Students of Decay follow up last year’s incredible 'All My Circles Run’ album by Sarah Davachi with this new album by French horn player, field recording and audio installation artist Anne Guthrie.
Guthrie takes auditory snapshots of an abandoned city; fragments of song drifting out of basements and across alleyways and muffled conversations, coalescing into an evocative soundsphere that’s gently arranged to give the feeling of a directed narrative unfolding before your ears.
There’s a real art to this kind of field recording and Guthrie manages to neither over-simplify nor colour her recordings too much. Through much of this album the sounds are so alien and beautiful it’s impossible to work out if what you’re listening to is real or artificial; neatly mimicking the way our memory works. When a voice appears towards the end of Serious Water, it jolts you back to the mundane world around you.
Including "posthumous contributions from the artist's grandfather, a jazz pianist; obsolete media palimpsests (some vanity, some necessity); tap dancing on a peeling floor…” there’s something almost disturbing about the personal narrative on display here, as the label describe it…”an unsettling and strangely beautiful album - akin to something on the tip of your tongue, which, before you can name it, slips away into forgetting”.
Outstanding electro-acoustic concrète classic. If you’ve just copped the new Valerio Tricoli album for PAN and want to get some historical perspective, you need to hear this! Mastered by Rashad Becker...
“When Xenakis, who had fought against the occupation as part of the communist resistance, moved to Paris in 1947, it was the start of a highly creative and impressive career. Xenakis not only studied composition with Messiaen and became one of the most innovative composers of the 20th century, he also worked as assistant to Le Corbusier and worked on the Philips Pavilion for the World Exhibition in Brussels 1958.
His compositions were often based on mathematical principles, which give his music an unprecedented aesthetic and “shocking otherness” (The Guardian). The most famous works of Xenakis are his compositions for orchestra Metastasis, Pithoprakta and Terretektorh (where the 88 musicians were spread within the audience) and the electroacoustic compositions Persepolis, Concret PH, Bohor and La Légende d’Eer where he integrated his stochastic synthesis sounds for the first time.
As legendary as this piece itself is the impenetrable thicket of versions and stories around La Légende d’Eer - it exists in different releases, wrong sample rates, digitized backwards … this now is a new version, using the 8-track-version that Xenakis himself presented at Darmstädter Ferienkurse in august 1978.
As the automatic spatialization is lost, this became the only original version of this composition and is presented here (mixed down to stereo by Martin Wurmnest who tried to preserve the spatial movements as perceptible as possible, and then mastered by Rashad Becker at D&M) for the very first time.
La Légende d’Eer not only became a milestone of electroacoustic music but is also an important reference for noise and industrial musicians up to the present day”
Their third album, ‘Treasure’ also debuts Simon Raymonde on bass and finds the band scaling new heights in the most emotionally raw way imaginable. Impossible to overstate just how influential and well loved this album is - from the quietly anthemic Pandora (For Cindy) - probably played in every bedroom by every teenager in 1984, to the sublime 'Beatrix' and 'Otterley' - tracks that were played on Autechre’s Disengage Kiss FM show in the early 90’s and which gave us our first introduction to one of the most magical and timeless albums ever made.
"The band returned to being a trio in 1984 with guitarist Simon Raymonde joining their ranks in time for third album, Treasure. Produced by Robin Guthrie and featuring tracks ‘Lorelei’, ‘Ivo’ and ‘Persephone’, Treasure is often celebrated as one of the band’s finest works. As Pitchfork put it when including the album in their Top 100 Albums of the 1980s, “Treasure was titled simply enough. An adjective for the endlessly inventive melodic lines you'd find buried in these songs, and a verb for what you'd do with them for years to come.”
Collectible ambient label New Atlantis unspool a sublime 3rd release, the solo debut proper by label family member JQ, who presents “…An album about guilt, paranoia, depression, the relationship with self, and growing up in the digital age.”
Five years in the works and split in two parts, Past + Present, said to be “signifying life before and after invasive technology” JQ meditates on the hauntological nature of digital culture thru the apt prism of ambient music - a style of music p’raps best described as symptomatic or a side effect of the digital era, and whose popularity, effect and use directly correlates with the ubiquitous expansion of digital technologies.
A product of its environment, Invisible renders what history will come to regard as a unique perspective of humanity, as the the expression of someone who has experience life before and after the internet came to dominate societal structures and strictures. With that in mind, the first half traverses from the innocent chimes of Komorebi and U_1644 to balmy balearic boogie, befroe a creeping sense of tension comes into play with Memories ultimately leading to the lurking introspection of Spyware, bringing the Past to a close.
The mood explicitly changes on the B-side as 10 minute piece You Can Never Escape What You’ve Done connotes a stark sense of coming to terms with the present, resolving with the phthalocyanine electro of Once, followed by the ambient equivalent of a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ with the wistful new age flute drift of Acceptance.
Stochastic Moods is an absorbing slab of micro-rhythmic and cosmically attuned electronics from drummer turned synthesist David Ross for Sam Weaver’s excellent, Salford-based Cusp Editions.
It sounds to us like Bellows conducting esoteric electro-magnetic rituals in the ether with Rashad Becker and Christina Kubisch, or equally Mark Fell jamming in hyperspace with Pekka Airaksinen, and comes with some suitably heavyweight conceptual background that requires a bit of explanation, which is included below for disambiguation. However, you’re recommended to just dive in feet first and ask questions later for best effect as the music’s abstract polymetric discombobulations and knotted, wormholing nature will reveal its logic in due course.
“In ‘A Conceptual Framework for Consciousness’, Dr. Joachim Keppler elaborates on Quantum Stochastic Electrodynamic (SED) theoryto suggest that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe rather than a material creation of the human brain.
Functioning as a resonant stochastic oscillator, the brain modulates with an all-pervasive radiation field of infinite energy and potential, termed the zero- point field (ZPF). The brain selectively filters resonant frequencies from the field’s spectrum into states of relative stability or balance situations that come to comprise our experience of consciousness.
Keppler compares the ZPF to Prana, the omnipresent ‘vital principle’ or life-force described in Hindu philosophy. It is believed that all forces of the human mind, (indeed the universe), are modifications of the life-force Prana. Ancient Indian philosophy and SED consciousness theory seem to share the notion that mind and matter are based on the same universal substrate and that their interdependence causes matter to shape consciousness and vice-versa.
I started thinking of improvising with control-voltage electronics as a parallel to these processes, regarding the electrical field as a metaphor for the zero- point field or vital principle.
Composing with volatile analogue systems now seemed an endeavour to distil stable voltage-states from the infinitely random potential of the electrical field, to determine audible balance situations for musical contemplation. Stochastic Moods is a paean to the joy of experiencing a pleasantly unexpected thought or feeling as it enters into consciousness."
D. Ross 6/03/2017
Further to the icy gothic designs of her Okovi album, Zola Jesus relinquishes four Additions plus augmentations of album tracks by Johnny Jewel, Katie Gately, Wolves In The Throne Room, and Joanne Pollock.
Of the Additions, the goth dance-pop of Bound and the prickling, off-key discord of Bitten Wool get us best. The remixes turn up some great highlights in Randall Dunn & Aaron Weaver ov WITTR’s diaphanous take on Exhumed, and the nocturnal glyde of JJ’s Ash To Bone remix.
RIYL: Popul Vuh, Henry Flynt, Arthur Russell, CAN, La Düsseldorf, Tony Conrad & Faust, Broadcast, Terry Riley & Alice Coltrane…
"A twelve-faceted sonic inquiry into celestial cycles, the rhythms of the natural world, and the illuminating nature of darkness, the accompanying album Bellowing Sun is the majestic culmination of Fennelly’s immersive explorations of the natural world’s sensory dimensions and the dialogues between musical traditions—acoustic and electronic, vernacular and avant-garde.
The solitary compositional genesis of the piece, and a significant portion of its early recording (before tracking and mixing sessions with John McEntire of Tortoise), occurred at Bean’s home atop a dune of fine quartz “singing sands” on the shore of Lake Michigan. Sonically, Bellowing Sun is both kaleidoscopic and telescopic in nature, offering a radiant palette of rhythmic, textural, and tonal complexity, as well as rapid shifts in scale, from the intimately corporeal to the dizzyingly cosmic.
All four J’s—Jaime, Janet, Jim, and Jon—appeared together on Undying Color, but have since solidified into a formidable, cohesive unit, a true band capable of increasingly expansive arrangements. Though divided into twelve movements, or aspects—zodiacal sectors, perhaps—the piece functions as a heroic, integral whole. The album’s sequence reveals a dynamic push and pull between contemplative stasis and headlong momentum, imparting a palpably physical mass to the cataracts of sound.
Bean sings on half of the tracks, including early stunner “Matchstick Grip” and the spectacular closer “Pause to Wonder.” Whether articulating words or intoning phonemes, her powerful, lucent voice elevates the proceedings to a devotional plane whenever it emerges from the saturated field of sound."
In a smart turn of events, Daniel Avery’s second album scales between lush ambient downstrokes and signature, rolling techno for a sublime dialogue between the ‘90s and now, all aided and abetted by guests including Teresa Winter, Manni Dee, and James Greenwood (Ghost Culture).
As lushly prefaced by the Slow Fade EP, Avery’s Song For Alpha continues to diversify his bonds in sublime style, strafing from slow acid to rolling and purring techno and back again with a time-dilating and immersively expansive effect that lends itself as well to headphone travels as smoky afters with a pack of pals.
On one level, its aesthetic and effect can be taken as a sincere nod to the hauntology of UK dance music, revelling in its phosphorescent ambient afterglow and beautifully distilling the paradoxical nature of being locked in your own world within a sweaty mass of dancers, whilst also conveying the detachment of perception between generations who experienced the original rush, those xennials who came in its slipstream, and a current generation raised on YouTube clips of the original.
On another level, he’s also tapping into a far more ancient, arcane thread of tribal ritualism and new age thought, of which Rave music, like the psychedelic movement of the ‘60s, is a manifestation of timeless esoteric desires that erupts in mass popular consciousness. In that sense, from the name to the cover artwork, Song For Alpha pursues a similar spirit to Ami Shavit’s In Alpha Mood, existing in a wider vein of hypnotic synthetic music with James Holden’s The Animal Spirits and AFX’s SAW volumes.
But that’s all another way of saying that the album, from the lissom Plastikman acid strokes of Stereo L thru to the diaphanous ambient techno of Endnote, which features a gasp of Teresa Winter teased into cirrus drones, is just a lovely example of that nostalgic but forward facing thing UK dance-as-folk music does best.
Nearly 10 years since meeting Mica Levi as Kwesachu, and 5 since his début LP ilp, Kwes. charmingly reminds us of his modern electronic soul on Songs For Midi - a 6 track EP written in dedication to his young niece, Midori and cousin, Connor, who both helped out on the artwork.
Clearly a personal endeavour, and very much inspired by an image of youthful innocence, Songs For Midi expresses, nay exudes, a bright optimism that really can’t be sniffed at. Kwes. gestures that it’s an effort in finding his own musical voice after working in the studio closely with everyone from Bobby Womack to Solange and Kelela in recent years, and we have to agree that he’s definitely located and rounded up his idiosyncrasies inside.
Popping with chromatic colour and beautifully freed of fixed meter, Songs For Midi is a brilliant study on the vividness of youth, as seen and heard thru a personalised prism of modern electronic jazz fusion. In freehand strokes and with balletic lightness, Kwes. keeps us rapt from ribboning sino-esque scales of Midori thru the off-kilter tangggg and pastoral lushness of Ungry/Milk, to the superbly curdled 99flake and the head-spinning Blox/Connor with its strobing pop chops and swallow-diving strings.
RIYL Mica Levi, Cy An, Maxwell Sterling
Tropical Interface’s OM1 is a heat seeking blast of deconstructed club music placing listeners in the midst of a hyper present.
A rush of ideas that feel like they were almost created in real time by a youth with VR headset and gloves in a Minecraft-like environment, wielding huge objects in a frenzy of explosive collisions generating polychromatic splashes of radioactive ectoplasm. But don’t worry, it’s not real.
Location recordings of a hot-rod drag car racing meet in England, 1999. Sounds exactly as you’d imagine
“RAW POWER '?' SONIC BOOM '?' EARS BLEED!!! PLAY LOUD - DO NOT MISTAKE THIS FOR A MUSICAL PRODUCT! 'A lot is good, but too much is just enough' (Old Hot-Rodders saying) 1999 marks the 50th year of drag racing, after the first official meeting was held in 1949 on the streets of Goleta in California. Then, the quarter of a mile course took 11 seconds with the vehicles travelling at over 150 mph. Now, they race at over 300 mph, taking just 4.5 seconds. The vehicles are completely purpose-built and represent the extreme fringe of non-commercially motivated technological research Santa Pod Raceway was started in 1966 on the site of an old American airbase.
It is the home of European Drag Racing and host to the FIA European Drag Racing Championships. Drag racing is the fastest and loudest motorsport on Earth with sensational race action from dragsters and door-slammers to beetles and bikes. See 0-100mph in under 1 second and make your ribs rattle, your brain shake and your ears roar! This CD captures all the thrills and spills of Drag Car Racing - an activity at the cutting edge of technology. For fans and audio buffs alike, use this CD to recreate the awesome power in your own living room, or frighten the daylights out of the dancefloor by using this as a DJ tool. Monster! Monster! All recordings by Paul Williams and all photographs by Jeremy Larkin @ SANTA POD, Podington, England on May 29, 31 & July 3 1999 Mastered by Denis Blackham @ Country Masters, Frimley, England on July 26 1999’”
“Turbatrix', the eighth release on Sheffield's Computer Club imprint, is provided by mysterious French artist Arandel. No newcomer to the musical spectrum, Arandel has long been associated with the French label InFiné, alongside global names such as Carl Craig and Apparat.
"'Locus I' surprises as analogue rasps and pings spar with lush synths and a driving 4/4 rhythmic code. Key track 'Locus II' is a siren to the ghosts of Sheffield's electronic musical heritage, with relentless bleeps and a concrete sub-bass.
'Locus III' is a midnight romp through a neon-tinged city where only the holograms know your name. The fourth and final track, a blissed-out ambient piece soaked in celestial sounds, is a meditative end to a thrilling journey of invention and musical mastery.”
Impending yet unsettlingly detached ‘dreadscapes’ realised in tribute to the “the next generation of Muslim kids who are left feeling sad, frightened, angry.” by wars fought in their name
“We were in an angry state of mind when we made these tracks. It began around the same time the US condemned Syria and Assad for the use of chemical weapons. The events took us back to the Halabje chemical attack in Kurdistan, Iraq, where exactly 30 years ago, Saddam, with the blind support of the West, killed between 3000-5,000 and injured 7,000-10,000, mostly Kurdish civilians. Have we not learned anything? It feels like history is less a source for understanding and growth, and more so to be exploited, mined, in search of tactics that are sure to cause havoc on humanity. These tracks are dedicated to the next generation of Muslim kids who are left feeling sad, frightened, angry.”
Saint Abdullah is the sound project of Iranian-Canadian brothers, Mohammad and Mehdi. Motivated by the history of Western misconception and opposition towards Muslims and the Islamic Faith, they began writing music to serve as "cultural translators,” with the goal of challenging stereotypes, acting as “a conduit between unnecessary enemies." 'Stars Have Eyes' is their 2nd album – a weaponized narrative of field recordings from the streets of Tehran transformed into hulking instruments of information, then sunk into a dreadscape of sub frequencies and foreboding echo chamber clatter.”
Isle Of Jura reissue Q’s natty early ‘80s electro-funk classic, Voice of Q - a virulent earworm if we’ve ever heard one.
The leftfield electro disco gem originally released in 1982 finally gets an official reissue. Bootlegged badly in recent years, Isle Of Jura does it right with fully remastered versions and the added inclusion of a previously unreleased Q song ‘Keep It Strong’
Samuel Van Dijk (Mohlao, Multicast Dynamics) gives some sorrowful Harbour City looks on Frustrated Funk under the codename VC-118A.
it’s beautifully brooding gear throughout, with dubwise and cinematic highlights in the OG X-Files-esque atmosphere of Enter and the sublime Sequence, plus killer hydroelectro dynamics in Verdictia.
Originally a track on the A Thousand Skies album, the cosmic Afro-dub of Ode To The Pleiades features as a crafty Live Band Version riddled with bustling drums and buzzing instrumentation and spread out nearly twice as long.
Photay condenses and transforms it into a rolling bass stepper, and Daniele Baldelli & Marco Dionigi even its keel to a swanging cosmic disco dub.
Belgium’s Locked Groove sets his sights on trance music in the Progression EP, scaling up the spine with the reticulated arps and airborne triplet groove of Progression, and with something like a gauzier take on Hybrid’s trance breaks in The Come Up.
Lithuania’s Prequel Tapes makes his first blip on our radar with two fine, contrasting reworks; a Going Up remix resetting the groove to a skyward techno trajectory, and a collapsed Going Down remix.
The label that gave us that killer LP of Iranian Classical music from Morteza Hannaneh last year return with this curveball album of midnight anxiety and ambient trauma by ssaliva following on from releases for Leaving Records, Ekster, Vlek and Purple Tape Pedigree, among others. Highly recommended if you're into Oneohtrix, Arca, Mica Levi...
Pulling together material from blink-and-miss Bandcamp releases along with previously unheard works, WYIN coherently highlights a broader period of work than any of ssaliva’s previous releases, framing a probing and adventurous spirit at work in its element; modern digital ambient composition.
Coming off the back of Collapsing Market’s reissue of Tschashm-e-Del, an archival radio play of Persian Classical music conducted by the label’s grandfather, their first ssaliva entry keeps the label outlook as mutable as ever with a natural focus on atmosphere and feelings connoting existential angst and solitary psychedelia. It’s a product of the contemporary environment, which, more than ever, is bleakly electronic and at the mercy of rabid socio-economics, as symbolised in the sleeve’s illustration of a financial trader’s open palm, contrasting with the front cover’s zoomed in image of blood-spattered textures.
In six parts he just about keeps his head above the waves and acres of negative space, firstly buoyed by choral voices in Danger Came Smiling, then against the discordant fulgurite of Hell/Home, which both make the sublime timbral relief of a that much more effective, in the same way that the hyperreal, acrid sensation of For All I Care, the crystalline dimensions of 2drown and the spiralling, elusive complexity of b reflect and express the modern world with an intangible accuracy perhaps best compared to Arca.
Major, brilliant new work from acclaimed artist Ashley Paul following various collaborations with Rashad Becker, Lucy Railton, Mary Jane Leach, Rhys Chatham and Thurston Moore, debuting here for the Slip label following her last album 'Heat Source' for Important in 2014.
Singular avant garde voice Ashley Paul commits a bewitching début to Slip with Lost In Shadows; a tender yet discordant suite inspired by her new role as mother to a young child. Few would call Ashley’s music “easy”, but it is also heavily rewarding in its own, uncompromising way and now finds its audience on the acclaimed Slip imprint amid a roster of boundary-morphing composers including Chaines, Mica Levi & Oliver Coates, Yeah You, and Laurie Tompkins.
Recorded over three weeks at FUGA in Zaragoza, Spain and premiered at Counterflows 2017, on Lost In Shadows Ashley plays guitar, sax, clarinet, voice and percussion. In a mark of distance travelled since her last album, however, she draws on recent collaborations and work with pre-eminent composers such as Rashad Becker, Lucy Railton and Rhys Chatham to also delegate roles to a new ensemble of players on tuba, baritone sax, cello and percussion, who serve to render the dynamics of her music with stronger attention to bass rhythms and intricate, iridescent dissonance.
The expanded personnel lend new flesh to Ashley’s work, hingeing around her tremulous vocals and bringing her ideas to life in 11 parts that hold to a perceptive knife edge between lullaby-like and restlessly tooth-achy: mixing the off-key filigree of her vocals at asymmetric tonal angles to the instrumentals - a solution of jazz, chamber music, modern composition and folk craft expressing a complexity of ideas that may well have fallen apart if handled by composers unable to hold their nerve quite as well as Ashley.
As with all her works, a sense of intuitive, instinctive alchemy is at the core of the album, as Ashley’s jarring tonal juxtapositions and her own elusive vocals act out a metaphor for the challenge of nurturing new relationships in testing circumstances, an experience she describes as “many hours spent awake at night in a dream like state of half consciousness, darkness and solitude; an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and exhaustion made light by a profound new love.”
Ultimately, the results are cranky as much as they are delirious, uncannily relaying a state of mind and sensations which will only ever be felt by some of its potential listeners, yet offers myriad possibilities for interpretation to all.
A new album of exclusive, previously unreleased material from The Caretaker released in memory of and for Mark Fisher, the legendary writer, cultural theorist and pioneering blogger (k-punk) who passed away on the 13th January 2017. Copies of this release were given to all attendees of The Caretaker's Barbican performance for Unsound Disclocation last week. There are now 400 more copies available - please noite that ths edition isn't numbered or signed. 100% of proceeds from this release will be donated to MIND, the mental health charity - so if yr thinking of flipping these - please don't.
Ever since he wrote the extensive liner notes for The Caretaker’s Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia boxset in 2005, Mark Fisher was instrumental in contextualising the complex, abstract nature of The Caretaker’s music to beguiled listeners across the world. Along with the music of Burial and Broadcast, for example, The Caretaker’s output fell under what Fisher described as “Hauntology” - a portmanteau of haunting and ontology which is rooted in Derrida’s study of the failure of Marxism and the left - which Fisher applied to contemporary culture, distinguishing merely “nostalgic” and revivalist culture from hauntological art and culture which is typified by its “refusal to give up on the desire for the future.”
The Caretaker’s work, including this billowing new longform piece, has always resonated with and fed into Fisher’s ideas, so we could hardly think of a more fitting send off from Leyland Kirby’s cherished vessel. We wholeheartedly recommend this CD, and also reading all of Fisher’s work - from his collected writings for The Wire and other publications, to his daringly seminal Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative?, which proposes a direct link between increased diagnoses of mental health problems and the incessant trudge of capitalism, and suggest a way beyond the assertion that “it is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism”.
A cherry-picked 56-track overview of the pivotal and influential dance music craze which emerged from clubs in Antwerp, Gent and Brussels c. 1987-89 in parallel to scenes out of Chicago, Detroit, NYC and the UK.
Arriving in the wake of multiple T.S.O.B. (The Sound of Belgium) volumes, this 4CD features a strong haul of nuggets not included on those sets - including a number on CD for the first time - while also broadening the definition of New Beat to locate the syncretic style’s roots and branches within synth-pop, EBM, house, and techno; from early influences such as Graham Lewis’ stylish synth-pop classic Pump , thru to to PN’P’s proto-hardcore slammer Poison  and taking in Belgium-built New Beat staples such as Ghostdanjce’s searing Ghostbeat (New Beat Mix) or Erotic Dissidents’ Move Your Ass And Feel The Beat (Instrumental) alongside imported anthems, Reese & Santonio’s Rock The Beat and The Rude Boy Keith Farley’s Give Yourself To Me.
We could bang on about the tracklist all day, but suffice it to say that the inclusion of total pearls such as Chayell’s relentless Don’t Even Think About It, White House White’s Oddball Harry, and Twice of Love’s grim acid grinder The Birth (the B-side to 24 Hours From Culture), and La Rolls’ Foolz Moonz Roolz means you’re saving a few hundred bob from the buying 2nd hand vinyl, at the very least!
ESP-Disk reissue of this seminal album of British avant-jazz on vinyl.
"British pianist Peter Lemer studied with Jaki Byard, Paul Bley, and Bill Dixon, so his roots in jazz are strong. His lengthy and distinguished career has found him in a wide variety of settings. As an avant-garde jazz pianist, he recorded with Spontaneous Music Ensemble; in the jazz fusion realm, he was a member of Gilgamesh and Paraphernalia; as a progressive rock keyboardist, he played with Gong, Baker Gurvitz Army, the Mike Oldfield Group, Seventh Wave, and In Cahoots. Sideman credits include work with Annette Peacock, Harry Beckett, and more.
Surprisingly, Local Colour – his debut recording – is Lemer's only album as a leader. Recorded in London in 1966, before jazz fusion or prog-rock even existed, it belongs in the collection of anyone who cares about the British jazz scene, and not only because of Lemer's talents. Everyone in this quintet went on to notable achievements. This was sax great John Surman's recording debut; he is now arguably the premiere British jazz saxophonist, with a prolific and much- praised discography. Chances to hear the also scintillating sax sound of the more obscure Nisar Ahmad Khan (AKA George Khan) in a jazz context are much rarer, though near the end of 2017 Emanem released an excellent two-disc compilation of concert recordings and prog-rock fans may remember his appearance on Robert Wyatt's Ruth Is Stranger than Richard and his work with Cream lyricist Pete Brown and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Drummer Jon (then going by John) Hiseman had already established himself on the British jazz scene by co-founding the New Jazz Orchestra in 1964; two years after the Local Colour session he started Colosseum, one of the most successful British jazz-rock bands, and he even collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber on the musical Cats.
Bassist Tony Reeves had had a hit single in 1965 with Sounds Orchestral ("Cast Your Fate to the Wind"); after a brief stint with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Reeves joined Hiseman in Colosseum; he was also a member of Greenslade and Curved Air in addition to session work with Fairport Convention singer Sandy Denny and guitarist John Martyn. That's a whole lot of talent in the Peter Lemer Quintet! Together, they make a sort of inside/outside jazz that doesn't abandon themes and harmony but is still quite freewheeling when it wants to be."
Editions Gravats follow up that killer EP of mutant Dancehall bangers from label co-founder Low Jack with this completely wild, spellbinding mix of avant-garde electronics and chanson by truly original contemporary artist Laurent Gérard a.k.a. Èlg, part of the same broad scene that includes everyone from Ghédalia Tazartès to PAN’s Bill Kouligas, Luke Younger / Helm, Milan’s insane (und essential) Hundebiss crew and even Alan Bishop and Dylan Nyoukis with whom Èlg has also collaborated. Huge recommendation if you’re into anything from the PAN label to Recollection GRM, Ghedalia Tazartes or even Throbbing Gristle & Coil...
Vu Du Dôme is a staggeringly strange, brilliantly kaleidoscopic album resembling a sort of dramaturgy of a waking dream. It feels like a stroll around a topiary maze at twilight on a warm night, with Èlg acting as a spectral protagonist narrating in first person while a supporting cast including Catherine Hershey, Borja Flames and Ernest Bergez make the trip more unfathomable.
Forming a bridge between improbable dimensions of GRM / musique concrète, electro-acoustic and chanson spheres, Èlg riddles his music with a literal and metaphorical take on sound poetry; blending French language vocals against quietly enigmatic, impeccably produced backdrops whose low, shifting lighting and mid-fi resolution lends them to comparisons with illusive theatre stage designs as much as the overgrown corners of the imagination explored by Luc Ferrari or Èlg’s Reines D’Angleterre bandmate Ghédalia Tazartès before him.
A dusty revenant, a peaceful messenger: Èlg plays all those roles simultaneously. Combining pointedly purposed production and cryptic incantation, he acts as a souterrain psychopomp relaying energies from one reality to another, taking care not to stray too far explicitly in either direction and hold his ground ambiguously with the nous of an ancient Greek play or the kind of pathos and logic likely to baffle a computer. Taken in context of Roope Eronen’s artwork - a naif illustration of smiling cone faces on a bouncy castle - each listener’s perception of Vu Du Dôme is bound to differ from the next in an all too rare and precious way that’s testament to the genius avant-garde vision of its mercurial creator.
As we’ve said before; there may well be an underlying logic to Èlg, but we’re buggered if we can pick it out. All we know is that he’s just gone and made one of the most weirdly addictive and forward thinking, fxcked up pop albums we’ve heard for time...
Seriously fugged-out chopped ’n screwed collage from Italian weirdos NPLGNN and Dave Saved, hitting square between the eyes of KGB Man, DJ Yo-Yo Dieting and Wanda Group at his mulchiest...
“‘For the second installment of their Forever Now, Dave Saved and NPLGNN worked together as L.O.A on a mixtape made chopping and screwing a lot of CDs containing live recordings of parties held in Naples roughly between 2001-2003 by one of the most iconic promoters crew of the city at that time called “Angels Of Love”.
Coming from the pill smiling tribes movement of the early ’90s, around ’94 AOL start to bring in Naples a lot of house icons like Frankie Knuckles, Tony Humphries, Masters At Work, Kenny Carpenter etc. building a scene that was so routed in the city, especially in the suburbs and provinces, to become almost a kind of sub-culture involving also fashion etc.
With their meticulous work the two Neapolitan heads rearranged a lot of samples in a new sonic broken collage. More relevant here turns out to be not the music in itself but the moment that particular sample represents.
It’s a work of excavation into a sub-culture of Naples. Overpitched voices, oversatured drums and a not specified amount of FX to give a new life to the memory, trying to face what we can call “traditions” to give new oblique directions. Past and present suspended into a contemporary oroboros of k-holing fantasia.
Doesn’t matter where you were at that time or what you were feeling, it’s the 00’s dancefloor black hole, the millenium bug of those emotions, re-emerged in our days frozen now and forever.’”
Empty Editions follow up Eli Keszler’s dynamic inauguration, 'Last Signs of Speed ', with a spellbinding mesh of energies generated by Jean-Luc Guionnet’s extended alto sax tekkers and the wailing feedback systems of Daichi Yoshikawa.
Under the title Intervivos - Latin for “between the living” - they vividly and obscurely speak to the listener in a spectralist, non-verbal language, recorded during a week long residency at Hong Kong’s Empty Gallery. If you’re familiar with AMM, David Tudor, Rashad Becker or Iancu Dumitrescu, you may be able to understand what Guionnet and Yoshikawa are saying, but even if not, this side is a strong example of modern, boundary-pushing improv that should pique the interests of casual and hardcore listeners alike.
“Although Guionnet and Yoshikawa both come from prolific backgrounds in free jazz and electroacoustic improvisation -- Guionnet plays in The Ames Room with Will Guthrie and Clayton Thomas and Yoshikawa studied with AMM’s Eddie Prevost -- Intervivos sees them developing an approach to improvising which seeks to escape the increasingly narrow stylistic confines of these musical provinces. The album is characterized by a brutal foregrounding of process and material lacking from the experimental music of so many of their contemporaries. Rather than seeking refinement or resolution through existing structures, Guionnet and Yoshikawa prioritize a sort of collaborative musical searching in which the aural entanglement, layering and folding of their scorched intonations creates an emergent musical form -- a non-linear music which sounds both ancient and futuristic.
Corruscating alto saxophone riffs appear suddenly, before disintegrating amidst slabs of feedback and flurries of metallic percussion. Other times, Yoshikawa and Guionnet conjure shifting clouds of sustained tones from the timbral meshing of their instruments - yielding a sound somewhere between the dense textures of Iancu Dumitrescu and the floating harmonics of Gagaku. Far from improvisation as we know it, this album instead gestures towards a speculative “electronic” music created through the ritualistic misuse of acoustic instruments. Intervivos is a fierce, undecorated triumph in the ruinous expression of instruments -- exalted in both its turbulence, and in its extreme testing of improvisational reality. Put summarily by Seymour Wright in the album’s liner notes: “You don’t need me to tell you how it sounds, or how to listen [...] this record begins when you play it.””
Hardcore archivist and fetishist Alberto Guerrini a.k.a. Gabber Eleganza débuts his keenly anticipated studio work on Lorenzo Senni’s Presto!? with Never Sleep #1. Perfectly toying with expectations, GE extracts what he needs from the ‘90s hard dance archetype and mutates it in-the-mix with smart strokes of romantic synth pads and a windswept dynamic of his own making.
It’s basically not gabber as you know and love/hate it - as in frenetic pounders and eye-bleeding stabs - but rather an essence of gabber’s full throttle futurism circumvented or danced around in much the same way Lorenzo did with hard trance.
The results are teasing, deviant, anticipation-baiting, with Junonica juggling bursts of kick drums with inverted black hole peaks and streaking hardstyle lixx, whereas Never Sleep toggles lip-smakingly lush pads with a mix of grubbing and balletic kick drum patterns on a dembow bump, and Total Football is a tempestuous arrangement of jagged shockwaves and pill-belly queasiness that resolves at lush points in a perpetual trajectory to the next peak.
More talking all that jazz, more high aiming music by fumio itabashi: mule musiq is ready to release another record by the legendary japanese jazz pianist, born in ashikaga, tochigi in the year 1949.
"This time his first solo record ever: the heavy jazzing “nature”, which has never been reissued on vinyl since its birth in 1979. it has been recorded at nippon columbia 1st studio, tokyo from march 13 to 15 in the year of its release. it features itabashi making feverish love with the piano and sharing the studio with the great bass players hideaki mochizuki and koichi yamazaki, drummers kenichi kameyama and ryojiro furusawa, soprano saxophonist yoshio otomo and vibraphone wizard hiroshi hatsuyama.
They all joined him to perform his very own songs, composed by itabashi himself and produced by ryonosuke honmura, who also produced japanese jazz heroes like saxophonist keizo inoue during his career. but enough background information. what counts is sound. it is fresh, propulsive, twitchy and melodious from the first to the last tone. sometimes the instrumentalists play a classic solo in an overall deep modal jazz atmosphere that seems to be madefor cats that love the good old stars and inventors - from john coltrane to mile davis, from thelonious monk to art blakey.
“nature” also shows how deep itabashi studied the history of the genre, while keeping his very own vision of jazz alive. the man that made his professional debut as a member of the sadao watanabe quintet in 1971 and that also was a member of the elvin jones jazz machine world tour from 1985 to 1987, plays the piano in all tempos: nervous high-flying quick, deeply blue blues style slow.
Besides the traditional jazz flavours, you get a feeling of mind-expanding spiritual jazz, that grand mas-ters like pharaoh sanders or gary bartz turned into a sacred music genre. a master-class record in ravishing big city jazz music, adventurous, sometimes meditative, sometimes faster than the speed of light, always grooving with a bright, pure-toned sensibility and deeply soulful melodic imaginations.
It extends the jazz history with a fine balance between tradition and innovation. and it stays infectious all the time while sounding surprisingly fresh due to a lot of thrilling musical spontaneity that touches profoundly even though all notes have been written down by fumio itabashi before he and his combat-ants entered the studio.and maybe that’s the mystery of these timeless five at times epic recordings: all notes been written on paper but each musician had the freedom to dance with them in his very own unique way. so, turn the volume loud and get ready to be steamrolled by fumio itabashi’s “nature”, an inebriant album that is talking all that jazz deeply!"
Breathtaking, loosely jazz-related composition by Travis Laplante and Gerald Cleaver’s NYC-based drums and sax duo; Subtle Degrees. Both revered improvisors, they bring an awe-inspiring virtuoso energy and skill to the plate requiring no knowledge of either artist in order to be blown away. This is immediate, striking music, intensely sustaining an hypnotic effect from first hit until last breath
“A Dance That Empties is Travis Laplante's latest album-length composition, written for Subtle Degrees, a new two-musician ensemble consisting of Laplante (tenor saxophone) and Gerald Cleaver (drums). The duo's uncategorizable sound evokes everything from contemporary classical music, avant garde jazz, minimalism, technical metal, and sacred world music. Laplante is also the founder/composer of saxophone quartet Battle Trance and the ensemble Little Women.
A Dance That Empties is an extremely demanding composition that pushes the players to the limit both technically and physically, while the raw, vulnerable instrumentation makes for an intimately emotional experience for both performers and listeners.
A Dance That Empties is the culmination of a very long musical relationship. In 2001, when he was only 18 years old, Laplante played a concert at New York’s Knitting Factory, then a pre-eminent mecca for adventurous music of all kinds. Cleaver was in the audience, and came up to Laplante afterwards, handed him his phone number and said they should play together sometime. They soon did, “and I felt a very intimate and spiritual connection with Gerald that feels more alive than ever today,” Laplante says. “I’ve learned a tremendous amount from Gerald and have long considered him one of my favorite living improvisers.”
The two have performed together various times over the ensuing 17 years, but Laplante never felt he was quite ready to record with Cleaver. “It got to the point where I took a multiple-year break from playing with him because I felt like I didn’t have enough to bring to the table,” says Laplante. “I needed to practice so I could have more to give to our musical relationship.” Then, in the fall of 2016, Laplante received a commission to compose a piece to be performed at Roulette in Brooklyn the following spring. “I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to return to this relationship with Gerald.” And so Laplante began composing an epic-scale work work with Cleaver’s rhythmic virtuosity in mind.
Inspired by the longer durational forms of spiritual ceremonies, A Dance That Empties is a continuous journey that unfolds over 43 minutes, with musical motifs that foreshadow, recur, and evolve. The piece refines sonic territory that Laplante has pioneered in his celebrated saxophone quartet Battle Trance, as well as his solo saxophone work, utilizing long passages of circular breathing and other extended techniques to create specific and yet ineffable emotional and sonic resonances. A Dance That Empties, as the title implies, adds the distinctly new element of complex rhythmic pulses precisely and expressively executed by Cleaver, that compel listeners to lose themselves in the hypnotically repetitive yet subtly shifting grooves.
With A Dance That Empties, Laplante and Cleaver throw themselves into unknown territory, delving further into the devotional intensity that has long distinguished both their work.”
The third, and final, box set includes ‘The Tenement Year’ (1988), ‘Cloudland’ (1989), ‘Worlds In Collison’ (1991) and ‘Lost Album’ (1989).
"With Pere Ubu on hiatus since 1982’s excellent ‘Song Of The Bailing Man’, David Thomas had recorded a much-praised solo album and the band had now signed to a major label. In a period of rampant world commercialism, what would happen next? Another crucial era for the band unraveled, Pere Ubu’s journey charted new undulating territory and so began a three-album escapade that retooled our understanding of what pop music is.
The third in the four-part boxed set series, ‘Les Haricots Sont Pas Salé 1987-1991’ sits between ‘The Architecture Of Language 1979-1982’ and ‘Drive, He Said 1994-2002’. “Solid as the band can be, it's also likely to dissolve songs from the bottom up. For all Pere Ubu's uncertainty, the band isn't arbitrary; its music has the off-the-wall unity of a Marx Brothers routine,” said Jon Pareles of The New York Times on ‘The Tenement Year’. One year later and things were further obscured with ‘Cloudland’ when they released “their industrial-strength equivalent of a class Beach Boys album from musicians more familiar with factories than surf.” (Greg Kot, Chicago Sun Times).
Then, in 1991, ‘Worlds In Collision’ became “the most atmospheric, carefully sculpted recording in the band's 13-album catalog.” (Tom Moon, Spin). Here we have Pere Ubu between 1987 and 1991 with three phenomenal pop albums, together with the ‘The Lost Album’, an 11-track record of demos that sounds like they’d loosened the nut and bolts of the genre even further. Four of these tracks, ‘Around The Fire’,’ Down By The River’, ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ and ‘Invisible Man’ were recorded as demos for the album originally designed to follow ‘Cloudland’. Referred to by the band as ‘The Lost Album’ they are now joined with songs from ‘Cloudland’ that wouldn’t fit on the original vinyl release due to the length limitations of vinyl. The record also includes a tribute to Van Dyke Parks ‘Wine Dark Sparks’ and ‘Bang The Drum’ inspired by a Van Dyke Parks song. Genius."
Remko Scha’s stunning recordings of machine-played microtonal guitar strikes are barely known beyond collectors and those in the know, but this remastered reissue on Superior Viaduct’s États-Unis series places it in a much deserved spotlight for fans of everything from Factory Floor to Konrad Sprenger and Ellen Fullman.
This first vinyl reissue of the 37 year old masterpiece is the definitive example of systems-based music realised by Dutch linguist and generative artist Remko Scha. It was recorded mostly at Scha’s famed arts space Het Apollohuis - “a haven for intellectuals and underground autodidacts” - in Eindhoven Holland and at Columbia University, New York between 1980-82, and can be heard in the same class of explorative, extended guitar techniques as Rhys Chatham or Glenn Branca, effectively working in parallel to No wave as much as the minimalist avant garde of the early ‘80s.
From the rapid microtonal fluctuations of Shake to the plangent shimmer of Brush, Scha wrests a remarkable spectrum of sounds from the guitar without touching it even once. A reciprocating “sabre saw” attached with ropes, flexible metal rods or rotating metal brushes does all the work, resulting a music without that pesky human interference that always allows for some level of sentimentality. In this perceptive gap between the sound and its source, we’re invited to simply revel in its tonal precision and elegant tirelessness, as it effectively acknowledges the redundancy of human efforts in achieving this kind of “perfection”.
It's an ingenious example of the strange pleasure we take in listening to impossibilities made tangible and beguilingly real thru machinery. A super uncanny and captivating record.
Tenastelin’s mammoth soundsystem platter Commercial Bwoy / Burial Tonight comes back around on Basic Replay 13 years since it was reissued.
Originally recorded 1990-91 by Blacka, Keety and Tena at the Vibes studio in London and deployed by Black’s Vibes label, the flinty hard drums and tight, bouncing bass of Commercial Bwoy and the slow and low Burial Tonight were played by sounds such as Abashanti, Entebbe, Jah Warrior, and on radio by Manasseh.
Night Slugs sling the first haul of crackshot selex from Helix’s Greatest Hits volumes onto vinyl.
Uptown, the salty tension of Diskochop comes with hard Jersey bass and claps messed with searing filter treatments, then a heavy shot of freestyling, tumbling toms and borking synths on Beat I Made In Miami.
Downtown, he gets busy with bucking kicks and nagging synth voice stabs with an unrelenting but aerodynamic flow on DX Crowd, but best is saved for last with the loud Linn drum crack and funky yank of The Chord Beat Edit.
Mysterious new project Red Hook Grain Terminal débuts on the suitably enigmatic Panatype with 8 tracks of dream-weft fuzzy clag, sooty bleeps and misty-eyed ambient memes inside Inorganic, the follow-up to endearingly modest releases by Bernard Baum and Schuttle.
Taking inspiration from the same Red Hook Grain terminal in Brooklyn which inspired a great track on Dialect’s Gowanus Drifts, sound-artist Jordan Edge uses that place as a key-sight for a weather beaten and hypnagogic sound here, resulting a series of murky vignettes of BoC-style melodic wow and flutter, squashed drag rhythms and scuffed electronic textures, popping up some reel highlights in the oxidising ambient gestures of track 4, and a segue from fruity synth noodling to hefty slow chug on track 7, before melting out into the smudged bliss of track 8.
“Inorganic is a collection of organic sounds that have been degraded by inorganic spaces and working methods. The listener is situated in a three-dimensional world where the deterioration of sound is equal to the creation of the content itself. A world of dampened acoustics, half destroyed spaces, dead room tones and manipulated environmental surroundings.”
Bonus beat time from Helix and Night Slugs, throwing down three heavy tools and technoid bass edits not found on the digital Greatest Hits releases.
On the A-side he gives up a Funky house-styled edit of techno anthem Lyot with the razing lead riff reworked to a dainty harpsichord over clipped, bolshy drums reminding of Roska, while the flipside brings a wicked, teched out grime instrumental called Pulse Tech BBL, and the tart, flanging funk of Spin Me Round Break V2.
This is the 2nd vinyl volley of bangers from Helix’s Greatest Hits volumes for Night Slugs.
Marking his return to the label in style, Helix heats up the A-side with sino-grime synth flutters and gully bass on Another Miami Jack Track, and twists into ruggedly elegant shapes with the almost psychedelic pressure of House Beat 2.
B-side leans heavy on the subs to kick off with the massaged pressure, cascading synth lead and lush choral voices of House Beat 3, and keeps the bass right below the belt with 5 7212016 2, a smart highlight appearing exclusive to this 12”, as far as we can make out.
Mokona advances from his early singles featuring Rapid and Youngster to broaden his sonic plate and scope with Love In Restricted Areas, which Templar sound describe as “being set in a private laboratory complex deep inside a forest, recorded during the summer after long nights of medical research.”
Drawing from grime, club music and anime soundtracks, he conjures an emotive sound oscillating the gamut between hard-edged club deconstructions, romantic synth themes and Ghost In The Shell-like 4th World/Sci Fi memes in a way that’s firmly compatible with recent Gang Fatale adventures.
B12’s Steven Rutter rolls out his first solo LP, Brainfog in the vaporous wake of his solo début, a dedication to the Chuckle Bro’s; From Me To You. Again the artwork is properly rum, but the sounds therein are dead lush, wide-eyed in that early ‘90s AI style Steven was instrumental in forging alongside Michael Golding.
In solo mode, it’s interesting to discern Rutter’s input to B12 through the sounds on offer, and it becomes clear that he’s in possession of the sweetest electronica soul. Between the electro soma of Sleep Gives Freedom, the cosmic Indian references of Memories of You, his sylvan acid techno slinker Infinity Engine, the weightless metrics of Binary Breakdown, and a classically B12-styled electro floater Hand In Hand, you’ve got some highly satisfying and timeless-sounding machine music.
A favourite of Four Tet’s, Entourage Ceremony of Dreams: Studio Sessions and Outtakes, 1972-1977 is a glorious portrait of the American ambient ensemble active in their early phase, shifting along the East Coast between Baltimore, Millbrook, New York, and back again.
Like their pair of Folkways releases, Untitled  and The Neptune Collection , the vibe is mostly free spirited, optimistic, utopian, but nicely held in balance with more wistful, melancholic flights of fancy, particularly on the two brooding parts of their soundtrack for a Danish theatre production of Cleopatra.
“Sampled by Four Tet, their name whispered in reverence through the decades, Entourage forged bold musical ideas on their two rare '70s Folkways LPs. Now, collected for the first time, 30 previously unreleased tracks from their archives. Notes by J.D. Considine, and by sole surviving Entourage member, guitarist Wall Matthews.”
KDJ parps up with his first 12” of original music in years, heralding an as yet untitled new album on the horizon for 2018.
Both sides are writ with Moodymann’s patented Detroit soul brilliance. On side A’s Pitch Black City Reunion (Recorded Somewhere In Detroit) he stirs up a killer house party jazz frisson from swinging hi-hats, devilish double bass, congas, rhodes and sax in a latinate fusion style, reserving a killer vocal until it’s achingly appropriate.
B-side, on Got Me Coming Back Rite Now he pulls the tempo right down to 100bpm for a more sultry vibe, laden with swooning strings and an instant classic vocal layering subtly autotuned R&B coos into a fine lather.
Felicia Atkinson makes her first solo move since the widely acclaimed 'Hand In Hand' album with this intimate, quietly surreal tape for Geographic North, unfurling two side-long works clocking in at over half an hour, written in dedication to Bartolemé Sanson and inspired by Atkinson's last voyage to New Mexico when she visited and took in the geographic landscapes from Taos to Ghost Ranch. The same vistas also inspired much of Agnes Martin's and Georgia O'Keefe's painting, as well as Jerome Rothenberg's poetry and translation's works.
Atkinson continues her journey in pursuit of a style that’s singularly hers, expressing a coolly contemplative and free sound connoting waking dreams and barometric flux in its gently fleeting play of light and space. Cosseted with ferric white noise, the A-side’s Lighter Than Aluminium sits with an iridescent smudge of double bass and a moire of radiant metals shimmering across the stereo field, laced together by trickling keys and lilting marimba until her signature semi-whispered narrative holds the centre and our attention in a tense juxtaposition with palpitating synth notes, resolving to a Badalamneti-esque piano coda.
On the B-side's Abiquiu she employs wistful melodica, flutters of polymetric percussion and warbling organ lines convecting amorphous space and conjuring imagery of dusky scenes, the ferric hiss becoming a chorus of cicadas surrounding her deliquescent performance as nocturnal pads draw in a canopy of starlit bleeps and crimson to deep blue hues...
Exceptional, highly evocative material from one of the most interesting artists working on the contemporary field.
The fourth in a series of six albums from The Caretaker cataloguing the effects of early-onset dementia. Featuring four extended, smudged and hallucinatory side-long pieces - the darkest and most immersive music from The Caretaker to date.
The Caretaker slips into the first “post awareness” stage of Everywhere At The End of Time. The ability to recall singular memories gives way to confusions and horror; the beginning of a process where all memories begin to become more fluid through entanglements, repetition and rupture.
Leyland Kirby connotes the transitory cognitive breakdown of moderate into severe late stage dementia; memories of the good times are recollected in picnoleptic flashes as the music struggles to follow consistent trajectories, instead fluctuating between a fractured mosaic of ideas and elusive emotive gestures, still occasionally able to gather coherent thoughts.
In aesthetic, the sieve-like mindstate of stage 4 vacillates a serene sort of psychedelia with utterly paranoid and petrifying mental subsidence. Smudged traces of sublimated music hall memories give way to shocking tracts of atonality and discord with runaway logic, perpetually tumbling farther into states of mind perhaps best compared with K-Hole-like dimensions or the babble of after-hours psychonautic journeys.
The concision of previous stages is here replaced with wandering, side-long tracts. Three of those are titled Post Awareness Confusions and correspondingly explore and reflect agitated mindsets as they navigate an ephemeral, confusing complexity of structures. The other piece is called Temporary Bliss State and starkly contrasts the other parts in a coherently lush traverse of ambient crackle and glittering melody…
Rafael Anton Irisarri's latest work was conceived as a sort of soundtrack to the "Midnight Clock or Doomsday Clock" — a symbol which represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. Recorded in 2017, when the Clock was at 2½ minutes-to-midnight (the second-closest to midnight since the Clock’s start in 1947), Midnight Colours permeates with the melancholy of memories resurfacing as you get close to the end of life: the regret, the closure, the uncertainty, the anxiety, and so on.
"The result is perhaps Irisarri's most moving and introspective work to date, unfurling a sort of epiphany symphony and sounding like a sunrise in slow motion. Irisarri experimented with the use of heavily "degraded" tape, played through a mis-aligned Otari 8-track tape machine that was constantly on the fritz. "I felt using tape gave the music a particular texture & character, like when you watch old news reels from the 1950's, you know those that talk about the H-bomb, and how we are all doomed," he explains.
Opening suite "The Clock" and "Falling Curtain" offer an elegiac dirge into the unknown, soldering on with humanity but pessimistic reality. "Oh Paris, We Are Fucked" retreats into a blur of mournful curiosity, while "Circuits" brings a glimmer of tragic hope. "Every Scene Fades" is brimming with eerie beauty and a distant, heaving rhythm that perfectly contrasts the morbid optimism of "Two and a Half Minutes." "Drifting" and "A Ruptured Tranquility" bring a soberingly sense of reality, closing out Midnight Colours harrowing narrative."
Nan Kolè and Citizen Boy’s GQOM OH! label check the roots, present and future of Durban, SA’s virulent, influential dance sound thru a class set featuring rare work by scene founder Griffit Solo, along with aces by his antecedents; DJ Lag, Naked Boys, Rude Boyz, and more.
The killer set hinges around Griffit Solo’s foundational Ree’s Vibe, an upfront killer whose exclusively percussive cadence almost reminds us more of Príncipe batteries, but also clearly contains the seeds of style which have become GQOM as we know it. Ree’s Vibe has understandably become a staple in the acclaimed sets of DJ Lag, who coincidentally hails from he same part of Durban as Griffit, and clearly takes a lot of inspiration from his sound. For comparison, just check Lag’s two contributions, Daisies and Momish to hear how he’s effectively alloyed Griffit’s rhythms with with droning strings and synths that have become one of Gqom’s defining features.
The rest of the set effectively explores the branches of those styles to varying degrees, ranging from the icy prods and mean vocal of Iphoyisa by Sbucardo da DJ - one of the Durban’s most respected - and his MC, Anomaly, thru to Naked Boys’ Sgubhu style on Storyteller or the crisply stripped Divorce, which reminds us of a rugged take on Afefe Iku’s yoruban house ace Mirror Dance, while Rude Boyz can be trusted to serve the darkest flex with the unyielding command of Umshunto.
With Wiley now claiming DJ Lag as his favourite DJ, we can hardly think of a better time to get properly acquainted with GQOM’s roots and future.
In February 2015, Japanese producer and sound designer Kuniyuki Takahashi, sometimes known as Koss, released the EP Newwave Project #2, a record that tapped some roots of his musical education: new wave, German electro punk from bands like Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, EBM from acts like Front 242, as well as industrial music, all styles Kuniyuki claims are his “favorite music”.
"Nearly two years after his first Newwave Project EP, he drops an album that is leaning towards his musical love from the past. Compared to his former work, which was rooted in worlds of classic, jazz, house, ambient, and electronic song-writing, his new tunes are full of melodic drifts and rhythmical shifts. As usual, all is loaded with tones and rhythms straight from the heart that filter and modulate human emotions without losing their natural source. To get a sound that is fresh but still leaning to the ’80s, he used some old synthesizers, like Roland Jupiter 8, Juno 60, Korg MS 20, and an old tape echo machine, but he also used newer instruments, like the Roland AIRA.
His modular synthesizers talk too. Sampled voices, and other alienated sound sources of unknown origin, inject otherworldly atmospheres into his new tunes. It is also evident that he is a fine instrumentalist, as Kuniyuki also plays piano, percussion, and flute on the album, if he felt their warm sound was needed for his freely grooving tracks. Some dance in house or techno outfits; other slam like a mix of funk and EBM.”
Spacemen 3 began assembling their third album, 1988's Playing With Fire, at perhaps the freest, most confident point in their career.
"Recording began with the band road-tested and rugged, even amidst the functional volatility that famously motivated their course. The sessions' first offering came in the form of "Revolution," a single of heroic Stooges-devotion and the most commercially successful release the group had to date. High expectations for the album were soon exceeded, as Playing With Fire would become Spacemen 3's crowning studio achievement and cement their rightful place on the vanguard of otherworldly rock 'n' roll.
An exquisite mix of stuttering tremolo guitars and wistful melodies, Playing With Fire sheds any trappings of revisionism and furnishes a nuanced grade of psychedelia. Epic entries like "Suicide" (named after the notorious NYC band) and the mesmeric "How Does It Feel?" catch Spacemen 3 at their celestial apex, the very point where their collective writing, performance and production would crest and wondrously splinter.”
Spacemen 3’s final studio recording, created under tense, pharmaceutically augmented conditions as the band begin to fall apart at the seams
They couldn’t even record in the same room by this point - and subsequently issued as their final album in 1990, prior to the early live demos of Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To.
Killer, previously unreleased DIY theatre soundtrack by the mastermind behind Belgian cold wave popstars Pas De Deux, released for the first time on vinyl via Ziggy Devriendt’s indispensible STROOM〰 label. It ncluded the rare peach 'De Zus van Adeline' off De Kreet’s 7” Dark In The Shadow, and slotting into their brilliant roster with an experimental confection of new wave pop, synth vignettes and roiling post-punk grooves.
“Theater De Kreet was a short lived theatre collective that existed between 1979 and 1981. In that period the troupe presented just one performance, a musical called 'Adeline' which had a run of six shows during 1981.
The members of Theater De Kreet were originally part of a bigger group called Grasgroen, which was founded by art history students from the Leuven University. The collective mainly focused on so called ‘animations’ in the public space. After a while, Grasgroen split into two different groups (theatre and performance), and Theater De Kreet came into existence. Its core members were Walter Verdin, Guy Dermul, Hilde Wils, Gaby Geysens and Nicole Boffin. Mainly using improvisatory methods, the collective started working on 'Adeline' in 1979. The premiere took place in October 1981 and was met with very mixed critical reviews. Walter Verdin was in charge of the music for 'Adeline'. Originally an art history and visual art student, Verdin was introduced to the Belgian music scene through his record sleeve and poster designs. Prior to the music for 'Adeline', he released a solo album and a 7” white man reggae project with Grasgroen ('Storingen' by Specimen & The Rizikoos). Later in his career, he had his biggest commercial success with Pas de deux, the band that represented Belgium at the Eurovision Song Contest in Munich (1983). After the Pas de deux adventure, Verdin gave up on popular music and had a blooming career in video art, working on video concerts and installations and later on with renowned theatre and dance companies from all over the world.
To write the soundtrack for 'Adeline', Verdin took to the studio of the Audiovisual Services of the KU Leuven, which was his audio and video laboratorium for around 20 years, and subsequently to the ICP Recording Studios in Brussels for post-production. Verdin & co. didn't compose behind a writing desk or a piano. Music for them meant playing - with an instrument, but also with non-traditional instruments. The spring of a desk lamp for instance, could be used to produce music too.
"In that period I was very much experimenting, making new material and using older stuff I had lying around. A lot of the music came naturally. Jean-Marie Aerts would be playing guitar in front of his TV for instance, and I would play along. Or I would just rhythmically move the handle of a flight case – clack, clack, clack – and he would play bass. That became “Lancement”. The melody and the lyrics for “De Zus Van Adeline”, for instance, were written by Guy Dermul, and I made the arrangement for the song.” Verdin's way of playing wasn't an execution, it was playing with sounds, with the technical possibilities of audiovisual equipment, and from this playing, the compositions you will hear on this record emerged.”
Terekke takes L.I.E.S. over the line with his sublime debut LP, Plant Age - the label 100th release. If you’ve been wowed by his handful of Terekke 12”s to date, take it on trust that this one’s his best so far. For everyone else, this is some of the loveliest, fugged-out deep house you’ll hear all year.
In the mould of his much loved singles, Plant Age finds the Amsterdam-based producer lushing out in eight ways, all linked by the classic spirits of deep, ambient and dub-house styles. It’s surely an analogue bubblebath for the soul - the kind of careful, caressing music to put on at any time of the day to ease your worries.
With xanax-like efficacy, he conducts a deeply anaesthetising drift from the watercoloured chords and elusive, Sprinkles-like bass on Tack thru cotton-built deep house in BB2 and delicicious, barely-there ambient structures in Swim, then sending gentle shockwaves thru the smoke with his doubles stepper Mix91, before pushing off into purely opiated 4th world zones in JQM, and kissing off with the aqueous smudge of Closer.
Avant-indie/post-rock hero and writer David Grubbs (Gastr Del Sol, Red Krayola, Codeine) gets to the core of his sound with the lyrically instrumental insight and poetic enigma of Creep Mission.
Issued just over a year and a summer since his Prismrose  LP, Creep Mission locates cult guitarist reprising a fruitful working relationship with in-demand drummer Eli Keszler, who provides percussion alongside electronic input from Jan St. Werner (Mouse On Mars) and Nate Woolley’s trumpet, all helping to unfurl a most compelling, elusive addition to Grubbs’ great American saga.
Grubbs’ nylon six string is front and centre, driving the narrative with a fluidity and plurality of voices worth three guitarists of similar talent, and with a cool virtuosity matched by Keszler’s deft drum fills, whereas the contributions of St. Werner and Wooley are reserved to subtle atmospheric presence for the most, but capably step in to set the whole thing at new angles when required.
Grubbs and Keszler make the perfect pairing in Skylight, opening the album like a mountain stream which, after snaking its way downhill opens out into roiling rapids buffeted by electronic squall and trumpet blare, before Mission Creep sets in with a jazz-wise curiosity that soon enough erupts into ragged raga-blues, and The Bonapartes of Baltimore - one of two solo pieces along with Jack Dracula In A Bar - finds him stripped back to succinct, emotive, nerve-braiding nylon string meditations, which he expands on with additional, woozy narration from Nate Wooley’s trumpet.
However the two biggest attractions for us come with the grubbing electro-acoustics of Jeremiadaic and the pitching abstraction of Return of the Creep, both cropping up at oblique angles in the tracklist to perhaps rouse listeners from getting too comfortable in the easy chair, as with the pranging, clangorous pointillism of the former, and the dissonant sludge/doom subduction zones that open up in the latter.
Ben Chasny’s (Six Organs Of Admittance) Hexadic system for composition is put to great, if beguiling use by the likes of Stephen O’Malley, Tashi Dorji, Richard Youngs, and Meg Baird a.o. on Hexadic III for the first time outside of Chasny’s Hexadic solo releases.
Based around a system of relating shuffled cards from a standard deck of playing cards to notes on a guitar, the system encourages the user to work within unusual tonal combinations, most often with uniquely “off-key” results that feel pretty damn strange for the listener.
The LP is inarguably dominated by one cut, Stephen O’Malley, Tim Wyskida and Marc Urselli’s Solastalgia, which eats up most of the B-side. Slowly churning up drums , electric guitar and abyssal bass, it features Sunn 0)))’s O’Malley working about as close to the OG Earth template as we’ve ever heard him, but also with a sleight, off-kilter spin that distinguishes it as something different.
Predictably, Richard Youngs also renders great results from the Hexadic system with his nerve-jangling eruption of keening distortion, while Phil Legard also impresses with a stark yet beautifully lilting work for organ entitled Zoa Pastorale.