Kelman Duran, D.K., Stenny, Don’t DJ, Sara Berts, XIII, Mana, Azu Tiwaline, Katatonic Silentio and many more toss their keys in the pot for Gang of Ducks’ infinite paradise comp
It’s a fine exercise in world building and storytelling, gathering far flung operators under a banner of off 4th world exploration at the dance floor’s fringes and stranger integers. Currently on a major roll, Kelman Duran open with the immersive collage of vocal samples, cinematic strings and hazed percussion in ’188’, and local Italian artist Mana draws proceedings to a smart close with the contemporary composition of ‘Rain To Come’ echoing James Ferraro and Maxwell Sterling works.
In the vast space between; Ilian Tapes’ Stenny takes the opportunity to work out the straightjacket dembow groove of ‘Varisum’, and Black Zone Myth Chant follows suit with the squashed glitches of ‘Brom’. There’s strong percussive tackle from Turin’s Black Seed on a sort of Muslimgauze flex, ritualistic rhythmelodies by the dynamo D.K., and ultrasubtle, swingeing tekkers by Don’t DJ, while the headier content is supplied by label co-founder XIII with the glittering chamber classicism of ‘Senza Gamba Danza’, plumes of frothy ambient arps by Sara Berts, and the subaquatic fantasy of ‘Underwater temple’ from Catatonic Silentio.
Incinerated minimal dub dirt from Michael Beckett (aka kptmichigan) that reinterprets Harry Smith's iconic 1952 "Anthology of American Folk Music" as Chain Reaction-esque soundscapes. It's a wild idea that's executed with rare skill and restraint - fans of Vladislav Delay, Rhythm & Sound, Gas, or even Fatische boss Jan Jelinek, you won't wanna sleep on this one.
Who would have thought that using Harry Smith's 1950s Folkways recordings - a defining set of American musical history culled from the filmmaker's extensive 78RPM record collection - as the basis for a dub techno remix project would birth good material? It sounds like a comedy project, not least because Beckett remixed every single one of six-album set's 84 tracks on the record's original 2013 cassette release. But this new reissue, handily pared down to just 13 outstanding cuts, is proof that occasionally, a hilariously high-concept idea can reap rewards.
On the original release, Beckett translated the title of Smith's set into his local "Low German" dialect, and used a sampler and effects pedals to disassemble the material, sometimes banging out multiple remixes in a day. Interpreting the recordings in this manner - turning crackling folk into cavernous dub and undulating ambience - Beckett makes an interesting statement about the evolving back-and-forth between Europe and the USA. Music that was rooted Europe and transformed by the influence of enslaved Africans on American soil is shuttled back to Europe, where imported Jamaican recording processes are employed by a German producer. It's almost poetic.
There's little left of the dulcimer, zither, fiddle, banjo and harmonica sounds that populated Smith's anthology. But the texture of the sounds is just about recognizable in Beckett's slim, rhythmic variations. He takes the hum of these vintage recordings and fashions them into looping tracks that mirror Basic Channel or Rhythm & Sound at their most abstract or Wolfgang Voigt at his most uncompromising. It's distinctly German music that's inspired, directed and buoyed by African and European folk traditions, and there's really little else like it.
Outstanding sacrifice of cybergoth dancepop by New York’s X Harlow, hexing lines between Arca, Burial, The Cure and Alex Zhang Hungtai on ace, exploratory label, Sweat Equity NYC
One of the most striking new works we’ve heard in a minute, ‘Cathars’ ventures the 2nd part of a triptych started with 2020’s ‘Anchorite’, and continues X Harlow’s unique trajectory thru cthonic realms of coldwave pop with strong, seamlessly incorporated influence from UK dance music and Latin freestyle. It’s a dead special consolidation of disparate cues, strafing the shadows of many subgenres but beholden to none of them, and crucially draws on and evokes its heavy, non-musical inspirations - countercultural medieval gnosticism, personal health issues, contemporary socio-politics - in a way that doesn’t feel cloying or distract from its self-evidently expressive results.
Under a titular nod to the unorthodox Christian movement originating between the 12th and 14th centuries, ‘Cathars’ is quite literally one for the heretics, and quite possibly a crafty pun on the cathartic power of goth music. With vocals that step to the right side of the current emo-indie/sad rap tropes, they adapt the framework of classic coldwave - gloaming minor key motifs and shivering negative space - with seamlessly woven nods to the trills of Latin electro freestyle and UKG in a way we’ve simply not heard like this before.
The sepulchral hymnal ’Apparitioner’ is a case in point, underlining This Mortal Coil-esque vox with filleted 2-step and washed out dub, and ‘Light is Gone’ somehow channelling Robert Smith in sad rap steppers style, with ‘Credentes’ nodding toward ‘&&&&&&’ era Arca, and the noctilucent sax of ‘Lost In Her House’ harking to Alex Zhang Hungtai via beat less Burial works. Together with the shimmering choral fantasy of ‘Metempsychosis’ and accomplished, Anni Hogan-esque solo piano coda of ’She Is Found’, it’s unmissable business for listeners of a goth-industrial-dance persuasion, from monochrome types to those who carry it in the inside pocket.
Fluttering, shine-eyed chug by Belfast’s Group Zero, venturing a sort of early morning wonk constructed from trace elements of motorik kosmiche, psychedelic beatdown and deep disco - think Pye Corner Audio, Ssiege, 1991
Member of C86 pop group Girls Names, Cathal Cully aka Group Zero here tempers their pop sensibilities into a more stripped down sound, following their nose for breezy melodies and loping elegant repetition that never tests one’s patience. There’s an unmistakeable shimmer of similarity with Pye Corner Audio’s prized vibe in the delicious synth wow and flutter of ‘Memorial Hall’, and ‘Memorial Deice’ dials up warmest sort of vapourware nostalgia with a fine soupçon of Gaelic romance. The padded throb and lissom arps of ‘You Can See The Dust Crawl’ are surely destined for end of night and the soon afters, while ‘The Club Singer’ trades in nearly 10 minutes of golden gouch out gear.
Exhaustive survey of post punks Normil Hawaiians, charting their development from jagged rock to more melodic and funky inventions over a relatively short period, prior to their members playing on ‘80s Bowie records
“Dark World collects together choice material from Normil Hawaiians' formative early years of 1979-1981. Tagging along with the band from their peppy post-punk origins (so brilliantly debuted on "The Beat Goes On") into the looser, dubbier territories that laid the foundations for the group's landmark album More Wealth Than Money. Dark World gathers the group's energetic 7" singles on Dining Out and Illuminated Records, their metamorphic Gala Failed EP (Red Rhino) and a lively last-minute Peel session from 1980, alongside outtakes, rarities, and demos. During this feverish time, founding member Guy Smith was motivated to make music that reveled in always trying out different things.
Normil Hawaiians was a very fluid ensemble at this point, Guy often accompanied by Kev Armstrong and Jim Lusted encouraged saxophones, violins, synths, pianos and a select pack of female backing singers to take their post-punk sound into wilder directions. One of the earliest line-ups of Normil Hawaiians featured a 15-year-old Janet Armstrong on vocals alongside Guy, "Ventilation" best showcases her deadpan digressions. Janet went on to sing alongside David Bowie a few years later on his breathtaking mid-80s gem "Absolute Beginners". By this point Kev Armstrong was also guesting for Bowie on guitar duties too. Another guest to join the ranks of Normil Hawaiians during this fertile time of cross-pollination was Bertie Marshall (aka Berlin of the proto-punk Bromley Contingent). "Sang Sang" is a good example of how he was inspired to deliver his poetic treatises over the band's atmospheric, floating improvisations. Bertie's impressionistic influence helped the group uncouple further from rock tropes, as they became restless and more rhythmically-focused. "Still Obedient" fidgets, soars and careens across the dancefloor.
By the end of this transformative two years Normil Hawaiians had spun an exceptional chrysalis around themselves. The dark world surrounding wouldn't win out, they'd eaten-up the music and grown continuously, wrote and recorded rapidly, covered Zappa and even David Lynch and could feel the light beginning to shine through. Dark World is a snapshot of a band in flux, finding their feet, stretching their limbs. Normil Hawaiians cover an awful amount of ground in such a short time-frame on this record and these tracks document all the glittering debris from their magpie's nest. Emergent, hopeful and resistant in sound and ethic.”
Keening, listiing experimental club rhythms and sublime ambient from Bristol affiliate Via Maris (Timedance, Livity Sound, Mistry) on yung local label, do you have peace?
Their first release since 2018 witnesses Via Maris explore overpronating polymetrics and vacuum processed vocal idents in the gyring motion of ‘Lekky’, which comes off like Koreless and Batu in hyperspace to our ears, whereas ‘Hiblrr’ changes tack entirely toward glimmering ambient that again recalls the crisp design of Koreless, yet with a woozier, nostalgic attraction and Bristol afterparty glow.
Kelman Duran fades to dusk on this killer, smeared new album of steamy, syncopated kicks, spiritual jazz and haunted, weightless textures, nailing a singular sort of ambient dembow folk modernism that comes with our highest possible recommendation - and especially so if yr feeling Nala Sinephro, Space Afrika, Tara Clerkin Trio, Amazondotcom, Klein, Chino Amobi.
A music of margins and shadows full of pent spirit, ‘Night In Tijuana’ was recorded in the titular border city while Kelman was working as a curator for Tijuana's Otras Obras gallery and finds him strafing between enervated ambient rap pressure and gnashing jazz drums with a real sense of purpose that conveys the worries and joys of his Latin diasporic community. Feeding in elements of classical music, sound collage, and a divergent Afro-Caribbean club pulse, it's a sonic representation of his musical fingerprint, that includes his childhood in Washington Heights and time studying at the prestigious Cal Arts institute - a delirious mix of dance culture and vivid, confident fine art.
From the fraught, anxiously gasping but disciplined drums of ‘Freddie King’, to the woodblock ‘Dancehall, Audubon Ballroom’, thru his flip of Arthur Blythe’s modal free jazz stylings in ‘Lower Nile’, to the dusted dembow techno of the title track, his drums and vibes perfectly say it without saying it thru the first two thirds of the album.
However, it’s the weightless aspects that come to define the album thru its recurrent ‘Aeon’ themes, defining its narrative arc into the final passages, between the smoked gloom of ‘South London BC’ and deftly string-heavy melancholy of ‘For Whitney’, with the ritualistic feel of ‘Night In Tijuana III’ giving way to the noirish masterstroke closure of ‘Last Cinema, (outro) II’, all orienting the album for smoked out nights, harnessing elements of club music to ink deeper elegies.
East Coast minimal wave institution Xeno & Oaklander’s seventh full-length, Vi/deo.
""Vi/deo" further distills their iconic noir synth pop into a streamlined suite of gleaming, graceful retrofuturism. Inspired by ideas of synesthesia, scent, star worship, and obsolescent technologies, the duo of Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride began conceiving the blueprint of Vi/deo while sequestered at their Southern Connecticut home studio during the pandemic. The context of isolation, streaming, and remote dreaming seeped into their chemistry, manifesting as both homage to and me ditation on a certain cinematic strain of technicolor fantasy: the screen as stage, distance disguised as intimacy, where tragedy and glamor crossfade into one.
Opening with the precision synthetic melancholy of “Infinite Sadness,” the album marks a peak fluidity between the pair’s fusion of analog electronics and poetic melody, both refined and oblique, classic but contemporary. Wendelbo modeled her singing on “a young boy in a choir,” alternately holding notes and whispering them, with the lyrics clear, the voice elevated. McBride’s synthesizers serve as the perfect counterpart, tiered and polished, threading fluorescent architectures of a lost audio-visual age. Theirs is a darkwave of reverie and flickering city lights, swooning and sleek, romantic anthe ms for concrete bohemia, cigarette smoke in rainy gardens, and sound as color (“blue is fast and red is slow”). Vi/deo captures the bittersweet beauty of youth and utopias, the wistful transformation from miracle to memory, where love turns unreal and music becomes myth: “Sounds of the underground / Will echo in future days / Feelings of misery / Will fade into the haze.”"
Roberto Carlos Lange’s beautifully beatific Latinx pop-soul warms the cockles on his debut Helado Negro album for 4AD; a slow burn celebration of his South American heritage and nostalgia for the ’80s club music he grew up with
In loving pursuit of the style he’s developed over handfuls of albums for Asthmatic Kitty and more recently RVNG Intl., ‘Far In’ sees Helado Negro further burnish his rose-tinted sound with a sense of intimacy that stems from spending lots of time at home and getting deeper into his sound during lockdown. Referencing a “youth growing up in South Florida listening to 80s club songs, and their return sampled in 90s hip hop”, his 15 songs wash over one with the wooziest daydreaming quality, knitting languorous Latin rhythms to shimmering melodies in a way that, to our ears at least, somehow feel like christmas in a warm place, everything soft focus and lilting with a perennial familiarity that’s seductively disarming and effortlessly comforting.
Typically sung in his bilingual mix of Spanish and english, no matter which language he chooses, Lange’s music conveys the feeling clearly. In key with the notable refinements of his songwriting style over the past decade, ‘Far In’ reaches a new high watermark of classicism as he enters his 3rd decade of releases, nesting a melange of nods to Tropicália, Fleetwood Mac and Beck in his butter smooth transition from the strolling strums of ‘Wake Up Tomorrow’ with its harmonious vox by Bon Iver and Kid Cudi collaborator, Kacy Hill, thru to the glyding yacht rock disco of ‘Aureole’ and the gently insistent dreambop of ‘Outside the Outside’, with bucolic semi-acoustic magic in ‘Wind Conversations’ and Mazzy Star-like tristesse of ‘Thank You Forever.’
New, 2021 recording of Robert Ashley’s acclaimed opera, often performed between ’87-’93 and issued on CD in 1994, here performed by a new cast in its production at Roulette, Brooklyn. It’s a part of the opera tetralogy ’Now Eleanor’s Idea’, a part of Ashley’s larger trilogy of operas including ‘Perfect Lives’ and ‘Atalanta’
“Robert Ashley's eL/Aficionado is a group of scenes from the life of an "agent". The scenes are a kind of "debriefing" to a jury of Interrogators, in which the Interrogators (chorus) challenge the Agent (soloist) in various forms of musical dialogue. The mood of the opera owes much to our fascination with espionage and with the character of those people who lead double lives. The opera was performed many times between 1987 and 1993, and Lovely Music released a recording of the opera in 1994 (LCD 1004CD).
This new studio recording features the cast of the 2021 production (October 21-23 at Roulette, Brooklyn), with mezzo soprano, Kayleigh Butcher, taking over the role formerly inhabited by baritone Thomas Buckner. Recorded at Robert Ashley's studio in July 2021. Orchestration by Robert Ashley and Tom Hamilton. Recorded and mixed by Tom Hamilton. Produced by Tom Hamilton and Mimi Johnson. Personnel/Credits: Music and Libretto by Robert Ashley; Kayleigh Butcher - The Agent; Brian McCorkle - Interrogator No. 1; Bonnie Lander - Interrogator No. 2; Paul Pinto - Interrogator No. 3.
"As labyrinthine as a Robbe-Grillet novel, as pithy as a Pinter play, eL/Aficionado comprises a series of debriefing sessions between a secret agent and his three interrogators. For 70 minutes the work sustains an atmosphere of uneasy calm brilliantly: misty, microtonal electronics provide a sometimes barely audible backdrop to the vocal parts. But don't confuse this with ambient; Ashley's music requires your full attention to appreciate the subtle timbres of his unique sound world... This is another riveting work by one of the world's leading composers of experimental opera." --Chris Blackford, The Wire (1995)
"Enigmatic, cryptic, wonderfully mysterious, eL/ Aficionado has a story line and narrative structure, as do Ashley's previous operas. Though the characters hail from a parallel universe, familiar and alien. The music is austere, simple, even minimalistic, yet utterly compelling. The New York Times was dead-on in proclaiming Ashley 'opera's James Joyce.'" --Dean Suzuki, Wired, 1995”
Unimpeachable neo grime, experimental footwork, hybrid trap, and brutalist acid from NYC mainstays DJ SWISHA and Kush Jones. Serious bass flex fer fans of Rashad, Mumdance, Green Velvet and DJ Manny.
Anyone moaning that there was no good dance music released over quarantine needs to peep this immediately. DJ SWISHA and Kush Jones are trusted NYC brand names at this stage with sprawling varied output, but this collaborative EP inches both their sounds to the next level. Opener 'Snare Track' is most impressive, a lithe nu-grime hybrid that seems to reference Youngstar's enduring 'Pulse X' and Novelist and Mumdance's 'Take Time' while throwing in jungle snares and chop snares and still sounding spacious?
'Torcida' is faster and denser, as rolling hyper-footwork bass backs up whistles and Latin percussion, while title track 'Outta Bounds' picks an acid groove, squelching over doubletime kicks and brittle claps like Phuture on +8. Kush Jones drops pummeling solo banger 'GTB' and SWISHA is kind enough to slow it down on his remix, flipping it into a slithering club-trap shaker.
Dusted deep house suite from Herbert, getting back in the groove for first time in years, and with typically soulful alacrity and patented sound design.
Allied with myriad vocalists (Joy Morgan, Mel Uye-Parker, Bianca Rose, Verushka, Allie Armstrong, Y’akoto, Siân Roseanna and Daisy Godfrey) diffracted across a spectrum of deeper house styles, from dubby to swanging, ambient, jazzy and tropical; Herbert places his signature concrète sampling and sound design tekkers at the service of an easy going sound that expresses the anima of an aesthetic that he’s worked towards for over a quarter century.
With this latest collection primed by some choice reissues, we find Herbert effectively redecorating his metaphorical abode, working with no fewer than eight new vocalists who each lend a subtle shading but hold together as nuanced aspects of a collective voice. From the cloudy smoking room dub ambience of ‘Two Doors’, which places Joy Morgan in very Rhythm & Sound-like settings, to the symphonic soul hall of ‘Gold Dust’ with a purring Bianca Rose, who also lights the up-stepper ‘Chain Reaction,’ and via the butter chords of ‘Hypnotised’ with an effervescent Mel Uye-Parker, thru to the tip of tongue downbeat sensation in ‘The Way’ with Y’koto, and delicious Detroit beatdown nod ‘Tell Me A Secret’ featuring Siân Roseanna, and spry 2-step/broken beat depth of ‘Be Young’, there’s no mistaking this is Herbert back to his emotive best.
Duppy Gun/Roolingz Musik crooner RDL Shellah comes correct with a SKRS-produced maxi EP that hovers between Anderson Paak's dusted soul and vintage lovers rock, spiked with an expectedly psychedelic twist.
Formerly known as RDL, RDL Shellah impressed earlier in the year with his Smurphy-produced 'Streets' 7". Now he's back to mark the opening of the Duppy Gun / Bokeh Versions / Roolings Muzik studio in Jamaica. Funded by Bandcamp sales, the studio was built by I Jahbar, who wanted to provide creative guidance - as well as engineering knowhow - for Jamaica's young vocalists. "Showcase" is the first music to emerge from the completed studio, and it's a roaring success.
Canadian collective Seekersinternational handle the production, tapping into their obsession with lovers rock (last witnessed on the "LoversDedicationStation" album) to shock the concept with their constantly shifting, FX-heavy style. So tracks like opener 'Turn Mi On' and lead single 'Bad Wine' distort slippery backdrops of dusted funk drums and smoove electric piano with unexpected rhythmic twists and production quirks that aptly coalesce with Shellah's impressive vocals.
On 'Come Out', SKRS drop a library funk riddim, but Shellah fires it into the future with his rapid-fire rhymes and limber Autotuned choruses. 'Rich Mi Proud' draws a dotted line from Kingston to London with a rattling nu-grime riddim and muted bars from Shellah, while 'Touch Road' sounds like a collision of Dipset, DMZ and Shabba Ranks.
Los Angeles-based bassist and regular Sam Gendel collaborator Sam Wilkes teams up with some likeminded friends to build on the febrile funk of 'One Theme' and shuttle it into lively prog-jazz territory. Synth-blasted, improv nu-jazz sunshine that's part Carlos Niño, part Quincy Jones, part Tortoise and part Dilla.
The album springs out of a defined theme - fittingly the opening track - and spirals from that point, cascading in various disparate improvised directions.
'Phillips' is an early highlight, focusing on an analog synth part that sounds as if it's been trapped in a Space Echo loop, before 'The Drums' sharply follows and hones in on overdriven drums that could have been chopped from Broadcast's underrated "Haha Sound". On 'Chris Fishman' the album nudges into more abstract territory as the percussion gets more purposed and eventually more chaotic, and cosmic synth improvisations hark back to Sun Ra before tapping into a fresh 4/4 Detroit splatter.
The album feels as if it gets free-er as it progresses, snowballing quickly into Chicago post-rock territory while keeping an eye planter on the fusion canon - and the last three tracks are the most out-there on the album. Channeling the spiritual energy of Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane, Wilkes and his collaborators dip into pure beat scene psychedelia, closing on 'The 3rd', a track so faded you're likely to get a contact high.
One of electronic music's most influential recordings, the legendary E2-E4 gets a digital release for the first time, carefully overseen by the man himself.
An epochal classic, most readers of these pages will know the story, but to indulge you with a recap, Gottsching emerged from the midst of electronic krautrock heroes Ashra tempel and in 1981, off the back of a Klaus Schulze tour, sat down one evening and dropped a continuous piece of music which was eerily to predicate the arc of dance music for a quarter of a century.
Early adopters in the Chicago and Detroit warehouses and mediterranean pleasure palaces must have thrilled to the balanced and continuous surging flow of the hour long piece - even over two sides the mix is perfect for building a club atmosphere and suggesting avenues for mixing, whilst using merely two chords throughout. the minimalism offsets the percussive splendour perfectly - several years later the tune was rediscovered and co-opted into the huge italo house smash Sueno Latino, which cemented its foundation in the burgeoning balearic scene of the time and proceeded through several spells of rapturous revival throughout the nineties, not least when figures like Carl Craig and Basic Channel issued their own radically different reshapes and remakes of the piece.
Very satisfying then to have this Gottsching sanctioned edition, where the game might truly be said to have begun in earnest. As they say on the august walls of the Hardwax emporium - buy or die.
The classic Brummie techno dispatch rears up for a 21st anniversary reissue with a reshuffled track-list but still packing all the meat and gristle
Forged by the Downwards (and Sandwell District) co-founders for their Berlin allies, ‘Againstnature’ is distinguished in their catalogues for its mix of signature, slinky pounders and a quota of beat-less, tonal, atmospheric works that hailed the duo’s other tastes and prefaced future directions for Regis, at least.
Those beat-less pieces patently resonate with the duo’s interests beyond the pale of techno proper, with the clangourous industrial workshop atmospheres of ‘Washing My Hands’, the fetid hush and post-battlefield string pads of ‘Paralysing,’ and the martial sashay of ‘Under Skin’ and lending a curious sidespin to the track sequencing, which is more dominated by their swingeingly sexy techno muscle.
If the techno’s what you’re after though, some get it at best between the nagging greyscale minimalism of ‘Let Them Bleed,’ the full throttle tribalism of ‘Nothing And No One,’ the prototype BMB-sounding ‘Meat’; the locked in, humid pelt of ‘Hanoi Hanoi’ with its drilling vocal sample; and the unyielding gallop of ‘Guiltless.’
'Single' isn't just a reissue of Pub's similarly-titled 2002 set, it properly rounds up the Glaswegian dub techno reductionist's first three 12"s and adds a couple of vinyl exclusives. Long-form blunted dancefloor haziness never sounded so lovely: imagine Various Artists/T++, The Black Dog, BoC and Manuel Göttsching locked in a room wth some synths, drum machines and echo boxes.
Hot on the heels of last year's much needed 'Do You Ever Regret Pantomime?' reissue comes this equally levitational set of Caledonian miasma, remastered at Berlin's Dubplates & Mastering. It's the best way to widen yer appreciation of the Ampoule boss's early work, especially if you've only come across his debut album and the 'Summer' EP. 'Single' is basically a photo album of Pub's earliest experiments, and kicks off fittingly with 'Lunch', from his 1999-released 12" "Lick/Lunch". When that record originally dropped, Pub was only 18 years old and was penning his extended dub-phoric jams on a single synthesizer/workstation.
The rudimentary DIY methodology adds to the raw emotionality of the material. It sounds as if Pub is very slowly conducting the loose, trance-influenced arpeggios and dusty rhythms and shifting them carefully in-and-out of frame on the fly almost like Manuel Göttsching on the Biblical "E2-E4". There's a physicality to the music that sounds alien in an era where DAWs are practically unavoidable, and it's sobering to recall. 'Springing Daisy's' is a truncated version of the "Springing Daisy's Mix" of 'Film' (from 2002's "Derail" 12"), turning up on "Single" again to close the collection, shortened from almost 15 minutes to 10 and aptly renamed 'Short Film'.
Both versions center around Pub's innate ability to take basic ingredients - in this case a single melodic loop and a distorted T++ style rhythm - and sublime them into gaseous traces of their constituent parts. 'Springing Daisy's' is the "pop" version - short, sharp, beat heavy - and 'Short Film' (a vinyl exclusive) is the abstracted, Basic Channel-influenced inversion, detuning the melody and torching the rhythm into an acidic fizz. 'Derail' is included too, and has never sounded better, showcasing Pub at his most dissociated and melancholy with a distant BoC hum couched in a thick fog of reverberating resonance.
2003's 'Surgery' rounds up the early run, and displays Pub's artistic progression, moving a few steps out of the murk and allowing the drums to push into near-dancefloor territory on the title track. And the new edition is finished off with the trancey 'Kamikazi', a track from the original "> Single" that's never made it to vinyl before.
Indonesian mentallists Raja Kirik arrive in hot pursuit of Gabber Modus Operandi’s iconoclastic mash of roots and futurism on a pure madness for Nyege Nyege Tapes.
Yet another jaw-dropper dispatched via NNT’s Kampala nexus; ‘Rampokan’ fires off a full frontal invocation of possessive, trance-inducing spirits inspired by the Javanese heritage of Yennu Ariendra & J. Mo’ong Santoso Pribadi, aka Raja Kirik. Rooted in Java’s struggles with colonial oppression, their music takes bedevilling form as a wide-eyed sort of shamanic trance music galvanised by Dutch hardstyle kicks and noisily free electronica, careening from cut to cut with an exhilarating energy focussed into high BPM body rattlers that no doubt shake the senses and fiercely illustrate their impetus in a directly physical but allegorical way that only music can convey quite like this.
Under a titular reference to “a colonial era arena battle between spearmen, criminals and wild animals… ceremonial fights [that] illustrate the strength of the Javanese Royal Kingdoms in the face of the Dutch East Indies government” the empire strikes back in the most brutally artful style across ‘Rampokan’. Synching mind/body in a vital barrage of 11 tracks, they draw implicit parallels with oppression of African slaves in Brazil who conceived Capoeira as a stealth mode of dancing-meets-martial arts, specifically drawing on the Jaranan, or Jathilan, a Hindu-Buddhist era dance from the c.11th that likewise symbolised ways that the proto-proletariat of Java could overcome their rulers by means of agility and evasion.
This is dance music with a meaning that makes much other Western dance music pale in comparison. Between its totemic durational works such as the blistering ‘Bujang Ganong’ and the roiling bruiser ‘Tana Prahara’ - which both tilt around and over the 12 minute mark - to its ghoulish clashes of phantasmic doom and sour trance riffs in ‘Rampokan I’, they charge up a powerful sound with potential to send ravers reeling, variously dispatching panic-stations free jazz horns on ‘Kubro’ and metaphorically machine-gunning the ruling classes before trampling on their cadavers and gleefully ringing gamelan in ‘DOR.’
Perky but gauzy ‘80s new wave nostalgia by Chris Stewart’s Black Marble. Glistening with vantage-styled hooks and pulsing synths.
“On Fast Idol, LA-based Black Marble reaches back through time to connect with the forgotten bedroom kids of the analogue era, the halcyon days of icy hooks and warbly synths always on the edge of going out of tune. Harmonies are piped in across the expanse of space, and lyrics capture conversations that seem to come from another room, repeat an accusation overheard, or speak as if in sleep of interpersonal struggles distilled down to one subconscious phrase. At the same time, percussive elements feel forward and cut through the mix with toms counting off the measures like a lost tribe broadcasting through the bass and tops of a basement club soundsystem.
Fast Idol is Stewart's fourth full-length album and his second for Sacred Bones. His previous album Bigger than Life was written in the face of cultural shifts in the US, in experiencing these he realised he was not keyed into certain negative sentiments that were bubbling below the surface, which were breaking out into the open. “I chose to try and take the approach of a soothsayer writing from a macro level, trying to find strands of connection between us because it didn’t feel appropriate to create something self referential and gloomy at the time,” he says.
Now, Fast Idol sees him return to a sentiment and process that defined the earlier days of Black Marble, in a return to his intuitive song writing process where songs land as impressionistic snippets of daily conflicts, and people struggle with the challenge of trying to move through the world. “People don’t expect me to be responsible for altering their outlook or mood, they come to hear something that meets them where they are. I trusted on this record that if I stayed in that space and created things from that more mysterious place, it would connect with others.”
'Array' is a set of detailed and dense collages of radar and scientific instrumentation recordings made at a polar research station in Antarctica and spiced up with live synth improvisation. Basically sounds like an alternative soundtrack to John Carpenter's "The Thing" - so good!
The album is a companion piece to Philip Samartzis and Eugene Ughetti's performance-installation work "Polar Force" and builds on the duo's ideas that intend to reflect the stress of extreme weather events like freezing temperatures and high velocity winds. The field recordings are the first thing to notice, and set the scene perfectly with polar gusts hitting creaky metal and anonymous radio transmissions illustrating a story we can't quite comprehend.
'Katabatic Wind Pt. 1' begins with a wobbly resonant drone, but is slowly engulfed in creaks, whooshes and cracks as the weather takes hold completely. In the second part, these sounds are magnified to create a cinematic widescreen, emphasizing the desolation and unfriendliness of the location with detailed field recordings and ramping up anxiety with buried rhythmic blasts.
On the final composition 'Medium Frequency Spaced Array Radars' the environmental recordings are all but gone, and careful synthwork is put in focus to represent the icy, alien landscape. Water droplets can just about be made out in the background, suggesting a presence it's impossible to escape from. Suffocating and powerful sounds!
Elemental Antarctic field recordings layered and processed to model and evoke the regions’s weather dynamics with hyperreal attention to detail
“From Eugene Ughetti: As Philip was preparing to leave for his second Australian Antarctic Division residency, he invited me to lunch to discuss the possibility of collaborating on a new work. He recounted his first experience on the ice, where the surrounding landscapes seemed to articulate avant-garde percussion works of an epic scale. On this visit, he wanted his field work to explicitly shape the formation of a new performance work with a particular focus on katabatic winds in and around Casey Base station.
Intrigued, I accepted the challenge provided I could create a live performance utilising the same recorded materials of ice, air and water. We undertook an ambitious collaboration with sound, instrument, lighting and industrial designers, a dramaturg and percussionist.
For Polar Force we built an environment, a white inflatable structure reminiscent of a remote research station on the ice. Emanating from outside the space come the complex and foreboding sounds of the natural environment, inside, a live event akin to scientific research in sound occurs. This hour-long performance installation work gives rise to a hyper-realistic sensing of Antarctica, bursting with natural beauty, power and the audible evidence of human impact.”
Laser-etched chords, Timba-esque tabla drums and nocturnal blooz from the autonomic D&B dream team
One of the first link-ups from dBridge & Instra:mental in nearly a decade sees the UK veterans in supremely classy form on ‘What We Got’, tickling tabla drums recalling late ‘90s Timbaland productions into a mercurial roller dabbed with dBridge’s signature, autotune falsetto and glimmering chords that can’t help remind of SND’s ‘4,5,6’ bewts. ‘Serena’s Theme’ is starker, electroid, working dry 808 dreams into a brittle funk softened by arcing pads for the late night swingers.
Call Super pipes up on his and Parris’ label with two bumpty, sidewinding house rollers in his patented, warm and woozy style
Stemming from a previous project entitled ‘Tell Me I Didn’t Choose This’, the tracks came about as a reflection on “a period in their life of upheaval, trauma and self-discovery”, and find relief in a blend of influences from jazzy Chicago and UK house, Detroit techno, and rooted West African rhythms.
‘Tree Song’ evolves over 10 minutes of wooden drums and bumbling square bass synched into a infectious lather of overlapping patterns hypnotically smeared with dub FX and floating pads. ‘bodiesinheaven II’ follows with a nimbly weft mix of West African and Detroit inspirations, knitting intricate drums to kaotic harmonies in a trusted manner bound to get eyes dreamily rolling in backa heads.
Intensely quiet, artful improv duelling by Korean and Argentinian players, allowing for lots of pent lacunæ and often hovering on the liminal. RIYL Okkyung Lee, Keiji Haino, Senyawa
“The debut album by international power duo DASOMxVIOLETA, a virtuosic meeting of minds between Seoul's Dasom Baek (traditional Korean flutes) and Violeta García (cello) of Buenos Aires. <Absence> is the sound of two leading composers and improvisers pushing their instruments to the technical and creative limit, then beyond into places unnavigated, futuristic and often haunting.
Dasom and Violeta tussle with playful and brutal mastery between passages of sparse melody, acrobatic percussion and harmonic drift, while interjecting voices fracture and reassemble into intimate, improbable forms. It is hard to imagine an album more abundant in ideas and motifs, all atomised as soon as they are brought to life. The effect is a tapestry of rugged spirits - moving, and at times just plain beautiful.
Recommended for fans of Okkyung Lee, John Butcher, Messiaen, and Ernst Reijseger.”
Gantz is your pusher man on a batch of groggy, beatdown post-dubstep permutations
Continuing to sidewind from his original dubstep base, Turkish producer Gantz diversifies and expands his stylistic bonds with a handful of smoky, enigmatic works that roughly echo the OG sound.
His atmospheric sound design skills come to the fore with Lynchian or Coil-like effect in the shivering voices, finger-click percussion and gloaming pads of ‘Axxon N’, setting a mise-en-scene that he lazily explores between the Burial-esque ‘Sleepless Elite’, screwed 303 lines on ‘Pusher Acid’, and sort of cloud rap variant in ‘Chiral’, with ‘Avert Your Eyes Bass’ landing at an ace juncture of Giallo-edsque intrigue and pensive 2-step.
Iconic Japanese experimentalist Phew returns to Mute for first time in 30 years with a haunted and strung out set of barely-there vox and submerged synths
“Rising to prominence with the art-punk group Aunt Sally before her first solo release in 1981, recorded at Conny Plank’s studio in Cologne with Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, Phew isn’t about to go soft on us.
“I wanted to exclude sentimentality,” she says of New Decade. “With the situation at the moment, I’ve got it lucky. Last year, in particular, just being alive was kind of a lucky state of affairs. Being able to openly express how you’re feeling, in spite of all that, is a sort of privilege you have as a musician or artist, and I felt like I shouldn’t abuse it.”
This has been a guiding principle for Phew in recent years, as she has amassed a body of solo work that melds her signature vocals with febrile, droning synthesisers and drum machines. Already well accustomed to working in isolation at home, keeping her voice down in order not to annoy the neighbours, New Decade is a stark and haunted album, populated by voices that intone empty pleasantries in English and Japanese or manifest as wordless shrieks and groans, against a backdrop of fractured, dubbed-out electronics.
Phew explains that there’s a loose concept running through the album, relating to the perception of time. “During the ’80s, and up until the ’90s, things progressed along a line from past to present to future, but I think that’s changed, especially since the start of the 21st century. Personally speaking, I’ve stopped being able to see a future that extends from the present.”
This is reflected in the unplaceable character of her current work. It’s not deliberately retro in the manner of many analogue synth revivalists, nor does Phew waste time trying to catch up with the latest trends. It’s music out of time, resonating to its own peculiar frequency.
Coby Sey, Jlin, Moor Mother, CHAINES, and Nazira rework songs from the debut album by British-Kazakh classical violinist and experimental composer Galya Bisengalieva
Fielding a broad range of remixers, ‘Aralkum Aralas’ sees Galya’s arrangements reinterpreted in curious ways that loosely relate to her music’s oneiric purview. Most striking among them is Moor Mother’s, adding her foreboding vocals to its widescreen strings in potent fashion, while Jlin also impresses with an unusually reserved and spacious take on ‘Barsa’ making fine use of its visceral high register strings in contrast with her swingeing bass rhythms.
Kazakh DJ/producer Nazira also resets Galya’s work to the floor with more direct pressure in their rolling breakbeat techno take on ‘Kokaral’ primed for pouting club types with its godly breakdown, while it’s left to Coby Sey to provide the set’s most bracing, abstract revision with the brittle drums and haunted choral pads of his killer ‘Aralkum’ remix, and Chaines emphasises the dreamlike nature of the music in a sublime, delicate rework of ‘Zhalanash.’
RVNG.’s FRKWYS foster another dream union with the first/last meeting of Finnish avant-jazz legend Pekka Airaksinen and US psych spirit Ka Baird.
Recorded six months before Pekka Airaksinen departed this mortal coil in 2019, and left behind an unparalleled catalogue of solo trips and work with Sperm, ‘Hungry Shells’ sees him find an ideal foil in Ka Baird, whose freeform solo sides have come to subtly echo Pekka’s mindful psychedelia in the modern sphere.
Brought together for Le Guess Who? festival in Utrecht, Holland, the pair wrote and recorded the album around rehearsals for performance at the festival, drawing on time spent together during long walks around the city’s medieval canals, as well as Pekka’s time meditating in his hotel room, for a wholly absorbing consolidation of their already complementary styles, finely sustaining the radical spirit of the late ‘60s scene that Pekka came from for an album that surely nourishes the psychedelic needs of a new generation.
It’s easy to hear each artist’s hallmarks on the record, with Pekka’s signature 808 patterns and Buddhist texts appearing alongside Ka’s shapeshifting vocals and tonal minimalism, but the results arguably transcend their inputs, eliding their spirits to achieve a sort of probing pineal insight. In a spellbinding back and forth, Ka reads Pekka’s Buddhist parables, divined during meditation, as a constant theme through the record, which is prone to lean heavily between silvery rhythmic works and passages of eye-gyring psych lushness. From the pulsating noise and trilling keys of ‘Big Stoen Small Stone’ to the whirligig of fumes, vox and 808 in ’Syzygy (For Pekka)’, thru the wormhole of ‘Grey Body’ to impishly possessed dance of ‘Roseclouds’ and their spiralling nine minute closer ‘Hungry Shells’ it all delivers at least your RDA of psychedelic goodness, and leaves a fitting testament to the durability and singularity of Pekka’s legendary oeuvre, a legacy Ka Baird is well placed to continue.
Andrew Pekler and Guiseppe Ielasi freeze time on their second full-length, chipping away at old improvisations and sculpting a marble garden of haunted meditations on memory, space and biography. Subtle and reflective, 'Palimpsests' features music for pensive moments that will appeal to fans of Jan Jelinek’s career-best Gramm album, Move D’s Conjoint/Studio Pankow projects and - perhaps most of all - To Rococo Rot’s stunning ‘Veiculo’.
Both veterans with sprawling and diverse catalogues, Pekler and Ielasi find common ground once again on their sequel to 2013's concrète exotica gem 'Holiday For Sampler'. This time they revisit irl improvised collaborations made in Milan in 2015, cutting into the raw material while working apart and shuttling their fresh compositions back and forth. The title hints at this process; a palimpsest is commonly a re-used material leaving traces of its original use - bit like ghosting on old tapes used too many times. Here, the original improvisations are just about visible, peeking out underneath both artists' unique individual studio processes.
Unlike the more austere dimensions of Ielasi’s Bellows recordings with Nicola Ratti, however, Pekler’s contributions here imbue proceedings with the burning embers of midnight jazz, leaving a sparkling trail of keys and atmospheric pads across all 9 movements. On ‘Trebizond’ the Move D / Conjoint connections are at their most evident, all subdued synth romance weaving in and out of synthetic bird calls - you can almost hear Karl Berger’s vibraphone shimmering on top. On ‘Piombino’ the topography is more alien and Radiophonic, while ‘Maratea’ is pure pastoral bliss, a trace echo of wildlife colouring the artificial landscape.
‘Palimpsests’ is poetic and reflective, and with its unusually light-handed and gentle welding of natural and artificial sound sources keeps on sending us back to To Rococo Rot’s stunning ‘Veiculo’, an album that shares its strange confluence of synthetic, looped techniques broken by the emotive power of human connection. Give it a few listens - it’s a real slow-burn stunner.
Decadent, debonaire dance trax from Manny’s eminent DJ/producer Anz, puckering a mix of Latin Freestyle pop, Jersey/B-More bounce and joy-riding speed garage for her debut with Ninja Tune
‘All Hours’ forms the plush follow-up to Anz’ debut on her own label OTMI, serving a more varied and feathered sort of pressure, including a standout first vocal production that sounds ready built for A-list radio play.
Between the EP’s fancy bookends, discerning ravers will find the big highlight of ‘You Could Be’, a lip-smacking update of ‘80s Latin freestyle pop with perfectly measured vocal by George Riley and no small wink at SOPHIE, while ‘Real Enough To Feel Good’ dials up the East Coast US rudeness with tendon-twang bassline and ‘Inna Circle’ pushes the cut ’n paste B-More flex with killer electro chops. ‘Last Before Lights’ is proper mutant speed garage bullet built on wamping bass and lit up with mentasms for the gurners, kinda recalling a UK adjunct to Jasss’ ‘Turbo Olé.’
NZ underground legend Roy Montgomery's third album this year is his darkest yet. 'Rhymes of Chance' is moody dream pop in the mode of Scott Walker or Talk Talk's Mark Hollis = gorgeous, singular music.
'Rhymes of Chance' is a minimalist pop monster, featuring some of Montgomery's most viscerally tear-jerking material. The first side is taken up with the six-part epic 'Rhymes of Chance'; the first two parts feature Montgomery on vocals, wailing over his patented shimmering guitar clouds. It's affecting, melancholy music that only takes on more character when regular collaborator Emma Johnston is brought into the fold on the fifth part.
Johnston's finest moment is on the flipside's 'Losers March' though, a loosely swung, organ-led dirge that sounds like folk music for the ferry ride down the river Styx. It's almost like Beach House on -8%. On closing track 'Aspiratory', a dedication to Mark Hollis, her voice is pulled to pieces by Autotune and frozen in time over bellowing, skyward drones. This is bizarre but unshakeable music from an underground original - if you enjoyed the last two installments "Island of Lost Souls" and "That Best Forgotten Work", you're gonna need this. Montgomery is still an underrated, overlooked treasure, we feel constantly blessed that he's gifting us with such a bounty of new material.
Liz Harris's 12th album is a heart-melting anthology of songs written over the last 15 years. A mixture of 'Dragging A Dead Deer...' emotional rawness and 'AIA' -style tape-dubbed sonic fog, it's a timely reminder of why she's one of the crucial underground voices of the era.
When Harris's early Grouper material began to emerge thru the cracks in the wall of wyrd folk CDRs and hand-made cassette tapes, we could already sense it was something different. There was a bare quality to it that set it out of time: this was music that sounded as harmonious with Slowdive's melancholy shimmer as it did with the Olympia and Washington DIY set. 'Shade' is a career-spanning set that accurately charts her evolution thru the years, running a course that broaches ambient music, Laurel Canyon folk, grunge, dream pop, and everything in-between.
Her music is unified by its unique spirit and personified by Harris's voice - a ubiquitous element that's sometimes an elasticated, ghostly whisper and at others a spiraling coo. On opening track 'Followed the ocean', it's an assured driving force, but her powerful tones are reduced to glowing cinder beneath the burn of overdriven, tape-distorted noise. Words are present, but indecipherable - it's like hearing a song taped from radio and endlessly re-duplicated for heightened ghosting. The fog dissipates on 'Unclean mind', harking back to 'Heavy Water' with a grunge-y strum and angelic moans.
'Shade' is a good title, because the interplay between openness and insularity lies at the heart of the album. From track to track is sounds as if Harris is revealing herself and then retreating under a blanket of tape hiss. 'The way her hair falls' is so clean you could hear a pin drop, making out every nuance in Harris's voice. The biggest surprise is the album's closing track 'Kelso (Blue sky)', where her vocals are finally given a grand treatment, drenched in reverb but completely tangible. The result is a glimmering slice of lingering acid folk that sounds divorced from time and space.
Charming Aussie jangle pop from The Dirty Three's Mick Turner and vocalist Helen Franzmann, aka McKisco. Freewheeling and positive, it's an album that does a lot with few ingredients.
Mick Turner's last solo album was 2013's "Don't Tell the Driver", and since then he'd found himself lacking a vocalist. In 2019 he was introduced to Helen Franzmann and while the two didn't live close (Franzmann was in Brisbane and Turner in Melbourne) they ferried ideas back and forth while planning to record a session for a record. But then COVID-19 happened, and instead of scrapping the plan they collaborated remotely; Turner wrote songs using drums, guitars and synths and Franzmann sung and spoke over them, shifting their focus dramatically. As the songs went back and forth between the two, they developed into something new and completely collaborative.
Listening now, it's hard to tell that "Mess Esque" was produced by musicians working miles from each other. In fact, they've still never met face-to-face, which given the intimacy of the tracks is pretty remarkable.There's a softness to the way the two assembled this record that was maybe aided by the process; there's no showing off, just an attempt to capture real feeling as the world crumbled underfoot.
Starry-eyed nocturnes and rhythmelodic pointillism from NYC’s Tristan Arp, sustaining the run of absorbing albums from Facta and K-Lone’s Wisdom Teeth label
Tristan Arp navigates an ambient safe space beyond the club where aspects of classicism leach into folk and electronic paradigms, with deft touches of feathered dance music drawing comparisons to Call Super or indeed Wisdom Teeth’s in-house sounds, from Steevio’s modular lathers to K-Lone’s ambient dembow deep house bop.
We’ve literally had gypsum in our lugs from ripping down walls recently, and can assure that Tristan Arp’s lissom Afro-Latin trills and bubbling melodies in ‘Gypsum’ are much more pleasant on the ears, forming a hypnotic bop-worthy highlight along with the the sloshing chimes of ‘From The Seams’, whereas the rest of the album is contoured for home listening, from the elegant sway of his baubly harmonics and swaying cello on ‘Pond In Moonlight’ to the levitating ambient harmonics of ‘A Clearing (In Empty Space)’ to the noctilucent aurora borealis lights of ‘Cloud Surface’ that beautifully bring it to a close.
N.M.O.’s Rubén Patiño aka Lag OS cultivates dreamlike imaginary landscapes with a fine grasp of the weird and wonderful uncanny valley of computer music.
Surely the first ever release to come with its own “survival pack” (a camouflage jacket-cum-tent, glowstick and waterpack) - but sadly not on this download edition - ‘Natura Occulta’ investigates a form of synthetic simulacra thru Patiño’s use of computer music to describe wetland environments. His imaginary wetlands act as a metaphor for “the eerie, the amorphous, and the unknown”, probing the subconscious and evoking a spectrum of synaesthetic sensations by textural inference and unheimlich sound design.
The results resemble slimy organisms in a humid ecology of grey/green goop riddled with mycelia, evoking virtual realities where one can almost taste the deciduous petrichor of mulched matter and that strange faint whiff of burned DMT that one sometimes gets from a random bush or cut grass. It starts out musical with legible carillon cadence of ‘Liquid bells’ but proceeds to get much, much more elusive, but equally evocative of stranger spaces, as the tracks gets longer, freakier, misshapen, and mercurial. It gets a bit like dancing to architecture at this point, but safe to say hat fans of EVOL or Rashad Becker’s sound sensitive approach and animist manifestation of electronic music will absolutely be in their element here.
Incredible album of avant-R&B and spectral orchestral wonders finding NYC concrète artist Marina Rosenfeld recording two youth choirs and then layering/phasing them in the most absorbing and provoking way imaginable, poking a spot in our minds somewhere between György Ligeti and Klein.
The first time release of two mesmerising works dating to 2008/2014, performed by groups of teenagers in NYC and London respectively, Rosenfeld is here on typically heady and intuitive form - high in concept, and completely transformative in execution.
The three-part ‘roygbiv&b’ was premiered at MoMA in 2011, with this recording performed in 2014 at the South London Gallery by a local south London youth choir singing XTina acappella’s that were then gently looped, phased and layered by Rosenfeld. The results and just stunning - a wild transposition of avant-garde concept and R&B disciplines into something resembling Klein doing Gaelic Psalm singing; all stereo-phasing multi-part harmonies left mostly untreated, unhurried and airily spacious for minds to wander.
Recorded in NYC’s cavernous Park Avenue Armoury, ‘Teenage Lontano' on the flipside is in essence a “cover” of Gyorgy Ligeti’s 1960’s work structured around dissonant polychords for voice. After marinating for over a decade in her archive since 2008, with only scant glimpses heard on her ‘Plastic Materials’ (2009) CD, the results arrive as one of Marina’s most haunting recordings, mirroring the vertiginous scale and movement of what we loved about her groundbreaking ‘P.A./Hard Love’ album but with a more illusive and haunting sensation arising from its swaying mass and sparing, air-zapping electrocutions. We can only imagine how it would have sounded in the Armory space, but fair to say - the recording conveys the experience in stunning dimensions.
An album that plays like a dream, 'Teenage Lontano’ has got us dangling by a thread, scalp tingling and jaw-dropped. Unmissable.
I-f’s Murder Capital cough up a motherload of Gesloten Cirkel’s legendary work for the label (and Viewlexx), dating back to his debut EP, including the ’Submit X’ album, and covering later 12”s, compilation rarities and digi-only gems. Judging by the title ("Closed Book") - guess it's the end of an era?
Perhaps jogging the mind for some, and introducing the enigmatic producer to others, ‘Gesloten Boekwerk’ is a comprehensive survey of his chops for Murder Capital — which is basically his best work. His fierce electro calling card ’Submit X’ hits from the front, and reminders of his finesse are duly served between that album’s highlights ‘Zombiemachien Acid’, the rocking electro of ‘Arrested Development’ and the badheaded banger ‘Feat Liette’, plus the album’s digital exclusives, ‘Where’s Your Cash’ and ‘Thomas Mensch’ that may have escaped owners of the vinyl.
From his earliest 12” in 2009, the freakish ’Twisted Balloon’ and ’Swedish Lady’ still absolutely slap, while later 12”s are spotlighted with the slamming jakbeat pressure of ‘Chasing The Night Away’ and ‘Perron’, and the 14 minute acid head rinse ‘Never’, with a rarer deep acid electro nugget ‘Asleep’ lifted from Viewlexx’s multi-artist set of 2015. Still one of the best to do it this past decade. No nonsense business.
Serpentine avant art-pop from “open-ended performance group” Katz Mulk, for Russian label Klammklang. Calls to mind everything from The Modern Institute to John Duncan and Laurie Tompkins
“Bringing joy and enormous amount of energy, the UK-based open-ended performance group Katz Mulk join Klammklang with their new full-length Vital Attachments, a documentation of their performances commissioned for the 2019 editions of the Counterflows and Experimentica festivals. Katz Mulk are a many headed hydra, working with sound, voice, movement, sculpture and more, transgressing it into vigorous and multifaceted artworks on the margins of various genres and media.
"look at the space from a low angle and feel the floor" — says the graphic score for the performance. It seems important to follow the instructions so the peculiar sonic events reach your spine, skin, and bones through the floor surface. This music expects you to change your habitual vertical position, reconfigure your senses — to actually use all of them simultaneously while absurdly directing your gaze upwards. The graphic piece with lines and not-so-figurative pictures, despite being an artifact of the particular event, establishes space for participation; it weirdly welcomes everyone to enter the sonic space, explore it, and to see what is being heard at the moment.
The documentation is powerful in its totality — it is not only interesting to listen to, it also encourages on to watch it, dance it, touch it, smell it. Vital is pervasive, it is chaotic as well, but Katz Mulk’s chaos is somehow organized. Structured rhythms are trying to withhold restless sound improvisations and voices that are ready to burst from rapid changes, shifting from one ear to another. The structure reveals a mess. Altogether, dance patterns, vague fragments of narrative, raw vocals, graphic schemes, and instructions are giving hints, not a full picture and, for sure, not serenity. This music might have been a lucky finding fallen from outer space, with the sound of nature that is being unexpectedly mixed with very grounded music of our present in the stratosphere somewhere. It carries you to a state you have never thought you would end up in, an almost inhuman state in-between, but in the end the most human and lively one can imagine. As if this state uncovers parts of a human body that have been hidden, but, as vital and irreplaceable, are always there.”
Discombobulated acid, piquant minimalism, and freeform computer x synth noise graffiti from Finlay Shakespeare, a guess-again composer best known for his mutant pop on Editions Mego
Commissioned as the 100th release on the superlative Superpang label, ‘Zero Purism Process Control’ plays to the Bristol-based artist’s freakier side, taking the opportunity to coax properly irregular, asymmetric and unstable functions from a set-up of “outdated synthesiser equipment coupled with modern DSP all being controlled by computer based patches I made myself.” More specifically, we’re talking Buchla, CGS/Serge, Arp and stock Yamaha kit shaped via Intellijel, Harvestman and DigiTech digital processing, with hands on tweaks made and captured whilst recording. If you’re after his mix of straight and gurney pop, best think again, ‘cos this one’s much better filed next to the likes of Russell Haswell or Marcin Pietruszenwski.
Aye, fans of crafty earfloss will be in their element here, with the atom-spiting audness of ‘Acid Easel’ setting the tone for a supremely bendy set that, despite its abstract nature, does bear some more melodic sentiment on the likes of its Aleksi Perälä-like cascade of bleeps in ‘CrapDAC Overflow’ and the sore tang of ‘Spring Buffer’, and with some semblance of funk in the Autchrian angularity of ‘Window Flyer’. But it’s more dominated by urges to the inexplicable, as with the batshit plongs of ’2010 Could have Been’ and skull scrape textures of ‘Anti-Vax Sick My Knoedel.’
Milquetoast ‘90s ambient styles from Jon Tye & Peter Smith’s MLO, a big one for the banana-skin puffers. Shoes off, please, if you don’t mind - RIYL Cluster & Eno, Robert Haigh, ambient CDs with screensaver artwork
“Music From Memory are excited to present the first compilation of works by British electronic pioneers MLO aka Peter Smith and Jon Tye. Titled ‘Oumuamua’ and second up in the Virtual Dreams series, the compilation is an in-depth artist focused release containing twelve thoughtfully selected tracks that touch on highlights from the duo’s discography as well as newly (re)discovered music drawn from a vast archive of unreleased pieces, sketches and extended jams recorded between 1993-1995.
MLO’s ambient explorations began when Pete and Jon, having first met in rival punk bands during the late ‘70s, found themselves with unlimited access to an incredibly well-equipped studio, having been hired to produce an Icelandic pop star’s record in the early ‘90s. Particularly charmed by the Korg PS 3300 and an Emulator 2, Smith and Tye were also deeply fascinated by outer space and set about developing a musical landscape informed by both this new state of the art musical equipment and what lay beyond the Earth’s limits. Painting with a palette informed by classical minimalism, new age and the works of Cluster & Eno; the duos primary colours were drones, sustained tones, washes, calming tides, gentle temple bells and soft angelic voices with flickering glimpses of percussion and drums that hinted at the possibilities of a dance floor.
‘Oumuamua’ is a collection of music to get lost-in, a wander down the mazed, mirrored corridors of the subconscious. Peaceful, flowing, fresh-water patterns, drawing the listener toward a mediative, inner space. Not strictly ambient, rather the music rests temporarily within the boundaries between drum ‘n’ bass, library music, soundtracks and Techno. Or how Jon Tye himself puts it: “It really feels like music from a different place, a different time, made by different people.”
Marco Shuttle saddles up a trip to mystic, offbeat zones between the chill out room and desert of the mind for Anthony Naples & Jenny Slattery’s Incienso.
With nary a conventional 4/4 groove in earshot, Shuttle works in a fractal not fractional groove on 11 tracks that really find their place amid Incienso’s roster of swangers and shufflers inc DJ Python and Call Super. Arriving four years since his ’System’ album for Dozzy & Neel’s Spazio Disponibile, Shuttle’s 3rd solo album sets him farther from the ‘floor than ever, operating in a liminal shadow world of hazed hues threaded with steady but nervy lines of percussion that ground his cosmic vision.
It all feels very much like one techno artist’s journey of self discovery when unlocked from the club, mapping out an emotional-spiritual growth between the alien landing ship sequence of ‘AfA’ and the glyding electronica of ‘4Dimensional Soundwaves’ that takes in whistling Martian melodies on ‘Danza De Los Voladores’ and purring rhythmelodic chimes in ‘Through Th Cobalt Desert,’ beside whirring steppers recalling the sleek propulsion of Donato Dozzy when he goes D&B (‘Il Serpente Cosmic,’ or ‘Acrobat’) and passages of synthy introspection redolent of Italian library synth music as much as Alessandro Cortini.
Stormy electronic drama lashed with noise and theatric metal dynamics, from Greek producer Constantine Skourlis
“Constantine Skourlis is no stranger to long works that inspire violence and darkness in the mind. As reflections of the sociopolitical climate, the ongoing human rights struggles we witness, and the suffering so many endure, Skourlis follows the theme of his highly acclaimed debut album Hades with distinct, thematic strength; a dualistic nature of beauty and of violence. Seeking balance and peace with abhorrent horror and inescapable strife, his sound is reflective of his mission statement.
Gorgeous, unique vocal and electronic music with the decisive addition of the legendary Halldorophone clash with the decimating percussion by Serapheim G. of legendary Greek heavy rock band Planet Of Zeus evoking moments of both lucidity and discomfort. Be that of hopeful outcomes or unfettered doom, the motion is there. Loops cascade in on themselves, implode, get lost in frequencies, and reemerge. Every work that Skourlis makes is oceanic in scale. Deep, cold sensations from sub-bass butt up against sunbaked heat from high-pitched string ensembles.
Although adjacent to neoclassical composition, Skourlis finds the permutations between past musicalities and creates a new, distinct invention. It's a sound that could as well come from deep in your skull as much as it could come from the very back of a cave so deep you cannot see the end of it. It's the sound of a bullet leaving a chamber and the sound of it entering bone. Constantine is, without a doubt, one of the composers of the 21st century that will be reflected back upon, no matter what world is left for the future.”
Paris's Niamké Désiré, aka Aho Ssan, follows last year's sci-fi digi-scape 'Simulacrum' with this exemplary pack of remixes, featuring Zíur, Exploited Body, KMRU, Roly Porter and more.
Aho Ssan's debut was the introduction of an exciting new voice in abstract electronic music, so it makes sense that the French sound designer has linked up with a handful of like-minded global alchemists. Each track from the album has been re-interpreted here by a different artist, each of whom adds their twist to Désiré's chattering airlock soundscapes. Latvian artist Sarah Badr, aka FRKTL, contributes an early highlight, shifting 'Simulacrum I' into free improv territory, with vigorous drumming that accents Désiré's rusted electronix.
Roly Porter's remix is typically cinematic; the ex-Vex'd sound designer stretches 'Simulacrum II' out into a widescreen marvel, adding lurching rhythmic sub bass and bringing out Désiré's buried melodic elements. Exploited Body deconstructs 'Simulacrum III' and rebuilds it as a slithering half-speed club monster, punctuated by gut-churning kicks and squealing industrial percussion. Zíur meanwhile capitalizes on a prolific year and sculpts 'Simulacrum IV' into an anxious neo-dub scraper, giving Désiré's subtle electronic flutes pride of place.
It's left to Berlin-based Kenyan ambient don KMRU to play us out, and he freezes 'Outro' into a melancholy twinkle of minor-key pads and icy sound design.
Written just a week after 2018's iconic "Make Me Know You Sweet", this surreal, tripped-out sequel from the headier alter ego of Brian Leeds (Huerco S.) is darker, dubbier and more alien than its predecessor >> over an hour of ultra immersive, brain-fluxing hybridized sounds somewhere between Chain Reaction vapourtrails and concrète dream-building.
Captured in one take shots during the weeks following the last album sessions in 2018’, Leeds’ second Pendant album treads a similar netherworld path, channeling a stygian dream-sick effect that effectively explores a flipside to the sunnier prairies of his Huerco S.’ works, shoring us somewhere gauzily redolent of early Wanda Group and the starkest Bellows emissions, but better defined by eerily processed vocals and Lynchian sensibilities that locate it to North America’s dis/possessed lands.
Ritualistic in craft and scope, the six extended tracks of ‘To All Sides They Will Stretch Out Their Hands’ are all titled in reference to indigenous American poetry and thus take shape as elusive, dream-like projections of Leeds’ subconscious and subvocalised thoughts. With a defocussed grain and swirl that perhaps emulates the effect of intoxication thru special herbs, the music acutely suggests altered states of mind, triggering meditations on memory and process reflected by a haphazard and impromptu recording technique. Leeds is a skilled producer, and working instinctively highlights a more fallible, arresting side to his sound - recording and processing vocals on the fly to control his machines less like a conductor and more like a sculptor. When the process hits complications - the DAW failing or outboard gear glitching out - his choice to leave these moments in the final cut allows us to consider the messiness and fallibility of art.
Leeds isn't interested in making aesthetically perfect potted ambience. His narrative is rough and expressive, just as focused on texture as it is tone or rhythm. It's a technique that suggests the heady cut 'n paste sound of musique concrète, but doesn't attempt to recreate it or position itself alongside that canon for academic gold stars. Firing his convulsing collages thru an array of effects gives his music the lively heartbeat of vintage dub, hidden under a fleshy DIY basement noise that could be traced back to Coil or Throbbing Gristle, mediating on memories with haptic strokes and a sense of inseparability between his layers of fuzz and physical actions that most beautifully speaks to a sort of interconnectedness that comes with mescaline, for example.
We’ve been spending considerable time guided by its dream logic - we strongly recommend you do the same, immersing yourself in its spongiform negative space, ruptured raptures and dank bliss.
Diverse, percussive pressure from friends and family of key Brizzle radio station, Noods - Ossia, Pessimist, Katatonic Silentio, Clerya, Valesuchi, Epsilove & Ployer Fower
Loaded with more than enough drums to see your Guinness slosh all over the floor, ’NOOD5’ serves a strong lick of the station-turned-label’s flavour, ranging from the don Ossia’s tumbling orchestral tumper recalling Conrtad Schnitzler via Muslimgauze, to a rushing battery of hardcore tekno junglism by Milan’s Katatonic Silentio, and the chewy downbeat oddness of Epsilove & Ployer Fower, with a dank dembow-type special from local hero Pessimist, plus the squashed reggaeton of Timedance’s Clerya, and dead groggy grooves by Rio de Janeiro’s Valesuchi. Check!
A bumper set of hybridized Jamaican club pressure that illustrates Duppy Gun's commitment to genre-bending abstraction and ice-cold island lyricism. Dembow, dancehall, trap-pop, dub and nu-club sounds joined together in perfect harmony = v life affirming.
'Duppy Vaulted' is a celebration of 10 years of Duppy Gun - the US to Jamaica project that evolved following a chance meeting between Sun Araw's Cameron Stallones and experimental mainstay M. Geddes Gengras and Jamaican vocalists I JAHBAR, Dayone and Early One on their first trip to the island. The project began as a series of 12"s, but developed over the last decade not just as an artistic partnership, but as a way to inject genuine long-term support into the local community. Earlier this year, a Duppy Gun/Roolings studio and food shop opened its doors in Spanish Town, funded through Bandcamp and merch sales, and this selection of material charts the project's process from its beginings until now.
It's an astonishing collection, hard to comprehend how these tracks never made it to a release before. The sheer volume of work is amazing, but it's the quality that makes you realize what Duppy Gun has managed to achieve; whether it's I JAHBAR's slippery digi-dancehall revivalism - best heard on the BIG FLYTE & VELCRO-produced opener 'Snapbacks' and standout 'Thunder Roll' - or Sikka Rymes' overdriven stream of consciousness experimentation on the brief but mindblowing 'Seh Dem Bad Dubplate'.
Other highlights come from Sniper, whose Abu Ama-produced 'Hustle Di Money' is a rolling, futureproofed bass monster, Lopo (with the Aaliyah-curving 'Rock Mignon (Filet Dub)' and clouded 'Never Play Dat 2021') and Jmovemence, who slides closest to sunny Autotuned pop on 'Jah Every Time'. Really though, there's rarely a dull moment; it's a jubilant collection that offers a peek into the output of a new Jamaican institution. Here's to 10 more years!
Tightest boogie chromo-greaze By Electro Wayne Bolton’s Circuitry on Andrew Morgan’s ever reliable PPU
Dripping from every angle, ‘III’ follows from Circuitry’s pair of 12” entrees some five years ago with a full main course of machine boogie served up hot and sticky, and replete with killer romantic slow jamz that really set it off. For those with something to show on the ‘floor, the squelching P-funk vamps of ‘Celebrate A Groove’ will get you into it, and the likes of his slippery ace ‘Arrested For The Funk’ or the crackshot Linn drums of ‘She’s Electric’ will keep you there. But the real pearls lie in his smoochy cuts, from the pure early ‘90s R&B drip of ‘This Is Dedicated’, to the heads down in the rain, fist-making cinematic vignette ‘A Love Scene III’ and a self-evident ‘Slow Dance Interlude.’
Kuedo’s Knives’ introduce S.Maharba to the fold with a debut bag of burned out instrumental hip hop and scorched shoegaze textures recalling styles by Sharp Veins, 1991, BAT, Suicideyear
‘Cold Friend’ chases up S. Maharba’s previous tape release of his showcase on NTS show, You’ll Soon Know, with a coarse grained beat tape of 12 expressively bruised drums sore with squashed emotion.
They’re gristly vignettes that never outstay their welcome, concentrating and distorting his feelings in a rusty chain of vibes between the red-lining crush of ‘Maggot’ and the deliciously suppressed, Kanye-esque choral cut-ups of ‘Scabitha’, with poignant moments to be uncovered between the likes of his bittersweet soul slapper ‘Jessamine’ and the blasted boogie of the title track, while ‘Unborn’ pushes most explicitly into warped, warbling shoegaze guitars.
Legendary UK jungle label Suburban Base collates four more bombs from their considerable, hugely influential artillery
Shy FX sling a swaggering remix of Remarc’s classic ‘In Da Hood’, and DJ SS & E.Q. slice to the ’93 darkside on a proper hardcore jungle remix of D’Cruze’s ‘Want You Now’ replete with time-stretched breaks, jungle tekno vamps and brooding pads. Bristol’s Roni Size & DJ Krust tilt into ’94 styles with tight, rolling breaks and really classy synth work on their rework of Boogie Times Tribe’s ‘My Soul’, and M-Beat step on the ’93 sound in a ruff ’n tuff remix of ‘Gun Connection’ from Q Bass, aka the moniker of Suburban Base founder, Dan Donnelly.
Fluxion's best album in years, the Greek dub techno veteran sculpts pristine dub-jazz moods that eschew the genre's usual foggy melancholy in favor of mind-expanding, horizontal landscapes. One for fans of Moritz Von Oswald Trio and Vladislav Delay's underrated "The Four Quarters".
There's an airy lightness to "Parallel Moves" that's unexpected in the dub techno canon. Fluxion's best work - his Chain Reaction two-parter "Vibrant Forms" - is rightly hailed as a genre milestone, and while "Parallel Moves" echoes that work's faded atmosphere, there's none of the eerie mystery. Instead, the Greek producer has augmented his production with a deep house-indebted jazziness, bringing in broken two-step rhythms, feather-lite electric guitar and warm electric piano. It's almost balearic.
Tracks like 'Passage' are as warm and bright as an acid sunrise, with aerated pads that cut through a supple kick and breezy horns that practically drag you to the sand dunes and frothing waves. 'In Limbo', a tight, uptempo deep house burner, sounds looped into Theo Parrish's sonic universe as it drifts around subtly plucked guitar and kinetic electric piano, and 'Spreads' sounds like waking up on a mountainside, watching the clouds part slowly. This is sunny, hopeful stuff, and breathes some happiness into a usually buttoned-up sound.