Mineralist techno from Mike Parker, leaving his debut mark on Tresor after some 20 years of productions for his Geophone label and earning rarely paralleled respect as a proper techno DJ.
The Disintegrating Sand EP contains some of Parker’s tightest productions, none more so than the triplet tweaking, nerve-pinching drive of the title track, but also in the scudding subaquatic signals of Angels in Cages and slamming, pneumatic velocity of Gyroscopic Precession.
Boris Bunnik (Silent Harbour, Versalife) bangs out four hi-wire techno pounders under his prolific Conforce alias.
TKY boots up with a stylishly deep and powerful piece of intense 4/4 sound design; Reverse pivots on a tangled, juicy square bass with ricocheting claps; P.O.D. nods to the Christian nu metal pioneers from a whole new perspective; and we find the biggest highlight in the atmospheric lightshow and bouncing, offbeat kicks of Similar Twinkling Lights which bring up the rear like some mutant Detroit dazzler.
Pris steps out of the shadows on his Unbeknown To Us label with a cold follow-up to his shots on Avian and Resin.
The styles on Unbeknown02 sit somewhere between Blue Hour or recent Rrose plays in the weightlessly heady Proving Ground and the gritty texture of Lust, whereas Devotion slows down to a creepy crawl with psychoacoustic trickery, and Lost gets back on it with a shiveringly good sort of EBM techno momentum.
Still fizzing from collaborations with Mika Vainio, Reinhold Friedl and Matthew Bourne in the last 12 months, Franck Vigroux gets down to some gnarly solo business with Rapport Sur Le Désordre, or Report of Disorder, which also forms part of the soundtrack to his Centaure A/V show with video artist, Kurt D’Haeseleer (as also heard in his EP for Shapednoise’s Cosmo Rhythmatic label).
Rapport Sur Le Désordre offers suitably severe closure to a series steeped in the dystopia of Eugène Zamiatine’s novel, We, including the albums Camera Police and We, plus the radio piece, D503. It ties off all their themes of state surveillance, industrial paranoia and surreality in an eight part navigation thru infernal distortion, heavily Vainio-esque boulder beats, and sheets of blinding hot electrical disturbance that shock its creaking megastructures to life.
Peder Mannerfelt continues to exert the strongest grip on 2016 with an uncompromising, killer rave pack for Joy O & Will Bankhead’s Hinge Finger.
Gurning at the heels of his amazing Controlling Body LP and nipping just in front of an almighty Numbers 12” (seriously, watch that one), he puts some formidable studio weight and experimental nous behind each of these four productions.
Cry To Your Soul arches up an array of modular scree and dismantled piano hooks that leave the dance riddled and bent, before Clear Eyes, Full Heart brings the rave at full tilt, effectively doing Neil Landstrumm’s ragga techno rave thing with a far more succinct, effective torque and optimised sense of minimalism.
Flipside he takes that minimalism one step further into the skewed lead and swanging bump of Savvy, which sounds something like Mr. Oizo cubed by Errorsmith, and The Great Attractor evacuates your head far out into the modular abyss.
Will Long X DJ Sprinkles’ journey to the heart of deep house culminates in the third and final volume in a series of three, offering the broadest yet most subtle, spine-tingling session of the lot, presenting the former’s raw and ‘floor-ready originals backed by the latter’s inimitably sumptuous overdubs.
Conceptually rooted in the queer, black politics of NYC’s late ‘80s and early ‘90s house scene - where Terre Thaemlitz cut her teeth as DJ Sprinkles - the series can be viewed as a vital reminder of that scene’s original values and sense of social democracy, especially when contrasted with the glut of contemporary, commodified representations of that music which sorely miss the mark, or weren’t even aware of the scene’s provenance to begin with.
Make no mistake, though; this is no lecture or snub at younger producers making deep house. Rather, it is evidence of the original form’s latent potential to still generate rare, precious feelings which have been lost or glossed over with subsequent, detached and over-produced translations of its original syntax and intent.
“Deep” is the key word here on many levels, from their poignant use of historical samples by civil rights pioneers Bayard Rustin, Jesse Jackson and Kathleen Cleaver, to the unfiltered innocence of Will Long’s productions and Sprinkles’ corresponding, pensile overdubs, which make utterly incredible use of the frequency spectrum to reveal acres of space in the upper registers and, on the other hand, an honestly breathtaking application of layered subbass tones that are just impossible to describe.
This one's a little bit special...
These two Berliners will no doubt be very much familiar to regular readers of these pages.
S Blumm is one of the most prolific experimental instrumentalists/producers out there, racking up countless releases, both solo and collaborative, for labels like Morr Music and Staubgold, Nils Frahm must surely rank as a young upstart alongside this esteemed veteran, but with only a couple of releases under his belt, the acclaimed pianist and composer has soon ascended to the upper echelons of contemporary neo-classical performers.
The two musicians are on unbroken ground for this collaboration, combining forces for a sophisticated, yet meandering selection of pieces that takes in avant-garde sound design and new composites of archived instrumental recordings (pooling together cellos, trumpets, vibraphones and other such elements). 'Heber' showcases the album at its very best, with Frahm latching onto a pensive, jazzy sensibility that finds a willing foil in Blumm's angular acoustic guitar contributions. Here Frahm methodically seems to feel his way around the keys as if he were discovering them for the first time, stumbling across sweetly suspenseful harmonic sequences as he goes. 'Writing Letters To Myself' marks another high point: it's similar in tone, but calls upon a small ensemble's worth of instruments. Conversely, 'Onward Onward' feels like a very lonesome affair, being quickly stripped of its broader arrangement in favour of twinkling melodies plotted out on celeste as if they were on hiatus from The Nutcracker Suite.
Fans of either artist will find something to love here, whether it be in Frahm's relentlessly expressive keyboard performances or Blumm's searching electro-acoustic arrangements.
Kode9 and Toby Heys' sonic research unit delves into untold sonic histories in this custom triple gatefold containing 112-page book, 180g clear vinyl record, and six 12" x 12" Dead Record Archive cards. None of these components are available to buy separately and the Box Set has been made in a limited run of just 256 copies, never to be re-pressed. Artwork by Optigram.
'Martial Hauntology' is the groundbreaking first release on AUDiNT Records - the sonic research cell staffed by Toby Heys and Steve Goodman (Kode 9) engaged in 3rd Ear Research. The pair have both independently worked in this field - Goodman via Hyperdub, the autonomous CCRU unit and his 'Sonic Warfare' book; Heys thru his audio-visual praxis and as research fellow at Manchester Uni.
They were both recruited by AUDiNT in 2008 to investigate the properties of newly emergent super-directional speakers when coupled with infrasonic devices. Four years in the making, 'Martial Hauntology' collates that research for the first time, as well as outlining the history of AUDINT itself, offering a tortuous, hyperstitional account of frequency-based phenomenon in military and civilian spheres over the preceding 70 years. It explores the involvement of Alan Turing and The Ghost Army's pioneering use of 3 deck mixes in World War 2, thru the chopper-mounted loud-speaker terror of the US army's Wandering Soul campaign in Vietnam, to the deployment of High Frequencies as "teen repellants”, the military applications of muzak and the current use of hyper-directional LRAD speakers in Iraq.
Alongside the 112-page book you’ll find a vinyl record encoded with two 20 minute chapters sound-scaped and written by Goodman and Heys and narrated by Ms.Haptic, presenting a unique reading of the affects of sound on 20th and 21st century populations. The first side of the LP features a mid-20th century spectral research mission across the Atlantic assisted by an illicit truth serum, while Side 2 goes on a ghost hunt in the vinyl recycling plants of South China. We can trace echoes of the project in the cultural, socioeconomic and geopolitical studies of Sadie Plant's 'Writing On Drugs' book and Adam Curtis' far-reaching documentaries as much as the speculative sonic fiction of Kodwo Eshun's 'More Brilliant Than The Sun', Graham Hancock's unconventional theories on altered states of consciousness, metaphysics and civilisation, and even the emergent field of archaeoacoustics.
The project seems intended to galvanise and better help us understand the liminal realms of sonic perception where truth is often stranger than fiction, steeling us to a foreboding future of state-sponsored subliminal manipulation and psycho-acoustic warfare...
Second in a series of three releases, a 45 Minute doublepack featuring some of the most engrossing House music you'll likely hear this year or any other...
We’re still dazed from the 1st volume, but Will Long and DJ Sprinkles have already cued up their 2nd session, with Mint / Clay landing handsome on Terre Thaemlitz’ Comatonse.
The format and aesthetic remains the same as Vol.1, namely two raw pieces by Will Long, backed with extended overdubs by Sprinkles amounting to thee deepest house this side of Larry Heard’s nuclear love bunker, all subtly executed and held up as a comparison to the aesthetics and intentions (or, ironically, the excess and lack of) of that sound in relief of current, conceptually-detached takes on the original NYC deep house sound which Sprinkles was instrumental in shaping as a downtown DJ during that formative era.
Again, Will Long, who’s best known for his experimental ambient work as Celer, proves that it ain’t what you’ve got but what you know and can do with it that matters. Under-Currents places sparing samples of T.R.M. Howard - a mentor of Jesse Jackson - amidst a dream sequence of carbonated hi-hats and lingering chords urged by a plump bass drum, whilst Get In & Stay In nods to civil right activist and current Georgia congressional representative John Lewis in a lush haze of crepuscular chromatics and loping swing.
On the flipsides, DJ Sprinkles contributes another pair of incredible overdubs, lending Long’s minimal elements a richer, fleshlier feel, whether with additional breakbeats or nimbly lowering the bass and layering up spirited flutes and Rhodes. Suffice to say, they're absolute mind-melters.
Quite crucially, the concept never gets in the way of the music, perfectly demonstrating the symbiotic nature of the music and politics in the way we imagine they intended; I mean it’s not like they want you to sit in a corner of the club pondering their ideas, but they’re definitely worth bearing in mind, especially for the DJs, dancers and promoters who act as gatekeepers for this music.
45 Minute doublepack featuring some of the most engrossing House music you'll likely hear this year or any other - First in a series of three releases pairing original material by Will Long with DJ Sprinkles’ overdubs.
Tokyo, Japan-based American artists, Will Long and DJ Sprinkles, present sublime, durational deep house studies examining the dancefloor in light of contemporary socio-political inequalities and failed illusions of ‘Revolution’ and ‘Progression’.
It begins a series of three vinyl sets and eventually a 2CD package that effectively compare deep house’s original, economical aesthetics and function as the soundtrack to marginalised society, with its current position; repackaging and overproducing the same old ideas with empty sloganeering, operating as the catalyst of social trends, rather than an agent of social transformation.
They both make their point subtly but clearly. Two sides feature extended 10+ minute tracks by Will Long, created using relatively minimal means of rhythm composer percussion, polyphonic synth chords, and rack sampler vocals, while the other two sides provide overdub Sprinkles versions.
The beautifully absorbing results - which sound miles away from Long’s gentler ambient and experimental work - prove that it is possible to elicit subtle yet optimal responses with a well-selected palette of grooves and samples, in this case from Jesse Jackson and Rap Brown, rather than current vogue for showmanship and more-as-more arrangements.
DJ Sprinkles' overdubbed contributions quite literally and psycho-acoustically resonate that intention, tactfully rending a farther, lush physicality and soulfulness thru deftly applied daubs of glutinous subbass pressure, airy strings and subtly shimmering FX, really offsetting Long's trax in a whole other dimension; and via disciplined, stripped-down, full-bodied production values that rank as perhaps the deepest yet in Sprinkles’ already perfectly formed canon.
They could be taken as a call for humbleness and meditative efficiency over cliched buildups and preening vanities, perhaps a comment on “deep" house as the equivalent of a fresh tattoo or sweatshop t-shirt slogan.
Because, you know, it really does stand for a lot more.
Nightwave picks up Muscovite producer Alexey Devyanin a.k.a. Pixelord for two mutant breakbeat and techno hustles on her Heka Trax label, backed with broken beat and jungle remixes from Otik and FreshtillDef.
Pixelord’s Heart.Beat is a busy thing, riddled with itchy, pendulous rhythms and jabbed by gynoid vocals, whereas Twisted Zone is less frantic, more broodingly bruxist.
Otis’s remix of the former is compatible with swanging Peverelist styles, and FreshtillDef sends the latter skidding on footwork-jungle bambi legs.
Manny’s Alex Coulton stretches out within closely defined tribal/bass/techno parameters on his most substantial payload to date.
Firming up a fruitful relationship with Tempa, Gamma Ray Burst is a fine collection of minimal, serpentine rollers and swingers built with devilish attention to the details that matter in the club.
The title tune sets a simmering pressure, vacillating salty noise with swooping subs and vaporous congas like some impish Shackleton joint, followed by the boot-quaking depth charges and dread techno heft of Ground Zero, and working with what sounds like bhangra breaks in the lean, muscular flex of Alpha Decay.
Phase Two is possibly the iciest of the lot, and quite compatible with your steeliest Simo Cell, Kowton or Batu rollers, whereas the final two allow shafts of dub chord light to penetrate the darkness of his cold echo chamber in Ascent and the slinky but viscous Distant Resonance.
Trippiest bum bum box styles from Santiago, Chile’s Aye Aye, a new name to Cómeme, contributing four distinctive dancefloor aces ranging from the Mr. Oizo like electro crunch and New Beat-style vox of Wila Wila and the Yopo Freestyle mix, to strong fusions of native drum patterns and heavy-lidded pop in The Kukuli Wave, or murky slow EBM on Yawrinkha Wrong Yuqa.
Clinically sharp dubstep artillery from TMSV, who appeared on the last Rua ace, and now shares their 3rd release with yung gun, Taiko.
TMSV charges up a stinging piece of halfstep entitled Shot and unloading some of the nastiest mid-range slashes and vocoder ragga chat that we’ve heard from the scene in ’16.
Relative noob Taiko flashes some serious chops on the flipside, too. Bang Thing is a cold, hollow-tipped bullet hingeing on iced-out grime drums and stabbed up with mutable, belly-creasing synths, balanced only just by the appearance of a female vocal luring us into its abyssal breakdown.
Opal Tapes get back to their noisier roots with a slaughtering session from Tokyo-based english harsh noise miscreant Kenny Sanderson a.k.a. Facialmess.
What to expect? Your innards, systematically removed, stomped on, and slapped against the cold walls of an abattoir before being fed thru your gran’s rusty mince maker, the pink mush then fed back into your still conscious head after you’ve watched the whole bloody ordeal take place before you. RIYL pain.
Nathan Fake unveils one of 2016’s most unexpected collaborations in DEGREELESSNESS feat. Prurient, backed with a more typical sort of woozy, wood-cut stepper called Now We Know.
With DEGREELESSNESS Fake takes a sharp left right turn deep into undulating dub noise threaded with ghostly techno pulses and Dominick Fernow a.k.a. Prurient’s unearthly mutterings. The results aren’t a million miles from Fernow’s Vatican Shadow output, but differ in the fact that he’s hardly, if ever, used his own vocals in that context. And, in that sense it effectively lands somewhere between VS and Prurient’s still sore dancefloor incursions such as Through The Window or his hook-ups with Ugandan Methods for Downwards.
On the other hand, you’ll find a more familiar Nathan Fake sound in the glancing, wooden swing and feathered chords of Now We Know, which are much more compatible with your Four Tet or Gold Panda records.
Strange but true.
True to form, Boston-based label Cultures of Soul is set to release a compilation of obscure disco from a far-flung corner of the world. After forays into India and Brazil, they now turn their attention to South Africa.
"South Africa is home to a dizzying variety of musical genres and traditions, including some that look directly to American sounds for inspiration. In the late 70s and early 80s, many of the country’s best young musicians were guided by funk. All over the world, disco was growing harder and more electronic, with new synthesizers entering the market every month.
The southern tip of Africa was no exception. Global music industry geo-politics, however, aided by the country’s pariah status and a UN-sanctioned cultural boycott, prevented the vast majority of this music from ever being heard outside the country, nor ever being released on CD or digitally. Until now. Compiled by Cultures Of Soul head honcho Deano Sounds in collaboration with Johannesburg-based DJ Okapi from the Afro-Synth blog and record store, Boogie Breakdown serves up two tracks apiece from six seminal acts from the era - Harari, The Cannibals, Neville Nash, Benjamin Ball, Don Laka and Al Etto – to offer a glimpse into this long-forgotten era in African music history.
A period of true innovation and new possibilities – as well as isolation and political instability – the early 80s in South Africa saw the emergence of numerous talented, innovative artists, whose efforts soon gave rise to the big-selling ‘bubblegum’ sound of the mid-80s. As the decade wore on, this sound shed its American roots and took on more local influences, becoming ever more electronic and less funky, to become the kwaito of the 90s and ultimately the house music of today. It all started with the arrival of synthesizers and the creativity of producers and artists featured on this compilation - pioneers of a new sound before it became established and marketable – global in its appeal, yet rooted in Africa."
Opal Tapes hit it right with this grotty slewage from XCDVR.
They ain’t giving much away on this one, but we can tell you that there’s five Slabs of nerve-riding electronic riddems and biting-point noise inside, plus a technoid re-slam from Basic House, who chisels out a cavernous negative relief from the face of Slab 5.
Slugabed’s Greg Feldwick turns his hand to rugged instrumental hip hop for his pal Ed Scissor to rap over in Feed Em Freedom, issued on London/Glasgow’s generally excellent Astral Black label.
“It is a celebration of existential comedowns and terrifying schemes. Nostalgia as the sun rises at the end of a cool sick rave. Praying hands emoji floating above the horizon. It gives you the fuzzy feeling that uk hip hop used to in 2004, but with sad synths and 808s and stuff. Its not so much party music, but rather standing outside the party making friends music. Eyes rolled back, chins swinging. Some of it, you can't even tell if it's real!”
The ongoing documentation of Mordant Music’s mental rambles arrives at Travelogues 17: Medieval Grime on their latest dispatch.
Given that some of Mordant Music’s earliest issues were effectively mutant grime - check Shackleton’s Stalker 7” or I Want to Eat You and that they’re based in the medieval town of Hastings, you’d be forgiven for expecting some gully baroque instrumental or at least a soliloquy about Nike tracksuits, but nay, it’s actually a ten minute wormhole of psilocybic ambience and eerie electro-acoustics populated by Baron Mordant and a hall-of-mirrors chorus of himself stating, “Baud yet? Me too”.
Aye it’s fairly baffling, but that’s not an unwelcome sensation. Try it sometime.
On his 2nd LP sojourn of 2016, Sam KDC follows the charred ambient aesthetics of KVLTVR with something more spacious, cosmically-inclined in Cycles of Perspective, which is also released by his firm supporters at Auxiliary.
Thru a combination of beat-less electro acoustic sound design and mental dowsing, he navigates eight planes of weightless consciousness, always steering his sound towards a distant, optimistic light rather than anything dissonant or scary, resulting the sort of album with no sharp edges which you can trustingly drift off to sleep with.
Gunnar Hallam and Tin Man’s jewel in The Bunker New York’s bonnet, Romans return with a full album of deep tissue acid rubs and rolling Roland drum machines in Valere Aude, their debut album following two well received 12”s.
Rrose renders some of her most unyielding, instructive material to Function and Inland’s Infrastructure New York with the sheer bleep techno contours of Arc Unknown.
Perhaps closest in aesthetic to Rrose’s earliest blooms on Sandwell District circa 2011, this session sees her overlap and vault that sound with clinical attention to spatial settings and pointillist rhythmic detail.
Arc Unknown emerges from a tonal void to gather energy from atemporal blips and follow that velocity on a proper, welting bleep techno mission bulked up with metallic mid-range shudders.
Specimen 2 + 3 cool out a follow a slightly altered trajectory, reshaping the groove to a subbier pulse and writhing with sexier acidic tone in the first part, and practically outdoing dave Sumner a.k.a. Function at his own game with neurotically clean and needling bleep techno in the 2nd part. Mind yer jaw with this one.
Exceptional, martial dembow drills from Manchester/Bogotá’s Florentino for his pals at Swing Ting, condensing and ramping the pressure of his Tu Y Yo debut with deadly, versatile impact.
On a slow, bullish and brassy swagger with Bloodline, the ascendent producer comes off like HudMo and Mssingno’s latino cuz, sparking up patented reggaeton trills, gleaming brass shanks and pitching vocal idents to yoke the ‘floor like a rodeo star.
Consider that a warm-up for Sientalo, which is surely one of the rudest mutations of the UK’s ‘ardcore continuum that we’ve heard in years, squeezing off a hi-octane barrage of tightly coiled drums, drums and more fucking drums against a sweltering backdrop of MC holler and B-More club chants.
Proper, ruthless dancefloor gear. Hugely recommended!!!
Seattle-based astral travellers Further Records hook up with Jimmy Billingham for a beatless soak under the HOLOVR name.
Fresh from tracing the Imaginary Lines of French composer Jonathan Fitoussi, Chloe ‘Raica’ Harris and Mark Cul’s Further label close in on another fine year of releases with a new HOLOVR album from London’s Jimmy Billingham. Wedged somewhere between vintage Namlook and Warp’s often-referenced Artificial Intelligence series, Anterior Space finds Billingham veering fully down the beatless route for the first time as HOLOVR over four billowing tracks.
By no means an ambient newcomer – see Billingham’s previous work under the Venn Rain alias – Anterior Space is a fine development for the HOLOVR sound. The grubby itch of early HOLOVR outings on Opal Tapes is long gone and instead Anterior Space breaks free from the floor-flirting Traces Realm offering for Firecracker. The drums may be dropped here but Billingham’s talent for finessing wistful waves of lysergy from his analogue and digital synths remains in place on opener Into Light, whilst Apparent Motion traces a multitude of crystalline movements.
Face down and Temporary, Autonomous is a febrile acid dreamscape whose enveloping warmth casts off neatly against the chill and blushed tingle of 11-minute finale Involution.
12 tracks from the 20s/30s/40s with an eerily pertinent subject matter for the present day, feat. recordings from the likes of Blind Willie Johnson, Elder Beck, Two Gospel Keys, Sister Mary Nelson & Rev. Gary Davis + more.
"The perfect cassette-shaped Christmas gift for a friend/relative/person who is unfathomably depressed with the state of humanity. Happy New Year!
Profits from this release will be split equally amongst Refugee Action & The Southern Poverty Law Center.”
The Southern Italian duo come good with a debut album spanning all shades of house and techno for JD Twitch’s ever-subversive Optimo Trax label.
First introduced by JD Twitch at the turn of the year, Underspreche’s Optimo Trax debut was possibly overlooked as it sat facedown to some incendiary proto-breakbeat hardcore from Muslimgauze dating back to the mid ‘80s. Twitch is clearly taken with the Southern Italian pairing however, with a subsequent full 12” for Optimo Trax now complemented by Underspreche’s debut album, Invito Allo Danza, which apparently takes its name from a classical composition by Carl Maria von Weber.
Across the eight tracks, Underspreche neatly sum up the musical diversity we’ve come to expect from Optimo Trax since it launched a few years ago. Techy swerves like Enchanting Lure and the operatic acid of Vincino A Te nestle alongside leftfield deviations on In Turbine, the skippy house hypnosis of the title track and some unfettered belters like Sequins Sequence and star-gazing closer Mi Luz Es Dintina.
Could this be the new Buddha Machine? Room 40 cap a brilliant run of 2016 releases with this genuinely amazing magic box from Spyros Polychronopoulos, who has arguably just achieved one of modern composition’s smartest goals; to make a piece of music which will, in effect, play infinitely without direct repetition. Please note that this is a bespoke, hand-made item.
Through this genius hand-made black box he takes the ideas of generative music ideas to a logical, algorithmic next level by using electronic means to create the effect of a live musician who is rather wittily trapped within a Polychronopoulos’ box of persistently morphing timbral and temporal paradoxes.
The sounds are practically, and perhaps understandably, indescribable, constantly shifting thru fragments of classical piano, field recordings, glowing drone contours, haptic grains and fizzing scree in a way that’s perhaps best compared in synaesthetic sound/visual terms with looking out of a train window whilst travelling at speed and trying to tune a radio.
We’ve seen a lot of a imaginative, innovative, inventive releases over the years, but in terms of both its aesthetic execution and the amorphous abundance of sounds contained within its neat black box, Live Electronic Music is among the most fascinating that we’ve had the pleasure to encounter.
A release that keeps on giving, in the most literal sense, surely the absolutely perfect gift for music obsessives!
Peter Kris’s prolific West Coast troupe German Army deliver another collection of ritualistic industrial dredge for Opal Tapes.
In the space of the past five years, Californian ensemble German Army have smeared their own brand of grubby power electronics across the international tape scene with delirious abandon, racking up a faintly ridiculous score of cross format albums. Included in the storied list of labels to march to German Army’s discordant beat is Opal Tapes, who scored the fine Preserving Senses C40 last year and now return for a second dose.
Coming at the end of a typically prolific year for German Army, Te Ano is the band’s tenth album and delivers an all-too satisfying onslaught of lo-fi industrial brutality that will resonate with fans of Corporate Park, HOGG or fellow Opal Tapes alum Traag. This 12-track set is at its best when German Army counter the endless harsh churn of industrial rhythms with their obvious talent for musical beauty such as Le Cap which sounds like Shoc Corridor recorded at the bottom of a well.
Still their mutant beat freak outs hit home hard too; the fizzing kinetic EBM of Property Rights wouldn’t sound out of place in an Andy Stott live set.
Demdike Stare's full Testpressings series (so far) compiled, 14 tracks wide, almost two hours of music...
Spanning 2013 - 2015, these 7 x 12" releases were basically intended to house hardware sessions/edits shot from the hip without too much thought or planning, each one with a predominantly dancefloor-focussed agenda. The productions here were really the antithesis to the more sprawling/haunted ambience of the preceeding Elemental album, taking a much more feral, less controlled musical path.
Sequenced in chronological order, they make for a properly demented warehouse session, from the mutant/destroyed Jungle of the opening Collision, to the chaotic UKG headfxck of the closing Patchwork - no messing, this is Demsike Stare at its most demented and relentless.
Bish’s crepuscular Black Opal label squares attention on covert Berlin production unit Annanan for this quartet of diverse techno workouts.
Despite early outings on the currently dormant (but soon to be revived) Forbidden Planet and Pat Marsman’s Pinkman, the fiendishly hard to pronounce Annanan have remained low on the radar of wider recognition within contemporary techno. Perhaps this outing on Black Opal will change that? Certainly, the title track possesses the sort of hazy charm we’ve come to expect from one of Terekke’s more focussed excursions. A real smudgers delight of a track, New Wave Of Nature blearily runs simple piano motifs over skittering drums to leave lo-fi techno selectors reaching for a box of tissues.
Bomb comes from a similar place but springs a surprise with its midpoint deviation into dank sub bass science and sonically lives up to its title as a subsequent procession of airborne juggernauts rain down. The digital only Sphere finds Annanan guiding their drum gear through a thick, soupy backdrop of analogue gloom, whilst Gone offers the most explicitly-dramatic opening. Foreboding piano chords signal the onset of a funereal march through heads down techno.
Killer, rhythmelodic breaks and absorbing downbeats from DIY instrument builder Andreas Oskar Hirsch and percussionist/field recording “perfectionist” Richard Eigner of Ritornell, who has drummed for Flying Lotus, Dimlite and Patrick Pulsinger among others.
Both sides are smart: Stalker approximates something like AFX’s computer controlled instruments rearranged by Fishli & Weiss into a fluid mechanics of Hirsh’s self-built Electric Palm Leaf and the Carbophon, “a kind of super-kalimba” played with the rudest swing by Eigner; whereas Swoop is better defined by its exploration of minimalist acoustic space, convecting the soundfield with a mix of swirling snare rolls, keening drones and splintered jazz breaks with a certain late night quality somewhere between Lynch/Badalamenti and experimental Italian library sounds from Gruppo.
Gargantuan slingshot from one of 2016’s definitive artists, putting down the cold-ass kicks and mentasms of Equality Now backed with a smart bit of tribal minimalism and a pocket of tender ambience.
Thanks to its super-minimal, unyielding construction and the stoic, stentorian repetition of its message, Equality Now is one of the strongest dancefloor hammers in its field right now. We’ve recently tried and tested it at the business end of a warehouse party and can fully attest to its ‘floor-dominating strength on a proper soundsystem, or even MacBook speaker for that matter.
The other tracks are fine examples of Mannerfelt’s versatility, swapping the rigidity of Equality for drily supple tribal drum friction and dissonant electronics in Breaking Pattern, and evaporating into ambient abstraction with Rules, Rope & Strings.
Champion’s Formula sub-label, F2 dispenses a pair squashed UK bass bombs from J.G; ramping with the playfully colourful bassline house mutation of Cave Explorer and a more militant, grimy lash named Selektar.
Brain-dancing Fresh Jive from Bjarki on Nina Kraviz’ Trip; hustling the nimble breaks and playful, AFXian melodic sequence of the title track plus the kick drum-anchored techno mystery of Genat 8.
Demdike Stare return with their first album since 2012’s Elemental, a feral, loose-limbed and angular rave odyssey wrecking Dancehall and Jungle templates via found sounds, Ambient and exotic spaces.
Wonderland plays the full breadth of the duo’s wide open aesthetic, taking their Testpressing series of dancefloor lashes - issued on 12” between 2013-2015 - as the diving board for an innovative, reverie-like album forming a parallel dancefloor narrative where the spirits of mid ‘90s jungle and digital dancehall are made plasmic, malleable, and syncretised with industrial and ambient techno sound design.
Rooted in record collecting and the art of DJing, and in line with Demdike’s atypical style and pattern, Wonderland veers across styles and temporalities, forming wormholes between Hardstyle and submerged jungle in the curtain-raiser, Curzon, and going in like Slimzee slicing up grime dubs with jungle in the crackden atmosphere of Animal Style, whereas the eleven minute Hardnoise catches them at full stretch, tumbling from head-rinsing noise to a dank, sublow techno mission framed by unsettling ambience somewhere between Prurient’s Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement episodes and a mutant variant of classic Exotica, before coughing you up someplace else.
At the album’s epicentre, FullEdge (eMpty-40 Mix) obliterates distinctions between dancehall and techno as you’ve never heard, an edit that re-laces their formerly mutually exclusive ligature in a belly-tightening and brilliantly messed-up new mutation, before Sourcer prangs out like a cyborg calibrating itself to ragga jungle arrhythmia, and the psychoacoustic nose drip of Fridge Challenge dissipates into the ‘static thizz of Overstaying at the LP’s perimeter, like some DJ Sprinkles cut paused at mid-flow and delayed, re-shaped into a tense burner.
It’s probably the most enjoyable and loose-limbed hour of music in their catalogue, or that you’ll likely hear in these weird, angst-ridden times.
Dark Entries double our knowledge of Greek avant-pop and electronic music pioneer Lena Platonos with reissue of her charming 4th solo album - the first to feature her own words and vocals - following their reissue of the amazing Gallop (1985) LP, whose Bloody Shadows From Afar has become a cult hit in recent years.
Μάσκες Ηλίου or Sun Mask was realised and released one year before its better known antecedent, and, whilst she professes the record was inspired by minimalism, “I began to revise my thought process, to let melodies fade out”, it’s a lot rawer, fleshly and woozy around the edges than that (ironically) loaded term might suggest.
Using a palette of Yamaha C60, Roland 808 drum machine, FX boxes and her own vocals to paint her songs in thick, free and skilfully applied streaks, Lena modulates her poetry about “the futility of love, the gap of human relationships, consumerist alienation in the bourgeois lifestyle of the 1980s” between hushed deadpan seduction, cartoonish animation, Kate Bush-like soprano flights and deeper, almost masculine tones with wonderfully curious results.
It doesn’t matter that we can’t directly understand what she’s saying, as the lyrics are included with english translations, but even still, it’s preferable to ingest the album on its purely surreal sonic terms, which offer more than enough to get wrapped up in.
NYC’s Palmetto Arts wrest the best from Eric Copeland (Black Dice) and his buddy Rusty Santos in the psychedelic dancefloor prods of Brooklyn Banks - Copeland’s 10th and arguably most accessible album after a slew of haywire aces for DFA, Paw Tracks and L.I.E.S over the last decade.
We’re not sure what he’s been taking or which clubs he’s been hanging out in, but there’s a distinct sharpness to these cuts feels more driven, jutting and insistent than Copeland’s more unhinged workouts.
OK, his sound is definitely still tapped and puckish in the best way, but there’s a craftier, DJ-friendly definition to these grooves which work equally well in both the context of an album and as dance tools in a similar way to head-spinning LPs by Moon Pool & Dead Band or Black Zone Myth Chant.
The way he traverses styles with freeform agility is never not entertaining; whether channelling deep house into distorted wormholes with Mr. Mic, warping it with lysergic subtlety in Bear Country, or hacking into sloppy filter disco loops with Synching Cycles, he’s always got one eye on the floor and the other spinning in the back of his head.
The heavy metal zom com is currently airing on Netflix.
"Deathgasm. Death-gasm. DEATHGASM. Death Waltz Recording Company are proud to present the soundtrack to the greatest fusion of heavy metal and horror since 1985: DEATHGASM. A 2015 homage to the Kiwi splatter of Peter Jackson directed by newcomer Jason Lei Howden, DEATHGASM itself is a band formed by social outcasts in a New Zealand high-school which unintentionally summon a horrific demon via a cursed sheet of music. As you'd expect, the losers must set aside their D20's and become the heroes their school needs, soundtracked by a ton of screeching vocals and demonic riffs.
Shredded through the record are some of the greatest metal bands ever that you've never heard of, straight from the underground. Thrill to the skull-crushing fury of Axeslasher, Beast Wars, Nunslaughter, Elm Street, The Wretched End, and legendary Norwegian black metal act Emperor. Also leading you through the album's narrative is dialogue from the film, making it like a really fucked-up version of those books on records we all had when we were little bastards. DEATHGASM is a brutal tribute to the combined power of the greatest musical and film genre in history, and if you're not devil-horning while listening, GWAR may just show up and crowbar your rabbit's head off. And remember: lowercase is for pussies!"
Leaving Records presents its second archival installment with legendary New Age composer Laraaji, all material previously self-released and distributed in ltd. quantities during the 1980s.
“LR101 Sun Zither 1&2 1984; “A refreshing new sound journey through ecstatic hammered open-tuned zither string board, through jazz-funk rhythms with improvised rubber-tipped mallets, through rattled, stopped Zither. Chaos with wooden chopsticks, through ethereal steel slide string sound exploration to take the classic zither sound way out of the box. An exploratory adventure in sustained open modal tuning, elegant electronics and virtuoso performance mastery”
LR102 Tonings 1&2 1980s; “Tonings 1: Shimmering celestial Zither and OM chant continual deep induction listening for expanded inner-stillness.” “Tonings 2: OM chimes ladder, Kalimba (African thumb piano), hand chimes, spontaneous laughter release, chant, & chimes distortion (heavy at times towards end.)”
LR103 Celestrana / Deep Chimes Meditation 1980s; “Celestrana: Calming, gentle, continual, patient, relaxed-pace solo electric zither feeling. Home cassette recorded 1980’s. Mood of contemplative stillness. Peaceful, introspective listening.” “Deep Chimes Meditation: Classic, Space, Peace, Zen, Timelessness” -Laraaji
“The message is very simple; think for yourself and question authority”, so says Timothy Leary in the looped intro to Joachim Nordwall’s follow-up to The Power of Repetition and two volumes of Soul Music for Entr’acte.
The iDEAL ringleader is at his quietest and most contemplative here, firstly offering Leary’s looped mantra before opening out into starkly minimal space ambient drone space where we’re implicitly encouraged to meditate on that message amid the rustle and hum of vintage oscillators and haptic scuffs.
Some half way into the piece those etheric drones begin to coagulate into a glowing aurora which glacially descends into rumbling lower registers and returning almost like a palindrome to Leary’s mantra, which reinforces the piece’s effect, and possibly implies a positive point of resolution on the horizon if only you hold your line.
As with pretty much everything Nordwall touches, this one comes highly recommended!
Totally haunting gems from the ends of the earth (depending your perspective), drawn up from Flying Nun’s legendary well of early ‘80s Kiwi rock and post punk by the knowledge at San Fran’s Superior Viaduct.
This Kind Of Punishment revolved Peter Jeffries (whose Electricity was reissued as SV055, 2014), his brother Graeme, and Brett Jones and Gordon Rutherford, who also made up Nocturnal Projections when they weren’t making exquisite hybrids of raga drone and chamber-like songwriting like these two songs.
Making its first ever outing on wax, the A-side’s Radio Silence is a beautifully strung-out but concise piece of post punk drone pop locked to an eyes-in-back-of-‘ead groove that could almost be a pre-echo of Om’s stoner mantras.
On the B-side, The Deux Filles-like delicacy of Reaching An End makes its first appearance on vinyl since the Killing Capitalism With Kindness compilation in 1991, handing on this ghostly beauty to the pleasure fresh ears.
First new Chromatics album proper since 2012’s trio of LPs and numerous inclusions on movie soundtracks over the interim, thanks to Johnny Jewel and the gang’s position as Hollywood’s de facto, in-house synth-pop band.
Dealing in 100% exclusive, new and original material, and working away from the glare of Hollywood lights, in Cherry the band freely drift between a blend of experimental song-writing, chiming downbeats and signature, bittersweet cover versions of their key influences, making for a more intimate, rounded portrait of the band doing their thing with no other reason than to do their thing.
It’s quite notable for the group’s shimmering cover (the record’s only cover) of Joy Division’s Ceremony, replacing the moody Manc classic to a pharmaceutically smudged, dusky LA scene as only they can, whereas the rest of the LP touches on their most alluring aspects between the disco élan of Cherry at the front, thru the distorted talk box and life-support bleeps of Candy, to the Fleetwood Mac style cocaine blues of At Your Door, and the beautiful balance of pensive, weightless ambience and the ennui of Ruth Radelet’s lyrics and delivery in I Can’t Keep Running.
Necessary reissue of Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis’ sole, sought-after side as Cupol, marking the period before they started Dome with a spellbinding tribute to The Master Musicians of Jajouka’s trance-inducing harmonies and driving percussion.
After spending their energies on Wire’s trio of taut post-punk classics, Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, and 154, and inspired by listening to the Master Musicians’ recordings, Gilbert and Lewis took this opportunity to work with more open-ended templates under a name that referenced the architectural features - a rounded dome or turret - found in many Moroccan villages, and which would literally be translated into their subsequent project, Dome.
However, these track sound like quite unlike anything they made before or after, with the A-side’s suite of four parts conjuring a discordant miasma of nervous, grinding grooves and possessed vocals swarmed by kinetic noise, with some outstanding punkish thrust to Anchors and the gristly jag of Quicken Your Step.
Still, the biggest attraction is no doubt their 20 minute B-side - almost a lifetime compared to the 2 minute shots of their previous records - where Gilbert & Lewis get totally locked into a rickety, hypnotic chug layered up with whirligig noise and sloshing, unquantised rhythms that sound like a melting, prototypical Muslimgauze piece.
Burial makes his semi-traditional annual sacrifice to Hyperdub with his first new release proper in 3 years featuring two spine-icing reminders of why we love his records so much. Both Young Death & Nightmarket are relatively short when compared with his extended mini meta-dramas like Rival Dealer or Come Down To Us, but still pack all the well seasoned feels you’d hope for.
A-side; Young Death is one of his sweetest treats, a sort of daydreaming R&B/gospel elegy riddled with celestial harps, crackling embers and a beautifully seductive bleep lead and velvet coated kicks that suck and push us right into his hypnagogic simulacra with utterly heartwarming effect.
B-side; Nightmarket is set to become an instant fan favourite. Really not sure what’s going on here but it’s something akin to the characters from Metal Gear Solid featuring in a ‘90s trance video; cue gorgeous, sylvan trance licks threading their way thru beat-less scenes of slithering, insectoid textures and street scene bustle, an occasional voice reminding “i’m here”, whilst that trance lead is prone to Senni-esque turns of phrase, leading up to a stunning peak recalling Tangerine Dream’s OST for The Thief.
For what ails you...
Coinciding with his surprise drop on Ultimate Hits, Peder Mannerfelt explores more abstract, personalised terrain with a 3rd set of studio inquiries on his private label.
Five tracks cover a range of heavily textured and morphing spaces with the sort of flow and touch that comes from focussed, confidently on-the-fly hardware manipulation - you get the feeling he could do this blindfolded, or maybe even was.
A running theme to the EP is vocal samples, which appear central to the phasing, mulching dimensions of Acid Drop; as sawn-off syllables wandering darkside murk in dB at Holger; or used as dubbed-out percussive hits in the Word Clap Bass.
Elsewhere, unstable electronics haunt and infect like a ghostly, airborne virus in Mach 2 and The Limits of Control floods the space with oncoming waves of blistered, squealing white noise in a manner recalling the dynamics of The Automatics Group’s Summer Mix.
Hypnotic, Basho-worshipping solo guitar works with a few enchanting runs of Gurdjieff-like, eastern-influenced harmonium (?) playing
“Joseph Allred fits the guitar soli realm perfectly, fully embodying the guitar loner typecast. From what I’ve read about Robbie Basho, he was a bit of a loner himself with his focus set firmly on spirituality and religious practice. Allred falls in line with Basho not only in his 12 string playing that clearly has a leaning towards eastern musical traditions and droning free form raga that flows out in such a natural uninhibited way but also in his educational background in Philosophy and Religious studies.
Many acoustic guitarists who work in the American Primitive tradition also delve into avant-garde and experimental music. Jack Rose and Glenn Jones both started out in bands heavy into improv, Marisa Anderson played in a free jazz group, and Ben Chasny punishes his electric guitar—and listeners—as often as he finger-picks. Sir Richard Bishop has an album called Graviton Polarity Generator that sounds like its title. Jim O’Rourke has made just about every kind of noise you can imagine, and on and on.
Allred has lived in Knoxville off and on over the last decade or so; attending the University of Tennessee, he moved to the small mining community in Overton County, outside of Cookeville. Having grown up in nearby Jamestown, he’s now inhabiting land that’s been in his family 200 years. He says he’s trying to find his place in the family legacy. Even without knowing his history, you can recognize a searching, if not spiritual, quality to much of his music.
Joseph Allred has more musical integrity than any artist I’ve ever encountered. He’s been very quietly putting out records for years, never self promoting any of them and painstakingly designing and hand priniting most of the packaging for the LP’s and cassettes he puts out. He also hand painted the covers for Fire and Earth while the back covers were letter pressed by Dylan G. Aycock. There’s a sincerity in Allred’s music and way of life that has been missing from modern life for a long time. "Leitmotif" is one of the most beautiful guitar songs I've ever heard and made putting this out an easy decision.”
Epic 3CD set celebrating 10 years of Moon Wiring Club via 66 tracks of unreleased, archive and obscure tracks, all remastered splendidly to form something like an 'alternative best of'. It's chronological, so you get the first disc covering 2003-2009, the second 2010-2011, and the third 2012-2013. None of the tracks have been on CD before!
Moon Wiring Club breaks out the black pudding bunting to celebrate 10 years of quintessentially northern english surreality with When A New Trick Comes Out, I Do An Old One, collecting three discs of cherry-picked freaks and ill-conceived ideas sourced from the nether region of his steam-powered hard drive. Fair to say that after a decade of exploring this sound, MWC brilliantly and definitely sounds like nobody but himself.
If you’ve had the head to follow the MWC and Gecophonic saga over the years so far, you’ll no doubt be as a charmed and baffled as us by its darkly sophisticated sense of glamour and maze of Escher-esque looping arrangements which never seem to go anywhere, yet always make you feel like you’ve been somewhere else.
The first disc, A Field Full Of Sunken Horses hearkens back to MWC’s earliest phase c. 2003-2009, including a higher quality version of the titular fan fave which was issued as 128kbps MP3 only by The Wire in 2005, and now appears in higher quality along with the flanging, bubbling magick of Rotten Druid and the bandy-legged swagger of Owd Lads Night, each making canny, secretive use of samples procured from the fecund charity shops and second hand record stores of Clinksell.
His 2nd disc, Tripping In The Elizabethan Sense brings us up to the period surrounding Clutch It Like A Gonk, namely variations on a “dance” music theme. But that’s dance music from Clinksell, some time in a dimension that’s familiar yet parallel to our own, and the results spell out a slew of wrong-steps and mystic fogtrots which, if they came from this dimension, would have predated the ‘90s’ fixation with multiple CD mixes of the same songs. At 22 tracks long, it’s clear that MWC isn’t short on ideas, and that sometimes it’s his overlooked bits that can be the strangest components in Clinksell’s fractal mosaic.
The final disc is a descent into the bowels of MWC. Under the title We In This Hill Are Alive he relinquishes a farther 22 tracks of undulating soundscapes, taking inspiration from the rugged hills and valleys surrounding Clinksell to render a series of deep topographical studies mapping plasmic links between stone circles, hill mounds and ancient folk dressed in cutting edge couture, strongly recalling the feel of Mordant Music’s MisinforMation DVD soundtrack in parts, and leaning into the dreamiest corners of Coil-esque electronics with Midsummer Visitation.
This is a music and upside down world unto itself, one where clocks go backwards and anthropomorphic fancies are an everyday occurrence. It’s a world that will be familiar to many, and seductive to many more.
Chromatics’ 2015 life-boost, Just Like You comes up again for 2016, formerly availed only to label subscribers, now to the world at large.
Just Like You spans six songs of impeccable synth-pop virtues, cruising in with the disco filip, I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around, slowing to a dry iced temporality with Just Like You and sneaking in a freshly embellished instrumental version of their classic, Hands In The Dark to round off the A-side, before committing the slinky shuffle of Lady Night Drive, and lighting up the ‘floor again with an instrumental of I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around for the DJs, dancers, and lovers.
Sublime covers of Cindy Lauper’s handbag classic from Johnny Jewel and co’s Chromatics, originally issued to label subscribers in 2015, now relinquished to the world at large.
This is genius at work, dissolving the perfect ‘80s pop classic into six canny mixes ranging from airborne a cappella to slow-mo trap and, best of all, a number of rolling house versions riding on the sleekest 115bpm chassis and primed for making eyes on the ‘floor.
How can you resist?!