Zora Jones & Sinjin Hawke make their first significant foray outside Fractal Fantasy with the glass-cut brilliance of ‘Vicious Circles’ for Planet Mu
After building a serious rep over the last few years with guest-crammed compilations, killer remixes and acclaimed solo opuses, Hawke & Jones mount a concerted attack on boring dance music and head-in-sand-types with seven tracks of agile accelerations bending dancehall, Jersey, footwork, grime and vaporous sonics to their will.
Vicious Circles is perhaps the most varied yet concise showcase of their sound to date, demonstrating stellar sound design chops in the TCF-like escalation of the titular opener, which tilts over into the rest of the set, from the Manga-referencing mix of folk song and bolshy, Equiknoxx-meets-Timbaland styles of God, to fast fwd dancefloro mutations in Lurk 101, and hauntingly sheer dynamics on BabyboySosa, and a lump-in-throat finale sure to polish off the rave in And You Were The One.
With his amazing 12” for BEB’s A14 series in the rearview, Pessimist cold-foots back to UVB-76 Music, the label he runs with Gremlinz and his Ruffhouse bandmates.
Left to his own devices, Pessimist conjures a dank, lights-out sound worthy of his moniker, pressing in with two D&B tempo rollers recalling the aforementioned Balaklava killer for BEB in the serpentine agenda of The Empty House and Aurora’s drily reverberating spatial settings.
However, if we’re not mistaken, the other two cuts are techno tempo in line with Shifted or Felix K’s recent forays into that zone, yielding the turgid bass rumble and empty stomach clank of Retrouville and Paian’s chokingly dense, subaquatic pressure system.
A must for fans of Rhythmic Theory, Ruffhouse, Felix K
Arrestingly wide-angled hybrids of tribal music and electronics from Zoë McPherson a.k.a. Empty Taxi for SVS Records, who previously charmed us with their Camila Fuchs releases...
‘String Figures’ managed to evade our radar upon release earlier in 2018, but was thankfully brought to our attention by Berceuse Heroique’s Gizmo, who hails it among his most listened-to LPs of the year.
Coming off like Aïsha Devi getting stoned with ÉLG at Don’t DJ’s gaff, it’s also likely to get a lot of play up this way, too, veering from clod-hopping techno to head-slapping noise and ecstatic folk strings with a mix of refreshing freeness and cool-handed discipline that warrants many returns to its hauntingly imaginative, magick realist soundscapes.
High impact, trancing EBM techno from French act I Hate Models, backed with a deeper pounding by DJ Varsovie
The A-side’s arcing drama, ‘It Will Last Forever’ emerges from lush intro to deliver a severe 4/4 beating with a twist of sexy Gallic masochism. ‘Walpurgis Night’ weaves an etheric vocal from Zoé Zanias into a driving sort of cybergoth trance sound, and DJ Varsovie seals the vibe with a more streamlined remix of the latter.
Includes the first new Universal Indicator (aka Aphex Twin) track in two decades as well as bangers from Bjarki, Nina Kraviz, Biogen, DEKA and more...
Nina Kraviz pulls together a heavyweight compilation of techno (and related) bangers revolving Bjarki, Universal Indicator and Marc Arcardipane among other on ‘Don’t Mess With Cupid, ‘Cause Cupid Ain’t Stupid’
In 10 parts the set delivers weapons grade gear in ‘Pitch-Hiker’ from the living legend Mark Arcardipane a.k.a. Pilldriver, and likewise with the highwire hardcore tenacity of Universal Indicator’s ’15 c7’, while Bjarki lives up to the label’s name with his mind-bending banger ‘3-1 Tap Lush’, and Kraviz keeps her end up with the high velocity pound of ‘OPA’, and Deka does the damage with the martial acid of ‘Pearl (Nikita Zibeline Edit)’.
Egoless weighs in wavy, stoned and skanking fit on their début with Youngsta’s Sentry Records
A.k.a Croat producer Ognjen Zečević, Egoless pairs succinct yet lush outernational instrumentation with spartan beats on the lurching halfstep of ‘Decolonize’, then opens out with the Balkan/Mid-Eastern strings and pipes over room shuddering subs on ‘Global’.
Arriving ahead of his mooted collaboration with Yves Tumor, the New Orleans-based artist and HBA runway star certainly oozes all the right attributes of “rock star” - bolshy confidence, rasping vocals and striking looks.
OK, there are some nice, subtle touches of electronics and rugged drum machines inside, but the unwieldy axe chops and some of his cheesier affectations leave us cold and put off. Check for the swagger of ‘In Your Eyes’ and the MTV unplugged styles of ’Superstar’ and make your own mind up, though.
The coiled techno steppers of Mark’s ‘Integrier Dich Du Yuppie’ forms the precursor to his recent killer 12” for Berghain’s Unterton label
First dispatched in early 2018, Mark’s 2nd volley for Melbourne’s A Colourful Storm label effectively hits square between the eyes of Raime and Demdike Stare with a mutant take on jungle, techno and concrète electronics executed with a smart play between minimalist, grooving tension and foreboding negative space.
It shouldn’t be hard to hear why techno label Unterton took the unusual detour into non-standard styles, likely based on the strength of this EP.
Overlook plays deep into UVB-76 Music’s stark, rolling D&B sound on ‘All of Them Witches’, including a mardy-ass slow techno remix by Positive Centre
In the same vein as Overlook’s well-received debut solo LP ‘Smoke Signals’, its follow-up is greyscale in tone and defined by a razor-edge minimalism, firstly showing off his sound designer skills int he cinematic intro of ‘Spirits Moving Through Walls’, before controlling your rolling like a puppet master with the shadowboxing tekkers of ‘Magick’, while ‘Ritual’ works a densely squashed half-step pressure and the clenched title cut glydes with weightless broomstick momentum.
For the slow techno thuggers Positive Centre reworks album cut ’Travelling Without Moving’ with a grungy, decelerated heave.
Serena Butler returns with an EP for Stroboscopic Artefacts.
“We Want Neither Clean Hands Nor Beautiful Souls” is a four track recording of Butler’s personal juncture with the Queerverse and his engagement in queer politics, an elaboration on the alternate freedoms and minimal politics of alienation introduced with her 2016 release on Eerie. By bringing her mission of inclusion and diversity to Lucy’s Berlin based imprint S>H/E has found a kindred spirit in the pursuit of, what SA describes as, “an incessant accretion of new ideas and new formal elements that must transcend any self-limiting expectations of genres or cliques”. This release embodies the shared revere that Butler and SA have for the subversive power of techno; or, as Butler says, “the explicit, organized effort to repurpose technologies for progressive gender political ends”.
The EP’s path begins with the opener “If Nature Is Unjust, Change Nature”, a shadowy crescendo of whispered rhythms and minimal-synth leitmotivs from alt-clones of Rrose and Second Woman grafted memories. “Globular Hymen” is the club supernova of the lot; an interstellar blizzard of layered arpeggios, which hit like the wrath of a pantheon of angry goddesses. “Science is not an expression but a suspension of gender” lays on the feel of afterlife, a dubbed-out lullaby between lo-fi drums and subtle interference patterns of noise. This is the sound of Butler getting between you and your ears; reminding you to step back from certainty and imperative judgments. Last but not least, “And with fire came disparity” unleashes a vocal swarm of declaration and rebellion. Despite the straight-forward title, this is a true Demdikesterian mutant-techno stepper, with neither clean words nor a beautiful soul.”
Divine D&B rolige from Overlook, a visionary new skool producer leaving his mark on Gremlinz and Ruffhouse’s UVB-76 Music.
A-side; Nights Into Dreams goes deep and hard for a mix of 1997-into-2017 tech-step, arriving with widescreen pads and testy, serpentine breaks before the subs and snares subtly push forward in the mix your body is his for the duration.
B-side; Scarlett makes that Prototype/Renegade Hardware aesthetic even more explicit with a rolling, reductionist revision of flinty 2-step breaks and guttural subsidence for the strongback steppers.
Elephant Micah offer an alternative definition of ‘Americana’, which ultimately sounds the same, but with some detours into noodly electronics on their homemade “mutant” synth, alongside the usual laments and hoary guitars...
““What?” Indeed, “what” is the mantra of our moment. And Genericana aspires to be that moment’s soundtrack.
“WHAT is happening to our culture?” Americans ask themselves, in the era that sees entertainment, politics, and community life consolidated in a digital communications ecosystem. Responding, Elephant Micah has tuned its music to an appropriately disorienting pitch. For songwriter and recordist Joe O’Connell, that means remixing his own cultural experience, and questioning how “where we live” affects “what we sound like”:
“To me, ‘country’ music could mean any of the music we listened to growing up. When my sister and I were teenagers, in the 1990s, we put a lot of effort into trying to access alternative music. You had to steal Rolling Stone issues from the public library to find out about artists. Or stay up late when you could get in some different radio stations than you could during the day. I think of that whole experience as a ‘country’ music experience.”
In the place of “Americana,” the band offers Genericana. Evoking genealogy, genre, generic brands (and perhaps a bottled genie), the album title points the way to a different theory of what binds our culture together.
“I think Genericana just means ‘the stuff from which stuff generates,’” O’Connell explains. “It's a short hand way of shouting out to the stock elements that I'm mashing up in this music. I wanted this project to be sort of like a lucky mutation, that could lead to a heartier version of Elephant Micah for the digital world.”
Mining the aesthetics of the average compact disc collection, Elephant Micah makes room on Genericana to play with sounds for their own sake. O’Connell and company follow in the footsteps of songwriter-producers like Arthur Russell and John Martyn—artists whose descent into effects made their voices all the more poignant and personal. Frequently, Genericana also pays tribute to laid back club sounds, from dub to ambient techno--and to the resourcefulness of the producers who invented these genres.
“To make this record, we assembled a bunch of gear that was devalued or discarded,” O’Connell explains. “A cheap FM synth, some Hindustani electronics, and an old three-head tape deck to use as a ‘poor man’s Space echo.’”
At the top of this heap of equipment was something new. And in fact, there had never been anything quite like it before. Working from a series of manic band meetings and napkin drawings, percussionist and keyboardist Matt O’Connell brought to fruition a one-of-a-kind digital synthesizer. Its inspiration comes from the possibility of alternative playing interfaces—ways of interacting with digital instruments that aren’t based on techniques for existing instruments. Matt and Joe named this synth The Mutant, a title that’s right in key with the themes of Genericana.”
Filth-smith Helena Hauff fires up a raw-to-the-bone barrage of bleached drum machines and needle-fanged arps on ‘Qualm’ - the Hamburg assassin’s 2nd album for Ninja Tune.
Arriving at a point where Helena is a hugely sought-after DJ - a time when other artists have often played up to a more commercial style - she pulls no punches with a severely thistly album of extreme pH levels placing her love of Bunker bombs and noisy industrial dance music front and centre, in a way perhaps designed to keep the dilettantes at arm’s length, while offering a sweaty embrace to all madder ravers, cyberpunks and misfits.
Under the title Qualm - one of those words you can chew like gristle - Helena deftly and brutally gets what she needs from her machines, slaving a battered analogue array to the front of the rave and rarely sparing the whip for any of them. However, when more romantic or melancholy emotions come thru, they’re direct and never self indulgent, lending a fine contrast to the album’s harshest aspects.
In transitional flux of alkali and acidic extremes, Helena charts a heavy trip between the salty ghetto lash of Barrow Boot Boys and the bittersweet synth-pop of It Was All Fields Around Here When I Was A Kid which both bookend the set. In the frazzled space between, she laces up some absolute welters with raging acid of Lifestyle Guru, the screwface charge of Hyper-Intelligent Genetically Enriched Cyborg, and the switch from ‘floor-swilling 303s to night-vision pads in The Smell Of Suds and Steel, while her electro instincts bubble up in warped ways on Fag Butts In The Fire Bucket and the furtive, slimy creep of Panegyric.
But none of those would be so effective in an album context without the contrasts provided by her more fanciful missives, such as the salty lullaby of Entropy Created You And Me, the blood-curdled horror themes of Primordial Sludge, or the struggling nEuro pomp of the titular Qualm itself, which can possibly be taken as a sort of requiem for a rotting Eurozone at the vinegar strokes of late capitalism.
Gabe Gurnsey, the drumming dynamo behind Factory Floor, explores proper song-writing and dancefloor sensuality on his solo début LP ‘Physical’, including additional production by Phantasy guy Erol Alkan
Effectively offering a more fleshly take on the skinny asceticism of Factory Floor, ‘Physical’ revolves 14 disco and pop-toned pieces that vacillate between home listening and club purposes depending the user.
For the ‘floor, there’s some strong highlights in the darkroom acid sleaze of ‘Harder Rhythm’, the moodier Chicago/New Beat burn of ‘I Get’, and the darkwave EBM-pop pressure of ‘Night Track’, which all works as dance songs in their own right, but if you want to hear a cleaner break with FF forms, check for the creamy synth-pop shuffle of the lead single, ‘Ultra Clear Sound’, the druggy, grinding gynoid-pop of ’Temazzy’, and the muggy bass oscillations and Muslimgauze-like vibes of ’Sweet Heat’.
Effervescent deep house grit from Am Kinem on the ever fertile Out To Lunch label
A prime pick for Workshop fiends, Am Kinem’s self-titled 12” yields a gauzy yet gripping mid-fi sound in the same vein as Actress, Huerco S or Anthony Naples, schwanging from burned-out but blissed Fairlight brass and strings to whacked breaks and melancholic jazz chords, then coming off like KassemMosse jamming with Omar-S, and finishing with a colourfully plumed and uptempo stepper.
The Chosen Brother’s utterly haunting roots reggae classic - as championed and versioned by Rhythm & Sound - comes back ‘round on this new 12” edition, packing Dub and a previously unreleased Version on 12” for the 1st time!
The Chosen Brothers’ original was first issued as ‘March Down Babylon’ on ‘Wackie’s Selective Showcase Volume One’  and subsequently appeared on their 1st album ‘Sing and Shout’  and the ‘Reggae Goodies Vol. 1 & 2’ compilation. However, it’s likely best known for Rhythm & Sound’s 1998 version, retitled ‘Mash Down Babylon’, that was a highlight of the Burial Mix 10” series and later as a jewel in the crown of Rhythm & Sound’s ‘w/ The Artists’ compilation.
Now cut to 12” for the first time by CGB at D&M, who have capably handled all of the Wackie’s reissues since 2000, the OG sounds spectrally massive on this platter, casting a spiders web of FX over the steep valley of dread bass, mournful vocal and melting brass. Madder yet, the ‘Dub’ opens out with a succession of class wheel-ups before omitting the vocal and leaving a dancing skeleton of spindly drums and picked guitar in its wake.
BUT, the big number for any reggae or Rhythm & Sound collector is the B-side’s languorous Version, leaving the vocal out for a lusher take than the stark Dub, and making very clear the links between Lee Scratch Perry’s Black Ark sound, the in-house style of Lloyd Barnes’ Wackie’s label, and ultimately the Berlin vikings of Mark Ernestus & Moritz Von Oswald (Maurizio, Basic Channel, Rhythm & Sound).
‘hej!’ is the hauntingly hyperreal first album proper by Felicita, for PC Music.
Arriving 5 years since Felicita’s beguiling ‘(>’.’)>#’ and ‘Frenemies’ releases took us by surprise with their lacquered textures and uncannily poignant arrangements, ‘hej!’ claims their place in the same dimensions as Arca, Sophie and 0PN with a highly personalised expression of hyperreal modernity.
Polish folk, trance, trap and and classical chamber music are melded into the same mutant body of music with deceptively effortless appeal that’s both pop-wise and avant, charming and at times unsettling thru its juxtapositions of new and old.
Warbling keys haunt much of the album, but in a way that swerves the poshness of, say Nils Frahm and co, for a more surreal and unreal effect, especially when he adds in snatches of processed Polish folk song, and then sharply switches to needling electronics, as with the vacuum sealed hyper reggaeton of ‘coughing up amber’, while the melodic couplet of ‘soft power I + II’ feel paradoxically timeless yet right in the pregnant here-and-now, though their pastoral field recordings came from a computer game, rather than the real thing.
The salty blatz of ’shook’ is a tart palate cleanser at the centre of the album, bristling with an outright aggression that contrast the rest of the set, particularly the eerie highlight of Caroline Polachek’s take on ‘marzipan’, an old Polish folk song reinterpreted with lustrous Reese-like bass and synthetic strings, while the sickening rush of ‘night soil (fade out)’ recalls the devil in the detail noise of Croww, and the closing ‘Mosaic’ elicits a most curious synthesis of emotions - ecstasy, fear, and romance in it’s fleeting choral cadence.
Full schwing boogie, drowsy blue 4th world vibes and dream sequence ambience, dug up and remastered for DJ play and optimal home listening by the on-point Seance Center
“MJ Lallo sings to trees and distant planets, plays drum machines, synthesizers and processes her voice to sound like percussion, space ships, trumpets, birds and words from an unknown language. Lallo works in post-production music and SFX, and founded her own company MJ Productions in 1983. Although she has been creating music for films and other projects for over forty years, she only released one Hi-NRG 12” under a pseudonym, a small-run cassette in the late 80s and a CD in the early 2000s. Séance Centre is exploring Lallo’s unique and fascinating body of work with this maxi single and a forthcoming 2LP compilation.
Star Child focuses on Lallo’s love of movement in body and mind. Star Child Going Home is a late-night FM boogie transmission, a soaring wordless ode to an interstellar visitor departing. The song conveys a complex synthetic love beyond the realm of language, using voice, Juno 106 and deft LinnDrum programming. Aquarius Bluemoves languidly, a sun-soaked Californian cosmic cruiser. Lallo’s voice swims and plays in waves of synth and drum-current, like sun-rays across the sea at magic hour. Also Deep Dreams, an epic entrancing meditation for synth, drums and voice. A journey and transference of the mind from verbal consciousness to pre-lingual dream-state.”
For the 1st time in over 30 years, The Chosen Brothers’ mellifluous roots reggae masterpiece ‘Sing & Shout’ returns, re-shuffled, abridged and re-cut to vinyl by CGB at D&M, Berlin
Most notable for the gorgeous ‘Mash Down Babylon’, which was versioned by Rhythm & Sound to classic effect in 1998 and now opens this new edition, ‘Sing & Shout’ is perhaps one of roots reggae's more overlooked efforts, but arguably also one of the most distinguished of its mid ‘80s era.
Recorded at Bullwackie’s studio in White Plains, NYC, by Douglas Levy, Sugar Minot and Bullwackie, ‘Sing & Shout’ blends classic roots lyrical themes and dub production with early traces of the digital drum machine and synth styles that would come to dominate the dancehall from this phase forward.
For this new edition, the now Berlin-administered Wackies deign to resequence the track-list, which now starts up with the evergreen original of ‘March Down Babylon’ (which has also been issued on a 12” with bonus dub + version this week) and the wickedly slow and easy digidub of ‘Jah Don’t Like That’ along with the mellow wooze of ‘Sing & Shout’ and the misty precipitation of ‘Dancing In The Rain (12” Mix)’, and comes to rest with woozy praises to Jah in ‘All Things (12” Mix)’.
Nice and easy definitely wins the day here. Unmissable!
Conspicuous by his absence over the last few years, Dorian Concept breaks his silence with a colourfully plumed and intricately woven batch of prog-jazz-fusion cuts showing off his virtuoso instrumentalist skills on both acoustic and electronic gear...
“Following the release of “Joined Ends” in 2014 - a deeply intimate and textured project he describes as his “chamber music” record - Dorian Concept performed everywhere from Glastonbury to Sonar to MoMA PS1’s Warm Up and then deliberately took himself off the radar. The time since has been spent meticulously un-learning his prodigious production process and developing a brand new sound that even the most clued-up won’t be expecting - showcased on ‘Promises’, in the most prominent use of his voice to date. The recording and processing of his vocals represent not only a more human expression of his highly technical sound, but also an inclination toward recursion - the challenge, ephemerality, and demand for attention of “unequal repetition” which shapes the build and deconstruction of energy throughout the record.
Taking inspiration from multi-generational eclecticism (‘60s jazz, ‘70s fusion, ‘80s neo prog-rock, ‘90s electronica), Dorian Concept sought to replicate “modern” music elements with old-fashioned methods, live-playing and hand-recording deceptively digital sounds in service of a tongue-in-cheek “parody of nostalgia”. Having produced the record largely in the years 2016 and 2017 - widely characterized as periods of a cultural reckoning throughout the democratic world - he ambitiously took timely themes of cumulative error, shortening attention spans and subjective experience and transposed them into his making. As is to be expected from him by now, for all the considered, high-concept musing, the result is refreshingly unpretentious: dizzying swells, cacophonous breakdowns and formidable rhythms are both expert and childlike, hyperactive and hyper-focused.”
Solo début Lp by Brandt Brauer Frick’s Paul. Features a guest vocal by Nina Kraviz
“Apollo welcome Paul Frick to the fold. Frick is a Berlin-born music composer primarily known as one part of the group Brandt Brauer Frick. Stunningly despite a 20+ year history of making music ‘Second Yard Botanicals’ is his debut album.
With BBF keeping Frick inspired and busy since 2009, other ideas had piled up until a temporary break allowed him to fully dive into them – “While it took so long until I made my first album, it took about two months once I started.”
Exploring a vast number of instruments, field recording and deconstructed breakbeats woven with undulating filters and gossamer melodies, the album sees Frick drawing on the world around him in a free associative style ; “A word I sometimes had in mind was „Alltagspoesie“, the poetry of everyday life,” he explains. “The thought that however small and unimportant things and people are, they – or we – all hint towards each other, if not to say towards the whole. The fact that half of the pieces on the record are short miniatures has to do with that. Throwing something in and hearing what it tells.“
‘Second Yard Botanicals‘ at its core is based on sonic collage, from a genre point of view it’s highly eclectic, remotely echoing Frick’s classical composition background as well as his hip hop / trip hop past – “which is how I first learned using sequencers about twenty years ago”.
While Frick is coy about direct influences on his music, non musical inspiration played a key role – such as the novel ‘Anniversaries‘ by Uwe Johnson, which is divided into the 365 days of a year and weaves a large nonlinear picture; „It’s among the things that showed me on how many levels a piece of fiction can be able to resonate without falling apart completely.”
Besides the actual recording of instruments like piano, guitar and percussion, Frick sampled heavily from his twenty year deep sonic archive of performances and field recordings. “Mostly they were from unused sessions, forgotten projects that I rediscovered or live recordings of my chamber music pieces, using them as samples to make something new,” he explains. „Also chance recordings on the phone like the boomy snares in ‚Church 5 Loop 2‘ which Daniel (Brandt) played during soundcheck for a BBF gig in a huge church, or rain drops in the gutter of our studio backyard, and more things like that.”
Recorded in the band’s shared studio space in Neukölln and mixed by bandmate Jan Brauer the whole project was kept in house.”
Trevor Jackson reveals hitherto unheard ambient aspects of his hip hop/breakbeat alias The Underdog with Y.O.U, his “lost” album as FROM, produced over 1994-1997 and initially intended for release between his production for UK hip hop crew The Brotherhood’s Elementalz  LP, and the debut Playgroup album in 2001.
R&G innovator Terror Danjah returns to the style with cinematic flair alongside writer/producer Nii-Teiko on ‘The Scene Vol.1’
Leaning in with a mix of richly atmospheric sound design and feminine G-funk pressure of ‘Scene 1’, they run a ruggeder mix of brassy stabs, speaker-worrying subs and splashing acid-dub madness in ‘Scene 2’, saving the trippiest and best for last with the wickedly dissonant synth lixx and swaggering march of ‘Scene 3’.
NYC’s Forma regroup around iridescent axes of minimalist kosmische, ambient and techno tropes on ‘Semblance’, their playfully absorbing 2nd album for Kranky after a pair of early sides with Spectrum Spools
Revolving around George Bennett and Mark Dwindle with John Also Bennett (a.k.a. JAB and member of Jon Gibson’s live band), Forma continue in pursuit of a coolly intuitive and suggestively psychedelic sound on ‘Semblance’, meshing polychromatic harmonics with rolling, curling rhythms in a way that owes as much to Steve Reich as Alice Coltrane, Laurie Anderson and Jon Hassell, but with a disjointed sense of anachronism that time-stamps Forma in the flux of the present.
“Brooklyn trio Forma's latest LP continues their mission to "broaden the idea of what an electronic music ensemble can sound like." Semblance emerged from exploratory sessions at The Schoolhouse, the Bushwick loft where members Mark Dwinell and John Also Bennett live, then was tracked at Gary's Electric studios, where their previous album Physicalist was also recorded.
Inspired by polyrhythmic composition, the human voice, and conceptual improvisation strategies, the songs are striking in their textural detail and emotional nuance, alternately synthetic and sentient, futuristic and intuitive. Incorporating flute, piano, guitar, saxophone, acoustic drums and cymbals alongside an array of synthesizers, the record persuasively demonstrates the group's unique playing abilities and fluid chemistry - attributes they credit to "techniques we've developed to trick our electronic machines into mimicking the spontaneous character of live instruments."
Members George and John Also Bennett also cite as an influence their recent stint in minimalist composer Jon Gibson's ensemble, performing his 1973 proto-ambient masterwork Visitations. The long-form modal piece requires restraint and deep listening to execute, qualities especially apparent in the more muted moments of Semblance, such as "Rebreather" and "New City."
The group states the intent of the new album as "to be more direct and exacting", which it is. Over half a decade spent writing and recording together has distilled Forma's hybrid electro-acoustic interplay into an attuned and astounding language, capable of articulating impossible symmetries and reflective states.”
Holuzam is a new label from Prícncipe Discos co-founders José Moura and Márcio Matos. The second release on the label is a sublime disco missive from Macau, China, recorded between 1989 and 1993, bubbling up from a blindspot to offer a stunning package of sounds lesser, or even never, heard beyond private archives or Portugal’s borders...
Dwart has been the vessel for journalist and musician António Duarte and his sometime musical partner, Manuela Duarte, since 1985. They played gigs at home in Portugal with Telectu in support, before moving to Macau - then a Portuguese territory in China - in search of new sources of inspiration. They would find it everywhere from Macau’s karaoke bars to the discos of Ghangzhou, over the border in the hot, humid megatropolis of South East China. The three tracks on ‘Taipei Disco’ are their best recordings made during this era, rendering a mouth-watering bounty of exotic late ‘80s dance music heavily inspired by Canton pop, and patently compatible with everything from kosmische disco and proto-Goa trance to the current swell of suave, retro-futurist styles from Pye Corner Audio and Legowelt to L.I.E.S.’ KWC releases.
The original ‘Taipei Disco’ is a 12 minute disco dream named after the only Guangzhou club which would play Anglo-Saxon pop and rock alongside the Canton pop standards.The club’s DJ would end up playing Dwart’s tune, and eventually invited him to play live keys over its backing track at the club. In 1993 Dwart recorded the exquisite ‘Taipei Disco (Live)’ track at the China Pop venue in Macau, replete with solos and extra strings, to a frontline of can-can dancers on the ‘floor.
Completing the story and this superb record is ‘Red Mambo (Impromptu)’, a balmier jam with members of legendary Cape Verdean group Os Tubarões, recorded in a packed studio on the 19th storey of a Macau tower block overlooking the water. A perfect ending to an exotic, coolly entrancing record spritzed with character and charm.
Mixmag presents a compilation of house and techno cuts selected by Peggy Gou
Following her recent Ninja Tune EP, the star of Mixmag’s current front cover gives a taste of her DJ sets, peppewred with cherry-picked pieces by friends and family.
Worth checking for the darkside heft of ‘Venom’ by Dorisburg, the snappy electro patter of Suzanne Kraft on ‘Moving’, and the subaquatic electro of ‘Harajuku’ by Pépe for Or:La’s Deep Sea Frequency.
Sharp Veins evacuates the contents of his HD with a massive 30-track, 2hr 24min album covering the wingspan of his styles, from bittersweet ambient to mutant R&B and grime, for UNO NYC...
In terms of both its variegated quality and expansive quantity, ‘Detritus Preterit Selections’ is inarguably Sharp Veins’ most significant release to date, and, like his colourful, prickly oddity ‘Bleeds Colours and Puddles’, it finds a perfect home amid UNO’s inventive roster, which already counts Arca, Chino Amobi and Aquarian in its number.
In his now distinctive style, SV moves freely in each track, often starting out one place only to end up somewhere quite different by the end of the cut, and with a grasp of off-kilter, bittersweet digital dissonance that watermarks these 30 tracks as his own.
DJs could do much worse than check for the strongly synaesthetic grime tang of ‘Televise Icarus V1’ for an ideal example of his electronica/grime hybrids, while lovers of stranger electronic pop should check out ‘Lets Wash Our Hands V3’ for something like a salty, technoid Panda Bear, and weightless seekers need to clock the curdled ambience of ‘I Care For What U Wish For V1’, and the pirouetting figures of ‘Drawing.’
Leathered-up EBM from the gimp-masked SΛRIN for Phase Fatale’s Bite label
Authentically skooled in the grease and spunk of classic EBM, SΛRIN takes what he needs from that style and leaves the rest to rot on his ‘Kuleshov Effect’ 12”, resulting four stripped-down and hungry killers aching for a dark room, smoke and strobes.
A-side spits out the clenched grind of ‘World Condition’ along with the dry, pulverizing drums and strapping 16th note arp of ‘Jigar’. B-side steps up the pressure with cold war samples setting the scene for a frozen, militant stomper that really sinks its teeth in, while the nihilistic ‘Nuke Me’ will put a rocket up the ‘floor’s collective ass.
Disco Vumbi jumps from ‘Boutiq Electroniq’ for Nyege Nyege Tapes to their Hakuna Kulala sublabel for alternately heavy and light-footed dancefloor styles
‘Jo-ducuroma roma’ generates an inexorable momentum from swingeing drums and bass, while call-and-response vox echoes out above in hypnotic effect. This one will dominate any situation it’s played!
On the other hand, ‘Wilobo Man’ is much more light hearted and twinkle-toed, working clipped soca-like drum patterns and mellifluous vocal harmonies into a frothy charm.
Trevor Jackson taps into his Underdog cabinet on ‘Of The Night’, a dark blue set of trip hop nocturnes produced c. 1994-1998
The Underdog has long been the place to go for Jackson’s ruder and deeper work, from remixes of UNKLE and dozens of others, to his coveted breakbeat volumes known as ‘The Attic Tapes.’
For the Of The Night selection he’s picked out some of The Underdog’s drowsiest nodders, with special highlights found in their most depressed moments, such as the heavily introspective slug of ‘Lapis’ and the desert-crawling country smudge of ‘Dawn Burn’, which should both appeal as much to DJ Screw as The Caretaker or Express Rising.
Isle of Jura’s new Temples of Jura offshoot pay dues to On-U Sound in fine style.
Melbourne’s Len Leise holds down he front with a balmy take on Mr. Sherwood’s signature flex in For Adrian, rolling and skanking around a hot-wired and humid sort of electro-acoustic mesh of dub, boogie and endearingly dippy ‘tronics.
B-side, Isle Of Jura take over with three mixes of Udaberri Blues, slyding from the boogie downstroke of the original to a more spaced out, bumping Dub Version lapped with ocean sounds, and a lushly suspended Space Version.
The Bug finally steps it up proper with his first full length player since his 'Pressure' set laid down the industro-dub gauntlet with a fair clanging smack some 5 years back.
In that time we've seen The Bug become a linchpin of the South London Bass scene with unruly rave smashers released on Hyperdub, Soul Jazz etc directing us to the future sound of bashment and proper heavy bass musics. 'London Zoo' corrals a guest vocalist lineup featuring some of the finest ragga soundsystem toasters London and JA has to offer, with everyone from longtime collaborator Warrior Queen, to the legendary Tippa Irie and Spaceape, helping Martin to define his abstract heavyweight riddims in fine style.
The big 'n bashy wreckers from the 12"s are all here from 'Poison Dart', 'Jah War' and the punishing 'Skeng' but the set doesn't rely on these tried and tested cuts for support, ramming in a ruck of fresh material from the robo-ragga of 'Fuck*z' to the shockout drum styles on 'warning' or the apocalyptic finisher 'Judgement' with Rinky Ranking truly saving the best til last.
The production levels really couldn't be any higher and needless to say the bass is unbelievably heavy, thoroughly primed for home hifi and dancehall soundsystem testing. Proper heavy!!!
Andy Lyster’s Youth label wrest four stripes of punky blooze from Shamos, who steers away from the rugged house knocks of his Apron 12”s to nervier, faded headpieces in YO2TH.
Acquainted thru London’s NTS studio, Lyster and Shamos have conspired to reveal alternate aspects of the latter’s aesthetic, sidewinding from what sounds like one of Delroy Edwards’ Teenage Tapes cuts in the grungy wave stepper Found Grace to Lukid-esque alien tribalism in 13213132, then with a gristly, blank-eyed slug of EBM in TMF, and desiccated Detroit boogie in Nuws.
Lush, reticulated reggaeton, deep house and breakbeat fusions from man o’ many monikers, Brian Piñeyro (Deejay Xanax, DJ Wey, Luis) as DJ Python, following the sterling example of his ¡Estéreo Bomba! Vol. 1 for Antony Naples’ Proibito with an immersive expansion of that sound in Dulce Compañia.
Taking reggaeton along new, instrumental routes intersecting NYC’s rave history, DJ Python has pretty much cooked up his own style of deep reggaeton, a title which should probably be taken with a pinch of salt, but serves well to identify his angle amidst an upswell of LatinX producers who are spinning dembow beats and tropes into all kinds of new spaces - from DJ/Rupture and co, to Florentino and Kelman Duran, for example.
Almost as close to the sound of Ben Cenac’s Dream II Science, new age experiments from Laraaji, or even Andy Stott as any of the above, Dulce Compaña finds Python alloying reggaeton’s nagging, signature bump with chiming electronic meditations in Las Palmas, and with squashed jungle breaks in the style of his Deejay Xanax alias on Cuál, both setting the innovative, deviant agenda for the rest of the set, recoiling from eyes-shut ambient rave infusions on Todo Era Azul (Version Afuera) and its cosmic Siempre Dub, to something like B12 on holiday in Caracas with q.e.p.d, but also making room for more rugged swerve in Acostados and the acidic tang of Yo Ran(Do).
But if any one track is going to melt your pants off, it’s the plasmic, aerial ambient shuffle of Esteban, which provides the sweetest window on Piñeyro’s unique Python sound, and everyone will know what to do next.
The impeccable 12th Isle return with 'Palta Og Ti På Den Tolvte Ø’, a balmy suite of downtempo bliss-outs gently coaxed along by burbling rhythms by Palta & Ti...
“Seemingly drawing from a slightly different well of influence from that seen across their prolific back catalogue, the Aarhus duo – going by the less common shroud of Palta & Ti – have hereby woven together a stylistically varied yet tonally concentric 3 track EP. Having produced a wealth of some of the most lovingly referential and consistent music of recent times, the tracks making up “Palta og Ti på den Tolvte Ø” are slightly harder to pin down to exact genre markers. Each song is busy yet never overcrowded with elements; building concise and playful grooves which if forced we would say positions them somewhere in the ambient space between jazzy-improv-house and dubby, hypnotic electronics. That’s as absolute in adjectives as we would ever care to be...
Expertly crafted both technically and musically, we are more than excited to be able to present this to you as our fifth instalment.”
Autechre's classic third album from 1995, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
Completing the triumvirate of early Autechre essentials, Tri Repetae was the duo’s cranky contribution to mid ‘90s electronic music, and, like its predecessors - Incunabula and Amber - a record that completely defines certain aspects of that era for many electronica nerds, us included.
It’s possibly best known for including the peerless electro-trance swerve of Eutow - which could literally kill someone prone to AMSR in the right situations (not a bad way to gan) - whilst the rest of the LP cements some of Autechre’s sharpest, neck-snapping hip hop beats.
If you’ve only heard this album via download or streaming, or are only aware of their later gear, you’re in for total treat.
London’s dankest relay palpably paranoid pressures from the capital on The Bug's newly minted Pressure label, hopefully the start of an ongoing collaboration between the pair.
Spying those hours of the dance when the smoke machines are puffing but there’s nobody there yet, Fog finds them melding charred bass hustle with billowing greyscale atmospheres in a time-honoured style shared by both artists.
On the flip, Shrine distills their meditative intensity to more suspenseful degrees with exceedingly brittle drums bearing the huge, brooding weight of a slowed down dread bass and glowering pads = minimal fuss for deadly, concentrated impact.
Age Of is OPN’s eighth studio album and the latest chapter of a definitive American hauntological saga for this transitory, phase-shifting decade. It features Anohni, James Blake, Prurient, Kelsey Lu, Eli Keszler and others in various capacities...
Strewn across the prog-R&B vape chamber fantasias in Age Of, vocals often take precedence in a mix of auto-tuned Future-style soul, sadboy elegies, black metal croaks and warped stadium pop choruses, all in duet with 0PN’s signature synthetic chorales. The nature of film editing and writing music to imagery - as with last year’s Good Time OST - also seems to exert an increasing hold over his music, as the variation from scene-to-scene and range of voices in Age Of feels like an ensemble cast rallying around a patently visionary composer/director/artist.
In key with his (not hard to pronounce) moniker - it’s One Oh Trix Point Never, a play on the radio station Magic 106.7 - Lopatin’s music feels ever more like dialling into a chimeric, algorithmic radio station where anachronistic MOR and adult contemporary modulates with modern R&B, trap soul and Afrobeats in a very contemporary sort of hyperjazz-fusion that absorbs and transmutes emotional signals from electromagnetic ether - perhaps imagining Paddy McAloon alchemising with Future, James Ferraro mutually dreaming with Laurie Anderson, or Thomas Dolby jamming the airwaves with The Game.
After now spending some quality time with the album, we can safely hail it as one of 0PN’s smartest. Its lead single Black Snow, remains a total standout, and Prurient’s appearances, whether erupting from the choral froth of Warning, harmonising with Lopatin’s auto-tune on the David Gray-puckered Babylon, or the pop epic Same are all peak points. But we can’t ignore the excoriating excellence of We’ll Take It, which uncannily sounds a bit like Croww’s Slipknot deconstructions, and Last Known Image of a Song beautifully sounds like 4Hero gone ambient.
Concision and variation are key here. There really aren’t a lot of records that manage to collide pop and avant-garde worlds quite like this one.
Massive, mutant dancehall album from Miss Red and Kevin Martin a.k.a. The Bug, launched as the first LP on the latter’s Pressure label following the Flame1 project featuring Burial.
Taking what he needs from ‘90s digi dancehall and the environmental atmospheres collected on his travels, The Bug furnishes Miss Red with a concrète-cracked batch of riddims that neatly juxtapose her float-like-a-butterfly, sting-like-a-bee bars.
For the biggest excitement check out their hammering fast chat killer Money Machine, the ruddy acidic wine of Big, and the bashy swag of Slay, but it’s definitely best consumed hot in one sitting, where the textures and space of The Bug’s fiercely unique, biting point production can really take a hold.
Stunning HD orchestral // text-to -speech début by Tokyo-based artist and curator, Nozomu Matsumoto, a huge recommendation if yr into the augmented realities of TCF, James Ferraro, Mark Leckey, Goodiepal and Elysia Crampton, or the layered, highly evocative narratives of Mica Levi, Sam Kidel and Terre Thaemlitz…
Climatotherapy is Nozomu’s remarkable first vinyl release and début for The Death of Rave, conceived as a soundtrack for a health forecast given by Amazon’s Text-to-Speech interface Polly. It sounds like little we’ve heard before; an augmented reality rendered with soaring Hollywood strings and pristine arrangements evoking the hyperreal tapestry / idyllic ambient of Alva Noto’s Xerrox series paired with R&B folk tropes and a non-linear narration conveying Nozomu’s ideas with clinically emotive clarity.
The text-to-speech narration finds Polly curating our mental and moral energy into health; her prognostications framed by those strings to startling, uncannily calculated effect, using additional vocals and music to limn in HD an up-to-the minute and personal perspective on themes of morality in Artificial Intelligence which could be called key to Japan’s hauntology, also intersecting with the artist’s own experience of meteoropathic sickness, and its symptoms related to barometric fluctuations and psychic-atmospheric disturbance.
A strikingly singular work, ‘Climathotherapy’ effectively resonates with the novel musical sci-fi of James Ferraro, Elysia Crampton and T C F, as well as The Death of Rave’s own editions such as Mark Leckey’s IoT study ‘GreenScreenRefrigerator’ and Sam Kidel’s ‘Disruptive Muzak’. It’s a properly unique record of its times...