Objects Limited boss Lara Rix-Martin plays with gender, class and rave nostalgia on her latest amen-powered full-length.
Last year's dense "Neon Genesis: Soul Into Matter²" was a heady affair, but its follow-up ditches the "pseudo-intellectualism" for air horns and pingers, dropping club deconstruction in favor of rave reconstruction. It works too, Rix-Martin was inspired by a show in Spain as lockdown was beginning to subside, and remembered how the music wasn't just important to her, but to the people around her. On "Loverboy" she remembers the music that inspired her, from Autechre and Shitmat to Orbital and A Guy Called Gerald, injecting casual humor and MDMA stories to loosen the mood.
This is a fun one undoubtedly, free of experimental posturing completely. Orbital's shadow hangs over 'Cloudscape' for example, that splays a 'Halcyon' vocal over a pacy break and druggy synths, while 'Whitehawk' veers closer to Squarepusher or AFX, disrupting a funky drummer break with modular blips and foley flushes. The title track is a particular highlight and doesn't take itself too seriously, taping cheeky samples to bouncy hard house synths and ruff 'n ready drum rolls.
Electronic ensemble Snow Ghosts' fourth album, ‘The Fell’.
"A collection of old folk songs that were never written. ‘The Fell’ conjures images of shapeshifting animals and ancient tales experienced within a future landscape. Ancestral marks imprint the endless terrain of ‘The Fell’ and their songlines still sing."
nature morte from BIG|BRAVE.
"BIG|BRAVE, the elemental ensemble of guitarist/vocalist Robin Wattie, guitarist Mathieu Ball, and drummer Tasy Hudson, harness an earthen heaviness composed of distorted and textural drones, austere bombast, and Wattie’s heart-rending voice. The trio brandish sparseness and density like weapons, cast tense atmospheres with languid tempos and mutate feedback into eruptions of enveloping tempests. nature morte sharpens BIG|BRAVE’s ferocity and expansive sound into emotional elegies for the disenfranchised, wringing abstracted textures and pure fervence into songs of unfathomable mass.
The title nature morte is the French term for still life paintings whose literal translation is “dead nature.” BIG|BRAVE color the songs of nature morte with unease, creating an air of beauty in decay, chords suspended in contemplative stillness. Wattie’s experiences structuring lyrics and song forms on The Body & BIG|BRAVE’s Leaving None But Small Birds informed her work on nature morte, creating stories that, like many folk tales, are at once specific and universal. Wattie’s voice manages to be commanding and vulnerable with impressive range and intimacy. Even her gasps carve their way through the tidal crash of Ball’s distortion wail and the pummel of Hudson’s drums. “the fable of subjugation” conveys pain through strained drones free of time, an aching minimalism that withers slowly before bursting in an outright roar. nature morte is an excavation of dark inner chasms of feelings both ineffable and visceral. The album tackles the folly of hope, the consequences of trauma, often centers on the subjugation of femininity in all its pluralities. “It is violent and terrible. It is crushing and alarming. It is common and basic,” says Wattie. “It is catastrophic and disheartening.” "
The eighth album by U.S. Girls, the nom de plume of North American multi-disciplinary and experimental pop artist Meg Remy.
"A dynamic suite of dexterous melodies and a nuanced artistic response to the complexities of motherhood, Bless This Mess was crafted in tandem with the conception and birth of Remy’s twin boys. It expands the sonic and thematic palette of U.S. Girls, fusing the muses of funk, mythology, and the radical disorientation of joy into an electric tapestry of anthems, aches, and awakenings. As Remy’s body changed so did her voice; her diaphragm lost breathing room, adjusting to the growing lives inside. Many takes on Bless This Mess were tracked with the babies in utero, or in her arms. (She even samples her breast pump on the album’s poetic closing cut, “Pump”). The resulting performances are suffused by the physicality of this journey: more blood, more feelings, the interwoven wonders, and wounds of procreation.
The ten songs on Bless This Mess were pieced together stem by stem with a vast cast of collaborators (Alex Frankel of Holy Ghost!, Marker Starling, Ryland Blackinton of Cobra Starship, Basia Bulat, Roger Manning Jr. of Jellyfish and Beck,) and audio engineers (Neal H Pogue, Ken Sluiter, Steve Chahley, Maximilian Turnbull). Long-time collaborator, husband, and co-parent Turnbull played a key role facilitating these fluid muses. The production throughout is exquisite, warm, and wood-panelled, framing the voice, keys, bass, and rhythms in heightened textural harmony."
Follow the Cyborg is the debut album from Korean-American musician Miss Grit.
"Follow the Cyborg moves towards deeper a electronic sound and is a sonic leap forward for the artist, occupying a world of chaotic electronic experimentation and stirring electric guitars.
Following the release of acclaimed EPs Talk, Talk and Impostor, Follow the Cyborg sees Miss Grit aka Margaret Sohn pursue the path of a non-human machine, as it moves from its helpless origin to awareness and liberation. This album was fully produced by Sohn in their home studio and features guest collaborators Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, Aron Kobayashi Ritch of Momma, and close friend and fellow songwriter Pearla."
Faten Kanaan's fifth LP Afterpoem, via Fire Records.
"Faten Kanaan's Afterpoem is a mysterious, smudgy, bittersweet, and uniquely playful album. Deeply melodic, it continues her poignant exploration of counterpoint as a narrative tool. From the repetitive structures of modern minimalism and early music/baroque influences - to more languid textural ebbs & tides, there's a warmth in her use of electronic instruments that gives the album a curiously timeless feel. Composing intuitively, her music has often been described as 'strange', mostly because it creates its own world- one that isn't easily categorised.
The album's title refers to the haze of a poem's intended meaning being abstractly fleeting and barely graspable. Glistening threads of understanding still touch us - the poetry becoming intimately personal, and no further literal explanation is needed."
Dutch-Italian composer/sound-designer Aimée Portioli pulls melancholic solo piano and sculpted noise into brooding, barbed works on her 2nd LP for Editions Mego, after debuting on Donato Dozzy’s Spazio Disponibile
“Dedicated to Editions Mego founder Peter Rehberg, who died suddenly last year, “All Above” demands engagement and refuses to evaporate into the background. It’s a statement of intent from Portioli, who has been entangled in the experimental ambient world for years at this stage, running the One Instrument imprint and releasing on labels like Australia’s Longform Editions and Italy’s Spazio Disponibile. The album asks listeners to not just absorb the album as a whole, but notice the cracks in the structure and discern the tension they cause. That’s never more evident than on closing track ‘Cost What It May’, a piece of music that’s almost jarring when Portioli chops into noisy waves of electric guitar. In the wrong hands, this might sound like a power move – some kind of rock posturing to act as a finale. But Portioli’s expression is different, she’s forcing a level of engagement that perceives the negative space as just as important as the saturated positive, and what could be more haunting and emotionally resonant than that?
She’s keen to assure listeners that while that instrument isn’t always heard, it’s constantly at the forefront of the album, shepherding its emotions and anchoring its mood. It makes sense then that on opening track ‘Quasicristallo’, the acoustic piano is the first element we hear, recorded closely so its characteristic rattle and creak can speak as loudly as the familiar tones themselves. When the music blooms into abstraction and processed electronics, it’s almost imperceptible at first: reverb mutates into ghostly vapor trails, and distortion forms the keys into another instrument entirely.
Portioli’s more electronic inclinations transpire on ‘Human’, as the piano punctuates a rhythmic synthesized bassline and smudged choirs that can’t help but trace out the silver screen. But she’s careful to state that “All Above” isn’t an imaginary film score; in fact, she doesn’t think of her music (or sound in general) in visual terms. Portioli studied as a linguist and uses her art to develop an emotional language that’s not bound by expected cultural constraints. When she adds a different instrument or process it’s not to reference a visual cue, but to mark a journey through different states of being. Each element embodies a different emotion or mood: the electric guitar represents strength or even violence, synthesizers shuttle us into the dream world, and the acoustic instruments are there to highlight intimacy and warmth – even heart. Read like this, the tracks are like meditative poems rather than cinematic vignettes: ‘The World At Number XX’ is seemingly centered around a chugging synthesized arpeggio, but the cosmic, Klaus Schulze-esque pads, strangled guitar and evocative organ tones hint at the open-hearted, literate psychedelia of the 1970s; ‘In The Present As The Future’ meanwhile is breathy and windswept, juxtaposing urgent rhythmic phrases with light, flute-like gusts of harmony.”
Dusty-heeled, 1989 gothic country rock by Simon Bonney’s cult refuge for Post-Birthday party members and industrial pioneers such as Chrislo Haas (the CH of CHBB, DAF) and Alexander Hacke (P1/E, Einstürzende Neubauten)
Formed in Australia, but really coming into their own during mid-late ‘80s stints in UK and Berlin - where ‘The Bride Ship’ was recorded - Crime & The City Solution were crucial to the ‘80s alt.rock landscape. 1989’s ‘The Bride Ship’ was their penultimate studio LP before going on extended hiatus in the early ‘90s, and forms one for heir most melodramatic and captivating group portraits, including a crack squad of players such as Mick Harvey (Nick cave & The Bad Seeds, The Birthday Party) and recent Daniel Miller collaborator and longtime Mute engineer Gareth Jones chiming into a ravishing album that takes the sea as metaphor for freedom, and a diving board into tempestuous songs gassed on a sort of punkish country folk-rock at times recalling The Pogues as much as Nick Cave, and at others spoiling for a bar brawl.
Reissue of Mick Harvey, Rowland S. Howard, and co’s 1990 alt.rock classic, produced by and starring Chrislo Haas (CHBB, Liaisons Dangereuses, DAF) and recorded at Conny Plank’s gaff.
‘Paradise Discotheque’ was the fifth and final studio album by Aussie/Euro rock supergroup Crime & The City Solution before they went on extended hiatus until 2013’s ‘American Twilight’. Helmed by Simon Bonney, and notably featuring Bad Seed Mick Harvey, it more remarkably includes input by Alexander Hacke and Chrislo Haas, two pioneers of post-industrial dance musick, here adapting their hand to rock songcraft less than a decade after laying the groundwork for EBM/industrial techno with P1/E, Einstürzende Neubauten, CHBB, DAF and Liaisons Dangereuses, respectively.
Put to tape at Conny Plank’s crucible of krautrock, the results feel like a last gasp of that ‘50s-into-‘80s rock ’n roll thing that loomed over the pivotal decade, factored by the band’s own brand of dusty Aussie blues and a driving motorik quality that formed a certain sort of swan song for the band and that decade’s rock energies between the folk-rock jangle and swagger of ‘I Have The Gun’, and the U2-like ’The Dolphins and the Sharks’, to its stranger highpoints such as the exotic swirl of ‘The Sun and the Darkness’, to their take on traditional spiritual ‘Motherless Child’, uncannily coming off like Mondays.
One of the greatest techno 12”s of all time is back in circulation - an utterly crucial building block of dub techno, serving two of the deepest, hypnotic club cuts ever put to wax
Basic Channel’s landmark ’Octagon / Octaedre’ session was first issued in 1994 and formed a crucial, entrancing treatise on lessons learned from Detroit techno and the principles of Jamaican dub. Aside to their Cyrus 12”, it contains the quickest cuts in Basic Channel’s tool box, both riding over the 140bpm barrier in step with the escalating tempos of Motor City and European techno, but uniquely undressed of snares and the prevailing tropes of the time.
There’s frankly fuck-all to it - just subbass-kick/hi-hat/chords/noise - but the way they rinsed out those elements with judicious use of FX for 13 minutes on each side was completely unprecedented in shape and effect, and birthed a generation of copycats in the process. We cannot recommend it any higher as a lodestone for DJs learning to mix vinyl, particularly fast techno, but it also blends beautifully well with strains of electro, UK steppers dub, UKG/dubstep and all that good stuff that dances around and on beats descended from the African diaspora.
Untouchable Berlin techno marking the emergence of René Löwe a.k.a. Vainqueur, and one of the earliest appearances from Maurizio on their all-time classic remix.
Vainqueur’s Lyot locates dub techno’s roots in a mix of prickling EBM drums and Detroit chords stripped down to the bare essentials and tweaked out for long nights of aerobic mysticism.
The Maurizio remix is by some measure their tuffest, kicking off with a hair raising intro and that awning breakdown before it boots off royally with that chord coda and megadome boom.
Melika Ngombe Kolongo aka Nkisi returns with a new LP steeped in the mysticism of the distant past; inspired by Derek Jarman's "Journey to Avebury", a 1971 short that considers the latent power of our prehistoric culture around the world’s largest megalithic stone circle in Wiltshire, southwest England. One of the most distinctive artists in contemporary, experimental dance music, Nkisi never fails to surprise, here drawing equally from classic doomcore, dark ambient and her Congolese heritage for an inimitable schism of spellbinding club sorcery.
'Ndombala' on the A side features 12 minutes of ritualistic myth-making, commissioned for ‘A Journey to Avebury’, a video by artist and filmmaker Stanley Schtinter, which is a shot-for-shot recreation of Derek Jarman’s incidental 1973 film of the same name. Originally a silent film, following Jarman’s death in 1994 Coil produced a score replete with birdsong and unsettling sounds which Nkisi actively references by shaping a mostly beatless sonic topography that swerves the hi-def methodology of post-Zimmer Netflix OST bores. It might be billed as a soundtrack, but Nkisi explores dizzying blasts of ancestral-industrial soundscaping that ride the uncanny, recalling passages of Ákos Rózmann as well as Senyawa’s future-primitive invocations, lurching deep into gaseous, mycological mists.
The B-side ‘Centripetal Vortex’ was produced as part of the same sessions, taking for inspiration parallels between pre-colonial statuettes used for rituals in central Africa and the same stone circles at Avebury featured in the film. The mode on this side, however, is more loose and rhythmic, feeding animist sounds into ancient Congolese drum patterns, Joyrex templates and contemporary doomcore replete with disorienting atmospheres and a relentless kinetic energy that eventually cascades into a hardstyle-inspired brick wall. It’s wildly exploratory, deadly material from one of the very best doing it right now.
Heart-in-mouth shoegaze melter heavily tipped to fans of Grouper or Tropic Of Cancer, Ensemble Economique!
New Orleans-based Melissa Guion a.k.a. MJ Guider makes a very memorable entrance on Kranky with the diaphanous shoegaze pop dimensions of Precious Systems, only her 2nd release following a low key debut with Constellation Tatsu in 2014.
Hers is an isolated, starkly blissful sound of an ilk that really only comes around ervery so often in these sublime proportions. Obvious comparisons aside, she’s in possession of a breathtakingly romantic sound; intimately economical, although widescreen in effect.
An arching spine of skeletal drum machines runs thru the album, moving in and out of focus from clouds of airborne vocal, synth and guitar harmonies, alternately radiating quaking booms from the pealing plainchant of Lit Negative and underpinning the 10 minute Evencycle with a rumbling, slow techno thrust, whilst elsewhere they make Triple Black step and swoon like an eccied-up goth or evaporate altogether, leaving her in blissfully weightless space on Second Surface.
No need to over egg this; it’s just a divine piece of work, warranting your immediate attention.
'Clouds' is a perfectly measured suite of warm and hazy downbeats from Gigi Masin, Marco Sterk (Young Marco), and Johnny Nash recorded in the heart of Amsterdam's red light district over one weekend in April, 2014.
It's all about louche vibes and glowing notes, gently absorbing and transducing the buzz of the streets outside the studio's open windows into eight elegantly reserved improvisations segueing between lush ambient drift, dub-wise solo piano pieces, and chiming late night jazz patter. In that sense, there's striking similarities between 'Clouds' and the recent Sky Walking album by Lawrence and co., but where they really go for the looseness, Gaussian Curve keep it supple yet tight, bordering on adult contemporary suaveness anointed with finest hash oil. Imbibe slowly.
Chiastic Slide - the glitch blueprint - endlessly imitated, deconstructed and worshipped, now a quarter of a century old and still capable of shaping the narrative.
We’ve said it before, but the period that followed Chiastic Slide was a weird one in electronic music, there were just no other records that shaped IDM in quite the same way. This rubs people the wrong way, but you have to imagine the level of influence Chiastic Slide exerted. - when we opened our shop in 1998 there was just a seemingly relentless and endless flow of records made in its shadow - we even spent a weird afternoon watching on as sean grabbed a stack of them and played them on our listening deck, offering quick appraisals of things like EOG on Djak-Up-Bitch (he was into it) and Funkstörung (erm, cant remember). Anyway - we were just over saturated with the stuff.
25 years later Chiastic Slide's influence is just as evident, but the gap between its rhythmic genius and the legions of imitations seems almost laughably wide. ‘Tewe’ flows with the kind of liquid energy that’s completely at odds with the monochrome, staccato constructions you’d find on something like a Markant record, while the industrial clank on ‘Cichli’ connects directly to Alan Wilder and Martin Gore's mallet-on-sheet-metal brilliance in a way we just didn't clock at the time.
And on it goes - ‘Recury’ is a submerged sci-fi tearjerk of the highest order, ‘Pule' is pure, arpeggiated synth voodoo, 'Rettic AC’ is like some alien concrète flashback, ‘Calbruc’ stop-motion turntablist attack - it’s just all a perfect vision of some imagined future that hadn't quite finished rendering yet.
François Bonnet's latest album is his richest, most evocative to date, submerging synth and organ drones, guitar shimmer and resonant tones around beds of expertly-tweaked noise. It's a devilishly specific sound, recalling bits of Basinski and FUJI||||||||||TA, but steeped in GRM lore gliding into liminal states where things are never quite what they seem.
With a title like ‘Shifted in Dreams’, you might expect Bonnet to grip onto a shoegaze-ambient third rail and shock himself into latter-day TikTok relevance - thankfully, this ain't that record. The INA GRM director's latest perceives dreams in a different way from their blissed aesthetic representation; for Bonnet, a dream highlights the inconsistencies of semiotic reality, amplifying emotional states and the blurry impressionism lost to daily ephemera. To illustrate these concepts, he uses a palette of instruments that bleed into one another but often jut out to remind you that this game has its own, indecipherable logic.
And so while the opening, title track ushers us in with a fizzing, shimmering energy, ‘Barca Solare’ breaks the spell with the wooozed weirdness of the Cristal Baschet - an organ made from glass rods that was a favourite instrument of the concrète set and which here perfectly encapsulates unpredictable emotional states. Maudlin sounds - furtive strings, loping basses, orchestra pit trumpet blasts - are used as subterfuge, loading each track with a bewildering psychedelic dimension.
'Dissipation of Light' assembles warbling synths that dissolve into feverish wails, a flute-like tone heaves into view and Bonnet ratchets up the volume, invoking the tenor of power ambient without repeating its maligned, fragile peacocking. On 'Allée des Brouillards' he layers instrumental loops asymmetrically to propose a vertiginous counter to Basinski's "Disintegration Loops" memorials. Beneath a delicate, opaque shell, a brass band does its thing with growing intensity, rotated unevenly across the sound-field, crumpled into tiny spheres before being tossed into a booming cavern.
We’ve already spent considerable time with this album, but have a sneaking suspicion that ‘Shifted in Dreams’ will just keep on clawing deeper into the darkest recesses of the soul. Stunning.
Stunning dream-pop/post-punk side from New Orleans’ MJ Guider, galvanising her shoegaze sound with industrial rhythms sounding out between Cocteau Twins, Tropic of Cancer and Seefeel in an amazing sophomore album for eternal dreamers at Kranky
Arriving four years after her ‘Precious Systems’, which benefitted beautifully from studio mixing rendered by Turk Dietrich and Josh Eustis ov NIN/Second Woman esteem, ’Sour Cherry Bell’ channels a more pronounced sense of southern Gothic mystique and late ‘80s industrial noir for Guider’s follow-up. We’re not certain who’s behind the mixing/mastering this time, but it certainly sounds like Second Woman’s spacious sensitivities come into play, perfectly suspending the vocals in endlessly diaphanous reverbs and giving special attention to the percussion and synths in an electronic/ambient-techno sense that’s seamlessly incorporated and feels like a subtle, but necessary update and mutation of its influences, rather than straightforward homage.
From the cavernous introduction of ‘Lowlight’ through to its supine closer ‘Petrechoria’, the album really comes alive with amplivication, tactfully enveloping the senses with sheets of processed guitar, or set against starkly booming drums in ‘The Steelyard’ and ‘FM Secure’ that conjure the steepest sense of dread, surely recalling Elizabeth Fraser and her amazing meeting with Seefeel’s Mark Clifford, while ‘Body Optics’ and ’Simulus’ feels like a gutted HTRK, and ‘Quiet Time’ could almost be mistaken for Tropic of Cancer, but that keening production is just something else.
Facta marks a decade of distinctive UK dance music with a batch of buoyant steppers, purling deep house and beatdown for the NYC club captains at Incienso
As co-owner of the Wisdom Teeth label with K-Lone, Facta has been key in giving shape to post-dubstep and UKF styles. On both sides he switches feet with a cool, collected dexterity, hopping from bleep techno on the title tune to balmy deep house with delectably hazed chords shades away from DJ Sprinkles in ‘Felt’, before toggling the mercurial 2-step of ‘Mirage’ and slow, velvet-gloved beatdown-dub pump of ‘Sick Pup’ around the 100bpm marker on the flip.
AMM’s groundbreaking and inspirational Ammmusic (1966) - a pivotal moment in the history of free-jazz/improvised music featuring the combined talents of Keith Rowe, Eddie Prévost, Cornelius Cardew, John Tilbury and others, now presented by Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle label on its golden jubilee, complete with a re-master from Rashad Becker.
Revolving founder members Keith Rowe (guitar) and Lou Gare (saxophone) - both formerly of Mike Westbrook’s jazz band - together with Eddie Prévost (percussion), Cornelius Cardew (piano, cello) and Lawrence Sheaff (accordion, clarinet), the enigmatically acronymed AMM more or less scrawled the very simple rulebook for free-improvisation’s infinite complexity with the recordings and sleeve notes of Ammmusic.
It was recorded by Jac Holzman and released on his Elektra label, marking a precedent juncture of experimental avant-garde and the countercultural underground (by this point Elektra were issuing classic albums by The Doors, Tim Buckley, Judy Collins) and was produced by DNA, a group that included Pink Floyd’s first manager Peter Jenner, which perhaps lead to its influence on the improvisational context of PF’s debut album, particularly Flaming which took its title from this record’s A-side, Later During A Flaming Riviera Sunset.
Quite importantly, Ammmusic still sounds timelessly fresh and dynamic, with all the urgent energy and unpredictability you would hope from an improvised recording of such historical importance.
In the slipstream of Hoshina Anniversary and Tarotplane side, NYC’s Impatience introduce Air Krew’s Piper Spray & Lena Tsibizova with a vaporware synth flashback/memory update RIYL 0PN/Eccojams, Otherworld, Ben Bondy
“Leaving Memory is a searing distillation of the duo’s ouevre - it’s eleven prismatic electronic seances combining for a mind warping wormhole with it’s own internal (il)llogic, where pop, ambient, and industrial music convene beneath a rugged HD of digital processing and brain fog. Equally rosy with nostalgia as it is ominously forward looking, Leaving Memory defies easy categorization and makes for an astounding, confounding listen.
By turns violently abrasive and disarmingly touching, Piper and Lena deploy sounds that fracture and disintegrate, burn up and explode, synthetic supernovas that give the record an unmistakable, inimitable texture. Song structures often abide by their own blueprint - heading in one direction before making an abrupt dive elsewhere. Bursts of vibrant colour lurk below layers of grayscale noise. Unidentifiable voices deliver secret messages from the murk. When rhythm’s emerge they ground the tracks to some unknown terrain and invigorate.
Lame Line veers towards the sweeter end of their spectrum, a hazy plaintive repetition increasingly lashed with friction, before Exit erupts with clanging rhythm and shards of distortion. Diagnosis is an almost sweet alt-pop song, Lena’s vocals yearning beneath a dubby shuffle, while Keeper Of The Void’s possessed incantations open up to a ripping, fried climax. Beryl Grey releases the pressure gauge, a gently lilting drift arpeggiating as the sun sets, and Lost Cars sweats through claustrophobic drones and bird song before the clouds part on a serene scene. Leaving Memory closes with Shin, offering a genuinely sweet resolution and a gentle landing back down to earth of either footsteps or fireworks, swelling synthesized horns and woodwinds, a kiss on the cheek for making it out the other side.
On Leaving Memory, Piper Spray & Lena Tsibizova share their uniquely discordant take on freaky music for unsettled minds, an intensely energized set that offers a deeply evocative, unimaginable otherworld for adventurous ears.”
The enigmatic and impossible-to-find 1982 debut of Dutch DIY synth pioneer Velthuys surfaces for first time on vinyl; a suite of smudged machine rhythms and wavey keyboard expressions flush with introspective, home-brewed spirit and nostalgic ambient wist that some folks spend a lifetime in search of.
“Ontmoeting (Encounter) from 1982 marks the beginning of the published audio works of Enno Velthuys. When Rob Smit of Kubus Kassettes first visited Enno to discuss the possibilities of releasing a cassette, he was open to the idea and gave Smit access to his tape archive of recorded tracks to cherry pick his favorite pieces. Initially Enno felt the selection didn’t do justice to his broader musical spectrum, that also included more rhythm orientated guitar pieces, but in hindsight it probably gave him a new sense of direction.
On this album, a mixture of spacious ambient and synth-leaden music, we hear Enno in transition. Experimenting, searching for his own voice. Some pieces are reminiscent of a classic dungeon explorer game while others have a more surreal, cinematic feel. Although 40 years old, Ontmoeting still sounds incredibly fresh today and stands as a pivotal ambient release from the early 80’s.”
Maurizio’s ‘M4’ was just so good that Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus had to extend the pleasure in ‘m4.5’ 
The purring bass and chords feel sunk deeper and drowsier into the mix, lending a duskier appeal which they tease out for just shy of 13 minutes, although it could easily last 10 times that length and we’d never get bored of its endless traction.
One of the bluest of Maurizio’s seminal M-Series, ‘M7’  is a true, original blueprint for dub house that’s never been bettered
Both sides features 12 minutes of barely there ingredients adding up to an incredibly immersive experience - grooves to get utterly lost in, for both dancers and DJs. Deep house in effect, techno in motion, and dub in essence.
Ravishing, dream-like debut by Okkyung Lee’s chamber ensemble, placing a rarely paralleled instrumental guile and imagination at the service of Shelter Press’ beautiful series of carefully hand-picked editions.
Rendering Lee’s first recordings with the Yeo-Neun Quartet, an experimental chamber ensemble established in 2016 and also comprising Maeve Gilchrist (harp), Jacob Sacks (piano), and Eivind Opsvik (bass), ‘Yeo-Neun’ distills the multiplicities of Lee’s decades of solo and collaborative work and diffuses it thru her cello and fellow players to realise a radical mixture of contemporary classicism and fearless experimentation. It’s the ultimate example of Lee’s inimitably calm but unpredictable style, wrapping up myriad aspects of chamber, jazz and folk musics with sentimental melodies and melancholy touches that betray a core influence from the popular Korean ballads and emotive traditional forms of her youth.
Under a title that loosely translates to ’the gesture of an opening” in Korean, Yeo-Nuen is focussed on discretely lush arrangements, but prone to combust at noisy, avant angles that keep the album safely clear of concrete genre taxonomy. Lee and her ensemble work tightly within a broad set of sonic reference points, elegantly navigating the far flung cues she’s absorbed over decades of intensive touring schedules that have seen her play across the world with everyone from Mark Fell to Ellen Fullman, and appear on recordings by artists as diverse as Jenny Hval and Swans. In those contexts, Lee has developed preternaturally-heightened instincts for improvisation, but the recordings of ‘Yeo-Neun’ appear to consolidate this finely honed grasp of spontaneous combustion with a newly realised, stately feel for composition that’s at once calm and gripping.
Born of a life on the move, the music understandably helms to its own sense of time and pace and allows listeners into the rich inner life that sustains an artist on the road. Between the tender resignation of ‘here we are (once again)’, the Alice Coltrane-Like sweeps of ‘another old story’, the visceral tonal ruptures of ‘in stardust (for kang kyung-ok)’, and the enchanted vision of ‘facing your shadows’, it’s hardly felt more like a privilege to bear witness to an artist laying her soul bare, and so sharply articulate and express her sense of individuality and connection to the world. Frankly. it’s jaw-dropping stuff.
The second album by the Norwegian improv group to have been recorded without founding member and drummer Jarle Vespestad on board, the three remaining players (Arve Henriksen, Stale Storlokken and Helge Sten, aka Deathprod) switching musical strategies once again, moving towards a more acoustic palette. Henriksen is reunited with his trumpet and Sten is back in 'Audio Virus' mode, but Storlokken spends much of the album at the piano, prompting some of the finest passages of music in this band's thirteen-year history.
One of the most striking moments on the album comes during '10.6', when Storlokken's skeletal keys are complimented by a clean and understated guitar part from Sten. Henriksen does well to show restraint, joining his bandmates in their tentative and lightly percussive mindset. Actually, 'restraint' is probably the key word here, and the generally rather low volume and highly sensitive phrasing levels exhibited by all players allow for an impressive dynamic range: at a couple of points you'll find yourself following wispy melodic lines only for a huge swell of bass to take you by surprise in the background ('10.8' and '10.9' specifically - there's probably a bad joke to be made here about Richter scale measurements and Deathprod's floor shaking low-end...).
It's not all simmering though, and for all this album's ornate harmonic constructions you'll find an intoxicating darkness creeping into the droning circuitry of '10.5' and the unsteady intervals of closing track '10.12'. It's hard to think of there ever having been a bad Supersilent album, but after all these years and all these recordings this band still manages to refresh and reinvent itself.
Outstanding bevy of spunky, home-brewed, late ‘80s/early ‘90s machine funk by an artist who also played bass in an NYC comedy club’s in-house band, performing alongside Robin Williams, Andy Kaufman and Chris Rock - yep, a total no brainer!!!
“His early music was born out of improvisation, often recorded between acts at Catch and he soon began issuing a dizzying array of home-baked cassettes. In the 1980s, cassettes were the ultimate guerrilla media, from home-dubbed compilations to private releases in editions of 100 copies, tapes offered a chance to redraw established evolutionary accounts. It was probably no coincidence that Mair, Jr. thrived in this realm – a continuum which offered him the seductive prospect of both escape and compensation, insight and freakout.
In 1992, Mair, Jr. released ‘Music for Winefride’, which on its 30th anniversary remains, in its own unassuming way, a revelatory work of electro-minimalism. It swings between beautifully suspended chords, avant-funk tropes and mesmeric loops for its entire duration, yet this never feels like a confrontation or a challenge. Neither is it tedious; the apparent stasis on the surface of the music invites the listener to look beneath and discover the detail teeming below. The album is warm, approachable and often startlingly melodic. Perhaps most important of all in understanding why its influence has proved so enduring amongst obscure music enthusiasts - you can dance to it.
Mair, Jr. recorded hundreds of cassettes during this period, most of which remained unreleased or traded with like-minded artists around the world. Nevertheless, the music he made at this time was some of his most melodic, accessible and at times brazenly brilliant. The sound of off-centre dub rumblings, Kosmische synthesis and sweat-stained Library funk telescoping into modern sounds like Reichian minimalist rhythm and spartan proto-Techno - a dizzying and unexpected cosmic tapestry.
Available for the first time on vinyl and presented over two expansive volumes, the ‘Selected Rhythm Tracks 1988-1994’ of L.G. Mair, Jr. reveals a hidden archive of pulsing echojams, avant-funk meditations and introverted electro-minimalist songwriting culled from over 30 years of unreleased cassettes. Produced in cooperation with the artist’s estate for chOOn!!, a label specialising in obscure, archival and forgotten releases.”
Finally the missing piece of the puzzle arrives, the early and absolute classic slice of genre-defining techno from Basic Channel under their Quadrant guise.
Infinition was originally licensed to Carl Craig's Planet E imprint in 1993, and also Renaat's now sadly defunct R & S label, and became an instant sell out on both slightly differing versions and has been sought after ever since. Here Moritz re-masters the two cut's Infinition and Hyperprism onto a loud and crisp 45rpm press. The demand for Basic Channel records has been hyped of late due to the 10th anniversary re-press of the original 9 releases, this further 12" completes the early evolution of their sound, and the bare 909 drums and classic washy synth's show the early leaning's toward the Phylyps Trak style cuts, and their first foray in to the annals of techno history.
Hyperprism has a more acidic feel, and a definite Planet E/Detroit sound with the lush strings backing the modulating acid line, while the subtle drum programming makes the groove sit superbly under the music, a lush and deep as you like vintage cut from Basic Channel finally available. An unmissable re-issue of a bona-fide classic, and remember kids - we've been waiting for far too long for a record to land with a new Basic Channel catalogue number - here it is. Legendary.
Now entering its 3rd decade of circulation, Maurizio’s ‘M6’  remains one of the greatest 12”s of the ‘90s
How a modulated dub chord, slinky hi-hat and bassline can move us to tears and freeze our spines for 9 minutes quite like the A and B-sides of M6 is a mystery that we’ll never fully work out, and kinda don’t want to anyway. Mix it with Main Street’s Acting Crazy to extend the hypnosis as long as you like.
Pure industrial/EBM/synth-pop sleaze from the belly of Barcelona and its cult duo Dame Area .
‘Toda la mentira sobre Dame Area’, or ‘All the Lies about Dame Area’, was recorded 2019-2022 in the Catalan capital, yet could feasibly have been made at any point between 1980 for all its analog charm. A whole host of synth-pop and body music touchstones can be referenced in comparison - Liaisons Dangereuses, Bobby O, Nitzer Ebb, Chris & Cosey, early The Human League - but Dame Area make their own mark thanks to the spunk and sleaze of the vocal and detuned synths that get right under the skin.
Starting up slow and oily like they just stumbled out of a backstreet Barcelona club with ‘Danza dell'Equilibrio’, they huff a power up from the next alley and go hard from the Italo disco muscle of ‘Innamorata del tuo Controllo’ to the coldwave thrust of ‘Tempio senza Luce’ and swaggering synth-pop of ‘Hasta el Fin’, with Victor’s nose-drip synth tone in potent effect on ‘La Nueva Era’, and the fetish club canter at strongest in ‘Vivo e Credo’, before ‘Quando mi decevi’ descends into K-hole oblivion.
(Suburban Knight + DJ Pierre’s Wild Pitch Mixes) ÷ King Tubby x X³ = Basic Channel’s Q1.1. Or something.
Stone cold essential techno classic. As ever; mastered and cut at Dubplates & Mastering, pressed at Pallas.
A real one for prog synth heads, Venezuela’s leading lady synthesist Oksana Linde unleashes her archive on record for the first time - RIYL Delia Derbyshire, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Otherworld
With only scant appearances on the cult ’SNX’ comp in 1985 and Mana’s ‘Dream Tech’ set of 2020 to her name, ‘Aquatic and Others Worlds (1983-1989)’ marks the debut release proper by Oksana Linde. The daughter of Ukrainian immigrants to Venezuela, Oksana was born in Caracas, 1948 and began making electronic music in the early ‘80s, when she quit her job to pursue music and art. Using a Polymoog synth, and later a TEAC open reel tape recorder and a Moog Source, she painted vivid widescreen synth scenes at her home studio which would remain unpublished and practically unheard during that era.
With benefit of hindsight, it’s quite possible to identify Oksana as Latin America’s answer to Delia Derbyshire, Suzanne Ciani or Laurie Spiegel, such is the classic charm of her music. From the swirling fantasia of ‘Intromersión’ thru the heroic fanfare pomp of ‘Descubrimiento’ thru the romantic promise of ‘Ensueño’ her music is sci-fi in scope and richly pulpy with it, swerving anything academic in favour of immersive, instrumentally narrative-driven works that sketch grand landscapes on the back of eyelids and lend a cinematic quality to headphone mooches.
Naturally, Tresor 303 is a killer album of 8 driving acid studies by Italian maestro Donato Dozzy
On ‘Filo Loves The Acid’ Dozzy presents his first solo album since ‘The Loud Silence’ [Further Records, 2015]. But, where that album and his collaborations with Anna Caragnano, Bee Mask and Neel have tended to his experimental side, this is the first time that Dozzy has focussed on dance music for a long player, finally exploring the functions of his numerable 12”s in a broader, durational format, and with predictably immersive results..
It’s all supremely strong and slick gear, opening out with the panoramic pads and plangent tweaks of ‘Filo’ - named after his best bud, whom the album is dedicated to - before getting crafty with the slipping kicks of his ‘Vetta’ pounder and the overpronating drive of ‘Duetto’, to go hard for a late ‘90s skullhead style on ‘Nine ‘o Three’.
With ‘Back’ he brings a flavour of early ‘90s psycho-tribalist stompers, while ‘Vetta Reprise’ ramps the energy level to breakneck, and ‘TB Square’ settles its arse down to a more hypnotic swing jack, before ‘Rep’ rips out with a proper, brain-drilling riff and martial tattoo of the type you’d expect to hear in Tresor, cloaked in smoke and blinded by the strobes.
Decades into a career that began at Paris's fabled GRM, Argentinian innovator Beatriz Ferreyra is still worlds ahead, transmuting environmental recordings and snake-like foley rustles into cosmological whispers that ponder the universe's big questions.
Commissioned by the French state, "Senderos de luz y sombras" (or pathways of light and shadow) is the latest transmission from Beatriz Ferreyra, who composed the half-hour, 16-channel piece between 2016 and 2020. She was inspired by astrophysics (specifically the time before the Big Bang), and the world of the unconscious mind, and dedicates the composition to the memory of sound sculptor Bernard Baschet, electro-acoustic innovator Bernard Parmegiani, and her friend Carlos Pellegrino.
If you've heard her GRM releases, or Room40's two essential anthologies ("Echos+" and "Canto+"), then you'll no doubt already be intrigued - that material helped to cement Ferreyra's well-deserved place in the canon, her work speaks for itself. Ferreyra's fathoms-deep tape manipulation experimentation has inspired countless artists, from Keith Fullerton Whitman and Jim O'Rourke to Debit and Valerio Tricoli, and this latest full-length just reminds us how open-minded and freely experimental her compositions can be.
The piece is split into two side-long chunks, both of which tremble with eerie uncertainty. 'Senderos abismales' is gusty and effortlessly psychedelic, using carved-up field recordings to suggest familiarity before sending us wheezing into the cosmos. Ferreyra doesn't need much: the distinct sounds of tyres on wet tarmac, wind whispering in the distance, and distant birdsong are sculpted into a giddy, multidimensional lattice of chiseled sonics and ponderous philosophy. Her confidence is key here, and she never needs to do too much; the negative space is just as important as any chaotic moments, and the tiny breaths of harmony - from icy winds, spectral processing, or something else entirely - sound as if they're provoking life in a vacuum. Comparatively 'Senderos del olvido' is more upbeat, beginning with exploded star sound design that shifts thru a sci-fi spectrum without using any of the usual pneumatic sound effects that have become customary.
Ferreyra is too thoughtful to rest on obvious cultural totems. Her vision of cosmic emptiness is strikingly human; when she voyages into the abstract, her gurgling, digitally-reduced textures only remind us of the soul behind the complex processes. And just as her '70s tape music allowed us to feel an emotional connection to music that was too often lost in academia's back rooms, "Senderos de luz y sombras" reminds us that the same is true of contemporary computer music. If you enjoyed the run of recent Roland Kayn reissues, this one's gonna be absolutely required listening.
Larry Heard’s landmark debut album, proper, back in orbit for deep house fiends who’ve rinsed originals to bits, or new cats in need of a life upgrade
‘Sceneries Not Songs, Volume 1’ was first issued in 1994 on Heard’s Alleviated Records, some five years since his other landmark as Mr. Fingers, ‘Amnesia’ (1989). As the title implies, there are no vocal house anthems, as Heard took the opportunity to really indulge his jazziest side with supremely lush results distinguished by his silkiest keyboard chops and the plushest grooves, primed for transitioning from club to bedroom. As with his mid-late ‘80s classics, this album would also set the tone for successive waves of deep house artists, as likewise that sound’s refraction into strains of beatdown, broken beats and new age ambient house that would soundtrack the proceeding decades.
Dripping with debonaire cool, the nine parts toggle the tempo between strident deep house on opener ‘Dolphin Dream’ or the velvety sashay of ‘Midnight Movement’ to the winking, mid-tempo triplet shimmy of ‘Question of Time’, via lilting downstrokes of reggae-tinged beatdown on ‘Caribbean Coast’, and the shuffling frisson of oily, fretless bass emulation and icy FM synthesis in ’Snowcaps’ and the elegant glyde evoked in ’Tahiti Dusk’. Trust with certainty this is a masterclass of in-the-pocket moods and grooves, and a peerless bridge between modes of new age, ambient, jazz and machine music.
Feedback Moves follow that killer Pat Thomas jungle LP with stuttering/slompy screwballs by Lolina (Hype Williams) and London’s glitching free jazzoids @xcrswx .
Making no concessions to trend or expectation, both sets of artists push their side in unruly, unyielding forms of experimental music that smudge the lines of studio and live practice. Variously wielding an array of sampler-stabbed sax and drums on one side, and slurred turntablist vernacular on the other, they contrast pointillist and textural results in dare-to-differ styles that stem from Lolina’s invitation for @xcrswx to play live on her NTS show, which led o a collaboration for Cafe Oto’s lockdown streams, and a show, proper at the London venue in 2022.
The @xcrswx side features sections of recordings from the shows listed above torn to tatters and reassembled in refusenik fashion, hustling the sound of fireworks, convulsive snare hits and pitching sax into a sort of framework so rigid it’s kinda funky to freakier heads. Lolina’s side leads on from her experiments with turntablism on recent releases with screwy results recalling a loosey goosey Wanda Group work or Mica Levi’s chopped mad ones taken to nth degree, something like a gonzo snapshot of cavemen fucking with a CDJ.
With Peter Rehberg on laptop and zeitkratzer's Reinhold Friedl using his self-styled "inside piano" technique, this 2021 collaboration is as explosive as you'd expect, illuminated with bit-mangled distortion, scraping metal, and prepared strings.
When Editions Mego boss Peter Rehberg and Reinhold Friedl met for the first time, they didn't exactly see eye-to-eye. "We had very different backgrounds: he came from industrial and I had roots in classical music and improv, a high-brow prick," Friedl recalls in the album's accompanying press release. They had bumped into each other in Tokyo, when Friedl was putting together the fringe events for 2000's International Computer Music Conference. Friedl didn't fully understand Rehberg's music, despite having invited him to perform, and although they bumped into each other plenty of times in the following years they didn't have much to say to each other. That all changed at a concert in Vienna just over a decade ago, when the two played back to back sets and realized they had more in common than they'd assumed; a few dinners and long chats later and they were firm friends - fortunate since they lived only minutes from each other.
Pita/Friedl is pulled from two completely improvised sessions last year and is presented without editing. Just painstakingly mixed by Schneider TM's Dirk Dresselhaus, the album is otherwise untouched, standing as an accurate document of the duo's artistic conversation. Each track is named after an Italian word for noise, and this lightness characterizes the collaboration; the tracks are serious in many ways and musically rigorous, but the two friends have a way of puncturing the mood, never letting their sound travel too far into smug sound art. Instead, it's almost as if they're pushing at each other's musical boundaries. Friedl's well-worn technique of improvised experimental performance on the grand piano is surprisingly well matched with Rehberg's idiosyncratic laptop processes, providing depth and dimensionality to the buzzing clusters of distortion and hyperactive synthesized squeaks.
If you've come across Rehberg's iconic KTL recordings with Sunn O)))'s Stephen O'Malley, you'll have some idea of the way Reheberg is able to balance a collaborator's inherent strengths. There, he was able to amplify and multiply O'Malley's leviathan drones, here however, he pushes Friedl's instrumental rattles, clangs and low-end rumbles into the outer margins, sometimes mimicking them and blurring the line between the digital and acoustic realms, and often purposefully sticking out, allowing us to consider Friedl's technique by having our brain smoothed by Rehberg's comparative sonic sandpaper. The opening third 'Caciara' is a fascinating proof of concept that starts as it means to go on, playing Rehberg's unmistakable digital detritus against similar-but-different piano string manipulation from Friedl. It's music that wants us to consider pure sound - composition isn't the key here, the duo are improvising texturally and allowing the dynamics to shape themselves accordingly.
In the middle of the piece, prepared piano reverberations are matched by Rehberg's growling DSP that splinter into ear piercing oscillator wails. For a moment he plays the role of lead violin, and Friedl matches, the two capturing an almost meditative cacophony. Friedl bangs his piano strings with animalistic force, and Rehberg interrupts the drones to remind us that he's completely in control - but it's what comes next that's particularly impressive. Instead of progressively building into blasted noise, the track subsides gently to reveal Friedl's most gentle, evocative playing. For his part, Rehberg joins with dark, low-end textures that sound as if they've been drenched in liquid acid. Comparatively 'Chiassio' is more torched, sounding like an extended release of breath with both artists trading corrugated sheets of noise, almost never letting up.
'Clamore' is where the collaboration slips into its most comfortable gear. Here Rehberg is animated but somewhat restrained, operating in the high frequency range making his arsenal of plugins sound like jets of water against Friedl's studied preparations. The tension of this one is where it feels most impressive, and the two appear to let each other take the lead interchangeably, forcing the sound into different crevices and constantly bucking any expectations. Whether you're into brickwall sheet noise or the outer realms of modern improv, "Pita/Friedl" is an essential document of an unexpected collaboration. Huge recommendation.
The fourth album from Avey Tare, the solo project of Animal Collective’s Dave Portner.
"You remember how it was, don’t you, back in the Spring of 2020? Knowing so little about what any of us should do, so many of us crawled inside our quarters to find new obsessions or indulge the familiar ones, unencumbered by anything else we could do. At home in the woods on the eastern edge of Asheville, N.C., Avey Tare took the latter path, sequestering himself in his small home studio to sort the songs he’d written and recorded with friends in the instantly distant before times—Animal Collective’s Time Skiffs, of course, their astonishing document of communal creativity a quarter-century into the enterprise. He often worked there for 12 hours a day, tweaking mixes alone, save the birds and bears and his girlfriend, Madelyn. By Fall, though, it was done, so what next? How else should Avey now occupy himself in his cozy little room? The answer became 7s, his fourth solo album (and first in four years), an enchanting romp through the playground of his head. He wasn’t, however, going to do it alone.
During the first week of January 2021, Avey began making regular drives to his friend Adam McDaniel’s Drop of Sun Studios to give guts and flesh and color to the skeletal demos he’d made at home. They turned first to “Hey Bog,” a tune Avey had been tinkering with since he wrote it to have new material for a rare live performance years earlier. The inquisitive electronic meditation—all tiny percussive pops and surrealist textures at first—slowly morphs into a gem about surrendering cynicism and accepting the world a bit more readily, the call buttressed by trunk-rattling bass and spectral guitar. It feels like a lifetime map for new possibilities, encapsulated in nine absorbing minutes. The plot for 7s, then, was set: trusting, intuitive, exploratory collaboration among friends, after a Winter without it. These songs are like overstuffed jelly jars, cracking so that the sweetness oozes out into unexpected shapes. Still, the sweetness—that is, Avey’s compulsory hooks—remains at the center, the joy inside these Rorschach blots.
If Animal Collective has forever been defined by its charming inscrutability, Avey surrenders to a new intimacy and candor with 7s. Take “The Musical,” a bouncing ball of rubbery synths and wah-wah guitars that contemplates what draws someone to sound and how turning that calling into a profession can alter the source. “I can hear the mountains singing,” he counters with an audible smile wiped across his face, painting a postcard of his home amid one of the United States’ folk hubs, “and I do believe they could do that forever.”"
Romance & Dean Hurley smudge the collective timeline on a second collaborative album of youtube-sampling ambient fantasies, landing somewhere on the dial between meditation tape, social commentary and regression therapy. Stunning melodramatic wooze from the Lynchian paradigm - essential listening if yr into anything from The Caretaker to Julee Cruise.
Continuing their prismatic dissection of daytime soap operas, David Lynch’s chief sound designer Dean Hurley and Celine Dion-worshipping enigma Romance slide into the darkest recesses of fantasy-based escapism on an immersive followup to last year’s ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’. While that album spotlighted the omnipresence of daytime tv re-runs and pervasive, endlessly-looped broadcasts, ‘River of Dreams’ examines the interior, mental imbalance sewn by obsessive fandom. As the pair explain, “…the same waters that harvest and transport buoyant dreams, often funnel into nightmarish, tumultuous oceans…”
Just as Twin Peaks eyeballed the grotesque energy bubbling beneath the surface of suburban America, ‘River of Dreams’ looks at the same phenomenon using the passing of time as a magnifying component. Lynch's original series was tangled in 1980s and '90s soap themes that have almost lost their relevance four decades later, and so the album’s sanded-down pads, gooey, hyper-emotional loops and detached vocal snippets satirise the past just as much as they idolise it.
'My Heart Beats In Dreams' is an apt example, steering the mood into a bleak windswept landscape scored by tempestuous whistling. In the background, the faintest outline of a beat - memories of a (wavey black & white) dancefloor refracted thru our shared cultural dreamscape. Heavy machinery (a logging saw?) whirrs into the frame, a Hollywood-ready low-end rumbles beneath. Stop - we're back in the 1960s again, rousing from an underwater hallucination, tumbling through multiple timelines in a constant emotional flux.
On the closing track 'Wake Up’, the pair use their faded loops to rotate us into the void for one last dance. A child calls out "it's time," and an eerily familiar VHS buzz serenades us into silence.
Bianca Scout follows collaborations with Space Afrika, Ben Vince, and Elena Isolini with a spellbinding new album of hypnagogic aether-pop, blunted after-hours ambience, and chopped-n-screwed sacred music - highly recommended if yr into Grouper, Empress, Teresa Winter or Eartheater.
'The Heart of the Anchoress' twists diaristic recordings into a dissociated long-form narrative interspersed with spiralling lullabies and clipped rhythms weaving around the famous pipe organ at Camberwell's St. Giles' Church (where much of the album was recorded) and a chaotic south London ambiance that adds texture and a rattling percussion to each track.
In a cultural landscape trapped in a nostalgia loop, it's refreshing to hear an artist make distinctly British music that's haunted without being hauntological. Scout avoids obvious references, drawing on a musical vocabulary that's as informed by contemporary pop as it is experimental forms. In her hands, medieval church music compliments autotuned vocals, wobbly afterhours bass drones, and cultural references to a lifestyle that's rooted in the post-pan reality. 'The Heart of the Anchoress' is a folk album that feels philosophically lashed to the club, yet makes none of the usual broad strokes to get our minds there.
On opener 'Empty Space’, organ wails, plucked strings and pedal bumps pierce the room, giving way to rotating foley rhythms that sound like an inverse 4/4. Is it a kick drum or a cable being pulled from an amplifier? Loose beats collide with each other like derailed trains, and Scout's choral vocals swirl into intense sheets of noise. 'Vanguard' extends these ideas further, looping wooden clacks as a foundation for wavering organ drones and Scout's unforgettable vocal turn, placing her somewhere between Empress's Nicola Hodgkinson and Eartheater, flitting from dry British nonchalance to hyperdream poptimism seamlessly.
It's the low-key moments that stand out most: 'Chorus' and 'Lamina' shuttle Scout's voice into the background, submerging it in reverb and echo. The latter dispenses with them almost entirely, foregrounding nauseous organ oozes that build into a fervent crescendo. Elsewhere, Scout embodies the folk whispers that run throughout the album on 'Phantom Limb', wailing an uncannily beautiful song that materialises like mist on a bronze age burial mound. And while so many contemporary artists are more than happy to look into the past simply for decoration, Scout sounds as if she's channeling spirits that control and traumatise her. 'The Heart of the Anchoress' is melancholy and euphoric, angry and ecstatic - its an album that fits the contemporary mood, as we wonder whether to lose ourselves in digital confusion or escape into a past that's deep, dark, and druidic.
The label that gave us that incredible album from Dawuna returns with a gripping debut from Skins; a London-based Tamil-Canadian producer folding dreampop and shoegaze archetypes into moody drum machine edits and ambient soundscapes somewhere between Alex Zhang Hungtai and Yves Tumor.
’Never Cursed ( ஒேபா சபகபடதிைல)’ is an unpredictable introduction to skins’ ethereal, drifting meditations. A onetime producer for Metro Zu and Goth Money, his early, collage-style productions are here mixed with a palette of piano, organ, violin, guitar and washed-out effects. The flux of styles reflects a life in transit from his parents’ home in Jaffna, Sri Lanka to Toronto, CA, where the instrumental parts were recorded at St. James Cathedral, and ultimately to London, where he is now based, and whose mutant underground patently informs his nods to the post-everything scuzz, the radical ends of rap, and ambient-pop-noise.
As debut statements of intent go, ‘Never Cursed’ leaves a heady impression. The plangent, instrumental blooz of ‘my life, my soul, and all that i sacrifice’ sounds like some Sade breakdown wafting over a Cocteau Twins instrumental from another room; harmonised, cascading guitar and whirling sax - blissed and immeasurably sad.
From here, the album runs like a downbeat mixtape, submerged hip hop drums, melancholy, psychedelically-activated texturing. ‘Thick skin’ could almost be Honour jamming with Grouper, and the grungy swag of ‘tidying a tide’ feels like Yves Tumor on a downer, while ‘skin extract’ or ‘hide’ land in the midst of Oxhy or Felix Lee’s emo-tronica.
The final transition from ‘when will the leaves at my window turn green’ to ‘my looking glass’ and the heart-in-mouth denouement of ‘at the altar’ exemplify a knack for harder-to-place, mutant ambient chamber musick á la the c.a.n.v.a.s. label or even James Ferraro. Like pretty much everything we’ve heard from the shadowy O___o? stable, it comes shrouded in a peculiar fog of mystery and romance.
Definitive edition of Movietone’s ’90s Bristol post-rock classic, augmented with previously CD-only bonus bits, single tracks, and demos - manna for mopes, and anyone on the line from Sonic Youth to MBV, Third Eye Foundation, Galaxie 500, The Pastels.
“Movietone was the cumulation of a series of events, explorations, and discoveries, starting at secondary school – the group’s core membership of Kate Wright, Rachel Brook, Matt Elliott and Matt Jones met at Cotham School in Bristol. As for many other groups, their early years were all about experimenting, and finding ways to ‘make do’, a DIY sensibility that would inform Movietone through their decade-long lifespan. From formative rehearsals in a shed in the garden of Brook’s family home, to recording early material to four-track in Redland Library, and on into the Whitehouse and Mr Grin’s studio sessions for their debut album, Movietone’s music fell together in a creatively unpredictable, yet conceptually rigorous manner.
By the time they released Movietone, they’d found a home with Bristol’s Planet, run by author Richard King and James Webster, who had both released their first two singles, “She Smiled Mandarine Like” and “Mono Valley”. There was other music happening around them in Bristol, too, from the Jones brothers’ avant-rock outfit Crescent (who were Movietone’s closest conspirators), through Elliott’s jungle/electronica project Third Eye Foundation, and Brook and Elliott’s membership of Flying Saucer Attack. A closely knit community, Movietone are the centre of this nestling architecture of groups.
The vision in the music, mostly, belongs to Wright, but Movietone ran in democratic creative consort. Listening back to Movietone, you can hear this democracy in action through the wildness of the music, which is balanced by the poetics of Wright’s lyrics and melodies. Full of half-captured memories and entangled abstractions, there’s an elliptical, ruminative quality to much of the writing here that shows the deep influence of the Beat Generation writers, along with a twilight environment captured in the songs that’s pure third-album Velvets, Galaxie 500, early Tindersticks, Codeine. Unpredictable interventions – the crashing glass in “Mono Valley”, the sudden explosions of “Orange Zero” – point towards the noise blowouts of My Bloody Valentine, the unpredictability of Sonic Youth; Wright’s understated vocal cadence suggest a deep, embodied understanding of John Cage’s Indeterminacy.
Movietone would go on to make three fantastic albums for Domino – Night & Day (1997), The Blossom Filled Streets (2000) and The Sand & The Stars (2003) – and their Peel Sessions were released early in 2022 by Textile. Still held in high regard by artists like Steven R. Smith, and The Pastels, whose Stephen McRobbie once described them as “one of the great unknown English groups,” it’s an absolute thrill to listen to Movietone anew – still inspired, still seductive, still magic, still mysterious.”
Alone with the Sound the Mind Makes by Koleżanka on Bar/None Records.
"While koleżanka's previous album, Place Is, was about life on the road and the people you meet living out of a suitcase, the new album is all about being alone at home. The voices that you hear in your head when you remember what it was like to hang out with friends. The drinks shared and the stories remembered."
A.G. Cook huddles PC Music’s hyperpop chums on a 3rd best-of group pose as the label approaches its 10th year, featuring Danny L. Harle, Hannah Diamond, Lil Data, Hyd, felicity, easyFun, and all your faves.
While it’s sometimes too easy to write off PC Music as a posh in-joke, it would be remiss of us, and you, to overlook their strongpoints in turning out factory-milled hard diamonds of pop and experimental dance music that undeniably cut to where matters.
For every annoying TikTok dance meme-type beat, there’s dead strong moments such as the synth pop of ‘Party’ by Planet 1999, the radgie makina nod of ‘Burnnn’ by Lil Data, or Hyd’s classy arena pop banger ‘Skin 2 Skin’, and at best, the bossman A.G. Cook recycling his studio work with Charli XCX on the obsessively detailed squealer ‘Xcxoplex’.
Numero's compilation, I'm Not Your Toy, featuring the music of Peter Barclay.
"The diminutive Peter Barclay was that guy in early ’90s Oakland, the eccentric with the most style, the most talent, the local magician. This self-taught musical wizard recorded at home and produced two barely released albums, 1990’s dreamlike Acceptance and 1992’s synth pop What Kind Of World, winning over the few who heard them.
But fame outside his small circle was not to be, and Barclay was lost in the late-’90s crest of the AIDS epidemic. Rediscovered for a new generation, this is queer music at its finest."
Rebecca Black, Hannah Diamond, Cecile Believe, Tommy Cash, and many more, lend vox to umru’s first album
One of PC Music’s relatively newer recruits to the hyperpop frontline of the 2020’s, New York’s umru trades in the sort of EDM and TikTok pop-adjacent songwriting and production that draws a line in the metaphorical sand between epochs. You’ll either love it break bones wincing at the nowness of ‘comfort noise’, which wears its contemporary styles proudly with appearance of ‘Friday’ singer Rebecca Black - one of her generation’s most definitive and divisive gobs - on ‘heart2’, while Tommy Cash’s kompromat on Danny L Harle earns him a spot on ‘check1’, and PC Music MVP Hannah Diamond jumps in on the gurned EDM-reggaeton of ‘all i need’. However, umru is at best when undressed of collaborators and left to his own devices on the title tune, a beat-less number recalling an AI emulating The Dream, or likewise SOPHIE’s work with Charli XCX.
Mindbending Artificial Intelligence-era business from David Moufang (Move D) and Jonah Sharp (Spacetime Continuum), remastered and still sounding like one of the finest records of its time. One for anyone thirsty for more longform electro-ambient backroom cloudiness in the vein of B12, 'Incunabula'-era AE, The Black Dog, Speedy J, F.U.S.E. or Bola. Also - 'Long Leaves' is surely one of the most important buried-anthems of that whole era, right?
Recorded in San Francisco way back in 1993 and released in '94, "rEAGENZ" was the duo's debut album. Fittingly, they had first made contact at an Autechre show, and expanded their love of the Artificial Intelligence scene's chemical fusion of spacious pads and cycling drum machine patterns with a series of long, heady jams. The record reflects the duo's geographic separation perfectly; Sharp's Detroit-influenced, US-centered sci-fi alienation is cooled by Moufang's intricate Deutch warehouse rave styling and inherent Euro drugginess.
After three decades, it's hard to understand why this album has been so underrated for so long. It's tied to a lineage that connects it to some of the era's most beloved milestones, but also veers confidently into its own hyperspecific direction. At the moment there's a surge of interest in the 1990s chill-out rooms and their effervescent electronic soundtracks, but "rEAGENZ" tells that tale better than most. With long passages of improvised rhythmic experimentation and almost jazzy melodic interplay, it avoids the played-out tricksiness of many IDM records of the era in favor of pure, unadulterated vibes.
This was exactly how it felt to be situated in a club's side room, recovering from whatever, while being exposed to sounds that felt as if they were splitting yet consciousness open. Each track melts into the next, as warm waves of analog synth wash thru mind-tickling beatbox cycles and pinprick bass. With a sparkling remaster, there's never been a better time to get acquainted with this underrated classic. And yeah, 'Long Leaves'.
The fourth album from Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, via Rocket Recordings.
"Whether inhabiting the realm of dreams or nightmares, the primordial drive of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs is more powerful than ever and ‘Land Of Sleeper’, their fourth record in a decade of rancour and revelation is testimony to this. Arguably the most potent and assured record of their storied life so far, it’s the product of a band energised and fortified by their individual passions to incendiary effect.
After the travails of the years since 2020’s ‘Viscerals’ ‘Land Of Sleeper’ sees the Newcastle-based quintet not so much reinvigorated as channelling a furious drive which only appears to gather momentum as the band’s surroundings spins on their axis. For all that the last few years have seen Pigs’ stature rise in the wake of triumphant festival slots and sold-out venues like, this remains a band fundamentally incapable of tailoring their sound to a prospective audience, rather standing alone and impervious as a monument of catharsis.
The better to unite slumber and waking, ‘Land Of Sleeper’ is no less than an act of transcendence for Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs - new anthems to elucidate a world sleepwalking to oblivion."
Electronic duo Orbital's Optical Delusion, the Hartnoll brothers' first studio album since 2018’s Monster’s Exist.
"Recorded in Orbital’s Brighton studio, Optical Delusion includes contributions from Sleaford Mods, Penelope Isles, Anna B Savage, The Little Pest, Dina Ipavic, Coppe, and perhaps most surprisingly, The Medieval Baebes.
For the first single Orbital have joined forces with Sleaford Mods on their fabulous, furious single “Dirty Rat”. Featuring a searing vocal from Jason Williamson over kinetic, driving beats, “Dirty Rat” is Orbital at their most vital, still utterly relevant and pushing forward over 30 years since they broke through with their landmark single “Chime”. Think KLF or Underworld 'Born Slippy’ - ‘Dirty Rat’ is a primal scream which crosses genres and generations."
Ace bleep and early trance from the archives of Dan Piu.
Miami’s Terrestrial Funk dig deep into the annals of Piu prior to the foundation of his No Acting Vibes and Moto Music labels later in the mid ‘90s. The styles are easy to pinpoint around classic bleep techno and early trance, dancing from the effortless deep bleep roller ‘Aromatic Love Potion 23’ to a more rugged, acidic variation ‘Hypnophobia’ flush with pads and seriously nagging 303 work.
The cherry on this first cake of the series is ‘Transmania’, which switches from crisp electro to a sort of proggy bleep trance gilded with gorgeous pads, mutating between acid, electro, and what would calcify into trance down the years.
Left Ear excavate another clutch of vintage new wave and experimental opals from down under, sure to pique interests of anyone tracking the contemporary Melbourne scene revolving around HTRK, CS + Kreme, YL Hooi, Laila Sakini etc.
Encompassing gems hitherto hidden from our northern hemisph-ears, ‘Antipodean Anomalies’ racks up memorable introductions to micro-scenes from Australia & New Zealand 1980-82, doubling down on the ambitions of their first volume in 2018 with twice as many tunes on vol. 2, again plucked from obscurity by Chris Bonato, now with Bridget Small on co-curating duties. It highlights how tight-knit communities of artist-musicians connected with each other, their landscapes, and the entwined histories of Antipodean immigrants and the continent’s native peoples via an abundance of captivating spirit, empathy and imagination.
Studded with nuggets such as Jane Stevenson’s meditation on a skipping record ’Soloaloha’, or the ahead-of-its-time new age dance music of ‘Jungles’ by Tim Gruchy, and thru to Dome-like post-punk haunting of TCH or the lounging sublime of Clout; the sets portrays a wider picture of disparate artists linked by a contemplative quality and sensuousness to their musics. Some, like Colin Offord with ‘Absolutely Wired’ channel an earthy bluesiness that resonates indigenous African as much as Aborigine Australian styles, and patently shares a vision with Roger Frampton’s dusky evocation of landscape in ‘Open as the Sky’, and likewise Back To Back Zithers’ duet with its troglofauna on ‘Cicadas’.
More pertinently for anyone keeping tabs on contemporary Aussie music, the dreamy drum machine and synth bop of DNA Lounge clearly pre-echoes the likes of HTRK, and Height/Dismay’s cover of ‘Girl from Ipanema’ could likewise by compared with YL Hooi, or Will Kuiper’s ‘Diffusion’ with Carla Dal Forno, while (left) ear candy by Kiri uu and Buchanan Holbrook’s 9 min new age odyssey ‘Hunger’ keep the set wide open and brimming with a seductive, unexplored, optimist allure that’s hard to shake once inside.