Legendary hardcore label Praxis revive their 5th release, Bourbonese Qualk’s techno onslaught Autonomia, for a necessary reissue on the occasion of its 23rd birthday.
One of a handful of genuine post-punk/post-industrial survivors who’ve consistently held their underground mettle since the late ’70s, Simon Crabb’s Bourbonese Qualk are a vital example of the intersection between politics and music which generates the best records and raves in the UK.
Autonomia catches Crabb’s unit in 1993 going nuts for hardcore and acid techno, just like the rest of the country at that time. However, unlike a number other producers who has made the traversal from ‘80s punk and wave style to electronic dance music in the ‘90s, BQ also brought with them a scuzzy squat attitude ripe for hardcore techno warehouse raves.
That attitude comes out in no uncertain terms in the oblique, hard edged and psychedelic styles on Autonomia, which scales from full-on skull-bashing hardcore to more hypnotic styles reminscent of Psychick Warriors Of Gaia and even sounds like prototype tracky Jamal Moss gear in parts.
It’s pretty much worth it for the orange/black came jacket alone!
Shapeshifting Whities artist Quirke reels between clattering and assymetric strains of ambient techno for Nic Tasker’s label.
Vatied City sounds like ‘90s AI techno played on wood drums and jawbones by some ancient peoples; Transport is more faded, elusive and ghostly, a sort of after-image of the real thing, but still with a strong bass presence; and Hydraulic Deer reminds of 154’s smoky deep techno detachment in a similar way to Actress and Lee Gamble.
NYC/Berlin’s Hayden Payne aka Phase Fatale extends his Redeemer album tracks for proper ‘floor pressure on Hospital Productions.
Order Of Severity lives up to its mantle across the entire A-side, expanded and cut deeper for bass frequency response and allowing the growling mid-range guitars to really cut the the mix, whilst Silent Servant’s input really shows int he 2nd half.
Operate Within hunts down a more typical EBM sound accentuated with clenched snares and raging bass torque on the B-side, next to a cold, killer, blank-eyed augmentation of Spoken Ashes.
SUED’s SVN and SW scale between deep, rolling house and more opiated, ambient styles for the connoisseurs.
On SVN’s side he rolls out a thick, lustrous bassline with breezy pads and shivering percussion in classic NYC/Chicago/Detroit style on Mechine 5, along with a palate cleansing weightless vignette, Dark Plan 8.
SW’s side is slower, duskier, as he shuffles out with the NWAQ-like shimmy of Deepmix on a 111bpm bump, before transmitting a Vainqueur-esque piece of percolated dub chords in Latenightmix.
Never before pressed on vinyl, IBM 1401, A User's Manual, is one of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s most loved works. Released in 2006, the decade since its release has seen Jóhann establish himself as one of the most important composers in the World today, most notably scoring movies such as Arrival, Sicario and The Theory of Everything.
:Inspired by the work his father did in the sixties when chief maintenance engineer of one of Iceland’s first computers, Jóhann originally wrote IBM 1401, A User's Manual to accompany a dance piece by long-standing collaborator and friend, Erna Ómarsdóttir. For this album release, he rewrote it for a sixty-piece string orchestra, with a new final movement (built around a poem by Dorothy Parker) and incorporating both electronics, and reel-to-reel recordings made by his father and friends in 1971 of an enormous IBM 1401 mainframe computer singing the hymn Ísland Ögrum Skoriðby Sigvaldi Kaldalóns as it was being decommissioned.
The first ever pressing of IBM 1401, A User's Manual comes in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, having been reworked by Chris Bigg (v23) from his original design. Pressed on clear vinyl, two album tracks recorded in 2010 with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra at the Rudolfinum, Dvorák Hall in Prague have also been added and are exclusive to this release:
Carsten Nicolai’s Noton present a masterclass in minimalist electronic discipline with Mika Vainio, Ryoji Ikeda + Alva Noto’s powerfully future-proofed Live 2002 performance, recorded at Newcastle’s Baltic arts centre.
The only known recording of the trio, as far as we’re aware, Live 2002 documents three visionary artists in seamless, indivisible collaboration segueing from sublime drone darkness (Movements 1) thru what sounds like a massive computer server centre playing dancehall (Movements 2 + 4), to fiercely dense electro dynamics (Movements 6) and passages of purest, rolling techno pressure (Movements 8), intercut with bodiless, beatless electronic frequency massages.
Being familiar with each artist’s respective, individual catalogues, we’re pretty astonished at the level of democratic control between the three singular producers. While it’s maybe possible (or pedantic) to pick out who’s doing what, and where and when, ultimately the 45 minute performance is a lesson in subtlety and restraint at the service of generating powerful, coolly organised pressure systems, without recourse to convention/cliché (delete as applicable), offering electronic sounds at the purest and perhaps even egoless. Definitely no grandstanding doofus in front of a massive IPhone screen filtering dull as fuck doofs here.
For their first solo outing since 2015, Rrose plumbs the depths of the technosphere in three parts for the Eaux label.
We can think of few other artist so persistently, intently pushing the prism of modern techno as Rrose does right here, firstly exploring the body boneless with the jellyfish form of The Smallest Footprints and then with the chokingly immersive brownian dynamics of The Ends of Weather, before slicing into the ‘floor proper with the martial whirrs and plasmic propulsion system of Nest Of Queens across the B-side.
This one’s strong. No messing.
Black Mass do cybergoth industrial metal for Sacred Bones
Launching the full pelt beats of Odd Scene and Shit Luck to fling us back to the back-rooms of metal club-nights in the early ‘00s, soaked in brown ale and the musk of metalheads. They’re not pissing about.
Reissue of prime Afrobeat cuts by Mushapata, a former boxer whose later experience as bodyguard for Bob Marley’s summer 1980 tour of France lead him to covert to Rastafarianism and start making music.
Saba-Saba Fighting or “fight for peace” was recorded between 1980 and 1984, and draws on Mushapata’s longhand love for the Blues, Soul and Rocksteady he grew up listening to in The DRC, before moving to Lyon in 1975 to pursue career as a boxer.
Up top he comes off like a possessed Fela Kuti over the swingeing drums, horns and guitars of his Afrobeat ace Muanago Yé-Ye, then the reggae influence comes in on the Afrobeat-reggae hybrid Kambere Mushimbe, and much stronger on the lilting Reggae-soul of Mudongo Wangu, which is gilded with some really sweet On-U style digital inflections, and at a loping, sexy Reggae-disco title on Zambe Aponiyo.
Second Woman chase the mutable dynamics of their killer EPs with Spectrum Spools into four grid warping new works for Tresor. If the idea of Basic Channel meets Gábor Lázár in deep space floats your boat, this 12” is an essential purchase!
Comprising Turk Dietrich (Belong) and Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv), Second Woman have forged headlong new tangents for techno over the past 2 years with an acclaimed début album and 12” which pushed the techno envelope at captivating new angles comparable to work by Mark Fell, Gábor Lázár or Rian Treanor as much as Basic Channel, Vladislav Delay and Jlin.
On the pair’s 4th release, their first for Tresor, Second Woman work in flux between warped and relatively conventional styles. The pendulous electro-dub of Instant I kicks up a blinding fuss of over-pronating rhythm and glassy dub FX tending to their experimental side, which they also explore from more spacious perspective in the weightless, unmetered dub matrix of their closing shot, Apart II.
The other tracks are patently techno in design, but unafraid to f*k with the format. On Instant II they anchor in deep dub techno terrain best compared with Porter Ricks’ seminal early work, but with addition of sweeping, balletic hi-hat trills, while Apart II smudges dub techno contours with an intoxicating brownian motion.
‘Innerland’ is the first ever solo album by Engineers co-founder/songwriter and Ulrich Schnauss collaborator Mark Peters.
"It was originally released as a low-key limited-edition cassette late last year, but it sold out immediately through word of mouth and the backing of BBC Radio 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne and Gideon Coe, Uncut magazine and Caught By The River, whose Robin Turner said it was “impossibly beautiful, evoking a bird’s-eye view of its own landscape, one untarnished by the blots and the palettes and the Tescos of the real world”.
It has now been relandscaped into a larger-scale, eight-track album and will get a full release on vinyl, CD and digital on April 20. A collection of instrumentals, with nods to Brian Eno, Talk Talk, Richard Thompson, Vini Reilly and Felt’s Maurice Deebank, ‘Innerland’ highlights Mark’s incredible musicianship, positioning his guitar rather than his voice as the focal point of the music. It also finds him reconnecting with his youth and rediscovering a sense of place, following a move back home to northwest England in late 2016, with all the songs named after local places and landmarks."
Last year’s altered mind opus, Sapa Inca Delirium, showcased The Cyclist at his most eclectic, spanning ayahuasca break-beat and rave jungle pop, but his latest EP returns to the uniquely kinetic and shredded mode of churning electronic rhythm he both named and perfected: “tape throb.”
"Alabaster Thrones collects four of Andrew Morrison’s recent and most vibrantly blasted house constructs, tracked at his home studio in Birmingham, UK during “the height of mania – a time when I had no time.” The context translates: this is urgent, accelerating music, shifting gears at high speed in dim twisting tunnels. The title is “a deflation of grandiosity” cribbed from Ulysses (“…a noble race, rulers of the waves, who sit on thrones of alabaster, silent as the deathless gods”), though Morrison’s meaning is more personal: “It’s a reminder to level yourself and think of all those around you.” A captivating capsule of ravaged forward motion for a ravaged forward-moving age.”
Peacers / Sic Alps lead singer Mike Donovan steps out from behind the ash-stained curtain for his second solo album in the past five years, ‘How To Get Your Record Played In Shops’.
"How To Get Your Record Played In Shops’ is a tribute to the streets where you find the shops that play the records. To pin down this increasingly imagined place, Mike DIYs it to the max, recording everything himself and playing most of it too, basing it largely on piano riffs, which is something different, especially with adding touches of other keys and notes of whatever fits into the scape. The combination of these colourful backings with Mike’s synapse-shifting lyric wit leads us into new odd corners, where the only option seems to be the mirror and eyes looking back deadly at us. Yet, in the chilly sling of SF, the legend of communal lifestyle rules on and, with help from the lads in spots and a Bo ‘Bozmo’ Moore cover to boot, this record can be stowed safely beneath the Peacers umbrella - even in the solo-ist of moments, when Mike’s hand on the piano is delightfully blurry among the reverbs, his voice listing along the falsetto borderline, smile frozen, as a feeling of aloneness and absolute nothing becomes poignantly alive.
Despite (no, because of) all the carnage, ‘How To Get Your Record Played In Shops’ is something to make you really happy when you stumble upon it in the bin, a secret communication outside the lines of corporation entertainment, news media and the rest of the contemporary corruption influences."
Gramz joins Youngsta’s Sentry label with two distorted half step payloads
Dispensing the bitter tang and growling subs of Dip Dip Potato Chip on top, then emerging from a messed-up abstract intro into a lockjawed, chattering killer called Illa on the other side.