Gorgeous tribal rhythms vacillate with neo-classical strings and electronic eruptions and gauzy ambient chorales in an effortlessly diverse offering by cellist Teddy Rankin-Parker and composer/producer Michael Beharie, who has appeared on records with Laurel Halo and Greg Fox. LP mixed by Jim O’Rourke and mastered by James Plotkin
“Michael Beharie (New York) and Teddy Rankin-Parker (Chicago) first met more than 10 years ago while attending Oberlin College. Since graduating, Beharie and Rankin-Parker each veered into markedly different avenues. In addition to a consistent output of solo releases on NYC-label Astro Nautico, Beharie also recently joined up with the ever-confounding New York ensemble Zs (Northern Spy, The Social Registry, Troubleman Unlimited), recently performed on albums by Laurel Halo, Greg Fox & Colin Self, and is a regular composer for dance and film. Rankin-Parker became an in-demand cellist for his prowess in the work of improvisation, avant-garde music, and the more exploratory realms of indie pop, lending his talents to a wide array of bands and collaborators, such as Primus, Iron & Wine, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, Glen Hansard, Father John Misty, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Chicago Sinfonietta, and Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble.
But after a decade of geographic distance, the duo came together to write and record its collaborative debut, A Heart From Your Shadow. Rather than jump into stream-of-concious improvisation, Beharie and Rankin-Parker chose to focus the album's themes via intricately composed pieces. The end result could be described as protest music, brimming with intense energy, harrowing anxiety, and steadfast optimism. All of this finished with a few hired hands: produced by Michael Beharie, mixed carefully by Jim O'Rourke and mastered by James Plotkin.
"Intro" sets the grim scene and issues the album's M.O.. A doom symphony of urban anxiety, the song shows the expansive efforts this duo is able to accomplish. "Gully" offers muted mayhem that's highly synchronized and militantly percussive. It's an anguished two-step of hope and hopelessness. The hyper-repetitive patterns almost hypnotize you into a zoned-out stupor. "Icon" is a psych-freakout of sorts, but the bombast is counter-balanced by intermittent breaks of ambient compositions.
There's a deeper layer still, shown in "Smooth Face", equal parts meditatively uplifting and unsettlingly dissonant. Inner and outer anxieties resonate with actual police sirens in a swirl of tonal turmoil. "Fake Money" is a relatively laid-back drift down a river littered with musique concrète, rustic drones and effects pedal. "Roses" veers into backlit kosmische anthems. Midway through the track, things drop out completely into an open, fog-covered scene cloudy with keyboard-vocal tones. Closer "Petaluma" offers a sweet and sincere coda, chasing a fleeting moment of spontaneous beauty.
The orchestration chaos and permeated distortion of A Heart From Your Shadow is largely about healing, not fear.”
London’s Nokuit impresses a viscous drone distillation of broken Britain, melding dense, keening electronics with TV, Radio and YouTube samples to give a choking/absorbing, abstract/hyperrealistic and largely unsentimental perspective on blighty from the inside, looking in - conveying a sense of entrapment, paralysed by forces beyond control. Crushingly strong and kinda unmissable for heavier heads, especially fans of Stephen O’Malley, Dave Phillips, Lawrence English.
“NKT presents 'Patterns of Instability', a work of freeform experimental electronic music that moves through dense noise textures, visceral sound design and time-stopping ambient suites. Unfolding over 45 minutes, the new Nokuit album is an absorbing soundtrack probing the pervasive bewilderment of society. It’s a relentless journey where blurred melodies and abrasive soundscapes unsettle our most buried dissatisfactions and inner rebellions.
Swirling drones become a sonic lens which drifts and roams through the currents and threads within the contemporary landscape. Mingling amongst the town square demonstration, flipped upside down through the cameras into the news media rooms and editing suites, dragged up into helicopters looking down into streets and homes, then bounced across the globe by satellites floating in the atmosphere. Spam bots and malware, encryption data, analysis of YouTube uploads and text messages. Rather than focusing in on any specific geographical event, ‘Patterns of Instability’ takes a widescreen approach to our contemporary age of discontent and digs deep into timeless feelings of frustration.
Expanding the peculiar set of expressive tools built over precursor works ‘Analysis Paralysis’ and ‘Reality Disappears After Waking’, here Nokuit’s music reaches its most defined and highly evolved form yet. This is an observation on how we deal with and perceive our reality - whether or not we are in control of it - and our level of acceptance of the constant brainwashing that affects our lives. Each time Nokuit’s music faces the struggle from different angles and in ‘Patterns of Instability’ it zooms in on collective, political and individual battlefields.”
Wen hypnotises with the pendulous, crystalline designs of EPHEM:ERA, a sophomore album study on the mercurial warp and weft of modern UK dance music. Like Actress and Zomby before him, Wen also has a vital vision of what dance music can and should sound like. Taking the most forward elements of techno, jungle, garage and grime, he salvages what’s good and bends their time-tested functions into ear-snagging yet elusive new designs that express a pivotal sense of an eternally out-of-reach future.
Tessellating style and pattern at oblique angles, Wen teases their common binds and frictional differentials in a way that feels fresh yet familiar to anyone who has been participating with UK dance music cultures over the past generation.
In Silhouette he retro-fits sino grime with spiritual jazz in weightless pirouettes, while Time II Think rewires garage with slinky techno. Previous single Blips is a sterling example of where hardcore has become distilled/inverted into weightlessness without losing that lip-biting section of hardcore proper, and the uncentred axes of Grit and Off-Kilter catch him rendering garage-techno prisms with ambient abstraction, modulating the tension between raving urges and a certain sort of UK discipline that’s key to his sound.
Two-disc set featuring new artwork and a bonus disc of remixes and alternate versions, including a previously unreleased remix of Anymore from the band’s Will Gregory, a new version of 'Ocean' with new vocals from Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan and more.
Goldfrapp’s 7th studio album is arguably among their most potent, poignant to date, and that’s no mean feat for a band approaching their 20th anniversary. This may be due to the input of fresh new hands such as Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak) and Leo Abrahams on a number of tracks, or simply down to Goldfrapp assuming their mantle as one of the world’s best-loved and persistent synth-pop units, but either way they’ve cooked up a goodun with Silver Eye.
Where their previous outing Tale Of Us  dabbled with pastoral indie pop alongside the usual smoky, noirish themes, they’ve returned to what they do best here; slickly glam and sensual synth pop proper, illustrated in glossy, sweeping DX7 synth contours and gilded with Alison Goldfrapp’s timeless grasp of impeccable, romantic songwriting.
The mingling of fresh young blood with Goldfrapp’s anachronisms makes for a record that could have been released at almost any point in their catalogue but somehow sounds very now, in a sort of ‘90s-referencing way - which we’d largely put down to the input of Bobby Krlic on four tracks in particular; on the glam stomp of opener Anymore, suggesting NIN meets Taylor Swift, in the sublime DX7 strokes and shoegaze guitar burn of Tigerman, and thru to the biting point crunch and detached vocal processing of Become The One, or the way how Moon In Your Mouth somehow sounds like a beautifully hyper-stylised version of Dido - and we mean that most respectfully.
The rest is sterling, too; highlights also to found in the lip-biting darkroom greazer, Systemagic; the perfectly curdled chords and Alison’s dry ice poise in Faux Suede Drifter; the Fever Ray-like techno-pop thump of Zodiac Black; or the misty-eyed beauty of Beast That Never Was, featuring Slip associate and Brian Eno collaborator Leo Abrahams.
Crooked, grubbing rhythms and salty noise lashes laced with mesmerising melody, from Stefan Schwander’s Harmonious Thelonious...
In that so-stiff-it’s-funky style indigenous to artists form the Rühr, on Background Noise Schwander racks up the rugged push and pull of zig-zagging rhythms in Elegant, along with a hunched sort of dancehall budge akin to Tolouse Low Trax gear in Masch Masch, while the pulsating Italo arps and spindly figures of Train recall Konrad Kraft’s recently reissued Arctica ace from late ‘80s Düsseldorf, and Remi sounds like a stripped form of robotic ‘80s highlife.
Burly grime x techno chimeras from Zeki, a known producer going incognito for Jack Dunning a.k.a. Untold’s Pennyroyal
Faithfully playing to a hardcore UK aesthetic, Zeki brings it hard and rude but tightly in-the-pocket at 140bpm, skanking out on proper, wide bass and singed 909s in Goofy, and like Jon E Cash meets Sleeparchive in Good Friday, whereas the 45rpm cut B-side raises the tension with needlepoint hi-hats and hypnotic acidic lixx in Organism, and fades out to the brute primitivism of Patchwork.
John T Gast and MC Boli operate at the apex of their esoteric powers on ‘Lighthouse’ for 5 Gate Temple, following Young Druid’s addictive début with an expansive, immersive suite highlighting unique intersections of new age ambient, jazz, avant-classical and arcane folk music
As Gossiwor, Gast and Boli share a remarkably intuitive mutualism on Lighthouse. They may draw from a similar pool of references to many other artists working within the ambient zeitgeist, but smartly manage to imbue their works with a sense of magick realism, rather than the smell of stale bedrooms and cheese.
Over the course of 73 minutes and 9 songs, some of them stretching over 14 minutes, they properly get into the vibe, alchemising a fascinating new alloy of their respective styles which refuses to be reverse engineered by listeners. The results are patently their own, coolly scrolling from something like Jani Christou in dub on Domestic Saga 1, to raindance ambient in Oceana Pt.2, and a time-stopping ambient regression to underwater futures with Lighthouse, and the surreal peal of Ava Maria.
Under the Church Andrews guise, Kirk Barley a.k.a. Bambooman takes cues from SND, Errorsmith, Gábor Lázár and Rian Treanor for a crooked, mercurial session of computerised funk
“UK based Church Andrews gifts Health with 4 exercises in crisp hyper-rhythmic digital synthesis. Constructed utilising algorithmic composition techniques, just intonation tuning systems and experiments in time signature and morphing temporals.”
Grand, sweeping neo-classical statement by Polish cellist Karolina Rec, a.k.a. Resina
“Two years on from her critically acclaimed, self-titled debut, Polish cellist Resina (aka Karolina Rec) returns with her sophomore album for FatCat's influential 130701 imprint. A less fragile, far more immediate album, 'Traces' sees the Warsaw-based artist working a sound which moves closer towards the listener, with increased viscerality and weight. It's a bold, dynamic and assured step forward and an album fully deserving of your attention.
Looped, processed and layered with increased dynamism, on 'Traces', the cello moves from discrete chamber intimacy to shimmering ambient miasmas and more urgent, full-blooded tracks that reach out and grab you. There are points of delicate beauty and moments where everything seems about to melt into chaos. Whilst Karolina's voice appeared only briefly (to stunning effect) on her debut's final track, this time around it assumes much greater prominence, featuring on almost half the album's tracks. Non-verbal, her vocals function as a beautiful, haunting textural layer, conjuring a sense of near sacred purity and longing. Besides the looped and layered sounds/ rhythms coaxed from cello and voice, 'Traces' expands her palette with contributions from drummer / percussionist Mateusz Rychlicki adding body and drive on a number of tracks.
'Traces' was recorded in December 2017 at renowned Polish producer/ musician Maciej Cieslak's studio in the Wola district of Warsaw. One of the city's uglier areas, Wola was massively devastated during the last war, being the site of both the Jewish ghetto and Warsaw Uprising. During the album's production, the pair often discussed palpably feeling some heavy, dark energy of the place, something of which has doubtless leaked into the album. Drawing upon some dark and timely themes and finding grounding in the worrying / unstable era in which we find ourselves, its title refers to the observing of memories; to remnants surviving violence or the ravages of time; to parts missing or disfigured.”
Footwork OG, RP Boo keeps the style mutably rude and forward with I’ll Tell You What!, a début album declaration of dancefloor war arriving nearly 30 years into a DJ/production curve that started with him handling the decks for original Chicago dance crew, the House-O-Matics, and has seen him release music for Dance Mania before leading Footwork’s global expansion via Planet Mu.
I’ll Tell You What!, is Kavain Space a.k.a. RP Boo’s first collection of new material to be released shortly after it was written. In other words it’s his first album, proper, if we consider that his pivotal Legacy and Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints releases were compiled from archival material. But pedantry aside, I’ll Tell You What! is simply another thrilling RP Boo record crammed with unique rhythmelodic arrangements.
Born in the resistance of Chicago’s streets to its endemic violence, but also heavily inspired by Boo’s incessant touring schedule over the last five years (if you haven’t witnessed him DJing, you’re missing out) the album is as much about the Chi as his hard-won experience of how to translate Windy City funk to foreign feet, and finds him stripping back the samples to locate leaner, more rugged beat structures and hardcore basslines that marks the difference compared to his earlier work.
If we’re playing favourites, the rhythmic crossfire of At War is definitive RP Boo, while Cloudy Back Yard’s percolated chorales and dark B-line are just mad abstract and inexorably funky, and that mutual, underlying connection with the nuttiness of UK hardcore really comes thru strongly in the cranky prang of Bounty and the breathless flow of U Belong 2 Me. But fuck any more chat about this one, you’re only ever going to understand it properly with your ears and feet.
Infectious hot-steppers meshing belting vocals to pointillist polyrhythms by fuji master drummers on talking drums, trap drums and electronic percussion. Recorded in modern day Lagos, Nigeria
“‘Synchro Sound System & Power’ features the music of Nigeria Fuji Machine, which includes some of Nigeria's finest ‘Fuji’ master drummers and singers, and is newly recorded by Soul Jazz Records in Lagos.
Fuji is the heavily percussive and improvisational style of Nigerian popular music, at once modern and yet deeply rooted in the traditional Islamic Yoruba culture of Nigeria.
Here on this album Nigeria Fuji Machine’s striking and powerful lead vocalist Taofik Yemi Fagbenro soars above a wild and energetic backdrop of polyrhythms played on traditional talking drums, trap drums, electronic and street percussion to create a powerful wall of intense sound.
Fuji is hi-energy street music, heavily percussive which evolved out of the Islamic celebration of Ramadan, which became a major event in mid-20th century Lagos. Groups of young men walked through Muslim neighbourhoods at night singing improvised ‘wéré’ music to the accompaniment of pots, pans, drums, bells and anything else available, waking believers for the early morning prayer. By the early 1970s this music had crossed-over into popular Nigerian culture where it came to be known as Fuji, first made popular by the artist Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, as the music began to be performed commonly at parties and social events.
In the 1970s and 1980s three Nigerian artists – King Sunny Adé, Chief Ebonezer Obey and Fela Kuti – all secured international major record deals bringing popularity to the Nigerian musical styles of Juju (Adé and Obey) and Afro-Beat (Fela Kuti’s unique mixture of highlife, funk and jazz) abroad, but in the process ignoring much of Nigeria’s rich musical landscape. Fuji is, alongside Highlife, Juju, Afro-Beat, Sakara, Afro-Reggae, Waka, Igbo rap, Apala and numerous others – one of these central styles of Nigerian music.
The singer Barrister described the music as follows: ‘Fuji music is a combination of music consisting of Sakara, Apala, Juju, Aro, Afro, Gudugudu, and possibly Highlife.’ Juju performer King Sunny Adé described the difference between the two styles of Fuji and Juju somewhat competitively thus: ‘Fuji music is more or less like my music without guitars. It’s like I’m singing in a major key and they are singing in a minor. The music itself is the music of Juju music.’
Today Fuji remains a powerful popular music with deep and powerful Islamic roots which continues to modernise and attract new generations of young Nigerians and Nigeria Fuji Machine’s ‘Syncho Sound System & Power’ is a powerful and intense musical experience.”
Aïsha Devi’s Danse Noire keep pushing the dance with a tense fusion of destructive drums, alarm-raising horns and far eastern gnosticism by Meuko! Meuko!, including an ace, rambunctious remix by Dutch E Germ
“Dreamscape: The fog, snow, streets … everything had only altered slightly from my memory yet I perceived this world as one that might be a couple years, or even a few centuries, into the future. I was amongst a group of futuristically dressed children, school dropouts turned street dwellers, who had just run away from their homes, and I seemed to be one of them, wearing dark sailor clothes, with black hair just past my shoulders.
We had been hiding for quite a while in the white stairwell of a newly built building, uninhabited since its completion. The children set up a den in the stairwell, equipped with a TV and video games. I had somehow become their leader, directing the others where to safely spend their nights. These children were not afraid of the darkness in this world.
One young girl even managed to communicate with rabbits living in the snow. She often hid in a corner of the stairwell, listening to an old yellow cassette player. The girl believed the sound she heard was a gift from the ancestors – music had vanished in this world, you see. She would listen to recorded lectures and pray in the temple left by her predecessors.
Eventually the hideout was discovered by the building’s construction workers when the children were returning from their scavenging mission, so we were forced to leave and seek new shelter. Once again we retreated along the bustling streets, where neon lights were beaming everywhere, and creeping smog rendered peoples’ faces lost and helpless. Elder street vendors were selling every last bit of their wares, hawking outmoded objects of their forefathers. Finally we arranged some cardboard boxes in an alley, just for one night’s sojourn. We knew it was still a long road ahead. That night felt like a year.
Another morning we were driven out from previous night’s hideout, as we had become accustomed to, and while out scouring the streets for food the girl stumbled upon a forgotten temple. A dense fog hovered in the air, as if the place was high up in the clouds. The temple was too crammed with dark painted bronze figures of canine deities for her to even find a way in. She sensed from these figures, a time of strife and warfare harkening back thousands of years, a time when mankind destroyed the earthly body of Buddha and the Gods. These sacred bodies had subsequently been sold and dispersed throughout the world for thousands of years. This temple had become the haven for these anthropomorphized animal figures since then.
Realizing she had in fact lost consciousness, the girl awoke to find the temple floating among the clouds, an island in the sky. Only then did it dawn upon her that humanity will inevitably return to its primal state among the ancient forests, and that the temple suspended in the heavens contained the ghosts of humanity.”
Devilishly slinky techno from French producer Marcelus, back on Tresor, site of his ‘Vibrations’ LP release
There’s two proper rug-cutters on board, namely the swingeing Afro-Latin percolations of Magnet, with its mesmerising lead and sizzling drums, and the crankier Regis-in-the-Amazon styles of Say It Again, which are both sure to make you dance better, while the other cuts explore more sunken, dreamy space in the cavernous, rolling designs of Paranthesis, and the brownian slosh of Descent.
Awesome set of also-ran Brazilian beauties plucked out by Millos Kaiser ov Selvagem. Worth it for Vånia Bastos’ head-turning cover of Sweetest Taboo alone, to be fair… 1000% killer no filler!
“Some crate-digging compilations are often the result of someone hand-picking their choice favourites from another country’s musical history, perhaps unaware or uninvolved with its cultural lineage in the process. On Soundway’s latest release - a treasure trove of synth jams, pop, samba boogie, balearic and electro from 1980 & ‘90s Brazil - the tracks are picked by Millos Kaiser, one half of the Brazilian duo Selvagem, who are at the helm of throwing some of the country’s best dance parties. It’s a rare compilation that offers Brazilian music actually picked by a Brazilian
Whilst names such as Ricardo Bomba, Villa Box, Fogo Baiano, Electric Boogies and Batista Junior may not be household names, they tell an untold, yet rich and important part of musical history in Brazil. The release also covers a decade that has been intentionally forgotten and brushed aside by many in the country.
Onda De Amor is a release that is loaded with smooth grooves, bubbling bass, glistening synthesisers, funk strutting guitar lines and sheen of production that undeniably marks it of its time. For Kaiser this compilation is about reintroducing music during a period of reappraisal, catching a new wave and hoping contemporary listeners will ride it with him. “The idea is to do justice to these songs. Songs that combine all the right ingredients that should have put them on radio playlists when I was growing up or at least in the cases of more adventurous DJs”.
Millos Kaiser is a DJ, digger, vinyl junkie/dealer born in Rio de Janeiro and living in São Paulo for the past 8 years. He launched the dance party/club night Selvagem with partner Trepanado in 2010, bringing thousands of dancers one Sunday a month to a public square in the heart of São Paulo.”
Cinematic neo-classical orchestrations meet heavily textured electronics in a way recalling Ben Frost and Jon Hopkins
"Ben Chatwin’s 'Staccato Signals' is the South Queensferry-based composer's second album with Village Green, following 2015's ‘The Sleeper Awakes’.
Ben initially set out to make a purely electronic record, using analogue and modular synthesisers, harnessing the unpredictability of hardware sequencers to write melodic lines rather than by hand with a keyboard. This was about giving up control to the machines – leaving them to their own devices, allowing chance and random elements to decide the direction of the music, ultimately making them more of a collaborator than a tool.
However, towards the end of its writing, not satisfied with the results, Ben was overcome with the feeling that he needed to push what he had created further into new territory, in order to invent entirely new sounds and textures. He decided to work with a string quartet, exploring innovative ways to fold, bury and combine both strings and brass into his industrial, noisy and chaotic electronic template. Again, this was about giving up control – working with other musicians, allowing them to improvise and arrange parts in order to find those special moments where something unexpected happens. The writing process became a search for those moments, the short, sharp flashes of inspiration – the staccato signals.
Throughout the album mournful strings are engulfed by harsh, all-encompassing synths, while disorienting climaxes of blazing electronics recall the deafening loudness of an inferno. Yet while the jagged, synthesized textures that needle the album together might call to mind such devastating imagery, the acoustic instruments that feature throughout the album continuously provide a more human counterbalance.
Following ‘The Sleeper Awakes’ (2015) and ‘Heat & Entropy’ (2016), ‘Staccato Signals’ is Ben’s third album under his own name. It’s a bolder and more ambitious record than anything he has written before, largely the result of relinquishing different levels of control over the musical process. It’s an album which smoulders with an almost aggressive darkness, yet one that is laced with melodic glimmers of light.”
So yeh, who the f*ck is Aasthma? Seems like it might be Peder Mannerfelt and Pär Grindvik. Oh aye, tis them.
They here rework Mustn’t Hurry from Plunge with a rude injection of ’91-style ‘ardcore riffs and blistered breakbeats, saving a darkside ruckus for the finale. Proper dance-pop!
A long-distance collaboration between Aaron Moore (Volcano The Bear, Gospel Of Mars, duo with Alan Courts) and Norwegian Erik K. Skodvin (Svarte Greiner, Deaf Center, B/B/S). It developed gently, taking its full form over the space of nearly 6 years.
"The project began with e-mail exchanges of fragmented sounds and ideas - on the piano, cello, drums, harp, vocals, homemade and electronic instruments. Their experimental correspondence eventually blossomed and grew into an exquisite, fully-fledged album of brooding cinematic compositions.
Through 7 songs, Moore and Skodvin lead us through complex, haunted, minimalistic pieces. They are surreal, sonically fascinating and deeply moving. A very special and original album in both its conception and result - definitely one of a kind in the HITD discography.”
A strong breeze of Cajun twang from 1920’s Louisiana, delivered by the excellent Death Is Not The End
Taking its title from the first in a series of Cajun recordings made in New Orleans and released by Columbia Records, namely the Segura Brothers’ Bury Me In The Corner Of The Yard, the rest of the set follows suit with infectious stompers, rattlers and wheezers about whiskey-running, unrequited love and turtle stew, by excellent names such as Artelus Mistric and Blind Uncle Gaspard, all with equally charming tunes to boot.
Since the age of seventeen, Houston-born Daniel Hipólito has been capturing, fragmenting, and reconfiguring his life experiences as Smokey Emery.
"Hipólito has become a well established fixture amongst many experimental and electro-acoustic music circles by releasing a myriad of dense ambient works comprised of dismantled field recordings reinvented through tape manipulation. Though moving transiently between cities for much of his adult life, Hipólito perpetually equips himself with a recording device to connect his geographically disparate chapters of life into meaningful vignettes of self reflective audio-journalism. Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. III: Qui Mal y Pense depicts a catalog of human conditions from multiple viewpoints and chronologies, allowing each composition to coalesce into a greater framework of substantive contextual meaning and expression.
The Soundtracks for Invisibility series is a compilation of pieces that conceptually center themselves around specific subjects and/or spaces; by integrating an array of recorded sounds from various perspectives and revealing them on vastly altered timelines, Hipólito is able to link multitudes of displaced moments into potently cogent soundscapes. In this way Smokey Emery utilizes time and substance as compositional elements that play an equal, if not dominant role to tonal relationship within the music's sonic architecture. Recorded and mixed while bouncing between ad hoc studios in Houston, Portland, Brighton (UK), San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and finally Austin, the Soundtracks series archives the collages and audible nuances captured by Hipólito while exploring his frequently changing environments. Smokey Emery's oeuvre of work consists of hand cut reel-to-reel tape loops plucked from his own sound menagerie to be warbled, sped up, slowed down, or reversed and fused together with other loops undergoing unique but similar processes."
Another ace from the pack of Powell’s ‘New Beta Vol. 2’ re-arrives on XL
DruMz VIP finds Powell at his rugged but slippery best, percolating salty dry percussion with bendy acidic synths in one of his tightest binds of skinny post-punk experimentalism with clenched D&B swerve.
Ghoulish, carmine-oozing electro from frenchman-in-Tokyo, Fleck E.S.C. for Sheffield’s CPU
Taking his cues from schlocky horror B-movies soundtracks and sci-fi FX, Fleck cooks up four tracks of tightly coiled electro rhythms, plasmic textures and cryptic signposts, ranging from the shadowy stealth mode of Discrete Opinion and the wiggly funk of The Selfix Job up top, thru to a greasier, acidic disco burn in Little Man recalling NNF’s Xander Harris, and a Oizo-esque bender called Night and Day.
Burnt Friedman in mystic drummer mode for Marionette Records, following suit from their ace Kilchhofer release with a batch of archival recordings shaped as a concept record about Near Death Experiences, transcendence, featuring guest input from longterm collaborators Joseph Suchy and Hayden Chisholm
“Marionette’s fifth installment sees Burnt Friedman channeling some sinister, mystical rhythms. As if a djinn were mapping out a higher order logic map. This is some visionary work that is riddled with contradicting non-human concepts, brought to life with geometry and intuition.
‘Dead Saints Chronicles’ is an ode to drawing fascination from Near Death Experiences (NDEs). The title for the EP is inspired from a book written by David Solomon and Antony West, involving sifting through thousands of recorded NDEs, a process similar to that which Friedman used to revive pieces from his archive of DAT tapes.
Ganging up on Perc Trax, Manni Dee goes head first with the raving piledriver Gulabi Gang, Rebekah wrests the thistly pound of Diamond In The Rough, Scalameriya turn out the galloping industrial poison of Slobodna, and John Heckle sets off the fire alarm on Head Front Panel’s Furious.
One of Bristol’s worst kept secrets, Spiritflesh - outed as the duo of DJ October and Borai - piles their considerable weight behind four hulking riddims built, Frankenstein’s monster style, from elements of doom metal, EBM and industrial noise fused with dub pressure
At last, No Corner deign to commit Spiritflesh’s début with Menace, following up a handful of low key compilation and demo tape appearances with a beastly manifesto of dreader-than-dread intent.
Mortuary kicks off the EP on a roiling Afro tip with swingeing drums pinned into place by rolicking snare in a way recalling Mark Ernestus Ndagga Rhythm Forces’s Walo Walo, but redone by Cut Hands. pimp Femme is more spacious, heady, with warped vox infiltrating a sort of collapsed EBM groove and dark blue pads in ritualistic manner.
Impasse is utterly ghoulish, with the bass sucked below a dense shoal of ghostly dub figures, perhaps imagining a spawn of Drexicya, and the black hole of Cobalt Links opens its gargantuan jaws to anyone foolhardy to get close enough.
Filigree electro-acoustic blend of modern classical strings, jazz-fusion wind, and razor sharp electronics, landing somewhere between Alva-Noto and Golden Retriever
““Elusive Balance” explores the relationship between humans and nature, as well as the search for balance between these two great entities.
The theme of equilibrium and its precariousness, and its natural tendency to achieve relative stability connects all living things. Equilibrium is also a junction point and evolutionary engine – unstable and elusive, ready to deteriorate and to start a new reaction mechanism bringing organisms to a new harmony.
Beauty is a rare and fleeting thing; it often corresponds to those phases where we can grasp that unstable equilibrium which exists between us and the world at large.
Musically the album seeks resolution of sound contrasts, in a continuous search for an emotional component that gives simultaneously a feeling of tension and stillness. There is a duality between the ‘organic’ components (represented by soprano sax and percussion) and their interaction with machines and computers.
In “Elusive Balance”, OZMOTIC investigate the essence of their sound to expand its emotional and compositional potential. Each track contains a search for a synthesis between sound elements apparently distant from each other, but in reality create a new balance – as poetic as it is musical.
The album’s seven tracks draw a sonic flow in which the melodic aspects are countered by glitches and angular sounds, and the ambient passages are subjected to heavy rains of rhythm, leaving space for dreamlike moments.”
Holger give Cologne’s Barnt room to run his synthiest fancies with the steepled majesty of A-Seite 1-5 and a steely techno thruster titled If She Says She Is A Healer, She Is A Healer.
From the artwork to the tunes this is a class package. A-side he oscillates between ecclesiastic, kosmiche and peak trance synth styles with a poised, wide-eyed lushness that will works wonders on the ‘floor, whereas the B-side makes up for that relative whimsy with a regulated kick to the chest precipitating a massive lead like some Levon Vincent meets The Mover fantasy.
Them feels come flooding back with HTRK’s looong anticipated return on Drama / More To Enjoy
Signalling a bigger body of work due on the horizon, Drama hurts good with Jonine at her crepuscular, ghostly best stalking a swaying field of breezing, dubbed out guitar and spindly 808s with deliciously marshy bass underfoot. More to Enjoy is more spacious, but equally sylvan, reaching a clearing of phosphorescing synth pads frosted with hi-hats and spider-webbed guitar strokes, where Jonine floats above the scene in spellbinding style.
It’s proper grown up pop for lovers.
Blinding new batch of synth and computer music chaos from Dave Burraston’s cultishly regarded NYZ. With such a wild variation to his purist approach it’s perhaps silly to draw comparisons or contrasts, but these are patently some of NYZ’s sweeter treats, such as the curdled harmonics of ‘ARTOFNYZbitcompander’ and the funky lil’ vamps of ‘RLD syncs’ for more insatiable and curious listeners. In other words it’s fucking ace!
“When John Chowning discovered FM synthesis it was seen as the promised land. Anything and everything could be synthesized, it was said, by use of this brilliant, simple idea: sine waves modulating other sine waves in any number of patch matrices, producing complex combinations of sidebands. And as such; almost infinite spectral potentiality for composers and performers alike! In other words - spectrum splitting potential, which is exactly how NYZ approaches it in this collection of mad and utterly unpredictable pieces.
Seemingly held together by the determination (or lack thereof) of a chaotic system in a clinical, synthetic sound environment, these pieces are raw and made up of ploddy notes strolling through timbral in-between places from infamous synthesizer presets. Imitating organs, bass guitars and percussive instruments mutating seamlessly into alien non-referential sounds, some notes intensely are sustained and some strung together in vibrant and organic, breathing sequences by Burraston’s MANIAC Cellular Automata Sequencer.
‘NTE GDN’ is a thoroughly eccentric and expressive musical experience containing melodic interval jumps of what seems to be an algorithm impersonating Schönberg, only stopping to descend into a dronal stasis.”
Fade to Mind keep up the pressure felt on BE3K’s Exoneration with this baaad album/mixtape set from Brooklyn’s Rizzla, who last featured on the label with Iron Cages  and a remix of D∆WN’s Infrared.
Jersey house, B-More bass, C*nty kicks, ‘ardcore jungle and broken dembows are slung in the blender and come out mutant af for the ‘floor, turning up proper dancer’s music in the ruff play of Link Me Up, on the wickedly tucked breakbeat chops of Adepta, and on a bruising reggaeton flex with And Stay Down. Special mention to the Russian Forest Rave donks of Test Man, and the R&G 2-step of Be a Boy.
DeepChord rebuild the proprioceptive dub techno sorcery of Fluxion’s Multidirectional I+II for Subway Jpn
The first part is a heavy-lidded roller in time-honoured DeepChord style, with swollen subs anchoring dynamic dub chord plumes and a lingering watermark of a melody. In the 2nd part they take more than a minute to find their ballast, before navigating a misty, gently rolling sea of overlapping baselines with wide, searching chords.
Shades of deeper blue techno-house from Ian Lehman’s Doubt
Elegantly carrying its weight from he bittersweet reflection of Wallow to the skudgy swing and ice blue melodies of Bad Plans, and swinging it off with What Is Happening, then coming to terms with whatever was doing him in, to get dark and grubby on Samisen.
The debut album by UK/South African duo Okzharp and Manthe Ribane.
"Okzharp says 'most of the music came out of headphone moments in hotel rooms, planes and airports in the brief periods of time that we spent together, mainly on tour, in Paris and later Vienna', a city Manthe describes as a 'beautiful dream place'.
Okzharp describes Manthe as a ‘co-producer’, ‘she selected instrumental sketches and we developed them together, sometimes just keeping the bare bones or a melody or rhythm, or trying different elements or sounds.
Even thought the album was built long distance, the short periods they spent together were the ground zero for creativity, Okzharp recalls 'One particular moment in Milan last year, ‘we had a whole free day before our flight so we visited the Salone di Mobile design show. We were so
inspired by an installation there just walking around, listening to the amazing soundtrack.
That evening our flight was delayed, so we sat on the floor of the airport terminal putting musical ideas down for 'Time Machine' on the laptop speakers and writing the lyrics. "Tic Toc time, we'll be fine /Airport queues, cerulean blues / Viper trails cross the skies / Lights reflect in your eyes...'
The album has a softness and openness that contrasts the tougher sound of the EPs. Manthe explains, 'The new music is a 360 turn, It an expression of my “Lady” side, I grew up listening to Jazz, Classic and Gospel, I am a very soft spoken person, and it resonates with being confident with that. It's been crazy finding balance and finding a smart way to strengthen my weaknesses, I had to trust the process.’ Of the songs she says ‘They are part of the world now, I hope everyone feels motivated and inspired to be more after listening to the album.’”
Ron Trent reworks the chunky boogie-soul budge of Skymark’s ‘Find a Place In This Crazy World’, backed with the 2015 original, both cut loud ’n proud
The original is a radiant slice of soul revolving big, shuffling drums and a pealing vocal set in acres of reverb, while Ron Trent cools things out by a few degrees on the B-side with smoother groove and levelled vocals for duskier, gently gripping shuffle.
Brooding sophomore album by Manchester basin specialist Walton, following from the ‘Beyond’  album with Hyperdub
Precision tooled with a paucity of ingredients drawn from sino-grime, dubstep, and bashy dancehall, Black Lotus finds Walton optimising his sound for pressurised impact on big rigs as well as headphone use, giving up some strong highlights in the bolshy No Mercy feat. a barking vocal by Riko Dan, thru to clenched swang of Mad Zapper and the tempered percussive rage of Angry Drummer.
Spellbinding soul-jazz salvo from Sudan ’92, sung in Arabic and english, and played with pronounced American and Ethiopian influences to strikingly unique effect. A real beauty. Hard to believe it was made in the ‘90s. Sounds like an unreleased ‘60s or ’70s peach! If you copped ‘Habibi Funk (An Eclectic Selection of Music From The Arab World)’, you need this one, too…
“Songs about the unity of Sudan, peace between Muslims and Christians and the fate of war orphans, backed by grooves equally taking influence from Arabic sounds, American funk as well as neighbouring Ethiopia.
Kamal Keila was among the first artist we met in Sudan during our two trips to Khartoum and Omdurman last year. He is one of the key figures of the Sudanese jazz scene that was a vital part of the musical culture in Sudan from the mid 1960s until the islamist revolution in the late 1980s. When we meet Kamal he luckily presented us with two mold covered studio reels.
Each tape included five tracks. One with English lyrics and another with Arabic ones. Musically you can hear the influence of neighboring Ethiopia much more than on other Sudanese recordings of the time, as well as references to Fela and American funk and soul. His lyrics, at least when he sings in English which gave him more freedom from censorship, are very political. A brave statement in the political climate of Sudan of the last decades, preaching for the unity of Sudan, peace between Muslims and Christians and singing the blues about the fate of war orphans called Shmasha.
A note inside one of the boxes specified the track titles, durations and the fact that the sessions were recorded on the 12th of august 1992. Both sessions stand as a hearable testament how Kamal Keila stuck to a sound aesthetic from decades ago, while incorporating current events into his lyrics.
Kamal Keila's album is the first in a series of releases covering the Sudanese jazz scene on Habibi Funk. Be on the lookout for albums by The Scorpions and Sharhabeel coming soon.”
Moog-assisted Nigerian disco pearls originally issued in 1976 and practically impossible to get hold of ever since. First vinyl reissue, officially licensed from the band
“Official Mr Bongo reissue of the ultra-rare album by ‘Super Elcados’. A fusion of heavyweight Nigerian funk, soul & disco, originally released by EMI Nigeria in 1976.
The ‘Super Elcados’ (and ’Elcados’ on other recordings) recorded three albums in the mid and late-70’s, this is their first. It was followed by ‘This World Is Full Of Injustice’ and ‘What Ever You Need’.”
Tolouse Lowtrax, I:Cube, DJ Normal 4, and Dalo queue up reworks of Benedikt Frey’s ‘Artificial’ LP
Picks of the bunch are the the woozy, viscous take on ‘H For Hysteria’ by Tolouse Lowtrax, and a frazzled acid breakbeat rave rework of ‘Private Crimes’ by localisch guy DJ Normal 4.
I:Cube serves a straighter-played acid house version of ‘H For Hysteria’, and DaLo (who dat?) reworks ‘Private Crimes’ with a pendulous swang before locking into a tuffer 4/4 momentum.
Since the release of his last solo album, 2010’s elegant Kokning, Torske has kept busy with a steady drip of single and EP releases as well as reissues of his first two albums, 1998's Nedi Myra and 2001's Trøbbel, and last year's collaboration with Prins Thomas, Square One.
"Apart from having made this album entirely by myself, this was also more planned," Torske states regarding the differences between Byen and Square One. "My collaboration with Thomas was pretty ad-hoc and messy in its conception, but this album is cleaner and more straightforward—more primed for the dance floor." Whereas much of Torske's previous work (including 2007's Feil Knapp) featured tracks that had been in gestation for years, Byen's songs were recorded entirely within the confines of 2017.
"My original idea was to keep things simple and more driven by melodies than has been my wont with the earlier releases," he states regarding his thematic intentions behind Byen. "Still, I am always considering myself to produce music for DJs, so there is hopefully some material that will find its way to select dance floors."
Toshimaru Nakamura’s improvised Ex Nihilo (something from nothing) approach to the no-input mixing board reaps more alien sounds for Room40, giving voice to electronic gremlins that live in the wires of ostensibly inanimate machines
“Re-Verbed (No-Input Mixing Board 9) is the latest edition from Tokyo based artist Toshimaru Nakamura.
The No-Input Mixing Board is a unique instrument pioneered by Nakamura. As its name suggests, it is a mixing console within which external no input exists. The instrument is fuelled only by its own feedback. Initially used by Nakamura as a more tonal instrument, creating incredibly high frequency outputs, over time the mixing board has become decided more rhythmic and harmonic. It is this sonic territory that is the focus of this edition.
Re-Verbed (No-Input Mixing Board 9) is by far one of Nakmura’s most musical recordings. The board’s tonality is front and centre; low pulses and cavernous pulses fizzle and murmur with a subtle but frenetic energy. Drifting into decidedly dub oriented directions, Nakamura allows the instrument to breathe; specifically he finds new dimensions to the ways interference can be brought into harmony within the pieces. While the instrument might suggest a sense of indeterminacy, Nakamura’s intimate relationship with it means he can maintain an unerring sense of control over it.
Re-Verbed (No-Input Mixing Board 9) is evidence of his intense capacity to create profound work with this most unusual of devices. A conjuring of something truly unique from literally nothing.”
Somehow still a secret, even though he’s played DJ sets under the alias...
E. Myers gets fruity again with two cuts of suave disco NRG in the crisp ‘80s swang and strapping, chromed out bass arps of I Am Alive, and the spine-tracing proto-trance/EBM mongrel, Dreamland.