Rarely has an album owed so much to production... Low return with their most daring, experimental release in years, co-produced by James Blake's man at the controls B.J. Burton, at times verging on a layered, pulsing electronic sound you'd associate with the likes of Andy Stott. Doused in distortion, throbbing electronics, submerged vocals, side-chain effects - this could easily have been a nauseating exercise in modernisation; but instead the strength of the songwriting shines through for one of Low's best = a standout full-length for 2018.
"In 2018, Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.
This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fightsfor the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?"
Sarah Davachi serves her 2nd album of 2018 with ‘Gave In Rest’, offering a studio developed follow-up to her mesmerising album ‘Let Night Come On Bells End The Day’, which has quietly dominated our listening lives for months already...
As her beatific blends of early church, medieval and Renaissance musics have patiently and patently revealed over the past five years, Sarah’s works for piano, organ, synth, and woodwind demonstrate a unique gift for extracting and reworking the most affective spirits of church music to a secular appeal, effectively voicing a sort of metaphysical minimalism that could be explained as a result of deeply focused technique, but is perhaps better regarded as a timeless form of sonic alchemy.
Where her previous records were documents of a shorter time spent with her instruments, Sarah dedicated herself on ‘Gave In Rest’, spending a summer giving deeper consideration to how Renaissance musicians experimented with new instruments, forms and texture, and “how the quietude… and the openness of physical space, the stillness of altars“ in churches would have affected how they wrote. Subsequently recording with Howard Bilerman at Montreal’s hotel2tango (home of myriad, seminal Constellation recordings), Sarah brought those instrumental ideas to life with the modern addition of tape delays and chorusing effects to infuse and render shimmering new layers of timbral depth to her plaintive melodic gestures, and with a subtle yet unmistakably visceral impact.
In album opener ‘Auster’ she uses tape to slow down a recorder and open up its vibrating innards, revealing a tremulous, transfixing soul in the most humble of instruments, while the LP’s closer ‘Waking’ finds her locating elusive echoes of Baroque harmonies in that most soulful machine, beautifully realigning its putative purpose. In between, her tracks’ moods and titles chart a slow passing of day and night, from he ghostly elegance of ‘Third Hour’ to her sylvan ‘Evensong’, thru to the stately yet lip-wobbling beauty of ‘Matins’ at the album’s core, and perhaps best of all in the achingly evocative coruscation of ‘Gloaming’, a song we already know we’ll be returning to for many, many years to come.
The loaded, polysemous word ‘soul’ springs to mind, on the one hand connoting lofty notions of transcendence, contemplation and reverence, while on the other also helping to define a gentle, slow-burning modesty and broad appeal to practically anybody with ears and a functioning sense of empathy. But most of all, ‘Gave In Rest’ will strike a chord with anyone who listens properly and attentively. To use another loaded phrase, the devil is beautifully apparent in its gilded detail.
Capital Punishment’s 1982 sole LP Roadkill, reissues. For a band of high school weirdos who actually got their shit together enough to make a completely uncommercial album with no means to sell it shows a lot of determination, persistence and perhaps insanity. But it’s always those kinds of weirdos who go on to do great things – just ask Judge Peter Swann, Professor Peter Zusi, Kriss Roebling and Ben Stiller...
"If I were to tell you that a band of NYC teenagers who met in 1979 decided to form a band influenced by Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, Eno, Chrome and released a privately pressed record, it would be enough to pique your interest. When you find out the band consisted of a future Supreme Court Justice for Arizona, a Professor of Slavic Studies, a Musician/Documentarian whose family built the Brooklyn Bridge, and an A-list world-famous actor the story goes from being about another rare, privately pressed recording that’s been re-discovered, into something that’s pretty incredible."
This triple LP reissue of the band’s first two albums - the first installment in a three-part series dedicated to Dur-Dur Band - represents the first fruit of Analog Africa’s long labours to bring this extraordinary music to the wider world...
"Some thirty years after they first made such a splash in the Mogadishu scene, they have been freed from the wobble and tape-hiss of second and third generation cassette dubs, to reveal a glorious mix of polychromatic organs, nightclub-ready rhythms and hauntingly soulful vocals. In addition to two previously unreleased tracks, the music is accompanied by extensive liner notes, featuring interviews with original band members, documenting a forgotten chapter of Somalia’s cultural history.
Before the upheaval in the 1990s that turned Somalia into a war-zone, Mogadishu, the white pearl of the Indian Ocean, had been one of the jewels of eastern Africa, a modern paradise of culture and commerce. In the music of the Dur-Dur band - now widely navailable outside of Somalia - we can still catch a fleeting glimpse of that golden age. When Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb arrived in Mogadishu in November of 2016, he was informed by his host that he would have to be accompanied at all times by an armed escort while in the country.
The next morning, a neighbour and former security guard put on a military uniform, borrowed an AK-47 from somewhere and escorted him to Via Roma, an historical street in the heart of Hamar-Weyne, the city’s oldest district. Although previous Analog Africa releases have demonstrated a willingness to go more than the extra air-mile to track down the stories behind the music, the trip to Mogadishu was a musical journey of a different kind. It was the culmination of an odyssey that had started many years earlier. In 2007 John Beadle, a Milwaukee-based musicologist and owner of the much loved Likembe blog, uploaded a cassette he had been handed twenty years earlier by a Somalian student.
The post was titled ‘Mystery Somali Funk’ and it was, in Samy’s own words, “some of the deepest funk ever recorded.” The cassette seemed to credit these dense, sonorous tunes to the legendary Iftin Band. But initial contact with Iftin’s lead singer suggested that the ‘mystery funk’ may have actually been the work of their chief rival, Dur-Dur, a young band from the 80s. Back then, Mogadishu had been a very different place. On the bustling Via Roma, people from all corners of society would gather at the Bar Novecento and Cafe Cappucino, watch movies at the famous Supercinema, and eat at the numerous pasta hang-outs or the traditional restaurants that served Bariis Maraq, a somali Beef Stew mixed with delicious spiced rice. The same street was also home to Iftinphone and Shankarphone, two of the city’s best known music shop. Located opposite each other, they were the centre of Somalia’s burgeoning cassette distribution network. Both shops, run by members of the legendary Iftin Band, would become first-hand witnesses to the meteoric rise of Dur- Dur, a rise that climaxed in April of 1987 with the release of Volume 2, their second album."
Sleaford Mods' first new music since last year’s ‘English Tapas’ album.
"The mini album was recorded in Spring 2018 in Nottingham and features five new tracks including lead track ‘Stick In A Five And Go’. Jason Williamson says about the new songs: “The lead tracks are mostly full of violent tendencies that only transpire through imagination. People are powerless under the political monster and the intense anger and frustration morphs into illusions of attacking each other through the bravado of social media, depression and paranoia.”
Hinosch is a probing, minimalist collaboration between Koshiro Hino ov the amazing Goat group and YPY project, with Düsseldorf’s Stefan Schneider. Mazy rhythms and electronic chicanery in very curious and nimble effect...
“They first met and began their collaborative work of musical interaction and exploring contrasting possibilities in 2017. After a number of concerts in the EU and in Japan, they released their self-titled debut EP (TAL 005EP, 2017). Fully instrumental, their first full-length album Hands offers a more steeply focused approach than its largely improvised predecessor. Encouraged by the momentum generated during a number of on-the-spot recordings in Osaka, where Schneider had held a residency in April 2017, the overall sound of the album has been honed down through meticulous studio engineering.
One of the outstanding qualities of Hands certainly is an unprejudiced approach of sound and song structures. The instrumentation is confidently reduced to a small range of analog and digital machines. Snatches of tape-loops deliver lower-pitched vocal and drum machine samples. This characteristic technical set up soon proved ideal in order to define a tactile vocabulary of fully unsynchronized rhythm patterns. The word tactile perfectly conjures that quality which is the very essence of Hands. It is the result of the manner in which interdependent threads of rhythm units are deliberately disconnected to form a cohesive, soulful and flexible whole.
Most tracks on Hands are devoid of a central motif and examine an unpredictable dialogue. A fantasy of constant change and a search for musical suggestions is the most vital ingredient in this abstract environment. The album title Hands refers to physical aspects of electronic music production. Every live concert of Hinosch usually starts out with a hand shake between Hino and Schneider. The general process of collective music making, programming, button pushing, playing, recording, decision making, all-demand utmost concentration.
The image on the front of the album sleeve -- designed by Takashi Makabe -- reflects the general approach of Hands: layers of tucked fabrics confronting one another to articulate a form for themselves to no other end than their own orchestration. Koshiro Hino's solo activities as YPY and his involvement with the band Goat have already garnered him a favorable international reception. Stefan Schneider has over the years produced and collaborated with, amongst others, Joachim Roedelius, Arto Lindsay, Klaus Dinger, Dieter Moebius, Alexander Balanescu, John McEntire, Katharina Grosse, Bill Wells, and St.Etienne.
132 Ranks for Pipe Organ was composed by Olivia Block in 2016-2017, as a commission for LAMPO and The Renaissance Society. Block composed the piece specifically for the enormous Skinner Organ at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in Chicago. The world premiere was performed by Block on April 21, 2017. The concert, free and open to all ages, and attracted a large crowd.
"132 Ranks was conceived as a hybrid of concert and sound installation. Six speakers were placed throughout the chapel. These speakers played white noise, sine tones, and prerecorded organ sounds, designed to interact acoustically with the live performance, and bring out the acoustics of the chapel in unconventional ways. White noise and low bass tones pulsed and sliced through the air, while sine tones and organ clusters created complex beating patterns and inner ear sound phenomena.
Audience members were participants, quietly walking through the majestic, dimly lit chapel. Listeners noticed how the acoustics, materials and shape of the space altered the live and recorded organ sounds as Block performed. Some audience members relaxed on the floor of the chapel, listening, while others explored the upper balconies and hallways.
132 Ranks was designed to emphasise the architectural qualities and unique sonic and spatial capacities of the Skinner Organ. The piece included both the lowest pedal notes, felt in the body, as well as the highest bell tones, played at extreme dynamic levels. At times, sounds were isolated in discrete locations to emphasise the chapel’s shape."
‘And Nothing Hurt’ is Spiritualized’s eighth album, the follow up to 2012’s ‘Sweet Heart, Sweet Light’.
"From the opening lullaby of ‘A Perfect Miracle’ through to the fading Morse Code at the close of ‘Sail On Through’, it painstakingly wraps layer upon layer of gloriously transcendent sound together to create a mesmerizing and cinematic collection of songs. There are points - the thunderous climax of ‘On The Sunshine’; the spectral waltz of ‘The Prize’; the towering guitar solo on ‘I’m Your Man’ - where the waves of blissful noise are almost overwhelming, where one can imagine the studio’s speakers vibrating themselves off of the walls. Which is an incredible feat when you discover that the album was conceived and recorded almost entirely by one man - Jason Pierce, AKA J.Spaceman - in an upstairs room in his east London home. Sat in an edit suite in Whitechapel a month or so after finishing recording, Jason talks honestly about the painstaking, frustrating process of creating ‘And Nothing Hurt’: “Making this record on my own sent me more mad than anything I’ve done before. We’d been playing these big shows and I really wanted to capture that sound we were making but, without the funds to do, I had to find a way to work within the constraints of what money I had. So I bought a laptop and made it all in a little room in my house.”
For the listener, the nine tracks on ‘And Nothing Hurt’ effortlessly replicate the scale and power of Spiritualized’s previous releases, whether it’s the sonic blowback of ‘On The Sunshine’, the last dime in the jukebox love letter of ‘Let’s Dance’ or the swell of an imaginary orchestra that seems to lift ‘Damaged’ towards the heavens as it plays out."
Chilly Gonzales kinda puts everything else into perspective with this time-stopping solo piano delicacy. Delivered on his personal imprint, Gentle Threat, this third volume in his much loved Solo pIano series teases out fleeting emotions with each flurry of keys, sure to seduce anyone who’s still smote by the now classic album first volume.
"The album comes six years after Solo Piano II and, according to Gonzales, at “a more problematic inﬂection point”. "Like its predecessors, it’s a mostly happy ending in C major, but there is more dissonance, tension and ambiguity along the way… The musical purity of Solo Piano III is not an antidote for our times, it is a reﬂection of all the beauty and ugliness around us.”
Known as much for the intimate piano touch of best-selling albums Solo Piano I and Solo Piano II as for his showmanship and composition for award-winning stars, "Gonzo", as he is known to close collaborators, aims to be a man of his time, approaching the piano with classical and jazz training but with the attitude of a rapper. He holds the Guinness world record for the longest solo concert at over 27 hours. He performs and writes songs with Jarvis Cocker, Feist and Drake, among others, with recent collaborators including the likes of Ibeyi and Toddla T. With Never Stop, Chilly Gonzales composed a global hit for the inaugural Apple iPad 2 campaign. In 2014 he won a Grammy for his collaboration on Daft Punk’s ‘Best Album of the Year’ and composed the best-selling book of easy piano pieces Re- Introduction Etudes. With his last album Chambers, Chilly Gonzales devoted himself to ﬁnding a modern take on chamber music.
Most recently, Chilly Gonzales ventured into a new form of entrepreneurship. A culmination of recent years’ explorations in teaching, Gonzo inaugurated his very own music school: The Gonzervatory.
During this all-expenses-paid residential music performance workshop held in Paris, 7 selected students explored Musical Humanism, audience psychology and what it means to be a performing musician in 2018. After a week of intensive coaching, masterclasses and rehearsals, these young musicians performed a concert for an audience of 1500 fans with Chilly Gonzales himself as Master of Ceremony."
After announcing he’s winding down from duties in The Orb, Thomas Fehlmann “checks the juice” with a fine, squashed set of ambient-dub-techno jaunts. Make sure to check for the roiling acid-dub flow of ‘Morrislouis’, the way that the bassline on ‘Window’ practically drops out of the speakers, and the spiralling waltz of ‘Freiluft’.
"Establishing a picture of his current artistic condition, as suggested by the title - los lagos / die lage / the situation (literally translating to 'the lakes' but taking the meaning of 'wassup' in the context of a relaxed discussion between friends), the album refers to Fehlmann's "musical motivation, dreams and wishes" through the language of music exclusively: a way to "allow myself to techno" he says, "to techno as a means to deconstruct and rebuild again. Set up an area of tension, loose it in the flow of the grooves. Magnifying some detail out of proportion, regroup around that and slowly knit a texture. Expand."
"It was time to take a bend and head where the sun rises or sets, wherever my heart drives me." This is pretty much the kind of decision Thomas Fehlmann has made. 61 and shining, longstanding member of The Orb, multi-talented composer and boundless experimentalist, had to make in the twilight of his collaboration with Alex Paterson, eager to taste the flavours of the unknown on his own again. "It was the moment when felxibility would have become compromise”. Far from being the demise of their joint dream, this was bound to split it in two distinct, parallel fantasies - rich of their own singularity.
As goes with that essential love of his for the free-flowing nature of electronic music, a fascination born out of its "lack of borders", capable of "inventing, changing the emphasis, experimenting with an unpredictable outcome", 'Los Lagos' "freely connects disparate extremes. Art, disco, minimalism, schmalz, jazz and funk". As he likes to say, Fehlmann's head functions as a sampler, capturing elements and re-assembling them under his own embracing perspective ; not afraid to leap from a deep, dubbed-out hypnotism ('Window', 'Morrislouis', 'Freiluft') to the playfulness of '90s-style bleepy schaffel ('Tempelhof' featuring Max Loderbauer), through out-there, muscle-flexing dancefloor cuts ('Triggerism') onto the calmness of ambient ('Geworden’).
In need to keep his inner balance in check, Fehlmann committed himself to "switch off the control" and follow his intuition, which isn't so much of an easy process as he also wanted to incorporate the side disturbances experienced: "it’s a complex process of search and destroy to bring out a new beauty trying to expand my vocabulary". With 'Los Lagos', Fehlmann looked at finding "the structure that's surprising, disturbing and rewarding". The artwork for the record, courtesy of contemporary artist and friend Albert Oehlen whom he shares lots of artistic ambitions with, echoes the producer's "funky use of shape and space, sludge and clarity" like a second skin. A search for light and harmony that Fehlmann sums up eloquently: "Does your inner musical voice respond?", that is the question. Then "doors open up in unexpected corners, rays of light appear; you follow through and you're in - in your oasis."
Highly impressive new full-length from Ipek Gorgun. Eschewing any notions of easy-to-consume ambient music, Ipek instead orcestrates an ambitious mass of sound indebeted to musique concrète but also taking in field recordings and a documentary style that lends the album its winding narrative structure. If you're into anything from Lenka Clayton’s collage work to Ilhan Mimaroglu’s pioneering electronic works - we wager this one will rule your world.
"Ecce Homo explores the lighter and darker shades of the human psyche, behaviour and existence, and humanity's ability to create beauty and destruction. What lies in the essence of such complexity has become a core idea for the album, while Gorgun seeks to figure out if there is a true meaning to being human, and human being.
Starting with “Neroli” as a human fascination with nature and finalising with “To Cross Great Rivers”; a never ending hopeless dream of the mankind to conquer and control the world, the album reflects the contemplations of a spectator being exposed to the human civilization, and witnessing human activity, including his/her own.
Trying to acquire a glimpse of the multiple layers of such narrative, the sound of the album aims to present a diversity of the sonic spectrum, with tracks varying between ambient and noisy landscapes.”
‘Burn Slow’ is a 10-track album from Chris Liebing with vocal contributions from a diverse range of artists: Miles Cooper Seaton (Akron / Family), Mute labelmate Polly Scattergood (onDeadWaves), Cold Cave, Aleen and, of course, Gary Numan.
"‘Burn Slow’ is a minimalist electronic epic and the start of a new chapter for one of techno’s leading authorities. It might not be what you expect for a DJ synonymous with fast, hard and heavy techno but, according to Chris Liebing, he’s always been something of a slow starter: “I’ve wanted to do something like ‘Burn Slow’ all my life,” he says.
While retaining the framework of the techno beats that Chris Liebing has dedicated his life to for the past 25 years, here he also seeks out new harmonic territories, taking aim at the heart rather than the feet, in order to tackle some deep themes. The key concept of presence - the idea that everything is happening in this moment and that everything in the past is mere memory - form the thematic backbone of the record. It’s something Liebing got in touch with via philosopher Alan Watts, not to mention decades of getting entire dancefloors lost in the present: “If people would stay in the now, everything in the world would just have a bit more harmony,” explains Liebing.
Liebing has teamed up with Ralf Hildenbeutel (a key part of the long since defunct Eye Q family) for ‘Burn Slow’ and it was at his new musical ‘enabler’ Hildenbeutel’s Frankfurt studio that Liebing began drifting into new territory."
Ital Tek re-emerges with ‘Bodied’, his 6th album of sci-fi electronic scaping, with an increasing emphasis on the sci-fi part, and more sparing, spacious use of rhythm. make sure to check for highlights in the escalating energy of ‘Hymnal’, the teetering sound design of ‘Lithic’, and the staggered fulminations of ‘Bodied’
“Ital Tek's 'Bodied' is the follow up to his acclaimed 2016 album 'Hollowed'. Stepping in a different direction from that album, It’s as if Hollowed's detailed world has been fleshed out and filled with the spectre of human voices.
As on his last album, the sounds on 'Bodied' are highly designed, but this time barely a whisper of dance music remains. Instead it's built around acoustic elements and ghostly choral arrangements, refracted and transformed into atmospheric, alien forms which are given the time to settle and transform. Rhythm is used only as a tool to give his world a sense of dark, mechanical momentum.
Alan explains; "After completing 'Hollowed' I had over a year away from writing any of my own material. I was working, composing music for a video game and a number of different projects. I needed to find a way back in and I rediscovered the joy of music being a release as opposed to a job. I was getting up really early and sketching out lots of ideas very fast, squeezing in quick bursts of writing at the beginning or end of long studio day spent working on other musical projects."
"It was important for me to define the world that the album was going to inhabit before taking it any further, so I put a much greater focus into the sound design and palette than I had before. I wanted to make the music sound very physical, geometric, and monolithic, as if it inhabited a physical space."
"On 'Bodied' the music focuses on the interplay between the minuscule and the vast, beauty and brutalism. With this album I was much more concerned with dynamics and the discipline of holding tension; the use of space and silence to provide a counterpoint to the intensity."
"Most importantly, I was keen for there to be a human acoustic foundation, so I did a lot of live recording of cello, violin, harp and guitar - anything I could get my hands on. I was certain that I wanted there to be a greater vocal presence - nothing lyrical or at the forefront but to give it an underlying organic quality - to impart some humanity into the music."
As Ital Tek moves further from his roots, he's creating new sounds and spaces in which his music can exist. It's up to the listener to decide what kind of world 'Bodied' evokes, but it's certainly one that's beautiful and rewarding to spend time in.”
Thomas Ankersmit, last seen on a pair of excellent albums for PAN and Touch (in 2011 and 2014, respectively) pays tribute to legendary Dutch composer / electronic and tape music pioneer Dick Raaijmakers with an extended study in electronic music, utilising Serge Modular feedback and sine/pulse/random generators, contact mic, and tape speed variation to mirror some of Raaijmakers’ deeply weird experiments. As the label so eloquently explain - despite the abstract nature of the material, a sense of loss somehow pervades.
Raaijmakers is a genuinely legendary figure in the history of electronic music, and Thomas Ankersmit’s fitting homage lands almost five years to the date of his passing, aged 83, in September 2013. Replete with experiments with sounds not found in the music, but generated by the listener’s own ear as a strange side-effect, this extended piece re-contextualizes Raaijmakers’ ideas about composition and spatial experience to focus on the sounds of raw electricity through creatively abused electronics, composing with analogue micro-sounds, and the three-dimensional sound fields; referencing storms, thunder, crashing and falling objects, and distant radio transmissions.
The concept of the recording is directly inspired by Raaijmakers’ thoughts on “holophonic” sound fields to be individually explored by the listener. With this phenomenon, the listener’s inner ears actively generate sounds that don’t exist in the recorded signal, and which can change with a small movement of the head. In other words; it’s unlikely that you will experience this piece of music in quite the same way as anyone else, or that you will experience it that way more than once. And it’s perhaps this sense of transience; of not quite knowing whether what you’re listening to has a real, physical presence, or is a direct result of strange otoacoustic phenomena, that imbues this work with such unexplained melancholy.
Listening to music borne out of conceptual curiosity, it's rare to suddenly find yourself staring into space, thinking about time, about the intangible essence of experience and beauty, of life itself. Homage To Dick Raaijmakers is an exceptional recording; approach with patience and care.
Supersilent maestro Arve Henriksen yields a proper release of his haunting suite, ‘The Height of the Reeds’, originally commissioned for a sound walk over the Humber bridge in Hull. In its play of scale, scope, and its balance of quietly fraught tension and epic symphonic gestures, this one is another masterpiece in Arve’s huge oak cabinet...
“"The Height Of The Reeds" started as a commissioned work to the city of Hull, Great Britain´s cultural capital 2017. Composed by Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang, the work celebrates the longstanding seafaring relationship between Hull and Scandinavia. It was originally the musical companion to a sound walk that took place in April, May and June 2017.
Those who took part could listen to the music on headphones while crossing the Humber Bridge. Initially intended for April only, the arrangement proved so popular it ended up with selling out three months, a total of 15.000 tickets. This beautifully evocative music can now be experienced through this release, where only minor adjustments have been done to justify the transition from sound walk to album. It´s an exquisite addition to Arve Henriksen´s large and fast growing discography, and sits perfectly well with his popular Jan Bang contributions "Chiaroscuro" (2004) and "Places Of Worship" (2013).”
Factory Benelux presents a deluxe edition of Without Mercy, the fourth studio album by cult Manchester group The Durutti Column, originally issued in 1984 and widely regarded as Vini Reilly’s most ambitious album.
"In 1983 Durutti Column mentor/manager Tony Wilson asked Vini Reilly to abandon fleeting guitar miniatures in favour of a long-form modern classical piece. The result was an ambitious 20 minute instrumental suite, Without Mercy, performed by core Durutti duo Vini Reilly and Bruce Mitchell along with Blaine L. Reininger and John Metcalfe (violas), Caroline Lavelle (cello), Tim Kellett (trumpet) and Maunagh Fleming (cor anglais).
Explains Vini: “Tony had just come in for a conversation one day and said, ‘Look, you keep making these albums that you want to make, and I’m quite happy with you doing that, but just give me this one album and do it my way.’ He wanted it to have a narrative determined by a Keats poem, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, which he said was the poet’s version of a pop song: boy meets girl, falls in love with girl, loses girl, blah blah blah. It was a very, very Tony way of looking at it. He had aspirations that I should be taken seriously.”
Produced by Reilly and Wilson at Strawberry Studio and Britannia Row, Without Mercy was originally split into 19 separate stanzas, some of which have now been restored using digital cue points on the CD. Bonus tracks include the original recordings of Duet, Estoril a Noite and Favourite Descending Intervals (all re-worked for inclusion on Without Mercy), as well as companion EP Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say, collaborations with John Metcalfe, Steven Brown and Benjamin Lew, and two previously unreleased live sets across Discs 3 and 4, recorded at London School of Economics in December 1984 and Oslo in December 1986."
Ólafur Arnalds' new record 're:member' features Ólafur’s new software, Stratus, which transforms the piano into a "unique new instrument".
"The Stratus Pianos are two self-playing, semi-generative player pianos which are triggered by a central piano played by Ólafur, and are the centrepiece of his new works. The custom-built software is born out of two years of work by the composer and audio developer, Halldór Eldjárn. The algorithms generated from Stratus were also used to create the innovative album artwork. On the album Ólafur uses these methods reinvigorate the compositional experience, feeding back into the creative process in a completely new way.
As Ólafur plays a note on the piano, two different notes are generated by Stratus, creating unexpected harmonies and surprising melodic sequences. Speaking of the album, Ólafur says, “This is my breaking out-of-a-shell album. It’s me taking the raw influences that I have from all these different musical genres and not filtering them. It explores the creative process and how one can manipulate that to get out of the circle of expectations and habit.”
Carsten Nicolai’s Noton present a masterclass in minimalist electronic discipline with Mika Vainio, Ryoji Ikeda + Alva Noto’s powerfully future-proofed Live 2002 performance, recorded at Newcastle’s Baltic arts centre.
The only known recording of the trio, as far as we’re aware, Live 2002 documents three visionary artists in seamless, indivisible collaboration segueing from sublime drone darkness (Movements 1) thru what sounds like a massive computer server centre playing dancehall (Movements 2 + 4), to fiercely dense electro dynamics (Movements 6) and passages of purest, rolling techno pressure (Movements 8), intercut with bodiless, beatless electronic frequency massages.
Being familiar with each artist’s respective, individual catalogues, we’re pretty astonished at the level of democratic control between the three singular producers. While it’s maybe possible (or pedantic) to pick out who’s doing what, and where and when, ultimately the 45 minute performance is a lesson in subtlety and restraint at the service of generating powerful, coolly organised pressure systems, without recourse to convention/cliché (delete as applicable), offering electronic sounds at the purest and perhaps even egoless. Definitely no grandstanding doofus in front of a massive IPhone screen filtering dull as fuck doofs here.
In ‘New Hymn To Freedom’ Luke Abbott, Laurence Pike and Jack Wylie follow their 3rd eye to iridescent uplands of jazz and psychedelic electronics...
“Sometimes in improvised music there can be a distance between listener and players, a sense you’re sitting back and admiring their interplay and abstraction – but with Szun Waves’ second album, you’re right in there with them, inside the playing, experiencing the absolute joy the three musicians feel as they circle around each other, exploring the spaces they’ve opened up.
The three members already have sparkling pedigrees of their own. Norfolk’s Luke Abbott is well known for his explorations of the zones between pure ambience and the leftmost fringes of club culture. With Portico Quartet and Circle Traps, Jack Wyllie has been in the vanguard of UK fusions of jazz, classical and club music. Australian drummer Laurence Pike has likewise found a unique voice in improvised and experimental music-making, whether in the bands Triosk or PVT, or as a solo artist.
The trio’s musical relationship has grown naturally and steadily, and it shows. From Wyllie adding shimmering sustained sax notes to Abbott’s gorgeous ambient pieces in 2013, Szun Waves emerged when Pike was added to the mix, energising the sound but still keeping its levitational qualities. Their 2016 self-released debut album hit a natural groove – it was a “proof of concept” as Abbott says – and now they’re in a place of pure spontaneity: New Hymn To Freedom is a document of six entirely live improvisations – “no edits or overdubs” – and its title couldn’t be more apt.”
Mogwai cast their best middle distance gaze on their soundtrack for Jonathan and Josh Baker’s ‘KIN’, starring Zoë Kravitz, Hames Franco and Dennis Quaid
“Scotland’s Mogwai are not only legendary experimental rock icons, but also well-established soundtrack titans – sound sculptors behind an impressive spectrum of cinematic releases (both full soundtracks and contributions): Including their last film soundtrack, Atomic (2016), there's been consistent acclaim through Michael Mann's Miami Vice (2006), The Fountain (2006, collaborating with Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet), Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2007), Amnesty International's PEACE project (2010), international hit French TV series Les Revenants (2013), and Leonardo DiCaprio's climate change documentary Before The Flood (2016) alongside soundtrack Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
The staggeringly prolific force that is Mogwai return less than a year after their standout new album, Every Country’s Sun, to provide the soundtrack to the anticipated, acclaimed new sci-fi major motion picture, KIN. Like their beloved soundtracks to Atomic and Les Revenants, KIN uses the band’s original score as the genesis and point of departure for an expanded, fully developed album of new songs. KIN is cinematic maximalism and synth-rock minimalism delivered with the signature introspective grace that has defined and refined Mogwai’s decades-long reputation.”
The Great Lake Swallows is a collaboration between Canadian cellist Julia Kent and Belgian guitarist/tape machine manipulator Jean D.L.
"Recorded in Charleroi, Belgium in 2015 during a video installation with Sandrine Verstraete, the music was created using field recordings, processed guitar and cello and serves as a soundtrack to the video of the same name.
The album is an aching, ambient wonderland that ensues beauty at every turn. It was built as a whole and, indeed, should be consumed as a whole. The repetition is hypnotising, a lulling sense of calm entwined in hints of unease that flows seamlessly in and out of sleepy melodies and broken drones. Unfolding over a brief twenty-six minutes, The Great Lake Swallows cannot out-stay its welcome. Everything contained within feels necessary, each movement informing the next, a conversation between two outstanding musicians.”
Hauntingly beautiful nocturnes from Keith Kenniff (Goldmund) in Helios mode. Modest yet rich with moments of heart-rending majesty, ‘Veriditas’ is yet another immaculate late night LP worthy of comparison with Kenniff’s earlier releases for Type.
“On respective edges of America — Oregon and Maine — Keith Kenniff records quiet music at night. “When things are calmer,” he says. “My mind is less distracted when I know that everything is dark outside.” For over a decade, such has been the mode — nocturnal, unrushed, using the same mini-cassette recorder, "a lovely little imperfect way to treat sounds" — for one of the country’s most understated composers. Kenniff has housed dozens of ambient releases under the name Helios since 2004, alongside post-classical output as Goldmund, shoegaze pop with his wife Hollie as Mint Julep, and commissions for film and television. It is a reliably transportive body of work that's earned Kenniff a cult following, and a genuine modesty that’s kept him on the fringes, right where he prefers, in the dark.
Veriditas introduces unusual shapes and landscapes to the Helios catalog. Whereas past songs have followed traditional structures — discernable bell curves with beginnings, arcs, and ends — the focus here is texture and harmony. "I wanted to explore emotionality within something more static." Synth-tones radiate and hum as vignettes, often crisp and cloudless, other times smeared to a queasy Boards of Canada-like unease. The latter burbles below the last moments of "Eventually" and looms over the opener "Seeming" like darkness inching across a forest. Tracks cease at will. "Seeming" fades just after a sliver of light cuts through the mossy pillars. "Latest Lost" mists for just one minute. "Row The Tide" for two, hovering like a helium balloon lost to the horizon. "Even Today" hangs above the snowcaps, suspended in an upper arboreal sequence, as shimmering surges of static trace the treetops below.
Moments on Veriditas pass quickly, but as a series of moments, they are fluid, almost regenerative. Disassembling the album by instruments is difficult. Unlike past Helios work, there is no percussion. The one straightforward use of guitar appears on the ambling "Upward Beside The Gale," strummed solemnly as if over end credits, watching the greenery lapse to grey in the twilight. In the second half of “Dreams,” crystalline piano chords converse with washes of orchestral notes and deep drone, advancing towards temporal clarity, a lookout point, that once presented evaporates.
In a way, Veriditas parallels the path of the Helios project to date: patient, immense, and wondrous without ostentation. Kenniff continues to find a soothing and centering quality in his craft. Aligned with Hildegard von Bingen’s philosophy, Kenniff looks towards sound, like many do to nature, for momentary vigor, for elemental and nourishing prolificacy. Here, in pursuit of viriditas, with precise textures and harmonies, he humbly extends that verdant expression outward, wide and pliable.”
Emmy award-winning composer Michael Price returns with Tender Symmetry, his second album with Erased Tapes.
"The ambitious musical project takes in a series of iconic National Trust locations across England as its inspiration, turning them into unlikely recording spaces. Michael and a host of musicians and collaborators — including soprano Grace Davidson (featured on Max Richter’s Sleep) and Shards (the choir on Nils Frahm’s All Melody) — travelled across the country in pursuit of places far removed from the traditional recording studio to create seven unique and moving pieces, straddling the past and the future.
The diversity of Michael Price’s choices ranges from the ruins of Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire to the Fan Bay WWII shelter, cut deep into the chalk cliffs of Dover. All owned by the National Trust save one, each venue became both the inspiration and the recording studio for Michael Price and his accompaniment of renowned musical ensembles, choirs and soloists.
"For Tender Symmetry, I stopped admiring and started participating in these buildings. This began as an exploration of writing and recording out in the world beyond the studio. I am interested in where we build our homes in an increasingly virtual world and the spirit of place we feel as we walk our local streets, our schools, temples and public spaces. Taking inspiration from a place, and the stories it told, then going back to that place to record, sometimes in less than ideal conditions, made the two-year adventure much more like shooting a film than making a record.” — Michael Price
Acoustics varied wildly as the artists moved from places designed with sound in mind to locations which demanded the use of miners’ helmets for light and battery-powered sound gear. The final recordings carry the genuinely unique sonic blueprints and spirit of each place – from the birdsong in the courtyard at Speke Hall to the steam-driven cotton mill accompaniment at Quarry Bank. “When we recorded the piece at Fan Bay in the World War II shelter deep inside the chalk cliffs of Dover, Peter Gregson’s cello wasn’t at all happy with the clammy, dank conditions; but to be in the tunnels where young soldiers spent months on end, constantly on alert for incoming bombers, gave the recording an extraordinarily intimate, moving quality. At each site, the human mixed with the historical, and the natural environment of each space comes through with each piece. I tried to leave an imprint of each location on the record.”
While each piece of music is named after the location in which it was created, William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience courses through them as well. Soprano Grace Davidson sings Blake’s poignant words about nature, religion and the industrial revolution on several of the pieces including the astoundingly beautiful album closer Shade Of Dreams, written after the birth of Michael’s daughter. “The final piece, Shade of Dreams, is part of a group of pieces I wrote for the birth of our daughter, Emilie. It, like all the works on the album, takes its text from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, in this case, A Cradle Song. As much as Tender Symmetry is about the past, it is firmly about the future, and all our of shared futures.”
Grace Davies, National Trust contemporary arts programme manager said:
“We were delighted when Michael approached us with this project as it directly draws on the extraordinary stories and history of these special places. The sheer variety of sites that Michael has chosen has resulted in a collection of new music that is sometimes surprising, sometimes poignant, and – above all – inspirational. I am sure that audiences will be enchanted both by Michael’s music and our places that have inspired him.”
Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Will Gregory Goldfrapp)’s score to the forthcoming ‘Arcadia’, a film from BAFTA winning director Paul Wright and released by The BFI.
"Two tracks - ‘Lowlands’ and ‘Bonny Boy’ - are by the legendary Folk singer Anne Briggs, with musical arrangement by Utley and Gregory behind. The pair’s score takes influence from a wide range of genres, marrying classical and folk styles with more experimental electronic elements and even punk.
This will appeal to fans of the pair’s previous score work in ‘The Passion Of Joan Of Arc’, along with the pair’s solo work in Portishead and Goldfrapp. It will also appeal to fans of recent composers such as Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Cliff Martinez and Clint Mansell."
Two previously unreleased and stellar soundtracks by Parmegiani’s for avant-garde films finally surface on Switzerland’s WRWTFWWR, sourced from the original reels, and neatly packed together in a gatefold sleeve double LP with English and French liner notes.
Pressed from original tapes and containing the soundtracks for Pierre Kast films, ‘les soleils de l’île de pâques’  and ‘la brûlure de mille soleils’ , this set neatly expands the number of Parmegiani’s film soundtracks now available on vinyl following the recent edition of ‘Rock (Band Originale du Film’, and, before that, a Recollection GRM reissue of his ‘L'Œil Écoute’ (The Eye Hears) soundtrack, and a number of unofficial reissues of his work via New England Electric Music Company.
As illustrated thru the music and the accompanying text by Parmegiani, written in 1989, the two respective works are captivating examples of the pivotal concrète and electro-acoustic maestro’s methodical, logical approach to his work, highlighting fundamental, inseparable connections between perceptions of visual and aural cultures.
In Parmegiani’s own words: “Music, like film, needs duration to be totally understood. One and the other use common words to elaborate their own editing: transitions, fade-outs. There is, therefore, a little bit of cinema for ears in music. But could one not say reciprocally that there’s been a little music in the images? (for the ears!).”
The results precisely connote their subject, with stacks of far-out, hallucinatory gestures and cues reflecting the supernatural and occult themes of Pierre Kast’s sci-fi ‘les soleils de l’île de pâques’, whilst the score for its predecessor ‘la brûlure de mille soleils’ is farther out, full of mad jews harp twangs, disco-ready synth arps and droning choral work tie in with their theme - a bizarre short film, edited by Chris Marker (‘La Jetée’) about a depressed millionaire poet, his cat Marcel and a sign language robot, who travel time in search of love.
The master of breezy but heavyweight modern soul smackers, Devonte Hynes a.k.a Blood Orange’ racks up a terrific follow-up to his ‘Freetown Sound’  LP, loaded with guest spots from Puff Daddy, A$AP Rocky and Georgia Anne Muldrow, a.o., but undoubtedly revolving Hynes as the star of his own show
Where ‘Freetown Sound’ found Hynes singing from his parents’ perspective, its follow-up comes from Hynes’ formative experience growing up in England, rendering, in his own words; “an exploration into my own and many types of black depression, an honest look at the corners of black existence, and the ongoing anxieties of queer/people of color.”
Instant standouts step forth in the deftly rugged swang of ‘Chewing Gum’ feat. A$AP Rocky and Project Pat, as well as the the fusion of ‘90s R&B and adroit soul-jazz touches in ‘Saint’; the jiggy but tender R&B of ‘Runnin’’ with Neo-soul queen Georgia Anne Muldrow; and the killer Linn drum programming on ‘Out Of Your League’; but it’s really sculpted for seamless, absorbed listening in one sitting.
Interpol release their sixth studio album ‘Marauder’.
"For the first time since 2007’s ‘Our Love To Admire’, Interpol have opened themselves up to the input of a producer. For twoweek spells between December of 2017 to April of 2018, they travelled to upstate New York to work with Dave Fridmann - famed for recording with Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips, MGMT, Spoon, Mogwai and countless more.
In the run up to writing and recording, Sam found himself immersed in soul drummers such as Al Jackson Jr (Otis Redding’s drummer) and 80’s funk producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. “How can I make shit swing?” was the question Sam repeatedly asked himself and the answer is in the striding gallop of opener ‘If You Really Love Nothing’, the embellished skip ‘n’ bounce of ‘Stay In Touch’ and the R&B swagger of closer ‘It Probably Matters’. Interpol have always been worldbeaters at creating a feeling but ‘Marauder’ is where the feel is just as crucial. Paul may have stepped out of the shadows as a bassist but he’s stepping into an even brighter light as a songwriter.
During Interpol’s previous albums, the singer largely kept himself out of his own work, preferring to fill his lyrics with detached thoughts, characters and observations, often phrased in abstract. However, more than 20 years on since forming at NYU, the frontman is finally allowing himself to play a role in his own stories. “This record is where I feel touching on real things that have happened to me are exciting and evocative to write about,” he explains. “I think in the past, I always felt autobiography was too small a thing for me to reference. I feel like now, I’m able to romanticize parts of my own life.”
Big boned house from the Marquis of Hawkes, including guest vocals by Ursula Rucker and Jamie Lidell
Ursula Rucker lends a touch of class to the velveteen pads and greased up square bass of ‘Don’t U’, and Jamie Lidell does a keen croon thing with the blithe sentiments of ‘We Should Be Free’.
Listen out for highlights in the slow, blue, Twin Peaks-gone-deep house vibe of ‘The Matrix’, a smart touch of acid in ‘Hope In Our Hearts’, and the dutty pump of ’Tough Love’.
Kompakt’s ‘Total’ series comes of age with an 18th edition featuring 25 vocal-heavy and disco-ready tracks of minimal techno and tech-house from friends and family.
Standout moments come from Tom Demac & Real Lies, with the gentle ecstasy of ‘White Flowers’ sounding like Underworld meets The Streets; a sharp cut electro-house winner from John Tejada in ‘Detector’; the tight electro-trance mission of ‘Crasher’ by Rex The Dog’; the effortless acid techno glyde of ‘Hidden Beauties’ by Anna; some swaggering techno by the Voigt bros; and a squashed acid floater from Ghost Vision, ‘Zulu Passage’.
Hot off the heels of the beautiful "Obsolete Machines" [Stage Two] Gatefold LP set just released, Radius's cassette demo restoration project returns to form with the "Interpolation Tapes" series.
"The original source tapes had aged, warped and degraded and as a result we've preserved the best segments, sampled and reprocessed with a vintage prophet 2000 sampler, studio 440 and various Linn samplers to add depth and range to the original source material. We've spent nearly an entire year restoring and interpolating over 100 hours of music, processing sound and redesigning the blueprints of this long forgotten project. Every track was originally recorded down to an old Tascam 688, an 8 track cassette recorder purchased and abused since 1992 and to our ears still sounds quite impressive even by modern standards. Radius's "Interpolation Tapes" (Restoration Two) is the second part in a series of three releases featuring unreleased material culled from the vault of the long out of print Radius project, an ageless analog tapestry of sound.
This release features 8 tracks (2 of which are featured on the beautiful "Obsolete Machines" [Stage Two] vinyl LP), revisited and restored from analog cassette tapes with recordings conducted from 1994-2001 with nothing but analog/digital hardware. The original source tapes had aged, warped and degraded and as a result we've preserved the best segments, sampled and reprocessed them into an entirely new sonic spectrum. It's been a truly nostalgic experience re-visiting and re-arranging these masters, regardless of the time passed, there's so much depth and organic movement, it nearly breathes in slow motion. When considering the limitations of hardware in the era these were recorded, they've truly aged like a fine wine. From our hearts to yours."
Tim Hecker’s bittersweet 2nd album, his introduction to many listeners, comes back around on vinyl for the first time in 15 years (with his debut LP, ‘Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again’ in succession)
Yielding all the shimmering tingles, washed out textures and coruscating sensations his fans have come to know and adore, ‘Radio Amor’ remains a burning highlight of the Canadian artist’s oeuvre, which now includes some 10 albums and as many other EPs and such, most notably in modern classics such as ‘Ravedeath, 1972’ and a collaborative album with Daniel “0PN” Lopatin. However, with hindsight, it’s possible to say that none of them cut quite as deeply or linger in the memory quite so indelibly as this one..
Another dusty peach from ATFA: an 8-track Afro-Country album recorded in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
“In the 1980s, Abidjan’s Jess Sah Bi & Peter One became one of the most popular musical acts in not just the Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire), but broader West Africa, eventually performing with a full band to stadium-sized audiences at home and throughout Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo. Although they’d been popular radio and television performers for several years prior, the catalyst for Jess and Peter achieving this new level of stardom was their debut album, Our Garden Needs Its Flowers, recorded and released in 1985.
In contrast with the heaving funk, disco and reggae sounds of the day, Our Garden Needs Its Flowers was a lush fusion of traditional Ivorian village songs and American and English country and folk-rock music. Jess and Peter sang in French and English, delivering beautifully harmonized meditations on social injustice and inequality, calls for unity across the African continent, an end to apartheid in South Africa and the odd song for the ladies, all set against lush guitar riffs, rustic harmonica and rollicking feel-good rhythms.
Wrapped up in the sort of pop sensibilities that see YouTube rips of their music littered with nostalgic French-language comments reflecting on a time now some thirty-plus years distant, Awesome Tapes From Africa’s reissue of Our Garden Needs Its Flowers memorializes the best intentions of the golden years before the Ivory Coast’s social, cultural and political landscapes transformed radically. Surprisingly, it’s the first time the album has been re-released in a high-fidelity, legally licensed form. (Currently available versions for sale on digital retailers and posted on YouTube are bootleg recordings of a crackly LP; no one has sent the artists royalties for these sales.)”
From a basement in New Jersey, Tommy Falcone remade himself into a DIY Phil Spector. From 1962 to 1970, he founded and ran Cleopatra Records, discovered and mentored young Garden State talent, wrote songs and produced wild studio effects, and quit his day job to promote it all himself.
"Trained as an accordionist, Falcone had a whirlwind imagination and an omnivorous approach to genre, expressed through acts like the Centuries, the Tabbys, Johnny Silvio, the Inmates, Bernadette Carroll, the Hallmarks, Vickie & the Van Dykes, the Shandillons, Eugene Viscione, the Shoestring, and more. Cleopatra became a time-capsule of every 1960s pop style imaginable—garage rock, psychedelia, surf, girl groups, soul, novelties, exotica, even a crooner—a kaleidoscope of sound in search of the ever-elusive hit record."
Late 2016’s ‘Highway Songs’ brought Papa M back to us, after many years of silence and several harrowing dances with death for his Id-ego/host body, David Pajo. Now, two years on down the road, we’re all here again to witness ‘A Broke Moon Rises’.
"‘Highway Songs’ was a necessarily cathartic experience in all phases. Afterwards, with no tour dates forthcoming (partially due to lousy clubs and their lack of wheelchair-accessible stage doors), it felt good just to play for fun again, like being in the practice space instead of the psych ward - a much healthier change of pace than some might guess. David blew it out; all the different styles he’s played in over the years, from folk-blues to metal, electronic, pop, Bollywood... all of it. When the spasms subsided, however, a back-to-roots sediment remained in the bottom of the bowl, which he read as a motive for a new Papa M album done with all acoustic instruments.
That’s how there’s nothing electric about ‘A Broke Moon Rises’. Even the drums are acoustic. The five songs of ‘A Broke Moon Rises’ find David focusing his technique in unknown directions, to find out what he can do with them. When that happens, he finds himself on the very spot where Papa M music becomes alive. As the quietly funereal march of the opening track resonates with a spare drum beat, we are completely transfixed into the open spaces around the guitars. David’s been engineering and mixing his records for years, so the sensation of his sound-thoughts doesn’t entirely surprise us, even in their latest, acoustic anointment. Layers of guitars curl and unfurl, falling away from the centre with feathery softness. Slide figures cut through the progressions with a rusty glide. Arpeggiations flicker with light, leading into a change that’ll break on ones ear like a small revelation. Even the sound of Papa M playing in the room, leaning forward or untouching the strings, provides textural byplay in created space. ‘A Broke Moon Rises’ is meditative in the most active sense, with the unquiet mind leaping from place to place in a static, spartan theatre. All of which action makes hypnotic music, perfect for listening.
The album’s title is based upon his son’s observation of a half-moon one evening (when his son was 29) and it helped infuse the record with an essential feeling, which draws to a decidedly tasty conclusion with David taking on an Arvo Pärt piece. After years of fascination with the music, listening in passivity, he finally decided to do something about understanding it by playing it himself. If you’re wondering, that’s the key to ‘A Broke Moon Rises’."
Despite praise and acclaim throughout his career, Roy Montgomery hates his singing. From his point of view, it’s done out of necessity, when he doesn’t have anyone else around to substitute.
"Roughly one quarter of Montgomery’s epic multi-album 2016 release R M H Q had his singing, and those are his least favorite tracks. Grapefruit has done the best they can to argue that his basso undertones are the center of his appeal throughout his entire body of work, from the first The Pin Group single on Flying Nun in 1981, through his work in Dadamah, Dissolve and on to his legendary ’90s solo releases. However, is it a surprise he jumped at the idea of composing an album for other vocalists? This began as a series of alternate takes of the material on Tropic Of Anodyne, the tracks with vocals off his last release.
That concept morphed into assembling vocalists to sing on new songs, and he conceived instrumental material that would fit each singer. Half of the songs came together, resulting in Suffuse. The album charts a slow progression from those who share similarities with Montgomery’s rumbling vocal technique to those who come at singing differently, with minute contrasts throughout. Haley Fohr (Circuit des Yeux) and Jessica Larrabee (She Keeps Bees) bring the first two tracks, with Katie Von Schleicher following with a raw expression of emotional loss, and the sisters Clementine and Valentine Nixon (Purple Pilgrims) expressing emptiness by stripping away words, weaving their voices together through Montgomery’s elastic webbing.
Julianna Barwick adds drive and nuance to the foamy sonic waves of “Sigma Octantis,” as “Landfall” crashes in slow motion chaos over Liz Harris’s (Grouper) multitracked layers. These compositions generously embrace their guest leaders, and for the first time in his career, Roy Montgomery has made a cogent artistic argument as to why he shouldn’t be singing these songs himself."
Conspicuous by his absence over the last few years, Dorian Concept breaks his silence with a colourfully plumed and intricately woven batch of prog-jazz-fusion cuts showing off his virtuoso instrumentalist skills on both acoustic and electronic gear...
“Following the release of “Joined Ends” in 2014 - a deeply intimate and textured project he describes as his “chamber music” record - Dorian Concept performed everywhere from Glastonbury to Sonar to MoMA PS1’s Warm Up and then deliberately took himself off the radar. The time since has been spent meticulously un-learning his prodigious production process and developing a brand new sound that even the most clued-up won’t be expecting - showcased on ‘Promises’, in the most prominent use of his voice to date. The recording and processing of his vocals represent not only a more human expression of his highly technical sound, but also an inclination toward recursion - the challenge, ephemerality, and demand for attention of “unequal repetition” which shapes the build and deconstruction of energy throughout the record.
Taking inspiration from multi-generational eclecticism (‘60s jazz, ‘70s fusion, ‘80s neo prog-rock, ‘90s electronica), Dorian Concept sought to replicate “modern” music elements with old-fashioned methods, live-playing and hand-recording deceptively digital sounds in service of a tongue-in-cheek “parody of nostalgia”. Having produced the record largely in the years 2016 and 2017 - widely characterized as periods of a cultural reckoning throughout the democratic world - he ambitiously took timely themes of cumulative error, shortening attention spans and subjective experience and transposed them into his making. As is to be expected from him by now, for all the considered, high-concept musing, the result is refreshingly unpretentious: dizzying swells, cacophonous breakdowns and formidable rhythms are both expert and childlike, hyperactive and hyper-focused.”
Bound to beguile and even shock their legion followers, Animal Collective genuinely push into experimental psychedelia with their ear-testing soundtrack to a visual study on coral reefs...
“Tangerine Reef is a full-length audiovisual album by Animal Collective (Avey Tare, Deakin and Geologist), in collaboration with Coral Morphologic, to commemorate the 2018 International Year of the Reef. Tangerine Reef is a visual tone poem consisting of time-lapse and slow pans across surreal aquascapes of naturally fluorescent coral and cameos by alien-like reef creatures (note: no CGI or artificial enhancement was used in this film). Tangerine Reef is the sight and sound of a literal underwater collective of animals.
In 2017, the Borscht Film Festival commissioned Coral Orgy, a collaborative site-specific performance by Animal Collective and Coral Morphologic ‘celebrating the cosmic synchronicity of sex on the reef’ in the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center on Miami Beach. The success of this performance ultimately led to this studio recording of Tangerine Reef and a subsequent performance at David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption earlier this spring at Brooklyn Steel in Brooklyn, NY.”
Quator Bozzini perform two 30 minute string pieces by core Editions Wandelweiser's Jürg Frey. The latter work, ‘Unhörbare Zeit’ (Inaudible Times) is mighty; 35 minutes of brooding swells touching dread-like subharmonic depths yet somehow vaporous and light in movement
“The string quartet sounds sometimes like the silence of a square, a room, a wall or a landscape. The music is silent, but not absent. It is not speechless, and it also does not move with virtuosity bordering on silence. The music gets its vitality and its radiance, not from gesture and figuration, but in quiet presence – everything is there: colours, sensations, shadows, durations. The music is silent architecture.
The music has different emotional and architectural sonic spaces. Voluminous and fallow land, lightness and heaviness of materials, intimacy and being lost appear and disappear. And there are lines between which one crosses quietly. This music is created by simple and clear procedures; however, the requirement for the precision increases. Elemental materials and constructions are thereby perceived as a sensation, and mindfulness consists in hanging these sensations in balance before they have arrived at the limitations of expressiveness.
Unhörbare Zeiten (inaudible times) are empty volumes in the music. Durations without sounds define their own entity and develop their architectural presence. One should add nothing to these empty volumes, neither in composition nor while listening. They should remain open, light and serene. I am working with audible and inaudible durations that appear partly simultaneously and partly consecutively. They give the piece lucidity and transparency, as well as materiality and solidity. There are sometimes almost spatial or bodily deci- sions to achieve a balance of the material, of the feeling for the piece, and of the compositional technique, and to create, from an initial idea of something limitless - a music with energy and breath.”
This is absolutely gorgeous! Michael Pisaro weds unedited field recordings of L.A. with almost imperceptible sine wave tones, offering a poetic, 2 hour portrait of his home city...
Opening an impressionistic window to the hills, streets and coast of greater Los Angeles, ‘Transparent City (Volumes 1 & 2)’ consists of 11 x 10 minute field recordings which were later blended with sine waves at Pisaro’s home studio in Santa Clarita, and broken up by two minutes silence at the end of each track. Their effect is enchanting, subliminally drawing us into a naturally relaxed state, but with a subtle awareness of the sine wave’s presence that creates a sublime tension - nothing disturbing, more like a charming poltergeist who wants to play with your private ether.
That presence and its effect, in conjunction with the patently sunny scenes of the recording, lend a heady quality that recalls the surreality limned in Nozomu Matsumoto’s recent ‘Climatotherapy’, but with a far more subtle appeal, while also reminding of the meditative states of Jakob Ullmann’s music, the ambience of Murakami novels, or what may be heard from Pinkcourtesyphone’s porch, if she somehow wandered outside in a dosed-up daze.
A big recommendation from this amazing label.
‘Branches’  is an absorbing extension of John Cage’s ‘Child Of Tree’ , a chance composition for amplified cactus, performed by the 7-piece daswirdas ensemble inside the echoic chambers of a huge Swiss dam
Yep you read that right - it’s an hour long work featuring the daswirdas ensemble using contact microphones to pick up and amplify strokes of the cactus body and its needles, resulting a mixture of perhaps expected, and also quite unexpected sounds, from scratchy to fluid and reverberating clangs.
The piece starts with a performance of ‘Child Of Tree’, followed by a random number of variations on that piece each lasting 8 minutes and separated by a period of silence. With Cage present as listener, the performance and the space generate a colourful variety of echo with reverberation times that vary from 1 to 6 seconds for different frequency ranges.
If we’ve got it right, the ‘Branches’ of the work relates to those naturally chaotic offshoots or limbs of sound that result from the treated space, as the players’ moves, each determined by the I-ching, result hard-to-predict prangs and decays as the sounds, once released into the space, take on brittle and fluid new lives of their own, yet are still connected to the main body.
The shady Gescom collective's crackshot A1-D1, back on road for all CD fetishists and breakbeat/edit freaks
Originally dispatched on a pair of 12”s (hence the track titles A1-D1) in 2007, nearly a decade after their ‘MiniDisc’ album for Russell Haswell’s OR, it's a deadly demo of their ADD edit tendencies applied to classic acid, electro and disco breaks in properly wild style.
Personally, it’s most notable for the peerless ‘D1’, a nutty stop-start/reverse-edited cut-up of Adonis’ über classique acid melter ‘No Way Back’, which still sees a lot of play up our way. But those who keep their shell toes clean will also go mad for the sliced up breakbeat chicanery of ‘A1’, a take on the sci-fi B-boy disco ace ‘Space Dust’, and that twyst on ‘Downfall’ by Armando is pretty tasty, too.
It’s maybe fair to say ‘A1-D1’ is among the most sorely overlooked pieces in Gescom’s catalogue, yet by many measures, it’s also their most funked up.
Incredible collection of mid-late 80’s experimental works from the hugely influential Italian avant-garde composer Luigi Nono, including works for contrabass flute, clarinet, treated voices, strings and electronics.
Editions RZ present a necessary reissue of their 1990 LP release, now backed with three legendary recordings, 'La Terra E La Compagna', 'Caminantes', 'No Hay Caminos, Hay Que Caminar'. Collected, they form a great access point to Luigi Nono's unique, carefully realised, yet unfathomably vast world, one equally informed by avant-garde musical studies and his commitment to socialism.
In the best possible sense, it's very difficult to accurately sum up the sounds inside, other than in terms of a visceral, haptic approach and stunning spatial awareness. Highly recommended.
For 'Black Telephone Of Matter' we hear the contrarily noisy and contemplative side of Mika, no beats, but plenty of completely devastating aural views surveying vast abstract landscapes.
'Roma A.D 2727' weaves sinewaves sculpted into brutally effective and nerve stimulating squalls. 'Silence Traverses Des Mondes Et Des Endes' opens with the horrific cackle of a murder of crows before sharply focussed bass blasts with ever encroaching proximity and unrelated shards of textured noise dynamically ascend before crashing to point zero. If you've ever experienced one of his frightening but life affirming live shows, the album's centre-piece 'Bury A Horse's Head' should help you relive the life-changing intensity of his powerful drones with 11 mins of austere oscillator experimentation, only you'll have to turn the volume up for the full body tactile effect.
Paralleling this is the set's other extended composition 'A Measurement Of Excess Antenna Temperature At 4080 Ml/s'. A reduction of excess to the bare minimum of electronic hum with brain massaging waves of subbass that'll make your eyeballs vibrate if you're paying attention on good headphones.
One⁹ is one of the trickier Cage compositions, yielding 2 hours of shrill, minimal accordion by Edwin Alexander Buchholz
““sounds brushed into existence as in oriental calligraphy" (Cage)
the sounds in one9 are single tones and chords, up to six part harmonies.
how do sounds come into existence, how do they gain focus, how do they resolve, how do they merge into one another, how can one quietly and attentively, in all modesty, follow their unfolding?
these are the questions that guided edwin alexander buchholz in his interpretation of the piece.
over the years he played one9 time and again - for himself and in concerts. gradually solutions manifested themselves which he never, at first, would have considered.
it is not simply the case, that this music, which was originally written for shô, the japanese mouth organ from gagaku music, may also be played on accordion.
much as the immemorial shô, originated about 4000 years ago, and the modern accordion are related, they are not interchangeable. one9 has been written specifically for shô and first has to find its way to the accordion, in order to become real accordion music.
the accordion is a wind instrument, but also a keyboard instrument, it has stops, its colours are eminently rich and its two sound sources, as long as they are sounding, are always moving: away from each other, towards each other.
for edwin alexander buchholz one9, in the course of time, grew into a music, that integrated all of this, a music entirely for his instrument: the accordion.
traditionally the sound of the shô is connected to the heavens' gleam. I have no trouble hearing this quality here, in the sound of the accordion.
A variegated expo for Dutch pianist Dante Boon, presenting interpretations of experimental works by John Cage, Jürg Frey, Samuel Vriezen, Richard Ayres, Tom Johnson and Michael Manion, sequenced to highlight their range of technical, melodic and expressive qualities. His take on Jürg Frey’s ‘Sam Lazaro Bros’ and the slow, stately procession of Michael Manion’s 34’ ‘Music For Solo Piano’ are particularly sublime
“Pianist and composer Dante Boon often programs his recitals as webs. He likes to put compositions of great diversity in style and technique side by side. However, myriad connections can always be found between pairs of pieces, and these give the whole a subtle coherence. This is also how his first CD is organized, presenting pieces by seven composers spanning almost a century of music. But the most important unifying element of this disc is Dante's own musical personality and approach to the piano.
Two poles are important for Dante's playing. On the one hand he is drawn towards the musical discipline of the Cageian tradition and its concern with objectivity in sound. On the other hand, early Romanticism, particularly German song repertoire, is important to him. For many listeners, these poles may seem like opposites. For Dante, however, there is no contradiction. In his playing, precision of technique and conceptual clarity are expressions of a passionate engagement with sounds and their progression as melody. Here, melodic thought reveals the sonic concept and it is the concept that is sung.
For example, Tom Johnson's Tilework for Piano, probably the most austere piece in this collection, is a systematic exploration of the ways in which a fifteen-beat phrase can be covered by a simple rhythmical three-note pattern that appears at five different speeds. Those five layers by themselves have a percussive quality. But in his performance, Dante is more interested in the surprising melodic figures that result from different combinations of the layers, and his articulation and phrasing stress the melodic aspect over the separation of layers.
Likewise, in a seemingly chaotic piece such as John Cage's Etude no. 2, Dante manages to let expressive melody surface suddenly, while giving the piece's complex, anarchic texture a sense of balance and composure. Similarly, the nervous inner motions of Richard Ayres' No. 8 are performed with a concentration that draws us into their expressive detail, and the sudden bursts of pure movement in my own series of Possible World pieces gain in brilliance through Dante's refined articulation. (No. 5, scored for 1 to 4 pianos and allowing for variety in form, is played twice in different versions.) Cage's early Two Pieces, works of great melodic invention, fit Dante's playing naturally.
The other pieces presented here are all based on chords and chord progressions. Here, too, there is much melodic interest, and Dante brings a clear balance to all sounds, making them sing. Jürg Frey's Sam Lazaro Bros turns out to have an almost Schubertian atmosphere, though listening to it I'm equally reminded of 16th-century choral progressions. In John Cage's One, a piece that requires the pianist to carefully organize his phrasing, even the chords themselves already seem to sing at times - particularly some of the louder ones. In Morton Feldman's Last Pieces, there is always a subtle local melodic logic to the progression of seemingly unconnected sounds, which allows Dante to bring great depth to his playing in the ultra soft range.
The program closes with Michael Manion's Music for Solo Piano, dedicated to Dante, which draws its chords out into long, sometimes subtly swinging pulsating moments. Over its extended duration, it goes through no more than about twenty chords that form one long melodic arch, taking over half an hour to get to its surprising and very beautiful final cadence.
Two discs with 17 tracks on each of Beuger whistling, quietly and with a silence and patience of intense concentration emerging from near silence...
"I am well aware of how mushy and subjective this review may read, but for me, from the moment I pressed play on the CD player for the first time on Friday, this music has had a profound, and yet very simple effect on me. Throughout the two pieces there are basically two sounds to be heard. The first is a barely audible, but constant layer of roomtone, presumably where the microphone gain has been brought up. This soft background is perfect for the CD, somehow giving it all a context and just enhancing the human aspects of it all. Then Beuger whistles… softly, always with a slight breathy hiss, never full on piercing notes. The sound resembles little gasps of air forcing their ways through a crack in the door more than anything tonal, though as the score seems to dictate particular notation then there are certainly particular pitches here, just softly, cloudily picked out.
Its the human aspect of it that works so well for me though, and also the fact that it is Antoine whistling here, not anyone else. I say this because the power of this music comes from its direct simplicity, and so hearing the composer pick out what he wants from his score himself and then just performing it, presumably while alone in a room (the score says the whistling should be “whispered very quietly to oneself”) adds to this feeling of directness, and brings a sense of incredible intimacy to the music.
The actual sounds are mostly short lines, roughly three or four seconds in length, spaced apart by silences that aren’t overly long, but leave the listener enough time to contemplate each short burst before absorbing the next. There are also a few little shorter sections which occasionally run through scales, and also hint at bits of melody, but for the most part (as with much of Beuger’s work) there isn’t much in the way of silence here, just a sense of incredible calm and peacefulness. The CD sleeve recommends that the music should be played at very low volume, a suggestion that will always win my approval, but here this is vital. I can’t think of any CD that would be destroyed more by being played at very high volume.
This is music I will return to often at the end of stressful days. It is music I will play when I wish to get off to sleep in a gentlest of manners, but it is also music that I will put on and just sit and listen to quietly, a kind of distillation of musical expression down to this most basic, refined human experience, and so a thoroughly uplifting and inspirational thing, not unlike the birds that can be heard singing every morning here, not unlike the simple beauty that poetry creates when two words are placed beside each other. For me, Keine fernen mehr portrays the very best of humankind, an antidote to the noise, to the chatter of technology, to the anger, to the cruelty that exists in the world today, two CDs that, for me, flood my surroundings with undiluted joy. I have heard so much wonderful music this year, and doubtlessly much of it is technically superior, structurally more complex or conceptually more intriguing to what is presented on these CDs, but nothing, nothing at all at all has had such a deeply moving effect on me as the music here. Utterly magical."
Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear.
John Cage's "Empty Words" (1974) is drawn from the Journals of Henry David Thoreau, written in four parts:
Part I omits sentences, Part II omits phrases, and Part III omits words. Part IV, which omits syllables, leaves us nothing but a virtual lullaby of letters and sounds.
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.
Awesome 2nd volume of ‘Midnight in Tokyo’ jams, with selector Dubby taking over from Toshiya Kawasaki to pick a diamond-studded set of ‘80s jazz fusion vibes from Japan...
All but the most ardent Japanophiles will be new to the sounds in ‘Midnight in Tokyo Volume 2’, which takes the listener for a personalised cruise around Dubby’s hidden gems, collected over decades and perfectly picked to brief.
To play favourites, the delicious warped slump of ‘Hikobae’ by Genji Sawai is frankly unmissable, as are the glittery glyde of ‘So Long America’ by Yasunori Soryo & Jim Rocks, the slinky tickle of ‘Imagery’ from Katsutoshi Morizono with Bird’s Eye View, and the glam strut of Parachute’s ‘Mystery of Asian Port’.
First ever official reissue of a synth-heavy Nigerian disco diamond, recorded and produced in 1979, known to trade 2nd hand for the price of return flights from UK to Lagos...
“Livingstone Studio present a reissue of Gboyega Adelaja's Colourful Environment, originally released in 1979. Fresh from touring with Hugh Masekela -- The Boy's Doin' It (1975) -- Gboyega Adelaja goes into the lab to drop heavy keyboard science on his Moog and Fender Rhodes. Its Joe Sample meets the Afro funk of BLO. With names like Jake Sollo on guitars, Mike Odumusu (BLO, Osibisa) on bass guitar, and Gasper Lawal on percussion, this is a top quality, Afro funk -- an all-stars affair that shines from the inspired interventions, masterly arrangements to the sublime production.
Adelaja on the period of recording: "I was already following Hugh Masekela when I met him, he was an outstanding musician and I knew of his collaboration with Hedzoleh, that band brought him nearer to many of us, because he was playing authentic African melodies with the Hedzoleh sound which was mostly percussion oriented. Yes I knew about Hugh's music before I met him. In fact when we started playing together, he insisted that I stay with him in our three bedroom apartment, other members of the band had their own apartments, but Hugh and myself shared the same three bedroom apartment".
"We were touring, under Casablanca owned by Neil Boggart, we toured as professional musicians, flying to our gigs. There was a time when we were touring with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic we had two luxury buses deployed for our use. We made many friends where ever we went to play, we met many big and popular musicians who came to watch our shows, the Spinners came to see us in Detroit, we met Wayne Shorter of Weather Report, Freddie Hubbard, we played a gig with Herbie Hancock at the Carnegie Hall New York City, we toured almost all the 50 States of the US."