Danish violinist Katrine Grarup Elbo impresses with a quietly confident, chilly collection of analog electronix and atmospheric strings. Like a soundtrack to a particularly terrifying arthouse movie, in the best possible way.
"Fold Unfold" is Elbo's debut full-length, but follows years of activity as a member of classical four-piece We Like We. She brings this expertise to a short sequence of spare compositions that ooze with the kind of confidence you need to handle such icy minimalism. Working with only a few ingredients means that everything needs to be just right, and each element - vocals, strings and electronics - is treated with the utmost care.
These tracks proudly wear the influence of Jocelyn Pook (who composed the iconic soundtrack to Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut"), Deaf Center and ECM greats like David Darling, but innovate rather than simply repeat. Elbo's technique is already breathtaking, but her production and composition sets "Fold Unfold" apart from her peers. It's a harrowing, mysterious record, spinning a yarn that's one part fairytale, one part psychological horror and one part emotional arthouse drama.
More bizarre and brilliant outsider funk from fine artist and latter day renaissance man Lonnie Holley.
Modern Americana pioneer Matthew E. White teams up here with sculptor, educator and later-life musical hero Lonnie Holley to rock through a set of eccentric psych-funk-gunk that should appeal to anyone who has been fascinated by Holley's last few records. Holley's idiosyncratic lyricism is the draw here, as he deconstructs the issues du jour - selfies, reality, outer space, psychedelics - with wit and undeniable style. But White's musical contributions make this more than just an odd aside, if you've enjoyed Holley's recent run ("MITH", "National Freedom") then "Broken Mirror" shows that Holley has more mileage yet. Not bad for someone who released their debut album at the age of 62 eh? Southern funk at its weirdest and wildest.
Dirk Dresselhaus's Editions Mego debut is a post-dystopian electronic pop concept album that deals with reality and illusion, human and machine. Alright then!
Since the mid 1990s, Dresselhaus has been analyzing the relationship between pop and experimental electronic spaces, sometimes diving headfirst into one side or the other and sometimes finding a comfortable mid-point. "The 8 of Space" is his poppiest album for years, and uses familiar forms to reflect a "trans human sound world where biological and technical elements compliment each other".
So with modular synth, drum machines, guitars and vocals, Dresselhaus assembles slender songs that reflect his long, varied catalog and interests in heady sci-fi concepts. Using a robot voice he's named iBot, he gives a humorous lightness to proceedings, dipping in and out of electro-pop formula hinting at the past and the future simultaneously.
Magnum opus-weight album from organist and electro-acoustic composer Anna von Hausswolff, the entire record consists of just one instrument - the pipe organ, and represents absolute liberation of the imagination. It's a masterwork of gothic classical beauty - a must check for fans of Kali Malone, Kara-Lis Coverdale.
‘All Thoughts Fly’ was recorded at Gothenburg’s Örgryte New Church and is heavily infused with the space’s atmospheric nuance, which renders the theatric richness of Anna’s compositions at their most billowing and melodramatic. As her 6th album, it’s also her most confident and strikingly original, following the slow steady procession of her sides for Kning Disk, Touch and City Slang with her most sepulchral and steepled refinement of black metal atmospheres and sacred dirges pronounced with an apocalyptic classical grandeur and iconoclastic experimental daring.
“Notes on the recording process: The organ on All Thoughts Fly is situated in Gothenburg and is a Swedish replica of the Arp Schnitger organ in Germany. It is the largest organ tuned in Quarter-comma meantone temperament in the world. With it’s four manuals, one pedal and 54 stops, it was built as part of a ten-year research project reconstructing 17th Century North German organ building craft. The tuning temperament is an important detail to note here, as it deeply affects the sound and tuning, and thus radically changed the process of creating this album. Anna speaks of a pleasant surprise during recording, the organ's ability to create beautiful "pitching" notes through its stops and air supply system. She remarks “We took advantage of this so most of the pitching sounds and notes that you hear on the album comes from the mechanics of this organ, effects made entirely acoustically." The organ was recorded with two room mics for atmosphere and two pairs of close mics placed inside the organ to capture nuances and detail for further organ sound processing by Filip Leyman in his studio.”
Manchester psych/sludge rockers Gnod traverse alternate universes on this trippy latest slab. One for the Les Rallizes Dénudés obsessives or the Can fan club.
'Easy to Build, Hard to Destroy' is the latest blessing from long-running Manc outfit Gnod, finding the band yet again diving into the sludgy psych rawk dungeon, fusing lysurgic feedback passages with the kind of motorik rhythmic push you'd more readily expect to find on a Neu! album. Rock 'n roll is the backdrop, and not the kind of rock that's been steadily sterilized each year, but the recorded-in-a-basement rock that birthed the punk revolution in the early 1970s. Everything on the album sizzles with an energy that seems to welcome failure - you get the feeling that at any point the power could be cut and everything would be lost, and in a digital world, that's refreshing.
From the magickal opening clank of 'Elka', through the wall-of-sound Grateful Dead-gone-Stooges frazzled of 'They Live' to the haunted spoken word and drone horror grime of 'Deadbeatdisco', there's a dazzling scope to the album. Gnod refuse to stay moored in one particular genre or other, they're dedicated to grit, and seem completely nonplussed about where that grit might take them. One moment the band is in Dusseldorf, the next NYC circa 1982, but the texture is the same - Gnod make sludgy jammers, and that's something to celebrate.
Factory Benelux presents an expanded double vinyl edition of Sex and Death, the 11th studio album by lauded Factory Records ensemble The Durutti Column. Originally released in 1994 on CD only, the album has now been re-mastered with 5 bonus tracks and appears on vinyl for the VERY FIRST TIME in a coloured vinyl edition limited to 1500 copies.
"The writing and recording of Sex and Death closed an uncertain period for Vini Reilly and the group following the collapse of Factory Records in 1992. Factory founder Tony Wilson remained in post as manager of the band, but Sex and Death would be their last album with producer Stephen Street, famed for his work with Morrissey, The Smiths and Blur.
Writer and master guitarist Vini Reilly remained philosophical. “People say the Durutti Column is this or that. I don’t care, so long as we make good music. There’s screaming feedback on some tracks, heavy metal guitar, Spanish picking. It’s not just this ethereal trip. Don’t listen to the form, never listen to the form. Listen to the content.”
Stand-out tracks include Anthony (dedicated to Wilson), The Rest of My Life, and Believe In Me. Guest musicians include viola player John Metcalfe, vocalist Ruth-Ann Boyle (later to form hitmakers Olive with Tim Kellett), programmer Martin Jackson (Magazine, Swing Out Sister) and bassist Peter Hook, then on furlough from New Order post-Republic.
All 5 bonus tracks are previously unreleased, having been retrieved from a long-lost DAT tape located in Tony Wilson’s personal archive. All tracks on the album have been newly re-mastered in 2020 by Peter Beckmann and Technology Works."
The score for Only Lovers Left Alive - a collaboration between SQÜRL (Jim Jarmusch, Carter Logan and Shane Stoneback) and Dutch lutenist Jozef Van Wissem - serves as a reflection of the distinct textures of Detroit and Tangier, bridging ancient and modern sounds, entangled and timeless.
"Avant-Baroque lute weaves through twenty-first century guitar grit, heavy back beats, Moroccan percussion, synth bass, field recordings, and numerous sonic effects to create a cinematic tapestry.
Guest vocalist Madeline Follin (Cults) appears on SQÜRL’s syrup soaked re- interpretation of the Wanda Jackson hit “Funnel of Love”.
Zola Jesus’ commanding vocal soars through Van Wissem’s “In Templum Dei”. And Yasmine Hamdan’s intimate and evocative “Hal”, recorded on the set of the film and mixed by SQÜRL."
Fathoms deep dub techno from Radius, aka the darkest alias of Stephen Hitchell (Echosace, Variant). Dwelling at ocean floor depths, the series’ ‘0/3’ volume sees Radius return to zero in three durational works tilting well over 1 hour total. Let’s say there are no surprises, but it does frame some of Hitchell’s starkest, driven gear between the range-finding dub chords and organically sloshing FX envelopes of the 21’ first part, and a superb mid-section recalling Rhythm & Sound at their most supine, waterlogged, and ultimately a starkly funereal 32’ tract of barely there bass inference and floating tones from the artist’s top shelf.
"This marks the final installment of Radius's "Interpolation Tapes" series, re-mastered in Echospace. All previously unreleased material culled from the Echospace vaults, these masters were one of the first Demo Tapes of the Radius project and where many of the sound sources for the series were conceived.
We've spent months doing our best to restore the old tapes from our Tascam 688, an 8 track cassette recorder purchased and abused since 1992 and to our ears still sounds quite impressive even by modern standards. We've had nearly every component replaced and re-calibrated to bring this obsolete machine back to life, it's been a truly nostalgic experience re-visiting and redesigning these masters. The first mix is an unreleased version rewired and reshaped by the cv313 project, taking cues from the original source material and developing it into an ocean of analogue bliss."
5CD box set covers the 4 albums John Foxx released between 1980 - 1985.
Including Metamatic, The Garden, The Golden Section & In Mysterious Ways - plus B-sides and out-takes from the sessions which have been added as bonus tracks after each original album, and on a fifth CD, Fusion/Fission. The Virgin Years includes a new analogue master of Metamatic , along with re-masters of the B-sides - 'This City', 'Film One' etc. The black box also houses five postcards with the artwork for the singles 'Underpass', 'No-One Driving', 'Europe After The Rain', 'Endlessly' and 'Stars On Fire'.
Sax deity Evan Parker joins Joshua Abrams' Natural Information Society for this self-styled "party album" that sprinkles Chicago house elements into the framework of improvised jazz.
'descension (Out of Our Constrictions)' is the sixth album from Natural Information Society and was recorded at London's Cafe OTO. Split into four chunks, the piece is a single 75-minute improvisation rooted in the transformative modern jazz skronk of Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane, but augmenting decades of soul, dance music and sounds from the diaspora.
The element that sticks out is Parker's sublime interplay with Jason Stein's bass clarinet. The two seem to dance with each other, winding squeals against each other and flitting between Abrams' and drummer Mikel Patrick Avery's innovative rhythm section. Lisa Alvarado fills in the gaps with effected harmonium, that adds an almost synth-esque throb to the slowly building improvisation.
By the album's concluding section, Abrams' guimbri (a West African bass) and Avery's drums beat out an almost 4/4 house rhythm, allowing Parker and Stein to go head to head, seemingly attempting to outdo each other with every lick. It's an exhilarating set from beginning to end, showing the energy and power that jazz can have to embody emotion, cultural history and human interaction.
Seven solo piano improvisations from Japanese pianist Naoko Sakata that show off her versatility, fluidity and musical skill. Impulsive, artistic and occasionally sublime.
'Dancing Spirits' is a rare solo piano album in that it highlights the importance - and the sheer craft - of improvisation. Sakata is a gifted pianist, but her improvisational skill is most impressive, as she harnesses a spectrum of complex techniques and seems to flip between them at will. There's a backbone of jazz, which is unsurprising considering her history, but Sakata shows an equal appreciation for classical forms, folk motifs and avantgarde ideas.
Most of all, on "Dancing Spirits" it feels as if Sakata is enjoying the process of improvising. She recorded the album in two days at Gothenburg's Annedalskyrkan, a large church in the middle of the city. This setting feels ideal, as Sakata channels spirits and spirituality into her evolving, freeform improvisations that teem with life, experience and artistry.
Mute re-tell the charming story of Telex, Belgium’s legendary disco band, with a peach-packed compilation of trimmed/remastered hits hailing a comprehensive reissue scheme on the horizon. File right up there next to Kraftwerk, YMO, The Human League, Vince Clarke
Best known for ocean-crossing anthem ‘Moscow Disko’, which was massive in USA and UK as well as their native lowlands; Telex’s Marc Moulin, Dan Lacksman, and Michel Mors created an influential legacy of playful, frothy disco and synth-pop that has hardly been bettered and, like the best of their era, has firmly withstood the test of time. ’This Is Telex’ marks their 30 years of skin in the game between formation in 1978, and their disbanding following the death of Moulin in 2008, with a carousel of picture perfect synth and electro-pop produced during the golden era when this sound marked a revolution in music production and popular culture.
Forefathers of a Belgian scene that would give the world Soulwax and Stroom, Telex made music with vim and humour and exacting style that would see them gain success everywhere from early Detroit warehouse parties to chic NYC clubs and diskotheeks at home. ‘This Is Telex’ works as an ideal primer for anyone unaware of their history, holding 14 cherrypicked examples of their sleek studio finesse and the kind of classic vocals that will - presuming you’re one of the unknowers - lay instant ohrwurms and have one wondering just how the chuff they’ve slept on them for so long.
If you’re young and fresh to the band, run go check their all-time evergreen ‘Moscow Disko’ (yep, that’s them!) or the perky ‘Twist à Saint-Tropez’ for starters, and maybe a shot of their Euro-bop bullet ‘Euro-vision’, or the lip-bitingly sharp Italo zinger ‘L’amour toujours’, and the Art of Noise-esque ‘Radio-Radio’ for high club frolics, while longer term heads may also keen to hear their previously unreleased twist on Sonny & Cher’s ’The Beat Goes On’, and The Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’ reset in Belgian chamber-pop synth style.
Rogér Fakhr is a musician from Lebanon. He recorded these songs in the late 1970s in Beirut (and some during a brief exile in Paris). Some were circulated on hand copied cassettes among friends, others like "Had To Come Back Wet" were never released. His music effortlessly combines folk with touches of jazz and soul. He wrote, composed and arranged all songs. While working on his own music he also played for Ziad Rahbani, Fairouz and other musicians.
"When we first heard Roger's music we were blown away! The music was a mixture of folk with touches of other genres. Maybe one could also refer to it as "singer-songwriter", since all of the songs were Roger's own compositions. Songs of unique beauty both musically as well as lyrically. At the same time they gave me the feeling of them being somehow time and space isolated capsules. Nothing really revealed, where they could've been recorded and without knowing it was Beirut, my first guess maybe would have rather been California, sometime in the 1970s. The immersive effect of his compositions and voice are just incredible. I was stunned and proposed Roger to work on a re-release, which he politely declined, saying he had no interest in this music being reissued."
Maestro of the sampler Carl Stone goes on a mad joyride with his most hooligan-friendly decimations skidding wildly into drill ’n bass territory
Ever unpredictable, but predictably brilliant, Carl Stone has evidently had something of a second wind in recent years with a rush of amazing new works and retrospectives that set him out as a truly overlooked avant-garde innovator of a singular calibre with a bold catalogue stretching back to the early ‘80s. From beguiling pop cut-ups to glitching transformations of South East Asian folk, his music knows few bounds beyond what is possible with his sampler and software, resulting some of the most spellbinding contributions to the glitch/electronic/avant garde world out there, and this new one is flipping outstanding.
Booting off with something like a $hit & $hine hoe-down in the smashed Bonham break ballistics of ’Pasjoli’, he cuts loose between something like Squarepusher-meets-Coil in ‘Huancho’, and one of his masterfully twisted pop chop-ups in ‘Au Jus’, and does the same with folk music in ‘The Jugged Hare’, while drawing out something deeply uncanny from whatever pop tune he’s razzing out in ‘Ganci’, and pretty much emulating the effect of listening to the Panda Bear after a balloon and big slug of K in the mind-bending ‘Saaris’. It’s all more than our RDA of psychoactive sonic substance and we love it.
Driving clash of roots and future vibes from Ghana’s Alostmen, starring highlife legend Gyedu-Blay Ambolley and local stars Yaa Pno and Medikal
Centred around Stevo Atambire and produced by Wanlov (Fok’n Bois) and Percy Yip Tong, Alostmen update the traditional Frafra instrument, the lute-like kologo in a modern context inspired by rap, reggae and Malian music as much as local Ghanaian styles. The tracks were recorded in hotel rooms while Stevo was on tour in Uganda and North West Ghana with Wanlov’s band, Afro Gypsies, with resulting highlights strewn between the stripped down twang and concentrated energy of ‘Bayiti’, the talking drums of ‘Tanga’ and ‘Atubga’, the swaying Malian feel of ‘Fauziah’ and the swingeing Afrobeat momentum of ‘Minus Me’ feat. Ambolley.
A high water mark of ‘90s UK culture returns on its 25th anniversary, reminding older heads of the best times, and a history lesson for the critical mass of junglists developed during lockdown
Produced in 1995 by the gold-grilled hardcore/jungle/D&B pioneer, engineered by Rob Playford, Dillinja, and 4Hero’s Dego and Mark Mac, with vocals by the legendary Diane Charlemagne (R.I.P.), ’Timeless’ was and still is an ambitious and enduring example of British Afrofuturism. The album’s sense of discipline and crucial style was symptomatic of the scenius developed by a tight circle of mostly Black and mixed race British artists who drew on their African and Afro-Caribbean roots to develop a unique artform that expressed their identity, which would in course become adopted by a wider generation as their own.
A pinnacle of its artform, arguably never bettered, the album was practically ubiquitous during the mid-‘90s, with its introductory anthem ‘Inner City Life’ - part of the album’s opening three-part suite - a staple on MTV2 and mainstream radio, which helped transcend its urban roots and infect a whole generation beyond big cities and their clubs. It’s almost hard to imagine such a futuristic album quite like this appearing and exerting so much effect on the popular consciousness in 2021, but the ‘90s was a very different place and time, and we can only live in hope that the next decade will foster the next Goldie.
Oh, one last thing - AGCG's 'Black Secret Technology' came out almost exactly 5 months before 'Timeless', it didn't quite have the same promo budget behind it, but it's legacy seeps even further and deeper than 'Timeless' - and is perhaps, on the quiet, the most influential electronic album of the late 20th century. Just sayin.
Finally available once again, "Keyboard Fantasies" was originally self-released on tape in 1986 and contains some of Beverly Glenn-Copeland's most fascinating material. An FM-synthesized combo of new age private press eccentricity and accidentally prophetic Detroit techno futurism. So good!
'Keyboard Fantasies' was entirely recorded using a Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer and a Roland TR-707 drum machine, giving Glenn-Copeland's third album a glassy, robust character that sets it apart from many of its contemporaries. Tangentially, he was working in the new age sphere, but his eerie homespun compositions pointed at far more more mind-expanding, idiosyncratic places.
While opener 'Ever New' (a highlight of last year's fantastic Glenn-Copeland primer "Transmissions") is charmingly light-hearted, with Glenn-Copeland's vocals layered over chiming BBC Radiophonic Workshop synths, 'Slow Dance' sounds more like slow techno, operating in the same realm as Yellow Magic Orchestra with synth bells and voices spun around a grinding 707 beat. Elsewhere, the jazzy 'Old Melody' sounds like a discarded cue from Angelo Badalamenti's "Twin Peaks" soundtrack, or an interlude from Air's "Moon Safari". Lovely.
Mass-rock mainstays Dinosaur Jr.'s twelfth (!) studio album is expectedly reliable collection of air-fried indie rawk and familiar 1990s jangle. If it ain't broke, etc.
Lou Barlow, J Mascis and Murph are back again with "Sweep it into Space", their first new album in five years. This time it's produced in collaboration with Kurt Vile, but don't expect the singer-songwriter to have had too much impact on the sound: this is still very much the Dinosaur Jr. we know and love. Vile was initially due to have more of a role, but was held back by COVID-19 restrictions. The result is a more traditional record that captures a band that know each other so well (they're 36 years old this year) that it's almost on autopilot.
That's not to say "Sweep it into Space" is dull, far from it - tracks like 'I Met the Stones', 'Garden' and 'And Me' are the sound of a band still more than capable of capturing the bottled lightning that made them such an enticing prospect in the first place. When you get bored re-listening to old Pavement albums or avoiding Weezer clips on Instagram, this should hit the spot.
Industrial music and bleep techno legend Richard H. Kirk is back with a long-form synthdrone experiment. Dark, dystopian heaviness that serves as a bleak reflection of a complex era.
Sheffield's Cabaret Voltaire reappeared last year with "Shadow of Fear", the first proper album in 26 years. Originally a trio, the act is now a solo project of founder member Richard H. Kirk, who bleep techno lovers might know better as Warp Records OG Sweet Exorcist. But don't expect a selection of minimal 4/4 jams here - Kirk has fully leaned into the industrial mode on "BN9Drone", a single hour-long track of wobbly synth, crunchy distortion and searing noise.
It's engrossing, pineal-tickling stuff, hinged around a single synth tone (maybe the "drone" in the title?) that Kirk molds and pulls like clay, embellishing it with radio static, voices and chimes. Kirk has long been an innovator, and this harks back to his industrial roots, reminding of Maurizio Bianchi, early Merzbow, Prurient or other disintegrated fuxxed electronix.
Recorded in 1995-96, "Mutator" is Suicide don Alan Vega's attempt to reflect the energy of East Coast rap, draping his words around loose beatbox rhythms and industrial ambience. Unique, powerful and absolutely bonkers.
'Mutator' is the first in a series of archival releases from the Vega Vault. Vega was a ridiculously prolific artist, and many of his records were shelved not for any reason in particular, but just because he was writing so much. He penned "Mutator" alongside his regular collaborator Liz Lamere, who handled the synths and drum machines while Vega manipulated the sounds and added words.
The recordings from this session were dug up by The Vacant Lots' Jared Artaud in 2019 and were subsequently mixed and mastered by Lamere and Artaud. The resulting album is a window into Vega's mind in that era; he was fascinated by the sound of New York's streets, and pre-gentrification that would have been traffic noise, police and hip-hop.
These sounds are the backbone of "Mutator": funk-fuelled machine beats, wailing siren synths and surrealist rhymes that echo the cadence of 1990s rap. It's music that feels a million miles from his relatively poppy 1995 full-length "Dujang Prang", and shines a spotlight on a fearlessly creative mind operating in one of New York City's most fertile time periods.
Presenting richly detailed hydrophone recordings of algae development in the rapidly depleting Arctic, Jana Winderen’s latest research is a fascinating and acutely topical study of ‘Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone’.
Prefaced by a sobering interview with world-renowned Professor of Marine Science, Carlos Duerte, the album presents headphone and speaker mixes of the title track, offering an immersive sonic inspection of the transitional area between open sea and sea ice, where the world’s biggest bloom of phytoplankton - the micro-organisms that produce half of the oxygen on the planet - accounts for the most critical CO2 sink in the biosphere.
The results are unmistakably foreboding, layering the sounds of blooming plankton with the tense cracks, pops and creaks of sea ice, and the subaquatic sound of bearded seals, migrating humpbacks and orcas, crustaceans and spawning cod, into a properly suspenseful and eerily alien experience.
Outstanding introduction to Amapiano, the hypnotic house sound of Guateng, SA with feet in Kwaito and deep house styles. Proper dancers’ gear, dead compatible the deeper ends of Gqom, and new London sounds on Housupa. Tipped by Tom Booigzm, Black Mecha, and us, at the least.
“The past five years have seen amapiano, South Africa’s electronic music movement born in the townships of the country’s Gauteng province, evolve from an underground sound to a nationwide mainstream staple. Even with its commercial success though, amapiano’s DIY ethos has continued to disrupt music creation and distribution in the country. Most amapiano commercial successes today began their careers on cracked versions of production software like FL Studio, distributed their work through file sharing platforms like datafilehost and marketed it using social media pages they controlled and influenced.
Amapiano is partly a tasting menu of South Africa’s musical history, a lineage that has been as much a backdrop to the times as it has been a catalyst for change in the country. South African jazz has thrived pre and post-democracy, contributing international stalwarts of the genre, notably Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela. Kwaito music—which itself borrowed from other genres like marabi, kwela, mbaqanga, maskandi, bubblegum and others—was created and proliferated in the 90s partly because of the newly accessible House music imported into the country. In the early 2000s, Deep and Afro House dominated, to be followed by the rise of diBacardi, a percussion—heavy electronic music genre most popular in the city of Pretoria and its surrounding townships.
Amapiano Selections, the debut album by DJ and producer Teno Afrika, gives listeners outside the movement’s online release economy an insight into the high-burn nature of amapiano that has spawned a distinct typology under its larger umbrella. Nineteen-year-old Lutendo Raduvha has spent the bulk of his life moving between different townships on the outskirts of Johannesburg and Pretoria in the Gauteng province. The palette of amapiano styles on the album reflect these influences.
But at first, South Africa’s youngest electronic music movement lived underground with a small, loyal following. “Amapiano is a genre that I chose because I have a passion for it,” says Teno “I started following amapiano in 2016 because I wanted to explore how it’s produced. It was not taken seriously in our country. By: Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi”
Influential Seattle-based ambient visionary Kerry Leimer returns with a crackly set of homespun electronics and placid ambience.
'Found Objects' is the umpteenth album from the prolific composer, assembled after almost a year of experimentation with studio serendipity. Built around glitchy recordings of piano, synthesizer and strings, it's a cloudy collection of whimsical ambience that reminds of Taylor Deupree or Machinefabirek, but retains a particularly individual sense of purpose. When skeletal drums appear on 'Opulent Lyricism' there's a breath of The Remote Viewer's City Center Offices material and that's no bad thing at all. Lovely.
Dream pop darlings Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk return for their most celestial collaboration to date, a sublime soup of kosmische, shoegaze and new-age moods that shimmers with emotion.
'Eight Fragments of an Illusion' is Schnauss and Munk's third collaborative album, and was recorded over the last three years at Schnauss's well-equipped studio in London. In the time since the duo's last record (2017's "Passage"), Schnauss has spent a significant amount of time working as a member of Tangerine Dream, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that this has impacted the direction of the music.
Where its predecessor had an almost soft-rock maximalist approach, "Eight Fragments of an Illusion" is more markedly minimal, eschewing percussion almost entirely in favor of slow-building tracks that accent the interplay between Schnauss's synth and Munk's guitar. Opener 'Asteroid 2467' is hypnotic and melancholy, softly shuttling from reverberating Cocteau Twins-esque guitar into '80s Tangerine Dream-esque OST-synth bliss.
'Return To Burlington' features a brittle drum machine that reminds of Schnauss's hallowed debut "Far Away Trains Passing By" and chiming mallet sounds that create a wall of harmonic haze. The album's extended centerpiece is 'Perpetual Motion', and hinges around a muted dub techno rhythm, tangling Munk's guitar into looping synth echoes and shuffling beats. It's an unexpected diversion for the duo that shows their ability to evolve as they develop their sound. if you've ever wondered what Slowdive and Seefeel might sound like reworking the soundtrack to "Risky Business", this might help point you in the right direction.
AJ Tracey assumes the character of a rising young basketball player appearing in a livestreamed press conference to reveal his next move: a lucrative deal with major franchise Revenge Athletic ahead of a crucial playoff game.
"The broadcast ends with the true reveal: AJ’s highly anticipated sophomore album ‘FLU GAME’ will finally arrive. Always pushing boundaries with his creative output, AJ’s campaign draws influence from the story of Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls team in the late 90s, with ‘FLU GAME’ referencing one of MJ’s most memorable championship games where he overcame a nasty bout of food poisoning (brought on by a dodgy takeaway pizza) and took the Bulls to the championship. Revenge Athletic are a franchise on the brink of a massive championship win and AJ is their new star. All we know for now is that AJ is about to take us into this new world, as he dons the number 10 jersey and states he’s “ready to get going [and] do what I’ve always done.”
‘FLU GAME’ sees AJ showcasing twelve brand new tracks, with tantalising features including Kehlani, T-Pain, SahBabii, NAV and Millie Go Lightly. On the production front, AJ calls on regular collaborators Nyge, The Elements, Kazza, AoD and Remedee. The project also features the UK Top Five singles ‘Bringing It Back’ with Digga D, ‘West Ten’' with Mabel and the Platinum smash ‘Dinner Guest’ featuring MoStack. AJ Tracey is a man on an unstoppable, independently built trajectory. 2020 was his biggest year to date, with (certified Gold) single ‘West Ten’ alongside Mabel landing in the wake of chart-scaling ‘Dinner Guest’ featuring MoStack (Platinum), Number 1 charity single ‘Times Like These’ (alongside Dua Lipa, Rag & Bone Man and The Foo Fighters) and the Platinum-certified TikTok sensation ‘Rain’ with Aitch, which went on to become the most watched UK YouTube video of 2020. AJ finished the year with a stand-out feature on Headie One’s enormous anthem ‘Ain’t It Different’ alongside Stormzy, a Platinum certified track that peaked at Number 2 in the UK Singles Chart."
Snap on your lycra - Kraftwerk are back with their first release since 2004; across-section of live performances captured in world-renowned museums and galleries across the world between 2012-2016. OK, it’s not a new album, per se, but it does feature new recordings of total classics rendered in all new psychoacoustic 3-D to sate the fan’s thirst for something, anything after ten years of no releases from the world’s greatest man-machine band.
So, the 3-D thing, a sales gimmick or additional dimension to Kraftwerk’s sound? Listening on headphones right now, it’s definitely not a gimmick; the sound is super wide and lustrous, vividly swirling the head along multiple planes of geometry, making us involuntarily do that thing with our eyes, trying to pick out where the sound is coming from, just like someone trying to do mental arithmetic or retrieve forgotten information from your clump of grey matter between the eyes.
Like we said, there’s no new material, but every track is an alternate take on their, by-now, very familiar song structures, re-cycling the internal mechanisms of each piece into dynamic images of themselves, ranging from an abridged, 14 minute version of Autobahn and a glorious rendition of Radioactivity to hyper crisp, almost DJ style transitions between Trans Europe Express - Metal on Metal - Abzug - The Man-Machine on disc 1, and then strafing another ruck of classics from he Numbers-Computer World one-two, thru the ricocheting, extreme panning applied to the Boing Boom Tschak-Techno-Pop-Music Non Stop jabs, and finally onto a reorchestrated mix of the strings for the Prologue to the original Tour De France and its breezy, gear-shifting components from the 2003 release.
Damaged industrial noise techno experiments that sound like a collapsing cyberpunk dystopia. You already know! Think Pan Sonic, Pharmakon, Merzbow and latter-day Prurient.
Japanese noisemaker Yuko Araki was raised as a pianist, but as a teen found herself fascinated by the dynamic sound of metal and hardcore. After playing in rock bands for a while, she joined acid house duo Yobkiss on vocals and electronics; a few years later in 2017, she began experimenting with experimental music and noise, combining her love of sonic intensity and rhythmic pressure.
"End of Trilogy" draws a line under Araki's solo work, distilling her interest in prog rock and kosmische music into short vignettes that push at the boundaries of extreme music. The most obvious comparison would be to Mike Vainio's pioneering analog sound worlds, but Araki's unpredictable intensity isn't cold, nihilist or emotionless - it digs into almost surreal, hedonistic playfulness.
Ultra-minimalist explorations of space, tone and the act of listening itself, from ever-perceptive Angeleño, Richard Chartier (Pinkcourtesyphone), who typically lurks at the threshold of the listening experience.
Appearing one year on from his digital album with longtime accomplice William Basinski, Chartier is left to his own devices here with signature, beguiling results that fascinate the ears as only tends to. The title ‘Interreferences’ succinctly defines his interest in music at its broadest and most specific, with what is perhaps the most enchanting definition of his intentions to “explore the inter-relationships between the spatial nature of sound, silence, focus, perception, and the act of listening itself.” We’re sure that my of you are well aware and appreciative of Chartier’s role as a key modern minimalist, but if you’re new to his work, and/or perhaps growing tired of “ambient” music’s limits, you would do very well to check in here for a portal to other vital planes of atmospheric music.
The six part, hour long work arrives in the wake of the artist’s 50th birthday, and finds him pondering fundamental, even existentialist, questions about his work. “Why these sounds? What is the attraction to these sounds? How did I arrive at these compositions and their placements?” While we haven;t got the answers, we can comment that the purpose and meaning of Chartier’s music, to us at least, still beckons the mind to rarified headspaces, suggesting a slowing or calming of time and expansion of personal space that encourages thoughts to occur in a way so much other music doesn’t. It’s a music of presence and inference that will sound different to each user, and from day to day, and feels like a sort of sacred invisible mountain that one doesn’t climb but rather circles from the base.
Gigi Masin’s 'Plays Hazkara’ album alongside a book that collects introspective stories and intimate lyrics by Mirco Salvadori, choosen among released and unreleased material that he produced in last years.
"Salvadori is well-known for his work as music journalist, as well as active producer for new sonic experiences as co-owner and art director of the indipendent netlabel Laverna. The writings are accompanied by the presentation of his friens Fabrizio Loschi, artist from Modena, coupled with the intense pictures by Stefano Gentile and Monica Testa, and the music themes written and performed by Gigi Masin who, in the enclosed "Harzarà" CD, offers 8 new tracks in the unmistakable style of the Venetian ambient master musician, already coupled together with Mirco Salvadori in InfanToo art project... a sound path that starts from ambient atmospheres to gather rythms and sonorities perfectly lined and interpreted by them, as the images, the intese writing of written. Total music beyond each stylistic cataloguing... pure poetry."
Finnish future jazz eccentric Jimi Tenor collects a bevy of unreleased tracks from his fertile Warp era on this fun, free and funky set.
Between 1993 and 2000, Jimi Tenor was composing and recording music at an alarming rate. His bundle of Warp albums was honored on last year's "NY, Hel, Barca" set, and "Deep Sound Learning" goes deeper, exploring the Finnish multi-instrumentalist's extensive vault of unfinished demos and unreleased material.
Anyone who hear Tenor's classic run with albums like "Organism" and "Out of Nowhere" should know what to expect. Brittle tropicalia, leftfield jazz, sweaty library music funque, eerie Italian giallo vibes and slippery acid house. Tenor inhabits his own universe completely, not lifting music styles but folding them into his peculiar, effervescent and unashamedly passionate celebration of sound.
MFM smoothly shift their frame of Japanese references to the CD era with a clutch of synthesiser jazz, ambient, and genteel Pop strokes including a bounty of Haruomi Hosono productions.
In the works for some years now, ‘Heisei No Oto’ corrals 14 leftfield Japanese pop charms created 1989-1996, charting a pivotal phase when Japan’s music market fully embraced the CD format over vinyl, and which also coincided with both the culmination of Japan’s rapid economic growth during the ‘80s, and the beginning of the Heisei era - marking the reign of Emperor Akihito until his abdication in 2019.
Compiled by MFM’s pals, Eji Taniguchi and Norio Sato of Osaka record stores Revelation Time and Rare Groove, respectively, and including nuggets picked by Chee Shimizu, the set spans those years in the wake of a wave of records that have resurfaced over the past decade thanks to YouTube algorithms; plunging deeper into the warm currents of post-new age and corporate ambient, taking in lilting home-grown jazz, ambient, and pop records of a rare, visionary calibre that have remained overlooked within and outside Japan.
Our ears are drawn to the quiescent FM fantasy of Jun Sato’s ‘Iorang’ at the front, and likewise to the tropical breeze of popstar Yosui Inoue’s ‘Pi Po Pa’, as well as the gossamer vocals and brooding wooze of ‘Nobody’ by Poison Girl Friend, or the steel drum sensuality of ‘Phlanged Vortex’ from Eiki Nonaka; but it’s plainly evident that Japan-o-philes and diggers of all stripes are going to be up to the gills in the good stuff here.
A standout in Chris Abrahams’ (The Necks) catalogue from 2005 returns for a 16th anniversary reissue reminder of its supremely odd organ and DX7 whorls.
Sketched out on his trusty piano, plus a positive organ (small portable organ), and spattered with DX7 scree, ‘Thrown’ is Abrahams 5th solo LP since his landmark debut ‘Piano’ (1985) and sees him veer off at angles from his previous works. It’s far more succinct than its sprawling double disc predecessor ‘Streaming’, and also more explicitly electronic, creating a bewildering tension between physical haptics and digital synthesis that really prizes a strange and surreal sort of sensuality, at times OOBE-like and at others remarkably recalling the pure electronic oddness of another Aussie resident, NYZ (although afaik there’s no tangible links between the two.)
Future-proofed by its unusual combination of tones from archaic and contemporary machines, the tracks variously and brilliantly buckle any timeframe you may chuck at it. ‘Bellicose’ sounds out something like a medieval psychedelia that wouldn’t sound out of place i a scene from ‘A Field In England’, and he really gets us with the reeling keys and subtly keening dissonance of ‘Remembrancer’, while ‘Coins In Vinegar’ could almost be the result of a complex synth system set up and animated by Dave Burrston, and the wickedly zonked drone of ‘Car Park Land’ makes our eyes go funny.
Max Eilbacher sprouts wildly variegated blasts of intensive computer music process for Barcelona’s indomitable Anòmia
The sometime member of Horse Lords has been especially busy in the past 12 months, spraying his material between a GRM split with Lucy Railton, and the likes of Superpang and Ultraviolet Light, run from his native Baltimore, MD.
His eight helpings of digital scree and fractals in ‘Here A Peak, There An Abyss’ were recorded in 2017/18 using prebuilt VST synths, and pay homage to the paintings of French-Swiss architect, writer and deconstructivist Bernard Tschumi. Can’t say i’m familiar with Tschumi’s work, but a cursory look tells us that Eilbacher’s results sonically resemble the oblique masses and angularity of Tschumi’s architectural drawings to many extents, with some real hard nosed computer music fukkkery and frolics between the construction site drills and recursive blatz of ‘EAT’ and the lushly giddy dynamism of ‘CH003.’
It was in Benin City, in the heart of Nigeria, that a new hybrid of intoxicating highlife music known as Edo Funk was born. It first emerged in the late 1970s when a group of musicians began to experiment with different ways of integrating elements from their native Edo culture and fusing them with new sound effects coming from West Africa s night-clubs.
"Unlike the rather polished 1980 s Nigerian disco productions coming out of the international metropolis of Lagos Edo Funk was raw and reduced to its bare minimum. Someone was needed to channel this energy into a distinctive sound and Sir Victor Uwaifo appeared like a mad professor with his Joromi studio. Uwaifo took the skeletal structure of Edo music and relentless began fusing them with synthesizers, electric guitars and 80 s effect racks which resulted in some of the most outstanding Edo recordings ever made.
An explosive spiced up brew with an odd psychedelic note known as Edo Funk. That’s the sound you’ll be discovering in the first volume of the Edo Funk Explosion series which focusses on the genre’s greatest originators; Osayomore Joseph, Akaba Man, and Sir Victor Uwaifo: Osayomore Joseph was one of the first musicians to bring the sound of the flute into the horn-dominated world of highlife, and his skills as a performer made him a fixture on the Lagos scene. When he returned to settle in Benin City in the mid 1970s - at the invitation of the royal family - he devoted himself to the modernisation and electrification of Edo music, using funk and Afro-beat as the building blocks for songs that weren’t afraid to call out government corruption or confront the dark legacy of Nigeria’s colonial past. Akaba Man was the philosopher king of Edo funk. Less overtly political than Osayomore Joseph and less psychedelic than Victor Uwaifo, he found the perfect medium for his message in the trance-like grooves of Edo funk. With pulsating rhythms awash in cosmic synth-fields and lyrics that express a deep personal vision, he found great success at the dawn of the 1980s as one of Benin City’s most persuasive ambassadors of funky highlife. Victor Uwaifo was already a star in Nigeria when he built the legendary Joromi studios in his hometown of Benin City in 1978. Using his unique guitar style as the mediating force between West-African highlife and the traditional rhythms and melodies of Edo music, he had scored several hits in the early seventies, but once he had his own sixteen-track facility he was able to pursue his obsession with the synesthetic possibilities of pure sound, adding squelchy synths, swirling organs and studio effects to hypnotic basslines and raw grooves. Between his own records and his production for other musicians, he quickly established himself as the godfather of Edo funk.
What unites these diverse musicians is their ability to strip funk down to its primal essence and use it as the foundation for their own excursions inward to the heart of Edo culture and outward to the furthest limits of sonic alchemy. The twelve tracks on Edo Funk Explosion Volume 1 pulse with raw inspiration, mixing highlife horns, driving rhythms, day-glo keyboards and tripped-out guitars into a funk experience unlike any other."
Christian Fennesz relays four compelling deep space images from his unique electro-acoustic microcosmos in ‘Agora’, the Viennese artist’s first album since ‘Bécs’ 
Borrowing its title from the ancient greek word for a gathering place, ‘Agora’ finds Fennesz creating highly detailed, alien ecologies of sound riddled with myriad, interlaced dynamics, but each singular in their scope. They variously transition from wide-open to busy, hyper-populated zones of enquiry and back again, but paradoxically enough all come as the result of one man in his spare room, composing inside a pair of headphones.
Change of circumstances meant that Fennesz couldn’t use his usual studio and by necessity was limited to what was at hand in his spare bedroom-turned-studio - just like the old days when he wrote his first record. These limitations pushed him further to explore worlds of possibility contained within his guitar and computer, with drily functional titles such as ‘In My Room’ invoking ideas from both Alvin Lucier and J.G. Ballard to explore vast realms of reverberant, imaginary space, while ‘Rainfall’ feels to emulate a lush spring downpour over bust city streets, all splitting greys and oil and concrete reflection, and ‘Agora’ radiates into every corner of the synthesised soundfield with gloriously detached, isolationist effect, alongside the bittersweet then and coruscating texture of ‘We Trigger The Sun’.
After releasing their 17th album 'Abolition of The Royal Familia' earlier this year, The Orb are back with further guest appearances on their remix album 'Abolition Of The Royal Familia - Guillotine Mixes'.
Including mixes from David Harrow, Moody Boyz, Youth, Violeta Vicci, Andy Falconer and more.
Jangling, mostly instrumental bluegrass and country variations from Chicago-based acoustic guitar maestro Bill MacKay and Durham, North Carolina-based Appalachian folk player Nathan Bowles. Quite lovely!
'Keys' is MacKay and Bowles' debut, and is a plaintive horseback ride into American folk music. Both players have trad chops, and flesh out their playing with virtuoso flourishes giving their music a haze of Fahey-esque experimentation. But this is more melancholy and more immediate than anything Fahey ever meditated on - MacKay and Bowles aren't afraid of scratching the country itch and teasing out a tear or two.
Imagine Bonnie "Prince" Billy covering the "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou!" soundtrack and you'll have some idea of where this one's headed.
'Synopsis Seriation,' Hecker's latest release with Editions Mego, draws upon current research in machine listening and music information retrieval, where the 'ghosts in the machine' are unsupervised, engineered operators designed to extract auditory features from a signal.
"The album advances a general research programme Hecker initiated through various projects. In 'A Script for Machine Synthesis' (EMEGO 226, 2017), the third chapter in the trilogy of text-sound pieces in collaboration with Reza Negarestani, both a resynthesized and a computer-generated voice modelled after the narrators voice, reflect on systems of language, automatons and chimerized synthesis. 'Articulação Sintetico' (EMEGO 180C, 2017) — a complete resynthesis of 'Articulação' (EMEGO 180, 2014) — features synthetic voice models of Joan La Barbara, Sugata Bose and Anna Kohler. Central to 'Inspection II' (EMEGO 268 / UF047, 2019) is a bespoke computer-generated voice, reciting Robin Mackay's libretto — by means of deep neural networks and machine listening computation, perpetually crossing formal anticipations of sound analysis to the unexpected artefacts of synthesis**.
'Synopsis Seriation' does away with such staging of computer-generated speech. It dramatises synthetic sound in all its unnameable intensities and detail by transforming four multichannel pieces Hecker produced since 2015. These have been analysed, dissected and reconstructed utilising information geometry, a subfield of mathematics at the interaction between statistics and differential geometry, designed by Vincent Lostanlen. Similarities and logical segmentation, partly accessible to the human listener, partially exclusive to virtual listening agents, open a dialogue with these spectral operators. Moving between analysis and synthesis, they render audible their intelligence signature, the signal trace of their nonhuman brain-ear, between discriminative and generative models. This newly seriated arrangement of 'Synopsis Seriation' further abstracts and detours the appearance of specific motifs, sequences and characters, into a hallucinatory gaze. Remembrance of what has just been heard, in which formulation and mode of synthesis continually navigate between sensible and highly formulated registers. Resembling George Seurat's perception of the Seine, 'Synopsis Seriation' is a streamlined, structured whole. Yet, by embracing time, succession, and sound as an immaterial, its multitude of auditory perspectives and encoded logic challenges a traditional synoptical overview of analytical architecture and resynthesized sensation."
'Described by Richter as “a place to think”, VOICES was a response to our tempestuous political climate and the enduring need for compassion. VOICES 2 develops this principle, continuing and intensifying the “place to think” concept.
"While the first part of the project focuses on the text of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights and its uplifting vision – opening with the 1949 recording of Eleanor Roosevelt reading the Declaration, and including excerpts read by a global community of 70 voices – VOICES 2 opens up a meditative musical space to consider those ideas raised by the first record,"
Southern gothic shoegaze soul from Sharp Veins, debuting on Andrew Lyster’s YOUTH with a sorely affected album distilling aspects of A.R. Kane, B.o.C, and SALEM with fugged-up bedroom atmospheres in a brittle but tender style.
Finding his place on the Manchester label between Sockethead’s cranky blatz and the smoked-out downstroke of Dijit, ‘Lips The Same Colour’ reveals Sharp Veins’ burned-out soul at its most vulnerable and absorbing. It’s a lushly depressive come-down from the giddy rush of his self-released album ‘Armor Your Actions Up In Quest’ in 2020, and previous excursions on Different Circles and NYC’s UNO, betraying a syrupy emotive core dematerialised in clouds of reverb and harmonised pads, anchored in some of his most disciplined nods to rugged US hip hop drums and emo rap tropes.
In slowing down and opening up his sound to downbeat, pop-wise levels, Sharp Veins comes into his own amid a new wave of artists expressing the melancholy of modern life, with a personalised sound design that says as much as his bleak lyrics and ohrwurming melodies. Everything feels eviscerated and held in suspended animation, attempting to expunge ubiquitous emotions.
Between the numbed doomy tension of ‘Unless’, with its plagent vocal lament, to the gutted cry of “what the f*ck am I doing here?” in ‘Bastard Swarm’, Sharp Veins strikes a nerve on the tinny shimmer of ‘Glue Forest’ and continues under the skin with the B.o.C.-like wooze of album centrepieces ‘Paste 1’ and the Paddy McAloon-on-blues screw of ‘Paste 2’, with a deeply disarming moment to be discovered in ‘A Promise’ and unmistakeable echoes of A.R. Kane on the radiant elegy ‘For Gigi.’
NWW’s 2009 recording resurfaces, backed with Colin Potter’s exclusive new iteration distilled from multiple versions by the band’s visionary synthesist.
‘Cabbalism III’ was the result of NWW meeting Blind Cave Salamander in Venice, where the latter were playing support for them at Teatro Fondamente Nuove.’ NWW thought that Blind Cave Salamander’s set sounded a bit like their classic ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ and suggested recording together. Two years later the final piece was conceived in Turin and the limited edition release quickly turned into a collector’s item. Due to demand the piece is now available again, backed with an extra track made by Colin Potter using sources from all three previous ‘Cabbalism’ recordings, completed at IC Studio, London 2020.
It’s not hard at all to hear how the original ‘Cabbalism III’ resonates with the legendarily spooky presence of ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ - arguably thee blueprint of dark ambient music - and it’s easy to understand how it became a fan favourite. It’s equally apparent that Colin Poter’s new megamix, of sorts, will deeply satisfy those fans’ cravings, too. For 45 minutes the master synth alchemist generates a gloaming cloud system of layered drones and trembling strings tones recalling the heights of Deathprod circa ‘Morals And Dogma’, with imperceptible transitions between unfathomably wide, steep and keening masses of synthesised electronics.
Trust Montreal's anti-capitalist post-rawk heroes to rustle up the ideal soundtrack to global collapse. It's their most charged material in years: raw, deliriously cinematic and rich with serrated urgency.
New albums from Mogwai and Godspeed in a matter of weeks? Is it 1998 again? We're not complaining - this flickering, silvery opus from GY!BE is among their most satisfying sets to date. "G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!" finds the band in an awkward comfort zone, inspired by 2020's pandemic and subsequent global collapse to dust off their shortwave radio and compose a fuzzed-out response to the failure of the state system. It makes a lot of sense; since they debuted with "F♯ A♯ ∞" they've never been quiet about their anti-fascist, anti-corporate, anti-state views. With this in mind, "G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!" is almost a "told ya" moment, or a euphoric apology for decades of prophetic post-rock doom-saying.
Weaved together with crackly snippets of shortwave hum, the album almost begins like John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness" with spine-chillingly indistinct chatter that signals isolation, desperation and media distortion. From there, the band allow their glacial compositions to hiss and crack through each distinct movement. At this stage in their career they have nurtured a rapport that sings as loud as any instrument, and twinned with their timely creative surge this has led to tracks that feel like a distillation of GY!BE's best qualities. The thrumming crescendos, Kraut-fed percussion, thick walls of layered feedback, near-classical compositional care and an unashamedly widescreen grasp of narrative. Godspeed sound heavier, tighter and more vital here than they have in ages. Who else could craft such elegiac, melancholy doom for the end of the world?
Expanded edition of Dots & Loops, Stereolab’s fifth studio album and for our money their best. It was the first Stereolab album to mostly ditch the motorik/Neu! obsessions that had been a trademark since their inception; instead the sound here is dominated by odd time signatures wrapped in electronic, lounge and jazz textures, once again produced by Tortoise maverick John McEntire, with Mouse on Mars taking over duties on three of the tracks to showcase the band's most complex set of recordings to date. Remastered from original tapes, this new expanded edition includes a bonus disk of unreleased demos, outtakes and alternate mixes - which serve to highlight just how great the songs on this album are. Stripped of all the studio trickery, they still hold up - they hold up very well.
22 years old and Dots & Loops still sounds like a defining album of its era. Released in 1997, it found the band’s motorik fascinations upended by mostly electronic, loop-based foundations, in places augmented by echoes of Tropicalia and Sean O’Hagan’s psychedelic Farfisa. It’s an album that’s both exotic and rooted in the everyday detail with which they made their name over the previous decade - with that growing electronic dimension joining dots between their kraut roots, Pharrell /Timbaland and the more complex electronic music of the day typified by Autechre, Aphex, Mouse on Mars and so on.
Recorded in Chicago and Düsseldorf, Dots & Loops bridges a unique American-Euro influence - Bossa Nova and ’60s Euro pop are still major touchstones - imbuing proceedings with a deceptively light feel; while further listens reveal an elaborate work, with almost every track featuring complicated and layered arrangements. “Parsec” is space-rock meets drum and bass; “Brakhage” marries a minor key bass line to clinking vibes and a shuffling beat; the segmented, 20-minute “Refractions in the Plastic Pulse” is sunny and appealing, yet intricately constructed.
The dividing line between the band’s first phase and what would be its more experimental latter period, Dots & Loops is an intricately woven and complex masterpiece that's somehow breezy and evocative, like nothing else.
Rod Modell's Deepchord follows on the 'Hash Bar Loops' session with a more detached serving of 20 washed-out and introspective 'Electroacoustic Soundfields'.
These tracks epitomise Modell at his most intimate and fascinating, using granular synthesis and generative software to unfold his analogue hardware source material and field recordings into ghostly clouds of hiss and morphing bass geometries perfect for late night immersion. Those looking for his signature dub house anchors may be disappointed, but if you've always wanted to hear Rod float off like some metaphysical spirit over nocturnal inner-city nightscapes like something out of Gaspar Noé's 'Enter The Void', this one's for you...
Drummers Lee Buford of The Body and Zac Jones from Braveyoung conjure dubbed out illbient spells from spacy, overdriven breaks on their debut full-length. Proper grotty goodness like We TM, DJ Spooky or I-Sound.
Buford and Jones have been collaborating for years, but "World Vision Perfect Harmony" is their debut as a duo, assembled as a way for the two drummers to explore a shared interest in creative percussion techniques. Illbient is almost the perfect mode, and the two create a deliciously eerie atmosphere, combing their drumming with electronics and blurring the line between live performance and sampling.
Abstracting rhythms that have sat at the root of jungle, no-wave, dub and hip-hop, Manslaughter 777 make a compelling noise that feels surprisingly contemporary. With the resurgence of interest in trip-hop, surely illbient is due a revival some time soon? In the meantime, this is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Hallowed experimental pop-soul sermons that build on 2018's gorgeous, vocal-rich "Soil".
Serpentwithfeet applied a fresh coat of hi-gloss with last album "Soil", enlisting the help of producers like Clams Casino and Tri-Angle labelmate Katie Gately - "Deacon" finds the producer diving into even more personal realms, touching on spiky club forms simultaneously. These songs are soulful musings on serpentwithfeet's emotional world, dedicated to friends and lovers and struck through with feelings that emerge too rarely from contemporary pop. The production is often skeletal - 'Same Size Shoe', for example, is barely more than a kick and snare combo - allowing the complex vocal arrangements to yet again take the spotlight, building in blissful harmonic layers one by one. And by combining a love of gospel music with an implicit understanding of R&B radio pop formula and deep knowledge of experimental ambient music, serpentwithfeet has a winning, idiosyncratic formula. He's basically managed to achieve whatever it is people think James Blake is doing and does so without grandstanding.
'Amir' sounds like an alternate universe 'No Scrubs', all tearful and dense with chopped acoustic guitar and neck snapping '90s R&B production tics. While NAO collaboration 'Heart Storm' finds serpentwithfeet at his most euphoric, fusing choral music with waves of analog synth ambience. Closer 'Fellowship' is the pick of the bunch: a bonafide tearjerker, effortlessly inverting brittle Afrobeats-esque percussion for one of the sweetest musings on friendship we've heard in ages. If "Deacon" doesn't move you at all, you've got a heart of stone honestly. Church music for lovelorn heretics.
Reissue of a cult LP by master Japanese drummer George Otsuka and his quintet, recorded live on 19th July 1975 at the Nemu Jazz Inn.
"A unique time capsule, the album finds the quintet on fire and “Loving You George” is a vivid testimony that Otsuka and his musicians were at the top of their game and one of the best groups in Japan, playing a mix of modal and groovy tunes full of exciting and inspired solos. The album “Loving You George” is comprised of four superb performances fuelled by Otsuka powerful drumming and Fumio Karashima’s fender Rhodes. It also includes a wonderfully funky take on Minnie Riperton’s ‘Loving You’. It comes with original artwork featuring OBI strip and audio remastered from the master tapes by King Records in Japan."
Arch explorer of EVP and paranormal recordings, CMvH is joined by John Duncan, Joachim Nordwall and other members of the Swedish avant fraternity at the opening of his 2018 solo exhibition in Gothenburg
‘INSNITT’ captures 30 minutes of roiling subharmonic frequencies and anxious scrabble made at 3:e Våningen, Gothenburg on September 14th 2018. It arrives over 40 years since his first recordings to witness the Swedish polymath flanked by a coterie of longtime collaborators including Leif Elggren, Jean Louis-Huhta, and Henrik Rylander, plus the aforementioned, charging the air with stressed electronics that resemble the sounds of shearing metal and hi-pitched, whirring mechanicals.
Their massed effect is saturated with sense of hyperrealist psychedelia, appearing to physically keen and lurch in 3D in a way that ultimately makes us feel seasick and rinsed out by the end. Perhaps it’s best recommend to those listeners with strong sea legs and a tolerance for this kind of northerly climate sounds.
Leading Australian contemporary music composer A. Pateras yields a stunning, phantasmic spectralist work for tape and live players, recorded in 2019 at the 17th Sacrum Profanum Festival in Krakow, Poland
‘Pseudacusis’ is the follow-up to Pateras’ work on Sunn 0)))’s ‘Life Metal’ and Judith Hamann’s ‘Music For Cello and Humming’, and features the latter artist among his Tape Septet recordings, which provide the bed for its live performance iteration, here recorded in Krakow’s impressive new arts space, Małopolska Garden of Arts for the festival closely associated with estimable Polish label, Bocian Records.
Reliably helmed by Pateras at his trusted piano, the live septet (Lucio Capece: bass clarinet / soprano saxophone; Krzysztof Guńka: saxophones; Riccardo La Foresta: percussion; Mike Majkowski: double bass; Anthony Pateras: piano; Deborah Walker: cello; Lizzy Welsh: violin) render his strikingly dynamic composition with vigour and precision, found here edited into seven movements.
The results are surreal, febrile, and compelling, sweeping over it’s 50 minute course from frightful string tintinnabulation down concrète wormholes to tracts of glacial stasis and belly-churning dread, with outstanding parts of technically challenging, sustained dissonance and massed, keening orchestration that introduces fractious percussive themes and outlandish electronics. We’ve no doubt it will light up the harder to reach pleasure centres of fans of everyone from Iancu Dumitrescu to Xenakis.