The second in the :Zoviet-France: reissue series compiles their 1983 pair of 12”s, ’$oviet France’ and ‘Norsch’, both remastered for this edition by Sam Grant at Blank Studios, Newcastle upon Tyne
Less murky and more stripped-down, rhythm driven than their debut, ‘Garista’ (1982), the tracks on both ‘Same (fka ‘Untitled’)’ (1982) and ‘Norsch’ (1983) are more easily identifiable as products of the post-punk/post-industrial era, yet they still sound as though from a parallel musical universe or overlapping timeline. We’d attribute this perceived difference to the rest of UK tape culture and post-industrial musicks at the time to the group’s relative isolation in Newcastle upon Tyne, on the ind-lashed North East coast of England, where a self-sufficient scene of radge-packets were free to do DIY music their way, away from the scenes and hotspots of other major northern cities such as Manchester or Glasgow, who also shared a gutted industrial wastelands next to verdant wilds, but also had much more money and means. Rather, :Zoviet-France: were masters of making do with tape loops, basic and repurposed equipment, and primitivist dub effects; naturally daring to be different and trusting their noses.
The disc’s first side is given to the guttural vent of their self-titled 1982 EP. Gearing up with the feral hollers, ‘phet-clenched grind and whooping sirens of ‘Ritual’, it turns thru the dead trippy strip of sampled vocals, stray keys and earthy thump of ‘Mudbast Boys’ to the channel an imagined form of tribal music from another planet in ‘Sem Boys’, which also sounds like kicking out time at a Hartlepudlian pub, while ‘Bring Hessa’ is a strange, whispered mantra about bread and cheese, before they slope off into angular post-punk-funk on ‘Ji Boys’.
Spellbinding, Satie-esque solo piano sprinklings from American composer of contemporary classical music, Michael Vincent Waller, performed by celebrated percussionist William Winant (Vibraphone) and R. Andrew Lee (Piano). Waller has previously appeared on Kyle Bobby Dunn’s recent opus, and released LPs with Recital and XI Records.
"In essence, the sound of the piano comes in two parts: its attack and its decay. The striking of a hammer is followed by the resonance of a string or strings. (Much the same might be said about the vibraphone, as it happens.) This dual quality of sound comes to mind when listening to Moments by New York-based composer Michael Vincent Waller.
Performed by pianist R. Andrew Lee and vibraphonist William Winant, Moments - his third album, following Trajectories (Recital, 2017) and The South Shore (XI, 2015) - draws on Western classical music tradition in its most archetypal forms through its use of modal melodies, triadic harmonies and metered rhythms. Yet the emotional heart of the music is not in attack, but resonance. The afterlife of sounds.
Those elements that can’t be grasped and placed into easy historical categories. Behind his surface attacks Waller finds hazy, edgeless zones that draw us downwards, into introspection - an "inward gaze." Waller’s music is often compared to that of Erik Satie, and there is certainly something Satie-like in its concision, its subtle asymmetries and its lack of ornament. But where Satie’s Gnossiennes, Nocturnes and Gymnopédies were blank canvases, deliberately signifying nothing, Waller’s pieces are vessels to be filled. That is partly an effect of titles: Waller’s pieces on this disc are all ‘moments’ of autobiographical poignancy - memorials, birthdays, homecomings; friends, teachers, family members. We are clearly invited to invest certain emotional expectations into these sounds."
Debut LP from the Clandestine Quartet, bringing together Alan and Richard Bishop with Michael Flower and Chris Corsano.
"Invited to perform in London as part of the St John Sessions series, Alan Bishop rounded up this quartet of underground stalwarts with a deep history of collaborative ventures – the Bishop brothers making up two-thirds of the legendary Sun City Girls, Richard Bishop and Corsano comprising two parts of psychedelic juggernaut Rangda, and the Flower-Corsano Duo having wowed audiences for over a decade with their face-melting brand of eastern-tinged free shred.
The quartet spent four days in the studio developing material for the London show and recording the seven pieces heard here (five across the two sides of the LP, accompanied by two digital bonus tracks). They settled, for the most part, on something approaching a classic rock quartet line-up: Richard Bishop on electric guitar, Michael Flower on his signature amplified ‘Japanese banjo’ (an Indian keyed zither), Alan Bishop on bass and Chris Corsano manning the drums. Rather than a straight-up improvised blowing session, the LP strikes a balance between free-flowing spontaneous interaction and structured surprise, alternating between zoned-out group meditations and stop-on-a-dime unison dynamics.
On the epic side-long opener ‘Don’t Hang From My Ceiling’, a lyrical weave of guitar, bass and Japanese banjo lines approaches the unhurried melodic invention of Indian classical music until Corsano’s tumbling, free-form drums incite the quartet into an ecstatic crescendo, over which Richard Bishop’s guitar unfurls a euphoric solo that calls to mind the mystical grandeur of prime Popol Vuh.
The B side finds the quartet branching out both in terms of instrumentation and compositional strategies, crafting a suite of pieces that, like classic Sun City Girls, move unexpectedly from tightly locked bass and drum grooves to explosions of free jazz alto saxophone (courtesy of Alan Bishop) and from shimmering guitar jams to massed choirs of horns. ‘(So Long) Harry Dean’, one of the record’s highlights, finds Richard Bishop on piano, leading the quartet through a languorous series of chords punctuated by Corsano’s gracefully ungainly percussive accents, before a sudden blast of reed horn announces a passage of rapid-fire dissonance that seamlessly transitions back into the pianistic meandering of the track’s first-half.
Effortlessly balanced between improvisation and composition, melody and noise, rhythm and space, the Clandestine Quartet is a fitting next step for this group of psychedelic troubadours, showing them drawing on their past accomplishments but never content to stand still.”
Grandiose electro-acoustic composition from Munich’s Sophie Schnell aka Pyur, refining the styles heard on her 2016 Hotflush debut into a mix of distended, crunchy IDM-techno swarmed with symphonic chorales and strings. RIYL Zoe McPherson or Roly Porter
“Munich’s PYUR (Sophie Schnell) makes her Subtext debut with “Oratorio for the Underworld”, a nimble odyssey through vivid, otherworldly dreams. Growing up immersed in her family’s work as shamans, Schnell draws on the techniques and stories of her upbringing, through which ephemeral forms, stories and colours seep into her sound—a synthesis of hyperreal sound design, dramaturgy and classical composition.
PYUR’s fascination with the space between life and death is expressed through the weaving together of the organic and sublime in a dramatic exercise in expansive sonic worldbuilding. The LP is a form of storytelling in which Schnell reimagines and takes on the roll of psychopomp, ushering the listener into a borderless realm. She relays rich legends while warm, airy timbres (courtesy of cellist Teresa Alvarez and violinist Juan Zalba Fuentes) serve as guides throughout.
Working largely in isolation over a period of two years, Oratorio for the Underworld is a document of “inward archaeology,” and marks an intimate yet grandiose journey through the psyche, exploring the ecstatic emotional boundaries between life and death, and body and spirit. Over the two year period, Schnell constantly found herself inventing new and unconventional compositional techniques with which to keep her writing dynamic—a process key in countering her own obsession with the mythos of Oratorio.”
Promising 1st EP from Aussie, Destiny71z, proving a dab hand at sculpting freaky garage, house and techno from a stacked modular set-up for Floating Points/Alex Nut’s Eglo
With a gauntleted, hands-on approach your guy wrestles four cuts that bristle with raw electricity primed for the ‘floor. ‘Softbeta’ sets it off with sparky 2-step that dissolves into fractal electronic madness, whereas ‘Destiny71z’ short circuits garage rave and fidget house like a frazzled Solid Groove zinger. The liquified jazz-funk chords and Herbert-like tics of ‘Foodprogrammevoltage’ prove more clearly why he’s signed to Eglo, while ’Sinescannerz’ flaps about with fluttering IDM/techno like a hyper Border Community workout.
We're onto volume 3 of Shackleton's Deliverance series and his rhythmelodic magick is in full flow.
Shack's new modular palette appears to remain unchanged from the last few releases, but it feels like he's more in control and able to follow the line of his 3rd eye. 'Headcleaner' unfurls nearly 12 minutes of chiming drum patter synched with globular subs in mutating patterns, seeming to move one way whilst the slow-arcing pads rove at another tempo entirely, making the whole piece move like some backa spoon inversion of Cut Hands that takes a Balearic trip half way thru.
With 'In Norwegen ganz verwegen' he locks into a fluidly psychedelic pulse pursuing quicksilver likembe thru a zig-zagging maze of sloshing water sounds, distant siren calls and sparring toms like the hieroglyphic soundtrack to some ancient Greek myth.
Avant-garde composer and student of La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Jung Hee Choi, Ellen Arkbro renders sustained and harmonically opaque chords on her stunning second solo album for Subtext. More minimal and extended than her 2017 debut ‘For Organ and Brass’, 'Chords’ is a focussed study in a gradual manipulation of acoustic timbres, using subtle synthesis of organ and guitar through two extended pieces bound to generate uncanny sensations to anyone familiar with the conventional tone of her chosen instruments.
Although underpinned by mathematical rigour, Arkbro draws direct connections to sacred music through a strict method of reduction, stripping away elements in a process she likens to a sculptor chipping away at stone. What’s left is primed for a kind of mind-altering osmosis, where the listener gradually fills in the gaps, or as she tells the most recent issue of The Wire “…what you pay attention to will change what you hear”.
Influenced by her teachers and the spirit of New York’s 1960’s Downtown scene, Arkbro is meticulous in her process and use of unusual tunings to reveal strange, sustained sounds that seem to continuously change shape. This pursuit of a kind of sonic “emptiness” belies the often unearthly spatial dimensions she manages to conjur, making highly perception-based sounds that have an almost supernatural quality.
The results sit somewhere between sacred and industrial music, a listening experience with highly meditative, spiritual, sometimes disturbing qualities - quite a remarkable achievement.
Japan-o-philes Visible Cloaks work their magic on a pair of ‘80s ambient-pop gems recently remade by Studio Mule’s Kuniyuki Takahashi
The A-side sees Spencer Doran and Ryan Carlile bathe Miyako Koda’s (Dip In The Pool) vocal version of Yumi Murata’s ‘Face To Face’ from ‘Desire’ (1985) in diaphanous, layered, chamber-like harmonics to a gorgeous, sylvan effect shared with the B-side’s ‘Yugao Overtone Mix’ of the 1983 original by Mioko Yamaguchi, taken from her ‘Moon-Light Princess’ album.
Ravishing, hyperkinetic AI brilliance from Emptyset, really baring their teeth after the electro-acoustic probes of 2017’s ‘Borders’
Edging ever closer to a post-human conception of sound composition, artist/scientist/researcher types Paul Purgas and James Ginzburg advance from the detectably acoustic tonalities of ‘Borders’ into an unapologetically and strangely poignant futurist sound sphere with their 6th album, ‘Blossoms’. At the core of the duo’s newfound energies lies the emergent consciousness of a machine learning system which they fed with more than 10 hours of racket made on wood, metal and drum skins. The highly dynamic results are effectively the software’s efforts to make sense of their input, and arguably amount to the project’s most thrilling album, bar none.
Developed thru a process of “seeding a software model with a sonic knowledge base of material to learn and predict from”, the duo’s primitivist, haptic, fleshly actions become entangled in a virtual world that ultimately manifests a non-human musicality. Convulsing in 10 succinct parts, the AI’s personality emerges as a synthesis of its parents’ characteristic tastes, resembling a bastard golem or cranky virtual spirit that really errs to the darkside of feelings associated with AI, as opposed to the church/folk-reared and “friendly” aspects of AI explored by, say Holly Herndon’s Spawn, or the more ambiguous styles conjured by TCF’s AI familiar, TCF X (run go check his YT channel!).
Of course, there’s a certain level of discrete manipulation by Purgas and Ginzburg at play in the arrangements (they are still credited with writing and production), but we’re fucked if we can point out where the human and AI inputs begin and end. From the shearing metal tones of ‘Petal’ to the guttural eruptions of ‘Blossom’ and the curiously human-like cadence of ‘Pollen’, thru the bittersweet harmonic shifts of ‘Blade’ and bone-twisting torque of ‘Stem’, we get the feeling that Emptyset have achieved an real ideal of relinquishing control of their music and becoming the ghost in their own machine, and it’s a visceral, vivid pleasure to experience them doing so.
Charli XCX unleashes her magnum opus, following a pair of cultishly celebrated mixtapes with an album proper, brimming with her signature chrome talon hooks and wrapped up in production by A.G. Cook, plus guest turns by Christien & The Queens, Sky Ferreira, Tommy Cash, Haim, Yaeji, Troye Sivan, Brooke Candy, CupcakKe and many more
Confidently stickered with the declaration “The best album you will ever buy!”, we’ll allow the hubris cos ‘Charli’ is a hugely enjoyable record. From the glittering, full bodied and often experimental production to the poignant pucker of Charli’s lyrics and its abundance of hooks, it’s every bit an album for the times - equally appealing to those who’ve witnessed Charli being touted as The Next Big Thing™ since the start of this decade, to the masses of youthlings who know the words to all her songs (both as Charli XCX and her megahit for Icona Pop).
First released in 1984, Osondi Owendi is a cucumber-cool highlife album that was instantly received as Osadebe’s magnum opus, the crowning event of an exalted career stretching back to the early years of highlife’s emergence as Nigeria’s predominant popular music.
"Stephen Osadebe first appeared on the music scene in 1958 as a spry, twenty-two year-old vocalist in the Empire Rhythm Skies Orchestra, directed by bandleader Steven Amechi. With his dapper suits, urbane Nat King Cole-influenced vocal stylings and jaunty, uptempo, calypso-scented dance tunes, he personified the frisky spirit and anxious aspirations of a young, educated generation that had come of age in the wake of the Second World War, in a Nigeria that was rapidly shaking off British colonization and marching towards an independent future. 1959 would be the year that he truly made his mark in the business with his debut solo single “Lagos Life Na So So Enjoyment.” A giddy exhortation of the music, sex, fun and freedom availed by life in the big city, the song became a sensation and an anthem, and Stephen Osadebe became the leader of his own popular dance band, the Nigerian Sound Makers.
Osadebe would ride this wave of acclaim through most of the nineteen sixties, but a change in direction would be called for at the dawn of the seventies. As Nigeria emerged from a devastating civil war, so did a new generation of youth inspired by rock and funk, confrontational sounds reflective of a more violent, less idealistic era. All of the sudden, the idioms of the post-WWII dance orchestras that nurtured Osadebe’s cohort seemed quaint, the stuff of nostalgia. Osadebe needed to evolve to respond to the new tumultuous, turned-up times. His response? He cooled it down."
Second instalment in a planned trilogy from ex-Deadly Snakes frontman André Ethier, created in collaboration with Sandro Perri (producer) at his Toronto studio in late 2018 / early 2019.
"Croak In The Weeds continues Ethier and Perri’s musical relationship which was originally established on 2017’s Under Grape Leaves. Croak expands upon that album, deconstructing synthetic elements to a point of raw organic beauty. Lyrically, André’s approach has shifted to the natural world, focusing heavily on flora and fauna. Almost every track on the 34-minute album references animals, with central characters ranging from pigs to dragons. This is André’s third attempt at a trilogy of records. Previous attempts have stalled for various reasons; disillusionment with genre, unrealistic sense of self, arachnophobia...
Though it would not be inaccurate to suggest that he now has completed a trilogy of unfinished trilogies (he would thank you for your optimistic reasoning,) and is still planning to finish this one. Regarding trilogies, André opines: “In the first you establish the tools and build yourself a room, in the sequel you live in the room and imagine what’s outside, finally in the third.... you escape?” He doesn’t know, he has never gone all the way."
In print once again in all its glory - little introduction needed here, Skam number 008 repressed several times and still a collectors item, 6 tracks wide, every one a classic...
This 35 minute EP from BoC is arguably their most complete outing, having landed a couple of years before ‘Music Has The Right…’ album and including some of their best material - the brooding Detroit inversion ‘See Ya Later’, the Colonel Abrams inspired ‘Nlogax’, the career-defining “Everything You Do Is A Balloon’ and ‘Turquoise Hexagon Sun’ which would later appear on ‘Music Has The Right’.
Unlike so many of their peers from the era, this stuff has aged well. Perhaps it’s the inherent nostalgia built into these productions, but for our money ‘Hi Scores’ is still the finest half hour of music ever produced by Sandison and Eoin, now bolstered by a remaster and repackage job which feels a bit like dusting off your favourite old jacket and taking it for a whirl.
First ever re-issue of this 1983 classic full of near-ambient arrangements that float in a space between The Durutti Column, Steve Cropper and Ashra from Steve Hiett, the "master of recontextualization."
"For the first time since its inception 36 years ago, Steve Hiett’s elusive Down On The Road By The Beach is finally made available outside of Japan. Most recognized in the fashion sphere as an English photographer and graphic designer, Hiett‘s transportive audio portraits amplify his serpentine guitar to the infinite blue, recorded across Paris, Tokyo and New York with no coastline in sight. Now widely celebrated as a desert island disc, very little is actually known of its unfathomable genesis.
A career devotee of Brian Wilson’s ground breaking harmonies, Hiett shot The Beach Boys for Rolling Stone - as well as The Doors, Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix (in one of his final performances at the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival) - while establishing himself as a fashion photographer. Decamping to Paris in 1972, he began what would become 20-year collaborations with Vogue Paris and Marie Claire, printing his signature warm, saturated and vibrantly hued snapshots.
In 1982, representatives from Tokyo’s Galerie Watari visited him to propose a solo exhibition. Asking if he could insert a 7” of original music into the back of the exhibition catalogue, Hiett laid down ‘Blue Beach - Welcome To Your Beach’ in a Parisian radio station, playing all of the instruments himself, and two more cuts in New York with Yoko Ono, The Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan hired-gun Elliot Randall. Once dispatched, the phone began ringing off the hook with requests for him to fly to Tokyo. Assuming these long-distance callers were wanting him to check proofs for the book, it wasn’t until he arrived that he discovered CBS/Sony had facilitated an entire album. Heitt hastily gripped some petty cash, bought a guitar and retreated to his hotel room to start writing.
Entering the studio the following day, he was further surprised by a waiting room of session players known as Moonriders - one of Japan’s most acclaimed rock bands of the 1980s. Intimidated by their indecipherable sheet music, Hiett suggested Randall join them and with money being no object for major labels at the time, his wingman was on the next plane out of New York to finalise the high production indulgence. "
Fuuck Buttons’ John Power goes for the jugular in his ravishingly direct and epic new Blanck Mass volley. Seriously, no punches are pulled here. Might as well take your top off before you start.
““In this post-industrial, post-enlightenment religion of ourselves, we have manifested a serpent of consumerism which now coils back upon us. It seduces us with our own bait as we betray the better instincts of our nature and the future of our own world. We throw ourselves out of our own garden. We poison ourselves to the edges of an endless sleep.
Animated Violence Mild was written throughout 2018, at Blanck Mass’ studio outside of Edinburgh. These eight tracks are the diary of a year of work steeped in honing craft, self-discovery, and grief - the latter of which reared its head at the final hurdle of producing this record and created a whole separate narrative: grief, both for what I have lost personally, but also in a global sense, for what we as a species have lost and handed over to our blood-sucking counterpart, consumerism, only to be ravaged by it.
I believe that many of us have willfully allowed our survival instinct to become engulfed by the snake we birthed. Animated — brought to life by humankind. Violent — insurmountable and wild beyond our control. Mild — delicious.
This is perhaps the most concise body of work I have written to date. Having worked extensively throughout my musical life with dramatics, narrative, and ‘melody against all odds’, these tracks are the most direct and honest yet. The level of articulation in these tracks surpasses anything I have utilized before.” -Benjamin John Power
Mosca unbuckles the dancehall thru a wicked modular prism on his shockout debut for Fluf
One of the UK’s unique dancefloor experimenters since his tempo shifting debut for Nightslugs in 2010, Mosca really pushes the envelope of his sound in mad ways with ‘Touchie Riddim’, seemingly spinning the dance in a haywire gyroscope to the nuttiest ends.
If The Sprawl and Tapes hotbed the studio, the result may sound a bit like the decimated Pt.1, while Pt. 2 sound like Russell Haswell going in with Joachim Nordwall as The iDEALIST, Pt. 3 resonates like a Chernobyl bashment, and Pt. 4 attempts to scrape out both your bassbins and your skull.
‘Selections from 100 Models of Hegikan Roku’ is the stunning, second major Catherine Christer Hennix work to appear on vinyl via NYC’s Blank Forms Editions and Empty Editions following ‘Selected Early Keyboard Works’ - one of 2018’s certified albums of the year. Let's just say that this one hits even harder. Read on.
Proceeding to fill crucial gaps in Hennix’s 60 year (and counting) ouevre, her 1976 recording with The Deontic Miracle (a trio with her brother Peter Hennix, and Hans Isgren, whom she described as “the most rejected band ever formed in Sweden”) presents utterly compelling tracts from a mind-blowing 90 minute exploration of the Just Intonation tunings that have fascinated Hennix since her late ‘60s studies with La Monte Young and Henry Flynt.
Just Intonation, on a technical level, operates in contrast to the equal temperament tunings most common to the familiar harmonics of western music. On another level, Just Intonation is deeply, deeply f*cking weird and subversive, working with its own laws of visceral dissonance and harmonic relationships that rarely fails to result in anything less than a life-affirming or even cathartic experience when applied by Hennix and her band. Honestly some of the most memorable and unshakeable moments of our listening lives can be attributed to this system, and almost everything else pales in significance after it’s been properly experienced. It’s no less revelatory than formative acid trips, and it boggles the mind that so much so-called “psychedelic” music doesn’t even come close to the effect of Hennix’s recordings.
Rigorously working within this mathematically sound and ancient system, with Catherine on Amplified Renaissance Oboe, Live Electronics and Sine Wave Generators, her brother Peter on Amplified Renaissance Oboe and Amplified Sarangi, and Hans Isgren on Amplified Sarangi, there’s an unparalleled aggression and intensity to the trio’s playing in ‘Selections from 100 Models of Hegikan Roku’ that was previously found on their ‘Central Palace Music’ CD of the same sessions for Important in 2016, and also more stripped down in Catherine’s incredible ‘Selected Early Keyboard Works’.
This is not psychedelic music for braiding daisies or growing your hair to. It’s psychedelic in an atavistic, frightening and metaphysical way, ripping down the curtains of melody and meter from the sound stage to reveal surrealistic, pineal panoramas of a sort rarely seen by humankind, and then holds your view like the Ludovico technique apparatus applied to Malcolm McDowell’s character in A Clockwork Orange. And similarly, the music can be heard as a conditioning against the strictures of classical music, prizing open its form and highlighting all the dark energy and negative ecstasy that haunts the harmonic spectrum, yet which sadly remains invisible to the naked ear in most western musics.
If ever there was a music that makes you want to f*ck, fight, drop mescaline, or most simply to feel sensations you’ve never come across before and really can’t properly explain, this is it. Not to push it out too much, but the resurfacing of Hennix’s recordings over the past decade feel prophetically profound in these times; where too much music retreads old ground, this shit feels like a message from aliens or previous civilisations bitchslapping our ears and crying out for us all to listen and perceive sound, and the world, differently.
The first new Byetone material in bloody ages (since 2011!) appears as a palpitating techno remix of Chevel on this smart 12” for Lyon, France’s Fracture label
Following from his ‘Always Yours’ (2018) LP for Different Circles, Chevel makes good on the front with glitching, strobing chords and glowing pads filleted into the pensile, pitching meter of ‘Floating’ in SND style, while ‘Unlimited Drinks’ revolves tantalisingly windswept, pizzicato string figures that diffract into crankier, syncopated noise.
The big attraction for us however is Byetone’s remix, where he isolates and reorganises the glitches of ‘Floating’ into a icy lattice of swung electro pulses and immersive, Köner-esque atmospheres sure to appeal to fans of his Raster classics.
Culled from live performances in Los Angeles in 1980, 'Towards A Total Poetry' holds radioplays and sound poems by Julien Blaine, Adriano Spatola, F. Tiziano, and Paul Vangelisti. Two concerts were organized by poet and professor Vangelisti and broadcast on his KPFK radio show. A rare gathering of extreme French and Italian sound poets in California, flown out on with an arts funding grant (my, how things have changed!). A jarred specimen on a golden platter of a time passed.
"The electricity of the performances is unparalleled. Sadistically funny, dizzy with confusion: a map lies dissected on the table. Adriano Spatola (1941-1988) is the most beautiful Italian post-war poet, also publisher of Baobab, Tam Tam, Geiger editions. His stage presence is that of a drunken wolverine, thrashing his words and letters, madly chuckling and whispering secrets to himself. Spatola interprets a disfigured rendition of “Buddenbrooks,” a traumatic and shocking radioplay, held alongside his infamous “Aviation / Aviateur” and “Al Capone Poem,” read with explosive tension. His younger brother, F. Tiziano, is a more mysterious figure. His radioplay, “Los Angeles Bridge,” has four characters: North, South, East, and West. Quibbling through a fever dream over a card game. Professional voice actors were hired for all of the radioplays, translated from Italian by Vangelisti (as with all of Spatola’s English publications). French artist and sound poet Julien Blaine (1942) composed the play “Passe / Futur” – utilizing his actors as verbal instruments: buzzing and howling as carefully as dots on sheet-music. His sound poems are hilarious, “Amputation” mimics the sound of four severing surgeries, and “Mots d’enfants” still confuses me as to what exactly is going on… Paul Vangelisti’s works open and close Towards A Total Poetry. The Los Angeles poet and publisher of Red Hill Press organized the affair and was able to hold his own against such powerful artists. Paul’s pieces are conceptual, opening with a fitting typewriter hymn, “Radio,” and concluding with “Auld Lang Syne,” the Ms of the phone book sung by chorus.These are some of the strangest radioplays in existence. A format I feel is underused. The infusion of drama and comedy and open air to fill... oh, the possibilities."
Magisterial, glacial, attention-demanding and powerful exposition of Buchla 200 synth tones mapped to acoustic woodwind and brass by a promising young composer; Stockholm’s Kali Malone. A strong tip to fans of work by Caterina Barbieri, Emptyset, Sarah Davachi.
Arriving in the resonating wake of her self-released solo début Velocity of Sleep , and flanked by the recently issued Organ Dirges 2016-2017 tape for Ascetic House, the Cast Of Mind LP gently but grandly expands the constellation of Kali Malone's solo releases, next to her Upper Glossa collaborations with Caterina Barbieri, a tape with Ellen Akrbro, and acclaimed live performances.
Joined by Yoann Durant (Alto Sax), Isak Hedtjärn (Bass Clarinet), Gabriella Varga Kalsson (Bassoon), and Mats Äleklint (Trombone), Kali’s Buchla 200 Synthesiser forms the basis for a quartet of diaphanous and slowly unfolding electro-acoustic landscapes that externalise a highly personalised form of emotive topography.
In the titular opener, wood and brass trace the swooning ellipses of Kali’s Buchla contours in stately procession suggesting a sort of resigned march to battle, before the Buchla appears to dominate in the warped streaks of Bondage To Formula, but listen closer and it’s harder to tell whether it’s electronic or organic sources so fully lending flesh to her rich sound field.
The answer to that question is much clearer in Arched To Hysteria, whose keening, hunched electronic forces hold powerful potential to conversely induce paranoia and heavily hypnagogic effects, whilst Empty The Belief yields a lustrous, Raga-like drone capturing a marriage of Buchla and bassoon at their most transcendent and steeply attractive.
This one should be filed for reference and safekeeping beside recent transmissions from Sarah Davachi, Anna Von Hausswolff, and Catarina Barbieri = properly good.
First ever official reissue disco holy grail - Vance and Suzzanne’s ‘I Can’t Get Along Without You’.
"Originally privately released in 1980 on Vanton Records, this is the first time that both the record and the label’s story has been told. The product of two members of Crown Heights Affair (Richard Vance Turner and Eleton Johns), the label was established as a way to protect both their musical freedom and copyright that they would have lost had they signed to a major label. With Vanton, they sought to create a sound that combined Eleton’s love for Philadelphia with Richard’s love for New York-based productions.
Vance & Suzzanne consisted of Richard and his childhood friend and fellow band member Suzzanne Slaughter, who was a background singer for many bands in New York including Sister Sledge. The result of a late night writing session between Richard and Eleton and recorded to tape the following day, the record was finished in just twenty-four hours. Yet it’s legacy lives on as one of the most sought-after disco singles in existence.
Two thousand copies of ‘I Can’t Get Along Without You’ were originally pressed to test the market, with the initial plan being to re-record it again at a later date with additional strings. However, the record received such great acclaim by DJs such as Larry Levan that the idea of a re-recording was put on ice.
Sadly, due to academic and familial commitments of both Richard and Eleton, only one other single was ever released on Vanton Records in 1985. However, we hope that this definitive reissue helps to celebrate one of the best disco records ever put to wax."
Iconic avant-rockers Haino, Ambarchi and O’Rourke churn up a magnificent 50th release on Black Truffle sporting recordings of the trio in ruinous and spellbinding action at Tokyo’s now-defunct SuperDeluxe in November 2015
The 9th release by Black Truffle’s core ensemble spits fire and psychedelic balm in a handful of durational pieces running up to 19 minutes long, ‘cuz, as we all know by now; they’re no 3 minute type of guys. Leading down the rabbit hole from ‘This Dazzling, Genuine “Difference” Now Where Shall It Go?’ , their incendiary group intuition blazes a tortuous route between flaying, free metallurgy, astrally inclined hymns and devil’s-ass-kissing swagger in a way that makes most others look like generic plods.
“…the record's opening piece drops us immediately into the maelstrom, abruptly cutting into an extended episode of Ambarchi's pummeling drums, O'Rourke's fuzzed-out six-string bass, and Haino's roaring guitar and electronics. Eventually settling into a hypnotic bass and drum groove over which Haino unleashes some almost Ray Russell-eque skittering atonal screech, these opening 13 minutes act as a potent reminder of the trio's power. Alongside showcasing the steady development of a unique language for the guitar-bass-drums power trio, the group's succession of releases over the last decade has demonstrated a constant experimentation with new instruments, which continues here with O'Rourke use of Hammond organ (played at the same time as his roaming, sometimes knotty basslines). On the album's second piece, the organ plays a key role, furnishing a harmonically rich shimmer over O'Rourke's angular six-string bass chords,
Haino's distant, chirping electronics and Ambarchi's crisp cymbal work; arriving somewhere halfway between Albert Marcoeur and Terje Rypdal, this piece is undoubtedly a highlight in the trio's catalog so far. The second and third sides are slow-burning, multi-part epics that range from spacious reflection to furious tumult. Where the trio's previous double-LP set -- This Dazzling, Genuine "Difference" Now Where Shall It Go? (BT 030LP, 2017) -- was primarily instrumental in focus, here you find Haino's voice taking the spotlight on the expansive third side, intoning, wailing. and exhorting in Japanese and English over a backdrop that moves from hushed bass and organ atmospherics to rolling toms and cymbal crashes before arriving at an ecstatic finale of searing guitar, tumbling drums and reverb-saturated bass. The fourth side returns to the hypnotic grooves of the opening piece, fixing on a relentless riff and riding it into oblivion under Haino's roaming psychedelic soloing and jagged chordal slashes.”
Lending new meaning to the idea of getting stoned and rocking out, the first audio document of Fluxus artist Geoffrey Hendricks’ music presents three meditative and playfully sensitive pieces performed by Philip Corner, Charlie Morrow and the artist himself with a bag of stones, prongs, Korean shaman cymbals and a shoe. If you loved that Anne Tardos CD on New Wilderness Audiographics (reissued by Recital) as much as us, don’t miss!
“The first audio document ever published by Fluxus artist Geoffrey Hendricks (1931-2018). There is a romanticism found in Geoffrey, that, in my mind, sets his work aside from his Fluxfriends. Known for his timeless sky paintings, applied to canvas, cars, clothes, and so on, the conceptual married the majestic. He was a master painter, whose work could have filled cathedral ceilings. Instead, he chartered his bow alongside George Maciunas, John Cage, Dick Higgins, etc. in the 1950s. Hendricks became a prominent member of Fluxus, shown in exhibitions around the world for over 60 years.
In the 1970s, composer Charlie Morrow approached Hendricks about recording an album for the New Wilderness Audiographics cassette series. This became a 40 year dance of orbiting schedules and slipping dates. Their skies aligned in 2014, and a recording session at Ear Up Studios in New York manifested. Geoffrey’s connection to nature not only focused upwards at the sky, but also downwards to stones. “Rock Music” consists of a box of rocks being cast across a room. Pounded on wood, soft and hard, the sonar-like snapping echo mapping the dimensions of the room. Small bells hover over the rubbing of stones humming to each other. You can tell that this was a therapeutic ritual he practiced for years, not merely an improvised recording concept. With the LP is a booklet that includes diaries of his stone collecting on Cape Breton island in 1973, beautifully infused with dream recollection.
The cassette of “Music for Sky Slate Wall” was discovered by chance earlier this year in the vast archive Hendricks left behind. It holds Geoff’s close friend Philip Corner performing at an Emily Harvey Foundation exhibition in 1999. Corner responds to the Hendricks installation, interpreting the wall adorned with watercolors of day and night skies, grey slate, and a ladder hanging more paintings and golden ornaments. Philip Corner performs with prongs, Korean shaman cymbals, his voice, and a shoe. Their charming friendship can be heard in the interplay.
This project was made possible by Geoff’s widow, Sur Rodney (Sur), his children, Tyche and Bracken Hendricks, Philip Corner, & Charlie Morrow.
-Sean McCann, August 2019”
Soundwalk Collective get under the skin of Berlin techno temple Berghain and give expression to the vast old power station’s internal vibrations via contact mic’s and modified Baschet instruments.
A conceptual sibling of sorts to Ostgut Ton’s (Berghain’s in house label) ‘Fünf’ set - a compilation of tracks by club residents made from location recordings inside the club - Soundwalk Collective ‘Oscillation’ takes that idea one step further by really getting their nose and ear to the metal, glass and concrete surfaces of the vast main space and its warren of tunnels and dark rooms.
147 contact sensors made recordings of sounds from the space over the course of multiple club-nights, which the collective then used as stimulus for a range of instruments built by Atelier Baschet - the modern iteration of the Baschet Brothers and their fantastique music making creations. The results were originally presented as part of the exhibition Electro: from Kraftwerk to Daft Punk, at Philharmonie de Paris between April 9 - August 11, 2019, and are now available for everyone outside Paris to get a sniff of Berghain’s musky spirit.
Essentially this is the sound that Berghain makes when nobody is listening, giving voice to the visceral vibrations locked in its unforgiving structure, and making audible an accretion of a billion kick drums, synth stabs, pummels, spanks and gurned-up chats in the form of floating tones and eerie, keening dissonance. To be fair you’d get a much better flavour of the space by just checking Shed’s ‘Boom Room’, but that would be wilfully missing the point of Soundwalk Collective’s sound art.
Empire of Signs follow Hiroshi Yoshimura foundational 'Music For Nine Postcards' with a much needed look at Makoto Inoue and Yasushi Yamashita’s Inoyama Land project, expanding on their sound heard on 'Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990' to illuminate material that is even lesser known outside of Japan – some of it presented publicly for the first time, written as the soundtrack to a museum exhibit on slime molds and now making its vinyl premiere after years in the archive.
"A portmanteau of their family names, the “Land” of Inoyama hovers between imagined mythical space and concrete reality, extending beyond physical releases into installations, site-specific sound design and theatre scores. After their famed Haruomi Hosono-produced 1983 release Danzindan-Pojidon, the duo became involved in the budding environmental music business that was taking shape in Tokyo during the development boom of the asset bubble – working directly with figures like Hiroshi Yoshimura (with whom they developed sound design for the International Stadium in Yokohama) and Takashi Sekiguchi (Bamboo from Asia).
Working initially with Munetaka Tanaka’s Sound Process Design (an acoustic consulting company formed by Tanaka with Satoshi Ashikawa, before Ashikawa’s tragic death in 1983), their commissioned work mirrors the sound world first fleshed out on Danzindan: chiming synthesizers, pastoral hues, childhood memory – all pulsing with a distant, emotional resonance. This material – culled from limited CD issues of the material on Tanaka’s Crescent label, Kazunao Nagata’s Transonic Records and self-released CDRs – presents a window into this process, illustrating how Inoue and Yamashita’s idiosyncratic musical identity gelled perfectly with all of the disparate environments of their commissions. Included is music written for the Kankaku (Sense) Museum in Miyagi, an exhibit on slime molds at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno park, the 1977 stage performance Collecting Net (which also included music that would later become Danzindan-Pojidon) and their score for a Tokyo re-staging of New York avant-theatre pioneer Richard Foreman’s post-modern stage piece Egyptology."
Greyscale drones and jagged industrial textures make up Aki Onda’s soundtrack response to images supplied by experimental filmmaker Paul Clipson, who died suddenly on 3rd February, 2018. RIYL cranky James Ferraro, Phillip Jeck’s lustrous grays, Aaron Turner’s textured improvs
“On Make Visible the Ghosts, New York-based musician Aki Onda composed the soundtrack for the images of the San Francisco experimental filmmaker Paul Clipson, who suddenly passed away on February 3, 2018.
In 2009, Clipson and Onda met at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for the first time and shared a ride to the International Film Festival Rotterdam, where they presented audio-visual works in the same bill. Since then, the two artists – known for their highly personal approach with Super 8, 16mm, cassette Walkman and radio – maintained a close friendship over the next nine years. Their works deal with memory, time, space, and those reflections, and they had a lot to share.
Onda and Clipson completed their collaboration work Make Visible The Ghosts—a combination of vinyl LP of Onda’s music and large-size collage artwork by Clipson—a few months before Clipson’s departure from life. The work is composed of the materials they used for their performance in New York in 2012 and developed over the three years from 2015 to 2017.
Onda notes: “The loss of Paul has left a huge hole in our mind including his friends and collaborators. Paul is no longer here, and this is a chance to remember him and his images that extended and expanded our perception of how the world can be seen and heard.””
Nick Höppner and Japanese techno producer Gonno get the best out of each other in a colourfully plumed trio of trax for Ostgut Ton
On the lilting and swooping ‘Bangalore’ they mesh iridescent electronics into a whirring tech-house mechanism; ‘Love Lost’ sees them yoke back to a troddin’ ambient dubhouse style; and ‘Start Trying’ picks up the slack with a kinky pivot and swang primed with lustrous Detroit strings for the proper house dancers.
Beautifully eerie 12-string guitar, synth and autotune studies played with a rare, tempered intensity and grace. It’s a highly unusual disruption of classic Takoma/fingerstyle with electronic drone and found sounds, at different points reminding us of everything from Hope Sandoval to late period Talk Talk, Jim O’Rourke, Tashi Wada Group and of course John Fahey, while ultimately sounding like none of them.
With an uncanny, even unsettling ability to hold her listener’s ear-gaze, Julia’s follow-up to 2017’s ‘Dawning On’ finds the Berlin-based Aussie continue to recontextualise her instrument with elegant precision to yield a sublime tension between her heavy-lidded vocals and iridescent strings.
In Julia’s remarkable 14 minute opener ‘Of Neither’, strings fluidly cascade from her fingertips into an amniotic soundsphere of field recordings and gently fleeting synth figures. When combined with the deep dreaming texture of her autotuned vocals and wind-blown harmonica, the effect recalls a sort of midnight Tuareg blues half-remembered from a fevered sleep. It’s deeply beautiful stuff, periodically fading into and out of the light, only to return with more intense inflection and density, yet ever more spaced out, leading to the internal pocket of ‘Lament’ and its achingly coaxed secrets.
With recipients suitably defocussed and in pliable state, Julia takes the whole other side to play on that line between organic and processed material, slipping from noirish, filmic intrigue into the middle distance where her rustic coruscations twirl in a set dance with their spectral reflections, rendering a shimmering, introspective and highly individual solo dialogue.
Spanning spirited kosmische thru to Eastern-inspired percussion, proto-IDM and spectral pop circa 1981-1996, ‘For The Moment’ is a charming portrait of San Fran’s John Di Stefano compiled by Jed Bindeman’s amazing Concentric Circles imprint - a sister label of sorts to Freedom To Spend.
An American-born, Japan-based percussionist with a taste for synths and roots spread between theatre and world musics, John Di Stefano was a key node in San Fran’s experimental/artistic rhizome that connects ‘70s kosmische to ‘80s new wave and new age musics, and ultimately ‘90s ambient and early IDM.
‘For The Moment’ compiles 8 tracks from Di Stefano’s hard-to-find and often self-released tapes on vinyl for the first time. Slotting alongside Concentric Circle’s overlooked gems by Carola Baer and IXNA, the compilation offers a dilated perspective on utopian styles that would inform and reflect the cybernetic era and its transition from analog to digital as it took root with networked, techgnostic West Coast hippies.
Connected as much by that prevailing, forward-looking Pacific breeziness as his array of classic modular kit made by Moog, Buchla, Serge, Emu and Octron, and his acoustic drums/tablas, the set charts a glowing course from it’s earliest, beaming kosmische waltz ‘Three Moon Reflection’ (1981) thru to his 1996 mix of Suba-esque electro-acoustic fusions on ‘Ng’s Office’, and the spectral nocturne ‘The Rain On the Leaves’ starring a very Julee Cruise-like vocal from Maria Kusumdewi.
In between he strikes charming highlights in the 10 minute ‘Nuage’ (1985), which sounds like an iridescent pre-echo of Anthony Manning’s interwoven electronics or Move D & Jonah Sharp’s acid-jazzy ambient as much as Indonesian gamelan, while his percussive instincts make for sensuous dancefloor moments in the likes of his future folk dance styles on 1996’s ‘Ng’s Office’ and ‘Culture Schlock.’
It’s all blessed with the sort of human touch that we’ve come to expect from Concentric Circles and the Séance Centre family of labels, and yet again sweetly expands a collective knowledge of the ‘80s US electronic underground in a way that will resonate with listens from all corners.
Avant-percussionist and composer Sarah Hennies explores the brink of un/consciousness in a captivating work for piano and percussion for Oren Ambarchi’s trailblazing Black Truffle. Meditative but often invasively violent, the hour-long piece follows her striking ‘Embedded Environments’ LP for Blume in 2018 with a music that effectively gestures into space between The Necks and Julius Eastman.
As with the resoundingly acclaimed ‘Embedded Environments’, Hennies' latest work uses sound as a means to explore both musical and extra-musical ideas about sociopolitical and psychological issues relating to her own identity, as well as integral topics of love, intimacy, psychoacoustics and percussion. Performed by Phillip Bush (piano) and Sarah with her Meridian bandmates Tim Feeney and Greg Stuart on percussion, the hour long works skirt the schism between conscious and unconscious minds, metaphorically using the two grouped instruments (piano / percussion) to reflect Jung and Freud’s description of the unconscious mind “…as a reservoir, a repository for memories that we don’t readily need access to, yet are kept forever in our minds”, and the way in which its mysterious presence penetrates conscious, everyday thought.
Across the hour-long span of ‘Reservoir 1’, the constant, supple, reactive piano performance acts as the conscious element, while the trio of Meridian’s percussionists take on the role of a separate, unconscious entity pricking and hammering away at the buoyant sense of consciousness. Alternating between chronic rustling that surely nods to Julius Eastman, and more pointed, violent sounds of bricks dropping in buckets, the persistent but fallible percussion is an amorphous, underlying presence that can raise or diffuse the tension surrounding the keys, which, also like Eastman’s classic series, also milk the most out of a relatively simple but damn effective phrase - where the same saying can have myriad different meanings depending the notes’ intonation.
Stefan Goldmann in conversation with Cory Arcangel, Robert Henke, Mike Daliot, Michael Wagener, Dinis Schemann, Tony Stevanovski, Dimitar Kotev and others.
"Stefan Goldmann is an electronic music artist and DJ. Changing techno from within, Goldmann has developed his own approach to creating adventurous electronic music. His works range from poll-winning techno tracks to large scale compositions for ensembles, film and ballet, yet ultimately all are derived from the core formal traits of techno: grid, loop, sample, edit, track. Together with Finn Johannsen he runs the Macro label. He has been DJing at Berlin's Berghain since 2006, conceived the Elektroakustischer Salon events and writes a column for the club's monthly flyer programme.
For his first book, "Presets – Digital Shortcuts to Sound", Stefan Goldmann has talked to industry leaders, programmers, producers, musicians and fine artists to collect a comprehensive description of the world of preset audio: from synthesis to sample libraries, from instrument emulations and gear cloning to automated composition and performance – short cuts in electronic music, classical and traditional musics, guitar rock and fine arts are covered. Disruptive gear and iconic presets, their background and impact – from Korg's M1, Yamaha's DX7 and Roland's 909 to Ableton Live, Native Instruments Reaktor, Sidechain compression and Auto-Tune – are discussed with unprecedented depth and clarity."
Distinctive debut LP of synth works from German composer Carl Oesterhelt - ov Anthony Shakir’s fave NDW band F.S.K., plus The Notwist and many other bands - now exploring a solo mix of baroque synth hymns, darkwave pulses, cranky slow slugs and dead sexy polyrhythms. Big RIYL Tolouse Low Trax, Frak, Konrad Kraft
“Umor Rex presents Eleven Pieces for Synthesizer, a collection of synth instrumentals by German composer Carl Oesterhelt. Oesterhelt has been recording a mixture of straddling kosmische and classical traditions for years on his own reel tape machine, overdubbing stacks of analogue gear to create a compelling body of work that brings fresh emotional depth and rhythmic experimentation to the syntax of the modern synthesizer.
Born in Munich in 1968, Carl Oesterhelt has worked in a variety of fields throughout a long and impressive career. His discography includes tenures with Neue Deutsche Welle legends FSK, intellectual disco outfit Merricks, and German legends The Notwist. His solo work has travelled even further and wider, taking in contemporary classical and chamber music, music for exhibitions and radio plays, not to mention notable collaborations with saxophonist Johannes Enders and legendary founding member of Faust, Hans Joachim Irmler.
Oesterhelt augments his own analogue arsenal with synthesizers borrowed from musician friends, resulting in almost fifteen different synthesizers –some in fruitful states of disrepair– which feature on the album. Opener “La chapelle de Francis Lai” pays tribute to the French film composer with a synthesized church organ procession, disintegrating kraut-funk-noir which emerges on “Poro Secret Society”. Then, eerie sound effects mash with minimal techno rhythms on “Makonde Pattern”, and –most surprisingly– Oesterhelt turns his keys into a sub-Saharan drum ceremony on “Trinidad Pattern”. The sheer range of Eleven Pieces for Synthesizer is an impressive achievement unto itself. Yet it is Oesterhelt’s instincts as a composer which make these (largely improvised) recordings so compelling. Tensions build and emotions stir throughout each piece with a proficiency perfected through his work for the stage.
Musically associates, and directly connected to a heritage of German electronics, Eleven Pieces for Synthesizer touches upon similar ground to the likes of Musik von Harmonia in its pulsations, Klaus Schulze’s sonically adventurous Cyborg, and Tangerine Dream at their earliest and most primitive. The hypnotic ritualism of early African field recordings, or the spiritual regality of European organ music also convey key reference points in the formulation of this collection. Oesterhelt’s compositions here have taken the musically primitive and the emotionally raw, and woven them into a rich synthetic soundworld all of his own.”
Tying a ribbon bow on yer lugs, Kath Bloom & Loren Connors’ exquisite 1983 country folk album resurfaces on reissue, expanded with a handful of live recordings
“The extraordinary creative partnership of New Haven, Connecticut duo Kath Bloom and Loren Connors has haunted fans of fragile folk and blues since the early 80s. Kath taught herself guitar during shifts as a janitor at a New Haven cemetery, while Loren’s free-form idiosyncratic style had been developing since the late 60s. Between 1981 and 1984, the duo recorded two live and four studio albums, mostly self-released in tiny quantities.
Early on, their music mixed folk and blues traditionals with a handful of Kath’s vulnerable, moving originals. By the later albums the songs were all Kath’s – her fragile voice and subdued finger- picking set against Loren’s abstract but always supportive playing. Together the duo created a sound almost impossibly emotional and haunting.
Kath & Loren’s first two albums in 1981-82 were live recordings, released via Loren’s Daggett Records label. Next came 1982’s Sing The Children Over on Massachusetts label Ambiguous Records. Then Sand In My Shoe emerged in 1983 as the first release on Loren’s new St. Joan label, in an edition of 200-300 copies with handmade sleeves.
Restless Faithful Desperate and Moonlight followed in 1983-84, before the prodigious duo parted ways. Kath did not release anything again until a 1993 solo cassette Love Explosion, but then developed a devoted cult following through the pivotal use of her song Come Here in Richard Linklater’s 1995 film Before Sunrise. Kath has since released three solo albums on Chapter Music (Finally in 2005, Terror in 2008 and Pass Through Here in 2015), as well as the Bloom tribute album Loving Takes This Course, featuring covers by the likes of Bill Callahan, Mark Kozelek, Devendra Banhart, Josephine Foster and many more.
Loren also retreated from music for a period until re-emerging in the late 1980s. He is now recognised as a pioneering guitar explorer, and has worked with the likes of Thurston Moore, Keiji Haino, Jim O’Rourke and many more. After reissuing Kath & Loren’s four landmark studio albums on CD in the late 2000s, Chapter has now embarked on the first ever vinyl reissues for these remarkable records. Restless Faithful Desperate was reissued in 2018, while Moonlight will be released alongside Sand In My Shoe in October 2019. Sand In My Shoe includes five digital-only bonus tracks, from 1982 live EP Pushin’ Up Daisies.”
Recorded after seeing the urn designated for his body after death, ’Heaven’ is a stately bouquet of ecstatic but disciplined organ and synth compositions framed as contemporary church music. RIYL Kali Malone, Caterina Barbieri, Steve Hauschildt, 0PN...
“Centrally occupied with the subject of death, its conceptualisation was catalysed by Spiluttini’s discovering his mother’s preparations both for her own death and for his. He arrived at her home in 2015 to be led into the local church and shown the two adjacent places she had reserved for their urns. The tracks on Heaven together consist of an analogously personal and anticipatory negotiation with death.
Partly derived from organ recordings made in the same church, the album frequently enlists Arvo Pärt’s compositional method of tintinnabuli. Aside from the thematic logic of its sacred associations, the method suits Spiluttini’s tendency, in spite of heavy and dynamic passages, to minimise tonal complexity. His characteristic uses of gnashing bass, restlessly irregular pacing and serrated distortion return. This time, they combine with pads, harps, fluttering organs and swooping choirs.
Track titles throughout Heaven conjure intense emotional conflicts, especially those arising from experiences of embodiment. Touch isolation is a term for the toxic masculine stigma against platonic touch between men. If such a reference on an album preoccupied with death and afterlife raises the question of whether Spiluttini considers any touch – let alone platonic – to be possible in Heaven, the title ‘Flesh Angel’ perhaps answers it. As with ‘Body at War’ and ‘Weakened Centurion’, such a title positions the agitation of its music among ongoing struggles with body acceptance. Meanwhile, ‘Rainbow Bridge’ recalls the 1980s prose poem promising an eternal reunion in death with one’s beloved lost pets. In context, these various indices seem to capture the yearning speculation that, as the nexuses of experience, bodies are not discarded in death; on the contrary, they achieve a state of perfection.
Heaven revolves within dramatic and ever-changing vignettes. As church music, it lacks real communal participation or fidelity to hymnal text. Instead, it must come to terms with negation and eternity as dependable threats to generational and spatial distance, to personal struggles with earthly embodiment and to the anxious, hyperactive navigation of identity in late modernity. (Edward Trethowan)”
When Harry Bertoia's Sonambient label was resurrected, the intention was to tell the story of Bertoia's groundbreaking Sonambient work as revealed through his extensive collection of notes and recordings. When the first new LP was released in 2016 Important Records were only in possession of 1/20th of the archive. Now, they're excited to release the first LP of new material from the full archive.
"The recordings contained on this LP were selected because of their relationship to Bertoia's body of recorded work. The titles are from from Bertoia's notes which Bertoia placed in each tape box, indicating date and describing briefly. Like his sculptures, Bertoia never titled his recordings but frequently referred to specific concepts he was pursuing. These are among the earliest known examples of Bertoia using terms which would become more common in the years to come: "experimental," "mechanical" and "long sounds."
Very few of Bertoia's early experimental sessions survive on tape: he did not record many and often erased those he taped. Most were not recorded and those that were recorded were often erased. Those that remain, however, offer fascinating insights into how Bertoia likely worked in the barn when the tape machine wasn't running. Although he left behind hundreds of tapes, one can only begin to imagine the amount of unrecorded sessions that took place in Bertoia's barn.
Experimental I shows the artist stretching out, in no hurry and avoiding any bombastic explosiveness. We imagine Bertoia looking around the barn much as he is seen on this album's cover; searching for the next sound in his forest of metal wires. Unheard combinations of sculptures, percussion and long strummed sections make this recording unique. This piece has a an effortless, natural flow.
There appear to be at least 10 tapes from 1969-1975 that Bertoia noted were “Mechanical.”. Bertoia thought of his sculpture as a collaboration with industry since the diameters of his rods were, ultimately, determined by what was available from the factory that manufactured them. In that sense, Bertoia's music could, quite literally, be considered industrial and this piece has the metallic rhythms of a factory pulsing through it.
Long Sounds I: (CD only)
Bertoia mentions "long sounds" often in his notes. It's likely he used this phrase to describe the moments when he would allow a gong or tonal sculpture to reverberate and decay. As a result, passages or entire tapes where this phrase is used tend to be more spacious and reverberant, slower, calmer, grounded. Bertoia rustles up big bursts of sound and then lets them slowly recede, analyzing the results and considering the possibilities of including them in his sonic canvas. "
Greater Manchester’s All Night Flight toss their bonnet in with reissue of an atmospheric DIY “trance” album from late ‘80s California sure to appeal to fans of K. Leimer, Marc Barreca, or Stroom’s languid introspective vibes.
“Ok, background! A Produce is the moniker of the late Barry Craig, a prolific artist operating on the fringe of the experimental and DIY music scene of California from the 80's onwards. Via his Trance Port Tapes label, Craig was responsible for documenting what he coined in his own words 'the growing trance music scene' emerging in LA at the time. Trance? not as we know it, but more his own unique take on hypnotic, somewhat introspective minimalist electronics and instrumentation that's STILL very of the now and undiscovered. The imprint's DIY ethos and alternative agenda was cemented through the incredible design work by Bruce Licher of Independent Project Press and a release from psychedelic enabler Timothy Leary.
Incubated over the course of three years, Craig's privately released, small-run debut The Clearing is described as 'an album of conceptual space', rooted in LA's early post-punk / DIY scene but coming at an intersection of styles to incorporate the new experimental or 'trance' music that was starting coalesce . The result is a masterpiece of flow and cohesion without comparison, shifting from heady, repetitious organ pieces ‘Farming In Arabia’ to tension-laced palette cleanser ‘Tunnels’. ‘Owachomo’ slips into a moodier, sulking drum-machine strut, followed by the more frantic ‘Pulse’ - a wild, insistent, polyrhythmic soup of crisp drum machines and eccentric vocal acrobatics. At this point it’d be nice to offer some comparisons but I’m totally stumped; the whole LP flows so naturally between these livelier moments to deeper, inward-looking passages, such as the transition from ‘October 1st’ to the blind-siding, spirited new-wave cut ‘Ashes Of Love’. The home-straight plunges back inside, with a piece of stripped bare hypnotism ‘#2’, more intimate, wind-chime ambience on ‘The Raw Silk, The Uncarved Block’ and the final piece of tempered tribalism ‘The Clearing’.
I really can’t give this one enough justice with words and any obvious bias aside, it’s truly one of the best front-to-back listens I’ve ever encountered and I hope others can experience the same.”
‘Strata’ catches playful, experimental percussionist Andrea Belfi modestly exploring his quiet side after the motorik lift of ‘Ore’
An esteemed collaborator of everyone from David Grubbs to Kiki Hitomi and Jóhann Jóhannsson, the ambidextrous Belfi possesses a catalogue as wide as it is deep. ‘Strata’ is his first new solo LP since 2017, and is quite possibly the most absorbingly dubbed-out and minimalist example of his intuitive, performance-based approach to percussion and electronics in his 20 years of releases.
Rhythm and sound flows effortlessly from Belfi’s unique synthesis of hypnotic drumming and lissom electronic patterning, diffracted through six parts that never outstay their welcome. Literally and metaphorically, from the track titles to their abstract shape, the music limns the feel of natural contours and broad spaces, and it’s testament to the subtlety and breadth of Belfi’s expressive talents that he evokes their subjects while imaginatively suggesting loads of room for interpretation.
Twenty drawings + twenty writings = "Cuckoo Head Cool Dog".
"SavFrost are two people who came together after drifting in opposite directions. SavX was born was born in Leeds, moved South in the early 70s and now lives in South London. Frost (Barbara) was born in South West London and has drifted slowly north. She now lives in North West London.
He did art school, first in Essex then scoring a Masters Degree at the RCA. She did art school, first at St Martins then dropping out of a BA in Fine Art at Chelsea. He has always been interested in drawing, making comics as a kid, pulling monsters out of thin air. She worked with her partner Frank Tovey (aka Fad Gadget) as photographer, lyricist, singer, tour manager, accountant, costumier and whatever else needed doing. Overlapping with having children. Overlapping with teaching. But always writing.
Many years ago they met thanks to an amazing woman – his wife, her best friend. Then, in June 2018, they decided to collaborate in a little project with no specific end in sight. Every night SavX sent Frost a drawing that he had done during the day. Every next morning she opened the email stared at the drawing, made a few notes then wrote a something. They did ten. Thought about it. Then, because they were enjoying themselves, they did ten more."
15th anniversary edition repress of HTRK’s achingly scuzzy debut album, ‘Nostalgia’ from Fire Records
Recorded and self-released in 2004, HTRK’s ‘Nostalgia’ is a far, far more gristly and cranky beast than they have become. Essentially plying a form of modern, post-industrial deathrock tempered by trip hop and shoegaze, their form of “nostalgia” feels preserved in salt and smoke, sweetening and toughening the meat of their music but also making it palatable to a generation who, by 2004 had grown weary of rock clichés and really needed a stronger taste for their worn out palates, which HTRK surely catered for.
Arriving with one of the best band names on the bleeding planet, HTRK - pronounced HATE ROCK - vampired the essence of Suicide, Joy Division, TG and more locally The Birthday Party, and distilled it to a potent solution that works both as intoxicating options for escapism and a fix for the bloated corpus of a dying (dead?) rock music. Sadly they would be followed by the shadow of death in coming years, with the passing of then band-member Sean Stewart and their future mentor, Roland S. Howard (The Birthday Party) both passing in 2009 circa their 2nd album, but the way they nihilistically peered into the abyss on ‘Nostalgia’ remains testament to the grippingly abrasive and unshakeable conviction of their early sound.
DeepChord’s Rod Modell lists and tilts at 140bpm+ in his banging solo debut LP for Tresor
Landing 20 years since his 1st Rod Modell release, ‘The Autonomous Music Project’ for Lunar, the ‘Captagon’ album finds Modell breaking his usual 120bpm sound barrier to go headlong for a classic early Chain Reaction style, nodding to a mid-late ‘90s era when the likes of Monolake, Matrix and Erosion (T++) kept pace with the rest of techno, but also kept it deep and hypnotic as fuck. While it’s quite possible this uplift in energy may leave some of DeepChord’s older audience out of wind, for many others it’s a breath of fresh air to his exhaustively explored style.
Through a simple gesture of pushing the tempo, Modell’s sound instantly becomes more urgent, as though woken from its sluggish reverie and now properly up for some aerobic mysticism. Along with the Chain Reaction nods, there’s clear reference to classic Detroit and related gear, from Mike Grant’s Black Noise to full flight Mills trax and Convextion at his paciest. However, Modell’s grasp of layered, subaquatic dynamics really places ‘Captagon’ in a league of its own, with a rinsed out and rinseable dynamic and traction brilliantly transposed from his fathoms deep catalogue of cv313, Echospace, and DeepChord productions with inexorable velocity.
Best thing he’s done in years, basically.
Shapeshifting polymath Mike Patton meets the gallic class of Jean-Claude Vannier in a smoky suite recalling the latter’s classique chanson arrangements for Serge Gainsbourg.
Accompanied by the Bécon Palace String Ensemble and guest musicians who have worked with Beck, Johnny Cash and NIN, the central duo of Patton and Vannier make an odd but comfortable coupling alternating between straight-laced and experimental songwriting in a studied style native to ’60s/‘70s french music, and the way it incorporated both avant and popular music in luxurious style.
““Jean-Claude and I met while working together on a Gainsbourg retrospective at the Hollywood Bowl in 2011,” explains Patton. “We bonded immediately. I could see he had a dedication and attention to detail that was relentless so the respect I had for him in my mind was magnified in person. We spoke loosely about working together in the future… and it took some time, but after a few years I contacted him and we began to ignite some sparks.”
“I would send Mike rough versions of the songs to get his thoughts, then I’d wait impatiently, staring at the clock, until I received his response,” offers Vannier about the process the duo used to create Corpse Flower. “He made my music awaken with his unique perspective and interpretations of my songs. A formidable vocalist, with a sense of humor, Mike and I created a strong, beautiful and sincere collection of music, as well as a friendship.”
For their seventh full length, ‘Sonic Citadel’, Brians Gibson and Chippendale have done the daring, stripping away some of the distortion mask to reveal the naked pop forms as never before.
"Throughout their 25-year history Lightning Bolt have toured the world, performing at Coachella, ATP, Festivals, Pitchfork Music Festival, Austin Psych Fest and FYF Fest, to name a few. Brian Chippendale has collaborated with Björk, Boredoms, Andrew W.K. and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. Brian’s comics are published with Drawn & Quarterly and Picturebox. Brian is also in Black Pus."
New re-recordings of boundary pushing jazz works spanning 50 years of the legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago
“Iconic, innovative and internationally renowned force in avant-garde music The Art Ensemble of Chicago released their 50th anniversary celebratory album We Are On The Edge in April, and Erased Tapes are honoured to announce the vinyl edition of this exceptional body of work.
Led by surviving founding members Roscoe Mitchell and drummer Famoudou Don Moye, these brand new recordings involve a staggering array of contemporary artists ranging from across the jazz, experimental and improvised music spheres; from the visionary poet and musician Moor Mother, trumpeters Fred Berry and Hugh Ragin, who have performed with Mitchell for over five and four decades, to bassist Jaribu Shahid, supreme cellist Tomeka Reid, celebrated flute virtuoso Nicole Mitchell and the extraordinary voice of Rodolfo Cordova-Lebron.”
Shimmering AOR-style instrumental balm from storied photographer Steve Hiett, who has shot Jimi Hendrix, Sophia Loren, Miles Davis, Uma Thurman, The Hollies and many more. One for Ned Doheny or Mike Cooper fans
“Three emotional years in the making, Be With and Efficient Space finally present Steve Hiett’s Girls In The Grass. Pressed alongside the long awaited reissue of his one-shot masterpiece Down On The Road By The Beach, these ten balearic soul instrumentals are of equal necessity; unrivalled beauty rescued from the fashion photographer-guitarist’s Paris Tapes (1986-1997).
Remastered for public pleasure by Simon Francis, these private moments are adorned with Hiett’s singular photography and feature typically idiosyncratic liner notes from Mikey IQ Jones.”
The quietly magisterial might of ‘Virðulegu Forsetar’ has been a gateway for many listeners to the world of late, great composer Johann Jóhannsson. The vinyl version of his 2nd album now arrives agai on vinyl via Deutsche Grammophon’s ongoing reissue programme for Jóhannsson’s peerless catalogue.
Originally issued by Touch in 2004 on CD, and on vinyl in 2011, ‘Virðulegu Forsetar’ followed from the fractured mosaic of ‘Englabörn’ (2002) to reveal Jóhannsson’s sound in landscaped widescreen across eight durational arrangements for heavy electronic bass, glowing brass horns, and stately organ. It’s a sound that arguably evokes the tundra expanses and snowy mountain ranges of the artist’s native Iceland, while also clearly infused with a slow-burning warmth of spirit and natural curiosity that’s long been key to his work.
This abridged vinyl edition features four tracks from the eight found on the CD. Ranging from 14’ to nearly 22’ in length, they take the longview on a form of contemporary classical minimalism, distilling a 12 piece ensemble into a suite of a subtly melancholy but optimistic fanfare underlined by tectonic bass drones and outlined by meridian electronic timbres that gradually work their way from the liminal extremes and into the record’s pregnant lacunæ by the final ‘Part 4.’
Essentially ‘Virðulegu Forsetar’ feels like a sanguine, telescoped vision of Jóhannsson’s’s future horizon, when he would emerge among the eminent film soundtrack composers of his generation. It remains a true classic in his catalogue, one of the strongest of the 21st century so far.
Bibi Ahmed, head and bandleader of Group Inerane, is from Agadez, Niger, which is one of the most volatile, unbridled and dangerous parts of the world.
"Bibi was soon confronted with the oppression and marginalization of the Tuareg by the national governments of Mali and Niger. Just as early awakened his love for music. As a child, Bibi Ahmed taught himself to play the guitar before receiving his education from the great master and father of the Tuareg blues, Abdallah ag Oumbadougou. Marked by the experiences in the Libyan refugee camps during the Tuareg uprising, Bibi Ahmed and his band Group Inerane gave the rebellion its own musical voice, while at the same time making the rich tradition of Tamachek guitar singing accessible to a new generation of listeners.
In February 2019 and in collaboration with Sounds of Subterrania and Lotte Lindenberg Studio, Bibi recorded his first solo album on which he played all of the instruments himself. This reduction opened up a whole new view on this quite extraordinary mix of Tuareg blues, electrified Tamachek folk and psychedelic Sahara rock. The listener literally feels the shimmer of the heat and, once one embarks on the path of listening, the differences between spiritual trance and hypnotic psychedelic blues become indistinct."
Not-to-be-missed Kosmiche flights from gifted Aussie guitarist/composer Julia Reidy, chasing her acclaimed ‘Brace, Brace’ LP for Slip with a jaw-dropper for Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle, unfolding her sound along vast axes of folk, krautrock, new age synth and avant-blues...
“Black Truffle present In Real Life, the latest in a flurry of releases from Berlin-based guitarist and composer Julia Reidy. Having drawn acclaim for solo performances on 12-string acoustic guitar that bridge microtonality, ‘American primitive’ stylings and classic minimalism, Reidy’s recent releases have utilised an increasingly broad sonic palette, fleshing out guitar-based composition with electronics, field recordings, and – most strikingly – heavily auto-tuned vocals. On In Real Life, Reidy pushes one step further, crafting an epic LP-length suite that moves from abstracted song to lush electronics and explorations in contemporary musique concrète.
Beginning with a passage of eerie electronics and creaking percussive interjections, Reidy’s heavily auto-tuned voice quickly takes centre stage. Surrounded by explosions of electric guitar and synthesised arpeggios, the auto-tuned voice delivers a melancholic ode, bringing together poetic images to reflect on the instability of experience and mutability of identity in a contemporary world saturated by digital technology. This concern with the unsettled relationship between the physical and digital is reflected musically by the constantly shifts in emphasis between Reidy’s physically demanding guitar-picking and the various forms of synthesis deployed. Similarly, the dynamic imagery of cutting, shattering, and ‘racing streams’ present in Reidy’s lyrics also serves to characterise the structure of In Real Life, which ceaselessly shifts between distinct episodes. The song-based opening, long sequences of frenetic 12-string guitar shadowed and eventually overtaken by synth tones, passages of delicate chiming harmonics, electro-acoustic cut-ups – each flows seamlessly into the next, often recurring throughout the record’s duration, which lingers over interstitial moments between these episodes.”
Analogue synth wizard Martin Jenkins returns to Ghost Box with a glorious vision of retro-futurist electronics in ‘Hollow Earth’, the sequel to ‘Stasis’ 
At just under 1 hour long, ‘Hollow Earth’ weighs in as one of PCA’s most significant, broadest artist albums (as opposed to compilations). It finds the widely beloved project reeling inwards after the extrospective exploits of his ‘Stasis’ LP to reflect on themes of “subterranean exploration and submerged psychologies.”
Gassed on the spirits of Berlin skool synth improvisation and the new age chuff-on that informed early ‘90s house music, the album unfurls as a nightflight over undulating internal topography, roaming from signature slow techno wonders to weightless, vocodered waltz in ‘Descent’ and furtive, ghostly shapes in ‘Claustrophobe’, before raising the energy level with strident dance tracks such as ‘Mindshaft’ and ‘Core sample’. But it’s int he later quarters that we find some of the most precious material, such as the deliciously moody atmosphere and sylvan slink of ‘Dancing Shadows’, the mind-bending noise sculpture of ‘Quad Tape Substrate’, and his Carpenter-on-quaaludes emulation, ‘Buried Memories’.
Features remixes from Coby Sey, Bruce and FaltyDL.
"Blueberry Records founder FaltyDL aka Drew Lustman comes first with a deep, skipping 2-stepping reversion of Mumma Don’t Tell. Bruce comes off the back of his well received debut album for Hessle Audio with a “resymph” of Osho in typical mind-bending style. Whities producer and Tirzah/Mica Levi collaborator Coby Sey reconstructs Suns of Gold with his sampler, and also accompanying it, is Leifur’s own remix of suns of Gold."
Boddika and Kid Drama’s cult Instra:mental celebrate the 50th Nonplus release with the 2nd of two plates making up their long-awaited 2nd album.
Reprising the Autonomic sci fi romance of their seminal phase circa the end of the 2000’s/start of the ‘10s, the pair play in the shadows of D&B and electronica in four parts, firstly coming off like the minimal D&B answer to Chris & Cosey in ‘Auto Love’, then making clear nods to classic Coil as much as late ‘80s electro-soul in ‘Elsewhere’, while ‘Encke Gap’ trips on an acidic drip tang, and ‘More Than’ catches a breezier IDM/electronica style akin to dBridge or Synkro styles.
Prayers are answered with repress of Annette Brissett’s funky reggae-soul peach ‘Love Power’ , newly mastered at Dubplates & Mastering and dished up facsimile by NYC/Berlin’s Wackies
Landing the same week as a reissue of Annette’s in-demand ‘Betrayed Dub / What A Feeling Dub’ (both dubs of songs from ‘Love Power’), Annette Brissette is set to transcend the wants list of those in the know and receive due adulation for her beautifully bittersweet Lover Rock style.
Set to instrumentals by Wackies crack squad, The Black Roots Posse, with arrangements by Fabian Cooke, and engineered by Douglas Levy, ‘Love Power’ is a stone cold classic notable not just for the aforementioned cuts, but also her charming cover of ‘What A Feeling’ from the ‘Flashdance’ soundtrack - a proper guilty pleasure - as well as the smooth vibes of ‘Love Power’ and undoubtedly the incredible disco twist of ‘Drums’ saved right for the very last, and set to make jaws drop on reception.
Ruddy late ‘80s/early ‘90s acid house class by the Paranoid London unit
Coming on like Baby Ford meets Jamie Principle, ‘(Vi-Vi) Vicious Games’ dances in succinct radio and album edits, along with a darker dub channelling Bam Bam and primed for club use.
A master of intense but barely-there music, Dale Cornish completes a 5-album cycle for Entr’acte with the spellbindingly skeletal and sexy gestures of ‘Enhex’.
Started in 2012 with ‘Glacial’ and taking in the deco rave minimisations of ‘Xeric’ (2014), ‘Ulex’ (2015), and ‘Aqal’ (2017), Dale’s Entr’acte run has consistently, playfully toyed with ideas of anticipation and stylistic convention in electronic music for the best part of this decade. With ‘Enhex’ he yields one of the most forceful instalments with the same strict methodology that we’ve come to know and love about his music.
Sonically ascetic as Mark Fell and as rude as Russell Haswell, but with a queered tactility of his own, Dale continues to plough his own groove in ‘Enhex.’ From the spittly, gasping blatz and gut punch kicks of crowd favourite ‘Enhex Pattern 1’ he does it singularly throughout all 9 cuts. Whether diffusing boomy bass hits and flickering rimshots into acres of nothingness on ‘Enhex Pattern 2’, coming like a stoned Alva Noto in ‘Enhex Pattern 4’, really crushing on your cochleas with ‘Enhex Pattern 5’, or dancing with killer, ricochet dynamics in ‘Enhex Pattern 8’, Dale very knowingly moves in between the lines of convention, locating canny routes of investigation which, for all their ostensibly minimal construction, open vast playgrounds and suggest slightest prompts for the listener’s imagination and body to cut loose.
Jonny Nash and Kyle Martin rekindle their Land Of Light in the quiet new dawn of ‘The World Lies Breathing’ some seven years since their debut with ESP Institute.
With a barely-there presence, Nash & Martin converse in a small sound vocabulary of china-tinkle pointillism, spare string touches and bubbling electronics quite clearly inspired by Japanese ambient environmental music that also loops back into early Eno styles. They masterful balance contrasting sounds and textures in pensile space with a tremulous, tip-of-the-tongue sensitivity to tone and clarity that keeps listeners suspended by a silky thread.
“Written and composed over the course of two years, “The World Lies Breathing” reflects the pair’s shared development towards spacious, abstract composition crafted from a wide range of contrasting sound sources. Utilising a combination of acoustic instruments, contact microphones and Martin’s self-built modular synthesiser “The World Lies Breathing” focuses on the space between sounds, conjuring up an organic yet alien landscape that exists on the edge of an unknowable void.”
Russian techno boss Tolkachev goes into orbit on two glyding and grumpy techno missions for Gost Zvuk
One of the most distinctive producers to emerge from the Russian Federation in the past decade, Polkachev here tends to his most experimental sides with the cascading, glittering arps and cheek-pulling torque of his beatless roller ‘Optical Illusions’, before he puts a donk on it with the techno distress signal of ‘Suddenly I Realised’, which ultimately ends up stranded and all out of bass drum fuel.
Geordie folk bard Richard Dawson takes his role seriously but playfully with the glorious chops of his strongest album since 2011’s cultishly acclaimed ‘The Magic Bridge’. Top marks for still never compromising a shred of his accent, which only reinforces the storytelling. Sounds a bit funny when he goes falsetto though, a bit Jim Moir/Vic Reeves, like
“2020 is an utterly contemporary state-of-the-nation study, that uncovers a tumultuous and bleak time. Here is an island country in a state of flux; a society on the edge of mental meltdown. This is England today.
On 2020, Dawson introduces us to grand themes through small lives. His are portraits of human beings struggling with recognisable (and dare we say it, relatable) concerns, conflicts and desires, each reminding us that tragedy and gallows humour are not mutually exclusive, and that the magical can sit next to the mundane. Lyrically it is by far Dawson’s hardest-hitting and unflinchingly honest album to date. It is his poetic masterwork.
Within, we find disgruntled civil servants dreaming of better days, anxiety-addled joggers listlessly searching Zoopla for houses they cannot afford in their spare time, amateur footballers who think they’re Lionel Messi and beleaguered pub landlords battling rising floodwaters.
Sonically, Dawson’s new-found fascination with pure pop music is also evident across 2020, manifesting itself in some of his most direct work to date. Melding his most melodic moments with flashes of choral dissonance, nerve-shredding crescendos, heartfelt laments and a deceptive finger-picking style.”
The drowsy nostalgia and summer-days charm of ‘Neighbourhoods’ is another absolute peach from Pete Swanson & Jed Bindeman’s Freedom To Spend, presenting the first ever reissue of Ernest Hood’s sole, outstanding 1975 LP. Big RIYL BoC!
Hazily framed by a mixture of zither, woozy keyboards and sweetly candid field recordings, ‘Neighbourhoods’ is Ernest Hood’s deeply personal and warmly endearing impression of childhood naivety. Previously a figurehead of the Northwest US jazz scene, a bout of polio restricted his guitar playing, so Ernest turned to a gentler sound focussed on “the formation of comfortable memories”, resulting a daydream of an album that recalls fondest memories of long summer holidays, nagging parents, and hours absorbed in kids flicks, cartoons and their sugary soundtracks. sadly that’s maybe not the same experience many kids have nowadays, self-sequestered in bedrooms, congregating on Mmorpg’s, but once upon a time this kind of idyll was real.
Gently coming to life with ‘Saturday Morning Dozing’, the album saunters thru scenes such as ‘At The Store’ documenting kids on a shop stoop deciding what to do with their day and spilling 7up on their peanuts, to the meridian buzz of crickets in ‘August Haze’, and the chufty synth fanfare connoting the buzz of leaving class in ‘After School’, and onto the mischievous frolics of ‘Night Games’, it would take a heart of stone not to melt at the charms of this album. Really, almost anyone will recognise and fall heavily for Ernest Hood’s impressionistic beauty.
Iridescent electro from Secret State, a new name on Falty DL’s Blueberry, leading on from zingers with CPU and Varvet in ’18
Jacking straight in to the Blueberry mainframe, they throw down the classically analog-sounding 150bpm missile o warped crime and cold drums ‘Blast’, beside the itchy detail of ‘Just Because’ and a strong nod to Drexciya and Stingray in ‘Scales’, while the relatively reserved but moody drive of ‘Dystopian Preset’ offers emotive equilibrium.
Shanghai’s Svbkvlt spring a killer new batch of martial steppers and pointillist ‘tronics by 33emybw to chase her blink ’n miss vinyl pressing of the ‘Golem’ LP - backed with remixes by Lechuga Zafiro, Ikonika, and Hakuna Kulala’s Don Zilla
Issued to coincide with its live premiere at Poland’s Unsound festival, ‘Arthropods’ manifests as the alien spirit twin of the soul-seeking creatures 33emybw brought to (semi)life in the ‘Golem’ album. Her animist powers appear strengthened here, generating seven unique constructions that synthesise aspects of footwork, deco-club music and trilling trap with crystalline IDM melodies and a virulent, gremlin-in-the-machine sort of madness.
This stuff is pretty much exactly what we reckon a lot of folk imagined music to sound like in the year historically imagined by Blade Runner. From the lush pads and flyaway chorales of ’Symmetry’ the album delivers a futurist rush of probing electronic tones and posthuman, bone-bending rhythms between the rail-gunning attack of ‘Tentacle Centre’ and the tri-step trills of ‘Induce’, packing thrilling runs into dembow DNA mutation with ‘Adam Bank’ and a sort of militant sino-soca-footwork style in ‘Arthropods Continent’, while ‘Drum3’ sounds like it evolved from a patch left on a synth in the Radiophonic Workshop.
By contrast with the main body, the remixes are a bit safe, as Ikonika evens out ‘Arthropods Continent’ into a sort of bucking ballroom workout, and Lechuga Zafiro reins in ‘Adam Bank’ with a fidgety parry, but Uganda’s Don Zilla keeps it out there with a cyclonic twyst on ‘Drum3.’
Remastered and sounding better than ever, ‘Compiled 2.0 / 1981-84’ wraps up the most indispensible bits by Gudrun Gut and co’s all-female German post-punk unit Malaria! - effectively Berlin’s answer to The Slits or The Raincoats and one of the key Neue Deutsche Welle and post-punk units of the era.
Staking a ground zero for Berlin post-punk, Malaria!’s music was a product of the West side of the city’s scuzzy aesthetics and progressive politics. Gathering the powers of co-founders Gudrun Gut and Bettina Koster, plus Christine Hahn, Manon P. Duursma and Susanne Kuhnke, Malaria! hit the ground running with their eponymous debut 12” and soon after a support slot for New Order at Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, leading them to tour venues across the world and become one of Berlin’s most distinctive and influential bands.
This comp spans Malaria!’s vital early years when their sound emerged as a mix of driving punk that veered from No Wave and NDW to skronky, dubbed out disco-punk mutations. Notably including material recorded at Studio Christoph Franke, the legendary Berlin facility behind classics by Tangerine Dream, the results have withstood the test of time thanks to the band’s mix of direct, experimental yet disciplined rawness and studio magick.
From that debut 12” you’ll find the martial swagger and honk of ‘Kämpfen Und Siegen’, and the wilder patchwork dub collage of ‘Dabo’ recalling Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Gray from the same era. Also from 1981, ‘How Do You Like My New Dog?’ is a killer bit of electroid deathrock scuzz, while ‘Pernod’ feels out a jazzy sorta No Wave sound akin to James Chance and The Contortions, and the rudely discordant, nerve-jangle disco-not-disco jagz of ‘Zarah’, ‘Geh Dischen’ and the sly pop brilliance of ‘Your Turn To Run’ cement the NYC connection in recordings made at the city’s Sorcerer Sound.
Alex Menzies persists in pushing Glasgow’s experimental envelopes with Other World Music Vol.2
It's an unsettling, immersive suite of psychoacoustic electronic projections that perhaps pessimistically suppose new sonic terrain beyond the new age and modern world music zeitgeists. Some of his most impressive work to date. Comparable in theme and aesthetic with recent works by Sote, Cam Deas, Rashad Becker, Autechre.
Special Request answers the question “what if Jam & Lewis signed to Metroplex?” with the 3rd and final instalment of his 2019 album cycle.
Arriving in the glistening wake of his ‘Vortex’ and ‘Bedroom Tapes’ sides, ‘Offworld’ completes the trilogy with a unchronic suggestion of ‘80s soul meets Detroit electro, with results that lean into melodic AI electronica and glyding late ‘90s “breakbeat” trance.
Fair to say that Paul Woolford aka Special Request nails the vibe with dead on with the combo of Midway’s ‘Set It Out’ vocal applied to rocking 808 in ’237,000 Miles’, while he takes it deeper with the smooth R&B/electro-soul shimmy of ’Shepperton Moon Landing’, along with lazer-zap electro and Plaid-like melody in ‘Offworld Memory 3’, the lush nose-drip dissonance of ‘Front Screen Projection’ and ‘Are End Of The Moon.’ The bashy breaks and acid of ‘Morning Ritual’ are a mishit but ‘Floatation (SR Offworld Mix’) pulls it back with a fine marriage of Twin Peaks-meets-Italo House keys, NASA comms, and Wild Bunch-era breakbeats.
Brilliantly loose-limbed, inspirational solo debut album from Kim Gordon after four decades fronting myriad projects, most notably Sonic Youth, but also with numerous collaborators including Tony Conrad, Ikue Mori, Julie Cafritz, Stephen Malkmus and most recently with Bill Nace as one half of Body/Head.
It’s a raw and effortlessly experimental album, from the red-lining subs of opener 'Sketch Artist' to the tripped out lo-fi Gamelan pop of 'Paprika Pony’, the industrial Berghain grind 'Don't Play It’ and NYC drum machine jam 'Cookie Butter’, it’s a properly, endlessly enjoyable electronic punk album held together by Kim’s sharp lyrics and still completely inimitable vocal delivery - you just can’t f#ck with it.
In lesser hands 'No Home Record’ would be a heavy-handed mess, but - really - it’s the most artful and yet somehow least pretentious record you’ll hear this year - nothing less.
After two LPs and over half a decade spent toiling in the margins of the American Songbook, Bill Orcutt returns to original composition and the blues with his latest LP, Odds Against Tomorrow. Taking its title from Robert Wise’s 1959 film noir, Odds Against Tomorrow retrofits familiar folk/blues forms to the unique sound of Orcutt’s guitar and the result crackles with a freshness and authority that nostalgic retreads cannot deliver.
"Odds Against Tomorrow is more than an expansion of the territory charted by Bill Orcutt, his eponymous 2017 studio electric debut, although it’s certainly that. With its nods to existing musics, half- step fluctuations, and near-songwriterly manipulations of tension/release, Odds Against Tomorrow is a rock record — almost. Clearly and simply recorded through a clattering Fender Twin in Orcutt’s living room and lovingly mixed by Bay Area neighbor and pedal-steel savant Chuck Johnson, no one would mistake it for any era’s radio fodder, yet the precision of its technique and the swaying Child-ballad logic of its gentler improvisations comfortably seats it between John Mayall and Richard Thompson in your Ikea Kallax.
Three songs (“Odds Against Tomorrow,” “The Writhing Jar,” “Already Old”) are multi-tracked, an innovation that, for guitar buffs familiar with Orcutt’s stripped-down vernacular, jumps out of the grooves like a Les Paul sound-on-sound excursion in 1948, or a Jandek blues rave-up in 1987. Specifically evoking John Lee Hooker’s double-track experiments on 1952’s “Walking the Boogie,” the steady chord vamps of “Odds Against Tomorrow” and “Already Old” form a harmonic turf on which Orcutt solos with lyrical abandon — and while his playing has always earned begrudging respect from any hardened shredders willing to pluck the foam out of their ear canals, even the most strident neck- strangler will steam over his lubricated runs. For the more “contemporary-minded,” “The Writhing Jar”’s crashing overdubs recall the brassy six-string voicings of This Heat or Illitch.
With the exception of the unreconstructed Elmore James-isms of “Stray Dog” and the “Layla”-finale-like haze of “All Your Buried Corpses Begin To Speak,” the remaining non-overdubbed tracks dovetail snugly with Orcutt’s previous solo output, reeling gently in a Mazzacane-oid mode (“The Sun and its Horizon,” “The Conversion Experience,” “Judith Reconsidered,” “Man Dies”) or vibing up the standards (“Moon River”). On their own, these tracks would still be an important contribution to Orcutt’s canon. As part of Odds Against Tomorrow’s greater whole, they provide a through line, connecting the idiosyncrasies of Orcutt’s past explorations with the scrambled tropes of his present work.
Odds Against Tomorrow challenges contemporary solo guitar practice in a way that simultaneously nullifies hazy dreams of folk purity and establishes a new high-water mark for blues-rock reconstruction. Put simply, in our current era of mannered revisionism, it is a joy to listen to." — TOM CARTER”
Whelming, intergalactically-scaled computer music from the absolute don Marcus Schmickler, modelling the acoustic sound of two galaxies colliding by gravitational force, just ‘cos he can.
Not doing sh*t by halves, Schmickler’s first major vinyl release since the melon-splitting ‘Politiken Der Frequenz’ (2016) is an ambitious attempt to telescope advanced astrophysics onto 12”s of vinyl, with results that feel like flossing your head with string theory.
Composed at various locations 2012-2018 (presumably with some kind of assistance from author of the computer music manual, Alberto De Campo, who is thanked on the sleeve), ‘Particle / Matter Wave / Energy’ describes the practically unimaginable in terms of vast, illusory Shepard tone pitch gradients that suggest the listener is at the centre of a hugely complex, banking mass of frequencies in the petrifying depths of space.
For the first third of the piece it he creates a vacuum that leaving us feeling genuinely a bit breathless, seemingly moving down the registers to super wide, bodyenveloping sounds before he really ramps up the chaos to eye-popping degrees that feels like we’re spun in a gyroscope. On the the other side the piece seems to surge upwards, ultimately hitting screeching high register pitches and systematically wrenching your atoms apart.
Trust us, It’s a highly pleasurable experience if you like the idea of bathing in mescaline and letting the universe prod your pineal gland.
A wonderfully icy but lush expression of synthy nordic soul flush with soaring dynamics and devilishly detailed arps from Lindstrøm
Comparable with the ‘Principe Del Norte’ trips by his regular spar Prins Thomas, the style of ‘On A Clear Day I Can See You Forever’ can also be heard as a nordic echo of Berlin School kosmiche or cinematic Vangelis styles.
The title track is suitably scaled in the image of vast snowy mountain ranges and unfathomably deep fjord gorges with swooping and soaring arps gymnastics beautifully enacted over moonlit backdrops, before ‘Really Deep Snow’ comes to land in scenes of richly padded, ribboning bass punctuated by an icicle-tapping pulse. Flipside he repeats the formula of beatless then pulsating in the transition from dawning, iridescent arp melodies on ‘Swing Low Sweet LFO’, to the sublime, slinky shuffle of ‘As If No One Is Here.’
Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Malinder serves his 1st album in 35 years with ‘Um Dada’, a collection of leftfield house playing with the clonk of classic Steel City club styles, and their influences
“Um Dada opens up with the exact machine-led surrealism that Mallinder recommends in “Working (You Are)”. A thick, stripped back dance floor groove provides the ideal foundation for Mallinder’s eccentric vocal cuts. The frisky chops present an almost twisted irony, subtly bringing to mind the role we’re all forced to play as just another cog in the ever grinding capitalist machine of life. Yet, somehow, the listener is left feeling optimistic. A prime example of simplicity at work.
Tracks such as “Satellite” give a skillful illustration of Mallinder’s adeptness with his musical expertise while preserving his core historical context as only simple reference. The underlying bassline and percussion, coupled with the floating melodies and airy vocal refrain disclose the vulnerabilities of love and loss without a hint of irony or nostalgia.
Um Dada is mischievously idealist, however never loses touch with reality. Offering structure while simultaneously dismantling any and all preconceptions. The spirit of sincerity that sustained Cabaret Voltaire’s lengthy career is abundantly present within founder Stephen Mallinder’s journey through his own whimsical utopian consciousness and staking claim to an identity that is solely his own.”
Berceuse Héroïque wheel out the heavy artillery with Pinch’s rude debut barrage for the bass and techno outpost - one of his baddest since those early Swamp 81’s at start of this decade.
Making his first trample of 2019, Pinch keeps it topical with the grimacing and soggy dread march of ‘Border Control’, coming off like a late ‘90s Virus workout remodelled for basements full of hooligans stomping their ugly sneakers into rave slush - you know the tread - before ‘Fortune Tellers’ spins us right back to Pinch’s 2010 steamers ‘Croydon House’ and ‘Retribution’ but with added time lag in a proper piece of UK bass/techno, while ‘Loose Cables’ sees him unbuckle the modular and let it all slop out in a sort of frazzled, drunken stagger that will churn the ‘floor to mush.
Murder business. For serious bassbin use only!
Marie Davidson and Pierre Guerineau’s Essai Pas do hi-impact EBM/trance with a lustrous twist of Euro epicness
‘Earth’ rolls sleek and powerful with adrenalised bass arps and silver-skied synths topped by Marie and Pierre’s perfectly measured vox, whereas ‘Corps Étranger’ yokes back to more furtive electro scenes as the mission starts to unravel, and Passarani is dialled in for back-up with a HiNRG remix of ‘Earth’ that reeks of meph and sweat and pine car freshner.
Even before the single ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ was released, Numan had recruited a permanent drummer and keyboard player and demoed an album’s worth of new material between April 9-12, 1979 at Freerange Studio in London’s Covent Garden.
"This was supplemented by a second session, probably the following June, that yielded four further songs and two re-recordings. Following the hectic schedule of promoting ‘AFE?’, Numan recorded a new session for John Peel the day after the single hit #1 on the UK charts. Rather than record as Tubeway Army, the session was credited to Gary Numan and the group name abandoned at the peak of its success. As before, rather than promote the current album, Numan chose to record four new songs. While the album ‘Replicas’ hit #1, Numan was busy recording a follow up in Marcus Music Studio. From the surviving tapes there are six mixes marked as outtakes. The discs have been sequenced with the stronger, second Freerange demo preceding the first session but all tracks are in the order of the tapes."
Big Thief had only just finished work on their third album, ‘U.F.O.F.’ - “the celestial twin” - days before in a cabin studio in the woods of Washington State. Now it was time to birth ‘U.F.O.F.’s sister album - “the earth twin” - ‘Two Hands’.
"30 miles west of El Paso, surrounded by 3,000 acres of pecan orchards and only a stone’s throw from the Mexican border, Big Thief (aka Adrianne Lenker, Buck Meek, Max Oleartchik and James Krivchenia) set up their instruments as close together as possible to capture their most important collection of songs yet. Where ‘U.F.O.F.’ layered mysterious sounds and effects for levitation, ‘Two Hands’ grounds itself on dried-out, cracked desert dirt. In sharp contrast to the wet environment of the ‘U.F.O.F.’ session, the southwestern Sonic Ranch studio was chosen for its vast desert location.
The 105-degree weather boiled away any clinging memories of the green trees and wet air of the previous session. ‘Two Hands’ had to be completely different - an album about the Earth and the bones beneath it. The songs were recorded live with almost no overdubs. All but two songs feature entirely live vocal takes, leaving Adrianne’s voice suspended above the mix in dry air, raw and vulnerable as ever. With raw power and intimacy, ‘Two Hands’ folds itself gracefully grows deeper and more inspiring with each new album."
Several years in the making, and marking 20 years of the cult minimalist project, the richly intoxicating ‘Living Space’ sees Eleh pull back from physical pressures to coax out a more natural cadence and way of arranging that reflects the slowness of plant life and discreet, painterly forms of ambient composition, underpinned by those pristine, deadly subs.
“Following ‘Slow Fade for Hard Sync’ (2009) and Location Momentum (2010), Living Space is Eleh’s third physical release for Touch. Seven years in the making, this new release consolidates the artist’s parallel narrative between a series of vinyl and CD releases for Important Records – where the emphasis is on a minimalist aesthetic – to a visual counterpoint that hints at the cinematic and painterly qualities of the music.
Sound, as a healing force, is an idea as old as the medium itself. Inspired by the legacy and above all the spirit of John Coltrane, Living Space features 5 new compositions that seek to express the beauty of slow change, not only through the microtonal shifts in sound that Eleh navigates but moving with the atmospheric and shape–shifting conditions that the music creates as it interacts with the listening space, whether bedroom or concert hall, each one of them unique.
If the ambition of Living Space is to reflect both personal and collective growth cycles, the experience of its audition has the effect of stopping time. Melodic and harmonic progressions are implied and not stated obviously, to enable listeners to apply their own emotions and feelings to the music.
Using modular and analogue synthesisers, piano, organ, bass and symphonic chimes, Living Space stresses the promise of the CD’s final track – ‘Lighter Touch’ – forsaking the forceful hand for an approach that mirrors the slower and softer exposures of plant life and leaf formations, slow moving waters, not flash floods nor forest fires.”
Kush Arora aka Only Now follows a triptych of self-released output in 2019 with an LP of "versatile synthesis, mutant kuduro, widescreen sound design, turbulent cold fronts of power ambient and melodic undertones of black metal."
"The product of a two-year period in which Arora was contending with transitional shifts in his personal life, Captivity is a culmination of what the project has explored both in a prolific run of recent material and as a whole, across several years of time dilating, mind altering music. Although shaped by adversity and corresponding sentiments of angst and insignificance, Captivity is pitched at total transcendence. Adopting a meticulous approach to production, a methodology which opens up almost every element to transformation and deconstruction, Arora generates forms which possess a sense of pointillist precision, as well as a keen psychedelic potency.
Despite consistency with his earlier output as Only Now, Captivity is nevertheless an indication of Arora’s ability to challenge internal and external assumptions. The introduction of new hardware – namely, the Nord Drum 3P synthesizer – as well as the incorporation of far-flung atmospherics – closing track ‘Clock Lust’ features field recordings from a trip to Kyoto – delivers fresh enterprise and experimentation, contributing to the expansion of a sound signature which remains as unpredictable and compelling as ever.
With the eponymous opener, Arora combines fathomless underworlds and riotous breakbeats. On ‘Mutants’ a hyper-kinetic onslaught of percussion, low-end and stray cut-ups of noise break out, building to a panorama of thunderous industrial firmaments. ‘Perpetual Slaughter’ maintains momentum with icy, ricocheting FX and concussive, tribal drums, and then unexpectedly shifts into a poignant outro which brings to the fore the enduring influence of black metal on the project. ‘Bound 2’ is cut with relentless sub-bass and rapid syncopation, resembling an abstracted form of juke music, something that could feasibly have been masterminded by Autechre. With the LP’s finale, ‘Clock Lust’, Arora presents a finale of transfixing 3D ritualism, the lone toll of a bell ringing out into a mesmeric emptiness."