DJ Sprinkles' classic Midtown 120 Blues, self-released by Terre Thaemlitz through their Comatonse imprint and finally available again.
Bringing deep house back into contact with its club culture roots, Terre Thaemlitz created one of the most essential house albums of the last two decades with 'Midtown 120 Blues'. Terre was originally working as a DJ under her Sprinkles alias in the gay clubs of midtown Manhattan and New Jersey in the late 80's when deep house began to blossom. It's this early period of House history which Terre has beautifully recreated over 10 tracks, making a pointed comment with the intro track taking shots at Strictly Rhythm for becoming 'Strictly Vocal' and pulling no punches towards "Most Europeans who think deep house means shitty hi-NRG vocal house".
With the intentions made clear, Terre develops a masterpiece of serene melancholy and sublime deep house crafted with the skill and dedication of someone who you know lived this music through every fibre of their being. From the rich subbass driven tones of 'Midtown 120 Blues' with plaintive pianos slowly encircling one another, to drag queen monologues over the deepest ambient brushed rhythms on 'Ball'r (Madonna-Free Zone)' or head-meltingly warm chords and caressed percussion of 'Brenda's $20 dilemna' - this will suck in and swallow you whole - transporting you to another place, another time.
A total pleasure.
please remember that we support Terre and Comatonse Recordings' efforts to keep projects offline, minor, and acting queerly. When purchasing this item, we ask you to refrain from uploading and indiscriminate sharing in any form. <3
Queer deep house pioneer Terre Thaemlitz hustles her entire DJ Sprinkles solo catalogue beyond the seminal ‘Midtown 120 Blues’ album in a crucial 19-track set of NYC-via-Tokyo gold, including many tracks popping their digital cherries for the first time.
‘Gayest Tits & Greyest Shits: 1998-2017 12-inches & One-offs’ sums up twenty years of action deep in the bowels of house with a precious suite drawing from rare and hard-to-find pearls scattered between the late ‘90s and end of the last decade. They span the specificities of a sound rooted in the gay scene of NYC from the late ‘80s onward, testifying to the minimalist, bass-heavy style that Sprinkles played at DJ residencies in transsexual clubs and would later take to Tokyo after moving there at turn of the millennium. For our money they’re some of the strongest, most distinctive deep house cuts of our time, holding true to the fundamentals of a style that would become mistranslated, misunderstood, and coopted by successive waves of deep house dilettantes.
Newly collected and presented in tandem with the ‘Midtown 120 Blues’ reissue, the 19 heavyweight club grooves still kill the old way, focussing on proper jackers drums and sphincter-tickle levels of subbass sparingly ornamented with samples in purist integrations of function and politics that don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. From the earliest Sprinkles cuts in ’Sloppy 42nds’ (1998), a tribute to the 42nd St. transsexual clubs destroyed by Walt Disney’s buyout of Times Square, and 2001’s ruddy nods to that classic Adonis motif in ‘Bassline.89’, thru to proper red-lit basement pressure in ‘Glorimar’s Whore House’, puckered darkroom suss in ‘Kissing Costs Extra’ or ‘Masturjakor’, and up to the heart-punching 10min+ reworks of his Terre Thaemlitz material, it’s a totally unmissable set for proper house heads and far beyond. It’s a document of phase-shifting times helmed by one of the most interesting and important artists of our age.
Please remember that we support Terre and Comatonse Recordings' efforts to keep projects offline, minor, and acting queerly. When purchasing this item, we ask you to refrain from uploading and indiscriminate sharing in any form. <3
Emerging from the chaos and destruction of post-gentrification NYC, "How the Garden Grows" is a jagged, angry record that bricks YVETTE's gloomy industrial pop into a desolate tower block basement.
Recorded in 2016 in fits and starts, "How the Garden Grows" documents not only a changing New York City but also the demise of YVETTE as a duo. The band was initially formed by Noah Kardos-Fein and drummer Rick Daniel in 2012, but as this album was being recorded, Daniel departed, leaving Kardos-Fein to carry on the project on his own. This event is documented on the album's woozy ambient outro, where you can hear Daniel open the studio door and leave.
The rest of the record was put together with both musicians and strikes a more familiar tone, with Daniel's propulsive rhythms giving a tuff edge to Kardos-Fein's reverberating chants and zippy electronics. It's cold, unusual material that sometimes sounds like a poppier take on Lightning Bolt's daring power duo noise and Animal Collective's ritualistic post-Beach Boys chants.
'Mirror Views' is a substantial minimalist tome from LA-based composer Byron Westbrook. Taking cues from Maryanne Amacher and Luc Ferrari, Westbrook sidesteps the cosmic synth shimmer of this year's 'Distortion Hue' and moves into long-form deep listening territory, using tape-dubbed field recordings, white noise and disorientating drones.
Clocking in at a hefty 72-minutes, 'Mirror Views' is not for the faint of heart. It's a departure for Westbrook, not necessarily for his practice - those that have seen him perform will have no doubt experienced this aspect of his work before. For our money it also might just be his most convincing album to date, a collection of delicate, careful field recordings and subtle tonal elements that places Westbrook solidly alongside his heroes and the greats of the genre.
It's a fully immersive work, not just in its duration but in the absorbing character of the sounds he creates and the narrative it inspires. The piece 'Mirror View' itself is split into three distinct sections, and the first develops over 20 minutes from marshy field recordings that dwell on barely-audible sloshing and insects' rhythmic chirps. Slowly, Westbrook introduces indistinct voices and feedback tones that transform a natural world into an unsettling alien landscape.
The shorter second part offsets these tones with white noise that mutates into crashing waves, but it's Westbrook's careful editing that pushes the track into transcendence. At times it's not completely obvious what he's doing, if anything, but focus your listening and you can just about make up the tiny shifts in noise and texture that create distinct rhythms and disorientating hallucinatory effects.
On the final piece, Westbrook turns up the gain a little further, conducting an orchestra of fine tones that act as a warm, harmonic finale before the environmental recordings return for one last coda. It's masterful deep listening material that displays the possibility for experimentation within the wider field recording spectrum - we urge you to check in.
German renaissance man Niklas Wandt digs his way thru psychedelic, jazz, world, funk and kraut moods on "Solar Musli", arriving on a hectic, borderless sound that refuses to stand still for a moment. Imagine Sun Ra jamming with "On the Corner"-era Miles, Florian Schneider and Felix Kubin.
A drummer, producer and DJ, Wandt has presented WDR 3's Jazz & World program for years, DJing in Düsseldorf's Salon des Amateurs and recording with bands such as Oracles and Stabil Elite and working on synth pop as Neuzeitliche Bodenbeläge. "Solar Müsli" is his most chaotic solo record yet, an album that attempts to flatten his life of wild, diverse influences and unpick a musical puzzle.
It's a thrill ride, veering from quirky, psychedelic free poetry ('Der gläserne Tag') to sprawling, percussive funk ('Lo Spettro'), unhinged free-jazz kraut-pop ('Küsnacht') and quirky early electronic experimentation ('Solar Müsli'). It's best looked at as the work of a particularly limber DJ - Wandt writes and plays like he's mixing with four un-synced decks, wandering thru rhythm, structure and genre like an intrepid explorer.
A surreal and carnivalesque lost French classique that's somewhere between Cocteau Twins, Nuno Canavarro and Leila, "Chaleur Humaine" originally emerged in 1992, the debut release of sibling duo Danielle and Didier Jean. Anyone into hypnagogic pop, fractured new age experiments or '80s FM synth soundtracks needs to hear this jaw-dislocating Rosetta stone.
UMAN's music spidered out thru various new age and global sounds compilations in the 1990s, but at this point the fwd-thinking duo are mostly forgotten, and in need of re-appraisal. After three decades, "Chaleur Humaine" sounds almost prophetic in its use of sounds, establishing a mood that's as dreamy and pristine as Enya's canonized run, as prismatically awkward as Portland MIDI fanatics Visible Cloaks and as chilling and evocative as Richard Band's schlock horror soundtracks.
UMAN teeter between identifiable pop forms ('UMAN Spirit', 'Entrelacs') and more challenging expressions that draw on experimental and new age concepts, like the lilting 'Mémoire Vive' and Badalamenti-esque 'Aubade'. It's an album that's jam-packed with gorgeous sounds, but seems to refresh itself with each track, skating close to plasticky exotica but never drifting into parody. Looking at it now, it feels as if it translates and pre-empts the shift from DIY rawk and folk sounds into hypnagogic pop and synth modes in the mid-'00s.
The recent obsession with neo-new age forms has resulted in some avoidable lost idols, but 'Chaleur Humaine' is a serious treasure trove of ideas and raw expression that bottles the chaotic analog-to-digital era with no small amount of panache. Anyone who's enjoyed Belgian node STROOM's extraordinary stretch of quirky electro-plated lounge-pop treasures won't wanna miss this.
Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, producer, and songwriter Jordan Rakei is back with his fourth studio album, ‘What We Call Life’, released via Ninja Tune.
"‘What We Call Life’ is Jordan Rakei’s most vulnerable and intimate album to date. Its lyrics concern the lessons that the New Zealand-born, Australia-raised, and London-based artist learned about himself during therapy, a journey that began two years ago when he started reading about the ‘positive psychology’ movement. These themes manifest on songs like lead single “Family”, which Rakei says is “the most personal” he’s ever been with his lyrics. “I wanted to hit my vulnerability barrier and be really honest. It’s about my parents’ divorce in my mid-teens but still having love for them no matter what,” he explains.
On ‘What We Call Life’ Rakei dives deeper into his sound world, merging electronic with acoustic, and rugged grooves with ambient atmospheres, to create something richer, more detailed, and more textural than before. Rakei, already a practitioner of meditation and mindfulness, was curious about the potential of using therapy for further self-discovery. During the process, he began to learn more about his behaviour patterns and anxieties, and addressed his long-standing irrational phobia of birds – a fear often associated with the unpredictable and the unknown, and something explored in the album’s creative direction and visuals. “As we worked through it, it made me realise I would love to talk about the different lessons I learned from therapy in my music: about my early childhood, my relationship with my parents and siblings, becoming independent in London, being in a new marriage, understanding how my marriage compares to the relationship my parents had”, Rakei says."
HTRK mint their new label with a perfectly formed 5th studio album - in our opinion a career best - finding the duo stripped to a quietly cathartic, windswept arrangement of bare vocals rent with spectral webs of guitar and synth in a modern, classic, wholly inimitable style that will lodge itself deep in your heart. AOTY gear especially recommended if yr into anything from Dean Blunt to Mark Hollis, Gillian Welch to Slowdive.
Recorded in their native Dandenong Ranges, Australia earlier this year, ‘Rhinestones' contains some of HTRK's most aching/gratifying songwriting secreted in subtly plangent sheets of dubbed guitar, synth pads and crackling 808s that foge a sort of quasi-Americana that feels both intimately familiar and entirely new. It’s an album that seems to have been precision-tooled for tortured romantics and atomised souls, reverberating with a gentle pathos that’s therapeutic to succumb to.
The metaphysical soul of their songcraft somehow bleeds out more clearly than ever, infusing every song from the heartbreak pucker of ‘Kiss Kiss and Rhinestones’ to the intoxicating, spirit-catcher sway of ‘Gilbert and George’ with the tumescent glow of MDMA-tingled flesh and the uncanniest air of déjà vu. All nine songs land with a level of sound sensitivity that reveals every shimmering string, pad and echoic snare contrail like a halo around Jonnine’s voice, which regales tales of love, friendship and the mysteries of the night with an observant, diaristic directness that has a devastating emotive clout.
In key with the times, the songs feel like the soundtrack to emptied cities, casting gothic shadows in the spellbinding reverbs of ‘Valentina’ and mottled beauty of ’Siren Song,’ with the fragged ketrock of ‘Fast Friend’ imagining a séance with Prince and Anna Domino, while Conrad Standish (CS + Kreme) lends bass guitar gilding to the empty saloon sashay of ‘Real Headfuck,’ and ’Straight To Hell’ basks in a transition between the golden and crepuscular hours. Oh - and 'Sunlight Feels like Bee Stings’ - what a title?!
For real, no other band do it quite like HTRK, and ‘Rhinestones’ feels like their purest iteration, conjured in a mist of feeling, love and inebriation.
Patience is a virtue that Chilean guitarist Cristian Alvear beautifully understands and commands in his reading of Jürg Frey’s quietly demanding 2016 work for Another Timbre
With an opener counting just 8 (if we’re not mistaken) solitary notes spaced across 2 minutes, ‘guitarist, alone’ clearly sets its stall from the outset. As with its conceptual forebear, Frey’s ‘Pianist, Alone’, the 53 track double album typically follows in the footsteps of Frey’s 25 years of composition with a license to luxuriate in lacunæ and take the notion of minimalism to its rarified extremes.
Operating at a geologic scale of events, the results are beautifully contemplative on a number of levels; fundamentally offering the listener acres of room for meditation, but rather than anything Buddhist zen-like, where one is encouraged to think of nowt, the music suggests its recipient follow its lingering cadence, and ponder the relationship between the notes and moods they evoke, which may well lead to unusual patterns of thought.
Aye, we’re not going to go thru the whole thing with you, but we can tell say it’s a beautifully sanguine experience that requires a level of quiet time and space - both increasingly rare commodities for many of us - to really get into it, but you have those to spare, then it’s a real pleasure to let yourself wander its warm, still midnight garden.
On their opulent first outing since 2015, the MVO Trio embrace negative space and dematerialised jazz dynamics for a sterling debut with Modern Recordings (Pat Metheny, Craig Armstrong, Hendrik Weber) and a new lineup that now includes Laurel Halo and German jazz drummer Heinrich Köbberling. V highly tipped if yr into Carl Craig's Innerzone Orchestra or Move D's Conjoint.
Typically rooted in extended, improvised jams, the lissom and grooving results were teased into their final form by Moritz at the mixing desk, where he imbues the playing with an effervescent spatial nuance and deftly spotlights its ear-catching peculiarities as the trio naturlly explore and inhabit the interstices of rolling Afrobeat structures, modal Detroit jazz/beatdown, and airy ECM minimalism.
Picking up in the ether where ‘Sounding Lines’ left off in 2015, the deep presence of erstwhile trio member Tony Allen (RIP) is adroitly channelled by Köbberling’s shuffling stick work, and decorated with blushing organ chords and vibes laid down by Moritz, who finds an ideal foil in Laurel Halo’s electronic gilding. In unison they hold a sublime tension that’s driving but floating, placid yet thizzing with cool energy as they cycle thru harmonically sonorous permutations of a dubwise jazz techno.
From the pointillistic percussion and vapours of the opener, the set arcs low and wide from passages of spiralling organ to swingeing depths, coalescing at the mid-way point with a proper jazz techno vibe recalling Moritz’s early works with Juan Atkins, and traveling to almost 4Hero-esque hi-tech jazz abstraction and back into the pocket with natty rhythms that resolve into proper, heads-up techno.
Another Timbre finally realise their long-held ambition of putting together new recordings of John Cage’s Number Pieces, here performed by Apartment House who shine a light on Cage’s late period “reconciliation with harmony” on a staggering set of recordings that span over 5 hours in length and which will likely upend everything you thought you knew about the late, great composer's legacy. In other words; it’s a highly immersive, quiet and meditative entry-point to his vast catalogue that comes very highly recommended to old guard and complete newcomers alike - a mind/soul expanding session awaits you.
The Number Pieces were written by Cage during the final five years of his life, 1987-1992, and are widely regarded the most broadly appealing of his vast oeuvre - despite few of them having been performed over the past couple of decades. The starting point for the pieces is typical of Cage’s chance procedures - they don’t have a set time signature, bar lines or a conductor, and the musicians performing can decide when and how loud or soft to play each note, making each and every performance of a number piece unique. As the recordings took place during lockdown between August 2020 and May 2021, many of the individual parts were recorded separately and edited in in post-production, presenting a far from ideal, yet intriguing additional dimension to these performances.
Titled for the number of players (i.e. Five) and their position in the series of compositions (i.e. Five²), each piece accords to a score composed using Cage’s time bracket technique; short fragments which indicate performers play what is often just a single note, and for a mix of fixed and flexible durations. Some were composed for non-Western instruments, but this set focusses on works for traditional instruments, deploying a range from Accordion to Xylophone in myriad configurations.
The set is broadly centred around variations to one of Cage’s earliest number pieces ‘Five’, variations of which account for half of the set, and range from relatively succinct, gorgeous interpretations to a 40 minute rendering of its trombone and string quartet version ‘Five³’. Most striking to us, however, is the remarkably cavernous, abstract space explored in their take on ‘Fourteen’ and also ‘Seven²’, both demanding percussionists use “any very resonant instruments”, while the brief, Gamelan-esque ’Six’ also points to Cage’s fascinations with Far eastern traditions. The hour long ‘Eight’ for wind is also striking for the way Apartment House slowly comprehend its complexities (more than 80 time brackets per part) across its considerable arcing breath.
In effect, the Number Pieces reveal Cage’s return to ideas of harmony after ostensibly finding ways around it ever since his studies under serialist Arnold Schoenberg in the ‘30s. They are perhaps the most beautifully ponderous manifestation of his work with chance operations, or use of the I-Ching as compositional tool, and the soundest reflection of his notion that a harmony exists in everything, if one’s to acknowledge the possibilities that lie beyond the restrictions of classical convention - the rest of the world, the un/known cosmos, and everything between. For the Cage curious and acolytes alike, Apartment House and Another Timbre have here managed to frame Cage in an unexpected light, presenting us with an unmissable entry portal to his most rarified realisation of cosmic chaos.
New music specialists Apartment House render the tremulous glory and ceaseless drive of Eastman’s 1974 classic on their captivating 2019 recording
Following Frozen Reeds’ 2016 release of S.E.M. Ensemble’s 1974 take, and preceding the more recent iteration by Belgium’s ensemble 0 & Aum Grand Ensemble; Apartment House’s ‘Femenine’ is one of the first modern performances and recordings of the seminal, but long overlooked slice of c.20th avant-classical genius. It lands in the wake of Mary Jane Leach’s concerted and longstanding work in tending to Eastman’s legacy, holding some of the most remarkable classical compositions of its epoch, which has necessarily renewed interest in Eastman's sorely overlooked, yet hugely distinctive, work.
As a gay, black composer in a field dominated by white men, Julius Eastman shattered conventions merely by his presence, and his music was daring and distinctive, offering a more fluidly unified and singularly thizzing adjunct to the kind of repetitious minimalism explored by downtown NYC composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Eastman was just as adept at working with Arthur Russell on Dinosaur L’s landmark ‘24→24 Music’ and ‘Another Thought’ set as he was working on Peter Maxwell Davies’ monodrama ‘Eight Songs for a Mad King’ or Meredith Monk’s ‘Dolmen Music’ - all revered in their sphere - yet his own, remarkable compositions went practically unnoticed for decades and he ultimately ended up destitute and unsng, living on the streets of Buffalo, New York State.
Only in recent years has ’Femenine’ become recognised for the towering piece of work that it is, and this recording by Anton Lukoszevieze’s Apartment House helps spread the good word. It renders the full piece in all its colourful majesty, driven by insistent sleigh bell percussion and coursing with the purpose of a great river from streams of cello, flute, keys, vibraphone and violin that entwine and lushly gather with a ravishing torrent of ecstasy by the end of its 67’ flow. In effect it does away with notions of beginning/middle/end in a more cyclical, endless form and style that takes on Reich’s African inspirations at a more fundamental level, yet hasn’t been afforded the same sort of critical ear until only relatively recently. Trust Apartment House to handle the material faithfully and with the hypnotic traction we imagine Eastman intended.
South Korean-born, LA-based producer, rapper and singer Park Hye Jin impressed with her "How Can I" EP and Clams Casino, Blood Orange and Nosaj Thing collaborations. "Before I Die" is a mixtape-like effort that combines disparate flavors of hip-hop and dance with sunny K-pop vocals and riffs.
'Before I Die' attempts a lot, but struggles to escape its cascade of influences. Park Hye Jin sounds most comfortable when she works in a house mode. Opening track 'Let's Sing Let's Dance' is the album's most successful track, her voice is assured whether singing or offering deadpan phrases and the production is propulsive and effective. But when she veers into overworked rap subgenres ('Before I Die', 'Where Did I Go') it gets a bit murkier.
It's not all bad news: 'Good Morning Good Night' is a blissful downtempo cut, and 'Can I Get Your Number' interpolates LA's short-lived jerkin' sound in a respectful way. But "Before I Die" is just too disjointed to fully lean into.
Jim O’Rourke pushes Apartment House to test their limits via an open-ended score for string trio requiring the players to whistle and sing wordlessly, with absorbing, minimalist results.
Commissioned by Anton Lukoszevieze of Apartment House, who also perform the work with exacting patience and nuance, ‘Best that you do this for me’ is a 50 minute work for string trio (featuring Lukoszevieze alongside Mira Benjamin and Bridget Carey) that also requires the performers to work out of their comfort zones, with additional instructions for them to whistle and sing, as well as play their instruments (violin, viola, cello.) The piece was originally performed in a 15 minute iteration for the BBC, but in this new expanded version its wider scope leads the players to unpredictable harmonic junctures as they work their way around its cyclical indications, overlapping into achingly mournful and sighing cadences with a glacially time-slipping quality.
O’Rourke was inspired to incorporate whistling and singing into the piece after re-listening to a few choral works by Martin Smolka, and was struck by how this relatively simple and always “on hand” instrument is rarely used. In the context of highly skilled instrumentalists such as Apartment House, the simple gesture of whistling and singing becomes a radical one, encouraging the trio to offset and balance their skills and intuition in a sometimes unnerving way that lends the work a beautifully uncertain character, unfurling like an archipelago of islands illuminated by moonlight and punctuated with gulfs of dark, pregnant silence.
10 years since his debut, Container holds his line of bolshy, distorted machine rhythms for Alter.
Bringing his studio recordings closer than ever to the sound of his cultishly praised live shows, ‘Scramblers’ is as much mucky fun as the nippy motorbikes it’s named after. With the possible addition of some new software or bit of kit that gives this record a really nasty edge, he tears out between the evil revs of the title cut hacking up pure electro-punk havoc with ‘Nozzle’ and jabs like Rian Treanor on PCP with ‘Mottle’ and ‘Queaser’, with he spring-loaded rage of ‘Haircut’ and the scum bucket razz of ‘Duster’ there to clean any meat left on your dancing bones.
‘Morton Feldman Piano’ is a major 5CD collection of virtually all of Feldman’s music for piano, performed by Philip Thomas with a tactility befitting of this extraordinary, quiet, intimate music. It’s the most extensive survey of Feldman’s piano music since John Tilbury’s long unavailable 4-CD set was released 20 years ago, including several pieces which weren’t included there, and three works which have never been released on disc before at all.
Feldman was part of a radical group of experimenters, alongside the likes of John Cage, Christian Wolff and Earle Brown, who looked beyond the strictures of serialism to innovative with and embrace aspects of chance and “indeterminacy” in their compositions. Most often associated with the piano, Feldman is perhaps best known for his perceptively time-slowing later works, but this boxset presents the widest angle possible on his approach to the piano, spanning surprisingly cranky recordings from the 1940s thru to the exquisite delicacy of his acclaimed ‘Triadic Memories’ and ultimately ‘Palais de Mari’ in 1986. Feldman died in 1987, leaving behind a remarkable catalogue that has previously been tackled by John Tilbury in the 4CD set ‘All Piano’ (1999), which is now long out of print and trades for triple figures on the 2nd hand market, making this boxset of Philip Thomas’ Feldman interpretations an even more indispensable collection.
Accompanied by pianist Philip Thomas’ lucubrate and extensive book of notes on Feldman’s music, its development, unique notation, and his close personal relationship with it, ‘Morton Feldman Piano’ methodically and artfully unpackages the great composer’s often forbiddingly vast oeuvre for anyone looking for a way in or seeking to enrich their knowledge of his life and work. In great depth, Thomas writes about Feldman’s holistic approach, recognising the connection between ears, mind, and fingertips which resulted in the music’s quietly extreme dynamic, and which singularly revolutionised historic approaches to the instrument thru the artist’s attempt at refusing attack in the notes - essentially a near-impossible idea when considering that the piano is a percussive instrument, and needs to be hit to be played. The sensitivity of the results are quite astonishing, and most beautifully executed and evidenced in Thomas’ playing throughout all 31 pieces included.
While the later works will be well known to even the casual Feldman follower, and are sure to entrance newcomers, his early and mid-period works between the late ‘40s and into the ‘60s provide a fascinating grounding for his sound and style, ranging from a solemnly inquisitive ‘Untitled piano piece’ (1942) to the almost jazzy flourishes of ‘Illusions’ (1949), thru to his increasingly sparser ‘Music for the film ‘Sculpture by Lipton’’ (1954), and up to the barely there ‘Piano Piece’ (1964) before he took a 13 year hiatus from writing for solo piano (although he would still write parts for piano in larger ensembles), only returning to it with ‘Piano’ (1977).
Yet for all the technicality and philosophy surrounding Feldman’s compositional process, it remains to be said that his music is strikingly easy on the ear. With a little focus and patience in the right mindset, Feldman’s music has the capacity to lead the thinking mind into unusual places, and as his catalogue proceeds, it becomes an increasing pleasure to find the notes flickering, illuminating contrasts with the shadows of his lacunae.
Chock full of humid, resonant soundscapes that bend time and emphasize texture, tone and timbre, Sarah Davachi's latest is her most defining and rewarding full-length to date. We're floored, again - there's nobody else doing it quite like this.
Composed using a Mellotron, electric organ, piano and synthesizers, "Antiphonals" takes all the elements we know and love from Davachi's impressive catalogue to date and refines them into eight tracks of expertly-sculpted deep listening stickiness. If you're familiar with her work, the content won't be surprising, but Davachi's dedication to her craft has resulted in music that feels more and more revelatory each time.
Here, she brings her obsession with the tonal and textural character of early music to the fore, playing confidently with sounds that exist two or three steps from the contemporary sonic spectrum. Her favored outpost is a cocoon of soft-focus resonance, where sounds graze lightly and hypnotize rather than scrape or bruise. It's not background music - this is art that requires attention and understanding to appreciate its layered beauty and subtle complexity.
There are no real standouts or big moments, rather "Antiphonals" is a single long-running excerpt of Davachi's sonic thesis that plays continuously without a defined beginning or a defined end. It's a privilege to spend time in her world, listening to sacred music melt into prog rock and sensual, experimental drone into blurry neoclassical ambience. There are plenty of musicians who attempt to reach this jewelled nirvana, and precious few who get close - Davachi is currently sitting near the center. Breathtaking.
Low's thirteenth album is a brutally overdriven, but slow-as-fuck offering from a band who resolutely refuse to stay still. Unlike 2018's "Double Negative" it's not soft and hyper-electronic, "HEY WHAT" is distorted but achingly beautiful - like church songs banged thru a broken radio and blown speaker cones.
We gotta admit we were pretty surprised when we heard Low's last full-length. The band has always played with perceptions of their influential slowcore sound, but "Double Negative" was a death-defying drop into territory usually inhabited by artists like Andy Stott and Newworldaquarium. "HEY WHAT" subverts expectations again: Low stick with "Double Negative" producer BJ Burton but drive him to hone in on a completely separate aspect of their sound.
Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's dueling vocal harmonics are at the center of the album, spruced up by sparse sonic elements that sound so fucked they're almost completely unrecognizable. Is it guitar, drums, synth? It's hard to tell as chaotic, fractured sounds buzz and break off beneath Parker and Sparhawk's melancholy chorals. Opener 'White Horses' sets the stage, with mic hiss and axe fuzz slowly breaking into stuttering ear-bending electronics.
It's music that feels dangerously experimental, but never loses the magic of Low's idiosyncratic songwriting in the lead clouds of white noise, wobbling subs and ear-splitting fuzz. This time around Low have found a comfort zone making devotional music that forces itself thru our era's deafening cultural cacophony, finding a place of euphoric resonance. It's proof that a band can exist for nearly three decades and still find relevance in change, self-exploration and sonic rehabilitation.
Terre Thaemlitz digs deep into her archive for a dead strong 80 minute CD compilation of all her 'Neu Wuss Fusion’s' releases to date, including adjusted and tweaked versions of classics and hard-to-find gems dating back to ’93, including a remarkable liquid D&B cut and an utterly unmissable take on Tangerine Dream - exclusive to the set.
The overarching vibe here hits even deeper than the recent DJ Sprinkles 'Gayest Tits…' set, hovering between the edge of the floor and a late, late night flex instead of driving club pressure, with a focus on bustling breaks and spellbinding ambient jazz atmospheres.
The material here reaches back to the early ’90s, with the kick-less deep House shimmy of opener ‘Thirty Shades of Grey (Demo Version)’ harking back to their debut solo album ‘Tranquilizer’ (1994), and the ambient jazz house lather of ’Sloppy 42s’ connecting to 1999’s ‘Love For Sale’ album, both elegantly edited here, and shuffled up next to both sides of 1998’s ’She’s Hard,’ in its glorious ambient-to-breakbeat mix and rousing ‘Live At Hug Parade’ take.
The set only gets stronger on its 2nd half. The original 11:30’ mix of ‘A Crippled Left Wing Soars with the Right’ makes a welcome first digital appearance beside a mix of its ‘Steal This Record’ edit omitting the ambient breakdown, while also highlighting its incredible, liquid D&B-like ‘1-Step Forward, 2-Step Back’ version - think Calibre meets MvO Trio - seriously - and, just to absolutely polish us off, they include an e-s-s-e-n-t-i-a-l cover of Tangerine Dream’s ‘Love On A Real Train,’ re-titled and remodelled as their orgasmic ‘Sex On A Real Train’ version alongside the 12 minutes of lush, pastoral flutes and subbass in ‘She’s Hard (2007 Archive of Silence Mix.)
Utterly essential, once again.
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Arvo Pärt has become something of a yardstick by which so much contemporary classical music has been measured, and 'Alina' is arguably his most understated and beautiful piece of work.
Für Alina was first performed in Tallinn in 1976, and has become one of Pärt’s most-loved and widely appreciated works - regarded by many as an early, defining example of his signature tintinnabuli style. In the years since its release, Pärt has become the most performed living composer in the world, his approach to religious music seeping deep into our cultural landscape, from the avant garde to the mainstream.
Rendered with nothing more than piano and violin, this definitive ECM version from 1999 features Vladimir Spivakov, Sergej Bezrodny, Dietmar Schwalke and Alexander Malter providing alternate versions, handpicked by Pärt himself from recordings that were originally several hours long. It’s a masterclass in simplicity; an almost painfully beautiful rendering of emotional landscapes that, in the wrong hands, could have (and has, on many occasions, by so many) turned to schmaltz.
For better or for worse, 'Spiegel Im Spiegel' and 'Fur Alina' have both come to be seen as blueprints for a specific strain of solo piano and classical minimalism designed to manipulate and heighten emotive states, as seen in so many films, adverts and idents. In that respect, one could argue that these pieces are indirectly responsible for numerous heavy-handed, emotionally empty, easy-on-the-ear abominations over the decades. And yet, if you listen carefully, Pärt's ability to distil so much emotion and spirituality into his work from so little is ultimately impossible to emulate; regardless of how many times you've heard them, these pieces never cease to transport you elsewhere.
If you're new to Arvo Pärt, Alina is perhaps the perfect entry point for exploring his monumental, peerless canon.
Mark & Moritz entrust their Basic Channel output to Pete and René (aka Substance & Vainqueur) who create a sort of immersive label mix featuring components from all 9 Basic Channel 12"s plus some choice cuts from Rhythm and Sound, remodeeled and reshaped in classic style.
The first cut employs fragments from Cyrus's 'Inversion', 'Mutism', 'Radiance III' and the Basic Channel reworking of Carl Craig's 'The Climax' - somewhere between mixing and remixing - and that's just the opening sequence. Flowing from first moment to last, it serves as a testimony to one of the most revered catalogues in all of electronic music - hugely enjoyable if you already know and love all contained within, and a good entry point for n000bs - if there are any left by this point.
Machinefabriek produces two contemporary dance scores for choreographer Yin Yue, released on Phantom Limb’s soundtrack label Geist im Kino.
"Machinefabriek - Rotterdam-based musician and designer Rutger Zuydervelt - describes his newest record Re:Moving (Music for Choreographies by Yin Yue) as “an album with a bittersweet taste.” The two pieces that make up the album were scheduled for dance performances ultimately cancelled by COVID, leaving Zuydervelt’s soundtracks, for all of their elegance, beauty and emotional gravity, without an audience. After lengthy conversation, Zuydervelt and NYC-based Yin Yue agreed that the music, even without the choreography that birthed it, deserves to be heard. And thus, accompanying the stunning artistry of the scores comes a reminder of the cruel realities of a world gripped by pandemic.
Even before commissioning Machinefabriek for original music, Yin Yue was a fan. She has used his work for performances and classes, drawing a clear thread between Zuydervelt’s advanced, unusual sonics and love of nonstandard rhythms with her own highly inventive choreography and acute understanding of bodily movement. After trading videos of choreographic sketches and “numerous Skype calls,” Yue and Zuydervelt eventually set out on their first collaborative project, A Measurable Existence, originally planned for premiere by New York’s Gibney Company in April 2020. The piece reflects the discovery of self by interaction with others - an unintentionally prescient irony given its lockdown-enforced cancellation. “It’s about parallel journeys that intersect, repel or collide.
The dance doesn’t shy away from drama, and the music doesn’t either,” Zuydervelt writes. His score begins with a staticky thunderstorm of synthesis, glitching rain drizzling around electrified stabs and cracks that eventually yield a pounding rhythm. “Gibney Company dancers Jesse Obremski and Jacob Thoman’s powerful performance is matched by a driving and cinematic soundtrack, resulting in a compelling immersive trip.” he tells us. The thunderstorm gives way to shimmering, yearning sunlight before turning again to darkness for a thumping middle section of scorched drums and brooding industrial simmer. The intensity eventually, finally, lets up for a warped VHS coda, all bleary and warbling with faded chords."
Matthew E. White’s first solo album in six years.
"K Bay is the astounding record he has forever aspired to make. A bold reclamation of independence and identity, K Bay establishes White as one of his era’s most imaginative artists. These 11 pieces are retro-futurist magic tricks that feel instantly classic and contemporary, the product of a musical mind that has internalized the lessons of his idols and used them to build a brilliant world of his own."
Colin Potter’s legendary ICR host the debut issue of powerful drone improvisations by London’s Jason Barton aka BArTc
Hand-picked and mastered by synth master Potter (NWW) for this release, the 13 tracks of ‘Insubstantial As Ghosts’ evidently share a realm of fascination with Potter’s own work. They are richly textured and immersive tracts of seemingly organically occurring electronics where its composer feels more like a fleshy medium for the circuit boards than the guy in charge of what’s happening.
In waves of thick, viscous tone he seamlessly consolidates raw synth sounds with field recordings, sometimes breaking off into unexpected pockets of inquiry, but more often helming to tunnelling vectors that drag its listeners into properly zonked head spaces with purpose and dread, perhaps best felt in the mighty traction of ‘Energy Field’ and the vertiginous dimensions and thousand yard stare dynamics of ‘Looking Into The Abyss’, recalling to our minds everythign from Potter’s work with Nurse WIth Wound to Giancarlo Toniutti’s grinding hypnagogia.
FUJI||||||||||TA's new album is a time-dilating soundtrack to butoh dancer Kentaro Kujirai's 'Gingan Arahabaki', and might just be his deepest work to date. Watery environmental recordings wash against resonant tones from the Japanese instrument builder's unique DIY pump organ = completely singular, evocative sound to file alongside your Kali Malone, BJ Nilsen and Davachis.
For “Gingan Arahabaki”, Kujirai looked to the life of his writer grandfather and painter father - who died only days after the show's premiere - to develop a performance rooted in memory and identity. Fujita responds by playing slow and careful drones with his custom-built pipe organ, mimicking the body's movement with glassy resonance and evocative tonal variations, overlaying more recognizable sounds to paint a time and place lost between history and perception.
Waves rumble and crash far in the distance on opening track 'Umi', growing closer and gaining clarity as the piece develops. It almost feels as if we're walking through a cave, greeted by the guttoral animal groans of Fujita's pipe organ. On 'Taki', Fujita plays with high-frequency tones like an inverse Sunn O))), and meets these with gentle koto plucks and strums, suggesting a fusion of Japan's past and present. Closing track 'Ibuki' returns to rumbling waves, but this time the organ sounds are harder to place, and eventually lost in the water.
'Arahabaki' is a poetic, theatrical work even without Kujirai's physical accompaniment; anyone who enjoyed last year's "Kōmori" or the artist's stunning run of Bandcamp drops should grab this immediately; it's the opposite of "power ambient" somehow - minimal, unashamedly beautiful drone pieces whose power lies in its context and gestural quality. It's an immersive, revitalizing listening experience.
Venerable minimalist Éliane Radigue continues her ‘Occam Ocean’ adventures at the threshold of perception on a third volume in collaboration with string trio Julia Eckhardt, Silvia Tarozzi and Deborah Walker
Performed and recorded in September, 2019 at the Abbazia di Santa Maria Assunta, Bologna, Italy, the 3rd volume of ‘Occam Ocean’ features the pioneering French composer’s radical thoughts on time, tone and timbre carefully manifest thru the trio’s fingers and strings in the model of preceding volumes, also for France’s Shiiin label. Incredibly patient in its sustained drones and incremental developments, the results return an experience that really only comes with Radigue’s work, among a few others, holding the ability to generate moments of revelatory epiphany from the subtlest alterations.
Where previous ‘Occam Ocean’ instalments fielded a mix of solo and duo works (Occam Ocean 1) and a broad orchestra (Occam Ocean 2), this one is perhaps most focussed in its triumvirate of works written for solo, duo and trio configurations of Julia Eckhardt (Viola), Silvia Tarozzi (Violin) and Deborah Walker (Violoncello). The first, for Tarozzi and Walker resonates with an intense immanence as the Violin’s icy high register is underlined by glyding lower end Violoncello contours, creating a unique weather system of mid-air dissonance, which makes Walker’s lone performance on ‘Occam VIII’ only appear hauntingly nude by contrast.
When all three players converge at ‘Occam Delta III’ they create a more sublime tension, adhering the composer’s instructions to follow a razor fine line between microtonal frequencies and making the piece’s technical challenges feel effortlessly natural, really honing in on tones that resonate the pharynx and get up in your head quite unlike anything else.
‘Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space’ is the third studio album by English space rock band Spiritualized, originally released on 16 June 1997.
"The album features guest appearances from the Balanescu Quartet, The London Community Gospel Choir and Dr. John. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space’ has since been acclaimed as one of the best albums of the 1990s on various publications' decade-end lists. Pitchfork ranked it at number 55 on their list of the top 100 albums of the 1990s. In 2010, the album was also named one of the 125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years by Spin."
Very canny breakthru debut album from John Glacier, expressing her East London soul with executive production by LA-based Vegyn - a strong look for fans of Coby Sey, Tirzah, Mica Levi, Dean Blunt
‘SHILOH: Lost For Words’ frames Glacier’s singular sort of punk poet rap in 12 concise cuts that lay out her sound at the fringes of electronica, indie-pop and rap, proper. A remarkably diverse but collected whole, the album’s variegation owes to its plethora of like-minded producers - Vegyn, Holly, Psychedelic Ensemble and Tn_490 - who keep the ground shifting woozy and curious at Glacier’s feet, underlining droll lyrics about her hopes and dreams with suitably hazy, suggestive beats, at best in the over-compressed Dean Blunt styles of ‘If Anything,’ the sweetly skewed soul of ‘Trelawny Waters,’ and must-check highlights on the crystalline rap of ‘Boozy’ and the screwed jungle blues hymnal ‘Some Other Thing.’
“John Glacier says she chose her stage name because she's "icy". But, like her pitch-shifted vocal and deadpan stare, that dissembling coldness is shattered by the blistering reality of her lyrics. Everything she writes, in her punk-poet electronic pop songs, is viscerally vulnerable. Her debut album, produced with fellow London-born, LA-based producer Vegyn, is what she calls a "selfish" record, documenting "how I feel, what I'm going through, and where I want to go in my life." But like everything John touches, even this answer shapeshifts, revealing itself to be something unexpected by the time she's finished speaking. SHILOH is a document of healing and evolution that John created over the course of a year. Each track is a reflection of a moment, captured fleetingly, showcasing a different face of John Glacier. "The songs are all completely different spaces," she notes, but the common theme of the album is reflection, and processing – like chipping away at ice.”
This edition of "Pennsylvania" is newly remixed by David Thomas and reissued on Fire Records.
"From the turn of the millennium, ‘Pennsylvania’ was the eleventh studio album from this uncompromising and influential group, presenting their dark take on pop music. “Everyone talked about our artiness and our unlikeableness, people completely ignored for decades me saying, ‘We’re a pop band’.” (David Thomas). With ‘Pennsylvania,’ Pere Ubu welcome you to a barely recognisable secret country drawn out of its own spectral geography. This is much more than just music."
This edition of "St. Arkansas" is newly remixed by David Thomas in 2021 and reissued on Fire Records.
"Pere Ubu's darkest and most dramatic statement, ‘St Arkansas’ remains a work of offhand brilliance by a band who often seem capable of miracles. Following ‘Pennsylvania’, ‘St Arkansas’ (2002) was Pere Ubu’s next studio album featuring a travelogue of characters encountered on the Mighty Road from Conway Arkansas to Tupelo Mississippi, I-40 to US 49 to State 6. “I drove the route and wrote down what the Road was telling me.” (David Thomas)"
Nomadic drum outlaw Stefan Schwander hitches his wagon to Bureau B again for a strong follow-up to the streamlined contours of ‘Plong’
For over ten years Harmonious Thelonious has ploughed a singular, strident path thru a plethora of outernational percussive styles, distilled into his own groove. With ‘Instrumentals’ he follows the subtle readjustments of 2020’s mesmerising ‘Plong’ album with a greater focus on effortlessly rolling structures, consolidating a world of influence from Pan African, South American, Antipodean and Middle Eastern percussive styles with a proper, fine-tuned sort of minimalist, motorik German suss rooted in the perpetual electronic drive of his native Düsseldorf.
Oblivious to trend, the eight supple fusions drums and widescreen flatland atmospheres are a very canny exercise in rhythmic world building, articulated in a drum language bound to be understood by moving bodies. With no tricks or stunts, or less gritty textures than early works, the tracks flow with a glistening quality, unfolding in nuanced permutations of sultry, tango-like elegance on ‘Beiläufige Muziek’, or knitting thumb piano-like rhythmelodies and pealing horns into swingeing syncopation on ‘Halb Ding’ and ‘Apakapa’, while saving a massive highlight for the heads down and shoulder bouncing ‘Yusuf’, which appears to imagine an elision of indigenous Australian and Kurdish Dabke reference points to our ears.
Inimitably eclectic figure Richard Youngs effectively sings thru his Spanish guitar strings upon return to Richo’s Fourth Dimension Records
‘Iker’, pronounced “eeker” and translating from Basque as ‘Visitation’, showcases Youngs’ lyrical solo guitar prowess at its stripped down best in a vein of practice shared by John Fahey and Sir Richard Bishop. It’s the most serene of his sides for the label, and absorbingly porous to his environment, very subtly incorporating street sounds and bird song, tape loops and synth that enliven the spare, afternoon air of the recordings and lend extra nuance for attentive listeners to lose themselves in, before becoming more noticeably foreground in the final part..
Hungarian mystic Hortobágyi graces avant classical titan ECM in trio with his Hortogonals, György Kurtág Jr. and Miklós Lengyelfi for an exquisite elision of deep space and spectralist musicks with remarkable runs into dub techno, for all intents and purposes like some stray ~scape or MVO Trio wonder
Originally issued beyond our peripheral vision in 2009, the trio’s only release to date plugs a hole in our collections that we didn’t even realise existed until recently. Their ‘Kurtágonals’ form a lattice like bridge between disciplines and worlds, discretely weaving formerly exclusive bedfellows into a richly imaginative soundsphere fizzing with influence from Romanian spectralist traditions and Hortobágyi’s worldly research of alternate tunings and modes, as much as the deepest German dub techno abstractions. It’s a totally unexpected but entirely welcome direction of exploration to our ears, seemingly manifesting an idea that we’d wager many of us have longed for, but never heard executed quite so well.
‘Kurtágonals’ is released by Manfred Eicher’s legendary ECM label, highly regarded for their production values, and as such patently benefits from an opulent sound staging, with Hortobágyi assisted in the August 2008 recording and engineering by Ferenc Haász at the Guo Manor, Budapest. Between them they conjure an unfathomably wide and vertiginous soundfield strafed by acéphalic chorales and sliding electronic pitches, and arced with resonant string harmonics, but really given depth by its ultra subtle layers of distant dub chords and padded subbass ballast, both of which we never really expected to hear on an ECM recording, and especially in this sort of seamless, playthru arrangement resembling a dream mixtape.
We could offer any number of add n to x allegories for this sound, but they’d all fall short of the stylistically transcendent end product. It’s simply extraordinary stuff that needs to experienced in highest possible fidelity and with good speakers to reveal its spellbinding nuance.
F.S.Blumm and Nils Frahm have confirmed details of their fourth collaborative album, "2X1=4", which will be released by LEITER, the new label formed by Frahm and his manager, Felix Grimm.
"The seven-track album finds the duo unexpectedly exploring a dub influenced universe, though in truth it’s one already familiar to both. F.S.Blumm, for instance, is co-founder of Quasi Dub Development, whose 2014 album, Little-Twister vs Stiff-Neck, featured Lady Ann and Lee Scratch Perry, while Frahm’s music – not least 2018’s All Melody – has occasionally betrayed a fondness for the form’s associated studio techniques, though he concedes wryly that his approach has always been “a little bit more German” than his influences.
F.S.Blumm, a revered mainstay of the German underground for over two decades, and Nils Frahm, who’s enjoyed significant success in recent years with his ground-breaking compositions for piano and synths, first met in the early 2000s. Frahm was a big fan of Blumm’s 2001 album, Mondkuchen – he refers to his fellow Berlin resident admiringly these days as “a vital brick in the Berlin Wall” – while Blumm was soon dazzled by Frahm’s studio set up. “Compared to mine,” he says, “it was like a space ship!” Soon they were working together on a variety of projects – including theatre pieces and animated films – and by 2010 they’d released their first collaborative album, Music For Lovers Music Versus Time. A second, Music For Wobbling Music Versus Gravity, followed in 2013, and a third, Tag Eins Tag Zwei, in 2016.
2X1=4 is very different to its predecessors, but its final track, ‘Neckrub’, first took shape as they wound up work on Tag Eins Tag Zwei. “We had a certain sound in the back of our heads,” Blumm recalls, “which was influenced by these 80s rhythm machines, and we suddenly discovered a common love for dub.” Most of the new album, therefore, was initially developed in 2016 during improvisation sessions recorded by Frahm to two-track cassette. “It was like we were running a combine harvester,” Blumm laughs, “so we could write our names on a single grain!”
Afterwards, they worked on editing and overdubs in Frahm’s new studio at Berlin’s legendary Funkhaus. “We kept on making new songs out of these sessions and starting over and over again,” Frahm smiles. “It was a process that was time consuming but really fun.” Not that either of them is eager to claim a purist approach. “I love ending up somewhere where I’m surprised by myself or the machine or the person with whom I’m making music,” Blumm concludes, while Frahm emphasises that, “None of this is too serious. The record is only as much of a dub record as the ones before are jazz records…”"
Dntel returns with a collection of 10 pop-infused vocal hymns. "Away" is the second of two Dntel albums to be released in 2021 by Morr Music in collaboration with Les Albums Claus.
"Jimmy Tamborello AKA Dntel is a musician who changed pop music forever – and still works in this never-ending labour of love, both effortless and highly focused, constantly tweaking the universe of our musical perception. Whether beatless or uncompromisingly embracing the limelight of collective ecstasy with one of his most remembered tunes "(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan", his almost forgotten anthem "Don’t Get Your Hopes Up" or his work as James Figurine. "Away" features 10 of these extravaganzas – uniting his audience once more in hope and future-bound optimism.
"I grew up with 80s techno-pop – these influences always come through in my music", Jimmy writes from Los Angeles. For this album, though, "I was thinking more of 80s indie pop or labels like 4AD. It is a mix of those influences along with trying to figure out what elements of my own discography I still connect with. I wanted it to reflect old Dntel records as well as the techno-pop band Figurine I used to be in. I have always considered my music basically being techno-pop, but not referring to pop as popular music – I just like pretty melodies. But with the Dntel moniker, I never had the ambition to produce music for a really big audience.”
It is exactly that looseness in approaching music which makes Tamborello’s style of composing so unique. On "Away" he combines a healthy dose of distortion with the most-sticking melodies, vocals and bitter-sweet lyrics he ever came up with – performing all vocals himself, with the help of technology. "My voice has a limited range. When I applied this vocal processing it seemed to bring out the emotions more. I don’t see it as the same as the more artificial, autotuned style of modern pop music. I think it still sounds like it could be a real person singing, just not me."
Using this technique, Dntel disembodies himself from his own art, welcoming all kinds of interpretations re. his current state as an artist. "Somehow this processed voice feels closer to how I see myself than my normal voice, for better or worse…", he writes. Pop music is a fragile entity, making its kingpins vulnerable. Many emotions reveal a lot of the originator’s personality –this is something one has to be prepared for. On "Away", Jimmy Tamborello finds the perfect way of marrying his unique musical personality with both the demands and possibilities of pop music. Just listen to "Connect" and you’ll know what we’re talking about. A perfect, yet timeless album for less than perfect times."
This collection of damaged subsonic headmelters was originally released back in 2001 under the CTI moniker, and used Carter's 1970s and '80s Throbbing Gristle rhythm tapes to inspire industrial vignettes that have been used on countless installations, TV ads and Hollywood movie trailers since. Still so far ahead of the game - frozen ambient void soundtrax.
This second collection of ambient reworks takes his pioneering Throbbing Gristle sounds into a sub-aquatic cave of watery textures, rumbling sheet subs and chattering alien echoes. It's not drone material by any means - Carter retains the rhythmic push of his TG beat tapes, but flexes them in dilated time, reminding of Thomas Köner or Kevin Drumm.
Tracks don't so much play from beginning to end as twist thru the perceived audio field like weightless blunt smoke diving between hi-frequency whirrs and lo-end growls. It's music that can pretty much only be enjoyed on a decent set of speakers or headphones - the original release read "not mono compatible" and "contains sub-sonics and resonant frequencies which lower specified audio apparatus may find difficult to faithfully reproduce".
But if you're in possession of a half-decent setup you're in for a treat. There are few artists who possess Carter's wizardry working in this mode. As a pioneer he changed the game, but he also rarely repeatshimself. Billed as "ambient remixes", these eerie versions are several steps removed from the cloying ambient music that clogs up playlists and soundtracks. Carter's take on the genre exists in negative space and hinges on dub flavor, hypnotic texture and pure sonic confusion. It's next level shit, from beginning to end.
New album on Ninja Tune from Swedish musician and producer DJ Seinfeld (Armand Jakobsson).
"If much of DJ Seinfeld’s previous work was characterised by a sepia-tinged haze, a result of the producer’s deliberately lo-fi production techniques, then brand new album ‘Mirrors’ sees his music come firmly into focus.
“On this album I wanted to retain a lot of the raw emotionality that brought people to my music in the first place,” says Armand Jakobsson, better known as DJ Seinfeld. “But I also wanted to become a much better producer. It’s been an arduous process but it’s a real statement of where I’m at as a producer and person right now. I’ve been through various sonic explorations in the past few years but have come to understand what people like about my music and how to move forward with it.” "
The architect engineer of Industrial music, Chris Carter (TG, X-TG, CTI, Chris & Cosey) turns classic early works inside out in an Electronic Ambient style on the first of reissued volumes with Mute.
Effectively rendering his seminal solo debut album ‘The Space Between’ in hyperspace, Carter measures distance travelled between the end of the ‘70s and 2000AD with ‘Electronic Ambient Remixes One.’ Originally issued under the CTI alias that he shares with creative and life partner Cosey Fanni Tutti, the album exemplifies his switch from angular manipulations of bespoke hardware to a mixture of hardware and computer-based systems, practically melting the tensile hard edges of his early classics with infinitely smooth gradients and more sensual pulses that reset their meaning from club and living room laboratories to a headier abstract metaspace.
For anyone familiar with Carter’s 1980 debut album, it’s all the more remarkable to hear those tracks utterly transformed and transposed into their reflections here. Unrecognisable from the originals, Carter translates their original post-Industrial vernacular into an alien language of vaporous signs and suggestive textures, dematerialising any semblance of fixed structure in favour of sheer amorphousness and floating amniotic sensation somewhere between lush and unheimlich. But for anyone unfamiliar with the originals, we’d even advise doing them in reverse chronology to hear what were once deeply futuristic forms emerge from Ur flux and vice versa.
Vital narrative-led field recording work captured in the Amazon rainforest by Aussie recordist and Room40 boss Lawrence English. Utterly captivating stuff that places us in the center of a misunderstood part of the world and allows us to appreciate its rare, complex beauty.
While English is likely best known at this point for his transcendent and ear-splitting drone plates like "Wilderness of Mirrors" and "Cruel Optimism", it's his understated field recordings that have always fascinated us most. "A Mirror Holds The Sky" is a selection of untreated recordings gathered in 2008 in the Amazon over a period of several weeks, chopped down from over fifty hours of audio. It's layered, textured sound that's as mind-alteringly elaborate as any pioneering electronic work (think Morton Subotnick or latter-day Autechre) but exists completely in the natural realm.
'The Jungle' eases us into a world that might be familiar to anyone who's spent significant time with Werner Herzog's "Aguirre" or "Fitzcarraldo". The Screaming Phia takes a lead role here, calling indiscreetly over the hum and buzz of insects and other birds. But as the album digs further into the rainforest, more unfamiliar sounds are unearthed. 'The River' seems to exist both underneath and above the water, capturing the swirl of insects that flutter on the surface. 'The Island' is more unsettling still, with implacable animal gurgles that build into a chorus of groaning, dissonant rasps noisier and more desolate than any noise tape.
On 'The Shore', innumerable insects fashion layers of hypnotizing drone that lull you into near meditation, while 'The Tower' magnifies these sounds further, breaking the illusion. The record is constructed so perfectly; English works like a documentary filmmaker, using real life footage but forming a narrative anybody can hook themselves into.
It's a towering work from a consistently engaging artist that truly celebrates the raw sonic power of the natural world - and is an album to file alongside Chris Watson’s still incomprehensible/incomparable 'Outside The Circle Of Fire’ - it’s that good.
‘Yellow’ is the life-giving debut album opus from pivotal London jazz player and band leader Emma-Jean Thackray, channelling sacred strains of everyone from Sun Ra to Alice Coltrane and even Funkadelic
Cementing a solid reputation as a catalyst of London’s jazzy groundswell in recent years, Thackray gathers a crack squad of the city’s finest for 14 variegated tracks deeply informed by ‘70s jazz fusion, but just as prone to veer off on cosmic or P-funk tangents. Recorded over the past 12 months of strife, ‘Yellow’ ultimately conveys a message of positivity thru classically schooled means, drawing upon examples of high black art, and effectively where they came from, to offer a whole vibe for those in need.
Hailed by the label as “exactly like the sort of thing we’ve been longing for over the last 12 months: a transcendent, human, shared experience” we’re inclined to agree; ‘Yellow’ is just the ticket to clear the murk with its cloud busting bursts of harmonic colour, plush vocals and elastic bounce. We advise checking for the effervescent bustle of ‘Third Eye’ at its core for a proper spirit lifter, and looking out for Sun Ra-esque gems in the cosmic beauty of album opener ‘Mercury,’ while dancers will be charmed by the bubbling takers of ‘Venus’ and the swingeing rug-cutters ‘Rahu & Ketu’ or ‘Our People.’
Finders Keepers' 3rd volume of Ilaiyaraaja tunes offers a bounty of south subcontinental '80s electro-disco-pop. While their previous collections have homed in on his work with the "Tamil Nightingale", K.S. Chitra, and "The Electronic Pop Sound Of Kollywood 1977-1983", this one follows in the same vein as Bombay Connection's excellent 'Fire Star: Synth Pop & Electro-Funk From Tamil Films 1984-1989' or Cartilage Records' amazing 'Play That Bat Mr. Raja' compilations with 17 songs selected for their dancefloor potential.
Drawn from a collection of over 4500 (and counting) songs mostly written for original soundtracks hardly known outside of his home region, 'Ilectro' follows up Raja's appearance in the Olympics opening ceremony of 2012 with a techno-coloured burst of sonic joy bound to thrill with its crammed arranegments and highly idiosyncratic application of early DX7 synths and cut-up drum machine patterns to traditional raga-style melodies and typically emoting vocals. To this extent his music can be likened with Charanjit Singh's acidic ragas or even the electronic orientations of early adopter Ilhan Mimaroglu in Turkey. Yet, ultimately, as you'll hear, this music is in a league of its own, augmenting Western pop ideas and electronics with a unique accent individual to gayaki style Carnatic music and the bombastic emotion of Kollywood cinema.
Charming expo of mbira music from Zimbabwe, 1983, charting its symbolism during early years of the country’s independence and as a means of contacting the spirit world
Showcasing the playing of Ephat Mujuru, the descendent of a respected spirit medium and master of the mbira dzavadzimu - “a handheld lamellophone used in Shona region to make contact and receive council from deceased ancestors” - the four pieces on ‘Mbavaira’ document Ephat working with a newly formed band, The Spirit of the People on their 2nd album of acoustic mbira music.
While named for the Shona for something like “chaos”, the album was intended to foster unity between Zimbabwe’s two dominant ethnic groups, the Shona and the Ndebele, and arrived on the country’s only label Gramma Records as one of few commercially issued mbira recordings at the time, and was practically received as a pop record, an immediate quality that it carries thru into 2021.
Ephat tragically died from a heart attack at Heathrow Airport in 2001, aged 51, en route to perform and teach in the US, and ‘Mbavaira’ is a lovely testament to his legacy, flowing free with four tracks of complex rhythmelodic colour and soulful vocals by his uncle Mude, sweepign from he lilting dealign music of the title track to the trad hunting song ‘Nyama Musango’ (Meat in the Forest) via the swingeing hustle of ‘Kuenda Mbire’ *Going to Mbire) and the more brooding tone of ‘Mudande’, named for a remote northern village in Zimbabwe.
Shades of Ariel Kalma’s bio-feedback systems meet Colin Stetson’s grandly cinematic North American landscapes on the 3rd album by Land of Kush saxophonist Jason Sharp.
“The Turning Centre Of A Still World is Sharp’s first purely solo record and his most lucid, poignant, integral work to date. Following two acclaimed albums composed around particular collaborators and guest players, Sharp conceived his third as an interplay strictly bounded by his own body, his acoustic instrument, and his evolving bespoke electronic system. The Turning Centre... is a singular sonic exploration of human-machine calibration, interaction, expression and biofeedback.
Using saxophones, foot-controlled bass pedals, and his own pulse – patched through a heart monitor routed to variegated signal paths that trigger modular synthesizers and samplers – Sharp paints with organic waves of glistening synthesis, pink noise and digitalia. Melodic strokes and harmonic shapes ripple and crest across ever-shifting seas, through an inclement cycle from dawn to dusk. The album’s six main movements navigate a world where placid surfaces are always roiled and disquieted by a deeper inexorable gyre: the gravitational pull and tidal perpetuity of our bodies made of water, buffeted by terrestrial atmospheric pressures, wrung out by emotions, coursing with blood, sustained by breath, inescapably yearning for and returning to ground again and again. Sharp’s heartbeat literally courses through these compositions – while only occasionally surfacing as a clearly audible pulse or rhythm, it physically feeds into a spectrum of generative synthetic processes that help constitute and conduct the music.
The immersive, intensive, widescreen electronic works on The Turning Centre… could sit comfortably as a masterful and stellar contribution to the space/sci-fi/synth soundtrack genre, owing to their overall sound palette and oceanic scope. But this is ultimately deeper, grittier, earthier stuff – pulsing with terrestrial granularity, charting subterranean geographies of the heart and soul.”
Based on March's levitational "Cedars", "Maples, Ash and Oaks" strips away the Arabic and English poetry and leaves Field Works' frozen instrumental soundscapes.
Field Works' Stuart Hyatt went back to the original tracks to assemble this special release, stripping away the layers from "Cedars" and rebuilding them into a new album. Instead of vocals, pianist Julien Marchal now takes a central role, playing alongside material from musicians like core Field Works members Marisa Anderson and Fadi Tabbal, and contributing performers Julien Marchal, Youmna Saba, Dena El Saffar, Danny Paul Grody, Bob Hoffnar, Stuart Hyatt, Tomás Lozano, Nathan Bowles and Alex Roldan.
The music is faint, verdant and whimsical. If the original album was influenced by the Welsh forest (with environmental recordings from Harrison Ridley to match), then "Maples, Ash and Oaks" heads further down the leafy trail, deep into the mud and twigs. It's a fairytale world that matches simmering ambience with woodland folk and emotive solo piano for fans of Helios, Julianna Barwick or even Sufjan Stevens.
Swedish psych outfit Goat hoover up a career of odds 'n sods on "Headsoup", combining singles, B-sides and edits with unreleased burners.
Since 2012, Goat have been reminding their legion of fans that Northern Europe has always been a hotspot for truly spangled psychedelic sounds. This bumper collection is further proof, and within moments of opening blues rawk jammer 'The Sun The Moon' it's pretty clear that the masked troupe have their sights set on late 1960s/early 1970s pedalboard fritz. But Goat have never stayed in one place too long: 'Dreambuilding' combines brittle folk ideas with fluid Tuareg rock fretwork, 'It's Time For Fun' is quirky rhythm box synthcore, 'Relax' is wormhole drone and 'The Snake of Addis Ababa' is spidery microtonal exotica.
Completely torched material from beginnig to end - mind-altering substances not included.
'Perfect Vision' is another defiant set from enduring D.C.-based blues-rock guitarist and songwriter Thalia Zedek. Her dissenting voice has never sounded clearer than right here, on an album finished only moments before the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Zedek has been challenging the system of control since 1980, and her latest doesn't break the tension for a second. Her last album "Fighting Season" was about resistance as tension grew across the USA; "Perfect Vision" is focused on the search for clarity as the world languishes in isolation.
It shouldn't surprise any regular listeners that the album is toothy, serrated and to-the-point. Zedek's overdriven blues rock is accurately in-key with current malaise, and her voice - booming and incisive - sounds poignant, sober and prophetic.
Digitalis/RVNG survivor Steve Gunn enlists help from Julianna Barwick, Mary Lattimore, Bridget St. John and others on his sunny, kosmische-influenced sixth solo album. Somewhere between Mercury Rev, later Popol Vuh and Nick Drake.
'Other You' illustrates coolly just how much Gunn has developed his songwriting since his early minimalist work that explored the intersection between Appalachian folk and Indian raga. Now all that DIY grit has disappeared almost entirely, and Gunn's music - recorded by Elliott smith producer Rob Schnapf - sounds as compositionally complex as The Beach Boys or Kurt Vile, who Gun performed with for a stretch. But that's no bad thing, "Other You" twinkles with much-needed sunshine and Gunn's take on Americana is effortless and enjoyable. His choice to swerve the somehow overly-folksiness of many of his contemporaries has led him down a more cosmic path that, on tracks like the eponymous opener and 'Good Wind' drags him closer to Florian Fricke's acidic fretwork than John Fahey's.
His choice of collaborators is also thoughtful and harmonious. Julianna Barwick's contribution on 'Good Wind' adds a flash of golden light from heaven as she harmonizes with Gunn's cracking voice, and Mary Lattimore's unmistakable looping harp phrases on 'Sugar Kiss' stand out on the album's singular instrumental. It's pop music, just about, but some of the more hopeful, more adventurous and more resonant you're likely to hear this year.