Issued posthumously, ‘Petra (1991) For Two Pianos’ is the first ever vinyl pressing of music by Maryanne Amacher (1938-2009), one of the early “gurus” of electronic music, who is revered for her explorations of “otoacoustic emissions” - acoustic phenomena where the listener’s ears produce audible sound.
One of a handful of Maryanne’s works for tape, ‘Petra (1991) For Two Pianos’ joins her seminal Tzadik CD releases ‘Sound Characters (Making The Third Ear)’  and ‘Sound Characters 2 (Making Sonic Space)’  as only the 3rd official release of Maryanne Amacher’s remarkably unique music. However, where her first two albums were crucially created with electronic sources, this one aims to generate the same effect with two acoustic instruments simultaneously presenting pure tones, and in a way links her otoacoustic exploitations back to the phenomenon’s discovery by 18th century Italian violinist, Giuseppe Tartini.
This much anticpated Blank Forms release of ‘Petra’ is a recording of its American premiere on May 4th, 2017, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on West 20th Street, NYC, performed by Marianne Schroeder, a Swiss pianist specialising in New Music, and Stefan Tcherepnin - great-grandson of the legendary Serge.
Originally commissioned for the ISCM World Music Days in Switzerland, and written for two pianos, ’Petra’ forms a unique extension of Amacher’s electronic working methods, requiring a poised precision and patience from the players who segue from glacially reverberant serenity to passages of ragged dissonance, taking the music into realms shared by Amacher’s inspirations, Giancinto Scelsi and Galina Ustvolskaya, while also subtly manifesting the piece’s literary influence from sci-fi writer Greg Bears’s short story of the same title, where the gargoyles of Notre Dame come to life and breed with humans in an apocalyptic future.
The first part is ashen solemn, but struck thru with flashes of exhilarating high register colour, with lots of spooky action found in between the notes, where one can practically feel the church’s architecture impressed in-ear like a watermark. The 2nd part is much more dynamic, riddled with surprises and shadowplay, turning dread-heavy and rhythmically forceful before Schroeder and Tcherepnin gently bring the notes down like leaves on a slow-spiralling autumnal descent, conversely amplifying an uncanny space between the keys and leaving listeners utterly enchanted, aware of their space and presence in a deeply unique manner.
Martin Brandlmayr is an Austrian percussionist, composer and electronic artist, known as a solo artist and for his work in groups such as Radian and Trapist. ‘Vive Les Fantômes’, his first step into radio art, originally aired on SWR (German National Radio) and earned him the Karl Sczuka Prize for Works of Radio Art 2018, the highest achievement for works of radio art in Germany.
"Martin Brandlmayr on Vive Les Fantômes: “The work is based on snippets of interviews, rehearsals and performances by people whose work had an influence on my artistic path: Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Jacques Derrida, Chris Marker and many more. The process involved searching, discovering and creating connections among the material and resulted in a network of sound-objects that appear repeatedly changing their shape throughout the piece. Communication is constructed across different rooms and times, beyond the borders of language and music. ‘Vive Les Fantômes’ is not only a piece of music, it’s rather acoustic cinema with a non-linear narrative layer organized by scenes.”
Fresh pressing of a wickedly choppy ’95 jungle bullet by Danny Styles
Originally on London’s Lucky Spin Records, now reissued by Danny Styles 24 Karat Breaks, ‘Life Is A Roll’ is an immense example of Styles’ deep 1995 flow, transitioning from Giallo-funk intro to ridiculously swung choppage and drilling subs in the original, before the ‘Unreleased Mix’ cuts to the chase quicker with extra fxxking wild choppage and glyding subs.
Unreleased Dillinja rufige from 1995-1996, pressed to vinyl for 1st time by Deep Jungle
A-side’s ‘Luscious Nights’ is Dillinja in pure deep g mode, switching between soulboy jazz licks, severely down pitched vox and militant hardstep breaks in 1995, while the B-side’s ‘Hoes & Tricks’ follows that steez with a ruder swagger, lit up with sirens and rap samples.
Jump-up digi-dancehall jungle murder on wax, cooked up by the G’s behind Shut Up And Dance in 1994
‘Greetings’ steps up with the dartin divi-dub baseline and pitched vocals of ‘Greetings’ on a proper lighter tune tip, and ‘dangerous’ rushes up with rude rolling breaks on a classic raggamuffin vocal. Party!
Another pair of killer takes on Sade’s soul perennial, this time from Rebles following that outstanding Vânia Bastos cover on Soundway’s ‘Onda De Amor’ compilation. Can't even tell you what year this cover first came out, however what we can tell you is that there's an original copy on discogs right now for £370...
This time it’s two Caribbean, not Brazilian, versions, loading a driving ‘Soca’ mix sung by Barbados’ Rebles on the front, and a breezier, stripped-down ‘Club Mix’ on the back.
Nina Kraviz comes correct with her 2012 debut album on Rekids, released some two years after she first turned heads with her debut 12" on Jus-Ed's Underground Quality.
It's an impressive outing, reminding us a lot of Jus-Ed in its remarkable synthesis of old-school Chicago house swagger with New York deepness and the occasional Detroit-influenced overture. Her own vocals feature prominently, and there are guests too - notably King Aus on, er, 'Aus' - but these performances never feel tokenistic or grafted on.
Recent single 'Ghetto Kraviz' is included and still sounds fresh, viewing Dance Mania bumpage through a prism of narced-out Teutonic minimalism, with stalactite-like strings that remind us of those Lost Trax 12"s from a few years back. Sophisticated, moody blue deep housers like 'Taxi Talk', 'Choices' and 'False Attraction' form the backbone of the album, but inevitably it's the more off-kilter cuts that keep us locked: '4 Ben' sounds like the missing link between Cluster and Carl Craig, 'Love You Go' is a pop-acid stomp the likes of which we haven't heard since electroclash and 'Best Friend' is Chi-house elegantly unspooled, the sound of Omar-S falling asleep at the wheel of his souped-up motor.
Yacht-ready soul from Kindness, teaming up with Jazmine Sullivan (Frank Ocean, Mary J. Blige, Anderson .Paak) and Sampha to reveal another cut from the forthcoming album ‘Something Like A War’, his follow-up to 2014’s ‘Otherness’ album
Modeselektor grip Estonian artist Tommy Cash to vocal their techno banger ‘Who’
The original is a cold rush of big room boom boom, eased off by Tommy’s playskool rhymes, while ‘Who Else’ fucks the beat off to go frozen and weightless on a mission into white-out noise.
Wavey raver from SE16’s Flohio and wayward Berlin superstars Modeselektor
The MDSLKTR duo appear to take their cues from the recent Errorsmith album with a rugged sort of dancehall-techno bump, albeit with their patented melancholy lean, while Flohio scuds along with aggy bars about life and money.
Mutant grime/drill/bassline flux from Utah? on the UK’s reliably off-kilter, forward looking Coyote Records
The four tracks on ‘Bronze’ cannily escalate in intensity from the low-key, sidewinding dembow dreams and gushing synth launch of ‘Tilt’, thru the nagging strings and trap bluster of ‘Signal’, to step up from cold and sparse drill styles into Dexplicit or Zomby-like rolige in ‘Bronze’, and the shiny but grimy finishing move of ‘Polymer’.
OG and now revival/reissue label Deep Jungle dish up three unreleased tunes from foundational rave DJ/producer/label owner Simon Bassline Smith
‘Oh Yeah’ tees off with deep sci-fi pads and teef-chattering, frozen snares in inch-taught style, whereas ‘Midnite’ opens out into much lusher space perfused with new age dolphin squeaks inna LTJ Bukem-friendly manner. Flipside sustains the deep pressure into the trim, stepping workout ‘Girls.’
Heavyweight Detroit House and Techno bombs celebrating Tresor's 20th anniversary.
'The Tresor Track' is an archetypal Huckaby weapon, riding roiling synthline flux and optimised 909 percussion designed specifically for Berlin's legendary dancing institution. Flipside, 'Basement Trax' is nastier, hypnotic, no claps, just a tunnelling groove, while 'The Upstairs Lounge' swaggers with almost UKFunky styled drum syncopation in a refined deep Techno context.
Russell Haswell serves vacuum-tight production for Sarah Froelich and Philip Best’s alternately piercing/soberly observant vocals in their 3rd album together as Consumer Electronics, and their first since relocating from London to San Francisco…
In ’Airless Space’ the grizzly trio recalibrate their shrewd gaze from the pre-Brexitlands of 2014’s ‘Estuary English’ to the thick of an unprecedented time in USA, which is currently in the process of fulfilling the dystopian, apocalyptic America of 2020 prophesised in countless films, books and artworks.
Trust CE to grasp the zeitgeist with bare hands in their particular style, with Best and Froelich trading the mic to mete out nearly 60 minutes of wryly sardonic side-eyes at the state of it all, while Haswell variously punctuates the negative space with a palette of bolshy bass drums and noise, or turns the vocals into gargling gurns of bestial wretchedness.
If we’re playing favourites, the increasingly throttled 13 minutes of vitriol and pranging n0!ze jabs in ‘Muder of JJ’ is substantial, while Best is at his most unsettling with the unflinching cool delivery of ‘Carnage Mechanics’, and they come together most fiercely when the vocalists trade the mic over pelting rhythm and bone-twanging twitches in ‘Play Therapy’, with Best uttering the truest lines: “Stay indoors all day, that’s what i do these days / Never leave the house if I can help it/ why would i fucking want to?”
Avant-garde composer and student of La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Jung Hee Choi, Ellen Arkbro renders sustained and harmonically opaque chords on her stunning second solo album for Subtext. More minimal and extended than her 2017 debut ‘For Organ and Brass’, 'Chords’ is a focussed study in a gradual manipulation of acoustic timbres, using subtle synthesis of organ and guitar through two extended pieces bound to generate uncanny sensations to anyone familiar with the conventional tone of her chosen instruments.
Although underpinned by mathematical rigour, Arkbro draws direct connections to sacred music through a strict method of reduction, stripping away elements in a process she likens to a sculptor chipping away at stone. What’s left is primed for a kind of mind-altering osmosis, where the listener gradually fills in the gaps, or as she tells the most recent issue of The Wire “…what you pay attention to will change what you hear”.
Influenced by her teachers and the spirit of New York’s 1960’s Downtown scene, Arkbro is meticulous in her process and use of unusual tunings to reveal strange, sustained sounds that seem to continuously change shape. This pursuit of a kind of sonic “emptiness” belies the often unearthly spatial dimensions she manages to conjur, making highly perception-based sounds that have an almost supernatural quality.
The results sit somewhere between sacred and industrial music, a listening experience with highly meditative, spiritual, sometimes disturbing qualities - quite a remarkable achievement.
Keenly watched newcomer Amazondotcom definitively sets out her killer, technoid tresillo style on ‘Mirror River’, the first release on her L.A.-based Subreal label
After setting out a taut, striped-down and rhythm-driven style in collaboration with Siete Catroce for Nostro Hood System and also appearing on Astral Plane in 2018, the ‘Mirror River’ EP is the one we’ve all been waiting for - a suite of rude, big-boned dembow mutations coloured with alien electronics and destined to tie the dance in slinky knots.
‘A Flower, Nocturnal and Permanent’ starts the flow with a sort of oozing mix of dancehall and plunging UK garage basin effortless weightless fashion, while ‘Priestess’ expresses her shamanistic potential in a mesmerising rub ’n tug of enchanted, tribalist rhythm nous. ‘A Drum to Ward Off Language’ follows with more traces of UK grime spliced into an outstanding hot-stepper, and ‘Leopard’s Dream’ trips out on a playful acid pivot highly compatible with your best NAAFI and Príncipe bits.
Featuring one of the greatest switch-ups of any techno record, ever, Maurizio’s 12 minute Domina spends precisely half the track lulling you into the deepest trance before an immense 2nd wind sets the whole thing on a kicking new course.
Doesn’t sound that special on paper but f**k me it works. Flipside is Carl Craig’s immense Mind Mix, filleting the original sample of Manuel Göttsching’s Die Dominas into the deepest Detroit dream sequence...
Throbbing Italo-Electro/EBM/Acid pressure from a Roman stronghold on the newly minted label; Hiroshima 45 Chernobyl 86 Windows 95
Stemming from affiliation with Rome’s Knick Knack Yoda hotspot, ‘Pubblicazione 003’ revolves a mix of new and well established acts converging on a mutually raw and machine-driven styles.
A-side features an unmissable highlight in Sneaker’s edit of a sought-after 1987 EBM gem from Mexico’s Roxana Flores aka Interface, alongside Raw Ambassador’s scuzzy EBM kerb crawler, ‘There Is No Way Out Here’.
B-side, label boss Matéo Montero aka Romance makes unexpectedly ace use of a Robert Smith vocal jabbed into a cranky acid trak, and Dutch wave hero Das Ding metes out the dirty slompy jakbeat ’Static II’.
‘Untitled (18 Artists)’ revolves a cast of explorative UK + US artists including Mala, Coby Sey, Lord Tusk and Kojey Radical taking physical and metaphorical inspiration from Jean Michel-Basquiat’s art and music just over 30 years since he died in NYC, 1988
Variously influenced by his seminal artwork, as well as his singular music made with Gray - from spiritual guidance to actual samples of their sought-after ‘Early Works’ - the 18 artists involved treat the material with a fine mix of reverence and artistic license, generating highlights between Mala, Joe Armon-Jones, and Nubya Garcia’s rugged jazz rendering of ‘Drum Mode’ as ’Scratch & Erase’ with additional NYC street noise; a banging piece of dancefloor swagger by Lord Tusk in ‘Know Ways’; and the psychedelic abstraction of ‘Response To Michel’ by Maxwell Owin & Coby Sey.
Oake really find their gothic muse in debut album, 'Auferstehung' for Downwards.
Firmly building on the foundations of two shadowy 12"s released in 2013, the duo distill and transcend their influences across eleven stations of unrepentant gothic histrionics and industrial techno prostration. The production is now right up there with the detailed, excoriating levels of The Haxan Cloak, and also matching the rhythmic heft of label-mate Samuel Kerridge (with whom they recently formed the UF collusion), but with a kohl-eyed romanticism all of their own creation.
From the swooning black metal/shoegaze signatures and blast beats of entrance, 'Vorwort: Umiha Sien' we're manipulated with the near-religiose levels of mysticism, vacillating between shorter, doomy 'Kapital' invocations and the blasted sound of bellicose/ecstatic congregation in 'Erstes Buch: Desterieh l'Remm' to the eulogistic sludge metal drones of 'Fuenftes buch: Dreloi Wechd' and the stygian trudge of 'Sechstes Buch: Rehmin Sicht', departing with the widescreen epic, 'Siebstes Buch: Drestan Sened'. RIYL Scott Walker & Sunn 0))), Sam Kerridge, Swans.
Untouchable Berlin techno business marking the emergence of René Löwe a.k.a. Vainqueur, and one of the earliest appearances from Maurizio on their all-time classic remix
Vainqueur’s Lyot locates dub techno’s roots in a mix of prickling EBM drums and Detroit chords stripped down to the bare essentials and tweaked out for long nights of aerobic mysticism.
The Maurizio remix is by some measure the tuffest they’ve done, kicking off with hair raising intro and that awning breakdown before it boots off royally with that chord coda and megadome boom.
Burial’s sophomore LP, originally issued in 2007 only a year after his pivotal debut, is another masterpiece of urban UK composition and innovative imagineering whose sense of melancholic space, pop-wise dexterity and dancefloor yearn has rarely been explored or surpassed since its release.
Where its predecessor was starkly paranoid, mostly instrumental, Untrue was gilded with gorgeous, cut-up R&B and UKG vox, and interspersed with segments of nocturnal reverie that played out like the OST for a yung UK romance that replaced posh, gurning actors with real life road characters and focussed on the spaces between - between the club and home; between night and day; masculine and feminine; waking life and dream life; Maccy D’s and alley doorways; being high AF and coming down.
It was and still is Burial’s love note to UKG and R&G, and by turns gave context and validated those genres for a lot of listeners who arguably wouldn’t have touched that sound, or at least dismissed it as pop pap or with some snide, racist undertone before Burial’s revivalist instincts hybridised it with trip hop and snarling D&B memes.
More positively, however, depending on which way you look at it, this album also opened the endorphin floodgates for a whole raft of f****e garage producers to get in touch with their feminine side, especially in contrast to prevailing, laddish dubstep rave trends, and, since that sound has faded away, it’s not hard to hear this album’s influence in the vocal processing of Mssingno, in the uneven, off-kilter swing and parry of Zomby, the patch-worked constructions of Jamie xx or Evian Christ, or in Deadboy and Murlo’s more boundary-pushing creations.
As with any album that gets a lot of attention beyond its putative scene, Untrue was an unintended red rag to the cynics and rockists - and even garage purists - but for almost anyone who recognises and appreciates that more modest, aching sort of electronic, UK street rave soul, it remains a really transcendent album that still grips like few others.
An excellent Arvo Pärt primer...
"Arvo Pärt creates music of deceptive simplicity, and listening to his work can be a transformative experience. Imagine taking your ears on a retreat, and you’re some way to understanding why his work is so popular.
The Estonian composer underwent his own transformation in the 1970s, having explored dense avant-garde music in the early part of his career. He put himself through an eight-year creative exile, and emerged with a new, purer voice. The Arvo Pärt that many people are devoted to today (including R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Björk) creates music that cleanses. A sonic detox."
Mesmerising rhythms and mutant electronic brilliance from Don’t DJ, doing it for the veterans at Honest Jon’s
An absolute master of rhythmic patience and sleight of hand, Don’t DJ presents some of his very slinkiest, winking and infectious grooves in the ‘Laniakea’ set. Leading on from last year’s double-pack with Berceuse Heroique and a split with Bear Bones, Lay Low, he appears ever more confident to let the rhythm ride, using only the most minimal nudges and tonal gestures to keep listeners entranced.
On disc 1 he wickedly, subtly accentuates dembow drums with roving modular bassline until a rudely acidic denouement makes it a straight-up winner, while the B-side segues from craggy noise into pulsing, needlepoint Afro-latin rhythms stroked over with looming pads to deliciously darkside effect. Disc 2 follows with the EP’s straightest playing an offset hustle of 4/4 kicks and grubbing percussion, developing into phasing, glassy motifs, and finishes with an exquisite turn of crystalline dancehall torque, nosedrip tang and loping ambient groves.
A quiet genius at work, deep in the pocket.
‘Mandy’ is the exceptional final soundtrack realised by dearly departed composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for the film directed by Panos Cosmatos. A supporting cast of Stephen O’Malley, Kreng and Yair Elazar Glotman, plus production from Randall Dunn ensure a majestic final missive and one of the most rich and varied releases in Jóhannsson's canon, taking in elements of metal, drone and doom ambient, even retro-futuristic synth work...
With a crack squad including O’Malley on guitar and additional production from gifted sound designers Randall Dunn, Pepijn Caudron (Kreng) and Berlin’s Yair Elazar Glotman (Ketev), the results lurk like blinking red eyes in a dense nocturnal forest, swarming in formation from widescreen romance to petrifying, plangent cues and pockets of heart-sinking gloom, saving the gnashing guitars for when their bite is felt strongest, but equally knowing how to send shivers shooting down the spine in moments of sublime, contrasting relief on the ‘Memories’ theme.
Jóhannsson's deft approach to sonic extremities is the real eye opener here; far removed from the emotionally driven demands of his more mainstream work for hollywood, here we're taken through grinding, industrial metal scrapes one minute and insanely rich ambient textures the next - with no concession to soaring emotional cues. Not that Jóhannsson ever really succumbed to much of that; but nonetheless - it’s a total pleasure to hear him reach into those darker recesses on Mandy - a soundtrack that’s likely to be remembered as one of his best.
R.I.P to a true master.
Another heart-rending beauty from Sean McCann’s Recital, following superb LPs by Sarah Davachi and R.I.P. Hayman with Alex Twomey’s first album under his own name. Featuring stately, immersive compositions for brass, strings, solo piano, woodwind and electronics, it’s a startling, full-bodied approach that places 'The Entertainer’ well outside the current taste for more disposable ambient and environmental recordings, and for our money, one of the great albums of the year so far.
Best known for his work as Mirror To Mirror, Twomey has been largely absent from our airwaves since his last release for the Preservation label in 2012, an album we described at the time as sounding somewhere between Jeff Witscher’s Rene Hell and ‘Victorialand’-era Cocteau Twins. The 7 year pause for thought has pushed Twomey into much more introspective and interesting terrain; weaving orchestral elements around his still searching electronic foundations.
He takes us from the breathless opener "Red Zone” - reminding us of the tragi-romantic opulence of Kara-Lis Coverdale’s still peerless ‘Aftertouches’, and into the overflowing brass arrangements of 'Pig Symphony’, sounding like a Disney scene re-purposed into minor key solemnity - like a funeral march rendered in pastels. ‘Fun in Vegas’ and 'Velvet on Foam’ each deploy two minutes of gauzy bliss, alongside the barely contained emotional minimalism of 'Just Drinking’, while 'Driving Home’ soars to almost Vangelis levels of sci-fi romance.
Modest in length, each of 'The Entertainer’s’ 11 pieces clock in between 2 and 4 minutes long, acting like "vignettes alluding to a vague narrative”. But the duration belies a richness of ideas and honesty in execution that’s inspiring to behold, taking us on an often wrenching emotional journey that’s, above all, highly believable. Or as the label put so well “...melodies dance as twinkling bulbs along a retired parade float. A dark comedy, a tragic smile. Love found in the rough of it all."
Midwest US techno hero Bill Converse coughs up his chewiest batch of gristly hardware off-beats yet for Dark Entries. Make sure to check for the churning azid of ‘Az Ah Zee’, ‘Said & Done’, and ‘W.A.T.B.’ starring guest vocal by Carlos Souffront, plus the aerial electro of ‘Flood’, and the Porter Ricks-style slosh to ‘Harbour Air’
“‘Hallways’ the third full length from Austin, Texas analogue hardware enthusiast Bill Converse. Immersed in the early days of the 90s midwest rave scene, Bill began DJing at a young age in Lansing, Michigan. Luminaries such as Claude Young, Traxx, and Derrick May were key early influences. Techno, noise, ambient and tape processing are all part of his uncanny sound palette.
‘Hallways’ is an 80 minute journey spread across 12 tracks. All tracks were recorded directly to tape with no overdubs, made at Converse's home studio over the past 2 years. Bill says, “One idea for this album is 'through bardos’, the gap or moment of transition between two things according to Buddhism. Like an experience in meditation and attempting to find realization/s on the way through the illusory and interdependent nature of good old fashioned REALITY.” Built around crunchy synthesizers, harsh drum machines and jarring acid lines, the tracks share a darker tone than Bill’s previous albums and one song features guest vocals by music gourmet Carlos Souffront, a true DJ's DJ from Detroit.”
Crispy, rugged techno steppers and glum synths from Copenhagen’s YWF, backed with smartly blunted remixes by Freunde Der Familie
YWF puts his back into the reverberating bass drums on ‘Replaced’ before skulking sideways into dockside dark ambient with ‘All Is Temporary’. Berlin’s FDF pull the vibe back to the ‘floor on the flipside with two takes on another YWF tune ‘Cutoff’ in a glia dub techno ‘Reshape’ and the rudely distended, gravelly swill of their ‘Datys of Doom’ remix.
City & I.O shatter distinctions between free jazz and metal with with strikingly unique technique and attention to atmospheric details
“The debut collaborative album by City & i.o. Composed long-distance over several years, ' Spirit Volume' finds the musicians combining City’s industrial brutality with i.o’s frenetic, highly technical drumming. Curiously, the meeting of the two results in moments of serenity and calm that are few and far between in both of their solo oeuvres. “Faith,” a rework of a similarly-named piece that appeared on City’s debut Halcyon Veil LP, is the high water mark in terms of intensity, while “Markerlight” is an almost Bohren-esque night drive through i.o’s expansive and gorgeous guitar playing. “YS” features plaintive synth work from fellow Vancouver producer x/o .
City is the alias of guitarist and producer Will Ballantyne, based in Vancouver. City has released records on Halcyon Veil and Ascetic House, and toured extensively throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. i.o is a band consisting of Maxwell Patterson; drummer, guitarist, producer, and visual artist. Maxwell lives and works in Victoria, BC.”
Recorded at Battery Park NYC’s River to River Festival on July 4th 2008
This now classic Sonic Youth set features totemic live versions of career spanning tracks such as ‘The Sprawl’, ‘Schizophrenia’ and ‘Bull In The Heather’. Initially only available with preorders of 2009’s ‘The Eternal’, this incredible live document has been made available again on vinyl a decade after
its original releas
Another JK Flesh slaughter darkens our doorstep, this time very slowly for Kevin “The Bug” Martin’s Pressure label.
Slamming at a sullen 75bpm, ‘In Your Pit’ sets the pace with sludgy distorted leads wrapped to a metronomic tick borrowed from Andy Stott's pair of 2011 knackered blueprints, wind tunnel nightmare styles, before The Bug remixes it with a killer, swaggering kink in the step for a deathly depth charge. JK Flesh then forces out a vein-popping strain of effluent flow in ‘Paranoid Archetype’, and wipes off with the howling shudder of ‘Rub Me Out’. Big one.
“Free” rap wildness from Washington D.C.’s NAPPYNAPPA and Pat Cain, produced by local freak Max D aka Dolo Percussion
Adding to Model Home’s tally of 7 albums already, ‘8’ is the latest example of the duo’s “butt-naked expression,” in a style comparable to Migos meets Sensational, running their signature weirdness to the severely discombobulated ‘Orbital’ and knotted acidic gunk in ‘Push Thru’, whereas ‘No Threshold’ and the drunken stagger of ‘Doen From Love’ inject some scuzzy funk in a way recalling the barely-hinged blatz of Yeah You and Elvin Bradhi.
Finally, Music From Memory carry us back over the Atlantic to survey Brazilian flirtations with electronic and contemporary music c. 1984-1996, covering a spectrum of new wave pop, ambient balm, and experimental grooves. Killer set!!!
It’s maybe fair to say that, during the golden era for ambient and electronic dance music - roughly the period covered in this comp - Brazil’s contributions have been largely overlooked in the Western world. ‘Outro Tempo II: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1984-1996’ seeks to remedy this with a cherry-picked overview of this epoch that highlights spellbinding works by Mitar Subotić (aka Serbian producer Sub/Rex Ilusivii, tipped off by Vladimir Ivkovic) alongside stacks of uniquely humid, sensuous, feverishly psychedelic visions from artists you’ve likely never heard before.
Mitar Subotić is credited on three highlights, including a gem in ‘Velvet’ from his psychedelic samba-rock project Angel’s Breath, and Faust Fawcett serves standouts with his Lena Platonos-like ‘Império Dos Sentidos’ and the slunky bump of ‘Shopping De Voodoos’, but if it’s straight-up dancefloor heat and percussion that you’re (understandably) looking for, then it’s best to check out peaches such as May East’s woozy batacuda ‘Maraka’, the spaced-out, psychy slosh of Akira S, the lithe but smudged jazz-fusion shimmy of ‘Ilha Grande’ by Jorge Degas & Marcelo Salazar, and what sounds like one of James Ferraro’s ‘Far Side Virtual’ workouts, but with fruity, squawking vocals in ‘Guero-Guero’ by Tetê Espíndola.
Yorkshire electrobot Tom Knapp aka SDEM coughs up his 1st 12” of cracky dancefloor complexity on CPU
Unavoidably comparable to Autechre’s nervy tics and the asymmetric ructions of Dalglish, ‘Index Hole’ spurts brittle, overpronating bones and knotted tendons at every angle, rolling out form the hyperstep of ‘Arc Rail’ to crooked hip hop-tyle rhythmic anticipations of ‘BX16’ on the front, then wrestling with sheared metallic textures and gut-twysting bass in ‘Mitherer’, and yoking back to a clunky electro style shades away from his early Skams with Mortal + Chemist.
Nearly 30 years since their debut, Plaid remain supple in their exploration of crafty syncopation and off-key IDM harmonics on their 10th studio album
Yielding their first new material since 2016, ’Polymer’ sees Ed Handley and Andy Turner locate ever more playful electroid angles to their sound while getting further under the skin of its mechanics and making it writhe and pucker from the inside out.
The preceding single tracks ‘Maru’ and ‘Recall’ account for two of the LP’s biggest highlights, along with the tendon-twang funk of ‘Drowned Sea’, and a signature piece of fluffy melancholy in ‘Dancers’.
Blisteringly heavy yet glacially poised black metal galvanised with towering synths
Golden Ashes are yet another excellent new discovery by London’s Aurora Borealis, following from their ace Primitive Knot release into the steepest valley of despair and hopelessness where the sun never penetrates.
“A dreamlike descent into the realm of death. A mystified swansong to the days of hope. A dark return of myths through dying light. Eternity admired through the eyes of the dead. A restorer of all things abandoned by light and life.”
Rediscovery of Klaus Schulze’s “long lost” soundtrack for Aussie Gothic classic ‘Next of Kin’ finally surfacing on The Roundtable, newly restored and remastered from original tapes
“Praised by Quentin Tarantino as one of the greatest films from Australian New Wave cinema, Next Of Kin (1982) was a highly stylised psychological thriller in the bloody tradition of European art-Horror. Scored by none other than ex-Tangerine Dream/Ash Ra Tempel drummer and German electronic music pioneer Klaus Schulze, the music featured in the film was a unique hybrid of pulsing Giallo-moods and hypnotic Berlin-School electronica.
Due to the limited availability of the film over the years, rumours have long circulated amongst horror film fans as well as ‘Krautrock’ enthusiasts alike that a lost Klaus Schulze soundtrack existed. Commissioned to write the score, it is true that Schulze composed an original full-length soundtrack for Next Of Kin, although for editorial reasons the complete score was rejected at the last moment by the filmmakers in favour of using pre-existing tracks from Schulze’s studio albums. The final soundtrack consisted of partial elements of this rejected score together with various pieces of early 80s Schulze recordings edited and re-contextualized. Finally rediscovered, the music has been assembled and presented here exactly as featured in the film, documenting a previously lost entry of German Kosmische Musik soundtracking a forgotten piece of Australian Gothic.”
Free jazz meets house and electronics in the first of two archival releases by City Of Women, recorded and due for release 20 years ago, before the band’s “free” catalyst Edward Vesala passed away
In a series of wild tussles collaborating with Jimi Tenor, percussionist Vesala charged City Of Women with a febrile energy that still resonates 20 years later with tracks such as the frayed hustle of ‘Tablakone’ that essentially paved the way for MvO Trio, whereas the wild rhythms of ‘Veivikone’ and the shrieking battery of ‘City of Women’ are just singular slices of jazzy madness.
Amazing and unique private soul/jazz-funk fusion LP, the first release (1980) on Andrew Scott Potter and David Eric Tillman’s PO/ET label. Sublime from the beginning to the end, it has become, just like their second and final release “…Space…Rapture…”, a sought-after collector’s item.
"Andrew and Eric both come from Chicago. They met in the early 70's, shortly after Eric's discharge from the U.S. Air Force. They played together on the local jazz scene for several years (among others, with Maulawi). During that period, Andrew also toured with Minnie Riperton and Eric toured with The Dells, Linda Clifford and others. In the late 70's Eric left Chicago for Los Angeles, when he began touring with The Temptations. Since moving to California Eric has played and/or recorded with a variety of artists, including, Willie Bobo, Justo Almario, Alex Acuna, Norman Connors, Billy Paul, GAP Band, Linda Hopkins, Billy Higgins, O.C. Smith, and many others."
Grime’s OG class clown gets loose and freaky on four instrumentals from the archive
Up top he runs out the Riko Dan-sampling trample of ‘Kill All A’ Dem’ and the bandy-legged wobbler, ‘Taliban’, which is far dafter than the title implies, while the backside is loaded with DVA’s angular remix of MC Mega’s Most Wanted cut ‘Dangerous Liasons’, and the sidewinding tribal wickedness of his take on Wiley’s ‘Apocalypto’.
Full spectrum juke and footwork styles from the scene’s Aussie outlier, Jake William Innes, or DJ Innes to the rave
Clocking up stacks of 160bpm gear along with swerves into old skool jacking tempos and cunty ballroom bangers, ‘Shouts Out!’ is a lot of fun, finding a canny balance between authentic Chicago flair and dare-to-be-different tweaks through a mixture of collabs with the likes of Traxman & Boylan plus link-ups with ballroom specialist Divoli S’vere and Be3k.
Make sure to check out the mad cunty juke bubbler ’Naked Rewerk’ featuring Be3k and the footworking ballroom fusion of ‘Ckunt Fevah Hi-Temp Rewerk’.
4Hero’s Marc Mac delivers 17 summery golden-era style hiphop instrumentals raw and direct from his MPC
One of two LPs alongside the ‘Blue’ side, they contain some 38 beats between them, including many which have previously starred vocals, but all available as instrumentals for the first time.
The vibe recalls classic killer Madlib and J Dilla beat tapes from over a decade ago, with tracks seamlessly segued (there are no individual track markers) and primed for listeners to drop the needle, sit back, and spark up.
Berlin-based cineastes, bookworms and musicians Dice Miller and Enir Da aka Fith cross paths with Ran$om Note’s Outer Reaches sublabel in a strong follow-up to their 2016 LP for Berlin/Salford intermedia co-op, Wanda
Last heard on the ‘Saints of Cinema’ CD in ’17 with Ono’s Michael Holland, Dice Miller is a commanding presence under the spotlight of ‘Swamp’, channelling the clipped post-punk enunciation of Anne Clarke or Angela Conway in crisply dreamy style over efficiently psychedelic, minimal production by Enir Da, landing somewhere between Tolouse Low Trax/Toresch/Decha, the ‘Decoder’ soundtrack, and Dome.
“The project, currently comprised of members Dice Miller, Enir Da, Rachel Margetts, ChrIs Lmx, and Arnaud Mathé gesture towards notions of the literary salon, expanded cinema happenings, and the ancient traditions of Greek oratory and religious sermons. With Swamp, FITH become a refined force on a record where all their compelling pluralities and attributes are honed and augmented; everything dilated to delirium.”
Penelope Trappe’s excellent 2nd album remixed by Mogwai, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Paul Corley, Nik Colk Void, Aasthma, Félicia Atkinson and many others.
Mogwai supply a weatherbeaten rework of ‘Burn On’; Cosey Fanni Tutti isolates the vocal from ‘Carry Me’ with effect with enigmatic magick deafened by her own, smeared brass lines, Paul Corley diffuses ‘Nite Hive’ into somnambulant tranquility, and Nik Colk Void reworks the same elements with a dry rhythmic punch. Peder Mannerfelt & Pär Grindvik’s Aasthma turn ‘Connector’ into a febrile piece of hardcore dream-pop; and Félicia Atkinson sees the LP out with a sublime aesthetic flipside to Mogwai’s take on ‘Burn On’ full of quiet, sunny day promise.
Fracture galvanises OG jungle and footwork flexes with exacting, up-to-date production for his 1985 Music label.
Swing Ting’s Fox lends an original Caribbean sweetness to the vacuum-tight jump-up rolige and pinched early rave stabs of ‘Give Me Love’ before the instrumentals roll out fully between the clenched/lush hardstep pressure of ‘Feel 4 U’, the barrelling Digital-style rolige of ‘Realise’ with Alix Perez, and the bouncing bomb, ‘Brothers and Sisters’.
Stefano Pilia (3/4HadBeenEliminated, Zu93) drifts between post-rock, experimental electronics, and quietly rustic ambient folk themes in the 2nd instalment of Die Schachtel’s newly minted Decay Music imprint.
“Born in Genoa and based in Bologna, Pilia is a guitar player and electro-acoustic composer concerned with the sculptural properties of sound, offering particular focus to its relationship to space, memory, and the suspension of time - the conceptual undercurrent of In Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni. Comprised of corresponding compositional triptychs on each of its two sides - the final act of both featuring contributions from experimental music heavyweights, Rodrigo D’Erasmo on violin and David Grubbs on piano, the album builds vast, inhabitable expanses of ambience from long tones and shattered cuts and collisions, punctuated by clusters, sweeps, and careful interventions of texture and note. In Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni – as this eerie palindrome and endecasillabo (a syntactic form in classical Italian verse) from Virgil suggests – moves through a path of alchemical symbolic narratives and poetic abstraction humbly reminiscent and allegorically inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy and by the Nekyia (‘evocation of the dead’) parts found in Book IX of Homer’s Odyssey.
Based on symmetrical harmonic, melodic and narrative properties and filled with intangible narrative, haunting abstraction, fleeting visions of eerie space, and slow motion melody, Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni pushes electroacoustic music toward symphonic dimensions - dramatic arcs with echoes of high Minimalism, historic ambient music, and the radicalism indeterminate forms. Through a wise, peculiar and abstracted use of guitar instrumentation, the sound surface of the compositions reaches deeper electroacoustic-symphonic dimensions, echoing minimalist works, ambient music and indeterminate contemporary forms.”
Finally, a re-issue of the mighty debut full-length from Bikini Kill, originally released in 1993 on Kill Rock Stars...
"Bikini Kill was a feminist punk band that was based in Olympia, WA and Washington, DC, forming in 1990 and breaking up in 1997. Kathleen Hanna sang, Tobi Vaiul played drums, Billy Karren (aka Billy Bordom) played guitar and Kathi Wilcox played bass. Bikini Kill is credited with instigating the Riot Grrrl movement in the early ’90s via their political lyrics, zines, and confrontational live performances..."
Aye this one's a goodun. Japanese grindcore icon Eri Fuzz-Kristiansen, aka Viviankrist, keeps the curveballs coming on Diagonal with her bloodied mastication of charred noise and rhythmic electronics, following up the label’s acclaimed recent sides by Sote and Not Waving/Jim O’Rourke. It's an intense howl of a record that comes highly recommended if yr into anything from Alberich/Prurient to Aphex Twin’s Ventolin, Pan Sonic to Kali Malone.
‘Cross-Modulation’ is a brutal testament to the acridly personalised sound that Viviankrist has explored solo since 1995 in Tokyo, when she performed vocals, sax and SP-202 sampler in her first industrial/noise unit. 23 years later her music is still sorely raw, yet riddled with a new found poignance and atmospheric unease that places her music sometimes as close to Kali Malone’s see-sawing dissonance as the power electronics of Pan Sonic or the possessed pulses of Conrad Schnitzler and Merzbow.
Since the demise of Eri’s main project Gallhammer at the start of this decade, when she moved from Tokyo to Oslo (home of her husband and bandmate in Sehnsucht, Maniac - also former vocalist for BM legends Mayhem), she returned to her early Viviankrist alias from 2017 as a place to express her primitivist-futurist urges, resulting a trio of CDs including the vicious solo strike of ‘Morgenrøde’ for Cold Spring. Now on ‘Cross-Modulation’ she intuitively tempers that album’s phosphorous burn with a deadly, incisive application of what Black Metal/Techno pioneer Black Mecha terms “mentation electronics.”
Alloying avant-metal with rhythmic noise, ambient techno and mind-bending drone to a metallurgic tang, ‘Cross-Modulation’ serves a dense flux of energies in seven parts, piercing a path thru maelstrom electronics in ‘Eleventh’ to churn up grizzled Vainio-esque rhythms in ‘Blue Iron’, while the tenderly bruised ambience of ‘Midnight Sun’ provides a bittersweet palette cleanser for the tart technoid prang of ‘Insects’, a bout of slow gripping psychedelia in ‘Out of Body’, and the rugged North European pastoralism of ‘Behind Mirror.’