Cult Swedish ambient noise avatar Civilistjävel! pushes off the first release on Felt, the promising new label run by Perko, with one of their most opiated and sublimely chilling episodes.
Depending who you asks, Civilistjävel! is either “a figment of the pre-internet era tapping into a similar consciousness as Biosphere, Chain Reaction or early Fax +49-69/450464” or an apocryphal exercise in ambient hauntology, but either way their music feeds into a palpable need for enigma in modern music. ‘Järnnätter’ is their 7th release since appearing outta nowhere in 2018 via Low Company, and adds fine new layers of natural world inspiration and jazzy intrigue to their personalised dream sequence that effortlessly allows you to suspend disbelief for the duration and buy into their ruse-not-ruse.
For ‘Järnnätter’, Civilistjävel! take their cues from the Swedish expression “Iron Night”, traditionally used to describe long winter nights when the frost withers plants and crops. Under this poetically evocative phrase the music manifests an uncannily absorbing ecology of glacial, cracked rhythms and plangent nocturnal pads that, if you squint your ears a bit, comes to limn spirited soundscapes where the sun hardly rises and you can practically feel the frost crystallising on yr whiskers and eyelids. We’ve little doubt that it’s some of the project’s finest work, tapping into an atavistic ambient sensibility comparable with contemporary visionaries ranging from Wanda Group to Werkbund, Mika Vainio and even CC Hennix on their trip from the zonked sublime of ‘A1’ to the nithered nub of ‘B2’ and ultimately the bad belly jazz groan of ‘B4’.
Proper intrigue and stuff.
Charming DIY electronics by longtime Dutch pals Ronald Nijhof & Christian Toonk, pushing off the first vessel on Utrecht’s Aural Conduct label.
Growing up together in the ‘90s, and hailing from a background of interdisciplinary arts, Nijhof & Toonk now share the discreet endeavours of their studio jams 2014-2021; eight instrumental tracks of textured downbeat rhythms and gauzy melody influenced by post-rock and dub.
It’s the first time thy’ve shared their work outside of the studio, inviting the outside world to drift their internal landscape between the peppery pulses of ‘P(L)SS’, gently keening synth wow and flutter in ‘Rotsoord’, and clipped motorik momentum of ‘Lauwerecht’, or the macrodosing lysergic squiggles of ‘Dubcid’, with more propulsive minimalist electro-stepper styles taking shape on ‘P.I.P.’, before leading off into the conversational late nigh appeal of ‘Jutphaas’, and a fine cut of melted guitar lines and smouldering AOR in ‘Moon Lounge’.
“This record is the culmination of their multi-year, synchronous work. One can hear clever electronics fuelled by post-rock and dub-laden styles, breathing improvisationalist technique as much as studied precision and composition. Their lingering music draws us into a sonic zone, where our consecutive emotions are quickly eclipsed while time proceeds in an altered fashion. Listen attentively.”
Stone cold ace Manc bleep dub rarities from ’91, effectively issued for the first time after only reaching white label promo back-in-the-day
Two The Hardway is an alias for Phil Kirby, one-time drummer to Biting Tongues, proprietor of Zombie Studios, and engineer for Mr. Scruff and 808 State. ‘Who Said?’ comprises five cuts of practically unreleased gear, reeling two cuts off the sought-after promo version, plus three never-before-heard joints spanning ruder cuts from the crypt, toasted by Martin ’Sugar’ Merchant and starring Howard Walmsley (Biting Tongues) on sax.
All five tracks epitomise 1990/91 rave as an amalgam of ragga, UK steppers dub, Britcore fast rap, house, and breaks, right on the cusp of ‘ardcore, what would become jungle. The OG ‘Who Said (InstrumentalVersion)’ runs a wicked bit of flinty drums and boinging acid, shades away from the brittle production values of Mad Musican & X-Plosion, for example, while the vocal mix ramp the pressure with Sugar’s ragga fast chat.
On the B-side it gets screwier, pitching up in line with the steadily accelerating BPMs of that year in the clipped breaks and fast-chat to singly styles of ‘Hot Number (Alternative Mix)’, and the OG ‘Testpressing’ mix makign room for Walmsley’s parp, while the big one for us is ‘Blossom Street Dub’, working on a killer hip hop lean, but with wild doble paso steppers dubbing prompting imaginary flashbacks.
The lick, as they used to say.
Running Back summon Anthony Naples at his most up-for-it with four tracks of driving NYC techno-house
Hand-in-glove with the label’s slick German dance credentials, Naples turns it out on a frisky type of raving piano house tip in ‘Swerve’ with its zipping rave signals, plus a jagged acid swinger ‘Here With You’, beside buoyant, breaks-sparked deep house in ‘Right As The Sun Goes’, and then lets the pads bloom with lip-smacking, lush effect on the clear standout for deep c*nts, ‘Be To’.
Sublime, BoC-wise ambient drift by Calum McLeod, supplying a genteel antithesis to his tonking hardcore techno with Clouds, for Mark “Mother” Maxwell and DJ Crud’s Concrete Cabin
If Glasgow’s Concrete Cabin is best known as incubator of bombproof mutant rave, this release frames it as a metaphoric bothy sheltering McLeod’s atmospheric wanderlust. Draped in mist and following his instincts for melodic lines of thought, it’s equivalent to a hand-knit comfort blanket or a crackling fire in the hearth, replete with mice scurrying about nibbling ramblers’ crumbs and toes, and with a babbling burn outside. Yeah yeah, you can probably tell we need a holiday, but right now this is as close as we’ll get and it’s all the more welcome for it.
Evoking similar terrain to BoC interludes or Lord of the Isles’ most pastoral intimations, but vaporised to a more subtly suggestive quintessence, the nine tracks transmute a deep topography of OS and spiritual grid references into a form of psychoacoustic navigation on the back of yer eyelids. Each track takes as long as it needs to fray its flux of plaintive, woollen melodies and ember-smoulder rhythms into sublime permutations, drifting from ‘Herz’ to ‘Nostalghia’ via the heather harmonic hues of ‘LWK’ and gloaming pads of ‘…in the sky Zentraleuropa’ with hints of classic ‘70s kosmiche that fed into classic ‘90s ambient forms via Eno and his ilk.
Pack this in your mental knapsack with a bottle of Ceol Ila and some sturdy waterproofs and woollens and take yourself off piste for the best holiday sans stealth turds or smelly busses.
Shimmering new age house and electroid ambient from the bosom of NNF’s 100% Silk division
“The first full-length vinyl collection by Tokyo-based producer Zefan Sramek aka Precipitation crystallizes his evolving synthesis of new age ambience, tape hiss, and house music into a riveting suite of motion and mirage: Glass Horizon. Conceived and recorded between two formative trips to Sado Island in the spring and late summer of 2020, the album feels both insular and infinite, threading paths through wet grass, along isolated coasts. Field recordings of tidepools, birds, and cicadas crossfade into fluid mandalas of bass, keys, and drum machinery, while synths glide and glisten, rising like heat off sand.
Sramek speaks of themes of escape and estrangement, solace and desolation, visions of azure waters lapping empty shores. Weeks spent sleeping in a hammock attuned him to the extrasensory; melodies and memories materialized from the foliage, suffused with ocean air and placeless melancholy. All seven tracks swoop and swirl with patience and precision, grid-mapped golden dawns and gradient sunsets mixed live and captured on cassette. This is dance music as portal and pilgrimage, spiral environments for a refracted age.”
On the cover: Neu! Now: With a 50th anniversary box set on the (endless) horizon The Wire takes an in-depth look at the legacy of avant rock’s most linear outfit.
Michael Rother: How the German guitarist helped develop a new vocabulary for rock in the 1970s and beyond. By Mike Barnes
The Primer: Motorik rock: A user’s guide to the implacable machine-like rhythm that has propelled rock for half a century. By Noel Gardner
Invisible Jukebox: Coby Sey & Tirzah: Will the London based collectivists CURL their lips at The Wire’s mystery record selection? Tested by Leah Kardos
Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari: The reissue of roots music blueprint Grounation celebrates a landmark in visionary Black sound and consciousness. By Francis Gooding
Unlimited Editions: Wolke Verlag
Unofficial Channels: Radio La Colifata
eddy kwon: Shamanic intensities from the Korean-American artist. By Kurt Gottschalk
Imperial Triumphant: New York’s avant black metallers go for gold. By James Gormley
Nwando Ebizie: The multidisciplinary artist explores myth and transformation. By Emily Pothast
Lenhart Tapes: Balkan tape chaos with Vladimir Lenhart. By Miloš Hroch
Global Ear: Bandar Abbas: A new wave of Iranian groups is emerging from the coastal city. By Kamyar Salavati
The Inner Sleeve: Petra Haden on The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack Recording
Epiphanies: dublab’s Mark ‘Frosty’ McNeill goes radio ga-ga
Print Run: New music books: Spray Nation: 1980s NYC Graffiti Photographs by Martha Cooper; Out Of Space: How UK Cities Shaped Rave Culture by Jim Ottewill; Needles And Plastic: Flying Nun Records, 1981–1988 by Matthew Goody; Sound Experiments: The Music Of The AACM by Paul Steinbeck; Switched On: Bob Moog And The Synthesizer Revolution by Albert Glinsky; My Kaleidoscope by Myka 9; The Sound Of The Machine: My Life In Kraftwerk And Beyond by Karl Bartos; The Politics Of Vibration: Music As A Cosmopolitical Practice by Marcus Boon
On Screen: Kristian R Hill God Said Give ’Em Drum Machines; James Taylor A Film About Studio Electrophonique
On Location: London Contemporary Music Festival, London, UK; Stellar & Bolt Ensemble, Melbourne, Australia; FUJI||||||||||TA + id m theft able, Brattleboro, US; Cosmic Gathering, Chemnitz, Germany; Supersonic, Birmingham, UK; Monheim Triennale, Monheim am Rhein, Gernany; Grouper + Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, New York, US; New Opera Days Ostrava, Ostrava, Czech Republic
On Site: In The House Of Babylon, Eric Baudelaire & Alvin Curran When There Is No More Music To Write
Soundcheck: Cormac Begley, Breath Of Air, Alice Cohen, Core Of The Coalman, Eric Copeland & Josh Diamond, Jeff Cotton, Richie Culver, Richie Culver & Pavel Milyakov, Danger Mouse & Black Thought, Sarah Davachi, Greg Davis, Digital Selves, Nick Dunston, Bruno Duplant, Elucid, Chris Forsyth, Diamanda Galás, Maria W Horn & Sara Parkman, Howlround, Raphaël Imbert/Jean-Guihen Queyras/Pierre-François Blanchard/ Sonny Troupé, Kyle Kidd, José Lencastre, Kali Malone, Drew Mulholland, Kim Myhr, New Noveta x Vindicatrix, Oneida, OSEES, Panda Bear & Sonic Boom, Camden Reeves, Peter Rehberg, Manja Ristić, Gavilán Rayna Russom, Rusty Santos, Sawyer/Dwyer/Dolas/Kerlin/Renteria/Soubiran, Scarcity, Coby Sey, Matthew Shipp, Sleepsang & Phoneutrian, Terence Etc, Tetsu Umehara, Vādin, The Waterboys, Chris Williams & Leo Chang, Wormrot, The Young Gods, Various SN 2022 SS
The Boomerang: Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake, The Blue Notes, Peter Brötzmann/Fred Van Hove/Han Bennink, Al Cisneros, Duet Emmo, George Duke, Limpe Fuchs/Paul Fuchs/Friedrich Gulda, Toshi Ichiyanagi/Michael Ranta/Takehisa Kosugi, Cheri Knight, Lard Free, Oksana Linde, Sleep, Stereolab, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Melvin Van Peebles, Stomu Yamash’ta, Frank Zappa, Various Studio One Music Lab
The first compilation to be released on the PAN label, Mono No Aware collates unreleased ambient tracks from both new and existing PAN artists including Yves Tumor, M.E.S.H., Pan Daijing, Sky H1, AYYA, Jeff Witscher, Helm, TCF, HVAD, Kareem Lotfy, ADR, Mya Gomez, James K, Oli XL, Flora Yin-Wong, Malibu, and label head Bill Kouligas, moving through more traditional notions of what's considered ’Ambient’, to wider variations that fall under the term.
It’s an incredibly coherent suite of tracks that quite honestly sounds like the work of a singular, multi-facted artist rather than a disparate collection of pieces, something that’s perhaps testament to Bill Kouligas’ exceptional curation skills. While the album revolves around central themes of “an empathy towards things” or “a sensitivity to ephemera”, in practice it serves to beautifully illustrate the label’s depths in unity and common purpose with tracks by key roster - M E S H, Bill Kouligas, Sky H1, Helm, Yves Tumor, Jeff Witscher (Rene Hell) - as well as a smart influx of extended family and new producers - TCF, AYYA, Flora Yin-Wong, HVAD & Pan Daijing, Kareem Lofty, Malibu, Oli XL - who refresh and perfectly expand the label’s already unfathomable breadth of styles, personnel and their perspectives.
It’s also by some distance the label’s most sublime release, shifting thru 16 subtly personalised and compatible pieces, with results that speak to a world of increasingly chaotic flux and instability by simultaneously mirroring its confusion while also providing an inclusive safe space away from it; offering mutual gridwork for a spectrum of expressive nuance that takes in the billowing lushness of Egyptian artist Kareem Lofty’s Fr3sh at one end, and the colder digital soul of Danish/Chinese duo HVAD & Pan Daijing at the other.
In the space between, Mono No Aware transcends vast, ostensibly detached time and space between AYYA’s exquisite Second Mistake and Yves Tumor’s elusive/illusive Limerence to highlight their differences and similarities, vacillating the windswept dynamics of Helm’s Eliminator with ADR’s ambient-pop hymn Open Invitation and jumping from the needling peak of Mya Gomez’s justforu to Bill’s own ambiguous blend of agitated noise and aching melancholy in the rare outing, VXOMEG and in a tormented but optimistic way mutual to the M E S H and Sky H1 cuts and especially TCF’s C6 81 56.
On one level Mono No Aware helps to rescue ambient music from the clutches of neo-classical bores, and on another helps to firmly place it within context of the modern world. It’s a brilliantly curated, hugely satisfying collection of tracks from a label that never seems to rest on its laurels.
On their opulent first outing since 2015, the MVO Trio embrace negative space and dematerialised jazz dynamics for a sterling debut with Modern Recordings (Pat Metheny, Craig Armstrong, Hendrik Weber) and a new lineup that now includes Laurel Halo and German jazz drummer Heinrich Köbberling. V highly tipped if yr into Carl Craig's Innerzone Orchestra or Move D's Conjoint.
Typically rooted in extended, improvised jams, the lissom and grooving results were teased into their final form by Moritz at the mixing desk, where he imbues the playing with an effervescent spatial nuance and deftly spotlights its ear-catching peculiarities as the trio naturlly explore and inhabit the interstices of rolling Afrobeat structures, modal Detroit jazz/beatdown, and airy ECM minimalism.
Picking up in the ether where ‘Sounding Lines’ left off in 2015, the deep presence of erstwhile trio member Tony Allen (RIP) is adroitly channelled by Köbberling’s shuffling stick work, and decorated with blushing organ chords and vibes laid down by Moritz, who finds an ideal foil in Laurel Halo’s electronic gilding. In unison they hold a sublime tension that’s driving but floating, placid yet thizzing with cool energy as they cycle thru harmonically sonorous permutations of a dubwise jazz techno.
From the pointillistic percussion and vapours of the opener, the set arcs low and wide from passages of spiralling organ to swingeing depths, coalescing at the mid-way point with a proper jazz techno vibe recalling Moritz’s early works with Juan Atkins, and traveling to almost 4Hero-esque hi-tech jazz abstraction and back into the pocket with natty rhythms that resolve into proper, heads-up techno.
Stunning fresh material from iconic Japanese percussionist Midori Takada, who collaborates with Buddhist monks on this startling and powerful layering of traditional chants, Japanese percussion and marimba. Huge recommendation.
There's not much like this out there, that's for sure. In 2019, Takada assembled Buddhist monks belonging to the Samgha group of the Shingon school of Koya-san, led by Reverend Syuukoh Ikawa in Tokyo, and recorded a suite of liturgical chants. She supervised the recording herself and then laid down her own additions, fleshing out sacred texts with minimal percussion and the kind of spacious marimba composition she's best known for. Takada's experienced a renaissance since the reissue of her phenomenal 1983 solo debut "Through The Looking Glass" racked up praise back in 2017. She's often lumped in with the environmental music set - like Hiroshi Nakamura and Yoshio Ojima - but that's a misreading of her influences and intentions. Takada started out as a percussionist with Berlin's Symphony Orchestra in the 1970s, but got quickly bored, returning to Japan to dig into gamelan music, African drumming and 20th century minimalism.
When Takada began to record music with her group the Mkwaju Ensemble, it sounded completely unique, and her debut solo plate was even more singular, folding a deep knowledge of percussion forms into a near-ambient template. And while the resurgence of interest in her music certainly stems from the same YouTube algorithm that powered an obsession with Hiroshi Yoshimura's "Green" (and others), her music has quickly pulled away. In 2018, she recorded the fascinating (and still unfairly underrated) "La Renard Bleu" with Lafawndah, and "You Who Are Leaving to Nirvana" further builds out her legend, directing her outsized skills into even more unfamiliar spaces. Her music's always retained an air of spirituality - her influences often veer into sacred spaces - and this album is the first time it's been so specifically positioned. The majority of the record (six out of the seven tracks) is made up of specific traditional Buddhist chants - sacred esoteric texts - and filled out with a single new composition by Takada.
The recordings from Samgha group are the basis of most of the tracks, but Takada's additions shuffle "You Who Are Leaving to Nirvana" far to the left of any anthropological records that might have appeared over the years. Scraping singing bowls, ringing bells and creating reflecting pools of resonant, throbbing ambience, Takada increases the irresistible otherworldliness of the mantras. The core is intact, but Takada's soundscapes elevate everything to the next level; it almost feels like a match made in heaven - Takada's music has always BEEN this, in many ways, and to contextualize it so literally is fitting. There's no longer a need to compare her music to the ambient greats, now it belongs to a more hallowed canon: file this one alongside Arvo Pärt, Kali Malone and John Tavener.
The inarguable square root of so much post-, math-, and avant-rock to come, one of those records that makes history fall into place around it. R.I.P. Glenn Branca.
One of the most striking, singular débuts of its era, Ascension was and still is a stunning example of an artist pushing the boundaries of their chosen instrument. By this point Branca was already a staple of NYC’s No Wave movement with Theoretical Girls and The Static, two groups who strove to strip rock music back to its primitivist roots and rediscover its truth. After a small handful of records with those bands, he progressed to arrange his own group, the Ascension Band, revolving around Branca as one of four electric guitarists (also including a pre-Sonic Youth Lee Ranaldo), plus a bassist and drummer, who were gathered in order to explore the possibilities of massed, alternate tunings for multiple guitars, sowing the seeds for what would later fully come to fruition with the development of his symphonies for 100 guitars.
In five movements recorded at The Power Station, the Ascension Band explore the guitar’s then-lesser heard voices in a way which would directly feed forward into myriad strains of guitar music as we know it. Opening with Lesson No.2, a grindingly hypnotic motorik follow-up to his first EP Lesson No.1,the album takes in Branca’s 12 minute masterpiece The Spectacular Commodity a situationist-inspired piece full of complex tempo changes and thrilling discord, to variously investigate, gnashing, clashing harmonics Structure, and onto the monotone thrum of Light Field, and the nerve-jangling chaos of The Ascencion, which is the inarguable square root of so much post-, math-, and avant-rock to come, from Swans to Sonic Youth, and on thru GY!BE or even Raime.
The Ascension is one of those records that makes history fall into place around it, when given and heard in proper context. It’s just essential listening. R.I.P. Glenn Branca.
Vintage Jersey club sauce on this “lost” 2011 mixtape salvaged by Finn’s 2 B Real label on cassette tapes that are near guaranteed to last longer than a streaming link. 42 tracks, 70 minutes from Jersey Club’s golden era, all produced by DJ R3LL & DJ Kiff and lost to the internet after major label takedown requests - newly mastered and issued by 2 B Real.
Jersey club has long been a diamanté-plated touchstone for Finn and Local Action, whose enthusiasm for the sound has nurtured its revived popularity. Rooted in the Baltimore club style from further down the eastern US seaboard, and with parallels in NYC ballroom, Miami bass, and Chicago juke - or even UK hardcore and UKG - Jersey club’s hybrid of hip hop/R&B and scudding house kick drums is pure party tackle, built ruff and rude to whip crowds to a frenzy. DJ R3ll & DJ Kiff’s flex is legendary and now secreted to tape after long thought lost.
Newark, Jersey’s core duo DJ R3LL & DJ Kiff lay it down with a trowel, stitching dozens of classic burners in a deadly sequence of bumping bass drum triplets gilded with pitched up R&B vox and melody and party-starting call-and-response choruses. The sound is self-evident, clearly made for popping corks at the Ba Da Bing or Club Karma on a weekend, but just as ripe for UK nippers spraying Blue WKD.
While the sound nowadays has mutated into forms of Jersey drill, this tape hails it right on the cusp of slapping EDM’s massive, hormone-injected ass, replete with flips of LFMAO, Drake and contemporary pop madeleines primed to give flashbacks to your wildest nights on M-CAT back in the day.
After crafting an all-timer with 2008's 'Hazyville', Actress set his sights on the unknown with a futureshock debut for Honest Jon's.
Wheras it's predecessor was composed over a staggered period of many years, Splazsh was fashioned in a fraction of that time, lending a tangible symmetry between shapeshifting tracks that defined and propelled the era. Of the 14 tracks, we'd previously encountered the first two, with the unstable space float of 'Hubble' appearing on a shady Thriller 12" and his remix of Various Production's 'Lost' reminding us that there are some deep cuts in the Cunningham discography.
From here in it's all about that longing, sealing the airlock and initiating pressure sequence with 'Futureproofing', before laying down 'Always Human' - can u even remember a time you didnt know this one? Showing resistance towards any categorisation, 'Get Ohn (Fairlight Mix)' swerves down a side street into a footwurkin' face-off by sliding to a mutilated mix of Jon E Cash and Chez Damier played underwater. Next we hit the erogenous interzone of 'Maze' and that incapacitatingly lush bassline designed to lock into your central nervous system and send shockwaves of piloerection to every fucking corner of your soul.
After that, we're cynically dumped into the Ferraro-esque Prince tribute 'Purple Splazsh', and on into the Detroit ghetto stalk of 'Let's Fly'. The dissonant robo-crunk of 'The Kettle Men' and closing entry 'Casanova' confirm that if anything, Actress only suffers from a surfeit of ideas. Proof, if it were needed, that there is a sprawling future beyond the stasis of so much contemporary electronic music.
A gurny hours special spanning deep bleep rollers, steppers, and sexy grooves, sourced from down under by Andras and Instant Peterson.
A sister set to the ‘Midnight Spares’ session, and a springboard into the lesser-covered world of late night/early morning Australia in the ‘90s, ‘3AM Spares’ is brimming over with sensual suss that never quite made it to these shores, but we’re very happy finally did, with thanks to Efficient Space. Harvested from local 12” releases, CDrs and the archives of community radio station 3RRR FM, the dozen prime cuts included highlight an emerging scene and generation of clubbers around Melbourne’s southern antipodean outpost, and their pals from the likes of Sydney, such as Andy Rantzen, who would transition from industrial group Pelican Daughters to the queer darkroom house styles on ‘Leather Lover’ with General Elektrik. Or the likes of Turrbal-Gubbi Gubbi woman and Stolen Generations survivor Maroochy Barambah, whose set highlight ‘Mongungi (Dance Mix)’ was recorded in NYC but is most surely rooted in a much longer tradition than anything else on board.
Trust it’s full of surprises that endure on dancefloors today; there’s a tight late night stepper ‘Deepdown’ from Hypnoblob, DJ Sprinkles-esque deep house by transgender artist Jandy Rainbow & Adrenalentil, whose share roots in the post-punk/industrial scene with Andy Rantzen, as well as thee sleaziest disco beckon from Sobriquet in ‘Is This Your First Time? (Artificial Remix)’, a peachy bit of dub house sensuality in ‘Da Lub Club’ by Inner Harmony, and, living up to the compilation’s ‘3AM promise for sleepier heads, gems of twinkling ambient by Tetrphnm, and the gauzy drift of ‘Eliminated’ by Andy Rantzen’s Screensaver.
Tresor’s 300th release is a 15 track anthology of the Scopex label, a hugely coveted late ‘90s UK electro imprint whose releases by Simulant and Pollon now fetch triple figures for 2nd hand copies. When this set was announced a few weeks back, we could practically hear the collective relief of a thousand night owl neeks hooting at the moon and salivating at the prospect of fresh vinyl editions of Simm City, Out OfEther, and Electratech, all newly remastered from DATs and included here inside.
Right up there next to classic Drexciyan Storms and the black secret technologies of Ultradyne in the pantheon of 3rd/4th wave electro, Scopex releases defined ’90s electro at its tightest and mercurial best with a blend of razor sharp production and concise, sci-fi vision that’s rarely been surpassed.
In chronological order, you’ll find diamond-cut new pressings of Simulant’s Simm City , which is perhaps most noted for its Stinson-esque strengths in New Machines and the rare charms of Musical Box, or the low-lying missile Wav. Form (Mix), before Out Of Ether  dispenses some of the nastiest electro-funk to come from the UK in Knife Edge and the clenched swing of Access Future Audio (Mix).
Pollon’s Electratech  follows to open the 3rd disc with the tense angles of Lost Souls, as deployed by Objekt on his Kern Vol.3 mix for Tresor, and also included in a banging alternate Mix beside the epic Lonely Planet, while the previously unreleased, slow-mo sci-fi electro grunge of Optimal Flow completes the set and sees the label to its final resting place in one piece.
Come git it!
A somnambulant modern masterwork, Kali Malone’s 2017 debut full length album is made available again on vinyl some four years since its limited private press of just 100 copies co-released by XKatedral and Bleak Environment.
Composed, recorded and produced in Stockholm 2015-2016, ‘Velocity of Sleep’ sees Kali Malone’s work rendered in a septet of strings, gongs, lute, electronics and tape in the vast R1 Reaktorhallen (Sweden’s first nuclear reactor), the electroacoustic studio EMS, and at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. Her presence is crucial, and liminal, making precise use of tuned sine waves and Studer B67 tape manipulation, while instrumental performance is handled by Peter Söderberg performing on the long-necked Theorbo (a large baroque lute, pictured on the sleeve), Samuel Löfdahl and Oskar Mattsson on Gongs, Vilhelm Bromander on Double Bass, Marta Forsberg on Viola and Adam Grauman on Viola de Gamba - all uniting to produce what feels like a geological time lapse and distillation of European and Indian classical drone musicks.
As far as opening solo statements go, ‘Velocity of Sleep’ is among the most memorable to have emerged this past decade from slow music and experimental classical paradigms. Its languorous yet rigorous consolidation of ideas from across the aeons crosses paths with others before her - the musics of Pauline Oliveros, Phill Niblock, Harley Gaber, Oren Ambarchi all spring to mind - but more importantly helped reset the limits of contemporary music in Malone’s own image. The 3-part, 43 minute work is an ideal example of how staid notions of early and classical music have been jettisoned to instead focus on fundamentals of tone, timbre, tuning, space and temporality with a radical and transfixing effect coolly detached from any directly traditional/sacred meanings.
Peter Söderberg’s justly tuned Theorbo plucks a slowly evolving additive pattern expanded by frippertronic tape delays on the 20 minute title piece, setting a stark tone for a quietly breathtaking resonance of gongs and floating sine waves in ‘1113’ that rest right on the biting point of sublime dissonance, while ‘In Light of Marwa’ pitches into a sort of raga-folk-drone tuned with the fine, durational intensity recalling Harley Gaber’s ‘The Winds Rise In The North’ and earthy cadence of Pauline Oliveros’ vision, yet somehow concentrated, refreshed in a way that’s best felt, and quite impossible to describe.
New one from Shackleton for Honest Jon's, featuring a Mark Ernestus remix.
"Taking off from Beaugars Seck’s foundational sabar drum rhythms — recorded by Sam in Dakar in February 2020 — Shackleton has constructed a trio of intricately layered, luminous, enchanted, epic excursions. The second is more dazzled and meandering, with jellied bass, insectile detail, and discombobulated jabbering; the third is more liquid, fleet of foot, and psychedelic, with a grooving b-line and funky keyboard stabs, scrambled eastern strings and hypnotic vocalese.
The harmonium in The Overwhelming Yes sounds like Nico blowing in chillily from up the desert shore. The overall mood is wondrous, twinkling with light, onwards-and-upwards; an uncanny, dubwise mix of the ancient and the futuristic. Mark Ernestus’ Version is stripped, trepidatious, mystical, and stranger still, with just a snatch of the original melody, extra distortion and delay, and crystal-clear drum sound.
Twenty minutes of startlingly original music, with Shackleton the maestro at the top of his game, and a characteristically evilous dub by Mark Ernestus. Mastered by Rashad Becker; handsomely sleeved."
Prolific LA horn virtuoso Sam Gendel follows up his 2018 collab with bassist Sam Wilkes; u know what to expect by now, this is blunted bliss - all muted horn blasts and post-beat scene funk. Positive, spiritual meditations that we probably don't deserve.
Gendel's faded post-Dilla funk has been a reliable constant over the last year or so, and "Music for Saxofone & Bass Guitar More Songs" is more fuel on the fire. His deeply Californian sense of timing and harmonic sunshine is blessed here by extra soul from bassist Wilkes, and the duo go back and forth without overthinking anything.
The original album was recorded quickly to a 4-track recorder, and this process captures the immediacy of the duo's collaboration. On opening track 'Theem Prototype' they mirror that album's 'Theem and Variations' with squashed beats and a curling interplay between sax and bass.
Each track feels as if it's over too fast: 'I Sing High' is jubilant and tearfully effervescent, 'Streetlevel' is a clang and shake in a cavern of reverb, 'Flametop Green' sounds as if it's been recorded under blankets as the sun rises. It's healing music, and we could all use more of that right now.
Back once again and lovingly remastered, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's second collaboration - originally released in 2005 - still sounds just as icy, calm and deceptively melancholy as it did almost two decades ago. Includes an exclusive previously unreleased track on the vinyl version.
Carsten Nicolai started his collaboration with Sakamoto after the two met in Tokyo following Nicolai's first Japanese tour. A year later, the German minimalist was asked to rework Sakamoto's piano recordings for a compilation assembled by Japanese magazine Code Unfinished. The duo's chemistry was immediate, and this initial project kickstarted two years of musical back-and-forth that resulted in "Vrioon", their 2002-released debut. "Insen" appeared three years later, and was developed as the duo attempted to turn an isolated compositional process into a functional and unpredictable live performance.
The material here is broadly similar to their debut; Sakamoto performs on piano and plays in a style we've come to expect: sustained chords breathe into tiny flourishes that straddle European and Japanese musical traditions. Nicolai meanwhile is markedly restrained, backing Sakamoto with his signature rhythms, but chopping and editing more than adding too many additional sounds. The music is directed mostly by Sakamoto's glacial piano performance, that hands Nicolai's often emotionless digitalism a sorely-needed beating heart.
For anyone who's already familiar with the material, the new Calyx Studio master sounds great, and the inclusion of 'Barco' on the vinyl edition makes it an essential purchase for completists.
Iridescent with rhythmelody, the 2nd of two new albums from Japanese environmental ambient pioneer Takada plays to the percussionist’s sweeter side on her first solo recordings this century
In lucid contrast to the brooding solemnity of her collaboration with Buddhist monks, Shomyo of Koya-san, the durational sides of ‘Cutting Branches For A Temporary Shelter’ land featherlight and quietly joyful on the mind. Echoing the genteel appeal of her seminal debut ‘Through The Looking Glass’ (1983), and using instruments conserved in collations of the MEG Museum, Takada here performs her live rendition of ’Nhemamusasa’, a traditional standard of the Shona people, for mbira, which gained international fame for its version by Paul F. Berliner on the 1983 LP ‘The Soul of Mbira’.
Returning to a recurrent theme through her work, notably on 1990’s ‘African Percussion Meeting’ with Kakraba Robi, in ‘Cutting Branches For A Temporary Shelter’ the now 70 year old Takada lets her rhythms flow beautifully fluidly and easy, eschewing the more puckered melodies of her previous works for a more fluid flow of lilting melodic cadence. Slowly rousing with the delicately radiant touch that opens its ‘In The Morning’ section, Takada tentatively finds her rhythm and plays out its glittering permutations for 21 ineffably elegant minutes, whereas the ‘In The Night’ section finds her pulling back, to play more with space and overtones, and so gently that it appears she’s trying not to wake someone or disturb the museum exhibits.
The fourth issue of We Jazz Magazine, "The Call" for Horace Tapscott.
"128 pages 174 x 250 mm in size and printed on 140g Edixion paper with laminated 300g Invercote covers.
All articles presented IN ENGLISH. Stories include Horace Tapscott by Andy Thomas, Ava Mendoza by Stuart Smith, Tigran Hamasyan by Rui Miguel Abreu, Istanbul Scene by Alper Kaliber, Isaiah Collier by Daniel Spicer, Bill Frisell by Debra Richards, DJ Old Crank by Matti Nives, Tokyo Jazz Joints Vol. 2 by Philip Arneill, reviews, plus more."
After introducing Vegyn, John Glacier, OTTO, and pigbaby to the world, PLZ Make it Ruins roll out the warm soul of George Riley’s effortless debut EP
‘Delusion’ comprises four satisfyingly raw but accomplished spins on ‘90s R&B and rave tropes - just as they never did it back then - short circuiting convention and getting to the heart of her own sound. They’re succinct bumps for left-of-centre souls, with ‘Delusion’ subtly splicing rave breaks and gauzy chords into a summery swing under the main attraction of George’s classically disciplined but loose harmonies and dreamy intimations, next to the trilling breaks and lokey melodramatic appeal of ’Time’. On a proper slow jam tip, ‘Sacrifice’ cools off on the downstroke, giving her vox plenty of room to tell her short story, and ‘Jealousy’ pops some proper late ‘90s into early 10’s R&B giving Solange feels.
Keith Fullerton Whitman brings his 3-part Generators series for Japan’s NAKID label to a close with a third and final instalment that ravishes the senses with hybrid analogue/digital systems tekkerz.
Hazing into a solemn start of floating organ and slurred drums, the first part fizzes into action with pranging irregularities, tentatively allowing the system to voice varying pitches and nimble rhythms that resemble balletic footwork plies as much as classically-trained instrumentalist flurries. It’s deeply trance-inducing, meditative gear that over the course of 25 minutes slowly gains momentium and complexity, first adding robust arps to complicate the structure, treading the finest line of chaos and discipline. In time, those arps turn themselves into a rhythm track, landing somewhere between Whitman's earliest junglist works as Hrvatski and a sort of plucked rhythmic minimalism that reminds us of Mark Fell’s Sensate Focus, gliding on natural, brownian motion and flux of texture, punctuated by what sound likes a plucking of a drum machine from the inside-out.
In part 2 the mood pools and diffracts in slow-fast meter, bristling ruptures of atonality that send limbs flailing one way and then another, adding subs for a dimensional shift that’s rhythmically fractured but always grounded at the low registers. The wavy embroidery of Whitman's machines trigger each other in endlessly fascinating forms of gyring workshop ballistics and dub reverberations.
A special bonus piece ‘Meakusma (Generators, Soundcheck)’ is the most curious of the lot, with a lone clarinet heard in the air, perhaps a serendipitous inclusion form someone else’s soundcheck, lending an enchanting depth perception to his frolicking bleeps.
Laurel Halo lands on Latency with a cinematic suite featuring Oliver Coates on cello and drums by Eli Keszler.
Making her first move since 2017’s remarkable ‘Dust’ album, Laurel takes inspiration from her score work for Metahaven and Ursula Le Guin’s translation of the ‘Tao Te Ching’ in pursuit of a quieter, more tactile and elusive sound, moving deeper into a sort of twilight avant jazz realm that calls to mind the recently uncovered Luc Ferrari salvo on Alga Marghen as much as flashes of Conlon Nancarrow and the diaphanous swirl of Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas.
It's immediately obvious that this is a special release in Laurel’s catalogue. Two 10 minute works bookend the release; the sublime title track with its oneiric mesh of woodwind, early electronic music gestures, and almost funeral organ; and at the opposite end, a stunning symphonic piece that unmistakably recalls Gas, but also unlocks that sound’s potential from the grid thanks to Keszler’s free meter and an embrace of kaotic harmony deeply rooted in Derrick May and Carl Craig’s Detroit classics.
But that’s not to discount the bits in between; they’re also brilliant. From her pairing of Keszler’s inimitable snare rushes with dark blue keys and smudged, plasmic electronics in ‘Mercury’, to something like Mark Fell commanding an underwater gamelan orchestra in ‘Quietude’, and the rapid flux of keys in ‘The Sick Mind’, this one has us rapt from every angle.
Top shelf sci-fi thriller machine functions on Funkineven’s Apron Records, for fans of Dâm Funk, Shamos, Tony Price, dBridge
Night-vision goggles turned on, Quaid comes slick as fuck with the perfectly pulpy steez of ‘The Algorithm Don’t Like My Freek’, a narrative-based instrumental suite in the vein of his four albums to date, including the pair of ‘Dreem Static’ sessions for Apron in 2020/21.
Blessed with purring groove control and padded with lustrous synths, it feels like the lost score to a Michael Mann flick, scanning glittering city horizons in the panoramic open ’End Game’ and shuttling between kerb-crawling funk on ‘HyperReal’ to the romantic keytar riffs and bass plucks of ‘Secret Colors’, tempered by storytelling pieces such as the crimson-hued glyde of ‘Quantum Prophets’ and proper ‘80s thriller leads of ‘Future Attractions’, with debonaire turns of 808 electromance in ‘The Lovers’ , while perpetrating proper purple funk in ‘Untitled Freek’.
Estonia’s Rotrum extends an enchanting debut of boggy electro-dub on the MIDA label behind gems from Maarja Nuut & Sun Araw, Ajukaju & Ats, and Ruutu Pois.
Hustling it lokey and groggy somewhere to the left of Tapes and Ka Baird, Rotrum hashes out the plucky, hand-played percussion and lysergic slither of ‘Panko’ at a balmy 100bpm primed for late night gatherings in northern European forest glades and southern Estonian bogs, while the rickety lather of dancehall electro-dub in ’Tutelary’ feels like a Forest Swords cut that wandered off in the moonlight to relish its gurny pleasure on its ones.
NoLA-via-ATL donny Leonce resculpts UNiiQU3’s catty Jersey banger with peerless slickness for Local Action
The contemporary standard bearer for deep, sexy US club music, Leonce resets UNiiQU3’s vox to ‘Touch’ with a patented, lip-smacking hustle making exquisite use of redlight pads, glutinous bass and shivering trance arps perfectly balanced in-the-mix in a way that feels us he genuinely cares for club music’s history and future, bridging the devilish detail of classic styles with an effortless, contemporary fluidity and all-important sensuality that’s too often missing from the club right now.
Fucking chef’s kiss, mwah.
2000AD deep techno bangers by the boss Robert Hood on his M-Plant stronghold, remastered by Thomas Heckmann
Five parts of super slinky Detroit techno traction, cutting the spare figure of metallic organ and warring hi-hats on ‘Outlast’; pulsing 313 sci-fi tension in ‘Tactel’; the hunched drive of ‘Pattern St.’; classic Hood funk in ’Teflon’; and heads-down propulsion of ‘Fiber’.
Gqom hybridists Phelimuncasi return to Nyege Nyege Tapes for a second album of purple-hued, darkside energies that cross galvanized futuristic productions with frenetic MCing in isiZulu and English. Imagine DJ Lag, DJ Menzi and Byrell the Great in a blender and you'll get a vague idea of what to expect.
Nyege introduced Phelimuncasi to the wider world a couple of years back with a career spanning sampler that was released to much acclaim, but by that point they were already a long-established fixture on their local Durban scene. 'Ama Gogela' brings us right up to speed, allowing everyone outside of their Mlaszi township a chance to experience the sound and energy of one of gqom's most relentless, uncompromising units. Vocalists Malathon, Makan Nana and Khera team up once again with Gqom's most innovative producers DJ MP3 and DJ Scoturn, joined by locals DJ Nhlekzin and DJ Ndakx, alongside South Korea's NET GALA, who dropped the ace "신파 SHINPA" last summer.
The album starts on a delirious tip with 'I Don't Feel Like Legs', a DJ Nhlekzin-produced trunk bumper that lifts Malathon, Makan Nana and Khera's circular chants above a mass of subby womps and party clacks somewhere between Miami bass and classic gqom, complete with frenetic thee-part vocals, police sirens and chat delirium. NET GALA throws down another early highlight with the squelchy 'Ngiphupha Izinto', blasting Phelimuncasi thru rolling ballroom-adjacent snares and bee-sting synths.
'Maka Nana' features guest vocalist Bhejane riding a more traditional gqom blueprint, balancing a slithering drone against a familiar 120bpm bounce offset by those neon vocal chants, while 'Dlala Ngesinqa’ percolates with menace, a winding synth ramping up the tension with increasing intensity, and they leave it to the clipped vocal stabs of 'Uyaphi WeNano’ to present the most unhinged darkside energy on show, deployed at half speed for a tempo madness.
Mark Fell and Will Guthrie join forces for the second time this year with ‘Diffractions’, the 2nd in a two part series released via the new NAKID label set up by Koshiro Hino of Goat / YPY fame. On 'Diffractions' the pair push ever deeper into percussive R&D informed/inspired by Gamelan and Carnatic musics - massively tipped if you’re into anything from Autechre’s Confield-era abstractions to Milford Graves’ fluid drumming or even the insular soundworld of The Necks.
Rhythm has always been central to Fell’s work, from his icy, repetitive minimalist excursions with SND to his legendary run of unashamedly funked abstract house experiments as Sensate Focus. Here, he continues to excavate that rich seam with an ongoing collaboration with Aussie percussionist Will Guthrie; “Diffractions” pushing both artists’ interests into sharper detail, toying with polyrhythms and unusual tuning to uncover a suite of transformative fidget spins and sonic storm clouds.
“Diffractions” features another two lengthy pieces of future-facing percussive abstractions that blur the line between synthetic and organic. Taking the influence of gamelan and fusing it with the heaving computer music that Fell has obsessively picked-at over the last four decades, the duo here zoom into a sound that’s almost effortlessly engaging; each piece is almost twenty minutes in length but they shift and mutate into polyrhythmic outer-realms and eerie universes of microtonality that are hard to fathom in one sitting.
There are trace echoes of free jazz hanging from the rafters, the post-everything clatter of Humcrush and Food drummer Thomas Strønen’s mind-expanding solo material or even Autechre at their most confounding. The genius here is that just when you convince yourself that this music could only possibly have been generated by a computer, Guthrie’s unmistakably human flex edges into focus - playing with your perception - your expectations - in the most bold, innovative way imaginable. Basically, this record fucking rules.
First time on vinyl: The north Manchester x west Yorkshire soundsystem axis in heavy effect, churning up 21 cranky steppers from 1997
One of many Muslimgauzes to finally see the light of day on vinyl, his first meeting with The Rootsman (before 1999’s Return to the City of Djinn) is a fierce session of signature, sawn-off loops and soundsystem noise originally dispensed on Roostman’s Third Eye Music. Both artist shared a passion for dub principles that reverberates thru the release, with both drawing on their locale’s culturally rich backdrops, Cheetham Hill and Bradford, respectively, for a uniquely noisy and overdriven blend of sounds.
These ruffneck jams, beside The Rootsman’s plethora of self-releases, would pave the way for his Razor X series of extreme dancehall records with The Bug, but this lot held their own in a mix of ragga-hop rhythms and dub crud were entirely symptomatic of rave and underground music’s new age positivity giving way to a heavier, crankier lean at the end of the decade, just as this palette of Middle-Eastern percussion and tonalities would be sampled by the likes of Timba and The Neptunes. ‘City of Djinn’ sits somewhere in its own temporary autonomous zone of explorations, and hassicne become highly sought-after by the fiends.
Leonce sustains the pressure on his Morph Tracks label with two devilishly detailed twyss-ups for the night slugs and county queer functions.
Half a decade since his debut for Fade to Mind, Leonce has come to define the sharpest edges of contemporary dance music with his armfuls of original gear and inch-tight edits of anthems right on the sweetspot of “American Urban and experimental electronica”.
His 2nd drop of 2022 dispenses a pair of puckish zingers, squaring up the rugged bass geometry and panel-beaten percussion of ’Splinter’ with its jibber-jawed trance top-line and melodious thunk next to the more in-the-pocket, tracky hustle of ‘Corkscrew’, coming on like Karizma meets Roska galvanised in an acid bath of grinding bass skudge.
‘Codigo De Barras’ is the exceptionally tight first album from Lisbon-via-Manchester’s cult batida producer P. Adrix - now operating as A.k.Adrix - an LP bursting with shockingly sharp-cut but breezily animated dancers from the top shelf of kuduro, all fire this one!!!
Making good on the promise of P. Adrix’s incendiary 2018 debut EP, the Angolan-Portuguese producer’s first album as A.K.Adrix slickly recalibrates the whirring percussive mechanics of his acclaimed early works with a richer melodic tone in eleven tight, tempered productions. It’s a significant and confident advance of his style into a more supple, melancholic form of instrumental songcraft, following suit with slicker recent moves by Nídia and Blacksea Não Maya on Príncipe with outstandingly fresh contributions to one of the world’s most vital dance scenes.
The raw electric club buzz of Adrix’s early zingers is still present, only now more refined and betraying a craftier emotional intelligence and sensuality that’s beautifully apparent across the album. From the mix of haunting choral motifs and field recordings with Derrick May-like strings in opener ‘Ambiente Spiritual’, to the album’s standout centrepiece of gently hypnotic flute arps and tumbling tabla drums meshed into tarraxho rhythms on ‘Espuma Nocturna’, or the wide-eyed wonder of ‘Desenhos Animados’ with its impish woodwind and woodblock drums; it’s a rare pleasure to witness Adrix get deep inside his sound and really come into his own.
Anyone looking for the rude stuff will get it in the more raggo charge of ‘X50’, the thumping subs of ‘Hottttttttttt’, and the martial swag of ’Settings’, but the album’s dextrous and intricately efficient push/pull of energies between the club, personal sentiments, and naturally avant leanings, is perhaps best compared with Beatrice Dillon’s stunning ‘Workaround’ in the 2020 field.
Lars T C F Holdhus follows one of the very best releases of the new millenium so far, the 'Untitled' tape for YYAA, with another cryptic future-shock, his 1st for Liberation Technologies.
Continuing a trajectory away from the calculated dance mash-ups of his now-defunct Cracksmurf alias, this project and mini-album is based on a whole other algorithmic strategy, rendering densely coded formulae into utterly mind-boggling and synaesthetically affective compositions. Once you've heard his music and done a little research into his academic background and visual practice - he studied at Frankfurt's famed Städelschule; is fascinated by data encryption; loves a good brew - it almost becomes really hard not to hear T C F's music as immensely complex, fluctuating plumes of code billowing and refracting across infinite virtual landscapes.
It's staggering stuff, soaring between hardstyle peaks and the kind of ultra-lucid FX you'd expect to hear while watching Transformers at the iMax, traversing wide-open, lysergic ambient space and majestic neo-classical (more Matrix than Max Richter) gestures with an incisive balance of wry humour and emotional pathos that's all too rare, nay absent, from much stuff nowadays. Ultimately, words fall short of adequately describing this stuff; it simply needs to be experienced, fully immersed, piloerect, pupils dilated.
Second Circle pull Vancouver’s Yu Su into their fold with a tender, downbeat follow-up to her split tape with CS + Kreme and 12”s for Arcane and PPU
A snug fit for Second Circle, ‘Roll With The Punches’ operates at a woozy slow tempo that’s sweetly buoyant enough to keep dancers on their feet (just about), but also keep ‘em happy on their hiny in a 2nd room sorta way.
The first two songs are collaborations, firstly with Michelle Helene Mackenzie providing dreamily outta earshot vocals in the new age shimmy of ‘Little Birds, Moonbath’, before Pender Street Steppers chime into the sanguine, dusky balm of ‘Tipu’s Tiger’.
Left to her own devices, Yu Su drifts off to paddle in slow running waters in ‘Of Yesterday’ with lovely percussion and burbling, ‘The Ultimate Which Manages The World’ tests out a delicious sort of satinet ambient pop recalling that ace Frank Harris & Maria Marquez album, and ‘Words Without Sound’ feels like a Don’t DJ piece wilting under the sun.
Sublime debut of Environmental and electronic music from South Korea’s Salamanda, ushering a sylvan blend of wordless vocals and lissom chimes for Good Morning Tapes’ sought-after vinyl series. Highly recommended if yr into anything from the classic Environments (New Concepts In Stereo Sound) series to Sakamto x Sylvian, ISAN or even Orbital’s ‘Halcyon'.
A serendipitous discovery for the quiet ambient dance haven, Salamanda unfurl 41 minutes of rhythmelodic charms drifting between pastoral and etheric headspaces that seek to capture the life of a bird released from its cage. The Seoul-based duo of DJ Uman Therma (Sala) and Yetsuby (Manda) gently muster lilting pulses and hazed vocal inferences, limning a bird’s journey from morning to night with an ineffable lightness of touch that will likely lure the ambient romantics deep into their fragile, imaginative soundsphere.
There’s an almost folkloric appeal to Salamanda's suggestive soundworld, from carefully minimalistic turns of phrase between the opening of the ‘Bird Cage’ and its skittish flight, to 12 minutes of airborne flows as enchanting as an anime soundtrack in the centrepiece ‘Allez!’ and ultimately into the nocturnal dimensions of ‘Hide and Seek’ or ’Shadow Dance,’ where their sixth senses really come into play with an allusive, FM synth evocation of tiny bird movements flitting in and out of moonlight.
Like everything on this label, a proper charmer.
Scribbly sound paintings from Japan’s Akhira Sano, leading on from albums with Sun Araw’s label and Cassauna to The Trilogy Tapes
Existing in a liminal cloud space somewhere between Tomoko Sauvage’s tinkling experiments with ceramics and water, the dust mite dances of Bellows, or YPY’ glitching pulses, ‘Particle Dialogue’ is all brownian motion and crackle coaxed from undisclosed equipment.
There’s a sort of Murakami-esque enigma at play in Sano’s groggy logic that lends itself well to drifting off and letting it colour your background and airspace like some playful augmented reality projection where your speakers spit flecks of paint in the air and on the walls.
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.
The GRM cough up a critical split of atom-cracking strings and synthesis by leading figures in their fields, astutely contrasting the artists’ radical approaches and techniques.
It would be no overstatement to deem cellist Okkyung Lee and computer musician Florian Hecker among the pioneering spirits of their generation. Respectively, since the start of this century, they have pushed their chosen forms into utterly bewildering new shapes, and ‘Teum (the Silvery Slit) / Statistique Synthétique’ effectively proves their mettle at the start of a new decade, checking in a fiercely captivating tract of earthly, “telluric” acoustics, and a side of totally unearthly, hallucinatory sound synthesis from the top shelf of contemporary avant garde music.
Following her masterfully dreamlike suite ‘Yeo-Neun’ for Shelter Press, Okkyung Lee occupies the first side with a fascinating demonstration of probing, haptic technique in ‘Teum (the Silvery Slit)’, where she systematically plucks, scrapes, and coaxes an underworld of elemental gestures that resemble electricity crackling thru skin, strings and wood. On his half, Hecker follows from a recent album with Oswald Berthold (Farmers Manual) as CD_slopper with ’Statistique Synthétique’, sprouting 25 minutes of fractal not fractional, asymmetric geometries and unpredictable manoeuvres, from boring noise to filigree dissonant nuance and shatterproof, plastic plongs bound to turn your head to silly putty.
v, v good.
Simply one of the strangest, greatest pieces of music we know, Sleazy Peter Christopherson’s 2007 turn as Threshold House Boys Choir becomes the next Coil-related project to see a welcome posthumous reissue.
Originally a CD + DVD release presenting the work in its original A/V form, replete with utterly compelling video of young Buddhist monks in training, ‘Form Grows Rampant’ is hailed amongst the most cherished releases in the Coil microcosm. It finds erstwhile Throbbing Gristle, then current X-TG player Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson in a rare solo outing in the years after the tragic death of his life and creative partner Geoff “Jhonn Balance” Rushton. Sleazy sadly passed away in 2010, and spent much of his final years in Thailand, where he was inspired to conceive Threshold House Boys Choir. The name is a play on words, likely referring to his own past at boarding school in Durham and Yorkshire and also relates to the music’s use of a computer generated choir, of which he was credited as “director”. The project was performed live a handful of times before Sleazy passed, leaving only the elusive (now super spenny) 2nd hand release until this reissue came along.
A real go-to release for us at the most spangled hours of the day, ‘Part One: A Time of Happening’ is just untouchable; we’ve seen rooms of bodies melt before its transfixing glitch tintinnabulutions, practically prostrating themselves, piloerect and shivering, at its unearthly power. The rest of the release follows to perhaps lower heights, from the glittering gamelan and choral froth of ‘Intimations of Spring’, thru the curdled squirm of ‘So Young It Knows No Maturing’, etheric plainchant of ‘So Free It Knows No End’ to the folksy cosmic chorus and lilt of ‘As Doors Open Into Space’, but suffice it to say we guarantee that you’ll be coming back to gawp at the opener over and again.
Magisterial, glacial, attention-demanding and powerful exposition of Buchla 200 synth tones mapped to acoustic woodwind and brass by a promising young composer; Stockholm’s Kali Malone. A strong tip to fans of work by Caterina Barbieri, Emptyset, Sarah Davachi.
Arriving in the resonating wake of her self-released solo début Velocity of Sleep , and flanked by the recently issued Organ Dirges 2016-2017 tape for Ascetic House, the Cast Of Mind LP gently but grandly expands the constellation of Kali Malone's solo releases, next to her Upper Glossa collaborations with Caterina Barbieri, a tape with Ellen Akrbro, and acclaimed live performances.
Joined by Yoann Durant (Alto Sax), Isak Hedtjärn (Bass Clarinet), Gabriella Varga Kalsson (Bassoon), and Mats Äleklint (Trombone), Kali’s Buchla 200 Synthesiser forms the basis for a quartet of diaphanous and slowly unfolding electro-acoustic landscapes that externalise a highly personalised form of emotive topography.
In the titular opener, wood and brass trace the swooning ellipses of Kali’s Buchla contours in stately procession suggesting a sort of resigned march to battle, before the Buchla appears to dominate in the warped streaks of Bondage To Formula, but listen closer and it’s harder to tell whether it’s electronic or organic sources so fully lending flesh to her rich sound field.
The answer to that question is much clearer in Arched To Hysteria, whose keening, hunched electronic forces hold powerful potential to conversely induce paranoia and heavily hypnagogic effects, whilst Empty The Belief yields a lustrous, Raga-like drone capturing a marriage of Buchla and bassoon at their most transcendent and steeply attractive.
This one should be filed for reference and safekeeping beside recent transmissions from Sarah Davachi, Anna Von Hausswolff, and Catarina Barbieri = properly good.
Freshly re-mastered, "Symbol" was originally released in 2004 and follows Susumu Yokota's tried-and-true method of welding almost overfamiliar classical motifs onto fresh rhythmic grids. Gorgeous, timeless music that walks the conceptual tightrope between high and low culture expertly.
In many ways, the cut 'n paste technique Yokota had perfected by the time he released "Symbol" should have made him as notorious as The Avalanches, but his shyness and lack of showiness made him much harder to market. Here, he assembles classical music elements we've all heard hundreds of times echoing through our culture - whether on lofty recitals and self-serious movie soundtracks or on fairground rides and bank adverts - and frames them completely differently. Sometimes Yokota doesn't do much more than just loop a recognizable melody and cut it with another harmonic snippet, and occasionally he chops the motif, interrupting the perceived flow and forcing us to reshape our expectations.
Yokota will often utilize discernible rhythms - shifting into experimental electronics, breakbeat or techno - but mostly allows his samples to do the work, creating a meter as they loop. But it's his choice of music that's the most notable; Yokota swerves our Western reading of the classical canon and treats these well-worn sounds with sensitivity and egalitarian inspiration. Loops that we might avoid completely are twinned with elements that shouldn't work, but sound as inviting as a warm log fire on an ice cold day. Sure, it's cheesy, but it's supposed to be.
'Symbol' is a sentimental and affecting set of sample collage from an artist who left us too soon - if you've never heard Yokota's work before, it's a good place to start.
'Broadcast and The Focus Group investigate Witch cults of the Radio Age' is a dream sequence of sonics for the Hauntology canon, pairing Ghost Box's Julian House, aka The Focus Group, with longtime favourites Broadcast for a head swirl of psychedelic sampling, wistful vocals and charming melodic ephemera with an ominous underlying tension.
If you're at all familiar with either artist/s you'll fast acknowledge they've achieved a well poised balance between their respective styles, with House's involvement leaning the project more towards abstracted, collage-like arrangements recalling the soundtracks to Nigel Keale's cult TV series 'Quatermass' and Brit horror flicks 'Terror' or 'Witchfinder General', while retaining Broadcast's intimate song structures with Trish Keenan's haunting vocals and original instrumentation. We won't even attempt to describe these tracks any further as their magic is so intense and densely woven that much closer inspection would be required before emabarking on such a task. Suffice to say that the artists involved here have shared a wonderfully unique vision that needs to be experienced in private and intimate settings for full effect, preferably with the lights dimmed low, and after the witching hour. An absolutely essential release, one of the finest you'll hear this year.
Nurse With Wound do us all a favour and sort the wheat from the chaff of their legendary “List” in a bountiful new trawl for their spiritual descendants at Finders Keepers, this time with a focus on German artists. Wigs will be flipped, we tell thee.
For the uninitiated; on the back cover of their 1979 debut album, ‘Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella,’ Nurse With Wound alphabetically itemised a stack of records that had influenced them, often for the inclusion of only one track on the record. The records were so rare and obscure that people who picked up the album thought NWW were having a laugh, but eventually realised they were real, obtainable things, leading them to become proper collectors’ items. After more than 40 years, and to the delight of many, NWW’s Steven Stapleton now dissects the pertinent bits of heart, liver and vital organs from those records, highlighting a shared consciousness of the ‘60s / ‘70s experimental, psych, and avant garde scenes in the years before record collecting of that voracity became a competitive pursuit and the fancy of hirsute record fair hunters.
This second volume examines Germany's inclusions on the list and is another precious haul of spannered, synapse popping prog 'n psych rawnesz thru to druggy, burned out eccentricity and ragged Prussian post-funk fuzz. It's a wild, narcotic voyage down the styx, all loose jazz rawk rhythms, ripped woofer bass and screaming detuned axe leads, everything assembled with a pre-punk middle finger to established ideas of order and genre. More importantly, it avoids the gilted critic-proof Kraut canon of Neu!, Can, Amon Düül, Popol Vuh and the like, mostly 'cuz if you've missed that you've probably not been listening very closely.
Instead, we get to experience the jagged, off-key improv splatter of Wolfgang Dauner's 'Output', that pulls us into the Deutsche smokescape kicking, screaming and frothing at the mouth. It sounds like musicians playin against each other rather than together: drums are an assemblage of occasional fills, guitar riffs are mangled, smacked and panned, oscillators squeal drunkenly like sick insects and piano rattles and rolls to underpin everything with nautical anxiety.
Avant legend Limpe Fuchs and her husband's Anima-Sound duo appear with 'It Loves Want To Have Done It', a haunted, sparse improvisation that pits screams and whispers against tidal free-wonk percussion and pinging left-bonk effex. Underrated Detroit x Stuttgart Kraut-funk oddbods Exmagma fight thru blotter breath with 'It's So Nice', drawing a clear line in Sharpie between Black US innercity innovation and German commune-adjacent anti-establishment experimentation. It all follows a line far beyond the usual krautrock and kosmiche culprits to perfectly demonstrate the Germans’ rhythm-driven and psychedelic urges in abundance, highlighting the way a generational wave of musicians sought to create a new music unshackled from folk music tainted by their fathers’ generation, or imitating British and American styles; broadening their horizons while cognisant of the need to make a music that was, after all, expressive of a new society. Trust Steven Stapleton has picked out the most virulent, enduring examples for a new generation to absorb while watching their hairlines recede and waists and beards bloom…
Dom & Roland rejoin the veteran D&B cohort of Moving Shadow producers on Over/Shadow with a mean one-two of Americana-spliced tech-step and classy darkside carnage
Aye, you read that right, the legendary body mover draws on something like The Waltons theme for his opening gambit, ‘Fever Nights’, with an opening lick of harmonica and down-home atmosphere, before summoning the late ‘90s bruk in classic warehouse style, replete with patented breaks and orchestral percussion. If you hear “He’s got a heart hing!” in the dance, call an ambulance.
’Stingray’ is a more typically moody bugger, making fine use of nasal-drip synth leads, snarling neuro bass and barrelling rolige in a subtle and damn effective update of classic templates.
Nairobi, Kenya’s KMRU debuts on Mego with a suite of serene ambient scenes after emerging with Four Tet-like electronica releases in 2019 and recently starring on ‘Alternate African Reality - Electronic, Electroacoustic And Experimental Music From Africa And The Diaspora’
Known as Joseph Kamaru to his pals, KMRU was hailed by RA as one of ’15 East African Artists You Need To Hear’ in 2018 and is a regular performer at Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda, beside performing at CTM and Gamma Festival. For his Mego release ‘Peel’ it appears he’s been listening to label hero Fennesz, the Austrian experimental guitarist, or Will Long aka Celer, with whom his tracks share a certain, longing melancholy in their long, sighing arrangements of glistening and creaking ambient pads and mournful post-rock/cienmatic elegance.
“The subtle calming atmosphere within Peel belies the compositional prowess as layers of delicate sounds wrap around each other creating a hybrid new form ambient musics both captivating through it’s textural depth and kaleidoscopic patterns. The track titles lend themselves to the themes and mood set within: Why are you here, Well, Solace, Klang, Insubstantial and the title track. This is a deep heartfelt journey with a new strong voice being expressed through the means of organically presented electronic ambient sounds, one which reveals further layers on repeat listens.”
Éliane Radigue’s peerless series of acoustic compositions yields its mesmerising 4th instalment, exactingly performed by leading contemporary musicians Bertrand Gauget, Yannick Guédon, and Carol Robinson.
Since 2011, pioneering minimalist Éliane Radigue has shifted her attention from electro-acoustic phenomena, as explored in her seminal ’70-’80s works with the ARP 2500 synth and tape - arguably some of the c.20th’s greatest - to focus purely on the instrumental and acoustic realms. The results have been documented in her ‘Occam Ocean’ volumes since 2017, with each entry opening and invoking thee most curious harmonic relationships and timbres thru meticulous performance of strings, wind and voice. They are necessarily durational works, allowing the time needed to gauge both the nuance and the bigger picture of her work, each limning new horizons of minimalist drone which really only come into view with requisite time and committed listening (better yet with eyes shut).
While it’s really not ambient music, as in wallpaper sound, the effect may well evoke somnambulance to many, as the music’s sustained and ultra-subtly gradated transitions between tones can lure ears into space and most beautifully defocus the mind in key with Éliane’s Buddhist impetus, conjuring states of mind that we rarely achieve with other music. On ‘Occam Ocean Vol.4’ we hear regular collaborator Carol Robinson’s voix merged uncannily with Viola de Gamba, Alto Saxophone and Birbyné, a Lithuanian wind instrument in ways that caress and buzz our frontal lobes on ‘Occam Delta XIX’, while ‘Occam XXII’ is a stunning piece of Tibetan-style throat singing with masterfully intense overtones performed by Yannick Guédon, and we feel her patented sandman traction most strongly in Bertrand Gauget and Carol Robinson’s duet for Alto Saxophone and Bass Clarinet in ‘Occam River XXII’, where they conjure genuinely remarkable, unreal tones in the final parts that could easily be mistaken for coming from electronic sources.
After snatching our album of the year spot in 2021 with ‘Rhinestones', HTRK open up the vault for a feature-length collection of alternate takes, demos, and sketches augmented by a bunch of unreleased songs, compiled to coincide with their US tour happening round about now. Love this band so fucking much.
Offering a “glimpse behind the veil” at last year’s most effective emotional support animal, ‘Death Is a Dream’ plays like an unexpected encore transmitted straight to the heart. It’s such a weird, real pleasure to hear these songs distilled and viewed from other perspectives, as with the ‘rehearsal’ take on ‘Gilbert & George’ or the slow thrumming ‘Eurodance’ version of ‘Kiss Kiss and Rhinestones’, while the newly unveiled songs are no doubt worth cost of admission alone, particularly the tear-jerk jangle and blunted croon of the title tune that closes the tape and appears to feature Nigel’s voice.
A shivering new backbone of minimal, pulsing reverb-drenched 808s now bolster their watercolored strings in ‘Valentina (Cali Highway Version)’ while the clipped drums on ’Straight to Hell (Demo)’ frames the scene with brilliantly different strokes, while ‘Reverse Deja vu (Demo)’ is stripped to heartbreaking quintessence complete with woodblock drums piercing the melancholy.
"lost highway jukebox standards”, indeed.
It’s been a decade since Andy Stott released ‘Passed Me By’, a radical re-imagining of dance music as an expression of “physical and spiritual exhaustion” (Pitchfork). What followed was a process of rapid remodelling: ‘We Stay Together’ (2011 / slow and f*cked, for the club), ‘Luxury Problems’ (2012 / greyscale romance), ‘Faith In Strangers’ (2014/ destroyed love songs), ’Too Many Voices’ (2016 / 4th world Triton shimmers) and ‘It Should Be Us’ (2019 / the club, collapsed) - a run of releases that gradually untangled complex ideas into a singular, chaotic body of work - somewhere between sound-art, techno and pop.
In early 2020 - with a new album almost done and an offer to produce for a mainstream artist on the table - personal upheaval and a pandemic brought everything to a sudden standstill. Months of withdrawal eventually triggered a different approach. recording hours of raw material; slow horns, sibilance, delayed drums, wondering flutes - whatever, whenever.
With vocals recorded by Alison Skidmore, the album was finally completed late last year- taking on a different shape. Its songs desolate, melancholy, defiant, beautiful - often all at once. The sounds echoed music around Stott during those months: Prince, Gavin Bryars, A.R. Kane, Bohren & der Club of Gore, Robert Turman, Cindy Lee, Leila, Catherine Christer Hennix, Junior Boys, László Hortobágyi, Nídia, Prefab Sprout - the unusual / the familiar.
Echoing that mix of new and old, each of the songs on ’Never The Right Time’ is woven from the same thread despite following different trajectories; from the lovelorn shimmer of opener ‘Away not gone’, to the clattering linndrum pop of ‘The beginning’, through ‘Answers’ angular club haze, and the city-at-night end-credits ‘Hard to Tell’. These are songs fuelled by nostalgia and soul searching, but all hold true to a vision of music making as a form of renewal and reinvention. A 10 year cycle, complete.
Leading-edge bassbin shapeshifter Pessimist delivers bone-rattling D&B and brokebeat workouts for his spiritual home at UVB-76 Music.
‘WPN-1 / WPN-2’ is the Bristol mutant’s first shot of ’22, and sees him follow the explorative examples of his recent 12”s for Berceuse Heroique and Hotline Recordings into darkest corners of the warehouse. The first one comes off like Shackleton doing it for Renegade Hardware, all gnashing percussion and cold reverbs with an unyielding flow, intensified by nasty stabs and midnight jungle atmospheres in the 2nd half - a lowkey masterclass in stush D&B concentration.
The other cut slows right down to a broken techno meter, rolling out like Fret on a bad one, lighting up hard-bitten breaks with searchlight synth flares like one of his rider, downbeat works with Holsten.
Compelling, deftly pulsating new age kosmiche treks from instrument builder Tony Rolando, whom his collaborator Alessandro Cortini describes as “a source of sonic emotional relief and enlightenment”
Fleet on the heels of his 2021 debut ‘Old Cool Echoes’ for Important’s Cassauna label, comes ‘Breakin' Is A Memory’, two pulsating and widescreen testaments to both his skills as an instrument builder, and his tactile familiarity with the machine. Comparable with early 0PN, Caterina Barbieri, and indeed, Alessandro Cortini, with whom he worked on creating the Strega instrument in 2019, the durational works bridge early ‘80s spheres and the modern day in sleek, polychromatic arcs cascading with sumptuous iridescence and urgent rhythms that feel as though they’re searching for a film to soundtrack or a life to excite.
Presented as with the option to play at 33 or 45 for remarkably differing results, at 45rpm, as found on the individual digital cuts, it’s a thrilling ride deftly layering his arps into crystalline lattices that evoke the feeling of sitting still while moving at speed between the uplift of ‘Running Toward an Edge’, to a sort of warped synth-pop sound like Mick Karn on Ket jamming with 0PN in ‘Moonlit through a Veil of Smoke’, and the Tangerine Dreamy tang of ‘Breakin’ Is a Memory’. The other side follows a subtler route of low-lying frequencies and fantasy flick synth vamps with ‘In a Forest of Phenomena’, to give his Strega a run out with the chrome-burning flares of ‘Broadcasting Live from the Funhouse (Strega Version)’.
French sound artist Roméo Poirier pens a loveletter to Jan Jelinek with the Farben-esque 'Muscle De Sable', bagging a remix from the man himself and then remixing the remix. A veritable musical human centipede.
Poirier follows 2020's Sferic-released "Hotel Nota" with this latest for Jelinek's own Faitische imprint, and if his previous work was clearly inspired by the German vanguard, this one's a straight up tribute. 'Muscle De Sable' harks back to Jelinek's peak period, the stunning disco-inspired color series under the Farben moniker, and his 2001 album "Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records", with loungy glitches sitting cross-legged behind slippery disco-cum easy listening strings and clunkily looped pads. At any point it sounds as if the track's about to boil over into a house-friendly 4/4, but even Jelinek refuses to take the bait on his own version, instead adding familiar pitch bends and foley clatters.
Poirier himself finishes the cycle, grabbing hold of Jelinek's additions with both hands and centering them in an almost three-minute coda that'll be highly satisfying for ~Scape devotees.
Welcome edition for Blod’s standout side of pastoral free jazz, atmospheric whimsy and nostalgic melody bathed in uncanny midnight sun
The cult figure behind a string of singular titles on Förlag För Fri Musik and his Discreet Music over the past decade, Gustaf Dicksson aka Blod could be considered a spiritual bridge between Don Cherry, Civilistjävel! and Ernest Hood for his daydreamy elisions of free jazz and pottering, home-brewed keys. Hailed a landmark in his catalogue ‘Leendet Från Helvetet’ offers an enchanting window on Blod puckering his sound into its tightest album form, drifting between wooden drum pulses, shimmering marimba and barnyard free jazz honk to the kind of ‘60s folk whimsy that one might expect to hear soundtracking ’Nuts In May’ or just as equally some some Swedish horror set in the months of midnight sun.
It’s the sound of a loner mind making up instrumental fairy tales and entertaining the nostalgic nooks of memory, prizing a timeless sense of innocence and freedom over modernity and offering a fine escape pod for anyone suffering the banal chaos of late stage capitalism and seeking to go musically offgrid.
Murky bedroom techno, jungle and ambient melancholy from Kassir, marking his solo debut on Gost Zvuk along with guest appearances from Perila, Shumopeleng, and DJ Anibari
Hazily hypnagogic but burning with a desire to dance, ‘Brown White’ plays out a fleeting mix of moods and grooves, strafing from collaged cinematic ephemera to sleepwalking deep techno recalling Morphosis and Actress in his solo works, while the collaborators help reveal further aspects of his style, from the burned-out ambient techno noise of ‘Naiv’ with Perila, thru a trio of highlights ranging from cloudrap to washed out jungle and dream-whizz techno with Shumopeleng.
Super heavy keta-dub 12" by Namahage, DJ ScotchEgg's mysterious little side project on Zonedog. Hand stamped with glow in the dark ink! Strictly limited vinyls, no digital!
"'Waku Waku Doom' on A is a true low end epic. Hazy vocal scraps are flying over vast fx landscapes and percussion loops, all moving in lava lamp speed - until the track properly twists into phase two... The beatless 'Bathyscaphe' on side B goes on a deep sea dive, balancing awe and terror as the submersible slowly descends deeper and deeper into the silent world of immense pressure. Intense journey!"
Mor Elian returns to her Alloy Sea project after 2020's brill "Petrichor" tape, borrowing IDM aesthetics, dub tech and new age drones to construct tweaky FM bass-music inversions. RIYL Arovane, B12, Martyn, T++.
When Elian debuted the Alloy Sea project, it was with 50 continuous minutes of flowing ambience and dub techno-indebted moods, assembled like a mixtape and released on her own Syn Syn label. 'Xoomin' is a more robust proposition, put together at the request of Paralaxe Editions' Dania Shihab and made up of eight FM-powered tracks that betray Elian's love of early IDM and glassy new age sounds.
The linking thread on 'Xoomin' is Elian's sonic palette, using frequency modulated synths - the sounds most commonly connected to Yamaha's DX-series of synthesizers - to give the record its particular sound. Combining these textures with snippets of voice, she makes music that exists in a hypnogogic state, between dancefloor and sleep zones.
Opener 'The moment' deploys Elian's vocals at an almost inaudible level, smudged into raw Grouper-esque notes underneath synth blasts. Just when you expect the track to erupt into a full-pelt 4/4 monster, Elian pulls it back. 'You stepped outside' is muddier still, sounding as moody and dreamlike as Motion Sickness of Time Travel and as rhythmically propulsive as B12's defining 'Time Tourist'. The use of FM sounds roots 'Xoomin' in 1980s electro and TV soundtrack aesthetics - we can't help but get reminded of Peter Davidson's Radiophonic Workshop run - but Elian saturates these sounds and curves them thru nu-dub ideas to separate them from their usual cultural references. So while 'On your skin' sounds relatively throwback, 'Rain fell down' drags the glassy sounds thru miles of muck, sounding closer to Vladislav Delay or T++.
'We will never' is our pick of the bunch - a mid-point between early electronic experimentation and electro punchiness, it flows around a single, distorted low-end synth tone, moving slowly thru robotic, rhythmic loops, before being suddenly disrupted by sharp FM blasts.
DDS catch enduringly absorbing sonic alchemist Jim O'Rourke at his knottiest and most ingenious in a wormholing suite of amorphous rhythm and psychedelic electronics - a massive RIYL Autechre, Roland Kayn, Bernard Parmegiani, NYZ, Keith Fullerton Whitman.
Playing up to and into DDS’ freeform aesthetics, O’Rourke renders 40 minutes shearing hyaline synth tones and ruptured rhythm generated at his Steamroom facilities in Tokyo, a modular out-zone trawling that harks back to his iconic Mego releases and some of the more recent Steamroom experiments. It’s an ideal addition to the ever expanding DDS cosmos, following Demdike’s recent ‘Drum Machine’ expo with a slice of purist and screwed modular magick that transcends early electronics and modern styles in pursuit of musical sensations that defy stylistic brackets.
'Too Compliment’ was assembled using a bespoke Hordijk modular system, a rare West Coast-style setup hand made by Dutch engineer Rob Hordijk. O'Rourke focuses on the frequency shifter here, using it to coax out fluxing tone thickets, haphazard frequencies and elongated drone corridors. It's transportive stuff, harking back to the early days of private press academic synth music but also sitting on edge alongside Autechre's recent long-form work, as well as O'Rourke's classic "I'm Happy, And I'm Singing, And A 1, 2, 3, 4”
In O’Rourke’s hands, the mass of electronics takes on throbbing, organic dimensions, congealing grey matter and purplish veins of fluid in viscous transitions that glisten and spark with invention as they form new tissue. What comes out is as unearthly as the earliest electronic music, but also blessed with a psychedelc spirit in a way that’s long kept O’Rourke right out on his own, teetering between paradigms yet never settling into any single style. If you’ve always been keen on finding a way into that sprawling soundworld, 'Too Compliment’ is a perfect entry point into a highly rewarding creative macrocosm.
Mindboggling new material from GRM pioneer Beatriz Ferreyra and British acousmatic expert Natasha Barrett. Seriously next level outer zones for dedicated, adventurous listeners.
Ferreyra has been pushing sound into new directions since she joined the Groupe de Recherches Musicales in 1963 and here offers up new twelve minute piece 'Souvenirs cachés' and bundles it with 2003's shorter 'Murmureln' to fill out the A side. On the flip, tireless British sound alchemist Natasha Barrett explores Norwegian culture with 'Innermost', a long, ghostly abstraction of whispers, shouts and drones.
Both sides are essential listening for anyone with even a cursory interest in offworld abstraction or concrete music. Ferreyra's side sounds like the gurgle of a room full of woodwind instruments, pushed into a swamp of digital FX and seismic tectonic shifts. It's psychedelic by its very nature, toying with our learned perception of sound and tripping up our brain's programmed responses; voices become synthetic gurgles and electronic womps and transported into airy hisses and almost imperceptible clanks and croaks.
Barrett meanwhile uses two long recordings from outdoor events in her home base of Norway. Over the course of the piece, echoing almost inaudible voices and cheers suggest the blurry quality of memory before being squashed into numbing drones, pulling the mind into dark recesses pocked with occasional beams of light. It's phenomenal stuff, and both sides compliment each other perfectly.
Kosmische dub, faded soundscapes and sublime, haunted acid? Don't mind if we do.
'Spume & Recollection' is Berlin duo Driftmachine's sixth album, and fleshes out the pitch-perfect cosmic experimentation of their previous run of full-lengths with journeys into dilated bass musick and knackered modular techno. It's evocative stuff from beginning to end; Andreas Gerth and Florian Zimmer prefer to work in long-form, allowing their hardware jams to evolve slowly over ten minutes rather than chop them off before they've had a chance to breathe. The two producers are concerned with the small details rather than flashy tricks - there's a feeling that the music sits out of time, sounding like Rhythm & Sound, Deuter, Cluster and early Plastikman (particularly the sinister "Consumed") all at once.
'The Surge At The End Of The Mind' is an early high point, reminding fondly of Andreas Tilliander's TM404 project with squelching, acidic bass and brittle percussion that swirls in lysergic spirals, leaving empty holes where a kick drum might live. And when the album reaches its peak on closing track 'Soon I Will Disappear', mournful shortwave pads beam suggestively from undiscovered lands, decorating a shuffling inverted dubtekno beat that sounds like Deepchord at their druggiest. Wow and flutter.
Open-hearted and fiery techno-dancehall futurism from the Democratic Republic of Congo's Rey Sapienz, vocalist and dancer Papalas Palata and rapper Fresh Doggis. Tradition, anxiety, conflict and stargazing fever dreams of the future for fans of Zazou Bikaye, Don Zilla or STILL.
Brought up in the midst of the bloodiest conflict since World War II, Rey Sapienz used music to both audit his horrifying experiences and momentarily escape reality. He started rapping at only 12 years old, before leaving the DRC for Uganda and learning to make beats with Kampala's growing crowd of visionary producers. "Na Zala Zala" is the result of Sapienz attempt to create a Congolese response to techno, and positions him alongside two performers who bring their own unique experiences to the mix.
Papalas Palata was a singer in Congolese legend Papa Wemba's band and was expected to be one of the greats of the genre. But war has a derailing affect on progress, and as his country was forced into catastrophe it was impossible to continue his work. Rapper Fresh Doggis is younger and brings his own unique perspective to the mix, learning his craft in a country ravaged by war. Between them, the three artists have developed a style that sits with the traditions of Congolese soukous music, but spikes it with ideas formed from a love of rap, techno and experimental music.
Both vocalists trade words in Lingala, singing and rapping about the constant anxiety that comes with their memories of the DRC. These words are splayed over beats that use Congolese percussive elements and loop them into kinetic, rolling rhythms that draw a straight line between techno, footwork, soukous and the 'ardkore continuum. It's expansive, motivated and unmistakably political music - the sound of artists who are screaming for their stories to be heard in a world that has ignored them for far too long.
Mazy no-wave dub killers by Grim Lusk’s Dip Friso, committing a 4th session of sawn-off drums, atmospheres and edits to surrealist effect on their Real Landscape label.
Hashed out in Glasgow and resonating with the city’s fine, strange energy, ‘Crocodile or Real?’ stages a gloriously daydreamy sort of sojourn from reality that variously bends between aspects of illbient, DIY concrète cut-ups, post-punk and dub, proper, in order to limn a day-in-the-life feel to proceedings. The results comfortably sit next to records from the 12th Isle quadrant, edging on new age exotica realms, but blessed with a haptic oddness and unexpected detours towards more elusive pleasure centres.
Ruffcut in a way that’s too often forgetten in favour of so much surface sheen, the dozen tracks fracture and stumble to create an engaging mosaic with a brilliantly groggy logic, drifting from the lounge swirl of the title tune thru half-cut vignettes like ‘Bananas’ to Dilla-esque sample chops in ‘Good Morning’, and what sounds like Golden Teacher in miniature on ‘Zig Zag Serpentine’. The serrated edges of ’Seventh Dub’ meanwhile recall Yong Yong’s wonky oddities, and ‘ThatIs Ugly (Whats Going On-) sounds like it crept out of an NYC sewer circa 1980, before it starts to congeal into more hallucinatory measures of Nyabnghi-like whorl on ‘Danger waters’, and precipitates the BAT-like grog of ‘Storm Clouds’.
Strong, weird gear.
Nyege Nyege presents another lightning-fast set from Tanzania's fresh 'n boundlessly creative singeli scene, this time zeroing in on Duke's Pamoja Records studio and its local cast of young MCs. There's nowt else like this - jerky, breakneck 200bpm+ rollers with Dar Es Salaam's most exciting vocalists trading bars overhead.
Pamoja boss Duke started making music when he was just 13 years old, opening the doors to his studio when he turned 18. "Sounds of Pamoja" is a document of his self-styled "hip-hop singeli" sound and his contribution to the blossoming Tanzanian scene, featuring a varied roster of youthful spitters: Pirato MC, Dogo Kibo, MC Kuke, Dogo Lizzy, MC Dinho, MC Kidene and of course MCZO, who'll be familiar to anyone who caught Duke on tour pre-COVID-19. And for a country with half its population under 15 years old, it's hardly surprising that Tanzania's most vital dance sounds are being pioneered by a group of producers and vocalists barely over 20.
'Sounds of Pamoja' brings back the sweat of rave backrooms or rap basement parties, with samples, shoutouts and chipmunked adverts hiccuping between breathless MCs and overdriven, clattering production. This is dance music that exists leagues outside the polite world of business techno and the nauseating sponsored content realm: its tongue twisting vocals and blink-and-you-miss-it glo-fi rhythmic shakes make it an uncategorizable and challenging movement for the lifestyle set. As soon as you think you have a finger on what's going on, the beat is likely to shift, the sample flip and the vocal mutate into something completely different.
Duke's outlook is different from many of his contemporaries; influenced by US rap as much as local Tanzanian producers and performers, he finds a sweet spot between the surreal, tongue-twisting sound of early Busta Rhymes and singeli pioneers like Jay Mitta and Bampa Pana. So the music we're treated to here sounds rougher and harder than the sounds on Nyege Nyege's last Tanzanian compilation, 2017's brilliant "Sounds of Sisso". Since then the sound has shifted considerably, and Duke's take on singeli retains the backbone of taarab - a popular traditional fusion of East African and Middle Eastern sounds - but offers it the immediacy of a ringtone.
If you wanna remember what joy and pure physicality sounds like, there's few other dance movements out there right now with the same levels of kinetic pressurei. "Sounds of Pamoja" is for the dancers, in the best possible way..
The long-awaited debut release by yung new producer Croww for The Death of Rave, somewhere between a mixtape, imagined soundtrack and demonstrative showreel pieced together from a Slipknot sample pack used by the band’s Craig Jones on their landmark debut album and highly recommended if you're into Autechre, Rabit or Total Freedom.
The severely gurned and kerned result is the Prosthetics (MechaMix) unique to the vinyl edition, and four constituent Prosthetics, featuring the original samples painstakingly dissected and assembled in uchronic form to suppose an alternate history of the last 20 years of pop and subcultural phenomena, one where rap metal is dissolved and alloyed with the extremities of grindcore, flashcore, late ‘90s D&B and hypermodern rap instrumentals. Safe to say it sounds like naught out there right now.
Gestated from the seeds of a conversation after 2015’s Moss Side carnival, Prosthetics has grown into a sort of hybrid golem via intensely scrupulous sessions spent panning the original sample pack for flecks of precious, vantablack metals. In the process it became as much a study in coming to terms with formative influences as an exercise in sui-generis sculpturing, effectively forming a noumenal sidestep around the sub-cultural phenomena of Slipknot’s (like it or not) landmark debut record - an album which, at the time, sent shockwaves thru teenaged suburban bedrooms and the kind of clubs you could then get into with a fake ID.
With the benefit of hindsight, Croww has acknowledged and figuratively taken those early influences on a vector that few would have imagined back then. From the record’s early warning of “...they’re doing something rather curious with the parts of the body, in a way we don’t fully understand…” the piece buckles and convulses in a reticulated series of wretches and spasmodic yet disciplined blast beats as much associated with Columbian paso doble as the pitching meter of La Peste’s seminal flashcore tracks or grindcore proper. Samples from Iowan public access TV are mutilated in the strangely brittle yet mercurial mix, whose Black Metal-debted pallor is unpredictably lit up with flashes of shellshocking psychoacoustic treatments in a complex, sci-fi style dramaturgy punctuated by abyssal lacunæ and intensely detailed cues.
To be honest, The Death of Rave was never into Slipknot at the time, yet it was hard to ignore their ubiquitous presence if you were at all inclined to look beyond prescribed chart chaff. But, as the business end of late ‘90s house and trance has become a de facto club soundtrack in 2017, Slipknot’s awkward outsider legacy deserves some polish and attention.
Croww has turned Slipknot’s cultural cadaver into a polysemous mutant that works as a brutalist DJ tool, or indeed as an introductory mixtape/imagined soundtrack boldly expressing the artist’s individuality, which feels deadly important in an age swamped by mimetic clones blindly chasing empirical populism on one hand, or all too happy to wallow in staid ideas of nostalgia on the other.
It's a beguiling reminder that there’s always a third hand, a third track or third path.
Aye whats this? Omar-S’ FXHE with a deadly set of dripping Jit x Ghettotech x Footwork energies from the Motor City, produced by Milf Melly & King Milo aka Hi Tech, cutting fast tempos with smudged strings and city-at-night romance. It’s full deadly gear, huge tip if yr into anything from Shake Shakir to DJ Nate to Alexander Omar Smith, you know it.
Hitting one of the label’s rarest seams of inspiration, Hi Tech tip the needle up to proper 150bpm+ tempos in a contemporary echo of classic jit steez. While FXHE is best known for deepest, rawest Detroit techno-house, Omar has previously touched ass at this tempo with ‘Jit’ off his debut LP, and more recently on ‘Ain’t No Real Pimps Anymore’, but never indulged quite to this extent, with Hi Tech brandishing a fully fledged combo of quick drums and glyding chords peppered with pitched vox that goes hard, we tell ya.
Built for DJs, the dance, and gas-guzzling road boats, Hi Tech’s debut efforts balance the upfront ghettotech rawness of jit, proper, with a more debonaire flair in 11 parts; tapping in with the Henny-flavoured neon wooze of the opener, and holding the line thru butterfly drums of ‘Big Prism’, to the female vocal kiss of ‘Poppin @ The Suite’ and ‘Funny F*ckwits’; pulling up to ruggedest rap on ‘$$$cashapp’, with MC ‘Milf Melo’ taking the spotlight on it’s juiciest highlight; and ‘I Swear It’s a Bop’ best revealing the sound’s shared DNA with Chicago footwork, beside a Future-facing curtain closer ‘Fitness By King Milo’.
Straight killers, don’t sleep!
Like waking from a dream, only to return to its febrile clutches, ‘Musick To Play In The Dark²’ extends the etheric pleasures of Coil’s turn-of-millennium classic on a keenly coveted, first time vinyl reissue. Pinch yourselpH…
Reaped from the sessions that became Coil’s 1999 calling card, its sibling piece emerged one year later to explore further folds and aspects of the same physical studio space that begat the duo’s noumenal projections. Produced at their palatial seaside estate in Weston-Super-Mare - a sleepy retirement town where they must have stuck out like alien ambassadors - the results get more intimately acquainted with the fleshly and plasmic spaces first unveiled by ‘Musick To Play In The Dark’; taking a more languorous look inside/outside themselves under the glowing auspices of what Jhonn Balance termed “moon music” - a perfectly poetic summation of their late period style of melting parlour musick designed to soundtrack the partners’ notorious narcotic escapades.
Like its precedent, the album simply exists in a skin and league of its own, with Sleazy & Jhonn placing their exploratory studio tekkerz at the service of slippery songs that have patently endured due to the quality of their spell casting, carrying their legacy to soothe, bamboozle and perplex future generations. Embracing stellar kosmische as much as Italian renaissance chamber composition and the peculiar electronic glitches that emanated from their organismic studio, the duo took their role as psychopomps seriously and most playfully, bridging the depths of their imaginations and ours with an effect that only seeps deeper with every return to the album’s hallucinatory sensuality.
Also involving the clammy touch of Thighpaulsandra, and the presence of goth pin-up Rose McDowell, the album is as close as you'll likely get to the heart or solitary soul of Coil’s sound. Between the mantric invocation of ‘Something’, the astral carpet ride of ‘Tiny Golden Books’, and carmine harpsichord seep of ‘Paranoid Inlay’, thru the shivering soliloquy of ‘Where Are You?’, it feels like watching them watching themselves melt into the mirror after too much this and some of that, and we’re always here for it.
'The Noise Made By People’ was the first album of original material Broadcast recorded for Warp and included “Echo’s Answer” - easily one of the most beautiful and peerless songs ever recorded by the band.
It’s hard to quantify just what made Broadcast so unique, but the song distills perfection into a 3 minute package that has lost none of its emotional weight 15 years later. Factor in tracks like “Come On Let’s Go” and ‘Papercuts’ and your left with one of the finest debuts in Warp’s illustrious catalogue.
Regis’ deadly slab of gothic hard-body machine funk returns, the blueprint for those shockout British Murder Boys excursions and generally one of the most influential Techno records of all time, here on a newly mastered 20th anniversary edition, once again ready to wallop.
‘Penetration’ practically defined this type of loopy, gnashing techno before a gradated phase shift into sleeker forms of minimalism came to pass during the following decade. It would be nearly 20 years before Regis issued his solo follow-up, ‘Hidden In This Is The Light That You Miss’, with time well spent on developing his roles in British Murder Boys and Sandwell District, among many other things, but ‘Penetration’ stands as a paradigm of Techno’s gothic-toned, gnashing wing in its purest, deadliest form.
Bolstered by Simon Shreeve’s airy remaster, ‘Penetration’ kicks like a thoroughbred. From the stentorian, Latinate drum friction of ‘Get On Your Knees’ to the monotone drone tension of ‘Aftertaste of Guilt’ and ‘It’s A Man’s World’, or the stealth ratchet of ‘Thirst’, it’s not hard to hear hallmarks of Regis’ sound that would inform his run of seminal British Murder Boys productions with Surgeon a couple of years later. Yet cuts such as the shark-eyed drive ‘White Stains’ and the sleazy dark room afterthoughts of ‘Slave to the Inevitable’ distinguish the album as sole property of Regis in his prime, before taking on the mantle of UK industrial music’s renaissance man over the past decade. With 20 years hindsight, it remains a tough, adrenalised energy-rush for the ages - here sounding heavier than ever.
Newly remastered by Rashad Becker for this vinyl edition, ‘Echo’ finds Félicia Atkinson synching her feelings into a watercolour suite of solo keys, voice and field recordings, unfurling 40 minutes of new music that we wager will take your breath away.
Félicia was undertaking an artistic residency in La Becque when the plague took hold in Europe at the start of 2020. Stationed with her husband and young child in the small artistic community near Geneva, she wrote this “imaginary garden” of music dedicated to anyone in pain or isolation. The result is a ponderous mix of slow but searching keys, windswept sax, room recordings and sensitively detached but intimate electronic touches that she intended to mirror the solace she came to find and provide a place for reflection for anyone in need.
Working from a wooden chalet surrounded by gardens, and particularly one inspired by Derek Jarman’s in Dungeness (created in the years after he learned he had AIDS), Félicia acts as a transducer for quiet energies and the worries of a world where, as she puts it; “basic things… suddenly seemed so crucial and vast; health, disease, plants, nature, solitude, family, people, fear, calm….”.
Across six pieces spanning almost 40 minutes, Félicia describes a slow but fleeting passage of time between pruned pieces of sound poetry, uncanny concrete abstractions and broader parts of ambient jazz that recall the vulnerability and fragility of Terre Thaemlitz’s solo piano expressions with her own sort of tactility and blurry ambiguity, especially the 13 minute ‘Lillies’. Around and behind each note you can hear the creak of Félicia’s chair, her breath on the microphone, birds outside - radiating warmth and a wondrous intangibility that’s impossible to express in words, imbuing the listener with a sense of liminality - of existing between worlds.
A proper salve for the soul, we tell you.
Could this be the world's first experimental MOR album? Nah, but time has decided it is perhaps the most supreme. Wackos of the world, take over...
Named after the Nicolas Roeg film of the same name (in fact several of Jim’s albums are named after Roeg films, R.I.P), Eureka features a huge cast of ensemble players - many of them core members of the same Chicago underground scene that O’Rourke was part of until the turn of the century which this album predated by a few months - including Edith Frost, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Rob Mazurek, Bob Weston, Ken Vandermark, Darin Gray and others.
O’Rourke's obsessive mastery of any genre he turned his attention to is by now almost taken for granted, but when Eureka came out in 1999 people were shook by its mainstream appeal and beautifully produced, almost overly sweet arrangements. In hindsight, it’s easy to peg Eureka as O’Rourke’s pop masterpiece; a beautifully crafted collection of accessible but highly intricate songs that lodge themselves deep in your mind almost instantly, with nods to everyone from Bacharach to Fahey with several unpredictable trajectories in between.
An absolute avant-pop masterpiece.
Originally released on tape in 2019, 'Big Room' helped establish Philly's Ulla Straus as one of the key figures in the post-"bblisss" wave of nu-ambient practitioners. Interchangeably glacial, gaseous and liquid, it's a rare downtempo tome that never shies away from sensuality and raw, messy emotionality. Gorgeous material: essential listening for anyone into Jake Muir, Perila, Shuttle358, Oval, Pendant or Space Afrika.
'Big Room' is a technically advanced record that never dangles its prowess in your face. Ulla's sound sculpting is remarkable, but the key to 'Big Room' is not her processing skill, it's her open-hearted emotional honesty. And if contemporary ambient and experimental music has been pocked by the Instagrammable nostalgia drip and hacky tacked-on PR narratives, 'Big Room' succeeds because it offers us a clear, demarcated alternative. Ulla doesn't need to shoehorn in a grandstanding press release or video footage of an elaborate modular setup to get our attention, the music does all the heavy lifting, drawing us in with clouded bathhouse textures and soft-focus dub rhythms, chiseled digital hiccups and levitational synthesizer loops.
From the opening tones of 'Nana', with its sloshing pads and subtle glitches, to the dislocated wind chimes and blurry electronics of 'House', there's a resounding faded texture to Ulla's music that helps set a picture perfect mood. 'Big Room' is an album to lose yerself in - Ulla's able to dial in an aesthetic that goes beyond the surface level, piercing not just the production elements but the writing itself. Using relatively few elements, she's able to bridge the gaps between dub techno ('Net'), Mille Plateaux-esque processed glitch ('Past'), glowing Eno-influenced ambient ('Billow') and breathtaking arpeggio-led kosmische sounds ('Sister'), linking each track with her diaristic subtlety and careful choice of processes.
In a forest of withered ambient mediocrity, 'Big Room' is a lonely, pristine evergreen - we just can't recommend it enough.
25 years since ‘Gore Motel’, Bohren & Der Club of Gore hold their smoky line of doom-jazz in a sublime, haunting 10th album that once again taps into that interzone between classic Lynchian motifs and fizzing gothic undercurrents.
The sylvan intimacy of ‘Patchouli Blue’ is a Bohren's ineffable skill at lulling listeners into richly hypnagogic states. As ever they prize a deep sense of cool yearning that hearkens back to the slow burn atmospheres of classic film noir as much as David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtracks, dark ambient and the bluest jazz, plus the doom metal of Black Sabbath, Gore, and their dusty echoes in Earth. It’s surely a velvet cloak for the senses; essentially a heavily tranquilising sound, but one fraught with an existential angst that’s won them a captive audience over the years, and is fully in effect here.
As ever, ‘Patchouli Blue’ is a strictly all instrumental affair and was recorded in Cologne and Mülheim An Der Ruhr - site of all their recordings (bar ‘Mitleid Lady’) since the seminal ‘Sunset Mission’ (2000). It was composed by core members Christoph Clöser (Tenor Saxophone) and Morten Gass (Piano, Engineer, Producer) and is performed by them along with longtime member Robin Rodenburg’s plucked, stalking bass lines in a classically sulky, gratifying way bound to make your glass of single malt taste smokier, sweeter. As such, the album is really meant to be taken in one sitting, but if we’re to point out highlights, the slow rise of slinking drum machine and creeping arps of ‘Vergessen & Vorbei’ is just masterful, as is the distant, burnished, Vangelis-like synth glow and elegiac brass of their last call, ‘Meine Welt ist schön’. Basically it’s dead good for what ail’s ya.
Incredible album of ruffneck outernational soundsystem abstractions brought together by Uganda’s by-now infamously fecund Nyege Nyege crew; an impressionistic industrial/ambient soundtrack where chopped & screwed gristle meets ballistic singeli and mutant electro-acholi. If you’re into anything from King Midas Sound to classic Talking Heads, Nearly God and The WIld Bunch - this one’s a stone cold killer.
London’s Jesse Hackett and Chicago-based Mariano Chavez distill a wickedly sozzled, bleary impression of their time spent with Lord Tusk and a crack squad of Ugandan musicians in Kampala, 2019. Documenting the result of six weeks of making music, art and videos, and Waragi Gin-fuelled rides into the Kampala nightlife, their debut album features a full battery of traditional percussion and strings, plus the canny use of whistling and Lord Tusk’s rude sound system sensibilities, serving a triple AAA-rated trip that lures listeners into their intoxicated/intoxicating state of mind and effectively conveys the experience of a jag deep into the belly of Uganda’s thrilling, sprawling capital city at a major crossroads of East and Central Africa.
It’s not the first time Jesse Hackett has worked with Ugandan musicians - his 2017 album ‘Ennanga Vision’ saw him teamed with electro-acholi stars Otim Alpha, Geoffrey Opiyo Twongweno, and Albert Bisaso Ssempeke - however the vibe this time is more psychedelic in a road-level, grimy and noisy style thanks to the expanded platte of inputs, including an all-star Ugandan roll call of Otim Alpha, multi-instrumentalist Lawrence Okello, percussionist Omutaba, and Rian Treanor-collaborator Ocen, all girded by the vital ruggedness of London underground don, Lord Tusk.
In their pair of ‘Dream Sequence’ suites the album freewheels with delirious style, from mechanically musical drones in the title track to a quietly febrile conclusion recalling Craig Leon’s ‘Nommos’. Bouts of melodically stressed noise give way to Gin-steeped sing-song, chunks of chopped & screwed gristle, and dizzy clusters of Singeli-esque rhythm in a stop/start, unpredictable manner that sounds like nobody else right now. DJs will find ways of working this material into sets, although the album is really best downed in one for a vividly soundtrack-like experience that recalls the thrills and spills of a Safdie Bros flick, but set in Uganda, effectively throwing listeners head first into the thick of Kampala’s nightlife.