Earth-shattering, warm-charming dub pressure from the mighty TNT Roots, dished up as a special debut LP proper following a run of 12”s and dubs you’ll never see but might hear in Aba Shanti or Iration Steppers sets
An original, pivotal member of the Earthquake crew, whose militant digidub steppers have fuelled so many UK dances since 1993, TNT Roots brings a foundational knowledge of that curiously UK-prized and retro-futuristic mutation of Jamaican music to his deadly, driving productions, all sifted by the Bokeh bossman from stacks of TNT CDs self-issued on his Lion Musik label between 2005-2018.
Rightly pointed out as the sound that’s underlined or paralleled everything from bleep techno (Iration Steppers used to be SoYo bleep dons Ital Rockers!), to hardcore, jungle, grime, and even doomcore, ‘Raw Dub Creator’ is basically badass darkside dance music with ounces of bounce and mature levels of darkside/mysticism that never strays into silliness. It’s built in a long and well tested tradition of charged drum machine rhythms and exaggerated, synthetic subs that can’t help but carry the dance with it.
However you might need to take our word for it as the conditions for this sound - big sound systems in big rooms with everyone smoking zoots indoors - have really altered since the 2007 smoking ban at least, often leaving it with fewer and fewer places to exercise the culture properly. Maybe we need to hunt one down, but big dub dances seemed a more regular thing in Manchester and Leeds at start of this century, and we only feel sympathy for anyone who can’t experience a full night of this stuff as it’s meant to be done. It fucking rearranges your atoms and leaves you still waffling about that time decades later (out to SubDub and Leeds West Indian centre!).
Basically those who know will be all over this LP like the last rizla in the dance, but if you’re new to it, or below the age of 25 and like it, do yourself a favour and go check your nearest big dub dance, pronto!!!
Oren Ambarchi introduces a fascinating new electro-acoustic voice to the fray with Manuel Lima’s inception-like debut collage of organ and field recordings made between Germany and his native Brazil.
For his first vinyl release, ‘Realejo’, Lima aptly and deftly distills a personal soundworld across two idiosyncratic works. Adopting its title from the name of a hand-cranked organ traditionally found in Brazil as “the musical accompaniment to the work of a fortune telling parrot”, the album utilises everything from the sound of his friends’ baby crying, to the whistles of the security guard at his parents’ place in São Paulo, and the aforementioned recordings of an organ made in Stuttgart, Germany to shape a subtle yet vividly personalised sound. The soberly paced and spacious results can be said to impart an absorbingly intimate yet widescreen tour of the artist’s sonic purview that resonates with the likes of Jim O’Rourke’s Old News series to Áine O’Dwyer’s ‘Music For Cleaners’ or Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson & BJ Nislen’s ‘Avantgardgasse’ zinger, for example, both in terms of their elusive arrangements and hauntingly poignant appeal.
Whether intended or not, it’s possible to take the album’s title as a smart pun - Realejo; Real Echo - for the way that Lima draws a poetic surreality from his mixture of prosaic and hyperreal source material, and how he abstracts it into these intricately structured wonders. On the titular A-side he wraps us up the sounds of his friends and family with audio lifted from YouTube and a signature, raw grasp of digital synthesis to produce a totally immersive and unique introduction to his soundworld that parses a sense of personality from the ubiquitous. Meanwhile the B-side’s ‘Presenting Yourself’ expands on this idea with samples taken from his previous album ’36 English to Portuguese Lessons’ (Editions Verde, 2017) and fed into a more spacious, abstract side that uses quiet/loud dynamics and jump-cut edits to more dis/orienting effect that simultaneously enlightens and mystifies his curious sensibilities and peculiarities and leaves the road wide open for his future transmissions.
Mean fusions of Tunisian instrumentation with electronic club music from Deena Abdelwahed, following up 2018’s ‘Khonnar’ album.
Working somewhere between the Nervous Horizon label, Muslimgauze, and the street-level Mahraganat styles of North Africa, Deena jumps back on a rudely rhythm-driven sound taking in the the melodramatic opener ‘Lila Fi Tounes’, the slow psychedelic slosh of and crack of ‘Ah’na Hakkeka’ and ‘Insaniyti’, plus the pendulous, grimy syncopation of ‘Zardet Sidi Bagra’.
Immersively sensual, diaristic entries by cult US ambient avatar Ulla (aka Ulla Straus), the first release on Experiences Ltd, a new label run by Special Guest DJ (uon, Caveman Paradise), and a big recommendation if yr feeling Huerco S, Nadia Khan, Dominique Lawalrée, Ryuichi Sakamoto.
'Tumbling Towards a Wall’ is a keening batch of dematerialised atmospheres and lilting rhythms bound to lull listeners into hypnagogic states with its anxiety-sink ambient spongiforms and diary-like and drift-away textures. In eight low-lit and fuzzy parts they feel out smudged textures flecked with iridescent, gauzy melodies and habitual, stream-of-consciousness keys that toe the finest line between enervated and ember-like. It’s a proper, cockle-warming sound that says its piece with measured modesty and a glowing sense of soul that resonates with Dominique Lawalrée and Ryuichi Sakamoto just as much as Ulla’s peers, such as Special Guest DJ and Pendant.
The sort of record that may leave users struggling to even get up and flip the sides, such is its soporific pull, ‘Tumbling Towards a Wall’, enacts a sort of slow motion collision with all the sensuality of knackered Ballardian pillow-talk. Each track here teases the senses with a range of frayed, fractured and breezily unresolved structures that exert an ideal ambient sleight-of-hand primed to lead listeners’ thoughts off on their own woozy tangents between the music’s mix of syrupy/brittle rhythm and elusive atmospheric clag. On the A-side the sounds all remains detectably electronic, but for those who manage to keep their lids over half-mast, the B-side blossoms with sampled acoustic textures between a scudding choral cut-up that’s surely worth the entry alone, and in the closing thread of rainy day piano keys that perfuse and wilt in the heart-clutching closing piece. For solitary reflection, Ulla’s first mononymous release is a gorgeous record that mellows and balances any physical or mental space it comes into contact with.
The haunting sound of 1930s to ’50s Greek Rebetika is subject of another spot-on compilation from London’s Death Is Not The End.
An ongoing concern for the label - and always welcome around these parts - Greek Rebetika is an often dark, melancholy style of folk/pop music that spread from the docks of Athens to a Greek diaspora across the world in the early 20th century. As the label correctly classify, these “songs of sorrow, poverty, loss and general end of this god forsaken planet” still resonate nearly a 100 years later due to their relative simplicity, which has future proofed their memorable melodies and unmistakeable feel for generations to come. OK, it probably sounds a bit old hat to youngers in Greece, but for us there’s just something eternally appealing to this style.
The famous Markos Vamvakaris appears on this set with the sarkily jolly but exasperated sound of ‘Those Who Are Rich’, and Stelios Kazantzidis contributes two highlights with the lamenting cadence of ‘Bleed Bleed’ and ‘The Leaves Fall From Branches’, while we’re also rapt with the pipes of Yiota Lydia’s ‘Badworld’, the coy strings of ‘I Want to Enjoy the World’ by Elli Sofroniou, and the ventricle-jangling riffs of ‘I Ached in My Heart’ by Marika Ninou.
Purple Mountains is the new nom-de-rock of David Berman, formerly of Silver Jews (whose classic run was made somehow finite in 2009, when the voice himself, David Berman, announced his retirement from music).
"‘Purple Mountains’ is also the name of what will be known as one of his greatest albums - full of double-jointed witand wisdom, up to the neck in his special recipe of handcrafted country-rock joys and sorrows that sing legendary in cracked and broken hearts. The songs areproduced impeccably by Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere and Jeremy Earle, buffed up like a hardwood floor ready to be well-trod upon for an evening of romance and dance.
The songs of Purple Mountains are a potent brew, stitched together from lifetimes, knitting the drift of the years with the tightest lyric construction Berman’s ever attempted. Honesty is archly in the air but lines of incredible bleakness somehow give way to playful distraction and the hiding of surprises for close listeners. Even still, as the songwriter once wrote, “every single thought is like a punch in the face.” It won’t take long after slapping the record on the platter for you to hear that this is one of those albums.
There are breakup records. There are apocalypse records. Then there’s ‘Purple Mountains’. Berman’s songwriter’s bone’s never been laid more bare - if redemption doesn’t come on the lyric sheet, the act of putting these songs into singing, dancing form allows them their finest end - to provide infotainment for others, embodying moments of life and truth via music that elevates with disarming warmth and a reassuring commonality, even as David himself stands outside the communal campfires."
ISAN’s Robin Saville invites you along for one of his daily perambulations in ‘The Deepdale Halophyte Economy’, a choice cut previewing a full length LP of music inspired by and intended to soundtrack a good ol’ mooch.
Prescient maverick Markus Popp minces our swedes with the schizzy, quantum mechanics and avant-pop appeal of his first new Oval album in six years.
Assured of his place in the pantheon of electronic music pioneers since his earliest, groundbreaking work with fucked-up CDs and bespoke software, Oval’s rate of innovation may have waned since the ‘90s, but he still has an extraordinary way with the fundamentals of musical composition, as found on ’Scis’. The follow-up to 2014’s ‘Popp’ expands on that album’s hyperfruity, melodic dance-pop leanings with the kind of inimitably crafty, human touch that many have come to expect from Oval’s advanced output.
You can trust he doesn’t leave a nano-second of the record wanting for detail, cramming filigree melodic twirls and restless rhythm at every turn from the wild fusion of feathered keys and rabid dubstep in opener ‘Twirror’, to the fractalised swang of ‘Fluoresco’, an Akufen-like R&B cut-up in ‘Pushhh’, and Coh-meets-Luomo-esque chops on ‘Improg’, along with exemplary future funk in ‘Cozzmo’.
If previous Oval albums have struck you as too knowingly obtuse, there’s an impressively finer balance of the i’m-dead-clever-me aspects, and straight-up enjoyable pop sensuality and swerve to this one.
Bjørn Torske and Prins Thomas follow the trippy lines of Yoshinori Hayashi’s debut album ‘Ambivalence’ to the dancefloor in two expansive remixes
Norwegian disco blue blood Prins Thomas sets his sights on the horizon with a long and winding mid-tempo house take on ‘0208’ illuminated with god-light choral pads and riven with tribal acid vibes.
Another Norsk disco blue blood Bjørn Torske helms the flip with a dubbed-out Balearic take on ‘Geckos’ that evens out Hayashiu’s kinks for a bar-friendly sashay.
Japan’s much-loved experimental rock band churn up a jangly, driving sort of no wave with signature, playful joy and bewitching flow on 8th studio album ‘Nijimusi’, their first since 2013
“Sounds created for no reason. Sounds that come and go, and disappear into the air like a scent, as soon as they materialize. Atonal phrases that hold the meaning of words that existed before the advent of language. The wonders of a vortex pulsing with life. Just as a new discovery is actually a new way of looking to see what has always been there, OOIOO, seemingly from the core of their being, created a world of sound made up of parts well known that is strikingly precise and intensely original. After a six year hiatus, OOIOO has created a new album that goes back to the roots of being a four-piece band. The music shows the full spectrum of the unique sound they have crafted throughout the years, which can only be described as “OOIOO”.
It might come as a surprise that nijimusi was recorded mainly using a conventional rock ensemble of two guitars, bass, and drums. OOIOO viewed their instruments simply as “objects that make sounds”, and took a primitive and basic approach to creating the music. The drum tones fluctuate powerfully through the air, while sounding as if they are being observed under a microscope. Bass notes and electronic bursts are so dense that they sound like they’ve been vacuum-sealed. The arrangement of the tones seem to be almost ancient, transcending the notion of a musical ensemble, suggesting the connectivity and oneness that is inherent in all living creatures.
Founded in 1995 by legendary percussionist/guitarist/vocalist YoshimiO, OOIOO’s members came together as musicians who move freely between the audible and inaudible, rhythm and non-rhythm, noise and silence. The music they create is a collection of moments and essences of their favorite sounds, captured as they were created before returning into the ether. In 2016, drummer MISHINA joined the band, allowing more freedom in their rhythmic approach and overall sound. Just as each cell in the body consists of a microcosm of its own, the vibrations of each of the members resonate together to create a new life form, a process reflected in nijimusi.
nijimusi can be considered music, but is also a work of art that stimulates the sense of touch and smell, while being atmospheric and ethereal at the same time. If music is an art form based on the sense of hearing and the concept of time, this album may be deviating from the conventional definition of music. The work is a reflection of the sounds resonating from OOIOO while as they were completely present in the moment. The sounds are like the cries emanating from a creature called OOIOO, proof that it is a living, breathing being. Experience the sounds of OOIOO that can only be heard in the here and now.”
Enchanted ‘90s ambient classicism from Japan’s Yoshihiro Sawasaki, newly edited and reissued by Pedro Vian for the MOMArchives sublabel of Modern Obscure Music. Originally dispatched in 1994 on Sublime Records - then home to Susumu Yokota and Ken Ishii - ‘Neocrystal’ has risen to the surface as a standout from the ‘90s phase of Japanese electronic music.
Subtly edited by Pedro Vian, the two tracks still glisten with a utopian promise that bridges new age environmental music and ambient techno, especially in the hyaline iridescence and bubbling acidic tones of ‘Neocrystal’, which eventually coalesces around a looping ambient breakbeat, whereas ‘Magic Dome’ approaches the floor more directly with its simmering electro drum patterns and streaking kosmiche synth leads drawing dancers in for a slinky shimmy and holding them there for 10 minutes.
As played by Rian Treanor, Hard on Yard Sourdonk Communion shake out two donk specials for tuuun’s Fluf, backed with the boss’s remix and a K-holing rework from Dane Law.
Freshly faded with a Wigan style inverted tonsure and boinging on Nike TN levels of scally bounce, ‘Monastic’ whips out his best donks for the lads and lasses, before ‘Bombastic’ ties its own laces in impossible knots of chromatic convolution.
Dane Law grapples with ‘Bombastic’ in a barely-hinged style that resembles an aural model of ketamine’s putative effects, and tuuun ramps ‘Monastic’ to near escape velocity while his high register tones bleat like Yoshi Wada’s pipes blown by EVOL. Woohoo.
Bergsonist supplies Optimo Music’s most fwd-looking, or at least present-grasping, release in some time with her sophomore album proper, bleeding Moroccon drums with grainy techno pulses and mutated vocals in a ruggedly expressive style. Tip!
“Bergsonist aka Selwa Abd is a New York–based artist and musician originally from Morocco. She is the founder of Bizaarbazaar, a music platform and publication that publishes podcasts and interviews by DJs and producers from around the world. Under the guise Bergsonist (derived from Deleuze's Bergsonism), she uses a variety of media to investigate social resonance through divergent conceptual aesthetics (minimalism, techno, and music concrete, to name a few). Through her work, she explores notions of identity, memory, and social politics.
In 2017, she started Pick Up The Flow, a resource to promote congregation and exchange between peers. Currently, co-run with Stephen Decker. In 2019, she co-founded 3afak with DJ Sanna, a collective that aims to empower Arab women’s creative vision in New York. Bergsonist on the album: Middle Ouest is an ode to my history, present and future self. Like a sonic autobiography, It's the first body of work that realistically depicts my identity. It's a statement towards all the people who tried to put me into a box. I'm not a box but a genre-less ocean. I don't make genres, I just make music I feel making in the moment. It's all about capturing the moment in a given time. If the aesthetic happens to be house or techno then it is. But I'm not a techno artist.. I'm just a free sonic 'voyageur'. I make music as i feel the world; it can be dark, jovial, weird... I mirror the feelings into sonic compositions. However, the only variables that never change in this equation are the message and intention.”
Non-Classical cast an ear over the expanding, contemporary wave of field recordists in a compilation to accompany the London event of the same name
Kate Carr yields a typcially transfixing piece in her recording of ‘Highway Bridge Drain Pipes, Saskatoon, Canada’, and Mark Vernon follows up the soundtrack to his ace-looking ‘Bait’ film with a alien sounds captured at ‘Risør Harbour’, while series coordinator Nick Luscombe offers enchanting documentary of ‘Tokyo Spring Birdcalls’, and D/BAM somehow gets a doomcore gabber track out of a ‘Mr Slush’ machine.
“The release reflects ‘a burgeoning area of sonic creativity that has gone from a very niche area of sonic art to something much more commonplace’.
It has been compiled by Nick Luscombe, Nonclassical A&R. Writing about Fieldwave, he says, ‘This rapidly expanding social phenomenon is exciting in that it both democratises the art of composition - with minimal barriers to capturing and creating new work “in the field”- and challenges how we view today’s role of a composer.’”
Classic, foundational shoegaze pop from Leeds, 1990, including a bonus side of demos recorded in the terraced hills of Woodhouse, plus their John Peel Session...
“On the eve of a post-Thatcherite Britain, the Pale Saints, alongside the likes of Lush, Ride and Slowdive, were ushering in a new wave of British indie. And in 4AD, they found a perfect home for their music - an exciting & undeniable meld of noise and dream-pop.
Their debut album, The Comforts of Madness, didn’t disappoint, now standing as one of the best of its era. Pitchfork placed it in their Best 50 Shoegaze Albums Of All Time saying, “There’s a restless urgency, particularly when the volume swells and the rhythms intensify. That energy not only keeps (it) vital, it emphasizes Pale Saints’ inventiveness, how they channelled softness and rage into something distinctive.”
Nearly 30 years on and The Comforts of Madness is finally getting the reissue treatment. Having been remastered, a faithful LP repress on black vinyl is being released as well as double CD and double clear vinyl editions, both of which come with a bonus disc of previously unreleased demos and the band’s only John Peel Session, recorded in 1989.”
Algiers return with third album 'There Is No Year', released on Matador Records.
"‘There Is No Year’ solidifies and expands upon the doom-laden soul of their foundation, toward an even more epic, genre-reformatting sound, one somehow suspended in the amber of “a different era,” as described by guitarist Lee Tesche."
Gqom conduit Nan Kolè trades in melodic Afro-house with singjay vocal by Jahkal Beeley
Aside to his work on the Gqom Oh! series that’s shared prime new music from South African townships with the rest of the world, Kolè hits his stride with a more melodic sort of Afroswing sound on ’Show’, low key sparked off by Jakhal Beeley’s hinted and rasping vocal.
Funky acid/proto-house from the G behind Starship Commander Woo Woo! Who knew?!
Picked up for necessary reissue by Australia’s Left Ear Records, Omer Coleman Jr’s little known but sought-after 7” ‘Lovin “Babe” Sure Is Fun’ was first pressed in 1985 but has languished in obscurity ’til now.
The charming original 7” cut is now remastered and primed to squeeze the dance alongside an unreleased, extended vocal and bonus slow jam ‘So Good (Instrumental)’.
Future Times releases a 7" single from Oakland's Motoko & Myers - the duo is made up of Wonja & DJML, both of whom have blessed electronic music in numerous ways recently together and individually, via releases on Jacktone, DJing together for their Herzog Hideout radio transmissions, and their amazing album from 2018, Basis Key, released via Bass Clef's digital imprint Open Hand Real Flames.
"M+M make music from a really special place, wild tones, drum-machine-breaths and weird, pitched synth space combine with a sense of rhythm that folds in on itself. B-Side "Whimbrel" represents this perhaps best of the two songs, with a loping, wandering-on-the-beach sense of synth space and not-quite-dancehall drums.
"Plover", however, is a perfect set-starter for the techno freaks, with the lightest drums coming in halfway over a thick, shifting loop of perfect glass techno for the DJs."
Tweaky, rugged acid-house jackers from Italian producer Bawrut, making a rare foray away from Ransom Note with his debut for Life & Death
‘Rollin’’ metes out a cosmic-tribal vibe lead by live-wire synths and sizzling drums, whereas ‘Terza’ tempos out a sort of Italo-house booster and ‘Drum Beat’ kicks it harder, freakier in a proto-Italo-techno style.
‘Swirlings’ sees one of USA’s most prolific and searching synthesists at full wingspan for Hausu Mountain, taking in cascading cosmic visions, bubbling pastoral simulacra, and icy deep space doom in his devilishly detailed style of composition.
L.A. fixture Nick Malkin meets Maxwell Sterling, M. Geddes Gengras and more to limn the sound of the city of angels at night in a mix of warm instrumental jazz and electronics.
““A Typical Night in the Pit” is a collection of new music by Los Angeles’ Nick Malkin. It is an album that finds the artist absorbed in the density and chaos of the urban complex. It is unquestionably an “LA album,” but not the LA of hi-fi listening bars and twinkling, Instagram-ready New Age. Rather, Malkin navigates something more akin to the LA found in the films of Robert Altman or Alan Rudolph— overheated, tense, hazy, frayed— with blue-lit, nocturnal compositions that at times recall Mark Isham’s noirish scores for those subversive (anti-)Hollywood pictures. Enlisting a revolving cast of LA experimentalists, Malkin has assembled a record that is as chameleonic as it is cohesive, offering up vignettes ranging from the skewed MIDI-jazz of “Sixth Street Conversation” to the skulking menace of “Estacionamiento Privado,” before giving way to the wide-eyed, cloudy closer “View From Two Perspectives.”
C’mon, let’s go in here and get outta this heat.”
Killer joyride of noisy, white-knuckle rhythms and biting-point sound design by Milan’s Advanced Audio Research for the increasingly ace Haunter Records
In hot pursuit of the styles found in his 2018 debut, the ‘First Grade’ LP - which recently turned up in Jon K’s killer TTT mix - the ‘Top Secret’ LP doubles down on that sound with nearly twice as much material and more belligerent confidence that places him in close orbit with fellow Italian demon, Shapednoise while also recalling the breakcore blatz of Somatic Responses and Venetian Snares.
No punches are pulled across the album’s 12 gory cuts, which often run at a frenetic 160bpm and all leave no nanosecond shy of seething action, fulminating standout pieces in the club mastication of ‘Gandalf’, the supremely cranky grind of ‘Gizmo (Tribute to Kazuhiko “Smokey” Nagata)’, his roiling R&B noise fusion, and the hardcore razz of ‘Trans-Mongolian Railway’.