Helena Hauff’s first album from 2015 - originally only available on a limited edition cassette - now given a necessary 2LP vinyl cut by Dark Entries. Pairs the world-taking DJ’s patented blunt analog bangers with runs into stark synthetic darkness and ruddy acid, all produced on-the-fly in one take. Check for the grotbag EBM of C45p and the night-vision synths of $§”$43.
"We are honored to present ‘A Tape’, a double LP of early work by Helena Hauff, a DJ and record producer based in Hamburg, Germany. At university she studied fine art, physics, and systematic music science. She previously was a resident at Hamburg’s Golden Pudel Club, where she hosted a night called Birds and Other Instruments. As a selector she weaves energetically between electro, new wave, and EBM. Her music, often recorded live in one take, has a raw intensity to it. She debuted with an EP on Werkdiscs back in 2013 followed by records for Lux_Rec and Bunker sublabel Panzerkreuz as well collaborative projects Black Sites with fellow Pudel resident f#x and Hypnobeat with James Dean Brown.
‘A Tape’ is a compilation of Helena’s earliest recordings from 2011 and 2014, originally released on limited cassette by Handmade Birds in 2015. Clocking in at over 50 minutes, this collection spans Hauff’s musical universe, from jacking acid-techno to krautish zone-outs and scuzzy feedback interludes. It’s tempting to consider it Helena’s debut album, but she views these tracks as mostly forgotten sketches left on the cutting room floor. It a gripping collection of deep, sinister analog synth sequences, industrial dissonance, and heavy percussion. Her equipment set up was a Roland Alpha Juno 2, Juno 60, TB-303, TR-707 and TR-808. Both of the discs end with Hauff stepping outside of the intentionally stiff, robotic rhythms, instead showing her skill at crafting less conventional electronic sounds."
Superb 2nd 12” from Montréal-based duo, Solitary Dancer; including anthem-in-the-waiting Emails 2 Myself feat. an instantly memorable vocal by Cititrax’ Marie Davidson.
Over all four cuts the duo play firmly into a classic electro-techno-disco paradigm, firstly nailing the robust but slinky throb and mesmerising top line of Anything into place, before testing out snappy, booming electro a la Cybotron with Losing Touch, before locking in the icy élan of Emails 2 Myself with Marie Davidson intoning the uncannily Kafkaesque lyric over perfectly poised throbs and posable lead hook - also available in its instrumental glory on the Out-Of-Office-Version.
The wayfaring Cómeme leader heads to Africa for this link up with Johannesburg’s Spoko.
Cómeme co-opt Bacardi House into their worldwide panoply of ‘loony beats’ as founder Matias Aguayo runs through a killer six-track grip of stunted, blunted Kwaito jams with the masterful DJ Spoko. Recorded in Spoko’s Joburg studio over the course of one long night, Dirty Dancing finds Aguayo largely doing his best Bez impression, leaving the Bacardi House originator free to deliver a percussive masterclass.
The title track is a less than subtle, but wholly satisfying, reminder Spoko was the percussive mastermind behind Mujava’s Township Funk, with Aguayo’s input largely shouting “Watch what you doing!” over the top. Ghost of Dombolo is a relentless slab of Kwaito meets UKF, whilst an Elbee Bad acapella inspires Spoko and Aguayo to craft a Bacardi House homage to the classic New York sound on Something about the Groove.
You can’t have a Cómeme release without a few trippy drum tracks and the rest of Dirty Dancing fills that quota with the zippy Taxi Rank a clattering, free-wheeling hip tugger dominated by a killer Kalimba solo.
Wolfgang Voigt presents an incredible new chapter in the GAS saga almost 20 years since its last instalment, taking us deeper still into the recesses of that neon lit forest nightscape, just in time for that new series of Twin Peaks that's just around the corner...
Over the last two decades many listeners have become deeply familiar with Zauberburg, Königsforest, and Pop - many for the first time via the vital Nah Und Fern compilation , and with an even greater number becoming seduced and schooled via the comprehensive Box collection in 2016, which effectively sets the scene for this, Wolfgang Voigt’s keenly awaited re-arrival. Not to make him sound like christ or anything but, jeeeeez, we need this guy’s music now as badly as ever.
Under the title Narkopop, which suggests a continuation of the themes explored by its predecessor, Pop , as well as a succinct acknowledgement of his music’s putative purpose, the Kompakt kingpin floods the senses with what must be a life-threatening dose to folk who are AMSR responsive or suffer cardiac respiratory problems; you’ll either shiver yourself to a very pleasurable death or find yourself catching your breath at the point of systolic syncopation with Voigt’s inhale/exhale dynamics.
To be clear, the formula of etheric de/composition remains the same; there’s no studio skits or sidesteps into Ed Sheeraned polkapop (free ideas for the future right there, Wolfgang) - but the production and dense sense of tension is taken even further into that unique soundworld. The kicks remain as deep as your pulsatile tinnitus heard thru the pillow at night, whilst the strings are diaphanous and intangibly convective; slowly but surely directing the listener to a highly desirable state of delirium; along a spiralling Escher’s staircase to a beautiful nowhere.
It’s perhaps arbitrary to give a run thru of all the tracks because, as anyone who has immersed themselves in GAS will tell you, it’s quite likely that consciousness isn’t an option by the end of the recording, with the final tracks of his albums tending to be received by osmosis from behind closed eyelids. But, in case you have the concentration span of a long haul trucker or a tolerance for beta blockers, you’ll be well attuned to its valerian gauze and durational thrum, which picks us up at the very Leyland Kirby/The Caretaker-esque Narkopop 1, and carries thru distinct highlights in the breathtaking symphonic smudge of Narkopop 4, and the windswept aeolian harp shiver laced into Narkopop 6 before delivering us at the feet of a towering, cloud-shrouded holy mountain which gradually reveals its peak in Narkopop 10.
20 years on, it's still a sound that no one has managed to better, despite countless imitations.
For reasons that will become lysergically clear once you’ve heard the samples, Midori Takada's sublime debut album Through The Looking Glass  is widely regarded the holy grail of ‘80s Japanese ambient & minimalist music. Perhaps it’s no wonder that 2nd hand copies are known to trade for over £600, and, therefore this deluxe reissue is welcomed by a whole new generation of listeners tracing this enchanted sound back to source.
Rooted in Midori Takada's fascination with Asian and African percussion traditions, Through The Looking Glass documents the Japanese musician navigating syncretic channels of practice between floating fantasy kingdoms and parallel ambient dimensions whilst guided by a deeply ethereal, oneiric spirit that’s utterly key to the album’s appeal. While it broadly falls under the ambient banner, the results are far too grand and ambitious to be considered sonic wallpaper - they’re more like widescreen tableaus that open out exponentially the deeper in you dive.
The image of a Lady Godiva-like character riding a hare-sheep-horse chimera on the cover symbolises the surreal confluence of ideas and gestures within; a Japanese musician translating Victorian psychedelic fantasies into a language of rippling rhythmelodies and softly pealing harmonics that nod to Pygmy music as much as gamelan traditions, the soundtracks of Cocteau films and precise marimba patter.
The rest, we’ll leave for your dilated discovery. Take it on trust that this is especially spellbinding and sui generis stuff without complete comparison. A dream.
JSMË catch Nina at her most viscous and unsettling with Uvijek; a strong new addition to the Golden Püdel resident’s illustrious streak of mixtapes including numbers for BEB’s Krokodilo Tapes and Id Mud series, and V I S - the Hamburg-based label she runs with Good News.
A descent into psychoactive darkness or an elevation of exploratory sound practice, depending on your perspective, Uvijek finds Nina defying any easy grasp of putative drone and concrète dichotomies by keeping everything in a constant liminal flux or state of mental mulch.
She spends the first 45 minutes dredging up sounds lesser heard (and even harder identified) into a reverberating, shapeless organism urged by a thrumming systolic pulse up to the mid-way point, when fractured breaks and rusty, shivering percussion begin to infiltrate its sound sphere, joined by fetid black metal and choked-up north american industrial tones which pinch on the nerves like imagined crack bugs swarming on their next puss filled meal, then proceeding to infect and inflame the senses with metastasising certainty.
If there was any doubt as to Nina’s indomitable skill as a selector and silent narrator of thee grimmest mixtape odysseys, this one will tuck you in, pat you on the brow, and then make sure the leather ankle and wrist straps are firmly locked in place. And you’re in for a sound night…
Paul Woolford dons his Special Request mantle once again for a six-track suite on the fabric-run label that expands the project’s remit into electro and ambient flavours – Whities talent Minor Science rips it on the remix.
After an extended period exorcising his tech-house demons at the behest of Hotflush, Paul Woolford seems to have decided 2017 is the time to properly revisit his Special Request project. Comprised of the Special Request originals from his recent ‘fabriclive 91’ mix, ‘Stairfoot Lane Bunker’ offers a much more conclusive exploration of the Special Request DNA than 2013’s Houndstooth LP ‘Soul Music.’
Kicking out with some Kraftwerk-meets Mix Mup-style speak-n-spell electro of Redrum, PW then pulls the ‘ardcore junglist spirit central to Special Request in some interesting directions. The title cut lays on rich swathes of orchestrated ambience which get rudely interrupted by an assemblage of spangled amens and sproinging sub bass. Woolford’s skilled rhythmic edits come to the fore on the dizzying jungle patterns he draws on Replicant, replete with obligatory Bladerunner sample!
Elsewhere, both Telepathic Dog and Five Lane Ends transpose you into the realm of crumbling ambient vistas, the former’s brief fizzing static backdrop occasionally punctuated by Woolford going mad with some lasers whilst the latter is like some weightless edit from Star Wars. Minor Science aka RA critic Gus Finlayson rounds out the record with a remix of Stairfoot Lane Bunker whose hyper specific drum edits and tongue-in-cheek touches are reminiscent of Luke Vibert’s Amen Andrews stuff.
Mika Vainio measures out one of his finest releases to date, bar none, in the staggering 'Kilo' for Blast First Petite.
With a barely tamed sense of aggression, it more or less finds the perfect crux point between our office favourite, the beats-driven 'Oleva' (2008) under his Ø alias, and the granite hewn and bloodied metal excursion, 'Life (…It Eats You Up)' (2011), shaping ten tracks of a vivid and viscerally affective aesthetic whose themes of mass, dynamic and tone are succinctly reflected in context of his shipping-themed track titles, and surely implied by its frighteningly physical presence. It feels very much like one man taking control of his daemons, strengthening his whip hand and honing his ability to deliver deadly force where it matters, making every pause between the beats count with breathtaking efficiency.
Each ductile synth snarl, thunder-strike riff and bouldering drum occurs with space docking precision. From the midnight drop of 'Cargo', his 'Cranes' and 'Load' toil pendulous beats big as a troll's clackers, and 'Docks' places us out in the cold, waiting for the fog horn synth to deliver payload. 'Sub Atlantic' is the incredibly scary centrepiece, imagining the paranoia of listing in the hull of a sinking vessel far from shore, and 'Rust' is maybe the resultant decay manifested as pure power electronics.
For sonic thrills, the lungful oscillator decompressions and pensile Bonham bosh of 'Wreck' make for grave highlights, whilst the slow, purposeful navigation of 'Freight' and the beatless, brobdingnagian mass of 'Weight' appropriately evoke imagery of supertankers carving down narrow, manmade canals and gauging docking depths in the midst of man-eating storms.
'Mulatu Steps Ahead' features nine examples of Astatke's ongoing fusions of Western jazz and more traditional Ethiopian modes, progressing a sound he's investigated since the '60s/'70s with vintage albums recently reissued for Buda Musique's Ethiopiques series.
Tracks for the set were recorded with the Either/Orchestra in Boston and also feature contributions from traditional Ethiopian musicians and members of the Heliocentrics. The scale and breadth of the operation gives this album a brilliant depth, from the meandering and cinematic opener 'Radcliffe' to the jazz-meets-Highlife of 'Assosa' featuring the Koras of the Assosa tribe of North-Western Ethiopia, giving a brilliant versatility and variety.
With 'I Faram Gami I Faram' and 'Boogaloo' he revisits some classic compositions with freshly embellished scores and proves why the recent attention surrounding him is so well warranted. In the honoured traditions of jazz and African music, Mulatu has composed a timelessly fresh yet mature group of grooves made to be enjoyed by listeners of all ages.
Ryan Carlile and Spencer Doran traverse the outer reaches on this killer Visible Cloaks document for RVNG.
We just knew last year's debut Visible Cloaks offering for RVNG, the Miyako Koda-featuring Visible Cloaks single Valve, would be the prelude to something greater from Ryan Carlile and Spencer Doran. Reassemblage marks the Portland pair's second album and further expands upon the Visible Cloaks 'verse, calling on Motion Graphics and Root Strata alum Matt Carlson for assistance.
Inspiration for the album stems from a video essay of the same name by Trin T Minha-ha, which explored the impossibility of ascribing meaning to ethnographic images. With this in mind, Visible Cloaks set about transposing the inherent futurism of acts discovered on their inspirational Fairlights, Mallets and Bamboo mixes well into the 21st Century through modern sound design.
This results in an album whose eleven tracks possess a startlingly lucid and vibrant vision, forming new structures and ideas in the process. The aforementioned Valve features early in Reassemblage, Miyako Koda's presence gaining even more meaning within the context of Carlile and Doran's intentions for the album.
Elsewhere, vocals are deployed with a more abstract bent, VC playfully skewering Matt Carlson's voice through digital manipulation on Neume for one of the album's forays through musique plastique. Circles offers a genuinely spine-tingling moment of modern classical, whilst Motion Graphics follows his avant-jazz Future Times gripper with some illuminating assistance on the digital tranquility of Bloodstream.
Wonderful stuff all round.
At long last we get our mitts on this mad one from Lil Ugly Mane, originally rolled out in 2012 on cassette thru Ormolycka - the same label behind Death Grips’ Exmilitary and those Pyongyang Hardcore Resistance tapes - and now in x-amounta repress editions from Italy’s excellent Hundebiss because it’s a bit of a banger.
It’s a skewed, psychoactive take on Memphis rap and narcotic screw styles, extra heavy on the bass and with menacing delivery; nowt too clever, just raw-to-the-bone and with its nose to the road, tipping high on the play-it-again-and-again scale.
Boris Bunnik lights up his Transcendent label with four classically skooled, forward-rolling electro-techno torpedoes taking in the sonar bleep pulses and sloshing groove of Transition, a cavernous and anxious jacker named Introspection, and more warped, distorted electro disturbances in Between The Mirrors.
Music From Memory return with this eye-opening collection of recordings spanning 1980-1984 from Belgian/Congolese duo Denis Mpunga and Paul K, combining elements of traditional African music with experimental electronics. Having released only a handful of tracks scattered across a few LP and cassette compilations that were put out in the mid eighties by obscure european labels, this release also includes a few previously unreleased tracks that were found on the original master tapes.
"Relocating with his family from the Congo to Belgium in 1973 at the young age of 13, Denis Mpunga grew up in the industrial city of Liege and quickly became deeply embedded in it's musical scene, forming the group Gomma Percussions in 1979; a percussive group driven by West African influences that would also experiment with found objects and improvised musical instruments.
The group released only one 7' but toured and performed frequently up until as late as 2000. A side project Eko-Kuango formed by the Gomma Percussion members also saw the release in 1985 of the now much sought after 12'' ''Fura'' which also includes Denis Mpunga on vocals.
As well as a later career as a comedian and actor with roles in television and cinema, Dennis has continued to produce and compose music, perhaps most notably writing the soundtrack for ''La Promesse'' (1996) a highly regarded film by the Dardenne brothers; currently probably Belgiums most celebrated contemporary filmmakers.
Patrick Stas who would release with Denis under the Paul K. moniker was a well-known local musician in Liege and considered something of a luminary figure in the electronic and experimental music scene in Belgium. Patrick would set up the independent cassette and vinyl label ''Home Produkt'' releasing amongst others, the work of Tara Cross, who has herself been the subject of a killer V-O-D compilation in recent years.
The two of them would join forces in 1980 to work together on a soundtrack for a children's animation company called ''CAMERA etc'', recording the ''Intermezzo'' tracks which are included here. Keen to experiment further as a duo, Denis proposed the idea of combining some more traditional songs or percussive African elements with Patrick's experiments with drum computers and synthesisers.
Working around more conventional instruments such as guitar and bass, Denis would also bring Balafons, Senzas and a Zither to their recordings whilst Patrick would work with an array of synthesizers and drum machines such as a 202, TB 303 & TR 808 and Korg's MS20 & Monopoly amongst many others.
At a time when world-music was becoming hugely popular across Europe (and especially so in Belgium and France), the pair were keen to try and explore African music in a new contemporary way. Much like the intentionally provocative archival image, which Denis selected for the sleeve of Criola, the recordings set out to play with and challenge preconceptions and expectations of African music and African culture. Together, Denis Mpunga and Paul K's, if somewhat brief, musical adventure would create a fascinating new musical language, African music born out of an industrial European landscape; music which the compilation ''Criola'' reveals as both wholly unique and visionary."
Head-pinching drone wormholes from one of USA’s most crushing drone rock concerns, making a long awaited return with their debut for guardians of the heavy stuff, Important Records, after a seven year hiatus since Pumps! for Vice Records.
“Disorder marks a few milestones for the band Growing; it is their ninth full length release, in the fifteenth year of their band as well as their first record in almost six years. Though this is their first record in quite some time, this by no means a reunion record. When asked, Joe DeNardo stated "We never 'stopped' doing Growing, it's just that it was tough living on two different coasts. We work kinda slow so I think it just took us a while to adjust to how to make it work with the distances. As Kevin kind of built up his home studio in Olympia over the years, it got to a place where we couldn't NOT use it for Growing - it's such a great isolated spot to hunker down and chisel out some tunes. "
With an entire country between the them, Kevin Doria has been focusing his energy on his Total Life project, releasing a handful of releases and touring with Fuck Buttons, GodSpeed You Black Emperor and a host of others. DeNardo has spent the last few years making various music-themed films and performing under the Ornament moniker.
At first listen one may be tempted to refer to this as "return to form" for the band: sonically heavy side-long pastoral excursions being a hallmark of their earlier recordings. But Disorder stands more as a refinement of Growing's evolving sonic palette, employing dissonance as liberally as harmony, delivering the listener's ear to a rather unsettling 'comfort zone'. The effect could be stated as one of submerssion. "Kevin's TOTAL LIFE records and live set really inspired me to take a look at a much simpler setup." DeNardo went on to suggest: "I don't think I succeeded necessarily, but the way he maximizes his sound sources really blew me away. And I think it affected what I was recording for Ornament, and so when we got to jamming for the record, it sort of evolved from that. We recorded to 4 track reel-to-reel, it was a pretty minimal setup. It seems like a heavy record to me, these slow, subtle shifts that feel like a bad trip sometimes."
Disorder is neither revival nor bookend for Growing. Over their fifteen year career they've issued records on Kranky, Troubleman Unlimited, The Social Registry and Vice Records; they've touring with the likes of Sunn O)))), Hot Chip, Fuck Buttons, Animal Collective & Gang Gang Dance and have played on five of the seven continents. Disorder is another mile marker on the long open road, both figuratively and literally, Growing have been traversing for years.”
Norse ambient deity Geir Jenssen lays a two-track marker for his upcoming Biosphere LP ‘The Petrified Forest.’
Clearly reinvigorated by ‘Departed Glories,’ last year’s album-shaped Smalltown Supersound sojourn, Geir Jennsen gears up for a new Biosphere album, ‘The Petrified Forest,’ with this two-track preview. Cinephiles out there might recognise the forthcoming album’s title referencing both a mid-‘30s film noir and a later episode of The Twilight Zone.
The lead track here smartly intersperses dialogue sampled from both these film sources, deftly looping words from Leslie Howard and Joan Lorring together with a typically evocative arctic vista of rhythmic hypnosis and melancholic synthesis.
Lorring’s turn in The Twilight Zone also features on the alluring ambient flurries of Turned To Stone.
Forever turns up a 2nd appearance for Grade 10 - their solo debut - with contrasting UK rave grooves at 144bpm and 100bpm, respectively, backed by a banging Mr. G remix.
They’re both darker, deeper than his Play Fights for Zomby’s Cult Music, more in key with the dark brownian motion of their remix for Last Japan’s Harca.
Coarse is a nervy, mercurial take on grime and dubstep laced with itchy 2-step and shifting light between Burial-esque ambience and jazzy. liquid D&B chords, whereas Invaders works at a heads-down 100bpm tilt with bruised sub bump and silty, elusive atmospheres lire a smacked out Her Records delivery.
At the invitation and by the design of Mark Greenberg (The Coctails, eleventh dreamday), half of this record was recorded mostly live at Wilco’s Loft Studio in Chicago with a band that included James Elkington, Gerald Dowd, Nick Macri, and Greenberg himself. Another half was made in TJO’s home studio in California with Devin Hoff, Wilder Zoby, Walt McClements and string supervisor Jim James. This album also features the voices of Chris Cohen, Carolyn Pennypacker-Riggs and Joan Shelley. Tara Jane ONeil plays guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion.
"TJO describes her new record as a “singer-songwriter” endeavor—a description which could apply to much, if not all, of TJO’s solo work. But there is something uniquely satisfying about this record’s willingness to offer individual songs qua songs, and to foreground her voice and lyrics. Unlike some songwriters, whose lyrics have the aura of sophistication because they’re essentially nonsense, or whose lyrics end up pretty banal once deciphered, TJO’s lyrics always repay the effort to discern them. She is a poet at heart, whose chosen phrases and images aim to communicate truly as much as to burrow and sound. As her vocals, lyrics, and melodies emerge into plainer sight on this record, it feels like an act of real, earned generosity. I get the feeling that she’s holding this record out to us, palms upturned, in the gold California sun; I already know it’s going to be one of my favorites.
Until the hammer comes down on us all—and even then—we’re living in an age in which music is more readily recognized as emanating from and belonging to people of all genders and sexualities. When TJO and I were coming up, there weren’t quite as many names for what we were or what we were doing, though certainly there were some. Nonetheless, we persisted. In TJO’s case, she pioneered. Like so many others, I basically just ran after whatever I saw in her, praying for a shred of that confidence, of that natural claim on innovation and presence that she seemed to possess. (I’ll never forget seeing TJO play with Come in the mid-90s, and promising myself on the way home to at least try, as a writer, to do whatever it was that I’d just seen Thalia Zedek and Tara Jane do with their guitars.)
In her music and life, TJO has modeled a new place to stand, new sounds to make, a new kind of artist and human to be. Her career is all the more remarkable for her music’s willingness to investigate quiet, minor, and fugitive sound even as her career at large has taken no prisoners. We are unspeakably lucky to be alive at the same time of her making and being—to behold, in real time, the unspooling of her unremitting ingenuity, voyaging, and grace."
Maggie Nelson Los Angeles, 2017”
In which the former Pan Sonic figure models the 1st part of Karl Marx’s Capital in starkest techno dub terms recalling his cultishly appreciated Liima and Piiri output. A logical companion to Communist Dub, but more urgent, dense and needling than its predecessor. Gets right between the teeth, up your nose. Check the queasy keen of Dark Money Ride and the crushing Fear Of Heaping Capital for the strongest examples and Pan Sonic-esque styles...
“I-LP-O in Dub is the solo project of Pan sonic member Ilpo Väisänen. Capital Dub Chapter 1 follows the 2015 debut Communist Dub - a year marked by further descent into economic crisis and instability. The usual business cycles of production / distribution / consumption running alongside macro cycles of boom and bust have been replaced by ossification, austerity, the machine seizing up. Ilpo's circular riddims complement the ebb and flow of the circulation of money + commodities and are mirrored by his field recordings of Barcelona rain - the final phase of the cyclical movement of water. But of course the smooth running of Paradise Capital is unsustainable.
Destroyed techno and open spaces contend with sinister swarming atmospheres. A cash machine flickers. Zeros and ones displace another factory. Dub as decay - the ghostly remains of tracks eroded by time and technology. The invisible hand of the market spasms with tremors. Ferocious textural feedback as music for stock exchange crashes. The soundtrack to heaps of money hoarded by the hidden class. Capital is value in motion, but there is nowhere to go. After the collapse, picturesque ruins. Capital Dub Chapter 1 simply asks the question: what next?”
Dark Sky rope in dancefloor reinforcements for two album tracks: Miami’s Danny Daze resets The Walker as an epic Josh Wink style acid trance burner; Zenker Brothers spar with Kilter on a duck duck weave broken techno groove lit up with widescreen chords and shimmering strings.
Cassius Select leaves skid marks on the dancefloor with two joyrides for Accidental’s roguish yunger sibling; going in ruff and tuff with the crooked UKF/garage torque of 90 for the hardcore dancers, and then with slinkier tekkers applied to the diced vocals and rhythmelodic cadence of Herd.
Aces. RIYL Bambooman, Air Max ’97, Deadboy
Slippery, psychedelic twysts on funky, grime, dubstep - proper UK flavours (even mastered at Transition) - from Grade 10 crew’s Unslaved.
Three canny fresh cuts test out idiosyncratic niches; Punjab smudges ‘90s ambient rave pads to a sub-heavy UKF chassis in a detailed and serpentine arrangement that packs in lots of ideas in eight minutes; Apogee sloshes tweaky sino-grime signatures all over your fresh white creps, leaving you rave-stained and buzzing; TTA gets mad again with a melted mix of Yorkshire Bassline-style synth calligraphy and flickering hi-hats offset on a dank half step.
Samuel Rohrer, the multi-faceted, forward-thinking percussionist and producer behind the arjunamusic label, the AMBIQ trio and a wealth of other musical projects, has set out on his own with a new full-length solo album Range of Regularity with a deceptive title if ever there was one: the sonic experience of this record is, in fact, a highly irregular one (and a highly welcome one at that).
"Constructed almost entirely upon electronically-treated recordings of acoustic in- strumentation, with a bare minimum of synthesizer voicing, RoR vibrates with a compelling organicism - as if old-growth Black Forest trees had conspired together to make an album of ultra-modern improvisational music. Indeed, the record feels limned with contributions from some ‘other’ intelligence, despite being a clear extension of the fluid, percussion-driven musical technique that Rohrer has exhibited in previous years.
Opening with the track “Microcosmism,” the sound-forest feeling immediately takes effect, and the listener can either enjoying navigating a path through this verdant total environ- ment or just being lost in it. Sonic organisms fly in and out of your headspace here at different speeds and bring with them all kinds of different dispositions, though Rohrer’s reliable propulsive rhythms are always there to help direct traffic. “Le- nina” does not abandon this unique aesthetic, but reprises the story with a different vocabulary (in this case, deep synth-bass signals, piano runs and all sorts of hyper-real ventilations). “Nimbus,” not at all an ambient cloudscape like the title might suggest, temporarily dials back the feeling of modular assem- blage that powers the previous two pieces, and allows Rohrer’s drumkit to come to the fore, working away at a determined snare-driven beat that brings a variety of treated sound ephe- mera out their hiding places.
After the gentle - but never too precious - interlude of “Sun- clue,” “War On Consciousness” emerges as the album’s infec- tious tour de force. As the title implies, the feeling here is of using sound to fend off some sort of invasive energy, and the epic battle that ensues features a full concert’s worth of tim- bral variations and audio events. Incisive rhythmic patterns slice away like finely honed blades at an insistent mechanical chattering, while cautiously walking acoustic bass adds an ex- tra layer of defense. “Uncertain Grace” closes the set out with an extra layer of defense. “Uncertain Grace” closes the set out with a busy multi-layered arpeggiation punctuated with bass drum hits, from which a melodic narrative gradually emerges like a distinctly human face rising from a field of visual noise. As the drums again join in, the final exclamation point is added to a very personal artistic statement."
Sound Signature have rescued this classic Theo album from the neo-soul clutches of Ubiquity and given it a fresh 2017 edition packing some glossy new artwork.
The Sound Signature archive is so vast and consistently brilliant you are always discovering lost B-side gems that will blow your mind, but we all know about ‘Parallel Dimensions’, right? Arguably one of the defining albums of Detroit beatdown, this pivotal LP first dropped at the turn of the century and turned many a head to Theo’s innate class as a producer. Reissued and repressed in several different formats and configurations since then, Sound Signature have seemingly won back the license for ‘Parallel Dimensions’ from West Coast soul seekers Ubiquity for a 2017 edition featuring all-new art courtesy of the label’s in-house artworker Thomas Xu.
Presenting the nine tracks that made up the expanded and classic 2000 CD edition, what is immediately apparent when diving into this session is how far ahead of the game Theo was and still is. The way he flips and snips samples and lays down crunchy drum patterns that stick to their own rhythm is really quite untouchable.
Who are we kidding, you all know how crucial this is.
Killer, rare as anything Afrobeat funk and soul composed and recorded by erstwhile Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo de Cotonou bandleader Ahehehinnou Vincent in Nigeria, 1978; now dug and dusted by Samy Ben Redjeb’s Analog Africa for its first ever reissue. Believe it’s cheap at twice the price considering that mint originals cost the same as a reliable secondhand hatchback!
Beyond important historical logic outlined in the liner notes and probably known to collectors, the reason why this is such a sought-after platter will become crystal upon hearing the samples; it’s a deadly groovy, romantic and spirited example of ‘70s West African music at its finest, combining the vodou percussive traditions of Benin with blazing, woozy horns and soul-drenched vocals in irresistible style throughout the anthem Best Woman, and again in the sultrier hustle of Maimouna Cherie.
It’s worth leaving the story of Best Woman’s conception and esteemed status among diggers for your purchase and perusal of the liner notes, but trust your instincts on the samples and you will be rewarded.
Play it again and again.
After more than 10 years releasing music under the pseudonym of “El_Txef_A” the enigmatic Basque musician is ready to open a new era with his first solo record as Aitor Etxebarria.
"Markak (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) is Aitor’s first original work for Cinema. After the premiere of the documentary on the San Sebastian international film Festival (https://www.sansebastianfestival.com/2016/sections_and_films/etb_screenings/8/in), a limited amount of vinyls will be released this April coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the bombing of Gernika (one of the main themes of the documentary).
Composed and recorded on the Basque Country, Aitor stopped for a few months his full schedule of tours to focus just on the film score.
If it’s “marks” what we’re talking about, in the case of Gernika the bombing suffered on 26th April 1937 is a deep and lasting mark of profound symbolic value. For the creation a number of internal symbolic norms are essential, necessary to lend meaning to our enviroment. The creator creates on the basis of the stories he has received, the images, the feelings. Gernika’s past is a field for creation amongst Gernika’s young people. The documentary explores what these young creators “have locked away inside them”, their emotions. The bombing is a wall in the life of people, an interruption. It is a violence that breaks away from peaceful routine, a denial of the freedom to choose that a people and its inhabitants should have. Contrasting with this is democracy, the political system that guarantees the freedom of people."
Plaintive folk-pop-R&B from New York. Features single ‘Hold Me Close’ and ‘Leave The Light On’.
Overcoats is the New York-based female duo of Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell. Their debut album YOUNG captures a sound rich in minimalism and melody: songs of connection and tension, on the depths of love and challenges of family.
Overcoats’ music draws strength from vulnerability, finding light through darkness, and the catharsis of simple, honest songwriting. YOUNG is about a transformation: the passage into womanhood, sung through the shared experience of two best friends.
YOUNG was written by Overcoats and co-produced by Nicolas Vernhes (Daughter, The War On Drugs, Dirty Projectors, Cass McCombs) and experimental R&B artist Autre Ne Veut, with additional production from Myles Avery and mixing by Ben Baptie (Lapsley, Lianne La Havas, Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson).
One of the Fade To Mind princes, Leonce distills various, infectious stripes of US and outernational club music in his own image with the tweaky knuck and shimmy of Insurgency for Night Slugs lil’-sister/LA-based label wing.
At the heels of his edits mixtape, Heatwave and the Shadows EP feat. Neana and Divoli S’vere, he’s fully solo here, slinging nine tracks of subtly minimal but deadly syncopation tweaked to lip-biting effect and in the process placing a unique spin on the serialist club construction sound that’s been trending hard for some years now.
Where other producers in his scene have been exploring oblique angles and the sheer loudness of a track, Leonce applies an icy hot touch to his drums and arrangements that kinda shows everyone else up as a bit stodgy and rudimentary.
There’s a cadence, timing and flow to these grooves that works so.damn.well and where it matters. There’s no EDM presets or bombast, just proper, in-the pocket rhythms such as the Afro-garage hustle of Jungle and with a classy timelessness in the almost baroque jazz twix of flutes, double bass and wood-cut drums on Flute Strike, whilst Marimba Track finds the sweetspot between UKF and US ballroom, and the belting Truffle Track from his debut single makes a very welcome appearance on wax.
We really need to see this guy DJ a club. Until then, this will do very nicely. Thank you very much.
Josh Eustis and Turk Dietrich reconvene for a second album-length exercise in dynamic repetition as Second Woman.
Expanding on the immersive dub techno/electronica cross pollinations of their self-titled debut, Second Woman draw the listener even deeper into the realm of twisted digital production on ‘S/W’. If Jlin’s killer Second Woman refix on their recent Spools EP hipped you to their shared interest in footwork, then this second LP explores it more explicitly through their own creative lens. Throughout the album, Dietrich and Eustis excel in their ability to conjure sharply-defined rhythmic patterns that levitate craftily like a mythical Wing-Chun master.
This knottiness is apparent from the off, teasing out intricate synthesis in stereo formation to a billowing backdrop of spacious dub techno textures on opener / like a loose-fingered Vegas card dealer. // offers a more unpredictable approach, skittering chords dragged by the tails through a forlorn digital miasma. Both /// and //// offer a glimpse at footwork through Second Woman’s eyes, the latter a real highlight of the LP thanks to those abstracted, metallic percussive licks.
////\ sees them forgo the riddims in favour of a brief exercise in brain-matter scooping ambience, before swerving into another LP standout in the shape of ////\\, a clicky electro-dub reduction that will hook Autechre advocates and fans of the Cabaret label alike.
RIYL Mark Fell, Snd, Gabor Lazar, Jlin, NHK'Koyxen.
Starkly sonorous and unnervingly emotive new LP from the Opal Tapes kingpin, his first album proper in four years. Make sure to check the beautifully bleak panorama of Pyxis!...
“The second album from Basic House takes a sober turn towards the thematic intersection of occult knowledge and globalised black operations, brokering a piercing anxiety throughout from the tension between the scale of the politics being invoked and the familiarity of the covert identity tactics to music cultures, subcultures, and the like.
The opening track to I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed By Me turns from a naive fatalism to an addled stream of consciousness that flirts, just about, with psychosis, establishing the record's push-and-pull between the local and the global, the personal and public. Swarming, hinged string sections light the way ahead, barely hinting at the edges of a space with a rhythm, as if attempting to induce claustrophobia with the engulfing rush of total darkness.
In moments of continually tapering collages, Basic House appeals to paranoia. Never sustained to the point of exhaustion, it frames the placid momentum of its quieter passages when seemingly domestic recordings collapse into cracked dub motifs. However, more critically, it signals the play between the hyper-vigilant mindset that seeks to protect itself and its order, and the intuitive processes by which we code the means for this into our social signalling and general communication. Are we not always constructing a code for black operations, and so then surely this is what occult knowledge is? If so, how have we come to pour vast amounts of money into State sanctioned modes of this? There's paranoia in every direction.”
Available on digital format for first time, Prayer’s Beneath EP yields a heartsore UK rave sound strung out between the Moby-esque blues of Faith and the OTT Burial styles of Running, before ramping the tempo into emosh ‘ardcore footwork mutation Hope, and lashing out with the symphonic violence and epic impulses of Never Be.
Bedroom Community founder Valgeir Sigurðsson explores the temporal and textural gulf between classical orchestration and electronic production within the three movements of Dissonance, his 4th solo album (first since Architecture of Loss ), and the most aching addition to his illustrious catalogue of solo work and collaborations with everyone from Björk to Tim Hecker and Robert Wyatt.
The latest extension of his world-renowned practice, exposing and rejoining the fissures of Western classical traditions with contemporary sound manipulation, the finely layered symphonic swell and ebb of Dissonance is the artist’s attempt to reflect and consolidate both a period of personal strife and the underlying tensions of the wider world in a way that perhaps shows he’s not alone in feeling that way.
Using a laborious technique of recording each section of the 16-piece orchestra individually, before gilding them in post-production to really bring out their respective nuance and character, Sigurðsson effectively isolates and emphasises the chaotic qualities of massed, off-key strings in order to give himself up to their tumult and better control their, and his, emotions.
The result is a vast, side-long title piece of heaving, weeping, wilting viola da gamba played by Liam Byrne, and so anxious and quietly fraught that they keep slipping off the stave yet fight against the pressure in a perpetual struggle to remain positive and on-course against the odds. It’s not an easy piece but it is rewarding in its execution and resolution.
On the other side, the whole 16-parts of the orchestra come into play on the five parts of No Nights Dark Enough with a very cinematic quality emerging thru Flow to the electronic aurora of Infamy Sings and the pinched peak of Learn to Condemn Light, whilst the three parts of Eighteen Hundred And Seventy-Five appear to nod to Mozart as much as Star Wars.
To be fair, the B-side doesnt quite match up to that stunning A, but it's still an arresting album that comes highly reocmmended.
Bokeh Versions light up a necessary reissue of Tradition’s long-lost outer-dub oddity Captain Ganja and The Space Patrol, pressing up a damn fine and deeply psychedelic reminder of North London’s contribution to the worldwide dub sphere c. 1980 - years before Scientist and Jammy battled the space invaders.
As a secretive and sought-after outlier in Tradition’s catalogue of lovers rock and dub aces, Captain Ganja and The Space Patrol represents the group’s most esoteric and experimental urges in full effect, springing dub’s mutable framework with a sample bank of crying babies, radiophonics and library soundtrack FX and then swirling the whole thing in Paul Thomson’s cosmic synths and keys.
From the red-eyed bachelor lounge vibes of of The Breathtaking Blast thru the lush recoil and tumble of Subaquatic Swerves and the pealing oddness of The Creepy Crawl to the bawling infants perfused around Rocket Repairs’ warbly melodica and decaying drums, it’s clear to hear how this album provides perfect context for Bokeh Versions’ previous releases, from the loose schematics of Seekersinterntional to the plasmic plong of Jay Glass Dubs, and even the label’s colourfully warped charisma on the whole.
It’s totally primed for a long, hot summer…
A sublime exercise in minimalist restraint, La Niña Junco presents nine tracks of hissing small sounds and arcing nocturnal melodies written on a vintage Crumar
“Argentinian musician Federico Durand returns with his 2nd full length album on 12k following 2016’s A Través Del Espejo (12k1085). Taking his already minimalist composition style Federico challenged himself by using only one synthesizer for this beautiful album of sparse, hypnotic dustiness. His talent for creating works of so much emotion out of so little attest to his concentration when working and his passion for the craft. La Niña Junco is a handwoven gem. Music with a humble origin and a deep resonating soul. Famed Argentinian artist Lola Goldstein graciously illustrated the album cover, caputuring the idea of memory and object that is so infused with Federico’s work.
"Immersed in the beauty of the very moment, the songs for La Niña Junco were recorded in one take during two days, in a rush of inspiration. I used a small sound palette: one instrument, a Crumar Performer synthesizer along with two looping pedals and Roland Space Echo RE-201. The Crumar was my first synthesizer. I bought it many years ago and then gave it to a friend, who later lent it to my brother. After a very long time, I got it back when we moved to La Cumbre, a small town in the central mountain area of Argentina. As this instrument has a very limited but beautiful oscilator, it was rewarding to make small melodies using only its almost magical sound. I was enchanted to have the chance to play with my Crumar again: in many ways this album feels like returning to an early home. The electric noises of my old, broken keyboard, were an unexpected and musical gift and a humble proof of the passing of time."
- Federico Durand, La Cumbre, 2017”
The Brown brothers emerge from the depths of California with a new collection of oozing drone centred on ‘heavy visions of negative west coast mythology.’
Darkness is never far away from a Robedoor session, and their first album in four years finds Alex and Britt Brown dealing with ‘multiple seismic life events.’ Naturally this results in quite a powerful listen, Robedoor’s sludge even denser and mired in more pain and crepuscular mysticism.
The brothers craftily let the gloom seep in slowly over the course of opener Low Life, a distant scream edging ever closer over the enveloping crush of riffs. This gloom soon defines ‘New Age Sewage’ however, the Browns conjuring some demonic form of cannibalistic sludgery on The Tunnel whilst the pummelling Mage Image sounds like fellow West Coast mystic Pod Blotz getting chopped and screwed.
Pianist and composer Ilya Beshevli returns to Village Green with three-track EP
"‘Primary Source’ sees Ilya Beshevli continue along the musical path forged by previous albums ‘Wanderer’ and ‘Night Forest’, both also released on Village Green. Following ‘Night Forest’, ‘Wanderer’ was an emotive, piano-led insight into bustling, ever-changing inner city life - specifically Moscow, where the musician now resides. The album was also in part influenced by the contrasting escapism that momentary departure from the noise and distractions of a city can bring. Ilya's beautiful compositions have been compared to that of Yann Tiersen and Ludovico Einaudi, but with his own distinctly Siberian take on the modern classical genre.
On ‘Primary Source’, Beshevli's melodic and emotive style is intensified by the Babelsberg Orchestra, conducted and orchestrated by fellow composer and label-mate Matt Dunkley. Opening track ‘Morning Sun’ is structured around repeating broken chords and a cascading piano melody, calling to mind the new dawn that the track’s title alludes to. ‘Tangled Thoughts’, meanwhile, offers a more pensive mood with swells of rising strings and an increasingly insistent piano motif. The EP closes with ‘Primary Source’ – a more subdued affair, exhibiting the development of the kind of tantalising melody Beshevli has become so proficient at creating.”
Remarkable recordings of the breath/wind-controlled EVI analog synth (as used by Marshall Allan), rendering a massive range of coruscating pastoral synth visions that intersect everyone from Hieroglyphic Being to BoC, or Kara-Lis Coverdale to Colin Steson, who cosigns below…
“’I could go on and on about the insane virtuosity, about the rare analog wind synth that almost no one in the world plays anymore, about the most unique intervallic melodies and harmonies, but it's all secondary to the simple beauty that Justin Walter is able to conjure up with his solo music.' Colin Stetson
Michigan trumpeter Justin Walter's solo work centers on evocative, intuitive explorations of the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument), a rare wind-controlled analog synthesizer from the 1970's.
Its unique, smeared tonality allows for an expressive range of glassy, jazz-like textures, which Walter loops and layers with hushed electronics and twilit trumpet, painting opaque landscapes of resonant beauty.
Walter's 2013 debut, Lullabies & Nightmares, included a handful of collaborations with percussionist Quin Kirchner but Unseen Forces finds him fully solo, refining the project to its essence: shape-shifting watercolors of pastel haze, lit by the soft synthetic glow of electric breath. It's a sound both modern and timeless, fusing emotion and technology, gauze and melody, force and fragility.
From Justin Walter: Unseen Forces is a collection of recordings that document the use of improvisation as a means to create sounds that can either function on their own or serve as the foundation of, or source material for, additional improvisation. There was a definite process used to create this music but at no point was any music ever written or composed.
When putting this music together I was often aware of feelings related to density, spacing,
silence, and the sense of time pulling back on itself, like trying to stretch a scene and pull on it in ways that distort it ever so slightly. This is a record of melodies, alone and in complex relation. This music is a reflection of both feeling, and thought, as much construction as composition. The recordings of the EVI, as well as the sequencing done using samples of those recordings, are mostly the result of exploring melody through intuition. Harmonically simple, but with a complex pallet of texture.”
Heart-rending new grime, pop and soul suite by the Gobstopper boss and Boxed co-founder following his productions for Katy B and P Money
Mr. Mitch presents grime as future UK soul music on his lush and deeply endearing sophomore album, Devout. Surrounded by family and friends and bringing his own vocals into play for the first time, it coolly and considerately sets a new benchmark for production and concepts within a style he’s helped to incubate for best part of a decade now.
Unmistakably fresh in aesthetic, but timeless in appeal, Devout is a contemplative album about “love, loyalty, family and the start and end of relationships” framing a cast of contributors including his son, Milo, as well as P Money and Palmistry, in a filigree-detailed, minimalist and melancholy dramaturgy intended to flip the script of typical grime and rap, as he says: “we all know the stereotype of the black dad with multiple children from multiple partners who is absent from he child’s life, we see it consistently in popular culture. I want to champion the alternative, which to me is just normal.”
Pricking the popular consciousness with a maturity and subtlety beyond many of his peers, Devout is frankly intimate and uniquely engaging; inverting grime’s aggressive side to reveal a resolute but aching soul within, in the process opening out its roadmap to encompass a vaporous, autotuned duet between Mitch and his oldest son, Milo at the front, which also reappears as the baroque R&B bump of Our Love, and thematic closure in the Afrobeats-inspired Oscar.
In between he touches almost club-worthy moments with Priority feat. P Money’s own thoughts on fatherhood, served honestly and without cliche, and we can also imagine Palmistry’s turn on VPN becoming a real percy in its own right, whilst Denai Moore and Py offer necessary balance of feminine pressure in the downstrokes of Fate and Pleasure, respectively.
But it’s all really tied together by Mitch’s quieter moments in between, like the blue - but not depressive - ambience of If I Wanted, or the artist’s lullaby-like dedication to his children in the deliquescent fragility of My Life.
One for the ages. UK soul music at its inventive best.
Glasgow’s Alex Menzies (Alex Smoke) keens the experimental techno leanings of Love Over Will  and his Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams  to logically investigate new forms and modes of composition in Other World Music Vol.1.
Pulling from his research into psycho-acoustic and electro-acoustic dimensions and modal forms, OWM Vol.1 sounds distinctly like an Alex Menzies record, but with stranger things happening to the tunings and spectral dynamics on highlights including reverberant blue twang of Greek Mode and the melting drone of Ghazali, or the plasmic electro-folk audness of Balm.
Tobias Freund mounts his 3rd solo album for Ostgut Ton
Toying with his techno moorings in 12 tracks of experimental, avant sound design and ‘floor-flirting structures hearkening back to his earliest work with Hypnobeat and subsequent wok with Max Loderbauer in NSI.
Fractured vaper’s delights from Shanghai, China’s Genome 66.6Mbp crew, coughing up a bewildering selection of lush, free-floating and meter-less structures prone to buckle, glitch and shatter into noisy and oblique mosaics. RIYL Arca, Purple Tape Pedigree
“Through vast perceivable soundscapes and a broad array of influence,we momentarily reflect on the individual perspective. In our withdrawal from this deliberate capability, both complex and challenging circumstances allow us to comprehend our own human condition.
‘On The Dispersion Of Materiality’ relies to some extent on pastiche and the generality of its social content, perfectly demonstrating how the consequence of artistic expression can be distributed through technology. “
Crisp and fresh R&B pop outta Spain, hingeing on Bflecha’s earworming vocal hooks and effervescent production.
Check for highlights in her twist of folk wise percussion and offkey melodies in Kwalia and the club-ready 2-stepper, Apnea
The Bostonian duo deuce slickly traverse 34 tracks of vintage, up-to-date and unreleased house and classic disco music from themselves and a coterie of pals on Fabric 93, including highlights from Jay Daniel, Spaventi Dazzurro and Willie Burns among stacks of raw, soulful tackle.
Spain’s Svreca joins Italy’s Voices From The Lake on their latest trip to thru the echo chamber, resulting a suite of pressurised techno hydro-licks with highlights in their Ø-like Isolation and the grubbing, subaquatic bogle of Shado.