Deliciously stoned and woozy instrumental funk with a winking Stereolab sensibility, from Toronto’s Badge Époque Ensemble - involving members of U.S. Girls, Blood Ceremony, The Cosmic Range, and Marker Starling, although you could swear they all hail from the ‘70s
“Flute, congas, bass, drums, guitar and clavinet; this unconventional arrangement of instruments intertwine to form the debut album by Badge Époque Ensemble - a group of creative improvisers assembled to perform new, largely instrumental compositions by Maximilian ‘Twig’ Turnbull (formerly Slim Twig).
Badge employs an eclectic cast of characters from the Toronto underground music scene, whose combined experience would take pages to spell out. It includes stints accompanying songwriters Andy Shauf and Marker Starling, outfitting heavies Blood Ceremony and Biblical, and respective careers spent gigging Django-jazz and the classical cannon. Badge’s distinctive sound arises from the diversity of these musical exploits, creating a palpable chemistry well captured on the live-tracked songs that form the group’s self-titled debut.
The record is a collection of densely packed grooves, arranged by committee. Dank set pieces culminate in album standout, ‘Undressed In Solitude’, which features the otherworldly r ’n b of guest vocalist, James Baley. Over 11 simmering minutes, the track defies the contemporary fixations of automated music to convincingly combine sensual and cerebral textures. While it may call to mind an improbable collision between psych-era Stevie Wonder and the whimsically dark, Fantastic Planet score, it is clear we are operating in a post Wu-Tang paradigm. The blocky beats and bit-crushed landscapes of the record at large make for tactile productions (courtesy of a collaboration among producers Steve Chahley, Tony Price and Twig) that can’t be comfortably ascribed to any one particular era of music making. If a crate of library, tropicalia, prog and electric jazz records were flattened into a single 12” and then fed into a sampler, we might approximate the process. Instrumental hip hop by reverse osmosis, a musical perspective where Madlib’s jazz excursions carry as much weight as his sample-laced productions.”
Suzanne Ciani sets text by Baudelaire to wondrous Buchla synth tones in 1969’s ‘Flowers of Evil.’ Better yet are her three studies in shatterproof rhythms and spooky abstract electronics, ‘Glass Houses’ and ‘Token Spokes’. All newly excavated and issued by Finders Keepers
“As a genuine vanguard of electronic music composition at the forefront of the modular synthesiser revolution in the late 1960s, Suzanne Ciani’s forward-thinking approach to new music would rarely look to the past for inspiration, which makes this unheard composition from 1969 a rare exception to the collective futurist vision of Ciani and synthesiser designer Don Buchla. In choosing to adapt the controversial prose of French poet Charles Baudelaire, Suzanne would join the ranks of ongoing generations of pioneering musicians like Olivier Messiaen, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Serge Gainsbourg, Etron Fou Leloublan, Celtic Frost and Marc Almond (not forgetting Star Trek’s William Shatner!), all equally inspired by the 19th century writer’s works of “modernité” (modernity), a self-coined term dedicated to capturing the eeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, best exempli ed in his symbolic, erotic and macabre ode to Parisian industrialisation, Les Fleurs du mal (Flowers Of Evil).
In her varied career that would combine art gallery installations, major lm soundtrackings and commissions for Atari, Suzanne Ciani’s earliest experiments remain some of her most challenging, beguiling and timeless... Flowers Of Evil ticks all the above boxes and icks switches that would power-up a new uncharted universe of her own musical modernité. For the many enthusiasts that have already drawn the parallels between Baudelaire’s writings and experimental/ electronic music (a relationship rivalled only by the likes of J. G. Ballard and Aldous Huxley) some might instantly recognise an unconscious sistership between this recording and another 1969 electronic adaptation of Flowers Of Evil by celebrated female electronic composer Ruth White. An interesting distinction of White’s excellent version of Flowers Of Evil (released via Limelight records, home to the likes of Fifty Foot Hose and Paul Bley) is that its dark tone generation and vocal manipulation was created with a Moog synthesiser, the commercially triumphant rival to Suzanne and Don’s Buchla Systems (Buchla and Moog’s historic, simultaneous, neck-and-neck synth developments are well documented.)
The fact that Ciani’s version was never intended for commercial release (not unlike her 1975 Buchla concerts, which could easily have taken Morton Subotnick’s Bull by the horns!) is also poetically re ective of the nature of Ciani and Buchla’s alternative perspective. The choice to present this extract from Flowers Of Evil in its intended French language further distances Ciani’s faithful reaction from some of its better-known variations. Having attempted to voice the poem herself, the multilingual Italian-American composer’s French accent did not meet her own standards, resulting in the request for a fellow unnamed French student who lived on campus at Mills College in Oakland to accurately verbalise the section of Baudelaire’s collection entitled Élévation.”
Serenely arriving in SFV acid’s slipstream for Ekster, ‘Immute’ sees Chinatown, NYC’s Georgia at their most spacious, calming and meditative following their recent, mind-bending ‘Time’ LP It's among the subtlest examples of the duo’s fusion of tech and tradition, stripping right back to precisely melodic percussion, woodwind, vocals and electronics in six sparingly minimal and spacious arrangements.
The first half is concerned with exquisitely tender and melodic motifs in a 4th World Japanese style, pull of gently pitch bent tones, rippling flute and glowing percussive harmonies that arrive at lovely junctures of jazz-fusion and Japanese minimalism in ‘Teccmonc’ and endlessly reverberant choral composition in ‘Bendires Trasher’. However, the 2nd half gradually grows denser with the transition from spiritual jazz gestures to rushing tribal tresillo rhythms n ‘Endocrync (Museo De La Revolution)’, and that percussive itch spills out in more unpredictable, almost theatrical/operatic ways in ‘High Light’, to resolve in the refined ambient inceptions of ‘Aoesdawas’.
Yorkshire electrobot Tom Knapp aka SDEM coughs up his 1st 12” of cracky dancefloor complexity on CPU
Unavoidably comparable to Autechre’s nervy tics and the asymmetric ructions of Dalglish, ‘Index Hole’ spurts brittle, overpronating bones and knotted tendons at every angle, rolling out form the hyperstep of ‘Arc Rail’ to crooked hip hop-tyle rhythmic anticipations of ‘BX16’ on the front, then wrestling with sheared metallic textures and gut-twysting bass in ‘Mitherer’, and yoking back to a clunky electro style shades away from his early Skams with Mortal + Chemist.
Nearly 30 years since their debut, Plaid remain supple in their exploration of crafty syncopation and off-key IDM harmonics on their 10th studio album
Yielding their first new material since 2016, ’Polymer’ sees Ed Handley and Andy Turner locate ever more playful electroid angles to their sound while getting further under the skin of its mechanics and making it writhe and pucker from the inside out.
The preceding single tracks ‘Maru’ and ‘Recall’ account for two of the LP’s biggest highlights, along with the tendon-twang funk of ‘Drowned Sea’, and a signature piece of fluffy melancholy in ‘Dancers’.
Blisteringly heavy yet glacially poised black metal galvanised with towering synths
Golden Ashes are yet another excellent new discovery by London’s Aurora Borealis, following from their ace Primitive Knot release into the steepest valley of despair and hopelessness where the sun never penetrates.
“A dreamlike descent into the realm of death. A mystified swansong to the days of hope. A dark return of myths through dying light. Eternity admired through the eyes of the dead. A restorer of all things abandoned by light and life.”
Hannah Rodgers returns with a new Pixx album, ‘Small Mercies’, released on 4AD.
Although love lives at the heart of her second album, it has little to do with romance. ‘Small Mercies’ is absolutely not a heartbreak record, nor is it a celebration of new love, or sisterly call-toarms or vengeful catharsis. Instead, it is a series of poetic examinations of love across the experiential spectrum, from the micro (self-love) to the macro (devotional faith-inspired love, love for this planet), set to a soundtrack that mixes electronic pop and grungy guitar rock with aplomb.
‘Small Mercies’ follows the 23 year-old’s debut album, ‘The Age Of Anxiety’ (2017) - an unsettling synth-pop record fuelled by Pixx’s own debilitating experience of angst - and 2015’s forlorn and folkedged ‘Fall In’ EP. Co-produced by Simon Byrt (who worked on both her EP and debut album) and Dan Carey, it sees Pixx assuming different personas to examine the damage done by religion, gender-based power hierarchies and stereotypes, the tipping point of Earth’s destruction and love."
Ooooosh! Pirate radio recordings made in Bristol between the late ‘80s to early ‘00s - the latest tape from Death Is Not The End, issued as part of the cherry-picked Blowing Up The Workshop series. It's a fucking goodun..
Celebrated for their archival dives into historic musical blindspots of the past 100 years, Death Is Not The End this time focus closer to home (and within our lifetimes) with what they describe as "A trip across the frequencies of Bristol's pirate radio stations via cut-ups of broadcasts, taken from the late 1980s to the early 2000s ~ also a love-letter to my childhood, an audio document of the years I spent growing up in the city.”
Traversing the dial from raucous soundclash recordings to Blues Dance soul, and taking in mighty blasts of jungle, wafts of warbling Indian music, and, of course, a f*ckload of dub and dancehall, its all spliced with a mix of heartrendingly sweet and hilarious radio phone ins and jingles = supremely heavy vibes.
Debut collaboration between like-minded English underground titans, perfectly mixing the long-form pop eccentricities of Grumbling Fur with the free electric sound of Astral Social Club to produce four epic and memorable tracks.
"The music is dense and layered, with hidden hooks, haunting vocals, unidentifiable electronic shuddering, delicate ambience, etc. Challenging but completely accessible and beautiful stuff. After a brief vocal declaration of purpose, “Back To The Egg” rides a motorik pulse ala Harmonia or Kraftwerk for ten hypnotic minutes. “Three Years Apart” pulses gently in a burbling cloud, reminding that along with crafting song gems, Grumbling Fur has collaborated with noted avantcomposer / performer Charlemagne Palestine. “Ozone Antifreeze Intelligence” layers electronics over a haunting piano and vocal melody, framed by subliminal fuzz guitar. “Toejam Boxdrum” closes the album with an uproarious polyrhythm hidden by more layers of soft-focus electrofizz, gradually giving way to thick bass riffs and tremelo’d interjections."
Rediscovery of Klaus Schulze’s “long lost” soundtrack for Aussie Gothic classic ‘Next of Kin’ finally surfacing on The Roundtable, newly restored and remastered from original tapes
“Praised by Quentin Tarantino as one of the greatest films from Australian New Wave cinema, Next Of Kin (1982) was a highly stylised psychological thriller in the bloody tradition of European art-Horror. Scored by none other than ex-Tangerine Dream/Ash Ra Tempel drummer and German electronic music pioneer Klaus Schulze, the music featured in the film was a unique hybrid of pulsing Giallo-moods and hypnotic Berlin-School electronica.
Due to the limited availability of the film over the years, rumours have long circulated amongst horror film fans as well as ‘Krautrock’ enthusiasts alike that a lost Klaus Schulze soundtrack existed. Commissioned to write the score, it is true that Schulze composed an original full-length soundtrack for Next Of Kin, although for editorial reasons the complete score was rejected at the last moment by the filmmakers in favour of using pre-existing tracks from Schulze’s studio albums. The final soundtrack consisted of partial elements of this rejected score together with various pieces of early 80s Schulze recordings edited and re-contextualized. Finally rediscovered, the music has been assembled and presented here exactly as featured in the film, documenting a previously lost entry of German Kosmische Musik soundtracking a forgotten piece of Australian Gothic.”
Edward Vesala and Jimi Tenor’s free jazz duo City of Women return to Sähkö nearly 20 years after their first and only appearance, and 20 years since Vesala sadly passed away before the first LP was issued
‘City of Women II’ was recorded in the same session as their debut and explores similarly free set of coordinates, even reiterating on one of the original tracks, ‘Tablakone’ in the flanging drive of ‘Tabulatuuri’ , which sounds a lot like Moritz Von Oswald and Tony Allen’s MvO Trio.
The rest is wider, abstract and off-road, or even in the middle of a busy intersection with the honking madness of ‘Dangerous Crossing’, while the quiet flute and tempered oscillators of ‘Autoharp’ point at more esoteric psychedelic inspiration, and ‘Heat Birth’ heads out along kosmiche vectors.
Free jazz meets house and electronics in the first of two archival releases by City Of Women, recorded and due for release 20 years ago, before the band’s “free” catalyst Edward Vesala passed away
In a series of wild tussles collaborating with Jimi Tenor, percussionist Vesala charged City Of Women with a febrile energy that still resonates 20 years later with tracks such as the frayed hustle of ‘Tablakone’ that essentially paved the way for MvO Trio, whereas the wild rhythms of ‘Veivikone’ and the shrieking battery of ‘City of Women’ are just singular slices of jazzy madness.
Amazing and unique private soul/jazz-funk fusion LP, the first release (1980) on Andrew Scott Potter and David Eric Tillman’s PO/ET label. Sublime from the beginning to the end, it has become, just like their second and final release “…Space…Rapture…”, a sought-after collector’s item.
"Andrew and Eric both come from Chicago. They met in the early 70's, shortly after Eric's discharge from the U.S. Air Force. They played together on the local jazz scene for several years (among others, with Maulawi). During that period, Andrew also toured with Minnie Riperton and Eric toured with The Dells, Linda Clifford and others. In the late 70's Eric left Chicago for Los Angeles, when he began touring with The Temptations. Since moving to California Eric has played and/or recorded with a variety of artists, including, Willie Bobo, Justo Almario, Alex Acuna, Norman Connors, Billy Paul, GAP Band, Linda Hopkins, Billy Higgins, O.C. Smith, and many others."
Berlin’s Felix Krone unfurls an hour of “ambient cinema” on the 4th Nullpunkt drop proper
Over two sides he coaxes out a glacial transition from icily melodic bleeps and streaking cosmic electronics into freezing-cold, isolationist dimensions in a barely perceptible segues between the pointillist and smudged designs that recalls Kareem’s two slabs of the dark stuff (Porto Ronco + The Garden of Time) as much as the haunted air of his namesake, Karim Maas. In other words; an arch Berlin ambient record.
Grime’s OG class clown gets loose and freaky on four instrumentals from the archive
Up top he runs out the Riko Dan-sampling trample of ‘Kill All A’ Dem’ and the bandy-legged wobbler, ‘Taliban’, which is far dafter than the title implies, while the backside is loaded with DVA’s angular remix of MC Mega’s Most Wanted cut ‘Dangerous Liasons’, and the sidewinding tribal wickedness of his take on Wiley’s ‘Apocalypto’.
Paulor’s wobbly electro-disco trips backed with remixes from Vitalic, JD Twitch, and Superpitcher
Run to the Vitalic remix of ‘Spaceship’ for a proper, pie-eyed disco power-up, then to Fango the Suppa Robot Dancer’s remix for a Latin Freestyle and EBM-referencing ace, and JD Twitch’s smart hybrid of early hardcore and cosmic disco crafted from the same base elements.
Full spectrum juke and footwork styles from the scene’s Aussie outlier, Jake William Innes, or DJ Innes to the rave
Clocking up stacks of 160bpm gear along with swerves into old skool jacking tempos and cunty ballroom bangers, ‘Shouts Out!’ is a lot of fun, finding a canny balance between authentic Chicago flair and dare-to-be-different tweaks through a mixture of collabs with the likes of Traxman & Boylan plus link-ups with ballroom specialist Divoli S’vere and Be3k.
Make sure to check out the mad cunty juke bubbler ’Naked Rewerk’ featuring Be3k and the footworking ballroom fusion of ‘Ckunt Fevah Hi-Temp Rewerk’.
Italy’s Nicola Loporchio nods to classic Italo dream house as Cosmic Garden for Hot Haus Recs
Deep house grooves, dewy-eyed pads, twinkling melodies - they’re all in the mix, stirred with delicate digits to bring the floor up between the hair-kissing sign of ‘Rhythm of Life’, the strolling and whistling ‘High Life’, a fruity bubbler named ‘Infinity’, and proper subaquatic sex vibes in ‘Experience.’
Rafael Anton Irisarri and Ron Trent present divergent de/re-constructions of solo piano and ambient songs from David August’s ‘D’Angelo’ LP
Taking the sylvan keys of ‘Florence’, Irisarri returns a swell of dilapidated harmonic spectres and looming choral voices in hi patented style, while deep house demigod Ron Trent turns ‘Elysian Fields’ into an effortless breezy 11 minutes of strolling disco-house magick escalating into a body-owning tribal churn.
4Hero’s Marc Mac delivers 17 summery golden-era style hiphop instrumentals raw and direct from his MPC
One of two LPs alongside the ‘Blue’ side, they contain some 38 beats between them, including many which have previously starred vocals, but all available as instrumentals for the first time.
The vibe recalls classic killer Madlib and J Dilla beat tapes from over a decade ago, with tracks seamlessly segued (there are no individual track markers) and primed for listeners to drop the needle, sit back, and spark up.
Berlin-based cineastes, bookworms and musicians Dice Miller and Enir Da aka Fith cross paths with Ran$om Note’s Outer Reaches sublabel in a strong follow-up to their 2016 LP for Berlin/Salford intermedia co-op, Wanda
Last heard on the ‘Saints of Cinema’ CD in ’17 with Ono’s Michael Holland, Dice Miller is a commanding presence under the spotlight of ‘Swamp’, channelling the clipped post-punk enunciation of Anne Clarke or Angela Conway in crisply dreamy style over efficiently psychedelic, minimal production by Enir Da, landing somewhere between Tolouse Low Trax/Toresch/Decha, the ‘Decoder’ soundtrack, and Dome.
“The project, currently comprised of members Dice Miller, Enir Da, Rachel Margetts, ChrIs Lmx, and Arnaud Mathé gesture towards notions of the literary salon, expanded cinema happenings, and the ancient traditions of Greek oratory and religious sermons. With Swamp, FITH become a refined force on a record where all their compelling pluralities and attributes are honed and augmented; everything dilated to delirium.”
Penelope Trappe’s excellent 2nd album remixed by Mogwai, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Paul Corley, Nik Colk Void, Aasthma, Félicia Atkinson and many others.
Mogwai supply a weatherbeaten rework of ‘Burn On’; Cosey Fanni Tutti isolates the vocal from ‘Carry Me’ with effect with enigmatic magick deafened by her own, smeared brass lines, Paul Corley diffuses ‘Nite Hive’ into somnambulant tranquility, and Nik Colk Void reworks the same elements with a dry rhythmic punch. Peder Mannerfelt & Pär Grindvik’s Aasthma turn ‘Connector’ into a febrile piece of hardcore dream-pop; and Félicia Atkinson sees the LP out with a sublime aesthetic flipside to Mogwai’s take on ‘Burn On’ full of quiet, sunny day promise.
October & Borai make the 1st dent on Happy Skull’s 2019 with a kinky EBM girder ‘Fatal Rumba’ b/w a grizzled Bash & T remix
On the title track’s rude push they join the dots between classic Chi-house Trax, Liaisons Dangereuses’ EBM for the first half, before noctilucent Detroit/UK pads send the killer groove into orbit. Proper club tackle, no doubt.
B-side, ‘Bash & T offer a ruddier, dubbed-out smudge of the lead cut, and October & Borai double down on a grotty EBM/jakbeat style with the grubby lope of ‘Swipe Left’.
Fracture galvanises OG jungle and footwork flexes with exacting, up-to-date production for his 1985 Music label.
Swing Ting’s Fox lends an original Caribbean sweetness to the vacuum-tight jump-up rolige and pinched early rave stabs of ‘Give Me Love’ before the instrumentals roll out fully between the clenched/lush hardstep pressure of ‘Feel 4 U’, the barrelling Digital-style rolige of ‘Realise’ with Alix Perez, and the bouncing bomb, ‘Brothers and Sisters’.
As light as a warm breeze on skin, Earthen Sea’s latest album for Kranky ‘Grass and Trees’ showcases Jacob Long’s natural sensitivity for low-key, enchanting electronic sound craft.
Bobbing gently in the wake of 2017’s ‘An Act of love’ and ‘A Restless Gaze’ outings, Earthen Sea’s ‘Grass and Trees’ channels a liminal mix of spatialized, organically warm-sounding tones that run into each with the quality of watercolours, as characterised in the sleeve art. But where previous Earthen Sea outings were yoked to a regular pulses, there’s a finer push and pull of syncopated, latinate rhythms that works under the surface of ‘Grass and Trees’, lending the whole album a delicious slink that pulls listeners right into its wavey motion. Fans of Gas, Strategy, Beatrice Dillon, or even those breezy Werkbund bits, need apply!
“Jacob Long's reductionist rhythmic ambient vessel, Earthen Sea, ebbs towards a more purely elemental state on his second excursion for Kranky, Grass and Trees. He describes the creative process as one of "simplifying things as much as possible," designing uncluttered spaces traced in nothing but breath, field recordings, and "sounds that could be played by hand but weren't." The results feel decentralized but dynamic, low-lit evocations of ambiguous nocturnal environments - dub techno disassembled into stray pulses and spare parts. It's a music both interior and infinite, languorous yet transformative, made in the outer boroughs of a metropolis but attuned to its own liminal wilderness.
Long's vision is a grounding one, rooted in the physical body but attuned to larger currents: "In response to living in a fairly hectic city, and at a very hectic time for the world at large, creating something more drawn back and restrained felt appropriate."
For the last twelve years The Pheromoans have occupied their own peculiar niche in the UK's DIY music scene.
"'County Lines' is their fifth full-length and takes in each aspect of their past sonically, providing a wry tonic for today's heady exhaustion.More of life's banalities and stale daydreams are given a good airing in Russel Walker's lyrics.
Delivered with the usual droll lethargy, he's a septic entertainer par excellence who teases out just enough of the very real horror of the UK's current predicament to keep his aggrievements charming.
At times-see Troll Attack-it's a crushing lament. 'County Lines' weaves Walker in and out of meandering guitars and crude drum machines that waltz and tumble with live drums.
Brittle synths light the way to the album's aggravated sections, which ever so gently hark back to the group's earliest recordings.
The penultimate piece, Ultra Skies, offers the clearest trace of The Pheromoans' past. The frenzy edges us into a reverberating trance, pulling a sucker punch like an inconclusive nightmare."
Synth expert JakoJako applies her nous to four deep, dark and sensuous techno rollers and electro tangents
The sleek efficiency of opener ‘F22.0’ clearly speaks to JakoJako’s background in Berlin techno, while ‘Kogn. Dissonanz’ follows her shift into more pensive, cavernous ambeint-electro dimensions with exacting production recalling classic Monolake.
On the flip ‘Resilienz’ again exhibits a knack for subtle sound design, this time applied to a slinky minimal house swing and spiralling chromatic pads with a breezy 2nd wind, and ‘Katharsis’ impressively sidewinds off into a sort of instrumental, dubbed-out synth-pop with a gorgeous, fluttering lead and drifting choral voices.