Mango-sweet roots reggae starring the mellifluous tones of Cornell Campbell
...an OG ska and rocksteady artist, here recording later in 1982 on rides played by The Aggravators, produced by Buny Lee and mixed by Prince Jammy at King Tubby’s Studio.
INA-GRM’s Christian Zanési, artistic director behind the invaluable Recollection GRM archive reissues with François Bonnet and Editions Mego’s Peter Rehberg, cues up his own turn on the series with 1st ever download and vinyl editions of Stop! l’horizon ; his absorbing debut of electro-acoustic process for the Parisian institute’s nonpareil label.
Notching up Recollection GRM’s 20th release since the label started with Pierre Schaeffer’s Le Trièdre Fertile  in 2012, the two works Grand Bruit / Stop! l’horizon offer a grippingly fascinating insight to Zanési’s personal oeuvre and, by turns, the ears behind some of the most important, educational electronic music reissue series to emerge in the last decade.
Both works on offer are relatively modern, when compared with much of the Recollection GRM catalogue, which dates back to ‘60s. In that sense, they feel comparatively fresh, with Grand Bruit  recalling a densely layered and techno-psychedelic sci-fi soundtrack, like some extended scene from Alien 3 spent hiding from a xenomorph, while Stop! l’horizon  could just as easily be the accompaniment to a scene from Alien where Ripley gets utterly lost in the maze of air ducts on Nostromo.
Safe to say this is a must-listen for fans of sci-fi sonics and abstract electro-acoustic music. But of course that’s just one glib interpretation of these brilliant works, so we’ve included Zanési’s own notes for disambiguation below.
Grand Bruit (1991), 28’55
The great mobile sound bodies have an ordinary yet amazing ability to place the listener-traveller within, as if he or she was inside a giant double bass, in this case a train stroked by a double bow: the rails and the air. In 1991, I explored this phenomenon during my daily commute from the studio to my home. I used only a 21 minutes recording and treated it as a single sound object. I then processed and enhanced it as a photographer would have done, immersing it in successive 'baths'. The title I chose for this singular form was Grand Bruit.
Stop ! l’horizon (1983), 18’05
Saturday morning, nine o’clock as I reach the studio.
No one here. I only turn on the spotlights as the fluorescent tubes are too noisy. I switch the power on, shut the door, unplug the telephone. I then switch the mixing desk on, which sends an electronic impulse into the amps. The four speakers react individually with a very brief and low hiss. A kind of presence. I haven't listened to anything since the evening before and my ear is refreshed by a night’s sleep.
I feed the original mix into the master recorder and sit down in the centre.
Remote control: PLAY
With the first sound I close my eyes. The studio instantly vanishes. Another place, a much larger space opens up.
I enter it.
I have the very distinct feeling that music is merely a “great noise”, chiselled inside with a thousand details. It opens up like a living organism to let my hearing wander across it. A magnetic relation quickly occur and all the sounds that constitute this great noise draw me towards the East.
I accept this direction.
Later, much later, I reach a distant point on the horizon which pulls me towards it.”
Sniffing at the heels of a smart début 12" for Interstellar Funk's Artificial Dance, Worries, Job Sifre slips into a grimier EBM mode for Amsterdam’s excellent Knekelhuis label.
Charged with a pharmaceutically-enhanced restlessness, the Bestaan 12” goes on darker, tuffer, kinkier than Sifre’s previous 12”, gradually bringing the energies to simmering point with the smudged EBM roil and blunted Dutch vox of Bestaan, then working a wicked ruts of White House White-styled jakbeat in Zodiak and the sourer, metallic recoil of Mars Express, and properly making your body wurk with the pendulous tattoo, Zeno Dicho before sloping off into the darkroom with the slower disco admission, At Least We Try.
CV & JAB is Christina Vantzou and John Also Bennett, two artists that might already be familiar to many of you from their individual work over the years for the Kranky and Spectrum Spools labels. Together they have made this slowly engrossing album for Shelter Press - who else - perhaps one of the most elusive, uncanny and multi-layered “Ambient” albums we’ve heard in what feels like a long time, a worthy follow-up to a frankly astonishing sequence of releases on the label that started with Felicia Atkinson’s modern classic 'Hand In Hand'. If you’re into anything from Chris Watson’s field recordings to Vangelis and Badalamenti at their most romantic and evocative, or even Boards of Canada’s early forays into wildlife documentary pastiche, this one will sooth your mind like nothing else.
The album is a musical interpretation of Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface, a 90m panoramic wall drawing by Zin Taylor (a reproduction of which is included as a fold-out poster that comes with the vinyl edition). Through 10 tracks they render beautiful electro-acoustic meditations on the passage of time, which follows-on from their co-work on Vantzou's No. 3 album.
Vantzou brings a wealth of experience working between auditory and visual mediums to John Also Bennett’s synthesized and acoustic sound sensitivities, which have recently applied to his action in the Forma trio and a compilation of Pauline Anna Strom’s amazing Trans-Millenia Music for RVNG Intl, with a purposefully slow and immersive flow of acoustic piano and flute wrapped up in remarkably plasmic, spatially detailed synth contours.
In 10 parts, through a combination of literal track titles and abstracted allegorical inference, they describe the movement and feelings evinced by Zin Taylor’s massive tableaux, variously transposing his imagery of Cactus with Vent into webs of crystalline harmonics that acquiesce to brownian motion, or, as with the transition of Alfred Hitchcock Haze to Rock House With Door, a vividly synaesthetic transcription of figurative drawing to brooding, doomily Lynchian sound that brings to mind a wealth of captivatingly dank and alien imagery.
The vinyl package includes a miniaturised print of Zin Taylor’s Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface to peruse while you listen, so that you, like Christina and Bennett, can also make your own interpretation, and see how far their sonic translation differs with your own. Or then again, you could ignore it entirely and let yourself drift inside their free-formed dimensions without the cues. Either way, you’re in for a beautiful, open-ended and unpredictable trip.
After being enchanted by Sugai Ken’s UkabazUmorezU LP for RVNG Intl, we play catch up with the Japanese artist’s On The Quakefish album from last year, issued by the excellent Lullabies For Insomniacs label who were also behind that mental Lazslo Hortobaygi reissue.
Here, we’re privy to another array of deliquescent electronics and mercurial hooks, framing Ken’s vision of the Japanese nightscape with absorbingly evocative, impressionistic effect. Based in Kanagawa, Japan, on the edge of the Tokyo megatropolis, Ken draws from his surroundings to paint immersive scenes in succinct, pointillist dashes and vaporous strokes that dissolve into acres of enigmatic, negative space.
Quite boldly, Ken is unafraid to embrace sounds perhaps unfamiliar to the classic Japanese records we’ve heard, or the swell of ambient/new age reissues from that region. He freely vacillates these stranger, abstract sounds with more conventional gestures in a way that adroitly brings his subject - the Japanese night - to life in a way that doesn’t simply soothe the listener, but keeps their ears intrigued, moving around the sound sphere attempting to locate their possible sources.
This effect relates to the Zen tradition of Satori, “imagining circumstances and atmospheres that are so silent, one can hear the sounds of the wind and water streaming”. For us this effect also recalls the studied audness of Rashad Becker’s Traditional Music For Notional Species, as much as Luc Ferrari’s poetic concrète scapes, or a very canny first person computer game or avant-garde film soundtrack; exactly the kind of stuff to bed down with during long, dark winter nights over here.
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!
Killer new tape from Idiosyncratic Estonian artist Mihkel Kleis (Edasi), exploring his funky self as Ratkiller for Jon Rust’s equally wayward Levels label following a dedicated programme on Jon’s much-loved NTS show of the same name.
Keener eared listeners who recognise Kleis’s anomalous black metal output as Edasi from the start of the decade (remember that acetone-stained tape case?!) may have trouble consolidating their memory of that artist with the same guy who released the wigged out side, Meltdown of the Highest Order on Estonia’s Porridge Bullet in 2017, but strangely, and brilliantly enough, it’s one and the same guy - equally adept at conjuring medieval metal fantasy as the severely buckled and hypnotic boogie and exotica on Filtered Relics.
If Fortress Crookedjaw did Star In Their Eyes as Delroy Edwards, it may well sound a bit like this tape, as your man gets properly salty and rugged with a six track cycle of natty, knackered drum machines and synths, sifting an array of pads and choral voices that keen between 2 minute knots of murky library synth nostalgia in Pigfunk, to the alien vignette Filtered Relics via 8-bit EBM in Colourful Guts and Tropical Palms’ lounge music in Gimmick and Clowntown.
This is the kinda gear tapes were made for.
Sound artist Tomoko Sauvage adds the gorgeous, elemental waterbowl recordings of Musique Hydromantique to a wonderful run of 2017 releases on Félicia Atkinson & Bartolomé Sanson's Shelter Press. Quite possibly the most soothing hour of music you'll experience all year
It will become hard to believe once you’ve heard it, but all sounds on the LP were improvised with acoustic technique and recording - meaning no electronics, edits or overdubs - whilst they effectively sound like the microtonal output of some unique, natural synthesiser affected by subtle variables such as temperature, architecture, humidity and human presence. If Philip Corner and Eliane Radigue ever made a record together, it may well sound like Musique Hydromantique.
Using a set-up of hydrophones (underwater mics) and porcelain bowls filled with varying amounts of water, developed by the artist over the better part of this decade, Musique Hydromantique forms a meditative, experimental study in rhythm and pitch which resonates with gamelan and ancient divination techniques as much as it does with minimalist modern electronics. The results are utterly captivating in their fluid timbres and plaintively plangent structure, rendering the elusive, ever-changing and hypnotic phenomena of moving water in three diverse states or sonic sculptures that patently demonstrate a deep, underlying and innate connection between the performer, her medium, and the listener.
Clepsydra - meaning ‘water clock’ - most closely resembles a form of gamelan practice, or, even some form of minimal electronic music. For ten minutes she renders a series of exquisitely variegated sonic glyphs gestured from her struck bowls and hands changing the quantities of water, and by extension, the pitch of each bowl. Tomoko makes a real virtue of everyday sounds, resulting in a time-dilating passage of smooth glissandi, elegantly unshackling our internal clocks from the anticipation of quantised convention.
Fortune Biscuit follows in a very different style. Here, the brownian flow yields a remarkable micro-ecology of sounds that almost mimic animals, cyborganic mechanisms and insect choruses, yet they were entirely generated by a piece of porous terra cotta (biscuit) dipped into water. The scuttling patterns are perhaps understandable in that context, but we’re utterly baffled how they also make those pealing, arcing harmonic partials. In the final, 20 minute piece, Calligraphy those techniques serve to gel and diffuse her water-based sounds in even more bewildering fashion, as she employs the 10 second reverbs of an old textile factory to render her delicate, subaquatic sounds in a play of fractious drips, haptic rubs and their resonant feedback, feeling to melt time entirely and open a tranquil space for divination of your own senses in between those perceptions of time and tone.
This is a record that seems to have been designed to promote ultimate well being, it will completely engulf and subsume your senses and keep your attention rapt from start to finish. And we'd echo Tomoko's request that you listen to it at the start or end of the day for optimal results - far healthier than a spliff or night cap and will set your mood like some kind of ancient tuning fork.
Members of Total Control and Grass Widow converge a mannered, almost eldritch-tinted style of synth-pop crossing lines with Group Rhoda, John Foxx, Carla Dal Forno, HTRK
“THE GREEN CHILD is the long distance musical collaboration of Mikey Young and Raven Mahon, who met in 2013 when their bands, Total Control and Grass Widow played a show in Oakland, California. They started writing songs together in Australia in 2014 and the project has been on a slow burn since. Their self-titled debut album is the culmination of few years of putting ideas together internationally and periodically recording in Mikey's home studio. Some of the lyrical content and the band's name was inspired by Herbert Read's 1935 utopian, communist, sci-fi novel called The Green Child.
With such a choice name, it's no surprise that The Green Child draw their sound from an illusory past as much as they stalk into pastures new. Broadly retro-futuristic in scope, verdant acres of lushly evocative synthesizers and blippy drum machines underpin most of their upbeat yet decidedly uncanny songs. Raven's calmly scenic and measured vocal flits like a will-o'-the-wisp throughout the tracks, proffering a guiding hand as she walks us through the often eerie, electronic concoctions.
'Traveler' opens the album all redolent, beat-minded and labyrinthine. Twisting melody lines swirl and envelop like a sandstorm, whilst Raven coolly projects on a "solitary man" lost to "green oblivion". Similarly, 'Her Majesty II' glistens with its playful yet plaintive vocal and iridescent arpeggios, whilst 'Bertha' slows things down with tumbling chimes and stately use of space.
The Green Child are adept at atmosphere, their songs are refined from gently unfolding ideas that never fail to realise and build to their potential. Tracks like 'Walking Distance' (featuring Al Montfort on saxophone) and 'New Years Eve' are exercises in evolved composition with ideas budding off and blossoming into truly resonant dimensions. The band's cover of 'Marie Elene' (by Keith Pearson) and closing track 'Destroyer' are further crowning achievements, both pieces subtly handled with poise and ample melancholic grandeur. The Green Child fix their sights on the heights they want to reach within their songs and much like the project itself don't want to rush to the finish line. When it becomes more about the unfurling journey, why not take the time to enjoy the trip and burn slower?”
The killer third Errorsmith album contains a selection of live interpretations of classic disco and r'n'b songs. Digitally synthesized, distorted and filtered clubmusic which go far beyond the source material.
More dancefloor compatible than the two previous Errorsmith releases, this album relates closely to stuff from Smith'n'Hack and his MMM project with spar Fiedel, both projects involving Erik integrally. These were live laptop sets like you've never seen, employing a self built digital live tool, a combination of a simple sequencer and a synthesizer. Errorsmith uses this tool to manipulate both rhythms and triggered sounds in realtime.
With a huge degree of freedom playing his instrument, every gig was different. Initially planned as a release of studio versions, Errorsmith decided to keep the raw, live feeling of these amazing recordings.
Mannequin head Alessandro Adriani yields some of his fiercest EBM jackers on this white label for Mannequin.
All three are proper hoofers, rolling out stacked synthlines and rasping drum machines in a Tuning Circuits style with A Man who would come here of his own free will, then on a slightly deeper EBM trance trajectory with he is everything and nothing, and finally in the deathly jack of You never sleep.
Brilliant, mind-bending disco anachronisms from Dutch dude Arp Frique featuring musicians from Surinam and Cape Verde, all recorded in the modern day, although you’d swear it was from the ‘70s!
Arp Frique is Niels Nieuborg from Rotterdam, a key member of the Dutch live music scene who has saved his first recorded works for this session, bringing Americo Brito on vocals for the freaky Afro-disco-dub adventure of Nos Magia, before spinning out like Black Devil Disco Club in Lagos, ’78 with Kamajo, and the Afro-beat burner Ijo Ya, both set off perfectly by vocals from Orlando Julius.
Soichi Terada presents a perfect entry point for any budding J-House connoisseurs with this compilation of slick aces off his Far East Recording label.
Sought-after over there and everywhere else, they amount to a prime seam of early '90s house, with levels of plushness and seductive groove up there with the best stuff coming out of New York, Chicago or Detroit at that time. Best known to collectors and heads willing to shell out for originals, his sound has been championed of late by Ben UFO and Hunee, who're both known to slip his treats into their sets. But now everyone can get on the action thanks to this affordable collection spanning ten Terada originals and collaborations with Manabu Nagayama, plus a couple from his pal Shinichiro Yokota.
The crown prince of Japanese indie-prog-pop yields his Mellow Waves LP on vinyl, his first albumin over a decade, arriving some two years since his Ghost In The Shell Arise O.S.T.
"For the uninitiated, Cornelius is the brainchild of Japanese multi-instrumentalist Keigo Oyamada. A performing musician since his teens, Oyamada created his creative alter-ego (the name is an homage to the Planet of the Apes), in the early 1990s from the ashes of his previous project, Flipper's Guitar.
With the 1997 release of Fantasma, Cornelius gained international recognition for his cut and paste style reminiscent of American counterparts Beck and The Beastie Boys and was released internationally by Matador Records. Being called a "modern day Brian Wilson" for his orchestral-style arrangements and production techniques, Cornelius subsequently became one of the most sought after producer/remixers in the world, working with a wide range of artists including Blur, Beck, Bloc Party, MGMT, and James Brown.
With 2002's Point, Cornelius' music took a quantum shift, going from sampling "found sounds" to looping organic elements and creating lush soundscapes. Using water drops as the rhythmic backbone of "Drop" on his vocoder-infused cover of "Brazil", the album dazed and amazed fans and set the path for the next phase of his career.
2007 brought this philosophy to an even higher level with the release of Sensuous. Cornelius' live shows are known around the world for spectacular visuals (all perfectly synchronized to the performance), custom lighting that doesn't simply augment the performance, but becomes another instrument within it, and a full band of equally talented and diverse players.
The companion piece to the album Sensurround + B Sides, earned the nomination for "Best Surround Sound Album" at the 2009 GRAMMY Awards.
The summer of 2016 saw the release of Fantasma Remastered, on Lefse Records. The package, a 2LP reissue of his classic album, also included 4 additional outtakes and earned Pitchfork's "Best New Reissue".
Cornelius has recorded music for Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, scored the anime mega-film Ghost in the Shell Arise, performed as the backbone of Yoko Ono's reformed Plastic Ono Band, played the Hollywood Bowl with Yellow Magic Orchestra, and co-wrote and produced the Japanese artist salyu x salyu."
In which members of Caribou, Floating Points, Hot Chip, Junior Boys and Simian Mobile Disco team-up as a synth super-group to render two performances of Frank L McCarty’s 1973 graphic score to Tactus Tempus. The percussive side could find some traction on odder ‘floors
“Tactus Tempus is a, lost, graphics based, experimental score by prolific composer Frank McCarty. The piece was originally conceived and performed in 1973 by McCarty's group BIOME on 5 EMS Synthi synthesizers.
By following a set of simple, yet subjective instructions the piece begins as a sparse moire pattern of bursts and tones before evolving in density and intensity as the players symbiotically interact guided only by the illustrated curve found on the score.
This EP features two new performances of the score featuring members of Caribou, Floating Points, Hot Chip, Junior Boys, Simian Mobile Disco and friends. Gathering in a rare moment of collective down time in London in July 2016 the spontaneously formed group performed the piece at Joe Goddard's basement studio. Each participant used a separate synthesizer or modular synthesizer system and while the original slides were projected on the wall, the ensemble recorded two versions of the piece, each one recorded live in one take, lasting 15 minutes. One version is tonal the other on percussive timbre."
A pivotal side in the history of rock and electronic music
Pierre Henry and Michel Colombier’s Les jerks électroniques de la Messe Pour le Temps Present  is an much-mined source of samples form myriad producers, and most famously includes Psyché Rock, a.k.a. the template for the Futurama theme tune. Proto-everything from the last 50 years.
Berlin mainstays, Max Loderbauer (Sun Electric) and Tobias Freund (tobias., Hypnobeat) reprise their exploration of quietly refined electro-acoustic dimensions, variously touching on Satie-esque solo piano works, strung-out desert blues, Lakeland Kirby-like midnight etudes, warbling gamelan-like tones and a spectrum of shadowy integers between them
“A decade has passed since Tobias Freund and Max Loderbauer aka Non Standard Institute (NSI) released their enigmatic collection of ‘non-standards’. Playing with mystery is the name of the game here as well. The new CD, entitled with the code ‘5863′, is the result of collecting creative moments over years and stringing together twenty short pieces that jointly amount to almost an hour of playtime.
Meditative, reflective, introspective, but also occasionally exhilarated… All these descriptions come to mind. But there’s more to the story line which emerges in patient increments as the album unfolds. Music comes mostly in the form of sparse but evocative piano improvisations, layering personal expression and subtle references anchored within the depth of the musicians’ experience. As the cryptic title suggests, the scope of examined experience can be symbolized through dates or years. But what counts for much more here is the sonic narrative itself with all its openness to interpretation. Some of these concise tracks can swiftly transport the listener to iconic harmonies of other musical contexts as they seamlessly relink the piano avant-gardism of Erik Satie with echoes of modern psychedelia and futuristic soundtracks.
As a whole, however, the minimal instrumentalism of NSI is as much about the notes and emotions that punctuate the electronic soundscapes generated by Tobias’ unerring use of studio as it is about the space created between them.”
Superb debut album by one of the UK’s more distinctive new pop voices and producers. After cutting her teeth with idiosyncratic releases on No Pain In Pop and Kassem Mosse’s Ominira, Throwing Shade adopts her birth name, Nabihah Iqbal for a more personalised set of songs, adapting influence from ’80s goth, Egyptian mythology, and Teutonic psychedelia to realise a striking, unexpected sound, especially when judged against her early work.
Weighing Of The Heart finds Nabihah firming up and expanding upon her identity as a female British Asian artist in a way that doesn’t play into cliché or expectations. There’s no discernible sonic correlation between her heritage and the music, but that’s most likely symptomatic of her London environment more than anything else. Immersed in the great NTS radio station and busy with myriad art and film projects, her sound is better considered in terms of a sense of pop-wise unity and appeal, as part of a greater sum than herself.
Her vocals alternately lend themselves to comparison as much with The Streets as Teresa Winter, whilst the gated ‘80s snares are a common hinge between stripes of synth-pop, rare groove and proto house, essentially forming a mesh of dream-pop that neatly and knowingly exists within and outside of its temporal context. From our perspective, it sounds like a very London album, and maybe that’s the point; that London is a world or identity unto itself, inextricable from her own.
Avant-garde Japanese vocalist Phew follows her sublime Light Sleep for Mesh Key with this album of purely vocal works combining extended vocal technique with Dadaist sound poetry and complex, alien electronic processing.
Voice Hardcore a deeply strange and surreal listening experience, which flits a fine line between real, natural recordings and their warped reflections, gauging a wide space for free expression and, by turns, interpretation, which requires no understanding of the Japanese language in order to grasp its otherworldly beauty.
RIYL Kurt Schwitters, Toru Takemitsu, Joan La Barbara.
The 15th and possibly best known title in Moondog’s legendary catalogue
The Story Of Moondog  is a true evergreen from the fringes of experimental, jazz and big band paradigms. Andy Warhol’s mum, Julia Warhola, did the calligraphy on the cover - Andy took credit for design - assuring its place in the pantheon of influential avant-garde classics.
Heavyweight roots reggae and dancehall dub vibes, now available to legitimately download for the 1st time. Recorded and mixed between Channel One, Joe Gibbs Studio and King Tubby’s.
Stone cold aces, especially Prince Hammer’s shuddering King Selassie M.16.
Nope, not the ‘90s house act, but rather Philadelphia’s original ‘80s synth trio, The Nightcrawlers, are subject of this revelatory compendium from Mexican Summer’s Anthology Recordings. Spanning 14 works in just over 2.5 hours, The Biophonic Boombox Recordings form a gateway to distant, lo-fi but fantastical dimensions
“Deep, diverse, and unheralded, the Philadelphia ambient electronic music scene of the 1980s is explored with The Nightcrawlers’ The Biophonic Boombox Recordings, an expansive archival collection documenting the hard-knuckled kosmische synthesizer trio’s home recordings self-released and distributed over 35 cassettes between 1980 and 1991.
Featuring the farthest reaching spacescapes of those cassette releases – improvised straight into the mic of a JVC Biphonic Boombox – none of these performances have been released beyond the original format, and essentially went out of print when Nightcrawler Peter D. Gulch got tired of dubbing them to blank tapes to mail-order through his Synkronos label and sell at live shows. Restored and recalibrated from the original cassettes, The Nightcrawlers’ music has never sounded better or so readily accessible.”
Getting in there just as his new album proper drops, Ben Frost presents his tense soundtrack to Super Dark Times, a new flick directed by Kevin Phillips and hailed as “an unnerving cross between ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘Donnie Darko’” by IndieWire.
Like his work on Fortitude, and his acclaimed A U R O R A album, the Australian composer diffuses scarily close strings thru diaphanous soundscapes to mirror both the film’s imagery and his own internal landscapes.
More specifically, Frost picked a palette of sounds appropriate to the film’s setting in ‘90s upstate New York, generating a temporally sensitive tension that drew on his formative experiences with digital delays, Boss Metal Zone distortion pedals and Peavey Amps that was also pretty ubiquitous to that era.
The results sound like the downstrokes of NIN, threaded with thwarted techno impulses and rent with a gripping sense of digital awe.
In pursuit of the ambient zeitgeist, Vakula presents a suite of metaphysical, esoteric research in Metaphors via his Leleka label.
Arriving months after release of Techno Game for Arma Recordings, Vakula’s scope is dilated to encompass a world of influences from Soviet electronics, Ukrainian folk melodies and traces of Detroit techno, amounting to a hypnotically layered and vertically inclined album drvien by an underlying, kinetic pulse that keeps it hovering between the armchair and the dancefloor of the imagination.
Karen Gwyer returns with 'Rembo', her first full LP for Don't Be Afraid - a propulsive, functional affair dotted with colour and narrative, a record that calls firmly to the night...
"Live performance is where Gwyer's ideas come into gradual but vivid fruition, with tracks often evolving over "five or six shows" before reaching the studio. Throughout 'Rembo', dozens of shows and endless stolen studio hours have informed 38 minutes of uncompromising body music.
"What I'm doing is trying to challenge a certain way of thinking", she explains. "I feel like, without it being said, I get treated as a warm up act for DJs. And I also feel like when I go and play, I want to disprove that notion. I'm standing there for an hour, and I don't necessarily know what's going to happen. I have a loose idea, but I'm definitely working the crowd. I'd like people to shift their thinking in regards to what producers are doing, and to acknowledge the fact that there's a lot of decision making happening on a second-by-second basis, and a lot of it is improvisational."
Throughout her youth in Michigan, with Detroit on the nearby horizon, the city's time-honoured musical heritage slowly sank under Gwyer's skin. First through public radio, late night transmissions and endless cassette recordings, then on the life-changing local rave scene.
"Before the internet came along, you were listening to the radio, and you knew who the DJ was, but you had no earthly idea who the records were by", recalls Gwyer. "You just listened to the music, and you didn't listen to the people. And because you didn't ponder their personalities, you weren't engaged in the process. And I loved it, it was pivotal to me. I still have records on tape, and I have no idea who made them. I lie awake at night thinking about how am I ever going to find out what that track is? I have a snippet of it in my mind, but how will I ever know?"
'Rembo' then, is in some way a tribute to those transformative moments caught on tape. And while the pressures of raising a young family means that Gwyer has fresh pairs of young ears to potentially inspire, instead, this is a record that calls firmly to the night; an album to transport both artist and listener to dark, sweaty rooms, to shared escapism and unexpected moments of electronic transcendence..."
Abyss X follows a notable turn for Halcyon Veil with her steeply enigmatic début of mystic composition for Aïsha Devi’s Danse Noire
“Taking its title from a Minoan legend that deals with rage, greed and destruction, the latest release from Abyss X expands and reconstructs conceptions of aural space and time. Out on Danse Noire, Pleasures of the Bull finds the multi-disciplinary artist and producer flirting with the sounds of hard jazz while mystifying the parameters of experimental music across several distinct movements, thus allowing the listener to break free from their sonic principles.
Intoxicating, ambient textures mesh with Abyss X’s own expressive vocals, as well as the sounds of the traditional Cretan lyra, played by Maria Skoula. Her sound modification creates a collage of temporalities – allow yourself to move outside linear dimensions, and her to confide in you. Prog rock guitar lines twist stolidly beneath warped vocal samples, and the timbre of the bowed lyra permeates the atmosphere in a thick, suffocating haze.
As the listener travels through space and time, so too does the artist. Abyss X delves into the fullness of her craft, drawing from her background in theater and performance, in addition to the frenzied energy of her live shows as a musician. The music throbs with a frantic yet unmistakably deliberate drama. Pleasures of the Bull feels like a gentle punch in the gut; a compelling auditory performance and a bold exploration of the narrative album format.”
Enchanting introduction to the exquisite, smoky melancholy of a Japanese jazz and blues singer/songwriter/composer who collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto and penned some 30 solo albums, yet is scarcely known in the West.
Born in 1942 in a small, northern Japanese fishing village, Maki grew up during the era of American occupation and cultural imperialism, eventually moving to Tokyo and nurturing a passion for the records of Billie Holliday and Mahalia Jackson, which would lead her to perform on US military bases and cabarets and subsequently cover many US traditional folk and blues for the Japanese market.
With her distinctive voice she's seemingly possessed by the spirit of her heroes - Billie, Nina, Mahlia among them - and apparently had the mysterious countenance to match her unusual aesthetic.
We'll have to take that for granted from Hitoshi Jin Tamura's photos and Alan Cummings' enlightening liner notes, but Maki's music remains the best gauge of her character, taking in big band experiments along with an amazing, sitar-lead psych-out, plus runs into modal, spiritual jazz and the kind of lounge styles that prompt imagery of Bill Murray or some lonely salaryman clutching a single malt in the shadows of a Tokyo bar.
Metrist does his salty abstract techno thing for Where To Now?
Packing some cranky swang into the discombobulated techknots of An Soaep, coming like an itchy garage bog monster with On Golden Seize, and progressively decimating the groove in Pantomimer Tongue and the barely-standing Caccel The Horze.
Burial’s sophomore LP, originally issued in 2007 only a year after his pivotal debut, is another masterpiece of urban UK composition and innovative imagineering whose sense of melancholic space, pop-wise dexterity and dancefloor yearn has rarely been explored or surpassed since its release.
Where its predecessor was starkly paranoid, mostly instrumental, Untrue was gilded with gorgeous, cut-up R&B and UKG vox, and interspersed with segments of nocturnal reverie that played out like the OST for a yung UK romance that replaced posh, gurning actors with real life road characters and focussed on the spaces between - between the club and home; between night and day; masculine and feminine; waking life and dream life; Maccy D’s and alley doorways; being high AF and coming down.
It was and still is Burial’s love note to UKG and R&G, and by turns gave context and validated those genres for a lot of listeners who arguably wouldn’t have touched that sound, or at least dismissed it as pop pap or with some snide, racist undertone before Burial’s revivalist instincts hybridised it with trip hop and snarling D&B memes.
More positively, however, depending on which way you look at it, this album also opened the endorphin floodgates for a whole raft of f****e garage producers to get in touch with their feminine side, especially in contrast to prevailing, laddish dubstep rave trends, and, since that sound has faded away, it’s not hard to hear this album’s influence in the vocal processing of Mssingno, in the uneven, off-kilter swing and parry of Zomby, the patch-worked constructions of Jamie xx or Evian Christ, or in Deadboy and Murlo’s more boundary-pushing creations.
As with any album that gets a lot of attention beyond its putative scene, Untrue was an unintended red rag to the cynics and rockists - and even garage purists - but for almost anyone who recognises and appreciates that more modest, aching sort of electronic, UK street rave soul, it remains a really transcendent album that still grips like few others.
Celldöd keeps it ice cold but sweaty with a slamming EBM session for Rivet’s Kess Kill label.
Clearly skooled on the classixxx and fuelled by deadly dancefloor intent, Kess07 hits the ‘floor jacking with his throbbing bomb Flodvüg, whereas Dom Kommer Aldrig is slower, swaggering and blunt in its delivery.
Our favourite however is the beastly Inom Dig with its tinnitus-inducing intro giving way to a dastardly, wall-bucking rhythm that doesn’t let go, before Alltid Vi clocks out on a zig-zagging kerb crawler tip.
A late pinnacle of the Drexciyan oeuvre, Storm 2 aka Transllusion's 'The Opening of the Cerebral Gate' is availed as an expanded 3LP pressing to include (almost) all the tracks on the CD version, compared to the original 2LP
It's all remarkably bass-heavy, even saturated, compared with a lot of other Drexciyan workouts, resulting some of their most ruggedly stripped down electro-techno functions ranging from the pounding might of 'Transmission Of Life' to the militant march of 'War Of The Clones' and the funked come-on, 'Do You Want To Get Down'. On the other hand, it also features stacks of gorgeous Drexciyan melodies in the aquatic flux of 'Cluben In Guyana' and the twinkling keys of 'Unordinary Reality', and to darkest effect on 'Crossing into the Mental Astroplane'.
Highly recommended to all aquanauts.
Understandably regarded as thee holy grail of Italian Minimalism, Giusto Pio’s totally sublime debut LP Motore Immobile (1979) starts a very necessary new life cycle, licensed and pressed on vinyl by new label Soave for the first time in nearly 40 years.
Produced by Pio’s then student, soon collaborator and massive Italian pop composer, Franco Battiato, the strikingly radiant masterwork Motore Immobile forms an impeccable distillation of what connected and separated Italian Minimalism from its American counterpart - namely an intimate sense of restraint, sound sensitivity and quiet ecstasy, as opposed to more grandiose landscapes or swelling communal gestures of the heavyweights from the west such as Riley, Glass or Reich.
Coming from a country of steeply progressive yet sometimes conservative musical traditions, Motore Immobile was realised and originally appeared amid an influx of innovative, spiritualised domestic recordings which took lessons from their American counterparts and mixed them with a typically hi-fidelity approach to recording and production which, by the late ‘70s, had made Italian studios famed as the natural choice for post-production on some of the biggest rock and pop recordings ever made.
It is somewhere between these points that we can locate the enigma of Motore Immobile’s tremulous, spectral beauty. Adapting the exploratory and perfectionist techniques of major studios, experimental ensembles and the classical avant-garde, Pio and Battiato imperceptibly, tactfully separate sounds from their sources, effectively removing the centre of attention out into ostensibly simple drones which shimmer with an incredible richness of harmonic timbral detail, mingling in weightless dimensions with dreamlike vocals and hot streaks of violin that linger like shooting stars on a completely still, balmy night in the 17 minute title piece, whilst the proceeding Ananta follows that curve even more gradually on a bed of weightless, floating organ tones dusted with precise and spine-tingling flurries of keys.
This is music that suggests transcendence in the most unhurried, timeless manner; a centre-less sound that gently encompasses and encourages the listener to find their personal locus thru the process of infinite diffusion, or travelling without moving. There’s no higher praise we can give than to say it’s music best consumed with eyes shut for optimal results and back-of-eyelid geometric projections.
It's quite uncanny that Pio (b. 1926) passed this mortal coil on February 12th, 2017, only weeks before this reissue now makes its overdue return from obscurity and serves to assuredly place him within the Classical Minimalist firmament.
From lesser-travelled tributaries of American soul and disco comes the Bay Area’s T.J. Hustler Metaphysical Synthesised Orchestra and their Age of Individualism , which has been mercifully and legitimately reissued on vinyl for first time by Companion Records - mercifully because OG copies are known to trade for £1500!
Recut from a pristine copy lent to the label by Josh Davis (DJ Shadow, we presume?), the results were certainly worth the effort, sounding seemingly dialled in from some parallel disco universe, whites actually just the imagination of Tim S. Jones a.k.a. Preacher man and T.J. Hustler.
They’re pacy, extended disco burners in a very stripped down but drivingly hypnotic and colourful style, each peppered with T.J.’s vocals, which range from speaking voice to call-and-response with himself in lower and higher pitched voices, spelling out his ideas about universal consciousness, sex, and other such esoteric notions.
As a bonus, they’re all long enough for a DJ’s bog break, and the 45rpm plate also sounds great at 33rpm! We’d love to imagine that T.J. and Charanjit Singh were telepathic pals but told nobody.
American painter and musician Tor Lundvall presents a time-stopping new album on NYC’s Dais Records.
Just as the sublime lead single Quiet Rooms promised, the full album is a beautifully measured dream sequence of ambient electronics, finding the artist tentatively balancing pastoral atmospheric themes with more introspective, cold and lonely feels, weaving sparingly used vocals into somnambulant scenes fringed with a sort of gothic air of decadence/despair.
It reminds us of tonnes of stuff ranging from Signer to Deepchord’s Coldest Season thru to Closer Musik, HTRK, Hood or Alessandro Cortini - basically really lovely ambient electronica with poised, etheric vocals.
Kinda hard to ignore this one.
NYC minimalist returns to Spekk with ‘Fallen’ some 14 years after he provided the label with its 1st release, ‘January’. Despite the time difference, the two albums share a lot in common...
“When I sit down to write an album I will usually come up with a technical and compositional concept to help focus my writing. Whether it is a restricted palette of instruments or a specific way of approaching the writing, this practice has helped me explore different processes and helps keep the album focused. My previous album Somi was such an album. Hyper-focused and very deliberate in creation. However, there are times where I want to be more relaxed and just write what comes freely. In a way Fallen is such an album.
When I began writing it the only strong rule I put on myself is that it would be my first album centered around the piano as the main instrument. There were times when I wanted Fallen to be an album for solo piano but the more I pushed and explored the more I was drawn to accompanying the piano with modular and Moog synthesizers, tape machines and the occasional guitar. Fallen was supposed to be, after all, a relaxed album, one that would come quickly, off-the-cuff, and with little regard to any rules or restrictions. It, however, ended up being one of the longest albums for me to create; well over a year and a half, as it had coincided with a particularly dark and difficult time in my personal life.
As the album progressed the thoughts of a freer, solo-piano sound quickly faded as layers of disintegration and noise came to the foreground. Half-broken tape machines and plenty of ghostly echoes helped hide the honesty of the piano as I hid myself, and my music, away under the cover of abstraction. In a way I feel that Fallen is most like my album Northern. One that was intended to be more free-spirited but became very much about a particular place and time.”
Innovative approach and method generates naturally distinctive and driving electro-acoustic results in the début solo album by Jason Sharp - a regular collaborator and member of the scene surrounding Montreal’s Constellation. Imagine Colin Stetson recording for Cologne’s Magazine label and you’ve nearly got the measure of this one
“This music was performed wearing a customized heart monitor providing a single pulse to trigger analogue drums, sine wave patterns, controlled feedback, and synthesizers in real time. All electronic rhythmic material stems from this source…
Jason Sharp has emerged as one of Canada's most fascinating New Music composers in recent years. From his roots as a saxophonist in Montréal's fertile jazz and improv scene, Sharp developed as a soloist with drone-based durational music, circular breathing, and an increasing exploration of the body and technology.
His impressive 2016 debut A Boat Upon Its Blood was a molten and musically diverse work of modern composition inspired by a Robert Creeley poem, distinguished by Sharp’s use of a heart monitor and amplified breath to trigger various rhythmic and textural electronic elements – alongside his own saxophone playing and contributions from guest players on violin and lap steel guitar.
Stand Above The Streams expands on this approach, with Sharp having further developed his custom Midi and synthesis apparatuses, and most notably collaborating on these compositions with Adam Basanta, whose renowned practice in sound art, sound installation and autonomous sound systems makes for impressively immersive, layered and complex new work.
All sound sources on Stand Above The Streams originate with Sharp (with the exception of violin from the album’s co-producer and mixing engineer Jesse Zubot on one song): bass and baritone saxophones, heartbeat, pulse, and breathing are played/processed in real time through Sharp's own signal-bending synthesis rig and through Basanta’s bespoke 'controlled feedback' amplification system. The album's rhythms are generated wholly from Sharp's similarly controlled breathing and heart rate. The results are utterly gripping, with melodic and micro-tonal elements flowing amidst waves of atmospheric pink and brown noise, low-end modulation and calibrated distortion.
Through four parts each running in the 10-minute range, Stand Above The Streams conjures an evocative, abstracted survey of organic nature, perhaps from on high, like a satellite scanning and processing data across diverse and slowly changing landscapes. The album also sits very comfortably alongside the recent resurgence in synth-based soundtrack music (John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream et al) – though as alien as it can sometimes sound, there is an unmistakable human element and underlying warmth that courses through the tensile strength of this music, electrifying it with the viscera of the body.”
One of The Helen Scarsdale Agency’s most prized units, Fossil Aerosol Mining Project vent a cryptically elusive, hauntological suite of mid-fi compositions working on the cusp of ambient noise and avant-garde electronics in a way that should resonate with fans of the recent Pendant album on West Mineral Ltd, the romance of William Basinski’s knackered loops, or the shoegazing tinder of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. We warmly recommend shutting your eyes and wrapping yourself up this one for a properly gauzy and deeply synaesthetically heightened trip.
“The Fossil Aerosol Mining Project continues their post-industrial dialectics through their "songs of enhanced decay and faked resurrection." This cryptic ensemble from the American Midwest has been quietly producing such works since the '80s, with a deep catalogue highlighting a uniform brilliance in the exquisite reconstruction of exhumed cassette tapes and moldering 35mm film stock.
On August 53rd, Fossil Aerosol has collaged their reclamations of found sounds into an inquisitive, dynamic cinema of the ear. The tape loops and recombinant samples create elliptical orbits and vertiginous spirals. Down-pitched, disquieting rumbles form the foundations for much of Fossil Aerosol’s compositions, which mutate the fractured, crumbled, and mildewed artifacts into patterned yet shifting phrases. The result seems like hybrid, time-compressed mimicry of the evolution of our media-driven language.
The official statement from the ensemble reads as such:
"This album, arranged specifically for Helen Scarsdale, might be considered a prequel to The Day 1982 Contaminated 1971, featuring the damaged remains of certain pop culture pleasantries in a less decomposed state than found on the previous vinyl release. August 53rd, a month extended to accommodate a changing climate, predates the day 1982 contaminated 1971."
Such inquiries characterize the many non/fictions that contextualize the work of Fossil Aerosol. Through the process of decoding lost melodies and dialog of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, Fossil Aerosol intentionally or unintentionally deflates the vanity of consumerism while at the same time providing an archaeological view of contemporary culture.
These conceptual frameworks would be meaningless if Fossil Aerosol did not deliver on the aesthetics. And deliver the Project most certainly does. August 53rd harbors the rich enigmas of distressed sound collages found in the work of likeminded artists such as Philip Jeck, Felicia Atkinson, and of course Fossil Aerosol’s occasional collaborators :zoviet*france:.”
Japan’s fearless multi-instrumentalist and cultural provocateur Keiji Haino has made a career out of his free-form musical improvisations and diverse collaborations. Whether deconstructing American blues to a few rogue notes hanging across chasms of empty space in his solo endeavors, sparring with the nebulous fringes of psychedelia in Fushitsusha, or teaming up with musicians like Faust, Boris, Jim O’Rourke, Stephen O’Malley, John Zorn, and Peter Brötzmann for fleeting aural experiments. Haino’s work is never pre-planned or structured, but rather a completely spontaneous exploration of chemistry, texture, and dynamics.
"SUMAC’s tenure is much younger than Haino’s, though guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner has covered a similarly large swath of musical territory across numerous projects and collaborations, from the sedated drones of recent projects with Daniel Menche and William Fowler Collins to the modern compositions of Mamiffer and all the way back to the restless evolutions of post-metal stalwarts ISIS. With his cohorts Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists, Erosion) on drums and Brian Cook (Russian Circles) on bass, Turner has dissolved the rigid forms of heavy music, searching for a balance between disciplined precision and unhinged musical barbarism, crafting music that vacillates between meticulously detailed instrumentation and uninhibited forays into oblique abstraction.
For American Dollar Bill - Keep Facing Sideways, You're Too Hideous To Look At Face On, Keiji Haino and SUMAC met up in Tokyo’s Goksound recording studio to track a series of unrehearsed, completely non-premeditated sessions. Captured across several reels of tape, the collaboration harnessed Haino’s tension-inducing use of empty space on songs like “I’m over 137% a love junkie, and it’s still not enough” while pushing SUMAC’s dissident metal vocabulary on “What have I done (I was reeling in something white...)”. Throughout the course of its hour-plus length, American Dollar Bill pushes and pulls at the strictures of metal and bends the stylistic formalities of improvised music to create a sonic purge unencumbered by convention.”
Even by Príncipe’s ridiculously high standards, this is jaw-droppingly good, fierce but soulful hybrids of kuduro with R&B, trance-techno, drill and jump-up jungle, in our view some of the most thrilling music made by anyone in the world right now...
Príncipe kick off 2018 in a big way with the remarkable début by P. (as in ‘Producer’) Adrix; a 22 year old artist originally from Lisbon, now based in Manchester, who is equally adept at crafting full tilt, teched-out bangers as effervescent electronic soul music. His first release, Álbum Desconhecido is a supreme example of the innovative scenius in Angolan-Portuguese music, ratcheting the thrilling dynamics of Lisbon’s ghetto bass sound with deadly edits and pressure highly compatible with the UK’s jump-up jungle, drill or soca grime vibes.
Building on ground-breaking work forwarded by producer/DJs Marfox, Nervoso, Nídia and Lycox in recent years, Álbum Desconhecido is jaw-droppingly fresh, delivered in 9 short sharp stings between the seasick drill of Zelda Shyt and the laser-guided trance lixx of Viva La Raça, trading in a mix of virulent, adrenalised energy and soulful rollige that sets fire to any ‘floor.
It’s clear and present in the turbulent, rug-pulling subs and febrile polyrhythms of Bola De Cristal, and to blinding degrees in the high-wire tension and bone-freezing edits of 6.6.6, whereas the zipping flutes of Ovni bind roots and future with breathtaking, needlepoint incision, leaving Sonhos to provide a dead sweet, even romantic contrast with the melancholic meditation of Tejo for fine measure.
It's a boldly expressive and immediately effective sound that drives listeners to a rare but timeless sort of rave ecstasy - thrillingly synthetic and infused with an unmistakeable lust for the dance. In the right hands, it’s dangerous stuff.
You’ve been warned!
DAF go balls-to-the-wall on their Conny Plank-produced Gold Und LIebe
Feat 10 strapping tunes including hi-velocity highlights in the hyper rock ’n roll swagger of Absolute Körperkontrolle and the earlier-written zinger Werschwend Deine Jugend, plus a popcorn-like charmer Liebe Auf Den Ersten Blick.
A massive influence on everyone from Powell to Helena Hauff, DAF are among the most important electronic artists of the ‘80s and a massive influence on electronic dance music ever since.
Kouhei Matsunaga swings the dance ass-first with the quantum funk of Parallel Tempo for excellent, emergent Swiss/Italian label -OUS.
Furthering his hot streak of releases that takes in Hallucinogenic Doom Steppy Verbs  for Diagonal, thru his Sparrow’s Garden for L.I.E.S., and the Exit Entrance LP for DFA in 2017, the Japanese producer/illustrator renders five bendy aces between the zig-zagging, pendulous form of Parallel Displacement, a masterful mutation of EBM and 2-step in Blue and Purple Horses, and the colourful, crisply weightless swingers dynamics of Universal Gesture.
“NHK yx Koyxen walks at any speed and on any surface he desires to trance-scend. His Parallel Tempo EP takes a mindful plunge into layers of rigorously murmuring gestures. Speed is relative to size. As they are streched and bent, the planes engage in parallel movement. this is an exploded drawing, unlocked from time.
The Japanese artist and producer NHK yx Koyxen has been unveiling his unique vocabulary through a continuous stream of sound for many years. Performing on electronic music's timeless DNA, he offers those who step in a resonating space, in which loose objects are bound to embrace each other.
Afro-Cubist house prophet Jamal Moss dons his Hieroglyphic Being robes for the most varied, layered and timbrally rich solo mission in his cosmic musical arc thus far. Think Sun Ra, Thelonious Monk, The Weather Report, Larry Heard, Marshall Allen, Pekka Airaksinen, Adonis, Miles Davis, Armando Gallop, Jon Hassell - but most of all think of deep Black musics and Chi house as a portal to other dimensions.
Armed to the gills and wingtips with the plushest hardware line-up we’ve seen on a Jamal Moss recording - organic flutes, piano, guitar, drums, alto sax, Hammond organ, Korg Triton, Linn drum, Korg DDD-1, DR 5 drums, Casio RZ1, Ensoniq Mirage Firelight CMI Series III, Moog Mother 32, Allen & Heath Zed 24 mixer - it’s perhaps understandable that the results feel more lustrous and grand than his usual, stripped and tracky results, seemingly pulling some influence from recent years work with instrumentalists such as Sarathy Korwar, Shabaka Hutchings, Orphhy Richardson and more.
In a subliminal and physical elevation and expansion of styles, the album shapeshifts thru 9 stages variously wrestling with and dancing around the ‘floor, making for one of the first Jamal Moss albums we’d genuinely say sounds as great on headphones, walking around absorbing sights, as it does on home stereos or jabbing you to dance.
Moor Mother and DJ Haram roll their first 700 Bliss release into play with the ticking bombs of Spa 700 for Rabit’s Halcyon Veil - following up the label’s mighty Les Fleurs Du Mal LP and MHYSA’s widely acclaimed fantasii album late last year.
Both graduates of the Philadelphia house party scene, Moor Mother and Haram operate on a clearly intuitive and woke level, matching aggressive but agile lyrics and delivery with taut but dextrous fusions of Arabic drums and pumping Jersey bass. After débuting their 700 Bliss alias on the track 29th from Moor Mother’s The Motionless Present , the YY + YY pairing question club music’s fringes with the kind of razor sharp insight and direct yet freaky effect that we’ve come to expect from a Halcyon veil release.
Across the EP strings and drums intersect Moor Mother’s distinctive, urgent vocals and lean jabbing electronic production in a manner ripe for avant clubs, turning up strong highlights in their straight winner Ring The Alarm with its choppy Timbaland-meets-Mutamassik flex, and with a cold militancy on Scully, whilst Cosmic Slop is perhaps the most powerful example of their seething pressure.
Rezzett own that fuzzy mid-fi electronic sound on a cracking eponymous début album, landing nearly 5 years on from their self-titled EP, also issued on Will Bankhead’s TTT label.
In possession of a sound that feels like exotic birds nesting a vintage studio inside your ear, Rezzett, along with the likes of Jamal Moss, Actress, Terekke and Huerco S., have been responsible for redressing the fidelity of dance music with fairly radical yet subtle incision and insight over the best part of this decade.
Thru various process of attrition, they've made a virtue of purposefully muddy and unclear resolution, embracing and fetishising the infidelities of analog hardware noise for a sort of shabby chic appeal that lends itself to closer attention in headphones as well as a sort of psychedelic friction on the ‘floor.
It’s perhaps fair to say that Rezzett have really come to define that sound at its murkiest, most romantic, and diverse, pulling from house, jungle, garage and ambient noise paradigms to forge something viscerally affective and memorably their own, as experienced between the mottled VHS memory-bank shakes of Hala, in the squirming, sore but lush Sexzzy Creep, and the salty angels tears of Yunus in Ekstasi, with the rusty grime and jungle shanks of Gremlinz and Worst Ever Contender lending a cranky, rinsed out finale.
Fred Welton Walmsley III (Lee Bannon) completes his esoteric ambient metamorphosis with Dedekind Cut’s melancholic Tahoe album for arch American electronic drifters, Kranky Records - home to some of the some of the finest atmospheric ambient works of recent decades by Stars of The Lid, Loscil, Tim Hecker.
In key with Kranky’s heritage, Dedekind Cut very neatly plays to the label aesthetic on Tahoe with a widescreen suite of slow, windswept synths layered into expansive harmonics evoking cinematic and psychedelic sensations. They range from pop-ambient pockets of bittersweetness to more brooding tracts of durational immersion, with each connected by an overarching feeling of sadness or unresolved strife.
It’s all very much what you’d expect from a Kranky release, until you start paying closer attention. Where Kranky’s chorus of ambient angels have often spent decades on their craft, developing personalised timbral sensitivities and sound identities, the shapeshifting Dedekind Cut’s newness to this particular field is betrayed by the more elusive reach of his soundsphere, but the artist makes up for a lack of tonal richness by conveying his intent more directly thru the arrangement and overall feeling, or soul connoted by his compositions.
The avant-garde answer to a collab between Martine McCutcheon, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jools Holland, anyone?
“Privately pressed to LP in 1978 under the name J. Jasmine and made especially for the Ann Arbor Film Festival, with artistic collaboration from the festival’s founder and Once Group artist, George Manupelli, My New Music is the debut album by Jacqueline Humbert and David Rosenboom. Featuring a cast of Mills College personalities like David Behrman and Sam Ashley on backup vocal duties, this song cycle is at every turn boundary-pushing and gender-busting, yet still hilarious, sweet, and genuine, all delivered in a post-genre, art-song, cabaret musical style that happens to boast some serious avant-garde chops, courtesy of Rosenboom. If it weren’t so spot on, you’d swear it was a guilty pleasure.
As J. Jasmine writes, My New Music is a collection of personal stories and private desires, exposed, articulated, performed and dedicated to the hope that one person's fantasies can contribute to another person's freedom. Get lost in J. Jasmine’s world for a little long while, and be free.”
The notion of rhythm and sound takes on mutant new meanings at the hands of meter-tweaking mavericks, YoshimiO (Boredoms/OOIOO), Susie Ibarra, and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe.
‘Flower of Sulphur’ finds the trio working together for the first time after meeting in various other configurations, with results that loosely fall under the improvised free jazz banner, but hold back from the brink by way of an underlying, rolling funk logic and a defined clarity of rhythmelodic texture, rather than the expressive mayhem ‘free jazz’ suggests. Think falling down a tessellating MC Escher staircase for an hour…
“Susie explains the idea: "We had all performed in different configurations before but never together as a trio. I think actually I have met each YoshimiO and Robert at different times when collaborating on larger works with Tarek Atoui. But we had not performed together as trio. I was very happy with the prospect to play a trio concert, as I could imagine the sonic palette could be very interesting, being that we each come from different aesthetic backgrounds but enjoy crossing into various sonic territories.”
The resulting recording of their collaboration, Flower of Sulphur, is a transfixing piece of continuous improvisational work which explores the direct relationship between the artists and their individual configurations. The album takes the form of the trio each playing their principal instruments with no specific goal other than the exploration of the space in that moment.
This spontaneous composition showcases the freedom and musical immediacy of all three artists’ ability to interplay as well as their individual unique techniques to create engaging experimental sounds. Flower of Sulphur was recorded at Roulette in Brooklyn in front of an audience; the trio are hoping to make additional live performances throughout 2018. The hour long instillation builds to a captivating crescendo elegantly fusing immersive layers, rewarding the listener with a true emotive experience.”
Properly seminal deep house dubs from Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus with Tikiman (Paul St. Hilaire), originally issued in 1996 and now repressed for 20th anniversary edition.
The strident but plasmic nine minute groove of Acting Crazy (Club Vocal) is just about the most perfect, immersive balance of NYC deep house, Jamaican roots reggae and Berlin minimalism that you’ll ever encounter - a rare slice of shut-your-eyes and dance magic that never fails in the right situations. There’s also a shorter Instrumental which is pretty much an alternate mix of Maurizio’s M6, and a nipped edit of the vocal mix, all demanding that DJs buy two copies to really get the most out of it.
Basically every home needs a copy of this and every other plate on Main Street Records, but depending on who you ask, this one more than any other.
Osiris have the rare honour of hosting a typically sublime Burial remix on the B-side to Deep Summer, Simon Shreeve (Kryptic Minds) aka Mønic’s melancholic and dusky industrialullaby.
Perfectly measured for the pensive atmosphere of summer 2017 in a Brexiting UK, Mønic’s Deep Summer courses ghostly R&B/folk vocals thru an arid scene of knackered, worn-down drums and keening harmonic pads, barely but stoically keeping its head up against its impending conclusion in a cannily metaphorical narrative arrangement.
Trust Burial, then, to extract and amplify some sense of beauty from the reserved anguish of Deep Summer on the B-side, opening with a filigree collage of seagulls, windchimes and pads recalling the “better days” of ‘90s summers, before lone voices sardonically echoes the sentiments of Nigel Farage (say it like garage) in the recurring phrase ‘we don’t need noone else’ against a rhythmelodic moire of maribas, pealing sax and queasy subbass squirms, perfectly capturing the lucid sleepwalking momentum and frayed socio-cultural fabric of Britain right now in the gauziest, impressionistic terms, replete with an updraft of balearic guitar in the closing stages perhaps predicting our mass exodus to a Ballardian super-city along the mediterranean coast.
Benidorm, you’ve been warned.