Artist and occasional cellist for FKA Twigs, Stars of the Lid, Helm and Sega Bodega; Lucinda Chua chases her breakthru solo EPs with a masterful debut LP of solo piano torch songs gilded with chamber string arrangements and Susanna-like vox.
“Lucinda Chua is a singer, songwriter, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist based in South London. Primarily using her voice, a cello, and an array of effects units, Chua writes ambient pop songs that are intimate, atmospheric, and totally enchanting.
Born in London and raised in Milton Keynes, Chua has English, Malaysian and ancestral Chinese roots. Having learned music by ear from the age of three using the Suzuki method (whereby young children are taught music in the same way they would a native language), Chua regards music as a natural form of non-verbal self-expression.
YIAN (燕), means swallow in Chinese, and is part of “Siew Yian,” the name given to Chua by her parents to preserve her connection with her Chinese heritage. Just as the migratory songbird lives between places, so did Chua, the artist living in the in-between of the English, Malaysian and Chinese cultures that make up her heritage. In the absence of Mandarin as a mother tongue, music became a way to express the parts of herself that couldn’t be described in words; YIAN emerged as a way to heal.
A deeply introspective and fully realized vessel of creative expression (Chua self-produced and engineered eight of the ten tracks), YIAN emerges as less an album than a worldview, a commitment to learning and uncovering one’s own selfhood honed over Chua’s lifelong reconciliation with her own personal history and identity.
Through this process she found new language through which to express her experiences, language which lay in the practices she developed and the creative community with whom she built solidarity along the process: co-authoring visual identities with main collaborators Tash Tung, Jade Ang Jackman and Nhu Xuan Hua and set designers Lydia Chan, Jonquil Lawrence and Erin Tse. Chua also constructed the album’s physical language through dance with movement directors Chantel Foo and Duane Nasis, this expression shown most vividly through the short film made for 'Echo’.”
Rabih Beaini’s Morphine supply wholly absorbing explorations in automation and alternate tunings by Maciej Sledziecki & Marion Wörle’s Gamut Inc, recalling the Carnatic works of Will Guthrie x Mark Fell, Xenakis’ audio architecture, Christos Chondropoulos’ Athenian Primitive inventions, or Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient works.
“The sum to infinity of a sequence is the sum of an infinite number of terms in the sequence. It is only possible to compute this sum if the terms of a sequence converge to zero. "sum to infinity" is also the second release from gamut inc, the retro-futuristic ensemble around composers and curators Marion Wörle and Maciej Sledziecki.
This second album by gamut inc combines custom-build autonomous music-machines with haunting classical synthesizer sounds to a dense musical kaleidoscope. The core of the album is formed by Risset rhythms - cyclic accelerations and decelerations, in which rhythmic layers are repeatedly faded in and out, setting in motion a seemingly endless process of rhythmic movement. The motifs are taken from geometric and arithmetic series that create an urgency and restlessness. The rigor of the construction is obscured by an orchestrion whose timbres are reminiscent of a retro-futuristic indigenous ensemble. gamut inc translate strategies of electronic music like pulse-width modulation to music machines such as automated accordion, automated percussion or glockenspiels and create an intense atmosphere that is idiosyncratic, original and modern at the same time.
Gamut inc. build their own music machines, play electronic music festivals internationally, curate the AGGREGATE festival for automated pipe organs, and compose for film, radio drama, and theater. Their first opera, ROSSUMS UNIVERSAL ROBOTS, premiered in 2022. Since 2011, at the intersection of electronic club culture and experimental music, they have been producing live music, music theater, film and theater scores (including for the Junge Staatstheater Berlin) with their specially developed musical robots. They composed for ensembles like the RIAS chamber choir or the robot orchestra Logos Foundation and received invitations and commissions from international festivals and venues such as Sónar, CTM, Berghain, Sonic Acts, Technosphärenklänge or Numusic (NO).
Their first release EX MACHINA was produced exclusively with music robots, and released in 2014 in cooperation with Bôłt Records. "Percussion tracks bring to mind the music of Einstürzende Neubauten in their industrial mechanics, until finally the music warms to an expression reminiscent of Johnny Cash's late work."
Detroit deity Terrence Dixon lends a hand on a highlight of Karpenov’s effervescent debut album, which uses the abstract language of electronic music to evoke his native Black Sea landscape.
The Dixon link-up ‘Background Data’ is a massive standout deploying fine-tuned synth dissonance shorn of beats, while the rest of the album also impresses with its incredibly sharp sound design on the fluttering hyaline melodies of the title tune and sloshing pulse to ‘1.1’, what sounds like an alien orchestra tuning up in ‘Telpher’, and the stark contrast with its groggiest work, ‘Jet Ski Max’ in collaboration with Kuzma Palkin.
“After three years of deep work, Stas Karpenkov's debut album is released on Gost Zvuk in the form of an abstract, free-form study. The album is saturated with the Black Sea breeze and the natural beauty of the peninsula, a land associated with the life of the author. It’s a musical representation of its surrounding reliefs, an ode to the cyclicity of the waves, and a journey through soundscapes. These manifestations of maritime romance also include the experience of co-producing with Terrence Dixon and Kuzma Palkin on a couple of tracks that play an important role in the idea of the record.”
Pill-belly techno flights by Berlin’s JakoJako on her debut mission with Mute after initial outings with Leisure System, on Tresor 30, and a collaborative LP with Rødhåd
The ‘Verve EP’ gives a strong flavour of JakoJako’s taste for modular and analog synthesis across four club tools that oscillate straight-laced and offbeat arrangements. ‘Impetus’ is built to hold a sublime tension at peak times with its galloping kicks and ascendent choral pads precipitating a soaring trance arp around the half way mark, and ‘Auris’ yokes back to a fine line of deep, stepping techno.
It gets more interesting for us with the crafty subaquatic slosh and radiant highs of ‘Opak’ recalling Barker’s Leisure Systems work or a slower Vel, and ‘Nexus’ also gets it right with a Mike Parker-esque pneumatic pump cycling into trance zones.
Valerio Tricoli teams up with his old friend and 3/4HadBeenEliminated bandmate Stefano Pilia on this slow-burning back-and-forth inspired by German mathematician Georg Cantor.
Pilia and Tricoli have been playing together for long enough to instinctively know how to react to each other's improvisation. "Cantor Park" was recorded during lockdown at Bologna's Xing, with Pilia playing live on guitar and modular synth, reacting to Tricoli's expected freeform tape manipulations. Then Tricoli grabbed the material and took it home to his studio in Munich, where he formed it into a balanced album. The duo were initially informed by Cantor's theories of the infinite, and display this by forming modern concréte soundscapes that bristle with kosmische energy. Tricoli's ASMR tape flexes set an initial pace, infusing the piece with magic, and Pilia joins with warbling drones, eventually adding crashing waves of electric guitar.
The key here is the duo's control of each other's intentions. Pilia's love of harmonic romanticism is shown off at times, but is always tempered by Tricoli's keen processes and disruptive tape techniques. Similarly, Tricoli's relatively austere psychedelic sounds - reflected on the mindboggling "Say Goodbye To The Wind" - are lightened somewhat by Pilia's post-rock sensibilities. It's billed as their most spontaneous piece of work, and the lightness and live sensation certainly lends it a quality that sounds as if it's pushing both artists out of their comfort zone. It's refreshing to hear two veterans so comfortable with each other that they're unafraid to keep asking for more.
Chicago footwork/juke hitman DJ.MC turns up on Hyperdub with a wickedly weird, six-toed session that hails the Windy City’s irrepressibly odd feel for the funk.
Already flagged up for his powerful 2017 album ‘Lowend Jungle’, especially the gnawing acid minimalism of its ‘Mindflow’ zinger, DJ.MC lowkey demands attention to his soulful, spaced-out club style on this one. It starts up all G-funk greazy and rave-eyed on ‘Who Wants Smoke?’ and keeps toes barely touching the ground in levitation system of ‘5,4,3,2,1’, before feeling his deepest Chi roots in ‘House Goin Viral’. It only gets freakier, better in the 2nd half, whirling hi-register alien tones and pneumatic subs on ‘Space Godz’ and pinging bleep ballistics that resolve with spyfunk strings in ‘Chicago Flow’, then shutting it down with a deadly cut of jazz-fusion footwork ‘Go Down’.
Be daft not to!
Staggering new 12-part opus by Chicago’s jazz standard-bearer Angel Bat Dawid, advancing the vision of 2019’s ‘The Oracle’ with a compelling critique of racial politics in contemporary USA
‘Requiem for Jazz’ is a sprawling treatise on the African American story by one of jazz music’s leading protagonists and significant creative voices. Inspired in part by the dialogue of Edward O. Bland’s 1959 film ‘The Cry of Jazz’, Angel’s 2nd solo album delineates the documentary’s themes in a world, some 60 years later, where jazz music still serves a potent purpose as an expression of Afro-American identity, and specifically “draws formal comparisons between the structure of jazz music and the African American experience - as one of freedom and restraint, of joy and suffering - that manifests in the triumph of spirit over the crushing prejudice of daily life.” In the process, ‘Requiem For Jazz’ bridges the sprawling space-operatic nature of Sun Ra albums, and the cosmic ambition of Alice Coltrane, and the epic theatric staging of contemporary R&B and rap albums by likes of Beyonce or Kendrick lamar, to realise a peerless hour of music that ties together and transcends the past generations of Black music made post-the Civil Rights movement.
Side-eying a multibillion £$£$ industry built on repackaging the sounds of Black people’s sufferation into manageable commerce, Angel takes 1959 film ‘The Cry of Jazz’, and its images of Sun Ra in the ‘hood, as a diving point for her huge ensemble, Tha ArkeStarzz, to explore a wonderfully free mix of acoustic and electronic jazz licked with contemporary inflections of the drill sound that originated in her native Chicago, and most impressively, a sense of operatic staging or dramaturgy that strikes heavily on first listen, but will take many repeat listens to fully grasp. As that implies, it’s not an “easy” listen on any level, but it is a richly satisfying and spirit-raised one for anyone willing to step back and try to take it all in; from the alien vocoders of the intro, thru the haunting recital of ‘Kyrie Eleison’, a stately ‘Confutatis-repression’, and the inclusion of Arkestra bandleader Marshall Allen, or the spine-shattering finale of keening choral ‘Long Tone for Rayna Golding (A Binti Zawadi our Future).’
Damn we weren't expecting this - Joachim Nordwall matches Mats Gustafsson's horns with doomsayer synth dirt on 'Their Power Reached', a frighteningly good marriage of free jazz skronk and psychedelic industrial weirdness.
Nordwall's been a reliable source of cross-genre entertainment for decades, both as a producer and unstoppable collaborator (as part of The Skull Defekts, Organ of Corti and more), and as a curator. Gustafsson is equally important in Swedish musical lore, having been involved in literally hundreds of projects and having worked with artists as diverse as Sonic Youth, Merzbow and Neneh Cherry.
'Their Power Reached' is a relatively restrained back-and-forth that doesn't need to show off either of its collaborators' estimable skillsets. Nordwall's gloomy synths are stripped back to a grim wheeze on opener, while Gustafsson joins with sustained breaths that grow into harmonic tones.The emotions shift as distortion encases Nordwall's dying toy bleats and Gustafsson flips from phlegmatic hums into manic squealing without so much as a warning.
The duo navigate dangerous waters with a middle finger to expectation. Industrial electronic music and free jazz might seem like fine bedfellows but the amalgamation is often too fussy and heavy handed. It works here because both Nordwall and Gustafsson appear to be completely at ease with not just each other but themselves; Nordwall's brooding electronics are minimal but never lifeless, and Gustafsson doesn't need to show us how quickly or fluidly he can play, he's able to instead concentrate his efforts on finding the best possible tone to slip into a groove that's got us dizzy with excitement. Really good this.
Boredoms icon YoshimiO and one-time Rephlexian IzumiKiyoshi give wings to lush and wildly inventive fusions of psychedelic electronics and classical keys derived from improvisation - RIYL Jim O’Rourke, Otherworld, Keith Fullerton Whitman
The second fruits of their labour after a very scarce CD in 2002 is ‘To The Forest To Live A Truer Life’, whose title implies one leave their sensible head at the door and ready themselves for a brilliant sensory-bathing experience. In a back and forth process or recording in a cafe nestled near a forest in Japan, YoshimiO’s piano and vocal improvs are fed into IzumiKiyoshi’s modular synthesiser, and spectralised and modulated in imaginary air, and recombined with YoshimiO’s riffs on those parts to create their fantastic, unpredictably erupting arrangements.
It’s a real pleasure to follow the shape of the duo’s hyaline harmonics, threaded by tattered ribbons of semi-synthetic melody and clambering free-jazz piano where they want to take us. Honestly we could be here all day describing the abundance of energy tempered into fantastic whorls, plies and psychoacoustic headiness, but best to trust your ears and prepare oneself to be wowed by this one - there’s some seriously rare, poetic and visionary genius at work here.
Caterina Barbieri somehow recalls both Laurie Spiegel and Lorenzo Senni on her staggering debut album, with ‘Ecstatic Computation’ yielding her most striking and accessible experiments in pointedly explorative synthesis
Working at the point where deep, learned R&D meets sophisticated expression of soul, ‘Ecstatic Computation’ is one of those rare LP's that comes close to divining the ghost in the machine. In further pursuit of the themes underlining Caterina’s ‘Patterns of Consciousness’  and ‘Born Again In The Voltage’  records, here she uses more complex sequencing techniques and pattern-based operations to generate the kind of vivid, hallucinatory trance states that many electronic music followers arguably spend their lives seeking.
With ‘Ecstatic Computation’ Caterina’s basically mastered the art of extracting a contemplative wonder from her machines, creatively using formal process to manipulate the listener’s temporal and proprioceptive senses, subtly distorting our perception of time and space with spellbinding and psychedelic effect. Most crucially, just like her fellow Italian composer, Lorenzo Senni, Barbieri achieves this effect through minimalist means, with a certain magick lying in the way she allows her machines’ full voice to speak as fluidly as the languages of classical music, but with the immediacy of Trance.
From the vertiginous scale and epic breadth of ‘Fantas’, thru the intensely expressive miniature ‘Spine of Desire’, to the balletic agility of ‘Closest Approach to Your Orbit’, Barbieri veritably dances on our nerve endings, before swiftly inverting that headlong futurism with the chamber-like design of ‘Arrows of Time’, featuring vocals by Annie Gårlid (UCC Harlo) and Evelyn Sailor, and wrapping up with the visceral ecstasy of ‘Pinnacles of You’ and a spine-freezing finale ‘Bow of Perception’.
It’s glorious, life-affirming stuff, sure to send her audience stratospheric.
Overproof levels of ’80s keyboard funk for your dancing feet from the Cameroonian producer to Sunny Adé, Guy Lobe, and Steve Monite - one of the most notable Nigerians of the era working with electronics, comparable to William Onyeabor or Jake Sollo.
“Teles' first break came as a keyboard player in Tony Allen's new solo band, right after he had split with Fela Kuti the Africa 70 at the start of the 1980s. He travelled up to Kaduna in the north of Nigeria only to find that the sponsor had pulled out of funding Allen's band and was stranded in the city. Whilst in Kaduna he met Nigerian artist Steve Black who invited him to join his band. Steve remembers his first encounters with Nkono: "Someone told me there was a Cameroonian boy here that plays keyboards. He came to the studio and he was good, but he only played Cameroon music, mostly Makossa, but I knew he had potential. I said to him - "We have to change our musical style, let's play some funk". We listened to Cameo, The Crusaders, that kind of stuff. He spent hours on end listening to Cameo!"
"After that, Nkono came back to Lagos and every musician wanted to record and was looking for session musicians. When Nkono was in the studio with you he would contribute to the recording. He would arrange, he did a lot of the studio, so everybody liked Nkono. Most other musicians would come to the studio, just do what you ask and that's all, but Nkono wasn’t like that. He would take over, produce and arrange. Once Nkono discovered he could produce, he set up his own production company; everyone began taking their demos to Nkono and he would produce them."
Once you recognize the Nkono Teles Sound you start to hear it everywhere in Nigerian pop music from around 1982 onwards. Steve continues: "Nkono was a very cool guy, very humble, shy, not into drinking or drugs, never smoked. He was a perfect gentleman. He loved his music and loved good musicians. You couldn’t be Nkono’s friend as a musician if you weren't a good musician."
With only three solo albums to his name in this period (Fiesta Dancin, Party Beats & Afro Music Party) Soundway have curated the best tracks into one retrospective mini-compilation alongside an instrumental cut that he wrote, recorded and produced for the singer Jane Coleman on her only album from 1987. Sadly, Nkono Teles died in 2011 after having left Nigeria in the '90s and this material has been licensed from his family in Cameroon. The Nigerian recording industry started to change around this time and piracy made huge inroads into record sales. Nkono moved westwards back home again as Lagos became a harder place to exist and work as a foreigner. With a few productions made in Cameroon, France and the UK during the '90s and early '00s he never quite reached the same level of innovation as he did when he first arrived as a young man in Nigeria in the early '80s.”
Gabber Eleganza’s Never Sleep fire a turbulent 2nd EP of mutant hardcore latin dance by Lizzitsky for followers of Shapednoise, Cardopusher’s Safety Trance and Arca bits, or Tomas Urquieta.
Lizzitsky was responsible for the first original release on Never Sleep, but unfortunately in the first weeks of the 2020 pandemic lockdown, meaning it didn’t quite hit the ‘floor as intended. ‘Miasma Jester’ is a superb development of ideas outlined on his debut, factored by a more elusive cyber-dubwise quality and shearing dynamics, plus collaborations with Sarah Khan, MC Pusher & Sgabe that really light it off for clubs in 2023.
His titular owner is one of the maddest hardcore dembow mutations we’ve heard since Safety Trance’s EP on Club Romantico, and the pensively sculpted noise and slow/fast 160bpm flow of ‘Black Phlegm’ brilliantly benefits from Sarah Khan’s vox filtered thru the matrix, while Denmark’s MC Pusher and Sgabe lend a more feral holler to his buckled rhythmic noise blast ‘Usenet suic pac’. The other two offer a stark contrast, where ‘You Can’t say Hello Without Saying Hell’ recalls The Sprawl, and ‘Carbroke ouse’ leans into an impressive sort of slow burning avant electro-jazz delirium.
FFT’s label ventures Christoph De Babalon at his stripped-back best, toggling bony warehouse breaks and growling bass under patented, perpetual crepscular atmospheres
‘Leaving Time’ feels to enact a lycanthropic metamorphosis of figures in four parts that follow down the path from his definitive early works on CFET & DHR, and recent second wind of aces for likes of V I S or AD 93. The gulf between CdB’s eras is broadly defined by an increased emphasis on ominous space and brittle-boned slinkiness that’s most potently apparent on this new batch from the dark alchemist’s Berlin dungeon.
Creeping into view with a scoured late ‘90s guitar tone and chain-whipped toms of ‘The Upper Hand’ like some undead fusion of The Mover meets NIN, he follows that line of inspiration into spring-heeled breaks and a pall of gothic romantic pads in ‘I Trusted You’. The Frankenstein’s monster-like de/reconstruction of detuned Reese bass and articulated limb swivel on ‘Steps Into Solitude’ enhances the feel with something like an echo of peak Skull Disco and Raime ricocheting via Croww, and ‘Got to Let Go’ taps into the eternal vein of inspiration from darkside late ‘90s jungle with masterly poise that shows CDB is still the boss of the dancefloor netherworld.
FRKWYS Vol. 13: Sunergy is a cross-generational modular synth navigation of oceanic scope anddeepkly personal proportions, orchestrated by Buchla pioneer Suzanne Ciani and her modern counterpart and Californian neighbour, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.
Californian neighbours and doyens of the modular synthesiser, the pioneering Suzanne Ciani and her modern antecedent, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, orchestrate a vivid synthetic panorama on Buchla, Moog, and other gadgets for FRKWYS Vol.13: Sunergy.
After only relatively recently realising that they lived in the same town, Bolinas, just north-west of San Francisco, the pair made the logical next step to collaborate on a record of improvisations inspired by their shared environment and mutual modular visions.
Over the course of a week in midsummer, 2015, against a backdrop of the Pacific ocean and the Californian coast (that’s Suzanne’s window you’re looking thru on the LP sleeve), they patched together two sublime streaks of searching and highly colourful synthetic expression, freely improvised on a Buchla Music Easel and 18-panel unit Buchla 200e with a multi-dimensional kinaesthetic input port (a set of tactile touch pads), with some processing help from Ableton and Eventide
The results are as majestic, gripping and windswept as the coast they’re perched above; spilling 23 minutes of mineralised melodies and billowing, lush harmonic complexity with a headlong momentum in A New Day, before dissolving themselves into the quieter contrast of Closed Circuit on the flipside, where they conserve the breathless energy of the A-side in a more delicate, deft manner before removing the walls and blooming out into sidereal lushness and calving off into a chaotic finale.
Haela Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix continues to disassemble black metal's rigid structures on her confounding new long-form incantation.
If you've come across Liturgy before you'll probably know that since the late 2000s the project - that's flitted between being a solo endeavor and a full band - has sought to recontextualize black metal, using the frenetic Northern European template to examine ideas about history, identity and transcendence. "93696" is a lengthy two-disc sprawl of ethereal choral vignettes and fuzzed minimal-maximal expressions that pierce the genre's impenetrable veil, spiking oppressive atmospheres with hope and wyrd magick.
Hunt-Hendrix's skill is in orchestrating music that's as ambitious and high-minded as early Genesis but as visceral as Darkthrone. And if black metal has been an easy petri dish for growing fascist ideology, her usage of it to provoke alternative concepts is vital and life-giving.
Fascinating early/sacred music experiments from Belgian ensemble Razen, who use meantone tuning, pipe organ and vintage instrumentation to explore "pre-industrial, spectral and ethnic dreamtones ... trance and medieval mysticism".
There's no shortage of artists looking to Europe's Medieval musical traditions for inspiration right now. Razen uses a dizzying array of era-specific instrumentation: a 17th century organ, a hurdy gurdy, various recorders, the chalumeau, ondes-Marthenot, sarangi, violone and nyckelharpa. As you might be able to imagine the music is particularly en vogue, using the organ's tuning (398 Hz, natch) to inform and limit the arrangements that emerged around its sacred drones. Thankfully, this isn't merely an exercise - while the organ is a surprisingly subtle character here, the ensemble's additional instrumentation is arranged and performed beautifully.
Razen talk about accenting the drone potential of their chosen sounds, but the stand-out moments are when the music does far more than this, crossing early music with more modern, experimental ideas. The humble recorder stands out furthest, particularly on tracks like 'A Postcard from Oliver' and 'A Postcard From Carl', where its sublime softness contrasts perfectly with the organ's shrill wails. One for fans of Kali Malone, Ellen Arkbro and Laila Sakini.
Dutch D&B DJ/producer Yorobi runs a fractious solo debut fusing jungle and footwork for Bristol’s keepers of the flame, Sneaker Social Club, after her 2020 collaboration with Tim Reaper
Also regarded for her design work on the Intense reissue volumes, Josje Bijl aka Yorobi is a mainstay of Amsterdam’s D&B scene for the past 20 years. The ‘Eden EP’ locates her dancing on the knife edge between ‘90s jungle and ‘00s footwork templates with strong dub-wise influences as finessed sound design. ‘Motherless Child’ is a breathless stepper cadging samples of Dred Bass pads, and ’Stabs’ rinses it ruffer with SD-style tail-chasing breaks swept up in intricate arrangement. ‘Rhode to Nowhere’ leans back on a breaker tip, and ‘Eden’ shows off sharp sound design tekekrz.
10-tons of acid-dub pressure by Om Unit, channelling Iration Steppers via early Leftfield to sustain the momentum of his prized ‘Acid Dub Studies’ self releases of recent years
Flexing for Megadog dub disciples and early Smith & Mighty heads, Jim Coles aka Philip D Kick and Om Unit gives flashbacks to skanking with a Red Stripe in mitt on four heavy duty but atmospheric tramplers that pattern up classic ‘90s UK club and free party styles. ‘Prophecy’ picks up a right head of steam with slathering 303, melodica synth and gnashing breaks streamlined to a roiling steppers groove; ‘Forward’ dips darker, deeper on a sort of early ‘00s breakstep flex; ‘Deadnettle’ gets well gummy with the acid on a snap jawed 808 + apache break formula; ‘Amber’ gives it some big room/big field rave momentum.
Material Object investigates uncanny valley space serrated between violin improvisation and electronics on their first album in 6 years, for Editions Mego.
“Dismantling the acoustic to feed the electronic, Editions Mego presents Telepath, the new album by Material Object. Born out of a single improvised recording session with a lone Violinist, Telepath is a startling album of future electronic music, resulting in an LP of unique and timeless tracks that reimagine a classic sound for an endless future.
Boldly departing from his previous canon of largely 'Ambient' work, Material Object's Telepath renders itself out as something much stranger, something more spacious, more subtle and gradual. Moments of bouncing minimalism meet moirés of delayed pure tones phasing in and out of resolution, giving way to a series of strobing foreground gestures arranged and offset in disorienting landscapes which scatter themselves asymmetrically amongst crystal pools of reverb.
Revelling in the creative dismemberment of the original source material, Material Object slowly and patiently induces the violin to undergo every category of torsion, pressure and rupture. Its vivid acoustic qualities pass over and across the event horizon of the digital domain. Shattering then crystallising into points and coordinates, intersections, disjunctions, planes and reverberant figures. An uncanny geometry perceived only between the ears, at once dissolving and reconstructing itself.
Equally abstract, haunting and daring, Material Object’s Telepath is a singular work that abandons all notions of genre. Erupting with a tension of opposites that unfolds as a truly unique story, told in four dimensions and draped in deafening colour.”
The bearded one tonks out a rave techno missile teamed with freakier remixes by Kai Campos (Mount Kimbie) and ATL’s Nikki Nair.
The OG ‘Town Crier’ is a high velocity club tool hustling a rolling bass drum, garbled vox and a skewed hoover at a brisk 136BPM. Kai Campos shears off the kick to leave a writhing wiry exoskeleton, and Nikki Nair swings a sort of jumpy, squeaky killer locked somewhere between Miami bass and Jersey house. PM, always a g.
Tied Down by Joyce Street via Numero Group.
"A ’70s homemaker stuck between the studio and a getting dinner on the table, Joyce Street eked out an arresting countrypolitan discography in the margins of an otherwise traditional American life. With lyrics drawn from the pages of her diary, Street’s stirring Mississippi warble led her into the fly-by-night world of custom studios, cutting tracks for upstart country concerns like Reena, Sonobeat, Revelation, and Arc.
Channeling the honky tonk angel energy of Bobbie Gentry, Lorretta Lynn, and Jeannie C.Riley, Tied Down compiles a decade’s worth of melodies disguised as lottery tickets."
Ruthless, hi-NRG Dominican Mambo badness from scene legend Munchi, made circa 2008-2010 and absorbing sounds with a journalistic hunger for storytelling and contextual deconstruction that takes in elements from reggaeton and baile funk to Dutch bubbling and Chicago juke - bending moombahton into breakcore and curving bachata and merengue into something altogether new. Blogger and musicologist Wayne Marshall even coined a separate genre for Munchi's diverse spread of genre-agnostic productions back in 2010: Munchiton. Since then, Munchi has worked with M.I.A. and Pharell Williams among others, and remixed everyone from Skrillex to Nguzunguzu, Noisia to Buraka.
‘I Love Mambo’ was put together in 2010 for Dave Quam's notorious It's After The End Of The World blog and was Munchi's first proper mixtape, matching a handful of his own productions with tracks from the Dominican Mambo canon that had evolved throughout the 2000s. It showcases the febrile sound of Dominican Mambo at a crest of its rudely incendiary powers, emerging from merengue styles via stripped down productions made on FruityLoops, running at a 180bpm gallop akin to Caribbean soca, Portuguese batida, Tanzanian singeli or DJ Chengz’ St. Lucian Kuduro, for example, with an unbridled NRG that’s deadly in the club.
Munchi seems constantly aware of things existing in the same continuum, pulling connecting threads between Dutch bubbling and bassline womps on 'Luis Esta Seguroski VIP', and mind-altering 'Percolator' trills on the hypnotic 'Ayoba Mambo’, summing up the sound with a restive hour of pure velocity and attack tempered by the cross-rhythms of the MCs, holding his line with breathless parade of plaggy pianos, rattling snares, blazing horns and tonking kicks that know no chill.
For the DJs, it gets even better with his OG productions included on the tape, queezing off a full clip of madness between ‘Damu Mambo’ with its orchestral stabs and incessant one note piano jab, the detuned toy piano plonk of ‘Que Maldito Disco’, and wild donk mutation ‘Luis Esta Seguroski VIP’, or the footwork-adjacent trills and flickers of ‘Klk Frutilu’ with its surprise tempo drop primed for the canny DJs. Fire.
NYC’s J/ Albert lathers his broken techno and beat-less ambient works with a potent psychedelic intent on their strong first move of 2023
A perennial, shapeshifting outlier of US dance music, J. Albert’s style feels to exist in space between likes of Max D or Person of Interest on his side of the Atlantic, and Actress or Rat Heart on this side. The ‘config’ EP exemplifies this between worlds feel with Albert’s adroit tekkerz spinning bodies between the restless deep techno stepper ‘Armor’, and the itchy electro of ‘Court’, via introspective bouts of electronica on ‘config4’ and chromatically warped 2-step electro in ‘config5’, beside the smudged slow dance ‘config2’.
The first ESP Summer album, Mars Is A Ten, originally released in 1995.
"Recorded in 1994 in Livonia, Michigan by 4AD labelmates Ian Masters (Pale Saints) and Warren Defever (His Name Is Alive). The album combines Masters' sweet, choirboy vocals with his and Defever's way around minimal guitar pop with appropriately spiky, strange touches at points. At its simplest and most unaffected, ESP Summer sounds wonderfully, beautifully fragile"
Ian Masters - guitar vocals piano drums samples
Warren Defever - guitar piano
Erika - violin
Autumn - cello
Matt Smith - string arrangements
Megan Mitchell follows strong electro-acoustic records for Longform Editions and Drawing Room Records with an album focused completely around her voice. Souring, grandiose vocal symphonies for fans of Diamanda Galas, Eartheater, or LINGUA IGNOTA.
If there's one thing that's clear within moments of 'Fractured Whole', it's that Mitchell can sing - she can really sing. Her last album 'A Dormant Vigor' was also focused around her vocals, but this time she's restricted herself to using her voice as the album's only instrument. This choice forces her to think about the compositions more deeply, and the unsettling operatic qualities that were an undercurrent on previous releases are now a riptide. 'Penance' is a bleakly cinematic introduction that sounds like velvet curtains parting to reveal an elaborate stage; Mitchell's mezzo-soprano carries a level of emotion that's impossible to counterfeit, and establishes a mood that she proceeds to expand on methodically.
Throughout, electronic treatments and percussive elements are decoration, not the main event. Each track features subtle supporting elements but it's the voice that rings as clear as a bell. On 'Lament', radio static growls oscillate in the background and offer important texture, but Mitchell's gliding moans position her between Enya and Tatiana Troyanos, absorbing the spotlight completely. On 'Synectics', she dissolves her wails into stuttering, insectoid clusters, harking back to her previous experiments, but once her operatic swoops descend on the track's final third, we're lifted by angels into clouds of euphoria.
Drag On Girard by Purling Hiss, via Drag City.
"The colliding circles of time bring us back to the brink of the Hiss at last.
Classic rock singing/screaming guitars fuse with Mike Polizze’s hope-n-dreamz feels and explode into fresh heartbreak, happening right now today, as sweet tunes and crushed guitar harmonics pour off the turntable and run out in the street, just like in the old days."