The venerable Ethio-Jazz composer turned his hand to Afro-Latin fusion in 1966, resulting the perfect balance of slinky sensuality from both ends of that spectrum in ‘Afro Latin Soul (Vols. 1 & 2)’. Seriously, if you aren’t taken by the swinging mix of Elephant calls, sizzling claves and call ’n response vox in ‘I Faram Gami I Faram’, the swingeing drums on ‘Soul Power’, or the suave hustle of ‘The Panther (Boogaloo)’ and ’Girl From Addis Ababa’, we can't help you!!!
“Strut continue their essential work with the “Godfather Of Ethio Jazz”, Mulatu Astatke, with the first official reissues of his early classics ‘Afro Latin Soul’ Volumes 1 and 2 from 1966, recorded as The Ethiopian Quintet.
Arriving after Astatke’s life-changing years studying at Berklee College in Boston, the albums were the first experiments in his pioneering sound, fusing Ethiopian cultural music with Afro Latin and jazz forms. “I have always felt a deep connection between Latin and African music,” he explains. “I travelled to Cuba and listened to their musicians; the tempo, rhythm and feeling was very similar to different African forms. In the mid-‘60s, I formed a band called The Ethiopian Quintet in New York comprising Ethiopian, Latin and Afro-American musicians - the band included trumpeter and pianist Rudy Houston who later played with Yambu and Felix Torres who played with La Sonora Poncena.” Supported by Worthy Records’ Gil Snapper who offered to record the quintet,
Astatke began to experiment during two separate sessions: “We created a different feel and different arrangements. On the first recording, I played an adaptation of an ancient Ethiopian warrior song, ‘I Faram Gami I Faram’ - the lyrics were translated so that the singer could sing it in Spanish. Some compositions were important steps for me: ‘Mascaram Setaba’ (‘Summer Is Coming’) ‘Shagu’ and ‘Almaz’. With the second album, a personal favourite is ‘Girl From Addis Ababa’ which worked very nicely as a fusion of Ethiopian modes and R&B rhythms.” Astatke would start to perfect his Ethio jazz sound on his later album for Worthy
in 1972, ‘Mulatu Of Ethiopia’ (STRUT129) but the two volumes of ‘Afro Latin Soul’ stand as important recordings documenting his early career. “It was a very interesting time to be in New York during the mid-‘60s. I was there at the same time as Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba and Fela Kuti and we each tried to play our part in putting Africa on the map of contemporary jazz.”
‘Afro Latin Soul’ Volumes 1 and 2 come in their full original artwork and are painstakingly remastered by The Carvery. All formats feature personal liner notes by Mulatu Astatke.”
The woozy eldritch charms of Pram return for the first time in over 10 years...
“The return of Pram. Across The Meridian is a celebration of Pram’s unique vision, focused into a beautifully constructed and tautly produced soundworld. Across The Meridian is their first album since 2007’s The Moving Frontier.
As with their previous albums, Across the Meridian mixes instrumentals and songs, weaving a gleeful path through the musical territory of film scores, 30s jazz, sun-drenched pop, electronica, and post-punk experimentation. Haunting and wistful vocals are set to a variety of soundscapes, sometimes appearing as a snatched fragment of the subconscious and dreamlike, at others crafting a story of longing or regret, drawing the listener into Pram’s uncanny world through the mirror. Newcomers to Pram will find a richly detailed collage of influences ranging from exotica, Krautrock and the forgotten film soundtracks that went on to inspire contemporaries Stereolab & Broadcast.
The band convened at the remote Foel studios in Wales to improvise on ideas and record some bases for tracks, before finishing them in their studio in Birmingham. Pram have a working process that has developed over many years and reflects shifts in band personnel and technological advancements. Across The Meridian is a testament to the band embracing these new approaches without losing any of their original allure.
The band line up now consists of Matt Eaton, Sam Owen, Max Simpson and Harry Dawes.”
Toshimaru Nakamura’s improvised Ex Nihilo (something from nothing) approach to the no-input mixing board reaps more alien sounds for Room40, giving voice to electronic gremlins that live in the wires of ostensibly inanimate machines
“Re-Verbed (No-Input Mixing Board 9) is the latest edition from Tokyo based artist Toshimaru Nakamura.
The No-Input Mixing Board is a unique instrument pioneered by Nakamura. As its name suggests, it is a mixing console within which external no input exists. The instrument is fuelled only by its own feedback. Initially used by Nakamura as a more tonal instrument, creating incredibly high frequency outputs, over time the mixing board has become decided more rhythmic and harmonic. It is this sonic territory that is the focus of this edition.
Re-Verbed (No-Input Mixing Board 9) is by far one of Nakmura’s most musical recordings. The board’s tonality is front and centre; low pulses and cavernous pulses fizzle and murmur with a subtle but frenetic energy. Drifting into decidedly dub oriented directions, Nakamura allows the instrument to breathe; specifically he finds new dimensions to the ways interference can be brought into harmony within the pieces. While the instrument might suggest a sense of indeterminacy, Nakamura’s intimate relationship with it means he can maintain an unerring sense of control over it.
Re-Verbed (No-Input Mixing Board 9) is evidence of his intense capacity to create profound work with this most unusual of devices. A conjuring of something truly unique from literally nothing.”
Lost studio album from John Coltrane, features original, never-before-heard compositions, recorded by Coltrane’s Classic Quartet in 1963 at Van Gelder Studios.
"On March 6, 1963, John Coltrane and his Classic Quartet— McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones –recorded an entire studio album at the legendary Van Gelder Studios. This music, which features unheard originals, will finally be released 55 years later. This is, in short, the holy grail of jazz.
The first week of March in 1963 was busy for John Coltrane. He was in the midst of a two-week run at Birdland and was gearing up to record the famed John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman album, which he did on March 7. But there was a session the day before that was the stuff of legend, until now.
On Wednesday, March 6, Coltrane and the quartet went to Van Gelder Studios in Englewood, NJ and cut a complete album’s worth of material, including several original compositions that were never recorded elsewhere. They spent the day committing these to tape, taking time with some, rehearsing them two, three times, playing them in different ways and in different configurations.
At the end of the day, Coltrane left Van Gelder Studios with a reference tape and brought it to the home in Queens that he shared with his wife, Naima. These tapes remained untouched for the next 54 years until Impulse! approached the family about finally releasing this lost album. Though the master tape was never found—Rudy Van Gelder wasn’t one for clutter—the reference tape was discovered to be in excellent condition.
As the legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins so rightly put it, “This is like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid.” The musical implications of this album, the original compositions, the arrangements, the band, the year it was recorded, all amount to a rediscovery and re-contextualization of one of the most important musicians of our time.
Danny Bennett, President and CEO of the Verve Label Group and home of Impulse! records, says, “Jazz is more relevant today than ever. It’s becoming the alternative music of the 21st century, and no one embodies the boundary-breaking essence of jazz more than John Coltrane. He was a visionary who changed the course of music, and this lost album is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. It gives us insight into his creative process and connects us to his artistry. This album is a cultural moment and coincides perfectly with our relaunch of the iconic Impulse! label.”
On this album, there are two completely unknown and never-bef0re-heard originals. “Untitled Original 11383” and “Untitled Original 11386,” both played on soprano sax. “11383” features an arco bass solo by Jimmy Garrison, a relative rarity, and “11386” marks a significant structural change for the quartet, in that they keep returning to the theme between solos, not typical in the quartet’s repertoire.
In addition to the two unheard originals, “One Up, One Down” – released previously only on a bootleg recording from Birdland – is heard here as a studio recording for the first and only time. It contains a fascinating exchange between Elvin Jones and Coltrane.
“Impressions”, one of Coltrane’s most famous and oft-recorded compositions, is played here in a piano-less trio. In fact, McCoy Tyner lays out a number of times during this recording session. It’s one of the more interesting aspects of this session and reflects the harmonic possibilities that Coltrane was known to be discussing regularly with Ornette Coleman around this time.
This studio session also yielded Coltrane’s first recording of “Nature Boy,” which he would record again in 1965, and the two versions differ greatly. The one we know is exploratory, meandering. This version is tight, solo-less and clocking in at just over three minutes. The other non-original composition on the album is “Vilia,” from Franz Lehár’s operetta “The Merry Widow”. The soprano version on the Deluxe Edition is the only track from this session to have been previously released.
This incredible, once-in-a-lifetime discovery reveals a number of creative balances at work, like developing original melodies while rethinking familiar standards. Like trying out some tunes first on tenor saxophone, then on soprano. Using older techniques like the arpeggio runs of his “sheets of sound” while experimenting with false fingerings and other newer sounds. This session was pivotal, though to call it such overlooks the fact Coltrane was ever on pivot, always pushing the pedal down while still calling on older, tested ideas and devices. "
Erased Tapes rounds off its tenth anniversary celebrations with 1+1=X, a set of exclusive music from every artist on the label. Featuring never before heard tracks from Nils Frahm, Kiasmos and A Winged Victory For The Sullen, 1+1=X sees Erased Tapes artists come together to make an album as a collective.
“It was important to create something communal and reflective of our time, to capture something of value using traditional recording techniques, experimenting and reacting to each other in real time, sharing the same space,” says Raths. Between August 2016 and 2017, each artist arrived with a new composition or an improvisation to record at Vox-Ton. Run with much love and care by Italian engineer Francesco Donadello – who has worked on many Erased Tapes recordings before including A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Michael Price and Lubomyr Melnyk – it is one of the few studios left where it’s still possible to record fully analogue, isolated from the city noise and in a room that can fit a large ensemble. Reflective of the communal spirit, 1+1=X is the result of an ambitious undertaking; to create a singular record as a collective, not just a compilation of songs, that celebrates the benefits of community over individuality and improvisation over rigorous planning.
“As much as Erased Tapes probably wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the digital age, we should also remind ourselves of what we are capable of without it,” adds Raths. “1+1=X is a testament of what can be achieved when we work together as a collective, which is more than the sum of what we can achieve as individuals.” The majority of songs on this album feature contributions from multiple performers, whether it’s Nils Frahm duetting on the keys with Arthur Jeffes of Penguin Cafe, Kiasmos being joined by Högni and a string ensemble, Douglas Dare’s one-take ‘Darling’ featuring Rival Consoles on synths, Masayoshi Fujita on vibes and Raths himself controlling the tremolo on his voice. Peter Broderick’s ‘The Perpetual Glow’ meanwhile, brings in a full big band and choir where everyone present, including the studio staff, was invited to grab any instrument and join in. Every song has a unique story and approach – in-themoment decisions and little accidents that could only come out of these kinds of circumstances where people work together in the same space, sparking off each other and their environment. Even Rival Consoles’ remix of Daniel Brandt’s ‘Blackpool Sands Forever’ was conceived of in the studio kitchen during recording breaks.
Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit decided to bring a field recording of the ocean with her, which she had taken near the Fukushima power plant after participating in a memorial ceremony for the opening of the evacuation area. It is also no coincidence that the album opens with ‘Brutal Moderna’ by Qasim Naqvi (Dawn of Midi) and A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s ‘Long May It Sustain’, which were both recorded on the day the U.S. election results came in. “Qasim asked me to read the news headlines with a stutter over the top of his piece. It was an oddly beautiful experience which brought all of us together on a day when spirits were otherwise a bit low,” says Peter Broderick. “I thought this residency was a wonderful idea. In fact I would have loved to be there for more of it. I made some amazing new friends, some stronger bonds with old friends and some wonderful pieces of music that I’m honoured to be a part of. Robert has often described Erased Tapes as a family, and perhaps above all else this was just his earnest effort to bring the family together. I hope we’ll have some reunions in years to come!”
Fortress Crookedjaw’s Black Mecha penetrate psychic defence systems with three tracks of intense mentation electronics published by their Internal Masonry wing. The project only grows stronger with each new release, and this set dispatches their briefest but most powerful transmissions since 2015, when they mutated from Wold into Black Mecha for The Death of Rave release of ‘AA’
Maintaining the inexorable momentum of their Counterforce  album, Black Mecha render their deadliest interplanetary forces in I Sent Sircle, a focussing mechanism for harnessing the power of hyperstition to its user. While many artists speak of a ritual or esoteric element to their lo-fi techno or rudimentary drones, Black Mecha’s alien alloy of elemental Black Metal elements with the purest intent of techno is testament to a genuine force of will, and packs the potential of a locked and loaded crossbow.
The monophonic pineal pinch of Mind Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Rumination seems to emulate the sickening effect of intergalactic travel and battered psyches with its torrid velocity and gut-churn turbulence sustained ’til the bitters. In its sub 2 minute life cycle, the invasive, babbling electronics and utterly burnt out techno chassis of Sigil Circle Cquare does exceedingly strange things to our squashed swede, before I Sent Circle charges the senses in the rarest way, delivering an electrifying jolt of ancient light as dense energy that plays our spine like a xylophone in the court of an interstellar warmonger.
Blindingly strong electronic music. Makes most everything else pale in significance, or at the very least shows it up as the preening vanities of stunted imaginations.
The 15th anniversary reissue of Max Richter’s highly cherished sophomore album expanded with a bonus disc including an orchestral version of ‘On The Nature of Daylight’ and a previously unreleased 2018 take on ‘Vladimir’s Blues’, plus an elegantly rude remix of the same track by Jlin, and a swooning, technoid Konx-Om-Pax rework of ‘Iconography’
"The Blue Notebooks was originally composed in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Richter has described it as "a protest album about Iraq, a mediation on violence – both the violence that I had personally experienced around me as a child and the violence of war, at the utter futility of so much armed conflict." The album was recorded about a week after mass protests against the war. It features readings from Franz Kafka's The Blue Octavo Notebooks and Czesław Miłosz's Hymn of the Pearl and Unattainable Earth. Both readings are by the British actress Tilda Swinton."
Here’s our original review from 2004:
"Max Richter's 'The Blue Notebooks' is the 4th release on FatCat's 130701 imprint, an outlet for more orchestrated, instrumental material. 'The Blue Notebooks' is Max Richter's second solo album, a distinctive and adventurous work that is beautifully recorded and cinematic in scope. Opening with a text from Franz Kafka over a sparse piano melody, the album moves through gorgeous, heart-wrenching string swells of 'On The Nature Of Daylight' through to sparse but lyrical piano pieces; hazy, swirling atmospherics, avalanche pulse-beats and partially occluded melodies that recall Aphex Twin's SAWII; and to reverberant organ / choir recordings.
Utilising piano, cello, violin and viola, alongside electronic beats (made using a variety of antique electronics and Reaktor), spoken word passages and the occasional field recording, other sounds were generated via old guitar pedals and vocoders. Life affirming music."
Brilliant reissue of Maria Monti's Il Bestiario, originally released in 1974 and a prime example of the avant-garde art-song of the 1970s.
"Known for her renderings of Italian popular songs, Maria Monti is an Italian singer and actress with a noteworthy career: cabaret singer in the '60s, ambitious avant-garde folk artist in the '70s, and starring in films by directors as such as Sergio Leone's Fistful Of Dynamite (1971) and Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 (1976).
Il Bestiario is a near perfect emblem of the fascinating territory gained through collaboration. It enlisted the radical poet Aldo Braibanti as its lyricist, features arrangements and synthesizer from Alvin Curran (Musica Elettronica Viva), the baritone saxophone of Roberto Laneri (Prima Materia), as well as the soprano saxophone of jazz legend Steve Lacy.
The result is absolutely stunning, musically unique within the respective outputs of its participants' long and noted careers. Unquestionably one of the most beautiful and neglected albums of its decade."
Gorgeous tribal rhythms vacillate with neo-classical strings and electronic eruptions and gauzy ambient chorales in an effortlessly diverse offering by cellist Teddy Rankin-Parker and composer/producer Michael Beharie, who has appeared on records with Laurel Halo and Greg Fox. LP mixed by Jim O’Rourke and mastered by James Plotkin
“Michael Beharie (New York) and Teddy Rankin-Parker (Chicago) first met more than 10 years ago while attending Oberlin College. Since graduating, Beharie and Rankin-Parker each veered into markedly different avenues. In addition to a consistent output of solo releases on NYC-label Astro Nautico, Beharie also recently joined up with the ever-confounding New York ensemble Zs (Northern Spy, The Social Registry, Troubleman Unlimited), recently performed on albums by Laurel Halo, Greg Fox & Colin Self, and is a regular composer for dance and film. Rankin-Parker became an in-demand cellist for his prowess in the work of improvisation, avant-garde music, and the more exploratory realms of indie pop, lending his talents to a wide array of bands and collaborators, such as Primus, Iron & Wine, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, Glen Hansard, Father John Misty, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Chicago Sinfonietta, and Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble.
But after a decade of geographic distance, the duo came together to write and record its collaborative debut, A Heart From Your Shadow. Rather than jump into stream-of-concious improvisation, Beharie and Rankin-Parker chose to focus the album's themes via intricately composed pieces. The end result could be described as protest music, brimming with intense energy, harrowing anxiety, and steadfast optimism. All of this finished with a few hired hands: produced by Michael Beharie, mixed carefully by Jim O'Rourke and mastered by James Plotkin.
"Intro" sets the grim scene and issues the album's M.O.. A doom symphony of urban anxiety, the song shows the expansive efforts this duo is able to accomplish. "Gully" offers muted mayhem that's highly synchronized and militantly percussive. It's an anguished two-step of hope and hopelessness. The hyper-repetitive patterns almost hypnotize you into a zoned-out stupor. "Icon" is a psych-freakout of sorts, but the bombast is counter-balanced by intermittent breaks of ambient compositions.
There's a deeper layer still, shown in "Smooth Face", equal parts meditatively uplifting and unsettlingly dissonant. Inner and outer anxieties resonate with actual police sirens in a swirl of tonal turmoil. "Fake Money" is a relatively laid-back drift down a river littered with musique concrète, rustic drones and effects pedal. "Roses" veers into backlit kosmische anthems. Midway through the track, things drop out completely into an open, fog-covered scene cloudy with keyboard-vocal tones. Closer "Petaluma" offers a sweet and sincere coda, chasing a fleeting moment of spontaneous beauty.
The orchestration chaos and permeated distortion of A Heart From Your Shadow is largely about healing, not fear.”
The debut album by UK/South African duo Okzharp and Manthe Ribane.
"Okzharp says 'most of the music came out of headphone moments in hotel rooms, planes and airports in the brief periods of time that we spent together, mainly on tour, in Paris and later Vienna', a city Manthe describes as a 'beautiful dream place'.
Okzharp describes Manthe as a ‘co-producer’, ‘she selected instrumental sketches and we developed them together, sometimes just keeping the bare bones or a melody or rhythm, or trying different elements or sounds.
Even thought the album was built long distance, the short periods they spent together were the ground zero for creativity, Okzharp recalls 'One particular moment in Milan last year, ‘we had a whole free day before our flight so we visited the Salone di Mobile design show. We were so
inspired by an installation there just walking around, listening to the amazing soundtrack.
That evening our flight was delayed, so we sat on the floor of the airport terminal putting musical ideas down for 'Time Machine' on the laptop speakers and writing the lyrics. "Tic Toc time, we'll be fine /Airport queues, cerulean blues / Viper trails cross the skies / Lights reflect in your eyes...'
The album has a softness and openness that contrasts the tougher sound of the EPs. Manthe explains, 'The new music is a 360 turn, It an expression of my “Lady” side, I grew up listening to Jazz, Classic and Gospel, I am a very soft spoken person, and it resonates with being confident with that. It's been crazy finding balance and finding a smart way to strengthen my weaknesses, I had to trust the process.’ Of the songs she says ‘They are part of the world now, I hope everyone feels motivated and inspired to be more after listening to the album.’”
Buchla synth supremo Todd Barton’s hyperstitious soundtrack to Always Coming Home, an ‘80s American sci-fi novel by author Ursula K. Le Guin, is yet another ingenious recording dug out for reappraisal by Pete Swanson and Jed Middleman’s Freedom to Spend label - a division of RVNG Intl. Expect alien folk songs in made-up language, set to richly evocative backdrops of location recordings subtly gilded with self built instruments and synth contours. Properly immersive, otherworldly - think Breadwoman meets Lonnie Holley recording for Fonal.
“Music and Poetry of the Kesh is the documentation of an invented Pacific Coast peoples from a far distant time, and the soundtrack of famed science fiction author, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home. In the novel, the story of Stone Telling, a young woman of the Kesh, is woven within a larger anthropological folklore and fantasy.
The ways of the Kesh were originally presented in 1985 as a five hundred plus page book accompanied with illustrations of instruments and tools, maps, a glossary of terms, recipes, poems, an alphabet (Le Guin’s conlang, so she could write non-English lyrics), and with early editions, a cassette of “field recordings” and indigenous song. Le Guin wanted to hear the people she’d imagined; she embarked on an elaborate process with her friend Todd Barton to invoke their spirit and tradition.
For Music and Poetry of the Kesh, the words and lyrics are attributed to Le Guin as composed by Barton, an Oregon-based musician, composer and Buchla synthesist (the two worked together previously on public radio projects). But the cassette notes credit the sounds and voices to the world of the Kesh, making origins ambiguous. For instance, “The River Song” description reads, “The prominent rhythm instrument is the doubure binga, a set of nine brass bowls struck with cloth-covered wooden mallets, here played by Ready.”
According to writer and long-time friend of LeGuin, Moe Bowstern (who pens the liners for the Freedom To Spend edition of Kesh), Barton built and then taught himself to play several instruments of Le Guin’s design, among them “the seven-foot horn known to the Kesh as the Houmbúta and the Wéosai Medoud Teyahi bone flute.” Barton’s crafting of original instruments lends an other-worldly texture to the recordings of the Kesh, not unlike fellow builders Bobby Brown and Lonnie Holley. Bowstern notes, “Other musician / makers have crafted their own Kesh instruments after encountering the earlier cassette recordings that accompanied some editions of the book.”
Both Barton and Le Guin are sensitive to the sovereignty of indigenous Californians and were careful not to trample the traditions of the Tolowa people who lived in the valley long before the Kesh. “You research deeply, and then you bring your own voice to the table,” said Barton. Within the Kesh culture, the numbers four and five shape the lives, society and rituals. Barton composed loosely around these numbers, patiently listening to the land of Napa Valley for signs and audio signals from the natural elements. Todd incorporated ambient sounds of the creek by Le Guin’s house and a campfire they built together.
The songs of Kesh are joyful, soothing and meditative, while the instrumental works drift far past the imaginary lands. “Heron Dance” is an uplifting first track, featuring a Wéosai Medoud Teyahi (made from a deer or lamb thigh bone with a cattail reed) and the great Houmbúta (used for theatre and ceremony). “A Music of the Eighth House” sends gossamer waves of the faintest sounds to “float on the wind.” Like the languages invented in the vocal work of Anna Homler, Meredith Monk, and Elizabeth Fraser, the Kesh songs and poems play with the shape of voice.”
A Wolf Eyes masterpiece comes back to take your mind with this expanded reissue of their ‘Dread’  killer, re-cut at D&M and now featuring a bonus digital track taken from their ‘Sandpapered Eyes’ CDr
‘Dread’ is among the very earliest and gnarliest Wolf Eyes releases. It features the unholy trinity of John Olson in formative formation with Aaron Dilloway and Nate Young, each playing a fizzing and spitting disarray of tapes, electronics and guitars interspersed with scant vocals, and fundamentally catching the group at their most ragged and primitivist during a time when underground rock and noise was in need of new ideas.
The seeds planted in Dread sprout in the pavement cracks between sludge metal, avant-garde electronics and punkish No wave, establishing a low down and dirty sound that would eventually become known as Trip Metal. But it’s fair to say that their modern sound is generously polished when compared with these nascent, evil doings, where half-cut drum machines drunkenly slur in a torrid union with Nate Young's vocals, at times recalling throat-scarring hardcore, and at other reminding of Mark E. Smith with a bad cold on some home-brew.
In swapping out rock’s macho posturing for genuine, certifiable madness, and effectively reducing it’s structures to rubble, Wolf Eyes forged one of the most deadly records of the early ‘00s, which still remains utterly compelling today, 17 years on. And just in case you’re the insatiable type (you’re a Wolf Eyes fan, it’s most likely), the bonus cut of ‘Sandpapered Eyes’ should finish you off to the bone.
A classic from academic and atrtist John Maus - sounding something like a cross between Autre Ne Veut and Joy Division - with a bit of Joe Jackson and Visage thrown in for good measure.
It's just one of those albums, it reminds you of something else almost constantly, yet leaves a smudged mark all its own on your psyche. This review from Jordan Redmond / Tiny Mix Tapes pretty much sums it up:
"Being an academic, John Maus understands the imperative to only release bodies of work that are conceptually sound and completely actualized. With Pitiless Censors, he sought to break into a new creative period but was disappointed that it was only a “consummation” or logical conclusion to the sound on his previous two widely-available albums (Songs and Love Is Real).
Based on the evidence here, Maus needn’t have any reservations about the body of work that he has released into the world. Pitiless Censors is a sparkling album, a lo-fi synth pop masterpiece that manages to give endless aural delights while still being intellectually engaging, and despite having been caught at the center of a whirlpool of current movements, all of which reflect some aspect of Maus’ style, he has only cemented his identity as a singular, unimpeachable figure. When confronted with music like this, it’s impossible not to be a believer.”
A must for lovers of affective pop music.
Theo Parrish commemorates one of the UK’s most important clubs for a whole generation, London’s Plastic People, with 3 x CDr’s spanning the full length of his 4hr 36min set at the club’s closing party
It’s a room recording, so you get all the excited natter in the background while Theo cuts loose on the filters, regularly bringing the crowd to ecstatic whoops and whistles...
The track-listing isn’t included but it does exist online thanks to some proper knowledge, and we can pretty much guarantee that if you’re investing in this piece of history, you’ll want to know what da fuq he’s playing!
Pure Ork fuel from Belgian rave bastard DJ David Goblin a.k.a. David Coquelin, one of the nutters behind the brilliant PRR! PRR! label - close affiliates of Low Jack’s Editions Gravats
Going ham with nobs of new beat, EBM, hardcore techno and gabber, DJ David Goblin has just cooked up one of the maddest CDs that you’ll hear in 2018. It’s unmistakably daft in that suddy, sozzled Benelux style; the type of gear that could feasibly trigger an outbreak of St. Vitus Dance in modern day Brussels.
There’s two shorter cuts that should come in handy with certain DJs, namely the hi-tech folk pounder ‘Squigpipe’ for the Nkisi fans, and the relentless breakcore choppage of ‘Mordor Fuka’, but the main bulk of ‘Ork Muzik’ is two longer, megamix-styled cut-ups; 20 minutes of drunken master swagger and potty rave leads called ‘In The Klub (Goblinized Traks)’, and the mad patchwork of ‘In The Street (Goblinized Traks)’ cutting from bombed out electronics thru early Shackleton, collapsed rave classixxx and fluoro outernational soundsystem styles.
Grade A bangers!
Sarah Davachi’s quietly stunning first side for Sean McCann’s Recital Program. It arrives in the tremulous wake of the widely acclaimed 'All My Circles Run' album to offer a sublime reaffirmation of Davachi's genius for anyone who’s followed her work over the last few years, and also acts as an unmissable entry point for curious newcomers, especially anyone smitten with the methods and effects of music by Eliane Radigue, Kara-Lis Coverdale, or Mark Hollis.
Sarah’s work has been intimately concerned with the phenomenology of sounds and the way in which, once “released” from the player and instrument, they move in chaotic and unpredictable ways, effectively taking on a new life of their own. In order to exert some control over those factors, it’s perhaps understandable that Davachi's music is most often slow and the result of ostensibly simple gestures, but thanks to her preternatural attention to space and tone, those careful motifs generate a complexity of overtones that have become her coveted secret ingredient.
After alchemically turning her hand to whatever instrument is within reach (she’s been known to turn up at venues without an instrument and improvise on unfamiliar gear) for previous releases and shows, Davachi opts for the Mellotron and an electronic organ on Let Night Come On Bells End The Day, rendering five variegated improvisations that feel vulnerable yet somehow increasingly assured in her perceptive powers.
Most impressive among them are the gently coruscating chamber figure of Mordents, which makes an imperceptibly glacial transition from legible motifs to a gorgeous blur, and the heartbreakingly funereal drift of Buhrstone, especially when it really starts to keen out of the lines. But that’s not to say less of her hyaline beauty At Hand, or the time-melting dimensions of Hours In The Evening - as with all of Sarah’s work, they’re just aspects of the same, amazing whole.
Brooding mix of post-rock and electro-pop by Ricardo Donoso + childhood friend Thiago Kochenborgor, betraying mutual influence from Depeche Mode to NIN in eight parts
“"The sailor cannot see the north, but knows the needle can".
‘Human Resources’ marks the first official album by two friends playing together since the age of twelve, separated by oceans and time, attempting to reconnect with the same collaborative, exploratory and enthusiastic spirit that they felt fifteen years prior.
Under the alias RDTK, the roots of the collaboration were planted fifteen years ago in a small one-bedroom apartment in Rio de Janeiro as an outlet for two seventeen year olds to learn and abuse the intricacies of electronic production, composition and home recording. Its initial roots remain intact: combining a hybrid of traditional rock instrumentation and arrangements with electronic programming, sound design and an intricate and sophisticated production style.
Ricardo's musical vocabulary draws as much from contemporary composition, drone, to techno and noise. Songs like album opener ‘Affective Forecasting’ contain a mind blowing intensity which is often felt throughout ‘Human Resources’. Cinematic textures and progressive rhythms are the very essence of the record as we are invited in to the immersive sound world of RDTK.
‘There Is Still Time’ conjures up images of barren landscapes and dreamlike imagery, with a spine chilling tension that is a far-cry from the sounds of Samba and Bossa Nova, while the piercing strength of ‘Surface and Together’ set against a back-drop of melancholy keys and krautrock electro beats offers a depth and urgency that is strikingly emotive.”
Comprised almost entirely of synths, drum-machines and Maus' own vocals, 'Songs' could well be the bastard offspring of Giorgio Moroder in Eighties Soundtrack mode - with the kind of bitter-sweet melodies and baroque flourishes that framed so much teenage-angst during that decade.
Kicking off with the prosaically titled 'Opening', Maus plunges us into a grandstanding bout of church organ that climbs and climbs... Before wrapping itself up with the minimum of fuss. From here, 'Time To Die' introduces us to that signature vocal style that has an Ian Curtis bruise atop it's clipped-glottal brusqueness, whilst the backdrop is made up of fizzing electronics and skyburst melodies.
Elsewhere, 'Maniac' is a pulsating electro-pop nose-bleed, 'And Heaven Turned To Her Weeping' is the sound of scarred electronic skies, whilst 'Just Wait Till Next Year' takes a cue from Bowie in it's AM melodies. Odd on first listen, appealing on second and proper smitten thereafter, John Maus has more than overcome expectations with this cracked mirror view of the Eighties.
An early, in-demand John Maus gem, ‘Love Is Real’  bubbles back up on pretty pink wax in the wake of last year’s ‘Screen Memories’, the ‘Addendum’ album, and an eponymous boxset compilation
On ‘Love Is Real’, Maus presented a slightly more low-key follow-up to his definitive ‘Songs’ album, which attracted a whole wave of listeners who’ve likely been smitten with the pop perfectionist ever since.
To be honest, ‘Love Is Real’ comes from a blindspot in our memories (we can clearly recall days spent with ‘Songs’, but not this one) and as such may as well be a new Maus release for us, and we’d imagine many others who either slept on it or can’t be arsed paying steep 2nd hand prices.
It’s stuffed with signature, floating melodies, rounded harmonies and of course laced with Maus’ singular baritone, which works right on the cusp of knowing pastiche and timeless pop proper in a style that has become his trademark. References can simply be stated as “the ‘80s”, as Maus pays canniest tribute to a wealth of music that everyone knows and feels, but with a dreamy spin that somehow brings out the oddness and melancholy of nostalgia in a way that’s maybe comparable with Burial’s hauntological approach to the not-so-distant as much as the hook-riddled craft of his spirit-brother Ariel Pink.
‘Observing Objects’ is a quietly beautiful, improvised exercise in familiarisation between Eva Maria Houben, Rebecca Lane, and Sam Dunscombe, who had never previously played together prior to this recording
Based around simple, lingering gestures, in turn each player contributes single sounds which they observe and reflect upon before contributing their own, and so-on, with each consecutive part revealing more of the performer’s characteristics to the other.
Samuel Ekkehardt Dunscombe’s bass clarinet and Rebecca Lane’s bass flute occupy the lower registers and Eva-Maria’s organ and piano tend to the higher tones, each tentatively holding their bandwidth which only gradually overlap as the performers gain familiarity thru their practice, in turn generating more curious, querying and melting combinations as they work each other out.
Incredibly rich, sumptuous album from Tim Hecker, layering his particular blend of organic ambience with slivers of piano, found sounds and the quiet hum of abandoned machinery.
Playing counterpart to the processed acoustic transmissions of Fennesz, Hecker takes a much darker route, only offering relief from the mass of textures he concocts with deep buried remnants of melody and light. As a follow-up to Mille Plateaux's sublime "Radio Amor", "Mirages" is an even more majestic album, striding with a confident heaviness further out into the wilderness, deep into the night.
Tim Hecker’s bittersweet 2nd album, his introduction to many listeners, comes back around on vinyl for the first time in 15 years (with his debut LP, ‘Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again’ in succession)
Yielding all the shimmering tingles, washed out textures and coruscating sensations his fans have come to know and adore, ‘Radio Amor’ remains a burning highlight of the Canadian artist’s oeuvre, which now includes some 10 albums and as many other EPs and such, most notably in modern classics such as ‘Ravedeath, 1972’ and a collaborative album with Daniel “0PN” Lopatin. However, with hindsight, it’s possible to say that none of them cut quite as deeply or linger in the memory quite so indelibly as this one..
Tim Hecker's 'Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again' was the Montreal artist's first album under his own name (he'd previously released under the moniker, Jetone) and very much sets the blueprint for what was to come over ensuing full-lengths.
In the early days of his career, Hecker was often compared with Fennesz, with both artists mining a similarly beautiful line in fizzy, glitch-laden digital soundscapes.
'Music For Tundra' would certainly seem to share the same vernacular as Fennesz's Endless Summer, but Hecker's sound is less song-like in essence, placing greater emphasis on subtle drone variations. Towards the album's centre, 'The Work Of Art In The Age Of Cultural Overproduction' stands as arguably the album's most impressive entry, intertwining a snarling distortion with granular melodic fragments and vicious, wind-like currents of noise; a sonic conceit that's been refined and expanded by Hecker over the years, but which has seldom sounded better than it does here.
A remarkably enduring piece of work, Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again has aged well, contemporary electroacoustic drone enthusiasts unfamiliar with it should dive in.
Body/Head, the duo of Kim Gordon (CKM, Sonic Youth, Free Kitten) and guitarist Bill Nace (X.O.4,Vampire Belt, Ceylon Mange), release their second studio album, ‘The Switch’.
"Their debut album together as Body/Head, ‘Coming Apart’ was more of a rock record - heavy, emotional, cathartic, spellwork in shades of black and grey. ‘The Switch’ is their second studio full length and it finds the duo working with a more subtle palette, refining their ideas and identity.
Some of it was sketched out live (if you’ve not had the fortune of seeing them in that natural environment yet, see 2016’s improvisational document ‘No Waves’) but much of it happened purely in the moment. On ‘The Switch’, their vision and focus feel truly unified.
If ‘Coming Apart’ was dark magic, ‘The Switch’ works with light, though it never forgets that these approaches are two sides of the same coin and that binaries - black/white, near/far, emotion/analysis, body/head - are made to be broken open and that the truth of things is in the energy between.
Pariah returns from extended hiatus with debut album ‘Here From Where We Are’ on Houndstooth making up for time since his last outing in 2012, and a couple of Karenn slammers with Blawan over the interim. In the key of the moment, it’s an ambient record presumably meant to soothe your bones after a hard night raving, or indeed to ease your swede from the intensifying travails of everyday life.
“Arthur Cayzer was a relative late comer to dance music. He grew up in various hardcore and punk bands before moving to London and being swept away by dubstep. After just six months messing around making his own stuff on Logic, Pitchfork coverage piqued the interest of the legendary R&S, and over the next two years he released three EPs with the Belgian label. Each one showed subtle evolution and further established Pariah on the international scene.
Since then, Arthur has continued to DJ round the world and play live with Blawan as Karenn. Musically, though, he’s been adrift. With countless unfinished projects cluttering his hard drive, he felt he’d pressured himself into making the music people expected, rather than music that was an honest reflection of himself. It was only by taking a step back to analyse the music that has always resonated with him—and where, how, when and in what context it did—that gave him a renewed confidence in his work. After one track was finished, an album of coherent pieces naturally followed.
Although Here From Where We Are is inspired by a series of very personal reflections, responses and reactions, Arthur is keen for people to process it in their own way, free from interference. Opening with the transcendental ‘Log Jam’ which spills into the huge, empty and plaintive ‘Pith’, the artist distills his experiences into an album of nine moving, multi-layered tracks, where peculiar textures combine with rich harmonies and absorbing melodies into a heady mix of abstracted environments, formally structured songs and sound collages. Absorbing from start to finish, Here From Where We Are is a long overdue return and accomplished new direction for this rejuvenated producer.”
Exploratory British violinist Laura Cannell presents captivating duets with André Bosman, who previously produced her ‘Quick Sparrows Over The Black Earth’ album, on a gripping session recorded live inside the 13th century stone walls of Ravingham Church in Norfolk, UK
“In wood and marsh and stone we make our reckoning”
Dispatched on Laura’s Brawl Records, ‘Reckonings’ is another prime example of her singularly experimental take on a cross section of ideas absorbed from early medieval music, traditional folk and renaissance and contemporary styles. Coupled with Bosman, she’s clearly an adept collaborator, as her previous works with Mark Fell, Sandro Mussida, Aby Vuillamy, and Rhodri Davies have proven, but we’d take this album as the strongest example of her strengths in union.
Laura plays violin with overbow and baroque bow, while André handles violin with amplifier and Rebec bow. The results are fiercely dissonant in a classic folk sense, as the two operate closely but with differences emerging in their bowing and the extra layer of disruption added by Bosman’s amplifier, which lends a wickedly coruscating bite to proceedings.
It’s definitely not your usual, pretty, cliched neo-classical work at all. There’s a snarling fire to their sound that seems to fulminate in the air, with each player bearing their fangs in a way that’s not aggressive but does connote a sort of slow, considered violence to our ears that’s much more effective than outright aggression. It feels as though they are absorbing and transmuting hundreds of years of hellish imagery and pain from the church itself into these recordings, giving a voice to lost souls.
After establishing himself with rough but emotive house as Rimbaudian and jungle as Birds of Sweden, Armand Jakobsson unveiled his DJ Seinfeld alias to the world, first with single ‘U’, then with his Time Spent Away From U album on Lobster Fury in November 2017.
"Jakobsson approached his DJ-Kicks with the intention of representing all the things that made him fall in love with dance music more than a decade ago, as well as showing some of the progression that has occurred in that time and “reflecting the simultaneous fear of leaving something safe behind as well as the excitement of venturing into unknown territories, musically and emotionally.”
In order to make it as personal as possible, he called upon the many talented people around him making music. They returned with an enthusiasm that reminded Jakobsson of his own early passion, and in turn invigorated him and the whole process of assembling the mix. It was finally recorded at Inkonst club in Malmo because, recently back from years in Barcelona, he has not yet set up a studio in his hometown."
Hauntingly mystic roots reggae set crammed with cherry-picked classics and obscurities by Jackie Mittoo, The Gladiators, Alton Ellis, Horace Andy, The Manchesters...
“This is the second installment of deep roots Rastafarian reggae at Studio One and features classic music from some of the most important figures in reggae music – Alton Ellis, The Heptones, Jackie Mittoo, The Gladiators – alongside a host of rarities and little-known recordings, such as a truly rare Mystic Revelation of Rastafari seven-inch single, Willie William’s first ever recording ‘Calling’ and Horace Andy’s righteous (and equally rare) masterpiece ‘Illiteracy.’
Black Man’s Pride 2 extends the legacy of Studio One’s ground-breaking path in roots reggae which began at the end of the 1960s and continued throughout the 1970s. The album tells the story of how the rise of Studio One Records and the Rastafari movement were interconnected, through the adoption of the Rastafari faith by key reggae artists – everyone from the Skatalites and Wailers in the 1960s, major singers such as Alton Ellis and Horace Andy at the end of the decade, through to major roots artists such as The Gladiators in the 1970s – and how Clement Dodd consistently recorded this heavyweight roots music throughout Studio One’s history.
The extensive sleeve-notes to this album also discuss the links between Rastafari and Studio One in time and place, noting how both the religion and Clement Dodd’s musical empire had their roots in the intense period of pre-independence Jamaica in Kingston, expanded in the 1960s following the visit of Haile Selassie in 1966, and how roots music then came to dominate reggae music in the early 1970s. Also discussed is how the outsider stance of both reggae music and the Rastafari movement relate back many hundreds of years to the original rebel stance of the Maroons, escaped slaves who set up self-sufficient enclaves in the hills of the Jamaican countryside.
There is also a track-by-track history by the noted Studio One writer Rob Chapman (Never Grow Old). This new album comes as heavyweight gatefold double vinyl (+ download code), deluxe CD and digital album."
Massive, mutant dancehall album from Miss Red and Kevin Martin a.k.a. The Bug, launched as the first LP on the latter’s Pressure label following the Flame1 project featuring Burial.
Taking what he needs from ‘90s digi dancehall and the environmental atmospheres collected on his travels, The Bug furnishes Miss Red with a concrète-cracked batch of riddims that neatly juxtapose her float-like-a-butterfly, sting-like-a-bee bars.
For the biggest excitement check out their hammering fast chat killer Money Machine, the ruddy acidic wine of Big, and the bashy swag of Slay, but it’s definitely best consumed hot in one sitting, where the textures and space of The Bug’s fiercely unique, biting point production can really take a hold.
Best indie-pop freqs, L.A.’s Dirty Projectors keep their agenda porous to R&B, funk and warped traces of country-rock in a devilishly playful 9th album...
The follow-up to ‘Dirty Projectors’  - featuring guest appearances by Terrible Records’ Syd and Empress Of, plus newcomer Amber Mark, Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold, ex Vampire Weekend guy Rostam, and Dear Nora.
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch plays it like she means it on ‘Époques’, the french pianist and composer’s 2nd LP with FatCat’s 130701 label. It’s rare to hear a record that combines such direct gestures with keening experimental leanings while maintaining a palpable coherence, but that’s just what Emilie has done here. RIYL Max Richter, Richard Skelton, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Dustin O’Halloran
“Witnessing an increased assurance and dynamism in both Emilie's playing and composing, 'Époques' marks a big step forward for the London-based artist. A bold and adventurous album that alternates between passages of emotive, sinuous solo piano; stirring compositions for viola and cello and some beautifully sprawling electronics, it has been masterfully pieced together to further reveal a unique and intelligent sense of artistry, and a composer who really does deserve your full attention.
Losing some of the chill of Emilie's previous album, 'Époques' sound is both warmer and more honestly, emotively grounded. With a more coherent narrative drive, it retains the former's gentility and intricacy, whilst at times unravelling or teetering towards a palpably edgy, aggressive point of collapse. Over the course of its 44 minutes, the record modulates in intensity and moves between passages of sublime beauty to menace and despair. The tone for the album is outlined within the first two tracks. Opening with the sparse piano of 'Martello', which flowers into life and draws itself around you with sinuous vines and rising clusters of piano, it then falls into 'The Only Water', a rich yet murky, subterranean dreamscape of electronics and strings that hover and saw like Richard Skelton before evolving into some dark chamber duet, whilst slowly everything peels away into layers of delay. 'Redux' is another solo piano track, a meandering drift that winds its own sweet way before falling off into the glowering electronics and spaced cello figures of 'Overflow' and the dark, consumed-by delay piano of 'Fracture Points'. The brooding 'Ultramarine' opens a sound-field that lies closer to film score – edging perhaps towards the sensibility of former labelmate Jóhann's Jóhannsson's brilliantly unsettling 'Sicario' soundtrack.”
More than 10 years in the making, this box set features the earliest recordings and the first book ever written about one of the most influential guitarists from the 1960s and ‘70s, John Fahey.
"The five CDs feature 115 tracks, most of which are available on CD for the first time. The audio was remastered from Joe Bussard’s reel-to-reel tapes to achieve pristine sound quality. As for the accompanying book, the list of scholars who contributed essays includes Eddie Dean, Claudio Guerrierri, Glenn Jones, Malcolm Kirton, Mike Stewart and John’s childhood friend R. Anthony Lee. Byron Coley contributed a poem about John, and Douglas Blazek’s 1967 interview with Fahey is published for the first time.
Released 10 years after John Fahey’s death, this set puts one of the final puzzle pieces of Fahey’s career in place. Everyone can now hear where this guitar legend got his start – a smoky basement in Frederick, Maryland. Co-produced by Dean Blackwood of Revenant, Glenn Jones, and Lance Ledbetter of Dust-to-Digital, this set is released with the support of Joe Bussard and the John Fahey Estate. The set is dedicated to John’s mother, Jane C. Hayes and the late musician Jack Rose."
Wen hypnotises with the pendulous, crystalline designs of EPHEM:ERA, a sophomore album study on the mercurial warp and weft of modern UK dance music. Like Actress and Zomby before him, Wen also has a vital vision of what dance music can and should sound like. Taking the most forward elements of techno, jungle, garage and grime, he salvages what’s good and bends their time-tested functions into ear-snagging yet elusive new designs that express a pivotal sense of an eternally out-of-reach future.
Tessellating style and pattern at oblique angles, Wen teases their common binds and frictional differentials in a way that feels fresh yet familiar to anyone who has been participating with UK dance music cultures over the past generation.
In Silhouette he retro-fits sino grime with spiritual jazz in weightless pirouettes, while Time II Think rewires garage with slinky techno. Previous single Blips is a sterling example of where hardcore has become distilled/inverted into weightlessness without losing that lip-biting section of hardcore proper, and the uncentred axes of Grit and Off-Kilter catch him rendering garage-techno prisms with ambient abstraction, modulating the tension between raving urges and a certain sort of UK discipline that’s key to his sound.
Two-disc set featuring new artwork and a bonus disc of remixes and alternate versions, including a previously unreleased remix of Anymore from the band’s Will Gregory, a new version of 'Ocean' with new vocals from Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan and more.
Goldfrapp’s 7th studio album is arguably among their most potent, poignant to date, and that’s no mean feat for a band approaching their 20th anniversary. This may be due to the input of fresh new hands such as Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak) and Leo Abrahams on a number of tracks, or simply down to Goldfrapp assuming their mantle as one of the world’s best-loved and persistent synth-pop units, but either way they’ve cooked up a goodun with Silver Eye.
Where their previous outing Tale Of Us  dabbled with pastoral indie pop alongside the usual smoky, noirish themes, they’ve returned to what they do best here; slickly glam and sensual synth pop proper, illustrated in glossy, sweeping DX7 synth contours and gilded with Alison Goldfrapp’s timeless grasp of impeccable, romantic songwriting.
The mingling of fresh young blood with Goldfrapp’s anachronisms makes for a record that could have been released at almost any point in their catalogue but somehow sounds very now, in a sort of ‘90s-referencing way - which we’d largely put down to the input of Bobby Krlic on four tracks in particular; on the glam stomp of opener Anymore, suggesting NIN meets Taylor Swift, in the sublime DX7 strokes and shoegaze guitar burn of Tigerman, and thru to the biting point crunch and detached vocal processing of Become The One, or the way how Moon In Your Mouth somehow sounds like a beautifully hyper-stylised version of Dido - and we mean that most respectfully.
The rest is sterling, too; highlights also to found in the lip-biting darkroom greazer, Systemagic; the perfectly curdled chords and Alison’s dry ice poise in Faux Suede Drifter; the Fever Ray-like techno-pop thump of Zodiac Black; or the misty-eyed beauty of Beast That Never Was, featuring Slip associate and Brian Eno collaborator Leo Abrahams.
Grand, sweeping neo-classical statement by Polish cellist Karolina Rec, a.k.a. Resina
“Two years on from her critically acclaimed, self-titled debut, Polish cellist Resina (aka Karolina Rec) returns with her sophomore album for FatCat's influential 130701 imprint. A less fragile, far more immediate album, 'Traces' sees the Warsaw-based artist working a sound which moves closer towards the listener, with increased viscerality and weight. It's a bold, dynamic and assured step forward and an album fully deserving of your attention.
Looped, processed and layered with increased dynamism, on 'Traces', the cello moves from discrete chamber intimacy to shimmering ambient miasmas and more urgent, full-blooded tracks that reach out and grab you. There are points of delicate beauty and moments where everything seems about to melt into chaos. Whilst Karolina's voice appeared only briefly (to stunning effect) on her debut's final track, this time around it assumes much greater prominence, featuring on almost half the album's tracks. Non-verbal, her vocals function as a beautiful, haunting textural layer, conjuring a sense of near sacred purity and longing. Besides the looped and layered sounds/ rhythms coaxed from cello and voice, 'Traces' expands her palette with contributions from drummer / percussionist Mateusz Rychlicki adding body and drive on a number of tracks.
'Traces' was recorded in December 2017 at renowned Polish producer/ musician Maciej Cieslak's studio in the Wola district of Warsaw. One of the city's uglier areas, Wola was massively devastated during the last war, being the site of both the Jewish ghetto and Warsaw Uprising. During the album's production, the pair often discussed palpably feeling some heavy, dark energy of the place, something of which has doubtless leaked into the album. Drawing upon some dark and timely themes and finding grounding in the worrying / unstable era in which we find ourselves, its title refers to the observing of memories; to remnants surviving violence or the ravages of time; to parts missing or disfigured.”
Footwork OG, RP Boo keeps the style mutably rude and forward with I’ll Tell You What!, a début album declaration of dancefloor war arriving nearly 30 years into a DJ/production curve that started with him handling the decks for original Chicago dance crew, the House-O-Matics, and has seen him release music for Dance Mania before leading Footwork’s global expansion via Planet Mu.
I’ll Tell You What!, is Kavain Space a.k.a. RP Boo’s first collection of new material to be released shortly after it was written. In other words it’s his first album, proper, if we consider that his pivotal Legacy and Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints releases were compiled from archival material. But pedantry aside, I’ll Tell You What! is simply another thrilling RP Boo record crammed with unique rhythmelodic arrangements.
Born in the resistance of Chicago’s streets to its endemic violence, but also heavily inspired by Boo’s incessant touring schedule over the last five years (if you haven’t witnessed him DJing, you’re missing out) the album is as much about the Chi as his hard-won experience of how to translate Windy City funk to foreign feet, and finds him stripping back the samples to locate leaner, more rugged beat structures and hardcore basslines that marks the difference compared to his earlier work.
If we’re playing favourites, the rhythmic crossfire of At War is definitive RP Boo, while Cloudy Back Yard’s percolated chorales and dark B-line are just mad abstract and inexorably funky, and that mutual, underlying connection with the nuttiness of UK hardcore really comes thru strongly in the cranky prang of Bounty and the breathless flow of U Belong 2 Me. But fuck any more chat about this one, you’re only ever going to understand it properly with your ears and feet.
Infectious hot-steppers meshing belting vocals to pointillist polyrhythms by fuji master drummers on talking drums, trap drums and electronic percussion. Recorded in modern day Lagos, Nigeria
“‘Synchro Sound System & Power’ features the music of Nigeria Fuji Machine, which includes some of Nigeria's finest ‘Fuji’ master drummers and singers, and is newly recorded by Soul Jazz Records in Lagos.
Fuji is the heavily percussive and improvisational style of Nigerian popular music, at once modern and yet deeply rooted in the traditional Islamic Yoruba culture of Nigeria.
Here on this album Nigeria Fuji Machine’s striking and powerful lead vocalist Taofik Yemi Fagbenro soars above a wild and energetic backdrop of polyrhythms played on traditional talking drums, trap drums, electronic and street percussion to create a powerful wall of intense sound.
Fuji is hi-energy street music, heavily percussive which evolved out of the Islamic celebration of Ramadan, which became a major event in mid-20th century Lagos. Groups of young men walked through Muslim neighbourhoods at night singing improvised ‘wéré’ music to the accompaniment of pots, pans, drums, bells and anything else available, waking believers for the early morning prayer. By the early 1970s this music had crossed-over into popular Nigerian culture where it came to be known as Fuji, first made popular by the artist Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, as the music began to be performed commonly at parties and social events.
In the 1970s and 1980s three Nigerian artists – King Sunny Adé, Chief Ebonezer Obey and Fela Kuti – all secured international major record deals bringing popularity to the Nigerian musical styles of Juju (Adé and Obey) and Afro-Beat (Fela Kuti’s unique mixture of highlife, funk and jazz) abroad, but in the process ignoring much of Nigeria’s rich musical landscape. Fuji is, alongside Highlife, Juju, Afro-Beat, Sakara, Afro-Reggae, Waka, Igbo rap, Apala and numerous others – one of these central styles of Nigerian music.
The singer Barrister described the music as follows: ‘Fuji music is a combination of music consisting of Sakara, Apala, Juju, Aro, Afro, Gudugudu, and possibly Highlife.’ Juju performer King Sunny Adé described the difference between the two styles of Fuji and Juju somewhat competitively thus: ‘Fuji music is more or less like my music without guitars. It’s like I’m singing in a major key and they are singing in a minor. The music itself is the music of Juju music.’
Today Fuji remains a powerful popular music with deep and powerful Islamic roots which continues to modernise and attract new generations of young Nigerians and Nigeria Fuji Machine’s ‘Syncho Sound System & Power’ is a powerful and intense musical experience.”
Cinematic neo-classical orchestrations meet heavily textured electronics in a way recalling Ben Frost and Jon Hopkins
"Ben Chatwin’s 'Staccato Signals' is the South Queensferry-based composer's second album with Village Green, following 2015's ‘The Sleeper Awakes’.
Ben initially set out to make a purely electronic record, using analogue and modular synthesisers, harnessing the unpredictability of hardware sequencers to write melodic lines rather than by hand with a keyboard. This was about giving up control to the machines – leaving them to their own devices, allowing chance and random elements to decide the direction of the music, ultimately making them more of a collaborator than a tool.
However, towards the end of its writing, not satisfied with the results, Ben was overcome with the feeling that he needed to push what he had created further into new territory, in order to invent entirely new sounds and textures. He decided to work with a string quartet, exploring innovative ways to fold, bury and combine both strings and brass into his industrial, noisy and chaotic electronic template. Again, this was about giving up control – working with other musicians, allowing them to improvise and arrange parts in order to find those special moments where something unexpected happens. The writing process became a search for those moments, the short, sharp flashes of inspiration – the staccato signals.
Throughout the album mournful strings are engulfed by harsh, all-encompassing synths, while disorienting climaxes of blazing electronics recall the deafening loudness of an inferno. Yet while the jagged, synthesized textures that needle the album together might call to mind such devastating imagery, the acoustic instruments that feature throughout the album continuously provide a more human counterbalance.
Following ‘The Sleeper Awakes’ (2015) and ‘Heat & Entropy’ (2016), ‘Staccato Signals’ is Ben’s third album under his own name. It’s a bolder and more ambitious record than anything he has written before, largely the result of relinquishing different levels of control over the musical process. It’s an album which smoulders with an almost aggressive darkness, yet one that is laced with melodic glimmers of light.”
Filigree electro-acoustic blend of modern classical strings, jazz-fusion wind, and razor sharp electronics, landing somewhere between Alva-Noto and Golden Retriever
““Elusive Balance” explores the relationship between humans and nature, as well as the search for balance between these two great entities.
The theme of equilibrium and its precariousness, and its natural tendency to achieve relative stability connects all living things. Equilibrium is also a junction point and evolutionary engine – unstable and elusive, ready to deteriorate and to start a new reaction mechanism bringing organisms to a new harmony.
Beauty is a rare and fleeting thing; it often corresponds to those phases where we can grasp that unstable equilibrium which exists between us and the world at large.
Musically the album seeks resolution of sound contrasts, in a continuous search for an emotional component that gives simultaneously a feeling of tension and stillness. There is a duality between the ‘organic’ components (represented by soprano sax and percussion) and their interaction with machines and computers.
In “Elusive Balance”, OZMOTIC investigate the essence of their sound to expand its emotional and compositional potential. Each track contains a search for a synthesis between sound elements apparently distant from each other, but in reality create a new balance – as poetic as it is musical.
The album’s seven tracks draw a sonic flow in which the melodic aspects are countered by glitches and angular sounds, and the ambient passages are subjected to heavy rains of rhythm, leaving space for dreamlike moments.”
In 1978 Japan released their debut album Adolescent Sex and embarked on a career that would span decades. With Steve Jansen on drums the band enjoyed huge success whilst simultaneously creating a back catalogue of music that still inspires today.
"Fast forward to 2007 and after many years working and collaborating with artists such as Richard Barbieri, Yukihiro Takahashi, Ryuichi Sakamoto & Bernd Friedmann, Steve released his debut, solo album Slope. Steve Jansen’s second solo album ‘Tender Extinction’ was an evocative blend of songs and instrumentals enlisting some of the singer/songwriters that appeared on Jansen’s previous solo work ‘Slope’.
’Corridor’ was composed as a sound installation first aired at Cape Breton University art gallery, Canada to accompany a selection of photographic images by Steve Jansen, 2018. All titles written, performed, produced & mixed by Steve Jansen. Additional sound recording by Charlie Storm. Artwork by Anna Malina Zemlianski."
Acknowledged as an influence by many: founder of the classic eighties label Sleeping Bag, home to Mantronix, T La Rock, Joyce Sims amongst many others: - vocalist and cellist, buddhist - almost joined Talking Heads, instead making two of the biggest Paradise / Loft tunes of all: Loose Joints' "Is It All Over My Face" and Dinosaur L's "Go Bang", as well as a wealth of experimental but still uncannily accessible music.
Arthur heard disco as one of the most potent musics, ripe for experimentation and proceeded to do exactly that. Enlisting mixers from the a-list - Walter Gibbons, Larry Levan, Francois Kevorkian - Arthur's tunes have passed into musical foklore - with all 13 minutes of the awesome "In The Light Of The Miracle" present here, there's really no further need for discussion...involve yourself immediately with this wonderful music.
In print once again in all its glory - little introduction needed here, Skam number 008 repressed several times and still a collectors item, 6 tracks wide, every one a classic...
This 35 minute EP from BoC is arguably their most complete outing, having landed a couple of years before ‘Music Has The Right…’ album and including some of their best material - the brooding Detroit inversion ‘See Ya Later’, the Colonel Abrams inspired ‘Nlogax’, the career-defining “Everything You Do Is A Balloon’ and ‘Turquoise Hexagon Sun’ which would later appear on ‘Music Has The Right’.
Unlike so many of their peers from the era, this stuff has aged well. Perhaps it’s the inherent nostalgia built into these productions, but for our money ‘Hi Scores’ is still the finest half hour of music ever produced by Sandison and Eoin, now bolstered by a remaster and repackage job which feels a bit like dusting off your favourite old jacket and taking it for a whirl.
Haunting mix of modern minimalism and early music from German composer, keyboardist and musicologist, Eva-Maria Houben, her latest in over a dozen solo transmissions for Edition Wandelweiser Records.
A sublime study in tempered precision and space unfolds in three movements performed by Irene Kurka (soprano) and Eva-Maria (piano), each revolving around a respective text by Felix Timmermans, Hilde Domin and Eva-Maria herself.
In the three part Adagio we’re introduced to Eva-Maria’s unique sense of temporality with singular, decaying keys lingering and preparing the air for Irene’s lone phrases sung directly into the piano strings to spookily resonant effect, with each concise piece seeming to grow starker, imperative by the simplest of gestures.
At the centre of the set, despite its stoic sparsity, Lyrik feels almost dense by comparison to the preceding parts, as Eva-Maria moves to the lower registers of the keys, letting each note roundly ring out with poignant purpose.
Finally Songs For The Island wraps up the set with a suite of reggae covers in the style of The Venga Boys. We jest. It’s actually the longest section, set to german text by Eva-Maria, and forming an archipelago of fading notes and wilting overtones interspersed by longing lacunæ in a way that emphasises the spaces between as much as what’s being played, with each element reinforcing the other’s shape, presence and meaning in reflective negative relief.
Virtuoso percussionist Tom de Cock performs five works composed by Pierluigi Billone, issued as the first recordings on the Contra Naturem series, a collaboration between Sub Rosa and the adventurous, Brussels-based Ictus Ensemble. Their ‘Mani.Mono  - For Springdrum’ could almost be Harry Bertoia pinged around by Demdike at the GRM, and their ‘Mani.Dike  - For 2 Tibetan Singing Bowls, Chinese Opera Gong, Low Thai Gong’ deploys the instruments as rarely heard, from aggressive clang to barely touched presence...
“The 'magic of the record' befits contemporary music, which starts by adhering to an open, flexible sonic space where magnetic bolts of lightning shoot through. In that respect, at least, it has always been pop. The record lifts the curtain on a virtual stage; it creates its own space time; it reports on a listening project. And home computing has changed the game: the digital kitchen doesn't intimidate anyone anymore: editing and mixing are now part of the performer's daily routine.
The composer: Pierluigi Billone (1960) Italian composer known for works which often 'reinvent' the performance techniques of the instruments involved. He studied under Salvatore Sciarrino and Helmut Lachenmann. He focuses on the nature of sound. He also draws on free jazz and non-European music for his research on sound matter. After a brief return to Italy in 2000, he decided to move to Vienna. His music has privileged performers such as the Klangforum Wien. It is broadcast by German and Austrian radio, is regularly scheduled in international festivals such as Donaueschingen.
The performer: Tom De Cock (1982) received his masters degree in percussion at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, as well as a masters degree in contemporary music at the HFMDK Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Next to his position as percussion soloist at the Brussels Philharmonic orchestra, Tom has been working as a freelance musician in Europe, he played with Ensemble Modern, MusikFabrik, Radio Kamer Philharmonie, among others and is a fixed member of Ictus, Tom has collaborated with Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Philippe Hurel, Bruno Mantovani, Philippe Manoury, Georges Aperghis and many other prominent figures of international contemporary music.”
Electronics whizz, studio producer and Punkt co-director Jan Bang teams-up with vocalist Sidsel Endresen on Hum, an album released as part of Confront Recordings’ Core Series, a cycle of releases which has previously featured contributions from David Sylvian, Julie Tippetts and Derek Bailey.
"Recorded live in Oslo in 2016, Hum focuses on atomised gestures quarried from mutant combinations of voice and corrupted circuitry. Sidsel Endresen: voice Jan Bang: sampler, Dictaphone Composed by Sidsel Endresen and Jan Bang. Copyright control (TONO). Recorded by Asle Karstad at Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene, Oslo, December 1st 2016. Mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus Lab. Mixed and produced by Jan Bang at Punkt Studio, Kristiansand."
Gatefold slipcase in resealable poly wallet...
Sun Araw’s ‘Guarda In Alto OST’ is the oddest, most enigmatic thing we’ve heard from Cameron Stallones in a decade of singularly psychedelic output since his ‘The Phynx’ album back in 2008.
Touching down ahead of two new Sun Ark releases starring Maxwell Sterling, the avant-jazz minimalism, new age dub and early computer music nods of the Guarda In Alto OST were conceived to fit the imagery of Fulvio Risuleo’s film about “a baker who has access to a parallel universe on the roofs of the city”. Fair to say that without even seeing the flick, the sounds are faithfully and suitably dreamlike when taken in context of the film’s themes.
While made up of myriad inter-related micro-cells, the album’s macro effect is one of utopian psychedelic optimism, whose nature implies rather than forces a sense of the other thru its finely realised aesthetic. The results are comparable in parts to Sun Araw’s fellow psychedelic journeymen, James Ferraro and Spencer Clark, as much as Maggi Payne’s enchanted computer music, but distinguished by Stallones’ unique style of cosmic jazz dub.