This is pushing so many buttons for us right now; recordings of flutes and electronics from Brooklyn’s John Also Bennett aka JAB on his debut solo album ‘Erg Herbe’, echoing a fine tradition of loft-based, downtown NYC minimalism and new age ambience that references classic work by La Monte Young and Laurie Speigel as well as quieter intimations of Dominique Lawalrée or Takehisa Kosugi and Bennett’s regular collaborator Jon Gibson. The results are deeply beautiful, in a manner everyone has by now come to expect from the wonderful Shelter Press.
A decade in the works, ‘Erg Herbe’ follows 2018’s enchantingly elusive CV & JAB album as John Also Bennett’s 2nd release for Felicia Atkinson and Bartolemé Sanson’s widely adored label. It finds the Brooklyn-based artist in gentle pursuit of a sound which best represents his sense of self, using an array of flutes and synthesisers to imbue a distinguished sense of character into his music in much the same way as the original downtown heroes whose footsteps he follows, with the humble yet ambitious goal to, in his own words; “…create nice, strange, and thoughtful music that reflects a genuine inner vision of self.”
In a patient and patently soulful manner befitting of those minimalist and ambient pioneers, Bennett physically breathes life into the album on a C flute, Alto flute, and rare Chinese dizi flute, suspended in space with the gaseous tonal hues of a Yamaha DX711-D, Yamaha CS Reface and Roland Super JV-1080, plus Farfisa Organ. The effect is intoxicatingly rich yet modest, eliding new age spiritual concerns with minimalism’s more scholastic approach - using modified Aphex Twin presets played with a just intonation tuning system, and oscillators “tuned to intuitive structures using intervals of 30Hz” to generate warm and deeply heady harmonic sensations.
Underlying and tying this all together is the album’s title, ‘Erg Herbe’, an invented turn of phrase - erg meaning a sea of desert sand dunes, and herbe being french for grass - mirroring the music’s dreamy imagery of rolling green landscapes and blue/pink/orange skies. From the radiant warmth of the opener, to the pastoral waltz of ‘Jacob’s House’, thru the 12 minutes centrepiece of ‘Distant Patterns’ with its raga-like flute and pillowy pads, to the chance midnight meeting of flutes in ‘Chanterai por mon coraige’, recorded in a decrepit mill near the Shelter Press HQ, we’re left zoned out and deeply tuned in to his gorgeous, transcendent music.
Sweden’s Johanna Knutsson steps away from Berlin techno and into a pastoral sublime with the natural, utopian scenes of her debut solo album
“Tollarp Transmissions is a deeply personal and moving album created by Johanna Knutsson. Closing herself off from the flutter of the outside world in her Berlin studio, Johanna has painted a series of melancholic yet warm pictures of her childhood for Kontra-Musik. Johanna grew up in the small hamlet of Tollarp in the south of Sweden, surrounded by fields, forests and silence – a priced commodity not to be found in Berlin. Each track is named after a physical memory of Tollarp, the intro Vramsån, for instance, is named after a stream close to Johanna’s home and heart. Befittingly, the first timbres of Vramsån remind one of Tuba Mirum from Mozart’s Requiem, solemnly played by an old ice cream truck. A sound every child in Sweden knows. Tollarp Transmissions is not a grand Requiem, however. It’s a heartbreaking Reminiscence.
A crisp winter night blasted with stars. A child’s neck bent upwards in amazement, creaking snow beneath her feet. The stars singing to her in voices no-one else can hear. Change of scene. A summer’s day is slowly dying. The low humming of sated insects. Bursts of muffled laughter from a nearby porch. The shadowy forest marching slowly on the neatly trimmed lawns. The difference between hiding and getting lost is obscured by the silent trees. Change of scene. A mighty storm ravaging the barren forest and the sleeping fields. A branch crashing rhythmically against the windowsill of the blacked out kitchen. The grownups are tense, the child secretly enamoured with the wind. Change of scene. The stars are silenced by the lights of the city. She must sing to them now.”
First time vinyl pressing of Chris Carter’s live record ‘Disobedient’, which appeared as part of the ‘Miscellany’ vinyl boxset earlier this year, and is now available as standalone release.
Recorded live on the Blast First, Disobey tour in 1995, compiled from gigs in Manchester, London and Vienna, the results were digitally remastered at Carter’s Norfolk studio and released in 1998.
In Carter’s distinctive style the vibe is brooding but not gothic, tending to an eldritch conception of English darkness that resonates with his influences such as the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and his years in the late ‘60s working for various UK TV stations as a sound engineer.
First time vinyl pressing of Chris Carter’s 1999 ambient-techno mission ‘Small Moon’, which appeared as part of the ‘Miscellany’ vinyl boxset earlier this year, and is now available as standalone release.
Now 20 years old, the sleek ambient techno fittings and fluid contours of ‘Small Moon’ spoke to an techgnostic eldritch conception of English “darkness” as much as the palpable feeling of PMT in the air back then - everyone shit-scared their cooker’s clock wouldn’t work (and maybe their computer might explode) when the dates flipped from 1999 into 2000.
Mercifully we all lived to tell the tale of the millennium (it was massively underwhelming), and so did ‘Small Moon’, a collection of meandering cuts featuring Carter swimming thru the wires between hypnotic, purring basses, glistening webs of filigree electronics, meditative voices and pharmaceutically effective atmospheres.
Berlin’s dark techno stalwart, Kareem commits a gloomily satisfying 2nd album of gothic drone and depth charge percussion with ‘Garden Of Time’, leading on from 2013’s ‘Porto Ronco’ LP for The Death of Rave
First performed at Sam Kerridge’s Contort #15 in Berlin, 2015, and recently rearranged and extended for this release, ‘The Garden of Time’ presents a stealthy evolution of Kareem’s first longform attempt at this style, back with 2015’s ‘Porto Ronco’. Where that release absorbed listeners in its stark linearity, this new album is more layered and given to shifting, weathered moods, avoiding formalism through a broader palette of references to sub genres ranging from dark ambient to computer music and rhythmic noise.
These are essentially the sounds Kareem dreams about in between making some of the finest dark techno known to humankind. ‘Inhale’ unmistakably reflects a nocturnal Berlin environment, but soberly so, as though perched beyond the gurning milieu in the city’s freezing dry cold, absorbing its sferic spirits and multi kulti makeup in shocks of processed outernational instrumentation and dissonant noise alarms. ‘The garden of Time’ follows more aggressively with eruption of broken toothed rhythm kicking off a stygian trudge into sombre, dank ambient and flashes of olde Berlin cabaret.
First ever digital issue of Chris Carter's solo follow-up to the legendary 'Spaces Between'
Originally issued on LP in 1985, 'Mondo Beat' stars one of the Throbbing Gristle lynchpin's most recognisable solo tracks, the proto-New Beat and Industrial classic, 'Moonlight', plus five further tracks of highly advanced productions, taking in the flash stabs and body-contorting beats of 'Real Life', the extra-tropical electro elan of 'Noevil', experimental cut-ups on 'Nobadhairdo', and the noisy, psychosexual EBM tripper 'Beyond Temptation'. We need say no more; this is a total must-have for all wave psychonauts and techno dancers!
Remastered 2019 cut of a proper 1995 jungle rinse-out, courtesy of Dublin’s Foxy Jangle - a sublabel of Rua Sound
Originally intended for full pressing on 24 Karat, the atom-smashing Amen choppage of ‘Pow / Thunder’ never saw it past the promo stage, with the 2nd hand white labels now going for price of some shiny TNs, but packing twice the amount of steppers’ boing.
A-side starts out calm and cool enough with ragga chat and rolling steppers breaks, but all heck burkes loose when the Amens kick in - run for cover or skank for your life. B-side plays it gangster cool as well with boogie soul vibign intro, then crisply rugged with the breaks and dread bass.
Richard D James' classic album from 1992, re-pressed countless times but still sounding as vital as it did way back when. Still probably the most uplifting and nostalgic thing in the AFX catalogue...
Best electronic music album of the late 20th century. A proper gateway drug to the myriad microcosms of Richard D. James a.k.a. Aphex Twin. 100% essential in any collection.
Grubby, slimy dread slugs produced on a no input mixer by Zurich’s Simon Grab, hitting a squelch rut of sub 100bpm torpor for the -OUS label
“Simon Grab’s «Extinction» is the opening act of his long-term project «Pulse», in which he creates soundscapes and noises of an imagined posthuman environment.
His dark organic sonic creatures build up on a dense conglomeration of pulsating frequencies, produced with a reduced «no-input-mixing» setup. The self-oscillating system unveals a vast richness of notorious feedbacks, bursts of noise and tender tones. The signals speak in their own voices as they incarnate the network of machines they originate from.
As the status quo is defined as temporary and transient, Simon Grab captures the sound of his circuits in live recording sessions.”
Mouse On Mars’ Jan St. Werner in typically playful but studious form, presenting an LP version of his radio installation commissioned by the dokumenta 14 event in Athens
“Jan St. Werner is a critically acclaimed and internationally recognized sound innovator. In a myriad of ways – as a solo artist, a collaborator, through his group Mouse On Mars, as a producer, as a lecturer at MIT, or as a professor of Dynamic Acoustic Research at the Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremburg - Werner has challenged traditional approaches to creating and experiencing music. The sixth installment of his Fiepblatter Catalogue series, Glottal Wolpertinger, endeavors to transcribe the phenomenon of sound as anarchic and highly sensitive material. His multilayered presentation of the project highlights the ways in which sound and music can fluctuate and re-constitute depending on context all within one consistent work. In keeping with the series’ collaborative nature, the pieces include contributions from guitarists Aaron & Bryce Dessner of The National, who Werner also collaborated with on Mouse On Mars’ Dimensional People, and The National’s Sleep Well Beast and I Am Easy To Find.
Glottal Wolpertinger was initially conceived as a radio installation for documenta 14, the world's most renowned event for contemporary arts, with each of the tracks broadcasting individually over the course of ten weeks and culminating in a convergence of all eight tracks at a performance in Athens. The pieces consist of microtonally tuned feedback, multispectral drones which Werner modulated and filtered with a purposeful, and indeed vocalized, emphasis given to the different frequencies and textures used. By naming the individual frequency bands, Werner defies traditional tuning systems and instead centers the piece on collaging variable elements. Sonic elements churn and sprawl across the tracks in constant motion. Their drones, combatting for space, entangle one another and oscillate into overtones that shift, build, and wither with fluid motion that blurs the line between consonance and dissonance.
Glottal Wolpertinger’s incarnation as a recording is no less potent than its preceding forms, but serves as a continuation of the project’s evolution as a distinct listening experience. Werner’s apt title for the project embellishes the ambiguity and cognitive dissonance inherent with the work, as the wolpertinger is a creature of European myth which is said to be the mutated result of different species breeding under special circumstances in the Alps. Glottal intonations are those produced by the guttural and throat region of the body, the center of organic sound. According to Werner, the wolpertingers are “bastards, collaged freaks who exist in the grey zone of nature’s perfect plan,” the same grey zone in which his pieces live.”
The one you were waiting for: some of Chris Carter’s earliest home studio productions appear on ‘Archival Recordings 1973-1977’, which was previously part of the ‘Miscellany’ boxset, and now available as standalone vinyl release.
For fans of Carter, his CTI and Chris & Cosey duo with Cosey Fanni Tutti, or indeed his crucial role in Throbbing Gristle, these ‘Archival Recordings 1973-1977’ scan the relatively serene roots of what would become Industrial Music, and a seismic shift in underground experimental musicks.
Predating both his work in COUM Transmissions and Throbbing Gristle, and his zinging debt LP ‘The Spaces Between’, the ‘Archival Recordings’ disc is perhaps of greatest interest, historically and artistically to long term fans of Carter’s musick. Spanning 1973-77, it covers the years just before, and after, Throbbing Gristle’s conception, when Carter was clearly in thrall to kosmische and psychedelia, but not beholden to them. Across 13 parts, Carter’s take on space music and pulsing early electronics is definitely less whimsical, much darker than other music of that period, progressing chronologically over the LP to reveal a full embrace of electronic music’s dark allure by the time we get to the hellish miasma of ‘See Sick’ .
Captivating, new, improvised takes on old Greek Rebetika, returning the style to it looser open ended form, rather than redoing the standards. Really, intoxicating, heady stuff when it hits...
“The duo of Tasos Stamou and Thodoris Ziarkas bring back the improvisational element to the old Greek rebetiko style and expand it towards other avant-garde musical genres.
AMAN!!! #2 Picking it up from their previous cassette album at Sucata Tapes, “AMAN!!!” duo delivers another series of live tracks, this time recorded in Athens and London. The duo of Tasos Stamou and Thodoris Ziarkas bring back the improvisational element to the old Greek rebetiko style and expand it towards other avant-garde musical genres.”
Loren Connors and Daniel Carter colour the night darkest blue in a breathtaking new addition to Connors’ ongoing, 17 year long ‘Departing…’ series of meditations on the Miles Davis’ epic ’He Loved Him Madly’
Both active since the ‘70s, this is the first time that free-ranging reeds/brass player Carter has recorded with the maestro Connors. But you’d hardly tell from the preternatural elegance and intimacy of their performance on ‘The Departing of a Dream Vol. VII’, where they jointly push off into scene of vanishing music, with choral-like sheets of barely discernible electric guitar melting into decaying trumpet drones and smoky air.
Recorded in the reverberant environs of Murmrr Theatre, Brooklyn, in September 2017, and exquisitely mixed by Jim O’Rourke at Steamroll in Tokyo, the album reaches seamlessly across both sides in a billowing style that resonates with, for example, the spectral styles of Alex Zhang Hungtai’s ‘Divine Weight’. However, Carter and Connors’ efforts unfold with a guile and patient wisdom that speaks to more than a century of respective, lived experience, between them.
Theirs is a timeless, abstract dialogue of incredible emotive subtlety and shading, operating at a languorous pace and with a crucial, subliminal grasp of amplitude control that it’s hard not to quickly fall under their spell, shut your eyes and be carried off behind your eyelids. No doubt this album is going straight onto the late night specials shelf. It’s just immaculate.
Shanghai’s Svbkvlt cru drop a monstrously large label showcase with the Aphex Twin and Kode 9-backed ’Cache 01’ set
Destined to be one of 2019’s definitive multi-artist sets, ‘Cache 01’ speaks to the abundance of prism-pushing electronic mutants presently at work in the Far East. Where too many Western artists right now are caught in the retro-vintage, shabby chic trap, every one of the artists featured here embrace the here and now, and what’s to come, with a fervently infectious alacrity and directness that’s hard to ignore.
We’re all spoilt for choice with the highlights, but a few really stand out. The wildly ricocheting 808 proprioceptions of Gooooose’s ‘Arp Kicks’ is right up there with he best we’ve heard this year; Swimful impresses with the hard-ass, keening grime designs and descending sirens of ‘Nailz’; Indonesia’s Gabber Modus Operandi send us reeling with the mix of wailing traditional horns, gamelan and gabber kicks in ‘Sangkakala II’; Hyph11e precogs the deathly march of the robots set to reconfigured D&B and noise in ’Sinking’; MIIN strikes a class fusion of dembow-dancehall and IDM in ‘Metagame’; and Zaliva-D exert a powerful sidespin with the rugged battery of ’Synthetic Sin’ inna Low Jack style.
Flexing arm emoji. Fire emoji. 100% emoji.
Caterina Barbieri somehow recalls both Laurie Spiegel and Lorenzo Senni on her staggering debut album for Editions Mego, with ‘Ecstatic Computation’ yielding her most striking and accessible experiments in pointedly explorative synthesis
Working at the point where deep, learned R&D meets sophisticated expression of soul, ‘Ecstatic Computation’ is one of those rare LP's that comes close to divining the ghost in the machine. In further pursuit of the themes underlining Caterina’s ‘Patterns of Consciousness’  and ‘Born Again In The Voltage’  records, here she uses more complex sequencing techniques and pattern-based operations to generate the kind of vivid, hallucinatory trance states that many electronic music followers arguably spend their lives seeking.
With ‘Ecstatic Computation’ Caterina’s basically mastered the art of extracting a contemplative wonder from her machines, creatively using formal process to manipulate the listener’s temporal and proprioceptive senses, subtly distorting our perception of time and space with spellbinding and psychedelic effect. Most crucially, just like her fellow Italian composer, Lorenzo Senni, Barbieri achieves this effect through minimalist means, with a certain magick lying in the way she allows her machines’ full voice to speak as fluidly as the languages of classical music, but with the immediacy of Trance.
From the vertiginous scale and epic breadth of ‘Fantas’, thru the intensely expressive miniature ‘Spine of Desire’, to the balletic agility of ‘Closest Approach to Your Orbit’, Barbieri veritably dances on our nerve endings, before swiftly inverting that headlong futurism with the chamber-like design of ‘Arrows of Time’, featuring vocals by Annie Gårlid (UCC Harlo) and Evelyn Sailor, and wrapping up with the visceral ecstasy of ‘Pinnacles of You’ and a spine-freezing finale ‘Bow of Perception’.
It’s glorious, life-affirming stuff, sure to send her audience stratospheric.
Heavy fresh cumbia from Mexico’s Grupo Jejeje, kicking off California’s Discos Rolas label with 12 tracks of sweltering, heady, slow dance pressure
Leading on from the ‘¡Un Saludo!—Mexican Soundsystem Cumbia In Los Angeles’ put together by Discos Rolas’ Gary “Ganas” Garay and Alexandra “Xandão” Lipmann, the first album from Grupo Jejeje - the duo of Mexican-American Turbo Sonidero and Persian-Brit Arrabalero - draws from hyperlocal, up-to-the-minute styles from central Mexico, namely Puebla and San Luis Potosí, and cumber editada, for a fiercely colourful, playful and infectious album bound to bring on your hip replacement by a few decades.
London’s India Jordan absolutely bosses it on her solo debut proper with Local Action, throwing down four cuts of filter funk, lush trance and booty-rattling ghetto-tech, plus a canny remix by ELLLL
As organiser of London’s premiere new age social, New Atlantis, you’d be forgive for thinking India was a sanguine soul, whereas in fact she’s a long time spar of the uptempo donny Finn, and highly regarded for her no-holds-barred DJ style.
On ‘DNT STP MY LV’ she does dance music in no uncertain terms, gutting you in the swing with the titular Todd Edwards-meets-Thriller style boogie fling, before sending it into orbit with a 160bpm rocket ‘DN4’ fuelled on the meanest Reese bass, while ‘Through Lacuna’ sustains that trajectory into lusher realms and then, for measure, she cools your heart rate and ups the lip-smacking factor with the full wingspan trance-breaks flight of ‘Leaving Stanley’. Bonus round comes from Ireland’s ELLLL, graduate of Sligo’s Art For Blind and Dublin’s All City, with a woozier, abstract, but still banging remix of ‘Through Lacuna.’
So yeh, India is just as adept at lulling you to sleep as rudely rousing the ‘floor.
‘The Singer’  is Diamanda Galás suite of blues and gospel covers, and the follow-up to ‘Plague Mass’
Looping back to Diamanda’s formative influences - her father was a gospel choir director who introduced the young pianist and singer to classical music, New Orleans jazz and Greek classics - ‘The Singer’ revolves her singular takes on songs made famous by Billie Holiday, Screaming’ Jay Hawkins, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Willie Dixon. Her take on ‘I Put A Spell On You’ is gold.
Sleeparchive comes across very Millsy on his banging return to Tresor
Top deck is loaded with the rasping, sizzling 909 programming and dark strings of ‘Frost’ built in a very classic Mills mould, alongside 6 deadly useful locked grooves which could be a lot of fun with two copies to hand.
Below deck, he puts his back into it for the bucking might of ‘Wood’ in a sort old skool Mills-via-Regis style, then with the teeth-chattering drums and nerve-riding pizzicato strings of ‘Trust (v.2)’.
No brainers if you’ve got a good ‘floor to play with.
Straight-up knockers from Chicago hit squad Traxmen aka Gant-man, Paul Johnson, Robert Armani and Eric Martin
Robert Armani puts in a serious shift with the distorted wallop of ‘Caution’, next to the all-time Chi anthem ‘Let Me See You Butterfly’ with classic vocal and skipping’ flow conducted by Paul Johnson.
Paul Johnson puts his potty mouf to dutty use again on the naughty nursery rhyme melody of ‘F___ N Sucking’, before slinging the piano house power-up ‘Outta My way’.
‘Malediction And Prayer’ is Diamanda Galás’ 1998 album, recorded on tour 1996-97
Opener ‘Iron Lady’ is about Aileen Wuornos, not the milk snatcher, and the whole album renders a rawer, more intimate portrait of the singular singer than you’ll find in her polished studio recordings.
Ex-Veronica Falls singer/songwriter Roxanne Clifford becomes Patience to express her synth pop tastes to the fullest on ‘Dizzy Spells’; an achingly well-crafted batch indebted as much to Todd Edwards - who co-produced the opening cut! - as New Order, AC Marias, Vince Clarke or Strawberry Switchblade
“Dizzy Spells delivers a debut album that twists Clifford’s songwriting into new shapes and ecstasies. The album dances around melancholy, thrown to the floor like a bad dream to be circled, emerging bright-eyed into the early morning full of hope. The Girls Are Chewing Gum (produced by Todd Edwards) bursts open Dizzy Spells like fresh fruit: sweet and rich with a synth-bass line beamed down from Chicago House heaven. Exquisitely sung by Clifford, it’s a wonderful, funky, instant-classic hinting at sexuality and memories dredged from our bodies’ secrets. The bouncy production expertly renders the addictive power of our ephemeral pleasures. Living Things Don’t Last chases themes of longing and loss, opening up into a life affirming chorus that sings of transience, the passing of time and railing against inertia. It’s the perfect example of a song formula that Roxanne Clifford has almost patented: simple and cutting straight to the point. There are shades of Strawberry Switchblade or French synth pop pioneer Jacno in the happy/sad dichotomy and it is all the better for it.
Dizzy Spells features all three long-sold out singles, embedded in the full depth of Patience’s soundworld they fit like pieces of a puzzle. White Of An Eye, The Church and The Pressure—all recorded in Clifford’s former home of Glasgow—crackle with razor sharp melodies and dancefloor-ready dynamics. There are exciting additions to Patience’s sonic palette, brought into sharp relief on Voices In The Sand. In this song, a plaintive Clifford enunciates a heart-torn plea to the antagonist, a mournful cascade of synths and haunting vocals evocative of AC Marias, a sepia-toned ode to anxiety, “a storm is on the way”. On No Roses, a Vince Clarkesque production belies a sunburnt sadness. Clifford defiantly sings “you would go out tonight, but there’s nowhere you like,” describing a disenchantment with her adopted city of Los Angeles, she longs for home in a singular refrain “No roses… no roses for us.” An ode to English folk singer Shirley Collins, a surprising yet innate influence throughout Clifford’s work. On Moral Damage, former Veronica Falls bandmate Marion Herbain joins Clifford on an anglo-french duet that feels instant and spontaneous, a cutting comment on emotional accountability. More than a vehicle for Roxanne Clifford’s songwriting prowess, Patience is holding our hand through the night, dancing with tears in our eyes, dizzy and spellbound.”
Immaculate cold wave dance pop from Xavier Paradis’ Automelodi, one of Montreal’s finest and most influential, returning nearly a decade since their eponymous modern classic with a sterling effort for HoloDeck (Marie Davidson, S U R V I V E)
Melding high gloss sound design with eloquent French vocals and an unmistakeable sense of romance, ‘Mirages au futur verre-brisé’ beautifully grasps the ghostly rose of ‘80s synth-pop and electronic dance music at its sleekest and most poignant, with results admirably comparable to classics from New Order, YMO, Hard Corps, Movement. Factor in a fine seam of experimental-leaning sonics and you have a truly flawless diamond that glitters from every angle.
“Paradis was born and raised in Québec, gravitating towards the sounds of post-punk and industrial music in early adolescence. Inspired by the expanding tonal language of electronic instruments, Paradis fully immersed himself in the vocabulary of drum machines, samplers and synthesizers as his primary tools of composition. By the age of fifteen, Paradis was writing pop songs and dark ballads while developing his vocal style and learning to produce his own tracks. In the mid-’90s, Paradis truly formed his musical identity under the solo moniker Arnaud Lazlaud, recording and playing live for many years in the dense music scenes of Montréal. Paradis’ gifted capacity for melodic expression through complex tones began to blossom and caught the attention of the electronic scenes in the US and Europe. Before long, he was releasing albums on labels like Kernkrach (Germany) and Wierd (New York) and by 2006 he assumed the new alias, Automelodi. Since then his discography has expanded to include full-lengths, EPs and collaborations with artists like Liz Wendelbo of Xeno and Oaklander as the duo Liz and László. Paradis further elevated his poignant compositions with the addition of Dillion Steele on guitar in 2015, resulting in a refined and unique lexicon that continues to evolve.
On Mirages, Paradis has sharpened his creative process and composed an innovative collection of songs with broad appeal and a fundamentally experimental core. Bursts of vibrant textured percussion and effects-driven guitar on “Feux rouges, Châteaux brillants” illustrate the extensive level of detail put into each and every element on the record. The emotional and conceptual palate of each track is carefully articulated with precise instrumental timbre, translating ineffable ideas and giving Mirages distinct character and sound. The luscious string pads and ghostly sound effects of “Angoisses d’Orléac” interplay with layers of sequenced synthesizers, addictive vocal melodies and an explosive energy of bass and rhythm. Friend and collaborator Liz Wendelbo is featured on the ominously seductive duet “Les Métros disparus” elegantly highlighting why these two talented veterans have maintained an international following for over a decade. Paradis’ longevity as Automelodi has enriched the caliber of his work and heightened Mirages to a level of sophistication scarcely achieved in pop music.
Automelodi once again makes a lasting impression on the world of avant-garde synth-pop with Mirages au futur verre-brisé, transcending limitations of genre while creating catchy and compelling art from start to finish.”
Laurel Halo and Julia Holter supply contrasting perspectives on Tashi Wada’s collaboration with his father, Fluxus legend Yoshi Wada
The LP where the original came from was one of 2018’s most beguiling sides, and provides strong source material for the remixes, along with a fine example of the original material in the resonant chiefs of ‘Bottom of the Sky’.
Fresh from her DJ-Kicks mix, Laurel Halo pursues a technoid sound with ‘Niagara (Lilith Mix)’, gradually working up the original’s curdled drones via rugged, pendulous drums recalling Batu or Laksa grooves.
Julia Holter heads the other direction entirely, expanding and transforming the long, elliptical drones of ‘Fanfare’ into a more complex rearrangement and crystalline electronics and “unearthly bird” squawks that lead up to her stately, ethereal ice queen appearance in the final section.
One of Manchester and UK’s most original new artists, Loft aggregates 3 years of instability in a remarkable debut EP for Tri Angle
Where Loft of yore was yoked to linearity, or the “mono” of her new record’s title, Loft’s current iteration feels as though she's bifurcating and spiralling around, into herself like a blooming double helix, or, in her own words forming a “sound ecology in which the arrow of time splits along the shaft.”
They prove a perfectly imperfect work-in-progress fit for Tri Angle’s ever evolving aesthetic, emerging form the noisy chrysalis of ‘Lassanamae’ with hyper wingbeats and flexing exoskeleton, before ‘And Eats Itself And Eats Itself And Eats Itself’ finds its legs like a mutant newborn chimera, only to find those legs have legs and chattering acid teeth.
’sSLABicks’ follows with ravenous effect, torn in every direction at once to suggest a true, balletic sort of dancefloor freedom, and ’That Hyde Trakk’ only accentuates that effect with devilish junglist chicanery recalling classic Plug and encouraging full body expression in the rave.
Frenetic, fractured yet sweetly coherent electronic improv from Hausu Mountain label boss Max Allison, debuting as Muqks with cult incubator Orange Milk. One for fans of Nozomu Matsumoto’s playful arrangements and the kerned rhythms of Foodman
“Max Allison co-runs the label Hausu Mountain and performs as part of the improvisational Chicago noise group Good Willsmith with Natalie Chami (TALsounds) and Doug Kaplan (MrDougDoug). SD Biomix is his new solo recording under the name Mukqs, and while still rooted in improvisation, it feels increasingly like microscopic moment-to-moment sound collage music, where dedicated listening is rewarded. Some surprising compositions rise out of Max’s process, like the beautiful harmonic opening to “Distributing Mementos” that abruptly cuts into MIDI slap bass, horn, and drum machine, or the intricate mixture of melody and free rhythm on “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”.
The seven minute “All Seven Gods of Fortune” contains many of the albums concepts in one piece, starting with rhythmic patterns and chopped MIDI melodies that seem connected but fractured, as if a pop song has been blasted apart and then melded back together with each piece in a random order. I might have a biased view, but the album sits beside the new school of Japanese electronic artists like toiret status, Koeosaeme, DJWWWW, and Foodman (who Max referenced as an influence). They share a joy in discovery and show how this electronic language can achieve depth through playfulness and experimentation.”
Out of print for 25 years, Stereolab’s retro-pop and indie-rock classic ‘Mars Audiac Quintet’ is back in circulation with a bonus disc of demos and alternate versions, most notably a demo version of Ping Pong!
Sam Kerridge meets Taylor Burch (DVA Damas) for a surreal, slowly encroaching album of hyper, scudding, industrial music with vocal narration in spacious, theatrical space. The effect is something like listening to Autechre’s Anti EP intersected with shards of broken junglist edits and overlayed with a dystopian, bladerunner-esque vocal inspired by Jean Cocteau. This one benefits strongly from volume - play loud.
Opening his sound up to kindred spirits, and allowing more space and time for his sounds to take hold, ‘The Other’ locates a newfound sense of nuance and context in Kerridge’s music. His arrangements here feel more layered and ductile, finely consolidating the gloomy slow pressure of his earliest work for Horizontal Ground with the uptick in pace and rabid energy found on 2017/2018’s ‘The Silence Between Us’ and ‘The I Is Nothing’. The adaptation is necessary as the music now accounts for half of an AV live project with Daisy Dickinson and also needs to accommodate Taylor Burch’s startling vocal delivery. In the process Kerridge is pushed to rethink and reframe his sound after seven years squashing and pummelling listeners into submission.
As Taylor Burch takes centre stage in the narrator’s role, Kerridge becomes a kinetic presence, navigating her thru the tightest ginnels between cinematic sound design, industrial techno, broken D&B and dark ambient, or setting her in stark sonic lighting and backdrops like a dramaturgist watching from the wings. Kerridge’s impulses are reassuringly aggressive, but he’s clearly taken the opportunity to step back, review his sound, and recalibrate the mechanics, returning industrial music back to a multi-sensory conception of theatre and ‘The Other’, rather than straight-up sensory immolation - which is still key to his music, but now tempered and balanced with more complex ideas in mind.
From the hybrid of icy vox with billowing tech-step bass and scudding percussion in the opening piece, thru the finely executed nods to classic mid ‘90s Autechre in ‘Transmission 5’, to the hyper, side-winding brilliance and synapse-firing intensity of the final ‘Transmission 7’, longer term followers of Kerridge’s work will be rewarded in spades with this thistly bouquet, while newcomers will want to dive into his swelling catalogue.
Out of print for 26 years, Stereolab’s retro-pop and indie-rock classic ‘Transient Random Noise-Bursts with Announcements’ is back in circulatio, remastered from original tapes and with a bonus disk of unreleased demos, outtakes and alternate mixes.
Killer 3rd ‘FYE’ volley from Martyn’s 3024, racking up his crispy brukbeat ‘Recon’ beside rudeness from NKC, Jacques Greene, and Djoser
Martyn’s opening shot ‘Recon’ lives up to the solid gold standards of his early gems like ‘Natural Selection’, while fellow Dutch producer NKC brings his patented palette of tribal percussions to the plate in the swingeing, bare bones shake of ‘Honest Drums’.
Jacques Greene comms back to the label 7 years after the ‘Ready’ 12” with his twinkle-toed acid garage shimmy ‘Say Nothing’, and Washington DC-via-Giza, Egypt producer, Djoser contributes the chiming rhythmelodies and rugged subbass pneumatics of ‘Wera’.
Kess Kill host the return of ‘80s/‘90s EBM survivor Conny Förnback aka Majestoluxe with the burly, grizzled Industrial/EBM gnarl of ‘Septic Shock’, their first solo release in 30 years. RIYL Celldöd, Nick Klein, TG
“Active in the late 1980's Swedish EBM-scene in bands like Sound Manufacturers, clubs like Piz Off and labels like Osmium, Stockholm based producer Conny Fornbäck reappears after a 30+ year hiatus. This time in the incarnation of Majestoluxe.
On the debut album Septic Shock, Majestoluxe presents nine EBM-tinged experimental industrial pop songs inspired by an actual near death experience. Fully produced on an analogue Eurorack modular system,
Septic Shock should appeal to fans of the sounds of the late 70's UK, the early german 80's, the mid Belgian 80's, or last night in Sweden.”
BFTT leads on from his Whities split with the crafty stick n’ move steps of ‘Mauldeth’ for All Centre
So titled after South Manchester’s morbidly named lateral intersection, ‘Mauldeth’ packs two ace, fractured dancefloor workouts with the rudely resolving, spasming percussion and gibber-jaw sample stabs of the title tune, and the slower, low key ambient house swivel of ‘Wrench’.
Marguerita’s electro specialists hard at work here for Clone West Coast
Back in the ’00s, Marguerita was a go-to label for fast, tuff, and raw electro and acid hailing from Holland. Clone know that, and have now collected some of the label’s most sought-after tunes in three volumes.
On this 1st set there’s the rolling, squirmy acid electro funk of ‘Cruise Control’ and the hazy Detroit ride of ‘Micropacer 2’ from the 2nd 12” by E8, along with the trunk-rattling bass and sibilant hi-hat hiss of Double Dutch’s ‘Plan Of Action’, and the soggy sock of ‘Q’s but no A’s’ from Dr. Switch and Portamento’s Proskool project.
‘Defixiones - Will and Testament’ is Diamanda Galás 2004 live album, an 80 minute memorial to the Armenian, Greek, Assyrian and Hellenic victims of the Turkish genocide.
‘Defixiones’ refers to the warnings on Greek gravestones against removing the remains of the dead. Will and Testament refers to the last wishes of the dead who have been taken to their graves under unnatural circumstances.
1991’s ’Plague Mass’ is Diamanda Galas’ pointed comment on the Catholic church and society in general’s indifference to the AIDS pandemic during the late ‘80s and into the ‘90s
By this point Diamanda was firmly established in the avant-garde firmament, but with considerable commercial success that allowed her to transcend and broach a wider consciousness. From this position of relative privilege and prominence, as with her previous trilogy ‘The Masque of Red Death’ she highlighted the horrors that afflicted both her family (her brother Philip-Dimitri Galás die from AIDS-related causes in 1986) and a large part of the creative communities she came up thru, and in the best manner she knew how, using her incredible, octave-vaulting, operatic range of shrieks and howls to convey her feelings in no uncertain terms. Frightening stuff.
Melt-on-the-mind, spiritual jazz-funk, reissued for the first time by Switzerland’s High Jazz. RIYL John Coltrane, Pharaoh sanders, McCoy Tyner and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Roy Ayers
“Ambiance’s first album released in 1979 on Da Mon Records, Los Angeles. Amazing private spiritual jazz-funk/fusion LP, now hard to find. This album is magnificent in its entirety, no fillers. Some of the best fusion on record!
Led by saxophonist Daoud Abubakar Balewa who studied formal classical music and received instruction from Frank Mitchell (Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers) and Jackie McLean (Blue Note records), Ambiance incorporates Brazilian and Latin flavours with a righteous and soulful Afrocentric jazz edge.”
Mannequin boss and Berghain resident Alessandro Adriani hits the mark dead-on with four tracks of grotty jakbeat, deathly drone, and darkroom pressure including Beau Wanzer co-production.
For our money Adriani’s most impressive and well-rounded outing to date, ‘Embryo’ locates an artist confidently coming into their own in each part, from the sky-searching drone payload of ‘Elapsed Emptiness’ to the bilgy industrial pump and rictus rattle and roll of ’Symmetry’ on the A-side, thru to the darkroom frolics of ‘Inverted Aspects’ with Beau Wanzer, and the slow pulsating,, dry-humping thump of ‘Aria (New Beat version)’.
‘Lowlife/Hi-Tech/Occult’ is an intrepid power ambient experiment unfolding in three parts, transitioning between blunted synth fanfare, cold but lush pads, weightless synth torque and raw, pulsing, techno primitivism.
A must check for fans of Peder Mannerfelt, The Sprawl, Varg
‘Saint of the Pit’  is the 2nd part of Diamanda Galás’ trilogy about the AIDS pandemic; ‘The Masque of Red Death’
The album’s five pieces feature Einstürzende Neubauten’s FM Einheit and take their inspiration from poems by the French Decadents - Charles Baudelaire, Gérard de Nerval, and Tristan Corbière.
The mood is set eerie as hell with a tense instrumental before Diamanda’s commanding performances take hold with powerful effect in a visceral document of suffering.
Nathan Micay pursues the ‘Akira’ manga obsession of his Bwana EP ‘The Capsule’s Pride’ into speculative fictional zones with ‘Blue Spring’, reimagining the pivotal Castlemorton Common rave of 1992 as clash between “a young data miner rebel… and the ranks of a futuristic police state” at a woodland party in the future. To be fair, there won’t be any woods to hold a rave in the future anyway, so maybe he’s referring to the plastic foliage of festivals like Dekmantel? Anyway, Micay manifests his ideas in glorious HD across ‘Blue Spring’, reframing classic early ‘90s rave tropes in a super shiny, super earnest manner that sounds like was it was made on Protools in 1999.
"The impeccable craft found in the huge past anthems that fuelled his rise is still present, but Micay has upped his own ante; a prodigious and natural creator, this is his best work yet. Highly melodic with complex but spacious sound design, this inspired work is a technicolour ride across sub bass, celestial future breakbeat, drum-roll-fuelled dancefloor rollercoasters, soaring euphoria, otherworldly soundscapes, weightless sino and even a bit of ¾ time. Micay has found a sweet-spot between prog, trance, techno, hardcore, jungle, IDM and ambient, in a renewed twist on the magic mix that birthed Future Sound of London’s hybrid classic ‘Accelerator’.
To create the album artwork, Nathan wrote a script outline, which was adapted by Peter Marsden into a comic, in turn illustrated by Dominic Flannigan, in tribute to the highly-influential Manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo. The comic sees a young data miner rebel by attending a rave in the woods with her friends, only for the event to be broken up by the ranks of a futuristic police state. ‘Blue Spring’ is the start of the revolution.
With unnamed album tracks having already appeared on multiple RA mixes, Essential Mixes, Boiler Room sets, festival stages and dancefloors, music from this album has stealthily been whipping electronic music fans into a frenzy for some time, most notably in countless Shazams and posts on the Identification Of Music Facebook group. He has released on Whities and ESP institute, plus Aus, Cin Cin, and LuckyMe under his former alias, Bwana."
New wave/neu beta psychopomp, Alessandro Adriani ov Mannequin Records, makes an arresting solo LP debut with Montagne Transparenti’s ghoulish suite of atypical Italian horror atmosfear and stylised body music, highly recommended if you're into Demdike Stare, Not Waving or Italian Library Records...
Over the best part of a decade now, Adriani has issued a handful of tapes, CDs and vinyl as Newclear Waves, and more recently been noted for his smart refixes of Nico Fidenco’s Zombi Holocaust OST and Lata Ramasar’s hugely infectious TGNTL, all of course running in parallel to his duties behind the brilliant Mannequin node.
All that experience bleeds out of Montagne Transparenti, from his bony drum machine patterns to the dripping, carmine synth tones and the album’s stealthy but sturdy narrative backbone; operating like the soundtrack to a special trans-continental mission from his current home in Berlin, to his ancestral base in Rome.
Night-lit autobahns and cannibal-infested schloss-scenes ensue from the widescreen intro of Fase Lunare I and ritual vibes of Verso lo Zenith; unfurling the sleek cosmic cruiser L’acquina di Nettuno and shades-on Munich pulse of Pianeta Rosso, before traversing the Alps to the airborne Badalamenti waltz of Attraverso le asperita and rolling into the zombie-gangster disco with Montagne Transparenti. The blood-lust really comes thru in Fuoco, and slicks out from the electro-sex squirm of Rotaziuone Sincrona, shoring us at Ostia with the red-smeared gaze of Fase Lunare II.
A proper wiggy pop/punk fiesta compiled by Andy Votel & Doug Shipton, with liner notes by Andrew Weatherall, including a skronky DAF-like zinger by a pre 808 State Graham Massey in Beach Surgeons, and the wonky arps of ‘Jeep’ from Jerry & The Holograms
“Greetings sisters and brothers. Let’s talk about reductionist revolution and the kicking in of doors. Let’s talk of iconoclasts and culture bombs. Let’s talk about moral panic and censorship. Let’s talk about punk rock.
On second thoughts let’s not bother. The white noise is already deafening and actually, thinking about it, the Sex Pistols were really a heavy metal band with a funny singer and the whole shebang eventually, as all revolutions do, succumbed to conservative dogma and self parody. And anyway, as Dr Cooper Clarke said, “punks were just hippies with zips”.
Instead, sisters and brothers, let’s talk about the dangerous counterrevolutionaries who went out and bought a cheap synth and a rudimentary drum machine. The ones that got what ‘punk’ was really about. The democratization of art. A democratization unhindered by rules concerning the means of production. A democratization forged in the blazing fire of unrestricted influence. A democratization free of perceived notions of “talent”. Sniffing Glue said learn three chords and form a band, Throbbing Gristle said why learn any chords at all… I am an artist because I say I am. More Marcel Duchamp than Malcolm McClaren.
So, sisters and brothers, who do you think led the counter-revolution? Well I’ll tell you. It was the man who stormed the Bastille and kicked the door down in the first place and he did it on the 16th July 1977. With the help of Tommy Vance. John Lydon’s playlist that night on Vance’s show included Tim Buckley, The Creation, Augustus Pablo, Bobby Byrd, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Peter Hammill and Can and put paid to any punk rock “year zero” claims. Meanwhile, locked out of the studio, Malcolm had to listen to the counterrevolutionary manifesto being broadcast across the metropolis. Mark that date in your diaries, sisters and brothers: 16th July, the anniversary of the birth of “post punk”. Just over a year later in October, Lydon rammed the point home with the release of Public Image, a personal and musical manifesto in 7” form.
The music on Plastic Dance 2 is the strangely coloured, distorted and frighteningly beautiful fruit of the seeds planted on that fateful day. Lessons learned and inspiration taken from the sonic aesthetics of dub, knowing that not all disco sucked and that even jazz was allowed. Music shaped by wonky approximation and appropriation. The artists on Plastic Dance 2 were artists because they said they were. Listen to their work and you’ll know they were. Listen in transcendent wonderment as George Attwell creates alchemical space funk in his home studio… as a future Mock Turtle and members of The Manchester Music Collective channel Robert Calvert and Bill Nelson… as Korzynski comes on like a Jeff Mills remix of Terry Riley. Listen in the wide-eyed joy of being as Stabat Stable’s drum machine runs amok to the accompaniment of discordant organ stabs… as a future founder of 808 State channels Albert Ayler alongside a galloping synth arpeggio.
I’ll stop right there, brothers and sisters, as crass comparison does this art no justice. Let it trigger your own parallel universe because the music on Plastic Dance 2 is the sound of yesterday, today and tomorrow. - Andrew Weatherall”
Insanely fresh, killer debut volley by 19 year old “veteran” of Lisbon’s virulent ghetto sound, recorded when he was just 14 and now remastered and released by the mighty Príncipe. It's a brilliantly weirdo, avant-garde fusion of portugese/angolan dance music styles championing an ideal of dance music as punkish & direct rather than overworked and generic.
Hot out of Lisbon’s ghetto sprawl, 19 year old Puto Tito breaks thru on Príncipe with 20 tracks produced when he was barely into his teens, all salvaged from an old Soundcloud account and newly remastered for the dance. The sound of ‘Carregando a Vida Atrás das Costas’ is patently influenced by Tito’s Angolan heritage, and faithfully employs the popular slow Tarraxho and tougher Kuduro rhythm styles. Yet, like the best of Príncipe’s releases, it’s the way he injects a playful, weirdo character and uncompromising, psychedelic vision to his trax that sets Tito’s music apart form the crowd, whilst being very much connected to it.
With a direct fervour and naturally experimental quality to his productions, the album scales from drowsy, red-eyed, to brightly coloured downbeats on one hand, while charging into jagged and nagging uptempo styles on the other hand. But whichever way he goes, it’s always with an off-the-cuff flair and rhythm-lead suss that works the dance to its best.
The 2LP highlights the full spectrum of Puto Tito’s early remit, diving in with the darkside drone and rasping rhythm of ‘Noite Magica’, to swerve from the celebratory, drop-top cruise of ‘Mestre Das Artes’ thru to wickedly screwed Tarraxho in ‘Malucao’ and the deadpan drag of ‘1 2 3’, while he can hardly suppress his brilliant, weirdo tendencies in the zig-zagging arps of ‘C L Prod’, the heat-warped funk of ‘OIHo JoOnAe’, and the heatsick, syrupy pressure of ‘Locura Tutal’. Further, the digital bonuses extend the wigged-out fun in seven short, sharp shots, slipping farther down the rabbit hole into a bittersweet beatless flex on ‘Melodia daquelas’ alongside the hypnotic uptempo styles of ‘ABuzaNtesS’.
Tito’s arguably and understandably naif approach speaks to an ideal of dance music as punkish, fresh and direct, rather than overworked and generic. It’s an approach that, in the past, has yielded some of the finest underground music, from the UK’s early ‘90s hardcore and jungle, to South Africa’s Gqom scene, Chicagoan footwork and the Singeli sound of Dar-Es-Salaam. More specifically, its possible to place Puto Tito in the same dare-to-be-different, bedroom producer category of grimy Kuduro, Batida and Afrohouse as young heroes Nídia or P.Adrix, as ‘Carregando a Vida Atrás das Costas’ vividly demonstrates.
Don’t miss this.
Following the primal, no-frills rock majesty of Rather Ripped, the great American juggernaut that is Sonic Youth expands on the formula with a more opened up, liberated album - their first for Matador.
The Eternal kicks off in a violent storm; an "out-of-the gate hardcore matinee track" as Thurston Moore would have it, fronted by an on-form, ageless Kim Gordon. The sublime proto-grunge riffology carries over into 'Anti-Orgasm'; a barrage of arch feminist-punk sloganeering that divides itself into two halves, the first presenting a snarling line-up of guitars while the second ebbs into a carefully poised kraut-surf rock soundscape.
Sounding every bit like a modern SY classic, 'Antenna' maintains sufficient abrasion via some nerve-jangling guitar manipulations, while surly Mark Ibold basslines prop up the Lee Ranaldo-fronted 'What We Know', and the excellent 'Malibu Gas Station' mires itself in a sinister sleaziness - "an ode to the flash moment of the camera as you knowingly step from your SUV sans panties" appropriately delivered with all the nervous confusion of a Britney breakdown.
Perhaps a testament to Sonic Youth's own longevity, and all-round status as elder statespeople of subterranean music, large chunks of The Eternal reference and eulogise alternative culture's departed: the sleeve is a painting by guitar great John Fahey, while NYC beat poet Greg Corso is commemorated on 'Leaky Lifeboat', and 'Thunderclap (For Bobby Pyn)' pays tribute to The Germs' frontman Darby Crash - though it could equally be taken as a broader eulogy for LA's post-punk scene of the late '70s and early '80s. Sonic Youth fulfill a great many roles, and in addition to persistently being one of the great bands of our time, The Eternal shows that they're also historians of the underground; a living, working museum to all the obscure bands, sub-scenes and musical tributaries they've come into contact with and drawn influence from (or for that matter, themselves influenced) over a lifespan. God knows where we'd be without them.
An incredible 80 minute wormhole into ritualistic, hypnagogic experiments from riveting dark ambient to freezing rave riffs and SAW II-like tone poems. Puts so much of this kind of music to shame - if you’re into the darker, more harrowing end of drone and Ambient - anything from Kevin Drumm to Dean Hurley or Thomas Köner, this will rule your world.
Key Hospital Productions artist Jim Mroz aka Lussuria ditches the synths for a holistically organic, analogue alchemy in ‘Scarlet Locust of These Columns’, anticipating the mighty shadow of his ‘Three Knocks’ album looming on the horizon. Assembled and executed in 10 days of October and finally realised at Merchant House, South Hampton, Long Island, New York, the album locates Lussuria in elemental and liminal states. Gathering a charged array of instrumentation including flutes made out of human leg bones and a drum made from a skull, he conducts ritualistic experiments that enable him to broach other dimensions and relay the what’s on the other side in a series of riveting dark ambient tales and hypnotic pulses.
It’s maybe wisest to take ‘Scarlet Locust of These Columns’ as an initiatory rite of passage for the upcoming ‘Three Knocks’ album. In structure and scale, its 17 tracks are perhaps surprisingly light on the ear, and as hypnagogic as they are impending, vacillating the pressure meter between sky citadel structures in the title track and the choking pound of ’Neo-Savage (Suspicions of Destiny)’ with heavy-lidded wormholes such as ‘With Bated Breath (Bird in Hand)’, segueing from somnambulant shoegaze in ‘Mondala (The Snell Of Power)’ to dry-eyed choral samples in ‘The Mondrian’, and sublime, opiated gauze in ‘White Ties To The Revolution’, or seemingly isolating and freezing rave riffs in meditative space on ‘Feather Duster Put In Place’, beside SAW II-like tone poems and exquisite palls of inclement gloom.
Albums of this kind of atmospheric calibre don’t come along so often. Don’t let it escape you.
Jay Glass Dubs and SKRS remix a pair of Jabu’s emotionally-consumed Bristol dub-soul songs from heir Blackest Ever Black LP ‘Sleep Heavy’, for their Young Echo breadbins.
Marking only the 4th release on Young Echo, following Rider Shafique’s cutting and hugely overlooked, Sam Kidel-produced ‘I-Dentity’, and of course the massive ‘Young Echo’ album, this plate sees the crew diversify their bonds, inviting international flavours and perspectives on their rooted but mutant dub styles.
Up top Jay Glass Dubs arrives in the wake of his acclaimed ‘Epitaph’ album to diffuse the blue sax and plangent vox of ‘Fool If’ into a floating, widescreen, out-of-body experience that becomes more disturbed, unravelled, losing its own thread as the beat emerges and refuses to find its feet.
SKRS’ follow on the downturn with a stark ‘2nd Cut’ remix of ‘Wounds’ that easily marks as the bluest track in their arsenal, teetering the tremulous vocal in a Burial-esque woodblock swing rhythm and puckered, reverberant chords.
A restless Slip deliver their fourth release of 2019 with Brad Henkel & Yoshiko Klein’s mercurial debut, tracing etheric lines from scrabbly haptic noise to wistful ambient via 4th world peals and midnight jazz vibes.
Unfolding in two durational halves, ‘Merry Peers’ appears to be an ironic moniker for the duo’s modest, coy and quiet style of composition. Using Henkel’s trumpet, plus synth, daubs of voice, and carefully applied FX, they form a microcosm unto themselves, one that takes in three minutes of visceral extended technique and piercing high register tones, before fading into the thing proper - a sublime arc of ambient synth pads infiltrated by blithe self-help slogans, and leading down the garden path to phosphorescing blooms of dubwise, 4th world jazz, Vangelis-like synth brass flares, and dilapidated ambient-pop song.
The effect is richly dreamlike comfortingly lonely, and smudged in all the right places for a perfectly elusive grip on the duo’s waking reality, stemming for the immersion in Berlin’s fecund underground. There’s no real big statement or difficult concept behind ‘Merry Peers’, just a wry expression of the strangeness and melancholy of the human condition that will surely resonate with daydreamers and lovers of anything from Felicia Atkinson or Teresa Winter.
PAN inaugurate Entopia, their highly promising, soundtrack-focussed sister label, with the tremulous beauty and dreamy ambient detachment of Tujiko Noriko’s ‘Kuro (OST)’
Realised alongside musicians Sam Britton and Will Worsely, experimental J-popstar and composer Tujio Noriko conceived the ‘Kuro’ soundtrack for the eponymous 2017 film which she wrote and directed with Joji Koyama, and in which she also plays the lead role. The film follows the tale of Romi, a Japanese woman living in the suburbs of Paris with her paraplegic lover Milou. Told through personal anecdotes and myths, the story soon turns ominous, reflected as the narrated story and the visual story diverge to reveal an ambiguous space which is subtly coloured and accentuated by the soundtrack’s suggestive daubs of ambient electronics and burnished instrumental tones.
The music was composed during the editing of the film, mostly by Tujiko, but with integral assistance from both Sam Britton and Will Worsely, and her co-director Joji Koyama. Perhaps glibly known as “the Japanese Björk” for her spellbinding, etheric touch, Tujiko brings a wealth of experience to helm in the soundtrack, steering fathoms wide of her pop-related output to work with filigree, layered electronics, organs that are occasionally and imperceptibly meshed with diegetic, rustling sounds from the film. The resulting atmosphere is intoxicatingly gentle yet elusive, evoking themes of claustrophobia and haunting beauty that also lie behind the imagery.
In the film, Tujiko is heard as the narrator behind Romi, but in this soundtrack release her voice is largely reserved to scant, poignant moments of glossolalia or breathy presence, save for one exquisite piece of ambient pop. Nested at the core of ‘Kuro’ is ‘Romi Sings’, where Tujiko appears to duet with the breeze from her window in the album’s most gorgeous vignette. Taken part of the whole, it’s a hauntingly realist denouement for the rest of the soundtrack, and just one of the subtly absorbing, contrasting components that make up the album’s dreamlike nature.
‘Kuro (OST)’ is an ideal first release for Entopia, the soundtrack-focussed offshoot of PAN. Taking its meaning in context of Ekistics - the idea of world-building - and in respect of creative communities both visual and music-oriented, Entopia proposes a promising new space - neither utopian nor dystopic - where the boundaries between installation works, theatre, dance and fashion will fall, just as they have with PAN the parent label.