Jeff Mills’ tribute to the Planets finally takes shape as a 2CD set housed in one of those clunky dual CD cases that used to house Now! compilations.
Suffice it to say that we’re not huge fans of this classical-meets-techno trajectory Mills is has been taking for the past decade - although, mind you there have been some highlights such as the Free Fall Galaxy album - but don’t let that put you off from checking this out, especially if you’re a sucker for Carl Sagan videos or retro-futuristic fetishism.
An Anthology Of Noise & Electronic Music Vol. 1 begins in the 1920s, with the Russolo Brothers, and looks at each decade in turn -- Varése, Cage, Schaeffer, Xenakis, the great pioneers -- and shows the first traces of a music that was necessarily revolutionary: electronic music, created from nothing (and hence to be entirely invented).
Some pieces on these CDs are certainly classics, but there are others, which, though old, were distributed informally or never even released. The more contemporary pieces are, wherever possible, previously unreleased. In fact, more than the half of the tracklisting is unreleased and unpublished.
Artists include: Luigi & Antonio Russolo, Walter Ruttman, Pierre Schaeffer, Henri Pousseur, Gordon Mumma, Angus Maclise, Tony Conrad & John Cale, Philip Jeck, Otomo Yoshihide & Martin Tétreault, Survival Research Laboratories, Einsturzende Neubauten, Konrad Boehmer, Nam June Paik, John Cage, Sonic Youth, Edgard Varése, Iannis Xenakis, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, Pauline Oliveros, Ryoji Ikeda.
The complete work by Luc Ferrari for films from 1960 to 1984 including electronic pieces, concrete music made in GRM and some hybrid including traditional instruments. An In-depth survey of the concrète poet/artist/thinker’s works for films, comprising eight durational pieces, and including the 73 minute ‘Chronopolis’
“This 3CD set gathers the complete work by Luc Ferrari for films from 1960 to 1984 including electronic pieces, concrete music made in GRM and some hybrid including traditional instruments.
Very rare pieces, most are unpublished (with collaboration with Jean Cocteau ou Jean Tinguely...), this is for the very first time the complete scope of one of the most innovative composer of the XX century.
Including 2 lighting texts by two writers and critics Philippe Langlois (Les Cloches d'Atlantis) and Guillaume Contré, some rare photograms from films and some handwritings notes by Ferrari himself.”
The urban myth of Grindah, Beatz, Steves and Decoy’s fabled mix becomes hyperstitious with Kurupt FM Present the Lost Tape on XL **cue flurry of fivers and shower faces to camera**
One of the best shows on British telly (to be fair they haven’t much competition), the cast of People Just Do Nothing come into their own with a rudeboy/rudegyal selection of garage and early grime classics speckled with their own, excloosey dubplates and original pirate material.
Spicy bhangra lover Chabbudy G opens with an advert for his music management/minicab services, before the crew touch mic on a 23 track rinse thru bimmers from Scott Garcia, DJ Zinc, Wookie, Agent X, Sia, Youngstar, Jon E Cash, Wiley, Dizzee and everyone else - basically the sound of London and British inner cities circa the millennium, and every student house party in the UK over the last five years.
In case you were in any doubt; it’s bare fun.
Kompakt’s moving feast of Pop Ambient returns with a 2018 edition spelling out twelve languorous and lofty definitions of atmospheric music by veteran hands - the Orb, Triola, Jens-Uwe Beyer - as well as recent additions to the series - Chuck Johnson, Yui Onodera, T. Raumschmiere.
Trust there’s no sharp edges or harsh textures inside, more the sort of music one can listen to in your birthday suit with windows open, or equally blanketed after the party, and the effect will remain as welcoming, user friendly.
Look out for lovliest moments in this volume from T. Raumschmiere’s epic stargazer, Eterna, and the amniotic cradle of Kaito’s Travelled Between Souls.
The new album from Peter Broderick.
"They say music takes you on a journey, and this collection of commissioned work by Peter quite literally does that. From a ferry boat ride in Istanbul, to walking down the aisle at a wedding, these songs were created for particular situations, yet Peter found a way to work without any sort of limitations and on his own terms. The result is an assortment of works from the past ten years, coming together as one: Peter’s new album.
Words from Peter, October 2017:
Ever since I started releasing records in 2007 (10 years ago now!), people have contacted me periodically to ask if I’d be interested in making music to accompany their projects. Most of these projects have been things like films, dance pieces and theatre plays . . . but every so often I get the odd request for something a little different. Peter, would you write a song for my wedding? My one year anniversary? A ferry boat ride?
In early 2015 I was asked to perform 12 minutes of music during a runway show as part of New York Fashion Week. I agreed and began composing a 12-minute piece which I could perform on my own with a few different instruments and some looping pedals. I made a recording of the piece and sent it over to my contacts at the fashion show . . . but a few days before I was to fly out to New York, they wrote back and told me they actually just wanted me to play a few older songs that they were already familiar with. Feeling slightly disappointed, I shelved the other piece, giving it the title If I Were A Runway Model.
It is with great pleasure that I now present this piece in a collection of commissioned works spanning the last decade . . . it’s All Together Again. This group of oddball works does indeed include a couple pieces written for weddings (Our Future In Wedlock and The Walk), and a song someone asked me to write as a gift for his wife on their first year wedding anniversary (Emily). And indeed, there’s a 17-minute piece written to accompany a ferry boat ride in Istanbul (A Ride On The Bosphorus). A few of the pieces were written for films (Robbie’s Song, Atlantic and Seeing Things), and one for a kind of interactive installation (Unsung Heroes).
In my early days of recording, I took pride in playing all the different instruments myself and doing the recording myself as well. And then at some point I started branching out, working with other musicians and recording engineers. But this record is very dear to me in that it’s a return to that original approach . . . playing all the different instruments myself, working with my limits on each one, and my own limits in recording and mixing. I’ve always held a broad curiosity for all different instruments and all different styles of music, and if nothing else I hope this record will portray that curiosity, and my pure love for this thing we call music. Can you dig it?
The cover art was made by Peter himself in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, by cutting and sticking different coloured paper fragments to depict the individuality of each track. ".
The Body and Full of Hell are both unique and influential forces in heavy music.
"Both artists welcome challenges and eschew self-promotion. Each artist seems driven to take risks and push boundaries of what is considered heavy. A clear example being that on recent tours The Body have performed without any live guitar or drums. Both artists enjoy the creative growth and music and good times that come out of collaborations. Each has collaborated often with other unique but like-minded musicians such as Thou, The Haxan Cloak, Krieg, Merzbow, The Bug and the list goes on. Despite their obvious differences in songwriting, The Body and Full of Hell are unified by their shared aesthetic, catharsis through the manipulation of emotions transformed by visceral noise and fueled by an inescapable sense of dread. They have returned to collaborate again not because of their commonalities but because of their differences and what those differences yield in performance. With Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light, The Body & Full of Hell have integrated a love for electronic noisescapes with abrasive, precise sonic assaults into a sound unlike anything either has produced before.
Written and recorded in one week at Machines with Magnets in Providence, the music of Ascending draws from unexpected sources such as reggaetón and jungle (“Master’s Story”). There are some familiar guests to The Body fans, namely vocalist Chrissy Wolpert (Assembly of Light Choir) and Ben Eberle (Sandworm), as well as first-time collaborator drummer Brian Chippendale (Lightning Bolt, Black Pus), whom both bands share a strong aesthetic of individualism. Samples, synth, saxophone, and a drum orchestra all throb, and sputter, coagulating under the weight of the two bands. Programmed drum patterns and loops taking cues from hip hop are bent and twisted throughout, flawlessly emboldening the distortion drenched guitars and howling vocals. Each element, though meticulously crafted, is visceral, as the exhilaration of improvisation has not been curtailed by editing.
Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light casts aside the dogmas of heavy music. Extremity in The Body & Full of Hell’s music is not based on macho musings or competitive trendiness, but rather is an integral tool to exploring the anxieties of modern life and the bridges between personal and political strife. As leading voices in DIY and underground music communities, The Body & Full of Hell, along with peers such as Thou, are expanding the possibilities of extreme music by shaping worlds of sound with a palette of diverse influences seldom seen in “heavy music” today.”
João Paulo Esteves da Silva, Mário Franco and Samuel Rohrer together combine all the qualities that are currently making this most classical chamber-music format of jazz so successful.
"Intuitive understanding, transparent flows of communication between the musicians, their actions and reactions, soloistic sequences that continue the balanced flow of sounds, as well as musical culture and noblesse. This trio does not boast but trusts the spaces between the notes. Yet its music develops a pull, gently insisting, that becomes ever more plausible.
Nobody in this trio acts in an authoritarian way. Everything breezily interlinks following a collective thought; catchy, sometimes almost song-like and always of iridescent beauty. The trio is not defined by melodic bliss, melancholy or the pure pursuit of harmony. It searches in the openness of improvisation, dispensing with ready-made intentions for a piece or composition. It transforms what is found into concise sonic images, which maintain rigour and concentration because they do not become unruly under the musicians’ fingers. Themes are illuminated without being overworked. Subtle free flights of fancy are interwoven.
There is lyrical introspection as well as an intricate groove, and everything occurs far away from routine. The catchy never descends into the banal, it always retains this beautiful openness to the ideas of the other. This balanced music has no need to pound or harass. It develops its strength from congenial casualness. Improvised bagatelles add together to form an unobtrusive bath of sound because no-one feels the need to exhibit their virtuosity. This creates a magical triangle.
The playing of pianist João Paulo Esteves da Silva is shaped by the worlds of jazz and fado, classical and folklore. Virtuosity yes, but soulful depth is even more important to him. He sensitively lets the genres metamorphosize into each other and sometimes acts withdrawn, to then celebrate sensitive eruptions again or allow his lines to effervesce. For him, emotionality has nothing to do with volume. His publications range from solo CD to big band. He is always looking for interconnections to other arts, to film, to t heatre and is publishing regularly his own books and poetry.
In such contexts, bassist Mário Franco is also an ideal choice for the line-up. As a musician at home also in the classical repertoire, his warm, smooth sound is now enormously in demand, which has made him a playing partner of well-known jazz musicians. He also performs as a dancer and composes for ballet, theatre and film.
Playing in comparable trios, the Swiss citizen of the world and urbane nomad Samuel Rohrer is one of the influential improvisational musicians of his generation and has gained the experience required for this intuitive communication with double bass and piano. He once again proves to be a sensitive listener who, as an actively intervening player, can increase and comment on the flow of ideas and keep it going.
This album is not an umpteenth variant on the plethora of piano trios but leaves the pure jazz idiom to stride across further territories: wide awake and lost in dreams."
David Sheppard returns with his second Snow Palms album, Origin and Echo. Two years in the making, it builds on the foundations of its predecessor, 'Intervals' with a heavy quotient of metallophones, glockenspiels and marimbas at its core, but largely eschews the latter’s chamber arrangements in favour of soaring synth-scapes and a palette of spectral ambient and electronic textures.
"Despite that, 'Origin and Echo' is a more performative record than was Intervals, its eleven organic, kinetic pieces meticulously constructed by David Sheppard from initial percussive skeletons largely essayed instinctively, in free time, without click-tracks and with almost no guitar. The album is loosely predicated on themes of mirroring and rebounding, whether physical or metaphorical, inspired by everything from the gravity-defying parabolas of space flight to patterns of human migration and feelings of déjà vu summoned by nostalgic journeys.
While the album is mostly the work of David Sheppard working alone or in tandem with producer Giles Barrett, it also features cameos from previous Snow Palms collaborator Christopher Leary (synthesisers), alongside Emma Winston (Omnichord), Lauri Wuolio (cupola drum) and Village Green label-mate Angèle David-Guillou (keyboards)."
Hyperdub make their first ever reissue foray with Diggin In The Carts: A Collection of Pioneering Japanese Video Game Music (Original Game Soundtrack), presenting the premiere release of all the material beyond their original cartridge homes.
The collection is a partner piece to the RBMA documentary series of the same name, researched, written and co-directed by Nick Dwyer and Kode9, the latter of whom is well known as a total fiend for vintage computer games and sino-futurism.
For anyone with a sweet, 8-bit tooth, this is a goldmine of goodies; packing in 34 brief bursts of hyper-coloured energy with not a millisecond or bit spared from future baroque complexity or funk between the cascading arpeggios of Konami Kukeiha Club’s BGM 3 (Motocross Maniacs), the darkside Carpenter style grind of An-Un ‘Ominous Clouds’ (Xak II) or the squirming techno-phonk of Hiroyuki Kawada’s King Erekiman, and what sounds like an uncanny, early precedent of Kode 9’s own sound in Tadahiro Nitta’s Metal Area.
For anyone intrigued by the roots of modern dance and electronics music, particularly the ‘ardcore continuum and the relationship between Anime, new age electronics and western musics, this one’s a must check!
Desire is an electronic music band from Montreal and Portland, Oregon. Their debut album, II, was originally released in June 2009 on the Italians Do It Better label. The band is made up of vocalist Megan Louise, producer Johnny Jewel (also a member of the IDIB bands Chromatics and Glass Candy) and Nat Walker (also a member of Chromatics) on synthesizer and drums.
'Montre Moi Ton Visage' rips us back to some concert venue in the early 80's with disingenuous crowd noises and heavy reverbs setting an epic scene before 'Mirroir Mirroir' turns on dark charms with lo-fi and deadpan vox from Megan Louise. It's all to his credit that you'll be beating yourself up thinking "where the f**k have I heard this before" when of course it's all original material. Following this, the simple but beautifully executed developments of 'Dans Mes Reves' will leave few heads blind to his talents, but it's the darker American allure of 'Colorless Sky' that you should be playing to your friends that need convincing.
Get closer to the resounding magic of Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient sculptures with this revelatory film and a CD containing the last ever recordings made by Harry with his brother Oreste and their sister Ave. Whether you’ve encountered Bertoia’s work via his modern furniture design, his Sonambient scuptures, or their recordings, consider this necessary viewing and listening!
“The DVD, a film titled Sonambients: The Sound Sculpture of Harry Bertoia, by Jeffrey & Miriam Eger, was shot in 1971 and follows Harry Bertoia in performance and interview throughout his Sonambient barn deep in the Pennsylvania woods. This film offers a rare opportunity to follow the artist in practice, listening carefully as he moves contemplativelythrough his sculptures and gongs. Interview footage offers rare insight into Bertoia's inspiration and process.
A separate CD contains four exclusive, recently discovered audio recordings. Included are thetwo earliest known collaborative tapes from Harry and brother Oreste, morning and evening sessions dated October 12, 1969, as well as a collaboration between the Bertoia brothers and their sister Ave who sings in careful unison with the overtones being produced by the sculptures. With the passing of Oreste Bertoia in 1972, these recordings mark the last meeting of all three Bertoia siblings.”
Philosopher, musician and anti-art activist, Henry Flynt has long foregone the academicism often associated with “serious music” in favor of a uniquely intuitive, emotional approach to composition.
"In the 1960s and 1970s he was a part of NYC’s vibrant avant-garde scene, studying with Hindustani singer Pandit Pran Nath and developing his own proprietary technique on violin. You Are My Everlovin’, Flynt’s first published musical work, finds the composer in peak form at a lower Manhattan loft in late spring 1981. Featuring solo electric violin and pre-recorded tambura, this sinuous performance elegantly brings together disparate vernaculars—Southern blues, modal jazz, Appalachian fiddle, North Indian raga— into a new and bracing whole.
As Flynt writes in the liner notes, “The electric violin timbre is crucial; it allows me to crush the diverse styles into a unity. I imagined the genre as open, radiant improvisation…an open plain that could absorb anything.” Incorporating themes and melodic phrases from his earlier work, Everlovin’ becomes Flynt’s own Gesamtkunstwerk—a work that is at once rooted in and liberated by the drone, revealing the profound mutability and utter singularity of this American iconoclast."
Classi Dust To Digital comp exploring Cambodia’s vibrant pop music scene from the 50's, 60's and 70's..
"40 years ago: April 17, 1975, Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian rock and roll was no more. Its star musicians were targeted and killed, record collections were destroyed, clubs were closed, and Western-style music-making, dancing, and clothes were outlawed. The deaths of approximately 2 million Cambodians and the horrors of the Killing Fields have been well-documented; add to this John Pirozzi’s fascinating tale of Cambodia’s vibrant pop music scene, beginning in the 1950s and ‘60s.
'Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten' pays homage to the country’s rock legends who paid for their creativity with their lives. Through the eyes, words and songs of its popular music stars of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll examines and unravels Cambodia's recent tragic past, the sequencing and newly-remastered audio transport the listener through the rock and roll history of Cambodia in a similar fashion as John Pirozzi’s documentary film. It is both entertaining and essential to hear so many tracks that are available outside of Cambodia for the very first time."
Among the most distinctive artists working between classical and improvisational paradigms today, Vancouver’s Ian William Craig affords a rare, intimate glimpse of his live practice with Durbē, which arrives via Sean McCann’s Recital Program after some gentle arm-twisting.
Not originally intended for wider consumption, Durbē came into being as a a night’s worth of recordings made in a 14th century Latvian church, and as such is imbued with a stately, even religiose melancholy that plays frictionally at odds with the artist’s abstract leanings.
Thanks to Sean McCann, who has purportedly fallen asleep countless times whilst listening to this, day and night (and not ‘cos it’s boring, but ‘cos it’s so hypnotic), the private recording is relinquished to a wider audience - all of us earthly mortals - revealing what sounds like plainsong ripped from a shredded palimpsest of a songbook and recited by a chorus of tattered digital poltergeist.
Mannequin get a grip on Nigel Ayers and Caroline K’s massive body of Nocturnal Emissions work with this cherry-picked rifle thru their catalogue, containing 22 highlights - from industrial grinders to wonky disco and daft pops - alll spanning recordings made 1980-1989. RIYL TG, Chris & Cosey, Caroline K, Bourbonese Qualk, Foetus.
“Nocturnal Emissions has been one of the best kept secrets of the industrial genre since the 1970s. Led by Nigel Ayers, the band was one of the first to use tape cutting, avant-garde art, and underground video works to create a stage experience that was being cultivated by like-minded artists like Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire.
The band moved on to using samplers and electronic noise in their early 80’s work, creating a twisted funk souncthat would go on to influence everyone from Foetus to Negativland. They still utilized their former tricks, upping the ante with extremist performance art and more professional video displays. The group avoided signing to a major label, instead focussing on releasing their own music more effectively.
They followed this path into the 90’s when they started earthlydelights.co.uk, an incredibly detailed website that promotes their various ideologies (they are strongly against the British monarchy and believe that citizens should have unlimited access to space travel) and constant release schedule. The band has released countless tapes and CDs of their material, and continues to unleash their noise through their website.”
Utterly spellbinding survey of John Cage’s late works, mostly focussing on orchestral pieces performed and recorded circa his 1990 visit to East Berlin, and including a stunning rendition of Some of The Harmony of Maine  performed by Edition RZ’s Jakob Ullmann, who coincidentally write the box’s lucubrate liner notes. If you’ve ever been intrigued by Cage but can’t see a way into his crenelated catalogue, we strongly recommend checking this set for some of the late, great thinker and composer’s most accessible and gratifying work.
The three discs of Klang Der Wandlungen feature five full pieces written between 1948 and 1992, just before the composer’s death at 80 years of age. By this point in the early ‘90s, Cage was already long established among 20th century avant garde heavyweights, having studied under Arnold Schoenberg - the inventor of serialism - and an extensive background in writing for modern dance with his longterm partner Merce Cunningham, as well as pioneering the prepared piano and penning the seminal 4’ 33”, perhaps one of the most important works of the 20th century.
Following an interest in eastern philosophy and anarchy from the late ‘40s, his work became defined by aleatoric music, or chance-based composition from then on, which came to define the sphere of Amercian avant-garde in opposition to the ‘new music’ coming from Darmstadt in the ‘50s, or European traditions and their focus on technicality or artisanship. These Cageian ideas had seeped into East Germany before reunification, and, in 1990, Cage was invited to East Berlin in the newly reunified German state at the behest of the IGNM (International Society for Contemporary Music).
The recordings in Klang Der Wanderlung were part of the programme or related to this visit, and, with historical context, came to show how his ideas had, over the preceding decades, become absorbed into European practice. We can hear striking similarities with the tension of Giacinto Scelsi in the remarkable opener Seventy-Four, and with Luigi Nono’s use of intangible quietness in 103, whilst the breathtaking Postcards From Heaven - here performed on harp by Gabriel Emde - is comparable with the feather-touch minimalism of Morton Feldman. Really, not what you may expect if you’ve only heard Cage’s famous, atonal early pieces such as Cartridge Music , a prototypical piece for adapted vinyl turntables, for example.
Another of Cage’s famous, early Imaginary Landscape compositions, makes up one of this set’s two biggest highlights. Gabriel Emde performs harp on a utterly gorgeous rendition of In A Landscape , a Satie-esque piece for dance presented here for the first time, whilst Jakob Ullmann’s organ performance of Some of The Harmony of Maine, renders the pioneer of Quiet Music at his loudest, performing Cage’s work in bold, striking gasps shattered by passages of near-silence.
Jakob Ullmann’s liner notes offer a lot more to sink your teeth into, alongside the music, which as always, is up to Edition RZ’s uncompromisingly high standards. Together with the delectable packaging, it makes up a perfect entry point to one of the most fascinating wormholes ever opened by art or music.
Riveting compendium of stark, raw blues by an erstwhile sparring partner of Loren Connors, recently salvaged from an old shoebox of tapes, restored by Taylor Deupree and mastered by Carl Saff.
"I would go as far as to say that the few recordings that exist of these Robert Crotty sessions are among the finest and most beautiful blues documents of all time." -- Loren Connors
In the years 1978 to 1981, Robert Crotty would show up on Loren Connors’ doorstep in New Haven, Connecticut with his tiny, almost toy guitar. The two would then spend hours playing acoustic blues, the likes of which was absolutely staggering in its truthfulness.
Robert Crotty with Me: Loren’s Collection (1979-1987) is the first anthology of the late bluesman’s work, as selected by his former playing partner. These are the unheard tapes of Crotty and Connors communing with the spirits of Delta and County Blues through their own revisions of standards and tingle-inducing improvisations. These also some of the legendary Connors' earliest available recordings showing the development of iconoclast guitar style and vocal moan.
Crotty was a New Haven lifer and linchpin of the region’s blues scene yet, he never achieved much recognition outside local bars and house parties — until now. The album features never before heard recordings, unseen photos, liner notes by Connors and Crotty’s brother plus a bonus CD: the first-time reissue of Crotty’s ultra rare sole LP Robert Crotty Blues and Prove It! 7-inch -- both released on Connors’ private St. Joan imprint in the late 1980s.”
Acid Jesus was the first of many collaborations between Roman Flügel and Jörn Elling Wuttke.
Situated in Frankfurt's thriving techno scene (and it´s holy label trinity of Playhouse, Klang and Ongaku), Flügel and Wuttke succeeded with their own and unique take on a sound that owed as much to Underground Resistance and the Belleville Three as it did to Sven Väth and Andrew Weatherall.
This epic set includes their best material circa 1992-1998, including a host of previously unrleeased pieces.
First-ever fully licensed compilation of this music to be released outside Japan.
"There was something in the air in the urban corners of late ‘60s Japan. Student protests and a rising youth culture gave way to the angura (short for “underground) movement that thrived on subverting traditions of the post-war years. Rejection of the Beatlemania-inspired Group Sounds and the squeaky clean College Folk movements led the rise of what came to be known in Japan as “New Music,” where authenticity mattered more than replicating the sounds of their idols.
Some of the most influential figures in Japanese pop music emerged from this vital period, yet very little of their work has ever been released or heard outside of Japan, until now. Light In The Attic is thrilled to present Even a Tree Can Shed Tears, the inaugural release in the label’s Japan Archival Series. This is the first-ever, fully licensed collection of essential Japanese folk and rock songs from the peak years of the angura movement to reach Western audiences.
In mid-to-late 1960s Tokyo, young musicians and college students were drawn to Shibuya’s Dogenzaka district for the jazz and rock kissas, or cafes, that dotted its winding hilly streets. Some of these spaces doubled as performance venues, providing a stage for local regulars like Hachimitsu Pie with their The Band-like ragged Americana, Tetsuo Saito with his spacey philosophical folk, and the influential Happy End, who successfully married the unique cadences of the Japanese language to the rhythms of the American West Coast. For many years Dogenzaka remained a center of the city’s “New Music” scene.
Meanwhile a different kind of music subculture was beginning to emerge in the Kansai region around Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. Far more political than their eastern counterparts, many of the Kansai-based “underground” artists began in the realm of protest folk music. They include Takashi Nishioka and his progressive folk collective Itsutsu No Akai Fuusen, the “Japanese Joni Mitchell” Sachiko Kanenobu, and The Dylan II, whose members ran The Dylan cafe in Osaka, which became a hub for the scene.
Even a Tree Can Shed Tears also includes the bluesy avant-garde stylings of Maki Asakawa, future Sadistic Mika Band founder Kazuhiko Kato with his fuzzy, progressive psychedelia, the beatnik acid folk of Masato Minami, and the intimate living room folk of Kenji Endo.
Nearly 50 years on, this “New Music” is born anew."
Lindstrøm launches his most concerted pop effort with 4th solo album, It’s Alright Between Us As It Is, neatly incorporating vocals by Jenny Hval, Frida Sundemo, and Grace Hall in a seamless segue of seven sleek and disco-ready songs adapting 40 years of dancefloor history to a timeless but fresh style.
Spire lifts off with lagging ‘70s drums and Vangelis-style synth streaks, tailing off into the lattice of latinate ‘80s arpeggios in Tensions, and a purring beauty named But Isn’t It starring Sweden’s Frida Sundemo, and something resembling ‘90s trance breaks for disco mums and dads with Shinin feat. Grace Hall.
Drift gives room for some twanging instrumental expression, and Jenny Hval voices the album’s most impressive piece with a hushed, cryptic performance on the bittersweet acidic twyst of Bungl (Like a Ghost), fading out into a neo-classical keys and tempered symphonic lift of Under Trees.
"Say what you wanna say, but you have to give Strahil Velchev this: the man's a powerhouse. Recording and playing live under the KiNK alias, he went on to become one of finest purveyor's of funk in techno and house. What it is, by definition, ain't exactly clear. And that is the beauty of it.
KiNK's music is unifying in the best possible way. Channeling the spirit and feeling of a time where it didn't really matter who the faces behind the music were, KiNK plays with the elements of genres and sub-genres as if the future of it all is still wide-open. At the same time it could be accused of retro-fetishism, as much as the Pope himself is infallible.
The pure need to recreate moments, feelings and experience - rather than carbon copies of existing designs - was what started KiNK's production work. Hailing from Bulgaria, it was nearly impossible to get your hands on all the records and music that fed into a system of raves, clubs and record shops that seemed far away from Sofia, and financially it might as well have meant another galaxy. Wanting to DJ without having access to the tracks that spun the carousel meant that you had to create them yourselves. So, here we go with a private bootlegger gone public mastermind and one of the loudest voices in house, techno and beyond.
From KiNK's early productions with Neville Watson to his smash-hit for Ovum, a cerebral album for Macro, tons of remixes & tracks and his mind-bending live act, Playground seems to take all that into a blender. Simultaneously a sound-summary, the harvest of a field of ideas, and the exhibition of an artist in his prime, it also works as a sort of KiNK dictionary: avant-garde soundscapes stand next to boisterous bangers, classic club tracks and peak time emotions find their idiosyncratic and contemplative counterparts – all of it coming down like a torrent in a drought."
Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly) and Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle) metamorphosize into The Belbury Circle, incorporating their pal John Foxx on two tracks of Outward Journey.
Pulsing with proggy soft trance riffs and draped in nocturnal atmospheres, it’s one for driving your car late at night thru the conurbations, commuter villages and gentrified docklands of a pensive Brexit Britain, turning up two standout moments in the John Foxx-led highlights of Forgotten Town and the beautifully wistful Trees, with plenty of time of reflection over your milky tea on Café Kaput and the twinkly gaze of Departures Inc, with a wistful guitar solo worthy of an Alan Partridge-style despairing breakdown in a lay-by.
Richard Chartier ponders another poignant predicament as Pinkcourtesyphone with Indelicate Slices, the project’s ninth full length, arriving after sojourns to The Tapeworm and Champion Version in recent seasons.
This is contemporary ambient music at its most opulent and intoxicating, sashaying rococo corridors of gold and red velvet smudged to shimmering pink hues, spinning solipsistic thru a permanent twilight zone of pharmaceutical haze, self-medicated and shielded to an omnipresent darkness that lurks beyond the rose beds.
It’s immaculately smashed and illusive music that slips under the skin and stimulates the imagination with uncanny efficiency, emulating none-more-rarified feels between the old world elegance of Romantic Threat and the digital drizzle of In Voluptuous Monochrome, secreting some stunningly sensitive, psychedelic passages in the 24 minute piece Minimumluxuryoverdose and the 12 minutes of OOBE like plasmic suspense of Above Chandeliers, with the systolic pulse of Problematic Interior rendering something like a recording of an anechoic panic room.
35 song set which is also being released via three single LPs. We were gonna write summat on these but decided to copy/paste these sales notes cos they're just too fucking funny. nice one Alan.
"If you really want to know more about the music, search for the LP version descriptions online (I'm sure they were copy/pasted across many websites) where you'll discover a treasure of valuable assessments contained within. This two-CD edition is primarily being made available to facilitate 41 of my 133 'fans' who will be thrilled that it comes out on Compact Disc -- and at an affordable price in comparison to what buying all three LPs would cost. I think I pressed at least 172 copies of this two-CD so there is room for another 39 'fans' to climb aboard my champion ship. I keep hearing that many of the CDs you've acquired in the past don't work anymore. CDs are supposed to rot, scratch and die after a few years and have therefore become a flawed medium. Sounds more like a pragmatic description of humanity to me. But I have thousands of CDs. Some are commercially manufactured discs and the rest are CDRs and every single one of them works.
Yep, I hired a bearded guy from New Hampshire to check them all and many are 10, 15, or 20 years old. But my mother always told me I was blessed. Or perhaps I have a magic CD player? But people used to say the same about cassettes and now tapes are the cat's fuckin meow. In fact, I know a record store owner who recently sold an entire car full of cassettes. So don't bring your CDs when you jump aboard Julijonas Urbonas' suicide roller coaster (which hopefully gets built soon in order to facilitate plenty of you imbeciles) -- leave them behind for others to enjoy. Getting back to my new album, go find my sampler on YouTube if you want to know what it sounds like. It's better than your new album, that's for sure. Maybe I'll have to do a cassette version of this record in the future so that I can write another one of these fuckin' promotional sheets."
Never previously issued on vinyl - a super rare Library Music LP from Japan - the sublime soundtrack for a 1986 runway show of Japan’s Mitsuhiro Matsuda’s Nicole brand.
"Jun Fukamachi’s highly coveted Nicole (86 Spring And Summer Collection - Instrumental Images) album, originally recorded in 1986 for celebrated fashion designer Mitsuhiro Matsuda’s Nicole clothing brand and never officially available before.
Only ever distributed as a limited promotional item offered to attendees and participants of the 1986 fashion show for the Nicole brand’s Spring and Summer collection, Fukamachi’s moody magnum opus has become a sort of Holy Grail for fans of Japanese ambient, jazz, and synth music alike…and rightly so!
Meticulously conceived, smooth and subtle, Nicole sounds like it came from an ethereal land where Erik Satie and Art of Noise lived together, a sublimely cinematic listening experience perhaps best described by renowned Japanese music writer Masaharu Yoshioka aka The Soul Searcher:
If you are driving down the Autobahn at 160 km/h, or even 80 km/h, and Jun’s music starts playing on the car stereo, the windshield will instantly turn into your own personal silver screen.”
Expanded (with 8 new tracks) version of Princess Nokia’s self-released debut mixtape, 1992 including the recently released single G.O.A.T. along with standouts such as the haunting, sharply pointed Brujas and the brassy bang of Kitana.
Assuming you’re cool af and already know the original mixtape, we’ll step right onto the new cuts, covering golden era hip hop in ABCs of New York and the backpacker beats of Goth Kid, plus a pure heat-seeking missile in the stuttering keys and drill bounce of Flava, and checking out on a deep south party flex with Chinese Slippers.
Heads will roll for this one!
With this pair of challenging, longform vocal works - including a recording of Kurt Schwitters’ Ur Sonate which has long been banned from being recorded by his estate - restless sound explorer John Duncan steers the vocal themes of his beguiling LP, This Bitter Earth, into the avant dimensions he’s best known for occupying since the late ‘70s.
Mantra is a 33 minute exposition of extended vocal technique where Duncan’s own vocals are layered and faded across the stereo field in an hypnotic, glacial escalation of density, calving away into a passage of fiercely tempestuous noise and back to the vocals. To be fair, it sounds nothing like the straight-played This Bitter Earth songs, but a transcendent appeal is mutual to both works.
We’re not entirely sure why the state of Schwitters banned recording of his classic, dadaist sound poem Ur Sonate, but Duncan either does/doesn’t give a fuck and so here it is in its psychotomimetic glory, 23 minutes of alien tongue joined by a 14 -part chorus, produced by Yelena Mitrjushkina for Narkissos Contemporary Art Gallery, Bologna, in Duncan’s adopted home city.
On-U Sound compile the first four albums - plus a bonus disc of unreleased dubs - from Adrian Sherwood and Lincoln “Style” Scott’s Dub Syndicate nearly 20 years since any were available on CD. Packaged in fine style with a 24-page booklet of archival photos and notes by On The Wire host and font of all dub knowledge, Steve Barker, consider it a definitive survey of early Dub Syndicate.
Disc 1 fixes up The Pounding System  with extra cut, Gather At The River (Bonus Track); Disc 2 features One Way System , including Blood Shed Dub as a bonus; Disc 3 is North Of The River Thames  with Doctor Pablo’s Pablo’s African Blood addendum; Disc 4 is Tunes From The Missing Channel ; and Disc 5 holds Displaced Masters, a collection of entirely Unreleased Versions From The Vault.
Joachim Nordwall’s iDEAL catch Bob Bellevue, sound guy for NYC’s ISSUE Project Room, working hard at the biting point of electro-acoustic feedback with Yamaha Deluxe - a continuation of the powerful, element beauty contained within his Damned Piano 2CD for Anarchymoon Recordings.
Using the Yamaha CFIIIS PE Grand Piano alluded to in the title as a sort of resonant tone generator, Bellevue applies a matrix of speakers, amps, pickups, contact miss, microphones, pedals, and a laptop running SuperCollider, to render the instrument as hardly heard before, wrenching out something more akin to a Stephen O’Malley solo guitar performance, or even an imagined O’Malley duet with Reinhold Friedl.
The session breaks down to five uncompromising live performances, banking a mass of complex, reverberating harmonics from shearing hi-register tones to guttural subduction in the 1st part, then with a more patient temperament in the 2nd, making the grand joanna sound like a primeval, wounded beast in its dying minutes. The 3rd section expresses 20 minutes of liminal, Drumm-like tone control calving into cavernous growls and thunder, and the relatively brief part 4 transitions from barely perceptible bass presence to bone-rubbed shudders, with the 5th track expanding that aesthetic to sound like a location recording made in the bowels of sunken warship.
What does the sun sound like? L’Orange, L’Orange, Gregg Kowalsky’s (Date Palms) first solo album in eight years, might have the answer.
"Its vivid music – sourced from analog synths and mixed on a laptop – arrives in rays of sound that shine skyward. There are many moods in each track, but the overarching aura is one of brightness and optimism. Hence the album title, which nods toward the radiant hue of our life-sustaining star.
The warm atmospheres of Miami (his birthplace) and Los Angeles (his home of 3years) infuse the luminous ambience of L’Orange, L’Orange. Kowalsky points to the album’s second track, “Maliblue Dream Sequence.” Its lapping synth waves mirror the time he spent working on the record at a friend’s home in the beachside city of Malibu. But you can hear echoes of blue “Tuned to Monochrome,” to the rising rhythm of “Pattern Haze,” to the sandy layers of “Ritual Del Croix.”
L’Orange, L’Orange isn’t just about brightness and bliss. It’s also about engrossing your mind – creating an omnipresence not unlike that shiny orange orb whose ubiquity defines our days and whose absence fills our nights. For Gregg Kowalsky, music can have that same kind of overpowering effect. The sounds of L’Orange, L’Orange can calm your nerves, warm your mood, and maybe even enlighten your mind."
Definitive compilation drawing together the original Digital Soundbwoys of Jamaican Dancehall culture, compiled with the help of Steve Barrow.
Reggae music is made to be played in the Dancehall, it is a functionalist music of the highest order and in the early 1980's when producers started switching onto digital instrumentation, and found they could produce far more powerful and effective sounds to play on their friends rigs, the whole culture of Jamaican music changed irreversibly.
This first volume of the two part vinyl set collects a wicked selection of out-and-out classics from Yellowman's 'Bam Bam', Tenor Saw 'Pumpkin Belly', Chaka Demus & Pliers' international 1992 hit 'Murder She Wrote', Junior Murvin's nut crackin' 'Cool Out Son', Ini Kamoze's Taxi sound special 'World A Music', Cutty Ranks' 'Chop Chop' and tonnes more nice-up sounds. Of course there's the obligatory and massively interesting liner notes too from Steve Barrow and the glorious full colour picture sleeves in classic Soul Jazz style. If you're into any form of dance music today, you really have to pay your dues and invest in this wicked set of pure dance history.
Call Super cocks a 2nd album of increasingly squirrelly electronics for Houndstooth, secreting the glittering nuts and bolts of his sound in a more fluid and dynamic brand of ambient techno mechanics.
Arriving three years on from his Suzi Ecto album, and a string of well-received DJ sets, solo 12”s and a collaboration with Beatrice Dillon over the interim, Arpo gathers Call Super’s recent studio thoughts in one place, coursing from mercurial IDM to jazzy flights of fancy and oneiric electro with a meticulous production style that’s become his trademark.
The ghosts of the 4th World, Red Planet martians, Irdiallian enigmas and golden era Warp haunt Arpo’s diffuse dimensions from the first chimes and clarinet plumes of Arpo thru the smoky electro-jazz of Out To Rust, following a silvery thread of logic that weaves between early hours dancefloor mindsets and late hours home listening from the glitchy hunch of OK Werkmeister to the sloshing brownian glitter of Music Stand, embracing Ethiopiques jazz in Arpo Sunk, and gently insistent future electro-funk with No Wonder We Go Under, and the hyaline electro-soul rubs of I Look Like I Look In A Tinfoil Hat.
RVNG Intl parse Pauline Anna Strom’s incredible new age recordings on this collection of boundary-smudging synth journeys, containing material originally released between 1982 and 1988. They've spent almost a decade trying to bring this collection to life, kudos to them once again for compiling and conceiving it with so much care and attention to detail.
Drawn from seven obscure tape and vinyl releases made between 1982 and 1988, Trans-Millenia Music lives up to its mantle with a sense of ancient knowledge transposed into the contemporary future of the 1980s, realising a latent, transcendent sound that was perhaps just waiting for technology to catch up so it could speak freely.
Through the circuitry of pioneering synth tools, the blind composer and keyboardist from San Francisco feels out a spectrum of unfathomably celestial and synaesthetically-heightened sound colour along myriad, psychedelic vectors, haptically connecting diffuse spatial coordinates with a gossamer web of FX and morphing filter envelopes.
It’s music for oceanic introspection, beckoning listeners to fall deep inside themselves and diffract profound visions through their own lens, where you can interpret her descriptions of sonic flight in Crusing Altitude 36,000 Feet and In Flight Suspension, or decode the entheogenic synth voices of Mushroom Trip according to your own understanding of the cosmos and its play of energies, and draw your own meanings.
Gorgeous music, highly recommended if you're into Suzanne Ciani, Laurie Speigel or indeed Midori Takada.
Restored and remastered by Chris Carter from 24bit 'baked tape' digital transfers of the original first generation analogue master tapes.
The tragic death of Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson earlier this year signalled the end of Throbbing Gristle, whose surviving members are currently working to complete their final album before retiring the name. It couldn't be a more appropriate time to revisit their revolutionary records of the 1970s and 1980s, remastered by Chris Carter and reissued on Industrial Records.
Their first proper album, The Second Annual Report is essentially an edited collection of live and studio takes, and still sounds fresh and uncategorisable. 'Slug Bait' has lost none of its transgressive power: the ICA recording foregrounds Genesis P.Orridge's gleefully macabre lyrics (inhabiting the mind of a particularly nasty murderer), while the shorter Southampton and Brighton versions emphasise the minimal synth drones and sampled voices. 'Maggot Brain' sounds like 60s psychedelia that's taken a wrong turn and ended up in hell, while 'Live At Rat Club London' is probably the closest thing on here to the common conception of industrial, all disorientingly looped spoken vocals, brutally mechanized percussion and needling synthesizer jabs, while 'After Cease To Exist''s oppressive atmospherics - taking up an entire side of the original LP - pretty much gave birth to the entire dark ambient genre. The comparatively bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Kraftwerk-influenced single 'United' - the tune that ushered in a million inferior cold wave pop bands - is included along with its gloriously compressed and distorted B-side 'Zyklon B Zombie'.
It's insane to think The Second Annual Report came out in '77, the same year as Never Mind The Bollocks. Pause for a moment and reflect on that, then press the buy button.
Phantasy release ‘Reworks Volume 1’, a comprehensive collection of remixes from prodigious DJ and producer Erol Alkan.
"‘Reworks Volume 1’ is a musical overview of what makes Erol Alkan one of his generation’s most iconic remixers. Framing a corner of his career in perspective - a success in taking on any source material and melding it into something of his own. Alkan’s philosophy towards a remix is to ‘re- produce’work as if the original never existed. Avoiding methods like the transplanting of a vocal on a contemporary dance beat, or adding a four-to-the-floor 808 kick drum underneath a rock band, Alkan instead takes a considered approach to build something new that offers a fresh and divergent take on the music in front of him.
This collection of reworks illustrates that his distinct style of remixing is just another layer in what makes Erol Alkan unique to dance music. Unpredictable but equipped with a Midas touch - you never quite know what’s coming but you can count on it to be special, a quality shared between both his DJ sets and his production work. Erol Alkan is a dance music artist with an alternative sensibility, a psychedelic approach and a punk outlook - what makes him stand apart in dance music is what makes him one of the genre’s most enduring and influential artists.
‘Reworks Volume 1’ looks back on over a decade of realigning other artists, including his classic versions of Justice’s ‘Waters Of Nazareth’, Connan Mockasin’s ‘Forever Dolphin Love’ and Death From Above 1979’s ‘Romantic Rights’, remixes that have added new perspective and dimensions to the originals, at times performing alchemy, turning rock into dance music on reworks for Franz Ferdinand, Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and he’s just as comfortable taking on fellow dance music producers like Lindstrøm, Daft Punk and Hot Chip - a connection which lead to the classic rework of ‘Boy From School’."
Following last year's ‘Previously Unreleased’ album and its run of nine weekly 12” vinyl EPs, Trevor Jackson has compiled a second volume of 20 tracks (11 unheard and 9 previously vinyl only).
"The music featured is a collection of reworked demos and unreleased recordings. A hedonistic mix of raw Disco, Dub, Funk, Dancehall. Electro, New Wave & Post Punk that all still sound as relevant today as they did when initially recorded for the debut PLAYGROUP album during 1997 - 2001."
Out of print for 17 years, this double CD features collaborations with Coil, Diana Rogerson, Jim O'Rourke, William Bennett, Legendary Pink Dots, Foetus, Current 93, David Tibet, Tony Wakeford, Inflatable Sideshow, Aranos, Chris Wallis/Peat Bog and Tiny Tim.
NWW’s Steven Stapleton corrals 15 of his collaborations with Coil, Stereolab, Diana Rogerson, Jim O’Rourke, William Bennett, Legendary Pink Dots, Foetus, Current 93, David Tibet, Tony Wakeford, Inflatable Sideshow, Aranos, Chris Wallis/Peat Bog and Tiny Tim on the first, long out-of-print volume of The Swinging Reflective, offering a perfect opportunity to catch up for anyone who copped the recently released 2nd volume.
Max Richter’s soundtrack to Disconnect 
Featuring Jason Bateman and directed by Henry-Alex Rubin. Probably best known and loved for the lump-in-throat strings of the lead track, On The Nature Of Daylight, which has become one Richter’s standout moments in a catalogue littered with beauties.
First ever vinyl edition of Justin Broadrick's crushing industrial turns as JK Flesh for Hospital Productions, combining the Suicide Estate and Antibiotic Armageddon releases for a greyscale spectrum of brutalist techno / abyssal acid dub / tramadol tribalism / noxious noise textures that's highly recommended if you're into Regis, Birmingham at night, Kareem...
It's an unflinchingly bleak representation of the world described in hard edged techno and shot thru with moments of affective, synthy pathos. In sonic and literal tone, the record forms a stark reflection on Justin K Broadrick Brummie stomping grounds, using demolished tower blocks as cues for some of the album’s most affective moments, such as the wrecking ball assault of Bayley Tower [New Mix], the rubbled rolige of Stoneycroft Tower, or the ‘marish zumby techno lurch of Bromford Bridge Estate, and all in a way that surely dovetails with the perceptions of anyone who has lived in a built up British area, or anywhere else with lots of concrete and little sunlight.
The other half of the tracks are taken from and titled in reference to Antibiotic Armageddon - the inevitable point when pill-gobbling citizens of the world are no longer protected against old viruses, and new ones. The tone of these cuts is understandably bleak af, too. Tamiflu dry-wretches a windswept passage of bummed-out dub techno breaks, where Squalene [New Mix] glumly follows suit with the clammy synth malaise of Ethylene Glycol and the knee-buckled crawler Thimerosal, which sounds like one of his Godflesh tracks in the process of terrifying itself to death.
Heartless is the new album from Brock Van Wey's epic ambient guise bvdub.
"Those who have been able catch him live have found themselves undoubtedly immersed in sound. With Van Wey's “ebb“ warmly cradling you in juxtaposition to the “flow” that teeters near the thresholds of human aural acceptance. There is no denying it, he excels at and revels in filling spaces with swirling waves of emotive tone. Heartless, for those keeping track, is his 29th bvdub album, origi- nally borne from the intention of reflecting the concepts and experience of a series of live shows from months and years before... a kind of prologue, as it were, that could further explain the painful impetus behind those live forays, and the life he attempted to escape within them.
However, shortly into the writing process, he found Heartless became something more than even he intended: an even greater layered, monumental, and autonomous experience than its original intention - and swept itself into a life of its own.
We've been treated to beat-less bvdub works before, but with Heartless, Van Wey has created something far more monolithic than what has come before it. The album starts as bvdub album's sometimes do: warm washes of sound below the soulfully angelic vocals that Van Wey often gravitates to, this time distant echoes, it seems. But with Heartless this is only your introduction... easing you in before plunging to the deep end. As time passes, what voices existed drown below visceral, amor- phous, unabashed waves of sound that are wholeheartedly more sinister in temperament than his previous works, and the perfect manifestation of n5MD's "heart to hands" ideology."
’90s-styled indie-rock/shoegaze on Big Dada?
“EERA, the moniker of the Norwegian-born, London-based musician Anna Lena Bruland, will release her debut album Reflection Of Youth via Big Dada. Today she shares two tracks, “I Wanna Dance” and “Christine”, showcasing two facets of the upcoming, much anticipated Nick Rayner-produced record. On the upbeat “I Wanna Dance”, the pressures of modern life - financial, romantic and existential - are kept at bay by intervals of good, old-fashioned hedonism. “Christine”, a gentle song about courage, advice and family, is the album's emotional core.
Reflection Of Youth - which was recorded in a studio on a working dairy farm deep in the wilds of West Wales as well as in the producer’s home studio in Cork, Ireland - is an album of visceral beauty and blistering honesty. It is a brave, candid and uncompromising record about finding purpose from confusion and strength in your weaknesses. It’s about learning how to work through your problems and take charge of your own life, instead of relying on others to do it for you. Its ten songs were largely composed in the small hours of the night and are arguably best experienced in that context, when soul-searching and introspection come naturally.
For Anna Lena, the album is a document of a tumultuous chapter in her life. It’s very much about living through your twenties, which in Norwegian society are “the years when you’re supposed to figure everything out.”
Reflection Of Youth follows the release of last year’s eponymous debut EP which received radio support from Huw Stephens (BBC Radio 1), Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft (BBC 6 Music) as well as critical praise from the likes of The Sunday Times and Time Out New York who included “Drive With Fear” in their Best Songs Of 2016 list.
On Reflection Of Youth, EERA’s sound has already evolved into something rawer, rockier and noticeably angrier. "It was a really odd experience to listen back to the record and realise what I'd made," says Anna Lena. "I was surprised by how different, how much more powerful it felt from the EP. Those songs sounded like I was quietly knocking on the door, trying to get in, whereas the album feels like I'm stepping through it." If Anna Lena set out to achieve anything, she says, “it was to make an incredibly honest record that would give people a real sense of who I am. I think it’s important to be vulnerable, to not be afraid of showing emotion and be open about it with the people around you. We all face problems in our lives, so why not meet them head-on?”
James Holden and pals converge on a raucous psych-folk-tronica sound presumably meant for cider-soaked harvest festivals and grazing thru fields of magic mushies. Ecstatically giddy and eldritch-tinted stuff.
“Let yourself be transported to a magical other world of instinct and intuition with this bold new set of synth-led folk-trance standards from electronics guru James Holden and his newly-expanded band of fellow travellers The Animal Spirits. A wild ride that unites the characteristic propulsive melodic vigour of his custom-made modular synthesizer system with an unlikely supporting cast of brass, wind and live percussion, the expansive and transformative psychedelic journey of The Animal Spirits is certainly eternal outsider Holden’s most ambitious work to date – but surely also his most direct and accessible.
Since the release of 2013’s epic pagan saga The Inheritors, the kraut-tinged synth-and-drum core of the live touring outfit assembled by Holden to spread his alternative electronic message around the world has picked up several additional members along the way. Legendary jazz band leaders Don Cherry and Pharoah Sanders provided the blueprint for this quest to assemble “something like a spiritual jazz band playing folk / trance music”, but here cornet (Marcus Hamblett) and saxophone (Etienne Jaumet) function as the complement to the star soloist of Holden’s ever-strident synth. Meanwhile drummer Tom Page’s is inextricably bound to Holden's synth care of self-coded interactive drummer-following software, keeping pace with the almost imperceptible – yet unmistakably human – micro-errors in timing which lend live drums their natural magical groove. Thus Holden’s drummer is liberated from the brutal tyranny of the click track and a new organic symbiotic relationship between human and machine is unlocked. Producer Holden’s creative control over the project is absolute, from building his own synth and software, writing the musical backbone and steering his players, to self-recording, self-mixing and eventually also self-releasing the finished collection on his own imprint.
This heady blend of the electronic and the acoustic came into being during the hot and sticky summer of 2016 under the direction of fledgling band leader Holden at his Sacred Walls studio in London. In a bid to capture what he calls the unfakeable “psychic communication” of a group performance, The Animal Spirits was recorded live in one room together in single takes, no overdubs, no edits, in accordance with his own self-imposed dogma.
What has emerged out of these sessions is a genre-blending new form of universal music that feels inherently fluid and alive. Just one example of the record's wide-ranging influences, the relentless, elastic and hypnotic polyrhythms of 'Pass Through The Fire' grew out of Holden’s 2014 trip to Morocco to work with legend of Gnawa music Maalem Mahmoud Guinia. The first song he wrote for the band, 'Pass Through The Fire' took shape over months of pre-show dressing room practice, as Holden set about transmitting the distinctive Gnawa rhythm to drummer Page. It soon made its way into the pair's live shows, adding Jaumet's on-the-hop improvised sax contributions further down the line. Holden says, "This was where I got the idea that songs are just backbones or seeds and the strong ones teach/reveal themselves to the players rather than the other way round."
Surely the UK’s most prized punk-funk group, Golden Teacher tighten the screws to loosen your hips with No Luscious Life, an instant-classic debut album of seven incredibly infectious tracks getting to grips with all of GT’s worldly influences, and then some.
Since emerging on Optimo Music to a round of acclaim in 2013, the band have revealed their Green Door Studios home to be an unparalleled hotbed of creativity for themselves and Glasgow’s finest freeks, but arguably keeping a neck ahead of everyone else thru their untamed diversity and skill at refreshing vintage aesthetics.
No Luscious Lie is the strongest, well-rounded testament yet to their sound, kicking off with the ESG space bounce of Sauchiehall Withdrawal to cycle thru influences ranging from Senegalese talking drums - think Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force on bucky - with Diop, before cooling out with the preppy Detroit funk of Spiritron and the heat-warped Afro-disco soul strut of The Kazimier, reprising the dubby depth of their Dennis Bovell hook-up with Shatter (Version), and playfully bending time ’n space like some Bruce Haack-meets-Craig Leon screwball on What Fresh hell Is This?
Bibio makes his most affective move in a while with the wistful, nostalgic reflections of Phantom Brickworks; an elegant ambient meditation on the intangible aura or spirit that people imbue places with, and vice-versa.
Over the years since Fi, Bibio’s BoC-like (or lite) debut for, we’ve variously heard Bibio as ambient dreamer, soft-boogie whiz, and folktronica bard. However, by swiping away the beats entirely and following his improvisational instincts, Phantom Brickworks seems to dwell at the square root of all those styles, divining and calling forth a ghostly, melancholic spirit which lingered in the background and between the cracks of all his previous releases.
In terms of its autumnal, decayed pallor and silty sense of depth perception, not to mention to obvious themes of nostalgia and memory stimulus, Phantom Brickworks operates in very similar realms of the imagination to The Caretaker, conveying a very particular, elusively eldritch brand of sehnsucht or hiraeth; a feeling that defies concrete description, but you know when you feel it.
No hyperbole; Phantom Brickworks is the loveliest album Warp have released in a while.
While the righteousness of blackness is at the heart of the Rastafarian faith, this collection illustrates how black pride remained a central theme, if not the defining essence, at the very core of all the music created at Studio One Records.
"Black Man’s Pride is the striking new Studio One collection of deep heavyweight reggae featuring Horace Andy, Alton Ellis, The Gladiators, Sugar Minott, The Heptones, Freddie McGregor, Cedric Brooks & more.
In order to understand the centrality of black identity in the music created at Studio One, we need look no further than Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd who, who created the first black-owned record company in Jamaica.
In similar fashion Alton Ellis’s defining ‘Black Man’s Pride’ brings up emotions that are at the heart of many of these uplifting songs. Alton Ellis’ birthplace was the Trench Town ghetto of Kingston, also the birthplace of The Wailers, Ken Boothe and many other Studio One luminaries.
Clement Dodd established a musical empire firmly rooted by the core musicians working at Studio One many of whom came out of the Alpha School for Wayward Boys, run by Roman Catholic nuns, whose luminaries include Don Drummond, Johnny Moore, Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace, Cedric Brooks, Vin Gordon, Tommy McCook & more.Many of the songs featured here come from the transitory phase in reggae at the start of the 1970s. After the exhilaration of Ska and following the cooling down of Rocksteady. While reggae awaited the arrival of roots, Studio One’s vocalists were already producing some of the moodiest music imaginable! Here are 18 heavyweight tunes, both classic cuts and super-rare tunes!"
'The Winds Rise in the North' is a colossal, trance-inducing, yet largely overlooked pillar of 20th century American minimalism.
Regarded no less than a "holy grail" by Keith Fullerton Whitman, it spans 100 minutes of atonal, amorphous string composition scored in four parts for a quintet, here performed by Linda Cummiskey (Violin), Malcolm Goldstein (Violin), Kathy Seplow (Violin), Stephen Reynolds (Viola), David Gibson (Violoncello).
By all accounts Harley Gaber was a colourful fella, a complex American artist, composer and filmmaker who dropped it all not long after release of this 1976 work to become a full time Tennis player and coach. He would return to the arts, and later music, writing soundtracks for his own films before sadly committing suicide in 2011.
'The Winds Rise in the North' is a frighteningly heavy and rewarding master-stroke, giving rise to dense, gripping harmonic overtones which prickle, seduce and get under the skin in a way that few others achieve. Lock the doors, turn off your phone and give yourself two hours with this. You won't regret it.