After a blazing succession of Sound System heaters, Dug Out offers a spiritual session of seminal nyabinghi grounation from Dadawah circa 1974, perhaps the most mind-expanding, important spiritual dub reissue we've heard this last decade.
It's most likely a large influence upon the work of label head Mark Ernestus in his Rhythm & Sound guise, recalling the magical spirituality of classics like 'Making History' among others in the hypntoic, shuffling pace and intangibly smoky aura that seems to evaporate from the grooves with each listen. The group is led by Ras Michael, guiding a traditional set up of nyabinghi (ceremonial Rasta drums), bass, guitar, brass and Piano organ in four extended excursions over sublime, psychedelic terrain without a worry in the world.
As with much of the best reggae, much of the magic was elicited and embellished in post production, with Lloyd Charmers and Federal engineer George Raymond apparently staying up all night after the session to mix the recording, imbuing the tracks with a dazed, wide-open and echoing personal space. Keeping the standards impeccably high, the album was lovingly restored at Abbey Road and looks every bit the classic that it is. Big up Dug Out, this going to be on rotation round here for years to come.
Ascetic House spotlight Barcelona’s Titan Arch and their brooding ambient ‘soundtrack to a soundless memory’ in their latest batch
In a succinct 20 minutes Sergi Alejandre a.k.a. Titan Arch conjures a darkly meditative mood that at times turns properly threatening as the EP transitions from the gaseous sci-fi loom of New Century Transformation to an immense, head-engulfing work worthy of comparison with Alessandro Cortini or Ensemble Economique at his cinematic best in Look At Me Now. The airy syn-flutes and sibilant ambience of Delusion Tour brings the darkness to light, and Sigil For Shedding almost broaches new age terrain, but at a gauzy arms length.
This is a beauty! Evan Parker’s tribute to his late friend, the hugely esteemed soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, features the estimable improviser Parker duetting with field recordings of Northern European birds in an enchanting, inter-species dialogue.
In the first, Parker sounds out clear and languid around a slightly submerged, dusky soundfield, fringed by occasional chirrups and a rich background patina. On the 2nd part the distinctions between players is subtler, with Parker utilising extended techniques in quieter communion. Reminds us of a morning we spent whistling back and forth with birds outside the window after a heavy night, but we’ll save that story for another time.
The 3rd section switches up again, folding in harsher electronic tones and percussive clatter around what sounds like a drunken flock of gulls, kinda like a spattered Merzbow, before Parker tends to a sorrowful blue sound in the 4th part, joined by church bells before modulating into corners of abstract electronics.
Treader label bosses Ashley Wales & John Coxon a.k.a. Spring Heel Jack and legendary US trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith serve their six-part drama Hackney Road, featuring drums by Steve Noble (Rip, Rig & Panic) and Pat Thomas on synth and keys, mixed and engineered by Rupert Clervaux.
Recorded during 2016 at Hackney Road Studios, hence the title, the quintet kick up a killer free fuss mostly dominated by Wadada Leo Smith’s expressive lines of thought, but with ample room for shards of blistered, growling and cosmic electronics to erupt and recede inside the matrix. They really cover some ground on this one.
A colossal, trance-inducing, yet largely overlooked pillar of 20th century American minimalism.
Regarded no less than a "holy grail" by Keith Fullerton Whitman, it spans 100 minutes of atonal, amorphous string composition scored in four parts for a quintet, here performed by Linda Cummiskey (Violin), Malcolm Goldstein (Violin), Kathy Seplow (Violin), Stephen Reynolds (Viola), David Gibson (Violoncello).
By all accounts Harley Gaber was a colourful fella, a complex American artist, composer and filmmaker who dropped it all not long after release of this 1976 work to become a full time Tennis player and coach. He would return to the arts, and later music, writing soundtracks for his own films before sadly committing suicide in 2011.
'The Winds Rise in the North' is a frighteningly heavy and rewarding master-stroke, giving rise to dense, gripping harmonic overtones which prickle, seduce and get under the skin in a way that few others achieve. Lock the doors, turn off your phone and give yourself two hours with this. You won't regret it.
Another totally obscure diamond that we might never have found without Edition RZ’s prompting, and should be strongly recommended to fans of durational, minimal works by Stephen O’Malley, Eliane Radigue, or Jakob Ullmann.
Trauermusiken, or Music for Grief, offers two gravely intense compositions for strings written by contemporary Austrian composer and organist Klaus Lang.First released in 1995 by Lambeart, and reissued by Edition RZ in 2002 (this edition), it ranks among Lang’s earliest works and consists of one relatively short prelude followed by a quietly crushing 69 minute piece.
The five minutes of Der Wind und das Meer, Trauermusik für Bratsche solo (The Wind and the Sea, Music for Grief for Viola solo), performed by Barbara Konrad, foreshadow a glacially unfolding and technically demanding piece performed by the Amras Streichquartett.
In its slow, sustained and keening intensity we’re instantly reminded of Harley Gaber’s The Winds Rise In The North, which was also reissued via Edition RZ. However, Lang’s piece feels like the inverse of that record, trading teeth-chattering high-end for a solemn exploration of lower registers, operating at near-liminal levels of concentration and focus.
It’s yet another totally obscure diamond that we might never have found without Edition RZ’s prompt, and should be strongly recommended to fans of durational, minimal works by Stephen O’Malley, Eliane Radigue, or Jakob Ullmann.
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
Wolfgang Voigt commits one of GAS's most darkly sublime albums with 'Rausch', which arrives nearly one year on from Narkopop to remind us his position as the prince of ambient techno.
Meant to be listened to from end to end without interruption, but also included as seven discrete parts for those who need them, Rausch unfurls in diaphanous form along a depressed heartbeat march of padded kicks swept with distant horns and string swells in the faithful, time-honoured style of Wolfgang Voigt's finest recordings.
The difference lies in the feeling conjured by these swollen crests of abstracted instrumental textures and timbre. Rather than dreaminess or tranquilised melancholy, this one feels portent, impendingly stygian, as though summing up humankind’s incessant trudge toward a bleak unknown horizon, resulting in the emergence of sounds more akin to Sunn 0))), with his entrenched kicks struggling to break the gloom, and poetically losing out in the end.
Editions RZ collects historical recordings of Italy's forward looking and influential Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza 1967-75, a collective featuring Egisto Macchi (percussion + celesta), Ennio Morricone (trumpet), Walter Branchi (bass), Franco Evangelisti (piano), John Heineman (trombone + cello), Roland Kayn (hammond organ + vibes + marimbaphon), Giovanni Piazza (horn), Frederic Rzewski (piano), and Jesus Villa Rojo (clarinet).
All skilled players and composers, the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza were formed in 1964 at the initiative of Franco Evangelisti with an aesthetic agenda looking beyond the boundaries of previous improvisational musics. They focussed on production and the qualities of sound itself, employing innovative recording and playing techniques at the limits of their capabilities as performers and composers in order to discover the "new consonance" inferred in their nomenclature.
These ten pieces spanning eight years are highly considered works of art, aware of the Neo-Dadaists attempts to disassemble the concept of a work of art, and instead attempting to expand its parameters as a transitory body of work in flux. We can hear traces of this work reflected in the more forward thinking Italian film soundtracks of the era and to a further extent, in Ennio Morricone's work for Hollywood, in turn casting an influence over much exploratory, non-academic contemporary music.
Haunting chamber invocation by the Austrian organist, composer and academic; written for flute, voice, percussion and viola. The quietly minimal, single, 50-minute piece is intended for reflection and altered, heightened states of sonic perception. RIYL Jakob Ullmann.
“Through concentration on listening or concentration on what we are listening to we can enter a state of simplicity of mind which is a state of the highest inner clarity or inner silence. In other words:when concentrating on the flow of music we can reach an inner state: The inner silence which is the simultaneity of stasis and flow. This paradoxical situation poses the question: Is the flow of music passing us, is music flowing through us thus evoking this inner stasis or is it not a state at all what we experience: should we not most seriously take into consideration the possibility that it is us who are flowing through the sound?”
Edition RZ’s vinyl edition of three works by Luigi Nono - a pivotal figure of the Italian avant-garde - all composed and recorded in the mid ‘80s.
A lesson in fine-tuning acoustic perceptions, meant for focussed reception in keeping with Nono’s concept of “new listenings”: "This no longer means revolutionizing the entire linguistic system ie. a subversive attack on the institution of music; rather it means progressively expanding the technical possibilities of sound produced by traditional instruments and the perceptive faculties of the listener."
It includes the highly pensive and masterful use of space and silence in A Carlo Scarpa for large orchestra, plus the death sigh electronics, contrabass flute and contrabass clarinet apparitions of A Pierre, and perhaps most enticingly, a stunning 30-minute B-side piece called Guai Ai Gelidi Mostri and inhabited by “electronically treated winds”, scything strings and utterly haunting vocal swells.
As with most everything on Edition RZ, it’s a crucial dispatch from the brink.
Editions RZ collect ten early works by the Morton Feldman - largely his shorter pieces, spanning compositions made between 1952 and 1959 alongside esteemed peers including David Tudor, Cornelius Cardew, John Tilbury, and János Négyesy.
"In his compositions for piano, which make up a central part of his oeuvre and in which all of his experience is accumulated, it is the play of Feldman's hand whose touch is intended precisely for the 'untouchableness' of sound. The clear character of the 'attack' thus displays the paradox of such playing: it is just as much about concealing the idiosyncrasy of the piano sound, the precise point of attack while, at the same time, the structure and tension of those sounds are formed by the hand." --Stefan Schadler.
Includes the following works: "Piano Three Hands" (1957, performed by Feldman & Tilbury); "Intermission 5" (1952, performed by Feldman); "Vertical Thoughts 2" (1963, performed by Janos Negyesy: violin & Cardew: piano), "Extensions 3" (1952, performed by Feldman); "Four Instruments, 1975" (1979); "Intermission 5" (1952, performed by Tudor), "Piano Piece 1956 A" (1956, performed by Tudor); "Piano Piece 1956 B" (1959, performed by Tudor); "Intersection 3" (1953, performed by Tudor); "Instruments 1, 1974" (1975, 24 minute piece performed by Eberhard Blum: flute, Nora Post: oboe, Garrett List: Posaune, Joseph Kubera: celesta, Jan Williams: drums)."
'Kompositionen 1950-1972' collects 16 compositions by Christian Wolff. Most of the pieces collected for this portrait of Christian Wolff document the composer’s early activity and were mainly recorded around the time of their composition. Each recording exemplifies the sound gestures from their time.
"Finally I realized that the kind of sound made in an indeterminate situation includes what could result in no other way; for example, the sound of a player making up his mind, or having to change it. In fact, the indeterminate notation I've used is, as far as I know, the only possible one for the kind of sound I should like. And don't forget, we also like to be surprised. ...and the rhythm produced by that situation is like no other rhythm."
Bristol bassbin dweller Commodo follows a hunch for jazzier, moodier chamber dub styles on Dyrge, marking his return to Black Acre.
Over the four tracks of his Dyrge EP we can detect a broader set of influences coming from, say, Dylan Carlson, BoC and Red Snapper, as he keeps the vibe simmering somewhere between brooding and wistfully eldritch in the jazzy chops of Bitch & Moan, then on a lurching Earth-style downstroke with Leeroy, before dispatching the somehow glum yet effervescent expression of Dyrge, and saving his most impressive meld of dank, bluesy half step and Arca-esque electronics in Yuliya.
Proper lysergic melters from Bear Bones, Lay Low on No ‘Label’ - a sometime home to Jamal Moss, Torn Hawk, Morgan Buckley, among many others
Pushing the label’s boundaries for psychotomimetic behaviour, Atlantean Encrypted Message bubbles up from a place usually only visited in the throes of a full blown acid trip. On the A-side, the Belgian artist Ernesto González Rondón tilts in steeply with the warped wormhole of the EP’s title track perhaps meant as gateway as much as a test of the listener’s tolerance for altered states.
If you manage to come out the other end, frazzled but eager for more, you’ll find the swaying kosmische mystery of The Well’s Son to greet and soothe your sparking synapses, but again it’s all or nothing on the B-side’s viscous droner Dans Tes Limbes, which comes on like one of those dark, paranoid waves where you’re not sure if you’ll make it out alive, when the walls are melting and everyone’s gargoyling in your grill.
If this finished in a locked groove it may well send you over the edge. Just strap in tight and keep a snifter of something to bring you back to earth when it’s required. You’ll be reet reset.
The drum-funked alias of Andrew Field-Pickering (Beautiful Swimmers, Lifted) drops the drum, the whole drum, and nothing but the drum for The Trilogy Tapes on a 3rd session of Dolo Percussion.
Quite possibly our favourite output from Mr. AF-P, these are purest dancer and DJ specials built for tracky application and meant to be played in-the-mix with other equally infectious rhythms or tonal content for optimal effect.
Up top, he percolates a palette of Afro-Cuban drums in a recursive tizzy tying your limbs in fluid syncopation with Dolo 9, before rocking the bells under wickedly asymmetric cross-patterns on Dolo 10.
Down below, he goes on with the deadliest West London broken beat simmer in Dolo 12, then whips ‘em into a polymetric vortex on Dolo 12. This may well have outdone Dolo 2. We look forward to confirming this on the ‘floor next weekend!
Brandon Hocura’s Séance centre dishes out Joanne Forman’s deliciously pastoral score for vocals, synths, flutes and guitar, ‘Cave Vaults of The Moon’, some 30 years after it was first imagined, realised, and then left in stasis. A truly magnificent find, exactly the kind one might expect from the likes of Hocura, and a perfect addition to this beautiful label venture. RIYL the gentler aspects of László Hortobágyi, Ursula K. Le Guin & Todd Barton’s’Music And Poetry Of the Kesh’, or the Wicker Man soundtrack
“We humans, the nascent beings that we are, still haven’t quite figured out the full potential of music. Dancing, meditating, emoting, protesting; these are all pretty basic. But what if we communicated more complex ideas with music? What if we codified all of our activities with music? This idea came to composer Joanne Forman when she was commissioned to create the soundscape for an environmental exhibition of sculpture called Artifacts from an Alien Civilization in 1987. The sculptures, elaborate ruins that had been found on the moon, begged the question: who created them and for what purpose?
Joanne Forman imagined that Earth’s moon was a vacation spot for advanced beings from another galaxy. Cave Vaults of the Moon became a collection of sonic texts describing the fun things that went on there; earth-viewing, collecting information, building and playing. In her mind the sculptures in the exhibit were the remnants of a deserted playground of moon castles.
Forman’s playful score for voice, Ensoniq Mirage, Juno 106, flute, guitar and effects, wafted through the exhibit every day for a month and then lay dormant for nearly 30 years. Unearthed here, Cave Vaults of the Moon sounds prescient and timeless, as if the Wicker Man had been scored by Pep Llopis, and we now have the opportunity to reimagine the messages contained within it. Restored and remastered and cut using DMM.”
2018 repress of Visible Cloaks’ self-titled début, offering a timely opportunity for anyone enchanted by their sides for RVNG Intl a fine chance to catch up with the charms of Portland’s arch Japanophiles.
Originally issued in 2015, Visible Cloaks was Ryan Carlile and Spencer Doran’s first attempt at recreating and paying homage to the sounds found in their utterly sublime, cultishly acclaimed Fairlights, Mallets and Bamboo mixes of early-mid ‘80s 4th world and ambient synth music from Japan.
Coming from a background in psychedelia as members of Eternal Tapestry and RV Paintings, Carlile and Doran brought their new project to fruition in gorgeous style, dealing in a style of light-bent and gently warped ambient structures which neatly consolidated their psych tastes with the structures, themes and tone of the Japanese sound which exerts so much influence over modern electronic styles.
The A-side revolves four deliquescent beauties between the hyaline rubs and iridescent scales of Wind Voice and the synthetic choral cadence of Vocal Study, while their B-side extends those those ideas over a totally enchanting side 15 minutes of flighty tones and bubbling rhythms emulating avian motion and chatter and leading to moments of sublime revelation.
SUED dudes SVN and SW regroup at at an expressively jazzy and experimental ambient techno angle for their first release of original material with Apollo, proceeding from their reissue of The Album [2016/17] with a like-minded collection comparable to aspects of work by Move D’s Conjoint, Squarepusher, and Boxcutter.
Over six tracks they scale between amorphous, amphibian acid ambience in 10-10- nomix to crafty beat juggling recalling early ‘90s Tom Jenkinson on dx n-lip, melting out into totally charmingly ambient fuzz and layered field recordings on 11-10-17.1. The pranging breakbeat snap and soulful chords of la-400x jolts the EP back to the ’floor, where they cut looser with the tumultuous AI styles of tx 77 hinten, and slope off into the tranquil downstroke of tr.rd.
Alek Lee treads a fine line between Chi house and acid jazz on this session for the grown-ups who’ll see it thru ‘till dawn
“Alek Lee’s second 12” on Antinote starts with an uptempo opening to a rather downtempo record. Playing with some of the genre (namely, deep house) codes like the use of a politically-aware speech or vibes, Alek Lee can’t resist to give Time his special treatment nonetheless: using some of his dubby tools and bringing in a warm trumpet he takes the song onto a rather windy road. Don’t fall for it though: Time is a red herring...
The next song is without doubt more immediately recognizable as an Alek Lee’s tune with its slightly Pink Floydian vibe and its overall jam feel. On Kesef, the musician whispers in a tunnel of sound effects, joined by his beloved melodica and a nonchalant electric guitar.
Those who dug his previous EP might want to check out Colors and its nemesis - Dark Colors - on the flip side. Borrowing some of the ingredients he put into Sfarot, Alek Lee cooks a set of two eerie dubs. On Colors, the dark and thumping instrumental backs the voice of an impossible child, a creature bred in Tel-Aviv musician’s most twisted fantasies. Meanwhile, Dark Colors paradoxically takes a much more sentimental path. No voice this time but an emotionally-drenched melodica-lead breaking through a foggy environment of ominous synths and enigmatic noises to round off Lee’s mistier record so far.”
Repress of a jazzy jungle bewt from 1996, by Metalheadz and Basement Records regular Wax Doctor for R&S.
A-side Heat is one jazzy jungle’s finest strokes, finding the right balance of breeziness and rugged depth that many others tried, but failed to properly capture during that era of transition. The B-side’s Offshore Drift reprises the vibe with a lighter touch primed for the early and after-hours.
Further to Daniel Avery’s Song For Alpha album, Phantasy Sound roll out four more ‘floor-dedicated extensions of the LP’s vibes on the Projector 12”
Drifting dreamy from the vaporous organ riff and smudged groove of its title track to the dusty deep techno pressure of Shadow Mountain on the A-side, then over to the lush suspension system of Glass, and the beatless shimmer of REHBGBV4367.
Oneohtrix Point Never strafes myriad hyperstitious structures and patterns in pursuit of a futurist nostalgia across 'Garden of Delete', his scudding, delirious 2nd album for Warp and 10th solo since 2007.
Harnessing a gush of ideas in complex, morphing frameworks liable to leave you with an acute sense of temporal displacement, Lopatin weaves laterally and perpendicular like some viral algorithm thru overgrown, metastable realms of the internet's netherworld and all its ungodly sound/image-tessellations.
Doing so he's created an ostensibly parallel world that's actually just a veiled reflection of our own, one where imagined "hypergrunge" band Kaoss Edge could feasibly exist in anachronistic discord with 'Mutant Standard''s flashcore megadome trance accelerationism and the breath-catching PC Music refractions of 'Lift'.
You could practically name any major (and many minor) electronic music movements of the last 30 years, and find some trace of it warped and kerned to fit his nebulous designs. And the originality lies in his knack for juxtaposition and sleight-of-hand; jarring and filtering fractious textures, timbres and harmonic convolutions until they resemble nothing less than the synaesthetic light-to-sound display playing out under his glowing moonroof.
It's got subplots, arcing storylines, recurrent elph voices and even flashbacks to his seminal Eccojams (arguably the ground zero of Vaporwave) if you can keep up with his flow, but it's probably best experienced in the sense it was conceived; an immersive, non-linear and picnoleptic flood of polysemous sound/image syncopation, deconstruction and dissemination that feels something akin to hardwiring yourself head-first into Youtube.
Daniel Lopatin is one of those auteurs who "evolves" with each new release, and whose retro-futurist fixations have naturally come to define our current, increasingly flatland musical scape, whilst coming ever closer to a personal solution to somehow consolidate it all. In years to come we'll realise we were defining years of our lives by which OPN album we were into at the time. For the next few it's going to be 'Garden of Delete'.
Killer new D&B mutations from the shady 4 6 2 5 collective of UVB-76 affiliates, including the outstanding, febrile Cassette_A rave regression.
Uptown, they go hard with splashy big beats and knee-crumpling subs in Non-Citizen, before prolapsing the murky sludge of Proles for the techno mutants.
Downtown brings a densely pressurised minimalist roller called The Barrens, and the one you really need, a shadowy scene-setter called Cassette_A which makes killer use of sample of a rave MC calling “security, come here right now!” set to a backdrop of billowing, bellicose noise, and nothing but. Top marks for that one at the very least!
Keith Kenniff’s output as Goldmund has established him as one of the preeminent composers of minimal piano-based ambient music alongside peers like Hauschka, Dustin O’Halloran, and even Ryuichi Sakamoto, who himself once described Kenniff’s work as “so, so, so beautiful”.
"Hyperbolic as it may sound, Goldmund’s newest collection Occasus may be his most exquisite yet. Where his previous recordings trod faithfully and sincerely on paths of dimly lit, polaroid-esque nostalgia, Occasus deepens the undeniable aesthetic that was hard-won over eight previous Goldmund albums, while expanding the palette to include desultory clouds of synthesizer and a tastefully distressed analog sheen.
The word Occasus means downfall, end, or the rising and falling of heavenly bodies. The title is apt in more ways than one: while the emotional tone of the album denotes bittersweet feelings of conclusiveness, it also perfectly soundtracks the quiet moments when we look up to the sky, and humbly relearn the smallness of our lives as cosmic objects churn slowly overhead with bewitching indifference. Occasus feels deeply personal, private, and hushed yet simultaneously grand, colossal, and profound. Remarkably Kenniff is able to capture micro and macro with equal fidelity.
Tangential to prior Goldmund material, there are a few moments of Occasus that feel dark and menacing like “No Story” and “Thread”, both of which broach urgent paranoia, and provide a refreshing counterweight to the idyll typical of the project. Kenniff’s music has always been unquestionably gorgeous, but seeing it set against an occasionally manic backdrop makes the moments of light shine that much brighter. Even when elements of Occasus play by the rules harmonically, they tend to unfold with a satisfying level of rhythmical disregard. “I like mistakes, I like when things don't go perfectly,” says Kenniff of his wabi-sabi ethos, “I do have a tendency to want for things to be perfect and precise, but I have to also realize that a lot of things I like about music and art are very rough and impulsive, the slight imperfections that give something or someone a unique voice.”
To that end there are few artistic voices as distinct as Goldmund’s. Using only a few simple ingredients (piano, synthesizer, reverb, and a little more) Kenniff’s sound has become so universal that you'd be forgiven for not knowing who it belongs to. Knock offs be damned, every Goldmund recording is cut from an inimitable fabric woven out of emotional intelligence, honesty, vivid imagination, and skillful restraint. Occasus is another strong chapter in an ever more gratifying catalog.”
Keith Hudson's key achievement in a career launched when as a fourteen-year-old he recorded members of The Skatalites on his Shades Of Hudson rhythm.
Originally released in 1974, after a series of solid-gold productions for Ken Boothe, Delroy Wilson, John Holt, U-Roy and the rest, it projects Hudson's removal from JA to London and New York studios and transatlantic audiences, and inaugurates a sequence of albums - classics like Pick A Dub, Brand, Playing It Cool - which show his troubled experimentalism better suited to the LP than the cardinal 7" reggae format.
Anchored here by Santa Davis and George Fullwood from the Soul Syndicate - alongside musicians like Augustus Pablo, Count Ossie and Leroy Sibbles - Hudson's mood is tormented and dazed, as on titles like Darkest Night, My Nocturne and Testing My Faith he struggles for Black senses of commitment - political, existential, religious - at its breaking point. Magnificently and deadly serious, hauntingly unique, unmissable and unforgettable.
Very sadly, this is the posthumous pressing of a long-awaited reissue for Jóhann Jóhannsson’s world-taking début album, Englabörn, which is now packaged with an extra side of reworks by peers including A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Paul Corley, and Jóhannsson himself with Francesco Donadello.
Born in 1969 in Reykjavik, Iceland, Jóhann Jóhannsson passed this mortal coil on 9th February 2018 in Berlin, Germany. An esteemed regular on these pages since this release of his first album, Jóhannsson recorded for practically every notable modern classical label in circulation, and also worked extensively beyond those parameters alongside everyone from Marc Almond and Barry Adamson to avant garde maestros such as BJ Nilsen and Pan Sonic, including most recently recording a number of soundtracks to high profile Hollywood movies.
Opening with the instantly recognisable processed vocals of Odi et Amo, Jóhannsson’s first album recorded under his own name has long held an uncannily nostalgic appeal, one which takes on a new poignancy in light of his passing. For anyone yet to encounter Englabörn it will remain an unusually absorbing experience, while anyone familiar with its tremulous strings, fleeting plays of light and shivering electronics will surely hear it imbued with a new levity.
Of the Englabörn Variations, we’re most attracted to Jóhannsson’s revisions of his own work, alongside Francesco Donadello. The practically chopped & screwed version of Odi et Amo is highly likely to induce tears in susceptible listeners - also appearing as a more glacial bis rework - while Ryuichi Sakamoto also plays the heartstrings like an aeolian harp in his breathtaking rework of Jói & Karen, and cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir takes Sálfræðingur Deyr to its deepest point, before Paul Hilliard’s other vocal ensemble Theatre Of Voices leave us shivering with a final version of Odi Et Amo.
R.I.P. one the 21st century’s first, great composers.
Astonishing archival works by Eliane Radigue, originally released along with Vice-Versa as a double pack, and now available as standalone LP. Listening to Radigue's music is a transformative, humbling experience. Her singular sound is best described by Michel Chion as "infinitely discreet... next to which all other music seems to be tugging at one's sleeve for attention."
Working since the late '50s under the tutelage of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry at RTF's Studio d'essai - the birthplace of musique concrète - Radigue created a body of work whose profound simplicity has only begun to be widely appreciated over the last decade or so. Preferring to work at night - once her children were asleep - her compositions were created using tones derived from an ARP 2500 synthesizer and manipulated on multiple tape machines, creating feedback loops and altering their pitch and duration to coax out quavering microtonal harmonics and ultrasound frequencies not usually perceived at their normal setting.
As practically anyone who knows her music will testify, there's really very little else out there that compares to the elemental tranquility and hallucinatory effect of her works. This album rescues three pieces from original tapes which have lined the walls of her flat in Paris for over 40 years: proposed for the 1970 Osaka Fair, 'Stress-Osaka' (1969) is beautiful and terrifying at once, sounding either like a 1000 strong squadron of B-52's heard from miles away, or a mouth-bound choir humming in unison, somehow subliminally joined by shrill gull-like hi-end repetition; the spectral beauty 'Usral' (1969) was employed for a kinetic sculpture by Marc Halpern, it's title "...a phonetic compression of ultrasounds slowed-down (ultra-sons ralentis in French)" reflecting the use of slowed-down Larsen effects from overlapping tapes to obtain her signature "progressive a-synchronized shifting"; the systolic suspension of 'Omnht' (1970) (one more night) is twenty minutes of slowly encroaching black bass mass and isolated, glassy highs, originally played from behind false dividing walls at a gallery instal and now leaving us for six.
An absolute masterpiece.
Shackleton curves back to Woe To The Septic Heart! with British-German singer-songwriter Anika as his new vocal muse, who lends a refreshing new spirit to his sound following collaborations with Ernesto Tomasini and Vengeance Tenfold in recent years.
Perhaps knowingly timed for release with UK summertime, Behind The Glass is a decidedly mid-summery album full of semi-pastoral psychedelic themes and production in Shackleton’s signature style, equal parts Wickerman soundtrack and Jarman-esque uncanniness with a dash of worcester sauce sourness dosed direct to the pineal gland.
Think ritual dogging sites, lost Spiral Tribe members attempting to find their way out of a nuclear bunker for 20 years, or pagan aliens descending at full moon over Welsh glades. The production, as ever, is incredible.
Intoxicating, nyabinghi-driven roots reggae showcasing the hypnotic and mystically attuned styles of Ras Michael & The Sons of Negus at Black Ark in 1980.
A spiritual successor of sorts to that Dadawah LP, which was also reissued by Dug Out and which left such an indelible mark on our listening lives, Promised Land Sounds - Rockin Live Ruff N Tuff is distinguished by a more upward, bubbling battery of drummers and drenched in widely reverberant, echoic FX perfectly captured by Lance on the Black Ark desk.
The vocals are floating five feet high and deeply devotional, lead by Ras Michael chanting, squawking and holding his own amidst a wavy haze of drums and vibes whose cloud like dimensions sounds as though the recording was exhaled onto wax rather than inscribed.
It’s proper communal music, rolling with the kind of timeless, rounded pressure that comes from lots of time spent playing together, somewhere between The Upsetters and Sun Ra for levels of cosmic intuition and elevation, especially so in the otherworldly 15 minutes of I Ya I.
Not to be missed!!!
Murlo’s Coil Records come on strong with Sharda’s wicked début, packing four mutant speed garage zingers
Manchester-based producer and Swing Ting affiliate Sharda is equally responsible for some of the rowdiest sections of the night at Swing Ting (best club night in the universe, hands-down) when him, Samrai, Platt and Joey B draw for the speed garage and turn the whole place inside out.
The Sharda EP is purely dedicated to that sound: from the helium vox and hyper bubble of Meet Me Halfway thru the piano-heavy rave skanker Chin Up, to a rapid fusion of ghetto-bass and speed garage on Gum, and the organ house donk of Nobody Else featuring a pitched up Gemma Dunleavy, the vibe is dead hard to resist.
Following dissolution of the Yussef Kamaal project, Kamaal Williams a.k.a Henry Wu spreads his jazz charms solo on a debonaire début The Return, delivered via his newly minted Black Focus label. The spectres of ‘70s jazz fusion are felt strongly on this one, but updated with a rugged South London vibe that will bring feet to the ‘floor and see some heads get hot under the collar. RIYL Dego, Floating Points, Gilles Peterson
“The Return is a natural evolution from the Yussef Kamaal project, mining the influence of visionary jazz but blended with all kinds of texture, sounds and signals from the over-saturated London streets.
Notable tracks for old and new listeners are ‘Salaam', 'Situations', 'Medina', 'LDN Shuffle' which features Mansur Brown (of Mansur's Message) and for those die hard Yussef Kamaal fans - they should hear the interpolated roots of 'Strings of Light' in the title track 'The Return’. And that signature Wu Funk can be heard on 'Broken Theme', and 'High Roller'.
The Return is the debut album released on Wu's new label Black Focus Records.”
Genuinely oddball, off kilter compositions from psychedelic backwaters of Finland, courtesy of Kemialliset Ystävät collaborator Marja Ahti a.k.a. Tsembla. RIYL Madalyn Merkey, Tomuttontu, NYZ
“NNA is thrilled to present ‘The Hole In The Landscape,’ the latest full-length album by Tsembla. Based in Turku, Finland, Tsembla is the solo alias of musician Marja Ahti, a frequent collaborator of the Kemialliset Ystävät musical collective and one half of the electro-acoustic duo Ahti & Ahti. As Tsembla, Ahti creates vivid, imaginative compositions of sound and rhythm using electronics and treated samples of recorded acoustic instruments, objects, voices, feedback, and environmental sounds.
Following up the 2015 LP ‘Terror & Healing’ on the New Images label, Tsembla’s fourth full-length album ’The Hole In The Landscape’ combines melodic and rhythmic narrative with rough-edged sound collage, creating a sense of gravitation, forward movement and friction by contrasting weightlessness with density. At the heart of Tsembla’s compositions lies a distinctive and diverse palette of sounds, electronically processed and filtered to create a signature sound and feel with a unique sonic personality.
Across the album’s eight tracks, a tension between electronic synthesis and sampled acoustic sounds creates an inventive mixture of colorful playfulness and meditative starkness. Tsembla’s roots can be traced back to musique concrete, early electronic music, and other rhythmic electronic subgenres, but the final product is in a class of its own. The simplistic yet elegant use of melody is implemented thoughtfully to carry the delicate layers of electronics and samples along their voyage, uniting them into an abstracted whole.
The frenetic, psychedelic density of Kemialliset Ystävät can be heard in these tracks, though Ahti’s solo approach is more restrained and deliberate. Sounds are given enough space from each other to exist harmoniously alongside one another, with a tasteful amount of layering that allows the listener to focus on intentional clusters of brilliantly juxtaposed sounds, without feeling overwhelmed or bombarded. A distinct influence of music from all across the globe can be heard, beyond the usual western scales and instrumentation; woodwinds, strings, percussion and ancient sounds from all corners of the earth are electronically synthesized to create unpredictable textural twists and turns. These incredibly dynamic resulting textures stimulate the brain in unexpected ways, and the metaphor of sonic texture for organic geological formations can be both heard and felt in the exquisite detail that Ahti is able to conjure in these compositions.
As a thematic starting point, ‘The Hole In The Landscape’ takes the deep time of geological processes in contrast to the fleeting lifespan of the human mind and heart - the light fluctuations and deep dents of personal or collective thought and emotion, from the perspective of the slow formation of mountains built by shells, dead organisms or fossilized bacteria, and then carried away by wind or water. The idea of a hole in a landscape can manifest as a hollow desert rock formation, or a sense of personal or collective loss. In either case, there is an absence surrounded by presence. Loss carves a gap in our mental landscape, but simultaneously transforms what is left and infuses it with new meaning.
In step with these thematic properties, Ahti successfully implements her personalized sound to remind us that the unpredictable natural processes of the universe’s activity cannot be contained or controlled. However, through the instrument of creativity, we can take time in our brief earthly human existence to appreciate the aesthetic beauty and artful juxtapositions that are created as a result of this mystifying chaos, reminding us that absence can tell as much of a story as presence.”
Stockholm’s Sissel Wincent returns to Peder Mannerfelt's eponymous imprint with five tracks of ragged gabber kicks and hypnotic electronic gloom, highly recommended if yr into Kablam, Nkisi, Frak, Fever Ray...
Following her recent remix of Fever Ray’s Wanna Sip, Sissel here draws further inspiration from the intersection of doomcore gabber, electronic minimalism and experimental techno to shape a rugged sound riddled with uncanny detail and unyielding arrangements, effectively articulating the idea of techno with a uniquely dry and biting attitude.
Ponytails kicks off the EP with roving kicks scanned by searchlight synths and a melody recalling an ice cold Nkisi cut, while Cynical holds that glaring sound in clenched suspense with a push and pull of jarring atonalities and shivering rhythms that resolve to a jagged, roguish trample.
On Yellow Lines Sissel swerves closer in effect to the primitivist bangers of Frak with unflinching style, but an element of trippy emotive pathos begins to creep in with the curdled synths smeared over militant steppers’ ballistics on Still Undetermined, before Distance As Distance holds her anti-banger stance with bruising, abrasive force, making for some of the grittiest and most unsettling techno you’ll hear in 2018.
Wiley (MBE) asserts his status as grime’s capo dei capi with Godfather II, leading the pack flanked by JME, Kyla, Scratchy, D Double E, Sinead Harnett, Shakka, and Wretch 32.
While Stormzy has risen to become the instantly recognisable figurehead for grime’s youth and raging BBC presenters, Wiley stays relevant on Godfather II with a varied set including a number of smart dérives into summer-ready Afrobeats alongside the usual grimy concerns.
Godfather II is evenly split between grime and more feminine pressures, catching Wiley spending the first half of the album letting off steam with his horror strings drill Been A While, the stripped down but playful tension of I Call The Shots, and the rowdy business of Bar, but allowing for a spot of nostalgic introspection on Remember Me, which effectively triggers a whole other sound for the rest of the album.
From the summer-ready swing of Certified feat. Shake, thru the dusky lean of Fashion Week, to the Afrobeats R&G styles of All The Time and his lushed-up dance-pop shot, Crash with Sinead Harnett, and ultimately the Tupac-styled Over The Edge with Kyla and Wretch 32, Wiley’s sweeter side is properly on show on here. These bits might not impress the purists, but they do show he’s genuinely in touch with inner city UK life in a way that’s not been filtered thru mainstream media, or requires a co-sign from Ed Sheeran.
Clipping.’s ear-gobbling cult noise-rap release ‘Face’ bubbles back up for a digital release...
Features the original trio of cuts, including the noise-rap-gabber onslaught Face, the salty blatz of Studio Frestyle, and the aggression of Block, backed with loadsa new remixes, at best in Youth Code’s industrialised version of Face.
Rolling off his ace Youth 12”, Shamos joins SZE for this ruffcut set
Dancing from the midsummer merry-go-round of R F T to salty electro sludge in DDB, a lushly trippy blatz of acid in NYNM, and some faded boogie nostalgia in Unusual Pictures.
A star of PAN’s Mono No Aware bliss-out, Malibu, makes a gorgeous inverted trance turn as DJ Lostboi with the balmy introspection of their Got Lost EP, a self-released ace.
Perfectly modest and beautifully emotive, Got Lost says its piece in quietly subtle but heart-wrenchingly melodic gestures that catch us out every time, and has become a go-to release for those moments when you don’t really want to think about or do anything other than let yourself be enchanted.
In its delicate and effectively abstract simplicity, Got Lost feels counter to the chaos of the world around us, breezily flowing from the spine-checking acoustic guitar and processed glossolalia of Little Prince to the shivering harp strings of D Major XO Life, before making us well up with the Ian Van Dahl nod of Love Spiral Downwards and slipping off into the kinda gesture that would make Boothroyd blush on If I Should Die, and the sadboy diamond Join Me (Raw).
Exclusive to this edition of the release is the jaw-trembling Torus remix of D Bonus Track XO Torus Llif3, featuring the Dutch producer whisking the OG into a neatly circumvented trance peak.
NPLGNN comes gnashing at the bit for Bristol’s Lava Lava label - a part of the rwdfwd fam - with a mean volley of acid dancehall punk entitled Sonico. Arriving in the wide-eyed wake his Eternal Flame session with Dave Saved and turns with Reel Torque and Where To Now? before that, NPLGNN shows a more rugged and hot-stepping side of his sound that we haven’t heard before.
A-side keels in with the gully dancehall slosh of Weaponized Riddim, whipping desiccated claps, kicks and snares into a militant bogle built for extreme daggering - come test! - whereas Dancing Under CS works with a crankier budge, spitting double timed hi-hats and slaty AF bass hits like a rogue Itinerant Dubs workout. B-side is where it really boots off with Sonic Guerrilla, an intensifying payload of squat party raggamuffin noise that seethes with pure malific rave intent. Play this at your next rave/rally/protest to increase the pressure.
Big RIYL The Bug, Ossia, DJ Scud
West Coast psychedelic quartet Wooden Shjips release V., their fifth album, inspired by the tumult of the modern world, and the desire to offer a contrasting vision of peace, the band has created a record that filters their trademark hypnotic grooves through an optimistic lens, resulting in music that is bright and vital.
"Wooden Shjips, long-time leaders of the contemporary psychedelic movement, expand their sound with V. The quartet of Omar Ahsanuddin, Dusty Jermier, Nash Whalen and Ripley Johnson augment their already rich sound with laid back, classic summer songs. The songs were written during the summer of 2017 by singer and guitarist Ripley Johnson as an antidote to the pervasive anxiety both political and natural. As Ripley tells it, “We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.
The band’s members collectively share a love of classic rock from the Velvet Underground to Neil Young, as well as more overt love of the San Francisco scene of the 60’s. This commonality in their formative musical years binds them even as they live in different cities. V. finds Wooden Shjips embracing the emotions behind those sounds; peaceful defiance and opposition, while creating a sound and counter narrative to today’s hostilities that is wholly their own. Wooden Shjips has with V. created the most concise, laid back songs of their career. Their music is a balm of sorts, a respite from the insanity that, through its regenerative abilities, empowers continued, calm resistance. A reminder of the simple power of peace and beauty. Wooden Shjips, through V., have demonstrated the power of beauty and the power in creating it even while experiencing overwhelming dread. It is the perfect summer album, brimming with optimism and a peaceful energy, aptly timed for release at the height of spring."
After cocooning himself in modular electronics for the past few years, Surgeon emerges with the strongest batch from his new setup in Luminosity Device. We can’t place our finger exactly on what’s changed, but the nine new tracks on offer feel more organically kinetic, offering something closer to a 1-to-1 representation of the wriggling, eely organisms that have been incubating in his studio for the best part of this decade.
In terms of its hard-edged, stoically funked-up delivery and taste for off-kilter dissonance, the sound of Luminosity Device is still unmistakably Surgeon. But, as the album’s title implies, the sound is now either lit up or glowing differently, and meant to be received by dancers and DJs skin and eyes as much as their ears and inherent ballistic proprioceptions. In a way, he’s better acknowledging the systemic and synaesthetic connections between DJ, soundsystem and us - the dancing, feeling vessels which are ultimately the enduser of his potent sonic substance. And if you want to read into it on another level, the artwork’s clear nod to Bowie’s Changes LP also suggests a shapeshifting new skin to his sound, while the engine effectively remains the same.
If you’re after highlights, run clock the swollen charge of The Primary Clear Light withs its fibrillating trance chorales and prickling exoskeleton, also the wickedly elastic looseness of Courage To Face Up To; the pinging, T++esque hydraulic dynamics of earth-sinking-into-water; and the scaly iridescence of the The Etheric Body - then you’ll know exactly what to do next.
From the vanguard of London underground movements, Endgame presents a grubby mixtape of minor key, baroque drill hooks and ruffed-up dembow drums for Bala Club, the clubnight and label he runs with Kamixlo among others.
Consumed offers a definitive survey of Endgame’s style. Featuring guest appearances by Yayoyanoh, Uli & Blaze Kidd, Organ Tapes, and Rules, it’s a proper family affair and survey of their boundary-reforming scenius.
We direct you to the monstrous EBM dancehall burner Consumed, and the staggered, aggy R&B lash of Reina featuring Rules for two of the biggest bullets, and to the likes of his stealthier Hellhound Heart, the quick-stepping Caravan De La Muerte with Uli and Blaze Kidd, and the stark instrumental Violation for more atmospheric angles in.
Techno/Power Ambient boffin Peder Mannerfelt appears on Cera Khin’s Lazy Tapes for a typically skizzy and brilliant session called The Screws That Hold The World Together.
The follow-up to Cera’s sought-after split mixtapes with Ossia and Christoph De Babalon gives up three original Peder Mannerfelt works oscillating from a mad, raved-up confection of hypnotic vocal loops, clanking drums and burning ‘ardcore strings in Shining Beacons of Light, to go all radiant and blissed out with the spatial-tonal metamorphosis of The Toad, and then diffracting dub chords and frazzled jazz drum breaks in Every Day Had a Number.
We’ll spare you another gush about the quality of Peder’s sound, but suffice it to say this one is heavily satisfying, as to be expected.
Coil’s cultishly acclaimed Worship The Glitch features the group in dialogue with the ghost in the machine, an element they named ELpH and considered as much a part of the group as any physical member. Aye, you’d probably be right in assuming they were taking a lot of drugs during the creation of Worship The Glitch, and consequently the results stand out among their trippiest releases, comparable with the rugged space of early Pan Sonic and slightly later Mika Vainio releases as much as Philip Jeck’s ambient enigmas or a digital update of David Lynch’s Eraserhead OST. If you like this stuff, we highly recommend tracking down ELpH’s pHILM#1 10”, too!
“"Unexplainable" may well be the best explanation for the members of the UK based electronic outfit COIL. Making a radical shift from intentional accessibility, by means of traditional pop songwriting, to abstract happenstance, Coil had entered into a new phase in their career…uncharted waters utilizing what was then the newest computer technology, digital and analog synthesis and the newly formed ideas that something outside of themselves was steering the ship.
During the studio sessions that developed into what would become “Worship the Glitch”, Coil became aware of random compositions emitting from their gear, and were at odds with constant “accidents” that were perpetually plaguing the recordings. The band called these unintentional emissions "ELpH": a conceptual being that is one part physical equipment, one part celestial being… constantly playing the role of trickster, throwing a wrench into Coil’s methodology. Eventually, these accidents and mistakes were embraced by the band, and the process of misusing audio software to create intentional "errors" was adopted as a musical technique. The acceptance of the "mistake", and the use of discovered mistakes as intentional elements slowly became the drive and concept behind the album, thus birthing the title “Worship the Glitch.”
Originally released in 1995 on Coil’s in-house imprint Eskaton, Worship the Glitch was Coil’s first proper album-length attempt at conceptual ambient composition, with a radical focus on chance. Seamless vignettes of shattered electronics (though ebbing softly and in delicate balance with each other) provide an underlying uncertainty and discomfort to the listener.”
Bank Records NYC boss lad Jon Beall aka Entro Senestre, plays Daywalker to Willie Burns’ CF on a schizoid trio of house and knackered boogie cuts.
The pendulous New York house tackle of Wave Force is cut loud and proud with rasping claps and skipping kicks set off with foggy, melancholy pads on the front; Rhythm Wolf on the other hand, sounds like a star collapsing at the centre of the dancefloor, and Between Worlds cuts paradimensional rug on a salty, late night boogie whim.
Shy Layers’ Midnight Marker dances between darkness and light, discreet but assured music aware of an “other” self and the dream world which that vessel visits. Rich in symbolism, appearing as floating, formless reflections and poignant pop statements, musician and visual artist JD Walsh’s sophomore album offers new perceptions of time and transition, the emotional tides of experience, and the joy of the journey.
"Midnight Marker is dedicated in part to understanding these transitions. Like a coming-of-age story in reverse, the album explores the reorganization of time and space against a new now: a today imbued, rather than riddled, with the idiosyncrasies of yesterday. The album is not a wrought reality check, however; instead, a journey through genre, imagery, and meaning bathed in familiarity and ineffable emotion.
Throughout Midnight Marker, Walsh shares the joy of composing within the newfound space of Atlanta having lived in NYC for many moons. Apart from having more space to stretch out and create, Walsh cites modular synthesis as a muse for much of Midnight Marker. Using spontaneous modes to blossom chance beauty in favor of conventional composition, Walsh’s songwriting almost feels happy-go-lucky instead of happenstance. A perfect analog to Walsh’s affable, optimistic spirit beyond his music.
In a similar spirit a spontaneity, Walsh invited vocalists whom he didn’t know personally, but respected their talents, to perform on the album. The “let’s see what happens” expectation set an open tone while recording that reflects in the positively impressionistic lyrics and sense of shared experience that gives Midnight Marker its inviting glow. As with his visual art, Walsh’s sense of scale, texture, and color ensures these contributions and surrounding sounds work communally and considerately.
The slower, linear development of Midnight Marker’s songs suggests an organic sensibility that wasn’t quite as apparent on the patternbased compositions of Walsh’s 2016 self-titled debut album. Walsh cites the cerebral pop of Wally Badarou, Arthur Russell, and Another Green World as influences, but his equal love for Luther Vandross digs deep, reflective milestones throughout Midnight Marker. It’s sophisticated while being soulfully, through not righteously, self-aware.
So, while there is a softness, a shyness to Midnight Marker, there is clarity and wisdom, too. The layers of the past and the experiences which collect together to become age, place, and being are pulled back to reveal a different sense of self. A self able to dance between darkness and light."
Berlin’s Mechatok, one of the most nattered-about artists to emerge in recent years, caters to Lorenzo Senni’s Presto!? label with four effervescent spins on melodic dancehall and PointillisticT.
Practically taking on Lorenzo at his own thing, Mechatok keeps it perfectly icy and low-key with the simmering hustle of 12 Years, then stealthily starts to come up with the layered trance arps and choral voices of Skies Of Tomorrow, until the big room coda of All My Time takes us by the hand to a hard trance wonderland, or something, where the barely-there dynamics of Flee trace out the phosphorescent afterglow of a trillion garys in the fashion of an avian murmuration.
Big RIYL to fans of rkss, Pavel Milyakov, Lorenzo Senni, Kamixlo
Actress & the London Contemporary Orchestra surpass expectations with LAGEOS, an ace full length showcase of their endeavours since collaborating on a live performance at the Barbican for Boiler Room in February 2016.
While we weren’t overly fussed with the album’s lead cut Audio Track 5, the rest of the album turns out to be a captivating and variegated exploration of the ambiguities between classical techniques and the electronic timbres and geometries of Actress’ music. They’re certainly not the first to try and reconcile the schism between acoustic and electronic spheres, but the collected results are some of the strongest we’ve heard beyond, say, Mica Levi, in terms of the modern field.
The LCO work at the limits of their perception and extended techniques to interpret as close as possible the timbres and colours of Actress’ electronics through acoustic means, using everything from plastic bags for white noise hi-hats thru to Blu-Tack to dampen the piano’s upper registers. Those acoustic gestures were then reshaped and arranged by Actress, who took inspiration from Iannis Xenakis’ sound for architecture/architectured sound in context of the Barbican, generating 10 uniquely hazy environments.
Two of the tracks are the LCO’s take on vintage Actress cuts, transposing N.E.W. from R.I.P. into the acoustic dimension with sublime effect, and also reanimating Hubble with wickedly keening strings to put a fresh spin a much loved classic. But our favourite cuts are split between those where they get weirder, abstract, as in the gauzy swells of white noise and underwater strings on Momentum or the spiralling, unmetered madness of Galya Beat, and the infectious smudge of electro pulses and phasing rhythmelodies in Surfer’s Hymn, a mesmerising take on Actress’ Panda Bear remix.
Staggering volley of hyper junglist killers from Sophia Loizou on a new EP of pressurized subs, hoover and percolated vocals taking us somewhere between Lee Gamble’s classic Diversions, Metalheadz Blue Note Sessions and some forward Arca x EVOL collusion. TIPPED!!!
Sophia’s first release since the much acclaimed Singulacra [Kathexis, 2016], Irregular Territories provides a definitive example of Loizou’s sound as it firmly asserts her music in a rarified hauntological rave headspace that meticulously explores an exploded deconstructionist style that she’s developed since her 2014 debut Chrysalis.
With one foot in late ‘90s halcyon daze, and another toeing the future, Sophia combines a lust for the ruffneck with a sharp mind for complex structural integrity and inventive aesthetic. Synching fragmented beats with human gasps, choral synths and richly ephemeral textures, she bridges temporalities and dimensions in a way that recalls an auditory DeepDream composite formed from millions of eyes-shut moments at Metalheadz sessions.
Album opener Loop of Perception quite literally takes off like a jet engine in the rave, while Memories of Angels conjures and sustains a lump-in-throat suspense through unresolved pads and hide ’n seek breakbeat edits, before it all comes together, gelled by wide, pressurized subs in Shadow Box.
The brief vignette of hoover and percolated vocal motifs in Frozen Dust opens up the B-side like some Arca and EVOL collusion, and The Interior Life of Another feels like a jungle inception of 4Hero’s Parallel Universe, leaving the poignant Morphogenesis to sum up the metaphysical flux of her sound in febrile detail.
Eirini Pt1 is a soothing suite of electronics and process instrumentation by Alex Menzies (Alex Smoke)
Written as part of his music fellowship with the NHS, exploring the relationship between health and sound. Lovely beatless gear for fans of Ghost Box, BoC, feeling healthy.