Prayers are answered with this damn fine pressing of two late ‘80s, Belgian-produced beauties, including a prime new cut of Teknokrat’s’ rare AF New Beat heater ‘What Did She Say’ - suffice to say we've been waiting for this one for years.
Pairing the original Congolese soukous version of ‘Nakombe Nga’ by Ben Nyambo’s Les Choc Stars Du Zaire, with its remixed instrumental, Teknokrat’s’ ‘What Did She Say’, Rush Hour have just blown our minds by revealing a whole other side to a song that’s utterly dear to our hearts and feet.
As it turns out, both songs share the same producer, Tony Baron, who uncannily shares a name and look with a Reeves & Mortimer character from The Club sketches, and who was behind some of New Beat’s high water marks and its hardest to find records. For years we’ve been obsessed with his ‘Tekno’ LP as The Teknokrat’s (mind that apostrophe), and in particular its last track, an addictive spin on Inner City’s Detroit house sound, titled ‘What Did She Say’.
One can possibly imagine our astonishment, then, to find out that track is actually a remix of a Congolese Soukous song by Ben Nyambo’s Les Choc Stars Du Zaire, swapping out the Anglophone vocals for harmonised Swahili lyrics and extra spicy guitar licks. Even better yet, as the original Teknokrat’s LP is pressed 5 tracks per side, this is the first time either song has seen a proper 12” cut, and we’re happy to report they both sound bright and punchy as one could hope for.
In our books this is a 100% essential plate, guaranteed to light up ‘floors anywhere. Here’s to hoping for a full reissue of the ’Tekno’ LP!
Another sterling collection of Parmegiani’s “lost tapes” spanning 1966-1990, ‘Mémoire Magnétique Vol.1’ circles 17 poetic and versatile works from the legendary GRM and ORTF artist/technician’s sidelines into work for TV, film and theatre choreography, expanding the themes of his recent ‘Rock (Bande Original Du Film)’ and ‘La Soleils’ reissues
Whilst deeply appreciated for his pioneering efforts in shaping electro-acoustic music at the GRM (with best results found in his priceless ‘L'Œuvre Musicale En 12 CD’ set), Parmegiani first cut his teeth at ORTF, France’s national broadcaster, and also wrote a lot of sound for theatre and contemporary dance choreography.
‘Mémoire Magnétique Vol.1’ offers a vital bridge between Parmegiani’s more academic, concert-based works for the Acousmonium system at GRM, and his artistic/commercial endeavours, documenting a body of work where his razor sharp skill in editing and illusive spatialization meet more melodic gestures and brilliantly proto-technoid rhythms.
There were clear hints of this style in the ‘Bande…’ OST, but they most captivatingly come to the fore in this follow-up, most notably on the pulsating brilliance of ‘Versailles… Peut-Être II’ , one of the sharpest pre-echoes of the ‘80s we’ve ever heard, along with the inimitable clarity of his pranging percussion and highly visual editing on ‘Image De Marque I+II’, and the Black MIDI-esque spirals of La Guerre Des Insectes I’ , for example.
‘Electrucs’ is a previously unpublished LP of works by former INA-GRM chief François Bayle, recorded 1974-1995, and now finally issued on the 60th anniversary of the world-renowned facility he managed between 1966-1997.
Comprising four distinct sections of acousmatic study ranging from playful AKS Synthi “hand games” to the blooming ‘Rosaces’, a test-piece for the Acousmonium, and a dedication to his peer, Bernard Parmegiani; ‘Electrucs’ follows Recollection GRM’s series of Bayle reissues to offer a diverse and spellbinding survey of his pioneering work spanning the past half century.
The A-side is taken by 10 oozing, viscously shapeshifting ‘Electrucs’ that give the LP its title, rendering a series of highly dynamic pieces made on the Synthi AKS between 1974-2018, and veering from chaotic polymetrics to pulsating, almost melodic vignettes, and many moments of tense, atonal abstraction that wouldn’t sound out of place on a good hour or thriller soundtrack.
The other side breaks down to three distinct sections. ‘Cinq dessins en rosace’  is a five part study of increasingly complex geometries, transiting from sharp, simple oscillations to filigree, spatialized arrangements of electronics and keys. ‘Foliphonie’ [1974-2011] follows with a beautifully alien scene of chirruping voices and whirled woodwind originally hatched for use on the GRM’s Acousmonium speaker/diffusion system, and ’Marpège’ [1995-2007] finds him dissolving a trace of Bernard Parmegiani’s ‘Sonare’ into sonic delirium.
Raw yet sophisticated deep house, acid and electro clearly schooled in the classics, from Glasgow’s Stephen Lopkin
Continuing a run of Gaelic-located or themed titles for M>O>S, Clyde Built is perhaps the definitive batch of Lopkin's emotive and puristic style following ‘The Haggis Trap’  and ‘Meall a’ Bhùiridh’ .
Nodding to Glasgow’s heritage as the entry point for so much imported American dance music as well as its industrial past, Lopkin forges 10 aces over two plates, with divine results inspired by Detroit classics in ‘Fragments of Yesteryear’ and ’Stupid Humans’, along with the lush house traction of ‘White Corries’, some B12-esque electro in ‘Decades’, and a heavily seductive stripe of Reese-bassed techno in ‘Fridays at Pure’, at Carl Craig-goes-Italo flavour in ‘Welcome To Nowhere’.
Stunning exploration of traditional Arabic music and electronic processing by pivotal Montrealer Radwan Moumneh (boss of the legendary Hotel2Tango studio), including unmissable meshes of rolling rhythms with spectral ‘tronics in ‘Bein Ithnein’, and Coil-like digital vocal manipulation on ‘Thaha, Mish Roujou’, Thahab’, along with entrancing theatric orchestrations of trad vocals, buzuk and zurna with synths and tape FX. TIP!
“Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) is a project of contemporary Arabic and electronic music interwoven with 16mm film projections and light-based (de)constructions of space, exploring a relationship between music, visuals, projections and audience. With performances thus far occurring once or twice a year, no two JIMH events have ever been the same: configurations have ranged from solo to 35 participants, with varying degrees of stage theatrics alongside a film & visual component, using multiple projections to construct a space in constant flux. JIMH's vocals and purposefully blown-out sonic sensibility have been the consistent thread, but neither its music nor visual propositions have ever repeated themselves – one of the reasons why JIMH has resisted for eight years any official documentation or definitive recording of the project.
JIMH was formed in 2005 by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, a Lebanese national who has spent a large part of his adult life in Quebec and has been a fixture of the Montreal independent music community, from his early days in various notable 90s punk bands to his tireless activities over the last decade as a sound engineer, producer and co-owner of Montreal’s Hotel2Tango recording studio. Moumneh is also active in the Beirut experimental music scene, where he spends a few months every year. JIMH now consists of a core trio with French musician & producer Jérémie Regnier and Chilean visual artist & filmmaker Malena Szlam Salazar, whose two-year collaboration with Moumneh has resulted in the co-creation of JIMH’s debut album Mo7it Al-Mo7it.
JIMH forges a modern experimental Arabic music by wedding melismatic singing in classic Arabic styles and electronic compositions with contemporary electronic production. The album equally emphasizes the intimacy and narrative pace that focused, intentional studio recording allows. The result is a unique and profoundly emotive album of contemporary Arabic music, a stunningly subtle first record for a project that resisted documentation or any sort of fixity for so many years. Moumneh's voice has become a powerfully authentic instrument, and his production techniques applying distortion, tape echos and delays to varying degrees transmit a timeless intensity to the recording. Saturated synths and the overdriven signals of Moumneh's acoustic buzuk and zurna reinforce the reigning sensibility, providing a bracing counterpoint to the vocals and lovely, searching instrumental narratives in their own right. Szlam’s work was the source material for the album’s visual aesthetic. Szlam’s visual creation for the album derives from sequences that echo lunar notions and photographic intervals that reverberate and resonate, evoking the oscillation of time. Using frames from various hand-processed 16mm filmstrips, Szlam created a lunar sequence that consitutes the album cover artwork.
Inspired by the Lebanese educator Boutros Al-Bustani’s book Circumference of the Ocean, Mo7it Al-Mo7it signifies, in JIMH’s open and poetic interpretation, “Ocean of the Ocean.” The numeral 7 is pronounced like an h; all titles on the album are rendered in contemporary colloquial “mobile” Arabic (the transliterative characters used in Arabic phone texting). Thanks for listening.”
Archival Scanner work recorded in mid ‘90s with involvement from Jim O’Rourke and Robert Hampson (Main, Loop)
“There were three performers and one witness. I can remember this day so well, even though it was some twenty-four years ago. Standing up before a mixing desk in a dark room in an apartment in South London, Jim O’Rourke, Robert Hampson and myself, literally all hands-on deck as we each took responsibility for the faders on the desk. Introducing sounds to the mix, unexpected, unpredictable, where the accident reigned supreme. Sometimes the high frequency of cellular noise would pervade the atmosphere, at other junctures it would erupt into words and melt down to radio hiss. Mike Harding from the Touch label stood silently, listening intently. A couple of years earlier we had set up Ash International, an audio project which allowed to release unusual and exploratory music and sounds that we felt deserved a wider audience, from Runaway Train to the early Scanner releases.
Two mixes were captured directly onto DAT tape. One of which would be officially released as Ash 1.7 Mass Observation, an EP that featured a 25 min version of one of these sessions, but until today the second longer expansive mix has never been heard. Each quite different from the other. Dehumanised communications, beatless, radio signals drawn in live to tape, and accompanied by dial tone pulses and abstract textures, Mass Observation is a highly suggestive picture of a particular place in a city at a very specific time. A form of Sound Polaroid as I tended to call such recordings.
This early body of work of mine, in the early and mid-1990s was a study in surveillance. Long before our concerns about data leakage at Facebook, and Siri spying on our private moments, I used the scanner device itself - a modestly sophisticated radio receiver - to explore the relationship between the public and private spheres, lending a deep sense of drama to these found cellular conversations within a contextual electronic score. In many ways, this work pre-empted our reality culture, as it exists today, with our TVs now saturated by Love Island and Big Brother.
In the experimental techno uprising of Britain in the mid-1990s this work proved controversial and memorable. Bjork sampled Mass Observation controversially for her Possibly Maybe single, whilst Coil and Aphex Twin bought radio scanners and introduced these found voices into their recordings, whilst I continued to create work in this grey area of ambient sound. It’s work that still carries great meaning for me, opening up possibilities with sound and introducing the human voice back into experimental electronic music.”
The Mutant Beat Dance supergroup of Melvin Oliphant (Traxx), Jason Letkiewicz (Steve Summers) and Beau Wanzer meet LCD Soundsystem’s Tyler Pope and Pat Mahoney
Combined, all five run an oil-spattered punk-disco style on ‘Feed The Enemy’, the EP’s weakest cut, before the OG trio get down to business in the murky grind of ‘Revival 80s’, a filthy detahrock groove called ‘Crete’, the slompy P-Funk of ‘Funk Groove’, and the demented bassline cubism of ‘Touy Story’.
Geographic North present an expertly curated, horror-themed compilation of exclusive aces from Félicia Atkinson, Pinkcourtesyphone, Ka Baird, Suzanne Kraft, CV & JAB, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Eluvium, Clarice Jensen, Arp, Ilyas Ahmed, Algiers and many more, all right in time for Samhain 2018
Mantled in reference to the seminal Nicolas Roeg flick, ‘Don’t Look Now’ , Geographic North’s 2nd collection of Halloween music shares much in common with the titular film’s classical scenery and unsettling psychology, with each contributor preferring inference and shadowplay over anything explicitly gory or sh*t-the-bed scary.
Bookended by prologue and epilogue from Sweden’s Arp, the set runs to 21 pieces in total, amounting to induce a nervously furtive state of mind fleeting between clammy anxiety, pensive midnight romance, and unshakeable uncanniness. It’s testament to Geographic North’s fine-tuned ears that the whole thing works so well, holding our attention by a silk thread for its feature-length 90 minute duration.
Like a movie, it’s best consumed in one go, but it’s worth pointing to key scenes such as Ka Baird’s nest of shivering keys in ‘Clearing’, and the cool tension between spiralling rhythms and tranquil chords in Felicia Atkinson’s ‘Little Things’ as crucial to the sequence, especially when contrasted with the more dread-filled nooks such as Robert Donne’s crushing dedication to Mika Vainio in ‘Rakkauslaulu’, the carmine seep of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s viscous organ wooze in ‘O Virtus Sapiente’, and the starkly sepulchral dynamic of ’Stabbing’ by Suzanne Kraft.
For our money comps rarely work, but much like PAN's Mono No Aware, Geographic North prove that with the right curation you can sometimes end up with something much more weighty then the sum of its parts, in this case an engrossing narrative full of darkness and light.
First new Phosphorescent album in 5 years, Matthew Houck's most grand and varied album to date.
"For years, Phosphorescent’s rise was a steady one: tours got a little better, rooms got a little bigger, and with it the music became more intricate, more ambitious in its recording and arrangement. Then came Muchacho, a juggernaut that to date has sold over 100,000 worldwide, with lead single “Song for Zula” now well over 50 million streams. Now, five years later, Phosphorescent returns with his seventh studio LP, C’est La Vie. Recorded in Nashville at Matthew Houck’s own Spirit Sounds Studio, C’est La Vie reveals a crystallization of what made Muchacho such a breakout — a little sweetness and a little menace, sometimes boot-stomping and sometimes meditative.
A lot of life was lived between these records: Houck became a father (twice), built his studio, escaped New York. And C’est La Vie does have a hefty, career-spanning feel. But there’s a newfound wisdom, too, a deeper well for all that livin’. The magic of Matthew Houck’s music has always been the way he weaves shimmering, almost golden-sounding threads through elemental, salt-of-the-earth sounds. It’s not experimental, exactly, but it’s singular and it’s definitely not traditional. That knack, the through-line across the Phosphorescent catalogue, is front and centre here."
Marie Davidson is a synth-pop star for our times. Her belting 4th solo LP, ‘Working Class Woman’ is a definitive reflection of her character and current sound, including road-tested zingers from her powerful live show along with genuine surprises, while introducing a whole new wave of listeners to her charms.
In hot pursuit of the more ‘floor-friendly styles on her ‘Adieux Au Dancefloor’, and marking distance travelled since her cinematically sculpted ‘Un Autre Voyage’ for Holodeck, Marie’s 4th album inseparably binds the sound designer and dancefloor aspects of her sound in a sleek, witty, and totally captivating album which, for all it’s vintage touchstones, feels very symptomatic of 2018.
Her grooves are firmed up to direct functionality while the arrangements are as varied as anything from her intricate earlier works, resulting in big highlights on her live show favourite, the playfully raunchy EBM of ‘Work It’, and the rabid drum machine razz-out ‘Workaholic Paranoid Bitch’. But the amazing late ‘80s synth-pop-house of ‘So Right’ and the album’s two bookends of sardonic and sensual vocals, set to respectively pensive and sublime backdrops, really set this album apart from the crowd.
At 76 years old, you’d think virtuoso guitarist Mike Cooper would rest on his laurels a little, having continuously mined a seemingly bottomless well of inspiration for almost seven decades, spanning a countless number of recordings feeding his insatiable appetite for experimentation. For his latest album ‘Tropical Gothic’, however, he takes another sharp turn into more abstract terrain with a dark, brooding take on Exotika and Pacific music, sounding something like Jan Jelinek’s much loved Loop-Finding Jazz Records as rendered by Badalamenti and Lynch, before suddenly veering off into a tropical breeze...
Making use of his usual lap steel guitar, sampler and FX, Cooper provides a radical inversion of his style, switching from Pacific to Atlantic ocean to scouting out a looming deep south darkness lurking behind his usually balmy lap steel slide guitar blues. The title itself, “Tropical Gothic” references Cooper’s beloved areas of ‘the South’ with a Gothic, dark, remote interplay.
On each side Cooper studies different approaches to his method of weaving guitar and field recordings into a constant stream of sound, where he delivers chaos and melody - not necessarily in that order. Side A is composed of shorter pieces. Each of them offers a myriad of images and sensations, between the enigmatic and terror (“The Pit”), joy, happiness and freedom (“Running Naked”) or pure contemplation (“Onibaba”).
“Onibaba” runs as a fitting introduction to Side B and its 18 minute magical piece “Lelong & Gods Of Bali”. A mix of ambient exotica, silent film soundtrack and distorted rhythms that dance around Mike’s guitar. It keeps reinventing and transforming itself throughout those eighteen minutes, summing up the dexterity and muscle of Mike Cooper’s music of the last two decades.
Incredible music from a genuine unsung hero; yungers out there resting on yr laurels - take note.
Deep house craftsman Lawrence coaxes out trademark slinky bass warmth and playful drums on his 8th album since emerging at the turn of the century.
A perennial favourite of house heads in the know, the Dial Records co-founder continues to find iridescent variation within his style on ‘Illusion’, inducing the lushest hypnotic states with beautifully woven square bass and cirrus pads in ‘Treasure Box’ and the feathered flight of ‘Yu Yu’, while ‘Flaunting High’ seduces with some of the strongest bass work his side of Terre Thaemlitz, and ‘Transitions’ makes a lovely foray into midnight jazz-toned electro-house.
The overdue and overproof sophomore Young Echo album is finally upon us, dispensing an epic 24 tracks of subby, red-eyed and distinctively Bristolian vibes set to dank-out smoky dwellings everywhere. Arriving five years after Nexus, their eponymous second album features cuts from each of the 11-strong mob, framing a fractious mosaic of style and pattern rooted in dub and the dancehall, but unafraid to fxck with noise, techno, ambient pop and grime in their own way.
It’s a proper group effort, playing to their strengths in diversity and unity in the best way by keeping individual track credits close to their chest, only allowing the album to be taken as a whole. Yeh, of course everyone’s going to have personal favourites, but they’re only facets of a much bigger body, and it’s to their credit that the whole thing feels coherent, a shared experience, and doesn’t simply sound like a compilation of music by like minds.
Young Echo have always been a bit of sore-thumb in the scene - are they a band? A label? A soundsystem in the mould of The Wild Bunch? The one takeaway from all their material is a sense of shared purpose and democracy - not in the usual, arrogant indie band style, or in-your-face political militancy - pivoting around mutual ideas of economy of expression and a sensitivity to space, rhythm and tone that effectively all pulls back to dub, no matter their individual heritage.
Young Echo is an organic complex where light hardly penetrates its papyrus-like walls, and much of the most crucial communication is made via infrasonics and atonality, relaying messages and emotions both as metaphorical/physical vibes and quite literally thru a morphing voice, which might be gruff poetic realism of Rider Shafioque one minute, the crisply enunciated diction of Jabu or Chester Giles the next, while a number of ghostly, sampled characters also haunt its corridor, perfusing half-heard messages thru their smoky matrix.
It adds up to an album symptomatic of the times in which it was made, yet does so timelessly, bridging the original, super plush studio trip hop creation of their geographic forebears, Massive Attack or Portishead, with a more road-level appreciation of economy and soul which might be best recognised by members of their generation, but should also be felt by any open-minded and empathetic souls the world over.
It’s definitely not another fxcking coffee table record, we’ll give you that for free.
Evol dance on your tongue, down your throat and up yer synapses in ‘rabbit Trax’ for Diagonal
Following from the immense ‘Ideal 303’ blast and Evol’s overwhelming ‘Hardcore Vol.3’ package, ‘Wabbit Trax’ keeps the nutters on the ‘floor with three bendy acid techno bullets running thru seriously psychotomimetic permutations of 303 and pitching kick drums.
The wonky triplets of ‘Wabbit Trax 3’ will be out a stonking great grin on gurning mugs.
Includes fold-out A3 liner notes of an interview among Celli, Niblock, and Susan Stenger, plus original recording notes. Housed in tip-on style jacket
Phill Niblock’s riveting and rare work for Joseph Celli sees necessary and long-awaited reissue on the amazing Superior Viaduct, who continue to carefully and studiously unfold the history of avant-garde and experimental music before your ears. ‘Niblick For Celli’ is nothing short of stunning and life-affirming music, extremely transfixing and powerfully meditative. Play loud - it really comes alive with amplification!
“Composer, filmmaker and photographer Phill Niblock is a true pillar of the New York avant-garde. In the past 50 years, he has curated over 1,000 performances at his Centre Street loft and steadfastly built a massive, multidisciplinary body of work. While his earliest musical compositions date back to 1968, Niblock waited until the early '80s to release any recordings. Notion To Look At Just A Record, a powerful debut with densely layered trombones, would be the first to unfurl his unique approach to sound.
The second album and perhaps the most rare in Niblock's vast catalogue, 1984's Niblock For Celli / Celli Plays Niblock is a meeting of two great minds. Working with reed player Joseph Celli (a composer in his own right, who has collaborated with John Cage, Pauline Oliveros and Ornette Coleman), Niblock nimbly removes the breathing pauses from Celli's oboe and English horn to create seamless, enchanting drones.
Niblock insists that his music be played loud: only in this way can one experience the visceral ringing of these long instrumental tones through the speakers and their natural overtones generated by the room. Niblock For Celli remains deeply absorbing.
This first-time reissue is recommended for fans of Alvin Lucier, Yoshi Wada and Dome.”
‘Documento’ is a beautifully nostalgic minimal wave salvo from Valladolid, Northern Spain and Catalonia’s Slovenska Televiza duo
An astute study into the strange, unshakeable feelings associated with ‘80s cartoon soundtracks and the way childhood and formative nostalgia lingers over and permeates adult life, ‘Documento’ is a highly intriguing debut from the Wladyslaw Trejo and Lunademayo’s Slovenska Televiza, who are so named after the lasting impression of Czech cartoons’ vivid colours and soundtracks mixing classical and experimental electronic melodies.
It’s fair to say we totally subscribe to Slovenska Televiza’s hauntological notion, and also fair to say the five tracks flawlessly connote their subject across the A-side, flooding the senses with a range of emotions from the furtively mystic yet adrenalising opener ‘Invierno En Agosto’ thru the stark doom of ‘La Horrenda Noche’ and the pop-gilded romance of ‘Es El Ordenador’, to the chase sequence of ‘Muskiz’ and closing theme of ‘Slovenska Televiza.’
Here’s to waking up before everyone else on late ‘80s and early ‘90s mornings, getting your fix of sugary cereal, and being glued to syndicated foreign animations and the phosphorescing glow of their synthetic soundtracks.
Sterling first volley from Bristol’s Young Echo Records, featuring Sam Kidel (Killing Sound) and Amos Childs (Jabu) backing Rider Shafique’s incisive, intimate reflections on I-Dentity in modern Britain.
Perhaps best received as a clear response to the divisive, race-baiting politics our times, in both parts Shafique presents an ice-cool yet impassioned dissection of the state of playlucidly channelling his thoughts in a rooted, low-key style that resonates with the delivery and impetus of classic dub poetry from Linton Kwesi Johnson and Mutubaruka.
However, this being the first release from one of the UK’s most conscientious, variegated and distinctive outfits, don’t expect them to play to convention. This is most apparent in I-Dentity, where Shafique’s ennui and haunted ontological observations intersects Sam Kidel’s miasma of coruscating strings and insectoid inflection, creating a weightless, pensile and abstract space where Shafique ruminations on the stubborn hangovers of the colonial mindset and the semantics of its redundant taxonomies resonate in a wholly unique manner, similar to the way Kidel’s juxtaposed materials in his amazing Disruptive Muzak LP for The Death of Rave.
For a smart contrast, in the flip side’s Freedom Cry, Shafique spells out a more positive, stately message, hailing the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement against Jabu’s unfathomable, melting backdrop of slow, celestial jazz swoon, with the lyricist holding tight to his message at the centre of it all. If we’re totally honest, on previous records Shafique’s delivery has seemed slightly over earnest or, conversely, even too droll to us. But here it makes complete, affective sense.
On his playfully subversive fourth solo album, Nathan Bowles (Steve Gunn, Pelt, Black Twig Pickers) extends his acclaimed banjo and percussion practice into the full-band realm for the first time, showcasing both delicate solo meditations and smoldering, swinging ensemble explorations featuring Casey Toll (Jake Xerxes Fussell, Mt. Moriah) on double bass and Rex McMurry (CAVE) on drums. RIYL: Steve Gunn, Jake Xerxes Fussell, the Black Twig Pickers, Pelt, Jack Rose, Michael Chapman, Bill Callahan, Daniel Bachman, Marisa Anderson, William Tyler, Hiss Golden Messenger, Mary Lattimore, CAVE, Henry Flynt, Clive Palmer, Terry Riley, Julie Tippetts.
"As he considers the cycles of deceit and self-deception that shape both our personal and political lives, a mixed mood of melancholy and merriment permeates Bowles’s own compositions as well as the interpretive material, which draws from traditional Appalachian repertoires and the diverse songbooks of Julie Tippetts, Cousin Emmy, and Silver Apples.
Plainly Mistaken, the playfully subversive fourth solo album by Durham, North Carolina multi-instrumentalist Nathan Bowles, begins with a lullaby written by a child for an adult. The seven year-old Jessica Constable composed “Now If You Remember”—the titular lyric continues, precociously, “we were talking about God and you”—for English singer Julie Tippetts’s 1976 album Sunset Glow. Bowles’s ethereal rendering represents a rather radical departure from his previous recordings; his placidly plaintive singing has been stripped of its otherwise genial, ursine gruffness, and the brief song floats by on the sedative ebb tide of banjo and pianos both acoustic and electric.
Following that role reversal—a child assuming the role of parental bedtime bard—is the ten and a half minute-long album centrepiece “The Road Reversed,” a reversal (and vast expansion) of previous directions both sonic and congregational. Here, and throughout Plainly Mistaken, Bowles extends his acclaimed solo banjo and percussion practice into the full-band realm for the first time, showcasing both delicate solo meditations and smoldering, swinging ensemble explorations. “The Road Reversed” introduces the growling, bowed double bass of Casey Toll (Jake Xerxes Fussell, Mt. Moriah) and the rigorously precise minimalist drumming of Rex McMurry (CAVE), both of whom feature on five of the nine tracks herein and are integral to the record’s ambitious palette and limber but exacting rhythmic structures. “The Road Reversed” likewise introduces, and lays authoritative claim to, the full compositional extent and capacity of this unorthodox banjo-bass-drums trio, the spacious sonority of which might best be described as arboreal in texture and heft. No instrument impinges on the frequency of another—instead, they feel like towering ligneous parallels, great swaying longleaf pines that, arc and bend perilously together in heavy winds, groaning in head-nodding 5/4 time but remaining upright and rooted.
Plainly Mistaken, its title apt, adjusts assumptions we might have made about the scope and scale of Nathan’s music, which sounds both more exquisitely controlled and more dangerously unleashed than ever before. We hear here his ever restless roving between the poles of Appalachian and Piedmont string band traditions and ecstatic drone. In the former category are his percolating full-band rerecording of Ernie Carpenter’s “Elk River Blues” (which previously appeared in a very different solo iteration on A Bottle, A Buckeye ); “Fresh & Fairly So,” the indelibly careening melody of which could be an old-time standard; and “Stump Sprout,” the ghost of a misremembered reel. The latter category includes the solo recordings “Umbra,” “Girih Tiles” (played on the “mellowtone,” a custom banjo/bazouki hybrid instrument built by Rex McMurry’s father Maurice), and the improvised “In Kind” suite. However, never before has Bowles offered such a surprising, but succinct, crystallization of his diverse work with other groups—Steve Gunn, Pelt, the Black Twig Pickers, and most recently, Jake Xerxes Fussell’s band, in which he serves double duty on drums and banjo—made possible here by the fleshed-out full-band configuration and arrangements. Colleague and mutual musical admirer Bill Callahan writes of these scale shifts in Nathan’s music as, alternately, “the grand blankness of seeing everything at once” or “a pinhole vision that soothes and subjects in its narrowness”—the two conditions as, perhaps, two sides of the same equation of Panopticon-to-pinhole compositional logic. That also sounds like a description of spiritual jazz, or the trance context of gnawa song, both of which inform Bowles’s work here.
But this is not solipsistic music. Plainly Mistaken also gestures outward to the world, as Bowles considers the cycles of deceit and self-deception that shape both our personal and political lives. “I’ve come to the conclusion,” he writes, “that we’re generally ahistorical and snowblind, unable to adequately digest the past in order to live sufficiently in the present.” The album jacket includes a quotation from Javier Marías’s 2014 novel Thus Bad Begins: “We go from deceit to deceit and know that, in that respect, we are not deceived, and yet we always take the latest deceit for the truth.” It might be funny if it wasn’t so devastating.
And so a mixed mood of melancholy and merriment permeates Bowles’s own compositions as well as the interpretive material. His rambunctious and exuberant version of Cousin Emmy and Her Kinfolk’s 1946 proto-bluegrass classic “Ruby,” the other vocal track here—elided with “In Kind I”—draws primarily from the 1968 version by Silver Apples instead of the canonical versions by the Osborne Brothers or Buck Owens, thereby embodying a tribute to a palimpsest of bluegrass-meets-avant-garde iterations that perfectly suits Nathan’s own practice. In its trio-fueled headlong canter, “Ruby” feels unhinged and manic, a sinister interrogative mantra that encapsulates the slippery cycle of deception and stuttering accusation that plagues our contemporary cultural moment."
Rob Hood’s seminal set of banging and experimental techno resurfaces for the CDJs on Peacefrog
Originally despatched in 2002 - pretty much equidistant from his earliest outings with UR and the modern day - ‘Point Blank’ breaks down squarely between his signature bangers and a couple of amazing, expressive, experimental pieces that pushed the Detroit techno paradigm into then-unexplored territory.
In the rapid flux of organ stabs and skittish electro 3-step of ‘The Art Of War’ and the utterly alien mesh of plunging bass and pizzicato arps in ‘Method B’, we find Hood at the extent of his Hi-Techjazz powers, while the rest of the set deftly delivers proper floor rockers, particularly in the intricate calculations of ‘Who Taught You Math’, the shivering strings of ‘The Body Human’, and his high-velocity killer, ‘The Pipes’.
Low-key, ambient updates of Washington Go-Go and boogie from D.C. area’s Davon Bryant a.k.a. Dreamcast
‘Outer Space’ bumps with a high-grade THC potency, distilling Go-Go into vaporous electronics, while ‘Up 2 You’ follows an old skool line of jazzy R&B boom bap, Future Times style.
La Maison Noir / The Black House is the new mini-album from South Africa’s Petite Noir. Diverse yet instant, six tracks are imbued with a spirit that leave an indelible memory.
"The long-awaited follow-up to his acclaimed 2015 album La Vie Est belle / Life Is Beautiful, the mini-album features contributions from New York rapper/poet Saul Williams and Detroit rapper Danny Brown, who Petite Noir previously collaborated with on Brown’s 2016 album Atrocity Exhibition.
It is through the lens of Noirwave that La Maison Noirwas created. Noirwave is a movement created by Petite Noir and creative director RhaRha, with its roots in music but its vision fixed firmly on the creative future. Responding to current cultural movements centred in Africa - arising against a backdrop of international anxieties concerning borders, nationhood and globalisation - Noirwave offers followers a citizenship which rejoices in freedom of movement, physically and creatively.”
Haunter’s chief spirit Daniele Guerrini a.k.a Heith turns Indonesian gamelan into spectral, plasmic ambient designs on ’Laguna’, his 2nd vinyl following ‘Silence Will Expire’ 
Coming from the same skool of unsettling ambient thought as Coil and their myriad side projects, ‘Laguna’ is a richly and purposefully meditative session patently in thrall to the complex, chaotic, yet subtly iridescent harmonic qualities of tempered metal alloys and South East Asian scales.
The A-side’s title cut finds him accreting and parsing layers of field recordings into a steeply opiated and viscous slosh resonating somewhere between Kink Gong and Sleazy’s The Threshold HouseBoys Choir, whereas the B-side’s ‘Tree Stand’ appears to invert that radiant effect with unsettling, endothermic dynamics and ‘Maria’ folds in Matthias Girardi a.k.a. Weightausend for a more mystic, tonal variant recalling the atmospheres of John T. Gast and M.C. Boli’s Gossiwor duo.
There are few voices more deeply embedded in the iconography and mythology of American indie rock than that of Chan Marshall.
"On her 10th studio album, ‘Wanderer’, Marshall resets her dials, offering a collection of winding, wondering narratives all perfectly imbued with the kind of yearning and warmth that have made her one of the most distinctive and beloved artists of her generation. Held aloft primarily by Marshall’s own guitar and piano and featuring appearances by longtime friends and compatriots, as well as guest vocals courtesy of friend and recent tourmate Lana Del Rey, the new album ‘Wanderer’ is a remarkable return from an iconic American voice."
Making music as Illreme for over 15 years, as well as being a member of Hip Hop trio Baleine 3000, Kamoda has been a formidable force in Japan’s music scene for quite some time.
"Debuting with ‘The Clay’ on Mister Saturday Night Records in 2016, which featured that unforgettable ‘Physical Graffiti’ track, Kamoda’s foray into dance music has been truly impressive, following up with two releases on Black Acre and a vinyl-only outing on Mall Grab’s Steel City Dance Discs imprint.
‘Surreal Tongue in Northern Osaka’ kicks off the album with organic, choppy hip–hop paced drums lead by rugged Japanese vocals. Kamoda then follows with ‘Nightmare Club’ and ‘Crush’ - two tuneful, funk-infused rollers. ‘Hakoniwa Disco Strut’ switches up to a reformed new-age disco track with an emphatic 60s electric guitar solo surrounding the center. The next three tracks, ‘Mt Woo’, ‘Gravity of Love’ and ‘Blooming Blues’ are all peppered with high-energy, uplifting melodies layered over a more uniform house sound.
‘The Ruddy Sunset’, is a pitched down, Balearic inspired dance track – deep bass-lines and mellow flutters providing the core. The album decisively ends by throwing genre categories completely out the window with ‘No Rhyme Nation’ – tough, broken drums and breaks of unpredictable, eccentric melodies are the theme here.
Like previous Kamoda releases on Black Acre, Jun’s wife Hisano has painted the artwork and limited edition prints will be released alongside the album. Jun is also a cartoonist and illustrates for Japanese independent magazine ‘Usca’ – the 12” release includes a cartoon within the vinyl insert.”
Dylan Sheer a.k.a. Via App asserts her most hard-headed aspects with four gristly, thuggish bangers for BANK Records NYC after shots fired on 1080p and Lupin Tapes over the last coupla years.
Extraction makes a stumbling first move with scattershot kicks and whirlwinds of hi-hats resolving to boot the ‘floor in rawest form before slackening the reins and letting Desert Acid splash like a upended turtle in a puddle of battery juice.
Living Decoration keeps the freaky levels bubbling nicely with scrabbling top end screech fixed to a grungy, thistly thump and Rogue Nerve aims lower with a blank-eyed, punkish hump and retching metallic noise.
Consider this a proper taste of Brooklyn’s current underbelly.
Some of the most gorgeous, little heard DIY music of the early ‘80s finally surfaces with Rimarimba’s ‘Below The Horizon’, the first in Freedom To Spend’s reissue series of work by Suffolk, UK’s Robert Cox - all massively recommended to followers of Colin Potter, Woo, General Strike, Konrad Sprenger and homespun electro-acoustic music of all stripes!
Committing its first appearance on vinyl, ‘Below The Horizon’ documents Robert Cox in freehand exploration of his modestly built, four-octave Marimba, homemade electronic systems and FX boxes in the front room of his bungalow in Felixstowe, UK. He literally feels his way through the kit in subconscious search of an aesthetic that would firm up on future releases, but is quite beautifully caught in flux here, catching him probing at the edges of concrète, electro-acoustic, and minimalist frameworks in the wide-open spirit of post punk experimentalism.
Oscillating scenes of eldritch psychedelia and chaos with something like a miniaturised Reich on the A-side, before reaching out for the album’s titular horizon in the B-side’s durational meditation ‘Bebag’, the results are memorable, oddly regression-like - as though we’ve been induced to recall postcard images of a shared, hidden reverse. Two of those provide an unshakeably lasting impression, as the cascading, gently psychotomimetic cadence of ‘The Melting’ leaves us reminded of Derek Bailey or John Fahey in a lysergic ramble, and the durational B-side weaves its magick with a psilocybic alacrity that puts the LP’s cover image into context.
We can almost guarantee this side will be an end-of-year favourite, and at the very least should be a vivid, humbling reminder that untold joys remain undiscovered in the archives of so many artists form this fertile era of underground, or should we say ‘Below The Horizon’ music.
Self-titled debut by The Other Years, a new duo from Louisville, Kentucky comprised of Heather Summers (banjo, guitar, vocals) and Anna Krippenstapel (fiddle, guitar).
"The brilliant 10 song album was recorded over 3 days in a cabin outside Louisville and engineered by Daniel Martin Moore. Uncut Magazine heaped some early praise, saying the bands “combination of crystalline vocal harmonies, Krippenstapel’s fiddles lines and Summers’ contributions on banjo and guitar signals the duos fealty to the Appalachian traditions… [but] their music does not represent a retreat into an idealized pre-industrial past… Instead it’s full of pathways that lead to the present, whether the endpoint is a shadowy corner or a vista.”