BNJMN makes a diverse debut incision on Tresor with four tracks spanning gauzy, beat-less synth gaze (Overskies, Enceladus), bitterest electro (Hadal Zone), and, at its best, a nerve-biting noise techno alignment (Syzygy).
Bambooman wickedly freshens up his palette to ear + booty-snagging effect on this winner for Matthew Herbert’s yung Accidental Jnr label.
Stepping out of the garage/hip hop paradigm and into a more inquisitive, new zones of polymetric measures and of kilter harmonics, yet without losing the subtly swung charm of his earlier releases, Bambooman embraces the present future with style in the four tracks of Shudder.
The title track lives up to its mantle with a lean display of nipped, recursive rhythms that sounds like a Beatrice Dillon groove filleted by Gábor Lázár. The combination of rude swagger, vocal stabs and slicing chords in Grasp is a little more conventional, perhaps closer to recent Joy Orbison gear, for example, whilst M1 turns back to the kind of fresh, metallic shimmy also explored by Björk producer, Spaces, and Kyrian also impresses with a bittersweet broken beat twyster that sounds like Dego with a ear-infection; all unbalanced swang and perfectly dissonant chord combos.
Burial’s sophomore LP, originally issued in 2007 only a year after his pivotal debut, is another masterpiece of urban UK composition and innovative imagineering whose sense of melancholic space, pop-wise dexterity and dancefloor yearn has rarely been explored or surpassed since its release.
Where its predecessor was starkly paranoid, mostly instrumental, Untrue was gilded with gorgeous, cut-up R&B and UKG vox, and interspersed with segments of nocturnal reverie that played out like the OST for a yung UK romance that replaced posh, gurning actors with real life road characters and focussed on the spaces between - between the club and home; between night and day; masculine and feminine; waking life and dream life; Maccy D’s and alley doorways; being high AF and coming down.
It was and still is Burial’s love note to UKG and R&G, and by turns gave context and validated those genres for a lot of listeners who arguably wouldn’t have touched that sound, or at least dismissed it as pop pap or with some snide, racist undertone before Burial’s revivalist instincts hybridised it with trip hop and snarling D&B memes.
More positively, however, depending on which way you look at it, this album also opened the endorphin floodgates for a whole raft of f****e garage producers to get in touch with their feminine side, especially in contrast to prevailing, laddish dubstep rave trends, and, since that sound has faded away, it’s not hard to hear this album’s influence in the vocal processing of Mssingno, in the uneven, off-kilter swing and parry of Zomby, the patch-worked constructions of Jamie xx or Evian Christ, or in Deadboy and Murlo’s more boundary-pushing creations.
As with any album that gets a lot of attention beyond its putative scene, Untrue was an unintended red rag to the cynics and rockists - and even garage purists - but for almost anyone who recognises and appreciates that more modest, aching sort of electronic, UK street rave soul, it remains a really transcendent album that still grips like few others.
Montreal’s Project Pablo continues a world tour of labels with his latest landing on San Francisco’s Spring Theory after shot for Church, Clone’s Royal Oak, and Lone’s Magicwire.
Leading out with the percussive tumble of Morning Shift, Pablo is clearly aiming for this year’s languid Canadian House anthem, opting for a combination of humid bottom end and parping horns comparable to Jack Jutson’s Future Times viberoni from several years back.
The zigzagging Forgetful Dance has a certain Teradi-style charm to it, which stands in stark contrast to the bucked bruk techno of Jup Jup and the delicate, smeared emotion of Smudge
After an eight year break from releasing music, Scott Kannberg (founding member of Pavement and Preston School Of Industry) AKA Spiral Stairs releases his new album ‘Doris & The Daggers’.
"‘Doris & The Daggers’ was recorded over a batch of short sessions at Exactamundo studios in Eagle Rock, California. The band features Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff on drums, Kevin Drew sang on ‘Emoshuns’, Kelley Stoltz lent guitar to the summery chime of ‘AWM’ and The National’s Matt Berninger lends vocals to the bittersweet, zephyr-light ‘Exiled Tonight’."
Focken deadly debut album of definitive Jersey Club juice from DJ Jayhood, the King of the scene’s second wave, which itself evolved from the ruffneck B-More sound. Pure, uncut party gear...
“DJ Jayhood is one of the most important producers from the second generation of Jersey Club.
A regional form of dance music that evolved from Baltimore Club after artists like DJ Tameil started putting their own twists on B-more drum breaks and kick patterns, Jersey Club is one of the most influential and imitated dance styles in the world today. Dance music powerhouses (Diplo, Skrillex, Cashmere Cat) and underground taste-makers (Sinjin Hawke, Her Records) alike have been openly inspired by its raw, sample-driven sound and the dance moves that accompany the songs (such as the recent Running Man Challenge) regularly take on lives of their own.
Although he’s not received the same international DJ bookings as a club producer as some of his peers, DJ Jayhood is one of the most respected and popular Jersey artists in and outside of the state. His remixes of dance classics like ‘Show Me Love’ and ‘Heartbroken’ have racked up millions of plays online, while original productions like ‘Hands on Ya Hips’, ‘Jersey Anthem' and ‘Patty Cake’ are considered all-time Jersey dance classics. He’s also built a successful sideline as a rapper and hip-hop/r&b producer through his production work for Sharaya J and Missy Elliott, and coined his own sub-genre of Jersey Club called Booty Bounce Music (or BBM).
On King, Local Action collects Jayhood’s greatest hits - many of which already have legendary status on Soundcloud and YouTube, but have never been officially released before - with a handful of unreleased tracks from his ridiculous archive of demos. Amazingly, it’s one of the first ever albums from one of Jersey Club’s key players, and although to understand the real context of the music it’s important to trawl YouTube for the dance contests and home-made videos that are so key to Jersey Club, the raw power of these tracks stands up in its own right.”
Burial’s eponymous debut LP is a defining beacon of post-millenium dance and electronic music. Written between 2001-2006, the follow-up to his debut 12” South London Boroughs, further consolidated what were previously mutually exclusive strains of music with unprecedented guile, vision and emotive impact, done to mind-blowing and award-winning effect.
In 2016 it’s easy for folk to forget that prior to this album, aside from a select handful of producers such as Horsepower Productions, El-B or Kode 9, effectively nobody was writing tracks circa 138bpm and using this kind of palette of samples, textures and spaces to the same ends as Will Bevan, a.k.a. Burial. And still, even fewer of them were writing without the dancefloor or radio squarely in mind.
Enter Burial, whose impressionistic, unquantized soundscapes reset the neuroses of Teebee and Bad Company’s neo-D&B with a romance and swing better associated with Steve Gurley and El-B, whilst also listening to and channelling the atmosphere of his environment in a way better likened to the spaces explored by Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound, but animated like a Massive Attack album produced and collaged by Chris Watson; albeit a Watson raised in suburban British sprawl and smoky bedrooms playing tense computer games and watching classic anime and thrillers on VHS, or whatever obscure foreign flicks Channel 4 had on late at night.
Honestly, nowadays that period seems eons away - especially in light of streaming services where you can find thee most obscure art at the touch of keyboard - but back on original release, this record nailed an atmosphere, even a lifestyle, that was lived by many souls on the peripheries who couldn’t be arsed with the menu offered by provincial high street clubs or cable TV, or a culture artificially inflated by major labels and the media.
It almost feels daft and futile trying to explain this to anyone under the age of 30 - or those cold hearted cynics who roll their eyes at the mere mention of his name - but, quite honestly Burial’s music nailed the vibe so heavily that it felt like déjà vu, uncannily weaving together the disparate strands of culture that meant so much to the artist, and by turns, us the listeners.
There are still tonnes of naysayers, but fuck ‘em - Burial’s music is hugely danceable and mixable by the right DJs, but there’s no denying that it probably sounds best in bedrooms or headphones where you can give it your full attention, or vice versa.
Despite the temporal dislocation, the 2007 smoking ban, and the sign-posted, rictus rigidity of too much modern dance music, we’d still love to think there’s a whole new generation out there who will get and love this record as hard as we did, and do.
Two celebrated veterans - anticon. co-founder Doseone and the esteemed underground rapper Mestizo - come together.
"A7PHA is the culmination of years of radical thought, lives lived on the knife's edge. Their self-titled debut record (anchored by production from Alias) absorbs that left-field energy, splinters it into component parts, and re-assembles it into something uniquely human.
Listen to "At The Altar": a song built on steely, industrial instrumental pieces, but in its final form, you can practically hear the track inhale and exhale. The breaths are strung together by Doseone and Mestizo's vocals, which flit back and forth from staccato and precise, to formless and gothic. Or check "99 Point Static," where the track builds such steam that when the bottom falls out on the coda, you get transported through to the end on raw adrenaline. A7PHA does this over and over - building massive tidal waves of raw, immovable emotions, then turning on a dime, and leaves you scrambling to keep up.
Few boast the pedigree to forge something so simultaneously listenable and invitingly bizarre. Doseone has spent two decades as one of hip-hop's most inscrutable talents, working with a who's-who of underground legends and establishing himself as one of the most dazzling technical MCs, chimerical lyricists, and creative visionaries. His contributions to A7PHA find him flexing all his undeniable vocal gifts: razor-sharp, rapid-fire cadences, an elasticity that unspools a vertiginous array of emotions. As a writer, he marries his cryptic strings of imagery to a frenzied search for something deeper. He pushes
A7PHA as far as possible into uncharted territory. For his part, Mestizo grounds the proceedings, filling the songs out with flesh and blood. His vocals on "Sicked" set the tone for the rest of the album: dense, punishing, and propulsive. If Dose is busy sliding around the seams of a beat, Mestizo cuts directly through. The Philly resident is the stone-eyed center of the record, the steady hand on the wheel while everything around him burns. But as "Hater Hate It" makes abundantly clear, he's not above some verbal acrobatics of his own. A7PHA isn't made for upscale bars or low-key gatherings. It's about shattering the facades around you, then staring, unflinching, and what's left behind. It's supposed to soundtrack minor mental breakdowns and house parties that permanently fuck up your security deposit. Doseone and Mestizo have something highly combustible on their hands, but for the time being, it seems that they know just how to handle it."
Dancefloor gold right here from Young Marco’s Safe Trip label, packaging ten cuts of divine, sensual Italian Dream House 89-93 in the wake of his excellent Dekmantel Selectors pack and his previous sojourns along more cosmic vectors.
A bit of a red flag on our disco radars, this portion of the worldwide house revolution has mostly evaded reissue schemes and wider appreciation when compared with, say, Japanese house or New Beat, for example, which both proliferated during the same era, respectively, and have all seen more love in recent years. However, despite constant reference from those in the know, Italian house remains a distant, exotic land to those out of the loop, which is where Young Marco really steps up to the plate with this expert overview crammed with vital, life-affirming selections.
As sophisticated as any of Soichi Terada’s early ‘90s productions, but perhaps closer to the ruggedness and soul of the original Chicago, Detroit and New York deep house sounds, the Italian Dream House sound is defined by proper, wide basslines, earthy drum machines and the sultriest vibes, bordering on pure dancefloor sex. By dint of geography, it clearly shares a lot in spirit with the decadence of Ibizan needs, too and it ain’t hard to imagine how these cooing, winking grooves would have melted all over the Gucci loafers and fresh bikini waxes at Pacha during that epoch.
There are too many highlights to mention them all, but the real standouts for us lie in Don Pablo’s deeply horny blend of Chi-acid and synth-pop in Animals Paranoia, the tanned gorgeousness of Last Rhythm’s Last Rhythm (Ambient Mix), the languorous piano house hustle of Calypso Of House (Paradise Mix) from Key Tronics Ensemble, and the lip-biting swang of Deep Choice’s Fix Of 4:38 PM, but we’re sure that selection could shift around with a few more listens.
Consider this a perfect gateway drug for your inevitable addiction to early Italian house.
Matt Spendlove follows his Emergence series of Spatial experiments with a debut album on his own Infrasonics label.
‘A Music of Sound Systems’ expands on and deconstructs the algo-riddimic approach of Spatial’s classy Emergence series circa 2015-16, bringing forth a long overdue debut album steeped in meticulous attention to aesthetic detail.
Clearly paying dues to JA and UK system culture, Spatial also seeks out the artistic abstraction of El Lissitzky, a key figure in the geometrically-inclined Suprematism movement in early 20th Century Russia. He conflates concepts explored through musique concrète and the Darmstadt School, reducing their ideas down into a gloopy, amorphous whole that craftily creeps under your skin.
Implementing stereo panning to grant his music a tactile, structural quality, Spatial’s experiments have dub at their very root but he’s always looking to draw you in from different directions.
Each track here is like its own little microcosmic universe created by Spatial, whether it’s the chasmic void of sub bass and unsettling ripples of opener Doping Conductor or the deep Lissitzkian bleep abstraction of Proun. The latter is one of several extended productions where Spatial utilises the duration to really build a sense of escalating drama.
RIYL Lee Gamble, Mika Vaino, Alva Noto, Pole, Mix Mup.
Two of the heaviest c*nts on the planet pit their wits on Concrete Desert, with Kevin Martin a.k.a. The Bug framing Dylan Carlson ov Earth’s deathly axe chops in a deeply strung out and apocalypse baiting clash of the titans.
Coming from distinctly idiosyncratic backgrounds - one steeped in generations of doom metal, grunge and bleakest country music; the other saturated with Jamaican dub, shoegaze noise and the ‘ardcore continuum - they evidently find common ground in terms of sheer heaviness on Concrete Desert, with Carlson’s glacial but sprawling gestures harnessed and sublimated in 13 super wide and crushing riddims from Martin’s triple-locked top drawer.
Making good on the promise of their Boa/Cold  hook-up, which was effectively an addendum to The Bug’s Angels & Devils LP, this fully fledged collaboration locates their sound between the eyes, overhead, all around you in plangent sheets of harmonised soreness and jellying waves of subbass pressure at a lugubrious pace that’s faithful to both artist’s individual sound.
The standout moments ring clear and true in the likes of Dog, which comes on like a rabid, overweight Raime who just swallowed Rapeman, or in the almighty, sky-collapsing keen of American Dream and the knackered halfstep slugger Hell A, but you can simply take it on trust that the whole thing is as heavy as your life.
Perc & Truss trample all over two bangers from Mumdance & Logos’ Proto LP, commanding Move Your Body to a nail-biting and noisey industrial techno agenda, then steaming thru Hall Of Mirrors with bullish, wall-banging form.
Proper mucky ruts, these.
Maya Bouldry-Morrison aligns with Honey Soundsystem for an autobiographical album of breakbeat house and elastic techno.
Returning to the album format for a second time, ‘Where Are We Going?’ finds Octo Octa directly addressing the transitioning process she’s undertaken in recent years. The way she does this is subtle, using track titles or vocal samples to influence the listener’s thought process, resulting in an album of retro-leaning club cuts rich in intimacy and personal feeling. This is an album full of nuggets for the DJs, Bouldry-Morrison confidently building on the rough promise previously exhibited across records for 100% Silk, Running Back and Argot.
Classic dancefloor tropes are implemented with ease throughout, Move On (Let Go) (De-stress Mix) one of several instances where Octo Octa builds bliss from an oft-used breakbeat sample. The shamefully short No More Pain (Promises To A Younger Self) brilliantly mangles Mariah Carey into a two-minute maelstrom of cluttered hip house, whilst Fleeting Moments Of Freedom (Wooo) breaks down the deep house burn with multiple spin backs.
The veteran mutant noise unit mint their new Lower Floor label with the 100th Wolf Eyes album.
Hurtling ever closer to their 20th anniversary as a band, albeit in various iterations, ‘The U$A’s longest-running homemade primitive electronic poetry & vibes trio,’ offer a semblance of hope 2017 will be alright after all with the arrival of their own label, Lower Floor Music.
Leading by example, this label - or ‘scotched taped nuclear audio radioactive front on humanity’ as they refer to it - is heralded by a new Wolf Eyes long player, ‘Undertow,’ which doubles up as the trio’s one hundredth album release by our estimations.
This is a real ugly bastard of an album, with Nate Young, James Baljo and John Olson intent on shredding minds from the off, adopting a free jazz approach to mangling discordant guitar beyond all recognition on Laughing Tides. From there, Empty Islands sounds like the heroic Pod Blotz attacking the classic shred metal sound of America and Texas spangles further, deeper into abstracted, wailing noise.
The metallic textures and Lou Reed-esque vocal mutterings of the title track are set to an irradiating metronome, setting you up for the near-fourteen-minute finale Thirteen which is Wolf Eyes at their absorbing, decimating best.
The tireless Death Is Not The End returns with the second of two primers of Caucasus folk in conjunction with the Ored Recordings label.
We’ve been blown away by this joint endeavour from Death Is Not The End and Ored Recordings, a Nalchik, Russia-based net-label that is a treasure trove of ethnographic folk and experimental music spanning the North Caucasus region.
This second volume profiles an intrinsic social function of the Circassian people; the urge to dance. Some ten tracks deep, it really is an enlightening listen that touches on some of the music you might hear at a dance including Gunda Ensemble, a long-running group based at the Abkhazian State Philharmonic cultural centre, the ancient folkloric sounds of cousins Nikolas and Konstantinos Singerov and so much more.
After checking this you should really delve deep into the Ored Recordings bandcamp with detailed sleeve notes accompanying all their releases.
Andy Votel, Sean Canty and Doug Shipton reconvene their obscurantist triumvirate with a steeply immersive 3rd volume of proper DJ alchemy under the Popular Mechanics banner.
With the project’s inspiration unveiled in a reissue of Mecanica Popular’s ¿Qué Sucede Con El Tiempo? dispatched on Dead-Cert in 2015, you’d be forgiven for thinking you had a better grasp on the trio’s allegorical, metaphorical style of collage. However, on Popular Mechanics 3 they keep its boundaries as open, intangible and porous as ever, offering a red rag to any soul foolhardy enough to try and pin them down.
We’ll hold our hands up; we’re in utterly abstract terrain inside, with no handrails, signposts or googlemaps to help guide the way. Even Shazam won’t help you inside their haunted house of horror film foley and phantasmagoric atmospheres. Rumbling percussive polymetrics, queasy swannee whistles and short-circuiting electronics are detectable but acousmatic in source, accreting to a densely-layered yet weightless bush of ghosts in side 1, before side 2 keeps us out of sight, somewhere in the ether, witnessing the trio cook up a potent psychedelic brew of dissonant, pitching synths, possessed harpsichord, jazz detritus and electronic scree like a gang of spice-masters attempting to discover a new compound which will better hypnotise and control their clientele.
Grab one while you can...
Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss pitch up on Planet Mu with a belated third Teengirl Fantasy album.
First surfacing at the turn of the decade with the naive paean to Chi-town euphoria of Cheaters, Teengirl Fantasy duo Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss have seemingly been chasing their own sound and sidestepping dodgy genre tags ever since. A prolonged bout of label hopping took the pair from indies like Milo Cordell’s trendjetting Merok and True Panther to a second album campaign for R&S in the label’s awkward A&R phase circa 2012. You know when they put out Vondelpark and Egyptian Hip Hop records….
8AM is Teengirl Fantasy’s latest creative statement, finding them back on a major electronic player in Planet Mu after a brief dalliance with North Carolina’s smartly-named Break World Records. Attempting to overlook their undercooked R&S LP Tracer, this 12-track collection picks up on the lineage of TGF’s 2010 debut album, 7AM, and veers off in a more introspective and abstracted direction.
8AM is a more confident glance into the Teengirl Fantasyverse, picking away at the burning embers of dance music history reinterpreting them in their own voice.
Masterful producer and mastering engineer, Stefan ‘Pole’ Betke, is next up for a creative undertaking of the Schnitzler archives.
By his own admission, a late adoptee to the sizeable canon of Conrad Schnitzler’s work, Stefan Betke is a fine choice to rework the late Kraut icon’s deep tape archive for the latest ‘Con-Struct’ album. Largely occupied with mastering duties since his most recent Pole LP, ‘Wald’, this six-track undertaking is perhaps the best ‘Con-Struct’ yet, offering a sharply-poised exercise in dub dynamics.
Betke coaxes you in with the first two tracks, Wurm and Sieht Hoch, which share the same lazy-eyed string refrain whilst subtly implementing an upwards shift in momentum. From here there is some real head-crushing moments. Lacht is a largely beatless affair that squeezes plenty of unease out through the queasy, sinewy dub FX, and the tripped-out Drachenbäume sind friedliche Wesen has a unique sense of continually fraying at the edges.
The brief Und fängt den Vogel! offers an interlude-shaped lesson in maximal sound design before Betke ends on an extended palate cleanser with a slab of classic Pole dub techno in the shape of Wiegenlied für Katzen.
Pye Corner Audio return to Death Waltz Originals with a 6 Track EP featuring brand new and exclusive tracks.
"'Do You Hear Them' pulses with a dancefloor verve you've not yet heard from PCA bouncing along a killer 4/4 beat with a super melodic bass riff on top, 'The Spiral' begins with a riff on the classic Axel F bass synth and it's super hyped drums and refrain could be placed in any classic 80s action movie you already love. The other tracks are more contemplative and will sound familair to anyone that owns any of the PCA Black Mill Tapes series."
Paul Woolford’s ruder leanings come to the fore again on this weighty fabric-approved exploration of ambient, jungle, electro and techno.
Ever wondered what the musical DNA of Paul Woolford’s Special Request project looks like? A few listens to ‘Fabriclive 91’ will give you some insight. Equal parts AFX, grime, techno, electro and ambient, you get the feeling Woolford has been itching for a chance to make this mix for some time. Easing in with the Colundi experiments of Rephlex vet Aleksi Perälä, Wooly confidently rips through 30 tracks spanning several decades and movements – all mixed with laser levels of precision.
The early movement from RDJ’s anthemic Italo techno as Caustic Window through typically apocalyptic Stingray, OG Croydon nu step from Plastician and one of several upcoming Special Request tracks highlights Woolford’s guile in SR mode. A later transition from the swelling sub-laden ambient drama of Shapednoise’s hookup with JK Broadrick into the amen arsenal of vintage Dillinja proves Woolford’s class at exploring tension.
All this plus cuts from ASC, Carl Craig, Mika Vaino and Keith Fullerton-Whitman make this a mix worth exploring.
The Macro man brings some mutant strains of tech-house to D-Edge subsidiary Olga.
Stefan Goldmann’s wayfaring spirit finds him pitching up on the OLGA offshoot of Sao Paolo’s D-EDGE with a pair of frisky, expertly-crafted minimal purrers.
Goldmann sounds like he had plenty of fun in the studio on Radiolarian, kicking out with a mucky dub techno groove then laying it on thick with fizzling pads and snaking pitch bent melodies. Streams offers a trippier side to the Berlin producer’s palette, the sort of thing you can see Ben UFO laying waste to a stadium-sized festival with.
Another icy Nordic beauty from one of Posh Isolation’s more broad-minded acts.
“'I Musik' is the third piece from Kyo, a duet of Hannes Norrvide and Frederik Valentin. With each release the pair make a shift in the project's aesthetic equilibrium, forcing a new constellation of resonances, handing us a new beauty.
'I Musik' presents another wondrous movement in the narrative, like discovering a secret escalator that passes everything you want from a new angle.
The melodramatic pause that their previous album circled with enthusiasm is now considered from a greater distance. Perhaps it is because we have now arrived somewhere? There is a hopeful melancholia that has come with this distance, and it is put to use to describe a scene that feels as human as it is synthetic, as if the world you know is now behind glass. Futures imagined are being recalled, futures undiscovered are being explored—Norrvide and Valentin manage to encode a sense of endlessness to such processes quite casually. The acoustic surfaces brush electronic reflections with an understated sincerity, all of which feels whispered to you by a familiar voice in familiar phrases.
There is such a quiet future being invoked on 'I Musik,' yet we don't know what this quiet may come to be defined against, or if it will come to be defined at all. It's a stillness that isn't fully grasped, and it needn't be. This is its beauty.”
The Hamburg institut feed their craving for a fresh hit of STL on this suitably bugged out 12” grip.
What’s this, Stefan Lauber getting his rave on? You’d be forgiven for mistaking the stomping, rude rollage of Thing in the Mirraw to be the work of Pangaea, not STL. A welcome screw-faced deviation from the usually serene, tasteful tackle on Smallville. Fade The Sun sidesteps into the intricate oddball quease Messrs Wendel and Lindner conjure up as KM/MM, and craftily develops into one of Laubner’s most enveloping productions of recent times.
Those craving some trademark STL reductions will find solace in the 12-minute skippy rusted DJ tool PsiFy Robot.
Debut album of steeply abstract, nocturnal electronics by curious new artist from Turkey. RIYL Klara Lewis, The Hafler Trio, Philip Jeck
"The dictionary describes aphelion as “the point in the path of a celestial body (as a planet) that is farthest from the sun”, which i reckon is a suitable title since it reminded me of the night time, when I recorded and edited the majority of this work.
The night makes me think about openness and gathering. To me, it is a state of togetherness in which things are allowed to keep their own identity, yet they are covered under the veil of darkness. From time to time we may recognise such things as they are, but the night also evokes the so- called luxury of intuition, helping us become aware of their existence without using our sense of sight.
One might feel that the night has a disturbing, chaotic and uncontrollable character. I can relate to that since it becomes harder to see; our ocularcentric modern ways of living are being challenged. Contrary to the sunlight that helps us divide, analyze and govern, the night tends to reveal our most primitive selves, as well as uncovering our deepest thoughts, untold dreams and memories. In addition, in such state of openness, the lack of light provides more space for the activation of other senses.
This is when hearing becomes so acute - as well as touching and smelling. I still think about smell, but hearing can also be associated with touch, since we are literally touched by sound in the form of waves through space, and they become audible in the range between 20Hz. and 20kHz. The night makes this contact even more obvious.
Such communication is the most intimate that two complete strangers (who will probably not meet again) can be. And I'm once again grateful for my own personal aphelion (2:44 AM, GMT+2) at the moment for helping me write this to you, beloved listener."
‘All That Is Solid Melts Into Air’ is a collection of new compositions from New York City-based sound artist, performer, and composer Lea Bertucci.
"As a performer, Bertucci has worked primarily with amplified woodwind instruments, creating enigmatic electro-acoustic soundscapes with bass clarinet in conjunction with electronic processing. Her latest release on NNA, however, explores her work as a composer, which investigates extended acoustic resonance on classical instruments and their potential to powerfully occupy physical space. The two sides of this cassette contain two different pieces that exist around a common concept - the live performance of extended technique on stringed instruments, and the otherworldly way that the resulting sound exists in the space in which it is created.
The two pieces demonstrate the incredible amount of dynamic diversity that can be achieved by the phenomenon of vibrating metallic strings. Resonance and frequency are thoroughly explored with thought, care, and dedication. These works reveal a fresh voice in new music, while also championing the pioneers of the 20th century avant-garde - recalling the tonal curiosity of Ligeti, the emotional power and sensitivity of Arvo Part, the strident minimalism of Tony Conrad, and the unflinching violence of George Crumb. Bertucci exhibits a keen and perceptive ear for nuanced acoustic sound, and a passion for focused musical investigation is made evident through her compositions. Stepping aside from the role of performer, ‘All That Is Solid Melts Into Air’ shows us a different side of Bertucci’s repertoire - that of the writer and composer. This album reinforces her talents not only as a player, but as an imaginative explorer of music’s more cerebral and metaphysical outer limits.”
Loke Rahbek’s Croatian Amor pulls together a disparate, motley crew of remixers to dissect and re-stitch some of his best solo work to date: Love Means Taking Action.
Packing ‘em in there, it yields no less than eight new perspectives on the record’s deeply human themes; ranging from the subbass-gilded but weightless new age dimensions of Brynje’s take on Värmland thru the fractured 2-step of Age Coin’s Refugee (ACCA version) and a balmy moment in Why Be’s Love 13 (Island Step) and the rattled jungle prang of Any Life by Yen Towers on the front.
Turn over for what sounds like an underwater Julia Holter in CTM’s Octopus Web and the unmetered pulse and whispers of Ma Langue La Premiere from Felicia Atkinson, which perfectly segues into the Lynchian miasma of Drew Mcdowall’s Love and the candescent ambient romance of Kyo ft. Health & Safety in An Angel.
Venerable Ethiopian composer, Mulatu Astake is the locus of this enlightening compilation, which was first issued to the wider world on CD in 1992 and is now reissued 25 years later.
"Now, we’ve all heard the Ethiopiques series and many other reissues of Mulatu Astatke and Hailu Mergia over the past few years, but who really knows the socio-political and historical context for all this amazing music, and why it sounds the way it does? This ace set and its original liner notes from Anu Laakkonen should sort that out.
Thanks to the work of Finland’s Global Music Centre - a mobile recording studio - which travelled to Addis Ababa to record the two headline bands, whom both shared a mutual component in Mr. Astatke, the set covers early iterations of drum machine used in Ethiopian popular music, as well as sterling examples of the confluence between domestic religious and secular themes, and traces of rock, funk, pop and soul influence from America and Europe.
The A-side revolves four hypnotic demonstrations of the Ethio Stars, widely regarded the best musicians in the country at the time, gripping the head hips and shoulders with the clipped groove and floating, spectral organ of Aderech Arada, Bekifir / Menged Lay Wodike, then updating the classic Kermosew melody with synths and a big fat funk bassline, while Yetentu Tez Alew clearly nods to ‘80s boogie, but always within that definitive Ethio sound, and Tiz Baleen Gize brings Getatchew Kassa’s vocal into play.
On the other side, Tukul Band experiment with more traditional forms of Ethiopian music. Headed by Mulatu Astatke, the band jam on electrified models of traditional instruments such as the Krar - a six-string bowl-lyre nicknamed “the devil’s instrument” - along with the masinko, Ethiopia’s only bowed instrument typically played by an Azamri or bard/griot, and the washint, a bamboo flute heard on many, many Ethiopian recordings. These pieces are perhaps more urgent, compared with the cool vibes of the others, and definitely worth checking for the haunting instrumental duet in Sound of Washint & Masinko."
Hatti Vatti is one of the Polish underground's most vital figures. He is known for his analogue focused interpretations of an array of sounds, from ambient to footwork.
"While working on SZUM (noise or hiss in Polish), his first longplay since 2014, he was invited by Polish National Audiovisual Institute to join RE:VIVE - a project curated by the Netherlands Institute of Sound & Vision that already resulted with a strikingly original LP from Lakker in 2016.
Having already been inspired by the pioneering work of artists from the Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio, founded in 1962, as well as by animated film scores of the 60s, 70s and 80s, RE:VIVE presented Hatti Vatti with the unmissable opportunity to delve with unprecedented access into the vast archives of the Polish National Audiovisual Institute in Warsaw.
Here, he took the original, sometimes fractured yet melodic compositions he had been working on, and injected with a haunting layer of Iron Curtain era psychedelia. Far beyond a typical 'sampledelic' excursion, SZUM is the sound of a cutting edge electronic craftsman, reimagining his forward thinking work alongside the pioneering ghosts of the past. Album offers a typically bold, retro futuristic exploration of Poland's rich history of sound experimentation, one that simultaneously corresponds closely with contemporary issues and events in the country.”
Hauntingly tender solo debut LP from London’s Kelly Lee Owens, delivering on the promise of her excellent Jenny Hval and Daniel Avery collaborations/remixes in a full album of sylvan tech house and synth-pop beauties.
Prefaced by the head-turning single, Oleic - which featured a smart rework of Jenny Hval’s Kingsize - Kelly Lee Owens’ eponymous album introduces a well rounded yet subtly detailed sound to the world at large, one brimming with the rare promise of an artist who wants to extract something more precious, personalised from the dance music and pop prisms which clearly enthral her music.
There’s probably always going to be something about ethereal, floating vocals and the sensual contours of European tech house, when at its best, which will eternally grab our attention. And this album delivers strongly on both counts - striking an impeccable balance of classic, timeless pop songwriting and purring, contemporary electronic grooves that places it in an exulted space on the shelves.
Collaborators Jenny Hval and Daniel Avery appear on the record’s highlights; Jenny lending her poised delivery and lyrics, framed by KLO’s breathy gilding, on the baroque pop-house dream sequence of Anxi., with Avery assisting on the Fever Ray-meets-Liz Fraser stylings of Keep On Walking; whilst the rest is subtly aided by the mixing and engineering treatments of James Greenwood, who’s best known as Ghost Culture on Erol Elkan’s Phantasy Sound.
That combination of KLO’s chamber-like arrangements and Greenwood’s rendering results a string of other pearls in the strung out balearia of S.O. at the front, thru the gorgeous Arthur - which is surely a play on that library record Aphex Twin sampled on Xtal?! - whereas Evolution flexes some properly toned dancefloor muscle, and Throwing Lines could very nearly be mistaken for a cut from Grimes’ Halfaxa period.
After years of plaudits from all corners, Jacques Greene distills the ecstatic/melancholy sentiment of modern electronic house music within Feel Infinite, his debut album for LuckyMe.
Throughout the album’s 11 tracks, the Montreal-based producer synthesises the see-sawing feels of a night with pals, fingers tasting like acrid saffron and skin flush with water retention, using a range of contemporary house, R&B and electro-pop conventions to convey the warmest, user-friendly vibes.
Tom Krell (How To Dress Well) is partly responsible for one of the album’s highlights with pleading vocals on the swinging soft trance R&B gesture, True, and an uncredited female (or processed male) voice sparkles as an instrumental element across many other, with ear-snagging style in the filter-disco chops of Real Time, and cooing from the snappy 2-step structure of Afterglow.
Astral Industries complete the circle of Chi with this collection of previously unreleased island-dwelling ambient evocations from Hanyo van Oosterom.
After revisiting Kim Cascone’s sublime Heavenly Music Corporation project, London label Astral Industries return to scratch their archival Chi itch one more time. ‘The Kallikatsou Recordings’ is the second collection of music from the period prior to Hanyo van Oosterom and Jacobus Derwort forming the Chi project. Like last year’s ‘Bamboo Recordings’, inspiration comes from van Oosterom’s extended visits to the Greek island of Patmos where he developed a deeply personal connection with a mythical rock structure called the Kallikatsou.
This previously-unreleased collection comes from music van Oosterom worked on over several years from the nineties onwards, drawing peace of mind from the Kallikatsou and channeling it into drones, soundscapes, samples and field recordings. Collated together as two long form pieces rich in deeply-textured ambience, van Oosterom orchestrates a half hour journey through becalming, evocative waters that represent a fitting finale to the Chi archival saga.
Tarquin on the track for Rinse, pursuing last year’s sorely overlooked remix of T_A_M’s Watty and the Aaliyah cut-up, Back In One Place, with four infectious cuts of pointillist, body-ready rhythms spliced from grime and Jersey club styles.
Most crucially, he does so with a rare sense of character and flavour found in his fake-out edits and ruggedly crisp production values, coming together perfectly in the slippery jab and parry of Jump Pack, and with a dead canny grasp of early grime’s daftness - which is all too often overlooked - in the loony grinning Brass Tax, the cartoonishly dramatic Dun Tarq, or the mongrel freak, C-Mine, which all recall Jameszoo, DJ Paypal or Foodman as much as OG Scratchy or even Dizzee produce.
Charming deep house dream sequences and experimental electronics from the gauzier side of life.
Leading on from the First Voyage [Honest Jon’s, 2015] 12”, SVN and Dynamo Dreesen seduce our frilly cotton socks off again with the Afro-Italianate drum percolations and simmering chords of A1, then charge up the crackle-box for the strangely detached and potently psychedelic momentum of B1 with their pal, Stefan Wust a.k.a. SW, coming to land in alien radiophonic terrain with B2.
If Arthur Russell was into industrial not disco, then his World Of Echo might well have sounded something like John Roberts’ Body Four, a follow-up to the excellent Plum album on Roberts’ Brunette Editions.
Wrought with the innovative, plangent minimalism and simplicity of Russell’s cello, pedal and amp studies, Roberts’ efforts are perhaps more rugged and off kilter - also recalling certain aspects of James Ferraro and Spencer Clark in its lo-fi grain - but likewise manages to wrench a captivating sense of expressive pathos from his similar set-up of cello and sequencer in each of these relatively short, smeared windows onto his personalised practice.
The Kid gives his wrist a rest to unfurl a suite of cinematic strings underlined by heavy bass and voiced by the elven-voiced Icelandic signer, Emiliana Torrini.
“Kid Koala’s Music To Draw To: Satellite is an uncharted musical journey: an expansive work of ambient electronic soundscapes and chilling ballads in collaboration with Icelandic artist Emilíana Torrini. This inaugural volume in the Music To Draw To series is Kid Koala's first non-sample-based record, instead using an array of synthesizers, keys, guitars, strings, turntables, and inventive recording techniques to portray this heartrending musical story about a couple separated by a mission to Mars.
The output is over 72 atmospheric minutes of stardust settling like fresh snow over Kid Koala’s trove of turntables and sentiment.”
Throughout their time together, the Baltimore-based Arbouretum have been praised for their ability to weave elaborate vocal lines and guitar solos that often unravel into extended improvisation but never with as much finesse as on the masterfully crafted ‘Song Of The Rose’.
"In less practiced hands, these ideas could easily fall into contrivance but on ‘Song of the Rose’ Arbouretum use these elements to perfect their craft of storytelling in song, both lyrically and sonically.
Arbouretum recorded ‘Song Of The Rose’ with Steve Wright at Wrightway Studios. While previous records were recorded in a matter of days, ‘Song Of The Rose’ took weeks. Attention to production details augment their time-tested emphasis on capturing the energy of performance. ‘Song Of The Rose’ is the first time the band has mixed with Kyle Spence (Kurt Vile, Luke Roberts, Harvey Milk) at his studios in Athens, GA."
Ricardo Donoso dons his Scuba Death gear for a second exploration of mortality on the ever-excellent Further Records.
Scuba Death remains Ricardo Donoso’s creative self-therapy for dealing with the inevitable feelings of fear and anxiety after a brush with his maker whilst diving in the South Atlantic some time ago.
This second album finds the Kathexis man seeking out 19th Century American philosopher William James for further inspiration, whose 1902 book, ‘The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature’ is responsible not only for the album title but also Donoso’s continued belief to channel his fears for creative means. We move from the sea to the earth on ‘The Worm At The Core,’ Donoso’s trademark field recordings culled from a series of thunderstorms rather than the scene of his brush with death.
These are expertly interspersed with chilling cello work by Rafa Selway into Donoso’s pulsing, tranced out arpeggios and low-bpm ripples for another reflective, intense collection of Scuba Death material.
Pete Swanson's Freedom To Spend label unearths and dusts off this total killer from Marc Barreca for this handsome, much needed reissue
With 4th world pioneer Marc Barreca’s ace solo debut Twilight now back in circulation thanks to K. Leimer’s Palace Of Lights, Jed Bindeman and Pete Swanson’s promising new label Freedom To Spend present Barreca’s stranger successor album Music Works For Industry (1983) on vinyl for the first time after a necessary issue of Michele Mercure’s Eye Chant oddity.
As opposed to Twilight, which found Barreca working solo with Eno-esque systems-based music, Music Works For Industry finds him taking contributions from members of Seattle’s close-knit community of electronic explorers, and working them - albeit as unrecognisable from the original source - into a series of playfully spiky creations as porous to influence from synth-pop, industrial as ambient music, and sounding much rawer, primitive, skronky and surreal than most else coming from the 4th world nodes at that time.
Rendering the original tape in its entirety - no edits or altered track list - the session slips and slides between cute, almost cartoonish pulses, hooks and voices in Community Life to rudimentary, swampy funk chops in the closer Church and State. What happens in between is akin to the soundtrack for some Canadian TV for schools programme or a series of calisthenic exercises for post-punk and new wave mutants; an assembly of off-grid rhythms and dislocated sounds kerned, smudged and processed to recall a very early iteration of the ‘dances’ from Rashad Becker’s Traditional Music For Notional Species or a colder, distant precedent to the kind of crooked creations coming from Luis Delgado and Eugenio Muñoz’s Mecanica Popular studio.
Daniel Brandt, co-founder of Germany’s electroacoustic ensemble Brandt Brauer Frick, joins Erased Tapes with his solo debut album.
"What started off as a more simplistic idea soon evolved into something a lot more complex as the London and Berlin based music producer travelled across the world, experimenting with various other artists and different instruments. From his father’s cabin based in the German countryside with access to nothing but cymbals, to being surrounded by guitars in Joshua Tree, his unexpected journey soon progressed into what became his first solo album.
Daniel played nearly all instruments himself with the only exception being fellow musicians Florian Juncker on trombone, Manu Delago on hang drum and Andreas Voss on cello. Using his Berlin studio as his main base for recording, Brandt created an album that encapsulates the idea that despite setting out with a particular creative vision, external influences and environments will always shift the process, and create an Eternal Something."
The tireless Death Is Not The End returns with the first of two primers of Caucasus folk in conjunction with the Ored Recordings label.
Established in 2014, Ored Recordings is a free ethnographic net-label that has drawn together a truly enlightening collection of field recordings based on documenting the folk and experimental musicians living in villages and towns throughout the North Caucasus region.
Working together, the two labels draw together a 13-track collection that offers an illuminating introduction to some of the song-based folk music Ored Recordings has worked to profile across its 14 releases to date.
Lustrous, ambiguously sensual synth expressions from Denmark’s Internazionale.
“The Pale And The Colourful is Internazionale's first album on vinyl, released by Posh Isolation. It comes after a near flood of limited tape releases both through his remarkable Janus Hoved label and through Posh Isolation. It's a logical summary of Internazionale's work up to this point and is the prime example of the sensual synthetic meditations he has come to be known for.
The clear pop sensibility of his compositions are clouded with noises and ambiguous field recordings, and it is somehow hard to really figure out if the music intends to lift us up or hold us down. What is certain is that no Internazionale release up to this point reaches the level of The Pale And The Colourful.”
Arresting debut of melancholy vocals and deconstructed hard-dance tropes from Melbourne’s Australia’s Felix Idle, a.k.a WA?STE for his debut on Shanghai’s Genome 6.66Mbp label.
Operating somewhere between the Bala Club sound and Posh Isolation’s handsome misery, Hollow Vessel deals with the travails of long hours spent online in a series of succinct compositions fanning out needy vocals in aeriel formations over deconstructed backdrops - working at full wingspan in the weightless glyde of Last Forever and Done, whereas Thorns and My Illuminated Console factor in clipped, rugged drums that almost make his fragile vocals flinch and bruise.
Bristol's Wisdom Teeth rustle up a low key but hypnotic triple header traversing from the super spacious and sub-heavy minimalism of Simo Cell’s Symmetry to a lean, driving piece of recursive gamelan techno shuffle from Don’t DJ, and the lilting, rhythmelodic and AfrReichian harmonic cadence of K-Lone’s Woniso.
Move D and his partner in crime, Jonah Sharp, a.k.a. Reaganz stealthily expand Berlin’s Away Music after entries from Joe Claussell and Christian Vance.
In solo mode Move D plays down the effortlessly hypnotic swing and gently uplifting chords of Roll Split in timeless style before joining Jonah Sharp on the more wistful, expansive jazz dub house vibes of 460 Melrose Ave as Reaganz.
Louche retro-vintage Balearic wings from Farbror Resande Mac, following the course of previous 12”s with Aficionado, Is It Balearic? Recordings, and Back To The Balearics with a balearic balearic of balearics for the balearic types at Horisontal Mambo.
Famed Labradfordians Mark Nelson and Robert Donne exhibit an even stronger desire for freeform synthetic experimentation on this second Anjou album for Kranky.
Picking up belatedly where their celebrated eponymous debut LP left off, Mark Nelson and Robert Donne’s Anjou project sounds as sublimated and spacious as ever on Epithymía. No longer in need of Kranky percussionist Steve Hess, Donne and Nelson distil the Anjou approach of framing their synthesis into a state of constant fluctuation down to a suite of six tracks. Largely favouring the long-form approach, this allows Donne and Nelson the freedom to truly express their creative intentions with Anjou
14-minute opener Culicinae is a fine example of this. Framed of five distinct movements, the track shifts between them with a subtle mastery that reveals itself with close attention. There are still whispers of Donne and Nelson’s post-rock inclinations from their Labradford days, evident in the percussive rainstorm that briefly filters through Culicinae, the abstracted bass that cuts through the gauzy, shapeless ambience of Greater Grand Crossing and the smartly deployed guitar drones towards the solemn closing moments of An Empty Bank.
The duo does find a semblance of rhythm on the swelling Soucouyant, choosing to toy with just a few refrains rather than let their fingers wander, whilst Glamr and Georgia combine for an eerie, intangible finale.
Marcel Dettmann grips the Museum duo for a deep and slippery slice of trippy Dutch techno.
Respectively known as Anton Pieete (District One) and Jeroen Liebregts (Audio Assault), Museum execute a sterling balance of mesmerising top lines and subtly kinky, rolling grooves throughout MDR21, with fine highlights in the dreamy throb of Pole whilst Septem F distinctly recalls early Psychic Warriors Of Gaia and CCC and DDD go deep on the tribal vibes.
Whereas Pontiak’s 2014 album ‘Innocence’ tore through rowdy riffs and melancholic balladry in a neat half hour, it’s immediately clear from the reverb-heavy trip of opener ‘Easy Does It’ that new album ‘Dialectic Of Ignorance’ is altogether a different beast.
Euphorically defying spatial constraint, brothers Jennings, Van and Lain Carney instead opt to guide each song along its own cosmic trajectory: confident in the outcome but even more excited to enjoy the ride.
Deep thumpin’ house, Detroit and Chicago style, from the new pick-up on Cos_Mos; a division of M>O>S Recordings.
Salomon Duncan is a new moniker to us, and may well be a pseudonym, we just do not know, but he’s clearly got a thing for classic acid, as displayed in the hefty slo-mo charge of Android (AdamantiumMix) whereas Tacci a Spill follows Legowelt-style lines of deep space house inquiry.
Deep but up-for-it disco house bangers from Florence, Italy’s Marco D’Aquino a.k.a. Dukwa for the purposes of this 12” with the Glaswegian Italophiles at Numbers.
Well versed in Anthony Shakir style chops, the four cuts on Shattered In A Thousand Places cook up solid US styles with an extra hint of Italian gourmet, resulting the strobing chord delicacy of Thoughts feat. Mar G on all-night-long vox, plus the pumping sasturday night pressure of Fries Friends, a skipper slice of John Swing styles in Illusory Dreams, and a rugged Frictional downstroke on Lazy.
Reinhard Voigt and Terranova draw out the tuffer side of each other in classy remixes.
Voigt turns their Labrador into a heads-down techno buzz underlined with four square kicks and searing leads; Terranova go colder, tighter with an electro-tipped techno remix of Husky riding on distended bass and nagging monotone riffs bound to oscillate jaws and fists in the club.
One of the most pained, exquisite highs from Arca - the 4th album by Alejandro Ghersi a.k.a. Arca - feels like an opera of Bats recorded in a steeple then slowed down to human threshold of hearing.
Deep, soulful and broken house burners by the man, Matthew Chicoine a.k.a. Recloose: Spirit Knows gets loose with dreamy jazz chord cadence and slinky hustle; No I Don’t swings out on the dusty, heads-down pivot; and Geomancer brings some Amp Fiddler-style Detroit flavour to the table.
For their first multi-artist compilation, Music From Memory take us on a trip to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1978-1992 is a double LP that explores the outer reaches of Brazilian music, where indigenous rhythms mix with synthesizers and where MPB mingles with drum computers.
"As Brazil faced the last years of its military dictatorship and transition to democracy, a generation of forward-thinking musicians developed an alternative vision of Brazilian music and culture. They embraced traditionally shunned electronic production methods and infused their music with elements of ambient, jazz-fusion, and minimalism. At the same time they referenced the musical forms and spirituality of indigenous tribes from the Amazon. The music they produced was a complex and mesmerising tapestry that vividly evoked Brazilian landscapes and simultaneously reached out to the world beyond its borders.
.The product of extensive research, this compilation is a unique introduction to this visionary music and features many fresh discoveries in a country well trodden by record diggers. It gathers tracks from obscure albums that have for too long been neglected by even the most avid collectors of Brazilian music. It includes now highly sought after music by Andréa Daltro, Maria Rita, and Fernando Falcão, as well as unknown gems like those of Cinema, Carlinhos Santos, and Anno Luz. This is an essential release that reveals a broader spectrum of Brazilian music, striking a unique sonic signature that is full of innovation, experimentation, and beauty.
Compiled by John Gómez and featuring extensive liner notes, Outro Tempo showcases this overlooked corner in Brazil’s rich music history for the first time."