Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto’s soundtrack to Alejandro G Iñárrritu’s The Revenant is one of the most haunting we’ve heard in years. It should be filed in that rarest category - OSTs which are both inseparable from the imagery they drive, and which also stand tall on their own...
Following Iñárrritu’s use of Sakamoto’s music in Babel (2006), the Japanese composer was commissioned to write this full score but, owing to the fact that he was was in recovery from throat cancer, he opted to bring regular collaborator Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto)on board alongside The National’s Bryce Dessner to realise the vast scale of the project.
They’ve doubtless done a sterling job, exemplifying a minimalist mantra of saying-it-without-saying-it where so many other composers tend to erect huge emotive signposts reading “FEEL SAD…. NOW” or “ROOOOMANCE!!!!!”.
Whether frosting Emmanuel Lubezki’s widescreen cinematography with a nail-biting timbre, or looming behind the close-ups on a ravaged Di Caprio, the effect of Sakamoto’s sweeping string gestures and Alva Noto’s electronic auroras is beautifully, subtly intangible yet breathtaking.
Charles Hayward does the bangs and Thurston Moore wrenches a racket from his guitar on this killer free improvisation session documented by UK’s Care In The Community Records.
Recorded at Lynchmob Studios, London, 2nd February 2017, the LP catches the duo stealthily warming up in the neck-snapping breaks and face-eating distortion of the first part, to really step on the gas with the tumultuous sparring session of the 3rd part, then climaxing with some squally helter skelter pelters on the B-side which should snag even the hardest to please fans of This Heat or Sonic Youth.
Members of Total Control and Grass Widow converge a mannered, almost eldritch-tinted style of synth-pop crossing lines with Group Rhoda, John Foxx, Carla Dal Forno, HTRK
“THE GREEN CHILD is the long distance musical collaboration of Mikey Young and Raven Mahon, who met in 2013 when their bands, Total Control and Grass Widow played a show in Oakland, California. They started writing songs together in Australia in 2014 and the project has been on a slow burn since. Their self-titled debut album is the culmination of few years of putting ideas together internationally and periodically recording in Mikey's home studio. Some of the lyrical content and the band's name was inspired by Herbert Read's 1935 utopian, communist, sci-fi novel called The Green Child.
With such a choice name, it's no surprise that The Green Child draw their sound from an illusory past as much as they stalk into pastures new. Broadly retro-futuristic in scope, verdant acres of lushly evocative synthesizers and blippy drum machines underpin most of their upbeat yet decidedly uncanny songs. Raven's calmly scenic and measured vocal flits like a will-o'-the-wisp throughout the tracks, proffering a guiding hand as she walks us through the often eerie, electronic concoctions.
'Traveler' opens the album all redolent, beat-minded and labyrinthine. Twisting melody lines swirl and envelop like a sandstorm, whilst Raven coolly projects on a "solitary man" lost to "green oblivion". Similarly, 'Her Majesty II' glistens with its playful yet plaintive vocal and iridescent arpeggios, whilst 'Bertha' slows things down with tumbling chimes and stately use of space.
The Green Child are adept at atmosphere, their songs are refined from gently unfolding ideas that never fail to realise and build to their potential. Tracks like 'Walking Distance' (featuring Al Montfort on saxophone) and 'New Years Eve' are exercises in evolved composition with ideas budding off and blossoming into truly resonant dimensions. The band's cover of 'Marie Elene' (by Keith Pearson) and closing track 'Destroyer' are further crowning achievements, both pieces subtly handled with poise and ample melancholic grandeur. The Green Child fix their sights on the heights they want to reach within their songs and much like the project itself don't want to rush to the finish line. When it becomes more about the unfurling journey, why not take the time to enjoy the trip and burn slower?”
After their knockout ‘Colón Man’ LP for DDS, Equiknoxx’s balmy ‘Fly Away’ bewt for Swing Ting now cut to 7” and backed with an outstanding new dub displacement exclusive to the B-side, following digital-only issues of the OG and Clean version in spring ’17. No messing, it’s worth it for the Gavsborg Dub alone!
Dem sip a red bull and fly away… Swing Ting catch an absolute belter from their longtime Jamaican fam, Equiknoxx Music ft. Alozade & Gavsborg, following a banner year which saw the crew tour UK, Europe and Japan in the wake of their incredible Bird Sound Power showcase on DDS.
Where Bird Sound Power acted as a retrospective catch up on the last five years or more of Jordan Ching and Gavsborg’s Equiknoxx output, Fly Away - like the Bubble ace snuck out at the end of 2016 - is cut fresh from the block and gives the strongest taste of their rooted but heavily current sound.
It’s a real showstopper; hair-kissing pads and heat-haze organ vamps fake left on the intro before running into mad slippy wine vocalled by veteran deejay Alozade and licked with some of the rudest, roving bass work and pointillist, technoid drums that we’ve heard in the dance of late.
The vibe is self-evident. Massive tip!
A substantial, hugely immersive release from a true drone shaman, 'Cocon & Oiseau De Nuit' is one of our favourite O'Malley releases and is here pressed (in updated form) for the first time on vinyl following a limited cassette release several years ago.
The album was originally created and explored as a thought experiment leading up to O’Malley’s work on SUNN O)))’s Monoliths & Dimensions sessions throughout 2007-2008; those recordings were then revisited and developed fundamentally in 2010 for the initial cassette release and again in 2017 for this vinyl edition.
It's similar in form to his 'Keep An Eye Out' LP for Table Of The Elements and the 'Salt' album for iDEAL, wresting the blackest sub-harmonics and inherent micro-tonal shifts from ultra-minimal guitar technique. The effect is utterly immersive whether experienced on headphones or speakers, saturating your surroundings in scarred and bruising amp feedback below dry, dull clouds of ferric interference.
As the piece evolves O'Malley generates ever-more hypnotic swells of visceral, churned feedback conducted with stoic, instinctive control, flooding the space with abstract shapes and ghostly apparitions.
Great ambient dub techno abstraction from uon, the newest moniker of Ryan Fall aka Caveman LSD and DJ Paradise, following superb pair of releases in the same vein for Barcelona’s Anòmia with this, his debut vinyl release - massively tipped if yr into Rhythm & Sound.
Stalking terrain familiar to Wanda Group, Pole, Xth Réflexion, DeepChord, the zlo EP captures a wickedly paradoxical sense of movement within static sound in four parts: meshing cooling pads with mercurial kinetics in the title cut, and pushing off into opiated, subaquatic zones with kosm, and hypnotically stumbling up/down an endless Escher staircase with the gravity defying dynamics of suB1, and diffusing your bone into deep space on kissing.
Prime material, all 35 minutes of it. Don’t sleep on this beauty!
Burial’s eponymous debut LP is a defining beacon of post-millenium dance and electronic music. Written between 2001-2006, the follow-up to his debut 12” South London Boroughs, further consolidated what were previously mutually exclusive strains of music with unprecedented guile, vision and emotive impact, done to mind-blowing and award-winning effect.
In 2016 it’s easy for folk to forget that prior to this album, aside from a select handful of producers such as Horsepower Productions, El-B or Kode 9, effectively nobody was writing tracks circa 138bpm and using this kind of palette of samples, textures and spaces to the same ends as Will Bevan, a.k.a. Burial. And still, even fewer of them were writing without the dancefloor or radio squarely in mind.
Enter Burial, whose impressionistic, unquantized soundscapes reset the neuroses of Teebee and Bad Company’s neo-D&B with a romance and swing better associated with Steve Gurley and El-B, whilst also listening to and channelling the atmosphere of his environment in a way better likened to the spaces explored by Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound, but animated like a Massive Attack album produced and collaged by Chris Watson; albeit a Watson raised in suburban British sprawl and smoky bedrooms playing tense computer games and watching classic anime and thrillers on VHS, or whatever obscure foreign flicks Channel 4 had on late at night.
Honestly, nowadays that period seems eons away - especially in light of streaming services where you can find thee most obscure art at the touch of keyboard - but back on original release, this record nailed an atmosphere, even a lifestyle, that was lived by many souls on the peripheries who couldn’t be arsed with the menu offered by provincial high street clubs or cable TV, or a culture artificially inflated by major labels and the media.
It almost feels daft and futile trying to explain this to anyone under the age of 30 - or those cold hearted cynics who roll their eyes at the mere mention of his name - but, quite honestly Burial’s music nailed the vibe so heavily that it felt like déjà vu, uncannily weaving together the disparate strands of culture that meant so much to the artist, and by turns, us the listeners.
There are still tonnes of naysayers, but fuck ‘em - Burial’s music is hugely danceable and mixable by the right DJs, but there’s no denying that it probably sounds best in bedrooms or headphones where you can give it your full attention, or vice versa.
Despite the temporal dislocation, the 2007 smoking ban, and the sign-posted, rictus rigidity of too much modern dance music, we’d still love to think there’s a whole new generation out there who will get and love this record as hard as we did, and do.
An excellent Arvo Pärt primer...
"Arvo Pärt creates music of deceptive simplicity, and listening to his work can be a transformative experience. Imagine taking your ears on a retreat, and you’re some way to understanding why his work is so popular.
The Estonian composer underwent his own transformation in the 1970s, having explored dense avant-garde music in the early part of his career. He put himself through an eight-year creative exile, and emerged with a new, purer voice. The Arvo Pärt that many people are devoted to today (including R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Björk) creates music that cleanses. A sonic detox."
Pendant is the artist formerly known as Huerco S, and this is the debut release on his new label West Mineral Ltd, following on from his acclaimed ‘For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)’ album.
The artist sometimes known as Huerco S. ushers a phase shift of sound on the shoegazing harmonic gauze of Make Me Know You Sweet, his immersive debut proper under the Pendant alias. In this horizontal mode he relays abstract stories from a headspace beyond the dance, placing his interests in the Romantic landscapes of JMW Turner, Robert Ashley’s avant-garde enigmas, and Indigenous North American philosophy at the service of a more expressive, oneiric sound that sub/consciously avoids the trapfalls of ‘chillout’ ambient cliché.
Across seven amorphous, texturally detailed tracks he establishes far reaching coordinates for both Pendant and the West Mineral label, which aims to release everything except commonly accepted, traditional forms of late 20th/early 21st century dance music, while also representing the work of his inner circle of friends, producers and artists. In that sense there’s a definite feeling of “no place like home” to his new work, but that home appears altered, much in the same way The Caretaker/Leyland Kirby deals with themes of memory and nostalgia.
It’s best described as mid-ground music, as opposed to the putative background purpose of Ambient styles, or the upfront physicality of dance music. Rather, the sound here billows and unfurls with a paradoxically static chaos, occupying and lurking a space between the eyes and ears in a way that’s not necessarily comforting, and feels to question the nature and relevance of ubiquitous pastoral, new age tropes in the modern era of uncertainty and disingenuity.
The results ponder an impressionistic, romantically ambiguous simulacra of reel life worries and anxiety, feeling at once dense and impending yet without centre. From the keening, 11 minute swell of VVQ-SSJ at the album’s prow, to the similar scope of its closer, Pendant presents an absorbing vessel for introspection, modulating the listener’s depth perception and moderating our intimacy with an elemental push and pull between the curdling, bittersweet froth of BBN-UWZ, the dusky obfuscation of IBX-BZC and, in the supremely evocative play of phosphorescing light and seductive darkness in the mottled depths of KVL-LWQ, which also benefits from additional production by Pontiac Streator.
Make Me Know You Sweet taps into a latent, esoteric vein of American spirituality that’s always been there, yet is only divined by those who remain open-minded to its effect.
Metro Area’s seminal, eponymous debut album of disco resuscitations struts back onto the scene for a 15th anniversary edition, having lost none of its lustre over the interim years.
Morgan Geist has been releasing records for years on numerous labels such as Metamorphic, Clear, and his own Environ imprint, hitting gold with the future-disco purpose built for his Metro Area label.
For a taste of the funk, head for ‘Miura’ with it’s handclap beats and accapella samples enhancing the good side of the 70’s dance craze, but with no brass section in sight. Synth’s galore and floor bound grooves litter the LP and it runs superbly as an album, but also as single tracks, hence the poularity of the 12”s.
Mumdance, Logos and Shapednoise remerge The Sprawl for a banging, incendiary second EP in their trilogy inspired by William Gibson’s Neuromancer - the 1984 sci-fi novel which uncannily presaged The Internet and aspects of AI which have since morphed from fiction into reality.
EP2 is about ‘Data Flow’ and thus catches the trio in flux between flashbacks of noise as information overload and brutalist techno chronics seeming to emulate the sensory obliteration of full frontal temporal sickness.
Each producer’s individual characteristics are parsed and consolidated in a fractious transfer of energies, placing themselves as cybernetic semiconductors in a quantum network of emerging AI consciousness, pooling corrupted memory banks of physical and pharmaceutical ecstasy, excess and synaptic muscle memory to manifest premonitory visions of future hardcore rave as hyperstitious, viscerally IRL.
The A-side picks up directly from EP1 with the invasive strategies of Burning Chrome - so titled in reference to Gibson’s short story which first coined the term “cyberspace” - fulminating pure sound designer noise in bruxist shockwaves punctuated by lush pads, before the cyberpunk terror of Black I.C.E. hacks into the nervous system with sickening, arrhythmic dynamic, strung out between chest bursting ecstasy and stomach churning panic.
That’s all seemingly in preparation for X System, a 150bpm bunker breaker lodged on the B-side with a cold fusion of lamping bass drum and slithering plasmic timbres sounding like some Dutch or NYC ‘90s techno bomb dialled in via a faulty ISDN connection, which makes for a stark contrast with the emotive pathos of Online Seance, a searingly transcendent vision of cinematic synth noise modelled on occult hivemind behaviours and redolent of moments from Leyland Kirby’s Intrigue & Stuff volumes.
Les Disques du Crepuscule presents an expanded edition of classic festive album Ghosts of Christmas Past, featuring favourites from the original 1981 and 1982 editions now joined by newer tracks by Crepuscule artists.
"Sometimes witty, sometimes melancholic, the original version of Ghosts of Christmas Past in November 1981 featured exclusive contributions from luminaries such as Tuxedomoon, The Durutti Column, Paul Haig, Michael Nyman, Aztec Camera, Thick Pigeon and The Names. Subsequent editions in 1982 and 1986 added songs by Antena, Mikado, The French Impressionists, Pale Fountains and Winston Tong.
For this new double CD version in 2015 Crepuscule have now added more chantons noel by Blaine L. Reininger, Section 25, The Wake, Marsheaux, Deux Filles, Stanton Miranda, Virna Lindt, B Music and Ultramarine.
“Crepuscule's Christmas cracker is here to rescue the festive season from the fogies and bores"(Melody Maker); "Aztec Camera's Hot Club of Christ is a busy, Django-esque run through a few well-known Christmas ditties, Michael Nyman's Cream or Christians is a silly but loveable fragmented organ collage in a typical English eccentric tradition, Tuxedomoon are in playful Residential mood” (NME)
Cover art by Jean-Francois Octave.
TGF’s End Of Times in Dub style, rendering their single’s title cut in a trio of alternate versions:
A radiant Golden Dub with eccie-triggering harmonic swells; the uptempo Silver Dub for peak dark room times; and a stark Drone-Apella featuring a cold but sensuous Penelope Trappes vocal for the cannier DJ and mindful dancer.
Tune-Yards counters her heavy lyrical subject matter with beats designed to make you dance
“I can feel you creep into my private life is Tune-Yards' fourth album. Thematically, the twelve new songs tackle race, politics, intersectional feminism and environmental prophecies head on. But in the billows of intense subject matter, the album arrives as Tune-Yards’ most immediate and upbeat music yet – this is music to dance to.
On I can feel you creep into my private life, Tune-Yards is officially a duo. Garbus is joined by long-time collaborator Nate Brenner who produced and wrote the album together with lyrics by Garbus. Tune-Yards worked with a mixer Mikaelin “Blue” Bluespruce (Solange, Kendrick Lamar). Much of the album was recorded at Tiny Telephone Oakland, in Oakland, CA and mastered in Harlem, NY by Dave Kutch (Jay-Z, Chance the Rapper).”
The Lasry Baschet duo’s pioneering mechanical instruments come to life on a reissue of their 1957 debut 7”, newly dispatched just over 60 years since release. Sounds remarkably electronic, but entirely made with acoustic means - glass rods, balloons, wet bows and metal sheets
“As a truly indispensable bookend to any listeners with the slightest interest in experimental music, French culture or the foundations of mechanical songwriting this inaugural release by these Parisian musical revolutionaries not only predicts the future sound of modern composition by almost 60 years but detangles the deepest roots of European popular culture celebrating an important historical family unison in the process. Combining the infant steps of Magma, the sonic blueprint of 1970’s TV theme Picture Box and the sculptural creations of Polly Maggoo this important and groundbreaking 3 track 7” EP takes us back to the very first aural glimpse of the future of pregressive Europe at the hands of physical sound sculptures glaring in the face of premature technology.
This EP and its varied three-pronged assault is the first step in the legacy of the Lasry Baschet unison uniting the husband and wife team of Jacques and Yvonne Lasry plus their son Teddy (who would later create Magma with Christian Vander) and hard material sculptors François and Bernard Baschet (who would later work with William Klein). It was this creative unison between visual art and experimental music, witnessing the Lasry family exchange their orthodox music skills in favour of crystal rods, balloons, wet bows and metal sheets, that would potentially change the course of European music which was already on the extreme verge of electrocution with the rise of tape music and embryonic synthesised instrumentation.
Promoting the phrase Instruments Non-électroniques (as celebrated on the sleeve of the Cacophonic full-length release 11CACKLP) the Lasry-Baschet collective’s humanistic music (an attitude upheld by composers like Michel Magne) would later spark the imagination of Jean Cocteau leading to installations at the Museum Of Modern Art leading to a huge shift in the way people approached experimental melodic music alongside the efforts of Harry Partch and other music machine makers. The appropriation of their music in art, theatre, ballet, film and television came closest to UK shores when their composition Manège was used as the long running theme for the children’s TV compendium Picture Box spanning three decades (rivalling both The Moomins and The Booktower for the most indelible and nostalgic spooky theme tunes in the history of British TV) by which time Teddy Lasry had independently become one of France’s most creative instrumental composers of all time.”
Heralding his ‘Yous’ album, Irish song-writer David Kitt (New Jackson, Tindersticks) rustles up a mixed bag of sleepy indie-pop-folk, krautrock electronics and psyched ambient downbeats on his latest for Dublin’s All City Records. RIYL Jose Gonzales, James Holden
“Describing his first solo record for nine years as “the most free I’ve felt making a record since my debut Small Moments”, David Kitt’s sense of freedom is bound up in themes of renewal, movement, and a constant reshaping of his musical preoccupations.
The last number of years have seen him touring and recording as a member of Tindersticks, producing other musicians’ work, exploring techno, disco, and house under his New Jackson moniker, remixing everyone from Shit Robot to The XX, and producing intriguing, eclectic DJ sets and radio shows.”
Necessary 1st vinyl edition of Laraaji’s 1984 new age devotional suite. Effectively gospel soul in the key of Om, written and performed on Casio keyboards, depending on your disposition it’s either worthy of comparison with Arthur Russell, or an extended Tim and Eric sketch. Take your pick…
“Vision Songs Vol. 1 (1984) is the LARAAJI album like no other, located at the intersection of new age and gospel, his outlier and magnum opus, the feel-good DIY tape of the century. Casio synth jams recorded at spiritual retreat guest rooms and a tiny bedroom on the Upper West Side, lysergically-spectacular anthems for a continually arriving new moment. “Channeled from the sky,” humbly offered as digital download for the first time, this is where this is going on, this is where this is taking place, this is how this is going on. Is this very clear?”
The Rapture’s rhythm section break away on a hi-velocity cosmic disco mission for The Ran$om Note. Hang on to your garys, this one’s got some serious thrust…
“Mother of Mars is the latest evolution of Vita & Druzzi, two New Yorkers who have provided the 21st century with some of its most innovative dance music. The duo first came to fame as the rhythmic backbone of The Rapture, NYC pioneers who found global fame with their angular post-punk and howling disco. Since then Vito & Druzzi have had a prolific career as remixers and producers, producing leftfield disco killers for a range of labels including Warp and Throne of Blood.
Their first release as Mother of Mars sees the duo fuse live krautrock drums with pulsating synth loops, creating two epics of space and rhythm that owe a debt to ‘70s kosmische pioneers like Tangerine Dream and are receiving support from the likes of Andrew Weatherall, Trevor Jackson and Francis Inferno Orchestra.”
‘The House’ is the third full-length album from New York musician Porches (aka Aaron Maine).
"The 14-song affair features contributions from (Sandy) Alex G, Dev Hynes, Okay Kaya, Maya Laner (True Blue), Bryndon Cook (Starchild & The New Romantic), Cameron Wisch (Cende) and Maine’s own father Peter Maine.
‘The House’ was written and recorded over an 18- month stretch, immediately following the completion of Porches’ breakthrough record ‘Pool’. Taking a diary-like approach, Aaron documents a period of time through the 14 gorgeous songs on this record."
Optimistic krautrock and balearic vibes featuring drum programming by Manual and Causa Sui’s Jonas Munk
“Nicklas Sørensen's second solo effort away from his main stint as guitar player in Papir is a more placid, blissful listen than his first solo venture from 2016. On this set Nicklas digs deep into his love for vintage new age music, Brazilian bossa nova and the electronic side of kosmische, while still paying homage to the guitar heroes that has shaped his playing throughout the years, such as Vini Reilly, Manuel Göttsching and Michael Rother.
Produced in collaboration with Causa Sui- and El Paraiso in-house maestro Jonas Munk in his Odense studio, the pair have conjured a set of tracks that are blistering and euphoric, yet relaxed and solemn. Sørensen's unique guitar sound, in combination with warm blankets of analog synths, vibrating filters and the occasional drum machine, paints colourful soundscapes that mediates the soul with both the ethos of new age and hints of classical minimalism and modern composition. Experimentation is at the heart of Sørensen's modus operandi, but he never forgets to keep his melodic guitar leads central to the proceedings.
In these times – with the world's absurdity reaching new levels daily – no one should feel ashamed about leaving the world behind, slowing down for a while, and seek a state where one can emancipate oneself from reality. Chilling out simply cannot be reduced to the guilty pleasure it once was, and the album's B-side is unashamedly immersive - with Munk wrapping bubbly analog synths sequences around Sørensen's guitar loop patterns and panoramic slide guitars. The album ends on Sørensen's most inward-travelling note yet, bathing expressive guitar lines in a tender ocean of processing and reverb. Get that incense burning!
Nicklas Sørensen is one of those artists who manages to filter ideas from the past through a modern, personal vision. ”Solo 2” is a piece of music for the present.”
Expansive new opus by one of the world’s leading film soundtrack composers...
“Cycles 7-16 is a natural progression from Matt Dunkley’s deubt solo album, Six Cycles, released on Village Green in 2016. Like the debut, it was recorded in Berlin with the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg. With this album, however, Matt pushed himself further, expanding his writing horizons.
As well as being almost double the length, this album boasts a broader sonic palette than its predecessor, such as the full symphony orchestra on ‘Cycle 12’ or the seven solo pianos used on ‘Cycle 14’. On others, Matt returns to his classical roots, using a string chamber orchestra on ‘Cycle 11’ and ‘Cycle 16’.
Touring and travelling over the last two years, influences arose from spending time in different cities and places. The wintry, tense ‘Cycle 7’ was inspired by an early morning in Berlin, while ‘Cycle 15’ was written whilst on a conducting trip to Norway.”
NYC Puerto Rican artist Joe Claussell commits a serpentine remix of Yambú to Gilles Peterson’s Brownwood, weaving Daymé Arocena’s commanding Cuban vocal to free-flowing latinate percussion and subtle dubbing in his mutli-part, 9 minute Sacred Rhythm Mix, so titled after his club events and label of the same name.
Hanz rakes over vintage hip hop, post punk and industrial ground with a cineaste’s eye to locate new mutations in the undergrowth of Plasty I, the North Carolina, US artist’s follow-up to the Reducer  LP for Tri Angle.
Lodging somewhere between the ears of BAT, a lo-fi MBM and the asymmetric designs of Co La, Plasty I breaks down to a ruffcut patchwork of processed and sawn-off samples wrapped up in dream-like electronic atmospheres and laced with a trippy experimental edge.
It’s pretty much a 2017 answer to the more frayed fringes of UK trip hop and NYC illbient vibes.
Maudlin post punk influences swaddled in hyaline, brambly electronics. One for grey days with loads of rollies
"Circuit Breaker are a band split in half. On the one hand, there is the jagged guitar and maudlin singing of Peter Simpson, which slots into the lineage of expansive and gothic punk ala Killing Joke , Bauhaus , Wire ,etc. Pushing against it is the production approach of his brother Edward. Washes of glassy FM Synth melodies are counterbalanced with bursts of electronic harshness, recalling artists such as Autechre & Pan Sonic. “Hands Return To Shake” is the second full length from the London based group and also their second release for longstanding outlier label Harbinger Sound.
Moving on from the previous record, “My Descent Into Capital”, “Hands Return…” is a much more personal and emotive work. Simultaneously a re-affirmation and a deconstruction of influences, the orthodoxies of minimal-synth and post-punk are stretched and squeezed to breaking point. Circuit Breaker are a band who relish in holding together contradictions. Both a rock band and an electronic act , they have a blunt and direct production approach which, nether-the-less, is full of technical detail. ‘Hands Return To Shake’ will likely win them fans from a vast array of genres, from Industrial-Rock to IDM and everything in-between, providing it is dark, synthetic and angular.”
Hidden Operator and Samo DJ indulge a rugged digi dub session on Kings Chamber
Four wonky dancehall sidewinders ranging from natty acid dub and Skweee-like bumps to ruddier dancehall mutation with sloshing tablas, and one wicked bit sounding like late ‘90s Lenky productions.
Funked-up, colourful Detroit electro, acid and house styles from Amsterdam’s Tom Ruijg aka Tracey, back on Voyage Direct to prove his 2017 debut, the Skyfall EP was no fluke.
While titled after a fine bit of Italian engineering, the Testarossa EP is patently indebted to 313 mechanics, with four tracks nodding firmly in the direction of Drexciya (Testarossa), Omar S (Sidekick), Juan and Derrick (Made My Love), and the Keith Tucker-Ultradyne-Stringray electro axis (Interceptor).
Second in an EP trilogy that will culminate with a compilation CD and a limited edition vinyl box set containing all three EPs
"Harkening back to their 1997 release of three consecutive EPs (Dog On Wheels, Lazy Line Painter Jane, and 3.. 6.. 9 Seconds Of Light), Belle and Sebastian will release three new EPs under the umbrella title How To Solve Our Human Problems, with the first EP coming out on December 8th, the second on January 19th, and the third on February 16th"
Prepare to be swept off your clogs for a 2nd time by Norwegian drummer Thomas Strønen’s Time Is A Blind Guide contemporary jazz ensemble with sophomore side Lucus; here including Lucy Railton (Cello), Thomas Strønen (Drums), Håkon Aase (Violin), and Ole Morten Vågan (double bass), and now joined by Japanese improvisor Ai Tanaka (Piano) for a more free-flowing, open follow-up to the group’s eponymous 2015 debut, which was also released by ECM.
Recorded in the responsive acoustics of Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo in March 2017, Lucus renders a gravity-defying dialogue between virtuosic instrumentalists hingeing around band-leader Strønen’s finely honed spatial sensitivities and proprioceptions, and propelled in fluid, elastic form by the rhythmic engine of Strønen’s drums with Vågan’s Double Bass.
Around that amorphous locus, the group weave a precisely elusive web of gestures, coolly adapting the language, recording techniques and devices of classical music at the service of a much freer style nodding at spiritual jazz’s elemental orchestrations, and suitably, beautifully suspended in-the-mix by Manfred Eicher’s exquisite production. It’s worth noting that that production is a prime example of what contemporary electronic producers are now calling ‘weightless’ - that is to say, a music leavened of its anchors and inducing a feeling or intent common to both ecstatic dance music, Jazz, and classical styles, rather than rote stomp or walls of sound.
Between the tempered upward lifts of Release, Strønen’s percolated prompts in Lucus, the swooning syncopations and playful dabs of Wednesday, and the optimistic stretch of Weekend which brings the LP to a close, you’re in the presence of some delightfully light-hearted but never throw-away music.
At bleedin’ last, Cosey Fanni Tutti’s legendary solo album, Time To Tell  sees a proper, if edited, official vinyl reissue - MAGAZINE INCLUDED! - on her and Chris Carter’s Conspiracy International label. In fact, with Cosey’s utterly mind-blowing autobiography, Art Sex Music now in circulation, putting history to rights and stoking febrile interest around her inspirational, nonpareil oeuvre, the timing could hardly be any better to reissue her most sought-after and inarguably definitive solo release.
First issued on tape in 1983, some years after the initial demise of Throbbing Gristle and the start of of Chris & Cosey, and just prior to the emergence of their multimedia CTI alias, Time To Tell documents Hull’s greatest daughter, Christine Carol Newby aka Cosey Fanni Tutti, ‘fessing all about her long-running art praxis involving a deep penetration of the British sex industry - from nude modelling to striptease and transgressive performance art - all set to her signature, exploratory electronic sculptures and drily angelic delivery.
For this hugely important reissue of Cosey’s only solo record (yep, only!), she worked with husband and creative partner Chris Carter to edit the original two track release, trimming down some of the longer parts to optimise audio fidelity, and also incorporating The Secret Touch which was included on the Time To Tell (Special Edition) CD release in 1993/2000.
Thus the release spies three distinct strands or aspects of Cosey’s sound. The first, longest and most comprehensive is the LP’s title track, which, as far as we can tell, appears in a slightly abridged version, but still ties up all her key sonic themes, from pulsing, sensuous synths, sky-licking guitars and brittle drum machines to her achingly seductive Yorkshire accent, drily recounting her experiences and inside/out perspective in the sex industry. Tell us this isn’t one of the most alluring 20 minutes of the ‘80s ever recorded, and we’ll tell you to do one.
Ritual Awakening comes on the B-side. Here the drum machine drops away and Cosey’s hushed vocals take a new, diaphanous form, refracted in a diamond-cut prism of electronics with near-cinematic strings, feeling out unreachable edges of the lushest void. Then we’re stranded in The Secret Touch, where her sallow synth strokes hint at an aquarian sort of new age, melding with reverberating, Denny-esque guitar against an unfathomable backdrop of possible field recordings and almost raga-like drones on her signature Cornet.
We could hammer on about this one all day, but suffice it to say: this is a totally essential purchase!
Mississippi Records furnish a very necessary follow-up to Emahoy Tsegué-Mariam Guèbru’s Spielt Eigene Kompositionen with the eponymous Emahoy Tsegué-Mariam Guèbru including the remaining eleven pieces from her Éthiopiques 21: Piano Solo CD.
Beloved of almost anyone who has heard her meandering, rhythmically complex piano meditations, Emahoy’s music feels like she’s channelling gestures and sensations from another dimension, which probably makes sense when you consider that she was ordained a nun at age 19, before subsequently studying the sacred music of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and eventually fleeing to the Ethiopian Monastery of Jerusalem because of a conflict between her beliefs and the marxist regime of dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam.
There is no pretension or conceit to Emahoy’s style; it is beautifully vibrant yet melancholy, comparable with the most affective American Blues yet, still, far out on its own plane of musical perception.
One to cherish.
Belter compilation of Arabic hip-house from late ‘80s Paris, courtesy the archive of Shams Dinn, as revealed to the world at large by new American label, Smiling C. If you’re into any form of late ‘80s electronic dance music, you need to hear this one!
What started out as an effort to reissue Shams Dinn’s only known release, Hedi Bled Noum, has flourished into this full compilation featuring seven tracks spanning three distinct eras of Shams’ career, which combined a deep knowledge of Sufi meditation (his grandfather was a Sufi master) with some of the earliest examples of rapping in Arabic that we’ve ever heard, at the least.
The production is natty and funky as fxck, highly comparable with lots of Belgian New Beat and the concurrent Euro House phenomenon as much as American house and boogie of the era, but clearly the one difference is the bloke rapping in Arabic! It’s maybe more common now, but back then Arabic influences weren’t much deeper than pasted-on samples used to spice up house tracks, but this guy has totally adapted to suit the style, and it works so well.
Friday Dunard proves a smart candidate for the misfits of Magazine with his ‘vocal trance’ session Gerade following from outings for local Kölnisch labels, Syff and Verein Freier Menschen und Musik, in the last few years.
The vibe is trapped somewhere between avant-garde composition, late ‘80s/early ‘90s Goa raves and the parallel dimensions of modern club music, starting out in the conservatory with Dunard’s blooming vocal and synth mantra Eine Gerade, then getting down to business with the sleek, drivingly hypnotic synthlines and sand-trample stomp of Keine Gerade, uniquely laced with Schwitters-esque gibber.
Flip it over for a stripped down Keine Gerade (Drum Tool) focussed on the expressively daft vocals and a swollen, slompy jack beat, before Tsintener goes on like some Gabi Delgado EBM/techno production, all taut, muscular and rolling arpeggios yoked to swaggering drums.
L.A.’s Bana Haffar joins Surachai’s modular synth label Make Noise Records - home to slabs by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Alessandro Cortini - with her two sides of complex, blossoming hyaline structures.
Clearly holding her own among the heavyweights who’ve already released on the series, especially when considering this is only her 2nd release, Bana yields an impressively controlled display of control on Endo, roiling from dense waves of viscous, guitar-like inharmonic distortion giving way to brighter, increasingly rapid and expanding frequencies with breathtaking impact and celestial scope.
On the other hand, Exo is literally and metaphorically the A-side’s inverse, as she uses the Make Noise Modular Synth to render cavernous spatial parameters embedded with precise, pointillist bleep flux and alien vocal processing at its core, precipitating a vividly colourful flush of harmonic chaos.
IVVVO conveys intense emotions in Prince of Grunge, leading on from Good, Bad, Baby, Horny with Rabit’s Halcyon Veil with a visceral suite that “explores conflicting truths and accounts of depression, social anxiety and fear in the name of progress” for NYX Unchained, a new label and event series based in London.
The Portuguese producer has picked a thorny and ubiquitously topical subject for examination, effectively tending to the psychological flipside of his favourite subject; Rave culture, its unfulfilled dreams, and the possible after-effects of toxic excess.
Where grunge emerged as dissatisfaction with the cheesiness and mainstream role of ‘80s stadium rock, we can take his Prince of Grunge mantle as metaphor for a unhappiness with modern rave culture and its rote rituals, and the perceived distance between the original object and subjective, contemporary iterations.
in six succinct pieces he trawls subcultural ephemera from black metal to hardstyle and mutant electronica, framing a blistering reverie or elegy for unity and self-expression in a crowd that takes in the unheimlich entry of Born, with its wailing baby and acid rain tones, alongside the screeching chorales and hardstyle peaks of Until I Die. With Prince of Grunge he inverts trance breakdowns somewhere closer to a black metal intro, and V convulses classical piano arpeggios in a techno panic, before the thought broadcasting intimations of I Don’t Know, and finishing on something like a Xyn Cabal track, or Lorenzo Senni reworked by Naked in the bittersweet trance blooz ov Fantasy.
Four Tet and Jamie XX remixes of The XX, limited vinyl only.
Jamie xx gives On Hold an uptempo french-touch house remix. Four Tet reworks A Violent Noise with a tech-house canter ready for the big room gymkhana. Tally ho.
A superb work of recondite sonic fiction, Blade Jogger is the palpably clammy tale of an erstwhile Salford doorman with a taste for ‘SWENDAB’ - a new drug of potent psychotomimetic efficacy - set to a backdrop of Brexit bruxism. Conjured by author and artistic director of The White Hotel, Austin Collings (Renegade: The Lives at Tales of Mark E. Smith & The Myth Brilliant Summers), narrated by James Stannage, and set to a synthesised score by Bill Ryder-Jones (The Coral) and By The Sea. Think Anthony Burgess meets Savoy with sound by Martin Hannett in Delian mode. The White Hotel’s shadow looms large over proceedings. Jog on…
“The place is England: a horrible electronic slum. The time is 22 minutes and 11 seconds into the future. A new drug - SWENDAB - is doing the rounds, sending everybody round the bend - as per. And as ever, here in this ‘less-than-United-Kingdom’, the rain must fall continuously. (It’s a wonder we haven’t all rusted by now.)
Rebelling against the drudgery of his surroundings, trapped inside his own fragile psyche - with no map nor money - meet GAZ-15: ex-bouncer/ex-lover/full-time-fuck-up.
Tonight, like every other night, he will go AWOL, lost in ‘the hallways of always’ of another SWENDAB-binge, searching for a meaning he knows he will never find. All those memories leaking into the eternal drainpipe. What a monster he’s made of himself. Not quite human. Oh to be a clone of others.
Evoking the underbelly of urban life, along with an even darker and deeper spiritual dimension, this bleakly-comic and moving musical collaboration between writer Austin Collings (Renegade: The Lives & Tales of Mark E Smith & The Myth of Brilliant Summers) and By The Sea, is Blade Runner re-written and re-scored by two steam-punks waiting to see their Jobseekers’s contact, or Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape soundtracked by Delia Derbyshire, or simply War of the Words - a 22-minutes and 11 seconds ‘single’ that summons a feeling of medicated drift, of hearing beautiful sounds through some kind of filter, as time collapses in on itself.”
Redshape cuts rug with swaggering style via the razor cut but splashy drums and pendulous bass work of Blink
Strongly owing to an enduring passion for the hi-tek funk of original Chicago and Detroit house and techno, whereas the Blink (Tunnel Mix) is a dedication to the Tunnel Club in Paris, and works to a more linear, sexy sort of Franco-Teutonic darkness.
Mississippi Records make Marisa Anderson’s woozily enchanting instrumental solo guitar suite Traditional and Public Domain Songs available again on vinyl.
Packing two new pieces that were on the CD release but not the original LP, namely the Portland artist’s takes on Amazing Grace and Bread and Roses - a must for any followers of solo desert blues from Earth to Sun City Girls!
Limber jazz house mini-LP from Italy’s Nicholas
Following a fine line of jazzy deep house from the warm Rhodes keys and woozy sax melt of Lonnie’s Reprise at the front, thru the rolling percussive hustle of Dhalia and the moody blue bumps of Rara Lake, to the paste-on spiritual sample of Answer and show-off latin fusion flex in Resolution feat. keys by Paul Cut.
True Detroit original Marcellus Pittman (3 Chairs, Rotating Assembly) makes up for his radio silence since 2014 with two twysts on bustling, tracky jackers templates dispensed thru his Unirhythm label.
One of those 313 cats who hears jazz, house and techno as indivisible aspects of the same thing, Pittman puts that style into practice with the crafty as fuck, off-the-cuff drum machine and bassline calculations of Revenge For Nothing, juicing his groove to death with wicked stop-start patterns and sparing FX that sounds something like Larry Heard caught in a tumble dryer with Beatrice Dillon.
With Red Dogon Star on the B-side Pittman pushes a wonkier, spaced-out permutation of Afro-cubist house, synching inimitably grubbing acid bass and percolated drums in hypnotic pattern gilded with golden synth pads. A subtle masterclass in minimalist efficiency with body ready results.
Nous prove their undeniable knack at picking out new talent with this six track showcase introducing Ayln, D104, Agxp, Gaunt, Sweat, and Dreams to their rarified fold, with many making their debut on record.
Make sure to check it for those debuts, particularly Agxp’s tentative first outing on the weightless acid stepper Spells, and likewise Gaunt with the trippy space techno mission Univers Univers, while Sweat also give a cool account of themselves with the rolling techno chassis of Shalbatana, and Dreams follow their nose down druggily hypnotic house ginnels.
The spiralling arps and faulty techno thrusters of Alyn’s Translinguistics and D104 rogue, thuggish Muta are cool, too.
Synkro diversifies his bonds into blue half step and downtempo modes on Hand In Hand
Sweetly exercising his signature melancholic touch between the pastoral flutes and half step sway of Vanishing Point, the slow-motion Chuck Person/0PN vibes of Hand In Hand for chromatic sunset washes, and Burial-esque senhsucht in red Sky.
Proper Italo-boogie peacockery from Tuffcitykid Philip Lauer on the A-side’s acid-etched roller Arumba, and the preening ace Prosito
Backed with The Golden Filter on a fidgety electro tip with Aya, and muscular, haughty house in Black Spray.
Psychoactive disco smarts from Sweden via Amsterdam:
Daniel Fagerström (The Skull Defekts, Altar of Flies) and Luciano Leiva (Jackpot, Puppetmasters) cook up a viscous disco stew from classic analg synths such as TR-909, Waldorf Microwave, Yamaha DX7, Roland Juno-60 and Akai MPC, all primed for cosmic high times. Imagine Klaus Schulze in a sauna with Patrick Cowley. It’s bound to get sticky.
London’s K15 turns on the funk for Eglo with an infectious hustle in his foolow-up to 12”s for Kyle Hall’s Wild Oats and a Mr. G link-up.
Classically rooted in latin, jazz, house and soul in the same way as late ‘90s broken beat, the EP turns out three gems between the heads-down bustle and glyde of Sunbeams, an uptempo shot of broken beat and smudged jazz chromatics in Starburst 3, then on a hot-stepping slow-fast flex with the slick fusion feels of Esencia.
A beautiful, then-and-now document of banging Japanese folk traditions featuring one side recorded in 1982, and the same pieces performed in 2017, recorded and mixed by Sugai Ken, whose recent LPs for RVNG Intl are a farther, electronic extension of Japanese tradition
“EM Records is proud to present, following “Yumi Kagura” the second edition of the Japanese folklore music series, directed by Riyo Mountains. Japan has a long tradition of annual pre-harvest summer dance festivals, known as Bon-Odori festivals, which continues to this day. One of the longest-running of these festivals is the Sakai Ishinage Odori festival, taking place in Sakai town, Saitama, north of Tokyo.
Unlike some festivals which function as tourist attractions for domestic and international visitors, this festival is resolutely local, with no professional performers, the music being passed down from generation to generation, played by local men and woman ranging in age from elementary school students to senior citizens. With percussion, massed flutes and vocals, this is a vital, living music, a sort of minimal disco born in the rice fields, agricultural “industrial” music, low-tech hard techno. Available on CD and vinyl, this release features 1982 recordings, plus 2017 versions of the same pieces recorded and mixed by Sugai Ken.”
Back in print for 1st time in years, Scott Walker’s starkly funereal Tilt is the first in a seminal trilogy of LPs which was completed with The Drift  and Bish Bosch . Upon its European release in 1995, Tilt, Walker’s 12th solo studio LP, was also his first release in eleven years, and found the arch avant-pop songwriter pursuing the mix of industrial, rock and classical in Climate Of Hunter  much farther down the rabbit hole, achieving a distinguished sound which can easily be mistaken as electronic, but is remarkably, entirely acoustic, orchestral.
Few artists work is harder to get a grasp on than Scott Walker. From beginnings as a teen idol, then as frontman of ’60s pop trio The Walker Brothers, thru the subsequent, change of direction with Climate Of Hunter, and his modern avant-garde masterpieces, Walker’s oeuvre is practically unparalleled in its diversity, which requires some effort of behalf of the listener to really join all the dots.
However, the one constant theme throughout Walker’s recordings is that baritone vocal, alternately booming, crooning and lamenting depending the song, and giving life to his lyrics in the manner of some ancient, spellbinding bard relaying tales from the brink. It’s a voice that has unmistakably lived, and evokes life in the richest colours.
Of course, life would be nothing without contrast, and that’s where Walker’s genius really comes into play on Tilt, as a lone, detached presence echoing against backdrops ranging from the grandiose, panoramic, operatic and cinematic, mostly thanks to strings by London Sinfonietta, to moments of utter, stark despair and bellicose militancy, often in the space of a single song.
If you’ve ever been intrigued by Walker’s indomitable body of work, including collaborations with Sunn 0))) and song-writing credits for Bat For Lashes, we thoroughly recommend immersing in Tilt and following your nose into the abyss.
Necessary vinyl reissue of Molly Nilsson’s hard-to-find 2013 debut for Night School - a filigree, lo-fi blend of aloof vocals with naif, nagging pop chops in most beguiling manner
“The Travels represents a signpost in the continuing journey that is the songs of Berlin-based artist Molly Nilsson.
Journeys offer change - the possibility of renewal - and accordingly on The Travels Molly Nilsson’s resonant voice is found curling around a new sense of optimism and wide-eyed discovery that was only alluded to in her previous work. Songs like “Dear Life” might be spiked with a barbed sense of the dejected, but the presiding feeling is one of optimism, of being in love with life despite a shield of cynicism. “Dirty Fingers” brings a melancholy recognisable from previous work but with an incessant beat and ecstatic underpinning it becomes apparent that a new force is at play here. In case the listener missed it, “The Power Ballad” brings an endearing, sincerity to proceedings that also offers a tantalising question: can you be sceptical about love but still be bewitched?
On her 5th long-player, Nilsson’s perspective is challenged and manipulated by changes in environment and psychological space: like any other traveller the protagonist brings their own set of values and emotional states and new places, colouring them with a wash of subjectivity. Like any other traveller Molly Nilsson reacts to her environment and shares her unique version of it to other people.
Based loosely on Marco Polo’s “Travels” and reading like a map of the protagonist’s geographical and inner journey, The Travels reveals new places and new emotions that are never the same to the beholder. Nilsson’s art is in turning this subjectivity into a cloak that almost anyone can don for the trip.”
Lebanese guitarist Fadi Tabbal renders a shimmering dreamworld of hallucinatory structures and ambient panoramas in the gauzy gaze of ‘Museum of Disappearing Buildings’, which now appears on Portland, OR’s Beacon Sound after an under-the-radar digital release in 2015, replete with two big highlights in the keening harmonics of ‘Wandering Turtle In a Maze of a Big Ciy’ and the awe-inspiring, trance-inducing flux of ‘Crystal Palace’. RIYL the towering cloud cities of Popol Vuh, the windswept grit of Fennesz, or Forest Swords’ at his most wistful
“Fadi Tabbal, lead guitarist with Lebanese psychedelic rock band The Incompetents and various other alternative outfits, releases his second solo album, “Museum of Disappearing Buildings”, in November 2015. This album continues further the work of sound exploration through guitar treatments, which began with “On the Rooftop Looking Up” in 2013.
While the young guitarist’s first album featured a finely-devised interaction of ambient soundscapes and John Fahey-inspired finger-picking acoustic meanderings, this second solo outing adopts a different approach: it relies on an interplay of ambient guitar drones and grainy electronics, which recalls to a degree the work of early Krautrock vanguard artists from the 1970’s, the leftfield exploration of British electro-acoustic practitioners from the mid-1970’s, as well as the radical works of American minimalistic composers from the 1960’s.
Similarly to his first outing, Tabbal preferred a radical and direct approach to composition and recording, opting for the intimacy and self-reflection of home recordings, rather than the traditional environment of a recording studio. At the heart of the album, resides one unifying concept, which finds its way into the resulting musical bed: the sketches and impossible structures and urban configurations of Russian paper architects Brodsky and Utkin.”
Veronica Vasicka and Karl O’Connor (Regis) unleash a handful of secret weapons as The Floor on Minimal Wave following their blink ‘n miss debut flexidisc 7" The Desire  for Downwards, and an outing with Oliver Ho’s Death & Leisure in summer 2017.
As The Floor, they enhance two mutual Minimal Wave favourites for the dance, firstly giving Five Times of Dust’s Computer Bank a prodding reboot, coolly accentuating the proto-techno potential of its driving mono-rhythm and cascading bleeps with lean, deadly effect, before returning attentions to Tara Cross & Unovidual’s Like I Am Comme Je Suis, highlighting its brittle jack beat, beaky synth pecks and shrill synths for bruxist effect.
If that wasn’t enough, the 12" also features two previously unreleased gems from the MW archive. A-side you’ll catch the steaming Armoured Car by Five Times of Dust’s Rob Lawrence in solo mode - think Warm Leatherette with an ultimate death wish - while Unovidual and Tara Cross’ Imponative cuts a darker instrumental swagger across the B-side.