Flautist Johanna Orellana teams up with Carmen Villain for a collection of horizontal, pastoral field recordings and close mic-ed flute sounds that zero in on the instrument's unstable resonance and levitational magic. There's no cringe virtuoso business or fourth world firewalking here - just sonic purity, sublime minimalism and the precise capture of time, place and poetry. Huge recommendation if yr into Debit, Joanna Brouk, Bendik Giske, Mary Jane Leach.
The flute's a uniquely misunderstood instrument that rarely gets the attention it deserves, so it’s been a rare treat to hear it explored and captured in a way that challenges our preconceptions. You might have come across Johanna Orellana before if you've listened to Carmen Villain's music (or seen her perform live), and Villain appears here in a producer's role, using her engineering expertise to impart a level of restraint and sonic fidelity that's quite startling. There are only really two central elements to the album: environmental recordings and flute. There’s no psychedelic delay, no cavernous reverb; no audible treatments at all - Orellana and Villain instead force us to consider the flute and its musical lineage.
'El Jardín I' introduces the instrument as a physical conduit; Orellana allows her breath to distort the sound - the padded pat pat of the keys forms a kind of rhythm, closely recorded so it's amplified and jarring, linking to primal wind instruments like conch shells, bamboo flutes and wooden whistles. Recalling the way in which Debit interfaced with the ancient world using AI-assisted tech on last year’s ‘The Long Count’, Orellana uses a comparatively modern contemporary transverse flute, an instrument with roots that stretch back through the baroque era, into Medieval Europe, back to the Byzantine era and into Asia. The component that connects the instruments and eras is breath, and its amplification and modification through differently shaped pipes and vessels.
To accompany these sounds, Orellana lets the environment sing: insects, rushing water and zephyr-like winds form a stage that presents her mortal energy, suggesting a harmony between our use of breath and its environmental ubiquitousness. Her technique is steeped in folk history and decouples itself from expectation by rooting itself in nature. It allows her to bridge the gap between equal temperament and less ordered (less commercially-focused) microtonality without overstating the concept. Other sounds waft in from the sidelines; what might be an Indian bansuri, stray notes, a gust of air.
More familiar sounds emerge on 'El Jardín II', allowing lengthy tones - each with their own wavering rhythm - to slow dance around themselves. She sets recognisable flute sounds against more abstract wails that gradually overwhelm the track's brief finale. On 'El Jardín III', Orellana traverses the most familiar path of all, using the flute to ring out a simplistic melody that almost sounds like a classic Oliver Postgate TV theme.
All these elements are brought together on 'El Jardín IV’, a poetic overview of the instrument that connects a constellation of musical nodes. There's a link to the foundational new age recordings that Joanna Brouk made with Maggi Payne back in 1980, but Orelanna also absorbs the outdoor folk magic of Fonal or Stroom, and the improvisational grist of Bendik Giske or legendary US horn duo Nmperign. On the album's extended closer 'San Fabián', she carries haunted whistling sounds across pin-prick breath tones that spiral into gusty sonic whirlwinds, suggesting a soft power that's as controlled and capable as it is instinctual. It’s a stunning finale to a stark and deeply immersive album we urge you to spend some time with.
Intrepid FM synth and string abstractions by members of London Experimental Ensemble Daniel Kordik & No Moore
“Music and mathematics, harmony of the spheres, etc. If there is a quantitative order to the universe, there is no reason to suppose that it should be transparent, self-evident, or enlightening. The numbers always stand for something else: myth equation. Counting and measuring are not the same thing, but in both activities zero is never far away.
Something out of nothing? Negentropic countdown, approaching zero.
A note having been sounded does not cease on release of the key. Haunted pipe? An envelope error? Or something in the place where nothing should be? The quantity is always larger than expected. What does it mean to say that there are more integers than primes?
Better to say: a cipher is a means to make the envelope indiscernible or subliminal. Blurring the outlines of the articulation. Is that a ‘bad’ infinity?
Fractal resonance: the closer you listen, the more there is.”
Wheeeew! Siltbreeze alum and yowling minimal legend Sam Esh rips the skin off blues music in a crazed 95 minute salvo for the unerring Penultimate Press - imagine Moondog drinking paint stripper on a lock-in with Graham Lambkin, Jandek and Uncle John & Whitelock.
Facking nora this is outstanding. ‘Jack of Diamonds/Faro Goddamn’ is a repackaged edition of two tapes put out by Mike Rep Hummel’s Old Age / No Age label at some point in what seems like an alternative uchronia of the blues and indie rock. Raw to the bloodied bone, and delivered in possessed glossolalic language, it represents the sole and most substantial release in Esh’s oeuvre, where you will encounter thee most feral, desiccated, driven blues imaginable. Fair to say you’re listening to someone’s struggles with mental and physical health, but doesn’t that just apply to some of the best music ever made? It’s just utterly fucked in the most compelling way that will light up the nerves of the most insatiable listeners. Read on for the lowdown but take it on trust if needed; this is one for the road.
“Sammy was born and raised circa 1940 in Ephrata, PA. a small Amish/Mennonite town. His mother was a Smucker, a family famous in America for its jelly & jam empire. The school in Ephrata Sam attended as a teen specialised in linguistics because its founder was fluent in seven languages. Sam is a highly intelligent man who can read those seven, and also speak two of them; French & Swedish. Hence comes the roots of "Esh-ese", as I call the generally incomprehensible to most folks he slips in and out of, his lyrical dialogue. I am quite likely the only person that has heard his 'alternative language' enough to understand most of it! Sam often sang and played in drug induced states hence this unique lingual hodgepodge streams direct from his altered temporal reality.
A large part of it has to do with a tragic event in Sam's life 50+ years ago. He and his wife were in San Francisco during the late 60's and imbibed in most of the indulgences that time & place was known for. They 'took a trip' to a remote area of Baja Mexico, and during an extended acid trip Sam caught dysentery, a bacterial disease that results from contaminated food or water. Being he was in a rural undeveloped area at the time, and under the influence of said drugs Sam very nearly died from lack of proper medical attention, and was severely affected cognitively by this near death experience.
The result of this trauma was a cognitive state that has ever since required medications psychotropic medications that do not mesh well with alcohol which Sam has been on and off for decades. Regardless Sam liked to drink, and when he did he developed something of a 'Jeckyl-Hyde' personality as a result. Sam was never violent or antisocial, but often quite difficult to relate to for most people.
One can only surmise this is why Sam was relegated to a quasi-street life existence by the time we started working together. Through six months of amazing shows (I drummed for the band he recruited to back him up called Hard Black Thing) Sam was quite charismatic on stage. We recorded the Incendiary release "Sam Esh & Hard Black Thing / Montezuma Baby Duck" released on Siltbreeze Records from '92. Get a copy while they still have 'em (I think a few are still available).
- Mike “Rep” Hummel”
Andrew Chalk and Timo Van Luijk aka Elodie reach their most captivating moment of quietude on a heart-stopping new album of muted piano, tape loops and delicately plucked strings, elevated into a heavenly sphere. Perhaps the most gentle and pure evocation of Quiet music we’ve heard since Dominique Lawalrée’s ‘First Meeting’ collection, it comes with our highest possible recommendation, especially if you’re into the waking-dream fantasies of Brian Eno’s Obscure label, Erik Satie or Virginia Astley.
‘Clarté Déserte’ ushers Elodie into its second decade of delicacies with a suite of beautifully elusive, poignant chamber works that typically benefit from the duo’s tongue-tip, pinch-yourself feel for atmosphere. We only cottoned onto their sound around half way thru the last decade, and they quickly became one of the go-to groups for music to colour our dreams. This new album - perhaps their most effortless and remarkable - sees them return to imaginary water-colour scapes, sketched to tape in 2020-21 with an ineffably subtle sort of psychedelia active in the music’s lysergic patina and melting melodies.
While the notion of ambient music in the modern era has too often become shorthand for mimetic milquetoast whimsy and a lack of imagination, Chalk & Van Luijk’s recordings still hold to original principles of modal minimalism and spirited spectral detail that made the original stuff - from Satie to Eno, to new age and soundtrack forms - so entrancing. On ‘Clarté Déserte’ Elodie summon these notions with patience and pacing, wreathing slivers of field recordings with the subtlest nods to country folk, Arabic and Indian musics, and the stately drift of European chamber classicism in a narrative arc that quite honestly left us sobbing.
From the daydream opening scenes of ‘Aumone’ to the drizzly nightfall of ‘Cantique’, ‘Clarté Déserte’ feels like nothing less than a spiritual cleanse, possessing a sort of poetic command of sandman magick that transcends overwrought conceptualism and is perhaps best compared to the feeling of involuntary goosebumps in moonlight.
Death Is Not The End compiles hybrid pop from Shanghai on this bumper new set.
Death Is Not The End turn their attention to shidaiqu music, a term that literally means "songs of the era" and describes the music that emerged in Shanghai in the 1920s as a fusion of pop, jazz, blues, showtunes, and traditional Chinese elements. It's music that defined an era of Chinese culture before communism, and "Waiting For Your Return" works like a historical guide, featuring what's referred to as the first shidaiqu record - Li Jinhui's 'Drizzle', featuring his daughter Li Minghui - and plenty of material from the 1930s and 1940s.
The compilation stops in the 1950s before the music was outlawed by the Chinese Communist Party, who deemed the genre "yellow music", banning nightclubs and production houses and destroying Western instruments. The genre wasn't done though, many performers moved to Hong Kong, where shidaiqu continued to grow through the next few decades. If you're looking to get a relatively digestible guide, this is a great starting point.
A previously unreleased 42-minute piece recorded by Basinski in San Francisco made from tape loops of broken 1950s TV sets and recordings of night shifts at the factory. Hazed and subtly transcendent, it's one of the best things we've heard from the 'Disintegration Loops' legend in ages.
Way back in 1979 William Basinski was stationed on the notorious Haight Street in San Francisco - it was affordable for artists back then. His partner, the artist James Elaine, would rescue old televisions from the street as families upgraded to more modern color models, and Basinski set about recording their peculiar fuzzy transmissions to reel-to-reel tape. His Norelco Continental deck had four speeds, so Basinski could use the pitch variance to create long, sprawling drone pieces. The final piece of the puzzle was a series of field recordings he made at his night job at a factory, which he combined with the TV static to develop "The Clocktower at the Beach", a mystifying long-form composition that's among the most stunning in Basinski's canon.
For those of you who have only come across 'Disintegration Loops' and its successors, it might come as a surprise to learn that "The Clocktower..." is markedly different. The piece is still durational experiment, but at this point in his development, Basinski was more driven by the material his partner was bringing home from the record store he worked at day-to-day. So it was Eliane Radigue's feedback works and Jean-Claude Eloy's contemplative "Gaku-No-Michi" that provided the inspiration he needed. If you've heard 1997's "Shortwavemusic" (which Basinski recorded not long after this one in 1982) that's possibly the closest stylistically, but even that doesn't quite reach the same level of horizontal, blunted fuzz.
'The Clocktower...' is deceptively simple; Basinski doesn't use many elements but manages to captivate us completely, conuring a mood that's somewhere between 'Eraserhead' and Brian Eno's shimmering "On Land". The gorgeous, heartbreaking melodies are there if you're willing to do the searching, buried beneath layer upon layer of tape hiss, pipe noise and mechanical grot. Hard to believe it's over forty years old.
The 3rd Volume exploring Oshomah’s Muslim highlife spirituals, now available as standalone set sloshing over with good vibes.
‘Vol.3’ reconvenes with Oshomah in Lagos between 1978-1984 on four balmy delights infusing local folk styles, highlife and western pop with Islamic values. Despite the music’s religious thrust, however, it is intended to harmonise Muslim and Christian relations in in Edo State, southern Nigeria thru the art of dance, connecting minds and bodies in pure pleasure that transcends personal conceptions of God.
No matter who you worship, the bustling, organ-driven Afrobeat views of ‘Omhona-Omhona’, his grubbing downbeat ‘Eyemaya Erayemare’, and the sultry sway of ‘Oshiomegie Idonigie’ will snag hopeful dancers, and the deliciously woozy, pitch bent strings and stroll of ‘Forget Not Mother’ will charm lovers of the waviest West African grooves.
Jeff Mills revisits Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' once again, stitching together an entirely new soundtrack that's intended to be a more nuanced reaction to the story itself. A headier, more psychedelic treatment, it's some of the most probing material Mills has released in years.
When Mills released his take on "Metropolis" back in 2000, he was the perfect candidate to approach such a cinematic milestone and bring it crashing into the techno era. The concept of the rescore was still in its infancy, so listeners weren't yet completely jaded by the mixture of silent movie footage and contemporary music. Mills' music had always represented technology, and Lang's classic detailed man's relationship with machines in the most visual way - Mills just offered a fresh backbone that helped build out the vision into another dimension. Over two decades later culture has shifted, so Mills felt it important not to just George Lucas his score but to J.J. Abrams it completely.
Unlike its comparatively compact predecessor, 'Metropolis Metropolis' is a labyrinthine sprawl of lengthy compositions that touch on jazz, baroque music and of course techno - but there's little you could imagine rattling through Tresor on a Sunday morning. Mills hardly reaches for the drums at all on the album's first two chunks, using jazzy flourishes on 'The Masters of Work and Play' but never allowing a beat to form completely. His focus is on mood curation, but the record wakes up when Mills plays to his strengths.
The second half of the record is more animated, with 'Transformation the Aftershock and Evil' using the Detroit legend's glassy soundset to evolve into a rhythm that's between Underground Resistance and Jon Hassell. 'Yoshiwara and the Players of Chance' is even better, with pinprick kicks and swirling oscillators that draw out a classic sci-fi scene without resorting to forgettable tropes. Mills' control of rhythm is most impressive, and he uses interlocking patterns to provide momentum to Vangelis-esque washes of electronics. 'Liaisons and Complicated Affairs' takes us to the end credits, plodding thru synthetic strings and into a flurry of hypnotic sequences that's not a million miles from Klaus Schulze's similarly engaging imaginary score to "Dune".
Kiln's debut album was originally released in 1998, and has now been given a fresh lick of paint to bring their enduring mix of shimmering shoegaze and potent dub techno to a new generation.
Clark Rehberg III, Kevin Hayes and Kirk Marrison initially got together as a live rock trio, but as their sound developed their interest in live instrumentation dwindled and their passion for electronics was stoked. 'Holo' was a painstaking process that used an early 8-channel DAW to combine their sampler experimentation and light, subtle instrumentation and at its best sounds like a more blunted answer to Tortoise's hybridized Chicago post-rock. Kiln's music is sunnier than most of the trio's contemporaries, tracks like 'Squarewave Colorwheel' are so breezy you can almost imagine reclining on a tropical beach, cocktail in hand, and 'Dodecatheon' captures some of the era's windswept hope, with brushed guitar chords, hand drums and watery samples.
In a way, Kiln provided an American alternative to Seefeel. Where Seefeel harmonized with drizzly British melancholy, Kiln were more whimsical and homespun - a ranchside strum rather than a faded trip into the industrial wastelands. If you're into Radian, Loscil or even early Four Tet, there's plenty here to ogle.
Deep house legend Kerri Chandler boots off 2023 with a new collection of archive material ranging from the darkroom bounce of 'Fluff Rehab' to broken jazz of 'Dem Joy Ride'.
The Jersey legend spent the last year reflecting on his favorite dancefloors on "Spaces & Places", and this year digs thru his archive of belters for a second EP of "Lost & Found" tracks. The best is up first: 'Fluff Rehab' has been floating around in one form or another for a few years, and characterizes the sweaty depths Chandler's music can reach, marinating in tight stabs, punctuating trapdoor slams and booming, funked kicks. From there we sashay into 'What If', a disco-rooted groover that boasts a sexy clipped vocal and the kind of analog bass/organ combo that drags us right back into the late 1990s.
'Who You Are' maintains the mood with swooping strings and an even more prominent vocal, while closing track 'Dem Joy Ride' harks back to the broken beat era, tying electric piano noodles and faint, restrained electronics up to a jazzy ensemble of horns and slippery acoustic drums.
Jeez this is fucking unhinged - Pat Klassen’s Barn Sour deposits a frankly batshit new side of barnyard exhortations, screwed samples and blasted atmosphere on Penultimate Press - RIYL V/Vm, When, Smegma.
“Compendium coffin closer from Pat Klassen’s Barn Sour project. A project where the batshit crazy defies the beautiful whilst relishing in unease. Animals appear as phantasms, humans expel intense emotional states. Borderline music and borderline funny this is not for the faint of heart. Soap and Glue collages material from all six Barn Sour releases on a variety of labels, Staighre, Careful Catalog, 72 Fold Mane etc alongside a small sprinkling of exclusive material. The final Barn Sour release is the ultimate Barn Sour release and all you need to engage with one of the most twisted outfits to emerge from the underground in recent years.”
Mark Nelson harks back to the luxurious dub refractions of his earliest Pan American material on this beautiful suite of productions recorded at the turn of the century. If you know that first Pan American album you’ll already have an idea of what to expect here: deepest midnight dub of the most evocative order, a huge recommendation if you’re into anything from Rhythm & Sound to Seefeel.
That first Pan American album remains a totally singular and highly influential expression of a sound, layering jazz keys and windswept atmospheres around the most softly-piercing subs imaginable. As opposed to pretty much all the dub-adjacent electronic music of the era, there was no glitch to be found within the Pan American matrix - it was all about atmosphere and space rather than texture and process.
‘In Daylight Dub’ rounds up some of Pan American’s rarest and most elegiac turn-of-the-century dubs, originally recorded for the Vertical Form, BSI and (K-RAA-K)³ labels, and all very much falling within the aesthetic, connecting between his earlier work as part of Labradford and the velvet reverberations deployed by Burial Mix at around the same time.
The four extended cuts are just a pleasure to behold; 12 minute opener ‘Renzo’ could easily have lived on that debut album, making use of the same palette and blissed world-building for a sort of shimmering steppers delight best suited to the early hours, while ‘Esso’ amps the skank with a more pronounced rhythmic presence illuminated by sparkling, melancholy keys. On the flip, ‘Quarry A’ is more pensive, referencing Mark Clifford’s work with Seefeel and in particular that still unfathomable, GOATed remix of Cocteau Twins’ ‘Seekers Who Are Lovers’ - all scattered rimshots, Rhodes and subs, while album closer ‘Running Dog (Reborn)’ skews more overtly towards dub techno with a kind of barely-there rhythmic presence typical of the Chain Reaction era.
Over two decades might have gone by in the blink of an eye, but Nelson's emotional conductivity still resonates v deeply. In fact, it’s sent us into a bit of a Pan American wormhole. There’s just nothing quite like it.
Air Max 97 catches the hard techno buzz on a hardworking trio for his home-brewed label, Decisions
Better known for twisting his rhythms off the bone for the past decade, AM97 here reads the room’s need for pounding momentum in two steely aces on the ‘Enthusiast’ EP, sandwiching a more typical cut of syncopated electro-grime freakiness.
His title tune hits hard at 148bpm with punishing acid/dark psy-trance momentum offset by hardstyle-d vamps and whipsmart edits. ‘Carbon’ simmers that velocity to a 135bpm in a deriving techno/body music chassis with big room breakdown, and ‘Work To Live’ is the one for those who like his grimier bits, going on like a yoked back Darq-E-Freaker joint.
One of the most interesting and unexpected projects Mark Lanegan got involved with in the final years of his life, ‘Downwelling’ is his collaborative 2019 album with Alessio Natalizia, aka Not Waving - a modernist fusion of barrel-aged narratives and diverse, experimental backdrops that reminds us of everything from Scott Walker to Conny Plank & Moebius, from Christof Kurzmann to David Sylvian. It’s also a record that stands as testament to Lanegan’s unwavering, boundless musical curiosity - a listener with a voracious appetite for new music of all shapes and colours, until the very end.
One of those rare link-ups that truly transcends the sum of its parts, Natalizia's rolling range of nuanced electronics acts as a backdrop for Lanegan’s smoky baritone storytelling. Delivered in a husky but pliable voice, Lanegan inhabits the songs with a reserved presence that served him so well for decades, but which was rarely heard in quite this context.
Pairing music recorded by Natalizia between London, Italy, and Paris, with vocals recorded by Lanegan in LA, the duo reached a dreamy non-place that’s not defined by geography or time. Instead, the album offers a timeless insight into human behaviour, as reflected in the sleeve art details from the ‘Lights of Canopus’, a Persian version of the ancient Indian book of animal fables, the ‘Panchatantra.’ Thanks to Lanegan’s classically dusty tone - famously described as being “scratchy as a three day beard yet as supple as moccasin leather” - and the breadth of Not Waving’s production, the results draw listeners deep into the duo’s world-weary but quietly hopeful perspective, emphasising the power of closeness and empathy.
Their songs come on like waves lapping a shore that’s ever-shifting, ever the same. This cycle is epitomised on the opener, ’Signifying The End’ with Lanegan’s raspy tone met by honeyed synths, before scaling the nocturnal heights of ‘City Of Sin’ and coolly channeling Suicide in ‘Burn Out Babylon.’ The waters calm again for ‘Persimmon Tree’ suitably set to harp-like arps, while the hoarse croon and impending throb of ‘Murder In Fugue’ comes to rest in the serene resolution of ‘The Broken Man’ in a manner that’s entirely modernist but speaks to eons of human emotion.
NYC’s prolific fusion-music legend Laswell meets Coil and Tetsu Inoue on his 6th studio album, produced at a pinnacle of the illbient dub sound and highly recommend to disciples of Jon Hassell, Kevin Martin, Muslimgauze, Tzadik Records
Replete with liner notes by Hakim Bey, and recorded between Banaras, India, and Brooklyn, ‘City of Light’ is a highlight of Laswell’s unfathomable catalogue of solo and collaborative works since the late ‘70s. Suspended in the aether somewhere amid dark ambient, drone, 4th world fusion, and dub musick - or what was simply summed as “illbient” at the time - the album can be heard to loosely echo Jon Hassell’s ‘City: Works of Fiction’ album from a decade prior, while resonating the psychedelic pressure of the whole ‘Macro Dub Infection’ sound limned by Kevin Martin’s influential, contemporaneous compilations. It also shares a fascination with subcontinental music’s that links it both to explorations of alternate tunings by pioneering ‘60s minimalists with alternate tunings, and likewise the rhythms and sounds of Muslimgauze, who would remix Laswell over the years.
More than a quarter century after its release, ‘City of Light’ feels very much of its era, but also in its own temporal, uchronic slipstream where timelines bend like light into a place without time. Laws sets the tone with ‘Nothing’, terraforming rich atmospheric conditions for Lori Carson’s narration and Trilok Gurtu’s ricocheting tabla, where ‘Kála’ follows with Coil’s Peter Christopherson and John Balance lending “sound collage” and eerie string colours to its iridescent wormhole dynamic. Chasing his and Laswell’s ’95 LP ‘Cymatic Scan’, (and a hook-up with Jonah Sharp) Japan’s Tetsu Inoue chimes in to the elliptical, harmonious drone arc of ‘Kashi’, and the set shores up in rugged illbient, proper, with the buckling dub ballast of ‘Above the Earth’ acting as augur for the dread darkness that befell electronic music from ’97 onwards.
Pö debuts on Hakuna Kulala with a furiously innovative mix of industrial/post-punk electronics, looped vocals, and ethereal, psychedelic transmissions that sound like a cross between Fever Ray, Grouper and Gabber Modus Operandi.
On ‘Cociage’ French-Ghanaian artist Pö builds on her work alongside Congolese producer Rey Sapienz in Poko Poko, channeling her voice through a pedalboard of effects and turning it into delirious pads and thumping, mechanical rhythms. The album is a personal summation of various different musical strands, assembled by an artist who's content to straddle borders. So 'The Reaping' sounds kinetic and rhythmic, built around furious kicks and Pö’s looping chants, while 'Klafouti’ pipes gurgled words through a voice modifier, smearing its remnants over a break that's so smashed it's barely a rattle.
On ‘Over the Clouds' the album steps into a different realm entirely. Here Pö adds a new dimension to new age music, humming gently into a vocoder and looping her reverberations over the top. Grouper is the most obvious point of comparison, but Pö’s combination of French chanson and West African pop gives it a bite that feels undeniably fresh. On 'Nuit Blanche' her cloud of vocals hits peak density before stumbling into a bit-crushed thump; assertive French words crack over the top w/ urgency.
Our highlight is the widescreen closer 'Galivanting', though, a track that wrongfoots us with lysergic, insectoid ambience before mutating into an airlock nightmare, Pö using her voice to command a robotic army of synthetic moans and flittering synths. It's horrifyingly beautiful stuff.
Oh my days, it actually happened; Drexciya’s one-off as Abstract Thought joins Clone’s Aqualung reissue series in its entirety on a 20th anniversary edition, including some all-time classics and girder-strength Detroit electro-techno
Originally presented by The Advent’s Kombination Research label in 2003, ‘Hypothetical Situations’ has achieved near-mythical status thru a combination of the music’s muscular sci-fi thrust and its scarcity on 2nd-hand markets. Despite many Drexciya heads having their own theory, it would be a punt for anyone to attribute the album’s production to either James Stinson or Gerald Donald, and it’s better to regard it as a total classic among their LP “Storms”; one studded with hallmarks of their sound, from lithe improvised keyboard tekkerz to its finely calibrated rhythm programming, but with a viscous quality and shark-eyed focus that distinguishes the six tracks from their kin.
To our ears, it’s vital for the real oddity ‘Me Want Woman’s Punani’, which holds more explicitly to the sort of lascivious track tilting of Dopplereffekt than anything in the Drexciyan canon, and with a loping skank that sounds quite unlike anything else they’ve done, thanks to its subbass depth charges and a face-freezing melodic synth coda to die for. Along with another all-timer in the cascading arps of ‘Bermuda Triangle’ - named for an area of North Atlantic sadly crucial to the Drexciyan mythos - plus the more Laptop Cafe style of ‘Consequences of Cloning’, and the meat-motor club torque of ‘Galactic Rotation’, it’s 100% prime Drexciya that will make many heads bang the walls with glee at its vinyl and digital re-arrival.
Cecilie 'Cisser' Mæhl's debut solo album is a slow-motion set of hushed Danish lullabies that's well worth filing alongside Björk's "Vespertine" and Colleen's "The Weighing of the Heart".
Back in 2019, composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Mæhl moved from Cophenhagen to Norway to work at a mountain lodge. In her spare time, she'd make environmental recordings while she wandered through the impressive landscapes, and when she relocated to Oslo a few months later and began to assemble a suite of songs, these recordings were the inspiration. In Oslo she became friends with Jenny Hval who introduced her to avant-garde legend and producer extraordinaire Lasse Marhaug, and it's Marhaug who ended up producing the record, putting important finishing touches on Mæhl's quietly epic songs.
The gust of fresh Nordic air hits immediately on 'Menneskeaftryk', carried by Mæhl's gentle plucks and oh-so-sweet Danish vocals. Her voice is like a falsetto purr, somewhere between Susanna Wallumrød's trained jazziness and Jenny Hval's vulnerable near-crack, and sits on top of the sparse instrumentation as if its a feather bed. Stylistically the songs aren't a million miles from Björk's "Vespertine", if Matmos and co's glitches were removed and replaced with faint orchestral whines and submerged drums. 'Banegård' is particularly impressive, hitting a cinematic note with smooth vocals and a quivering, cardboard box beat.
KMRU compiles Kenyan ambient electronica and dance trax for the Naug label.
On a level, ‘INSHA’ showcases the artists’ range of feelings across cuts ranging from his own moody ambient scapes to Budalagi’s slow techno, Avom’s amapiano-adjacent groover, and the melodic tech-house of Rushab Nandha.
"In Kenyan cultural communities’ musical performance has always been linked with a long chain of related events and ideas. Music was often used to illuminate a specific topic and its implications to society. Through this method of explanation, musicians were able to reveal several underlying social concepts that determined people’s behaviour towards each other and the community.
This common recurring theme was seen mostly in ceremonies. African musical productions are abstract configurations that demonstrate a common fundamental creative principle of mediating the physical and metaphysical worlds. INSHA is centered on time and the evolution/relationship of these cultural-creative influences. The compilation inquires aspects of traditional cultures, physical or metaphysical from communities in Kenya, and act as inspirations and sonic paraphernalia. INSHA serves as a bridge between the past and future music creators on a more fundamental level than usual record keeping."
Ukraine’s Muscut keep ‘em coming with Odesa artist Bryozone’s bittersweet, subaquatic ambient fantasies for fans of Spencer Clark, Jürgen Müller, Pataphysical
‘Eye of Delirious’ is the debut album by Ganna Bryzhata aka Bryozone, who hails from the historic Black Sea port city of Odesa, and also plays bass in the band Chillera when they’re not making this type of beautifully detuned dream-food. Following in the glistening wake of work by Pavel Milyakov, Stanislav Tolkachev and Nikolajev on Muscut, the album arrives with no mention or implication that Europe’s most tragic war in a century is occurring in the background, as Bryozone proceeds to project 40 minutes of transportive music as elegantly alien as jellyfish.
The 10 tracks are defined by a taste for curdled silicon and and elusive ambient contouring that lends the lushest, disorienting listen. Slipping in head first with the silty early AFXian pads of ’Smoothy Flow’ the set vacillates strains of dub techno and impressionistic ambient in an effortlessly enchanting flow from he sliding pitches of ‘Sequence One’ and the seductive harmonies of ‘Glowing Sirens’, to limn Atlantean creatures with Spencer Clark-like animism in ‘Ghost Tribe’. They tease beautifully buoyant ambience into more quizzical, queasy space on ‘Ambience’, and the likes of ‘Liminal Tribe and ’Sub Nautical’ recalls Cru Servers weirdo club slosh, before it shores up in a submerged ‘Ground Floor’ like an imaginary soundtrack to Ballard’s ‘Drowned World’.
Brazilian experimental multi-instrumentalist Carla Boregas follows plates for Bokeh Versions and Hive Mind with a ghostly set of deep listening electronics that plays like a symphony for an imagined woodwind orchestra, one to file next to recent work by Wojciech Rusin, Debit and Bloedneus & de Snuitkever.
Carla Boregas is best known from her tenure in São Paulo's genre-bending experimental post-punk scene, playing in long-running outfit Rakta as well as other related offshoots. Her solo material has been knottier to unpick, here developing ideas from a collection of unfinished fragments and notebook scribbles exploring the possibility of finding a wind instrument that could be played collectively by several musicians. Coinciding with the pandemic, however, she soon realised the inherent risks involved with sharing breath and so the concept took a different direction, with added resonance.
Boregas developed a synthetic alternative, layering vocals and environmental recordings to suggest wind instrumentation without attempting to mimic it. The sounds here are airy, but rarely diegetic - on the title track, Boregas uses analog arpeggios and plucked, sustained tones to approximate the kosmische world of Ash Ra Tempel or more recently Emeralds, as if trapped in a wind tunnel, moved forward by an unseen force.
There's a whisper of the ancient past that harmonises with Wojciech Rusin's speculative medieval gasps, and Bloedneus & de Snuitkever's severely underheard ‘Milli Mille’, an examination of the ancient Greek aulos. On ’Grafia Do Invisível' the sound is completely different again, but the concept remains, using precise analog drones and minuscule timbral shifts to imitate the character of a wind instrument and simultaneously harmonise with the deep listening meditations of Éliane Radigue and Kali Malone.
A voice enters the frame on 'Sopro’, chopped into deviated gulps and syllables, creating a language that's unfamiliar and percussive. The use of breath is subtle, and vocalisations criss-cross between synths and faint whistles, forming an expression that's different from its predecessors but intrinsically interlinked. This is where ‘Pena Ao Mar’ excels, by viewing breath and its application in electronic music from multiple angles simultaneously. Fans of Lucy Duncombe, Lucrecia Dalt, or Sarah Davachi - don't miss this one.
Intensely cute and obsessively detailed world building by Kate NV, who flips a sample pack of instruments from Philadelphia's public schools into hiccupping, onomatopoeic froth with the modern charm of a Minecraft master well versed in Carl Stone, Foodman, Uwe Schmidt’s LB pops, Max Tundra or Nobukazu Takemura.
Kate’s 3rd LP with NYC’s RVNG Intl. is part study in the limits of language to express emotions, and part aesthetic exercise in imagining what one could build as a child, but with the benefit of a grown-up perspective. Each piece is densely stacked with melodic movement in tightly puckered rhythmic arrangements that cascade from piquant emulations of J-pop ‘oni (they)’ to the fruity parp of ‘meow chat’. They include the exactingly saccharine optimism and naif kids’ orchestra discord of ‘confessions at the dinner table’ with Quinn Oulton, thru the lilting library music winks of ‘asleep’, Max Tundra-esque turns of phrase in ‘early bird’, and ludicrous midi-funk chops of ‘d d don’t’, signing off with what sounds like Ka Baird jamming with Carl Stone on ‘flu’.
Infectious joyful stuff, we tell thee.
DJ Pitch and co’s unstoppable All Centre grip Holloway on a bad-minded UKF/hard drum flex
On return duties to the label after debuting in 2018 with ‘Agar Oud’, Holloway works it up and down the spine of contemporary UK club music. ‘Dust 2 Dust’ adapts classic UKF templates to taste with bags of ruff cut drums and scooping subs that bite an prowl like some feral thing from Loefah’s 81 kennels bred by Beneath and left on side of the road cos it kept chewing the kids. However ‘Send it On’ brings it into 2023 with a nastier sort of electroid stepper recoiling to Stingray-like drums and neuro synth attack like Pinch meets Optical.
Leonce’s partner-in-crime at Morph Tracks, JSPORT takes the reins on four restless cuts that emphasise the soca and Caribbean influence on UKF and offbeat Afro-American club musics
Firmly rooting club music in Black and Queer concerns, ‘Out of Bounds’ encrypts Afro-Latin drum patterns with purpose meant to be understood by bodies in motion. The devil is in the rhythmelodic details of accented drums and modulated bass pressure, and spaced out with a dubwise psychedelic sensuality that translates so damn well in the dance.
We’re talking the militant meaning of ‘Capoiera’, a dedication to the secretive Brazilian martial art, manifest in its hip-nudging syncopation and toes-off-the-floor swang, or the likes of their utterly deadly ‘Guillotine Drum’ punctuated with tendon-sparking percussive grammar, and a massive highlight in the hypnotic vocal and drum commands of ‘Gully Bop’, most surely recalling the propulsive production values of their spar Leonce.
Size 12 industrial electro-dub trample, pinging singeli-esque mutation and rattling drums from the SM-LL squad’s clandestine number
No stunts or tricks, just the rawest, heavy-slugging rhythm and noise on ‘UAN0024’ by London’s decentralised anarcho-collective. ‘Ramsey’ arrives fresh from he foundry with a forward tilt of brute bass and gnashing machine drums that does not let up for 8 minutes. ‘lund’ follows hell-for-leather with rushing rhythms resembling Tanzanian singeli or soca industrialised by Russell Haswell, and ‘Trosper’ uncannily recalls the panel-beaten tang and craze of early Errorsmith.
ONO host the physical edition of Uģis Jansons’ debut LP; a mixed bag of solo piano, lo-slung trip hop, synth-pop and electronica hailing from Riga, Latvia’s DIY scene.
Coinciding with the release of ‘Rīga Īpaša’, a survey of artists from his home city co-compiled with ONO, Jansons showcases his solo work on ‘NAKTHTTPS’ with a subtly psychedelic sort of micro-dosed DIY pop and beatdown moods & grooves. It spans jangly solo piano blues in ‘KLAVRĪT’ thru night owl jazz-tronica glitch on its title tune, with wistful trans toward electro-folk with crafty, layered vocal harmonies on ‘PLKST 1 13 5’ or ‘WAVESTATE’, and John Foxx-like synth-pop in ‘UPE’, keeping the formula curiously uneven with offset electro-jazz like a strung out Jimi Tenor in ‘KNTRLE’, and a nugget of downbeat trip hop ‘JĀ’ that exemplifies the variation and coherence of his vibe.
Oliver Coates' accompaniment to Paramount+ streaming sci-fi horror movie "Significant Other" is as serviceable and familiar as the film itself.
What is it about contemporary film soundtracks that demands such a specific, identikit treatment? When orchestras were deemed too costly for many productions in the 1970s and indie films took risks with young virtuosos or simply anyone with access to a synthesizer and drum machine, it led to music that still has a hold on impressionable creative minds. Now, with almost any sound imaginable available to anyone with a half-decent laptop, everything sounds like the intersection of Hans Zimmer and Ben Frost, with precious little in-between. For every Mica Levi, there are countless hundreds of Benjamin Wallfisches.
Oliver Coates is a talented and idiosyncratic cellist with a solid back catalog of unique recordings, but if you played us the "Significant Other" OST and asked us who made it, we'd struggle to guess. It's impeccably made and chilling to the bone, but it sounds so perfect that you'd almost forget it was present at all. The high pitched string squeals and low-end womps designed psycho-analytically to ramp up tension are all present, occasionally balanced by some advanced choral work. But it's streaming-era Hollywood terror by numbers - we're sure this ain't anything to do with Coates, and more to do with Paramount stooges, but it's more depressing than it is blood-curdling.
Ascendant Bristol producer Yushh debuts a deft sound bending slow/fast ambient techno, broken beats and meter-messing footwork jungle on her killer venture for Facta & K-Lone’s label
Proprietor of the Pressure Dome label since 2019, Jen Hartley aka Yushh arrives at this point via a string of cult releases on her label and DJ sets at Freerotation and Hör in recent years. ‘Look Mum No Hands’ is her first solo record, proper; a dead smart showcase of fine-tuned rhythm instincts conducted with coolly seductive flow and variation that calls to mind vibes from Auco to Parris, Vladislav Delay and LCY inner effortless traction and swirling contours.
The title tune craftily sweeps dembow dancehall and buoyant ambient techno textures into a pendulous slow/fast motion, and ‘Same Same’ edges closer to vintage Peverelist and Parris in its bubbling 2-step make-up. ’Close Fail’ is her keenest, trippiest cut, comparable to Forest Drive West’s footwork/D&B mutations or the crispness of LCY sound design, and ‘Self Couscous’ simmers it right down to dubbed-out step riddled with devilish detail for the dancers.
Experimental Yugo-prog/fourth world/new age from Serbia’s answer to Jon Hassell - the duo of Nenad Jelic & Laza Ristovski - who paved the way for Mitar Subotić/Suba/Rex Ilusivii on a 1985 classic recommended if yr into Hiroshi Yoshimura, The Art of Noise, ECM, Gigi Masin, Laurie Anderson or the sprawling Stroom thing.
‘Opera’ is the sole LP by Jelic & Ristovski, recorded for former Yugoslavian state record label PGB/RTB. Original copies are now mad expensive and in demand for the album’s hybrids of Balkan tradition with a strong influence from Portuguese saudade, with added currents of South American music and contemporary strains of ambient jazz and pop. A big attraction here is the use of early computer and synth technology which permeates their acoustic instrumentation and electro-acoustic timbres in brightly melodic and effusive productions clearly forged in the image of Jon Hassell, but distinguished by a Balkan heritage, resulting in a sound that echoes Offen Music’s unarchived works of Mitar Subotić and the modal moods of László Hortogbagyi, with bags of added slap bass and orchestral stabs that wink to ‘80s Hollywood scores.
Jelic & Ristovski take obvious inspiration from the melancholy soul of Portuguese fado and Jon Hassell’s hyper prismatic 4th world style on ‘Opera’, given a notable era-specific vibe courtesy of early computers and synths that also place this album in the near stylistic vicinity of Laurie Anderson’s ‘Home of The Brave’ and the pitched vocal daftness of The Art of Noise’s ‘In Visible Silence’ from the same era. Jelic comments "My temperament, my previous experience, my sensibility, they all clearly pointed toward a fusion of ambient, jazz and pop music laced with elements of the various Balkan musical traditions as well as the universe of the Latin American sound."
Also drawing from the inflections of Romani music that are found across Balkan and Mediterranean musics, ’Opera’ is a melodramatic experience full of sentimental melody and vocals, flowing through sections of plastic joy, careening from the carnival percussion of ‘Rhinoceros II’ to the big band emulation of ‘In The Sky’ via pluckiest slap bass on ‘Gawker’ and the Suba-esque choral work ‘Lamentation’. Curious diggers fascinated by the liminal space between Les Disques du Crépuscule, Stroom, and Editions EG - look no further, this one's for you.
A dead strong look for Drexciya or Laurel Halo heads, DR MYSTERY debuts on Michael Holland’s Ono incubator with a superb electro/synth-pop salvo full of rugged machine rhythms, subaquatic synths and dreamy vox.
Hailing from the Baltic region but based in Manchester for many years, DR MYSTERY is a masked enigma who has made her name playing live shows and DJ sets in her adopted home city. She now joins the likes of Tom Boogizm, Marlene Ribeiro (Negra Branca) and Dice Miller (Dali Maru & The Polyphonic Swarm) to present a notable first or formative work on Ono with ‘Far From Home’, a robust but sparingly assembled suite of sci-fi storytelling that expresses a certain sort of sehnsucht or hiraeth for her native lands, and a palpable, modernist sense of loneliness and resilience stemming from living in a familiar but foreign city.
‘Far From Home’ captures DR MYSTERY at the cusp of her journey ahead as a recording artist. Clocking in with the propulsive 808 tekkerz and reverberating vox of ‘Dialog That Needs Your Attention’, she enacts a compelling flight between electroid breaks reminding of early Radioactiveman or Two Lone Swordsmen on ‘Gaia’, thru a killer darkside dembow on ‘Petrichor’, to more optimistic electro-dreampop on ‘Opulence’. The beat-less shape of ‘Avalanche’ makes stark her knack for discretely captivating synth tones and arrangements, and the low-slung hip hop/electro of her title tune and the blunted swag of ‘Antares’ both uncannily recall Rat Heart’s blooziest.
Flora Yin-Wong's new label/publishing house Doyenne ("for new forms, objects & the divine feminine") debuts with a fine split from multidisciplinary artist Susu Laroche and Yin-Wong herself: deploying a side of Laroche’s killer dungeon dabke followed by Yin-Wong’s astonishing, subterranean fever dreams.
We're excited about Doyenne. FYW has promised that her new label will handle more than just music; the second release is set to be a book about the tradition of singing to spirits featuring contributions from YL Hooi, Cucina Povera, Christina Vantzou and Lucinda Chua, and after that Doyenne will release photography, metalwork, poetry and illustrations as well as music. But the first release establishes the imprint's sonic foundations, and who better to rise to that challenge than Yin Wong and her London-based French-Egyptian pal Susu Laroche, who is also well versed in releasing art across multiple mediums, from making her own tarot cards, to producing films made with music by Mica Levi and Blackhaine.
Like Yin-Wong, Laroche infuses her sounds with context - her previous releases were lashed to ideas about 19th century occultists, trance states, ancient poetry and gender-fluxing Georgian monarchs. The tracks presented here have been left to marinate in the same gooey cultural oils; 'Hold Your Tongue' is precariously divine, unfolding gracefully from gusty vocal twists into bewildering dabke murk. 'Hours' is more asymmetric and hooky, sounding uncannily like Fever Ray as if produced by Shackleton, casually drawing us into a cycle of ritualistic chants, hand drums and acidic synths that suggest a levantine cyberpunk parallel history, with all the high-minded artistic exposition that might suggest.
Flora Yin-Wong follows last year's installation-led examination of the harmony between Daoism, paganism and Catholicism 'Sacro Bosco' with two immersive oddballs that strike a balance between spiritual nihilism and emotional abstraction. And - honestly - she just gets better with every release. If her Modern Love album ‘Holy Palm’ emptied her archive of years worth of field recordings, the tracks here are on a whole other level of madness.
‘Acid / Answered Prayer’ opens into the most desolate landscape imaginable, with ungodly howls and found sounds gradually multiplying in intensity. It could all go power ambient, but instead our ears are directed to the thrum of strings buried somewhere way down in the mix, all sparkling beauty illuminating the rot around it. So many people try their hand at this sort of textural/gothic ambient - but very few have done it at this sort of primal, deeply believable level.
The side ends on a short coda that in the space of 90 seconds folds from splintered Bill Orcutt-style broken guitar strings and thumb piano and into a sort of music box lullaby swallowed by apocalyptic industrial electronics. it makes no sense, and therefore makes all the sense in the world.
It’s hard to get excited by new labels when there is such a glut of new ones emerging pretty much every day, but Doyenne has a real shot at being a thing. We’re locked.
Daft bloghouse dance-pop charm from Felicita, marking a decade of skewed hyperpop with a relatively straight club nugget
10 years since their self-released debut ‘(>'.')>#’ caught our ears, Felicita is now considered a key player in the PC Music gang and the contemporary pop sound they’ve incubated and propagated. ‘Riff Raff’ sees Felicita return to a touchstone for this sound in the sort of late ‘00s tech-house/blog-house that also begat SOPHIE with a bubbling groove peppered by signature production details and lit up with Ohem’s playful lyrics about being bitten by a puffer fish. Splash splash dish it up for the dayglo kids.
Honest Jon's Records releases 'Impossible Love Songs From Sixties Quito'.
"Gonzalo Benitez and Luis Alberto Valencia began singing as a duo in their mid-teens. During twenty-eight years together they recorded more than six hundred songs, for Discos Ecuador, Nacional, Granja, Ortiz, Rondador, Onix, Fuente, Real, Tropical, Fadisa, RCA Victor — and of course CAIFE.
Their exquisitely romantic harmonising is a sublime blend of collected forbearance and abject self-annihilation, underpinned and elaborated by the heart-piercing, improvisatory guitar-playing of Bolivar Ortiz. Effectively the third member of the group. ‘El Pollo’ sets the tone and intensity for everything that follows.
Fiercely beautiful, desolate music from the shadowy mists of time, the lip of oblivion, for anyone who had a heart, for anyone who ever dreamed."
After snatching our album of the year spot in 2021 with ‘Rhinestones', HTRK open up the vault for a feature-length collection of alternate takes, demos, and sketches augmented by a bunch of unreleased songs, compiled to coincide with their US tour happening round about now. Love this band so fucking much.
Offering a “glimpse behind the veil” at last year’s most effective emotional support animal, ‘Death Is a Dream’ plays like an unexpected encore transmitted straight to the heart. It’s such a weird, real pleasure to hear these songs distilled and viewed from other perspectives, as with the ‘rehearsal’ take on ‘Gilbert & George’ or the slow thrumming ‘Eurodance’ version of ‘Kiss Kiss and Rhinestones’, while the newly unveiled songs are no doubt worth cost of admission alone, particularly the tear-jerk jangle and blunted croon of the title tune that closes the tape and appears to feature Nigel’s voice.
A shivering new backbone of minimal, pulsing reverb-drenched 808s now bolster their watercolored strings in ‘Valentina (Cali Highway Version)’ while the clipped drums on ’Straight to Hell (Demo)’ frames the scene with brilliantly different strokes, while ‘Reverse Deja vu (Demo)’ is stripped to heartbreaking quintessence complete with woodblock drums piercing the melancholy.
"lost highway jukebox standards”, indeed.
Belgium’s reliably surprising Meakusma host Philipp Matalla’s curious debut LP contorting outernational folk and squashed illbient downbeats into fractal psychedelia.
Strange things are afoot in ’Stakes’, which advances on a decade of releases for Prins Thomas’ Internasjonal and Optimo, and more vaporous ambient electronics as Maxxa/M Pounds with a bolder incursion of experimental interzones. Any semblance of club form or function is out the window on this one, replaced by sheer psychedelic expression that balances lush and brutalist urges in the music’s kaotic harmonies and distorted structures that are possibly best compared with the hallucinatory nature of Kay Logan’s Otherworld works or the bittersweet gnarl of Leyland Kirby’s overlooked Intrigue & Stuff series.
Evoking low res AI emulations of panoramic scapes, or a computer struggling to simulate a sort of noise exotica, the music snags the imagination with its detuned scales and granular textures that get right under the skin. The shearing chromatic bursts of ‘In_blank’ trigger a collection that curdles and diffracts between stately ceremonial procession on ‘Same’ to sawn-off illbient on ‘Clip_Bars’. His feel for expressively detuned tone is most potent on ‘Plus’, and elusively gloopy in ‘North’, while ‘Tarko’ feels like Fennesz doing trap. Strange but true.
Brian Mcbride and Adam Wiltzie's "Stars Of The Lid" are another one of those bands, alongside Windy and Carl, that seem to typify Kranky's quiet exuberance perfectly.
Their ability to create drifting shimmers of sound that veer from hushed, whispered soundscapes to disturbed crescendo's utilising nothing more than a couple of guitars, some basic effects pedals and whatever found sounds happen to be lying around has allowed them to progress slowly from one album to the next with the sort of intuitive, masterful command of minimalism that's quite hard to fathom in one sitting.
"Gravitational Pull" was originally released on the Sedimental label, eventually reissued by Kranky back in 1998, including extra material. Amazing stuff.
Jan Jelinek's transitional album ‘Zwischen’, made up of versions of pieces recorded for German public broadcaster SWR2. It includes twelve sound collages which make use of fragmented interviews provided by public figures including John Cage, Lady Gaga, Stockhausen, Yoko Ono, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Duchamp and others. Jelinek uses fragments of each voice to create highly evocative soundscapes, a conceit not unlike the use of Jazz loops on his much loved classic.
Jelinek focuses on intonation, umming and ahhing, silences, pauses for breath and hesitations which dictate the pace and mood, the resonance and tone of each interviewee providing the textural core of each piece. These same vocal fragments also control synthesized sound, creating overlays that merge with the voices to make twelve synthetic/acoustic structures.
As Jelinek explains "We all know the speaker’s fate: you falter, you mispronounce, there are breaks, silences and false starts. This results in delays, a language noise compared by Roland Barthes to the knocks made by a malfunctioning motor. Such gaps can be disconcerting, standing as they do for a failure of the speaker’s rhetorical skills. But what happens when they become a constitutive, poetic factor? Zwischen consists of twelve answers to twelve questions. The answers were all recorded in interview situations. From the speech of the interviewees – all eloquent public figures – the pauses are extracted and edited together. The result is a series of sound collages of silence.
But this silence is deceptive, as it is only meaning that falls silent. What remains audible is an archaic body language: modes of breathing, planning phases, seething word particles in search of sense that can break out into onomatopoeic tumult or drift off into sonorous noise. In a further step, each of the twelve collages controls a modular synthesizer via its amplitude and frequency. Supposedly defective speech acts conduct synthetic sounds and the speakers regain their composure – not via the spoken word, but through sound. The opening questions in the various interviews are answered by: Alice Schwarzer, John Cage, Hubert Fichte, Slavoj Žižek, Joseph Beuys, Lady Gaga, Ernst Jandl, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Marcel Duchamp, Friederike Mayröcker, Yoko Ono and Max Ernst.
ONO take the pulse of Riga’s musical underground with 13 works by artists largely unknown beyond their local scene; Elizabete Balčus, Uģis Jansons, Rudens Lapas, Bēdu Brāļi, Ivars Bez F, Imants Daksis a.o.
‘Rīga Īpaša’ was programmed by ONO’s Michael Holland with Uģis Jansons after the pair marvelled at the richness of Latvian music, and specifically the Riga scene surrounding Uģis’s recording studio. Considering that ONO have introduced the world to the likes of Tom Boogizm (pre-Rat Heart) and Marlene Ribeiro’s Negra Branca, plus myriad Manchester outsiders and DIY types over the years, we can trust that their cherry-picking skills are also on point here highlighting a wavelength of work running from fever-dream folk-pop to synthy torch songs, Grimes-like electro-pop, psych-soul and wayward styles that fall between generic integers.
The baker’s dozen pieces document a slice of Riga’s creative spirit in 2022 with results ripe for anyone snagged on the likes of Estonia’s Porridge Bullet, Finland’s Fonal label, or Stroom’s repeat returns to the region. Elizabete Balčus sets the tone with a captivating piece of ambient spiritual folk-jazz ‘Švamme’, and Waterflower’s radiant dream-pop electro work ‘Būrī’ helps define the survey’s breadth of style, along with standout highlights such as the DIY oil of ‘Freckles’ by OFF ME ON, the enchanted croon of Imants Daksis on ‘Spoks’, and the wickedly queried, curdled discord of ‘Klaviirs (Short Fuzzy Mix)’ by the set’s co-compiler Uģis Jansons, and the gothic post-punk jangle of Bēdu Brāļi.
The third installment of Light in the Attic’s Pacific Breeze series.
"Pacific Breeze... has supplied the world’s growing legions of Japanese music fans with an expertly curated selection of the most sought-after City Pop recordings—the mesmerizing and nebulous genre of Japanese bubble-era music of the ‘70s-’80s that encompasses AOR, R&B, jazz fusion, funk, boogie and disco. These familiar sounds are spun through the unique lens of optimistic, cosmopolitan fantasy colored by Japan’s affluence at the time. Much of the music has previously been nearly impossible to acquire outside of Japan and continues to captivate listeners with its unique blend of groove-laden escapism, even birthing wholly new genres such as Vaporwave.
Pacific Breeze 3: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1975-1987 marks the latest chapter in the famed series and features holy grails plus under-the-radar rarities. The collection bursts at the seams to reveal some of the greatest Japanese tracks ever laid to tape, pushing towards the edge of City Pop to reveal glimmers of the next waves of styles to spring forth from the country’s creative minds. The appearance of Pizzicato Five hint at the emergence of Shibuya-kei while the influence of hip hop and electro as an emerging global trend are also evident here through the prevalence of heavier programmed drum beats on tracks such as “Heartbeat” by Miho Fujiwara.
This volume of Pacific Breeze, like its predecessors, is a female-forward offering with many tracks being voiced by women who would become household names in Japan as actresses and pop idols. Their songs here subvert the norm and brim with an innovative spirit that shatters gender roles in favor of sonic transcendence. Techno-pop classics from Susan, Miharu Koshi and Chiemi Manabe sit alongside sublime funk from Atsuko Nina and Naomi Akimoto while Teresa Noda slides into the mix with a sultry reggae jam. The genre span is stretched wider with hypnotic jazz fusion by Parachute and Hiroyuki Namba, a synthesizer fantasy from Osamu Shoji, and magnetic pop by Makoto Matsushita and Chu Kosaka.
Although not front and center, the visionary members of Yellow Magic Orchestra are still very present on Pacific Breeze 3, with Haruomi Hosono, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Yukihiro Takahashi taking up producer and musician roles on many of these tracks. Pacific Breeze 3 serves up a captivating musical journey that adds an essential chapter to the iconic compilation series."
The inarguable square root of so much post-, math-, and avant-rock to come, one of those records that makes history fall into place around it. R.I.P. Glenn Branca.
One of the most striking, singular débuts of its era, Ascension was and still is a stunning example of an artist pushing the boundaries of their chosen instrument. By this point Branca was already a staple of NYC’s No Wave movement with Theoretical Girls and The Static, two groups who strove to strip rock music back to its primitivist roots and rediscover its truth. After a small handful of records with those bands, he progressed to arrange his own group, the Ascension Band, revolving around Branca as one of four electric guitarists (also including a pre-Sonic Youth Lee Ranaldo), plus a bassist and drummer, who were gathered in order to explore the possibilities of massed, alternate tunings for multiple guitars, sowing the seeds for what would later fully come to fruition with the development of his symphonies for 100 guitars.
In five movements recorded at The Power Station, the Ascension Band explore the guitar’s then-lesser heard voices in a way which would directly feed forward into myriad strains of guitar music as we know it. Opening with Lesson No.2, a grindingly hypnotic motorik follow-up to his first EP Lesson No.1,the album takes in Branca’s 12 minute masterpiece The Spectacular Commodity a situationist-inspired piece full of complex tempo changes and thrilling discord, to variously investigate, gnashing, clashing harmonics Structure, and onto the monotone thrum of Light Field, and the nerve-jangling chaos of The Ascencion, which is the inarguable square root of so much post-, math-, and avant-rock to come, from Swans to Sonic Youth, and on thru GY!BE or even Raime.
The Ascension is one of those records that makes history fall into place around it, when given and heard in proper context. It’s just essential listening. R.I.P. Glenn Branca.
Reissue of Hyd’s PC Music debut - produced by A.G. Cook, Caroline Polachek and umru - charting her metamorphosis from the QT avatar into Tay Tay-meets-Grimes style hyperpop grunge slay
An early fixture of PC Music as QT, Hayden Dunham has become one of its leading lights in recent years as Hyd, addressing the label’s aesthetic arrested development with a more grown-up style of pop songwriting that mixes chart-style chops with cannier traces of up-to-the-second electronic club music. Arriving elven and dreamy on the swole Reese bass ballad of ‘No Shadow’, the EP impresses with her quiet/loud electro-pop ace ‘Skin 2 Skin’, beside the ebullient electro-country twang of ‘The Look on Your Face’ and neuro-pop lullaby ‘The One’.
Reissue housed in die-cut jacket designed by Peter Saville with infamous glass paper (or sandpaper) inner, and 7” ‘testcard’ featuring two tracks by Martin Hannett
The Durutti Column’s sublime debut album is back in circulation on vinyl for the first time in four years, presenting a definitive edition replete with the extra tracks featuring drum programming from Eric Random and a bonus 7” of two cuts from seminal producer Martin Hannett, who produced this album and many more for the legendary Factory label.
Not sure what we can add to the gushing rivers of praise for this record already out there?! Save possibly to say that in the 37 years since conception, Vini Reilly’s best loved album, The Return of The Durutti Column has clearly lost none of its evergreen charm and rarified Didsbury air. That’s possibly down to its timeless, fluid ‘simplicity’ and minimalism, or because of Martin Hannett’s future-proofing mixing desk trickery. But, either way it still floods your listening space with light and languorous, lushly introspective feelings that reams of artists have chased ever since.
Highly recommended? Essential!
Celebrated Danish Fluxus artist Henning Christiansen gets another deluxe (and lengthy) boxset, this time focusing on his most ambitious and highly-regarded project - music for Heinrich von Kleist's 24 scene tragedy "Penthesilea". RIYL Vladimir Ussachevsky, Robert Ashley, Akira Rabelais, Iannis Xennakis.
'OP.176 PENTHESILEA' is a grand undertaking, both for Christiansen, and for anyone likely to engage with the five hour set. For those with stamina though, it's more than worth the effort. Christiansen and his widow Ursula Reuter Christiansen were both fascinated by the work of von Kleist, and in the 1980s the Danish composer decided to tackle the German playwright's 1808 tragedy "Penthesilea". A modernized Greek tragedy set in Troy that was struck through with visceral cruelty, the play was originally performed in Berlin - so it made sense that the premiere of Christiansen's original piece was in Berlin in 1984. This version is included in full here, and was composed using field recordings, tape machines and electronics.
For anyone fascinated by tape music's more austere fringe, it's startling stuff. Described in the press release as "an audiobook presented as sound," the 45 minute excursion is an evocative set of edited field recordings, with instrumental elements and sparse electronics reduced to ghostly traces. A recording of horses trotting on a dirt road with farm machinery rumbling in the background takes up almost an entire track, while a boxing match is the backbone of another. These precise captures are manipulated to trip us up or distort our expectations, and Christiansen lulls us into a false sense of security before playing with our perception and mangling the stereo field. The most tantalizing parts of this performance are the long-form drone compositions though, that sound more spine-tingling than any contemporary horror soundtrack, using elongated piano tones, corrosive electronics and mindbending tape FX.
Christensen expanded the set for a performance in Rome two years later, turning 45 minutes into four and a half hours. It's top shelf stuff that serves as a virtual primer for Christiansen's entire catalog, folding in a complete overview of his techniques, from his early classical works to his most uncompromising electronic experimentation. On this version, the original field recordings are filled out with even more processed drones and unusual instrumentation from Werner Durand (who plays a Persian ney and baritone horn with sax mouthpiece), Jan Tilman Schade on violonello and tuba, Carla Tatò on vocals and Ernst Kretzer providing extra sounds.
Honestly, it's a work that puts most contemporary electro-acoustic practitioners and field recordists to shame. Christiansen's patience and raw creativity is breathtaking, allowing him to functionally control a narrative for a duration that's tough to comprehend. Sometimes dissonant and industrial, sometimes more earthy - almost like a lost Discrepant oddity - and sometimes teetering into near proto-techno (really), it's an impossible album to anticipate. Just when you think you've heard it all, Christensen will wrongfoot you with a mid-'80s precursor to Akira Rabelais' oxidized embellishments. Genius.
While Kevin Drumm has a reputation as a harbinger of doom, he also possesses an instinctive gift for quieter and meditative tones which are deployed to sublime, melancholy effect on this epic new double album. It generates a phosphorescent shadowplay of electro-acoustic tones and timbres comparable to his landmark releases Imperial Distortion and Tannenbaum in terms of their palpable yet somehow barely-perceptible spectral presence.
The first LP in the set is a special addition to the Drumm oeuvre. One of the most varied slabs in his catalogue, it moves in four parts from the keen of hollowed/hallowed resonance in The Forthright Fool to a transfixing pair of works entitled The Loop A + B, with the former sounding like Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement meets AFX’s SAW II ambience, and the latter deploying a gauzier sound sphere of coruscating tones and genteel chaos intensifying to a swarming panic attack, before the B-side-long Old Connections smears that tension with a paralysing, eviscerating force like being buried and slowly dissolving within a glacier.
From that subtle departure of the new paths of Disc 1, the 2nd plate returns us to more familiar Drumm terrain in all three sections. The longest, A Blind Spot hearkens to the supremely rare effect of Imperial Distortion, somehow coruscating yet amniotic - a proper metal ambience - while the final side’s Social Interaction feels like a smothered, internalized expression of Aaron Dilloway’s grotesque body gurns, and the near-static shimmer of Reverse Osmosis lends a suitably ambiguous close with an unyieldingly slow yet somehow lush strokes of genius.
Details of Gustave Doré’s wood-engraved illustration from The Rime of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge adorns the sleeve and firmly hints at the poetic tempest and grain of Drumm’s work inside, which fixes its gaze not on the drama of the situation, but the tension and anxiety which frames it.
Bringing vibes for days, if not decades, Peacefrog with a first ever vinyl reissue of Moodymann’s Silence In The Secret Garden  to slake the thirst of DJs and dancers the world over.
Slotting between Forevernevermore  and Black Mahogani  in the scheme of things, KDJ’s 4th album is a peerless distillation of Detroit house DNA and party flavours, working a masterful balance of simmering house party funk and technoid depth that could really only come from one man and the city he reps.
Party-building aces such as People share space with rolling deep techno works such as On My Way Home, and rugged club abstractions like Silence in The Secret Garden hold ground beside sultry Afro-Latin numbers like Yesterdays Party Watta Bout It, demonstrating it’s all part of the same thing in a way that KDJ has exemplified for over 20 years.
Cop on sight!
Vancouver's wzrdryAV splits his output into two discrete sides on 'Midnight Visions', crafting moody house on the first and tape saturated drone on the other.
Originally released in 2021, "Midnight Visions" is more convincing material from Kelly Nairn. The last we heard from him was last year's excellent line-released "West Coast Systems Vol. 2" - this one's a little different, but no less intriguing. The first eight tracks are surprising, showing Nairn's interest in bass-heavy Detroit sounds - particularly those sounds' evolution at the hands of MCR's Andy Stott. The Canadian producer's patented whirling textures are still there, but obscured behind sleazy basslines, acidic synths and slow-motion 4/4 kicks.
Slipping into the album's second half we're treated to more familiar material, and Nairn guides us through his world of carefully tweaked field recordings and gusty, slowly-evolving pads. There's no shortage of material that's operating within this mode right now, but Nairn's approach is both studied and idiosyncratic, taking the initial influence of artists like Wolfgang Voigt and Thomas Köner and pushing the psychedelic content and narrative sway into surreal, escapist spaces.
Class cuts of heat-seeking Afrobeat and soul from 1978 Benin, West Africa - ‘Ogassa Story’ is a must for the Afro-funk heads, beside deeply specialist, wildly crooked grooves in ‘Production Vido Tche’ and ‘Gbe We Gnin Wa Bio’.
“Over the past couple of years Acid Jazz have been re-issuing releases from the enigmatic 'Albarika Store' label, a goldmine in Afro cuts from Benin, West Africa. The latest instalment is the ultra-rare 'Ogassa Original (Vol. 1), the first LP from obscure but ultimately brilliant Porto Novo group, Ogassa from 1978. Like many Albarika releases, it was recorded at EMI Lagos, giving a depth and fidelity that stands out in the realm of Afro rarities. Reissued in full with the original artwork for the very first time, a must have for Afro collectors and completists alike.”
Sublime, sylvan ambient dream-pop and Cinéma pour l'oreille by shapeshifting Japanese star Tujiko Noriko, for the label that helped introduce her to the world at large some 20 years ago - doubling as a sort of elegy for the gone-but-not-forgotten Peter Rehberg
“In the early days of MEGO prior to it’s transformation into Editions MEGO a most unexpected release appeared amongst the radical roster. Out of all the twisted hard drive activity from PITA, General Magic, Farmers Manual etc appeared a very different kind of release. One made from a computer, but one with a softer atmosphere, cloud-like in sonic shape and even containing discernible melodies (!). This was the debut release from Japanese artist Tujiko Noriko which not only launched her career to a larger audience but opened the doors of Editions Mego to a broader range of experimental musical forms.
Noriko’s particular synthesis of electronic abstraction, melody, voice and atmosphere has few peers as sound gently circles her mystical words morphing into a succession of emotive aural experiments framed as songs. Noriko’s evolution since her debut Mego release has seen further solo works alongside collaborations as well as a shift into cinema, both acting and as director.
On Crépuscule one can hear the influence the film medium has had on her music as visual insignia are invoked in the evocative audio at hand. Instrumental interludes further conjure a film landscape alongside the titles which also reiterate the cinematic form. This is synthetic music with a deep human presence. The mind of a human captured wandering the fantastic realms of the internal sphere is exquisitely rendered through machines which usually prompt one to disfigure such humanistic tendencies. The warmth, serenity and dream-like environment that Noriko conjures from her tools is what makes her such a unique and outstanding artist and Crépuscule is an epic testament to these powers.
The title Crépuscule perfectly encapsulates the somnambulant nature of the music where the nocturnal shifts evoke a broad sense of calm. Crépuscule I features a selection of shorter ‘songs’ whilst Crépuscule II allows more room for these songs / moods to breathe with only three songs running at broader longer duration. Crépuscule allows the listener to view the world through Noriko’s eyes. With her cunning ability to humanise machines a world of calm wonder is allowed to take focus in the frame.”
Detroit’s 100 Limousines chase their outstanding Kemetrix album (one of 2022’s best by far) with Dunn’s shearing contemporary ambient designs, primed for fans of special guest dj, Huerco S. or Laurel Halo
Dunn plays with new age ambient tropes in in a warmly user-friendly style oscillating between lush, textured, beat-less works, noisier strains, and blissed downbeats that remind us of 100 Limousines’ K-6000 album as much as Laurel Halo’s gyring early works or the best of the burgeoning US ambient scene in the 2020s.
The dozen tracks are arranged in playthru style for seamless listening, tiling ephemeral vignettes and more full-bodied parts into a mazy mosaic of fractured ambient that might resonate with anxious mindsets. There’s an elusive sort of lushness that threads the whole set from ‘Induction Mechanism’ to ‘Beads like Silvershapes’, with pads and synth lines prone to arc across tracks and follow an under-the-hood narrative from the sci-fi intrigue of ‘Biotecture’ to pockets of iridescent sublime redolent of Nozomu Matsumoto in ’Beckoning Territories’, whereas the thizzing jazz of ‘In The Shade’ echoes the coolest KDJ cuts, and ‘Motionless Surveyor’ hints at Manga soundtracks in a similar way to how ’Seventh Sky (Grey Heaven)’ reflects 0PN and pulpy cyberpunk William Gibson-esque feels.
Epic set collecting Tindersticks' bespoke film scores for the films of Claire Denis, 1996-2009 - 75 tracks clocking in at over 3 hours of pure low-lit 'artmelters.
Ever since a chance meeting in Paris many moons ago, Nottingham's preeminent misanth-romantics Tindersticks have been providing subtly breathtaking instrumental scores for acclaimed French director Claire Denis. Now compiled by Constellation, these six feature-length soundtracks will obviously appeal to committed fans of the band, but really deserve to find a wide audience far beyond that.
Like the films they were made for; 35 Rhums, L’Intrus, Vendredi Soir, Trouble Every Day, White Material and Nenette Et Boni - the band’s, haunting and evocative pieces are all about the accumulation of detail, and build slowly but surely to crushing emotional climaxes. Denis is preoccupied with landscape and the individual's place within it, and Tindersticks respond with treatments that expertly navigate the intimate and the expansive: the default setting is somewhere between smoked-out brush-stroke Jazz, pastoral folk and modern classical, with shades of the most austere 90s Americana and post-rock, with guitar, harmonium and chamber strings prominent throughout.
For us it's the soaring, drum-driven material from Denis's most recent picture, White Material, that hits hardest, but really it's all crushing stuff, and rewards deep immersion. Classique.