Onra releases his 6th LP on Dublin’s All City, blushing 13 tracks of romantic soul and R&B downstrokes straddling classic ’80s and ’90s vibes with up-to-the-second production. Furtively tucking the vibe away for the lovers, the Parisian producer licks choice samples into slick original arrangements of sticky boogie bass and snares drenched in gated reverb, all chain compressed for that pendulous pressure and a lip-biting sense of tension and release.
“On “Nobody Has To Know”, his fifth album for All City Records, the versatile French producer created music that reflects on the various aspects of a secret relationship pulling from R&B,New Jack Swing and Funk to soundtrack the passions of attraction.
Stylistically “Nobody Has To Know” picks up from the Future Funk style Onra originated on his 2010's “Long Distance” (and its 2012 companion EP “Deep In The Night” for Fool's Gold). Where those two releases mined the early and mid parts of the 1980s for ideas and references, the new album digs into late '80s and early '90s jams for smoother and richer sounds. Bolstering the record are two talented multi-instrumentalists, New Zealand's Lewis McCallum and Belgium's Pomrad, who bring touches of virtuosity to Onra's trademark smooth arrangements. The result is a record that, like its theme, oscillates between tender, torrid and tumultuous.
Over its 13 tracks “Nobody Has To Know” details the ups and downs of a secret relationship, from the excitement of doing something forbidden to the aftermath of living out fantasies. On "Let Me Fantasize" a rolling bassline and sparkling melodies capture the excitement of what is possible, the mind wandering into the forbidden. "No Question" taps into New Jack Swing to act out desires that can't be suppressed, exuberant solos echoing dangerous feelings. With its hard drums and smooth horn solos, and chorus of "Freak" takes you to that place where you can do things you only dreamed about. Balancing this intensity are more introspective moments. "Not Long Ago" rolls out gentle synth solos and nostalgic samples to reflect on past relationships and the very human desire to have what you had or can no longer reach. Rich textures and a languid rhythm underpin the reflective mood of "Nothing To Lose," as you wonder what could go wrong – it's a fine line after all.
The fantasizing, excitement and danger of fatal attraction are all reflected through the prism of the music. With “Nobody Has To Know” Onra deftly evolves the style he first began to explore a decade ago with his unique touch, re-affirming a unique sound rooted in warmth and setting the mood for some late-night escapades.”
““This record is definitely looser than our last one,” says Suuns singer/guitarist Ben Shemie. “It’s not as clinical. There’s more swagger.”
"You can hear this freedom flowing through the 11 tracks on Felt. It’s both a continuation and rebirth, the Montreal quartet returning to beloved local facility Breakglass Studios but this time recording themselves at their own pace, over five fertile sessions spanning several months. A simultaneous stretching out and honing in, mixed to audiophile perfection by St Vincent producer John Congleton who flew up especially from Dallas to deploy his award-winning skills in situ.
While maintaining a pleasing economy, the informality of self-production has enabled Suuns to explore bright new vistas. “Us doing it ourselves, that process was like a very receptive, limitless workshop to just try out ideas,” declares drummer Liam O’Neill.
Hence the hypnotic future-pop percolations of X-ALT or the way Watch You, Watch Me’s organic/synthetic rush builds and and builds atop elevatory rhythm and the ecstatic, Harmonia-meets-Game Boy patterns. As befits a band who cite Andy Stott and My Bloody Valentine as touchstones yet don’t sound like either, Suuns have always seamlessly blended the programmed and played. Never mere fusionists, it’s now pointless trying to decode their sonic signature as ‘dance music that rocks’ or vice versa.
Other notable developments are singer/guitarist Ben Shemie’s newfound vocal range and buoyant melodies, showcased in such wholly unexpected delights as the yearning lilt of Make It Real and sax-smoothed Peace And Love, which sincerely comes on like a post-punk Sade. There’s a previously unheard confidence to the singer and lyricist, perhaps best exemplified by centre-piece Control, where his hushed tones are complemented by a bilingual voice musing on dreams and reality, sampled from an old Montreal social art project.”
Nope, not the ‘90s house act, but rather Philadelphia’s original ‘80s synth trio, The Nightcrawlers, are subject of this revelatory compendium from Mexican Summer’s Anthology Recordings. Spanning 14 works in just over 2.5 hours, The Biophonic Boombox Recordings form a gateway to distant, lo-fi but fantastical dimensions
“Deep, diverse, and unheralded, the Philadelphia ambient electronic music scene of the 1980s is explored with The Nightcrawlers’ The Biophonic Boombox Recordings, an expansive archival collection documenting the hard-knuckled kosmische synthesizer trio’s home recordings self-released and distributed over 35 cassettes between 1980 and 1991.
Featuring the farthest reaching spacescapes of those cassette releases – improvised straight into the mic of a JVC Biphonic Boombox – none of these performances have been released beyond the original format, and essentially went out of print when Nightcrawler Peter D. Gulch got tired of dubbing them to blank tapes to mail-order through his Synkronos label and sell at live shows. Restored and recalibrated from the original cassettes, The Nightcrawlers’ music has never sounded better or so readily accessible.”
Japan’s fearless multi-instrumentalist and cultural provocateur Keiji Haino has made a career out of his free-form musical improvisations and diverse collaborations. Whether deconstructing American blues to a few rogue notes hanging across chasms of empty space in his solo endeavors, sparring with the nebulous fringes of psychedelia in Fushitsusha, or teaming up with musicians like Faust, Boris, Jim O’Rourke, Stephen O’Malley, John Zorn, and Peter Brötzmann for fleeting aural experiments. Haino’s work is never pre-planned or structured, but rather a completely spontaneous exploration of chemistry, texture, and dynamics.
"SUMAC’s tenure is much younger than Haino’s, though guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner has covered a similarly large swath of musical territory across numerous projects and collaborations, from the sedated drones of recent projects with Daniel Menche and William Fowler Collins to the modern compositions of Mamiffer and all the way back to the restless evolutions of post-metal stalwarts ISIS. With his cohorts Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists, Erosion) on drums and Brian Cook (Russian Circles) on bass, Turner has dissolved the rigid forms of heavy music, searching for a balance between disciplined precision and unhinged musical barbarism, crafting music that vacillates between meticulously detailed instrumentation and uninhibited forays into oblique abstraction.
For American Dollar Bill - Keep Facing Sideways, You're Too Hideous To Look At Face On, Keiji Haino and SUMAC met up in Tokyo’s Goksound recording studio to track a series of unrehearsed, completely non-premeditated sessions. Captured across several reels of tape, the collaboration harnessed Haino’s tension-inducing use of empty space on songs like “I’m over 137% a love junkie, and it’s still not enough” while pushing SUMAC’s dissident metal vocabulary on “What have I done (I was reeling in something white...)”. Throughout the course of its hour-plus length, American Dollar Bill pushes and pulls at the strictures of metal and bends the stylistic formalities of improvised music to create a sonic purge unencumbered by convention.”
DAF go balls-to-the-wall on their Conny Plank-produced Gold Und LIebe
Feat 10 strapping tunes including hi-velocity highlights in the hyper rock ’n roll swagger of Absolute Körperkontrolle and the earlier-written zinger Werschwend Deine Jugend, plus a popcorn-like charmer Liebe Auf Den Ersten Blick.
A massive influence on everyone from Powell to Helena Hauff, DAF are among the most important electronic artists of the ‘80s and a massive influence on electronic dance music ever since.
Karin Dreijer’s Fever Ray returns with the first release in 8 years since the celebrated self titled debut in 2009. She now tweaks the formula while retaining the enigmatic air of ‘80s synth-pop at the project’s core, redressed with rhythms better related to the modern Afro-Latin diaspora and underground fetish clubs, thanks to co-production by Príncipe’s NÍDIA, Peder Mannerfelt, Paula Temple, and Deena Abdelwahed.
Where Fever Ray was blue and black, achingly gothic, Plunge is ultraviolet and lusting, with Karin Dreijer aka Fever Ray poised like some gynoid harpy, enunciating her uniquely seductive, stressed and clipped syllables in a spectrum of screeches, naif sing-song, autotuned turns-of-phrase and etheric flights, all matched by equally piquant, urgent synthetic backdrops.
Highlights are myriad, striking from the front with evil, EVOL-esque synths wrapped to a industrialised dembow swang on Wanna Sip, and floating a superb blend of Errorsmith-like squeaks with railing reggaeton snares and a deliciously bittersweet duet with Tami T in A Part Of Us, whilst the NÍDIA-produced zinger IDK About You is surely primed for widespread dancefloor aktion, and the syncopation of giddy arpeggios and dancehall-meets-EBM drum programming in To The Moon And Back underline a piece of modern pop perfection.
There’s maybe one dud, when the folk strings spoil Red Trails, but ultimately this is a hugely satisfying listen, and a dead welcome return form one of this century’s most innovative pop stars.
Afro-Cubist house prophet Jamal Moss dons his Hieroglyphic Being robes for the most varied, layered and timbrally rich solo mission in his cosmic musical arc thus far. Think Sun Ra, Thelonious Monk, The Weather Report, Larry Heard, Marshall Allen, Pekka Airaksinen, Adonis, Miles Davis, Armando Gallop, Jon Hassell - but most of all think of deep Black musics and Chi house as a portal to other dimensions.
Armed to the gills and wingtips with the plushest hardware line-up we’ve seen on a Jamal Moss recording - organic flutes, piano, guitar, drums, alto sax, Hammond organ, Korg Triton, Linn drum, Korg DDD-1, DR 5 drums, Casio RZ1, Ensoniq Mirage Firelight CMI Series III, Moog Mother 32, Allen & Heath Zed 24 mixer - it’s perhaps understandable that the results feel more lustrous and grand than his usual, stripped and tracky results, seemingly pulling some influence from recent years work with instrumentalists such as Sarathy Korwar, Shabaka Hutchings, Orphhy Richardson and more.
In a subliminal and physical elevation and expansion of styles, the album shapeshifts thru 9 stages variously wrestling with and dancing around the ‘floor, making for one of the first Jamal Moss albums we’d genuinely say sounds as great on headphones, walking around absorbing sights, as it does on home stereos or jabbing you to dance.
The notion of rhythm and sound takes on mutant new meanings at the hands of meter-tweaking mavericks, YoshimiO (Boredoms/OOIOO), Susie Ibarra, and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe.
‘Flower of Sulphur’ finds the trio working together for the first time after meeting in various other configurations, with results that loosely fall under the improvised free jazz banner, but hold back from the brink by way of an underlying, rolling funk logic and a defined clarity of rhythmelodic texture, rather than the expressive mayhem ‘free jazz’ suggests. Think falling down a tessellating MC Escher staircase for an hour…
“Susie explains the idea: "We had all performed in different configurations before but never together as a trio. I think actually I have met each YoshimiO and Robert at different times when collaborating on larger works with Tarek Atoui. But we had not performed together as trio. I was very happy with the prospect to play a trio concert, as I could imagine the sonic palette could be very interesting, being that we each come from different aesthetic backgrounds but enjoy crossing into various sonic territories.”
The resulting recording of their collaboration, Flower of Sulphur, is a transfixing piece of continuous improvisational work which explores the direct relationship between the artists and their individual configurations. The album takes the form of the trio each playing their principal instruments with no specific goal other than the exploration of the space in that moment.
This spontaneous composition showcases the freedom and musical immediacy of all three artists’ ability to interplay as well as their individual unique techniques to create engaging experimental sounds. Flower of Sulphur was recorded at Roulette in Brooklyn in front of an audience; the trio are hoping to make additional live performances throughout 2018. The hour long instillation builds to a captivating crescendo elegantly fusing immersive layers, rewarding the listener with a true emotive experience.”
Dragon’s Eye Recordings proprietor Yann Novak unfurls a mesmerising, meditative suite of processed field recordings on Touch. Imagine the elegant protagonist of Richard Chartier’s Pinkcourtesyphone took a stroll at dusk with Biosphere in the L.A. ‘burbs…
“Yann Novak is an artist, composer, and curator based in Los Angeles. His work is guided by his interests in perception, context, movement, and the felt presence of direct experience. Through the use of sound and light, Novak explores how these intangible materials can act as catalysts to focus our awareness on our present location in space and time. Novak's diverse body of works – audiovisual installations, performances, architectural interventions, sound diffusions, recording, and prints – ask participants to reclaim the present moment as a political act.
His album Ornamentation was released by Touch in 2016. He also runs his own label, Dragon's Eye Recordings. In March 2018, Yann will be touring Europe, including dates in London, Berlin and others.”
Expertly researched survey of Japan’s golden age take on Jazz. Check for highlights in the nippy clip of ‘White Fire’ and ‘Unknown Polint’ for some proper dancers, or the likes of Takeo Moriyama’s ‘Kaze’ for a more sultry take on classic jazz tradition
“In the years following World War Two, Japan developed one of the most insatiable, dynamic and diverse markets for jazz. For a crucial period of little over a decade – from the late 1960s to the early 1980s – Japanese jazz culture progressed at an astonishing rate, producing an extraordinary array of artists, recordings and record labels that created some of the most forward thinking and impressive jazz to be committed to tape. This amazing journey is explored on ‘J Jazz’.
This compilation from BBE uncovers some of the most sought after and rare material from this period and pulls together key artists who shaped the post-war modern jazz scene in Japan.
‘J Jazz’ includes obscure and sought after rarities like the bass-driven power jazz of Koichi Matsukaze’s ‘Earth Mother’, the holy grail rarity of Aizawa Tohru Quartet’s ‘Dead Letter’ and the loping majesty of Takeo Moriyama’s ‘North Wind’. This collection takes the listener into deep spiritual jazz, post-modal impressionism and fierce dance-floor fusion with material from artists and composers whose names are generally only known to committed collectors of Japanese jazz. Fumio Karashima, Mitsuaki Katayama, Takeo Moriyama and Kiyoshi Sugimoto are among the names featured on an album aiming to shed a little light on the shadowy world of Japanese jazz clubs, tucked away in the neon backstreets. This music demands a wider audience and BBE are excited to deliver a landmark compilation, lifting the veil on this wonderful and mysterious area of the global jazz catalogue.
None of the tracks featured on ‘J Jazz’ have ever received an official release outside Japan before. The albums the tracks are taken from are extremely hard to find and often fetch huge sums on the collector’s circuit. Originally pressed in small numbers on independent and private labels such as Union, Johnny’s Disk, Whynot, ALM and VAP, these tracks are now available for everyone to enjoy.
Compiled by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden, both long-time collectors of Japanese jazz, ’J Jazz’ brings together the very best in modern jazz from Japan, recorded during a critical period of musical and cultural transition that saw composers and musicians not only assert a new artistic identity but also create a lasting musical legacy.”
November 2017 August 1988, Spacemen 3 embark on one of the strangest events in the band's already strange history. Billed as "An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music" (although consciously omitting the sitar), the group would play in the foyer of Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford, Middlesex to a largely unsuspecting and unsympathetic audience waiting to take their seats for Wim Wenders' film 'Wings of Desire'.
"Spacemen 3's proceeding set, forty-five minutes of repetitive drone-like guitar riffs, could be seen as the "Sweet Sister Ray" of '80s Britain. Their signature sound is at once recognizable and disorienting - pointing as much to the hypnotic minimalism of La Monte Young as to a future shoegaze constituency. On this double LP reissue, Dreamweapon is augmented by studio sessions and rehearsal tapes from 1987 that would lead up to the recording of Spacemen 3's classic 'Playing With Fire' album. 'Spacemen Jam,' featuring Sonic Boom and Jason Pierce on dual guitar, is a side-long mediation on delicate textures and psychedelic effects."
Features maverick jazz keyboardist Ståle Storløkken (Supersilent) on a blast of Goblin-esque prog-funk and Giallo-style spy-funk theme
“Elephant9 blends the virtuosic precision of King Crimson and Yes with the jazz-fusion explorations of electric Miles, Weather Report and the Tony Williams Lifetime. Key and time signatures change constantly as the quartet helters and skelters between tightly composed sections, driving kosmische interludes and bucolic Canterbury excursions. Rolling Stone (US)
This sums it up pretty well when it comes to reference points, but it´s also necessary to add that Elephant9 have developed quite a personal and identifiable style - through previous albums, touring and close collaborations with Reine Fiske and Terje Rypdal.
On this, their fifth studio album, they are back to the core trio of their two first albums, with Ståle Storløkken (keyboards), Nikolai Hængsle (bass) and Torstein Lofthus (drums). “The Greatest Show On Earth” displays some truly astonishing playing and is a more dynamic, structured and focused album with all tracks clocking in between five and seven minutes.”
The Unknowable is a completely improvised, spontaneous group-composed body of music created by legendary saxophone and flute player Dave Liebman together with celebrated percussionists Adam Rudolph and Tatsuya Nakatani.
"Dave Liebman, whose legendary, more than fifty year-long, career has seen him work with Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, John Scofield, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Bob Moses and Richie Beirach, collaborates here with Adam Rudolph, himself one of the deepest percussionists of the last half century, whose collaborations encompass Don Cherry, Pharaoh Sanders, Bill Laswell, Herbie Hancock, Omar Sosa and several members of the AACM, and with Japan-born percussionist and sound innovator Tatsuya Nakatani. The result of this extraordinary meeting of the minds is music that stems from the worlds of free and spiritual jazz, yet goes beyond; It is incredibly open, has no north, south, east and west, it is simultaneously music of all humanity and of the cosmos."
Certain to claim its place in pop-loving hearts everywhere, ‘Few Traces’ is a glorious introduction to the admirable optimism and romance of Mark Renner’s American songcraft. Few Traces surveys a near decade of Mark Renner’s scarcely released and unreleased material from 1982 to 1990, embracing and evoking the timelessness of his artistic statement: a wordless translation of the individual’s musical experience, met with the poetic expression of being here.
"Mark Renner first encountered punk while a teenager in Upperco, a country town in rural Maryland. Growing up on his family farm, he became a young acolyte of the British exports hitting not-so-distant Baltimore record store shelves in 1979 / 1980 and was baited by an area musician-wanted ad declaring Ultravox a primary touchstone.
This nascent band and a pair of other group experiments flamed out under the typical totem of despotism. In their ashes Renner began recording independently around 1983 with a portable four-track, electric guitar, and classic Casio CZ101 synthesizer. Aside from John Foxx-era Ultravox, Renner’s process was inspired by the period’s electronic pioneers venturing into deeper, romantic pop pastures: Yellow Magic Orchestra, Bill Nelson, The Associates.
With his tools and teachers in place, the blueprints for Renner’s sound were laid out – metronomic, skeletal rhythms built on sturdy yet singular drum machines supporting luminescent guitar and synth lines, Renner’s reverent voice guiding the fables and construction.
Most directly influential, Renner’s enthusiasm for Days in Europa, the third album by Scottish new wave band Skids, would lead to a correspondence and long-distance tutorship with Stuart Adamson. Before Adamson would achieve worldwide success co-founding the group Big Country, a chance friendship with Renner would impart great confidence in the young musician from Maryland, who, after a visit in Edinburgh, would then travel to London to demo an early version of “Half A Heart” featured in its final form on Few Traces.
The sum of Renner’s music is one-part literary, one-part painterly. The artist cites the individualism of Herman Hesse as a guiding force, and there are overt references to W. B. Yeats and John Greanleaf Whittier among other authors. Lyrical themes evoke the presence of the ancient past, much like early Felt songs or the spiritual visions of Van Morrison. (Tellingly, Renner cites Morrison’s 1980s albums made between Inarticulate Speech of the Heart and No Guru, No Method, No Teacher as musical influences.)
Apart from his writing, Renner explored music as a complement to visual language: many of the dream-like instrumental passages presented across Few Traces were originally implemented as sound elements for exhibitions of his paintings. Renner pursued wordless music as a pure aesthetic in its own right, pristinely balanced segues and open-ended compositions that lead to pasture but not without shepherd.
Compiled three decades after the music was originally put to tape, Few Traces collects Mark Renner’s early music but strives not to simplify or reframe it. (Mark is still active making music and painting) The instrumental explorations remain on par with the great ambient adventurers of the period (Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Roedelius), while the vocal and guitar-centric songs crystalize across similar terrains being transversed by Cocteau Twins and The Chills.
Few Traces highlights in intuitive sequence gems from Renner’s scarce discography and archive: the self-released debut All Walks of This Life (1986), the aptly titled follow-up Painter’s Joy (1988), plus early singles, compilation tracks, and exemplary songs that saw no original release. The collection allows an intimate look at an artist growing into their sound and surroundings, finding the in between echoes and spirituality of the individual.”
Sweden’s spikiest, boundry-oblivious rock group give one last hurrah with this eponymous slaughter for Thrill Jockey. Following more than a decade of defying categorisation and relaxing on labels as far flung as Diagonal and Important, Joachim Nordwall and co take this opportunity to blast out eight jams tangoing from the xmas-ready combo of noisy dub and sleigh bells in A Brief History of Rhythm, Dub, Life and Death to the shark-eyed krautrock drive of The Beauty of Creation and Destruction, via the Suicide-al Clean Mind, and the punk chutzpah of All Thoughts Thought.
A Message from Joachim Nordwall: “Our new album, simply entitled The Skull Defekts, marks the death of the band and an important farewell to those who have cared. It holds many echoes of our history but it is music that is present and now, and it’s hopeful in its own darkness. It carries some kind of positive desperation knowing what we knew while recording it. We worked with Mariam Wallentin as our fourth member on this one, and she brought in something new; new creativity, new blood. Her contributions were important.
The stuff I wrote for it was of course colored by the fact that we were not comfortable as a band. I think Fagge’s stuff was too. And there in the studio, we realized how much we love creating together. We love playing together but it just had to stop. The Skull Defekts might be our strongest album musically. It is the album that might be the most composed one. It is well prepared musically and of course holds improvisational parts, but probably less than before.
This is our last album. The Skull Defekts has been an important part of our lives. It is no longer.”
La Contra Ola is the fascinating 1st ever survey of Spanish electronic music during the post-punk and synth wave phenomenon which swept subterranean US and European scenes circa 1980-1986.
By their own admission, Spain was late to electronic music, mostly due the restrictive dictatorship of General Franco. But when Franco fxcked off in 1975, it was open season for sounds made with boxes and plugged-in guitars. You’ll find many of the best examples from that period in this set, ranging from the funked EBM swerve of La Fura dels Baus and Diseño Corbusier thru to the orientalist pop jitters of Lavabos Iturriaga and warped disco brilliance of Oviforia Sci, along with loads of other names you’ve never heard before.
Nowadays, although not necessarily synonymous with electronic music, the likes of Madrid, Barcelona and bits of the Basque country have a reputable electronic music scene, mostly a result of artists in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s artists figuring it all out on their own terms and from a distance to the usual electronic power hubs, variously updating old styles, importing from parallel scenes, and essentially imagining their own. In the past decade’s groundswell of reissued classic and obscure material, the likes of Diseño Corbusier’s El Alma De La Estrella and various oddities from Esplendor Geométrico, Luis Delgado and the Grabaciones Accidentales archive have been reissued and reappraised by the likes of Dead Cert Home Ents and EM Records, but now it’s the turn of the others to share the spotlight.
They’re generally all dancefloor-themed, or at least rhythm-driven and pop-wise, as opposed to avant or explicitly experimental. Aside from the better known Diseño Corbusier ace Golpe De Amistad, you’ll also come across their much rarer Meta Metallic  ace nestled next to the hoppin’ punk hustle of Zombies’ La Rebelión de los Objetos, and tentative 4th world/post-punk mapping recalling 23 Skidoo in Derribos Arias’ A Flúor. The aforementioned bendy disco bewt, Mao’s Children by Oviformia Sci is a really big highlight for the DJs, as are the fresh cuts of Moscú está helado and the wiry funk of TodoTodo’s electro bubbler Autogas and the Liquid G-alike EBM force of Himno from El Humano Marrano, while natty surprises keep on coming in the form of Derribos Arias’ Suicide-like dream-bop ditty Aprenda Alemán en 7 dias, and in the melodic fructose of Línea Vienesa’s Cangrejos en la cocina.
So yeh, as you can see and hear, there was a lot of quality gear coming from Spain during that fecund, pre- home computer period, which makes this set rather tasty as both a historical education and a class set of tunes.
Highly respected drummer and prolific composer Bobby Previte continues his Terminals trilogy with Rhapsody, a song cycle on the subject of transit and migration.
"Subtitled In Transit: Terminals II , Previte's newest work was scored for acoustic sextet and features fellow composer - improvisers in guitarist Nels Cline, harpist Zeena Parkins, pianist John Medeski, vocalist, alto saxophonist Fabian Rucker and vocalist - erhu player Jen Shyu. This latest major work, released on RareNoise Records in February 2018, comes on the heels of Previte's powerful prior RareNoise release, Mass , a nine-part work scored for choir, pip organ and heavy metal trio. Rhapsody was commissioned by the Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat in Florida and had its world premiere on
April 21, 2017 at New College in Sarasota."
Well, this is just lovely; Hiroshi Yoshimura’s soothing electro-acoustic ambient suite, Music For Nine Postcards  is made available outside the Japanese market for the 1st time, unfurling the Tokyo-based artist’s delicate, minimalist masterwork inspired by Satie, Schaefer and Eno to whole new generations in need of blissed sonic respite. Unless you’re a bit wadded or simply helpless to the charms of early ‘80s Japambient records and bought a dead expensive original, it’s maybe likely that you’ll only get to hear this one via YouTube otherwise, so the opportunity to hear this beauty in full fidelity, at a reasonable price, is not to be missed!
"Despite his status as a key figure in the history of Japanese ambient music, Hiroshi Yoshimura remains tragically under-known outside of his home country. Empire of Signs–a new imprint co-helmed by Maxwell August Croy and Spencer Doran–is proud to reissue Yoshimura’s debut Music for Nine Post Cards for the first time outside Japan in collaboration with Hiroshi’s widow Yoko Yoshimura, with more reissues ofHiroshi’s works to follow in the future.
Working initially as a conceptual artist, the musical side of Yoshimura’s artistic practice came to prominence in the post-Fluxus scene of late 1970s Tokyo alongside Akio Suzuki and Takehisa Kosugi, taking many commissioned fashion runway scores, soundtracking perfume, soundscapes for pre-fab houses, train station sound design – all existing not as side work but as logical extensions of his philosophy of sound.
His work strived for serenity as an ideal, and this approach can be felt strongly on Music for Nine Post Cards. Home recorded on a minimal setup of keyboard and Fender Rhodes, Music for Nine Post Cards was Yoshimura’s first concrete collection of music, initially a demo recording given to the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art to be played within the building’s architecture.
This was not background music in the prior Japanese “BGM” sense of the word, but “environmental music”, the literal translation of the Japanese term kankyō ongaku given to Brian Eno’s “ambient” music when it arrived in late 70’s Japan. Yoshimura, along with his musical co-traveler Satoshi Ashikawa, searched for a new dialog between sound and space: music not as an external absolute, but as something that interlocks with a physical environment and shifts the listener’s experience within it.
Erik Satie’s furniture music, R. Murray Schafer’s concept of the soundscape and Eno’s ambience all greatly informed their work, but the specific form of tranquil stasis presented on releases like Nine Post Cards is still difficult to place within a specific tradition, remaining elusive and idiosyncratic despite the economy of its construction. This record offers the perfect introduction to Hiroshi’s unique and beautiful worldview: it’s one that can be listened to – and lived in – endlessly."
Anthony J Hart (Imaginary Forces, Basic Rhythm) adopts the Hi Tek moniker as producer for East Man’s Red, White & Zero; a grime/dancehall/ project inspired by London’s vital relationship between mixed, working class cultures, inspired by conversations with theorist and academic Paul Gilroy - alumni of the late, great Stuart Hall. Features bars by Saint P, Darkos Strife, Killa P, Eklipse, Lyrical Strally, Kwan. RIYL The Bug, Blackdown, Alex Deamonds.
“London’s young people have been seen as a problem by governments for many generations now. Their distinctive street cultures stretch back into the nineteenth century when, just like today, a stylish public presence signified danger to respectable people. At that time, Britain’s class conflicts were being re-made amidst all the glorious fruits of a global empire. Divisions like class and sex had different shapes and tempos that hardly resemble the machinery of our increasingly networked and unequal world. Religion, racism and nationalism were all important, but work, exploitation and poverty supplied the fiery core of politricks.
These days, Britain’s imperial wealth and prestige are long gone. Today’s young people are excluded and marginalized, confined and criminalized, yet they remain at the heart of the vital, energetic best of our city. Their energy and imagination drive London’s convivial culture. They duck and dive just like their predecessors. They hustle, they suffer and they survive. Even where knives are common, most of the problems that come up get resolved without murderous violence. The defining experience of their precarious situation is more likely to be fear or anxiety than warfare between gangs. Their violence is more likely to turn inwards on to their loved ones and family members. There are many forms of self harm and self medication.
Yet the space in which those youthful lives unfold has contracted. The scale on which life is lived has shrunk. Moving around can be expensive. Surveillance is constant. Dignity and certainty are difficult to find and hold on to. It can be hard to feel comfortable outside the spaces and places you know best. Those familiar circuits are marked out by the roadside shrines of dead flowers that show just how vulnerable you can quickly become.
We have been losing London to Babylon but we are busy making a new place. The edges of the city have become fertile. The weeds grow up explosively between palisaded concrete boxes and the litter-strewn greenery. This is not zones 1 and 2 where houses and flats are capital rather than buildings to live in. The music that comes out of that edgy world isn’t what it was a generation ago, but it’s still fundamental--necessary for life.
These shocking sounds can be a part of healing and repair while staying faithful to the pressures that forged them. Musicians can’t make a living from their creativity, but their listeners can’t understand this historical moment unless they get to grips with its local rules, meanings and poetry. This is not America. Even without words, this music speaks for itself and tells a story. It calls out to be understood while seeking ways to escape interpretation.
We are always more than either this or that. We are more than either black or white."
Paul Gilroy 2017.
Harkening back to their 1997 release of three consecutive EPs (‘Dog On Wheels’, ‘Lazy Line Painter Jane’ and ‘3.. 6.. 9 Seconds Of Light’), Belle and Sebastian release three new EPs under the umbrella title ‘How To Solve Our Human Problems’.
"Just as those three early EPs are at the very heart of the Belle and Sebastian canon, so these three new releases deserve to be treated not as a stopgap but as definitive releases in their own right. ‘How To Solve Our Human Problems’ is both an era of its own and part of a long, rich history. ‘How To Solve Our Human Problems’ is, if you like, Belle and Sebastian Redux"
U.S. Girls is the protean musical enterprise of multi-disciplinary artist, Meg Remy, presenting her sixth studio album ‘In A Poem Unlimited’.
"Remy’s second release for 4AD, which also includes ‘Mad As Hell’ - a clarion call for pacifism - was tracked in collaboration with Toronto-based instrumental collective The Cosmic Range and features arrangements by long-time contributors Maxmilian Turnball and Louis Percival. The dizzying buffet of live grooves on ‘In A Poem Unlimited’ represents an inversion of the dusty, sample-based minimal textures of ‘Half Free’, Remy’s euphoric 4AD debut.
Steered into focus by Remy and mixer / co-producer Steve Chahley, ‘In A Poem Unlimited’ features disco employed as a protest vernacular (‘Mad As Hell’), as well as an unrelenting assault (‘Time’); moody, slow-burning funk (‘Velvet 4 Sale’ and ‘L-Over’) and earnest synth anthems ‘Rosebud’ and ‘Poem’, which form the album’s emotional core.
‘In A Poem Unlimited’ features dark meditations reflecting charged atmospheres that directly precede and follow acts of violence. Many of the songs are character studies of women grappling with power; how to gain and exert it spiritually, as well as desperate strategies to mitigate its infliction. Remy also rallies against the public lies told by political and religious leaders and, more crucially, questions the lies we tell ourselves in order to survive. While U.S. Girls, denoting the plural, is no longer a misnomer, ‘In A Poem Unlimited’ may be Remy’s most individually distilled protest to date.
‘In A Poem Unlimited’ album opener ‘Velvet 4 Sale’ concerns a female narrator imploring another to buy a gun for protection, impressing that the only way to change men is for women to use violence. Remy says, “Men are lucky women (and children) have yet to take up arms. And although I hope this never happens and I completely disagree that violence is ever effective, this very idea was ripe for a song."
Featuring Infinite, Ibeyi, Green Gartside, Giggs, Sampha, Obongjayar, Wiki, Peter Gabriel, Mela Murder, Syd, Tic, Owen Pallett, and Kamasi Washington; Richard Russell’s star-lit début solo LP as Everything Is Recorded sells itself on the guestlist alone.
Ought's third album and first for Merge
"Growing up doesn't mean mellowing out so much as it means learning to pay attention, listening carefully and openly, staying somewhere long enough to really understand where you are. Recorded at Rare Book Room in Brooklyn with producer Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Animal Collective, Silver Jews), Room Inside the World explores themes that have always concerned the band-identity, connection, survival in a precarious world-but with a bolder, more nuanced sound palette.
Vibraphone, justly intonated synthesizers, drum machines, and a 70-piece choir suffuse the precise post-punk breakdowns that spangled Ought's first two albums, giving rise to an emotional complexity that pushes their characteristically taut sound to greater depths. Ought approached this record with newfound patience, constructing a (digital) moodboard to set their intentions: Brian Eno and Stereolab synths, the Mekons' 1985 album Fear and Whiskey, and Gerhard Richter and Kenneth Anger's sexy, fluorescent hyperreal all made it into the melting pot. "The process of everybody wading into each other's subconscious was really excellent," says frontman, guitarist, and lyricist Tim Darcy.
Holed up in their rehearsal building, an industrial rock block (and sock factory) overlooking the Trans-Canada Highway, the band strove for greater detail and specificity than before while remaining true to the collaborative, intuitive writing process that yielded their earlier work. On Room Inside the World, Ought gnaw at questions that have hovered around their music since they first began playing: How do you live in this world without destroying yourself? What is it that we can do for each other to make the lives we've been given easier?
Room Inside the World steps away from the nervousness and irony that characterizes Ought's previous records. Instead of winkingly asking you to open your textbooks, as on More Than Any Other Day, here they're imploring you to look inside yourself and then around you, to tease out and melt away the barriers that keep people separated from one another. It makes for a different kind of catharsis: the quiet satisfaction of a job well done, the glow of seeing someone as they are, the soft simmer of real love. It's like finding a space inside the world where you can sit down for a bit, a room where there's room enough for everyone. The record ends on a comma, a quick fade, a sharp intake of breath, and you find yourself right back where you began.
Made in celebration of the 90th birthday of Musique concrète pioneer, Pierre Henry, this epic collection was personally selected and remastered by the composer himself just prior to his death last year; including nine works released for the first time ever on any format - all remastered by the man himself.
The 12 CD boxset Polyphonies is a mind-blowing summation of more than 50 years work by restlessly pioneering composer, Pierre Henry (9th December 1927 - 5 July 2017) - the undisputed godfather of musique concrète, who laid the groundwork for much of electronic music as we now know it. Counting 29 works, including no fewer than 9 premieres, Polyphonies serves both an historic education and an engrossing reminder of Henry’s influence over developments in 20th and 21st century music.
There’s nothing that we can add to the reams of writing on Pierre Henry. We can only reassert what’s been said in numerous articles, essays and academic texts, that, technically, Pierre Henry was among the most important and ardent manipulators of ‘concrète’ sound - that is, physical sounds extracted from their environment and abstracted through various process of effects, to re-sound or resonate in new, different ways and meanings.
He’s French, so philosophy was always integral to his practice, but the proof is in Henry’s pudding, as his persistent pursuit of sonic spectres and metaphysics brought a world of new sounds into tangible physicality. Whether through animation of inanimate objects, or a re-spatialization of whole scenes of reality, Henry heard a possibility for alteration in almost everything, and acted on his urges with remarkable insightful results.
Many of Henry’s compositions are broadly known to followers of early electronic music, while even casual observers will likely know his Psyche Rock piece as the influence behind Matt Groening’s Futurama theme tune. However, even the most hardcore Henry heads won’t have heard the 9 premieres in this boxset, including the hyperreal dynamics of Chronicles terriennes, the deconstructed piano clatter of Études transcend antes pour un piano imaginaire, his rhythmically seductive Pleins jeux and the atonal fuss of Kyldex, or the deep space radiation of Astrologie, and likewise the entire 12th disc of 2016 "Remixes" (re-masteres, really), completed by the artist before losing he lost his sight. Ears were definitely still working, though!
It’s fair to say that our perception of sound and electronic music may not be the same if it were not for Henry’s way of listening, dissembling and re-sequencing the sound sphere, parsing and re-parsing it for an ever elusive meaning. In the process he’s thrown up more questions than answers which will puzzle and trigger more ideas, most likely for the rest of time.
Spread over a massive six discs and further bolstered by a pretty darn exhaustive book that interviews the surviving members (Williams passed away in 2001), 'Out Of Cold Storage' is testament to the unbridled virility of This Heat - with all the music very much rooted in its era, yet also utterly timeless. Comprised of their five studio albums ('This Heat', 'Deceit', 'Health and Efficiency', 'Made Available' and 'Repeat') plus an incendiary set of live action culled from their 1980/81 heyday, 'Out Of Cold Storage' allows everyone to get hold of these classic recordings in pristine form - a real treat given the eroded bootlegs and mp3s that have been doing the rounds for years.
Born out of the UK crucible that existed in the period immediately post punk (before it earned capitals and morphed into genre all of its own...), This Heat formed through the restless response of three twenty-somethings who felt impelled to document their corner of 1970's London. Already faces at the more severe end of the prog-rock scene, Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward were joined by non-musician Gareth Williams - a catalyst that would see them recording vast quantities of work then editing the results down into consumable chunks of aural fortitude.
Ranging in style from the avant-rock of their eponymous debut, through to the political polemic of 'Deceit', This Heat are spiky without the need to resort to high-kicking comparisons with the likes of Orange Juice et al., with their output always a couple of steps removed from their retrospective peers. Unafraid to disrupt their reputation through creative right-angles, the likes of 'Repeat' and it's central 20 minutes of looped drones and rhythms (think Can in a chiller cabinet) are seemingly at odds with 'Health And Efficiencies' melody etched high - yet rather than cause tension, these juxtapositions merely heighten the band's appeal and allow you a glimpse into moments of creative perfection.
Vast, comprehensive and thoroughly indispensable, 'Out Of Cold Storage' proves that the endless vault combing perpetrated by labels can sometimes come good. Six shades of fantastic.
Jonny Greenwood presents an elegantly poised OST for Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Phantom Thread’, performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Contemporary Orchestra, and an ensemble including himself and Oliver Coates, among others
“With Phantom Thread, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson paints an illuminating portrait both of an artist on a creative journey and the women who keep his world running. Phantom Thread is Anderson’s eighth movie, and his second collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis. The film’s soundtrack includes eighteen compositions by Greenwood. It was recorded in London with a sixty-member string orchestra conducted by Robert Ziegler and is featured more prominently in the film than any of Greenwood’s scores have been before. In addition to the Academy Award nomination, the Phantom Thread soundtrack is up for a BAFTA and was nominated for a Golden Globe. Its many other accolades to date include Best Score prizes from film critics’ associations in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, and St. Louis.;
The composer spoke to Variety about the process of creating a score that reflected the film’s romance and glamour: “We talked a lot about ’50s music, what was popularly heard then as well as what was being written and recorded. Nelson Riddle and Glenn Gould’s Bach recordings were the main references. I was interested in the kind of jazz records that toyed with incorporating big string sections; Ben Webster made some good ones.” Greenwood continues, “The smaller groups, and solo players, work like close-ups [and] not necessarily to accompany [a] visual, but rather, to focus your attention on and make you feel directly engaged with the characters. The bigger orchestral things often worked best for drawing you back to see the bigger situation.”
Anderson and Greenwood’s previous collaborations include the soundtrack for Academy Award–winning There Will Be Blood (2007), The Master (2012), and Inherent Vice (2014), all released by Nonesuch. Indiewire says of their collaboration: “Paul Thomas Anderson fans are well accustomed to how instrumental Jonny Greenwood’s music is to the auteur’s body of work. Whether it’s the foreboding strings in There Will Be Blood or the discordant percussion in The Master, Greenwood’s original scores expertly capture Anderson’s tones. This fact is especially true in Phantom Thread, which marks the fourth collaboration between Anderson and Greenwood.”
Matthew Herbert shapes his unique instrumental palette to a brooding, autumnal play of orchestral and electronic tones matching the mood of ‘A Fantastic Woman’
“A Fantastic Woman is a 2017 Chilean drama film directed by Sebastián Lelio (Gloria). It was selected to compete for the Golden Bear in the main competition section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival and It has been selected as the Chilean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, making the December shortlist.
The acclaimed drama tells the story of Marina (Daniela Vega), a young transgender waitress who moonlights as a nightclub singer, falls in love with Orlando (Francisco Reyes), a divorced man who is a few decades older. As they plan for their future together, Orlando suddenly falls ill and dies.
Marina is forced to confront his ex-wife, who doesn’t want anything to do with Marina and asks her not to come to the funeral. Over the next few days, as Marina tries to get things in order, she has to endure insults and slurs from the police and Orlando’s family members.
Electronic music legend, Matthew Herbert (Herbert, Matthew Herbert Big Band, Dr Rockit…) brings his unique talent and has crafted a wonderful score which mixes classical orchestral elements with more electronic compositions.”
Susanna Wallumrød commits her fourth full suite of cover versions with Go Dig My Grave for her home-baked label.
Working again with Giovanna Pessi, who assisted on her first set If Grief Could Wait, as well as invaluable input from longtime partner/production spar Helge Sten (Deathprod), Susanna demonstrates a rare versatility with singular takes on songs by everyone from Henry Purcell to Joy Division and Lou Reed (including a bonus on CD not found on the vinyl), and with particularly spellbinding results in the latter two of those names.
If we try to pick out why we’re more attracted to the ‘pop’ songs, as opposed to the traditionals such as The Three Ravens or The Willow Song, that may come down to the fact their simplicity seems almost overbearing when rendered in such high-fidelity - almost like receiving a folk performance in a white cube gallery or sterile space, as opposed a barn or pub backroom - yet, conversely, the recordings of Joy Division’s Wilderness and Lou Reed’s Perfect Day become devastating thru their clarity of their conveyance, aided in no small part by feral fiddles and accordion in the former, and embroidered with kalimba and fiddle on the latter.
So yeh, some work, some don’t. But when they do, christ, she’s good.
Incredible collection of mid-late 80’s experimental works from the hugely influential Italian avant-garde composer Luigi Nono, including works for contrabass flute, clarinet, treated voices, strings and electronics.
Editions RZ present a necessary reissue of their 1990 LP release, now backed with three legendary recordings, 'La Terra E La Compagna', 'Caminantes', 'No Hay Caminos, Hay Que Caminar'. Collected, they form a great access point to Luigi Nono's unique, carefully realised, yet unfathomably vast world, one equally informed by avant-garde musical studies and his commitment to socialism.
In the best possible sense, it's very difficult to accurately sum up the sounds inside, other than in terms of a visceral, haptic approach and stunning spatial awareness. Highly recommended.
Without question, some of the most beautiful Quiet music you'll likely ever hear, compiled in a 4 hour-long triple disc set.
'Fremde Zeit - Addendum' collects five pieces of engrossingly etheric, liminal composition by Jakob Ullmann (1958), the widely acknowledged master of quiet music and cover star of The Wire magazine.
For us, as we'd imagine many others, this is a striking first introduction to the devoted German minimalist's very particular body of work. Comprising 4 hours of barely-there strings, percussions, wind instruments and voices prefaced by the instruction "Please choose, for each piece, the volume settings of your sound system so as to just barely mask the ambient sounds in the room", this is music made for concentrated listening, recorded and specifically designed to give listeners "the opportunity to hear more, and better" by the simple but essential notion that "We hear better because we make an effort to hear better."
With this is mind, we're invited into a sound world which actively, yet effortlessly and sublimely challenges our perceptions of space and time with a compelling, transcendent effect akin to that of listening to music by, say, Eliane Radigue or Morton Feldman, yet with an alien, detached appeal entirely its own. Due to their extended durations - no piece is shorter than 34 mins, and over an hour at the longest - we form temporal impressions which blur the boundaries between our immediate space and the apparent vastness of the recording, teasing our sixth sense to wander on a knife edge of trepidation and somnolence.
Yet, musically, it covers a far more subtle spectrum of emotions and cabalistic atmospheres casting metaphoric allusions to "…antiquity, to the Middle Ages, to the Baroque, to the 20th Century and to the present" by means of its extreme dilation of space/time and anticipation, and relegation of distortion or any untempered gestures.
Once you've heard this music it should come as little surprise Ullmann studied sacred music in Dresden from 1979-1982 - his music could be the lingering resonance of an Arvo Pärt piece played in a huge cathedral, and it carries the weight of history - spanning over 18 years of work, the results are duly, deeply considered.
A revelatory package, whose impact will surely emerge and manifest as slowly, yet powerfully, as the music itself.
This is one of the few instances of Korean Classical Court music that we’ve stocked, and every time it stops us in our tracks. To our native western sensibilities the music is captivatingly slow and dissonant, and with a measured, stately quality of its own. These recordings of compositions made in the 15th century are totally fascinating, maybe an acquired taste, but arresting any way you hear them.
"Yŏmillak is the most extended piece of orchestral court music surviving in Korea and it has for many centuries been used for royal processions and at banquets. Yŏmillak is the piece notated in the oldest surviving Korean score - a score contained in the Annals of Sejong, written in 1454.
The piece originally consisted of ten movements, but three were discarded over time, leaving just the seven movements heard here, and different variants evolved, distinguished in terms of orchestration and size; two of the later (19th century) versions, Kyŏngnokmugang Chigok and T'aep Yŏngch'un Chigok are contained here. The final piece, Sŏilhwa Chigok, is an additional orchestral suite."
"We would like to point out that this piece is extremely quiet. Please choose the volume setting of your sound system so as to just barely mask the ambient sounds of the room"
Jakob Ullmann: "voice, books and FIRE is the result of my reflections about the relationship between music and language: language as sound and language as text, the numerous relationships between texts of different cultural and religious traditions, between the work of the human spirit in the present and in the past and the questions arising from the problem of understanding these different traditions, languages and texts and representing them in a present, which has lost knowledge about substantial parts, even of its own tradition and history."
In Jakob Ullmann's 2nd release through Editions RZ, solemn, practically whispered incantations and creaking extended vocal technique of eight singers play in half-lit, wide open mid-air against the phosphorescing resonance of viola, violoncello, saxophone and flute. Recorded 1st July, in the Abteikirche Neresheim. Recommended