Robin Buckley a.k.a. rkss reasembles mainstream EDM sample packs on the killer, unconventional ‘DJ Tools’ - the long awaited first album on Lee Gamble’s UIQ label following 12" releases from Lanark Artefax, Renick Bell, Sim Hutchins, Zuli and others. If you're into anything from Florian Hecker to Rian Treanor, Evol, Errorsmith, Theo Burt or Lorenzo Senni - this one’s a doozy!
Manipulating off-the-shelf sounds from ‘EDM Kicks Vol.1’ through various processing techniques, rkss explores the politics and aesthetics of club culture, technology and queerness by radically altering these preconceived, “purpose-built” blocks of sound from their original use, and rendering them in a spectrum of non-standard, ambiguous designs that both highlight, abstract, and reimagine the samples’ social function.
The result is nine hyper-colourful, unpredictable and uniquely engaging tracks that metaphorically connote queer dynamics, employing the user-oblivious potential of computer software to shape a form of dance music that insightfully reflects and celebrates rkss’ difference within the flux of today’s social spaces. In other words it’s a music very much of, and for, its times, crucially in step with current redefinitions of musical boundaries and identity politics.
In Robin's own words:
“DJ Tools was recorded at a turning point for me as an artist & person as I came into the aesthetic and social limitations I was finding in contemporary dance culture. I started to change how I thought about myself as an artist in terms of changing the way I created music, instead of writing the music at home and later arranging it for the club, I started writing music for live performance first. I wanted to be able to arrange these pieces/excerpts / sketches live. I was beginning to re-arrange how I thought about my gender / self and placing, exploring and finding the language to point to my sense of difference as a rans person. DJ Tools was where I began to formulate my own relationship to club culture as a mostly sober, transgender person, what version of club music did I want to engage with in that social space? Fluid, dynamic and reacting to audience. Highlighting the social. Sharing & connecting through my difference rather than erasing it.”
Mogwai cast their best middle distance gaze on their soundtrack for Jonathan and Josh Baker’s ‘KIN’, starring Zoë Kravitz, Hames Franco and Dennis Quaid
“Scotland’s Mogwai are not only legendary experimental rock icons, but also well-established soundtrack titans – sound sculptors behind an impressive spectrum of cinematic releases (both full soundtracks and contributions): Including their last film soundtrack, Atomic (2016), there's been consistent acclaim through Michael Mann's Miami Vice (2006), The Fountain (2006, collaborating with Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet), Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2007), Amnesty International's PEACE project (2010), international hit French TV series Les Revenants (2013), and Leonardo DiCaprio's climate change documentary Before The Flood (2016) alongside soundtrack Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
The staggeringly prolific force that is Mogwai return less than a year after their standout new album, Every Country’s Sun, to provide the soundtrack to the anticipated, acclaimed new sci-fi major motion picture, KIN. Like their beloved soundtracks to Atomic and Les Revenants, KIN uses the band’s original score as the genesis and point of departure for an expanded, fully developed album of new songs. KIN is cinematic maximalism and synth-rock minimalism delivered with the signature introspective grace that has defined and refined Mogwai’s decades-long reputation.”
R.A.N. is the dark electronic / rhythmic ambient music project by HÜMA UTKU, an artist hailing from İstanbul and based in Berlin for a couple of years now. She released her debut album''Her Trembling Ceased'' and contributed several tracks and remixes to various compilations.
"The title of her debut on KARL, "Şeb-i Yelda" (pronounced Shab-e Yalda in English), is a Persian term that signifies 'the longest night'. Inspired by the Ottoman poet BOSNIAN SABIT EFENDI's verses,R.A.N. created four new, very personal tracks, developing further her musical language by fusing traditional instruments with deep electronic sounds, distortion and dark ambience, in order tocreate intense atmospheres of anger, anxiety, grief – but also empowerment and hope. These compositions are UTKU's personal reflections on the long lasting devastation and turmoil in the Middle East as well as witnessing the individual experiences related to these happenings. The titles translate as:'"Şeb-i Yelda" (The Longest Night), "Ay" (The Moon), "Sabah" (The Morning) and "Kul" (The Servant of God)."
In ‘New Hymn To Freedom’ Luke Abbott, Laurence Pike and Jack Wylie follow their 3rd eye to iridescent uplands of jazz and psychedelic electronics...
“Sometimes in improvised music there can be a distance between listener and players, a sense you’re sitting back and admiring their interplay and abstraction – but with Szun Waves’ second album, you’re right in there with them, inside the playing, experiencing the absolute joy the three musicians feel as they circle around each other, exploring the spaces they’ve opened up.
The three members already have sparkling pedigrees of their own. Norfolk’s Luke Abbott is well known for his explorations of the zones between pure ambience and the leftmost fringes of club culture. With Portico Quartet and Circle Traps, Jack Wyllie has been in the vanguard of UK fusions of jazz, classical and club music. Australian drummer Laurence Pike has likewise found a unique voice in improvised and experimental music-making, whether in the bands Triosk or PVT, or as a solo artist.
The trio’s musical relationship has grown naturally and steadily, and it shows. From Wyllie adding shimmering sustained sax notes to Abbott’s gorgeous ambient pieces in 2013, Szun Waves emerged when Pike was added to the mix, energising the sound but still keeping its levitational qualities. Their 2016 self-released debut album hit a natural groove – it was a “proof of concept” as Abbott says – and now they’re in a place of pure spontaneity: New Hymn To Freedom is a document of six entirely live improvisations – “no edits or overdubs” – and its title couldn’t be more apt.”
The third album from KYO, the enigmatic product of Hannes Norrvide and Frederik Valentin's compact. For this record they have collaborated with American vocalist Jeuru, a recent recruit to the city of Copenhagen.
"KYO's previous records are breathtaking instrumental works, and they have steadily earned the group praise on their own terms. Having dreamt of a quiet future on their last album 'I Musik', Norrvide and Valentin went on to present KYO live. Though always able to express a wealth of emotion, their delicately rendered stillness has perhaps learnt something from the immediacy of presenting the work in this way. 'Vi Byder Sommeren Ind / Vi Tackar För Sommaren', their recent live cassette, captures this in their duet form. Collaborating with Jeuru takes this exploration a step further and into territory hitherto uncharted in previous recordings.
Jeuru's vocals stray from spoken word trysts to heartfelt cries and introspective sighs. Love's locks circle with each move and we ride along. The casually diaristic lyrics and the often conversational tone brings a very real immediacy into Norrvide and Valentin's world, gracefully illuminating its architecture and revealing the great forms all around. KYO's music always departed for freedom and arrived there promptly. Jeuru gives us a telescope, and with intimacy we explore.
The fine blend of electronics and acoustic instruments is carefully balanced on 'All The Same Dream'. Everything shimmers, turning us one way and then losing us the next, matching the vocals in a persistent sense of opportunity. Brilliantly pitched moments of abrasive electronics are a warm welcome, immersing us in a different time zone from that of the rhythmic pieces that lead us into a chilled metropolis.
It feels like we've been walking these streets forever, from club to club, from scene to scene, but there's never enough time to dream between destinations.”
A second album from Japanese avant-garde / noise icon Keiji Haino in collaboration with free jazzers Konstrukt...
"Celebrating their 10th anniversary, Konstrukt have an impressive catalogue including collaborations / performances with significant musicians like Peter Brotzmann, Joe Mcphee, William Parker, Akira Sakata, Thurston Moore and many others - and they keep exploring new ground.
In 2016 Konstrukt invited Keiji Heino to their home town Istanbul for a recording session that resulted in a quite unique album: "A Philosophy Warping, Little By Little That Way Lies A Quagmire" - featuring all the elements you may well have expected but also offering some wild curveballs, including a kind of 70's fusion style on that album's closer.
Two days later the free jazz quartet and the Japanese avant-garde icon continued their adventure with a public performance at SalonIKSY, pushing things further and raising the level of energy and rawness. Carrying the same title ""A Philosophy Warping, Little By Little That Way Lies A Quagmire" makes this a sister release to their previous studio effort. Or, as the saying goes: "same same but different!"
Nick Höppner, former label manager at Ostgut Ton, mints his new label, Touch From A Distance, with the electroid breaks and wonky tech house of ‘Fast Life’ by Desert Sound Colony.
Hypnotically druggy and effortlessly grooving, it’s exactly the kind of kit you’d expect to hear in an extended Höppner set, roving from the pie-eyed swang of ‘Fast Life’ and the wobbly strut of ‘Somehow I Talk’ to the pitch-bent disco-tech wonk of ’Glixen’ feat. Baby, and the straighter ‘Rollen’ on the back.
Hauntingly beautiful nocturnes from Keith Kenniff (Goldmund) in Helios mode. Modest yet rich with moments of heart-rending majesty, ‘Veriditas’ is yet another immaculate late night LP worthy of comparison with Kenniff’s earlier releases for Type.
“On respective edges of America — Oregon and Maine — Keith Kenniff records quiet music at night. “When things are calmer,” he says. “My mind is less distracted when I know that everything is dark outside.” For over a decade, such has been the mode — nocturnal, unrushed, using the same mini-cassette recorder, "a lovely little imperfect way to treat sounds" — for one of the country’s most understated composers. Kenniff has housed dozens of ambient releases under the name Helios since 2004, alongside post-classical output as Goldmund, shoegaze pop with his wife Hollie as Mint Julep, and commissions for film and television. It is a reliably transportive body of work that's earned Kenniff a cult following, and a genuine modesty that’s kept him on the fringes, right where he prefers, in the dark.
Veriditas introduces unusual shapes and landscapes to the Helios catalog. Whereas past songs have followed traditional structures — discernable bell curves with beginnings, arcs, and ends — the focus here is texture and harmony. "I wanted to explore emotionality within something more static." Synth-tones radiate and hum as vignettes, often crisp and cloudless, other times smeared to a queasy Boards of Canada-like unease. The latter burbles below the last moments of "Eventually" and looms over the opener "Seeming" like darkness inching across a forest. Tracks cease at will. "Seeming" fades just after a sliver of light cuts through the mossy pillars. "Latest Lost" mists for just one minute. "Row The Tide" for two, hovering like a helium balloon lost to the horizon. "Even Today" hangs above the snowcaps, suspended in an upper arboreal sequence, as shimmering surges of static trace the treetops below.
Moments on Veriditas pass quickly, but as a series of moments, they are fluid, almost regenerative. Disassembling the album by instruments is difficult. Unlike past Helios work, there is no percussion. The one straightforward use of guitar appears on the ambling "Upward Beside The Gale," strummed solemnly as if over end credits, watching the greenery lapse to grey in the twilight. In the second half of “Dreams,” crystalline piano chords converse with washes of orchestral notes and deep drone, advancing towards temporal clarity, a lookout point, that once presented evaporates.
In a way, Veriditas parallels the path of the Helios project to date: patient, immense, and wondrous without ostentation. Kenniff continues to find a soothing and centering quality in his craft. Aligned with Hildegard von Bingen’s philosophy, Kenniff looks towards sound, like many do to nature, for momentary vigor, for elemental and nourishing prolificacy. Here, in pursuit of viriditas, with precise textures and harmonies, he humbly extends that verdant expression outward, wide and pliable.”
Goldie marks 25 years as the don of UK jungle with a collection of remastered alternate versions and rarities under his Goldie and Rufige Kru aliases, and as part of Internal Affairs
Check for the tuff as nails Rider’s Shadow (VIP Mix) and the floating pressure of his Hornet 127, produced with Dego and only previously available on CD.
Prayers are answered with repress of Annette Brissett’s funky reggae-soul peach ‘Love Power’ , newly mastered at Dubplates & Mastering and dished up facsimile by NYC/Berlin’s Wackies
Landing the same week as a reissue of Annette’s in-demand ‘Betrayed Dub / What A Feeling Dub’ (both dubs of songs from ‘Love Power’), Annette Brissette is set to transcend the wants list of those in the know and receive due adulation for her beautifully bittersweet Lover Rock style.
Set to instrumentals by Wackies crack squad, The Black Roots Posse, with arrangements by Fabian Cooke, and engineered by Douglas Levy, ‘Love Power’ is a stone cold classic notable not just for the aforementioned cuts, but also her charming cover of ‘What A Feeling’ from the ‘Flashdance’ soundtrack - a proper guilty pleasure - as well as the smooth vibes of ‘Love Power’ and undoubtedly the incredible disco twist of ‘Drums’ saved right for the very last, and set to make jaws drop on reception.
"‘Hunter’, the third album from Anna Calvi, is the embodiment of the feeling of truly letting go. For the art-rock singer songwriter it was a catharsis and an opportunity to be more truthful than she ever had been before.
Anna Calvi has teamed up with esteemed producer Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Grinderman), Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Martyn Casey (The Bad Seeds) to bring this galvanising record to life."
Tightly coiled electro from Nullptr a.k.a Bovaflux on Sheffield’s finest
Check for the Bitstream or E.R.P.-esque depth of ‘Polytopes’, the Dopplereffekt-like electro-soul of ‘AFTRMTH’, and the increasingly darker, twysted electro-funk dis-torsion of ‘Mothership’.
A chacteristically up-for-it and punchy next cut of the Yabby You, with a concussive dub; first out in the mid-eighties.
"Tado's cut of Zion Gates, the Yabby You classic, with a hard dub. Backed with No More Heartache, “an original Harry J Beltones classic.”
Melbourne’s Left Ear keep up a stellar run with ‘Antipodean Anomalies’, digging out 9 exceptional bits of mutant dub, plugged-in Estonian folk and Maori reggae from Australia and New Zealand c. 1979-1989
The A-side is focussed on vocals and rhythms, with outstanding moments in Olev Muska’s mad fusion of percolated drum machines and Estonian folk song in ‘Karjapoisi Lugu (A Shepherd’s Tale)’ and the gobsmacking blend of bullroarers (?), whistles and vox with stark drums in Ngahiwi Apanul’s remarkable Maori reggae mutation, ‘He Whakapapa’. The B-side is more synthed-out, with impressive pieces including the lilting ‘Green Chaos’ of Helen Ripley-Marshall and the rustic psychedelia of Rainbow Generator’s ‘City Of The Sun’.
“For musicians inhabiting the Antipodean countries of Australia and New Zealand during the 70’s and 80’s, it was a geographically and culturally isolating environment. Boutique shops, community radio and mail order exchanges championed independent and contemporary music from across the globe. It was, however, this isolation that caused a number of small community-focused scenes to evolve, creating their own unique interpretation and reappropriation of outside influences. Through both these scenes and government initiatives, a vast amount of music emerged on self-released and independent labels.
Yet, even among small scenes that were creating unique sounds, a number of artists seemed to be making music that was neither here nor there, often meshing together numerous genres and influences to create anomalous sounds. Artists like Olev Muska along with Ingrid Slamer meshed traditional folk songs of their Estonian heritage with cutting edge computer technology. Ngahiwi Apanui used his native language of Te Reo and a “cheap drum machine” to create a pulsating tale that highlights the creation of Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand); while the Free Radicals would sing through PVC pipes to construct their vision of post-apocalyptic tribal music. Sydney’s Nic Lyon used his classical training to craft a distinctive gem which matched eastern and African influenced instruments with syncopated drum machines, while artists like Delaney Venn and Toy Division managed to challenge their post-punk sensibilities by blending both dub and atmospheric sounds respectively.”
Great slab of psychedelic cosmic disco grooves made with a rare Japanese drum machine. RIYL Rupert Clervaux and Beatrice Dillon, YPY, Healing Force Project, Daniele Baldelli
“Instruments used: Meazzi Jolly drumkit, Toyo Gakki Ult Sound DS-4 Custom, Moog Minimoog Model D, Elka Synthex, Arp Odyssey, Korg Ms-20, Fender Precision Bass, Moog MF-104 SD, Binson Echorec, Roland RE-201 Space Echo, Mu-Tron Bi-Phase, Boss Chorus Ensemble”
This smokey catalog of Nashville icons and hayseed misfits births 'Hillbillies In Hell: Volume 777' - a subterranean collection of deathly Nephilim, swampy graves, teenaged suicidal ideation, tormented Gospel tales, grisly mountain murders, craven lustmords, Apocalyptic visions and problematic parenting. Often originally waxed on microscopic labels and distributed in minuscule amounts, these troubled and sometimes forgotten troubadours sing of lustful homicides, masonic assassinations and Satan's perpetual slaves.
"Years in the making – ‘Hillbillies In Hell’ (Volume 777) presents 16 testaments of timeless tribulations - sinful succubi, axe-wielding cuckolds, vengeful Hill-folk and the eternal quest for blistered redemption. A Mephistophelean cache of primordial 45s - some of these sides are impossibly rare and are reissued here for the very first time. All for your prurient listening pleasure."
Gavin Guthrie a.k.a. TX Connect spanks the box in eight ways for Medical Records, jacking between rudely direct acid, house and electro styles layered up with synthy nods to horror soundtracks and Italo...
“2nd full length album by Gavin Guthrie AKA TX Connect (previous releases on Crème Organization and L.I.E.S.). Influenced by a diverse background of Italo, acid, horror soundtracks, industrial and EBM, Gavin crafts dance floor stompers using analog tools and tape. Not only a producer, he’s also a reputed DJ and head honcho at Texas Recordings Underground (TRU) record label. Spread over 2 LPs, these 10 tracks will be atomic bombs in your next DJ set but could just as easily be the soundtrack to your next cerebral vacation. All tracks carefully mastered by Martin Bowes.”
Masterful meld of kosmische, free-jazz and proggy ambience from Japan’s Singu, a trio including house producer Keita Sano
“Free your mind and float away, you’re now entering the mode of the Growing Bin. Hamburg’s centre for audio enlightenment is back with another sublime sensory experience, this time from the land of the rising sun.
Keen to get another stamp on his passport, Basso reached out to Japanese duo Singu, two open minded cats who just love to jam. Marrying Kiyo’s free drumming with Keta Ra’s melodic mastery of keyboard and guitar, the two-piece fuse free jazz, post-rock, kosmische and ambient into immersive and esoteric improvisations. Free from any compositional concerns, the Hiroshima outfit trade in energy, emotion and expression.
The frenetic percussion and ephemeral melodies of opener ‘Aurora Gate’ instantly transport you to the breathless churn of a Tokyo crossroads, where thousands of people rush by but you stand still in the eye of the storm. Though they may be explosive, the drums sit back in the mix, offering a soft intensity behind the shimmering wall of melody. A nimble and nuanced affair, ‘Bop’ brings rapid fire rhythm, slick syncopation and hypnotic piano refrains. Cool bass rolls along like KDJ’s ‘Rectify’, as Singu update the acid jazz template like Toshio Matsuura covering Carl Craig. Singu journey from far out to Furthur on A- side closer ‘Nagebu’, strapping in for psychedelic synth wig out which is heavy on the resonance and free on the filter.
Blooming out of the darkness on the B1, Basso favourite ‘Fazaria’ soothes and moves you with its twinkling keys, nebulous wave forms and delicate guitar, leaving you wide eyed in wonder as the drum fills burst like fireworks across a starfilled sky. ‘828’ sweeps into abstraction as Kiyo and Keta Ra combine snapping glitches and aquatic electronics with fractal guitar tones and woozy bass, pushing through a portal to see what’s beyond. An a-grade wall melter, this trip makes great use of tension as the crisp ma- chine drums stand in sharp contrast to the whirring, blurring guitars. Finally ’44’ carries you home on a downbeat drift, a flawless fusion of buzzing electronics, misty pads and relentless percussion played with perfect poise.
Turn on, tune in and trip out, Singu bring you music from the moment that you’ll love for a lifetime.”
18 timeless tales of clanging Hammers and pounding Shovels - from wry, dry working-stiff diatribes to bare-chested exclamations - Birth / Work / Death maps the human work experience from anger to joy, poverty to riches. From the muck-crusted mines to late-night jukeboxes - backwoods outsiders and Nashville icons alike waxed odes to the entwined necessities of Work and Money, Status and Competition, Survival and Servitude.
"Harrowing laments of dank deaths underground, fevered hymns to Mammon, snide ripostes to debt-bondage and exuberant celebrations of family and sustenance. Most originally waxed on private press labels and distributed in tiny amounts, these town criers and tavern-bound troubadours sing of golden highways, slothful byways, factory-floor drudgery and fallow, heartbreaking fields.
Years in the making – ‘Birth / Work / Death‘ presents calloused anthems and bloody ballads from dusty LPs and long forgotten 45s. All for your lunch hour listening pleasure."
A new original soundtrack from Nicolas Godin (one half of the French iconic duo AIR) which he composed for the 2nd season of “Au Service De La France” (in English “A Very Secret Service”), a TV series produced by ARTE following the adventures of different spies during the 60s...
“It was about paying homage to the soundtracks of TV series from the 60s, especially the ones narrating the adventures of spies like ‘Mission: Impossible’. How could I refuse? This was a good occasion and a great pleasure for me to dive back into a specific kind of soundtracks that is not really recorded anymore. This kind of music was often composed and recorded with jazz musicians who had also a strong knowledge of classical music.
For this project, I reached out to French musicians with such background. They had, like me, the same love for legendary original soundtracks. After a time of preparation and free improvisations, the majority of the music was recorded in a single day. I hope you’ll like the result, it’s been composed and recorded from the bottom of my heart and from the enchanted world of childhood.”
Grade A Linn drum funk and spaced-out dub-disco wiggle from Hawaii’s FRNT BZNZZ
“Producer and multi-instrumentalist FRNT BZNZZ is a musical genius to most in the Honolulu scene, having performed almost everywhere in nearly every capacity with just about everyone on island — his impact, however, has yet to extend beyond Hawaii.
Aloha Got Soul aims to change that by reaching audiences in all corners of the globe with FRNT BZNZZ’s first vinyl release.
Fully self-produced, this limited 7” of spatial, sometimes haunting electronic boogie shines a light on sounds from Hawaii that rarely get heard.
Music from the Hawaiian Islands often evokes images of tropical paradise, sunny beaches, laid back encounters. We want to show you the other side of it, a sonic anti-thesis to common perceptions of Hawaii.
FRNT BZNZZ’s talent comes from his roots. His father is legendary Brazilian percussionist Carlinhos do Pandeiro, who now resides in LA. His mother is Sandy Tsukiyama, once Nohelani Cypriano’s backup singer and percussionist in the 70s and now host of The Brazilian Experience, one of Hawaii’s top radio programs.
FRNT BZNZZ can be found in Honolulu collaborating with local musicians, producers and vocalists in his studio tucked away on the side of a mountain in a Manoa Valley home designed by architect Vladimir Ossipoff.”
STROOM 〰 dish up Patrick Selinger’s suave New Beat classique, ‘Businessmen’, backed with a trio of unreleased solo piano pieces.
A perfect example of New Beat at its most tongue-in-cheek and yet still debonaire, the three ‘Businessmen’ cuts are a coolly sardonic ode to the excess of late ‘80s money men - exactly the sort that Belgian ravers were taking the piss out of by bringing briefcases to the club, usually paired with some stonewashed jeans and shirts decorated in smileys. Factor in the fact that Selinger hails from Antwerp - the biggest port for cocaine imports in Europe - and you can only imagine the kind of Jean Claude Van Damme-meets-Gordon Gecko characters he was observing and passing comment on.
While the original ‘Businessmen’, it’s stripped down vocal mix, and instrumental are as much a showcase for Selinger’s vocal as the dancefloor production of Jan Van Den Bergh (the total G behind Mappa Mundi and too many classics to mention), the B-side tracks show off Selinger’s solo piano talents in three parts that play to the refined sound of Antwerp, offering a frothier taste of its smoky bars and back streets.
The much anticipated 'Luck In The Valley' arrives in the shadow of the desperately sad and untimely death of Jack Rose.
This posthumous release is a typically inscrutable outing for an artist who seldom put a foot wrong throughout his short yet prolific career. It finds him surrounded by friends, taking a tone that's somewhere between that of his usual outings as a lone six-string slinger and the more raucous, group-based work with The Black Twig Pickers (who make an appearance on this album, incidentally).
First track 'Blues For Percy Danforth' is a lapsteel raga that reveals Rose's playing technique in all its effortlessness and expressive fluidity, taking the precise and dexterous picking techniques of the American Primitive style and infusing them with the kind of articulations you'd associate with sitar music. 'Lick Mountain Ramble' is more of a group effort, representing a joyous Appalachian hoedown, whereas 'Woodpiles On The Side Of The Road' is a more melancholy, solo blues number. The tone of the record is in a continual state of flux, exploring the various textures and temperaments of vintage American music, switching from the honky-tonk goodtime romp 'When Tailgate Drops, The Bullshit Stops' (complete with barroom piano and harmonica accompaniment) to the almost Mariachi-like feel of the Latin and flamenco influenced 'Tree In The Valley'.
Aside from his technique, you might argue that what absolutely singles Rose out among his peers is the sense of classic ragtime rhythm. The title track serves as an especially wonderful example of this, perfectly distilling the essence of a hundred-year-old artform and making it sound like a perfect fit with the 2010's. Similarly, Rose takes on covers of pre-war classics with commendable authenticity and swagger, the closing 'West Coast Blues' (originally by Blind Blake) proving to be an especially glorious and fittingly rowdy finale to the album. It's painful to think that this is the last we'll hear from Jack Rose. He was one of the only post-Takoma guitarists of his generation you could consider to be truly great, and Luck In The Valley is an exemplary vessel for his craft, perhaps demonstrating more broadly than on any of his prior works the fullness of his range and accomplishments as a musician.
Does the world really need another Sufjan Stevens album? It seems the last three he released topped critics 'end of year' lists - surely he can't keep it up, surely he's got to release a stinker soon?
What's more, 'The Avalanche' isn't even an album proper, it's an odds and sods compilation, outtakes and extras taken from his classic 'Illinois' album. Gawd, why the hell should we care then? Well for a start, Sufjan's outtakes are better than a majority of most bands finished product, there are 21 tracks on this gigantic compilation and not a dull moment... so I'm left wondering how the man can be so productive.
Of course 'The Avalanche' doesn't reach the dizzy heights of it's predecessors, but then that was never the point, this isn't a 'proper' album and in light of this you can forgive it's excesses (three versions of Chicago??). With tracks as good as the heart-stopping opener, 'The Avalanche' and the singalong 'Adlai Stevenson' you can't fault the happy clappy fellow - he's got something of the Pied Piper about him, the songs make you want to follow him wherever he goes wherever that might take you. I think it's almost music-critic law to mention that Stevens plans to write an album for every state in America... at this rate he could slim his albums down to 40 minutes and get 4 out a year! Here's to the next state.
Mac DeMarco’s breakthrough sophomore album, Salad Days – released on April Fools’, 2014 – garnered widespread critical acclaim, landing on over 30 Year End lists.
"It was the album that catapulted DeMarco from “loveable slacker” to “mature songwriter with a gaptoothed grin,” all at the tender age of 23. DeMarco’s demos for Salad Days, originally included in an expanded edition of the album only available on Captured Tracks Mail Order site, peel back the curtain of said artist, who, up until then, may have been more known for his raucous live shows than his genuine talent as a songwriter and craftsman. This collection of demos and sketches as well as previously unreleased instrumental demos offer a rare insight into Mac’s world and process."
An eighties set of Tado’s dubs of rhythms recorded at Ariwa and Easy Street by the Mad Professor and Sid Bucknor...
“This is one of the big bad dub album of the 1990's and have been off the shop shelves for over 20 years.”
Seminal, studio-as-instrument Lee Scratch Perry styles, originally issued in 1973 and out of print since 2011
"Lee Perry first came to prominence working with Coxsone Dodd's fabled Studio One. This is where Scratch earned the nickname with the wildly popular Jamaican hit record and dance craze 'Chicken Scratch.' After a fall out with Dodd, Perry moved on to a stint with Joe Gibb's Amalgamated. Again in a dispute over compensation Perry moved on to form his own label, Upsetter and established his house band, the Upsetters. By 1973 Perry had also established Black Ark, a recording studio of his own that functioned as an effective fertilizer throughout what was Jamaica's most innovative period for sounds and recording techniques. In that year, as Perry and Black Ark entered a period of heavy dub output, Scratch recorded Cloak And Dagger.
This early dub outing is a testament to Perry's lo-fi mastery as he utilized his TEAC four-track, Soundcraft board, tape delays, phasers, reverb and any other ambient sounds he could get his hands on as an instrument rather than just to record instruments. Get On Down celebrates a piece of reggae history and one of Lee Perry's crowning achievements with this reissue of Cloak And Dagger, presented here as originally issued in Jamaica in 1973."
Cop Envy does spaced out jungle and rolling breaks for Melbourne’s Cry Baby Records
Hingeing around breezy halfstep drums and vapour trails of rave voices, the A-side’s airy ‘Balanced’ operates at the edge of a shadowy D&B sound also pursued by Aussie producer, Mark, while the B-side’s ‘Leisure’ rolls on a dubbed-out ’91 hardcore flex recalling some stray Yage production.
Two previously unreleased and stellar soundtracks by Parmegiani’s for avant-garde films finally surface on Switzerland’s WRWTFWWR, sourced from the original reels, and neatly packed together in a gatefold sleeve double LP with English and French liner notes.
Pressed from original tapes and containing the soundtracks for Pierre Kast films, ‘les soleils de l’île de pâques’  and ‘la brûlure de mille soleils’ , this set neatly expands the number of Parmegiani’s film soundtracks now available on vinyl following the recent edition of ‘Rock (Band Originale du Film’, and, before that, a Recollection GRM reissue of his ‘L'Œil Écoute’ (The Eye Hears) soundtrack, and a number of unofficial reissues of his work via New England Electric Music Company.
As illustrated thru the music and the accompanying text by Parmegiani, written in 1989, the two respective works are captivating examples of the pivotal concrète and electro-acoustic maestro’s methodical, logical approach to his work, highlighting fundamental, inseparable connections between perceptions of visual and aural cultures.
In Parmegiani’s own words: “Music, like film, needs duration to be totally understood. One and the other use common words to elaborate their own editing: transitions, fade-outs. There is, therefore, a little bit of cinema for ears in music. But could one not say reciprocally that there’s been a little music in the images? (for the ears!).”
The results precisely connote their subject, with stacks of far-out, hallucinatory gestures and cues reflecting the supernatural and occult themes of Pierre Kast’s sci-fi ‘les soleils de l’île de pâques’, whilst the score for its predecessor ‘la brûlure de mille soleils’ is farther out, full of mad jews harp twangs, disco-ready synth arps and droning choral work tie in with their theme - a bizarre short film, edited by Chris Marker (‘La Jetée’) about a depressed millionaire poet, his cat Marcel and a sign language robot, who travel time in search of love.
Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Will Gregory Goldfrapp)’s score to the forthcoming ‘Arcadia’, a film from BAFTA winning director Paul Wright and released by The BFI.
"Two tracks - ‘Lowlands’ and ‘Bonny Boy’ - are by the legendary Folk singer Anne Briggs, with musical arrangement by Utley and Gregory behind. The pair’s score takes influence from a wide range of genres, marrying classical and folk styles with more experimental electronic elements and even punk.
This will appeal to fans of the pair’s previous score work in ‘The Passion Of Joan Of Arc’, along with the pair’s solo work in Portishead and Goldfrapp. It will also appeal to fans of recent composers such as Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Cliff Martinez and Clint Mansell."
When Amon Duul II first hit the German music scene of the 1970s, they weren't even the first band to be named Amon Duul. The Munich-based Krautrock band had their origins in the West German commune scene, where the founding members thrived at an art commune bearing the same name. (An establishment for musicians and performers, encouraged to play and collaborate, regardless of experience or ability.)
"The members of the Amon Duul commune were eventually offered the opportunity to record, at which point the collective split, with the more talented and proficient members going on to form Amon Duul II. (The other band, simply called Amon Duul, would not reach major success.) Throughout their tenure as a band, Amon Duul II performed non-stop, bringing their distinct blend of spacious psychedelia to, according to guitarist John Weinzierl: "...every hall with a power socket and an audience." Amon Duul II released over 15 studio albums during their career, including such celebrated landmarks of Krautrock as 1969's Phallus Dei, 1971's Tanz Der Lemminge, and 1975's Made In Germany.
Their 1974 album Hijack, however, is frequently forgotten amongst their greatest achievements in psychedelia, and perhaps unfairly so. The album features some of their most exploratory material, dabbling in sounds foreign to the band such as funky brass sections, samba backbeats, and inflections of chamber pop string sections. An anomalous entry into the discography of an already anomalous band, and not one to be skipped."
A very welcome surprise. Don’t sleep on this!
Japanese percussionist and ambient pioneer Midori Takada meets her long lost daughter Lafawndah in an out-of-the-blue, self-released, 20 minute work scrolling from rippling rhythmelodies and glassy high registers to the entrance of Lafawndah, who beautifully sashays from operatic flights to R&B styles as Takada’s percussion rolls out and finally scales down to the smallest tinkles.
Pivotal Parisian producer, Krikor Kouchian dubs out his widely acclaimed ‘Pacific Alley’ suite for L.I.E.S.
Practically running everything thru an echo box and emphasising their rhythmic potential, Kouchian provides a smart new angle on ‘Pacific Alley’ between the overprinting dub roil of ‘Slow Riddim’ and the cracked Jay Glass Dubs styles of ‘Snow Dub’ up top, and over to the swollen steppers’ momentum of ‘Hermano Dub’ and the dusky shuffle of ‘Plomo Riddim’.
The master is in session.
Johannes Auvinen a.k.a. Tin Man presents an expanded edition of his virulent début album, retitled Acid Acid Acid, with the extra Acid referring to a vintage batch of three track tacked on the end, including the ratty grind of Heated Acid, the rolling glyde of Crisp and Cozy Acid (ooooh, see what he did there?!), and the rudely slompy Jack It Acid. We hardly need to say it, but the original 10 tracks are all Class A’s, too.
Essential 303 business!
Mac DeMarco’s second album, 2, cleaned up the songwriter’s warped take on soft rock and brought it to a broader audience.
"Given DeMarco’s affinity for keeping things lo-fi—2 was the first time he’d bothered to record demos—it’s revealing to hear these songs in their most embryonic form. The performances here are a little looser and the sound a little hazier than on the actual LP, lending an atmosphere of dreamy vulnerability, especially to ballads like “Annie” and the Lennon-esque “Sherrill.”
Julius Steinhof returns to the bosom of Smallville Records with a subtly stealthy set of deep house shimmies
On Along The Coast the landscape scrolls from plaintive choral voices to rolling jack, building up to a prime Detroit house bustle a smart balance of subtlety and tugging ruggedness.
Mooddowner simmers the mood to a breezy, organ-riding swing nudging at Rob Hodo vibes, and Be Myself stealthily locks us into his mindset for a deep, blue and rudely teched-out ride.
Black Merlin joins Mannequin’s Death of the Machines series with a killer payload of slow-to-mid tempo industrial/EBM/Acid styles
In three parts Merlin holds his ground, driving from the brain-burrowing acid drive of ‘Oba Enka’ with its spirit-gnawing breakdown on the A-side, thru the charred synth drones and sluggish thrum of ‘DEF’, to check out on the razor-fanged and grimacingly slow churn of ‘HAM’.
Well-rounded, richly layered and deeper acid house from the Kiwi duo
Up top they go on earthy, mystic with the deep house hustle of ‘Multiverse’ and the combo of lushly jazz-wise pads with grubbing acid in ‘Double Dribble’, whereas they go proper spiritual on the other side with the super spacious atmospheres and low-lying drums of ‘Kaitaia Fire’ and the heavy-lidded somnambulance of ‘Drum Therapy’.
Ace, minimalist, rhythmelodic workouts from Andrea Taeggi, presenting the first ever recordings made at Willem-Twee synthesis studio in Holland, employing an Analog Computer previously used for flight simulations and as a measurement tool by civil engineers and the army...
Cleverly repurposing military grade gear to his civvie fancy, the Berlin-based artist generates a beguiling set of six parts strongly comparable with the squashed, pendulous productions of Ilpo Väisänen as Liima or Piiri, and the explorative approach of Raster-Noton’s Frank Bretschneider, especially on his recordings of the Subharchord found in ‘Kippschwingungen.’
However, the difference between those releases and this one lies in the unique fidelity of the computer at Willem-Twee studio (itself modelled on the blueprint for Studio di Fonologia RAI in Milan) which generated all the percussive sounds in ‘Zimní Král’. Now, we’ve probably all heard enough minimal bloops and beeps to last us a lifetime, but this demonstration still feels uniquely fresh, crisp and spacious, sloshing in myriad syncopated permutations with a focussed, entrancing intricacy that one doesn’t hear every day.
Not a band who ever do things by halves, this opus from Stars Of The Lid is a mammoth three disc set and is sublime for the entire duration.
You see, although some might level that Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride have really stuck to the same style since their inception, they have been moving steadily forward with each release and have gone from whispering post-shoegaze guitar drones to something altogether more grandiose.
It would be crass to describe the music as cinematic, but the first thing that strikes me about "And their Refinement of the Decline' is its similarity to the work of Zbigniew Preisner and specifically his work with film director Krzysztof Kieslowski. Stars of the Lid share Preisner's (and Kieslowski's) sense of restraint, minimalism and stark beauty without resorting to sentimentalism. What we have here is beautiful music in its rawest form - horns, strings and that haunting reverb-drenched guitar all perfectly placed and allowed time to breathe. Nothing here is rushed, you hear passages rise and fall gloriously, sounds make an entrance and slowly disappear and nothing ever dares to outstay its welcome.
Arvo Part, Gavin Bryars or Brian Eno would all be more than appropriate comparisons for this stunning collection of work, but Stars of the Lid are almost at the point where they defy comparison altogether. Of course they have introduced further, more overtly 'classical' elements into their mix but the music they are making is quite uniquely their own - they are one of those rare bands that has absolutely defined a sound. What we are hearing is frankly two musicians who are at the top of their game, sharing their carefully measured view of the world with us and allowing us a peek into musical perfection - and you really can't ask for anything more than that.
Orginially released on Sub Rosa in 2000, in between the band's 'Per Aspera Ad Astra' and 'The Tired Sounds of...' albums, this classic Stars of the Lid release has been out of print for years.
Now available again courtesy of kranky (coinciding nicely with the release of Stars of the Lid member Adam Wiltzie's sublime debut album under The 'Dead Texan' moniker and the release of Kranky's excellent second label compilation), "Avec Laudenum' is another mesmerising document of this indispensable band's low-level prowess.
Minimal yet full to bursting with melodic undertones, "Avec Laudenum" is an album that's widely regarded as possibly the band's most accessible work, immersive music that requires your immediate attention.
For anyone who knows these records already - you won't need much of a sermon from us about their stature and greatness. If you don't know them - you're in for a treat.
Rhythm & Sound was the project that Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald turned to after their seminal series of recordings as Basic Channel came to an end. From 1997 until 2002 the label released seven 12" EP's which pretty much defined the direction so much electronic music would turn to in its wake - and it still continues to exert a colossal influence, for better or worse. It's perhaps hard to remember over a decade later just how little these productions sounded like anything that preceded them - taking the essence of dub and breaking it down until all that was left was a vapour trail of melody and a colossal bass echo.
We could spend an hour listing all the music that basically came along and copied this template in the intervening years but, the thing is, none of what followed comes anywhere near these productions in terms of substance, none of it has aged in the same way. "Smile" was the fourth release on the label and is for many people its best - a three track EP clocking in at over 20 minutes and once again featuring the voice of Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, on the title track.
One of many peaches on Wackies, few are sweeter than Love Joys’ Lovers Rock Reggae Style .
Produced and originally issued by the JA/NYC bossman Bullwackie, and subsequently reissued via their Hardwax hook-up outta Germany, who’ve rightly kept it in print (this edition), Lovers Rock is all killer no filler, starring Claudette Brown and Sonia Abel riding high over killer disco-dub-edged lovers rock riddims such as the bubbling beauty One Draw and the synth-buoyed float of Let Me Rock You Now, all replete with dubs.
Listening to this latest album from Liz Harris’ Grouper project it’s easy to forget how much of a hard sell her music was back when 'Way Their Crept’ landed with us back in 2005.
Her eerie, layered mix of bare vocals, guitar and tape delay didn't quite fit in with what anyone else was really doing on the scene back then - and it completely knocked us out even if no one was buying it. By the time her breakthrough ‘Dragging a Dead Deer…’ arrived on Type three years later she was more or less playing to a baying mob hungry for any little morsel she cared to throw their way, her (by now) more fleshed out shoegaze variants marking her out as a natural outsider who had managed to tap into some kind of collective melancholy, her songs both hugely affecting and yet somehow emotionally opaque. Last year’s 'The Man Who Died In His Boat’ collected previously unreleased material from the ‘Dead Deer’ era and, despite it essentially being an assembly of offcuts, still managed to sound as coherent and bewitching as any of her ardent followers might have imagined. ‘Ruins’ is Harris' first new album proper in several years and - to no one’s surprise - is just utterly sublime.
The opening and closing tracks excepted, Harris’ instrument of choice here is the upright Piano, delivering a sequence of songs that feel utterly bereft and lonely, intended by Harris as “...a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love.” There are also found sounds (you can here a microwave switching itself back on after a powercut in the background), and the room recordings lend an effervescent quality to the recordings that somehow magnify the sense of timelessness. ‘Ruins' is book-ended by two instrumental pieces, the pulsating field recorded opener ‘Made of Metal’ and the 11 minute closer ‘Made of Air’, an instrumental, ambient piece recorded at her mother's house way back in 2004. Together, these tracks make for another sublime 40 minutes spent in Liz Harris’ company, a precious distraction from the clutter and noise of the outside world.
Brian Leeds a.k.a. Huerco S adopts the Loidis alias for this hypnagogic house turn on Hank Jackson’s Anno label, taken from his archive circa 2014-2016.
Following his recent emergence as Pendant, A Paradise, In The Place I Sit, The Floating World (& All Its Pleasures) appears to inhabit space between that alias and Brian's Huerco S styles, firstly feeling out a dub house blueprint layered with lush pads in A Parade - think Andreas Tilliander meets Shinichi Atobe - then following lusher lines of inquiry akin to 154’s Wherever You Go, I Will Follow on A Place Where I Sit, and then beautifully stretching out in a sun-baked jazz house style on The Floating World (And All Its Pleasures).
A bit of a no brainer if you ask we…
For anyone who knows these records already - you won't need much of a sermon from us about their stature and greatness. If you don't know them - you're in for a treat.
Rhythm & Sound was the project that Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald turned to after their seminal series of recordings as Basic Channel came to an end. From 1997 until 2002 the label released seven 12" EP's which pretty much defined the direction so much electronic music would turn to in its wake - and it still continues to exert a colossal influence, for better or worse.
It's perhaps hard to remember over a decade later just how little these productions sounded like anything that preceded them - taking the essence of dub and breaking it down until all that was left was a vapour trail of melody and a colossal bass echo. We could spend an hour listing all the music that basically came along and copied this template in the intervening years but, the thing is, none of what followed comes anywhere near these productions in terms of substance, none of it has aged in the same way. "Carrier" was the fifth release on the label and offers another 20 minute trip into the depths of fractured dub.
Klein serves her first release since last year’s ‘Tommy’ EP for Hyperdub on this new one for Bristol’s Howling Owl, following their coveted pressings of her debut LP ‘Only’ .
Without a doubt one of the most daring artists out there right now, Klein makes music acutely symptomatic of its era. Naturally, recklessly combining formerly mutually exclusive styles such as gospel and noise, or ambient collage and R&B, she somehow keeps a distinct aesthetic amid these dense expressions of modernity, cannily reflecting the normalisation of intensifying socio-economic anxieties and the inexorable drive of urban life within her navigations of chaotic sonic environments.
Forging sounds and styles as wild as anything from Bob Ostertag’s ‘DJ Of The Month’, or with the decentred intensity of Aaron Dilloway, Klein’s music is better distinguished by the way she effortlessly bridges dimensions and conjures whole new sensations for the listener to deal with. I mean, if you’re on this site, you’re probably familiar with both Hype Williams and Prurient, but like us, you’d probably struggle to think of another artist who sounds like both of them at the same time, and in that sense Klein’s music is neologistic, syncretic and blessed with an intuitive physics in a way that language and musical perception is only catching up with.
Yet it’s best received and deciphered with a red 3rd eye and porous 6th sense, cos any attempt to limn it in concrete, literal terms will never fully grasp its emotive chicanery and might dull its aura of outright, alien oddness.