Another addition to William Basinski's catalogue, "Variations For Tape & Piano" is an excursion through forgotten sounds and degraded memories.
"Comprised of one 44 minute track, Variation #9 'Pantelleria,' this archival release is one of my all-time favorites of the piano and tape variations from the early eighties. Using a lilting piano melody on a small loop, the requisite magic happened in the recording process when this particular loop would randomly slip along the play head revealing an extraordinary counterpoint (in reverse) on the other side of the tape. To me, this piece evokes a lazy Arcandian summer idyll, and will always remind me of an idyllic artist's residency in 2003 on the beautiful Italian island of Pantelleria."
William Basinski, June 2006. Stunning.
Bristol D&B hero DJ Die dishes up 8 of his classic cuts, remastered and repackaged on his Gutterfunk label
Worth a look in for the re-primed cuts of Die's classic rollers such as ‘Clear Skyz’ [Full Cycle, 1998], the militant steppers minimalism of ‘Play It For Me’ [V Recordings, 1995], and the smoked out ace ‘Reincarnated’ [Full Cycle, 1997].
Gilles Peterson spotlights a new draft of soulful cats from London’s burgeoning jazz and related scenes (and beyond) on the 13th volume of Brownswood Bubblers
All highlights in their own right, but for us a few really stand out: Al Dobson Jr.’s slick ‘90s R&B upholstery for Lynda Dawn’s ‘Move’ is right up there, as is the pointed hip hop of ‘No White God’ from Gaika collaborator, Oscar #Worldpeace, and the Spacek-like neo-soul vibrations of ‘Jury Judge Executioner’ by Alxndr London, another affiliate of Gaika’s The Spectacular Empire squad.
William Basinski's gorgeous 2003 album reborn on a remastered edition.
Rightly considered one of his finest works, 'Melancholia' employs similar techniques used on his now legendary 'The Disintegration Loops' to another stash of short tape loops he created in the early '80s. Across 15 short form pieces, his beautifully sparse and solemn piano figures become seductive silhouettes and haunting, recurring motifs rent in entropic relief, inception-like passageways into worlds within worlds, dreams within dreams, supernal memories coaxed from celestial bodies. Imbibe deeply and infrequently for optimal effect.
We Release Jazz presents its fourth release (following Ryo Fukui’s Scenery and Mellow Dream and Le Cercle Rouge’s soundtrack by Eric Demarsan), the official reissue of 1974’s Stuff Combe 5 + Percussion, a hard to find soul jazz jewel from a cast of illustrious jazzmen led by glorious Swiss drummer Stuff Combe.
"Recorded in Geneva, Stuff Combe 5 + Percussion finds Stuff Combe conducting an all-star ensemble consisting of Bob Jacquillard on bass, Francy Boland (The Chet Baker Quintet, arranger for Count Basie, Benny Goodman and the list goes on) on piano and electric piano, bebop and hard-bop legend Benny Bailey on trumpet, and Tony D'Adario on saxophone. The sessions ooze with funk, spaced out sounds, breathtaking solos, and moments of absolute collective wizardry. It’s soul jazz at its best with sci-fi and bossa excursions!
Born in Bern in 1924, Etienne Stephen Jean Gustave "Stuff" Combe had a wonderfully prolific career, playing all over Europe and the US and working with Buck Clayton, Bill Coleman, Stan Getz, Kenny Clarke, Oscar Pettiford , Art Taylor, Dizzy Reece, and Lucky Thompson just to name a few. He passed away in 1986, leaving behind a legacy that cemented him as one of the most important musicians in the history of Swiss jazz."
Background information is typically scant with this latest release from William Basinski's 2062 label, but what we do know is that it features re-discovered tape loops that have been re-crafted for a recent performance at the Montalvo Arts Center.
Clocking in at just under 50 minutes, "El Camino Real" is another one of those aural tapestries that Basinski seems to have an intuitive feel for - effortlessly piecing together elements that bring to mind everything from Arvo Part through to the Cocteau Twins without ever letting go of his own signature sound.
Because the source material for these loops has been de-graded and layered so heavily, it's hard to imagine where they could have come from or how they could have been made - all that we're left with are remnants of a ghostly voice dominating the undulating mix to harrowing effect. There's also something about this recording that brings to mind more recent contemporary musical experimentations, in particular the work of Liz Harris / Grouper - who makes use of a similar shoegaze aesthetic.
Dark blue bass functions from London’s Henry Greenleaf, pressing his debut 12” with Par Avion
Up top he works slack cowbells, offset bass and daubed chords into ‘Fold Together’ on a Parris-like tip, then recalling Beneath in the gullier stride of ‘Rolling Untitled’. Down below he runs the rugged suspension system of ‘The Way’, and a glancing, spiralling 2-step piece, ‘Half Under’.
‘So Right’ is a massive highlight of Marie Davidson’s blazing new album, ‘Working Class Woman’
On the original and its spanking new extended mix, Marie taps into a deep vein of Canadian synth-pop/garage-house/EBM, working ohrwurm vocals around a lean, muscular bassline, flickering rimshots and nimble dub chords in deadly simple but effective style.
John Talbot supplies a more sluggish ‘Pressure Dub’ remix working on a sort of druggy Go-Go bent. It’s not a patch on the OG, though.
A sought-after spiritual jazz slab recorded in 1981, now recut over 2 discs for optimal fidelity
“Another key document of the Los Angeles radical jazz underground, by way of Outernational Sounds.
A tour de force of spiritually energised independent jazz music, this is pianist and composer Kaeef Ruzadun Ali’s debut recording as leader of the Creative Arts Ensemble, as it emerged from Horace Tapscott’s legendary Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra,
PAPA mainstays like reedsman Dadisi Komolafe, drummer Woody ‘Sonship’ Theus and altoist Gary Bias are here; besides such veterans as Henry ‘The Skipper’ Franklin on bass, and George Bohannon on trombone. Kaeef’s sister B.J. Crowley provides visionary, sanctified singing.
Classic spiritual jazz, available again as an LP for the first time since 1981; with the recordings at full length on vinyl for the first time ever.”
After moonlighting on Planet Mu, Mr. Mitch comes home to Gobstopper with a wistfully romantic suite of UK-style electronic soul.
These are some of his most reserved, cooled-out and tender productions to date, moving from the nEurogenous synth strokes and talkbox riffs of ‘Restart’, thru the low-key electro R&B bumps of ‘Settle’, to the exquisite electro dembow tang of ‘Phantom Dance’ at the EP’s core, before introducing his own vocals in a way recalling Palmistry on ‘Show Me’, and catching a deep ambient house breeze with ‘Closure’.
Weapons grade remixes of The Soft Moon from a likely bunch of EBM, noise and industrial techno figures
Fresh from running amok with Ewa Justka and Manni Dee’s ‘London Isn’t England’, Ansome goes bare knuckle on ‘Burn’ with hospitalising results. Craow turns ‘Choke’ to rubble with unrepentant glee; ‘90s EBM producers Clément Perez and Daniel Myer a.k.a. Rendered remodel ‘It Kills’ as a whooping, galloping warhorse for taps aff in the dark room times; and The Horrorist does his grim NYC techno thing with ‘The Pain’.
In the pantheon of electronic music Terry Riley's 'A Rainbow In Curved Air' adorns a pedestal front and centre.
Taking inspiration from Hindustani classical music and the jazz techniques of Bill Evans and John Coltrane before him, Riley's minimalist psychedelic masterpiece can claim a direct influence on generations of musicians ever since, from the likes of Brian Eno at one end of the scale, right through to Oneohtrix Point Never or Emeralds at the other.
This "definitive remastered edition" portrays his pioneering tape delay techniques and virtuoso keyboard flurries in optimised glory, exposing the base root of so much Ambient, Techno, Electronic Pop and improvised experimentalism for oth first time listeners and those who who heard it first time around (anyone in between, too!). Includes both 'A Rainbow In Curved Air' and 'Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band'.
The third tape in the Stitch by Stitch series dives into deeply weird avant-pop, R&B, rap and dancehall mutations, squashed inbetween edits made by demdike especially for the series.
It’s on a proper outsider tip, feeding white noise into bassline bumps, looped horns crashing into choral refrains…gamelan transitions, extreme timbo>>araabmuzik MPC craziness, loping strings, ancient harps, bubblegum pop, garage punk, artificial intelligence, rochdale, burnley, salford..angular 2-step and curled flutes - joyous, deep and properly mind expanding.
Part four - due soon - will feature exclusively unreleased dark, colossal, abstracted brilliance - 100% demdike.
Debut drop of peaktime rave sizzlers from Chontane and joeFarr on London’s THEM label
Arriving in the glowing wake of 12”s by Gaunt and Borai, the ‘Red Island’ EP is the first showcase of Chontane’s sound, impressively rushing up with the boisterous but tempered breakbeat rave rudeness and trancing lead of ‘Cluch’, along with the slathering slammer ’Swet’, and the Reece bass-fuelled stepper ‘Nedelia’, while joeFarr round out with a rabid industrial techno remix of ‘Cluch’.
Dense, seething dread dub biz from Japan’s G36 for Kevin Martin a.k.a. The Bug’s Pressure label
Backing up G36’s solid instrumental for the last Pressure release, Nazamba’s ‘Vex’, the seismic original instrumental appears here in bad company along with the deadeye trample of ‘’Militant’, a grumbling beast named ‘Them Vs Us’, and the ten tonne steppers momentum imposed by ‘Mass Surveillance’.
Played by Kahn, Don Letts, JK Flesh, Ossia!
Natty, dubbed-out action from Sydney, Australia’s OTIS Records
Check for highlights in Ghosts of Bookar’s electroid steppers dub ‘Rings Around Saturn’, abnd the stuttering and spooling dub techno stepper ‘Connexion Dub’ by Sleep D.
Ecuador’a Mama Fala supplies the bewitching first release on Apocalipsis, the agency-turned-label run by Brooklyn-based reggaeton maven, Riobamba ov Dutty Artz and Discwoman fame
Epitomising the label’s ethos of “urbano storytelling for a ní aguí/ní allâ (neither from here/nor there) creation of place”, Mala Fama’s Anta weaves earthquake field recordings with native Ecuadorian voices and instrumentation to invoke a mesmerising, noisily-textured new spin on traditional folklore and brujería (witchcraft).
Working to the left of Elysia Crampton, Arca and Lechuga Zafiro, and like a distant echo of styles found on Príncipe, the five track of ‘Anta’ form a spellbinding sort of Latinx grimoir, drawing us in with the beat-less scene of swirling voices and zipping syn-flutes, before working up the rugged yet elegant, raging yet mournful pound of ‘Wawa Wañuy’, and even recalling Sub-Saharan grooves in the rasping folk dance of ‘Anónimo (Chimbapura)’, and really pushing off with the entrancing fusion of organic shakers, pipes, and chants with virulent synth arps wrapped up in ‘Llukshina’.
Erstwhile Coil guy Drew McDowell puts 50p in the meter for a 3rd batch of voluminous modular synth misshapes with NYC’s Dais Records
After testing out a mutant dancehall sound with Hiro Kone on ‘The Ghost Of Georges Bataille’, McDowell picks up where he left us with ‘Unnatural Channel’ , plumbing deep into the guts of his modular array to extract the most effluent and ungodly electronic prangs and machine gremlin voices.
A product of ritual, conceptual immersion, ‘The Third Helix’ projects 8 eight hallucinatory visions conceived for ritual immersion on the listener’s behalf, unravelling relatively simple units of sound into 3D webs of entrancing complexity along unfathomable spatial coordinates.
Depending your tolerance for vivid nightmares and psychotropic substances, the effect of ‘The Third Helix’ will vary from user to user, but in ideal conditions - dark room, inebriated, at night - it’s likely to induce the rarest sensations and push the most intent ears to the brink.
Bittersweet electronica and noisy bluster generated by Americanmen’s Steven Shade as Sevendeaths, leading on from 2017’s ‘Remote Sympathy’ album
“'When the end finally comes and the power goes out, once and for good, despairing folk will process out to fringes of their cities and towns and dump their dead machines there. Midden of junked tech – like wen, seething chemicals, festering metal and plastic, or like barrows, haunted by the wights of rampant code. Midden of junked tech that will keen for what has been lost. This is their music.'
Steven Shade returns to his Sevendeaths guise having spent the last year performing with writer and scholar Timothy J. Jarvis as the generative improv duo 'When Cut, the Present You Leaks Out Into The Future'. Shade takes a number of the approaches and tools from that project; contact microphones, looping machines, modular synthesis and granular sampling: using them to create the 5 longform semi-improvised pieces on FT4C.
As immersive as anything from his heralded 2017 debut album Remote Sympathy - Shade specialises in emotional surges and finding the ghosts within the machines.”
Reggaeton’s answer to Burial, Kelman Duran follows up his amazing ’1804 Kids’ album with a truly epic new LP of textured, emotive dembow, hip hop mutations and field recordings inspired by time spent on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota - site of the tragic Wounded Knee massacre. Completely blown away by this one...
‘13th Month’ is titled after the Lakota Native American community’s 13 month lunar calendar. It’s arguably a perfect title to reflect the poignant, mystic appeal of Kelman’s music, evoking a unique perception of time that’s key to his mix of ancient, rooted rhythmic nous and forward/sideward looking arrangements of cut ’n paste textures, voices and haunting electronics.
Like Burial, Kelman has an uncanny ability to connote an otherness and transport us into his headspace. With ’13th Month’ he offers something akin to a spiritual memory upgrade, using fine tuned powers of intuition to fluidly sculpt richly impressionistic scenes evoking the trampling fervour of the Ghost Dance, but purposely transposed to downtrodden people and sites of worship in the here and now.
Opening with a couplet of scrolling, collaged panoramas in ’13th Month in 3 Movements’ and ‘CLUB 664B’ that surely recall the more recent, expansively cut-up nature of Burial records, Kelman continues to map out a mosaic of more succinct pieces, grouting stripped down club rhythms with brooding moments of introspection and a spectrum of voices, from urgent to mournful and frankly alien Latinx styles.
And to use the Burial analogy respectfully again, like the South Londoner’s patented 2-step, Kelman’s dembow mutations are integral to the push and pull of his music. While it may take a bit of imagination to slot some of them in-the-mix, their brittle, skeletal structure and rugged function only heightens the inexorable yet sore, vulnerable appeal of his arrangements.
Perhaps the strangest element of this whole record for us, is the way it feels like we’ve heard it before - it’s so familiar, in a trippy, dreamlike sense. And maybe cheesy as it sounds, we’ve felt that deja vu before with first listens of Autechre’s ‘Incunabula’, AFX’s ‘SAW’ volumes, and the Burial albums, and it’s an instinct we’ve learned to listen to. There’s no mistaking this album is an absolute blinder. One of 2018’s very best.
Off-centre dance music full of liquified percussion and breezy electronics
“Tech Startup founder Rafael and Timothy Crombie, aka A Psychic Yes, fortuitously met on a Berlin dance floor in late 2017. A long digital correspondence between Berlin and Seattle culminated in the inaugural release of the Seattle-based Tech Startup label: TS000001. The project is comprised of 5 tracks built up from initial recordings of percussion, trumpet, and synthesizers honed into drum-focused dance pieces in the melancholy Berlin winter of 2018. Split in function between the two sides, Side A features dancefloor-ready tracks, while Side B contains introspective songs geared towards a home-listening environment.
Field recordings of Scottish stone slates accent the opening track Stone Sound, a tribal-leaning dancefloor cut highlighted by syncopated, pounding percussion and discreet melodies. The organic, sparse breakbeat track, Spacemaker, is cloaked in bright, hazy melodies. In Delicated, a series of melodic characters move around one another in a foggy electronic atmosphere. Aldhini Theme emerges as the standout track on Side B, with undulating modulated noise that slowly builds into
a hypnotic slow-burner resolving on a melody. Capping off the project is 12059, an unedited, meditative bliss of drones and trumpet.”
Príncipe’s Nídia, Brooklyn’s Beta Librae, and Object Blue rework Yaeji’s floaty house tracks in three unmissable ways
Most notably, we catch Nídia on a more reserved, low key flex, pairing the original vocal with bubbling acidic froth and mid-tempo Kuduro rhythms for a supremely breezy, playful workout, while Beta Librae keeps her end up on a percolated, swivelling rotation of the same elements executed with the dextrous delicacy found in her ‘Sanguine Bond’ album for Incienso, and Object Blue follows her cultishly acclaimed debut 12” with a rework set to bumping dembow breaks - a strong closer to a striong EP.
C93’s David Tibet confesses his recent night traumas in a deeply absorbing tapestry of serene chorales, spectralist classicism and half-heard oneiric narrations in ‘The Stars on Their Horsies’; a seamless, single 39 minute piece he describes as “Textually based around two NightMares I nightmared recently..."
Tibet also informs that this CD version will differ from the LP, which was issued at his Stockholm ‘Channelling’ in April, 2018, although we’re not sure how, other than that the CD is logically better to experience the work as an unbroken spell, and let the alchemy of his tonal juxtapositions and hallucinatory mixing work its magick, only occasionally revealing glimpses of Tibet’s dream from below the surface,
Posthuman present their first vinyl album since 2010’s ’Syn Emergence’ with ‘Mutant City Acid’ on their Balkan Vinyl label
On ’Mutant City Acid’ they tweak out Roland’s little grey box in 10 parts roving from the seamless acid house excursion of ‘Into Gestalt’ into ‘Nightride To New Reno’, before gradually diversifying their patterns with the slow electro-acid of ‘Gods of Technology’, and the canny transition from slow acid into purring 808 dreamscape with side C’s ‘junk Bonds’, ‘Raid On Kyoto Quarter’, and ’Shellworld Industries’, and again hoping from knackered acid to ruddy acid techno and jacked up pressure on side D’s ‘Abaskan Control’ into ‘Transit System Error’ and ‘Wishmountain’.
Wavey raver from SE16’s Flohio and wayward Berlin superstars Modeselektor
The MDSLKTR duo appear to take their cues from the recent Errorsmith album with a rugged sort of dancehall-techno bump, albeit with their patented melancholy lean, while Flohio scuds along with aggy bars about life and money.
Dazzling debut from Kahn, re-pressed.
'Like We Used To' is a powerfully built 130bpm swinger, stroking fragrant female vocal into orgiastic glossolalia over clipped 2-step and seasick subs copulating like Zomby and SBTRKT. 'Helter Skelter' is more exothermic, radiating stereo spirals of cascading lazer synths on a halfstep bump and grind akin to the recent Objekt 12".
Another highly enjoyable blast of Kiwi crud-rock, sounding like a gang of pals and their dog entertaining each other in the mid ‘90s. Which is exactly what it is. One minute it’s balls to the wall drum machines, the next its a detuned indie-pop ditty, and the next they’re sloping into drone rock hypnosis. Music from another time and place entirely. Ace!
“A dogroll is a cheap giant sausage of bad meat to feed your pets. Teen-X-Ray came from Hamilton, New Zealand, which is known for agricultural innovation, frosts, fog and Taniwha in the Waikato river. Live cows with windows permanently inserted into their bodies for research live on the edge of town. As Stefan "Smetal" Neville recalls: "Glen Frenzy asked me to join his new 'rock n roll' band Teen-X-Ray at a ska concert at the Hillcrest Tavern in Hamilton in 1993. He had probably already recorded most of the first cassette The Ballad Of Vince Neil using the karaoke sound on sound function of his flat-mates stereo. Then and now I would do anything Glen asked of me so I've been in X-Ray ever since."
Glen also recruited Dusk, his girlfriend's German Shepard who howled when she heard sirens. She would bite and claw at Casio keyboards. She didn't share her dogroll. Teen-X-Ray recorded their music on cassette decks, performed on top of kitchen tables and released many tapes on the Plop, M60 and Stabbies And The Rocket labels. Glen and Dusk got a reel-to-reel tape machine, moved to Upper Hutt, making noise long into the night. Dusk got into Neil Young and killing mice while Glen got into home brewing beer and computers. Stefan Neville moved to Dunedin but Upper Hutt became his favorite holiday destination and each visit would result in new albums. Upper Hutt is known for its pig hunting and for producing New Zealand's first hip hop group. Spirits Dogroll was compiled from recordings from 1994-1996. Teen-X-Ray is still active today.”
Charmingly raw as heck Kiwi Rock from mid ‘90s Dunedin - the crucible of Antipodean audness. Originally a tape edition of only 3 copies, the febrile drums, wickedly rudimentary guitars and sozzled vocals of ‘Leisure & The Elderly’ is a triumph of expression over technique
“As reported by Stefan Neville: "Clayton 'CJA' Noone and Jon 'Sugar Jon' Arcus are some of my oldest and dearest friends. I've been listening to their band Armpit pouring out infinite sweat and toe jams for 20+ years and I still can't work out what Armpit even is. They are the wrongest band I've ever heard. We were all part of the same gang in early 1990s Hamilton, New Zealand. Armpit would always happen in rooms next door. They would keep me awake with the eternal strumming of bad guitars through bad equipment, bottles falling over, people falling over, things catching fire and always lots of giggling. I saw them play at a party once where they were too wasted to plug in their guitar pedals. They wrestled with them giggling for about ten minutes and then gave up. They didn't make a sound but it's one of the greatest concerts I've ever seen. Their recordings are always confusing. They display their deepest awful humanity and their sweet, sweet hearts, all in the same mouthful. Scorched hateful noise, incompetent absurdity, smoochy crooning folk songs with poignant words and brutal sausage fingered editing to highlight the horror and hilarity. Leisure & The Elderly was recorded in Dunedin in the mid-1990s. Jon was doing a nursing foundation course and learned to simulate giving a skinhead a sponge bath. A classmate gave him some of her tortured poetry so Armpit blended it with a nursing textbook and disappeared into the room next door to record the album in one go, ping-ponging recordings with two tape decks."
Grade A, Kiwi crud smeared on wax for Italy’s intrepid Planam. Three parts outsider gunk hacked up and weathered to a nub. Not for the half-hearted or casual listener.
“Soibiast Anti-Culler was recorded in 1995 by the winterless north of New Zealand's Witcyst. Another monolithic skid mark serving of crackers plucked from the man's vast lifetime archive of sound making and beard. Witcyst makes his music with oceans of constant daily mutation. Machines get used upside down and back to front and inside out. Layers of string, tin foil and expired medicine are saved up to dazzle the eye. Parcels in the post come and go full of nostril hair and pamphlets and wool. What would that sound like through a funnel and a heavy metal pedal? Is the room shrinking? One knock for yes. Two for no. This audio is severely distressed and swollen. It is particularly buried and murky and howling here. Are they voices or organs? Meat or musical instruments? Is that a drum solo or decades of tape degradation? Are the hums musical or malfunctioning? It starts to sound like it was recorded inside your brain and has always been there. Who knows if it means any harm? And then it starts to sound like a basket full of wise puppies. Soibiast Anti-Culler is one of the most relevant works among at least a thousand albums Witcyst has originally released on cassettes and CDR's on his own Extemporaneous and Lifespace labels since the early 1990s.”
Housed in some of the maddest packaging we’ve seen in years, Little Skull’s ‘Ubique’ drifts and drones with an effortless, natural quality that gently colours the air around you. There’s a rich New Zealander soul at work in this one...
“One more top mysterious trace from the Little Skull legacy: Dean Brown's album Ubique (i.e. "everywhere" in Latin) marks the passing of time and people. This sense of loss is very present through the whole record; not getting around to saying the things we meant to say and making sense of the leftovers. Screaming calmly, Dean Brown's Little Skull has shrunk, even more, until his head is almost just sore meat - this music sounds like it was made to soothe that inflammation. Currently living in the UK, Little Skull is Dean's long running solo project. He plays all of instruments, even if it sounds like he is barely touching them and yet, his obscure personal fingerprints are all over the place.
His instinctive spontaneous playing finds ways to make them glow and fizz and ripple. The very complicated hand-made cover is astonishing. It incorporates religious imagery and patron saints expanding in space and creating a three-dimensional architecture filled with mysterious presences. Dean Brown is a New Zealander from Hamilton. A joke city to much of the rest of New Zealand, but its feral mongrel out-of-it-ness is well known to those that have lived there. Dean coped with Hamilton through his bands Negative Eh and Nova Scotia and then buggered off to other cities and other countries.”
Despite the break, this album can be seen as a direct follow-on from his previous Drag City albums - most closely resembling 1997's Bad Timing given its lack of vocals and the continuous passages of steel-strung acoustic guitar-led arrangements.
This all adds up to a seriously exciting release; Jim's cycle of Drag City albums (this being the first not to take its name from successive Nicolas Roeg films - following that logic this one should have been called Castaway) is one of the most revered bodies of work in American alternative rock. As this latest addition to that canon starts up, one of the very first things to strike you is that the production and mixing are undertaken in a fashion that is (to say the least) highly unusual by today's standards.
Seldom do you hear so much dynamic breadth in a contemporary record; this is not one of those releases that's had every ounce of life compressed out of it, instead O'Rourke leaves the quiet parts quiet and the loud parts... marginally less quiet. This is an album that's made according to old-fashioned principles, presented with vintage levels of clarity and warmth that benefit from being turned up for full appreciation. A decent amount of cranking will reveal countless layers of instrumental threads, and according to the great man himself there are around two hundred tracks used up in the recording of The Visitor - and that's two hundred tracks he's played himself. Given the long break, it's easy to forget just how brilliant a musician O'Rourke is; his production skills (as demonstrated on records by Wilco, Sonic Youth, John Fahey and Joanna Newsom among many others) are well documented, but since 2001 it'd be all too easy to think of O'Rourke's musical output as being restricted to occasional drone pieces, or the odd film soundtrack here and there for pals like Werner Herzog and Olivier Assayas.
The Visitor is a comeback of heroic proportions however - an auditory feast featuring acres of guitars, immaculately pieced together percussion elements, and all kinds of subtle yet elaborate arrangements for strings, horns and keyboard instruments. John Mulvey really hit the nail on the head when he recently described this as "a kind of folk symphony, a heavenly realisation of modern composition rescored for Laurel Canyon habitués", and it certainly feels every bit as substantial and gratifying as that assessment alludes. Don't leave it so long next time, please Mr O'Rourke.
Maverick producer Jim O’Rourke’s ‘Insignificance’ sees him in more ‘rawk’ mode.
The opener, ‘All Downhill from Here’ alone pops a hilarious pie into the face of your average O’Rourke follower’s expectations. It’s a red herring too, of course, because in Jim’s hands the screaming love of rock n’roll is still not just “only rock n’roll.” Instead, ‘Insignificance’ consists of rock plus: multiple musical allusions, layers of discreet noises, great playing from all the players and, to top it all off, funny pop-rock tunes laced with lyric arsenic.
‘Insignificance’ widens the screen of the O’Rourke sound, along the way you'll find a riff or two that one can truly ride. There’s more than one classic invitation for the lead vocalist to sneer and shout over it all - but of course, our Jim prefers instead more to murmur and moan quite melodically, to most sensual effect. There’s a spacious ballad to cool you down, then another one of those sick love songs in the mold of ‘Halfway to a Threeway,’ as well. Cut quickly with a skeleton crew after two years of indecision, ‘Insignificance’ brims with a newfound ‘immaturity’.
“A musing on popular standards and an all-instrumental down mainstreet, USA. Come for the history lesson, stay for the coming of age statement! Jim's pop epic is a personal message, personally from Jim to you.”
Jim O’Rourke’s much loved country rock album Bad Timing  is now repressed on vinyl for the first time following its 20th anniversary of release. Recorded at Steamroll, the same site as his more explicitly avant-garde conceptions, this album is a subtler exploration of acoustic country rock proper, where O’Rourke only occasionally flashes his experimental teeth, gently ruffling the feathers of America’s sincerely loved down-home style in four breezy, extended works of lyrical guitar playing.
Alga Marghen present this new edition - a vinyl-only first release of Eliane Radigue's pivotal, previously unreleased 'Opus17' - her last work made with feedback material.
It's one of the strongest, if not definitive, examples of Radigue's tactile and meditative approach to composition, an engrossing, intuitive refinement of the techniques and practice she honed over prior years at RTF's Studio d'essai under the guidance of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry's Studio Apsome, and later at the New York University School of the Arts. Created at the Fête en blanc - White Festival - in Verderonne on May 23, 1970, 'Opus17' breaks down to five pieces making up a voyage to the heart of the drone. Using various early tape techniques, Radigue meticulously peels the source samples in a discreet microcosmos of morphing, moebius-like loops and shimmering overtones, rendering their vibrational energy and unique accents with a poetic, dreamlike quality.
It opens with a shock on the 19 minute self-portrait of 'Etude', where she gradually transforms a looped passage of Frederick Chopin into an opiated, howling ghost of itself using practically identical microphone and tape feedback procedures to those on Alvin Lucier's 'I Am Sitting In A Room' (although it should be noted that she wasn't aware of this at the time), whilst 'the shorter 'Maquette' applies the same technique using a part of Wagner's 'Parsifal', but this time with the sample subtracted leaving only a spectral trace of grandeur.
Following this, we're floored by the roiling pulsations of 'Epure' - a sort of rudimentary pre-cognition of industrial and minimal techno building palpitating throbs into a dense yet delicate and ferric-rich flux, sharing rhythmic similarities with the aptly titled trip of 'Safari', where elliptic bass patterns melt and congeal in morphing shapes and curdled overtones with an alien, otherworldly quality presaging the like of Rashad Becker. Yet, the ultimate exposition of Eliane's time-dilating technique is found in the 22 and a half minute panoramic excursion 'Number 17', examining her sonic phenomena at microscopic level, homing in and expanding on its globular bass shapes and radiant harmonics.
Even by Radigue's standards, this is a breathtaking body of work, opening up whole worlds of sound from so little.
Astonishing archival works by Eliane Radigue, originally released along with Vice-Versa as a double pack, and now available as standalone LP. Listening to Radigue's music is a transformative, humbling experience. Her singular sound is best described by Michel Chion as "infinitely discreet... next to which all other music seems to be tugging at one's sleeve for attention."
Working since the late '50s under the tutelage of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry at RTF's Studio d'essai - the birthplace of musique concrète - Radigue created a body of work whose profound simplicity has only begun to be widely appreciated over the last decade or so. Preferring to work at night - once her children were asleep - her compositions were created using tones derived from an ARP 2500 synthesizer and manipulated on multiple tape machines, creating feedback loops and altering their pitch and duration to coax out quavering microtonal harmonics and ultrasound frequencies not usually perceived at their normal setting.
As practically anyone who knows her music will testify, there's really very little else out there that compares to the elemental tranquility and hallucinatory effect of her works. This album rescues three pieces from original tapes which have lined the walls of her flat in Paris for over 40 years: proposed for the 1970 Osaka Fair, 'Stress-Osaka' (1969) is beautiful and terrifying at once, sounding either like a 1000 strong squadron of B-52's heard from miles away, or a mouth-bound choir humming in unison, somehow subliminally joined by shrill gull-like hi-end repetition; the spectral beauty 'Usral' (1969) was employed for a kinetic sculpture by Marc Halpern, it's title "...a phonetic compression of ultrasounds slowed-down (ultra-sons ralentis in French)" reflecting the use of slowed-down Larsen effects from overlapping tapes to obtain her signature "progressive a-synchronized shifting"; the systolic suspension of 'Omnht' (1970) (one more night) is twenty minutes of slowly encroaching black bass mass and isolated, glassy highs, originally played from behind false dividing walls at a gallery instal and now leaving us for six.
An absolute masterpiece.
‘Kwaidan’ is a spellbindingly curious study in the “lost" art of Japanese ghost story-telling and horror folklore, marking the sublime first release on Singapore’s bijou Evening Chants imprint.
Inspired by living in Kyoto for the past two years, ‘Kwaidan’ - a form of Japanese ghost story - is focussed on musically crafting a form of “Japanese Mood”, or Meitei. Taking this word as his moniker, Meitei becomes his subject in a pointed effort to revive or at least keep this artform alive, using a combination of frayed, enigmatic backdrops to tactfully limn a specific mood.
The delicate approach and febrile, shapeshifting results recall to our ears the subtly suggestive sound sets of Sugai Ken as much as Jan Jelinek at his dreamiest, conjuring winding passages of crackle and shimmering subaquatic chords, finding beauty lurking in the low key and peripheral, spectral and metaphysical realms...
Re-press of the third single from Bristol's Punch Drunk imprint.
Heading away from the 4/4 crossover of "Erstwhile Rhythm", RSD comes to us from Bristol luminary Rob Smith (Smith & Mighty) here operating under the suitably abridged RSD moniker.
The Rootsy vibe has been retained, with A-Side cut "Corner Dub" shuffling into a steppas vibe with traditional stabs and echo-chamber vocals, although the bass and snare have definately been borrowed from the dubstep template circa 2007. "Pretty Bright Light" on the flip is much more robust and menacing, there's a breakbeat somewhere in the mix but it's obscured by enough bassweight and wobblestep to make it more or less unoticeable.