Bjarki’s bbbbbb label grip Norway’s EOD for a frenetic album of Braindancing drill ’n bass built in the model of classic late ‘90s AFX, Squarepusher and Venetian Snares.
Since Rephlex scurried off some years ago, this sorta sound has ben scattered around various labels, with bbbbbb emerging as a natural home for the reflexions and expressions of the producers currently pushing dancefloor prisms.
Norway’s Stian Gjevik a.k.a EOD and CN, is a prime case in point with ‘Named’, his most significant physical release since Rephlex issued a pair of his 12”s in 2013, not long before the label disbanded. For all intents and purposes, ‘Named’ could have easily come out on the home of Braindance: from the giddy hyper jazz of ‘Exham Priory’ to the chops of ‘’sblood Thou Stinkard’, thru the haunted warehouse acid of ‘Edward’, to demented music box melodies recalling NYZ in ‘Zadok’, to the Radiophonic spectres of ‘Lavinia’, and the curdled, winking daftness of ‘Blasted Haeth’, you’ll find all the mental colour, jittery funk and emotional melancholy of Braindance at its best.
“Chastity is a world of its own from the mind of Brandon Williams. Reflecting the working class background of Whitby, Ontario, Chastity’s songs are charged with the ethos of archetypal youth on the fringe. A project more aptly characterized by its intentions than specific sound or medium, Chastity stands to confront the struggles of those existing in the unseen, often silenced periphery. It is an artifact of youth culture constantly working to form community, bridging isolation with collectivity.
Visuals play a meaningful role in this world with Williams using his penchant for crafting consistently sleek, challenging imagery to personalize the narratives running throughout all of Chastity’s music — most discernibly, a call for the disruption of status quo.
It was clear from the release of Chastity’s first demos that this was not just “another punk band that can operate at only one speed.” Always concerned with the trending lack of accessibility and inclusivity in public spaces for the arts, the first Chastity show was held in Williams’ own bedroom where, packed wall-to-wall, the police were quickly called. But after the project’s second show supporting DC punk band Priests, Chastity was off to the races, sharing stages with the likes of Metz, Chelsea Wolfe and Fucked Up. All without a full length recording out.
Since signing with Brooklyn label Captured Tracks, Chastity has re-released those initial demos, along with 2 new singles and an EP, stoking the anticipation of the debut full length record, Death Lust.
Death Lust follows the plot of suffering to survival. The album begins on a tortured note with ‘Come' and builds toward the plummeting finale of ‘Chains’, evolving from start to finish in a crescendo of severity. Chastity explains, “Death Lust is about growing up death obsessed. It’s about the pain that it takes but the capacity that we have to overcome.”
Body/Head, the duo of Kim Gordon (CKM, Sonic Youth, Free Kitten) and guitarist Bill Nace (X.O.4,Vampire Belt, Ceylon Mange), release their second studio album, ‘The Switch’.
"Their debut album together as Body/Head, ‘Coming Apart’ was more of a rock record - heavy, emotional, cathartic, spellwork in shades of black and grey. ‘The Switch’ is their second studio full length and it finds the duo working with a more subtle palette, refining their ideas and identity.
Some of it was sketched out live (if you’ve not had the fortune of seeing them in that natural environment yet, see 2016’s improvisational document ‘No Waves’) but much of it happened purely in the moment. On ‘The Switch’, their vision and focus feel truly unified.
If ‘Coming Apart’ was dark magic, ‘The Switch’ works with light, though it never forgets that these approaches are two sides of the same coin and that binaries - black/white, near/far, emotion/analysis, body/head - are made to be broken open and that the truth of things is in the energy between.
Pariah returns from extended hiatus with debut album ‘Here From Where We Are’ on Houndstooth making up for time since his last outing in 2012, and a couple of Karenn slammers with Blawan over the interim. In the key of the moment, it’s an ambient record presumably meant to soothe your bones after a hard night raving, or indeed to ease your swede from the intensifying travails of everyday life.
“Arthur Cayzer was a relative late comer to dance music. He grew up in various hardcore and punk bands before moving to London and being swept away by dubstep. After just six months messing around making his own stuff on Logic, Pitchfork coverage piqued the interest of the legendary R&S, and over the next two years he released three EPs with the Belgian label. Each one showed subtle evolution and further established Pariah on the international scene.
Since then, Arthur has continued to DJ round the world and play live with Blawan as Karenn. Musically, though, he’s been adrift. With countless unfinished projects cluttering his hard drive, he felt he’d pressured himself into making the music people expected, rather than music that was an honest reflection of himself. It was only by taking a step back to analyse the music that has always resonated with him—and where, how, when and in what context it did—that gave him a renewed confidence in his work. After one track was finished, an album of coherent pieces naturally followed.
Although Here From Where We Are is inspired by a series of very personal reflections, responses and reactions, Arthur is keen for people to process it in their own way, free from interference. Opening with the transcendental ‘Log Jam’ which spills into the huge, empty and plaintive ‘Pith’, the artist distills his experiences into an album of nine moving, multi-layered tracks, where peculiar textures combine with rich harmonies and absorbing melodies into a heady mix of abstracted environments, formally structured songs and sound collages. Absorbing from start to finish, Here From Where We Are is a long overdue return and accomplished new direction for this rejuvenated producer.”
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch plays it like she means it on ‘Époques’, the french pianist and composer’s 2nd LP with FatCat’s 130701 label. It’s rare to hear a record that combines such direct gestures with keening experimental leanings while maintaining a palpable coherence, but that’s just what Emilie has done here. RIYL Max Richter, Richard Skelton, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Dustin O’Halloran
“Witnessing an increased assurance and dynamism in both Emilie's playing and composing, 'Époques' marks a big step forward for the London-based artist. A bold and adventurous album that alternates between passages of emotive, sinuous solo piano; stirring compositions for viola and cello and some beautifully sprawling electronics, it has been masterfully pieced together to further reveal a unique and intelligent sense of artistry, and a composer who really does deserve your full attention.
Losing some of the chill of Emilie's previous album, 'Époques' sound is both warmer and more honestly, emotively grounded. With a more coherent narrative drive, it retains the former's gentility and intricacy, whilst at times unravelling or teetering towards a palpably edgy, aggressive point of collapse. Over the course of its 44 minutes, the record modulates in intensity and moves between passages of sublime beauty to menace and despair. The tone for the album is outlined within the first two tracks. Opening with the sparse piano of 'Martello', which flowers into life and draws itself around you with sinuous vines and rising clusters of piano, it then falls into 'The Only Water', a rich yet murky, subterranean dreamscape of electronics and strings that hover and saw like Richard Skelton before evolving into some dark chamber duet, whilst slowly everything peels away into layers of delay. 'Redux' is another solo piano track, a meandering drift that winds its own sweet way before falling off into the glowering electronics and spaced cello figures of 'Overflow' and the dark, consumed-by delay piano of 'Fracture Points'. The brooding 'Ultramarine' opens a sound-field that lies closer to film score – edging perhaps towards the sensibility of former labelmate Jóhann's Jóhannsson's brilliantly unsettling 'Sicario' soundtrack.”
Yorkshire soulboy No.1, N.O.W., remixed in fine style by Moodymann, Illa J, and the group’s own DJ E.A.S.E.
Detroit vibes are set with Illa J’s slow glyding R&B bumps and the original version’s classicist combo of swanging subs and Sadie Walker’s burnished vocal, but the B-side heads for the ‘floor with DJ E.A.S.E.’s strutting club mix coming off like a mix of SoYo bass and filter house, while Moodymann seals the deal for 313 fiends with a super low slung booty shifter blessed with his personalized magic. Give this man a good vocal, he’ll give you a class remix!
Benjamin Damage runs two deep, wide and moody techno cuts for a 2nd 12” with his new home R & S following the demise of 50 Weapons
‘Malfunction’ shows off his sound designer skills in the melodramatic opening bars, before yielding a smartly offset techno roller with steeped synth voices, controlled tearout breakdown, and trancey flourish.
On the other hand, ‘Binary’ gets straight to it with deep, chugging swing and dreamy pads designed to get jaws rotating and eyes rolling in back of heads at 5am.
After establishing himself with rough but emotive house as Rimbaudian and jungle as Birds of Sweden, Armand Jakobsson unveiled his DJ Seinfeld alias to the world, first with single ‘U’, then with his Time Spent Away From U album on Lobster Fury in November 2017.
"Jakobsson approached his DJ-Kicks with the intention of representing all the things that made him fall in love with dance music more than a decade ago, as well as showing some of the progression that has occurred in that time and “reflecting the simultaneous fear of leaving something safe behind as well as the excitement of venturing into unknown territories, musically and emotionally.”
In order to make it as personal as possible, he called upon the many talented people around him making music. They returned with an enthusiasm that reminded Jakobsson of his own early passion, and in turn invigorated him and the whole process of assembling the mix. It was finally recorded at Inkonst club in Malmo because, recently back from years in Barcelona, he has not yet set up a studio in his hometown."
Hauntingly mystic roots reggae set crammed with cherry-picked classics and obscurities by Jackie Mittoo, The Gladiators, Alton Ellis, Horace Andy, The Manchesters...
“This is the second installment of deep roots Rastafarian reggae at Studio One and features classic music from some of the most important figures in reggae music – Alton Ellis, The Heptones, Jackie Mittoo, The Gladiators – alongside a host of rarities and little-known recordings, such as a truly rare Mystic Revelation of Rastafari seven-inch single, Willie William’s first ever recording ‘Calling’ and Horace Andy’s righteous (and equally rare) masterpiece ‘Illiteracy.’
Black Man’s Pride 2 extends the legacy of Studio One’s ground-breaking path in roots reggae which began at the end of the 1960s and continued throughout the 1970s. The album tells the story of how the rise of Studio One Records and the Rastafari movement were interconnected, through the adoption of the Rastafari faith by key reggae artists – everyone from the Skatalites and Wailers in the 1960s, major singers such as Alton Ellis and Horace Andy at the end of the decade, through to major roots artists such as The Gladiators in the 1970s – and how Clement Dodd consistently recorded this heavyweight roots music throughout Studio One’s history.
The extensive sleeve-notes to this album also discuss the links between Rastafari and Studio One in time and place, noting how both the religion and Clement Dodd’s musical empire had their roots in the intense period of pre-independence Jamaica in Kingston, expanded in the 1960s following the visit of Haile Selassie in 1966, and how roots music then came to dominate reggae music in the early 1970s. Also discussed is how the outsider stance of both reggae music and the Rastafari movement relate back many hundreds of years to the original rebel stance of the Maroons, escaped slaves who set up self-sufficient enclaves in the hills of the Jamaican countryside.
There is also a track-by-track history by the noted Studio One writer Rob Chapman (Never Grow Old). This new album comes as heavyweight gatefold double vinyl (+ download code), deluxe CD and digital album."
BleeD wrap up their first label compilation, starring trax by Peder Mannerfelt, DJ Nobu, Rote, Volte-Face
Look out for highlights in Peder Mannerfelt’s pounding Dig 6, the oily rolige of Depth Charge from Refracted, and the high-water tension of Shit Business by Rote, the duo of BleeD label boss Volte-Face with Daniel Avery.
Hardware-weilding Albert Van Abbe does his steely, brooding techno thing for Echocord Colour
The EP gears up with galloping kicks and dramatic string motifs on ‘Klangbilder 1’, followed by the floating, head-high jack of ‘Klangbilder 2’, before the hauntingly glum tones and opiated bass of ‘Klangbilder 3’ take hold at a more depressed tempo, and ‘Klangbilder 4’ renders a transfixing, beatless drone expanse recalling work by Alessandro Cortini.
Berlin’s Orbite extends an absorbing introduction to their dub house sound with the ‘Interstellar EP’, his first vinyl release, and the 2nd 12” issued by Echocord sub-label, Echo Echo
A-side is serene, strolling groove called ‘Skylar’ meshing windswept pads and synth voices to an effortlessly rolling bassline and clipped percussion recalling the hazy heyday of ‘00s minimalism, but with more fluid, earthy dynamic.
B-side is more varied, strafing from the heady dub poetry of ‘Moment’, featuring an unnamed and seductively ASMR-like vocal, to the gently scuffed textures, tidal sounds, and spheric bass of ‘Organi’.
Sully and Falty DL have a lark with a pair of 2 Bad Mice cuts off the ‘Gone Too Soon EP’
These remixes are classy. Sully lends his special spice to an artfully dextrous take on ‘Gone Too Soon’ making clear nods in the direction of Dillinja and Goldie, while Falty DL turns ‘Limit Of Paradise’ into a dreamy, E’d up ’91 style roller peppered with trademark breakbeat chicanery.
Best indie-pop freqs, L.A.’s Dirty Projectors keep their agenda porous to R&B, funk and warped traces of country-rock in a devilishly playful 9th album...
The follow-up to ‘Dirty Projectors’  - featuring guest appearances by Terrible Records’ Syd and Empress Of, plus newcomer Amber Mark, Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold, ex Vampire Weekend guy Rostam, and Dear Nora.
Swans’ influential guitarist Norman Westberg returns with his most substantial album to date on the expansive, personal panoramas of ‘After Vacation’, a profoundly beautiful set of windswept soundscapes amplified by production from Lawrence English.
For the last 6 years Westberg has rendered a one-take representation of his studio performances, effectively presenting a series of naked meditations on the electric guitar with little or no over-dubbing. Now, breaking with tradition following the end of Swans in their current configuration, he opens up his sound to reveal a depth of tonal colour and harmonic possibilities that just weren’t there in previous outings.
His glacially slow panning shots now highlight a finer spectrum of notes with much deeper spatial relief, marking a sharp difference between his old and new sounds akin to switching from a cathode ray TV to widescreen HD. That’s partly down to Westberg’s renewed impetus and ambition, but also no doubt aided by Lawrence English’s production, which serves to breath patient, pregnant space between the notes and reveal compelling new aspects to Westberg’s sound.
That sound is significantly and fully realised in six parts, traversing from windless nocturnal desert scenes in the cinematic majesty of Soothe The String, to the opiated shimmer of Drops In A Bucket and the arcing, star-gazing poignancy of Norman Seen As An Infant on the A-side, before really zooming out on the B-side to reveal a dawning valley of slow rolling melodic fog and harmonic aurora in Levitation, and coming to rest in the homebound floral acoustic guitar strokes and lushly layered environs of the album’s closing title track.
One of the year’s most evocative quiet listens, After Vacation comes with a huge recommendation if you’re into anything from Ry Cooder’s classic Paris, Texas soundtrack to more contemporary variations on that theme from the likes of Tim Hecker, Stars of the Lid or indeed Lawernce English.
Metasplice return an absorbingly elusive, minimalist shadow of their former, noisy selves with ‘Mirvariates’ for Will Bankhead’s The Trilogy Tapes
Following a slight hiatus and a canny rethink of their sound, Metasplice’s first new studio album in five years, Mirivates defines the Philadelphian duo’s acute inversion from noisy roil to shimmering lower case sounds across seven tracks embracing negative space as a vital new part of their music.
Gauging by the skinny, barely-there aesthetics of Marinates, one would be forgiven for thinking that Metasplice only submitted the scrubbed stems of the album to TTT. However, closer listening reveals a series of oblique, abstract electro-acoustic ecosystems that bristle with virulent energy, perhaps emulating the varied ambiences of a space station (“Mir”?), the coded inner dialogues of stressed out machinery, or the sound of the Internet of Things plotting their take-over of humanity in encrypted electro-magnetic chatter.
Over the course of seven tracks they pay special attention to volume dynamics and texture, with fathomless abstract shapes looming from the darkness in persistently reorienting and amorphous style, as the imagined “walls” of each piece seem to dissolve and establish new dimensions within each cut, from the tentatively perilous explorations of ‘Cirrension’, to the free jazz-like squabble of ‘Teleric’, thru the clipped gamelan resonances of ‘Vase Weight Re-Route’, and the Xth Reeflexion-liek fuss of ‘Aridtaq’, and up to the parting, side-long denouement of ‘Speculen’, where a melodic spirit seems to be seductively struggling thru their finely graded textures and airborne sediments.
It’s all effectively and undoubtedly a radical break with past Metasplice releases, reeling away from the ‘floor to somewhere much more abstract and difficult to properly fathom with words. It’s best to just treat these recordings like seashells scavenged from the liminal shores of perception, awaiting your close ear inspection and interpretation.
Modular synth botherer and multi-instrumentalist Ralph Cumbers takes it to the ‘floor for Happy Skull
Up top he drops the quirky, clipped strut of his acid wobbler ‘Charnel House’ and downtown he riffs on Adonis’ ‘No Way back’ in a style primed to mix with Gescom’s own take on those same elements in their ‘D1’  chop-up. One of the best we’ve heard from Bass Clef.
Malka Spigel and Colin Newman’s Immersion vehicle tours breezy, instrumental ambient-pop variations in ‘Sleepless’, their follow-up to ‘Analogue Creatures Living On An Island’, still bearing hallmarks of their respective work with Minimal Compact and Wire during the late ‘70s and thru the ’80s
“Sleepless is at once a logical development from Analogue Creatures and a huge leap forwards. Although the influence of German krautrock pioneers like Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh is still detectable, Immersion have evolved their own far more personal sound. Their amalgam of fascinating textures and limpid melodies gives their compositions an irresistible appeal.
While warmly percolating analogue synths remain at the heart of Immersion’s sound, Sleepless finds their sonic palette broadened to encompass guitars, drums and bass. There’s a guest appearance from Matt Schulz of Holy Fuck, too, and a collaboration with Gil Luz and Assi Weitz of EBM band Hexenschuss.
Album opener ‘Microclimate’ is a bright, optimistic composition with shades of Ulrich Schnauss in its thoughtful, melodic flow. ‘Off Grid’ kicks off with the infectious sound of a four-string tenor guitar, but it’s soon joined by flickering synth-lines and one of Spigel’s characteristically spacious bass-lines. In fact, Spigel’s bass work throughout the album may be the finest she’s ever committed to tape.
Just as you think you might be getting the measure of the album, the title track opens with a richly melancholic brass arrangement. But this is then eclipsed by an Eastern sounding melody and strangely circling guitar line. Like all Immersion’s best work, it’s simultaneously mysterious and emotionally engaging.
‘Propulsoid’ has the kind of urgent electro-glide that might suggest Moon Duo or Suicide, but the core melody is unmistakably Immersion. The strict yet fluid drum pattern comes courtesy of Matt Schultz of Holy Fuck, who provides the track with a strong motorik drive.
‘Manic Toys’ is another distinctly up-tempo track, which comes across as a weird deep-space hoe-down, while ‘Seeing is Believing’ begins with dark synth tones suggesting we might be listening to the soundtrack to an early 1970s dystopian sci-fi film. But as the piece evolves, there is something of the bucolic splendour of Boards of Canada to be heard in the cycling rhythm and rich drones. Album closer ‘Io’ sees several looping celebratory melodies overlaid to create a mesh of sound that is elegiac and uplifting.
Sleepless is widescreen music – lush, detailed and smartly executed. In short, Immersion have produced an album that politely but firmly demands your attention.”
A classic from academic and atrtist John Maus - sounding something like a cross between Autre Ne Veut and Joy Division - with a bit of Joe Jackson and Visage thrown in for good measure.
It's just one of those albums, it reminds you of something else almost constantly, yet leaves a smudged mark all its own on your psyche. This review from Jordan Redmond / Tiny Mix Tapes pretty much sums it up:
"Being an academic, John Maus understands the imperative to only release bodies of work that are conceptually sound and completely actualized. With Pitiless Censors, he sought to break into a new creative period but was disappointed that it was only a “consummation” or logical conclusion to the sound on his previous two widely-available albums (Songs and Love Is Real).
Based on the evidence here, Maus needn’t have any reservations about the body of work that he has released into the world. Pitiless Censors is a sparkling album, a lo-fi synth pop masterpiece that manages to give endless aural delights while still being intellectually engaging, and despite having been caught at the center of a whirlpool of current movements, all of which reflect some aspect of Maus’ style, he has only cemented his identity as a singular, unimpeachable figure. When confronted with music like this, it’s impossible not to be a believer.”
A must for lovers of affective pop music.
Hip Hop heavyweight Ali Shaheed Muhammad (A Tribe Called Quest) & soul don Adrian Younge highlight and pay tribute to the Harlem Renaissance in beautiful style on the 100th anniversary of the movement’s pivotal emergence. Features CeeLo Green, Luther Vandross, Bilal, Laetitia Sadier, Questlove...
“The Midnight Hour is Black excellence: an ode to the cultural sophistication that the Harlem Renaissance established for its people. The Midnight Hour is comprised of Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, alongside a tight rhythm section and a full orchestra. The album has features from CeeLo Green, Raphael Saadiq, Marsha Ambrosius, Bilal, Eryn Allen Kane, Karolina and more.
Adrian and Ali began working on this album back in 2013, but put the project aside as they would score the hit Netflix series Marvel’s Luke Cage (the two even perform in an episode of the upcoming second season). The Midnight Hour is a soul/jazz/hip hop album which continues the conversations started by yesterday’s jazz and funk pioneers; those that created the bedrock of samples for hip hop producers in the 80s/90s. The Midnight Hour is sophisticated hip hop that fans will enjoy, capturing their jazz rhythm section, and a full orchestra, to analog tape.
One of the seminal compositions, “Questions,” originally began as an unfinished Midnight Hour demo with Cee-Lo Green. However, Kendrick Lamar heard the track and wanted to sample portions for his GRAMMY-winning album To Pimp a Butterfly (the song ultimately made it to Kendrick’s 2016 compilation Untitled Unmastered as "Untitled 06 | 06.30.2014."). The full, completed version of “Questions” is now the lead single on The Midnight Hour.
“So Amazing” is a reimagining of Luther Vandross’ 1986 single. Ali and Adrian took Luther's original vocal stems and composed new music, as if they were in the room with Luther originally. This transcendental recording is something that really makes The Midnight Hour special.”
After a nervy début with ‘The Future of Discipline’ , the Leichtmann / Tricoli duo gel in more sensuous curves and oneiric space on their 2nd collaboration for Entr’acte
Pulled along by viscous grooves in la Casa delle Chimere|, it feels like the duo found a new route out of their previous tangle of tape loops, percussion and FX, only to periodically lose the thread and dissolve the rug woven by their noumenal looms.
Recorded live to two-track at Plivka, Kiev, in 2017, the results resemble the environmental sound of an alchemical lab or some experimental machinery workshop that comes to life afterhours when nobody is listening - seemingly documenting inanimate objects in etheric dialogue, drills seducing vices and soldering irons secreting flux on live circuit boards, perpetually short-circuiting half-built systems.
In the best way, we hear both artists’ well established processes and approaches subsumed into a greater, indivisible whole with plenty of ephemeral remainders that will keep you coming back the plate.
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..
Lushest suite of productions from Bamako, Mali’s Luka Productions - a prolific artist with a distinctively melodic, breezy style that sounds like it was produced by Actress circa R.I.P. or American cloud rap instrumentals. Seriously this is one of the records we've listened to most for the last couple of months and will surely be right up there among the year's best...
Luka is behind hundreds of tracks for local rappers who queue up for beats outside his small studio; a modest set-up including a PC running Cubase, Reason, Fruityloops, plus a keyboard and mic for sampling balafon, djembe and vocals.
We’re quite honestly left a bit tripped out and light-headed by this one, there’s a subtly breathtaking innocence and simplicity to his mix of electronic and (sampled) acoustic compositions which many other producers could learn from. From the richness of his harmonised synth and vocal arrangements in Furu Boyan and the new age tones of Christianise, to the rugged yet elegant grooves of Yelen and L’excision, or the way that Dambéfoil with its wicked electro breakdown seems to parallel UKF and Afrobeats, he’s really pushing all of our buttons here, but most of all with those curious ambient pads draped over Terriya, the same ones that make Dignètignena sound uncannily like a Lena Platonos piece.
Seriously, pinch us now. Are we dreaming or is this really amazing?!
Raw yet sophisticated deep house, acid and electro clearly schooled in the classics, from Glasgow’s Stephen Lopkin
Continuing a run of Gaelic-located or themed titles for M>O>S, Clyde Built is perhaps the definitive batch of Lopkin's emotive and puristic style following ‘The Haggis Trap’  and ‘Meall a’ Bhùiridh’ .
Nodding to Glasgow’s heritage as the entry point for so much imported American dance music as well as its industrial past, Lopkin forges 10 aces over two plates, with divine results inspired by Detroit classics in ‘Fragments of Yesteryear’ and ’Stupid Humans’, along with the lush house traction of ‘White Corries’, some B12-esque electro in ‘Decades’, and a heavily seductive stripe of Reese-bassed techno in ‘Fridays at Pure’, at Carl Craig-goes-Italo flavour in ‘Welcome To Nowhere’.
A melancholy suite of German-language cover versions of Greek, French and Romanian post-WWII European chanson - a mix of folksong and political commentary set to wheezing accordions.
“Martin Hossbach on the release: "When Michaela Meise performed at West Germany at Kottbusser Tor in Berlin-Kreuzberg on March 20, 2015, accompanying herself on the accordion, I was perplexed. I knew her first album from 2010, which was about hymns (Preis Dem Todesüberwinder, originally released on Clouds Hill), but what she was playing weren't spiritual songs?! I wanted to put this music out on my label: the songs sounded sad, aloof and wistful but also proud, determined and unerring. The album title 'I Am Greek' (Ich Bin Griechin) is a tribute to Melina Mercouri's album Je Suis Grecque!, which was released in 1971 when Mercouri was deprived of citizenship by the Greek military junta. Mercouri lived -- like Mikis Theodorakis and many other cultural workers -- in exile. Meise's album is dedicated to the chanson scene of post-war Europe, whose songs were popularly folksy, but also political. Some talk about the experience of war, the Shoah and labor migration. Michaela Meise has translated the Greek, French, and Romanian songs into German (with the help of Aliki Marini and Carmen Gheorghe) so that the lyrics are understandable to a German audience, a gesture that was also common in the European chanson scene. More than half of the songs are by Mikis Theodorakis. He knows the translations and new recordings, gave his blessing and just noted a wrong tone... The other pieces on the album are by the French artists Barbara and George Moustaki and the German musician Alexandra. There is also a Romanian folk song. The album was recorded by Michaela Meise together with members of the group Isolation Berlin as well as the guest singers Carmen Gheorge and Dirk von Lowtzow (Tocotronic). The producer was David Specht (Isolation Berlin). Michaela Meise and me both have intimate relations with Greece -- Michaela has innumerable holiday memories with parents and brother, I have a friend who lives in Athens and whom I have been visiting regularly for about ten years now. This friend, the graphic designer Vasilis Marmatakis, styled Meise's album using an impressive, scary photograph taken in May 1985 during the occupation of Polytechnio Athens. Together, we opted for an elaborate packaging made by a bookbinder, a so-called Japanese tip-on-gatefold cover. The packaging reminds us of the records that were made in Greece for export and taken by German tourists as a souvenir back home."
Comprised almost entirely of synths, drum-machines and Maus' own vocals, 'Songs' could well be the bastard offspring of Giorgio Moroder in Eighties Soundtrack mode - with the kind of bitter-sweet melodies and baroque flourishes that framed so much teenage-angst during that decade.
Kicking off with the prosaically titled 'Opening', Maus plunges us into a grandstanding bout of church organ that climbs and climbs... Before wrapping itself up with the minimum of fuss. From here, 'Time To Die' introduces us to that signature vocal style that has an Ian Curtis bruise atop it's clipped-glottal brusqueness, whilst the backdrop is made up of fizzing electronics and skyburst melodies.
Elsewhere, 'Maniac' is a pulsating electro-pop nose-bleed, 'And Heaven Turned To Her Weeping' is the sound of scarred electronic skies, whilst 'Just Wait Till Next Year' takes a cue from Bowie in it's AM melodies. Odd on first listen, appealing on second and proper smitten thereafter, John Maus has more than overcome expectations with this cracked mirror view of the Eighties.
Alex & Jonsi & co provide a fittingly romantic soundtrack to the Black Mirror episode about the perils of dating apps and the way AI might impinge on future love lives
“Late last year Sigur Rós producer and frequent collaborator Alex Somers hooked up with the band once again to deliver original music for ‘Hang The DJ’, one of the flagship episodes of the most recent Black Mirror series.
‘Hang The DJ’ comprises 16 new Somers compositions, plus ‘Match’ and ‘End’, the two new songs co-credited to Sigur Rós and Alex Somers.
Somers composed the Black Mirror episode on the back of recent scores for the silent movie archive epic, Dawson City: Frozen Time, and Viggo Mortensen vehicle, Captain Fantastic (also released on Invada), both of which have drawn wide praise. He also collaborated with Sigur Rós mainman, and boyfriend, Jónsi on the music for the US TV atomic bomb drama Manhattan.
Previously, in their Jónsi & Alex guise, the pair made the much-loved ambient masterpiece, Riceboy Sleeps, in 2009, with Somers going on to co-produce Sigur Rós’s 2012 and 2013 albums, Valtari and Kveikur.”
'Forse 1' is the unmissable solo debut by Alessandro Cortini ov Nine Inch Nails.
Alessandro has this to say: "All pieces were written and performed live on a Buchla Music Easel, in the span of one month. I found that the limited array of modules that the instrument offers sparked my creativity. Most pieces consist of a repeating chord progression, where the real change happens at a spectral/dynamic level, as opposed to the harmonic/chordal one. I believe that the former are just as effective as the latter, in the sense that the sonic presentation (distortion , filtering, wave shaping, etc) are just as expressive as a chord change or chord type, and often reinforce said chord progressions.
Of all the years with Nine Inch Nails the period spent writing and recording the instrumental record Ghosts I-IV is probably the one which changed my approach to music making the most. After that record I started getting more into instrumental composition, although I tried to approach it in a different way. While we had a vast array of tools and instruments at our disposal then, I decided to approach my pieces limiting myself to one instrument only, as I found myself being more decisive when faced with a limited creative environment."
At last, here’s a first taste of production and vocals from Clara! following that series of killer Reggaetoneras mixtapes - the first time Clara's own material has been available for public consumption. It’s a crucial followup to Low Jack’s massively in-demand ‘Riddims du Lieu-dit’ session on the BZH series and provides pure heat for fans of Equiknoxx, Low Jack, The Bug….!!!
Following the recent 3rd volume to Clara!’s cult, female MC-focussed ‘Reggaetoneras’ mixtapes, ‘Meneo’ slings three vocal cuts, plus two instrumentals and an acapella, serving to reveal Clara! as a deadly vocalist and producer alongside Brussels-based Maoupa Mazzocchetti, who’s best known for his EBM/industrial misshapes, and as member of An Ultimate DJ for PRR! PRR!
Hailing from Spain’s northern coast, Clara! presents a unique spin on the imported reggaeton styles she grew up listening to and eventually DJing at beach parties in her home region, before moving to Paris and Brussels. Combined with the more industrial rub and tug of Maoupa on the instrumentals, they render a piquant spin on reggaeton proper in Ruge, where Clara! masterfully glydes over acidic bass and dembow drums, also handily included as instrumental and acapella.
Flipside, on ‘El Ratón’ they resurrect and version the seminal ’90 bashment anthem ‘Playground Riddim’, tilting it 20 years forward with resonant tweaks and plasmic textures infiltrated by another effortlessly slinky and on-point vocal from Clara!, before the duo really push the prism with the paso-doble vamps and raving chicanery of ‘Discordia’, the EP’s maddest and hyper-colourful number, again featuring Clara!’s wickedly poised and playful vocal.
The result is a delectable new take on Caribbean futurism, presenting Clara! as a vocalist to be reckoned with, and rendering a whole new angle to Maoupa Mazzocchetti's production style after years of gristly, technoid beat-offs.
Tim Hecker's 'Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again' was the Montreal artist's first album under his own name (he'd previously released under the moniker, Jetone) and very much sets the blueprint for what was to come over ensuing full-lengths.
In the early days of his career, Hecker was often compared with Fennesz, with both artists mining a similarly beautiful line in fizzy, glitch-laden digital soundscapes.
'Music For Tundra' would certainly seem to share the same vernacular as Fennesz's Endless Summer, but Hecker's sound is less song-like in essence, placing greater emphasis on subtle drone variations. Towards the album's centre, 'The Work Of Art In The Age Of Cultural Overproduction' stands as arguably the album's most impressive entry, intertwining a snarling distortion with granular melodic fragments and vicious, wind-like currents of noise; a sonic conceit that's been refined and expanded by Hecker over the years, but which has seldom sounded better than it does here.
A remarkably enduring piece of work, Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again has aged well, contemporary electroacoustic drone enthusiasts unfamiliar with it should dive in.
Third EP from San Francisco-based trio INHALT, German for “content”. The group was founded in 2009, and for the purposes of this recording are Matia Simovich, Philip Winiger and Steven Campodonico.
"INHALT’s core operative strategy is of sonic fidelity and integrity rather than nostalgia. Their first release was a split 12"" on World Unknown in 2011 followed by two EPs on Dark Entries, a remix EP on Emotional Especial and a Part Time Punks Session on Cleopatra. ‘Commerce’ is a close examination of the self destructive tendency of the ego in relation to the allure of negativity and mass tragedy.
The EP details the psychopathy of relentless thirst mandated by neo-liberalism and traverses through the adoption of social and economic technologies that strengthen domination vis a vis self enslavement to disempowerment. Employing the best of both modern and vintage techniques, the four songs on the EP utilize dense production, big snares, and powerful German vocals from Philip. INHALT are informed by the brooding soundtracks of John Carpenter as much as the vastness and sheen of Trevor Horn, and set out to explore the borders between the vocal-driven pop song and the expansive dancefloor 12″ arrangement. The record was produced over four years at the bands own Black Sun Loft recording studio and Different Fur Studios."
An early, in-demand John Maus gem, ‘Love Is Real’  bubbles back up on pretty pink wax in the wake of last year’s ‘Screen Memories’, the ‘Addendum’ album, and an eponymous boxset compilation
On ‘Love Is Real’, Maus presented a slightly more low-key follow-up to his definitive ‘Songs’ album, which attracted a whole wave of listeners who’ve likely been smitten with the pop perfectionist ever since.
To be honest, ‘Love Is Real’ comes from a blindspot in our memories (we can clearly recall days spent with ‘Songs’, but not this one) and as such may as well be a new Maus release for us, and we’d imagine many others who either slept on it or can’t be arsed paying steep 2nd hand prices.
It’s stuffed with signature, floating melodies, rounded harmonies and of course laced with Maus’ singular baritone, which works right on the cusp of knowing pastiche and timeless pop proper in a style that has become his trademark. References can simply be stated as “the ‘80s”, as Maus pays canniest tribute to a wealth of music that everyone knows and feels, but with a dreamy spin that somehow brings out the oddness and melancholy of nostalgia in a way that’s maybe comparable with Burial’s hauntological approach to the not-so-distant as much as the hook-riddled craft of his spirit-brother Ariel Pink.
Unreleased baroque jazz horror score to controversial lesbian sex cult witchcraft exploitation drama from 1973, composed by the man who wrote the Catweazle theme! Hell yeah!
"Ted Dicks is not that well known as a composer these days, but back in the mid 1960s he was composing library music as well penning some of the greatest comedy songs of the era, including “Hole In The Ground” and “Right Said Fred”. His work was performed by Kenneth Williams, Petula Clarke, Bernard Cribbins, Topol and more. But until now, little has been known of his brief flirtation with film music.
Virgin Witch was his first brush with film scoring – one of only two score he wrote. The film was produced by legendary wrestling commentator Ken Walton (under his Sexploitation pseudonym of “Ralph Solomans”), with the help of Hazel Adair, a woman famed for co-creating the long running UK TV soap Crossroads. Virgin Witch was a racey film, turned down at least once for certification by the BBFC, passed uncut with an X for release just in London, then cut and passed for general release shortly afterwards.
The score itself is a unique and quite beautiful pop baroque work, utilizing the cimbalom, an instrument more than likely played here by “Ipcress file” musician John Leach."
Joakim presents the varied results of his recording sessions in Xavier Veilhan’s Studio Venezia, a studio/sculpture installed at the 2017 Venice Biennale, which was also visited by Brian Eno and Sebastian Tellier
Using the studio’s rare instrumentation, including an Ondes Martinet, Buchla Music Easel and Baschet Cristal, plus some other synths, as well as aleatoric input from visitors to the Biennale, as source material for the final recordings, which take cues from Cluster’s kosmiche classics to rove between pastoral scenes such as Orange (Katie, USA), to clunky techno on Innuendo (Francisco, Spain), and bittersweet baroque themes in Dream (Roberta, Italy).
NYC percussion trio Tigue weave an entrancing ‘Strange Paradise’ from myriad instruments, both acoustic, analog and electronic, on a sublime and playfully intricate suite of rhythmelodic, Reichian studies in avant-classical and ambient minimalism
“Tigue is a group of three percussionists with a fluid musical identity. Praised for their energetic and focused performances, the members of Tigue (Matt Evans, Amy Garapic and Carson Moody) have played together since they were practically children — continuously making their own blend of instrumental minimalism while simultaneously performing in collaborative projects. Strange Paradise sees them building worlds as a unit, pushing each other to transcend the limits and expectations of their percussive instrumentation in the construction of long-form, radiant hypnotic soundscapes the group describes as “rendered in ecstatic complexity.”
As a result, Strange Paradise is a luminous, abstract, non-narrative world that funnels inspiration from patterns, objects, and relationships. Built on an intricate patchwork of tones where instrumental lines and textures shift in and out of alignment to produce a vibrating landscape, Strange Paradise is designed for a mode of “extended listening” — asking listeners to explore slow gradations of change between rhythm and texture. The album creates a sound environment that envelopes the listener but continually defies expectation — shapeshifting at each point it seems understood. Though the music floats from the serene to the uncanny, Strange Paradise is perhaps most notable for providing a distinct sensation of interconnectedness.
Strange Paradise was produced by Tigue & Seth Manchester, and recorded at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket, RI and Brooklyn, NY. The album was engineered and mixed by Seth Manchester, and mastered by Heba Kadry at Timeless Mastering. Special guests on “Triangle” include: Benedict Kupstas (guitar); Seth Manchester (guitar); Tristan Kasten-Krause (bass); Trevor Wilson (Wurlitzer); and Eliot Krimsky (OP1).”
Ron Trent reworks the chunky boogie-soul budge of Skymark’s ‘Find a Place In This Crazy World’, backed with the 2015 original, both cut loud ’n proud
The original is a radiant slice of soul revolving big, shuffling drums and a pealing vocal set in acres of reverb, while Ron Trent cools things out by a few degrees on the B-side with smoother groove and levelled vocals for duskier, gently gripping shuffle.
Superior Viaduct present a definitive early iteration of Steve Reich’s seminal ‘Drumming’ for the first time. Recorded at the work’s Town Hall premiere in NYC, 1971, its a more organic performance than the later, better known recording featured on Deutsche Grammofon’s recently reissued 1974 boxset
Inescapably one of the most important musical milestones of the last century, Drumming radically distilled percussive traditions from Ghana and Indonesia in a minimalist framework which revolutionised ideas about polyrhythms and phasing timbre in the context of classical music, and most specifically the body of minimalism, which was then only just emerging through the work of Reich and Philip Glass.
Performed seamlessly in four parts on eight small drums, three marimbas, three glockenspiel, piccolo and voice by an ensemble including esteemed percussionist Jon Gibson and vocalist Joan LaBarbera, Drumming Music calls for the percussion and voices to be percolated and phase shifted in a manner that essentially focussed on rhythmelody and slight timbral shifts, as opposed to harmonic development.
In a most beautiful sense, the piece places emphasis on a new way of listening to music which dispensed with the overblown gestures associated with the old world and pulled away from the harshness of serialism toward a sound which better reflected the rolling structures of ancient practices, while also discovering seductive new realms of exploration for Western Classical music in the process.
All that aside, it’s just an utterly entrancing piece of music that keeps listeners rapt to its syncopated subtleties for the entirety of its 82 minute duration. An essential piece in any collection.
A highlight of KLO’s self-titled début album, the lilting bewt ’Birds’ appears here along with an epic, rolling disco-house remix by Prins Thomas, also included as a nifty ‘DJ Edit’
Prins Thomas gives KLO’s Bird some colourfully-plumed disco wings for a 17 minute diskomiks flight segueing from strobing, cut-up voices to gently undulating dub disco and a rolling, tribal disco-house groove and classical string outro.
Frothy acid, washed out dub-house, sleazy electro-pop and smudged Balearantics from Australia
Cold Emotion debut with the louche, simmering acid-jazz-house of ‘Toast’ beside the gauzy dub-disco drift of ‘Cantao’ from Nap & D. Tiffany on the A-side.
Flip it over Ivan’s sleazy darkroom debut with the perfect marriage of prurient groove and icy vocal on ‘Manipulate Me’, while Metric Systems also make a smart introduction with the balmy slow/fast motion of ‘Adaptation Dub’.
Grade 10’s Prayer joins Bristol’s bastion of proggy bass music, Black Acre, with the sweeping classical-meets-dance set pieces of the ‘Vital EP’
“PRAYER’s outsider sound is as easily recognisable as it is hard to pin-point; it lives at a cross section of influences from classical to jungle and breaks to ambient. After his ‘SEEING’ EP and ‘I / II’ cassette release in 2017, PRAYER returns to affiliate label BLACK ACRE with ‘VITAL’. Again, PRAYER blurs the lines between sorrowful sounds and high-voltage club energy in VITAL; a piece of art that refuses to be boxed off by genre or stereotype.
Opener FEAR explores the producers love of film music; a dark sci-fi landscape punctuated with drums and melodic synths, a Bladerunner-esque track. Moving on, A2 ‘I’M STILL HERE’ is an anthem, a nostalgic mix of hardcore, jungle and classical influences with a DIY, rough and ready feel.
On the other side, PRAYER shows his talent for the piano with B1 - KIND, finessing the skills that reflect his first adventures in sound. It’s an emotive, stripped back number. The final track is B2 - VITAL, another drum-heavy, weighty track that sounds only like PRAYER - as ideal for the club as it is for headphones.”
Sun-seeking Afro-disco and Balearic-minded grooves from Jacco Gardner and Nic Mauskovic’s Bruxas
On their 2nd mission following the ‘Más Profundo’ 12” in 2017, Gardner and Mauskovich are joined by Jungle By Night’s Tienson Smeets on the drum stool to circle a four-square set of tropical rhythms and sun-blessed vibes, fanning out from the melting tension of ’Sirocco’ to the wave Ethiopiques-style synth runs and head-high beat on ‘Hermes’, before ‘Sirocco Remix’ turns that one up for suave dancers with something to show, and ‘Maria’s Holiday’ checks out on a prime, rolling groove sounding like a stripped down and stargazing ’80 Arthur Russell.
Masochistic club stress test from Enrique, delivering an acrid taste of his industrial Brooklyn ‘hood on Bank Records NYC
Both sides are a proper racket, pushing a brand of gnarly syncopation and red-lining, biting point distortion that’s bound to churn the ‘floor.
Echovolt pull out a string of deep techno pearls with Priori’s sublime yet tumultuous ‘Noogenesis’ EP
It’s practically worth it for the floating pads and offset acid techno roil of ‘Waves (Gibraltar Mix)’ alone, but turn i over and you’ll also find a very canny, early ‘90s sounding deep ’n bleepy house option called ‘Noogenesis’, and the B12-styled half-stepper ‘Port Romance’ to push you in the right direction.
Dixon and Underground Resistance tweak out Radio Slave’s ‘Trans’ for Rekids.
Head straight to the B-side for Mad Mike in a foul mood, reworking the bass as an effluent acidic grunge splashed with sparking funk guitar and riveted in place with hard snares, stealthily coming up to an entrancing 2nd half.
Studio Mule rebuild and rework another classic Japanese new wave peach to modern requirements...
Following their cover of Ohnuki Taeko’s Carneval, Mariah’s mellow glyder Shinzo No Tobira from the うたかたの日々  album is given a new lease of life in a straight-played A-side featuring the vocal re-sung by Miyako Koda (dip in the pool), but it’s Kuniyuki Takahashi’s B-side dub that gets our rosette, twisting cues from Adrian Sherwood’s remixes of Depeche Mode into a breezy and boomy piece of industrial dance dream pop.
Folk-rooted French composer Delphine Dora meets West Yorkshire’s Sophie Cooper in a gently febrile, miasmic episode for Massachusetts’ Feeding Tube Records. RIYL Ectoplasm Girls!
“First vinyl evidence of the dizzying, ongoing collaboration between France's Delphine Dora and West Yorkshire's Sophie Cooper.
Delphine's piano, organ, vocals and extended improvisation techniques have been documented in various places, and always serve up oceanic slabs of pure aural mystery. Comparisons have been made to Charlemagne Palestine, Marian Zazeela and other experimentalists, although Ms. Dora has long maintained her compositions are structurally rooted in folk music. Suffice to say the results are usually otherworldly and stunning. Cooper's guitar, electronics, vocals and trombone have caused similar reactions (I am especially fond of her recent Globokar-like 'bone-investigations). And the pair's collusions (of which there have been several) are always eagerly anticipated.
The main themes of the two sides of the LP are “Invisible Gesture” and “Sublime Gesture.” The Invisible seems to involve more entwined vocals and a certain space-oid twinkle to the keys. There are also occasional flare-ups that recall Third Ear Band's music for Macbeth or some unknown collaboration between Comus and Paul Rutherford. The “Sublime” adds heavier drone action to the process, as well as insertion of noise and classical “events” to interact with the ghost vocals.
It is a truly delirious spin.”
Room40 pair two much-loved and out-of-print Tim Hecker pieces on vinyl to mark the label's 15th year of editions and events.
The A-side finds Tim bunkered in the mine shaft at Sweden's Norberg festival on July 30th, 2005, where he coaxes out some 20 minutes of pealing chimes and reverberant cacophony making intrinsic use of the space's natural acoustics. After 10 years, thankfully 'Norberg' makes its first appearance on vinyl here.
On the other side we find the succinctly emotive eight minutes of 'Apondalifa', presenting its frayed ribbon of oxidising strings and electronics in its entirety for the first time (it was previously broken in two parts over a 7" in 2010).
If you're only familiar with Tim's better known work, this is a perfect stopgap in lieu of a new LP. Highly recommended!