Raw but opulent rare grooves flavours from My Girlfriend, the Brazilian duo of veteran multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Sallum and 18 y.o. prodigy Zopelar for Funkineven’s Apron
Leading on from their 2018 debut for São Paulo’s Subsubtropics label, the ‘Apron’ EP drifts in on the dry-iced glyde of ‘Piercing’, to tuck away the slick bassline hustle, lush Rhodes and cracking claps of ‘Gidi’ along with the pendulous uptempo pivot of ‘Modal’ on the A-side, chased up with the one-you-need in the decadent velvet bass and filigree funk embroidery of ‘Believe In Something’, beside the Bossa Nova bustle of ‘Corner Club’ on the backside.
Since their inception in 2012, BIG|BRAVE have explored terrains of experimental rock with a clear focus on the key principles; space, volume, and raw emotion. The essence of BIG | BRAVE's magic has always been the way they balance these dynamics, and particularly how much sheer power comes from the beautifully quiet moments.
"The same principles are the starting point for the new album, only the approach is different, beginning with the question "How do we take very little and make something bigger than what we actually have?" vocalist and guitarist Robin Wattie explains further "the biggest challenge was to not do what is easiest. i.e. what we knew worked for the last albums or what is, for us, easy to write. With A Gaze Among Them, Mathieu and I put ourselves through the ringer - I did not want to do what seemed to me to be a ‘logical next step’ in what we could do musically. I wanted to go back to our original concepts and work from there - space, tension, minimalism and voice (finding melody and musicality in pieces that consist of one note for longer than ten minutes, for example) were the primary concentrations I wanted to push."
In the process of revisiting their early intentions, BIG | BRAVE have boldly evolved, emerging with a thrilling new body of work that is all at once refreshingly new, explosively heavy, dynamically loud, beautifully minimal, carefully repetitive, and totally and utterly cathartic. A Gaze Among Them features Robin Wattie (vocals, electric guitar, guitar amp, bass amp), Mathieu Ball (electric guitar, guitar amps) and Loel Campbell (drums) with guest appearances from Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt Zion) on Contrabass and Seth Manchester's synth overdubs. The album was recorded with Seth Manchester at Machine with Magnets in Pawtucket Rhode Island. The beautiful image adorning the cover (created by Robin Wattie) further demonstrates that BIG | BRAVE have blossomed. The trio sound rejuvenateed and confident, and A Gaze Among Them is the sound of a band truly honing their craft, and feeling totally satisfied with it. Compelling. Necessary. Important."
Eat yr heart out post rock swell-on from GY!BE man Efrim Manuel Menuck and Kevin Doria ov ambient/noise unit Growing
“Efrim Manuel Menuck — founding member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion — and Kevin Doria from Growing and Total Life, are now officially a duo. Menuck recruited Doria to help him translate his acclaimed 2018 album Pissing Stars from the studio to the stage, and the pair have been touring under the Efrim Manuel Menuck moniker for the pasty ear (often with Doria’s latest solo project KGD opening the proceedings). They’ve also been co-writing piles of new material, diving deeper into whirling maximalist electronics, still shot through with Menuck’s incantatory singing awash in plaintive distortion and hope.
Efrim Manuel Menuck & Kevin Doria are SING SINCK, SING presents the first volume of songs forged from this febrile and fertile merger: an antifa poetics of sound that unspools across five crushing, keening tracks driven by thick sweeping drones and ostinatos, battered by inscrutably searching, ricocheting vocals. Anguish, yearning, and desperate conviction combine in these saturated survivalist electro-hymns, for as long as the power stays on to overload the amplifiers."
Oren Ambarchi celebrates his 50th birthday and a decade of uncompromisingly brilliant, diverse releases on Black Truffle with this mixed compilation of cherry-picked label highlights covering the gamut from Keiji Haino to Annea Lockwood and Oren’s classic rock-riffing zingers
The mix simultaneously gives and removes context from the material in a smart way by conjuring unforeseen connection between genres, eons and vibes, craftily connoting links between their mutual idiosyncrasies and disparate coordinates.
With an emphatic focus on bringing work by older, pioneering artists to new light, Black Truffle has become an invaluable, educational service with its myriad reissues of seminal (if niche) classics by the likes of AMM, Annea Lockwood, Keiji Haino and Giancarlo Toniutti, while also providing space for new work by pivotal figures such as Alvin Curran (last year’s ‘Criss-Cross’ is a blinder) and a platform for obscure gems such as the Paul DeMarinis archival dive ‘Songs Without Throats’ and the work of his close peers, cry cole and Joe Talia.
This 3 hour long, 27 track wide mix covers the full wingspan of the label and its owner’s immaculate tastes, with highlights in the likes of Ruedi Häusermann’s gunky jazz freak ‘Susanna I’m Blade’, the deliquescent touch of ‘Burrata’ by cry cole & Ambarchi, or Arnold Dreyblatt’s nerve-jangling ‘The Odd Fellows’ forming peaks in the mix and label’s wonderfully wild and expansive musical panorama.
Contemporary genius James Ferraro pushes his hybrid electronic/classical style to beautifully elegiac effect with the 1st of four main musical parts in the ‘Four Pieces For Mirai’ series, following from 2018’s ‘Overture EP’
Presented as a “57 minute long opus into ecocide and planetary divorce”, Ferraro’s ‘Requiem for Recycled Earth’ strikes an elegiac nerve of soundtrack music that short circuits the difference between Philip Glass’ music for ‘Koyaanisqatsi’, the kind of schlocky tones you might expect on a Graham Hancock video about ancient civilisations, and some Hans Zimmer score for a wide-eyed Spielberg epic. It’s executed to the extent one might expect David Attenborough to crop up in one of its lulls, gently guilting listeners for living in the toxic run-off of his generation.
The 61 minute piece breaks down into 13 parts, conducting a spellbinding traverse from the primal, metallic noise and buoyant chorale of ‘Embryo’ thru to the bittersweet curdle of ’Spawn of Hate’, taking in spectacular FM synthesis sound designs with the transitions between ‘Omega Generation’ and ‘Cyber Seed’ or the perceptive depth to ‘Recycled Sky that show off a newly enhanced grasp of production nous, all while still allowing for that Mona Lisa smirk to his sound with the title and EDM nods in ‘Gaia Wept Effluent’.
We’re sure that the artist, presumably like most of us, is worried about climate change and the state of ‘Recycled Earth’. However, in his very particular way, Ferraro’s music here highlights an ambiguity between the objective reality and its mediated, subjective reflection, with a music that speaks to the impending, heightening drama of the situation, but also the saccharine melodrama of weepy emoji-adorned social media statuses (#Attenborough) and the well-meaning but ultimately piecemeal measures taken to avoid the inevitable.
After a seven year break, Liverpool’s post-punk pop experimentalists return with album No 8. The unusual name is taken from the long-forgotten 1970s ITV variety show The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, compered by Bernard Manning, which recreated the smoky, boozy atmosphere of Northern working men's clubs for a sofa-bound audience.
“It’s been a pisstake thing between us for quite a few years,” reveals Ade Blackburn, Clinic spokesman, of the show that the album title references. “Whenever we’d talk about a song sounding too ‘cabaret’ or too nice, we’d say, ‘That’s a bit Wheeltappers and Shunters’. This album is neither a celebration nor a denigration of the culture of the era in which Blackburn and his collaborator-in-chief, Hartley, grew up. “It’s a satirical take on British culture - high and low,” explains Blackburn. “It fascinates me that people look back on the 1970s as the glory days. It’s emerged that there was a darker, more perverse side to that time. When you look back on it now it was quite clearly there in mainstream culture.”
The Great Britain that Clinic are evoking is not that ancient, bucolic past of village green cricket, half a mild and hanky-waving Morris Dancers that many seem so determined that the country should return to, but a rather more sleazy past. Clinic’s reverie is for a time when Blackpool was the pleasure capital of the kingdom and the public was kept entertained by travelling circuses and the dirty glamour of the funfair; tacky end of the pier merriment and enforced fun at Butlins; when bell-ringing town criers bellowed their nonsensical broadsides into the ether. For most bands about to enter their third decade as an entity the well would be running dry, but eight albums in and Clinic still retain the ability to surprise. This is not a band reborn, but refreshed and revitalised. Clocking in at just over 28 minutes, Wheeltappers and Shunters is an absolute blast, rich in detail and sonic intrigue, those precious minutes stuffed with ideas.
“We’d released albums like clockwork every two years, so it seemed natural to have a break,” Blackburn reveals. “It allowed everyone to do some quite oddball stuff, away from Clinic. I think we all wanted a bit more freedom.” When the band reconvened, Wheeltappers and Shunters came together quickly. Having taken “a fair bit of time” making 2012’s Free Reign, this time they worked spontaneously. “We didn’t want to dwell on ideas. Making sure there was an energy to it became the most important factor. A lot of the songs were recorded very quickly in a small studio set-up in Hartley’s house and then we’d edit from there. It was all about getting it sonically interesting. Dilip Harris (King Krule, Sons of Kemet) mixed the album. Dilip was great. He interpreted our ideas really quickly.”“We thought it felt right to make a fun, dancefloor album in these dark and conservative times,” Blackburn continues. “We didn’t plan it. Within the set of songs that we’d worked on for it there was a thread of it being a bit more rock’n’roll, a bit more UP! It had that sort of feel to it early on.”
Fun, sure, but this is Clinic – their brand of fun oozes with menace, with even the innocuous request to “Join in the circus” in the brief interlude ‘Tiger’ sounds vaguely threatening. And in Clinic’s world, the pleasure is illusory. "All the fun of the fair, lap it up without a care," Blackburn begins on scene-setting opener ‘Laughing Cavalier’, but the mood quickly changes: “All the fun of the fair, are you really all still there?” “One of my favourite things is those contradictions,” Blackburn says. “Having the rug pulled from under you. I think that’s exciting – where you think you’ve got the measure of something but then that shifts. It’s not just about the double meaning with a line, it’s also about the way it’s sung. You can interpret something in the opposite way just from the delivery.”
The music that the band were listening to before and during the recording “wasn’t down or morbid, it was stuff like Link Wray, old rock’n’roll, acid punk and disco – something that had an energy to it.” Link Wray is a good sonic reference point for Wheeltappers… ‘Ferryboat of the Mind’, which opens with a plaintive clarinet straight from the Acker Bilk songbook, expands with a shimmering, twanging guitar riff that Fred Lincoln Wray would be proud of, with cosmic effects and a haunting harmonica. Fifties rock’n’roll is the order of the day on ‘Rubber Bullets’ as Blackburn grunts “Neanderthal” over a twanging rockabilly guitar riff à la Scotty Moore.
The dancefloor element comes through in the low-slung grooves of ‘Mirage’, the Slade on mushrooms glam stomp of ‘Rejoice!’ and the breathlessly propulsive ‘D.I.S.C.I.P.L.E.’, a throwback to the band’s earliest output, with Blackburn stuttering “D-D-D-D-IT’S EXCITING!” over a Suicide drum machine pulse. There’s even whimsy on the album’s closing song, ‘New Equations at the Copacabana’, that opens by pastiching Donovan’s ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’, has a melody that evokes Jimmy Webb’s MacArthur Park, and concludes with a sample of The Wurzels urging you to “Drink up thy zider!” Only Clinic could cram those three disparate sources into one three-minute song. Despite being influenced by the prevailing mood in the country, the band have been careful to steer clear of making direct references to Brexit or anything lyrically that would obviously date it. “It’s not just Brexit,” muses Blackburn. “It’s what Brexit has brought out in politics and the polarisation of it. That’s definitely had a knock-on effect on the lyrics. Leaving Europe was an issue that wasn’t really at the front of everybody’s minds, but it’s given people the green light to think that division isn’t such a bad thing. That’s seen as the norm now. That’s what feels really scary about it. It’s got this far so what else can happen?”
This sense of dread of what the future could bring is tackled in the unsettlingly woozy ‘Be Yourself/Year of the Sadist’, the latter title indirectly referencing Brexit. “It’s about how, on an interpersonal level, it’s made people more distant or more suspicious of each other. We’re definitely harming ourselves.” For Blackburn and his Clinic cohorts, Wheeltappers and Shunters is a “response to that overall feeling of things not seeming right in the world and the atmosphere being more tense. But rather than succumb to it you’ve got to try and enjoy yourself.” Sound advice. Listening to the latest musical emissions from Clinic’s house of fun is a great place to start."
Joe Clay, November 2018.
Holly Herndon returns with the conceptually top-loaded ‘Proto’, an interesting and multi-layered attempt at humanising technology, featuring her A.I. “baby”, Spawn, and a stacked ensemble of guests including Jlin and Amnesia Scanner’s Ville Haimala, plus co-production by Mat Dryhurst.
With one eye on her background in East Tennessee, and the other tracking a future where A.I. aren’t feared but integrated into society, ‘Proto’ is heavily focussed on the voice, both Holly’s own, that of Spawn, and also 16 guests including Stine Janvin, Colin Self and Annie Garlin, in a fusion of folk-wise, hymnal arrangements rendered with computerised tunings. As you can see from the massive list of guest contributors, the hi-def glossy artwork, and an “emphasis on alien songcraft” and existential questioning of “who we are, what are we, what do we stand for, and what are we heading towards?”, a lot of time, thought and effort has gone into this one...
"Holly’s third full-length album ‘PROTO’ isn’t about AI but much of it was created in collaboration with her own AI ‘baby’, Spawn. For the album, she assembled a contemporary ensemble of vocalists, developers and an inhuman intelligence housed in a DIY souped-up gaming PC to create a record that encompasses live vocal processing and timeless folk singing and places an emphasis on alien song craft and new forms of communion. ‘PROTO’ makes reference to what Holly refers to as the protocol era, where rapidly surfacing ideological battles over the future of AI protocols, centralised and decentralised internet protocols and personal and political protocols compel us to ask ourselves who are we, what are we, what do we stand for and what are we heading towards?
You can hear traces of Spawn throughout the album - developed in partnership with longtime collaborator Mathew Dryhurst and ensemble developer Jules LaPlace - and even eavesdrop on the live training ceremonies conducted in Berlin, in which hundreds of people were gathered to teach Spawn how to identify and reinterpret unfamiliar sounds in group call-and-response singing sessions; a contemporary update on the religious gathering Holly was raised amongst in her upbringing in East Tennessee. “There’s a pervasive narrative of technology as dehumanizing,” says Holly. “We stand in contrast to that. It’s not like we want to run away; we’re very much running towards it, but on our terms. Choosing to work with an ensemble of humans is part of our protocol. I don’t want to live in a world in which humans are automated off stage. I want an AI to be raised to appreciate and interact with that beauty ”
Just as ‘Platform’ forewarned of the manipulative personal and political impacts of prying social media platforms long before popular acceptance, ‘PROTO’ is a euphoric and principled statement setting the shape of things to come."
Anthoney J. Hart (East Man, Imaginary Forces) pushes the prism of UK garage, grime and jungle further in his own image with the first Basic Rhythm album, ‘On The Threshold’ for Planet Mu. Sounds a lot like Werk Discs’ Grim Dubs series c. 2005.
"Recorded primarily with the DJ in mind, these tracks are colourful, brutalist and adventurous. Contemporary hybrids constructed from blocks of sound, their angular rhythms draw on Britain's dance music past, but with an eye firmly on the present.
The album starts with 'St. Fabian Tower', named after the now demolished tower block in Chingford where Anthoney used to DJ for Rude FM. The track's lush detuned synths and syncopated drums are girded by stern low end frequencies. Drum and bass, jungle and hardcore are the touchstones here, but the forms he creates make no attempt to imitate the music of those eras. Take the rolling, bubbling, almost jazz-drummer patterns of 'Yeah, I Like It' and 'I Want You' where strange pops and bubbles seem to be forced through the grid almost like they're an effect of pressure. It's an odd juxtaposition next to the soulful vocals but an effective one. 'Edge Of Darkness' meanwhile, is an intense, rough ride of sliding rhythms and elephantine bass. Elsewhere, like on 'A New Consciousness', things are tempered into a more streamlined techno-like hybrid. He lets loose in the claps and kicks banger of 'Fi Di Gyal', but even here there are neat sonic tricks that sound like nods to minimalist composition.
On The Threshold is a balance of smart and energetic, non linear thoughtfulness and makeshift experimentalism that does away with boundaries, but is very much its own self contained world."
Cologne-based pop group Von Spar rope in guest vocals by Eiko Ishibashi, R. Stevie Moore, Laetitia Sadier for their 5th LP of sugary songcraft
““Under Pressure” is Von Spar's fifth album, not counting their homage to Can (recorded live with Stephen Malkmus). 15 years have passed since their debut “Die uneingeschränkte Freiheit der privaten Initiative”, five since the “Streetlife” album. On closer examination, there is a somewhat chameleonesque quality to Von Spar’s discography. Their records are the result of continuous metamorphosis, opening wormholes to post punk, krautrock and 80s art pop. The constants: rhythmic refinement and harmonic quantum leaps, swirling synthesizer arpeggios, backwards guitars with no hint of retrogradation.
The eight songs on “Under Pressure” were recorded in Von Spar’s Dumbo Studio in Cologne, with guests from Toronto, Tokyo, New York, London and Nashville adding noteworthy contributions. As on “Streetlife”, the formative voice belongs to Chris A. Cummings alias Marker Starling. His distinctive falsetto graces over half of the songs, asking: “Is there a cure for this / Unhappiness, happiness?”
On the opening track, Cummings is joined by Eiko Ishibashi (Kafka's Ibiki, Jim O'Rourke, Merzbow) in a Japanese dream sequence exploring where they might get to if the shackles of the flesh are cast off. Punk and reggae professor Vivien Goldman (The Flying Lizards) picks up the thread and liberates herself from the ghosts of the past on “Boyfriends (Dead Or Alive)”. Lætitia Sadier (Stereolab) sings on the album’s kraut-pop hit “Extend The Song” which could run and run for ever, powered by motoric energy: “If someone would ask me / Could I go on?””
A’dam’s Tom Rejig aka Tracey opens Dial’s 2019 account with an inquisitive debut album of sweetly decayed, off-kilter electronica and low key, supple, grooving hustle that falls neatly in line with the label’s charming style
“In the tradition of established Dial artists such as Lawrence, Roman Flugel and Efdemin, Tracey’s immediately apparent strength is an almost supernatural ability to conjure affecting and memorable melodies with minimalist intent, often just utilising the raw textures of his machines.
From album-opener ‘THRRVL’, Tracey tracks the initially gentle undulations of his studio seemingly waking to life, plotting a neat melodic shuffle on ‘TRR’ and then, by, ‘CCLRT’, something dense, trippy and yearning. From hereon in, ‘Biostar’ plots an intriguing course through hypnotic, clockwork crunch (‘THWRD’), to Drexciyan submersion (‘HDRCSTCS’) and rhythmic experimentation on ‘PHTCPHRK’.
Some of the more affecting moments on ‘Biostar’ emerge from it’s more obtuse sections; ‘DTFNK’ deciphers a surprisingly catchy melody among waves of scrambled signals, while the initially skittish ‘DRMRBT’ blossoms into an electro lullaby at 126bpm. By the arrival of wistful closing track ‘CLSTLBNG’, listeners are likely to emerge content from the deepest exploration yet of Tracey’s unique analogue ecosystem.”
Alva Noto’s 2000 debut album ‘Prototypes’ is finally, officially available to download for the first time, with a bonus track to boot.
Upon its release, ‘Prototypes’ marked a new high water mark of precision tooled electronic minimalism. Recorded 1999-2000 in Berlin, it morphed inspiration from sculptural work by Austrian artist Walter Pichler, known for his radical architectural work, into a series of ultra sparse, spacious arrangements of icy rhythmic pointillism, dense subbass, and barely there tonal presences for the Mille Plateaux label.
19 years (jeeeeez it’s never that long?!) later the album still sounds exceptional. It’s patently a product of the glitch era, yet future-proofed by its meticulously minimalist, near-elemental approach to the fundamentals of sound and music. Carsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto’s solo music has remained mostly minimalist ever since, but has taken on some more fleshly body over the years, leaving ‘Prototype’ as a skeletal Ur-text reminder of where he and electronic music have been and gone over the past 2 decades.
Like a rare comet, Suicide and Talking Heads producer Craig Leon returns nearly 40 years after his ‘Nommos’ and ‘Visiting’ LPs with their widescreen conceptual follow-up; ‘Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol.2: The Canon’. Apparently John Malkovich makes an appearance too...
Comprising all new material recorded over the past 2 years, and made using similar technology and tekkers as his ‘80s classics, Leon’s sequel finds him riff deeper on the cosmic lore of Mali’s Dogon tribe of Mali, whose exhibition of art at the Brooklyn Museum in 1973 first inspired him to make ‘Nommos’; a visionary piece of NYC’s new wave/downtown puzzle released by John Fahey’s Takoma, which has re-emerged among the most crucial, revelatory reissues of this decade via everywhere from Volcanic Tongue to Superior Viaduct, and RVNG Intl’s deluxe ‘Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol.2’.
The ‘Nommos’ Leon refers to are part of the Dogon tribe’s creation myth revolving visitations by an amphibious alien race from the white dwarf Sirius B who came to impart their wisdom on humankind. Resonating with then prevailing new age thought and conceptually pre-echoing Rashad Becker’s ‘Traditional Music For Notional Species’, the project sincerely speaks to electronic music’s ideals of transcendence, both (meta)physical and spiritual, beautifully employing the use of synthesis as a means of divination and hyperstition,
‘The Canon’ leads directly on from ‘Nommos’ and ‘Visitation’, tracing the alien knowledge/arithmetic/energy’s journey from Mali to Egypt and Greece in a narrative arc that unfolds like a map for inner exploration, coursing from the ceremonial chorale of ‘The Earliest Trace’ thru glyphic drum communications in ‘The Respondent in Dispute’, and the panoramic beauty of ‘Four Floods of the Point’, before opening the tantalising wormhole of ‘The Gates Made Plain’, and atomically diffusing into ether with ‘Departure’.
Including contributions from folk sorceress Cassell Webb and apparently even John Malkovich in there, somewhere, the results are worth the wait for any believers who look for signs in the skies.
Including two pieces premiered for first time, ’Chamber Music: Alvin Lucier & Morton Feldman’ highlights contrasts and mutualities in the pioneering music of 20th century avant-garde titans Alvin Lucier & Morton Feldman through a compilation curated by Anthony Burr and Charles Curtis, who have previously worked on production for both artists. Lovers of quiet minimalism will be in their element with this suite, spanning nearly 50 years of recordings by two artist musicians whose influence has shaped generations after them, and continues to resonate throughout many forms of minimalist modern classical and the avant-garde.
““For Feldman, dynamics serve an acoustical function. When he mitigates a piano attack he reduces that spike of noise that’s at the onset of every piano sound leaving only the sinusoidal pure after-sound. It’s as if he invented electronic music with the piano.” Alvin Lucier from liner notes.
“Lucier manages to hear a layer of acoustical physics in Feldman’s music that perhaps no one else would hear. He’s hearing something in Feldman that is actually coming from his own musical world; in a way, hearing his own music in Feldman’s, and drawing inspiration from that.”
More of the drum, the whole drum, and nowt but the drum from Andrew Field-Pickering’s Dolo Percussion - packing four new hotshots alongside all cuts from his preceding trio of 12”s
Holding 16 shots of rhythmic heat in total, ‘Dolo 4’ is the project’s definitive release following from a highly sought-after L.I.E.S. debut and further volumes divvied between his Future Times and The Trilogy Tapes, which are all coveted by righteous DJs and dancers.
If we could show ya, we’d do an interpretative dance to try and describe each groove, but we’d all look like tits so suffice it to say there’s some proper wrigglers, sidewinders, brukkers and freakers on board, each making scintillating use of the drums’ cadence as instructional rhythmelody for interpretation by limbs and torsos.
Across the set traces of house in its myriad forms - from Jersey to Chicago - tesselate with tropes from Afro-Cuban, jungle, Washington Go-Go and old skool hip hop styles in stripped down, skeletal styles just gagging to drive a club wild. In the set’s final four previously unreleased bits however he allows a more judicious use of FX, resulting some squirmy acidic bass in the slinky carillon shimmy of ’Dolo 13’, the spidery trails of ‘Dolo 14’, and in the decaying contrails of ‘Dolo 15’, and quite noticeably on the rude aerial architecture of ‘’Dolo 16’.
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.”
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.”
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."
A music project featuring a specifically design half-tonne double bell, an array of rare percussion and two highly virtuosic percussionists.
"Dominic Murcott is a composer, percussionist, curator and educator based in London. Much of his work combines acoustic instruments with computers, film and other media. He has a continuing interest in work that is personalised for specific performers and has created acoustic/electronic pieces for trumpeter Noel Langley, percussionist Joby Burgess, clarinetist Joan Enric Lluna, harpist Sioned Williams and the Elysian String Quartet among many others. He has taken an unusual path to his current position, starting out as a self taught musician, his early career included playing drums with no-wave pioneers 'Blurt' and composing for the highly successful V-Tol Dance Company throughout their ten-year history. Changing from drums to vibraphone he became a member of art-pop band The High Llamas and has played on records by many influential artists including Stereolab and Pavement.
Created in collaboration with sculptor Marcus Vergette, The Harmonic Canon is both the name of the piece and the double bell that was custom-made for it. Comprising of two bells tuned a semitone apart, the bell was created using Finite Element Analysis, a type of structural analysis that determines the vibration patterns of the bell, manipulating its harmonic series to create a complex series of frequencies that make up a note. Part One is made up of rapid, high energy, virtuosic passages, articulated with the ominous striking of the bell while the second part contrasts with a single resonant tone that evolves and shifts over time. This is part of nonclassical's 21 Minutes series, a new project commissioning 21-minute pieces.
The piece won the BASCA British Composer Award for Solo or Duo. Premiered in 2018, the piece has had radio play on BBC Radio 3, broadcast from Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival."
American hardcore punk veterans plug in a drum machine and vent their worries about modernity. If you don’t like this check out Holly Herndon’s ‘Proto’ album, and vice-versa
“Technology was meant to be humanity’s tool to combat famine, disease, confusion, and to facilitate life, culture, and innovation. Instead, we’re mired in a digital labyrinth that few care to navigate or even solve. Perhaps it’s not a ruse and the matrices coded by keyboard maestros are a path to liberation, but without querying the constructs we cannot ruminate on their affectations on humanity.
VR SEX are audio/visual provocateurs who transpose the identifiers of death rock, synth punk, post-punk, ambient, and ethereal soundscapes into an audit on technology and its imprint on our collective psyche. Comprised of visionary mercenaries Noel Skum (Andrew Clinco of Drab Majesty), Z. Oro (Aaron Montaigne of Antioch Arrow/Heroin/DBC) on vocals and drums, and Mico Frost (Brian Tarney) on synths and electric bass.
Their debut tome, Human Traffic Jam, focuses on lyrical themes that probe the possibilities of loss of autonomy through social media, the decline of human interaction, and celebrity favoritism. Skum believes in the stabilization of society and preservation of our planet by reducing its amount of procreators.
Through PSRS or Procreation Simulation Reproduction Stimulation, humans can act on their hedonistic desires and not face the responsibilities and consequences that come with being an ill-prepared guardian. The future of our offspring will exist in virtual realms and population growth in turn will be stabilized. VR SEX is the cure to most societal ills.
Thematically condensed into an eight song album, Human Traffic Jam was written and demoed by Skum in a flat in Athens, Greece during the winter of 2017. During a rigorous week long session at Figure 8 studios with experimental and dimensional production extraordinaire Ben Greenberg (Uniform/The Men), Skum solely committed all the instrumentation present on Human Traffic Jam.
Rather than being emblematic of influences, each song on the LP infuses a dire tension that cuts shimmer with fetid frequencies, never establishing an aural hierarchy or urgency. Instead, we’re lead into punchy capsules of “dour pop”; the balance of saccharine and sour so emblematic of the VR SEX hive mind.”
French modern-classical quartet astrïd return with the first part of a new release entitled A Porthole.
"Conceptually the two records work in unison, focusing on portholes into the abyss, with part one delving into the depths of the deep sea. The tracks are named after various strains of seaweed, the artwork depicting dark waves and uncertainty. Part two will follow in a years time and will turn its attention to the night sky and constellations.
A Porthole continues astrïd’s signature style of billowing guitars, strings and woodwind. Each element intertwined with another, linked perfectly together through restrained jazz-tinged percussion. 2017’s highly-acclaimed release ‘Through the Sparkle’ with renowned pianist Rachel Grimes (of Rachels) set the bar extremely high for this release but astrïd have matched the depth, melody and quality of that record here.
Part one of this journey features some sublime compositions with Cyril Secq’s expressive and bold guitar playing carrying the pieces into chamber music territory, joined seamlessly by a variety of other instruments that swell and soar and fit perfectly into the story being told. Everything seems to have its place, nothing is overplayed or out of step here, there is an organic nature to the way this quartet plays and interacts with one another as melodies circle back and fade away in the same beautiful breath.
A Porthole is a deeply charming record, exercising glorious, nuanced refrain and offering a sort of hope rarely found in music these days.”
‘Birmingham Frequencies’ is Biosphere and Bobby Bird’s atmospheric reading of the Brummy pulse at the turn of the millennium
Recorded in 1999 and released in 2000, the CD album explores intersections of location recordings with filigree ambient tones between dual poles of rugged, range-finding dub and exquisitely burnished, Lynch/ Badalamenti soundtrack styles to present a portrait of Birmingham that’s much more romantic and dreamy than you may imagine, especially if you know the place.
20 years later, the album effectively marks a midway point between original, late ‘70s/early ‘80s ambient pioneers and the modern field. It trades in a mixture of crisply polished, well established, classical ambient notions that reflect foundational forms by Eno and Hassell, and a strain of more technoid investigation that’s perhaps prescient of producers such as uon or Pendant.
Ruggedly diverse dance pressure toggling the meter between deft downstrokes, tribalist percolators, and 4th world cyber vibes compatible with Tolouse Low Trax, Low Jack, Ramzi
“Panagiotis Melidis is a singer-songwriter also known as Larry Gus on DFA Records, and Stathis Kalatzis is a techno mainstay formerly known as Mr. Statik. Together they are Territroy, and this spring they release their debut album, Skulls & Plants, on Dekmantel’s UFO label.
The duo has a very specific starting point for their music, and that is the AGET Heracles Cement Factory Plant in Volos, Magnisia, Greece: You’re climbing the Goritsa Hill and the moment you get to the top, you look over to the sea view, but the cement factory dominates the landscape. It lays there almost like a window into the future, where nature, corporate ethos, plant and stone based materials and biochemical extensions all exist as one. The factory is a metaphor that processes the land itself, ignites it in a cancerous way then dumps it into the sea and the atmosphere. It’s a combination of all possible scenarios of optimism and negativity, the essence of trying to do the best for everyone, but accidentally killing everyone in the process.
That contrasting duality is mirrored in Territroy. Each half comes from two separate worlds: graphic novels vs illustration, literature vs empty pages, the functionality and the sheer craft of sculpting sound into feeling vs taking that feeling and analysing it until it no longer exists. More simply put, it is a sports field that is a basketball court at one side and a football pitch at the other, but somehow everyone finds a way to play the same sport, even though one uses his hands and the other his feet.
When one half of Territroy starts a phrase, the other one finishes it, but they speak different languages, and will never be sure if the finished sentence is technically correct, even though they can be certain that it’s definitely finished. What ties them is a constant rhythmic element that is persistent and comes from growing up in Greece and absorbing the rhythmic specificities of Southern Europe and unique Mediterranean attitudes. Importantly, there is also a lot that separates the pair. The result is music that brings together two very different personalities and perspectives but allows them both to coexist, intertwine and unfold in untold new ways.”
Amsterdam’s Knekelhuis survey the enigmatic mystic electronics of Germany’s Wolfgang Reffert aka Dark Star at the cusp of the ‘90s.
Compiled from tapes and a CD self-released by the artist 1989-1992, the music feels torn between ages, cold-fusing cosmic disco synth thrust Carpenter-style electro motifs and colder EBM/industrial impulses for a timelessly slow, cinematic and moody appeal.
“Deep-frozen for many decades, something is on the verge of being released from obscurity. Dark Star is the project of Wolfgang Reffert (Ger). In the late '80s through the early '90s he released a couple of albums that invoke the darkness of infinite space. Clearly influenced by '60s and '70s sci-fi, the mechanical grooves and spiraling synths bring to mind the worlds of Alien, The Forbidden Planet and Solaris.
Utilizing a less is more aesthetic, Dark Star breathtakingly soundtracked space travel to far away galaxies like no other. Rhythmic postpunk drums lay the foundation for slow, down-tuned spacerock that goes deep into industrial proto-techno-like territory, while always maintaining a sense of groove.
Resurrected from the days of yesteryear, Dark Star once again re-imagines the eternal harshness and emptiness surrounding spaceship Earth. Cyborgs, extraterrestrials and genetically modified creatures rejoice on the dancefloor!”
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.