Perhaps the only good thing to emerge from Brexit is The Matthew Herbert United Kingdom and Gibraltar European Union Membership Referendum Big Band, herein referred to as TMHUKAGEUMRBB, and their album ‘The State Between Us’.
Presented as an album ruminating on what it is to be British in 2018, aside from the obvious shame and embarrassment, it locates a strength in numbers and our eccentricities with a cast of a thousand performers responding to the premature ejaculation of Article 50. Between them, they document an imagined journey on foot across Great Britain thru a mix of elegiac melodies with site-specific recordings of Chequers, a Welsh sheep farm, felled WWII planes, and walks along the Northern Irish border that lend a poetic, historically apt reading of a country entering the grip of madness.
Across the album’s 16 songs Herbert and co pull from every aspect of the past two years of Brexit, from interminable news cycles to a spectrum of British eccentricities, to our intrinsic links with the rest of the world, not to mention the EU. The results frame a contemplative collection of arrangements that, while sadly unlikely to change any Brexiteers minds, may at the least give them pause for thought, to reflect on all the good shit they’re so eager to extinguish.
It would be presumptuous of us to expect that all of our UK customers share our sentiment, but we’d wager a £10 that most of you do, and likewise many of our EU and RoW customers. So in effect we’re probably preaching to the choir. But in case we’re not, and you’re up for leaving the EU - and appreciate British sites like ours, or the wonderfully esoteric make-up of British culture in general - know that this could be seriously jeopardised by the clueless Tory pebbles (and those they’ve hoodwinked) who are clinging like winnets to the arsehole of Brexit. Fuck knows what we can do to remedy it apart form support albums like ‘The State Between Us’, and the wholly sensible idea of a 2nd referendum, come what may (or when May goes).
“Between 1995 and 2000 I was able to play sixteen concerts with Ornette. Before each concert he would write ten new pieces that we would work out and record during an entire week at his Harmolodic studio in Harlem, New York."
"Since he wanted me to contribute the cards (sounds) for his melodies, I was directly involved in the composition process. “Once the concert was over, the songs would never be played again. I am now the only one who has all of the recordings and the sheet music for a total of 170 pieces. And after about twenty years, I have put together the most beautiful of his melodies and ballads and recorded them for piano solo. With the exception of ‘Lonely Woman’, none of the pieces has ever been released by Ornette.”
…And the earth crack'd to reveal Scott Walker & Sunn 0)))'s colossal offspring 'Soused' in its riveting, tragic glory.
Four years on from their intended collaboration in 'Monoliths & Dimensions', the arch avant-crooner meets the robed duo (and Tos Nieuwenhuizen) at the apex of their powers, presenting a peerless, operatic vision of doom metal informed as much by Native American history and the underground US psyche as experimental jazz and electronic dynamics. We can safely say it matches and surpasses our high expectations of the project, offering a complex, widescreen portal to a chiaroscuro world slashed in black by Anderson and O'Malley and illuminated by Walker's range of possessed vocal personas, from anguished despair to internal torment and shocking convulsions.
Embarking over the bull-whipped Moog bass momentum and banking riffs of 'Brando', Walker is a disturbing yet utterly compelling presence enticing us to cross thresholds into the arcane, uncanny worlds animated by Sunn 0))), whether projecting across the molasses drone trudge of 'Bull' or alternately wilting and lashing out from the percussive attacks and abyssal tar pits of 'Herod 2014'. By 4th song 'Fetish' their path has narrowed to a 'marish corridor of re-amped synth ghouls and spectral noise before distant drums abort the pregnant drones somewhere in the final third, for closing shot, 'Lullaby' to emulsify their unheimlich resolution at its most dramatic, synth-fired and intimate. It's a genuinely remarkable session, surely one of 2014's best.
Renowned Japanese vocalist Phew meets fellow sonic alchemists Jim O'Rourke and Oren Ambarchi on ‘Patience Soup’, pushing her envelope even further than last year’s admirably uncompromising hook-up with The Raincoats’ Ana Da Silva.
“Patience Soup presents the entirety of a live performance from the trio of Oren Ambarchi, Jim O’Rourke, and Japanese underground legend Phew that took place at the Kitakyushu Performing Arts Center on November 4th, 2015.
Known to many listeners outside Japan primarily for her early collaborations with members of Can, Phew has been undergoing something of a creative renaissance in the last few years, prolifically recording and releasing a body of work that strips away the band arrangements present on most of her past releases to focus solely on her raw DIY electronics and possessed vocal stylings. Forming a perfect companion to 2017’s well-received Voice Hardcore, a series of pieces composed of only her processed voice that saw Phew push her work into the most abstract terrain yet, Patience Soup finds the trio inhabiting an uneasy landscape of moans, howls, and smeared electronic sonorities.
Presented in atmosphere-enhancing room fidelity, the set begins in crunching textural abstraction and Phew’s vocal asides, set against a backdrop of Ambarchi’s shimmering Leslie-cabinet guitar tones and O’Rourke’s synthetic slivers. A testament to the risk-taking prowess of these three master improvisers, the performance moves organically from ecstatic crescendos powered by Phew’s processed wails to moments of near-silence in which a translucent veil of lingering electronic tones is gently punctuated by O’Rourke’s chiming piano chords. Constantly shifting, both harmonically and dynamically, Patience Soup is suffused throughout with a haunted energy and shows these three established figures continuing to venture out into uncharted territory.”
Killer-mode Industrial curveballs from cult French duo Geins’t Naït recorded between 1986-1993, the first instalment in a planned trilogy of archival compilations on Low Jack’s Éditions Gravats. They make a sound somewhere in the orbit of minimal Prince/Linndrum productions played at half speed and crossed with early Muslimgauze E.g Oblique Graph. In other words, deadly gear...
Following on from the legendary duo’s class 2018 salvo on Vladimir Ivkovic’s Offen Music, Low Jack throws another curveball on Editions Gravats’ with a trove of unreleased Geins’t Naït material showcasing the sexy swivel and atmospheres that distinguished Thierry Merigout and Laurent Petitgrand’s band from the rest of the french industrial scene. Turning inspirations from the Surrealists and Situationists into a rawly fascinating mixture of slow, pendulous rhythms, chattering electronics and over-the-shoulder vocals, the results are evidently a prime fit for Gravats' expanding catalogue of psychedelic, percussive oddities.
‘Archives 1/3’ volleys 11 examples of the art brut pair hewing at the coalface of industrial music, locating rich seams of rhythm-driven experimentation that still sound vital, over 30 years later. In the process, it highlights a tangible link between early industrial musick, its tribalist reference points, and the current state of play in dancehalls across the world, where everything from ragga to techno and noise are fair game.
To be specific, DJs and dancers will be in their element with roughshod aces such as the swivelling might of ‘Fix’, the industrial martial arts of ‘Quivala’, and the squashed pressure of ‘La Plus Belle De Tout’ and ‘Abs Trac 1’, but they’re best heard in context of the whole, alongside more possessed workouts such as the Muslimgauze-in-tongues vibe of ‘Rossi Aldo’, the Godlflesh-like seethe of ‘Roman’, and the kind of necrotising, slowed-down EBM darkness in ‘Cameo’ which wouldn’t sound out of place on the ‘Decoder’ soundtrack.
DMX Krew does his charmingly cheesy electro moves for Hypercolour again with ‘Glad To Be Sad’,
Following two years from ‘Strange Directions’ - an unusually long stretch for a producer with near enough 20 albums to his name in as many years - ‘Glad To Be Sad’ feels a little more sculpted and distinctive than usual, with a sly eye fixed on furtive EBM, acid house and industrial styles alongside the usual acid, electro and funky Braindance nods.
Scott Walker’s latest masterpiece is a tempestuous orchestral score to The Childhood of a Leader; a key and compelling component to Brady Corbet’s directorial debut, and Walker’s first O.S.T. since Pola X in 1999. If Bisch Bosch (2012) and his Soused (2014) collaboration with Sunn 0))) were a deadly one-two showing the old dog still has chops, this one is a stone cold haymaker.
It’s all too rare that we’re totally wowed by movie soundtracks nowadays - Mica Levi’s Under The Skin being the most recent, memorable example - but we can safely add The Childhood of a Leader to that small, sacred pile of works which operate perfectly well when separated from their visual analog - the sort of detailed, image-rich sounds and compositions which future producers and artists will be mining for generations to come.
Taking its cues from Jean-Paul Sartre’s short story of the same title, the film’s psychological dramas are matched move for move by Walker’s arrangements, tasking a small army of 46 string players and 16 brass for the studio recording, aided by co-producer Peter Walsh and musical director Mark Warman in drawing out truly ravenous and shocking performances by all involved.
There is nothing sentimental or showy about this record, just a classicist grasp of orchestral music’s most timeless affect, filtered thru the mind of a perennial outlier and distilled to intoxicating proof with some subtle but vital electronic enhancements.
100% amazing. Do not miss!!!
Later period, post-4AD Cocteau Twins pressed on vinyl for the first time since its original release.
"Four-Calendar Café is the seventh album by Scottish band Cocteau Twins. It was originally released on 18 October 1993 on Fontana. The album distinguished itself from the rest of the Twins’ catalogue in two major areas: The sound was much more pop-oriented and less ambient than previous works, and Liz Fraser’s lyrics were much more intelligible than usual."
3rd volume in a fine series of post-punk/industrial/synth-pop compilations, packing 32 tracks from he likes of Front 242, K. Leimer, Les Vampyrettes, Bourbonese Qualk, Portion Control, The Legendary Pink Dots, E.M.A.K., Tuxedomoon. A good look for fans of the LSD or V-O-D sets
“Inspired by Dave Henderson’s legendary ‘Wild Planet’ columns, published in Sounds magazine in 1983, Close To The Noise Floor first collected together sixty of the finest examples of post-punk era electronic musical experimentation in the UK. A companion European volume, Noise Reduction System, and a North American collection, Third Noise Principle, followed. Collected here are selected highlights from all three volumes.”
From Sierra Leone via Berlin, Lamin Fofana brings his gritty twyst to Simone Trabucchi’s Hundebiss (Kelman Duran, Lil Ugly Mane)
Since his early releases for Dutty Artz at the start of this decade, Lamin Fofana most notably ran the NYC-based Sci-Fi & Fantasy label with Paul Lee, which was an early springboard for Lotic and Max McFerren.
On ‘Brancusi Sculpting Beyonce’ Fofana reprises the style we still recall from his Dutty Artz releases, a technoid-sidespin on West African drums nous, stepped up with tight dub chords and sharp FX.
Hard and slinky electro/techno remixes of Daniel Avery from Anastasia Kristensen, Manni Dee and Patrick Russell
Manni Dee puts the boot in on ‘Citizen’ with warehouse driving impact; Danish DJ/proudcer Anastasia Kristensen reworks ‘Glitter’ as a galloping big room techno tool; Brooklyn’s Patrick Russell provides the highlight with the rudely retuned torque and nose drip dynamics of his ‘Diminuendo’ remix.
Floating Points’ personal collection of global soul, ambient, jazz and folk treasures form the latest in Late Night Tales series.
"Sam Shepherd aka Floating Points’ music taste is notoriously tricky to define, ranging from ethereal classical at one end to coruscating techno at the other, united only in a firm belief in the transcendental power of music to move hearts, minds and – yes – feet. Similarly, his production career has ranged from early experiments in dance music with breakout records such as the ‘Shadows EP’ and collaborating with legendary Gnawa master Mahmoud Guinia to his expansive album ‘Elaenia’, which met with critical acclaim upon its release in 2015.
This Late Night Tales excursion into the depths of the evening reflects his broad tastes. The globally-travelled producer has collected untold treasures on his travels from dusty stores in Brazil to market stalls near his hometown. There’s the gorgeous ‘Via Làctea’, culled from Carlos Walker’s debut album, Abu Talib’s (Bobby Wright) plaintive ‘Blood Of An American’ and Robert Vanderbilt’s gospel reworking of Manchild’s ‘Especially For You’. Raw soul and feeling oozing from each song’s pores.
At the other end of the music scale are the modernists, such as Québécoise Kara-Lis Coverdale who weighs in with the indelible ‘Moments In Love’, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith whose ‘Milk’ is an exercise in tranquility, while Sarah Davachi’s meditative mix-opener offers respite from a weary world.
We have some exclusive tracks for Late Night Tales; alongside Davachi’s offerings there is also Toshimaru Nakamura’s ‘Nimb #59’, as well as the now traditional cover version. hepherd delved into his childhood
memory for this one, a track taken from the first album his parents bought him, Kenny Wheeler’s ‘Music For Large & Small Ensembles’: Sam offers up his interpretation of ‘Opening Part 1’. Wheeler also contributes horns to Azimuth
track The Tunnel, written and performed by Norma Winstone and John Taylor who, coincidentally, are the parents of Floating Points’ drummer Leo Taylor. Closing the album, Lauren Laverne reads the suitably nocturnal poem ‘Ah! Why, Because The Dazzling Sun’ by Emily Brontë.
“I tried to find music that reflects the stillness of night. And because my musical interests lie all over the place, it’s quite difficult to distil that notion down to just a few songs. I was quite keen to have some electronic music in there but I also really wanted to have some soul music mixed in, so I had to try and find a pathway between all of this different music.” - Sam Shepherd (Floating Points) March 2019"
The mesmerising ’Ilana (The Creator)’ is desert blues maestro Mdou Moctar’s first album recorded in a proper studio and backed by a full band
Whirling at the heels of his live recordings made in Jack White’s Third Man complex, the Tuareg guitarist returns to his spiritual home of Sahel Sounds, flanked by Ahmoudou Madassane (Les Filles de Illighadad) on rhythm guitar, Aboubacar Mazawadje’s percussion, and Michael Coltun on bass, to present his magnum opus 10 some years since his debut album was distributed on SD cards across west Africa.
Mdou got to this point after his self-taught, fiery guitar skills were heard by Christopher Kirkley ov Sahel Sounds, who, after a few phone calls (Mdou dropped the first one, thinking it was a prank), secured Mdou’s ‘Tahoultine’ song for the now-seminal ‘Music From Saharan Cellphones’ compilation in 2010. A string of celebrated LPs have followed, including Mdou’s soundtrack for a Saharan remake of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’, and now on ‘Ilana (The Creator)’ he finally shows what he can do in a true studio setting, and with bios own band.
The results are wider, more layered, and immersively lusher than anything else in Mdou’s oeuvre, yet they lose none of the in-the-moment “life” found in his rawer, earlier works, or indeed his transfixing live performances across the EU and USA.
Comprising long hours of jamming in the studio, with later overdubs made in Niger, ‘Ilana (The Creator)’ harnesses Mdou and his group’s mesmerising energy in 9 songs, coursing with the kind of psychedelic feel that begs eyes closed and heads-down from the magnetic swiller of ‘Kamane Tarhanin’ thru the wide open blues space connoted by ‘Inizgam’, to the elegant, swaying rhythms and lilting harmonies in ‘Anna’, and a scorching tribute to Tuareg folklore in ‘Ilana’, with incendiary music underlining lyrics about France’s exploitation of Niger’s uranium reserves.
As part of their 20th Anniversary celebrations, Strut offer up the first new volume in their pioneering ‘Nigeria 70’ series for over 8 years, bringing together rare highlife, Afro-funk and juju from the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Compiled by collector and DJ Duncan Brooker, this new selection of tracks is receiving its first international release outside of Nigeria.
"The compilation returns to a fertile heyday in Nigerian music when established styles like highlife and juju became infused with elements of Western jazz, soul and funk and musicians brought a proud new message post-independence. Brooker places the spotlight particularly on some of the incredible Ukwuani musicians from the Delta State region as guitarist Rogana Ottah and Steady Arobby’s International Brothers Band forged their own fluid brand of highlife and soulman Don Bruce drew on the US R&B greats for a series of great albums and explosive stage shows at his residency at Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
Elsewhere, the album explores the close connection between Nigeria and Benin’s music, most famously through Sir Victor Uwaifo, appearing here with a killer mid‘80s ekassa jam, as well as highlife hitmaker Osayamore Joseph on ‘Obonogbozu’ (Joseph made headlines in Nigeria for very different reasons in 2017, surviving a one month kidnapping ordeal).
Other tracks include ‘Sickness’ a 1979 lament on how all countries share troubles by Prince Nico Mbarga, the Nigerian / Camerounian star behind the smash hit ‘Sweet Mother’; reggae singer Felixson Ngasia switches to funk and disco for a heavy workout with potent lyrics around black identity; another major highlife great Etubom Rex Williams unleashes a punchy psych funk gem with ‘Psychedelic Shoes’ and Africa 70 member Pax Nicholas vocals a simmering Afrobeat groove from Jacob Lee’s Saxon Lee & The Shadows International Band."
A wistful, fractal collection of introspective songs built from fragments of other people’s voices, sounds, and music by French/Canadian artist Jean Cousin aka Joni Void
“Mise En Abyme is the second full-length by Joni Void, the avant-electronica project of France/Canada producer Jean Cousin, following his acutely accomplished and acclaimed 2017 debut album Selfless. (#8 Experimental Album of 2017 at Pitchfork, among other accolades.)
Grappling with a cascade of heartbreaks and discontinuities over the past year, Cousin calls the new album a “time-travel experiment”, as he culls sounds from devices and sources spanning childhood to the present (phones, cameras, video games, home movies) to retrieve and reframe subjective memories, histories and “regressions through former selves” through immersion in the evocative potential of the mostly wordless voices of others. The resulting sonic portraits simultaneously convey formally abstract dislocations and highly emotive warmth, interiority, humanity and specificity.
Side A especially highlights these works – the “with people” half of the album, replete with contemplative, melancholic songs, each featuring a deconstructed performance by a different female voice, propelled to varying degrees with additive rhythmic and textural layers. Side B is the “isolation” half: vocal samples continue to make appearances, including Cousin’s own voice on the vertiginous “Voix Sans Issue” and his own lyrics on the computer-narrated text-to-speech spoken word of the confessional “Deep Impression” – but the contrasting vibe is more claustrophobic, anxious and febrile.
Mise En Abyme ends with a throwback to Cousin’s pre-Joni Void keyboard-based works as johnny_ripper on the gorgeous Rhodes piece “Persistence”, while the closing exuberant maximalist jam of “Resolve” fittingly samples every previous song and locks the album into a self-referential recursive sequence.”
18 track showcase of new Adrian Sherwood productions featuring previews of several forthcoming On-U releases, unique mixes, deep cuts and unreleased tracks from Roots Manuva, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Coldcut, Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band), Mark Stewart, Horace Andy and more.
"The long-awaited latest instalment in the legendary On-U sampler series that first emerged in 1984. In the classic tradition of the series the tracks are stitched together with a number of special pirate radio style segue ways, making for a unique journey through the modern world of On-U Sound."
London-based electronaut Emile Facey aka Plant43 routes thru Sheffield’s CPU with a sparkling 4th solo LP of nimbly arranged arpeggios, brooding bloo pads and fluid hydraulics
Discerning androids and cyborgs will be in their element here with 8 exactingly crafted workouts flush with colourful chromatic melodies and night gazing Bladerunner feels anchored in effortless rhythms, including craftier runs into Arpanet styled calculations abundant int he 2nd half.
From Michigan via Belgium, Tyler Dancer brings a rude Detroit flavour to his follow-up record for DBA, leading on from 2017’s debut 12” and strong remix of Funkadelic with Shake
Uptown he plays out the wickedly sub-heavy swagger of ‘Kármán Line’ with its hazy top line and rugged flow coming off like Shake meets Nolean Reusse, whereas ‘Shiva’s Hands’ puts the kicks down four square with frazzled handclaps and weird, piped-in lead to sound a bit New Beaty, and the pumping ‘Nyx’ lets some jazzy light trickle in to the mix for sweet contrast.
Psyk gains some serious techno traction with 2nd LP ‘A Moment Before’ on Tresor
Arriving half a decade on from debut LP ‘Time Foundation’, its follow-up offers eight rollin variations on a furtive, slinky, minimal theme prefaced by an ambient intro.
Picks of the bunch are the buzzing subaquatic missiles ‘Deep Breath’ and ‘Waves’, also the gritty 303 flow of ‘Acid Test’ and the electro-trance wriggler ‘Artemis’.
‘Dark Matter’ completes a delectable trio of releases surveying Pablo’s Eye, a multifaceted Belgian collective working between ambient electronica, cinematic synth themes and hypnotic minimal rhythms.
Drawn from some 30 years of Pablo’s Eye material, ‘Dark Matter’ oscillates between the shadowy feels found in their ‘Spring Break’ compilation, and their rhythm-driven inclinations from the stunning ‘Bardo For Pablo’ 12”.
As Stroom so beautifully put it, the sound of Pablo’s Eye “is a temporary atmosphere, like a taste or dream…”, and that ephemeral nature is poignantly key to the 12 tracks on offer’, as they drift from theatrical vignettes such as ‘Worship & Passion’ to intoxicating, noirish percussion and drones redolent of Muslimgauze in ‘Different Observers’, and onto reverberating, spacious drum and drone works such as ‘A Pagan Use’ and the trip-hop of ‘Out of the Corner of Her Eye’, via absorbing arabesques like the serene ambient blush of ‘When You Were Asleep’ and ‘L.A. Desert’.
At risk of repeating ourselves, the selection and presentation skills of Ziggy Devriendt and his team at Stroom are achingly on-point here, making for a record you’ll return to over and again.
Killer, Goa-style slugs of acid chug from Alexis Le Tan and Joakim’s Full Circle alias - a big look for fans of Vladimir Ivkovic DJ sets!
Tagged “A journey to your higher state of consciousness and back”, Full Circle’s 3rd 12” - their 1st since 2015 - comes with proper, sand-stomping squelch and tribal drums at 33 not 45rpm in the A-side’s ‘Age Of Time’, while the B-side’s ‘Pure Pose’ does the same with proggier house ingredients stretched out to a sexy slow swing and arced with bubbling 303.
A minimalist masterpiece and pinnacle of the 20th century classical canon, this boxset collects all four parts of Steve Reich’s Drumming, plus Six Pianos and Music For Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organs on vinyl for the first time in over 40 years.
Marking an important intersection of western avant-garde thought with percussive practices inspired by Ghanaian drum rituals and Balinese gamelan ceremonies, Reich’s seminal recording has inspired countless composers since it was realised in 1973 and recorded in Hamburg, 1974, casting indelible influence over successive waves of electronic dance music - from disco to techno - thru post rock, indie-pop and all integers between them over the course of a radiant, enduring lifespan.
In fact, anyone would struggle to fully sum up the impact these recordings have had on modern music, from the way in which they effectively offered a transcendent solution to the difficulties of the serialist music which preceded them through use of innovative strategies of phasing repetition and psychoacoustic effects, to their refreshing and mesmerising pairing of percussion and vocals in distinctly unique harmonic structures, which flipped staid ideas of classical convention on their head with a new democracy of frequencies.
Whilst they are most certainly the result of long, studious hours of dedication and rigorous communal practice, ultimately the beauty of all three pieces lies in their ostensible, affectively engaging simplicity; from the hypnotically infectious pulse which underpins Drumming and the way in which it naturally swoons in and out of phase, to the elegantly airborne lift of Six Pianos and the gently rapturous vocal percolations of Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ.
An essential addition to any record collection.
STROOM 〰 serve a compilation of dreamlike works by Brussels-based collective Pablo’s Eye drawn from their catalogue circa the early-mid ‘90s. There’s some lush passages to be found...
“Pablo’s Eye is the science of studio pressure, when engineer becomes artist. Appropriating left and right as well as front and back, Pablo’s Eye uses the mixing desk to examine and exhaust the possibilities of moments. Pablo’s Eye is a record of that examination and exhaustion, but it is also a record of its own inner space. By means of depth placement, psychoacoustics and spatial fug, Pablo’s Eye is experienced in the deeper reaches of the body, bypassing the conscious part of the mind entirely.
Pablo’s Eye is the turning of recorded music inside out to show its seams. It interrogates a song, stripping down the body of the song to reveal its bones. Pablo’s Eye is in the interstices of music, it plugs the gaps, fills the holes. Pablo’s Eye seeks out the concealed mechanisms, it is a song’s hidden agenda.
For this compilation, it was decided to present the softer air-beatings of Pablo’s Eye. More than anything, Pablo’s Eye is a temporary atmosphere, like a taste or a dream…”
Later period, post-4AD Cocteau Twins pressed on vinyl for the first time since its original release.
"Milk & Kisses is the eighth and final studio album by Cocteau Twins, issued by Fontana Records in March 1996. It proved to be their last. The song “”Rilkean Heart”” was a homage to Jeff Buckley, who was a lifelong lover of the work of poet Rainer Maria Rilke."
Hypnotic, heavy-lidded tech-house minimalism from Romania’s Vid on Amsterdam’s Sound of Vast
Is there a shrine to Villalobos somewhere in Romania? Clearly modelled in his beardy, long-limbed image, ‘Life of Dreams’ stretches out with endlessly rolling rhythmic permutations and subtly trippy voices on the A-side, before thickening up the subs and bringing in that patina of voices again, strongly recalling ‘Sei Es Drum’ vibes in ‘Povestea Ei’, before ‘Povestea Mea’ melts out into a wonderfully queasy sort of curdled acid dissonance and super wavy, baroque-like melodies that will sound ace after gallons of vodka and enough ket to knock out a donkey.
Punchy, bright, deep Euro house-style jackers from Dekmantel regular Palms Trax
’To Paradise’ is a strapping and supple blend of Italo arps and Chicagoan drum programming with a clinically wipe-clean Dutch finish. ‘Love In Space’ follows in a sparky dream house mode with starburst synths and tropical percussion in fruity ‘80s flex, and ‘Heron’ slopes off on a duskier, hair-kissing boogie wiggle.
Pivotal Amsterdam producers Aroy Dee and Ma Spaventi double down on a romantic house tip
Marking up their first collaboration, following a split 12” in 2012 and many solo M>O>S joint between, ‘The Way We Love’ lays down a firm groove for lovely, soft focus pads and aching vocals in the title tune, while the ‘Reprise’ shed the beat to gorgeous, late ‘90s effect.
‘The Way We Move’ cuts shades deeper on the B-side with bruised kick drum anchoring elegiac pads, sculpted square bass and choral progressions like a really moody Larry Heard joint, which Spaventi cools out with a lovely, dawning rework.
Rupa’s cult, 1982 Indian “disco” side comes back around on a fully legit pressing via Numero. Some of it is novelty, but the standout ‘Aaj Shanibar’ is a proper burner!
“Barely disco and hardly jazz, Rupa Biswas’ 1982 LP is the halfway point between Bollywood and Balearic. Tracked in Calgary’s Living Room Studios with a crack team of Indian and Canadian studio rats alike, Disco Jazz is a perfect fusion of East and West. Sarod and synthesizer intricately weaving around one another for 37 transcendent minutes, culminating in the viral hit “Aaj Shanibar.” Remastered from original analogue source material and with the permission and blessing of the producers and performers.”
Jim O’Rourke goes to town on rework of Langham Research Centre’s radiophonic audities, alongside a spectral deconstruction by berlin-based Japanese band, Group A
“Langham Research Centre’s radiophonic experiments are twisted into new shapes on Tape Reworks Vol. 1, a split EP featuring remixes by renowned experimental musician Jim O’Rourke and Berlin-based industrial band group A.
On Side A, Jim O’Rourke uses ‘Quasar Melodics’ as his source material, transforming fizzing grains of sound into an oceanic swirl of noise. On the flip, group A find metallic rhythms and eerie melancholy in ‘Perpetual Motion’.”
Dome’s groundbreaking debut album ‘1’ is finally available as a standalone vinyl reissue via Editions Mego. Comprising Wire’s Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis, Dome formed during Wire’s 1980-84 hiatus, creating their own recording space in Eric Radcliffe’s legendary Blackwing Studios (Depeche Mode, Yazoo), where they would pursue and recombine myriad musical interests to become one of post-punk’s most definitive, influential and endlessly inventive bands.
Truly taking to the idea of studio as instrument, Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis used their Dome set-up to generate some of the uncanniest music of their generation. Using the usual guitar and drums, plus synths and lots of tape manipulation, they effectively combined avant-garde experimentation with a pop nous, resulting in strikingly unique songs such as their incredible, signature ‘Cruel When Complete’ featuring the haunting vocals of Angela Conway aka. A.C. Marias, along with oblique noise sculptures such as ‘Ampnoise’ and seminal freaks like ‘Rolling Upon My Day’ which do it all in the space of one track.
‘Dome 1’ was the first of three Dome LPs released on the band’s eponymous label between 1980-81, along with other notables such as the incredible Michael O’Shea album and A.C. Marias’ ‘Drop / So’, which all bore the spooky, spacious hallmarks and air-bending tones of Dome’s studio. It catalogues the first experiments of what, to our mind, was one of the most intriguing and esoteric bodies of work from the early 80’s, combining the artschool sensibilities of Gilbert - who was in his mid '30s by this point - with a post-punk awareness shared by Lewis. They captured the ideal - shared by so many yet achieved by so few - of reaching a kind of avant-pop utopia. 40 years later, it still sounds like nothing else.
Amazing avant-garde/computer music unearthed by Unseen Worlds, who were behind Laurie Spiegel's brilliant 'The Expanding Universe' collection. This is totally blowing our tiny minds right now; a breathtaking suite of unclassified but life-affirming electronic music for Buchla, Publison, Macintosh and Turntables by American composer Carl Stone, mostly previously unpublished, this is only his 2nd vinyl release since 1983! Strongly tipped to fans of Steve Reich, Julia Holter, Robert Ashley, The Automatics Group, Pinkcourtesyphone.
A student of composition under Morton Subotnick and James Tenney at CalArts, Stone has exclusively produced electro-acoustic music since 1972, mostly issued on CD by academic-leaning labels until now, as Unseen Worlds fulfil their role in facilitating “quality editions of unheralded and revolutionary, yet accessible, avant garde music” with this truly revelatory compilation.
It lights up our pleasure centres like a quid in a fruit machine, using a palette of eastern-tuned scales, processed vocals and pop samples to conjure a majorly playful array of idiosyncratic, angular and intriguing arrangements that resonate with Robert Ashley’s mercurial cut-ups as much as The Automatics Group’s incisive dance pop detournements and the proto-glitch music of Nicolas Collins.
It’s all totally new to us and feels like somebody just opened a big skylight onto our listening lives, flooding us with new sensations between the baroque computer music of Sukhothai (1977) and the wormholing drone of Chao Praya (1973), taking in the soothingly ethereal Shing Kee (1986) and strobing structure of Don II Jang (1982), along with the haunting nocturnal transition of Kuk Il Kwan (1981) to lay out whole new worlds before your ears.
We’ll zip it now, but trust us; this is a total blinder. Not to be missed by anyone with a taste for innovative electronic music of the rarest order.
Stroom pluck out a proper peach for Valentine’s day, creaming the archive of Venice, Italy’s Ruins for a super memorable and woozy collection of stylish, emotive electro-wave circa 1981-1984, highly recommended if you're into Vazz, Antena, Maximum Joy...
Previously included on compilations from Minimal Wave and Mannequin, the four-piece Ruins ran from the turn of the ‘80s until late ’85, a golden run which resulted a trio of LPs and four 12”s, from which this compilation is sourced.
In key with New Wave pop’s experimental tendencies, Ruins make songs first and foremost, but they’re detectably porous to influence from nascent US disco-rap-funk as much as David Bowie and Japan, nailing a classic sound marbled with a playfully ambiguous idiosyncrasy.
Intensely warped electronic noise made at EMS studios by Swedish master Daniel Rozenhall; alternately dense/spacious sides looking deep into the mind of the machines...
Two blinding wormholers from Daniel Rozenhall on a super limited pressing bound to be sought-after by intrepid sound explorers. A close associate of Stockholm’s EMS studios and the Fylkingen venue at the heart of the city’s experimental music scene, Daniel Rozenhall has played a low-key but vital role in Sweden since his trio of albums for Firework Editions and Kning Disk, and the ‘Rozenhall’ compilation, between 2001-2009. Ten years later he now metes out the mind-bindingly dense and absorbing audness of ‘Den Förföljdes Gryning’, unfurling some of the most colourfully kaotic and amorphous sounds this side of Merzbow, Florian Hecker and Cam Deas - and we do not use those comparisons lightly!
Gifted with a remarkable taste or tolerance for high-strength hallucinogenic electronics, Rozenhall delivers two powerful tracts of unfathomably complex, polymetric slosh and scree riddled with amorphous, phantasmic apparitions set to trigger myriad, pareidolic perceptions. The first side is a glut of dissonant, alien squabble seemingly moving in every direction at once, somehow matching the crispness of Florian Hecker with the density of Masami Akita compositions in bewildering fashion, whereas the B-side inverts that complexity with a warped, elemental simplicity, allowing a single, oscillating synth figure to spiral out from low frequencies to high with a warped keen, recalling one of EVOL’s mentasm sculptures as much as Cam Deas in infinitely accelerating freefall or a creature that just crawled up the gullet of Organum.
No compromises. Rozenhall properly sees this one through.
Forlorn, rustic studies for strings, roll-up piano, concertina, singing bowls and more from Aaron Martin for his spiritual home at Preserved Sound
“Aaron Martin’s album "A Room Now Empty" sees him returning to the memory-based recordings of previous albums such as "Almond", "River Water" and "Chautauqua", where layered meanings in the music and titles don’t allow a single clear-cut reading of the music.
“A Room Now Empty is similar to the concept of Day Has Ended where Christoph Berg and I created music to encompass the passing of a day, but stretched out for the passing of a lifetime or at least a portion of a lifetime,” says Aaron.
Using cello, electric guitar, bass, roll up piano, banjo, concertina, acoustic guitar, voice, ukulele, singing bowls and lap steel, "A Room Now Empty" keeps the same intimacy and directness of Aaron’s previous albums, with a slightly more processed sound creating distance within the music.”
Willie Burns and L.I.E.S' Ron Morelli meld minds as Strange Birds in the ruinous ‘Bird Shit’ jam session for Willie’s Verge Of Tears label
The result of a mucky weekend in Paris at the end of 2015, ‘Bird Shit’ delivers some of the deadliest material we’ve heard from either of ‘em. A-side gives strong highlights in the unyielding techno tension of ‘Birdshit 3’ and the pulverizing rhythmic noise of ‘Birdshit 1’, while ‘Birdshit 3’ is an unmissable EBM techno girder.
DJ Nigga Fox pushes Príncipe to new conceptual limits with the remarkable 15 Barras - a four-part movement of virulent acid, screeing strings and crowd noise unfolding over a seamless 20 minute arrangement. It’s just mad on so many levels, right up there with the Afro-cubist abstractions of Jamal Moss and Nolan Reusse at their best.
Originally conceived as the soundtrack to an installation but ultimately arriving on this one-sided piece of wax, 15 Barras trades in Nigga Fox’s usual dancefloor intensity and immediacy for something more slow burning and experimental in structure and duration.
An elasticated 303, or 303 emulation, is the glue that holds the piece together, coming in sticky waves of jabbing, writhing rhythm, accreting diced chants and swells of clamouring crowd noise that eventually hinge around a splintered claps and trills of hollow, wooden blocks of percussion at ruggedest angles.
Drop this at the right point in the dance and you’ve got at least enough time for a really leisurely slash, and maybe even roll a zoot before returning to the dance and finding everyone melted in some kind of Cronenbergian amorphorgy.
'Witch Hunt' and 'Natalia's Song' sets the tone for an album that delivers unabashed emotion, narcotic drift and rudeboy grit in equal and complementary measure.
The boss 'Riding With Death' is like grime from outer space, smacked-up and dubbed-out but iterated with an almost Teutonic discipline, while 'Vortex' and 'Lucifer' team the kind of brazen synth stabs favoured by R&B overlords like The-Dream and Timbaland with a heart-catching isolationist sensibility more in keeping with vintage Ae or Source Direct. In the context of the album, the Panda Bear-vocalled 'Things Fall Apart' makes perfect sense, preparing the ground for the fetid fourth world techno of 'Salamander'.
'Digital Rain' and 'Devil Lay Here' are pure, Zomby-patented dubstep bubble-bobble, the latter knocked nicely off-kilter by ear-worming horn sounds, while the wild-pitching arpeggios of 'Mozaik' and 'Black Orchid' hark back to his game-changing Hyperdub double-pack. 'Florence' teams the most delicate, tremulous piano sequences with scuttling junglist breakbeats, prompting inevitable comparisons with classic Aphex gear; pianos are in fact all over the album, culminating in the straight-faced, unadorned solo piece 'Basquiat'. The guy has really cultivated his patch of digital flora to perfection, and we just can't fault him here; Dedication is a hugely recommended journey into the heart of soundsystem psychedelia, Zomby-style.
Holy grail German post-punk zingers reissued via Stefan Schneider’s TAL, following on the heels of their killer Konrad Kraft reissue
Originally issued as one disc on Klar! 80’s 3LP ‘Massa’ set in 1981, Roter Stern Belgrad’s 3 tracks are an amazing example of Afro inspirations worked into early industrial frameworks.
Right up there with unruly classics by CH-BB, Din A Testbild and Liaisons Dangereuses from the same era, these tracks perhaps even more feral and far out, but properly anchored in amazing rhythms, as you’ll hear between the snaking minimalism and stressed metal sounds of ‘Afars & Issas’, on the wickedly agitated drum programming and cranky electronics of ‘Wegwerfliebling’, and the transfixing mix of possessed hollers, gnashing drums and motorik bass in ‘Abend-Stern-Chant’.
A tech-house hymn to menstruation, plus garage pivots and sub-loaded house heft from NYC x Berlin’s Klein Zage, backed with remixes by DJ Python, Ariel Zetina and Local Artist.
On ‘Womanhood’ Klein riffs on “a nihilistic declaration of menstruation” in a manner recalling Jenny Hval’s house incursions, while ‘Absolutely’ demonstrates her tuffer garage tastes with killer, rubbery 2-step spring and lyrics flying the flag for the female orgasm, wheras ‘She’s Out There’ knuckles down to a rudely wired Berlin darkroom sound.
DJ Python draws out the etheric appeal of ‘Womanhood’ with a drowsy dembow refit, Ariel Zetina follows their drop for Sweat Equity with a grimy 8-bar version of ‘Absolutely’, and ’She’s Out There’ becomes a playfully dubbed stepper in the hands of Vancouver’s Local Artist.
The Books’ Nick Zammuto serves a hauntingly evocative soundtrack to Jeremiah Zagar’s Sundance Award-Winning flick ‘We The Animals’. If you remember and/or love The Books’ intricately embroidered collage pop, the colourful dimensions of James Holden, or have a fondness for blissed out American indie film scores, your attention is required
“We The Animals is the award-winning new film from Jeremiah Zagar (In A Dream). Based on the best-selling novel by Justin Torres, We The Animals is Zagar’s first narrative feature. It reunites Zagar with Nick Zammuto, the renowned composer and co-founder of beloved collage-pop pioneers, the Books. Inspired by the film’s setting in rural upstate New York – and influenced by the early ambient electronic music that galvanized the Books two decades ago – Zammuto pairs that earthen, wooded isolation with dynamic pulses of customized electronics and sparse, crystalline layers of melodic soft synths. The juxtaposition is arresting, and gives the soundtrack a unique heft befitting of its subject matter – and betraying of its minimal instrumentation. Beautifully edited and sequenced to act as both a companion to the film and a standalone album, We The Animals: An Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is as subtle as it is startling, and succeeds in making even the heaviest emotions feel momentarily weightless.”
Searing mini LP from Cophenhagen’s Code Walk for Peder Mannerfelt’s label, dashing between daring 150bpm hydraulics and rugged techno rollers - highly recommended if yr into DJ Stingray, Eomac, Anastasia Kristensen, Peder Mannerfelt...
With ‘Distance’ the Copenhagen residents showcase a diverse brief to their sound, equally prone to take in elusive 150bpm electro oddities as mutant breakbeats and bullish techno, and all with a knowing push’n pull of abstraction and function that’s always been key to the strongest techno music since day one.
In six diverse parts the pairing work on, off and around the beat with varying levels of agility. They’re most thrilling when they go fast, far-out and near-weightless, as with the mercurial flow of opener ‘Distance’, and again with the scudding ghetto-tech bounce of ‘Red’ and their smudged power ambient ace, ‘The Same As Me’. But while those cuts are all eminently danceable, the other tracks are perhaps more conventionally ‘floor-focussed, from the flinty breakbeat and noise jag of ’Touch’, to the soggy bass drum march and sci-fi synth strokes of ‘Streak’, and the squared-off, cranky, Surgeon-esque buck of ‘Monitor’.
Following Code Walk’s 2017 debut ‘Doubler’ for CPH’s Ex Local/F12 labels, ‘Distance’ unpackages bold new angles to the duo’s style certain to spark fevered interest from explorative techno DJs and dancers.
'Futuro' is Not Waving’s engrossing, highly original soundtrack to Sean Rogg’s world-renowned art/theatre project. It features Ambient, environmental and tonal works & abstractions that come highly recommended if yr into Laurie Spiegel, Steve Roach, Brian Eno, Shuttle 358...
’Futuro’ is Not Waving’s sublime synth/ambient soundtrack to one of the world’s most intense art/theatre experiences: Sean Rogg’s radically immersive ‘The Waldorf Project’ - fusing choreography, spatial design, music and performance. Drawn from more than 20 hours of material recorded between 2013-2018, it finds Alessio Natalizia exploring a style of tonal and spatial minimalism that works as a fine palette cleanser for much of what you’ve heard from him in the past.
While not a new solo album, per se, the longform, Eno-like results of ‘Futuro’ demonstrate the full wingspan of Not Waving’s obsessive knowledge and emotive feel for electronic composition, making it in some senses one of the most substantial and unusual releases in his catalogue thus far. It ranges from highly emotive, site-specific synth meditations thru to bittersweet Kosmische intuitions, and milky, Eno-esque beauties.
But if any part sums up Futuro's widescreen scope, it’s the final side’s 17 minutes of awning, gently curdled synth pads - originally used in a performance to 4000 people in Thailand laid in pitch black, with bodies formed in triangles while dancers caressed their faces. It ends the album with such memorable effect as to make it something of a modern day environmental/ambient classic - and perhaps our favourite Not Waving release in an already enviably deep catalogue.
None-more-vital East African label Nyege Nyege Tapes present Otim Alpha’s melodic electro Acholi bangers on vinyl for the 1st time, following that blazing, acclaimed Sounds of Sisso compilation!
Alpha’s debut international release Gulu City Anthems features 11 songs written and recorded between 2004 and 2015 in Northern Uganda and ranges from hi-velocity bangers to more romantic mid-tempo swagger, all serving a totally infectious showcase of his plugged-in take on traditional Larakaraka wedding music that’s bound to get a lot of listeners itching for a +1 invite to one of his ceremonial sessions (crashing is always an option, too!).
Working with producer Leo Palayeng, Otim essentially computerises Acholi wedding music, weaving its traditional, see-sawing folk fiddles and call-and-response vocals with stripped, pounding drum machine polyrhythms in a sort of hypnotic, minimalist delirium. For the most part, it’s properly uptempo, with some searing highlights in the likes of his wickedly off-kilter jig Kodi Pa Barikiya (Kwan), the jabbing clash of almost cajun-style rapidfire riffs and turbo-charged toms in Toni G, or the Detroit/Chicago ghetto-compatible bang of Too Wiye Ming-Alphazo. But there’s also one super-charming piece called Agiki Ne Tye which works at a relatively leisurely 120bpm with strolling bass and bright, joyful chord cadence, presumably intended to allow the party a sweet breather.
Following Alpha’s recent, stellar introductory live show at Unsound ’17, this collection is set to impress his sound to eager ears beyond Uganda and the East African scene, and is surely destined to be lodged in record collections somewhere between your Shangaan, Konono No.1 and Caribbean soca faves - in other words; your party-starting section...
Jessica Pratt’s exceedingly strange, seemingly sped up but ultimately completely immersive vocals are in haunting/beguiling effect on her 3rd album following an eponymous 2012 debut and ‘On Your Own Love Again’ [Drag City, 2015]. You’re either going to think the engineer is taking the piss or you’ll fall heavy under her spell - count us firnly under the latter....
“For her third album Quiet Signs, Jessica Pratt offers up nine spare, beautiful & mysterious songs that feel like the culmination of her work to date. "Fare Thee Well" and "Poly Blue" retain glimmers of On Your Own Love Again's hazy day spells, but delicate arrangements for piano, flute, organ and strings instill a lush, chamber pop vim. The record's B-side, meanwhile, glows with an arresting late-night clarity; the first single, "This Time Around," pairs the Los Angeles artist's intimate vulnerability with a newfound resolve. Ultimately, this confidence is what sets Quiet Signs apart from Pratt's previous work, the journey of an artist stepping out of the darkened wings to take her place as one of this generation's preeminent songwriters.”