Driven by the Vocaloid software synthesizer that was used to make the Nyan Cat theme, "Talkbox" is basically fantasy Italo-disco meme music. Post-Max Tundra.
Londoner Michael O'Mahony came across the Vocaloid voice synthesis software when he was trying to find out more about the Nyan Cat music. The discovery set him off on an obsession that would lead him to write "Talkbox" using a version of the software that could only sing in Japanese. Relying on Google Translate for guidance, O'Mahony used BBC match reports of football games to power his initial experiments, pulling together a library of sung syllables and phonetic sounds that he eventually used to create the melodies on the album. "As far as we know, these vocal lines have no meaning in lyrical terms," the press release states.
If you can't imagine what that sounds like, picture a set of rudimentary electro-pop beats with half-garbled Hatsune Miku vocals over the top. It's like an AI-powered zoomer fever dream, which according to O'Mahony is probably the point - the album is apparently about "chains of association" from family dynamics and recurring dreams to found objects and emotional attachments. Way too clever for us, obviously.
Berlin-based Australian sound artist Felicity Mangan distorts watery environmental recordings into lightheaded textural blasts and unsteady polyrhythms on this astonishingly singular set.
Felicity Mangan's obsession with environmental sound is well documented. On 2020's Mappa-released "Creepy Crawly", she used recordings of bugs and birds to build a sonic zoo, and on its predecessor "Stereo'frog'ic", she recorded frog and insects to play with multi-directional audio. "Wet on Wet" finds her mining a vast archive of recordings for sounds related to water, whether that's material collected from sitting next to a river, or rumbles gleaned from seismic vibrations in the soil. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary for dedicated field recording devotees then, but it's the way Mangan treats the material that has us frothing at the mouth. She's fascinated with aural illusions and biophonics: the sounds produced by living organisms within a specific biome, in relation to each other rather than as a singular, separate voice. So Mangan's way of interpreting and sculpting her recordings ties into her appreciation of these concepts - "Wet on Wet" is an experience that's as philosophical as it is sonically bewildering.
The main body of the album is 'Digging the Pedospheric Vibes', a work that's split into three parts, with the first and third bookending the record. This new composition is a study of farmscape ecology, and takes frequencies, timbres and biorhythms from the soil itself in an attempt to highlight the role soil plays in climate change. On the opening segment, insectoid buzzing is manipulated into a melodic lead, rhythmically chiming as it pans through the stereo field before adding a metallic, machine rattle. The latter sounds are more central on the piece's second part, supplemented by barely decipherable voices before the buzzing lead returns, eventually giving way to a rattling rhythm that's unshakably organic and as cybernetically enhanced as anything yr favorite DSP bros might have launched into the aether. The piece's third act is more solemn, with machinery sounds formed into a orchestro-industrial drone that suffocates Mangan's omnipresent bird calls. The buzzing of insects acts as a curative, drowning out the doom and forming a new melody that sounds almost hopeful.
Elsewhere, Mangan's fierce sense of humor and outsized processing skill is put in even sharper focus. 'Dolphin Tricks' might be our favorite, deploying watery splashes to create a hard-panned gabber throb that eventually dissolves into clattering abstraction. Considering all the supposedly forward-thinking electronic deconstructions we hear each week, it's refreshing to hear an artist swerving the usual sonic markers and coming up with something even more forward thinking that's rooted in the natural world. 'When Do Frogs Go Out' makes her human-animal connections even clearer, juxtaposing frog calls with manipulated human voices, forcing us to not only consider the timbre of these rarely-heard amphibian croaks, but also our personal impact on the natural world. What might the frogs hear, exactly?
Gonna take a while to fully unpack this one.
Downwards’ deep bonds with NYC catalyse the immense debut LP by Jim Siegel’s Vivid Oblivion, a reveberating post-industrial salvo produced by adopted Brooklynite Karl O’Connor (Regis), and co-mixed by Anthony Child (Surgeon) and Simon Shreeve, who also mastered it. It’s a super deep, highly atmospheric beast somewhere between Valentina Magaletti’s most expressive percussion work, Bark Psychosis, and classic, moody 4AD, which is coincidentally referenced via the artwork, made by Chris Bigg - legendary graphic designer and longtime assistant to Vaughan Oliver.
Invoking the density, vertiginous scale, and dark grimy nooks of NYC, ‘The Graphic Cabinet’ was realised by Jim Siegel - hardcore legend and occasional/regular drummer with everyone from Raspberry Bulbs to Damo Suzuki and Boredoms, made in close collaboration with Karl O’Connor aka Regis during 2021.
Stemming from intently deep listening sessions immersed in LPs by Viennese aktionist Hermann Nitsch and the myriad eras of Killing Joke, while also absorbing the atmospheres of classic Tarkovsky flicks, the album began life as gonzo field recordings of Siegel smashing the f*ck out of his drum kit, zither, scrap metal and gongs in an array of abandoned warehouse spaces. The recordings formed the basis of Karl’s compound productions, which add depth charge bass and sonorous metallic atmospheres to the mix, along with birdsong and gibbon hoots, plus guitar textures by Nick Forté (Raspberry Bulbs, Rorschach) for a dread-lusting jag deep in the belly of the Big Apple.
With a palpable tang of rust and blood in the air and grime under the fingernails, the seven tracks evoke a resoundingly brutalist portrait of space and place. Siegel’s nervy percussive discipline is framed in alternating barometric and light settings from cut to cut, variously snaking from the poltergeist clang and haunted resonance of ‘Converging and Dissolving’ to slamming motorik thrum in ‘Oblivion’ via imaginative descent into cyberpunk simulacra of the city as jungle-at-night in ‘Remnant Corridor’, replete with animalistic atmospheres that recall Organum.
While the raw attack and devilish swerve of the rhythms are utterly fundamental to the record, Karl’s atmospheric content and the animist mixing magick of Anthony Child and Simon Shreeve most potently give flesh to its bones. Patently evident on the stepping pulse and searching zither that keens into detuned orchestration on ‘Immediate Possession’, the zoned-out klang of ‘Stand Aside’ or in the flooded warehouse chaos of ‘Test For Traps’. The attention to spatial, textural and proprioceptive detail is tightened throughout, peaking with ‘Bargemaster’, a dense slab of tension that sounds like Jon Mueller’s Silo recordings fed through The Caretaker’s fogged machinery.
It’s one of the most impressive records on Downwards for a long while, bound to gnaw and spark the nerves of experimental rock and post-industrial’s greats, anything from The New Blockaders to Faust, Flying Saucer Attack and into iconic Blackest Ever Black releases in the modern era.
Philip Sherburne & Albert Salinas’ nascent label, Balmat embrace Nueen’s shimmering ambient pads and FM synthesis for its fourth release of ambient romance edging onto backroom dance music.
Looking close to the label’s home, located between Catalonia and Mallorca, Nueen chime into Balmat’s aesthetic definitions with a blissed suite elegantly oscillating from sunblushed pads to duskier new age/4th world horizons, puckered pop-ambient and sinuous grooves. In the process they subtly refresh and make their mark on vintage paradigms, following the course of their Quiet Time and Good Morning Tapes releases into more percussively defined ambient dance music adjacent to the 3XL stable.
'Diagrams of Thought’ grows from notions of gauzy Mediterranean ambient on the deep blue to burnt organ descent of ‘To Eve’, thru playful pieces of syn-flute new age and balmy FM strokes, to an ace piece of pop ambient making lush use of low-lying Reese bass and processed vocals redolent of Christos Chondropoulos’ imaginative AI folk vocals in ‘Mett’. A radiant patch of melodic thought ‘Let Me Be Gone For a While’ then sets up a more unpredictable swerve to brooding purple ambient hues on ‘Dome’ and, ultimately, the album’s seductive turn toward the ‘floor with flickering electric zinger ‘Veta’ and the feathered stepper ‘Maxima’ beckoning a good night ahead.
Dane Law's latest is a serving of low-key magic put together with acoustic guitar samples and a semi-algorithmic Max/MSP patch. Somewhere between Oval, The Books/Zammuto and Matmos but more folk-inspired, it's affecting, unexpectedly warm material.
It's the physical sound of "blue forty-six" that makes it so special. By sampling acoustic guitar plucks but removing the fingerpicked squeaks and fretboard noise, Adam Parkinson (aka Dane Law) has reframed our perception of the omnipresent instrument, lending it the sonic characteristics of a harp, a koto, or a kora. He began the process so he could create a Max patch that would he could improvise with, semi-algorithmically. Once the notes were recorded, he began assembling the tracks, inspired by books about polar exploration and the arctic wilderness. This landscape offers "blue forty-six" its horizon, and its hard to listen to Parkinson's jerky but incredibly beautiful sounds without conjuring up mental visions of ice sheets, blizzards and hidden Lovecraftian nightmares.
Highlighting specific tracks is an almost pointless process; the album is a single idea ruthlessly explored in slightly different ways on each track. Thinking of it another way, it plays like a solo guitar album - by thinning out his options, Parkinson has created a level of focus that feels rigorous and almost academic. It's not a million miles away from Oval's underrated "Oh", an unashamedly computerized guitar study that attempted to bridge the gap between Markus Popp's notorious glitch experiments and Tortoise's emotive post-rock. But where Popp's approach was to scrub the sounds to almost sterile perfection, Parkinson is purposefully rougher; he admits that if you listen carefully, you might hear his cat or a radiator creaking under the notes.
This sense of humor gives "blue forty-six" a warmth and levity that reinforces its cascading chimes and bright, buzzy harmonics. Without focusing on the process, you might mistake the album for a lost psychedelic folk construction, a harpsichord jam or a set of icy dulcimer experiments. The joy is in the fine details; focus your ears and you'll get to experience Parkinson's vision in all its tundra-guided glory. You'll be lost in the white-out in no time.
Lady Lykez' second EP once again matches her with Scratchclart, who supports her energetic wordplay with subtly fierce hybridized UK gqom and dancehall bumps. Future shit, fully - rolls harder than a teenager chewing a mouthful of Dutch pills.
2019's "Muhammad Ali EP" was one of that year's best club deployments, introducing North London's Lady Lykez to Hyperdub after a run of popular YouTube hits. A well-respected MC, Lykez was already notorious for being the first woman to clash with a male MC on Lord of the Mics, and her debut EP only increased her currency as she added the finishing touches to a slew of Scratcha's startling "DRMTRK" beats.
"Woza EP" is the next chapter in the story, and yet again gives Lady Lykez room to extoll her personality over a slew of genre-bursting exoskeletons from Scratchclart. On the title track - that means "come on" in isiZulu - she grabs an assist from South African rapper Toya Delazy, whose "Afrorave vol.1" is an essential spin if you missed it last year. Scratcha's beat is similarly geographically positioned, using South African gqom sounds to hit against plasticated dancehall prangs and his unmistakably grimy fwd motion.
But it's Lykez and Delazy's back and forth that has us reeling. It speaks to the brazen spirit of London's underground right now: there's spiky wordplay in the verses from Lykez and an urgent chorus from Delazy that augments the beat with an extra rhythmic thrust. 'Killa Bee' is almost as mindboggling, boasting a brain-rewiring insectoid buzz from Scratchclart and a solo vocal performance from Lady Lykez that's so acrobatic it's almost exhausting. When 'Pull Down' arrives - all downtempo dancehall sleaze with sufficiently blue lyrical twerks - it's a well-placed breather.
Bristol's DJ Polo helps out on the amapiano-inspired 'Bully Dem', maybe the EP's most neon-lit moment sporting a lithe, Autotune-bothered chorus from Lykez that channels Kingston's chop sound thru Katlehong, and Trim pops up on 'Shapez' to run us out. "Woza EP" is another impressive move from Lady Lykez and Scratchclart, and some of the most dynamic dance music we've heard out of the UK in a second.
Proper electro from Irish bot DeFeKT & Aussie meat motor Jensen Interceptor
Five hard-working cuts for the DJs and dancers. With its Kraftwerk-via-Dopplereffekt vocoders and cattle-prod percussive jabs, ‘Free Your Body’ is a big highlight, while the uptempo missiles ‘Mr Kinney’, the jagged attack of ‘Bipolar’, and the body-gurgling synths and warehouse ricochet-step of ‘Life’ are exactly the sort we’d expect to hear in a Stingray set. ‘7000 Miles’ slows down a gear and ups the sleaze with nasty effect.
Gloriously free spirited ambient jazz scapes from electronic artist Photay, joined by a phalanx of players - mainly the master Carlos Niño, but also new age ambient legend Iasos, Mikaela Davis, Mia Doi Todd, and Randal Fisher, who lend the lushest vibrancy
Elementally themed around flowing water, ‘An Offering’ carves its path to your heart with a finely tempered gush of emotive energies. Synth, sax, harp, keys, percussion and voice cascade unimpeded by grids or meters with mesmerising fluidity from the field recordings of its prelude to the infinite oceanic space and spoken word of Iasos on ‘E X I S T E N C E’, with the creative symbiosis of Photay and Niño’s constant presence guiding affairs from the blissed Alice Coltrane-esque ‘C U R R E N T’, prickled with Mikaela’s harp, thru their crystalline subterranean caverns of ‘C H A N G E’ and ‘E X I S T’, to more airborne clouds of iridescent synth and keys in ‘M O S A I C’, and the temple stroking sublime of ‘H O N O R’.
“The sounds they gathered into an intentional, meditative whole, were made together and apart, and sourced from all over. The two producers made connections between new music and recordings they already had: Shornstein found hours of tape featuring solo playing by Upstate New York harpist Mikaela Davis, which became a central adornment on multiple tracks. Niño sent Shornstein a quartet improvisation he made with tenor saxophonist Aaron Shaw, keyboardist Diego Gaeta and synth-guitarist Nate Mercereau, which became the basis of “Honor.” They brought in trusted partners. The atmospheric blowing of LA-based tenor saxophonist Randal Fisher is a focal point throughout, at times processed by Photay’s machines. Photay’s trombone player Nathaneal Ranson, and Niño’s long-standing LA-based collaborator, vocalist Mia Doi Todd, float in-and-out of the mix. When Niño makes a record, another original “new age” legend, Iasos, is bound to be around, and his strong summation on “Existence” are the only words An Offering submits. The healing energy of Peterskill, a short rocky State Park waterway that ebbs through New York’s Ulster County (and across from Shornstein’s home — “a real environmental inspiration”), flows throughout. “Creating with no constructs,” is how Shornstein describes the process of bringing these elements together. “It was just a feeling, which maybe is what music or creating should always be.”
Soul Jazz herald a highly promising survey of Lovers Rock pioneers Brown Sugar - starring a young Caron Wheeler, later of Soul II Soul, and produced by Dennis Bovell - with a sweet highlight in original and instrumental
Notable not just as the formative vehicle of UK soul legend Caron Wheeler, the Brown Sugar trio she helmed with Pauline Catlin and Carol Simms helped set the template for the UK’s other great contribution to reggae (aside to steppers dub, of course) during their run of 1976-1980 singles produced by the mixing desk heavyweight, Dennis Bovell.
Whether you were there back in the day and knew and loved the sound, or came at it via Steve McQueen’s mesmerising Small Axe series in 2020, Lovers Rock is a quintessentially Black and British sound rooted in the Afro-Caribbean community and beloved by many outside it. ‘Im In Love With Dreadlocks’ is a sterling, if overlooked example of the sound at its righteous and mellifluous best, all swaying vocal harmonies and groove built for intimate dancing at Blues parties - often living rooms or basements in houses from London to Manchester. The instrumental here gives the lads something to dance a bit harder on, tuffening up the bass and shaking out the FX in infectious style and pattern.
Man of many chords and regular collaborator of FlyLo, Thundercat, Mark Pritchard; Dorian Concept chills out with age on a lokey but effervescent 4th solo album, tempering his synth chops with more organic textures and bountiful vocal harmonies in sexy, balmier sub-tropical rhythms
“What We Do For Others” is a relaxed, quietly confident and intimate record, founded on delightfully loose arrangements, feedbacked soundscapes and blessed with snatches of his own cryptic vocals that are presented more as additional instrumentation rather than lyrical phrases. All the elements and layers were recorded without interruptions and deliberately not edited. “I think that's why this record has something of a ‘band sound’” says Oliver. “It's me playing all kinds of different key-instruments, singing and using fx-units to create these freeform compositions.”
The title came to Oliver in a dream and stuck with him. “One thing I often find interesting about my creative process is that when I believe to be making something that others could like, it tends to not really connect with people,” he says. “Whereas when I get to that special place and just work from my gut – the music tends to often speak to the outside world naturally.” Johnson says that he tried questioning his internal voice of self-judgement and temper his constant urge for improvement during the making of the album.
“I feel like for me as a musician - up until now I've always had this drive to do things 'properly' - to somehow strive for perfection.” Oliver explains. “But this is an album about me letting go of that urge – about understanding that there's something magical that happens in these first takes we often call drafts... a spirit is captured. And once you try to re-record it, the essence of the idea gets lost. So in a way I wanted to see how little ‘control’ I could exert on the music whilst recording it... to almost let the music make itself.”
Based in Vienna, Johnson has nevertheless been a stalwart of the experimental jazz/electronic scene that has flourished and diversified in the orbit of Brainfeeder’s figurehead Flying Lotus. With early releases on Kindred Spirits imprint Nod Navigators and Affine Records, Johnson played Brainfeeder’s earliest international label nights in 2009 (Off-Sonar in Barcelona and the infamous Hearn Street Car Park session in London) forming a strong family bond with the Brainfeeder crew founded on a mutual love of freakazoid electronic-jazz fusion.”
Yeah this one’s a bit special; number 3 in our list of most loved releases from 2021 when it was originally released on tape, now finally avaialble on this double vinyl edition selected and arranged by Jack Rollo and Elaine Tierney. Ballads’ is a waking-dream meander through beautiful, romantic, weird, exotic, intimate, un-categorisable music that shouldn't go together but yet somehow makes complete sense, offering a sort of spiritual life-enhancement in the process. It’s a bit like discovering a portal to long forgotten memories that fill you with nostalgia but also the thrill of the new - disorientating, but also a reminder, once again, that music = life.
A Colourful Storm’s Fleetway Tapes seems to have already become the ideal place for skilled musical storytellers to flex their muscle, and on ‘Ballads’ the London-based duo turn their attention to the classic storytelling category of songcraft with the mix of forensic digging and poetic arrangement that has made their long-running NTS show a cult hit for many. Spanning a literate and cinematic world of sound with signature delicacy, they conjure a far flung and totally absorbing set whose track-listing remains impenetrable, and may well drive diggers to a tizzy. Suffice to say; numerous pearls lie within.
Sung in myriad tongues, the ballads range from the romantic and sentimental to the abstract and instrumental, spieling yarns that may not be fully understood, but whose atmosphere, pacing, and seductive vibe is unmistakable.
Swiss-Dutch composer Ella van der Woude's award-winning score for Nico van den Brink’s debut movie "Moloch" is a petrifying fusion of instrumental anguish and synthesized dread. Fans of Hildur Guðnadóttir and Ben Frost, this one's for you.
Ella van der Woude cut her teeth playing in Dutch indie-alternative band Houses, and when they disbanded in 2013 she turned her attention towards composition. She's scored plenty of documentaries, TV shows and movies at this point, but her score for "Moloch" might be the most conspicuous yet - it's already won best music at 2022's Dutch Film Festival. The movie itself is a bleak Dutch folk horror that uses familiar mythology to tug at the mind and flesh, and van der Woude's score provides all the creeping dread you'd expect to buoy the eerie visuals.
Aside from composing the music, van der Woude handles synthesizers, piano, guitar, vocals and clarinet, bringing in assistance from Randall Dunn and Arjan Miranda on synths and Erik Bonerfält on guitar and tetures. The result is a series of cues that sound directly in line with contemporary "elevated horror" trends; the synth parts especially remind us of the genre's eccentric past, but the restraint and orchestral blending is more assuredly highbrow. It's an amalgamation that's so adult it's genuinely terrifying.
Another major work from Haino, O'Rourke and Ambarchi, this one features a side-long bell and gong piece inspired by Tibetan Buddhist music, and a suite of recordings from a performance at Tokyo's SuperDeluxe. Heavy duty!
You'd think with ten albums in the can already, Haino, O'Rourke and Ambarchi would be running out of steam, but this latest 2LP is another throbbing harness of creative energy. The opening 23-minute composition, with Haino on metal percussion, Ambarchi on gongs and bells, and O'Rourke on electronics, is proof that they're impossible to pigeonhole. Inspired by Tibetan Buddhist music, the trio form rhythmic clusters of tuned percussion into a dense fog of resonant sound that's somewhere between Orthodox church bells and gamelan. O'Rourke's restrained tones mimic the bells, adding an artificiality without interrupting the sonic superstructure, and Haino leads - at least in the first half - with a performance that's as manic as it is compelling. Ambarchi's gongs and chimes take more of a central role in the final third, when we're shuttled into a meditative space for a few moments.
The rest of the record is more traditionally structured for the trio, with O'Rourke on Hammond organ, Ambarchi on guitar and Haino on drums evoking Fushitsusha. Not trained as a drummer, Haino brings his unstoppable freeform energy to the instrument, breaking out into thunderous rhythmic blasts as Ambarchi and O'Rourke eke out Phibesian drone atmospheres on the lengthy 'Thinking too deeply I skipped over ¯¯ three by three'. After a short spoken word section, Haino picks up his guitar and the mood is set for the rest of the record: teeth-gnashing fuzz and hi-octane rhythms, occasionally cooled by O'Rourke's deceptively amniotic organ tones. The final track's intro lulls us into a false sense of security, and the when the sacred organ wobble are met by Haino's crude, corrosive grind, it sounds like chalk and cheese shaking hands finally.
Jim Jupp revises his 2004 Belbury Poly EP "Farmer's Angle" once again, adding a fresh remix of 'Cool Air'.
Originally released on CDR in 2004, "Farmer's Angle" was the introduction to Ghost Box co-founder Jim Jupp's Radiophonic Workshop-inspired project. Jupp repackaged the album over a decade ago in 2010, adding a couple of extra tracks and a remix from Advisory Circle, but this new edition cans the extras, instead revisiting 'Cool Air' with a short, sharp 2022 rework.
If you've heard Jupp's more recent work you should know what to expect. The title track is a statement of intent not just for Jupp's solo material but for the Ghost Box label in general, conjuring up fond memories of vintage British TV themes and Raymond Scott records. Elsewhere, 'The Eleventh House' touches Pye Corner Audio's dark dancefloor styles, prettying the mood with haunted flutes and plasticated harpsicord twinkles.
Mexico City's Paurro debuts on Cómeme with a supple set of dancers' breakbeat house - psychedelic floor fillers that should appeal to anyone tickled by Eris Drew and Octa Octa's T4T imprint, I. Jordan, or Anthony Naples. Includes a remix from Matias Aguayo.
For the last few years, Paulina Rodriquez has been cutting her teeth as a DJ, bouncing between New York City and her hometown Mexico City to work out exactly what the sweatiest, sexiest dancefloors might require. Those efforts have culminated in "Galavisión", five lengthy breakbeat workouts that massage the outer limits of the house spectrum.
The title track offers an ideal introduction to Pau's sound, with lysergic percussion adding sparkle to a slinky rhythm that modernizes Chicago's deep, dubby template. 'Rave Soup' scrapes more influence from the soundsystem canon, building filtered hoover bass and choppy breaks into a subtly euphoric backdrop, while 'Relax the Rax' brings us into peak time with bitcrushed rolls, '90s stabs and cautiously dubby low end.
'They're Here!' is the most unexpected diversion, and Pau harnesses the latent energy of acid house and early electro, creating a mood that's only expanded on by Matias Aguayo in his pounding, warehouse-ready rework. Absolute belters, beginning to end.
Fractal hybridized gamelan and electronics from Singapore's The Observatory and Japanese sound artist Koichi Shimizu, who build uncanny electro-organic structures into hypnotic, ritualistic patterns. RIYL Raja Kirik or Gabber Modus Operandi.
'Demon State' emerged from casual improv sessions in 2020 that were made with Koichi Shimizu, a regular collaborator who had been based long-term in Bangkok before moving back home to Japan. Koichi had worked extensively with The Observatory since the early 2000s, and now had the opportunity to work on these recordings in the safety of his own studio, re-arranging the parts and building on the sessions adding his own electronic elements. In their own Singapore studio, The Observatory worked on sonic elements for an art exhibition called "DEMON STATES", an immersive cyberpunk environment that staged a few tracks from "DEMON STATE". Confused yet? Well we're not even scratching the surface - the music is chaotically ambitious, opening with 'Panopticism', a kinetic slice of itchy gamelan experimentation that's unsettlingly deep, as if it's been drowned.
The title track 'Demon State' is more central to the project, with fiery vocals that throb with rage and shine a light on the band's motivation for the record and the exhibition. Revolution, colonization and the situation in Singapore and Southeast Asia in general drives the sounds presented here, and that's never more evident than on 'Imprisoned Mind'. A jerky fusion of DSP glitches, hardstyle kicks and FM radio chants, it sounds as if it's beamed from the same continuum as Raja Kirik's anti-colonial masterpiece "Rampokan", but injected with industrial punk energy that's impossible to ignore.
Singular, groundbreaking Indonesian duo Senyawa alloy with a unit of heads led by Room 40 capo Lawrence English for a mighty exorcism of lockdown energies.
After the rhizomic dissemination of Senyawa’s ‘Alkisah’ album via some 41 labels in ’21, the pairing of Wukir Suryadi & Rully Shabara test out a battery of new, custom-built instruments to potently psychedelic effect on ‘The Prey And The Ruler’. Overdubbed and recombined with chops by Lawrence English (organ, electronics), Helen Svoboda (double bass & voice), Peter Knight (trumpet, Revox B77 tape), Joe Talia (drums), and Aviva Endean (clarinets & harmonic flute), the recordings open Senyawa’s practice along new vectors of investigation and into new spaces of the febrile imagination, with the expanded assortment of Australian counterparts reacting to the unusual tonalities of the duo’s self-built instrumentation in fascinating, intensive ways.
Centring on Wukir Suryadi’s industrial mutant instrument, and possessed by Rully’s incantations, Senyawa’s mystic votives achieve new depth and space at the hands of their collaborators. The four parts scale in range and intensity from resounding atmospheric space and industrial jazz impulses on the first track, to the astonishing 20 minute sprawl of the 2nd, coming off like an imaginary adjunct to Scott Walker & Sunn 0))) soundtracking ‘Hard to Be a God’.
A process of sharing phone video clips of the new instruments being forged, and the reaction of the English-instigated ensemble, results in a shared noumenal space somewhere above the Timor Sea and Indian Ocean: traversing the skyborne alien tones of ‘Mangsa Dan Penguasa (The Prey and the Rulers)’; jungle canopy-stepping spirits in ‘Perburan (The Hunt); and a sort of thrumming goth-rock kosmiche animism in ‘Perjamuan (The Supper)’, before the gobsmacking B-side ‘Memangsa Penguasa (The Prey on Rulers)’ renders Rully like an uncanny familiar of Jhonn Balance set amid forests of metallic clangour and gnawing, spectralist, phantom presences conjured by the attuned mass.
Grime torch carrier Boylan and its originator Slimzee split the difference between hardcore jungle-tekno, dubstep and London club music on four hard 140bpm workouts
‘LDNMSV’ rolls out a bullish 4/4 charge serrated with murderous mid-range synths and gnashing breaks. ‘Labello Blanco’ hails the legendary early hardcore-jungle label with a proper warehouse beast on the breakstep tip. ‘Ephemerol East’ dials up vintage Wizzbit inspirations on grimier early ‘00s flex, and ‘Come On In’ tags in Slimzos alum U.S.F. on a scything brukout growling with bestial bass.
Exceptional, hauntingly affective avant-classical/folk-drone experiment with detuned dissonance on Rome’s excellent Superpang label
Stockholm-based, Polish composer Aleksandra Słyż makes a memorable introduction to our ears with ‘Everything tends towards chaos and order’, whose title reflects an acute manifesto for her music here. For 20 minutes the piece feels out an immense plays of opposites, between synthetic and acoustic, consonance and dissonance, with results that get right under the skin, we tell thee.
Masterfully working with a sense of unresolved tension, Słyż’s piece gets us screwfaced and wet-eyed with its 20 minute arc of aching, glacial, burnished strings that feel like she’s bowing right across rawly open nerves. Its effect elicits a beautiful sort of rapturous misery we’d associate with keening uilleann pipes of Ireland as much as Polish folk, and likewise Penderecki works or the intensity of Harley Gaber. Out-fucking-standing stuff. We’ll be dipping right into her previous releases straight away.
Superpang scout the outer limits with a throwdown for trumpet and computer by Portuguese avant-player Silva and her Stockholm spar Nilsson
One to ping the pleasure centres of noisy nuts, ‘Radio Two’ pits brass and electronics in unpredictably inventive forms at the esteemed EMS institution. While Susanna Santos Silva has been knocking out releases with everyone from Fred Frith Trio to the Matière Mémoire label for a decade now, this is technically Alexandra Nilsson’s first release with her name at the top. They combine in various free strategies spanning spittle-inflected extended trumpet tekkerz and course, bristling noise on ‘Bagua’ to 10 minute of woozily smeared wind overtones and sibilant loops on ‘The Diving Bell And The Butterfly’, which reflects the locked-in, discomfiting nature of the film that like gave the piece its title.
They do proper convulsive shred in ‘Blue’; and more sensuously rhythmic burbles on ‘Carnaval in Svalbard’, while ‘ Messier 86’ sounds like Hassell channelling Haswell’s flies-on-a-corpse recordings and ‘Quasar’ resembles a distressed bagpiper in its resonant dissonance.
Surefire 1979 dancehall diamonds by pioneering toasters Michigan & Smiley on the Real Rock Riddim
The swaggering OG stars the dual toasters passing the mic on Clement Dodds’ production, marking up their first hit with their first recording. Classic instrumental dub on the flip, but who doesn’t want the pure vibes of Michigan & Smiley’s vocal all day?
Norwegian freeform pianist Anja Laudval tops off a banner year with her Laurel Halo-produced solo debut, a hazy sublimation of frothed new age, saturated fourth world, blissed dub and desiccated furniture music. RIYL Andrew Pekler, Klein, Carmen Villain, or Mica Levi.
Anja Laudval teams up with Laurel Halo to realise her debut solo set, a singular statement that pulls out Laudval's characteristic piano work and replants it in an unfamiliar setting. "From a Story Now Lost" isn't a solo piano album, but a rich and varied spread of air-cooled electro-acoustic experiments that speak directly to the Norwegian artist's wide-range of interests and musical obsessions.
Laudval has been releasing music since 2013 and has played in a variety of outfits - collaborating with Jenny Hval, Hamid Drake and William parker, among others. She brings a breadth of experience to "From a Story Now Lost", augmenting her instrumental performance with electronics and synth work. The Laurel Halo linkup came via Smalltown Supersound founder Joakim Haugland, and the two developed the album together, finding a groove as they worked into Laudval's looped improvisations. Laudval credits Halo as a "thought provoker", who pushed her to shape her music in a certain way, to constantly re-work and re-synthesise her experiments to reach a point where linearity slipped away completely
On 'The Dreamer', baroque strings flirt with cinematic grandiosity but are pitch-fucked by Laudval, tripping her initial concepts into fourth world psychedelia. Listen carefully and a beat tries to poke out above the soupy strings, gentle environmental recordings and cautiously tropical synthstrumentation; almost imperceptible, it sounds like an inverse throb, gently cutting into the music with a frequency rather than a pulse. 'Fantasie for Agathe Backer Grøndahl' introduces us to another of Laudval's influences, a 19th century Norwegian pianist and composer who's not as well known as her friend Edvard Grieg but nonetheless played a crucial role in shaping Norway's "golden age". It's best to listen to Laudval's music with this in mind, absorbing her daubed emotions, smudged into abstract shapes.
'Sukkertare' is a highlight, folding a billowing downtempo rhythm to Laudval's fluttered instrumentation and sea-legged electronix. The mood isn't a million miles from Special Guest DJ's influential "bblisss" comp, or Huerco S's Pendant material - drawn out and fragile, but undeniably sensual. 'Clara' takes a resplendent u-turn, knocking Laudval's pristine, measured piano against unfussy, gossamer electronics and subtle field recordings. It's a fascinating combination of influences that feels uncommonly coherent: emerging in a busy landscape of lackluster solo piano records and bargain bin landfill ambient, it's a focused, layered and distinct statement from an artist who sounds unafraid of questioning her academic training. Polished off with a mixdown from James Ginzburg and mastering by Rashad Becker, it's an album we're going to keep on revisiting.
What a run Smalltown Supersound are having eh?
First in an ever-necessary Xenakis reissue series scans for some of the great polymath’s earliest, seminal electro-acoustic works, which have held huge influence over the avant garde and new composition for over 65 years
As one of the most revered figures of the twentieth century avant-garde, and surely the only one to have studied with Messiaen and worked with Le Corbusier; Iannis Xenakis redrew the boundaries of sonic possibility with his pioneering, mathematically sound arrangements and brutalist electronic tonalities. By teaching or osmosis, his work has exerted just about as much influence on the avant-classical paradigms as the more untrained worlds of noise and DIY electronic experimentalism, with his anarchitextural approach to form and function breaking ground for everyone from Roland Kayn and John Zorn thru Hecker & Haswell to Lee Gamble and Rashad Becker (who did this remaster, naturally) in the contemporary field.
Sequenced in chronological order of the larger ‘Electroacoustic Works’ 5LP boxset (from which this set is extracted), these four pieces stake out a peerless radical approach to new music between the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, back when Xenakis began to combine his musical studies under Messiaen with his background in architecture as assistant to Le Corbusier, and the facilities of Paris’ GRM. What is perhaps most striking about these works is their clarity and spatial definition, which never feels as murky or even messy as much early electronics. With thanks to Rashad Becker’s remastering, everything from the alien dynamics of 1957’s ‘Diamorphoses’ to the shattered glass synthesis of ‘Concret PH’ (1958), thru the rowdy percussive ruptures of ‘Orient Occident’ (1961) and the almighty, roiling keen of his masterwork ‘Bohor’ (1962) sounds uncannily modern.
This is music that still beggars belief and shows up near everyone else, even 50 years since its creation, and remains remarkable testament to the Xenakis vision and diligence during an era when it was markedly more difficult to create music with so much bewildering dynamic. Safe to say it’s one for the ages and totally essential listening for electronic music fiends of the most insatiable type.
Cult US minimalist Alan Licht tears apart tracks from Suicide, Sonic Youth, Fred Neil, Bob Dylan, Van Halen, Palace Brothers and Pere Ubu on this bizarre and brilliant covers collection.
Best known for his incredible lists of obscure minimal gems, writer, guitarist and composer Alan Licht maps his philosophy onto some well-known classics on "Three Chords and a Sword". First up is Pere Ubu's 'Heart of Darkness', that Licht recorded back in 1996 using just a chord organ and his own voice. The original track's epochal angular jangle and signature propulsive beat are removed entirely, leaving ghostly drones and Licht's vocal interpretation. His version of Van Halen's 1984 hit 'Jump' is slightly more conventional, recorded with just an acoustic guitar last year alongside an enjoyably pared-down version of Palace Brothers' 'Stable Will'.
The album really slips into the zone with a 1988 recording of Suicide's 'Rocket USA', rendered completely using looped cable noise and tape echoed vocals. A strange chord organ cover of 'Everybody's Talkin' is also worth a look, and the album's finished off with lengthy jam '1970, featuring Chris Corsano, Matthew Heyner and Tamio Shiraishi.
Big-bottomed techno and ambient steppers from the Rasmus Hedlund, chasing his Dialog turn on Astral Industries with a set of full sunken productions for the deep ends of the club.
Working a vein of Scandinavian and Finnish atmospheric steppers pressure shared by Vladislav Delay, Andreas Tilliander and Liima, the 5th Hedlund LP in a decade stretches out on an hour of proper bass weight and reverberating echo chamber dubbing. His seven tracks balance the sort of atmospheric content found in Dialog’s recently issued ambient 2LP with the kind of effortless, durational, grooving structures caught in Sasu Ripatti’s work with MvO Trio on the brilliantly supple ‘Rytmisk’ and the buoyant, toes-off-the-floor styles of ‘Kalla Vindar’ and the lushly convective ‘Verners Funk’ with its plumply rounded subs.
He sinks into pure Rhythm & Sound-via-Tilliander ambient dub weight in a radiant ‘Chords Galore’, developing in Kompakt-like Pop Ambient scaping, and ‘Bappa’ pulls it farther out in Vladislav Delay or DeepChord zones with overlapping echo chamber FX o mess with your balance, locking it off with ‘Vila Du Lilla’ on the lushest beatless tip.
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of avant titan Iannis Xenakis, this late works collection arrives as a part of the "Electroacoustic Works" box set, freshly mixed by zeitkratzer sound engineer Martin Wurmnest and remastered by Rashad Becker. Anyone with even the faintest interest in out sound, headmelt synthetics, harsh noise or anything resembling experimental music, this is as essential as they come - utterly mindboggling, timeless material!
Assembling Xenakis takes time, dedication and patience - and we have to thank zeitkratzer director Reinhold Friedl for putting in the hours here. This fifth set from the comprehensive "Electroacoustic Works" collection concentrates on Greek composer Xenakis's work in the early 1990s, as he began to focus obsessively on sound synthesis and computer-controlled generative music. It's some of the harshest, most absorbing material he created, and these new mixes and masters allow us to experience the tracks as they've rarely been heard before.
'Taurhiphanie' is a lurching synthetic experiment that disorientates the listener with pitch-fucked wobbles and sheets of glassy drone - anyone into shepard tone business or Florian Hecker's synapse-tickling experiments really should spend some time with it. Fifteen minute epic 'Voyage Absolu Des Unari Vers Andromède' falls even further into the abys - Xenakis disrupts his tonal experimentation with near-rhythmic tides of low-end movement.
These sounds are expanded into fractal mayhem on 'Gendy 3', with almost 20 minutes of synthesized chirps that flock into dread clouds of unsettling vibration. It's tempting to call it industrial - Xenakis's use of electronics seemingly nods to certain corners of the industrial spectrum - but none of these works ever fall into a pattern. Just as you think you've got them sussed, they veer into fresh sonic territory, guided by foghorn blasts. There's nothing else like it - it's as foundational as it is puzzling, rewarding, and completely enthralling.
A seminal, evergreen concrète classic, originally commissioned by the Shah of Iran to mark the 2500 year anniversary of Iran’s founding by Cyrus, Iannis Xenakis’ Persepolis masterpiece re-enters orbit ready to stun a whole new generation of keener listeners. We don’t want to over egg it, but this is one of the most incredible pieces of electronic music ever made! Now remastered by Rashad Becker
“After “La Légende d’Eer” in 2016, the PERIHEL series presents one of the milestones of electroacoustic music: IANNIS XENAKIS’ mindblowing 54-minutes oeuvre “Persepolis”, mixed from the original 8 track tapes by MARTIN WURMNEST and mastered / cut by RASHAD BECKER.
“Persepolis” is the longest electroacoustic composition by IANNIS XENAKIS (1922-2001) who ranks among the most influential 20th century avantgarde composers. Commissioned by the Persian Shah, the piece was part of a multimedia performance – XENAKIS’ so-called “polytopes” – which premiered in 1971 in Shiraz-Persepolis (Iran) as a performance including light-tracks, laser beams, groups of children walking around with torches and 59 loudspeakers to project the music in an open-air situation. XENAKIS had realized “Persepolis” on 8-track analogue tape in the Studio Acusti in Paris and released a stereo reduction on vinyl in the famous Philips series “Prospective 21e Siècle” in 1972, adding the new subtitle “We bear the light of the earth”, his most hymnal title ever.
Out of print for decades now, the LP became – especially the Japanese edition from 1974 – one of the most expensive collector’s item of electroacoustic music. There were some later CD versions with different durations – too long due to a wrong sample rate, others shortened by 3 minutes due to other reasons. The PERIHEL series now presents a new version: mixed from the original (!) master 8 track tapes by longtime zeitkratzer sound engineer MARTIN WURMNEST and mastered by RASHAD BECKER at D&M, Berlin – the same experts who had already taken care of the 2016 KARLRECORDS release of “La Légende d’Eer”, another milestone composition among the works of the Greek-French avant-garde composer.”
Living legend of UK industrial music, Simon Crab (Bourbons Qualk) churns up a variegated electro-dub sound on the 3rd LP under his own name since returning from over a decade in the cold.
Co-founding member of inspirational post-industrial outfit Bourbonese Qualk, Crab has been key to a continuum of energies that spans original industrial-power electronics and thru to ambient ethnotribalism, early hardcore techno, and myriad strands in between. Originally from Southport and Liverpool, and later based in a South London squat where he was a lynchpin of anarchist movements in the ‘80s and beyond, Crab is one of those figures without whom UK underground music might be very different. ‘Invisible Cities’ for Leeds’ Space Ritual label is a characteristically wayward but coherent new collection from his studio, now based in Hastings, where he continues to pursue electroid gremlins down the wormhole, with a particular dub and spatio-textural leaning and the tang of far-flung tunings that has informed much his work since the late ‘70s.
Consistent with his politics, the aesthetic of ‘Invisble Cities’ is close as you’ll get to original ‘80s post-industrial explorations. Ksenia Lukyanova Emelyanova voices the opening ambience of ‘Headless Day’ shades away from likes of O Yuki Conjugate’s “dirty ambient” style, and the industro-dub ov ’Stack Interchange’ resonates his early work and links with Muslimgauze, one of many artists hosted on Crab’s crucial label, Recluse Organisation. The title tune echoes early ‘90s squat party backroom sounds, while the glitching Eastern-sounding strings of ‘Edgelands’ hail his later fascinations with non-domestic UK styles, while the eldritch whirligig of ‘What remain’ plays deep into them.
The set vacillates these interests between Indonesian gamelan rhythmelody on ‘Phantom Power’ and sozzled electro-dub of ‘Kodokushi’ , or the workshop clang of ‘Invaders’ into cinematic scene of ‘Thirst For a Beautiful Mouth’ with a rare, sprawling vision that wears its politics inherently; shoring up in ‘Yarlswood’ so named after the immigration removal centre and no doubt making his sympathies for the detainees and feelings on Tory policy plangently plain to hear.
Shed’s most up-for-it alias lunges for peak times with its first breakbeat hardcore onslaughts since 2020
Throwing us back to an utterly deadly Shed DJ set that we helped programme at Berghain in 2013, where the German producer/DJ ran the room ragged with high-velocity ‘ardkore missiles, his 5th Hoover session takes no prisoners with the A-side’s cut of reticulated breaks and adrenalized synth pressure in nuttiest e-f-f-e-c-t. If the cowie jaws aren’t going for this one the crowd need to go to bed!
His B-side simmers the pressure to more haunting, but still wide-eyed, style. Siren-call synth motifs loom over brittler breaks and choppy kicks, with classic ‘80s boogie-soul vocal and lush pads to discipline your swing right on the cusp of frantic and eyes-shut blissed. Chef’s kiss!
A combined reissue of Armenian master duduk player Dijvan Gasparyan's debut solo album ‘I Will Not Be Sad In This World' and ‘Moon Shines At Night’ from 1993, recorded with guitarist Michael Brook.
Whether you've heard the name Dijvan Gasparyan or not, there's a good chance you've heard his playing. The Armenian duduk player died last year at 92, and was not only legendary in his home country, but across the world. He's collaborated most visibly with Peter Gabriel and David Sylvian, but most non Armenians have probably heard his music thanks to his soundtrack work: Gasparyan contributed to a huge amount of Hollywood scores, from Ridley Scott's "Gladiator" and Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ" to Alex Proyas' "The Crow". "I Will Not Be Sad in this World" is the musician's debut full-length, and arrived only a few years after he had won his fourth UNESCO worldwide competition. It was originally released on the Soviet label Melodiya, and reached the rest of the world after Brian Eno caught a performance in Moscow in 1988, releasing it on his Opal/Land Records imprint the following year. Gasparyan dedicated the re-release to the victims and survivors of a catastrophic earthquake that hit Armenia in December 1988, bringing attention not only on the music of the region but its plight.
Fittingly, given his later work in cinema, Gasparyan was initially drawn to the duduk thanks to his interest in movies. While his dad had played duduk and taught a young Gasparyan how to play, he was most inspired by the music that accompanied films he saw at a local theater. He would visit regularly and befriended older musicians who taught him circular breathing techniques - a crucial process for advanced playing - and eventually invited him into their group. After performing with the Tatoul Altounian National Song and Dance Ensemble and studying at the Yerevan Conservatoire, he joined the Yerevan Philharmonic Orchestra, eventually becoming a professor at the school. This first selection of his recorded music then was a chance to break out of his home country and reach untrained ears, and it quickly established him as the world's go-to duduk player.
Listening now it's easy to hear how affecting these sounds must have been. Gasparyan's reeded melancholia still sounds breathtakingly beautiful, but it's somewhat familiar now thanks to its ubiquitous usage in Hollywood. The Armenian maestro's pop collaborations were important, but his contributions to established Hollywood canon fodder like "Gladiator" - where the ancient sound of the duduk represents a history central and Northern Europeans can't lay claim to - have made it synonymous with a certain mystical pre-modern past. Training the ear to hear past this usage though allows us to hear the nuance of Gasparyan's performance; he's able to imbue his careful, soulful compositions and performance with the sadness of an embattled region that all too often (even now) is ignored by the rest of the world. At times it sounds like a voice crying out across history, weeping, lamenting and praising the resilience of culture to survive through the eras.
Djivan Gasparyan's second album was produced by Brian Eno collaborator Michael Brook, who struck up a lengthy creative partnership with the duduk legend that resulted in a run of incredible material. Brook's recording is the icing on the cake here; Gasparyan's material was already heartbreaking and his playing is unmatched, and what makes "Moon Shines at Night" so crucial is that the physicality of Gasparyan's performance is finally completely chewable. Early evidence comes with 'Sayat Nova', a track named after one of Armenia's best loved poets - the subject of Sergei Parajanov's cult movie "The Color of Pomegranates". The character of the duduk is completely evident here; a double-reeded instrument, it's capable of sustaining a continuous drone (providing the player can master the circular breathing technique) while simultaneously being used to play evocative "vocal" lead sounds. And Brook's recording - almost without reverb and certainly with no additional mixing trickery - lets us bask in the instrument's mournful romance.
On '7th December 1988', a track memorializing the day Armenia was rocked by a disastrous earthquake, Gasparyan alternates between duduk and his own vocals, highlighting the interchangeability of each sound. The duduk's character is already so remarkably human, and playing with illusion in this way, Gasparyan only makes the connection even more obvious, and the sadness even more tangible. It's a technique he revisits on the album's slow closing track 'Mother of Mine', a piece that will leave you in no doubt of Gasparyan's rare talent. So, so good.
Loraine James sinks her teeth into Julius Eastman's hallowed, elusive canon on "Building Something Beautiful For Me", responding to works like 'Crazy N*****' and 'Femenine' with her usual sublimation of horizontal textures and sandblasted sci-fi beats.
Already this year James has pivoted to fuzzed-aut ambience and fridge-fresh jungle with her Ghostly-primed Whatever The Weather debut, and now she's taken another about turn, appraising the output of one of the 20th century's most important composers. The project came about thanks to the Phantom Limb label, who had an existing relationship with Eastman's estate. Fans of James' music, they wondered what she would put together if she was granted access to the archive, so she was passed a selection of Eastman's original compositions, the "Gay Guerilla" biography, and transcribed MIDI stems, and was asked to respond to the material however she saw fit.
James lends a sensitive ear to her process, using samples, themes and motifs to craft an album that's unmistakably her own, but rooted in Eastman's revolutionary queer, Black artistic universe. She dissolves the essence of 'Crazy N****', one of Eastman's most notorious compositions, into 'The Perception of Me', a lengthy meditation that cascades from chiming, beatless ambience into chilly, dissonant dub-techno, spiked with James' unmistakable rhythmic tics. 'Femenine' is engineered into a sprawling, poetic soundscape, assembled around James' own vocals: "You say that I choose to, you say that I want," she chants like a mantra over slippery synthesized chords and bells snipped from Eastman's original.
Eastman's 1981 composition 'The Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc' forms the basis for James' title track, and marks the moment where she leans into Eastman's material more completely. Here we get to hear sampled strings chattering through the haze of James' pristine synths - it's a charming listening experience, and a smart, unexpected project for James.
Sonically, her music is worlds apart from Eastman's abrasive avant-garde compositions, but philosophically there's an unbreakable bond. James' Black, queer reality is separated from Eastman's by a few decades and an ocean, but the vibrations are unmistakably harmonic.
Josh Eustis and Turk Dietrich reconvene for a second album-length exercise in dynamic repetition as Second Woman.
Expanding on the immersive dub techno/electronica cross pollinations of their self-titled debut, Second Woman draw the listener even deeper into the realm of twisted digital production on ‘S/W’. If Jlin’s killer Second Woman refix on their recent Spools EP hipped you to their shared interest in footwork, then this second LP explores it more explicitly through their own creative lens. Throughout the album, Dietrich and Eustis excel in their ability to conjure sharply-defined rhythmic patterns that levitate craftily like a mythical Wing-Chun master.
This knottiness is apparent from the off, teasing out intricate synthesis in stereo formation to a billowing backdrop of spacious dub techno textures on opener / like a loose-fingered Vegas card dealer. // offers a more unpredictable approach, skittering chords dragged by the tails through a forlorn digital miasma. Both /// and //// offer a glimpse at footwork through Second Woman’s eyes, the latter a real highlight of the LP thanks to those abstracted, metallic percussive licks.
////\ sees them forgo the riddims in favour of a brief exercise in brain-matter scooping ambience, before swerving into another LP standout in the shape of ////\\, a clicky electro-dub reduction that will hook Autechre advocates and fans of the Cabaret label alike.
RIYL Mark Fell, Snd, Gabor Lazar, Jlin, NHK'Koyxen.
Wiry electro muscle from Manc lynchpin Henzo - head of the Heathens events and alum of DJ Python’s Worldwide - coiling two dynamos for Peder Mannerfelt’s label
Tessellating sharply with the label’s exacting produktion standards, Henzo balances classic function with up-to-the-minute form on both counts. ‘Are You With Me This Time’ gears up with stinging, pugilist, shadowboxing step; all swooping whipsmart subs under cattle prod drum jabs and a tweaky nose-drip synth tang to make you clam for it. Dropping down a gear to sleazier mode recalling Autonomic era Boddika, ‘Is Find Never Mind’ swivels torsos on a clipped swang detailed with insectoid noise and gloopier synth texture that slosh and writhe inside the ride.
Engrossing, explorative electro-acoustic systems musique by Belgian pioneer Léo Kupper - immersive structures that deeply mess with proprioceptive senses thru stereo diffusion of myriad chattering and choral voices and fathomless, arcing tonal contours recalling Roland Kayn, Jaap Vink, or the otherworldy works on Metaphon
“Leo Kupper was born in Nidrum, Hautes Fagnes (Eastern Belgium) on the 16th of April 1935. He studied musicology at the Liège Conservatory, then became the assistant of Henri Pousseur who, in 1958, had just founded the Apelac Studio in Brussels. Kupper started to work on his first pieces there, but he would finalize them only upon putting together his own studio in 1967: the Studio de Recherches et de Structurations Electroniques Auditives (which means 'studio of audio electronic research & structuring'). That is where he would compose, to this day, over forty works, most of them on instruments of his own design. In the '70s and '80s, he built a series of Sound Domes briefly established in Rome, Linz, Venice, and Avignon), places where every sound, every phonem uttered by the listening audience was transformed by hundreds of loudspeakers of various sizes organized in a dome shape. This device transformed sounds through space AND time: something said could be morphed into another sound hours, days, perhaps years later. Leo had envisioned that a device like his, a place for contemplation, would be much-needed in cities where Nature had been evacuated. In the late '70s, after discovering Iranian music master Hussein Malek, Kupper became one of the very few Western virtuosos of the santur. His first pieces were released by Deutsche Grammophon and, later, Igloo. His latest works have been released by the New York-based label Pogus.
The GAME machine
In 1961, having terminated his musicology studies, Leo Kupper left Liège for Brussels. By that time, centres for music research such as those in Cologne, Paris and Milan had already produced works of experimental music, where pioneers were forging new and diverse routes in electronic music, 'musique concrète' and electro-vocal music. The GAME machine - Générateur Automatique de Musique Electronique (Automatic Generator of Electronic Music) was constructed during such period and spirit of renewal and technical exploration. The GAME consisted of a collection of variable 'sonic cells' sensitive to modulations of positive and negative voltages and programmable manually through the aid of colour-coded cables. Complex electronic loops and sound from loudspeakers and from microphone pick-ups were then either recorded by tape-machines or performed and interpreted by musicians who opened automatic channels, thus triggering automatic sound to exit the speakers. This in turn penetrated the machines by means of microphones and was replayed. Here then was an entirely new way of playing a musical instrument and how the works here were composed and performed.”
Ekin Fil conjures a masterful 11th album of semi-acoustic, Grouper-esque shadowplay a decade after her prized debut LP.
The Grouper comparison is inescapable with Ekin’s music, but on ‘Dora Agora’ she transcends that yoke with a filigree cats cradle of strums and echoic vox interwoven by spectral webs of organ, synth, and electro-acoustic shimmers. Ekin brings a certain drive to these songs, which surely hark to her earliest work, but also betray lessons learned in the interim, embellishing her shoegaze inspirations with threads of forlorn cinematic romance and iridescent greyscale, indie-pop woe to swoon-worthy effect.
Beginning humbly on ‘Here’, synths colour the space around her choral plangency in ‘Dora’ and it’s only on ‘Ghost Boy’ that her signature strums, sting scrapes perfectly intact, come to stroke the skin with an achingly detuned touch evoking romantic quease in ‘Buried Again’ and a portent threat on ‘Givin In’. At its core, ‘Agora’ recalls the arcane dream-pop of Broadcast as much as Grouper, and it’s hard not to get lost in the sublime darkness of ‘Bulutlar Kuşlar’, while ‘Yo Feelings’ resolves the record with a sense of abandon wallowing in sublime melancholy.
Georgian artist Rezo Glonti coaxes a discrete, star-gazing suite of electronics from the Teenage Engineering OP-1 synth/sampler/controller for One Instrument’s conceptual series
Formerly found on Kate Carr’s Flaming Pines label and occasionally on Tbilisi’s Mutant Radio, Glonti’s work focusses on space and texture, with a certain sort of Middle eastern/Eurasian tang to his tunings helping to define this one. The 8 works are succinct and elegant snapshots of his tactful touch with the machine, with a melancholy, nostalgic allure that may help lull eyelids to half mast and induce sanguine states of mind. Initially awning and cosmic in ‘I Guess It’s Not Yet Li’, he projects into soothing, oceanic space on ‘Pastiche’, and follows melodic whims to the waltzing and iridescent ‘Allegedly’, tempering he flow with lullaby-like tones in ‘Lina’ and tending to the flipside of that feeling in the brooding dread of ‘Net Variations’.
There’s perhaps a clear nod to AFX’s SAWII in ‘random Requiem’ and the choral bliss out ‘Sacrificial Anode’ that comes to resolve in Twin Peaks-y intrigue on ‘Dr. Eric Last’.
Utterly fierce and beautiful Kurdish folk and Persian classical performed on tanbur and percussion in the mountains of Iran, showcasing Mohammad Mostafa Heydarian & Behzad Varesteh’s relationship with the landscape and tradition around them on their first vinyl release.
Stemming from a cult tape release last year, ’Songs of Horaman’ centres on the spellbinding tanbur recordings of Heydarian, the son of an instrument builder from Kermanshah, a city in the western mountain range of Iran that the record is dedicated to. In fiery cascades of thrilling rhythmelody sometimes joined by thunderous drums, as well as more romantic solo pieces, the recordings display Heydarian’s feelings on his homeland and provenance, bringing a distinct passion to his improvisations on traditional maqams, or melodies, and the traditional Persian tasnif, or ballad.
We’re frankly floored by the energy and verve of these recordings, ranging from extended instrumental storytelling styles to intense and relatively concise works that add up to paint a vivid portrait of the historic region which borders modern day Iraq, and has demarcated Persia’s natural defences for millennia. Two enrapturing, durational improvisations bookend the set, with ‘Improvisation Based on Shushtari’ introducing Heydarian’s thrillingly spiky technique, before longtime collaborator and family friend Varesteh joins in on thunder rolls of percussion recalling Mohammad Reza Mortazavi’s tombak improvs, and they reprise the formula with gripping momentum in closer ‘Improvisation Based on Sahari Suite and Sama-e Sejaran Suite’.
In its mid section Heydarian boggles with the fleeting quick/slow solo course of ‘Tarz Suite’, with ‘Bayeh Bayeh Suite’ leaving his pal to solo on percussion before knitting in folk-dance dervish. It’s a wonderful expo of timeless tradition channelled with a contemporary intensity and vitality, recorded right on the biting point for optimal immersion.
Visionary composer/improvisor/engineer O’Rourke and estimable pianist Di Domenico reprise a brand of high minimalist electro-acoustic enchantment on a beautiful 2nd venture with Die Schachtel - RIYL Charlemagne Palestine, Éliane Radigue, The Necks.
Taking flight in pursuit of the heady ideas first outlined on 2015’s ‘Arco’, the duo are joined by Eiko Ishibashi and Tatsuhiro Yamamoto on their searching, day-into-night follow-up. Each player brings an enormous wealth of experience and fine-honed intuition to their part, with O’Rourke’s wisdom gleaned from some 30 odd years operating across noise rock, post-rock, folk, and electro-acoustic fields, balanced by Di Domenico’s singular focus on the keys, where he finds worlds of whorled harmonic colour in the notes and the spaces between them as a result of decades developing his striking solo practice between improvised and electro-acoustic realms.
Their two new works are quietly majestic, pulling at the harness of the imagination with a soaring first part that centres around Di Domenico’s free-flowing, expressive keys. Recalling the heart-in-mouth appeal of Charlemagne Palestine’s eternal harmonic lift, Di Domenico’s insistent repetitions elegantly elide with O’Rourke’s slide guitar, Yamamoto’s dusted snare rolls and glints of Eiko’s flute that temper the piece in the latter stages as the keys begin to waver in blissed dissonance.
Where the A-side feels like taking acid on a long balmy day in the country, the B-side draws in like a lingering, reflective afterimage on the back of eyelids. There’s a certain Éliane Radigue quality to the combo of Di Domenico and O’Rourke’s hallucinatory process here, and maybe even the jazz-bluesy wooze of The Necks’ Tony Buck, as the tone alters to deepest indigo-blacks and iridescent starlight with a subliminal grip on the senses.
Our appreciation for Pepijn Caudron's ghoulishly absorbing music as Kreng is no secret - 2009's L'Autopsie Phenomenale De Dieu and Grimoire are both classics of the genre.
But those two records, it turns out, are the tip of a particularly chilling iceberg: as a long-time member of renowned theatre troupe Abattoir Ferme, he's been crafting suitably arcane gothic overtures for theatre performances for several years now. The best of these works from 2007-2011 are here collected by Miasmah across four LPs in one box set, and it's an engrossing, disturbing haul indeed.
'Monkey' features two movements that ratchet up the tension before exploding: Part 1's oppressive dronescape is gradually carved up to shreds by martial snare rolls, and part 2's industrial drift breaks out into an unexpected bout of EBM-techno. 'Tourniquet' showcases a more genteel, classically informed side of Caudron's sound, with the influence of Badalamenti and Ligeti looming large, while 'Snuff' is a veritable symphony of undead marching band themes, swelling Caretaker strings and blood-curdling foley effects right out of the Berberian Sound Studio.
Part 1 of 'Mythobarbital' is masterful, literally begging to soundtrack some impossibly stylish, ultraviolent modern-day giallo, while the distant vocal phantoms and sparse, skeletal drum hits of Part 2 make us think of Lustmord, Aphex's SAW II and even Raime.
A magnificent set.
Berlin's Yair Elazar Glotman follows albums on 130701, Subtext and Deutsche Grammophon with "an introspective dive into memory" using soaring vocals, ambient drones and glossy, cinematic strings.
It makes perfect sense that Yair Elazar Glotman was working so closely with composer Jóhann Jóhannsson before he tragically died. Glotman contributed to "Mandy" and co-composed "Last and First Men", and his work on "Speculative Memories" feels spiritually linked to this work. His inspiration for this album comes from his memories of growing up in a small village in Galilee; now a German citizen based in Berlin, his memories feel abstract and elastic. Immersing himself in feelings and triggering himself with tastes, smells and sounds, he pushed himself to create worlds and moods for each track, recording instruments and matching them with field recordings that mirror childhood experiences, like the howling of jackals and dogs.
From beginning to end, the album hovers around a particularly dark, cinematic mood. It's not a million miles away from Deaf Center or Svarte Greiner's low-light compositions (it's no surprise that Glotman has released on the Miasmah imprint), but Glotman's approach is more restrained and more academic. The most impressive moments are when he works with vocals, like the album's moving finale 'A Storm', that sounds like ecclesiastic power ambient.
Brilliantly unclassifiable ambient midi-jazz salvo from Brazil’s Gabriel Guerra aka Guerrinha - member of PAN/Future Times' Lifted ensemble and lynchpin of the Rio De Janeiro underground. Very highly recommended noir sleaze x fantasy lounge music somewhere on the spectrum between Gigi Masin, Spencer Clark, 0PN, Flanger and Koji Kondo’s iconic video game soundtracks.
Deployed as the third release on the expertly curated confuso editions, ‘Cidade Grande’ sees Guerra unfurl an immersive and deeply enveloping variant of lounge jazz noir intersecting Japanese city pop, classic video game soundtracks and future-primitive kosmische signatures in a way that defies easy categorisation. Guerrinha colours outside the lines in swirling, exquisitely trippy designs that are as easy on the ears are they are hard to fully fathom over a single sitting.
Mirroring a strain of jazz music’s evolution from sophisticate lounge soundtrack to more psychedelic lustre when musicians found acid and Brazilian styles in the ‘60s, Guerrinha slants the paradigm thru the prism of late ‘80s midi with a c.21st suss that coolly echoes hauntological takes from Spencer Clark & James Ferraro to Leyland Kirby, and Eli Keszler’s electro-acoustic jazz proprioceptions, as much as emotive Kenji Kawai soundtracks. There's a complete lack of cynicism in his approach, and dense, hypnotic tracks like 'Venda Casada Village' and the moving 'Kafta Hoje' sound so completely straight-faced it's impossible not to respect the flex.
It’s a hugely trippy listen, at once calming and eerily evocative, with a wipe-clean palette of deft midi orchestrations that conjure flashbacks to soundtracks for everything from Twin Peaks to Sharky & George or Patlabor, but with more opalescent depth, dancing around motifs in holographic designs that mark the uncanny valley of perception.
Truly one of the oddest, most beguiling records we've heard in months, no doubt.
Hot-to-trot, Suicide-style and sleazy electrabeat wave functions from Melvin Oliphant III (Traxx) and Manie Sans Délire’s Tsampikos Fronas (June) and Trenton Chase
Dispensed by the lesser-spotted Kode label, ‘Trespass’ alloys the three Chicago & Athens-hailing producers in contrasting forms of retro-vintage club gear with satisfyingly raw and cruddy production values that give each part a distinctive bite and propulsion.
‘A Conviction of Fantasy’ is patently inspired by Suicide’s pioneering late ’70s styles with a drily spunky combo of sputtering drum machine step, droll vocals and wheezing synths bound to conduct flouncy goth dancers and ‘floor prowlers. ‘Trespass’ however is more skooled in early ‘80s electro ov Cabaret Voltaire or John Carpenter, pairing sleazier vox and rudely snake-hipped groove for the heroic peacocks on a mission.
ZamZam Sounds pick up UK’s J:Kenzo on a high-velocity, deep steppers vector .
His 3rd shot for the label since 2016 heralds the original UK mutation of barrelling steppers motion on ‘Traverse’, rolling out infectious, relentless bass pressure and nimbly pounding percussion with the sort of mean momentum that sprang from sound systems such as Aba Shanti-I and Iration Steppers since the late ‘80s and deep forward, here gilded with a lustre of ‘90s technoid synth pads. ‘Deuce’ follows to show how that sound fed into UKG and proto-dubstep by the end of the ‘90s and around turn of the millennium with likes of Benny Ill’s Horsepower Productions, dipping off the beat with a craftier, sexier 2-step swang on the cusp of dark garage.
Near 50 year first reissue of obscure Cape Jazz heat by one of South Africa’s brilliant units; practically unavailable until now, and sure to find shelf space next to your Horace Tapscott and Ndiko Xaba & The Natives sides
“‘Die-hard fans of South African jazz speak about The Jazz Clan in hushed tones. One of the dozens of South African groups who styled themselves as ‘jazz dignitaries’ — like the Jazz Giants, the Jazz Ambassadors, or the Jazz Ministers, for instance — their two widely separated studio albums for Gallo (Dedication and Makwenkwe, released in 1973 and 1976 respectively) are extremely hard to find, and were never repressed after their initial runs. Until now their work has graced neither re-release nor compilation. But they were no also-rans. They may have left a small recorded footprint, but it was an impressive one, epitomised by their hard-swinging 1973 debut, Dedication – a tough, swinging soul-jazz set with distinct African touches which is counted by those in the know as among the best South African jazz recordings of the era.
‘Once you dig down into the history of the group, this is no surprise: the players that comprised the Jazz Clan were veterans. And they thought big – their first incarnation during the 1960s had been as a 16-piece, and they had held down a residency at one of Nelson Mandela’s regular haunts, the Planet Hotel in Fordsburg. The original leader, drummer Gordon ‘Micky’ Mfandu, had been a regular on the Johannesburg jazz scene since the early 1960s and had recorded with figures including Gideon Nxumalo, and the famous Blue Notes; along with bassist Mongezi Velelo he had also been a member of the revered Soul Giants unit. Baritone player Cornelius Khumalo had also played with Chris McGregor and the Blue Notes in the pit band of the musical play Mr Paljas, and had also recorded with township legend Zakes Nkosi. Also in the line-up, and handling most writing duties on this disc, was the great trumpeter Peter Segona — a quicksilver hornsman, Segona later sought exile in Europe, where he played with musical luminaries across the continent including Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, Cymande, and Manu Dibango.
‘By the 1970s Mfandu was dead, murdered in Soweto, and the group had consolidated as a septet — the late drummer is memorialised here on the closer. South African jazz was moving toward electrified funk and bump, and the new township style of Dollar Brand was just around the corner. But Dedication captures the acoustic jazz sound of the early 1970s in its pomp – a handful of tightly wound songs jostling for space, blending uptempo soul-jazz sensibilities with Latin influences and pronounced township jazz accents, the latter especially audible in Dimpie Tshabalala’s piano vamps, Jeff Mpete’s pattering hi-hat emphases, and the unmistakably South African swagger and dip of the horns on cuts like Rabothata. It is music on the brink of a transition, looking ahead but still dedicated to the sound of the golden years, and it could have been made nowhere else on earth but in Soweto.’”
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Lucrecia Dalt, Mary Lattimore, Félicia Atkinson, Christina Vantzou, Benjamin Lew & Steven Brown, among others, reprise the exploratory ambient/neo-classical spirit of Crammed Discs’ Made To Measure comps for a new decade
Calling in the cream of the contemporary crop, Crammed join the dots between original ambient experimenters and their aesthetic descendants with a finely plotted compilation who components that exceeds the sum of its parts. Primed for guiding your dreams and turning inner sanctums into fantasy settings, ‘Fictions’ weaves a course from piquant, mercurial modular synth plucks and bells in Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s ‘Waterways’ to the sylvan jazz-noir sublime of original Tuxedomoon members and ambient pioneers Lew & Brown via nuanced strains of impressionistic, storytelling music.
Christina Vantzou is on hand with a meld of field recordings, subtle electronics and quizzical solo keys in ‘Museum Critic’, and ECM’s Nils Petter Molvær seduces with lonely sax bleat on ‘Ne pas se puncher au dehors’, with South & Central American trio Lucretia Dalt, Matias Aguayo & Camille Mandoki supply a enchanted highlight. Inne Eysermans curiously recalls her near namesake Ann Eysermans on the concrète enigma ‘Blue’, and Felicia Atkinson can be relied upon for the chamber baroque/electro-acoustic intrigue of ‘The Sun, Perhaps Three of Them’.
The third collaborative album by Japanese free music provocateur Keiji Haino and expressionist metal trio SUMAC.
"Haino and the three members of SUMAC navigate a series of spontaneous compositions in front of an attentive audience, with no prior discussions or planning for the direction of the music. While all four participants agree that the session documents a particularly circuitous journey from discord to synchronicity, they also agree that the recording finds the quartet navigating the push-and-pull of creative interplay with bolder strides and stronger chemistry. Recorded on May 21, 2019, at the Astoria Hotel on Vancouver BC’s notorious East Hastings Street as a one-off performance during a short North American tour for Haino, the six compositions showcase a musical unit bouncing ideas off of one another, mining a trove of textures and timbres from their armory to buoy and bolster these living and breathing pieces. Like so many albums documenting free music, the thrill here is in the tight rope walk, the wavering moments of uncertainty, and the ecstatic moments of shared brilliance.
The album opens with “When logic rises morality falls Logic and morality in Japanese are but one character different,” a pensive exploration of melody spearheaded by Aaron Turner’s fractured arpeggiated guitar chords. It’s a song of harmonious tension, with Haino providing melodic counterpoints on his guitar while the rhythm section ebbs and flows in the background, occasionally hammering out a punctuation mark or shaking out a warning rattle. Drummer Nick Yacyshyn and bassist Brian Cook step to the forefront on track two, “A shredded coiled cable within this cable the sincerity could not be contained.” For the first two-and-a-half minutes, it sounds like Yacyshyn is beating some electric beast, with sporadic drum bombardments corresponding to the howls and groans of a square-wave throated animal. Blasts of guitar static join the fray until everything gravitates to a magmatic center. It’s a scorched earth principle heard on their debut studio collaboration American Dollar Bill – Keep Facing Sideways, You’re Too Hideous to Look at Face On (Thrill Jockey Records, 2018), but the quartet has found a broader shared language since their first joint venture. Look no further than the title track of Into this juvenile apocalypse our golden blood to pour let us never to hear an ensemble who can wrangle a wide emotional bandwidth out of guitar squall. Like a sonic equivalent to a magic eye poster, the attentive listener who allows their focus to hover just above the roaring banks of distortion will see unexpected dimensions and vistas beneath the seemingly monochromatic patterns.
The tension reaches its apex with “Because the evidence of a fact is valued over the fact itself truth??? becomes fractured,” where the ensemble percolates around a hushed guitar drone. Ripples of drums, auxiliary guitar trills, and Haino’s spontaneous incantations and proclamations give the track a narrative arc. Tension yields to release on “That fuzz pedal you planted in your throat, its screw has started to come loose Your next effects pedal is up to you do you have it ready?” as the ensemble unleashes the kind of guitar mangling and rhythmic battery one would expect from the pairing of Keiji Haino and SUMAC. The album wraps up with the wounded dirge “That ‘regularity’ of yours, can you throw it further than me? And I don’t mean ‘discarding’ it,” where Haino’s gale force guitar blankets Turner’s lugubrious de-tuned bottom string bombardments and Yacyshyn’s drum lashings.
As with American Dollar Bill and Even for just the briefest moment, Into this juvenile apocalypse our golden blood to pour let us never is an unfiltered and undoctored document of a specific moment in time. There are equipment failures. There are ideas left dangling in the ether. There are the technical handicaps of recording in a dingy hotel dive bar in a bad neighborhood as opposed to the optimal acoustics of a proper recording studio. But there is also an electricity in the air, and a continuous sense of creative elation and goosebump-inducing inspiration. It’s an hour-long exercise in seeking out happy accidents and reveling in the wreckage."
Originally released in 1979, The Raincoats' debut album gets another reissue, this time remastered and via the band's own We ThRee imprint.
The pioneering, all-female band assured their place in the pantheon of British independent music with this, their self-titled debut record in 1979. Co-produced by the band with Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis and Mayo Thompson (Pere Ubu, Red Krayola), it arrived in parallel to another all-female punk precedent, The Slits to provide a more melodic, less snotty strain of post punk aesthetics for many listeners including Kim Gordon and Kurt Cobain, who would later write sleeve notes on their reissues and often speak of The Raincoats’ influence over their own music.
Tracks like 'Fairytale In The Supermarket', 'No Side To Fall In' and the gloriously weird 'The Void' still sound terrific, and the band's notorious cover of The Kinks' 'Lola' remains inspired, reproducing the original affectionately and accurately, albeit with a heap of ramshackle instrumentation. Co-produced by Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis and The Red Krayola's Mayo Thompson, this record is steeped in history, and its immediacy, vitality and all-round inspirational qualities have lost none of their impact.
The Sea And Cake's Sam Prekop continues his voyage into experimental electronics, using a Prophet 5 and beefy modular setup to eke out where Chicago might fit into the kosmische synth canon. RIYL Tangerine Dream, Jim O'Rourke, Keith Fullerton Whitman.
Since 2010's "Old Punch Card", Sam Prekop has set down his guitar in favor of a modular synth system that's been central to albums like 2015's "The Republic" and 2020's "Comma". While he's still best known for his influential presence in Chicago's 1990s post-rock landscape, alongside Tortoise and Chicago Underground Duo, he's now built up a solid reputation in the electronic realm - and "The Sparrow" might be his most daring record to date.
On the 17-minute title track, Prekop fiddles with rhythm, melody and space in a way that's no longer divided from his Chicago roots - at times it sounds like Jim O'Rourke jamming with Raymond Scott, rough edged and experimental but soothing too. Prekop's other tracks are more compact but just as engaging: 'Step and Stair' is ominous and stark, and the clear highlight 'Fall is Farewell' (influenced by Michael Smalls' soundtrack to "Klute") is a rainy, cinematic earworm that's as immaculate as Tangerine Dream's Michael Mann soundtracks. The album ends on its most cheerful note, with the playful (and certainly Radiophonic Workshop-inspired) 'Palm'.
Kyoto's Rilla turns in a second EP for SVBKVLT, packaging grimy breakbeat experimentation with noise-fucked deconstructed club variations. Bundled with remixes from Nahash, Bitter Babe and Kadapat.
A few moments into opening track 'Saisei' and we had a moment of clarity - as the tape-saturated voices faded away and the rolling dubstep bass took a backseat, the pacy 2-step growl began to sound just like 'Has It Come To This?' from DJ Scud and I-Sound's epochal illbient tome "Amen Fire". Somehow it's a reference that's cycled back to relevance and sounds directly in line with Rilla's cacophony of deranged noise and subversive low-end. Elsewhere, the Japanese producer drips squelchy, acidic symphonics over clattering beats ('Aoi') and offers a high-NRG club deconstruction ('Kiten'), but excels with final track 'Kiuchi' forming fresh rhythms from the torched embers of slow-mo techno and trap.
Nahash's remix of 'Aoi' gives it a jump-up thrust, and Nick León collaborator Bitter Babe brings the dembow throb out of 'Magatama', but it's Kadapat's remix of 'Kiten' that has us hot and bothered. A polyrhythmic slusher that's all soft power, it's made up of cavernous circuit kicks that roll into the darkness until they're lost completely.