Emboss Star is the new album by Kochi-born, Kyoto-based artist Kazumichi Komatsu, the first to be released under his own name following a prolific run of material as Madegg.
"Informed by a range of earlier work including EPs, installation works, video works, as well as live appearances at fashion shows, parties & raves, the material collected on 'Emboss Star' has been prepared and refined over the past four years, its final collation described as like arranging the pieces on a chess board; every piece strategically placed.
In its entirety Emboss Star is intended to emphasize the fundamental aspects of sound, and its relation to the material processes of playback; the grain of a rough recording, the jump and skip of a needle, the backwards gargle of a rewind. Individual parts shift suddenly, mirroring the abrupt transitions of everyday life. In this Komatsu attempts to reconfigure our response to sound, and the associations it often evokes; to reconsider the exchange of information and image, to alter perceptions.
Inviting a state of subconscious reverie – a mood often linked with ambient music but rarely matched as it is here – Komatsu adds an element of resistance to Emboss Star, as if depicting the tranquility of a dream, as well as its inevitable disturbance. With creativity now compressed into a form of contemporary communication often ruled by vanity, redundant hashtags and tiresome jargon, Komatsu navigates the noise, recognizing technological ennui yet finding beauty, folklore & imaginative possibility."
Six years since their lauded PAN debut, Max D's freeform chromo funk outfit tweak two colourful jams for their spiritual home, Washington D.C.’s Future Times
Arriving in reverse order after parts 3.2 & 3.3, the trio’s 3.1 locates them in deliciously restive action, commanding swirling jazz-funk chops and subtle use of computer processing at the service of a breezily utopian dancefloor pressure. The results are detectably less angular, more smudged than their first outing (which benefitted from Beatrice Dillon’s input), projecting a sweetly distorted sort of club dream space that feels live with fractal geometry and hyper coloured avian plumage.
‘Born In The Roof’ gives a broad, unravelling 11 minute canvas which they proceed to scrawl with aerosolised synth spray and splayed 2-step rhythms, stepping off, to our ears, somewhere between the Afro-Futurism of Phloston Paradigm and the unfurling Afrobeat groove structures of Fela, et al. Their ‘Cymbecko Dub’ meanwhile sees them contract to a concise 3 min time frame, which they spend shredding metallic tones and spongiform subbass bumps recalling Metal Preyers abstractions.
Daniel Martin-McCormick, formerly Ital, now Relaxer, returns to Planet Mu with his new album 'Concealer'.
"The album drifts towards hyper digital sounds and marks Daniel’s return to using a computer with hardware. Combining the ultra-artifice of the digital and its glossy, pure surface qualities, Daniel comments that it “gives the sounds this sickly, shiny dimensionality which is un-human. This decoupling from the human-ness of sound means the sounds can speak in their own special way. Of course, all sounds can speak in their way, but a vivid, digital, melty synth speaks in a way that feels more autonomous, or less tied to historical/encultured musical gestures. It hovers in the air and melts and glides. It's a little gross.”
His return to Planet Mu has been long overdue. the new record is an expansion and development of the ultra-artificial, hybrid digital contortions of his previous material. Welcome back."
Lawrence English teams up with Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart once again for another voyage into ambient music's punishing underworld. It’s their gloomiest slab to date - unfurling nightmarish Lynchian drones and seismic, overdriven rumbles that sound like a Thomas Köner and Wolf Eyes soundtrack to Dante's Inferno.
If the gaseous, clouded noise of 'Material Interstices' sounds as if it could be snatched from one of David Lynch's most unsettling dream sequences, we have to assume that's completely intentional. The inspiration for the album came from two of English's recurring dreams, one of which had recently re-emerged. When English chatted to Stewart about it - a labyrinthine subterranean horrorscape of concrete and iron underneath his house - Stewart related to having unusual sleep patterns. So the music emerged from this midnight realm, and illustrates English's Tetsuo-inspired industrial fantasy in grim detail.
Those expecting the beauty and charm of English's lighter material might be in for a shock. This is vantablack level darkness, inspired by 1980s industrial tape music, blurry noise and the darkest of dark ambient records. Think the bleakest end of Dean Hurley, Maurizio Bianchi, Lustmord or The Haxan Cloak, but assembled to trigger near hypnagogic states. There's an intentionality about "Material Interstices" that feels knotted to its nocturnal inspiration - English and Stewart simultaneously invoke nostalgia, dread and wonder, recalling industrial music's rich legacy but suggesting its future might not be entirely written just yet.
Compelling textural electronic experimentation in long form from Californian operative Robert Takahashi Crouch, who considers the relationship between abstract sound and personal resonance on "Jubilee", fizzing from luscious filigree drone to dense, crushing tonal destruction. RIYL Lawrence English, Tim Hecker or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma.
'Jubilee' is a major release for Crouch, arriving four years after his last full-length, the Touch-released 'Sublunar'. He admits in a soul-baring artist statement that it took him an unusually long time to complete; the recording evolved at a time when he was re-assessing his priorities.
So often, loud sound - from metal and noise to so-called power ambient - is used as a way of expressing frustration, or worse, repression. But Crouch uses his shifting dynamics to instead represent pain, anxiety, trauma and transgression. These feelings come from a similar place, but he treats them with sensitivity and bounded distance as he melts from liquid bass drones and glassy electronics in 'A Ritual I' to tectonic-shifting overdriven fuzz in the second part, before shifting into pensive, circling tones on the final act. 'I've been a part of evil doing' provides a breather between the album's two sides, evoking Steve Reich or Philip Glass, before Crouch shifts into more emotional territory for the two part 'Reconciliation'. Here, he hits a more jubilant tone - closer to My Bloody Valentine's noisy stompbox grind, or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's romantic laptop crunch - and reaches into a ghostly, peaceful shimmer before fading into the aether.
Crouch has found a musical way to process world-defining emotions and experiences, and it shows. Maybe it's not just abstract sound, after all.
First album in five years from Luke Slater’s Planetary Assault Systems, mainlining pure techno in the classic vein of Jeff Mills, Terrence Dixon, Steve Bicknell
Proper tackle built for all night sessions, loaded with hard working highlights in the effortless, pounding drive and glyde of ‘Bang Wap’, the palpitating Chi-style toms of ‘Say It Loud’, the funked up shuffle of ‘If I Die’, and the pulsating throbber ‘The Drag Train’, plus spacier cakes for the cosmic crew in ‘Nano Chameleon’ and ‘Abstract.’
"A figure who needs little introduction to fans of the genre, but whose consistency in the studio and on the road has repeatedly marked him out as true pioneer of sound design and performance with a singular vision, Slater first minted the PAS alias in '93. Since then, a slew of singles and LP's from the industrious artist have made sure Planetary Assault Systems has become a byword for hypnotic, funk-heavy Techno in a purist tradition. Toeing the line between heady, psychedelic material and all out main room fare - Slater's work as PAS captures the very best facets of the genre, with economically selected parts exquisitely arranged and engineered with a shrewd and uncompromising ear for what really makes people move.
On the new LP, Slater draws on studio material but also components recorded during the PAS live show - and he's keen to let fans know the focus is well and truly on the dance floor with this one: Sky Scraping is a loud and unabashed celebration of the formative and familiar environments so loved by the electronic music community, the dark clubs and festivals made special by their unique ability to bring like minded people together.
Sky Scraping kicks off in characteristically dense, psychedelic fashion with Labstract - a slice of classic PAS with cavernous low end and a tight, looping sequence doing the driving work while frenetic drum machine cuts and wide angle synth sirens shift the track onwards from one phase to the next. Follow up One For The Groove showcases the chunkier side of Slater's production as PAS with an infectious 909 pattern propelled on in the high mids by a squelching synth patch. Bang Wap revisits the artist's last outing on Token - a monstrous, unforgiving roller designed with peak time in mind. Say It Loud - the idiosyncratic proto-anthem that accompanied Bang Wap earlier in the year leads the LP onwards, before sequing into new recording Give In - a masterclass in dense, funky, face-melting Techno. Drums take centre stage on If I Die, as the artist returns to the 909 for a marginally slowed down cut that really highlights the artist's connection to and natural affinity with groove and drum machine cuts. Coal thrusts the listener straight back down the wormhole - an extraordinary, driving piece propelled by a guttural lead synth sequence and ghostly drums, before giving way to Run - a dry, pared back recording with plucked, staccato synths that makes for a good contrast to its fathoms deep predecessor. Though not without moments of hysteria in its closing quarter, The Drag Train, featuring a classic, more mono finish begins the wind down towards the LP's close. Nano Chameleon ties up Sky Scraping, a track as forceful as anything that has come earlier on the record - as it approaches its close, a warping lead powers the recording home with shuffling white noise percussion dipping in and out of the sonic main stage before giving way to a delicate, controlled chaos."
Crucial drop of clockworked-hipped Kwaito from South Africa, 2005-06, scanning the playful precedent of Gqom over seven goodies out of Pretoria.
Perhaps best known to ravers outside SA for classics from DJ Mujava and DJ Cndo, Kwaito was the region’s dominant dance sound during the mid-late ’00s, and paralleled or even predated to some extents UKF up our way. ‘Drums of Pitori’ is a mesmerising survey of works by Machance and his spar DJ Abbas, who passed away in 2008. PSSNGR and Promesses jointly provide the first official international dispatch of their work, shelling seven proper heaters peppered with Machance’s call-and-response vocals charmingly time-stamped to that era with the likes of ’Nokia’ making use of ringtones on a wicked blend of minor key motifs and that signature martial machine drive.
For the DJs and dancers, this lot are low-key must checks. ‘He Kheya Ndon’ comes on a crisp, bubbling sort of ‘90s house flex with ohrwurming vocal stabs, and we're really partial to the gasping samples and splashy drums of ‘Kuku’, while the choral stabs and rolling snares of ‘Ledombolo’ can’t help but call to mind Belgian new beat to our lugs, and who can deny the similarities between ‘Thula Mazenke’ or ‘Mahwafa’ and UKF bangers from Mario, Scotti Dee or DVA - Just add garage subs?
First reissue of sought-after South African kwaito and soul pearls by Lucky Mereki, originally released on Accord Music back in 1991and hailing a period of hope and healing in the country at the start of the ‘90s.
Dusted down for release and remastered via London/Berlin’s Warm events/record label, ‘You Got Me Dancing’ it mercifully made available to those can’t spank the £200+ on a 2nd hand edition. Its eight songs and tracks land in the gap between ‘80s styles and the emergence of Kwaito, proper, speaking to the melange of vibes emerging from SA townships during that era, and clearly resonating with contemporaneous styles from US and UK - form Colonel Abrams’ electrosoul to swanging R&B and bustling hip house a la Fast Eddie and Tyree.
There’s flavours for all ravers and points of the night, with a big hitter in the freestyle/hip house inflections of ‘You Got Me Dancing’ and the romantic pull of ‘For Your Love’, replete with superb male/female call and response vox, and no doubt the slick elision of synth-pop and electrosoul styles in ‘Action’, all cut for the club. But he does not slack on the downstroke either, with total charms strewn between the swaying groove and harmonised vox of ‘You And I’, the coy introspection of ‘Lovely Sight’ and a pendulous slow jam ballad ‘We Are One’.
Legendary balearic disco and house player DJ Harvey adjusts the temperature on his 3rd volume of peachy picks for Ibiza’s Pikes
Named after his residency at the seminal Ibizan hotel, ‘The Sound Of Mercury Rising Vol. III’ packs 16 prime, and as yet (at time of writing) undisclosed, cuts of glistening yacht boogie, star-eyed house, debonaire boogie disco and blissed out downstrokes. We’ll be honest, we can only ID Twice of Love’s sexy New Beat ace ’24 Hours From Culture’, but we’d love to know what that 10 minute closer is. Trust it’s all bound to get you unbuttoned and feeling dead glam. Add your own pool and cocktail bar for best effect.
Hodge, Laurel Halo, object blue, Azu Tiwaline, AQXDM and Mogwai gang up on remixes of Scalping’s acid rawk sound.
Hodge gives a shoulder barging overhaul of ‘Monolithium’ reset with cloven hoofed kicks, and Laurel Halo reshapes ‘Deadlock’ as a sort of electro-acid power move shades away from Jasss workouts. object blue comes off bolshier than usual with the big beaty drum gait of her ace take on ‘Perimeter’, Azu Tiwaline’s locks into a tunnelling techno torque in a driving spin on ‘Empty Cascade’, while AXQDM can be relied upon for a gnashing bout of ‘90s industrial cyber-breaks and busy arps that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Matrix soundtrack, while Mogwai best connect with the post rock and cinematic urges of Scalping’s original sound in the grinding, brooding developments of their ‘Cloudburst’ remix.
Lambchop & Silver Jews’ guitarist William Tyler scans haunting, deserted drone and post-country panoramas, with strong hints of The Caretaker, Barn Owl and William Fowler Collins, on a fine addition to the Longform Editions series
‘Frozen Shelter’ marks possibly the furthest extent of William Tyler’s solo explorations since going solo around a decade ago. Faintest traces of his background in alt.country and indie bands Lambchop and Silver Jews (and a family dynasty of country song-writers) inform proceedings from a distance, as the 40’ work opens out endlessly reverberating strings and electronics and their decaying afterimages that describe wide, open, nocturnal spaces with rich impressionistic appeal, like hearing an organ recital from a wooden church a mile away over a dusty prairie.
Rome’s keenly observed Superpang label hand over to Martina Lussi & Tim Shaw for a super quiet report from the field
Swiss sound artist Martina Lussi, admired for her Selected Ambient’ side with Hallow Ground, meets Newcastle-based multimedia artist Tim Shaw at the threshold of perception on ‘FieldRecorder01’.
For over 20 minutes, they immerse listeners in a liminal world of aleatoric location recordings that never give away their source. We’re not sure if those are trees in the wind, someone scraping ice off a windscreen in the distance, or ants doing calligraphy, but either way it’s a mystery for the ears that’s bound to entice closer listening.
Pale Saints' Ian Masters and His Name Is Alive's Warren Defever join forces to deconstruct The 13th Floor Elevators' psych classic 'Kingdom of Heaven' and project themselves into a wild, creative musical netherworld split across four tracks. Seriously damaged.
"Kingdom of Heaven" was originally released as a limited lathe cut in Japan, but has thankfully now been opened up to the rest of us. The concept is simple, Master and Defever use the 1966-released 'Kingdom of Heaven' as the springboard for a project that, basically, disintegrates the psychedelic classic into sprawling, hydra-like entities.
Opening track 'Tengoku no ōkoku' is the most expected take and burns with the pulsing dream-pop energy you'd expect from two former 4AD heads, but from there things get a little more murky. 'Kumamushi' veers away completely from the original, layering guitar licks and loops over elegiac vocals before melting into analogue drones and ghostly vocal traces. If the original track was an expression of the band's interest in LSD, this track makes that link painfully obvious.
'Taishōgoto o ōkoku' strips things back to the raw materials, with just guitar and vocals, but it's 15-minute closer 'Uchu' that's the real draw. Glued together with flute sounds, canned vocals and early electronic burbles, before evolving into pastoral synth ambience, it almost sounds like Flying Saucer Attack jamming with Sunburned Hand of the Man. Torched.
Moor Mother, Rabih Beaini, Tim Hecker, Lucretia Dalt, Greg Fox and many more guest on a haunting tribute to the tragedies that have beset Beirut, Lebanon and are ongoing across Palestine and the Levant.
‘Qalaq’ translates roughly from Arabic to “deep worry” in english and signifies Jerusalem In My Heart’s motives on their first album since 2018. Flocking around sole member Radwan Moumneh, a stellar roll call aid in expressing his sound on a lamenting elegy to the geopolitics and tragedies of the middle east, with each artist’s style seamlessly absorbed into his “dismantled orchestra” of collaborations with coherent results guided by a narrative hand.
The album started as skeletal sketches through-composed by Moumneh, and subsequently divided into sections that were sent to his spars, whose decomposed, fractured iterations were rewoven back into the final body of work by the artist. Its first half is sparked off with the rupturous battery of Liturgy drummer Greg Fox, and tempered by JIMH’s haunting chorales and fine wrought buzuk that percolate across the side, meeting Beirut’s shimmering strings in ‘Istashraktak’, and harmonising with Lucretia Dalt on the dirge-like ‘Tanto’.
Side two’s tracks are all named ‘Qalaq’ and numbered to “represent the degrees of layered and complex violence that Lebanon and the Levant have reached in the last couple of years” as Moumneh states. They forge links with other displaced people via indigenous American signer Alanis Obomsawin on the folk lament ‘Qalaq 1’, and Afro-American jazz-punk poet Moor Mother in ‘Qalaq 3’, with Morphine’s Lebanon-born Rabih Beaini lending a cosmic resonance and gravitas to the buzuk study ‘Qalaq 4’, and Tim Hecker’s aetheric swirl found on ‘Qalaq 7’, before Beirut natives Raed Yassin, Sharif Sehnaoui and Mayss’s glitching voices and angular strings connote a clear sense of confusion and disruption.
After really snagging our attention with the electro-acoustic sorcery of ’Freedom’, Yvette Janine Jackson supplies a stunning 2nd release; an utterly absorbing 20 mins of avant sci-fi noir jazz soundtrack scaping for Longform Editions
Occupying her own slipstream of consciousness, Jackson doubles what we know of her music with ‘Test Flight No. 1’, offering an equally inventive but far more elusive angle that encompasses streaking cinematic synths, treacly subbass and sax in properly beguiling style. Again, her work here is rooted in her practice as theatrical sound designer, and her fascination with the fantastical radio plays of the ‘30s, and uses these relatively anachronistic reference points in the uncanniest ways that finely reprise a sense of mystery and immersive appeal specific to them, but in a personalised, timeless manner.
Lodging to these ears somewhere between Chris Marker’s soundtrack to ‘La Jetée’, elements of Louis & Bebe Barron’s ‘Forbidden Planet’, the enigma of Teresa Winter’s hardest-to-place works, or even Nate Young’s ‘Regression’ sessions; the 20’ piece unfurls like a febrile dream with a mind-bending sense of hypnagogia, feeling as though we’re melded into a moebius tape loop smeared with sax and synth gunk that gradually, haphazardly slackens and warps under its its own strange pressure systems. It’s somehow enervated yet full of intrigue, organic but alien, and just properly trippy in the best way.
Inspired by photos of moody skies, Matthew Sage, Patrick Shiroishi, Chaz Prymek, and Chris Jusell’s remote quartet, Fuubutsushi unfurl 25’ of enchanted late summer dream-scaping
Formed during the onset of the pandemic, Fuubutsushi missed a CDr to cult acclaim in late summer 2020, and follow-up with ‘Good Sky Day’, where they transmute cues from band member Chaz’s photos in the group chat, into a quietly ribboning sequence of extended, intricate melody and harmonious drones. From respective bases in Arizona, California, Illinois and Missouri, the project came about via mails, with Chris Jussell taking the lead to sketch out the pieces’s narrative structure, and the others helping colour in the spaces with a rich palette of oils and earthy textured instrumentation.
They spend the first 20 minutes describing an oneiric landscape of rolling, pastoral scenes interwoven with lyrically melodic rivulets of violin and shimmering percussion, until more pronounced electronics gloam over, joined by wistful sax, and surprisingly, a lonely vocal denouement that really brings it all together, and promptly exits stage left to leave us with the elements. It should be noted that their band name, Fuubutsushi is also used as title for their first CDr as a quartet, which would surely be a good place to go next if you feel their appeal.
Composer for film and media, Matthew Liam Nicholson touches on the sublime with his 9-part, playthru piece for the ace Longform Editions series
Hailing from Australia, but based in the mountains of northern California, Nicholson’s music perhaps can’t help but reflect a widescreen sensibility that comes form life in big country. Accompanied by LA’s spiritual jazz se’er Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, he commands a lush panorama in ‘Nine Movements’ that sweeps from floating field recordings to dawning strings and duskier sensations across its languorous narrative arc.
Gorgeous outsider/intimate parlour music - one of our most played/referenced/loved records of all time - an introduction to the wonderfully moving and expressive music of Belgium’s Dominique Lawalree who sadly passed away in 2019. He’d been recording since 1976, almost appeared on Brian Eno’s short-lived Obscure label and counts Gavin Bryars a long time friend and fan of his music, so consider this first-ever retrospective of his recordings an essential primer.
Entirely drawn from self-released titles recorded between 1978-1982 on Lawalree’s Brussels-based Editions Walrus (what a name?!), First Meeting reveals a quietly sublime and intimately idiosyncratic sound in nine parts - so quiet and intimate in fact that we feel like a privileged fly on the high ceiling of his apartment studio, twitching our antenna whilst the baby-faced maestro sups an Orval and strokes his keys and synths into thee sweetest tapestries.
In the enlightening liner notes by Britton Powell, Lawalree’s music is perfectly described as “wallpaper; ornate and repetitive” when compared with the music of Satie and Eno, with whom he clearly shares an affinity for subtle and meditative musicality, but the distinction lies in the inherent surreality of his music and its ability to entice and encourage closer listening, quite the opposite of background, Ambient music.
There’s a beautiful nuance of consonance to his music that tantalises the ear with its warbling harmonic complexity and elegant pacing, yet it’s never challenging; conveyed with an honesty that points to his equal appreciation of Satie, Feldman and Stockhausen as much as The Beatles or Led Zeppelin, the latter of whom Lawalrée analysed for a book of second-by-second analysis, culminating in a meeting with The Beatles’ engineer, Geoff Emerick, to whom he pointed out mistakes in the classic recordings which nobody else has ever noticed.
Ahh, this record is just a dream.
Utterly unmissable first ever reissue of SND’s god-tier triple pack, cruelly out of print since 2008, now finally available to discerning dancers/DJs - packing a pinnacle of avant-dance beat science certain to connect with fans of garage, UKF, footwork and experimental techno. If yr into owt from Beatrice Dillon to Timbaland, Ryoji Ikeda to El-B, Autechre to The Neptunes - this is a must have... and an education.
A peerless masterclass in nanoscopic funk editing, ‘4,5,6’ has never been bettered in our books. It originally arrived as a limited pressing of 300 x 3LPs in 2008 but has been sorely notable by its lack of availability ever since, often leading us to offer wild handed descriptions to bewildered mates, who, even if they looked for 2nd hand copies, would still be stumped as nobody in their right mind is selling a set. However that is all corrected with this new edition, representing one of the most crucial reissues of the decade and an unmissable opportunity to revel in some of Mark Fell and Mat Steel’s finest work, bar none.
When it landed in 2008, a decade after SND’s seminal early trio of self-releases, ‘4,5,6’ frankly took our heads off. It marked a leap in form from their self explanatory ‘Tender Love’ LP of 2002 with a return to their early EPs’ avant club focus, but drawing on processes and tekkers they had sharply refined over the interim. Aspects of the deep house, garage and computer music that originally inspired them are rendered inside out, revealing and recalibrating their mechanics in something like an iridescent Haynes manual one could dance to, or simply marvel at if the legs weren’t willing.
It stood out a mile from the rote minimal techno and dubstep of the time, which had started moving in the “future garage” direction by 2008, and effectively gave the sharpest side-eye to that sound, innovating-not-imitating in order to update and galvanise the original ‘90s forms with visionary mix of pointillist and mercurial flex. But, no mistake, for all its radical restructuring of garage and related styles, the results aren’t intended for chin stroking: they’re a direct, physically urgent extension of Mark and Mat’s deeeep love of dance and electronic music, itself rooted in original synth-pop/industrial and the first wave of US deep house/garage/techno that took their generation, and cities such as Sheffield, by the balls.
In 2021, the ten tracks of ‘4,5,6’ are effectively (give or take) equidistant from the original wave and now, and uncannily stand futureproofed by their vacuum-sealed reductionism and metallic lustre. However in many cases they’re still too much for DJs who all too often patronise their crowds with predictable pap. But if you’re a rare one, the likes of ‘C1’ are utterly primed to get fader chopped with early Roska riddims, and ‘E1’ is waiting to be threaded with Autechre and El-B’s most advanced funk, while the rest offers myriad options for interpretation at the craftiest hands. Basically, if you don’t already know this stuff; no excuses.
Charmingly crooked and fizzing dub offbeats from Dominic Cramp’s Lord Tang, teamed with ace remixes by Zonedog (aka Disrupt) and Weird Dust
Picking up where Lord Tang’s ‘Butterflies’ left us on Meakusma in 2016, the San Franciscan artist reprises a finely grungy style of dub wreckage on three skudgy, wayward new cuts full of groggy electronics and noise gristle.
Gasping drum machine rhythms underlay disturbed surface textures of sloshing bleeps and gaseous emissions on the originals, tilting from the slow he submerged one called ‘Stamps’, all landing somewhere between Lee Scratch Perry’s earliest drum machine track ‘Chim Cherie’ and the rugged up styles of BAT.
On remix duties, Jan Gleichmar (Disrupt) trades under the Zonedog alias for the first time - it was previously a label name - with a superbly spongiform and psychedelic ‘Dolbytape’ rendering of ‘Mountains..’ beside the tinfoil drum machine patter of Weird Dust’s ‘Clipped Mix’ of ‘Clip Clop’ recalling early Pole and Bellows.
Regina and Günther Janssen write two "songs of resilience in a world that feels invincible, but was struck to heart by a virus", straddling gloomy electro and Medieval European court music.
While we might all be getting a little tired of the Corona jams narrative, it's a reality it would be disingenuous to ignore. Enduring German duo Donna Regina tackle it head-on with their new single, exploring modernity, cityscapes and history in a typically obtuse-but-lovely way.
'Welt in einer Stadt' illustrates loneliness and solitude as a tin can beat accompanies Regina Janssen's instantly recognisable vocals and Günther's fairytale, musicbox keys. 'Ich sehe den Blumen beim Sterben zu' is weirder still, with harpsichord and accordion sounds peering into German history as it reflects on our present reality. If you've ever heard a Donna Regina record, you probably love them as much as we do - feels like a bit of a thrill that they're still around.
Fossil fuelled EBM power trak from Buenos Aires label, VTC, following from their string of new beat zingers
Ducasse is in the driving seat for a no-mercy round of galloping bass drum and strapping arps tightly bound for peaktime play in your nearest kink club or MOT garage turned rave.
Still House Plants’ Finlay Clark and Vera Karlsson aka hunterc44t debut a probing, roving sound with their first collaborations, meshing free metered drum machine pulses and sheer textured ‘tronics in gyring drone and noise space, with a psychedelic, avant-jazz-wise appeal
“The first release from collaborators hunterc44t (Vera Karlsson) and Finlay Clark (Still House Plants), Dana Rosa melds together asmeared and multi-directional cauldron of soulful drone, whispers of the heart, ear-splitting bedroom-angst, meandering electronics and playful percussive textures made by dragging the mic around the studio.
It was a shared studio in south London. The glass ceiling drank in the sunlight and held its heavy pregnant body suspended, buoyant, in the air. There were gaps in the broken bricks and glass that
allowed a corporeal torrent of dried, anfractuous brambles and ivy to dominate the airspace like blind aliens. Birds fed their young in the nest situated amongst the drill bits. The young were soon starved to death by the occupant cuckoo that also hatched there. The coffee was so strong that it seemed to push the sweat out and the heavy air held my hand like a lost child looking for someone, anyone, in this tired and incessant oblivion.”
Purest ambient house lushness from Belgium, 1992 resurfacing on Young Marco’s label for maximum body gurn effect
After the main course of Trans-4M’s ’Sublunar Oracles’ album (and the ‘Arrival / Amma’ 12”), comes the remix dessert of ’Sublunar Oracles Remixes’, where the Antwerp siblings Dimitri & Stefan van Elsen rework their own tracks with a infectious deep house/garage flex and padded ambient touch.
‘The two mixes of ‘Dencity’ are unmissable, offering the pendulous deep garage tuck and parry of their ‘Urban Tribe Mix’ (for disambiguation; not Sherard Ingram) and scalp-tingling ‘Club Mix’ reinforced with insistent breaks and pads to dead sexy effect, while the album’s balmy original appears in a woozier alternative mix.
The Manual Göttsching/Italian dream house worship of ‘Butterflies’ is however exclusive to the set, and bookends it with the rolling, saucer-eyed wonder of ‘Arrival’ Remix)’ and the levitating ambient techno of ‘Amma (Moon Mix).’
UNiiQU3's latest EP is an all killer no filler modern club marvel, packed with personality, bass and swing that'll remind you what was so great about Jersey club in the first place.
'Heartbeats' is an assured, coherent statement from UNiiQU3 that showcases her giddy mix of R&B and Jersey club and barely pauses for breath. There are no ambient interludes or skits, just high octane, memorable bangers that work as a calling card for UNiiQU3's breathless energy and personality. The throwback dance-pop bump of Livin' Joy-gone-Berghain lead single 'Microdosing' isn't even the EP's high point, it's just the icing on the cake.
'Shame on Me' draws us into UNiiQU3's world, with requisite bedsqueaks and kick rolls to shake us into action. Tight vocal chops nod to US speed garage, and UNiiQU3's engineering is as slick as hi-budget EDM, but she grounds each track with a rhythmic style she's sculpted playing parties around Jersey and across the world. She knows what works, and shifts into drive on 'Unavailable' with a vocal that's as euphoric and satisfying as Timbaland-era R&B but with a dancefloor drive that's chained to 2021.
On 'Drown', trappy percussion and East Coast rap horns to punctuate steamy vocal loops, and closing track 'What Chu Waiting For?' is an alternate universe pop smash - like The-Dream x Missy Elliott x DJ Sliink. Coherent longform club records are hard to find, and "Heartbeats" is as essential as they come. 💣
Another sunny, squashed hypercolor house deployment from 100% Silk, Glo Phase's tight "Early Moments" is easy to listen to but effortlessly funky - like early Nite Jewel, The Cyclist or a sun-bleached Anthony Naples.
'Early Moments' is an if-it-aint-broke moment for 100% Silk, who continue a solid release run with more ferric house bliss for Californian weather. If you're listening in Europe where August has been chillier than an LA Christmas, it might spike a little jealousy, but it'll subside by the time you reach 'Mercury's whimsical VHS leads and the latelybass slap of 'Where We Left Off'.
Glo Phase is Pittsburgh veteran Joseph Rusnak, who moved to Los Angeles and began letting the light into his productions. And with bright, frothy jammers like 'Cloud Dome' and the Chicago synth funk push of 'Low Shine', it's hard to moan. Even if it's raining.
Prolific Oakland DJ and producer Bored Lord debuts on Eris Drew and Octa Octa's T4T LUV NRG label with four grubby backroom construxions that remind of '90s 'ardkore without seeking to emulate it. Next gen shit that crumbles fuzzy rave and pop memories into surprising new forms.
If you've managed to miss Bored Lord until now, here's yer chance to remedy that. Her genre-challenging edits and productions have kept plenty of us enthralled over the last few years, and now she's set to break out even further with this brittle set of ready-made party starters. Where else would you hope to find chopped Gwen Stefani vocals crudely spread over timestretched breaks and orchestra hits like Nutella on a slice of toast? 'Cuz that's what we've got with half-time opener 'Everyday Together'.
'GNC NRG' bolts acid squiggles on disco hits arranging everything around a beat that's too tweaky to slip into straight 4/4. We hit a house groove on 'Women's Wisdom', but with a dissociated euphoria from looped, reverberating vocals and a kick/snare bounce that sounds as if it'll break apart at any moment. It's music that's birthed from the mind of an artist who's unafraid to play fast and loose with the formula - an experienced DJ, she produces as if she's crafting blends, and that sets her productions into a realm all of their own. Massive recommendation!
Steven Raekwon Reynolds is a singer/songwriter and producer from New York City by way of Buffalo, NY. 'Where I’m At Now' is self-produced and self-recorded (save for drums on two songs, driven by the relentlessness of the East Village and the quiet serenity of Edwardsville.
"The abstractions of his earlier musings transform into a warm wave of genreless coherence, drawing influences from across R&B, rock, folk, and pop to build a record that shines in its quiet spaces as much as its sweeping movements. Simply put, Where I’m at Now is an album where S. Raekwon is no longer invested in hiding. These records don’t contain answers, but signals toward what feels like the right direction. This music serves as a gentle, yet intentional reminder that we only need to be who we are in the moment, and we’re worth becoming who we know we can be."
Proper meat motor techno by the Greek producer in Ukraine, keeping pace with the scene for Ben Klock’s label
One for the stamina crew and dancers full of beans, this stuff is straight up energy music. ‘Stalker’ sets it off with tendon twang bass plucks that escalate and modulate the intensity, and ‘Profiler’ summoned the peacetime with throaty acid gurgle and spunky back slap kickdrum offset with noirish string motifs. ‘Wurlitzer Machinery’ dials in some Detroit class with shades of DJ Bone productions, and ’Sonica’ yokes it back to brute big room force with PAS-like finesse.
Dublin and Glasgow techno bods represent: Sunil Sharpe, Minos & Moving Still, TVO, and Fear-E rack up propulsive trax on the latest club snapshot from Semtek’s DBA
Tilting between veterans and relative newcomers, Semtek plucks out four hard working tools prepped with the classy production values we’ve come to expect from the label now in its 11th year of operations.
Dublin techno deity Sunil Sharpe rolls it off the bone with the swivelling stop-start drum patterns of ‘Godhead’ channelling Jeff Mills live chops and Dave Clark style dark drive, while relative noobs Minos & Moving Still keep it Dublin-side with the fast and deep big room slugger ‘One Word Techno Special.’
From Glasgow, TVO dispatches eight minutes of padded pound and chattery acidic synth spooj, culminating in a nastier coda, and that city’s Scott McKay aka Fear-E also draws on the Glasgow’s considerable techno heritage for the dank and dirty acid ballistics of ‘Moving Target.’
Russian-Armenian artist Aleksandra Evseeva aka Andra Ljos looks to Greek mythology for inspiration on her second solo album, combining organ riffs, temple bells, harp samples and flute sounds to create folky new-age ambience that materializes just outside the pineal gland.
Evseeva is an old hand at ambient music, having done her time as a member of St. Petersburg trio 2muchachos, alongside Vladimir Karpov (X.Y.R.). But 'Fountain of Inspiration' isn't exactly ambient; using just an organ and a sampler, Evseeva commands a sound that feels as mythical and gossamer draped as the waterlogged stories that inspired it.
She wanted it to sound "holy and harrowing", and uses samples of strings, sitar and percussion to flesh out her wobbly organ jams. The result is music that slots in-between the forest folk of Finnish label Fonal and the wyrd drones of US heroes Jewelled Antler, while also sitting comfortably alongside forgotten Euro exotica deployments from Belgium's ace STROOM imprint.
Faded early vaporwave style emissions from the peripheries of the US alterground
Now settled on the New Mexican Stargazers moniker after jaunts as c², Penthouse Suite and Reversed Reference, they work very much in a vein of Skaters-esque hypnagogia with ribboning leads and soggy drums in a pleasingly worn out lo-fi fashion. It’s one for the fantasy road trip, clunk-clicking and cruising past cliche roadside sights and signposting, but with a wry smirk and a wink in effect.
Another treasure trove from Death is Not the End, "Wounds of Love" collects 1960s slow rock, pop and R&B 7"s from Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. Super moving stuff, that digs deeper and more meticulously than similar sets from Sublime Frequencies et al.
This bumper set unearths music that's rarely heard on this side of the world. During the 1960s, Phnom Penh was flooded by music: rock and pop records from the UK and USA, and chanson and bolero 45s from France and Latin America. The result was these sounds being absorbed into the country's musical landscape, which until that time was mostly influenced by Hindu forms and classical dance.
"Wounds of Love" looks at the Phnom Penh scene before the widely-known garage rock boom of the late 1960s, and it's a revelation. These songs are slow and romantic, undoubtedly inspired by pop and rock trends but spiked with a unique Khmer element that sets them in their own dimension. Gorgeous stuff.
Nihiloxica's debut album 'Kaloli' gets torn to shreds and rebuilt inna club mode by Giant Swan, Spooky Shit's pq and Ekhe, Timedance's Metrist, Nihiloxica drummer Spooky-J and Manchester's BFTT.
The Anglo-Ugandan band were one of Nyege Nyege Tapes' flagship acts, and while their debut album ended up on Belgian label Crammed, it still aptly showcased their sound: a high-pressure fusion of production smarts and innovative, dense percussion. Now that sound has been broken apart by a particularly worthy gaggle of collaborators, who take a hammer and chisel to Nihiloxica's tracks and use the shattered pieces to assemble brand new shapes. Bristol's Giant Swan are the first to flex their skills, and true to form, they smash sampled vocals and sheet noise with over-the-top chopped drums, assembling a neck-snapping banger that's not exactly techno, but not exactly not techno either.
Nihiloxica producer pq teams up with his Spooky Shit cohort Ekhe to transform 'Black Kaveera' into a pacy nu-trance belter, and Nihiloxica's drummer Spooky-J highlights the drums with his "Drum Appreciation Edit" of 'Busoga'. But it's Metrist who's properly blown our tiny brains apart. His deconstruction of 'Gunjula' is among the most crucial club cuts we've heard in ages, lavishing Autechre-level sound design with a bracing, chest-bursting fwd-motion that sounds alien and intoxicating. We're not kidding, it sounds like someone decided to make club music after only hearing Florian Hecker's "Acid in the Style of David Tudor". If that's not enough, Manny's BFTT flexes his bass chops again on his molasses-slow mutant 'ardkore refix of 'Bwola'. Ace.
Tidy ultra-minimalism from Finnish composer Marja Ahti assembled from field recordings, analog synths, feedback, tape and digital processing. Bone dry, expertly-engineered electro-acoustic material that'll appeal to fans of Richard Chartier's LINE imprint or heady Touch sublabel Ash International.
'Still Lives' is the perfect title for this third solo album from Ahti, following two albums on the Hallow Ground label. There's a stillness here that feels accented by Ahti's careful processes, as if she's attempting to amplify motionless, empty atmospheres until they resonate. There's little forward motion and no rhythm, but Ahti focuses on microscopic detail, sketching out sonic spaces that feel disquieting and oddly visual.
Winding electrical drones heave and fade into silence, and gentle, intentional field recordings give us a ropeladder into the real world. Using the most minimal palette of sounds, the Swedish veteran experimental artist illustrates how intimate electronic music can be. That's a surprising, and incredibly rare talent.
Underground Portuguese/UK nodes, Niagara and Discrepant collate the star-eyed trio’s hard-to-find early works with a particular focus on their beat-less and shimmering cosmic electronic styles.
Forming a natural meeting of mutual spirits, Niagara’s charmingly hard-to-place meld of fizzing melodies and ancient-futurist hardware whims finds an ideal home amid Gonçalo F Cardoso’s roster of oddball adventurers. Unlike their drum-heavy outings with Príncipe and the band’s own label, Ascender, these endearingly off-the-cuff cuts chart more esoteric vectors thru 17 mostly short and vignette like works that showcase their allusively allegorical descriptive abilities, with wavey top lines that echo Drexciya as much as martian folk melodies, and a vaporous spaciousness that calls to mind Atlantic spray and foaming oceans.
Rhythm is still crucial to the set, but their percussion is less pronounced and more smudged into the texture of their recordings here, secreting chattering pulses beneath layers of gauzy synth work and field recordings on ‘Pombal’, and puckered up int he serpentine arps of ‘Esc8’, while the likes of ‘Mégane’ remind of Jamal Moss or Pekka Airaksinen’s jazz glyphs. At best they evoke the feel of a fireside bop on some isolated Atlantic beach with the breezy pads and rippling congas of ‘Espuma’ and the scuffed funk of ‘Mapas’, while the liquid noise of ‘Ponta Delgada’ could b the messy aftermath.
Canadian ten-piece synth troupe Ensemble D'Oscillateurs show off their skills on this meticulous re-interpretation of an excerpt of Pauline Oliveros's 1966 'Jar Piece' and five movements of Else Marie Pade's 1962 masterwork "Faust".
While the ensemble - founded in 2016 by Nicolas Bernier - focused on new compositions on their LINE debut, 2018's "4 compositions", "2 Transcriptions" is a more complicated process. Bernier was tasked with transcribing and interpreting Oliveros and Pade's pieces with help from Estelle Schorpp. The release comes bundled with a digital book that details the process and shows the scores (with additional text from digital preservation researcher Guillaume Boutard and acoustic researcher Caroline Traube), and may help curious synth fetishists employ similar techniques.
The music itself is quite remarkable in its recreation of the established works. Each musician uses old analogue oscillators which generate sine wave tones with two basic parameters: frequency and amplitude. These sounds are similar to those that Oliveros and Pade were employing in the 1960s, so come close to replicating the originals. But since these are new recordings, made with the benefit of contemporary technology, there's a dynamic depth that adds all-important space and precision to the sounds.
Best coast dancers 100% Silk grip Tokyo’s Soshi Takeda for a very Soichi Terada-styled dram of vintage sounding dream house
Previously spotted on the ‘2nd Life Silk’ compilation and a tape for Tokyo’s Dotei Records, Takeda specialises in the most sensuous strains of ‘90s deep house, as exemplified with the airy gems of ‘Floating Mountains.’ There’s a real poetry and adoration of deep house classicism at play here, drawing on the sultriest early NYC and Chicago house music, and the way they were sincerely adopted and adopted by Japanese producers such as Soichi Terada in the ‘90s, and sustained by the likes of Terre Thaemlitz over there in the modern day.
Listen up for hair kissing wonders in the breezing choral pads and congas of ‘Ancient Fish’, and gorgeous beatdown variants in ‘Hidden Wave’ and the trickling carillon melody of ‘Water Reverberation,’ plus a lip-smacking groover ‘Floating Mountains’ for the dance into dawn crew.
Originally released in 1996, "Sirkus" is an off-piste minimal tek belter from sorely missed Finnish maestro Mika Vainio. Completely blown-out kicks scraped up against arcade machine bursts and white noise >> broken and brilliant.
Tekonivel is one of Vainio's lesser-known aliases, but "Sirkus" shouldn't be overlooked. Chirpier than Panasonic's gritty, industrial skronk, this triptych is strictly 4/4 minimalism, engineered for the messiest post-midnight spirals. There aren't many elements, but each one - a breezeblock kick, white noise stab, squelchy monosynth - has been pushed into the red and sculpted to sound completely ruptured from reality.
It's music that makes more sense now maybe, with heightened global anxiety giving the shifting swung patterns and unsettling gurgles an extra sense of relevance. The three tracks aren't super different from each other, and play more like three distinct movements snipped from a long hardware session. But it's not the nature of each composition that's the draw here, it's Vainio's control of texture and expression as he manages to do so much with so little.In Vainio's hands, minimalism becomes a nightmare helix into dancefloor dematerialization.
Ben UFO drops picks out two unexpected club belters for Melodies Record Club's DJ-friendly reissue series and it's a doozy: Laurie Spiegel's modular percussive headmelter 'Drums' on one side, and the Knife's Olof Dreijer's 'Echoes From Mamori' on the flip - a track made out of arpeggios generated from bird and frog recordings.
Trust Ben UFO to stick his name on a dance 12" that's just about as far removed from the expected dancefloor throb as you can get. Laurie Spiegel's 'Drums' was originally featured on her paradigm-shifting 1980 classic "The Expanding Universe", but cleaved of context feels strangely contemporary in this dance setting. It's hardly a surprise that Ben featured it on his first BBC Essential Mix in 2013. The track has all his hallmarks: shifting rhythm, no obvious kick drum, an almost non-Euro feel but also rooted in kosmische music.
Olaf Dreijer's side is more tricky; the composition was recorded for a 2009 Adnan Yildiz exhibition entitled “THERE IS NO AUDIENCE”, and played on loop during the show. Dreijer clearly had fun with this one, and took recordings he'd made in the Amazon of frogs and birdsong from his home in Berlin, piping them into a sampler and letting it rip. The result is a strangely playable low-key house slow-burner that seems to evolve from the natural world like a dance party in remote forest. Over a decade after it was made, and considering the ubiquitousness of birdsong in contemporary electronic music, it's kinda hilarious and great.
Floatation tank biz from Samuel van Dijk aka Multicast Dynamics, who this time teams up with Finland-based producer Sid Hille. Recorded at Temppeliaukio church in Helsinki, 'Metamorphosis' is like a prayer to another universe >> RIYL Tangerine Dream, Emeralds, Air.
The world's hardly lacking bubbling cosmic synth music right now, but Dijk and Hille impress here. Split into two 25-minute sides, 'Metamorphosis' was assembled from a performance in 2019, which was then edited in the studio. Dijk handled the swirling synth textures and atmospheres, while Hille added keyboard and theremin, and although the sound is unashamedly retro, it's hard not to get absorbed.
The A side builds from almost silence, with reverberating scrapes and wobbles echoing into the church's far corners. But it's Hille's sublime electric piano work that tips it over the top - it's restrained and peaceful, like the more lifted sections of Air's "Moon Safari" stretched into gaseous ambience. Once the keyboard subsides, Dijk takes hold once more, sparking a mood not unlike Tangerine Dream's eerie early run.
The flip is even deeper and darker, but this time Hille uses a more traditional piano sound. Less effective than the first side, it eventually evolves into carnival rattles and quirky sfx, before closing on Emeralds-esque slabs of analogue bass.
Kevin Martin teams up with his long-term sound engineer Gorgonn and Brummie industrial shape-shifter Justin Broadrick for this brutalizing three-way split. You should know what to expect by now - and they don't disappoint: rave-inflected ten-ton dancehall, Stott-influenced knackered 4/4 grimness, sub-aquatic Chain Reaction dub. There's even a track called 'Head Deep in Shit'.
Martin's been on a tear in the last few months, releasing a slew of ambient records, a collaboration with Dis Fig and a brand new The Bug album. Now he returns to his G36 project, last spotted back in 2018. It was originally a collaboration with Goh Nakada, aka Gorgonn, but here the material is split between the three friends: Martin, Nakada and Broadrick taking four tracks each.
Martin's opener 'Wrong Place, Wrong Time' is thick with his signature overdrive, while Nakada's 'Sulfur' is comparatively dainty, zeroing in on swinging bass pressure, but sticking to a forceful dub mainframe. When Broadrick takes the reins, introducing himself with 'Dosshouse', he materializes in a space not dissimilar to Porter Ricks' most recent material - all precise modular squelches and side-chained throbs.
This back and forth continues as the trio taunt each other with bass weight, each vying for sonic supremacy. And with track names like 'Body Crusher', 'Annihilation' and 'Meat Grinder Dub', there's nowt subtle in either concept or execution. Apocalyptic, heaviest gear.
For his Shelter Press debut, Thomas Bonvalet aka L'ocelle Mare presents an album that’s considerably more than the sum of its conceptual parts, constructing "anti-compositions" that are - on the face of it - utilitarian rotations through an array of instruments, with a tracklisting that reads like nothing more than a basic gear list. Through some sort of alchemy, the recordings transform into a poetic body of work, an engrossing sleight of hand that lands somewhere between Pierre Bastien’s mechanical installations and the oblique mysticism of sacred music, buried between the notes.
Since his 2006 debut under the L'Ocelle Mare moniker, Bonvalet has gradually moved away from traditional notions of composition and diverted his attention purely to the textural and timbral quality of sound. His tenure playing guitar in various bands - notably Cheval De Frise and Powerdove - provides the experience needed to isolate his instruments, zeroing-in on the gestures of performance - plucks, strums, vibrations - using them to assemble component parts that are essentially free by design.
Flute, piano, strings and various percussive instruments collide with all manner of effects and assorted sound objects like a telephone, metronome - even masking tape, each recorded and assembled through a no-method process that rejects traditional notions of composition. But while the assembly is for all intents and purposes dispassionate - just take a look at the track names - the resulting recordings are a marvel, gradually building into individual mood pieces that betray a buried instinct for harmony.
Take 'Guitare Classique, Métronome, Tambourins…’ as an example - Spanish guitar, pitch bent, a frenzied metronome, an arpeggio, something rattles - a non-linear, complex rendition, a miracle of sound that lands like the most inspirational film music you’ll have heard in years. Or on 'Piano, Banjo, Orgue, Métronome' - a more angular, interesting take on the sort of thing Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto have tried over a number of collaborative albums - a 3 minute recital punctuated by increasingly agitated piano notes, all moving key changes and brittle strings.
Through its curious construction, 'Sans Chemin’ (literally, ‘without path’) feels to highlight the way our instinctive interaction with harmony, beauty, and dissonance can quickly ignite or extinguish heightened feelings without easy explanation. Perhaps all the pieces here were really made without direction - an aimless meander through sound - or maybe there’s something significantly more intricate and complicated at play. Either way, the result is the same; a richly textured and evocative, often startling transition from chaos and into the sublime, mirroring our own complex existential topographies.
Regis’ deadly slab of gothic hard-body machine funk returns, the blueprint for those shockout British Murder Boys excursions and generally one of the most influential Techno records of all time, here on a newly mastered 20th anniversary edition, once again ready to wallop.
‘Penetration’ practically defined this type of loopy, gnashing techno before a gradated phase shift into sleeker forms of minimalism came to pass during the following decade. It would be nearly 20 years before Regis issued his solo follow-up, ‘Hidden In This Is The Light That You Miss’, with time well spent on developing his roles in British Murder Boys and Sandwell District, among many other things, but ‘Penetration’ stands as a paradigm of Techno’s gothic-toned, gnashing wing in its purest, deadliest form.
Bolstered by Simon Shreeve’s airy remaster, ‘Penetration’ kicks like a thoroughbred. From the stentorian, Latinate drum friction of ‘Get On Your Knees’ to the monotone drone tension of ‘Aftertaste of Guilt’ and ‘It’s A Man’s World’, or the stealth ratchet of ‘Thirst’, it’s not hard to hear hallmarks of Regis’ sound that would inform his run of seminal British Murder Boys productions with Surgeon a couple of years later. Yet cuts such as the shark-eyed drive ‘White Stains’ and the sleazy dark room afterthoughts of ‘Slave to the Inevitable’ distinguish the album as sole property of Regis in his prime, before taking on the mantle of UK industrial music’s renaissance man over the past decade. With 20 years hindsight, it remains a tough, adrenalised energy-rush for the ages - here sounding heavier than ever.
Spunky wave pops from early ‘80s Germany, portraying the sound of the country’s first proper youth movement via bullets by Andreas Dorau, Conrad Schnitzler, Der Plan, Palais Schaumburg, Xao Seffcheque, Die Partei, Asmus Tietchens, Holger Hiller, Populäre Mechanik ++
Rifled from the considerable cabinet of Bureau B, ‘Eins und Zwei und Drei und Vier’ surveys those artists who bloomed in the fallout of ‘70s punk, spanning what became known as NDW (Neue Deutsche Welle) and paralleling post-punk and No wave movements elsewhere, up to the advent of home computing and the whole house phenomenon. OK, Germany had “krautrock” and kosmiche before this lot, that they could safely call their own music, and differed from both their parent’s music and Anglo-British styles, but that was never really a full on youth movement, to the extent that this stuff became. Bending aspects of punk, funk, and early industrial styles with everything from steel drums and cod-reggae, to dadaist tendencies, the youth of early ‘80s Germany put their own stamp on music with equal measures of spunk and ludicrousness that’s gone on to influence countless others.
If you’re after exemplary highlights, run check for the phet-twitch of Moritz Von Oswald, Thomas Fehlmann, Holger Hiller and co’s Palais Schaumburg zinger ‘Wir bauen eine neue Stadt’ for somethgin of a funky mission statement, and clock Conrad Schnitzler’s vocoder-driven motorik bullet for a bridge between he original kosmiche and techno welts, while Austro-German artist Xao Seffcheque can be relied on for the possessed drive of ‘Sample & Hold’, and Berlin’s Populäre Mechanik trade in killer, brittle funk on ‘Muster’, and the pop-punk spirit is kicking on gems from Die Radierer and the prince of NDW, Andreas Dorau.
Jon Wesseltoft and Lasse Marhaug conduct computer and electronics in a killer 2hr+ piece of glacial, mind-bending raga-like drone for Superpang
So, this is what Norwegians get up to during the winter months of darkness; taking all the time they need to achieve other states of consciousness and visit other planes of bent mind reality via stringent electronic practice. OK, maybe it’s just these two Norwegians, but we’d also be tempted to do this if sunlight fucked off for 6 months or more.
It’s probably accepted that you’re not going to grasp the whole piece from samples, but we can assure that with durational listening the nearly 10 year old work exerts heavy drone traction thru its extremely long arc of phase shifting tones, with results reminding to the concentration of works by Éliane Radigue, or perhaps more aptly the just intonation explorations of C.C. Hennix and the roiling widescreen of Roland Kayn, especially in the burningly intense latter section. Amazing, really.
Sia makes Arca sound pretty pedestrian on ‘Born Yesterday’, gunning for the radio A lists with stadium ready vocals and Arca’s production transitioning between fluttering electronics and rushy techno impulses
Eartheater quickly follows her headline-grabbing Lourdes Leon collaboration 'Joyride' with another dreamy roll of futurist dream pop. 'Scripture' is Eartheater at her best: slick trance arpeggios and tuff 909 womps are the ultimate foil for her unmistakable glissando vocal flexes.
While last year's astonishing "Phoenix" exposed the raw nerves underneath Alexandra Drewchin's evolving style, 'Scripture' finds her placing two feet right back in the cyber-pop pool. It's material that few other artists accomplish quite so convincingly, with not just icy-cool production, but the glimmering, smart songwriting to match. There's an inherent sadness to Drewchin's music, but it's balanced out by chromium-plated sci-fi trickery and a sultry sensuality that feels properly in line with the contemporary global mood.
Illinois’ Forgot Imprint venture End Age’s enigmatic debut of hazy, hashed out figures resembling a ghostly after-impression of Actress or the sound of the workshop when nobody is listening
Hailing from Fukushima, Japan, End Age pursues a deeply uncanny sound on ‘ 宇宙飛行士’full of subtle timbral detail and strange, lurking intrigue that never fully reveals itself. The six tracks are roughly split between mesmerising durational works that follow their own mazy logic, as well as more succinct pieces that are, to be fair, no less oblique in nature, and fascinating with it. Imagine a geiger counter picking up decaying half-life traces of Vanity Records’ oddest, but also picking up traces of Bellows, Actress, and CM von Hauswolff, and you’re in the right arena.
Maxwell Sterling and DJ Plead lend crafty hands to Phillip Jondo’s classy debut melange of soundtrack, dembow, jungle and techno influences, dispensed by Dekmantel
With the intention to blur boundaries between headphone and home listening situations, Cologne’s Jondo ventures an immersive style of sound design benefiting from his heightened rhythmic instincts. In duo with Sterling, who leads on from his albums with Ecstatic and AD 93 in recent years, their ‘Dunkelziffer I’ sets the scene with RPG-like intrigue and sense of world building, flush with classical turns of phrase and rent with crisp electronics, where its part ‘II’ follows with scything dembow rhythms, cute bassline house motifs and streaking trance lines recoiling like Paul Marmota meets TCF.
On ‘Whowhuwho’ he tags in hard drum wunderkind DJ Plead for a round of killer jungle drums that barely touch the floor, kept up with Plead’s signature trills and deftest subbass hits and its airy, owl-like lead - you know all Plead productions are essential already. Russia’s Moa Pillar chases up a string of zingers for for Moscow’s ПИР (Peer) with a tuffer remix full of choppy percussive parries and a tightened up lead line.