San Antonio, TX’s Der Kindestod speaks in an arcane, extreme, futuristic language of noise and dance music on a hard-edged debut with Rabit’s Halcyon Veil
An integral associate of House of Kenzo, Der Kindestod delivers an acrid taste of queer US dance culture’s mutant fringes on ‘God As Daddy The Deranged’. Firstly whipping up a bitter tornado of ecstatically colourful noise, booming bass, and reversed rhythms in ‘You Don’t Believe Me’, before roping in LEDEF on vocals for the queasy tumult and emosh prang out of ‘Mortal Coil’, and then, outta nowhere slugging hardcore techno against Diane Di Prima’s spoken word on ‘Numb Flesh’.
Ill, blue and blunted techno mutations by the one and only Craig Clouse a.k.a. Shit & Shine
Unusually enough, it’s taken $&$ thus far into 2018 to cough up their first release of the year, and even weirder still, it’s one of their most brooding, blackened and minimalist in recent memory.
The key is the title, ‘Bad Vibes’, explored in nine increasingly evil parts that unfold with all the fun of a vicious acid trip that leaves you clammy palmed and clawing the walls.
No doubt it’s all written from experience, taking us on a frayed ride from the early of Badalamenti/Lynch noir ’n Bass in ‘Bottle Brush’, thru the body-gurning disco of ‘Yeah I’m On Acid!’, to the heart-racing bilge pump of ‘Northwest Pool’, and the honky, Powell-esque clodhopper ’7896’, to take us right down the rabbit hole with ‘Backstage Passes!’, and leave us with the spirit-gnawing noise of ‘Bad Vibes’ and the discoid slope of ‘At The Bar On The Rocks’.
Punch Drunk & Tectonic pay dues to pivotal Bristol duo Smith & Mighty with an unmissable compilation marking 30 years of crucial, if overlooked, influence on Avon bass styles and the UK scene at large. Anyone into dubby strains of breakbeat rave, jungle, dubstep - the ‘ardcore ‘nuum - needs to check this one!
Weighing in 10 massive riddims recorded between 1988-1994, ‘The Ashley Road Sessions’ drills down to the mutant roots of deep, UK rave music as a synthesis of Jamaican dub, rolling hip hop breaks, deep house pads and nagging electronics - a sound that was arguably unprecedented in British dance music for its bias toward proper, wide and glutinous subbass and stoned, rolling structures, rather than wide-eyed nuttiness.
Back in the late ‘80s this sound sort of had parallels in the rolling dance forms of SoYo bleep techno and NYC house, but Smith & Mighty were out on their own in Bristol, a city steeped in Caribbean culture perhaps more than any other in the UK. It was here that Smith & Mighty shaped a definitive Bristol sound at the time when The Wild Bunch and Massive Attack were also coming into their own. It’s maybe stating the obvious that Massive Attack have had the most financial success since then, but ask almost any Bristolian DJ or raver and they’ll tell you Smith & Mighty were the real dons of that era.
‘Ashley Road Sessions’ is another timely reminder, then, where needed, of S&M’s masterfully grooving, deep and rude style. Stepping down the timeline from Bristol Sound Archive’s ‘The Three Stripe Collection 1985-1990’ to the most critical phase of UK rave music circa 1988-1994, you’ll hear acid house moulded for play on proper sound systems, with proper scoops that could recreate the sensuous pressure of their subs and crisp, lithe percussion and filigree moire of FX. Sounds that could equally work in a big dance or a packed, smoky blues, provided the system was rite and nice.
If pushed to pick favourites from this set, we’d highlight the bare bones pressure of ‘Through A Dark Cloud’, where the division between UK steppers dub, D&B and hard techno is only a slight pattern change; also the beautiful slow chuggers’ recoil and spine-tracing arps of ‘Higher Than Tempo’; the skittish jungle dexterity of ‘Filmscore’; the haunting dread dub dirge ‘Tumbling (Death March)’; and the proper ravers’ spesh, ‘Always Be There (Step Up)’, but we’d be remiss to not state it’s all killer, absolutely no filler.
For any with an interest in the history of UK dance music, the technoid links between dub and techno, the Black Atlantic, or who simply like getting red-eyed and having a bubble, this set is 100% indispensable.
Distinctively crafty coldwave technopop metrics from London’s Lia Mice, making her debut on Optimo Music. Go straight to the pendulous form and swirling vox of ‘We Are The Beat’ and you’ll know exactly what to do next.
“Here’s a few words from Lia - "When I moved to London in 2015, many things changed at once - I started going to more techno and electro nights, I changed my live-set setup, and I had access to a fully-equipped recording studio through my music masters programme. At the same time I was reading a lot of books on time travel, not just science fiction but also psychology and neuroscience - like how the human brain perceives time from moment to moment, how we can experience overlapping time, and how we interact with our past and future through memory and imagination. “The Sampler As A Time Machine” is the result of all these new influences coming together. The tracks were developed out of ongoing studio experiments interpreting these different ideas of time travel by using samplers and tape to re-sample and manipulate original music performed by me on various instruments including my voice."
Captivating, lower case pop music from Newcastle-based Competition, coming off like Hype Williams meets Autre Ne Veut at Mica Levi’s art-pop research lab. One spin thru the pinched vocals and sample chicanery of ‘thisisfine.gif’ should alert any keener ears to Competition’s modest, naturally effortless, and comfortably fringe pop nous. Tunes you will return to...
“'You turned into a painting' is Competitions's Slip debut: laser-etched micro-songs of bruised vocals, sample grabs, and tenderised chamber MIDI.
Competition is Newcastle-based Craig Pollard, whose confessional productions also spill into curation and a wider visual art practice (much of it, recently, as one third of the 'Wild Pop' crew).
This mini-album sees Craig atomise songcraft, probing its remnants for signs of soul. Like the post-mushroom recall from which it takes its title, 'You turned into a painting' is a queasy scavenging of the mundane. Pollard's voice achingly wears as he circles through lilting observations; his arrangements squeeze something unctuous from innocuous browser snatches and lowly sample packs, eschewing tricksiness in favour of low-key, loving twists.”
Planningtorock - aka Jam Rostron - return with their radical fourth album ‘Powerhouse’ via DFA Records.
"‘Powerhouse’ was written and recorded across Berlin, London, New York and Los Angeles. It comes couched in the precision-tooled synths that have become Rostron’s signature, though critics and fans will hear a subtle, ear worm-y shift in style here: from the Noughties US R&B swagger of ‘Transome’ and the bubbling old school 90s house of ‘Beulah Loves Dancing’ and ‘Non Binary Femme’, to the funky, flute-laced ‘Much To Touch’ (the only track on ‘Powerhouse’ to feature a co-producer, long-time friend and collaborator Olof Dreijer of The Knife).Ultimately, ‘Powerhouse’ is a celebration of liberation, a groove-filled record that sees Rostron consolidating power both personal and artistic."
‘Local Guide’ is a super bonny turn of BoC or Offshore-like electronic fancies from North Sea Dialect, here marking their debut with Glasgow’s Numbers powerhouse...
A slightly anxious yet murkily optimistic suite inspired by a move from Glasgow across Scotland (presumably to somewhere by the North Sea), ‘Local Guide’ is a singular album composed in isolation but riddled with other voices and spirits. It’s the sound of industry battered by the elements, and a record that finely relays the sense of introspection associated with long hours captivated by the choppy blue mass that separates Eastern Scotland and North-eastern England from mainland Europe.
From this inhospitable environment, NSD turns a wealth of inspiration into 10 spiralling, foaming and crashing figures that evoke the serenity of rural freedom and the churning might of the sea, transducing image-sound with a viscerally synaesthetic effect that perfuses and sloshes thru the album, from the briny folk tang of ‘Rodent Tribe’ and the bobbing scales of ‘October Horse’ at its fore, thru more tumultuous and fleeting passages of back masked folk song and cold industrial spaces, to pieces of gnarled, salt-eaten electronics with a grippingly expressive quality comparable to Arca and Shapednoise, if they were partial to Tartan.
Ilpo Väisänen pays powerful tribute to Mika Vainio (1963-2017), his friend and creative partner in the legendary Pan Sonic, on a staggering suite of solo production riddled with field recordings of their 2000 world tour.
Treading singular, familiar territory for anyone acquainted with Pan Sonic, the 14 vignettes of ‘I-LP-ON’ invoke the awesome might of Pan Sonic at the crest of their groundbreaking prowess, when they were arguably among the first acts to alloy industrial, dub, ambient and club music into a genuinely new, yet timeless form.
The recordings were made between Kuopio, Barcelona and Karttula, and feature all the hallmarks of Ilpo’s solo practice that also appeared in Pan Sonic - head-caving subbass, scratchy percussion and sublimated tones - with Mika’s presence lingering in the timbral aura thanks to field recordings of their world tour.
There’s no need to point out highlights - ‘ÄÄNET’ is guaranteed heavyweight and best served cold and in one go for optimal impact.
The Gasman riffs off on classic IDM themes in ‘Controlled Hallucination’, delivering all the curdled, bittersweet harmonies, feathered techno and breaks and playful hooks an IDM diehard could hope for - and with the added bonus of ‘80s FM synth sounds carried over from his ‘Aeriform’ album for the entry level synth fans of the Stranger Things soundtrack.
“Since being signed by Planet Mu in 2003, The Gasman has been prolifically releasing music. The Gasman's second album for Onomatopoeia and 19th overall, "Controlled Hallucination" finds the Portsmouth-based electronic auteur in a rich vein of form. Blending the slick 80s-inflected production of 2016's acclaimed "Aeriform" with a cross-section of his trademark skittering arpeggios, ethereal dream chords and restlessly inventive beats, "C.H." is at once a career highlight and a step in a new direction. A strong dancefloor focus (see opening banger "New Chair") takes turns with more introspective moments, and the extraordinary journey taken by album centrepiece "Wizards Sleeve" acts as a microcosm for the whole collection, four sides of relentless invention during which no musical stone is left unturned. An expansive, involving album, by turns mature and charmingly immature, sparkling with inspiration yet fully focused, "Controlled Hallucination" is a perfect entry point into The Gasman's unique sonic vision, sure to delight long-term fans and new heads alike.”
Tender ambient-pop and neo-classical fluffiness from Thomas Knak (System, Opiate) and Nils Frahm for the spiritual home of such stuff; Berlin’s Morr Music
“"Plus" is a collaborative effort with piano magician Nils Frahm. His purpose-built improvisations on synth, organ and piano served as source material for the members of System (Thomas Knak, Anders Remmer & Jesper Skaaning), who merged his warm acoustic tones with their minimalist digitalism and set out to translate their distinctive clicks ’n’ cuts electronics into vivid soundscapes. Over two years in the making, the resulting nine tracks are as sonically intriguing as they are touching. Ranging from the mellow bliss of the title track to echoes of 90’s and 2000’s electronica and ambient sequences frequented by mesmerizing movements and sounds.”
The six-piece group, led by bandleader Jake Long, bring a fresh slant to the weighty spiritual jazz tradition.
"The album’s title alludes to a small, secluded park which bandleader Jake Long would often retreat to, whose peaceful surrounds were the setting for regular moments of reflection. It’s also a reference to London. Or to be more specific, the side of London which has helped nurture him and his peers: rehearsal rooms, friend’s houses and intimate venues. Its band members, Amané Suganami, Twm Dylan, Tim Doyle, Yahael Camara-Onono, Shirley Tetteh and Nubya Garcia, the latter of whom played a part in shaping the early sound of the band, are musicians who’ve come through the same circles as Long.
It was recorded across three days in mid-2018. The songs have grown out of their live sets over the past year or two, where each of them would take shape in rehearsals to then be tweaked as they worked out different approaches to them in their performances. It’s an organic kind of refinement, and one that’s audible in the music: songs unfold slowly, each of their parts given time to breathe, building up to crescendos which are patiently earnt.
It’s possible to trace a personal geography of music, place and memory just through the album’s track titles. On ‘Osiris’, the track’s beguiling melodies are framed in terms of Egyptian mythology, imagery prompted by old books that Long found in his grandparents’ house; ‘Azure’ hints at the blues forms winding their way through the track’s textured wandering; ‘Eaglehurst Place’, where a tense, rhythmic groove drives the track forward, is reference to a house share with musical peers like Joe Armon-Jones, Femi Koleoso and Rosie Turton.
Spiritual jazz is a tradition that’s leaden with its own traditions, histories and stories. Maisha carve out out their own style through that weight of expectation: they take stock of that history, channelling the greats like Pharoah Sanders, while filtering their own influences – which range from jazz to Afrobeat – through every part of their musical process. It’s a sound which rests on trance-inducing rhythms, instinctive musical interchange and repeated, deeply enriching melodic refrains. It’s a combination which has made for their own singular sound."
Immersive, organic mixture of intricate, small sound dub ecology and stoned dream-pop soul from Sunun - backed with a dead cranky Kinlaw remix - marking her debut on the excellent Bokeh Versions after compilation appearance for Limbo Tapes. RIYL Marina Rosenfeld, Jabu, Ossia
“Sunun has a luring command of dials and limbs and drum skins that’s as grounded as it’s mystical - these machines have ghosts in them. Between Ooid’s modulated insect noises and crushed cymbals there are stories of when & why things were recorded that adds an aching humanity to the 5 machine dub pulses on her first official release. People who’ve seen her live have witnessed Sunun’s forest of wires and microphones and harps all feeding her 20 channel desk. She dubs it old-world style, but the results are always forward - making a 22nd century chorus from thousands of years of human feedback. The Sunun ecosystem is perfectly synthesised in Max Kelan’s unsettling VHS body-shot for ‘Dark Just’, filmed on location in Western Super Mare (mostly Pier 2).
Sunun’s a familiar shape in the shadows of Bristol’s sound circuit - from Kuumba Centre to Cosies to Trinity. Her monthly residency on Noods Radio is titled by the mantra ‘Everything is Drum’ - and plays out to a teething Stokes Croft through the studio windows. She first took to the mic at Bokeh Sound w/ Jay Glass Dubs and Avon Terror Corps member Kinlaw (No Corner / Ceramics); who closes Ooid in classic discomix style with a remix of ‘Dark Just’. Ooid predates both their work in Avon Terror Corps by up to 1 year.”
A smart contrast of styles between Georgia’s playfully frenetic polyrhythms and the expansive, improvised greyscale investigations of Giuseppe Ielasi and Nicola Ratti’s Bellows
“The first in a series of split vinyls concerning dependencies, miscommunication and increasing complexity in our media- saturated digital era. Georgia and Bellows inaugurate the decouple ][ series with works between futuristic eclecticism and avant-garde pan-aesthetics, where musical themes flow tangentially. Similar, but without effectively engaging one another. A metaphor for a world of surfaces.
Recorded in Georgia’s Chinatown NYC studio, ‘Tiwala sa buani’ abruptly throw us into freaky percussion clusters constructed from heavily processed sounds which seem to keep in balance just by the magic of repetitions. Justin Tripp and Brian Close’s stylistic fusion acts like an antidote against GPS localization, with sounds and voices more reminiscent of data flowing through a proxy server than an acoustic performance - a myriad of tiny elements resonates with the multi-cultural a-geographic perception of a contemporary metropolis. ‘A Habitual Sway’ (an anagram of the first title) flows more slowly, mixing hypnotic rhythmic percussions loops, melodic sketches and controlled distortions into sophisticated layers. Naïve digital strings pads incursions widen the picture further. Georgia run an NTS monthly residency of oddball electronics.
Digging into their sound archive, Bellows build an immersive Konrad-esque 19 mins of humid and winding electronics with ‘Untitled’. Drawing on years of improvising experience, Nicola Ratti and Giuseppe Ielasi take a puristic avant-garde approach, using tape loops, static, modular synths and field recordings. A subtle nostalgia pervades the whole work - the music sneaks through lush, decadent dystopian visions like in a travelogue. Mallets, statics, cut-up white noise, synthetic kiks and uncannily pitched voices branch out like roots, while digital birds whistle all around in an aquatic atmosphere, perhaps suggesting an ironic take on ‘orientalism’ - down to the river’s delta.”
Bonaventure follows her hyped-up ‘Free Lutangu’ debut with a rugged, bittersweet turn for Planet Mu, including strong ‘floor workouts in a pent-up and driving title cut and the banging ‘Impetus’.
“'Mentor' is a homage to people whom inspire her, a gesture towards engagement and interaction with individuals and subjects she cares about - a research on the responsibility of learning and the process of teaching and sharing information.
The EP is tough and melodic, overtly propelled by rhythms drawn from Kizumba, Tarraxo, Coupé-Décalé and European dance music. She talks about the 'Poles' that make up the sample bank of sounds she uses in her production, I am constantly organising my samples into natural and un-natural sounds, European and African sounds. What’s more the sound feels rippling and subterranean; there’s a strange slime-like alienness weaving it’s way through the mix across the EP, informed in part by Soraya's recent reading list of science fiction, playing on how alien entities penetrate and transform bodies but also themes of how humanity sees mentorship in extra-terrestrial forms of life.
Gentle Opener 'Physarum', named after a particularly intelligent slime has a hopeful melody over drums that could be a dubbed take on trap, as noises stretch out and shimmer underneath, against a muffled human voice. Stirring to life with splintering sounds, 'Mentor' has a martial 138 beat, which rolls out through an elastic, stretchy atmosphere before focusing on synths and a triumphant chorus. 'Nemesis' has pitch-bent keys and bell-like melodies with drums that build and intersect into dense shapes. 'Colony', featuring Debby Friday, is a deep space dive into muffled dubbed electronic voices, crunching, constantly evolving drums, invaded by noise and synthy drones. 'Impetus' mixes insectoid cross-hatching rhythms with hard kick drums and strange voice-like chords, breaking into the kind of loopy, tense sample melodies that recall the heady dread of darkside rave anthems until the creepy metallic scrapes flood in. 'Both' features a shivering repeated mantra written and performed by Hannah Black whom she has collaborated on previously in the performance Anxietina alongside Ebba Fransén Waldhör. When the grounding message of this mantra ends, the mood of the track is lifted through a soaring, curious melody, set against shaky drums. It creates a feeling, which summarises the nature of the record beautifully.”
Sibling duo Elisabetta and Emanuele Porcinai conjure an absorbingly glum sort of electro-acoustic, ambient songcraft on ‘Threads’, their first record as Aperture. Traces of Felicia Atkinson’s ephemeral narrations, the shoegazing labour of Grouper, and the decayed wist of Cotton Goods all spring to mind inside.
“Together they produce elegantly brooding songs and intoxicating spoken word, written via free associative methods.Their debut album Threads is the culmination of some full decade gradually conjoining Emanuele’s musical practice with Elisabetta’s spoken word and poetry (previously only deployed in conjunction with her work as a visual artist). It sees the duo drift onto fertile new sonic ground, somewhere between the emotional intensity of performance art and fringe electronic music at its most expressionistic.
Threads is an exploration of aural intimacy, with domestic sound sources forming a vital element of the album’s musical bedrock. Rhythms built from footfalls and table-tapping sit comfortably alongside lush synthesizers, wistful pianos, and ambient washes, all backing up Elisabetta’s penetrating spoken words. The musical and verbal halves of Aperture play with free association and improvisation alike.”
After leaving us reeling with the electrifying Sounds of Sisso compilation (keep an eye out for more news on that!), Nyege Nyege Tapes introduce a scintillating and darker take on traditional Bugandan drumming with Nihiloxica’s debut battery of percussion and stark synth work.
Revolving around seven percussionists plus one kit drum and a synth, their eponymous debut is a deeply grounded but sparking session recorded in single takes at Boutiq Studios in Kampala, Uganda between 26-29th August, 2017. Seriously, it could hardly be any fresher, and as with all the Nyege Nyege Tapes so far, gives a rare survey of new, and perhaps unpredicted, aspects of East African culture and the way tradition and electronic music are combined in contemporary Uganda - or more specifically the autonomous region of Buganda.
On Nilo we discover a tentative, spooked out meeting of minimal, pointillist drums and dissonant synth pitches that hunch and roll out like some meeting of Mark Ernestus and Coil, before Choir Chops finds its feet with Gqom like stamping punctuation, then attacks with proper, distorted punk attitude in a way that’s bloody hard to ignore on the ‘floor.
On Endongo they chill out a bit with something like a haunted house/kwaito budge driven by swollen, snarling bass and rent to the night sky with discordant, light polluting synth buzz, then Kadodi locks into formation with breathless rush of drums, drums, and well aye, more fucking drums - just how we like it - and saving a killer twist in the tail end.
A proper baddun, this. Don’t sleep!
Wonderfully unpredictable electronic eddies and whorls redolent of natural forms, from Students of Decay label founder Alex Cobb (Taiga remains), fully bringing his Etelin project to life after an offering on Opal Tapes. Great stuff...
“Hui Terra. The dreamlike shape of the half-heard word, abstracts with faint impressions of bucolic landscape, or handfuls of translucent and brightly-colored gemstones that hold odd, elusive, asymmetrical form. This enchanting, gently surreal debut album from Alex Cobb's Etelin project explores the power and playfulness of impulsive action diffused through electro-acoustic and ambient sound.
This music was created with digital synthesizers and a sampler in the four months immediately following the birth of his first child, a hazy period marked by a lack of regular sleep and a diet of INA-GRM, Nuno Canavarro's Plux Quba (1988), and Microstoria's Init Ding (1995) records that appeared to produce both stimulating and soothing effects on a newborn's nascent consciousness. Recorded and arranged at all hours, this is an album that reflects on moments of tumult and fragility. Cobb sews small sharpnesses and surprises into its movements to uncover different aspects of each sound source, doubling as hypnic starts cast to advance and vary the narrative in subtle and unexpected ways. Sound and atmosphere manifest in eccentric, alchemical fashion, as though forming in processes of sublimation -- solids dissipating into vapor -- and deposition -- clouds resolving and dropping to the ground in piles -- to an obscure and domestic rhythm.
There's the purveying sense of moving within the boundaries of small, hermetic ecosystem. This is underscored and doused by a slow, blooming sense of warmth; growing joy without bombast. Even the more startling textures conceal this same truth and emphasis, such as the alien, sour salt-butter electronic babble in "Little Rig", largely sampled from Cobb's son's voice at just a week old. It is emotional music -- devoted, affectionate, and playful."
Rugged, atom-smashing dubs from Konrad Wehrmeister, debuting on Munich’s Ilian Tape
Following the course of Konrad’s releases for Public Possession and SVS, the Munich native plays out 6 elusive, disembodied and tail-chasing duppies, strafing from the streaking contrails of ‘Eins’ into bristling, splintered steppers styles on ‘GeigerCounter’, then with weightless elan in ‘TDA’, and with a tender, beatless touch in the lovely ‘Vestak’ and ‘Movie’.
Nate Archer & Aaron Coyes (Peaking Lights/Rahdunes) ride the cosmic wave on two colourfully noisy, fruity proto-house jams for Rush Hour's No Label series. Their A-side 'Jungle Dancing' jaunt is built for the baggy phreaks with loping bassline, layers of tropical percussion and a celestial synth buzz akin to Heiroglyphic Being at his most laidback and Balearic, all coated in sun-cracked and humid tape crackle. Flipside 'Wave Riding' cruises a crest of churning, hi-end psychedelic pan pipe and synth froth over lumbering post-punk dub bassline.
After breaking radio silence with the ace ‘Night Theatre Volume One’, Linkwood pushes a super plush Detroit electrofunk on Firecracker
With classic Cybotron/Juan Atkins and Mr. De in mind, the Edinburgh don sparks up the vocoder to introduce a full fat electrofunk swing flared with G-Funk chords and riffs on the A-side’s ‘Fresh Gildans’, giving the new skool electronauts a classic history lesson in the process.
On the B-side he switches to a sort of Juan-styled dub techno abstraction with the crispy, deep-fried flow of ‘Solar Panel’, before slipping into the silky but piquant, Afro-cubed hustle of ‘Another Late Night’ for a more intimate twist of modular tweaks and scissoring syncopation.
American-born multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer Peter Broderick returns with the score for the award-winning animation of the same name, inspired by an early recording of his, plus a 9-minute electronic rework on the B-side titled Techno For Lemurs.
"Fairly often we see albums of “Music inspired by the film __”, but less common is a film inspired by music. Such is the case with Two Balloons. Director Mark C. Smith got the idea for his nine-minute stop frame animation film while out at sea, looking at a majestic funnel cloud in the distance. Shortly after he heard a song by Peter Broderick from one of his earliest recordings — 4 Track Songs — and the music struck a chord so strongly, he knew he wanted to make a film to fit the melody. And so began the five-year labour of love that would eventually produce this enchanting little film, currently circulating film festivals around the world and racking up countless awards and accolades including ‘Best Original Music Score’ at the New Renaissance Film Festival in Amsterdam.
Even though the film was inspired by an older Broderick composition, the score for Two Balloons was recorded from scratch, revised and expanded to fit each frame. The process of stop frame animation is a labour intensive and painstaking one, but the attention to detail didn’t stop at the picture for this film. The score was an integral part of the film from the very beginning, with both the director and composer going to great lengths to experiment not only with the composition itself, but also the fidelity. The first sound heard on the score is a piano playing a waltz figure, and the sound is noticeably lo-fi, but this isn’t just some modern digital trickery. This piano was recorded on a wire recorder, a recording technology that predates magnetic tape and has been virtually forgotten about.
In the process of recording the score, many different technologies were experimented with. In addition to purchasing and refurbishing several wire recorders, the director at one stage acquired several massive AM radio consoles as well as an AM radio transmitter, so that a digital recording from the computer could be broadcast through the AM radio waves and then captured through one of these nostalgic sounding old radios. A variety of these technologies from different eras were used to create a score that both sounds like it’s from several different time periods and from no specific time at all.
The B-side, if you will, is more than just a remix that recycles the original recordings. In fact none of the original parts have been re-used. ‘Techno For Lemurs’ is a homage to the two main characters in the story, the ring-tailed lemurs Bernard and Elba. Serving as Broderick’s first foray into the world of techno, this playful piece reinterprets the melodic themes from the original score by adapting them with electronic instrumentation. In Peter’s own words: “Let’s pretend for nine minutes that we’re ring-tailed lemurs and get this party started!”
The perfect companion to the David Hollander curated book Unusual Sounds: The Hidden History of Library Music, this 20 track LP encapsulates the niche and fascinating subculture of library music.
"In the heyday of low-budget television and scrappy genre filmmaking, producers who needed a soundtrack for their commercial entertainments could reach for a selection of library music: LPs of stock recordings whose contents fit any mood required. Though at the time, the use of such records was mostly a cost-cutting manoeuvre for productions that couldn’t afford to hire their own composer, the industry soon took on its own life: library publishers became major financial successes, and much of the work they released was truly extraordinary. In fact, many of these anonymous or pseudonymous scores-on-demand were crafted by the some of the greatest musical minds of the late 20th century—expert musicians and innovative composers who revelled in the freedoms offered, paradoxically, by this most corporate of fields. Unusual Sounds is a deep dive into a musical universe that has, until now, been accessible only to producers and record collectors; a celebration of this strange industry and an examination of its unique place at the nexus of art and commerce.
Genres were spliced, conventions dispensed with, and oftentimes hybrid music of astonishing complexity was produced. Elements of rock, jazz, soul, even twentieth-century avant-garde composition were all utilized, and no stone was left unturned. As a result, some of the best library music defies all categorization, reflecting the individualistic quirks and artistry of the various musicians who made it. This compilation includes compositions by Brainticket founder Joel Vandroogenbroeck, KPM Allstars John Cameron and Keith Mansfield, Montenegrin-born composer Janko Nilović, and the Italian film composer Stefano Torossi amongst others. David Hollander is a producer, music supervisor, writer and collector living in Texas. A lifelong record collector, his library music collection is considered by many to be one of the finest of its kind in the world."
Bright, colourful modular magick from Mountains’ Koen Holtkamp in BEAST mode
“BEAST is a new project by composer Koen Holtkamp, known for his sweeping, maximalist work with Mountains, as well as his labyrinthian solo recordings. While taking some time away from music to focus on working with light and color his approach shifted, opening himself up to new working methods which led to the creation of a virtual ensemble of sorts. The process of refocusing on music found Holtkamp gravitating towards pieces centered on simple rhythmic patterns which, when built upon one another, create elaborately intertwining castles of sound. On Ens, Holtkamp reins in his sprawling sound with new resolve, crafting tightly constructed pieces of engaging and ecstatic beauty.
Ens was made during a time of anticipation of change for Holtkamp: the birth of his first child. Having recorded and mixed the album late at night and at odd hours in the months leading up to the birth and during the early sleepless days of fatherhood, Ens (which means entity or existence) is a profoundly intimate and heartfelt journey into Holtkamp’s psyche. The constant motion created by the ebb and flow of rhythmic elements connects Ens’ diverse compositions and mirrors the building expectation of such a momentous change.
Holtkamp’s initial recordings as BEAST (Vol 1 & Vol 2) were mostly conceived for the immediacy and physicality of performance and were directly linked to a series of visual environments he created with 3D laser projections. As a purely studio project, Ens takes on a more precise and contemplative approach. Moments of blissful grandeur such as the convalescence of melodies in “Paprika Shorts” are at once overwhelming and crystalline in the placement and clarity of each sound. Deceptively simple pieces like “Boketto” and “Miniature” appear more sparse and subtle, but the arrangement of sounds reveal deeper levels of nuance with each listen. By carefully arranging and selecting each element, Holtkamp both references genre tropes, from classical minimalism to beat-driven dance music, and constructs a sound all his own. The intricately detailed depth of field gives the album an almost sculptural presence. This level of detail is underpinned by Holtkamp’s move towards more virtual instrumentation which he utilizes to push beyond the physical limitations of their acoustic equivalents, as well as to synthesize new instruments.
As BEAST, Holtkamp has nimbly altered his process of creating dense, immersive music. Ens stands as not only the culmination of his newfound methods, but also a deeply personal moment. In crafting the graceful and passionate sonic tapestries into compact compositions, BEAST’s Ens masterfully melds the earthbound and the ethereal.”
All killer, no filler 4-way from Amsterdam’s Knekelhuis, turning out rugged, psychoactive dance music from Sabla,Patricia Kokett, Maoupa Mazzochetti, and Job Sifre
Presented as a “document of modern contemporary music”, all tracks could have feasibly been made at any point between 1980 and now, which is pretty symptomatic of these flatland times, to be fair.
Up top, Sabla follows a pair of strong 12”s with Gang of Ducks and Disk with ‘Chant’, a haunting rhythm excursion focussed on pure rhythmelodic cadence and possessed by elusive electronic duppies. Patricia Kokett follows with ‘Luxor’, flipping the script of their slow and heavy ‘Diabel’ 12” with pulsating drums and dizzy hi-register squeal.
On the other side, Maoupa Mazzochetti works a tangy sort of Arabic, aerobic mysticism with the psychedelic spin and bump of ‘644 Beauty Marks’, and Job Sifre leans on the downstroke with the On-U Sound-esque ace, ‘We Are Monsters’.