Shorelights is a collaborative ambient techno project feat. Rod Modell (Deepchord, Echospace, Waveform Transmission, Transformations), and Walter Wasacz and Christopher McNamara of the Detroit-based audio visual collective nospectacle.
"Ancient Lights expands the vision and the range of the Shorelights aesthetic, heading into deeper territories of inner and outer space. It's ambient for body and spirit, sound designed to make the human heart dance."
I:Cube packs 6 serious heaters on the 120th release from Versatile, the long-running label he co-operates with Gilb’R.
LP 1 throws down a sort of demented cumbia-house style lit with see-sawing accordion in Flutes Souterraines, along with the chunky electro-house jaxx of Troglo Dance before curving into psychedelic slow acid a la Tin Man or The Analord in Bifurque.
On disc 2 he restlessly shifts the pattern again to a sort of brilliantly skewed gamelan dance with La Nuit Des Rats, then synking into viscous cosmic disco chug on Ramurc, and saving the googley-eyed 6am business of Fractal P for the most lip-smacking moments of the night.
Having just finished a residency at the prestigious EMS Stockholm, Egyptian producer Ahmed El Ghazoly makes a stunning 2nd mark on Lee Gamble’s UIQ label with Numbers, a ruggedly chopped but spatially hypersensitive suite of encrypted electronic rhythms and entrancing, mirage-like geometries. It's the 9th release on Lee Gamble’s UIQ label.
Boldly committed to his own niche between the folds of grime, techno and electro-acoustic dimensions, Zuli’s follow-up to the Bionic Ahmed EP pushes it’s loping designs into stranger spaces within the sound field, finding an idiosyncratic ecology of frequency that finds room for dense, physical subbass, smeared vocals and iridescent motifs amid its morphing dimensions.
The six tracks exemplify Zuli’s playfully paradoxical approach to club music, experimenting with tessellating dry and fluid textures in the dusty, humid London-via-Cairo swerve of Bow which cranks opens the EP, to the metastable techno momentum in the buckling rolige of CommProto, while She’s Hearing Voices feels like a smoking area between rooms, heard in a queasy but spangled state.
That all feels like preparation for the second wind of the B-side, which convulses into action with the chromatic trance warp of What You Do and its grubbing Autechrian inversion, Tongue Chomper, only to slide off the page in Foam Home’s future primordial glob of melted dancehall.
Duppy Gun Produtions and Bokeh Versions light up summer ’18 with 50 minutes of dancehall crossfire, with vocals by Sikka Rymes, I Jahbar, Early One, Lyrical Wiz, Sniper, Buddy Don and Lopo.
With X-amounta mutant ammo between their barrels, both sides keep it bent, hazy and alien AF with mad bashment grime hybrids, slowed down specials and unnamed styles. We’d wager it’s best received after a few zoots and maybe a Guiness Export or three for optimal smudge...
The enigma of Rex Ilusivii becomes deliciously mistier with this remarkable recording made at The Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad, 1983. We’re going to get used to saying this; it’s yet another amazing record from the Offen Music label outta Düsseldorf’s Salon Des Amateurs…
This is a truly freakish slab of sounds, combining Suba’s background in classical composition (although he never finished his studies, becoming seduced by synthetic sounds and therefore not allowed to finish his degree under Rudolf Bruci), with a headlong taste for electronic music and a unique cache of ethnic and folk recordings made by his travel writer father, Radomir Subotic.
Factor in a fascination with emerging Latin-American sounds, and Suba was clearly out on his own at this time in what was then known as Yugoslavia, where he was employed at Radio Beograd’s state-of-the-art Sound Workshop as a freelance engineer and composer exploring the potential of their Synthi 100 and learning from the maestros of “radiophony”, Arsenije Jovanovic and Ivana Stefanovic.
Predating the sounds on his sought-after Disillusioned! LP and In The Moon Cage, the Koncert SNP 1983 performance renders Suba at his most liminal, unquantifiable, twisting and turning in seven parts between starkly minimal, primeval synth music to hypnotic, pulsating vocal arrangements and Ghedalia-esque worldly psychedelia, plus a number of shorter pieces of gristly knots and abstract whorls, which are almost concrète dub in effect and bear no small resemblance to current, deconstructed club musics.
We love this label, and much like everything we've heard from them thus far: this is a buy on sight kinda deal.
There was a time when The Third Eye Foundation was the mirror of the world from which the group drew its substance. But the reflection faded and dirt accumulated so it only provided deformed images and gradually became the world's shadow.
"This willingness to look at and express images and words about humans and their environment has since been embodied in the completely open face of its founder, Matt Elliott. Thus, The Third Eye Foundation is a discrete entity, the opposite of what Matt Elliott may otherwise represent. In 2010, The Dark (IDA 071CD) already portrayed this state of affairs. Today, Wake The Dead is banging the last nails into the boards that make up the barricades. Wake The Dead is like a key which attempts to open the doors of memory. Waking the dead is not a question of meaning but rather of sensations. Free will and free thought have no place here -- in the universe of The Third Eye Foundation, humans are no more than a simple product of their environment.
This may seem extremely violent and dehumanizing but it is not the case at all. You need to get rid of your certainties, empty yourself, and put yourself on the same level as those considered to be "the other". And that's probably the greatest quality of an album like Wake The Dead. Its abstract compositions are without a format and thus implicitly participate in the deconstruction of the imaginary, of all logical forms which we sometimes cling to without even knowing why. It offers something essential in its unpredictable approach: the possibility of letting go without this ever being judged as an admission of weakness. In a way, Wake The Dead is an album without a beginning or an end. Its melodic variations instill themselves without the listener realizing, and then progressively changes the listener's perception of the work. The 40 minutes of throbbing, hypersensitive dubstep that make up the record are not aimed at sending a message to the mind; The intention is to make souls dance and to unite them. Personnel: Matt Elliott - all instruments, vocals; David Chalmin - additional keyboards, vocals, drum machine, manipulations, effects; Raphaël Séguinier - drums; Gaspar Claus - cello."
The rarest treat for your lug ‘oles, The Glass World of Annea Lockwood is a hugely innovative and immersive study in the complex resonant musical properties of glass in its myriad forms.
A number of tracks from the LP previously featured on EM Records’ Annea Lockwood retrospective Early Works, 1967-1982, but this LP forms their first time vinyl reissue, and it’s a total pleasure to receive the music in context of its original format - made even better, canny, thanks to a crystal clear vinyl pressing.
An exercise in focussed listening as the result of filigree tactility, Annea Lockwood’s début introduced a vitally perceptive new spririt to the avant-garde upon its release in 1970 via Mike Steyn’s South African label, Tangent Records. In a similar way to, or even pre-echoing Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient recordings of metal rods, Annea’s material recordings are necessarily scientific, but serve to render a spectrum of sounds as Ur/un-earthly as anything made on synthesisers prior to or during that era of intrepid sound exploration.
With her first release Annea strove to “entice people into really listening intensively”, and does so with transfixing effect, activating wired glass, glass discs, chunks of green cullet glass, glass tubing, sheets of micro-glass and glass jars to generate totally beguiling sounds; from brittle pointillism to refracted glissandi. In getting as close as possible to the material, Annea gives voice to his hidden nature, stimulating its fine graded hyaline structures in order to make its atoms sing like audible alien animalicula.
The collaborative venture of Turk Dietrich and Michael Jones, Belong inhabit a sonic territory that seems perpetually out of sight - giving the same effulgent warmth as standing with your back to a sunset, or glimpsing a blizzard through a frosted window.
Spectrum Spools scan back to the early work of Second Woman’s Turk Dietrich with reissue of his and Michael Jones’ first album together as shoegaze duo Belong. While there’s maybe no obvious connection between the hyper dance music of Second Woman and the romantically sore, heavily textured tones of October Language, look a little further and it’s possible to locate a shared lust for keening transcendence and a lush tension between freeness of expression and discipline of intent between the two projects.
But no worry if that’s not apparent. Just think of it belong as a sublimated MBV or echo of Fennesz and you’ve got the measure of this abrasively beautiful album.
Ex Nihilo is the crushing new album from arch experimentalist Bruce Gilbert (Wire), forming his first album in six years and demonstrating a super rare example of an artist who only gets more vital and far-out with age. If the idea of slipping into an irretrievable K-Hole lights up your mind, prepare to take a swan dive into this one.
Following from Ab Ovo  and the head-swallowing Oblivio Agitatum , the nomenclature of Gilbert’s latest signifies another uncommonly strong batch from one of the UK’s most persistent electronic boundary pushers. With the last five years or more spent upkeeping his legacy via various reissues of foundational work with Wire and Dome, this album drills right down to Gilbert in the here and now, portraying a brilliantly uncompromising, belligerent artist of a kind that appears unfortunately absent in so many other echelons of contemporary electronic music.
Like an instrumental, electronic music-embracing Scott Walker, Bruce Gilbert’s experience feeds into the peerless visions of Ex Nihilio, lending the innate confidence to express himself in such brilliantly discordant terms as the opener Undertow, and realise the magick and attraction of such bittersweet tones in Negative Mass, and it’s surely only from such experience of the late 20th century avant garde that majestic structures like the breathtaking hyaline spires of Hymn can arise.
But for all those head-turning moments, the inverse, quieter parts are just as important to Gilbert’s sound, as pieces such as HA8, or the smeared timbral resonance of his Alien-like Change And Not, and the spatially-searching pulse of In Memory Of MV all hold the balance in check, making this set another ideal Gilbert gesamtkunstwerk for the ages.
Stephen O’Malley serves Ragnar Johnson’s transcendent recordings of sacred flute ceremonies in New Guinea on his amazing Ideologic Organ label. Johnson’s Sacred Flute Music From New Guinea: Madang / Windim Mabu album was previously reissued on Ideologic organ in 2016, and was recently sampled on Björk’s Utopia album. This collection, featuring an array of mostly unaccompanied flute recordings, is equally spellbinding and worthy of your close attention.
“Crying Bamboos is a translation of the pidgin description of the sound of sacred flutes: “Mambu i cry, i cry, i cry”.
Sacred flutes are blown to make the cries of spirits by adult men in the Madang region of Papua New Guinea. Pairs of long bamboo male and female flutes are played for ceremonies in the coastal villages near the Ramu River. There are seven male initiation flute cries from Bosmun, four flute cries from Bak: Borai with occasional single garamut percussion and two flute cries from Kaean, one with vocals and hand drums. The flute players were of the last generation to have learned this skill during a complete cycle of male initiation. These previously unreleased recordings were made in 1979.”
Explorative ambient spirit Phil Struck makes an absorbing new album of ambient gestures, ersatz ethnomusicology and pastoral, lower case electronica in NNO, making for a fine follow-up to his lush Quiet Time tape.
Joining the likes of Limpe Fuchs and Sculpture on Hamburg’s Ana Ott label, Struck tentatively plays up to their far-reaching aesthetics with a humbly un-showy and subtly captivating collection of frayed sounds and arrangements that recall the smudged rhythmelodic improvisations of Bellows as much as the padded spheres of Space Africa and Bernard Baum.
In the most classic sense of ambient music, NNO is meant to melt into your personal ether with a barely-there presence, the kind of sound that triggers the olfactory and feels like there’s an abstract window open in the room bringing warm breezes and smells from f*ck knows where, but wherever it is, it’s a lovely place that we should all visit every now and then.
Re-mastered, legit licensed reissue of two soul belters outta 1970s Memphis
“With Majik's Back Into Your Heart, we’ve dug deep into the back catalogue of Hi Records, legendary soul label from Memphis founded in the 1950s.
Originally signed as a recording artist, Willie Mitchell took the reigns of the label and guided it through its most successful period in the 1970s, notably producing a string of studio recordings for Al Green, Syl Johnson and OV Wright among other eminent soul musicians of the time.
Whilst the Hi Records catalogue shifted hands multiple times since the late 1970s, it was mainly exploited as a means to reissue recordings from Al Green and other high profile Hi Records artists (notably by Motown) while the label’s more obscure back catalogue remained largely untouched.
Years later, a few lesser known one offs from the label’s vaults holding the distinctive raw Hi Records production sound and a circling hypnotic quality that makes them potential successful records for modern day dance floors have been getting a second life with record collectors, DJs and on dance floors worldwide.
As such, recordings such as Africano's Open Your Hearts have become You’re A Melody classics for some years now and we are glad to bring you one more reissue which in our hearts hold at least the same level of quality and potential as the former. With Back Into Your Heart, Majik pull through with a strong up-tempo disco tune that embodies Mitchell’s sound as well as a level of modernity that might explain why it has remained largely unnoticed up until now.”
Blackest Ever Black get the very best out of John T. Gast with the hypnotic dancehall meditation wygdn_bashmenttk9 and the jaw-dropping ambient elegy, wygdn_tryagen (5) cut to a natty dubplate-style 10”.
It’s got some fair competition in the Invocations mixtape/LP, his Excerpts album, and the amazing Young Druid project, but for our money this is the most crucial statement yet from the mystic UK stepper known as John T. Gast, giving the ‘floor a much needed dose of esoteric magick in the A-side’s levitating blend of digidub and choral voices, and then handing listeners to the sandman with the immaculate baroque beauty of the B-side.
A stone cold essential, no less.
Félicia Atkinson is a multidisciplinary artist with many strings to her bow. Hand In Hand elevates her work to a completely higher plain as far as we are concerned though; fusing field recordings, modular and MIDI electronics with an almost hypnotising line in whispered/ASMR vocal narration to subliminally affective degrees, lulling us into an alien - yet incredibly human - soundsphere. It’s rare to hear a singular artistic vision translated into a sound that is so inherently personal and inviting - but somehow Hand In Hand is both one of the most accessible, and most experimental albums we encountered in 2017. It’s riddled with so much nuance that many months on we’re still discovering hidden new crevices with every listen. If you’ve yet to hear it - what are you waiting for?
Preeminent avant-garde composer Felicia Atkinson weaves myriad, filigree electro-acoustic and non-musical metanarratives in her totally absorbing follow-up to A Readymade Ceremony  - a remarkable album which attracted high acclaim worldwide and pushed her to the core of the modern experimental sphere.
Hand In Hand consolidates Atkinson's refined palette of modular and MIDI electronics with ASMR voices, field recordings and instrumental improvisation to subliminally affective degrees, whilst conveying the ambitious complexities of her sound art with a harmoniously organic, spaciously poised appeal.
Where her last album A Readymade Ceremony emerged fully formed from a protracted period of experimentation and research whilst based in The Alps c. 2013-2015, Hand In Hand finds Félicia building a metaphysical playground on its foundations, meshing recordings and lyrics - found and composed between her home in Brittany and Stockholm’s EMS facilities - into a finely sculpted and dreamlike web of subtle sensations and hyperstisised fiction.
In the process she brings closer together a wide-range of her artistic practices, incorporating elements of sculpture and painting along with sound installation, multichannel diffusion and live performance into her ever-expanding sonic vocabulary and grammar. Whether consumed on headphones or loudspeakers, it’s clear to hear this sharply honed sound sensitivity come into play as her carefully hushed vocals are bathed in placid yet suspenseful tones and almost imperceptibly underlined by an attention to timbral detail and those infrasonic frequencies normally ignored or blithely unattended by other composers within the field.
This all becomes apparent within the first side’s transition from warbling ambient-pop/neo-classical in I’m Following You to a stark contrast of hushed ASMR vocals and Rashad Becker-ish crack-bug electronics in Valis laid over Oren Ambarchi-esque bass tones, and then again into the hyaline gamelan dimensions of Curious In Epidavros, each laced with layers of spectral detail that only reveal themselves after multiple listens, and quite differently in each mode (headphones or speakers).
The dichotomies or paradoxes between the seen/heard/felt and unseen/unheard/elusive continue to beautifully, mystically inform and frame the rest of the album; begging us to chase her vocals around the stereo field of and mazy shimmers of Adaptation Assez Facile into the upside down oddness of Monstera Deliciosa’s rising basses and the curiously erotic lyrics about plants in Visage, before calving off into squashed rhythms with the hymn, A House A Dance A Poem, emerging into the sublime, weightless ambience of Hier Le Désert, and the surreal avian jazz Buchla strokes that resolve No Fear But Anticipation.
In the best way this is a record that is immediate and enduring; transparent yet oblique, riddled with nuance and underlying layers that keener listeners will discover in their own time.
Micachu & The Shapes collaborated with the London Sinfonietta to create 'Chopped & Screwed' back in 2010. The concept itself is pretty far flung, merging the disciplines of codeine-laced cough syrup-drankin' early '90s Houston HipHop legend, DJ Screw, with the rarified sound of one of the world's leading contemporary orchestras.
While the Sinfonietta provide endlessly absorbing backdrops, Michachu takes the innovative approach and plays her own, hand made instruments, as she explains "Our own instruments sound a bit percussive, a bit like samples, a bit different. When I write songs on a guitar I find my hands falling into the same bar chords all the time, but if you have something new in front of you there are no rules. No one else has ever played one before so you can approach music differently just make it up as you go along".
The end result of all this is incredible, a bewitching sequence of dissonance and crooked articulation that sounds unlike anything you'll have heard before, somewhere between her acclaimed Under The Skin score, classical Fantasia, Shoegaze and Dj Screw.
Trust us, it's a special one.
Shed’s 2nd album, The Traveller is also known as the one that’s not as good as Shedding The Past.
It’s definitely not terrible, per se, or even bad - check the lush, C2-style breakbeat techno chops on Leave Things, or the searing noise techno elegy Hello Bleep! - but it’s just maybe too sentimental and awkwardly experimental to live up to comparison with its predecessor.
Don’t let that put you off giving it a crack though; it’s riddled with details and ideas worth checking out.
Tim (aka Jean Marie Tiam) and the sadly departed Maurice Foty are musical cousins from Bafoussam in Cameroon. Their signature vocal harmony sound may be the first thing you hear, however they also have produced some of the funkiest African sounds around. They sing in their native language Ngomâlah, as well as Duala and English.
"We start the album off slowly with the scene-setting and largely instrumental "Douala By Night". Tight guitar and choppy clavi drive this song along. The groove is so deep even Missy Elliot couldn't resist a cheeky sample. "Funky Bafoussam" carries on the theme and expands it to include a kick-ass horn section. "More And More" is next and here the vocals burst forth over this up tempo punchy pop-funk track. With "Love Is Light" the pair show their versatility with a smooth English-sung soul ballad.
The hopelessly upbeat "Aie" is next with its earworm keyboard riff, slice guitar and catchy falsetto vocal. "Not So Bad" brings on the boogie. "I Love Yaounde" is a smooth swinging boogie-ballad with a killer chorus hook. "Eda" is a hit from early in their career. We close of the comp with the disco funk of "Funky Boogie Love" and synth grooves of "Eya Mba".
The songs on the comp represent only a 2 year period but some of the finest from the duo. These days Tim keeps the Tim and Foty flame alive. He currently lives between France and Cameroon. A musical flame that most definitely is burning bright."
The label with the best cover art in the business follow that stellar release from Polish pop diva Aldona Orłowska with the wonky melt of Caçador do Futuro, where Portuguese duo Tropo Macaca pursue the vibes of their Trilogy Tapes 12” into ever more lysergic instrumental narratives.
Over two wandering sides they let the synths do all the talking, which comes out in voices ranging from slow and viscous to babbling rants, almost like a Dadaist radio play or location recordings from another dimension.
The effect of Tropa Macaca’s music recall a heat-warped adjunct to Jan Anderzen’s Tomutonttu or a smudged echo of Èlg’s avant garde enigmas, leading listeners down a mazy garden path that seems to grow in behind you until you’re meshed into the sound. We’d imagine this effect will only be heightened with good drugs.
"The golden record was a gift from humanity to the cosmos. But it is also a gift to humanity. It’s a reminder of what we can achieve when we are at our best-and that our future really is up to all of us..."
"In 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each of these probes is a beautiful golden phonograph record containing a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it, perhaps billions of years from now. This enchanting artifact, known as the Voyager Golden Record, may be the last vestige of our civilization after we are gone forever. Curated by a visionary committee led by Carl Sagan, the golden record tells a story of our planet expressed in music, sounds, images, and science. Etched on the record’s gold-plated aluminum jacket is a diagram explaining where it came from and how to play it."
Still one of the best techno albums out of Berlin in this millennium so far, Shed’s seminal debut LP, Shedding The Past is finally and necessarily reissued on his own label, The Final Experiment - newly expanded to include all 12 tracks from the CD edition, and cut to heavier vinyl than the original 2008 pressing!
Thanks to the timeless cues and intent it was built on, Shedding The Past still sounds amazing today, working to an effortlessly adroit, light-footed and dynamic schematic that makes much of his subsequent work feel a bit clunky and overdone by comparison.
On release in 2008, it was a seriously big album for a techno world in flux between classic Detroit house, echoes of UK dubstep, broken beat and Braindance, and traces of tuffer Frankfurt sounds - all components of the Soloaction sound he’d developed for years prior.
Fair to say that Shed distilled those styles perfectly in his début album, as proved in its most impressive highlights such as the balletic gait of Another Wedged Chicken, the misty-eyed beauty of The Lower Upside Down and the breakbeat seduction of ITHAW, but most powerfully in its spine-freezing eternal anthem, Estrange.
Trust us: no techno collection is complete without a copy of this album.
Laurel Halo stakes an eagerly and widely awaited return with the beguiling 4.1 world techno dimensions of 'In Situ' for Honest Jon's after cutting her teeth with highly acclaimed albums and EPs for Hippos In Tanks (R.I.P.) and Hyperdub.
Arriving two years since the Ann Arbor-quartered musician began testing a new hardware set-up on 'Chance of Rain', Laurel has refined those slightly clunky experiments here with a fluidly dextrous approach to Afro-inspired, rhythmelodic drum programming taught by psychedelic jazz and cosmic electronica.
It's a mental playground of fantastic dancefloor geometries, blooming at every angle with refreshed ideas of alien scales and hieroglyphic drum patterns designed to be deciphered by bodies in motion and heads in flight.
With nods to Afrikan Sciences, Kerry Leimer and Actress, she commands her machines with a deceptively loose sense of control, encouraging them to chatter freely, coolly, resulting in the ingneous, midnight groove formations of 'Focus I' and the future primitive techno funk of 'Drift', beside the discombobulated topographies of 'Nah' and the footworking centrifuge, 'Leaves'.
Time will tell, but this may well be one of the 2015's most impressive, nuanced collections of new electronica. A massive recommendation!
Although often overshadowed by the more popular ‘Treasure’, 'Head Over Heels' is perhaps the most influential album in the Cocteau Twins catalogue and one that continues to confound 35 years later.
The band’s second album, it was recorded in 1983 mostly as a duo of Fraser and Guthrie, and was the first album to make a real feature of Liz Fraser’s made up, oddly intoned vocabulary. More hard-edged and loud than Treasure, Head Over Heels is also a marvel of production - the way the guitars stay submerged in the mix while the drums pound, those sudden key changes, small flourishes etched into eternity.
Coming not long after original bassist Will Heggie had departed the band, the chemistry between Fraser and Guthrie moved the band on from the starkness of their debut; they were now making the music that would help them define the decade ahead; her wordless, dreamlike vocals a powerful instrument over his lush, textured guitars.
They just don’t make them like this any more (although Demen tried).
Finders Keepers come up roses again with dazzling, never-before-heard live documentation of two Buchla 200 concerts recorded in 1975 by Suzanne Ciani. Rightly heralded as “a distinctive feminine alternative to The Silver Apples of the Moon”. The words “Holy Grail” and “revolutionary” spring to mind! Remarkable stuff for any synth fetishists or historians of the future.
“This spring Finders Keepers Records are proud to release an archival project that not only redefines musical history but boasts genuine claim to the overused buzzwords such as pioneering, maverick, experimental, groundbreaking and esoteric, while questioning social politics and the evolution of music technology as we’ve come to understand it. To describe this records as a game-changer is an understatement. This record represents a musical revolution, a scientific benchmark and a trophy in the cabinet of counter culture creativity.
This record is a triumphant yardstick in the synthesiser space race and the untold story of the first woman on the proverbial moon. While pondering the early accolades of this record it’s daunting to learn that this record was in fact not a record at all… It was a manifesto and a gateway to a new world, that somehow never quite opened. If the unfamiliar, modernistic, melodic, pulses, tones and harmonics found on this 1975 live presentation/grant application/educational demonstration had been placed in a phonographic context alongside the promoted work of Morton Subotnick, Walter Carlos or Tomita then the name Suzanne Ciani and her influence would have already radically changed the shape, sound and gender of our record collections. Hopefully there is still chance.”
Completing the lovely song cycle of Tenniscoats’ ‘Music Exists’, Volume 4 wraps up with gorgeous vocal harmonies, sun-kissed strums and the kind of fragile pop delicacy that’s won over hearts and ears around the world...
"Alien Transistor and Tokyo-based label Afterhours release the vinyl-version of Volume 4 of tenniscoats' masterpiece "music exists" and therefore eventually accomplish this magic quadruple release by the Japanese experimental folk luminaries.
"Tenniscoats have devoted followers all over the world, but their releases were always hard to find outside of Japan. Except for their album "Tokinouta", which saw a very limited run on vinyl, and the seminal "Two Sunsets", their collaboration with The Pastels (and a small handfull of 7"s), there were never any vinyl-releases, and also the CDs were hard to get for any-one, who doesn't speak or read Japanese.
So, this is the chance to dive deep into the beautiful, unique world of the tenniscoats and their opus magnum "music exists"."
Further to Peggy’s Once 12”, and ahead of her début album, Phonica White turn out an effortlessly swinging house play Travelling Without Arriving
It's nacked with a fruitier and thicker layered Nite Stealth Ninja Mix by Brooklyn’s Ge-Ology, who’s previously released jazzy goods on Sound Signature and Dekmantel.
Numerous publications have since declared it one of the best albums of the 90s, with Pitchfork calling it “a core of ungodly gorgeous songs that is every bit as moving and relevant today as it ever was.”
Label founder Ivo Watts-Russell goes further, candidly revealing in the recent 4AD biography ‘Facing The Other Way’ that this album wasn’t just his favourite Cocteaus album but also his favourite all-time 4AD album and, “by a long shot,” calling it “the perfect record.” With tracks as majestic as the title track, ‘Cherry-Coloured Funk’ and ‘Iceblink Luck’, who’s to argue?
After a searing run of releases and remixes, Ancient Methods makes the natural move to working with vocalists in The Asking Breath Comes To Each, teaming up with Tropic Of Cancer, Huren, Zanias, and Azar Swan for a distinctive new addition to AM’s carefully expanding catalogue.
The sole preserve of Michael Wollenhaupt for some years now, in the last few years Ancient Methods has carved towards working vocals to deadly effect on a number of remixes for everyone from The Soft Moon to Wolfsheim, beside his own edits as Room 506.
All this has clearly fed into the stonking original material found on The Asking Breath Comes To Each, which royally boots off with the harpy screech of Azar Swan over the scorched earth gallop of Swallow The Screw, before trimming back to the acidic darkroom canter of The Standards Will Come And Go feat. a possessed Dave Foster aka Huron - arguably summat of a wet dream for anyone who needs talc to help get their duds on.
Tropic Of cancer executes a perfect, pensive and floating counterpoint to the razor sharpened 16th note serrations of It Won’t Take Me on the B-side, and we’re feeling pangs of guilty glee towards the borderline cheesy/lush epicness of Zoe Zanias’ vocal on the restrained pulse of Andromeda.
Lars T C F Holdhus follows one of the very best releases of the new millenium so far, the 'Untitled' tape for YYAA, with another cryptic future-shock, his 1st for Liberation Technologies.
Continuing a trajectory away from the calculated dance mash-ups of his now-defunct Cracksmurf alias, this project and mini-album is based on a whole other algorithmic strategy, rendering densely coded formulae into utterly mind-boggling and synaesthetically affective compositions. Once you've heard his music and done a little research into his academic background and visual practice - he studied at Frankfurt's famed Städelschule; is fascinated by data encryption; loves a good brew - it almost becomes really hard not to hear T C F's music as immensely complex, fluctuating plumes of code billowing and refracting across infinite virtual landscapes.
It's fxxking staggering stuff, soaring between hardstyle peaks and the kind of ultra-lucid FX you'd expect to hear while watching Transformers at the iMax, traversing wide-open, lysergic ambient space and majestic neo-classical (more Matrix than Max Richter, tho) gestures with an incisive balance of wry humour and emotional pathos that's all too rare, nay absent, from much stuff nowadays. Ultimately, words fall well short of adequately describing this stuff; it simply needs to be experienced, fully immersed, piloerect, pupils dilated. It's one of 2014's most crucial pieces of new music, no doubt.
Following a trio of acclaimed, genre-confounding 12" drops - for his own Diagonal imprint and most recently The Death of Rave - London's Powell reports for duty at Mute's dance R&D department, Liberation Technologies.
'Fizz' picks up where the mighty 'A Band' left off, being an anachronistic party-starter that splits the difference between rockabilly shuffle and gear-grinding industrial stomp, spiced with aromatic no wave samples and squirts of acrid electronic noise - techno for teddy boys. 'Wharton Tiers On Drums' revives the jerry-built, tunnelistic groove of early Powell ace 'The Ongoing Significance Of Steel & Flesh', but jerks the toms harder, adding sampled shout-outs to the eponymous sticksman and inviting you to contort yourself on the dancefloor.
'Beat' is a return to the sparsest rhythm science, simultaneously invoking the loping hypno-rock of Can, the popper-crazed brawn of Nitzer Ebb and the sparse techstep rollage of Nico and Ed Rush circa Torque.
The overdue and overproof sophomore Young Echo album is finally upon us, dispensing an epic 24 tracks of subby, red-eyed and distinctively Bristolian vibes set to dank-out smoky dwellings everywhere. Arriving five years after Nexus, their eponymous second album features cuts from each of the 11-strong mob, framing a fractious mosaic of style and pattern rooted in dub and the dancehall, but unafraid to fxck with noise, techno, ambient pop and grime in their own way.
It’s a proper group effort, playing to their strengths in diversity and unity in the best way by keeping individual track credits close to their chest, only allowing the album to be taken as a whole. Yeh, of course everyone’s going to have personal favourites, but they’re only facets of a much bigger body, and it’s to their credit that the whole thing feels coherent, a shared experience, and doesn’t simply sound like a compilation of music by like minds.
Young Echo have always been a bit of sore-thumb in the scene - are they a band? A label? A soundsystem in the mould of The Wild Bunch? The one takeaway from all their material is a sense of shared purpose and democracy - not in the usual, arrogant indie band style, or in-your-face political militancy - pivoting around mutual ideas of economy of expression and a sensitivity to space, rhythm and tone that effectively all pulls back to dub, no matter their individual heritage.
Young Echo is an organic complex where light hardly penetrates its papyrus-like walls, and much of the most crucial communication is made via infrasonics and atonality, relaying messages and emotions both as metaphorical/physical vibes and quite literally thru a morphing voice, which might be gruff poetic realism of Rider Shafioque one minute, the crisply enunciated diction of Jabu or Chester Giles the next, while a number of ghostly, sampled characters also haunt its corridor, perfusing half-heard messages thru their smoky matrix.
It adds up to an album symptomatic of the times in which it was made, yet does so timelessly, bridging the original, super plush studio trip hop creation of their geographic forebears, Massive Attack or Portishead, with a more road-level appreciation of economy and soul which might be best recognised by members of their generation, but should also be felt by any open-minded and empathetic souls the world over.
It’s definitely not another fxcking coffee table record, we’ll give you that for free.
Debut vinyl EP by Tokyo-based algorave pioneer, Renick Bell, for Lee Gamble's UIQ, Recommended if you're into Autechre, Brood Ma, Richard Devine, Phoenecia etc!
The angular, abstract funk of Renick Bell’s Empty Lake EP for Lee Gamble’s UIQ is perhaps exactly what you might expect from a pioneer of algoraves - a forward-looking union of live coding and rave music that’s currently taking computer boffins out of the studio/bedroom and placing them in real, physical spaces to hear what happens.
To date, beyond the live algoraves, Bell’s music has mostly been contained in his chaotic Fractal Beats series on soundcloud and thoroughly unpackaged in academic papers on live coding and pragmatic aesthetic theory. With the Empty Lake EP he offers a refinement of the ideas in Fractal Beats, skilfully teasing out a tangle of post techno pulses, shards of catty ballroom house, hardcore kuduro and filigree footwork patterns twisted into shimmering, convulsive contours and unstable, scattered melodies.
In an obvious sense, his sound is heavily compatible with the recent Lanark Artefax 12” on UIQ and certainly finds sympathies with Lee Gamble’s most obtuse aspects, but it also feels more feral, overgrown that either of those artists’ work in a way that relishes his software’s capacity for creating wild new junctures of sound that effectively re-program his and our brains in real time while we’re listening.
From the elasticated, recoiling swang of Trying To Control The Four Winds to the Patten-like melt of The Well and the fluctuating states of Surface Waters Flow Together, there’s a level of detail to these tracks which will become apparent on first listen, and which will continue to baffle your sense of proprioception, meter and tone for long after the moment.
Mute's Liberation Technologies make it funky with Mark Fell's infectious 'n-Dimensional Analysis 1-14', following editions from Powell, British Murder Boys and Bandshell.
As with nearly all Fell's work, there's an instinctive hyper-funkiness to all 14 sections split over both sides, working a flex somewhere between his dancefloor-compromised Sensate Focus features and the more visceral experiments under his own name.
It's music for a 'floor where we can all dance like Storyboard P (or at least in our own heads), unravelling the knottiest syncopation between slicing claps, sprays of hi-hat and jabbing digital bass around mercurial chords which open out, contort and tesselate in mid-air. Their effect is deliciously gratifying for anyone with an ounce of bounce in their bones; a lushly prickly set of body coordinates ready to work your brain and booty to a precisely digitised lather.
Vessel finally presents a follow-up to his unanimously acclaimed debut solo and Young Echo collective albums.
It's a hard step to the right for Liberation Technologies after avant-funk excursions with Powell and Mark Fell, steering into a more primal yet texturally satisfying sound that breaks down the wrought complexities of 'Order Of Noise' and reassembles them in three crooked, mutant constructions. Up top the title track comes off like a calcified, prototypical grime riddim written by Æ in the mid '90s; soaring Detroit synth harmonies evolve from a brittle-boned flux of delayed kicks and industrial ticks synched to swing.
Flipside, 'VMI' comes off like Jameszoo gone feral on an chemical industrial plant, meshing lysergic melodies and mutant, off-kilter groove in disused storage chamber reverbs, and 'Not For Design' marks itself out as the big club groove with throbbing, primal bass hook and infected computer melodies all scratched and sandpapered to rub 'em up the wrongest way.
Jungle specialist DJ Persuasion drops pure knowledge on Dedicated To The Dedicated 94-95 for Bristol’s Tape-Echo posse following cult instalments of 93-94 hardcore for Berceuse Heroique podcast and the Seraphics 92-93 selection for Blackest Ever Black’s ID Mud series.
Basically this is peerless, untouchable stuff, packed with obscure nuggets and tunes that will have you clawing for IDs that you’ll maybe find, one day, if you’re fuckin’ lucky.
Buy on sight!
A totally enchanting performance by the esteemed acoustic finger-picker and singer, recorded in the 18th century Palazzo Gaddi, central northern Italy, and now made available on any format for the first time. Also, that sleeve....!
“Mario Calvitti's rememberance of the Forlì Concert: The year before (1981) I had met Maurizio Angeletti, an Italian acoustic fingerstyle guitar player, when he was on tour in Italy with John Fahey. We exchanged contacts, and one year later he called me saying that he was managing an Italian tour with Robbie, asking whether I could find a booking in my area.
A friend of mine named Giovanni Picone was involved in a municipality activity about music, so through him I managed to get things organized, including some funding from the municipality. The name of my hometown is Forli', in the north-centre part of Italy (south of Bologna, north of Rimini, two towns that are better known). I was 25 at that time, and a few months later I would move to Rome to start working. The date of the concert was October 11, after they played in Brescia (which is up north) on the 10th and traveling with Maurizio's car all the way south to Rome where they played the Folkstudio on the 12-13. The setlist was much similar to others from the same period, adding versions of 'California Raga' and 'Song of the Stallion'. The concert was held in Sala Gaddi, a room of an 18th century building (Palazzo Gaddi) that was home to the local music high school until 1989 and was used for mostly classical concerts. Nowadays the building is home to a couple of historical museums. Robbie liked the place, I remember him saying once between songs "this is one lovely little room where I could play all night."
Maurizio Angeletti opened the concert with a selection of his own pieces, Takoma style, mainly on 12 string guitar. He had two albums out on small italian indie labels, and a third one would have followed shortly. Sadly, none of them have been digitally reissued, but the original vinyl can be found from some online vendor. Two or three years later he would quit music completely, to move abroad and become a professional kite-maker. That night he played with a sore finger, swollen and aching, and in between pieces he talked about his recent passion forkites, still not imagining that it would become such a big part in his forthcoming life.
After Maurizio, Robbie played his set. The music was wonderful, hearing him play live such masterpieces as 'Grail and the Lotus' and Cathedrals et Fleur de Lis' was one of the best experiences I had in my life. He introduced the pieces speaking some Italian. My friend Giovanni taped both performances, and later made me a copy. he can also be heard tinkling the small bell at the end of 'Grail & the Lotus', at Robbie's request. I was particularly surprised by the attendance: I didn't expect many people to show up (he was quite unknown at that time, and very little advertisement had been done, mainly distributing leaflets). Still, at the end of the evening 110 tickets had been sold. Not bad for a small town of about 100,000 inhabitants: I've heard that the following nights in Rome at the Folkstudio (that was a famous concert venue, though small) the audience was no more than 70 people. Also, in Forli' the audience was very attentive and responsive, just like in a classical concert, and I think Robbie also liked to be considered as a classical performer (just my guess).
He wore the same shirt that is in the cover picture of 'Art Of The Acoustic Steel String Guitar 6 & 12'...he had some of his LPs for sale (I bought my copy of 'Rainbow Thunder' on that occasion). My biggest regret, I was so overwhelmed by emotion that I couldn't talk to him at all...I just had it sign my copy of the book "American Guitarists" by Maurizio Angeletti, on the first page of his chapter, with his name preceded by the word "Saluti" (Greetings in Italian).”
First Take That, then the Spice Girls; now Regis and Surgeon's British Murder Boys are the latest iconic English group to reform.
Following a successful live reunion at the maiden Blackest Ever Black night in October 2011, Birmingham's infamous sons have re-entered the studio together, resulting in 'Where Pail Limbs Lie' for Mute's Liberation Technologies. They've practically picked up where they left in 2006, dealing in first class darkside techno. 'Dead Sun' works out their demons on a coercive, roiling rhythm - equal parts Surgeon shunt and the sort of body-gratifying rollige of Regis' Cub or upcoming Ugandan Methods material - mixed with howling synths and garotting strings leading to a superb outro.
'Another Country' is more reserved, introspective, built around hydraulic dub bass and steppin' drums with fibrillating synthlines and icy metallic drones for hypnotic effect. A welcome return.
Laurel Halo returns to album format after two critically acclaimed EPs with the driving, meditative 'Chance Of Rain'. Evolving from earlier works, it's a cerebral exploration of the intersection between rhythmic and ambient music, drawing together moments of movement and stillness, psychedelia and presence of mind.
On 'Chance Of Rain', rhythms melt with unpredictable structures, ambient drift and deep harmonic passages, while keyboard-based interludes reinforce both the far-out and contemplative aspects of the record as a whole. Halo's evolution as a live performer has directed her music's development in part, as the tracks on ‘Chance Of Rain’ are fleshed out versions of live hardware improvisations. This LP is far off from the definition of a traditional dance long player; where tracks like ‘Serendip’, ‘Chance Of Rain’ and ‘Ainnome’ invite with infectious grooves, others like ‘Oneiroi’, ‘Still/Dromos’ and ‘Thrax’ invert these energies, revealing sinister potential in the process. Again Halo's knack for illusory detail and sound design shines, and another duality feeling emerges, this time one of unearthly joy. Drawing inspiration from the music of her home state's music capital Detroit, in both harmonic and rhythmic palettes, the music showcases freedom within metric constructs, and skyward optimism in the face of decay. The album comes packaged with artwork created by her father, an NYC-born, Michigan-based visual artist whose work focuses on industrial landscapes of Michigan and the Rust Belt at large. The artwork here is an early work of his from the 1970s, reflecting the album's twisted, hopeful tone."
T++ presents his much anticipated doublepack for Honest Jons, his final release under the T++ moniker.
For this project Torsten Pröfrock was given access to the label's vaults, selecting a handful of samples from two recordings of the singer and ndingidi-player Ssekinomu, made in East Africa at the end of the 1930s and in the mid-1940s. He deftly weaves snippets of these recordings into his matrix of rhythms, adding a human (albeit acousmatically warped) element to his music that we've never heard before. In a certain sense, it follows a very long tradition of German electronic auteurs looking to Africa for inspiration, from Karlheinz Stockhausen, to Can, to his peers Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, seeking to connect his consciously futurist ambitions with something more primal and innate.
The result is a crop of tracks that take the lurching urge of 2-step, techno, dubstep and D'n'B and re-sculpts it into twisting new forms, mutating bare bones kick/snare syncopations into a coded double helix, around which connective tissues of adroit FX and sub-bass coalesce.
Physical Therapy freaks the beat for Liberation Technologies, adding to a litany of oddly balanced and rudely effective outings for Hippos In Tanks, UTTU, and his own label, Allergy Season.
Aided in-the-mix by Max McFerren, The Earth Splashed finds the Brooklyn resident at his most rabidly funked-up and psychedelic in six bad-handed cuts that gnash for the 'floor.
Hit The Breaks (Main Mix) straddles B-More and UK-style rufige with a restless, ruffneck energy that defines the EP from the warehouse warp of Mahnbescheid and the OG 'ardcore techno skank of Tell Me (Hardcore Mix) on the A-side, thru to the dry drum crack and lysergic curry splash of Clean Slate and a killer flip of the drums from Dilla's Nothing Like This in Pointalism.
The long awaited Remix album, featuring reworks from Andy Stott, Oneohtrix Point Never, Electric Youth, Alva Noto, Arca, Motion Graphics, Fennesz, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Yves Tumor, S U R V I V E and Cornelius...
We shouldn’t have to be writing this, but naturally the Jóhann Jóhannsson remix of Solari takes on a much darker shade of blue in light of his recent, untimely passing, yet it equally stands out as the LP’s most uncannily suggestive highlight. R.I.P..
Elsewhere, Yves Tumor can be trusted to handle Zure with a sensitively suspenseful sort of R&B/quasi-ambient breakbeat flip, while Andy Stott feathers Life, Life into an elegiac airborne waltz, Alva Noto catches Disintegration in a sublime, quiescent state, and Arca lends his own, original, tortured torch song vocal and windswept beat to a rework of Async with utterly heart-breaking impact. Yelp, this one really gets us.
The widely-adored post-Stereolab unit of Tim Gane, Joe Dilworth and their pal Holger Zapf take their krautrock/psych buggy for another long player jag
Following from recent reissue of their debut LP Blood Drums and a new album, Void Beats/Invocation Trex, both released in 2016, on Hormone Lemonade they refuel the tank with gallons of liquid LSD and, presumably decked in best rollnecks and comfy cords for a highly stylised and charmingly archaic trip back to ‘70s psych vibes.
Dizzyingly strong DJ Marfox gear marking a stellar return to Príncipe; the label he kicked off with his debut release, the Eu Sei Quem Sou EP back in 2011.
As the New Lisbon scene’s godfather, Marfox is responsible for inspiring and rallying a wave of thrilling, yung new producers from the city to grow their roots into a proudly unique dance sound that’s subsequently become coveted by DJs, dancers and labels far from their sunny ghetto.
In the best sense, we get the feeling that Príncipe have been biding their time for a new DJ Marfox release, and that foresight pays off dividends with the colourful, head-rush styles of Chapa Quente, which are given perfect context in the wake of amazing 12”s by Nidia Minaj, Normal Nada, and DJ Nigga Fox, et al.
From the ratchet flutes and spring-loaded battery of 2685 to the industrialised croak and galvanised percussion of Unsound - so titled after formative experience at the Polish festival - he allows a lush moment of romance with the slow and sweet Tarraxo Everyday but the energy levels are peaked again with the wavy Kassumbula and the tendon-sparking Cobra Preta, whilst the trickling marimba melody of B 18 pulls up his central and west African heritage and and a melting pot of syncretic influence soaked up from his origins in the now-demolished Quinta da Vitória shantytown.
One of the last, genuinely great, unsung artists of 20th century composition, Roland Kayn (1933 - 2011) - a sometime member of Gruppo Di Improvvazione Nuova Consonanza and the pioneer of what he termed Cybernetic Music - made some of the most breathtaking, intrepidly advanced electronic music ever recorded. The 14 hour expanse of A Little Electronic Milky Way is Kayn’s late major opus and forms a stargate-like introduction to his modular macrocosm, a place where many ideas of C.20th composition, from serialism to jazz and artificial intelligence, collapse into bewildering harmonic, metric and timbral structures practically unprecedented within his field. And mark our words, that’s not hyperbole: this is proper Enter The Void music.
A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound is Kayn’s first, posthumous release since Multiplex Sound-Art  and forms a staggering summation of his concept and aesthetic, which was first hatched when a series of 1950s broadcasts from WDR in Cologne named The Sound of Electronic Music prompted the then 20 year old artist to think that “a composer, like a painter, could realise his work without the help of other people. That he can handle the material directly and creatively edit it”.
He subsequently completed his studies as an organist (later applied to his work beside Egisto Macchi and Ennio Morricone in Gruppo Di Improvvazione Nuova Consonanza) and farther developed his concept of electronic music under the tutelage of Boris Blacher, Josef Rufer, Fritz Winkel and Oskar Sala (seminal composer of FX for classic Hitchcock flicks) in Berlin, grounding a sound which would come to pre-echo mankind’s push toward a form of AI, and serve to touch the very limits of human-machine imagination and perception.
A few years ago we were left reeling from a chance encounter with Kayn’s work, ironically enough offered up by YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, which pretty much turned our listening lives upside-down and inside-out. A keen investigation of Kayn’s composition ensued, which only confirmed our initial thoughts: this guy is light years out on his path; and how on earth is his music not better known?! We clearly weren’t the only ones to think so, and, now following their re-mantling of downtown legend, Julius Eastman, Frozen Reeds have grasped that task with both hands on this mind-expanding new release.
A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound effectively charts all aspects of Kayn’s unfathomable, algorithmically weft sound c. the era of his early boxsets Simultan, Makro, Infra and Tektra - from pineal-smudges and clouds of harmonic colour to fractured staccato pulses and keening, outer space dynamics usually only witnessed by Gods or astronauts. Mercurial by definition, elusive in nature, but gargantuan in scope and scale, it sounds as much like the inexplicable abstraction of a half-recalled, formative fever dream as your first K-Hole experience or some transmission from another galaxy, most effectively representing or emulating a sound which exists in our shared cultural imagination, but which has never before been generated, realised quite so vividly, and yet intangibly.
The implications of this sound are multitudinous. On the most fundamental level, he comes as close or closer, and earlier than any other composer to letting his machines speak their own language - and effectively years before Autechre, Keith Fullerton Whitman, the CCRU or Eno probed this same area. On another, connected level, his realisation of atemporal, atonal depth of field and mutably dissolved metrics can be said to consolidate myriad musical forms in a way that’s hardly been bettered (perhaps because so few knew of his examples), hinting at an atomic universality of all things that perhaps even transcends consciousness and gives a fascinating shape and formlessness to some of the C.20th’s most important ideas about AI and that old chestnut; where to next?
The fact that Roland Kayn did all this before most of us were even born, and he and his work still remains sorely unsung, is as humbling as it is frustrating. Kayn’s recordings described the future in prophetic terms and pretty much reset the last quarter of the C.20th in our books, making much extreme electronic music recorded during the interim seem pedestrian by comparison, and likewise makes a lot of deep space ambient seem like a kid’s picture book compared to his Hubble-scoped deep field projections.
Even more so now, in the age of everything at a touch and reams of modular explorers, Kayn’s music formidably generates a genuine, synaesthetically enhanced feeling of the unknown that’s sadly all too rare in modern electronic music, despite being the thing that probably attracted many of us to its putative charms in the first place.
We recommend serious time away from the laptop/desktop and getting right inside Kayn’s matrix, if only at the risk of coming out looking like Niander Wallace days later.
Fast becoming one of the most crucial archival imprints around, Pete Swanson and Jed Bindeman's Freedom To Spend takes us down another largely unfamiliar musical wormhole with this first time reissue of a beautifully rich take on American Minimalism from Valencian artist, Pep Llopis, originally released in 1987.
And it’s definitely a curio, somehow filling a mental gap in our minds between Les Disques Du Crépuscule’s obsession with Wim Mertens’ overt romanticism and the American minimalism of Reich, Glass and La Monte Young or their modern counterparts Maxwell Sterling, or even 0PN. The result is a sound that’s really quite hard to place; orchestral, brimming with ideas, narrated with a kind of detached sound poetry that has no obvious reference points.
As the label explains, “This record is meant to be enjoyed like a seascape. It offers a Mediterranean journey, one that Ulysses, Aeneas, and Jason with his Argonauts charted first and Pep Llopis, retraced and retread — from the islands of Menorca to Santorini. All of his experiences are aboard this vessel of sound: no format in mind, no course but the chasm within self. The music gently laps against listening skin— sometimes placid, sometimes shimmering. Ripples of sound swell and quicken. Flutes like schools of fish. The spray of chimes. Taught strings break like the shore. Tingling, undulating synths. The record cover acts as a map, tracing the forms of the original art and providing the poems in Catalan and Spanish.”
It reminds us of Mamangakis’ sprawling soundtrack to the first two series of Edgar Reitz’s Heimat, effortlessly spinning delicate Minimalism and Sound Art through a kind of unapologetic inclusiveness. It’s also very much a release borne from a belief that avant-garde composition doesn't have to be elitist in form, resulting in an album of memorable and moving sound worlds unlike much that we’ve heard before.
Perhaps most importantly, though, it establishes Freedom To Spend as one of those rare labels that you should allow yourself to be blindly guided by. Wherever Swanson and Bindeman choose to take us next, we’re there.
The World of Harry Partch is a seminal survey of the arch iconoclast’s efforts in consolidating the myriad voices which made up American 20th century music.
Collecting three of his famous shorter works, Daphne of The Dunes, Barstow, and Castor & Pollux, this LP is a perfect portal to Partch’s peculiar and radical fusions of Orientalist themes with African percussions and Hobo language. Most importantly it omits reference to the traditions of Western, European music which he believed constricted perceptions and definitions of a “true” American music.
It’s best described in his own terms, as ‘ritual’ or ‘corporeal’ music, which both refers directly to the original intentions of the music he drew from, and to its physical nature, which eschewed electronics in favour of his self-built instruments and their tactile capacity for unique tunings. Of course, you can listen to these recordings without any prior knowledge of their provenance and totally enjoy them for their alien familiarity, but when taken in context of Partch’s philosophy, they really take on a whole life of their own. Dive in!
“'Daphne of the Dunes' (1967) is a side-long update of 'Windsong' written for dance. The melodic segments are given more emphasis than usual for a Partch piece, and harmonically this is one of his best with arpeggiated glides/cries of the Harmonic Canons evoking our sympathies. Meter changes almost measure by measure, with one section in 31/16 meter; another (polymetric) section consists of 4/4-7/4 over 4/8-7/8! Needless to say, while being very physical, Partch's music isn't something you can easily tap your foot to. What's most important is that it works. Partch was not one to introduce musical complexity merely for its own sake, another factor that separated him from his contemporaries. Not only are the rhythms complex, but they are performed at a frantic pace unequaled by any music I've hard (save perhaps the inhumanly fast player piano pieces of Conlon Nancarrow!).
This is characteristic of most of Partch's works, though I think 'Daphne' is one of the most successful and exhilarating. 'Barstow -- Eight Hitchhiker Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California' was composed in 1941 as part of 'The Wayward.' It offers such statements as 'Go to 538 East Lemon Avenue for an easy handout' and 'Looking for millionaire wife...' This charismatic piece is successful due to the contrasting of Partch's intoning voice with others in the ensemble and to increased instrumental emphasis. Last is 'Castor and Pollux' in a more modern performance than From the Music of Harry Partch, with greater vigor and fidelity. The World of Harry Partch is an excellent introduction to his works that comes highly recommended." -- Surface Noise
Ben Frost convulses a new EP of original solo material recorded with Steve Albini. Vast systems - unstable, overloaded, and on the verge of collapse were fed into an array of amplifiers inside a cavernous studio. Behind the glass, Albini committed this to tape, slashing at it intermittently with a razorblade and more than two hours of music was recorded. The Threshold Of Faith EP is the first release of music from those sessions.
Frost fully bares his teeth on five tracks inside, entering with the electrical storm and depth charge detonations of the title track, and hunting down an apocalyptic muse throughout the rest of the EP, from the nerve-gnawing string convolutions of Eurydice’s Heel (Hades) to the chromatic chamber vision of Threshold Of Faith (Your Own Blood), and with shuddering, tempestuous torque in The Beat That Don’t Die In Bingo Town. The finale climax, Mere Anarchy errs a bit to heavy into his cheesy side for us, though.
Integral to the ruptured flow of the album, All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated (Albini Swing Version) catches a quietly dynamic moment from the master engineer, rendering a hyaline cloud of intensely bright and sparse tones that could shatter at any moment, whilst Janus member and Björk remixer Lotic sends the same elements flying in corkscrewing militant drum rolls that sound like Chino Amobi’s wildest dreams.
Brandon Hocura’s Séance Centre pull out Sam McLellan’s sublime 1982 new age opus Music Of The Five Elements for this invaluable first vinyl reissue. Devised as ‘healing music’ designed to “balance the energy levels of the body”, this, the first of three sought-after volumes, borrows from the ancient Chinese philosophy of medicine now used in acupuncture, to riff pentatonic on guitar, synth, piano and ciao (Chinese flute) in a seamless, rolling suite best consumed in one go for best effect. The A-side is focussed on the cyclical guitar strums, while a much stronger 2nd side focusses deeper on the synth, keys and vocal treatments.
“Acupressurist and electronic composer Sam McClellan's Music of the Five Elements is a work of perfectly tuned healing music. A deeply felt distillation Minimalism (in the Tony Conrad / La Monte Young school), American Primitive guitar (Fahey & Basho) and even psychedelia. The album is a continuous sound voyage for voice, synthesizer, guitar, bowed bass, piano, effects and ciao (Chinese flute) all played by McClellan himself. Although divided into sections, the journey is best undertaken as a whole, without distraction. As McClellan himself wrote on the original liner notes:
"The optimum effect of Music of the Five Elements will be achieved if each side of this recording is played through, from beginning to end without interruption. Music of the Five Elements, when used as a meditational or body work tool, rather than entertainment, will increase in effect over time. Overplaying or improper use, however, may eventually diminish its designed effect.”
Devotional Songs marks a necessary and refreshing change of direction by Shackleton; collaborating with London-based Italian castrato-style singer Ernesto Tomasini to sound like some lost Coil recordings.
The whirligig drawbar organs of Shackleton’s releases since 2012 are still in effect, but tempered in balance with Tomasini’s remarkable vocal range and some really lush, almost Detroit-style synth harmonies and ritual atmospheres whilst his signature palette of bass and drums hints at some Far and South East Asian influence in the vein of Sleazy’s Threshold HouseBoys Choir recordings.
It’s a beautifully self-contained project covering a broad range of esoteric topography from the detoxing vibrations of Rinse out All Contaminants to the sweepingly epic resolution of Father, Yiou Have Left Me, whilst unmistakably referencing some of Coil or Current 93’s most haunting moments in the chiming harmonic haze, swelling chorales and operatic drama of You Are The One, and the spirit-rousing string arrangements in Twelve Shared Addictions.
Hundebiss bossman Simone Trabucchi - a pivotal figure of the Italian scene - debuts his STILL alias on PAN with a batch of banging, multi-layered dancehall tracks inspired by the complex historical links between his hometown, Vernasca, with Jamaica, and Italy’s colonial past in Ethiopia.
Part of a wider visual arts project, Invernomuto, helmed alongside Simone Bertuzzi, and comprising a series of sculptures, installations, a book, and a long-feature experimental documentary under the title ‘Negus’‘, Simone takes cues from a “cleansing counter-ritual performed by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry in the Vernasca square where 80 years earlier, an effigy of Haile Selassie I was burned” to cook up a madd set of dancehall tracks voiced by six Milan-based, African-Italian vocalists and singers.
The results weigh in remarkably close to the colourful, plugged-in dancehall art/science of Equiknoxx, effectively pulling together the diffracted aspects of his project into a direct yet psychedelically-charged set which strongly reverberates with its roots.
Keener observers will be quick to identity the amazing Nazenet (Wasp Rhythm) as a vocal version of STILL’s uncredited Untitled riddim from Halcyon veil’s Conspiración Progresso compilation, but unless you’ve been listening to Bill Kouligas DJ sets, the rest is all new and exclusive, taking in the weightless prayer of Haile Selassie Is The Micro-Chip, wobbly acid hall knocks in Bubbling Ambessa, and the meter-messing flux of Rough Rider along with style recalling that Vipra ace on Presto!? in Banzina, plus the warped Bionic Ras bumps of Gozpaal and some seriously salty dubbing in the plasmic squeeze of Mangrovia
Coil’s unearthly garden continues to bloom posthumously with the Astral Disaster Sessions - including a whole bunch of previously unreleased and rare cuts from the Un/finished Musics recordings finally seeing the light of day, transferred from analogue tapes onto Gary Ramon’s Prescription label a year after the remastered original sessions crept out on vinyl reissue.
Notoriously recorded in the former debtors prison-turned-Iron Maiden studio beneath the River Thames, on Samhain, 1998, the Astral Disaster Sessions - Un/finished musics serves a haul of previously unreleased or hard-to-find versions of tracks from the original Astral Disaster [1999/2016] LPs, which are widely regarded a seminal highlight of Peter Christopherson, Johnn Balance, Drew McDowell, Thighpaulsandra and Gary Ramon’s time together as Coil.
On the A-side you’ll now find swirling raga-noise meditation The Sea Priestess (Early Mix) next to a sublime, previously omitted Part 2 tract of The Mothership and the Fatherland, and a skinnier, plasmic Alternative mix of The Avatars, but we imagine the big attractions for Coil fiends will be the Instrumental mix of I Don’t Want To be the One, which was previously only found on a rare 1999 promo-only Prescription sampler, and most particularly the ghostly and invasively psychedelic 14 minutes of Cosmic Disaster, which was the original working title for Astral Disaster, and has never been released on any format.