Amazing record! Avant-pop enigma Leslie Winer slinks the plasmic, recursive matrices of Jay Glass Dubs in a brilliant but unexpected marriage of husky trip hop and psyched-out dub styles on Your Mom’s Favourite Eazy-E Song for Bristol’s excellent Bokeh Versions.
Finding common, scorched ground between Jay’s gutted structures and Leslie’s abyssal, esoteric insight, YMFEES serves to perfectly highlight the similarities and mutabilities common to both artist’s oeuvres, which have previously shared label space on The Tapeworm, and both share a keen lust for the dankest ends of the dub pool.
With Winer’s lyrics reprinted in swirling ellipses and contoured kerning on the inner sleeve, and presumably (and smartly) designed to mirror the elusive structure of Jay Glass Dub’s arrangements, the listener is offered some kind of star chart thru their no-man’s-land mental dub scapes of ricocheting riddims and droll reportage from the brink of consciousness.
In a dancefloor situation, we’d imagine these tracks to trigger some healthy bewilderment, as bodies get snagged on Jay’s cranky churn and heads spun by Leslie’s stream-of-non sequiturs in Woodshedded, or likewise bullied by the blown-out bass and genuinely spooked, over-the-shoulder vocal of About The Author. However, it’s most likely to be consumed in solitude, which is probably the most appropriate for really getting into the album’s strangest nooks, such as the deliciously OOBE-like detachment of No Famous Actors featuring Winer as HAL-like ghost in the machine, or the masterfully heavy-lidded drowse of Cogged featuring a barely-there Winer suspended above Dubs’ murkiest, hypnotic strokes.
What a beauty?! Don’t sleep!
Cooked up and cooled out in time for summer, the 2nd part of Theo Parrish’s pivotal and deeply influential debut album, First Floor  lands back on the format it was conceived for. Best believe this is one of the most addictive, raw and soulful collections of music from the Det-Chi connection that you’ll ever hear.
Now on its 3rd vinyl edition, First Floor Part 2 still sounds achingly strong and inimitable as ever, working right on that soulspot with the haunting swagger of Electric AlleyCat and the air-treading pressure of Sky Walking beside swingeing drum cut ups in JB’s Edit and Dark Patterns, and proper, sun-dazed funk in Electric AlleyCat.
If you don’t know; here’s your chance! Essentials.
Warp’s resuscitated Arcola label gets into 2nd gear with an hypnotic techno trip by Dream Catalog boss David Russo (HKE) and Luke Laurila (t e l e p a t h) in their 2814 mode.
A-side they synch a misty-eyed vision of Burial on techno manoeuvres in Tokyo - or Phaeleh dabbing dubhouse in Chinatown, depending your disposition - with the monotone pulse and swarming atmospheric disturbance of Pillar, while the B-side loops up and pursues that feeling down a reverberating alley of ambient garage techno for gamers.
Imagine Arve Henriksen jamming with Jon Hassell and Vangelis on a dusky evening by the savannah / prairie / dockside - you’re in sniffing distance of the properly lush vibes in Joseph Shabason’s Aytche. 4th world, yacht-drift ambient and new age, he does them all beautifully well inside. And if you don’t believe us, then trust pivotal Montreal players Sandro Perri (Polmo Polpo) who says “highly recommended”.
“Saxophonist and composer Joseph Shabason's debut Aytche builds a bridge off of the precipice his forbears established, skirting jazz, ambient, and even new age with the same deliberate genre-ambiguity that made their work so interesting.
Aytche is a document of exploration both inward and outward. Every step taken in sound-design mirrors a stride in emotionality, as Shabason employs a variety of effect pedals to coax rich moody textures from his instrument. He explains, "I feel like robbing the sax of the ability to shred by effecting it and turning it into a dense chordal instrument really helps the instrument become something that it's not usually known for." Aytche deals with themes of degenerative illness and assisted suicide with eloquence that instrumental music rarely achieves regarding any subject, much less such difficult ones.
Album highlight "Westmeath" approaches Aytche's subject of inspiration head-on. Here, the album's only verbalization appears in the form of an interview with a man discussing his father's trauma and eventual suicide after surviving the holocaust. Though we only hear a few obscured words and phrases from the interview, the impact is powerful. For Shabason, whose grandparents survived the holocaust, this selection is anything but frivolous.”
Sterling Dug Out drop: a delectable slab of talking drums and late night rasta soul by a former Jamaican drumming champion, recorded at Harry J. Studio and mixed at King Tubby’s, 1976.
Fronted by Leroy ‘Mabrak’ Mattis, and originally issued on his Lightening & Thunder label (Issat Mabrak in Amharic), Drum Talk was conceived as an extension of his Liquid Talk version for Harry J’s personal mix of the legendary Liquidator Riddim - essentially a live version loaded up with his own drumming - which impressed Tubby so much that he asked Mabrak to do a full album of Harry J riddims.
Drum Talk is that album, and it’s a beauty. In terms of smoked-out midnight vibes, it’s about as close as you’ll come to the deeply cherished reissue of the Dadawah album in Dug Out’s catalogue but, it’s also more danceable, if you’re partial to a woozy skank.
For percussion nuts and Jamaican music lovers, Drum Talk comes with the warmest recommendations.
12th Isle pick up and press X.Y.R.’s sublime trip El Dorado on its 1st vinyl version following a sold out micro edition of 25 tapes released thru Illuminated Paths in 2015.
A perfect fit for the label’s emerging aesthetic, equally porous to influence from 4th world and ambient dimensions, X.Y.R. uses archaic Soviet synths such as the Formanta mini keytar and Alisa 1377 to divine a pulpy blend of “experimental cinema sonics, electroacoustic research practice and shadowy wind instruments” in a way that’s comparable to Popol Vuh or Eduard Artemiev’s widescreen synth visions, but grounded with a more lo-fi sweat lodge mysticism.
Like some intergalactic bard, Vladimir Karpov a.k.a. X.Y.R. has also toured the likes of Singapore Sling Tapes, Not Not Fun Records and Constellation Tatsu with this sound over the best part of last decade, with El Dorado remaining an elusive highlight of his journey. In six parts it unfolds a tenderly personalised, shimmering sound world, a place for mental retreat thru atmospheric anaesthetisation, keeping all the tones weightless and free floating for a lushly immersive sense of suspense that should be clearly recognised as precious by any souls sensitive to rarified electronic psychedelia.
AtomTM returns to raster to complete his series that has begun with Liedgut and continued with Winterreise.
"The 7 tracks, created in collaboration with russian singer lisokot, are subdivided into 3 pieces of 2 minutes each and 4 pieces of 3 minutes each, intentionally reflecting the 3/4 time of a classic waltz. throughout the release, lisokot’s delicate vocals are put into different relations to atomTM’s rather cool machine music, either complementing or contrasting each other. in the same line, the 3 shorter “leitmotifs” provide the main theme that is taken up repeatedly in the course of the release."
Antwerp’s Ekster Records proceed Elko B’s flight of fancy with Gazebo Compositions, a sophisticated suite of solo piano compositions by Han Swolf aka Hantrax, whose previous releases have swerved from braindance electro to more cyberpunkish concerns recently on Ticker Tape Parade for Palermo Records.
Gazebo Compositions appears to by-pass his electronic inclinations and find the artist returning to his roots at the piano stool, where he turns inspiration from a video-work by Flemish filmmaker Jef Cornelis into a series of ambiguously nuanced mood pieces reflecting on themes of youth and its inherent emotional turmoil.
The eight pieces are almost exclusively informed by jazz and classical schooling and performed on winged piano, clearly demonstrating Swolfe’s instrumental aptitude (he was accepted at the prestigious Antwerp Jazz Studio aged 15) and virtuosity in its carefully plotted narrative and play of harmonic shadowing.
However, if we’re correct, it’s possible to also detect the subtle presence of electronics underlining a number of the pieces, as with the swooning bass behind Composition in Cmin, and which shockingly prang out from Dor de Casa, whilst the LP’s title piece - and head-turning highlight - Conservatory features heavy electronic processing to radiant and absolutely immersive effect, in a strong way recalling the electro-acoustic nuance and duality of the Belgian composer, Dominique Lawalrée, who was recent subject of a crucial retrospective.
For your late needs and dreams of high-ceilinged apartments, this one comes with warmest recommendations.
Canadian quartet BADBADNOTGOOD take on creating the ultimate “late night” selection of tracks from their record collections...
"The original trio of Matthew Tavares, Alex Sowinski and Chester Hansen formed while studying music at Toronto’s Humber College (they’ve recently added Leland Whitty to the line-up). A shared appreciation of hip hop and instrumental covers of Gucci Mane and Earl Sweatshirt suggested a worldly outlook and reciprocated love from Tyler The Creator and Ghostface Killah, which whom they made 2015’s Sour Soul.
This is an international effort: Velly Joonas’ Estonian version of ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’, Kiki Gyan, Admas and Francis Bebey representing Africa (Ghana, Ethiopia and Cameroon respectively), Les Prospection from France, Scots’ Boards Of Canada and fellow Canucks River Tiber and Charlotte Day Wilson.
Finally, there’s the no-small-matter of the Late Night Tales cover version, in which BADBADNOTGOOD take on Andy Shauf’s ‘To You’ is turned into a mournful delight. while the Queen Of Siam herself, Lydia Lunch, delivers a sexual sermon involving only you, her and Jim Beam.
“We were really excited to have the chance to put together a Late Night Tales compilation, it’s a great organisation. We decided to use it as a vehicle to show everyone all the amazing music we have gotten to experience by touring and meeting new people. Every track on this comp was either shown to us by an incredible person or made by one of our friends. We also included a little cover of a song by one of our favourite current musicians, Andy Shauf.
These artists, as well as many, many others, have infuenced us to create and kept our deep love of music alive. This mix will keep you company on a quiet night by yourself or with friends. You can check it out on the plane, the bus, a long walk, or any situation where you want a soundtrack for reflection and meditation.” - BADBADNOTGOOD May 2017
After 23 years out of print, FSOL’s definitive early ‘90s ambient-epic Lifeforms now returns to its natural habitat. Serving near-dangerous levels of nostalgia for almost anyone who came thru in the ‘90s, Lifeforms is set to soundtrack myriad afterparties and claim its place on a whole new generation of record shelves.
Originally released in 1994, a few years after FSOL had become a household name thanks to their debut LP Accelerator and its standout rave anthem, Papua New Guinea (and not forgetting Humanoid’s Stakker before it), Brian Dougans and Garry Cobain’s project really blossomed into something else with Lifeforms, where they consolidated a wealth of esoteric ideas and philosophies into what was effectively a new manifesto for psychedelic electronic music.
Whether unconsciously and osmotically absorbed, or dutifully studied and cherished by those cognisant of its brilliance, Lifeforms was almost unavoidably ubiquitous at the time, and inarguably worked its way into the popular consciousness in a way that electronic records rarely do nowadays. It was definitely a product of its time, and now, 23 years later, we can safely say it’s kept its charms intact.
Riffing on then-emergent themes of cybernetics, amorphous androgyny and artificial intelligence, together with nods to classic ‘70s psychedelia and kosmische - it features guest spots from Ozric Tentacles and Robert Fripp, and sampled Klaus Schulze - the results tapped into the era’s undercurrent of aerobic mysticism and eldritch new age spirituality to locate an unprecedented confluence of those styles which has influenced swathes of electronic dreamers ever since.
It’s techno-romantic and tech-gnostic in the lushest sense, a utopian beauty flush with the thrill of unknown futures, yet fringed with an MDMA come-down melancholy that’s totally crucial to understanding that era’s play and juxtaposition of energies. Quite simply, though: Lifeforms is an incredibly enigmatic and life-affirming album awaiting your (re)discovery.
…And the earth crack'd to reveal Scott Walker & Sunn 0)))'s colossal offspring 'Soused' in its riveting, tragic glory.
Four years on from their intended collaboration in 'Monoliths & Dimensions', the arch avant-crooner meets the robed duo (and Tos Nieuwenhuizen) at the apex of their powers, presenting a peerless, operatic vision of doom metal informed as much by Native American history and the underground US psyche as experimental jazz and electronic dynamics. We can safely say it matches and surpasses our high expectations of the project, offering a complex, widescreen portal to a chiaroscuro world slashed in black by Anderson and O'Malley and illuminated by Walker's range of possessed vocal personas, from anguished despair to internal torment and shocking convulsions.
Embarking over the bull-whipped Moog bass momentum and banking riffs of 'Brando', Walker is a disturbing yet utterly compelling presence enticing us to cross thresholds into the arcane, uncanny worlds animated by Sunn 0))), whether projecting across the molasses drone trudge of 'Bull' or alternately wilting and lashing out from the percussive attacks and abyssal tar pits of 'Herod 2014'. By 4th song 'Fetish' their path has narrowed to a 'marish corridor of re-amped synth ghouls and spectral noise before distant drums abort the pregnant drones somewhere in the final third, for closing shot, 'Lullaby' to emulsify their unheimlich resolution at its most dramatic, synth-fired and intimate. It's a genuinely remarkable session, surely one of 2014's best.
Echovolt’s reissue series turns up a clutch of early ‘90s Italian deep and dream house gems by Don Carlos, all drawn from his illustrious catalogue of more than 25 years of productions.
It’s well worth checking for the NYC-spirited flutes and pads of the introductory Inspiration, and not least for the chiming, metallic calypso motif that opens and slinks thru Moment, especially cos it sounds like a dead ringer for the lick from Para Noise’s rare New Beat classique, Incantations.
Uncompromising minimalism from the Bristol underground courtesy of Emptyset and their long-awaited debut full-length.
The duo have been exploring brutally reduced techno styles over the course of three 12"s for Caravan and Future Days since 2007, aligning the bass heavy sound of their Bristol heritage with the streamlined and linear structures of Berlin's Sleeparchive or Marcel Dettmann. For their self titled release they've extended the concept to a full album, allowing themselves to move away from strictly dancefloor functions and experiment with merging drones and gruff tonal textures into their oblique rhythms.
At times there are hints of inspiration from Alva Noto, in the caustic digital textures, or even glimpses of isolated Deathprod bliss, but the closest comparison may be to Dubstep's noise mongers Cloaks, who also stoically mix noisy textures with repetitive beats inherited from the dancefloor. Very good indeed.
RVNG Intl parse Pauline Anna Strom’s incredible new age recordings on this collection of boundary-smudging synth journeys, containing material originally released between 1982 and 1988. They've spent almost a decade trying to bring this collection to life, kudos to them once again for compiling and conceiving it with so much care and attention to detail.
Drawn from seven obscure tape and vinyl releases made between 1982 and 1988, Trans-Millenia Music lives up to its mantle with a sense of ancient knowledge transposed into the contemporary future of the 1980s, realising a latent, transcendent sound that was perhaps just waiting for technology to catch up so it could speak freely.
Through the circuitry of pioneering synth tools, the blind composer and keyboardist from San Francisco feels out a spectrum of unfathomably celestial and synaesthetically-heightened sound colour along myriad, psychedelic vectors, haptically connecting diffuse spatial coordinates with a gossamer web of FX and morphing filter envelopes.
It’s music for oceanic introspection, beckoning listeners to fall deep inside themselves and diffract profound visions through their own lens, where you can interpret her descriptions of sonic flight in Crusing Altitude 36,000 Feet and In Flight Suspension, or decode the entheogenic synth voices of Mushroom Trip according to your own understanding of the cosmos and its play of energies, and draw your own meanings.
Gorgeous music, highly recommended if you're into Suzanne Ciani, Laurie Speigel or indeed Midori Takada.
South London soundman Parris stacks up four signature cuts of low key, crackly, sub-heavy vibes on his subtly probing debut with The Trilogy Tapes after really coming into his own over the past few years via 12”s for Ancient Monarchy, Idle Hands, and Hemlock, plus the ace TX280916 / TX111116 mix for Keysound.
The 2 Vultures EP catches Parris at his idiosyncratic best, hustling an early hours-of-the-dance feel that works beautifully well at setting mutable, plasmic pressure for heavier things to come, or just as well for eazing off in the comfort of your own space.
EP opener Lionel’s Dub is one the most orthodox, classically-rooted dubs we’ve heard from the guy, something like a dusty echo of Adrian Sherwood at his most red-eyed, whereas Hot-Blooded gets down to some Farben-esque micro-house with added steppers bass pressure. 2 Vultures then follows a masseur path into melting, brittle dub architecture, leavened by genteel jazz touches, and Hanging With The Birds can’t fail to leave you beaming its feathered confection of bird calls, bobbling bass and Mario power ups.
An absolute classic of the genre, this 2005 debut album from the Norwegian duo of Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland is a miraculous, hugely evocative blend and smoke-filled ambience and modern classical inversions that has more or less defined its own sub-genre in the decade since it was released. If you're into William Basinski, Lynch/Badalamenti, Eno or Harold Budd, this is as essential as it gets.
Over layers of fizzing aural sediment, Deaf Center build the kind of vista-expanding, piano tinged music that has you thinking you're in your own film. Manifesting itself in the stravaig and epic iciness of 'Thread', or the etiolated Nyman piano of 'White Lake', Deaf Center have a seemingly bottomless supply of pathos on which to draw.
For this new 2016 vinyl edition, Skodvin & Totland rappel deeper into the Pale Ravine to unearth a previously unreleased side D on occasion of the album’s 11th anniversary edition. All five pieces were made during the same 2003-2005 era as the rest of the album, yet didn’t make it onto the single, original LP edition. Now rejoined with their noumenal siblings, and, like the rest of the LP, they have more room to breathe and haunt, especially in the abyssal allure of Social Lucy Waltz, or the diaphanous, chiaroscuro pall of End Station at the album’s new final destination.
Just incredible music.
Excellent album of plasmic ambient dub pop, neatly balanced between weightless yearn and meatier industrial leanings, perhaps best grasped as some dream meeting between Suzanne Ciani, Teresa Winter and CoH?
“Air Lows is the debut solo album by Silvia Kastel. The Italian artist has been a fixture of the underground since her precocious teens, clocking up many miles in Control Unit with Ninni Morgia (“It’s like Catherine Deneuve dumped two cases of post-Repulsion psychiatric notes over Pere Ubu’s Dub Housing, lit the fuse and, ahem, stood well back" – Julian Cope), including collaborations with the likes of Smegma, Factrix, Gary Smith, Aki Onda and Gate (Michael Morley of The Dead C).
Both solo and in her work with others, Kastel has explored the outer limits and inner workings of no wave, industrial, dub, extreme electronics, free rock and improvisation. Air Lows is both her fullest and most refined offering to date, a work of vivid, isolationist electronics which draws deeply on her past experience but assuredly breaks new ground. Prompted by a late-flowering interest in techno and club music, Kastel sought to create something which combines a steady rhythmic pulse with the otherworldly sonorities of musique concrete, and avant-garde synth sounds inspired by Japanese minimalism and techno-pop (Haruomi Hosono’s Philharmony being a particular favourite).
The formal artifice of muzak / elevator music, the intros and outros of generic popular songs, the extreme light-heavy contrasts of jungle, the creative sampling of hardcore, and the very “human” synths in the jazz of Herbie Hancock’s Sextant and Sun Ra: all were touchstones for Air Lows’ conception and composition, and all strains of music addressing - or complicating - the relationship between the human and the technological.
By extension, visual inspirations also proved important: anime, and the avant-garde fashion of Rei Kawakubo. What does that shirt or dress sound like? Though used sparingly, Kastel’s voice remains her key instrument, whether subject to dissociative digital manipulations as on ‘Bruell’, delivering matter-of-fact spoken monologues, or providing splashes of pure tonal colour.
Recorded between her expansive Italy studio and a more compact, ersatz set-up in Berlin, Air Lows gradually takes on some of the character of the German capital: you can hear the wide streets and uninhabited spaces, the seepage of never-ending nightlife, the loneliness.
Air Lows is The Wizard of Oz in reverse: the glorious technicolour J-pop deconstructions of its first half leading inexorably to the icy noir of ‘Spiderwebs’ and ‘Concrete Void’. These later tracks are reminiscent of 2015’s magnificent 39 12”, Kastel in the role of numbed, nihilistic chanteuse stalking dank, murky tunnels of reverb and sub-bass. But in fact there is contradiction and emotional ambiguity to Air Lows from the outset, and throughout - a sense of both infinite space and acute claustrophobia; energy and inertia; fluency and restraint.”
Oliver Ho aka Broken English Club is the latest consort to Jealous God, the beautifully curated label administered by James Ruskin, Juan Mendez and Karl O'Connor.
Miles away from Ho's best known output as Raudive and under his own name, his 'Jealous God 04' dices with depressive and awkward post-punk, new wave and industrial memes over five icy cuts laced with speed-tweak noise and his own, blunted vocals. From the primordial no wave dub beginnings of 'A Square Shaped Room' the session takes shape with the drugged, sluggish electro-wave ace 'Boxes' and the dry, rasping delivery of knowing vocals and dissonant drones in 'Birth Control'. B-side, 'Casual Sex' is the record's most obvious dancefloor tune, mustering a muggy but lucid chug hypnotised with adder-charming whistle and Genesis-aping vocal beside the suffocating, skin-crawling atmosphere and malformed wriggle of 'Plastic Bag'. Best Jealous God yet? It's a toss up with the Powell remix…
On his 7th studio LP, Nils Frahm shows off the results of recording in his new, bespoke studio, based in the legendary Funkhaus on the bank of the Spree in East Berlin. Frahm’s signature, melancholic solo piano works share space with runs into 4th World soundscaping, illusive rhythms played on organs-as-drum machines, and gingerly crafted posh tech house minimalism.
“Since the day Nils first encountered the impressive studio of a family friend, he had envisioned to create one of his own at such a large scale. Fast forward to the present day and Nils is now the proud host of Saal 3, part of the historical 1950s East German Funkhaus building beside the River Spree. It is here where he has spent most of his time deconstructing and reconstructing the entire space from the cabling and electricity to the woodwork, before moving on to the finer elements; building a pipe organ and creating a mixing desk all from scratch with the help of his friends. This is somewhere music can be nurtured and not neglected, and where he can somewhat fulfil his pursuit of presenting music to the world as close to his imagination as possible.
His previous albums have often been accompanied with a story, such as Felt (2011) where he placed felt upon the hammers of the piano out of courtesy to his neighbours when recording late at night in his old bedroom studio, and the following album Screws (2012) when injuring his thumb forced him to play with only nine fingers. His new album is born out of the freedom that his new environment provided, allowing Nils to explore without any restrictions and to keep it All about the Melody.
Despite being confined within the majestic four walls of the Funkhaus, buried deep in its reverb chambers, or in an old dry well in Mallorca, All Melody is, in fact, proof that music is limitless, timeless, and reflects that of Nils’ own capabilities. From a boy’s dream to resetting the parameters of music itself.
Words from Nils, October 2017:
“In the process of completion, any album not only reveals what it has become but, maybe more importantly, what it hasn’t become. All Melody was imagined to be so many things over time and it has been a whole lot, but never exactly what I planned it to be. I wanted to hear beautiful drums, drums I’ve never seen or heard before, accompanied by human voices, girls, and boys. They would sing a song from this very world and it would sound like it was from a different space. I heard a synthesiser which sounds like a harmonium playing the All Melody, melting together with a line of a harmonium sounding like a synthesiser. My pipe organ would turn into a drum machine, while my drum machine would sound like an orchestra of breathy flutes. I would turn my piano into my very voice, and any voice into a ringing string. The music I hear inside me will never end up on a record, as it seems I can only play it for myself. This record includes what I think sticks out and describes my recent musical discoveries in the best possible way I could imagine.”
Brusque, Ballardian EBM techno and industrial clangers from Oliver Ho in his Broken English Club style.
The A-side’s Accidents & Romance clamps down with rottie-toothed 16th note synth snarls and back-breaking kicks whilst the owner chats like a man possessed, somewhere above the escalating madness.
B-side, Country Life bucks up some recoiling and lustrous EBM funk that burns on contact, backed with a descent into crushing industrial torpor with Private Death.
Banlieu bossman Benoit B offers a string of pearly, Far Eastern-facing vignettes on Berceuse Heroique in Japonaiserie, so titled in tribute to the term Vincent Van Gogh used to express the influence of Japanese art.
With a similar lightness of touch and colour applied in delicate strokes, Benoit B’s music lives up to the title in eight parts of almost weightless tonal structure and skittish rhythm, embellishing and adding to a long-standing sino-euro route of influence which is arguably at the crest of a wave right now with the swell of reissued electronic delicacies from ‘80s Japan.
RIYL Visible Cloaks, KWC, Japan Blues
Russell Haswell runs amok for Diagonal on a zinging 5-track “mini-LP” featuring, for the first time on a Haswell record, vocals; by performance artist Sue Tompkins ov Glasgow’s Life Without Buildings.
Taking cues from his formative teenage years listening to John Peel and discovering Factory, Mute and 4AD and Chicago house - prior to stints as a Christian missionary and chimney sweep at Sellafield - Haswell mangles those reverential memories as only he can in Respondent, resulting a blatz of blitzed bangers and curious aural probes making a significant new dimensions to his sound.
The highlight is undoubtedly his hook-up with Sue Tompkins, whose assertions that “records are round” nestle among more enigmatic confessions on the creased Chicago house-meets-freestyle abstraction, Special Long Version (Demo), while the runner-up prize goes to the EP’s final cut, Let Suffering Become You, which cannily opens with a sample of Jonathan Guiness being snooty about punks, then calves into the sickest acid techno bosch.
His other cuts are cool too, revealing a lesser-heard and relatively “clean” tonal aspect in the warped synthline of The Surface Is Unrevealing, and some proper DJ tackle in his lazed-misguided missile First In Man (Williams Mix).
We reckon you’ll all be coming back to that cracker with Sue Tompkins.
The latest release on Peder Mannerfelt’s eponymous label is this killer debut album of crackshot, wiry and killer techno variants from Simon Haydo, composed exclusively using a Korg MS-20.
Working shades away from Mannerfelt’s less-is-more style, Haydo becomes the latest in a line of producers stretching from Suicide thru Fad Gadget and Powell to fetishise and utilise Korg’s classic, tactile little box for everything from kick drums to melodies and anything between.
However, The Illusion of an Alternative Choice would simply be an academic exercise in asceticism if it weren’t for the remarkable diversity of sounds Haydo generates from his chosen bit of kit. Like Lorenzo Senni with his Roland JP-8080, or Mark Fell with the Yamaha DX7, Haydo reveals a wealth of variation from the MS-20, revelling in its textured gradients and tweaky integers between the pulsating, viscous morph and off-kilter dissonance of Let Know to the search & destroy ‘ardcore mentasm-style licks of Not For You?, thru the dry, blocky roller The Go!, the sharp-cut jakbeat of Parade Of Unhappy and unstable cosmic fuss of Out.
In effect, by proving you can create a whole record with lots of variation, but only using one synth, Haydo also cocks a cool snook at those n00b producers with expensive banks of kit who produce the most prosaic, tepid and gridlocked house - basically proving that it’s not what you’ve got, but how you use it.
Belfast’s S>>D kicks it for the old skool Skam heads with a heavy batch of technoid hip hop beats landing square between Made’s Untitled album, VHS Head, and classic Gescom. Listen out for highlights in the mission sequence Devil’s Tower, the Dopplereffekt-meets-Black Zone Myth Chant arpeggios of Silver Shamrock Intermission, and stealth mode electro of Cell Intruder.
“S>>D aka Sean Dorris from Belfast delivers his debut album 'Co Intel Pro' on CPU. Refined sampling alongside hip hop influenced breaks sees S>>D operating in a similar dimension to VHS Head. Reminiscent of 1980s sci-fi soundtracks interwoven with IDM-tinged electro, haunting atmospheres prevail throughout with hints of a genre that has yet to emerge.”
Grade A, live improvised guitar and drum roil from the inimitable Bhutanese string picker Tashi Dorji and superb, free-limbed percussionist Tyler Damon. It can be such a fine line between embarrassing onanism and anticipation-baiting, edge of seat improv, but luckily this pair fall squarely in the latter category. Feral, biting, wickedly unpredictable stuff on Loren Connors’ label.
"When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself." - Shunryu Suzuki
As live albums go, Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon nail it down. No matter the crowd -- head thrashers, Instagram zombies, shaken jazzniks -- the shadow lines of feedback and bombastic percussive bombs are always at peak intensity. Through telepathic engagement the Bhutanese-born guitarist Dorji and Midwestern drummer Damon act with one-mind destruction as Leave No Trace: Live In St. Louis perfectly captures. It’s a pure sound for these disruptive, politically tumultuous times. Or Marc Masters describes it as -- a power lurching at you “in ways that feel dangerously uncontrolled, like someone playing with a plugged-in toaster over a filled-up bathtub.”
Mackem pop-funk marmite with added flute, piccolo and flugelhorn. Sounds a bit like it was based on a Vic Reeves sketch about Steely Dan
"The two years since Commontime have been strange and turbulent. If you thought the world made some kind of sense, you may have questioned yourself a few times in the past two years. And that questioning, that erosion of faith - in people, in institutions, in shared experience - runs through every song on the new Field Music album.
But there's no gloom here. For Peter and David Brewis, playing together in their small riverside studio has been a joyful exorcism. Open Here is the last in a run of five albums made at the studio, an unprepossessing unit on a light industrial estate in Sunderland. Whilst the brothers weren't quite tracking while the wrecking balls came, the eviction notice received in early 2017 gave the brothers a sense of urgency in the recording of Open Here.
There probably won't be many other rock records this year, or any year, which feature quite so much flute and flugelhorn (alongside the saxophones, string quartet and junk box percussion). But somehow or other, it comes together. Over thirteen years and six albums, Field Music have managed to carve a niche where all of these sounds can find a place; a place where pop music can be as voracious as it wants to be.”
The kinetic chromatic techno chronics of Karen Gwyer’s Rembo album come under remix fire from Via App, Ron Morelli, E Myers and M//R for DBA.
Via App pursues Karen’s The Workers Are On Strike along twisted vectors similar to her BANK Records NYC and 1080p releases with wickedly discombobulated results. L.I.E.S. C.E.O. Ron Morelli runs He’s Been Teaching Me To Drive down a long techno tunnel.
E Myers does his retro-vintage Chicago house thing with a touch of jazzy class on his take of It’s Not Worth The Bother, and M//R reworks Why Does Your Father Look So Nervous as a deep, sidewinding sort of electro-techno meditation.
Super colourful and richly patterned pop music from Morr Music's earliest operative B. Fleischmann, working healthy inspiration from classic Afrobeat, highlife and modern Afro-pop into his joyfully optimistic and evergreen style of pop songwriting
“B. Fleischmann, the longest-tenured solo artist on Morr Music, returns with indie-spirited, electronica-enhanced moments of bliss on his new album Stop Making Fans. Recorded with a little help from friends including vocalist Gloria Amesbauer, Markus Schneider (guitars), and Valentin Duit (drums), it's a two-part reflection on artistic self-reliance vs. fame-seeking conformism, another deeply personal, utterly idiosyncratic album by the indie-tronic trailblazer.
"Stop it and just DO", Sol LeWitt once wrote to sculptor Eva Hesse -- and listening to B. Fleischmann's new album, he indeed does both: He slams on the brakes and stops looking at what anyone else is doing, stops pleasing, stops being restrained, and at the same time he floors the accelerator and delivers the kind of high-paced work that bursts at the seams with polyphonic energy and an urgency unique to his music.
Arriving with interlocked bleeps, the hustle and bustle of an invisible grand station's atrium ("Here Comes The A Train"), Fleischmann's trademark vocals serve as a gentle reminder to resist the siren calls, to not trust the latest hype. Energy levels remain high throughout the first part of the album -- whether it's the mumbling, personal stocktaking of what feels like an underwater hymn ("There Is A Head"), the robotic, immodest pop tune "It's Not Enough" (featuring Gloria Amesbauer) or the return to light-speed mode on "Wakey Wakey" -- the first half of this album is indeed all about letting off some steam.
After the collected canter of seven-minute instrumental "Hand In", the multi-instrumentalist and his studio mates kick off the slower-paced part two with the title song: it's a sonic tapestry that's impossible to compare or pigeonhole when he changes the rhythm in mid-track and turns yet another corner when you thought there was a fixed pattern. Guest singer Gloria Amesbauer returns for soothing tunes "The Pros Of Your Children" and "Hello Hello". B. Fleischmann guides us to his almost jazz-tinged "Little Toy", and leaves behind an "Endless Stunner" -- another typically dense and shape-shifting stream of harmonies.
Stop Making Fans, Fleischmann's his first full-length release in five years, is another totally unique, and thus potentially fan-base enhancing release.”
Dan Abrams' Shuttle 358 is responsible for one of our favourite electronic albums of the early 21st century - 2000’s ‘Frame' - a masterpiece of Ambient music that recalls everything from Brian Eno to SND. Not the most prolific of artists, Abrams’ has only had a handful of releases credited to Shuttle 358 in the intervening years, so it’s a treat to see him back with a new full length for Taylor Deupree’s 12k.
Effectively a comfort blanket of chords and gossamer timbres held together with fizzing filaments, Field extends Abrams' beautiful signatures into more diverse terrain, working with ostensibly redundant sonic data - the sound of CPU’s booting up, dying, coughing - and the inherent grain and colour of early DSP algorithms - to creates vivid, living and breathing imaginary spaces.
These unpredictable digital behaviours suggest a ghost in the machine, a rarified personal spirit that perfuses the arrangements with an emotive mutability, diffused thru their midnight, jazz-wise hazy maze of fractured rhythms in a way that resonates deftly with his earliest gestures.
In a sense, Abrams is like a digital candle flickering at the core of Shuttle 358, quietly catalysing the atmosphere in myriad, microscopic chain reactions that shift across the ears, emulating imaginary space and teasing our 6th sense of perception with uncanny, but never invasive incision.
If you’re into SND, Jan Jelinek, or The Remote Viewer - this one's well worth checking out.
The chance to see Masahiko Satoh with The Akira Sakata Trio (with Chris Corsano and Darin Gray) was truly the most lightning fast processing of information I have had the honor to witness in years. NUTS. — Jim O’Rourke
"Proton Pump is a milestone achievement in the winding career of alto saxophonist, gibberish shrieker and jazz legend Akira Sakata. It’s a lightning-fast, real-time cut-up of melody and bare-knuckle action that swings between the avant-garde and hardcore be-bop. Sakata is backed by his famed rhythm crew Chikamorachi -- drummer Chris Corsano and acoustic bassist Darin Gray -- and joined by composer and pianist Masahiko Satoh.
Sakata and Satoh emerged out of the late-1960s Tokyo jazz scene -- Satoh already releasing albums and Sakata soon joining the famed The Yamashita Trio -- and while they’ve since become uncompromising pillars of free music and vision this marks their first proper album together.
On Proton Pump’s four pieces, Sakata is absolutely on top form on alto saxophone and clarinet -- blowing bold melodies with unstoppable momentum and also injecting deep textural fields with his startling vocalizations. Satoh’s piano is hyperbolic throughout as he splatters counterpoints and brilliant tones at dizzying speed.
Recorded before a jaw-dropped audience at Pit Inn, Tokyo in October 2015.”
The Soft Moon come over all EBM and NIИ-like in their 4th album for Captured Tracks.
Touted as “…the most self-reflective work to date by the industrial/post punk mastermind…” it tallies up his signature snarlers and leather-clad antics with more forays into decidedly ‘90s style of gothic synth-pop and steaming cyberpunk slammers. It’s a ravishingly dramatic and erotic record - one for the darkrooms, moist teenage bedrooms and grimacing headphone commutes.
“‘Criminal’, The Soft Moon's fourth studio album, is a confessional work. Through the stark lens of shame and guilt that has followed Luis Vasquez since a violent childhood growing up within the humming ambient sprawl of 80s Mojave Desert, here he documents the gut-wrenching sound of going to war with himself. Battling with his own sanity, self-hatred, insecurity, self-entitlement and grappling with the risk of these things transforming him into a person he despises, Vasquez has laid his feelings bare with this: his confession and most self-reflective work to date.
“Guilt is my biggest demon and has been following me since childhood. Everything I do strengthens the narrative that I am guilty” Vasquez reflects. “The concept of ‘Criminal’ is a desperate attempt to find relief by both confessing to my wrongdoings and by blaming others for their wrongdoings that have affected me.”
German Army fully tilt into Muslimgauze or Mutamassik-styled noisy drums and atonality on More Bitter Fruit manoeuvres for Discrepant. Don’t leave without checking their dense roiling rager Dessalines - Christophe - Backwards Habit, the head-spinning clatter of Silencing The Past, and the properly blown-out dub terror of Duvalierism (u) at the very least.
“South Californian dons of occult electronics, German Army return to discrepant with their first solo vinyl outing LP for the label after an inaugural tape back in 2015 and a split collaboration with Old Komm in 2016.
Taking the events described in the 1982 book of the same title, the CIA coup in Guatemala in 1954, the duo eloquently translates this textbook case of bullying relationship between the United States and the Third World. Using some of U.S. government documents and interviews with former CIA agents they go deep in the Guatemala jungle through their trademark use of guitars and electronics drenched in echo and reverb of times past.
Another mysterious entry from the shady San Bernadino duo, showing their interest and research in poorly documented history of the 21st Century.
“German Army could end up winning an Oscar for soundtracking a particularly dark war film or dying in the gutter when none of us are looking. Let’s hope they keep delivering the heroin highs, and lows, we’ve come so accustomed to nodding off to.”
It’s all back to Sam’s for a slice, a beer and a bit of a shuffle on the laid-back Pizza Party, Samiyam’s 2nd album for Stones Throw following Animals Have Feelings  and previous projects with Flying Lotus for Brainfeeder.
The sort of slab one can toss on deck and let play while one builds a zoot or something equally creative and useful, Pizza Party plays it slow and low in 12 well-measured parts, sequenced to suspend your stance somewhere between vertical and horizontal in its viscous whorl of woozy chords and slompy bass peppered with subtle trills like lighters sparking and vibes eazing like smoke in the air.
There are big highlights in the heavy-lidded lean of Jerky and the squashed synth jabs of Pizza Party, plus some proper chunky butt strut in Ruff, and Jonwayne lends a hand on the faded bump ’n shuffle of What Can I Do.
He’s drilled right down to what matters on this one. Primed to play over and again.
Crackshot collection of junglist killers for Keysound.
It's a straight-up and highly effective exercise in recreating the sounds he heard whilst a wide-eyed raver chasing and buzzing off free parties back in the early '00s, and a damn fine stab at reviving that sense of youthful optimism.
Much like HATE or Zomby's 'Where Were You In '92?' album, he fetishises that vintage sound, but in stark contrast he's really gone all in to recreate the lush textures, atmospheres and complex dynamics of '94 jungle, rather than rudimentary, raving 'ardcore templates. In that sense it owes much more to Steve Gurley, Omni Trio or Dillinja than 2 Bad Mice or Manix, giving up seven sterling, emotionally-wrought constructions supplemented with Logos' sublime Vapour Dub of the title track.
To be fair, it's clearly nothing new, but the concision, efficiency and undeniably potent effect of Sully's sound here is just incredible. Well recommended.
We Play House mark ten years in the game with four unreleased cuts from San Soda, Lemakuhlar, FCL and Dektro made available for the 1st time.
A-side, San Soda links with Sean Haefeli & Mculo for the smoothly earthy vibes of Freedom Music, where they hold off the kick drum for as long as possible, then bring it with some funked up swerve, before Lemakuhlar unfurls the trim percussion and languorous synths and balmy bassline of Zjillow.
B-side, San Soda gives up his Panorama Bar Acca Version of FCL’s anthem, It’s You - surely one of WPH’s finest moments - and Dektro plays out the breezy swang and raved-up parry of Clifford.
A super lovely side of acoustic guitars songs written at the height of Kenya’s independence movement. For good times, look within.
"Omutibo, a uniquely Kenyan style of acoustic guitar music, was invented by George Mukabi in the late 1950s, and quickly adapted by his neighbors ia region that proved truly fertile for guitarists.
In 2016, Cyrus Moussavi (Raw Music International) set out along the banks of the River Yala to document the songs of the old days. Recorded on location in homes and yards, these are the songs and stories of a golden era Kenya on the brink of Independence, beautifully resurrected by the songwriters themselves over 50 years later.
Featuring performances by Johnstone Ouko Mukabi, Shem Tupe (Tube), Fanuel Amimo, Jimmy Bongo, Sukuma Bin Ongaro, Peter Akwabi, Zachariah Omufumbwa, and more.”
American ambient architect K. Leimer presents his most significant work in years; a faithful tribute to - and update of - classic german kosmiche music, blooming tape loops, Moog tones and electro-acoustic sources in lush permutations of that style. It’s much more conventional than his exploratory early work, but still riven with curiously organic or “alive” details and quirks of electronic music
“Inspired by a longstanding respect for the pioneering sounds of Cluster, Neu!, Harmonia & John Foxx, the legendary K. Leimer fuses tape loops, Moog tones and a variety of real and imagined instruments into an immersive journey brimming with electronic emotion throughout this homage, ‘Mitteltöner.’
A key figure in America’s musical avant garde, Leimer’s experiments with tape manipulation, fractal loops and textured ambience have been well documented in recent times, with RVNG and VOD both offering excellent and exhaustive retrospectives of the artist’s seventies and eighties output. Tracing Leimer’s discography from 1979’s ‘Translucent: / Memory’ to 1983’s ‘Installation View’, via the dislocated rhythms of the Savant project, these archival releases detail a move from the pastoral synthesis of kosmische into more angular, experimental territories. Simultaneously looking to the past and the future, this Origin Peoples release is both a return to Leimer's earliest stylistic explorations, and his first vinyl release of original work in twenty five years.
Oddly for such a sonic outlier, ‘Mitteltöner’ (midrange to non teutophones) takes its conceptual cues from the idea that the midrange contains all the core information. Over ten tracks, Leimer employs subtlety and skill to navigate the emotional depth of the kosmische genre while maintaining the focus and detail which has remained constant in his work.
Opener ‘Dunne Luft’ owes as much to post rock as krautrock, evolving from chiming harmonics and understated rhythms into an optimistic roar of motorik percussion and towering guitars. From there, ‘Webermelodie’ dives into crystalline calm, tracing delicate arps around a processed groove before ‘Anode’ sends us skywards, drifting through glistening piano refrains and hypnotic sequences. The dramatic ‘As Long Ago As This’ glides through a deserted city of metal and glass leaving the measured ambience of ‘Entferntemusik ’ to close out the side in a swell of static.
Leimer shifts tone as we move onto the flip, segueing the stomping, cybernetic Sturm Und Drang of ‘German Defaults’ into the propulsive electronics of ‘London Interiors’, a dynamic sample-topped suite in the tradition of Bill Nelson. The addition of graceful piano motifs and swathes of hazy synthesis lends a tranquillity to the pulsating bass of ‘Auf Einem Fahrrad’, while ‘SHM’ marries soothing melody and crunching rhythm into a thoroughly medicated experience. Finally, ‘Café Florian’ pays homage to Schneider or Fricke with a euphoric fusion of metallic percussion and esoteric energies.
Far from a simple homage to the electronic idols of his youth, ‘Mitteltöner’ finds K. Leimer reimagining their nuanced sonic framework through a lifetime of musical experience and experimentation.”
Philly psych se’ers Bardo Pond project a headful of pluming cosmic riffage on the back of yer eyelids. They take it right out there on the B-side-spanning ‘And I Will’, where Isobel Sollenberger’s vocals just about keep earth in view as the rest of the band reach skyward
“A euphoric transcendental journey to a mountain top nirvana, a psychedelic tapestry that slowly unwinds as they travel onwards into the inner mind.
A 40-minute opus delivered from a hail of reverb soulfully caressed by a ceremonial flute, that makes way for a shroud of ‘Weld’—era Neil Young fog.
Bardo Pond is your rather ruffled tour guide to this far off place, this distant sense of wonderment at the crossroads with bewilderment.
Loved and lauded by the late Lou Reed and his wife Laurie Anderson, Jesus & Mary Chain, Mogwai and many more.”
Great sliver of electro-pop audnuss from Belgium’s Dr C. Stein (aka Dutch minimal waver Hanjo Erkamp ov Doxa Sinistra and Ende Shneafliet), whom you may remember from the Selected Works 1983-1988 collection released by Jj funhouse / Trumpett in late 2017.
Interstellar Funk’s Artificial Dance label is behind this one, giving both sides a super crisp 45rpm cut to best present their fine binds of stepping electro with slippery accordion (?) lines and mad vocoder in nervy, sprung dynamics.
The A-side’s La Bombe Plastique (Original) works at a clean-heeled 140bpm clip, balancing the speed with more romantic synth and vocal cadence, whereas the B-side’s Edit is slower, working at 126bpm in a more spaciously timed and kerned rearrangement.
Hobie mounts his début drop of ambient toned deep house with the Espresso Depresso EP on Seb Wildblood’s All My Thoughts label.
A charmingly off-centre and playful record, revolving the stoically instructive vocal samples, warm chords and loping disco-bass groove of Do You Remember The Joys of Lace and the Theo Parrish-like funk swag of Stray Dog Strut on top, then coming from more layered, jazzier angles with the blue-tinged Still Dewy From the Danzig, before the wooden knocks and whimsical keys of Luck Both Ways, Dunham Palace evokes dusky bayside strolls and low-key good times.
Parisian A/V artist Alex Augier gives precedence to his audio praxis in Germination, his first LP for Franck Vigroux’s DAC, including a superheavy remix deconstruction by Roly Porter.
That sleeve image of a model-looking Swiss city should be enough to entice the aesthetes, but dive into the music and you’ll be faced with gaping black holes of polychromatic sound in Augier’s three original works, ranging from the tonal growth and spasmodic rhythmic release of Germination to the more portentous, Amon Tobin-like dynamics of The Selfish Gene and the bilious shape of A Chance To Proliferate Is A Chance To Mutate.
The Roly Porter remix of The r/K Strategies is the one for us, though, pretty much emulating a recording of an oil supertanker crumpling from the inside. Or at least it does to our ears.
Remastered rerelease of ‘Reggae Vibes’, female Roots duo the LOVE JOYS first album, initially released in 1981 on the Florida-based Top Ranking label (when it was also entitled Jah Light on the inside labels).
It features 10 tunes produced and recorded at Wackies NY, ranging from Lovers Rock Reggae Style and uptempo dance vibes to roots and reality. Official cooperation and re-release program by Basic Channel (Berlin) and Wackie’s (New York).
Antinote’s electro specialist swerves back with a follow-up to Menti Singole, which totally captured the dancefloor’s heart back in 2015.
Three years, an album and 2 EPs later, he’s back on that grittily raw but fluid style of electro pressure in Vol.2.
Kicking off with the sweet ’n sticky blend of Rephlexian acid and Detroit pads in Micaela, he cuts layers deeper with the hypnotic swang and harmonic keys of Alice, neatly packed with his signature turns of phrase and infectious drum programming.
On the other hand, Laura cuts a fine figure of late night electro-soul with charming chord progression and adroit 808 patter recalling The Connection Machine, before heading perpendicular with a lo-fi, clipped flip of Biggie Smalls in the wayward Sofia.
Available on vinyl for the first time, rousing recordings of spontaneous or “heterophonic” Gaelic Psalm singing. Lapsed Catholics should probably avoid for fear of flashbacks. Otherwise, ethnomusicologists, diehard folkies, Celts and football Hooligans will get a good kick out of this one!
“The recordings of Gaelic Psalm singing presented in the release are among the best ever captured. They document a living tradition, a form of religious singing from the Hebrides in Scotland, which is still practiced in Lewis. In Gaelic psalm singing, a precentor leads, and from here voices follow, moving together in great swells like the murmurations of birds.
These recordings of Gaelic Psalm singing were originally made over two evenings in the Back Free Church on the Isle of Lewis in October 2003. The singing was spontaneous and totally unrehearsed. The recordings are here pressed to vinyl for the first time.
This is music that is transcendent and together, about the individual and the earth, movingly spiritual with or without belief. The sound comes in great waves, swells of sound that break and roll around the space. The texture relies on the individuals: this is group singing where the individual is preserved, elevated, but together.
A precentor leads off with the first lines of a psalm, and the congregation follows, some faster than others, and each one remains discernible. In his notes to the original release, Calum Martin writes that the form, called precenting (where one person puts out the line and the congregation responds) while not exclusive to Gaelic free church traditions, is in Lewis particularly influenced by the pibroch style of free ornamentation. It’s through this, he says, that the distinctive emotional swell of sound emerges. The sound relies on the congregation’s individual responses to the melody and the individual precentor’s leading. The musical term is free heterophony.
Arc Light Editions has worked directly with DR Macdonald at the Bethesda Hospice and Calum Martin on this release, and we thank them for their time. A portion of the profits from this release go directly to Bethesda Hospice, in accordance with the original release.”
Further to his For Paris album, Levon Vincent cuts off one LP track, Baseball, backed with the dry pounding drag dynamics of War (Dub), exclusive to this 12”.
Baseball is cut in the dub-wise, chord-driven mould of Levon’s classic material, seemingly sculpting a massive gut-thump bass, heaving subbass and flickering hi-hats from a block of alabaster.
The A-side works fine enough as a tool, but for us the B-side carries the 12”. On War (Dub) he works out a rolling triplet techno rhythm doused in volatile distortion, nudged with spring reverb and flanged to fxck for intensely hypnotic impact.
Mica Levi’s original soundtrack to an animé by acclaimed artist and Turner prize nominee Phil Collins - the film was illustrated and designed by the revered Marisuke Eguchi and is a follow-up to Levi’s award winning work on 'Under The Skin' and ‘Jackie'. Trust, this one’s a bit special.
This is Mica’s first musical accompaniment for animation, once again using her signature palette of dissonant strings and combustible electronics that just completely get to us every time. She paints a series of sweeping backdrops to the film's blend of classically-schooled anime and up-to-the-second CGI designs in a way that we find it hard to imagine any other contemporary soundtrack producer could have managed - somewhere between Arthur Russell, John Carpenter and Johann Johannsson.
The film is set in a near future where carbon-based energy is outlawed and supposes a paradoxical scenario, one where fossil fuels - the ostensible accelerator of humanity’s progress and decline - become energy for the toil against state oppression and enforced inequality. In doing so, it resonates with anime’s strong tradition of exploring eco-feminist themes and power dynamics, both socio-political and technological.
The central Delete Beach theme, a diaphanous section of airborne synth-string contours and charred guitar distortion carved in pirouetting turns-of-phrase, appears in Japanese and English-narrated versions as well as an Instrumental mix. They are divided by the beat-driven Interlude 1 and interlude 2 - which is perhaps the standout piece on the whole score and possibly in Levi’s impeccable oeuvre generally - a mix of string slashes mixed with opiated chopped ’n screwed rhythms comparable to her breathtaking deconstructions with the London Sinfonietta.
After her work underlying and exploring complex characters in Jackie, a biopic of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the alien-woman metaphors of Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin, Delete Beach follows suit with an impendingly tense, viscerally affective sound that reflects and conveys a sense of independence in the face of uncertainty, of a struggle against imposed forces or control systems.
It’s another beguiling testament to Levi’s role as one of the most original and eminent composers of her generation and, once again, leaves us convinced that she's more or less peerless in this field...
La Contra Ola is the fascinating 1st ever survey of Spanish electronic music during the post-punk and synth wave phenomenon which swept subterranean US and European scenes circa 1980-1986.
By their own admission, Spain was late to electronic music, mostly due the restrictive dictatorship of General Franco. But when Franco fxcked off in 1975, it was open season for sounds made with boxes and plugged-in guitars. You’ll find many of the best examples from that period in this set, ranging from the funked EBM swerve of La Fura dels Baus and Diseño Corbusier thru to the orientalist pop jitters of Lavabos Iturriaga and warped disco brilliance of Oviforia Sci, along with loads of other names you’ve never heard before.
Nowadays, although not necessarily synonymous with electronic music, the likes of Madrid, Barcelona and bits of the Basque country have a reputable electronic music scene, mostly a result of artists in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s artists figuring it all out on their own terms and from a distance to the usual electronic power hubs, variously updating old styles, importing from parallel scenes, and essentially imagining their own. In the past decade’s groundswell of reissued classic and obscure material, the likes of Diseño Corbusier’s El Alma De La Estrella and various oddities from Esplendor Geométrico, Luis Delgado and the Grabaciones Accidentales archive have been reissued and reappraised by the likes of Dead Cert Home Ents and EM Records, but now it’s the turn of the others to share the spotlight.
They’re generally all dancefloor-themed, or at least rhythm-driven and pop-wise, as opposed to avant or explicitly experimental. Aside from the better known Diseño Corbusier ace Golpe De Amistad, you’ll also come across their much rarer Meta Metallic  ace nestled next to the hoppin’ punk hustle of Zombies’ La Rebelión de los Objetos, and tentative 4th world/post-punk mapping recalling 23 Skidoo in Derribos Arias’ A Flúor. The aforementioned bendy disco bewt, Mao’s Children by Oviformia Sci is a really big highlight for the DJs, as are the fresh cuts of Moscú está helado and the wiry funk of TodoTodo’s electro bubbler Autogas and the Liquid G-alike EBM force of Himno from El Humano Marrano, while natty surprises keep on coming in the form of Derribos Arias’ Suicide-like dream-bop ditty Aprenda Alemán en 7 dias, and in the melodic fructose of Línea Vienesa’s Cangrejos en la cocina.
So yeh, as you can see and hear, there was a lot of quality gear coming from Spain during that fecund, pre- home computer period, which makes this set rather tasty as both a historical education and a class set of tunes.
Post- his Paradygm Shift album, Robert Hood gears up a 3rd EP specifically crafted for the DJs, dancers.
On Red Machine the Detroit captain harnesses some serious velocity from steaming acidic drones and pounding, rounded kick drum pressure tempered by white noise surges.
In contrast, Transform is more hypnotic, deeper, rolling Basic Channel-esque bassline and his patented, singing hi-hats up to a stealthy, chord-driven peak.