London’s experimental hip hop duo Farai follow drop their debut LP of punkish rap, indie-pop asides, and pointed social commentary. Check for highlights in ‘This Is England’, the hot-stepping ‘Love Disease’, and their autotuned synth-pop downstroke, ’Radiant Child’
“Farai’s debut album (a collaborative project between London based vocalist Farai and artist, musician & producer TONE) documents a process of recovery. For the eponymous vocalist of the project, Farai, music has always been personal. Born in Zimbabwe and raised in London, her lyrics are coloured by the different cities she’s lived in, and how that series of different homes has shaped her perspective. ‘Rebirth’ weaves together South East London landmarks, the bare-bones ethos of post-punk, and the experience of being part of the African diaspora. The record is the biggest stepping stone yet in a journey which Farai started in 2012. She hit a period of feeling burnt out, and started attending weekly music therapy classes, where she started writing poetry and music for the first time. It charted a new direction, one that’s brought her to the exciting point where she now stands.
The album follows their debut EP, ‘Kisswell’, released through NON Worldwide in 2017, the label-cum-collective co-founded by Chino Amobi, Angel-Ho and Nkisi. It attracted support from Dazed, CRACK, The Fader and Pitchfork, the latter praising their “rethinking of post-punk and new wave.” Additional support has come from Annie Mac on Radio 1 and a variety of shows on NTS. They’ve performed on Boiler Room and at the Tate, the latter as part of a special one-off connected to their 2017 Soul of a Nation exhibition.
Farai’s partner in creating both ‘Kisswell’ and ‘Rebirth’ has been TONE, a producer she’s worked with from the early on. They’ve carved out an alternative vision of pop together, distinctive and many-sided at once, poised between punk directness and flourishes of soulful warmth. TONE’s heritage is Afro-Guyanese and Welsh, and their shared pan-African heritage was one of the things which drew them together. He spent part of his childhood in Germany before moving to the UK when he was nine. He visited the Caribbean growing up, where he was introduced to his grandmother’s roots as a performer, hearing soca, dancehall and dub.
The album’s opener sets the tone with a short news snippet, situating the album in London: the pair’s common ground and the city where the album was born. ‘Punk Champagne’ nods to a homemade cocktail TONE mentioned to Farai, made of buckfast and prosecco, and is characteristically stripped back, composed of simply drums, vocals and synths. On ‘This Is England’, they adopt a looser structure still, an ominous synth line framing Farai’s reflections on work and hardship in contemporary Britain.”
Scorching, sprawling, lysergic psych and free jazz jams from Jibóia, a new artist from the fertile Portuguese undergrowth, picked up and presented on the ever-searching Discrepant label. Make sure to check the wild combo of sustained sax peal and pounding drums in ‘Diatessaron’, and the full-blown 15 minute Sufi whirligig styles of ’Topos’ if you like imagining yourself as a character in a frenzied Alejandro Jodorowsky scene...
“Earlier this decade, when Óscar Silva chose his alias Jibóia, he was already thinking of the variations his music would take on in each record. Jibóia is Portuguese for Boa constrictor and at his fourth record we got used to his instincts and ability to change over his sound and search for different collaborators to reach his intentions. After collaborating with the likes of Makoto Yagyu, Sequin, Xinobi, Ricardo Martins and Jonathan Saldanha in his previous records, in OOOO he goes deep into interconnecting his music with other musicians/past collaborators.
Joined by Ricardo Martins (Lobster, Pop Dell’Arte, BRUXAS/COBRAS, among other projects) and Mestre André (aka O Morto, Alacrau and Notwan), Óscar intended to create a record that sounded like Jibóia with the direct collaboration of the musicians that accepted the invitation. And what does it mean to sound like Jibóia? A fluent and rich dialogue between outer-world sounds mixed with a free jazz approach to rock, living in the limbo between what is fiction and reality. Meaning, it’s music that’s doing soul searching without any space or time barriers.
It flows as it should and in OOOO it’s no different. Inspired by the philosophy of Pythagoras and his concept Musica Universalis, that speaks about an inter spatial harmony created by the movement of the planets and the sound frequency it creates. It’s a poetic theory that imagines the sound produced by the movement of the planets and what we can listen to when we listen to the universe. The first three tracks are a reference to those frequencies and the last one, Topos, references an idea of accomplishment, of arrival and the sum of the experience.
So, yes, OOOO it’s a bit of a trip. A voyage of imagined sounds produced by three musicians in a constant dialogue and with a different focus in each track. Each of the first three tracks (Diapason, Diapente and Diatessaron) are developed with the focused on the instruments of one of the musicians, while the other two expand and enriches the range of the initial movement. First track focusses on Óscar’s instruments, the second one on Ricardo’s and the third on Mestre André’s. On the fourth and last one they explore the flux of ideas each one delivered to OOOO.
Topos doesn’t sum up the experience. It’s not intended to be a conclusion or an end to OOOO, it’s an open circuit of ideas that reinforces the free-minded rock that the three musicians explore, creating a new place where their music finds new routines. It just makes you want to go back to the beginning, again and again, reinforcing the feeling that Jibóia’s music belongs to this world without sounding like anything from this world.”
Expansive shoegaze and doom jazz scapes from a new artist on First Terrace/SVS.
“‘In The Dust Of Idols’ is an album exploring mortality, Existentialism & the dread one can feel in the face of an apparently meaningless world. The journey you embark on when trying to create meaning where there is perhaps none. These initial senses of dread can be brought about by the insignificance you feel in the face of greatness (or perceived greatness), where others have seemingly found meaning and purpose in the face of your own wavering path. Often these can be expressed in grandness and can become historically significant human feats, the fact that they have stood the test of time can become in itself overwhelming when reflecting on your own journey. Whilst these moments in time may hold no specific meaning to you - despite their impressive nature - you are driven into senseless awe.”
Incendiary 50 min recording of Merzbow performing at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane in 2012. Liable to take your eyebrows off and leave you with no mates. Great fun...
"I think the first time I heard Merzbow must have been in 1994. I was a compulsive cassette trader back then and I was sent a tape from a fanzine editor I traded with in the USA. It had two long form pieces on it that just said Merzbow//Noise.
I remember at the time not really knowing what to make of it. It was effortlessly deep and aggressive, but also very emotive and almost lyrical in the way the waves of sound would erupt and decay. In those days it wasn’t so easy to discover information about artists, but within a few months I had learned as much as I could about this prolific musician from Japan.
In the mid 2000s, I had the chance to meet Masami Akita, aka Merzbow and present him live when I was co-producing the Brisbane leg of the What Is Music? Festival. It was a pretty special event, in fact the first (sonic) meeting of Merzbow and Keiji Haino took place here in Brisbane. For me, Merzbow’s solo performance was as transformative an experience as hearing his music for the first time. Following a switch to digital electronics, in the early 2000s, his powerbook performance was literally like having someone run a razor blade across your eardrum, whilst pummelling your body. An exquisite, and beautiful, unease.
MONOAkuma is a live recording made in Brisbane in 2012 at the Institute Of Modern Art. This was the second time I had the pleasure to present him live in Australia. To me, this performance epitomises the physiology of Merzbow’s sound work. He creates in absolutes; sonically he generates a tidal wave of frequency that sweeps across the spectra with tireless frenzy. Merzbow’s capacity to conjure a massive swirling mesh of analog and digital sources is without comparison. His work is one of physiological and psychological intensity; a seething, psychedelic and utterly visceral noise-ocean.
What MONOAkuma represents is a resolution of Merzbow’s performative work across both analog and digital noise mediums. Here, he brings together his formidable pulsing analog noise (which exploded in the mid 1990s and subsequently forged the interests of countless artists creating music in his wake) and his more digital approach to noise. On MONOAkuma he resolves these two modes of operation into an ontology of noise in the absolute.
What I recall most about this performance is the sense of utter euphoria that was shared by everyone present. It is captured in the recording too. Not many people tend to dwell on this affective capacity of Merzbow’s work, but there is no question - this is about the body and the ears being overwhelmed. In those moments of being wholly consumed comes an incredible bodily sense of euphoria that is a truly unique and profound experience. MONOAkuma captures this affect in exacting detail.
2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the commencement of Merzbow. This recording, which epitomises Merzbow's 40 years as arguably the most important noise musicians of our time, demonstrates the intense and complex audio world Merzbow has created. It’s the perfect starting point from which to wade into the noise ocean that is Merzbow’s vast output.”
Lawrence English, 2018
High grade weaponry from Neville Watson, retuning his style with exhilarating, inexorable effect on his 2nd album and debut outing for DBA
While highly regarded as an upholder of old skool production values and style, Watson makes a break for the future with the technoid harvest of ‘The Midnight Orchard’, which contains the most abstract and driving gear we’ve ever heard from him.
He spends the first couple of tracks massaging your grey meat and matter with proper sci-fi modular spangles and tension-raising arps before locking in for the ride with ‘Anarcho Midnight’, a seriously powerful, offset roiler that will see a lot of play around our way, along with the album’s other big highlights, such as the pendulous, minimalist rinse of ‘Twin Tub’, the furiously wired gnash of ‘Dee Sides’, and the blinding hydraulics of ‘4am In The Trees’.
Together with its numerous black hole abstractions and lush moments like ‘We Own The Night’, this album is arguably one of the strongest techno-related LPs of the year, bar none.
Southend-on-Sea’s elusive Liberez return to Luke Younger’s Alter a much altered beast, now including virtuoso guitarist Iñigo Ugarteburu among three new members, and pursuing a far more layered and complex sort of post-rock dramaturgy more porous to worldly influence...
“Southend-on-Sea experimental outfit Liberez deliver the end result of a year and a half long recording process, an amorphous new line up and advanced studies in sound collage. On ‘Way Through Vulnerability’ new members Reay, Saunders and Ugarteburu channel the projects previous outings on Alter and Night School by conveying the same firm grounding in rhythm, though this time via Flamenco time signatures and eerie, repetitive clapping. At times sounding indebted to the ‘tribal ambient’ of decades gone by, at times sounding fresh in their approach (‘Here is the Proof’ is of note) the trio manage to export motifs from Italian avant-garde circles, UK industrial and dare we say post-rock all at the same time.
The sound design on ‘Derelict Intentions’ makes heavy use of background ambience and bleak, world-weary minimalism to lull us into a false sense of calm before harsh and unexpected blurts of noise break the equilibrium. In doing so they swiftly side-step any preconceptions of ‘easy listening’ and opt instead to drag us deeper down into their own dark waters. At times we almost seem to delve into lost theatre soundtrack territory; fragmented neo-classical elements dance with punchy drum machines (‘Cara En La Foto Pt II’) and things draw to a close with the end credit worthy swansong of the album’s title track. The group repeatedly utilise Basque country language, Hungarian dialect and ancient Russian to lend their compositions a cross-cultural underpinning and eschew any clear geographic origin, a decision which all but adds to the perplexities of their unique brand of electro-acoustic purgatory.”
Whizzy techno-pop from hotly tipped Bristolian newcomer Finlay Shakespeare. ‘Perris’ sounds like a hook-up between Richard Youngs and Erasure.
“Snapshot release by a new Editions Mego signing, the Bristol based one man machine, Finlay Shakespeare.
Routine is a twitchy electro monster confronting the listener with a worked up a blend of AFX, Cabaret Voltaire and New Order. Routine is damming slight on the soulless electronic age in which Finlay spits a curse on the mundane repetition of existence over the top of a wild unfurling techno pop banger. The B-Side Perris propels itself as a crazed analogue drama that is as ambitious as it is unholy. Simultaneously a modern throwback to the brooding synth pop age and concurrently an absolute belter in the contemporary mainframe.
Finlay Shakespeare has made it quite clear, that he is here.”
Proper, experimental techno drills from Rrose on her vital Eaux label
The kind of gear that leaves you sweaty palmed and clamming for nightfall, especially on a friday afternoon, ‘Beware of Shells’ delivers the Rrose’s first solo outing of 2018, following from her smart collaboration with Lucy.
Tilting in with the vertiginous title track of billowing synth dissonance and pulsating bass - imagine Cam Deas meets early Pan Sonic - the EP keeps us rapt between the air-ripping synths and powerful drive of ‘Incisors’, a droning death techno dirge named ’Sister (Remix)’, and the delectably dissonant nosedrip tang of ‘Pecking Order’, which, while the most minimal and abstract of the lot, is likely to endure as our favourite from this set.
Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle present a mind-bending major new work by Alvin Lucier with the hour long piece, ‘So You… (Hermes, Orpheus, Eurydice)’, following release of his ‘Cross Cross / Hanover’ LP and the ‘Illuminated By The Moon’ retrospective boxset.
“So You ... (Hermes, Orpheus, Eurydice) is a major new work by legendary experimental composer Alvin Lucier. It is an hour long epic that tracks the familiar Orpheus myth from a less familiar perspective: that of Eurydice as imagined by poet H.D.; a Eurydice who rails at Orpheus for his hubris in attempting to rescue her. Two key, and formerly distinct, aspects of Lucier's practice come together in this piece: the exploration of interference patterns in closely tuned intervals, and the exploration of resonant chambers. From speakers mounted inside amphorae a constantly turning braid of beating sine waves trace the descent into the depths of hell, and then the doomed attempt to climb back into life. Singer Jessika Kenney and long-time Lucier collaborators Anthony Burr and Charles Curtis embody the three title characters in deeply focused performances that assert themselves against the process of the sweep, or become enfolded in it. The electronics were mixed in real time by programmer and equipment designer Tom Erbe.
This record has all of the mind-bending acoustic effects you'd expect from a Lucier piece, but also features a strong sense of narrative drama and flashes of raw emotion that are unexpected and deeply affecting.”
Direct Detroit/Berlin-style deep techno pressure from Laurel Halo and Hodge on Livity Sound...
Rolled out in the wake of Laurel’s ace ‘Raw Silk Uncut Wood’ EP with Eli Keszler, and leading on from Hodge’s classy ‘Beneath Two Moons’ EP, they make an ideal pairing on three tracks built for clued up ravers.
It’s maybe possible but pointless to identity who’s doing what and where, better to take them as exceeded the sum of their parts, from the beautifully balanced 313 drive and sleek float of ‘Tru’, thru the stereo-pinging dub chords, High-Tech Jazz pads and rugged rub ’n tug of ‘Opal’, and the unsettling fusion of blithe new age vocal mantra with squirming subbass and phosphorescing synth tones in ‘The Light Within You’.
Numbers introduce another new artist with Perko’s lush debut of floating dance music after recently dispensing North Sea Dialect’s gaelic folk-tronica
From Scotland but based in Copenhagen, the 23 y.o. Perko makes dance music that’s deeper than his age may suggest. It’s evidently steeped in an appreciation of natural, pastoral aspects as much as the pull of synthetic styles like Detroit techno and UK soundsystem music, adding up to a beautifully well-rounded record with strong highlights in the Vladislav Delay-like weightless dub of ‘Water Memory’, in the 2-step suspension system of ‘Rounded’, and, at its core, the sublime scene of percolated subs and dreamy, wide open space in ‘Grace’.
“The seven tracks on this EP hear Perko mining the grooves between his favourite genres for building blocks of inspiration. Drawing from UK soundsystem culture and modern experimental music, half of the record explores deeper atmospheric passages and meditative repetition, characterised by layers of subtly shifting chords, field recordings and delicate polyrhythms.
Three dancefloor cuts, spread throughout the rest of the record, retain this detail and interplay with added energy. Perko’s sense of rhythm & space is clear with 'Rounded’s glacial synths, blown out drum machines and sculpted sub sine waves. 'What Otters' forges playful UKG touches within a paperclip framework of space-echoes and sparks, whilst 'Songbirds' flips into 4/4 drive with percolated alarms and shimmering pads.
“Density, Noise, Dust, Distortion, Space…” says Perko, if you want it simple.”
Funky West African disco heat from the late ‘80s, remastered and reissued for the first time
“These two late 1980s Ghanaian highlife cuts are taken from the catalogue of Nakasi Records. Nakasi was run by the late producer Nana Asiedu (Big Joe) - a well-known figure in the Ghanaian and African music community of 1980s London.
The A-side showcases a track from Jon K's second solo album, which was a re-working of a traditional Fanti language Asafo company song Asafo Beesuon. Made famous by C.K.Mann on his seminal album ‘Funky Highlife’, this version very much reflects the more westernised late 1980s sound of highlife music recorded in the UK, Holland, Canada and Germany for both ex-pat Ghanaian audiences and those back home in West Africa.
The album features the stalwart session musician Alfred Bannerman, the go-to Ghanaian guitarist known for the classic cut of ‘Let Me Love You’ by Bunny Mack, among many other tracks over the last 40 years, including his work on contemporary releases for Soundway such as Konkoma and Ibibio Sound Machine.
On the B-side, Pat Thomas (the brother in-law of Big Joe) needs little introduction having been touring the world extensively in recent years with the Kwashibu Area Band. Somehow this dancefloor-heavy cut has eluded recent compilations and reissues. With horns arranged by long time friend and collaborator Ebo Taylor, it's an instantly recognisable sound that also features Rex Gyamfi - himself a well-known purveyor of 1980s 'burger-highlife’.”
Classy mid-tempo disco, house, electro and cosmic synth swerve from Berlin-based Italian artist Massimiliano Pagliara - his 3rd LP with Live At Robert Johnson. Nowt groundbreaking but brimming with deep, good times feels for the dance
“Stemming from Lecce province, an area at the south-eastern-most tip of Italy, Massimilano has been based in Berlin for several years where he's been one of the main forces behind recombining the city's hardboiled techno scene with an often overlooked sensibility for the soft and the tender. Call it underground disco passion. Massimilano's last and sophomore album, With One Another, released in 2014, was about celebrating the joy of human encounters and in parts seemed like a big get-together with like-minded artists and friends (among them nd_baumecker, Lee Douglas, and Credit 00). The record quickly hit the number one spot in Groove magazine's album chart – and its creator hit the road.
Besides his busy DJ schedule and far from the usual club circuit routines, Massimilano dedicated himself to intense travelling and exploring the world anew. “I felt like I have lived more than ever,” he states. “Getting to discover all these beautiful places around the world and meeting so many lovely interesting people, has inspired me in many different ways. I feel enriched.”
The result of these experiences is Feel Live, Massimiliano's third full-length endeavour. It was recorded in several intimate, sometimes improvised studio settings between Los Angeles, Portland, and Massimiliano's homebase in Berlin as well as at airports and on intercontinental flights high up in the sky. Featuring vocals by Private Agenda, Peaking Lights, Kim Anh and instrumental contributions by Fort Romeau, Tim K, and Jules Etienne, Feel Live is Massimilano's most playful and imaginative work to date. It's as emotional as sensual, as vibrant as the first ray of light after a thunderstorm has cleared the air.
Is it awkward or odd to call this record jazzy? Presumptuous to pinpoint its spacial, almost orchestral qualities? Unfair on the ruling Cosmic powers to highlight its aspirations of founding a new land of Balearic Harmonia and getting down at a huge fertility rite with electro enthusiasts and house lovers? Not one bit. Feel Live is pure grandeur and elegance. It feels like an eternal movement.
Martha Graham has dedicated her whole life to dancing. “It's permitting life to use you in a very intense way,” she said. “Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable.” Massimilano couldn't agree more. His advice when facing the inevitable: “Live what you are feeling, feel what you are experiencing, good or bad, it is an experience.”
Astrophonica volley 14 breakbeat mutations from Fracture & Neptune, Luke Vibert, Falty DL, Sully, Proc Fiscal +++
Cutting to the chase, listen up for highlights in Falty DL’s dextrous deep jungle piece ‘A Day At The Races’ (is that a Firewire sample??); Luke Vibert’s Plug-style acid jungle bender ‘165 303’; Moresounds’ fierce jump-up madness ‘Shut Up’; and yet another hybrid beauty from Sully, smashing jungle, garage and grime atoms in ‘Qualia’.
Hanno Leichtmann’s ‘Nouvelle Aventure’ renders a remarkably layered and cut-up tour thru the prized, 70 year archive of the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music, for Karl Records
Given carte blanche to rifle the IMD’s (Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt) tapes and memory banks, Leichtmann returns a blinding set of recombinant collages, using his patented system of micro-loopers, as well as era-appropriate techniques such as tape editing and manipulation of amplitude/pitch/playback direction/repetition, to whisk up and create sparking new synaptic connections between his thematically fixed selections.
Like Leichtmann’s preceding release of the ‘SY4’ recordings of a drum machine, and his ‘Skin, Wood, Traps’ study celebrating 100 years the drumset, these decimated deconstructions of the IMD archive were conceived as installation for physical spaces - in this case a 6 channel mix - and later reduced to stereo for release. The results form dizzying microcosms of atomised sound, exploding the archive like the big bang of electronic music that it arguably is.
In 16 parts, the shrapnel of Darmstadt’s conceptual thought bombs and concrète recordings become unanchored from their original moorings and reshaped with Leichtmann’s unique logic. Traces of Stockhausen, Xenakis, Nono, Ligeti et al are recontextualised, remixed to provide the listener with the perspective of a fly-on-the-wall time traveller, siting in on lectures, or overhearing experiments, but all scrambled by strange quantum mechanics with heavily psychedelic side-effects. By nature it’s a respectful yet daring approach to this end of the avant garde, which we’re sure the originators may well approve of, or at least find good reason to criticise.
Outer nowhere, the 1 minute-long debut release by Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed arrives on digital format, some 20 odd years since the original tape release via Paolo Vitolo Gallery
The clue to ‘Work No. 117 ‘ All the sounds on a drum machine’ is obviously in the full title: “Work No. 117 ‘All the sounds on a drum machine played one after the other, in their given order, at a speed which makes it last for one minute’.
Files next to T C F’s ‘1000 Snares’ and The Automatics Group’s ‘Summer Mix’.
Wolfgang Voigt (Gas) plucks out 12 airy beauties from Kompakt’s ranks for ‘Pop Ambient 2019’. Make sure to check for the gauzy country drift of ‘The Uncertainty Principle’ by Jörg Burger as The Black Frame, as well as Bluebird’s aeolian harp styles in ‘Last Train To Brooklyn’, Thomas Fehlmann doing a mean impersonation of The Caretaker in ‘Karenina’, and the stately keen of ‘Rot 2’ by Gregor Schwellenbach
"25 years of KOMPAKT. When a record label still thrives after a quarter of a century thanks to a focus of what was expected to be a short lived music phenomenon called TECHNO, then it stands to prove two things; that it techno has taken its place amongst serious, multilayered musical genres like rock’n’roll, pop and folk music. And that KOMPAKT has never been only for techno, but KOMPAKT stands as a broad-minded, genre-defying entity that has set out to cross-pollinate all kinds of musical inventions within the realm of electronic music. Through its course, KOMPAKT has sent “Around The World”, all kinds of sub-genres, concept series and crossover adventures based on the non- negotiable 4/4 beat. And back again.
Without a doubt, the 100% kickdrum-free POP AMBIENT series is the most endearing and enduring concept that I have had the pleasure to curate. From the start, I felt there was a strong need to add a certain pop- elegance - ensouled by discourse as much as hedonism - to a sound that was recognized as “Chill Out” music that could be heard in seedy techno club back rooms and forgotten festival areas. Over the years, I like to imagine that POP AMBIENT has crystallized into a highly recognizable trademark sound and a multi-facetted musical universe of its own.
So once again, I had the pleasure to put together this year’s edition by plowing through an ocean of sonic jewelry that had been submitted from all over the world by new and old friends. The task was clear: for this special edition, I must create a homogenous listening experience that would both appeal to our trusting followers, to continue our tradition while integrating new micro facets , variations and influences from neighboring musical universes as possible. Obligatory while being innovative. Conspirative while being cosmopolitan. Albeit the headline “Ambient” might sound a little too humble for a compilation that encompasses aspects of neo classic, atonal music and the most beautiful aural kitsch imaginable, it still helps as a necessary means of orientation in the best possible sense. Same goes for another dear tradition: Veronika Unland’s abstract-floral cover design that keeps on pleasing our sore eyes year after year.
Although each and every POP AMBIENT edition doesn’t shy away from diving into the relevant question of “What is contemporary discourse music” – in the end it all boils down to that elevated moment where all theory dissolves into ambient air, into a higher state of cosmic bliss. POP AMBIENT is sacral music for non-believers."
(Wolfgang Voigt Cologne, October 2018)
Houndstooth wrap up Throwing Snow’s three EPs of 2018 with bonus cut ‘V’, and a tranced-out Octo Octa remix
Throwing Snow’s finely honed melodic and harmonic sensibilities are firmly in place across ‘Loma’, lighting up ‘Myriad’ with see-sawing neon cadence; twisted into air-ripping, Clark-like figures on ‘Trébucher’; elusively riddled into the pitching design of ‘Minotaurs’; and with blistering form in ‘V’.
But our favourites are when it goes tough and rugged, as with the grubbing, gargling acid hardcore of ‘Tantrum’, and the unique percussive torque of ‘Vulpine’.
A real doozy from Finders Keepers' Cacophonic label - playfully psychedelic, abstract ‘70s concrète compositions by Dublin’s Roger Doyle, recorded at the inestimable Institute of Sonology, Utrecht. Keener types may recognise Doyle from his part in Operating Theatre on the superb ’Strange Passion’ compilation, and will surely be in for a welcome surprise with ‘Oizzo No’ - one of the most beguiling, unpredictable and varied sides ever heard from the Irish avant garde. Unmissable!
“This manifesto of outsider orchestrations, teenage symphonies and cultivated concrete is the debut album of experimental Irish avant garde and electro acoustic innovator Roger Doyle. A pianist, composer and improvisational jazz drummer with a penchant for experimentation that would marginalise him from traditional seats of learning in his native homeland but embrace him to the bosom of Europe’s leading forward-thinking research centres for electronic and computer music. Here he would piece together two highly sought after experimental albums before returning home to channel his multi-disciplinary work ethic into the agit pop theatrical company Operating Theatre and play a leading role in the burgeoning Irish new wave scene as an early signing to U2’s Mother Records.
A collection of some of Doyle’s earliest works as an indomitable scholarship student of composition at the Royal Irish Academy Of Music in Dublin and then as founding member and drummer of experimental jazz rock outfit Jazz Therapy (who would later become Supply Demand & Curve), this patchwork 1975 debut long-player draws from what was an already bulging portfolio that included academic assignments, living room compositions and soundtrack collaborations with Irish filmmakers.
Originally part-recorded and subsequently aborted when the would-be label vanished without trace overnight, Oizzo No was shelved indefinitely until a scholarship at the prestigious Institute Of Sonology at the University Of Utrecht in Holland afforded Doyle not only the opportunity to partially revise his humble opus in their state of the art studios (as well as those of the EMS Studios in Stockholm) but also the money to press a limited run of 500 copies and help further cement the foundations of his future status as one of Ireland’s leading and most versatile contemporary composers.”
The most watchable scene in the world, Durban’s Gqom sound diversifies into Gqom/Afrobeat hybrids with ‘Alala’ by SA’s Citizen Boy and Nigerian vocalist Dapo Tuburna
The title cut is surely among the strongest Gqom anthems of 2018, with Dapo Tuburna’s burning Afrobeat singjay-style vox lending a potent grip to the groove’s hunched swang and parry and Carpenter-esque melody.
‘Gqom Fever’ on the other hand is a perfect example of Gqom’s negative ecstasy at work, pairing driving taxi kicks with deep blue pads and a nagging hook strongly recalling cold-ass ’80s Belgian New Beat vibes. Pushing all our buttons right now!
Abstract knots of colourful, chromatic noise swept up in naturalistic chaos...
“Luminous, Stratous, Vigourous. Jan Nemeček folds time on his power ambient opus «Recurrences». Evoking memories of solitary journeys that turn into cosmic travel, these eight timeless songs combine fragile and organic textures with wide-screen, orchestrated waves of sound. Jan Nemeček lets his machines drift until they sing in character, creating luminous worlds filled with strangely familiar life-forms.
In his current solo work, musician and sound designer Jan Nemeček focusses on granular synthesis, deconstructed recordings and borderline sub bass movements.
He has been engaged in the Balkans’ vivid improvisatory and electronic music scenes since the early ‘00s. Until 2014, he co-curated the CC-based label Norbu. Jan Nemeček also collaborates in numerous projects focussing on the club context. He is a resident at Belgrade’s acclaimed underground institution Drugstore.”
Enigmatic masters of their artforms, Cortini and English meet at the apex of their powers in a breathtaking recording.
Operating at their most diaphanous, sky-scraping and apocalyptically glorious, the pair captivatingly match each other stroke for stroke in a spirit-engulfing study of coruscating harmony and saturation. The results speak to a mutual admiration for each other’s work, with each artist hailing the other’s ‘Sonno’ and ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’ as important parts of their listening lives in 2014.
With this fundamental understanding and appreciation of each other’s singular approaches and practice in place, they most beautifully brogan the best out of each other in ‘Immediate Horizon’, subliminally traversing vast noumenal, psychoacoustic terrain from fathomless spatial coordinates and elusive textures, to lilting spectral melody and sore choral cadence by the piece’s close.
We can only imagine that, within the gargantuan bowels of Berlin’s Kraftwerk space, the premiere of ‘Immediate Horizon’ must have been quite incredible, especially in the way that they use density within negative space, and their skill in transitioning from pulsating cosmic ferocity to moments of stark, life-affirming beauty.
Anther heavyweight haul of slow techno mutations from Mike Jefford’s Positive Centre, coming quick on the heels of ‘The Leaf Switch’ album for Opal Tapes with a stark, grungy, grumbling batch for Horo
“After making his initial mark with a grinding fog of slowed Techno on Sigha’s Our Circula Sound label, Michael Jefford aka Positive Centre has traversed the electronic BPM scale with a sonic signature of ghostly synthetics that make the switch between industrial aesthetics and illusory soundscaping.
Within this nucleus, Jefford’s recorded history as a Live Performing Artist, DJ and Producer has always reflected what at once can be microscopic whilst still being the largest object in view. Each track on Forever Optimum sets a different location and perspective on an active set of mechanics - like watching fragments in motion, reacting to different forces.
Having previously released for a range of Techno’s more adventurous labels includingSNTS, Stroboscopic Artefacts, Opal Tapes and not forgetting his own In Silent Series label. Positive Centre’s 3rd Album ‘Forever Optimum’ stands as a beautiful anomaly in the 2018 HORO catalogue. Continuing the point of the HORO label: being open to the beguiling musical arcs that keep us redefining our sound.”
Fractal, electro-acoustic improv from NYC’s Marina Rosenfeld and Ben Vida, conjuring a steeply layered investigation of proprioception and dreamtime psyches...
Marking Marina’s first appearance since the resoundingly unusual electro-dub of her ‘P.A. / Hard Love’ [Room 40, 2013] recordings with Warrior Queen, and also Ben Vida’s follow-up to ‘Damaged Particulates’ [Shelter Press, 2016], their probing collaboration is a wicked exercise in vivid, abstract terraforming.
As they both hail from NYC, it’s possible to hear the 8 parts of ‘Feel Anything’ as a gyring, topographical reading of their environment. In bifurcating formations they strafe and wind thru varying densities of tone and space in sloshing meter, scaling the listener’s focus from vertiginous showers of sparky electronic scree to demolished string orchestrations and wide, abyssal bass in fractious permutations.
We can instantly recognise some of Marina’s signature, eerie dub touches carried over from her ‘P.A. / Hard Love’ EP, but here they are unsettled, unstuck by Vida’s nervy tics and persistently amorphous electronics until they both effectively form a sort of vaporous free jazz describing the waveform-like outline of urban panoramas and the insectoid scuttle of busy populations, scurrying up and down and thru skyscrapers, subways, lofts and streets.
With a CV that includes vocals for Timo Maas and doomcore for Invada, Anthony Tombling Jr. returns to Village Green as CUTS with a cinematic hat on.
“Summoning 11 widescreen, electronic compositions in response to global political and environmental breakdown, ‘A Gradual Decline’ addresses the planet’s current fragility using actual field recordings of ice collapsing from glaciers. Weaving these momentary, dramatic events directly into the DNA of the music, CUTS has sculpted rhythmic elements out of geological transformation.
A stark sense of urgency permeates ‘A Gradual Decline’. At times chaotic and alarming, the album’s siren-like tones and volatile, stuttered beats converge with synthetic gales of melody and glacial percussion. Elsewhere, the sense of precariousness is subtler, enveloped in gaseous chords that swell and evaporate, ethereal and dense guitars and distant vocals – all hallmarks of previous CUTS material - here honed into a concise, conceptual set.
“I have tried to make a record that feels like it’s all come from one place," explains Tombling Jr. “My only musical influence on this was William Basinski’s ‘Disintegration Loops’. Not the music, but the process. The idea of a decline in sound really suited the concept of this record. All this music and instrumentation trapped in this declining digital signal. I wanted it to sound brittle and precarious. I also wanted to avoid doing overly dark material, opting instead for something that was more fragile, melancholic and even hopeful in moments.“
Breathlessly tight, shiny UK shunt from Murlo, whipping synthetic marimbas, quicksilver leads and coke bottle percussion into the garage-techno-footwork mutation of ‘Evaporate’ on his Coil Records label
Weighty wanz from Drone on Coyote
Cold shifting weight from the natty grime instrumental ‘Narroways’ to dubbed-out sinogrime in ‘Light Speed’, moody blue grime in ‘Probiscus’, and the flickering, skeletal drums and swollen bass of ‘Fangz’.
Aggressively charged mutations of IDM, EBM, and EDM
“‘Calibrate’ proffers the highest of fidelity, with blockbuster sci fi levels of production value and bombast. Donoso channels sonic spirits across fluro pointillism, futuristic industrial tribalism and more serene moments of synthetic reflection.
Having never courted accessibility, Donoso remains as unbending as ever in his approach and unwavering in commitment to his craft. Calibrate takes Donoso’s polymetric abuse and sound design to all new extremes. Conflicting rhythms and swathes of electronic debris move in tandem, to create pieces that expand and contract in on themselves.
A journey through Calibrate is an exercise in instability and failure; its aggressiveness serves as a warning against the urge to seek safety on common ground, and its entire approach seems to display a hostility towards the increasingly homogenized nature of new electronic music.”
Hypnotic grey area incursions from ASC, the master of this sound
Taking all the time he needs to take us there, he unfurls some of the longest, most epic tracks in his catalogue across ‘The Outer Limits’.
All reaching over the 11 minute mark, at least, the 4 tracks are exquisite showcases of ASC at his most expansive, emotive, and rhythmically complex, ranging from swirling deep space polymetrics and vast drone shapes of ‘Arrival’ and the sloshing rolige and vaulted pads of ‘Redshift’, to 17 minute breadth of ‘Blueshift’ with its uniquely tucked percussive permutations and tumutuous synth arrangement, and the waning beauty of ‘Departure’.
One for the techno/bass dreamers.