Christina Vantzou inaugurates Zin Taylor and Emilie Lauriola's newly minted Slow Moves label with this low key stunner of an album, once again throwing us into off-piste shadow realms through a use of veiled field recordings, padded synths and oblique, quiet instrumentation - a perfect follow-up to last year’s deeply hallucinogenic 'Multi Natural’ album and highly recommended if you’re as bowled over by Michèle Bokanowski’s film score work as we are.
'Releasing Spores’ is described by Vantzou as “…a soundtrack of events, composed and delivered as a documentary about a place…”, and blasts off into alien landscapes designed to confuse the senses: synthesizer sounds that mimic instruments, field recordings that sound synthesized - and so on. Each layer is designed to invoke a mental knot, fluxing between the digital sophistication of contemporary experimental electronics and the dusty nostalgia of old wildlife documentaries, Boards of Canada’s famed early interludes and dispassionate 1970s sci-fi sound design.
Evoking colours that lie outside our visible spectrum; Vantzou’s take on Minimalism is like one of those vast submerged cities, from the surface you observe little more than a ripple, but dive in and a whole world materialises before your eyes. This is music designed for immersive listening; offsetting subtle mood shifts with expansive sound staging and spatial shenanigans designed to heighten emotional rather than academic resonance - never succumbing to any aesthetic lowest common denominators. Much like Michèle Bokanowski, Vantzou manages to find that elusive spot between the overly emotional and the sterile, instead caressing the senses with sounds that at turns glow and disorientate. The trick is to submit completely.
Bay Area new music innovator Loren Rush has worked alongside Pauline Oliveros and Terry Riley, but remarkably little of his work has been made widely available. Sean McCann's Recital attempts to correct that with 'Dans Le Sable', Rush's first new album in over 40 years - a surreal, melancholy fog of opera, orchestra and digital synthesis. Listen and bowl yourself over - it's a proper headmelt.
Best known for his 1970 drone piece 'Hard Music', where three pianists would play a single note to form rhythmically-shifting clouds of sound, Loren Rush is described by Recital as a "deeply overlooked composer". For some reason his work has been absent from the reissue machine until now, and judging by 'Dans Le Sable' it's hard to see why. The opening, title track, was written and recorded in the late 1960s, and weighs in at a hefty 20 minutes. It's a kaleidoscopic work, verging on sound collage but using orchestral and operatic elements that pile up on each other to offset each element's unique characteristics.
Using narration, distant slow piano, faint orchestrals, audience coughs and an assured soprano, the components are oddly combined - in the most startling and satisfying way - overlaid purposefully but awkwardly to enhance contextual resonance. It sounds almost like walking through a music hall as sounds waft over from every direction, finally converging into a dense, textured whole. Rush expands on these ideas with 'Song' and 'Dance', two more experimental pieces that put orchestral sounds - and their possibilities - under the microscope.
'Song' is weightless and eerie, with phrases performed almost randomly to jar and engage, forming hypnotic orchestral ambience that breathes with pregnant suspense. The biggest surprise though is 'Dance', one of the first orchestral pieces to use computer-generated digital synthesis and a jaw-droppingly complex collision of sounds. Bouncing shards of synths roll and ping around rhythmic percussion and flurries of strings and trumpets: it sounds like the Radiophonic Workshop processing an evening with Fluxus.
"Dans Le Sable" is disarming, important music that breathes life into seemingly forgotten history. Huge recommendation.
40th anniversary gatefold edition of John Foxx’s classic 1981 album, The Garden featuring the singles Europe After The Rain and Dancing Like A Gun. Pressed on translucent green & shimmering yellow vinyl.
Side One 1 Europe After The Rain 2 Systems Of Romance 3 When I Was A Man And You Were A Woman 4 Dancing Like A Gun 5 Pater Noster Side Two 6 Night Suit 7 You Were There 8 Fusion/Fission 9 Walk Away 10 The Garden
B-Sides & Rarities Part I & II contains material from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 30-plus year career, featuring a total od 83 tracks across 7 x 180g LPs housed in a deluxe case bound slipcase, with foiling, featuring exclusive photographs and sleeve notes written by Sean O’Hagan.
"This is the first time Part I, compiled by Mick Harvey and originally released in 2005, has been made available on vinyl. It comprises 56 tracks including rarities, out-takes, covers & B-sides from 1988-2005.
Part II, compiled by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis and features 27 tracks from Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! in 2006 to 2019’s Ghosteen. Including 19 rare and unreleased tracks including first recordings of ‘Skeleton Tree’, ‘Girl in Amber’, ‘Bright Horses’ and ‘Waiting for You’."
PART I LP1
A1. Deanna (Acoustic Version)
A2. The Mercy Seat (Acoustic Version)
A3. City of Refuge (Acoustic Version)
A4. The Moon Is in the Gutter
A5. The Six Strings That Drew Blood
A6. Rye Whiskey
A7. Running Scared
B1. Black Betty
B3. The Girl at the Bottom of My Glass
B4. The Train Song
B5. Cocks 'n' Asses
B6. Blue Bird
PART I LP2
A2. God's Hotel
A3. (I'll Love You) Till the End of the World
A4. Cassiel's Song
A5. Tower of Song
A6. Rye Whiskey
B1. What Can I Give You?
B2. What a Wonderful World
B3. Rainy Night In Soho
B4. Lucy (Version #2)
B5. Jack the Ripper (Acoustic Version)
PART I LP3
A1. The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane
A2. The Willow Garden
A3. King Kong Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-O
A4. Knoxville Girl
A5. There's No Night Out in the Jail
A6. That's What Jazz Is to Me
B1. Where the Wild Roses Grow
B2. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 1
B3. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 2
B4. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 3
B5. O'Malley's Bar Reprise
PART I LP4
A1. Red Right Hand
A2. Time Jesum Transeuntum Et Non Riverentum
A3. Little Empty Boat
A4. Right Now I'm A-Roaming
B1. Come Into My Sleep
B2. Black Hair
B3. Babe, I Got You Bad
B4. Sheep May Safely Graze
B5. Opium Tea
PART I LP5
A1. Grief Came Riding
A2. Bless His Ever Loving Heart
A3. Good Good Day
A4. Little Janey's Gone
A5. I Feel So Good
A6. Shoot Me Down
B1. Swing Low
B2. Little Ghost Song
B3. Everything Must Converge
B5. She's Leaving You
B6. Under This Moon
PART II LP6
A1. Hey Little Firing Squad
A2. Fleeting Love
A3. Accidents Will Happen
A4. Free To Walk (With Debbie Harry)
B1. Needle Boy
B2. Lightning Bolts
B3. Animal X
B4. Give Us a Kiss
B5. Push The Sky Away (Live with The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)
PART II LP7
A1. First Skeleton Tree
A2. King Sized Nick Cave Blues
A3. Opium Eyes
A4. Big Dream (With Sky)
A5. Instrumental #33
A6. Hell Villanelle
A8. Life Per Se
B1. Steve McQueen
B2. First Bright Horses
B3. First Girl in Amber
B5. Heart that Kills You
B6. First Waiting for You
B7. Sudden Song
‘Salvador’ is the strong debut album from Sega Bodega. Self-released on the Nuxxe label which has hosted his ace productions for Shy Girl, Brooke Candy and Coucou Chloe over the past few years, ‘Salvador’ is a uniquely formed slice of contemporary pop and R&B with an effortlessly avant edge thanks to his diamond-cut studio tekkers.
It also marks the artist’s full fledged emergence from behind-the-desk producer to a triple threat of all singing, all producing, all scowling frontman in possession of 2020 pop’s “narcissistic misery”, as defined by his UK synth-pop forebears, The Pet Shop Boys. However, Sega Bodega is among the most stylish to do this sound, and his music is defined by a subtler, more ambiguous sort of nervous energy and icy cool, balancing woe with glimmers of dancefloor optimism and a curious brand of negative ecstasy.
‘Salvador’ reveals a canny lyricist, too. Bar a cranky interlude of messed-up music box melodies, he sings on all ten other songs, touching on topics of self-abuse and enervation in ‘Masochism’ over a strange mix of hip hop and post-punk drum patterns, while ‘Smell Of The Rubber’ is a thoroughly modern sex jam with the classic opening line “when you lie you look like you’ve cum / but as if you’ve cum in public”, over rugged deep south trap drums.
Held in balance with more “up” moments such as the the rolling electro-pop weirdness of ‘U Got The Fever’, the bolshy swagger of single cut ‘Salv Goes To Hollywood’, and the poignant downstrokes of neo-classical keys and Coil-esque electronics in ‘Calvin’, and the elegiac finale ‘Kuvasz In Snow’, the whole album adds up to one of the most grown-up but acutely modern expressions we’ve heard from the new wave.
Maverick electro-acoustic composer Marina Rosenfeld returns to Room 40, host of 2009’s standout ‘P.A./Hard Love’ album, with an investigation of dub plate decay and the haptic, physical interaction of skin, sweat and grime on acetate, with results recalling Bellows, Stephan Mathieu, early Wanda Group
“For over two decades, New York-based artist and composer Marina Rosenfeld has pioneered a specific language for turntable music, based on an ever-expanding collection of dub plates she creates.
The dubplate is a one-off, hand-cut record. Each dubplate can be made to contain any array of sounds decided on by its creator. For Rosenfeld, her discovery of the dubplate in the late 1990s was a pivotal moment, when she recognised the material instability of the medium as critical tool for performance and composition.
On Index, the investigation of this materiality is paramount. The physical intimacy that colors the relation between the hand and the plate is revealed through a very particular reading of the turntable, one which sits in parallel to the more recognised ways in which that technology has been deployed as a performative tool.
This edition features a series of live recordings and related materials that trace the development of Rosenfeld’s tactile approach and her shifting collection of sound materials. The recordings are published alongside a book featuring extensive archival documentation, photography and a long-form conversation between Marina Rosenfeld and Lawrence English.”
Morning Trip & Yoga Records reveal a lost work of new age music: Alice Damon’s "Windsong".
"Gently propelled by Damon's haunting breath-of-life vocal winds reminiscent of Joan La Barbara underscored by field recordings and Damon's fretless bass sound calling to mind mid-70 Joni Mitchell, Windsong is traveling music, for the roads or for the skies. Instantly moving, it conjures vistas both romantically familiar and cosmically mysterious — waterfalls and wind, the voice of the earth, as heard through heavenly prisms.
Damon attended college in Massachusetts, where she formed and fronted the all-female garage band called The Moppets in the late 60s. The band began to garner national attention, but Damon moved instead to the wilds of northern Vermont to homestead and raise a family. In 1981 or thereabouts she was able to gain use of an early Sony digital home recorder, and created her masterwork, Windsong.
But Damon waited until 1990 to release a packaged version of this album, now titled "Windsong II", and sent samples to regional distributors like Vermont’s fabled Silo-Alcazar, where a copy of the album was first discovered, but little evidence exists of a proper commercial release. Alice Damon passed on in 2011 and remained essentially unknown until the landmark I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age In America 1950-1990 first revealed her genius to a wider audience two years later. Now, just in time for the recording's 40th anniversary, Alice Damon's Windsong may at last be heard as one of the most singular, moving and profound examples of new age music's psychedelic essence."
"Rampton" by Come reissued by Susan Lawly.
"The year 1980 saw release of this iconoclastic debut LP, first album on the highly collectible Come Organisation label, and first chapter in the long musical career of a then teenage William Bennett after leaving Essential Logic, which subsequently led to the pure electronic Whitehouse and present-day Cut Hands projects. Also notably featuring synthesiser bass performed by The Normal's Daniel Miller."
For the 1st time in over 30 years, The Chosen Brothers’ mellifluous roots reggae masterpiece ‘Sing & Shout’ returns, re-shuffled, abridged and re-cut to vinyl by CGB at D&M, Berlin
Most notable for the gorgeous ‘Mash Down Babylon’, which was versioned by Rhythm & Sound to classic effect in 1998 and now opens this new edition, ‘Sing & Shout’ is perhaps one of roots reggae's more overlooked efforts, but arguably also one of the most distinguished of its mid ‘80s era.
Recorded at Bullwackie’s studio in White Plains, NYC, by Douglas Levy, Sugar Minot and Bullwackie, ‘Sing & Shout’ blends classic roots lyrical themes and dub production with early traces of the digital drum machine and synth styles that would come to dominate the dancehall from this phase forward.
For this new edition, the now Berlin-administered Wackies deign to resequence the track-list, which now starts up with the evergreen original of ‘March Down Babylon’ (which has also been issued on a 12” with bonus dub + version this week) and the wickedly slow and easy digidub of ‘Jah Don’t Like That’ along with the mellow wooze of ‘Sing & Shout’ and the misty precipitation of ‘Dancing In The Rain (12” Mix)’, and comes to rest with woozy praises to Jah in ‘All Things (12” Mix)’.
Nice and easy definitely wins the day here. Unmissable!
Hungarian mystic Hortobágyi graces avant classical titan ECM in trio with his Hortogonals, György Kurtág Jr. and Miklós Lengyelfi for an exquisite elision of deep space and spectralist musicks with remarkable runs into dub techno, for all intents and purposes like some stray ~scape or MVO Trio wonder
Originally issued beyond our peripheral vision in 2009, the trio’s only release to date plugs a hole in our collections that we didn’t even realise existed until recently. Their ‘Kurtágonals’ form a lattice like bridge between disciplines and worlds, discretely weaving formerly exclusive bedfellows into a richly imaginative soundsphere fizzing with influence from Romanian spectralist traditions and Hortobágyi’s worldly research of alternate tunings and modes, as much as the deepest German dub techno abstractions. It’s a totally unexpected but entirely welcome direction of exploration to our ears, seemingly manifesting an idea that we’d wager many of us have longed for, but never heard executed quite so well.
‘Kurtágonals’ is released by Manfred Eicher’s legendary ECM label, highly regarded for their production values, and as such patently benefits from an opulent sound staging, with Hortobágyi assisted in the August 2008 recording and engineering by Ferenc Haász at the Guo Manor, Budapest. Between them they conjure an unfathomably wide and vertiginous soundfield strafed by acéphalic chorales and sliding electronic pitches, and arced with resonant string harmonics, but really given depth by its ultra subtle layers of distant dub chords and padded subbass ballast, both of which we never really expected to hear on an ECM recording, and especially in this sort of seamless, playthru arrangement resembling a dream mixtape.
We could offer any number of add n to x allegories for this sound, but they’d all fall short of the stylistically transcendent end product. It’s simply extraordinary stuff that needs to experienced in highest possible fidelity and with good speakers to reveal its spellbinding nuance.
So, wow. This is the first ever compendium of Martin Hannett's work with Steve Hopkins as The Invisible Girls. Comprising rare and largely unheard gems from 1976 - 1987.
As the story goes, Hannett & Hopkins met at a Soft Machine show at UMIST in 1976, where the former had graduated with a chemistry degree, and was advised to tap up the latter for some weed. The smoke must have been decent ‘cos a week later they were jamming in Hannett’s Chorlton flat with Dave Tomlinson of Magazine and Visage, who would lend them his ARP 2600 synth. One month later they were creating the soundtrack for a bizarre stop motion animation, ‘All Sorts of Heroes’, which makes up much of the second half of the compilation with its fuzzy psych-funk and more atmospheric strokes of piano and synth.
The set frames a remarkable and ambitious relationship between the pair, ranging from Hannett's amazing solo gear ranging from shuddering rhythmic noise to windswept ambience and the jaw-dropping proto techno-disco sophistication of 'Space Music', plugging a fair old gap in Manchester music history, especially for fans of Factory, post punk and electronic music.
Collection of rare and unreleased tracks by the influential English experimental group Contrastate.
"This follows on from the sold-out compilation "False fangs For Old Werewolves" showcasing a dark ambient realm of spoken and sung soliloquies, driven machinery, evolving drones and electronic minimalism to create juxtaposing imagery and dreamlike landscapes. Active from the late 1980s through to the present day Contrastate provide a sonic soundtrack to a hypnotic world full of dynamic sounds and emotional shifts.
Their sound insinuates itself somewhere inside the dark ritual ambience of the electronic avant-garde shot through with a vein of experimental noise and sarcophetic vocals strewn amongst industrial surrealism. Includes a remix by Ralf Wehowsky. "Contrastate achieve an amazing equilibrium between organic sound and brooding electronics" (Heathen Harvest). Gatefold oversized mini-LP sleeve with a four-page booklet containing detailed (mis)information on the history of each of the tracks."
Brittle boned breaks and gothic atmospheres from D&B renegade CDB, crossing paths with AD 93 for the first time
The follow-up to De Babalon’s ‘Teyas’ collaboration with WIDT picks up in equally bleak and dramatic terrain, following his instincts for a sort of theatrical breakcore style comparable with early Venetian Snares on Zhark.
There’s nowt like a bit of German opera to get the blood up, as with the scene setting chorale that gives way to gnashing breaks in ‘Kein Bild Machen’, while ‘Hung on a String’ comms with pebbledash drums and deathly, keening strings beside the bone-clacking breakbeat churn of ‘Swimmer.’ We’re best reminded of V Snares circa the ‘Salt’ EP on the EP highlights ‘Cool Priest’ and ‘What’s Wrong With Tomorrow’ while ‘Ether’ hits with more deviant drum funk a la a gothic Nucleus & Paradox.
On the cover: Klein: The South London musician, vocalist, playwright, game designer and film maker generates uncanny resonance via collage and subversion in new film Care and album Harmattan. By Abi Bliss.
Inside this issue:
The Primer: Horace Tapscott & The Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra: A user’s guide to the recorded legacy of the prolific US pianist, composer, bandleader, organiser and activist. By Francis Gooding.
Black Dice: After almost a decade dormant the joyfully elastic noise trio make their return with a new album of effervescent edits and psychedelic humour. By Marc Masters.
Invisible Jukebox: Alan & Sir Richard Bishop: The erstwhile Sun City Girls bask in the rays of a mystery record selection. Tested by each other.
Anthony Wood 1948–2021: The Wire’s founder has died. Obituary by Tony Herrington
Tara Clerkin Trio: Homemade fusion from the Bristol group. By Clive Bell
L'Rain: Taja Cheek processes the past via evocative sonic collage. By Claire Biddles
Mazaher: The Zãr tradition handled with care by the Egyptian ensemble. By Louis Pattison
Magda Mayas: Berlin based pianist gets graphic and tactile. By Peter Margasak
Global Ear: Artists in the Texas Llano Estacado flatlands embrace the stark landscape. By Josh Feola
Unlimited Editions: We Jazz
Unofficial Channels: The Heat Warps
The Inner Sleeve: Midori Takada on Toru Takemitsu’s Corona
Epiphanies: Conny Plank and Holger Czukay teach Youth to embrace his mistakes
The Wire Tapper 57: A track by track guide to this issue’s free CD
Print Run: New music books: improv politics, Scandinavian dreams, Jandek’s rays, hardware hacking, horror scores, and more
On Screen: New films and DVDs: Robert V Galluzzo’s Analog Love: The (Long Lost) Art Of The Mixtape
On Location: Recent live events and streams: Jupiter Rising, Mary Halvorson, Wysing Arts Festival, Rewire, and more
On Site: Recent art shows: Barbara Ess The Secret Life Of Objects
Soundcheck: Algara, Amir Abbey, Robert Ashley, Aya, Badbadnotgood, Le Beast Concrète, Billion O’Clock, Black Dice, Mira Calix, Carlos Casas, Circuit Des Yeux, Corder & Yantis, Dear Laika, Dimmer, Diskord, Sam Dunscombe, Endless Boogie, Fire-Toolz, David Grubbs & Ryley Walker, Liz Helman, IG, Irreversible Entanglements, Jhelisa, KingL Man, Okkyung Lee, Andra Ljos, Neil Luck, Luggage, Maniac Squat, Joe McPhee, Mukqs, Nasturtium, New Mexican Stargazers, Monika Werkstatt/Mania D/ Malaria!/Matador, Marissa Nadler, Roman NoN & Zebadiah Witch, Ora Clementi, Ov Pain, Jessica Pavone, Pelt, Phew, The Pop Group, Porest, Proc Fiskal, RAIC, Rdeča Raketa, Replicant, Al Riggs, Marina Rosenfeld & Ben Vida, São Paulo Underground & Tupperwear, Elliott Sharp’s Terraplane, Nikki Sheth, Geneva Skeen, Paula García Stone, Yuji Takahashi & Roger Turner, Thollem, Threshing Floor, Ken Vandermark, Veilburner, Moreno Veloso, Voiddweller, Emmanuelle Waeckerlé, Whisker, Richard Youngs, Nick Zanca, Zara, Various BA7CH, Various Place: Nairobi, Various Redline Legends
The Boomerang: Janet Beat, The Brian Brown Quintet, Ian Carr’s Nucleus, John Coltrane, Tom Dissevelt, Tom Dissevelt & Kid Baltan, Mike Gibbs, Thomas Köner, Bertie Marshall, Mujician, Joseph Nechvatal, Negative Approach, Porter Ricks, Marina Rosenfeld, Dirk Schaefer, Super Furry Animals, Keith Tippett & Matthew Bourne, Yoshi Wada, Winterhawk, Various Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop 1980–1989, Various Strain Crack & Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List Vol 2
A bearhug of chill-out room gouching gear from MFM spanning the golden era of ‘90s ambient dance music with gems from David Moufang, LFO, Global Communication, Kirsty Hawkshaw, Sun Electric and many more notables of that era.
Since the world turned into a big chill out room in early 2020, albeit with a heavy sense of anxiety, this set could hardly be better placed for downtime in the comfort of your own home, rolling out mystic highlights such as LFO’s MDMA-tingle arps and pads in ‘Helen’ and the sublime suspension systems of Global Communication’s remix of ‘Arcadian’, along with Move D’s early nugget ‘Sergio Leone’s Wet Dream’, and the lush pads of his close spar Jonah Sharp’s Spacetime Continuum, plus a strip of killer slow acid in Sideral’s ‘Mare Nostrum’, and the blissed romance of ‘Love 2 Love’ by Sun Electric.
One for the lovers and the ravers.
After a blazing succession of Sound System heaters, Dug Out offers a spiritual session of seminal nyabinghi grounation from Dadawah circa 1974, perhaps the most mind-expanding, important spiritual dub reissue we've heard this last decade.
It's most likely a large influence upon the work of label head Mark Ernestus in his Rhythm & Sound guise, recalling the magical spirituality of classics like 'Making History' among others in the hypntoic, shuffling pace and intangibly smoky aura that seems to evaporate from the grooves with each listen. The group is led by Ras Michael, guiding a traditional set up of nyabinghi (ceremonial Rasta drums), bass, guitar, brass and Piano organ in four extended excursions over sublime, psychedelic terrain without a worry in the world.
As with much of the best reggae, much of the magic was elicited and embellished in post production, with Lloyd Charmers and Federal engineer George Raymond apparently staying up all night after the session to mix the recording, imbuing the tracks with a dazed, wide-open and echoing personal space. Keeping the standards impeccably high, the album was lovingly restored at Abbey Road and looks every bit the classic that it is. Big up Dug Out, this going to be on rotation round here for years to come.
If The Durutti Column made a record at the Radiophonic Workshop it’d prob sound a bit like this; percolated electronic treatments bubbling around pure guitar drift, a beautiful thing.
IRIS are named after a Soviet-era Czech guitar: the Jolana Iris. On the opening track 'Rub Ix', arhythmic synth tones remind of Raymond Scott's pioneering experimentation, but the light shimmer of guitar strings tickles in the background. The instrument gets more attention on 'Steely Dream', looped into bliss over faint percolations drawn on 'Dream Reprise'. The fusion of elements is cleaved from time in a way that can't help but sound escapist. There's little to tie it to the contemporary era - the whole record throbs with a ferric hiss and saturation that sounds as if it was dubbed to tape - and few influences that stretch further than the mid-1980s.
The ordered pulse of Krautrock feels tangible on 'Deadlocked', with plucked strings forming a defined rhythm and other instrumental sounds conducting evocative, watery atmospheres. On 'JPT Acid', it's not Roland's little grey boxes that fuel the fire, it's acid rock and kosmische's sludgy axe-grind - like Cluster beaming thru radio static. If someone told us this material had been dug out of a basement on 1/4" tape, or rediscovered from a 150-copy private press, we'd believe them.
There's a stylistic ease and authenticity that helps position the material in a canon that includes everyone from the BBC's influential Radiophonic Workshop to Nurse With Wound, but the fact that it doesn't arrive with any fanfare makes us appreciate it more. Aye, sehr gut.
AYA rinses out garage, grime, jungle, rap and mutant IDM on a killer debut album of head-spinning, freehand tekkers, plus an ace guest spot by MC/producer Iceboy Violet. Big RIYL Arca, Autechre, Klein, Mykki Blanco
Landing five years since they first snagged attention as Loft, it’s been a real pleasure to witness AYA really come into their own via distinctive releases with Wisdom Teeth and Tri Angle, a.o., not to mention 2020’s A2A hook-up with Air Max ’97, and blazing remixes for Zuli, Xin and Hodge. With ‘im hole’ they distill and diffuse their ideas at their most singular and elusive, brilliantly transcending their reference points in a dynamic definition of their style that shreds convention and leaves room for interpretation.
Playing deep into Hyperdub’s fundamentally futurist aesthetics, the 11 tracks pack a dizzying amount of pointillist detail per inch, but aways at the service of a bigger picture and an emotive/narrative arc that dances in the integers many others skip over. Fractal not fractional, their designs spiral and splinter to convey a flux of queered, rapturous and melancholic feels with a naturally avant leaning and playfulness, effectively enacting a sort of hyper noumenal playground for their animated designs to come alive.
It all feels like they’ve better consolidated their acclaimed live act persona - a sort of Northern cabaret DJ schtick - with their ever advancing studio practice; giving voice to their truest self, albeit diffracted thru myriad plugins. It’s a richly strange and satisfying experience to follow from their elision of ponderous computer music and stream-of-conscious lyrics on ‘somewhere between the 8th and 9th floor’ to the dreamlike warp of ‘backsliding,’ with a massive highlight in the drill vapours of ‘Emley lights us moor’ starring a typically captivating turn by Manc peer Iceboy Violet, and killer updates of Yorkshire bleep ’n bass torque in ‘dis yacky’, and Rian Treanor-esque metric experimentalism in the puckered nerviness of ‘the only solution i have found is to simply jump higher.’
‘im hole’ is a real marvel for the times; brimming with daring positivity, a curious emotional intelligence, and artistic spirit that’s hard to ignore and may even inspire others to commit so fully to their own style.
Berlin’s groundbreaking punk madams are subject of a necessary archive deep dive, reappraising a glut of killer live room recordings and demos from their seminal early years at the crux of the city’s scuzzy wave scene
Part of 40th anniversary commemorations, this is the 2nd part of ‘M_Sessions’, so named after their shared initial of three projects revolving the legendary Gudrun Gut, in various configurations; Mania D. (Gudrun with Beate Bartel, Bettina Köster, Eva-Maria Goßling), Malaria! (Gudrun beside Bettina Köster, Christine Hahn, Manon Duursma, Susanne Kuhnke), and Matador (Gudrun plus Beate bartel and Manon Duursma). Supplementing a side of reinterpretations by the likes of Lucretia Dalt, Midori Hirano and AGF, this collection turns up an abundance of previously unheard material capturing Gudrun and her cohort in their element, variously playing to crowds of post-punks, EBM pioneers and early post-industrialists in the belly of West Berlin and farther afield during the cold war years.
Frankly it’s fucking feast for fans of the era, and anyone interested in the history of female fronted bands, for that matter. The original core team of Beate Bartel, Bettina Köster, Manon P. Duursma are responsible for the selection,drawing from a wide range of aces by each unit; from the no wave skronk of ‘Zukunft (Sender Freies Berlin)’ and queasy stagger of ‘Herzschlag (7inch single, Monogram)’ by Mania D., to the gothic swagger of ‘White Sky White Sea (EDIT, Weisses Wasser EP) and the cranky death rock of ‘Mädels Sind Toll (Live Berlin)’ by Malaria!, and some real gems from the later Matador years, includignthe creepy ‘Nite Time (A Touch BCL Album version)’, the almost Cocteau Twins-like ‘Paradise (Demo Version)’, and the late ‘80s Dome-esque machine grind of ‘Schreiender Tag.’
Incinerated minimal dub dirt from Michael Beckett (aka kptmichigan) that reinterprets Harry Smith's iconic 1952 "Anthology of American Folk Music" as Chain Reaction-esque soundscapes. It's a wild idea that's executed with rare skill and restraint - fans of Vladislav Delay, Rhythm & Sound, Gas, or even Fatische boss Jan Jelinek, you won't wanna sleep on this one.
Who would have thought that using Harry Smith's 1950s Folkways recordings - a defining set of American musical history culled from the filmmaker's extensive 78RPM record collection - as the basis for a dub techno remix project would birth good material? It sounds like a comedy project, not least because Beckett remixed every single one of six-album set's 84 tracks on the record's original 2013 cassette release. But this new reissue, handily pared down to just 13 outstanding cuts, is proof that occasionally, a hilariously high-concept idea can reap rewards.
On the original release, Beckett translated the title of Smith's set into his local "Low German" dialect, and used a sampler and effects pedals to disassemble the material, sometimes banging out multiple remixes in a day. Interpreting the recordings in this manner - turning crackling folk into cavernous dub and undulating ambience - Beckett makes an interesting statement about the evolving back-and-forth between Europe and the USA. Music that was rooted Europe and transformed by the influence of enslaved Africans on American soil is shuttled back to Europe, where imported Jamaican recording processes are employed by a German producer. It's almost poetic.
There's little left of the dulcimer, zither, fiddle, banjo and harmonica sounds that populated Smith's anthology. But the texture of the sounds is just about recognizable in Beckett's slim, rhythmic variations. He takes the hum of these vintage recordings and fashions them into looping tracks that mirror Basic Channel or Rhythm & Sound at their most abstract or Wolfgang Voigt at his most uncompromising. It's distinctly German music that's inspired, directed and buoyed by African and European folk traditions, and there's really little else like it.
Outstanding sacrifice of cybergoth dancepop by New York’s X Harlow, hexing lines between Arca, Burial, The Cure and Alex Zhang Hungtai on ace, exploratory label, Sweat X NYC
One of the most striking new works we’ve heard in a minute, ‘Cathars’ ventures the 2nd part of a triptych started with 2020’s ‘Anchorite’, and continues X Harlow’s unique trajectory thru cthonic realms of coldwave pop with strong, seamlessly incorporated influence from UK dance music and Latin freestyle. It’s a dead special consolidation of disparate cues, strafing the shadows of many subgenres but beholden to none of them, and crucially draws on and evokes its heavy, non-musical inspirations - countercultural medieval gnosticism, personal health issues, contemporary socio-politics - in a way that doesn’t feel cloying or distract from its self-evidently expressive results.
Under a titular nod to the unorthodox Christian movement originating between the 12th and 14th centuries, ‘Cathars’ is quite literally one for the heretics, and quite possibly a crafty pun on the cathartic power of goth music. With vocals that step to the right side of the current emo-indie/sad rap tropes, they adapt the framework of classic coldwave - gloaming minor key motifs and shivering negative space - with seamlessly woven nods to the trills of Latin electro freestyle and UKG in a way we’ve simply not heard like this before.
The sepulchral hymnal ’Apparitioner’ is a case in point, underlining This Mortal Coil-esque vox with filleted 2-step and washed out dub, and ‘Light is Gone’ somehow channelling Robert Smith in sad rap steppers style, with ‘Credentes’ nodding toward ‘&&&&&&’ era Arca, and the noctilucent sax of ‘Lost In Her House’ harking to Alex Zhang Hungtai via beat less Burial works. Together with the shimmering choral fantasy of ‘Metempsychosis’ and accomplished, Anni Hogan-esque solo piano coda of ’She Is Found’, it’s unmissable business for listeners of a goth-industrial-dance persuasion, from monochrome types to those who carry it in the inside pocket.
Fluttering, shine-eyed chug by Belfast’s Group Zero, venturing a sort of early morning wonk constructed from trace elements of motorik kosmiche, psychedelic beatdown and deep disco - think Pye Corner Audio, Ssiege, 1991
Member of C86 pop group Girls Names, Cathal Cully aka Group Zero here tempers their pop sensibilities into a more stripped down sound, following their nose for breezy melodies and loping elegant repetition that never tests one’s patience. There’s an unmistakeable shimmer of similarity with Pye Corner Audio’s prized vibe in the delicious synth wow and flutter of ‘Memorial Hall’, and ‘Memorial Deice’ dials up warmest sort of vapourware nostalgia with a fine soupçon of Gaelic romance. The padded throb and lissom arps of ‘You Can See The Dust Crawl’ are surely destined for end of night and the soon afters, while ‘The Club Singer’ trades in nearly 10 minutes of golden gouch out gear.
Exhaustive survey of post punks Normil Hawaiians, charting their development from jagged rock to more melodic and funky inventions over a relatively short period, prior to their members playing on ‘80s Bowie records
“Dark World collects together choice material from Normil Hawaiians' formative early years of 1979-1981. Tagging along with the band from their peppy post-punk origins (so brilliantly debuted on "The Beat Goes On") into the looser, dubbier territories that laid the foundations for the group's landmark album More Wealth Than Money. Dark World gathers the group's energetic 7" singles on Dining Out and Illuminated Records, their metamorphic Gala Failed EP (Red Rhino) and a lively last-minute Peel session from 1980, alongside outtakes, rarities, and demos. During this feverish time, founding member Guy Smith was motivated to make music that reveled in always trying out different things.
Normil Hawaiians was a very fluid ensemble at this point, Guy often accompanied by Kev Armstrong and Jim Lusted encouraged saxophones, violins, synths, pianos and a select pack of female backing singers to take their post-punk sound into wilder directions. One of the earliest line-ups of Normil Hawaiians featured a 15-year-old Janet Armstrong on vocals alongside Guy, "Ventilation" best showcases her deadpan digressions. Janet went on to sing alongside David Bowie a few years later on his breathtaking mid-80s gem "Absolute Beginners". By this point Kev Armstrong was also guesting for Bowie on guitar duties too. Another guest to join the ranks of Normil Hawaiians during this fertile time of cross-pollination was Bertie Marshall (aka Berlin of the proto-punk Bromley Contingent). "Sang Sang" is a good example of how he was inspired to deliver his poetic treatises over the band's atmospheric, floating improvisations. Bertie's impressionistic influence helped the group uncouple further from rock tropes, as they became restless and more rhythmically-focused. "Still Obedient" fidgets, soars and careens across the dancefloor.
By the end of this transformative two years Normil Hawaiians had spun an exceptional chrysalis around themselves. The dark world surrounding wouldn't win out, they'd eaten-up the music and grown continuously, wrote and recorded rapidly, covered Zappa and even David Lynch and could feel the light beginning to shine through. Dark World is a snapshot of a band in flux, finding their feet, stretching their limbs. Normil Hawaiians cover an awful amount of ground in such a short time-frame on this record and these tracks document all the glittering debris from their magpie's nest. Emergent, hopeful and resistant in sound and ethic.”
Keening, listiing experimental club rhythms and sublime ambient from Bristol affiliate Via Maris (Timedance, Livity Sound, Mistry) on yung local label, do you have peace?
Their first release since 2018 witnesses Via Maris explore overpronating polymetrics and vacuum processed vocal idents in the gyring motion of ‘Lekky’, which comes off like Koreless and Batu in hyperspace to our ears, whereas ‘Hiblrr’ changes tack entirely toward glimmering ambient that again recalls the crisp design of Koreless, yet with a woozier, nostalgic attraction and Bristol afterparty glow.
Kelman Duran fades to dusk on this killer, smeared new album of steamy, syncopated kicks, spiritual jazz and haunted, weightless textures, nailing a singular sort of ambient dembow folk modernism that comes with our highest possible recommendation - and especially so if yr feeling Nala Sinephro, Space Afrika, Tara Clerkin Trio, Amazondotcom, Klein, Chino Amobi.
A music of margins and shadows full of pent spirit, ‘Night In Tijuana’ was recorded in the titular border city while Kelman was working as a curator for Tijuana's Otras Obras gallery and finds him strafing between enervated ambient rap pressure and gnashing jazz drums with a real sense of purpose that conveys the worries and joys of his Latin diasporic community. Feeding in elements of classical music, sound collage, and a divergent Afro-Caribbean club pulse, it's a sonic representation of his musical fingerprint, that includes his childhood in Washington Heights and time studying at the prestigious Cal Arts institute - a delirious mix of dance culture and vivid, confident fine art.
From the fraught, anxiously gasping but disciplined drums of ‘Freddie King’, to the woodblock ‘Dancehall, Audubon Ballroom’, thru his flip of Arthur Blythe’s modal free jazz stylings in ‘Lower Nile’, to the dusted dembow techno of the title track, his drums and vibes perfectly say it without saying it thru the first two thirds of the album.
However, it’s the weightless aspects that come to define the album thru its recurrent ‘Aeon’ themes, defining its narrative arc into the final passages, between the smoked gloom of ‘South London BC’ and deftly string-heavy melancholy of ‘For Whitney’, with the ritualistic feel of ‘Night In Tijuana III’ giving way to the noirish masterstroke closure of ‘Last Cinema, (outro) II’, all orienting the album for smoked out nights, harnessing elements of club music to ink deeper elegies.
East Coast minimal wave institution Xeno & Oaklander’s seventh full-length, Vi/deo.
""Vi/deo" further distills their iconic noir synth pop into a streamlined suite of gleaming, graceful retrofuturism. Inspired by ideas of synesthesia, scent, star worship, and obsolescent technologies, the duo of Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride began conceiving the blueprint of Vi/deo while sequestered at their Southern Connecticut home studio during the pandemic. The context of isolation, streaming, and remote dreaming seeped into their chemistry, manifesting as both homage to and me ditation on a certain cinematic strain of technicolor fantasy: the screen as stage, distance disguised as intimacy, where tragedy and glamor crossfade into one.
Opening with the precision synthetic melancholy of “Infinite Sadness,” the album marks a peak fluidity between the pair’s fusion of analog electronics and poetic melody, both refined and oblique, classic but contemporary. Wendelbo modeled her singing on “a young boy in a choir,” alternately holding notes and whispering them, with the lyrics clear, the voice elevated. McBride’s synthesizers serve as the perfect counterpart, tiered and polished, threading fluorescent architectures of a lost audio-visual age. Theirs is a darkwave of reverie and flickering city lights, swooning and sleek, romantic anthe ms for concrete bohemia, cigarette smoke in rainy gardens, and sound as color (“blue is fast and red is slow”). Vi/deo captures the bittersweet beauty of youth and utopias, the wistful transformation from miracle to memory, where love turns unreal and music becomes myth: “Sounds of the underground / Will echo in future days / Feelings of misery / Will fade into the haze.”"
Lo-fi house survivor Ross From Friends returns with an album of plasticky gauzetronica that takes the half-remembered essence UK garage, funky house, post dubstep and breakbeat and breathes it into tracks that make Four Tet and Bicep sound like Merzbow.
'Tread' isn't going to win any awards for originality. Every sound on the record, from opener 'The Daisy's slippery 2-step to 'Morning Sun In A Dusty Room's gossamer ambience feels as if it's been picked out by a music supervisor for the BBC's youth programming. It's impeccably produced music - aided by Ross From Friends' custom-made Max for Live patch - but in rooting itself so firmly in the past, says absolutely nothing about the present.
'Tread' is escapist music - and it's true we all wanna escape the post-Brexit rainy racist nightmare of modern Britain - but it runs away from its responsibility to be more than elevator music for bored middle management stooges.
Cornwall's Mildred Maude new album for Sonic Cathedral.
"Three seemingly disparate characters – Matt Ashdown (guitar), Lee Wade (bass) and Louie Newlands (drums) – Mildred Maude are named after one of their grandmas and play an improvised noise that always seems to be teetering on the edge of chaos, but something incredibly beautiful at the same time, like a cross between Sonic Youth and Slowdive. It is utterly thrilling.
Sleepover is their second album and bears the influence of Stereolab, Can, Butthole Surfers, Yo La Tengo and Sun Ra, among others, with three of its four tracks being over 10 minutes in length. ‘Trevena’ is the loping opener; ‘Elliott’s Floor’ initially turned into My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Only Shallow’ by mistake and on the vinyl version it never ends, thanks to a locked groove; ‘Glen Plays Moses’ crosses a Red Sea of sound and is just epic in every way.The odd one out is ‘Chemo Brain’ – just under three minutes of Fugazi-esque frenzy, named after a side-effect of bassist Lee’s cancer treatment. The album artwork is also inspired by this – it’s a molecular model of cyclophosphamide, one of the drugs he was given.Mildred Maude’s DIY approach has been the only way for them to get anywhere in Cornwall, where they say they feel more in tune with Aphex Twin, Luke Vibert and the Rephlex Records crowd from the 1990s than any current scene. They do, however, unintentionally have something in common with the medieval Miracle Plays that would take place in the Duchy. “They were notoriously noisy to attract people to them,” explains guitarist Matt, “but were also events that brought communities together, and we like our live shows to have a sense of togetherness.”
Matt says he is also inspired by historic places of worship. “There are some great places in Cornwall such as St Just Church and the open air Gwennap Pit in Redruth. It’s these beautiful spaces that I try to imagine we’re in when we’re playing live – so it’s fitting that we’re releasing this new album on Sonic Cathedral.”"
Roberto Carlos Lange’s beautifully beatific Latinx pop-soul warms the cockles on his debut Helado Negro album for 4AD; a slow burn celebration of his South American heritage and nostalgia for the ’80s club music he grew up with
In loving pursuit of the style he’s developed over handfuls of albums for Asthmatic Kitty and more recently RVNG Intl., ‘Far In’ sees Helado Negro further burnish his rose-tinted sound with a sense of intimacy that stems from spending lots of time at home and getting deeper into his sound during lockdown. Referencing a “youth growing up in South Florida listening to 80s club songs, and their return sampled in 90s hip hop”, his 15 songs wash over one with the wooziest daydreaming quality, knitting languorous Latin rhythms to shimmering melodies in a way that, to our ears at least, somehow feel like christmas in a warm place, everything soft focus and lilting with a perennial familiarity that’s seductively disarming and effortlessly comforting.
Typically sung in his bilingual mix of Spanish and english, no matter which language he chooses, Lange’s music conveys the feeling clearly. In key with the notable refinements of his songwriting style over the past decade, ‘Far In’ reaches a new high watermark of classicism as he enters his 3rd decade of releases, nesting a melange of nods to Tropicália, Fleetwood Mac and Beck in his butter smooth transition from the strolling strums of ‘Wake Up Tomorrow’ with its harmonious vox by Bon Iver and Kid Cudi collaborator, Kacy Hill, thru to the glyding yacht rock disco of ‘Aureole’ and the gently insistent dreambop of ‘Outside the Outside’, with bucolic semi-acoustic magic in ‘Wind Conversations’ and Mazzy Star-like tristesse of ‘Thank You Forever.’
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds have produced a truly prodigious quantity of material in their 30-plus year recording career, a fact that is highlighted by this huge, 3CD collection of B-sides and rarities.
Spanning everything from the obligatory BBC sessions through to limited edition B-sides and previously unreleased studio material, this career straddling cross-section will act as a treasure trove to signed up members of the Cave fan club, yet will be just as accessible to those for whom the Bad Seeds have always been a peripheral musical entity. Exhibiting why they can headline the main stage at Glastonbury one week then put in a curate's egg performance at some back alley club the next, 'B-Sides and Rarities' shows that music can be esoteric and intelligent without sacrificing its listenability. With Cave's peerless recasting of 'What A Wonderful World' as an after hours, caliginous beast, you soon find yourself getting sucked in to Cave's strangely borderless realm. Gems include the fiercely polemical acoustic version of 'Jack the Ripper', the previously unreleased original casting of 'Where the Wild Roses Grow' featuring Herr Bargeld in the role Kylie would later assume and the full orchestral pomp of the (again unreleased) 'Red Right Hand', a song written for the soundtrack of Scream 3 (you read right...). Not even mentioning the studio out-takes of 'Sheep May Safely Graze' and the utterly heartbreaking piano-led melancholy of 'Little Ghost Song', 'B-sides and Rarities' is exactly what a collection of extra material should be; welcome, intriguing and utterly refreshing.
PART I CD1
1. Deanna (Acoustic Version)
2. The Mercy Seat (Acoustic Version)
3. City of Refuge (Acoustic Version)
4. The Moon Is in the Gutter
5. The Six Strings That Drew Blood
6. Rye Whiskey
7. Running Scared
8. Black Betty
10. The Girl at the Bottom of My Glass
11. The Train Song
12. Cocks 'n' Asses
13. Blue Bird
15. God's Hotel
16. (I'll Love You) Till the End of the World
17. Cassiel's Song
18. Tower of Song
19. What Can I Give You?
PART I CD2
1. What a Wonderful World
2. Rainy Night In Soho
3. Lucy (Version #2)
4. Jack the Ripper (Acoustic Version)
5. Sail Away
6. There's No Night Out in the Jail
7. That's What Jazz Is to Me
8. The Willow Garden
9. The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane
10. King Kong Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-O
11. Knoxville Girl
12. Where the Wild Roses Grow (Original Guide Vocal Version)
13. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 1
14. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 2
15. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 3
16. Time Jesum Transeuntum Et Non Riverentum
17. O'Malley's Bar Reprise
18. Red Right Hand (Scream 3 Version)
PART I CD3
1. Little Empty Boat
2. Right Now I'm A-Roaming
3. Come Into My Sleep
4. Black Hair
5. Babe, I Got You Bad
6. Sheep May Safely Graze
7. Opium Tea
8. Grief Came Riding
9. Bless His Ever Loving Heart
10. Good Good Day
11. Little Janey's Gone
12. I Feel So Good
13. Shoot Me Down
14. Swing Low
15. Little Ghost Song
16. Everything Must Converge
18. She's Leaving You
19. Under This Moon
New, 2021 recording of Robert Ashley’s acclaimed opera, often performed between ’87-’93 and issued on CD in 1994, here performed by a new cast in its production at Roulette, Brooklyn. It’s a part of the opera tetralogy ’Now Eleanor’s Idea’, a part of Ashley’s larger trilogy of operas including ‘Perfect Lives’ and ‘Atalanta’
“Robert Ashley's eL/Aficionado is a group of scenes from the life of an "agent". The scenes are a kind of "debriefing" to a jury of Interrogators, in which the Interrogators (chorus) challenge the Agent (soloist) in various forms of musical dialogue. The mood of the opera owes much to our fascination with espionage and with the character of those people who lead double lives. The opera was performed many times between 1987 and 1993, and Lovely Music released a recording of the opera in 1994 (LCD 1004CD).
This new studio recording features the cast of the 2021 production (October 21-23 at Roulette, Brooklyn), with mezzo soprano, Kayleigh Butcher, taking over the role formerly inhabited by baritone Thomas Buckner. Recorded at Robert Ashley's studio in July 2021. Orchestration by Robert Ashley and Tom Hamilton. Recorded and mixed by Tom Hamilton. Produced by Tom Hamilton and Mimi Johnson. Personnel/Credits: Music and Libretto by Robert Ashley; Kayleigh Butcher - The Agent; Brian McCorkle - Interrogator No. 1; Bonnie Lander - Interrogator No. 2; Paul Pinto - Interrogator No. 3.
"As labyrinthine as a Robbe-Grillet novel, as pithy as a Pinter play, eL/Aficionado comprises a series of debriefing sessions between a secret agent and his three interrogators. For 70 minutes the work sustains an atmosphere of uneasy calm brilliantly: misty, microtonal electronics provide a sometimes barely audible backdrop to the vocal parts. But don't confuse this with ambient; Ashley's music requires your full attention to appreciate the subtle timbres of his unique sound world... This is another riveting work by one of the world's leading composers of experimental opera." --Chris Blackford, The Wire (1995)
"Enigmatic, cryptic, wonderfully mysterious, eL/ Aficionado has a story line and narrative structure, as do Ashley's previous operas. Though the characters hail from a parallel universe, familiar and alien. The music is austere, simple, even minimalistic, yet utterly compelling. The New York Times was dead-on in proclaiming Ashley 'opera's James Joyce.'" --Dean Suzuki, Wired, 1995”
Gantz is your pusher man on a batch of groggy, beatdown post-dubstep permutations
Continuing to sidewind from his original dubstep base, Turkish producer Gantz diversifies and expands his stylistic bonds with a handful of smoky, enigmatic works that roughly echo the OG sound.
His atmospheric sound design skills come to the fore with Lynchian or Coil-like effect in the shivering voices, finger-click percussion and gloaming pads of ‘Axxon N’, setting a mise-en-scene that he lazily explores between the Burial-esque ‘Sleepless Elite’, screwed 303 lines on ‘Pusher Acid’, and sort of cloud rap variant in ‘Chiral’, with ‘Avert Your Eyes Bass’ landing at an ace juncture of Giallo-edsque intrigue and pensive 2-step.
RVNG.’s FRKWYS foster another dream union with the first/last meeting of Finnish avant-jazz legend Pekka Airaksinen and US psych spirit Ka Baird.
Recorded six months before Pekka Airaksinen departed this mortal coil in 2019, and left behind an unparalleled catalogue of solo trips and work with Sperm, ‘Hungry Shells’ sees him find an ideal foil in Ka Baird, whose freeform solo sides have come to subtly echo Pekka’s mindful psychedelia in the modern sphere.
Brought together for Le Guess Who? festival in Utrecht, Holland, the pair wrote and recorded the album around rehearsals for performance at the festival, drawing on time spent together during long walks around the city’s medieval canals, as well as Pekka’s time meditating in his hotel room, for a wholly absorbing consolidation of their already complementary styles, finely sustaining the radical spirit of the late ‘60s scene that Pekka came from for an album that surely nourishes the psychedelic needs of a new generation.
It’s easy to hear each artist’s hallmarks on the record, with Pekka’s signature 808 patterns and Buddhist texts appearing alongside Ka’s shapeshifting vocals and tonal minimalism, but the results arguably transcend their inputs, eliding their spirits to achieve a sort of probing pineal insight. In a spellbinding back and forth, Ka reads Pekka’s Buddhist parables, divined during meditation, as a constant theme through the record, which is prone to lean heavily between silvery rhythmic works and passages of eye-gyring psych lushness. From the pulsating noise and trilling keys of ‘Big Stoen Small Stone’ to the whirligig of fumes, vox and 808 in ’Syzygy (For Pekka)’, thru the wormhole of ‘Grey Body’ to impishly possessed dance of ‘Roseclouds’ and their spiralling nine minute closer ‘Hungry Shells’ it all delivers at least your RDA of psychedelic goodness, and leaves a fitting testament to the durability and singularity of Pekka’s legendary oeuvre, a legacy Ka Baird is well placed to continue.
Unimpeachable neo grime, experimental footwork, hybrid trap, and brutalist acid from NYC mainstays DJ SWISHA and Kush Jones. Serious bass flex fer fans of Rashad, Mumdance, Green Velvet and DJ Manny.
Anyone moaning that there was no good dance music released over quarantine needs to peep this immediately. DJ SWISHA and Kush Jones are trusted NYC brand names at this stage with sprawling varied output, but this collaborative EP inches both their sounds to the next level. Opener 'Snare Track' is most impressive, a lithe nu-grime hybrid that seems to reference Youngstar's enduring 'Pulse X' and Novelist and Mumdance's 'Take Time' while throwing in jungle snares and chop snares and still sounding spacious?
'Torcida' is faster and denser, as rolling hyper-footwork bass backs up whistles and Latin percussion, while title track 'Outta Bounds' picks an acid groove, squelching over doubletime kicks and brittle claps like Phuture on +8. Kush Jones drops pummeling solo banger 'GTB' and SWISHA is kind enough to slow it down on his remix, flipping it into a slithering club-trap shaker.
Dusted deep house suite from Herbert, getting back in the groove for first time in years, and with typically soulful alacrity and patented sound design.
Allied with myriad vocalists (Joy Morgan, Mel Uye-Parker, Bianca Rose, Verushka, Allie Armstrong, Y’akoto, Siân Roseanna and Daisy Godfrey) diffracted across a spectrum of deeper house styles, from dubby to swanging, ambient, jazzy and tropical; Herbert places his signature concrète sampling and sound design tekkers at the service of an easy going sound that expresses the anima of an aesthetic that he’s worked towards for over a quarter century.
With this latest collection primed by some choice reissues, we find Herbert effectively redecorating his metaphorical abode, working with no fewer than eight new vocalists who each lend a subtle shading but hold together as nuanced aspects of a collective voice. From the cloudy smoking room dub ambience of ‘Two Doors’, which places Joy Morgan in very Rhythm & Sound-like settings, to the symphonic soul hall of ‘Gold Dust’ with a purring Bianca Rose, who also lights the up-stepper ‘Chain Reaction,’ and via the butter chords of ‘Hypnotised’ with an effervescent Mel Uye-Parker, thru to the tip of tongue downbeat sensation in ‘The Way’ with Y’koto, and delicious Detroit beatdown nod ‘Tell Me A Secret’ featuring Siân Roseanna, and spry 2-step/broken beat depth of ‘Be Young’, there’s no mistaking this is Herbert back to his emotive best.
Duppy Gun/Roolingz Musik crooner RDL Shellah comes correct with a SKRS-produced maxi EP that hovers between Anderson Paak's dusted soul and vintage lovers rock, spiked with an expectedly psychedelic twist.
Formerly known as RDL, RDL Shellah impressed earlier in the year with his Smurphy-produced 'Streets' 7". Now he's back to mark the opening of the Duppy Gun / Bokeh Versions / Roolings Muzik studio in Jamaica. Funded by Bandcamp sales, the studio was built by I Jahbar, who wanted to provide creative guidance - as well as engineering knowhow - for Jamaica's young vocalists. "Showcase" is the first music to emerge from the completed studio, and it's a roaring success.
Canadian collective Seekersinternational handle the production, tapping into their obsession with lovers rock (last witnessed on the "LoversDedicationStation" album) to shock the concept with their constantly shifting, FX-heavy style. So tracks like opener 'Turn Mi On' and lead single 'Bad Wine' distort slippery backdrops of dusted funk drums and smoove electric piano with unexpected rhythmic twists and production quirks that aptly coalesce with Shellah's impressive vocals.
On 'Come Out', SKRS drop a library funk riddim, but Shellah fires it into the future with his rapid-fire rhymes and limber Autotuned choruses. 'Rich Mi Proud' draws a dotted line from Kingston to London with a rattling nu-grime riddim and muted bars from Shellah, while 'Touch Road' sounds like a collision of Dipset, DMZ and Shabba Ranks.
Los Angeles-based bassist and regular Sam Gendel collaborator Sam Wilkes teams up with some likeminded friends to build on the febrile funk of 'One Theme' and shuttle it into lively prog-jazz territory. Synth-blasted, improv nu-jazz sunshine that's part Carlos Niño, part Quincy Jones, part Tortoise and part Dilla.
The album springs out of a defined theme - fittingly the opening track - and spirals from that point, cascading in various disparate improvised directions.
'Phillips' is an early highlight, focusing on an analog synth part that sounds as if it's been trapped in a Space Echo loop, before 'The Drums' sharply follows and hones in on overdriven drums that could have been chopped from Broadcast's underrated "Haha Sound". On 'Chris Fishman' the album nudges into more abstract territory as the percussion gets more purposed and eventually more chaotic, and cosmic synth improvisations hark back to Sun Ra before tapping into a fresh 4/4 Detroit splatter.
The album feels as if it gets free-er as it progresses, snowballing quickly into Chicago post-rock territory while keeping an eye planter on the fusion canon - and the last three tracks are the most out-there on the album. Channeling the spiritual energy of Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane, Wilkes and his collaborators dip into pure beat scene psychedelia, closing on 'The 3rd', a track so faded you're likely to get a contact high.
Iconic Japanese experimentalist Phew returns to Mute for first time in 30 years with a haunted and strung out set of barely-there vox and submerged synths
“Rising to prominence with the art-punk group Aunt Sally before her first solo release in 1981, recorded at Conny Plank’s studio in Cologne with Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, Phew isn’t about to go soft on us.
“I wanted to exclude sentimentality,” she says of New Decade. “With the situation at the moment, I’ve got it lucky. Last year, in particular, just being alive was kind of a lucky state of affairs. Being able to openly express how you’re feeling, in spite of all that, is a sort of privilege you have as a musician or artist, and I felt like I shouldn’t abuse it.”
This has been a guiding principle for Phew in recent years, as she has amassed a body of solo work that melds her signature vocals with febrile, droning synthesisers and drum machines. Already well accustomed to working in isolation at home, keeping her voice down in order not to annoy the neighbours, New Decade is a stark and haunted album, populated by voices that intone empty pleasantries in English and Japanese or manifest as wordless shrieks and groans, against a backdrop of fractured, dubbed-out electronics.
Phew explains that there’s a loose concept running through the album, relating to the perception of time. “During the ’80s, and up until the ’90s, things progressed along a line from past to present to future, but I think that’s changed, especially since the start of the 21st century. Personally speaking, I’ve stopped being able to see a future that extends from the present.”
This is reflected in the unplaceable character of her current work. It’s not deliberately retro in the manner of many analogue synth revivalists, nor does Phew waste time trying to catch up with the latest trends. It’s music out of time, resonating to its own peculiar frequency.
One of electronic music's most influential recordings, the legendary E2-E4 gets a digital release for the first time, carefully overseen by the man himself.
An epochal classic, most readers of these pages will know the story, but to indulge you with a recap, Gottsching emerged from the midst of electronic krautrock heroes Ashra tempel and in 1981, off the back of a Klaus Schulze tour, sat down one evening and dropped a continuous piece of music which was eerily to predicate the arc of dance music for a quarter of a century.
Early adopters in the Chicago and Detroit warehouses and mediterranean pleasure palaces must have thrilled to the balanced and continuous surging flow of the hour long piece - even over two sides the mix is perfect for building a club atmosphere and suggesting avenues for mixing, whilst using merely two chords throughout. the minimalism offsets the percussive splendour perfectly - several years later the tune was rediscovered and co-opted into the huge italo house smash Sueno Latino, which cemented its foundation in the burgeoning balearic scene of the time and proceeded through several spells of rapturous revival throughout the nineties, not least when figures like Carl Craig and Basic Channel issued their own radically different reshapes and remakes of the piece.
Very satisfying then to have this Gottsching sanctioned edition, where the game might truly be said to have begun in earnest. As they say on the august walls of the Hardwax emporium - buy or die.
The classic Brummie techno dispatch rears up for a 21st anniversary reissue with a reshuffled track-list but still packing all the meat and gristle
Forged by the Downwards (and Sandwell District) co-founders for their Berlin allies, ‘Againstnature’ is distinguished in their catalogues for its mix of signature, slinky pounders and a quota of beat-less, tonal, atmospheric works that hailed the duo’s other tastes and prefaced future directions for Regis, at least.
Those beat-less pieces patently resonate with the duo’s interests beyond the pale of techno proper, with the clangourous industrial workshop atmospheres of ‘Washing My Hands’, the fetid hush and post-battlefield string pads of ‘Paralysing,’ and the martial sashay of ‘Under Skin’ and lending a curious sidespin to the track sequencing, which is more dominated by their swingeingly sexy techno muscle.
If the techno’s what you’re after though, some get it at best between the nagging greyscale minimalism of ‘Let Them Bleed,’ the full throttle tribalism of ‘Nothing And No One,’ the prototype BMB-sounding ‘Meat’; the locked in, humid pelt of ‘Hanoi Hanoi’ with its drilling vocal sample; and the unyielding gallop of ‘Guiltless.’
'Single' isn't just a reissue of Pub's similarly-titled 2002 set, it properly rounds up the Glaswegian dub techno reductionist's first three 12"s and adds a couple of vinyl exclusives. Long-form blunted dancefloor haziness never sounded so lovely: imagine Various Artists/T++, The Black Dog, BoC and Manuel Göttsching locked in a room wth some synths, drum machines and echo boxes.
Hot on the heels of last year's much needed 'Do You Ever Regret Pantomime?' reissue comes this equally levitational set of Caledonian miasma, remastered at Berlin's Dubplates & Mastering. It's the best way to widen yer appreciation of the Ampoule boss's early work, especially if you've only come across his debut album and the 'Summer' EP. 'Single' is basically a photo album of Pub's earliest experiments, and kicks off fittingly with 'Lunch', from his 1999-released 12" "Lick/Lunch". When that record originally dropped, Pub was only 18 years old and was penning his extended dub-phoric jams on a single synthesizer/workstation.
The rudimentary DIY methodology adds to the raw emotionality of the material. It sounds as if Pub is very slowly conducting the loose, trance-influenced arpeggios and dusty rhythms and shifting them carefully in-and-out of frame on the fly almost like Manuel Göttsching on the Biblical "E2-E4". There's a physicality to the music that sounds alien in an era where DAWs are practically unavoidable, and it's sobering to recall. 'Springing Daisy's' is a truncated version of the "Springing Daisy's Mix" of 'Film' (from 2002's "Derail" 12"), turning up on "Single" again to close the collection, shortened from almost 15 minutes to 10 and aptly renamed 'Short Film'.
Both versions center around Pub's innate ability to take basic ingredients - in this case a single melodic loop and a distorted T++ style rhythm - and sublime them into gaseous traces of their constituent parts. 'Springing Daisy's' is the "pop" version - short, sharp, beat heavy - and 'Short Film' (a vinyl exclusive) is the abstracted, Basic Channel-influenced inversion, detuning the melody and torching the rhythm into an acidic fizz. 'Derail' is included too, and has never sounded better, showcasing Pub at his most dissociated and melancholy with a distant BoC hum couched in a thick fog of reverberating resonance.
2003's 'Surgery' rounds up the early run, and displays Pub's artistic progression, moving a few steps out of the murk and allowing the drums to push into near-dancefloor territory on the title track. And the new edition is finished off with the trancey 'Kamikazi', a track from the original "> Single" that's never made it to vinyl before.
B-Side And Rarities Part II was compiled by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis and features 27 tracks from “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” in 2006 to 2019s “Ghosteen”. Also features 19 rare and unreleased tracks including first recordings of ‘Skeleton Tree’, ‘Girl in Amber’, ‘Bright Horses’ and ‘Waiting for You’."
A1. Hey Little Firing Squad
A2. Fleeting Love
A3. Accidents Will Happen
A4. Free To Walk (With Debbie Harry)
B1. Needle Boy
B2. Lightning Bolts
B3. Animal X
B4. Give Us a Kiss
B5. Push The Sky Away (Live with The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)
A1. First Skeleton Tree
A2. King Sized Nick Cave Blues
A3. Opium Eyes
A4. Big Dream (With Sky)
A5. Instrumental #33
A6. Hell Villanelle
A8. Life Per Se
B1. Steve McQueen
B2. First Bright Horses
B3. First Girl in Amber
B5. Heart that Kills You
B6. First Waiting for You
B7. Sudden Song
NZ underground legend Roy Montgomery's third album this year is his darkest yet. 'Rhymes of Chance' is moody dream pop in the mode of Scott Walker or Talk Talk's Mark Hollis = gorgeous, singular music.
'Rhymes of Chance' is a minimalist pop monster, featuring some of Montgomery's most viscerally tear-jerking material. The first side is taken up with the six-part epic 'Rhymes of Chance'; the first two parts feature Montgomery on vocals, wailing over his patented shimmering guitar clouds. It's affecting, melancholy music that only takes on more character when regular collaborator Emma Johnston is brought into the fold on the fifth part.
Johnston's finest moment is on the flipside's 'Losers March' though, a loosely swung, organ-led dirge that sounds like folk music for the ferry ride down the river Styx. It's almost like Beach House on -8%. On closing track 'Aspiratory', a dedication to Mark Hollis, her voice is pulled to pieces by Autotune and frozen in time over bellowing, skyward drones. This is bizarre but unshakeable music from an underground original - if you enjoyed the last two installments "Island of Lost Souls" and "That Best Forgotten Work", you're gonna need this. Montgomery is still an underrated, overlooked treasure, we feel constantly blessed that he's gifting us with such a bounty of new material.
Liz Harris's 12th album is a heart-melting anthology of songs written over the last 15 years. A mixture of 'Dragging A Dead Deer...' emotional rawness and 'AIA' -style tape-dubbed sonic fog, it's a timely reminder of why she's one of the crucial underground voices of the era.
When Harris's early Grouper material began to emerge thru the cracks in the wall of wyrd folk CDRs and hand-made cassette tapes, we could already sense it was something different. There was a bare quality to it that set it out of time: this was music that sounded as harmonious with Slowdive's melancholy shimmer as it did with the Olympia and Washington DIY set. 'Shade' is a career-spanning set that accurately charts her evolution thru the years, running a course that broaches ambient music, Laurel Canyon folk, grunge, dream pop, and everything in-between.
Her music is unified by its unique spirit and personified by Harris's voice - a ubiquitous element that's sometimes an elasticated, ghostly whisper and at others a spiraling coo. On opening track 'Followed the ocean', it's an assured driving force, but her powerful tones are reduced to glowing cinder beneath the burn of overdriven, tape-distorted noise. Words are present, but indecipherable - it's like hearing a song taped from radio and endlessly re-duplicated for heightened ghosting. The fog dissipates on 'Unclean mind', harking back to 'Heavy Water' with a grunge-y strum and angelic moans.
'Shade' is a good title, because the interplay between openness and insularity lies at the heart of the album. From track to track is sounds as if Harris is revealing herself and then retreating under a blanket of tape hiss. 'The way her hair falls' is so clean you could hear a pin drop, making out every nuance in Harris's voice. The biggest surprise is the album's closing track 'Kelso (Blue sky)', where her vocals are finally given a grand treatment, drenched in reverb but completely tangible. The result is a glimmering slice of lingering acid folk that sounds divorced from time and space.
‘-io’ is the sixth album by vocalist and composer Haley Fohr, best known as Circuit des Yeux.
"A celebrated figure in Chicago’s music community, she has released acclaimed albums via De Stijl, Thrill Jockey, and Drag City and toured throughout the world. However, '-io' is Circuit des Yeux’s most ornate and elaborate work to date – a set of compositions that nest Fohr’s otherworldly four-octave voice amid a 24-piece string, brass, and wind ensemble. The album was put to tape last fall by Cooper Crain at Chicago’s Electrical Audio studio and mixed by Marta Salogni (Bjork, Holly Herndon) with Fohr acting as arranger and producer. Written in the wake of personal loss and recorded in the midst of the pandemic, '-io' maps a geography of grief – a place where “everything is ending all the time.” While Fohr’s music has never been short on ambition, these songs are striking in their brilliance and strangeness. On '-io', Circuit des Yeux has delivered a work that is vivid, immense, and fully illuminated."
Indonesian mentallists Raja Kirik arrive in hot pursuit of Gabber Modus Operandi’s iconoclastic mash of roots and futurism on a pure madness for Nyege Nyege Tapes.
Yet another jaw-dropper dispatched via NNT’s Kampala nexus; ‘Rampokan’ fires off a full frontal invocation of possessive, trance-inducing spirits inspired by the Javanese heritage of Yennu Ariendra & J. Mo’ong Santoso Pribadi, aka Raja Kirik. Rooted in Java’s struggles with colonial oppression, their music takes bedevilling form as a wide-eyed sort of shamanic trance music galvanised by Dutch hardstyle kicks and noisily free electronica, careening from cut to cut with an exhilarating energy focussed into high BPM body rattlers that no doubt shake the senses and fiercely illustrate their impetus in a directly physical but allegorical way that only music can convey quite like this.
Under a titular reference to “a colonial era arena battle between spearmen, criminals and wild animals… ceremonial fights [that] illustrate the strength of the Javanese Royal Kingdoms in the face of the Dutch East Indies government” the empire strikes back in the most brutally artful style across ‘Rampokan’. Synching mind/body in a vital barrage of 11 tracks, they draw implicit parallels with oppression of African slaves in Brazil who conceived Capoeira as a stealth mode of dancing-meets-martial arts, specifically drawing on the Jaranan, or Jathilan, a Hindu-Buddhist era dance from the c.11th that likewise symbolised ways that the proto-proletariat of Java could overcome their rulers by means of agility and evasion.
This is dance music with a meaning that makes much other Western dance music pale in comparison. Between its totemic durational works such as the blistering ‘Bujang Ganong’ and the roiling bruiser ‘Tana Prahara’ - which both tilt around and over the 12 minute mark - to its ghoulish clashes of phantasmic doom and sour trance riffs in ‘Rampokan I’, they charge up a powerful sound with potential to send ravers reeling, variously dispatching panic-stations free jazz horns on ‘Kubro’ and metaphorically machine-gunning the ruling classes before trampling on their cadavers and gleefully ringing gamelan in ‘DOR.’
A collection of tracks from early out of print Jacques Greene 12”s spanning the first 10 years of his career.
"Featuring the classics that introduced him to the world - The Look and Another Girl - as well as collaborations with Koreless and How To Dress Well and two new exclusive “lost tracks from the era”.
Greene has been making music “about the club” for over a decade. His sound has developed into an emotional haze exemplified on his Feel Infinite and Dawn Chorus Albums. Outside of his own releases, Greene has explored his relationship with the club in a variety of contexts, from remixing Radiohead to producing for Katy B and Tinashe and touring with The xx."
Charming Aussie jangle pop from The Dirty Three's Mick Turner and vocalist Helen Franzmann, aka McKisco. Freewheeling and positive, it's an album that does a lot with few ingredients.
Mick Turner's last solo album was 2013's "Don't Tell the Driver", and since then he'd found himself lacking a vocalist. In 2019 he was introduced to Helen Franzmann and while the two didn't live close (Franzmann was in Brisbane and Turner in Melbourne) they ferried ideas back and forth while planning to record a session for a record. But then COVID-19 happened, and instead of scrapping the plan they collaborated remotely; Turner wrote songs using drums, guitars and synths and Franzmann sung and spoke over them, shifting their focus dramatically. As the songs went back and forth between the two, they developed into something new and completely collaborative.
Listening now, it's hard to tell that "Mess Esque" was produced by musicians working miles from each other. In fact, they've still never met face-to-face, which given the intimacy of the tracks is pretty remarkable.There's a softness to the way the two assembled this record that was maybe aided by the process; there's no showing off, just an attempt to capture real feeling as the world crumbled underfoot.
Perky but gauzy ‘80s new wave nostalgia by Chris Stewart’s Black Marble. Glistening with vantage-styled hooks and pulsing synths.
“On Fast Idol, LA-based Black Marble reaches back through time to connect with the forgotten bedroom kids of the analogue era, the halcyon days of icy hooks and warbly synths always on the edge of going out of tune. Harmonies are piped in across the expanse of space, and lyrics capture conversations that seem to come from another room, repeat an accusation overheard, or speak as if in sleep of interpersonal struggles distilled down to one subconscious phrase. At the same time, percussive elements feel forward and cut through the mix with toms counting off the measures like a lost tribe broadcasting through the bass and tops of a basement club soundsystem.
Fast Idol is Stewart's fourth full-length album and his second for Sacred Bones. His previous album Bigger than Life was written in the face of cultural shifts in the US, in experiencing these he realised he was not keyed into certain negative sentiments that were bubbling below the surface, which were breaking out into the open. “I chose to try and take the approach of a soothsayer writing from a macro level, trying to find strands of connection between us because it didn’t feel appropriate to create something self referential and gloomy at the time,” he says.
Now, Fast Idol sees him return to a sentiment and process that defined the earlier days of Black Marble, in a return to his intuitive song writing process where songs land as impressionistic snippets of daily conflicts, and people struggle with the challenge of trying to move through the world. “People don’t expect me to be responsible for altering their outlook or mood, they come to hear something that meets them where they are. I trusted on this record that if I stayed in that space and created things from that more mysterious place, it would connect with others.”
Starry-eyed nocturnes and rhythmelodic pointillism from NYC’s Tristan Arp, sustaining the run of absorbing albums from Facta and K-Lone’s Wisdom Teeth label
Tristan Arp navigates an ambient safe space beyond the club where aspects of classicism leach into folk and electronic paradigms, with deft touches of feathered dance music drawing comparisons to Call Super or indeed Wisdom Teeth’s in-house sounds, from Steevio’s modular lathers to K-Lone’s ambient dembow deep house bop.
We’ve literally had gypsum in our lugs from ripping down walls recently, and can assure that Tristan Arp’s lissom Afro-Latin trills and bubbling melodies in ‘Gypsum’ are much more pleasant on the ears, forming a hypnotic bop-worthy highlight along with the the sloshing chimes of ‘From The Seams’, whereas the rest of the album is contoured for home listening, from the elegant sway of his baubly harmonics and swaying cello on ‘Pond In Moonlight’ to the levitating ambient harmonics of ‘A Clearing (In Empty Space)’ to the noctilucent aurora borealis lights of ‘Cloud Surface’ that beautifully bring it to a close.
Mutable bassbin explorer Om Unit works around the 150bpm mark in a deft echo of Rian Treanor or Beatrice Dillon’s efforts in the same bracket on this self released volley
Bending aspects of broken beat, garage, electro and dub techno to will, ‘Flux’ serves a fleet-footed session of UK rave pressure between the nimble 2.1-step of ‘Angles’ and the darker garage variant ‘Ramp’, with ‘Rubberneck’ flexing ghettotech electro frameworks, and ’Subway Track’ hingeing around and off the beat in more mercurial syncopations, while ‘Autumn Shadows’ sweeps dub chords into a sped up echo of Vainqueur’s Chain Reaction classics or the styles on Peak Oil.
"M_Sessions" is offering some rare originals by Mania D., Malaria and Matador for the 40th anniversary, as well as contemporary versions performed by Monika Werkstatt.
"Monika Werkstatt seemed the perfect choice for new interpretations. Founded in 2015, comprising female electronic musicians and producers from the entourage of Monika Enterprise and Moabit Musik. The loose collective played dozens of improvised concerts around Europe and released a studio album and live recordings in everchanging artist constellations.
The M_Sessions involved Pilocka Krach, Beate Bartel, Midori Hirano, Mommo G, Lucrecia Dalt, Antye Greie-Ripatti, Natalie Beridze, Annika Henderson and myself. Here the form of interpretation is focussing on keeping the freedom of their improvised work and adapting it to the collective appropriation of songs. I cannot imagine a better reinterpretation of the material with its real life ups and downs and with its enthusiasm.
The original core team of Beate Bartel, Bettina Köster, Manon P. Duursma and myself selected "Rare Originals" from the repertoire of the 3 bands where we saw special relevance and beauty - these tracks are on LP2. We rediscovered live tracks, living room recordings and demo versions from our times long gone. (G.Gut)"
Andrew Pekler and Guiseppe Ielasi freeze time on their second full-length, chipping away at old improvisations and sculpting a marble garden of haunted meditations on memory, space and biography. Subtle and reflective, 'Palimpsests' features music for pensive moments that will appeal to fans of Felicia Atkinson, Jan Jelinek and Oren Ambarchi.
Both veterans with sprawling and diverse catalogues, Pekler and Ielasi find common ground once again on a sequel to 2013's concrète exotica gem 'Holiday For Sampler'. This time they revisit irl improvised collaborations made in Milan in 2015, cutting into the raw material while working apart and shuttling their fresh compositions back and forth. The title hints at this process; a palimpsest is commonly a re-used material - for example a piece of paper - where traces of its original use remains. Here, the original improvisations are just about visible, peeking out underneath both artists' unique individual studio processes.
The duo use their evolved mutations to stitch together a loose narrative that concerns memory and metaphor. Each track is named after a city the artists have a personal connection to, giving the tracks a haunted sense of resonance and rooting in reality. The sounds too are a mixture of the real and the synthesized; indistinct voices and foley clanks are layered beneath stuttering pads or percussive bumps, and faint poems materialize in the cracks between sounds. There's a stylistic link to Pekler's incredible "Tristes Tropiques" and "Sounds From Phantom Islands", but his haunted exotica is disrupted by Ielasi's confident concrète cut-n-paste techniques, witnessed on albums like 2009's excellent "Aix".
Their sound is a vaseline-covered middle ground, not as jerky and sharp as Ielasi or as stonewashed and marooned as Pekler. Instead, "Palimpsests" feels poetic and reflective - it's a meeting of minds that exists outside the realm of competition. The friends have found a fertile sonic space to exist within, and we're left with a suite experimental electro-acoustic music that heaves with creative passion, artistic confidence and wide-eyed passion.
'Array' is a set of detailed and dense collages of radar and scientific instrumentation recordings made at a polar research station in Antarctica and spiced up with live synth improvisation. Basically sounds like an alternative soundtrack to John Carpenter's "The Thing" - so good!
The album is a companion piece to Philip Samartzis and Eugene Ughetti's performance-installation work "Polar Force" and builds on the duo's ideas that intend to reflect the stress of extreme weather events like freezing temperatures and high velocity winds. The field recordings are the first thing to notice, and set the scene perfectly with polar gusts hitting creaky metal and anonymous radio transmissions illustrating a story we can't quite comprehend.
'Katabatic Wind Pt. 1' begins with a wobbly resonant drone, but is slowly engulfed in creaks, whooshes and cracks as the weather takes hold completely. In the second part, these sounds are magnified to create a cinematic widescreen, emphasizing the desolation and unfriendliness of the location with detailed field recordings and ramping up anxiety with buried rhythmic blasts.
On the final composition 'Medium Frequency Spaced Array Radars' the environmental recordings are all but gone, and careful synthwork is put in focus to represent the icy, alien landscape. Water droplets can just about be made out in the background, suggesting a presence it's impossible to escape from. Suffocating and powerful sounds!
Elemental Antarctic field recordings layered and processed to model and evoke the regions’s weather dynamics with hyperreal attention to detail
“From Eugene Ughetti: As Philip was preparing to leave for his second Australian Antarctic Division residency, he invited me to lunch to discuss the possibility of collaborating on a new work. He recounted his first experience on the ice, where the surrounding landscapes seemed to articulate avant-garde percussion works of an epic scale. On this visit, he wanted his field work to explicitly shape the formation of a new performance work with a particular focus on katabatic winds in and around Casey Base station.
Intrigued, I accepted the challenge provided I could create a live performance utilising the same recorded materials of ice, air and water. We undertook an ambitious collaboration with sound, instrument, lighting and industrial designers, a dramaturg and percussionist.
For Polar Force we built an environment, a white inflatable structure reminiscent of a remote research station on the ice. Emanating from outside the space come the complex and foreboding sounds of the natural environment, inside, a live event akin to scientific research in sound occurs. This hour-long performance installation work gives rise to a hyper-realistic sensing of Antarctica, bursting with natural beauty, power and the audible evidence of human impact.”
Laser-etched chords, Timba-esque tabla drums and nocturnal blooz from the autonomic D&B dream team
One of the first link-ups from dBridge & Instra:mental in nearly a decade sees the UK veterans in supremely classy form on ‘What We Got’, tickling tabla drums recalling late ‘90s Timbaland productions into a mercurial roller dabbed with dBridge’s signature, autotune falsetto and glimmering chords that can’t help remind of SND’s ‘4,5,6’ bewts. ‘Serena’s Theme’ is starker, electroid, working dry 808 dreams into a brittle funk softened by arcing pads for the late night swingers.
Call Super pipes up on his and Parris’ label with two bumpty, sidewinding house rollers in his patented, warm and woozy style
Stemming from a previous project entitled ‘Tell Me I Didn’t Choose This’, the tracks came about as a reflection on “a period in their life of upheaval, trauma and self-discovery”, and find relief in a blend of influences from jazzy Chicago and UK house, Detroit techno, and rooted West African rhythms.
‘Tree Song’ evolves over 10 minutes of wooden drums and bumbling square bass synched into a infectious lather of overlapping patterns hypnotically smeared with dub FX and floating pads. ‘bodiesinheaven II’ follows with a nimbly weft mix of West African and Detroit inspirations, knitting intricate drums to kaotic harmonies in a trusted manner bound to get eyes dreamily rolling in backa heads.
On "Last Wisps of the Old Ways" folklorist Derek Piotr pulls together mountain songs from North Carolina recorded across nearly a century.
"Child ballads, local murder songs, banjo and dulcimer pieces sit alongide tape transfers & close harmony singing. The star of the compilation, Mrs. Lena Bare Turbyfill, could have been another Texas Gladden in her own right, but dozens of recordings of herself and her family made in 1939 remained on a shelf in The Library of Congress, until they were unearthed and curated by Derek Piotr. Mrs. Turbyfill's daughter Nicky also makes a notable appearance here.
Track 1 recorded by Derek Piotr in Elk Park, North Carolina, July 13, 2020.
Tracks 2, 3, 7, 8, 11 and 16 recorded by Herbert Halpert in Elk Park, North Carolina, April 12, 1939.
Tracks 4 and 12 recorded by Herbert Halpert near Morganton, North Carolina, April 19, 1939.
Track 5 recorded by Frank Clyde Brown in Sugar Grove, North Carolina, July 24, 1939.
Tracks 6, 9 and 13 recorded by Derek Piotr in Banner Elk, North Carolina, July 14, 2020.
Track 10 recorded by Derek Piotr in Elk Park, North Carolina, February 8, 2021.
Tracks 14 and 15 recorded by Marshall Ward in Banner Elk, ca. 1979, transferred from analogue tape by Derek Piotr."
Intensely quiet, artful improv duelling by Korean and Argentinian players, allowing for lots of pent lacunæ and often hovering on the liminal. RIYL Okkyung Lee, Keiji Haino, Senyawa
“The debut album by international power duo DASOMxVIOLETA, a virtuosic meeting of minds between Seoul's Dasom Baek (traditional Korean flutes) and Violeta García (cello) of Buenos Aires. <Absence> is the sound of two leading composers and improvisers pushing their instruments to the technical and creative limit, then beyond into places unnavigated, futuristic and often haunting.
Dasom and Violeta tussle with playful and brutal mastery between passages of sparse melody, acrobatic percussion and harmonic drift, while interjecting voices fracture and reassemble into intimate, improbable forms. It is hard to imagine an album more abundant in ideas and motifs, all atomised as soon as they are brought to life. The effect is a tapestry of rugged spirits - moving, and at times just plain beautiful.
Recommended for fans of Okkyung Lee, John Butcher, Messiaen, and Ernst Reijseger.”
Clinic's ninth studio album, "Fantasy Island".
"Referencing H.G. Wells’ Things to Come, Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage and Sombrero Fallout by Richard Brautigan, the themes Clinic explore on Fantasy Island are time, music and entertainment. In a (coco) nutshell, Clinic have gone funky disco, broadening their sonic palette with the addition of several new gadgets including an electronic acid bass machine, a 1970s cocktail rhythm unit, a Casio digital horn and space drum."