Perennially bewildering polymath Akira Rabelais unveils the most impressive durational work of his career thus far with a 4 hour smudge of classical works by the musical zeitgeist of the late 19th and early 20th century Belle Époque. It’s a highly enigmatic erosion x sublimation of the familiar in a way that's by now etched into modern canon thanks to works by The Caretaker, but Rabelais has been weaving his own uncanny shroud of infidelity over our collective memory for over two decades now, with this extended set somehow managing to play like a homage to the mixtape, to the novel, to French pre-war culture and to the modern malaise all at once. Deeply immersive, stunning work that’s essential listening if yr into works by The Caretaker x William Basinski.
The focus of the set covers the time period and culture around Proust’s 'À la recherche du temps perdu’ novels, and attempts to unravel his fascination with the illusive qualities of memory - most famously identified in his notion of “Proust’s madelaines”, outlined in the eponymous novels that inspired this release. Taking fifty-one works by Bartók, Bellini, Berg, Brahms, Caccini, Chausson, Chopin, Debussy, Delibes, Donizetti, Franck, Hahn, Jungmann, Lully, Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Satie, Schoenberg, Schubert, Schumann, Scriabin, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Wagner, and Weber, Rabelais uses his Argeïphontes Lyre software, as well as specially commissioned new recordings (Bartók's String Quartet No. 2 was recorded specifically for this album at half speed with minimal dynamics) to play with our perception of time via a prism of distortions and subliminal refractions.
In an attempt to breathe in the same creative air as the French author, Rabelais’ distils the creative potential of sound in relation to our cultural fabric; everyone knows these pieces, despite precious few of us having lived in Paris in the 1920s. They're the background sound and building blocks of our culture, from cinema to advertising, but secreted in the music’s play of decaying reverbs, you get an uneasy sense of some unknown spectre floating thru the mists of time.
Stunning, multidimensional work from a master of the artform.
Frothy classic Aphex-straddling and minimal/percolated Techno permutations from Dmytrij Wulffius, who’s perhaps best recognised for his visual artwork for Martial Canterel and Kedr Livansky over the past decade.
‘Sorang’ is Wulffius’ 2nd solo release after a 2016 batch for Ukraine’s Wicked Bass, and explores what he terms a “B-sides” sound, as in “something too strange to be danceable, with “complex ease” and rhythmical variety.” The results for pivotal label Gost Zvuk are playful and never po-faced, perhaps best primed for the after-hours session with a lightness of touch that percolates from his Aphex-like jiggles in ‘Monotone in G Minor’ to the acknowledgement of his effervescent closer ‘I Am Weird’, weaving his way thru variations of Thomas Brinkmann like techno in ‘My Cosmic Synthesiser’ and the muffled ‘Piano Song’ to the wandering melodies of ‘Heels at Pebble Beach’ and a damn classy deep house joint, ‘Typ Sounds Deep.’
An ideal roll call of Ulla, Nadia Khan, Newworldaquarium, Ben Bondy, Mister Water Wet, NAP, JR Chaparro, Haji K., and many more, help tuck Picnic’s eponymous LP beauty to bed with a sublime suite of remixes and alternate versions
One of 2021’s lushest ambient sides, ‘Picnic’ is a proper friends and family affair helmed by the duo’s mdo & Ju Ca, a pair of Melbourne-based souls who share that region’s prevailing grasp of ambient warmth and elemental utility. Where their debut LP, proper, also included guest spots from the likes of Huerco S., The Humble Bee, Dntel, and DJ Paradise, this new 'Bonus' follows suit to infuse the far flung yet mutual spirits of the modern ambient rhizome, dialling in subtle reflections on the originals, as well as new collaborations, that diffuse and extend its pleasures into the gauzy mid-distance.
Nadia Khan opens with a blissed, puce-hued rendering of ‘dewey’ that sustains the original’s sanguine atmosphere, while new work ‘leaving a conversation’ ropes in pepper (Ulla), Monkey Twenty (Pontiac Streator), and Low Flung for a sweet patch of deep-diving smudge. Picnic’s zonked hypnagogic collaboration with Mister Water Wet ‘cliff dive’ pushes those same hazy buttons, while a standout piece of loping ambient technohouse from Newworldaquarium features a steady pulse in an effortlessly brilliant manner that's somehow distinctly NWAQ - the man can do no wrong to our ears.
Other Joe supplies bass-heavy ballast in their spongiform ambient dembow take on ‘elkhorn’ that lands shades away from DJ Python’s deepest, and JR Chaparro takes time to get between the pores on on a 9 minute version of ‘folds and rips’, and Ben Bondy smushes our temples with the light-headed, domestic rustles and rumbles of his version to ‘drops in the water’.
Trust it’s all of the sweetest ambient variety, faithfully weft for downtimes in a way that's both gaseous and heavyweight.
Mica Levi furnishes the new A24 flick with a sticky sweet suite of strings chimes and trap tics, sequenced here with snatches of dialogue by the cast, inc Nicholas "Greg the egg" Braun lol
‘Zola’ is Janicza Bravo's film adaptation of a viral Twitter story written by Aziah “Zola” Wells, regaling her tale of a jag to Florida with another stripper, her boyfriend and her pimp. It’s an A24 film, so you know it’s going to get twisted, and Mica follows the narrative with a strong palette of synths, strings and rhythmelodic motifs that coolly conveys a sort of hot and sleazy Floridian atmosphere.
There are canny chops of dialogue from the film’s leads strewn throughout, including a bit of Nicolas Braun aka Greg “The Egg” from ’Succession’ for those in need of a wally fix there, while the fruitier synth flourishes can’t help but remind us of James Ferraro or Maxwell Sterling’s neon neo-classical evocations of modern day American lustre and bluster, and with a distinct twinkle of Harmony Korine-esque surreality and darkness just below the surface.
Arca doubles down on the psychosexual thrust of her ‘KiCK’ series with a more “manic, violently euphoric and aggressively psychedelic” gush of queered reggaeton energies in its wild 3rd volume
Where the parallel release of KiCK ii’ was more locked to reggaeton’s 100bpm bracket, this one ramps the tempos and conceptual pressure with blazing sound design to delirious effect across another dozen belters that rinse the dembow template into fresh new dimensions, as shared by the likes of Paul Marmota, Debit and Lao from the NAAFi crew, and explored in more oblique and unique ways by likes of Ziúr and Aya.
In her own words “Electra Rex is a new archetype I propose in reference to commonly understood ideas of Freud regarding the oedipal complex—Oedipus Rex kills the father and unknowingly making love to the mother. Electra complex posits the binary opposite: killing the mother and unknowingly making love to the father. And so I am the first to propose a non-binary psychosexual narrative to avoid falling into the same generational tragic blind spots. Electra Rex, a merging of both names, an integration of both Oedipus Rex and Electra: it kills both parents and has sex with itself, and chooses to live”.
So yeh, it’s an album about fucking your dad and killing your ma. Take or leave that whichever way you need; the music utterly slays on its own merits, but certainly takes on a whole other, cyber-operatic, uchronic-mythical dimension in context that may take more than a few listens, and an ability to understand Spanish, to really grasp. On the most immediate level it’s an arresting experience, reeling form the rambunctious snarl and attack of ‘Bruja’ to the piquant hyperballad of ‘Joya’ via the recoiling technoid ferocity of ‘Incendio’ and the staggering futurism of ‘Electra Rex’, with thrilling sense of restraint and deviousness in ‘Rubberneck’.
Bola Sete - "Samba in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse, 1966-1968" is the first official release of the Brazilian acoustic guitarist Bola Sete's live recordings at the Penthouse jazz club in Seattle, WA featuring bassist Sebastião Neto and drummer Paulinho Magalhães.
"Produced by Grammy-nominated jazz detective Zev Feldman, and remastered from the original tape reels in cooperation with The Bola Sete Estate, this deluxe 3-CD set includes an extensive 40 page booklet with rare photos from The Penthouse; essay by music critic and Greg Casseus (aka Greg Caz); new interviews and statements by guitar icon Carlos Santana, legendary composer/pianist Lalo Schifrin, Sete's friend, pianist and producer, George Winston, and Bola Sete's widow Anne Sete; plus an effusive tribute by the late guitar great John Fahey. Samba in Seattle is a significant addition to the recorded legacy of an oft–sampled musician (A Tribe Called Quest, J Dilla and Dan The Automator) whose career straddled bossa nova, jazz–pop and early New Age."
Recorded back in 1966 when the North was indeed still industrial, 'Abstractions of the Industrial North' is a collection of imaginary film soundtracks and library music recorded by Basil Kirchin.
With a very Duke Ellington set of roots (jazz drummer with big-band experience), Kirchin had made numerous dalliances into the avant-garde before embarking on his 1966 recording purge, with all these aural facets surfacing on the record. Opening with 'Prelude and Dawn', Kirchin displays an aptitude to match that of the much more renowned David Axelrod, with staccato hearted instrumentation that chimes with contemporary musical explorations.
Kirchin's musical ability is stunning, with themes and structures emerging throughout the compositions that will have you convinced they were recorded in the last decade as opposed to several decades ago. Also of interest is Kirchin's ear for future stars, with 'Pageing Sullivan' featuring a pre-Zep Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan making this both a musical curio and an astonishingly complete, forward thinking document of its time.
The legendary "lost" debut solo album from British singer-songwriter, actor and author Catherine Howe, who recorded "What a Beautiful Place" in 1971 when she was only 20 years old. Produced by jazz pianist Bobby Scott, it's a wyrd folk milestone to file alongside Vashti Bunyan's "Just Another Diamond Day".
When she recorded "What a Beautiful Place", Howe had established herself as an actor, performing in TV shows like "Doctor Who" and "Z-Cars". This helped her get a foothold in music, and she penned her first album to map her biography, drifting from Yorkshire to London and then Dorset. Sadly, the album was only available for a month after it was released, as it tanked independent imprint Reflection Records. Undeterred, Howe recorded a run of further albums, taking a break in the 1980s and '90s and returning to recording in 2005 with "Princelet Street".
In 2007, Numero Group remastered the album using a source copy (the master tapes had sadly been lost), and the wider world was finally able to hear this hidden classic. Howe was so young when it was recorded that her voice sounds almost angelic as it runs through experiences still fresh in her mind. The accompanying music too lifts these songs into blue clouds and over green hills. There's a whimsical quality that reminds of Linda Perhacs or Bridget St. John - if you squint a little, you can even hear the traces of eccentric progressive energy that would electrify Kate Bush a few years later.
Silvia Jiménez Alvarez finally follows up 2017's enigmatic nu-EBM tome 'Weightless' with a dumbfounding left-turn for Berghain's Ostgut-Ton imprint. "A World of Service" isn't techno or EBM, it illuminates Alvarez's staggering voice as it flirts with trip-hop, radio pop, grunge and industrial metal. Unexpected doesn't even come close.
Since the release of her acclaimed debut album for iDEAL, Alvarez has been touring constantly, building a reputation as a live performer and challenging, lithe DJ. So when lockdown hit, it provided her with the time she needed to finish an album that's been years in the making. 'A World of Service' is named after her now-defunct monthly radio show, and retains its sonic philosophy. The Spanish artist has never wanted to pigeonhole herself: she grew up with an obsessive interest in music that never began and certainly doesn't end with techno and electro. It doesn't even begin and end with dance music at all.
Her latest material is rooted in the pop forms that crystallized in the 1990s on alternative radio and MTV, and her dynamic voice is the glue that binds it together. Unlike so many of her peers, Alvarez's shift from electronic producer to enigmatic frontwoman sounds fated. Raw, unprocessed Spanish words lurch into view on 'Camelo', after 'Birds You Can Name' introduces the album on a curly instrumental electronic fake-out. 'Camelo' is the stylistic link to 'Weightless', and accompanies Alvarez's powerful vocals with grinding industrial noise and torched half-speed trap percussion. From here, we're funneled into the album's defining run, beginning with Autotuned lounge sizzler 'Luis' that sounds like a robotic re-interpretation of Sade via Kanye's peerless "808s & Heartbreak".
Title track 'A World of Service' might be the most improbable move for Alvarez. Described in the press release as "pandemic-era trip hop", it's a sultry, pristine slow burner that reminds of the moment where trip-hop started to poke into the mainstream with hybrid acts like Dubstar and Olive. And with clubs shuttered for the last couple of years, it makes sense that the genre's half-tempo crawl has began to resurface. But JASSS saves the best for last, teaming up with Berlin's Zíur on 'Wish', an industrial grunge anthem that sounds like Garbage's towering first couple of albums.
The Berlin underground's relationship with pop has been confused (and often antagonistic) over the years. Here, the union is flexible and candid - perfectly in tune with Alvarez's interests, obsessions and strengths. It sounds like the beginning of the next chapter of her creative story, and might be the most unlikely release on Ostgut-Ton thus far.
Highly intriguing debut move from Aisie, venturing nine tracks of poetically aeolian sculptures on the yung Studio Thirty Three label.
Elusively contoured and gingerly melodic, ‘Halcyon Gang Poet’ renders a fine introduction to the artist and label in a fleeting brace of ephemeral, tip-of-tongue constructions free of percussion but full of rhythmelodic colour and verve. They’re chamber-like vignettes that mostly work under a 2 minute time frame, with only a few taking longer to spiel their tale, sounding something like an eviscerated Chain Reaction reduction, and maybe more acutely the scope of that enigmatic 2016 wonder by ||| ||| on Entr’acte, what landed on the cutting floor from Second Woman sessions, or those beauties from Hamburg’s Werkbund.
There’s very little info about this lot out there, just the poetic statement, "...Above all you have to hear properly the tone that comes out of this mouth, this halcyon tone, if you are not to be pitifully unjust towards the meaning of its wisdom..." which, with the music, and that playfully warped artwork, should pique the curiosity of keener listeners who appreciate a degree of mystery in an age of oversharing.
Hitch.93 laces up baga 4/4 UKG bumpers for the yung, up ’n coming Vibesey Records on a classic late ‘90s flex
All the elements are in the right place and seasoned to taste, conducting it from shoulder to toes with the torso swivelling ace ‘Trigger’ at the front, and putting it down tighter with the trim cut of ‘Yeah’, and clocking up proper cuboid bongos with swaying soul vox in ‘Your Life’, saving the serious UKG arithmetic for the chop ’n start parry of ‘High’ on a classic Steve Gurley pivot.
Duane Pitre's first solo album since 2015's 'Bayou Electric', 'Omnicient Voices' is an intuitive work made from piano and electronics that's inspired by Morton Feldman, Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass and Steve Reich.
Pitre wasn't intending to work on a new album when he started experimenting with electronics and a piano tuned using just intonation - a system that tunes all the intervals as whole number ratios, or pure intervals. He had been studying Morton Feldman's scores and wondered if the fusion might work, and in 2020 he recorded a series of experiments that used his Max/MSP network to interface between the piano and two microtonal hardware synthesizers. The result is a set of unsettling drones that feel both synthetic and acoustic, where the piano becomes alien and the synthesizer tones blur completely with its decayed resonance.
'In Rhodes, To Delphi' sounds disorienting and dissonant initially, before your brain adjusts to the unusual tuning. Piano notes take on the character of bells, almost, and icy electronic drones follow the sounds like traces of parallel reality. This theme is expressed in more detail on 'The Rope Behind The Bee', creating an almost sacred atmosphere that nods towards church music without mimicking it. Pitre's understanding of minimalism is laudable, and his use of tuning unique and expressive. "Omniscient Voices" is an absorbing record that slowly reveals itself until it's firmly lodged in the frontal lobes.
Magisterial, psilocybic stuff from Windy City electro-acoustic explorer Olivia Block, returning to Room 40 with a filmic new album inspired by mushy trips during lockdown.
‘Innocent Passage in the Territorial Sea’ plots out a mental projection of pulsating Mellotron synth scapes that build on over 20 years of diverse practice involving composition for chamber instrumentation, field recording and explorative synthesis, as released by esteemed labels such as Sedimental, NNA Tapes, and Another Timbre. Reflecting on a process of listening “somatically”, as inspired by her “regular practice of listening with intention while on psychedelic mushrooms”, the results form an escape pod from lockdown, shaped into something like a sort of “speculative science fiction film” that now firmly lends themselves to use as your own shuttle to other dimensions.
Using the warped tonal colour of a broken Mellotron synth, Olivia was drawn to its low end possibilities which underline and propel the album from its elegant lift off ‘Axiolite’ across the oceanic ‘Laika’ to really take flight with heart-in-mouth sensation on the Alessandro Cortini-esque grandeur of ‘Great Northern, 34428’, and with Eleh-like thrum nagged by icicular patterns in ‘En Echelon’. The narrative takes a more blissed turn into keening new agey chamber styles like a frosty Laraaji with ‘Through Houses’ and ultimately leads up to the iridescent ice caves of the album’s 10 min climax ‘Rivers in Reverse’ where she acts as chilly fleshly conduit for the Mellotron’s off kilter voice to really sing out its strange dream.
Properly immersive dub treks from Deadbeat and Om Unit, twisting out on the JA/UK/Berlin axis in durational style for Singapore’s Midnight Shift label and party crew
Both consummate collaborators well skooled in the black arts of the bassbin, Berlin’s Deadbeat and Bristol’s Om Unit have spent decades between them immured in the cabs and drivers of various clubs. They bring that wealth of experience to four effortlessly rolling, stepping and skanking variations here, clearly tipping caps to the OG Jamaican styles via inspiration from the sleek mixing desk magick of BC/Rhythm & Sound’s Mark & Moritz and the likes of Iration Steppers or Smith & Mighty, with the sort of sounds built for proper big rigs, but also your smoky dens.
‘Root’ starts it up on a driving, yet woozy sort of UK steppers tip with propulsive subs and heady brass swept up by deft digits on the desk, before ’Stalk’ stakes out 10 minutes of darker acid dub territory with a lip-smackingly tight, incremental development of ghostly woodwind and tangiest 303 tweaks. ‘Leaf’ takes that darkside flex one step farther with nods to Thomas Fehlmann and The Orb’s psychedelic stylings or The Mad Professor’s Massive Attack dubs, and ‘Bloom’ forges a superb sort of Rhythm & Sound gone acid fusion.
Justin Cantrell's debut J album finds him skating into delicate locations, marrying faded piano and delicate electronics with gusty radio static and frozen pads. The CD edition features remixes from Laila Sakini, Fia Fell, mu tate, Nico Callaghan and Grace Ferguson.
Cantrell is better known for his recordings under the Ju Ca moniker, or his collaborations with mdo as picnic. As J, he reduces his sound to a whisper, gently manipulating environmental hums and crackles into a poetic wisp of harmony and microscopic sound. "my seat and week" is an album that requires close listening, and when you focus your attention, the details make themselves present. Like the lilting rhythm Cantrell extracts from piano on the title track, disturbing the natural pacing of the keys by digitally stuttering the sounds, or the faint sine chimes on 'you take each others breath away...' that beat quietly beneath an insectoid hum. Subtle spoken word from Angelina Nonaj elevate 'more room to breathe in', slipping between the gaps in Cantrells piano, while cello from Abby Sundborn gives a melancholy distance to 'a healing tear'.
But it doesn't quite end there, Cantrell has assembled an intriguing list of collaborators to re-interpret the album's songs. Experiences Ltd's mu tate refracts the electroid dub bliss of January's "let me put myself together" on his remix of 'yellow leaf flutters on a nail'. Laila Sakini doesn't disappoint either, pushing Sundborn's cello from 'a healing tear' into the foreground and allowing it to sink slowly into a bath of crackly field recordings and woozy analog synth. Pianist and composer Grace Ferguson's version of the album's title track is more restrained and allows the gossamer piano to crane itself out of the shadows.
All together it's a varied set, that highlights Cantrell's community approach to his craft - the warmth is palpable.
Holy moly! Ukrainian/Estonian archival label Shukai return with an unmissable second haul of Valentina Goncharova’s un-real synthesis of 4th World, electro-acoustic, noise and new age tropes - highly recommended to disciples of Pauline Oliveros, Deathprod, Daphne Oram, Michael Ranta, Keiji Haino, CC Hennix.
Recorded between Tallinn and Riga during the late ‘80s and into early ‘90s, but sounding like it came from another time and planet entirely, Goncharova’s music is little short of elemental genius. This second volume’s 7 tracks once again draw as much from conservatory classical as deviant contemporary composition, jazz, and DIY experimentation. It’s a whole musical world unto itself, brought to life with an abundance of textures, tones, and unusual spaces that speak to a richly curious mind steeped in the convention-challenging examples of C.20th composition from Stockhausen, Boulez, and Xenakis, yet dead keen to push deep into her own world.
It’s a pretty much unprecedented study of a blind spot in our collections too, investigating Valentina’s engaging balance of disciplined and intuitive approaches to musical expression at a time when this kind of thing wasn’t really part of the soviet cultural conversation. And while there are clear links to her remarkable solo work found on Vol.1, this second set shows her to be a consummate collaborator, feeding off the radical punkish energies of Pekka Airaksinen (Sperm) and sharing a vision of free improv music with sax player Sergei Letov.
‘Reincarnation’ kicks off with Valentina in dialogue with multi-instrumentalist Alexander Aksenov on a balmy 4th world tip that bears traces of style explored in Vol.1. However, the rest of the set departs into more wayward collabs with Petrov and Airaksinen, respectively. Letrov, older sibling of Siberian punk non-conformist Yegor Letov, brings a cool control to her buzzing electronics in their first, but enact a finer push and pull of energies in their progressive, fearless clash of tonalities across the others, both surely drawing on a close knowledge of staging sound for theatre.
Finally, her works with Pekka are our favourite, with a trio of parts spanning head spinning organ whirligigs, intense keyboard chops and fluid textures salvaged from fragments of tape recorded performances that demonstrate how they were pursuing the vectors of Terry Riley / La Monte Young in their own, bedevilling style while also resonating with earlier CC Hennix works.
Stunning, once again.
Dunno what sort of alchemy took place in Brooklyn in 2019, but this first in-person (full length) collaboration between long-time file-sharers Félicia Atkinson and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is - quite dramatically - the most enveloping and deep work either artist has been involved with in both their respective and mutual careers thus far. There’s a deeply Badalamenti-esque quality at play here - and we don't mean the throw-away stuff - but a properly enveloping fog of smoke, all shuddering, single-note bass plucks and neon lit engineering that's like an arthouse companion to Bohren & der Club of Gore via Richard Youngs’ peerless CXXI set from earlier this year, into 80’s 4AD and classic Tarkovsky’s scores. Aye, we’re into this one, big time.
Resounding with a discrete, sublime sense of closeness, ‘Un Hiver En Plein Ete’ (‘A Winter in the Middle of Summer’) renders the results of Atkinson and Cantu-Ledesma’s studio sessions in August, 2019. To our ears, the six parts offer a whirling, transient sense of joy in the act. Everything feels in a perpetual motion, with instrumental gestures enlivened by a subtle but key use of electro-acoustic rendering that leaves space to the imagination, from the tip-of-tongue unfurling of Félicia’s ASMR-like vox and Jefre’s oily bass strokes in ‘And All The Spirals of the World’ to the aleatoric enigma of the field recording textures that precipitate glistening wind-played chimes and the sonorous, floating pads of ‘The Hidden’, enriching the stereo-swirled spiritual jazz intimation of ‘Septembers’, and with an absorbing mix of rawness and oneiric surreality on the album’s nine minute centrepiece ‘Not Knowing’ that reminds us of the strange state of stasis offset by the gnawing knowledge of a world in psychic distress.
While their performance - Atkinson on piano and voice, and Cantu-Ledesma harnessing space dilating electronics - is distinct, the music itself offers an emotionally unified sense of purpose; it's a musing on friendship that transcends artistic influences and guiding narrative lines. The duo still make connections to the past, but on "Un Hiver En Plein Ete" they sing a song of closeness, and gesture at the sublime jumble of thoughts and desires that dissolve and weather with time. Isolated by borders, restrictions, sickness and circumstance, it feels as if friendship is more insurgent than ever.
Arriving seemingly moments after summer's florid 'Under~Between', 'Keep Going... Under' finds Dialect in a weightless space, augmenting jazzy improvisation with subtle cybernetic webs of vaporwave-influenced synthesis.
When he revisited material recorded with Daniel Thorne's Immix Ensemble to come up with "Under~Between", Andrew PM Hunt had too many ideas to confine his work to one album. "Keep Going... Under" comes from the same set of recordings, but channeled into deeper crevices, expanding ideas that were too ecstatic for its predecessor, blasting each sound with digital processes that work like compressed air on dried moss.
The Steve Reich-influenced buzz that underpins 'Crypt' gives it a whimsical familiarity that gently evolves into brittle electronics before you even notice what's going on. 'Half Moon' meanwhile offsets jazzy woodwind gusts with bulbous oscillations, using percussion sounds like flickering stars in the distance. Our highlight is 'Mesa', a heartstring-tugger shaped by descending synth bass tones, melancholy strings and delicate, silvered chimes.
Hunt is braver with his references on 'Keep Going...' and decants each unique element into vibrant emotional spaces. If its predecessor was informed by an obsession with Buddhist concepts and animated by an interest in Harold Budd's minimalism, this smooth sequel loosens the release valve, inviting comparisons with ASA-CHANG & Junray, or even Haruomi Hosono.
Brooding forces lead Skelton’s bowed cello, woodwind, cymbals and piano on his latest stunner for hiw own Corbel Stone Press.
Richard Skelton offers a fine soundtrack to the current low pressure system hovering over the land with a rumbling chamber drone suite primed for watching the weather from more comfortable surroundings. By this point in his singular oeuvre you know what to expect from him and he doesn’t disappoint on ‘a guidonian hand’, allowing the elements to osmotically seep into the skin of his sound with beautifully sore and evocative results sprawling over its ten-part soundscape.
Skelton uses his instruments to paint widescreen sound images with a lush but bittered flourish between recordings made across 2020/21, vacillating into shorter, fleeting sketches with more immersive tracts in a haunting play of light and shadow, granite textures and moistened, rolling meadows. There’s a notable electronic accent and emphasis to proceedigns that place it in this century at least, with a stressed tone in its expansive centrepiece ‘In Ancient Fabricks’ that really hits home somewhere between the gentler, more romantic side of Yellow Swans and Gabe Midnel’s follow-up projects, all underpinned by that low-end rumble that's full of uneasy menace.
Following on from a pair of Extended Players released in 2011 ("Passed Me By" / "We Stay Together") Andy Stott returns to Modern Love with 'Luxury Problems', an 8 track album of new material recorded over the last 12 months.
Five of the tracks on the album feature Alison Skidmore, Andy's onetime Piano teacher whom he hadnt seen since he was a teenager back in 1996. There was no grand gesture in mind, it just sort of happened - but after almost a year of studio work the result is really quite unlike anything you'll have heard from him before. 'Numb' opens the album with Alison's voice; layered and looped but essentially left bare and exposed, tumbling into a dense shuffle, sort of somewhere between Theo Parrish and Sade, but more fucked.
'Lost and Found' follows and deploys a growling rave bassline, the beat assembling itself around a squashed Linndrum like a submerged Prince/Cameo production, haunted and impenetrable, but full of funk. 'Sleepless' started life as a drum edit that sooner or later succumbed to Stott's intense rhythmic shifts. It's a sound that's been imitated countless times since the release of 'Passed Me By', here re-tooled and re-built for its next phase. 'Hatch The Plan' ends the first half of the album with some heavily treated location recordings and a low end grind that probably doesnt quite prepare you for the vocal arrangements that follow - it's just a beautifuly inverted pop song.
The second half opens with 'Expecting', the most recognisably 'Stott' moment on the album: a wrecked, deliriously knocked 4/4 shuffle deployed at halfspeed; those heavy kickdrums sucking in everything around them. 'Luxury Problems' is next and offers up the album's most quietly euphoric and open 5 minutes; conventional arrangements and drumloops disrupted by sharp percussive loops that mess with what you know: it's straight and beautiful and unbalanced and damaged, somehow all at once.
"Up the box" goes somewhere else entirely, an extended intro that seems to build continuously for 3 minutes before breaking off into a slowed-down Amen edit, creating a kind of narcotic Jungle variant that fragments everything and ends just at the point you think it's going to go off, before "Leaving" finishes the album with an almost unbareably beautiful arrangement of voice and synth and a final key-change that takes you from joyful to forlorn in an instant.
0PN mounts a definitive opus with his rapturous 9th studio album, entirely produced during lockdown, with “executive production” by The Weeknd, who also supplies vocals alongside Arca and Caroline Polachek.
‘Magic Oneohtrix Point Never’ is titled after the mispronunciation of Magic 106.7, a local radio station in Boston, Massachusetts; the state where Daniel Lopatin aka 0PN grew up, and where the album was created. The radio station’s adult contemporary programming is a formative and enduring influence on 0PN’s music, and it’s clear that he’s saved this album title for some of his most accomplished tributes to his influences, but refracted thru his prismatic styles to illustrate the distance between that era, and this, with some of his most elusive, illusive and beguiling sound design wrapped up in a mix of stunningly mazy and pop-toned arrangements.
0PN is one of those artists we’d imagine took to lockdown quite naturally, sequestering themselves away to immerse in their art for the good of everyone outside. Written between March and July, the results of ‘Magic Oneohtrix Point Never’ speak for themselves as 0PN’s most broadly appealing record, typically placing avant-inventiveness and curiosity at the service of a tumultuous narrative that really needs some kind of road-trip simulation game to go along with its possessed dial-strafing.
You’re probably familiar with the album’s opening sequence, which appeared on a lead single, and includes the lushest FM synthesis of 2020 in ‘Long Road Home’, and the rest of the album follows suit with a profligate approach to genre, cutting from phased dream-pop grunge in ’I Don’t Love Me Anymore’, to hypnagogic ident collage in ‘The Whether Channel’, and The Weeknd’s romantic ‘80s power pop turn on ‘Lost But Never Again’, crucially fractured with cut-scenes and mutant jingling of the ‘Cross Talk’ parts that tie the album’s story together with something approaching a sonic-visual analog of Safdie Brothers’ choppy editing gone lysergic.
Autechre's classic third album from 1995, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
Completing the triumvirate of early Autechre essentials, Tri Repetae was the duo’s cranky contribution to mid ‘90s electronic music, and, like its predecessors - Incunabula and Amber - a record that completely defines certain aspects of that era for many, us included.
It’s possibly best known for including the peerless electro-trance swerve of Eutow - which could literally kill someone prone to AMSR in the right situations (not a bad way to gan) - whilst the rest of the LP cements some of Autechre’s sharpest, neck-snapping productions.
If you’ve only heard this album via download or streaming, or are only aware of their later gear, you’re in for a treat.
Latest album from Tucson, Arizona musicians Trees Speak (Daniel Martin Diaz and Damian Diaz).
"This new release is a vast leap into an ocean of space and sound, a quantum leap into cybernetics, biology, anti-gravity, time travel, dream speech and transfiguration. A seriously next step release!
Showing no signs of slowing down their rapid creative pace – incredibly this is their fourth album in the space of just over one year – ‘Vertigo of Flaws’ is a mighty 29 tracks, one and a half hours of music across one double album that is surely going to be a defining point in their musical career, a giant leap into the sonic unknown, an epic exploration of intensity and sound.
Alongside their now trademark German krautrock motoric-beat rhythms, angular New York post-punk attitude, tripped- out 60s spy soundtrack, psyche-rock, and 70s synthesizers and vocoders, here you will also hear a new cosmic spacial awareness (both personal inner space and galactic outer space) and a truly wilful pushing of sonic boundaries - as police sirens, static noise, alarms, radio signals, avant-garde voices, and orchestral string quartets, all collide to add beautiful dissonance to uber-powerful, intense, addictive and propulsive rhythms - in the process creating a truly unique soundscape that Trees Speak have made wholly their own."
Apparently it's been over a decade since avant jazz deity Pharoah Sanders recorded any new music, it took Sam Shephard aka Floating Points to coax the 80 year old out of near-retirement.
Anyone familiar with Sanders' work will know how life-affirming his music can be, from his early work with John Coltrane, through 1967's mind-altering "Tauhid" to his spiritual pairing with Alice Coltrane on "Journey in Satchidananda". Here, he takes a more restrained role, offering bursts of tenor to compliment Shephard's pretty snippets of piano and synth. As "Promises" builds, the London Symphony Orchestra's presence becomes more stark, evolving the slow-moving work into cinematic levels of grandeur.
It's pretty senseless comparing "Promises" to Sanders' early catalogue as he's most definitely in a completely different place mentally. But his cloud-reaching brilliance is still a joy to behold; when his familiar overblown phrases appear from Shephard's gossamer synth clouds, it's hard not to smile. We can't help but wonder how different it might have been if Sanders had been paired with Dean Blunt, mind you. Just saying.
Bathhouse ambient alchemist Jake Muir phase shifts to Ilian Tape for his headiest set yet - a re-imagining of the illbient genre that sublimes loose turntablism and fritzed industrial fuzz into haunted trace elements and gooey, tactile drones. One for fans of everyone from DJ Spooky and QBert to Pendant and Akira Rabelais. Next level!
An artist laser-focused on the art of sampling - his 2018 album 'Lady's Mantle' was extracted from chopped up surf rock - Muir has long been passionate about the illbient canon. 'Mana' is his opportunity to finally throw his hat into the ring, and he takes a crate digger's approach - hardly surprising considering his mixes are as essential as his full-lengths. Using barely-recognizable debris lifted off illbient milestones, Muir sculpts a modernist simulacrum without losing the source material's mineral sparkle. Looking to unbutton and untuck Ambient sterotypes and instead highlight its tactile sensuality, illbient becomes the perfect vessle for Muir to straddle, echoing DJ Olive and DJ Spooky's desire to disrupt the 'background music' chintziness of 1970s ambient with the hands-on wizardry of hip-hop turntablism and knob-twiddling dub-rave tweakage.
The NYC-born movement was misunderstood back in the 1990s, but since then its vaporous traces have slipped into the experimental consciousness completely without fanfare. Taking Eno or Varese records and blending them with King Tubby and Ruffige Kru 12"s was novel then, but now feels foundational at a time when genre and aesthetic identity is in constant flux. Understanding this, Muir keeps raked-over referencing to a minimum, cooking down sounds to a dubbed-out mush of psychedelic synapse spasms and evocative drones. It's blink-and-you'll-miss-it stuff, commenting on a sound from decades ago without lapsing into sentimentalist nostalgia. Instead we're left with the gestures that makes Illbient an interesting proposal: the pitch fluctuation of vinyl, the hectic clashing of polar musical methodology, the heightened awareness that prioritizes sensation over repetition.
When Caveman LSD - aka uon, Special Guest DJ etc - emerges on the gloopy 'Forest Of Whispers' it makes total sense. His Experiences Ltd. / bblisss curation and output is firmly tied to illbient, with its almost eroticised fusion of dub, rave and ambient strands. Muir makes these connections vivid, and nods to avant practitioners like Christian Marclay, Philip Jeck and Marina Rosenfeld simultaneously. It's musical heavy lifting that's as listenable as it is thematically on-point; to put it another way, it's a sex soundtrack you could write an academic paper on, if you felt like it.
Super tasty jazz-funk, disco and rare groove library breaks flex from legendary dance instructor/choreographer to the stars, Frank Hatchett; covers all bases and tempos of suave and energetic ‘70s/‘80s styles
“Sensational – that’s Frank Hatchett! These words can be found on many of the 16 albums credited to the legendary jazz dancer, choreographer, and teacher to the stars. At the height of his fame in the 1980s, Hatchett’s classes in New York City at the wildly popular Hines-Hatchett studio (now renamed the Broadway Dance Centre) attracted celebrities including Madonna, Brooke Shields, Olivia Newton-John, and Naomi Campbell. Though he hated flying, preferring to cruise in a Corvette from Massachusetts to Manhattan, each week saw Hatchett jet setting for classes and performances around the world.
In the highlights compiled on this expansive double LP set, the sounds of Hatchett’s albums run the gamut from disco and funk in the 1970s to electro and proto-techno as they glide through the ’80s. Like many albums in the dance instruction genre, nearly one third of the songs are covers (Prince, Paul Hardcastle, Earth, Wind & Fire, Billy Cobham) and most clock in at a brisk 2:30 – the ideal length for Hatchett’s classes or his students’ recital performances. Fans of library music will find a similar focus on immaculate performances, while the tightly coiled drum breaks, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and thumping 808s will send rare groove collectors into a state of head nodding bliss.”
After teasing it in for ages now, Arca finally commits her extraordinary 2nd volume of fwd mutations nearly a decade since she first made our jaws drop.
The shapeshifting child of influences ranging from Elysia Crampton to TCF and Autechre; Arca is easily one of the most thrilling, prism-pushing artists on the planet right now. Her take on a distinctive Venezuelan heritage, spliced with formative experience of life in NYC during the ‘00s, and a leading edge production knowledge, has become an inimitable template sought out by everyone from Shayne Oliver, Dean Blunt and Björk to FKA Twigs and Kanye since her emergence, signifying a tectonic shift of underground and pop attention to South America’s melange of Afro-Latin musicks in the process, and, quite importantly, with a queered tang shared by SOPHIE (RIP) that’s also paved the way for the likes of Aya and Eartheater in her wake. Now ‘KICK ii’ is effectively her tightest body of work yet, balancing all aspects of her style in singular, sexy af equilibrium that feels for the frayed, phase-shifting hyperreality of the times like few other records that come to mind.
The dozen tracks are puckered with a pop-wise suss that leaves no two seconds wanting for detail or beautifully dissonant expression coupled with a lusting drive. Powered by permutations of tresillo, she bitch slaps form and style into the 2020s, fleeting from the alien, polytemporal hymn of ‘Doña’ thru tight reggaeton bullets in ‘Prada’ and the trance-synth gilded ‘Rakata’ to the gyring perreo of ‘Tiro’ and godly ballad ‘Luna Llena’, with ‘Araña’ and ‘Femme’ suturing the links between her killer early work on the ‘Stretch’ EPs. ‘Muñecas’ plucks on the ‘artstrangs with beautifully bittersweet pull, and ‘Confianza’ perhaps best illustrates the influence from Elysia Crampton’s all too often overlooked emosh genius, slipping into Radio A-list ready territory in their Sia collab ‘Born Yesterday’, and ‘Andro’ plumes off into cinematic, sensual hyperspace ready for the incoming volumes.
Manchester musicians Marconi Union return with their new album, Signals.
"Signals is the latest addition to Marconi Union's highly acclaimed discography. Despite having released twelve albums in the last eighteen years they continue to experiment and push boundaries.
'In some respects Signals is a more traditional songwriting album than anything we've done before, but it draws on the same techniques we've used on our previous albums' After their previous album, the largely beat-less Dead Air, one might think that Marconi Union would be primarily influenced by synth players or guitarists. However, it turns out that Signals was actually informed by the bands' admiration of a number of different drummers and this played a significant part in helping shape its sound.
'We were quite inspired by various players like Jaki Liebezeit, Clive Deamer and Tony Allen and tried to imagine what our music would sound like with them playing on it.'
Signals combines synthetic textures with organic sound, and merges the familiar with the unknown, transporting the listener deep into their imagination. The one-word title is both mysterious and evocative, suggesting a multitude of images that range from high-tech electronic messaging to ghostly abandoned radio stations and even that most basic level of human expression, body language.
It Is both ironic and yet somehow so right, that a group so regularly described as 'enigmatic' should make an album that alludes to communication. Although, long-term fans will be relieved to note that Marconi Union decline to enlighten us on what all this means."
10-inch, shaped picture disc featuring the image of Knxwledge b/w Anderson .Paak who Knx collaborates with as NxWorries.
"The record contains Knxwledge’s “Itkanbe[sonice]” feat. NxWorries on Side A, taken from the album 1988. The flip side is “Stillsonice,” a new remix of the track by Knx, exclusive to this single.
Knx & .Paak began collaborating as NxWorries in 2015. Their single “Suede” became a viral hit, vaulting the singer to R&B stardom, and their album Yes Lawd! followed through on that song’s immense promise. Knx and .Paak have quietly continued collaborating."
Library music suite of solo keys with swaying voices, subtle electronic embellishments and purring beats released via SA Recordings label, who previously issued works by Lea Bertucci, LCO and Henrietta Rolla-Smith (Afrodeutsche).
It’s all cashmere soft and decorative, variously enoucntering voices from Club Del Río, Clara Gallardo & Joaquín Sanchez Gil on the pastoral mood of ‘Rainbow Fish’, and the burbling ‘Lala’, and at its most hushed in the Satie-esque flocking of ‘Encina’ with Clara, while ‘Forest Glade’ reminds of Pantha Du Prince’s waft, and ‘Peter’ weaves in genteel woodwind, with ‘Distant Island’ bringing it all together with ornate guitar by David del Cerro Turner.
“While ‘OPW’ was just much inspired by constant movement and travelling, ‘The Pool Project’ had quite a contrary motivation. Oliver explains “After making my debut album, it was clear for me that it was only the beginning of a long journey. I enjoy the process and idea of creating something deeply personal and connected to the situation I am in, a snapshot of time so to speak, so I had to start writing a next album sooner or later. I love change and find it very inspiring to creatively adapt to my surroundings and circumstances to see what comes out at the other end. I spent the lockdown time living in a countryside cottage just outside of Madrid, surrounded by holly oak trees. The combination of this and seeing my one year old daughter grow up, as well as expecting another baby boy, created a very unique and fruitful environment to draw inspiration from.”
As well as the composer’s very own personalised piano sounds and electronic manipulations, additional textures on the album come from combinations of breathy woodwinds, wordless, dreamy vocals by Madrid’s Club del Río, interplay of guitar and muted piano (‘Distant Island’), an unusual sounding delayed and watery Wurlitzer electric piano (‘Forest Glade’), and playful instruments such as the steel tongue drum.”
Prayers are answered with Vainqueur’s Reductions 1995-1997, a compilation of in-demand cuts from René Löwe’s seminal Chain Reaction 12”s and Elevations CD, including the vinyl premiere of Antistatic and first ever appearance of Antistatic II on any format, all available on wax for the first time in over 20 years.
For anyone who came thru during the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Vainqueur records were it - beyond Maurizio’s M-Series and the Basic Channel catalogue, they’re some of the strongest dub techno trax in existence. Now, two decades later, their influence probably looms larger than ever.
To newcomers and fiends alike, this 3LP selection provides a perfectly formed overview of Vainqueur’s most feted period (not withstanding his all-time banger Lyot , but that was a kinda one-off). The first disc revolves around the banging Reduce 1 and the monotone brilliance of Reduce 2, whilst the 2nd renders the more tender gasps and dub chords of Solanus (Original) and the heady Elevation II - both masterclasses in techno minimalism - while the 3rd disc significantly presents the flared chords of Antistatic, taken from the Elevations CD, on vinyl for the 1st time, backed with the exclusive-to-this-12” Antistatic II.
New album from sound artist and composer Bill Thompson.
"Bill Thompson's work is concerned with various aspects of perception and embodied presence. Using found objects, field recordings, repurposed electronics and digital media, his installations encourage active attention to each moment. He applies this same strategy within his compositions which often include sustained tones, densely layered textures and indeterminate or improvised structures.
Although trained as a guitarist, Thompson has worked primarily with live electronics for 20 years. In 2016, he returned to guitar (by Moog) combined with miscellaneous tabletop devices, found objects, flashing lights and the occasional vibrator.
"Black Earth Tongue" is based on material composed when working on the project Mushroom! with the contemporary dance group In the Making for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016. Track titles are taken from (mis)translations of Japanese or Latin names for various fungi."
Gritty post-punk outfit Low Life investigate the "disgust and shame" of white Australia and the gloomy reality of betrayed adulthood on their dense third album. Influenced by Michaelangelo, Iggy and the Stooges and the Sydney hardcore scene.
There's a curl of thick, black smoke that surrounds Low Life; their music isn't depressing, but it's filled with anger - the kind of anger that grows from dented dreams, unfathomable reality and fragmented relationships. The band raked in acclaim for their first two albums, 2014's "Dogging" and 2019's Alter-released "Downer Edn". "From Squats to Lots..." is closer to their sophomore album, a record the press release describes as having a "nuanced flavour".
With the grim atmosphere of "Unknown Pleasures"-era Joy Division and Bowie's "Low" (apparently producer Mickey Grossman has a statue of the star in the studio), Low Life conduct a riveting noise that lifts the darkest emotions into almost jubilance. Guitars jangle beneath rugged basslines and thrash-y chords, and vocals lurch from snotty sneers to melancholy cynicism. It's a record that brings to life another side of Australia, one far from what we're accustomed to witnessing in the media. As the band themselves say: it's not for kids.
Powell flicks his coattails and takes to the synthetic piano stool for a suite of ribboning rhythmelodic and tonal scapes inspired by Conlon Nancarrow, David Behrman, Xenakis.
Precisely not what one might have been lead to expect from previous exploits, but also not beyond the realm of possibilities explored in his private label a ƒolder, ‘Piano Music 1-7’ takes a marked step further into non-dancefloor directions; it’s all melody and space, as opposed to driving drums and samples, unexpectedly unleashing a more “musical” side in seven works that craftily play with perceptions of consonance/dissonance and clearly relish the semi-real tone of the basic Grand Steinway sampler at its core.
The seven parts range from expansive to succinct, and progressively diverge from relatively untreated to highly processed abstractions where his meticulous detailing comes into its own. They conceptually lead on from his four albums inspired by a formalisation of music proposed by Xenakis and issued on a ƒolder, applying research into stochastic (random) functions to generate an oddly contemplative music that encourages minds to wander his, and his computer’s, lines of thoughts from the curdled optimism of the opener to the strange interplay of glassy/gloopy textures and helical elision of plangent notes and their surreal reflections in the last.
Charming Aussie jangle pop from The Dirty Three's Mick Turner and vocalist Helen Franzmann, aka McKisco. Freewheeling and positive, it's an album that does a lot with few ingredients.
Mick Turner's last solo album was 2013's "Don't Tell the Driver", and since then he'd found himself lacking a vocalist. In 2019 he was introduced to Helen Franzmann and while the two didn't live close (Franzmann was in Brisbane and Turner in Melbourne) they ferried ideas back and forth while planning to record a session for a record. But then COVID-19 happened, and instead of scrapping the plan they collaborated remotely; Turner wrote songs using drums, guitars and synths and Franzmann sung and spoke over them, shifting their focus dramatically. As the songs went back and forth between the two, they developed into something new and completely collaborative.
Listening now, it's hard to tell that "Mess Esque" was produced by musicians working miles from each other. In fact, they've still never met face-to-face, which given the intimacy of the tracks is pretty remarkable.There's a softness to the way the two assembled this record that was maybe aided by the process; there's no showing off, just an attempt to capture real feeling as the world crumbled underfoot.
Pretty Sneaky move in the cracks between dub, free jazz, field recordings and minimalist electronics on another woozy batch of guess-again killers, this time via Meakusma.
Up top they pipe up an icy bit of macro dub, weaving melodica lines with tight, acidic steppers like some echo of early Pole, then let it pour out in a meditative, strolling style redolent of Tapes playing pencil-on-teacup percussion. Down below, the flipside floats on a minimalist organ-driven flex with phasing filters designed to carry heads into the clouds somewhere between Laraaji and Francis Bebey, before wrapping up a with a tenderly gauzy sort of Berlin dub exotica kiss-off.
Always a pleasure this lot.
Starry-eyed nocturnes and rhythmelodic pointillism from NYC’s Tristan Arp, sustaining the run of absorbing albums from Facta and K-Lone’s Wisdom Teeth label
Tristan Arp navigates an ambient safe space beyond the club where aspects of classicism leach into folk and electronic paradigms, with deft touches of feathered dance music drawing comparisons to Call Super or indeed Wisdom Teeth’s in-house sounds, from Steevio’s modular lathers to K-Lone’s ambient dembow deep house bop.
We’ve literally had gypsum in our lugs from ripping down walls recently, and can assure that Tristan Arp’s lissom Afro-Latin trills and bubbling melodies in ‘Gypsum’ are much more pleasant on the ears, forming a hypnotic bop-worthy highlight along with the the sloshing chimes of ‘From The Seams’, whereas the rest of the album is contoured for home listening, from the elegant sway of his baubly harmonics and swaying cello on ‘Pond In Moonlight’ to the levitating ambient harmonics of ‘A Clearing (In Empty Space)’ to the noctilucent aurora borealis lights of ‘Cloud Surface’ that beautifully bring it to a close.
Ilian Tape do drill with Sustrapperazzi’s batch of jazzier, colourful takes placing it shades away from likes of Nammy Wams and Carns Hill’s posher works
‘Return From Shibuya’ marks out the UK producer’s debut offering; seven tracks of drill’s archetypal glyding basses and skunk-nerved 808 tics, eazed off with jazz-taught instrumental flourishes. It lands on the Munich-bassed label’s Beat Series beside previous sides by Sleepy Rich and Packed Rich with a downbeat slant on the main’s up-to-the-moment production values, at best in the brooding, tucked flex of ‘Insatiable’, the deep south London/US strut of ‘Memphis’ and R&B hunch of ‘Date Night’.
Relaxation aids from Picnic, the duo of Ju Ca and mdo, trailing the glistening wake of a lovely 2020 debut on Kansas City’s c- with a milky ambient bath featuring added suds by Huerco S, The Humble Bee, DJ Paradise (uon), and Dntel
On their eponymous sophomore outing picnic reveal a fuller picture of their sound. The eight original pieces are given to sensitively mulched textures and softly glowing pads mottled with new age spirited strings and wafting voices. It’s nothing particularly new or inventive but works it’s way under the skin with pharmaceutic efficacy, at its lushest in the descriptive title and feel of ‘drops in the water (with tics)’, and the gently keening, hypnagogic appeal of ‘basket.’
The remixers however capture a sense of subtlety that draws us in closer, from Craig Tattersall’s typically hushed, drowsily suspenseful take on ‘folds and rips’, which contrasts with the air-stepping, weightless version by Huerco S., to the dusky tone of uon’s DJ Paradise remix of ‘drops in the water’, and the veteran Dntel’s aqueous smudge of ‘dewey.’
Restless genius Arca pulls in Garbage’s Shirley Manson, No Bra, Planningtorock, and Oliver Coates for the 4th - and notably more introspective - volume of her ‘Kick’ album bounty.
After expending her wilder energies in searing variations of dembow experimentalism and operatic composition in previous instalments, Arca here looks inward to complete the current album cycle with a quieter take on her sweetly curdled tunings and expressively queered sort of songwriting. The 11 songs feel more contained and finely mark the distance traveled since the first volume emerged in 2020, mostly shorn of beats but full of bittersweet emotion that oozes from her puckered, balladeering arrangements and painterly flourishes of extended melody.
Self-described as “an entry of sensual charge in the cycle; my own faith made into song, a posthuman celestial sparkle, psychosexual pulse-width modulation, queering the void” the album is the patently the most intimate in her decade-long, phase-shifting catalogue. ‘Whoresong’ opens with stripped back soundcraft, all warbling keys and signature, peculiar vocals spotlit like an alien crooner in the corner of smoky gay bar in a sci-fi, while there’s an almost seasonal glow to her chamber styled meld of choral cadence gilded with horns and strings aided by Oliver Coates on ‘Esuna’, prepping for the grand arrival of Planningtorock in ‘Queer’, one of the album’s few beat-driven bits, which they describe as “a queer dream come true”.
Susanne Oberbeck ov No Bra (the legendary project that once feat. sweetie pie Dale Cornish) proves a perfectly droll election to the shivering torchsong ‘Witch’, where the album takes on a brooding avant-grungy tone with percy ‘Boquifloja’, and Shirley Manson gives us a strong dose of ‘90s feels in ‘Alien Inside’ calling to mind aspects of Cindytalk, and we’re also find ourselves drawn heavily to the piloerect burn of trance licks and detuned, minor key Reese bass in ‘Lost Woman Found’.
'Faith In Strangers’ was recorded between January 2013 and June 2014, and was edited and sequenced in July 2014. Making use of on an array of instruments, field recordings, found sounds and vocal treatments, it’s a largely analogue variant of hi-tech production styles arcing from the dissonant to the sublime.
The first two tracks recorded during these early sessions bookend the release, the opener ‘Time Away’ featuring Euphonium played by Kim Holly Thorpe and last track ‘Missing’ a contribution by Stott’s occasional vocal collaborator Alison Skidmore who also appeared on 2012’s ‘Luxury Problems’. Between these two points ‘Faith In Strangers’ heads off from the sparse and infected ‘Violence’ to the broken, downcast pop of ‘On Oath’ and the motorik, driving melancholy of ‘Science & Industry’ - three vocal tracks built around that angular production style that imbues proceedings with both a pioneering spirit and a deep sense of familiarity.
Things take a sharp turn with ‘No Surrender’- a sparkling analogue jam making way for a tough, smudged rhythmic assault, while ‘How It Was’ refracts sweaty warehouse signatures and ‘Damage’ finds the sweet spot between RZA’s classic ‘Ghost Dog’ and Terror Danjah at his most brutal. ‘Faith in Strangers’ is next and offers perhaps the most beautiful and open track here, its vocal hook and chiming melody bound to the rest of the album via the almost inaudible hum of Stott’s mixing desk. It provides a haze of warmth and nostalgia that ties the nine loose joints that turn this album into the most memorable and oddly cohesive of Stott’s career to date, built and rendered in the spirit of those rare albums that straddle innovation and tradition through darkness and light.
A Colourful Storm artist Klon Dump launches his own imprint with two tracks on a double A-side 12-inch, "KLON001".
"Following a string of EPs for Unterton under his Mark alias, KLON001 debuted during Klon's back-to-back DJ set with Nick Höppner for the Ostgut Ton aus der Halle am Berghain stream. His previous releases on A Colourful Storm and Thomas Melchior's label My King Is Light garnered adherents like Raresh and Ricardo Villalobos, and these new productions drop all pretence of subtlety in favour of aggressively memorable hooks."