Christian Fennesz relays four compelling deep space images from his unique electro-acoustic microcosmos in ‘Agora’, the Viennese artist’s first album since ‘Bécs’ 
Borrowing its title from the ancient greek word for a gathering place, ‘Agora’ finds Fennesz creating highly detailed, alien ecologies of sound riddled with myriad, interlaced dynamics, but each singular in their scope. They variously transition from wide-open to busy, hyper-populated zones of enquiry and back again, but paradoxically enough all come as the result of one man in his spare room, composing inside a pair of headphones.
Change of circumstances meant that Fennesz couldn’t use his usual studio and by necessity was limited to what was at hand in his spare bedroom-turned-studio - just like the old days when he wrote his first record. These limitations pushed him further to explore worlds of possibility contained within his guitar and computer, with drily functional titles such as ‘In My Room’ invoking ideas from both Alvin Lucier and J.G. Ballard to explore vast realms of reverberant, imaginary space, while ‘Rainfall’ feels to emulate a lush spring downpour over bust city streets, all splitting greys and oil and concrete reflection, and ‘Agora’ radiates into every corner of the synthesised soundfield with gloriously detached, isolationist effect, alongside the bittersweet then and coruscating texture of ‘We Trigger The Sun’.
Lovely, organic modular synthesis reflecting the natural world in a humble, new age, and microkosmically-expressive style
“"full/new" is an expression of mutual planetary motion. Drawing a school of listeners to the floor of Commend’s relatively small interior on a late July Sunday afternoon in 2018, Emily A. Sprague and Lightbath (aka Bryan Noll) provided an hour of aqueous reflections that whispered with the trees outside on Forsyth street and tempered the activity of the surrounding island.
Frequent collaborators, Sprague and Noll have been traveling some years on the same light ship through music, friendship, darkness, and spiritual joy, sailing not only the same creative waters of improvised ambient music but also of deeper life events, providing support and connection. full/new represents the cosmic encounter of these two amongst friends, their complementary sets in healing ceremony, celebration and reunion.
To begin, Lightbath (in collaboration with a plant via the MIDI Sprout) daubs an arc of floaty melodics, chalky auras and affecting chimes into space. Nurtured by Noll’s composer-gardner spirit, “full” manifests a magnetic kineticism as person and machine travel together exchanging ideas in turn, flowing with the motion and change of the tides. An articulation of weightless abundance, “full” is balanced by the complementary piece “The Hermit”, a seven-minute piece recorded six days before the event using the same configuration of modules. Noll describes “The Hermit” as a meditation on one zone while its dynamic sibling, “full” is a stream of consciousness journey through multiple.
If “full” portrays voluptuous movement, “new” is its accompanying voice of possibility and renewal. Sprague pulls listeners into a thin cocoon of reverie, swayed gently by arpeggios in positive and negative acceleration. An interlude of rustling, trickling, bird calls and the occasional tapping signals the frolicking of polyphonic melodies over a swelling, sonorous bass. The final movement stills out into a sanguine solitude, leaving us with a single, extended note.”
Hearing Plantasia in the 21st century, it seems less an ode to our photosynthesizing friends by Garson and more an homage to his wife, the one with the green thumb that made everything flower around him.
"In the mid-1970s, a force of nature swept across the continental United States, cutting across all strata of race and class, rooting in our minds, our homes, our culture. It wasn’t The Exorcist, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, or even bell-bottoms, but instead a book called The Secret Life of Plants. The work of occultist/former OSS agent Peter Tompkins and former CIA agent/dowsing enthusiast Christopher Bird, the books shot up the bestseller charts and spread like kudzu across the landscape, becoming a phenomenon. Seemingly overnight, the indoor plant business was in full bloom and photosynthetic eukaryotes of every genus were hanging off walls, lording over bookshelves, and basking on sunny window ledges. The science behind Secret Life was specious: plants can hear our prayers, they’re lie detectors, they’re telepathic, able to predict natural disasters and receive signals from distant galaxies. But that didn’t stop millions from buying and nurturing their new plants.
Perhaps the craziest claim of the book was that plants also dug music. And whether you purchased a snake plant, asparagus fern, peace lily, or what have you from Mother Earth on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles (or bought a Simmons mattress from Sears), you also took home Plantasia, an album recorded especially for them. Subtitled “warm earth music for plants…and the people that love them,” it was full of bucolic, charming, stoner-friendly, decidedly unscientific tunes enacted on the new-fangled device called the Moog. Plants date back from the dawn of time, but apparently they loved the Moog, never mind that the synthesizer had been on the market for just a few years. Most of all, the plants loved the ditties made by composer Mort Garson.
Few characters in early electronic music can be both fearless pioneers and cheesy trend-chasers, but Garson embraced both extremes, and has been unheralded as a result. When one writer rhetorically asked: “How was Garson’s music so ubiquitous while the man remained so under the radar?” the answer was simple. Well before Brian Eno did it, Garson was making discreet music, both the man and his music as inconspicuous as a Chlorophytum comosum. Julliard-educated and active as a session player in the post-war era, Garson wrote lounge hits, scored plush arrangements for Doris Day, and garlanded weeping countrypolitan strings around Glen Campbell’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” He could render the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel alike into easy listening and also dreamed up his own ditties. “An idear” as Garson himself would drawl it out. “I live with it, I walk it, I sing it.”
But as his daughter Day Darmet recalls: “When my dad found the synthesizer, he realized he didn’t want to do pop music anymore.” Garson encountered Robert Moog and his new device at the Audio Engineering Society’s West Coast convention in 1967 and immediately began tinkering with the device. With the Moog, those idears could be transformed. “He constantly had a song he was humming,” Darmet says. “At the table he was constantly tapping.” Which is to say that Mort pulled his melodies out of thin air, just like any household plant would.
The Plantae kingdom grew to its height by 1976, from DC Comics’ mossy superhero Swamp Thing to Stevie Wonder’s own herbal meditation, Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. Nefarious manifestations of human-plant interaction also abounded, be it the grotesque pods in Invasion of the Body Snatchers or the pothead paranoia of the US Government spraying Mexican marijuana fields with the herbicide paraquat (which led to the rise in homegrown pot by the 1980s). And then there’s the warm, leafy embrace of Plantasia itself.
“My mom had a lot of plants,” Darmet says. “She didn’t believe in organized religion, she believed the earth was the best thing in the whole world. Whatever created us was incredible.” And she also knew when her husband had a good song, shouting from another room when she heard him humming a good idear. Novel as it might seem, Plantasia is simply full of good tunes. Garson may have given the album away to new plant and bed owners, but a decade later a new generation could hear his music in another surreptitious way. Millions of kids bought The Legend of Zelda for their Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1986 and one distinct 8-bit tune bears more than a passing resemblance to album highlight “Concerto for Philodendron and Pothos.” Garson was never properly credited for it, but he nevertheless subliminally slipped into a new generations’ head, helping kids and plants alike grow.
Hearing Plantasia in the 21st century, it seems less an ode to our photosynthesizing friends by Garson and more an homage to his wife, the one with the green thumb that made everything flower around him. “My dad would be totally pleased to know that people are really interested in this music that had no popularity at the time,” Darmet says of Plantasia’s new renaissance. “He would be fascinated by the fact that people are finally understanding and appreciating this part of his musical career that he got no admiration for back then.” Garson seems to be everywhere again, even if he’s not really noticed, just like a houseplant."
Black Dice cat Eric Copeland runs roughshod around house, disco and techno in his patented ‘Freakbeat 4/4’ style for DFA
Also self-described as “late Night Flight proto tekno”, the tracks are imperfectly caught between avant-rock and messy dancefloor sensibilities in a rub n tug between some of his straightest groves and haywire hooks.
Best of the lot are ‘Pay Off’ which sounds like Larry Heard lost his shit while running through ‘Feel It’ and ended up going well off road, and likewise ‘Beat It’, which could be Arthur Russell doing acid and then making it, and the two squirming 8-bit steppers ‘Falo’ and ‘High Score Zed’.
Marja Ahti poetically manifests the super-natural and pataphysical via environmental field recordings, Buchla 200, ARP 2600, bowl gong and harmonium with ‘Vegetal Negatives’, her first proper release under this name following a run of tapes and LPs as Tsembla, and roles in Finnish psych ensembles Kiila and Kemialliset Ystävät. Imagine the sound of dolphins swimming through soil, or Wanda Group finding his true form as a bed of nettles…
‘Vegetal Negatives’ brings to light Finnish artist Marja Ahti’s deeply sensuous and texturally-aware style of holistic composition, giving voice to the natural world as a prism through which to imagine what happens when the natural order of biology and physics mutate in unreal ways.
This poetic license opens up Marja’s sound to vivid reaches of the imagination. Moving on from her string of albums as Tsembla, and her work in the Kemialliset Ystävät and Kiila ensembles, she navigates a lushly overgrown garden of the mind in four parts. Two longer sections ‘Coastal Inversion’ and ‘Chora’ offer immersive space-time manipulations, with the former meshing brittle, glassy sounds with head-wobbling acoustic chicanery to sound like some jellified gamelan orchestra, while the 12 minute ‘Chora' - laced with deeply strange, breathing organisms, most spellbindingly gives voice to the natural world, both human, and, in effect, Ur-Terrestrial.
They’re separated by two more concise works, the para-dimensional space of ‘Rooftop Garden’ with its richly evocative segues between mechanical and environmental sounds, and ’Symbiogenesis’, which sounds like phosphorescing flora singing to each other after sundown.
From Syria via L.A. and upstate New York, K Á R Y Y N makes a strong impression with debut album ‘The Quanta Series’, following a beguiling collaboration with Actress’ Young Paint Ai. No half measures here, K Á R Y Y N is a proper triple threat, writing, producing and performing every track in a dramatic, soaring heart-on-sleeve style of IDM/ambient and operatic pop RIYL Björk, Holly Herndon, Fovea Hex
“Written and recorded over a seven year period, 'THE QUANTA SERIES' tracks K Á R Y Y N’s movements across continents on a voyage of self-examination. Beginning in 2011 following the death of two relatives in Aleppo, K Á R Y Y N left her native LA for Cherry Valley, upstate New York to process her grief in seclusion. During the 18 months she lived in Cherry Valley, K Á R Y Y N wrote two songs for 'THE QUANTA SERIES'. The first was a visceral, emotional piece recorded in one take called 'TODAY I READ YOUR LIFE STORY 11:11'. The second, a musing on impermanence and understanding the impact of our choices called 'SEGMENT & THE LINE'.
Over the years that followed, K Á R Y Y N spent time living in Berlin where she wrote 'PURGATORY', a song inspired by a memory from her childhood spent in the Forty Mountains of Idlib province in Syria. As she travelled, she found inspiration everywhere, leaning into her own familial legacy, feelings of grief and love and observations on human interaction. A deep connection to her lineage is a concurrent theme in K Á R Y Y N’s work, with an interpretation of traditional Armenian folk song 'AMBETS GORAV' present on the album plus a beautiful choral patchwork called 'MIRROR ME' providing an introspective break in the album - a track about "facing yourself, the good, the bad; searching for the parts in us that have been lost."
‘The Smoke’ is Alina Astrova’s third and best LP as Lolina since placing her Inga Copland and Hype Williams projects on ice...
It renders a poetically insightful study of life in London, where she ekes out a sense of shadow-strafing play from its fetid streets, revelling in the spaces between sticky pavements and 24 hour off license-lit environs with a signature mix of ennui and louche observation framed by layered and attractively tacky production.
As an emigre living in the UK, Lolina’s perspective is perhaps ever more intriguing in the current climate of both footie, Novichok and Brexit fevers as her experience of the city feels embedded yet dreamily detached, with bright, fizzing synth presets and smudged, viscous rhythms meshed to her vocals in a manner that connotes a red-eyed mind drifting dazed between dawning afternoons and smeared evenings, coolly beguiled at the scenes unfolding around her.
The result is Lolina’s smartest solo record, a perfect headphone accompaniment to the capital, reflecting its character and characters in its mix of quizzically jazzy and arcane, chamber-like turns of phrase with sparing daubs of field recording peppered by ear-snagging lines such as “your eyes are one, your voice around me / why don’t you leave me in peace, to smoke my trees” in the massive highlight ‘A Path of Weeds and Flowers’, or the sung/spoken schismatics of “fake city/real city/cut the fug with a shank” in the drowsy jag of ‘Fake City, Real City’.
This one’s set to be a big favourite of ’18. Don’t miss.
Kompakt staple Jörg Burger (The Modernist, Burger/Ink ++) initiates a new compilation series, ‘Velvet Desert Music’ with 15 choice cuts strung between traces of rock, folk, country, surf, krautrock and psychedelic contemporary electronic music
“The concept shares some similarities to Kompakt’s Pop Ambient series as unlike a conventional compilation of tracks from different artists, Velvet Desert Music Vol.1 is a collection of music that creates a distinct vibe and atmosphere.
Jörg Burger is responsible for the concept and selection. The styles of music presented on Velvet Desert Music Vol. 1 play a crucial role and influence in his work for many years. Now he has created a platform for these styles. Beside showcasing his own music, Jörg Burger kept to inviting a close circle of friends and colleagues that share similar influences in their work. All of their contributions were specially composed or remixed for this collection.
Velvet Desert Music Vol. 1 features the first new Burger/Ink track since the release of their iconic full length “Las Vegas” on Harvest and Matador Records in 1996.
“Just think...from Sergio Leone to David Lynch, from Elvis in his deepest moments to Johnny Cash somewhere between amphetamine backlash and American Recordings, from Hollywood Babylon to Hotel California, from Mulholland Drive to Paris, Texas. Served with a pinch of Tago Mago and Pink Floyd at Pompeii. Then you know exactly what Velvet Desert Music is about...“ – JÖRG BURGER”
The mesmerising ’Ilana (The Creator)’ is desert blues maestro Mdou Moctar’s first album recorded in a proper studio and backed by a full band
Whirling at the heels of his live recordings made in Jack White’s Third Man complex, the Tuareg guitarist returns to his spiritual home of Sahel Sounds, flanked by Ahmoudou Madassane (Les Filles de Illighadad) on rhythm guitar, Aboubacar Mazawadje’s percussion, and Michael Coltun on bass, to present his magnum opus 10 some years since his debut album was distributed on SD cards across west Africa.
Mdou got to this point after his self-taught, fiery guitar skills were heard by Christopher Kirkley ov Sahel Sounds, who, after a few phone calls (Mdou dropped the first one, thinking it was a prank), secured Mdou’s ‘Tahoultine’ song for the now-seminal ‘Music From Saharan Cellphones’ compilation in 2010. A string of celebrated LPs have followed, including Mdou’s soundtrack for a Saharan remake of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’, and now on ‘Ilana (The Creator)’ he finally shows what he can do in a true studio setting, and with bios own band.
The results are wider, more layered, and immersively lusher than anything else in Mdou’s oeuvre, yet they lose none of the in-the-moment “life” found in his rawer, earlier works, or indeed his transfixing live performances across the EU and USA.
Comprising long hours of jamming in the studio, with later overdubs made in Niger, ‘Ilana (The Creator)’ harnesses Mdou and his group’s mesmerising energy in 9 songs, coursing with the kind of psychedelic feel that begs eyes closed and heads-down from the magnetic swiller of ‘Kamane Tarhanin’ thru the wide open blues space connoted by ‘Inizgam’, to the elegant, swaying rhythms and lilting harmonies in ‘Anna’, and a scorching tribute to Tuareg folklore in ‘Ilana’, with incendiary music underlining lyrics about France’s exploitation of Niger’s uranium reserves.
Cranky-ass cyber-punk blatz from San Fran’s Cube, picked up by Superior Viaduct’s sublabel, W.25th. Everything from rictus death rock steppers to sawn-off junglist dirges and bittersweet lullabies for folk who took too much wizz. RIYL Powell, StabUDown Productions, Puce Mary
“Cube is the prolific and chimeric nom de plume of one Adam Keith, formidable tape experimentalist and artist / abraser currently operating in Oakland, California's vibrant subterranea. After countless cassette releases, 2016's well-received My Cube LP and a tenure in no-wave faction Mansion, Keith reaffirms Cube's pledge with Decoy Street – his second album and the most developed work he has made under any guise to date.
Opener "In This House" serves as the ideal introduction to Cube: cellular interference, colliding circuitry, metal-on-metal grind and simplistic guitar distortion meet a towering and damaged beat. While "Habit" merges downtempo and industrial touchstones via layers of heavily treated vocals, "Sanctuary" tilts further towards propulsion – a dark treatise on discomfort, yet contagious enough to charm DIY and post-punk devotees.”
Studiously retro psychedelic soul from Sa-Ra’s Shafiq Husayn, alongside a dazzling supporting cast including; Erykah Badu, Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Hiatus Kaiyote, Bilal, Robert Glasper, Coultrain, Chris 'Daddy' Dave, I-Ced, Anderson Park, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Jimetta Rose, Fatima, Computer Jay, Medlodious Fly, Kamasi Washington,
“The Loop' is the new LP by Los Angeles based polymath Shafiq Husayn, an epic project which saw its inception in 2012 through a series of studio sessions at Shafiq’s home, including collaborations with the likes of Thundercat, Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus, Bilal and Anderson Paak. Amongst a close knit circle of friends and family the golden tones of The Loop were created, deeply rooted in ideas of song, story, history, guidance and spirituality. The album bumps, jumps and jangles through progressions in jazz, hip hop, soul and funk, following on from his debut album ‘Shafiq En’ A-Free-Ka’ and adding further to his rich history of timeless, unique music. On The Loop past, present and future are brought together through a psychedelic concoction of time traveling drum machines, celestial string sections and trails of synthesizer vapour. Inflections of Sly Stone, Pharaoh Sanders and Earth Wind And Fire traverse with Marley Marl and Dilla-esqe drums making for an organic yet LA-trifying experience.
Shafiq has brought together an impressive array of LA's musical royalty, enlisting the likes of Thundercat, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Kamasi Washington, Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave, Eric Rico, Coultrain, Computer Jay, Jimetta Rose, Om'Mas Keith, Kelsey Gonzalez, I-Ced and more to provide the backbone to his recording sessions. Drawing in features from an international cast of performers and artists like Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper, Hiatus Kaiyote, Fatima and Karen Be amongst others. Now complete and finally ready for release in 2019 The Loop is truly something to behold. The records is accompanied by a series of paintings by acclaimed Japanese visual artist Tokio Aoyama, who worked in tandem with Shafiq to create a painting for each song on the record.”
Alina Astrova (Inga Copeland, Hype Williams) customarily dispenses Lolina’s yearly report with Lolita, a self-released white label of warped bleep-techno-pop and clipped dembow bump.
Arriving a year on from her Lolin & Scratchin’ mix CD with DVA for BUS Editions, Lolita ‘fesses a perfectly uneasy trio of aces taking in the title track’s curdled dancehall tones and slippery lyrics on the A-side, while the flip sets her lilting, off-kilter vocals to dissonant dembow knocks on Keep It Movin’, whereas Plot Twist is the EP’s lone, wriggly neon instrumental, like some half-cooked prototype that crept out of Errorsmith’s studio when he wasn’t looking.
As part of their 20th Anniversary celebrations, Strut offer up the first new volume in their pioneering ‘Nigeria 70’ series for over 8 years, bringing together rare highlife, Afro-funk and juju from the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Compiled by collector and DJ Duncan Brooker, this new selection of tracks is receiving its first international release outside of Nigeria.
"The compilation returns to a fertile heyday in Nigerian music when established styles like highlife and juju became infused with elements of Western jazz, soul and funk and musicians brought a proud new message post-independence. Brooker places the spotlight particularly on some of the incredible Ukwuani musicians from the Delta State region as guitarist Rogana Ottah and Steady Arobby’s International Brothers Band forged their own fluid brand of highlife and soulman Don Bruce drew on the US R&B greats for a series of great albums and explosive stage shows at his residency at Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
Elsewhere, the album explores the close connection between Nigeria and Benin’s music, most famously through Sir Victor Uwaifo, appearing here with a killer mid‘80s ekassa jam, as well as highlife hitmaker Osayamore Joseph on ‘Obonogbozu’ (Joseph made headlines in Nigeria for very different reasons in 2017, surviving a one month kidnapping ordeal).
Other tracks include ‘Sickness’ a 1979 lament on how all countries share troubles by Prince Nico Mbarga, the Nigerian / Camerounian star behind the smash hit ‘Sweet Mother’; reggae singer Felixson Ngasia switches to funk and disco for a heavy workout with potent lyrics around black identity; another major highlife great Etubom Rex Williams unleashes a punchy psych funk gem with ‘Psychedelic Shoes’ and Africa 70 member Pax Nicholas vocals a simmering Afrobeat groove from Jacob Lee’s Saxon Lee & The Shadows International Band."
Heart-on-sleeve post-rock and modern classical drone navigations imbued with an absorbing narrative appeal by the Iranian composer for Lawrence English’s label
“I was watching The Mirror obsessively around 2013-2014. I wouldn’t go a day without watching at least a scene from the film. Something about the dreamlike flux of images made me calm, sometimes hopeful, many times just simply mesmerised.
The writings of Dostoyevsky had the same effect on me some years earlier. I lived in his books as I did in this movie.
I remember watching the scene where the mother is compared to Maria Timofeyevna, it all went around in my head like a dream; like a world of associations that surrounded my feelings. The significance of wind and trees, which are my lifelong obsessions, made this more beguiling. I chose certain characters from the film and two novels and let them play their own drama and sculpt time with sounds and images which later became some of these tracks.”
A wistful, fractal collection of introspective songs built from fragments of other people’s voices, sounds, and music by French/Canadian artist Jean Cousin aka Joni Void
“Mise En Abyme is the second full-length by Joni Void, the avant-electronica project of France/Canada producer Jean Cousin, following his acutely accomplished and acclaimed 2017 debut album Selfless. (#8 Experimental Album of 2017 at Pitchfork, among other accolades.)
Grappling with a cascade of heartbreaks and discontinuities over the past year, Cousin calls the new album a “time-travel experiment”, as he culls sounds from devices and sources spanning childhood to the present (phones, cameras, video games, home movies) to retrieve and reframe subjective memories, histories and “regressions through former selves” through immersion in the evocative potential of the mostly wordless voices of others. The resulting sonic portraits simultaneously convey formally abstract dislocations and highly emotive warmth, interiority, humanity and specificity.
Side A especially highlights these works – the “with people” half of the album, replete with contemplative, melancholic songs, each featuring a deconstructed performance by a different female voice, propelled to varying degrees with additive rhythmic and textural layers. Side B is the “isolation” half: vocal samples continue to make appearances, including Cousin’s own voice on the vertiginous “Voix Sans Issue” and his own lyrics on the computer-narrated text-to-speech spoken word of the confessional “Deep Impression” – but the contrasting vibe is more claustrophobic, anxious and febrile.
Mise En Abyme ends with a throwback to Cousin’s pre-Joni Void keyboard-based works as johnny_ripper on the gorgeous Rhodes piece “Persistence”, while the closing exuberant maximalist jam of “Resolve” fittingly samples every previous song and locks the album into a self-referential recursive sequence.”
Murderous, deep tech house and techno minimalism from Lucy, referencing Albert Camus’ classic french tome ‘The Stranger’ - also the inspiration behind The Cure’s first single
We advise drawing for ‘Dyscamupia (Paused)’, where the Stroboscopic Artefacts boss menacingly places the death croaking vocal over Twin Peaks-y pads and a direct, driving, uptempo pulse, and also to the ‘‘Dyscamupia (Backward)’ where the vocals are consumed by waves of noise then give way to a chilly breakdown.
Super bass-heavy Miami house dopiness from Greg Beato, trotting out his 2nd 12” in nearly as many weeks on his Ni Un Pero label
Named after the Miami-Dade jurisdiction he hails from, ‘Dade’ - also meaning to walk unsteadily - is a fine title for Beato’s sound on this EP, a blend of worn out drums underlined with heaving subs and sealed in muggy atmospheres.
His album aside, this is the most varied set in Beato’s catalogue, holding a line between the swaggering groove and furtive feel of ‘Tres’ with its grunting subs, thru the bleached out dub house lushness of ‘Cero’, and the head-high ‘Cinco’, to the tremendously weird whirligig of ‘Hasta’ and a grubbing oddity named ‘El Fin’.
Bubbling with psychedelic optimism and riddled with traces of classic soul, spiritual jazz, kosimiche rock and new age, ‘Radical American Hippy Kraut’ is the colourful new one from Brooklyn’s Time Wharp and Ch Rom
““We designed Radical American Hippy Kraut to meet the semi-necrotic but self-assured geriatric ambling last dance of patriarchy, monoculture, and the society of the unbound prioritized self. From a coffeeshop-bar-workshare-space identical to many others came the elemental code to the disruptor class’ ribbons of co-cultivating career gossamer light, and we’ve harvested this code to design instructions for developing higher pathways for the exchange of compassion and psyber-spiritual healing.
The blockchain prosperity silicon contagion continues to spread as the Earth is cannibalized by its children, who under duress of the elephanthead patriarchy succumb to the compulsion to auto-post and lifestream until we’re reduced to piles of calcium dust atop shattered lucite frames—but Wharp and Rom’s thundering motor drums rattle on in radical contrast! The group-selfthink grand optimization singularity is upon us, and thus we devote ourselves to dyspiritual para-American affective labor towards scuplting the counter-hymn of righteous joy and ecstatic hope against the undending statist drone of the convenience supremacist untopia.
- Wharp & Rom”
Killer Chi-house from a ghetto-house OG, squaring up the classic acid ov ‘Halloween House’ plus 3 previously unreleased knockers - all freshly remastered by Redshape
Singapore-based Midnight Shift Records have done a sterling job here, giving a second wind to the ‘floor-chewing 303 lines and psycho-jak stabs of ‘Halloween House’, which has been unavailable on wax since 1988, along with high-strength workouts in the Todd Terry-esque raver ‘Can’t Wait (Factory Mixx 1987)’, the inexorable acid drive of ‘Nightmare’ featuring Jammin’ Gerald, and the acid blues of ‘Jack My Body (Factory Mixx 1987)’, all primed to play at the nearest opportunity.
London-based electronaut Emile Facey aka Plant43 routes thru Sheffield’s CPU with a sparkling 4th solo LP of nimbly arranged arpeggios, brooding bloo pads and fluid hydraulics
Discerning androids and cyborgs will be in their element here with 8 exactingly crafted workouts flush with colourful chromatic melodies and night gazing Bladerunner feels anchored in effortless rhythms, including craftier runs into Arpanet styled calculations abundant int he 2nd half.
Brooding electronic soundscapes. Sounds a bit like ancient gods playing foghorns accompanied by darkly angelic string orchestrations...
“From Siavash... In the movie “Eternity and A Day” Alexandre makes a deal to buy three words from a refugee child. In making Subsiding my intent was to explore the affects, images and sounds of those words. One of the words was Argathini.
When the album was finished I mistakingly typed Agarthini as the first track’s name, it became an entirely different word. A few days before that; I had a conversation with a few friends about the intentional fallacy and works of Arvo Pärt (the music in this album is heavily influenced by him). It seemed apt to not to change the mistake and remain silent about the words.”
Highly infectious breakbeat garage vibes from NYC’s Falty DL and his south London counterpart, Benny Ill ov Horsepower Productions
Falty steps off with a signature volley of infectious 2-step with wild subs and simmering chords in ‘Ill Bent’, which Benny Ill reworks inna tuff-but-sweet jungle fashion on his ’Straight up III Mix’, and on a ruder, dubbed-out tip in the ‘Fat Larry’s Revenge Mix’, along with one of his inimitable originals in the cutthroat London rufige of ‘Is It Safe’.
From Michigan via Belgium, Tyler Dancer brings a rude Detroit flavour to his follow-up record for DBA, leading on from 2017’s debut 12” and strong remix of Funkadelic with Shake
Uptown he plays out the wickedly sub-heavy swagger of ‘Kármán Line’ with its hazy top line and rugged flow coming off like Shake meets Nolean Reusse, whereas ‘Shiva’s Hands’ puts the kicks down four square with frazzled handclaps and weird, piped-in lead to sound a bit New Beaty, and the pumping ‘Nyx’ lets some jazzy light trickle in to the mix for sweet contrast.
Palmistry loosens up his signature, nipped dancehall style with subtle traces of noise, slippery textures and off-kilter dissonance to bittersweet appeal in ‘Water’, his first solo outing since the well received ‘Pagan’ album in 2016
A wonderfully fine-feathered free jazz zinger from L.A., 1978, Horace Tapscott and the Pan Peoples Arkestra’s ‘The Call’ is reissued by DJ Harv’s Outernational Sounds for the first time
“Our Music is contributive, rather than competitive” - Horace Tapscott. Working under the right kinda steam, Tapscott and company play a blinder here, sending us reeling with the deliciously complex, rolling syncopation and flighty horns of ‘The Call’, then seducing with the mellifluous appearance of Adele Sebastian in ‘Quagmire Manor at Five A.M.’ before erupting into needlepoint bebop, and back out to Adele. Percussion fiends will then be in their element with the lithe, Afro-latinate swing and frenzied paso-doble vamps of ‘Nakatini Suite’, before they switch up and out again with the heady sway of strings and wind, hunched breaks and searching clarinet of ‘Peyote Song No. III.’
A proper Bobby Dazzler, this!
Proper ’93-style breakbeat ardcore pressure from TCM’s ‘Mind Bombing’ album, reissued for all 2019 rave kru
Originally dished up on the legendary Labello Blanco, the ‘Joyrider EP’ came at the latter end of TCM’s early ‘90s run, but still fires on all cylinders between the A-side’s fractious, patchworked zinger ‘Joyrider 2 (Last Ride To Hell)’ full of dubwise handbrake turns and dancefloor G-force, before ‘The Only Solution’ gets rabid with running man breaks, junglist sirens and twilight darkcore vibes, and ‘Voice Of The Mind’ gets nutty with bruxist string tension, shrieking divas and hyper old skool vibes - one of the last of its ilk before the ’94 phase shift.
Bringing to a close a series which has frankly altered the way we listen to and perceive sound and music over the course of this decade, Jakob Ullmann seals his important Fremde Zeit series with ‘Solo V for Klavier’; a fascinatingly stark and spectral hour-long finale that sets the idea of ‘Foreign Time’ in its most minimalist and broadest setting.
Like the previous instalments, ‘solo V für Klavier’ is interpreted from a graphic score, this time formed from a series of abstract water-colours aleatorically overlaid with transparent sheets marked with black lines, scattered in the manner of oracle sticks to create a pattern determining the duration of sections, their colour and sequencing. Whilst patently super-minimal, the piece’s pianissimo nature is too demanding for just one solo performer, Lukas Rikli, who requires the participation of three assistants who use horsehair on the strings to sustain the soundscape.
So far, so concrete (and the above is only a skim of the full technical requirements), but what occurs arguably falls within the realm of the supernatural and metaphysical. Performed according to Ullmann’s uniquely conjured laws of physics, the work opens an uncanny valley between the object - the grand piano - and subjective perceptions of its sound. It takes several minutes before one might even realise a piano is at the centre of the soundstage - somehow all the action appears to happen in the meridian, in the timbral, in the liminal aura, almost frighteningly connoting a presence but not the actual body that produced it.
It’s only when identifiable chords and strings occasionally loom forward that we can just about make out the fixed physicalities in the room, but in the process we’ve already attuned to Ullmann’s laws of sonic democracy (if you’re doing it properly, the piece should play at just above the volume of environmental sound - hence it works best at night), which makes any instrumental gesture, no matter how slight, appear magnified, animating a microcosmos of sound at the molecular level.
The results highlight the effective warzones of sonic bombardment and “pollution” we’re all subject to everyday, and most intently offer the invaluable space for retreat we’re all clearly, increasingly in need of.
Bugged-out but slow, heaving groves from Beijing’s Zaliva-D duo. Imagine a darker, munted Tzusing meets Toresch
“Welcome to the richly rhythmic and deeply esoteric world of Zaliva-D. Based in the Chinese capital of Beijing, they’ve been circling the country’s borders for more than a decade due to the extreme difficulty of streaming music there. Zaliva-D consists of musician Li Chao and Aisin-Gioro Yuanjin, who’s responsible for their stunning live visuals.
Wrapped around a core of gut wrenchingly ferocious kicks and haunting vocals, these tracks possess a mantra-like quality and drown the listener into a world of Chinese and South East Asian textures. Forsaken, mastered by Wouter Brandenburg, is their most well-written, organic and esoteric record to date, showing a more fragile, sensitive side.”
Necessary repress of Molly Nilsson’s ohrwurm-riddled and sought-after early classic, ‘History’ , which now trades for £100 average on 2nd hand market...
““I hope you die by my side, the two of us at the exact same time, I hope we die not long from now, the two of us at the exact same time”
By the time Molly Nilsson released History, she had already established a fledgling cult status built on homemade YouTube videos and home-burnt Cdrs. Writing from a distance, it’s clear that History is the first classic album in her canon and arguably a classic of the 21st Century underground music panorama. While the methodology on History hadn’t changed from Nilsson’s previous 3 albums – it was recorded solo at The Lighthouse, Nilsson’s home studio based on a Berlin crossroads – on this record the songwriting reached a new peak and the emotional scythe cut deeper. Here, Nilsson managed to combine a cosmic, outward looking perspective with an intimate knowledge of the human condition and its place in these turbulent times. In truth, no other songwriter has excavated the modern psyche so clearly and perfectly.
The tracklist to Nilsson’s fourth album reads as an early greatest hits for Molly Nilsson followers and also serves as the perfect entry point to a whole world the artist has been building for the last 10 years. In Real Life crystalises the millenial obsession with relationships built online, with a generation paying for the baby boomer’s excesses with their anxiety towards the harshness of every day life. It’s a call to arms for a generation who fell in love on Skype. On I Hope You Die, one of Molly Nilsson’s most iconic songs, the songwriter flips the song title into a tale of doomed romance, a relationship based on miscommunications and the thrill of the other. It’s also one of the most heartfelt songs full of pathos written by anyone, an ode to obsession. Doomed romance, life lived on the flipside of day and the role of the outsider in society are themes that crop up through-out History. On Bottles Of Tomorrow, the narrator is sweeping up, in love with the night and examining the remains a society
Available on vinyl for the first time in 40 years, Outernational Sounds proudly presents a crucial document from the Los Angeles jazz underground - the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra at their most together, stretching out on home turf in 1979, with the legendary Horace Tapscott at the helm.
"Horace Tapscott is one of the unsung giants of jazz music. A gifted composer and arranger, a boldly original pianist, and above all a visionary bandleader, Tapscott’s recorded footprint is small, but his legacy continues to vibrate through the Los Angeles music underground. From Freestyle Fellowship to Build An Ark, Kamasi Washington and Dwight Trible, it all traces back to Tapscott. The pianist was an organiser, and instead of chasing a successful recording career, he wanted to build a community band that would act as ‘a cultural safe house for the music.’ ‘I wanted to say, “This is your music. This is black music, and I want to present a panorama of the whole thing right here”’ said Tapscott in the late 1990s. ‘We would preserve the music on our ark, the mothership…’ That mothership was the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra – the Ark. As a culturally radical, communal big band with a visionary approach to American Black music, Tapscott’s group is second only to the other famous Arkestra, that of Sun Ra.
Tapscott had founded the group in 1961 as the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA). It changed its name to the Pan African Peoples Arkestra in 1971, and through the seventies the players lived, played and worked together. Community work and political consciousness were at the heart of the project, and for two decades they played in street, park and coffee house. With Tapscott as their guide and mentor, the Arkestra worked with theatre groups, poets and revolutionaries, ran music workshops and teaching sessions for children and adults, and played fundraisers, benefits and rallies for political and social causes both global and local.
From 1973 to 1981 their main rehearsal and concert space was the Immanuel United Church of Christ (I.U.C.C.) on 85th St and Holmes Ave. The Arkestra played there every second Sunday, developing their sound and hipping new audiences to their vision. Live At I.U.C.C., recorded in early 1979, was the only live recording the band released. In full flow, and at the height iof their powers, the group recorded here features original 1961 UGMA members Linda Hill, David Bryant and Alan Hines, alongside the powerful voices of a new generation including Jesse Sharps, Sabir Mateen, and Adele Sebastian.
Showcasing spiritualised classics from Arkestra’s songbook, including the heavy modal groovers ‘Desert Fairy Princess’ and ‘Macrame’, Live At I.U.C.C. is a rare chance to hear one of the most important, foundational bands in the music stretching out on their own thing. With the great Horace Tapscott at the piano, this is the rarely captured sound of the mothership in full flight!"
Solid, mid ‘80s Italo/NYC-styled dance trax from Masalo on the Rush Hour Store Jams series
A-side ‘New Dance’ is a dead on but slippery charge of clenched arps and cracking Linn drum punctuation lit up with slick pads to enhance your glyde. B-side ‘allows more space into the mix, to be filled with chattering vocal cut-ups while the groove holds tight.
A lost electronic gem of UK post punk vintage resurfaces with Kevin Harrison’s 1981 debut ‘Inscrutably Obvious’ - which is also known as ‘On Earth 2’ in its 1980 edition via Eyeless In Gaza’s Ambivalent Scale
Vacillating lo-fi disco miniatures with Gray-like percussive experiments, slinky lounge grooves with Burroughsian cut-ups and dub-funk, or shimmering avant-blues and new age/4th world incursions; there’s a hell of a lot going on with ‘Inscrutably Obvious’, and it’s all excellent to boot.
Somehow escaping wider attention until now, bar a few compilation appearances and use of his disco bits by Danielle Baldelli and TEED, Kevin Harrison’s debut LP is crammed with 17 parts that never outstay their welcome, adding up to something like a high quality, multi-artist compilation, yet remarkably all from just one gifted guy.
If you like anything from Leven Signs to Dome, The Normal, K. Leimer or early Eyeless in Gaza, you need to give this a whirl!
Perhaps the only good thing to emerge from Brexit is The Matthew Herbert United Kingdom and Gibraltar European Union Membership Referendum Big Band, herein referred to as TMHUKAGEUMRBB, and their album ‘The State Between Us’.
Presented as an album ruminating on what it is to be British in 2018, aside from the obvious shame and embarrassment, it locates a strength in numbers and our eccentricities with a cast of a thousand performers responding to the premature ejaculation of Article 50. Between them, they document an imagined journey on foot across Great Britain thru a mix of elegiac melodies with site-specific recordings of Chequers, a Welsh sheep farm, felled WWII planes, and walks along the Northern Irish border that lend a poetic, historically apt reading of a country entering the grip of madness.
Across the album’s 16 songs Herbert and co pull from every aspect of the past two years of Brexit, from interminable news cycles to a spectrum of British eccentricities, to our intrinsic links with the rest of the world, not to mention the EU. The results frame a contemplative collection of arrangements that, while sadly unlikely to change any Brexiteers minds, may at the least give them pause for thought, to reflect on all the good shit they’re so eager to extinguish.
It would be presumptuous of us to expect that all of our UK customers share our sentiment, but we’d wager a £10 that most of you do, and likewise many of our EU and RoW customers. So in effect we’re probably preaching to the choir. But in case we’re not, and you’re up for leaving the EU - and appreciate British sites like ours, or the wonderfully esoteric make-up of British culture in general - know that this could be seriously jeopardised by the clueless Tory pebbles (and those they’ve hoodwinked) who are clinging like winnets to the arsehole of Brexit. Fuck knows what we can do to remedy it apart form support albums like ‘The State Between Us’, and the wholly sensible idea of a 2nd referendum, come what may (or when May goes).
NYC wave-riders supreme, Xeno & Oaklander reprise their feted blend of drily gyroid-styled vocals, naggingly romantic synths and pointed rhythms in ‘Hypnos’, leading on from strong albums for Wierd Records and Ghostly International
“On their latest album Hypnos and first for the Dais imprint, the duo leveraged the talents of visual artist and live sound engineer Egan Frantz to mix the album. It’s a touch that adds both punch and balance, allowing their inherent conceptual voices to converge into a collage with defined edges and warm, synapses of frequency and beat.
“Musically, Hypnos is a return to polyphony after several years of using strictly monophonic synthesizers,” McBride says about the album’s ethos. “This has brought dense harmonies and a more complex counterpoint to the composition. Staying with the same equipment and processes without the inveterate compulsion to update and refashion allows for a clearly perceivable genealogy with our previous work.”
“I felt the desire to tell mythical stories, I also wanted my voice to sit strongly in the mix,” Wendelbo explains. “I channeled the spirits of 60s French Pop chanteuse Françoise Hardy and 80s New Wave New York icon Tina Weymouth.” Her intentions are best evidenced on the tracks “Angelique,”and “Insomnia,” the former a spry track sung in French, against a springy rhythm. Laden with expanding and contrasting frequency and a penchant for strategic rhythm, Hypnos juxtaposes dance with distance, creating an immersive oeuvre that exudes contrast and control.”
…And the earth crack'd to reveal Scott Walker & Sunn 0)))'s colossal offspring 'Soused' in its riveting, tragic glory.
Four years on from their intended collaboration in 'Monoliths & Dimensions', the arch avant-crooner meets the robed duo (and Tos Nieuwenhuizen) at the apex of their powers, presenting a peerless, operatic vision of doom metal informed as much by Native American history and the underground US psyche as experimental jazz and electronic dynamics. We can safely say it matches and surpasses our high expectations of the project, offering a complex, widescreen portal to a chiaroscuro world slashed in black by Anderson and O'Malley and illuminated by Walker's range of possessed vocal personas, from anguished despair to internal torment and shocking convulsions.
Embarking over the bull-whipped Moog bass momentum and banking riffs of 'Brando', Walker is a disturbing yet utterly compelling presence enticing us to cross thresholds into the arcane, uncanny worlds animated by Sunn 0))), whether projecting across the molasses drone trudge of 'Bull' or alternately wilting and lashing out from the percussive attacks and abyssal tar pits of 'Herod 2014'. By 4th song 'Fetish' their path has narrowed to a 'marish corridor of re-amped synth ghouls and spectral noise before distant drums abort the pregnant drones somewhere in the final third, for closing shot, 'Lullaby' to emulsify their unheimlich resolution at its most dramatic, synth-fired and intimate. It's a genuinely remarkable session, surely one of 2014's best.
Renowned Japanese vocalist Phew meets fellow sonic alchemists Jim O'Rourke and Oren Ambarchi on ‘Patience Soup’, pushing her envelope even further than last year’s admirably uncompromising hook-up with The Raincoats’ Ana Da Silva.
“Patience Soup presents the entirety of a live performance from the trio of Oren Ambarchi, Jim O’Rourke, and Japanese underground legend Phew that took place at the Kitakyushu Performing Arts Center on November 4th, 2015.
Known to many listeners outside Japan primarily for her early collaborations with members of Can, Phew has been undergoing something of a creative renaissance in the last few years, prolifically recording and releasing a body of work that strips away the band arrangements present on most of her past releases to focus solely on her raw DIY electronics and possessed vocal stylings. Forming a perfect companion to 2017’s well-received Voice Hardcore, a series of pieces composed of only her processed voice that saw Phew push her work into the most abstract terrain yet, Patience Soup finds the trio inhabiting an uneasy landscape of moans, howls, and smeared electronic sonorities.
Presented in atmosphere-enhancing room fidelity, the set begins in crunching textural abstraction and Phew’s vocal asides, set against a backdrop of Ambarchi’s shimmering Leslie-cabinet guitar tones and O’Rourke’s synthetic slivers. A testament to the risk-taking prowess of these three master improvisers, the performance moves organically from ecstatic crescendos powered by Phew’s processed wails to moments of near-silence in which a translucent veil of lingering electronic tones is gently punctuated by O’Rourke’s chiming piano chords. Constantly shifting, both harmonically and dynamically, Patience Soup is suffused throughout with a haunted energy and shows these three established figures continuing to venture out into uncharted territory.”
Killer-mode Industrial curveballs from cult French duo Geins’t Naït recorded between 1986-1993, the first instalment in a planned trilogy of archival compilations on Low Jack’s Éditions Gravats. They make a sound somewhere in the orbit of minimal Prince/Linndrum productions played at half speed and crossed with early Muslimgauze E.g Oblique Graph. In other words, deadly gear...
Following on from the legendary duo’s class 2018 salvo on Vladimir Ivkovic’s Offen Music, Low Jack throws another curveball on Editions Gravats’ with a trove of unreleased Geins’t Naït material showcasing the sexy swivel and atmospheres that distinguished Thierry Merigout and Laurent Petitgrand’s band from the rest of the french industrial scene. Turning inspirations from the Surrealists and Situationists into a rawly fascinating mixture of slow, pendulous rhythms, chattering electronics and over-the-shoulder vocals, the results are evidently a prime fit for Gravats' expanding catalogue of psychedelic, percussive oddities.
‘Archives 1/3’ volleys 11 examples of the art brut pair hewing at the coalface of industrial music, locating rich seams of rhythm-driven experimentation that still sound vital, over 30 years later. In the process, it highlights a tangible link between early industrial musick, its tribalist reference points, and the current state of play in dancehalls across the world, where everything from ragga to techno and noise are fair game.
To be specific, DJs and dancers will be in their element with roughshod aces such as the swivelling might of ‘Fix’, the industrial martial arts of ‘Quivala’, and the squashed pressure of ‘La Plus Belle De Tout’ and ‘Abs Trac 1’, but they’re best heard in context of the whole, alongside more possessed workouts such as the Muslimgauze-in-tongues vibe of ‘Rossi Aldo’, the Godlflesh-like seethe of ‘Roman’, and the kind of necrotising, slowed-down EBM darkness in ‘Cameo’ which wouldn’t sound out of place on the ‘Decoder’ soundtrack.
DMX Krew does his charmingly cheesy electro moves for Hypercolour again with ‘Glad To Be Sad’,
Following two years from ‘Strange Directions’ - an unusually long stretch for a producer with near enough 20 albums to his name in as many years - ‘Glad To Be Sad’ feels a little more sculpted and distinctive than usual, with a sly eye fixed on furtive EBM, acid house and industrial styles alongside the usual acid, electro and funky Braindance nods.
Scott Walker’s latest masterpiece is a tempestuous orchestral score to The Childhood of a Leader; a key and compelling component to Brady Corbet’s directorial debut, and Walker’s first O.S.T. since Pola X in 1999. If Bisch Bosch (2012) and his Soused (2014) collaboration with Sunn 0))) were a deadly one-two showing the old dog still has chops, this one is a stone cold haymaker.
It’s all too rare that we’re totally wowed by movie soundtracks nowadays - Mica Levi’s Under The Skin being the most recent, memorable example - but we can safely add The Childhood of a Leader to that small, sacred pile of works which operate perfectly well when separated from their visual analog - the sort of detailed, image-rich sounds and compositions which future producers and artists will be mining for generations to come.
Taking its cues from Jean-Paul Sartre’s short story of the same title, the film’s psychological dramas are matched move for move by Walker’s arrangements, tasking a small army of 46 string players and 16 brass for the studio recording, aided by co-producer Peter Walsh and musical director Mark Warman in drawing out truly ravenous and shocking performances by all involved.
There is nothing sentimental or showy about this record, just a classicist grasp of orchestral music’s most timeless affect, filtered thru the mind of a perennial outlier and distilled to intoxicating proof with some subtle but vital electronic enhancements.
100% amazing. Do not miss!!!
Later period, post-4AD Cocteau Twins pressed on vinyl for the first time since its original release.
"Four-Calendar Café is the seventh album by Scottish band Cocteau Twins. It was originally released on 18 October 1993 on Fontana. The album distinguished itself from the rest of the Twins’ catalogue in two major areas: The sound was much more pop-oriented and less ambient than previous works, and Liz Fraser’s lyrics were much more intelligible than usual."
3rd volume in a fine series of post-punk/industrial/synth-pop compilations, packing 32 tracks from he likes of Front 242, K. Leimer, Les Vampyrettes, Bourbonese Qualk, Portion Control, The Legendary Pink Dots, E.M.A.K., Tuxedomoon. A good look for fans of the LSD or V-O-D sets
“Inspired by Dave Henderson’s legendary ‘Wild Planet’ columns, published in Sounds magazine in 1983, Close To The Noise Floor first collected together sixty of the finest examples of post-punk era electronic musical experimentation in the UK. A companion European volume, Noise Reduction System, and a North American collection, Third Noise Principle, followed. Collected here are selected highlights from all three volumes.”
From Sierra Leone via Berlin, Lamin Fofana brings his gritty twyst to Simone Trabucchi’s Hundebiss (Kelman Duran, Lil Ugly Mane)
Since his early releases for Dutty Artz at the start of this decade, Lamin Fofana most notably ran the NYC-based Sci-Fi & Fantasy label with Paul Lee, which was an early springboard for Lotic and Max McFerren.
On ‘Brancusi Sculpting Beyonce’ Fofana reprises the style we still recall from his Dutty Artz releases, a technoid-sidespin on West African drums nous, stepped up with tight dub chords and sharp FX.
‘Dark Matter’ completes a delectable trio of releases surveying Pablo’s Eye, a multifaceted Belgian collective working between ambient electronica, cinematic synth themes and hypnotic minimal rhythms.
Drawn from some 30 years of Pablo’s Eye material, ‘Dark Matter’ oscillates between the shadowy feels found in their ‘Spring Break’ compilation, and their rhythm-driven inclinations from the stunning ‘Bardo For Pablo’ 12”.
As Stroom so beautifully put it, the sound of Pablo’s Eye “is a temporary atmosphere, like a taste or dream…”, and that ephemeral nature is poignantly key to the 12 tracks on offer’, as they drift from theatrical vignettes such as ‘Worship & Passion’ to intoxicating, noirish percussion and drones redolent of Muslimgauze in ‘Different Observers’, and onto reverberating, spacious drum and drone works such as ‘A Pagan Use’ and the trip-hop of ‘Out of the Corner of Her Eye’, via absorbing arabesques like the serene ambient blush of ‘When You Were Asleep’ and ‘L.A. Desert’.
At risk of repeating ourselves, the selection and presentation skills of Ziggy Devriendt and his team at Stroom are achingly on-point here, making for a record you’ll return to over and again.
Killer, Goa-style slugs of acid chug from Alexis Le Tan and Joakim’s Full Circle alias - a big look for fans of Vladimir Ivkovic DJ sets!
Tagged “A journey to your higher state of consciousness and back”, Full Circle’s 3rd 12” - their 1st since 2015 - comes with proper, sand-stomping squelch and tribal drums at 33 not 45rpm in the A-side’s ‘Age Of Time’, while the B-side’s ‘Pure Pose’ does the same with proggier house ingredients stretched out to a sexy slow swing and arced with bubbling 303.
Dome’s groundbreaking debut album ‘1’ is finally available as a standalone vinyl reissue via Editions Mego. Comprising Wire’s Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis, Dome formed during Wire’s 1980-84 hiatus, creating their own recording space in Eric Radcliffe’s legendary Blackwing Studios (Depeche Mode, Yazoo), where they would pursue and recombine myriad musical interests to become one of post-punk’s most definitive, influential and endlessly inventive bands.
Truly taking to the idea of studio as instrument, Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis used their Dome set-up to generate some of the uncanniest music of their generation. Using the usual guitar and drums, plus synths and lots of tape manipulation, they effectively combined avant-garde experimentation with a pop nous, resulting in strikingly unique songs such as their incredible, signature ‘Cruel When Complete’ featuring the haunting vocals of Angela Conway aka. A.C. Marias, along with oblique noise sculptures such as ‘Ampnoise’ and seminal freaks like ‘Rolling Upon My Day’ which do it all in the space of one track.
‘Dome 1’ was the first of three Dome LPs released on the band’s eponymous label between 1980-81, along with other notables such as the incredible Michael O’Shea album and A.C. Marias’ ‘Drop / So’, which all bore the spooky, spacious hallmarks and air-bending tones of Dome’s studio. It catalogues the first experiments of what, to our mind, was one of the most intriguing and esoteric bodies of work from the early 80’s, combining the artschool sensibilities of Gilbert - who was in his mid '30s by this point - with a post-punk awareness shared by Lewis. They captured the ideal - shared by so many yet achieved by so few - of reaching a kind of avant-pop utopia. 40 years later, it still sounds like nothing else.
A minimalist masterpiece and pinnacle of the 20th century classical canon, this boxset collects all four parts of Steve Reich’s Drumming, plus Six Pianos and Music For Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organs on vinyl for the first time in over 40 years.
Marking an important intersection of western avant-garde thought with percussive practices inspired by Ghanaian drum rituals and Balinese gamelan ceremonies, Reich’s seminal recording has inspired countless composers since it was realised in 1973 and recorded in Hamburg, 1974, casting indelible influence over successive waves of electronic dance music - from disco to techno - thru post rock, indie-pop and all integers between them over the course of a radiant, enduring lifespan.
In fact, anyone would struggle to fully sum up the impact these recordings have had on modern music, from the way in which they effectively offered a transcendent solution to the difficulties of the serialist music which preceded them through use of innovative strategies of phasing repetition and psychoacoustic effects, to their refreshing and mesmerising pairing of percussion and vocals in distinctly unique harmonic structures, which flipped staid ideas of classical convention on their head with a new democracy of frequencies.
Whilst they are most certainly the result of long, studious hours of dedication and rigorous communal practice, ultimately the beauty of all three pieces lies in their ostensible, affectively engaging simplicity; from the hypnotically infectious pulse which underpins Drumming and the way in which it naturally swoons in and out of phase, to the elegantly airborne lift of Six Pianos and the gently rapturous vocal percolations of Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ.
An essential addition to any record collection.
STROOM 〰 serve a compilation of dreamlike works by Brussels-based collective Pablo’s Eye drawn from their catalogue circa the early-mid ‘90s. There’s some lush passages to be found...
“Pablo’s Eye is the science of studio pressure, when engineer becomes artist. Appropriating left and right as well as front and back, Pablo’s Eye uses the mixing desk to examine and exhaust the possibilities of moments. Pablo’s Eye is a record of that examination and exhaustion, but it is also a record of its own inner space. By means of depth placement, psychoacoustics and spatial fug, Pablo’s Eye is experienced in the deeper reaches of the body, bypassing the conscious part of the mind entirely.
Pablo’s Eye is the turning of recorded music inside out to show its seams. It interrogates a song, stripping down the body of the song to reveal its bones. Pablo’s Eye is in the interstices of music, it plugs the gaps, fills the holes. Pablo’s Eye seeks out the concealed mechanisms, it is a song’s hidden agenda.
For this compilation, it was decided to present the softer air-beatings of Pablo’s Eye. More than anything, Pablo’s Eye is a temporary atmosphere, like a taste or a dream…”