Maverick electro-acoustic composer Marina Rosenfeld returns to Room 40, host of 2009’s standout ‘P.A./Hard Love’ album, with an investigation of dub plate decay and the haptic, physical interaction of skin, sweat and grime on acetate, with results recalling Bellows, Stephan Mathieu, early Wanda Group
“For over two decades, New York-based artist and composer Marina Rosenfeld has pioneered a specific language for turntable music, based on an ever-expanding collection of dub plates she creates.
The dubplate is a one-off, hand-cut record. Each dubplate can be made to contain any array of sounds decided on by its creator. For Rosenfeld, her discovery of the dubplate in the late 1990s was a pivotal moment, when she recognised the material instability of the medium as critical tool for performance and composition.
On Index, the investigation of this materiality is paramount. The physical intimacy that colors the relation between the hand and the plate is revealed through a very particular reading of the turntable, one which sits in parallel to the more recognised ways in which that technology has been deployed as a performative tool.
This edition features a series of live recordings and related materials that trace the development of Rosenfeld’s tactile approach and her shifting collection of sound materials. The recordings are published alongside a book featuring extensive archival documentation, photography and a long-form conversation between Marina Rosenfeld and Lawrence English.”
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.
Collection of rare and unreleased tracks by the influential English experimental group Contrastate.
"This follows on from the sold-out compilation "False fangs For Old Werewolves" showcasing a dark ambient realm of spoken and sung soliloquies, driven machinery, evolving drones and electronic minimalism to create juxtaposing imagery and dreamlike landscapes. Active from the late 1980s through to the present day Contrastate provide a sonic soundtrack to a hypnotic world full of dynamic sounds and emotional shifts.
Their sound insinuates itself somewhere inside the dark ritual ambience of the electronic avant-garde shot through with a vein of experimental noise and sarcophetic vocals strewn amongst industrial surrealism. Includes a remix by Ralf Wehowsky. "Contrastate achieve an amazing equilibrium between organic sound and brooding electronics" (Heathen Harvest). Gatefold oversized mini-LP sleeve with a four-page booklet containing detailed (mis)information on the history of each of the tracks."
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds have produced a truly prodigious quantity of material in their 30-plus year recording career, a fact that is highlighted by this huge, 3CD collection of B-sides and rarities.
Spanning everything from the obligatory BBC sessions through to limited edition B-sides and previously unreleased studio material, this career straddling cross-section will act as a treasure trove to signed up members of the Cave fan club, yet will be just as accessible to those for whom the Bad Seeds have always been a peripheral musical entity. Exhibiting why they can headline the main stage at Glastonbury one week then put in a curate's egg performance at some back alley club the next, 'B-Sides and Rarities' shows that music can be esoteric and intelligent without sacrificing its listenability. With Cave's peerless recasting of 'What A Wonderful World' as an after hours, caliginous beast, you soon find yourself getting sucked in to Cave's strangely borderless realm. Gems include the fiercely polemical acoustic version of 'Jack the Ripper', the previously unreleased original casting of 'Where the Wild Roses Grow' featuring Herr Bargeld in the role Kylie would later assume and the full orchestral pomp of the (again unreleased) 'Red Right Hand', a song written for the soundtrack of Scream 3 (you read right...). Not even mentioning the studio out-takes of 'Sheep May Safely Graze' and the utterly heartbreaking piano-led melancholy of 'Little Ghost Song', 'B-sides and Rarities' is exactly what a collection of extra material should be; welcome, intriguing and utterly refreshing.
PART I CD1
1. Deanna (Acoustic Version)
2. The Mercy Seat (Acoustic Version)
3. City of Refuge (Acoustic Version)
4. The Moon Is in the Gutter
5. The Six Strings That Drew Blood
6. Rye Whiskey
7. Running Scared
8. Black Betty
10. The Girl at the Bottom of My Glass
11. The Train Song
12. Cocks 'n' Asses
13. Blue Bird
15. God's Hotel
16. (I'll Love You) Till the End of the World
17. Cassiel's Song
18. Tower of Song
19. What Can I Give You?
PART I CD2
1. What a Wonderful World
2. Rainy Night In Soho
3. Lucy (Version #2)
4. Jack the Ripper (Acoustic Version)
5. Sail Away
6. There's No Night Out in the Jail
7. That's What Jazz Is to Me
8. The Willow Garden
9. The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane
10. King Kong Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-O
11. Knoxville Girl
12. Where the Wild Roses Grow (Original Guide Vocal Version)
13. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 1
14. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 2
15. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 3
16. Time Jesum Transeuntum Et Non Riverentum
17. O'Malley's Bar Reprise
18. Red Right Hand (Scream 3 Version)
PART I CD3
1. Little Empty Boat
2. Right Now I'm A-Roaming
3. Come Into My Sleep
4. Black Hair
5. Babe, I Got You Bad
6. Sheep May Safely Graze
7. Opium Tea
8. Grief Came Riding
9. Bless His Ever Loving Heart
10. Good Good Day
11. Little Janey's Gone
12. I Feel So Good
13. Shoot Me Down
14. Swing Low
15. Little Ghost Song
16. Everything Must Converge
18. She's Leaving You
19. Under This Moon
B-Side And Rarities Part II was compiled by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis and features 27 tracks from “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” in 2006 to 2019s “Ghosteen”. Also features 19 rare and unreleased tracks including first recordings of ‘Skeleton Tree’, ‘Girl in Amber’, ‘Bright Horses’ and ‘Waiting for You’."
A1. Hey Little Firing Squad
A2. Fleeting Love
A3. Accidents Will Happen
A4. Free To Walk (With Debbie Harry)
B1. Needle Boy
B2. Lightning Bolts
B3. Animal X
B4. Give Us a Kiss
B5. Push The Sky Away (Live with The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)
A1. First Skeleton Tree
A2. King Sized Nick Cave Blues
A3. Opium Eyes
A4. Big Dream (With Sky)
A5. Instrumental #33
A6. Hell Villanelle
A8. Life Per Se
B1. Steve McQueen
B2. First Bright Horses
B3. First Girl in Amber
B5. Heart that Kills You
B6. First Waiting for You
B7. Sudden Song
NZ underground legend Roy Montgomery's third album this year is his darkest yet. 'Rhymes of Chance' is moody dream pop in the mode of Scott Walker or Talk Talk's Mark Hollis = gorgeous, singular music.
'Rhymes of Chance' is a minimalist pop monster, featuring some of Montgomery's most viscerally tear-jerking material. The first side is taken up with the six-part epic 'Rhymes of Chance'; the first two parts feature Montgomery on vocals, wailing over his patented shimmering guitar clouds. It's affecting, melancholy music that only takes on more character when regular collaborator Emma Johnston is brought into the fold on the fifth part.
Johnston's finest moment is on the flipside's 'Losers March' though, a loosely swung, organ-led dirge that sounds like folk music for the ferry ride down the river Styx. It's almost like Beach House on -8%. On closing track 'Aspiratory', a dedication to Mark Hollis, her voice is pulled to pieces by Autotune and frozen in time over bellowing, skyward drones. This is bizarre but unshakeable music from an underground original - if you enjoyed the last two installments "Island of Lost Souls" and "That Best Forgotten Work", you're gonna need this. Montgomery is still an underrated, overlooked treasure, we feel constantly blessed that he's gifting us with such a bounty of new material.
"M_Sessions" is offering some rare originals by Mania D., Malaria and Matador for the 40th anniversary, as well as contemporary versions performed by Monika Werkstatt.
"Monika Werkstatt seemed the perfect choice for new interpretations. Founded in 2015, comprising female electronic musicians and producers from the entourage of Monika Enterprise and Moabit Musik. The loose collective played dozens of improvised concerts around Europe and released a studio album and live recordings in everchanging artist constellations.
The M_Sessions involved Pilocka Krach, Beate Bartel, Midori Hirano, Mommo G, Lucrecia Dalt, Antye Greie-Ripatti, Natalie Beridze, Annika Henderson and myself. Here the form of interpretation is focussing on keeping the freedom of their improvised work and adapting it to the collective appropriation of songs. I cannot imagine a better reinterpretation of the material with its real life ups and downs and with its enthusiasm.
The original core team of Beate Bartel, Bettina Köster, Manon P. Duursma and myself selected "Rare Originals" from the repertoire of the 3 bands where we saw special relevance and beauty - these tracks are on LP2. We rediscovered live tracks, living room recordings and demo versions from our times long gone. (G.Gut)"
Cornwall's Mildred Maude new album for Sonic Cathedral.
"Three seemingly disparate characters – Matt Ashdown (guitar), Lee Wade (bass) and Louie Newlands (drums) – Mildred Maude are named after one of their grandmas and play an improvised noise that always seems to be teetering on the edge of chaos, but something incredibly beautiful at the same time, like a cross between Sonic Youth and Slowdive. It is utterly thrilling.
Sleepover is their second album and bears the influence of Stereolab, Can, Butthole Surfers, Yo La Tengo and Sun Ra, among others, with three of its four tracks being over 10 minutes in length. ‘Trevena’ is the loping opener; ‘Elliott’s Floor’ initially turned into My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Only Shallow’ by mistake and on the vinyl version it never ends, thanks to a locked groove; ‘Glen Plays Moses’ crosses a Red Sea of sound and is just epic in every way.The odd one out is ‘Chemo Brain’ – just under three minutes of Fugazi-esque frenzy, named after a side-effect of bassist Lee’s cancer treatment. The album artwork is also inspired by this – it’s a molecular model of cyclophosphamide, one of the drugs he was given.Mildred Maude’s DIY approach has been the only way for them to get anywhere in Cornwall, where they say they feel more in tune with Aphex Twin, Luke Vibert and the Rephlex Records crowd from the 1990s than any current scene. They do, however, unintentionally have something in common with the medieval Miracle Plays that would take place in the Duchy. “They were notoriously noisy to attract people to them,” explains guitarist Matt, “but were also events that brought communities together, and we like our live shows to have a sense of togetherness.”
Matt says he is also inspired by historic places of worship. “There are some great places in Cornwall such as St Just Church and the open air Gwennap Pit in Redruth. It’s these beautiful spaces that I try to imagine we’re in when we’re playing live – so it’s fitting that we’re releasing this new album on Sonic Cathedral.”"
Roberto Carlos Lange’s beautifully beatific Latinx pop-soul warms the cockles on his debut Helado Negro album for 4AD; a slow burn celebration of his South American heritage and nostalgia for the ’80s club music he grew up with
In loving pursuit of the style he’s developed over handfuls of albums for Asthmatic Kitty and more recently RVNG Intl., ‘Far In’ sees Helado Negro further burnish his rose-tinted sound with a sense of intimacy that stems from spending lots of time at home and getting deeper into his sound during lockdown. Referencing a “youth growing up in South Florida listening to 80s club songs, and their return sampled in 90s hip hop”, his 15 songs wash over one with the wooziest daydreaming quality, knitting languorous Latin rhythms to shimmering melodies in a way that, to our ears at least, somehow feel like christmas in a warm place, everything soft focus and lilting with a perennial familiarity that’s seductively disarming and effortlessly comforting.
Typically sung in his bilingual mix of Spanish and english, no matter which language he chooses, Lange’s music conveys the feeling clearly. In key with the notable refinements of his songwriting style over the past decade, ‘Far In’ reaches a new high watermark of classicism as he enters his 3rd decade of releases, nesting a melange of nods to Tropicália, Fleetwood Mac and Beck in his butter smooth transition from the strolling strums of ‘Wake Up Tomorrow’ with its harmonious vox by Bon Iver and Kid Cudi collaborator, Kacy Hill, thru to the glyding yacht rock disco of ‘Aureole’ and the gently insistent dreambop of ‘Outside the Outside’, with bucolic semi-acoustic magic in ‘Wind Conversations’ and Mazzy Star-like tristesse of ‘Thank You Forever.’
Iconic Japanese experimentalist Phew returns to Mute for first time in 30 years with a haunted and strung out set of barely-there vox and submerged synths
“Rising to prominence with the art-punk group Aunt Sally before her first solo release in 1981, recorded at Conny Plank’s studio in Cologne with Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, Phew isn’t about to go soft on us.
“I wanted to exclude sentimentality,” she says of New Decade. “With the situation at the moment, I’ve got it lucky. Last year, in particular, just being alive was kind of a lucky state of affairs. Being able to openly express how you’re feeling, in spite of all that, is a sort of privilege you have as a musician or artist, and I felt like I shouldn’t abuse it.”
This has been a guiding principle for Phew in recent years, as she has amassed a body of solo work that melds her signature vocals with febrile, droning synthesisers and drum machines. Already well accustomed to working in isolation at home, keeping her voice down in order not to annoy the neighbours, New Decade is a stark and haunted album, populated by voices that intone empty pleasantries in English and Japanese or manifest as wordless shrieks and groans, against a backdrop of fractured, dubbed-out electronics.
Phew explains that there’s a loose concept running through the album, relating to the perception of time. “During the ’80s, and up until the ’90s, things progressed along a line from past to present to future, but I think that’s changed, especially since the start of the 21st century. Personally speaking, I’ve stopped being able to see a future that extends from the present.”
This is reflected in the unplaceable character of her current work. It’s not deliberately retro in the manner of many analogue synth revivalists, nor does Phew waste time trying to catch up with the latest trends. It’s music out of time, resonating to its own peculiar frequency.
‘-io’ is the sixth album by vocalist and composer Haley Fohr, best known as Circuit des Yeux.
"A celebrated figure in Chicago’s music community, she has released acclaimed albums via De Stijl, Thrill Jockey, and Drag City and toured throughout the world. However, '-io' is Circuit des Yeux’s most ornate and elaborate work to date – a set of compositions that nest Fohr’s otherworldly four-octave voice amid a 24-piece string, brass, and wind ensemble. The album was put to tape last fall by Cooper Crain at Chicago’s Electrical Audio studio and mixed by Marta Salogni (Bjork, Holly Herndon) with Fohr acting as arranger and producer. Written in the wake of personal loss and recorded in the midst of the pandemic, '-io' maps a geography of grief – a place where “everything is ending all the time.” While Fohr’s music has never been short on ambition, these songs are striking in their brilliance and strangeness. On '-io', Circuit des Yeux has delivered a work that is vivid, immense, and fully illuminated."
A collection of tracks from early out of print Jacques Greene 12”s spanning the first 10 years of his career.
"Featuring the classics that introduced him to the world - The Look and Another Girl - as well as collaborations with Koreless and How To Dress Well and two new exclusive “lost tracks from the era”.
Greene has been making music “about the club” for over a decade. His sound has developed into an emotional haze exemplified on his Feel Infinite and Dawn Chorus Albums. Outside of his own releases, Greene has explored his relationship with the club in a variety of contexts, from remixing Radiohead to producing for Katy B and Tinashe and touring with The xx."
Perky but gauzy ‘80s new wave nostalgia by Chris Stewart’s Black Marble. Glistening with vantage-styled hooks and pulsing synths.
“On Fast Idol, LA-based Black Marble reaches back through time to connect with the forgotten bedroom kids of the analogue era, the halcyon days of icy hooks and warbly synths always on the edge of going out of tune. Harmonies are piped in across the expanse of space, and lyrics capture conversations that seem to come from another room, repeat an accusation overheard, or speak as if in sleep of interpersonal struggles distilled down to one subconscious phrase. At the same time, percussive elements feel forward and cut through the mix with toms counting off the measures like a lost tribe broadcasting through the bass and tops of a basement club soundsystem.
Fast Idol is Stewart's fourth full-length album and his second for Sacred Bones. His previous album Bigger than Life was written in the face of cultural shifts in the US, in experiencing these he realised he was not keyed into certain negative sentiments that were bubbling below the surface, which were breaking out into the open. “I chose to try and take the approach of a soothsayer writing from a macro level, trying to find strands of connection between us because it didn’t feel appropriate to create something self referential and gloomy at the time,” he says.
Now, Fast Idol sees him return to a sentiment and process that defined the earlier days of Black Marble, in a return to his intuitive song writing process where songs land as impressionistic snippets of daily conflicts, and people struggle with the challenge of trying to move through the world. “People don’t expect me to be responsible for altering their outlook or mood, they come to hear something that meets them where they are. I trusted on this record that if I stayed in that space and created things from that more mysterious place, it would connect with others.”
Elemental Antarctic field recordings layered and processed to model and evoke the regions’s weather dynamics with hyperreal attention to detail
“From Eugene Ughetti: As Philip was preparing to leave for his second Australian Antarctic Division residency, he invited me to lunch to discuss the possibility of collaborating on a new work. He recounted his first experience on the ice, where the surrounding landscapes seemed to articulate avant-garde percussion works of an epic scale. On this visit, he wanted his field work to explicitly shape the formation of a new performance work with a particular focus on katabatic winds in and around Casey Base station.
Intrigued, I accepted the challenge provided I could create a live performance utilising the same recorded materials of ice, air and water. We undertook an ambitious collaboration with sound, instrument, lighting and industrial designers, a dramaturg and percussionist.
For Polar Force we built an environment, a white inflatable structure reminiscent of a remote research station on the ice. Emanating from outside the space come the complex and foreboding sounds of the natural environment, inside, a live event akin to scientific research in sound occurs. This hour-long performance installation work gives rise to a hyper-realistic sensing of Antarctica, bursting with natural beauty, power and the audible evidence of human impact.”
Clinic's ninth studio album, "Fantasy Island".
"Referencing H.G. Wells’ Things to Come, Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage and Sombrero Fallout by Richard Brautigan, the themes Clinic explore on Fantasy Island are time, music and entertainment. In a (coco) nutshell, Clinic have gone funky disco, broadening their sonic palette with the addition of several new gadgets including an electronic acid bass machine, a 1970s cocktail rhythm unit, a Casio digital horn and space drum."
East Coast minimal wave institution Xeno & Oaklander’s seventh full-length, Vi/deo.
""Vi/deo" further distills their iconic noir synth pop into a streamlined suite of gleaming, graceful retrofuturism. Inspired by ideas of synesthesia, scent, star worship, and obsolescent technologies, the duo of Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride began conceiving the blueprint of Vi/deo while sequestered at their Southern Connecticut home studio during the pandemic. The context of isolation, streaming, and remote dreaming seeped into their chemistry, manifesting as both homage to and me ditation on a certain cinematic strain of technicolor fantasy: the screen as stage, distance disguised as intimacy, where tragedy and glamor crossfade into one.
Opening with the precision synthetic melancholy of “Infinite Sadness,” the album marks a peak fluidity between the pair’s fusion of analog electronics and poetic melody, both refined and oblique, classic but contemporary. Wendelbo modeled her singing on “a young boy in a choir,” alternately holding notes and whispering them, with the lyrics clear, the voice elevated. McBride’s synthesizers serve as the perfect counterpart, tiered and polished, threading fluorescent architectures of a lost audio-visual age. Theirs is a darkwave of reverie and flickering city lights, swooning and sleek, romantic anthe ms for concrete bohemia, cigarette smoke in rainy gardens, and sound as color (“blue is fast and red is slow”). Vi/deo captures the bittersweet beauty of youth and utopias, the wistful transformation from miracle to memory, where love turns unreal and music becomes myth: “Sounds of the underground / Will echo in future days / Feelings of misery / Will fade into the haze.”"
Lone, presents his 8th album – and first in 5 years – ‘Always Inside Your Head’. It marks two major changes, with both a new label and new approach – featuring vocalists for the first time.
"This deeply textural and ethereal artwork is situated high above the clouds, amidst the heavens, occupying a stratospheric state where swathes of synthesized vapour and azure rays sound like a literal breath of fresh air.
A varied selection of music influenced the record, but two main influences were Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine. “I wanted to approach a range of different styles, but attack them from their angle in a way, so for example on 'Inlove2' I tried to imagine what a Balearic / acid house tune might sound like if it were produced by Kevin Shields”, comments Lone.
Another key example of Cutler’s strange but successful combination of elements is the halcyon bliss of ‘Echo Paths’, where his trademark fat drums and love for hip hop meet double-time pan pipes, dub effects and dream pop, mixed into a wonderfully lysergic concoction."
The dub dentist's deep blue 1974 reggae masterpiece bubbles up on a crucial remastered reissue, available for first time since the 2004 pressings on Mark Ernestus’ Basic Replay. Hudson's mood is tormented and dazed - making for a magnificently and deadly serious album that’s hauntingly unique, unmissable, unforgettable.
Renowned among the greatest roots reggae albums of all time, Hudson’s seminal side now sees a necessary, timely reissue. Still brimming with a dusky blues soul and intoxicating atmosphere, it followed a series of solid-gold productions for Ken Boothe, Delroy Wilson, John Holt, U-Roy and many others, and documents Hudson's removal from JA to London, New York studios and transatlantic audiences, inaugurating a sequence of albums - classics like Pick A Dub, Brand, Playing It Cool - which demonstrated his troubled experimentalism was so much better suited to the LP than the cardinal 7" reggae format.
Hailing from a musical family, Hudson trained as a dentist but found his calling in the studio, establishing his own label Imbidimts with a recording of Ken Boothe’s ‘Old Fashioned way’ before going on to work with legendary singers John Holt, Delroy Wilson and Alton Ellis, and toaster deejays U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone, who he produced in a trademark lean and mean, bad to the bone bass and drums style. ‘Flesh Of My Blood’ would come out on Brent Clarke’s Tottenham based Atra label, and marked an early highpoint of his work, melding strong soul influences with reggae proper in a supremely moody vibe that’s lost none of its late night pull.
We advise running straight to the flickering guitar licks and heads down bass of its definitive centrepiece ‘Darkest Night’, with its ohrwurming chorus for the strongest flavour, also found reduced to essentials on the dub with masterful touches of glaring synth, but anywhere you look, it’s pure gold. From the spectral electro-acoustics of ‘Hunting’ evoking midnight jungle atmospheres, to the lissom reggae soul of ‘Testing My Faith’ and the shimmering depths of his dubwise ’Nocturne (Talk Some Sense Version)’ it’s all cut of peerless cloth and holds treasures awaiting to be found.
Swans’ guitarist Kristof Hahn yields a full course of reverberating drone scapes to Room 40, relinquishing recordings made in the wake of the band’s final shows after reforming. Billowing feedback and amp worship gleaned from an artillery of lapsteel and electric guitars manipulated with loop pedals, at best in the absorbign sonorities of ‘Vogelfluhlinie’ and ghoulish silhouette of ‘My Bed is Spinning’
“Six Pieces, a record that is essentially born from the ashes of the final SWANS reformation line-up tour, uses various found elements, stored loops, thematic notes and other acoustic debris as a means for launching off a series of interrogation into solo guitar composition.
The pieces bare the marks of touring life, sometimes intensely claustrophobic, other moments languid and at times euphoric, each pieces creates a vista of sound that describes a kind of fluid landscape without relying on the perceptual land-marks we might fall back on.
Hahn’s music is one of repetition and unfolding variation, it is unsettled, but never rushed or careless. He knows that music is an art form of time and is not afraid to allow his compositions to build, evolve and finally arrive with a casual sense of hushed determination.”
Wickedly crude but skilful no-input mixing board business from a boss of that discipline, Toshimaru Nakamura
‘Culvert - No Input Mixing Board 10’ is the umpteenth exposition of Nakamura’s improvised and eternally inventive practice since he switched to this style from guitar noise with 2000’s self-explanatory ‘No-Input Mixing Board’ CD. Its 8 parts see him reflect on the hidden waterways that underline his home region around west Tokyo, generating discrete burbling streams of mulched feedback that metaphorically resemble the culverted streams that nobody sees underfoot, yet necessarily course with energy, as in many built environments. In his home region these hidden streams are often topped with artificial brooks that overlay their route like a “double decker river.”
While sitting on a bench beside one of the artificial brooks, Nakamura was prompted to make music that reflects these secret veins. Each of the eight parts gushes with an allegorical brownian motion apt for the concept, and also recalling K2’s torrential forms of junk metal cut-up, but also perhaps implicitly speaking to the threat of rising sea levels which would surely seep up from the Pacific thru these coastal waterways with a destructive attrition akin to this music.
The debut album from Montreal’s Le Ren, released on Secretly Canadian.
"Leftovers stitches together a patchwork of personal songs about different relationships: those we share with mothers, lovers, and friends. Lauren Spear, the artist behind Le Ren, created a physical quilt to mirror the assemblage of stories that comprise her album: a coming-of-age collage that collects over four years of past experiences and finds their present meaning.
Leftovers was originally scheduled to be recorded in LA in early 2020, but the pandemic forced Le Ren to reconsider the kind of album she wanted to make, and how she wanted to make it. Taking the time to revamp old songs and bring the past to bear upon new ones, she distilled years of material into ten tightly executed tracks united by the swooning pluck of her guitar and the crystal clear timbre of her voice. The result is a timeless assemblage of love, heartache, celebration, and lessons hard-learned, written and performed by a musician who has honed the subtleties of her craft.
With its organic yet meticulous folk production and deeply felt lyrics, Leftovers exists outside of trend or time, finding a home among classic icons like Joni Mitchell, Vashti Bunyan, and Karen Dalton, as well as a new class of folk extraordinaires, such as Adrianne Lenker, Jessica Pratt, and Laura Marling. Le Ren writes with a bold clarity that lends her songs the immediate, enduring quality of good stories well-told that, like their album title-namesake, only get better with age. Leftovers is equal parts melancholy, deep love, and levity to lift up the mournful. Le Ren here weaves a rich musical tapestry addressed to loved ones lost, found, and kept that reveals new meanings within a lifetime of relationships."
Tetsuo Furudate's new album, "The Nocturne, The Nightmare and a Fruit" with Keiko Higuchi and Olga Magieres.
"Tetsuo Furudate has been working on projects including electronic music, films, videos creating time passages between old and new pieces, re-reading the past through re-appropriations. All his recent pieces can be watched or just listened to. it is also a cultural mix embracing all eastern and western cultures (from JS Bach to Merzbow).
Here he recreates a borderless and timeless universe, where voices and pianos reach emotional moments of great depth. The whole is driven by Tetsuo who, by a continuous mixing, conceives these different
pieces as an editor would a film made of borrowings images, archives material and unpublished fragments."
Come's 1994 album "Don't Ask Don't Tell" expanded and remastered.
"Come responded to the difficult-second-album stereotype with the hypnotic, intense and emotional masterpiece ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’. Featuring the original line-up of Thalia Zedek, Chris Brokaw, Sean O’ Brien and Arthur Johnson, the Boston band broadened their sound by slowing down the tempos and creating a dense urban stream of consciousness that mixes noise, city blues and… catharsis. The album hits you immediately as one of the greatest dissident records ever made.
Lovingly remastered, this expanded edition includes 'Wrong Sides', an additional albums worth of b-sides and unreleased tracks, including the band's very first single 'Car' and their last recorded song, 'Cimarron', featuring this core line-up. These gems showcase the rawness and incredible growth of a band completely in command of their songwriting and at the same time paying homage to some of their punk roots with beautiful renditions of Swell Maps 'Loin Of The Surf' and X's 'Adult Books'. Also Includes new artwork with unearthed photos and fresh liner notes by the band.
Dissident from traditional rock this is a band playing music that thematically and structurally seems to pull from old Europa, from Eastern folk and modernist classical music as much as US and UK rock. Dissident from traditional ideas about singing and songwriting Thalia’s (ex of Live Skull) presence on songs like ‘Yr Reign’ and the astonishing closer ‘Arrive’ isn’t the pushy self-aggrandizement of a lead singer but the internal voice of the eternal migrant, someone who knows about survival, hiding, how living between multiple worlds can become its own refuge of distance, its own sanctuary of unbelonging Don’t Ask Don’t Tell emerged from a period of cohesion, a break from the tight and hectic touring schedule Come had been plunged into after the acclaim accorded 11:11, and you can hear that increased focus in every moment the layers of guitars and feedback are even more precise, the structuring of songs takes on a new openness and ambition, and the whole narrative arc of the record from ‘Finish Line’ to ‘Arrive’ is more exquisitely realised and sequenced."
One of those releases that makes you feel like no other music exists for a hot minute, Dean Blunt returns with a second Black Metal album for Rough Trade, delving deeper into his unfathomable yet completely approachable and direct take on visceral x melancholic folk-pop. Spoiler: It’s really fucking good.
Aided on most of the songs here by Joanne Robertson’s vocal counterpoint and Giles Kwakeulati King-Ashong’s skittering drums, these songs once again connect to AR Kane’s distinct approach to the avant grade thru imperfection. In effect, it feels like Blunt manages to squeeze all the sterile sheen out of overly tasteful music, leaving a throbbing mass of flesh, blood vessels, nerve endings - exposed and beautiful. It’s what AR Kane called ‘Kaning’ (see Dhanveer Singh Brar’s excellent 'Beefy's Tune’ book for more on this) - and effectively provides a vital riposte to a world in which so much “art" is presented and consumed as a form of numbing.
And that riposte requires no explanation - a personal narative woven with little concession to anything - there’s not even a tracklisting or credits on the physical formats, instead Blunt’s ideas are wrapped up in a succession of first grade earworms, string sections here and there, billowing subs - all melancholy and ambiguous bliss.
"Flaws are discontinuities that act as tiny fissures, allowing the dim and distant, diffused gem light of pre-creation to slip thru - it is this that music existed for - a signpost, a reminder, a note.” Rudy Tambala / A.R. Kane
Black Metal 2 is as real as it gets.
The Mankunku Quartet's 1968 album 'Yakhal' Inkomo' clocks in at just over 30 minutes of jazz perfection. This compact, and to-the-point, album would sit comfortably in amongst some of the best works in the catalogues of any of the quintessential jazz labels such as Blue Note, Prestige and Impulse.
"'Yakhal' Inkomo', however, was originally released on the South African record label World Record Co., which resulted in it becoming an elusive and sought-after piece for jazz collectors. First press copies sometimes fetch as much as £1,000 on the collectors' market. It has been long regarded as one of the finest South African jazz albums and DJ / broadcaster Gilles Peterson cemented this when he included it in his "best of genre" focussed radio show, 'The 20 - South African Jazz'.
On the sleeve notes, Ray Nkwe the producer and the President of the Jazz Appreciation Society of South Africa writes "This is the LP that every jazz fan has been waiting for" and Ray was not wrong, it's a stone-cold timeless jazz classic."
Moor Mother ‘fesses her deadliest fusion of jazz, rap, footwork and “anti-trip hop” on her most satisfying album to date, flanked by comrades including Black Quantum Futurism, Brother May, Pink Siifu, among many others.
Building on a resounding reputation established via her jazz-punk ensemble Irreversible Entanglements and guest spots with Justin K Broadrick & Kevin Martin (The Bug), not to mention scintillating solo sides, Moor Mother now mounts something of a defining opus (for now) with ‘Black Encyclopedia Of The Air.’ Issued by gargantuan US label Epitaph, the record necessarily places Camae Ayewa aka Moor Mother’s patented style of “blk girl blues, project housing bop, and black ghost songs” in a global spotlight, where she holds the world’s gaze over co-production by Olaf Melander, with whom she collaborated on 2020’s ‘Anthology 01.’ Although it mostly swerves the punkish burr of her previous sides, the album finds a concentrated coherence in its soulful intensity, all exquisitely calibrated for the late night experience and rewarding repeat, close listening.
Perhaps best considered in a vein with the avant, blue atmosphere of classics by Tricky or Keith Hudson, but ultimately, wholly unique in its cosmic longview; the album unfurls a rich tapestry of textured, spacious production, where Moor Mother’s protagonist is joined by a variegated roll call who echo her worries. The cuts are as deadly as they are deep, tightly binding her multi-disciplinary styles in neck snap trip hop on ‘Mangrove’ with Euclid and Abntonia Gabrila, and linking Curl’s Brother May for sharp barbs on the outstanding, footwork-feathered highlight ‘Race Function’. At it’s core, the cracked drums and alien reverie of ‘Obsidian’ hits hard and weird, while ‘Made A Circle’ drips with blooz like some hybrid of King Britt and Burial vibes, lit by harmonious vocals from Nappy Nina, Maassai, Antonia Gabriela and Orion Sun, and sublime velvet chords, while ‘Tarot’ is the album’s late, mystic masterstroke of melt-on-mind spectral jazz spirits.
Several years in the making, and marking 20 years of the cult minimalist project, the richly intoxicating ‘Living Space’ sees Eleh pull back from physical pressures to coax out a more natural cadence and way of arranging that reflects the slowness of plant life and discreet, painterly forms of ambient composition, underpinned by those pristine, deadly subs. And yeah, that second track basically sounds like one long extended Reese Bass - we ain't complaining.
“Following ‘Slow Fade for Hard Sync’ (2009) and Location Momentum (2010), Living Space is Eleh’s third physical release for Touch. Seven years in the making, this new release consolidates the artist’s parallel narrative between a series of vinyl and CD releases for Important Records – where the emphasis is on a minimalist aesthetic – to a visual counterpoint that hints at the cinematic and painterly qualities of the music.
Sound, as a healing force, is an idea as old as the medium itself. Inspired by the legacy and above all the spirit of John Coltrane, Living Space features 5 new compositions that seek to express the beauty of slow change, not only through the microtonal shifts in sound that Eleh navigates but moving with the atmospheric and shape–shifting conditions that the music creates as it interacts with the listening space, whether bedroom or concert hall, each one of them unique.
If the ambition of Living Space is to reflect both personal and collective growth cycles, the experience of its audition has the effect of stopping time. Melodic and harmonic progressions are implied and not stated obviously, to enable listeners to apply their own emotions and feelings to the music.
Using modular and analogue synthesisers, piano, organ, bass and symphonic chimes, Living Space stresses the promise of the CD’s final track – ‘Lighter Touch’ – forsaking the forceful hand for an approach that mirrors the slower and softer exposures of plant life and leaf formations, slow moving waters, not flash floods nor forest fires.”
Ghostly debut from Portland, Oregon-based musician Graham Jonson.
"A student of the Stones Throw catalog (his favorite is Madlib’s Quasimoto), Jonson remains rhythm-driven at heart, trusting his instincts in this new palette of organic instrumentation and verse-chorus structure. Tracks glide and bump with tasteful care to tempo as his scene-building and storytelling knack comes into focus. Jonson’s past material often suited passive listenership, the kind of bedroom-produced beat music that offers secondary utility and function as a companion to primary activities. The Long and Short of It showcases an evolutionary step into a style that uses chops cultivated in that niche that demand a more active listenership. That attention is rewarded with earworms, dazzling production flare, and earnest, genre-spanning songwriting."
Don Letts selections for Late Night Tales.
"Cultural polymath - pop star, filmmaker, radio broadcaster, commentator, Grammy winner. Oh and DJ, too. Take your pick from the many coats worn by our selector, Don Letts aka The Rebel Dread.
Born in Brixton, a child of the Windrush Generation, Letts’ slippery and unorthodox career is somewhat hard to define, without taking a few detours around London, New York and Jamaica. He began his working life managing the dauntingly hip Acme Attractions on Chelsea’s Kings Road, where he made a mark with his attitude, dress and, especially, the pounding dub reggae that vibrated the shop’s walls. His first gig as a DJ at the short-lived Roxy in Neal Street, became mythical for turning a generation of punks on to reggae. They in turn hipped him to their DIY ethos resulting in his reinvention as a filmmaker. This led to a shed-load of music videos (Linton Kwesi Johnson, The Clash, Bob Marley) not to mention documentaries on the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, George Clinton and Sun Ra.
There’s a diverse mix of classic and new, with legendary figures like John Holt, The Tamlins and Cornell Campbell, mixed in with British veterans Mad Professor and the irrepressible Dennis Bovell, while (relatively) young striplings Kiko Bun, Emily Capell and Prince Fatty deliver the goods, with laidback Texan groovers Khruangbin also offering an exclusive bass heavy-delight.
The song choices are diverse, from French dubsters’ OBF’s renditions of ‘Sixteen Tons’, the miners’ paean popularised by Tennessee Ernie Ford in the 1950s, to Ash Walker’s refix of Omar’s ‘There’s Nothing Like This’ and ‘All I Do Is Think About You’, immortalised by the ill-fated Tammi Terrell and preserved here by Quantic (the latter two both exclusives). Being a Rebel Dread compilation, there’s a cover (by Wrongtom Meets The Rockers) of The Clash’s ‘Lost In The Supermarket’ while Don’s exclusive, naturally, is a rendition of Big Audio Dynamite’s debut hit, ‘E = MC2’.
“Truth be told I’ve wanted to work with the Late Night Tales crew from the get go. We’re talking nearly two decades such was the allure of their musical aesthetic typified by curators like Nightmares on Wax, The Flaming Lips, MGMT, Trentemoller, Khruangbin and countless others. Now being as old as rock n’ roll (born in ‘56) and having nearly 20 years of Culture Clash Radio under my belt I figured I was tooled up to musically juggle with the best of ‘em. But I wanted to carve out a space that was distinctly my own - something that reflected my musical journey and the culture clash that’s made me the man I am today.”"
A special edition of Tony Allen and Hugh Masakela's 'Rejoice' with previously unheard parts and bonus mixes.
"Rejoice is the classic collaboration between Tony Allen, the legendary drummer and co-founder of Afrobeat, and Hugh Masekela, the master trumpet player of South African jazz. The record, released to great acclaim in March 2020, became the first posthumous release from Masekela, and the last release from Allen, who sadly passed away a month later.
For this Special Edition, World Circuit have gone back to the original 2010 mixes and added previously unheard parts from the 2019 sessions to create 8 reimagined bonus mixes. The CD and LP releases also feature a booklet with sleeve notes and photos.
Rejoice can be seen as the long overdue confluence of two mighty African musical rivers – a union of two free-flowing souls for whom borders, whether physical or stylistic, are things to pass through or ignore completely. According to Allen, the album deals in “a kind of South African-Nigerian swing-jazz stew”, with its roots firmly in Afrobeat. Allen and Masekela are accompanied on the record by a new generation of well-respected jazz musicians including Tom Herbert (Acoustic Ladyland / The Invisible), Joe Armon-Jones (Ezra Collective), Mutale Chashi (Kokoroko) and Steve Williamson."
Legendary master of horror John Carpenter revisits his best-known score on 'Halloween Kills', his first trip back to the franchise since 1982's "Halloween III: Season of the Witch".
Joined by his son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies (son of Dave Davies of the Kinks), Carpenter finally gets a chance to update his sparse 'Halloween' soundtrack. If you've caught any of Carpenter's recent Sacred Bones releases or seen his run of live shows, you'll know what to expect; Davies and Cody have fleshed out his sound without damaging the simplistic brilliance, and that treatment works just as well here.
The DNA of "Halloween" is still present in every cue - from the minimalist five note melody of the main theme to phasing drum machine doom of 'The Myer's House' - and there's not much added except for the occasional jagged guitar fuzz. But there's not much needed; Carpenter didn't need to go overboard here and the cues have been fleshed out without losing their ominous presence. Let's hope "Halloween Kills" director David Gordon Green takes a similar route with the film itself.
Clemens Bacher returns as Cid Rim.
"A psychedelic ride from the Austrian capital, encompassing modern electronics, choral pop and contemporary jazz.
Clemens Bacher's last album, ‘Material’, was awarded BBC 6Music Album Of The Day, achieving as many as four A-list singles. He won a Gilles Peterson Worldwide Award and attended Africa Express with Damon Albarn and Brian Eno. Collaborator to Petite Noir, kmalumkoolkat and Denai Moore, he caught attention with show-stopping mixes for Sky Ferreira, Chvrches and The 1975.
But it is on his own records that we get a sense of Bacher’s scope. Cid Rim grew up the keystone of the vital club scene of Vienna alongside close friends Dorian Concept and The Clonious. For ‘Songs Of Vienna’ he relocated to London and crafted a new formula which reconciles kraut, psychedelia and jazz into detailed electronic pop.
Behind his impressionistic vocals lie themes exploring Vienna’s privileged place in the world: a safe haven for the European project rich with imperial history and culture. It was only here in the early 21st Century that Clemens and his friends could forge this hyper-specific club scene which still refuses category."
Sophomore solo album from Julia Shapiro (Chastity Belt).
"Zorked (adj.) - what happens when you end up thunderbaked, as in extremely stoned or in any situation where you feel not sober. You can feel so tired you’re zorked. In fact, any state, so long as you’re a little out of it, qualifies. And Julia Shapiro, of Chastity Belt, Childbirth, and Who Is She? much like everyone on this earth with a pulse was zorked on more than one occasion in 2020. In March, she packed up her things and traded Seattle’s late-winter gloom for the perennial sunshine and seemingly endless opportunity of Los Angeles only to be forced into near-total isolation. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, she began working on her second solo album, Zorked. On the resulting batch of songs, we’re given Julia’s vision of Los Angeles: a wasteland melting in slow-motion, a place to commune with ghosts and warped legacies.
Living within earshot of a man who spent his entire 2020 singing karaoke for over 10 hours a day, Julia could write, record, and play an album’s worth of instruments without fear of noise complaints. Her roommate Melina Duterte (Jay Som) transformed their house into a viable home studio, making it easy to fully realize the sound in her head, even at the height of a global lockdown. Taking things a step further, Melina agreed to co-produce the record, pushing Julia to make these new songs sound less like Perfect Version, her rst solo album, or like the songs she performs in Chastity Belt. At the peak of her uncertainty and discomfort, she jumped into the deep end in search of something new and found power in heavy sounds.
This is evident in the first few seconds of album opener “Death (XIII).” Taking newfound inspiration from the namesake Tarot card, drone metal, and shoegaze, Julia layers walls of guitars, bass chords, and programmed drums. “Come With Me,”the album’s lead single, takes inspiration from a mushroom trip gone bad. “Take me to awful places now,” she sings, envisioning heat death as her own eyes stare directly into the sun. On “Wrong Time,” shimmering guitars smolder and levitate, yet she finds herself “stuck inside this hole I’ve dug.” That said, these songs aren’t unbearably sad, nor has Julia become any less of a merciless observer of human behavior. By album closer “Hall of Mirrors,” she’s come full circle. Over fingerpicked guitar, the sense of lost identity becomes all-encompassing.
It’s the sound of a life lived in servitude to digital screens and the psychic damage invisibly done along the way.
Though Julia Shapiro found herself in a near hermit-like existence, writing and recording almost all of the album’s instruments herself and struggling to navigate her place in a city and world rendered nearly comatose, she maintains a sense of humor about all of it. At the very least, “It’s funny to force people to have to say Zorked out loud. Any other title sounded pretentious.”"
New album from Valentina Magaletti & co's Vanishing Twin - ‘Ookii Gekkou’ (Japanese for Big Moonlight).
"Vanishing Twin explore new ground on ‘Ookii Gekkou’ incorporating elements of afrofunk, outer jazz and avant-garde, all while referencing Sun Ra to Alice Coltrane, Martin Denny to Morricone, Can’s Holger Czukay to meditative Gamelan, or The Free Design, to library music of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Locked into their strangely-accessible groove is a history of ‘other’ sound, a crafted hauntology that evinces something completely new.
Hurricanes, organisms, vibes, bells, and percussive rallies purvey throughout ‘Ookii Gekkou’, each infiltrated with influences as diverse as Piero Umiliani, Art Ensemble of Chicago and ELO among others. Indeed, even a cursory earful adds to an ever-expanding palette of sound, no mean feat for the newly-trimmed quartet of songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist Cathy Lucas, drummer Valentina Magaletti, bassist Susumu Mukai, and synth/guitar player Phil MFU, this reduction resulting in no fewer ideas and even bigger steps."
Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine release a collaborative album, A Beginner’s Mind.
"A Beginner’s Mind began when the two musicians and Asthmatic Kitty labelmates decamped to a friend’s cabin in upstate New York for a monthlong songwriting sabbatical. Watching a movie to unwind after each day’s work, they soon found their songs reflecting the films and began investigating this connection in earnest.
The resulting album is 14 songs (loosely) based on (mostly) popular films—highbrow, lowbrow and everything in between. They wrote in tandem—one person writing a verse, the other a chorus, churning out chord progressions and lyrics willy-nilly, often finishing each other’s sentences in the process. Rigorous editing and rewriting ensued. The results are less a “cinematic exegesis” and more a “rambling philosophical inquiry” that allows the songs to free-associate at will. Plot-points, scene summaries, and leading characters are often displaced by esoteric interpolations that ask the bigger question: what does it mean to be human in a broken world?
Stevens and De Augustine wrote everything with a deliberate sense of shoshin—the Zen Buddhist concept for which the record is named and an idea that empowered the pair to look for and write about unlikely inspiration without preconceived notions of what a film had to say (The I-Ching and Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies also served as incentives along the way). The movies became rhetorical prompts, with the songwriters letting their distinct reactions and creative instincts govern their process. The underlying objective was empathy and openness, absent of judgment: to observe with the eyes of a child."
Bruno Bavota returns with a new album of electronic explorations and solo acoustic piano works.
"In the early months of 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak ravaged his home country of Italy, prolific composer Bruno Bavota did what we all would eventually do: isolated and waited. What followed was a year of fear, anxiety, and dread. Eventually, fear gave way to fatigue, and the anxiety metamorphosized into nervous energy. The compulsion to create became more powerful than the compression and weight.
And so were born Apartment Songs and Apartment Loops. Representing two separate but intersecting paths of Bavota’s creative journey, Apartment Songs is a suite of sparse solo acoustic piano works, while Apartment Loops are expansive explorations for synthesizers and outboard effects processors. Though in theory the two sets should sound disconnected and unrelated – given their disparate creative approaches and instrumentation – it’s Bavota’s uncanny sense of melody and space that easily unites them as two halves of a singular vision."
Moor Mother, Rabih Beaini, Tim Hecker, Lucretia Dalt, Greg Fox and many more guest on a haunting tribute to the tragedies that have beset Beirut, Lebanon and are ongoing across Palestine and the Levant.
‘Qalaq’ translates roughly from Arabic to “deep worry” in english and signifies Jerusalem In My Heart’s motives on their first album since 2018. Flocking around sole member Radwan Moumneh, a stellar roll call aid in expressing his sound on a lamenting elegy to the geopolitics and tragedies of the middle east, with each artist’s style seamlessly absorbed into his “dismantled orchestra” of collaborations with coherent results guided by a narrative hand.
The album started as skeletal sketches through-composed by Moumneh, and subsequently divided into sections that were sent to his spars, whose decomposed, fractured iterations were rewoven back into the final body of work by the artist. Its first half is sparked off with the rupturous battery of Liturgy drummer Greg Fox, and tempered by JIMH’s haunting chorales and fine wrought buzuk that percolate across the side, meeting Beirut’s shimmering strings in ‘Istashraktak’, and harmonising with Lucretia Dalt on the dirge-like ‘Tanto’.
Side two’s tracks are all named ‘Qalaq’ and numbered to “represent the degrees of layered and complex violence that Lebanon and the Levant have reached in the last couple of years” as Moumneh states. They forge links with other displaced people via indigenous American signer Alanis Obomsawin on the folk lament ‘Qalaq 1’, and Afro-American jazz-punk poet Moor Mother in ‘Qalaq 3’, with Morphine’s Lebanon-born Rabih Beaini lending a cosmic resonance and gravitas to the buzuk study ‘Qalaq 4’, and Tim Hecker’s aetheric swirl found on ‘Qalaq 7’, before Beirut natives Raed Yassin, Sharif Sehnaoui and Mayss’s glitching voices and angular strings connote a clear sense of confusion and disruption.
Beijing duo Gong Gong Gong's genre-melted debut album gets remixed by their fave China-connected producers, including SVBKVLT's Zaliva-D, Yu Su, Howie Lee, Scattered Purgatory, P.E., Angel Wei and more. All over the place, in the best possible way.
On the original album, Gong Gong Gong power through musical genres like Mr. Ben outfits. This remix collection is no different, with each contributor attempting a completely different style. There's Zaliva-D's torched, dystopian club, Howie Lee's electronix-infected Sonic Youth-style noise rock, Yu Su's dubbed-out city pop, Scattered Purgatory's reverberating doom and P.E.'s quirky electro pop and that's only scratching the surface. Beijing is on a tear right now, and some of the world's most exciting sounds are emerging from that fertile meeting-point between global cultures. "Phantom Rhythm 幽靈節奏 Remixed" is an ideal tasting plate.
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.
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
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.
For his Shelter Press debut, Thomas Bonvalet aka L'ocelle Mare presents an album that’s considerably more than the sum of its conceptual parts, constructing "anti-compositions" that are - on the face of it - utilitarian rotations through an array of instruments, with a tracklisting that reads like nothing more than a basic gear list. Through some sort of alchemy, the recordings transform into a poetic body of work, an engrossing sleight of hand that lands somewhere between Pierre Bastien’s mechanical installations and the oblique mysticism of sacred music, buried between the notes.
Since his 2006 debut under the L'Ocelle Mare moniker, Bonvalet has gradually moved away from traditional notions of composition and diverted his attention purely to the textural and timbral quality of sound. His tenure playing guitar in various bands - notably Cheval De Frise and Powerdove - provides the experience needed to isolate his instruments, zeroing-in on the gestures of performance - plucks, strums, vibrations - using them to assemble component parts that are essentially free by design.
Flute, piano, strings and various percussive instruments collide with all manner of effects and assorted sound objects like a telephone, metronome - even masking tape, each recorded and assembled through a no-method process that rejects traditional notions of composition. But while the assembly is for all intents and purposes dispassionate - just take a look at the track names - the resulting recordings are a marvel, gradually building into individual mood pieces that betray a buried instinct for harmony.
Take 'Guitare Classique, Métronome, Tambourins…’ as an example - Spanish guitar, pitch bent, a frenzied metronome, an arpeggio, something rattles - a non-linear, complex rendition, a miracle of sound that lands like the most inspirational film music you’ll have heard in years. Or on 'Piano, Banjo, Orgue, Métronome' - a more angular, interesting take on the sort of thing Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto have tried over a number of collaborative albums - a 3 minute recital punctuated by increasingly agitated piano notes, all moving key changes and brittle strings.
Through its curious construction, 'Sans Chemin’ (literally, ‘without path’) feels to highlight the way our instinctive interaction with harmony, beauty, and dissonance can quickly ignite or extinguish heightened feelings without easy explanation. Perhaps all the pieces here were really made without direction - an aimless meander through sound - or maybe there’s something significantly more intricate and complicated at play. Either way, the result is the same; a richly textured and evocative, often startling transition from chaos and into the sublime, mirroring our own complex existential topographies.
Pioneering post-industrialist Asmus Tietchens returns to his Hamburg worksite recordings of 2010 from a more detached, atmospheric perspective for the Universal Exports label ran by Yves De May, Allon Kaye and Roman Hiele
Where the original ‘Abraum’, or “rubble”, recordings on the 2010 release were pure musique concrète that relished the rawness of what he happened upon (a long steel pipe, 80cm wide, gushing with rubble from a worksite), the five pieces on ‘Abraum 2’ render a far more spacious abstraction that resonates with how the original site of recording has come to change over the past decade.
It’s effectively a meditation on the fidelity of memory and the shifting sands of time, executed with the typical lack of sentimentality one might have come to expect from Tietchens work, but nevertheless intriguing for its stony cold sober approach and meticulousness. Fans of isolationist sonics from Thomas Köner to Mika Vainio will surely be in their element among Tietchens’ rich harmonic resonances and haunting spectral convolutions, with only the barest hints of the original works tying it to any one place.
After their ‘Ballads' doozy for Fleetway Tapes, a now-classic mix by Elaine Tierney & Jack Rollo’s DJ duo Time Is Away surfaces on CD with Idle Press, the boutique label run by esteemed Parisian digger DJ Sundae.
Last year, just before pandemic hit, Rollo and Tierney put together an installation in London - a "suggestive municipal environment, activated by sound, to invoke the ghosts of urban improvement." If that sounds impenetrable, don't worry - the long-time NTS residents instead stitch together a typically immersive and inspired collage of found audio, specially made recordings and drones to express their historical urban landscape. Whether you've experienced the installation or not, the mix itself is completely transportive.
Full of portent and weft with visionary transitions, ‘Fable of the Bees’ melts unfathomably romantic, psycho-spiritual jams with a care and intimacy that's an all-too rare commodity. The duo mix sounds with an unsurpassed level of sensitivity for the complexity of collage, yet they manage to achieve it with little to no fireworks; industrial field recordings feed into organ, flute and distant vocals, brief chants and rituals tumble over chamber recordings and cosmic synths, Akira Rabelais' Hildegard von Bingen treatments disintegrate into folk songs that sound as alien as they do familiar. On paper it just shouldn’t work, but as the duo drip left folk and devotional music into electrified ambient, lo-glo club sounds and negative-space jazz minimalism, an ineffably human logic pulls it all together.
You’ll have to go whistle for the tracklist, just let it go and fall into Time Is Away’s endlessly fascinating sound world - always a trip.
Gabber Modus Operandi, Vessel, KMRU, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Caterina Barbieri, Tygapaw and plenty more offer their own interpretations of Lyra Pramuk's exceptional debut "Fountain" on this bumper remix album. Made up of both new compositions and direct remixes.
While Pramuk's meditative and reflective "Fountain" didn't need any additional assistance, this global collaborative effort is a reminder of its sparkling positivity. The Berlin-based auteur has typically opted for a left-field take on the remix album, offering artists the opportunity to create new work from the roots of "Fountain" or simply sink their teeth into a single track.
Kenyan-born KMRU, who's also currently stationed in Berlin, offers an early highlight with a cross-"Fountain" soundscape that glues Pramuk's elegiac vocals to his own tactile synth fizz and organ-esque low-end bump. And while Hudson Mohawke's expectedly beat-focused rework of 'Tendril' is an avoidable mood-breaker, Kara-Lis Coverdale's fresh composition 'Returnless' is long, lavish and unashamedly glorious, following Pramuk's lead with a trail of purple silk.
Caterina Barbieri also impresses, adding her cascading synth to 'Tendril', while Vessel builds new track 'Fountain (ars amatoria)' out of fragments. Ever the overachiever, Eris Drew contributes not one but two new tracks, the psychedelic, ambient 'Sugarcube Revelations' and dusty house banger 'Everything is Beautiful & Alive'. But it's Indonesian party-starters Gabber Modus Operandi who shuttle Pramuk's music into the most unexpected places on 'Kaca Bulan Baru', a disorientating hi-nrg ritual grounded in Pramuk's sprit-rousing screams.
Portland metal duo The Body join forces with sludgy Montreal trio BIG|BRAVE and the result is... Appalachian folk?
'Leaving None but Small Birds' is an unexpected record. It's a chance for both bands to explore their long-time love of folk and blues music, as they challenge the very idea of what it means to make heavy music. It's an intense sound, but is rooted in American tradition, taking its cues from hymns and folk songs that were assembled and compiled by BIG|BRAVE's Robin Wattie. Once these ideas had been parsed, phrases were reworked to center marginalized characters, focusing on despair and empowerment without losing the inherent traditional qualities of the songs.
The origin of heavy metal lies in blues, so looking at that era and beyond feels like an important and rigorous exploration of the craft, and it pays off. And while 'Leaving None but Small Birds' veers away from both bands' regular sound, it's a profoundly moving record that examines the evolution and history of North American music without blindly relying on third hand appropriation. It's ambitious, challenging and affecting.
Kansas City noise rock trio BUMMER release their Thrill Jockey debut, "Dead Horse".
"BUMMER mirror the absurdity of modern life with a balance of dark humor, dejected nihilism and righteous fury. Their music spills out in torrents of skull-crushing riffs, gargantuan bass and caustic howls delivered at breakneck speed with gleeful abandon. Following their split 7” with longtime friends The Body which teased a more focused, lean sound for the group, Dead Horse hones BUMMER’s auditory desolation and scathing gaze to laser-point precision. In eleven short vignettes the trio lay waste to everything in their path, penning a vitriolic overview of life in the American Midwest, a surprising blend of one-star Trip Advisor review and insightful cultural critique."
Steven Raekwon Reynolds is a singer/songwriter and producer from New York City by way of Buffalo, NY. 'Where I’m At Now' is self-produced and self-recorded (save for drums on two songs, driven by the relentlessness of the East Village and the quiet serenity of Edwardsville.
"The abstractions of his earlier musings transform into a warm wave of genreless coherence, drawing influences from across R&B, rock, folk, and pop to build a record that shines in its quiet spaces as much as its sweeping movements. Simply put, Where I’m at Now is an album where S. Raekwon is no longer invested in hiding. These records don’t contain answers, but signals toward what feels like the right direction. This music serves as a gentle, yet intentional reminder that we only need to be who we are in the moment, and we’re worth becoming who we know we can be."
Piero Umiliani (as M. Zalla)'s 1972 album, "Africa".
"Piero Umiliani's Africa was released in January 1972, a years-ahead record that includes the prog-tinged black rhythm of "Africa To-Day", the 'fourth world' inspiration coming from Jon Hassell's "Green Dawn", the 'exotic' references in Martin Denny's style ("Lonely Village", "Echos"), the electronic new wave (hearing is believing!) of "Sortilège", the folk music ("Rite", "Folk-Tune"). An incredible album summarizes sounds and styles that will make the fortune of much more celebrated and popular musicians and artists."