Amsterdam-based Japanese label Soundofvast hosts the return of Romanian producer, Sorin Rastoaca under his Vid alias with the rolling tech-house minimalism of Sunshineset and a bittersweet ambient interlude backed with the darker, rugged house heft of What Do You.
Joy Orbison makes up for five years of no solo releases by starting his own label, Toss Portal, with a brace of four sticky, bouncing UK techno experiments.
It’s hardly like he’s been asleep for the last five years - he’s kept his workmate up both in collaboration with Boddika on SunkLo, and with Herron as CO/R - but the last we him solo was on Ellipsis way back in 2012, so you can consider this one a tad overdue.
We can hear traces of the SunkLo sounds riddled all over the Toss Portal EP, but it’s also possible to see where Boddika’s Breaks-ier styles were holding him back, as the reticulated funk of Rid cuts loose with a proper feminine pressure that recalls his earliest Joy O work, while the grumbling, cranky Walworth Window morphs with a more messed-up, kinkier appeal of his own, and Rite Ov even introduces a lilting reggae vocal, Main Street or Rhythm & Sound style, on a sloshing steppers groove.
You need this one for the original "Produzione", originally released in 1973 on Piero Umiliani's LP "Problemi d'oggi", an amazing mix of acoustic percussion and electronic experimentation, considered by some as the first example of techno / trance music ever recorded.
The newer reworks by Gerardo Frisina are completely unecessaery.
Wonderful side of spare piano airs, south Pacific instrumentation and field recordings from Lieven Martens (Dolphins Into The Future), based on the writings on Robert Louis Stevenson...
“After two sold out concerts in Tokyo and Osaka, we treat ourselves on a trip to Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands. After spending a little time in the main city of Naha we took a ferry to Tokashikijima, a small island surrounded by coral reefs, mother-of- pearl farms and infested by an aggressive and poisonous snake. Aharen, a classic small beach town stuck in a fabricated memory of 80’s surf movies, was to be our home for just a few days. While walking through its snake infested bush and through its lagoon, while photographing, the Tombeau De Robert Louis Stevenson, a composition I was hinting at in live environments, became reality inside a patchwork of history, of coral reefs. While walking on the beach, more or less solitary since tourist season was just a few months away, while listening to the gorgeous sound of a small motoric fishing boat working on the reef – an ever-pleasing sound -, and to beautiful synthesized steel drum music coming from the local junior school.
In the end the piece became so simple, an almost clinical exhibition of sound, that it became a difficult world entangled in meaning. Like a coral reef that is so pretty, yet dangerous, vibrant, endangered, complex, slow, fast, all at the same time. (…) Since I already figured out how to present my idylls – in a possible dark sense of the word – in the various forms, presented as a storytelling collection in four parts. Being a portrait (which could be a secretive self-portrait), a comment on ethnography, an exotic illustration and a ritual.
The latter used in the most mundane sense ever, since I’d like to stay far away from a sensational bubblegum approach to (religious) pseudo-ethnography, to the copying of ethnic behaviour, or to approaching it as something odd or weird. These behaviourisms unavoidably invoke the end of all rituals, thus making the world a duller place.”
The high priestess of dark blue operatic viscera, Diamanda Galás presents her first new slab in nearly ten years
Dispensing a mixture of live recordings and covers, with a selection of performances unflinchingly captured live in Paris, Copenhagen, and East Sussex, along with studio recordings of her takes on vintage Thelonious Monk and Jimmy Van Heusen songs.
Cologne-based Dame, Lena Willikens, debuts on Cómeme with a cracking EP of darkside dancefloor mystique heavily influenced by '80s wave heritage.
Her 'Phantom Delia' EP pits years of experience DJing on the radio and at her residency for free-spirited Düsseldorf nightspot, Salon Des Amateurs, together with a rarified knowledge of classic wave musics, outernational rhythms and weirdo techno.
The result: a delicately patterned, phantasmic meld of styles; slipping gears between the furtive, droning EBM of 'Howlin Lupus' to the poised Dominatrix ambience of 'Nilpferd' (mistress, do that "ja, ja, ja" thing again, bitte), to the spunky ghost-house of 'Mari Ori' and the creepy-as-f**k, titular closer, which would make a fine soundtrack to stalking the red light district of Düsseldorf in search of Kraftwerk's studio.
For anyone with a kink for those blink 'n miss Kunstkopf 12"s, Tolouse Low Trax, or just good old fashioned wave music…
Glasgow’s Spinning Coin made their first impression on the world at large with 2016’s ‘Albany’ / ‘Sides’, their debut 7” single on Geographic.
"Tellingly, Spinning Coin are part of a tradition of socialist independent pop from the Scottish region, one with a strong history of DIY creativity against the odds. With ‘Raining On Hope Street’ Spinning Coin reveal another, beautifully moving side to their music: it’s a heartbreaker, a gloriously affecting pop melody.
In many ways Spinning Coin catch what’s in the winds of their times and ‘Raining On Hope Street’ understands the complexities of the heart along with the intensities of lived experience."
Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas’ remix makes Beck sound like Panda Bear banished to a viking diskø; Kölsch reaches for the lasers and the WKD blue in the elephantine trance pop of his remix fro Little Dragon and Flume’s Take A Chance.
Mondo issue of the stop-motion animated masterpiece Coraline.
"The soundtrack to Coraline is as haunting as it is whimsical. With the help Budapest Orchestra and Choir behind him, composer Bruno Coulais captures the dark child-like imagination of the titular protagonist with menace and aplomb."
'I'm Not A Heaven Man' is label bossman Stephen Bishop aka Basic House's second album, following the issue of his 'Ambrosias Vol.1' for Norway's boutique Koppklys imprint, and sketches an often bleak soundworld streaked with cryptic chiaroscuro electro-acoustics, ritualist drone, edge-of-the-planet ambience and tape-ground industrial house patterns.
At times it recalls an opiated, sleep-paralysed version of Andy Stott, maybe a darker adjunct to the frayed and abstract environs of Aaron Dilloway, or a more diffuse Thought Broadcast, especially in the deconstructed warehouse interzone of 'Teenage Dog', the sludgy lilt of 'Perishing' or the submerged digital scree of 'Green Dome (Bottomless)'.
But ultimately there's something more elusive, a haptic appreciation of grain and space that we can't place our finger on and should keep us returning to this gem gone 3am when nothing else will fit the atmosphere of glowing computer screen, creaking house timbers and EVP hallucinations.
Icy polyrhythms, stinging acid, modulated reflections, and hallucinatory waves percolate through the latest solo EP from Rrose. Starting deceptively crisp and dry, all three tracks ooze with the kind of slow building, multi-layered intensity that typify Rrose releases.
Composed by Dario Marianelli, KUBO, continues the masterful legacy of Laika Animation Studio's filmography: Incredible visuals, and craft - and equally as powerful soundtracks.
"This Dario's second time composing for the studio, this time dabbling in Japanese instrumentation to bring our titular hero's journey to life."
Steve Rutter keeps modulating his style with the latest B12 seemingly looking to Tricky and late period dubstep for inspiration in the vocal-fragranced downtempo trips of In Vain, at least his 10th release since remerging c. 2015.
Feels like 9am Sunday in a musty Chorlton flat surrounded by empty Oranjebooms and you can’t fight the feeling any more; it’s time to go home.
The Kid gives his wrist a rest to unfurl a suite of cinematic strings underlined by heavy bass and voiced by the elven-voiced Icelandic signer, Emiliana Torrini.
“Kid Koala’s Music To Draw To: Satellite is an uncharted musical journey: an expansive work of ambient electronic soundscapes and chilling ballads in collaboration with Icelandic artist Emilíana Torrini. This inaugural volume in the Music To Draw To series is Kid Koala's first non-sample-based record, instead using an array of synthesizers, keys, guitars, strings, turntables, and inventive recording techniques to portray this heartrending musical story about a couple separated by a mission to Mars.
The output is over 72 atmospheric minutes of stardust settling like fresh snow over Kid Koala’s trove of turntables and sentiment.”
Masterful producer and mastering engineer, Stefan ‘Pole’ Betke, is next up for a creative undertaking of the Schnitzler archives.
By his own admission, a late adoptee to the sizeable canon of Conrad Schnitzler’s work, Stefan Betke is a fine choice to rework the late Kraut icon’s deep tape archive for the latest ‘Con-Struct’ album. Largely occupied with mastering duties since his most recent Pole LP, ‘Wald’, this six-track undertaking is perhaps the best ‘Con-Struct’ yet, offering a sharply-poised exercise in dub dynamics.
Betke coaxes you in with the first two tracks, Wurm and Sieht Hoch, which share the same lazy-eyed string refrain whilst subtly implementing an upwards shift in momentum. From here there is some real head-crushing moments. Lacht is a largely beatless affair that squeezes plenty of unease out through the queasy, sinewy dub FX, and the tripped-out Drachenbäume sind friedliche Wesen has a unique sense of continually fraying at the edges.
The brief Und fängt den Vogel! offers an interlude-shaped lesson in maximal sound design before Betke ends on an extended palate cleanser with a slab of classic Pole dub techno in the shape of Wiegenlied für Katzen.
The Macro man brings some mutant strains of tech-house to D-Edge subsidiary Olga.
Stefan Goldmann’s wayfaring spirit finds him pitching up on the OLGA offshoot of Sao Paolo’s D-EDGE with a pair of frisky, expertly-crafted minimal purrers.
Goldmann sounds like he had plenty of fun in the studio on Radiolarian, kicking out with a mucky dub techno groove then laying it on thick with fizzling pads and snaking pitch bent melodies. Streams offers a trippier side to the Berlin producer’s palette, the sort of thing you can see Ben UFO laying waste to a stadium-sized festival with.
Another icy Nordic beauty from one of Posh Isolation’s more broad-minded acts.
“'I Musik' is the third piece from Kyo, a duet of Hannes Norrvide and Frederik Valentin. With each release the pair make a shift in the project's aesthetic equilibrium, forcing a new constellation of resonances, handing us a new beauty.
'I Musik' presents another wondrous movement in the narrative, like discovering a secret escalator that passes everything you want from a new angle.
The melodramatic pause that their previous album circled with enthusiasm is now considered from a greater distance. Perhaps it is because we have now arrived somewhere? There is a hopeful melancholia that has come with this distance, and it is put to use to describe a scene that feels as human as it is synthetic, as if the world you know is now behind glass. Futures imagined are being recalled, futures undiscovered are being explored—Norrvide and Valentin manage to encode a sense of endlessness to such processes quite casually. The acoustic surfaces brush electronic reflections with an understated sincerity, all of which feels whispered to you by a familiar voice in familiar phrases.
There is such a quiet future being invoked on 'I Musik,' yet we don't know what this quiet may come to be defined against, or if it will come to be defined at all. It's a stillness that isn't fully grasped, and it needn't be. This is its beauty.”
Loke Rahbek’s Croatian Amor pulls together a disparate, motley crew of remixers to dissect and re-stitch some of his best solo work to date: Love Means Taking Action.
Packing ‘em in there, it yields no less than eight new perspectives on the record’s deeply human themes; ranging from the subbass-gilded but weightless new age dimensions of Brynje’s take on Värmland thru the fractured 2-step of Age Coin’s Refugee (ACCA version) and a balmy moment in Why Be’s Love 13 (Island Step) and the rattled jungle prang of Any Life by Yen Towers on the front.
Turn over for what sounds like an underwater Julia Holter in CTM’s Octopus Web and the unmetered pulse and whispers of Ma Langue La Premiere from Felicia Atkinson, which perfectly segues into the Lynchian miasma of Drew Mcdowall’s Love and the candescent ambient romance of Kyo ft. Health & Safety in An Angel.
Hatti Vatti is one of the Polish underground's most vital figures. He is known for his analogue focused interpretations of an array of sounds, from ambient to footwork.
"While working on SZUM (noise or hiss in Polish), his first longplay since 2014, he was invited by Polish National Audiovisual Institute to join RE:VIVE - a project curated by the Netherlands Institute of Sound & Vision that already resulted with a strikingly original LP from Lakker in 2016.
Having already been inspired by the pioneering work of artists from the Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio, founded in 1962, as well as by animated film scores of the 60s, 70s and 80s, RE:VIVE presented Hatti Vatti with the unmissable opportunity to delve with unprecedented access into the vast archives of the Polish National Audiovisual Institute in Warsaw.
Here, he took the original, sometimes fractured yet melodic compositions he had been working on, and injected with a haunting layer of Iron Curtain era psychedelia. Far beyond a typical 'sampledelic' excursion, SZUM is the sound of a cutting edge electronic craftsman, reimagining his forward thinking work alongside the pioneering ghosts of the past. Album offers a typically bold, retro futuristic exploration of Poland's rich history of sound experimentation, one that simultaneously corresponds closely with contemporary issues and events in the country.”
Throughout their time together, the Baltimore-based Arbouretum have been praised for their ability to weave elaborate vocal lines and guitar solos that often unravel into extended improvisation but never with as much finesse as on the masterfully crafted ‘Song Of The Rose’.
"In less practiced hands, these ideas could easily fall into contrivance but on ‘Song of the Rose’ Arbouretum use these elements to perfect their craft of storytelling in song, both lyrically and sonically.
Arbouretum recorded ‘Song Of The Rose’ with Steve Wright at Wrightway Studios. While previous records were recorded in a matter of days, ‘Song Of The Rose’ took weeks. Attention to production details augment their time-tested emphasis on capturing the energy of performance. ‘Song Of The Rose’ is the first time the band has mixed with Kyle Spence (Kurt Vile, Luke Roberts, Harvey Milk) at his studios in Athens, GA."
Lustrous, ambiguously sensual synth expressions from Denmark’s Internazionale.
“The Pale And The Colourful is Internazionale's first album on vinyl, released by Posh Isolation. It comes after a near flood of limited tape releases both through his remarkable Janus Hoved label and through Posh Isolation. It's a logical summary of Internazionale's work up to this point and is the prime example of the sensual synthetic meditations he has come to be known for.
The clear pop sensibility of his compositions are clouded with noises and ambiguous field recordings, and it is somehow hard to really figure out if the music intends to lift us up or hold us down. What is certain is that no Internazionale release up to this point reaches the level of The Pale And The Colourful.”
Bristol's Wisdom Teeth rustle up a low key but hypnotic triple header traversing from the super spacious and sub-heavy minimalism of Simo Cell’s Symmetry to a lean, driving piece of recursive gamelan techno shuffle from Don’t DJ, and the lilting, rhythmelodic and AfrReichian harmonic cadence of K-Lone’s Woniso.
Whereas Pontiak’s 2014 album ‘Innocence’ tore through rowdy riffs and melancholic balladry in a neat half hour, it’s immediately clear from the reverb-heavy trip of opener ‘Easy Does It’ that new album ‘Dialectic Of Ignorance’ is altogether a different beast.
Euphorically defying spatial constraint, brothers Jennings, Van and Lain Carney instead opt to guide each song along its own cosmic trajectory: confident in the outcome but even more excited to enjoy the ride.
Deep thumpin’ house, Detroit and Chicago style, from the new pick-up on Cos_Mos; a division of M>O>S Recordings.
Salomon Duncan is a new moniker to us, and may well be a pseudonym, we just do not know, but he’s clearly got a thing for classic acid, as displayed in the hefty slo-mo charge of Android (AdamantiumMix) whereas Tacci a Spill follows Legowelt-style lines of deep space house inquiry.
Music From Memory follow up the enchanting Suso Sáiz retrospective Odisea with a far more recent survey of the Spanish ambient and new age pioneer’s contemporary output, Rainworks; spanning wistful ambient vignettes to mind-engulfing drone, brittle concrète and drifting solo piano studies commissioned and written in 2016.
Highly regarded for his work with Orquesta De Las Nubes and Música Esporádica for Grabaciones Accidentales (home to Finis Africae, Luids Delgado, Randomize) in the early-mid ‘80s, Sáiz has followed that path ever since, resulting collaborations with Steve Roach and dozens more releases over the interim.
Rainworks finds him still feeling out a sublime, etheric otherness, bringing to life a series of atmospheric pressure systems with a deft, elemental touch in key with the original commission from Hidraulica, Tenerife (Canary Islands), gradually expanding and contracting in ambition from the opening arabesque to the abstract yet richly evocative tract of A Rainy Afternoon at the album’s perimeter.
Louche retro-vintage Balearic wings from Farbror Resande Mac, following the course of previous 12”s with Aficionado, Is It Balearic? Recordings, and Back To The Balearics with a balearic balearic of balearics for the balearic types at Horisontal Mambo.
Northern Spain’s Jasss returns to Mannequin’s Death of The Machines series - which she kicked off in 2016 - with a 2nd shot of harness-straining EBM noise and slow, seksi, mutant chugalug.
No Complicate knuckles down to raw, fleshly synth noise and bony rhythms on the A-side, arching up from a cavernous intro before unleashing a streaking, needling lead that will elicit winces and jackal grins in equal measure.
On No Chance she drags the tempo right down to a 100bpm grind riddled with expressive synth voices and barking stabs, deferring another beastly lead line until it’s required, and promptly resetting the track with electrifying force.
Illicit jackers’ craic from the transatlantic badboys Willie Burns and DJ Overdose; whipping up the urgent, bucking acid track Sonny And Ricardo Give Good Advice backed with a bare bones Beat Mix for the DJs.
Queen of the NON collective, Nkisi makes her solo debut proper with an urgent showcase melding Congolese dance rhythms with Belgian techno and gabber inspirations.
The singular producer, based between Brussels and London, has been throwing down some of the sickest DJ sets online via her NTS show, among others, for the last few years now, alongside her work in curating and managing the NON collective beside Angel Ho and Chino Amobi.
Landing after a string of digital releases, Nkisi’s Kill EP explores the breadth of her rooted, forward and deadly sound: kicking off with the militant dancer’s sensuality of Kill’s hopping polyrhythms and transition from smooth to salty trance electronics, pursued by the downstrokes contours of Can U See Me at her slowest and sweepingly atmospheric.
The other side is a totally different affair, closer in tone to the insistent pressure of her radio and club sets. MWANA comes on like darkside renegade from a Petchy show, all driving snares and bolshy toms pinned into place with sticky EBM bass hits and sky falling pads, then the acid grobble of Parched Lips goes on like something from a lost sect of Spiral Tribe that ended up in a central African republic.
Diario de un Monstruo is a homage to the 1981 album Diary of a Madman by Ozzy Osbourne. It is another (and some might argue, inevitable, addition) to the ongoing Monster series of releases.
"To say Liles’ recording is a cover version of the original Ozzy album is far too simplistic and misleading. This recording adapts motifs and hooks from the original music but is in no way similar. It is a complex tapestry that is woven from many fine threads and at times is a confusing and incomprehensible MONSTROUS interpretation of the classic album. Anyone expecting a hard rock L.P. will be sorely disappointed.
Liles has been obsessed by the original album since its release 36 years ago and has been collecting various L.P. pressings and ephemera associated with Diary of Madman for many years.”
The followup to ‘Oh! Mighty Engine’, ex-Slowdive feller Neil Halstead is again scratching his folkie itch on ‘Palindrome Hunches’.
It would be too obvious for him to go back to his ‘Souvlaki’-era experimentation I suppose, but just for good measure the album kicks off with the Red House Painters-ish ‘Digging Shelters’, a track that might be just as melancholy as anything he’s ever penned. It’s not going to convince desperate Slowdive fans, but it’s a great start to an album that manages to blend the alt-country jangle of Mojave 3 and the whimsical qualities many thought Halstead had left behind. More than just reverberating dream pop, ‘Palindrome Hunches’ is bursting with jangling diary entries, wide reaching influences and genuine heart.
Banana Stand Sound showcase California’s 140bpm sphere with four tracks from the west side.
OH91 goes in with gut-wobbling halfstep pressure and starry lead synths on Meditation; Nights & Serotonin’s Jazz Lick gets mad on a broken, tribal tip hearkening back to original Benga and Hatcha styles; TryTryDieDown wins outright with the R&G bling of Boo; and Crix Saiz brings it back to root on the trapping halfstep lean of Warrior.
Famed Labradfordians Mark Nelson and Robert Donne exhibit an even stronger desire for freeform synthetic experimentation on this second Anjou album for Kranky.
Picking up belatedly where their celebrated eponymous debut LP left off, Mark Nelson and Robert Donne’s Anjou project sounds as sublimated and spacious as ever on Epithymía. No longer in need of Kranky percussionist Steve Hess, Donne and Nelson distil the Anjou approach of framing their synthesis into a state of constant fluctuation down to a suite of six tracks. Largely favouring the long-form approach, this allows Donne and Nelson the freedom to truly express their creative intentions with Anjou
14-minute opener Culicinae is a fine example of this. Framed of five distinct movements, the track shifts between them with a subtle mastery that reveals itself with close attention. There are still whispers of Donne and Nelson’s post-rock inclinations from their Labradford days, evident in the percussive rainstorm that briefly filters through Culicinae, the abstracted bass that cuts through the gauzy, shapeless ambience of Greater Grand Crossing and the smartly deployed guitar drones towards the solemn closing moments of An Empty Bank.
The duo does find a semblance of rhythm on the swelling Soucouyant, choosing to toy with just a few refrains rather than let their fingers wander, whilst Glamr and Georgia combine for an eerie, intangible finale.
Beatrice Dillon meets Kassem Mosse for two higher register adventures on The Trilogy Tapes following their joint tape for Ominira in 2016 and a live collaboration at Tate Liverpool.
In a very smart move designed to simultaneously demonstrate their taste for extreme, puristic sonics and sidestep any preconceptions you may have justifiably built up from their respective catalogues, they’ve completely jettisoned the beat here in favour of two tightrope-walking pieces following glistening, highly strung partials over cavernous, swelling beds of subbass oscillator roil.
The effect is far closer to Kevin Drumm on a mad one or with a vertiginousness that will likely induce panic attacks in anyone who doesn’t like air travel or heights, ‘cause when they really get going it feels like the world has just been pulled from under your feet and, well, you’re fucking flying pal.
This is one of those TTT 12”s that’s sure to slice neeks down the middle. For our 2p, it needs to be heard on the loudest system you can lay your paws on.
Immersive slab of post-techno sound designs from Japan’s Yuji Kondo (half of Steven Porter with Katsunori Sawa) on Kyoto’s 10 Label.
As opposed to Kondo’s prior dancefloor 12”s, this one keeps the ‘floor at a distance, preferring to dance around more weightless and abstract structures occluded with silty layers of atmospheric noise, sustaining a thread of textural, narrative logic that transitions from knotted, rubbly in the first, to more piquant pulses, ghostly rave vocals and sweeping synthetic string arrangements in the last, taking in nimble techno rhythms in the gulf between.
A ruthless digi-stepper from the Mark Ernestus and Honest Jon's-curated Dug Out label!!!
They've truly outdone themselves this time, laying down Anthony Redrose's 'Electric Chair' on a scorching riddim set by JA producer Dennis 'Star' Hayes in 1989. We're left breathless after five plays through, shocking out to the jolting stab syncopations and throbbing futurist bassline. If you've ever been caught up in a Mark Ernestus DJ set and pondered over how much it sounds like techno then this will join the dots for you. Don't sleep! This is a Baaad!
'Gimme Back' provides us with more classic Bullwackies production styles, catching the Love Joys in full flight.
The tune is heart rending, the harmonies magnificent, soulful organ, rocking horns and a crisp Junior Delahaye drum programme, and a finely crafted, deep dub. 'It Ain't Easy' features bluebeat veteran, Blues Buster PHILIP JAMES alongside SONIA ABEL at the microphone. 'Stranger Get Up' is the slower, keyboard cut: moody and honed down to essentials. Yet another exclusive rounds off proceedings, 'Roots Vibes' - again replete with a version - dates from the sessions for the Reggae Vibes album (also recently reissued by the Rhythm & Sound crew. More missing chapters.
Scowly Berlin electro-techno from the Dark Sky trio, back on Modeselektor’s Monkeytown Records with a hunched roller called Kilter traversing from dark side to a chufty post rock swell in the second half, whereas the more pensive, secretive Acacia provides a satisfying ending.