Mark Fell and Will Guthrie join forces for the second time this year with ‘Diffractions’, the 2nd in a two part series released via the new NAKID label set up by Koshiro Hino of Goat / YPY fame. On 'Diffractions' the pair push ever deeper into percussive R&D informed/inspired by Gamelan and Carnatic musics - massively tipped if you’re into anything from Autechre’s Confield-era abstractions to Milford Graves’ fluid drumming or even the insular soundworld of The Necks.
Rhythm has always been central to Fell’s work, from his icy, repetitive minimalist excursions with SND to his legendary run of unashamedly funked abstract house experiments as Sensate Focus. Here, he continues to excavate that rich seam with an ongoing collaboration with Aussie percussionist Will Guthrie; “Diffractions” pushing both artists’ interests into sharper detail, toying with polyrhythms and unusual tuning to uncover a suite of transformative fidget spins and sonic storm clouds.
“Diffractions” features another two lengthy pieces of future-facing percussive abstractions that blur the line between synthetic and organic. Taking the influence of gamelan and fusing it with the heaving computer music that Fell has obsessively picked-at over the last four decades, the duo here zoom into a sound that’s almost effortlessly engaging; each piece is almost twenty minutes in length but they shift and mutate into polyrhythmic outer-realms and eerie universes of microtonality that are hard to fathom in one sitting.
There are trace echoes of free jazz hanging from the rafters, the post-everything clatter of Humcrush and Food drummer Thomas Strønen’s mind-expanding solo material or even Autechre at their most confounding. The genius here is that just when you convince yourself that this music could only possibly have been generated by a computer, Guthrie’s unmistakably human flex edges into focus - playing with your perception - your expectations - in the most bold, innovative way imaginable. Basically, this record fucking rules.
Astral Industries dilate their portal to reveal another gorgeous ambient vision from Rod Modell & Chris Troy’s long running Waveform Transmission project.
Extant since their 1996 CD, Waveform Transmission returned with a 2LP in 2017, and now allow further inspection of their alien ambient terraforming with the project’s immersive 3rd release.
For 70 minutes the duo synch minds as spirit guides for the lushest trip thru alien underwater zones, feeling out unfathomable gamelan reverberations and diaphanous synth pads with a real synasethetic colour-sound appeal for those susceptible to such sensations.
It’s patently some of Modell’s lushest, purest ambient work, with the romantic leanings of Chris Troy pulling the sound away from the dubbier obsessions of DeepChord.
The score for Only Lovers Left Alive - a collaboration between SQÜRL (Jim Jarmusch, Carter Logan and Shane Stoneback) and Dutch lutenist Jozef Van Wissem - serves as a reflection of the distinct textures of Detroit and Tangier, bridging ancient and modern sounds, entangled and timeless.
"Avant-Baroque lute weaves through twenty-first century guitar grit, heavy back beats, Moroccan percussion, synth bass, field recordings, and numerous sonic effects to create a cinematic tapestry.
Guest vocalist Madeline Follin (Cults) appears on SQÜRL’s syrup soaked re- interpretation of the Wanda Jackson hit “Funnel of Love”.
Zola Jesus’ commanding vocal soars through Van Wissem’s “In Templum Dei”. And Yasmine Hamdan’s intimate and evocative “Hal”, recorded on the set of the film and mixed by SQÜRL."
Micachu and the Shapes deliver a baker's dozen of pocket-sized pop rockets on their 3rd album for Rough Trade.
Originating in a surreptitiously recorded jam session at their East London studio, 'Good Bad Happy Sad' finds and occupies a very canny space betwixt fidelities, animating their raw, skeletal ideas - hatched sub-consciously and mid-jam - with subtle post-production and a strange, inseparable patina of field recordings, industrial electronics and additional instrumentation.
The music's at once upfront and direct, but sensitively gilded with detail that draws the ear beyond their effortless licks and winsome melodies. Like us, you're probably already familiar with the crack'd charms of single tracks such as 'Sea Air', the zippy clip of 'Sad' and the naval-gazing shuffle of 'Oh Baby', so we'll crack on to the other highlights, coming quick and good in the dreamy garage-pop monologue of 'Thinking It', or with salty electric likembe tones in the tone poem, 'Waiting', whilst 'Unity' forges a unique style of para-dimensional black metal, and the tender strums of 'Peach' emerge from glitching loops into a lo-fi form of exotica expression. In case you couldn't tell, we think it's a real bewt.
Wayne Powell Octet's only album "Plays Hallucination" on Mo-Jazz.
"Los Angeles, not unlike other great cities such as Detroit, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, has given birth to and nurtured many great musicians. One of those young, versatile musicians Los Angeles has produced was Wayne Powell. In High School he played percussion & tuba in the concert band, later he switched to baritone horn. Shortly after Wayne heard Lionel Hampton play vibraphone at the Paramount Theater in downtown Los Angeles, he purchased his own set of vibes. In 1965, Wayne decided to organize his own group which he called The Wayne Powell Octet. That same year he recorded his debut 33rpm record titled "Plays Hallucination".
"Plays Hallucination" is the one and only album by the Wayne Powell Octet. This is spiritual soul-jazz at its very best! A stunning treasure rarely to be found - unless it's on Mo-Jazz!"
NYC shapeshifter Hiro Kone is joined by Speaker Music (DeForrest Brown Jr), travis (ONO), and Muqata’a for a more fluid navigation of electronics, dark ambient sound design, and chamber classical.
Crafted during lockdown, ’Silvercoat The Throng’ is Hiro Kone’s most personalised set of recordings yet, written under the title’s poetic directive to create “possibility, rescued from darkness” and also “resist the urge to fill the space". The results oscillate through cinematic routines and into weightless sensations that largely eschew the chewy rhythms that have typified her previous records.
Without a club or gig space to attend to, Hiro Kone has travelled inward to discover and better articulate her own sound, with results cloyed with horror/thriller motifs. However, those looking for her whirring rhythmic mechanics will find them lurking toward the 2nd half of ‘Mundus patent’, and in the insectoid detailing of ‘Reciprocal capture’ featuring DeForrest Brown Jr’s Speaker Music, and abstracted like a Muslimgauze dub on the title track starring Muqata’a.
The guess-again label R=A pull out a mystic beauty by Mitar Subotic (Suba) aka Rex Ilusivii (King of Illusions) following unarchived issues of his exceptional work by Vladimir Ivkovic’s Offen Music and Gilb’R’s Versatile in recent years.
‘Fool For Love’ is a poetic 23 minute synthscape rescued from the mists of time (recording date is unknown, but likely mid/late ‘80s) to reveal the most expansive iteration of Subotic’s profound sound in current circulation. It’s an extremely hypnotic trip, of the sort where perceptions of time and space slip away and sound becomes atemporal, synaesthetic and hallucinogenic. It’s definitely best received with eyes shut, where the ostensibly monotone drones will reveal their surreal internal fluctuations and inceptive nature like a magic eye painting deciphered within a dream.
Fans of Eleh or 0PN will be in their element with this one.
Autechre, aye, casually flip SOPHIE’s ‘BIPP' heater into a sort of freestyle pop diamond to get 2021 off on the right foot. We’re massively feeling this...
Way back in 2013, the addictive electro-pop additives of ‘BIPP’ helped position SOPHIE among the decade’s thrilling new talents after introductions made on the ‘Nothing More To Say’ 12”. SOPHIE has since admitted to a formative love of Autechre in interviews, so a certain circle is closed with Æ’s mix of ‘Bipp’, 5 years in the works and emphasising the original’s latin freestyle pop essence with sizzling hi-hat trills and that ultra vocal hook, but here deployed slower and with a rugged assymetry - more goretex than latex? Quite honestly it’s the best thing we’ve heard from Autechre in ages - properly forward, blunted business with a squashed Gescom vibe that pushes a lot of our buttons all at once.
"In 2015 when potential remixes of BIPP were first floated the unequivocal response from SOPHIE was “No remixes..” a long pause followed “..unless it’s Autechre”. We asked, and five years later an email from Autechre arrived “sorry this is so late, hope it's still of some use”. An Autechre live show recording from a Numbers show in 2005 had first inspired SOPHIE to source the equipment used to craft new music including BIPP, LEMONADE & more. The BIPP Autechre mx is 3 minutes 33 seconds long, stripped back and loose. Sounding like Autechre paying tribute to some serious late 80’s influences. The duo's interpretation channels an imagined transition point between NY electro and UK street soul, that pitched down SOPHIE vocal reconfigured into a wanna-be Latin Freestyle Natasha King, jiving over a deep slice of TR-606 funk technology.”
Suso Saiz’ 7th album for MFM investigates a means of spiritual communication thru vibrational energies with quiet-to-voluminous, lushly resonant results sure to hit home with fans of Romance, Lawrence English, or Stephen Mathieu.
In search of a sound or music that imagines “an infinite orchestra of bodies multiplying their sound vibrations” Suso Saiz puts over 40 years of keen, prolific practice at the service of his most enigmatic, diaphanous and oneiric work. Two years in the making, the 18 songs tile to a swirling mosaic of fragmented thoughts linked by sublime pathos, with each cut never outstaying its welcome, and while keeping the tone gently shifting between gradated shades of elemental emotion.
The conceptual thrust of the album never overpowers the results, more simply providing a spirited ethos to proceedings that comes thru with a processor immersion and reflection. Billowing into view with the sustained organ chord cluster of ‘Inside the Egg’, Saiz’s arrangements hover at the liminal edge of composed music and ambient noise, effecting a heavy-smudged sensation with the likes of ‘Tardo De Agosto 2019’, and leaning deep in Lawrence English-like textural ambient noise depths on ‘Floating Into The Avalanche’, while ‘If I Close My Eyes’ taps into the most quintessential appeal of ambient music at its best, and ‘Paseando El Encierro’ hints at grander ideas of classical structure embedded in its glacial symphonic movement.
Flawless pop syrup from Isabelle Antena following Numero's reissue of cult classic 'Camino Del Sol' way back when their catalogue numbers were in single digits. On "En Cavale" Isabelle flies closer to the pop sun, employing Orange Juice producer Martin Hayes, covering Sister Sledge's 'Easy Street' and absorbing influence from Sade, Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz.
After "Camino Del Sol" failed to springboard Isabelle Antena to pop stardom in 1982, she repositioned her expectations, breaking apart the trio and transitioning from electro-samba minimalism to a solo sound that was more in line with expected 1980s electronic pop. "En Cavale" was her first solo full-length, her second album for Les Disques Du Crépuscule after a short, but ultimately unsuccessful UK diversion recording for Phonogram. One thing she did take away from that perioid was producer Martin Hayes, better known for producing Orange Juice's seminal "Rip it Up", who lends his slick fingerprint to this set of disco, smooth jazz and piña colada balladeering.
At the time Isabelle was fascinated with Nile Rodgers' work in Chic and Sister Sledge, so her cover of 'Easy Street' might be the best introduction to the album. It's sickly disco-pop, but filtered thru that unmistakable Antena sound that left an indelible mark on underground pop music. There's also plenty of leftover jams from the Antena era: oily electro-samba numbers 'Playback', 'Seaside Week End', and 'Be Pop' were co-written by her ex-bandmates Pascale Moiroud and Sylvain Fasy. 'Be Pop' especially, with a chilly avant disco lilt, could have been the blueprint for Stereolab's defining 'Ping Pong', with similarly deadpan vocals and incongruous sparkling production.
And when Isabelle goes it alone, she impresses with major league pop moves on 'Booby Trap', 'Life is Too Short' and 'Magic Words', three bombastic '80s belters that concluded the album's original release. This reissue bundles up 'Don't Think About It' and 'Time to Work', fleshing it out with smooth funk-laced bubblers that capture an era that seems impossibly distant.
South of North presents Nicolini's latest offering, Goods / Human Experiment.
"Delivering two slices of finest DIY post-punk digi (styles), woven together with bouncy basslines, punchy drum machines, and Casio melodies, as Nic’s voice beams in from beyond the ether."
Luke Younger yields his most engrossing work as Helm with the sorely romantic dynamics of ‘Chemical Flowers’, his follow-up to 2015’s ‘Olympic Mess’. Bolstered by J.G. Thirlwell’s rich string arrangements, it’s a hugely ambitious work that extends from whirling, panoramic vistas to insular, pulsing dynamics, somewhere between Earth, Oren Ambarchi, Keiji Haino and Actress.
Recorded in long, sustained sessions in the Essex countryside, giving him breathing room from the choke of London, ‘Chemical Flowers’ feels more elusive and ambitious than anything we’ve heard from Helm recordings in the past. While typically concerned with the nature and sound ecology of urban life, the Helm sound now feels more edgeland, drawing on a sense of marshy menace and concrete-meets-country dread limned so evocatively in classic J.G. Ballard novels, and surely recognisable by anyone in the UK beyond off-grid folk in Pembrokeshire or the Scottish highlands, perhaps.
Given the luxury of space and time, Younger detectably reflects on past experience touring and playing live, as ambiguous nods to the strings and tones used in his Egyptian ‘Rawabet’ recordings subtly colour and marble the eight tracks, thanks to string parts arranged by J.G. Thirlwell (Foetus/Manorexia/Xordox, The The), plus saxophone from Karl D’Silva and Lucinda Chua’s cello. These acoustic touches lend human sweat and grease to proceedings which Younger uses sparingly but crucially in his electronically sculpted stagings.
In effect, Helm pulls something hallucinatory from the mundane and prosaic, akin to viewing other dimensions refracted and projected into the dark from within a brightly lit bus or train carriage during a long commute, when the mind slips into the realm between reality and waking dreams. As we pass under the flight paths and neon, microtonal ephemera of ‘Capital Crisis (New City Loop)’ this nocturnal mindset plays out in the most absorbing ways, slipping from Yves Tumor or David Axelrod-like symphonic soul strokes and trip hop drums in ‘I Knew You Would Respond’ then the ambient noise qwheeze of ‘Body Rushes’, while ‘Lizard In Fear’ captivates with its hyperrealist electroacoustic evocation of a drowned Thames estuary, and the title and gnawing tone of ‘Toxic Racecourse’ could be an allegory for London itself.
But Younger makes sure to keep that view of London ambiguous, at arms length, by returning to hypnotic rhythms like the doomy pulse of ‘You Are The Database’ that glumly precedes ‘Chemical Flowers’, a majestic widescreen synth piece that poignantly manifests the allure and promise of the city as much as its isolating qualities.
Soundtracks For The Blind was intended to be the final studio album by Swans, released as a double disc epic in 1996.
The album finds the band's sound taking various disparate forms, from the droning ambient tones of opener 'Red Velvet Corridor', to the odd pulsing techno of 'Volcano' via more conventional (if that's even a word that can be associated with Swans) song-based recordings.
This is an album that's all over the place in stylistic terms, but given the volume of material, it takes on something of an epic feel, somehow making sense as a single drawn out narrative. The spooky dulcimers of 'Secret Friends' match up with the atmospheric dissonances of 'I Was A Prisoner In Your Skull' and the nerve jangling, haunted house songwriting of 'Her Mouth Is Filed With Honey'.
Remastered re-issue of Neon City, the debut release by Erik K Skodvin & Otto A Totland's Deaf Center project.
"Listening to Neon City in 2022 is like taking a melancholy journey down rainy city streets of the early naughts, made by the then two young Norwegians in their mid 20s after spending time together in a basement full of vintage items.
Armed with young optimism and a sense of musical experimentation, they started sampling everything around them, be it an old television broadcaster, tape recorders, a game of table tennis or conversations on film and merging it with pianos, plucked guitar, strings and anything in-between. The record turned out as something unique in the fields bordering post classical and ambient music, though without landing on any set genre.
Although Erik and Otto both had been making music solo before, Neon City was the start of their more focused future paths as purveyors of both light and darkness in music that seeps through your soul to battle the anxieties of the world.
The record comes with a remix of the opener track “Dial” by Helios aka Keith Keniff, taken from the same original."
Soichi Terada presents a perfect entry point for any budding J-House connoisseurs with this compilation of slick aces off his Far East Recording label.
Sought-after over there and everywhere else, they amount to a prime seam of early '90s house, with levels of plushness and seductive groove up there with the best stuff coming out of New York, Chicago or Detroit at that time. Best known to collectors and heads willing to shell out for originals, his sound has been championed of late by Ben UFO and Hunee, who're both known to slip his treats into their sets. But now everyone can get on the action thanks to this affordable collection spanning ten Terada originals and collaborations with Manabu Nagayama, plus a couple from his pal Shinichiro Yokota.
Much needed reissue of Porter Ricks’ 1997 follow-up to ‘Biokinetics’, plunging deep in the interzone between ambient, noise, and dub techno across its expanded and reshaped 2021 version
Re-floating an overlooked vessel from their 25 year voyage, ‘Same’ returns to the surface subtly resequenced to change its direction of flow, front-loading its rolling dub techno depths and pushing its mid-late ‘90s smoker-funk hip hop and D&B tracks to the back (to be fair they could have omitted them fully). Dodgy bits aside, what remains is a killer example of Porter Ricks’ patented subaquatic pressure in effect, oscillating waves of skanking and stepping groove with canny turns to funkier house and disco loop styles that acknowledge the era they were launched into.
Anyone taken by Porter Ricks’ preceding run of classics for Chain Reaction and Mille Plateaux will be in their element with this album’s dub techno dynamics, with wickedly offset grooves in the ‘Redundance’ parts at their skudgy best in the discoid grind of ‘Redundancy 3’, darker textural ambient scapes in ‘Redundance (Version)’, and a gorgeous scanner ‘Redundance 5’ surely laying the ground for Convextion’s album tracks. At its deepest point, ‘Scuba Lounge’ exerts 11 mins of menacing pressure, before the residual deep house throb of ‘Spoiled’ comes on like a rave heard from miles across dark sea, and ’Spoil’ cuts the filters to reveal a proper Chi-style disco-house loop in action.
Blistering footwerk from the incredible Jlin, exerting a fiercer, more technoid energy on a straighter meter than previous missiles
These trax properly pump where her previous pranged at the maddest angles. To be fair, they aren’t shy of madness, but done with a whipsmart pressure that’s going to cause fucking havoc in the club, we tell ya. No doubt they’re the most impressive footwork aces since Jana Rush’s album, and with all due respect, will show the lads how to do it differently, and better, for our money.
‘Embryo’ comes on almost rabid, but sharply disciplined, introducing noisy acidic textures in a manner we haven’t heard in footwork before, and locked to a boisterously catapulting 4/4 that works to the bone, and informs the racing pelt of ‘Auto Pilot’, which comes off like a giddy sort of UK Bleep techno. ‘Connect The Dots’ sees the rhythms get more tangled, running thru helter skelter permutations of wrong-footing funk set to give the dancers summat to twiss with, and ‘Rabbit Hole’ appears to do the freakiest, sped-up origami on Lil Louis’ Chi-house classic ‘Why'd U Fall'.
Archival Oz-wave nuggets from early ‘80s Adelaide, finally surfacing after decades as demos stored at community radio station 5MMM.
As previewed on the ‘Oz Echoes: DIY Cassettes And Archives 1980-1989’ compendium, The Frenzied Bricks played a sort of angular post-punk patently skooled by the twin inspirations of Neu! and New Order, and easily heard in their ‘Vicious Circle’ gem.
This 7” arrives in tandem with the first pressing of contemporaneous aces from Height/Dismay’ and shares their timeless sidespin on UK and Euro underground sounds, with anglophile vocals and motorik Factory vibes abundant on ‘(Can I) Bridge The Gap’, while ‘Entropy’ follows thru like an echo of Vini Reilly’s experiments with drum machines and tape.
A lushly metaphoric sort of travelogue from members of Chicago’s notoriously interrelated jazz scene, turning their trips into an etheric jazz suite - call it Baltic-not-Balearic.
With credits between them for a plethora of artists ranging from Angel Olsen to Beyoncé and Sam Prekop, Chiu & Honer call on their talents to coax a rich palette of pianos, organ, vintage synths and field recordings into swirling spiritual jazz/new age dream sequences that stem from their shared roots, playing Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ as much as their trips to the Åland Islands of the Baltic Sea. They carefully evince a feeling of the place - an archipelago of some 6,500 islands where it’s light all day in summer, dark all day during winter - as the album transitions from the late night synth wow and flutter of ‘In Åland Air’ to the library-like synth theme of ‘Under the Midnight Sun’ via gorgeous highlights of bucolic scenery in ’Snåcko’, the hazy play of ecclesiastic light in ‘Kumlinge Kyrka’, and tip-of-toe sensation to ‘By Foot By Sea’, with their nostalgic wheeze in balmiest effect on the panoramic ‘Archipelago’.
“In 2017 Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer traveled together to the Åland Islands (an archipelago that is host to around 6,500 islands) in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland. They headed to the islands with the intention of helping two friends (mother/daughter duo Jannika/Sage Reed) barn raise a small inn named Hotel Svala in Kumlinge (a municipality consisting of a small group of islands and a population of about 320). The idea was that, once completed, Svala would host artist residencies and workshop programs, creating a direct link between the islands and the USA.
The concept of recording music there came about as Honer & Chiu learned more and more about the islands. They were taken by the serene and strange quality of the place. The sun doesn’t set in the summer (and barely rises in the winter). The network of miniature islands is traversed by ferry which, according to Chiu, “casts a surreal horizontal movement through space and time, with islands shifting into and out of periphery, totally still and calm, yet always in motion.”
In 2019 they were awarded a grant from the Department of Culture to return and perform a concert at the Kumlinge Kyrka, a 14th century medieval church adorned with incredible frescos. The concert was recorded and became source material – along with improvisations on viola and electronics, pipe organ, pump organ, piano, synthesizers, field recordings and voice memos, all captured across both their trips at various locations on the archipelago – from which they meticulously crafted a post-script in the form of 'Recordings from the Åland Islands’.”