Head of Atlanta’s Harsh Riddims dispensary, Ryan Parks a.k.a. Fit Of Body takes to Ransom Note with the most substantial showcase of his house and faded pop hybrids, backed with remixes from ATL’s Divine Interface, and European artists; Helter-Skelter and Timothy ‘Heretic’ Clerkin.
Sounding very much like the White Material label gone down the coast, the Healthcare EP mixes the syrupy drawl and slug of southern hip hop with the haziest house themes in five parts, at best in the percolated drums and keening chords of Ridin 2 That Trap or Die, the gritty greaze of Antonio Girl and a real late night gem called All This Time (Since).
Trust Divine Interface to keep it properly ATL with the heat-cracked downstroke of his 56k remix, whereas Helter-Skelter gives the same cut an infectious lick of wavey EBM synths and kinky drum machine trills, and Timothy ‘Heretic’ Clerkin reminds us of long nights at dodgy acid techno raves
Bass Clef’s back on Trilogy Tapes for his 2nd shot of 2017.
A-side he locks deep into JA/UK dub traditions with the barrelling subs and messed-up, spooling steppers’ drums of Interform, then maintains that sense of undulating turbulence into the off-centre lope and skank of Untunnel like N.M.O. on a sun-dazed mission to West Africa, climaxing by driving over the edge into a febrile descent of dubbed-out and cold-sweating darkness.
Optimo Trax go to the technical birthplace of acid (R.I.P. Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi) for an opulent two-track demonstration of the TB-303 in full, feathered flight; taking in the hair-kissing keys and perpetual bassline modulations of Hiroshi Watanabe’s soaring Infinity Sign on top, and Kuniyuki’s trim, brooding and Taiko drum-inflected Acid Air on the other side.
Pulverising techno from Mord’s Dutch stronghold, spitting out six cuts of masticated gristle and slogging drums from a possessed UVB, who rejoins the label after his Life album in 2015 and a slew of slabs for Body Theory over the interim.
This shit’s got teeth, we tell ya; Intolerance clamps down a down brawler’s groove built to raze the room, whereas Least At Last pelts out some mean Brummie tang and We’re All Responsible harnesses some thunderous ballistics in cavernous dimensions. Join In The Ranks feeds some rictus EBM funk into the mix, and Head For Head gets buck wild with the application of visceral, Ancient Methods-esque noise on the groove.
One of the shining, pivotal lights of Germany’s early ‘80s NDW movement, Din A Testbild are subject to a reissue of Programm 3 , which originally arrived 2 years after their seminal debut couplet of electronic explorations for Klaus Schulz’s Innovative Communication.
Headed up by the band’s one constant member Mark Eins, Din A Testbild also includes Ziggy Schöning (keyboard, sequencer programming) and Gina Faust (vocals) amid their “fluctuating conglomerate” for this session.
It’s arguably more whacked out and druggy than it’s predecessor’s zippier avant-pop bits, tracing a wonky late night line from the K-Hole descent of The Person (part 1) thru the clipped machine funk and whorl of smudged porno samples in No Satisfaction, before a very GPO-sounding Mark Eins joins in on vocals and some of thee most messed up synth squiggle you could hope for, and it winds back to pure sleaze in The Call OF Lust.
On the other side, the keening dissonant lather of Naked Beach sounds like a template for so many messed up electro experiments to come, and the slithering loops of The Person (part 2) and the screwed slug of Going Tutu are effectively squalid bedroom/basement music, best known as trip hop, come 20 years early.
First ever release - on any format! - of Din A Testbild’s rejected and long-lost, but totally amazing, 4th album from 1983, engineered by Manuel Göttsching and sounding like a Drexciyan prototype....!!!
Mannequin Records have gone above and beyond to pluck out Din A Testbild’s previously unreleased and never-before-heard Programm 4, written and composed by Mark Eins in West Berlin near the Wall in 1983, all engineered by Manuel Göttsching and with tapes newly “imported and processed” by the group’s one time member Frieder Butzman. If that sentence doesn’t whet your whistle we simply can’t help you!
Slotting a once mythical piece of the NDW puzzle into place, the frenetic and blinding Programm 4 was initially deemed too “synth/punk/techno” by Klaus Schulze’s Innovative Communication and bafflingly remained on ice until Alessandro Adriani convinced Mark Eins to relinquish what turns out to be the fastest, maddest number in the DAT catalogue, over 30 years later.
The four A-side tracks are just astonishing, working with the same set-up as previous records, but turning in what sounds like a set of Detroit electro prototypes between the hard-stepping funk of West Berlin/Tegel Airport and the chaotic chromatic propulsion system of Cold War, whilst Frontstadt veers off of a wild tangent of tangled arpeggios and and orgiastic noise animations that’s just left us gawping, saving what sounds like a long-lost Drexciya missile with West/Berlin Underground just to show off. Oh yeh, and not to mention an 18 minute B-side track that sounds like Krautrock drained of all colour and fed to a pit of rabid, snarling drum machines and phet-riddled punk gremlins in Ost/Berlin.
Fuuuuckkk, this is soooo goooood!
From the Arizona desert via San Fran, Berlin and London, Avalon Emerson presents a driving, dreamy sound with her strongest EP to date following 12”s on Icee Hot and Shtum over the last couple of years.
Her debut for Nic Tasker’s Whities sub-label of Young Turks spells out the cranky, flailing techno groove and elegant alien synth vortices of The Frontier up top, backed with a lop-sided, shoulder-droppin’ sort of Afro-beat-meets-electronica style with the breezy atmosphere and grubbing shuffle of 2000 Species of Cacti, complemented by the sweetly beat-less section, The Frontier (High Desert Synthapella).
It had been preceded by ECM duo albums with Barre Phillips and with Derek Bailey as well as the cooperative band Circle’s great Paris Concert, but Conference of the Birds, recorded in 1972, was Dave Holland’s first album as a full-fledged leader.
"An album of driving, progressive jazz it is also of historical significance as the only occasion when Sam Rivers and Anthony Braxton, two of the music’s most strikingly original saxophonists, recorded together. Inside Dave’s compositions they could meet – if briefly - and share ideas. This summit meeting received raves from the press.
“If you’ve found the new music lacking in swing, cohesion and variety, get to this album,” insisted DownBeat in a five-star review. “It’s Holland’s date but each man contributes equally. The six Holland tunes offer great improvisational frameworks, and his bass playing, both arco and pizzicato, couldn’t be better… Don’t miss this one.”
Personnel: Sam Rivers (reeds, flute), Anthony Braxton (reeds, flute), Dave Holland (double bass), Barry Altschul (percussion, marimba)
The Survivors’ Suite, recorded in 1976, is the crowning achievement of Keith Jarrett’s “American Quartet” with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian, and one of the all-time enduring masterpieces in the ECM catalogue.
Melody Maker: “The Survivors’ Suite is a brilliantly organized and full-blooded work which provides the perfect setting for all four talents. This is a very complete record. It creates its own universe and explores it thoroughly, leaving the listener awed and satisfied... An unashamedly ardent album, Jarrett's very finest.”
The Wire: “The labyrinthine composition seems to redefine ‘intensity’ each time it turns a corner. The drive toward the climax of Side Two is among the most moving in modern music, Dewey Redman absolutely titanic over the surging rhythms.”
Personnel: Keith Jarrett (piano, soprano saxophone, bass recorder, celeste, osi drums), Dewey Redman (tenor saxophone, percussion), Charlie Haden (double bass), Paul Motian (drums, percussion)."
Matthias Bouaziz aka Vicram and brother of Joacim embarks his first solo mission with the wobbly, metallic 303 drive of Squirrel Acid, which teeters across the A-side like some fancy collaboration between Luke Vibert and Michael Mayer on the front, and then like a Bochum Welt bit in the cute bobble of Ballad 303, and with a weirdly spaced-out electro-acoustic sphere within Colibri Dance.
Recorded in 1977 in Oslo, Places was an important album for Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek, and – with its stellar line-up including Americans Jack DeJohnette and Bill Connors – one that also drew significant attention in the US.
“How does Garbarek set up his floating dreamlike moods?” asked Down Beat, and proceeded to itemize components of this “eerie, desolate, bleak” music: “John Taylor plays sustained legato chords, much more like Lutheran church music than, say, Jimmy Smith. The organ provides a backdrop of shifting sonorities…DeJohnette’s playing is airy, concentrating on cymbals, creating shimmering webs of rhythm. Up front is Garbarek, the only real solo voice. He speaks slowly, with attention to detail. He has a fine sense of pitch, so that when he ornaments a note with a bend, a slur or a grace note, it is done precisely, consciously…”
Personnel: Jan Garbarek (tenor and soprano saxophones), Bill Connors (guitar), John Taylor (organ, piano), Jack DeJohnette (drums)
Solstice, recorded 1974, belongs to the great early production projects of ECM, with a new band formed in the studio. It’s the first of Towner’s recorded encounters with the European players, and this US-Norwegian-German quartet has a character all its own.
Perfect Sound Forever: “The LP is not only one of the moodiest ever published by ECM, but by anyone.” Ralph’s synthesis of classical guitar technique and jazz improvisational skills inspires all participants on now-famous tunes including “Nimbus” and “Oceanus”. (Many future associations grew out of this meeting, including the Garbarek/Towner collaboration on Dis, and the integration of Eberhard Weber into the Jan Garbarek Group, and of Jon Christensen into Weber’s Colours band.)
Personnel: Ralph Towner (12-string and classical guitars, piano), Jan Garbarek (tenor and soprano saxophones, flute), Eberhard Weber (bass, cello), Jon Christensen (drums, percussion)
The Corea/Burton duo was brought together by producer Manfred Eicher, and Crystal Silence (recorded in 1972) brought a new chamber music sensibility into jazz improvisation, distinguished by an effervescence of melody and countermelody, with synchronized cascades of sound in continually changing harmonic movement.
“It becomes a little magical,” said Corea. Stereo: “Crystal Silence is an album of extraordinary musicianship and rare beauty. Rarely have two musicians been so perfectly matched and rarely do we hear an album of such consistent excellence and originality.”
Personnel: Gary Burton (vibraphone), Chick Corea (piano)
E-Beam deliver that boom boom shit that makes the kids hype with Storage Media’s 001-4 EP; slugging stentorian kicks, thistly breaks and flash boogie chords on 001; percolating some jittery, caffeinated Maxwell House in 002; and coming with something a little subtler in the wavy chords of 003; and the airy swang of 004. If you like that boring Winona 12” you may like this one, too.
Last year, Music From Memory released a brilliant retrospective of Vito Ricci. Music for Amiga is Ricci’s first vinyl record of original music in decades.
A Symphony For Amiga is an immersive, imaginative suite of ambient themes made using Laurie Spiegel’s Music Mouse software, by Vito Ricci - the celebrated downtown composer whose Music From Memory (1985) LP lent its title to the eponymous label, and was subject of their 2LP retrospective, I Was Crossing A Bridge in 2015.
It’s the response, or result, of a commission from Sanna Almajedi and Invisible City’s Gary Abugan to participate in the exhibition, Intelligent Instruments, which places a necessary focus on the Commodore Amiga PC’s history and influence over a whole generation of artists working with electronic music in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Laurie Spiegel’s Music Mouse software was written with a “built-in knowledge of chord and scale convention and stylistic restraints” which was meant to allow the user a more intuitive compositional process and place more “focus on the other aspects of music in real time”, effectively freeing the user for improvisational purposes.
In Vito Ricci’s hands, the results of his time spent with Spiegel’s gadget sweetly live up to her intentions, offering 12 succinct yet dynamic pieces riddled with Ricci’s painterly flourishes and invitingly warm melodies, flitting between quick osinatos, Nancarrow-like discord and tonal depth with seemingly effortless ease and agility.
After crafting one of the most enduring albums of the last few years with 2008's 'Hazyville', Actress sets his sights on the future with a crucial LP for Honest Jon's. This album signifies two important points; firstly, the fact that Honest Jon's are putting this out at all acknowledges Mr Cunningham's place in the lineage of potentially classic Afrofuturistic music, from George Clinton through Prince and Shake Shakir, and secondly, a major maturity and cohesion in his sound. Wheras it's predecessor was composed over a staggered period of many, many years, this album was fashioned in a fraction of that time, lending a tangible symmetry between these shapeshifting tracks that's as loose as it is detached from the rest of the modern herd. Of the 14 tracks he's selected, we've previously encountered the first two, with the unstable space float of 'Hubble' appearing on a shady Thriller 12" and his remix of Various Production's 'Lost' reminding us how good his most overlooked cuts can be. From here in it's all about that next-level longing, sealing the airlock and initiating pressure sequence with 'Futureproofing', before laying down the robo-boogie with 'Always Human'. Showing a teflon resistance towards easy categorisation, 'Get Ohn (Fairlight Mix)' swerves down a side street into a footwurkin' face-off by cyborgs sliding to a mutilated mix of Jon E Cash and Chez Damier played underwater. Next we hit the erogenous interzone of 'Maze' and that incapacitatingly lush bassline designed to lock into your central nervous system and send shockwaves of piloerection to every f*cking corner of your soul. After that, we're cynically dumped, cold post-sex style into the Ferraro-esque Prince tribute 'Purple Splazsh', and on into the Detroit ghetto stalk of 'Let's Fly'. The dissonant robo-crunk of 'The Kettle Men' and closing entry 'Casanova' confirm that if anything, the man is only suffering from a surfeit of ideas and expanded technical expertise. Which is never a bad thing. If you want music that enhances or removes you from your own reality like the most visceral sci-fi novel or confirms that there is a sprawling future beyond the stasis of too much modern music, this is just absolutely vital listening.
In anticipation of the 35th anniversary next year one of electronic music's most influential recordings, the legendary E2-E4 gets an official rerelease by Manuel Göttsching on his own Label MG.ART...Carefully overseen by the man himself.
An epochal classic, most readers of these pages will know the story, but to indulge you with a recap, Gottsching emerged from the midst of electronic krautrock heroes Ashra tempel and in 1981, off the back of a Klaus Schulze tour, sat down one evening and dropped a continuous piece of music which was eerily to predicate the arc of dance music for a quarter of a century.
Early adopters in the Chicago and Detroit warehouses and mediterranean pleasure palaces must have thrilled to the balanced and continuous surging flow of the hour long piece - even over two sides the mix is perfect for building a club atmosphere and suggesting avenues for mixing, whilst using merely two chords throughout. the minimalism offsets the percussive splendour perfectly - several years later the tune was rediscovered and co-opted into the huge italo house smash Sueno Latino, which cemented its foundation in the burgeoning balearic scene of the time and proceeded through several spells of rapturous revival throughout the nineties, not least when figures like Carl Craig and Basic Channel issued their own radically different reshapes and remakes of the piece.
Very satisfying then to have this Gottsching sanctioned edition, where the game might truly be said to have begun in earnest. As they say on the august walls of the Hardwax emporium - buy or die.
Jahilliya Fields and Patricia reprise their Inhalants duo for a 2nd dose of freeform electronic/house chaos and infidelity on L.I.E.S.
Deep Florida is a swampy, humid no-mans-land taking in cranky horror score electronics (Chasing the Dream) murky modular alchemy (Worry Cry Venus) and nocturnal radiophonic techno treks (Humid Widow) along with parched drum machine and synth abstraction (Weed Etiquette) and, right at the colon, some seriously dark techno voodoo (Deep Florida). Good stuff this...
Yes, Young Marco! The cultishly appreciated Dutch DJ and producer traces the links between Lowlands wave oddities, EBM, disco and US house in a prime double pack for Dekmantel’s Selector series.
We just came over all funny after seeing Force Dimension 200FA (Extended Mix) on the tracklist, which turns out to be Marco’s own edit of this stone cold ’89 EBM peach, and to be fair the original would cost about the same as this whole LP, so you’re winning from the start. You can trust he’s done a smart job on the edit, too!
The rest of the compilation is great, too: the percivals keep coming in the form of Green Baize’s slunky ace Spick and Span; Personal FX’s treacly roller Objects In Mirrors; a wavey late ‘80s Belgian beauty Televisiewereld by Gerrit Hoekema; and overlooked Larry Heard diamond, Dolphin Dream, a.o.
Breathtaking new album from Max Richter, presenting Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works, his score to Wayne McGregor’s award-winning Royal Ballet production Woolf Works, inspired by the eponymous author and, quite remarkably, featuring a snippet of the only known surviving recording of her voice.
Richter plays right on the heart-strings here, offering a score worthy of both the author’s literary significance and the prestigious Royal Ballet, that extracts and weaves the themes, character personalities and atmospheres of her three works; Mrs Dalloway - which opens with the sound of Big Ben and Virginia reading from her essay Craftsmanship for the BBC in 1937; Orlando featuring the same text read in the modern day by Sarah Sutcliffe: and The Waves, which rather crushingly features Gillian Anderson reciting Virginia’s suicide note to her husband.
Some two years in the works, it’s a staggering feat of emotive triggers and dynamic, innovative movement that puts Richter’s (nearly) 30 odd years experience into practice over 16 parts broken down to three movements, almost seamlessly switching back and forth between acoustic and electronic sources, recorded in orchestral, chamber and studio settings, and beautifully used to illuminate and drive the dancers as much as stimulate your own thoughts in far removed different settings.
If the virtue or skill of a composer lies in their ability to convert or alchemise text, feelings and imagery into a format interpretable by instruments, then Richter surely proves his innately humane sensitivity and distinguished breadth of vision with this recording.
New, unreleased and scarce tracks pulled from Harbinger Sound's diverse roster of artists, feat exclusives from Sleaford Mods, Consumer Electronics, Steve Ignorant's Slice Of Life plus tracks from Pain Jerk, Sudden Infant, Phil Julian and load more...
Goldfrapp’s 7th studio album is arguably among their most potent, poignant to date, and that’s no mean feat for a band approaching their 20th anniversary. This may be due to the input of fresh new hands such as Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak) and Leo Abrahams on a number of tracks, or simply down to Goldfrapp assuming their mantle as one of the world’s best-loved and persistent synth-pop units, but either way they’ve cooked up a goodun with Silver Eye.
Where their previous outing Tale Of Us  dabbled with pastoral indie pop alongside the usual smoky, noirish themes, they’ve returned to what they do best here; slickly glam and sensual synth pop proper, illustrated in glossy, sweeping DX7 synth contours and gilded with Alison Goldfrapp’s timeless grasp of impeccable, romantic songwriting.
The mingling of fresh young blood with Goldfrapp’s anachronisms makes for a record that could have been released at almost any point in their catalogue but somehow sounds very now, in a sort of ‘90s-referencing way - which we’d largely put down to the input of Bobby Krlic on four tracks in particular; on the glam stomp of opener Anymore, suggesting NIN meets Taylor Swift, in the sublime DX7 strokes and shoegaze guitar burn of Tigerman, and thru to the biting point crunch and detached vocal processing of Become The One, or the way how Moon In Your Mouth somehow sounds like a beautifully hyper-stylised version of Dido - and we mean that most respectfully.
The rest is sterling, too; highlights also to found in the lip-biting darkroom greazer, Systemagic; the perfectly curdled chords and Alison’s dry ice poise in Faux Suede Drifter; the Fever Ray-like techno-pop thump of Zodiac Black; or the misty-eyed beauty of Beast That Never Was, featuring Slip associate and Brian Eno collaborator Leo Abrahams.
The 15th studio album from musical pioneers Wire. It arrives on the 40th anniversary of their debut performance.
"Colin Newman and Matt Simms’ guitar work is alternately jagged and luminous, while bassist Graham Lewis’s ear-catching lyrics are vivid yet oblique. Meanwhile, drummer Robert Grey provides a virtual masterclass in percussive minimalism. But it’s how the various instruments mesh together that really counts. And Newman’s production creates a sonic space in which even the smallest gesture is accorded some recognition.
Highlights include the optimistic dazzle of ‘Diamonds In Cups’, with its almost T. Rex-style buzz and chug, and the moody swing of ‘This Time’. Elsewhere on the musical spectrum, there’s the menacing widescreen grandeur of ‘Playing Harp for the Fishes’ and breakneck-paced guitar pop of ‘Short Elevated Period’.
Wire are one of the world’s most ground-breaking bands, their influence acknowledged by bands as diverse as Blur, Sonic Youth, R.E.M. and Savages. But they have never been interested in exploiting past glories. For Wire, there is only ever one possible direction: forwards. So it’s perhaps not surprising that over recent years, they’ve played strings of sold-out shows, achieved career-best record sales, and been cited as a strong influence by yet another generation of bands. Wire’s last three albums garnered nothing but rave reviews.
From 2013’s strangely beautiful Change Becomes Us (“It’s fantastic.” – Pitchfork) to the crackling motorik of 2015’s Wire (“It’s all really well turned, potent and crisp.” – The Guardian), and last year’s punchy mini-album Nocturnal Koreans (“It's a cracker and sounds defiantly modern.” – The Quietus).
Consequently, although it may be being released on the band’s 40th anniversary, Silver/Lead is an album which has nothing to do with the past and everything to do with the future.”
Numbers grip one of their biggest heroes, Roman techno lord Marco Passarani, for a tasty session of Italo-disco and electro-house aces in Analog Fingerprints Vol.1.
Last spotted on a handful of mid-tempos jackers for Running Back circa 2012, he dials up the energy and swerve to Glaswegian levels of funk for this outing, strutting in with the expert Italo peacockery of Wonky Wonky Wonky for smiles all round, before guiding your swing to the scissoring hi-hats and killller bassline blow out of Quarto, and then locking it off like some Members Only or Medusas edit styles in his original Tribalonios.
Charmingly fluffy and melodic tech-house bubblers from the artist also known as Baths.
“Ask Will Wiesenfeld to contrast his project Baths with the music made under his Geotic alias and you’ll get a simple response: Baths is active listening, Geotic is passive listening. But behind this straightforward duality exists two projects that are equally poignant yet starkly distinct, reflective of the emotional complexities of its creator.
Don’t mistake “passive listening” for anything remotely resembling apathy. Released on Ghostly International, Geotic’s Abysma might be dance music created for at-home listening, but it’s replete with a quiet beauty and private communion that can rival anything made to command the totality of your attention span. In a world riven by noise and distraction, Abysma is as subtle as Sunday morning ritual, a tender epiphany in a bombastic fireworks show.
As with almost everything American, our dance music gravitates towards extremes. There’s big-room spectacle and strobelites, epileptic lights and steroidal drops, or stripped down techno and house cool. Big Macs or organic grass-fed Wagyu on brioche. What’s rare are albums like Abysma—ones that offer propulsive beats and immersive grooves, refined piano and string compositions occasionally buoyed by Wiesenfeld’s seraphic croon.
Abysma’s unspoken goal is to offer a finishing touch of décor to the apartment—eight celestial burners to rest alongside the Japanese flourishes, comic art, and framed prints. A song like “Laura Corporeal” strikes an atmospheric tone, sad and distant but still danceable. The finale, “Valiance” takes an opposite tack, ending the album on a more positive uplifting note.
It’s a very colorful but simultaneously muted album—a reflection of the music that emerged from the apartment, a rich space in physical and sonic expression.”
Richard Youngs goes disco along with Luke Fowler, Michael Francis Duch and Paul Thomson in their freshly juiced AMOR quartet, recorded mostly a Glasgow’s Green Door Studios and mixed by Golden Teacher/The Modern Institute’s Richard McMaster. The results are as close as you’ll hear to a modern day Arthur Russell, had he just been found living on a croft in Scotland and somehow coaxed back into the studio.
On the A-side Youngs and team hitch up a lithe, 14 minute jam entitled Paradise and revolving Youngs’ distinctive voice on a creamy double bass line and skittish but driving 4/4 disco pulse anchored by Franz Ferdinand drummer Paul Thompson and Michael Francis Duch’s loose, pendulous, rolling bass twang. For the B-side they go in for another durational dose of disco hypnosis and deviation, emerging from a quiet fuss of raga-esque riffs and pattering drums to lock heads down on a Can-style kraut-disco stomp which spirals up, along and out of the groove with a sweetly tempered sense of dancefloor ecstasy.
Billow Observatory – the trans-atlantic duo consisting of Detroit's Jason Kolb (Auburn Lull) and Danish producer Jonas Munk (Manual) – are back with a follow-up to the their debut album from 2012.
”II: Plains/Patterns” departs from the first LP’s amorphous ambient haze with a more rigid, albeit subtle, underpinning of rhythm and pulse. The duo’s obsession with “place and space” comes clearly into focus with an album that draws deeply from Munk and Kolb’s individual proximity to the geographically distant, but oddly similar, sounds of Germany and Michigan, past and present.
Traces of shoegaze, modern minimal electronica, and kosmische appear on every track, but are mutated into something mysterious and new. ”Pulsus”, for example, opens the album with a driving teutonic stutter and washes of serene guitar loops that are punctuated by bursts of filtered synth patterns; a combination that seamlessly bridges the gaps between disparate genres and periods of time. Centerpiece, ”Plains”, expands the ambient formula into a inspired epic in three parts, where swells of processed guitars, distant voices and faint echoes of Detroit techno are weaved together to form a kaleidoscopic whole.
Tracks such as ”Vex” and ”Plum” seem to pay as much homage to Slowdive and Eno's Harold Budd collaborations as to the modern minimalism from Cologne or Berlin. For ambient aficionados, "II: Plains/Patterns" is a gorgeous sounding full-length not to be missed. Out March 31 on milky transparent vinyl (limited to 300 copies!), CD and Download on Azure Vista Records."
Recommended if you like: Brian Eno, Cluster, Slowdive, Pole, Stars Of The Lid, Kompakt Records
Chaz Bundick (Toro Y Moi) spreads his wings into psych rock terrain along with the Mattson twins, Jared and Jonathan, on a charmingly familiar, yet not, new sound for the North American indie-pop hero. Check it for highlights in the fire-dancing Son Moi, the lysergic downstrokes of Steve Pink, and the shimmering summery strut of Disco Kid for some radiant viiiibes.
“Chaz Bundick meets The Mattson 2 "Star Stuff" is the kind of record that only comes about every once in a blue moon. It slips into existence by the merest margins at the very edge of universal consciousness and then expands to fill a vacuum that we didn’t know needed filling until it appeared full right before us.
The unspoken brotherly bond of the Mattson 2 and the incredibly refined and aesthetic genius of Chaz Bundick (playing both the role of musician and producer) combined to invoke this album from the ether. The Mattsons' brotherly forgetfulness acted as a catalyst for this most spectacular of collaborations: Jared Mattson (Guitar/bass/extra dimensional texture) forgot to pack a drum stool for Jonathan (Drums/Intra dimensional rythmality) for a show in Oakland in late 2014.
A mutual friend, photographer Andrew Paynter, said he knew someone nearby who might have one, that someone was Chaz Bundick. Chaz stayed to watch their show, and over the following few months they recorded with no set schedule, no set plan, no rules and no limits.
“We all got together after that first encounter, meeting at Chaz’s home studio in Berkeley. We had no set musical ideas because we wanted this to be fresh and pure and 100% collaborative... The songs started morphing and the camaraderie got so strong, inspired, and positive that it was absolutely exhilarating working together! We had the utmost trust in one another. It naturally became a joint record so it became fitting to call it a "meets" project.” - Jared Mattson”
A packet of mesmerising and wincing off-road house and electro wigglers from Bobby Birdman, who is either BREW proprietor Robert Bergman in disguise, or feasibly Bobby Birdman from NNF. We’re not sure but it doesn’t matter.
Vibes are slack and endearingly messy, colouring out of the lines with the zig-zagging synths and percolated perfussion of Nancy’s Theme, then getting salty on the beat with the clattering Faded, and winding up at the cosmic noise tunnel of Mind Taker and sloping off on the hypnojacker, Wildin’ Out.
If you like Beau Wanzer, RB, the rawest L.I.E.S.; you might like this, too.
Patiently awaiting its go on the reissue carousel ’til now, Die Tödliche Doris’s inspiring, Blixa Bargeld-produced debut LP “ “  turns up on Superior Viaduct’s excellent États-Unis series to help join the dots and plug a gap in myriad NDW, art-punk and experimental collections - especially considering that original, 2nd copies have long been unaffordable. This is real art brut punk music; feral, playful, freakish, anti, immediate, subversive and oblique. A must-check record if you’re into anything from Mars to Frieder Butzmann, Malaria or Wolf Eyes!
“Die Tödliche Doris was born out of West Berlin's lively post-punk community in the early '80s. Along with Einstürzende Neubauten, Malaria, Sprung Aus Den Wolken and Frieder Butzmann, Die Tödliche Doris ranks amongst the Geniale Dilletanten – which roughly translates as "ingenious dilettantes" – who sought to democratize cultural productions beyond the grip of both Western capitalism and GDR socialism. The Geniale Dilletanten became synonymous with a free-for-all approach to music, film, painting and performance where participants encouraged raw expression through provocation and experimentation.
Wolfgang Müller and Nikolaus Utermöhlen founded Die Tödliche Doris in 1980, presenting the public persona of Doris as a constantly shifting entity that deliberately engaged the contradictions of the human condition. The band often referenced themselves in the third person singular, alluding to Doris as a fully-formed female character with explosive, colorful emotions.
For her debut album – originally released on Zickzack in 1982 and playfully titled " " (that is, blank space surrounded by quotation marks) – Doris most closely entertains the notion of a typical rock band with drums, bass and guitar. Produced by Neubauten's Blixa Bargeld, the thirteen songs presented here are disquieting lullabies of profound anxiety, savage and primitive deconstructions of German polka and manic lacerations of punk minimalism: all reflections of the many and fractured personalities of Doris.”
Although the Animal Collective's first 'proper' releases only started showing up in the mainstream in 2003, the band had been performing together for quite some time and refining their other-worldly blend of folk and experimental electronics. In fact, 'Hollinndagain' was released by Secretly Canadian sublabel St. Ives in 2002 but since it was limited to only 300 copies, it didn't last long and those Animal Collective folks have taken it upon themselves and their Paw Tracks label to re-issue the long forgotten recordings. The album was recorded live when the band toured with Black Dice, and understandably is rather noisier (and rather more like Black Dice) than you might expect from the now perfectly toned Animal-like fellers. Looping up shards of guitar, screeching wildly and hammering mercilessly on their percussion it sounds like the gigs must have been a truly invigorating experience, yet it does struggle to come together on cd. This sort of experience has clearly got to be heard 'in the flesh' as such, and although there are moments of greatness on the album (the beautiful Radiophonic experimentation of 'There's an Arrow' or 'Lablakely Dress' for instance) the release as a whole can be difficult to get through in one sitting. In conclusion the record works far better as a museum piece or oddity than a fully fledged album in the way that 'Feels' or 'Sung Tongs' was, where those albums felt lean and perfectly formed and kept their rampant individuality well toned, 'Hollinndagain' comes across as more of a stepping stone before they reached their zen-like area of focus. Without a doubt interesting to hear, but don't be expecting the Beach Boys comparison to be raised when listening to this particular Collective release.
The Cohelmec Ensemble celebrate above all the pleasure of collective music-making. A group without a designated leader, they base their approach on reciprocal listening and equal responsibilities.
"This is reflected in their name, created from the first syllables of the founding member’s names, which would remain unchanged in spite of the subsequent personnel changes: COH as in Jean Cohen (saxophones), EL as in Dominique Elbaz (piano) and MEC as in the brothers François and Jean-Louis Méchali (respectively, amongst others, bass and drums), Evan Chandlee joined them after they had already been playing together for a while, at the time they recorded their first album. The follow-up (appropriately named Next) saw the original pianist leave, to be replaced by guitarist Joseph Dejean, who had already played with the Full Moon Ensemble, known for having accompanied Archie Shepp at the Antibes Jazz Festival in 1970.
In spite of the personnel changes the understanding and cohesion remain total within Cohelmec. They also maintain their trademark ambitious mix of written and improvised material. From this point of view, Next is even more audacious than its predecessor Hippotigris Zebrazebra. Relatively brief tracks follow hot on the heels of one another bolstered by a poly-instrumentality which stands out even more than in the past, giving the album the feel of a contrasting suite. There is a lot going on, leading to evocative atmospheres in which rigour and fantasy go happily hand in hand.
Which is enough to say that this album should please fans of a style of free (chamber?) jazz which includes intelligent composed structures, a form in which French musicians have always demonstrated a personal approach, as in the example of Œil Vision by Jef Gilson in 1964.
Profoundly original and, it has to be said, seminal!
The Cohelmec Ensemble celebrate above all the pleasure of collective music-making. A group without a designated leader, they base their approach on reciprocal listening, but also on a dialogue between written and improvised material, in which all members have an equal responsibility whatever their instrument.
"This is even demonstrated in their name: COH as in Jean Cohen (saxophones), EL as in Dominique Elbaz (piano) and MEC as in the brothers François and Jean-Louis Méchali (respectively, amongst others, bass and drums), joined for this album by Evan Chandlee, known for his participation in Love Rejoice by Kenneth Terroade, and accepted, of course, as a full group member.
Fitting together like hand in glove, the five musicians build something together, rather than trying to destroy an established order, as was the done thing at the start of the 1970s, leaving the expression of an openly political agenda to others. In France there was a tendency to explore an imaginary folklore which allowed certain elements of free jazz to be circumvented without being ignored. Which is why we can be reminded of, in the melody of Hippotigris Zebrazebra when played with collective intensity, the best of American cosmic jazz, while also occasionally hearing McCoy Tyner or even Cecil Taylor under the fingers of Dominique Elbaz, or the vibraphone of Walt Dickerson evoked by Jean-Louis Méchali.
Globally, however, their identity is original (even seminal), a fact which was to be confirmed by their next two recordings. For the record, it should be noted that the first album by the Free Jazz Workshop (from Lyon), another French group with a similar approach, would only be published two years later."
Boldly infusing folk with full flavour, Listen To Formation, Look For The Signs was produced by Ben Edwards, owner of Lyttelton Records in his Sitting Room studios with Nadia's band consisting bassist Richie Pickard, guitarist Sam Taylor and percussionist Joe McCallum.
"Whilst 'Reaching Through's rich but unhurried nature evokes She Hangs Brightly -era Mazzy Star and intricate nuances of Beth Orton are recalled on lead single 'Call The Days' which talks of moving to a new town and was the first song penned after Nadia moved from Christchurch to Wellington; spurred on by a "panic attack" and being "worried about making the right choices in life".
Elsewhere 'Runway' and 'Some Are Lucky' immediately channel Nadia's love of TBGT's Jolie Holland and appreciation for New Zealand's Maori music by Maisey Rika and Anika Moa, plus the inspirational narratives of Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire.”
R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner are both brilliant solo artists but, as Make It Be loudly announces, their voices, performances, and arrangements make for a match made in heaven that's been realised here on earth.
"What happens when R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner get together to record, arrange, and mix R. Stevie's songs? We get to hear an audacious realization of the tracks full potential in an epic collaboration no one saw coming.
Moore and Falkner burst through your door with "I H8 Ppl" and take you on a journey through rock, pop, and experimental textures. Anchors such as "Play My Self Some Music" and "Sincero Amore," keep the effort focused, while guitar-only interludes and spoken word pieces push boundaries.
Before they met up, both artists had long and storied careers, but their paths to cult status take completely opposite routes. Moore is widely considered to be the godfather of the DIY recording aesthetic. Dubbed a “lo-fi legend” by the New York Times, he started his career in the late 60’s, gaining widespread underground recognition during the 70’s punk explosion. Anticipating the viral internet era, Moore made innumerable cheap but brilliant videos. Luckily, many of them eventually found their way to YouTube where a whole new generation of fans discovered his work including the likes of MGMT, Mac DeMarco, The Vaccines and collaborator Ariel Pink.
Falkner was involved in various major label deals as a group member and solo artist. He started with Paisley Underground pioneers The Three O Clock, joined supergroups Jellyfish with Andy Sturmer and Roger Manning, and the Grays with Jon Brion, finally scoring a solo deal with Elektra. He’s gone on to release numerous solo records and has worked with a wide range of artists, including Beck, Air, Brendan Benson and Paul McCartney.
Recorded by Jason Falkner at his Rhetoric Studio in Hollywood with the majority of songs composed by Moore, with one by Falkner, one co-written by the pair, one co-written by Roger Ferguson. There's a wonderful rendition of Huey Smith & The Clowns "Don't You Just Know It."
JMS Khosah finally makes his vinyl debut after releasing a trio of killer split tapes with Brassfoot on his NCA label. For anyone frustrated that they couldn’t play his distinctly rugged sound on wax; now’s your time, pet!
The Tokyo-based, UK-hailing producer proves a perfect candidate for Apron with Still Human: whether riding out for the warehouse with the reverberating Chicago kicks, wiggly bassline and drip-off harmonics of Actuality; the beatdown grind of In And Out; or the biting-point drum crack of Doubt - each cut packs immeasurable bags of swagger aching to go in the mix with records by Funkineven, Lord Tusk or Greg Beato, or the ruff house slab of your choice.
Dry heaving power noise slugs from Melbourne, Australia’s Mark Groves (Dead Boomers, Von Einem et al.) and David Coen (Sow Discord, DIM, Hans Harms, Whitehorse).
They knead your mind with chalky clods of bass and crumbling vocals in Pus, then drill home the monotone message of Lustrous Truncheon, and what sounds like Wold meets NON with Filling A Plastic Bag For A Party In The USA, whilst International Roast quarries out a stark grey boulder from tin grey backdrops.
Debut solo-effort from Panda Bear, now reissued.
In the midst of 2002, with much of his attention focused on his work with the brooklyn-based animal collective, panda bear stepped aside to a more intimate space to reflect upon the death of his father. The resulting young prayer, often coming much closer to classical composition than to the noise/pop experimentations of the Animal Collective, is a collection of beautifully personal and introspective songs.
Young Prayer, recorded in panda bear's childhood home by animal collective member deakin and further produced by the mysterious animal collective brothers known as come winter, guarantees a listening experience as interesting as any animal collective release thus far. A truly soulful album, young prayer is both sonically gorgeous and spiritually uplifting. Recommended.
Superior Viaduct initiate their États-Unis series with Joe Jones’ dizzying demonstration of automated instrumentation, In Performance  made available on vinyl again for its 40th anniversary. Imagine if Harry Bertoia’s metallic clangour on the Sonambient records was driven by a more technoid impulse, but ket slipping out of gear, and you’ve nearly got a grasp on this side’s enigmatic slipperiness.
“After studying with composers John Cage and Earle Brown, Joe Jones became a prominent figure in Fluxus, contributing to the movement's first "yearbox" alongside La Monte Young, György Ligeti and Nam June Paik. Beginning in late 1961, Jones began constructing his own music machines – drawing inspiration from the calliopes, automata and orchestrions of the 19th and early 20th century to create self-playing ensembles of stringed instruments, percussion and woodwinds – "played" through an elaborate (yet decidedly lo-tech) system of rubber bands, balls and tin foil.
Christened the Tone Deaf Music Company, this battery of automated musical instruments generates the sounds on In Performance (originally released in 1977 on the Harlequin Art imprint). With exacting conceptual precision and varied subtleties of natural motion – not unlike Harry Bertoia's sounding sculptures – Jones' machines produce richly-textured strata of sound and serve as engines of paradox. While bringing the figure of the artist-composer to the foreground, the machines ultimately dispense with the need for the performer entirely – a cunning subversion of the fetish for virtuosity and individual genius.”
Italian library maestro Umiliani’s full on disco soundtrack to ‘Dribbling’, aka ’70s Italy’s answer to Soccer AM (promise that will be only ever mention of Soccer AM you will read on this site). Originally issued under the library pseudonym The Soundwork-Shoppers and now sought-after 2nd hand.
“Considering the incredibly wide range of styles adopted by Piero Umiliani during his career, it will come as no surprise for you to know that he also produced disco. And therefore here we have the long awaited reissue of a record that goes by the explicit title of Discomusic. The release was signed as Soundwork Shoppers, a moniker concealing the identities of the Maestro and some of the most talented session musicians of that time, such as Giovanni Tommaso, Dino Piana, Franco D'Andrea, Oscar Valdambrini, Silvano Chimenti and Sergio Carnini to name a few.
The compositions instead, had been credited to Rovi (another alias used by Umiliani). This LP made by ten tracks could have been the perfect soundtrack of a 'Commedia Sexy All'Italiana' (a genre characterised by sex-based plots and bawdy jokes). At that time in Italy disco had still an exotic appeal and was considered apt to accompany a genre of movies that was at once erotic and comic. Discomusic is some sort of a white version of a sound that is inherently black, a unique record within Umiliani's discography. The track Discomania became popular as the closing theme of 90° Minuto, a famous Italian football TV show, bringing Umiliani's music to millions of Italian households.
The cover artwork deserves a special mention: a pop collage by Sandro Lodolo, a director and screenwriter, composer also of TV themes like Rischiatutto (a popular show conducted by Mike Bongiorno).”
In which Ivan Smagghe meets soundtrack composer Rupert Cross for a whimsical experimental trip featuring featuring Adelle Stripe reading from her poem, Big Weekend among a semi-mystic, airy swirl of keys, radiophonic electronics and drones.
“At times the way the voice skipped intermittently, the recording sounded like an exercise in Uncle Bill's scissors technique but in my defence the mic I was using was hidden. I knew Jean was recording me, he'd asked for an interview after finding my name in one of his black notebooks, but Jean didn't know I was recording him. He was tuning into fading echoes and when he thought the tape machine was off he left an echo of his own.
"I caused such scenes on the way to and at kindergarten that first day my mother never bothered risking damage to my nascent psyche by making me return. Consequently come first grade my petulance had precluded me from the nursery school forged friendships of my new classmates. It's why I've always been an observer. But I've never been an archivist. I never wrote the intimate details down. If you fix them on paper there's a danger of shared ownership. The black notebooks contain coded references, the meaning once obvious now somewhat cryptic. Names, some possibly anagrammatical and numbers, presumably long dead phone lines. There are a few sketches but no photographic evidence of any kind. This to most of the population, with its need for minute by minute high def validation, sounds like a curse. I however feel blessed. Evidence is the enemy. Magick for me is the carp in Herman's monastery pond. Brief flashes of gold as I disturb the murky silt of memory."
It's there that one of the only two recordings of Jean's voice comes to an end. Jean has his copy obviously but if I know Jean, it's long been lost or destroyed.
Andrew Weatherall, January 2017”
Previously unissued side of fractured collage by the original Fluxus composer, recorded 1970.
“Opus 67 STRATEGYGETARTS A Symphony, Hommage á Richard Demarco is a previously unissued recording by Henning Christiansen from 1971.
In 1970 the Richard Demarco Gallery in collaboration with the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf organised the exhibition, Strategy: Get Arts. This celebration of art from Düsseldorf was held at the Edinburgh College of Art during the Edinburgh International Festival. The title of the exhibition was a palindrome created by André Thomkins and featured works by Joseph Beuys, Claus Böhmler, George Brecht, Henning Christiansen,, Robert Filliou, Dorothy Iannone, Mauricio Kagel, Dieter Roth amongst others.
Opus 67 STRATEGYGETARTS A Symphony, Hommage á Richard Demarco was sent to Demarco as a gift following the exhibition. Having returned to Denmark Christiansen, along with sound technician Peter Sakse, created Strategygetarts, a sound collage incorporating field recordings from urban spaces, supermarkets, a boxing game, etc.
The sole ‘musical’ element is a piano motif which repeatedly punctuates the recordings. The first side moves forwards, the flip back. A reverse groove will set you straight.”
Previously unreleased soundtrack to the Norwegian cult movie, Heaven and Hell. A soundtrack written and composed by Norwegian maestro Egil Monn-Iversen. It features some of the key Norwegian jazz musicians; Terje Rypdal, Jan Garbarek and the late Svein Christiansen. Jan Erik Kongshaug mixed the session.
"It was originally recorded summer 1969 and planned for a full release, but it never happened, until now! One of the most exciting Norwegian releases this year.
Egil Monn-Iversen nearly perfect score borrows elements from John Barrry and Lalo Schifrin soundtrack music, the opening theme song, sung by Inger Lise Rypdal sounds like it could be a Norwegian Bond movie theme! Key players are hired in from the late 60's Norwegian jazz-scene and you can hear early talents like Jan Garbarek and Terje Rypdal in full bloom! The result is a vivid soundtrack that could rank up with any good 60s 70s European groovy soundtrack score!”
Fabio Frizzi’s score to the 1980 Lucio Fulci thriller Contraband (aka Luca Il Contrabbandiere) on vinyl for the first time in years.
"Fabio Frizzi’s music is irrevocably cool – and surprisingly upbeat at times. Contraband’s main theme is a wonderful melody that is reprised throughout the score, with a suitable touch of melodrama. Frizzi’s talent for catchy tunes is always apparent, whether it includes the stereotypical wah-wah pedal effects or some grooving slap bass.
Kept modern by mixing traditional orchestral elements with electric guitar and a wailing sax, there’s always a degree of underlying tension, mainly coming from the brass section, and there’s some amazing moments featuring a big organ and a sleazy keyboard riff. This is even before the uber-catchy ‘You Are Not The Same’, one of Frizzi’s many contributions to the songs of moviedom. Another excellent Frizzi/Fulci-fest!"
Riveting 2nd LP from French instrument inventor and composer Jacques Brodier for Penultimate Press (who released those amazing Áine O’Dwyer LPs); pursuing the mercurial themes of Filtre De Realité  farther into the ether, using his instrument to filter the reality of shortwave radio scree, together with harmonic strings, sensors, sheet metal and rotating glass spheres of sand.
As you may be able to taste from that itinerary of instrumentation, the sound of Xhos De Villemahu is highly synaesethetic; metallic, and generally coarse in nature, and given to move, buckle and warp with a quality that’s best reflected in the complexity of the artist’s own, absorbing sleeve art - coruscating and roiling, impenetrable and dreamlike.
The rug is persistently pulled from under the listeners feet, leaving us spinning in deep space without handrails or anything so much as a signpost, just a unmetered flow of contoured tones and rubbed harmonics that smudge and dissipate as easily as they appear, occasionally throwing up legible snippets of dialogue from the radio, but tending to suppress them back into the molten, effervescent mass whence they came.
We’re kinda grasping in the dark for comparisons, but it feels something like Decimus and Christina Kubisch collaborated on an electro-magnetic device synched to the stars and strange local radio. A sound that raises more question than it will ever answer but will surely unite everyone in agreement; it’s a proper trip.
Julia Holter opens Domino’s new Documents series of live recordings with a suite of new recordings of songs spanning her debut, Tragedy (2011) thru to Loud City Song (2013) and Have You In My Wilderness (2015), all taking the inspiration from classic BBC sessions and made over the course of two days at world class studio in London.
As anyone who has seen Julia play with her band - Corey Fogel (drums), Devin Hoff (double bass) and Dina Maccabee (violin) - will attest, her songs are really suited to intimate live performance, and it’s fair to say that this LP beautifully captures that aspect of her practice.
It reminds us of the time she played Manchester at the Anthony Burgess Foundation circa 2012; with the captivating singer eventually front and centre, making the seated crowd await her arrival in tense near-silence for a good 20 minutes; the kind of show where the crowd hold their breath ’til the end of each song and then melt afterwards.
We imagine you’ll do the same with this LP, but in the comfort of your own home.