Exemplary, psychedelic D&B swerve from a possibly unlikely source; NYC-via-Washington DC’s 1432R, home to Afro-American and Outernational smarts from Mikael Seifu, Dawit Eklund, Ocobaya.
As far as debut introductions go, RBCHMBRS’ Estrella EP is like some super elaborate handshake that doesn’t finish until the record stops, by which time you’re sparked out, wide-eyed and wondering; what the f**k just happened?
Like one of the more rabid cuts from Demdike Stare or Turinn’s new LP has been short-circuited by Orphan Drift and dubbed-up by SKRSINTL, all three cuts run the maddest, headiest vibes; going headlong into the echoplex with scything filters and stuttering edits in Estrella, then with severely messed up, hyper punctuation in Another, before cutting shades deeper with fractured 2-step patterns and relentless chops recalling Macc & dgoHn in A’Roving.
22 years since its original release in 1995, 'On Avery Island' gets a vinyl reissue.
"Fire Records re-press Neutral Milk Hotel’s explosive 1996 debut ‘On Avery Island’. Jeff Mangum's songs are cryptic and crazed, his ideas fast and furious, and together they force the home-recording concept out of the basement and into a brave new world, a fuzzy masterpiece of experimental lo-fi recording. Full of rapid-fire wordplay with true and heartfelt experimentation, both ambitious and eclectic, it's not hard to see why this has been such an influential album. Part of the fabled Elephant 6 collective, Neutral Milk Hotel won over many a music critic with this cult classic.
The band are recognized as one of the most influential alternative acts to come out of the mid-90s and sowed the seeds for everything from anti-folk to the likes of Arcade Fire, Caribou and even Franz Ferdinand."
Stunning split release between Maurizio Bianchi, godfather of the Italian industrial noise scene, and Abul Mogard, the much loved and hyperstitious synthesist, conjuring a spellbinding testament to the transcendent and transportive energies of electronic music.
Although appearing to starkly contrast on the surface, both artist’s work patently shares a lust for the suggestive abstraction of raw current and its pareidolia-like capacity to generate rich and uncanny emotional responses from the end user.
On the A-side, Maurizio Bianchi serves the obfuscated, coruscating atmosphere of Nervous Hydra; a 17 minute piece of sunken, desiccated harmonic structures and warped greyscale tones rinsed with ET radio signals and distant percussion that recall the sound of embers landing on tinfoil or snow. It evokes the experience of being caught in a quietly raging whiteout with only a dying fire for company, or equally a sense of subaquatic, amniotic serenity prior to being evacuated into a much colder world.
Listeners can trust that the Italian artist’s first new work in several years is faithful to his ever-uncompromising oeuvre, but there’s also a tantalisingly elusive sense of redemption buried deep in there which marks it out from the rest of his canon and close to the work of his antecedents such as Kevin Drumm and Jim Haynes.
In that piece’s tempestuous wake, Abul Mogard brings a sense of soothing, glacial calm with All This Has Passed Forever on the B-side.
For 16 blissed minutes, Mogard spells out a nostalgic fantasy in creamy strokes of Farfisa organ and Serge modular recorded at EMS studios, Stockholm, and later combined with field recordings to elicit a wistfully widescreen paean to his days on the workshop floor accompanied by the harmonious drones and cacophony of heavy machinery.
No matter the piece’s provenance, though; it’s simply a sublime example of Abul Mogard’s gift for illusive, suspenseful ambient music which has seen his previous releases sky-rocket in 2nd hand value since their earliest, sold-out editions.
It's a beautiful set of ostensibly contrasting yet subtly, similarly spirited pieces that speak to the mystery and enigma of electronic music’s tortured, searching and romantic soul in equal measure...
A great deal has changed in the four years that've passed since 2012's Mumps, Etc., an LP that honed Why?s orchestral precision and self-deprecating swagger to a fine point.
"It's significant that this is the first fully home-recorded WHY? album since the project's 2003 debut. Made mostly in Wolf's studio and co-produced by his brother Josiah, the result is obsessive, of course, but also intimate, and flush with warmth and looseness. But the biggest transformation is a bit subtler. After years of eying his world, in part, with a cynical squint, Wolf here learns a new mode. While Moh Lhean never stoops to outright optimism, it chronicles our hero finding peace in the unknowing, trading the wry smirk for a holy shrug, and looking past corporeal pain for something more cosmic and, rest assured, equally weird.
A low tone opens the album on “This Ole King” as acoustic pluck and upright bass form a Western bedrock beneath Wolf’s fragile voice. But as the song pushes on, the playing gets brighter and the vocal becomes a mantra-like hum inspired by Ali Farka Touré’s blues, before rolling into a second part rich with chiming keys and twisting harmony— Brian Wilson’s kaleidoscopic vision of pop. Moh Lhean’s gorgeously psychedelic closer, “The Barely Blur” with Son Lux, puzzles over the nature of existence.
But rather than leave us with the macabre chill of death, as many a WHY? LP has, the song dissolves into the infinite—the sound of the Big Bang. Tracks: This Ole King, Proactive Evolution, Easy, January February March, One Mississippi, The Longing Is All, George Washington, The Water, Consequence Of Nonaction, The Barely Blur."
Music From Memory’s final revelation of 2016 highlights the late ‘80s avant-garde electro-jazz of Wuppertal, Germany’s Becker, Stegmann and Zeumer trio, with four sterling selections from their one-off LP, Ich Träume So Leise Von Dir (ITM Records, 1987) reissued for the first time.
Conceived as part of the Wuppertal cultural department’s commemorative programme dedicated to Jewish poet and bohemian Else Lasker-Schüler, who became a leading exponent of expressionism and avant-garde poetry in Germany before fleeing the country in 1937, Ich Träume So Leise Von Dir found the instrumental duo of Heinz Becker and Karl-Heinz Stegmann combining experimental, yet heavily funked-up electro-jazz and ambient arrangements with readings of Lasker-Schüler’s poetry by actress Isabel Zeumer.
Thanks to the flawlessly skilled chops of Becker & Stegman and Zeumer’s enchanting delivery, the results are unmistakably debonaire and sophisticated, strutting up with the tightly wound electro-funk and flighty sax of Mein Tanzlied like some long lost jam between Herbie Hancock and Arthur Russell, before heading out into lushest, Hassell-esque new age scenes with Dir, and returning to the ‘floor with the greazy boogie swerve of Der Schnupfen, and unwinding into the smoky ambience of Abends.
Satisfaction practically guaranteed.
Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. II pays a return visit to the otherworldly noumenal ecosystem inside Rashad Becker's head, relaying indecipherable messages in something resembling an expressive language of psychoacoustic, cuneiform glyphs. No Rosetta Stone is required to comprehend these deeply abstract auditory tableaus; all you need is an open mind and functioning set of lugs for reception, whilst whatever counts for your sense of consciousness will fill in the gaps, and that’s where the “fun” starts.
Working at near pre-cognitive levels of sensation and perception, Becker’s self-built semi-modular system generates a genuinely bewildering syntax of non-standard tunings. meters and scales which are perhaps best reflected in the synaesthetically attuned visual terms of Bill Kouligas’ incredible, calligraphic artwork, which becomes legible only thru a process of simultaneously concentrating and defocussing the eyes until the text’s elliptical, layered convolutions appear to begin to animate themselves in a similar way to how Becker’s phrases can be said to resemble a sort of channelled EVP babble.
When applying that perceptive process to the structural, sculptural sounds of Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. II the listener effectively opens a bridge into other, heightened modes of synaesthetic perception, as if the sounds are just so damn weird and alien that you’re relying on pure sense alone and effectively able to see in the dark, feeling your way thru like some intrepid field recorder who’s just stumbled across these unprecedented Themes and ritual Dances in a world that operates under ultraviolet light.
In the best way, it’s highly likely that a lot of listeners copped the 1st volume on the basis of Becker’s unparalleled reputation as the best ears in the biz, and rightly so. But at the risk of being presumptuous, some people were perhaps expecting something akin to a putative, modern ‘Berlin sound’, i.e. minimal or dub techno. In all fairness they did receive a ‘Berlin sound’, but it’s one that draws on dub as much as extreme avant-garde performance art and the infinite politics of equality and democracy, and plays deep into a conception of techno at its broadest definition as a form of folk or Traditional music.
All eight pieces are titled in a direct continuation of the first volume and follow a similar sort of stylistic declension or cryptic, anarchic set of rules. On the one hand, his Themes feel to be elegant, stately, almost like curdled Korean classical court music played by a troupe of acid pygmys, or gamelan forged with unknown metals and played by unimaginable, amorphous limbs, used for any number of formal and informal purposes. On the other hand, his Dances are defined in surreal, unconventional polymetrics, ranging from what sounds like a fertility ritual for prehistoric, feathered creatures, to some of the most mind-bending, polyphonic acid sloshed in psychoacoustic portamentos, and thru to scenes of inimitably detailed, discordant chatter that sounds like harps attached to didgeridoos played by land-lubbing octopuses.
Becker has patently conceived one of the most fantastic, imaginative records of this century so far. And more than anything, you get the sense that this is a personal endeavour first and foremost - perhaps a way to keep music, or sound in the widest terms, fresh to an artistic sensibility and set of ears which have processed nearly 1600 releases thru his esteemed mastering and vinyl cutting work at D&M, Berlin, if Discogs is to be believed - but it’s also one which is at the service of a much bigger picture, suggesting it may be much better for everyone to imagine rather than remember.
Autechre's classic second album from 1994, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
At bleeding’ last, Warp reissue one of their rarest gems, which Autechre themselves have referred to as conceiving as their “Warp record” - written to complement the label’s early ‘90s ambient/AI catalogue.
Depending your perspective, Amber is quite possibly the most beautiful Autechre album. It’s much softer, atmospheric than the needling electro tones of Incunabula, and also much friendlier, almost innocent than the cold, rugged Tri Repetae; almost like a snapshot of the duo in post-club gouch-out mode, hugging the sofa and chewing their ears in the days before somebody might snap you doing so on their iPhone.
Basically it’s completely essential if you love electronic music.
Bureau B profile the fertile DIY tape scene of East Germany prior to the wall falling on their latest compilation.
Picking up on the themes of Mannequin’s under-rated 2016 KlangFarbe primer, Bureau B widen the scope to profile 14 bands active in East Germany’s DIY tape scene in the last few years before the GDR was dissolved in 1990.
The strict State measures in place demanded these musicians flirt with prosecution to establish the self-distribution networks that proliferated their work on cassette, and it also cultivated the disillusion and despair that resulted in some startlingly creative work. The seeds of so much to follow are evident throughout ‘Magnetband’ as Bureau B highlight work by musicians that largely released on cassette but would go on to form Raster Noton, Rammstein, Kuntskopf, To Rococo Rot and Tarwater.
The various KlangFarbe projects of Raster Noton founder Frank Bretschneider feature prominently throughout, with the hushed guitar freakout of his A.F. Moebius track Böser Traum the sort of thing you’d find in a Beau Wanzer mixtape. Beyond Bretschneider there is plenty to enjoy for the avid archivalist. Stoffwechsel’s Fly, Fliege, Fly sounds like John T. Gast after a weekend on the sensimilla, the brilliantly-named Choo Choo Flame deliver one of the shortest but most unnerving moments in the creeping ambient of Nein and Aponeuron’s Jab Gab Hej is a bracing slab of gurning EBM with added wookie screams.
Best of all perhaps is Gesichter’s SK 8 Gesichte which offers a dizzying frenzy of primitive sampling you’d mistake for early Hype W from Inga and Dean.
Lara Wehbie a.k.a. Blursome makes her Hotflush debut with a set of six broadly spacious yet crisply detailed techno mutations following the inclusion of her Night cut on Scuba’s Fabric 90 mix and sampler 12”.
Advisable to check the sunken R&B club bump of Time for the dankest sensations, or the quickstepping Me for some proper ‘floor momentum.
4LP, 80-track boxset of previously unreleased, rare and archive material dating from the band’s formation in 1980 to the end of their Recloose Organisation label in 1986. A total must-have for those digging into the primordial roots of the UK underground’s strange affection for crooked outernational grooves, queasy electronics and salty distortion - basically everything from Downwards and Blackest Ever Black, and mavericks ranging from DJ Scud to Muslimgauze, Batu and Powell. So good...
Simon Crab’s Bourbonese Qualk were among the most distinctive, politically-charged units of the post-punk, post-industrial firm during its critical 1980-1986 phase. The band’s longest standing member has now selected some 80 peaches from the vaults, effectively closing the gap in any fan’s collection, and opening a very pickable sore wound for any newcomers.
Formed in Southport circa 1979 (but eventually embedding themselves in the South London squat scene) with their first performances described as “mainly vandalism”, the group left a unique, mostly instrumental trail of eldritch atmospheres, atonal synths and infectiously rugged rhythms in their wake which, over 30 years later, still stands out from the crowd today; cropping up as an influence over Raime’s Quarter Turns… album and regularly hailed among the most pivotal underground music in their field, largely thanks to their proper sense of DIY collectivism, a killer back catalogue and countless squat shows, as well as the legacy of recordings on their seminal Recloose Organisation label - home to Bryn Jones’ earliest output as E.G. Oblique Graph - which operated during the years covered in this boxset before turning into New International Recordings.
Archive 1980-1986 is little short of a treasure trove of mutant UK industrial at its widest definition. Starting out with the almost psychobilly swagger of Victims, recorded live at the Sandbaggers Club, Southport, 6th August, it covers far, far too much material to run down individually, but chucks up some immense highlights throughout: spanning super hard-to-find bits like the Sufi-esque proto-techno of Flow on Disc 1; a bevy of cranky jabs and droning vignettes, plus the deliciously dissonant curdle of Work Rhythms In May (1982, previously unreleased) and the much sweeter, exotic infusions of Sunset Sex and Return to Order, both from 1984 on Disc 2; before the clag begins to dissipate and the production feel became broader, more defined, in the likes of Papal Order’s thrumming bassline or the minimalist Hypnobeat styles of Moving Forward, even dipping to Balearic sway in Under Observation (1985), and the serpentine seducer Into Innocence, which is just about as close as we’ve heard to a prototype Raime; whilst Disc 4 leaves us floored with pieces such as the heavy-lidded pop of New Jerusalem and the proceeding suite of gamelan and drum machine rhythm tracks, or the bombed out slugs of Trapped and Bourbonese Qualk’s 2, all circa 1986.
We’ve no doubt that this is one of the strongest V-O-D boxsets to darken our doorstep.
Totally wicked slab of disco funk and electroid boogie on Amsterdam’s Music From Memory, pulling out their very first reissue/compilation by a Dutch artist, Richenel, who was a something of a dance-pop-star in his home country through the late ’80 and into the early ‘90s.
Compiled under guidance from Orpheu De Jong, they’ve applied the usual MFM filter to Richenel’s sorely overlooked debut, La Diferencia, resulting four alternate takes and two previously unreleased zingers - Slave of the Body/Mind and I Won’t Bite - all taken from the artist’s personal copy.
Realised in makeshift studios and squats against the backdrop of drugs and social unrest in the early ‘80s, the flamboyant set and costume design student’s first release holds tight to a lean and deadly effective punk funk sound, wrenching a proper, soul-warming disco buzz from lo-fi gear in a way that resonates with everything from ESG and Detroit’s Witch to earliest Cybotron and Prince or the nattiest Minimal Wave numbers.
It’s headed up by a massive highlight, six minutes of adroit drum machine boogie gilded with rudest fretless bass, aching vox and viiiiibes in Autumn, and also includes alternate versions of the nagging chops on Gentle Friend and an outstanding, hot-stepping La Diferencia that sounds uncannily like Liaisons Dangereuses or that mad Velodrome 12”, but with Krishna Goineau morphing into Klaus Nomi.
The other two are completely exclusive to this 12”. Slave Of The Body/Mind is a strong stripe of bluesy boogie disco, and I Won’t Bite gets it dead right on a slow, strung-out, synthy downstroke, equal parts lo-fi soul and sleazy red light wave. A lot of boogie nuts are going to drip all over this one, and we can thankfully expect more from the Fetisj label and Richenel on Music Frtom Memory in the future. This one will more than suffice for now.
Pépé Braddock is star of this show with two signature, freaky reworks of Nu’s sanguine, skanking house number Man O To; firstly in a humid, heady swingers’ version doing trippy things with the vocal and rubbing the groove into more fidgety structure, and secondly in a more bestial dub mode recalling the psychedelic swirl of Ricardo Villalobos’ legendary Fabric 36 mix.
Terrific proto-house bomb from Jo’burg, SA, 1983! First time available on vinyl, over 30 years since was issued as a tape-only release. Now cut loud and proud by Melbourne, AU’s Crwon Ruler Records.
On the cusp of disco and stripped down early house, Hay-Hay owns the A-side with fruity bass and strutting cowbell laying the framework for saxy vox and hypnotic Zulu dance vibes that only get fruity, boogied on the B-side with the synthier Rock Batlanga and the body greaze of Moger.
One-handed Music proprietor Paul White meets Danny Brown for R&S Records.
We’ll skip to the instrumentals… a stylishly raucous psych beat on Accelerator that could have come right out of a Finder Keepers or Gaslamp Killer comp, and a feathered French fancy filleted into a elegant waltz for Lion’s Den.