Yves Tumor’s debut for the PAN label offers a perfect distillation of everything the label stands for, filling another as-yet-unnamed niche between the eyes of hypermodern styles. It’s an album that takes you from the most beautifully produced earworm one moment, to the depths of sonic experimentation the next - making for easily one of the most impressive and memorable albums of the year.
The Tennessee-raised, Turin-based artist has sown seeds across the contemporary field in visual as well as musical fields over recent years with releases for NON, Janus and Halcyon Veil issued under an expanding roll call of names, as well as visceral live work for LA's Hood By Air earlier this year. However, it’s under the Yves Tumor moniker that he commits his most personal and noteworthy work to date; the result of three years of creative discovery, drawing from a deeply emotional, vulnerable place to grapple with themes of social anxiety, paranoia and missing loved ones to present one of this year’s most staggering albums.
Serpent Music covers the full bandwidth of Tumor’s far-flung aesthetics, navigating from lushly organic yet elusively distanced instrumental textures in the opening strokes of Devout and the homesick soul ache of The Feeling When You Walk Away, before more oblique, abrasive drums and layered electronics begin to infiltrate the airborne keys of Dajjal, and with Role In Creation he incorporates the east African motifs heard in his Bekelé Berhanu output, but with a much gentler, more optimistic effect.
But just as you begin to get a grip on his slippery scales, Serpent I rushes into a ferocious tribal battery, resolved with the stentorian pastor and doom echo chamber feels of Serpent II, and he really starts to let his mind drift with the conflated pastoral and darkroom noise vibes of Seed, and the eastern-facing Alice Coltrane nod, Spirit In Prison, skizzily returning to smokey vapour trails in Cherish and Face of a Demon, to wash us up on the lonely, distant shores of Perdition.
Alongside the likes of Dean Blunt or Klein, Yves Tumor is patently rewiring the conventions of soul music and psychedelia according to his own, twisted schematic and modernist insight, making this album feel vital at a point where conservative sensibilities seem to have permeated the spirit of so many “independently" minded creators.
Dasha Rush breaks two years of silence since the Sleepstep album for raster-Noon with a fierce return to the ‘floor
Igniting the schranzy drive of Katusha; the brittle boned dark techno rolige of Dystopian Drive; a blank-eyed monotone push called Black Swan; and the ambient acid elegy, Acid Melancholy.
Diverse House tracks from a North Wales-based collective of producers. Styles rove between mellow, Balearic-tinged Deep House from Maxim Lany + Lemahkular, to jazz-tinged moves by Studio Swiss, atmospheric late-night electro-House moods by Luv Jam, and Legowelt-like sci-fi groove of Taylor Made.
Five deep house and Italo trax originating from a stranger part of the UK. A-side: Gnork pulls off the breakbeat-infused old skool house moves of 'Blorp93' and a sub-heavy jacker called 'One Point Two', sounding like some new 100% Silk recruit. Flip it and Heko impresses with the rippling, '86-style Italo emotions of 'Nu Rêve' beside the heaving bass and gothic house vibes of 'Dream Space Inbetween' by Elektra and a strange synth vignette, 'Further Dreams' from Flypost.
Tzusing follows THAT ACE cinematic LP on L.I.E.S. with this trampling collision of throat music, EBM, and industrialised trap for Bedouin Records.
There’s five tracks for the ‘floor or the BDSM dungeon, booting off with the stomping bass and throaty overtones of Flow State featuring Illsee and sinking lowing the bullet-riddled industrial trap wreckage of Shame.
The B-side signals a blank eyed sort of gabber trample with the horn wielding 風雲再起 and then a spot of late ‘80s/early ‘90s EBM swagger with 地心引力抓不住你 and 得意先生.
Shackleton tends to his roots and branches, remerging with vocalist Vengeance Tenfold for the doomy incantations of Sferic Ghost Transmits - their first collaboration since 2012’s The Drawbar Organ EPs - which acts as a more sullen counterpart to the radiant vibes of this year’s brilliant Devotional Songs with Ernesto Tomasini.
Shackleton’s input oscillates from pointillist gamelan percussions and abyssal bass thru to elusive, unfathomable electronic diffusions whilst the impish spirit of Vengeance Tenfold is, at best, a John Balance-like conduit channelling messages older than time itself.
If you can handle the portentousness, though, you’ll be absorbed into a psychedelic narrative of cryptic percussive communication, blues-hooked chants, metallic polymetric cadence and shimmering dissonant miasmas, which, as with any string substance, may leave you feeling dazed and queasy, but ultimately better for undergoing it.
For anyone who knows these records already - you won't need much of a sermon from us about their stature and greatness. If you don't know them - you're in for a treat.
Rhythm & Sound was the project that Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald turned to after their seminal series of recordings as Basic Channel came to an end. From 1997 until 2002 the label released seven 12" EP's which pretty much defined the direction so much electronic music would turn to in its wake - and it still continues to exert a colossal influence, for better or worse. It's perhaps hard to remember over a decade later just how little these productions sounded like anything that preceded them - taking the essence of dub and breaking it down until all that was left was a vapour trail of melody and a colossal bass echo.
We could spend an hour listing all the music that basically came along and copied this template in the intervening years but, the thing is, none of what followed comes anywhere near these productions in terms of substance, none of it has aged in the same way. "Smile" was the fourth release on the label and is for many people its best - a three track EP clocking in at over 20 minutes and once again featuring the voice of Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, on the title track.
Julian House aka The Focus Group twists the kaleidoscope to reveal a fractious mosaic of some 25 vignette-like parts in just over 37 minutes with Stop-Motion Happening, the ‘Groop’’s - as it’s spelt on the cover - most delirious and mid-summery dosage to date.
Referring to that title again, ‘Groop’ as it’s purposefully spelt on the sleeve art, but not the metadata, quite possibly makes a nod to Stereolab’s The Groop Played “Space Age Bachelor Pad Music” and certainly suggests a temporal connection between the two records, if nothing else, as the music itself is perhaps better described as more Space Age Suburban Micro Dosing in its fractal nature and gentility.
The tracks weigh in between 15 seconds at their shortest to nearly 7 minutes at longest, acting like the hazily fragmented recollections of an ageing psychonaut or the sonic sketchbook of a romantic ’60s dreamer who was in the throes of the psychedelic age, with mind opened to Far Eastern thought in the pause-buttoned tabla and sitar chops of Stop Motion Happening and New Toytown Walk and the mystic bliss of Rendering The Forests, whereas other parts tie that in with nods to The Beatles’ psychy phase in Sir John Pepper and The Gone Outside. You can trust the other twenty tracks are of a similarly anachronistic and delightful style.
The lysergic/psilocybic whimsy is strong on this one. Do check.
Mogwai return with their 9th studio album which was recorded with producer Dave Fridmann at his Tarbox Road Studios in New York State.
"Every Country’s Sun, named after a friend’s lack of knowledge in how the universe works, takes two decades of Mogwai’s signature contrasting sounds and distils it, beautifully, into 56 concise minutes of gracious elegance, hymnal trance-rock and transcendental euphoria. It will definitely appeal to fans of the band and will gain many new ones along the way."
Not for the first time, but arguably the most significant, Pye Corner Audio crosses paths with Ghost Box for his first LP of 2016; a narcotically hypnagogic and dystopian trip entitled Stasis.
At least one leap year cycle since his last album with the GB’s, Sleep Games, right now this one feels like a stygian trudge into bleakest futures, operating at such a stoned pace that it moves slower than actual time, and by submitting to its temporal warp we’re allowed to regress back into a pre-digital epoch of paranoid cold, or even civil war atmospheres and paranoia.
It could almost be the soundtrack to a Ben Wheatley flick (low budget, not the over-glossy high rise) about British time travellers, forgoing Dr. Who queso for a more hard-boiled, furtive vibe about anachronistic assassins sent back to kill Nigel Farage at birth, only to uncover that he’s part of an exceedingly dangerous non-human race with ties to Johnson, Cameron and all the other pebble-people, so they round them all up and lock them in a hostel in Middlesbrough with a broken kettle and packet of poisoned monster munch between the lot.
Of course, that fantasy is all set to a soundtrack of wistful electronic mists and pulsating arpeggios that could be right out of some late ‘70s / early ‘80s synth library, and ultimately shows that whilst technology has advanced in the meantime, that ostensibly archaic music still reflects an underlying eldritch darkness contemporary and relevant to both eras, then and now.
Swedish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emil Svanängen, who makes records and plays shows under the enigmatic name of Loney Dear, has been described as "a bafflingly brilliant genius” (LOBF).
"Consistently creating elegant, deeply stirring music, Loney Dear has been described by The Quietus as "…the obsessive work of one man, albeit one that can sing with the vulnerable delicacy of an angel and makes bedroom recordings that sound like God's own orchestra”.
On his upcoming seventh and self-titled album Loney Dear’s Emil Svanängen has undergone a rebirth, a transition and had a profound artistic awakening in which he sees this as the beginning of something very new and very potent."