June round up Svengalisghost, Bruce Roach, Manie Sans Délire, Zodiac Arts Club, Trenton Chase and R.R. Hearse & Furnace Miskin for the Greek label’s 2nd multi artist compilation.
It might be called Trap Configurations, but we assure you there’s not a single track related to it inside. Rather, all artists converge on a particularly slimy and swaggering EBM sound, turning up highlights in the swaggering torque of Svengalisghost’s Cyberdreams, on Bruce Roach’s distended slo-mo creeper Zoblin 07, and two classy EBM stings from Trenton Chase, firstly in the Manie Sans Délire drop with June on Static Control, and also solo on the pulse-quickening Hand Of God.
Finders Keepers fork out two previously un-pressed gems by Martin Hannett (Joy Division, ESG) and Steve Hopkins a.k.a. The Invisible Girls - a grooving sci-fi soundtrack piece and a perkier, chuffed-up Manchester pop instrumental
“From the shrapnel of the unlikely collision point where Mancunian post-punk royalty collides with sci-fi cinema and art house animation, this obscure diamond in the rough shines a new light on the Northern DIY era providing disc detectives with a whole new punk funk perspective. Recorded in 1976 by Invisible Girls’ Steve Hopkins and Martin Hannett for a truly bizarre stop-motion animation called All Sorts OF Heroes, this hard edged funk instrumental theme reveals another side to this versatile production team joining the hidden dots between Hannett’s own discoid experiments with ESG, Gyro, A Certain Ratio and the mythical Afro Express recordings from the same year.
Embodying as much in common with 1970’s bass heavy European funk soundtracks by bands like Goblin and Placebo, as the expected parallels with John-Cooper Clarke’s backing tracks or early Happy Mondays, this early 1976 session is the perfect example of Hannett and Hopkins’ under-the-radar artistic commissions working to a storyboard brief in what has now become recognised as a fertile arena for lost lmic funk.
Drawing historic parallels with Leeds-based Graeme Miller and Steve Shill’s home recorded DIY soundtracks for The Moomins animation and accentuating the connection between Manchester based animation house Cosgrove Hall (Dangermouse/Chorlton And The Wheelies) and its employees Bernard Sumner, John Squire and members of Gerry And The Holograms, this lost recording adds kudos to a quirky micro-niche and reveals another dimension to Northern anti- pop’s snarky personality.
Pressed here by Finders Keepers for the first time on vinyl, in close accordance with the wishes of Steve Hopkins himself, this custom-composed track originally appeared on the short lm by Rick Megginson and Steve Hughes which was shown at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in 1976 where it might have otherwise remained, preserved in an 8mm lm box up until now. As relevant today as it was then, this closely recorded, cosmic cartoon, slappy funk theme provided the films backdrop for a workshop montage scene where an aardvarkian spaceman constructs a giant metal face robot which might well leave fans of Madlib and MF Doom fans pondering time travel?! Like much of the lost and unreleased projects that stalled on the peripheries of early proto-Madchester, including the disco-pogo music of Spider King, Gerry And The Holograms, The 48 Chairs, Naf and The Mothmen, this record has been frozen in time waiting for the wider marathon of independent pop to catch up!
Presented here faithful the 45 format of choice, this 7” might well be another missing link between your Rabid, Absurd and Factory records, backed with another lesser- known Invisible girls recording Scandinavian Wastes which has also been begging for its first vinyl outing since its recording in the early 1980’s. Another historical bucket list release for Finders Keepers Records outernational discography, leaving zero stones unturned, even the ones under our own doorstep.”
Drift is the seventh full-length by NYC rock polymaths The Men. The band’s last album, the self-released Devil Music, was the sound of a band who had been through hell hitting reset and looking to their roots to rediscover themselves. On Drift, The Men return to their longtime label Sacred Bones Records and explore the openness that Devil Music helped them find.
"The immediately evident result of that exploration is the experimental quality of much of the material on Drift. Songwriters Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi chase their muses down a few dozen thrilling rabbit-holes over the course of the album’s nine tracks. The songs on Drift veer in a number of directions, but notably, almost none of them feature a prominent electric guitar. The lone exception, “Killed Someone,” is a rowdy riff-rocker, worthy of the finest moments of the band’s now-classic Leave Home and Open Your Heart albums. The rest of the album drives down stranger highways. “Secret Light” is an improvisation based on an old piano riff of Perro’s. “Maybe I’m Crazy” is a synth-driven dancefloor stomper for long after last call. “Rose on Top of the World” and “When I Held You in My Arms” are paisley-hued, psyched-out jams with big, beating hearts.
The album was recorded to 2" tape with Travis Harrison (Guided by Voices) at Serious Business Studios in Brooklyn. A whole pile of instruments was involved — synths, strings, sax, steel, harmonica, tape loops, on top of the usual guitar, bass, and drums. Unlike recent releases from The Men, there aren’t many overdubs on Drift — a reflection of the personalities of its makers becoming less frantic, Chiericozzi suggests. In fact, the band removed a lot of the additional parts they tried adding early on, giving the final product a bit of a ghostly feel. The songs on Drift took giant leaps and trips from their beginnings only to find the band returning to the first spark of creation."
Some make-your-own-pizza business from Fxck Punk aka APE (Vessel) and Chester Giles paying dues to their local 24-hour Asda (Walmart for Americans) in Bedminster, Bristol.
Obfuscated yet direct-to-the-dome, the session combines off-the-nut poetry from Giles with some of Vessel's most burned and turnt production. Bowling red-eyed and lo-fi from industrially reclaimed grime, 'Spud-U-Like' to mucky pockets of stress-testing noise and lyrics about sniffing glue on 'Trash And Reapy', the session takes an unexpected about-turn on the B-side with a washed out piece of witching hour ambience, spectral SAW voices and gongs clocked around Giles in 'Bells'. RIYL Hype Williams, El Kid, Charcoal Owls.
Denver-based trumpeter-composer Joshua Trinidad makes an original statement on his RareNoise Records debut, In November.
"Recorded in Giske, Norway, this highly evocative trio outing features the adventurous Norwegian guitarist-composer and ECM recording artist Jacob Young and drummer Stale Liavik Solberg, a central figure on Oslo’s improvising music scene. Brimming with deep and winding lyricism, Trinidad’s elegiac seventh album as a leader is a compelling mix of bold long tones on trumpet, atmospheric guitaristry, fluid melodic invention and daring group improvisation, all delivered with rare authority by the three intrepid improvisers.
From the minor key rubato opener “Beside” to the melancholy soundscape “Bell (Hymn)” to a darkly entrancing “The Attic” and the stirring title track, Trinidad and his empathetic crew of deep listeners show respect toward space and silence on these spellbinding nourish numbers."
Laid-back ambient tech-house pop, Berlin style
“To those familiar with the output of Cologne-based imprint Firm from back in the early ‘00s, the name of Geiger, alias Nass, shall undoubtedly ring a bell. Herald of an hedonistic melange of funk-soaked electro pop and guitar-riddled synth music, sitting somewhere close to acts like Ween and Junior Boys, Alexander Geiger is about to break a eight-year hiatus with the drop of his debut album under the newly-founded moniker of Fahrland.
A release that both encompasses a healthy dose of the discoid tropes from the Firm era but also aspires to split with a segment of it, geared towards exploring further undisclosed fringes of his shape-shifting sound universe, ‘Mixtape Vol.1’ is the fruit of a decisive move from the sleepless Berlin to the peaceful countryside landscapes of Fahrland – a lushly forested area near Potsdam which you’ll have understood played an essential role in Geiger’s longed-for return.
Versatile and inclusive, the album sweeps a polyamorous gamut of styles and tempos like an answer to the virtual prisons that inhibit us on a daily basis, straying away from normative standards and classic full-length calibration as a result. Instead weaving a singular narrative course, clear from all type of shackles and chains, Geiger navigates on sight, reflecting on notions as wide and universal as freedom, friendship and love across a multiversal patchwork of sounds and feels.
From the languid sexy vibe of ‘Beggin’, ‘Plastic People’ and ‘Yesterday’ – all three featuring the sensual whispers of multi-talented vocalist and artist MZ Sunday Luv, through the heavily vocodized, chip-implemented groove of I AM ROBOT - reminiscent of Telex and Space Art, balearic jazz & rap shine of ‘Sky So High’, smokey lounge ambience of ‘L AND H’ onto broader ambient-friendly spans such as ‘Suspension’, ‘Windshield Gently Wipers’ and the smooth, sun-basking closer ‘Get Down’, each track holds a fragile cocooned world at its heart.”
Dating back to 1957, The Story Of Moondog followed up the previous year's More Moondog LP, setting its course for adventurous new sounds and homemade percussion meditations.
The music is never a slave to any one fixed agenda and much of the material here sounds as if its gathered from some undiscovered culture - it's all-but impossible to compare this with anything else from the era, but when the longer-form pieces arrive they augment the more primal, outsider aesthetics with visceral, jazzy arrangements.
'Up Broadway' is an urgent and thorny construction combining the rhythmic complexity found elsewhere with aggressive horns, while 'In A Doorway' lets a little of the outside world into its recording, embracing the street sounds that so influenced Moondog's early works and intermingling them with instrumentation. It's a curious combination of musical improvisation and concrete sound which, once again, you simply would not associate with this era.
Classic Huerco S.originally released in 2012, this was the release that first brought Brian Leeds to our attention - major tip if you’re into Actress or Newworldaquarium, even those moody Burial and BoC Ambient interludes ...!!!
A much needed new edition of the knockout ‘Untitled’ tape from Huerco S, originally issued on cassette by Opal Tapes in 2012 and blending the sort of smudge-house tropes found on NWAQ’s ‘The Dead Bears’ or Actress’s ‘Hazyville’ alongside an extended 20 minute/sidelong piece of smoked-out bliss on the flip.
‘Press On (Ruff Rub)’ oozes doped-up bass flesh alongside cracked Vangelis synth strokes, making for a proper scene setter, while the tense sensuality of ‘Elma (Ruff Rub)’ is House music at its most spectral, abstract, mixing elegant melodic pirouettes with coarse drums and druggy subs.
Drifting from the ‘floor, the exquisite, BoC-like boogie massage of ‘Hiromis Theme’ acts as a sort of new age interzone before the standout flipside which gives the EP its name; a 20 minute, blissfully evocative fever-dream hitting right between the eyes of early Emeralds and Huerco’s much loved later albums for Proibito and his own West Mineral imprint.
C L A S S I C.
Originally released in 1956, More Moondog was the second album by Louis Thomas Hardin, followed the next year by a further LP, The Story Of Moondog. The tone of this fragmented, wildly eclectic body of work tends to rest its focus on percussion, exploring the Eastern-influenced, gamelan-styled sounds developed by homemade instruments like Moondog's famed "trimba" and "oo".
The majority of the compositions here are brief, often very intricate miniatures, which within the space of a mere minute or two instantly place you in Moondog's singular sound world, structured with difficult time signatures and populated by sounds that are quite unlike anything you'd hear anywhere else. It's hard to imagine how alien this music must have been back in the 1950s. When the longer-form pieces arrive they embellish upon this primal, outsider aesthetic with visceral, jazzy arrangements. 'Up Broadway' is an urgent and thorny construction combining the rhythmic complexity found elsewhere with aggressive horns, while 'In A Doorway' lets a little of the outside world into its recording, embracing the street sounds that so influenced Moondog's early works and intermingling them with instrumentation.
It's a curious combination of musical improvisation and concrete sound that you simply would not associate with this era. The album is completed with a selection of strange avant-garde pieces drawing on speech recordings and more lyrical, solo recordings played on keyboard instruments, including the almost ragtime 'Fiesta Piano Solo' which demonstrates the lack of agenda in this composer's canon. Moondog's outsiderness ensures an approach to modern composition that doesn't ever establish any single, fixed identity, which is of course what makes this man such an alluring figure in 20th century music.
Alga Marghen present this new edition - a vinyl-only first release of Eliane Radigue's pivotal, previously unreleased 'Opus17' - her last work made with feedback material.
It's one of the strongest, if not definitive, examples of Radigue's tactile and meditative approach to composition, an engrossing, intuitive refinement of the techniques and practice she honed over prior years at RTF's Studio d'essai under the guidance of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry's Studio Apsome, and later at the New York University School of the Arts. Created at the Fête en blanc - White Festival - in Verderonne on May 23, 1970, 'Opus17' breaks down to five pieces making up a voyage to the heart of the drone. Using various early tape techniques, Radigue meticulously peels the source samples in a discreet microcosmos of morphing, moebius-like loops and shimmering overtones, rendering their vibrational energy and unique accents with a poetic, dreamlike quality.
It opens with a shock on the 19 minute self-portrait of 'Etude', where she gradually transforms a looped passage of Frederick Chopin into an opiated, howling ghost of itself using practically identical microphone and tape feedback procedures to those on Alvin Lucier's 'I Am Sitting In A Room' (although it should be noted that she wasn't aware of this at the time), whilst 'the shorter 'Maquette' applies the same technique using a part of Wagner's 'Parsifal', but this time with the sample subtracted leaving only a spectral trace of grandeur.
Following this, we're floored by the roiling pulsations of 'Epure' - a sort of rudimentary pre-cognition of industrial and minimal techno building palpitating throbs into a dense yet delicate and ferric-rich flux, sharing rhythmic similarities with the aptly titled trip of 'Safari', where elliptic bass patterns melt and congeal in morphing shapes and curdled overtones with an alien, otherworldly quality presaging the like of Rashad Becker. Yet, the ultimate exposition of Eliane's time-dilating technique is found in the 22 and a half minute panoramic excursion 'Number 17', examining her sonic phenomena at microscopic level, homing in and expanding on its globular bass shapes and radiant harmonics.
Even by Radigue's standards, this is a breathtaking body of work, opening up whole worlds of sound from so little.
Surlendemains Acides is the second full length from Xavier Paradis’ project Automelodi.
"As with Automelodi’s past efforts, this sophomore LP does offer a nod to obscure ‘80/’90s European electronic music ---artists such as Trisomie 21 and Grauzone among others--- but the main focus of the arrangements, melodies and production on Surlendemains Acides is to frame and carry the album's very dense and personal lyrical universe: a bittersweet, angular path, haunted by shades of anxiety and disenchantment.
These themes translate especially well through Paradis’ cold, yet shimmering French vocals, to create a listening experience with both unusual depth and levity. As Paradis clearly moves towards straightforward songcraft on this latest effort, the Automelodi project is elevated beyond a brilliant work of post modern electronic music to become a true stand-out within the broader context of popular music."
“British producer Ross From Friends aka Felix Clary Weatherall is the newest signing to Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder family. The 24 year old has a fistful of releases under his belt, the distillation of myriad influences from hip-hop cut ’n’ paste culture, 80s Eurobeat, Hi-NRG and Italo into lithe, irresistible, raw dancefloor trax. He made his debut on Breaker Breaker in 2015, followed by outings on Lobster Theremin and sister imprint Distant Hawaii, Lone’s Magicwire and recently: Molten Jets.
“It’s honestly an absolute rush to sign to Brainfeeder,” he explains. “It has always been pushing such a forward thinking sound, one that constantly grabs my attention with every release. I put these 4 tracks together with Brainfeeder in mind; I wanted to explore the music that I’ve been developing over the past 7 years as Ross From Friends whilst trying to explore the explosive sound that the label is best known for.”
Up first, ‘John Cage’ encapsulates both his desire to experiment but also maintain a sense of fun. “It originally began life as a tune for this goofy hip-hop project that me and my pal Guy from back home always do when he’s in London,” explains Felix. “I’d be making the beat and he raps. It’s always a refreshing approach making tracks in that atmosphere because we’re both always on such a spontaneous tip. When I’m making music alone, I’m obsessive and everything takes hours, whereas with Guy, we’d try and get as many tracks finished as possible in like a few hours. That’s him freestyling a relaxation tape in the intro.”
R&S newcomer Karim Sahraoui delivers an EP of deep, emotive techno that draws on the rich legacy of Detroit while staying relevant for the modern era.
"Sahraoui is a globetrotting seeker of musical truth spending time in Malaysia, Italy and Spain as well as his native France, he recorded in the early 2000s to some acclaim as Djinxx, releasing prolifically for Delsin, Cocoon, F-com Bedrock, and Ovum amongst others. In 2009 he took a couple of years out from the industry, travelling to Malaysia to find himself. In 2011 a chance meeting reconnected Sahraoui with Derrick May, who he originally met in the late 90s. May was reactivating Transmat and persuaded Karim to let him release his music, but on the condition it be under his own name. The resulting pair of ’Eternal Life’ EPs in 2014 and 2016 marked his rich return to form – glorious melodic, contemplative techno in the classic motor city mode.
HIs Plenitude EP for R&S builds on similar positive themes – from the percolating arpeggios and mystic melodies of ‘Spy Of The Desert’, to the anthemic jazzy techo paen of ‘Born Again’ or the aching symphonic build of ‘Before The 2nd Coming’ its clear that after decades in the business Sahraoui’s talent is only growing rather than diminishing.
“I wanted to give it more spirituality, musicality and roots with the choice of the sounds. Going back in the past and transcribe everything with visionary fusions,” Sahraoui explains.”
Prayers are answered with Vainqueur’s Reductions 1995-1997, a compilation of in-demand cuts from René Löwe’s seminal Chain Reaction 12”s and Elevations CD, including the vinyl premiere of Antistatic and first ever appearance of Antistatic II on any format, all available on wax for the first time in over 20 years!
For anyone who came thru during the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Vainqueur records were required listening - beyond Maurizio’s M-Series and the Basic Channel catalogue, they’re some of the strongest dub techno trax in existence. Now, two decades later, they still appear regularly in the mixes of those in the know, but their 2nd hand prices have steadily crept up in parallel.
To newcomers and older fiends alike, this 3LP selection provides a perfect overview of Vainqueur’s most feted period (not withstanding his all-time banger Lyot , but that was a kinda one-off). The first disc revolves his banging Reduce 1 and the monotone brilliance of Reduce 2, whilst the 2nd disc renders the more tender gasps and dub chords of Solanus (Original) and the heady Elevation II - both masterclasses in German techno minimalism - while the 3rd disc significantly presents the flared chords of Antistatic, taken from the Elevations CD, on vinyl for the 1st time, backed with the exclusive-to-this-12” Antistatic II.
Christina Vantzou follows her role in the superb CV & JAB album for Shelter Press with the starkly haunting No.4 in her chrono-numeric series of albums for Kranky.
Her JAB foil, John Also Bennett (Forma) also assists on this one, as do Angel Deradoorian, and members of Belgium’s Echo Collective, all sensitively incorporated into her signature dimension of smoky dream sequence logic and texturally rich electro-acoustic timbres. A strong look for lovers of Angelo Badalamenti & David Lynch soundtracks, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Global Communication - in other words: night time music.
“Belgium-based composer Christina Vantzou’s fourth full-length for Kranky ventures further into the uniquely elusive and evocative mode of ambient classical minimalism which has become her signature: a fragile synthesis of contemplative drift, heady silences, and muted dissonance. In regards to the new album she speaks of focusing particular attention on the effects of the recordings on the body, and of “directing sound perception into an inner space.”
No. 4 took shape across roughly two years, incorporating a diverse array of musical and conceptual collaborators, including fellow Kranky artists Steve Hauschildt and John Also Bennett (of Forma) as well as Angel Deradoorian (ex-Dirty Projectors), Clarice Jensen, Beatrijs De Klerck, and members of Belgium’s Echo Collective. During the creation process Vantzou wanted to “blur lines of hierarchy,” and thus allowed all ensemble members and technical assistants to add or delete elements. Despite such a spectrum of input the eleven tracks feel distinctly cohesive, weaving elegant textures and resonant open spaces within a twilit landscape of eclectic instrumentation: piano, harp, vibraphone, voice, strings, marimba, synthesizers, gong, and bells.
Vantzou describes the recording process as one of prepared spontaneity: that is, “having plenty of ideas ready to explore going into the session, but with enough time to depart from those ideas and see what happens.” This mindset of premeditated exploration informs the album’s emotive textural intuition, with hushed drones and delicate gestures eliding in the periphery of the mix. She cites sleep and “the loosening of time” as two formative practices in her private and professional life, which manifests in the quietly hallucinatory properties of Vantzou’s music. No. 4 feels both endless and ephemeral, immersive and immaterial. It’s a music of horizon lines and half-light, mapped with feeling and foresight.”
Erstwhile Factory Floor member Richard Smith ploughs out three ruts of wonky acid noise as L/F/D/M, backed with a crafty remix by Nick Dunton ov 65D Mavericks.
L/F/D/M’s original range from the body-swilling EBM acid of Sixteen Snakes and the atonal roiler X-Enter-O to a sizzling and slippery 303 workout named Silver Grain, whilst Nick Dunton tidies up Silver Grain in an infectious remix featuring smoother acid contours and mutant blue vocal on the D-56M Poverty remix.
Dominick Fernow meets Patrick O’Neal (Skin Crime) in Hanged Mans Orgasm mode for a vocal companion to the epic 7LP Prurient opus, Rainbow Mirror. Fernow shares vocal narration with DC Comics story-writer Scott Bryan Wilson (who’s also credited with writing on Frozen Niagara Falls) set to bleak backdrops of atomic radiation textures and field recordings of Hanged Man’s Orgasm, the début ‘90s project of Patrick O’Neal from cult death electronics unit Skin Crime.
The label compare Unknowns with “the american counterpart to Nurse With Wound set in the decaying rural fields of new england” and, for us, the combination of low key vocals and textural attrition could also be compared with John Duncan’s efforts in that arena, as the density of atmospheric pressure inside better recalls Duncan’s esoteric experiments with shortwave radio on Riot, but, in the case of this A-side, mixed with the kind of vocal delivery heard on Duncan’s surreal Bitter Earth songbook.
The notorious Kris Lapke a.k.a. Alberich lends his haggard touch in production to bring both sides to life with unflinchingly stoic and visceral force, most powerfully in the B-side’s burial by rubble in a shallow grave.
BFTT, Chekov, Lack and Howes deliver low key and shifty UK bass and electro-techno mutations on the latter’s Cong Burn - the label which introduced Lanark Artefax to the world back in 2015.
In suit with Cong Burn 01, which featured Howes alongside Perfume Advert and Amxd’s Haddon & L. Pearson on a subliminal house and bass tip, the 2nd Cong Burn vinyl keeps the vibe late night and smoky between the hydraulic electro action of BFTT’s Public/Private and the vintage Dynamo styles of Absent by Leeds-based Lack, while Chekov induces a canny halfstep skank with the cranky Celeste, and Howes checks out on a smudged dub house bent.
STROOM 〰 serve a compilation of dreamlike works by Brussels-based collective Pablo’s Eye drawn from their catalogue circa the early-mid ‘90s. There’s some lush passages to be found...
“Pablo’s Eye is the science of studio pressure, when engineer becomes artist. Appropriating left and right as well as front and back, Pablo’s Eye uses the mixing desk to examine and exhaust the possibilities of moments. Pablo’s Eye is a record of that examination and exhaustion, but it is also a record of its own inner space. By means of depth placement, psychoacoustics and spatial fug, Pablo’s Eye is experienced in the deeper reaches of the body, bypassing the conscious part of the mind entirely.
Pablo’s Eye is the turning of recorded music inside out to show its seams. It interrogates a song, stripping down the body of the song to reveal its bones. Pablo’s Eye is in the interstices of music, it plugs the gaps, fills the holes. Pablo’s Eye seeks out the concealed mechanisms, it is a song’s hidden agenda.
For this compilation, it was decided to present the softer air-beatings of Pablo’s Eye. More than anything, Pablo’s Eye is a temporary atmosphere, like a taste or a dream…”
Diverse, colourful psych-house, breakbeat and ambient plays from Earth Trax & Newborn Jr, following the form of their Rhythm Section Intl and Echovolt releases with this 5-track bewt for Dopeness Galore.
Working in two distinct halves, the first side dances to a cantering acid ace called Maze with stealthily building acid harmonies spiralling into a lush sort of proto-trance sound, while Where There’s A Will There’s A Way tilts to a hazy and charming breakbeat roll set off with polychromatic synth plumes.
The B-side dips deeper, shedding the beats to leave lushly suspenseful bassline and choral percolations with levitating effect in Acid Burn, then bathing in new age dub on Technoir, and swooning out into the Carl Craig-like Diamond Edge.
Brian Mcbride and Adam Wiltzie's "Stars Of The Lid" are another one of those bands, alongside Windy and Carl, that seem to typify Kranky's quiet exuberance perfectly.
Their ability to create drifting shimmers of sound that veer from hushed, whispered soundscapes to disturbed crescendo's utilising nothing more than a couple of guitars, some basic effects pedals and whatever found sounds happen to be lying around has allowed them to progress slowly from one album to the next with the sort of intuitive, masterful command of minimalism that's quite hard to fathom in one sitting.
"Gravitational Pull" was originally released on the Sedimental label, eventually reissued by Kranky back in 1998, including extra material. Amazing stuff.
UKF king Roska rolls out heavy but nimble on Byrd Out, a new label who’ve previously released everyone from Mark Archer to Mad Professor and Evan Parker.
Up top he meshes bolshy brass to double-dipping subbass and slippery congas in classic Roska style (actually, where’s the Roska! Roska! Roska! stabs?) before tucking simmering organs to a more clipped and swaggering groove called Warming, punctuated with bright samba whistles on the pivot.
Levon Vincent offers two deep cuts from his Paris  album on vinyl; Only Good Things and Kissing.
Only Good Things trades in a reserved but optimistic line of mellow technohouse stealthily developing choral synth voices and floating pads on a shifty, minimalist groove. On Kissing a stronger, undulating bass anchors some of his sweetest phasing string chords, overlapping and building to frothy pizzicato peaks in a way that resonates with his schooling by a former engineer of Steve Reich’s.
Summer-ready disco edits from Brooklyn’s Toshihiro Moriguchi a.k.a. DJ Monchan
Strutting across the A-side with Disco In The Ghetto and keeping the groove tucked tight in the pocket with Good Night Tonight, checking out on a naughty disco-rock edit.
Tresor’s experimental commission from trans-atlantic techno pioneers Thomas Fehlmann and Terrence Dixon proves to be greater than the sum of its parts in the strongest way on We Take It From Here.
Both artists bring the very best out of each other on all six cuts, resulting a chimeric sound that neither could really claim as their own. They’re not reinventing the wheel, but they are doing some really crafty things with the inter-dimensional shifts between tribal patterns, zig-zagging acid and jazz chords in Dreaming Of Packard, while Experiment 3 comes off like a proper Jamal Moss trip, The Corner works out a belting sort of Detroit techno-meets-Italo disco groove, and Landline sees them cut the anchor and drift out into deepest synth space.
DJ Spun and Jonah Sharp (Reaganz) romp on a psyched-out no wave house sound as The Loose Control Band
Pairing their Trevor Jackson-esque grinding title cut I Don’t Understand with a more rolling but still grizzly Radio Slave remix on the front, backed with a driving psychedelic trance workout in Ryan James Ford’s Akihabara remix, and a wickedly offbeat and roguish Hope remix.
‘Innerland’ is the first ever solo album by Engineers co-founder/songwriter and Ulrich Schnauss collaborator Mark Peters.
"It was originally released as a low-key limited-edition cassette late last year, but it sold out immediately through word of mouth and the backing of BBC Radio 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne and Gideon Coe, Uncut magazine and Caught By The River, whose Robin Turner said it was “impossibly beautiful, evoking a bird’s-eye view of its own landscape, one untarnished by the blots and the palettes and the Tescos of the real world”.
It has now been relandscaped into a larger-scale, eight-track album and will get a full release on vinyl, CD and digital on April 20. A collection of instrumentals, with nods to Brian Eno, Talk Talk, Richard Thompson, Vini Reilly and Felt’s Maurice Deebank, ‘Innerland’ highlights Mark’s incredible musicianship, positioning his guitar rather than his voice as the focal point of the music. It also finds him reconnecting with his youth and rediscovering a sense of place, following a move back home to northwest England in late 2016, with all the songs named after local places and landmarks."
Peacers / Sic Alps lead singer Mike Donovan steps out from behind the ash-stained curtain for his second solo album in the past five years, ‘How To Get Your Record Played In Shops’.
"How To Get Your Record Played In Shops’ is a tribute to the streets where you find the shops that play the records. To pin down this increasingly imagined place, Mike DIYs it to the max, recording everything himself and playing most of it too, basing it largely on piano riffs, which is something different, especially with adding touches of other keys and notes of whatever fits into the scape. The combination of these colourful backings with Mike’s synapse-shifting lyric wit leads us into new odd corners, where the only option seems to be the mirror and eyes looking back deadly at us. Yet, in the chilly sling of SF, the legend of communal lifestyle rules on and, with help from the lads in spots and a Bo ‘Bozmo’ Moore cover to boot, this record can be stowed safely beneath the Peacers umbrella - even in the solo-ist of moments, when Mike’s hand on the piano is delightfully blurry among the reverbs, his voice listing along the falsetto borderline, smile frozen, as a feeling of aloneness and absolute nothing becomes poignantly alive.
Despite (no, because of) all the carnage, ‘How To Get Your Record Played In Shops’ is something to make you really happy when you stumble upon it in the bin, a secret communication outside the lines of corporation entertainment, news media and the rest of the contemporary corruption influences."
Gramz joins Youngsta’s Sentry label with two distorted half step payloads
Dispensing the bitter tang and growling subs of Dip Dip Potato Chip on top, then emerging from a messed-up abstract intro into a lockjawed, chattering killer called Illa on the other side.
Shrouded in mystery, the Hermetica are a series of Egyptian-Greek didactic texts, meant to help the willing student better understand the cosmos, divinity and nature. On her debut album for DFA Records, German producer Perel takes the listener into deep space and explains it all.
"Over the course of nine tracks, she shares a striking amalgamation of house, new wave and kraut motifs that crystallize to form a unique sound. The early 80’s sounds of a Eurythmics cassette Annegret Fiedler listened to at a young age prove influential on many tracks, where Perel combines her love of dance music with the stark vocal delivery of Annie Lennox.
The album is a focused, sonically adventurous work, where the DJ also happens to play every instrument, write every song and intone words of prophetic wisdom on every track."
Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley pour the aural equivalent of an old fashioned in a repurposed jam jar for Drag City
“A month spent in an old mill, river swimming, scorpion fear. No wifi. Night sounds, used frogs. Broken music, a crumble, a mysterious place. An album made for each other by one another with no piercing the bubble, the opposite of a typical recording experience. Tim and Cate serve Drinks again!”
Christian Jay pivots on a dubby garage 2-step again for Idle Hands
Following his Contrail début with a nimble number called Katalox remaining us of Tender Love era SND, and from a moody blue angle somewhere between early Prefuse 73 and Herbert in Del’s Kicks.
Spatial stalks the line between grime and techno on his follow-up to the album payload of A Music Of Sound Systems, with remix reinforcement by J. Tijn and Munstac.
On Netz Room he unleashes a nervy chimera of snarling grime drums clinically punctuated with techno synths and stabs in a fiercely economical style, whereas Hut 6 heads for straight down the line techno.
J. Tijn gives Netz Room a clattering kind of breakstep rework and Munstac puts a playful UKF spin on the same elements, returnin the favour of Spatial’s remix for The Cathedral .
Blinding technoid fusions of flashcore and Techno at 130bpm on the surprise 7th release on Mumdance & Logos’ Different Circles label, RIYL Sleeparchive, La Peste, Shed, Chevel...
Different Circles round off two techno killers nearly 10 years since Szare’s coded conception as 22.214.171.124.5 for Horizontal Ground to reaffirm their unique position within experimental bass/techno dimensions.
Bringing a mongrel sense of Manchester dance music to the plate on both sides, Szare morph rolling big techno with deft traces of flashcore to scintillating impact on Kodiak with its searing paso doble breakdown and bleep coda best compared to Sleeparchive going in double hard with La Peste.
On the other side, Translocated figures a rugged calculation of staccato jacking UK warehouse dynamics rudely compatible with Mumdance & Logos’ FFS/BMT bangers and the wider Different Circles catalogue, but with a hypnotic, industrialized dance energy that is Szare to the core.
Theo and pals stretch out at jazzy angles on Gentrified Love, Pt.4
Bubbling uptempo with the burning hustle of Leave The Funk To Us feat. Amp Fiddler & Ideeyah on a P-Funk house flex, whereas Be Like Me hits the downstroke on a well-tucked boogie jazz turn starring Paul Randolph and Kathy Kosins.
Vakula slightly changes his name but sticks to a familiar style of deep, spaced-out techno-house as Vakulism with Edelweiss Reflection
Gliding from floating ambient house structures thru beatless zones inhabited by stray Japanese voice, and over to dubbed out acid techno and lilting ambient house with Japanese inspirations.
Beta Evers ropes in Heinrich Mueller for her moody side of a split with Spatial Relation a.k.a. married NYC couple Lissette and Jacob Schoenly.
Evers’ side yields three cuts in a declension of energy and mood, from the taut acid electro of Hiding, to the weightless doom of Soundtrack For A Tomorrow and finally bringing in Detroit deity Heinrich Mueller (Dopplereffekt) to enhance the unheimlich synth dimensions of Innerhalb Der Zeit.
Spatial Relation’s tracks are spikier, driven, ranging from the spiky prod and droll vocal of Highly Questionable, thru the druggy night slug of Last Night I Dreamt to an amphetamine-dosed hot-stepper, Spectrum Of Hues.
Premiering to the world at large, Tony Conrad’s gobsmacking quintessential opus Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain is now available to hear for the first time, featuring Laurie Spiegel and Rhys Chatham and arriving via Superior Viaduct just over a year since the death of the iconoclastic avant-garde violinist and composer in 2016.
Conrad’s sprawling, innovative practice - binding film, sound and performance in peerless and unprecedented style has been a huge influence on his myriad collaborators and far-flung body of avowed admirers. Just like the amazing and revelatory documentary, Tony Conrad: Completely In The Present , this steeply immersive 1hr, 30 minute recording should also attract a whole new wave of listeners to his truly sui generis music and cement his place in the 20th century avant-garde firmament, if it wasn’t already.
Recorded at the piece’s premiere at The Kitchen, NYC, in 1972, this release of Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain effectively forms some of the earliest documentation of Tony Conrad solo, one year before his legendary ..with Faust LP. Accompanied by Rhys Chatham playing the Long String Drone - a six-foot strip of wood with bass strings and electric pick up, prepared with tuning keys, tape and metal hardware - and Laurie Spiegel thrumming a crunching arrhythmic bass throughout, Conrad leads the 1hr 28 minute piece with the sustained caterwaul of his favoured violin (often the most battered model he could find), scraping back and forth in a pitching, phasing, mind-bending performance dating to just after his time spent developing this technique as part of The Theatre of Eternal Music with La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and John Cale - whom cites Conrad’s sonic philosophy and contributions to early live Velvet Underground actions as a pivotal formative influence over the esteemed artrock pioneers.
Completely mesmerising, the instinctively fearless results are belied by a conceptual and mathematical rigour that boldly asserted Conrad’s convictions in a unity and transcendence of all things. And yet whilst divorced from the visual aspect of the performance - a row of quadruple projections arranged side-by-side, incremental overlapping to form a pulsating picture - which was surely a major part of the piece, the sonic results still carry a potent meaning through its durational reinforcement of purely dissonant tunings and insistently dragging yet forward motion - an inexorable drive intently focussing themselves, and the listener, in the eternal traction of the present.
In terms of that effect at least, we could compare the piece’s intensity and heightened hallucinogenic qualities with extended studies such as Éliane Radigue’s Transamorem - Transmortem, Alvin Lucier’s Music On A Long String Wire or Harley Gaber’s Wind Rises In The North, for example, yet there’s something utterly primal at play that bucks all those references, and appears closer to a prescient, overproof distillation of folk immediacy, rock’s lusting urge, and the hypnosis of tribal/trance/techno musics.
It’s a completely stunning piece of music that will repay the attentive, attuned listener with endless rewards.
Almost all of the afro-Cuban music in this compilation fell under the new marketing category ‘salsa’ (up till then it would have been simply called Latin music), and its cradle was New York City, where the tradition flourished amidst the constant mix of ethnicities and so many styles of music.
"It was inevitable that afro-Cuban music would proliferate in new genres reflecting its new home. Afro-Cuban jazz was born in New York City, through the amalgamating creativity of musicians like Chano Pozo, Machito, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie. Likewise Boogaloo in the mid sixties, coming out of Harlem, joining Guajira and son with soul, R and B and doo-wop.
The recordings on Son Cubano NYC were made over the decade beginning 1972, for the new Salsoul and SAR labels and their sisters Mericana and Guajiro. For the trumpeter Chocolate, the music has ‘broader harmonies and touches of jazz phrasing, but never leaves the raices and cinquillo… Cuban music is natural - its essence is its raices [roots]’. For the singer Henry Fiol, ‘New York salsa is a hybrid. When Cuban music moved to New York it added another flavour.’
Latin music was exploding in the City. You could hear deejays like Polito Vega playing on the radio at any time of day; you could go dancing any night of the week, throughout the boros, at clubs like Corsos, Casablanca, Bronx Casino, Ochentas, Club Cabrojena, Carlos Ortiz’ Tropicana, Hunts Point Palace. And yet — held back because of the unmistakable Cuban personality of its music — ‘the success of SAR was due mainly to word of mouth’, as co-founder Sergio Bofill recalls. ‘We didn’t get airplay and found that we could do without it and still sell albums in the USA, Europe, and Africa’. This was still the period of the Cold War — when Eddie Palmieri was accused of ‘communist salsa’ for his song Mozambique (which isn’t even salsa) — and the radio stations did their bit to suppress Cuban culture.
Within a few years — by the mid-80s — New York salsa was becoming stagnant: ‘boring and monotonous’, in the words of historian Max Salazar; for Charlie Palmieri, ‘Europeanized’ in its disavowal of improvisation. The music-making on this album was dismissed as old-fashioned. Actually — in the glory of its long, flowing, rootsy forms, in the irresistible spell it casts on dancers everywhere — it is timeless."
Newly reissued on Superior Viaduct with Cover photography by artist Michael Snow
'Four Organs' / 'Phase Patterns' are two of Steve Reich's earliest recordings and were originally released in 1970 on the French label Shandar. They still sound magnificent, futuristic and elemental today, some 40 years since they were first realised.
With 'Four Organs' Reich applies the idea of slowing down a piece of sound until many times its original length without changing pitch or timbre. In it, Jon Gibson's maracas play a fast eighth note pulse while the four organs - played by Steve Chambers, Philip Glass, Art Murphy and Reich - stress certain notes using an 11th chord, creating a hypnotic cycle with trance-inducing rhythmic subtlety. 'Phase Patterns' follows a similar schematic, sans maracas and was Reich's first piece to be performed in a large traditional setting.
Lena Willikens takes Dekmantel’s Selectors series for a slow-to-midtempo psychedelic jag with 12 tracks of munted acid, soiled EBM, and cosmic tribal chug, including exclusive gear from Jasss to Parrish Smith and obscure vintage from Sandoz and Varoshi Fame.
A fine representation of what Lena plays in her famed DJ sets, both solo and often with Vladimir Ivkovic, the set is bound by shared tastes for crunching but shifty mechanical rhythms and expressively bittersweet electronics.
Jasss gives a big highlight with the slurred bass and streaking mentasms of Little Lines, her first new track since the world-taking Weightless album, and Parrish Smith also impresses with the recoiling hot-stepper Minima, while the set also reveals new sensations in the sheer, sexy grub of Deep Space from Sysex, and the immersive comic slosh of Amalgame from Vromb, and Chekov’s re-edit of the jagged EBM piece Voice of Command  by Varoshi Fame.
Gerald Donald (Heinrich Mueller, Arpanet, Dopplereffekt, Drexciya) initiates new alias Xor Gate with the 30 minute wormhole of Conic Sections.
Originally commissioned by ArtCenter South Florida in Miami, this release renders one of the longest works in Gerald Donald’s expansive microcosmos, giving enough time to explore his fascination with maths and geometry to the nth degree, but with that grasp of sweetly human pathos that sets his advanced sonic research leagues apart from the field. It’s highly recommended to immerse in this one as a solo mission, with lights dimmed and eyes shut, and its highly visual sonic stimulus work its magic on the back of your eyelids.
Pangaea goes in with ’92-style ‘ardcore pressure on Bone Sucka, plus a stripe of pumping Belgian techno-meets-UK bleep in Proxy, unleashing two of the strongest cuts on Hessle Audio in years.
The ruffkut and deviant breakbeats of Bone Sucka instantly recalls the rolige of one of our favourite Panagea cuts - Inna Mind  - but the filigree mixing trickery and layered sound design defines the distance his productions have come since that relatively early strike.
Proxy on the other hand metes out a tufted jack working somewhere between the muscularity of early Belgian techno and the hypnotic pressure of SoYo bleep bouncers, but with an up-to-date, mid-fi gaze that will draw you deep in during the late hours.
A timely reminder of Derek Bailey’s mould-breaking expressive genius, sparring Han Bennink on drums on the 2nd ever reissue of their Selections From Live Performance At Verity’s Place- originally recorded in 1972 and now repackaged with an extra side of the duo’s improvisations made in September 1973.
For the uninitiated, this pairing is a formidable and perhaps hard-to-grasp proposition, but their combination of playfulness and feral nature is underlined by cutting precision and dexterity that’s hard to ignore, especially if you’re intrigued by the chaos of noise music proper or the deviant angles of dance music’s more extreme, grid-warping innovators.
For everyone else - from blues scholars to avant-rock freaks and free jazz nuts - you’ll probably already know that Bailey / Bennink’s early free improv hook-up is a genuine blinder.