Helena Hauff’s first album from 2015 - originally only available on a limited edition cassette - now given a necessary 2LP vinyl cut by Dark Entries. Pairs the world-taking DJ’s patented blunt analog bangers with runs into stark synthetic darkness and ruddy acid, all produced on-the-fly in one take. Check for the grotbag EBM of C45p and the night-vision synths of $§”$43.
"We are honored to present ‘A Tape’, a double LP of early work by Helena Hauff, a DJ and record producer based in Hamburg, Germany. At university she studied fine art, physics, and systematic music science. She previously was a resident at Hamburg’s Golden Pudel Club, where she hosted a night called Birds and Other Instruments. As a selector she weaves energetically between electro, new wave, and EBM. Her music, often recorded live in one take, has a raw intensity to it. She debuted with an EP on Werkdiscs back in 2013 followed by records for Lux_Rec and Bunker sublabel Panzerkreuz as well collaborative projects Black Sites with fellow Pudel resident f#x and Hypnobeat with James Dean Brown.
‘A Tape’ is a compilation of Helena’s earliest recordings from 2011 and 2014, originally released on limited cassette by Handmade Birds in 2015. Clocking in at over 50 minutes, this collection spans Hauff’s musical universe, from jacking acid-techno to krautish zone-outs and scuzzy feedback interludes. It’s tempting to consider it Helena’s debut album, but she views these tracks as mostly forgotten sketches left on the cutting room floor. It a gripping collection of deep, sinister analog synth sequences, industrial dissonance, and heavy percussion. Her equipment set up was a Roland Alpha Juno 2, Juno 60, TB-303, TR-707 and TR-808. Both of the discs end with Hauff stepping outside of the intentionally stiff, robotic rhythms, instead showing her skill at crafting less conventional electronic sounds."
Superb 2nd 12” from Montréal-based duo, Solitary Dancer; including anthem-in-the-waiting Emails 2 Myself feat. an instantly memorable vocal by Cititrax’ Marie Davidson.
Over all four cuts the duo play firmly into a classic electro-techno-disco paradigm, firstly nailing the robust but slinky throb and mesmerising top line of Anything into place, before testing out snappy, booming electro a la Cybotron with Losing Touch, before locking in the icy élan of Emails 2 Myself with Marie Davidson intoning the uncannily Kafkaesque lyric over perfectly poised throbs and posable lead hook - also available in its instrumental glory on the Out-Of-Office-Version.
The wayfaring Cómeme leader heads to Africa for this link up with Johannesburg’s Spoko.
Cómeme co-opt Bacardi House into their worldwide panoply of ‘loony beats’ as founder Matias Aguayo runs through a killer six-track grip of stunted, blunted Kwaito jams with the masterful DJ Spoko. Recorded in Spoko’s Joburg studio over the course of one long night, Dirty Dancing finds Aguayo largely doing his best Bez impression, leaving the Bacardi House originator free to deliver a percussive masterclass.
The title track is a less than subtle, but wholly satisfying, reminder Spoko was the percussive mastermind behind Mujava’s Township Funk, with Aguayo’s input largely shouting “Watch what you doing!” over the top. Ghost of Dombolo is a relentless slab of Kwaito meets UKF, whilst an Elbee Bad acapella inspires Spoko and Aguayo to craft a Bacardi House homage to the classic New York sound on Something about the Groove.
You can’t have a Cómeme release without a few trippy drum tracks and the rest of Dirty Dancing fills that quota with the zippy Taxi Rank a clattering, free-wheeling hip tugger dominated by a killer Kalimba solo.
Wolfgang Voigt presents an incredible new chapter in the GAS saga almost 20 years since its last instalment, taking us deeper still into the recesses of that neon lit forest nightscape, just in time for that new series of Twin Peaks that's just around the corner...
Over the last two decades many listeners have become deeply familiar with Zauberburg, Königsforest, and Pop - many for the first time via the vital Nah Und Fern compilation , and with an even greater number becoming seduced and schooled via the comprehensive Box collection in 2016, which effectively sets the scene for this, Wolfgang Voigt’s keenly awaited re-arrival. Not to make him sound like christ or anything but, jeeeeez, we need this guy’s music now as badly as ever.
Under the title Narkopop, which suggests a continuation of the themes explored by its predecessor, Pop , as well as a succinct acknowledgement of his music’s putative purpose, the Kompakt kingpin floods the senses with what must be a life-threatening dose to folk who are AMSR responsive or suffer cardiac respiratory problems; you’ll either shiver yourself to a very pleasurable death or find yourself catching your breath at the point of systolic syncopation with Voigt’s inhale/exhale dynamics.
To be clear, the formula of etheric de/composition remains the same; there’s no studio skits or sidesteps into Ed Sheeraned polkapop (free ideas for the future right there, Wolfgang) - but the production and dense sense of tension is taken even further into that unique soundworld. The kicks remain as deep as your pulsatile tinnitus heard thru the pillow at night, whilst the strings are diaphanous and intangibly convective; slowly but surely directing the listener to a highly desirable state of delirium; along a spiralling Escher’s staircase to a beautiful nowhere.
It’s perhaps arbitrary to give a run thru of all the tracks because, as anyone who has immersed themselves in GAS will tell you, it’s quite likely that consciousness isn’t an option by the end of the recording, with the final tracks of his albums tending to be received by osmosis from behind closed eyelids. But, in case you have the concentration span of a long haul trucker or a tolerance for beta blockers, you’ll be well attuned to its valerian gauze and durational thrum, which picks us up at the very Leyland Kirby/The Caretaker-esque Narkopop 1, and carries thru distinct highlights in the breathtaking symphonic smudge of Narkopop 4, and the windswept aeolian harp shiver laced into Narkopop 6 before delivering us at the feet of a towering, cloud-shrouded holy mountain which gradually reveals its peak in Narkopop 10.
20 years on, it's still a sound that no one has managed to better, despite countless imitations.
For reasons that will become lysergically clear once you’ve heard the samples, Midori Takada's sublime debut album Through The Looking Glass  is widely regarded the holy grail of ‘80s Japanese ambient & minimalist music. Perhaps it’s no wonder that 2nd hand copies are known to trade for over £600, and, therefore this deluxe reissue is welcomed by a whole new generation of listeners tracing this enchanted sound back to source.
Rooted in Midori Takada's fascination with Asian and African percussion traditions, Through The Looking Glass documents the Japanese musician navigating syncretic channels of practice between floating fantasy kingdoms and parallel ambient dimensions whilst guided by a deeply ethereal, oneiric spirit that’s utterly key to the album’s appeal. While it broadly falls under the ambient banner, the results are far too grand and ambitious to be considered sonic wallpaper - they’re more like widescreen tableaus that open out exponentially the deeper in you dive.
The image of a Lady Godiva-like character riding a hare-sheep-horse chimera on the cover symbolises the surreal confluence of ideas and gestures within; a Japanese musician translating Victorian psychedelic fantasies into a language of rippling rhythmelodies and softly pealing harmonics that nod to Pygmy music as much as gamelan traditions, the soundtracks of Cocteau films and precise marimba patter.
The rest, we’ll leave for your dilated discovery. Take it on trust that this is especially spellbinding and sui generis stuff without complete comparison. A dream.
JSMË catch Nina at her most viscous and unsettling with Uvijek; a strong new addition to the Golden Püdel resident’s illustrious streak of mixtapes including numbers for BEB’s Krokodilo Tapes and Id Mud series, and V I S - the Hamburg-based label she runs with Good News.
A descent into psychoactive darkness or an elevation of exploratory sound practice, depending on your perspective, Uvijek finds Nina defying any easy grasp of putative drone and concrète dichotomies by keeping everything in a constant liminal flux or state of mental mulch.
She spends the first 45 minutes dredging up sounds lesser heard (and even harder identified) into a reverberating, shapeless organism urged by a thrumming systolic pulse up to the mid-way point, when fractured breaks and rusty, shivering percussion begin to infiltrate its sound sphere, joined by fetid black metal and choked-up north american industrial tones which pinch on the nerves like imagined crack bugs swarming on their next puss filled meal, then proceeding to infect and inflame the senses with metastasising certainty.
If there was any doubt as to Nina’s indomitable skill as a selector and silent narrator of thee grimmest mixtape odysseys, this one will tuck you in, pat you on the brow, and then make sure the leather ankle and wrist straps are firmly locked in place. And you’re in for a sound night…
Paul Woolford dons his Special Request mantle once again for a six-track suite on the fabric-run label that expands the project’s remit into electro and ambient flavours – Whities talent Minor Science rips it on the remix.
After an extended period exorcising his tech-house demons at the behest of Hotflush, Paul Woolford seems to have decided 2017 is the time to properly revisit his Special Request project. Comprised of the Special Request originals from his recent ‘fabriclive 91’ mix, ‘Stairfoot Lane Bunker’ offers a much more conclusive exploration of the Special Request DNA than 2013’s Houndstooth LP ‘Soul Music.’
Kicking out with some Kraftwerk-meets Mix Mup-style speak-n-spell electro of Redrum, PW then pulls the ‘ardcore junglist spirit central to Special Request in some interesting directions. The title cut lays on rich swathes of orchestrated ambience which get rudely interrupted by an assemblage of spangled amens and sproinging sub bass. Woolford’s skilled rhythmic edits come to the fore on the dizzying jungle patterns he draws on Replicant, replete with obligatory Bladerunner sample!
Elsewhere, both Telepathic Dog and Five Lane Ends transpose you into the realm of crumbling ambient vistas, the former’s brief fizzing static backdrop occasionally punctuated by Woolford going mad with some lasers whilst the latter is like some weightless edit from Star Wars. Minor Science aka RA critic Gus Finlayson rounds out the record with a remix of Stairfoot Lane Bunker whose hyper specific drum edits and tongue-in-cheek touches are reminiscent of Luke Vibert’s Amen Andrews stuff.
Mika Vainio measures out one of his finest releases to date, bar none, in the staggering 'Kilo' for Blast First Petite.
With a barely tamed sense of aggression, it more or less finds the perfect crux point between our office favourite, the beats-driven 'Oleva' (2008) under his Ø alias, and the granite hewn and bloodied metal excursion, 'Life (…It Eats You Up)' (2011), shaping ten tracks of a vivid and viscerally affective aesthetic whose themes of mass, dynamic and tone are succinctly reflected in context of his shipping-themed track titles, and surely implied by its frighteningly physical presence. It feels very much like one man taking control of his daemons, strengthening his whip hand and honing his ability to deliver deadly force where it matters, making every pause between the beats count with breathtaking efficiency.
Each ductile synth snarl, thunder-strike riff and bouldering drum occurs with space docking precision. From the midnight drop of 'Cargo', his 'Cranes' and 'Load' toil pendulous beats big as a troll's clackers, and 'Docks' places us out in the cold, waiting for the fog horn synth to deliver payload. 'Sub Atlantic' is the incredibly scary centrepiece, imagining the paranoia of listing in the hull of a sinking vessel far from shore, and 'Rust' is maybe the resultant decay manifested as pure power electronics.
For sonic thrills, the lungful oscillator decompressions and pensile Bonham bosh of 'Wreck' make for grave highlights, whilst the slow, purposeful navigation of 'Freight' and the beatless, brobdingnagian mass of 'Weight' appropriately evoke imagery of supertankers carving down narrow, manmade canals and gauging docking depths in the midst of man-eating storms.
'Mulatu Steps Ahead' features nine examples of Astatke's ongoing fusions of Western jazz and more traditional Ethiopian modes, progressing a sound he's investigated since the '60s/'70s with vintage albums recently reissued for Buda Musique's Ethiopiques series.
Tracks for the set were recorded with the Either/Orchestra in Boston and also feature contributions from traditional Ethiopian musicians and members of the Heliocentrics. The scale and breadth of the operation gives this album a brilliant depth, from the meandering and cinematic opener 'Radcliffe' to the jazz-meets-Highlife of 'Assosa' featuring the Koras of the Assosa tribe of North-Western Ethiopia, giving a brilliant versatility and variety.
With 'I Faram Gami I Faram' and 'Boogaloo' he revisits some classic compositions with freshly embellished scores and proves why the recent attention surrounding him is so well warranted. In the honoured traditions of jazz and African music, Mulatu has composed a timelessly fresh yet mature group of grooves made to be enjoyed by listeners of all ages.
Ryan Carlile and Spencer Doran traverse the outer reaches on this killer Visible Cloaks document for RVNG.
We just knew last year's debut Visible Cloaks offering for RVNG, the Miyako Koda-featuring Visible Cloaks single Valve, would be the prelude to something greater from Ryan Carlile and Spencer Doran. Reassemblage marks the Portland pair's second album and further expands upon the Visible Cloaks 'verse, calling on Motion Graphics and Root Strata alum Matt Carlson for assistance.
Inspiration for the album stems from a video essay of the same name by Trin T Minha-ha, which explored the impossibility of ascribing meaning to ethnographic images. With this in mind, Visible Cloaks set about transposing the inherent futurism of acts discovered on their inspirational Fairlights, Mallets and Bamboo mixes well into the 21st Century through modern sound design.
This results in an album whose eleven tracks possess a startlingly lucid and vibrant vision, forming new structures and ideas in the process. The aforementioned Valve features early in Reassemblage, Miyako Koda's presence gaining even more meaning within the context of Carlile and Doran's intentions for the album.
Elsewhere, vocals are deployed with a more abstract bent, VC playfully skewering Matt Carlson's voice through digital manipulation on Neume for one of the album's forays through musique plastique. Circles offers a genuinely spine-tingling moment of modern classical, whilst Motion Graphics follows his avant-jazz Future Times gripper with some illuminating assistance on the digital tranquility of Bloodstream.
Wonderful stuff all round.
At long last we get our mitts on this mad one from Lil Ugly Mane, originally rolled out in 2012 on cassette thru Ormolycka - the same label behind Death Grips’ Exmilitary and those Pyongyang Hardcore Resistance tapes - and now in x-amounta repress editions from Italy’s excellent Hundebiss because it’s a bit of a banger.
It’s a skewed, psychoactive take on Memphis rap and narcotic screw styles, extra heavy on the bass and with menacing delivery; nowt too clever, just raw-to-the-bone and with its nose to the road, tipping high on the play-it-again-and-again scale.
Boris Bunnik lights up his Transcendent label with four classically skooled, forward-rolling electro-techno torpedoes taking in the sonar bleep pulses and sloshing groove of Transition, a cavernous and anxious jacker named Introspection, and more warped, distorted electro disturbances in Between The Mirrors.