Toulouse Low Trax, Benoit B, K100 Signal and Bartosz Kruczynski remix the new age ambient dance charms found on Into The Light’s 2017 Akis compilation
With 1990’s ‘Into The Light’, which lent its name to Akis’ debut LP and this label, Tolouse Low Trax isolates its rhythmic spine and subtly teases out a reticulated groove in his super minimal but gripping style. The Aegean breeze of ‘Ecological Awareness’ is given a glowing, silky remix by Berlin’s Benoit B, and spun muggier by Greek project K100 Signal, while Bartosz Kruczynski gently handles the nostalgic analog bubblebath of ‘Christmas’.
Co-habitant treads on most sensitive melodic nerves in their exquisite debut and sole release for Chained Library
The eponymous Co-habitant release trades in a distinct style of filigree, pealing, high-register electronic minimalism that uses sparse ingredients to absorbingly meditative effect.
The A-side’s swaying figure in ‘a.003’ is a particular highlight that we could easily listen to on loop for hours, while the B-side has us utterly rapt with the transition from mechanical rhythmelody and fascinating reverberant overtones in ‘b.002’ thru the isolationist SAW II tingles of ‘b.003’ and the sallow ripples of ‘b.004’.
A real gem, this one. Don’t sleep!
Anonymous members of UVB-76 weigh in a 2nd 12” of dark ambient/noise/D&B as 4 6 2 5
On ‘Sedition’ they dance with the ghosts of late ‘90s warehouses, where shuddering dancehall bass hits and swarming grey noise set the scene for rolling breakss to fade in, flex out, and drop back into the murk. ‘Crown Of Nails’ follows with a more bolshy attitude, arriving from sheets of ambient noise with a barrelling, turgid bass recalling styles from Pessimist’s Blackest Ever Black album, but heard from the engine room of a hulking great freight liner awaiting demolition.
Carl Craig follows Stacey Pullen’s lead to mix the 2nd volume of ‘Detroit Love’, starring a slick and funky selection of cuts Kevin Sanderson, DJ Minx, Mr. G, Derrick May, Ectomorph, The Dirtbombs, and many more
The 1hr 37 min mix appears alongside its components, turning up highlights in Gay Marvine’s kinky bathhouse remix of ‘Credit Card’ by Interdimensional Transmissions’ BMG & Sal P; the twisted jazz-techno of ‘Boss’ by Brain; Floorpan’s gospel techno rework of Sophie Lloyd’s ‘Calling Out’; Derrick May’s all-time classic ‘ is It What It Is’; and the rude electro swivel of ‘Satori’ from Ectomorph.
‘Morphic Dreams’ is the sophomore LP by Alessandro Adriani, including guest input from Simon Crab (Bourbonese Qualk) and Shawn O’Sullivan (Led Er Est, Civil Duty)
A crucial cog in the wave machine with his Mannequin Records, and a gatekeeper to one of Berlin’s most feted clubs in his role as programmer of Säule in the guts of Berghain, Alessandro Adriani is by many measures a key player at the intersection of retro-futurist Industrial, EBM, post-punk and techno. Leading on from the cinematic vision of his debut LP, 2016’s ‘Montagne Trasparenti’, his follow-up is defined by its dancefloor-ready stance and is full of dead-on jak beats extracting what he needs from Italo, Industrial and EBM, to galvanise 11 tracky trax of bare bones rhythms and fanged, fleshly arps in his dry style.
Falty DL leans on a proper brukbeat flex, channelling varying degrees of 4Hero/Dego and jazz/hardcore/Footwork-related rhythmic madness for UTTU
Straight out of the gates he runs needlepoint drum programming and helter skelter jazz keys at 150bpm with dizzying flair in ‘Untitled 111vgr’, before ‘Beast’ trims back to a 125bpm electro ride with vacuum sealed production for freshness.
On the other side his hardcore darkside electro urges come into play on ‘One For UTTU’ in a way recalling classic Octagon Man/J Saul Kane, before turning on a 2-step pivot, just like they did in the late ‘90s, and ‘Piano 4_9_18 feux master Erie 25%’ session off on a downstroke recalling Roza Terenzi/D. Tiffany’s ambient electro gems for Euphorique.
FatCat’s up-for-it sibling, FCR serve another warped acid dose, this time from Brighton’s Matthew Hodson aka Matths
Rolled out in the chromatic wake of Ali Berger’s 303 session, Matths builds up a head of cosmic techno steam akin to a harder edged Border Community cut with the astral trajectory of ‘Loop’, then brings it down to a low flying night-flight with ‘Velocet’.
Moscow’s Ol draws a warm, multi-dimensional ambient bath for L.A.’s Motion Ward following from their ace 12”s by uon and Ultrafog
Over the course of seven parts ‘Dismeteo’ maintains a silty, suspended flux between spectral ambient and dub-hollowed rhythm structures that push the skeletal designs of his recent EP for Gost Zvuk into more smudged, amorphous shapes.
Up top he glydes from burnished ambient dub in ‘Purant Chaos Voices’ into the gloomily physical emulation of new age alien sound ecologies in ‘Realm’, and a billowing dub-stepper named ‘Morph 21’. On the flip he swivels the underwater drums of ‘Mt Sonix’ in fathomless layers of subbass, and the keeling heft of ‘Hive Mind’ leads into a sort of splayed, seasick 2-step dub somewhere between Jay Glass Dubs and Pendant to leave you satisfyingly reeling but likely wanting to do it again.
2nd part of a rhythm section 1-2 from The Necks’ drummer Tony Buck and roving bass player Massimo Pupillo (Becoming Animal, Zu ++)
“Italian composer and bass-player Massimo Pupillo (ZU) and Australian drummer Tony Buck (The Necks) collaborate in a beautifully haunting, absorbing ambient set, taking in electronic abstraction and free improvisation. Pupillo and Buck are well known for their work with their long-running bands, as well as for their collaborations with musicians of the current international avantgarde scene; Pupillo released for instance with Cindytalk, FM Einheit, Oren Ambarchi, Chris Corsano; Buck with Fennesz, Branford Marsalis, and Magda Mayas. On Time Being/Unseen, you'll experience floating uncanny percussion sounds underlined with heaving subs, sealed in deep and noisy atmospheres. Personnel: Tony Buck - drums, percussion, vibraphone; Massimo Pupillo - bass, electronics.”
Ras G returns to his Ghetto Sci-Fi Music label with ‘Down 2 Earth, Vol. 3’ a decade since his debut, and following in the wake of ‘Dance Of The Cosmos’
The master of smudged hip hop loops is at his woozy, blasted best throughout this episode, sending us horizontal with 12 tracks of bass-heavy booty cushioning and frayed samples baked into a gooey boom bap cake.
While Madlib continues to be conspicuous by his absence for the release schedule, Ras G is effectively left to uphold the old skool boom bap values in his own style here, conjuring a slow and heavy trip that quickly draws us into his soulful, dubbed-out vibe and keeps us smudged down there. Sounds best with a zoot and ginger beer.
Istanbul’s master of haunting spectral pop alchemically weaves a collection of unfinished odds and ends into precious material on ‘Koma’, allowing her sounds to drape, almost unstructured, with an effortless intangibility that’s drawing us in much closer than her more maudlin, crafted song-writing style, with results comparable to Deathprod and, unavoidably, Grouper
“Istanbul based Ekin Fil (real name Ekin Uzeltuzenci) has been making her unique style of haunting drone-pop since 2007 and "KOMA" is her first release on Stockholm based imprint Possible Motive. "KOMA" and its 8 tracks slowly drifts through nocturnal scenery and tape saturated shadowy vocals. Sounds of dark, eerie soundscapes. A production that seems to exist somewhere in a twilight zone.
"KOMA is an album which is based on the combination of separate songs made in various times in the last two years. Songs that sometimes include unwanted noises caused by my broken sound card, songs that I left unfinished with the intention of finishing later. The sleepy and still mood that's all over the 8 tracks may be the response to the hard times that I was not able to react sober to until recently."
Ekin has been releasing albums on LP/digital and cassette formats on American and European labels under her moniker Ekin Fil since 2007. She was awarded "Best Original Film Music" for her first Soundtrack "Kaygi" at SIYAD, 2017 and "Best Film Music" for the Soundtrack of "Korfez - The Gulf" at Turkisches Film Festival in Frankfurt, 2018.
"The hypnotic quality of Ekin Fil's music is buttressed by her haunting voice, but the effect is much more complex than that description might suggest. Her sounds keep a careful, beguiling distance, as if the original source of each note is less important than the echoing trail it leaves behind." — Pitchfork”
Reinhold Friedl’s zeitkratzer perform the tense and often violent ‘Agitation / Starvation’ from an original, electronic score by Polish-French composer Kaspar T. Toeplitz, also included on the 2nd disc
Marking 20 years of releases under his own name, during which he’s worked extensively at the GRM and notably collaborated with the likes of Eliane Radigue and Phill Niblock, ‘Agitation / Starvation’ forms both an objective and subjective rendering of Kaspar’s latest work, with his original electronic score included for reference against zeitkratzer’s instrumental interpretation. The two pieces are meant to be stand alone, but the CD cover does ate that they can be played simultaneously.
On the original electronic score, Toeplitz presents a harsh, abstract gully of free-moving atonalities that erupt with a n often violent nature. There’s almost no respite apart from the relatively poignant breakdowns in the latter half that offer some contrast to the transfixing, spectrum-saturating nastiness. So, then, it becomes all the more fascinating to hear how zeitkratzer’s interpretation makes the instrumental leap into acoustic dimensions. Revolving 11 personnel, including Toeplitz as conductor, Hild Sofie Tafjord on french horn, and Reinhold Friedl at the piano stool, the reset ‘Agitation | Starvation’ in a vaster sound stage, sustaining and diffusing the tension with often petrifying, even alarming results that resemble a warzone or the rendering of a nightmare in sound.
Second Circle pull Vancouver’s Yu Su into their fold with a tender, downbeat follow-up to her split tape with CS + Kreme and 12”s for Arcane and PPU
A snug fit for Second Circle, ‘Roll With The Punches’ operates at a woozy slow tempo that’s sweetly buoyant enough to keep dancers on their feet (just about), but also keep ‘em happy on their hiny in a 2nd room sorta way.
The first two songs are collaborations, firstly with Michelle Helene Mackenzie providing dreamily outta earshot vocals in the new age shimmy of ‘Little Birds, Moonbath’, before Pender Street Steppers chime into the sanguine, dusky balm of ‘Tipu’s Tiger’.
Left to her own devices, Yu Su drifts off to paddle in slow running waters in ‘Of Yesterday’ with lovely percussion and burbling, ‘The Ultimate Which Manages The World’ tests out a delicious sort of satinet ambient pop recalling that ace Frank Harris & Maria Marquez album, and ‘Words Without Sound’ feels like a Don’t DJ piece wilting under the sun.
Youth keep up a killer run of form with the first album proper by Tokyo’s Hoshina Anniversary; a steeply immersive fusion of traditional Japanese instruments with gunky acid and coruscating, psychoactive electronics.
Arriving hot on the heels of Youth’s widely-praised ‘Sports’ comp, Hoshina Anniversary’s ‘Nihon No Ongaku’ extends an invitation into a singular sound world as mazy and enigmatic as the label’s previous solo artist album by FUMU, but informed by a whole other set of reference points.
Comprising over an hour of material, ‘Nihon No Ongaku’ showcases Hoshina Anniversary’s full but particular range, spreading out from the heavy-lidded acid noise hypnagogia to experiments with processed instrumentation and pulsating electronics that recall Sote’s ontological explorations of traditional Iranian music, but woven with curious threads of pinched, minimalist, fluid rhythmelody.
If you’re after highlights, run check for the Don’t DJ-alike percussive cadence of ‘Maai’ - somehow reminding us of both Photek's 'Ni Ten Ichi Ryu' and Ryuichi Sakamoto's 'Left Handed Dream' album, the grubbing electro-dub elegance of ‘Makuranage’, or the oddly sidewinding, darkly jazzy hustle of ‘Saga’ and ’Shindeiru’.
A big tip to fans of owt from Peder Mannerfelt to Foodman, Sote or Don’t DJ!
Garland’s Phillip Jondo and Simon Weis get under the skin with a sublime 2nd batch of plasmic analog/digital dubs spectrally animated in-the-mix by Gordon Pohl’s mastering. One for fans of Bellows, Pole, Jan Jelinek.
Following Lena Willikens’ inclusion of their ‘Sepses’ in the ‘Selectors 005’ 2LP, Colone/Glasgow duo Garland return to their paradoxical states of visceral/spacious, gritty/mercurial with an amorphous body of nine tracks where they intersect sample-based music and electronic minimalism with dub tradition.
The results are immersively abstract yet tactile, swimming from sun-dried strings and surface crackle in ’S.am’ to underwater electro-dub in ‘Gar.Ske’ and the shallow slosh of ‘Eps.Ans’, while they remain porous to more uneven, acousmatic texturhythms in ’Tom.Pt’ and the B-side’s descent into depth-charge electro tremors and druggy, strung-out voices to haunt your bedsit with ‘Fa.de’ and ‘E.ijyh’.
A youngish Mark E Smith is interviewed about all things Fall and Manchester whilst answering by often avoiding the interviewer’s questions in some of Mark’s favourite surroundings- outside on a Manchester slag heap- most answers are preceded by a pause whilst he inhales another draw on his cigarette...
Nate Young hocks up a sticky gob of trip metal ‘tronics in the 3rd volume of his ongoing solo series
With each successive instalment he appears to better get to grips with his current hardware system set-up, and ‘Dance of the Weeping Babe’ serves some of his most satisfying material, lodged somewhere between snotty basement rocker snarl and lumpy dancehall porridge on ‘Human Pond’, while ‘What People Do’ explores distended, gurning acid psychedelia, and some proper wrong ‘un lurch in ‘People Lose’. Allow the i’m-weird-me Ekoplekz styles on ‘Human Food’ and ‘People Food’, though.
Absorbingly otherworldly and brilliant debut of noirish ambient electronics from Joanna John, who steps out of the shadows as a graphic designer for Biosphere and Bocian releases to present her first musical recordings - a big tip to fans of Teresa Winter and Felicia Atkinson
Over the course of six songs Joanna limns the illusive feeling of altered states of consciousness, using half-heard vocals, treacly pulses, and a mix of spacious synths and floating organ tones to connote the para-dimensional logic of heavy-lidded, intoxicated mindframes.
Introducing herself with the quicksand base and barely buoyant whispers of ‘I can’t Remember How I Got Here’, the album continues to induce a deliciously woozy state with amorphous, intimate synth sculpture of ‘Imagined Truth’, while ‘First Morning Out’ dawns suspended organ tones and pitter patter rhythms recalling Felicia Atkinson works. And just as you think you’ve grasped her sound, ‘The Deepest Instinct Is Expressed In Running’ flips the script with a tarry streak of slo-mo darkwave dance music where you almost expect ToC’s Camella Lobo to join in, and fittingly comes followed by the dark post-punk bassline, steepled vocal and creepy chamber atmosphere of ‘Here Warmth Is Transmitted’, with the viscous curdle of her Chris & Cosey-like finale, ‘Nothing Is Changed But Everything Will Alter’ serving to close the first chapter in Joanna John’s quietly promising story.
‘Birmingham Frequencies’ is Biosphere and Bobby Bird’s atmospheric reading of the Brummy pulse at the turn of the millennium
Recorded in 1999 and released in 2000, the CD album explores intersections of location recordings with filigree ambient tones between dual poles of rugged, range-finding dub and exquisitely burnished, Lynch/ Badalamenti soundtrack styles to present a portrait of Birmingham that’s much more romantic and dreamy than you may imagine, especially if you know the place.
20 years later, the album effectively marks a midway point between original, late ‘70s/early ‘80s ambient pioneers and the modern field. It trades in a mixture of crisply polished, well established, classical ambient notions that reflect foundational forms by Eno and Hassell, and a strain of more technoid investigation that’s perhaps prescient of producers such as uon or Pendant.
Ruggedly diverse dance pressure toggling the meter between deft downstrokes, tribalist percolators, and 4th world cyber vibes compatible with Tolouse Low Trax, Low Jack, Ramzi
“Panagiotis Melidis is a singer-songwriter also known as Larry Gus on DFA Records, and Stathis Kalatzis is a techno mainstay formerly known as Mr. Statik. Together they are Territroy, and this spring they release their debut album, Skulls & Plants, on Dekmantel’s UFO label.
The duo has a very specific starting point for their music, and that is the AGET Heracles Cement Factory Plant in Volos, Magnisia, Greece: You’re climbing the Goritsa Hill and the moment you get to the top, you look over to the sea view, but the cement factory dominates the landscape. It lays there almost like a window into the future, where nature, corporate ethos, plant and stone based materials and biochemical extensions all exist as one. The factory is a metaphor that processes the land itself, ignites it in a cancerous way then dumps it into the sea and the atmosphere. It’s a combination of all possible scenarios of optimism and negativity, the essence of trying to do the best for everyone, but accidentally killing everyone in the process.
That contrasting duality is mirrored in Territroy. Each half comes from two separate worlds: graphic novels vs illustration, literature vs empty pages, the functionality and the sheer craft of sculpting sound into feeling vs taking that feeling and analysing it until it no longer exists. More simply put, it is a sports field that is a basketball court at one side and a football pitch at the other, but somehow everyone finds a way to play the same sport, even though one uses his hands and the other his feet.
When one half of Territroy starts a phrase, the other one finishes it, but they speak different languages, and will never be sure if the finished sentence is technically correct, even though they can be certain that it’s definitely finished. What ties them is a constant rhythmic element that is persistent and comes from growing up in Greece and absorbing the rhythmic specificities of Southern Europe and unique Mediterranean attitudes. Importantly, there is also a lot that separates the pair. The result is music that brings together two very different personalities and perspectives but allows them both to coexist, intertwine and unfold in untold new ways.”
Polish visual artist Wojciech Puś crosses a line into sound with the elemental electronic invocations of ‘Endless: Music For Performers’ for native stable, Bocian Records.
Recorded 2016-2018, the six improvisations of ‘Endless: Music For Performers’ are a development of Puś’ piece ‘Endless’, which Bocian describe as “a sensual architecture of images, light, and sound that serves as a base structure for a poetic essay, a dream about identities in process.”
We can’t really comment on how the music relates to the visuals, but the music stands on its own right as a fine, immersive experience full of illusive spectral apparitions and riddled with a midnight logic. They’re really not giving much away about who does what, however we can tell you that there are some string highlights to be found in the opening draft of icy air-con tones and numbly smudged wind instruments on ‘improvisation 1 (Simon & Josef)’, and particularly ‘improvisation 4 (Anton & Jorge)’, which feels like the docking sequence to an alien mothership coming to land at an Eric Prydz show, but slowed 1000%.
Amsterdam’s Knekelhuis survey the enigmatic mystic electronics of Germany’s Wolfgang Reffert aka Dark Star at the cusp of the ‘90s.
Compiled from tapes and a CD self-released by the artist 1989-1992, the music feels torn between ages, cold-fusing cosmic disco synth thrust Carpenter-style electro motifs and colder EBM/industrial impulses for a timelessly slow, cinematic and moody appeal.
“Deep-frozen for many decades, something is on the verge of being released from obscurity. Dark Star is the project of Wolfgang Reffert (Ger). In the late '80s through the early '90s he released a couple of albums that invoke the darkness of infinite space. Clearly influenced by '60s and '70s sci-fi, the mechanical grooves and spiraling synths bring to mind the worlds of Alien, The Forbidden Planet and Solaris.
Utilizing a less is more aesthetic, Dark Star breathtakingly soundtracked space travel to far away galaxies like no other. Rhythmic postpunk drums lay the foundation for slow, down-tuned spacerock that goes deep into industrial proto-techno-like territory, while always maintaining a sense of groove.
Resurrected from the days of yesteryear, Dark Star once again re-imagines the eternal harshness and emptiness surrounding spaceship Earth. Cyborgs, extraterrestrials and genetically modified creatures rejoice on the dancefloor!”
The exquisitely sparing ’Giraffe’ contains Swedish composer Johan Lindvall’s super minimalist works for acoustic steel string guitar and voice, performed by Fredrik Rasten.
‘Giraffe’ is a hugely sparing testament to this mature-beyond-his years and quiet mind’s time-lapsed style of composition. It unfurls in 5 multi-segmented parts, firstly establishing his airy meter with the 14’ piece of plucked, trembling strings in ’21 Nocturnes’, and a series of shorter probing pieces, before those spaced out notes appear to gather closer harmonic relationships with ‘As Though It Had Shut Its Eyes’, all seemingly preparing he stage for ‘Five Songs for Voice and Guitar’. Here, words by Marianne Moore are sung by Fredrik fasten in an unaffected, plaintive style, with space between the notes taken up by the breathing and leathery creaks, while the songs take elegant form recalling the spectres of Hisato Higuchi or a Nico folk song taken to extreme lengths.
A must check!
Cyberpunk jak trax from Tel Aviv’s TV.OUT in hot pursuit of 2018’s steamy ‘Further’ 12”
In four parts they perfectly nail that an early ‘90s Euro/Goa techno-trance-EBM élan, gearing up with the sleek 100HP drive and tensile gurn control of ‘XTC’, before taking the vibe into slow, pounding industrial darkroom vibes with Blackout’, and sealing the deal with a recursive wormhole of titanium-tipped 808s and warped electro-trance leads in ‘Safe House’.
Cellist Charles Curtis searches for phantom sonorities in ‘Orpheus Variations’, a work for solo cello and seven wind instruments played by the SEM Ensemble - one of eight large scale compositions expressly written for him by Alvin Lucier - and specifically based on a particular sonority, or de-tuned chord, from Stravinsky’s ‘Orpheus’ that Lucier can’t shake since he first heard it, decades ago
“Lucier speaks first of a sonority, and only then of a chord. He discusses the chord, its notes and their disposition, but what haunts him is a “particular sonority.” A sonority is the product of physical action on physical materials: the instruments, the registers in which they are activated, the breath of the musicians, the waveforms thus produced, their merging and interfering, and finally the moment and place of these actions. An energy field, certain to vanish completely once the musicians put down their instruments. However concrete and real the actions and materials, the sonority they produce is a phantom.”
John Cage acolytes, Edition Wandelweiser Records, collect Guy Vandromme’s performance of three ‘Number’ pieces for piano from a body of late Cage works composed c.1987-1992
All entitled ‘One’, as the pieces were so named to denote how many players, and which variation they’d play, each piece is structured around Cage’s time bracket technique; providing only short fragments of score (often a single note, with or without dynamics) and indications, in minutes and seconds, during which the fragment can start andy what time it should end. The brackets can be fixed (e.g. from 1.15 to 2.00) or flexible (e.g. from anywhere between 1.15 and 1.45, and to anywhere between 2.00 and 2.30), allowing form myriad subtle variations on the same themes.
In the case of ‘One’ there are 10 time brackets, all flexible except for the ninth./ Each contains music written onto staves, but the content of one staff can be played in any relation with that of the other staff. Guy Vandromme offers two calmly spare 10 minute versions of ‘One’, which, if we’re honest, sound pretty much identical, but do actually differ from each other. There’s also a 20 minute version of ‘One5’ (his fifth work for one player) which has a more complex set of instructions including 21 time brackets for the left hand and 24 for the right. Each contains a single chord or a single note, and the performer is instructed to either hold the pedal throughout, or make as many overlappings as possible (again, using the pedal if necessary). The final piece is very quiet, often tending to the lowest registers of the keyboard and allowing the notes to spread out, smeared into a gently undulating late night panorama.
Low Jack hustles a clutch of mutant industrial dancehall edits for Hospital Productions following his role on a pair of killer Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement releases
‘Breizh’ on the most immediate level is a heavyweight bag of riddims bending industrial sounds into the dancehall template - airhorns and vibes replete - while on another level it’s posited as a comment on the “sociapolitical contradictions and passions” of his home region, the Celtic region of Brittany in North West France, which is reflected thru the cryptic cover art of Celtic glyphs and, perhaps more subtly, in the music’s short-circuiting of cultural dogma.
All cut from live recordings, the five tracks serve ammo to the discerning DJ, ranging from stormy dancehall dread in ‘Robert (Le Bourg Version)’ and woozy reversed loops in ‘They Rule (Cap-Sizun Remix)’, thru to absolute dancefloor wreckers in the cyborg bogle of ‘Plogo (Live Edit)’, a bombed out flip of Richard Brown’s late ‘90s ace ‘Baddis Riddim’, and a mental, recklessly sped-up ‘Tempo Riddim’.
Killer compilation from Honest Jon's focussing on the dancehall vocal and dubs that the Unity Sounds label and sound system dropped to mad effect in the mid eighties. Recorded by a cast of talented amateurs on a Casio keyboard and four-track recorder before being tested on the Unity soundsystem...
The album was recorded by the Unity Sound label workers after the introduction of the early digital sound system, later supplemented by vocals and overdubs in the studio.
Genius throughout with spot-on mastering from Moritz von Oswald at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. Informative liner notes, lush high quality sleeve makes this as essential a comp as 'Darker Than Blue'.
Legendary material, reissued with love.
A total must-have for sound-oriented cinephiles! This is the first ever pressing of David Shire’s OST for ‘The Conversation’, a Francis Ford Coppola classic about a wire-tapper in 1970’s NYC, brilliantly played by Gene Hackman, and featuring sound design by the living legend Walter Murch. Trust Jonny Trunk to execute the job with typically covetable results.
Like Jonny Trunk, we distinctly remember seeing this flick for the first time in the ‘90s (probably late on a schoolnight on Channel 4 in my case) and becoming utterly sucked into the film’s innovative shots and sound design, which uniquely told the story of a wire-tapper, brusquely portrayed as a Mac-wearing and neurotic loner by Gene Hackman, who memorably unravels when, on his latest job, he uncovers a murder.
Even to our naif ‘90s ears, the by-then-vintage movie soundtrack and its subtly innovative sound design felt uncannily sparse and refreshing, especially for a major studio production, and it’s not hard to understand how it’s been referenced as a genre classic countless times since then. With hindsight, we can hear how it dovetails very neatly with the minimalist and avant-garde movements of the ‘70s, arguably in the process becoming a sterling example of the way avant-garde and mainstream ideas fluidly informed each other in that decade.
The music is mostly played on piano by David Shire, who was enlisted for his first ever soundtrack job by his brother-in-law, Francis Ford Coppola. The main theme is a sort of slow ragtime jazz piece which filters thru the whole soundtrack, returning in increasingly tense and prangingly dissonant avant-garde situations that mirror the narrative’s flow of intrigue and tension. It’s not until the 5th track, ‘To The Office/The Elevator’ when this element arrives in the soundtrack, and it only really happens again in a small handful of other instances, but the contrast is so stealthy and subtle that it gets us every time, and works beautifully in balance with the airy, pensive, isolated economy of David Shire’s other pieces in the soundtrack.
Excellent, slow and powerful dancefloor traction from Belgrade’s long-serving Tapan duo for Tel Aviv’s Malka Tuti, who delivered that ace side by Toresch’s Viktoria Wehrmeister aka Decha
Working at a devilish, c.100bpm bounce highly compatible with the DJ style of Belgrade-born Vladimir Ivkovic, the ‘Ghana’ EP is primed for swaggering nights on the tiles with the title track’s undulating tribal charge and the grubbing, slow acid swill of ‘The Beast’ feat. Jan Nemeček and reminding of Black Merlin productions.
Rome/Brussels-based Front De Cadeaux back up the original ‘Ghana’ with a crankier remix full of gloomy space and rockier drums, and Odopt tames ‘The Beast’ with hypnotic percussion and glyding synth drones.
Very classy stuff.
Argentinian saxophonist Sergia Merce appears to flicker in and out of consciousness in ‘Three Dimensions of the Spirit,’ a spellbinding deep dive into microtonal and prepared Tenor saxophones.
Conservatory trained Merce plays with the Berlin-Buenos Aires Quintet and Haiti groups, and has previously collaborated on record with another master of spittle-inflected microtones, Lucio Capece. This is his 2nd recording for Edition Wandelweiser Records after 2016’s ‘Be Nothing.’
Until we got used to his steez by the end of titular opener, ’One Dimensional’, we genuinely weren’t sure if the CD was cutting out or if he suffered from a form of Narcolepsy or self-induced hypoxia (shortage of oxygen to the brain) from his concentrated tekkers. But, no, the piece actually makes use of those lacunæ as ear-palate cleansers in between his strangely harmonised musical sections, each returning similar to the previous part, but always different, beckoning the ear to make out the difference. ‘The Same Morning’ follows at a similarly slow pace, this time stressing queered overtones and beating frequencies after each fade out and in, until he’s hitting some really tweaky nerves, before ‘Ondular De La Espera’ completes the suite with a real test of physical endurance, as Merce somehow sustains his beating frequencies and tremulous overtones for 27 minutes.
This Is Not This Heat drummer Charles Hayward is agog on the cover and gives a career-spanning interview inside.
Equiknoxx chat about an imminent new album release, Alexander Von Schlippenbach does the Invisible Jukebox, and there’s features on Pessimist and co’s UVB-76 Music, and much-talked-about synthesist, Caterina Barbieri. Includes all the usual news, reviews, listings.
Lush and woozy new age ambient dub referencing the classics thru a gauzier lense of enchanted Moogs and lysergic electronics...
“Deep Nalström takes you on a trip to a space where New Age meets Nuova Neapolitan Funk. Crashing landing somewhere familiar, yet alien. The environment, lush, unspoiled. A musical terrain not dissimilar to Vakula`s Arcturus. His Naive Melodies accompanying your slow careful first steps through a forest that time forgot. Wondering at the colours, breathing with the birds, as digital palms creak in the breeze. Navigating Eno & Byrne`s Bush Of Ghosts, while he fuses the ethnological with the technological, as if he were on holiday in Hassell`s Fourth World. Machine interference buzzes like animal chatter.
Gurus impart words of wisdom. Indigenous hominids gather, and drum circle ceremony mixes with Ambient Techno atmospheres. Percussion hits resonate. Bongos are bashed in delay. Tougher beats kicking like Detroit beatdown. Organically grooving like The Seahawks partying with Nu Guinea. Shimmying through Mushrooms Project`s Psychedelic swamp. Cutting a path through Cosmic Handshakes` In The Mist. The ritual, opening temple gates. Portal to a void of calm. A journey through a virtual Eden, from sunrise to twilight.”
Niente' is the mind-blowing document of Ennio Morricone and the legendary Gruppo D''Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza' at the peak of their freeform prowess. It was originally recorded in 1971 as the followup to their near-mythical 'Feed-back' session of 1970 - copies of which change hands for over $1000 - and is actually considered its superior by those in the know...
That dream team comprised the then in-demand soundtrack composer Morricone, plus an experienced, attuned line-up of Battisti D'Amario, Egisto Macchi, Franco Evangelista, Mario Bertoncini, and Walter Branchi, who between them were responsible for a wealth of work, from classic Italian soundtracks to more academic pursuits in sound theory and experimental electronics. T
hey draw deeply and instinctively upon those varied disciplines across 'Niente', from the brain-teasing stereo separation cleft to their ultra-cool consideration of atmosphere and groove, and taste for "new consonance" influenced by the studies of Luigi Nono or Giacinto Scelsi. Powered by dry, motorik breaks, the album spans 16 segments ranging from a six minute introductory piece to short but killer cues, almost always with a sophisticated reserve, but also with a psychedelic funk and avant edge perilously threatening to boil over.
In summation, it's about as definitive as you could imagine, and an essential purchase for fans of anything from Aethenor to Demdike Stare or Cut Hands...
Reactivated UK label Treader continue their vinyl run with Spring Heel Jack and Waddada Leo Smith’s smoky interplay of guitar and trumpet, ‘The Sweetness of Water’, as originally issued by Thirsty Ear in 2004
“The Sweetness of the Water is Spring Heel Jack's fourth contribution to Thirsty Ear's Blue Series. It is their most unabashedly beautiful album yet, showcasing the elegant phrasing of Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet and Evan Parker on Saxophone, accompanied by John Edwards' meaty and textural bass playing and the sensitive drumming of Mark Sanders.
The album clearly reveals the evolution that resulted from Spring Heel Jack's 2003 UK tour, which allowed them to realize their electroacoustic free jazz vision in a more spontaneous setting. Not only does The Sweetness of the Water sound more live and intimate, it also displays a fully developed compositional sensibility, with a muted, meditative atmosphere that results from the masterful Spring Heel Jack production touch. John Coxon's guitar figures heavily, providing a rough juxtaposition to the delicate playing of Smith and Parker. Slow, delicate chord progressions provide the backbone for focused, introspective improvisation. The Sweetness of the Water is another confident step forward for one of the most thought provoking and innovative groups working in music.”
No nonsense hardcore flex from Paul Wollford’s Special Request on Houndstooth
Ditching the concepts and going for the jugular, ‘Vortex’ sees Special Request getting back to basics in two parts of driving, headstrong rufige.
A-side ‘Vortex 135bpm’ is one of his most direct, ‘floor-bending zingers since Bobby Peru’s ‘Erotic Discourse’, essentially applying that track’s OTT metallic delays and flange to a rolling, gnashing breakbeat with wormholing effect. B-side he does the same, but faster with ‘Vortex 150bpm’ pushing the pace to proper, wild-eyed, energy-escalating levels.
Nourishing the zeitgeist, ‘Dancing In Darkness’ collects 14 EBM and industrial zingers from the ‘80s by Throbbing Gristle, D.A.F., Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, The Weathermen, Cabaret Voltaire and more
A primer for the budding darkroom fiend, the set runs the gamut from TG’s sewer-creeping ‘Dead On Arrival’ thru to DAF’s strident anthem ‘Der Mussolini’, Chris & Cosey’s eternal gem ‘Exotica’, the puckered EBM of ‘Control I’m Here (S.D.I. Mix)’ by Front 242, Borghesia’s moody nightlight ‘Ni Upanja, Ni Strahu’, and Meat Beat Manifesto’s proto-darkside hardcore ace ‘Radio Babylon’.
One of Björk’s lesser-known yet definitive studio albums, her soundtrack for ex-partner, visual artist Matthew Barney’s art film ‘Drawing Restraint 9’, is reissued in its original single LP edition
First released in 2005, the soundtrack to ‘Restraint 9’ - one of 19 separate parts in a series - accompanies an unconventional love story set in Japan. The narrative revolves themes such as the Shinto religion, the tea ceremony, the history of whaling, and the supplantation of blubber with refined petroleum for oil, all rendered in Barney’s peerless imagery and attention to detail.
Björk was famously partnered to Matthew Barney between 2000-2013, and her ‘Vulnicura’  album is about their breakup. Long before that, however, she supplied the enchanted music for ‘Restraint 9’, which is notable for the major absence of her own vocals, save for three songs. Rather, she was heavily involved with the production and performance, roping in figures such as Akira Rabelais, Bedroom Community-Founder Valgeir Sigurdsson, Mark Bell aka LFO, Leila, Zeena Parkins, Nico Muhly and and a Japanese children’s choir to help her accentuate the film’s striking look.
American hardcore punk veterans plug in a drum machine and vent their worries about modernity. If you don’t like this check out Holly Herndon’s ‘Proto’ album, and vice-versa
“Technology was meant to be humanity’s tool to combat famine, disease, confusion, and to facilitate life, culture, and innovation. Instead, we’re mired in a digital labyrinth that few care to navigate or even solve. Perhaps it’s not a ruse and the matrices coded by keyboard maestros are a path to liberation, but without querying the constructs we cannot ruminate on their affectations on humanity.
VR SEX are audio/visual provocateurs who transpose the identifiers of death rock, synth punk, post-punk, ambient, and ethereal soundscapes into an audit on technology and its imprint on our collective psyche. Comprised of visionary mercenaries Noel Skum (Andrew Clinco of Drab Majesty), Z. Oro (Aaron Montaigne of Antioch Arrow/Heroin/DBC) on vocals and drums, and Mico Frost (Brian Tarney) on synths and electric bass.
Their debut tome, Human Traffic Jam, focuses on lyrical themes that probe the possibilities of loss of autonomy through social media, the decline of human interaction, and celebrity favoritism. Skum believes in the stabilization of society and preservation of our planet by reducing its amount of procreators.
Through PSRS or Procreation Simulation Reproduction Stimulation, humans can act on their hedonistic desires and not face the responsibilities and consequences that come with being an ill-prepared guardian. The future of our offspring will exist in virtual realms and population growth in turn will be stabilized. VR SEX is the cure to most societal ills.
Thematically condensed into an eight song album, Human Traffic Jam was written and demoed by Skum in a flat in Athens, Greece during the winter of 2017. During a rigorous week long session at Figure 8 studios with experimental and dimensional production extraordinaire Ben Greenberg (Uniform/The Men), Skum solely committed all the instrumentation present on Human Traffic Jam.
Rather than being emblematic of influences, each song on the LP infuses a dire tension that cuts shimmer with fetid frequencies, never establishing an aural hierarchy or urgency. Instead, we’re lead into punchy capsules of “dour pop”; the balance of saccharine and sour so emblematic of the VR SEX hive mind.”
Studio Mule’s rotating assembly, helmed by Kuniyuki, cover a clutch of their favourite ‘80s Japanese music from the likes of Yasuaki Shimizu, Dip In The Pool, and Yellow Magic Orchestra.
Sweetly on the money for a growing number of ears attuned to the gems of Japanese pop and electronics, ‘BGM’ is set to introduce a lot of listeners to some classics picks, strewn between the likes of ‘Face To Face’, Miyako Koda’s take on Yumi Murata’s ambient pop ace - a favourite of Visible Cloaks, too - along with a cover of a cover in Nanako Sato’s version of Yukuhiro Takahashi’s take on Burt Bacharach’s ‘The April Fools’, and Miyako Koda’s funked up spin on ‘Carnaval’, a Japanese dance classic by Taeko Ohnuki, produced by YMO.
Rolling down from the heavens with a total shockout intro, Basic Replay dig deep into the vaults for another selection guaranteed entry into the front of your dancehall pile.
Legendary keyboard whizz Jackie Mittoo is on fine tinkling form, riding the Ayatollah riddim with some hazy synthetic electronical embellishments atop a heavy heavy digital subbass rhythm. Mittoo version's the alltime classic 'Mash down Babylon' on the flip, installing a lush lick of African guitars and working the rhythm up with some driving organ chords in his inimitable style.
Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
At long bleedin’ last Peacefrog cough up a repress of Moodymann’s sophomore LP, Mahogany Brown  for the legion house heads baying for an affordable mint copy.
A sort of sonic psychogeographic dispatch from late ‘90s Detroit, if you will, Mahogany Brown offers a unique, documentarian perspective on house music as it comes thru its teenaged years from a localised, Black, Latino and Gay club phenomenon to its currency as a soundtrack to dancefloors worldwide, and then back to root in one of the cities that first cradled it’s birth along with Chicago and New York.
Equal parts collage, club tools and headphone staples, it unfolds like a hot sticky day in the 313; traversing from the dial-scrolling Radio to the kiddies chorus percolating thru Sunshine, to the reportage of On The Run and M.E.A.N.D.N.J.B.’s gospel soul jazz burn starring longtime accomplice Norma Jean Bell, thru the sublime suspension system of Mahogany Brown, onto the distorted, faded Stonedenjoe (House) and his Black Sunday masterpiece melding gospel, soul and disco like no other at the album’s finale, this record is every inch a classic. No arguing.
A pivotal piece of the early Industrial musick jigsaw, 1983’s ’Viral Shedding’ is an arch example of weirdo machine music finding its feet on the ‘floor
Remastered and dished up on vinyl for first time in 36 years, Nocturnal Emissions’ 5th release knits the sensual swerve of disco and electro with the cruddy textures and slompy lean of early industrial music in 11 parts recorded mostly at their Emission Control centre in London,as well as one live recording made in Bonn, Germany.
Revolving mainman Nigel Ayers and Caroline K in this iteration of Nocturnal Emissions (only shortly before it became a one-man vehicle for Ayers), their sound is firmly lodged between what were then the arguably, mutually exclusive stylistic bedfellows of grotty electronics and swaggering grooves. Nowadays you can’t shake a shitty stick for fear of hitting this kind of music, but back then this sound was uncommon and offroad, and shared by a small pool of artists including SPK, Cabaret Voltaire, 23 Skidoo, Tackhead and Hula.
It’s perhaps testament to the tenacity and prescience of Nocturnal Emissions’ vision that these trax still sound so fresh, as it took the mainstream and everyone else a few years to catch up, but they’ve evidently still never quite gotten over it, as a large section of contemporary dancefloors still can’t shake the styles of highlights such as the fudge funk of ‘Suffering Stinks’, the alien budge of ‘Going Under’, and the salty swagger of ‘No Separation’.
The first ever live performance and recording by Marc Moulin’s sought-after jazz-funk band Placebo, captured at Casino Kursaal during the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1971 and never released before.
"June 17th, 1971, the Montreux Riviera, its delightful microclimate and postcard scenery, its fabled music history and the luscious wines of the region. A dream setting for Marc Moulin to lead his ensemble on a 26 minutes+ jazz adventure - Nick Kletchkovsky on bass, Freddy Rottier on drums, Johnny Dover on bass clarinet, Alex Scorier on soprano saxophone, and Richard Rousselet on flugelhorn. The magic of that night is dripping through Placebo’s sumptuous "Showbiz Suite", a soulful piece in two parts in which every instrument gets enough room to shine, smoothly navigating between cozy cognac-by-the-fireplace funk and heartfelt grittiness, served with a pinch of Soft Machine vibes. It’s the night Placebo was born, when foundations were laid for three classic albums: Ball of Eyes (on which you can hear a shorter studio version of "Showbiz Suite"), 1973, and their final self-titled album.
Born in 1942 in Ixelles, the multifaceted Marc Moulin had one of the most fascinating careers in the history of Belgian music, from his jazz roots and Placebo to founding electronic disco pop band Telex ("Moskow Diskow", "Rock Around The Clock"…), producing a vast array of French and Belgian hits (notably for Philip Catherine and Lio), pioneering downtempo and electro jazz with three albums on Blue Note, and exploring other avenues of expression such a radio hosting and comedy. He sadly left us in 2008. His incredible legacy shall live on."
You’d be forgiven for missing this hyper-limited release earlier this year (only 100 copies were made) - but thankfully we now have an exclusive clear vinyl edition, pressed up in a run of 250 copies as part of our ongoing celebration of the best of 2018.
Without a doubt one of the most daring artists out there right now, Klein makes music acutely symptomatic of its era. Naturally, recklessly combining formerly mutually exclusive styles such as gospel and noise, or ambient collage and R&B, she somehow keeps a distinct aesthetic amid these dense expressions of modernity, cannily reflecting the normalisation of intensifying socio-economic anxieties and the inexorable drive of urban life within her navigations of chaotic sonic environments.
Forging sounds and styles as wild as anything from Bob Ostertag’s ‘DJ Of The Month’, or with the decentred intensity of Aaron Dilloway, Klein’s music is better distinguished by the way she effortlessly bridges dimensions and conjures whole new sensations for the listener to deal with. I mean, if you’re on this site, you’re probably familiar with both Hype Williams and Prurient, but like us, you’d probably struggle to think of another artist who sounds like both of them at the same time, and in that sense Klein’s music is neologistic, syncretic and blessed with an intuitive physics in a way that language and musical perception is only catching up with.
Yet it’s best received and deciphered with a red 3rd eye and porous 6th sense, cos any attempt to limn it in concrete, literal terms will never fully grasp its emotive chicanery and might dull its aura of outright, alien oddness.
Cult Texan electro producer Cygnus at his intricate, funky best for Sheffield’s CPU
Arriving five years on from ‘Tesseracter’, Cygnus’s debut album for the label, ‘Deep Analysis’ continues in pursuit of an OG ‘80s into ‘90s sound into a 2020 clear vision of retro-futurist electro that’s steeped in the classics but equally full of Cygnus’ highly melodic character and meticulous sound craft.
The six track of ‘Deep Analysis’ showcase his talent at every angle, with a trio of vocodered highlights between the rolling swerve of ‘Ultraterrestrial’, the nifty sequencing of ‘Her Majesty (The Universe)’, and the Drexciya-meets-The Arabian Prince electro-rap styles of ‘Sheffield Bleep’, whereas the wickedly messed up title track yields one of his most chaotic, noisy workouts, reminding of Ultradyne, and the closing couplet of ‘Decent of Man’ and ‘Hallucinate Data’ neatly tend to the romantic electro-soul ends of his celebrated style.
Out of print for 34 years, this reissue of Nocturnal Emissions’ pivotal, politicised ‘Songs of Love and Revolution’ reveals the legendary band on the cusp of earlier, bleaker sounds and a ruddy form of electronic pop
Penned during a time when Thatcher was in power, the Miners were striking, and revolution was in the air, or so Nigel Ayers predicted, ‘Songs of Love and Revolution’ is the sound of pessimistic electro-punks girding their loins for what may come, but never really transpired as they imagined.
Instead Thatcher pacified the working classes by selling off Government owned housing stock and duly trampled on the miners, ripping away their livelihood. Today we have minors striking against the use of fossil fuel. What went around doesn’t necessarily come back around.
But the experience left Nocturnal Emissions with fuel for their fire. Applying hardware skill gleaned over the prior five years, they made music for rabble rousing that didn’t rely on the usual punk formulas, resulting massive tunes in the fast and frazzled gob of ‘No Sacrifice (In Love and Revolution)’ and the timeless, magisterial sashay of ’Never Give Up’ with its unmistakeable synth melody by Caroline K.
Nigel Ayers says: "The Miners’ Strike was on and there were riots down our street in Brixton. I was convinced there was going to be a revolution. But it would probably have been quite unpleasant. All these old punks and hippies preaching revolution, I don’t think we were really prepared to live with the consequences. If we actually had a revolution in this country, it would be like Iraq or something, or Syria. But we were having horrible times with Thatcher. All we could do in that sort of milieu was imagine what the alternative would be like."
French modern-classical quartet astrïd return with the first part of a new release entitled A Porthole.
"Conceptually the two records work in unison, focusing on portholes into the abyss, with part one delving into the depths of the deep sea. The tracks are named after various strains of seaweed, the artwork depicting dark waves and uncertainty. Part two will follow in a years time and will turn its attention to the night sky and constellations.
A Porthole continues astrïd’s signature style of billowing guitars, strings and woodwind. Each element intertwined with another, linked perfectly together through restrained jazz-tinged percussion. 2017’s highly-acclaimed release ‘Through the Sparkle’ with renowned pianist Rachel Grimes (of Rachels) set the bar extremely high for this release but astrïd have matched the depth, melody and quality of that record here.
Part one of this journey features some sublime compositions with Cyril Secq’s expressive and bold guitar playing carrying the pieces into chamber music territory, joined seamlessly by a variety of other instruments that swell and soar and fit perfectly into the story being told. Everything seems to have its place, nothing is overplayed or out of step here, there is an organic nature to the way this quartet plays and interacts with one another as melodies circle back and fade away in the same beautiful breath.
A Porthole is a deeply charming record, exercising glorious, nuanced refrain and offering a sort of hope rarely found in music these days.”