Hanz rakes over vintage hip hop, post punk and industrial ground with a cineaste’s eye to locate new mutations in the undergrowth of Plasty I, the North Carolina, US artist’s follow-up to the Reducer  LP for Tri Angle.
Lodging somewhere between the ears of BAT, a lo-fi MBM and the asymmetric designs of Co La, Plasty I breaks down to a ruffcut patchwork of processed and sawn-off samples wrapped up in dream-like electronic atmospheres and laced with a trippy experimental edge.
It’s pretty much a 2017 answer to the more frayed fringes of UK trip hop and NYC illbient vibes.
Maudlin post punk influences swaddled in hyaline, brambly electronics. One for grey days with loads of rollies
"Circuit Breaker are a band split in half. On the one hand, there is the jagged guitar and maudlin singing of Peter Simpson, which slots into the lineage of expansive and gothic punk ala Killing Joke , Bauhaus , Wire ,etc. Pushing against it is the production approach of his brother Edward. Washes of glassy FM Synth melodies are counterbalanced with bursts of electronic harshness, recalling artists such as Autechre & Pan Sonic. “Hands Return To Shake” is the second full length from the London based group and also their second release for longstanding outlier label Harbinger Sound.
Moving on from the previous record, “My Descent Into Capital”, “Hands Return…” is a much more personal and emotive work. Simultaneously a re-affirmation and a deconstruction of influences, the orthodoxies of minimal-synth and post-punk are stretched and squeezed to breaking point. Circuit Breaker are a band who relish in holding together contradictions. Both a rock band and an electronic act , they have a blunt and direct production approach which, nether-the-less, is full of technical detail. ‘Hands Return To Shake’ will likely win them fans from a vast array of genres, from Industrial-Rock to IDM and everything in-between, providing it is dark, synthetic and angular.”
Hidden Operator and Samo DJ indulge a rugged digi dub session on Kings Chamber
Four wonky dancehall sidewinders ranging from natty acid dub and Skweee-like bumps to ruddier dancehall mutation with sloshing tablas, and one wicked bit sounding like late ‘90s Lenky productions.
Funked-up, colourful Detroit electro, acid and house styles from Amsterdam’s Tom Ruijg aka Tracey, back on Voyage Direct to prove his 2017 debut, the Skyfall EP was no fluke.
While titled after a fine bit of Italian engineering, the Testarossa EP is patently indebted to 313 mechanics, with four tracks nodding firmly in the direction of Drexciya (Testarossa), Omar S (Sidekick), Juan and Derrick (Made My Love), and the Keith Tucker-Ultradyne-Stringray electro axis (Interceptor).
Second in an EP trilogy that will culminate with a compilation CD and a limited edition vinyl box set containing all three EPs
"Harkening back to their 1997 release of three consecutive EPs (Dog On Wheels, Lazy Line Painter Jane, and 3.. 6.. 9 Seconds Of Light), Belle and Sebastian will release three new EPs under the umbrella title How To Solve Our Human Problems, with the first EP coming out on December 8th, the second on January 19th, and the third on February 16th"
A marriage made in dub house heaven, the Accumulate EP is 1st in a series of collaborations between Fluxion and Rod Modell aka Deepchord, to be released via the former’s Vibrant Music label.
Converging from subtle differing yet wholly compatible angles, Deepchord & Fluxion’s Transformations duo explore an elegantly widescreen sound that sounds familiar, yet remarkably altered and uncharted in either artist catalogue.
Layered from fathomless bass pads and swooning string figures, Accumulate runs to just shy of 25 minutes across the two sides, with the 13 minute Pt.1 subliminally flowing and expanding across into Pt.2 in such a lush, hypnotic manner that you’ll almost be irked at having to get up and flip the disc, but then you’ll just flop back and restart the zoot and ride out into its diaphanous, dusky sunset.
Redshape cuts rug with swaggering style via the razor cut but splashy drums and pendulous bass work of Blink
Strongly owing to an enduring passion for the hi-tek funk of original Chicago and Detroit house and techno, whereas the Blink (Tunnel Mix) is a dedication to the Tunnel Club in Paris, and works to a more linear, sexy sort of Franco-Teutonic darkness.
Mississippi Records make Marisa Anderson’s woozily enchanting instrumental solo guitar suite Traditional and Public Domain Songs available again on vinyl.
Packing two new pieces that were on the CD release but not the original LP, namely the Portland artist’s takes on Amazing Grace and Bread and Roses - a must for any followers of solo desert blues from Earth to Sun City Girls!
Limber jazz house mini-LP from Italy’s Nicholas
Following a fine line of jazzy deep house from the warm Rhodes keys and woozy sax melt of Lonnie’s Reprise at the front, thru the rolling percussive hustle of Dhalia and the moody blue bumps of Rara Lake, to the paste-on spiritual sample of Answer and show-off latin fusion flex in Resolution feat. keys by Paul Cut.
True Detroit original Marcellus Pittman (3 Chairs, Rotating Assembly) makes up for his radio silence since 2014 with two twysts on bustling, tracky jackers templates dispensed thru his Unirhythm label.
One of those 313 cats who hears jazz, house and techno as indivisible aspects of the same thing, Pittman puts that style into practice with the crafty as fuck, off-the-cuff drum machine and bassline calculations of Revenge For Nothing, juicing his groove to death with wicked stop-start patterns and sparing FX that sounds something like Larry Heard caught in a tumble dryer with Beatrice Dillon.
With Red Dogon Star on the B-side Pittman pushes a wonkier, spaced-out permutation of Afro-cubist house, synching inimitably grubbing acid bass and percolated drums in hypnotic pattern gilded with golden synth pads. A subtle masterclass in minimalist efficiency with body ready results.
Nous prove their undeniable knack at picking out new talent with this six track showcase introducing Ayln, D104, Agxp, Gaunt, Sweat, and Dreams to their rarified fold, with many making their debut on record.
Make sure to check it for those debuts, particularly Agxp’s tentative first outing on the weightless acid stepper Spells, and likewise Gaunt with the trippy space techno mission Univers Univers, while Sweat also give a cool account of themselves with the rolling techno chassis of Shalbatana, and Dreams follow their nose down druggily hypnotic house ginnels.
The spiralling arps and faulty techno thrusters of Alyn’s Translinguistics and D104 rogue, thuggish Muta are cool, too.
Synkro diversifies his bonds into blue half step and downtempo modes on Hand In Hand
Sweetly exercising his signature melancholic touch between the pastoral flutes and half step sway of Vanishing Point, the slow-motion Chuck Person/0PN vibes of Hand In Hand for chromatic sunset washes, and Burial-esque senhsucht in red Sky.
Proper Italo-boogie peacockery from Tuffcitykid Philip Lauer on the A-side’s acid-etched roller Arumba, and the preening ace Prosito
Backed with The Golden Filter on a fidgety electro tip with Aya, and muscular, haughty house in Black Spray.
London’s K15 turns on the funk for Eglo with an infectious hustle in his foolow-up to 12”s for Kyle Hall’s Wild Oats and a Mr. G link-up.
Classically rooted in latin, jazz, house and soul in the same way as late ‘90s broken beat, the EP turns out three gems between the heads-down bustle and glyde of Sunbeams, an uptempo shot of broken beat and smudged jazz chromatics in Starburst 3, then on a hot-stepping slow-fast flex with the slick fusion feels of Esencia.
One of Berceuse Heroique’s most reliable troopers plays into a deeper vein of bass-driven techno-house for the stalwart underground label after deposits made with Hemlock, Peder Mannerfelt Productions, Clone Basement and Livity Sound in just the last 12 months alone.
In Hodge’s now signature style of gritty groove control, he tees off with the furtive bleep techno rolige of Beneath Two Moons, reinforced 1990-style bleeps with muscular bass until a steaming siren/train sound shifts it up a gear to hypnotic drones and flying hi-hats ready for the Dj to mix out.
On the other hand, There Is A Storm Coming In lives up to its title with a tense, brooding display of industrial EBM influences, and Don’t Hold Your Breath tucks the vibe somewhere to the left of Levon Vincent and the right of Call Super with raw but classy strings and heaving subbass, before the beatless All Is Not Lost fades to close.
Berceuse Heroique rifle Black Merlin’s Archives for some proper techno ammunition on his follow-up to the superb Proto World 12”.
There’s spacehead fuel inside, taking flight with tense arpeggios in Agro, then locking into gear with the powerful techno traction of Shock and the set-jaw cosmic drive of 12515 to complete the 1st plate.
On the 2nd disc, he eazes off the gas to go into cruise control on an ‘80s FM synth mission called The Alpaca Pet Boys, recalling a mix of La Rolls’ Sure Is meets the intro of Jamal Moss’ FGTH edit, then comes into sight of lush parallel rave dimensions with the purring mid-tempo élan and cosmic yawn pads of Laz.
A beautiful, then-and-now document of banging Japanese folk traditions featuring one side recorded in 1982, and the same pieces performed in 2017, recorded and mixed by Sugai Ken, whose recent LPs for RVNG Intl are a farther, electronic extension of Japanese tradition
“EM Records is proud to present, following “Yumi Kagura” the second edition of the Japanese folklore music series, directed by Riyo Mountains. Japan has a long tradition of annual pre-harvest summer dance festivals, known as Bon-Odori festivals, which continues to this day. One of the longest-running of these festivals is the Sakai Ishinage Odori festival, taking place in Sakai town, Saitama, north of Tokyo.
Unlike some festivals which function as tourist attractions for domestic and international visitors, this festival is resolutely local, with no professional performers, the music being passed down from generation to generation, played by local men and woman ranging in age from elementary school students to senior citizens. With percussion, massed flutes and vocals, this is a vital, living music, a sort of minimal disco born in the rice fields, agricultural “industrial” music, low-tech hard techno. Available on CD and vinyl, this release features 1982 recordings, plus 2017 versions of the same pieces recorded and mixed by Sugai Ken.”
Back in print for 1st time in years, Scott Walker’s starkly funereal Tilt is the first in a seminal trilogy of LPs which was completed with The Drift  and Bish Bosch . Upon its European release in 1995, Tilt, Walker’s 12th solo studio LP, was also his first release in eleven years, and found the arch avant-pop songwriter pursuing the mix of industrial, rock and classical in Climate Of Hunter  much farther down the rabbit hole, achieving a distinguished sound which can easily be mistaken as electronic, but is remarkably, entirely acoustic, orchestral.
Few artists work is harder to get a grasp on than Scott Walker. From beginnings as a teen idol, then as frontman of ’60s pop trio The Walker Brothers, thru the subsequent, change of direction with Climate Of Hunter, and his modern avant-garde masterpieces, Walker’s oeuvre is practically unparalleled in its diversity, which requires some effort of behalf of the listener to really join all the dots.
However, the one constant theme throughout Walker’s recordings is that baritone vocal, alternately booming, crooning and lamenting depending the song, and giving life to his lyrics in the manner of some ancient, spellbinding bard relaying tales from the brink. It’s a voice that has unmistakably lived, and evokes life in the richest colours.
Of course, life would be nothing without contrast, and that’s where Walker’s genius really comes into play on Tilt, as a lone, detached presence echoing against backdrops ranging from the grandiose, panoramic, operatic and cinematic, mostly thanks to strings by London Sinfonietta, to moments of utter, stark despair and bellicose militancy, often in the space of a single song.
If you’ve ever been intrigued by Walker’s indomitable body of work, including collaborations with Sunn 0))) and song-writing credits for Bat For Lashes, we thoroughly recommend immersing in Tilt and following your nose into the abyss.
Necessary vinyl reissue of Molly Nilsson’s hard-to-find 2013 debut for Night School - a filigree, lo-fi blend of aloof vocals with naif, nagging pop chops in most beguiling manner
“The Travels represents a signpost in the continuing journey that is the songs of Berlin-based artist Molly Nilsson.
Journeys offer change - the possibility of renewal - and accordingly on The Travels Molly Nilsson’s resonant voice is found curling around a new sense of optimism and wide-eyed discovery that was only alluded to in her previous work. Songs like “Dear Life” might be spiked with a barbed sense of the dejected, but the presiding feeling is one of optimism, of being in love with life despite a shield of cynicism. “Dirty Fingers” brings a melancholy recognisable from previous work but with an incessant beat and ecstatic underpinning it becomes apparent that a new force is at play here. In case the listener missed it, “The Power Ballad” brings an endearing, sincerity to proceedings that also offers a tantalising question: can you be sceptical about love but still be bewitched?
On her 5th long-player, Nilsson’s perspective is challenged and manipulated by changes in environment and psychological space: like any other traveller the protagonist brings their own set of values and emotional states and new places, colouring them with a wash of subjectivity. Like any other traveller Molly Nilsson reacts to her environment and shares her unique version of it to other people.
Based loosely on Marco Polo’s “Travels” and reading like a map of the protagonist’s geographical and inner journey, The Travels reveals new places and new emotions that are never the same to the beholder. Nilsson’s art is in turning this subjectivity into a cloak that almost anyone can don for the trip.”
Lebanese guitarist Fadi Tabbal renders a shimmering dreamworld of hallucinatory structures and ambient panoramas in the gauzy gaze of ‘Museum of Disappearing Buildings’, which now appears on Portland, OR’s Beacon Sound after an under-the-radar digital release in 2015, replete with two big highlights in the keening harmonics of ‘Wandering Turtle In a Maze of a Big Ciy’ and the awe-inspiring, trance-inducing flux of ‘Crystal Palace’. RIYL the towering cloud cities of Popol Vuh, the windswept grit of Fennesz, or Forest Swords’ at his most wistful
“Fadi Tabbal, lead guitarist with Lebanese psychedelic rock band The Incompetents and various other alternative outfits, releases his second solo album, “Museum of Disappearing Buildings”, in November 2015. This album continues further the work of sound exploration through guitar treatments, which began with “On the Rooftop Looking Up” in 2013.
While the young guitarist’s first album featured a finely-devised interaction of ambient soundscapes and John Fahey-inspired finger-picking acoustic meanderings, this second solo outing adopts a different approach: it relies on an interplay of ambient guitar drones and grainy electronics, which recalls to a degree the work of early Krautrock vanguard artists from the 1970’s, the leftfield exploration of British electro-acoustic practitioners from the mid-1970’s, as well as the radical works of American minimalistic composers from the 1960’s.
Similarly to his first outing, Tabbal preferred a radical and direct approach to composition and recording, opting for the intimacy and self-reflection of home recordings, rather than the traditional environment of a recording studio. At the heart of the album, resides one unifying concept, which finds its way into the resulting musical bed: the sketches and impossible structures and urban configurations of Russian paper architects Brodsky and Utkin.”
Veronica Vasicka and Karl O’Connor (Regis) unleash a handful of secret weapons as The Floor on Minimal Wave following their blink ‘n miss debut flexidisc 7" The Desire  for Downwards, and an outing with Oliver Ho’s Death & Leisure in summer 2017.
As The Floor, they enhance two mutual Minimal Wave favourites for the dance, firstly giving Five Times of Dust’s Computer Bank a prodding reboot, coolly accentuating the proto-techno potential of its driving mono-rhythm and cascading bleeps with lean, deadly effect, before returning attentions to Tara Cross & Unovidual’s Like I Am Comme Je Suis, highlighting its brittle jack beat, beaky synth pecks and shrill synths for bruxist effect.
If that wasn’t enough, the 12" also features two previously unreleased gems from the MW archive. A-side you’ll catch the steaming Armoured Car by Five Times of Dust’s Rob Lawrence in solo mode - think Warm Leatherette with an ultimate death wish - while Unovidual and Tara Cross’ Imponative cuts a darker instrumental swagger across the B-side.
2017 repress of Walhalla Records’ class 2nd volume of Underground Belgian Wave rarities, all making their vital first appearance on vinyl, mostly a generation after their original release on some of Belgium’s hardest-to-find tapes.
Volume 2 is perhaps bets known for including the nifty Berntholer rarity Toys, and also features some big highlights in the likes of Autumns’ slippery synth-pop bubbler Synthesise, and two bullets from almost-rans Tangible Joy, namely the rocket fuel of Move and the swirling disco jakbeat Some Say I’m Drunk (But I’m Only In Love), alongside Eliza Waut’s etheric beauty Summary Of All My Dreams.
If you’ve been following Minimal Wave, Dark Entries, Mannequin Records, or STROOM 〰 in recent years, you need to check this one ,too.
Despite the break, this album can be seen as a direct follow-on from his previous Drag City albums - most closely resembling 1997's Bad Timing given its lack of vocals and the continuous passages of steel-strung acoustic guitar-led arrangements.
This all adds up to a seriously exciting release; Jim's cycle of Drag City albums (this being the first not to take its name from successive Nicolas Roeg films - following that logic this one should have been called Castaway) is one of the most revered bodies of work in American alternative rock. As this latest addition to that canon starts up, one of the very first things to strike you is that the production and mixing are undertaken in a fashion that is (to say the least) highly unusual by today's standards.
Seldom do you hear so much dynamic breadth in a contemporary record; this is not one of those releases that's had every ounce of life compressed out of it, instead O'Rourke leaves the quiet parts quiet and the loud parts... marginally less quiet. This is an album that's made according to old-fashioned principles, presented with vintage levels of clarity and warmth that benefit from being turned up for full appreciation. A decent amount of cranking will reveal countless layers of instrumental threads, and according to the great man himself there are around two hundred tracks used up in the recording of The Visitor - and that's two hundred tracks he's played himself. Given the long break, it's easy to forget just how brilliant a musician O'Rourke is; his production skills (as demonstrated on records by Wilco, Sonic Youth, John Fahey and Joanna Newsom among many others) are well documented, but since 2001 it'd be all too easy to think of O'Rourke's musical output as being restricted to occasional drone pieces, or the odd film soundtrack here and there for pals like Werner Herzog and Olivier Assayas.
The Visitor is a comeback of heroic proportions however - an auditory feast featuring acres of guitars, immaculately pieced together percussion elements, and all kinds of subtle yet elaborate arrangements for strings, horns and keyboard instruments. John Mulvey really hit the nail on the head when he recently described this as "a kind of folk symphony, a heavenly realisation of modern composition rescored for Laurel Canyon habitués", and it certainly feels every bit as substantial and gratifying as that assessment alludes. Don't leave it so long next time, please Mr O'Rourke.
Drag City reissue O'Rourke's timeless fusion of Bossa-pop, folk, classic rock and jazz.
"Here's another few sides of long-ago and far-away Jim O'Rourke back on vinyl for the first time since way back. It's the 'Halfway To A Threeway' 12" back to set turntables a-spinnin'. Fans of his 'Eureka' and 'Insignificance' albums (not to mention Jim's tomfoolery as part of the Loose Fur band) will appreciate the analogue pressing of these four cuts of the pop music party-pooper combination of folk, classic rock, smooth jazz and a bit of the avant-garde to help communicate the twisted ways of the misanthrope that made Jim such a perennial int he fickle world of record sales.
A quick listen to the title track exposes our sweet soul-crusher as a lustful man-beast on the make. The song is a straight folk number. Straight, that is, until you listen through the haze of those 6 string overtones and chirpy harmony vocals to hear the true perversity of O'Rourke's fantasies. The whole record's a blast, and it hasn't really aged that much in the eleven-odd years since it first emerged."
He's alive!!! And can he sing! Could this be the world's first experimental MOR album? Nah, but time will tell whether or not it is the most supreme. Wackos of the world, take over.
Jim here creates his own personal brand of progressive pop music the likes of which have only ever been hinted at or nodded towards by past artists. From Bacharach to Fahey with several unpredictable trajectories in between....
Anthony Child (Surgeon) and Daniel Bean (Spiritland) generate gusty electronic folk drones resonating somewhere between La Monte Young and Coil...
“The title of the debut lp from The Transcendence Orchestra outlines the modus operandi of this pairing of Anthony Child and Daniel Bean. Recorded in a remote English rural setting over a period of 24 hours this is an apt location for a recording that eschews time and space in favour of methodological displacement and deep psychological navigation.
Modern Methods For Ancient Rituals is an experiment in acoustic and synthetic symbiosis which is deeply influenced by the atmosphere and acoustics of the rural location of Cats Abbey resulting in a set of recordings which can aid to the transformation of consciousness. Deploying a range of ancient and modern instruments and effects including Buchla Music Easel, harmonium, shruti box, bass guitar, hurdy gurdy, Electro Harmonix 45000, Strymon Blue Sky and Roland RE 101 Space Echo among others, Child and Bean conjure an audio experience which encapsulates elements of drone, trance, pulse, rhythm and melody subtly shifting all into a psychologically penetrating experience beyond the aesthetic and into the comforting unknown.
Written and recorded at Cats Abbey in November 2016 by Anthony Child and Daniel Bean.
Anthony and Daniel played the Buchla Music Easel, harmonium, shruti box, bass guitar, hurdy gurdy, symphonie, glockenspiel, hand bell, Electro Harmonix 45000, Strymon Blue Sky, Strymon DIG, and Roland RE 101 Space Echo.”
Invada present the soundtrack to Stranger Things 2, produced by S U R V I V E’s Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein.
Expect plenty shlocky ‘80s FM synth cues and themes bound to yank your nostalgia nozzle.
One of techno’s most prominent prism pushers follows work on Fever Ray’s 'Plunge' album to open 2018 with the masterful machine control of 'The 3D Printed Songbook', dispatched thru his Stockholm-based personal imprint.
In his highly personalised style of Scandinavian techno dub pressure, Mannerfelt pursues a signature blend of raved-up smarts with cutting-edge sound design into ever more curious, densely packed but spacious gestures on The 3D Printed Songbook by getting ever closer to grips with his elemental electronic material.
Where so much techno can feel like the work of a bored neek pushing blocks on a screen or effectively doing a colouring-in book, Mannerfelt is a sculptor who has picked techno and pure, abstract electronics as his medium, manifesting a sound which works just as well for those who appreciate the tactile sensuality of manipulated noise, as those who love dancing to irregular, warped rhythms and sensational tones.
Here, Mannerfelt blurs those distinctions and contradictions beautifully well, getting into gear with a pendulous but stuttering, sleek and jagged deep house/dancehall curl to open, before circling thru recoiling slow techno, heavy-lidded yet visceral ambient tones, to stripes of viking acid jack and the kind of depth charge dub techno that keeps Mika Vainio’s memory in earshot while unafraid to steer into new terrain.
BleeD’s yung American signings Archivist & Fugal coolly furnish the label with its strongest release yet in Undertow, rotating three tracks of menacing, entrancing deep techno backed by a steely Acronym remix.
Hailing from Seattle via Berlin, the pair have previously dispensed 12”s on secondnature and Seattle’s Medical Records en route to the Undertow 12”, which stretches out from sleek, gothic trance techno recalling an icier take on Prurient’s Through The Window on Being And Nothingness, to the drier big room boom and aqueous chords of Far Horizon, which also appears in a tunnelling Acronym remix, before passing out into the Milton Bradley-esque acidic modulations and steepled reverbs of Undertow.
Ekman comes back to bang on The Trilogy Tapes with a 3rd plate of raw, bloody-nosed electro knockers in Onomatomania after the Entropy (2014) and Aphasia (2015) sessions.
The dutch producer pull few punches between the harsh hydraulic electro-techno of Onomatomania 1, the biting point primitivism of Onomatomania 2, and the grimacing, brutish force of Onomatomania 3, saving the snap jawed acid of Onomatomania 4 to eat whatever’s left on yer bones.
MAGMA, one of the most influential of all French bands, compiled on this epic box set.
"The first ten years of MAGMA were celebrated on three memorable evenings in June 1980 at the Olympia theatre in Paris. This retrospective, reuniting most of the musicians who had performed in the group, was issued as two albums; the Retrospektïẁ I & II double-LP and Retrospektïẁ III LP. Issued first, Retrospektïẁ III comprises three titles. "Retrovision" is a long piece in the style of the album Attahk, in which the vocalists Stella Vander, Guy Khalifa, and Maria Popkiewicz turn in a blazing performance over a driving rhythm section. There is a supercharged version of "Hhai," in which the trio of Lockwood, Paganotti, and Widemann works miracles. And finally, "La Dawotsin," where, in a more muted register, the voice of Christian Vander triumphs through its mastery and profound sensibility.
Recorded, like Retrospektïẁ III, during the soirees at Olympia in June 1980, Retrospektïẁ I & II is an absolutely fundamental album in which "Theusz Hamtaahk" -- the first movement of the trilogy of the same name -- is presented for the first time. The second and third movements, "Wurdah Itah" and "Mekanik Destruktiw Komandoh," were of course already well known. Although played in concert since 1974, Christian Vander had waited for years before recording it for posterity as he wanted every note to be as beautiful, magical, essential and definitive as possible. It is with the same respect for his music that he releases here the most successful version of "Mekanik Destruktiw Komandoh," considered outstanding on account of two incredible improvisation from Bernard Paganotti and Didier Lockwood. Klaus Blasquiz, who did not perform on Retrospektïẁ III, is the lead vocalist on this version - and justifiably so, since he was indeed the MAGMA singer who first sang these two masterworks.
There's no doubt about it, MAGMA has left a legacy of music that defies any of the standard and convenient classifications of rock, operating instead in a realm of their own creation. Southern Lord looks forward to being part of their ever-evolving story…"
Not a band who ever do things by halves, this opus from Stars Of The Lid is a mammoth three disc set and is sublime for the entire duration.
You see, although some might level that Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride have really stuck to the same style since their inception, they have been moving steadily forward with each release and have gone from whispering post-shoegaze guitar drones to something altogether more grandiose.
It would be crass to describe the music as cinematic, but the first thing that strikes me about "And their Refinement of the Decline' is its similarity to the work of Zbigniew Preisner and specifically his work with film director Krzysztof Kieslowski. Stars of the Lid share Preisner's (and Kieslowski's) sense of restraint, minimalism and stark beauty without resorting to sentimentalism. What we have here is beautiful music in its rawest form - horns, strings and that haunting reverb-drenched guitar all perfectly placed and allowed time to breathe. Nothing here is rushed, you hear passages rise and fall gloriously, sounds make an entrance and slowly disappear and nothing ever dares to outstay its welcome.
Arvo Part, Gavin Bryars or Brian Eno would all be more than appropriate comparisons for this stunning collection of work, but Stars of the Lid are almost at the point where they defy comparison altogether. Of course they have introduced further, more overtly 'classical' elements into their mix but the music they are making is quite uniquely their own - they are one of those rare bands that has absolutely defined a sound. What we are hearing is frankly two musicians who are at the top of their game, sharing their carefully measured view of the world with us and allowing us a peek into musical perfection - and you really can't ask for anything more than that.
Leading on from a highly memorable debut collaboration, Crys Cole and Oren Ambarchi invite us farther into their shared world with Hotel Record, a poetic four-part suite of touchingly intimate and romantic themes framed in a surreally unique, aleatoric sound world, just as you’d be warranted to expect from this pair of esteemed sonic alchemists.
Recorded between Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand; Oakland, USA; Melbourne, Australia, and at EMS, Stockholm, Sweden, the sense of heavy-lidded intimacy is similar to Sonja Henies Vei 31, but found in a multiplicity of recording spaces and situations, each with their own subtle identity and appeal, and all generated from a broader palette of instrumentation and electronic production techniques.
The chorus of cicadas, scooter engines and croaking frogs in Pad Phet Gob is clearly located to nighttime in Thailand, but the rest are anyone’s guess. It’s better to just let yourself melt into their exquisite designs, such as the silky web of vocoder whispers and languorous subbass contained in Burrata, or likewise become absorbed in the gentle harmonic cadence of breathing organs tones and mottled, glossolalic murmurs in Call Myself, which ambiguously could be a sort of ASMR exercise, an encrypted document of phone sex or pillow talk, or something entirely else, all depending your disposition.
It all adds up to a patently more accessible, dreamy follow-up to their first LP together, and quite easily one of the most quietly seductive records you’ll hear from the abstract, ambient, electro-acoustic sphere this year - strongly tipped to fans of Félicia Atkinson’s Hand In Hand, Kassel Jaeger & Jim O’Rourke’s Wakes On Cerulean, or the new Teresa Winter side.
Slimzee’s OG grime label boomerangs back with badness from pivotal new wave player Boylan.
They’re both fucking lethal, riding big and bashy with search ’n destroy mentasms, hulking great subs and unflinchingly upfront sound design of Overlook, then trimming back to a molasses half step with the radioactive mid-range waves and Hermann-Esgque strings terror on They Mostly Come At Night.
Gully gang. It’s yours.
None-more-vital East African label Nyege Nyege Tapes present Otim Alpha’s melodic electro Acholi bangers on vinyl for the 1st time, following that blazing, acclaimed Sounds of Sisso compilation!
Alpha’s debut international release Gulu City Anthems features 11 songs written and recorded between 2004 and 2015 in Northern Uganda and ranges from hi-velocity bangers to more romantic mid-tempo swagger, all serving a totally infectious showcase of his plugged-in take on traditional Larakaraka wedding music that’s bound to get a lot of listeners itching for a +1 invite to one of his ceremonial sessions (crashing is always an option, too!).
Working with producer Leo Palayeng, Otim essentially computerises Acholi wedding music, weaving its traditional, see-sawing folk fiddles and call-and-response vocals with stripped, pounding drum machine polyrhythms in a sort of hypnotic, minimalist delirium. For the most part, it’s properly uptempo, with some searing highlights in the likes of his wickedly off-kilter jig Kodi Pa Barikiya (Kwan), the jabbing clash of almost cajun-style rapidfire riffs and turbo-charged toms in Toni G, or the Detroit/Chicago ghetto-compatible bang of Too Wiye Ming-Alphazo. But there’s also one super-charming piece called Agiki Ne Tye which works at a relatively leisurely 120bpm with strolling bass and bright, joyful chord cadence, presumably intended to allow the party a sweet breather.
Following Alpha’s recent, stellar introductory live show at Unsound ’17, this collection is set to impress his sound to eager ears beyond Uganda and the East African scene, and is surely destined to be lodged in record collections somewhere between your Shangaan, Konono No.1 and Caribbean soca faves - in other words; your party-starting section...
IDIB serve a belated, expanded 10th anniversary reissue of Chromatics’ Nite, including the title cut and instrumental backed with three new cinematic themes and cues.
Yet another pearl in Johnny Jewel’s velvet lined cabinet, Nite is a buttoned-up, shine-eyed disco ace pairing Lena Okazaki’s droll vocal over stealthy disco bass, eventually turning into a proper piece of post-punk disco delirium, ditto the instrumental but sans vocal, while Glass Slipper catches a slick fusion of Arabian Prince-style vocoder and Moroder-like bass arp.
The new cuts are ace, too. Birds Of Prey is a darkly evoctive instrumental vignette, whereas the heavy-lidded vox and spindly synths ’n strings of Sleepwalker wouldn’t sound out of place in a classic ‘80s horror, and the melancholy dream-pop of City Beds comes off like the accompaniment to some tear jerking break-up scene or loveless bed-hopping montage - take your pick.
Snotty punk slingshots from Sheffield’s Nachthexen - who emerge from the same quarters as Blood Sport with a compatible style of stomping drums pebble-dashed with looping guitars and synths
Offset by authentically late ‘70s-sounding punk vocals. Sounds like your mate’s mates’ band when you were 15, which perhaps explains the Seaford Mods support slots. Not a sausage between them, either.
Lakker’s Eomac gives it some swagger on the 1st 10” from Bedouin Records’ Bastikaya Tapes.
With One Spirit he trades in a sort of itchy, abraded 2-step techno alloyed with whirligig folk melody.
On Observe The Vessel Beneath You he reshapes that template to a scratchier swang embedded in etheric atmospheres, perhaps imagining Burial lost a souk after-hours.
22 years since Pygmalion and the band’s dissolution, Slowdive swoon back into earshot with Slowdive. With hearts bleeding all over their sleeves, Slowdive captures the sound of the band at their sunny best, with a renewed optimism and timeless dreaminess to fall right into.
““It felt like we were in a movie that had a totally implausible ending...”
Slowdive’s second act as a live blockbuster has already been rapturously received around the world. Highlights thus far include a festival-conquering, sea-of-devotees Primavera Sound performance, of which Pitchfork noted: “The beauty of their crystalline sound is almost hard to believe, every note in its perfect place.” “It was just nice to realise that there was a decent amount of interest in it,” says principal songwriter Neil Halstead. The UK shoegaze pioneers have now channelled such seemingly impossible belief into a fourth studio opus which belies his characteristic modesty. Self-titled with quiet confidence, Slowdive’s stargazing alchemy is set to further entrance the faithful while beguiling a legion of fresh ears.
Deftly swerving what co-vocalist/guitarist Rachel Goswell terms “a trip down memory lane”, these eight new tracks are simultaneously expansive and the sonic pathfinders’ most direct material to date. Birthed at the band’s talismanic Oxfordshire haunt The Courtyard – “It felt like home,” enthuses guitarist Christian Savill – their diamantine melodies were mixed to a suitably hypnotic sheen at Los Angeles’ famed Sunset Sound facility by Chris Coady (perhaps best known for his work with Beach House, one of countless contemporary acts to have followed in Slowdive’s wake). “It’s poppier than I thought it was going to be,” notes Halstead, who was the primary architect of 1995‘s previous full-length transmission Pygmalion. This time out the group dynamic was all-important. “When you’re in a band and you do three records, there’s a continuous flow and a development. For us, that flow re-started with us playing live again and that has continued into the record.”
Drummer and loop conductor Simon Scott enhanced the likes of ‘Slomo’ and ‘Falling Ashes’ with abstract textures conjured via his laptop’s signal processing software. A fecund period of experimentation with “40-minute iPhone jams” allowed the unit to then amplify the core of their chemistry. “Neil is such a gifted songwriter, so the songs won. He has these sparks of melodies, like ‘Sugar For The Pill’ and ‘Star Roving’, which are really special. But the new record still has a toe in that Pygmalion sound. In the future, things could get very interesting indeed.” This open-channel approach to creativity is reflected by Slowdive’s impressively wide field of influence, from indie-rock avatars to ambient voyagers – see the tribute album of cover versions released by Berlin electronic label Morr Music. As befits such evocative visionaries, you can also hear Slowdive through the silver screen: New Queer Cinema trailblazer Gregg Araki has featured them on the soundtracks to no less than four of his films.
“When I moved to America in 2008 I was working in an organic grocery store,” recalls Christian. “Kids started coming in and asking if it was true I had played in Slowdive. That’s when I started thinking, ‘OK, this is weird!’” Neil Halstead: “We were always ambitious. Not in terms of trying to sell records, but in terms of making interesting records. Maybe, if you try and make interesting records, they’re still interesting in a few years time. I don’t know where we’d have gone if we had carried straight on. Now we’ve picked up a different momentum. It’s intriguing to see where it goes next.” The world has finally caught up with Slowdive. This movie could run and run…”
An early entry for artwork of the year, Superstar & Star’s Mastermind EP catches the DIY boogie outsider, Neville jamming with his wife, Ann Lawrence on a 3rd release for Estonia’s Porridge Bullet, following the Tapes vs Superstar 7”, Spirit World in 2017.
The Mastermind EP features five cuts from the dead limited tape edition of Superstar & Star, plus three previously unreleased winners, all in the badass lo-fi style that made his Keep On Rocking 12” such a revelation.
A-side, he sounds like Muslimgauze gone boogie on the distorted blow-out Rolling So, beside what sounds like a Pantsula bomb a la Sandy B on Anywhere In The U.S Is a Party, and a killer Memphis strut on Kicking It At Home.
B-side, he juices the funk in No More Sorrow, along with the optimistic devotional I Aint Missing You, and a stroke of piano house pomp in I Am Dreaming featuring backing vox by Ann Lawrence.
Harbinger Sound immerse in the hypnotic avant-noise of Belgium’s Kanker Kommando with Low Tech 1982-88, collecting cuts from their 5 self-released tapes, plus previously unreleased material.
Originally a punk band, then a noise band, and soon enough incorporating avant-classical inspirations, the low tech-fetishists Jaak Perquy and Henk Willaerts trod their own path thru the no-man’s-land of noise in a way that evidently resonated with Harbinger Sound’s own sonic politics and conception of sound art. They prefer to structure themselves as an “albino amoeba”, a sort of single-celled organism, who relished the conceptual challenge of working with firmly established limitations - instruments, musical skills, recording-equipment - as a key conceit of the music.
Drawn from Loud Stereo .Eadphones  you’ll intercept the monotonous pulse of .Ead and something like alien morse code in Implosieve Kracht from their Naakt & Kwetsbaar  release. But the rest is all previous unheard, taking in the discomfortingly unheimlich, amniotic sensation of Slaapswandel; a Conet Project-like transmission of nursery rhyme melody and noise in Signal; and more blunted mechanical rhythms recalling NON/Robert Turman in Kwetsbaar, the locked-in mono rhythm Naakt, and what sounds like an EVP recording in the airborne oddity Count.
F*cking f*ck yes aye! Berceuse Heroique on a slow-mo/trance/new beat tip with Heap’s thumping addition to the dead handy Brasserie Heroique Edits series.
It’s going to do our heads in for weeks, months (or until someone tells us) but we can’t ID any of the OGs, which is always a good thing, but anyway you get a hulking great slug of early ‘90s acid trance screwed to a determined chug with External Error, then a badboy bit of breakbeat techno shunted to sleazy early new beat tempo in Possessed By The Drums, with the B-side’s Tripper cannily cut at 45rpm for a proper modagon lurch at 33rpm, or a wind tunnel trample on the correct speed.
One of dubstep’s prime outliers comes into trippy focus with the psychedelic deviation of Dying On Acid featuring Rider Shafique for Mala’s Deep Medi Musik.
As the label has been steadily broadening its horizons over the last half decade and more, Gantz pushes the prism in his own way, mixing mutant structures and palettes with vocals in unexpected, inventive styles.
The dream-sequence strings and ghostly vocal of Elif Dikeç tumble thru a evaporating maze of digital delays and seasick rhythms on Fugazi, before Dedw8 jumps on a gnarled sort of hip hop/dubstep abstraction in Shivy recalling early ‘00s Anti-Pop Consortium, while Rider Shafique mans the industrial grind of Sharkeyes with an expressively rooted stream-of-consciousness.
Yet, the highlight is entirely instrumental, as Gantz cements and dissolves his outsider purview with a concatenated derangement of Autechrian rhythm and electronica melodies in a volatile, unpredictable style.
On its 10th anniversary, Italians Do It Better dial up Glass Candy’s I Always Say Yes for an expanded reissue, now packing no less than three new songs along with the original, dry-iced disco of the title cut and their cover of dark Day’s The Chameleon.
The extended original and chunkier Drumm Edit are chased by the crepuscular horror movie drill feels of Where Time Is Still on the front, backed with the Jean-Michel Jarre vibes of City Lights, their exquisite cover of Chameleon, and an unmissable cinematic synth panorama called Sanctuary.
Sunn 0))) rise again with the arch doom metal of Kannon, their crushing follow-up to respective 2014 collaborations with Scott Walker and Ulver, and the first Sunn 0))) LP proper since Monoliths & Dimensions in 2009. Aye, crack out the ales, it’s worthy of a celebration.
By their own admissions, “It’s possibly the most figurative album Sunn 0))) has created” but, conversely, it’s also their “most outright “metal” in years”. Amassing a classic band line-up of core duo Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, shoulder-to-shoulder with long term allies and collaborators Attila Csihar, Oren Ambarchi, Rex Ritter, Steve Moore and more, it’s a glowering, physical testament to a band-as-organism achieving the peak of their powers.
Literally, Kannon is a polysemous representation of an aspect of Buddha as “goddess of mercy” or “Perceiving the Sounds (or Cries) of the World”, which ties farther back into the group’s readings of Asian belief systems, and is depicted in captivating artwork from Swiss designer/artist Angela LaFont Bollinger.
To experience Kannon is an overwhelming sensation, divided in three parts over 36-minutes, and one which we recommend wholeheartedly to anyone who has ever felt a shiver from the void, or is willing to submit themselves to one of 21st century music’s most elemental, powerful groups.
WRWTFWW Records birth a vinyl edition of the soundtrack to cult ‘80s lo-fi horror, “Psychos In Love” - including the exceedingly cruddy theme tune, snatches of dialogue and charming synthy daftness. RIYL early James Ferraro or current Spencer Clarke records
“The long-anticipated, 30-years-in-the-making Psychos In Love original soundtrack: Filled with sleazy funk, macabre synths, homemade electronic kitsch, anti-grape propaganda, and rewind-worthy dialogue excerpts, Psychos In Love is the ultimate lo-fi horror-rom-com soundtrack adventure.
Housed in DIY no-budget sleeve; Loaded with extras, including words from film director Gorman Bechard, lyrics of the theme song, a promotional postcard with a picture of the cast, a poster of a woman attacked in a bathroom, and the infamous as-seen-in-the-movie "I LOVE MY VCR" bumper sticker.”
Alina Astrova (Inga Copeland, Hype Williams) customarily dispenses Lolina’s yearly report with Lolita, a self-released white label of warped bleep-techno-pop and clipped dembow bump.
Arriving a year on from her Lolin & Scratchin’ mix CD with DVA for BUS Editions, Lolita ‘fesses a perfectly uneasy trio of aces taking in the title track’s curdled dancehall tones and slippery lyrics on the A-side, while the flip sets her lilting, off-kilter vocals to dissonant dembow knocks on Keep It Movin’, whereas Plot Twist is the EP’s lone, wriggly neon instrumental, like some half-cooked prototype that crept out of Errorsmith’s studio when he wasn’t looking.
A haunting suite of solemn, sober wonders for strings, vocals and synth from Japanese improvisor Chie Mukai and NYC’s Justin Simon (Invisible Conga People), the follow-up to the reissue of Phew’s Light Sleep on Simon’s Mesh-Key label.
Finally emerging some 15 years after it was written between NYC and Tokyo, the four tracks glide from Oskar Sala-esque synth melded with acoustic guitar and Mukai’s floating vocals in Sugita Hi No, thru to an exceptional centrepiece in the gentle, listing keen of percussion, vocal and synth wheeze in Hi Tsuki, along with the more rustic strings of Nami No hate, and the Loren Connors or Jandek-like tape vignette Untitled.
Tel Aviv’s finest team up with Gina X and C.A.R. on two killer, original disco/wave productions, along with two edits of Solid Space and X Ray Pop, making up a sterling debut dispatch thru Dark Entries.
On 5 Min, Dori Sadovnik and Niv Arzi kit their regular spar Chloé Raumet a.k.a. C.A.R. with a ruggedly burning electro groove and spiralling FX - proper fashion party business - before the original icy synth-pop mistress Gina X pays tribute to Nyx, goddess of the night, with typically dry gynoid vocal over the stark, New Beat-compatible brilliance of Nyx Tape.
The flipside tends to Red Axes’ reputation as primo disco editors, proved in the reverberating rework of Solid Space’s Destination Moon (the original’s just been reissued on Dark Entries, too!) next to a neat trim of X Ray Pop’s wavy charmer La Machine Á Rêver.
Marking 20 years of Prurient and Hospital Productions’ concurrent paths, the epic 3 hr 20 minutes of Rainbow Mirror inarguably ranks among Prurient’s most compelling statements. While still the blood child of Dominick Fernow, the album’s massive scope demanded more hands on board, with Jim Mroz (Lussuria) and Matt Folden (Dual Action) lending their expertise before post-production by Shifted and mastering by Paul Corley cemented this towering work of Doom Electronics for the ages.
Offered up as ‘a portrait in perpetual tension’, and housed in cover art created as the first collage in the pre-recording era of Prurient, Rainbow Mirror draws on the project’s roots in order to locate itself in the modern day. What it finds in the process is that little has changed since Prurient and Hospital Productions’ conception in ’97 - the world is still a torrid, evil mess beyond control, and one that needs notions like Prurient to try and define its heaving mass more than ever.
Like Frozen Niagara Falls before it, echoes of the old world riddle the long, stark corridors of Rainbow Mirror, too. But here those echoes are more fragmented, distant and entropically obfuscated, emulating the effect of trying to find your own image in a hall of mirrors, or locating yourself drowning amid the clamour of more than 3 billion other people online, all saying the same, mundane shit at the same time.
With a length and intensity proportionately reflective of the world’s increasing socio-political tension and rate of homogeneity, Rainbow Mirror holds firm as a space to immolate the senses in preparation for the ever nearing eschaton.