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.
Grime OG back on road after that ace Track And Field (London 12” with the squeaky fresh spice of Pepper Pot and a ruthless soundsystem collaboration with the one and only Champion.
On Pepper Pot it sounds like P Jam’s caught a mechanical bird and reprogrammed it to squawk on a grime beat, turning up one of the maddest UK instros of the year whilst we can definitely hear some ’07 dubstep influence creepin’ in with the Coki-style mid-range shockwaves and dancehall stabs of Chalice, like due to the nasty influence of Champion.
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?!
Celebrating 10 years of Moon Wiring club with this new LP 'Exit Pantomime Control', featuring 12 new tracls composed with the guiding vision of a Pantomime Sphinx from a curdling reality. There are rock-solid beat tracks, weird 'uneasy' vocalisms, beautiful multi-echo ghost-thought drifts, cronky interludes and a disturbing ending that sounds like you're on hold with TicketMaster for eternity...
On occasion of their 10th birthday, Moon Wiring Club boots up the PS2/time machine to revisit key ideas and themes of the series so far; gathering the ghosts for an eldritch dramaturgy of anachronistic hip hop and ether dream atmospheres inspired by subversive, experimental ‘70s theatre, all taking the form of a good ol’ Panto (surreal popular comedies/tragedies beloved of olde england) held at The Clinksell PlayHouse.
You might have guessed already, but Exit Pantomime Control sounds little like any panto that anyone outside of Clinksell (perhaps Burnley, too) has ever seen or heard. Written by Mr Paris Green and Dr Lettow-Vorbeck in the Curtain Draped Studio, 1896-1976, it unfurls a frayed and abstract narrative helmed in loping hip hop loops, which are practically the only thing nailed down on its weightless stage where voices and melodies bob and drift according to MWC’s cryptic direction.
The Motley Supplement kicks the evening off with everything in ‘easy listening’ mode, establishing a somnambulant pace and smoky atmosphere that perfuses the whole play, from what sounds like a lo-fi take on Arpanet’s percolated chorales sung by the Swingle Singers in Temporarily Engaged, to a frosting of steampunk-like FX in the eerie set design of Marvellous King Nonsense.
By this point you’ve probably imagined outlandish outfits and wigs for the intermittent characters, and, after a short intermission for the ghosts to take a leak, the play recommences with the propulsive momentum of Harlequin Escapes Audience, changing scene to a medieval mock-up of harpsichords and crows in 7 O’Clock In The Park, and dialling up the tension with a flurry of dancing Ghosts All Around, and leaving the play perfectly unresolved with the decaying curtain drop of Unsurpassed Novelties.
Beyond the mind of lucky Ian Hodgson, music like this doesn’t really exist, but thanks to his precious imagination we have some glimpse of a beautifully stubborn world where the usual rules don’t apply and anything can happen, provided it’s pretty weird and leaves you feeling strange; always a recommended experience!
Exceptional, 15 minute long dancer from Beatrice Dillon, blessing the 12 x 12 series with a concatenated ‘nuum sidewinder Can I Change My Mind?, where the London-based artist nimbly finds the square roots of jungle, techno, noise and minimalist dance music firmly anchored in steppers’ dub and West African percussive tradition. If you’ve ever been snagged by Sotofett, DJ Krust or Shackleton’s devilish dubs, this one’s for you!
Since first emerging with a highly regarded monthly NTS radio show, a reel of widely-praised mixtapes for The Trilogy Tapes, Blowing Up the Workshop and, most recently, a mix with Ben UFO for Wichelroede, Beatrice’s uniquely focussed solo works - including two excellent EPs for Where To Now? and a split with Karen Gwyer - along with two acclaimed LPs with Rupert Clervaux and her recent remix for Helm on the PAN label, have all come to define a curious juncture of worldly rhythm studies and probing electronics which arguably exists in a long lineage of avant-garde experimentation done at the service of ‘floors both real and imagined.
Can I Change My Mind? is Beatrice’s most tracky solo production to date, and also the most singular, adroit demonstration of what makes her tick, combining and parsing the most affective, tactile parts of Black Atlantic percussive patterns with a learned appreciation of dub-style economy and concrète texturing.
Across 13 minutes of morphing, fractious rhythm, Beatrice renders clear the prismic and rhizomic dub binds and syncopations that connect original, rolling African drum traditions with Afrobeat and highlife, and likewise between proper UK roots steppers, house and ‘90s jungle, or, for that matter, the mosaic of modern antecedents which continue to be informed by those styles - from the rites of Shackleton to Tessela’s visceral techno swerve and the mercurial grooves of Rian Treanor or her sometime collaborator, Kassem Mosse.
Urged by the intuition of a helpless riddim fiend and premo DJ, Beatrice nimbly synchs swollen, globular bass, needlepoint hi-hats and shocks of flinty amens at 150bpm in a deadly, mutating bogle, effectively exploring every interstice of half, double, and triplet-timed calculation with devilish sleight of hand and cadence; never letting the ball drop whilst suggesting myriad points of interpretation for the dancers and DJs.
It’s a singular work of experience, intuition and technique, and perhaps surprisingly only her 3rd solo release proper. But its daring ruggedness and stringency is a clear indication that Beatrice Dillon is only just warming up and coming into her own. There’s only one side, one track. But it’s all you need.
Techno mutant Via App joins Break World Records - who’ve released ace LPs by James Feraro and Elysia Crampton in the last 12 months - with a strikingly individual sound in Sixth Stitch, the Brooklyn native’s 3rd and strongest album.
From a background in the Boston noise scene, Via App approaches the outer, avant edges of techno with a gleefully free style coming off like the abstract thoughts of an AI rendered in tensile, ribboning compositions of unstable rhythm, biting-point noise and glistening high register timbres.
If you’re after dancefloor cuts, we’d advise checking her pitching rhythms in Far She for a start, and also the warped chromatic techno of Get In Line or the wildly swung, unpredictable and caustic burn of Con Artist. But, if you’re partial to stranger sensations, you’re recommended to check the head-melting harmonic radiance of Fevered Proviso and her the curdled tang of Withered on the Vine for some strong flavours.
Severely blunted lo-fi psychedelia from Helena Celle, making her debut introduction via Glasgow’s fringe caretakers, Night School.
If I Can’t Be At My Best wallows at the murkiest end of the avant-house pool, using barely discernible acid and splintered drum machine grooves to buoy her fuzzy, tactile gestures with a barely conscious momentum.
It’s the sound machines make when you’re not listening or looking, when they begin chattering amongst themselves in a language of plasmic bloops and avian chirrups indecipherable to all but those with the patience or capacity to at least try to understand their baffling dialogue.
They could almost be intercepted Conet Project broadcasts or the ghosts of new age jams found on skip dumped cassettes; strangely animated little motifs and spooling, cybernetic melodies that morph with a psilocybic logic somewhere between natural organism and metaphysical entities.
Forlorn, rustic, almost stately meditations from a real down-home voice and his six string
“The satisfaction of an unadorned room, a field without buildings. We hear austerity espoused in rhetoric, yet encounter it less in the flesh. The restraint required to forgo excessive overdubs or fussy arrangements. Don't throw it all against the wall then fix it in the mix. Just play the damn thing and have some big ears ready to react. Then walk away from it.
On Black Wind, songwriter/guitarist Wes Tirey makes the case for quality over quantity. After a stream of well-received cassettes, Tirey assembled a reserved trio and laid down the soft law on a single night in September. Whereas his previous releases were turned inward, Black Wind opens out like Malick meditating on prairie grass. The words and imagery are stark, broad strokes while the arrangements are spacious, simple structures of Tirey's voice and acoustic guitar, with sparse backing from a telecaster and a trap kit. Opener "All the Livelong Day" comes on like Karen Dalton dressed-down to parched bone, window-lit dust and old chairs, while the final and title track flutters in bursts, unfurling heavy-lidded at daybreak.”
First time on vinyl for the 3rd volume of Sub Rosa’s seminal series, An Anthology of Noise & Electronic Music, collecting 23 important iterations of the electronic avant-garde recorded between 1952 and the year in which the compilation was originally released, in 2004.
A fantastic selection (yet perhaps rather male-dominated, unfortunately par for the course?) revealing, at its earliest points, Herbert Emert + Robert Beyer’s frothing, otherworldly Klangstudies II (1952) and Hugh Le Caine’s humorously surreal A Noisome Pestilence (1958), and bringing us right up to the psychoacoustic incisions of Keith Fullerton Whitman’s Stereo Music for Serge Modular Prototype (2004) and Masami Akita’s surprisingly varied Birds and Warhorse (2004), via a wealth of obscurities such as the early work of Peter Rehberg, a 13 minute motorik drone pulsar from CM Von Hauswolff + Erik Pauser and Phauss, and some staggering, canonical electro-acoustic works by Ilan Mimaroglu and Bernard Parmegiani.
A perfect primer for anyone looking to dive deep into these waters!
The master is in session. RP Boo hits Planet Mu with his freshest, most powerful material in the follow-up to his archival Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints, keeping the levels ticking high as ever.
These are lip-bitingly tight examples of Chicago footwork at its most insistent, disciplined, yet porous to influence, flinging bodies from the belgian techno-influenced hooliganism of The Ultimate to the slashing riffs and centripetal torque of Electric Energy via the strobing, bucking jazz dancer, Bang To The Funk and the burly, undisputed claim of The King and, best of all, in the rasping, glancing force of his bruxist bass and sparking snares on What Am I?.
Texturally detailed ambient-electronic study on the relationships between man made and natural environments in the Cromarty Firth, Scotland. File somewhere between Cindytalk and Richard Skelton
“Mark Lyken is an Artist, Composer and Filmmaker based in rural Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. He creates musical and sound pieces, film, paintings and installations.
The Cromarty Firth is an inlet of the North Sea in the Highlands of Scotland. It is an important and protected natural habitat of seabirds and marine mammals, yet it is also an essential berth of the Oil and Tourism industries. Based in a field station ideally located at the Cromarty Lighthouse, Ecologists from the University of Aberdeen study how natural and man-made environmental changes influence the behaviour and populations of the Firth's protected species.
In 2012 Lyken was Artist in residence at the Lighthouse Field Station where he worked alongside the Ecologists and recorded The Terrestrial Sea album. He returned to Cromarty in 2014 to collaborate on a companion film with award-winning Filmmaker Emma Dove.
The Terrestrial Sea is the culmination of that work, highlighting the diverse and ever-changing environments that the Ecologists are studying through music and film.
The Terrestrial Sea is deeply imbued with a sense of place. Whilst sonically evoking the drama and beauty of the land and seascapes of the Cromarty Firth it also explores the tensions that exist surrounding the natural and industrial world. The music combines real world, electronic and processed sounds, creating a sometimes incongruous soundworld of corroded melodies, percussive clangs, drilling platform drones, pile driving booms, intensifying boat noise, local voices, the simulated sounds of weather and the ever-present sea itself.”
Hyper-chromatic grime and trap mutations from Dublin - sounding like it could be from Atlanta or London - courtesy of Sean Cooley and Kevin Feeney's Clu duo, making a ripe fit for Gobstopper's forward, dreamy aesthetics.
Moulding trance, grime, R&B and industrial tropes into sparkling weightless productions, Clu's carefully constructed debut is synaesthetically visual and emotive; luring us in with the yearning autotune pains and clipped trance wings of MOOD2098, before stroking Triton synths and leanest cloud rap feels into Okami and penning one of Gobstopper's most beautiful cuts with the cathartic elegy, Long Lost Motion, and creeping up the spine with with their Arca-like Trance Lament.
Beneath shells down three tracks of “self-indulgent sound system muzik” on the 6th No Symbols 12” written, produced, engineered and hand-stamped by the man hisself.
His 2nd and presumably final dispatch of 2016 sticks firmly to the roads he knows, seeking out nuance and new angles along an axis of 120 bpm bass music.
Up top on Lifted he still sounds like nobody else, carving thru UKF, dubstep and techno templates with knife-artist skill and rave-ready torque, before the flipside calves off into dankest sort of acid bashment grime with Cack, and then gets loose in his signature, swaggering style on Fuck Ya’ll.
In a field of mimetic copycats, Beneath stands out a mile.