First solo album in 5 years, recorded, produced and written by Richard H. Kirk, founding member of Cabaret Voltaire, the album was constructed at Western Works, Sheffield, over a three-year period.
"Work began with recording on midi and analogue synthesisers before guitar and vocals (Kirk’s first use of vocals in 10 years) were added. Kirk explains, “A lot of time was spent on post-production, editing and then living with the material and I think it benefited from stepping back and then revisiting after doing other things.”
Although not an overtly political album, it’s hard not to hear a reaction to recent years’ world events in the overwhelming urgency of ‘Nuclear Cloud’ or ‘20 Block Lockdown’ or in ‘New Lucifer / The Truth Is Bad’. When questioned Kirk admits, “It’s not really a political album, but over recent years – during the recording – all manner of horrorshow events have cropped up and now we seem to be in a rerun of the Cold War with Russia back as the Bogeyman.” The album’s title, Dasein (a German word meaning “being there” or “presence”, often translated into English as “existence”), is a fundamental concept in existentialism.
Kirk explains “culture succumbs to nostalgia in much the same way that an individual looks back wistfully to adolescence or childhood - the nostalgia is partly for a time when he or she wasn’t nostalgic, just lived purely IN THE NOW.” In 2014, during the recording period, Kirk began work on Cabaret Voltaire live and so the two projects coexisted in tandem. Although Kirk’s varied projects have always existed separate to one another, says Kirk, “in the past some solo works served as a blueprint for what I did later with Cabaret Voltaire”.
Billed as a performance consisting solely of machines, multi-screen projections and Richard H. Kirk, Cabaret Voltaire recently announced the first UK performance in over 20 years at the Devil’s Arse Cave (aka Peak Cavern) in Castleton, Derbyshire on Saturday 29 April. Kirk will perform entirely new material for a performance relevant to the 21st Century with no nostalgia."
Matador Records present Algiers’ second album, ‘The Underside Of Power’, recorded largely in Bristol and produced by Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Ali Chant and mixed by Randall Dunn (Sunn O)))), with post-production by Ben Greenberg (The Men, Hubble, Uniform).
"Touchstones on the uncompromising and impassioned album run from Southern rap to Northern soul, gospel to IDM, industrial to grime to Italo.
More pertinent than ever before, ‘The Underside Of Power’ follows Algiers’ 2015 eponymous debut which received praise from the NY Times, Pitchfork, The Quietus and others.
The record touches on oppression, police brutality, dystopia and hegemonic power structures. Its fiery lyrics encompass TS Eliot, the Old Testament, The New Jim Crow, Tamir Rice and Hannah Arendt, while carried by soulful and visceral songs, meditative moments and personal reflection. Now a four-piece, with the addition of Bloc Party founding member Matt Tong on drums."
Discwoman co-founder Emma Olsen aka Umfang makes strong moves with the raw, etheric techno fundamentalisms in Symbolic Use Of Light; the Brooklyn-based artist’s 3rd album and first for Technicolor, placing her in good company amidst the label’s roster of Peggy Gou, Jay Daniel, Hieroglyphic Being a.o.
Across Symbolic Use of Light she weaves and delineates her sound in two distinct strands, teasing oscillating piquant, weightless arpeggios in Full 1, the frothier pulse of Path, and the hazy, levitating organ tones of Full 2, whilst merging those strands with variously graded degrees of techno pressure elsewhere, at best in the pensile pulses of Weight, with the power dome slammer, Where Is She, and a light-headed touch in the spare dimensions of Pop and the shimmering Wingless Victory.
Rescued from defunct formats, prised from dark cupboards and brought to light after two decades in cold storage…
"OKNOTOK features the original OK COMPUTER twelve track album, eight B-sides, and the Radiohead completist’s dream: “I Promise,” “Lift,” and “Man Of War.” The original studio recordings of these three previously unreleased and long sought after OK COMPUTER era tracks finally receive their first official issue on OKNOTOK.
All material on OKNOTOK is newly remastered from the original analogue tapes."
Crash Ensemble perform a wide breadth of contemporary music from the work of Steve Reich and Philip Glass to upand- coming younger Irish composers.
"Crash Ensemble are also known to perform with contemporary indie rock and pop artists such as Sam Amidon, Lisa Hannigan, Adrian Crowley, Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) and many more. As well as this, Crash Ensemble have worked extensively in the fields of contemporary opera and have recently started working with theatre.
This release is an album of four pieces specifically written / arranged for the group by some of the leading and most exciting contemporary composers of the day - Nico Muhly (USA), Donnacha Dennehy (IRE) and Valgeir Sigurðsson (ICE). It is a document of a lot of what Crash Ensemble have performed over the recent past and is a taste of what is to come from the group.
Crash Ensemble are a group that would appeal to fans of new, adventurous music played with energy and originality. Examples of composers frequently performed include Steve Reich, Andrew Hamilton, Linda Buckley, Bryce Dessner, Donnacha Dennehy, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Nico Muhly, David Lang and Deirdre Gribbin."
Subtext offer an engrossing study of the Davul drum, improvised with personalised, extended technique by Turkish artist Cevdet Erek and recorded in Berlin. While common to many cultures across the middle east and Europe, we’d wager few have heard the davul sound quite like it does on this record, where it’s turned into a bewildering and fluidly disciplined display of low end rumbles, scrapes and rimshots in uniquely expressive rhythms.
Davul proceeds Erek’s Frenzy (OST) for Subtext with a broader, more in-depth exploration of the drum’s myriad voices presented with no overdubs or edits, effectively using a finely skilled approach - honed in private over a number of years - to document the instrument’s rawest character traits, and, by turns, revealing some of its most uncharacteristic potentials.
The results recall a broad set of reference points, with opener Heal sounding like Colin Stetson jamming on a single note with First Nation peoples, whereas Prepare sounds out like some caveman dancehall (actually reminds us of when the sound cut out at an Equiknoxx show and folk beat the a rhythm for Shanique on the walls), whilst on Kirast he makes it sound like a detuned Balafon prepped for war, and Dicycles could almost be the sound of a knackered tractor engine failing to properly combust.
The results make for an intense listen and form Erek’s purest statement of intent to date; a exhaustively fascinating and intimate experience.
In 2010, Brunhild Ferrari decided to make public some of Luc Ferrari's original sound archives by offering a selected collection of recordings to other composers who may wish to use the material for the creation of original musical works.
"Her desire was to open this sonic treasure to other artists without wanting to impose any aesthetic direction on them, and with the only purpose of encouraging new artistic inventiveness. This edition presents the "Presque Rien Prize" winners and other selected works of the first three biennial contests, the most recent contest having taken place in December 2015.
Each of the competitions has been concluded by a concert including the winning and other selected works of the competition. While 109 new works were submitted to the three initial editions, Association Presque Rien are delighted to keep receiving many other works from over the world for the forthcoming competitions.
Features the following performers, listed by year: CD 1 - 2011 edition: John Palmer (winner), Elsa Justel (mention), Daniel Blinkhorn (mention), DinaBird and J. P. Renoult; CD 2 - 2013 edition: Bryan Jacobs (winner), Ayako Sato (mention), James Andean (mention), Masashi Isai, Andrea Belfi, Donia Jourabchi, Takuma Kuragaki; CD 3 - 2015 edition: Hideki Umezawa (winner), Lisandro Barbato (mention), Johannes S. Sistermanns (mention), Manfredi Clemente, Manuella Blackburn, Laurence Bouckaert, Dimitris Maronidis, Yingzi Li."
Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis are in fine voice on their summer-ready 5th LP of psychedelic dub-pop
“Peaking Lights’ 5th album titled, "The Fifth State Of Consciousness", is a double LP produced in Peaking Lights’ Dreamfuzz studio over the last two years. It’s both a departure from the new and a return to the old with a whole new twist on the psychedelic dub-pop they’ve become know for. The Fifth State Of Consciousness is an exciting listening experience invoking a story of overcoming the shadow to rise above and painted with otherworldly sounds. It’s a 12 song 2 Disc nearly 80 minute journey, where the album takes precedence over the single. Each of the 12 songs is a story and together form the larger narrative that is the album as a whole. Thru all its peaks and valleys the larger arc of themes within The Fifth State are about dreams, loss of innocence, strength and seeking an enlightened state of being after trials and tribulations.
Sonically the double album shifts through many states from beginning to end, resonating deep, like a drive thru foreign landscapes where you’re glued to the window as everything slowly changes around you. The flow and pacing of songs has a sense of wonderment and each time you play it there’s a whole new batch of lovely sounds and eccentricities within each of the players. While bringing together their love of Psychedelic music, House, Electronic and Reggae each song manages to live it’s own life and yet still there is some magical thread that binds them together.
Produced by Aaron Coyes, the whole creative process was filled with nerdy gadgetry, playful experimentation and deep alchemical soul searching for a musical medicine. Aaron describes Dreamfuzz as “a small junkyard with many happy mistakes”. Using tape machines, writing melodies backwards then playing them in reverse, layering sound upon sound to create “pads”, literally breaking electronics to get sounds, and a strict motto of “anything goes, pure creativity”. Most sounds were run thru Peaking Lights’ 1976 16/8 Soundcraft Series Two mixing console (the same type of board used by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry at Black Ark, and at the infamous Cargo Studios where many of the early Factory Records bands were recorded) to add some “mojo”. It’s an album that is sure to be a creeper even if you don’t fall in love on the first date.”
“In the summer of 2015, A L'ARME! Festival invited Konstrukt to perform with William Parker and Holiday Records teamed up with Matt Bordin of Outside Inside Studio to invite the quartet to play two shows in Italy on their way to Berlin. Plans overlapped leaving two days off spent playing with no interruption at Matt's studio in Montebelluna, capturing four incredible tracks. Now, Konstrukt are well known for their many collaborations with key players and real giants of worldwide jazz scene, but - once again - having the chance to listen to the music they produce when they play "by their own" is something special. Their tribute to the past is paid with every single tune they play, but these recordings are something that can only be described as "new music”.”
Max Richter initiates Rough Trade’s Behind The Counter… series of mixtape/compilations with a smart survey of his tastes drawn from the records Rough Trade sell on the shop floor.
As you might hope for, or expect, its a refined mixture of canonical classics, post rock and contemporary electronic composition, ranging from pieces by Charles Ives, Lucio Berio and Rachmaninov, respectively, to work by Low, GY!BE and Mogwai, and the likes of Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada.
Legit reissue taken from analogue masters, Coil's sorely coveted Astral Disaster (1998) for Gary Ramon’s Prescription (UK) is returned to circulation on its original format. 2nd hand copies now trade for at least a K, just sayin’…
At the behest of Ramon - who is absorbed into a line-up revolving Jhon Balance, Peter Christopherson, Drew McDowall, and Thighpaulsandra - over two days at Samhain 1998, Coil descended into the bowels of his Sun Dial studios, surrounded by manacles and chains under the level of the River Thames in the Ancient Borough of Southwark, to commit what would become one of their most possessing sides.
Astral Disaster was the result: two correlating hemispheres channelling, meditative, eastern raga drone with sage-like poetry and electro-acoustic phantasmagorias, projecting a plasmic miasma of pharmaceutical shimmer and surreality that’s pretty much arch Coil.
If there’s any one big reason you need it, though, that would be the amazing B-side, The Mothership and The Fatherland, framing creaking wooden drums and the gibber-chin shivers of swarming, translucent studio duppies in a diaphanous soundfield of freefall ambient atmospheres - basically the sound of ketamine in the ‘90s.
Makes us want to melt. Massive recommendation!
Enchanting debut release of diaristic, biographical reflections on space, place and time from Irving Park, presenting a subtly personalised suite of spectral piano pieces, ambient electronics and disembodied vocals that distill elusive sensations into tangibly haunting musical studies.
Humbly treading in the footsteps of like-minded projects from the Cotton Goods camp or the most wistful Richard Skelton releases, 5 2 1 offers a relatably warm and inviting suite of compositions operating with a feeling of gauzy detachment that suggests sequestered, subjective journeys of discovery.
The nine pieces fall over three discs, with each part framing his perfume-like piano meditations against the ephemeral rustle and hum of location recordings that suffuse and link his pieces like with the naturalistic nuance of moss or drizzle, balancing his personalised magick with a sense of the ordinary and everyday.
In the process the music takes on a beautifully shy or even coy quality, leaving a crumb trail of nudges and suggestively glimpsed signposts for navigation, encouraging the listener to take the enclosed map and the music as loose guides for your mental ramble between the grey day cafe ambience of 351 Indian Trail, Rockton IL and the quietly blistering resolution of Home, which almost feels like chilblains after a soggy but very satisfying mooch across country.
A gorgeous package.
Beguiling digital composition from London/Berlin’s Adam Asnan, forming a “continuation of the ideas and methods developed in Mythcigc I: a collection of music utilising readymade FM synthesis and digital reverbs from he late ‘80s, mid-‘90s and the present day.” Basically a strong look for fans of Theo Burt, Dale Cornish, Ilpo Väisänen or even that ||| ||| record…
With the stark tang of his Rev Sets still resonating from 2016, Asnan explores more fleshed out soundfields in Mythcigc - II, filling the cold spaces found between the notes of Rev Sets with a recursive moiré lattice of colourfully reactive rhythms and more expressive tonal cadence - the sort of stuff that can light up the grey matter between your ears like an electrical grid control board.
It all lends the album a much more humanistic, emotive touch than what we’ve previously heard from Asnan, which admittedly isn’t a lot, but enough to highlight the contrasting touch which bely Mythcigc - II’s (ostensibly) brutalist structures. There’s a certain chamber-like elegance to the pinched tones that teeter around the pickled chromatic plongs of II.1 and right thru to the more somnambulant, SAW-like tone of II.7 at its close, finding him working with a pizzicato balletic lightness in II.2 or like Hecker imitating the flight of a bumblebee in II.3, whereas ii.4 firms up as a pulsating adjunct to EVOL’s mentasm orgies and II.6 seems to split the difference between dancehall and gamelan practice with an intent appreciation of their shimmering commonalities and fluid punctuation.
Considered by the band as their most fully realized statement, The Floating World is a snapshot of the last chapter of Wet Hair's tenure as central players in the Midwestern DIY experimental music scene.
"Wet Hair finished the year long writing and recording process fresh off an eventful West Coast tour with Merchandise right before all three members of the band decided to part ways with their longtime residence in Iowa City. The tracks were recorded and mixed at Flat Black Studios in Iowa City and were mastered by Carl Saff. Reed finished the striking jacket artwork in early 2017 -- a collage reflecting on the Japanese concept of ukiyo ("The Floating World") as it relates to a feeling of American suburban emptiness and longing.
The Floating World is a kinetic collection of seven tracks that represent Wet Hair's most exciting, melodic and beautifully produced effort. On their follow up to Spill Into Atmosphere, Wet Hair revitalized their hybrid psych / krautrock / synth pop sound, masterfully working shimmering synth swells and fiery drum and bass grooves into pointed explorations of growth and texture. Working in a style that has traditionally drawn excitement from long sonic build-ups, Wet Hair keenly sculpt these jams so the electric musicality only highlights the pop vocal leads. Tracks like “Dear Danae” and “Revealing” revel in their allusion to noise-pop, offering up simple, ear worm melodies that shine in the frantic orchestration. “Endless Procession,” the record’s 8-minute long jaunt works through a haze of twittering synths toward the ultimate goal of full-blown catharsis and ensuing decay. Meanwhile, cuts like “Through The Night” and “Lift The Stone” show off Wet Hair’s rock-solid rhythm section as they syncopate and shred support for crunchy synth melodies.”
Grippingly dense and roiling collaboration between improv god Keiji Haino and and a rupturing Belgian rhythm section. Flashes of curdled baroque, avant-jazz scuttle, rock rage and primitive electronics. Recorded, mastered and mixed in Tokyo by Joe Talia between 2015-2016.
“Japanese legend, Keiji Haino, meets two of Belgium's most active and valued musicians, keyboardist Jozef Dumoulin (Lilly Joel) and drummer Teun Verbruggen (Othin Spake). The Miracles Of Only One Thing is a deep and intense testimony of this meeting. Keiji Haino, without any doubt one of the most important musicians from the Japanese underground scene, is at his best, Teun Verbruggen and Jozef Dumoulin did a three-week tour in Japan in September of 2015, playing concerts as a duet, but also solo and with local musicians.
One of those musicians was hero Keiji Haino, whose work has spanned rock, free improvisation, noise, percussion, psychedelic music, minimalism and drones. Besides his legendary bands Fushitsusha and Lost Aaraaff, he has worked with artists and bands like Boris, The Melvins, Jim O'Rourke, Oren Ambarchi, Peter Brötzmann and Steve Noble. As for Dumoulin and Verbruggen, they are both known for their always refreshing and groundbreaking work that breaks the barriers between free improvisation, electro, jazz and more. Jozef Dumoulin is part of the duo Lilly Joel appearing recently on Sub Rosa with What Lies in the Sea (SR 416CD, 2015). The three teamed up for a studio recording and a recorded live-show.
Out of all the material, they distilled an album that reflects both the excitement of the new bond as well as the deep and vast sonic landscapes that their joined forces laid bare. Personnel: Keiji Haino - guitar, vocals, flute, gongs; Jozef Dumoulin - Fender Rhodes; Teun Verbruggen - drums, electronics.”
Big Dada reissue the critically acclaimed debut and sophomore albums by Young Fathers, ‘Tape One’ and ‘Tape Two’. Both albums have been remastered for this reissue and are presented together as double CD, double LP and double cassette packages.
"‘Tape One’ and ‘Tape Two’ are compellingly unique - the band make the sort of uncompromisingly leftfield, forward thinking hip hop that has nothing to do with artiness and everything to do with brilliance, all with grain silo production and genuine pop hooks.
‘Tape One’ was recorded within a week. It was first released in November 2011 as a limited edition cassette with individually spray-painted sleeves. ‘Tape Two’ was recorded almost immediately afterwards, in January 2012. Eventually LA based label Anticon picked up both albums and gave them a limited release in the USA."
Race To Zero’ is the new album by musician and composer John Matthias and producer, musician and composer Jay Auborn, via the Village Green label.
"The album’s starting point was a series of acoustic improvisations recorded in a variety of locations, from a 700-year-old chapel in the Devon countryside to a basement studio in Reykjavík, Iceland.
In an attempt to create a fractured sense of space reflective of the digital condition, the duo found themselves working within a place that could only exist in the digital landscape. By crushing the recordings through a hundred different virtual rooms of reverb and other chaotic digital processes they collided, soared and splintered into sweeping new rhythms, melodies and drones.
Pushing the computer’s processor beyond its limits threw up sonic ‘errors’ that wouldn’t be easily possible to create through standard methods. In response, these outcomes created new and unplanned inspiration for further composition. Elements of the album were then produced binaurally adding a three dimensional listening experience. The outcome is a unique landscape that blurs the line between the virtual and physical worlds."
"Repetition is a form of change," reads one of Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies. Seth Haley knows the concept well, and his style of technicolour synth-wave takes the mantra as a challenge. Six years after Galactic Melt introduced the cosmic story of Com Truise, Iteration now concludes his sprawling saga. True to its name, the album is built on Com Truise hallmarks: neon-streaked melodies, big drums, robotic grooves, bleary nostalgia. But Iteration is also the most elegant and streamlined that Haley's singular music has ever sounded.
At the album's heart is an elaborate narrative, one full of longing, hope, anxiety, and triumph. Iteration illustrates the last moments Com Truise spends on the perilous planet Wave 1, before he and his alien love escape its clutches to live in peace. "...Of Your Fake Dimension" launches the interstellar drama with its anthemic swells and widescreen sound design, before lovesick songs like "Dryswch" and "Propagation" outline scenes wrought with cybernetic pathos. Later, the frantic rhythms of "Syrthio" conjure images of panicked flight as Haley's gorgeous synth melodies gild the action in quiet heartbreak. Then comes the resounding "When Will You Find The Limit...", when Iteration's pain and sadness finds liberation in the vast unknown. The closing title track ends it all in a gush of majestic revelry.
So goes the winding story that Iteration tells, and yet there's more behind its telling. "I try hard not to write from my personal life, but it's inevitably going to seep into the music," Haley explains. "It's basically like I'm scoring this film in my head, but that film I'm scoring is also somehow my life." There are glimpses of the difficult time the East Coast native spent adjusting to a new life in Los Angeles, fighting homesickness and burnout while also touring the world. It was a time full of uncertainty, transition, and self-realization. After a year and a half of living in California, Hayley finally recaptured his creativity by finding new excitement in his work. "I put more air, more breathing room in the music—that was the big change," he says. And once that clicked, the album just poured out of him. "It was like an information dump. I feel like I finished the record in two weeks."
Such a clear refinement of the Com Truise sound took time to develop, but Iteration is well worth the patience and perseverance it cost. Some of Haley's smartest, catchiest work is here, from the weightless pop of "Isostasy" to "Ternary"'s lush synth-funk. A song like "Vacuume" somehow balances massive bass drops and smashing drums with angelic gasps, and
"Usurper" gracefully pairs subtle poignancy and uplifting dance beats. "For me, it feels like change," Hayley says of his second album, and yes, this is Com Truise like never before. By embracing the music's inherent nature and peerless qualities, Iteration finds new avenues of expression in its vivid, familiar surroundings."
Dieter Moebius’ industrial incursion, Ding  bubbles back on Bureau B, showcasing the electronic music pioneer experimenting with a range of tempos and schizzy structures.
The stodgy beats are best avoided but there’s some intriguingly messed up parts to check in the Eric Copeland-esque churn of Neue News, the pulsating, screwy design of Flink, and a queasy, peeling drone piece called Alfred, if you’re that way inclined.
Tom Hobden & Eliot James present: Roam’ is the stunning debut collaborative album from composers Tom Hobden (Noah And The Whale, Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling) and Eliot James (Kaiser Chiefs, Two Door Cinema Club and Bloc Party).
"Having met back in 2007, while working on Tom’s band Noah And The Whale’s Top Five debut album, ‘Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down’, the pair have been in each other’s orbit for many years. In 2016 they decided to work together again after exchanging demos of orchestral and score material. ‘Roam’ is the fruits of this collaboration and a fascinating first taste of what Tom and Eliot have in store with this project.
Frustrated by a lack of opportunities for and appreciation afforded to orchestral strings within the world of pop, Tom and Eliot saw no other option but to take things into their own hands. Ambitious from the outset, ‘Roam’ reflects a shared love of late and neoRomantic composers and offers a knowing doff of the cap in the direction of the likes of Samuel Barber, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten, as well as more modern, post classical composers such as Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt and Max Richter."
Nick Edwards’ Ekoplekz indulges his mini-modular rig-up with a battery-creamed bleep techno session, coaxing out a searching and cannily radiophonic-style array of dub-frayed tendrils and rubbery bass with a dippy charm...
“Ekoplekz returns with his fourth album for Planet Mu, in the shape of 10-tracker "Bioprodukt". The unique lo-fi, woozy sound of Bristol's Nick Edwards stays intact while he veers towards the nineties for inspiration: the bleep and bass sound of the north of England is one touchpoint and the acid gurgles of the 303 are another.
While the murky lo-fi production levels and evocative melodies remain, they are now bolstered by a more muscular rhythmic chassis. Snappier kicks and snares mingle with dense layers of percussion and deep undulating sub-basslines adding a funkier edge, as typified by opening track "Elevation" where playful beats interlock with breezy keyboard flourishes to create something uncharacteristically upbeat. Similarly, the gentle, fluid motion of "Slipstream" and "Calypzoid" represent some of the most appealingly chilled grooves in the Ekoplekz canon to date.
But the darker-edged material remains. "Expedition" has a pensive, percussion-heavy feel whilst "Acrid Acid" is a dirt-encrusted slow-mo techno meltdown. "Transcience" displays the Ekoplekz trademark dub-fx in full flight over a driving lo-end, before "Descent" leads down to the final section, where the beats fade out, replaced by rippling layers of spectral ferric ambience on the epic "Low-X Over", before finishing with the radiant looped stasis of "Denier Daze". “
Dieter Moebius-one half of the legendary duo Cluster and the godfather of electronic krautrock-passed away in the summer of 2015. Bureau B are reissuing his final four solo albums.
"Following on from Blotch and Nurton (2016) Kram and Ding now complete the quartet. The last two albums will be availabe on vinyl for the very first time. Liner notes were penned by Moebius’ friend, the U.S. composer, producer and musician Tim Story. Recorded in 2008, Kram’s playfully disjointed rhythms and shiny plastic surfaces give us just a glimpse perhaps of Moebi’s own state of mind-content, at ease, and happy to be working on music. With small mobile recording setups in Berlin and Majorca where he and Irene split their time, he recorded when the muse struck (although he would hate the word “muse”). In English, “kram” means “stuff” and the title is fitting. Synthetic, toy-like sounds skitter across the soundstage, colliding with those unlikely rhythms, and modulating in real time with Moebi’s unmistakable hand on the controls.
Funny, warped, joyfully cluttered, Kram unapologetically embraces its disposable sounds and sly humor. Imbued throughout with his singular conception of music and sound, it’s arguably Moebius’ most cheerful and mischievous album, and it’s all the richer for it. Moebi was a champion of the everyday-self-effacing in both his life and his music. In Kram, he elevates the commonplace, then promptly subverts the touchstones which make it familiar. The lack of overt “emotionality” in his work sometimes obscures the humanity and depth that’s always there, lurking behind the fabricated surfaces. Kram is a perfect example. Though he would be quick to dismiss it, the warmth of Moebi’s personality drifts indelibly through it."
Panorama Bar’s Steffi gives up the best Fabric mix CD since their Mumdance instalment with an expertly tempered selection of deep Detroit/Dutch/UK/Berlin electro showing everyone else how it’s done.
Deep, rugged and galvanised with a shark-eyed techno spirit Fabric 94: Steffi draws from a close pool of producers, including some big highlights in her collaborations with Shed and Martyn, to basically sidestep all the bullshit and get down to classically-skooled futurist fundamentals.
Where say, Helena Hauff for example goes for dark and severely stripped down strains of electro, Steffi’s picks are more full bodied and funked up with a finely ingrained Detroit funk, of the sort which has informed Dutch dance music since the ‘80s and continues to bubble up in new ways here, especially with the sublime depth and complex breakbeat intricacies of 1.5 in her STFSHD collab with Shed, the martian hi-tech funk of No Life On The Surface as Doms & Deykers, or the Mr. De-meetsCybotron flexer, Off The Beat with Virginia, but also on the devilish picks of World Gets Crazy from UAS, and Afik Naim’s crunchy electro-soul-warper, Saturniidae.
A subtly evolving 45 minute piece by Thomas Köner and Jana Widneren recorded live from the cloisters at Evreux Cathedral, Normandy, France by Franck Dubois, mastered by Köner. Bird calls, swelling organ resonance and the sound of passing voices unfold across a richly detailed sound-field that seems to morph like some metaphysical presence.
Feels like the listener is placed in the shadows surrounded by cold stone on a warm summer day.
For completists, archivists and newcomers alike, Can - The Singles affords a comprehensive overview of the legendary krautrock pioneers’ outings beyond their run of seminal classic albums, notably rounding up a lot of material which has been out of print on any format for decades.
All material is taken and remastered from original single versions, including a few newly nipped edits and featuring a strong handful of obscure, sought-after numbers such as Silent Night and Turtles Have Short Legs beside their better known turns, Mushroom, Hallelujah, Vitamin C and I Want More.
Joanne Pollock (Poemss) joins the ranks of Datach’i, John Frusciante, and Otto Von Schirach (sorta) on Venetian Snares’ Timesig label with her vaulted, operatic IDM pop anomaly, Stranger.
“‘Stranger’ is the debut solo album from Canadian artist Joanne Pollock. Released via Venetian Snares’ Timesig imprint, with whom Pollock previously collaborated as Poemss, ‘Stranger’ is a stunning collection of electronic pop songs that range from the unsettlingly calm and beautiful through to ferocious explosions of caustic noise, all held together by Joanne’s multi-octave ranging vocals.
“What happens when we push up against that which contains us?” asks Pollock. “By distorting the mirror, we may become plastic. When the comfort of familiarity is stripped away, it can feel as though we become a stranger in our own bodies. Is it through embracing the Stranger that we discover ourselves? Stranger explores the multiplicities of selfhood - what defines us, where the boundaries lie.”
On tracks like the album opener ‘Carnival’, ‘Myself Apart’ and ‘Expect Me’ Pollock’s vocals weave in and out of the bruised and bruising bass lines, glacial synths and stop-start beats almost becoming one with the music, before suddenly overpowering the synthetic elements to take centre stage in bursts of joyful exuberance.
Combining an intricate, detailed approach to music production with illusive almost dreamlike textures ‘Stranger’ sees Pollock further burnish her reputation as one of electronic music’s most exciting and idiosyncratic new artists. Throughout the album’s ten tracks she continually leads us down dark, surprising paths as she experiments with and twists song structures, resulting in an album that feels both eerily familiar and startlingly new and continues to reveal new secrets with every play.”
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma follows-up the hazy shimmer of his masterpiece ‘A Year with 13 Moons’ on his most overtly accessible album to date ‘On the Echoing Green’. This is Jefre’s unabashed Shoegaze album, enlisting the help of Evan Caminiti and Byron Westbrook on Guitar, while Maxwell August Croy, Honey Owens and Sobrenadar supply occasional vocals.
The album opens where ‘…13 Moons’ left us off on “In A Copse”; a short, slowed down vignette bleached out by the sun, before A Song of Summer provides the album’s most joyous, anthemic moment. Making few concessions to the classic Shoegaze template for its first 4 minutes, it sounds like it could have been lifted off Slowdive’s Souvlaki, while the section that follows gives away its provenance with an immersive line in bass distortion that slowly erodes and kicks back into the track’s main refrain before closing out.
As Ledesma explains: “I was interested in trying to bring out more overt pop elements, to let them come to the front and be present. I also have more trust now in letting things happen – trusting other people’s musicianship, and being open to people’s ideas. Eventually, things emerge.”
The rest of the album deftly balances those classic Shoegaze references with Ledesma’s by-now perfected drum machine and tape delay arrangements, gradually dipping into more experimental terrain as the album progresses, especially on the beautiful Autumn interlude, and the closing field recording treatment Door to Night, effectively taking us away from the abundance and glee of the first half and into the introspective tristesse as the seasons pass.
Ride release their first album in over twenty years, ‘Weather Diaries’.
“Produced by legendary DJ, producer and remixer Erol Alkan, ‘Weather Diaries’ is packed with all the classic elements that made Ride one of the defining bands of the early 90s. Trembling distortion, beautiful harmonies, pounding rhythms, shimmering soundscapes and great songwriting all combine to make an album that’s ambitious in scope, timeless and thoroughly addictive.
The album sees the band reunited with label co-founders Dick Green and Mark Bowen, who worked with Ride during the band’s early years on Creation Records. It also brings the band back together with mixer Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers) who mixed their seminal 1990 album ‘Nowhere’ and produced its follow up ‘Going Blank Again’."
Stockholm native Demen delivers a striking statement of intent on this Kranky debut, coming across like a lost artefact from 4AD supergroup This Mortal Coil at the height of their powers, and without doubt heavily indected to Cocteau Twins' masterpiece Head Over Heels.
This latest Kranky offering comes wrapped in mystery and elaborate intrigue, the Chicago label apparently receiving ‘Nektyr’ out of the blue several years after the elusive Demen first made contact with some anonymously-submitted demos. Seemingly based out of Stockholm, this most talented if slow-working of musicians has crafted quite the debut album, sounding more like a hermetically sealed archival discovery from the glory years of 4AD rather than any modern-day counterpart.
Listening to this album, it is clear Kranky have stumbled upon quite the musical talent in Demen, or Irma Orm as she is apparently known. Each track here seems to be telling its own story, and Demen’s supple mastery of understated composition and instrumentation is evident throughout. The way she creates drama through sudden silence and unannounced sonic swerves suggests the work of a seasoned professional musician.
It’s the interplay between this ghostly musical backdrop and Demen’s shimmering voice that makes this such a powerful listen however. An otherworldly and evocative whisper, Demen doesn’t form words, but rather intones emotion through sheer yearning power.
A gothic opera of the highest ethereal order. RIYL Cocteau Twins, Tropic Of Cancer.
Tumultuous techno topography - from full throttle pelters to rugged electro and barely there ambient pieces - from a L.I.E.S. regular moonlighting on The Bunker NYC
“The latest transmission from the world of Gunnar Haslam, Kalaatsakia wildly sprawls across the intersections of techno and more abstract sounds to take us on a wide-ranging journey from the subterranean to the coastal, from blown-out dub tones through fractured rhythms. An incredible work that is not easy to pigeonhole, Kalaatsakia is a full length album that navigates and sketches landscapes where new languages are created from old, dead ones to emerge as the lingua franca of interconnected immersive zones.
Haslam is an avid home listener of dub, dancehall and calypso, and that influence is quickly felt as Kalaatsakia launches with a tight electro snap and dubwise crash. Kalaatsakia advances and retreats seasonally, tightening up for the floor with the chrome-plated “Broadcast” and “Kjolle” while splintering apart on “Kalapuyan” and “nxbound”. Its constituent parts are often left to collapse in on themselves, smearing themes into residual trails. As the narrative of the album disintegrates and unfolds into more deconstructed territory, it stretches out even further with a striking skittering mental tease, settling into burbling sub-audible vocals and resonant spaces that all form a part of Haslam's self-created subconscious language.”
The Brötzmann / Leigh duo push a taut, distortion-oiled copulation of pedal steel guitar and tenor/alto-saxophones/tarogato and B-Flat clarinet in the cranky squeeze of Sex Music for Austria’s Trost, offering the 2nd officially recorded and released result of an ongoing touring/recording partnership following Ears Are Filled With Wonder [Not Two Records, 2016].
Candidly documenting the duo in their element at Music Unlimited in Wels, Austria late 2016, we can hear the pair’s fluidly exchanging dominant/submissive roles across the piece, with Leigh’s sheets of plangent, warbly dissonance alternately pierced and smoothed by bleating and melodic pressure from Brötzmann, naturally moving from clambering intensity to blissed serenity but also prone to punkish caterwaul and frankly, anything-goes bursts of incendiary emotion that are captivating to witness.
Portland, OR-based artist Daneil Menche return to the fold of Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner’s Sige with a 12-track, 3 hour somnambulant induction, Sleeper.
Fuck knows we haven’t got the time to go through it all without taking a little nap under the desk, but scanning through we can hear the vibe is dead heavy lidded and definitely shouldn’t be consumed whilst operating heavy machinery. We recommend eating a pound of cheese and sprinkling gravel on your preferred sleeping surface before immersion…
“It is easy to forget that our eyes are constantly seeing even when they are shut. We can still sense the faint traceries of blood vessels until the dark dims our view. Strange sparkles of light flicker and swim across our eyelids as they are chased by darkness. Subtle abstract films play every night, even in our deepest slumber, projected on the movie screens found inside our eyes. "Sleeper" is a soundtrack to these internal films. Play it loud or quiet: our eyes are always seeing. And don't forget....... Ears wide shut.”
The Ostgut Ton staple yields a 2nd album of intricate house and electronica designs with Work for the Berlin-based powerhouse.
Urged by a restless, hypnotic dancefloor sensibility, but measured out in waves of alternating pressure, Work scales between a broad range of styles and tempos within Höppner’s house remit, stretching from Plaid-like IDM with opener All By Themselves (My Belle) to Suicide-al strokes of Three Is A Charm W/ Randweg at the close, glyding thru bassliebn-driven garage-house tribalism in Clean Living w/ Tram 78; West London broken beat suss in Hoel Head; a slow-motion dive with The Dark Segment; and even pulsating Italo-disco-pop with From Up And Down.
An Album Co-Composed By Four Musicians: Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, James Mcalister...
"Flanked by a string quartet and a consort of seven trombones, this unique collaborative ensemble have assembled an expansive song cycle that explores the Sun, the Moon, the planets and other celestial bodies of our solar system (and beyond) through soundscape, song, science and myth.
The subject of the album is not just the wilderness of outer space, but also the interior space of human consciousness and how it engages with divinity, depravity, society and self - what does it mean to be human? A musical and aesthetic journey as far-reaching as its subject: from lush piano ballads to prog-rock political anthems, curious electronic backbeats to classical cadenzas, which occasionally give way to ambient interludes and majestic brass chorales, buttressed by a percussive drive that keeps the momentum skyward.
In spite of all the experimentation in sound and style, Sufjan’s vocals provide a clear and coherent centre of gravity, and includes some of his most diverse vocal performances to date (from soft hush to guttural scream); whether he’s singing through effects pedals, vocoders, auto-tune or not, his voice delivers an ambitious flight map through the cosmos..."
Philippe Hallais aka Low Jack returns to Modern Love with a debut album under his own name, this time round unfurling a deeply seductive and opaque mixture of squashed dream pop and ambient shimmers, sounding something like Badalamenti/Lynch doing Shoegaze except a lot more weird and beautiful...
It’s an album in the tradition of great records by Hype Williams, Leyland Kirby and, more recently, Yves Tumor; inhabiting a sonic world where not everything is quite what it seems. It offers familiarity and warmth one moment, dread and transformation the next, with an aesthetic that can basically be defined by that iconic image of the trophy cabinet in Twin Peaks, slowly zooming in on Laura Palmer’s framed face.
Divided into four sides (and eleven tracks) acting as parts in a greek tragedy, the album delves into the dislocations of the mythology of sports and its achievement in mass entertainment; whereby the hero becomes a dispensable and mimetic body. It delves into this unusual portrayal of triviality and disaster, naivety and cynicism that make the real life and ordeals of the hero indistinguishable from their scripted form on TV.
And so the narrative flows from the introspective ambient fizz of the opening Theme (Trophies) - sounding like the Cure’s All Cats are Grey as heard through the cracks, shrouded in several layers of auditory fog, through to the goosebump inducing Angela (Square), complete with punctuated snare/bassdrum crashes, to the Thriller-esque/Actress vibes on Fantasy (4U).
Feel (Storm) is like Jóhann Jóhannsson’s brass masterpiece Virðulegu Forsetar looped, phased and slowed down, before the album closes on the daytime tv vibes of Hero (Theme); a sound to get immersed in, mimicking life with its transition from the tragic to the sublime.
Life is short, seize the moment.
Mannequin dig into the ruined foundations of ‘90s industrial rhythmic noise with reissue of Orphx’s debut cassette couplet and previously unheard 4-track tapes.
Scrolling back to early ‘90s Ontario, Canada - the site of Orphx’s first doings - Archive 1993-1994 reveals the noisy, abstract genesis of a unit who are maybe best known nowadays for their steely techno productions and valued modular synths skills, has released on Adam X’s Sonic Groove and heard alongside synthy collaborators ranging from Junior Boys’s Jeremy Greenspan to dark techno overlord, Dave Foster aka Huren in recent years.
Taking their cues from then contemporary European and Japanese noise scenes, Orphx hatched a feral and fucking busted sound that stirred improvised elements of power noise, electro-acoustic process and the notion of ‘death industrial’ into a crushing cacophony at their erstwhile member, Aron T’s basement studio named The Pit, wresting a guttural and unheimlich sound that wouldn’t be out of place on the Harbinger Sound catalogue or even Hospital Productions, who are coincidentally behind an expanded CD version of this collection.
The first disc of this set corresponds to their debut tape, 01 [Excretia, 1993], which was originally issued in edition of only 100 copies. It’s severely dank and distended stuff, akin to being pulped by a slow blowing sandblaster, prone to buckle and collapse under its own weight and undergo fits of spasming death gargle, with the’ rhythmic’ component pretty much reserved to the percussive detonations and metal-shearing screech of Excruciate and the bombed out hulk of Monophilia, which both make a mockery of much modern noise techno.
Disc two contains the gear off tape 02 [Excretia, 1994] along with unheard material, bookending the systematic immolation of Exposure and the very Prurient-esque Reservoirs of Infection with a much broader sound in the dive-bombing drone formation, Veil Of Dream and finally spewing up the black bile of the Wolf Eyes-like Beautiful Wreckage and a palpitating, cloven beast of Live Fragment 21/10/94, which is uncannily close to fellow Canucks, Wold/Black Mecha, but twenty years earlier.
It’s all basically as rare as chalky white dog shit (which we’ve not seen since the ‘90s; coincidence?!?!) and totally aches for the attention of noise grotbags everywhere.
Rivers collects in album form the two recent 12" vinyl releases (Retina and Iris) from Swedish duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums.
For this new venture, Swedish duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums expand their singular, percussion-heavy sound with the recruitment of the Schola Cantorum Reykjavik Chamber Choir, who have previously worked with Bjork on her all-vocal album, Medulla. In fact the Icelandic connection doesn't end there: the EP features arrangement from Hildur Guðnadótir, recording by Ben Frost and production from the latter's Bedroom Community pal, Valgeir Sigurðsson. The outcome of all this is a brilliant five-song release that hopefully gives some indication of the direction this band might head in next. As ever, vocalist Mariam Wallentin leads the way with a bewitchingly charismatic performance, and Andreas Werliin imposes a structural backbone via his drums, but the choral elements really add to the duo's music. It might be said that the ordinarily very fulsome and versatile percussive elements are ever so slightly impoverished by this new direction, but it's a trade-off that works well, particularly on 'Fight For Me' which locks onto a memorably mighty thud.
While Retina was recorded in a Reykjavik church with the Schola Cantorum Chamber Choir, this release sees Wildbirds & Peacedrums reverting to their conventional duo line-up, with Andreas Werliin playing drums and percussion while Mariam Wallentin undertakes some fairly major multitasking: singing while playing steel drums and an organ bass pedal. Once again, Bedroom Community mainstays Valgeir Sigurðsson and Ben Frost are in charge of recording and mixing duties, but this time it all takes place within the facilities of Greenhouse Studios. Despite the more controlled production environment you really get a sense of this duo's stunning presence as a live act, and Wallentin's ability to carve out a strong, melodically coherent song using such minimal and often abstract accompaniment is truly something to behold. The strongest entries are the songs bookending the EP: 'The Wave' establishes a memorable chorus from the vantage point of a slow tempo and methodical bass intervals, while closing track 'The Well' has real urgency and kinetic energy about it, building to a climax full of thrashing cymbals and flurrying steel drum work.
Exquisite new recordings from preeminent avant-garde trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist Arve Henriksen for his spiritual home, Rune Grammofon, arriving over three years since his Chron | Cosmic Creation  LP and a handful of collaborations with Supersilent, among others, over the interim.
By now you should know this guy is in possession of a genuinely wonderful sonic wanderlust, the sort of spirit that is instinctively guided by emotion and prone to lead him into the most enchanted and enchanting headspaces - and if you don’t know, we recommend you do a lot of catching up!
That said, you’d do well to start with Towards Language, one of his most accessible ports of call, rendering a ninth solo LP instalment of magickally wistful themes lead by his virtuosic lines of flight and underlined by an array of live-sampling, electronics, synths, guitars and vocals.
From first listens we’re most snagged by the gently pulsating, airborne elegance of Vivification with its sublime Reichian phasing and bubbling undertow, and likewise a little smitten with the deep blue tone of Demarcation Line, but we’re sure deeper listens will reveal even more alluring aspects.
Dive in and drink deeply.
Completing the haul of unreleased albums by the inventor of the motorik beat, drummer for Neu! and La Düsseldorf
"Previously unreleased Klaus Dinger Material. The upcoming millennium inspired Klaus Dinger, legendary co-founder of NEU! and La Düsseldorf, to look for new collaborative opportunities with other musicians. His ambition was to create new music, to “re-sound” the impending millennium and to find new forms of artistic production. Klaus Dinger had been joined by Kazuyuki Onouchi, Andreas Reihse (Kreidler) , Viktoria Wehrmeister (Toresch), Nakao Masaki , Thea Djordjadze. “Turning documentary into art” would indeed be the best way to describe this album."
‘Boombox 2’ is a new selection of early rap music from the period 1979 - 83, with barely a household name in sight. Featured here are some the earliest hip hop records that came out of New York City following the enormous commercial success of the first ever rap record, ‘Rapper’s Delight’ by the Sugarhill Gang, in September 1979.
"Artists and producers alike tried to jump aboard the new commercial possibilities of hip hop. By the end of the year there were 30 hip hop singles, all released by independent New York labels. The following year there were over 100 more and so on.
‘Boombox 2’ tells the story of how hip hop went from its evolutionary roots in the Bronx through DJs Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa through to its second phase where veteran music producers - Paul Winley, Peter Brown, Joe Robinson and others - all based in Harlem, began to put rap on vinyl for the first time.
Harlem is also where the separate worlds of disco and hip hop met through the styles and influence of earlier ‘uptown’ DJs - DJ Hollywood and Eddie Cheba. In similar fashion these veteran Harlem-based producers instinctively tapped into a long lineage of African-American rhythm and blues, soul and disco."
The long-in-the-works Glitter In My Eyes is a work of quietly understated beauty from sound artist Janek Schaeffer, conceived to mark the 20th anniversary of his debut release. With the dopplereffekt of whizzing cars still lingering in the memory from his Lay-By Lullaby  CD for 12k, his latest effort offers a firm reminder of Schaeffer’s elusive, rarified compositional brilliance and knack for weaving unexpected and fascinating layers of detail into his work. If anything it’s arguably his master opus. Bravo!
“Glitter in my tears’ marks the 20th anniversary of Janek Schaefer’s career as a recording artist, having now released 30 albums. His music is best comprehended through examining his time as an architect, and how that forged his innate sense for constructing tactile atmospheres, that navigate through unknown structures and forgotten spaces, creating profound new places. Over his career he has placed focus on the relationship between body, medium, and sound, creating a field of work that defies easy definition. An architect of foundsoundscapes.
For Schaefer, the medium plays as great a role as the message itself. He creates music that exposes the marks and memories of a variety of media, as presented in the 26 tracks on ‘Glitter in my tears’, an eclectic album that celebrates the sense of overwhelming desolation held in the music. A subdued cathartic opus.
Each piece is a microcosm of haunted memory, that unites to create a record of melancholic vignettes, and is easily his most critical recorded work to date.
It’s a record that reflects Schaefer’s obsession with texture, atmosphere, and emotive acoustic states. Multiple interludes, like active memories, lace into one another. Their relation is temporal, and shaped very much by the settings in which they are encountered. Like the very best ambient music, ‘Glitter in my tears’ is an acoustic reflector of sorts, rebounding off the places and spaces within which it is experienced. This process means the record is never static, but in a constant state of discovery and rediscovery.
Schaefer comments, “The album was composed over the last decade, in moments when most people are asleep in the dark, while the lucky ones are still dancing in the lights. It’s a record of delightful dark emotions evolving from the evocative dreams we yearn for, with our feet firmly on the floor, always wanting more. An unfolding compendium of motifs and repetitive fragments, fading from the memories of our emotions. Sparkling lights glisten in the hidden shadows of our feelings, with outpourings of love falling through the depths of despair. It is based on a true story”.
Ikonika’s third album ‘Distractions’ builds on 2013’s ‘Aerotropolis’, and the title answers the question “Why has the album taken so long?” In the last few years she’s been building up a strong CV of remixes, from Chvrches to Dawn Richard, Austra and Junior Boys, as well as DJing and working on this album.
"‘Distractions’ distils the character of Ikonika’s music productions across a wider set of styles than previous albums, and she subtly fuses and switches elements from contrasting genres, giving the whole set a uniqueness and consistency that puts it in its own lane. Furthermore what sits at the centre of ‘Distractions’ more than ever is her love of R&B and hip hop, in all its forms, which has opened the door to bring in a selection of guests in a way she’s not fully explored before. From the full throttle blend of grime and 80s synth soul ‘Noblest’ with Andrea Galaxy, to the reflective ‘Sacrifice’ with up and coming MC Jammz, a slowjam that merges dubstep with hip house drums. The final vocal track is the languid ‘Hazefield’ co-produced with Sweyn J and featuring Jessy Lanza on vocals. Its mix of mechanic clunk and minimalist, lulling funk could only happen in 2017.
The LP artwork takes its inspiration from West London’s Golden Mile, a stretch of the Great West Road where the A4 meets the M4, and the road takes on the character of the arcade game Poll Position, with art deco factories and illuminated, hi-tech signage selling lifestyle products. It’s this kind of mix of futuristic and industrious with a touch of gentle glamour that the album exudes.”
Warm and fuzzy house nodding to classic Detroit beatdown from a UK perspective for Technicolour. Check for excellent weightless ambient dimensions in Murmure and his best Theo P vibes on Analogische Memories
“These days, to leave even the briefest of imprints on the ever-increasingly saturated orbit of dance music can be considered a feat in itself. To make a lasting mark, however, one that manages to cut through the onslaught of new music and artist profiles on spotlight each day, is another accomplishment entirely. Cue Dauwd, the US-born, Wales-raised artist who’s been releasing music for nearly 6 years on such noted labels as Ghostly International and Kompakt, and whose debut album Theory of Colours is released via Ninja Tune imprint Technicolour Records.
An integral member of the Berlin night and radio show African Acid Is The Future, Dauwd Al Hilali’s releases have been met with as much expectation as they have intrigue. Spending the last few years out of the limelight and in his Berlin studio, Dauwd’s music has continued to ripple through clubs as his singular, sometimes thrillingly uncertain process of experimentation has continued. Pulling inspiration from electronic music legends like Terry Riley, Raymond Scott, and the seminal Radiophonic Workshop period in the late 50’s and 60’s, Dauwd’s 2017 LP draws a unique line between influences as disparate as hazy Detroit house and early German Krautrock.
A skilled musical engineer, Dauwd’s ability to balance between such sprawling genres is, paradoxically, an exercise in restriction, finding creative freedom in limiting his own gear. It’s clear he’s no stranger to focus; sonically, Theory of Colours runs tightly wound, its loops intentional and layers meticulously built. Spanning a succinct forty minutes across seven tracks, Dauwd’s fondness for delays and love for vintage synthesizers characterize much of the album, which was recorded over the course of a year primarily in the Utrecht based Sonar Traffic studio that houses one of the largest collections of vintage synths and other modular equipment in all of Europe. The result is an intricate, scintillating journey that hovers between familiar and strange. For many artists, that enigmatic gap is one that’s anxiously avoided-- the fear of misidentity as a musician more important than the music itself. Throughout Theory of Colours, it’s a space Dauwd comfortably renders as his own.”
Japanese composer/demi-god Ryuichi Sakamoto presents an exquisitely oneiric and elusively spiritual new album inspired as much by the sound sculptures of Harry Bertoia as the magic of Andrei Tarkovsky’s seminal septet of celluloid classics.
It’s been some years since Sakamoto has placed his name at the top of a solo album proper - as opposed to his swathes of collaborations and film scores - and we can promise that the results herein are definitely worth the wait.
Imagined and realised after a period of fright with his health, Async captures Mr. Sakamoto at his most wistful and wonderful, meditating on the existentialist, ontological themes and atmospheres of Tarkovsky’s work from both a gauzily impressionistic aspect, and a quite literal one, employing readings of Tarkovsky’s poetry (poem transcribed in the liner notes) in a variety of languages from a coterie of contemporaries including long time collaborators David Sylvian, Bernardo Bertolucci (for whom he composed the OST for The Last Emperor) and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), among others.
Embracing both the fluidity and flux of Tarkovsky’s water analogies as well as the harmonic chaos of Harry Bertoia’s lush metal rod clangour, Sakamoto melds feather touch acoustic keys with field recordings, shimmering electronic patinas and signature synthesiser flourishes in a suite that beautifully lives up to and even transcends its influences, revealing some of the most achingly emotive yet often abrasive and abstract work in a catalogue now spanning over 40 years of exemplary work.
Beyond maybe Scott Walker, we can hardly think of another artist who has continued to expand their oeuvre over such a long period of time, and with an appeal quite like this, albeit respectively unique to their work. But Sakamoto really is in a league of his own here, utterly absorbing us with the dappled keys, organ haze and stereo starting doom synths of Andata, thru the stark Sonambient emulations of Disintegration to the romance of ZURE and the almost Toshiya Tsunoda-esque sensitivity of his field recordings woven into Walker or Honj, with humbling moments to be discovered in the switch from disorienting cinematic dialogue in Fullmoon to the legit Ligeti style violence of Async, and again in the curdled chromatics of FF and the Gas-eous swells swirling about Garden.
Conscientious retro-chic pop music steeped in ‘80s synths, balmy tropical influence and wrapped around pointed lyrics. RIYL endless Swedish reverb and diamond cut hooks.
“That we live in a world changed is beyond question. Since 2015’s Zenith, Berlin-based songwriter Molly Nilsson has surrendered to the world, traveling from Mexico to Glasgow, observing the changing socio-political landscape and imagining a better world. For an artist who has so successfully created her own environment and gradually let others in, her 8th studio album Imaginations sees Nilsson directly engaging with her surroundings, engendering change and allowing love in. Imaginations dreams big, recasting storming, stadium-sized pop into the internal language of the solo auteur. Imaginations is not escapism, it’s a kaleidoscope and an alternative view, an agent of change.
Opener Tender Surrender encapsulates Imaginations, a tango on the ruins of the past, like many of Nilsson’s best songs a collision between the political and personal. Though potentially a love song, there’s a glowing anger in the lines “I want your ruin, I want destruction, I won’t be through until we mend this…” this is rapturous transformation, order and chaos. Molly has built an almost 10 year career on perfectly summing up how we feel and this is no different… Who else could write a song about privilege (Let’s Talk About Privileges) and make a heart-rending chorus of “It’s never being afraid of the police, it’s expecting every thank you, every please.” The artist’s vision on this album is perhaps more forceful than the emotionally fragile moments of previous album Zenith, at times exemplified on songs like Memory Foam, a bright, driving pop song that belies themes of nostalgia and the past, reminding us that Molly alone can make us feel so welcome in loneliness. If there’s overt anger in songs like Money Never Sleeps, an anthem for a post-capitalist utopia if ever there was one, there’s also seams of optimism sewn into the album’s genetic code. Any revolutionary will tell you that anger alone achieves nothing - Nilsson’s mission on Imaginations is to offer some alternatives we can hold close. Not Today Satan is a song about accepting love as the agent of change; “Don’t be sad, but do get mad at all the small men who act so tall, in the end they always fall; there ain’t no sin in giving in to love, that’s just how we’re winning the fight.” Love can be visceral, a weapon with which to fight the power.
On Imaginations Molly is recasting her interior monologue as a prism through which to see the world, a means to live differently and to reject the status quo. We can Think Pink, change our destiny together. This is an optimism about the future when we need it the most. “New boys, new girls.. give me your smile and I’ll give you mine” Clearly, we are living through a transformation but with alchemists like Molly Nilsson, we’re never alone in the process.”