There are too many hype labels around; Wah Wah Wino is one of the good ones.
Their small but perfectly formed catalogue has managed to carve out a very particular niche for the label despite their ideas often sprawling into so many different directions; repeating that trick Arthur Russell employed so brilliantly of always trying something new, always sounding like Arthur.
If you were into Davy Kehoe’s blinding 'Short Passing Game’ EP released on the label last year (in our top 20 releases of the year) or into Morgan Buckley’s by-now-legendary 'Shout Out To All The Weirdos In Rathmines’ 12” (in our top 5 records of 2014, £££ on discogs), you’ll have a good idea of what we’re talking about; working their way through five proper peaches that will satiate your Arthur Russell itch and then some.
By the sounds of it Buckley and Kehoe have their paws all over much of the EP (including Brendan Jenkinson’s super recognisable bass guitar sections on a couple of them), delivering 5 indispensable/shot-from-the-hip heaters based around all sorts of spiky, motorik punk and pop variants to great, highly absorbing effect.
There’s just no arguing with this one, or this label generally - they’re the real deal, buy anything on Wah Wah Wino on sight, f8ck the flippers.
2nd helping of deep, in-the-pocket house funk from Vancouverite ESB for Greece’s Echovolt
Taking cues from classic late ‘80s/early ‘90s NYC and Canadian garage and deep, new age house, ESB commands your swing in four delectable parts, nimbly nudging waists and shoulder between the needlepoint shuffle of ‘Natural World’ and the loved-up lave of ‘Carmina’, before tweak out the hair-kissing funk of ‘6400 Block’ and the tribal new age burn of ‘Going Away’ with totally classic-sounding panache.
Southend-on-Sea’s elusive Liberez return to Luke Younger’s Alter a much altered beast, now including virtuoso guitarist Iñigo Ugarteburu among three new members, and pursuing a far more layered and complex sort of post-rock dramaturgy more porous to worldly influence...
“Southend-on-Sea experimental outfit Liberez deliver the end result of a year and a half long recording process, an amorphous new line up and advanced studies in sound collage. On ‘Way Through Vulnerability’ new members Reay, Saunders and Ugarteburu channel the projects previous outings on Alter and Night School by conveying the same firm grounding in rhythm, though this time via Flamenco time signatures and eerie, repetitive clapping. At times sounding indebted to the ‘tribal ambient’ of decades gone by, at times sounding fresh in their approach (‘Here is the Proof’ is of note) the trio manage to export motifs from Italian avant-garde circles, UK industrial and dare we say post-rock all at the same time.
The sound design on ‘Derelict Intentions’ makes heavy use of background ambience and bleak, world-weary minimalism to lull us into a false sense of calm before harsh and unexpected blurts of noise break the equilibrium. In doing so they swiftly side-step any preconceptions of ‘easy listening’ and opt instead to drag us deeper down into their own dark waters. At times we almost seem to delve into lost theatre soundtrack territory; fragmented neo-classical elements dance with punchy drum machines (‘Cara En La Foto Pt II’) and things draw to a close with the end credit worthy swansong of the album’s title track. The group repeatedly utilise Basque country language, Hungarian dialect and ancient Russian to lend their compositions a cross-cultural underpinning and eschew any clear geographic origin, a decision which all but adds to the perplexities of their unique brand of electro-acoustic purgatory.”
Originally released in 1953, this collection of very early Moondog pieces features the same tribal rhythmic impulse as his famed Prestige recordings,
There's an impressive line in chamber music running through these compositions: the B-side is dedicated to two suites for strings, which could easily pass for more traditional works were it not for the heavy bongo presence (something Haydn, Mozart et al were always sorely missing).
Essentially though you can hear a sense of discipline, and a thorough working knowledge of conventional classical composition in Moondog's work, even if he ultimately chooses to subvert it. All this is further destabilised by slightly weirder excursions like 'Tree Frog - Be A Hobo', which fit into some odd percussion-centric take on what might loosely be termed as a 'song'. More idiosyncratic, entirely uncategorizable work from one of 20th century music's true mavericks.
Dating back to 1957, The Story Of Moondog followed up the previous year's More Moondog LP, setting its course for adventurous new sounds and homemade percussion meditations.
The music is never a slave to any one fixed agenda and much of the material here sounds as if its gathered from some undiscovered culture - it's all-but impossible to compare this with anything else from the era, but when the longer-form pieces arrive they augment the more primal, outsider aesthetics with visceral, jazzy arrangements.
'Up Broadway' is an urgent and thorny construction combining the rhythmic complexity found elsewhere with aggressive horns, while 'In A Doorway' lets a little of the outside world into its recording, embracing the street sounds that so influenced Moondog's early works and intermingling them with instrumentation. It's a curious combination of musical improvisation and concrete sound which, once again, you simply would not associate with this era.
Collaborative compilation album of absolute essentialness. Featuring: Morgan Buckley, Olmo Devin, Dark Delight, Davy Kehoe + more. Sound of the Rathmines industrial estate ... weirdo wagon dance music. Huge Tip!
Pivoting around Morgan Buckley and OD, whose acclaimed Shout Out To The Weirdos Of Rathmines 12” (No ‘Label’, 2014) can been heard as a clarion call for this compilation’s roster - Dark Delight, Who’s The Technician, Little Movies, Lee Eel, Plop - the crew assemble from all corners of Ireland to leave you with a fuzzy taste of the isle’s contemporary dancefloor undercurrents.
Their shared style is anachronistic, playfully freestyle and equally at home in packed basements or smoked-out afters, bookended by a wickedly mucky rut of rolling post-punk dub, 7,000 Years by Gombeen & Doygen which sounds like Dennis Bovell dubbing Die Dominas, and a slompy gang-bang in Teen - Romp - Hoe - Down, you can expect anything to happen in between, so long as it’s rude, smudged and off-centre.
That means Afrorhythmic sensibilities in OD’s Super Secret Office Party, and barnyard boogie woogie in Paco’s Ode, whilst Who’s The Technician whips out a mint quickstepper called Tractor Troubles (Part I), and Little Movies sets square between the eyes with Gregory(an) Wah, with the motorik, boot-cut set dance of Morgan & Davy’s Craudrock for the craic, plus a natty electro-pop wriggler called Sligo B from Plop.
Originally released in 1956, More Moondog was the second album by Louis Thomas Hardin, followed the next year by a further LP, The Story Of Moondog. The tone of this fragmented, wildly eclectic body of work tends to rest its focus on percussion, exploring the Eastern-influenced, gamelan-styled sounds developed by homemade instruments like Moondog's famed "trimba" and "oo".
The majority of the compositions here are brief, often very intricate miniatures, which within the space of a mere minute or two instantly place you in Moondog's singular sound world, structured with difficult time signatures and populated by sounds that are quite unlike anything you'd hear anywhere else. It's hard to imagine how alien this music must have been back in the 1950s. When the longer-form pieces arrive they embellish upon this primal, outsider aesthetic with visceral, jazzy arrangements. 'Up Broadway' is an urgent and thorny construction combining the rhythmic complexity found elsewhere with aggressive horns, while 'In A Doorway' lets a little of the outside world into its recording, embracing the street sounds that so influenced Moondog's early works and intermingling them with instrumentation.
It's a curious combination of musical improvisation and concrete sound that you simply would not associate with this era. The album is completed with a selection of strange avant-garde pieces drawing on speech recordings and more lyrical, solo recordings played on keyboard instruments, including the almost ragtime 'Fiesta Piano Solo' which demonstrates the lack of agenda in this composer's canon. Moondog's outsiderness ensures an approach to modern composition that doesn't ever establish any single, fixed identity, which is of course what makes this man such an alluring figure in 20th century music.
Given that this is a Moondog record, there's always an outside chance that he is in fact being accompanied by actual honking geese, but alas no, this rare 1955 set of recordings features the composer in collaboration with a brass section, although one of its defining aspects is the extensive influence of Native American musics on its rhythmic makeup.
From the irrepressibly unconventional jibber-jabber of 'Rabbit Hop' to the tribal weirdness of 'Single Foot', this could only have come from the pen of Moondog. 'Dog Trot' is a more conventional swingtime piece, offering an oasis of accepted logic in an otherwise wildly outside-the-box set of recordings. As ever, utterly magical material...
Chicago original Alias G back to bang on Hot Haus Recs in a different style
Trust this is one of the sweetest US house 12”s of 2018, placing the bumping, soulful ballad of ‘Natural Love’ next to the crackers blends of Drexciyan synth attacks and loopy breaks and funk horns on ’Snatch & Grab’, and the batshit, wickedly off-key party collage of ‘Bigspaceballs’.
Off the chuffin’ chain, this one!
A momentous celebration of one of the last century’s most important composers, offering insight, recognition, and critical investigation, long overdue and lovingly produced. Including an extensive, lavish 120 page book, with numerous unseen images and 10 historic, sought-after and impossible to find albums pressed on 180 gram vinyl - unquestionably one of the most beautiful and important archival releases of the year.
The perfect jump-off for anyone intrigued or beguiled by Lucier’s oeuvre and looking for a way in, ‘Illuminated by the Moon’ was recorded in October 2016 at the Alvin Lucier 85th Birthday Festival at the Zurich University of the Arts and spans pioneering classics such as ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’  thru to his recent piece for Stephen O’Malley and Oren Ambarchi, ‘Hanover’. Along with a fistful of rare works, it adds up to an unprecedented, overdue survey of Lucier’s cross-disciplinary efforts in locating the metaphysics of sound in minimalism, and is arguably the most crucial boxset of 2018 alongside Roland Kayn’s immense ’Simultan’ session.
In deliberate depth and detail, ‘Illuminated by the Moon’ highlights Lucier’s intersections with pivotal contemporaries including Joan La Barbera and Charles Curtis, right up to his work with disciples such as Sunn 0)))’s Stephen O’Malley and virtuoso minimalist Oren Ambarchi, each proving, where needed, evidence of a deeply focussed yet open-minded approach to the phenomenology of acoustic sound.
From ostensibly simple units of sound Lucier extrapolates incredible, otherworldly dimensions, using various extended techniques and recording methods to probe ideas of auditory and musical reception and perception. In historical context, he wasn’t the only artist doing so back then, as the likes of Steve Reich with ‘Come Out’, or his group mates Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley and David Behrman in Sonic Arts Union also explored hybrids of text/speech/composition, but Lucier’s work stands out for its enduring patience and subtle playfulness in its transformative transitions of texture and tone, highlighted here in his liminal, tip-of-tongue take on ‘Nothing Is Real (Strawberry Fields Forever)’ , and the absorbing roil of his percussive piece, ‘Music For Solo Performer’ .
As with the most recent work on show, including ‘Hanover’ and a number of modern compositions from 2002-2016 with Joan La Barbera and young American cellist Charles Curtis, Lucier’s work has only grown more intently focussed and transcendent over the years and has quietly shifted the understanding of what music can be; laying a mark on history and the expectations of nearly everything to come, while radically expanding the field.
Japanese composer/demi-god Ryuichi Sakamoto presents an exquisitely oneiric and elusively spiritual new album inspired as much by the sound sculptures of Harry Bertoia as the magic of Andrei Tarkovsky’s seminal septet of celluloid classics.
It’s been some years since Sakamoto has placed his name at the top of a solo album proper - as opposed to his swathes of collaborations and film scores - and we can promise that the results herein are definitely worth the wait.
Imagined and realised after a period of fright with his health, Async captures Mr. Sakamoto at his most wistful and wonderful, meditating on the existentialist, ontological themes and atmospheres of Tarkovsky’s work from both a gauzily impressionistic aspect, and a quite literal one, employing readings of Tarkovsky’s poetry (poem transcribed in the liner notes) in a variety of languages from a coterie of contemporaries including long time collaborators David Sylvian, Bernardo Bertolucci (for whom he composed the OST for The Last Emperor) and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), among others.
Embracing both the fluidity and flux of Tarkovsky’s water analogies as well as the harmonic chaos of Harry Bertoia’s lush metal rod clangour, Sakamoto melds feather touch acoustic keys with field recordings, shimmering electronic patinas and signature synthesiser flourishes in a suite that beautifully lives up to and even transcends its influences, revealing some of the most achingly emotive yet often abrasive and abstract work in a catalogue now spanning over 40 years of exemplary work.
Beyond maybe Scott Walker, we can hardly think of another artist who has continued to expand their oeuvre over such a long period of time, and with an appeal quite like this, albeit respectively unique to their work. But Sakamoto really is in a league of his own here, utterly absorbing us with the dappled keys, organ haze and stereo starting doom synths of Andata, thru the stark Sonambient emulations of Disintegration to the romance of ZURE and the almost Toshiya Tsunoda-esque sensitivity of his field recordings woven into Walker or Honj, with humbling moments to be discovered in the switch from disorienting cinematic dialogue in Fullmoon to the legit Ligeti style violence of Async, and again in the curdled chromatics of FF and the Gas-eous swells swirling about Garden.
David Behrman’s pioneering electronic experiments explored on this astonishing collection of recordings marrying microprocessors with violin, sax and electrified Mbira between 1986-1989, all previously unpublished on any format. While Behrman’s name is synonymous with 20th century avant garde sonics - often checked in the same breath as John Cage, or alongside peers Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier - it may be difficult for curious neeks to grasp his wide-reaching, exploratory practice, which is where you can consider this LP a seductive and ear-dilating portal to his freely improvised, beautifully mercurial world.
Music With Memory was realised at the behest of John Driscoll and Mathias Osterwold, who conceived the phrase to describe the mixture of then newly available, portable “microprocessors”, or computers equipped with memory, with “real” musicians, namely Takehisa Kosugi (Violin) and Werner Durand (Soprano Saxophone) respectively, at their concerts held at Eiszeit-Kino in Kreuzberg, Berlin, 1986. Along with a later recording of Behrman and Fast Forward making electrified zithers sound like dizzy harpsichords, the collection renders some of the most immediately gratifying yet playfully challenging work that we’ve encountered in Berhman’s catalogue.
The A-side’s 23” piece Interspecies Talk was commissioned by John Cage and Merce Cunningham as music for the 1984 Cunningham Company dance, Pictures. It features Kosugi in flighty duet with Behrman’s electronics, which consisted of pitch sensors, or “ears” as he calls them, triggered by the violin phrases to create indeterminate “situations”, rather than “set pieces”. Whilst on one level comparable with New Age and 4th world precedents, Behrman and Kosugi’s work extends beyond those conventions to plot out gloriously absorbing new realms of gambolling chromatics and slooping phrases informed by, yet unbound from, tradition.
On the B-side, Behrman’s Circling Six finds Werner Durand’s Soprano Sax in the same role as Kosugi’s strings, used to trigger the computer in a duet of piquant yet smoothly contoured cadence and harmonised loops that sound like chorales of Welsh aliens in jazzy conversation. By comparison, the final 5 minute piece All Thumbs makes for a sweetly anomalous contrast, and maybe even the highlight for some listeners, us included. Here, Behrman and Fast Forward, transform traditional African thumb pianos - known as kalimbas or zanzas - in delicious, rhythmic flurries and twanging recursive clusters, simultabneously acting as a brilliant piece for dance, if the mood takes you, or perhaps even imagining Bach jamming with ancient Egyptians using their alien overlords’ leccy supply.
If you’re into any modern electro-acoustic works by Jim O’Rourke, Oren Ambarchi or Keith Fullerton Whitman, you owe it yourself to dive headlong into this one.
Black Truffle present breathtaking, mind-bending works from Alvin Lucier; premiering a pair of pieces written for and performed by Oren Ambarchi and Stephen O’Malley (Sunn 0))), Æthenor), and released thru the former’s indomitable Black Truffle label. Lovers of life-affirming avant-garde music of all stripes need to stop what they’re doing and check this one, pronto!
Both works offer an extension of Lucier’s “elegant explorations of the behaviour of sound in physical space” which have been ongoing since the ’60s, and includes his best known work, I Am Sitting In A Room , a piece that has practically become required listening for anyone with an interest in 20th century avant-garde music thought and practice.
Specifically, Lucier’s work places great focus on the infidelities of instrumental phenomena and closely tuned pitches, often using pure, electronically generated oscillations in combination with single instruments in order to both highlight and blur their tonal and timbral distinctions. This LP documents two works in this vein, firstly on Criss Cross, his debut work for electric guitars, written especially for Ambarchi and O’Malley playing one semitone each in duo, and secondly on Hanover, a much grander tribute to Lucier’s father, Alvin A Lucier, who is pictured on the sleeve in 1918 with the Dartmouth Jazz band.
The A-side’s Criss Cross is truly one of the heaviest things we’ve heard in years. With Ambarchi on the left channel and O’Malley to the right, the duo improvise on a single semitone, generating thick, viscous waves of wobbling oscillations that merge in transfixing formation at the middle . So far, so simple, but the effect - which alters brilliantly on headphones or with proper amplification - is just staggering, baffling the senses with a richly saturated, undulating sonic pressure to visceral, psychotomimetic ends.
The first time we heard this piece on headphones it just floored us, but then we tried on speakers and tried to conduct a conversation at the same time. The effect was something like an anechoic chamber - the conversation couldn’t happen because our voices sounded louder in our head than in the room. WTF?! Just to push it one step farther, I also tried listening on headphones while on a plane, and can only imagine what the EasyJet staff thought of my eyes rolling in back of my skull. Quite honestly, I haven’t heard anything quite like it since Zbigniew Karkowsi & Topher Davidson’s Processor, and that’s a proper percy.
The B-side’s Hanover is just as precise, but the intensity and tonal variation is multiplied by he number of players, including O’Malley and Ambarchi on electric guitars joined by alto and tenor sax, violin, piano and bowed vibraphone. Here the tones are far more pinched and slippery, streaking the stereo field in iridescent timbral dynamics and almost lilting cadence, and with a far more delicate, intricate appeal when compared to the other piece.
It almost goes without saying that a new Alvin Lucier work is worth your time, but in case you’re under any doubts - this LP is just astonishing, ingenious, preternaturally brilliant stuff.
Well, this is just lovely; Hiroshi Yoshimura’s soothing electro-acoustic ambient suite, Music For Nine Postcards  is made available outside the Japanese market for the 1st time, unfurling the Tokyo-based artist’s delicate, minimalist masterwork inspired by Satie, Schaefer and Eno to whole new generations in need of blissed sonic respite. Unless you’re a bit wadded or simply helpless to the charms of early ‘80s Japambient records and bought a dead expensive original, it’s maybe likely that you’ll only get to hear this one via YouTube otherwise, so the opportunity to hear this beauty in full fidelity, at a reasonable price, is not to be missed!
"Despite his status as a key figure in the history of Japanese ambient music, Hiroshi Yoshimura remains tragically under-known outside of his home country. Empire of Signs–a new imprint co-helmed by Maxwell August Croy and Spencer Doran–is proud to reissue Yoshimura’s debut Music for Nine Post Cards for the first time outside Japan in collaboration with Hiroshi’s widow Yoko Yoshimura, with more reissues ofHiroshi’s works to follow in the future.
Working initially as a conceptual artist, the musical side of Yoshimura’s artistic practice came to prominence in the post-Fluxus scene of late 1970s Tokyo alongside Akio Suzuki and Takehisa Kosugi, taking many commissioned fashion runway scores, soundtracking perfume, soundscapes for pre-fab houses, train station sound design – all existing not as side work but as logical extensions of his philosophy of sound.
His work strived for serenity as an ideal, and this approach can be felt strongly on Music for Nine Post Cards. Home recorded on a minimal setup of keyboard and Fender Rhodes, Music for Nine Post Cards was Yoshimura’s first concrete collection of music, initially a demo recording given to the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art to be played within the building’s architecture.
This was not background music in the prior Japanese “BGM” sense of the word, but “environmental music”, the literal translation of the Japanese term kankyō ongaku given to Brian Eno’s “ambient” music when it arrived in late 70’s Japan. Yoshimura, along with his musical co-traveler Satoshi Ashikawa, searched for a new dialog between sound and space: music not as an external absolute, but as something that interlocks with a physical environment and shifts the listener’s experience within it.
Erik Satie’s furniture music, R. Murray Schafer’s concept of the soundscape and Eno’s ambience all greatly informed their work, but the specific form of tranquil stasis presented on releases like Nine Post Cards is still difficult to place within a specific tradition, remaining elusive and idiosyncratic despite the economy of its construction. This record offers the perfect introduction to Hiroshi’s unique and beautiful worldview: it’s one that can be listened to – and lived in – endlessly."
Finally, Roland Kayn’s breathtaking cybernetic salvo, ’Simultan’; one of the most important works by one of the 20th century's greatest (if unsung) composers; all newly remastered from original tapes and reissued for the first time since the original 1977 release by classical music label, Colosseum. Huge Recommendation for followers of work by Jaap Vink, Leo Küpper, Jim O’Rourke, Keith Fullerton-Whitman, Autechre, The Hafler Trio...
Italy’s Die Schachtel, following the lead of Frozen Reeds’ and their 16CD edition of ‘A Little Milky Way of Sound’ in 2017, have the honour of reintroducing ’Simultan’ into the wild. Presented to the highest possible standards on the format it was intended for, the unfeasibly complex dynamics and revelatory perceptive spaces opened up inside ’Simultan’ are bound to generate jaw-dropping reactions with Kayn's growing ranks of followers and even the most hard-to-please fans of outer-limit composition.
Collapsing ideas from electro-acoustic, concrète, electronic, and computer music disciplines into what he termed “cybernetic music”, Kayn methodically and effectively worked off-the-radar towards a form of Artificial Intelligence in music from 1962 until his death in 2011. Building on his earlier studies with seminal figures such as Boris Blacher and Oskar Sala (whose FX appeared on classic Hitchcock’s), as well as time spent playing organ and piano with Ennio Morricone and Egisto Macchi’s exploratory Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, Kayn devoted his life’s work toward realising what would become recognised among the most incredible, genuinely prism-pushing arrangements of sound ever recorded.
’Simultan’ is the first in a series of seminal Roland Kayn boxsets released between 1977 and his blinding masterpiece ’Tektra’ in 1984. While he had previously contributed ‘Cybernetics III’ to a Deutsche Grammofon split with Luigi Nono, ’Simultan’ was where Kayn’s ideas really came to fruition, and with results that practically document the birth of a new music, or a computer manifesting its first signs of sentience in sound.
Weighing in at six pieces clocking in at over two hours, it’s arguably a difficult, spasmodic birth when compared with the smoother contours and expansive arrangements of his subsequent releases, but that amorphous atonality and noisy unpredictability accounts for much of the attraction to ’Simultan’, which sounds like very little before it, or even since.
If you’re the insatiably curious, technically pedantic type, then many of your queries about Kayn’s music will be answered in the lucubrate liner notes included on the insert, which provide all the technical context one would need to know. But it’s better to just dive head-first into ’Simultan’ and let your head be consumed, dissolved into those micro-organismic diffusions and unfathomable chaos.
Mercifully this 2nd wind will prevail on further reissues of Kayn’s aforementioned run of boxsets up to and including ‘Tektra’. We advise making some space on your shelves and your calendar to spend some time with this incredible music.
Hyper-stepping outta nowhere, Steffi Grafs Innere Ruhe fire off three flash-forward and clinically Teutonic takes on Footwork++ on mysterious white label
Coolly resetting the game 10 years into the future, the playfully titled but seriously considered Steffi Grafs Innere Ruhe toss their hat in the ring with three cuts splicing footwork torsion with the kind of rhythmic nous displayed by Xth Réflexion on the /\\Aught label or in Joe Coghill’s ‘Transit Valley’ 12”.
The A-side’s ‘Gute Freizeit’ sets the bar breathlessly high with racing hi-hats and writhing acid bass synched in a rapid-fire yet somehow sublime effect. Dancers will have to think on their feet in real time here, reprogramming on the hoof.
Flipside, ‘Prima Freizeit’ keeps the tempo breakneck, with skittish toms percolated around the soundsphere with needling synth attacks, while the so-fast-it’s-slow ‘Freizeit Spezial’ keeps it anaerobic, mystic, like an Autechrian organism transmogrifying before your ears.
Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
London’s Low Company prize this exquisite side of home-brewed electronic meditations from the ‘90s Scandinavian underground for a new vinyl edition
Arriving with minimal background info, the music speaks directly to lonely, heavy-lidded experiences, articulating late night feels in a series of mumbling, nicotine-stained electronic meditations.
It feels kinda like a bluer adjunct to the sort of obscurity you might expect on Spencer Clark’s Pacific City Sound Visions, or the wooziness of RAMZi’s meandering new age, but with Pacific breezes swapped out for a Baltic chill and a serotonin-depleted lack of lustre that’s begging us to reach for the 5-HTP right now.
Moody spods and bedsit dreamers, you know the vibe.
Dopplereffekt explore themes of mortality/immortality on ‘Athanatos’, their follow-up to last year’s excellent ‘Cellular Automata’ album, also released by Berlin’s Leisure System.
Furthering their previous LP’s conceptual fascination with genetics, ‘Athanatos’ explores the conditions and chromosomal factors defining mortality in the funky, allegorical fashion that we all adore about Rudolf Klozeiger and To-Nhan’s music.
With input from Carsten Nicolai (who also did the artwork) and his raster-noton co-foudner Olaf bender, Dopplereffekt reflect their research in five parts ranging from the towering title track (meaning ‘Immortality’ in Greek) to a stunning piece of synth-pop ‘Hayflick Limit’ with cold vox (can'’t tell if it’s To-Nanh or one of their previous collaborators), plus the direct dancefloor hydrolicks of ‘Eukaryotic Chromosomes’, and the nexx level sci-fi electro of ‘Mitosis’.
Genius at work.
Some time around 20 years ago, Dub Surgeon made an absorbing album of beautiful dub infused with ambience, found sounds and horizontal rhythms. 'The Lost Future' was recorded at the former Amsterdam Film Academy, engineered and mastered by Ricardo Villalobos who put it through several vintage mixers and recorded it to 2 inch tape. Then, tragedy struck: a storm surged and ignited a fire that ravaged the studio. The master copy was thought to have been lost forever.
Dub Surgeon stopped making music and disappeared into the shadows after just two EPs on Future Dub in 2002/3. But one day, 15 years later, and totally out of the blue, he received a demo of The Lost Future. "Pay attention to this," it said.
Attached was a demo version of the long lost album which now, finally, has found a home on Dubai's Ark to Ashes imprint, so named in homage to the story of Lee "Scratch" Perry burning down his Black Ark studio to rid it of demons.
Newly mastered by Rashad Becker, the album adopts its full form as a killer dub excursion which, with hindsight, can be marked up next to other electronic dub classics of its era, arguably right up there with the first two Pole albums, but also wickedly prescient of wilder, out-of-the-lines styles to come from Jay Glass Dubs to Seekersinternational, and even flashes of Hyperdub and Burial’s more abstract, introspective moments.
Burial’s sophomore LP, originally issued in 2007 only a year after his pivotal debut, is another masterpiece of urban UK composition and innovative imagineering whose sense of melancholic space, pop-wise dexterity and dancefloor yearn has rarely been explored or surpassed since its release.
Where its predecessor was starkly paranoid, mostly instrumental, Untrue was gilded with gorgeous, cut-up R&B and UKG vox, and interspersed with segments of nocturnal reverie that played out like the OST for a yung UK romance that replaced posh, gurning actors with real life road characters and focussed on the spaces between - between the club and home; between night and day; masculine and feminine; waking life and dream life; Maccy D’s and alley doorways; being high AF and coming down.
It was and still is Burial’s love note to UKG and R&G, and by turns gave context and validated those genres for a lot of listeners who arguably wouldn’t have touched that sound, or at least dismissed it as pop pap or with some snide, racist undertone before Burial’s revivalist instincts hybridised it with trip hop and snarling D&B memes.
More positively, however, depending on which way you look at it, this album also opened the endorphin floodgates for a whole raft of f****e garage producers to get in touch with their feminine side, especially in contrast to prevailing, laddish dubstep rave trends, and, since that sound has faded away, it’s not hard to hear this album’s influence in the vocal processing of Mssingno, in the uneven, off-kilter swing and parry of Zomby, the patch-worked constructions of Jamie xx or Evian Christ, or in Deadboy and Murlo’s more boundary-pushing creations.
As with any album that gets a lot of attention beyond its putative scene, Untrue was an unintended red rag to the cynics and rockists - and even garage purists - but for almost anyone who recognises and appreciates that more modest, aching sort of electronic, UK street rave soul, it remains a really transcendent album that still grips like few others.
Life-giving music from L.A.’s Dublab and friends, revolving sun-kissed vibes from Gifted & Blessed, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Matthewdavid, Suzanne Kraft and more.
Cooked up in cooperation with Sunpress vinyl, ‘Peace Radio Dublab’ is for the good times, pairing a group of like-minded, sweetly optimistic sounds from best coast producers.
Leaving Records’ Matthewdavid smudges your 3rd eye with the intense boogie shimmer of ‘Be Honest’, and Daedulus doe iridescent footwork on ‘ReadToFall’. Bender chases up his ace Second Circle outing with the yacht ready trills and pleading panpipes of ‘(Songbird) Ajinomoto’, and Secret Circuit rolls slow and dusky on ‘Space In The Suitcase’ (for a big of xanax and edibles, maybe?).
The ever charming GB is at his colourful best adapting ‘Toccata (Movement VI From Ravel’s le Tombeau De Couperin)’, and Actualy Magic covers Moondog, Wendy Carlos-style in ‘Do Your Thing Switched-on’, and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith covers Sade’s ‘By Your Side’, modular synth style, beside the serene strings of Mary Lattimore’s ‘Wind Carries Seed’, and a wistful vignette from Suzanne Kraft.
Slow-to-mid tempo balearic froth, edited by Jan Schulte in his Wolf Müller guise for Young Marco’s label
“Over the course of his seven-year recording career, Jan Schulte has delivered countless revolutionary remixes under the now familiar Wolf Müller alias. Now, Safe Trip has gathered together some of his most celebrated and hard-to-find reworks on Sorry For The Delay: Wolf Müller’s Most Whimsical Remixes.
The collection includes a string of lauded revisions of the likes of Tolouse Low Trax, Africaine 808, BAR and Jose Padilla, all in a trademark percussion-rich, polyrhythmic style that joins the dots between the tropical rhythms of South America, the tribal musical traditions of Africa, the experimental electronics associated with Schulte’s home city of Düsseldorf and the sun-kissed Balearica of Ibiza.
Since making his debut at the dawn of the decade, Schulte has carved out a niche as one of European electronic music’s most distinctive artists. Under this best-known alias, Wolf Müller, the German producer has delivered a string of sought-after singles, two critically acclaimed collaborative albums (the most recent of which, produced alongside percussionist Niklas Wandt, was released earlier this year), and a swathe or radical remixes.
It’s the latter that’s showcased on Sorry For The Delay, whose apologetic title tips a wink to Safe Trip’s debut release, a compilation of Young Marco remixes called Sorry For The Late Reply. The majority of the eight included reworks are revolutionary in nature, with Schulte gaining inspiration from, or making use of, just a handful of elements from the provided source material. For example, the oldest remix in the collection, a 2011 rub of Mungolian Jet Set’s quirky disco cut “Prog Rocks and Moon Jocks”, made with Christian Pannenborg as Montezumas Rache, features numerous vocal and instrumental elements omitted from the Norwegian duo’s final version.
The collection naturally comes packed with deliciously percussive moments, including an undeniably heavyweight translation of Tolouse Low Trax’s “Jaidem Fall” – the first ever Wolf Muller remix from 2014 – a chiming, melodious and sun-kissed revision fo BAR’s 2016 cut “BAR Theme”, an inspired tweak of Africaine 808’s “Rhythm Is All You Can Dance” and a riotous take on “Ba Hu Du”, a never-before-released track from Schulte’s other headline-grabbing, club-rocking pseudonym, Bufiman.
Schulte’s ability to create mesmerizing, slow burn soundscapes can be heard across the compilation, too, from the druggy and psychedelic pulse of his krautrock-influenced version of Telespazio’s “Barrier” and the humid tropicality of the Deep Dub of Sound Species “Balafon Jam”, to the dreamy new age synthesizer lines, twanging Jews Harp and seductive beats of Jose Padilla collaboration “Oceans on the Moon”.”
You Know What It’s Like is the quietly breathtaking debut album from Carla Dal Forno ov Tarcar and F Ingers - an incredible debut which tip toes the finest line between contentment and aching vulnerability in head-turning fashion.
Her voice is exquisitely fragile but poised and confident with it; representing an unshowy resolve which, despite its gothic chic, actually feels fresh and necessary - operating counter to contemporary glitz and glamour with clear allusions to her heroes, such as Nico or Anna Domino.
Prefaced by two single tracks, the departing dream of Fast Moving Cars and the ghostly nerve pincher What You Gonna Do Now? the album also features six new songs clocking in at just under half an hour, following a bedsit slug trail from the mildew sprawl and nitrate bubble of opener Italian Cinema to the ‘floor-stalking sleep house thud of DB Rip and a deep drifting instrumental, Dry In The Rain, strewn with melodica-like pipes and cobwebbed in acoustic guitar strum like some dusty eldritch dub of A C Marias.
In the album’s twilight hours, Carla really comes into her own on the title song, flitting between Crepulscule-esque songcraft and slow-rocking traces of UK dub, her vocals urgent but nevertheless nonchalant, before Dragon Breath recedes back into the mists of chamber music and she proceeds to pour a potent, near paralysing nightcap and shuffle away from the screen down a long corridor, fading to black in The Same Reply.
We’re utterly smitten, this could turn into a proper addiction.
Following the widely acclaimed reissue of Christoph De Babalon’s goth-jungle classic ‘If You’re Into It, I’m Out of It’, A Colourful Storm shed more light on the period running up to and including those unparalleled recording sessions with this new LP of killer, ruffneck pearls.
‘Exquisite Angst’ documents 9 pieces of dark ambient and rasping jungle breaks cloaked in the bleakest, bleached-out atmospheres. Then and now, the German artist’s sound stands out for its combination of isolationist scowl and ragged swagger, and ‘Exquisite Angst’ is full of it.
The label have done a great job in selecting and sequencing the cuts to offer a full spectrum survey of De Babalon’s formative style, arrriving with the opiated bedsit ambience of ‘Gaseous Invertebrate’, and lashing out with the brittle-boned breaks of ‘Kirchengänger’ and ‘Realistic Riot Ritual Routine’, before strafing between trip hop and breakcore in ‘Are You Talking To Me?’, while the B-side focusses in on his cinematic appeal with the decayed, windswept strings of ‘Alpenglühen’, and the pensive epic ‘Meditate’ recalls styles to come from Karl-Marx-Stadt.
The nerve-riding quality and gothic intent of De Babalon's music clearly endures and resonates with listeners 20 years later, if you were floored by ‘If You’re Into It, I’m Out of It’ - this one's a must.
It's that time of year again isn't it, and although we don't seem to get snow anymore in England (damn you global warming!) we are still just about capable of celebrating the birth of the guy who invented Coca Cola...
Stevens takes some of the classic traditional sounds of the season and places them next to compositions of his own to create something genuinely heart-warming and enjoyable without ever becoming cheesy or overwrought. Starting in 2001 and going to 2006 these songs have been pieced together with love by Stevens and his friends year after year, and that's what makes them so effective - his version of 'We Three Kings' might be heartbreaking, but his own composition 'That was the Worst Christmas Ever' is one of the most crushing pieces Stevens has ever put his name to, perfectly summing up the hopes and dreams of the season....
NYC’s Palto Flats catch Foodman at his coolest and grooving, tempering his wilder tics to slinkier effect in 5 weightless ambient-jazz-house charms.
One of the most striking sonic characters to emerge in recent years, Shokuhin Matsuri a.k.a. Foodman follows up a brace of ace releases with these beautifully spacious works, ranging from a mesmerising 6 minute stepper called ‘Miziburo’ that sounds like a frothier Shinichi Atobe, to delectable ambient-jazz fusions int escaping dub chords and fragmented jazz chops of ‘Nanika’, thru the deliquescent diffusion of floating keys, ultra-minimal percussion and playful harmonies in ‘Tokai Desu’.
If you’ve ever been intrigued by this artist and not checked him yet, this is the perfect place to build an appetite for Foodman.
Maayan Nidam curves back to Perlon with her first album for the mnml stronghold, arriving two years after the Deep Under Sobriety’ EP and 6 since since her ‘New Moon’ album with Cadenza
‘Sea of Thee’ unfolds as a coherent collection tied together by a deep, blue sense of longing for late and later nights and smoky dawns, using her (very droll, Lolina-esque) vox as buoyancy aids in an immersive trenche of stripped-down, murkily fluid grooves and mood pieces.
Staggering volley of hyper junglist killers from Sophia Loizou on a new EP of pressurized subs, hoover and percolated vocals taking us somewhere between Lee Gamble’s classic Diversions, Metalheadz Blue Note Sessions and some forward Arca x EVOL collusion. TIPPED!!!
Sophia’s first release since the much acclaimed Singulacra [Kathexis, 2016], Irregular Territories provides a definitive example of Loizou’s sound as it firmly asserts her music in a rarified hauntological rave headspace that meticulously explores an exploded deconstructionist style that she’s developed since her 2014 debut Chrysalis.
With one foot in late ‘90s halcyon daze, and another toeing the future, Sophia combines a lust for the ruffneck with a sharp mind for complex structural integrity and inventive aesthetic. Synching fragmented beats with human gasps, choral synths and richly ephemeral textures, she bridges temporalities and dimensions in a way that recalls an auditory DeepDream composite formed from millions of eyes-shut moments at Metalheadz sessions.
Album opener Loop of Perception quite literally takes off like a jet engine in the rave, while Memories of Angels conjures and sustains a lump-in-throat suspense through unresolved pads and hide ’n seek breakbeat edits, before it all comes together, gelled by wide, pressurized subs in Shadow Box.
The brief vignette of hoover and percolated vocal motifs in Frozen Dust opens up the B-side like some Arca and EVOL collusion, and The Interior Life of Another feels like a jungle inception of 4Hero’s Parallel Universe, leaving the poignant Morphogenesis to sum up the metaphysical flux of her sound in febrile detail.
Submers is the second album from the Vancouver-based Scott Morgan, aka loscil.
All of the tracks are named after submarines, the final cut being a requiem for the crew of the ill fated Russian nuclear vessel Kursk. Recorded at home on computer with samples and keyboards used as sound sources, Submers is rife with source-less echoes, steely surfaces and ominous melodic and rhythmic undertows.
The sifted melodies are layered over muffled, clicking and pulsing rhythm tracks with an appropriately aquatic feel to the entire album. After the release of loscil’s debut, Triple Point, Morgan toured Europe in early 2002 and released an EP on UK’s Involve label. Submers is an album that easily merges ambient , contemporary classical music and minimal techno in defiance of the current mania for micro-genres.
Low Jack and Clara! seal a killer first year for the mutant dancehall series 'Les Disques De La Bretagnes' with this necessary doublepack including their long sold out instalments for the series, plus an instant download dropped to your account including two bonus, previously unreleased tracks, one from each of them. There's also a special edition limited to 100 copies that comes with a newly reocrded 'Les Disques De La Bretagnes' mixtape, the A-side mixed by Low Jack, and the flipside by Clara!
Launched earlier in the year as a sublabel of Editions Gravats, Les Disques De Las Bretagnes has become a go-to home for ruffneck, forward new spins on the Black Atlantic links between dancehall, reggaeton and electronic music. Now, following Iueke’s sold out ‘Champion’ 12” - as played by Aphex Twin - the label extend a very handy catch up of Low Jack and Clara! y Maoupa’s 12”s packaged as a 2LP with new sleeve art, plus an exclusive new mixtape for quick clickers.
Of Honduran heritage and based in France, Low Jack brings a unique sidespin on dancehall templates with his ‘Riddims du lieu-dit’ LP. Originally one side of a split tape with Equiknoxx for Bokeh Versions, its edits of Industrial obscurities and classic dancehall made for a rude, refreshing take on ‘80s and ‘90s digi-dub and dancehall that sold out within a week. Likewise, Clara! y Maoupa treated reggaeton with a mix of reverence and daring, twisting classic ‘90s ragga with bumping dembow while also introducing the Spanish artist as a deadly vocalist. Her Ruge is without question one of the deadliest tracks of the year - so good!!!!
The bonus mixtape is proof, if it were needed, of Low Jack and Clara!’s serious DJ and selection skills. with the label boss delivering a mad trippy squash for the haunted dancehall, while Clara! cooks up one of her signature reggaeton mixes, ram-jam with fresh and classic gear.
RVNG Intl mint their promising reissue label, ReRVNG with the superb first anthology of Michele Mercure’s home-brewed synth-pop and electronic experiments circa late ‘80s/early ‘90s.
It’s actually a co-release with Freedom To Spend, the Pete Swanson and Jed Bindeman-helmed reissue label that Michele kicked off with her acclaimed ’86 debut ‘Eye Chant’ in 2017. Following the mood of that long overlooked side, ‘Beside Herself’ collects 19 further songs and instrumental pieces from hard-to-find tapes, documenting a creative development from her earliest, skeletal guitar, rhythm box and tape loop sketches through the era of her mutant, theatrical synth moves on ‘Eye Chant’ and beyond.
“Michele is a natural collaborator and has made music for all sorts of contexts, film, theater, dance, etc. You get that impression though this set, you hear different sonic collaborators, but you might also be able to pick up on one track being more kinetic, another more cinematic, another taking wild turns that may be due to edits or changes in a performance or just because she made some interesting choice here or there. Spend a little time with “An Accident Waiting To Happen” or “No More Law In Gotham City” and you’ll be taken on a bit of a ride through different movements, sounds, concepts, concerns, all in about four minutes. Some of this music is functional, some of it is dysfunctional, it’s all good.
For those familiar with Eye Chant, you’ll hear some familiar elements in Beside Herself. You’ll find the cool synthesizers and beautiful samples, storytelling through pop gestures, an apparent dedication to technological and aesthetic experimentation.”
Yves Tumor lands on Warp with his debut album for the label; more popwise and polished than before, still pitched perfectly between the avant garde and the mass market...
Laced with guest vox and production from Croatian Amor, James Ferraro, Oxhy, Puce Mary and James K, on ‘Safe In The Hands of Love’ Sean Bowie a.k.a. Yves Tumor is the liminal, connecting spirit between a unique push ’n pull of samples and original instrumentation, acting like a porous transducer of style, tone and pattern that absorbs and amplifies lost (but not dead) light and energy and turns it into something wholly his own.
Where previous singles such as ‘Noid’, ‘Lifetime’ and ‘Licking An Orchid’ - the album’s core trio - distinctly nodded to Brit-pop and ‘90s ambient-pop pastoralism, the rest of the album curiously unfolds along those axes to take in nods to Warp’s earliest signings, N.O.W. on the introductory fanfare of ‘Faith In Nothing Except Salvation’, while ‘Economy Of Freedom’ opens out into futurist sci-fi soul, and ‘Honesty’ masterfully melds indie-pop and rugged electro-soul.
And it’s that polysemous definition of soul that continues to be the uniting ligature or filament to the rest of the album, from the raging black metal mutation of ‘Hope In Suffering (Escaping Oblivion & Overcoming Powerlessness)’, to big beat-y psychedelia of ‘All The Love We Have Now’, and the white hot, foaming shoegaze distortion of ‘Let The Lioness In You Flow Freely’, all cannily highlighting a sense of emotive mutualism that transcends style, credo, and vibe.
Rezzett own that fuzzy mid-fi electronic sound on a cracking eponymous début album, landing nearly 5 years on from their self-titled EP, also issued on Will Bankhead’s TTT label.
In possession of a sound that feels like exotic birds nesting a vintage studio inside your ear, Rezzett, along with the likes of Jamal Moss, Actress, Terekke and Huerco S., have been responsible for redressing the fidelity of dance music with fairly radical yet subtle incision and insight over the best part of this decade.
Thru various process of attrition, they've made a virtue of purposefully muddy and unclear resolution, embracing and fetishising the infidelities of analog hardware noise for a sort of shabby chic appeal that lends itself to closer attention in headphones as well as a sort of psychedelic friction on the ‘floor.
It’s perhaps fair to say that Rezzett have really come to define that sound at its murkiest, most romantic, and diverse, pulling from house, jungle, garage and ambient noise paradigms to forge something viscerally affective and memorably their own, as experienced between the mottled VHS memory-bank shakes of Hala, in the squirming, sore but lush Sexzzy Creep, and the salty angels tears of Yunus in Ekstasi, with the rusty grime and jungle shanks of Gremlinz and Worst Ever Contender lending a cranky, rinsed out finale.
One of the most important ambient releases of all time, Jon Hassell and Brian Eno's 'Fourth World Vol.1 - Possible Musics' deservedly receives the prime reissue treatment for the benefit of a new generation.
Originally issued in 1980 ℅ Editions EG, it converges the paths of two musical pioneers who were mutually searching for ways to consolidate world musics with the possibilities of tape, electronics and jazz-wise improvisation. Across five sweetly concise pieces and the 21-minute dreamscape of 'Charm (Over "Burundi Cloud")' Hassell expresses gorgeous, considered flights of fancy thru his heavily effected trumpet against a backdrop of Eno's rippling, rhythmelodic percussions and diaphanous synth tones as languid as they are subtly beautiful.
For us, from the spirited float of 'Delta Rain Dream' to the achingly lush peal of 'Ba-benzele' and aerial elevations of 'Charm ("Over Burundi Cloud")' it's the definition of timeless, enchanted music. Out of print for far too long, it's a must check for anyone with a taste for worldly dissonance and forward looking composition. RIYL Hieroglyphic Being, OPN, Tomuttontu, T C F.
Another chance to pick up one of our favourite albums released this year; an hour of deeply inspirational House music for the ages that could have been produced 20 years ago, or earlier this year - we’ll probably never know.
Heat is a new double album from Shinichi Atobe for DDS. It follows on from last year’s “From The Heart, It’s A Start, A Work Of Art” set and continues a run of highly enigmatic, acclaimed and completely unparalleled productions that follow their own timeless logic. There’s no sonic fiction involved - this material really does just turn up on a CD sent by air mail from Japan to Manchester, sparse info, no messing, pure gold.
What’s that cover art about? prob something to do with the balmy material within. So Good, So Right, the 10 minute opener, will force you to forget about all the shite around you for a while. There are also several tracks called Heat; they’re all killer.
This music takes you elsewhere almost immediately; that fan on your desk is basically a summer breeze. In fact, this whole album is absurd; completely effortless; a total classic. Convince us that there’s a more life affirming electronic album this year and we’ll buy you an ice cream....
‘Wize Music’ is a jaw-dropping introduction to the new age electronic world of Dennis Wise - the missing link between Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rock-it’, Daevid Allen’s Gong and Bill Laswell’s Material, all of whom he contributed to in some form or other. Combine two rare as f**k LPs in one, including ‘Valhalla’ , which was pressed at Dynamic Sounds, Kingston, JA on the same day Big Youth were also cutting a record. If that backstory isn’t enough for ya, the music will send you reeling!
“Perhaps one of the most unique and unlikely exponents of the highly collectible genres of ambient electronics, experimental tape-music and PINA (Private Issue New Age) this English born Jamaican raised sound designer, artist and existentialist furrowed his own ublinkered path through lesser chartered electronic fields for many moons before eventually teaming up with Bill Laswell (with Material) and Daevid Allen in New York to bring self-taught synthesis to Gong during their most oblique periods. Creating two impossibly rare self pressed vinyl LPs of conceptual inner-visionary outer-galactic angular tonal-dronal alien-art soundscapes in the process, the man known under figure shifting guises such as Dennis Wise/Denis Weise/Dr. Wise etc, combined a culture of sound system circuitry and radiophonic trickery adding Tea-pot poetry and sci-fidelity future-folk to his magnetic mesh! Presented here as the first ever dedicated ize Music collection this record combines compositions spanning 1979-1984 in both a solo capacity as well as small-group projects featuring members of the Emerald Web band.
Imagine a comic book where a Funkenstein monster called “Laraaji-Scratch Perry” invaded your record shelf while Komendarek and Holger Czukay kept lookout… Dr. Dennis might be the only one Wise enough to outsmart all of them with his powerful amorphous anaesthetic.”
Chiming garage blues-pop sung in Cantonese
“Beijing’s Gong Gong Gong make driving, stripped-down transnational blues, tapping into the spirit of Bo Diddley, the Monks, and psychedelic music from West Africa to Southeast Asia. “Phantom Rhythm” is the concept at the duo’s core: between Tom Ng’s percussive guitar and Joshua Frank’s melodic, charging bass, an aura of ghostly snare hits emerges over a thumping low-end pulse. Atop this framework, Ng recounts Cantonese tales of absurdity, love and lust with fragmented, wry vision.
On their first US release, "Siren 追逐劇" b/w " Something’s Happening 突發 " (out 11/9 on Wharf Cat) Gong Gong Gong brings to life a cinematic chase scene. Shot-by-shot, frame-by-frame, "Siren 追逐劇" is a story of galloping hooves and screeching tires—a horse and car racing each other through mountains and desert, charging into the city. The flip-side, instrumental "Something’s Happening 突發" is Gong Gong Gong at their most raw: locomotive jangle and fuzz-faced roar. Dust, sweat and engine oil, the landscape rushing by. Gong Gong Gong have dates lined up on both sides of the Atlantic with the likes of Parquet Courts, Bodega and Flasher.”
Feted producer/engineer Randall Dunn etches his name in the pantheon of doom with ‘Beloved’, his first solo vessel following over 400 credits on records by Sunn 0))), Earth, Tim Hecker, and Six Organs of Admittance, among so many others. Highly recommended if you're into Vangelis, 0PN, Scott Walker, Wolves In The Throne Room...
Active in the producer/engineer/mixing seat since 1996, Dunn’s tact with early analog and digital synthesisers and feel for instrumental integrity is key to a vast swathe of modern classics from the doom realm. On ‘Beloved’ he finally puts those prized skills at the service of his staggering debut album, poetically framing vocal and instrumental offerings from Zola Jesus, Shahzad Ismaily and Eyvind Kang, a.o., within vast, parallel, electro-acoustic dimensions shot thru with shocking emotive pathos.
Inspired by the wisdom of age and a period of psychic stress, ’Beloved’ truly renders the full, magnificent scope of Dunn’s 3rd eye. With a cinematic/psychedelic grasp of dramaturgy that perhaps only comes from subsuming one’s own vision at the service of others, his first solo side unfurls a billowing tapestry in seven parts, finely limning a sort of hellish opera a la latter Scott Walker or, indeed, his own work with skilful scene setters, Wolves In The Throne Room.
Shoring up in desolate synth space with opener ‘Amphidromic Point’, visually mirrored in O’Malley’s cover art of a warped beach scene, the album evolves purposefully into the ante-chamber music of ‘Lava Rock & Amber’, making stunning use of a string trio plus clarinet, Buchla easel and Minimoog, before delivering the stone cold blow of Frank Fisher’s pre-dawn blues vocal and Carpenter-esque synth strokes on ‘Something About That Night’. In terms of sheer scale of space and haunting potential, however, the keening chorales of ‘Theoria/Aleph’ strongly resonate with classic ventures by Phurpa and John Avery, and Zola Jesus proves the perfect candidate to close out with her soaring vocal on ‘True Home’.
Continuing a home run of zingers on Jai and Anup Paul’s Paul Institute, Rutheven lets his soul flow on the memorably infectious ‘Hypothalamus’...
The kind of tune that will call to mind a dozen others that you can’t place a finger on, ‘Hypothalamus’ is an instant anthem of the kind that should be A-listed on commercial radio in a perfect world, and makes up for so much overblown, too-many-cooks soul currently in circulation.
‘Hypothalamus’ will forever remind us of the long, hot summer of 2018, when climate change became ever more apparent, and all we could do was hum its hook for days on end.
Expanded reissue of ’Snakedressed’ , by Klink’s legendary Dirk Ivens as Dive, backed with choice cuts from the same era, including collaborations with Kirlian Camera and Controlled Bleeding
Salvaged from the wastelands of late ‘90s EBM/Industrial, ’Snakedressed’ speaks to a time when this style was out in the woods compared to its earlier golden phase. All the hallmarks of Dirk’s sound are in place - snarling vox, lugubrious drums, dank atmospheres - but to be honest it sounds dated by this point.
However, the bonus disc is well worth checking, highlighting four cuts from his ‘Obsession’ collaboration with Kirlian Camera, including the titular EBM-pop song, plus two pulsing zingers from the ‘2/3’ compilation on Germany’s Hands Productions, and the Carter Tutti-esque 20 minutes of ‘Glow In The Dark’, an obscure Portuguese split release with Controlled Bleeding.
Holy grail German post-punk zingers reissued via Stefan Schneider’s TAL, following on the heels of their killer Konrad Kraft reissue
Originally issued as one disc on Klar! 80’s 3LP ‘Massa’ set in 1981, Roter Stern Belgrad’s 3 tracks are an amazing example of Afro inspirations worked into early industrial frameworks.
Right up there with unruly classics by CH-BB, Din A Testbild and Liaisons Dangereuses from the same era, these tracks perhaps even more feral and far out, but properly anchored in amazing rhythms, as you’ll hear between the snaking minimalism and stressed metal sounds of ‘Afars & Issas’, on the wickedly agitated drum programming and cranky electronics of ‘Wegwerfliebling’, and the transfixing mix of possessed hollers, gnashing drums and motorik bass in ‘Abend-Stern-Chant’.
2018 marks the 40th anniversary of Bauhaus. To celebrate, Beggars Arkive are reissuing six records from the band’s catalogue on special edition coloured vinyl.
"Formed in 1978, The legendary and hugely influential quartet hailed from Northampton, England and is comprised of Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, David J and Kevin Haskins. The dark, dramatic music that they made, possessed far more force, variety and playfulness than the ‘founding fathers of goth’ tag that is always attached to them.
‘Crackle’ is a best-of collection of songs. Contains the studio version of ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’. All Music described it as “an excellent single-disc overview of the group’s brief career, containing all of their essential songs, from ‘In The Flat Field’ and ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ to ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and ‘Burning From The Inside’ …it’s nice that there’s finally a thorough retrospective of the groundbreaking goth quartet” and Pitchfork said it is “a fine retrospective of the material that both Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson claim was a ‘major influence’ of their music.”
SOPHIE lights up 2018 with ‘Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides’, an exhilarating début album of upfront dance-pop, epic ballads and shocking electronic production that grasps the modern zeitgeist with jaws and both fists
Landing some 6 years since her ironically titled debut Nothing More To Say, over which time the artist has produced records for Madonna, Charli XCX and Vince Staples (among others), Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides renders a full frontal experience that’s set to define the scene for years to come.
SOPHIE’s understanding of the links between avant-garde and pop cultures is dramatically in force across the album, matching the hyperreal pop stun of PC Music chop for chop, but also pushing the prism farther in favour of her own, equally hyperreal image. The results are comparable with Autechre and EVOL records as much as Taylor Swift or The Pet Shop Boys, veering from warped pop perfection to brutalist electronics and breathtaking rhythmic energy often in the space of a single track, brilliantly embracing contradiction as a tool of expression in a way that feels bang on the money right now.
Her trifecta of lead singles, It’s Okay to Cry, Ponyboy, and Faceshopping gild the album’s entrance with some of the strongest pop sensations felt in recent years, before matters take a dramatic turn with a plunge into the beatless trance ballad Is It Cold In The Water?, and the subsequent chest-bursting R&B gospel of Infatuation, which both appear to massage the senses in preparation for the album’s shock-out 2nd half.
In Not Okay, she pairs knock-out electronics with the sheerest rave mentasms in delirious 3D, before utterly gobbling your swede in the breathtaking, atonal wormhole of Pretending, and promptly spiralling into the vacuum-packed banger Immaterial, then embracing the Whole New World/Pretend World in a kill-‘em-all 9 minutes of endorphin-rushing dance-pop genius that’s effectively the 2018 anthem we were all waiting for.
Issued for the first time on vinyl, the great poet of musique concrète Luc Ferrari limns a sensory immersion into the streets of Madrid on ‘L’escalier des aveugles’, a radio play commissioned for Spain’s national radio and broadcast in 1991 as part of the ‘European Day Of Music’ programme
As the 8th release on Mana, the label helmed by both Blowing Up The Workshop’s Matthew Kent and British Library curator Andrea Zarza, Ferrari’s rich evocation of a Madrilenian night keeps the label's remit nicely open-ended, following releases from the Japanese avant-garde and techno’s leftfield in 2018.
Ferrari methodically worked with the commissioner, José Iges, then director of Ars Sonora on Spanish National Radio, to select La “Cuesta de los Ciegos” (the Staircase of the Blind), a flight of 254 descending steps that join Calle Segovia and Calle de la Morería, as his locus of investigation. Historically named after the blind musicians who played and begged for alms on the steps, it provides a uniquely transitional space or platform for Ferrari to symbolically render his magick around the notion, “Radio, by nature, is blind… how do we enter the stairs of the blind?”
Together with a number of female voices sourced from theatrical backgrounds, Ferrari lead us up and down the stairs, with the sound of clacking heels and the tip-tap of a white cane providing a subtle leitmotif that winds between the voices, occupying multiple roles as guide, translator, commentator and actress. Layered with electronics and cut with sharp fades-to-black that connote the blind experience, the results are a feast for the senses, most nimbly treading the line between waking and dream life, and with a sensual subtlety akin to the memory-jogging quality of perfume, or the balmy fragrance of citrus fruits on a warm evening.
Features exclusive tracks from Pan Daijing, Lanark Artefax, Peder Mannerfelt, Tomoko Sauvage, Pye Corner Audio, Sophia Loizou, Abul Mogard, Par Grindvik, Roly Porter, Hodge, Gazelle Twin, Shapednoise, Batu, Yves De Mey, Kangding Ray, Ian William Craig, Christophe De Babalon (on vinyl only) and many others.
"Twenty six artists producing the cream of leftfield electronic music have been given a brief: to take the phrase “in Death's dream kingdom”, or the whole of TS Elliot's poem as inspiration. Vibrating with vivid sonic references, the poem is a feast for the ears, which makes it a ripe subject for musical interpretation.
Not an album in the traditional sense, it brings together a seriously diverse array of talents into a coherent whole with a vivid aesthetic reverberating through it. It occupies a similar space to the great home listening electronica acts of the 90s – FSOL, Global Communication, the Artificial Intelligence axis – but there are no throwbacks here: this is radical in sound and thought. Dark music for dark times."
Jai and Anup Paul pluck out this deep pop pearl from Hira, one of the newest recruits to their Paul Institute label...
Cut from similar, purple cloth as label CEO Jai Paul, ‘Red Light Drive’ finds yung Hira glowing in the middle of sparking Linn drums and cruising cyber-bass strokes, working a proper classic yet futuristic pivot that puts a lot of contemporary boogie into stark relief.
Having lived with this song for 6 months now, we can confirm it’s one 2018’s strongest ohrwurms. As in addictively strong.
Hypnotic, stripped down techno from Bryce Hackford, joining Andrew Lyster’s Youth label for a 3-track session after their incendiary FUMU release
The A-side is a proper, unassuming slow burner in the model of Levon Vincent, with tinfoil hi-hats tapped in over a booming kick and webbed with spidery electronics sure to induce some eyes shut moments in the club.
On the flip he channels that momentum somewhere shoreside with claggy, smoky atmosphere and distaced field recordings lending a fine depth perception, before the final cuts dawn a deep, rolling, tribal house trance replete with chants and a rising chord sequence from the Carl Craig playbook.