The shady Gescom collective's crackshot A1-D1, back on road for all CD fetishists and breakbeat/edit freaks
Originally dispatched on a pair of 12”s (hence the track titles A1-D1) in 2007, nearly a decade after their ‘MiniDisc’ album for Russell Haswell’s OR, it's a deadly demo of their ADD edit tendencies applied to classic acid, electro and disco breaks in properly wild style.
Personally, it’s most notable for the peerless ‘D1’, a nutty stop-start/reverse-edited cut-up of Adonis’ über classique acid melter ‘No Way Back’, which still sees a lot of play up our way. But those who keep their shell toes clean will also go mad for the sliced up breakbeat chicanery of ‘A1’, a take on the sci-fi B-boy disco ace ‘Space Dust’, and that twyst on ‘Downfall’ by Armando is pretty tasty, too.
It’s maybe fair to say ‘A1-D1’ is among the most sorely overlooked pieces in Gescom’s catalogue, yet by many measures, it’s also their most funked up.
Incredible collection of mid-late 80’s experimental works from the hugely influential Italian avant-garde composer Luigi Nono, including works for contrabass flute, clarinet, treated voices, strings and electronics.
Editions RZ present a necessary reissue of their 1990 LP release, now backed with three legendary recordings, 'La Terra E La Compagna', 'Caminantes', 'No Hay Caminos, Hay Que Caminar'. Collected, they form a great access point to Luigi Nono's unique, carefully realised, yet unfathomably vast world, one equally informed by avant-garde musical studies and his commitment to socialism.
In the best possible sense, it's very difficult to accurately sum up the sounds inside, other than in terms of a visceral, haptic approach and stunning spatial awareness. Highly recommended.
For 'Black Telephone Of Matter' we hear the contrarily noisy and contemplative side of Mika, no beats, but plenty of completely devastating aural views surveying vast abstract landscapes.
'Roma A.D 2727' weaves sinewaves sculpted into brutally effective and nerve stimulating squalls. 'Silence Traverses Des Mondes Et Des Endes' opens with the horrific cackle of a murder of crows before sharply focussed bass blasts with ever encroaching proximity and unrelated shards of textured noise dynamically ascend before crashing to point zero. If you've ever experienced one of his frightening but life affirming live shows, the album's centre-piece 'Bury A Horse's Head' should help you relive the life-changing intensity of his powerful drones with 11 mins of austere oscillator experimentation, only you'll have to turn the volume up for the full body tactile effect.
Paralleling this is the set's other extended composition 'A Measurement Of Excess Antenna Temperature At 4080 Ml/s'. A reduction of excess to the bare minimum of electronic hum with brain massaging waves of subbass that'll make your eyeballs vibrate if you're paying attention on good headphones.
One⁹ is one of the trickier Cage compositions, yielding 2 hours of shrill, minimal accordion by Edwin Alexander Buchholz
““sounds brushed into existence as in oriental calligraphy" (Cage)
the sounds in one9 are single tones and chords, up to six part harmonies.
how do sounds come into existence, how do they gain focus, how do they resolve, how do they merge into one another, how can one quietly and attentively, in all modesty, follow their unfolding?
these are the questions that guided edwin alexander buchholz in his interpretation of the piece.
over the years he played one9 time and again - for himself and in concerts. gradually solutions manifested themselves which he never, at first, would have considered.
it is not simply the case, that this music, which was originally written for shô, the japanese mouth organ from gagaku music, may also be played on accordion.
much as the immemorial shô, originated about 4000 years ago, and the modern accordion are related, they are not interchangeable. one9 has been written specifically for shô and first has to find its way to the accordion, in order to become real accordion music.
the accordion is a wind instrument, but also a keyboard instrument, it has stops, its colours are eminently rich and its two sound sources, as long as they are sounding, are always moving: away from each other, towards each other.
for edwin alexander buchholz one9, in the course of time, grew into a music, that integrated all of this, a music entirely for his instrument: the accordion.
traditionally the sound of the shô is connected to the heavens' gleam. I have no trouble hearing this quality here, in the sound of the accordion.
A variegated expo for Dutch pianist Dante Boon, presenting interpretations of experimental works by John Cage, Jürg Frey, Samuel Vriezen, Richard Ayres, Tom Johnson and Michael Manion, sequenced to highlight their range of technical, melodic and expressive qualities. His take on Jürg Frey’s ‘Sam Lazaro Bros’ and the slow, stately procession of Michael Manion’s 34’ ‘Music For Solo Piano’ are particularly sublime
“Pianist and composer Dante Boon often programs his recitals as webs. He likes to put compositions of great diversity in style and technique side by side. However, myriad connections can always be found between pairs of pieces, and these give the whole a subtle coherence. This is also how his first CD is organized, presenting pieces by seven composers spanning almost a century of music. But the most important unifying element of this disc is Dante's own musical personality and approach to the piano.
Two poles are important for Dante's playing. On the one hand he is drawn towards the musical discipline of the Cageian tradition and its concern with objectivity in sound. On the other hand, early Romanticism, particularly German song repertoire, is important to him. For many listeners, these poles may seem like opposites. For Dante, however, there is no contradiction. In his playing, precision of technique and conceptual clarity are expressions of a passionate engagement with sounds and their progression as melody. Here, melodic thought reveals the sonic concept and it is the concept that is sung.
For example, Tom Johnson's Tilework for Piano, probably the most austere piece in this collection, is a systematic exploration of the ways in which a fifteen-beat phrase can be covered by a simple rhythmical three-note pattern that appears at five different speeds. Those five layers by themselves have a percussive quality. But in his performance, Dante is more interested in the surprising melodic figures that result from different combinations of the layers, and his articulation and phrasing stress the melodic aspect over the separation of layers.
Likewise, in a seemingly chaotic piece such as John Cage's Etude no. 2, Dante manages to let expressive melody surface suddenly, while giving the piece's complex, anarchic texture a sense of balance and composure. Similarly, the nervous inner motions of Richard Ayres' No. 8 are performed with a concentration that draws us into their expressive detail, and the sudden bursts of pure movement in my own series of Possible World pieces gain in brilliance through Dante's refined articulation. (No. 5, scored for 1 to 4 pianos and allowing for variety in form, is played twice in different versions.) Cage's early Two Pieces, works of great melodic invention, fit Dante's playing naturally.
The other pieces presented here are all based on chords and chord progressions. Here, too, there is much melodic interest, and Dante brings a clear balance to all sounds, making them sing. Jürg Frey's Sam Lazaro Bros turns out to have an almost Schubertian atmosphere, though listening to it I'm equally reminded of 16th-century choral progressions. In John Cage's One, a piece that requires the pianist to carefully organize his phrasing, even the chords themselves already seem to sing at times - particularly some of the louder ones. In Morton Feldman's Last Pieces, there is always a subtle local melodic logic to the progression of seemingly unconnected sounds, which allows Dante to bring great depth to his playing in the ultra soft range.
The program closes with Michael Manion's Music for Solo Piano, dedicated to Dante, which draws its chords out into long, sometimes subtly swinging pulsating moments. Over its extended duration, it goes through no more than about twenty chords that form one long melodic arch, taking over half an hour to get to its surprising and very beautiful final cadence.
Two discs with 17 tracks on each of Beuger whistling, quietly and with a silence and patience of intense concentration emerging from near silence...
"I am well aware of how mushy and subjective this review may read, but for me, from the moment I pressed play on the CD player for the first time on Friday, this music has had a profound, and yet very simple effect on me. Throughout the two pieces there are basically two sounds to be heard. The first is a barely audible, but constant layer of roomtone, presumably where the microphone gain has been brought up. This soft background is perfect for the CD, somehow giving it all a context and just enhancing the human aspects of it all. Then Beuger whistles… softly, always with a slight breathy hiss, never full on piercing notes. The sound resembles little gasps of air forcing their ways through a crack in the door more than anything tonal, though as the score seems to dictate particular notation then there are certainly particular pitches here, just softly, cloudily picked out.
Its the human aspect of it that works so well for me though, and also the fact that it is Antoine whistling here, not anyone else. I say this because the power of this music comes from its direct simplicity, and so hearing the composer pick out what he wants from his score himself and then just performing it, presumably while alone in a room (the score says the whistling should be “whispered very quietly to oneself”) adds to this feeling of directness, and brings a sense of incredible intimacy to the music.
The actual sounds are mostly short lines, roughly three or four seconds in length, spaced apart by silences that aren’t overly long, but leave the listener enough time to contemplate each short burst before absorbing the next. There are also a few little shorter sections which occasionally run through scales, and also hint at bits of melody, but for the most part (as with much of Beuger’s work) there isn’t much in the way of silence here, just a sense of incredible calm and peacefulness. The CD sleeve recommends that the music should be played at very low volume, a suggestion that will always win my approval, but here this is vital. I can’t think of any CD that would be destroyed more by being played at very high volume.
This is music I will return to often at the end of stressful days. It is music I will play when I wish to get off to sleep in a gentlest of manners, but it is also music that I will put on and just sit and listen to quietly, a kind of distillation of musical expression down to this most basic, refined human experience, and so a thoroughly uplifting and inspirational thing, not unlike the birds that can be heard singing every morning here, not unlike the simple beauty that poetry creates when two words are placed beside each other. For me, Keine fernen mehr portrays the very best of humankind, an antidote to the noise, to the chatter of technology, to the anger, to the cruelty that exists in the world today, two CDs that, for me, flood my surroundings with undiluted joy. I have heard so much wonderful music this year, and doubtlessly much of it is technically superior, structurally more complex or conceptually more intriguing to what is presented on these CDs, but nothing, nothing at all at all has had such a deeply moving effect on me as the music here. Utterly magical."
Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear.
John Cage's "Empty Words" (1974) is drawn from the Journals of Henry David Thoreau, written in four parts:
Part I omits sentences, Part II omits phrases, and Part III omits words. Part IV, which omits syllables, leaves us nothing but a virtual lullaby of letters and sounds.
The godfather of Afrobeat and the Finnish funk freak go to town, well Cafe Oto to be exact, on this live recording, featuring Allen using a prototype, drum-triggered Moog to devilish effect
“SEPT 2016. The Moog Sound Lab’s first trip out for a live session at Café Oto’s project & café rooms. Jimi Tenor, finnish futurist, shako & Warp Records confederate, jazzed, funked, far-ra’d out. Tony Allen – original drummer to Fela Kuti – Godfather of the Afro-Beat.
These two titans of the beat strange -fed & watered through the mighty Moog Sound Lab via a prototype future sound systems drum trigger unit built & operated by UK moog minder engineer Mr Finlay Shakespeare. New sound universes emerge, collide.
Explosions & implosions make sonic debris. Cosmic dancers prepare to be run ragged by a feral ‘tronic funk that brings to mind early ‘D.A.F” [Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft].”
Utterly charming Calypso Limonense from Costa Rica by the king of his style, Walter Gavitt Ferguson. Totally remarkable songs salvaged from home-recorded tapes made during the ‘70s and rediscovered in an attic, all awash with background sounds from roosters to road traffic. Folkways fans, this one’s for you!
“99-year-old Walter Gavitt Ferguson from Costa Rica is a humble soul and a living legend, a Calypsonian of mythical proportions. Rooted like an old tree on the caribbean shore, he has never left his home town to look for fame, instead fame did come to look for him. Throughout eight decades, rumours of his musical gifts have attracted people from near and far, contesting Calypsonians, fans, tourists, musicologists, musicians, pilgrims and the President of the Republic. They once even moved a recording studio to his house as he refused to go to the city.
But many years before that, Ferguson used to sell his legendary self recorded cassettes to travellers and music lovers from all around the globe. He never kept a copy for himself and with age started to forget many old compositions. A recently started, international "Tape Hunt" was able to locate 9 such tapes in Canada and rescued 50 of his forgotten songs. Vol.1 of this tropical treasure is now available, resurrected directly from original cassettes of the Calypso King.”
There are few contemporary musicians who have had as much of an impact on us as Mika Vainio, so each new release is always cause for celebration. Whether exploring the grim underbelly of the electric guitar on ‘Life (… It Eats You Up)’ or haunted minimalism in his collaboration with Kevin Drumm and friends on ‘Venexia’, Vainio somehow manages to throw us into a state of awe consistently time and time again.
‘FE3O4 – Magnetite’ manages to uphold this quality but takes a stylistic about turn, exploring the two poles of noise and silence, finding Vainio explore distortion and contrast in a way he hasn’t for many years now. Radio static emerges from almost nothing, sounds appear for a second and are gone and cables are established and removed without warning. This dynamic is offset by Vainio’s well-documented expertise with very loud drones, and the drones we’re treated to on ‘FE3O4’ are louder and more intense than you’re likely to find almost anywhere else. Sub bass tones tear through the silence heralded only by small pops, and wavering, distorted oscillators cut and slice like a lone machete in a dark night.
This is often terrifying music, but thanks to Vainio’s calm hand it never devolves into mere theatrics. Rather the sounds are so well paced and expertly handled that you feel like you are being treated to the work of a pioneer, and someone whose work is a direct descendent of Bernard Parmegiani, Luciano Berio and Throbbing Gristle. Incredible music, and yet another totally unmissable full-length from Mika Vainio.
Awesome 2nd volume of ‘Midnight in Tokyo’ jams, with selector Dubby taking over from Toshiya Kawasaki to pick a diamond-studded set of ‘80s jazz fusion vibes from Japan...
All but the most ardent Japanophiles will be new to the sounds in ‘Midnight in Tokyo Volume 2’, which takes the listener for a personalised cruise around Dubby’s hidden gems, collected over decades and perfectly picked to brief.
To play favourites, the delicious warped slump of ‘Hikobae’ by Genji Sawai is frankly unmissable, as are the glittery glyde of ‘So Long America’ by Yasunori Soryo & Jim Rocks, the slinky tickle of ‘Imagery’ from Katsutoshi Morizono with Bird’s Eye View, and the glam strut of Parachute’s ‘Mystery of Asian Port’.
'Live Knots' presents two immersive live recordings of Oren Ambarchi playing the epic 'Knots' from 'Audience Of One' (Touch, 2012) in Tokyo and Krakow's Unsound Festival.
Captured with alternately intimate and widescreen fidelity, the original elements of cyclonic guitar harmony and quicksilver percussion are twisted different ways across the two performances, exploring and testing every nuance of the track's framework. 'Tokyo Knots' intimately documents their show at SuperDeluxe in March 2013, Ambarchi cautiously stalking Joe Talia's prickling, Dejohnette-esque percussion with viscose bass tone and heady harmonic incense, progressively whipping up a free form storm of buzz-saw guitar attacks and crashing drums, organically resolving to a lean motorik groove flecked with spring reverb.
By contrast, the twice-as-long performance of 'Krakow Knots', featuring Sinfonietta Cracovia led by Eyvind Kang on viola, presents a more expansive reading of the same structure, adding a prelude of sliding string dissonance before swelling against Talia's adroit patter with a burgeoning tension, ratcheting the mid-section squall to blistering barrage of buzz-saw flares and strobing fuzz, before burning out to reveal a captivating resolution of string glissandi swept against Joe Talia and Crys Cole's skittish percussion objects and retching spring reverb. The applause at the end is very well earned.
First ever official reissue of a synth-heavy Nigerian disco diamond, recorded and produced in 1979, known to trade 2nd hand for the price of return flights from UK to Lagos...
“Livingstone Studio present a reissue of Gboyega Adelaja's Colourful Environment, originally released in 1979. Fresh from touring with Hugh Masekela -- The Boy's Doin' It (1975) -- Gboyega Adelaja goes into the lab to drop heavy keyboard science on his Moog and Fender Rhodes. Its Joe Sample meets the Afro funk of BLO. With names like Jake Sollo on guitars, Mike Odumusu (BLO, Osibisa) on bass guitar, and Gasper Lawal on percussion, this is a top quality, Afro funk -- an all-stars affair that shines from the inspired interventions, masterly arrangements to the sublime production.
Adelaja on the period of recording: "I was already following Hugh Masekela when I met him, he was an outstanding musician and I knew of his collaboration with Hedzoleh, that band brought him nearer to many of us, because he was playing authentic African melodies with the Hedzoleh sound which was mostly percussion oriented. Yes I knew about Hugh's music before I met him. In fact when we started playing together, he insisted that I stay with him in our three bedroom apartment, other members of the band had their own apartments, but Hugh and myself shared the same three bedroom apartment".
"We were touring, under Casablanca owned by Neil Boggart, we toured as professional musicians, flying to our gigs. There was a time when we were touring with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic we had two luxury buses deployed for our use. We made many friends where ever we went to play, we met many big and popular musicians who came to watch our shows, the Spinners came to see us in Detroit, we met Wayne Shorter of Weather Report, Freddie Hubbard, we played a gig with Herbie Hancock at the Carnegie Hall New York City, we toured almost all the 50 States of the US."
Despite praise and acclaim throughout his career, Roy Montgomery hates his singing. From his point of view, it’s done out of necessity, when he doesn’t have anyone else around to substitute.
"Roughly one quarter of Montgomery’s epic multi-album 2016 release R M H Q had his singing, and those are his least favorite tracks. Grapefruit has done the best they can to argue that his basso undertones are the center of his appeal throughout his entire body of work, from the first The Pin Group single on Flying Nun in 1981, through his work in Dadamah, Dissolve and on to his legendary ’90s solo releases. However, is it a surprise he jumped at the idea of composing an album for other vocalists? This began as a series of alternate takes of the material on Tropic Of Anodyne, the tracks with vocals off his last release.
That concept morphed into assembling vocalists to sing on new songs, and he conceived instrumental material that would fit each singer. Half of the songs came together, resulting in Suffuse. The album charts a slow progression from those who share similarities with Montgomery’s rumbling vocal technique to those who come at singing differently, with minute contrasts throughout. Haley Fohr (Circuit des Yeux) and Jessica Larrabee (She Keeps Bees) bring the first two tracks, with Katie Von Schleicher following with a raw expression of emotional loss, and the sisters Clementine and Valentine Nixon (Purple Pilgrims) expressing emptiness by stripping away words, weaving their voices together through Montgomery’s elastic webbing.
Julianna Barwick adds drive and nuance to the foamy sonic waves of “Sigma Octantis,” as “Landfall” crashes in slow motion chaos over Liz Harris’s (Grouper) multitracked layers. These compositions generously embrace their guest leaders, and for the first time in his career, Roy Montgomery has made a cogent artistic argument as to why he shouldn’t be singing these songs himself."
The first in a trilogy of vibraphone solo albums by Berlin-based composer Masayoshi Fujita.
"This quietly exquisite album is like a book of illustrations, evoking scenes of natural beauty and poetic poignancy that combines climactic crescendos laced with electronic detail and luxurious melody. Stories is the beginning of Masayoshi’s mission in bringing the vibraphone — a relatively new invention in the history of instruments often kept in the background in orchestras and jazz outfits — into the spotlight.
Having trained as a drummer, Masayoshi began experimenting with the vibraphone, preparing its bars with kitchen foil or beads, playing it with the cello bow or using the other end of the mallets to create a more ambient texture of sound. Focussing on the vibraphone in this way sets Masayoshi apart, dedicating his artistic life to celebrating this fascinating and often under appreciated instrument and making his take on ambient and modern compositional styles a unique one."
Reissue of a forgotten japanese electronic, jazz and new age classic from 1986...
"When the 66-year old artist started to be a professional musician in the 1970’s, he quickly gained success as a versed studio instrumentalist and started to be part of the great modern jazz isao suzuki sextett, where he played with legends like pianist tsuyoshi yamamoto or fusion guitar one-off-a-kind kazumi watanabe. He also was around in the studio when legendary japanese jazz records like “straight ahead” of takao uematsu, “moritato for osada” of jazz singer minami yasuda or “moon stone” of synthesizer, piano and organ wizard mikio masuda been recorded.
In the 1980’s hamase began to slowly drift away from jazz and drowned himself and his musical vision into new-age, ambient and experimental electronic spheres, in which he incorporated his funky meditative way of playing the bass above airy sounds and arrangements. his first solo album “intaglio” was not only a milestone of japanese new-age ambient, it was also fresh sonic journey in jazz that does not sound like jazz at all. now studio mule is happy to announce the re-recording of his gem from 1986, that opens new doors of perception while being not quite at all.
First issued by the japanese label shi zen, the record had a decent success in japan and by some overseas fans of music from the far east. with seven haunting, stylistically hard to pigeonhole compositions hamase drifts around new-age worlds with howling wind sounds, gently bass picking and discreet drums, that sometimes remind the listener on the power of japanese taiko percussions. also, propulsive fourth-world-grooves call the tune and all composition avoid a foreseeable structure. at large his albums seem to be improvised and yet all is deeply composed.
music that works like shuffling through an imaginary sound library full of spiritual deepness, that even spreads in its shaky moments some profound relaxing moods. a true discovery of old music that operates deeply contemporary due to his exploratory spirit and gently played tones. the release marks another highlight in studio mule’s fresh mission to excavate neglected japanese music, that somehow has more to offer in present age, than at the time of his original birth."
Electro-acoustic maestro and noted mastering engineer Stephen Mathieu commits a decade of spellbinding work to ‘Radiance’, collecting 12 album length discs (total: almost 13 hours!) revolving around the concept of stasis, the unfolding of time and sustained frequencies, deep listening, and immersive soundscapes. We've barely touched the sides with this one but, boy, it's a compelling, deeply immersive ride...
Completing Mathieu’s most significant cycle of work in his twenty year oeuvre, ‘Radiance’ operates in a push and pull of reflection and absorption, using heat and light as metaphors for the synaesthetic qualities of sound, and how it is perceived by the listener not just thru ears. The title itself ‘Radiance’ also connotes a vast scale of timelessness, but also one prone to fade away, decay, and its from these polysemous readings that Mathieu draws a remarkable spectrum of interrelated yet variegated compositions.
As ever, Mathieu is effectively dealing with the metaphysics of sound, using an array of electronics and electronic processes to divine new life in old instruments and samples, getting right down to their grain and accentuating their normally imperceptible peculiarities and latent spirits. In a sense he’s tactfully highlighting the lustre of his sounds, brining out their unique qualities for the ear to feel.That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all shiny and seductive. Rather, the pieces’ textures range from blingy to coruscating and every integer inbetween, sharing a feel for and fascination with the infidelity of acoustic, mechanical, and electronic sounds perhaps only comparable with the likes of previous collaborators, Akira Rabelais and the GRM’s Kassel Jaeger, or Leyland Kirby, for example, within the contemporary field.
All 12 albums in the set were individually a year or so in the making, and thusly require patient, committed listening for full comprehension The time we've spent with it so far is enlightening, rendering truly sublime passages and moments in the multi-timbral shimmer of ‘Sea Song I’, and likewise in the tantalising, prickly haze of ‘The Answer VII’’, while the longer pieces naturally give broader room for his ideas to grow, and beautifully so in the likes of his heavy-lidded and keening drone panorama ‘First Consort’, while ‘To Have Elements Exist In Space (GRM Version)’ patiently and exquisitely evokes a state of weightlessness, and, at its longest, the hour long breadth of ‘Feldman’ operates with deeply uncanny, surface level tonal reflections, which, as glib as it may read, recalls to us the magick of looking out a bus window at night, where the internal reflections and external street lights create refractive, illusory dimensions to get totally lost in.
The slow gaze is key to this amazing suite, as it purposefully pulls away from the time-constricted demands of contemporary music consumption to offer a wide, open space where time moves differently and perceptions are readjusted, becoming malleable in the process. It’s not quick fix music, but when applied properly, the results endure.
Belgian composer Ssaliva strips it all back to essentials with poignant ambient pop results
After a string of his filigree detailed works for Ekster, Bepotel and Collapsing Martket in recent years, he’s clearly saved some of his sweetest stuff for Jj funhouse, where he fits very snugly amid the likes of Mittland Och Leo and Milan W.
According to the label, all 11 pieces on ‘Unplugged Vol.1’ were written on a “fake nylon-stringed koto for an imaginary court of internet angels”, and the vibe is effectively a sort of modern ambient chamber music, a flawlessly elegant and refined sound full of fleeting emotive prompts and gently curious melodic gestures that cannily blur distinctions, to our ears at least, between African likembe, Japanese koto and baroque harpsichord within its glassy imaginary space.
Tirzah pursues the slowest-burning soul feels on Devotion, the London-based singer-songwriter’s humbly singular début album, produced by Mica Levi and providing us with total life affirming summer listening - most probably the record we've listened to most this year so far, and one that lingers on and on...
Since her first solo 12”s and thru frequent collaborations with Mica Levi - including the Taz And May Vids  for DDS - Tirzah has quietly blossomed into one of the UK’s most precious and peculiar artists working at the fringes of experimental pop, post-grime and R&B, and Devotion is set to bring her love to a wider audience.
Plaintive and low key, Devotion presents Tirzah’s vocal in the most evocative light, framed by backdrops of bleary-eyed and bent vibes and the kind of half-finished, permanently work-in-progress production style that's become a calling card of her music and her tight knit crew including Coby Sey, Mica Levi and Brother May.
Album of the year? Aye, quite possibly.
Chris Watson divines ghosts in The Moog Sound Lab’s System 55 machines, following in the footsteps of Jamal Moss, Mika Vainio and others on the Blue TB7 series
The eminent sound recordist and erstwhile member of Cabaret Voltaire here shifts his focus from capturing birdsong for David Attenborough to impressionistically document human animals in their natural, urban and industrial environments on ‘Locations, Processed’.
Attuned to the subtleties of everyday listening life, Watson intercepts and reframes sounds from undisclosed locations, almost imperceptibly processing and layering those isolated scenes into a sort of stealthily hypnotic dramaturgy of hyperreal, intra-dimensional scope.
Quite simply, it’s required listening for any and all field recording enthusiasts and industrial dreamers.
Vital collection of vocal versions from three 12”s, plus three new and exclusive pieces, outlining the current, heavyweight Senegalese mbalax of Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force, who’re now five years into their unique streak of stripped down drum, vocal and guitar syncopation. The production on this one is just ridiculous...
Forming a totally logical next step in Mark Ernestus’ pursuit of outernational rhythm & dub sound dimensions, in Yermande he basically channels, edits and diffracts highly complex drum patterns by cracks hot Sabar drummers with floating, earthen vocals in six arrangements that bristle with a discipline and energy which has been deeply preserved and learnt thru the ages; in effect helping to knot the loop of influence between West African drum traditions, Caribbean synthesis and diffusion, and digitised Detroit futurism.
If you’ve kept up with the series so far, then you’ve probably worked out set moves to the remarkable, ricocheting depth charges of Walo Walo and tussling B-line and poised vox of Mbene Diatta Seck on wrestling anthem Lamb Ji, which are both included in their original mixes here along with the sprung tri-step hustle of Yermande (Kick and Bass Mix) whose bouncing dub chords perhaps betray Ernestus’ earliest work strongest.
But, whether you’re new to the project or not, the three new parts are previously unheard; convening a duskier respite in the beautifully breezy prowling space of Simb (which was paradoxically ‘the most difficult one to mix’ according to Mark Ernestus), before Jigeen (meaning ‘Woman’) unfurls the most limber, stepping’ and rollin’ groove that swinges into the filigree hi-hats and grubbing traditional guitar chops of Niguel, last spotted in its deadly Groove mix, now with the calligraphic vocal signature of Mbene Diatta Seck.
Beyond redundant dichotomies of world music as happy/dark or raw/polished, Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force are making music that matters from myriad emotive and physical aspects, relatable to your own rituals and feelings.
Pure Ork fuel from Belgian rave bastard DJ David Goblin a.k.a. David Coquelin, one of the nutters behind the brilliant PRR! PRR! label - close affiliates of Low Jack’s Editions Gravats
Going ham with nobs of new beat, EBM, hardcore techno and gabber, DJ David Goblin has just cooked up one of the maddest CDs that you’ll hear in 2018. It’s unmistakably daft in that suddy, sozzled Benelux style; the type of gear that could feasibly trigger an outbreak of St. Vitus Dance in modern day Brussels.
There’s two shorter cuts that should come in handy with certain DJs, namely the hi-tech folk pounder ‘Squigpipe’ for the Nkisi fans, and the relentless breakcore choppage of ‘Mordor Fuka’, but the main bulk of ‘Ork Muzik’ is two longer, megamix-styled cut-ups; 20 minutes of drunken master swagger and potty rave leads called ‘In The Klub (Goblinized Traks)’, and the mad patchwork of ‘In The Street (Goblinized Traks)’ cutting from bombed out electronics thru early Shackleton, collapsed rave classixxx and fluoro outernational soundsystem styles.
Grade A bangers!
Jürg Frey’s first work for string quartet, composed in 1988 and focussed on perceptions of audibility, here realised by Quator Bozzini in five parts recorded between 1988 and 2000, and originally issued in 2006.
It is worth the admission alone for ’Streichquartett II (1998-2000)’, a spectral 29 minute work with an uncanny presence that feels between worlds, inhabiting a gripping, liminal meta-space of timbral perception where the strings eventually appear to be singing, and we mean genuinely sounding like vocals, although there are none on the recording. It’s beautifully, deeply unsettling and spellbinding music
“"Material can be anonymous. Consider, for example, the middle voices in medieval hymn books: unadorned, not artful, a simple handiwork, a leisurely alternation of single notes. It might be a scale, or, beyond music, the stones of a wall, not artfully stacked, but simply and properly, the formal idea being nothing other than that of a wall.
When I was working on the String Quartet (1988), I encountered the painting of Agnes Martin. I saw clear-cut forms, not overgrown with rhetoric and figuration. Instead, sensuality, radiance and intensity gripped the entire space. There was a kind of visibility to her art, which I felt corresponded to the audibility in my music. Audibility: the moment when sound waves move in space and the air touches the body. The eardrum is the sensory connection between the outside and the inside world: we hear the sound and the composition.
Over the years it became more and more clear to me, that there is no anonymous material - each material has its shape, and as soon as it exists in space and time, it carries a distinct handwriting. Anonymous material is rather an idea that brings the work to a point where concentration on what is essential becomes possible, and allows one to feel that he is starting from zero."
Jürg Frey, translation: Michael Pisaro”
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.
Hot off the heels of the beautiful "Obsolete Machines" [Stage Two] Gatefold LP set just released, Radius's cassette demo restoration project returns to form with the "Interpolation Tapes" series.
"The original source tapes had aged, warped and degraded and as a result we've preserved the best segments, sampled and reprocessed with a vintage prophet 2000 sampler, studio 440 and various Linn samplers to add depth and range to the original source material. We've spent nearly an entire year restoring and interpolating over 100 hours of music, processing sound and redesigning the blueprints of this long forgotten project. Every track was originally recorded down to an old Tascam 688, an 8 track cassette recorder purchased and abused since 1992 and to our ears still sounds quite impressive even by modern standards. Radius's "Interpolation Tapes" (Restoration Two) is the second part in a series of three releases featuring unreleased material culled from the vault of the long out of print Radius project, an ageless analog tapestry of sound.
This release features 8 tracks (2 of which are featured on the beautiful "Obsolete Machines" [Stage Two] vinyl LP), revisited and restored from analog cassette tapes with recordings conducted from 1994-2001 with nothing but analog/digital hardware. The original source tapes had aged, warped and degraded and as a result we've preserved the best segments, sampled and reprocessed them into an entirely new sonic spectrum. It's been a truly nostalgic experience re-visiting and re-arranging these masters, regardless of the time passed, there's so much depth and organic movement, it nearly breathes in slow motion. When considering the limitations of hardware in the era these were recorded, they've truly aged like a fine wine. From our hearts to yours."
Soundtracks For The Blind was intended to be the final studio album by Swans, released as a double disc epic in 1996.
The album finds the band's sound taking various disparate forms, from the droning ambient tones of opener 'Red Velvet Corridor', to the odd pulsing techno of 'Volcano' via more conventional (if that's even a word that can be associated with Swans) song-based recordings.
This is an album that's all over the place in stylistic terms, but given the volume of material, it takes on something of an epic feel, somehow making sense as a single drawn out narrative. The spooky dulcimers of 'Secret Friends' match up with the atmospheric dissonances of 'I Was A Prisoner In Your Skull' and the nerve jangling, haunted house songwriting of 'Her Mouth Is Filed With Honey'.
Steven Hitchell a.k.a Radius transmits his Variant Reworks of ‘Obsolete Machines’, a batch of his earliest, diaphanous dub techno recordings dating back to the mid-late ‘90s
"In celebration of Radius's "Obsolete Machines" [Stage Two] LP edition, Echospace release the variant reworks and redesigns (conducted and compiled over the past 10 years) release. These versions build on the very essence of the originals, but with fathoms-deep layers and subtle tonalities transforming the originals into an ethereal ocean of space and bass. We truly hope you enjoy reliving these magical times of music, very inspired by all that was happening in those years, there was just something in the air, an undeniable energy, long may it live on... "
Another ocean of sound from Steven Hitchell’s CV313 project. 2CD. Over 2 hours of music.
"The furthest depths of sound are awakened in this distinctive sonic environment inspired by ocean movements and its mysteries. Beginning anew, cv313 delivers an etheric approach in, "analogue oceans" that fearlessly illuminates the culmination of 25-years of sound design, a continuous transformation that engages the listener in ways it never has before.
Shimmering metallic washes of color meet sub-aquatic tones, creating an immersive sonic world unlike anything heard before, this is hands down some of most engaging sound worlds this project has ever explored. Engineered, written & produced by cv313. Tape Transfers, digital conversion and mix downs in Echospace. Reworked & Redesigned by Variant. Additional Modular development and concepts by N.S. and S.B @ Antique Modulation, Ann Arbor / Detroit, MI circa 2012-2013. Field recordings conducted in Gamma, Japan & Maui, Hi. This sonic mysticism is the essence of our time.
"The sound of water is deep, its form is serpent-like, its color green, and it is best heard in the roaring of the sea." -The Sufi Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan "
For Cora [R.I.P.] 10/04/2017
This release features 4 epic moments ranging from 12-20 minutes each passage from cv313, where a vintage trident desk, hand crafted analog effects units and a vast array of synthesis sculpted and shaped what would become, "beyond dreams".
"One of the recent highlights of the alchemy edition of cv313's opus, "Dimensional Space", an intergalactic journey into an ocean of analog bliss. These recordings were digitally transferred using Apogee convertors to ensure the integrity of original master tapes were preserved. All four passages have a life force all their own, deep and hypnotic, sonic submersion."
Remastered, expanded edition of Diagram Brothers’ cult 1981 début LP of wiry post-punk eccentricities, recorded in Manchester and including all tracks from their 4 singles.
Diagram Brothers specialise in a tautly angular but rolling sort of post-punk funk peppered with unusual lyrics delivered with daft pomp and gnashing, dissonant vamps. Check for highlights in the guttural but cerebral jerk of ‘Words From Major’, the spindly jag of ‘Isn’t It Interesting How Neutron Bombs Work’, and their killer, dubbed out stepper ‘I Didn’t Get Where I Am Today By Being A Right Git’ from he super rare ‘German EP’. Think a wired and weirder Gang Of Four, a northern English Devo, or the styles of Matt Wand and co’s Stretchmarks!
Killer debut release from FUMU, coughing up 18 sawn-off tracks of fucked hip hop, warehouse and techno on Andrew Lyster’s Youth label. Definitely mark this gadge in your one-to-watch list.
Hailing from downwind of heavy North East industry, but currently sequestered in Manchester, FUMU is a member of the Return to Zero crew and a known affiliate of Modern Love’s Turinn, with whom he’s shared a studio and shares a taste for the most guttural, asphalt-grained dance music and short-circuiting electronics.
On ’Sinuate’ FUMU finally yields a peek at his working praxis, revealing a restlessly roving mind at work consolidating myriad, fractious styles at mutant angles, and in a half-cut and gauzy style that recalls everyone from Mica Levi and co thru to Madteo. It’s the sort of sound that only comes with being an omnivorous listener and hard-headed producer, the kind that pushes his gear to the point of near breakdown in order to bring out its most unique sounds.
If we’re playing favourites, the trilling pendulations and overproof bass of ‘Graeyard’ are right up there, as is the NoYo dembow bleeper ‘In The Darkness Girl’, and the honky boschment of ‘Regulator’, but to be fair there’s f*cking loads to go on, and we’re sure everyone else will have their own percy.
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.
Steve Hauschildt’s grasp of synthesis reaches alchemical, intuitive levels of lushness in ‘Dissolvi’, keening towards a broadly appealing ambient-techno-pop sound without losing the enigmatic, abstract, deep space quality of previous efforts. It’s his finest achievement since striking solo from the influential Emeralds and, quite honestly, isn't a million miles away from late 90's IDM keeprs like Arovane's Atol Scrap. And on we go in circular motion...
“In search of the sublime, contemporary electronic musician Steve Hauschildt has designed grids and panoramas of sound across multiple releases through the rise and dissolution of his former band, Emeralds, an American touchstone of 2000s home-recorded psychedelic noise music. Consistent with his solo work is Hauschildt’s ability to coil his craft in precise, varied, and distinctly physical forms. Gently spinning arpeggios converse with post-industrial decay. Sonic fibers sway like pendulums from static melancholy to motorik bliss. Dissolvi, the artist’s first full-length with Ghostly International, engages sublimation from an ontological perspective: by dissociating the self. Hauschildt steps out from the singular path, for the first time in a traditional studio, to compose and arrange contributions from friends. As a result, his most collaborative work to date extends a vast, vibrating framework in which to consider the state of being.
The album's title — a reference to cupio dissolvi, the Latin phrase meaning "I wish to be dissolved" — needn't be taken one-dimensionally or as purely solipsistic. It does, however, serve an apt reference. Physiological phenomena are of interest to Hauschildt. These back-of-mind ruminations find their way out. Songs are cerebral in orientation, but beyond explanation, the music is truly visceral. Involuntary eye movement inspires the serene, sanguine-nearing-suspicious "Saccade." Hauschildt feathers soft percussion beneath the echoed refrains of Los Angeles musician Julianna Barwick, together shaping a svelte suggestion of the anxieties brought about by modern-day surveillance; if everyone is being watched constantly, there is no individual, no self, only a broadly monitored and clumsily cataloged populous. The work of Chicago poet Carl Sandburg comes to mind: “I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass.” The individual dissolves into the taxonomic crowd.
Minimalist techno impulses provide a stylistic through-line for Dissolvi. Understated synth phrases and drum grooves take hold in selective moments, like synchronistic structures onto which nebulous mists, like the rapturous voice of Gabrielle Herbst aka GABI on "Syncope," cling to and cloud, producing a dazzling rift in consciousness. The 7-minute centerpiece "Alienself" reiterates this creative logic, burbling like an amorphous body of water on a low-gravity planet, on the verge of dissolving, but never fully dematerializing. The album was constructed in Chicago (where Hauschildt now resides) and partially in New York. "Much of it was recorded in a windowless studio which removed elemental or seasonal references to time in the music," says Hauschildt. "The focus this time was on mixing the album and incorporating a broader set of instrumentation. I describe my compositional approach as being quasi-generative." Embracing new methods and philosophical curiosities, and in turn, expanding the range of his repertoire, Hauschildt proposes a fascinating and profoundly rich experience in listening, being, and deliquescing.”
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.”
Richard D James' classic album from 1992, re-pressed countless times but still sounding as vital as it did way back when. Still probably the most uplifting and nostalgic thing in the AFX catalogue...
Best electronic music album of the late 20th century. A proper gateway drug to the myriad microcosms of Richard D. James a.k.a. Aphex Twin. 100% essential in any collection.
Demdike Stare is a long-in-the-making hookup between two shady characters operating at the fringes of Manchester's fragmented music scene: Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty.
Miles has been a longtime affiliate of Modern Love as one half of Pendle Coven and under his own MLZ alias, while Canty is one of the city's most recognisable vinyl collectors, carrying an obsession with everything from obscure Nordic Doom records to Anatolyan funk albums, fuelled by his dayjob helping out at the Finders Keepers label. The project is named after Pendle's most famous witch: Elizabeth Southerns, aka Demdike. The tracks on 'Symbiosis' are drawn from elements of Turkish, Indian, Iranian, African and West Indian film soundtracks alongside Norwegian drone records, classic House templates, punctured dub, modified techno and the arctic noise perfected by Mika Vainio.
Original sources and dense analogue experiments weave around eachother with little care for convention or stylistic expectation, instead throwing the pair's extensive musical knowledge into a set of tracks that, quite brilliantly, defy categorisation. The album opens with 'Suspicious Drone', a dense 6 minute opening that chugs a long like a malfunctioning mechanical beast, honing in on Lancashire's dark industrial landscapes before moving onto more exotic, balmy territory. 'Haxan Dub' (named after the film narrated by william burroughs about witchcraft) deploys fragmented dub echoes infused with displaced horns and African signatures, taking its time with one of the jerkiest rhythms you'll have the pleasure of hearing, before 'Jannisary' tangles in and out of an Iranian hook and a squashed Congolese rhythm that creates an asymmetric, geniusly constructed dancefloor killer.
By the time the album comes to a close with 'Ghostly Hardware' an hour later, the cycle is complete with a return to icy tundras and chugging machinations steeped in the traditions of Scandinavian machine music and pure analogue frequencies, expertly handled by those masterful technicians over at Berlin's Dubplates & Mastering.
4th Album from Andy Stott, a follow-up to 2014’s Faith In Strangers, featuring Fourth World pop variants joining the dots between Haruomi Hosono & Ryuichi Sakamoto, Newworldaquarium, Ruff Sqwad and Theo Parrish...
Too Many Voices is the fourth album from Andy Stott, recorded over the last 18 months and drawing for inspiration from the fourth-world pop of Japan’s Yellow Magic Orchestra as much as it does Triton-fuelled Grime made 25 years later. Somewhere between these two points there’s an oddly aligned vision of the future that seeps through the pores of each of the tracks. It’s a vision of the future as was once imagined; artificial, strange and immaculate.
The album opens with the harmonised, deteriorating pads of the opening Waiting For You and arcs through to the synthetic chamber-pop of the closing title track, referencing Sylvian & Sakamoto’s Bamboo Houses as much as it does the ethereal landscapes of This Mortal Coil and Dead Can Dance. In between, the climate and palette constantly shift, taking in the midnight pop of Butterflies, the humid, breathless House of First Night and the endlessly cascading Forgotten.
Longtime vocal contributor Alison Skidmore features on half the tracks, sometimes augmented by the same simulated materials; voicing the dystopian breakdown on Selfish, at others surrounded by beautiful synth washes, such as on the mercurial Over, or the dreamy, neon-lit New Romantic.
It’s all far removed from the digital synthesis and the abstracted intricacies that define much of the current electronic landscape. The same cybernetic palette is here implanted into more human form; sometimes cold, but more often thrumming with life.
Andy Stott has developed a unique sound since his debut for the Modern Love label back in 2005.
His first demos were heavily influenced by the square-bassline techno variations of Claro Intelecto, a longtime friend, mentor and eventually labelmate and collaborator. His first release, 'Replace' featured a mixture of disciplines that took in elements of Detroit Techno and Chicago House which fast captured peoples imagination with intuitive, warm melodies and fathomless bass weight.
From that point on Stott continued to shift and adapt his sound to take in ever disparate influences, from the driving techno of Dave Clarke's 'Red' series through to Basic Channel, Dubstep, Garage and the minimalism of classic Sahko. His restless shift from traditional Techno blueprints through to the bottom-heavy signatures of dubstep and the steppers arrangements of garage have also placed him at the forefront of the dubstepXtechno hybrid sounds that have started to dominate the electronic music scene in 2008 alongside the likes of Martyn, Peverelist and T++.
This compilation brings together selected tracks dating back to Andy Stott's debut back in 2005 and reaching all the way to his most recent material in 2008 - with none of them ever available on cd until now. Tracks feature here from the 'Replace', 'Ceramics', 'Handle With Care', 'Hostile', "Bad Landing', "Fear Of Heights', 'Massacre' and 'Nervous' EP's and stream through his fascination with deep, almost uncontainable basslines and ever inventive percussive shifts.
An enchanting suite of ‘Early Music’ composed by John Cage and performed by Edwin Alexander Buchholz (accordion) and Joanna Becker (violin), including: ‘Dream’ ; ‘In A Landscape’ ; ‘Six Melodies’ ; and ‘Souvenir’ 
Serving to upend preconceptions of Cage being more valued for his concepts than his music, this set holds some truly magickal sound organisation that requires no prior knowledge of the artist or his ideas in order for it to be enjoyed.
The majority of’Early Music’ was first conceived in the post-WWII years, at a point when Cage had already explored prepared piano techniques and founded a long-running relationship with Merce Cunningham and her dance company, and was beginning to discover an interest in Eastern philosophy that would come to radically impact his music - prompting a change of focus from writing music as a result of composer’s ego, to a form of composition defined by chance and strongly influenced by nature, as summed in Cage’s oft used quite by Ananda Coomaraswamy - ‘The responsibility of the artist is to imitate nature in her manner of operation.”
Those works include the lushly romantic cadence of Buchholz’s Bugari Bayan Anatomic accordion in ‘Dream’ , and the more expansive, wilting melancholy of ‘In a Landscape’  - a version of which was also a highlight of Edition RZ’s ‘Klang Der Wandlungen’  compilation - before Joanna Becker duets on violin with Buchholz in the much breezier segments of ‘Six Melodies’ . For smart contrast, Cage’s ’Souvenir’ , a piece commissioned by the American Guild of Organists, who were looking for something similar to his ‘Dream’ , closes this collection with a sparser arrangement performed again by Buchholz and demonstrating the distance travelled over those 35 years with a captivating, elemental push and pull of harmonic/dissonant forces.
Michael Pisaro’s intently focussed piece, ‘An Unrhymed Chord’ performed and assembled alternately with acoustic and digital methods, respectively, by Greg Stuart and Joseph Kudirka
Greg Stuart’s acoustic percussive realisation is almost static, shimmeringly in-transition, whereas Kudirka’s digital realisation of the same composition is denser and more chaotic, thanks to its source material arriving from some 70 artists, interestingly featuring John Maus among them.
an unrhymed chord is a deceptively simple piece. from the score we see that each performer picks a single sound, sustains this sound for one to fifteen minutes in each half of the piece, and that amplitude is inversely proportional to duration. it does not seem like much in the way of instructions for a piece that lasts just over an hour. however, after I started making a realization I quickly realized how dynamic the situation the piece presents actually is. I had never heard a music quite like it: a continuously shifting harmonic mass where a sound could be clearly present, disappear, and reappear at a later point sounding markedly different. at other times the addition or subtraction of a sound would make a sound that had been present not disappear but bend slightly. all of this is accomplished by the inverse relationship between amplitude and duration, and like an elegant mathematical proof, it simply has to be this way in order to function. for this version I used a wide array of percussion instruments, household items and found objects (metal, stone, clay, ceramic and skin). all of the sounds, of which there are seventy, were made by friction—either by bow, stick or hand.
this version of an unrhymed chord was assembled from sounds supplied as audio files, sent to me by a group of musicians known to michael and myself. the only condition I placed on the contributions was that sounds were to be electronically generated in a non-performative fashion, the goal being to make this not a recording in the traditional sense, but rather a digital realization, designed to be equal in all listening environments, as none of the parts were created in a way dependent on a particular physical space or time. apart from the final mixing done by michael and I, no performers had knowledge of what the others had done. my work consisted of placing sound files in time (usually at times in accordance with very specific clock-timing instructions given by contributors), and setting their volume levels respective to one another. the volume of each part was determined by a mathematical formula suggested by the score, though some levels were changed based on perceived volume by ear.”
Lee Gamble jacks directly into a latent stream of electronic wonder with his dream-like 'Koch' opus for PAN.
Running to 76 minutes over 16 tracks, it's Gamble's most substantial and arguably definitive work, following the beautifully effective 'Diversions 1994-1996' and 'Dutch Tvashar Plumes' releases for PAN in 2012. Where those records deconstructed the elusive, enigmatic timbre of '90s electronic dance music - jungle, techno, ambient - 'Koch' (pron. 'Cotch' - UK slang for relax) is a sort of 'Pataphysical reflection and projection of what lies beyond; a symbolic, imaginary solution to what could be perceived as a dearth of "soul" in modern electronic dance music, searching for a feeling that's all too often forgotten in current styles. And quite crucially, 'Koch' provides considered answers from a singular, if ever-shifting perspective, at once uncannily detached yet incredibly intimate, with the acute ability to recalibrate the mind's lense between abstract dimensions.
To pick individual tracks apart would be beside the point. The album works as a wormhole, or perhaps how we've come to imagine what a wormhole is from VR representations in movies, TV, and computer games - seeming to dissolve us between first and third person narratives, club and home listening environments, and the fleeting waves of emotion (narcotised or not) which perfuse and colour the hallucinatory spaces between. It's a very timely reminder of electronic music's efficacy in expressing the alien and a contemporary "otherness", and comes with a huge recommendation for immersive heads and dancefloor freaks alike.
The desire to discover and delve into new and unexplored areas of music has turned attention on the Japanese jazz scene of the 1970s, often regarded as its gilded age.
"The recent compilation J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969-1984 threw much needed light on this fascinating era and presented a range of artists and music that surprised and delighted all who heard it. A key track on the compilation was one of the rarest and least known: Dead Letter by the Tohru Aizawa Quartet, taken from an album that was so elusive, some pondered whether it even existed.
The album, Tachibana, was recored in 1975 and, until included on the J Jazz compilation, was unknown except to a small group of obsessive Japanese jazz collectors. The privately pressed record was the only album made by the Quartet, four amateur musicians who were university students at the time. The session was financed by a local businessman, Ikujiroh Tachibana, who pressed up a few hundred copies to use as a business card. In the intervening 40 odd years since its recording, few copies have surfaced, making it an in-demand yet elusive artefact from the golden age of Japanese jazz. BBE Records are honoured to present a fully authorised reissue of this holy grail, licensed directly from the band themselves.
Tachibana has all the necessary components of a cult album: pressed in small numbers, a few mysterious and vague details about its origins, languishing in obscurity for decades and, above all, superb musical craftsmanship and skill. It can now be enjoyed by a new audience around the world. The album opens with the dynamic percussion workout Philosopher’s Stone written by the then law-student and drummer Tetsuya Morimura. It propels along with the band at full pelt, showcasing Morimura’s well-developed drumming style. For a teenage amateur player to compose and perform such an accomplished and impressive piece is a testament to the talent that the band contained. Philosopher’s Stone is followed by Sacrament, an epic modal composition by saxophonist Kiyochiro Morimura that fans of Wayne Shorter, Pharaoh Sanders and late-era John Coltrane will appreciate. After an extended intro the band drop into a heavy, churning groove, Morimura’s saxophone scorching above the volcanic rhythm section. Dead Letter, written by Aizawa himself, is an epic piano led symphony of spiritual jazz. Think McCoy Tyner at his imperial finest and you’ll get a favour: impact, emotion and power all suffuse to create a overwhelming experience. Amazingly, this is still the only Aizawa composition yet to be recorded.
The Tachibana album also includes two cover versions, both Latin favoured numbers delivered with élan and brio: La Fiesta by Chick Corea and the classic Samba de Orfeu by Luiz Bonfá. So, just five tracks in total, the sole existing evidence of an astonishing band, the Tohru Aizawa Quartet."
David Holmes channels Angelo Badalamenti in fine style...
“50 minutes of new, original music from David Holmes soundtracking Steven Soderbergh’s six part tale of passion, intrigue and deception.
Initially released as an interactive app in which the viewer directed the narrative - Mosaic is a six-part HBO series conceived and directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Sharon Stone. Mosaic is a twisting tale of passion, intrigue and deception focusing on the disappearance of a high-profile resident of picturesque Summit, Utah and the four-year effort by law- enforcement and civilians to discover the truth behind the crime.
With that in mind, Mosaic’s original soundtrack weaves as intriguing a tale. Recorded between Belfast and Los Angeles by Holmes, the album features a modern-day Wrecking Crew of musicians. Echoes of Maestro Morricone abound alongside the influence of avant-garde pioneers and Holmes' current soundtrack contemporaries in a selection of deep listening tracks.
To quote Mark Kermode, 'Mosaic' outlines Holmes’ expertise at “ratcheting up the tension” with strings, horns and synthesizers swelling throughout. As this tension peaks there is inevitable release - in rhythmic and harmonic tracks such as ‘What I Want Is The Red Room’ and Badalamenti-esque lounge eeriness in the likes of ‘Four Years Later’ - guiding the 20 cues presented on this release into a cohesive, full and nuanced album that reveals subtle and rewarding intricacies on each repeated listen. ‘Mosaic’ once again outlines Holmes as a modern master of the original soundtrack.”
Following on from his works Stories and Apologues, Berlin-based composer and vibraphonist Masayoshi Fujita returns with his new album Book of Life, the third instalment in a trilogy of solo vibraphone recordings.
"With Book of Life Masayoshi continues his mission in bringing the vibraphone — a relatively new invention in the history of instruments often kept in the background in orchestras and jazz outfits — into the spotlight. Having trained as a drummer, Masayoshi began experimenting with the vibraphone, preparing its bars with kitchen foil or beads, playing it with the cello bow such as in Fog or using the other end of the mallets to create a more ambient texture of sound, as with the title track. Focussing on the vibraphone in this way sets Masayoshi apart, dedicating his artistic life to celebrating this fascinating and often underappreciated instrument and making his take on ambient and modern compositional styles a unique one.
“I think the vibraphone is capable of more interesting and beautiful sounds that haven’t been heard before. It’s quite a new instrument but it’s often played in a similar way. I feel that there is a lot more to explore with this exciting instrument.”
Book of Life sees Masayoshi expand on his compositional skills, bringing in more orchestral elements such as strings, brass and even a choir to interact with the vibraphone. And not just any choir — members of this chorus include musical friends Peter Broderick, Hatis Noit, David Allred and Shards who featured on Nils Frahm’s latest album All Melody. The instruments come to represent characters in Masayoshi’s stories, hinted at in each accompanying text contained in the album booklet, which Masayoshi recites at his live performances. They set the scene for each piece, for example “the choir in Misty Avalanche is meant to resemble the blizzard, while the vibraphone is the bird hovering above,” he explains.
The title track however, was unusual from the start; “Book Of Life is very different to my other songs. It was about humans, whereas the other songs are all about animals and nature. And it was improvised initially, whereas normally my songs are composed and planned. This one was free. I scratched the vibraphone bar as if I was writing something. An image connected in my mind: these two people meeting and sharing their lives. This image was the book of life.”
The upbeat lead single It’s Magical features two cellos and a flute as extensions of the vibraphone; “like a man who’s put artificial wings on his arms to attempt to fly like a bird, before an airplane was invented,” says Masayoshi. A different version of the song, called Spaceship Magical, also appears on the Erased Tapes 10th anniversary box set 1+1=X. “Like most of my songs, It’s Magical started from one simple phrase that I’d played again and again. But at one point I had two very different versions; one acoustic with orchestral arrangement, whilst the other had distorted guitars with electronic bass that perfectly suited the collaborative nature of the label residency when Robert invited me to participate.”
Sextet is the second studio album by Manchester postpunk funk group A Certain Ratio, originally released by Factory Records in January 1982.
Self-produced at Revolution Studio, Sextet saw the original Ratio quintet of Donald Johnson, Jeremy Kerr, Martin Moscrop, Simon Topping and Peter Terrell joined by co-vocalist Martha 'Tili' Tilson. Written and recorded following a transformative sojourn in New York at the end of 1980, the album reflects Latin, samba and even jazz influences (eg Skipscada; Day One), while still retaining Ratio's signature brittle funk textures, heard in full effect on Lucinda, Gum and trancelike floor filler Knife Slits Water.
ACR’s most recent album dished up for a 10th anniversary reissue
“Mind Made Up is a 2009 album by iconic postpunk outfit A Certain Ratio, their 15th long player since debuting on Factory Records in 1979.
Produced by the band in Manchester between 2006 and 2009, it marked a return to hard-edged funky form. "The songs are timeless and true to ACR's roots," says drummer Donald Johnson. "The emphasis was placed on keeping it simple in the studio. Trickery was kept to a minimum and we never took more than three takes on any track." "Most songs we jammed in a rehearsal one week and recorded the next," adds guitarist Martin Moscrop.
"We didn't rehearse them too much so that they were rough round the edges. And the lyrics are some of the best Jez has ever produced. You'll also hear old ACR influences throughout the album. Teri was actually the first song ACR ever wrote, but it has never been recorded or released until now."
For Mind Made Up the band line-up comprised Jeremy Kerr (vocals, bass), Denise Johnson (vocals), Martin Moscrop (guitar), Donald Johnson (drums), Tony Quigley (keys, sax) and Liam Mullen (keys).”
Change The Station (1986) – An abstract album that sees A Certain Ratio bring the funk to laid back ambience in a way that only they could.
"The party is still there and it’s more hypnotic than ever.”
One of the last, genuinely great, unsung artists of 20th century composition, Roland Kayn (1933 - 2011) - a sometime member of Gruppo Di Improvvazione Nuova Consonanza and the pioneer of what he termed Cybernetic Music - made some of the most breathtaking, intrepidly advanced electronic music ever recorded. The 14 hour expanse of A Little Electronic Milky Way is Kayn’s late major opus and forms a stargate-like introduction to his modular macrocosm, a place where many ideas of C.20th composition, from serialism to jazz and artificial intelligence, collapse into bewildering harmonic, metric and timbral structures practically unprecedented within his field. And mark our words, that’s not hyperbole: this is proper Enter The Void music.
A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound is Kayn’s first, posthumous release since Multiplex Sound-Art  and forms a staggering summation of his concept and aesthetic, which was first hatched when a series of 1950s broadcasts from WDR in Cologne named The Sound of Electronic Music prompted the then 20 year old artist to think that “a composer, like a painter, could realise his work without the help of other people. That he can handle the material directly and creatively edit it”.
He subsequently completed his studies as an organist (later applied to his work beside Egisto Macchi and Ennio Morricone in Gruppo Di Improvvazione Nuova Consonanza) and farther developed his concept of electronic music under the tutelage of Boris Blacher, Josef Rufer, Fritz Winkel and Oskar Sala (seminal composer of FX for classic Hitchcock flicks) in Berlin, grounding a sound which would come to pre-echo mankind’s push toward a form of AI, and serve to touch the very limits of human-machine imagination and perception.
A few years ago we were left reeling from a chance encounter with Kayn’s work, ironically enough offered up by YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, which pretty much turned our listening lives upside-down and inside-out. A keen investigation of Kayn’s composition ensued, which only confirmed our initial thoughts: this guy is light years out on his path; and how on earth is his music not better known?! We clearly weren’t the only ones to think so, and, now following their re-mantling of downtown legend, Julius Eastman, Frozen Reeds have grasped that task with both hands on this mind-expanding new release.
A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound effectively charts all aspects of Kayn’s unfathomable, algorithmically weft sound c. the era of his early boxsets Simultan, Makro, Infra and Tektra - from pineal-smudges and clouds of harmonic colour to fractured staccato pulses and keening, outer space dynamics usually only witnessed by Gods or astronauts. Mercurial by definition, elusive in nature, but gargantuan in scope and scale, it sounds as much like the inexplicable abstraction of a half-recalled, formative fever dream as your first K-Hole experience or some transmission from another galaxy, most effectively representing or emulating a sound which exists in our shared cultural imagination, but which has never before been generated, realised quite so vividly, and yet intangibly.
The implications of this sound are multitudinous. On the most fundamental level, he comes as close or closer, and earlier than any other composer to letting his machines speak their own language - and effectively years before Autechre, Keith Fullerton Whitman, the CCRU or Eno probed this same area. On another, connected level, his realisation of atemporal, atonal depth of field and mutably dissolved metrics can be said to consolidate myriad musical forms in a way that’s hardly been bettered (perhaps because so few knew of his examples), hinting at an atomic universality of all things that perhaps even transcends consciousness and gives a fascinating shape and formlessness to some of the C.20th’s most important ideas about AI and that old chestnut; where to next?
The fact that Roland Kayn did all this before most of us were even born, and he and his work still remains sorely unsung, is as humbling as it is frustrating. Kayn’s recordings described the future in prophetic terms and pretty much reset the last quarter of the C.20th in our books, making much extreme electronic music recorded during the interim seem pedestrian by comparison, and likewise makes a lot of deep space ambient seem like a kid’s picture book compared to his Hubble-scoped deep field projections.
Even more so now, in the age of everything at a touch and reams of modular explorers, Kayn’s music formidably generates a genuine, synaesthetically enhanced feeling of the unknown that’s sadly all too rare in modern electronic music, despite being the thing that probably attracted many of us to its putative charms in the first place.
We recommend serious time away from the laptop/desktop and getting right inside Kayn’s matrix, if only at the risk of coming out looking like Niander Wallace days later.
Alessandro Cortini returns with the third and final album from his SONOIO project...
“Prior to releasing a string of influential and widely acclaimed solo records under his own name on labels such as Important and Hospital Productions, Alessandro Cortini (Nine Inch Nails) self-released two albums under the name SONOIO (“It’s Me.”) in 2010 and 2011 in limited runs.
Praised for their complex and rich pop sound, strong vocal delivery and thoughtful compositions with impeccable production values, SONOIO’s “Red” and “Blue” (and the accompanying remix albums “Non Red” and “Non Blue”) made heavy use of Cortini’s expert manipulation of the Buchla synthesizer, releasing the single “Enough”, and remixing Ladytron’s “Houdini” before setting off on tour in direct support.
As activity with Nine Inch Nails, the demands of touring, and his other solo endeavors began to pick up, production on the third and final SONOIO installment was delayed. In 2014 however, after years of silence, SONOIO posted the single and video for the song “Thanks For Calling” exclusively on sonoio.org and quickly reignited rumors and hope for the release of the third album.
Opening track “I Don’t Know” and the mournful follow-up “Left” set the stage for the emotional ride, with reverbed synths over an acute mid-tempo beat – accompanied by astonishingly strong vocals, which those accustomed to Cortini’s instrumental works will likely be happily shocked by. Next, the aforementioned single “Thanks For Calling” starts slow, building over 4 minutes with Cortini whispering, speaking, building strength into the gorgeously delivered line: “falling to pieces” before the track explodes into a driving anthem.
The album then quite literally descends into “Pieces”, an instrumental effort that brings to mind Aphex’s Ambient Works – a submerged lullaby of electronics before re-emerging into “Vitamin D”, an energetic and pulsing track that snaps the listener to attention. A pattern of smart and intentional pacing and rhythm becomes apparent, as the listener is taken down through moody, effective dirges (“Bad Habit”, “Under The Sea”) and lifted up into a surprising guitar piece “What’s Before”. “I Don’t Know (Coda)” is the album’s effective and final track, with Cortini’s vocals muffled and echoing “I’m in the mirror, let me in….” before emerging loud and clear above a wash of howling synth*
Personal, layered and complex, “Fine” achieves greatness as both a singular example of deep and inspiring pop music, and as the final album – the closing chapter in the story of SONOIO.”