Laurel Halo stakes an eagerly and widely awaited return with the beguiling 4.1 world techno dimensions of 'In Situ' for Honest Jon's after cutting her teeth with highly acclaimed albums and EPs for Hippos In Tanks (R.I.P.) and Hyperdub.
Arriving two years since the Ann Arbor-quartered musician began testing a new hardware set-up on 'Chance of Rain', Laurel has refined those slightly clunky experiments here with a fluidly dextrous approach to Afro-inspired, rhythmelodic drum programming taught by psychedelic jazz and cosmic electronica.
It's a mental playground of fantastic dancefloor geometries, blooming at every angle with refreshed ideas of alien scales and hieroglyphic drum patterns designed to be deciphered by bodies in motion and heads in flight.
With nods to Afrikan Sciences, Kerry Leimer and Actress, she commands her machines with a deceptively loose sense of control, encouraging them to chatter freely, coolly, resulting in the ingneous, midnight groove formations of 'Focus I' and the future primitive techno funk of 'Drift', beside the discombobulated topographies of 'Nah' and the footworking centrifuge, 'Leaves'.
Time will tell, but this may well be one of the 2015's most impressive, nuanced collections of new electronica. A massive recommendation!
Bubbling up from the archive, a brilliantly warped, acidic and intoxicating décollage of soundsystem shrapnel rinsed thru the echo chamber. RIYL Tapes, Raymond Scott, Ennio Morricone, Horsepower Productions
“Shimmering hologram oases belie the bone-dry heat inna this ya ghost-bloodcl@$t-town; When tumbleweed beliefs pose as the only sign of life, it's time to step into Death's saloon; Bust down the dusty double-swinging doors even the Preacher-man dares not enter!
The Bartender has run out of liquor and listening; Sullied Doves have danced their last number; Lawmen, levelled and long-gone, litter the dance floor; Bodied outlaws doubled and draped over the bar. When the only exit is a horse-drawn hearse; Face to face with Death, who will shoot first!?!
Step into this rattlesnake-ridden realm! Dancehall Showdown is a crazy non-place world where 60’s Spaghetti Westerns, 70’s Library Synth Records and 90’s Golden Era Dancehall come together for a death-defying communion inna Yard! The old posse of SKRS and MX7 ride once again under the banner of their co-run label, ICS Library Records, off into the fringes of sound-based reality.
SKRS' OG Papa Coolbreeze reinforces their select palette, "This album is our reiteration of influences ranging from Spaghetti Western era Upsetters to Raymond Scott's Manhattan Research Inc. to early Horsepower Productions. Now the soundtrack we paint, however, is something entirely unique on its own". Simply put: there's NOTHING like it out there!
Full disclosure: this LP has been shelved for well over 3 years now with the sudden disappearance of Oklahoma's now-mythical Digitalis Recordings, who were set to release it hot on the heels of their 2012 SKRS debut LP, TheCallFromBelow. Since then, we've laboured to break more ground and lay several more keystones in the growing SKRS/ICS groundation-foundation in order to withstand its intensifying expanse and weight. Now that the ground has been prepared, we've decided to take Dancehall Showdown back into our own hands and give it the proper love and nurturing we had always intended for it.”
Glass offers the sublime results of a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), as performed and recorded at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut during the private opening to Yayoi Kusama’s installation marking the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth.
Making sterling use of the landmark architectural work’s pellucid dimensions, the pair fixed contact mics to its glass walls, which they effectively played as an “instrument”, rubbing it with rubber gong mallets to generate delicate tones which they combined with a sympathetic palette of singing glass bowls, crotales, keyboards and mixers.
The seamless performance of floating, weightless tones and exquisitely quivering timbres is without doubt one of their finest. For the duration we’re held static and spellbound by the pair’s interplay of microtonal shifts and plasmic chronics, keening the listener thru hazes of digital dust and vortices of angelic harmonics to locate, alchemise and resolve a rarified, deeply mysterious spirit before the piece closes.
As the follow-up to their OST for The Revenant  and the warbling keys of Summvs  before that, the achingly lush tension of Glass is perhaps the purest testament to the clarity of vision and endless minimalist mutability of this highly revered duo.
Carsten Nicolai’s Noton present a masterclass in minimalist electronic discipline with Mika Vainio, Ryoji Ikeda + Alva Noto’s powerfully future-proofed Live 2002 performance, recorded at Newcastle’s Baltic arts centre.
The only known recording of the trio, as far as we’re aware, Live 2002 documents three visionary artists in seamless, indivisible collaboration segueing from sublime drone darkness (Movements 1) thru what sounds like a massive computer server centre playing dancehall (Movements 2 + 4), to fiercely dense electro dynamics (Movements 6) and passages of purest, rolling techno pressure (Movements 8), intercut with bodiless, beatless electronic frequency massages.
Being familiar with each artist’s respective, individual catalogues, we’re pretty astonished at the level of democratic control between the three singular producers. While it’s maybe possible (or pedantic) to pick out who’s doing what, and where and when, ultimately the 45 minute performance is a lesson in subtlety and restraint at the service of generating powerful, coolly organised pressure systems, without recourse to convention/cliché (delete as applicable), offering electronic sounds at the purest and perhaps even egoless. Definitely no grandstanding doofus in front of a massive IPhone screen filtering dull as fuck doofs here.
Techno don Dave Foster (Teste) follows his fecund form with a 2nd Huren mauling dispatched on Clan Destine
Physically and emotionally guttural, ‘Shitpusher Sinfonie’ finds Foster pulling away from techno proper and into more unpredictable, strung-out styles that play up to his noisy, gothic moody c*nt side.
Arriving two years after his ‘CHANGE R00M VI0LATI0N$’ tape, Huren’s latest batch is one of his most varied in memory, keening from the chopped & screwed styles of ‘[Endlostonband]’ to turgid rhythmic noise in ‘Balalaika Crypt’, and what sounds like Salem or Mark Hollis slowed 200% in the extruded blooz of ‘Immobilien Kosmiche’.
‘Spank Mag Disposal’ is a filthy black hole of head-squashing distortion, constrastin smartly with the prolapsing relief of ’Temirtau’, while ‘Поп 3итĭt¥’ comes off like a severely blunted mix of the ‘Lyubov’ bewt which closed his recent Teste 12”.
mhah mos hit square between the ears of Lord Tusk, Black Zone Myth Chant and John T. Gast on their mystically frazzled debut EP with Kinlaw’s Ceramics label
In ‘loot’ they traverse a steeply psychedelic 10 minutes of sawn-off and slowed-down voices, lysergic synth licks and whirligig rhythms that black out and collapse into mystic ambient dimensions with an abstract but absorbing logic.
With ‘gov’ mos pursues a soggier rut of slow techno chug into an increasingly thick and hazy maze of strobing chords and noisy decay that eventually breaks down under its own density to a whimpering synth voice.
Continuing a home run of zingers on Jai and Anup Paul’s Paul Institute, Rutheven lets his soul flow on the memorably infectious ‘Hypothalamus’...
The kind of tune that will call to mind a dozen others that you can’t place a finger on, ‘Hypothalamus’ is an instant anthem of the kind that should be A-listed on commercial radio in a perfect world, and makes up for so much overblown, too-many-cooks soul currently in circulation.
Funky and f**ked-up studies in DIY dance music and noise from Gunnar Wendel (Kassem Mosse) as DJ Residue for TTT
Recorded over the course of “five days in summer in an apartment with no AC in New York with random instruments found inside the apartment (a moog radioshack synth & two zildjian cymbals).”, the results are a testament to Wendel’s ingenuity and economy in making the most of what he’s got to hand.
The results resemble Powell oddities as much as the worn-down grooves of Shamos or the stoic minimalism of Thomas Brinkmann, except more lo-fi. On the A-side he roves from blank-eyed and muggy drones in ‘Blackline’ to the off-centre pump and patter of ‘Hand-Crafted Among The Stars’, and a sort of salty, needling electro-acid on ‘Triple-Arched Gateway’. On the B-side, he tramples from the discordant triage of ‘Meditation Fee’ to the pulsing slug of the title track and a sort of free jazz blatz to finish with Shallow Bowl.
Deeper, jazzier tricks from LT, carrying the vibe to RSI from earlier appearance on YAM Recordings
It’s pleasant, summery stuff with noteworthy cuts in the jazzy NYC house sensibilities of ‘Untitled (Chesney)’, and, better yet, the gauzy jungle dream sequence of ‘Forest Floor’, which sounds like a melted LTJ Bukem.
Bradley Zero and Mali Baden-Powell offer extra production on the other two tracks, a jazzy breakbeat number named ‘Mesosphere’, and ‘North Circular’.
Sci-fi bass/techno tribalism from Australia via Canada’s Infinite Machine
“The concept for the 'Terran' EP is centred around a lone human drifting through space, planet to planet. Who this person might be is irrelevant – it can be anyone, any gender, any race. What is important is that this person is undergoing a treacherous journey deep into the unknown. They are alone on this journey and it is no easy task, but their resilience and determination to carry on is what drives them forward.
The premise within this is based around the idea of each individuals own suffering, each person who walks this earth faces their own obstacles, which ultimately at its core is beyond their control. Much like the Terran drifting through space, the unknown of space parallels the unknown future of life, and the endless possibilities that perpetually arise throughout it.The EP is presented as a sense of hope – encouragement to all that even though they often drift through their spiritual life alone, they are not alone on this journey. Each Terran faces the blackness of space in their own way, and they too can choose how they perceive this arduous, yet immensely worthwhile experience.
What might seem like a crushing, over encumbering existence, at times, only adds to the worth of life. Life is a challenge – and it should be – as overcoming the challenge and powering on, despite the odds, makes each day and each moment (a keepsake if you will) innumerably more valuable.
There is no real sense of completion within this journey too, as 'home' is something that the Terran will not experience again. 'Home', or 'Earth' in many ways is birth through this allegory, and every moment from this point becomes the struggle of existence. One can never step backwards to another moment in time that has already passed, as the world will not allow you to return to your previous spiritual self. The only true and just way is forward, further into the abyss of the universe.”
Metasplice return an absorbingly elusive, minimalist shadow of their former, noisy selves with ‘Mirvariates’ for Will Bankhead’s The Trilogy Tapes
Following a slight hiatus and a canny rethink of their sound, Metasplice’s first new studio album in five years, Mirivates defines the Philadelphian duo’s acute inversion from noisy roil to shimmering lower case sounds across seven tracks embracing negative space as a vital new part of their music.
Gauging by the skinny, barely-there aesthetics of Marinates, one would be forgiven for thinking that Metasplice only submitted the scrubbed stems of the album to TTT. However, closer listening reveals a series of oblique, abstract electro-acoustic ecosystems that bristle with virulent energy, perhaps emulating the varied ambiences of a space station (“Mir”?), the coded inner dialogues of stressed out machinery, or the sound of the Internet of Things plotting their take-over of humanity in encrypted electro-magnetic chatter.
Over the course of seven tracks they pay special attention to volume dynamics and texture, with fathomless abstract shapes looming from the darkness in persistently reorienting and amorphous style, as the imagined “walls” of each piece seem to dissolve and establish new dimensions within each cut, from the tentatively perilous explorations of ‘Cirrension’, to the free jazz-like squabble of ‘Teleric’, thru the clipped gamelan resonances of ‘Vase Weight Re-Route’, and the Xth Reeflexion-liek fuss of ‘Aridtaq’, and up to the parting, side-long denouement of ‘Speculen’, where a melodic spirit seems to be seductively struggling thru their finely graded textures and airborne sediments.
It’s all effectively and undoubtedly a radical break with past Metasplice releases, reeling away from the ‘floor to somewhere much more abstract and difficult to properly fathom with words. It’s best to just treat these recordings like seashells scavenged from the liminal shores of perception, awaiting your close ear inspection and interpretation.
The desire to discover and delve into new and unexplored areas of music has turned attention on the Japanese jazz scene of the 1970s, often regarded as its gilded age.
"The recent compilation J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969-1984 threw much needed light on this fascinating era and presented a range of artists and music that surprised and delighted all who heard it. A key track on the compilation was one of the rarest and least known: Dead Letter by the Tohru Aizawa Quartet, taken from an album that was so elusive, some pondered whether it even existed.
The album, Tachibana, was recored in 1975 and, until included on the J Jazz compilation, was unknown except to a small group of obsessive Japanese jazz collectors. The privately pressed record was the only album made by the Quartet, four amateur musicians who were university students at the time. The session was financed by a local businessman, Ikujiroh Tachibana, who pressed up a few hundred copies to use as a business card. In the intervening 40 odd years since its recording, few copies have surfaced, making it an in-demand yet elusive artefact from the golden age of Japanese jazz. BBE Records are honoured to present a fully authorised reissue of this holy grail, licensed directly from the band themselves.
Tachibana has all the necessary components of a cult album: pressed in small numbers, a few mysterious and vague details about its origins, languishing in obscurity for decades and, above all, superb musical craftsmanship and skill. It can now be enjoyed by a new audience around the world. The album opens with the dynamic percussion workout Philosopher’s Stone written by the then law-student and drummer Tetsuya Morimura. It propels along with the band at full pelt, showcasing Morimura’s well-developed drumming style. For a teenage amateur player to compose and perform such an accomplished and impressive piece is a testament to the talent that the band contained. Philosopher’s Stone is followed by Sacrament, an epic modal composition by saxophonist Kiyochiro Morimura that fans of Wayne Shorter, Pharaoh Sanders and late-era John Coltrane will appreciate. After an extended intro the band drop into a heavy, churning groove, Morimura’s saxophone scorching above the volcanic rhythm section. Dead Letter, written by Aizawa himself, is an epic piano led symphony of spiritual jazz. Think McCoy Tyner at his imperial finest and you’ll get a favour: impact, emotion and power all suffuse to create a overwhelming experience. Amazingly, this is still the only Aizawa composition yet to be recorded.
The Tachibana album also includes two cover versions, both Latin favoured numbers delivered with élan and brio: La Fiesta by Chick Corea and the classic Samba de Orfeu by Luiz Bonfá. So, just five tracks in total, the sole existing evidence of an astonishing band, the Tohru Aizawa Quartet."
Featuring tracks by rkss, Joane Styler, Gramercy, Filter Dread and more, the Ceramics label’s 1st compilation is finally with us on digital format
As to be expected, the set serves a varied frolic around the fringes of electronica, turning up some mutant highlights in the nervously skeletal grime twitch of Filter Dread’s ‘Tribal Cyborg’ and the odd tension between drily funky rhythms and salty noise blatz in RKSS’ ‘Rim’, while 1127 also leaves their mark with the convulsive computer music reflux of ‘PAT TWIFT’. You’ll also find Gramrcy on apulsing, glassy, beat-less tip with ‘Tree Noise’, and a daft, bendy winner from Joane Styler in ‘Bisque’.
David Holmes channels Angelo Badalamenti in fine style...
“50 minutes of new, original music from David Holmes soundtracking Steven Soderbergh’s six part tale of passion, intrigue and deception.
Initially released as an interactive app in which the viewer directed the narrative - Mosaic is a six-part HBO series conceived and directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Sharon Stone. Mosaic is a twisting tale of passion, intrigue and deception focusing on the disappearance of a high-profile resident of picturesque Summit, Utah and the four-year effort by law- enforcement and civilians to discover the truth behind the crime.
With that in mind, Mosaic’s original soundtrack weaves as intriguing a tale. Recorded between Belfast and Los Angeles by Holmes, the album features a modern-day Wrecking Crew of musicians. Echoes of Maestro Morricone abound alongside the influence of avant-garde pioneers and Holmes' current soundtrack contemporaries in a selection of deep listening tracks.
To quote Mark Kermode, 'Mosaic' outlines Holmes’ expertise at “ratcheting up the tension” with strings, horns and synthesizers swelling throughout. As this tension peaks there is inevitable release - in rhythmic and harmonic tracks such as ‘What I Want Is The Red Room’ and Badalamenti-esque lounge eeriness in the likes of ‘Four Years Later’ - guiding the 20 cues presented on this release into a cohesive, full and nuanced album that reveals subtle and rewarding intricacies on each repeated listen. ‘Mosaic’ once again outlines Holmes as a modern master of the original soundtrack.”
Godfather of the current Peckham sound, Wbeeza turns out three deep warehouse jams for London’s Troy Town label and party series...
Landing 3 years since his 12”s for Arma and Secrtesundaze, ‘The OD’ is built for dirty, decadent nights in scuzzy joints, packing the deeply hypnotic acid momentum of ‘The OD’ alongside the lip-smacking garage swang and wavy lead of ‘Grove Park’ and the party-ready Detroit burn of ‘Bizzle Boogie’.
Merzbow goes beak-to-tail with Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu) and Lawrence English’s HEXA duo, producing each other’s sides to find a noisy black hole at the centre of their putative styles. Don’t miss the whooping ace, ‘Merzhex, Pt.4’!
“The esoteric noise duo known as HEXA is the sonic union of Xiu Xiu’s focal point Jamie Stewart and sonic provocateur Lawrence English. Forged out of a mutual interest in exotic birds and the decaying charms of the post-industrial age, their collaboration explores the physicality of sound and its abilities to infiltrate and occupy the body. Their collaborative work has been described as being possessed by cascading low frequency pulses and tectonic plates of sound, suspended in cavernous cathedral-like spaces.
Legendary noise artist Merzbow needs no introduction, given his prolific output and notorious experiments within the realm of human endurance and audible extremes. While Merzbow has remained a solemn figure within the canon of noise, and he is no stranger to the members of HEXA. Jamie Stewart and Merzbow worked together as a duet on a collaborative Merzxiu LP in 2015. On the other side of the spectrum, Lawrence English has curated numerous concerts for Merzbow across his native Australia.
A partnership of these three artists was born out of the collective goal of framing their work against particular sonic and visual architectures. HEXA’s initial utilization of this idea, Factory Photographs, was a commissioned piece to soundtrack the photography of film maker David Lynch. HEXA approached Merzbow with the idea of a collaboration that sought to collide their particular approach to physical sonics against Merzbow’s resoundingly ontological noise practice.
The result of this collision turned into a full length album, aptly titled Achromatic. Focus laid on the severe reverberation of relative noises, brandishing extreme frequencies familiar only to Merzbow and coupled by HEXA’s brutalist pulsation. Each side of the album is produced and mixed by the other, making their audio interpretation of Achromatic a sort of reverse exquisite corpse. A true snapshot afterthought from the decay of the modern age.”
Following on from his works Stories and Apologues, Berlin-based composer and vibraphonist Masayoshi Fujita returns with his new album Book of Life, the third instalment in a trilogy of solo vibraphone recordings.
"With Book of Life Masayoshi continues his mission in bringing the vibraphone — a relatively new invention in the history of instruments often kept in the background in orchestras and jazz outfits — into the spotlight. Having trained as a drummer, Masayoshi began experimenting with the vibraphone, preparing its bars with kitchen foil or beads, playing it with the cello bow such as in Fog or using the other end of the mallets to create a more ambient texture of sound, as with the title track. Focussing on the vibraphone in this way sets Masayoshi apart, dedicating his artistic life to celebrating this fascinating and often underappreciated instrument and making his take on ambient and modern compositional styles a unique one.
“I think the vibraphone is capable of more interesting and beautiful sounds that haven’t been heard before. It’s quite a new instrument but it’s often played in a similar way. I feel that there is a lot more to explore with this exciting instrument.”
Book of Life sees Masayoshi expand on his compositional skills, bringing in more orchestral elements such as strings, brass and even a choir to interact with the vibraphone. And not just any choir — members of this chorus include musical friends Peter Broderick, Hatis Noit, David Allred and Shards who featured on Nils Frahm’s latest album All Melody. The instruments come to represent characters in Masayoshi’s stories, hinted at in each accompanying text contained in the album booklet, which Masayoshi recites at his live performances. They set the scene for each piece, for example “the choir in Misty Avalanche is meant to resemble the blizzard, while the vibraphone is the bird hovering above,” he explains.
The title track however, was unusual from the start; “Book Of Life is very different to my other songs. It was about humans, whereas the other songs are all about animals and nature. And it was improvised initially, whereas normally my songs are composed and planned. This one was free. I scratched the vibraphone bar as if I was writing something. An image connected in my mind: these two people meeting and sharing their lives. This image was the book of life.”
The upbeat lead single It’s Magical features two cellos and a flute as extensions of the vibraphone; “like a man who’s put artificial wings on his arms to attempt to fly like a bird, before an airplane was invented,” says Masayoshi. A different version of the song, called Spaceship Magical, also appears on the Erased Tapes 10th anniversary box set 1+1=X. “Like most of my songs, It’s Magical started from one simple phrase that I’d played again and again. But at one point I had two very different versions; one acoustic with orchestral arrangement, whilst the other had distorted guitars with electronic bass that perfectly suited the collaborative nature of the label residency when Robert invited me to participate.”
An ace addendum to 0PN’s ‘Age Of’, including album cut ‘The Station’ with two brand new productions and the brilliant, previously Japan-only bonus level, ‘Trance 1’
Daniel ‘0PN’ Lopatin’s voice makes a smart appearance, albeit heavily autotuned, in the hyper-modern blues of ‘The Station’, whereas ‘Monody’ finds him plumbing a sort of proggy IDM uchronia, where the mid ‘70s folds in to mid ‘90s and mid-WTF we call this decade, and ‘Blow By Blow’ follows that logic to sound like a bastard organism imagined by Autechre and Steve Vai making its first tentative steps into a VR world.
Best of the lot is ‘Trance 1’, which previously appeared on the Japan-only edition of ‘Age Of’ and now blazes out on this release like the view of planet exploding in the rear window of an escape shuttle headed for new solar systems.
Highland electro and deep techno hustle from Neil McDonald’s ever-charming Lord Of The Isles project
Like a distant Scottish cousin to Texan Gerard Hanson (Convextion/E.R.P.), LOTI trades in a most poignant sort of sort of synthetic emotion inspired by big panorama and classic electronica.
On the A-side he rolls out two electro beauties in the poignant pads and chrome plated patterns of ‘Irafas’ and the nimble, fluidly woven arps of ‘W5 Alpha’, whereas the B-side tends to subtler sensations with the dark skied tone and tactile subbass movements of ‘Q-bit’ and a lovely kosmiche flight in ‘Three Times Eleven’ to close.
Dead lovely gear, also sounds great on 33rpm!
Benoit B follows his ‘Japonaiserie’ 12” for Berceuse Heroique with a classy ride between bass-heavy electro and smoky Gallic downbeats for Wisdom Teeth
For the ‘floor, Benoit tees up the lush electro suspension system of Vague à l’Âme and a beautifully crafty mix of whirring trills and Martian woodwind in Kimono coming off like a mutant Red Planet number.
In between those cuts he explores a more sultry style in the Far Eastern-inspired sashay of Gyvenimo Tékmé featuring vocals from Dália, then with the nimble, hyaline designs of Ice Valley landing somewhere between Jay Glass Dubs and Invisible Cloaks.
Modular synth botherer and multi-instrumentalist Ralph Cumbers takes it to the ‘floor for Happy Skull
Up top he drops the quirky, clipped strut of his acid wobbler ‘Charnel House’ and downtown he riffs on Adonis’ ‘No Way back’ in a style primed to mix with Gescom’s own take on those same elements in their ‘D1’  chop-up. One of the best we’ve heard from Bass Clef.
Burbank appears to takes cues from FIS’ geologic structures and Autechrian warp in ‘Botanical Clipboard’, his first record for Kinlaw’s Bristol-based Ceramics label
Check for heavily abstract electronics in the technoid roil and sputter of ‘Powdery Mildew’ and the swaggering, distended beast called ‘Stame’.
Julius Steinhof returns to the bosom of Smallville Records with a subtly stealthy set of deep house shimmies
On Along The Coast the landscape scrolls from plaintive choral voices to rolling jack, building up to a prime Detroit house bustle a smart balance of subtlety and tugging ruggedness.
Mooddowner simmers the mood to a breezy, organ-riding swing nudging at Rob Hodo vibes, and Be Myself stealthily locks us into his mindset for a deep, blue and rudely teched-out ride.
Rodrigo Amado: tenor saxophone Joe McPhee: pocket trumpet, soprano saxophone Kent Kessler: double bass Chris Corsano: drums
"Great dedicated music by four strong individual players, brought together by Portugese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado – intense communication with room for outbreaking solo-parts but always held together through a vision of playing together, exiting and interwoven with beautiful melodies!"
‘Serious Time’ is Joane Skyler first album of canny, natty electronica for Bristol’s Ceramics
Like Joane’s memorably charming side for Boomkat Editions, ’Sssssssss’ , his ‘Serious Time’  album is bewitching batch of clipped hip hop, garage and mutant dance rhythms spliced with tantalising melodies and a real knack for off-kilter harmonics that reminds us of Mortal & Chemist as much as early Pendle Coven and those frayed Unknown and Untitled editions from Cotton Goods.
Nyege Nyege Tapes return with their third ever vinyl release; an amazing collection of thumb piano recordings by Ekuka Morris Sirikiti, a legendary Mbira player from the Lango people recorded from Ugandan radio c.1978-2003. Heavily textured with radio static and ferric distortion, think Konono Nº1 or Honest Jon’s East Africa sets relayed by The Conet Project...
Hailing from the Langi tribe of Lira, Northern Uganda, legendary local griot Ekuka Morris Sirikiti performs his music in various situations - festivities, market days, and other gatherings - on a homemade foot/drum contraption coupled with the Lukeme; a small, handheld thumb piano that produces flurries of metallic rhythmelody under deft digits, and is maybe best known as an Mbira in its heavily distorted use by the DRC’s amazing Konono Nº1, as well as myriad other recordings from the vast Central and East African region.
Entirely comprising recordings of the original radio broadcasts made on various devices, the music on ‘Ekuka’ is distorted to differing degrees, resulting in a broad spectrum of fidelities that are both unavoidable and inherent to the music, its reception, and its perception by those who didn’t catch the broadcast as it happened.
The 12 songs selected zig-zag across the timeline 1978-2003, with an alternating patina of ferric noise that camouflages their chronology - it’s difficult and unnecessary to discern their recording dates, as the songs serve a timeless social purpose, from everyday reminders to be a good husband; take your kids to school; and don’t disturb the wife of your son; to Government commissioned warnings about venereal diseases, drinking alcohol and paying taxes.
Considering this all took place against the backdrop of tribal warfare and cattle raids by rebels, the raucous laughter on ‘In Boloney For Ayinet’ demonstrates the humour and pathos behind the songs in a way that may literally escape listeners elsewhere. And in that context ‘Ekuka’ is quite unlike most other vintage recordings which resurface outside of Africa beyond, say, Honest Jon’s ‘Something Is Wrong’ and ‘Bellyachers, Listen’ sets, which admittedly document a much earlier period c. 1938-1957, but were also selected from recordings not specifically or even vaguely conceived for the international market.
As with Nyege Nyege Tapes’ previous dispatches from modern day Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, ‘Ekuka’ provides a genuinely street-level, unfiltered perspective on unfathomably long-rooted traditions in a way that sounds incredibly fresh, unfamiliar and hugely interesting to keen ears the world over.
Freakish, high-impact techno missiles from Bjarki on Nina Kraviz’s Trip
Check for the wide-eyed 150bpm pounder ‘Oli Gumm’ with its shattering breakdowns, and the mash den trample and avian squabble of ‘Hatann Satann’.
Poetically politicised house from Rupert Clervaux - Beatrice Dillon collaborator and remixer of The Radiophonic Workshop - with a blend of sampled dialogue and collaged dance rhythms for Berceuse Heroique, including a killer final cut that sounds like A Guy Called Gerald c. 1990!
“Marx’s famous assertion that history would repeat itself first as tragedy, then as farce, seemed to come to its full predictive fruition in 2017. Perhaps––in the case of the Euro-Atlantic democratic project––as a result of our systems of governance becoming so comprehensively untethered from the ancient idea whose name they continue to use and abuse. The parasites of neoliberalism are killing the democratic host… Plutocracy is thriving…
In this third instalment of the Zibaldone series, Rupert Clervaux’s CVX alter-ego impulsively fills his audio notebook with musical settings for those ideas––namely sortition and anarchism––that present real alternatives to the dire political landscape of our time, and for the words of some who have made it their life’s work to challenge the foundations, assumptions and presumptions of the status quo. As with its predecessors, Zibaldone III draws freely from a wide span of performance and production techniques––tapping, for what it’s worth, creative roots before they can be grouped together into a stylistic formula.
Explosive percussions pay homage to the anarchists of Argentina; Malcolm Muggeridge syllogises the grim logic of government, power and tyranny into a mantra of dissent, driving a stream of electro-jazz drums and synths to its rapturous disintegration; a saturnine piano improvisation leads the way to clattering protest drums as David Graeber shrewdly inveighs against the absurd but sadly pervasive neoliberal illusion that creativity and ingenuity are dependent on economic incentives; then, as a dancefloor footnote, a withering Gore Vidal wryly warns against the strict conflation of artistic methods with political theories in a smartphone-produced rafter-shaker that echoes Joey Beltram’s Orbital-sampling classic…
Ultimately though, this record is a dedication to the work of one person, a musical wreath to be laid at the grave of the great thinker (and doer), Simone Weil––tragically so young in death, but thankfully so active in the brevity of her life. Here, as a looped fragment of another late-great ‘Simone’ reminds us that change is inevitable, unfolding piano and double-bass elaborations set the stage for Coline Cornélis to recite two key excerpts from Weil’s scathing and brilliant valedictory essay, ‘On the Abolition of All Political Parties’ (1943). Seventy five years later, the farcical horror of egregious corruption, misguided referenda and prevailing post-truths surely serves to strengthen the thrust of her prognosis and prescription––both of which are as sensible as they are radical.”
Reissue of proper keys-in-the-pot boogie disco
“Kalita Records are proud and honoured to announce the first ever official reissue of the Sophisticated Ladies’ sought-after 1980 New York disco single ‘This Ain’t Really Love’, backed by a Mighty Zaf extended edit of their 1977 release ‘Check It Out’, and accompanied by interview-based liner notes. Here, the single will be available in its true 12” format, saving collectors and DJs alike from spending triple-digit figures on an original copy.”
Blondes’ Sam Haar goes solo with the richly textured deep electronica dives of ‘Euso’, his début solo album with Barcelona’s Modern Obscure Music
In ‘Euso’ Haar draws on his practice as an art technological consultant to diversify his bonds into more abstract and experimental electronic music designs than previously heard in his leftfield house-oriented work with Blondes.
“Modern Obscure Music welcomes Sam Haar to the imprint for the first album released by an artist other than label founder Pedro Vian. The album is entitled Euso. Sam Haar is a New Jersey born producer and sound artist. Influenced by both experimentalism and traditional dance music, Haar’s music is something uniquely his own. He is best known as being one half of musical hardware loving duo Blondes with Zach Steinman (neither of them are actually blonde). They famously favour machines over computers and provide hypnotic live shows. Blondes have released the majority of their discography for Rvng Intl., before jumping to R&S in 2017 for the more danceable Warmth album.
Euso is an intense exploration of sounds, textures and feelings, with field recordings laid over coarse soundscapes. Haar’s compositions are woven patchwork-like from the fabric of the sounds that he uses. There is a real feeling that his music is alive, due to the fluidity of his compositions and how the tracks mutate.
The album opener Paradiso offers colourful synthetics alongside running water and bold sounds. Hal (the Slip) features urgent percussion and hypnotic bass sounds, whilst Gold Coast sees vibrant synths do battle over emotive strings. Radial splits sounds and reforms textures in an ever-changing manner and Stabilis snatches lost dialogue over machinery type misshapen beats and poised synths. Awatsa is bathed in watery synthetics and is lifted higher by combo of strings and punched beats, as Hive offers wonderful synth based confusion. Plegadas rounds off the LP with eerie strings, ghosted vocal forms and enveloping synths. The Euso album is a powerful musical statement from Sam Haar.”
Optimo pull out and edit some '88-'90 dancefloor peaches from legendary Aussie industrial unit, Severed Heads.
The tuff and ecstatic proto-trance drive of 'Greater Reward' (1988) is given a 'Piano Power' edit by Optimo, riding killer kicks and flickering rimshots with slick keys and swarming tribal voices chopped at crucial points beside the original 12"'s irresistible dub mix.
The more exotic, chattering tribalism of 'Big Car (Crash Dub)' (1990) conjures images of stomping, tanned and nearly-naked Goan revellers, while 'All Saints Day (Saints Day Dub)' swings to ruddy industrial bass funk laced with lush ecto pads. Quite simply; they don't make 'em like this any more.
Highly recommended for your 'floor!
Jacking NYC house from erstwhile witch house queen Lauren Flax (ov Creep) for UTTU’s Dance Trax series
Leading on from her turn for NYC institute Nervous Records, and a previous hook-up with Kim Ann Foxman, Lauren rides the acid groove proper on ‘It’s Ours’, which Jimmy Edgar reworks as a slinkier metallic groove in the vein of Larry Heard’s Gherkin Jerks.
On ‘Your Mom Likes Flange’ she slips down tripper wormhole of recursive delays to a darkroom ready bass canter, before rubbing out the wilder ’Acid Ghetto’ and cutting loose with splashy chromatic riffs on the staccato jack of ‘Sequenc_tial Discord’.
Chevel steps from his Different Circles LP back into his Enklav. to explore deep ambient techno frameworks with ’In A Rush And Mercurial’
The sound here emphasises texture and tone rather than the skeletal rhythms of his preceding album, Always Yours, a silty flux of chaotic ambient dynamic and steadier, yet offset rhythms and stabs nodding to electro as much as weightless grime.
We advise checking out the proprioceptive chicanery of Another Dimension for something like a gentler take on The Sprawl, or Mercurial for a rugged sound compatible with your Night Slugs bangers, or the frothing arps of Polyphonic Love and the pop inception of Always Yours Amended for much sweeter examples of Chevel working with melodic arrangements.
“Last time we heard from the Growing Bin, Basso was sat at the water‘s edge, trousers rolled up, toes in the tide, savouring a Falanghina while Eleventeen Eston went with the wave. Now we move from the shoreline to the ocean shelf, led on an underwater adventure by young Parisian Shelter. Where previous releases have seen the synth-obsessed Frenchman take his inspiration from Caribbean rhythms or Balearic attitudes, this marine missive sees Shelter turn to the lavish world of the library, creating his an alternate score to Jean Faurez’ 1960 documentary short.
More submersible than snorkel, our journey begins in the very dark of the deep, mystical harp trills echoing through the inky blackness, picking up the bioluminescent shimmer of an Abraliopsis Squid. Gradually we make our way into the light, cruising past shoals of silver scales and underwater forests. ‚Immersion’ offers a placid, percolating rhythm and billowing pads, providing sonic symmetry for the dancing leaves, while the spheric soundscape of ‘La Vie A L’Ombre’ bubbles away like an underwater volcano. The optimistic ambience of ‘Plenitude Azotee’, brimming with delicate melody and glistening sequences, perfectly captures the wide-eyed wonder of a reef dive, before drifting into the serenity of ‘Parade’, an aquatic acquaintance of A.R.T. Wilson’s ‘Overworld’. A brief foray into shark fin funk sees out the A-side, before we’re back amid the beauty of the ocean floor; ‘Variation Abyssale II’ echoing the album opener but with even more poetry. The exotic and otherworldly sine waves of ‘Dans La Jungle De Varech’ simultaneously sound like a rainforest canopy, alien landscape and coral microcosm, expanding our horizons nicely ahead of the adrenaline rush of ‘Hors D’Haleine’. Shelter then sets us at ease with the tidal tonality and subtle shuffle of ‘Fumeurs Noirs’, a sublime synthetic suite, then leaves us to marvel at the soft focus splendour of ‘Synthii Outro’.
This is Jules Verne by way of Vangelis, just grab your goggles and take the plunge…”
Antony Naples & Jenny Slattery’s Incienso follow DJ Python’s Dulce Compañia - one of the albums of 2017 - with the debut LP of hypnotic ambient reggaeton pressures by Bailey Hoffman a.k.a. Beta Librae - co-founder of NYC’s Technofeminism events with Umfang.
Moving farther along the same line that gave us DJ Python’s unmissable album, Beta Librae smudges her vibes to a more mutable flux of feelings in Sanguine Bond, traversing beatless froth and pendulous dembow shuffle in the first side, thru to the intimate deep house humidity of Cosmic Machines, and deeper into underwater sonics on Urras, cosign up for air with the trickling Afro-Cuban lilt of Canis Major, and melting out into new age dimensions with Pink Arcade and closing on a surprisingly ace jungle/dembow mutation New Feelings.
Very safe to say: if you loved the DJ Python album as much as us, you’ll be allllllll over this one, too!
‘1/1’ is the soundtrack to Jeremy Phillips’ directorial debut, the film submerges the viewer into the mind of Lissa, a 20-year-old girl in rural Pennsylvania and her struggles with sex, drugs, love and loss. Liars have created an electronic soundtrack that reflects the film’s use of mixed media abstractions and multi-film formats, which undoubtedly stands up as an album in its own right.
"Created soon after Liars’ 2014 album ‘Mess’, these are the last recordings by Angus Andrew and Aaron Hemphill before Hemphill amicably left the band. In 2017 Angus Andrew released ‘TFCF’, Liars’ eighth studio album and Aaron Hemphill recently released Nonpareils’ ‘Scented Pictures’, his debut solo album. (Both albums are out on Mute, Andrew and Hemphill’s label since Liars’ debut, ‘They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top’.) Angus Andrew and Aaron Hemphill were given the script for ‘1/1’ and, after reading it on a flight from LA to NY, immediately decided to take it on. “It was very heavy, it was very intense and by the time we got to New York, we’d read it. At that point, we hadn’t seen anything but we were on board just from reading the script,” explains Angus.
Soon after, Liars rented a space in Copenhagen and started work on the film’s soundtrack. The director, who up until that point had been using temp music to mark out where the score would go, gave the band descriptions for each of the cues. Instead of giving musical direction, he gave them emotional and descriptive language to describe what he wanted, such as “imagine you have a 100 piece puzzle, but you have 1000 pieces - what would that sound like” or “the character is submerged in water at 4am” or “an alarm clock won’t stop ringing.” Liars were delighted, “This was the perfect thing for us to hear, that allowed us to explore that feeling. At this point we still haven’t seen the film, we were going off the script and a few sample scenes. These descriptions were really helpful for us, and even though they were abstract, they allowed a lot of interpretation.”
Hemphill goes on to say, “We tried to find ways to take it off the grid. We would watch it, read the script and try to get a feel for the plot development and then base the music off of our memory.” The result is a fractured, emotional response to characters within the film. Without using visual cues that might allow the music to simply mirror emotion, Liars have delved deeper into the reality of some of the more complicated themes of ‘1/1’. Director and writer Jeremy Phillips has explained that the film was originally created in response to watching the films of John Hughes for the first time - after the director’s death in 2009 - and wondering what a Molly Ringwald film would look like now. Highly personal, he explains that it “started to connect me with the past, and dealing with depression and anxiety.”
Phillips has described the film as very much a joint production between all of the artists involved (he himself found specific inspiration in Liars’ single ‘No. 1 Against The Rush’) and some of the film was edited to work with the music, an unusual technique. The director explains, “I view this movie as ours, and that goes for everyone involved in the production. I wanted there to be give and take between everyone working on it.” This is particularly evident as the film was actually changed in some sections to adapt to the music.
Phillips goes on to say that “The music, how it functions in the film, is really the access point to the main character’s thoughts/feelings. It's a coming-of-age story, she’s very distant and the music guides you through the emotions, as both she and the visual language of the film keep maturing.”
Virgo’s seminal début LP comes back around on Trax for the first time, following the 2010 reissue on Rush Hour
First things first - there’s nae worries about the pressing; it’s loud and clear like most of the recent Trax releases. Secondly, do we even need to stress how good this album is!? From their balmy all-time classic ‘Do You Even Know Who You Are’ and the bleeping sonar depth of ‘In A vision’, thru to the lush suspense of ‘Take Me Higher’ and the lusting opulence of ‘Ride’, this is Grade A++ classic Chicago dance music.
Sextet is the second studio album by Manchester postpunk funk group A Certain Ratio, originally released by Factory Records in January 1982.
Self-produced at Revolution Studio, Sextet saw the original Ratio quintet of Donald Johnson, Jeremy Kerr, Martin Moscrop, Simon Topping and Peter Terrell joined by co-vocalist Martha 'Tili' Tilson. Written and recorded following a transformative sojourn in New York at the end of 1980, the album reflects Latin, samba and even jazz influences (eg Skipscada; Day One), while still retaining Ratio's signature brittle funk textures, heard in full effect on Lucinda, Gum and trancelike floor filler Knife Slits Water.
Jay Glass Dubs diffracts Sade thru his inverted prism with delicious results for Berceuse Heroique following the dispatch of his immense ‘Dubs’ comp on Ecstatic and the ‘YMFEES’ collab with Leslie Winer...
Perfectly timed for summer in the northern hemisphere, The Safest Dub yields three deep ’n rugged takes on a definitive ‘80s soul anthem, swiping away the vocal to refocus the groove in a patented, fluid and spectral style of dub process that’s brought so much attention to Athens-based Dimitris Papadatos a.k.a. Jay Glass Dubs in recent years.
Uptown, he synchs trickling marimbas with slippery bass and balmy synth voices in The Warmest Dub to lush, radiant effect, before the night comes in properly with the vaporous brass and groggy, red wine-soaked slosh of The Safest Dub. Downtown, he opens the groove out to 9 minutes of sun-dazed breeziness, sounding like a stray studio take where Sade smoked a blunt and could barely get her words out in the booth, leaving Jay as the man behind the glass, dubbing the groove something sublime.
First time vinyl reissue of Alice Coltrane’s last LP for Impulse! - remastered from original tapes...
“Originally released in 1972, Lord Of Lords was Alice Coltrane’s final album for Impulse! and the last installment in her awe-inspiring trilogy that also included Universal Consciousness and World Galaxy. While all three records featured strings alongside a jazz ensemble, Lords Of Lords stood apart from its predecessors due to the sheer size of the orchestra (12 violins, 6 violas and 7 cellos, arranged and conducted by Coltrane herself) and its refined, blissful performances – shining a vital light on the devotional path that she would follow for the rest of her career.
On the first two pieces, "Andromeda's Suffering" and "Sri Rama Ohnedaruth" (titled after the spiritual name for her late husband), Alice’s dazzling piano and harp blend perfectly with the blanket of strings, while the haunting rhythm section of Charlie Haden and Ben Riley and a magnificent, droning electric organ emerge immaculately on the title track and closer "Going Home." Coltrane's musical vision is bold in its imagination and cosmic in scope, yet remains intensely personal and immediate. Lord Of Lords points inward as much as to the beyond, recalling her classical roots and recasting Eastern modes to radically invert the American avant-garde and spiritual jazz traditions.”
Remastered and expanded reissue of a beautiful early K. Leimer album demonstrating his DIY Closed System Potentials method for painting lush electro-acoustic ambient scapes. It follows excellent retrospective compilations issued by RVNG Intl (a Period of Review) and V-O-D (Recordings 1977-90) to get farther below the surface, in the mind of his pioneering, homespun magic.
“Closed System Potentials is honest and intimate music, with the elements of DIY work ‘by hand’ that lends a realness and tangibility to the proceedings. Its juxtapositions are, to me, distinctly Northwestern: it is both alive and synthetic; homespun in execution, yet cinematic in aspiration; acknowledges global experimentalism of the time, yet reveals some isolation in its curious re-wiring of genre standards; grayscale in mood, but with an underpinning of hopefulness that, for me, recalls the futurism of the time.”
Mesmerising dream house with a lush, pastoral aura from Linkwood of Firecracker Records fame
Making his welcome first move in three years, the Edinburgh-based producer unfurls the rolling, gauzy beauty of ‘Mine Meld’ with its panoramic pads and effortlessly cushioned groove reaching Ron Trent-style levels of soul-warming subbass by the track’s end.
On the other side ‘Nae Drama’ bristles with rawer electronics and simmering tribal drum patterns laced with a swell of field recordings and wilder FX bound to bring the crowd to a frisky fever pitch, recalling some transfixing blend of Carl Craig and Ra.H sensibilities.
Another ace addendum to 0PN’s ‘Age Of’, including album cut ‘We’ll Take It’ plus two brand new productions and the brilliant, previously Japan-only bonus level, ‘Trance 1’
‘We’ll Take It’ finds 0PN in full-blown industrial sci-fi mode with some of his deadliest drum programming and churning synth torsion emulating the motion sickness of time travel, accentuated by additional production by James Blake.
‘Monody’ hears him plumbing a sort of proggy IDM uchronia, where the mid ‘70s folds in to mid ‘90s and mid-WTF we call this decade, and ‘Blow By Blow’ follows that logic to sound like a bastard organism imagined by Autechre and Steve Vai making its first tentative steps into a VR world.
Best of the lot is ‘Trance 1’, which previously appeared on the Japan-only edition of ‘Age Of’ and now blazes out on this release like the view of planet exploding in the rear window of an escape shuttle headed for new solar systems.
Bonus points for the ‘spliffy’ jeans-style avatar on the jacket!
One of the rarest records in the world, by ‘Os Mutantes’ before they were ‘Os Mutantes’, copies have changed hands for $5000...
"‘O’Seis’ are the core members of the mighty and legendary ‘Os Mutantes’ - namely Rita Lee and brothers Arnaldo and Sergio Baptista, accompanied here by Raphael Vilardi, Maria ‘Mogguy’ Malheiros and Luiz Pastura.
The record features anthemic, heavyweight, psychedelic rock on ‘Suicida’ b/w deeper, tripped-out MPB-folk on ‘Apocalipse’. Both tracks were written by Rita Lee, assisted by Tobe and Vilardi respectively. The term ‘holy grail’ is a little overused these days perhaps, but this definitely is one. Originally pressed and released by the band themselves in 1966, apparently only a handful of copies are known to exist (sources/numbers vary)."
"Nothing can stop a flutist. We can do whatever we want, whatever we feel. My flute, is a mirror of myself. I express feelings more easily with the flute than with language." This is what Jean Cohen-Solal said on the cover of his first album, Flûtes libres, renowned for its adventurous overdubbing of alto, piccolo and bass flutes, in treble or in C and ocarina.
"Mentioned on the famous Nurse With Wound list, the path followed by Jean Cohen-Solal included many exciting adventures in the 1970s, from his participation in the cult animation series Les Shadoks where his voice can be heard alongside the actor Claude Piéplu, to his proximity to the GRM where he worked alongside Bernard Parmegiani, François Bayle, Luc Ferrari, Guy Reibel and Béatrice Ferreyra, or his involvement in progressive music with Captain Tarthopom (1973), an album very much in the same style as that featured in Europe on the Vertigo label, but in an instrumental form, and even more audacious, without turning its back on the same classical influences as everyone else.
It is impossible to pin a label on Jean Cohen-Solal, he is the equal of his anglo-saxon counterparts Bob Downes, Harold McNair, Jon Field (Jade Warrior) and Jeremy Steig, just to mention the most creative of the bunch. His affinity with strings, already heard in his work with Serge Franklin, (author of the the ineffable Free Sitar) on Flûtes libres, is perfectly echoed here by the work of Jean-Claude Deblais, himself author of one of the little-known summits of sound illustration and French underground music: Le Miroir du fantastique."
Freerotation’s Duckett rolls out a mixed bag of Afro-inspired, bittersweet and gritty grooves for Berceuse Heroique
The rhythms are all a bit too regular and pedestrian for us, especially when compared with the crookedly attractive drum workouts of Don’t DJ already released by BH, but adherents to the cult of "Freero” will surely find some nice moments inside...