Static-filled signals, emanating deep from inside the walls of Laurel Canyon and bouncing off clusters of incipient late century technology, are pulled through the twisted rabbit ears of a Chevy Astro Van. This is Planisphere, the new compilation by Numero Group.
"The equivocal sound of hippies fresh from their back-to-land sojourns shuttling drum machines through heartworn aspirations, as if the music section of the Whole Earth Catalog came to life. Let out from astronomy class with an arm full of Brain and Sky label releases, these 9 nomads scribble plein air narrations over a landscape turning its back on the sun.
Bask in the reverberations of our celestial home sweet home. Our Planisphere, for those within the 30-40 degree zone, will provide you with a fairly discernible chart for discovering both deep-sky objects and telluric emotional pulses."
L.A.’s Fmvee come up with a mix of ruff party burners and introspective downbeats for the keenly watched Total Stasis label - home to records by CS + Kreme, Ramzi, Elysia Crampton ++
On the two standout dancefloor prangers, they place a mutant US spin on UK rave styles to rude effect with the junglist sidewinder ‘Flex Blade’ and industrial grime collision of rail-gunning kicks and virulent arps in ‘Birds Ov Paradise’, whereas ‘Iluvlonelyfreak’ tests out a sort of stumbling, grubby, ambient 2-step, and ‘Vapour Girl’ pushes out into heady, weightless zones recalling Andy Stott.
Zombie slugs for the big rooms with a mix of lunk-headed techno grinders, swingers and skudgy shifters
He kicks off with the rasping sock and cavernous dimensions of ‘Void’, while ‘Bleed’ shifts its big boned knocks with gritty friction at 120bpm, and ‘Emerald’ rolls off the bone with sullen swagger and cranky metallic tones.
It gets messier herein with the agitated, aggy flex of ‘Threshold’ on a scintillating sort of future ‘ardcore parry, and ‘Zexor’ finds him splashing about in a murky, acidic puddles of ace bumpty techno-house in a style recalling Galcher Lustwerk or DJ Richard.
Super hi-potency synth-pop album from Brooklyn’s Shari Vari a.k.a. Void Vision and the brains behind her Everything Is Fine anthem, included here beside ten original aces plus a dreamy Italo remix by Bordello A Parigi’s Vanzetti & Sacco.
Sub Rosa is quite possibly one of the strongest synth-pop LPs from the recent revival, rendering a pellucid and sharply defined take on vintage styles, and one that’s unafraid to cut out the sh*ttier cliches where it’s required. Like other listeners, we’ve become acquainted with a handful of these tunes (and they are proper tunes) since they appeared on various compilations over the years, with In 20 Years receiving a Rough Trade cosign in their Synth Wave 10 set in 2010, and the Everything is Fine ohrwurm noted on a memorable FlexiWave set in 2012.
Those moments aside, the rest of the LP is dead impressive, too: whether trumping Zola Jesus at her own game in ‘To The Sea’ oer the curdled ’90s goth-pop of ‘Queen of Hearts’, ramping the breakneck quickstep of ‘Vulgar Displays’, or serving stylishly melodic EBM in the closing shot of ‘20-20’.
Shadow-strafing D&B rolige and sharply stylized glooom from Blackest Ever Black’s A14 sublabel
Like his string of 12”s for Hojo Clan and Samurai Music since 2015, Shiken Hanzo’s new 12” combines an authentic reading of Japanese Samurai culture with nods to Photek’s mid-‘90s jungle martial arts in a carefully minimalist, immersive style.
Between the jet-black noir of ‘The Centipede’ to the aerodynamic silhouette of ‘OathKeeper’ up top, and thru the Raime-like charge of ‘Menpo’, to filigree use of synths from Hans Zimemr’s Bladerunner 2049 soundtrack in ‘Oni’, this is arch BEB/A14 gear and a must have for grey area scouts - RIYL Logos, Pessimist, Raime, Hidden Hawaii.
An unmissable invitation to peruse the poetically oneiric music of Benjamin Lew, extended by two of Belgium’s finest labels; Stroom and Crammed Discs.
Compiled by Brecht Van Dingenen and Ziggy Devriendt, ‘Le Personnage Principal Est un Peuple Isolé’ unfurls a sublime drift through Benjamin Lew’s singular sound world, where crystalline, analog computerised electronics meet a plethora of instrumental voices from the early ‘80s Belgian firmament; including among them his Tuxedomoon collaborator Steven Brown and Blaine L. Reininger, plus Vini Reilly, Marc Hollander, Samy Birnbach and many more. We long suspected that Stroom would apply their expert curatorial skills to Lew’s oeuvre and it’s safe to say the results do not disappoint, surveying Lew’s music in all it’s stately, esoetric, and worldly splendour. Purchasing this LP will make your life 100% more sophisticated, we practically guarantee.
“Benjamin Lew was an enlightened amateur, in the noble and almost Renaissance-like sense of the word: he dabbled with equal grace in photography, writing, visual arts ... and worked part-time as a cocktail mixer in a tropical bar which was one of the favourite watering holes of Brussels’ thriving artistic community of the early ‘80s. Tuxedomoon had just moved to Brussels, and Steven Brown was among the many musicians, designers & artists who patronized the bar. Benjamin had a secret passion: he wasn’t a musician, but had acquired a small analog computer, with which he had started creating these strange mysterious little pieces. Benjamin played them to Steven and asked him if he’d agree to record with him. Steven was taken with them and accepted. The Douzième Journée was largely created in the studio by both protagonists, with the help of Gilles Martin and myself, in the spring of ‘82. Listening to his albums (he went on to record four more with Crammed) is like embarking on a dream journey to the Sahara or the Far East. You’d think that some of the pieces feature non-European musicians or samples but: no... this is just Benjamin’s imagination, his synths, and his friends…” Marc Hollander, Feb. 2019”
Highly stylized, dreary post punk ennui from Berlin
“Years in the making, the follow-up or maybe even companion piece to 2015's "Positive Energy", "Positive Disintegration" sees the band with a bit more of a pop zap to the ever present post punk dreariness of modern Berlin life... Or even modern life at large as most of the lyrical content has to do with the monotony of barely getting by or trying to have a meaningful exchange with a remotely interesting person.
These things are hard to come by most of the time and this music eats at that very feeling. It's almost enough to make you wanna throw in the towel and move to Spain without a care in the world to haunt your remaining days. You probably won't though, you'll most likely listen to this record while you sip your overpriced room temperature coffee drink whilst ordering new bulbs for your anti depression lamp from a major online retailer. It just feels like life is getting away from you, ya know? Dark.”
‘The Royal Garden Covered In Ash’ is a dream sequence of layered and mulched horror-style organs and synths concocted by ambient explorer Fabio Orsi and the maestro Brian Pyle of Ensemble Economique and Starving Weirdos. It's a proper goodun - highly recommended if yr into Dean Hurley's super atmospheric Lynchain sound design.
Seemingly crafted to soundtrack bouts of sleep paraylsis, or the the heavy-lidded hypnagogic jerk phase, ‘The Royal Garden Covered In Ash’ says its piece in gloaming strokes with an overtone of menace that never quite manifests but lurks liminally, gnawing at the subconscious.
‘Belief is a whisper’ helms the front with a subaquatic swell of nocturnal crimson/blue/black hues that give way to Pyle’s typical, Vangelis-like brass flares and ghostly synth figures that fleet out of view just as quickly as they appeared, while the narrative subtly lures us into really noirish mindspaces.
’You’re So Close, I Can Almost Hold You Again’ phosphoresces on the back, hovering in and out of view with a beautifully elusive quality - sometimes tangible and shimmering, at others smudged and just outta reach - in a proper aether dream style.
Beautiful, eerie music.
Peder Mannerfelt & Pär Grindvik push the Aasthma envelope looser, faster, and stranger on a second limited edition 12", featuring one cut of blistered power ambient, plus a sidewinding cybernetic techno twyster - properly f*cked & deadly dancefloor gear highly recommended if yr into T++, Ugandan Methods!!!
A strong new addition to both artists’ oeuvres, the 2nd Aasthma 12” follows the same formula as the first, and again finding a smart balance of immediate rawness and classy sound design, but this time slightly altering the parameters to more reckless and experimental appeal.
The smoky ambient blush of ’Rotating Blue Device’ unfurls a fine mesh of gauzy mid-ground and prickly surface disturbances to bend the mind’s eye and presumably sound steeply psychedelic in altered states, which finely sets the tone for ‘Los Angeles’, where they spar with thorny techno drums and surges of bass voltage in a roving, undulating, crisp but distorted mass that will swill the club out something rotten.
A strong look for fans of harsh, bombed-out electronics, Ukraine’s SD debuts on iDEAL with a sound primed to be deployed in the scuzziest warehouses and abandoned factories.
As debuts go, ‘Luxury Death’ is a powerfully definitive statement of intent, driving a stake in the ground somewhere between the contemporary skools of JK Flesh, Prurient and Puce Mary, and the grizzled old battalions of Broken Flag and the ‘80s Italian industrial hordes. In that tradition, it’s built to be played LOUD, possessing the sort of biting-point amplitude control and a gauntleted grasp of barbed sonics that will make your speakers tremble with fear.
Raising the tension with sci-fi cinematic strings and drop forge noise blasts in the first, the session sustains a stare down intensity until the end, holding listeners under waves of rhythmic noise with a water-boarding brutality, then leaving us to freeze in muddy trenches, surrounded by shellfire, before ultimately burying the senses with smeared drones.
Shenzhou is next up in Biosphere’s album reissue schedule.
Original issued in 2000, it finds the Norwegian artist following the wistful loops of Cirque farther down the rabbit hole, leaving behind the purely electronic contours and beat-driven elements of his early work for a subtler, textured electro-acoustic style comparable with The Caretaker and Leyland Kirby or William Basinski’s faded tape loops. Your attention is required to the mesmerising string swells of Houses On The Hill, the cinematic midnight jazz gesture of Path Leading to the High Grass, and the Deathprod-alike gloam of Lorry Shuttle Shaft.
Liquid Liquid drummer Dennis Young’s tape-only obscurity finds its way to vinyl via Korea’s Daehan Electronics, including previous unreleased tracks written during the same 1988 sessions
Somehow evading everyone’s radar until now (and even still we can’t see the original tape for sale anywhere), ‘’Visions’ finally comes into the spotlight, showcasing Dennis Young stylistically operating light years away from Liquid Liquid, but actually only seven years since he laid down one of dance music’s foundational grooves with ‘Cavern.’
Newly augmented with rediscovered material, Young’s 1988 album ‘Visions’ is a strange ride, still urged by his signature drum work, but more fleshed out with FM synths and cubist MIDI bass twang. The previously unheard ‘Dreamland’ sets out the album’s feel, sharing a esoteric. synthy vision with the other unreleased bit ‘Eastern Skies’, which also shares a naif, “orientalist” breeziness in common with ‘Indonesia Eyes’ and ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, while we find his percussive sensibilities pulled in new directions from the woozy ‘Shangri-La’, to the sprung step of ‘Volcano Cathedral’ and the Suba-esque ‘Olympus Mons.’
Expanded first reissue of a calm 1991 new age LP by Liquid Liquid drummer Dennis Young, whose work on classic ‘Cavern’ is a cornerstone of hip hop and punk-funk
While the rest of the world slept on Young’s late ‘80s series of new age tapes, the keen ears at Daehan Electronics have been steadily excavating their goodies from releases that got a domestic pressing in their native Korea. Now, hot on the heels of an ace 1988 volume, ‘Visions’, they now unfurl more magick with that album’s follow-up, ‘Sojourn’, replete with three bonus tracks from the same 1989 sessions.
It’s practically worth it for one of the unreleased bits, ‘Heartsong’, whose angelic synth chorale speaks as much to Young’s career as film soundtrack composer as his enduring influence over dance music, while ‘Fantasia’ uncannily follows suit with a choral riff that’s half a note away from the central motif in Forgemasters ‘Track With No Name’, but set to slow MIDI drums. The album continues to reveal special new angles thru the B-side’s other unreleased peach, an ambient-pop mediation ‘Ancient Past’ sounding like Arpanet meets Lewis, which triggers a marmite sequence of songs right on the cusp of new age fromage and stellar sincerity. Very safe to say the highlights more than make up for any off moments, though.
Remastered from original DAT reissue of sought-after, vintage hardcore jungle techno killers from 1993 off the Underdog Recordings label
One of two newly reissued Mad Dog EPs, the first plate comes on strong but deep in four parts of rolling kicks, breaks, and dreamy pads. On the A-side you’ll find a spring heeled stepper with a dodgy but it-was-OK-in-the-’90s title, plus the hardcore rush of ’Séance (Sunrise)’, backed with the Amen fire and face-melting mentasms of ‘D:Tox’ and the gnashing rufige of ’Séance (On The Trip)’.
First in a two part compendium scanning the career of short lived, but highly influential New Wave Goth group, Bauhaus.
With their first single 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' the Northampton-based group effectively started one of the first post-punk genres by mixing gloomy guitars and spikily danceable drums with a subtle dub element to create that definitive goth-punk atmosphere. They're now held as a reference point by everyone from TV On The Radio to Kode 9, Silk Flowers and Regis, so if you've never checked them, this is an excellent place to start.
Reissue of Mood II Swing’s immense, sought-after remixes of a 1997 deep house peach by Crustation
The trip hop original comes in a divine deep house vocal mix up top, reframed with sumptuous inrto and deliciously squashed in-the-mix for late night intimacy, but the one you really, really need is the ‘Borderline Insanity Dub Mix’, where the deep garage house masters souse the thing in a bath of GHB to sexiest, trippiest effect.
Second in a two part compendium scanning the career of short lived, but highly influential New Wave Goth group, Bauhaus.
With their first single 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' the Northampton-based group effectively started one of the first post-punk genres by mixing gloomy guitars and spikily danceable drums with a subtle dub element to create that definitive goth-punk atmosphere. They're now held as a reference point by everyone from TV On The Radio to Kode 9, Silk Flowers and Regis, so if you've never checked them, this is an excellent place to start.
The rarely paralleled trio reconvene for an engrossing fourth album also featuring esteemed company Charlemagne Palestine and Eiko Ishibashi, the core trio spread out further and more succinctly than ever before, oscillating assuredly between ghostly minimalism, feathered jazz fusion and gnarled "cave-man rock".
The album opens with Palestine stirring spectral tones from wine glasses, soon joined by the floating vocal presence of Haino and Ishibashi communing in midair until Haino cuts through with pealing guitar chords and a subbass looms, seemingly from nowhere. Next, Haino picks up his flute and they change shape to a quietly spirited jazz fusion sound almost defined more by the space between their notes than the notes themselves, and soon enough they converge on the heavy stuff, O'Rourke swangin' serious bass heft under the tensest drum crashes and claw-handed riffage.
We could maybe do without the "funkier" mid-section bit, 'A new radiance springing forth from inside the light', but that small issue is resolved with the stomach-tightening ten minute swagger of 'Even That Still Here And Unwanted Can You And I Love It? Just Like Us It Was Born Here Too', and a brief but poignant doom ambient close.
There are few contemporary musicians who have had as much of an impact on us as Mika Vainio, so each new release is always cause for celebration. Whether exploring the grim underbelly of the electric guitar on ‘Life (… It Eats You Up)’ or haunted minimalism in his collaboration with Kevin Drumm and friends on ‘Venexia’, Vainio somehow manages to throw us into a state of awe consistently time and time again.
‘FE3O4 – Magnetite’ manages to uphold this quality but takes a stylistic about turn, exploring the two poles of noise and silence, finding Vainio explore distortion and contrast in a way he hasn’t for many years now. Radio static emerges from almost nothing, sounds appear for a second and are gone and cables are established and removed without warning. This dynamic is offset by Vainio’s well-documented expertise with very loud drones, and the drones we’re treated to on ‘FE3O4’ are louder and more intense than you’re likely to find almost anywhere else. Sub bass tones tear through the silence heralded only by small pops, and wavering, distorted oscillators cut and slice like a lone machete in a dark night.
This is often terrifying music, but thanks to Vainio’s calm hand it never devolves into mere theatrics. Rather the sounds are so well paced and expertly handled that you feel like you are being treated to the work of a pioneer, and someone whose work is a direct descendent of Bernard Parmegiani, Luciano Berio and Throbbing Gristle. Incredible music, and yet another totally unmissable full-length from Mika Vainio.
Remastered from original DAT reissue of sought-after, vintage hardcore jungle killers from 1993 off the Underdog Recordings label
Delirious hardcore trax patently penned with clammy gary hands and swinging jaws in the hours and days after raves at Dreamscape and Outer Limits. Seriously you can hear these guys were off their chops in the studio. Brilliant!
“So, in 1992 whilst living in Tottenham, Paul (Chalke) and his best pal Longers came back from a Dreamscape rave fully 'beaned up' on ecstasy being 'proper on one' Chalke got into the studio, while Longers carried on the party vibes by being the 'cocktail maker' for that studio session as it rolled into Saturday daytime and into the following night. The outcome of that long drug-fuelled session would be 'The Resurrection'.
A little while later, with Chalke now MCing for Mr. C of The Shamen at his Brain Club residency in Soho, London, Chorks wanted to get a flipside done to 'The Resurrection'. So he called in Longers 'The Vibes Man' and the pair went out to an Outer Limits rave in Milton Keynes for inspiration. On their arrival back in Tottenham, Chalke hit the studio again, with Longers by his side as always and the creativity flowed, the amens rolled and the session bubbled over into two versions of 'The Future' - ('The Future Original / The Future Now').
RIP Gary 'Longers' Church. 1966 - 2002.”
Tim Hecker returns with a companion piece to his recent Konoyo album.
"Anoyo (“the world over there”) draws from the same sessions with members of Tokyo Gakuso which led to the 2018 work Konoyo, but rendered starker, solemn, and stripped back, with more of a naturalist tint. Hecker’s processing here moves in veiled ways, soft refractions and whispered shrouds woven within improvisational sessions of traditional gagaku interplay, evoking a sense of vaulted space, temples at dawn, shredded silk fluttering in the rafters.
This is boldly barren music, skeletal and sculptural, shaped from wood, wind, strings, and mist. Modern yet ancient, delicate and desolate, Anoyo inverts its predecessor to compellingly conjure a parallel world of illusion, solitude, and eternal return."
Ghostride The Drift is a highly promising new smudge-ambient project dreamt by Huerco S, Exael and Special Guest DJ aka uon, for his and D. Tiffany’s new label.
Their extended self-titled debut finds the trio’s shared tastes consolidated and mutated in 5 parts of spiralling, psychedelic and elusive dub forms that evoke the sensation of floating in a fog-choked rave at 5AM. Finding range between pockets of noisy dub ephemera, tracts of scudding, weightless hyper-dub, and seductively dragging downbeats, the EP speaks to each producer’s sound in turn and all at once.
The opening blast of fathoms-deep, gaseous iridescence and buried but pelting kick drums is a huge highlight, recalling Xth Reflexion joints for Aught, while moments of Basic Channel-esque abstraction colour the downtime between beats, variously rolling out with brownian motion, and then a sluggish ruggish ’90s ambient appeal one can imagine soundtracking a thousand dawns this summer and beyond...
Reissue of a highly sought-after, early ‘90s Japanese house gem on Studio Mule’s impeccable domestic series
First dished up in 1991, this is one of two unique 12”s cooked up by Hiroshi Matsui, mixing J-pop melodies and arrangement quirks with proper, full-bodied acid house workouts.
A-side this results the piano house pep of ‘Samba De’ and the almighty, swinging acid lines of ‘Crazy Dub’, and the B-side puts it somewhere deeper with Chez Damier-style chords and saucy bass swivel of ‘Woo-ah The World’, and the new jack swing playfulness of ‘So Happy!’.
"The best ambient album i've heard in an ice age, an album of terrifying, desolate and all-enveloping beauty" David Stubbs, Melody Maker, 1997
Biosphere's 'Substrata' is a rarely topped pinnacle of the '90s ambient canon. On its 18th birthday, the album's producer Geir Jenssen's Biophon label treats it to a subtle facelift at Pole's mastering desk, reanimating the still-mindblowing likes of 'Sphere Of No-Form' in all their captivating and frost-bitten wonder.
As far as end-of-the-world isolationist music and sound design goes, this album remains one of the most affective we've ever heard. Essential listening for fans of the cold, life-affirming music of Thomas Köner, Mika Vainio, or Deathprod.
Max Richter is at his brooding, majestic best on the soundtrack to ‘Never Look Away’, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Academy Award-nominated 2018 German drama film
Now firmly established as a go-to guy for films in need of sensitive soundtracks, Richter here follows his work for period dramas and TV series with a theme closer to the German side of his dual German/British heritage, which he capably and carefully handles with signature class.
Solomun and Moodymann exchange chops of Noir & Haze’s woozy 2011 tech-house strutter
Solomun’s tweaky vocal version circles the front, before Moodymann makes his b/s more palatable on the B-side edit with bags of Detroit suss, and Chicken Lips join the party with the ruddy, dubbed-out electro-disko of ‘He Not In’.
Debut volley of breaks by Data Room, backed with tight jump-up remix by none other than Jumping Jack Frost
Data Room’s original ‘Laugh Track’ stretches out full breaks in clean, spacious atmospheres, whereas rave legend Jumpin Jack Frost accelerates those particles into a cool, rolling jungle chassis, and Data Room round up with two floaty breaks/techno hybrids.
‘bblisss’ comp contributor Ulla Straus diffuses herself into the sublime, gauzy ambience of ‘Big Room’ for Quiet Time Tapes
Arriving in the glistening wake of instalments by Kareem Lotfy, Debit, and peer Huerco S, ‘Big Room’ is Ulla’s definitive statement to date, convicting a sublime soul through 8 gaseous, harmonised dimensions with sweet highlights in the milky flow of ‘Sister’, and the vertiginous scale of ‘Net’.
Half a decade since the DMT-inspired ‘You’re Dead’ LP, Flying Lotus is cooking on gas with ‘Flamagra’, another concept-driven spectacular, this time featuring notable guest turns from Solange and David Lynch, among many, many more.
At 27 tracks wide and 67 minutes it’s a heavy serving by modern measures, likely inspired by the arms-race for epics established by Kamasi Washington, and like Kamasi, Flying Lotus favours a rich and densely woven blend of classic soul, jazz and P-funk flecked with the kinda jazzy IDM turns-of-phrase you might expect from Squarepusher, and the sorta wonky hip hop that was big 10 years ago.
'In Demons In!’ offers a transfixing peek behind the curtain of pure black hole drone dynamics by visionary collaborators Jim O’Rourke & CM Von Hausswolff, meeting on common ground after 26 years of international correspondence. It amounts to a vitally definitive entry in both artists’ catalogues, marking right up there with the most engrossing wonders of O’Rourke’s Steamroom volumes, while manifesting some of the most fascinating results from Von Hausswolff’s ongoing investigations into drone music’s paranormal properties. In other words: it’s Grade A+ zoner music, essential listening for followers of Roland Kayn, Jaap Vink, Deathprod.
Initiated in Tokyo 2016 and completed over the proceeding two years in Japan and Sweden, the uncompromisingly adventurous results are galactic in scope and visceral in presence, conjuring scales of abyssal bass and diffused, atomised, abstract dark matter that make the listener feel like a speck of stardust floating in infinity.
Using sound as a magickal tool for psychic transport and to finely model notions of the metaphysical that typically elude human comprehension, these two extended pieces feel to collapse billions of years into a glacial moment. Location recordings made in Kathmandu lend a barely-there iridescence, like microbial filaments flickering in the endless darkness, to their plunging, subharmonic basses and vaporised mid-upper registers, where spectral forces comb thru the piece to very gradually alter the weightless keen of our perception.
It’s a masterclass in Cybernetic drone, a universe of sound created in a closed system gradually shifting within its own parameters, mutating into infinity.
Abyss X follows a notable turn for Halcyon Veil with her steeply enigmatic début of mystic composition for Aïsha Devi’s Danse Noire
“Taking its title from a Minoan legend that deals with rage, greed and destruction, the latest release from Abyss X expands and reconstructs conceptions of aural space and time. Out on Danse Noire, Pleasures of the Bull finds the multi-disciplinary artist and producer flirting with the sounds of hard jazz while mystifying the parameters of experimental music across several distinct movements, thus allowing the listener to break free from their sonic principles.
Intoxicating, ambient textures mesh with Abyss X’s own expressive vocals, as well as the sounds of the traditional Cretan lyra, played by Maria Skoula. Her sound modification creates a collage of temporalities – allow yourself to move outside linear dimensions, and her to confide in you. Prog rock guitar lines twist stolidly beneath warped vocal samples, and the timbre of the bowed lyra permeates the atmosphere in a thick, suffocating haze.
As the listener travels through space and time, so too does the artist. Abyss X delves into the fullness of her craft, drawing from her background in theater and performance, in addition to the frenzied energy of her live shows as a musician. The music throbs with a frantic yet unmistakably deliberate drama. Pleasures of the Bull feels like a gentle punch in the gut; a compelling auditory performance and a bold exploration of the narrative album format.”
Adroit sound designer/producer J.G. Biberkopf makes a fine addition to Aïsha Devi and co’s Danse Noire label with Fountain Of Meaning, offering a far more mannered and dreamlike follow-up to the deadly fwd cyber-punk-techno of his two LPs for Kuedo’s Knives. Make sure to check ‘Dance of Relating’!
“Fountain of Meaning is a new sonic fiction from sound artist J.G. Biberkopf following last year’s Ecologies II: Ecosystems of Excess released on Knives. Emerging out of a situation of overflow, the record burrows deeper into his practice of palpable audio theater with a study of object and relations across space-time specific sounds.
The Fountain as a theme reflects a spouting and spilling of information, an erotic gushing of imagined aural history. “The Fountain was the source of water in the public space in cities,” J.G. Biberkopf explains. “Now it’s pretty much a sexualised architectural gesture of both beautification and the spectacle of dominant ideologies.”
The western classical musical canon, much like the perpetual coming of the fountain, flush the headphone space with stimuli. Reflex and memory guides the listener through a semiotic architecture of processed recordings of masses in Catholic churches and contemporary performances of pre-medieval music. A liquidity of structure has an anxious influence and is a closed system approach to form and imagination. When water flows, it fills every space, then spills over to claim more. History is equally abundant and alive. We have never had as much history as we have now. We have never been able to see ourselves as we can now.
A knowledge of a grander architecture of knowing and recalling oppress the ecologies of human decision-making.The nature of the archive has transformed into a total and panoptic intelligence. A life is a gamble as the inventory of the world overflows into the production of a spectral third, an other, a confrontation. Fountain of Meaning offers a dynamic tension and release. A molecular tragedy, our abject recovery into a collaborative reimagining of a trauma long forgotten. “
Berlin’s Réelle commits their first physical album to Aïsha Devi’s Danse Noire, offering claustrophobia-inducing insight to states of schizophrenia thru a palette of tense, explosive percussion, astringent electronics and unsettling vocal processes
“Following their debut release with Danse Noire Réelle releases their second album entitled Ghamccccxc vRR, expanding upon the painterly melodies and ornamental sound design of Kissing Myself. Rather than focusing upon deep psychological aspects of schizophrenia, Ghamccccxc vRR explores key moments before and during Réelle’s first schizophrenic psychosis as well as the lateral state of mind caused by this condition.
“Schizophrenia is said to limit a person’s abilities overall. My discovery was that it opened a gate to limbic realms not accessible under normal circumstances – at least not to me.”
The Cuban – German artist’s approach to schizophrenia as xenopraxis leads them to explore avant garde methods to composition, such as focusing on a key technique within their work of painting melodies via Image Synthesis, rather than inputting binary values or manipulating sound through skeuomorphic methods such as knobs and sliders. The painted melodies also featured in the gorgeous “Floating” and “All I Have Left” evoke alien soliloquies through damaged soundscapes.
“Most of these sounds, as well as the album title, were created during psychosis without me consciously knowing what I’m doing. Therefore I also can’t remember when or why I wrote down Ghamccccxc vRR on a piece of paper.”
Ghamccccxc vRR questions how one navigates with authorship within and beyond one’s control. Gargling textures and vocal artefacts oscillate between the erotic and the eerie (“Hybris,” “Fluid Metals”). Between Kissing Myself and Ghamccccxc vRR Réelle dissolves the real and illusion, reassembling their relationship between body and mind.”
Danse Noire introduce Portugal’s Random Gods with a debut EP imagining “a post-apocalyptic future without the internet, where information is being gathered, and regathered, through fragmented data.”
Through three original projections and a crankier, schizoid Vaghe Stelle remix, that world takes shape as a series of amorphous techno rituals encompassing blunted traces of worldly rhythm and iridescent tonal scales, melting from the layered groove and swirling ambience of Malsano into a quagmire of molten bass and beatdown groove emitting choral electro-acoustic fumes with Jabuka, and a toiling, miasmic piece of dread dubstep and folk melody recalling Gantz productions in Milito.
That last piece is given to Vaghe Stelle for remix, returning as a labyrinthine arrangement of triplet techno, hiccuping synth voices and knackered drill trills anchored in head-swallowing darkside bass.
Boxed and Gobstopper don Mr. Mitch does his blue thing in two technoid rollers
In ‘Need More Fashion Friends’ his synths exasperatedly sigh at the state of shrill, posh twunts in the club while he dances and they check their phones and all wear the same fucking puffa jacket and big daft creps. ’Shirley Temple’ follows with a darker, more intense groove leavened by Mitch’s signature, wistful grime melodies.
Mad Decent’s “baby cuzzin”, Good Enuff, turn out cumbia/reggaeton/tarraxho/kuduro compatible pressure from Cuyo. Think this is what they used to call moombahton?
We advise heading straight to the warped slosh of their title cut, then the rapido remix of ‘Amazon’ by DJ NJ Drone for the strongest highlights.
Mutant electro-acid-tribal-breaks from Sophie Sweetland (D. Tiffany, DJ Zozi) in Ambien Baby mode alongside Dan Rincon aka Nap for her Planet Euphorique label.
Extending Sophie’s prolific run of the last 12 months into ruggeder zones of the ‘floor, opener ’El Kesh’ nods to Adrian Sherwood and co as much as Shackleton in a sidewinding transition from grubbing percussion to tart trance lines and gully UK bass, whereas ‘Manimoto’ clocks an early ‘90s sort of goa trance compatible with PWOG and CultureClash, ’Stab Me’ runs a sort of vine-swanging, ruddy acid electro agility, and ‘Sacrifico’ checks out with a kinkier electro swerve recalling J Saul Kane productions.
Tint is an intently focussed showcase of the sound sensitivities which have made Joe Talia a cult figure in contemporary electro-acoustic and avant garde circles. If you’ve ever been caught by the work of Oren Ambarchi, Jim O’Rourke, Andrew Chalk, John Duncan or Jean-Claude Éloy, you need to clasp ears on this album!
“Tint is the first new solo recording from Joe Talia in over a decade. Australian-born but now based in Tokyo, Talia is known to many listeners as a drummer (frequently collaborating both live and in the studio with artists such as Oren Ambarchi and Jim O’Rourke) and as a recording and mixing engineer responsible for dozens of releases across the fields of contemporary experimental music, wayward pop, and jazz. Alongside James Rushford, he is also responsible for one of the most legendary releases in the Kye records catalogue, the creaking electronic morass of Manhunter (2013). Lovingly crafted over many months in his tiny Tokyo studio, Tint is an album-length electroacoustic suite that brings together Talia’s expertise as percussionist, studio engineer, and performer on analogue electronic instruments (primarily modular synth and Revox tape machine).
Ranging from minimalist austerity to kosmische lushness, Tint refreshingly refuses the dark and moody sonic palette of much contemporary electroacoustic music in favour of an airy, at times almost weightless sound-world of gliding tones, skittering percussion, and burbling field recordings. Drawing inspiration from Jean-Claude Eloy’s epic concrète love letter to Tokyo, Gaku-No-Michi, Talia makes extensive use of his own recordings of his new home, but removes any sense of audio verite, abstracting them into transparent glosses of outdoor ambience or unidentifiable chimes and creaks. Flowing seamlessly between distinct episodes, Tint is compositionally controlled while retaining a sense of played spontaneity, eventually building to a maelstrom of analogue synth zaps and tape manipulated percussion that reflects Talia’s deep engagement with the relentless yet constantly shifting dynamics of free jazz.”
‘Songs Without Throats’ is a large dose of zany brilliance from Paul DeMarinis - a Robert Ashley collaborator and member of The League of Automatic Composers - featuring work exclusively selected and compiled for Oren Ambarchi’s leading edge label, Black Truffle
Paul DeMarinis is a graduate of the famous Mills College, where he studied composition with Robert Ashley and Terry Riley, leading to his formative role in the world’s first computer “band” - The League of Automatic Composers with David Behrman and co - and his credit playing Moog on Ashley’s legendary album, ‘In Sara, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven There Were Men and Women.” Those credits aside, DeMarinis is also a wildly creative composer in his own right, with a body of work that probes perceptive schisms between natural and synthesised sounds in the most playful, beguiling manner.
Drawn from material found on compilations, together with stacks of work previously unheard in any form, ‘Songs Without Throats’ is a very necessary introduction to DeMarinis’ charming soundworld. Focussing on his output between the late ‘70s and 1995, it presents a hugely playful demonstration of digitally manipulated speech sounds, simulated pastoralism, and clinically sharp tones all threaded together with a mean sense of humour and adventurousness to provide a first time peek behind the curtain of his studio in the ‘80s.
Much of the work was produced off-the-cuff in the process of developing structures that began in live rehearsals. As such they’re relatively stripped down and shy of FX, yet they remain fascinating on merit of DeMarinis’ nascent naivety and explorative nature, abundant with the type of sounds that make your ear crease and pucker: from the way he turns a rare 78rpm sample of Stalin into birdsong using the formants of his voice; to the speak ’n spell froth of his catalogue highlight ‘Kokole’ ’ to his canny balance of natural and synthetic speech with longterm collaborator Anne Klingensmith; and his dotty, proto-chiptune, dance-pop rhythms in the likes of ‘R4T’, ‘Eenie Meanie Chillie Beanie’, and ‘Yellow Yankee.’
Fascinating turn of incredible, private electro-acoustic designs by Italy’s Massimo Toniutti - brother of Giancarlo, of ‘Broken Flag’ LP fame - originally self-released in 1991 and now sniffed out, expanded with a bonus album’s worth of gear, and reissued by Oren Ambarchi’s faultless Black Truffle. To our ears, this little known masterpiece bridges a gap between Gruppo and Giuseppe Ielasi, rendering freely disciplined and brilliantly unpredictable arrangements of detailed field recordings and mechanical sounds that happen and unfold with a naturalistic quality that’s totally key to its immersive allure. Big RIYL Nurse With Wound, Roland Kayn, Giuseppe Ielasi, Gruppo D’improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza.
"Massimo Toniutti was active in the vibrant underground industrial/noise scene of the 1980s, contributing to releases on legendary labels such as Broken Flag and RRR and self-releasing a series of cassettes between 1984 and 1988. Existing in a private world apart from the noise and dark industrial tropes of many of his contemporaries, Toniutti’s Il Museo Selvatico is an entirely singular work of domestic electro-acoustic exploration. Made up primarily of what Toniutti calls “small and rare noises” or sonic “knick-knacks” recorded between 1987 and 1990, the five pieces that make up the original LP usher us into a crepuscular space populated by mysterious traces of everyday life.
Toniutti weaves a loose net of distant clanks, dull thuds, metallic resonance, and skittering percussive sounds, allowing the sounds to breathe against a backdrop of near-silent atmosphere. Although the haunted ambience recalls the work of contemporaries like Organum, Toniutti generally steers clear of long tones and drones, preferring to arrange brief, sometimes staccato sonic objects into patterns of repeating figures and isolated events whose overall compositional shape remains somehow ungraspable. Although glimpses of recognizable location recordings and instrumental sounds can occasionally be made out, for most of the record the sources of the sounds you hear remain teasingly mysterious, an abstracted memory of everyday actions and atmospheres.
Il Museo Selvatico is accompanied here by an additional LP of material recorded at the same time, arranged especially for this reissue into two side-long suites that inhabit the same haunted space as the original LP while occasionally making use of more maximal compositional strategies. Essential listening for fans of Organum, Nurse With Wound, Christoph Heemann, and the tradition of outsider musique concrete.”
Round 5 of the fearsome trio’s massed gatherings in Japan is also one of their most diverse. The passages of Haino on bulgari are spellbinding, recalling Jozef Van Wissem or a more gothic Dariush Dolat Shahi
“The remarkable series of releases from the trio of Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke, and Oren Ambarchi continues with I wonder if you noticed "I'm sorry" Is such a lovely sound It keeps things from getting worse, which presents the entirety of an 80-minute set performed at Tokyo's SuperDeluxe in March 2014. While the trio's 2012 performance was divided into two releases (BT 011LP (2014) and BT 012LP (2015)), the single extended performance presented here ranges widely over terrain both new and familiar, from acoustic strings and collective chants to thunderous power trio moves. Throughout all of its transformations, the music here is some of the riskiest and most abstract the trio have yet committed to record. Beginning with chiming percussion reminiscent of Haino's 1995 classic Tenshi No Gijinka, the first side is dominated by Haino's impassioned vocals and performance on the bulgari, a traditional Turkish string instrument.
The end of the second side presents a special treat: Haino's first recorded outing on the contrabass harmonica, from which he coaxes bizarre, wheezing textures against a backdrop of spacious bass and percussion. O'Rourke and Ambarchi rarely adopt here the classic rock roles essayed on earlier releases. O'Rourke's bass, which takes center-stage surprisingly often, is sometimes so heavily processed by his array of pedals that it becomes a shifting electronic mass; at other times his roving chromaticism suggests a sort of fuzzed-out free jazz. Ambarchi spends much of the set exploring areas of tumbling free pulse; and even when he locks into a constantly repeated figure on the set's third side, he gestures as much toward Ronald Shannon Jackson's stuttering marching band funk as toward any classic rock moves. When the trio finally moves in the final quarter of the performance into an extended passage of rock riffing, the payoff is immense, as they craft a thudding one-chord epic reminiscent of some of the early Fushitsusha classics before Haino returns to the bulgari, bringing the set back to where it began. Continuing to explore new instrumental and dynamic possibilities while remaining grounded in the trio's previous work, this set also brings with it a unique pleasure for the non-Japonophone listener: for the first time Haino sings many of his metaphysically brooding lyrics in English.”
Ryuichi Sakamoto expands on ‘Async’ album track ‘FF’ , along with a brand new piece ‘School in Paris’ on this audiophile quality 12”, cut at 45rpm for optimal sound representation (and time-slowing 33rpm options)
Picking up where the tremulous hyaline harmonics of ‘FF’ left off, ‘FF2’ coaxes trembling timbres from woodwind and synths into an intoxicating high register drift recalling shadowy moments of ‘SAW II’ or even the ghostly melancholy of David Lynch’s Eraserhead score.
‘School in Paris’, is, as you may infer from the title, a field recording of kids at play, albeit processed to lend a starkly detached quality, as though the kids are off out of sight somewhere while Sakamoto performs alchemical experiments or bumps into things in his kitchen and a synth piece plays from another room.
Foundational, 1989 UK house pressure from Tony Thorpe’s Warriors Dance posse, reissued 30 years later for the good of the dance
Leading on from the equally crucial reissue of No Smoke’s ‘International Smoke Signal’ LP compilation, ‘The Tuffest of the Tuff’ leans back to 1989 and a time when UK soundsystem culture was splicing dub dynamics with soulful deep house, rugged breaks and acid, birthing a uniquely mutant sound that laid the roots for hardcore rave and jungle.
The 8 tracks of ‘The Tuffest of the Tuff’ are kicking testament to the irrevocable Afro-Caribbean influence on British dance music and popular culture since the 2nd half of the 20th C. From the effortless, swinging soul flow of ‘Africa’, starring ace vox by Sharon Hammend & Allison Gray, thru to Addis Posse’s acid breakbeat rave killer ‘Let The Warriors Dance’, to the New Beat-compatible electro of ‘Je T’Aime’ by Housemaids, in their subbass-heavy spin on Larry Heard-like Chi-house in James Harris’ ‘Tuffest of the Tuff’, and the beautifully prescient vision of new age flutes, vocals and rolling lushness in Watts Noize’s ‘It’s My Life (Dub Mix)’ classic, this is pretty unmissable gear for anyone tracing the Afro-futurist roots of UK rave and techno beyond Warp and back to source.
'Lonely At The Top' is a suitably bleary-eyed awakening, feeling as if it's attempting to comprehend the rapid glut of information in the waking world, and failing to do so - opting for a massive spliff instead and allowing it all to smudge in by osmosis.
Ok, so in the intervening years Lukid did usher out two singular 12"s of deconstructed House and Techno on his Glum label, both marking a distinct shift from his previous productions and which, in turn, clearly inform the deceptively freeform feel of this LP. And we say "deceptively" because there's a genuinely crafty pair of hands pulling the strings behind the abstract, distorted daubs of soundcolour and rhythmelody.
But, like Actress's 'R.I.P', what separates this from becoming a mush of avant-garde texture and timbre experimentation is the instinctive and coherent sense of narration to 'Lonely At The Top', one which expands and contracts between dusted blobs of haunted swagger like 'Manchester' and the heat-sick title track through to 'Southpaw''s rugged bounce or the compelling emotion of 'USSR' via poignant vignettes like his OPN-esque 'The Life Of The Mind' or the achingly cute 'Snow Theme'. Easily Lukid's finest work to date and a strong counterpoint to the overly-emosh post-whatever albums doing the rounds at the moment.
Unmissable reissue of Joey Beltram’s darkside NYC electro/techno peach as Open Mind!
Originally dished up in 1990, right at the midst of a flux between Detroit techno, NYC electro, Belgian New Beat and UK hardcore, ‘The Trance’ distilled all the above into a super rugged, haunting, perpetual grooves that still kills it 30 years later.
The titular cut swaggers across the A-side making class use of a drums from Reese’s ‘Grab The Beat’, while ‘Trance Machine’ locks to a more direct jack attack with strong nods to Reese’s ‘Rock To The Beat’ synths, and ‘Body Force’ brings the cold rush with nagging choral voices and ruff-cut breaks in a classic 1990 blueprint.
Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke and Oren Ambarchi present their 5th annual collaboration, as always recorded at SuperDeluxe, Tokyo.
While the previous session was a proper face melter, this one, made in March 2013, is a far more subtle and diverse session. It starts up with a beautifully delicate duet between Keiji's vocals and Finnish Kantele and O'Rourke's lyrical 12-string haunted by Ambarchi's wine glass tones (rubbing not drinking), before letting Jim take the lead with nimbly fluid improvisation and scaling up into twsted electronic noise and globular subbass pulses by the mid-way point.
The three climax naturally as the noise energy dissipates to leave them seemingly enervated, Haino's post-tristesse wail cutting through the room like a wounded animal and baiting a 2nd wind of modular freakery and tribal ecstasies.
Synth se’er Steve Moore presents his first non-soundtrack work since 2013 with the cosmically scoped ‘Beloved Exile’ - a must check for fans of Abul Mogard and Pye Corner Audio...
"Beloved Exile is the new studio full-length by Steve Moore, his first non-soundtrack album in over five years, and his first for Temporary Residence Ltd. A prevalent figure of the modern synth era, Moore cofounded the influential synth- prog duo, Zombi, and has scored more than a dozen feature films and TV shows, including The Guest, Crunch Time, and Mayhem.
Composed and produced by Steve Moore in his home studio in upstate New York, Beloved Exile is a collaboration with internationally-renowned Tunisian singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi, visionary harpist Mary Lattimore, and veteran percussionist Jeff Gretz. Drawing influences from vintage ambient synth libraries, New Age/spiritual music, and menacing horror film canon, Beloved Exile proves to be simultaneously exquisite and deceptively unsettling. It is appropriate, then, that a literary treasure like John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats), would provide the song and album titles – his masterful mind most fitting to put moniker to this mercurial triumph.”
Nyege Nyege Tapes deliver an unmissable volley of hyper-fast, breathless Singeli from Tanzania, this time the vinyl debut of Duke showcasing the sound of Pamoja Records, following multiple zingers from the scene’s core Sisso Studios.
Yet again making practically all other dance music seem pedestrian and tepid by contrast, Duke’s take on Dar Es Salaam’s Singeli style is ruthlessly fast and rugged, crammed with colourful samples and, quite crucially, loaded with a pair of blistering vocal tracks starring MCZO & Don Tach, and Dogo Lizzi, respectively.
In ‘Uingizaji Hewa’ the tempos thrillingly tilt over the 200bpm mark, but they’re held in check with a clutch of slower instrumentals written in Duke’s newer Hip Hop Singeli style. When he goes fast, dancers will know about it in the likes of ’Naona Laaah’ featuring machine gun rapid rhythms somehow matched for pace by MCZO & Don Tach, and again in the pedal-to-the-meckle recklessness of ‘M Lap’ starring Dogo Lizzi switching up from dancehall bark to fasssst-chat styles that put Daddy Freddy to bed.
But those hi-NRG bombs are only half the story. The rest of the LP shows off Duke’s wicked way with a hook and the diversity of his drum programming in highlights ranging from the PC Music-compatible bounce of ‘Sing4444444’, to the cascading chromatic licks and slow/fast suss of ‘Duke 4’, the joyful dervish of ‘Duke Bit Puyo’, and two dizzying pieces with spiralling, Bollywood-style vocal samples that close the record with a blinding flourish.
Amsterdam’s Japanese label, Sound of Vast mark 5 Years up in it with the first in a series of anniversary 12”s
Cosmic TRG renames himself Com Sin for the sub-heavy, crystalline techno minimalism of ‘Glass Harp ‘; The People In Fog slip on the offbeat with he sloshing groove and palatial dimensions of ‘Chapter Zero’; and Yard One roll out the filigree Japanese deep house of ‘Dream Travel.’