Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Hugh Davies & Jamie Muir's pointillistic classic as The Music Improvisation Company is the latest in Honest Jon's righteous Incus reissue programme, out now in a handsome gatefold 2LP edition.
"Though music journalists made a big deal recently about the release of a 1965 rehearsal tape by Derek Bailey’s Joseph Holbrooke trio with Gavin Bryars and Tony Oxley, those early efforts were mere tentative steps along a cliff edge wearing a line safely attached to Coltrane. There’s still a whiff of jazz to Bailey and Parker’s work with the Spontaneous Music Ensemble up to and including 1968’s Karyobin. But with the addition of Jamie Muir — the first great free improvising percussionist who didn’t start out as a jazz drummer — and the way-leftfield electronics of Hugh Davies, the MIC leapt right off that cliff. These six tracks — tight, electric, pointillistic, brilliant, uncompromising and exhilarating — sound like nothing else that came before. In a word, seminal.
"The original concepts of vocal and instrumental music are utterly different. The instrumental impulse is not melody in a 'melodious' sense but an agile movement of the hands which seem to be under the control of a brain centre totally different from that which inspires vocal melody. Altogether, instrumental music, with the exception of rudimentary rhythmic percussion, is as a rule a florid, fast and brilliant display of virtuosity... Quick motion is not merely a means to a musical end but almost an end in itself which always connects with the fingers, the wrists and the whole of the body.
"The inclusion of the above passage from Curt Sachs' The Wellsprings of Music with this album, the recording of which predates the Music Improvisation Company's only other release, the eponymous ECM outing, indicates a clear intention to stake out territory for European Free Improvisation markedly different from that of the (American) Free Jazz it sprang from. The African-American heritage that led to jazz was melodious, vocal, field holler / church-inflected, and the Germans and the Dutch never made any secret of their affection for it, but British free improvisers in the late 1960s were looking elsewhere.
Even so, and though the music press made a big deal a while back about the release of a 1965 rehearsal tape by Derek Bailey's earlier Joseph Holbrooke trio (with Gavin Bryars and Tony Oxley), their early efforts were mere tentative steps along a cliff edge wearing a line safely attached to Coltrane, and there's still a faint but distinct aftertaste of jazz in Bailey and Parker's work with the Spontaneous Music Ensemble up to and including 1968's Karyobin. But with the addition of Jamie Muir - the first great free improvising percussionist who didn't start out as a jazz drummer - and Hugh Davies and his electronics from way out leftfield in the avant garde / experimental world, the MIC leapt right off that cliff. As Nina Hagen screamed later, "1968 is over! Future is Now!" These six tracks – tight, electric, pointillistic, brilliant, uncompromising and exhilarating – sound like nothing else that came before. In a word, seminal."
Motion Ward return with the debut vinyl release from Brown Irwin... sounds like a sun drenched Autechre
"After inaugurating the label with a tape in 2015, our local friend Richard Brown (AKA Brown Irvin) returns to Motion Ward with an oblique two-track 12" entitled "Run Me That Soul". "Locution" flexes a wobbly equilibrium of dubbed dancefloor energy and amorphous acid while "Overcast" coats the B Side in a smeared gradient of ambient wash and shape-shifting stasis. A persuasive pair of parallel worlds for winding up and winding down."
Known by genre aficionados as one of the greatest singers and most riveting stage presences in soul music, Jackie Shane has remained largely unknown outside Toronto, where her career briefly flowered in the 1960s.
"Beyond her unmistakable gift of the gab, Shane is a pioneer of transgender rights, born in a male body but unabashedly living her entire life as a woman at a time when to do so seemed unthinkable. Any Other Way is the first artist-approved collection of Ms. Shane’s work, collecting all six of her 45s and every highlight from the legendary 1967 live sessions at the Sapphire Tavern, including three mind blowing, previously-unreleased tracks. Rob Bowman’s 20,000 word essay is Jackie’s first communication with the public in nearly half a century, telling for the first time ever Jackie Shane’s story in her own words.
This deluxe two album set is copiously illustrated with never-before-seen pictures from a career and a life unlike any other."
Wonky, Arp-driven jacking tackle from Madrilenian producer Bawrut, teamed with remixes by KiNK and Ruf Dug
Listen up for highlights in the strapping polychromatic leads and staggered groove of ‘Pronto Arpeggio’ and the acidic Gqom flex of ‘Shooreee’. On the remixes, KiNK standardises ‘Pronto’ as a rolling electro-house play, and Ruf Dug replace the Gqom vibes with an ‘exotic’ lilt.
ART repress The 4th Wave's 'Attention Please' which originally came out on their Op-Art offshoot in 1996. RIYL the wilder end of Carl Craig's 90's output (69, Paperclip People) with what was happening in the UK with Kirk, The Black Dog, B12 and Stasis.
"4th Wave appeared on the Techno scene in the mid-90’s and like a comet shone blindingly before quickly passing rarely to be seen again. Fortunately 2 glorious EP’s were left in its trailblazing wake; the Touched EP for Carl Craig’s Planet E label in 1995 and Attention Please for Kirk Degiorgio’s Op-Art offshoot label in 1996.
This release has been approved by Steve Paton - the producer behind 4th Wave - who wasn’t easy to track down. Lovingly remastered from the original first generation DAT masters, this EP adds a bonus track “Lounge Music” previously released on the Objet’s D’Art III Compilation and never before available on vinyl.
The music is classic golden-age UK Techno. Detroit influenced with a European twist - the original copies are scarce and only available for collectors prices on the used market. This re-issue makes all four 4th Wave Op-Art tracks available to a new generation and collectors alike."
Suprise drop from Line Explorations. Channeling classic Chain Reaction and Pete Namlook style ambience.
"Spanish artist How to levitate presents his first ambient release entitled ‘’Oceans’’. Greatly influenced by drone, ambient, field recording and synthesizer music scenes, How To Levitate utilises aspects of all such styles to paint a day by the ocean in which the listener can follow the development of such day via movements and intermixtures of recorded nature flowing into synthesizer universe and through to the slowly bubbling rhythms of techno as to reflect the nature of ocean’s own defiant movement and changes throughout a day."
Enchanted UK synth alchemist XVARR blesses Good Morning Tapes’ vinyl series with a gorgeous suite of ambient electronics certain to resonate with disciples of 0PN, Eno, Zoviet France, Colin Potter.
An eldritch beauty ripe with autumnal tone and mushied lushness, ‘She Healed Him In Her Sleep’ follows in the creeping vein of XVARR’s acclaimed 2018 tape ‘Serpent Power’ to bloom his sound with an organic, elemental quality and energy that binds Sufi trance to original kosmische and the kind of quietly humming, pastoral vibe typical of early British synth music.
In four tracks XVARR paints rolling sinewave vistas that unfurl with a timelessly slow-burning and romantic vision, ranging from cinematic sentiments that Eno would be proud of, to passages of amniotic ambient atavism and dream sequence arps that seduce listeners to the sweetest soporific states of mind and distract from everyday reality.
The gently elegiac synth-brass fanfare and strings of the title song unmistakably owe as much to 0PN as Eno’s stately early work, while the plangent jangle of ‘Past Masters’ surely recalls the hiraeth and pull of the sea and land found in Zoviet France’s enigmatic rituals. The pulsing ‘Echoes of Time’ most poignantly brims with the Eastern-oriented optimism of ‘60s and ‘70s electronics, channelling Harmonia via JD Emmanuel, and ‘Terminal Manoeuvre’ instinctively dowses a bout of BoC-like nostalgia in 3 minutes of lilting melody and elliptical oscillator wooze.
We could hardly imagine a lovelier fanfare for the change of the seasons. Time it all with sunset, fleeces and freaky fungi for optimal immersion (and possible optical side-effects).
Originally released in 1994 on Bill Laswell's Axiom imprint, "The Trance Of Seven Colors" is the meeting of musical masters: Pharoah Sanders and Maleem Mahmoud Ghania, son of the master of Gnawa music Maleem Boubker Ghania, and the famous clairvoyant and "moqaddema" A'isha Qabral, and a master of the traditional Gnawa style in his own right.
"Mahmoud learned this craft as a youth along with his brothers, walking from village to village, performing ceremonies with his father Boubker and was one of the few masters (Maleem) who continued to practice the Gnawa tradition strictly for healing (the central ritual of the Gnawa is the trance music ceremony – with the purpose of healing or purification of the participants). With 30 cassette releases of music from the Gnawa repertoire with his own ensemble and performances at every major festival in Morocco, including performing for the King in various contexts, Mahmoud Ghania was also one of Morocco's most prominent professional musicians.
In 1994, Bill Laswell and Pharoah Sanders went to Mocrocco, equipped with just some mobile recording devices, to record Ghania and a large ensemble of musicians (to a good part family members) in a very intimate set up at a private house with the legendary free jazz musician contributing his distinctive tenor saxophone sounds that gained him highest praise as a truely spiritual soul right from the days of playing with John Coltrane and his wife Alice on seminal solo albums like "Karma".
The aptly titled "The Trance of Seven Colors" ranks among the best Gnawa recordings ever released, made it onto the list of "10 incredible percussive albums from around the world" by The Vnyl Factory and is 25 years after its original CD release on finally available on vinyl for the first time.
Full-length debut for PAN from Montreal based duo Pelada, comprising of vocalist Chris Vargas and producer Tobias Rochman, navigating the city’s underground warehouse rave scene with nods to Gabber, Cumbia and the frenetic pace and disorientation of the world right now. Mastered by Jeremy Cox, featuring artwork by Johannes Schnatmann & Bill Kouligas.
An urgent, headstrong volume, 'Movimiento Para Cambio' uses music as a mechanism for delivering ideas central to the group’s moral and political ethos, exploring themes of power, identity, surveillance and environmental justice over a raw mix of rave synths, acid basslines, breakbeats and dembow rhythms.
'A Mí Me Juzgan Por Ser Mujer' (‘I Am Judged Because I’m a Woman’) is an anti-machista anthem, stylistically nodding to NY house, 'Habla Tu Verdad' (‘Speak Your Truth’) emphasises the need to overcome the stigma around discussing sexual harassment, 'Asegura' (‘Secure’) deals with the unprecedented power of Big Data and 'Caderona' (‘big hips’), features a hardline perreo-tinged beat that carries Vargas’ vocals with refreshing ferocity.
Pelada hope to inspire critical self- reflexivity through engagement, demanding space and action via fierce, unrelenting rhythms that seek to enhance and propel the collective will to power. Or as it is written in their liner notes: ‘Open Your Eyes, The Beast Feeds On Exploitation’.
Powerful, mutant techno traction from Aquarian & Deapmash’s AQXDM duo, paving the way for a full project on Houndstooth
With their records played by the likes of RJDAMEssss undd Jasss in recent years, Aquarian & Deapmash arrived at a hard sort of techno funk in their ‘Aegis’ debut for Bedouin Records in 2018. ‘Infrared;’ follows through not he promise of that 12” with some 8 minutes of bolshy club musick, transitioning from dank deep techno akin to T++ into a monstruous, whirring breakbeat techno mechanism set to seek & destroy with lazering mentasms and panic attack diva palpitations.
A follow-up to their Ghostly album ‘Venus in Leo’, 'Over The Rainbow’ is HTRK's soundtrack to Jeffrey Peixoto's Scientology documentary of the same name, providing us with a rare all-instrumental showreel that's testament to a haunting soul that’s long lurked under the hood of their singular, hugely evocative sound.
'Over The Rainbow' strips away HTRK's signature vocals and drum machines in a commission to fit the mood of Peixoto's feature - a film that seeks to better understand Scientology through a range of perspectives, from psychologists to former members. Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang use their considerable knack for conjuring haunting, heavy-lidded feels and ohrwurm hooks to map the mood, deploying a trademark, incisive sense of detachment that colours the film’s intersection of real beliefs and ideas of Scientology as a sect.
In the absence of Jonnine Standish’s vocals and Nigel Yang’s 808 boom, HTRK’s musick is pared to its essence of synths and electronics and painted in hazy, illusive strokes from a palette of smudged pastels mutual to both South California and the band’s native Australia. The result is a 13 part mosaic tiling hazy blue cues with aqueous ambient pads and baroque themes, playing out like the atmospheric strokes to LA noir in a way that silhouettes the film’s probing narrative and rhetoric and also reflects its fascination with American culture and the supernatural in a similar way to Eno’s ambient classics or Lynch flicks and their scores.
Ultimately ‘Over The Rainbow’ is an instant play-it-again entry to HTRK’s catalogue, one that supplies a sort of crystal ball window onto their practice and most subtly illuminates the duo’s masterful control of tonal sensitivity and floating, chamber-like composition. A big recommendation to all lovers of classic ambient music, from Pinkcourtesyphone to Gigi Masin, AFX and Eno.
Debonaire and ruffcut, Molinaro’s 2nd EP rudely falls in line with the sound of Funkineven’s Apron label
Leading on from his 2017 debut, and a stack of NTS shows over the interim, the Londoner moves from plush, beatless synth-jazz to fizzing, restless rare groove electro-soul in ‘Ember’ and something like Dâm-Funk on a lo-fi Bladerunner tip with ‘Entity’, before squaring up the kicks in a style recalling Howard Thomas/H-Fusion on ‘Purity’, and giving it some full wingspan swang in the radiant flight of ‘Pneuma.’
Strong new album from Josh Eustis’ Telefon Tel Aviv, ten years on from ‘Immolate Yourself’ with a heart-wrung episode injecting introspective synth pop and ambient post-rock soul into keening, minimalist frameworks patently nodding to Mark Fell, Gábor Lázár and Vladislav Delay, and warmly comparable with Thom Yorke’s solo work.
"The return of storied Southern Gothic electronic entity Telefon Tel Aviv is as unexpected as it is impressive. Their three influential albums of the 2000’s—Fahrenheit Fair Enough, Map Of What Is Effortless, and Immolate Yourself—charted an increasingly turbulent and textured vision of post-IDM synthetic songcraft, until the sudden passing of founding member Charlie Cooper in 2009 ceased the project, presumably forever.
During the decade since, co-founder Josh Eustis has performed with, produced, mixed, and mastered countless artists, from high-profile institutions (Nine Inch Nails, Puscifer, Apparat) to underground fixtures (Belong, Vatican Shadow, Drab Majesty, Tropic Of Cancer), in addition to his own solo and collaborative work in Sons Of Magdalene and Second Woman. But years of reflection and processing gradually seeded in him a desire to revive TTA and venture a fourth full-length, in the spirit of what they started: Dreams Are Not Enough.
From the shuddering software oscillations of the opening piece, “I dream of it often,” the classic Telefon palette of hyper-modern sound design and smoky nocturnal emotion feels vividly revitalized. The songs stand apart but belong together, threading a veiled narrative of loss, anger, and age—the crumbling of constancies, shifting sands slipping through the hourglass.
The album’s fragmented track titles relate a recurring dream that’s haunted Eustis since childhood, based on a murky incident during a family vacation to a remote Alabama coastline when he was eight. In the dream he swims alone through the waves past the sandbar to where the ocean shelf abruptly drops away into a gradient of infinite darkness; awed, he peers into the depths and sees himself down at the bottom, mouth open and eyes blank, standing motionless like a corpse.
An undercurrent of eerie melancholy flows through the album, manifested in shivering widescreen meditations, depressive twilit modern pop, and devotional industrial abstractions. Melodies emerge and evaporate; rhythms lock in step then fracture and fade; centers cannot hold. “A younger version of myself” deftly encapsulates the unique poignancy and shadowplay of this TTA iteration, shuffling on a hypnotic rhythm with the swing of backwards looping tape as Eustis croons a lost, liminal lament about lost time. “Standing at the bottom of the ocean” sinks even more minimal, subliminal electricity crossfading into skeletal soul built from ghostly bass, smeared chords, and naked voice, before ebbing away in a cyber-screwed downtempo outro.
Eustis speaks of wanting Dreams Are Not Enough to evoke a sense of emptiness, of cutting unnecessary elements from each mix, to convey this as a solitary work—framing an absence. A document as much of what’s not there as what remains."
Light Sounds Dark present a 3LP collection of completely unmarked, obscure and vintage music, dug from their enviable collection for the discerning listener, aka you and us.
Of all their ear-opening compendiums to date this is by far their most wigged and esoteric, ranging from strung-out desert scapes to mutant no wave and one rollicking motorokker that we heard Powell roll out a few weeks ago, but all devoid of any clues as to its provenance bar the run-out groove inscriptions. And that's all we could confidently tell you. Best leave the rest to them:
"This Album depicts an Extraterrestrials extortion to us, explaining how to: Link life to death in a continuous experience. Utiilize the resulting thanatonic energy to travel faster then the speed of Light, turn matter into consciousness and back again, alter evolution at will and exist simultaneously at every moment of time.
Move the entire Universe into the fifth dimensional realm, and say when in history it is possible for this to happen. Light Sounds Dark has also received other information it cannot understand. Since this information was given to us directly but not for us per se, it must be communicated to others, many of whom are better prepared then us to receive it. Accordingly we were shown how to make this Album into a Psychotronic, or mind-matter interactive device which is activated by the approaching listener. By doing this, new information will come to you through the active use of the divine proportion, which is the proportion of life connecting to death."
UK underground star Felix Lee breaks thru with a long-awaited and lushly formed debut album on Planet Mu, flanked by peers including Ecco2k, Yayoyanoh, Oxhy and Kamixlo
As an early collaborator with Elysia Crampton, organiser of London’s influential Endless events and NTS show, and previously producing under the 5tarb01 and Lexxi aliases, Felix Lee has been a pivotal underground figure for the past decade.
With ‘Inna Daze’ he finally presents a definitive self-portrait full of introspective, strung out feels, melancholy melodies and low-key bumps turning strains of reggaeton, R&B and drill to intimate purpose. It’s essentially emo and trip hop for 2019, but with some ruder leans to club music in the likes of ’Still Torn’ and the ripping synth leads of ‘Slow Decay’, both featuring Oxhy, as well as the bolshy militancy of ‘Smoke’ with Kamixlo.
Psych duo Tomaga meets instrument builder Pierre Bastien for an imaginative, inventive elision of loose-limbed, improvised styles and mechanical structure on Nico Jaar’s Other People. Sounds like everything from Pygmy flute music to Sun Ra’s astral vectors and the Italian experiments of Egisto Macchi
“Bastien has been called a “mad musical scientist with a celebrity following” by The Guardian (UK) having collaborated with the likes of filmmaker Pierrick Sorin, fashion designer Issey Miyake, singer and composer Robert Wyatt as well as Aphex Twin, who released three of his albums on his label Rephlex. Tomaga have made more than a dozen records since forming in 2014, pursuing a path of fearless experimentation and sonic brinksmanship that has won them fans and plaudits from far and wide, including Thurston Moore, with whom they collaborated on the CAN Project with Malcolm Mooney, Deb Goodge and others in 2017, as well as Wire, Silver Apples and Stereolab, with whom they toured extensively in summer 2019.
The results are curiously evocative of free jazz by the likes of Sun Ra or Art Ensemble of Chicago paired with the percussive sound worlds of artists like Francis Bebey or Muslimgauze along with unique and sometimes bizarrely exotic tonal landscapes of composers like Catherine Christer Hennix, Carl Stone, or Egisto Macchi.
Recording initially at a studio in the industrial port of Dunkirk, the uneasy bond between borders and states seems to have been a theoretical motor to the collaborative sessions, as well as the bleak landscape of the seaport frontier. This inspiration found further manifestation in the cover image for ‘Bandiera Di Carta’. Resembling a white paper flag, it is, in fact, a photograph of Bastien’s paper and air sound machine installed on stage at Teatro Carignano in Turin as part of the trio’s performance there. This charged, ambivalent image of a blank flag evokes the transcendence of the national, a prescient visual motif that meditates on the contemporary uncertainty around notions of national identity and borders but perhaps also a ‘carte blanche’ for the artists involved, in which they can deviate from the confines of their usual practice into new and strange territories.
For each piece, Bastien’s unique sonic style: by turns his kinetic mechanoid motors, capriciously arrhythmic pipes, or the peculiar susurrus of paper, creates a world in which Tomaga introduce their musical palette. Magaletti’s percussion anchors these sometimes chaotic forces into beguiling syncopations, with Relleen’s synthesizer and organ work creating harmonic counterpoints and interruptive provocations, to which Bastien responds with lyrical turns on prepared trumpet, rubber band, tin foil and bass ocarina.
All three musicians seem to find space to bloom in ways that are markedly different from their individual work and the resulting album is a strikingly original and powerfully bold affirmation of what can happen when venturing beyond the normal in pursuit of the other.”
Brimming with nostalgic charm, Daphne Oram’s sideline in music for school kids resurfaces for the first time in its entirety, including her ‘Electronic Sound Patterns’ amid the original suite of short, electronic adaptations of Bartok, Stravinsky, Shostakovich and others.
Daphne Oram is rightfully hailed as perhaps the most important and overlooked pioneer of British electronic music. In 1959, only one year after establishing the BBC Radiophonic Workshop with Desmond Briscoe, and frustrated by the BBC’s conservatism, she struck out alone, creating music at her Tower Folly studio in Kent. 1962’s ‘Listen, Move and Dance Nos. 1-3’ was one of the few examples of her sidelines to make it onto vinyl back then, and, while some of it has previously appeared on Jonny Trunk’s release of the LP’s ‘Electronic Sound Patterns’, this is the first time the whole LP has been reissued, replete with its original teacher’s notes by Vera Gray.
Surely recalling the squeak of parquet floors and the smell of custard from the canteen, ‘Listen, Move and Dance Nos. 1-3’ was written as instructional music for teachers leading primary school classes for “movement, music and drama”. If you grew up in the UK (or Canada, where the original 2LP was pressed) you’ll surely know the stuff - pretending you’re a tree in the wind, or an ostrich trapped in brambles, while wearing gym kit borrowed from a musty cupboard (or worse, in your pants and vest) - but unless you were doing so in the ‘60s/’70s, Daphne’s efforts have probably escaped you as by the ‘80s schools were already using tape recorders for playback.
The majority of the LP revolves around Vera Gray’s straight excerpts of Bartok, Stravinsky and Shostakovich, among others, but Daphne’s electronic parts are patently the star of the the show. As Vera Gray explains in the notes, the “sound patterns are intended for children to enjoy and may lead them into movement of a dance-like character, or involve them in imaginative situations”, and she goes on to explain Daphne’s process, “By using audio generators, many tape records, filters, ring modulators and other electronic devices she built up the tone colours, pitched each of the notes separately, gave them duration and dynamics and finally spliced the notes together to obtain the required rhythms and sequences.” While we’re not sure that would have meant anything to the average primary school teacher, the notes and music remain a beguiling artefact of bygone educational policies and are perhaps symptomatic of a progressive ‘60s approach to education and experimental music, dance and art forms, essentially posing this record as a strange missing link between early Dr. Who and James Bond soundtracks (which contained lots of Daphne’s electronics), and the cold, imposing, red brick Victorian buildings that many of us called school.
Late night dancehall confessional styles from WithDrawn & Rachel Long, teamed with a reflective version by Young Echo’s O$VMV$M (Neek & Amos Childs).
Arriving on the Empty Head Rich Heart label from Witten, Germany (seemingly twinned with Bristol, UK) after shots by African Ghost Valley and Ossia with Chester Giles, the A-side features a coolly exasperated Rachel Long chatting about unrequited love over curved subs and woodblock percussion in the bluesy stepper ‘Shelter’, which O$VMV$M reshuffle with a blunted ‘90s dancehall bump threaded with poignant vocal phrases from the OG and smudged with noctilucent pads, Bristol style. Feeling this.
“Holger” is of course Holger Czukay and the whole LP is dedicated to Smith and Mudd’s time spent with him and Ursa Major at Can’s famous Inner Space Studio in Weilerswist, near Cologne.
"It seems KPM have long been fans of Smith and Mudd and, after being introduced to each other by mutual friend Andy Allday, the peerless Balearic maestros were invited to contribute to the library label’s digital-only “Album Shorts” project. The results are predictably wonderful. With past projects under our belt working with everyone involved so far it made perfect sense for Be With to take on the vinyl release of this instant library classic. But why is it called “Tea With Holger”? When not recording it seems they spent a great deal of time sat around being entertained by Holger’s stories and drinking many cups of different sorts of tea from all over the world. These moments provide some their fondest memories of their visits:
“Looking back, it was pretty incredible that we spent part of our lives with Holger in one of the most magical places we’ve ever known, Inner Space Studio. We have our memories and, of course, the Bison album we made with him. But to honour the time we spent with him, we wanted to dedicate an album to him called ‘Tea With Holger’. The names of the tracks are about that time.” The album was recorded over several years in London, Margate and Gorthleck, a small hamlet in the Scottish Highlands. Mike Piggott, who played with Bert Jansch, handled the strings and played violin whilst Sam Creer lent his virtuoso cello work to the proceedings. The sessions employed a key recording technique from their time with Holger: hit record and play. They wanted to capture magical improvisational moments live and not do the work later on in editing.
In their own words (and in classic library record sleeve style) these tracks are collectively described as “Balearic themes including breezy soul, sun-dappled melodies, warm pianos and sweeping strings”. You want to hear this, right? The album is vintage Smith and Mudd. The gentle piano ushering in opening track “The Gardener” is soon joined by low, bubbling drums. When the time is just right, lush guitars glisten above a Welsh language vocal that floats like silk. Easy as a sea breeze. “Innerspace” is of course a nod to Can’s aforementioned studio. Dark, heavy piano meets rolling drums before warm chords and luscious strings take over, gliding over moody grooves to drive you home. Closing out side A, “Weilerswist” delivers more beautifully rolling piano and guitars over thumping cellos and building drums.
Side B opens with the full, string-enhanced version of “Away From Me”. This is Smith and Mudd’s prefered version and it’s only available here on this vinyl issue. For us it’s the standout on this all-highlight album. Tribal tones, piano and cello set a melodic staccato for violin to soar over while rolling piano lines and gospel organ chords descend into a drum drop that leads to a glorious vocal lead finale. Distant synths introduce sun-drenched guitars and uplifting strings in “Kölner Street”, before a spacey Moog solo leads to a spellbinding, sci-fi drop. The sunshine returns before the track ends. The album closes with “Tea With Holger”. Airy vocal swells are punctuated by plucked cellos and picked guitars, all wonderfully warmed by a soulful piano.
Cut by Pete Norman and pressed in the Netherlands by Record Industry, “Tea With Holger” comes in a classic KPM green sleeve complete with track descriptions from Smith and Mudd themselves. The finishing visual touches come courtesy of Richard Robinson. We’ve given this record the same care and attention as we give to each our KPM re-issues, and it’s just as essential."
Super rare deep spiritual jazz album with a heavy Brazilian influence featuring Nana Vasconceles, Dom Salvador, Portinho, Cecil McBee and more. Originally released privately by the artist and flautist Lloyd McNeill in 1980 and out of print for nearly 40 years.
"Lloyd McNeill is a cultural polymath – a multi- disciplinarian flautist, painter, academic, poet, and photographer – who has worked with everyone from Mulatu Astatke to Nina Simone, Eric Dolphy and Nana Vasconcelos (and as a painter was befriended by Picasso!). McNeill grew up during the era of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and his life and work is a reflection of those ideals. All of his music was only ever released on his own private-press record label, echoing the Civil Rights and African-American themes of the era - black economic empowerment and self- sufficiency – and there is a beautiful spirituality in all his music."
Stars Are the Light, the luminous seventh album by the American psych explorers Moon Duo, marks a progression into significantly new territory. From a preoccupation with the transcendental and occult that informed Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada’s guitar-driven psych rock, and reached its apotheosis in the acclaimed Occult Architecture diptych, Stars Are the Light sees the band synthesize the abstract and metaphysical with the embodied and terrestrial.
"Branching out from Occult Architecture Vol. 2, the album has a sonic physicality that is at once propulsive and undulating; it puts dance at the heart of an expansive nexus that connects the body to the stars. These are songs about embodied human experience — love, change, misunderstanding, internal struggle, joy, misery, alienation, discord, harmony, celebration — rendered as a kind of dance of the self, both in relation to other selves and to the eternal dance of the cosmos.
Taking disco as its groove-oriented departure point, Stars Are the Light shimmers with elements of ’70s funk and ’90s rave. Johnson’s signature guitar sound is at its most languid and refined, while Yamada’s synths and oneiric vocals are foregrounded to create a spacious percussiveness that invites the body to move with its mesmeric rhythms. With Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3, Spectrum) at the mixing desk in Portugal’s Serra de Sintra, (known to the Romans as “The Mountains of the Moon”) the area’s lush landscape and powerful lunar energies exerted a strong influence on the vibe and sonic texture of the album.
On embracing disco as an inspiration, Yamada says, “It’s something we hadn’t referenced in our music before, but its core concepts really align with what we were circling around as we made the album. Disco is dance music, first and foremost, and we were digging our way into the idea of this endless dance of bodies in nature. We were also very inspired by the space and community of a disco – a space of free self-expression through dance, fashion, and mode of being; where everyone was welcome, diversity was celebrated, and identity could be fluid; where the life force that animates each of us differently could flower.”
Amsterdam’s Konduku stretches out on a deep minimal bass excursion for Idle Hands following an album and 12”s with Nous’klaer Audio in 2018
Playing well into Idle Hands’ carefully patient, low key and intimate style, the 12” spins between beautifully suspended subbass and subaquatic pads, like a dank Villalobos, in the cavernous space of Lila’, alongside the serene patient of bird calls that flock over rolling minimalist electro patterns on ‘Kaş Merkez’, whereas ‘Bolu’ swings on a very well tucked 2-step in smoky, noir vibes, and ‘Caduta Di Massi’ simmers on a subtly distinguished sort of electro dub house flex with a delicacy comparable to Isolée productions, but moodier.
Paul Purgas (Emptyset) and Imran Perretta ruminate on a shared heritage and musical interests, sampling South Asian sound archives in post-dubstep and etheric electronic styles exploring diasporic echoes and addressing themes of mythology, futurity and the trauma of partition
Their A-side ‘Heema’ revolves around a lonely vocal phrase rendered in plangent space with massive subs to sound like a distant cousin to Ayshay’s ‘Warn U’ or a stripped down Aïsha Devi piece. On the B-side they weigh in a more dramatic contrast with lurching, scudding Bristolian bass styles of ’Shiva Dance.’
A Colourful Storm presents a mini-album by Kallista Kult, the newest and most shadowy members to join the label's eclectic roster.
"Rumoured to be comprised of a core group of modern Oz improv and DIY luminaries with ties to Brandenburg and Black Rock, the sprawling, deeply evocative tracks draw comparisons with the Ghost Box axis, that Michael O'Shea record, Inga Copeland and, dare we say, those rare-as-hen's-teeth Threshold Houseboys Choir CDR's."
Call Super and Parris craftily consolidate and explore each other’s style in a strong pair of collaborations
Striding at 133bpm in the dub-techno-stepper ‘Chiseler’s Rush’, Call Super is clearly in charge of the tempo, but the rhythm is typically offset with Parris’ deep rooted nous, resulting in a supple, Sheffield-style mid-ground between crystalline AI techno and rolling UK steppers vibes.
Dipping down to circa 120bpm on ‘Magenta’, Parris pulls Call Super into his temporality for a more spacious play on unresolved rhythms, dabbing deft bass patterns and flyaway chords with rippling marimba and organ motifs to sound out somewhere between recent Raime, Beatrice Dillon, and Peverelist.
Joanna Brouk’s golden new age/modern classical Moog & electric piano masterpiece is reissued on vinyl for the first time, following a resoundingly-praised 2016 compilation that revolved around its titular, 21 minute highlight.
Now replete with the original 1980 tape edition’s three B-side works for synth, saron (gamelan) and bells, ’The Space Between’ is a sublimely reclined and contemplative record for troubled minds and times that beautifully resonates with a clear and present need for the new age zeitgeist. It is among the loveliest examples of meditative music to emerge from a vital period of activity at Mills College Center For Contemporary Music, where Joanna studied under Robert Ashley and Terry Riley, and collaborated with notable peers such as Bill Maraldo (who also plays electric piano here) and Maggi Payne, whose contributions can be heard on the broader Brouk compilation ‘Hearing Music.’
Until relatively recently Joanna’s music was little known beyond new age crystal-clutching types and those with enviable tape collections, but the radiant upsurge in reissued new age obscurities has inevitably lead to her music, which was typically heard alongside the likes of Don Slepian in the legendary Hearts of Space radio broadcasts. However, like Slepian’s coveted classic Sea Of Bliss’, and many other new age charm that have resurfaced in recent times, the fact that Joanna’s music was issued on scarce tape editions has kept it reserved to blogs and YouTube until he mid part of this decade.
Understandably freckled with a bit of crackle (sorry purists, you’ll either have to make it yourself or get used to a bit of grime on the lens) from the original tape, the album takes on a new life on vinyl, with the lilting simplicity Joanna’s Moog pads and chimes fronding Bill Maraldo’s breezy electric piano in ’The Space Between’ and convecting a sound somewhere between Iasos’ dream sequences and Raul Lovisoni/Francesco Messina’s ‘Prati Del Monte Analogo’ classique, whereas the B-side trio yield a gently shimmering play of iridescent, golden tones that melt on the pineal with a digital clarity akin to Maggi Payne’s music, with unmissable moments in the gentle swell of ‘Winter Chimes’ and the spirit-healing glow of ‘Golden Cloud Layers.’
Once again, we highly recommend consuming this music with some special letters and numbers for optimal effect, but suffice it to say it’s beauty will strike you in any state of mind.
For anyone who knows these records already - you won't need much of a sermon from us about their stature and greatness. If you don't know them - you're in for a treat.
Rhythm & Sound was the project that Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald turned to after their seminal series of recordings as Basic Channel came to an end. From 1997 until 2002 the label released seven 12" EP's which pretty much defined the direction so much electronic music would turn to in its wake - and it still continues to exert a colossal influence, for better or worse. It's perhaps hard to remember over a decade later just how little these productions sounded like anything that preceded them - taking the essence of dub and breaking it down until all that was left was a vapour trail of melody and a colossal bass echo. We could spend an hour listing all the music that basically came along and copied this template in the intervening years but, the thing is, none of what followed comes anywhere near these productions in terms of substance, none of it has aged in the same way.
"Mango Walk / Mango Drive" was the second release on the label and, for many, remains its finest moment. The a-side features an original production from the Wackies vaults by Azul & Bullwackie recorded in 1979, with an incredible 9 minute revision from Mark and Moritz on the flip. The version that appeared on the Rhythm & Sound 'Compilation' is over two minutes shorter.