The Two EPs by Owen Pallett on Domino.
"The first EP, Spectrum, 14th Century, is a “prequel” to Pallett’s celebrated album Heartland, set in the same fictional world of Spectrum. Pallett: “When I realized Heartland was going to be a ‘fantasy’ album, I imagined that the Spectrum EP would serve as a map of the countryside, as one would find in the first pages of a fantasy novel.”
The second EP, Plays to Please, is Pallett’s tribute to Van Dyke Parks’ arrangement style, and is their first foray into full orchestral production. In the spirit of Nilsson Plays Newman, it is a collection of interpretations of the works of songwriter Alex Lukashevsky."
Over-easy DIY soul and bedroom jazz-funk by Tulsa’s Bryan Crenshaw aka The Growth Eternal, looping back to Leaving Records after his 2020 debut.
‘PARASAiL-18’ is what contemporary soul sounds like without all the major label gloss and trappings. Sharing an intimacy with Dawuna, but more psychedelic with it - The Growth Eternal lets the soul flow in nine parts of richly layered but raw harmonies and intricate chord progressions, synched to down-stroked offbeats, cloaked in a fug of bedroom atmosphere.
There’s a lowkey ingenuity at work between the pendulous baseline and footwork-typewriter percussion on ‘Sustainer’ and the finger-click percussion of ‘Slide on Me’ that permeates the whole record, with standout moments registered in the contemplative, cosmic R&B flex of ‘Roden’, a lo-slung sort of deep house winner ‘Within Me’, and the blushing tone to ‘Braid’.
Dub techno brilliance by the boss Levon Vincent on his Novel Sound label
Both sides are built for the long haul by a master of his craft. They effectively pick up where 2009’s The Medium is the Message’ left off at the peak of the Berghain sound, with the A-side’s 13 minute long mix teasing out the reverberating chords on a powerful kick, occasionally buckling with dive-bombing subs, and ultimately resolving with dabs of sublime pads. The 8 minute short mix intensifies the formula with streaks of filtered contrails resembling a distant jet engine or mentasm. Simply, it’s deadly.
4th World explorer Jon Hassell hustles alternate takes and studio jams from 1990’s ‘City: Works of Fiction’ in the 2014 suite of ‘Psychogeography (Zones Of Feeling)’
Originally part of the 3CD edition of ‘City: Works of Fiction’ (2014), and surely worthy of this standalone version, ‘Psychogeography (Zones Of Feeling)’ sees Hassell review and rework his sampledelic classic with tight edits owing to Chuck D’s Bomb Squad collages for Public Enemy as much as Teo Macero’s hidden tape-splice stitching on Miles Davis’ electric jazz-fusion records. The original 1989 recordings form a futuristic sci-fi funk, loosened up with lessons from dub and existing on a singular plane of practice that would bleed into works by Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald, and has come to heavily inform the likes of Oneohtrix Point Never and Lifted,
Newly remastered by Stefan Betke (aka Pole) for the occasion, this posthumous reissue refreshes Hassell’s enduring vision for posterity and deeper immersion by new ears. The 11 parts are prime late night listening, atmospherically coloured with Hassell’s distinctive trumpet tone and spaced out to blissful degrees ideal for eyes-shut wandering. It’s not hard to hear the ruggedness of late ‘70s fusion and ‘80s hip hop under the hood, yet abstracted and unmoored from the street and allowed to float above the city, as implied on ‘Aerial View’ and the sublime fluorescent noir of ‘Neon Night (Rain)’, or in the hard swang of ‘Cityism Superdub’. The serene sashay of ‘Cuba Libre’ is a big highlight, as is the more unusually raw room recording of ‘Favela’, while the album ideally slants off into the night with its most spectral dub work ‘Emerald City’ and ‘Cloud-Shaped Time’ pre-echoing the kind of quizzical jazz-fusion soundtracks to Manga ‘Magnetic Rose’ that would feed forward into 0PN.
Kassem Mosse returns with a first new album in what feels like years, brimming with deep, woodcut rhythms and a puckered jazz-house playfulness.
‘Workshop 32’ is KM'’s first solo LP, proper, since the relatively uptempo gait of 2017’s ‘Chilazon Garden’. Since then, the producer has busied himself with an album as Seltene Erden for YOUTH and work as Flights and DJ Residue for TTT, but these 10 new tracks are a return to what made him such a cult lo-fi house and techno figurehead over a decade ago; sprouting an hour of hypnotic, frayed drums and peppery rhythmelody that wanders off from the wonky grids of Theo Parrish or Jamie Hodge with his own brand of groggy strut.
Purpose-built for half-cut heads elegantly teetering on wasted legs, the whole set seems to bask in a sort of perpetual half-light of the party. Bony rhythms and spangled hooks suggest - rather than force - bodies in motion with a poetic nimbleness under the hood that shows up so many lo-fi house interlopers in comparison.
The 10 trax dance in and out the lines with a deeply satisfying, hands-on tekkerz; zigzagging from A1’s bleep house jazz to uptempo offerings at the altar of Theo in A2, and skudged beatdown of A3, thru to wigged out funk of B1 and a killer lather of scatting soul vox and scuffed drums on C1, while gathering proper club momentum on C2 and D1, and cutting deeper with the lissom cat’s cradle of strings and splintered rhythms in D2 and the superb closer ‘Provide Those Ends’. Class.
Electro expert Martin Matiske reverts to his lesser-spotted Blackploid alias for a full LP of tangy, obsessively detailed machine funk in a classic Teutonic-Detroit mode.
“For CPU’s first release of 2023, Matiske levels things up with the debut Blackploid LPEnter Universe. Across these twelve tracks, Matiske leaves us in no doubt that he’s a prime mover in the world of modern electronic music.Enter Universedoes not let up from start to finish, delivering a dozen pieces of leftfield electro that draws from the sound’s greats while also showcasing an unpredictability and flair that is all of Blackploid’s own.
The tone is set from the first frosty chords of opening cut ‘Pulsation’. The track traverses the starscape on pitter-patter drums and chirruping synths, a lively and slightly dystopian roller with an adventurous undercurrent reminiscent of classic Rephlex drops. It’s a style which Blackploid often draws for throughout the rest ofEnter Universe, albeit with elements added or subtracted at each stage.
Indeed, this album features some of the most unusual production you will hear on any record this year. While the grooves pulse away in a manner reminiscent of Drexciya or Legowelt, Blackploid layers the mixes with a whole cornucopia of synth tones. ‘The Mission’ boasts a bleep-bloop breakdown that sounds like malfunctioning rotary telephones; ‘Silent Room’ is a ghoulish jam which harks back to Warp’s legendaryArtificial Intelligencecompilations; ‘Automatik’ and ‘Wormhole’ are defined by some brilliantly strange low-ends – you’ll be thinking of Mr. Oizo’s ‘Flat Beat’ with the wiggly former, while the gurgling, writhing anti-lead that dictates ‘Wormhole’ is oddly thrilling and more than befits the track’s title.”
Mayhem and Sunn O))) "extreme metal vocalist" Attila Csihar evokes ancient rituals on this startling long-form headtrip recorded in Baalbek, the home of Lebanon's immense Roman monoliths. Combining throat singing techniques with field recordings and xenharmonic wind sounds, Csihar transports us to a world of forgotten ancient technologies and mysticism.
Csihar developed the Void Ov Voices project almost two decades ago as an outlet for his interest in ritual forms. His idea was to develop ephemeral, site-specific performances that would draw their power from the spaces themselves, feeding into history. His fascination with ancient ruins led him to Baalbek, a city in Lebanon formerly known as Heliopolis that's home to some of the world's most impressive Roman ruins. The temple complex, made of gigantic slabs of white granite and rough white marble, contains the world's largest monoliths, a fact that had preoccupied Csihar for years. In 2008 he visited the site to attempt to channel some of that history and energy into his music. He was struck by the ruins of the Jupiter Temple, now just a plateau of stones, and wondered if the once enormous structure might have been the inspiration for the Biblical Tower of Babel. The thought buzzed around his head as he perched on top of the Stone of the South, the world's biggest worked monolith at 1242 tons, and performed his sonic incantation.
In 2012, he returned to Lebanon to recapture this feeling and record the moment. In the time since his original visit, he'd discovered that the Hungarian artist Csontváry Kosztka Tivadar had been inspired by the same ancient location - his 1907 painting "Sacrifical Stone" adorns the cover of the album, "I could not visualise my music better than Csontváry on this beautiful painting," he explains in the album's press release.
'Sacrificial Stone' is an unearthly, bright reimagining of the Baalbek ruins situated somewhere between fantasy and reality; Csihar attempts to harness the same visual, breathing wavering tones and bends his voice into shapes that straddle speech, animalistic growling and singing. His two side-long treatments are revelatory - the Hungarian vocalist has been developing the style since the mid-1980s and at this stage has created a vocal technique that pretty much stands alone, despite obvious infleuence from various indigenous singing styles, sacred methodologies and avant-garde practices.
There's little trace of his work in metal bands on display here, but the crushing power of the genre still inhabits the outer edges of his compositions. His voice froths and oscillates against looping drones and Sunn O)))-adjacent rattles, but it's not strictly drone music, it's the distant reverberation of ancient greek devotional poetry, of Roman pagan rituals, of early plainsong and Byzantine chants, of sufi music and of Buddhist forms. Whether you're into sacred music, subwoofer-ready drone, or Mike Patton's acrobatic vocal experiments, it's a deeply absorbing listen.
Overseen by Eno on the mixing desk, Hassell’s live group perform material from 1990’s 4th world/avant-jazz/funk classic ‘City: Works of Fiction’, recorded months prior in '89 as part of an A/V installation inside the World Financial Center Winter Garden in New York City
‘The Living City (Live at the Winter Garden 17 September 1989)’ depicts Hassell playing with the band the assembled to record ‘City: Works of Fiction’, only months before its proper release. At Brian Eno’s request, they performed as part of an audio-visual installation in the 10-storey vaulted-glass pavilion in a building not far from the ill-fated Twin Towers. Eno designed the installation with inspiration from the “hunting, ceremony, animals, and weather sounds of the Ba-Ya-Ka pygmy tribe” recorded by Louis Sarno, and furthering Eno & Hassell’s fascination with pygmy music, as found on ‘Ba-benzélé’ from their groundbreaking ‘Fourth World Vol.1 - Possible Musics’ salvo of 1980.
The six cuts showcase Hassell’s visionary command of avant-funk and contemporary jazz in the live arena. Channelling lessons learned from electric fusion-era Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, the stripped down ruggedness of Chuck D’s Bomb Squad production for Public Enemy, and a rarely paralleled knowledge of non-western styles, the band lure in with the atmospheric richness of ‘Ituri’, surely benefitting from Eno’s input, and swagger between deadly, durational iterations of ‘Alchemistry’, the clipped funk of ‘Adedara Rising’, and the pitching angularities of ‘Mashujaa’, to a poignant standout in ‘Paradise Now’, and really stretch out in the 18 min wonder of ‘Night Sky’, where Eno’s behind-the-curtain mixing suss really comes into play again.
On Origins Chris Bartels takes on the role of singer-songwriter for the first time under his Elskavon moniker.
"Origins is vast yet intimate, fluttering yet cohesive, tattered yet clean, a little like rainfall during sunlight. Shedding the ambient-classical confines of his previous output, the album’s opener and title track, offers a swirling mosaic of acoustic textures that recall the beloved duo The Books, laced with warped vocal utterances flitting in and out of a club-friendly beat. “Origins” is followed by the equally danceable “Coastline,” which drives home the smiling melodies and intricate sound-design that form the spine of Origins, keeping Bartels’ voice in a largely decorative and impressionistic role up to this point.
“Blossom and the Void” dissolves the introductory tension as Bartels comes out lyrically swinging, his digitized voice chanting widely over the mutated New Wave-esque anthem. Here, Bartels shows his instinct for dynamics by rising to bombast and quickly dispelling it, making steep yet graceful descents into skilfully delicate sound-design.
Throughout Origins, the patient glacial aesthetic of his previous work is still discernible there are wordless, expansive panoramas that stretch out patiently for minutes at a time and smartly resist the impulse to pack each moment with a persona made even more impactful when Bartels chooses to wield it. At other times, his spokesmanship is woven discreetly into a larger tapestry, like on “See Out Loud” (and its ambient reprise) where Bartels’ voice shimmers from a distance, covering the scene in diffuse splendour."
Phew's furiously original 1992 album is a collaboration with D.A.F.'s Chrislo Haas, who helped mastermind the enduringly intriguing session alongside Einstürzende Neubauten's Alex Hacke, Can's Jaki Liebezeit, and Thomas Stern.
What better way to follow-up 'New Decade', Hiromi Moritani's stunning return to Mute, than with a reissue of her last brush with the label back in 1992? "Our Likeness" was an album that had been years in the making when it arrived. When Moritani had been recording her 1981 debut album in Conny Plank's studio, after parting ways with her punk band Aunt Sally, she ran into Chrislo Haas who sat and watched her record without saying a word. Soon after he visited her in Tokyo and the two vowed to work together; a few months later they revisited Plank's studio and recorded "Our Likeness" with Haas's carefully picked team of session players.
Musically it's an album that was painfully misunderstood on its release and has matured like a fine wine. Moritani's guttural delivery is well-matched to her band's tightly wound post-punk instrumentation; she's a versatile performer and easily slides from manic screaming to pitchy ballideering, riding the rhythms like a rapper at one moment and swooping like a circuit bent theremin at another. Opening track 'The Last Song' is dark and ritualistic, and introduces Moritani's vocals slowly, with sparse, haunted instrumentation, but the title track is a complete about turn, setting wobbly guitar riffs against Moritani's acrobatic Japanese phrasing.
It's on 'Being' that we get a taste of how far Moritani is able to push things, screaming over pounding drums and Wire-like serrated guitars - moments later the mood is reduced to a low-slung dub crawl on 'Like Water And Water', and Moritani's vocals are more like a possessed whisper. There's a level of ambition here that's hard to overstate; it's quite clear that both Haas and Moritani were driven to produce music that wasn't simply a carbon copy of what had already done, they wanted to craft something that challenged both of them. Years later it still sounds like a wrinkle in time, an album that exists just outside the established logic of the early 1990s.
Mute founder Daniel Miller and legendary engineer Gareth Jones (Einstürzende Neubauten, Erasure, Yann Tiersen) vibe out in enviably well-stocked studios on a 2nd batch of improvisations
The illustrious duo have used the Sunroof moniker for remixes dating back some 25 years to their rework of Can, and finally firmed up the project with original material on 2021’s ‘Electronic Music Improvisations Vol.1’. This next volume witnesses Sunroof following their nose for curious tones and pulses across eight parts of mercurial electronics that simply revel in the thrill of creation and the strangeness of electronic music for anyone who shares their fascination with wires and knobs. There’s no narrative or concept behind the release - just the sound of two boffins who know their kit inside out and fancy making some freaky nosies.
The results come to resemble a host of possible reference points ranging from the early electronics of Stockhausen or Dick Raaijmakers to more kosmik vectors of Conrad Schnitzler and the shapehifting quality of Kay Logan’s Otherworld works. They are diaristic pieces, sketched to tape canvas in-the-moment, and sprawling between the sloshing pulses of ‘January #2’, to club-adjacent freeform techno-kosmiche on ‘October’, taking in diced-up vox and spangled darkside noise on ‘July #2’, balletic kosmiche in ‘November’, and a collage of dial-strafing radio samples and alien electronics in ‘July #1’.
Khotin harks back to simpler times with 'Release Spirit', melting warm electronic tones into beats that sound as if they're wrapped in a mud-stained drug rug.
Dylan Khotin-Foote had already shifted his focus towards softer sounds before the pandemic, lockdown just made the switch more complete. 'Release Spirit' is his attempt at a full-length to define this new era, combining the dusty lo-fi squiggling of his beloved early material with the softpacked haze of the ambient techno and IDM era. Using crusty old gear like a Casio SK-1, Khotin effectively captures that early oughties Neo Ouija/Merck sound on opening track 'HV Road' (seriously it sounds like Brothomstates) before pivoting to sandy psy-tronica on 'Lovely'.
The album's most successful excursions hover around the Artificial Intelligence era: 'Home World 303' sounds like Higher Intelligence Agency, and Tess Roby starrer 'Fountain, Growth' is like Pentatonik reworking Chicane.
Gigi Masin, Jonny Nash and Marco Sterk reconvene their soothing Gaussian Curve trio with a faithfully mellow and utopian suite of ambient lounge jazz themes for Music From Memory. Bath time music
“The Distance is a different musical beats to its predecessor, but shares the same timeless, emotion-rich feel that made Clouds such a hit. While the fundamental ingredients remain the same - Masin’s masterly piano and synthesiser work, Nash’s blissful, meandering guitar lines, and Stewrk’s synths, drum machines and production - The Distance is an album brimming with fresh ideas, and more complex musical arrangements. It’s the sound of three confident collaborators crafting magical musical moments in their own unique way.
This expansive new approach can be heard on “T.O.R”, where Nash’s haunting trumpet and hazy guitars wrap themselves around the kind of hypnotic piano and synth patterns that were once the preserve of American minimalist composers, in the gently breezy positivity of “Ginger Lemon”, and in the loved-up chord progressions and bubbly electronic beats of “Last Breath”. Close your eyes, and you’ll also hear it amongst the sunrise shuffle of “The Distance”, Masin’s hushed vocals on “Smile For Me”, and within the kosmiche influenced sensuality of “Birthday Song”.”
'Person Pitch’ is the third solo album from Animal Collective member Panda Bear, released in 2007.
"Years in the making, ‘Person Pitch’ marks a dramatic departure from Panda Bear’s previous solo record ‘Young Prayer’. The acoustic instruments of ‘Young Prayer’ have been replaced with samplers and electronics."
Pat Thomas redefines jungle nuttiness in this killer 1997 battery, newly reissued on a first time vinyl pressing in the wake of resurfaced jungle experiments by Derek Bailey and Jigen, respectively, from that fecund era of cross-pollinated genres.
Charting one of the maddest mutations of the jungle virus during its creative peak, ‘New Jazz Jungle: Remembering’ arrives on Feedback Moves from a blind spot in the genre that is now coming into sharper focus with likes of Derek Bailey’s improvs over pirate radio, the stone-cut samurai tekkerz of Jigen or Mutamassik’s NYC hip hop-informed collages. Replete with expert liner notes by Edward George (Black Audio Film Collective, Hallucinator), who was immersed in London bassbin and experimental dance culture at the time, the reissue is a shocking reminder of the stylistic freedoms born by jungle’s rupturing of dancefloor time-space, when it emerged from loopy hardcore as the post-bop jazz of the pivotal late ‘90s.
Written and produced by Pat Thomas - a key collaborator of Lol Coxhill and Derek Bailey - on computer plus piano, synth and sampler, it saw Thomas take advantage of multi-track sequencing to orchestrate viscous, rolling, but unpredictable fusions of avant-classical and jazz freedoms on stacked polyrhythms that swivel between unhinged and highly disciplined. Sawn-off snare rolls and springheeled bass detonations smash atoms with samples re-pitched and scaled with serialist strategy owing to Schoenberg or Webern’s tonal systems, achieving a sense of rhythmic psychedelia comparable to 4Hero or Source Direct, yet more feral, ravenous with it.
Between the clattering stepper ‘One Nation’, littered with wild-eyed vocal snippets and angular prangs, and the double nutty recoil of ‘No Surprises’, it sends us reeling at every chop. Whether shredding Remarc samples into hellish strings that would presage Source Direct’s noirest tech-step on ‘Remembering’, or paralleling Mutamassik’s NYC illbient-jazz-jungle swagger on ‘Who Are The Strangers’ and ‘The Reply’, or ruffing up what had, by then, already become too-smooth collages of classic jazz and depth charge steppers on ‘As Well You Know’, Pat Thomas’s endeavours prove to be a totally enduring mutation whose time is really only coming now. Sometimes it just takes everyone else a lifetime to catch up.
Bowing to the court of New Beat; Jade 4U, Praga Khan and Chris Inger’s sexy East-West dancefloor project Shakti is racked up on Stroom’s latest silver platter.
Mixing the raunch of Miss Nikkie Van Lierop aka New Beat siren Jade 4 U with the foundational New Beat chops of prolific producers Chris Inger (Jos Borremans) and Maurice Engelen, and Tej-Doo, plus a coterie of Eastern-Hailing singers and players, Shakti were behind some of New Beat’s sexiest, grown-up classics that contrasted with the genre’s sweet-toothed “nougat beat” strains.
‘Verboten Dromen’ stars nearly half the tracks (the ones you need) from the keenly sought-after ’Shakti featuring Jade 4 U’ (1990) compilation CD - itself drawing from 1988’s equally coveted ’Forbidden Dream / The Awakening’ diamond and 1987’s ‘Demonic Forces’ mini-LP - to supply a strong flavour of Belgium’s briefcase-swinging style in the late ‘80s.
Abiding a formula of sultry female vocals with slow and slick rutting rhythms, noirish synth pads and “exotic” references, the eight trax essentially trace the roots of what would become Euro-dance, spying the style in a formative flux between slower, sozzled Belgian sexiness and a loose mix of Arabic and Indian influences which accounted for one avenue of New Beat, alongside it’s dafter obsessions with Batman and cocaine, to name a few.
Weaving everything from Nabaurak Pran’s 72-string sitar to Dhol-Drums, Nay-Flutes and Japanese Koto with backing vocals by the El Saba-Sisters, the results reach classic heights in the irresistible one-two of ‘Forbidden Dreams’ and ‘The Awakening’, along withe the sultry fanfare of ‘That Boy’ and frothy bop of ‘The Early Train’, while it really all comes together in the come-to-bed vibes of ‘Rainbows’ and the darker lust of ‘Kama Sutra’ - “are you alone tonight?”, and ‘Demonic Forces’ most clearly bridges early industrial pop with ambient dance music.
A late pinnacle of the Drexciyan oeuvre, Storm 2 aka Transllusion's 'The Opening of the Cerebral Gate'.
It's all remarkably bass-heavy compared with a lot of other Drexciyan workouts, resulting in some of their most ruggedly stripped down electro-techno functions ranging from the pounding might of 'Transmission Of Life' to the militant march of 'War Of The Clones' and the funked come-on, 'Do You Want To Get Down'.
On the other hand, it also features stacks of gorgeous Drexciyan melodies in the aquatic flux of 'Cluben In Guyana' and the twinkling keys of 'Unordinary Reality', and to darkest effect on 'Crossing into the Mental Astroplane'.
Highly recommended to all aquanauts.
A fresh, ultra-minimal version of David Bowie's "Low"-era classic 'Subterraneans' featuring Depeche Mode's Martin Gore on vocals? What's not to love?
Released in 1977, "Low" marked a departure and creative peak for Bowie, the first of the Berlin Trilogy that saw him team up with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti. Wordless closing track 'Subterraneans' was a stand-out, originally recorded for Nicholas Roeg's surreal "The Man Who Fell To Earth". Bowie later said the track was dedicated to anyone caught in East Berlin when the city was divided, and that's an element that takes on even more resonance here as it's reimagined by East German minimalist Carsten Nicolai. He's not alone either - William Basinski steps up to duplicate Bowie's memorable sax solo, and Depeche Mode's Gore handles the vocals.
Nicolai's version is a confident cover, even if it isn't a radical departure from the original. It sounds more like a tribute to a track that helped inform the direction of each artist involved, and their way of remembering the original is to subtly insert their own signature sounds into the whole. Smart and touching, it's avant-garde karaoke that's actually worth checking out.
Glasgow’s Cru Servers return to 12th Isle on a subaquatic Balearic bent backed with two choice archival songs by their dad’s post-punk band CCV.
After supplying the 2nd release on 12th Isle with ‘Blubber Totum’ in 2017, Cru Servers’ Rickie & Jamie McNeill have lain low in the studio, marinating hardware in a sticky secret sauce that has become a hallmark of their chewy, downbeat productions. ‘Eel’ oozes with that special crud on eight original works that slunk in the sort of grooves also followed by Beau Wanzer’s ‘A Dead Person’s Monologue’ or the more sun-kissed grog of Glasgow’s Wormhook, all distilled to a viscous brew ideal for escaping grey Scottish skies to bask in the blacklights of subterranean club bunkers or bars.
Icing on the cake is two swaggering songs by their dad’s band CCV tacked on the end that follow their time-out-of-joint logic back to roots in the rip it up and start again ‘80s, namely the James Chance-like ‘Party Time’ and screwball electronics of ’Slot Cut Thru’.
Of all the Sakamoto/YMO reissues, this is the one we’ve waited for the most. Hidari Ude No Yume (Left Handed Dream) was released in 1981 and is here reissued for the first time in decades in its rare Japanese edition - beautifully remastered from the original tapes by Bernie Grundman and sounding better than we’ve ever heard it before, including a 2LP version with a bonus album of instrumental versions pressed on vinyl for the first time ever.
Recorded during a pivotal period for Sakamoto - around the same time as his stunning ‘Bamboo Houses’ with David Sylvian, and in between two classic YMO albums, 'Hidari Ude No Yume basically sounds quite unlike anything he made before or since its release, a sort of anthology of pop interiors made with hi-gloss synths and unexpected edits, from farm animals to simmering, percolated drum machines.
‘Hidari Ude No Yume’ was Sakamoto’s follow-up to the seminal ‘B-2 Unit’, and sees him smudge that album’s angularities into weirder shapes that are somehow both more experimental and oddly accessible. The newly available instrumental versions offer previously unheard perspectives on the remarkably detailed production; including an amazing tweaked-out and extended mix of ‘Relâché’, plus a beautifully slippery mix of the album’s best known highlight, ‘Kacha Kucha Nee’.
It’s a sound that has had countless imitators and acolytes; using the newest Japanese synths, traditional percussion, and his own vocals to create a sort of infectiously rhythmic future-primitivism recalling his work with David Sylvian in the Eastern electro orientation and new wave vocal affectations of ‘Living In The Dark’ and 'Saru To Yuki Gomi No Kodomo’, which also sound incredible in their brighter instrumentals, along with more avant jags into collaged 4th world electro-steppers on ‘Sarunoie,’ and a psychedelic masterwork in the strutting ace ‘The Garden Of Poppies.’
What a record.
After a revelatory 1st volume, Mule Musiq supremo Kuniyuki Takahashi (Koss) digs deeper into his archive, comes out with some sweetly gauzy gems on Early Tape Works 1986-1993 Vol.2
Tessellating perfectly with Music From Memory’s catalogue of obscure riches, this set unfurls seven works ranging from the faded seaside scenery of Island to romantic, chintzy downstrokes on Your Home, and stripped down Sakamoto-esque gestures on Asia. At its apex, Echoes Of The Past blushes a totally sublime colour of Adult Contemporary synth-jazz, leading to the Lynchian atmosphere of Ai Iro, and cascading harps and water sounds in Sakura No Mizu, and closes out with the cinematic panorama of Imagination, which strongly recalls the finest moments of Ensemble Economique, or what he was referencing, at least.
Like the first set, we advise you not to sleep on this stuff.
Properly Entrancing recordings of Eliane Radigue’s ferric alchemy come to light again on vinyl, this time on a better vinyl pressing with calmer surface noise allowing for a finer grasp of her pulsing, filigree microtones and pealing timbral partials. Also, that new cover art is....!!!
Stunning Alga Marghen issue of two previously unreleased masterworks by Eliane Radigue recorded at Pierre Henry's studio between 1967-68. At this time she was working for Henry at his studio, given the enviable task of organising his vast sound library according to different criteria for use in his future compositions and also helping edit his masterpiece 'L'Apocalypse de Jean'. During downtime she had access to an unrivaled array of equipment and created these two compositions. Jouet Electronique' (1967) or 'Feedback on magnetic tape' features two Studer and two Tolana reel tape machines - Radigue would set one to record another and manipulate the discrepancies of phasing feedback loops, or "larsens" with delicate, fine-tuned pitching, "slightly caressing certain potentiometers" to elicit a range of low pulsations and very high pitched sounds as though she were playing a rather unwieldy instrument. The results are ethereal and often alien, yet conducted with an uncannily restrained and human sleight of hand.
Even more visceral is 'Elemental I' (1968) or 'Feedback of natural sounds on magnetic tape' comprises four movements associated with the four basic elements: water, fire, air and earth. Thanks to her former employer, the artist, Arman, she now had a small, portable Stella Vox which she used to record sounds in open air during walks around her home in Nice, capturing the sea, the wind, the rain and fire to form a small sound library. The sources in each section are discernable, but transformed into breathtaking abstractions at her home studiio.
Pure LA stardust from Alex Ho, serving a suave, full-bodied taste of his monthly party and NTS radio show Moony Habits via eight twinkle-toed yacht boogie and terrace-side pearls
Satin-cut and soused in atmosphere, Ho’s debut album is a melt-on-mind treat for those who like it smooth and sensual. Melding his cirrus falsetto soul vocals with feathered synth pads and keys, the vibe is unmistakable from the opening crimson synth flush and latinate shuffle of ‘Miss Suzuki’ to the dawning panorama and murmuring rhythms of ‘TYFC’, sashaying thru inch-tight emulations of a classic, grown-up ‘80s soul style a la Dam Funk or Nite Jewel that equally evokes imagery of Brian de Palma flicks as much as David Hockney’s seductively inviting pool portraits.
Make sure to check for high grade drip between the skin-tingling glow of ‘Idle Eighty’, the instrumental synth-pop soul élan of ‘Mark’, and sweetest echoes of Ryuichi Sakamoto in ‘College Crest Walk’, and the balmy coos of ‘Neary’.
Sopratutto by Nicolini via South Of North.
"Nicolini is back with the next installment of stripped-down drum workouts and sound system madness.
Spread across seven tracks and as many tempos, the dutch multi-instrumentalist and producer veers effortlessly between looped-up sax riffs (with a Twin Peaks ambience), dubby wave, mutant dancehall, low-slung steppers and manic 180 bpm experiments.
Along with guest appearances from Nushin Naini and Martha de Barros, Sopratutto is an adventure through bass cones above and beyond what Nicolini has laid down before."
Nervy debut of club madness pitched somewhere between singeli and mutant soundsystem tackle by Unity Vega
Hailing the future sound of Berlin, Unity Vega ventures a volley of cuts scaling from 140 to 210bpm for rave radge packets. ‘Send Yourself’ tilts the needle all the way up with whipsmart trills and diced vox hingeing around fleeting pulses calling to mind bits of Sockethead via Tanzanian styles, before ‘Two Geese’ yokes it back to a bullish sort of rhythmic noise pivoting around crude distortion and piquant bleeps, kinda like a frazzled Rat Heart/Tom Boogerz bit. The wildest roughnecks will also have a lot of fun with the helter skelter speedcore pelt of ‘Aqua Gold’ and the zinging ‘Tantrum’ dials up Elizabethan Collar-esque electronics with a crafty metric declension to wrongfoot the DJs and dancers.
Hallucinatory dark ambient drones from the master himself, 'Compositions' harks back to Deathprod's legendary 'Treetop Drive', extending a monochromatic, widescreen view of his frozen musical doomscape. Unmissable.
Considering so many producers have attempted to mimic Sten's stoic, industrial ambient mode, very few have come within spitting distance of the Norwegian veteran. 'Sow Your Gold In The White Foliated Earth' felt like a flex - a way to acknowledge the current obsession with xenharmonic tuning and Medieval instrumentation while simultaneously advancing the discourse a few decades. And he could have rested on his laurels for a while, but 'Compositions' re-affirms Sten's status, proving his well-worn dark ambient framework is still somehow revolutionary, and still completely unmatched. It's the proper follow-up to 2019's noisy "OCCULTING DISK", but sounds spiritually more connected to "Treetop Drive", his 1994 debut that crossed electronic minimalism with unmistakably Lynchian atmospheres. 'Compositions' has a familiar pace - long, reverberating wails, punctuated by silence - but simultaneously drags Sten's craft into a new era.
Always challenging the way we listen, Sten assembles the album chronologically, so we get to hear his thought process as he writes. The noise of his arsenal of machines - his "Audio Virus" - is also audible in each empty crack, so that the silences are just as rich as the synthetic throbs and piercing drones. Basically we're invited to witness an extended moment in Sten's studio, watching him work as a craftsman with his chain of sound generators and archaic FX boxes. Sten has been developing his studio since 1991, and seems to have avoided any hip gear trends completely, so there are few obvious sonic reference points you can spot - there's no placeable modular granulations or Ableton-friendly VST effects to be seen.
Acknowledging how ubiquitous 'dark ambient' sounds are in streaming television and movie soundtracks, artists have had to work harder to avoid the tools and memes of commerce in an attempt to create sonic landscapes that feel physically unsettling as the world teeters into grey-hued dystopia. Sten's sounds are genuinely foreboding: gloomy microtonal chords that echo into negative space, rasping synth groans scraping against the consciousness, syrupy bass tones that avoid any comparison with hammy doom metal tropes. His electronic boxes heave, cough and splutter with the unstable character of prized acoustic instruments, and you're left with the feeling that even if another musician entered Sten's studio for an evening or two, they wouldn't be able to come up with nearly the same expression. We get to witness a symbiotic relationship between man and machine that's many paces from the world of algorithms and AI. And if that isn't relevant right now - well, we don't know what to tell ya.
Nik Colk Void's debut solo album is a slippery blacklight synth diary of limber cold-wave muscle, improvised warehouse techno and grizzled neo-no-wave slop. RIYL Raime, Suicide, Not Waving, Chris and Cosey.
As a member of Factory Floor, Kaito, Carter Tutti Void (with Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti) and NVPR (with Peter Rehberg), Void has been churning out music at an impressive rate over the last few years, so it's kinda surprising that 'Bucked Up Space' is her first time going it alone. The album developed slowly as she combined her love of beat-driven music with experience gleaned from live shows, growing from diaristic improvisations dubbed in her home studio. As the record took shape, Void took the sketches to a studio in Margate and began to arrange and compose them more vigorously. The result is a set of flickering electro/no-wave/techno experiments that straddle all the various aspects of her collaborations thus far.
The album starts strong with 'Interruption is Good', a cavernous Berlin-style minimal slammer packed out with industrial-strength gloomy gated kicks and swirling dissonant synths. Void refuses to stay rooted in one place for long though, 'Big Breather' is crunchy, fragmented electro, and 'Denma' morphs into ecstatic near-Krautrock territory, with acidic electronics and sizzling beatbox loops. 'Romke' meanwhile is all melodic analog squelch - think Analord with an extra post-pandemic bite. But Void saves the best for last: 'Oversized' is the most convincing track on the album, matching gruesome corroded guitar loops with edgy, squashed beats for a sound that's lodged between Suicide, Raime and Jesu. Really good.
Delectable synth-pop romance from Montreal’s Library L’Amour - manna for the Cosey, From Nursery To Misery, Oï les Ox or Teresa Winter fanclubs.
Jointly highlighted by Ziggy’s Stroom and Victor De Roo’s cherry picking Kontakt Group, the duo of Yasmine Ixe and Richard Ryan Wener, aka Library L’Amour, specialise in a form of dreamlike synth-pop elegance weft from smudged pads and utterly gorgeous vocals that drift between harmonic haze, erotic whisper and opiated sensuality across ‘Premier Caprice’. It’s immaculate stuff and one of the strongest debuts of 2023 already.
Richard Ryan Wegner is perhaps better known as RW, co-founder of club music label Temple beside Ex-Terrestrial and M Salaciak, and Yasmine Ixe hails from a loosely related scene of synth-pop and electronica in Montreal, previously recording on Bella Union with The Beat Escape. In duo, they sound ready made for Stroom with an inch-perfect, vintage sound that also benefits from the subtly contemporary feel of records on Victor De Roo’s label.
Bookended by dream-weft synths and chiffon vox in ‘Limonade’ and the pitching loops of ‘Sous-entendu’, the EP’s biggest treats lurk in the CTI-like slink and orientalist allure of ‘Premier Caprice’ and the snake-hipped chanson ditty ‘De délites en délires’, which we can practically guarantee will be stuck in your heads for days, weeks, months after ingestion.
Rowdy, worldly kitchen sink rock fusion by a triad of Catalan acts helmed by the prolific ZA!, touching on Gnawa trance, desert blues, psych-funk, and Catalan cobla - a traditional form of folk dance - with a playful garage punk attitude.
“These elements come together with the purpose of portraying their own vision of Mediterranean music, filtered by distortion (so current in cognitive, social and identity terms) and psychedelia (so inevitable in an increasingly accelerated and saturated reality). A retro-futuristic journey from folk to free exploring the shores of the Mediterranean, claiming its power as a living core, never as a deadly border.
The TransMegaCobla fuses traditional Mediterranean culture -from bulería to kopanitsa, from gnaoua to sardana- with contemporary culture to create a fictional but deeply human and festive universe. Resurrecting the Phoenician language, the octet seeks common roots to fuse and remake them with contemporary molds such as rock, punk, free jazz and conducted improvisation. A timeless orchestra ready to invent, with real elements, a science-fiction Mediterranean in a parallel reality.”
On their opulent first outing since 2015, the MVO Trio embrace negative space and dematerialised jazz dynamics for a sterling debut with Modern Recordings (Pat Metheny, Craig Armstrong, Hendrik Weber) and a new lineup that now includes Laurel Halo and German jazz drummer Heinrich Köbberling. V highly tipped if yr into Carl Craig's Innerzone Orchestra or Move D's Conjoint.
Typically rooted in extended, improvised jams, the lissom and grooving results were teased into their final form by Moritz at the mixing desk, where he imbues the playing with an effervescent spatial nuance and deftly spotlights its ear-catching peculiarities as the trio naturlly explore and inhabit the interstices of rolling Afrobeat structures, modal Detroit jazz/beatdown, and airy ECM minimalism.
Picking up in the ether where ‘Sounding Lines’ left off in 2015, the deep presence of erstwhile trio member Tony Allen (RIP) is adroitly channelled by Köbberling’s shuffling stick work, and decorated with blushing organ chords and vibes laid down by Moritz, who finds an ideal foil in Laurel Halo’s electronic gilding. In unison they hold a sublime tension that’s driving but floating, placid yet thizzing with cool energy as they cycle thru harmonically sonorous permutations of a dubwise jazz techno.
From the pointillistic percussion and vapours of the opener, the set arcs low and wide from passages of spiralling organ to swingeing depths, coalescing at the mid-way point with a proper jazz techno vibe recalling Moritz’s early works with Juan Atkins, and traveling to almost 4Hero-esque hi-tech jazz abstraction and back into the pocket with natty rhythms that resolve into proper, heads-up techno.
Heather is Sharon Van Etten’s longtime collaborator and band member. Since the release of her last album Heather has toured with Alela Diane and Lisa Hannigan, and has opened twice for The War On Drugs. Invitation features vocals and synth contributions from Peter Broderick. RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, Weyes Blood, Marissa Nadler, Julianna Barwick, Julia Holter.
"Invitation was conceived on the Oregon coast, an outlier among American landscapes, where vast stretches of empty beach are decorated with silver driftwood and towering pines. It is here among the dunes, tide pools and colossal rock formations that Heather spent her childhood summer day-trips. And it is here that she returned as an adult to construct her newest LP, an album of dreamy baroque-pop that swells and whispers with grand string arrangements, intimately descriptive lyrics, and impassioned songcraft built around earnest piano melodies, painting a lifelike picture of the locale in which it was written.
In the years between her early youth and the creation of Invitation, Heather has played in Efterklang, Horse Feathers, the live bands of Laura Gibson, Lisa Hannigan, and Damien Jurado, and has also been a longtime collaborator and bandmate to Sharon Van Etten. But while this list may seem enviable for an aspiring young musician, any experienced player will know that the life of a touring musician comes with its own sacrifices. Lasting relationships and financial certainty can be tenuous, as can mental stability itself. Feeling this first hand, Heather traded her usual launchpad of Brooklyn for the sleepy town of Pacific City where she would quietly take a job cleaning houses for a cast of local eccentrics, sitting down at the piano in the off-hours to unpack the personal tragedies and triumphs of the intervening decades since her first trips there.
Throughout Invitation, floral tendrils of sound design and dynamic strings decorate the edges of each track, propelling the album beyond mere singer-songwriter fare into something altogether more grand and immersive in scope. And somehow still, the album maintains a humble quality throughout. It’s not about the epic and beautiful physical features of the Pacific northwest seaside that first stirred Heather Woods Broderick as a child. It’s about how the stillness of such settings can unearth the disquiet often buried by the infinite distractions of a life without pause."
Restless, bare bones breakbeats and hurtling techno mutations by Polaar co-owner Flore
‘Legacy & Broken Pieces’ presents the french producer’s first new works since 2020’s ‘Rituals’ album in a volley of flinty drums and minimalist, gyring sound design that gives it a hardcore psychedelic sensuality.
The skeletal, Aquarian-like breaks of ‘Disruption’ triggers a concentrated rush of reclaimed hardcore tropes and incandescent energy, taking in the gnashing diva stabs and unyielding structure of ‘The Fiery Principle’, some high velocity jungle juke trance for Sherelle heads in ‘The Switcher’, and the more reserved, yet driving, percolated bass and atmospheric relief of ‘Primary Mineral’.
Premiere recording of Reich’s soundtrack to Gerhard Richter & Corinna Belz’s art film ‘Moving Picture’, performed by Ensemble intercontemporain, conducted by George Jackson, at Paris Philharmonie. Initially, clearly a Reich work of precise phasing patterns, but most unusually spliced with hip hop and classic dance rhythms in crooked, pendulous harmony on the first part, and resolving to more typically intricate, minimal elegance in its latter parts. A real WTF beauty.
“Reich describes Richter’s book Patterns, which served as source material for the film: “It starts with one of his abstract paintings from the ’90s. He scanned a photo of the painting into a computer and then cut the scan in half and took each half, cut that in half and two of the four quarters he reversed into mirror images. He then repeated this process of ‘divide, mirror, repeat’ from half to quarter, eighth, sixteenth, thirty-second, all the way up to 4096th. The net effect is to go from an abstract painting to a series of gradually smaller anthropomorphic ‘creatures’ (since the mirroring produces bilateral symmetry) to still smaller ‘psychedelic’ abstractions to very fine stripes.
“Belz described the film in terms of ‘pixels.' The film begins with the two-'pixel' stripes, and the music starts with a two-sixteenth note oscillating pattern. When the film goes to four 'pixels,' the music moves onto a four-sixteenth note pattern, then to eight, and sixteen,” the composer continues. “After that, I began to think, ‘This is going to get ridiculous,’ so at that point I began introducing longer note values—initially eighth notes, and later as the pixel count grew in the film, to quarter notes. By the middle of the film, when the images move from 512 to 1064 pixels and the images become larger and more ‘creature’ like, the music really slows. Later, as the pixel count begins to diminish, the music moves back into more rapid eighths and then sixteenth, ending with the most intense rapid movement.”
Zach Rowden and Henry Birdsey's follow last year's 'Burnish' album (released via XKatedral, the label founded by Kali Malone and Maria W. Horn) with a killer, tape-mangled, xenharmonic trip into the dissociated outerzone. Properly next level spirit-calling drone musick that references Phill Niblock, C.C Hennix and La Monte Young, as well as cosmic psych explorers like Hototogisu, The Skaters and Double Leopards.
Tongue Depressor's 'Burnish' was quietly one of 2022's most outstanding releases - a light-headed ritual that summed up so much of the year's nascent trends. Xenharmonic tunings, tape-dubbed organ drones, cautious non-repeating mathematical bell patterns, all of it rolled into a blur of sonorous future-ancient experimentation. 'Bones For Time' is a different proposition; picking up where its predecessor left off in some respects, but pulling everything out into syrupy long-form, shifting the focus from elemental intrigue to dizzying tape textures and consciousness-expanding harmonies.
The album is split into four 20-minute sides, each one investigating a separate instrumental fixation or process; the connecting thread is Rowden and Birdsey's discrete philosophical outlook, which they impress on each single-take expression, whether they're losing bowed strings in saturated fuzz, or pulling metallic clangs through fluttering tape heads. Importantly, none of it is overdone, heir hands-on compositional/improvisational process sparks a spellbinding level of restraint, flexibility and oversight.
They're able to materialize quickly from almost avant-classical grandeur in the introductory segment of 'You From The Local Family?' into shivering desert blues and burned-out wailing noise, covering musical ground that's close but rarely interlocking. They do it by finding unexpected concord in their shared passions; it's the ghostly wail of "American primitivism" that sounds omnipresent here, and while neither Rowden nor Birdsey attempt to mimic John Fahey's resonant fingerpicking, the ghosts of the past are like faint traces that haunt the backdrop of each piece. On 'The Reason You Don't Sleep Is The Words', string plucks form irregular clouds of rhythm and un-tempered harmony that fluctuate between archaic US folk styles and sounds more easily located in the Middle East or South Asia. The first half of the track is where Rowden and Birdsey give themselves the opportunity for ornamental flourishes, which are slowed to a crawl and decorated with spirit whooshes before it draws to a deliberate close.
Our pick of the bunch is 'Hymns of Mud' - and not just cos we're obsessed with the title. It's the most tape-mangled offering of the four, evolving from woozy, blunted drones into light-headed bell experimentation, before morphing into electronic plainsong in the final act. Sure, the church music thing is souring quicker than unpasteurized milk, but when it's done right nothing touches it. And fuck, do Tongue Depressor get it right: by turning church bells into sloshy Spencer Clark-esque disturbances and mimicking church liturgies with analog oscillators, they take the outline of an idea and ink it with fresh blood. By the time we reach closing track 'Narrowing Of The Days' we're primed to transcend, and the duo gesture towards drone pioneers C.C Hennix and Phill Niblock with a whistling long-form examination of tonality and timbre that's psychedelic, noisy and startlingly well-conceived. Is it DIY basement folk? Experimental classical? 20th century minimalism? Neo-drone? We're not completely sure, and that's precisely why we're hooked. Essential gear.
How can a modulated dub chord, fathomless fuzz and a monotone baseline played out for 20 minutes nearly bring you to tears? Listen to these versions of Main Street’s I’m Your Brother and find out.
As ever; mastered and cut at Dubplates & Mastering, pressed at Pallas. Infinitely ESSENTIAL.
Re-issue of Mogwai’s debut album ‘Come On Die Young’, originally released in March 1999.
"Arriving in March 1999 with an album cover that referenced The Exorcist and a title scalped from a well-known Glasgow gang slogan, you’d have expected Mogwai’s ‘Come On Die Young’ to be an apocalypse-harbouring, pre-millennial assault on the senses. Instead, we were treated to a darkly elegiac - surprisingly restrained - response to the aural fireworks of their ‘Young Team’ debut from two years earlier.
Recorded and mixed at Dave Fridmann's Tarbox Road Studios in Upstate New York, ‘Come On Die Young’ begins with a sample of Iggy Pop eulogising the genius of punk rock and ends with a track entitled ‘Punk Rock/Puff Daddy/Antichrist’. This thoughtful and irreverent diptych enclosed an hour of music that was as beautiful as it was blistering and as poignant as it was unpredictable: preconceptions of what to expect from a Mogwai album, disassembled at a stroke.
‘Come On Die Young’ was - and remains - a hugely accomplished, elegant and important album, setting a benchmark for the fierce intelligence that would characterise Mogwai’s future body of work."
Remastered re-issue of Mogwai’s debut album ‘Mogwai Young Team’, originally released in October 1997.
"Mogwai’s groundbreaking debut album, ‘Mogwai Young Team’, originally released in October 1997, is reissued here, remastered and refreshed on CD and coloured double vinyl.
The original recording engineer for the album, Paul Savage, whose production credits include Franz Ferdinand and The Twilight Sad, has remastered the album for this special reissue. Recorded in what was soon to become Chemikal Underground’s own Chem19 studios by label owner and The Delgados’ drummer Paul Savage (for the princely sum of £15,000), the sessions were, by the band’s own admission, “turbulent, disorganised and hastily mixed.”
Gorgeous, pearlescent cosmic ambient flights by London’s Jo Johnson - erstwhile member of ‘90s riot grrrl group Huggy Bear - now in pursuit of astral trajectories since returning to orbit over the past few years.
“What is the sound of feeling? In physics, we conceive of sound as waves. Vibrations, undulations, physical manifestations: heard but not seen. Borne by the body, but interpreted in the brain.
Within ourselves, we perceive emotion as waves, too. Rolling in, rolling out: tidal, even. In moments of violet intensity, the depth of our feeling crashes upon us like surf, rip currents on a corporeal beach.
Worlds apart, but waves in kind. For musician and composer Jo Johnson, the veil between is diaphanous indeed. What you hear is what you feel. Listen and uncover.”
Honest Jon’s deadly survey of digi-dancehall from late ‘80s London, compiling vocal and dubs that the Unity Sounds label and sound system dropped to mad effect, recorded by a cast of talented amateurs on a Casio keyboard and four-track recorder...
Charting dancehall’s development from Windrush-era grooves and chat to the influence of Jammy’s Sleng Teng explosion a generation later, ’Watch How The People Dancing’ is effectively an update and sibling of sorts to HJ’s classic calypso comp ‘London Is The Place For Me’. Both sets are utterly vital for anyone fascinated by how Afro-Caribbean migrants irrevocably altered the course of British pop music, but this latter session is the one for dancehall modernists - digging deep into a style and pattern that formed foundations for everything from ragga to fast chat rap and, ultimately, breakbeat rave and its spectrum of jungle/D&B/grime/dubstep and much more in due course.
Back in the mid-early ’80s, the emergence of Jammy’s Sleng Teng rhythm - notoriously built from a Casio keyboard preset - would parallel Chicago’s house phenomenon for its widespread influence. Often mutually exclusive (but also brought together in productions by the likes of Bobby Konders), digi-dancehall and house drum patterns and production methods indelibly changed the way people moved in the dance, synced by midi to a pendulous motion that has underpinned much club music since the ‘80s.
Jammy’s Sleng Teng hit hard in London’s mid ‘80s Jamaican dances and became the go-to ballast for MC’s reflections on urban sufferation and defying babylon, and ‘Watch How The People Dancing’ is the sturdiest survey of those expressions. From the shan-diddly-woi singjay chat of Selah Collins’ ‘Pick A Sound’ to the ruddy trample of ‘Run Come Call me’ by Kenny Knots, it’s all-killer, no-filler, sequencing Mikey Murka’s ohrwurm ‘We Try’ and its version, along with Knots’ beam-inducing title tune or the natty step of ‘Lean Boot’ by Richie Davis, or drawing direct links to the early rave scene by inclusion of ‘Chuck It’ featuring Unity Sounds’ Demon Rockers, who famously started rave pioneers The Ragga Twins with Flinty Badman.
It’s a timeless and heavyweight collection that’s rarely been bettered, and sits very neatly as a bridge to Mo Wax and Chrome’s ‘Now Thing’ volumes of late ‘90s ragga instrumentals, or even Soul Jazz’s ‘Box of Dub’ sets.
Deadly lovers reggae flip of George Michael’s slow dance evergreen - impossible-to-find or super spenny on 2nd hand market, now backed with Jura Soundsystem’s reverberating version
Cooked up by producer Brent Beecher for his wife, Melody only a year after George Michael’s seminal release, the 1985 Jamaican cut of ‘Careless Whisper’, is, by some measures, as perfect as the original. It effortlessly transposes the vibe from the wine bar to the blues, authentically accentuating the OG’s reggae-soul influences with timeless results that have been sought-after by those in the know, but have also eluded diggers due to scarcity or (understandably) steep 2nd hand asking prices.
The eight minute ‘Careless Whisper (Club Mix)’ is beautifully re-voiced by Melody on a subtly tuffer bassline and sprinkled with a sort of lovers stardust that Jura Soundsystem dial up to deeply seductive levels in their Lovers Version, splicing elements of the club and dub mixes with judicious use of reverb and late night lust that hits the mark spot-on.
'Versions' leaves out the vocals and exposes the production as it drifts off into instrumental bliss...
All-time classic, life-changing biz.
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 its legendary offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix.
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 "Versions" release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon").
All-time classic, life-changing biz.
Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald already set the world ablaze once, twice, three, four times with their work as Basic Channel and its legendary offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix.
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 "Versions" release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon").
Leading dons of hybrid dembow club music, Nick León & DJ Python cap a mad couple of years with four metallic, reticulated electro-ton zingers on the latter’s Worldwide Unlimited label.
Chasing up León’s summer rave anthem ‘Xstasis’ and production on Rosalía’s ‘Motomami’, and Python’s winding annum including ‘Club Sentimientos Vol. 2’ plus a Sangre Nueva followup with Florentino & Kelman Duran; the pair build on months of residency + hanging at club Suero in Miami with four mercurial fusions finessed with sick, divergent production palettes and techniques.
Bridging their known styles into something altogether new, the ‘Split’ EP gives up two solo shots by both artists. Nick León cooks up the spiny ace ‘Nerves’ with its hackled metallic melody set to martial dembow swag and grimiest bass grind, whilst his ‘Love Potion’ pushes the tempo to near percolated broken beats zones, and opens out the vibe with breezy chords and fluid texturing.
On the other hand, Python whisks jaunty reggaeton trills and aerosolised electronics in ‘I’m Tired’, and slants off into psychedelic-impressionist abstraction on ‘uwu’ with its un-stitched tresillo patterns and groggy pads coloured well out-of-the-lines.
Buttechno’s Pavel Milyakov galvanises strong feelings into streaks of ballistic trance, glitching choral arrangements and gorgeous, weightless arp flights to set AD 93 on course for 2023 - RIYL 0PN, Lorenzo Senni, Conrad Schnitzler, Nebuchadnezzar...
‘Project Mirrors’ debuts Milyakov on Nic Tasker’s label with a lush brace of club-adjacent creations distinctly recalling his work on Rassvet Records’ ‘Eastern Strike’ 12” or the spiralling vortices of the sought-after ‘City-2’ sessions. The eight beat-less yet propulsive works mark up his first solo flight under his own name since 2020, following an armful of interim collaborations with artists ranging from Alex Zhang-Hungtai to Bendik Giske, DJ Speedsick and Yana Pavlova that have proved, where necessary, the versatility and mutability of his trance-indebted works. Each cut flows with an energy oscillating from romantic to seething in a potently direct style that’s become a hallmark of all his work since the mid teens, and which is felt most powerfully here.
Teetering in with the high-wire harmonics of ‘aapril’, the trip sharpens and refracts lines of hyper-melodics through thru kaleidoscopic turns bounding between the laser-guided focus of ‘202 days of summer’ and the curdled kosmiche finale ‘epic’. He pushes the levels to gibber-jawed, distorted trance ecstasy on ‘raveing’ and recalls 0PN jamming with Nebuchadnezzar on the roiling pulse of ‘runners’. There’s a exalted centrepiece of Eastern European-sounding choral motifs wrung out in glitching saccades on ‘choirs’, and ‘last dolphin’ scales darker heights of acid trance a la Live Adult Entertainment or DJLoser aces, while ‘august gtr’ fades out, arps cascadign like feathers from flying too close to the sun in the album’s penultimate throes.
Silken and surprisingly sunny, Kelela's long-awaited third full-length distills her ineffable essence into poetic, horizontal lyricism over murmured afterparty bumps and gaseous post-club ambience.
It's on 'Missed Call' that "Raven" begins to fully unravel. A very different album from its predecessor (2017's universally acclaimed "Take Me Apart") it hums like sulfur after a firework display - pink and green and blue becomes grey and yellow. When a near-invisible airhorn punctuates the fade-out of 'Let It Go' signaling a fresh mood, it's the memory of a fleeting high that's all but slipped away. A featherlight dancehall thud underpins Kelela's gossamer vocals; "Baby, you've been gone for so long," she coils and we hear it, loud and clear. The DC-raised artist has always shied from convention. On her debut "Cut 4 Me" she embraced Night Slugs and Fade To Mind's gaseous club construxions pre-empting (and informing) a wave of similarly-angled soundalikes. Its follow-up bundled these ideas into a more ambitious album format, leaving an aesthetic breadcrumb trail that led to both "Homogenic" and "The Velvet Rope" and wider stardom seemed pretty much guaranteed. But shortly afterwards she almost completely vanished from social media, taking the time out to breathe and read and listen and to figure how to represent her reality authentically - she did what so many artists struggle to, and took stock of the situation. So that first balmy pad that hovers into earshot on 'Washed Away' is a sharp release of breath, as if someone's just pressed play on a dormant CDJ. "The mist, the light, the dust that settles the night," she cries over a backdrop that threatens to mutate into Drexciya's 'Andreaen Sand Dunes' but never does.
Where its predecessor was guided by Jam City, Bok Bok and Arca's byzantine dancefloor anomalies, this album pulls its energy from alternative spaces. Kelela's revealed that 'Contact' - an aerated breaks-led kiss that sounds like 'Inner City Life' with the heat cranked up and the speed pulled right down - was dedicated to chatter speckled pre-gaming, and the psychedelic-erotic moments in the club's darkest crevices. Other moments, like the sunbleached, 'Teardrop'-hued 'Fooley' or 'Holier', with its drowsy electric piano reverberations and evolving drones, sound as if they're lashed to the experience of the afters, when the sun's cracking thru the curtains and noetics weave tired minds into mystickal, musical lattices. She's still plugged into the club experience, but is able to provide a more four dimensional perspective, and this time it's NYC-to-Berlin techno pin-up LSDXOXO whose presence is felt most prominently. He handles a handful of ambiguous club-not-club melters, like the soaked and dissociated 'Bruises' and the phantasmagorically nostalgic early single 'Happy Ending', while Nguzunguzu's Asmara adds a breath of polished restraint to tracks like 'Let it Go' and 'Contact', and Toronto head Bambii provides a hopeful pulse that draws from her hierarchy-free understanding of club music, whether it's baile funk and ballroom or footwork and rap.
Kelela's first full-length was a mixtape - a decade later she's absorbed its lessons and some of that pacing into a body of work that speaks to the club experience without attempting to function simply as club music. If a track like 'Missed Call' works at the dance it's a bonus, not an expectation - it's music whose purpose is chameleonic, hissing through crackly earbuds on bus rides just as well as it blares through expensive soundsystems amalgamated with chaotic substitute rhythms. She also smartly acknowledges the omnipresence of downtempo shades that encircle the scene, looping in textures and granulations from producers like Berlin's Yo van Lenz and Florian TM Zeisig. On the title track, soft-focus analog purrs from London's Fauzia guide Kelela's acrobatic voice into distorted FM bells and, in time, a Basement-ready kick roll from NYC's Acemo. Kelela straddles two worlds, letting her words serve as the bridge between memory and experience, the event and the essential aftercare. After 'Enough For Love' rebuilds the '80s electro-ballad as Afro-Brazilian-inspired R&B, with decadent keys placed between sounds from São Paulo's Badsista, 'Far Away' floats us off into the horizon - wherever that might be - washed over by a reprise of the weightless opener. Self-care is an awkward, leaden concept, but with "Raven" it sounds as if Kelela's suggesting an equally transportive alternative - a place where interaction can lead to satisfaction, even love. Keep your guided meditation, this is healing music.
Ebullient jazz-funk and soulful rare grooves from apartheid-era South Africa - the sounds of resistance, and partying like it matters.
‘As-Shams Archive Vol. 1: South African Jazz, Funk & Soul 1975-1982’ revolves around 10 super tight tunes that showcase how South African music would parallel movements in a post-Civil Rights-era USA during a time when the country was suffering its own worries. Retrieved and remastered from original analog tapes, the set highlights iconic artists who soundtracked township soirées with hopeful and damn funky groves that have rarely been heard outside the country. It’s a a superb primer on the years before the styles of bubblegum, township funk, or even gqom and ama, when South African jazz was the toast of those in the know and served a deep function as mode of expressive release in the face of pure strife.
Plucked from the archive of As-Shams/The Sun label, which led on form the Soultown Records label, and begat the MANDLA reissue imprint, it runs down proper heat between the beaming optimism of Kippie Moketsi’s ‘Umgababa’ to the hypnotic torch song of ‘Music’ starring stunning vocals by Sathima Bea Benjamin, strutting to the jazz-funk of Dick Khoza’s ‘Lilongwe’ and the haunting groovers lament ‘Night Express’ by Black Disco, with its 11 minutes of amazing chants and low slung grip. There’s bubbling rare groove by Pat Matshikiza, the big band swing of Tete Mbambisa, again driven by Dick Khoza’s drums, and deadly in-the-pocket suss from Lionel Pillay on the deeply handsome 9 minutes of ‘Blues for Yusef’, all working as a history lesson and crucial fuel for DJs, dancers, debonairness.
The mack of jakbeat animates his rig of boxes on a rugged, slow and smudged set of archival killers for his debut album on iDEAL, tipped if yr into anything on the scale between Dilloway and Delroy.
Beau Wanzer rifles his archive for a batch of grotty screwballs applicable to thee strangest backrooms and K-holing sessions imaginable. ‘A Dead Person's Monologue’ racks up 8 excursions of patented, asymmetric club levellers, deployed at unusually downbeat angles and clad in atmospheric crud, as we’ve come to know from his string of releases both solo and in groups such as Mutant Beat dance with Traxx and Jason Letkiewicz and Streetwalker with Elon Katz, for labels such as L.I.E.S./Russian Torrent Versions, Jealous God and L.A. Club Resource over the past 10+ years.
iDEAL’s mucky curatorial paw print is all over this one, spotlighting that point where Wanzer’s wayward, effluent grooves intersect the gurning rhythmic chew of Aaron Dilloway or Nate Young’s Regression Sessions, and perhaps most strongly resembling the gristliest, no-fuucks-given bits of the ‘80s underground tape scene so formative to his sound.
Opener ‘Grumps’ sounds like he’s augmented the rhythm track to ‘Lady In Red’, V/Vm-style, for the dankest fetish basements, before he sashays thru the queasiest permutations of knackered machines on the smeared, Incunabula-esque lines of ‘Stear’ to the knee-capped trot of ‘A Burrowing Booboo’, the pure rhythmic noise grind of ‘Plaster Class’, and the buckled electro of ‘Warm Waterboarding’, with the closest you’ll get to romance on ’Simple Men’, plus an inimitable alloy of subvocalised glossolalia and crawling groove to bring us to a close on the title tune.
Messy, and thrilling.
Sick label digest for Tom Carruthers’ retro house gang; 10 top shelf cuts of deep house, acid and bleep techno by the Cheshire-based producer and global pals
Since 2020 Carruthers’ Non Stop Rhythm has ceaselessly issue dozens (upon dozens) of killer digital singles by himself in myriad guises, plus a farther flung gang of like-minded box beaters. Carruthers has proceeded to issue a pair of solo LPs with L.I.E.S. in the last few years, and now highlights his label’s depth of variation within a theme on ‘Worldwide Connection Vol.1’, racking up the juiciest darkroom electro-acid of Caniform alongside his own throw backs to the heyday of North West dance music, and tuffer strains of Euro-style acid by Phase Omatic, or wickedly spangled hip-house acid by Saftbass, and much more.
Working hands-on to old skool hardware principles, each artist keeps the spirit of ’87-’92 alive in their own way. There’s purring Larry Heard-style Chi house from Gynoid 74, and the Ben Cenac-esque early ‘90s NYC depths of ‘Riding The Fog’ from BDSL cued up beside Carruthers’ 808 State homage ‘Visions’ and the Shelley’s-ready ‘North West’, full-body jackers’ tackle by Kanadacid, and echoes of West/SoYo bleep techno by DJ Boog, with a killer final flourish of acid electro psychedelia by Rave Industries recalling Spencer Tune’s ’88 Staffordshire oddity ‘Nightmare (Maggots over Antwerp)’. If this stuff is your bag, we urge you to fill your boots on the rest of the Non Stop Rhythm catalogue.