AYA's latest roller is the first taste of the Houndstooth label's new collection of global experimental sounds "Alterity" and is, almost predictably, a fluorescent banger.
There's something for everyone here: pineal-gland-expanding cyberkore kicks, sensual breathy vocal snips, wobbly mind-gargling synths, ASMR sleigh bells, druggy rushes. Really it's like hearing jungle meticulously reformed in a distant space prison by possessed nanobots in a "Jason X" scenario but without the threat of imminent death from an immortal fictional serial killer. Who can argue with that, honestly?
Darren Cunningham turns in a stunner here with a phantasmagorical take on LEYA's otherworldly harp-and-vocals fizzer "Wave".
The original was already stunning, and Actress transports its root elements to parallel worldz by slathering dissociated loops with white noise and fuzzy radio static. It sounds like memory, but not nostalgia; it's the soundtrack to the Peter Greenaway movie that never was; it's poetry beamed thru aging quantum machinery from distant futures. It's techno, period.
'Echos Pastoraux' documents the enchanted first meeting between Timo van Luijk and Andrew Chalk under their Elodie alias.
Introduced to us in the same stroke as their most recent - and relatively moodier, nocturnal - side, 'Traces Ephémeres', this one is blissfully pastoral and wishfully oneiric, framing a natural ecology of field recordings, strings and wheezing, far-flung folk drones across its 13 tracks. Rather than many pastoral-minded releases which can be located by their musical make-up, 'Echos Pastoraux' seems to convene a sort of pan-pastoral aesthetic, hinting at stately Korean classical strings, as well as what we'd possibly identify as eastern gypsy music or Klezmer tones, along with wistful baroque and raga-like drones.
The common, unifying aspect is a hazy sense of shared space and intention, resulting a richly enigmatic trip that's meant to be absorbed deeply and slowly, preferably with the windows open and birds joining in from outside.
This was Actress' first release for Honest Jon's, arriving in the aftermath of his landmark 'Hazyville' album dropped in 2008.
The move signified a subtle but essential development in his sound, preparing the ground for a hugely promising album with two aces. 'Paint, Straw And Bubbles' untethers his Detroit dream from terra firma, percolating his ethereal sound through a system of camouflaging filters until the joins dissolve and we're left with a feat of intangible spatial dynamics viewed with unique depth perception. It's electro-acoustic dance music for Afro-futurist stoners. The near absence of any bass only enhances the weightlessness, creating a heady sensation of an overcast day between pressure systems when everything doesn't feel quite as it should.
On 'Maze (Long Version)' Actress looks to early 80's synth wave and the cold industrial pulse of groups like Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, pinpointing the influences of Detroit music from Model 500 and Shake which in turn so heavily informed his sonic outlook.
DeepChord’s Rod Modell meets Walter Wacasz for a brain-massaging 3rd album of sanguine ambient bliss under their Shorelights alias
Inspired by the Great Lakes of North America and the “psychotropic and interstellar activity surrounding them,” Shorelights limn a sferic soundsphere glowing with a gently decaying/departing but phosphorescent energy. Rod Modell’s celebrated, organically natural sound design talents are clearly on display, and guided by a conceptual and spiritual guidance from Wacasz.
The piece unfurls over two sides that faithfully lend a pillowy, aerated level of tog to the listener, as orange/pink hued timbral horizons form the backdrop to the sound of shore-lapping location recordings and distant, half-heard voices that swirl across the foreground, drawing the user into a gauzy mid ground by the half-way point, where we’re beautifully reminded of BC’s ‘Radiance’ or classic Vainqueur, but fizzling away like a campfire in drizzle.
Crisp cut Nylon dance tekkers from Fractal Fantasy, making gang moves with strong bits from Martyn Bootyspoon and label heads Zora Jones and Sinjin Hawke
The big one for us is Martyn Bootyspoon’s ‘Dial 69’, full of jiggly Jersey meets Detroit funk and a mean follow-up to his thriller for Finn’s 2 B Real, while the bosses bookend the set with breezy club joints in Sinjin’s update on early Joy O-style swing in ‘Blank Spaces’, and Zora’s airborne trap arps and baubled choral hooks in ‘Virtua Theme’.
Notably the EP also introduces a new name (to us at least), with Zubotnik on the Principe/Baile Funk/Leonce-compatible dancer ‘Cazaa’, and label faithful Xzavier Stone turns it out early ‘00s Virginia Beach style with the bumping hustle of ‘On n Poppin’’. Without the real thing, Virtua raving’s the best you’ll get right now.
Following a series of solo releases on Kranky and collaborations with John Also Bennett (as CV & JAB) and Stars of the Lid's Adam Wiltzie (as The Dead Texan), Christina Vantzou lands on Edições CN for a full length of art-house chamber music, her most abstract and satisfying album to date. Smudged and woozy like the most non-linear dreamworlds, 'Multi Natural' follows its own internal logic - moods appear and dissolve, time turns in on itself, voices echo. For a hallucinogenic experience through sound, it’s perhaps the most impressive and transformative record we’ve heard this year - highly recommend if yr into Grouper's layered ambience, getting lost in 'Last year at Marienbad’, microdosing.
The soothing sounds of Vantzou's earlier records are here fogged in a more indecipherable mystery, with marshy electronics humming through eerie half-heard melodies and whisper-soft, subtle drones. Voices and instruments make themselves known and disappear into the aether; pan flutes offer a memory of new age music before being vaporised completely. It’s a magickal experience, transportive and calm, never just pleasant.
"Within this album lives a composer who is not afraid to let the content take over. In this, obviously composed work, there is still a large space for all those sounds to act freely. It is almost like Christina is waiting for the music to compose itself. This technique speaks of respect and trust for the listener, since it gives the listener freedom to personally connect the lines.
When you put the needle on this record, everything turns to stone—pahoehoe. The music flows and nurtures. Sounds that come from various realities—molded into a mutual understanding. With each spin, new events catch the ears. Like looking at a landscape, perceiving new details close and far with every gaze.
Somewhere the invasive Coqui frogs sing their beautiful staccato. A sound echoing annoyances with local farmers. But ... And before you know it, you’ve reached the end of the record. Showing another quality I so much adore. The act of playing with time.
Yes, when Christina warps both time and space for you, it comes to you as a gift."
Wolfgang Voigt reshuffles his gorgeous Gas release ‘Oktember’, pairing the original vinyl B-side with the balmy drift of ‘TAL 90’ from the CD editions for a 20 year reminder of one of dub and ambient techno’s most effortlessly elegant and distinguished projects.
Originally issued in 1999 in between his albums ‘Königsforst’ and ‘Narkopop’, the two track 12” has now been resequenced in a sort of director’s cut edition that pairs the hippo’s heartbeat thud and scudding, autumnal strings of ‘Oktember’s original 15’ minute B-side with the sun-setting romance of ‘TAL 90’, where Voigt’s yen for yacht-rock guitar riffs is filtered thru a haze of cinematic strings loops, all suave as you like and practically smelling opulent.
It’s hard to overestimate the influence of Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas project on dub techno and so much music beyond - his grasp of its quintessence and tonal shading and shifts of colour rarely fail to take us to that place.
An advanced masterclass in Berlin beat science, ‘Wireless’ is the final and arguably strongest solo release by T++; aka Torsten Pröfrock, an artist with a long lineage of important releases under numrous aliases - Dynamo, Erosion,Log, Resilent, Traktor, Various Artists and more - a true pillar of Berlin's Techno legacy.
First issued by Honest Jon’s in 2010, the 2x12” features samples of singer and ndingidi-player Ssekinomu (originally found on the EMI archival dive ‘Bellyachers, Listen - Songs From East Africa, 1938-46’) reworked by Pröfrock into a volley of rambunctious but rudely disciplined club workouts some 75 years later. In many other hands, this could have been just another passable cut ’n splice edit, but T++ treats the material with a balance of reverence and raving license, highlighting an instinctive understanding of the original music's intent and purpose, and their deep rooted connection to modern fast rap and hardcore dance musics.
The four tracks amount to a contemporary classic in their field and also exist in a strong tradition of German artists ranging from Stockhausen to Can and Basic Channel whose music has crucially incorporated the fluid, rolling nature and spectra of African drumming patterns. However, it’s vital to point out that T++’s take on African drumming is also filtered thru a love of UK music - Jungle, D&B, garage, dubstep - meaning that his rhythms are properly underlined with syncopated, technoid basslines owing as much to Kingston, Jamaica as Brixton and Sheffield in the UK.
For anyone who had been intently listening to Pröfrock's output since his Traktor gems, thru his Dynamo aces, to early work with Monolake and his string of seminal T++ 12”s in the 2000’s, on its release in 2010 ‘Wireless’ quickly came to epitomise his approach to broken techno production at its most open-ended and inexorable. Between the itchy, sprung step of ‘Cropped’, the puckish darkside torque of ‘Anyi’, a voodoo communal in ‘Voice No Bodies’, and the reanimated spirits of ‘Dig’ you have some of the finest mutant techno ever cut to vinyl.
An absolute must-have for dancers and DJs.
7 years after the release of "Laughing Stock" and the end of Talk Talk, Mark Hollis recorded what has since gone on to be described as "quite possibly the most quiet and intimate record ever made".
In many respects it's an album no-less influential than "Laughing Stock", once again extending the parameters and smudging the boundaries between many disparate musical styles and influences, taking elements of jazz, classical and devotional music without ever really sounding like anyone or anything else you'll have heard before.
Much like "Spirit of Eden" and "Laughing Stock", it's an album that's really attained an almost mythical status - leaving so many desperately waiting to see if Hollis would ever return to making music again. Either way - his influence appears to be stronger today than ever before, and this gorgeous vinyl pressing has sent us off once again into a place we'd almost forgotten about but which has accompanied and enriched our lives for many years...
On his panoramic first album in half a decade, Roly Porter turns speculative modern antiquarian, alchemising inspiration from neolithic burial sites into a ravishing mix of classical string orchestration, medieval vocals and elemental electronics.
First developed for AV performances with MFO at Unsound, Atonal Berlin, and Sonic Acts, ‘Kistvaen’ shapes up as Porter’s solo album follow-up to ‘Third Law’ for Tri Angle and marks distance travelled from his 2011 debut album, issued after cutting his teeth with Jamie Teasdale in dubstep duo Vex’d. Taking its title from the granite tombs found scattered across Dartmoor in England’s South West, the album in a concerted effort to look back and forward at the same time, creating a gulf of perspective between the “New Stone Age” and the Anthropocene that provides an absorbing framework for the grand scope of his sound designs.
The results are Porter’s finest-graded blend of tropes reaped from the fields of Black Metal, cinematic sound design, dark ambient and electro-acoustic music, mixed with the more mannered traditions of early medieval vocals and modern classical string arrangements. Working with singular vocalist Mary-Anne Roberts – from medieval Welsh music duo Bragod, Ellen Southern – of Bristol's Dead Space Chamber Music group, and Phil Owen – a singer and researcher in vocal traditions, the results range from wailing doom recalling Jani Christou and Ghédalia Tazartès in ‘Assembly’, to striking widescreen visions comparable with Jóhann Jóhannsson in ‘An Open Door’, and shoring up in the metaphorical waves of time that crash over closer ‘Kistvaen’.
South African disco 12” originally released in 1983, the start of the country’s ‘bubblegum’ era. Adaye was a once-off studio project featuring members of Stimela, the SA supergroup formerly known as The Cannibals and at the time also recording under aliases like the Street Kids and Kumasi.
"As Adaye they roped in singer Al Etto and went into the studio with Heads Music boss Emil Zoghby, who shares songwriting credits with Ray Phiri on the only track they released: ‘Turn It Up’ - an eight-minute slice of guitar funk throbbing to a disco beat. Remastered from the original tapes and reissued on DJ Okapi’s Afrosynth Records."
Connoisseurs’ choice Japanese ambient jazz-fusion from 1993, gilded with killer slinky bass work, FM synths and computerised atmospheres - massive RIYL Haruomi Hosono, Jon Hassell, James Ferraro, 0PN, Visible Cloaks.
“Official reissue of Motohiko Hamase’s extremely rare live album Anecdote (recorded in 1987). The album is sourced from original masters and available on vinyl (double LP) for the first time ever as well as on CD. This marks the sixth release from the ESPLANADE SERIES which focuses on the works of Yoshio Ojima, Motohiko Hamase and Satsuki Shibano.
Anecdote was recorded live June 12th 1987 at Spiral Garden (Wacoal Art Center) in Aoyama (Tokyo) as part of the Eat Newsic Concert No.3. Motohiko Hamase on electric fretless bass, synthesizers and computer programming, is accompanied by frequent collaborators Toshio Kaji on acoustic piano and synthesizers, and Yasunori Yamaguchi (of #Notes of Forestry fame) on acoustic percussions. The three-man band improvises around Hamase’s unique repertoire of ambient and electronic music, reinterpreting pieces from his albums Reminiscence, Intaglio, and #Notes of Forestry.
It’s environmental and minimalist experiments with a jazz soul, three brilliant musicians flowing to blissful heights, and a beautiful testament to the 80s Japanese ambient scene that gave birth to seminal releases by Midori Takada, Satoshi Ashikawa, Yutaka Hirose and many more. Essential.
The live album came out on CD only in 1993 on Motohiko Hamase’s Lung Records. It is now reissued in conjunction with his #Notes of Forestry and Anecdote albums.”
Black Truffle’s documentation of the prolific recent work of legendary American composer Alvin Lucier continues with a special selection of pieces written for the thirteen-member Ever Present Orchestra, formed in 2016 exclusively to perform Lucier’s works. It’s always the same for us with Lucier, the beating patterns suck us in immediately, like some colossal physical shock treatment, after which everything else starts to slowly sink in. This is truly transcendental music for our time - count yrself lucky to be alive at the same time as Lucier.
"At the heart of the ensemble are four electric guitars, an instrument Lucier began composing for in 2013 with Criss-Cross (recorded by two core members of the Ever Present Orchestra, Oren Ambarchi and Stephen O’Malley, for whom it was composed, on Black Truffle 033). Through the use of e-bows, the guitars take on a role akin to the slow sweep pure wave oscillators heard in many of Lucier’s works since the early 1980s, but with added harmonic richness. Like much of Lucier’s instrumental music, the pieces recorded here focus on acoustic phenomena, especially beating patterns, produced by the interference between closely tuned pitches.
The work presented here is some of the richest and most inviting that Lucier has composed. Though all of the pieces clearly belong to the same continuing exploration of the behaviour of sound in physical space and make use of related compositional devices, each takes on a strikingly different character. Titled Arc, for the full ensemble of four guitars, four saxophones, four violins, piano and bowed glockenspiel inhabits a world of sliding, uneasy tones, punctuated by a single piano note. Where Double Helix, for four guitars, rests on a pillow of warm, low hum, EPO-5, for two guitars, saxophone, violin, and glockenspiel possess a limpid, crystalline quality. Accompanying the four new compositions are two adaptations of existing pieces for radically different instrumentation, demonstrating Lucier’s excitement about the new possibilities suggested by this dedicated ensemble. Works for the Ever Present Orchestra is an essential document of the current state of Lucier’s continuing exploration, as well as offering a seductive entry-point for anyone who might yet be unacquainted with his singular body of work."
Two years since 'Splazsh' topped a stack of annual polls, Actress presents his 3rd, and most coherent album, 'R.I.P' - his 2nd for Honest Jon's.
Despite being a vital cog in the machinery of underground UK dance and electronics since at least 2004 (when he released his 'No Tricks' debut), it's fair to say that it's only in the last few years he's made the shift from cult concern to acknowledged auteur of some repute. His work with Damon Albarn's DRC Music, beside a legendary DJ set at Sonar and killer remixes of Shangaan Electro, Panda Bear and Radiohead all certify the fact; so expectations are no doubt set high for 'R.I.P'.
Produced exclusively on hardware and inspired by Milton's classic poem 'Paradise Lost', he's arranged his most labyrinthine, esoteric release to date; a timeless set of 15 tracks traversing crystallized radiophonics and subterranean Techno with a psychedelic sideswipe that leaves us dazed and beguiled. By assimilating machine-like characteristics - his notions of "seeping yourself liquid into the machinery" and "I'm just an instrument, I'm completely dead when I write" - he's become an interpreter, a symbiotic conduit of semi-lucid visions into the interzone whose revelations contain the potential to manipulate your consciousness in magical ways compared to the prosaic intentions of so much bland and overwrought electronic music out there.
The newfound clarity and fluid narration of 'R.I.P.' makes this the most intriguing chapter in the Actress saga so far - an unmissable experience.
An absolute treasure of an album, CS + Kreme’s debut is an early contender for 2020’s best - a quietly seductive, deeply romantic and stealthily addictive long player in the most classic, enduring sense.
’Snoopy’ has got under our skin with its opiated elegance and spellbinding hooks over the precious few months we’ve had the pleasure of spending in its company. Through eight immaculate songs and instrumentals, the duo’s Conrad Standish and Sam Karmel expand on the stripped-down chamber-pop of their prized 2016 debut, absorbing aspects of baroque composition, ritualist psychedelia, spiritual jazz and avant classical into their patented framework of groggy 808 bass, slow-baked vocals and none-more-effective, hypnagogic atmospheres.
Where CS + Kreme’s debut 12” for Total Stasis irrevocably came to soundtrack a portion of our lives, especially its highlight ‘Devotion’, we suspect these coming years will be defined by the low lit allure and melancholy of ’Snoopy’. We’ve already lost count of the number of times it’s seduced us to the horizontal from the first strokes of warbly organ and Conrad’s velvet croon in ‘Saint’, only to find ourselves stunned by the hypnic tear-jerk of its denouement during the final stages of ‘Mount Warning’, and genuinely wondering how the fuck we got there/what time is it/where did everyone go?
Pay a little more sober attention to it, though, and you’ll discover the most tender, sensuous body of work inside, slipping from exquisite baroque trip hop in ‘Faun House’ to the divine, Coil-esque ritual prostration of ‘Blue Flu’, and enchanted neo-classical keys recalling Dominique Lawalrée in ‘Pussywhistle Tea’, whereas the groggy skronk of ‘The Whale’s Tail’ recalls a smudged and psilocybic instrumental echo of Leslie Winer’s downtown ennui, and ‘Slug’ could almost be a knackered Andy Stott with a dose of sleazy guilt.
We don’t say this often, but this album is practically perfect in every way. It’s like a therapist who calmly draws out your inner feelings and leaves you in floods of tears, feeling cathartic but bruised. And it may come as little surprise that CS + Kreme are intimately linked to HTRK, whose Jonnine Standish also supplies vocals secreted inside (...be kind to animals, aye), and with whom they share a deep musical pathos. If you’re still reading, you’re evidently intrigued, and we implore you to follow thru and cop the most affective album you’ll hear in 2020. We’d be very happily surprised if anyone surpasses this slab.
100% must check.
Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
Blackest Ever Black draw a line under their tenure as preeminent label of the decade with a typically affective compilation that perversely introduces new acts to their fold(ing).
Not to overstate it, but for many avowed fans it’s possible to measure a block of our lives by BEB’s existence. When they first emerged with Raime’s stark debut, they were a breath of dank but necessary air to the British music scene. Staunch in their tastes but also wide open with it, they continued to draw a jagged line around the music that they loved, and a ruck of disparate loners, ravers and weirdos were more than happy to follow their lead between mutant forms of UK dance musick, eldritch psychedelia, smoky French avant-garde, incredible mixtapes, and indie-pop also-rans rewarded with a necessary 2nd wind. They left us with a bold yet sensitive and singular catalogue that precipitated all sorts of salty fluids from their legion followers, and will go down as one of the definitive labels of the 2010’s.
Rounding up 10 ghostly vignettes ranging from funereal pop to liminal ambient ’A short illness from which he never recovered’ sees the label off in a poetic fashion that has served them beautifully well thus far. Carla Dal Forno’s gently fevered dirge ‘Blue Morning’ (a cover of ‘The Kiwi Animal’ by Julie Cooper) is an obvious highlight, as is the plangent strain of Bridget Hayden’s ’Solace’, along with the watery, strumming-by-an-open-window vibe of ‘De Dröigen Blaar’ by Hypnotic Sleep, and the strung-out beauty of Scythe’s ‘Flower, Drop’, but you can rest assured that the whole LP perfectly plays thru like a heart-breaking, personal mixtape compilation from a friend who you’re never going to see again.
Please allow the sentimentality, though, ‘cos BEB will live on both thru their catalogue and in their metamorphosis into Low Company, who have evidently picked up the baton and are continuing to run with it into greener pastures fertilised by new and old wavers and ravers alike.
Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto share recordings of their show at Sydney Opera House in 2018, yielding 80 minutes of sublime, glassy electronics; minimal but full of that light-handed emotive brilliance Sakamoto seems to always supply so generously, and with such little effort. Gorgeous, moving music.
“Last year the duo undertook a series of live events entitled ‘TWO’ at Berlin’s Funkhaus, Barcelona’s Theatre Grec (closing Sonar Festival’s 25th Anniversary), London’s Barbican Centre and Melbourne’s Hammer Hall, before culminating at Sydney Opera House, where their two hour set was recorded and edited down, forming this album.
“’TWO’’s pulsing, immersive live performance melded electronic and analogue instrumentation with striking visuals to create one of the most precise, beautiful and challengingly magnetic pieces we have ever had the privilege of staging. That Sakamoto and Noto are pleased enough with the recorded result to share its continuously unfolding, sinuous, questioning music with others is as singular an honour as it was for Sydney Opera House to host them." Ben Marshall - Head of Contemporary Music, Sydney Opera House.
Sharing a deep simpatico synergy, Alva Noto’s abstract electronic formalism contrasts and compliments Sakamoto’s exquisitely elegant piano finesse, which incorporates an individualistic take on classical, contemporary, minimalism and even a touch of jazz. At points melodic, atmospheric, gently rhythmic, textural and spatial, audio headspaces range from intimate and serene womb-like flotation, infinite fathoms of dark metaphysical expanse and moments of devastatingly poignant beauty.
The sparing, subtle use of parts populating the mix belies a deceptively effective whole, which indicates two masters’ skill and confidence in being able to say something profound with an intentionally restricted sonic vocabulary. At all times the album maintains a calm poise, and despite its improvised nature withholds an innate harmony and graceful order. Like two aural architects free-drawing, this is sound design for better living.”
Wolfgang Voigt commits one of GAS's most darkly sublime albums with 'Rausch', which arrives nearly one year on from Narkopop to remind us his position as the prince of ambient techno.
Meant to be listened to from end to end without interruption, but also included as seven discrete parts for those who need them, Rausch unfurls in diaphanous form along a depressed heartbeat march of padded kicks swept with distant horns and string swells in the faithful, time-honoured style of Wolfgang Voigt's finest recordings.
The difference lies in the feeling conjured by these swollen crests of abstracted instrumental textures and timbre. Rather than dreaminess or tranquilised melancholy, this one feels portent, impendingly stygian, as though summing up humankind’s incessant trudge toward a bleak unknown horizon, resulting in the emergence of sounds more akin to Sunn 0))), with his entrenched kicks struggling to break the gloom, and poetically losing out in the end.
Andy Stott’s first release since 2016 and first EP since 2011, ‘It Should Be Us’ is a double EP of slow and raw productions for the club, recorded this year and following on from a series of EP’s that started with ‘Passed Me By’ and ‘We Stay Together’ early this decade.
Recorded fast and loose over the summer, these 9 tracks (8 on the vinyl) harness a pure and bare-boned energy, melodies subsumed by drum machines and synths; slow, rugged abandon. It’s all about rhythmic heat and disorientation, pure dance and DJ specials rendered at an unsteady pace, from percolated house and percussive rituals to moody tripped-out burners.
There’ll be a new Andy Stott album in 2020, but in the meantime... this one’s for dancing.
The 3LP edition of Wolfgang Voigt’s most treasured Gas release is finally freed of the 2016 boxset and available as a standalone edition to a definitive ambient techno classic
Originally issued as a 2LP in 2000 as the 4th Gas transmission, ‘Pop’ remains among the Kompakt co-founder and European techno catalyst’s finest work. By 2000 Wolfgang Voigt has indelibly carved his name on European electronic music with a huge catalogue touching on myriad strains of rave, techno and trance for everyone from Warp to Sähkö and Force Inc., including very canny lines in flipping pop classics far out of their original frameworks. With the Gas series he refined and applied that latter aesthetic to the grand orchestrations of Wagner in a strolling style of breezy strings and booming bass drum heartbeats designed to accompany his walks through the Black Forest. ‘Pop’ is arguably among the most revered of these rambling soundtracks and has now been afforded the fitting luxury of a 3LP pressing giving each track more room to breath and let the listener take in the scenery.
In our books it’s an evergreen essential that rarely fails to draw us into its gently insistent, ambulating pace and naturally plangent ambience.
The cosmic rhythms of Can’s Jaki Liebzeit endure at the hands of expert percussionists Burnt Friedman and Portugal’s João Pais Filipe (HHY & The Macumbas) in the accompanying EP to the book "Jaki Liebezeit: The Life, Theory and Practice of a Master Drummer"
In the grubbing bass and spaceward outlook of ’Out Of Ape’ and across the 9 mins of sloshing, swingeing syncopation in ‘Fibres of P’, Friedman and João Pais herald Liebzeit’s influence in a way that also highlights his influence over Shackleton and João Pais’s work with the wild Portuguese battery HHY & The Macumbas, who just dropped a killer EP on Nyege Nyege Tapes. On the EP’s other half, Liebzeit makes an appearance in two drum dialogues with Friedman, recorded in the studio, 2016 and played live frequently, best showing off their hypnotic duel of drums, dub FX and possessed electronics on the ambient techno-adjacent trajectory of ‘Eurydike’, and with a more earthy hustle in ‘Star Wars’.
Carsten Nicolai and Ryoji Ikeda’s seminal minimalist project is now finally available to download. Originally issued on CD and LP in 2001, cyclo.’s . was, and more or less still is, the last word in purest, stoically funked-up digital sound pressure.
“cyclo. is a collaborative research project by Ikeda and Nicolai which focuses on the visualisation of sound. The artists are developing a database of sounds that they are composing for the visual responses these produce when analysed in real time using equipment developed originally for phase correlation in mastering vinyl records. With such stereo image monitoring equipment, the phase and amplitude of stereo signals can be illustrated graphically.
The audio elements have been constructed and chosen through agendas concerned with the minute editing of frequencies (often beyond the physical range of human hearing) and the perceptual amassing of audio elements to an undefined point. For Nicolai and Ikeda an 'infinity index’ of sound fragments is a conscious motivation forming the basis of their research and feeding cyclo. with the audio material required for visuality.
In amassing this archive, Nicolai and Ikeda transcend the usual dynamic whereby image acts merely as a functional accompaniment to sound. They arrive at a standpoint from which the audio element in the process is subservient to the desire and appetite of the image. Although this imaging is purely 2-D in display, the process proposes 3-D possibilities. Their proposition is that the structural complexities of these visual metered shapes, born and examined from the perspective of audio metering, may have in them a rich potential for architects, designers and engineers to find starting points for structural readings.”
Carsten Nicolai’s Noton present a masterclass in minimalist electronic discipline with Mika Vainio, Ryoji Ikeda + Alva Noto’s powerfully future-proofed Live 2002 performance, recorded at Newcastle’s Baltic arts centre.
The only known recording of the trio, as far as we’re aware, Live 2002 documents three visionary artists in seamless, indivisible collaboration segueing from sublime drone darkness (Movements 1) thru what sounds like a massive computer server centre playing dancehall (Movements 2 + 4), to fiercely dense electro dynamics (Movements 6) and passages of purest, rolling techno pressure (Movements 8), intercut with bodiless, beatless electronic frequency massages.
Being familiar with each artist’s respective, individual catalogues, we’re pretty astonished at the level of democratic control between the three singular producers. While it’s maybe possible (or pedantic) to pick out who’s doing what, and where and when, ultimately the 45 minute performance is a lesson in subtlety and restraint at the service of generating powerful, coolly organised pressure systems, without recourse to convention/cliché (delete as applicable), offering electronic sounds at the purest and perhaps even egoless. Definitely no grandstanding doofus in front of a massive IPhone screen filtering dull as fuck doofs here.
Foundational techno business from 1993, documenting Mark and Moritz pelting ‘em out live at 145bpm at Waschhaus, Potsdam and setting the template for a whole genre for 3 decades (and counting) to come.
The titular A-side is a monstrous minimalist pounder built for maximalist effect; drop it at the right time and the effect is intensely powerful. On the B-side ‘Phylyps Base’ is a more concise version giving more room for the low end to boom out, and ‘Axis’ focuses on martial 909 percussion in a very Millsian or UR style.
Every home should own a copy!
Immaculate Prince vibes from A.K. Paul - bro to Jai and co-boss of Paul Institute - serving his 2nd solo single following production for Miguel and Everything Is Recorded.
Sounding like he’s just bubbled a bong and come out with it, ‘Be Honest’ hits slow and direct with aching Paisley Park style production in the future-proofed cybeR&B chords and slippy downstroke.