Glass offers the sublime results of a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), as performed and recorded at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut during the private opening to Yayoi Kusama’s installation marking the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth.
Making sterling use of the landmark architectural work’s pellucid dimensions, the pair fixed contact mics to its glass walls, which they effectively played as an “instrument”, rubbing it with rubber gong mallets to generate delicate tones which they combined with a sympathetic palette of singing glass bowls, crotales, keyboards and mixers.
The seamless performance of floating, weightless tones and exquisitely quivering timbres is without doubt one of their finest. For the duration we’re held static and spellbound by the pair’s interplay of microtonal shifts and plasmic chronics, keening the listener thru hazes of digital dust and vortices of angelic harmonics to locate, alchemise and resolve a rarified, deeply mysterious spirit before the piece closes.
As the follow-up to their OST for The Revenant  and the warbling keys of Summvs  before that, the achingly lush tension of Glass is perhaps the purest testament to the clarity of vision and endless minimalist mutability of this highly revered duo.
Glacial Industries get loose and weird with Cork-born, Berlin-based ELLLL, hustling three parts of tribal drums and screwball synth skidmarks under queasy atmospheres.
Working in space somewhere between Batu, Beatrice Dillon and Kowton, the ‘Confectionary’ EP is a strange set of rug-cutters ranging from the swanee-whistle-weilding wraver ‘Pepsi’ with its wood cut drums and sweltering textures, to the dubbed-out flux and wraithlike writhe of ‘Skittles’, which eventually straightens out as a rugged roller, before leaving behind the desiccated skeleton and shivering theremin-like tones of ‘Jawbreaker’.
Devilish technoid chicanery from S S S S, the sibilant simulant realised by Switerland’s Samuel Savenberg for Milan’s ‘core crew at Haunter Records
Veering into bombed out terrain somewhere between Croww’s hardcaw dissections and The Sprawl’s modular convulsions, and with the dramatic grasp of Rabit, the ‘Absence EP’ speaks to a bleeding edge flux of abstracted hard dance musick contexts and textures.
Since his debut couplet for Haunter, ‘Administration of Fear’  and ‘Autopoiesis’ , S S S S has released straighter industrial clangers for Swiss labels Hallow Ground and Lux Rec. But, with ‘Absence’ he returns to the broader remit of his early work, spending the A-side’s gettign right under the skin with invasive, nanoscopic precision in the tense sound design of ‘It Comes In Waves’, before committing muderous flashcore and splintered dembow breaks in ‘Stripped’, then following his gulliest hunch into the freeform attack of ‘This Terrible Virtue of Forgiveness’ and the bombed-out shivers of the title track, while Gil brings up the rear with the cyber-dembow re-swivel of ‘This Terrible Virtue of Forgiveness.’
Heavily contrasting sides of lush, widescreen ambient and dense, minimal techno from DJ Nobu
The extended A-side ‘Zzzz’ is a somnolent ambient beauty initially composed as healing music for a sick friend. It’s a meditative tract of glacially rising drones glistening with gently struck, gamelan-like percussions and smoothed out with fluid textures to sublime appeal. We can only imagine Nobu’s mate felt a bit better after hearing this piece.
On the B-side he retains that meditative appeal, but driven by powerful, minimalist techno rhythms in the sulky shimmy of ‘Wwww’, and then like a brisk Gas piece in ‘Cccc’, like Wolfgang Voigt wandered too deep into the Black Forest and is panicking to find his way out as the forest spirits come out to frolic.
The mothership has landed! Unseen Worlds finally deliver a premiere edition of Laurie Spiegel’s rare 1991 follow-up to ‘The Expanding Universe’ , filling a gaping hole in electronic music collections across the known world
The jaw-dropping ’Unseen Worlds’ was first released on CD in 1991 by Scarlet Records, but the label went defunct soon after, leaving Laurie seeing to any further pressings. She issued a 2nd CD edition on her Aesthetic Engineering label in 1994, but since that sold out, her amazing album has become very hard to find. Perhaps understandably, that scarcity is probably because nobody wants to sell their original copy, making this new pressing an invaluable window onto ‘Unseen Worlds’ in all senses of the phrase.
In the years between her debut and sophomore sides, Laurie moved away from the New York new music scene to focus on other projects, most notably the MusicMouse software; an “intelligent instrument” allowing for greater real time automation of her equipment. MusicMouse for Macintosh, Amiga and Atari gained a lot of traction with rock artists and paid her bills, and effectively allowed Laurie up to focus on the aspects of music which interested her the most - improvisation and artistic process.
Freed from the more laborious constraints of electronic music composition, Laurie’s artistic-technological breakthrough gave her greater tactility and control in the composition process. The result is some of the lushest and vivid electronic music you’ll ever hear. In the impossibly smooth pitch gradients and timbral complexities of the opening ‘Three Sonic Spaces’ trio, and the hallucinogenic harmonics of ’Sound Zones’ we hear the MusicMouse in blinding action, while the rest of the LP is no less impressive; leading us thru breathtaking black hole sonics on ‘The Hollows’; into mind-bindingly vast noise scapes on ‘Two Archetypes: Hurricane’s Eye - II’; while the shimmering beauty of ‘Riding the Storm’ are right up there with classics by Jean Claude Risset or Roland Kayn; and moments of exquisite beauty like ‘Strand of Life (*Viroid*) and ‘From a Harmonic Algorithm’ give way to the rarely paralleled scope of ‘Passage’, one of those epic electronic music works that makes wading through all the other stuff truly worthwhile.
Something special from DDS - the long awaited album debut of avant-Dancehall mutations from Jamaica’s Equiknoxx, already tipped by everyone from Jon K to Mark Ernestus, featuring productions dating between 2009-2016, mastered and cut by Matt Colton, all on vinyl for the first time ever...
Equiknoxx are one of the weirdest, most innovative dancehall squads from Jamaica right now; Bird Sound Power is their debut collective show of strength, packing 12 avant, crooked riddims by core members Gavsborg and Time Cow, plus Bobby Blackbird and Kofi Knoxx, with vocals by Kemikal, Shanique Marie and J.O.E. (R.I.P).
The set was parsed and pieced together by Jon K & Demdike Stare , and now thanks to link ups via Swing Ting’s Balraj Samrai (a longtime livicated supporter), it’s issued on Demdike’s DDS imprint, replete with Jon K’s sleeve design.
Easily identified by the squawking bird idents peppering their cuts, Equiknoxx productions have been big in the dance since Gavin Blair a.k.a. Gavsborg produced Busy Signal’s billboard hit Step Out in 2005, followed by key instrumentals for Beenie Man, Aidonia, Masicka, and T.O.K.
Bird Sound Power is weighted with the potential to open up perceptions of current dancehall thanks to the mad character and broad reference points of its producers, encompassing King Jammy’s foundational digi-dub and Dave Kelly’s Mad House sound as much as rugged New York hip hop and the wigged-out, feminine pressure of Virginia Beach’s Timbaland or The Neptunes.
The oldest tune inside dates to 2009, but the rest are recent dancehall mutations, including a number of exclusives produced in the last 12 months. Each one reps for Equiknoxx’s unique aspects, such as Jordan Chung a.k.a. Time Cow’s brilliantly bizarre, layered arrangements of sawn-off hooks and digi-tight beats, also a result of their distinguished family vibe.
Bird Sound Power exists in a paradox, utterly fwd but classic, and with as much potential to turn new heads onto current JA sounds as Mowax’s Now Thing set back in 2001, which remains a key touchstone for so many contemporary producers. It’s one of the sharpest, most crucial DDS issues yet, check the clips and get sweaty...
Vinyl on demand return from an 18 month hiatus with their 3rd ClockDVA compilation digging deep into the vaults of Adi Newton and company’s occult, prurient strain of industrial musick c.1978-1980
Presented as a comprehensive approach to recondition the early years of ClockDVA, the set surveys a gathering of energies onto tape at Adi Newton’s Sheffield studio, documenting the R&D that underlined ClockDVA’s alchemical formulations of alien synths and possessed vocals. All of the material was previously issued on tape only and has remained the preserve of collectors ever since, who know these recordings contain the seeds of some of industrial music’s greatest work.
All recorded by Adi Newton on various tape loops, EMS synthi, electric violin and devices, with some assistance from Steven Turner (bass, treatments), D Tyme (guitar, treatments) and Simon Mark Elliot-Kemp (synths), the 4 discs are littered with glimpses of the band’s prescient, primal-futurist genius that would come into full effect on ‘White Souls in Black Suits’, their debut for Throbbing Girstle’s Industrial Records, that would force them into wider view of the nascent industrial network, and beyond the Sheffield scene they shared with the likes of Martyn Ware and Phil Oakley - Adi Newton’s former bandmates in The Future.
From rawest drones to pulsing atonality and deeply eerie sci-fi styles that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Radiophonic release, the music is stark but sensuous, laced with a darkside northern appeal that could be attributed to the state of its bleak socio-economics - power cuts, cold war threats, Thatcher, Peter Sutcliffe - and which patently resonated with listeners across the world, leading ClockDVA to be ranked in the pantheon of post-punk/industrial musick’s most uncompromising and definitive groups.
Manicured, retro psych-pop sure to charm fans of Stereolab, John Maus, and coffee table books on Brutalism
“Four years after their critically acclaimed debut on Static Caravan Records, Manchester / Dundee based duo Art Of The Memory Palace release their highly anticipated new EP, Dusk at Trellick Tower. In the years since, Art Of The Memory Palace have released a split 7” with esteemed Welsh psych label Fruits de Mer Records, a long sold-out spoken-word collaboration with acclaimed Scottish author James Robertson, and a limited-edition cassette-only French Noir soundtrack album on Horror Pop Records.
Dusk at Trellick Tower is inspired by Hungarian Brutalist architect Erno Goldfinger; a towering presence in Modernism who courted controversy throughout his life. Known for being a humourless man prone to vicious rages, as well as the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s most notorious Bond villain, Goldfinger.
Across the six tracks, Ullah and Mitchell channel the darkness and dystopia which grew from much of Erno’s work, building synth-heavy sonic edifices evoking lonely night time walks along empty echoing corridors, urban decay and towering, impassive concrete monoliths. Using analogue synthesizers, drums, bass and tape loops processed through long chains of effects pedals, Art Of The Memory Palace strive for greater depths with this release, weaving menacing hooks and icy vocals together with droning chords and ambient soundscapes and creating their own shade of dark, beautiful melodies in the process.”
An all-time classic, production masterclass - it doesn't get any better.
The hallmarks are all there; Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald have already set the world ablaze once, twice, three, four times with their work as Basic Channel and the splintering into microscopic, heavyweight offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix. It's hard to over-emphasise just how important their music has been over the last two decades and, for that matter, just how substantial their impact has had on everything that has taken place in electronic music since.
This is, in fact, the second Burial Mix compilation, the first "showcase" concentrating on the label's collaborations with Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, for its opening set of releases. This second installment divides itself into Vocal and Instrumental "Versions" (the instrumentals are collected seperately on a second release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon"), and features a by-now totally classic collection of tracks that in their time have all been singles of the week for us here.
Just thinking of the majestic exuberance of "King in My Empire", or the breathtaking space of "Making Histroy" makes it hard to fathom how this material hasn't really aged a day in all these years...
The ultimate "Disco House Bomb" from one of the all-time greats, Frank Timm, aka Soundhack, aka one half of Smith N Hack - whose debut album now arrives almost exactly 20 years after his debut 12" was released back in 1999. Could this be one of the decade’s strongest disco/edit sessions? Aye. Funky buggers need apply!
As Sound Hack, Soundstore, Sound Stream, and half of Smith N Hack with Errorsmith, Frank Timm is one of those rare European producers who can cut the mustard with disco edits. But we’re not talking half-arsed loop jobs that trim all the flavour - this guy is an absolute expert at turning old gold into precious new dancefloor gear - just ask any of the Detroit/Chicago legends like Theo Parrish, Anthony Shakir or Carl Craig, who’ve been playing his gear for decades now.
Spelling out a definition of disco that takes Ron Hardy and Boo Williams styles for goalposts, Frank Timm’s music is made purely for the dancefloor. As such it’s always appeared on the DJ’s favoured 12”, but now ‘Soundstream’ clocks up next to his seminal ‘Tribute’ album with Smith N Hack as the most substantial set in his perfectly formed catalogue.
Skipping between butterfly house and jerky disco, ‘Soundstream’ delivers some grade A heaters in the rutting Ron-style jag of ‘Get Down’, and with economically decadent string loops in ‘Spotlight’, while ‘Disco Advisor’ shoots good times from the hip, and the likes of ‘Love Remedy’ and the sexy synth lead of ‘Mercury Mood’ tend to deeper moments in an Ugly Edit manner, and the C-side’s uncredited number pays a knowing nod to Boo Williams and Glen Underground’s Maad classic, ‘Motion Sickness’.
As if we really need to stress it, ’Soundstream’ is 100% killer dancefloor music, no less.
Out of print for 30 years, David Sylvian’s opulent debut LP is now back in circulation for anyone in need of a sophisticated lifestyle upgrade
Resplendent in double breasted suit jacket, foppish locks and razor sharp jaw on the cover, “the most handsome man in the world” as he was once touted, really came into his own on ‘Brilliant Trees’, which arrived two years after he had quit glam rock/new wave pioneers, Japan due to a spat with bassist Mick Karn, and also two years since he collaborated on the seminal ‘Bamboo Houses’ with Ryuichi Sakamoto (and subsequently, notably on ‘Forbidden Colours’ from the ‘Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence’ soundtrack).
After settling his beef with Mick Karn (manbags at dawn, at twenty minces), both he and his Japan bandmate Richard Barbieri, along with Sakamoto and Jon Hassell, joined Sylvian for what would become a lush, unprecedented fusion of styles, marrying slick jazz and supple funk with filigree ambient touches to pretty much define the idea of an adult contemporary music.
Sylvian and his music have since become a byword for the pinnacle of sophistication, and in no small part due to the beauty of ‘Brilliant Trees’.
(Suburban Knight + DJ Pierre’s Wild Pitch Mixes) ÷ King Tubby x X³ = Basic Channel’s Q1.1. Or something. Stone cold essential techno classic. As ever; mastered and cut at Dubplates & Mastering, pressed at Pallas.
Theatrical late ‘70s synth music from Sweden, released for the first time by Dais
"Recorded between the release of Sand (1977) and Lost Secrets (1981), Symphonic Songs is a formerly unreleased work that chronicles the dynamic shift and development in experimental Swedish composer Ragnar Grippe’s canon.
Following his seminal release Sand in 1977, Swedish experimental composer Ragnar Grippe worked on various art and performance commissions, often returning to Stockholm during the summer months to focus his efforts on his compositional practice. It was there at the famed EMS Studios where he began employing the Buchla synthesizer and the facilities multi-tracking capabilities as new instruments to map his mining of sound and movement.
During the late 1970’s, Grippe formed a creative collaboration with choreographer Susan Buirge, specifically writing compositions for her works “Restes” and “Tamis”, thus pushing Grippe to start working in a more intricate studio environment. These passages inspired Grippe into a more complex layering process that focused more on placement and structure, rather than the aural floods and flourishes of his previous Sand album, eventually germinating in his first full 24-track composition entitled “Orchestra.”
After debuting “Orchestra” in 1980 at the Electronic Music Festival in Stockholm, Grippe holed up at EMS Studios with those lessons and the fussy Buchla synthesizer, in which Grippe affectionately recalls “needed to be tuned and calibrated every 20-30 minutes.” He emerged with a new commission for Susan Buirge later formally titled Symphonic Songs and used in her avant-garde theater piece “Ci-Déla” which debuted in Paris in 1981. Symphonic Songs showcased Grippe’s sound au courant, pushing dense against sparse, calm into cacophonous, using each track as its own intersecting plane. Using the machinations of studio and structure to drive Symphonic Songs’ voice, Grippe culled a haunting, often cinematic electronic work that dots and darts into unexpected corners with curious aplomb.
“Listen to the words, both terms have their root in classical music, but not in its form but because now I had so many more stems or voices that could be played simultaneously compared to my earlier pieces. Coming from a classical background, but with big nostrils for pop and jazz music, I can now see a thread in which classical got a new costume, dressed up in Buchla synthesizer and real bass sounds” Grippe says.”
Vinyl on demand returns after an 18 month hiatus with a reissue of S.P.K.’s massively in-demand ‘Document III0 1979’ box, surveying the industrial pioneers’ incendiary early trio of 7”, originally self-released on Side Effects
Feral, noisy, and nasty, S.P.K.’s earliest incarnation was a force to be reckoned with. Formed in Sydney, 1978 as an antipodean antibody to convention, the group’s earliest sound echoed the snarl and drive of their European post-punk and industrial counterparts such as Throbbing Gristle, with whom they would come to share line-ups with, and release on their legendary Industrial Records.
These 7”s dokument Graeme Revell, Sinan Leong and co at their most blistering and convulsive, forging a gloriously atonal and overdriven style that would earn them a serious reputation across the world, despite these 7”s only being available in scant editions of 100 each.
Essential picks and listening for all industrial fiends!
Slinky, humid, sexy electro-techno and far-eastern dub tang by Dang Khoa Chau a.k.a. D.K. (L.I.E.S./Melody As Truth/Antinote)
Digging a strong sort of ’89-into-’19 sound, D.K. deals four aces in ‘Mystic Warrior’, swaggering out with the early AGCG or J. Saul Kane vibes in ‘Mystic Warrior’ and the Akira-OST feel of ‘Elements’, then leaning on a style compatible with Muslimgauze or recent Szare riddims with ‘Worries In The Dance’, and hustling that Akira-cinematic feel back into Earth People’.
EchoSpace’s Steven Hitchell slices off two Intrusion Dubs from the previously CD-only Phase90 album
The A-side’s ‘Vinci’ [Intrusion’s Possession Dub)’ sounds like Hitchell recording spirits, with results full of flickering dub artefacts and smudged clangour, driven by a ghostly, pounding kick and wave machine bass.
On the B-side he seamlessly smudges ‘Inzfinitati (Intrusion Remake)’ and ‘Ango (Intrusion Metamorphose)’ into a darker, windswept swell of spirits, like the holiday park ahas fallen into disrepair, the dome’s panes are cracked and the parc is overgrown with foliage like Ballard’s drowned world.
Reissue of two mesmerising, ‘90s ambient house doozies, salvaged from obscurity by Melbourne’s Left Ear
Both tracks originally appeared on a 4-track 12” released by Shakti Science Records in 1995, but Left Ear has given them the space and time they deserve, cut a side a piece at 45rpm and freshly remastered for optimal effect.
On the A-side, ‘The Dawn of Birds’ is a languid pearl sloshing around on swollen dub bass and wooden percussion while the synths keen and sigh with ancient appeal, leading to a cracking Arabic drum break and back out, like Pablo’s Eye jamming with Bryn Jones. B-side, we’re utterly entranced by ‘Camels In Desert Air’, which uncannily recalls Terry Riley’s ‘Embroidery’, but looped up, filtered, and shackled to a slow house beat.
Foundational techno business from 1993, documenting Mark and Moritz pelting ‘em out live at 145bpm at Waschhaus, Potsdam and setting the template for a whole genre.
Phylyps Trak is the one for the DJs.
Ancestral Voices proceed from ‘Night of Visions’ and ‘Divination’ into the cosmos with ‘Navagraha’, the latest chapter in an increasingly far-out series
“Liam Blackburn’s Ancestral Voices project is a nomadic journey of self discovery, exploring expansion of consciousness through sound. Since it’s inception in 2016 the project has traversed from transcendent ambient to jagged 170 bpm beat experiments over the course of 2 full length LP’s and 3 EP’s. In 2018 Liam launched his own label ‘The Fifth Kingdom’ with the entirely beatless release - Mycelia.
Liam returns to Horo to follow up his second LP ‘Divination’ for the label in 2017 with the next step in his musical evolution - Navagraha. Navagraha means "nine celestial bodies" in Sanskrit. Each ‘Graha’ is a specific vibration and relates to the nine planets of our solar system, as well as the different parts of our body.
In 1978 Hans Cousto, a Swiss mathematician and musicologist discovered the natural law of the cosmic octave as the link between different kinds of periodically occurring natural phenomena, such as the orbit of the planets, the weather, colours, rhythms and tones. For the Navagraha project Ancestral Voices has taken Hans Cousto’s ‘frequency’ of each planet and created a unique tuning system which he uses for each track.
The result is a mixture of Ptolemaic, Pythagorean and other ‘Alternate’ Harmonic scales that can create a profound effect on the consciousness of the listener. Steering away from equal temperament opens up an infinite amount of possibilities and more ‘colours’ to paint the picture with.”
In the 15+ years that have elapsed since 'Loop Finding Jazz Records' first shuffled out of his ambrosially dusty speakers, Jan Jelinek's most famous album has acquired an almost mythical status. Originally released via Pole's defunct Scape imprint, it now finds new life via Jelinek's own Faitiche label, for a new generation to marvel at one of the finest examples of loop-based electronic music typical of the early noughties.
Taking what reads like a pretty austere set of ingredients, Jelinek's technique revolves around a trio of elements which consist of second long cuts of 1960's-70's jazz recordings, the loop-finding modulation wheel (do your homework!) and the Moiré effect; albeit rendered in the acoustic as opposed to the image and spectral domains.
If all this sounds a bit academic, be assured that on record it is anything but; as crumbling edifices of mealy rhythms slowly pulse into life and swirl around your head like snow storms clashing with a dust devil. Taking sediments of fathom deep static then skimming the best stuff from the top, Jelinek opens through the dampened echoes of 'Moiré (piano & organ)' wherein a slow-motion thrum of spiraling clicks, rustles and analogue tones conspire to give the impression of recondite perspectives that extend well beyond the constituent elements.
Elsewhere, 'Rocky in the Video Age' instills a gratuitously optimistic blush to the aquatic micro-sound ebb, 'Moiré (Strings)' is a perfect companion to Basinski's disintegrating tape archive, whilst 'Them, Their' represents an aural crease so sleight you can only catch its distinctive gleam from the corner of your eye.
An excellent Arvo Pärt primer...
"Arvo Pärt creates music of deceptive simplicity, and listening to his work can be a transformative experience. Imagine taking your ears on a retreat, and you’re some way to understanding why his work is so popular.
The Estonian composer underwent his own transformation in the 1970s, having explored dense avant-garde music in the early part of his career. He put himself through an eight-year creative exile, and emerged with a new, purer voice. The Arvo Pärt that many people are devoted to today (including R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Björk) creates music that cleanses. A sonic detox."
One of the most influential, insular and multi-layered albums of the last three decades, created through endless hours of improvisation - involving almost fifty musicians and recorded in complete darkness, 'Spirit Of Eden' was a radical departure for Talk Talk, ' an album that has attained almost mythical status since its release in 1988.
Following the commercial success of their singles "It's My Life", "Life's What You Make It” and album "The Colour of Spring”, Talk Talk retreated back into the shadows and produced an album that defied categorisation. Mark Hollis is said to have demanded they record in almost complete darkness, improvising for hours to produce individual parts without hearing any backing tracks or surrounding material.
"Spirit Of Eden" is surely one of the most daring departures for a commercially successful bands ever, and continues to be one of the most singular and influential albums of our era.
A hardy perennial, Boards of Canada’s definitive "lost" 1995 debut is back in circulation for the first time in a few years.
Originally dished up on Marcus and Eoin Sanderson’s Music70 label in edition of only 100 copies in 1995, rumour has it that a copy was sent to Clair Poulton at Clear Records as a demo, who passed on it before Skam up in mcr signed up the pair for the Hi Scores 12", Aquarius 7" and eventually 'Music Has The Right To Children', released in conjunction with Warp. By the time Twoism was officially reissued in 2002, people had been known to spend upwards of £500 for original copies if they were lucky enough to find them.
Alongside Hi Scores, Twoism provides the definitive BoC blueprint, melding classic electro tropes with analog synth tones redolent of soundtracks to ‘70s and ‘80s Canadian nature programmes, sowing the seeds of a sound that would beautifully bloom in their classic 1998 side ‘Music Has The Right To Children’. It still takes our breath away today.
Bubbling up from the archive, a brilliantly warped, acidic and intoxicating décollage of soundsystem shrapnel rinsed thru the echo chamber. RIYL Tapes, Raymond Scott, Ennio Morricone, Horsepower Productions
“Shimmering hologram oases belie the bone-dry heat inna this ya ghost-bloodcl@$t-town; When tumbleweed beliefs pose as the only sign of life, it's time to step into Death's saloon; Bust down the dusty double-swinging doors even the Preacher-man dares not enter!
The Bartender has run out of liquor and listening; Sullied Doves have danced their last number; Lawmen, levelled and long-gone, litter the dance floor; Bodied outlaws doubled and draped over the bar. When the only exit is a horse-drawn hearse; Face to face with Death, who will shoot first!?!
Step into this rattlesnake-ridden realm! Dancehall Showdown is a crazy non-place world where 60’s Spaghetti Westerns, 70’s Library Synth Records and 90’s Golden Era Dancehall come together for a death-defying communion inna Yard! The old posse of SKRS and MX7 ride once again under the banner of their co-run label, ICS Library Records, off into the fringes of sound-based reality.
SKRS' OG Papa Coolbreeze reinforces their select palette, "This album is our reiteration of influences ranging from Spaghetti Western era Upsetters to Raymond Scott's Manhattan Research Inc. to early Horsepower Productions. Now the soundtrack we paint, however, is something entirely unique on its own". Simply put: there's NOTHING like it out there!
Full disclosure: this LP has been shelved for well over 3 years now with the sudden disappearance of Oklahoma's now-mythical Digitalis Recordings, who were set to release it hot on the heels of their 2012 SKRS debut LP, TheCallFromBelow. Since then, we've laboured to break more ground and lay several more keystones in the growing SKRS/ICS groundation-foundation in order to withstand its intensifying expanse and weight. Now that the ground has been prepared, we've decided to take Dancehall Showdown back into our own hands and give it the proper love and nurturing we had always intended for it.”
Unique, engrossing room recordings of Kaliff pipe organ dirges played by composer, sound technician and multi-instrumentalist Kali Malone, released earlier on in the year on a super limited tape run and now finally pressed up on vinyl for wider public consumption. Very little we’ve heard in 2018 has affected us as much as this elusive, magical record.
In four pieces recorded at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, it’s the characteristics of the room itself that add a crucial dimension to these pieces, sounding worlds away from the cavernous reverb associated with church acoustics. Instead, these dry recordings bring out all the fragile warmth and intimacy that’s rarely associated with this multi-faceted, sacred instrument. Removed from its traditional, godly environment - the effect is startling.
The magick also lies in Kali's capacity to produce rich, swirling, gaseous overtones. There’s a preternatural sensitivity toward these peripheral sounds, coaxing intoxicating spectrums of quivering hi-register fluctuations and sonorous bass at a pace that draws the listener in and seems to reduce everything around to a meditative serenity.
Organ Dirges stands in a line of records borne out of serendipity rather than any planned, grandiose gesture. Recorded more or less off the cuff over just a few days onto a portable zoom, it’s a testament to Kali’s compositional instinct that these 4 pieces sound so resolved and purposeful. Every small detail sounds intentional without being controlled, right down to the almost unbearably moving disintegration at the very end of closing piece 'Fifth Worship’, like a slow descent into darkness.
It’s interesting to note that Organ Dirges was first played at a huge iron mine, the acoustics once again altering the perception of these alchemical pieces. Indeed, we can attest to the contrasting experience we’ve had playing this record in different spaces - on headphones, quietly at night in small rooms, loud on monitors in large spaces - always revealing something new, always transporting us somewhere else.
An incredible, uncanny record.
Effervescent and fragrant grooves featuring drums by Gabriel Hahn, recorded in the Tokyo studio owned by Haruomi Hosono’s sound engineer, and later finished in Berlin, primed for balmy summer evenings...
“Gekko No Odoriko translates to 'Moonshine Dancer'. The rhythm, as usual a driving force in our music, is converting every listener unwillingly into a squirrelly moving dancer. Heavy, yes, bassy, yes, yet never isolated drums build the foundation of the beatgrid as well as the arrangement. With an ascending condensation of musical events, the track enfolds it´s physical energy vertically and horizontally. And just as the spacey synth enters the track, MAYUKo (Synth Sisters) has entered the studio, a Korg Prophecy under her arm, straight into the recording cabin, recording 'it'. Vocals by Ryoko aka Mt.Chills and us happy bunch.
Holy Water: Visiting the holy mountain near Nara national park, the impossible seemed so simple: capturing water. An old man mumbling on the floor next to the entrance, little volvic bottles making their rounds to this special zone, bamboo growing high all over the place, deers walking close by as if there was no distinction between us living beings.
Amanogawa, 'Milky Way', extrudes the blink of an eye to an endless state of floating in a field of zero gravity while scenes from the inner self are gushing by. Arihirua's voice guides us into an unsung realm where our thoughts get absorbed between the micro and macro of space.
With Ortho Vision the last sprout of zest for action is moving along the handrail of the beatgrid until it’s complete evanescence. All Percussion is played by drumwizzard Gabriel Hahn, Berlin.”
V-O-D document the very earliest, pioneering Japanese noise tapes released by K2 on his Kinky Tapes label from 1981 - 1983.
Spanning material previously unreleased in any form - his first work, 'Student Apathy' - plus the serial works of ZombieAnatomy, and the beat-driven workout, 'N.G. Musik' and 'Dance Macabre', it serves as much a gateway introduction to early Japanese noise as a valuable vinyl retrospective. Born Kimihide Kusafuka, K2, alongside Masami Akita, Hijokaidan and Toshiji Mikawa of Incapacitants is one of the most important protagonists of the hugely fetishized genre which would become broadly known as Japanese noise.
This 2LP brings his roots to the fore, demonstrating his killer aptitude for chewy proto-techno industrialism, nightmarish drone works, wall of sound punishment and throttled motorik groove alike.
Marking International Women’s Day 2019, NTS’ Diet Clinic and Optimo cook up the Weaponise Your Sound compilation - a vital cross-section of musics from Zoe McPherson, Cucina Povera, Penelope Trappes and many more
Smartly dancing into both Optimo and Diet Clinic’s mutual remit, the set holds big highlights in Maral’s crunchy mix of Dabke rhythms, microtonal vamps and noisy tape samples, as well as Cucina Povera’s martial but floating percussion and lamenting vocals in ‘Kalmankalpea’, and the desiccated dancehall wine of Zoe McPherson’s ‘Thumb Governance’, while Sliem also impresses with the slippery darkroom house of ‘P.M.’.
‘Redemption of the Cryonauts’ is the stellar new album or electro-disco missions from a reenergised Space Dimension Controller
Seemingly gassed on some new source of rocket fuel (possibly Plutonian, possibly Peruvian), he relays the results of recent reconnaissance in previously unexplored quadrants, taking in mutations of Italo disko, rolling D&B, and 140bpm+ electro torpedoes.
In one sweep he sheds much of his cheesier boogie elements in favour of a future-proofed electro chassis, resulting in strong highlights strewn between the rolling D&B/electro turbulence of ’2076 A.D.’, his scudding Stingray-style aces ‘Unwelcome Visitors’, and a number of slick, chromed-out electro zingers such as the precision tooled ‘Reconfiguration’, the Metro Area-style glyde of ‘Usurper’s Fall’, and the excellent sci-fi half-stepper ’8040’s Promise.’
IVVVO mounts an ambitious debut album for Rabit’s Halcyon Veil with ‘doG’, a 2LP of synth-driven panoramas painted in neon, riddled with rave tropes and rendered in hyperrealist, cinematic sound design, featuring crucial guest input on two highlights from Maxwell Sterling, a strong recommendation if yr into Lorenzo Senni, Arca, Rabit...
The follow-up to IVVVO’s ‘Good, Bad, Baby, Horny’ sees him unpackage and build upon that EP in all directions at once in a viscerally corporeal and sorely emotional salvo intended to be taken as his definitive opus to date. Across its 15 songs the London-based, Portuguese producer spells out a narrative as vividly hypermodern as a Nicolas Winding Refn flick but set in the fashionista underbelly of London, with crucial assistance on two of the album’s highlights coming from soundtrack composer and ‘Hollywood Medieval’ producer Maxwell Sterling.
Like a magpie with fancy taste, IVVVO picks the shiniest and most affective elements of contemporary dance/rock/pop and electronica - from deconstructed trance synths to blockbuster sound design and choral arrangements - and then weaves them into searing, reactive expressions of modernity. The results are skizzy, veering from anxious to ecstatic and often in the space of one song.
Kicking off with convulsive samples of Korn’s Jonathan Davis wedged into the nerve-jangling opener ‘This is Dog’, the LP bleeds with emotion at each step, from the heart-bursting Lorenzo Senni-esque style of ‘Life’ to the clenched and knotted grunge reflux of ‘Forever Your Mouth’ to the visceral, Arca-like incision of ‘Blade’, while two pieces with Maxwell Sterling, the Coil-like arabesque ‘Untitled’ and the vertiginous flight of ‘Last Days’, seal the deal with decadent flourishes.
Artist/illustrator Gangster Doodles wraps up 27 rap cuts from all corners of the globe, featuring exclusive gear by everyone from Madlib and Oh No to Kaytranada, Jeremiah Jae, House Shoes, JonWayne, Onra and many mo - check for JayAllDay’s drill banger ‘1-800 Killer Whale’, Fifth and Squadda B’s electro-soul burner ‘And I Swear’, and Softest Hard’s BoC-like ‘Sincerely’
“This second collaboration between All City Records and Gangster Doodles is a jam-packed sonic adventure featuring 27 killer tracks from some of the finest creators out there.
Doodles had the idea for a comp two years ago. Hyped after partnering with All City for Knxwledge’s "Wraptaypes" project back in 2015, they initially set out to put together an EP but as the tracks kept coming in it exploded into the sprawling double LP of low-slung grooves and bangers from the best in the business.
With everyone on the record being a friend or friend of a friend, the comp just kept growing as GD went to work with the hustle he has learned from penning his post-it sketches day in day out for the last decade.
Word spread fast and soon he was being sent beats from all over, even reaching behind the prison walls of Bergen County Jail, New Jersey and securing a track from former Dipset affiliate Max B.
The last few years have been busy for Marlon "Gangster Doodles" Sassy. He released his acclaimed Gangster Doodles (The Book) alongside an ever-expanding array of prints, original works, apparel and exhibitions across the globe. Topping that off with animation projects, a graphic novel in the works and now, with this LP titled " Gang$ter Music Vol 1", he is about to debut his first ever music compilation.
He says himself: “Every time a new track came in it was like running down the stairs on Christmas morning to open a present. What started as a slow trickle of work coming in soon turned into a tsunami with some of my heroes like Onra, House Shoes, Blu, Jeremiah Jae joining up with young guns Kojaque, Kean Kavanagh, Dream Panther and others to beef up the record”
“When an email pinged through with a track from brothers Oh No and Madlib it felt like the final gift and Gang$ter Music Vol. 1 was complete.”
Alvin Curran’s enlightening 1982 masterpiece for voice, synth and tape is back in circulation with thanks to the wonderful Blume label, who have already provided us with vital avant-garde beauties from Mary Jane Leach, Julius Eastman, Sarah Hennies and others.
As co-founder of the pioneering Musica Elettronica Viva improv ensemble formed in Rome, 1966, Alvin Curran was instrumental in the development of electronic and avant-garde music during its golden formative phase, and his influence has resonated throughout many strands of new, experimental music ever since. Curran’s 3rd solo album ‘Canti Illuminati’  is regarded by many as a shining example of his work, bringing to light his focus on “joining notions of place, time, with personal and collective experience,” and typically striving for a natural form that most beautifully transcends perceptions of what avant-garde music is and can be - especially when compared with the genre’s more atonal and “difficult” offerings.
Earthbound but beatific, ‘Canti Illuminati’ is written in two parts that speak to ideas about individual and collective voices. His piece for ‘Voice, Synthesizer and Tape’ sustains some 27 minutes of overtone singing and extended vocal techniques, layered with ship horns, railroad rhythms and imperceptibly woven Serge Synth electronics that become more apparent as it unfolds. You’ll be transfixed from the outset by its complex coordinates, pointedly pulling the senses in various directions, but a certain denouement occurs midway and it gets deeply weird when Curran’s own, tape-delayed voice gathers into a swarming murmuration buoyed by a slowly rising proto-Autechrian bass tone that carries it to visionary new heights.
Where that first piece is about disparate sources - natural and mechanical - arriving at a singular complexity, his work ‘For Choir, Synthesizer, Piano And Tape’ follows with a chorus of 11 voices alternating between solo flights of fancy recalling Ghédalia Tazartès in full voice, to more measured, massed harmonies that speak to a more ancient sorts of psychodrama, like mythical Greek chorales rupturing the present and tracing the event-horizon of a cosmic black hole that separates us from from myriad parallel dimensions. We’re only just pulled back from the edge by a pastoral piano and literally indecipherable but beautiful vocal emoting and intoning in pure glossolalia as entrancingly otherworldly yet innately human as Finnish yoiking or Mongolian overtone singing.
This is one record you can take on trust from accreted generations of ears - it’s a genuine, timeless masterpiece.
The final release from The Caretaker (1999-2019).
The Caretaker provides closure to a 20 year-long act that has uncannily lurked in the shadows of so many of our listening lives. Clad for the last time in Ivan Seal’s specially commissioned artwork, ’Stage 6’ sees The Caretaker mirroring the ultimate descent into dementia and oblivion, using a patented prism of sound to connote a final, irreversible transition into the haunted ballroom of the mind that he first stepped into with 1999’s ‘Selected Memories From the Haunted Ballroom’. This final dispatch is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most immersive and intangible of his two-decade arc.
Invoking Jack Nicolson’s caretaker in Stanley Kubrick/Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ as metaphor for issues revolving around mental health and a growing dissociation/dissatisfaction with the world, the project really took on new dimensions in 2005 with the 72-track, 6CD boxset ‘Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia’, which was accompanied by an insightful unpacking of its ideas by cultural critic Mark Fisher aka K-Punk; a stalwart of the project who identified it (alongside music from Burial and Broadcast) among the most vital, emergent works of Hauntological art - a form of music often preoccupied with ideas about memory and nostalgia (but one distinct from pastiche), and the way that they possibly overwhelm, occlude, or even define our sense of being; ideas that resonate with Fisher’s own assertion that capitalism essentially undermines collective thought, distorts the individual, and has tragically lead to a worldwide increase or even ubiquity of mental health-related issues.
By using fusty samples from an obsolete analog format, and by doing so in the 2nd decade of the 2nd millennium, The Caretaker perfectly and perversely bent ideas of anticipation/expectation with his arrangements, playing with notions of convention and repetition with effect that would lead some listeners to wonder if the same record was being released over and again. When combined with Ivan Seal’s bespoke painting for each release from 2011’s ‘An Empty Bliss Beyond This World’ onwards, the project crystallised as a real gesamtkunstwerk for these times, and one arguably defined by a stubborn and intractably chronic drive against the grain of modern popular culture, or even a refusal of it.
And so to the project’s final goodbye. Drifting from the silty departure of ‘Confusion so thick you forget forgetting’, thru the smudged anaesthetisation of ‘A brutal bliss beyond this empty defeat’, and the abyssal, distant echoes of ‘Long decline is over’, to the increased pauses that punctuate the final side’s piece, ‘Place in the World fades away’, it eventually leads to a final coda that breaks the fourth wall.
Here, with the outside world muted and only the timbral residue remaining like smoke, everything moves as slow as a Lynchian dream sequence - until a conclusion so ineffably sublime occurs that we can’t mention it for fear of waking up.
Following Lunch Money’s cracking, Equiknoxx-remixed 12”, the duo’s debut 7” bubbles back into circulation
As you might expect from their 12”, the styles are spaced-out, jazzy and psychedelic, neatly reclaiming that sorely misused word “eclectic” to their own gain.
The A-side’s ‘Flashing Neon Signz’ is a really curious creature snaking from star-eyed Moog-y intro to spaghetti western guitars and a killer, clipped groove that sounds like some dark, secret Ethiopiques gem spliced by Forest Swords. The AA-side’s ‘Yam Taeng’ is equally outstanding, this time working on sort of clipped dancehall/dembow rhythm, but laced with dreamy jazz-fusion gestures, all airy organ vamps and flyaway sax lines drizzled with palm wine guitar licks in breezily psychedelic fashion.
Maria Minerva beautifully honours the memory of her collaborator Chelsea Faith Dolan, a.k.a. Cherushii, who was among the 36 people who died in the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, 2016.
Posthumously issued, the six songs of ‘Cherushii & Maria Minerva’ were written by Maria and her departed collaborator after they bonded during Maria’s first US tour, when they covered over 3000 miles playing 8 shows, including performances at venues such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Missoula, Montana, not usually known for fancy European music.
Sadly, the fruits of their friendship weren’t completed before the tragic Ghost Ship fire, so Maria has enlisted the aid of David Last, Adam Gunther and Brian Foote (Leech) to faithfully finish them off and pay tribute to Cherushii.
Their six songs are about celebrating the good times, with Maria’s dreamy vox floating over 100% silky trax in gorgeous style on the plush slink of ‘A Day Without You’, the decadent swing of ‘Boyfriend Shirt’, and the dusky deep house hustle of ‘Out By Myself’, while Leech chiefs in with feathered gamelan-like riffs on a more hushed, sweetly elegiac edit of ‘A Day Without You’.
Bonkers Japa-knees-up, surveying Techno Menses’ party-starting ‘Requiem In The Sun’ and his crankier solo output, all originally issued on tape by the legendary DD Records between 1983-8 and repackaged as the first instalment of Vinyl-On-Demand’s Japan series
Highly recommended for the Techno Menses side especially, it’s easy to hear why this 2LP kicked off Vinyl-On-Demand’s series of reissues from Japan’s ‘80s minimal/synth/wave and electronics tape scene. Sounding something like V/Vm and Bruce Haack playing a pie and pea super rave at Blackpool Ballroom, it’s a glorious, playful collection of organ and drum machine-driven jaunts that epitomise Japanese musicians’ sidespin on Western styles, while also locating a lesser-known root of what would become the infamous, virulent Japanese noise scene.
To be frank, we’ve developed a small addiction to the unbridled joy and raw grandiosity of Techno Menses. Formed by Kimihide Kusafuka alongside Kazuhiro and Tomoya Sakashita, Techno Menses’ sound ranges from mutant dirges that sound like Soviet anthems, to dark redlit kerb-crawlers right outta some early James Ferraro fantasy, and best of all, a pair of wild surf rock/proto-techno jags with sing-song vocals. It’s these two. ‘Requiem in the Sun’ and ‘Lovers in the Sun’ that are pretty much worth the admission alone, especially to any discerning DJs with an up-for-it crowd.
The other disc, meanwhile looks to Kimihide Kusafuka’s early solo work. Arguably similar to, but less boisterous than Techno Menses, the vibe of ‘Re-Musick/Demise Symphonika’ is more mannered but still riddled with flavour, coming like Klaus Wunderlich’s winking bastard offspring who plays cult Tokyo bars ’till late every night. Which should be all the more surprising when we consider that Kusafuka is arguably now best known as master of junk metal cut-ups, K2, subject of recent reissue on Hospital Productions.
Levon Vincent continues his fecund form with a diverse volley ranging from low-key, slunky house to nippy jit styles - the first time we’ve heard him go fast!
Opening with a signature piece of floating organs and pendulous, subharmonic bass work, he then takes off with a lush stripe of silky trance arps and synth-pop melodies driven by firm kicks done to lip-smacking effect.
Flipside he runs a few notches deeper with the below-the-belt bass heft and hypnotically elegant synth sashays, before pulling out a smart surprise with a 144bpm Drexciyan bubbler riddled with darting synth vamps and rude Detroit funk.
Jonny Nash and Diego Herrera (Suzanne Kraft, SK U Kno) supply a smart glimpse of their working practice at Nash’s Amsterdam studios with two extended collages of “improvisations, experiments and accidents”
While beloved for their way with a well crafted hook (they ain’t named Melody As Truth for nowt), this side finds the duo at their loosest and most abstract, allowing their sounds to spool out and take them into wildly overgrown and unmetered zones.
The results brilliantly resemble offcuts from the GRM or Haruomi Hosono’s workshop tessellated in weightless space, with the A-side’s ‘In Strange Company He Spoke Softly’ stretching out from fluidly spayed strings, floating keys and hiccuping vocals like some wasted Durutti Column piece overhauled by Visible Cloaks, before the brilliant B-side ‘The Land Through Which We Pass’ offers a stunning piece of studio terra-forming recalling everything from Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient recordings to Gas and Barnard Parmegiani along the way.
Chicago’s Oozing Wound are a mass of contradictions: weed lovers whose music hits you with its breakneck head banging force. The band deal with nihilism yet remain addictively fun. Their music is equal parts sludge and thrash, noise and riff-loaded rock.
"‘High Anxiety’ is an unabashed mocking of the madness of modern living, its chemical induced adventures and establishment absurdity, deriding the industrial complex behind established institutions such as NASA while savaging those who deny science. Oozing Wound on ‘High Anxiety’ are nihilistic pied pipers making us laugh our way to the apocalypse.
The album finds guitarist and vocalist Zack Weil, drummer Kyle Reynolds and bassist Kevin Cribbin blending their ferocious energy, sonic experiments and blunt lyricism for a pummelling enjoyable headbanger with an irresistible sneer. On ‘High Anxiety’, Oozing Wound’s songs have become more complex, their attacks more ferocious, and bass and guitar lines more captivating.
The album was recorded in four days at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio. The trio ripped through live-tracking and overdubs, leaving space to experiment with new sounds and effects. The band, having an affinity for the complexities of prog music, managed to bring prog elements to ‘High Anxiety’ without sacrificing any of their songs’ punch. Subtle layers of saxophone, flutes and synths were blended into guitar tones, adding depth and texture without cluttering arrangements. Fist-pumping blasts of whitehot riffing become a Trojan horse for sonic weirdness. The resulting recordings are at once some of their most sonically rich, immediate, and impactful."
The whole “five band years = a lifetime” biz trope is justified by the second album from Sydney’s Low Life. Arriving with an aura of anticipation, 'Downer Edn' (read: Edition) feels like a collective document of the band's timeline since their unforgettable debut ‘Dogging’; an album which made enough of a mark on the punk landscape in 2014 to justify a reissue on London's Alter in 2017.
"Recorded over two years and mixed in 2018 by Mikey Young (Total Control / Eddy Current Suppression Ring), ‘Downer Edn’ sees the core trio of Mitch Tolman, Cristian O’Sullivan and Greg Alfaro expand their ranks to a five piece. Dizzy Daldal of Oily Boys & Orion was brought in to reinforce the thick wall of guitars, whilst fifth member Yuta Matsumura, also of Oily Boys & Orion, re-joined the group later to free Tolman up as a dedicated front man for live duties. The hours of studio work have resulted in making the band sound more confident and fully realised, reaching for and finding a sound that was perhaps unattainable 5 years prior. However, lurking behind the bigger vision and polished production, ‘Downer Edn’ is a complex proposition and remains a dark blast of an album. Expansive and cohesive, yet shimmering and rough; something they can be proud to call a definitive statement.
As far as Australian punk is concerned, Downer Edition not only shatters the boundaries applied by that descriptor, it does so with the lushest attack conceivable. Like their (admitted) influence, the enigmatic Ohio legends of obscurity, V3, seldom has the f*** word been sung (repeatedly) in such a believable and poetic manner. The visceral pounding of melodies throughout the album transforms their inspirations; desperation, neuroses, trauma, survival, hooliganism, violence, hope, rejuvenation, and their hometown of Sydney’s full architectural and social scope - from a realm of intangibility to the very, very tangible. In the words of Mitch, "We’re influenced by Sydney as a whole, whether it be the hot and muggy concrete streets of the West and South West, the "glorious beaches" of South Sydney, the racial tensions left over from the putrid Cronulla riots of 2006, the pompous and superficial fake tan/ bleached teeth combo suburbs of Bondi, as well as Sydney's iconography: The Harbour, the Bridge, the Opera House, Kings Cross. All the desperation embedded in and around these areas, including the eternal influx of troubled people looking to get into trouble, is our experience and main influence."
Unified on ‘RBB,’ ruminating on ‘92’, chasing the escape on ‘Rave Slave,’ and unwillingly defiant on ‘Warrior,’ Downer Edition reaches past the wild ride of Dogging - this truly is the album that Low Life have been threatening to make for nearly a decade."
Released in conjunction with Goner Records in the USA and Cool Death in Australia.
Rotherham rave imp Rian Treanor kicks up to Planet Mu for ‘Ataxia’, his debut album following introductory EPs with The Death of Rave and Warp’s resuscitated Arcola sublabel.
Under the title ‘ATAXIA’, chosen literally for its meaning - “the loss of control of bodily movements” - as well as its figurative, asymmetric quality, Rian sequences ramped versions of his tracks for The Death of Rave along with shockingly forward new gear that plays into his love of Dadaist vocal cut-ups. The result is an immensely playful and beguiling album, cannily messing with listeners’ sense of rhythmic anticipation in a dare-to-be-different style that’s tripped up and put a big daft grin on dancefloors everywhere from Boiler Room in Helsinki to Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Tapes festival.
Where his earlier EPs were mostly improvised, Rian spent more time shaping the tracks for ‘ATAXIA’. Taking cues from his mentor and father, eminent sound artist Mark Fell, as well a rich SoYo rave heritage, he sticks to an economical palette, making each stab, drum and pad count in the democracy of the mix. From these relatively simple, if now more refined elements, Rian’s suss comes into play in the structuring, using his background as a visual artist to create disruptive patterns of angular yet fluid syncopation and irregular symmetries that both allow for and connote a sort of hyper-natural order of chaos.
While resembling the styles of speed garage, synth-pop, bleep techno and extreme computer music that he grew up with, Rian’s pointedly mischievous approach jumbles those styles, using the tactility of Max/MSP to rejig them with more unpredictable and playfully wrong-footing effect, embracing the dancefloor’s radical potential to reprogram minds and bodies.
Concepts aside, though, ‘ATAXIA’ is a lot of fun. Rian’s dry Yorkshire humour is in full effect in the cut-up vocals of the openings and closing numbers, while the recursive ballistics of ‘B1’ are bound to tie bodies in knots, ‘C2’ advances his absorbingly intricate melodic sequencing, and the rhymelodic chicanery of ‘D2’ ranks among the most stunning, inexorably funky cuts in his catalogue.
The endlessly inventive Matmos keep abreast of the game in ‘Plastic Anniversary’, their hugely playful and charming follow-up to ‘The Marriage Of True Minds’ 
One of modern dance music’s original deconstructionists, Matmos bring a long and mazy history of conceptualised sonic rearrangement to the table in ‘Plastic Anniversary’. As precedents for the current wave of dance music astringents, they maybe have a lot to answer for, but likewise they also lead the way with their fundamentally rhythm-based style inside, using the most ubiquitous of materials - plastic - to shape a ruck of highly personalised and unconventional songs.
“Taking the concept of “broken beat” literally, “Breaking Bread” is a bouncy digital dancehall number built entirely out of the plucked and twanged fragments of broken vinyl records by the Seventies soft rock group Bread. A mini-suite for plastic container, exercise ball and an amplified DNA kit that recalls both 80s pop and the hectic minimalism of Michael Nyman, “The Crying Pill” stacks frantic patterns of saxophone-like sobs onto deep sub bass stabs that are almost trap. Amplifying squishy synthetic human tissue created by the SynDaver corporation as a substitute for human corpses in medical schools, “Interior with Billiard Balls & Synthetic Fat” pairs squelchy electro made out of gross-out substances with tangy melodic riffs. This odd combination of Cronenbergian body-horror and sunny grooves continues on “Silicone Gel Implant”, a skanking number that works rubbery basslines out of, yes, a breast implant, but by the time the plastic flutes snake into the mix, the source becomes secondary to the trance-like form. Side one closes in a more reflective and somber key, with the title track “Plastic Anniversary”, whose cod-medieval martial drums and horn fanfares recall Matmos’ penchant for anachronism circa “The Civil War” before giving way to a close-mic-ed cascade of plastic poker chips.
If side one is playful and poppy, side two is sharper and darker in its implications, and features more live drumming than any other Matmos album. Things kick off with “Thermoplastic Riot Shield” a single-object study built entirely out of the sound of a police riot shield being stroked, rubbed and struck. The resulting sounds are processed into a tense assemblage of harsh noise, deep dub basslines and jarring cuts of silence. On a squeaky loop straight out of a Jacques Tati film, “The Singing Tube” draws out the pinging resonance of a ten foot long PVC pipe played entirely with plastic toilet brushes, and hits a flanged overtone effect not unlike the string compositions of Arnold Dreyblatt. Bristling with whistles and noisemakers and plastic-gloved handclaps, “Collapse of the Fourth Kingdom” bolts a percussive showcase for the high school marching band playing the signature patterns of drumline and Baltimore club onto jarring edits of LEGO bricks clicking into place and weird smears of processed plastic horns. Since plastic was described by its first developers as a “fourth kingdom” beyond animal, vegetable, and mineral, this track heralds the eventual collapse of the political economy that birthed the oceans of garbage that now choke our world. Thinking the dystopian consequences of plastic through to their post-human conclusion, the final track, “Plastisphere” sounds like a field recording of insects and birds and pattering rain and ocean waves, but is in fact a work of digital sleight of hand: every single sound on this track has been artificially constructed out of samples of bubble wrap, Velcro, plastic bags and straws and, tellingly, an emergency stretcher. After a volatile and vibrant suite of poppy plastic electronics, Plastic Anniversary ends in an acknowledgement of the planetary price yet to be paid.”
The last person we expected to mess about with electronics, Pavement’s overlord Stephen Malkmus has done just that with ‘Groove Denied’; the third album credited to Malkmus, and the first to not feature his backing band, The Jicks
‘Groove Denied’ was entirely performed, produced and engineered by Malkmus. It finds him dabbling with synths and drum machines to intriguing effect on a few numbers that pay homage to “Pete Shelley’s ‘Homospaien,’ the Human League, and DIY synth music circa 1982… but he soon enough sinks back into the indie-pop mire and with it my attention ends there. Remarkably, Malkmus worked on this album for 12-13 years, only for for the label to tell him in 2017 that it was’t the right time to release it. We would have trusted their first instinct.
Reissue of The Fall’s ninth studio album, Bend Sinister, originally released in 1986. This edition is titled Bend Sinister/The 'Domesday' Pay-Off Triad-Plus!
"It was the last of three albums in a row produced by John Leckie and was named after a dystopian novel by Vladimir Nabokov.
After the universal acclaim for the previous year’s This Nation’s Saving Grace, Bend Sinister often stands in its predecessor’s shadow. It is a dark, brooding album made at the height of the group’s Beggars Banquet years and many people include this at the top of the list of favourite Fall albums."
Arch techno goth Vatican Shadow delivers Berghain’s annual mix, vacillating new and vintage selections with cherry-picked cuts from his unrivalled collection of industrial cassette rarities.
Vatican Shadow is a relatively late stage alias for Dominick Fernow, who unmistakably made his name as noise beast Prurient and boss of Hospital Productions since 1997. As the noise scene ran out of conceptual energy around 10 years ago, Dominick found his calling on the ‘floor, forming Vatican Shadow as a vent for his rhythm-focussed industrial music concerns. The project would coalesce around militant drum patterns that found their way into various DJ sets, and Vatican Shadow became a key part of the whole industrial/EBM/darkwave resurgence witnessed over the best part of this decade.
With ‘Berghain 09’ Fernow makes his influences and affiliations explicit across the mix and in two accompanying EPs of exclusive gear, collected here. Opening and closing with Genesis P-Orridge mantras ‘Ritual Music’ and ‘One Being, One Orientation, One Power’, he trawls rolling EBM/techno from Juan Mendez (Silent Servant) as Los Angeles Death Cult, the blitzkreig of ‘Venom Timetables’ with Ancient Methods and Regis’ Ugandan Methods, and the agitated pound of ‘Decontrol’ from JK Flesh, while Hospital Productions' Alberich slams out the thistly banger ‘Werkstatt’ along with ‘Colt Neck’ from Ron Morelli, and a handful of distended noise loops by Merzbow.
3rd eye-poking psych treks from members of Sunburned Hand of the Man and Pharaoh Chromium; Paul Lebrecque and Ghazi Barakat. Killer Arabic drum breaks underpin extended, cosmic-minded synth and guitar explorations. RIYL Sun City Girls, Muslimgauze, Morphosis
“After excessive years in rock bands like THE GOLDEN SHOWERS or his solo project BOY FROM BRAZIL, time had come for the German-Palestinian artist GHAZI BARAKAT to develop a new aesthetic – the birth of his alias PHAROAH CHROMIUM where BARAKAT creates "meta-music for meta-people in a meta-world", or in other words:a mutoid blend of post-krautrock, psychedelism, free jazz, ancient rituals, science fiction and electronics. So far the Berlin based sonic performer released a couple of solo albums on labels like GRAUTAG or TAPEWORM and a triple LP with krautrock legend GÜNTER SCHICKERT. For his latest output he decided to simply use his civilian name BARAKAT, as does PAUL LaBRECQUE (SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN) who contributesguitar and synthesizer to the two side-long tracks. "Jajouka Pipe Dream" is a clear reference to the MASTER MUSICIANS OF JAJOUKA, with lots of flutes and percussion, a very rhythmical, ritualistic track, while "Planet R-101" turns out a spacey trip with elements of krautrock and Kosmische Musik / Berliner Schule.
What may sound contradictionary on paper functions perfectly on LP - freeform / free-floating music, absorbing and integrating a wide range of influences and inspirations, sounds and styles – and highly psychedelic!”
Debut solo album by Australian-born, Liverpool-based composer, saxophonist and founder of Immix Ensemble, Daniel Thorne.
"In Daniel’s own words, “Thematically, this music was inspired by birds-eye aerial images and the idea of perspective - how something incredibly complex like a river or the surface of the ocean is reduced to a simple line or shape when viewed from the heavens. The line between natural and man-made becomes increasingly blurred.”
Every strand is fresh, vital and purposeful. The description ‘seamless’ might suggest a smooth, bland fusion, but here elements overlap in intermittent, undulating layers of mesh. Avant-garde, noise, electronics, ecclesiastical, classical, a touch of jazz and traces of Wyatt-style contemporary folk come together, each occupying their own space while acquiescing with the whole.
“Several compositions are derived from ratios and processes, and are highly calculated, while others evolved in a much more organic way. I wanted to create music that blurred lines between acoustic and electronic, organic and synthetic, composition and improvisation.
I’ve long been a fan of studio-based composition, but have always found the infinite possibilities on offer daunting and, often, a stumbling block. To get around this I set myself a challenge of limiting myself to the physical instruments in my possession – a few different saxophones and a bass synth, with no more than four tracks to record them,” he adds.
Lines of Sight follows Thorne’s work as artistic director of the acclaimed, collaboration-focussed group Immix Ensemble. Together with experimental electronic artist Vessel, he co-wrote Transition released on Erased Tapes in 2016, described by BBC Radio 6’s Mary Anne Hobbs as “a remarkable new piece of music”. More recently, he worked with acclaimed modular synth wizard Luke Abbott, to create a four-part suite, which was premiered live in June 2017. Immix Ensemble have also performed special live commissions with Kelly Lee Owens, Dialect, Jane Weaver and Bill Ryder-Jones, among others.
Prior to leaving Australia, Daniel was fortunate to work with some of the country’s leading new music ensembles as both a composer and performer, receiving commissions from the TURA New Music Festival and the Australia Council, as well as being appointed as Composer in Residence at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. In the UK he was the recipient of the prestigious Dankworth Prize for Jazz Composition, and also undertook a residency at Metal Liverpool, which provided him with the time and space to create Immix."
‘Moto Perpetuo’ is an absorbing study on impossible physics from drummer Michael Anklin and producer Kilchhofer for the carefully plotted Marionette label
Following the tangled paths of their previous releases, including Burnt Friedman’s roiling percussions, Soundwalk Collective’s textured field recordings, and Max Loderbauer’s abstract synthesis, Kilchhofer & Anklin combine all the above into the mazy energy transfers of ‘Moto Perpetuo’, where the duo strive to manifest the idea of ‘Moto Perpetuo’, or perpetual motion - where no energy is lost but also where energy is constantly being created - in a series of kinetic electro-acoustic environments informed by the natural world.
“A fluid concept of time where the Rhythmic Pulse constantly shifts is at the heart of the record.The idea was to create an instrument where acoustics and electronics are interconnected and dependent on each other. The smallest disturbance could sway the entire system out of order. This idea of a circular motion was at the center of the recording process and is also reflected in the artwork which resembles a topographical view of a closed natural habitat.
Kilchhofer and Anklin draw inspiration mainly from their rural surroundings, mountain landscapes where natural overtones and stumbling rhythms navigate through high plateaus and velds to stony ravines and wooden trails - on a never ending quest for an "ur-klang“; a primordial, ancestral music.”
Cranky-ass cyber-punk blatz from San Fran’s Cube, picked up by Superior Viaduct’s sublabel, W.25th. Everything from rictus death rock steppers to sawn-off junglist dirges and bittersweet lullabies for folk who took too much wizz. RIYL Powell, StabUDown Productions, Puce Mary
“Cube is the prolific and chimeric nom de plume of one Adam Keith, formidable tape experimentalist and artist / abraser currently operating in Oakland, California's vibrant subterranea. After countless cassette releases, 2016's well-received My Cube LP and a tenure in no-wave faction Mansion, Keith reaffirms Cube's pledge with Decoy Street – his second album and the most developed work he has made under any guise to date.
Opener "In This House" serves as the ideal introduction to Cube: cellular interference, colliding circuitry, metal-on-metal grind and simplistic guitar distortion meet a towering and damaged beat. While "Habit" merges downtempo and industrial touchstones via layers of heavily treated vocals, "Sanctuary" tilts further towards propulsion – a dark treatise on discomfort, yet contagious enough to charm DIY and post-punk devotees.”
Scandinavian isolationists Deaf Center draw a beautiful pall over this decade with ‘Low Distance’, their first album since 2011’s ‘Owl Splinter’, arriving nearly 15 years since their debut couplet of modern classical/ambient masterpieces; the ‘Neon City EP’ and ‘Pale Ravine’.
Low Distance’ returns Erik Skodvin and Otto A. Totland to the shadowy, wintry depths of their early sound, seemingly sequestered in a loft or creaking wooden house in a place where the sun doesn’t rise for 6 months of the year. Their signature palette of ghostly piano gestures, glacial but knife-edge strings and electronics is employed to expectedly beautiful effect, but it’s perhaps the final mixing treatment, uncannily rendered along vertical and horizontal axes at EMS Stockholm, that really brings this record to life, just as integrally as lighting is to a slow burn film noir.
Endearingly working on low batteries throughout the album, their sense of melancholy is patently apparent and deeply intoxicating with it, diffused through the synaesthetic connotations of rain in ‘A Scent’, and through the clammy skin stroking strings of ‘Entity Voice’ before sublimely relieving tension with ‘Undone’. They then broach more textured, abstract electro-acoustic space in the spectral flocking of ‘Gathering’, the album’s extended centrepiece, before touching on midnight jazz notes, sumptuous subs and extended techniques in ‘Red Glow’ like some meeting of Deathprod and Bohren Und Der Club of Gore, and the barely there yet heartbreaking strings of ‘Faded Earth’ attest to their preternatural skill in getting the most from the barest components.
The last section is just immensely powerful in its stark vulnerability and impending tension, holding its emotive line thru the needling hi-register keys and heavy-breathing strings of ‘Movements/The Ascent’, thru the lingering romance of ‘Far Between’, until the quietly jaw-dropping, beautiful solo piano resolution of ‘Yet To Come’, where the hallucinatory nature dissipates and we’re left with starkly vivid, waking realism implied by the track’s title.