A momentous celebration of one of the last century’s most important composers, offering insight, recognition, and critical investigation, long overdue and lovingly produced. Including an extensive, lavish 120 page book, with numerous unseen images and 10 historic, sought-after and impossible to find albums pressed on 180 gram vinyl - unquestionably one of the most beautiful and important archival releases of the year.
The perfect jump-off for anyone intrigued or beguiled by Lucier’s oeuvre and looking for a way in, ‘Illuminated by the Moon’ was recorded in October 2016 at the Alvin Lucier 85th Birthday Festival at the Zurich University of the Arts and spans pioneering classics such as ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’  thru to his recent piece for Stephen O’Malley and Oren Ambarchi, ‘Hanover’. Along with a fistful of rare works, it adds up to an unprecedented, overdue survey of Lucier’s cross-disciplinary efforts in locating the metaphysics of sound in minimalism, and is arguably the most crucial boxset of 2018 alongside Roland Kayn’s immense ’Simultan’ session.
In deliberate depth and detail, ‘Illuminated by the Moon’ highlights Lucier’s intersections with pivotal contemporaries including Joan La Barbera and Charles Curtis, right up to his work with disciples such as Sunn 0)))’s Stephen O’Malley and virtuoso minimalist Oren Ambarchi, each proving, where needed, evidence of a deeply focussed yet open-minded approach to the phenomenology of acoustic sound.
From ostensibly simple units of sound Lucier extrapolates incredible, otherworldly dimensions, using various extended techniques and recording methods to probe ideas of auditory and musical reception and perception. In historical context, he wasn’t the only artist doing so back then, as the likes of Steve Reich with ‘Come Out’, or his group mates Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley and David Behrman in Sonic Arts Union also explored hybrids of text/speech/composition, but Lucier’s work stands out for its enduring patience and subtle playfulness in its transformative transitions of texture and tone, highlighted here in his liminal, tip-of-tongue take on ‘Nothing Is Real (Strawberry Fields Forever)’ , and the absorbing roil of his percussive piece, ‘Music For Solo Performer’ .
As with the most recent work on show, including ‘Hanover’ and a number of modern compositions from 2002-2016 with Joan La Barbera and young American cellist Charles Curtis, Lucier’s work has only grown more intently focussed and transcendent over the years and has quietly shifted the understanding of what music can be; laying a mark on history and the expectations of nearly everything to come, while radically expanding the field.
Super crackly but captivating recordings of a school group made in Niger, near the same region as the ‘Guitars From Agadez’ albums
“I first came upon this cassette at Djadje’s market stall at the Grand Marché in Niamey in 2014. The tapes were not for sale (Djadje sells dubbed copies) so I spent the good part of a day sitting on a wooden bench in the crowded market, digitizing with a cheap walkman and ZOOM. The results weren’t pretty. Someone’s cellphone, probably my own, was sending radio interference, and the tape was distorted with staccato noise. When I heard it, I was already thousands of miles away. A few months ago, while back in Niamey, I did like any good video store patron in 1993 and left a friend’s driving license and a hefy non-refundable deposit. We brought the tape to France, digitized it, and returned it to Djadje in a months’ time.
Djadje was surprised to see the tape again. And for good reason. The tape is rare, the only copy I’ve ever seen. The recording comes from a school group from the village of Tudu, in the region of Agadez, led by a guitarist and professor Barmo. The style that would become a popular in Niger throughout the 1980s and 90s, with many similar schoolgirl groups, like the one in Tchirou (and what would go on to form the basis and genre of Sogha Niger). The guitar playing is minimal, recalling early Ali Farka Touré, answering and mimicking the lilt of the song.
The cassette also stands out with the mysterious logo and catalog number – “HASADA” – maybe something only I would obsess over. But the only other cassette from the label I’ve found was Mamman Sani’s first and signature recording that went on to become the re-release La Musique Electronique du Niger. Rumour has it that Hasada was from Nigeria, and made a few of these tapes to distribute around Niamey. He had a good ear, whoever he was.”
Yet another dreamy peach from STROOM 〰, ‘Chosen Songs’ collects an unmissable introduction to the shadowy poetry and music of 48 Cameras; a long-running, mutable ensemble helmed by Belgium’s Jean-Marie Mathoul (✝ 04/07/2018)
Spanning 8 pieces, each recorded in one take between 2002-2013, ‘Chosen Songs’ notably features guest input from Michael Gira (Swans) and Robin Rimbaud (Scanner) among many others. However, the centre of attention is Jean-Marie Mathoul (1952-2018), whose poetry and musical ideas form the basis of the self-proclaimed non-band’s haunting electro-acoustic spaces and possessed air. Just from initial listens, we can already tell this is going to be a big favourite during the present and coming long nights. Fans of Félicia Atkinson, John Avery, Kreng or Jani Christou are almost certain to fall under this record’s spell.
“48 Cameras was the brainchild and life project of self-proclaimed non-musician Jean-Marie Mathoul († 04/07/2018), a social worker born and raised in Huy who carefully conducted 48C towards cult status. After hearing an album of William S. Burroughs reciting poetry, J-M decided to put poems and spoken word to music. He was a poet in his own right, having already published a.o. Une cure au cancer (A cure for cancer), a book of poems which at times was wrongly sold alongside medical books. At a literary event in Liège, Belgium, he met UK-based writer Paul Buck (author of the novel The Honeymoon Killers) and the two of them decided to collaborate and thus formed 48 Cameras. The name of the collective references photographer Eadweard Muybridge and a poem by Jim Morrison; "Muybridge derived his animal subjects from the Philadelphia Zoological Garden, male performers from the University. The women were professional artists' models, also actresses and dancers, parading nude before the 48 cameras'' (in The Lords and the new creatures).
It is important to note that 48C is somewhat of a non-band. The musicians and collaborators never actually recorded together, and to this day some haven’t even met each other. Before starting the recording process, J-M built an album in his mind: choice of album and song titles, who was to collaborate, even the artwork was clear long before the first note was played, leaving little room for surprises. All of this was carefully collected in decently structured Atoma notebooks full of polaroids, annotations and cut-out photos of paintings and advertisements of cigarettes. An avid smoker himself (as long time collaborator Calo recalls: ‘sometimes he was smoking three cigarettes at a time, he’d forget he had already lit one or two’), the notebook papers slowly transformed into nicotine colored archives of a project that often feels like the musical masterpiece of a recluse puppet master, overviewing and directing things from his attic home studio, aptly referred to as “the Observatory”.
Throughout the years collaborators sent their parts by snail mail on tape, DAT or even MiniDisc, and with the arrival of the internet some began to upload their contributions. Never, however, was the collective present together in the attic studio.”
NYC’s Kiki Kudo inhabits breezy, simulated dancefloor/headspace in the ‘Splashing EP’ for Anthony Naples and Jenny Slattery’s Incienso label
Like Dj Python, Beta Librae and People Plus before her, newcomer Kiki Kudo’s expressively off-centre, uniquely piquant productions charmingly follow their own path thru parallel club dimensions.
Also echoing the flighty new age jazz sentiments of Hieroglyphic Being and Black Zone Myth Chant as much as her label mates, Kiki is in command of a seductively free style, first drawing us in with the playfully chaotic, melodic tumult of ‘The Secret Bedside Track’, then rolling off into unmetered electro-jazz with ‘U Are Awake’, and flying high with the colourful avian synth chatter of ‘Gadget & Go’.
But if you need a kick drum anchor to get your bearings, make sure to check off the fluid pulse of ‘Interactive Gee’ for something like Young Marco meets Patricia, and get a grip on the strobing, rolling ace ‘City Neo Neon’ to light up your ‘floor/bedroom/car.
Ambarchi and O’Rourke trek to distant horizons on synth and guitar, accompanied by tabla player U-Zhaan who lends a free buoyancy to the duo’s quick and slow running streams of sound...
“Hence is the third collaborative release from Oren Ambarchi and Jim O’Rourke, following on from 2013’s Behold. Building on the refined combination of electronics and acoustic instrumentation found on their previous releases, Hence presents two side long pieces combining synthesizers, heavily effected guitar tones, and tabla rhythms played by special guest U-zhaan. On the first side, an explosive opening chord sends out ripples of sparse, irregularly pulsing guitar and synthesizer tones, aleatorically changing in pitch and jumping around the stereo image. Combined with the tabla, which gradually builds in busyness throughout the side, the piece is like a dream collaboration between David Behrman and the Henry Kaiser of It’s a Wonderful Life, gradually overtaken in its second half by a swarm of lush live electronic sizzle.
The second side begins in a similar area, combining tabla, shimmering Leslie cabinet guitar tones, and a wandering melodic line. Undergoing a series of subtle variations, this initial area eventually builds to a climax of twittering synthesized birdsong reminiscent of Alvin Curran’s 70s work. As on the first side, Ambarchi and O’Rourke craft a piece that is both comforting and subtly strange, as the constantly shifting dynamics and changes of focus (which recall the flow of improvised music) refuse to allow the music to settle into any one moment for too long or to build in too linear a fashion. Combining influences from post-minimalism, the pioneers of live electronics, and eastern music into a unique sound world, Hence is a seductive work from two of the most singular sensibilities in contemporary music.”
Original soundtrack recording to the film Zerzura, the first ever Saharan acid Western, telling the story of a nomad’s search for a magic city of gold.
"Evoking the desert journey with free form guitar improvisations, the soundtrack is a meditation on the mysteries of the Sahara. Composed by writer and actor Ahmoudou Madassane, the instrumental score takes the familiar Tuareg guitar tradition into new directions, transforming desert blues into ambient soundscapes.
Recorded in studio while watching footage from the film, the score was recorded in live and spontaneous takes. Heavily based around the electric guitar, Madassane also plays a handful of other in-studio instrumentation (prepared piano, Moog, Timpani) and is joined by a number of collaborators, including guitarist Marisa Anderson.
A prolific and backing artist in a number of groups (Mdou Moctar, Les Filles de Illighadad), Madassane is well versed in Tuareg guitar folk and draws inspiration from this tradition before veering off into uncharted territory. Pieces fluctuate in timing and break free from standard rhythm, moving from melancholic serenity to blurry psychedelic fury. An experimental foray for Tuareg guitar, Zerzura is the first of its kind.”
Emotive lightning rod Brian Pyle a.k.a Ensemble Economique channels a range of feels - from electric anguish to elegiac lament - in a richly crepuscular suite dedicated to those who lost their lives in the tragic ghost ship fire in Oakland.
“The latest long-player of devotional noir by Humboldt County romantic Brian Pyle aka Ensemble Economique was originally titled Music Saves Lives, in response to the misguided backlash directed at underground artists in the wake of the tragic Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. Since Pyle’s career threads through a decade and a half of Northern California’s independent experimental music community, the blow struck a uniquely deep and personal chord. As a way to process, he began recording at his coastal home studio in Manila, California, channeling inner states of mind, seeking something “more personal and intimate, the idea of love, and shining through.”
Radiate Through You delivers on its title, exuding a nuanced catharsis, alternately tempestuous and transcendent, forlorn but undefeated. Vaulted heavens of interwoven electronics ebb into hushed dirges of skeletal percussion and candlelit guitar. Roiling noise seethes, swells, and subsides as an ashen string arrangement rises in the mix, keening a somber, circular elegy, as if overtaken by memory on a long walk alone.
Two key guest appearances lend the album even more dynamism and drama: the first by Barcelona synthesist Alexander Molero on the questing, celestial opener, “Music Is Life,” the second by New Zealand psychic sisters Purple Pilgrims on the devastating finale, “Blue Hour.” Both showcase impressive shades of Pyle’s finesse as producer and muse, sparking his collaborators to new heights.
Whether taken as expressionist memorial, therapeutic song cycle, or something more ambiguous, Radiate Through You stands as a pensive, passionate statement by an enduring light of the West Coast canon, drawn from “a deep, special place of giant emotions, feelings.”
Colin Self’s joyously diverse and fiercely singular debut LP ‘Siblings’ takes its place among the year’s most thrilling introductions for fans of Arca, SOPHIE, Autre Ne Veut, Björk, Amnesia Scanner, or Panda Bear...
Both advance cuts, ‘Emblem’ and ‘Stay With The Trouble (For Donna)’ appear on ‘Siblings’ lodged amid a remarkable sequence that simultaneously unravel and entangle Self’s decadent, queered and singular definition of dance-pop and operatic soul. Totally in key with the times, it’s everything at once and then some, but somehow manages to keep its head in spite of its density of information.
“Colin Self’s Siblings is a proposal for interdependence, critical joy, and an expansive sense of being. As the lyrics beam, “I used to live as an anomaly... no explanation biologically,” so siblings share hidden language, lore, and identity. On Siblings, ecstatic voices and sound knot to form new ideals of kinship, emerging as horizontal relations for multi-species flourishing.
Colin Self challenges boundaries of perception with his art, music, and performances. Inspired by the work of Donna Haraway (Cyborg Manifesto, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene), Siblings is the final segment of the six-part opera series entitled Elation. Informed by Self’s exploration of the ways of knowing, Siblings places a non-biological family at its center. The characters, bonded by curiosity and caring, generate ways of collectively coming together on a damaged planet. Self uses Siblings to define this familial experience through sound and its soundmakers.
On “Story,” Siblings’ opening moment, breath and beats emerge as echoes within a vast, heaving chamber, sound conjured and cajoled into a new, blistered terrain. “Foresight” urges us toward a worlding - a break from the planet we’ve disregarded: “I see on my screen all the doubt, where it comes from, why you trust in no one. I see a new light.” While the unhinged form of “Ante-Strategy” lays the sonic compost for a Belurusian political poem, written with Tanya Zamirouskaya and Anastasia Kolas, Self tends toward elaboration and excesses in a “joyous rendering of survival.”
Siblings splits sides with “Transitions,” a pluri-vocal burst called forth from interstellar margins to put uncounted bodies in motion. Repetitions of “I commit to you” end with “We commit to you.” Self utilizes theoretical vocabulary to encourage germination of a new language. “Research Sisters” will make their own myths and forge their own families, the work’s fire sparking frenetic, ecstatic voices flashing back and forth in stereo. The gathering of choral voices lift up the melancholic words of “The Great Refusal” over pillowy layers of strings and stumbling, sputtering showers of keyboards.”
Andrew Hargreaves (The Boats, Cotton Goods) returns with the Tape Loop Orchestra’s final 'Instrumental Transcommunications' volume, a sublime, extended trip into degraded, blissed-out shoegaze and slowed down, shimmering drone works. Once again, if yr into Ian William Craig, The Caretaker or Jóhann Jóhannsson we reckon you’ll love this.
Poignantly timed to coincide with the first gusts of winter in Manchester, the loop bard’s latest missive unfurls two durational, diaphanous sails for mental transport, pushed by prevailing emotions to drift off into lush yet decayed echelons of sonic respite and reflection.
In ’Lead Us’ he slowly telescopes out from a murky refrain recalling The Caretaker or Akira Rabelais, and into slow moving night air, seemingly dissolving miles high into the ether, above the clouds where dawn breaks before hitting the surface below.
‘Into The Light’ follows with a dewy mist of crackle and surface clag obfuscating a vocal from Beth Roberts, who also collaborates with Andrew as The Mistys, and here lends an elusive soul to the side’s golden aurora of diffused strings and warbling synths.
Sizzling, psychedelic soul blinder from 1984, highly coveted for its deeply unusual soundsphere and use of drum machines and lysergic synths. One of the maddest experimental funk reissues since Starship Commander Woowoo? Ayeeee! 2nd hand copies trade for astronomic asking prices… if yr into the weirdest corners of Prince's vault - this ones a doozy.
“Synth chutes, synth ladders, popcorn 808 beats, dirge-y chants and busted sub-woofer hums from inner-galactic soul pioneers Nathaniel Woolridge and Anthony Freeman intertwine to create this hypnotic, mythical 1984 LP from Newark, New Jersey. The most damaged party record ever set to black, or the most partied cry of the heart ever howled into personal space. Probably both.”
Necessary new reissue of Chandra’s cult 80's new wave obscurities, including her sought-after 1980 debut EP plus later recordings, all adding up to the definitive Chandra release.
As the daughter of famed conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheimer and an equally open-minded mum Phyllis Jalbert, Chandra Oppenheimer was born in the midst of ‘70s NYC at a time when punk, mutant disco, hip hop, no wave and Madonna were all emerging. By the age of 9 she had already opened for a Laurie Anderson performance and formed a band with Eugenio Diserio and Steven Alexander of Model Citizens and The Dance. After a year of rehearsals, Chandra’s finely honed improv skills and ahead-of-her-years lyrics would front ‘Transportation’, the group’s first EP of wryly razor sharp guitar, discoid bass and wonky dub-style melodica. It was issued to widespread acclaim from the music and art media - described as “Delta 5 meets the Jackson 5” by David Ma - yet Chandra’s decision to focus on school meant that her 2nd EP recording lay unreleased until 2008.
This record contains both her cult debut and it’s follow-up, plus two bonus songs written during the same period. With few exceptions in the history of music, the collected ‘Transportation EP’s’ frame a unique mesh of ideas that arguably could not have emerged at any other point in musical history. Chandra was effectively the starchild of an era in which cultural, socio-economic and political conditions created the space where a 10 year old could express herself quite like this, with lyrics about climbing up 6 storey buildings and exploring themes of mind control, multiple personalities and missing the train, all set to music comparable with arch examples of the era, from France’s Lizzie Mercier Descloux to Y Pants.
It’s perhaps harder than ever to imagine an artist such as Chandra emerging today. That’s not to say that there aren’t youthlings making interesting music right now (check NON Worldwide’s Safa compilation for starters!), it’s hard to see any adult taking them seriously enough to form a band with them, never mind let them front it and even invite all their wee pals to join. Taking that all into context, the ’Transportation EP’s’ recordings are truly remarkable, and enduringly so, from the evergreen perk of ’Subways’, which was recently sampled on The Avalanches comeback album, to the naturally forward lean of the two bonus songs, recorded in 1983 and full of future popwise promise that still shines over 35 years later.
Saharan guitar fire from Northern Mali, tending to a near extinct style of trance-inducing riffs and pounding, offbeat drums. 10 burning variations on a theme.
“Tallawit Timbouctou are champions of takamba, a hypnotic traditional music from Northern Mali. Built around the tehardent, the four-stringed lute and pre-cursor to the American banjo, takamba’s droning distortion comes from signature handmade mics and blown out amplifiers. Accompanied by percussion pounded out onto an overturned calabash with mind boggling time signatures, the combined effect is trance inducing.
This is the music that long ruled the North of Mali, performed at festivities, blasting out of dusty boomboxes, and beaming out from village radio stations. Its origin is shrouded in mystery, and though purportedly dating back to the Songhai Empire of the 15th century, takamba’s heyday was in the 1980s, with the introduction of amplification. Musicians found a lucrative circuit, performing in elegant weddings, creating cassettes on demand, and writing songs for their wealthy patrons. Today takamba has fallen out of popular fashion with the youth but continues to thrive in a small network of die-hard traditionalists.
Band leader Aghaly Ag Amoumine is one of the remaining renowned takamba musicians. Descended from a long line of praise singers, he spent decades traveling across the Sahel, performing in remote nomad camps and crowded West African capitals. His compositions continue to circulate today and have become part of the folk repertoire. His group Tallawit Timbouctou, based in the city of the same name, continues in the family tradition and has featured both his brother and nephew as accompanying members.
Recorded at home in Timbouctou, “Hali Diallo” is a relentless and non-stop recording, true to the form of takamba. Tracks blend seamlessly into one another, instruments are tuned mid-song, and Aghaly only pauses singing long enough for the occasional shout-out or dedication. Unfiltered and direct, as it's meant to be heard, Tallawit Timbouctou is a shining example of one of the last great takamba bands.”
Outstanding, mesmerising, modern takes on traditional Moroccan music, home-recorded at the feet of the Atlas Mountains with autotuned vocals, burbling drum machines, lush synths and cosmic, micro-tonal guitars
Giving us all the buzzes right now, Moulay Ahmed El Hassani’s ‘Atlas Electric’ is an edifying introduction to the singer-songwriter famous in his native Morocco for faithful yet modern spins on the country’s deeply rooted guitar traditions.
Urged by slinky rhythms and gilded with extra synths, the results are strung out with spellbinding spirals of effected guitar and autotuned vocals to charge the magic carpet of your mind for an unforgettable trip into scared geometries and enlightening psychedelia of a whole other calibre. Psych heads take note - this is how it’s done.
Essential purchase to fans of Sahel Sounds, followers of DJ/Ruptures global music travels, or Iraqi and Kurdish Chaabi styles.
Minimal techno master Rob Hood takes the DJ-Kicks driving seat for a deft but pounding session including no less than 4 exclusive new Hood productions.
Over 72 minutes the original UR member and seminal Detroit hero sequences 22 tracks of driving dance music, Motor City style, rolling steady on the gas thru cuts from both sides of the pond, but perhaps tipping more towards European productions inspired by 313 foundations.
Robert Hood’s exclusive tracks are well worth a gander, from the hypnotic organ rider ‘Greytype I’ to the peak-time play of ‘Bond Solid’ and the trancing, acidic burn of ‘Machine Form’, and it’s also worth peeping the 16th note fangs on Ben Long & Tom Hades’ ‘The Knight Rider’, and the super fucking arid rasp of Matrixxman’s ‘Protocol (Saturation Edit)’.
But, if you really want to hear Hood in proper context, the mix lives up to the exacting standard we’ve all come to expect from a Hood mix - immaculate transitions, timing and groove control from one of the best to ever do it.
Having stated on many an occasion that Hardwax affiliates Pete and René, aka Scion, understood and played Basic Channel material in the way it was intended to be played, the release of Ableton's 'Live' software convinced Mark and Moritz that the time had come to try something new out.
And that's precisely what this CD is - components from all 9 Basic Channel 12"s, (plus some choice cuts from related project Rhythm and Sound and remix work for Carl Craig), weave in and out of the mix, flawlessly spliced together, remodeeled and reshaped with a deep understanding of the BC sound and a look towards its future.
The first cut employs fragments from Cyrus's 'Inversion', 'Mutism', 'Radiance III' and the Basic Channel reworking of Cral Craig's 'The Climax' - 4 classics, re-modelled to create something new, somewhere between mixing and remixing - and that's just the opening sequence. Flowing from first moment to last, it's a bit of a benchmark release that not only serves as a testimony to one of the most treasured and beloved catalogues in all of electronic music, but also illustrates that technology really can be about more than just presets and self indulgance.
Fans of Basic Channel will melt into this CD on first play, those of you new to the label will do well to give this a listen and understand exactly what all the fuss has been about...
It's that time of year again isn't it, and although we don't seem to get snow anymore in England (damn you global warming!) we are still just about capable of celebrating the birth of the guy who invented Coca Cola...
Stevens takes some of the classic traditional sounds of the season and places them next to compositions of his own to create something genuinely heart-warming and enjoyable without ever becoming cheesy or overwrought. Starting in 2001 and going to 2006 these songs have been pieced together with love by Stevens and his friends year after year, and that's what makes them so effective - his version of 'We Three Kings' might be heartbreaking, but his own composition 'That was the Worst Christmas Ever' is one of the most crushing pieces Stevens has ever put his name to, perfectly summing up the hopes and dreams of the season....
An impossible-to-find, ’95 Memphis rap tape surfaces on vinyl for 1st time via Gyptology, a new "Egyptian Archaology" styled re-issue label
Leading on from Shawty Pimp’s ‘Comin’ Real Wit It’  - which was dished up by Delroy Edwards’ L.A. Club Resource and sold out within days back in 2014 - its sequel, ‘Still Comin Real’ reprises that woozy slow drawl on 11 slurps of syrupy goodness.
As to be expected, noise artefacts carry over from the original, short-run tape edition, but it wouldn’t be a proper, OG Memphis rap session without that haze of tape grit. Safe to say that Gyptology know this, too, and see vinyl as the most faithful, sympathetic form of preservation.
Thus, you can trust the sound is raw as; a distinct adjunct to the prevailing NYC and LA hip hop styles of 1995’s golden era, working with rude, stripped down production values and vibes that have significantly withstood the test of time, and since laid the roots for a lot of contemporary southern rap, hip hop and R&B.
Chances are anything you’ll listen to after sitting through this half hour masterpiece will sound a bit lifeless - El Mal Querer is the most vibrant, layered and forward facing album of the year.
Rosalía Vila Tobella is already something of a sensation in her native Spain, but this new album looks certain to propel her into the stratosphere with its immediately accessible but multi-layered fusion of traditional flamenco with the edgy swagger of modern R&B, a kind of minimal pop variant underpinned by what feels like an almost endless succession of clever hooks.
The opening Malamente is the most immediate and hard-hitting of the 11 tracks here, but the album is basically wall-to-wall brilliance, from the subtle, almost Theo-parrish inspired EQ cuts on Que No Salga La Luna to the super fwd juxtaposition of traditional flamenco, auto-tune, pulsing subs and motorbikes revving on De Aquí No Sales to the ultra-ohrwurm Di Mi Nombre. Even the more traditional a cappela tracks edge into deviance - the eerie, layered vocals on A Ningún Hombre closing the album on a nervy, uncompromising note.
El Mal Querer really is a perfectly formed, hyper-modern vision of pop music; structurally daring, endlessly catchy, melancholy, introspective, bursting with charisma and more ideas than any other record we’ve listened to in 2018. Apparently there’s new music in the works from Rosalía with Pharell and Arca, you should keep a v close eye on this one...
Kevin Palmer unravels a suite of dusky, strolling groves and claggy, weathered electronics for 12th Isle’s 6th release, after gems from Ramzi, Cru Servers, Palta & Ti, and X.Y.R.
Spotted on a handful of strong underground labels such as Opal Tapes, No Corner, and Astro:Dynamics since the start of this decade, BAT has consistently brought a low key and economic yet distinctive style of hardware-derived music to the table, variously testing his chops in mutant configurations.
On ‘Enginetics & Plasmalterations’ we find his wandering vibes directed into some of his straightest-playing grooves. It starts up gingerly with the stumbling ephemera of ‘Vivi-Q Flight Path’, but finds it feet in slow, rolling structures that drift from soggy dub in ‘Orbitiara’ to the blunted, crackling jag of ‘Nick and Kev Set Controls for The waning Moon’ with Mr. Beatnik, and brilliantly shapeshifting into more asymmetric structures with the vaporous yet angular swang of ‘Unfathomed States’ and a pulsating abstract named ‘Extinct Song’.
The result is evidently BAT’s most rounded and smartly sequenced LP to date, if you ask us.
Highly anticipated official reissue of this album from Midori Takada’s MKWAJU ensemble, sourced from the original masters and available in two versions: a vinyl LP cut at Emil Berliner Studios (formerly the in-house recording department of Deutsche Grammophon) and a digipack CD.
"Originally recorded in February and March 1981 and released by fabled Japanese avant-garde label Better Days (home of Ryuichi Sakamato’s debut album, Yasuaki Shimizu’s Kakashi, Colored Music self-titled LP and many more) MKWAJU is the fruit of the collaboration between Takada’s crew and world-famous composer/musical director Joe Hisaishi, the man behind most of of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli anime soundtracks and over 100 other films scores, including Takeshi Kitano’s Sonatine, Hana-Bi, and Kikujiro. The ensemble’s transcendental wonder is, in fact, the first-ever Midori Takada album and the first-ever Joe Hisaishi-produced album.
Historic. Led by Midori Takada on marimba, gong, vibraphone, and tom tom, MKWAJU is an inventive and riveting take on Eastern and Western minimalist traditions, African rhythms, and early electronica. Drawing from its jazz-rooted polyrhythmic improvisations in the most inventive ways, the album covers a wide spectrum of sounds, from colorful dance floor-ready percussion pieces that stand somewhere between proto-techno and experimental synth-pop, to cinematic ambient landscapes and ethereal drone delicacies. The feverishly sought-after full-length is a stepping-stone in Midori Takada’s career and an all-around pioneering album. Alongside Takada and Hisaishi (who not only produced the album but also played synthesizers), personnel on MKWAJU includes famed Japanese musicians Yoji Sadanari and Hideki Mats."
Suara Semara yield a sublime new spin on traditional gamelan music. We’ll never tire of immersing in this music, and this one has only refreshed our palette no end. Highly recommended!
“This is the first professionally recorded non-reissue of Balinese gamelan to be pressed on vinyl in over 30 years.
Featuring hauntingly beautiful vocals sung in kidung style that float above the ensemble's adventurous but well grounded compositions, this album points to ritual associations while skillfully navigating new sonic and symbolic territory. As such, this album can be seen as representative of creativity that permeates the arts on Bali today.
This collection of new works for gamelan Saron Luang performed by Sanggar Alit Semara Dahana (est. 2013) of Desa Ubung Kaja emerges from one of the many junctures at which longstanding gamelan traditions meet new creativity. I Ketut Sujena skillfully navigates this crossroads by exploring new sonic and symbolic territory without abandoning performance styles recognizably derivative of the Saron Luang repertoire, which provide much of the foundation upon which subtle and more creative departures rest. The hauntingly beautiful vocals in kidung style composed by A.A. Ngurah Oka that float above these textures point to Saron Luang’s ritual associations, while choreographies by A.A. Ngurah Bagus Supartama that were inspired by ritual rejang dances point to the religious undertones permeating much creativity on Bali today.”
Cult scene-setter 1991 returns to the fray with four heavily worn-out bangers backed by a singed Rezzett remix
Patently a less-is-more kinda guy when it comes to the release schedule - after 3 releases in 2012, nowt until 2016, and now this - 1991 makes up for lost time with this knackered but energetic session for his No More Dreams label.
The OG 1991 tracks are all “up” in the mode of his ’Skogen, Flickan Och Flaskan’ 12”, as opposed to the airy drowse of his last No More Dreams outing or the gauze of his widely adored ‘High-Tech Low-Life’ and self-titled sides.
A-side brings three jacking drum machine workouts, each decayed to a mid-rangey nub of distorted recoil and splattered drums, yet able to juice a sweat from locked-in dances. On the B-side he follows suit with a shot of kinky NYC/Brum-techno swing, before Rezzett provides an EP highlight with the nimble, skippy Chicago flair of his cracking remix for the track, ’94’.
No wallowing here - just banging dance trax.
A strangely haunting yet beautiful bouquet of nocturnal, electronic blooms ranging from poignant ambient vignettes to chamber-like pop, from Brooklyn’s Faten Kanaan - a gifted musical story-teller
“Foxes is the third full-length album from Brooklyn-based artist Faten Kanaan.
The title is symbolic: an homage to the wild, untamed/unedited spirit. It's an album of uninhibited expression, a balance between playfulness and nuanced intentionality. Foxes is loosely inspired by early Surrealist automatism, made-up languages, Middle-Eastern Hakawati storytellers, and the minimalist poignancy of mimes. Here, Kanaan uses sound as an intuitive gesture to tell a wordless story.
As the narrative unfolds, each composition becomes a distinct chapter: from the uneasy turbulence of Naufragium to the swelling crescendo and gear mechanics of time passing in Pendulum, the intimate pastoralism of Wildflowers, and the mischievous meanderings of the title track.”
Enigmatic masters of their artforms, Cortini and English meet at the apex of their powers in a breathtaking recording.
Operating at their most diaphanous, sky-scraping and apocalyptically glorious, the pair captivatingly match each other stroke for stroke in a spirit-engulfing study of coruscating harmony and saturation. The results speak to a mutual admiration for each other’s work, with each artist hailing the other’s ‘Sonno’ and ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’ as important parts of their listening lives in 2014.
With this fundamental understanding and appreciation of each other’s singular approaches and practice in place, they most beautifully brogan the best out of each other in ‘Immediate Horizon’, subliminally traversing vast noumenal, psychoacoustic terrain from fathomless spatial coordinates and elusive textures, to lilting spectral melody and sore choral cadence by the piece’s close.
We can only imagine that, within the gargantuan bowels of Berlin’s Kraftwerk space, the premiere of ‘Immediate Horizon’ must have been quite incredible, especially in the way that they use density within negative space, and their skill in transitioning from pulsating cosmic ferocity to moments of stark, life-affirming beauty.
Furrowed dark ambient gloom from Berlin-based Otto Lindholm and a member of Orphan Swords, for London’s ace Aurora Borealis label (The Haxan Cloak, Primitive Knot, Burial Hex)
“Combining the talents of P.Maze, one half of noise/techno duo Orphan Swords, with fellow Brussels-based producer and musician Otto Lindholm, ‘Where The Wolf Has Been Seen’ is a meditative and claustrophobic work for electronics and double bass.
The four parts evolve and spread outwards, throbbing bass drones colliding with slowly bowed arcs of keening strings that make for a deeply immersive listening experience. ‘Where The Wolf Has Been Seen’ explores the boundaries of the modern classical and electronic disciplines, with slowly shifting and expanding compositions that thrive on the tension between.”
EOMAC tags in Demian Licht for the 3rd in a smart series of experimental collusions after 12”s with Paula Temple and Sean Carpio
On top with the cryptically mantled ‘VV Cephai’ they invoke tumultuous techno rhythms and stray, possessed voices in a buckling matrix of sagging, swampy subbass and spatialized percussion - like foot working aliens running amok on an abandoned space station - while the other side’s ‘Algol’ gyres and scuttles in polymetric hyperspace, eventually locking into a slow chugging Autonomic formation recalling styles on the new dBridge album.
Utopian pop nous from Free Love, the Glaswegian pairing of Suzanne Rodden & Lewis Cook who were previously known as Happy Meals
Back on their Full Ashram label following Happy Meals’ ‘Apéro’  and 12”s for Optimo and Night School over the interim, the duo reprise a psychedelically enriched style of songwriting aimed at lounging dancefloors and pop romantic longing for a new fix.
Their 8 songs bubble with colour and breezy warmth, fanning out from the woozy charms of their Johnny Jewel-esque lead single ‘Playing As Punks’, to take in Night Jewel-alike balmy boogie in ‘Pushing Too Hard’, along with the classic synth-pop brim of ‘Et Encore’ in a way recalling Premiere Classe’ ‘Poupee Flash’, and wending on thru the Peaking Lights-like ‘Et Avant’, and proper Italo disco class in ’Tomorrow Could Be Heaven’ and ’Synchronicity’.
A sought-after spiritual jazz slab recorded in 1981, now recut over 2 discs for optimal fidelity
“Another key document of the Los Angeles radical jazz underground, by way of Outernational Sounds.
A tour de force of spiritually energised independent jazz music, this is pianist and composer Kaeef Ruzadun Ali’s debut recording as leader of the Creative Arts Ensemble, as it emerged from Horace Tapscott’s legendary Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra,
PAPA mainstays like reedsman Dadisi Komolafe, drummer Woody ‘Sonship’ Theus and altoist Gary Bias are here; besides such veterans as Henry ‘The Skipper’ Franklin on bass, and George Bohannon on trombone. Kaeef’s sister B.J. Crowley provides visionary, sanctified singing.
Classic spiritual jazz, available again as an LP for the first time since 1981; with the recordings at full length on vinyl for the first time ever.”
A proper piece of post-punk history: the studio session for Bauhaus’ classic ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ available on vinyl for the 1st time! Includes early version of the dancefloor evergreen plus a haul of previously unreleased aces
“The Bela Session is a full release of Bauhaus' first studio session from January 26 1979, where the iconic "Bela Lugosi's Dead" was recorded. This is the first and only official reissue of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" on vinyl, and the first time 3 of the 5 tracks have been released. This EP has been produced directly by the band with Leaving Records, in advance of the band's 40th anniversary.
Bauhaus are a four-piece from Northampton, England, composed of Peter Murphy (vocals, occasional instruments), Daniel Ash (guitar), Kevin Haskins (drums), and David J (bass). Venerated and highly influential, the band emerged from the post-punk alternative music scene of the early 80s with a string of innovative albums and a powerfully dramatic live presentation. Their music embodies a minimalistic, disconsolate style of post-punk rock unlike any other.
"Bela Lugosi's Dead" was originally released by Small Wonder Records, 1979. "Harry" was originally released by Beggars Banquet, 1982. "Some Faces," "Bite My Hip," and "Boys (Original)" are previously unreleased.”
Very canny neo-soul steeped in vintage styles of Afrobeat, dub, calypso, broken beats
“Voiced by the band’s saxophonist Nick Richards, ‘Tell It To Me Slowly’ is an instant soul-jazz winner, with lyrics speaking about inner turmoil and a search for the truth. On the flip, ‘Sugar Cane’ features the unmistakeable vocals of Nubiya Brandon singing of harsh life lessons over an increasingly chaotic groove.
The tracks are taken from the band’s forthcoming album, ‘Jungle Run’ which effortlessly weaves together elements of jazz, soul, hip hop, African styles, Latin, dub, hip hop and electronics in a flow of thought-provoking and life-affirming music.
The single and album mark another important chapter for a band that has been consistently developing and evolving their sound since their formation in 2015 at Leeds College Of Music.”
‘Broken Music’ is a holy grail avant-garde music publication, a compendium of recordings, record-objects, artwork for records, and record installations created by thousands of visual artists between WWII and 1989. Unavailable since the original, sought-after 1989 edition, it features essays by its compilers Ursula Block and Michael Glasmeier, as well as Theodor W. Adorno, Milan Knížák and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Did we mention the bonus flexidsic? Aye, this one’s very special.
Published in 1989 by Ursula Block, wife of curator René Block and proprietor of the legendary Gelbe Musik record store in Berlin (sadly not there any more, to save you a wild goose chase), ‘Broken Music’ is inarguably an essential guide and discography for recordings and audio works by visual artists of the 20th C. Through essays, texts, and photos, it breaks down the history of visual artists working with sound into four fascinating criteria of study: record covers created as original work by visual artists; record or sound producing objects (sculptures); books and publications that contain a record or recorded media object; and records or recorded media that have sound by visual artists.
As far as we’re aware, this is the only book of its kind, and at the very least, the only one to cover it’s topic in such depth, drawing on a wealth of received information and personal knowledge to comprehensively highlight a peculiar and enduring niche of sound art. Books and lists like these are understandably invaluable to both art historians and record diggers, and this is among the most lucubrate we’ve come across, making connections between the formative, innocent experience of experimenting with records’ physicalities, with Adorno’s riffs on ‘The Form of the Records’, and ‘Media Composition According to Cage’, and looping back to Milan Knížák’s recollection of ‘Broken Music’ in his titular text and bonus 7” flexidisc of his 1989 recordings.
If you’re interested in the following list of artists covered inside, you owe it yourself to check this book: Vito Acconci, albrecht d., Joseph Beuys, Laurie Anderson, Guillaume Apollinaire, Karel Appel, Antonin Artaud, John Baldessari, Hugo Ball, Harry Bertoia, William S. Burroughs, John Cage, Henri Chopin, Henning Christiansen, William Copley, Philip Corner, Merce Cunningham, Hanne Darboven, Jim Dine, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Fischli/Weiss, R. Buckminster Fuller, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Glass, Jack Goldstein, Hans Haacke, Richard Hamilton, Bernard Heidsieck, Isidore Isou, Marcel Janco, Allan Kaprow, Martin Kippenberger, Milan Knízák, Christina Kubisch, Laibach, John Lennon, Hermann Nitsch, Claes Oldenburg, Yoko Ono, Dennis Oppenheim, Nam June Paik, Tom Philips, Robert Rauschenberg, The Red Crayola, Jim Rosenquist, Dieter Roth, Gerhard Rühm, Conrad Schnitzler, Kurt Schwitters, selten gehörte Musik, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Michael Snow, Jean Tinguely, Yoshi Wada, William Wegman and Lawrence Weiner, and others.
Efficient Space offer an unprecedented survey of Australian dance music from the 1990s. Some real juicy peaches to be found inside.
“3AM Spares is a new compilation of Australian Electronic Dance Music selected by Andras and Instant Peterson, encompassing the darker sounds and later nights of the 1990s and beyond. Following on from forerunner compilation Midnite Spares, this double LP draws from local 12” releases, CDRs and the archives of community radio station 3RRR FM to make a diverse and pumping scene audible once more. No longer confined to beer barns and back rooms, this generation of producers, DJs, clubbers and ravers spilled out into pavilions, warehouses and paddocks, embracing a new culture of machine-metaphor and chemical love.
Future Sound of Melbourne’s warehouse triptych Resist The Beat embodies a time when the country’s youth united with juggernaut stamina, partying beyond the long arm of the law. Restored from the ARIA award-winning trio’s original DATs, this debut 12” incited label offers from Jeff Mills, Frank De Wulf and Carl Cox.
Released by the likes of Clan Analogue, Creative Vibes, Volition, DanceNet, Juice and Psy-Harmonics, this era’s material has evaded sufficient digital documentation until now, some lost in the decommission of Angelfire, Tripod and Geocities websites. Often these bedroom experiments and one-off collaborations existed solely for compilation inclusions, a plausible scenario for the mysterious Inner Harmony. In the case of Tetrphnm, graphic artist Jeremy Dower’s glacial sub-bass was digitised from the only known CD-R copy, preserved by the 3RRR FM library.
Many key figures of this narrative have deep roots in the DIY/post-punk family tree. Third Eye, the impressive evolution of Whirlywirld founder and industrial legend Ollie Olsen, finds common ground with I Will Go, a hypnotic concoction by Adrenalentil and Poets of the Machine associate Jandy Rainbow, a transgender artist whose liberated electronics trace back to 1978.
The most unique take on this new wave of dance music comes from Turrbal-Gubbi Gubbi woman and Stolen Generations survivor Maroochy Barambah. Recorded in New York, Mongungi incorporates two lines of a traditional Gubbi Gubbi song Gurri Nina Nami with the sound palette of tribal house, highlighting the broadening ways that identity and culture were being negotiated and manifested within club music.
A lesson in intelligent appropriation, Artificial’s Sobriquet remix bends one of the most looped samples of all time to fit a wired new generation’s interrogation of that thing called disco. Artificial’s ingenuity was vital impact to the scene, releasing three influential albums as one half of B(if)tek and establishing the WINK Awards - a music prize that recognised and encouraged subversive electronics. Her playfulness is mirrored in Blimp’s frisky garage house, recalling Paul Johnson, while Ian Eccles-Smith’s borrowing is comparatively more discrete on the chillout sampledelic collage The Slaughtering Eye.
Andy Rantzen returns to Efficient Space in two incarnations - as one half of Itch-E + Scratch-E ambient alias Screensaver, and in collaboration with General Electrik on Leather Lover, a cocked and loaded glimpse at the bottom end of Oxford street, originally recorded for the Club Kooky compilation Gay In The Life: Adventures in the Queer Underground. Reinventing himself as Hypnoblob, fellow Sydney Oz Wave artist Ian Andrews also gives us his pneumatic-drill-step Deep Down.”
Ever since that incredible 'Au Revoir, Mogadishu' mixtape of Somalian obscurities was released back in 2015 we’ve been obsessed with Çaykh’s mixtapes, always offering a haul of impossible to categorise gems from who-knows-where, pulling us deep into the wormhole. This new one for Nina and Tobias' V I S label is predictably another doozy; a snaky knot of hypnotic, outernational gems slipping from amazing Arabic rhythms to etheric disco, intoxicating drone-pop, keening communal rituals and spiritual jazz. Honestly, there are few selectors that dig quite this deep.
Enviably crammed with rarified, heady and impossible-to-identify goodness, and regularly prone to take the unexpected path, ‘V I S C 09’ is a treat that keeps on giving, opening along multiple axes of exploration while maintaining the cool head of journeyman who knows it’s all about the trip and not the destination.
A star chart for armchair navigation; a late, late night party induction; or a vessel for vast mental transportation; however you use this mixtape, the effect will be wonderfully absorbing, disorienting and refresh your most neglected chakras. Wormholers - take note.
The modern duchess of lo-fi dirge pop presents a sort of partner piece to her widely adored debut LP, You Know What It’s Like with four wistful songs distilling the spirits of post-punk and eerie chamber music.
We’ll cut to the chase, it’s pretty much all about the title track, The Garden, which operates shades away from the much cleaner output of CS + Kreme, but shares much in common with their dusky beauty, and of course distinguished by her sylvan vocals, phosphorescing from a lapping haze of tape noise and distant, quietly breathing synth figures that could happily loop off for twice the length.
The rest is lovely, too but we strongly recommend starting at the back and working your way in.
Second album from BNJMN, full of crisp, rolling techno and aerated electronics
“This album comes after years of experimenting but is the first time since his Black Square album on Rush Hour in 2011 that the artist has felt he has finished a cohesive body of work.
Hypnagogia is BNJMN’s third album in all, but first on this label after EPs like Coil and Amygdala—and his techno banger ‘Droid’ on the Inertia series—helped establish him as one of techno’s most interesting voices. Albums allow him to be more musically free and explore more ideas than 12”s, which are often recorded quicker and only capture a glimpse of his creativity. In the years since his last full length, the artist born Ben Thomas has done everything from strangely melodic music to darker drone-like pieces and uplifting, lighter techno.
This new one—written in two separate studios in Berlin; one small, one much larger, which you can hear in how some tracks are tighter and more intimate, and some are more expansive and dynamic--is influenced by the feeling of hypnagogia. “I’m often quite lucid at night time and I feel a lot of my ideas come from those experiences, so I wanted to present an album that sounds more dreamlike than some of my previous works.”
It results in ten tracks of atmospheric techno that ranges from deeply comforting to turbulent and edgy. There are moments of beautiful ambient reflection on tracks like ‘Glowed’ and ‘Over White Peaks’, plenty of the unique sense of melody BNJMN is known for as well as hypnotic tracks that trap you in a trance. Tracks like ‘Theta Wave’ show BNJMN is always conjuring up unique patterns and beguiling textures, while ‘Hypnagogia Pt 2’ is built on the sort of drum programming that will always lock in the floor.
Though a long time has past and he has grown plenty since his last record, there is still a common thread that unites all BNJMN’s music: melody and texture are key, but the dance floor is also always in mind.”
Something special from DDS - the long awaited album debut of avant-Dancehall mutations from Jamaica’s Equiknoxx, already tipped by everyone from Jon K to Mark Ernestus, featuring productions dating between 2009-2016, mastered and cut by Matt Colton, all on vinyl for the first time ever...
Equiknoxx are one of the weirdest, most innovative dancehall squads from Jamaica right now; Bird Sound Power is their debut collective show of strength, packing 12 avant, crooked riddims by core members Gavsborg and Time Cow, plus Bobby Blackbird and Kofi Knoxx, with vocals by Kemikal, Shanique Marie and J.O.E. (R.I.P).
The set was parsed and pieced together by Jon K & Demdike Stare , and now thanks to link ups via Swing Ting’s Balraj Samrai (a longtime livicated supporter), it’s issued on Demdike’s DDS imprint, replete with Jon K’s sleeve design.
Easily identified by the squawking bird idents peppering their cuts, Equiknoxx productions have been big in the dance since Gavin Blair a.k.a. Gavsborg produced Busy Signal’s billboard hit Step Out in 2005, followed by key instrumentals for Beenie Man, Aidonia, Masicka, and T.O.K.
Bird Sound Power is weighted with the potential to open up perceptions of current dancehall thanks to the mad character and broad reference points of its producers, encompassing King Jammy’s foundational digi-dub and Dave Kelly’s Mad House sound as much as rugged New York hip hop and the wigged-out, feminine pressure of Virginia Beach’s Timbaland or The Neptunes.
The oldest tune inside dates to 2009, but the rest are recent dancehall mutations, including a number of exclusives produced in the last 12 months. Each one reps for Equiknoxx’s unique aspects, such as Jordan Chung a.k.a. Time Cow’s brilliantly bizarre, layered arrangements of sawn-off hooks and digi-tight beats, also a result of their distinguished family vibe.
Bird Sound Power exists in a paradox, utterly fwd but classic, and with as much potential to turn new heads onto current JA sounds as Mowax’s Now Thing set back in 2001, which remains a key touchstone for so many contemporary producers. It’s one of the sharpest, most crucial DDS issues yet, check the clips and get sweaty...
Classy reissue/compilation of mid ‘90s deep house pearls from Ed Marshall’s Dreamscape, by the people for the people at PPU
Applying the same stringent quality filters as PPU have previously applied to boogie, their first house reissue, proper, collects seven charms that were originally dispensed by New Age House Records between 1994-1995.
It’s all pure killer, no filler, from the hair-kissing strut and horny lixx of ‘New Age’, to the kinky lather of ‘Forevermore’ and the mad technoid jam, ‘We Are’ on disc 1, thru the exulted vocal house brim of ‘New Day’, and a new, 45rpm cut of the divine shimmy, ‘To Think We Just Met Yesterday’ on the 2nd disc. Party guaranteed.
Prayers are answered with Vainqueur’s Reductions 1995-1997, a compilation of in-demand cuts from René Löwe’s seminal Chain Reaction 12”s and Elevations CD, including the vinyl premiere of Antistatic and first ever appearance of Antistatic II on any format, all available on wax for the first time in over 20 years!
For anyone who came thru during the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Vainqueur records were required listening - beyond Maurizio’s M-Series and the Basic Channel catalogue, they’re some of the strongest dub techno trax in existence. Now, two decades later, they still appear regularly in the mixes of those in the know, but their 2nd hand prices have steadily crept up in parallel.
To newcomers and older fiends alike, this 3LP selection provides a perfect overview of Vainqueur’s most feted period (not withstanding his all-time banger Lyot , but that was a kinda one-off). The first disc revolves his banging Reduce 1 and the monotone brilliance of Reduce 2, whilst the 2nd disc renders the more tender gasps and dub chords of Solanus (Original) and the heady Elevation II - both masterclasses in German techno minimalism - while the 3rd disc significantly presents the flared chords of Antistatic, taken from the Elevations CD, on vinyl for the 1st time, backed with the exclusive-to-this-12” Antistatic II.
Continuing the Cape Verde series Mar & Sol bring this fantastic masterpiece of an LP ”Nha D’stine” from the legendary singer Américo Brito and his band Djarama. Includes insert. TIP!
"Originally recorded in 1983 on a private press by Américo Brito , and now in 2018 we bring it back to life with the stamp of our label, from Mar & Sol records to all the world."
‘Thresholder’ is another magisterial offering from Ian William Craig on FatCat’s 130701 sub-label, leading on from the ‘Centres’  album and a pair of 2017 singles with the Canadian artist’s signature sense of tempered ecstasy.
Now established as a significant figure in the cross-over fields between modern classical, ambient, and the avant-garde, Craig’s music speaks to the spaces between matter, and the gulf between waking and dreaming life, so we could hardly imagine a more apt title than ‘Thresholder’ for this, his most captivating and perhaps definitive album since he emerged as an elemental force in 2012 with ‘Cloudmarks’.
Most strikingly, ‘Thresholder’ shares an uncanny amount in common with the processed classical arrangements, rough grained textures and disjointed timelines of Akira Rabelais’ ‘eisoptrophobia’. But, where Rabelais’ music is fascinated with finding the new in old music, Craig makes new music sound timelessly old and out of place through his own, patented application of FX and field recordings onto original instrumentation.
With ‘Thresholder’ he pushes this aesthetic to a logical new extent to realise some of his most extreme, beautiful recordings to date. Operating right on the liminal biting point, he brings our hairs stand on end across 10 poignant pieces that make central use of wandering, operatic vocals that flicker like marbled beacons diffused into the dense, rolling haar of his arrangements. One will struggle more than ever to pick out individual tones from his smudged masses, but that’s maybe the point, to induce the listener to perceive his music from the middle distance, rather than focussed in or zoomed out.
In effect he subliminally encourages the listener to totally inhabit his ecologies of mulched flora and inclement conditions, allowing his uniquely stressed, warbling, surreal world to gloriously paint itself in mud, leaves, branches and drizzle on the back of your eyelids.
'Prata Bagnati Del Monte Analogo' is a sublime and truly rarified piece of occult esoterica produced by the famous Franco Battiato and originally published in 1979 on a series he curated for Gianni Sassi's Cramps Records.
This edition has been remastered from original tapes and mercifully made available again by California’s Superior Viaduct. It was inspired by the unfinished pataphysical novel 'Le Mont Analogue' by French writer Renè Daumal, himself a student of engimatic Armenian mystic Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff, whose teachings providing rich reference and spiritual guidance to the record's producer, Battiato, and its performers, Francesco Messina and Juri Camisasca.
A-side is a breathtaking 23 minute mediation played on Moog and Roland Vocoder synths, and EMS Synthi, stroking runs of gentle arpeggios over angelic pads with the sort of intimate pattern repetitions that could happily go on for infinity. Imagine a more sanguine, unhurried Iasos or Laraaji, or as Stephan Mathieu aptly puts it, "Vainqueur, Substance and Resilent as children chanting their vocodered chants" and you're there with us, floating lotus position one foot from the floor.
Raoul Lovisoni's B-side is more colourful and equally beautiful in its own right. His 'Hula Om' features Patti Tassini's purposefully wandering harp and intimate ambient sounds of the room it was recorded in, whereas the glassy resonance of 'Amon Ra' features a Lovisoni rubbing glasses to Juri Camisasca's chant.
Jesus this album in incredible. Heather Leigh channels Kate Bush and Coil via lapsteel guitar and staggering vocals on a her new album for Editions Mego. Following her previous solo LP ‘I Abused Animal’ for Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ with a record that few beyond her inner circle could have predicted. Epic in scope, devastating on impact. Do not miss this one!
“Heather Leigh takes her Throne as queen of pedal steel with a suite of heartbleed ballads cauterised with burning riffs. After the rawness of its precursor I Abused Animal, Throne is a record of late night Americana and heavy femininity; intimate love songs smoked in sensuality. The songs on Throne are woozy, gorgeous and uncomfortable, smothered in thick layers of bass but lifted by multitracked vocals. These are rich song forms that stand in contrast to the stripped down steel in her duo with Peter Brotzmann.
Prelude To Goddess sashays in wearing leopard print jeans under the twinkling fluorescent illuminations of the British seaside, like Brighton Rock with extra bass. It is followed in by Lena – arguably Leigh's Jolene – a perverse love song soaked in a subversive sexuality, weighed down with a heavy pulse. Soft Seasons is anchored with sunken beats shrouded in wailing, growling steel and an earwormy melody. Gold Teeth, the longest track on the record, crests and breaks in waves; ecstatic peaks balanced and echoed by melancholic troughs. It soars on an updraft, and from cosmic heights dives seaward into a gnarly and riotous pedal steel breakdown, before catching the breeze again.
Days Without You and Scorpio & Androzani are shorter, intimate songs, in the latter the synths seethe and the steel bows and bends as Leigh's voice falters above a Greek chorus of shadows and reflections. But this isn't autobiography, and Throne departs on Days Without You, a confrontationally unfinished romantic song, anxious with half-thoughts and missed connections. It glides into the night on stilettos leaving unanswered questions, in a fug of psychic disturbance and lovesick sensuality.
Leigh's artwork (which she photographed and designed) is a visual mirror of the songs on Throne. It is an album of cosmic echoes, abstractions and introspection, of characters and stories that make up Leigh's first best pop record, its melodies and hooks set alight with the fiery core of her unique and distinctive pedal steel. - Jennifer Lucy Allen, 2018”
‘Local Guide’ is a super bonny turn of BoC or Offshore-like electronic fancies from North Sea Dialect, here marking their debut with Glasgow’s Numbers powerhouse...
A slightly anxious yet murkily optimistic suite inspired by a move from Glasgow across Scotland (presumably to somewhere by the North Sea), ‘Local Guide’ is a singular album composed in isolation but riddled with other voices and spirits. It’s the sound of industry battered by the elements, and a record that finely relays the sense of introspection associated with long hours captivated by the choppy blue mass that separates Eastern Scotland and North-eastern England from mainland Europe.
From this inhospitable environment, NSD turns a wealth of inspiration into 10 spiralling, foaming and crashing figures that evoke the serenity of rural freedom and the churning might of the sea, transducing image-sound with a viscerally synaesthetic effect that perfuses and sloshes thru the album, from the briny folk tang of ‘Rodent Tribe’ and the bobbing scales of ‘October Horse’ at its fore, thru more tumultuous and fleeting passages of back masked folk song and cold industrial spaces, to pieces of gnarled, salt-eaten electronics with a grippingly expressive quality comparable to Arca and Shapednoise, if they were partial to Tartan.
First time on vinyl for a lost gem of the L.A. deep jazz underground, mostly recorded in 1985, with bonus side captured in 1979
“The saxophonist Jesse Sharps took over from Arthur Blythe as leader of Horace Tapscott’s Pan-Afrikan People’s Arkestra. ‘He became the Ark leader…he was hardcore,’ the pianist recalls. ‘They’d all be quiet and listen to him when he talked.’
This was the period of such classic PAPA recordings as Flight 17, Live At IUCC and The Call; lit up by the funky, deep spirituality of Sharps compositions like Desert Fairy Princess, Macramé and Peyote Song II.
His own Sharps And Flats album was recorded in 1985 for Tom Albach’s legendary Nimbus West imprint, adding a stunning sixteen-minute bonus cut by the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, featuring Horace Tapscott, recorded in 1979.
A lost classic of the Los Angeles jazz underground, on wax at last!”
Mesmerisingly concentrated techno minimalism from Swiss producer Laurent Peter a.k.a. Tresque
Both cuts are all about long, arcing, incremental developments, taking at least 12 minutes to properly unfurl. ‘Espere’ works sloshing triplets into a loping, heavy-lidded zombie swagger, whereas ‘Solstici’ is more about pumping, grungy bass and glacial drone movement.
Etheric R&B with a melancholy, almost gothic soul, sounding out somewhere between Ciara and Zola Jesus...
“Skin Town's unexpected return with their new album 'Country' finds the duo upping the already high bar set on their striking dark pop gem debut 'The Room' with a dauntless artistic statement that trades clever posturing for vulnerability. Yielding their prowess with more restraint, Skin Town's 'Country' hits harder and cuts deeper - doubling down on their narcotic cocktail of strong R&B hooks, spacious bewitching productions, and marked sense of melody that puts Ukrainian American vocalist Grace Hall and Iranian American multi-instrumentalist Nick Turco in a class of their own.
Many saw that potential on their debut with support from Dazed, Interview, The FADER, KCRW, as well as artists like Tinashe shouting out Skin Town. Lamenting on the duo's unmistakable chemistry, Pitchfork says, "Turco’s synthscapes are huge and scene-stealing, while Hall’s husky voice strikes a glorious medium between Abel Tesfaye and Sade." Their latest is even more potent, a particular strain of sad dance music that feels timeless and raw.
'Country' refines Skin Town's minimal framework of tethering hip-hop/R&B rhythms to Hall's smoky, precise phrasing exploring richer atmospheres and darker concerns. Written and recorded over 3 years, the album touches upon depression, loss, hedonism, poverty, rebellion, sex work, empowerment, and love's contradictions. The album's completion was sidetracked many times with Hall suffering a string of life-threatening mysterious immune system ailments, as a result there is a lot of pain and joy in this record, made with literal blood and tears.
The opener "Bad" signals at this departure from their upbeat predecessor stripping away the beats, relying on the interplay between Turco's ringing chords, the enveloping synthwork and Hall's melancholic, rhythmic intonations. "Mute" brings back the drums, couched in a slinking hip-hop beat and a creeping synth lead. Throughout the record, Turco's productions glean from an eclectic, disparate mix: melodic Amiga tracker music, Metro Boomin', New Age, The-Dream while Hall seems ever more comfortable exploring syncopation and half-rap/half-sung excursions. This is inventive, uncanny pop music where Enya, Offset, Zola Jesus, and Future inhabit the same space.”
First ever collection of the pioneering British reggae Lovers Rock group Brown Sugar including rare singles, dubs and extended mixes. The album comes with extensive sleevenotes and interviews with Dennis Bovell, Pauline Catlin, John Kpiaye and Winston Edwards (Studio 16).
"Brown Sugar were formed by three young teenage girls - Pauline Catlin, Caron Wheeler and Carol Simms in South London in 1976. In the short period of time 1976-1980, the group - working with Dennis Bovell on the mixing desk and John Kpiaye (‘Brownie T) in the studio - recorded barely a handful of singles on the new Lovers Rock label, a number of which went to the top of the UK reggae charts. But success stopped there and with no album release and no industry support the group broke up in the early 1980s.
Following their split Caron Wheeler became the lead vocalist for the hugely successful group Soul II Soul, Carol Simms launched a solo career as Kofi (re-making a number of Brown Sugar songs with producer Mad Professor) and Pauline Catlin returned to education. nDespite their relatively low-key mainstream public exposure Brown Sugar (and the label on which their first records appeared) announced to the world a new genre of reggae music, Lovers Rock, which spoke for the first time with the sensibility of a new segment of British society; that of first generation-born Black British female youth.
And while Lovers Rock became synonymous with sweet love songs, Brown Sugar’s music in fact expressed far more; a righteous pride and consciousness in being Black and British, a political stance more often associated with UK roots groups like Black Slate, Aswad, Misty In Roots and other British reggae acts in the late 1970s. Brown Sugar were in fact their own genre of ‘conscious lovers rock’ - an expression of ideological black cultural pride.
Brown Sugar’s handful of three-minute love songs (often plus extended dubs) somehow manage to encapsulate all the complexities of identity, sexual politics and youthful righteousness of Afro-Caribbean youth living in Britain in the 1970s. Songs such as ‘I’m In Love With A Dreadlocks’, ‘Our Reggae Music’, ‘Black Pride’ and ‘Dreaming Of Zion’ spoke with a straightforward righteousness and consciousness that few roots groups could hope to match. The fact that they were all teenagers is even more striking.
Dennis Bovell comments, “For Lovers Rock we needed a pulpit, a way of saying ‘this is the style’. Sound systems were already saying ‘this is lovers,’ brandishing it in the dance. Ourintention was to create a style of music that my generation could identify with - one that had a beat, and you could dance to with your partner in a sound system setting.” Dennis Bovell’s mixes for the group gave a further dimension to Brown Sugar records - a sound system mentality, adding sound effects and dub elements. ‘I’m In Love With A Dreadlocks’ was the debut release for both Brown Sugar and the Lovers Rock label, a fitting calling card for both. The record was a hit on many sound systems across the UK, reaching the top of the reggae charts.
Although the career of Brown Sugar was short-lived, their legacy and influence remains significant and now, 40 years on from these first records, all of the members are still involved in music. Pauline Catlin has recently re-launched her career under a new moniker, Shezekiel; Carol Simms, aka Kofi, remains a successful solo artist, one of the queens of Lovers Rock; Caron Wheeler, after leaving Soul II Soul at the end of the 1980s, embarked on a solo career, before re-joining the soul super-group which she continues to front to this day."
Sully’s golden streak continues unabated with two flash forward steppers for Rupture LDN
Rolling off the back of zingers for Uncertain Hour and Foxy Jangle and a remix of 2 Bad Mice, he synchs piquant arps with slow/fast footwork/halfstep patterns, virulent mentasms and achingly well-timed shockout breakbeat in the lethal ‘Dream Sequence’, whereas ‘Epoch’ commits to a proper ’96 techstep style with lip-bitingly strong vibes practically as good as anything from that original era, if not better - sacrilege to say, we know, but seriously this is breathtaking stuff!
Príncipe knock us sideways once again with a debut EP showcase of Batida and Tarraxo by RS Produções’ DJ Narciso & Nuno Beats; a set of iquant, wavey club zingers from Lisbon’s hottest yung squad following acclaimed 2018 releases by P. Adrix, DJ Lilocox, and Niagara.
RS Produções are the next, thrilling young unit to emerge from Lisbon’s fertile club scene via Príncipe. Produced by core members DJ Narciso and Nuno Beats, ‘Bagdad Style’ supplies a crisply rugged, bittersweet taste of the crew’s hyperlocal sound, spanning electro-compatible Batida bangers alongside wonky, slower semi-tarraxos and deep, wavey house mutations. If you were snagged by Príncipe’s P. Adrix, DJ Lilocox and Niagara releases already in 2018, we guarantee this one’s unmissable.
Formed in 2014 as a close group of pals from Rinchoa, Rio de Mouro, on the edges of Lisbon, RS Produções grew wings when, in 2016, a then 17 year old Narciso knuckled down and relaunched RS as a proper crew with DJs, producers and an MC in the same model as pivotal Lisbon posse, Piquenos DJs Do Guetto. The crew have since become regular fixtures at Príncipe’s famous monthly residency in Lisbon’s Musicbox club, and their debut showcase is certain to send them spinning around the globe.
The EP is fronted by two unmissable Batida heaters from DJ Narciso in the bare bones electro percussion of ‘Caipirinha’ and the kinked metallic cargaa of ‘Constipacao do Poco’, before the slinky interplay of dissonant organ riffs and flighty pipes in ‘Guerreiro’ highlights a wicked taste for sour, battery-tang lixx that comes to inform the rest of the EP, courtesy of Nuno Beats’ slower tarraxo styles in ‘Lingrinhas’ and the super wavey spesh, ‘Futuro’, while Nuno & Narciso come together with ruder, uptempo torque in the hypnotic electro-house swang of ‘Aberturu’ and the sensuous deep Kuduro contours of ‘Hino RS’, which should leave listeners in no doubt as to the duo’s breadth and quality of club music.
The fact that German label Dekorder are here and ready to put some of the worlds most obscure music on vinyl (and high quality vinyl at that... no surface noise baby) makes me just that little bit happier to be alive. With labels like this out there it feels like music might be in safe hands, and with any luck they'll have the sales to justify the outlay, and certainly this latest record from Finnish psychedelic dronester Uton is well worth spending your hard-earned on. Following on nicely from his killer releases on Digitalis, 'Alitaju Ylimina' (don't ask me to translate that, please!) is a simply shocking dictat in all that is faded and tape saturated. It almost sounds like your brain has melted through the grates into a world of wood shavings and burnt polystyrene, a world where every sound is filtered through ten feet of fibreglass so your ears can only pick up traces of the melodic subtlety. I'm a big fan of Uton so it's hardly fair to comment but I think this might be his most coherent record yet, blending the more electronic, ambient sounds with the plucked folk instrumentation you might expect to hear on a Kemialliset Ystavat record. Fonal fans, Digitalis fans and Jewelled Antler aficionados - you can't miss this!
'Yokehra' from Finnish free-folk Goddess Kuupuu (aka Jonna Karanka) was one of my favourite releases of last year, so I have been very patiently awaiting this followup album! Both of the LPs are made up from her long sold-out CDR EPs and effortlessly show how insanely gifted a musician and innovator she is - blending the out-there sound of Islaja with the crumbling electrical pscyh sounds of Kemialliset Ystavat. Occasionally moving towards the world of pulsating synth experimentalism ('Linnut') and then trip-toeing into something more delicate and folk based ('Ilta Suree') this is the reason why we all got so doe-eyed about the world of Finnish forest folk in the first place. Those tape-recorded detuned guitars, that alien language we are so desperate to get to hear and the crumbling pots 'n pans percussion that endears us so much to these home-made sounds. Dekorder is one of those labels that we have to hold dear - by re-issuing these cdrs and treating them so carefully and so lovingly he is doing the world a service. Hugely recommended for any free folkies desperate for a fix...
This duo sees the joining forces of Uton's Jani Hirvonen with arch Finnish psych folk maven Jan Anderzen, known for his work with Kemialliset Ystavat and Es. The combined efforts of the two musicians make for a dizzying trawl through incomprehensible dreamscape sounds, loaded with obscured folksy instrumentation, no-fi tape hiss and even hints at the kind of Indian rhythms featured in the new Uton LP, Straight Edge XXS. Somewhere buried in that gloopy audio fudge you'll hear wordless vocal utterances, bell chimes and wispy drone patterns, but for all it's wilful obscurity this music isn't without pockets of melody and accessibility, and however weird it all gets there's a hypnotic quality to these compositions that'll keep you under Hevoset's spell.
Tunisia’s Deena Abdelwahed inhabits a fascinating space between tradition and technology, history and futurism in her strikingly moody debut solo album ‘Khonnar’, following from production credits on Fever Ray’s ’Plunge’ and use of her tracks in mixes by M.E.S.H. and Paula Temple. Subbass fiends need to check the final track ‘Rabbouni’, while fans of Jasss and Muslimgauze will gets strong kicks throughout...
“Deena Abdelwahed’s first album is shifting the epicenter of contemporary electronic music south. Pronounced “Ronnar“ (an essential detail so as to avoid facile misinterpretation by French- speakers) it is a term that makes the most of Tunisia’s cultural and linguistic spectrum. It evokes the dark, shameful and disturbing side of things, the one we usually seek to hide, but which Deena instead sticks our noses in with her debut. It is a testament to Deena’s coming into her own as a world citizen, and as an artist. A self-construction made of frustrations and constraints, borne of retrograde mindsets, which are not the prerogative of either the East or the West, and which she tirelessly strives to expose and break.
Throughout the 45 minutes of “Khonnar“, Deena breaks down the codes of bass, techno and experimental music, and writes the manifesto for a generation that does not seek to please or to conform, taking back control of its identity – with all the attendant losses and chaos. A new creative world order is taking shape, a new tilting point between north and south, the response of a connected and liberated youth who takes the control of the new decolonization.”
Edinburgh’s Parsa Jamshidi drops speaker-troubling bass and nerve-tweaking electronics in a jiggy fashion for the Copenhagen-based FLUF label
’0019AA’ is a wickedly nervy piece of future funk with blown out bass and chromatic prongs that makes us once like a robot with ill-fitted limbs.
’0019AA’ is more focussed on strange reverb recursions, with what sounds like hacked up voices tumbling down a metal tube in weightless conditions.
If you’re at all bored by the state of current electronic dance music, this will refresh your ears instantly.
Peder Mannerfelt plays into the widest angles of his “power ambient” sound on ‘Daily Routine’, a killer study into the way rave music intersects domestic life...
The 10 tracks range from decade-old productions to hyper new cut-ups of his brothers' records bought in London in summer ’88, but all betray an increasing embrace of complexity and layered, asymmetric design that will keep his ever-growing mob of followers fascinated at every turn.
The preceding single track ‘Temporary Psychosis (VIP)’ is a definitive highlight, riding the finest line between deadly rave function and pranging unpredictability, while other dancefloor highlights come on strong in the pointillist rave puncture of ‘Sissel & Bass’ featuring a killer vocal by Sissel Wincent, and the rabid churn of ‘This Machine Shares Memes’.
But that would be to neglect the album’s central pschedelic nature and the way it will be used, at home, in prosaic domesticity, where the far flung and undulating topography of pieces such as the sardonic ‘Introductions & Aspiration’, the darkside creep of ‘Cigarettes (Eurofierceness Mix)’, and the exasperated rave of ‘How Was Your Day? (Numb)’ will likely induce listeners to laugh, bruk out, curl up, and climb the walls in their own personal space.
We're v into this one...
The 3-pronged attack of ‘Harm In Hand’ preps the ground for Silent Servant’s keenly awaited 2nd album with Hospital Productions
Inside, two tracks from the upcoming ’Shadows of Death and Desire’ album, namely the rotten power drums and sinewy arps of ‘Harm In Hand’ with Juan on possessed mic duties, and the gnashing swang and rasp of ‘Damage’ and it’s virulent synths.
Unique to the EP is ‘Death of Decadence’, yoking up a proper EBM stallion layered with crazed 16th note arpeggios and powered by dry, pumping kicks.
On the strength of these, bet your bottom $ the album will be class.
Gloryland is Plyxy’s steeply enigmatic and intoxicating début tape of ambient darkness for Ascetic House. Following introductions made on the digital only release Eat Your Gods [Anti/Anti, 2017], the NYC-based Russian artist stealthily unfolds his sound as one of the strongest, most focussed suites of atmospheric mood music this side of Tarkovsky scores or Drew McDowell’s modular gremlins
“Gloryland is the seminal EP from PLYXY, the ambient/noise project of NYC-based polymath Ros Knopov. A refugee from the Soviet Union, he hails from Dnepropetrovsk, the rocket-making capital of the former Communist state. Driven by a desire for improvisation, and obsessed with process, PLYXY weaves manipulated field recordings and Soviet-era film samples through an array of analog Eurorack modules and samplers, creating cinematic environments of despair and nostalgia.”
A steeply absorbing prelude to the apocalypse by Dutch pianist Reinier van Houdt, here trading in layered electronic gloom lit up by guest narration from his Current 93 bandmate, David Tibet
“Reinier van Houdt returns to Hallow Ground with an album based on the unfinished gothic tale Igitur - a collection of texts that eventually was abandoned by its author Stéphane Mallarmé in 1869. Connecting with Mallarmé's obsessions about chance and destiny, Igitur Carbon Copies is the fragmentation of all the roots that ran under its predecessor and brings these to a provisional close: guided by David Tibet's voice reading the reworked text we descend through spheres of deserted anthems, disembodied voices, morse signals, crank calls, corroded tapes, radio statics, stones, while doing counting games. Here the acoustical spaces are manifold, blended or shifted in a heartbeat, where far and near, up and down are relative, where Riemann's god is pointless and angels are enjoying their space. Here perception is a vice that constantly hallucinates realities.
Reinier van Houdt started experimenting with taperecorders, radio's and objects at a young age. Later he studied piano at the Liszt-Academy in Budapest & the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. He developed a fascination for all matters that defy notation: sound, timing, space, physicality, memory, noise, environment - points beyond composition, interpretation and improvisation. He has built himself an unusual repertoire that consistently resulted from personal quests; from composing with non-musical sources, from collaborations with composers & musicians, from research in archives or from unorthodox studies of classical music. He collaborated with artists like Francisco López, Maria de Alvear, Robert Ashley, Luc Ferrari, Annea Lockwood, Alvin Curran, John Cage, Christian Marclay, Walter Marchetti, Charlemagne Palestine and joined the legendary outsider-collective Current 93 in 2012.”
Up until the release of Hasenlove Antonia Leukers has been primarily known for her visual art as part of the Institut Hasenbart collective. Leukers music is probably most readily comparable to CocoRosie, particularly given the emphasis on lo-fi homemade beats and ramshackle songwriting. On this one-sided LP's final track (for which there's no readily apparent title) she even sounds a bit like Bianca Casady - albeit Bianca Casady singing in German with comically out of tune note-holding. While Leukers' songwriting is fairly left-of-centre to say the least, it's by no means messy or inaccessible, and her off-kilter recording style suits her compositions down to the ground, throwing in roughly sculpted electronic beats where necessary. The presentation of this LP warrants a special mention. In addition to being adorned with a slightly disturbing print on its playing surface (specifically, two hares licking each others private parts...) there's an especially finely detailed etching on the flipside. I suppose you'd expect this to be fairly opulent given Leukers' background in the visual arts though, wouldn't you?
Voks is the recording alias of Mikkel Moir Pihl from Copenhagen, one of the Dekorder label's founding artists. The Dane has been far from prolific during his six-year stint on the label, releasing just two 3"CDs until now. As a full-length debut Astra & Knyst seems to jape around with arrangements of MIDI-renderred woodwind, accordion and ukulele, sounding truly surreal in its twisting, turning narrative of lo-fi digi-folk discordance. You can't help but have a bit of a chuckle at the sound of something like 'Pistol': at three-and-a-half minutes it's one of the more fully developed pieces on the album, but it's arrangement of low-grade samples and squeaking solos can't help but sound silly. It wouldn't be entirely undue to make connections between this and the more slapstick moments you'd encounter on a Raymond Scott album, although the most obvious link to make would be to fellow eccentric Dane, Goodiepal. Taken as a complete album, Astra & Knyst is all very odd and relentlessly hyperactive in its hair-brained delivery, but it's well worth half an hour of anyone's time.
Slinky, rude, and darker-edged London house pressure from Hugo Massien, following the styles of his 12”s for E-Beamz, Tectonic, XL and 17 Steps onto Blackdown’s Keysound
Equally adaptable to glam clubs and scuzzy warehouses, the vibe of Massien’s ‘ Remnants / London Underground 2014-16 EP’ swings from spare, square-bass driven deeptech swang in ‘You’re The Only’, to grimier, electroid house rolige on ‘Lowkey’ ft. Calle Lebraun, before tucking it somewhere moodier with the shadowy skulk of ‘Pleasure System’, and shaking out the natty swivel of ‘Powerhouse’ with its whirring hi-hats and nagging bleep coda.
Rhodri Davies, Dawn Bothwell and Richard Dawson’s Hen Ogledd transmogrify from psychedelic no wave time travellers into a wild, inimitable pop unit on ‘Mogic’, their 3rd album together, their debut for Weird World.
Named for a Welsh word describing the historic region between southern Scotland and northern England, the band has grown from the locus of Davies on harp (++) and Dawson on guitar (++) to incorporate Dawn Bothwell and Sally Pilkington on vocals and multiple instruments - most curiously credited with Red Witch Violetta, Pipa Del’ochio, Mooer Green Mile, Hott’s Rombah, among others, between them.
If you copped either of Hen Ogledd’s first two LPs, logic would dictate that this one was always going to be a bit mad, but hardly anyone could have predicted where they’re going with ‘Mogic’, as the band’s combined, contemporary rationale and arcane urges fulminate a persistently unpredictable sound that ties up influence from all corners - vacillating hot-stepping post punk with plaintive folksong, rubbery primordial techno and lysergic indie-pop.
Other notable inclusions clem from sax virtuoso, Mette Rasmussen on some of the album’s strangest/seductive moments, the Canterbury-esque opener ‘Love Time Feel’ and the brilliantly daft indie-pop of ‘Tiny Witch Hunter’ with Dawn Bothwell’s seemingly sung down the wrong end of a telescope, and also the subtle but pivotal percussion of Will Guthrie. But we can very simply sum this one up as far exceeding the sum of its parts.
Gotta be one of 2018’s most beguiling, trend-oblivious pop records.
Highly promising newcomer Nazar gets down to bassbin business on Hyperdub after introductions made on Kode 9 & Burial’s ‘Fabriclive 100’ mix.
From phthalocyanine grime to blown out techno and distorted drill, the ‘Enclave EP’ is one of the freshest/crankiest sessions you’ll hear from London in 2018. It’s unmistakably Hyperdub, repping fractious madness that’s compatible with Gqom, Príncipe styles and loads of deconstructed club musics, yet patently distinguished as UK rave.
Opening with the virulent weightless synths and cold bass knocks of ‘South Border’, the EP delivers a deadly payload of non-standard club pressure with the mutant Gqom of ‘Warning Shots’, and a severely blunted sort of Burial-does-drill sound in ‘Airstrike’ featuring Hyperdub’s secret weapon Shannen SP on vocals, along with the swerving murder of ‘Enclave’ on a killer Angel Ho-styled sci-fi flex, plus the Dutch Bubblers’ troubles of ‘Konvoy’ and a very smart cinematic closer with ‘Ceasefire’.
This may well be the strongest Hyperdub debut since Burial’s seminal ‘South London Boroughs’, or at least since Doon Kanda’s first entry. A must check!
Now you know this is going to be noisy don't you? The debut solo album from Jazzkammer (well, now Jazkamer, but you know what I mean) man John Hegre was never going to a walk in a very ambient park, but surprisingly it's not the ear shattering assault you might think. Although his duets with Lasse Marhaug are to computer music what Hair Police are to guitar music, 'Colors Don't Clash' takes the rough with the smooth, giving way to long, pensive quiet passages which allows the noisier moments (of which there are many, don't worry) more dynamic and power. The record starts off on its more stereotypically beautiful moment, the choppy piano-led 'Don't' but as soon as this comes to an end we're hit with the sheet metal of 'Worry' which takes the sound of dying demons in a metalwork factory and places it against a backdrop of ambient padwork. It's an unusually breathtaking combination and shows there's more to Hegre's noisy abandon than we might have previously given him credit for. The further tracks explore this even further, bringing doom-laden guitar into the mix on 'Never' to create the sort of computer/black metal soundclash we last heard on the incredible KTL album - yet the album's most perfect moment comes right at the very end. Without warning the computerised elements are stripped away dramatically leaving us with a seven minute slice of bluesy guitar, drums and lightly plucked bass - this is, dare I say it, almost a 'real' song, and it works. In context with the rest of the album too, this feels daring and very cleverly placed, giving a breather after the visceral fury of the previous tracks. 'Colours don't Clash' is a heavy record in every sense of the word - but not a record that loses sight of the bigger picture, you get the feeling that Hegre has laboured long and hard over it and knows exactly what he's doing. Huge recommendation.
The king of Gqom meets the pioneer of Flex Dance Music on a proper dancefloor bullet for Swing Ting
This one is just deadly. Those electro patterns; the punishing subs; them bolshy horns and laser stabs; it’s a stone cold essential if you ask us, or the likes of Jubilee, Tash LC and Kode 9, who’ve all given it early play.
Le Stim’s sought-after 1980 Detroit disco diamond, reissued and available to download for the 1st time
“Le Stim was a band formed by lead vocalist Donald Jennings in the late 70s. Now an ordained deacon back in Detroit, Jennings was brought up in a gospel environment and was said to be born to sing. Growing up picking up songs from the likes of Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald or Sam Cooke, Jennings frequently performed for family and friends and went on to sing for audiences in New York, St. Louis and all around Detroit.
We Crown The King is a song written in the mid 70s by the late Herbert Andrei Duncan, also from Detroit. Duncan approached Jennings with the song who was initially reluctant to sing it because it took him out of his usual vocal range. However, Duncan finally (thankfully!) managed to persuade Jennings after five years to record a tune that would prove to become a party anthem decades later.
Remembering Duncan, Jennings says: “Andrei was positive..inquisitive…. and determined. I was only 18 or 19 years old at the time and remember Andrei coming over to my house…. He had a cellphone in his car!.. I remember going to Andrei’s house, and he said he wanted to do the track. Andrei did not take no for an answer! The answer had to be yes! However Andrei didn’t have any money to record the song with. So we made a deal. In exchange for the use of his P.A., Loc (the drummer) provided the seventeen musicians for Le Stim to record ‘We Crown The King’. The session itself was recorded at a studio in Southfield, Michigan.
According to Jennings, Muhammad Ali did hear the track back then and liked it! Le Stim were in touch with Ali’s management and were about to meet him on a number of occasions which unfortunately didn’t work out.
Licensing this record has proven to be our biggest research effort as of yet and has involved visiting it’s author, Duncan’s former house in Detroit only to discover it had burned down and that his family had moved years ago. It wouldn’t have been possible without the invaluable help of Jeremy from Rain&Shine records (NZ) who then managed to track down the family back in Texas!”
An unlikely yet riveting union, Powell Tillmans present the intense feelings of ’Spoken By The Other’, their debut collaboration for XL
Fulminated over the course of the last year, ‘Spoken By The Other’ is the result of the pair meeting at Wolfgang’s Tate retrospective in 2017, and subsequently committing their nascent relationship with a key performance commissioned for Berlin’s Atonal 2017 edition. Described as a “traumatic experience” by Powell, the show patently wasn’t enough to put them off working together again, with their “messy” formative experiments now firmed up into something remarkably unexpected from either side on ‘Spoken By The Other’.
The EP finds them both at a turning point in their respective career arcs - Wolfgang Tillmans turning away from his role as a world-renowned photographer toward music; while Powell is beginning to loosen up and diversify his bonds beyond his early, innovative dance music mutations into warped tonal designs. Fair to say they both recognise this in the other, and catalyse something probing, new and emotionally penetrating in the process.
Between the breathtakingly anxious, gurned-up vulnerability of their piloerect trance nocturne, ‘Feel The Night’, and the Arca-esque vignette ‘445’, they convey a flux of physically affective and emotionally curious sensations ranging from the visceral, textural intensity of ‘Tone Me’ to the bittersweet love note ‘Doucement’ on the A-side, and over to the sustained anxiety of ‘Speak Out (Version)’, and the smeared, bleary contours of ‘Rebuilding The Future’, where their shared passion for the wonk and oddness of reality is dissected and rebuilt in their own image.
Ruff AF post-techno glitch and knotted rhythms from Japan’s Sofheso. RIYL NHK, Autechre, Richard Devine
“First Terrace Records are honoured to present a major retrospective of prolific yet unsung noise-maker Sofheso. Having been writing, performing and recording relentlessly throughout Japan for at least the last decade, the tracks that form this archival release have been selected from a huge quantity and variety of sessions, and arranged in a way that we hope serves as a fittingly monolithic (yet ultimately penetrable) introduction to Sofheso’s singular and thrilling creative vision.
The sound is the process, and the process is architectural, layering drums and short samples into a contorting mass of concrete and steel. In photography the camera lens enjoys a vast intricacy of scaffolding or the skeletal beginnings of a modern building much more than the glossy outer layer, and just so here. There is a deep satisfaction in hearing the construction, witnessing the casting of each new sculpture. Sofheso has created a sonic language entirely his own, with which he is able to articulate seemingly infinite rhythmic and textural possibilities.”
Serious grey area D&B pressure from db1, Forest Drive West, Entire and Nekiya on Ruffhouse’s killer label, UVB-76
Entire takes pole position with the lumbering yet deft halfstep rolige and sonorous sound design of ‘Two Spirits’ alongside the isolationist dancehall inception of ‘Dream Within A Dream’ by another newcomer, Nekyia.
Passing over to slightly more experienced hands, Forest Drive West insightfully toys with D&B schematics in the billowing negative space and pinched percussion of ‘Inverse’, beside the dread cold steppers drill of ‘Duppy Pulse’ by DB1.
Sote and Opal Tape present an astonishing abundance of electronic music by Iranian Sound Artists. Lovers of “unusual” (read: non-Western convention) rhythms, meters, scales and timbres will be in their element with the sheer volume and variegated quality of material inside - from Parsa’s abstract techno to blinding scapes by Leila, and a visionary astral projection by Pouya Pour-Amin. Dive in head first
“Wondering if, while untying a knot in a long rope, slowly untangling the rope from its own grip, the exact point where the knot ends and the rope begins can ever be determined, observing that the rope itself is a series of tangled strings that are a handful of woven cords of entwined strands of braided fibre of woven matter.
The same goes with the outward spiral of interlacing a series of "Girih" and putting together different pieces until eventually a pattern emerges. A pattern to which, one could keep on adding particles and details until it eventually becomes a complex, indecomposable system, a multi-layered design that has infinite detail yet is still a form that resembles the whole.
Experimental electronic musicians from Iran have marked their prints on the face of the universal experimental music scene for some time now, though the manner in which their status went from "non-existent" to "present" and from "silent" to "noisy" might somehow seem "unpredictable" to the naked eye. The way these small individual girihs have become conjoint in order to make a larger design, might at some point seem arbitrary and even accidental. Nevertheless, by following the patterns in which the branches of a river are spreading and by trailing all its curves and bends, we find a sense of order in chaos.
Now reaching the point where the scene transitions from symmetry to asymmetry -not only in relation with the outside world but also within itself- I wonder if we have been lucky enough to have reached our "Lyapunov Time". After all, isn't this transitional state of a chaotic system -this cryptic blend of order and disorder- the most productive path towards equilibrium?
This compilation is trying to transform the chapter from "individual" to "crowd", at the same time, still maintaining "independence". This inevitable spread of fractures, better not be tamed but explored, as us, musicians, are all exploring and experimenting while trying to keep our unique identities originated from our homeland, our experiences, our struggles and our principles.
In embracing the rain of "chaos" lies a power and a thrill no shelter of an umbrella can provide. However, somehow having a roof over one's head, under which, all can breathe the same air while still retaining all of their clashing ideas and their frictions, helps catalyse the emergence of -the so-crucial- "diversity" and in that sense, numerous more fruitful, well-tiled pathways towards experimentation and productivity; As extensive as geometry itself, as infinite as "fractals".
Sara Bigdeli Shamloo (SarrSew) June 2018.”
Flying Lotus’ label marks 10 years in the game with ‘X’, a 36 track compilation featuring 22 brand new, previously unreleased cuts by Thundercat, Martyn, Georgia Anne Muldrow, mr.oizo, Jameszoo, Dorian Concept, Iglooghost +++
Trust Jameszoo to make it freaky on ‘Flake’, while mr.oizo knocks out the searing disco bullet ‘Ham; DJ Paypal coughs up the hot footwork drums of ‘Slim Trak VIP’; FlyLo chips in his remix of Brandon Coleman’s ‘Walk Free’; Ross From Friends roll out the deep house of ‘Squaz’; and even George Clinton turns up on WOKE’s ‘The Lavishment of Light Looking’.
“For the last ten years, Brainfeeder has reminded the world that the future is only as far away as it needs to be. It’s less a label than an international conspiracy to conquer clichéd sounds, a glowing neon helix re-organizing the DNA of hip-hop and house, jazz and ambient, techno and soul, funk and footwork and every other strain of beat music that eludes compartmentalization. The Flying Lotus-founded label has become a sanctified refuge for those who believe that nothing is too weird, genre is largely obsolete, and the wildest style will always reign supreme.”
Khotin crosses Heart To Heart with with four analog house bubblebaths, Canadian style.
One year on from 1080p's debut LP introduction, 'Hello World', he coolly operates in orbit of that label's gauzy aesthetic and just in reach of Mood Hut's romantic ambience.
'For U To Feel' opens with a fluffy measure of marshmallow bass and creamy acid squiggles beside the dub-spilt deep house contours of 'XP Waste'.
Flipside takes flight with a feathered lick of the same Morricone track sampled in Pita's 'Get Out', but here applied to a simmering, mystic Chicago jack pattern in 'AT03', whilst 'AT04' meditates on modulated acid and serene deep house drones.