Loren Connors’ Family Vineyard give a vinyl life to Hisato Higuchi’s compelling 2003 debut, She; newly expanded with two bonus tracks from the original sessions and remastered by Taylor Deupree. Family Vineyard were the first label to release Higuchi’s music outside Japan with Dialogue , so their reissue of his debut EP of “Tokyo’s laborer’s blues”, replete with new artwork by the quiet man himself, is pretty apt.
Our memorable first encounter of Higuchi’s barely-there sound came with his part of the Tsuki No Seika Volume Four 7” split with Zelionople in 2011, and after being reminded of that song’s frail beauty with his most recent side for Root Strata, Kietsuzukeru Echo = 消え続けるエコー this reissue offers an often shocking demonstration of his formative phase, a sound riddled with noise and blistering distortion in a way we would never have predicted.
Those gender-uncertain vocals, precise acoustic strums and the hiss of background noise are all in place from his later releases, but the seemingly haphazard bursts of neon fizz and electrical disturbances that light up and sharply contrast his acoustic parts lend She a whole other, thrilling dimension that boldly messes with expectations or presumptions.
As Family Vineyard put it, “the delicate song textures of She capture the utter feeling of loneliness and a sleep-deprived mind staring off into a blurry sky”. And it’s not hard to see that imagery hauntingly reflected in the new cover artwork - a distant red cross (pharmacy or church?) in acres of negative space - as much as the music, with sublime scene-setters such as the ghostly peal of Sirens sharing late night headspace with the sallow strums of Ghosts Ghosts and its pranging shards of noise, which also feature in a new Ghost Ghosts (Alternative take) and the solitary intimacy of Speed.
Syrian/Egyptian artist Bosaina makes a delectable addition to Discrepant with the variegated ambient-pop and experimental strains of her debut double feature, combining the jazz-wise electro-acoustic collages of New York April - July 2013 and the airier ambient/neo classical space of Two Names Upon The Shore, respectively pressed a side per piece.
As a member of the Kairo Is Koming - or KIK - Collective which counts UIQ’s Zuli as a member, as well as her involvement in the VENT venue, Bosaina has been instrumental in creating the contemporary musical identity of her home city. However the sounds and themes of these two autobiographical EPs look beyond her city to conjure a broader palette of influences and references, incorporating and contrasting her experiences of the Big Apple with her roots in Syrian and Egypt and dreamscapes which link them all together.
Her New York April - July 2013 side is real charm, threading the listener thru an impressionistic, dèrive-like tour of New York in springtime framed by hovering jazz chords, refreshing downpours, wailing sirens and babies to a killer piece of Matana Roberts-like blues travelogue and tender, glitching electronica. But where that side is fragmented and at times febrile, the flip side’s Two Names Upon The Shore is cooler, collected and meditative, with expressive solo piano strokes embedded and swept thru field recording backdrops in the lush first part, then unpredictably introducing Gonjasufi-like distorted vox to the 2nd part, and inverting that into breathless hyaline highs in the final section, Abalone On The Grass with a startlingly assured hand.
We wager Bosaina will get a lot of attention around this record when it’s properly settled into a wider consciousness. Warmest recommendations!
Crazy hybrid disc! Plays vinyl on one side, CD on the other. Whoa! Includes rubber vinyl adaptor. Limited edition (sold out at source)
Amamamazing, boundary-pushing new disc from Masami Akita aka Merzbow, making the critical switch from saturated psychedelic noise to free, instrumental improvisation with gobsmacking results, all pressed to a dual format disc befitting of the music’s experimental brilliance. Hard to think of any other artists who has broken the mould repeatedly quite like this guy!
The most compelling Merzbow masterpiece we’ve heard since his Japanese Birds series, Hyakki Echo weilds four pieces in 53 minutes, bringing us closer than ever to a form of Merzbow music which mimics avian chatter and flight, which has become a key, longterm theme to his music. Imagine, if you will, a feathered Zeitkratzer Ensemble fed on whizz-pepped seeds and let loose on one of Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s installations, and you’re practically ducking between their swarming orchestra inside. But of course it’s all the work of one man, which makes it that much more incredible.
On the vinyl side there is the 3 minutes of Amadare Guitar, which forms our first introduction to this dizzyingly febrile new Merzbow style and sound remarkably better cut than we initially expected from such a novel format. The B-side’s CD meanwhile offers a father four pieces of avian free jazz delirium, at times cosign off like Mr. Bungle on hyper fast-fwd, at others like a mechanised Balázs Pándi battling time itself, or Reinhold Friedl happily severing his digits in a bloody frenzy inside the piano. But perhaps what’s most shocking is the space between Akita’s rapid flux, where, while cramming in as much information as possible to each millisecond, he still hold a gripping spatial dynamic and meditative centre amid the madness.
Stunning, revelatory set of sweeping electronic composition by the late Mitar Subotić, a.k.a. Rex Ilusivii (The King of Illusions), dug out by Salon Des Amateurs resident Vladimir Ivkovic to mint his Offen Music imprint.
'In The Moon Cage' captures six lush and spellbinding shots of previously unheard material realised by the Serbian producer circa 1988, framing a vast, digitally-rendered world perfused with Eastern-enchanted vocals, amorphous synth scapes, balearic bird calls and plangent ambient guitar work tripping lines between abstract, esoteric styles best associated with Coil, Muslimgauze, or even JG Thirlwell.
Like many other listeners, this is our first introduction to the work of Subotić, who was born in the Former People's Republic of Yugoslavia before latterly transferring his lauded production skills to Brazil, where he died in a studio fire in 1999 on the eve of release for his 'São Paulo Confessions' LP as Suba.
What remains with 'In The Moon Cage' marks him out as a sorely missed talent, mixing classical training and a keen taste for cutting-edge sounds with a timeless spirit, manifest in a spatially diffuse, yet intensely emotive and detailed sound. Kudos to Offen Music for rescuing this collection from obscurity, it's a real beauty.
Optimo Music unveil one of 2017’s most striking debut releases with Iona Fortune’s spellbinding Tao Of I; the first in a promised series of eight releases exploring all the symbols of the I Ching - the oldest of the Chinese classical divination texts.
Meshing traditional oriental sounds gleaned from guzheng and gamelan with lustrous tones from a Synthi AKS, Glasgow’s Ms. Fortune evokes a darkly sublime, opiated sound in Tao Of I that’s patently redolent of Kenji Kawai’s Ghost In The Shell soundtrack as much as Sleazy Peter Christopherson’s Bangkok exploits or Dopplereffekt’s reverberating synthetic spaces, whilst also broadly falling into Jon Hassell’s 4th World paradigm, which she recently explored quite literally in the Miracle Steps compilation from Optimo and 12th Isle’s Fergus Clarke.
However, Tao Of I is a singular record, measured with a poise and patience that’s utterly arresting in its stoic elegance and sound sensitivity, drawing on a history of arcane, intramural Scots energies and channelling a mystic, ambiguously gendered instrumental voice that hearkens to Cocteau Twins and Cindytalk.
Like we say it’s completely enchanted and enchanting music. Very much worth your time.
At long last legendary producer Martin Hannett’s wild dedications to Delia Derbyshire and her work at the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop is revealed to the world at large thanks to Dandelion Records, who’ve previously issued Hannett’s unreleased studio outtakes with Joy Division. If you were into Hannett and Steve Hopkins’ The Invisible Girls album or, indeed, anything by Delia Derbyshire; you need to check this one!
The 18 tracks of Hannett’s Electronic Recordings - Homage To Delia Derbyshire were sourced from sessions at the hallowed Strawberry Studios in Stockport filed under that title by Hannett and range from kooky electronic bachelor lounge miniatures to some really cranky space rock and one absolutely unhinged 10 minute part of alien madness that’s worth price of admission alone. And it’s total speculation on our behalf, but some of the languid guitar pieces bear a striking resemblance to Vini Reilly’s Durutti Column sound. Just saying.
Both masters of bending time and space, it’s no wonder that Hannett was influenced by Delia’s work as a young lad watching the tellybox in ‘60s Manchester, and thus it’s not hard to draw a line between that appreciation of wigged out tone, echo and space that Delia provided Hannett, and the judicious application of FX he would come to apply on classic records by Magazine, Joy Division, Early New Order, The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays in coming years.
Aside from the first track which we’re pretty sure appeared on The Invisible Girls set, it’s all effectively a missing piece of the puzzle of British electronic music, forming a discernible bridge between progressive eras in a way that’s much harder to trace between modern music.
Cellular Automata is the first new Dopplereffekt album in a decade! Rudolf Klorzeiger and To-Nhan kept us waiting but the anticipation pays off with some of their most striking electro architecture to date, tangibly making good on the promise of their Tetrahymena  and Delta Wave  deliveries over the interim, which, like this one were also released by Berlin’s Leisure System.
The symbiotic duo’s last album, Calabi Yau Space  remains one of the most memorable, puristic electronic records of its decade and Cellular Automata is up there with the most distinctive of its ilk in the current sphere. To outline their intentions; “Cellular Automata approaches mathematical growth and decay as an iterative process, with each data input considered individually relative to the overall model”, which broadly translates as a lofty metaphor for refinement thru increasingly searching practice; both technical research and the fine-tuned discipline of their physical, melodic inputs.
Difficult to say really how that works out from initial listens, but in aesthetic terms at least their sound is shockingly sharp and dense yet incredibly spacious, executing that unique balance of sheer technological advance and heightened emotive response in way that’s long been key to the success of their sound, encouraging listeners to revel and marvel at both the pure sonification of their sounds and equally their near-baroque classical elegance.
If you need any prompts, check out the vast harmonic structures of Cellular Automata and the tempestuous kosmische momentum of Exponential Decay at the album’s bookends, or deeper in for the uncanny stere-imaging of Gestalt Intelligence and the nerve-biting noise of Pascal’s Reunion, or the abyssal morphosis of Mandelbrot Set for the strongest sensations, but, as you’ll understand it’s definitely best consumed as whole for the most lucid yet disorienting experience.
One listen to ESG (new or old) and it becomes clear just how indelible their sound has become in recent years, so it is entirely fitting that they have been coaxed back into the studio with 'Keep Moving', a splenetic vial of aural fizz that grafts elements of hip-hop, electro, punk, funk and pop onto a bucking frame of rightness.
Now bolstered by the daughters of original members Renee, Valerie, Marie and Deborah Scroggins, ESG open with the cavernous bass-excursions of 'Purely Physical' - wherein ESG massage a sound that borders on proto-dubstep into a echoing treat. From here, ESG shift into more familiar territory - with the rubbery gait of 'Insane' a particularly sleazy highlight, whilst elsewhere 'I'd Do It For You' is a beat-basted beauty, 'Gimme A Blast' will have even the most led-footed on the dance floor and title track 'Keep On Moving' is a buttery smear of hip-hop tooled lethargy.
Posh Isolation continues a most fecund phase with Khalil’s heartsore twist on R&B and deconstructed club music, perhaps best compared to a collaboration between Arca and Anohni
“'The Water We Drink' is the debut album from Khalil, a close confidante of Posh Isolation, and naturally a project close to the heart. With an iridescent shower of auto-tuned vocals and encrypted synthetic forms, Khalil presents a luminous route into a future of cadences pitched to a crushing intensity.
As the new project of Nikolaj Vonsild, best known for his pop endeavours in the synth quartet When Saints Go Machine, as well as his acoustic duo Cancer, Khalil is his strongest vision to date. The collaborative platform for Vonsild's searing angelic/alien vocals is produced with Simon Formann, better know as Yen Towers and formerly of Lower (RIP), along with Villas Klint.
With water we feel differently. Indifferently of course, it approaches our sense of touch quite unlike any other matter or form. It slips and caresses, appealing to a sensuality so intuitive it barely registers beyond its immediacy. It's an urgency that always arrives. The ocean tells us so on the shore; a perennial pleasure, a forgivable obsession. That the coast, its container, the edge of where we safely stand and where water waits, is a form just as much as it is a dissolving place, then considering a design such as that of an Evian natural spring water bottle amounts to staring at the stars. Thematically, Khalil draws constellations and cites emotive signals with this kind of deep union between form and touch. Finding perhaps a place undiscovered.
Across the album the impulses of the romantic lyricism are diverted through artificial mechanisms and unnatural vocal terrains. Set against a melodic chorus of fractured pop, there is a certain sense in which the aching wane of Khalil feels like an ensemble of identities grasping for a form as water may grasp for land.
If there's reason to feel that bottled water is a portable piece of something greater than ourselves, then Khalil distributes high definition pop tropes with the same logic. The radio is an ocean, and Khalil's longing a hydrating force.”
In Pessimist, Blackest Ever Black’s furtive D&B agent submits a killer debut LP recce from the no man’s land between jungle, tekno and greyscale electronics - a definitively Bristolian sound. Forming a logical expansion of the themes explored in his work with the Ruffhouse trio and in solo shots for A14 and Osiris Music UK over recent years, his first album finds him working in acres of negative space to fully indulge his worries for the dance, arguably resulting in a new high-water mark for the D&B album format.
Thanks to a natural predilection for minimalism and a fine tuned sensitivity towards textured, atmospheric detail, Pessimist succeeds where the vast majority of D&B long-players fail; fundamentally keeping our interest without resorting to beating us around the head with the latest plugin acrobatics. Rather, Pessimist uses techniques of stealth and guile to draw in and toy with his prey, resulting a far more intriguing and satisfying dispatch from the dark side of the echo chamber.
Like we say, it’s sculpted as a proper album, as opposed to a clutch of middling bangers, replete with intro, outro and a tempered transfer of energy between the tracks that necessarily curves the listener’s enthusiasm between pockets of dank ambience, dread dub dimensions and rolling, ghostly tech-steppers.
Aside from the bolshy techno of Peter Hitchens and clinical badboy rolige of Through The Fog, it’s all exclusive new material, churning up some robust highlights with Grit’s hunched and grubbing torque, and the stark, crispy Spirals, but we’d have to point to his No Matter What collaboration with Overlook for the LP’s most impressive mutation of pure UK bassbin pressure. If we’ve any gripes, though, it’s from the splashback of his breakbeats that come in half way thru Grit and dominating his Glued link-up with Loop Faction, but apart from those, it’s a proper dark fantasy.
'Jive Baby' by the Jellies is one of those limited run post-punk obscurities that's managed to trickle through thirty years of collections only to end up in some very well respected hands.
Thurston Moore reputedly owns a copy, using it to soundtrack a solo performance of his in 1997, plus Optimo also own one of the 30 original copies pressed in 1981. Jonny Trunk, along with Fred Deakin of Lemon Jelly and Georges Vert (Jon Brooks aka The Advisory Circle) have all given it a loving spit and polish for this Trunk reissue, adding highly respectful revisions of this masterclass in lo-fi "minimal disco" as the band themselves put it in '81.
Craftiest of all the mixes is from Vert, teasing out the latent dub lope into a dreamy Mr. Soft skank, before Fred Deakin gives it a lick of vintage disco drums. Trunk's own mix is suitably bonkers, hooking up with his mate Tommy Stupid to do a 'Backwards Mix', which is exactly that. Recommended!
Mouth-wateringly strong compilation of archival music from ‘70s Somali with an incredible story to tell. From Bollywood and Thai-sounding, natty lovers rock to killler blue downbeats for breaks hunters and roots reggae-like psych-bop, there’s blinders at every turn! Compiled by Nicolas Sheikholeslami (V I S, Amateur Exorcist) and Vik Sohonie, who were also behind the much loved ‘Somali Sounds from Mogadishu to Djibouti’ mixtape. Not to be missed!
“In 1988, on the eve of a two decade civil war, Somalia’s authoritarian ruler Siad Barre launched punishing air strikes on the north of the country, known today as Somaliland, in response to agitations for independence. The bombing leveled the entire city. Barre targeted Radio Hargeisa to prevent any kind of central communication system that could organize a resistance.
With the attack imminent, a few brave radio operators and dedicated vanguards of Somali culture knew the archives, containing over half a century of Somali music had to be preserved. Thousands upon thousands of cassette tapes and master reels were quickly removed from the soon-to-be targeted buildings. They were dispersed to neighboring countries like Djibouti and Ethiopia, and buried deep under the ground to withstand even the most powerful airstrikes. “We buried them in the ground so the bomb’s won’t hit,” one former leading journalist with Radio Hargeisa told us.
These audio artifacts were excavated and recalled from their foreign shelters only very recently. Some of those recordings are now kept safe in the 10,000-strong cassette tape archive of the Red Sea Foundation, the largest collection of Somali cassettes in the world, in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa. The Ostinato Records team digitized a large portion of the archive, distilling 15 songs that reveal the panoramic diversity of styles and sophistication of Somali musicianship. Over a millennia of trade in the Indian Ocean invited the cultures of the Arabian Peninsula, Persia, India, Southeast Asia, and even China to slowly work their melodies, scales, and sounds into Somalia’s rich musical repertoire. Each track is a keen illustration of a carefully refined, rarely revealed cultural crossroads of the world.
This project took our team to Mogadishu, Hargeisa, Djibouti, and across the Somali diaspora in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East. For the last year, from Minnesota to Mogadishu to Malaysia, we have tracked down the musicians, songwriters, composers, former government officials, and quirky personalities that colored Somali music life. Their words and stories are revealed in a 15,000-word liner note booklet — the only document of its kind to cover this era of Somali music in depth.
Alongside the story of Somalia’s music before the civil war, the selection is also focused on the pan-Somali sound. Spread over much of the Horn of Africa, Somali language and culture transcend arbitrary borders. Somali singers from Djibouti were at home in Mogadishu. This compilation seeks to revive the rightful image, history, and identity of the Somali people, detached from war, violence, piracy, and the specter of a persistent threat. These 15 tracks should serve as a necessary starting point.”
Blackest Ever Black presents Dickon Hinchliffe's original score for 1980 - the second part of Channel 4 and Revolution Films' Red Riding trilogy, adapted by Tony Grisoni from David Peace's quartet of novels and first screened in 2009.
Each film in the Red Riding trilogy, a landmark achievement in British television, was helmed by a different director and had its own distinctive look, sound and feel. While Julian Jarrold's 1977 and Anand Tucker's 1983 were both marvellous, well-rounded pictures, James Marsh's 1980 - photographed by Igor Martinovic on 35mm - somehow seemed to penetrate deeper and linger longer and more vividly in the memory.
Described by Tony Grisoni as "an elegant steely trap", 1980's tragic arc is all the more devastating for the glimpses of lightness and redemption with which it taunts its hero - policeman Peter Hunter, played with astonishing grace and nuance by Paddy Considine. Crucial to the mesmeric, elegiac and ultimately pincering, punishing effect of 1980 is its music, composed by Dickon Hinchliffe and performed by a small string ensemble augmented with bass, piano, guitar and percussion. A founder member of Tindersticks, Hinchliffe has played a major role in the band's scores for the films of Claire Denis (including Vendredi Soir, Trouble Every Day and Nénette Et Boni), and since flying the roost has established himself as an arthouse and Hollywood composer of considerable renown, with credits including Forty Shades Of Blue, Project Nim, Winter's Bone and Rampart.
Even more eloquently than Paddy Considine's note-perfect performance, Hinchliffe's music for 1980 articulates Hunter's journey from righteousness to ruin, his optimism gradually consumed by dread and paranoia. Even at its most tender, its most hopeful, its most soaringly romantic, the stench of death is all over it. - K.S., August 2013"
Killer suite of Ruhr region night slugs from Detlef Weinrich (Tolouse Low Trax) and Viktoria Wehrmeister (La! Neu?), mixed and edited by Kunstkopf’s Gordon Pohl and clad in designs by Jan Wagner, director of the Filmwerkstatt in Düsseldorf.
The follow-up to Often Music’s reissue of Serbian synth obscurity In The Moon Cage by Rex Ilusivii follows darker paths into narcotically grinding industrial rhythm and noxious atmospheres humanised by the vocals of Viktoria Wehrmeister, a Mexican sculptor who was last spotted singing in Klaus Dinger’s La! Neu? group of the ‘90s.
Six tracks absorb and reflect the heavy industrial landscapes and history of their locale to convey a raw, austere and shadowy sound strung out between the overworked machinery of The Hill and the burned-out bogle of Comida para Todos, taking in the pensile industrial dubbing of Laquella and swanging tribal slop of Quedarte en route.
Seriously stylish business, don’t expect this to stick around…
A single, 17-minute meditation on plasmic guitars and rustling acoustic space. Sounds like the equivalent of a long exposure photograph taken in a paranormal hotspot, making invisible spirits auditive. We could listen to this for hours…
“A haunting and volcanic suite of electric guitar and piano from the modern master of the avant blues and the abstract -- Loren Connors. Angels That Fall slips deeper into Loren's headspace where vocalists in glissando and the swelling romanticism of chamber strings echo from beyond this mortal plane. Transcribed through Connors effect-laden six strings, he carries the listener from bluesy violence to sadness, hope and a piano coda.
Angels That Fall was recorded May 2016 at First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn, NY.”
One of our favourite artists in the world right now, David Burraston aka NYZ presents the second of two CDs for Entr’acte, each revealing particular aspects of a sprawling practice knitting algorithms, sound installation and self-built synthesisers in some of the strangest recordings imaginable.
As you might have guessed from the title, MCRNTL - a contraction of micro- and macrotonal - catches Burraston divining new ways between the waves, stepping away from systems of 12-tone equal temperament into curdled smears of harmonic mulch and convolution that hold genuinely new and compelling sensations for the listener.
Without, as the promo says, “getting bogged down in any deep, confusing theories about anything whatsoever”, Burraston/NYZ presents nine pieces, some forty minutes of music, all selected for the pure and frankly fucking weird, pleasure of it. Of course, if you need to look at it that way, there is a wealth of complex chain reactions and semi-organic systems at play in MCRTNL, but the glacial pace and somnolent atmospheres serve to reveal those processes in a manageably intuitive, enjoyable manner with broad appeal to listeners who’ve grown bored of so much harmonic convention in electronic and avant-garde music.
Forming a spellbinding exploration of NYZ’s infamous banks of FM synthesisers, each controlled thru his patented Cellular Automata hardware system for generating note and control data, the results range from succinct, rhythmic arabesques to gaseous drones and chattering machine voices that feel at once familiar yet deeply unheimlich at the same time, mostly thanks to the level of detail with which Dave Noyze can control the tuning of individual notes or “generate complete tuning tables in some cases”.
In the cases of MTNAM_2::FM60PP3 and MCRTEO, it sounds like he’s zoomed in and expanded on mercurial moments of AFX or Autechre tracks, focussing in on their nasal drip tang and melted string zing with a delightfully perverse quality, whilst LM_8101MT sounds like a band of brass-touting mice conducted by David Lynch, and MTNAM_7_SRi::station=>MONO feels as though it’s performing otoacoustic origami on yer inner ear, whereas MTNAM_3:: XNOTNL and GRAYMATTA feel as though he’s alternately emulating a lonely ship at sea in your ear canal, and then slowly sealing it in with concrete.
Ultimately, this process allows NYZ to explore a finer range of sounds, and with it a finer spectrum of emotional analogues and the less distinct, more ambiguous spaces between the notes. It can be taken like a kinda counterintuitive form of jazz played by machines, or oblique abstract sketches rendered in colours imperceptible to the eye, but either way they’re some of the oddest, unsettling works in circulation.
Handy 12” edits of two unobtainable Afro-disco belters
uptown with the Frankie Francis Disco Jam Mix treatment on Steve Monite’s Nigerian boogie zinger, Only You; downtown with an extended, dubbed-out re-edit of Tabuley Rochereau’s Hafi Deo by Nick The Record and Dan Tyler.
Diagonal’s Elon Katz (Streetwalker, White Car) and Robert Girardin (Jaws, Sex Boys) couple up as Zero Grow for a tuff-playing, wonkily psychoacoustic batch of techno screwballs landing somewhere between Physical Therapy or Actress on their “pseudo-debut” 0g - self-described as a “tongue-in-cheek draft on electronic music’s metaphysics in the age of media accelerated liberalism.”
Swerving common tropes in favour of mutant, off-kilter tones, 0g has little aspiration for “brand platform or big rooms” as they put it, with production specifically attuned to “the spaces of the individual like headphones, automobiles and laptop speakers”, which is both astutely contemporary and yet fairly unique in its intentions, for techno or dance music, at least.
In that sense, 0g plays out a funky analysis or reflection of dance music’s current condition, where breathless mix-downs disrupt the democracy of sensuality and automated FX perhaps encourage a solipsistic homogeneity that refers to nothing beyond the end of its nose, whether thru ignorance or just plain stupidity, we’re not sure.
Through the EP’s seven parts, Katz and Girardin find routes beyond those binds to express a strangely absorbing narrative kicking off with the fierce velocity and insectoid disturbances of Angel Motto and taking in cranky, breakbeat-laced slugs such as Play Dead Baby and the febrile tribalism Johanis, making turns into deeper, Actress-like house abstraction on Ddeok, and invasively psychoacoustic techno with Brick People, before Coughin’ collapses into fizzy bass murk, and checking out at a squirmy IDM angle of Final S.
Make no mistake, the theory never gets in the way of the tunes or their effect, but it does come thru in the level of detail and subtly off-kilter drive.
Accompanied by texts from Frield, Karkowsi, and Brozek.
Poland’s Bocian reunite with zeitkratzer ensemble to present a difficult but hugely rewarding piece by influential Polish composer Zbigniew Karkowski, backed with Reinhold Friedl’s personal tribute to Ianis Xenakis.
Both sides contain important, demanding, and foundational works in the zeitkratzer canon, which now stretches to 15 years of neo-classical interpretation and original composition with some of extreme and forward-thinking music’s greatest.
Zbigniew Karkowski’s Monochromy - his first piece written for an orchestra - is premium brainfloss. The polish composer’s original piece proved so technically challenging that the players were left bloodied after their first, unsatisfactory recordings. But, after Karkowski reduced and rearranged those elements, the ensemble were forced into a new approach to playing and recording the piece which subsequently influenced their later recordings of other, notoriously difficult pieces. We are left with a recording of their version of Karkowski’s rework; 15 minutes of dense metallic squall and far-flung tone clusters with a buzzing sense of space that can’t be achieved with electronic instruments.
The other side, Xenakis Alive I documents an early attempt by Reinhold Friedl to pay tribute to the seminal 20th century composer by harnessing the complexity and density of his greatest work, such as Persepolis, through his preferred prepared piano technique. The results, it is safe to say, certainly live up to the vaulted, colourful brilliance of Xenakis, and Persepolis in particular, whilst also adding something new through the voluminous projection of new, nuanced studio techniques.
Your attention is required.
*An absolute find from the label that gave us Kevin Drumm's amazing 'Crowded' album last year, if you're into Mika Vainio, Eliane Radigue, Eleh, Aaron Dilloway, Holly Herndon - we urge you to check it out* The excellent Bocian imprint follows up that heavyweight Kevin Drumm LP with an engrossing split of minimal electro-acoustic composition from two Polish artists. Most impressive is Anna Zaradny's A-side, 'Octøpus'. Ostensibly static yet deftly, subtly rhythmic, it makes for a memorable first introduction; lulling us with hypnotic microtonal bass drones which grow stereo fluctuating pulses and (what might be) fragments of chiming vocals conducted with the precise, haptic electronic sensitivity of Holly Herndon and the patient development of an Eleh or Eliane Radigue recording. Depending on what element you focus on, you're either listening to thrumming bass patterns or transfixed by the fuzzy harmonic glow, but allow your ears to defocus slightly and occupy the middle ground and it makes for a wonderfully immersive, aerated and swirling concoction, timing the introduction of pensile, airborne layers and tones with a genuine sorcery. By contrast Burkhard Stangl's B-side 'Crédit' is organic, grounded, rendering shimmering guitar strokes into crushed glass textures and hovering harmonic overtones and grainy waves of bass over one extended piece. A real treat from this already promising label, highly recommended.
Experimental Polish composer Anna Zaradny practices bewitching electronic rituals in Go Go Theurgy; her first solo LP in eight years following two memorable split sides featuring Fennesz and Burkhard Stangl over the interim.
In her previous outings we were struck by Anna’s taste for dissonance and an intense, pulsating sort of feminine pressure, and find those elements in majestic effect over the two long pieces contained within this LP - only her 2nd full solo album since 2003.
Abstract in its stoic, precisely sculpted and beat-less arrangement, yet organically evolving in its layered harmonic chaos, Go Go Theurgy divines a free-floating space at once powerfully driven by rhythm, yet due to the absence of any tangible percussion defines a lush, keening, and pensile tension whose effect is only heightened when she abruptly veers off into passages of pizzicato pointillism.
It could be considered dance music in a most extreme, physical form - with proper amplification both sides have the potential to exert serious G-force torque, liberating the body from the mind, and vice versa - but the underlying structures which reveal themselves with subsequent listens also lend themselves to comparison with proper classical music, especially in the staggering, Wagnerian turn of phrase that cleaves side two, before it calves into an almost asphyxiating, head-curdling final passage.
Really impressive stuff.
Andy Lyster’s Youth label wrest four stripes of punky blooze from Shamos, who steers away from the rugged house knocks of his Apron 12”s to nervier, faded headpieces in YO2TH.
Acquainted thru London’s NTS studio, Lyster and Shamos have conspired to reveal alternate aspects of the latter’s aesthetic, sidewinding from what sounds like one of Delroy Edwards’ Teenage Tapes cuts in the grungy wave stepper Found Grace to Lukid-esque alien tribalism in 13213132, then with a gristly, blank-eyed slug of EBM in TMF, and desiccated Detroit boogie in Nuws.
Bocian Records give Kevin Drumm’s grim archival piece gtr/synth 2000 some room to breathe on tape, presenting the full 40 minute work which was excerpted as Old Shit on Drumm’s Necro-Acoustic boxset.
Compared with the pensive hi-register focus of his recently reissued Interference, for example, this is a much older, tempestuous Drumm working in the bowels of his sound, eking out a grittily textured roil of guitar and synth in a way that defined his late ‘90s explorations of the guitar as a member of the forward-facing Chicago school.
To be specific, he uses prepared guitar and analog synthesiser here to create an immersive tangle of atonal shards and viscous drone, the sort of stuff that feels like committing yourself to a pool of quicksand in the hope that there’s something worth it below the surface.
What occurs down there is a lightless and intensely physical experience, as though systematically dissolving your flesh and bones thru attrition into you’re nourishing the earth around your emulsifying cadaver.
Breathtaking slab of the black stuff from peerless drone/noise (de)composer Kevin Drumm - with "spectral editing and time domain consultation" by Russell Haswell. We shouldn't need to tell you that this is a big deal. But, in case you're a bit daft; it is. Haswell helps out on the wormholing A-side 'Repetitive Algae'; a single tract of cacophonous, morphing rhythmic noise reminding of Philip Corner's 'Coldwater Basin' - a home recording of cold water running from a faucet into a basin - but metaphorically replacing the cold water with shards of gravel, and the basin with a cement mixer, resulting a seemingly endless circular churn of psychedelic noise, accentuated in no small part by Haswell's astonishingly spacious "spectral editing and time domain consultation' render. The B-side 'Rediki' starts out with the distanced sound of buckling, wrenched, and torrid guitar distortion before invading your space with resonant subbass drones and shrill highs which recede and spill forth in lysergic waves of intensity until a final blowout of jet propelled distortion that's just left us decked. This is just so damn heavy...!!!
Proper, freeform brainfloss from two of Scandinavia's most active and important noise freaks. 'The Oslo Tapes' was recorded at "the best studio" in the Norwegian capital on 15th August, 2013 and has matured ripe for release in '15, yielding a crushed collision of honking sax particles and deft concrète haptics, incessantly shredding in flux between dimensions with scurrying scrabble and scree as chaotic and messily intricate as the unspooled tapes on the front cover. A record to get your teeth into/to pull teeth to.
*Joachim Nordwall and Henrik Rylander return with this incredibly heavy drone-noise session under the 'Saturn and the Sun’ moniker* Crushing, celestial sized drone objects from Nordwall and Rylander here, sheathed in absorbing artwork by Martin Jacobsen. 'Journey to the Center of Your Mind' projects three concentrated, irradiating beams of Scandinavian drone noise intensity recorded at Studio Dental, Gothenburg. As with the artwork, the music could just as easily be said to describe a regression to some medieval uchronia, or a premonition of post apocalyptic soundscapes, crunching bones underfoot as we trek the great expanse of 'Journey to the Center of Your Mind' engulfed by flaming synthesisers and steadied by entrenched bass drone across the A-side. Turn over and the inferno gives way to desolate, eviscerated electronic extrusions recalling a saltier Alessandro Cortini in 'Obsession', before the final and best piece, 'Inner Eye' swells with eschatological intent to a chokingly dense finale of buzzing, hellishly pregnant synth noise. Heavyweight.
A ghostly, pastoral pop bewt from Belgium’s Okraina Records, Delphine Dora & Mocke’s debut collaboration is what wet summers were made for: staying indoors and indulging your sweetest pop folk-pop tooth.
As the latest 2 x 10”s from the charmingly precious Okraina label, the etheric coos and jangles of Le Corps Défendant joins a small but perfectly formed cast to follow-up Delphine & Eloïse Decazes Folk Songs Cycle and La Maison d’Amour’s persian classical pursuits with a hushed and rustling set informed by late night jazz and classical as folk, country, and presumably the psilocybin experience.
“There is something special about when artists like these collaborate. Two independent talents, both completely self-sufficient choosing to come together and see what happens, to let the muses mingle and share the results with the rest of us. What we have here, however, is not some quick jam caught on tape but a long distance collaboration carefully put together over three years. The result is something that gives us a broad overview of the two talents spotlighted here, showcasing many different moods, sounds and styles. Created like an exquisite corpse story they sent each other music to work on with no instructions or suggestions, just some inspiring mix tapes of everyone from Duke Ellington to Harry Patch. They clearly found their way.
As well as her own music (which ended up on Pitchfork’s best of 2015 list), Delphine runs the excellent Wild Silence record label. As well as being a solo artist, Mocke has played with the likes of Arlt, Holden and Midget !
On this record, Mocke plays the guitar and Delphine sings and plays everything else. He’s one hell of a guitar player, bringing to mind Loren Connors, John Fahey and anyone who ever took a six string and mastered it their own damn way. Delphine sings sweetly, sometimes from classic texts or as a glossolalia (divinely expressing without words), though to a non-French speaker you would swear was some lost classic pop song reinterpreted in her own style.
Both Delphine and Mocke are originally from Paris but both have long since left, Mocke for Brussels and Delphine for the deepest French countryside. That difference can be found in their music. Mocke’s music is urbane with a touch of inner-city paranoia. Delphine’s music always sounds isolated in a big landscape. They compliment each other as opposites.
Like all Okraina releases, the stunning artwork is by Gwénola Carrère and I can’t think of anyone better suited to try and encapsulate this stunningly varied and vivid album. The title does not translate to English as it is a poetic corruption of a common phrase. I think something similar happened to common music on this album. Ned Netherwood, Was Ist Das?
If you’ve ever wondered what Google streetcar’s dreams sound like, we implore you to check David Burraston’s beguiling FLD RCRD, the first of two remarkable new NYZ albums for Entr’acte.
As Dave Noyze, Noyzelab or just NYZ, the award-winning sound artist/scientist is regarded among the most inquisitive minds working with algorithmic music and electronics right now. He’s perhaps best known for the remarkably in-depth Syrobonkers! interview with Aphex Twin, whilst in recent years a brilliant glut of his material has turned up on tapes and download for Computer Club, Meds and Gamma Mine that rank among the strangest releases we’ve heard this decade. To put it plainly, if you’ve ever been wowed by music from Roland Kayn to Autechre, AFX or Lee Gamble, you really need to hear FLD RCRD!
Collated over five years, the research documented on FLD RCRD is typically varied, combining many strands of Burraston’s praxis - sound installations, self-built synthesisers, and interests in chaos/complexity theory - in four varying degrees of flux. Blending real location recordings with studio recordings of his Cellular Automata - an algorithmic system used to trigger and modulate FX - Burraston subconsciously breaks down distinctions between artificial and actual, hypothetical and hyperstitional with a genuine sort of electro-acoustic alchemy in three algorithmic parts, plus a fourth cut of hyperreal, yet untreated, field recordings making for comparably stark contrast.
On two parts, FLD RCRDST::On Walden Snow and the 20 minute FLD RCRDST::FM80PcellorgNSW he mixes location recordings with studio recordings of Cellular Automata playing and sequencing his synths and FX, whereas CPM DRNL is a completely artificial simulation of imaginary space brought to life by his Cellular Automata, and for a strong, if subtle contrast, Lindisfarne Refuge Hut presents real, untreated recordings containing no additives - just the uncannily hyperreal sound of birds, vehicles and the North Sea.
In concept, the recordings live somewhere between Burraston’s unprocessed telephone wire recordings, made with Alan Lamb in his native NSW region for Taiga Records, and the sort of playfully curdled algorithmic results found on his ALG 118B tape; effectively activating his panoramic screen grabs with a sort of rudimentary artificial intelligence so they end up crawling with strange, plasmic figures and fractals in a way that recalls a synaesthetic allegory to Google’s deep dream images. Especially when held up against the vividly textured audness of the untreated third track, it all makes for some of the most compelling, beguiling music we’ve heard this decade.
These are sounds much lesser heard or seen, vividly describing and bringing to life a series of spaces and places with the sense of wonder that we’d imagine was experienced by, and drove, important tonal explorers such as Stockhausen, Gottfried Michael Koenig or Roland Kayn in their respective days, right thru to their modern antecedents in Chris Watson, Autechre or Russell Haswell.
Prins Thomas provides a thorough, kraut-ish, cosmic-styled overhaul of Dungen’s Häxan, a soundtrack to the 1929 animation film ‘Adventures of Prince Achmed’
“With ‘Versions By’ Prins Thomas takes Dungen on a journey down a new winding road; 17 minute epics, wide open spaces, Balearic ambience, psychedlia, all things cosmic and Kraut grooves. Or as the sleeve notes remark; "recorded, remixed, rearranged, chopped, screwed, glued and partially reproduced with love by Prins Thomas".
The record is woven together with the same stitch as his seminal mix-albums ‘Cosmic Galactic Prism’ and ‘Paradise Goulash’, creating the perfect flow, way beyond a mix. It’s obvious Prins Thomas has been enjoying himself with the original analogue tapes of the record.
“Dungen has long been one of my favourite bands. Their music is a daily staple in the house, so much so that even my 3 year old daughter recognises any Dungen record from the first few seconds playing. If there's any ‘dream comes true’s’ left, having Joakim (Smalltown Supersound founder) request a remix for them comes close. The tracks in question was the music for the 1929 animation film Adventures of Prince Achmed, the music that later became the Häxan album. With all the possibilities AND the limitations these tapes had it would be easy to get lost on the way… and of course, it DID get totally out of hand and I ended up with over an hour of recorded material. It has to be pointed out, this is NOT a ‘Dungen’ album, but more like an exploration of the raw material. In some places only using a single sound or two to construct something new, in other places just rearranging sections of songs. Hope you all enjoy hearing this record heard through a new set of ears.” – Prins Thomas”
At long f**king last, DJ Bone’s stone cold Metroplex classic sees reissue on Anotherday for its 18th birthday, putting one of the deadliest Detroit electro-techno 12”s back into circulation for a new generation and those who’ve worn theirs to the bone (pun intended).
Riding The Thin Line notably features two cuts that were integral to DJ Bone’s seminal and incredible Subject: Detroit Volume 2 mix, namely Shut The Lights Off, a slamming tribal tool with stentorian vocals and utterly spine-freezing pads that get us every time, and the body messing acid-electro hydraulics of The Funk, which is pretty much a definitive answer to the question, what is Detroit electro?
Factor in the floating peak time pressure of The Haunting, pitch it all to about +4, and you’ve basically got an unmissable 12” for any self-respecting Detroit fiend.
Bardo Pond and Yo La Tengo have long travelled in similar circles as underground lifers, but have never shared space on a non-compilation release.
"Three Lobed Recordings is ecstatic to dedicate one of the albums of the Parallelogram collection to righting this cosmic wrong. Bardo’s “Screens For A Catch (Fur Bearing Eyes)” contains top shelf representations of all of the signature sonic elements that have long-since endeared this band to so many. In addition to the careful interplay of Gibbons brothers’ guitars, Isobel Sollenberger’s other-worldly vocal delivery, the unlike-anyone-else wall of sound, and the multi-phase, suite-like arrangement, this track sees new twists – such as Clint Takeda’s vocal harmonies – come into play. The eternally chameleonic Yo La Tengo exerts a certain mastery with respect to long-form songs. “Electric Eye,” the band’s immersive and heavy contribution to this LP, is a worthy addition to this portion of their canon. Georgia Hubley lays down a feral and commanding groove that glues together equal parts raw guitar phrasing with low end swirls. So hypnotic, and such a treat.
The Parallelogram collection originated in the particular magic that comes from finding the *right* musical pairing. We’ve all experienced the perfect song at the perfect time and know how electrifying it can be. The set and setting that combine to make those jukebox choices, mix tapes, or playlists really work can be so hard to define, but easy to identify once they are out there in the wild. Part of the fun for Three Lobed Recordings has always been trying to divine the alchemy of pairings that work to our ears. These efforts have time and time again taken the form of collections and collaborations, both as multi-volume releases (ranging from the trio of multi-disc series to the Not The Spaces You Know, But Between Them box set) and single albums (such as the collaborative albums from Golden Gunn or the Hagerty-Toth Band to the Eight Trails, One Path compilation). With this thought in mind, Three Lobed proudly presents Parallelogram, a collection of five carefully assembled split albums celebrating complementary musical pairings.”
Arch electro-acoustic drone/noise explorer Kevin Drumm returns to 'Imperial Distortion'-alike drone scapes on this abridged (3 tracks instead of 4) vinyl issue of his 2013 CDr release, 'Phantom Jerk'. Using six oscillators, Drumm casts a shadow world of sedentary low end sag and keening, glassy highs as haunting as they are piercingly compelling. The 23 minute A-side moves as slowly and furtively as anything from his modern classic, 'Imperial Distortion' for Hospital Productions, leading us thru successively dank, cold antechambers of isolated, wavering frequencies arranged with stoic logic. The B-side opens with a shorter, redemptive piece, almost painful in its achingly bittersweet beauty, and culminates in a thirteen minute piece of glacially layered, acrid tones yielding a spectrum of smeared, wide bass and beautifully hypnotic high end discord.
The self-titled collaborative album was first hinted at in an interview with Mark Kozelek in the January 2015 and finally confirmed on twitter later that year.That album grew out of a long-standing relationship between Broadrick and Kozelek.
"Kozelek first approached Broadrick in 2007 about a release through his label, after being impressed by a live performance in San Francisco. In 2009 Jesu released Opiate Sun through Caldo Verde Records (owned by Kozelek), and later the same year Broadrick interviewed Kozelek for the Caldo Verde website.
In 2013, Kozelek covered Broadrick's band Godflesh's song "Like Rats". Broadrick and Godflesh are mentioned in "The Possum", the opening track from Sun Kil Moon's 2015 album Universal Themes"
Scandinavian noise mavericks Mats Gustafson & Joachim Nordwall plot a strange cartography of pseudo ethnic gestures and torrential rhythmic noise in A Map Of Guilt for Poland’s Bocian Records.
The original recordings were made at Garnison7, Vienna in 2013, mixed by Nordwall in 2015, and mastered in 2016, meaning they’ve been curing, so to speak, for nearly a year by now.
The results tap into a latent, ancient but timeless energy that lies at the core of the two collaborator’s best work, modulating the transfer of current and psychic energies between what sounds like pygmy jazz played on drainpipes in the likes of The Smell On Her Arms and Already Cold. Unprepared, to the more expansive tract of pulsating bass and howling chant in the title track, and a series of more condensed, surreal arabesques recalling Rashad Becker’s hypothetical creatures in Approaching and She Denied The Grass Getting Heavier, saving their crankiest jaunt for last with the feral swamp throng of Marks Covered By Wet Cloth.
Glacial Dancehall is the slowest dancehall mixtape ever heard. Culled from his private 7" archives, each side figures dancehall mutations, pitched and screwed by Jay Glass Dubs' hardware acceleration.
For fans of records on the wrong speed, Rhythm & Sound’s slittiest grooves, or DJ Screw, it doesn’t get much more potent than this, a seriously red-eyed stagger thru Jay Glass Dubs’ personal record collection.
Operating at a muggy 60bpm-ish, spotters will definitely have fun attempting to correct the selections for speed in their notebooks, while everyone else is sure to be seduced by the knackered tempo and blunted vibes, allowing for X amounta noise and clag and slurred voices spun out thru the echoplex.
Don’t miss out a 2nd time around!
"Dedicated to my least favorite thing in the world, humidity." Hospital Productions present densely collaged field recordings and drones by master experimentalist Kevin Drumm, originally issued in edition of 20 CDrs. The first part alternates between close mic'd scuttles, city noise and microtonal drone fluctuations. His 2nd is angrier, frustrated and intense.
Butterfred crawl back out of their smoky hole with a 2nd, ruffer EP lending a rusty industrial tang to their dubbed dancehall-grime mutations found on EP1.
EP2 kicks off with squashed vocals samples and slack drums in Toast sounding a rugged NYC/JA style, and the cavernous, empty-belly dancehall clang of Slick Butter recalls that ace Mars67 12”, but again with some illbient flavour in its silty chords.
Tim Hecker had proven himself to be one of the great survivors of 90s electronic music. While he might have only surfaced at the tail-end of the ailing IDM scene, Hecker’s distinctly original brand of rich, textured ambient music set him apart from his peers.
Many have tried to emulate his sound, but few have come close, and while he peaked with the punishingly noisy and effortlessly beautiful ‘Mirages’ a few years back, his subsequent flirtations with a quieter, more meditative sound have been similarly arresting.
Unusually, ‘Ravedeath, 1972’ sees Hecker moving away from his comfort zone and collaborating with one of the very people who attempted a second-wave of the Hecker grit, grind and harmony – Ben Frost. This is a move which saw Hecker up sticks and fly over to Iceland, where he proceeded to record the album over a handful of days using a pipe organ. Frost clearly adds some of his production expertise (he moonlights as an engineer) and with this there can be no doubt that ‘Ravedeath,1972’ is the most hi-fi album in Tim Hecker’s discography to date.
The sound that Hecker has made his own is now reproduced in High Definition, billowing with basses dribbling and treble firing with slick precision. The powerful pipe organ sound underpins everything; coughing, wheezing and stuttering beneath Hecker’s expertly crafted granular sounds like the ghost of the Catholic church itself.
At times it might simply appear in amongst a cloud of white noise, and at others there is only the familiar shadowy blast, shrouded in the trappings of morals and dogma. Pitting his knowledge and skill against that of Ben Frost has yielded an album’s worth of crushing, near-spiritual sound, making for a compelling, immersive listen. Highly Recommended.
Not a band who ever do things by halves, this opus from Stars Of The Lid is a mammoth three disc set and is sublime for the entire duration.
You see, although some might level that Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride have really stuck to the same style since their inception, they have been moving steadily forward with each release and have gone from whispering post-shoegaze guitar drones to something altogether more grandiose.
It would be crass to describe the music as cinematic, but the first thing that strikes me about "And their Refinement of the Decline' is its similarity to the work of Zbigniew Preisner and specifically his work with film director Krzysztof Kieslowski. Stars of the Lid share Preisner's (and Kieslowski's) sense of restraint, minimalism and stark beauty without resorting to sentimentalism. What we have here is beautiful music in its rawest form - horns, strings and that haunting reverb-drenched guitar all perfectly placed and allowed time to breathe. Nothing here is rushed, you hear passages rise and fall gloriously, sounds make an entrance and slowly disappear and nothing ever dares to outstay its welcome.
Arvo Part, Gavin Bryars or Brian Eno would all be more than appropriate comparisons for this stunning collection of work, but Stars of the Lid are almost at the point where they defy comparison altogether. Of course they have introduced further, more overtly 'classical' elements into their mix but the music they are making is quite uniquely their own - they are one of those rare bands that has absolutely defined a sound. What we are hearing is frankly two musicians who are at the top of their game, sharing their carefully measured view of the world with us and allowing us a peek into musical perfection - and you really can't ask for anything more than that.
Physical Therapy's Allergy Season introduce a fine turn from Max McFerren and Blondes with 'Monk's Mood' arriving in the wake of his 12"s for Ultimate Hits and 1080p.
It's a melancholy party session; coaxing us into swanging house mode with the siren vox and sloping subs of 'Hunting' before giving us something to dance to with the crooked syncopation and swaying harmonics of 'Monk's Mood'.
'With All My Sophistications' ratchets an old skool acid techno on the other side hearkening back to Josh Wink and AFx with a sly wink, leaving Blondes Sam Haar and Zach Steinman to extract and condense an even darker, tripping vibe from the elements of 'Hunting'.
Orginially released on Sub Rosa in 2000, in between the band's 'Per Aspera Ad Astra' and 'The Tired Sounds of...' albums, this classic Stars of the Lid release has been out of print for years.
Now available again courtesy of kranky (coinciding nicely with the release of Stars of the Lid member Adam Wiltzie's sublime debut album under The 'Dead Texan' moniker and the release of Kranky's excellent second label compilation), "Avec Laudenum' is another mesmerising document of this indispensable band's low-level prowess.
Minimal yet full to bursting with melodic undertones, "Avec Laudenum" is an album that's widely regarded as possibly the band's most accessible work, immersive music that requires your immediate attention.
Tim Hecker has established himself as one of the foremost electronic producers around, having released classics like Radio Amor and Harmony In Ultraviolet under his own name whilst busying himself with his Jetone side project and a recently founded collaborative venture with Aidan Baker (check out the excellent Fantasma Parastasie album from a few months back).
An Imaginary Country is another solid example of swirling textures and elusive auditory weirdness. The key to Hecker's unique sound is his uncanny knack for pushing sound mixes to breaking point without ever quite launching into all out distortion. Instead there's an uneasy equilibrium established on the divide between chaos and serenity - part noise album, part ambient exercise.
Even in the most ferocious moments of An Imaginary Country ('Where Shadows Make Shadows' and '200 Years Ago) there's always an underlying emotional pull guiding your ears through the typhoon of overtones and feedback signals. Pieces like 'Borderlands' offer subdued clarity, permitting a certain amount of melodically-engaged calm between the more effervescent compositions:
'A Stop At The Chord Cascades' is majestic and imposing, while elsewhere 'The Inner Shore' and 'Paragon Point' overspill with harmonically entangled activity. An Imaginary Country finds Hecker building on the momentum established by prior releases, continuing to forge a path that's all his own.
Listening to this latest album from Liz Harris’ Grouper project it’s easy to forget how much of a hard sell her music was back when 'Way Their Crept’ landed with us back in 2005.
Her eerie, layered mix of bare vocals, guitar and tape delay didn't quite fit in with what anyone else was really doing on the scene back then - and it completely knocked us out even if no one was buying it. By the time her breakthrough ‘Dragging a Dead Deer…’ arrived on Type three years later she was more or less playing to a baying mob hungry for any little morsel she cared to throw their way, her (by now) more fleshed out shoegaze variants marking her out as a natural outsider who had managed to tap into some kind of collective melancholy, her songs both hugely affecting and yet somehow emotionally opaque. Last year’s 'The Man Who Died In His Boat’ collected previously unreleased material from the ‘Dead Deer’ era and, despite it essentially being an assembly of offcuts, still managed to sound as coherent and bewitching as any of her ardent followers might have imagined. ‘Ruins’ is Harris' first new album proper in several years and - to no one’s surprise - is just utterly sublime.
The opening and closing tracks excepted, Harris’ instrument of choice here is the upright Piano, delivering a sequence of songs that feel utterly bereft and lonely, intended by Harris as “...a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love.” There are also found sounds (you can here a microwave switching itself back on after a powercut in the background), and the room recordings lend an effervescent quality to the recordings that somehow magnify the sense of timelessness. ‘Ruins' is book-ended by two instrumental pieces, the pulsating field recorded opener ‘Made of Metal’ and the 11 minute closer ‘Made of Air’, an instrumental, ambient piece recorded at her mother's house way back in 2004. Together, these tracks make for another sublime 40 minutes spent in Liz Harris’ company, a precious distraction from the clutter and noise of the outside world.
Exquisite hyaline electronics from the quieter ends of Kevin Drumm’s mind.
“Five sequentially numbered pieces of phantom electronics, preceded by an opener/overture that pulls you right in, appropriately entitled Intro. An aural investigation, down the rabbit hole. This is KD to the bone. Essential.”
While the filtered, tape-fuelled obfuscation of Grouper's signature sound remains, Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill is far more resonant up front about the songs at the heart of her work.
Opening track 'Disengaged' offers a segue from the cloudy, amorphous Grouper output of old and this current strain of more easily deciphered writing: it's a mass of mesmerising magnetic hiss and soft noise, with a voice cloaked in lo-fi haze somewhere at the back. Soon after, Harris' guitar and voice emerge, reverberant and phantom-like, and yet comprehensible.
If previously you've struggled to make out Grouper lyrics, and wondered what's going on beneath that veneer of musty, degraded audio, 'Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping' offers you a way in. Those dense recording techniques have become a unique production signature and it's virtually impossible to separate Liz Harris' creative identity from that uniquely ghostly sound of hers, but now it feels like a conduit to her songs rather than a barrier. There are echoes of her earliest work on the album too, as on the wordless, partially acappella atmospherics of 'Wind & Snow', but the overall impression left by this album is one of inspired creative renewal, and the unveiling of a songwriting talent that's previously been content to dwell in shadows and deflect attention with smoke and mirrors.
A real milestone release for Harris, and a definite high point for the rejuvenated Type label, we've been unable to stop listening to this incredible album for weeks - it's an absolute must.
Jeff Parker is a member of the genre-splitting outfit Tortoise and has also played in the Chicago Underground Quartet/Trio, as well as the fusion leaning Isotope 217.
Parker is one independent jazz's most in-demand guitarists He is widely considered it's most versatile guitarist and is gigging constantly throughout the world. The Relatives is Jeff Parker's first solo record on Thrill Jockey, but his second solo record to date. The first was released on legendary Blues and Jazz label, Delmark.
This is a gorgeous record, opening up with the wondrous "Istanbul", most reminiscent of the backing to Sam Prekop's amazing self titled debut album. Although the jazz sequencing here is often the central focus, there's enough of the quiet post rock tradition to remind you of Jeff's dayjob - something that imbues this album with the cross-generic appeal Thrill Jockey so often excel at.
An eye-opening set of experimental electronic recordings made in the early 1970's by Italy's Teresa Rampazzi (1914-2001) - only the second collection of her work made available for public consumption - and an indispensible, crucial artefact if you're interested in the recordings of Daphne Oram, Tod Dockstader, Eliane Radigue or Delia Derbyshire.
As with the spellbinding Musica Endoscopica, this issue of Immagini Per Diana Baylon - one of her three known soundtracks for art installations - helps to place Teresa as Italy’s answer to Daphne Oram; that is, a pioneering female experimenter operating in a male dominated field since the ’50s, and an artist/musician/technician who was magnetically drawn to the emerging possibilities of analogue electronics (although she would also expand into computer composition as soon as the opportunity arose).
The 31’ 50” piece is cleft in two parts but was apparently intended to be looped for 180 minutes. Using analogue electronics as a malleable form or presence, like light itself, to subtly illuminate the pieces, and in turn create rich imagery in negative relief of the mind’s eye. The first side flows with an alien yet folksy, almost sing-song cadence, whereas the 2nd part really seems to conjure a more intense, head-long sort of e/motion from static sources, leading up to one remarkably sweet, harmonic passage that feels almost like a premonition of new age minimalism, before closing with a tract of needling, rapidly fluctuating timbres.
The coruscating, mirage-like sounds in Immagini Per Diana Baylon reflect a close understanding between both artist’s disciplines. As Teresa remarked in her notes; “The work is made of a series of sound events, with informal and aleatory features, in a continuous flux, and there is no planned predetermination in any of the various sections. This choice has been made for the sound space to adjust to the sculptor’s plastic and loose images.”
Diana’s anodised aluminium and iron on stone pieces, depicted in the accompanying insert, look to us like alien glyphs, aztec runes or debris from a space station that somehow managed to survive reentry to earth’s atmosphere, as Teresa agrees and expanded upon in 1974: “In her later artworks the objects of Diana Baylon are definitely taking flight - as if they has just gone through dense layers of atmosphere, as though they did so with the same intent… there are secret numerical ratios, symmetries not symmetrical, geometric shapes which escape the definitions of perception…”. That could arguably be a description of Teresa’s soundtrack, too.
This is definitely sound, or music, for art’s sake, as opposed to say the commercially-minded experiments of Suzanne Ciani over in America during the same era. Yet we can draw a line between the two via the balance of sleek sensitivity to timbre and austere geometry in Diana’s sculptures and Daphne Oram’s image-into-sound Oramics; a willingness and proclivity to explore synaesthetic relationships in a way which is nigh on impossible to articulate but which has provided this listener with goosebumps several times over.
Either way, it's is a recording of historical, experimental significance and a thing of great beauty - we urge you to investigate.
For his sixth album Tim Hecker sticks to more organic, muted colours.
It's a sign of creative maturity and marks a welcome move away from the Fennesz-style layered glitchscapes that have dominated his back-catalogue. It's hard to tell exactly how these drone tapestries are woven together; the granular laptop trickery of old is virtually undetectable and the source instruments detuned and dissolved to the point of blissful obscurity.
Opening with the elegiac strains of 'Rainbow Blood', Hecker eases the listener into his melancholy new sound-world before launching into the curiously titled, 'Stags, Aircraft, Kings and Secretaries' with a flickering percussive urgency. Somewhere within the digital fog you can just about discern the occasional glisten of guitar strings.
Next up is 'Chimeras', its slow motion synth arpeggios providing a rare glimpse of overt melodicism, a property which, though ever-present on this album, tends to be restrained - even buried.
That said, filtered and faded as they may be, Hecker's compositions always manage to reveal an emotive core beneath the static. You can understand why Kranky snapped up Tim Hecker: Harmony In Ultraviolet sits comfortably next to material by the likes of Keith Fullerton Whitman, Stars Of The Lid and Loscil, while retaining Hecker's unmistakeable trademarks, that minor key grandeur atop relentless waves of crumbling sonic detritus.
Room40 pair two much-loved and out-of-print Tim Hecker pieces on vinyl to mark the label's 15th year of editions and events.
The A-side finds Tim bunkered in the mine shaft at Sweden's Norberg festival on July 30th, 2005, where he coaxes out some 20 minutes of pealing chimes and reverberant cacophony making intrinsic use of the space's natural acoustics. After 10 years, thankfully 'Norberg' makes its first appearance on vinyl here.
On the other side we find the succinctly emotive eight minutes of 'Apondalifa', presenting its frayed ribbon of oxidising strings and electronics in its entirety for the first time (it was previously broken in two parts over a 7" in 2010).
If you're only familiar with Tim's better known work, this is a perfect stopgap in lieu of a new LP. Highly recommended!
A companion to his acclaimed Ravedeath 1972 set, Dropped Pianos collects sketches for that album recorded by Tim Hecker last year.
While on paper it might sound like something for completists only, trust us when we tell you that this LP is a beguiling listen in its own right: shorn of the disruptive electronic processing which defined Ravedeath, what you get instead is a series of exquisitely reverbed and layered piano instrumentals which showcase Hecker's gift for minimalist composition and mournful melody.
Richly evocative of rainy, post-war cityscapes, of mortality and of thwarted romance, it's another masterful offering from an artist at the top of his game.
Following a series of impossible-to-obtain releases for her own Yellowelectric imprint and a CD compilation of her gorgeous 'A I A' set, Liz Harris seems to have settled with Kranky who are re-releasing her classic Type album 'Dragging a Dead Deer..' and this new album of previously unreleased material drawn from the same period: 'The Man Who Died In His Boat'.
It's not so hard to believe but we'll say this straight away - the material on this new set is just jaw-dropping, a worthy companion piece to 'Dragging a Dead Deer' - once again finding Harris delivering material edging ever so slightly towards more traditional 'songs' but executed with so much introspection and mystery that she really sounds unlike anyone, or anything, you'll have ever heard before. The record has an interesting backstory, as Harris explains - "When I was a teenager the wreckage of a sailboat washed up on the shore of Agate Beach.
The remains of the vessel weren't removed for several days. I walked down with my father to peer inside the boat cabin. Maps, coffee cups and clothing were strewn around inside. "I remember looking only briefly, wilted by the feeling that I was violating some remnant of this man's presence by witnessing the evidence of its failure. Later I read a story about him in the paper. It was impossible to know what had happened. The boat had never crashed or capsized. He had simply slipped off somehow, and the boat, like a riderless horse, eventually came back home." The narrative somehow enhances the songs - an achingly beautiful combination of forlorn, reverb-drenched lullabies draped in a veil of isolation reminding us of a more damaged Mark Kozelek, and indeed the classic 4AD sound with which Grouper has been compared so many times in the past.
By the time you reach the closing track 'Living Room', however, you come to the realisation that despite her best efforts to obscure her songs, Harris might just be one of the most gifted songwriters of her generation. An incredible album - possibly her finest yet.
Tim Hecker exchanges bombast for intimacy on his follow-up to 'Ravedeath, 1972' and his 'Instrumental Tourist' with Daniel "OPN" Lopatin.
Using the gristly, naked grain and off-key, out-of-phase accents of woodwinds, piano and synthesizer played by an ensemble including Ben Frost and Valgeir Sigurdsson, and heightened by his studio alchemy, Hecker highlights tense, almost fraught relationships between all involved with visceral, keening dissonance approaching a narcotic potency when experienced over the full duration of the album.
He makes allusions to the ascetic, theological aspiration of early minimalism yet pulls back from full blown prostration, instead preferring a more impressionistic approach focussed on capturing atmosphere, sensation and synaesthetic qualities and connotations. For us, the results are more richly satisfying and intimately romantic than being punched in the face with blooming harmonics that scream "bow down, hear how f**king beautful I am!". ..
Keith Fullerton Whitman never ceases to impress with his seemingly endless understanding of musical references and ability to flit from the most personally affecting music to constructions of an altogether more playful nature.
His "Playthroughs" album for Kranky is still one of the most played entries in our late-night listening pile and so every new release graced with his name is a bit of an event for us.
"Schoner Flussengel" is another vinyl-only release, following up last year's excellent "Antithesis" LP, stretching into six tracks of dense layering and momentarily spacious acoustic sequencing.Utilising processed, textured drones to computer-guitar-piano trio, two of the tracks here also feature the vcs3 synthesizer recorded at Soma in Chicago during 2001 with the aid of Casey Rice and John McEntire (Tortoise).
This amazing triple album features a six suite work featuring Requiem For Dying Mothers, Austin Texas Mental Hospital, Broken Harbors, Mullholland, Piano Aquieu, Ballad Of Distances and A Lovesong (For Cubs)+.
Their usual minimal sound palette is expanded this time with the inclusion of strings, horns and piano in addition to guitars and field recordings. A personal innerspace that's relaxed, poised and breathtakingly beautiful.
Antithesis is taken from Keith Fullerton Whitman archives, featuring ensemble works featuring instruments played by Whitman himself with no computer interaction.
Each piece was recorded in one of the different apartments Whitman has rented since he lived in Boston and broadens the instrumental and compositional base of 'Playthroughs' with fender rhodes piano, viola, guitar and percussion.
The four tracks on the album verge from straight up drone to what sound like lost krautrock classics.
Stylish, characterful cold wave EBM for the ‘floor and dim bedrooms
“Third full length album by Circa Tapes (solo project of Adam Killing of Kill Memory Crash). Following excellent previous releases on Romance Moderne and DKA, this third album displays the evolution of Killing’s spot on ability to masterfully blend dark early 80s synth, industrial and cold wave into a completely new entity. Much heavier and wonderfully darker, this LP will appeal to fans of classics like Cabaret Voltaire and Skinny Puppy, as well as cutting edge EBM contemporaries such as Broken English Club, Boy Harsher and other cold wave / industrial hybrids.”
Incredibly rich, sumptuous album from Tim Hecker, layering his particular blend of organic ambience with slivers of piano, found sounds and the quiet hum of abandoned machinery.
Playing counterpart to the processed acoustic transmissions of Fennesz, Hecker takes a much darker route, only offering relief from the mass of textures he concocts with deep buried remnants of melody and light. As a follow-up to Mille Plateaux's sublime "Radio Amor", "Mirages" is an even more majestic album, striding with a confident heaviness further out into the wilderness, deep into the night.
The scene: the welsh mountains, remote and harsh, a good place to produce a special album. Volker Bertelmann on pianos as well as bass from Stefan Schneider of Mapstation and To Rococo Rot, and a deftest trace of processing, barely discernible.
This is tender, highly personal music, simply because it has always been there in some shape or form, because it has always been important. Think Satie, 'Koln Konzert' or perhaps even Bill Evans at his most european and romantic.
The title points to the fact that this luscious album deals with the big stuff, not just finger exercises or background muzak. “Substantial” is based upon improvisation - each track is based upon an opening sequence, the theme of which is extended, modulated and varied, with no specific objective in mind. What emerges is music of substance: eleven atmospheric pieces allowed to break into consciousness, gently searing images with narrative depth unfold; double bass or vibraphone appear, at once lending a hint of pop, but at no time detracting from the central instrument.
In 5 gripping excerpts of Marco Fusinato’s Spectral Arrows: Venice, Bocian render highlights of what was presumably an incredibly intense performance at the Venice Buennale, 2015.
Expect a torrent of guitar feedback sculpture in the manner of Thurston Moore or Merzbow at the eye of the storm, fulminating pure and unadulterated atonality from every pore with a head-cleaving keen in the 2nd part and a spirit-cleansing evisceration in the 4th.
Not for the casual listener.
Huerco S. services Dan Lopatin’s Software imprint with his debut album proper, following that seductive, rep-making trio of EPs on Wicked Bass, Opal Tapes / Boomkat Editions and Future Times.
It’s top-drawer stuff, taking the new age ambience and rugged, smoke-choked house rhythms du jour and turning them inside out, opening up new zones of dubwise introspection. ‘Plucked From The Ground, Towards The Sun’ is a 90s Chain Reaction cut inspected through a smeared microscope lens, but it’s the minor key shifts and almost Autechre-ish edits of ‘Quivira’ that really get the show on the road, building to ‘Anagramme Of My Love', the oneiric house choppage of ‘linzhiid’ and the Newworldaquarium-esque codeine boogie of ‘Ragtime U.S.A. (Warning)’ - a total killer. Sure there’s a lot of stuff like this around at the moment, but the Kansan man brings both a precision and a nonchalant narcotic swagger to proceedings that sets him apart from the pack. Really good stuff.