Lower case, DIY studies in avant-garde composition and Japanese folk by Cafe OTO co-founder Keiko Yamamoto and Rie Nakajima for Mana Records, the label run by Matthew Kent (Blowing Up The Workshop) and Andrea Zarza (British Library)
“O YAMA O explores a certain domestic and democratic quality of everyday life, born through associations to folk music of Japan and a folding of myth, tradition, and routine; the non-spectacular and the sublime.
Formed of musician and artist Rie Nakajima and Cafe OTO co-founder Keiko Yamamoto, the group has performed since 2014 at venues and festivals such as noshowspace, Ikon Gallery, Wysing Arts Centre, Supernormal, Borealis Festival, Mayhem, and allEars Festival.
Nakajima’s performance often focuses on the use of found and kinetic objects, using modest items such as rice bowls, toys, clockwork, balloons and small motors as instruments to create a “micro orchestra”. Elements are layered into impressive and immersive atmospheres. Yamamoto alternatively floats and charges through this with body and voice; chanting, incanting, thundering, whispering, stamping on the floor.
Their debut album consolidates their musical conversations into keenly paced studio music, the duo working with additional instrumentation and a resolved focus on melody to provide vivid portraits of folkloric Japan in song.
They move between pop and the philosophical, defined by the overall space afforded to texture and movement. In small, delicate sound an intimate musical climate is established that reflects on life, telling stories of improvised clockwork, whispered dreams, small movements of the hand and the rhythm to be found in the shuffle of a deck of cards.
Grandly theatric and dramatic flourishes add solidity to these illustrations, operas driven by the swooping energy and power of Yamamoto’s voice can be playful or emotionally charged, particularly when the duo arrange themselves in ensemble with violinist Billy Steiger and percussionist Marie Roux. Production by David Cunningham creates the shadowy presence of a leftfield Flying Lizards dubwise depth that adds subtle strangeness to the atmosphere. The result is something raw, full-bodied; full of energy, grace and mystery.”
Matthew Herbert’s sought-after ‘Part 5’ (1996) swangs hard back into 2018
Up top he commands your swing with the pendulous syncopation of gruff subs and hard drums in ‘Move It’, beside the slinky garage house jaunt ‘Our Love (Has Got Me Movin’)’. B-side he turns out the deep tech house of ‘UK Spring’ and the trippy, stepping tool ‘Love The DJ’, primed for the late hours and endless afters.
New York’s Blank Forms follow their amazing Catherine Christer Hennix 2LP with a recently salvaged portrait of Loren Connors as we’ve rarely heard him before, cutting loose on a barely-hinged homage to delta blues and country replete with vocals imitating the dogs that howled outside his home in New Haven, Connecticut.
Hearkening back to a time before the spectral, romantic electric guitar vignettes for which he is celebrated, ‘Unaccompanied Acoustic Guitar Improvisations Vol. 10’ was intended as the 10th volume in a series of solo acoustic guitar improvisations released on his label, Dagget Records. But the distributor went bankrupt, leaving the car-less Connors to dispose of the unsold stock rather than drag the records home. However, thanks to a recording found by Unseen Worlds’ Tommy McCutcheon in Columbia University Libraries archival collections, this remarkable side is finally set to find its audience nearly 40 years later.
For anyone not au fait with this period of Connors work, ‘Unaccompanied Acoustic Guitar Improvisations Vol. 10’ offers a shocking contrast with his possibly better known and exquisitely tender later work. The deftness is still patently there, but the results are jaggedly raw and perhaps best compared with his transatlantic blues brother Derek Bailey, strung out in an array of wildly pitch-bent yanks and wails that could be described as expressions of heartbroken despair, laments for lost souls, or possessed by spirits, depending your own take.
In Connors’ hands, here the history of the blues and country collapses into the brink of abstraction, but, most crucially, his music remains integrally tied to those styles, with Connors acting as a conductive vessel for a swarm of hard-bitten ghosts to say their piece.
Fred Welton Walmsley III (Lee Bannon) completes his esoteric ambient metamorphosis with Dedekind Cut’s melancholic Tahoe album for arch American electronic drifters, Kranky Records - home to some of the some of the finest atmospheric ambient works of recent decades by Stars of The Lid, Loscil, Tim Hecker.
In key with Kranky’s heritage, Dedekind Cut very neatly plays to the label aesthetic on Tahoe with a widescreen suite of slow, windswept synths layered into expansive harmonics evoking cinematic and psychedelic sensations. They range from pop-ambient pockets of bittersweetness to more brooding tracts of durational immersion, with each connected by an overarching feeling of sadness or unresolved strife.
It’s all very much what you’d expect from a Kranky release, until you start paying closer attention. Where Kranky’s chorus of ambient angels have often spent decades on their craft, developing personalised timbral sensitivities and sound identities, the shapeshifting Dedekind Cut’s newness to this particular field is betrayed by the more elusive reach of his soundsphere, but the artist makes up for a lack of tonal richness by conveying his intent more directly thru the arrangement and overall feeling, or soul connoted by his compositions.
Séance Centre serve an astonishing 2LP by L.A. composer and voice-over artist MJ Lallo, making good on the promise of her ‘Star Child’ 12” with a stellar showcase of wonderfully expressive glossolalia and bobbling drum machine patterns embedded in vast synth backdrops. What a find?! Big tip to fans of Jon Hassell, Laurie Anderson, Ramzi, Breadwoman, The Art Of Noise!!!
“Take Me With You is a revelatory voyage through the captivating universe of voice artist and poet MJ Lallo. The works on this 2LP compilation were all recorded in her home studio between 1982 and 1997, primarily using drum computer, synth and her own voice processed through a Yamaha SPX 90 digital effects unit. They range from wordless harmonizer mantras and primitive drum computer meditations, to psychedelic latin dance-floor anthems and synth-drenched end-of-the-nighters.
Lallo has created her own inimitable galaxy of sound where the human voice, liberated from the constraints of language and abstracted using digital technology, is able to explore the outer realms of human expression, like Joan La Barbara with an Eventide and a new-age sensibility. Although Lallo’s flight path is distinctly her own, her journey converges with other travellers as diverse as Jon Hassell, Laraaji, Stereolab, William Aura, Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk, Gertrude Stein and even Terry Gilliam (whose film Brazil was a big influence on Lallo). Like something beamed in from another planet, Lallo’s work is both fascinatingly strange and strangely familiar, and will leave a lasting impression for lightyears to come.”
Low-key, ambient updates of Washington Go-Go and boogie from D.C. area’s Davon Bryant a.k.a. Dreamcast
‘Outer Space’ bumps with a high-grade THC potency, distilling Go-Go into vaporous electronics, while ‘Up 2 You’ follows an old skool line of jazzy R&B boom bap, Future Times style.
Sludgy. stoned, avant-rock madness from NYC performance art troupe Hairbone on the exploratory Blank Forms Editions
“Despite Hairbone’s prolific, obsessively-documented life as a performance art group, Earth To Momma is the band’s first studio LP, distilling their sprawling live shows into 12 distinct pieces of lyrical, art-damaged rock and pop music. Their institutional success begs for comparisons to artists’ bands like Destroy All Monsters or Die Tödliche Doris, but Hairbone’s confusion of high and low culture fits them equally into peerdom with the classic American underground of the Butthole Surfers and Sun City Girls. A native of Mexico, de Nieves delivers bilingual incantations that are bolstered by Stead’s synthetic drum sampling and guitarist Whipple’s acid-fried neoclassical shredder excess. The record is a shapeshifting suite that fits veiled commodity critique, volcanic convulsions, blasé songcraft, and a breezy instrumental into a hallucinatory vision haunted by abject clowns and the grain of twisted emergency police calls. With tongue set firmly in cheek—through Stead’s ode to Chateau Diana bodega “wine product,” and de Nieves’s simulated Kim Gordon sighting—Hairbone maintain an irreverent authenticity in an era when the mere notion has become a barren field.
Hairbone is a New York-based power trio of artists Raúl de Nieves, Jessie Stead, and Nathan Whipple, formerly known as Haribo. Functioning mainly in the art world, Hairbone has inflicted their carnivalesque live shows upon audiences from museums to decrepit basements for nearly a decade. Each unique, narrative multimedia performance features frontman de Nieves inhabiting new personae in a sculptural actionist mode, brandishing oversized, text-emblazoned props as if they were picket signs, then proceeding to destroy them as Hairbone’s near-opera burlesque freak shows unfurl. Obliquely political, theirs is a protest music without didacticism.”
Sarah Davachi serves her 2nd album of 2018 with ‘Gave In Rest’, offering a studio developed follow-up to her mesmerising album ‘Let Night Come On Bells End The Day’, which has quietly dominated our listening lives for months already...
As her beatific blends of early church, medieval and Renaissance musics have patiently and patently revealed over the past five years, Sarah’s works for piano, organ, synth, and woodwind demonstrate a unique gift for extracting and reworking the most affective spirits of church music to a secular appeal, effectively voicing a sort of metaphysical minimalism that could be explained as a result of deeply focused technique, but is perhaps better regarded as a timeless form of sonic alchemy.
Where her previous records were documents of a shorter time spent with her instruments, Sarah dedicated herself on ‘Gave In Rest’, spending a summer giving deeper consideration to how Renaissance musicians experimented with new instruments, forms and texture, and “how the quietude… and the openness of physical space, the stillness of altars“ in churches would have affected how they wrote. Subsequently recording with Howard Bilerman at Montreal’s hotel2tango (home of myriad, seminal Constellation recordings), Sarah brought those instrumental ideas to life with the modern addition of tape delays and chorusing effects to infuse and render shimmering new layers of timbral depth to her plaintive melodic gestures, and with a subtle yet unmistakably visceral impact.
In album opener ‘Auster’ she uses tape to slow down a recorder and open up its vibrating innards, revealing a tremulous, transfixing soul in the most humble of instruments, while the LP’s closer ‘Waking’ finds her locating elusive echoes of Baroque harmonies in that most soulful machine, beautifully realigning its putative purpose. In between, her tracks’ moods and titles chart a slow passing of day and night, from he ghostly elegance of ‘Third Hour’ to her sylvan ‘Evensong’, thru to the stately yet lip-wobbling beauty of ‘Matins’ at the album’s core, and perhaps best of all in the achingly evocative coruscation of ‘Gloaming’, a song we already know we’ll be returning to for many, many years to come.
The loaded, polysemous word ‘soul’ springs to mind, on the one hand connoting lofty notions of transcendence, contemplation and reverence, while on the other also helping to define a gentle, slow-burning modesty and broad appeal to practically anybody with ears and a functioning sense of empathy. But most of all, ‘Gave In Rest’ will strike a chord with anyone who listens properly and attentively. To use another loaded phrase, the devil is beautifully apparent in its gilded detail.
Beau Wanzer carves back to L.I.E.S. for the first time since debuting under own name in 2013
There’s been no shortage of material released since his debut, but this cranky quintet of frazzled electro and offbeat industrial slurry marks up his most potent gear in years.
Uptown he coughs up the EP’s biggest dancefloor cut with the shadowboxing electro of ‘The Grim Whim’ beside the blank-eyed industrial torpor and melting acidic slosh of ‘Wick Hunny’, whilst the downtown brings the beastmode roil of ‘He Spilled My Drink’, the effluent muck of ‘Moistures’, and the acidic sputum of ‘Shitty Cough 3’.
‘Mandy’ is the exceptional final soundtrack realised by dearly departed composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for the film directed by Panos Cosmatos. A supporting cast of Stephen O’Malley, Kreng and Yair Elazar Glotman, plus production from Randall Dunn ensure a majestic final missive and one of the most rich and varied releases in Jóhannsson's canon, taking in elements of metal, drone and doom ambient, even retro-futuristic synth work...
With a crack squad including O’Malley on guitar and additional production from gifted sound designers Randall Dunn, Pepijn Caudron (Kreng) and Berlin’s Yair Elazar Glotman (Ketev), the results lurk like blinking red eyes in a dense nocturnal forest, swarming in formation from widescreen romance to petrifying, plangent cues and pockets of heart-sinking gloom, saving the gnashing guitars for when their bite is felt strongest, but equally knowing how to send shivers shooting down the spine in moments of sublime, contrasting relief on the ‘Memories’ theme.
Jóhannsson's deft approach to sonic extremities is the real eye opener here; far removed from the emotionally driven demands of his more mainstream work for hollywood, here we're taken through grinding, industrial metal scrapes one minute and insanely rich ambient textures the next - with no concession to soaring emotional cues. Not that Jóhannsson ever really succumbed to much of that; but nonetheless - it’s a total pleasure to hear him reach into those darker recesses on Mandy - a soundtrack that’s likely to be remembered as one of his best.
R.I.P to a true master.
An astounding, epic journey into the most obscure areas of early electronic music, Phillip Werren’s Electronic Music is wellspring of contemporary composition across four LPs.
"Electronic Music was recorded at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver), McGill University (Montreal) and Radio Warzawa (Poland) between 1967 and 1971. Influenced as much by serialism as by psychedelia and the occult, the album features elements of tape collage, voice, and experimental composition. Most of the recordings were performed on a Buchla System 100, one of the first modular synthesizers. An absorbing piece of the Canadian avant-garde, Electronic Music is a journey through space, sound, texture, and unbridled experimentation.
Recommended for fans of artist ranging from Stockhausen, Xenakis, and Ferrari to Basil Kirchin, Conrad Schnitzler, Throbbing Gristle, and Coil – Manufactured Recordings’ reissue of Electronic Music aims to shed light on this crucially overlooked composer."
One of NAAFI’s strongest new players, Debit follows her killer debut LP ‘Animus’ with a keener focus on tonal composition in the steeply absorbing ‘Love Discipline’ for Quiet Time Tapes - blown away by this one.
After setting out her style on the edges on Latinx electronix and dark club music, ‘Love Discipline’ marks Debit’s shocking but welcome turn into sheer sound designer territory. Shaping up as five tracks of billowing, beat-less structures enriched with sci-fi cinematic appeal, the result are comparable to Leyland Kirby or BJNilsen as much as Rabit or The Sprawl, but with an iridescent spice of her own creation.
V Highly Recommended!
‘Disappearer’ is Ron Morelli’s 4th album of grot for Hospital Productions.
The L.I.E.S. boss (and fellow Parisian resident Krikor Kouchian as co-pilot on a handful of cuts) produces his tightest, most hard-hitting material to date, from the gothic slime of ‘Narco Frq’ to the slurried ’Squeeze’, vacillating between heavy techno, kerb-crawling electro and passages of tonal terror with a persistent stare-down mentality, giving up highlights in primitivist knocks and coenobite chatter of ‘Laugh Taker’, the Prurient-esque squall of ‘Golden Oldies’, a recursive missile named ‘Hole In The Head’, and the gloomy creeper, ’Snow On The Headstone’.
Peverelist feels housey on the 50th release from Bristol’s Idle Hands label, shop and bass community centre
Marking his first outing since the ‘Tessellations’ album in 2017, the Avon don plays deep into Idle Hands’ forward soulboy briefin both parts, cooking up a lean and clean sweep of percolated dub chords and slinky latinate hustle on the swingeing ‘Left Hand’, before tucking the groove tighter in-the-pocket with the plasmic apparition of ‘Right Hand’, a daring, barely-there stroke of swing music for the late night/early morning dancers and smokers.
‘Radikale Akzeptanz’ is the ruggedly sculpted debut of synth-pop deviation from Belia Winnewisser for Präsens Editionen, the label wing of Lucerne’s zweikommaseiben magazine
Widescreen in scope and caustic in texture, ‘Radikale Akzeptanz’ offers a definitive dose of Belia’s style following her 2017 split tape with L. Zylberberg, also for Präsens Editionen. Over its eight tracks, Belia scales form iridescent steepled drone and depth charge synth shocks to a transfixing piece of Skull Disco-esque dance music, covering everything from blistering dream-pop and shoegazing EBM between.
Following singles and remixes for the catalogue, Famous Eno steps out with his first Swing Ting EP proper; six heaters for the club - showcasing the full range of the Irish producer's floor-focused abilities
"With vocals from Uniiqu3, Killa P, Bay-C, Trigganom, Bryte and input from friends Gafacci, Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones, Music For Clubs is exactly that, soundsystem-ready weaponry for DJs from all corners of the globe.
EP opener Make it Clap features New Jersey scene Qween Uniiqu3 over a ravey, raucous beat sure to provide reloads galore either side of the Atlantic. Longtime - a fixture in tastemaker DJs sets heads to London to find grime legend Killa P deftly riding Eno's deadly riddim. Bay-C of Jamaican supercrew TOK makes an appearance on bashment banger Gal a Bubble, before Ghanaian wizard Gafacci drops by to co-produce the skippy afro-house bubbler Ranting. Accra-based MC Bryte showcases his microphone dexterity on Money Collector with set-closer Life rounding things off neatly with Killa P & frequent collaborator Trigganom on fine form over the skewed otherworldly backdrop aided by Sinjin Hawke & Zora Jones.”
Lisbon’s finest Bruno Silva aka Ondness aka Serpente aka a bunch of other monikers (google it) presents a schizophrenic split EP on Sucata Tapes, featuring different projects on each side.
“Ondness showcases what Bruno’s ‘main’ project has been elegantly and quietly doing for a while. Sound debris, chopped beats and rejected samples are intertwined to create two unique epic tracks that travel far and wide between the zones where you wished you would be.
Serpente delves deeper into Bruno’s repetitive mantra styles. Blasting sample based beats into a disparate whole, and coherently collaging it all through vivid sleep walking techniques.
In our (not so humble) opinion, an extremely welcome addition to the ever growing Sucata Tapes catalogue.”
R.I.Y.L. Grimes, Kelly Lee Owens, Phantogram, Sylvan Esso, Sophie, Toro Y Moi.
"Pure-O, the new LP by Berlin-via-Norway musician Farao, is a prog-pop exposition on the curious dichotomy between beauty and destructiveness in sex and relationships. Where so much modern pop attempts to tug similar thematic threads only to succumb to naiveté and euphemism, Farao grabs these subjects and dives headlong into a neon pool of synthesizer, zither, drums, and soaring vocals without sacrificing maturity, complexity, or artistry. Musically, she references 90’s R&B, and the untapped goldmine of Soviet disco.
But the most important pillar of Pure-O – its living, breathing, biological quality-- is entirely Farao’s own. To be sure, all of the electronic ingredients are in the exact right places on Pure-O. Soviet-made synth tones ripple out fr om an undefined center lik e a Frank Stella painting, with sharply angled lines of color buzzing with concentric, hand-painted ecstasy. Rolling vocal melodies carry descriptive turns of phrase to gratifying heights, echoing in listeners’ minds long after their ears. In the spaces between all this electricity, there are shimmering microcosms of Alice Coltrane-esque acoustics that provide the album with an unmistakably rich, tactile marrow.
Perhaps, then, we’re hearing Farao’s early youth in Norway finding perfect equilibrium with her adulthood in Berlin on Pure-O. She says of the time she spent recording, “I was in the process of learning how to conduct myself while not getting sucked in to the whirlpool that is Berlin party culture,” and of her childhood “It wasn’t a place I felt stimulated creatively, and felt quite lonely there growing up, which made me turn to music as a language for a set of emotions I didn’t know how to release otherwise.” It’s precisely this relationship between quiet reflection and overstimulation that makes the album unlike anything of its genre. In an age when non-electronic pop seems like an outlier, Farao constructs a bridge of humanity from the organic to the inorganic, rounding out the hard edges and sharpening the soft ones, thereby transplanting a healthy, beating heart into modern synth-pop."
One of the year’s most crucial wave reissues, Stano’s debut LP ‘Content to write in I dine Weathercraft’ is a seminal and sought-after Irish post-punk album starring two rare appearances by the near-mythical Michael O’Shea. Nothing less than an essential recommendation to anyone familiar with the Michael O’Shea LP, Finders Keeper’s ‘Strange Passion’ compilation, or early Dome experiments!
We can barely contain our buzz over this reissue. From its wild DIY drum machine programming to the appearance of O’Shea’s cymbeline-like home-built instrument and the cut ’n splice, layered song arrangements, ‘Content to write in I dine Weathercraft’ is one of those blue moon reissues that, in hindsight, seem to blow away so much other, better known material from the era whence it came.
As spotted with ‘Town’, a highlight of Finders Keepers’ great Cache Cache compilation, ‘Strange Passion’, Stano’s mix of hands-on drum machine rhythms and bittersweet songcraft remain among the strongest examples from Dublin’s punk/post-punk scene of the early ‘80s. And judging from the 2nd hand asking prices of ‘Content to write in I dine Weathercraft’ in 2018, quite a few other listeners are patently aware of his prowess, too.
A former member of The Threat (also found on ‘Strange Passion’), John Denver Stanley or Stano recorded his first album in Dublin’s Alto studio, in the basement of late C.18th Irish Nationalist leader Robert Emmet’s house, where he made sublime use of the studio’s natural reverbs, inviting around pals and peers to work in a musique concrete-like method of playing, processing and editing to achieve the wickedly unpredictable, flowing chicanery of his first album.
The two appearances of Michael O’Shea and his Mo Chara (a self-built, 17-string, zither or cymbeline-like instrument with pick-ups) are noteworthy not just for their haunting beauty, but also their rarity, amounting to the near-mythical busker’s only known recordings outside an eponymous classic for Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis’ Dome Records. Whether meshed with Stano’s drum machine and echoplex FX in ‘Seance of a Kondalike’ or layered with his Sitar and Stano’s tabla-esque tweaks in ‘A Dead Rose’, the effect leaves us a shivering mess, to be honest and still scratching our heads why there’s no recent, significant reissue of O’Shea’s own work.
The rest of the LP is no less brilliant in it’s own way, roundly speaking to the diversity Stano, a self-described “non-musician”, and his intuitive way with sound. From the almost lusting funk of ‘White Field (In Isis)’, to the wild-pitching drum machine of ‘Blue Glide’, thru the icy elegance of the grand piano in ‘Out of the Dark, Into the Dawn’, to the sheer concrete sound design of ‘Melting Grey’ and again with that deadly machine swagger on ‘Emma Wild’ and ‘Room’, we’re left in no doubt this LP is a true, overlooked classic of its time.
Switched-On Eugene documents the Eugene Electronic Music Collective and some of the many synthed-out gures in and around Oregon’s iconic hippie stronghold during the 1980s.
"Whether connected by membership, geography, or the tape trading scene, the artists in and around the EEMC shared compelling visions of the future we now inhabit, vividly captured on home-recorded tapes and distributed via zines, classi eds, and local radio. Switched-On Eugene is a deep dive into a heretofore forgotten sonic microcosm unlike any other."
Aman!!! is a newly formed project by Tasos Stamou (Greek bouzouki & Turkish saz) and Thodoris Ziarkas (blues guitar).
"The duo explores the borders of improvisation in the context of traditional music, especially focused in the musical heritage of Greek Rebetiko and other styles of the South East Mediterranean. The project reflects reflects both musicians' interest about reinterpreting traditional music in a contemporary, non sterilized form whilst dealing with music tradition in their very own special way; abstract prepared-strings improvisations blend back-and-forth with original old songs of '30s and '40s phonography.”
Forever developing her ‘Music as Art’ aesthetic into a meeting point between technically brilliant Plunderphonic technique, and ludicrously funny Toilet Humour, Vicky Bennett’s ‘People Like Us’ project reaches another zenith with the release of this excellently titled ‘Recyclopaedia Britannica’,
It's a compilation of selected works recorded between 1992 and 2002, utilising an array of distinctly british quirks in the construction of mock-lounge music intercepted by gaffs, blips, and narrative absurdities. Vicky has become a master of malladjusted social commentary. Fans of John Oswald, Stock, Hausen and Walkman, Negativeland and Matmos will want to check.
Preeminent sound artists William Basinski and Lawrence English roll out the quietly breathtaking ’Selva Oscura’ as the first fruit of their collaborations spanning the past half decade and more.
Mantled in reference to Dante’s Inferno, ‘Selva Oscura’ literally translates to ‘Twilight Forest’, a title which serves as metaphorical device for the way Basinski and English’s lives in transit have serendipitously crossed paths over the years between Zagreb, L.A., and Hobart, in a variety of situations. On another level it also speaks to the nature of losing one’s way in place and time, which is beautifully reflected in the music’s disorienting, otherworldly ebb and flow flux.
Using a palette of sounds broken down, magnified and inverted from macro to micro scales and vice-versa, and mailed to each other between L.A. and Brisbane, the results map out vast tracts of psychic terrain that shift like the sands of time, with sounds perpetually rearranging themselves on the granular level to render a broader, slow moving tapestry of sublime, anaesthetic quality.
The A-side’s ‘Mono No Aware’ (Japanese for “the pathos things” or “a sensitivity to ephemera”) is a captivatingly transient and hypnagogic work of sferic tones and sprawling wide bass, lulling listeners into a state of lushest melancholy with the allure of a time-lapse video of autumnal weather patterns. ‘Selva Oscura’ follows with a discernibly darker and submersed appeal, as though the clouds have come down to us (or us to them?) and we’re left wandering the firmament, initially swaddled in a creamy grey-pink expanse marbled with pealing partials, before crossing oceanic basses and gently touching down to pinch ourselves.
The Brooklyn based Upper Wilds features Dan Friel (Parts & Labor) on guitar and vocals, bassist/vocalist Zach Lehrhoff (Ex Models, Pterodactyl) and drummer Jeff Ottenbacher.
"The new album dramatically expands their musical scope with noise-pop epics about our colonization of the red planet. Featuring collaborations by Katie Eastburn (Young People, KATIEE), Mark Shue (Guided by Voices), Jeff Rosenstock, Aaron Siegel and Jason Binnick, ‘Mars’ is an album that is bristling with energy and passion. ‘Mars’ is pressed on virgin vinyl and packaged with free download card."
Tom Halstead and Joe Andrews finally inaugurate their long-in-the-making RR label with this deadly new Raime 12”, a precision-tooled exploration of negative space, sinogrime, found Youtube dialogue and colossal subs. The ghosts of grime, jungle, dub, and industrial musicks run deep with this one, here rendered with perhaps the most shockingly pristine, eye-catching production of their career to date.
Following on from ‘Am I Using Content Or Is Content Using Me?’, their 2nd EP of 2018 locates Raime in pursuit of challenging, non linear, and often beat-less structures ruptured by the shrapnel of online culture. The hardcore continuum still haunts their sound, but the concrète soundscapes they create make use of a spectra of techniques to camouflage its presence in any overt way. What remains is a skeletal render that implies delirious momentum. With every chime, sample, snare and sub honed to staggering effect, it becomes an exercise in hyperclarity and propulsion.
There’s no one really honing this sound in quite the same way, while there are parallels with weightless grime and the crystalline electronics of early Arca, Sophie, Rabit etc, Raime trigger a different kind of dynamic, one that fills acres of space with a more nervous, angsty energy directly connected to a lineage of UK club styles. It’s basically anything but background music and feels like a culmination, or perhaps a diversion from a path Raime have been following for almost a decade. If this new label allows them the space to untangle that carefully considered aesthetic, we’re f*cking there for it.
Phantasmagoric sci-fi soundtrack styles from Swedish synth-fondler Johan Öhman Sollin, landing square between the styles of early 0PN, Hype Williams, and James Ferraro.
Marking his debut for iDEAL after more than a decade of trading as Johan Rohbau, Time Deleters, Knife and Ape, Minimen, and Sphinxes for a handful of secretive labels, J.Ö.S. draws from classic pulpy ‘80s cyber-goth and video nasty horror soundtracks for a personalised and totally immersive suite of home-brewed, synthy hauntology.
Essentially relaying the sound of loooong Scandinavian nights where there’s not much else to do other than frighten yourself to sleep, ‘Ultra’ perfectly connotes the clammy feel of ‘80s horror/sci-fi soundtracks and their fixations with body horror, technology, and the occult, figuratively using tape recording techniques and embracing the infidelities of decay to conjure 10 bittersweet, poignant scenes that could have feasibly accompanied the imagery of ‘Decoder’ or some John Carpenter knock off...
Optimo Music serve your disco with five ‘80s-styled bobby dazzlers by Noo
Primed for peak times in red-lit rooms, ‘EP4’ turns out handy jams in the full beam chug of ‘Just Can’t Give It Up’ and the S’Express-esque acid-Italo-house of ‘Tripchild’.
CAVE are kind of beyond time. You might feel like it’s been a while since you’ve seen or heard them but when you see or hear them again, that moment will feel like ‘Allways’.
"During the making of the last album, ‘Threace’, CAVE was in the process of becoming a quintet. They toured the world afterwards, playing on four continents and eighteen countries - as close to everywhere as they could get. Then they took a minute. They recorded it over time, in Chile and then Chicago. You can hear all of this, the energy of liveness, the reps, and consolidating expanded possibilities within their new alignment, the time away, the distance and the freshness of returning to recorded sounds, everywhere on ‘Allways’.
In the past, much has been made of CAVE’s use of particular compelling tropes but their inspiration comes from everywhere - Miles, psych, beats, exotica, library music, rock, punk, the Germans, the New York guys too, minimalists, the Dead, music from India, everywhere. This is a bunch of guys playing rock-based music in a way that pushes them forward from everything they’ve experienced. When you listen to the new CAVE you hear guitars - lots of them - bubbling under, scratching, fanning, locking in and taking off, soaring on acid-washed wings, with keys that pump, burr and whoosh in and out of the rhythms.
Half-speed mastering of ‘Allways’ at Abbey Road has allowed the activity at all frequencies to present with a liquid fullness and ripe detail. ‘Allways’ is a blueprint for your ears to read and a map for CAVE to follow through the world."
Imaginative, impressionistic reframing of field recordings, intended for close listening
“From Geneva Skeen - As I’ve tried to understand what is happening now without judgement––a collapse of systems, boundaries, and symbols that crumble faster with each forcible attempt to reinstate them––I am finding equal failure in streamlined, singular methodologies for both comprehension and composition. Outside, reason and rationale wane in heft and clarity. Representation in a world that refuses fact is uncertain and deceptive. Time is complicated by the failure of the linear. Inside, what we see is not what we hear, what we hear is not what we think, what we think is not what we feel, and so on.
The dread incited by this precarity is difficult to interpret without announcing failure: the anxiety of watching our own hourglass is palpable and demanding. I feel existence in this moment has required a move away from my own humanity in order to simply live in it, live through it, live with it while refusing to release the idea of environmental recovery. It is to request your humanity to unwillingly shift, to mutate toward something sharply resilient and relentless. The sounds on this record embody this sense of mutant consciousness. It is, for me, a representation of a vigorous sprint towards complexity, towards the interdependencies that serve as stop-gaps, towards freaky, slippery, compounded stacks of reality.
The title, A Parallel Array of Horses, is derived from a geologic phenomenon in which a block of a specific type of rock has been completely separated by mineral veins from its counterpart within another body of rock, and then stacked upon multiples of others like it. Sounds on this record are both recorded and produced: the album opens with recordings of a Mojave wind storm and closes with the world’s largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats departing their cave to roam the summer night air of Southeast Texas. Both scenes are landscapes of precarity, politically or meteorologically or otherwise. Interspersed are a variety of electronic instruments and processes, and compositional techniques that are variously clear-cut or intentionally buried by digital processing. Tracks three and four are composed entirely with my own voice––my own body as the original playback mechanism for experiencing the world, but manipulated, elaborated upon, and layered to express a more complex interpretation of that subjective reality.
Through listening, I find myself able to retrace my steps back to a sense of decentered, porous presence––the present is still here, with all of its shifts and confusion and valuable interdependencies. No matter is created or destroyed, only new forms arise.”
The songs of Will Oldham have been written most often for the aliases of Palace or Bonny. Their identities, kept necessarily separate from Will’s, the songs were written to create a singular encounter, to be shared among those who choose to listen.
"‘Songs Of Love And Horror’ is a rare entry in this oeuvre: a Will Oldham album, with the writer taking a turn as singer. As befits the nature of this project, the songs are sung and played by Will alone, in a setting enjoyed by fans of his music - that of one voice and one guitar, the better to savour the spare changes and starkly-cut lyrics, operating in quiet tension and ultimate collaboration.
Will brings to the songs all that he has learned from his stage-crafting fellows over the years, singing new versions that quiver like fresh young things in the air of today."