their seminal debut album Paper Canyon.
All kinds of epic, Codes In The Clouds' Paper Canyon strives (and indeed attains) a state of textbook post-rock euphoria that incorporates the emotive tug of Sigur Ros, the finely constructed guitar interplay of Explosions In The Sky and the unfeasibly immense crescendos of Mono in one handy package. The band pull all this together wonderfully well, and while you might not be able to pronounce Paper Canyon as an especially innovative piece of work within its genre (although 'We Anchor In Hope' has an uncommonly subtle, slow-burning romanticism about it), it's easily one of the most refined and complete sounding instrumental post-rock long-players of recent times.
Jawdropping and genuinely neo soul music from FKA Twigs and stellar co-production talent, Alejandro Ghersi aka Arca.
It's quite possible that you're one of the half-million odd who've already watched the stunning videos for this EP's biggest tunes, 'Water Me', or 'How's That', but even if you haven't, there's still two brand new beauties exclusive to this single.
The A-side commits the liquid crystal 3D refractions of 'How's That', with its aching vocal and polymetric swirl, beside new bit, 'Papi Pacify' - a stunning piece of octave-vaulting vocals and crushing but snakily elusive drum weight from Arca - whilst the B-side makes physical the digital fantasia of the incredible 'Water Me' - one of this year's best pop songs, bar none - and another exclusive stunner, 'Ultraviolet' rending Ms FKA as an isolated digital siren swarmed by her inverse and alien reflections against a gyroscopic backdrop of quasi-speed magma beats and dynamically diffuse chords.
Cosmically-attuned spirits Sarah Davachi and Ariel Kalma coax the best out of each other in this sublime elision of electro and acoustic waves for Italy’s Black Sweat Records.
‘Intemporal’ documents the pair’s one day recording session in Australia, 2015, following initial contact when Sarah opened up for Ariel Kalma and Robert A.A. Lowe’s Vancouver show, touring in support of the ‘We Know Each Other Somehow’ album. Sarah brought her Arp Odyssey synthesiser and a looper, and Ariel elected to use his tempura for harmonics, together with a harmonium for drones, plus his keyboard/laptop/Ableton/plugins for effects, and a saxophone for melodies. The results are hard to describe as anything other than richly mystical and intoxicating, with Davachi reaching far beyond what we’ve heard from her before, while simultaneously, and beautifully, tempering Kalma’s energies.
Where Kalma reaches for the skies, Sarah’s contributions feel more rooted, and the music they create together comes to inhabit a weightless mid-air of purely “Good Vibes”, in Kalma’s own words. But any verbal description is an afterthought, as the pairing instinctively operate on a non-verbal plane of intuition, with each artist subtly supporting the other’s gestures; whether it’s Sarah underlining Kalma’s flighty sax with undulating drones, or Kalma pulling Sarah’s keening ARP lines into his orbit, their efforts are always harmoniously calibrated.
If you’re expecting another achingly quiet Davachi suite, you’ll have to think again. But if you’re open to the idea of her in a celestial duet with one of the world’s celebrated new age se’ers, we can vouch that you’re in for a mesmerising excursion.
Soul Jazz Records release flautist Lloyd McNeill’s album ‘Treasures’ (1976). Originally issued on the artists’ own private press Baobab label in New York, the album is a serious collectors’ piece, a heavyweight and fascinating fusion of deep and spiritual jazz sensibilities blended with Brazilian and Latin rhythms and melodies.
"Lloyd McNeill is a cultural polymath - a multi-disciplinarian flautist, painter, academic, poet, and photographer - who as a musician has worked with everyone from Mulatu by Picasso!). McNeill grew up during the era of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and his life and work is a reflection of those ideals. All of his music was only ever released on his own private-press record label, echoing the Civil Rights and African-American themes of the era - black economic empowerment and self-sufficiency - and there is a beautiful spirituality in all his music. In the late 1960s McNeill became teacher of both jazz and painting at the New Thing Art and Architecture Center in Washington and in 1969 he was the first African- American professor hired to teach African-American Music History, at Rutgers University.
As part of these academic studies McNeill travelled extensively throughout Brazil between 1971-76, studying Afro-Brazilian music. On his first trip to Brazil he met the pianist Dom Salvador, leader of the fusion group Aboliçao and over the next few years worked with many Brazilian musicians including the guitarist Paulinho da Viola, saxophonist Paolo Moura and singer Martinho da Villa. On his return to New York in 1973 he formed a regular and fluid live group that included Brazilian players Dom Salvador, Nana Vasconceles and Portinho as well as many heavyweight jazz musicians such as Ron Carter, Cecil McBee, Marcus Miller, Charlie Rouse, Bob Cranshaw and many more.
‘Treasures’ was the culmination of this intense period for McNeill, fusing Brazilian, jazz and Latin sensibilities together. The album features McNeill on flute, Cecil McBee on bass, Dom Salvador on piano and three percussionists - the Brazilian multiinstrumentalist Portinho, Latin percussionist Ray Armando and jazz drummer Brian Brake. This is the fourth Lloyd McNeill album that Soul Jazz Records have released and follows on from the earlier albums ‘Asha’ (1969), ‘Tanner Suite’ (1969) and ‘Washington Suite’ (1970), all of which are being re-pressed to coincide with this new release."
Heavy swanging Euro acid dancehall and slow, slugging EBM from the ‘Dam’s Identified Patient, Job Veerman, going low key and burning for Dekmantel’s UFO Series
‘The Drip’ locks into killer mode with something like Toulouse Low Trax and Dirk Desaever on a cyber bogle; ‘Let Me Do It’ pushes a toiling EBM wind tunnel momentum; ‘Chantals Chant’ yokes back a wicked acid bounce; and ‘Lucy’s Comeback’ rounds out with a mean Goa Trance on 33-not-45rpm torque.
Shifted’s Avian makes its 1st move of 2019 with Plant Army Revolver’s immersive batch of keening, serene, but menacing ambient/dub/techno
In five steps the Italian duo escalate the vibe from super spacious, gaseous designs in ‘Alpaca Vision’, to a probing sort of electro-dub in ‘Annapurna Ritual’, and proper, swollen, subaquatic dynamics in ‘Macao’, before turning a corner into effortlessly rolling minimal techno with the fluid ride of ‘Borneo Memories’, and a hypnotic bleep-techno stepper, ‘Yguana’.
Kangding Ray mints his own label, Ara, with a typically tweaky return to the ‘floor, two years after his ‘Hyper Opal Mantis’ album and foundation of his Sums collaboration with Mogwai’s Barry Burns
Establishing Ara as a place for “organic, emotional club music, for the body and mind” Ray follows thru on that idea with four tracks of subtly emotionally wrought electronics set to agitated techno rhythms, delivering highlights in the hypnotic psy-trance rolige of ‘Orcan Tears’, and a strip of beatless, elusive timbral thizz called ‘Trade on Azul.’
UK dubstep veteran J. Sparrow cuts back to Mala’s Deep Medi for his sophomore album, and first in 9 years
It’s a big bag of weighty ones, most impressively so in the rave-ready seethe of ‘Computer World’, the nervy stepper ‘Run For The Border’, and the Peverelist-style deft touch of ’Ndidi’.
Dome’s opiated but agitated 2nd album arrives via a crucial reissue scheme on Editions Mego, finding Wire guys Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis further getting to grips with their reorganised Blackwing Studios set-up.
Following Dome 1’s pretty much unprecedented vacillation of ghostly pop songs and sculpted noise, the duo’s 2nd LP finds them mining deeper into the foundations of avant-rock to coax out strange, plasmic forms of minimalist dirge set to slow, jagged rhythms and lysergic vox.
Arriving a year after their first effort, ’2’ documents their further ventures at Eric Radcliffe’s legendary Blackwing Studios (site of seminal recordings by Yazoo and Depeche Mode) after they had spent a lot of intense session reorganising their set-up. The result is an inimitably druggy, enchanted record that slips listeners into a strange state of mind.
‘The Red Tent I’ opens with a gentle transition from the sublime into menacing darkness, while ’The Red Tent II’ follows with a mean pre-echo of sludgy, grungy stoner rock, and ‘Breathsteps’ pushes that vibe down the rabbit hole into a sort of cranky, clangorous free jazz. Side B then opens with the spectral guitar harmonics and distant laughter of ‘Reading Prof. B’, leading into the album’s trippiest pieces with the mogadon rock ’n roll freak ‘Ritual View’ and the psychotomimetic charge of ‘Twist Up’, before it all calves off into the menacing ambience of ‘Keep It’, and we’re left wondering what the eff just occurred.
What a deeply strange and wonderful record.
Tightly coiled. dubwise D&B from Breakage, back for the 4th 12” on his Index label
A-side fires off a jump-up barrage of amen breaks and bouncing bomb bassline in ‘Yeah’, before he tucks the rhythm tighter, aerodynamic a la DJ Krust or Digital with the B-side’s ‘Liff Up’, and the atmospheric pressure release of ‘Wicked’.
Die Schachtel inaugurate the Decay Music imprint for “ambient, ethereal, and emotively abstract” contemporary music with a hitherto unknown hook-up between industrial pioneer Maurizio Bianchi, Saverio Evangelista (Esplendor Geometrico), and Juan Manuel Cidrón
Each respected in their niche, the trio converge on a stark and sparse sound woven from lonely solo piano and extra subtle atmospheric disturbances. The two pieces unfold in stately procession with ‘Besoch Trauma’ gathering from streams of sylvan drone, dusky field recordings and looming concrète spectres into a distressed solo piano coda that peals and warbles with aquality recalling Akira Rabelais’ sublime creep. The piece follows thru onto the B-side and into more hauntingly glassy, windswept dimensions, with the keys dropping out to leave us wondering how we got here, sand returning like recollected glimpses in the thick of The Caretaker’s later stages.
“Slow, sophisticated, and a deeply meditative, minimalist wonder, Besoch Trauma progresses like a melancholic dream - the slow wilting of sounds, pondering their own rebirth. Repetitive and restrained piano lines rise among drifting synthesiser tones and textural ambiances, fall away and return, fracture, break, stagger, and distort across the entirety of the albums first side, while murky, implacable sounds breed with flirting electronics and piano, sculpting the vast expanse of abstraction which emerges across the entirety of the second - clattering and droning, filled with air, fading melodies, and rippling tones - the inorganic rising as a synthetic vision of the natural world, and a music which entirely refuses to say what it is.
Two slow burning sides, unfolding with greater depth at every turn, across Besoch Trauma Bianchi, Evangelista, and Cidrón, joined as Vértice, build rich tapestry of creatively challenging sound - a hypothetical imagining of historic minimalism and ambient music, bred with industrial and punk. Dark, inhabitable, and unquestionably beautiful.”
First vinyl edition of 1997’s ‘Khmer’, a groundbreaking album for Jazz and modern classical label ECM, featuring Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær channelling Miles Davis in a late ‘90s jazz-fusion style, replete with house and D&B-referencing rhythms
“Massive beats and throbbing grooves underpin the Norwegian trumpeter's fiery solos in a project that forms a bridge between ECM's improvised soundscapes and the brave new world of trip-hop, drum'n'bass, ambient/illbient, techno, industrial, electronica and samples. Nils Petter Molvær may be best known for his jazz work - with most of the leading Scandinavian players and with Elvin Jones, Gary Peacock, and George Russell - but he also has vast experience as a rock sessioneer. Khmer brings jazz's freedom and pop/rock's sound potential together.”
The Lifted ensemble return for a second, fluid jazz excursion on their new album for PAN, this time with an expanded lineup that includes Beatrice Dillon, Bass Clef, Jordan GCZ, Dawit Eklund, Will DiMaggio, Aya (OOIOO) and Martin Kasey, plus Future Times boss Max D and fellow core members Matt Papich aka Co La, Jeremy Hyman and Motion Graphics. Sublime, late night listening for smoked-out jazz heads and fans of anything from Move D's Conjoint to those excellent first couple of Flanger EP's from Burnt Friedman and Uwe Schmidt.
In a further loosening of the jazz screws from their debut album, the group’s frameworks on ‘2’ feel even more open-ended and dynamic this time around. With classic finesse, their Baltimore studio is beautifully applied as an instrument, becoming a primary tool and practically a member of the band, which allows for a frictionless exchange of ideas and energies from the original ‘70s fusion groundbreakers to flow into a lush, hyper-present. In that sense Max D and the central processing unit of Papich, Hyman and Williams play a sort of Teo Macero-like role, acting as a crucial bloc of filters and editors for the players’ dextrous blind takes.
With exacting sleight-of-hand executed in both the performance and extended post-production studio techniques, they arrive at gently psychedelic conclusions in seven parts, creating an amorphous sound stage where they project images of a melting 4th world in opener ‘Now More Than Ever’, while Beatrice Dillon’s mouth-watering synth pads and Motion Graphics’ silvery piano bring that halcyon Hassellian feel teasingly close on ‘Mirror In MY Room’, before flirting with the ‘floor on the balmy swing of ‘Rose’, exquisitely lit up with Martin Kasey’s sax and Sami’s spirited flute.
Deep, highly atmospheric late night blissouts.
Classically retro-styled synth vistas beamed from Melbourne’s Leo James, leading on form his 12” for Berceuse Heroique and Body Language
“Infinity is the new release by Melbourne-based Leo James, and the second Patience production. Leo scratches a longstanding itch and delivers two sidelong excursions that inhabit a similar sonic space but spin off in opposite directions on the continuum.
Desert Nightflower hums with vitality in a seemingly lifeless landscape. Impressionistically tracing the lifecycle of a flower’s bloom in the desert night – from the searing afternoon sun through dusk’s chill, the midnight blossoming and symbiotic relationship with travelling bats, through the blue hour comedown to first light – Leo employs vibrant, buzzing electronics, plaintive strings and levitating clarinet to illustrate beauty’s brief conquest of nature’s harshest environment, with vividly evocative and deftly moving results.
After Desert Nighflower floats completely off the grid, an ever-present kickdrum drives Infinity’s near 20-minute trip into timelessness. Sharing Side A’s subliminal synthesised hum and free-form clarinet, Infinity moves fast and firm down a dub techno dirt road towards the end of time. As elements drop in and out of the mix, Infinity builds momentum to a pulsing, cathartic peak of poignant piano, ethereal keys and lucid clarinet expressions.
As an avid nature enthusiast, spatial awareness looms large in Leo’s work. His solo releases on Berceuse Heroique, Neubau and his own label Body Language have been inspired incarnations of techno, EBM, industrial and wave.”
Nifty pic'n'mix soundsystem flex from Andy Mac, stepping away from House to nimbly work with slower tempos and classically skooled dub FX. Proper.
He's joined by a Richard Blackbarrow channelling Jackie Mittoo in the simmering organ riffs that dance over ‘Dawner’ on the A-side, while ‘Tawny Grammar’ takes the vibe outdoors with sounds of running water and tropical bird calls fringing a sloshing Nyabinghi phrase and scooping subbass to absorbing effect.
All City soluble New Info swerve into dream-pop with the enchanted debut by Dublin’s Bitflower bb
“Mastalgia is a 6 track ethereal pop record produced by Bitflower Bb throughout 2017 - 2018 and released in 2019 on label New Info.
Mastalgia is a collection of bedroom pop songs born out of urban mornings and suburban evenings. The record was made as a companion for dusk walks and light of dawn commutes along Dublin streets. The songs endeavour to slow the flickering blur of urban routine and celebrate the personal narratives imbued along the city's laneways, windows, walls, telephone cables, and bicycle lanes.
Each track echoes a delicate appreciation of private daily journeys, saturated in memory, hope and imagination. The word mastalgia itself denotes the common, cyclical breast pain, which most women experience frequently and without utterance. Providing pacifying melodic remedies for growing pains, Mastalgia nurtures the cultivation of treasured private space, from the heart of it’s producer to the heart of the listener.
Bitflower Bb is a side project of Dublin based DJ and producer Dream~cycles.”
Wolfgang Voigt’s deeply romantic, terrifying Gas classic, ‘Königsforst’ returns to vinyl on its 20th anniversary reissue, re-cut over 3LP for optimal immersion.
Finally available following its appearance within the Gas ‘Box’, this is the definitive 8-track vinyl edition of the 3rd instalment to one of deep, ambient dub-techno’s most revered catalogues.
Originally issued by Mille Plateaux in 1998, ‘Königsforst’ is an ideal example of Wolfgang Voigt’s turn away from his early ‘90s acid rave classics toward a more Teutonically-refined hybrid of classical elegance and inexorable techno momentum.
More specifically, the tracks distill Voigt’s experience of walking in the Black Forest into a sort of rhythm-driven meditation, creating a space for reflection upon always-the-same/always-different repetition that most beautifully encourages the mind of the listener to wander, ponder and arrive at similarly rarified conclusions.
In other words it’s a stone cold classic.
Gerry Read appears to take a leaf from the good book of Finn with the charmingly positive soul infusion of ‘It’ll All Be Over’ for DJ Koze’s Pampa Records, replete with a Koze remix
The floorboard-stomping kick and bluesy soul hustle of ‘It’ll All Be Over’ is surely destined for a thousand and one festivals, BBQs, and headphone commutes over the summer months, while the Shake-meets-Todd Edwards flavour of ‘Satyricon’ is a nicely, ruffle-feathered afterthought.
On the remix, DJ Koze emphasises the inherent disco thrust of ‘It’ll Be All Over’ with more slappin’ bass drum and measured build for those who need it cleaner.
Nearly 30 years since their debut, Plaid remain supple in their exploration of crafty syncopation and off-key IDM harmonics on their 10th studio album
Yielding their first new material since 2016, ’Polymer’ sees Ed Handley and Andy Turner locate ever more playful electroid angles to their sound while getting further under the skin of its mechanics and making it writhe and pucker from the inside out.
The preceding single tracks ‘Maru’ and ‘Recall’ account for two of the LP’s biggest highlights, along with the tendon-twang funk of ‘Drowned Sea’, and a signature piece of fluffy melancholy in ‘Dancers’.
Hannah Rodgers returns with a new Pixx album, ‘Small Mercies’, released on 4AD.
Although love lives at the heart of her second album, it has little to do with romance. ‘Small Mercies’ is absolutely not a heartbreak record, nor is it a celebration of new love, or sisterly call-toarms or vengeful catharsis. Instead, it is a series of poetic examinations of love across the experiential spectrum, from the micro (self-love) to the macro (devotional faith-inspired love, love for this planet), set to a soundtrack that mixes electronic pop and grungy guitar rock with aplomb.
‘Small Mercies’ follows the 23 year-old’s debut album, ‘The Age Of Anxiety’ (2017) - an unsettling synth-pop record fuelled by Pixx’s own debilitating experience of angst - and 2015’s forlorn and folkedged ‘Fall In’ EP. Co-produced by Simon Byrt (who worked on both her EP and debut album) and Dan Carey, it sees Pixx assuming different personas to examine the damage done by religion, gender-based power hierarchies and stereotypes, the tipping point of Earth’s destruction and love."
Debut collaboration between like-minded English underground titans, perfectly mixing the long-form pop eccentricities of Grumbling Fur with the free electric sound of Astral Social Club to produce four epic and memorable tracks.
"The music is dense and layered, with hidden hooks, haunting vocals, unidentifiable electronic shuddering, delicate ambience, etc. Challenging but completely accessible and beautiful stuff. After a brief vocal declaration of purpose, “Back To The Egg” rides a motorik pulse ala Harmonia or Kraftwerk for ten hypnotic minutes. “Three Years Apart” pulses gently in a burbling cloud, reminding that along with crafting song gems, Grumbling Fur has collaborated with noted avantcomposer / performer Charlemagne Palestine. “Ozone Antifreeze Intelligence” layers electronics over a haunting piano and vocal melody, framed by subliminal fuzz guitar. “Toejam Boxdrum” closes the album with an uproarious polyrhythm hidden by more layers of soft-focus electrofizz, gradually giving way to thick bass riffs and tremelo’d interjections."
Penelope Trappe’s excellent 2nd album remixed by Mogwai, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Paul Corley, Nik Colk Void, Aasthma, Félicia Atkinson and many others.
Mogwai supply a weatherbeaten rework of ‘Burn On’; Cosey Fanni Tutti isolates the vocal from ‘Carry Me’ with effect with enigmatic magick deafened by her own, smeared brass lines, Paul Corley diffuses ‘Nite Hive’ into somnambulant tranquility, and Nik Colk Void reworks the same elements with a dry rhythmic punch. Peder Mannerfelt & Pär Grindvik’s Aasthma turn ‘Connector’ into a febrile piece of hardcore dream-pop; and Félicia Atkinson sees the LP out with a sublime aesthetic flipside to Mogwai’s take on ‘Burn On’ full of quiet, sunny day promise.
Fracture galvanises OG jungle and footwork flexes with exacting, up-to-date production for his 1985 Music label.
Swing Ting’s Fox lends an original Caribbean sweetness to the vacuum-tight jump-up rolige and pinched early rave stabs of ‘Give Me Love’ before the instrumentals roll out fully between the clenched/lush hardstep pressure of ‘Feel 4 U’, the barrelling Digital-style rolige of ‘Realise’ with Alix Perez, and the bouncing bomb, ‘Brothers and Sisters’.
Terrific single from Lukid, on Werk Discs / Ninja Tune backed with remixes from 1991 & Mass Prod.
'This Dog Can Swim' is a kind of discombobulated dancehall-techno, with cut-up, distorted martial snares, which rather than claiming centre-stage, become happily absorbed into a gorgeous melodic architecture that'll stay with you for a long time to come; You could compare the effect to that of Anthony Shakir's more out-there gear, and that's obviously quite a compliment. 1991's remix is appropriately moody, strung-out slow-house, and impressive in its own right - though it feels like a tiny bit of the magic of Lukid's original is lost in the translation; for us Mass Prod does a craftier job of it, toughening up the track for the dance but letting the chords breathe in the gaps between the rib-jabbing, footworkish snares.
'This Dog Can Run' is another exquisite Lukid original: dream music for worn-out raver-romantics, with shades of AFX/Polygon Window's most crepuscular, heart-rending themes, and a sci-fi grandeur to its synth progressions that never feels cloying.
Nathan Micay (Bwana) tackles Bollywood and psych rock in the 3rd instalment of his personal edits series
Up top, ‘Koi Jaye To Le Aaye’ is taken from an R.D. Burman soundtrack and remodelled with a bubbling, crunchy groove, while Can Am Des Puig’s psych rock jag ‘I Am That Living Soul’ is turned into a sort of proto-Goan trance flight on the flip.