Techno’s answer to Basquiat scrawls freehand bangers and a smudged 16 minute scape on his first mission since those badass releases for DDS a few years ago
Yielding his first new material for a bit, the title of ’Str8 Crooked’ perfectly sums up Madteo’s loose-limbed irregularities squashed within. Picking up where he left off with the skewed techno boogies of the ‘Dropped Out Sunshine’, 'teo reaches deep in the top pocket for the wickedly scrappy log drums and rug-shredding syncopations of the title track before evening the keel with the rough hewn heft of his slompy jakbeat drums and unexpected pass-outs in ‘Build Back better Sweatshops.’
However, his magick best comes to the fore on ‘Episcopi Vagantes’ as he sprawls out over its 16 minute canvas with aerosolised pads, scribbly electronic voices and gasping dub chords that sound best if you take a step back, and squint a little, to properly take in its gently delirious form.
Tip, innit just!
Vinyl treasure. A heartbreakingly beautiful, eerie elegy to a tragic event, Gavin Bryars’ magnum opus - a pinnacle of the c.20th classical canon - is finally available on vinyl again via Superior Viaduct some half century since it was issued on Eno’s Obscure label.
Gavin Bryars’ Eno-produced ‘The Sinking of the Titanic’ artfully evokes the liner’s in-house band continuing to play as it sank into the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912. Its understated string arrangements and use of Cageian indeterminate strategy set a haunting precedent for later works by the likes of The Caretaker, Akira Rabelais and Stephan Mathieu, heralding the culmination of a phase shift between popular classical music, proper, and its experimental paths beyond convention into realms of pure sonification. No doubt it’s one of those works that simply stops you in you tracks and effortlessly holds the attention for the duration.
The B-side, ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me’ is also deeply regarded for its ebbing tape loop of a London street singer set to strings by Derek Bailey, Michael Nyman and John White. Also of a immediately poignant register, the piece holds in subtle contrast to the tragedy of the other, gradually layering wind and strings to the central motif with quietly devastating effect that has prompted Tom Waits to claim it as his favourite piece of music.
Both pieces are a sterling early testament to Bryars' affective work since the ‘60s, tying up paths with fellow Yorkshireman and jazz-man Derek Bailey and future soundtrack composer Michael Nyman, and leading the way for his formation of the highly esteemed Portsmouth Sinfonia. We kinda hate to say it from this side of the Pennines, but this is truly music of God’s own country.
NTS commit Ama Serwah Genfi aka Amaarae’s incred debut LP of sugar-coated Afrobeats to vinyl, sating popular demand for one of the finest binds of US and Ghanaian styles in recent years - RIYL Burna Boy, Kelis, Kojey Radical, Drake, Ice Spice.
Based between New Jersey, ATL and Accra, Amaarae dropped her instant classic ‘The Angel You Don’t Know’ in the run-up to xmas 2020. Two years later, and following her curation of a day of music for NTS in 2021, her definitive calling card is cut to wax with signature elisions of southern rap, Ghanaian afrobeats, dancehall and bubblegum pop voiced by her dreamy, balmy but piquant falsetto, with reference points as wide as Paul Wall and Meat Puppets.
Following international critical acclaim and her major label works and features with Tiwa Savage and Kali Uchis, the 14 track album is every bit a definitive early decade classic, richly symptomatic of a prevailing Black Atlantic dialogue between R&B/dancehall-dembow and its Afrobeats sibling that has dominated the best dances and earbuds since the ’10s. It’s a supremely easy going and effortless listen that sounds perfect puckered to wax.
Between the breezy ATL flair of ‘Fancy’ and melancholic Afrobeats of ‘Party Sad Face’, Amaarae is variously joined by Kojey Radical & Cruel Santino on the trim Afro-R&B of ‘Jumping Ship’, and fellow Ghanaian stars Princess Adjua & Moliy on the tantalising bump of ‘Feel a Way’, with harmonious contribution by Kyu Steed & 6 in the wavy, The Draem-esque lick of ‘Celine’. Left to her own devices, Amaarae is equally seductive on the Afro-R&B of ‘Leave Me Alone’ and the charmingly naif hook of ‘Hellz Angel’ feels like a less sugar-buzzed Ice Spice. Bit of a no brainer, this one.
Mills gets right up the cosmic hilt in a trio of deep techno workouts conceptually connected to classic work across the decades
Mills presents the ‘Extension’ EP as a continuation of explorative deep space techno probes found on the ‘Growth’ (1994) EP and 2004’s haunting ‘Expanded’ 12”, with the intention to “to bring forth the notion that the Future could provide more than what we are doing now”.
The results are exemplary of his ability to locate unfathomable depth in subtle variation, arcing from the kick-less cosmic rain and sublime tension of his meditative opener ‘Rise’, to the sci-fi soundtrack bleeps and sultry techno-house shimmy of ‘The Storyteller’, and far out into the alien bleep communique ‘Entanglement’, where he again eschews the bass drum in favour of tongue-tip thizz and Afro-latinate percussive patterns with ether dream quality.
Four OG unreleased UKG dubs and new cuts for Underground Consumption by discerning bubblers
The ‘90s UK club pioneer-turned-minister Karl Brown oversees a classic sounding session in four parts. Up top Peekay lends a speed garage spin to remix of his Tuff Jam dancer ‘Happiness’, beside the twinkle-toed, soul jazzy 2-step of ‘Everything’ by Dynamic Essence. Down below Karl remixes the laid-back swing of ‘Jump Dub’ from D.I.Y., and links with Swiss producer Alex De Joncaire on the next rendition of their Gingo Peas ace ‘Realizin’ for a classy, crafty bout of Todd Edwards-Style vocal chopping and sexy technoid speed garage.
Clark’s Throttle Records introduce Gajek to the fold with a curious suite of psych and folk-inspired offbeat electronica after turns for Monkeytown.
‘Vitamin D’ trades in a satisfyingly tart style of synth dissonance twisted into almost familiar avant-folk and pop song structures, at times redolent of his label boss’s much-loved styles, and at others even recalling the tangy guitar tone + autotune aesthetic of Julia Reidy.
“Gajek´s most personal record yet. Alive, detailed, urgent and fresh the album explores evolving textures of highly energetic digital production, vibrant rhythms and haunting lyrical work. Boldly expanding a futuristic and strikingly original musical language Gajek creates a beautiful and deeply moving work of great sincerity and emotional immediacy, making a provocative case for pushing what is possible in a world occupied with calculating what is probable.
Matti Gajek (he/him) is a product of socialist biohacking. Injected with high doses of vitamin D directly after birth, the GDR made sure his bones would be strong even if he never saw the sun. The practice of high-dosage-vitamin D injection, abolished in the West in the 1960s, remained a standard in East German childcare until the wall came down in 1989. It has since become a topic of conspiracy theories surrounding differences of East and West German bodies. The child of political activists, Gajek lived through his first revolution shortly before entering primary school. He grew up in the temporal anomaly created when the end of history was declared and the country he was born in disappeared. Gajek is a musician and artist, publishing records on Throttle Records, Monkeytown and Infinite Greyscale and composing for films, theatre, performances and installations.”
JK Broadrick’s lush dream-pop jungle project finds its target on LA’s Give/Take a decade since it was due for issue on AFX’s Rephlex (RIP), now beautifully finished with heart-in-mouth harmonic structures and thizzing breaks that hark to his classic Jesu gear.
Stemming from 2009-2013 recordings that followed the feel of Jesu’s ‘Pale Sketches’ (2007) set, the pioneering Napalm Death/Godflesh/Zonal co-founder really wears his heart on sleeve in this volley of uncannily seasonally appropriate gems flush with hip hop-meets-shoegaze sampling tekkerz prone to brukbeat prang-outs. While his music has long traded on a sense of brummie doom in myriad forms, ‘Golden Skin’ showcases the flipside of Broadrick’s crankiness with results that lean toward Clams Casino’s ebullient witch house or indeed AFX’s own brand of emotive tempest, harnessing his skills to a headier form of intensity that sounds particularly potent in midwinter and the accompanying feels that come circa this time of year.
‘Golden Skin’ executes its function beautifully well from top to bottom. ‘Today’ sets out its emotional brief with filigree vocal sampling and rearrangement set to sparking early ‘90s hardcore breaks, and we can’t help but compare the hip hop break and vocal chopping of ‘A Joy We Only Know’ with peak, contemporaneous Clams Casino cuts, while ‘Have Faith’ sounds like the shoegaze D&B ideas of Digital’s SOS peach ‘Lost’ merged with Broadrick’s late ‘90s tech step style. At its core there’s a fantasy for anyone who dreamt of MBV doing slow jungle in ‘Heart Beat’, and his ‘Golden Skin’ really lets loose with the fuzzy steppers pressure, and the loopy rushes of ‘Rollercoaster’ and ‘I’m Your Possession’ feel like Panda Bear gone ruffneck.
Not a bad tune on this one >> big tip for the romantics.
A monstrous blast of jazz noise energy by the combustible trio with Sunn 0)))’s Stephen O’Malley and David Sandström of hardcore punks, Refused, on the mighty Rune Grammofon.
On the tail of their album ‘Defeat’ (2021), Fire!’s Mats Gustafsson, Andreas Werlin, and Johan Berthling channel the sounds of a wounded elk and burning churches in ‘Requies’, a climactic 21 minute transition from death knells to motorik post-punk.
The sort of piece that knows no chill, it kicks off with a descending pall of church bells and Gustafsson’s animalistic sax over guitar drones stretched out to a scorched horizon. Gloaming electronics open out the space with cavernous choral layers and shell-rattle percussion ratcheting the tension to a sort of sepulchral BM feel until he drums lock in with alarmed organ to a tempestuous finale, with O’Malley shredding over the trio engine of Werliin and Sandström’s drums plus Berthling’s revving death rock bass.
Exhausted, it all comes to collapse in glorious style leaving you with the feeling orks are about to beat on your door.
Danny Wolfers (Legowelt) dresses up as Hermit in a Rave Cave for a set of signature oddball jackers
Brewed at his studio in the dunes of Den Haag, ‘Hermit In A Rave Cave 1’ is the first in a series of new tackle by the man with more monikers than we count. It all lives up the label name with variations on a box banging theme taking in breezy west coast electro-house in ‘Alive With Darkling Things That Fly’, next to the briny jackers’ tang of ‘Cassiopeia Theme’, and the groggy Italo disco style ‘Sentimental Proverbs’ on the front, backed by some excellent midievil vocal chopping a la Moon Wiring Club in the propulsive ‘Life and Ride’, snappy Drexciyan electro canter of ‘The Space Gamer’, and fugged out Bunker behaviour on ‘Sorrow Dust’.
Perfectly damaged, downbeat indie-pop curveball by Dallas’ Ryan Patrick Birmingham Gibbons V lodging right between heavy lidded styles of Mica Levi, DJ Screw, Rabit, Wayne Phoenix, Olde English Spelling Bee
Slow baked for flavour, ‘Lovers Lane’ makes introductions, where necessary, to RPBGV’s groggy sorta H-pop lean on local label Dolfin Records, who’ve hosted his three previous collections. It lands in late ’22 at that point when everyone’s in a food coma or shivering around a candle, and hence there’s not much background info go on, but the sound is patently from that interzone that opened up around a decade or more ago and encompasses everyone from Mica Levi and Dean Blunt/Hype Williams in the UK to Rabit’s DJ Screw-dedicated mixtapes or Halcyon Veil label releases; one overeasy on the distortion, and a few drinks/zoots to the wind, with very satisfying levels of scuzzy crud that lends a hazy, smudged soul glow to everything on board.
Deep house and neo-classical artist Roberts sees off ’22 with a stark yet sublime pair of solo piano works making a virtue of incidental “flaws” in the recording.
With typically ponderous pacing and space in-the-mix, Roberts’ two-part ‘Like Death A Banquet’ is effectively an addendum to this year’s ambient album ‘Wrecked Exotic’. Both pieces showcase his touch sensitive style of ambient neo-classical with bright, air recordings of the piano that sweetly incorporate the sounds of ricocheting wood, breath, and turned sheets to conjure a supremely elegant yet raw atmosphere akin to Gigi Masin or Jonny Nash & Suzanne Kraft’s quietest.
Fleet-heeled house, broken beat, electro and dub-house finesse from the D.C. alum of Mister Saturday Night and World Building, doing it for Anthony Naples and co’s Incienso
Jacking classic club trades with a hands-on dexterity, Bangura leaves a subtly effective touch on each style in the ‘Wichita’ EP. The organ-riding house pumper ‘Barred Entry’ benefits form inch-tight tweaks to keep the ‘floor locked in, and ‘Mixed Signals’ gets looser with the drums in a jiggly D.C. style that splits difference between deep end Beautiful Swimmers and Karizma’s Baltimore templates with a chef’s kiss sample intoning “I know we ain’t kids”. ‘Monterrey’ switches style again to a hydrodynamic electro flex flickering with lithe Drexciyan funk, and the title tune is super deep dub house pearl sure to catch favour with connoisseurs.
Tokyo’s Takuya Matsumoto summon the ghosts of classic Larry Heard and Chi house with rudest impact and finesse on Clone’s true skool series
Harking to the formative golden era of the Windy City dance phenomenon, ’85-88’ puts drum machines, keys, and limited sampler memory banks to devilishly good use in four cuts that mirror the sound’s subtle but critical developments during the late ‘80s. The brute but elegant square bass heave of ’85’ dials it right back to early Mr. Fingers, but with an added bass pressure that’s making our speakers gurn right now, before ’86’ ups the deep jazzy warmth with blushing pads and chords alloyed to a more svelte groove.
’87’ is properly built for the warehouse with reverberant space in the mix and a body-swilling acid line and nagging vox according to the Adonis/Phuture/Larry Heard/Bam Bam playbook, and ’88’ brings up the cowbells and FX in a very classy nod to Lil Louis and Mike Dunn et al.
‘Electroacoustic Works’ is an epic undertaking compiling Iannis Xenakis’ earliest works (Diamorphoses / Concret PH / Orient Occident / Bohor), through his classic period (Hibiki Hana-Ma / Mycenae Alpha / Polytope de Cluny / Persepolis / La Légende D’Eer) and onto late works (Taurhiphanie / Voyage Absolu Des Unari Vers Andromède / Gendy 3 / S.709), all newly mixed by longtime zeitkratzer sound engineer Martin Wurmnest and mastered by Rashad Becker, with a Booklet of English / German liner notes by Reinhold Friedl (zeitkratzer) and rare photos from the Xenakis archive.
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; Xenakis redrew the boundaries of sonic possibility with his pioneering, mathematically sound arrangements and brutalist electronic tonalities. By teaching/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.
The first disc (early works) stakes out Xenakis’ peerless approach to new music between the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, back when he began to combine his musical studies under Messiaen with his background in architecture as an 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.
The second disc covers a golden patch between between 1969-1972, taking in the jaw-dropping shearing string dynamics and febrile rhythms of ‘Hibiki Hana-Ma’ (1969)’ to one of his all-time masterworks in 1972’s multimedia installation soundtrack ‘Polytope de Cluny’ with its shattered polymetric percussions, and the uncannily future-proofed play of chattering electronics, swooping subbass and cyclonic hornet-like swarms in ‘Mycenae Alpha’ (1978).
DIsc 3 features ‘Persepolis’ - Xenakis’ longest electroacoustic composition. Commissioned by the Persian Shah, the piece was part of a multimedia performance which premiered in 1971 in Shiraz-Persepolis 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. It was recoreded on 8-track analogue tape in the Studio Acusti in Paris and released as 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.
DIsc 4 spotlights 'La Légende D’Eer’ - was made in an impenetrable thicket of versions, with this one selected here from the 8-track-version that Xenakis himself presented at Darmstädter Ferienkurse in august 1978. It's the only original version of this composition and is presented here (mixed down to stereo by Martin Wurmnest who tried to preserve the spatial movements as perceptible as possible) for the very first time. La Légende d’Eer not only became a milestone of electroacoustic music but is also an important reference for noise and industrial musicians of the modern era.
The final disc ‘Late Works’ opens with 'Taurhiphanie' - a lurching synthetic experiment that disorientates the listener with pitch-f*cked 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.
Taken as a whole, this is music that still beggars belief 50 years later, a remarkable testament to the Xenakis vision and diligence during an era when it was markedly more difficult to create music with such a bewildering dynamic.
Polish 3D instrument builder Wojciech Rusin’s 2019 album ‘The Funnel’ is the stuff of legend - an impenetrable but endlessly rewarding album of baroque chamber music, choral acrobatics and skewered electronics that completely baffled everyone with its illogical arrangements - the sort of record that people will prob write books about one day. 2022 saw the release of its followup - Syphon - deploying all of the above, with softer edges.
’Syphon’ is the second in a proposed trilogy of albums and returns us to Rusin’s highly personalised world of inventive tonalities and innovative blends of medieval and baroque classicism with European folk and oodles of imagination. The ten pieces are carefully concise in construction and effortlessly mesmerising in effect, with an emotional tenor that tilts between bucolic, funereal and utopian as Rusin oscillates gorgeous chamber vocals by Eden Girma and Emmy Broughton with a singular palette of bright, lucid field recordings, puckered instrumentation and sculptural electronics that suspend disbelief for the duration.
It’s an album that expands Rusin’s sonic purview to take in timeless songcraft and showcase a real knack for narrative arrangement. The handful of filigree songs are poised between sublime instrumental passages with an oneiric logic, conjuring an unearthly garden of wonders as you drift from the plaintive opener ‘Speculum Veritatis’ to the quizzical choral percolation of ‘Glass Coil’ via lush yet quietly unheimlich elisions of nature sounds and electronics on ’Swedenborg in the forest’ and the cosmic interruptions of ‘Origins of Pleasure’ to the resonant, arcane buzz of organ and bagpipe-like elegiac fanfare in ‘Destroyer of Worlds’ recalling Alex Zhang Hungtai’s end-of-world blasts.
Superpang expose another musical universe with this oddball transmission from the mysterious Dupond Dupont, a tidy cadre of flashbang minimalist club experiments that comes off like a zanier Container, or donk-pilled SND.
Who might this be then? We've honestly got no idea, but it's the best thing we've heard from Superpang in a minute. The concept is fairly simple: each track is focused on one microscopically-engineered rhythm, usually assembled from a wobbly bassline (think 'Flat Beat', 'Doom's Night' or a microsampled 'Rip Groove') and a synthesized step that phases in-and-out of the bass. Hypnotic? Sure - it's deceptively simple but disorienting as fuck, and doesn't ever slip into fussy territory 'cause the basslines are always such good value. At its best, the record sounds as if whoever put it together cares as much about donk, makina or scouse house modes as they do icy Nordic minimalism - even the barest rhythms are assembled with a cheeky grin that's impossible to ignore.
Just clap yer ears around 'DD3', that uses three elements (kick, squelch, womp) to shift the mind's ear right in front of the sub at 4am. Nothing happens, particularly, but nothing needs to - the subtle timing shifts are all the mind needs to feel the tensing of the jaw and the loosening of the tongue. On 'DD5' Dupont Dupond get rid of percussive noises altogether, landing on an acidic reduction of shuffled club music that might be a sneakily effective DJ tool. But they find the groove again on 'DD6', introducing the kick to remind us that we're essentially listening to modular donk. Sneaky and brilliant.
Klein follows last year's dumbfounding "Harmattan" with a sickeningly dense lattice of corroded instrumentation and barbed, dissociated theorizing. Darkest, Blackest ambient moves, deranged lo-fi punk and completely unwound baroque soul - ridiculously strong gear.
'Cave in the Wind' is Klein's latest long-form tome, an elevated miscellany of confident gesturing that comes with the assertion that the only samples used are news snippets from the USA's Roe vs. Wade repeal. Those booming clips root the lengthy opening 'Fair in a minor' in 2022's precarious social reality, punctuating Klein's vocal and churning, euphoric pads. It's music that mirrors the chaotic feeling of scrolling thru social media with one eye on the television: cascading sonics that replicate our popped synapses and fogged memories without resorting to placid nostalgia.
Comfort is far from Klein's mind on this one - her string treatments chill to the bone as she slices into serial thriller drones and bends them into broad, almost hilariously unsettling portamento slides. This mixture of horror, reality and absurdity is where Klein sounds completely in her element, formulating a narrative that's got more tension and release than anything A24 might care to slide out. At the mid mark, the track situates itself in a cavernous studio somewhere, where twanging strings rub against boiling pipes and clipped acoustic drums, sounding like a dying steam train breaking down. Brassy Hollywood jingles and cut-n-paste firework cracks are spliced with chipmunked vocals and disquieting church bells, notched into computer keyboard clacks and general MIDI sputters.
Klein takes us to task, her music is so completely intentional and sharply fanged. While the majority of self-consciously "experimental" composers and producers seem content to rest on established pillars of respectability or cannibalize their nostalgic weaknesses, Klein sounds as if she's doing the exact opposite, challenging herself and her audience to consider what it is they're listening to. She pushes the boundaries of taste and toys with our perceptions of harmony and dissonance, rarely letting herself marinate in detachment.
'Saving Grace' is lighter, opening with birdsong and instrumental clangs before spiraling down the plughole into alien, screwed half-speed wails. It's a backdrop for Klein's vocals, dropping casual, wordless ad-libs across a bed of contorted klangs. She wipes the slate clean again with 'top shotta' and what sounds like instruments dropped into a skip. Viscous and hypnotically unsettling, it's somehow also one of Klein's most moving tracks, like a radical answer to AFX's apolitical ambient milestone "SAW II".
Once again we're floored by Klein's multi-layered messaging and clear musical gesturing. Her art is gleefully unbalanced, poignant and completely unforgettable - if yr out here looking for the intersection of Farrah Abraham, Dreamcrusher and the GRM, this is it.
Fuck what you know of Huerco S, 'Plonk' is his first album in 6 years and switches tack from house and groggy ambient touchstones to a more glassy, iridescent palette of juked electrosoul and chamber-like paradigms.
Touching minds 10 years since his cult early works graced the likes of Opal Tapes and Ukraine’s Wicked Bass, ‘Plonk’ finds him drawing on a formative love of rally cars and experiences over the interim for a more ragged jag that still prizes a sense of heady lushness, but more fractal and bittersweet with it. Of course he’s not been slacking since his now classic album ‘For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)’, delivering ample goodies as Pendant and introducing key new artists via his curation of West Mineral Ltd. since 2017, but Huerco S. has taken a backseat until now, returning with a sparing, concentrated energy refracted into light-splitting ambient post-classical figures and splintered steppers that defy gravity with a cannily personalised sort of electro-dub physics.
We’ve long compared Brian Leeds’ work as Huerco S. with the likes of NWAQ and Actress, and those references still somehow apply, as he smartly moves parallel and perpendicular to those likemind auteurs’ evolutions across ‘Plonk'. They all share a patented sense of emotional intelligence and deep funk imagination that percolates their beyond-the-dance tekkerz.
The 10 tracks of ‘Plonk’ sensitively smash the template of ambient techno and IDM for a new decade, allowing new subtly mutated forms to emerge in the cracks. Between the first example of reeling extended melody in ‘Plonk I’ to the dematerialised tonal hues of the 11min bliss out ‘Plonk X’, he offers a thorough but faithful reappraisal of his style, tiling fleeting pieces of beat-less introspection rendered with electro-acoustic strategies, alongside nerve end-dancing, syncopated jitters and gyring hyperspace explorations such as the spine-licking bewt ‘’Plonk VI’ and smudged Autechrian functions on ‘Plonk VIII’, with a surprise turn of drawling cloudrap abstaction on ‘Plonk IX’.
Post-rock is back, baby! Catalan's Andreu G. Serra looks back to peak Montréal-era gloominess for two sides of slow-moving guitar-led ambient devastation.
Constellation cast a considerable shadow over the experimental music world. It's hard to listen to any post-rock at this point, let alone politically motivated material, that doesn't directly reference either Godspeed You! Black Emperor or their many contemporaries and side-projects. And Ubaldo does exactly that, bringing his sound sharply up to date with textural shifts and AutoTuned vocals but keeping his eyes firmly positioned on Montréal.
The first 21-minute composition starts simply enough, with overlaying cascading guitar melodies that form a gentle rhythm. But it gets moving when Suso Saiz's vocals appear in the final act, harmonizing with claire rousay's recent pop diversions. Serra's second side is more blurry, here he elongates his tones, overlaying feedback and saturation to create not crashing quiet-loud explosions in the sky, but tonally complex drone symphonies. Very nice.
Moody post-punk distortion and electric bagpipe drone weirdness from LA deathrock outsider Jimmy Smack.
'Death is Certain' is assembled from two 7"s (1982's "Death or Glory and 1983's "Death Rocks") and a single 12" (1982's "Anguish"), over which Los Angeles weirdo Jimmy Smack carved out his legend. Smack was notorious for performing in a kilt and boots - with his electrified bagpipes of course - in full corpse paint, a few years before that style would become co-opted by Euro black metal bands. He was a regular on LA's hardcore punk circuit, but his music sits alone from pretty much all else on the scene.
The set showcases Smack's bizarre sound, which he built around machine-gun drum machine rattles, bizarre bagpipe drones, and of course his horror movie-ready voice. It's hard to describe exactly what it sounds like - maybe Suicide crossed with The Damned, remixed by Container. Smack's drum machine parts are the most unexpected element; it sounds as if he's using a regular cheap rhythm box, but he abuses it wildly to vary the rhythm, turning it into an industrial power drill or a malfunctioning A/M radio.
Bizarre, invigorating aces.
A sought-after pinnacle of Venetian Snares’s early catalogue reissued, including his flip of Billie Holiday’s take on a banned Hungarian “suicide song”
Arriving in 2005 after Snares’ had established himself among the most thrilling artists of his time, ‘Rossz Csillag Alatt Született’ saw him sampling from stacks of classical records, as well as Billie Holiday, for a concept album that imagined him as a pigeon on Budapest’s Királyi Palota (Royal Palace). In one fell swoop the album tilted his sound from pure ryhthmic extremity to a more “grown up” elision of breakcore and classical music, including a number of compositions where he ditched the ballistics alltogether. It was kind of a watershed moment for us, an undeniably impressive feat of pointillist tracker programming and lush sample rearrangement, and also the point where we thought OK, he can’t really take this aesthetic any further.
Taking sampled cues from the metric freedom and complex structures of classical works by Bartók, Stravinsky, Mahler, Paganini, Prokofiev, Elgar and Telemann, the Funk draws extraordinary links between their diametrically opposed paradigms; lending classical music a raving fire in the belly, while pushing the dynamics of jungle/D&B/breakcore to the nth degree. Paralleled in its intricacy by scant few others such as Aphex’s ‘Druqks’ album a few years prior, Snares’ efforts are arguably the last word in the original jungle formula of fast, choppy beats and sampling, and now interestingly sits equidistant to the OG sound and now for anyone making historic comparisons.
Atari ST sorcerer Novo Line firms up some of his most direct but beguiling industrial-pop productions in a clutch of bugged-out bangers for Elena Colombi’s label - RIYL Suicide, early AFX, Dux Dux, Belgian new beat, ‘late ‘80s industrial
Following a series of cultishly prized sessions for Ecstatic and cosmic disco label Protofuture, ‘Zeit’ marks a decade of ingenious work by Berlin’s Nat Fowler under the Novo Line alias, which has become feted by hardware and computer music fetishists for his experiments with original late ‘80s dance music tone, tunings and temporality.
Heavily inspired by a pivotal era c’86/’87 when midi technology and early computer software changed the face of contemporary electronic club music, Novo Line’s retro-futurist fascinations have generated some of the spiciest, gnarled grooves of the past decade for fans of everything from early AFX and Belgian new beat to Front 242, and his debut for Osare! squares up some of his plumpest pumpers for the ‘floor.
Notorious for live shows featuring not one but two full Atari ST hardware set-ups, synced with synths/keyboards in wickedly offbeat grind, Novo Line’s records follow suit with a hugely distinctive sound that blurs grid boundaries with a brilliantly fucked-up quality right on the edge of industrial noise, but yoked back to a more freakish club quality that’s plays to his innovative strengths on ‘Zeit’.
It’s by some distance his most industrial/wave/pop-oriented work due to the inclusion of vocals, ranging from Monica Kremidi’s possessed sort of Diamanda Galas presence on the zig-zag jag ‘Ain’t That a Mess’, to his own worked into the combustible thrum of ‘Cortina’ and the indie-pop contrasts of Cass MCComb surprisingly worked into the new beat-y chew of ‘Morning Star’, while Nat’s nagging, cubist future-baroque melody chatters away in the EP’s major highlight ‘Stein’, coupled with speaker-buckling bass in a mind-bending drug chug.
PAN wait until the 11th hour - when most u lot have yr heads buried in a mince pie - to unveil the first-ish chapter in this brilliantly all-over-the-place project that may - or may not - involve ???
It’s an incendiary debut sermon from undercover operative Honour, who grabs tattered scraps of rap, blown-out rave, dissociated jazz, and algo-mangled drill, stitching everything into fresh shapes driven by DIY noise and crunchy electro-acoustic manipulations.
Who might Honour actually be, and does it even matter when the sounds are this turbulent? Clues are laid out like a breadcrumb trail on their labyrinthine inaugural dispatch, released as part of a cassette-only double header that initiates a bleakly cinematic open-ended narrative. Presented as a mixtape, it pays obvious tribute to hand-Xeroxed Chinatown boots, but it acknowledges the outsized influence of DatPiff and Livemixtapes on shaping a culture that went beyond rap, connecting the mainstream and underground in an anti-aesthetic bounty of unbridled free expression.
We open on a blurry haze of pistol clacks, piano stabs and barely-audible chatter - a space that feels familiar but defiantly current: serving dream dust that's mined from tweaky '90s R&B, jiggy rap, and the bits of the rave continuum that haven't been completely rinsed by Goldsmiths interlopers, muffling it all under thick blankets of half-heard vocals and abstract noise. Beats are slowed to a Houston crawl, spliced with dizzy loops; soul and disco cuts are forced thru ferric saturations and weaved into nice 'n sleazy chipmunked day-zero garage; trip-hop is reformed into baroque, cavernous neo-trap, driving us into darker, more politicised ends.
The second tape is more solemn but simultaneously more euphoric, skewering feeble landfill ambient with politically locked-in satirical cinematics, industrial drones, and shredded hoover bass. The opening moments sound as if they've been snatched from a melodramatic Western, stretched and reshaped to fit Honour's satirical expression. We're directed into delirious euphoria that handily swerves the expected "power ambient" factory, infusing noise-grated drones with bluesy nostalgia that sounds like a whisper from the past.
Splicing extended experimental jams with rugged drumwork, sirens and street-scene chaos, Honour saves the most startling deployment for the B-side, coming out with 'Untitled (trukfit)', a lengthy weightless noise subtraction that's so subtly affecting you might not even realise it at first. Made up of gnarled feedback and screaming noise but turned down to a hoarse crackle, it transcends entry-level modes of experimental music and reinforces a message that permeates every distorted kick and echoing squeal on the record: this is our house, and we're gonna do whatever the fuck we want.
Unmissable, and fucking immense.
Head-melting archival discovery! Previously unreleased, this "lost" album of Derek Bailey sessions was recorded in 1982 in New York City with Charlie Morrow and a rotating cast of players including Glen Velez, Steve McCaffery, Carol E. Tunyman, Michael Snow and Patricia Burgess.
New York 1982 has been sitting in US sound artist and regular Derek Bailey collaborator Charlie Morrow's archive until it was rescued and refined by Recital to sculpt this tight six-track release. It documents the period of time when Bailey and Morrow put together a slew of live shows and studio sessions in and around New York City, with the first side concentrating on live performances and the second captured at The Record Plant, highlighting the crew's studio smarts. If you've come across Bailey before, you should know broadly what to expect, and his idiosyncratic free improv guitar style is laid out immediately on 'Sextet', met in its chaotic splatter by Morrow and McCaffery’s wordless vocal acrobatics. Michael Snow, Carol E. Tunyman and Patricia Burgess interact with the vibrating atmosphere by layering horn tones against the trio's skeletal quasi-structures.
'Duo' is shorter and more sparse, this time focusing more roundly on Bailey's crystalline, freeform patterning, accompanying it just with Glen Valez's spine-chilling frame drum percussion, that forms an odd symmetry; Valez's squeaks and pats appear to mimic Bailey's musical language impulsively, and the resulting fireworks are a joy to behold. The album is just as impressive when Bailey steps back for a moment: on 'Everyone', it's horns that play the central role, wavering consistently and in unison against the guitarist's barest metallic clangs. 'Trio' is the most open recording - one of the studio sessions that allows the room tone to form almost another instrument. It's here where Morrow's spittle-addled sound poetry is able to rise to the surface, bouncing acrobatically off Bailey's buzzing and chattering prangs.
The most generous recording is closing track 'Breath-Light Texture', a gentle plod of dissonant plucks and wobbly horns that, over almost 12-minutes, curves through reverberating dub atmospheres into an explosion of splattery free noise that will no doubt delight Bailey devotees.
Alice Coltrane's third album was originally released in 1970, recorded at home with Pharoah Sanders and Joe Henderson on horns, Ron Carter on bass, and Ben Riley on drums. Charged, spiritual and struck through with grief, it's a post-bop essential that set the stage for "Journey in Satchidananda".
The first album Alice Coltrane recorded with horns, "Ptah, The El Daoud" was written and recorded during a prolonged period of grief following John Coltrane's death in 1967. Alice had been left with four children to take care of and a vast emptiness in her life, which she filled with the kind of creativity and spirituality that drips from every moment of "Ptah, The El Daoud". The album was dubbed in the basement of Coltrane's house on Long Island, and retains a personal quality that makes it feel lived in; Pharoah Sanders was recorded to the right channel, while Joe Henderson was panned to the left, and the separation is both peculiar and invigorating. Coltrane plays mostly piano throughout, switching to harp on the effervescent 'Blue Nile', a stand-out that foreshadows her levitational work on later albums. Here Sanders and Henderson also switch instruments, playing flute and alto flute respectively.
But for the most part, the music is grounded in the blues-flecked nearly-freeform jazz exploration Coltrane had pioneered with her husband, playing piano as if she was plucking harp strings, and dancing between Ben Riley's thick rhythms. 'Turiya & Ramakrishna' is particularly stunning; liltingly romantic and effortlessly sad, it's a lead piano masterclass from Coltrane, with Riley's drums forming barely a patter, enhanced by unforgettable sleigh bells. If you've managed to miss this one - admittedly it's one of Coltrane's lesser-known records - now's the time to remedy that..
Quieter than a whispering ghost, crys cole's 'A Piece of Work' is a concrète fantasia, celebrating liminality via environmental recordings, bells, heaving oscillators and deep listening drones. It's deeply immersive material, conjured by an artist with a complex understanding of the interconnectedness of sound.
Assembled from fragments collected in Oslo, Berlin, Vienna, Winnipeg, Melbourne and Lisbon, 'A Piece of Work' is far more than a travelog or audio diary. cole's compositions develop more like poetry, resolutely refusing to intone clearly about the exactness of place, but instead representing space, feeling and the joy of investigation. There's a collage-like quality to the almost 30-minute composition that flows from blustering sounds into tonal drones, crackles and synthesized apparations. But cole seems less interested in hard cuts than imperceptible evolution; her elements shift like sunlight, dipping behind the clouds for a moment, diving from view with perfect, natural timing.
This level of gentle restraint is surprisingly difficult to refine, and cole never loses our focus for a minute; 'A Piece of Work' isn't background music, it's transformative sound that demands not just attention but close, focused listening. The more microscopically you concentrate, the more you begin to make out the colors and textures within cole's evocative field of view: billowing lowercase drones, Seiji Morimoto's heaving, popping electronic gurgles, or Oren Ambarchi's percussive cacophony.
Cole allows us to perceive and absorb elements as if they were changes in temperature, and read into them continuously, like words with several layers of meaning.
Metal Preyers' latest is a fairytale-inspired cauldron of psychedelic tinderbox fire and library music clatter - properly evocative ritual magick shit that's in the same zone as late-period Broadcast, Czech New Wave composer Luboš Fišer, Demdike Stare, Leila and early Colleen. Purple-tinted, mysterious and properly spannered, in the best possible way.
With London's Jesse Hackett handling production and Chicago's Mariano Chavez on the visuals, Metal Preyers rebuild a world inspired by dusty library music and cult stop-motion animated shorts into up-to-the-minute genre-f*cked electronic mutations. The album is a narrative soundtrack to a self-penned fairytale about a father and daughter's voyage through a swamp inhabited by gremlins and crater creatures. The idea and most of the album's vocals came from Hackett's six-year-old daughter Nyasha, who used a phone's voice notes app to record sketches of her singing, then spun into full tracks by Hackett who contorts them into robotic howls and disembodied forest folk wails.
On 'Scream Dreamer', Nyasha's vocals are smeared into industrial drones, pressed into a tape-DIY collage of machinery sounds and looped, loping quasi-rhythmic chaos, but on 'The Preyers Forest' she sings nursery rhymes against Hackett's saturated toybox cycles. 'Red Swines' finds Hackett flexing his rhythmic muscle again, burying lightning-zapped screwed-n-chopped trap drums in ferric noise - it's the meeting point between Rabit's negative-space trap't-grime and the Finders Keepers axis. 'Carpenters Cabin' somehow references both horror synth maestro John Carpenter and Lewis Carroll's 'Through the Looking Glass' - it's horror synth music that avoids the obvious cliches, sounding spooky but never hackneyed, filtered thru a gristly FX chain and formed into dubwise dirt and dust.
The album's most memorable tracks - 'Slime Things Accent' and 'On Her Way' - are bleak stop-motion flickers that perfectly evoke Hackett and Chavez's visual universe. Hackett creates an entire stage with "Shadow Swamps" and succeeds by wrapping our early anxieties in a woolen blanket of well-crafted processes and smudged soundscapes.
Dreamlike group portrait of Sean McCann’s label, revolving around rotating assembly of extensive friends and family to mark 10 years of avant and neo-classical wanderlust that has brought the likes of Sarah Davachi and Daniel Schmidt and reissues of RIP Hayman and Anne Tardos to the fore.
Worth attention for the roll call alone (listed below), ‘Autumn Fair’ speaks to the label’s unfathomable breadth with strains of blissed jazz, chamber music discord, rustling parlour keys and properly gorges ambient classical, before resolving in a fractal collage comprised of 2 second snippets from each of their releases thus far. If you haven’t broached their amazing catalogue yet, it’s worth considering in the same vein as Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle for levels of unpredictable genius, but also should be regarded as very much their own microcosm, bringing together avant minds across generations.
Featuring: Oren Ambarchi - guitar, Ed Atkins - paper shredder, Jason Bannon - family, Derek Baron - keyboard, Karla Borecky - upright piano, Andrew Chalk - guitar, crys cole - birds, Loren Connors - guitar, Philip Corner - grand piano, Maxwell August Croy - whistle, Sarah Davachi - electronics, Aaron Dilloway - SFX, Delphine Dora - voice, Giovanni Fontana - voice, Scott Foust - trumpet, Peter Friel - impression, Malcolm Green - camera, Judith Hamann - cello / voice, Mark Harwood - speech, Forest Juziuk - voice, Johnny Kay - tapping, Kajsa Lindgren - hydrophone, Rob Magill - guitar, Lia Mazzari - whip, Molly McCann - flute, Sean McCann - editing / voice, Nour Mobarak - voice sampler, Azikiwe Mohammed - interview, Charlie Morrow - MIDI piano, Kiera Mulhern - SFX, Zachary Paul - violin, claire rousay - SFX, Michel Samson - violin, Troy Schafer - strings, Eric Schmid - tone generator, Ben Schumacher - SFX, Tom James Scott - keyboard / SFX, Asha Sheshadri - reading, Patrick Shiroishi - winds, Sydney Spann - voice, Matthew Sullivan - instruments, Flora Sullivan-Kelly - percussion, Connor Tomaka - SFX / synth, Alex Twomey - upright piano.
Laurel Halo lands on Latency with a cinematic suite featuring Oliver Coates on cello and drums by Eli Keszler.
Making her first move since 2017’s remarkable ‘Dust’ album, Laurel takes inspiration from her score work for Metahaven and Ursula Le Guin’s translation of the ‘Tao Te Ching’ in pursuit of a quieter, more tactile and elusive sound, moving deeper into a sort of twilight avant jazz realm that calls to mind the recently uncovered Luc Ferrari salvo on Alga Marghen as much as flashes of Conlon Nancarrow and the diaphanous swirl of Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas.
It's immediately obvious that this is a special release in Laurel’s catalogue. Two 10 minute works bookend the release; the sublime title track with its oneiric mesh of woodwind, early electronic music gestures, and almost funeral organ; and at the opposite end, a stunning symphonic piece that unmistakably recalls Gas, but also unlocks that sound’s potential from the grid thanks to Keszler’s free meter and an embrace of kaotic harmony deeply rooted in Derrick May and Carl Craig’s Detroit classics.
But that’s not to discount the bits in between; they’re also brilliant. From her pairing of Keszler’s inimitable snare rushes with dark blue keys and smudged, plasmic electronics in ‘Mercury’, to something like Mark Fell commanding an underwater gamelan orchestra in ‘Quietude’, and the rapid flux of keys in ‘The Sick Mind’, this one has us rapt from every angle.
A balmy set of hypnagogic electronics meshed to meditative rhythms is the order of the day on the third release from Huerco S’ West Mineral Ltd, huge recommendation if you’re into Ulla, Spencer Clark or that classic Hallucinator gear on Chain Reaction. Everything on this label is gold...
Pontiac Streator previously appeared as a guest on the first West Mineral Ltd release, Pendant’s by-now classic Make Me Know You Sweet, while Ulla has become one of the most closely followed artists in electronic music, having first appeared on the cultishly adored bblisss compilation tape which also introduced Huerco S.’s Pendant alias to the world at large. Their first album together is a bedroom-crafted confection where drowsy meditations smudge with lounging exotica themes in a blunted style to properly heavy-lidded effect.
Chat was recorded on July 5th in Pilsen, Chicago on Ulla’s bed after a long week spent dancing with friends, staying up all night typing in chatrooms, and hate-watching Fox news. The results channel that experience into four lop-sided creations that feel satisfyingly burned out and immersive, like the murmur of zonked chat between close friends.
In four parts; Chat One thru Chat Four, the record unfurls with a muggy mid-fi tension between its illusive fidelities, kindling a smoky atmosphere that colours listening spaces with seductive smells and a muggy, keening tension that recalls the minutes before sundown. This balmy feel of the surreal comes out in a sylvan patina of sweetened cicadas and curling pads urged along by a stream of wooden drums, variously recalling Spencer Clark on some kind of Aguirre soundtrack mission in the tropics, a heatsick Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement piece, or, in the dream-pop drift of the last part, like Leven Signs smudged by Muslimgauze.
Coolly serving to expand West Mineral Ltd's remit after that spellbinding Pendant album and a 12” of ectoplasmic dubs from uon, the flux of arid/fluid textures and para-dimensional fidelities in Chat feels somehow calming yet fraught with a somnambulant appeal that’s dangerously easy to fall for.
The first compilation to be released on the PAN label, Mono No Aware collates unreleased ambient tracks from both new and existing PAN artists including Yves Tumor, M.E.S.H., Pan Daijing, Sky H1, AYYA, Jeff Witscher, Helm, TCF, HVAD, Kareem Lotfy, ADR, Mya Gomez, James K, Oli XL, Flora Yin-Wong, Malibu, and label head Bill Kouligas, moving through more traditional notions of what's considered ’Ambient’, to wider variations that fall under the term.
It’s an incredibly coherent suite of tracks that quite honestly sounds like the work of a singular, multi-facted artist rather than a disparate collection of pieces, something that’s perhaps testament to Bill Kouligas’ exceptional curation skills. While the album revolves around central themes of “an empathy towards things” or “a sensitivity to ephemera”, in practice it serves to beautifully illustrate the label’s depths in unity and common purpose with tracks by key roster - M E S H, Bill Kouligas, Sky H1, Helm, Yves Tumor, Jeff Witscher (Rene Hell) - as well as a smart influx of extended family and new producers - TCF, AYYA, Flora Yin-Wong, HVAD & Pan Daijing, Kareem Lofty, Malibu, Oli XL - who refresh and perfectly expand the label’s already unfathomable breadth of styles, personnel and their perspectives.
It’s also by some distance the label’s most sublime release, shifting thru 16 subtly personalised and compatible pieces, with results that speak to a world of increasingly chaotic flux and instability by simultaneously mirroring its confusion while also providing an inclusive safe space away from it; offering mutual gridwork for a spectrum of expressive nuance that takes in the billowing lushness of Egyptian artist Kareem Lofty’s Fr3sh at one end, and the colder digital soul of Danish/Chinese duo HVAD & Pan Daijing at the other.
In the space between, Mono No Aware transcends vast, ostensibly detached time and space between AYYA’s exquisite Second Mistake and Yves Tumor’s elusive/illusive Limerence to highlight their differences and similarities, vacillating the windswept dynamics of Helm’s Eliminator with ADR’s ambient-pop hymn Open Invitation and jumping from the needling peak of Mya Gomez’s justforu to Bill’s own ambiguous blend of agitated noise and aching melancholy in the rare outing, VXOMEG and in a tormented but optimistic way mutual to the M E S H and Sky H1 cuts and especially TCF’s C6 81 56.
On one level Mono No Aware helps to rescue ambient music from the clutches of neo-classical bores, and on another helps to firmly place it within context of the modern world. It’s a brilliantly curated, hugely satisfying collection of tracks from a label that never seems to rest on its laurels.
Smooth-as-you-like compilation of rustic electronics from Dutch label Knekelhuis with stand-out tracks from Lara Sarkissian, Salamanda, and SSIEGE.
Last year Knekelhuis released "and felt like...", an introspective 10-track compilation that compiled sounds in the spirit of Brian Eno and Jon Hassell. This time the label's unifying theme is "rustic gloom", and they've picked another wide-ranging group of artists to represent that. Chicago-based dub ambient operative Purelink is first up with the gossamer 'Personal Velocity', a 3XL/West Mineral axis segment of blunted bliss that perfectly sets the mood. Tammo Hesselink's 'Half Learned' is another early highlight, sounding like '90s AFX with downtempo bumps and xenharmonic synths that graze against wormy, forest rave warbles - there's a lot of half-baked Artificial Intelligence-era fetishism going on right now but this track actually takes us right back.
Armenian-American DJ/producer Lara Sarkissian gives us a glimpse of her new direction with 'Eternal Repose', a swirling sonic fairytale that layers microscopic field recordings with blossoming flutes, digi-fucked string plucks and delirious synths - we need a whole album on this tip immediately. Elsewhere Cypriot shoegazer Spivak evokes Slowdive on 'The Fucking Bed on the Floor' (she's talking about Berlin, right?), Civilistjävel! update AFX's "SAW II" lucidity on 'Fyrkant', and Italian producer SSIEGE ends the set on a high note with the "Ico" soundtrack-like 'Virgo Oscura'. Very lovely stuff all round.
Hermione Frank joins the Smalltown Supersound family for her most confounding and satisfying set to date: unfurling four hypnotic long-form experimental workouts that drift thru heat-haze dub, freeform jazz, ambient electronix, tight club bumps and beachy neo-nu age wetness. RIYL Donato Dozzy, Huerco S., Batu, CCL or Laurel Halo.
rRoxymore's debut album "Face to Phase" was a welcome oddity when it materialized in 2019, a literate compound of ceramic dancefloor momentum and low-end horizontals that almost doggedly refused to attach itself to any obvious trends. It made sense given her sinuous musical history: an active part of Paris's hybrid music scene, playing jazz, house and hip-hop, Frank later moved to Berlin to investigate electronic music further, and widened her knowledge without narrowing her horizons. "Perpetual Now" is an extension of the efforts she's made over the last decade to formulate a unique musical signature, and at this point in her career she truly sounds distinct. Preferring glassy FM synths and obsessively hand-crafted percussive clangs to sample pack fodder and DAW presets, Frank has come up with a sound that straddles genres by necessity rather than by design. Her palette is as complex and fictile as anything you might excavate from the experimental world, but flows with the sensuality of the best deep house slow-burners, or the smokiest downtempo groovers.
Here Frank dispenses with pop pleasantries, directing her concepts into four lengthy movements that teem with life and tell a story that's layered and cursive. A skilled DJ as well as a thoughtful producer, she infuses each element with meaning, giving the music a level of mystery that rewards deep and repeat listens. Opening track 'At the Crest' is almost 10 minutes long and weaves mindfully thru razor-sharp abstraction, clubby low-end rumbles and ear-tickling psychedelic high frequency sizzles. It's musically not a million miles from Bristol's Livity Sound, but Frank brings a jazzy sensibility to her electronic productions, adding unexpected warmth and harmonic gesticulation to each composition. 'Sun in C' is even more open with its inspirations, cracking from a beatless 'French Kiss' interpolation into ambient free jazz, with dissociated blasts of sax expressionism draped across seismic sub bass rattles.
'Fragmented Dreams' rattles with the psychotomimetic intensity of Donato Dozzy or more recently, CCL. Frank's beats don't so much pound as float: her high end ticks like an ephemeral clock lost in its own bubble, while kicks roll like waves. All of this builds up towards the album's impressive final segment 'Water Stains', a rhythmic epic that stabilizes paper-thin insectoid kicks with machine-strength tom sounds and levitational new age pads. Still anchored to the momentum of contemporary club music, the track sounds as if it's out of time, assembled from unexpected sounds and driven towards an unknown location. Frank's power is her ability to spin coherent stories from a myriad of influences and experiences, and it's a privilege to be let into her world for a while. Huge recommendation.
Balmy ambient relaxants from Andrew Wilson (Andras Fox) and John Tanner (Eleventeen Eston)
"Wilson Tanner come to shore with a new album of floating melodies, lightly salted. Throwing electroacoustic conventions overboard, Andrew Wilson (Andras) and John Tanner (Eleventeen Eston) recorded this new work aboard a 1950s riverboat with a resourceful array of weatherproof electronic instruments and a long extension lead. These eight compositions pull in a by-catch of maritime folklore; of Siren and Selkie, Seagull and engine oil slick. A change of course from their debut album 69 (Growing Bin Records, 2016), the ambient temperature drops as II casts out to sea in uncertain weather and returns to the safe harbours of Port Phillip Bay.
The seafarers head out to My Gull’s poised optimism. The birds watch but do they listen? By the arrival of Loch and Key, the shoreline has dissolved completely, the boat floating in serene infinity as the rest of the world spins. Conditions soon take a treacherous turn on Killcord Pts I-III - a 12 minute odyssey that battens down the hatches as these sailors eye merciless waves and blinding ocean spray, jointly channelling Berlin-school electronics and sea legs. In the aftermath, the waterlogged bleeps of Idle survey the damage as our parched crew sound the distress signal and ultimately descend into delirium.
Known for navigating individual courses as solo musicians, Wilson and Tanner’s collective storytelling is saturated in detail, buoying between tension and harmony. II modestly stands as some of both artists’ most accomplished material.”
Seriously overproof levels of sexy ‘80s machine funk from Soundway, harvested by Argentine diggers Ric Piccolo and Ariel Harari and certain to ignite the best ‘floors.
After 20 years digging the depths of Afro-diasporic styles, Soundway turn their attention to the ends of South America with typically astute selection skills. Comparable with the classic levels of their ‘Onda De Amor (Synthesised Brazilian Hits That Never Were 1984-94)’ session, the 19 nuggets on ’Síntesis Moderna’ are defined by a tougher machine momentum that echoes EU & US styles of the time, but with a certain sass and Tango rhythms that lend much of the material a vital below-the-belt thrust.
First conceived five years ago by diggers Ric Piccolo & Ariel harare, the set touches on a spectrum of styles spanning Italo Disco to post punk, jazz-fusion, Afro folk, ambient and techno pop, much of which has never been issued beyond Argentina’s borders. It all hails from the post-Falklands War era and the end of military dictatorship, reflecting a new found youth identity and links forged with the rest of the world, paralleling aspects of Spain’s late bloom grasp of machine/body music, too.
This guided tour kicks off with steely Sheffield-skooled electro echoes of Clock DVA and BEF in ‘Operative’ by Carlos Cutaia, and runs the voodoo down Latin America’s spine to El Signo’s slinky shuffle, twinkle-toed jazz-fusion from Adalberto Cevasco, cuboid sampler funk from Los Músicos Del Centro, Delight’s puckered disco swag and a class cut of slo-mo acidic electro-funk by Bad Girls. There’s an ESG-esque post-punk zinger in Carla Rab’s ‘Sexy Films’, and a Schulzian synth flare ‘Fuego’ to exemplify the range.
Carla Dal Forno presents a pitch-perfect 3rd album, and 2nd on her own Kallista label, informed by the swift pop structures of her DIY/post-punk forebearers Young Marble Giants, Virginia Astley, Broadcast - one of those records that sounds like a classic from the go.
Half a decade on from her much loved works for Blackest Ever Black, both solo and with F Ingers, ‘Come Around’ is a super hooky collection she describes as having “a lightness and openness to it, which I feel quite liberated by. It reminds me of a life I once had with very few responsibilities.” Its nine songs were written once she settled in the dense eucalyptus bushlands of Castlemaine, Central Victoria, after stints in Berlin and London that coloured her previous works. While those albums found succour in slow, balmy songcraft, this album feels even more precisely puckered, the songwriting more confident, enlightened, living up to comparisons with the mannered pose of Virginia Astley and breezy elegance of AC Marias in her own, modest way.
Equally adept at conjuring idyllic, pastoral whimsy as much as penetrative insights on love, friendship and anxiety, ‘Come Around’ is the sort of album that rewards repeat listens with a dependable bond. Its pacing beckons us in with the strolling bassline of ‘Side by Side’, and blue-skied feel of ‘Come Around’, where ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ evokes a languorous Aussieness in its spurred, baked tone. She strikes a balance of ennui and melancholy in ’Stay Awake’, an ode to insomnia, while her melodic lyricism is showcased beautifully in the instrumentals ‘Autumn’ and ‘Deep Sleep’ that approach a comfortable silence between friends, dips in the conversation between the more urgent ‘Slumber’ with Thomas Bush, and the strength in fragility found on ‘Caution’.
Peerlessly evocative and painfully sad material from Armenian duduk maestro Djivan Gasparyan, originally released on Brian Eno's All Saints imprint in 1993 and now finally remastered. Huge recommendation.
This is the one! 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.
Robert & Ronald Lippok and Stefan Schneider’s trio of Peel Sessions as To Rococo Rot, recorded in Liverpool and broadcast on the BBC ’97-’99, become a testament to their early years - now preserved on wax with Bureau B, including a memorable dutch intro with peel on the opening.
An exceptional German band with feet in Düsseldorf and Berlin, To Rococo Rot represented a new strain of minimalist, instrumental, electronic pop and post-rock musik from their eponymous 1995 debut until they disbanded with ‘Instrument’ in 2014. Beloved in our quarters and stil holding influence over so much of what we hear today, the trio’s grasp of low-key intimacy, ruggedly slinky grooves and introspective, even romantic atmosphere has long coloured our listening lives and that of many others, so it’s a real pleasure to finally hear their recordings for John Peel’s legendary sessions sequenced and compiled.
Shuffling and crackling in the fissures of krautrock, ambient electronics, and post-rock, but also porous to airy downtempo jazz; To Rococo Rot cultivated a sound that feels eternally familiar, despite being practically unprecedented in their field at the time. While it’s not hard to hear shimmers of influence from early Kraftwerkian miniamlism to Neu!’s supple motorik pulse or the languid contours of Manual Göttsching in there, the two Lippok brothers and rhythm fiend Schneider distilled those elements to a gentle yet rudely purring sound that simply transcended their roots and made a virtue of finding natural nuance within established styles.
Their John Peel Sessions feature three exclusive works in the shuffling wheeze of ‘Glück’, the lo-slung pulse and elegance of ‘Esther’, and the ghostly sashay of ‘Glass’, alongside iteration of ‘This Sandy Place’ from their ‘TRRD’ (1998) collab with Daryl Moore that pre-echoes their influence on I-Sound’s Wasteland, and a number of joints found on the Mute-issued ‘The Amateur Hour’, notably the downtempo hustle of ‘A Little Asphalt here and There’, and the unfurling bleep fizz of ’Telelma’ and a blissed out ‘Prado’.
Star of Shannen SP’s ‘Amapiano Now’ comp, SA’s Teno Afrika tags in a classy pair of sultry vocals and collabs on his 2nd album of warm breeze pads and clockwork-hipped log drum pulses, via Awesome Tapes From Africa
Repping the sound of Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa, 22 y.o. Teno Afrika has become one of the most prominent producers of the region’s prevailing and resoundingly influential Amapiano style. A quintessential, mid-tempo distillation of grimy kwaito and electroid Gqom with US deep house, the sound is currently on heavy rotation between UK (where it’s sparked a time-honoured debate over what tempo it should be played) and certain clubs in NYC, locking crowds into the sort of bounce not heard since the heyday of UKF.
Lutendo Raduvha aka Teno Afrika’s 2nd album after 2021’s ‘Amapiano Selection’ witnesses him deftly tweaking the suspension systems with exacting bounce-per-ounce on eight proper pearls. The vocal cuts are obvious highlights, particularly the lip-bitingly sweet glyde of ‘Fall In Love’ with KayCee, warmly recalling Cooly G vibes, while the title tune bears the warm neo-soul of Leyla on velvet deep house slant. The others are deffo none too shabby too, bringing Don Diego in for the pensile hustle of ‘SK Love’, and the dark but frothy ‘AK Love’, while Stylo MusiQ helps spark off the low-glyding trance lines of ‘Duma ICU’. On a solo flex, the tense hunch of ‘Bells’ and the furtive melody of ‘Gomora Groove’ are unmissable.
Choice cuts of odd Euro body music from Dutch legend Lebbink’s ‘90s house phase surface for 1st time on the Rubber sublabel of BAKK, ripe for heads into Dirk DeSaever’s new beat, Rudi Huybrechts’ EBM, or the noir bops of Victor De Roo and Stroom.
Dripping with Amsterdam sleaze and oddball cool, ‘Wat Doe Je Met Me?’ documents Lebbink’s aerobic soundtracks made mostly in private a decade after becoming a cult figure with with post-punk band Mecano and dropping a run of killer solo nuggz 1981-82. Something of a missing link in the development of wave styles to lowlands EBM and new beat during the ‘80s, Lebbink led a colourful life as a perform, then bouncer at Paradiso and eventually a fitness instructor when he moved away from the neon to more salubrious pursuits.
Dovetailing with prevailing house trends in the early ‘90s, the three tracks on ‘Wat Doe Je Met Me?’ were partly crafted with drum machines and samplers as soundtracks to Ton’s custom calisthenics. We’d love to know the routines to accompany the dark, driving Chicago-meets-Belgium jack of the title track, and likewise the fruitier boost of ‘For You’ with its cooing female vocal sample, and most definitely for the dark energy of ‘Denke Nie Gedacht Zu Haben’, which sounds like Die Dominas updated by Dirk Desaever and La Rolls.
Breezy debut of no wave/free jazzed percussion and zonkkkked hypnagogic atmosphere by Inês Tartaruga Água & Xavier Paes’ duo on Porto-based Favela Discos
Xavier Paes arrives from duties on a succession of Favela Discos (In Trux We Pux Vol. 1 & 2, Milteto) to hash out the Dies Lexic with fellow multi-instrumentalist Inês Tartaruga Água, who makes their first recorded appearance on ‘Lexicon Hall’. Free of conceit, the album appears to be guided by a slow-burning intuition between passages of primordial percussion and wind recalling Zoviet France (‘Running Into The Dusk Having No Place To Go’), crankier no wave/post industrial trample echoing Bourbonese Qualk (‘Praying Machine’), and zoomorphic emulation (‘Birds Are Wind Vessels and We Blow’), before arriving at a standout 13 minute piece of 4th world drone meditation (‘Casa Arder’) redolent of Niagara at their furthest limits, and veering left into lysergic drone techno ambient noise (‘Light Addiction’) with a logic that becomes apparent through immersion.
Incendiary day zero minimal techno from Pan Sonic's shadowy third member, "Kohina" still sounds completely beguiling. Grinding, bass heavy rhythms and fuzzy industrial noise bursts - basically if yr into anything from Actress to Sleeparchive or even Alva Noto, this one's an all-timer.
Originally released back in 1993, 'Kohina' is the lone solo release from Finnish producer Sami Salo, who was a member of Pan Sonic until the late 1990s. Since its release, the four-tracker has served as a low-key genre milestone, predating and informing some of minimal/industrial techno's maddest bangers and still commanding dancefloors almost thirty years later. It emerged before Pan Sonic's genre-shifting, big room friendly "Panasonic EP", and plumbs deeper, avoiding anything as obvious as a proper warehouse kick in favor of hyper-distorted rolls and soft, pummeling subs. Still not sure? Check 'Ratina', that metamorphoses from throbbing radio static into zonked 4/4 before you're even capable of registering the shift. Ain't much else here than a fractured rhythm, but it's minimalism you can completely lose yourself in - if you've clocked SM-LL's recent UAN releases, this is the blueprint.
'Oodi Sahkolle' is more expected, the kind of glassy, rolling floor-filler that would later serve as raw material for Sleeparchive's earliest deployments like 2004's era-defining "Recycle EP". But it's 'Kohina' that has us weak at the knees; this lengthy experiment gets to the heart of what made Salo's material so enticing. Using corrupted samples and a hypnotic synthesizer loop that's eerily reminiscent of Basic Channel's early dub techno experiments, the Finnish producer transports us thru dizzy ambience into pulsating, overdriven mayhem that suggests 4/4 without fully committing to the flex. It's a track that captures the essence of the era's jaw-unhooking warehouse parties and also connects fluidly to industrial tape music and DIY noise, elements that would later become pivotal to US rave outsiders like Container and Pete Swanson. Hertsi was there first.
Guatemalan cellist and producer Mabe Fratti flickers thru abstract freeform jazz, experimental electronics, smokey lounge and evocative Latin folk pop on her acclaimed third album. Unclassifiable and brilliant stuff - RIYL Lucrecia Dalt, Kate Bush, Arthur Russell, or Jenny Hval.
If Mabe Fratti's last two solo releases could be described as dense, or lush, 'Se Ve Desde Aquí' is remarkable for its relative dryness and its clarity of vision. Not as layered as its predecessors, this album feels vulnerable and purposeful at every point, whether it's Fratti's sparing use of electronics - from vintage synths like the Yamaha CS60 and the Korg PS-3200 to the legendary Mellotron - or the focused way she records instruments and her vocals. And it's those breathy vocals that carry the record, cleaner than they've ever been before - there's little or no AutoTune on show, and often the instruments fade into almost silence, leaving her words and tones the space they need to take control. On 'Desde el Cilo' her words curl in-and-out of Jarrett Gilgore's winding saxophone, bass and guitar from I. La Católica, and Gibrán Andrade's skittering drums - those elements play a chaotic foil to Fratti's lithe, enveloping tones that sound as if they're calming a storm.
'No Se Ve Desde Acá' is an unmistakable highlight, creeping slowly from expertly-sculpted, cracking synth squeals into a breathing pop masterpiece that touches the same hallowed zone as Kate Bush's epochal 'Hounds of Love'. When Fratti's cello meets her vocals and the metallic, acidic squelches, it sounds like a modern, skeletal answer to 'Cloudbusting' - like Bush, Fratti writes solid, honest songs but isn't afraid of taking risks with the format, or heading far out into the left field. 'Esta Vez' is more indebted to Arthur Russell, but Fratti doesn't ape so much as reference, bringing the NYC outsider's effervescent lightness to both her playing and her songwriting, interspersing cello and vocal flurries with hypnotic drones. Where so much modern experimental music goes wrong here is that it elevates the experimental aspect over the meat of the songwriting; Fratti does no such thing, keeping every element in strict harmony without sounding as if she's ever beholden to form or function.
The Mellotron makes a saturated visit on 'Algo Grandioso', not to create nostalgia but to add very intentional flutter to Fratti's sparse, delicate songwriting. It's a subtle, loungey breather before 'Cada Músculo' reminds us of the scope of her craft, with faint, electro-acoustic verses exploding into richly orchestrated choruses that burst with unbridled creative energy. Fratti dissolves the song into cinematic dissonance in its final act, fading into soupy kosmische ambience.
Albums like this are increasingly hard to find, and when the world is assuring us that nobody listens to anything from beginning to end, it's encouraging to hear an artist buck that trend so doggedly. 'Se Ve Desde Aquí' might be one of the best experimental pop tomes we've come across this year, and it's one that's bound to grow with every listen. Huge recommendation.
Peruvian sound poetry 1972-2021 in focus on Lima’s excellent Buh Records, introducing a whole new area of research to our ears with 22 parts that mirror the genre’s progress in tandem with technology
Arguably the first great overview of sound poetry from Peru, ‘La Materia Verbal: Antolog í a de la Poes í a Sonora Peruana’ has precedents in a pair of CDs - ‘Nuevas tradiciones orales’ and ‘Irse de lengua’ - that previously laid out the style’s interdisciplinary fusion of experimental art and technology with local culture and oral tradition in 2009 and 2011. This new collection widens the time frame and and arrives with extensive new liner notes for an in-depth survey charting earliest works with tape and collage techniques, thru to the application of AI and algorithmic computer process in the modern day. It’s a persistently beguiling primer on this lesser spotted movement, and especially so for international ears who may be acquainted with sound poetry’s iterations from western academia or experimental art, but we’d daresay have little knowledge of what’s been happening to its forms in the depths of South America.
Broadly cleft between three zones of interest - montage, oral performance, and computerised frameworks - there’s an abundance of strange and wonderful vignette-like transmissions that require no knowledge of Spanish in order to enjoy their rhythmic and textural qualities. The sequencing toggles between these brackets in a disorienting manner, presenting passages of naif computer music such as Mario Montalbetti’s piece for scatty kids and cuboid synths alongside the sensuousness of Jorge Eduardo Eielson’s rolled R’s and the Stakker-esque, dadaist reordering of Francsco Mariotti. The likes of Virginia Benavides deploy extended vocal techniques inspired by nuclear physics, and Luis Fernanda Lindo’s cut-up oddity arrives to a shocking siren call, while Carlos Estela layers his voice with more phantasmic computer music, and Rodrigo Vera Cubas plays with rhythmic impulses beside properly alien transmission by Giancarlo Huapaya and Omar Cordova.
It’s not too much of a leap of the imagination to draw link across borders between these pieces and the experimental pop of South American progressives Lucretia Dalt or Elysia Crampton in parts, and likewise to the likes of Phil Minton or Roy Claire Potter in the UK - they’re all nodes of an interrelated rhizome fascinated with what happens when you stop making immediate sense and get down to the materiality and spirit of spoken word and its myriad meaning in the shifting contexts of contemporary worlds.
The brooding spirits of Tricky and Sensational are invoked on Muki Bu Mudiubi’s debut, head-turn fusion of hunched rap by Senegal’s Zinzin and NYC’s Celestial Trax, made truly international via Finland’s True Aether label
“To tell the true story of Muki Bu Mudiubi is to tell a story of a journey prophesied by a spiritual healer, initiated by a venomous serpent, embarked upon by a young and restless seeker, and realised between four kindred spirits in a far-away land covered in small bodies of sweet water.
Words (mouth sounds) as an instrument: to implement and to convey. That’s how it’s always been. Muki Bu Mudiubi: When young, they all rapped or sang along to words they didn’t understand. From the towns of Thies, Senegal to Helsinki, Finland, via the Netherlands, London, New York and Joutsa, Finland.
Muki Bu Mudiubi: together with the Wolof-tongued vocalist Zinzin, fashion designer and artist Siiri Raasakka, her wife the rapper-filmmaker Ville Valoton, and the artist known as Celestial Trax complete the group.
As prophesied by a senegalese sage, the snakebite had opened a psychic wound in young Zinzin which would manifest itself in the form of a restless quest. Unknown are the roads connecting the most western point of Africa to the northern territory of Finland and its 168,000 bodies of sweet water. Muki Bu Mudiubi is to keep searching. To die not wondering, and to live wondering: how to make wounds beautiful? The serpent within smiles. Muki Bu Mudiubi are based in Helsinki, Finland. Damalén balui thi bir.”
Cuboid acid house zingers by Tom Carruthers, pumping out six propulsive bits of Amiga torque skooled by likes of Juan Atkins, Derrick May, AGCG, 808 State, and Altern-8.
Built to bounce bodies off sweaty walls, ‘Programmed World’ hails the late ‘80s pivot around midi technology, when Amiga DAWs and Cubase software tightened up early house’s cut ’n spliced 4-track tekkerz to a shinier new push.
‘In The Night’ embraces the darkside with its room-scanning pads and clipped strut, while ‘Data Sync’ commands the jack with tangy bleeps and bullish square bass. ‘Digital World’ dials up Juan or Derrick-style Detroit inspirations with classy grasp of hi-tech funk, and ‘Factory Settings’ likewise leans to the kinkier side of 313 a la Blake Baxter. ‘On + On’ injects a bit of dafter UK gurn into the mix with its dippy leads also recalling Novo Line’s skewed return to early rave flavours, and ‘House Jam’ spanks reverse edits and stop/start grooves into a tight jakkers frenzy.
WHEW!!! After a mad hectic volley of Rian Treanor & Nakul Krishnamurthy-esque rhythmic screwballs as Printiig in summer ’22, India’s Shubharun Sengupta returns to Superpang an altered beast with three masterfully Autechrian twiss-ups
‘Central Mass’ firms up any claim for Sengupta to be hailed India’s visionary contemporary electronic artist with a deeply absorbing bout of algorithmic ingenuity of the rarest kind. Sadly we still can’t name any other Indian artists even edging on this area beyond Karnatic music composer Nakul Krishnamurthy, and that’s only a tenuous link. As proved here Sengupta is carving a very unique sound that can be said to reflect the historic, mathematical complexities of Indian classical music but enhanced by computer to produce utterly bewildering fractal designs that mark a heady leap forward from his previous Printiig zingers.
Always a bit of a fool’s errand to truly try and define this kind of madness, if you know what we’re talking about, but this really is some devilishly good shit that will appeal to even the hardest-to-please followers of abstract hyper rhythmic computer music. As opposed to the brevity of the Printiig volley, here he opts for longer timeframes in two substantial parts that play out fascinating polymetric permutations, as with the pit of snakes slither and aerosolised textures to its title part, while ’Submode’ taps into the sort of boneless articulated limbs first found on Æ’s ‘Fol3’ from ‘Quaristice’ and in their current live tekkerz. There’s a little more to grasp onto in the displaced swag of the set’s relatively succinct ’Outprocess’ but it’s basically all serious earfloss and hyper-sensual aerobic mysticism highly recommended to them that know. Phwoooooar gimme more.
Formed in the early 1980s, Phauss is Carl Michael von Hausswolff and Erik Pauser.
"Von Hausswolff and Pauser, who both operated across sound and installation, used Phauss as a means for deconstructing ideas of composition, situationalism, site-specific works and extended performance methodologies. Across the second half of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, they made connections, through their travels, outward from their homeland into scenes and communities that stretched from the Middle East, through North America and into Asia.
Like their travels, their ways of approaching the work they made was similarly wide-reaching and innately curious. They worked with often quite strict conceptual structures within which they were able to unlock entirely new ways of considering composition and also the material production of sound, through performance, through iteration and through considered experimentation which allowed for failure, just as much as success.
Nya Sverige - Nothing But The Truth is a recording made in the United States whilst the pair were undertaking an exhaustive tour in 1991 alongside Hafler Trio and Zbigniew Karkowski. This, now legendary, tour was both arduous and rewarding. Living in a van for many weeks at a time, travelling between cities with the most modest of means meant Phauss came to know a very particular vision of the United States, one that existed below plain view. Their’s was an experience had at the rawest edges of cities.
Equally the performances they gave, from which this edition is assembled, were raw and quite frankly dangerous. Fire on stage, sparks flying from short circuiting electronics and intense physical rituals guided so much of their work during this tour and looking back at bootleg videos from the time it’s difficult to imagine the work being able to be presented in the modern world.
One of the flyers from their tour reads ‘Extreme Swedish Industrial’, and as familiar as those words might appear now, in 1991 they held a very different resonance. They were unfamiliar terms of reference and the intensity of Phauss’s music maintains that unknowability to this day. This is a profoundly individual work and sets the stage for a generation of musicians who followed them."
Subtly hallucinatory, Burroughsian field recording collage by CM Von Hauswolff and Eric Pauser’s Phauss, stitching abstract meta-narratives from the ether of mid ‘80s Switzerland, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan, India, Thailand, The Philippines and USA, Morocco, Algeria, Niger, Benin and Nigeria, with assistance of engineer Zbigniew Karkowski. Reissued for first time in 35 years.
“Audiodrome collects together two discreet works that sit somewhere between field recording, chance composition and experimental soundscape. Both pieces pre-date the widespread arrival of field recording as a creative practice, and expand outward the work that had been developed by musique concréte and other experimental music approaches concerned with the intersections of found sound and composition. Both works were devised using the same working methodology, whereby an alarm would sound every few days and wherever and whenever it sounded the pair would start recording their surroundings. Those raw material became the basis for the pieces.
The first composition Zürich - Zürich is a piece that traces a line around the world, Phauss travelling on a round the world air ticket stopping only in countries where conflict was present. This unsettling journey became a meditation on the evolving state of the world in those moments. Voices, traffic, cafes, radios, transportation system and other incidental environments float into one another in a kind of stream of (temporally incongruous) consciousness.
The second work Alger - Lagos brings to mind some of Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs tape cut-ups. Street musicians are splice against bursts of radio, roadside conversations and searing blasts of industrial noise captured from aircraft and other unfamiliar sources. It is an unsteadying journey where even the sounds of the everyday feel alien and repositioned. The sounds call to us prompting a sensing that is at its heart utterly fascinated, and fascinating.
The edition includes a book featuring an exhaustive collection of photographs, documents and artworks made by Von Hausswolff and Pauser during their journeys undertaken to complete each of the compositions. Many of these images and artworks have never been published previously.”