Not for the squeamish, Whitehouse’s 2nd album ‘Total Sex’ (1980) is a fundamental work of power electronics and a core influence on the sound of the band’s disciples such as Dominick Fernow (Prurient)
Originally issued on tape under the title ’Ultrasadism’ and soon after retitled ‘Total Sex’, Whitehouse’s 2nd LP laid their Libertine approach to art and music bare in six tracks of raw noise and throttled vocals (plus two that would later join from the ‘Hoisting The Black Flag’ compilation) held under a chunk of text by infamous masochist the Marquis De Sade. Arriving in between ‘Bird Death Experience’ (1980) and ‘Erector’ (1981), it formed a vital vent of expression at the turn of the ‘70s into ‘80s, when by all accounts Britain was a bloody murky place, riddled with serial killers, admonished by Mary Whitehouse, and beginning to feel Thatcher’s iron grip.
Notorious and coveted by Whitehouse’s legion followers, ‘Total Sex’ is symptomatic of their uncompromising approach to everything from imagery to sound. The earliest version had an image of a victim of the Yorkshire Ripper, and its wholesale version sent to Rough Trade contained a gruesome picture of a Guanajuato mummy from Mexico, while this edition is faced by a passage of ‘120 Days of Sodom.’ The music follows with raw, mechanically reclaimed synth sounds that emulate the forced evacuation of bodily fluids from charred flesh, set to lyrics about male domination and leather steel coitus. It’s really not hard to draw a line from this subversive, belligerent intent and mode of expression to the earliest Prurient releases which would appear 26 years later.
In many ways the music and the themes which begat it are pure fucking evil, but also purely human, maybe even a reminder that shit has hardly changed since De Sade’s time in the 18th century, when repressive religious logic precluded rational thinking and suppressed aspects of human nature that have always lurked below the surface. ‘Total Sex’ brought this idea to light in an unprecedented context back in 1980 that continues to shock and provoke today.
Impressive recording of Bana Haffar breaking down her classical music conditioning thru modular hardware and field recording strategies. Employing a big rack of modules as well as location recordings made on digital and analog devices, we hear Haffar start with tape filtered traces of traditional Arabic music, but the show ends up somewhere quite different.
Over the proceeding 30 minutes the sample struggles thru a maze of hardware channels and FX, decaying and changing state into icy marble drops and glowing chords that seem to move ever further upwards, away from the source material, creating crystalline canopies that shatter into deliquescent rivulets only to emerge as Autechrian scree and shrapnel in the final part.
“A lifelong expatriate, Bana Haffar was born in Saudi Arabia in 1987 and spent much of her childhood in the GCC. Through her switch from 10 years of electric bass, preceded by classical violin, to modular synthesizers in 2014, Bana is attempting to dismantle years of institutional conditioning in traditional systems of music theory and performance. She is interested in exploring sonic disintegration and coalescence into new forms and synthesized experiences. Bana lives in Asheville, North Carolina.”
Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990 is an unprecedented overview of the country’s vital minimal, ambient, avant-garde, and New Age music – what can collectively be described as kankyō ongaku, or environmental music. The collection features internationally acclaimed artists such as Haruomi Hosono, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Joe Hisaishi, as well as other pioneers like Hiroshi Yoshimura, Yoshio Ojima and Satoshi Ashikawa, who deserve a place alongside the indisputable giants of these genres.
Holding dozens of rare gems from Japan, ‘Kankyō Ongaku’ feeds the ambient zeitgeist with a sublime survey of hard-to-find works by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haruomi Hosono, Joe Hisaishi and many others, all compiled by Visible Cloaks’ Spencer Doran and released for the first time outside Japan - including two tracks on vinyl not found on the CD.
Extending an unprecedented overview of Japan’s intersecting minimal, avant-garde, and New Age music realms, Spencer Doran expertly sequences work by titans of the Japanese scene along with beautiful pieces by artists little known beyond the country’s borders. While many of us may be acquainted with the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haruomi Hosono and Joe Hisaishi via their major label releases and work on Anime and Hollywood film soundtracks, the rest have largely remained obscure partly due to the notorious difficulty of licensing Japanese music in the west. Now, thanks to the work of YouTube algorithms in generating great interest in this area, and thru the dedication of obsessives such as Spencer Doran, this compilation is a very welcome part of the groundswell in official reissues from this unique, dreamlike time and space in the history of electronic music.
Scanning the years after digital synths began to flood the market, and the ideas of ambient music (Eno), and furniture music (Satie) had taken hold in Tokyo, the music on ‘Kankyō Ongaku’ is design-driven to inhabit personal spaces, to meld into the background and subtly frame everyday life. Oozing connotations of sophistication and luxury, the music can be heard as a result of Japan’s bubble economy in the 1980s, when it become a common currency for corporations as much as record labels, ending up on vinyl and CD as well as public installations, adverts for Sanyo air-con unit, and in-store soundtracks for the likes of Muji - all of which are contained within this collection.
It’s all so lovely that’s it’s a real struggle to pick highlights from the rest, and it would also miss the point - all the music shares the same ideal and executes its function exactingly, to linger in the air. It’s pretty much flawless stuff, awaiting the embrace of romantic sophisticates and Japan-o-philes everywhere.
A high water mark of drone and dark ambient spheres, ‘Soliloquy For Lilith’ is perhaps the most revered of Steven Stapelton’s prism pushers as Nurse With Wound - a massive influence on everything from AFX’s 'SAW II' to Coil and Sunn 0)))!!!
Recorded by Stapleton in May 1988 with his wife Diana Rogerson and a very sensitive array of FX units, the album features them creating feedback loops from only the amplified hum of their plugged-in machines; there was no input signal, just the sound serendipitously created when Stapleton moved his hand above the equipment, generating a spatial/spectral reaction akin to a theremin. Effectively forming a phanstamagoric dialogue between human and electrical energy fields, the results have riddled and enraptured countless “heads” for the past 30 years, and are acclaimed among the finest examples of what is regarded as “dark ambient” in circulation.
Arriving a decade into Nurse With Wound’s illustrious run of avant-garde classics that started with 1979’s ‘Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella’ and its now-holy “NWW List” of rare, underground psychedelic LPs, ‘Soliloquy For Lilith’ would become the group’s best received release, to the extent that its initial sales allowed Stapleton, Diana, and their new born daughter, Lilith, to move from a festering London to Cooloorta, Co. Clare, Éire, on the edge of the Burren, where their house is located only a kilometre from what would become Father Ted’s house, and is now listed as a artistic site of interest on Tripadvisor!
Regularly referenced by drone fiends and romantics of all stripes, ‘Soliloquy For Lilith’ has inarguably come to define a whole branch of ambient thought and practice over the past 30. The traction of its low register frequencies and the keening magnetism of its swirl would pull ambient music away from Eno’s conception of anodyne background music and somewhere closer to the spirit-massaging waves of early downtown practitioners such as Phill Niblock or Eliane Radigue, and in turn it created a bridge from their oblique yet transcendent scope into both the eeriest axes of AFX’s ‘SAW II’ masterpiece and the sprawling subharmonic distortion of Sunn 0))). It hardly needs to be stressed, but this album is an exceptional opus of atmospheric electronic music, no matter what angle you’re coming from.
“Both are legends because both innovate – and activate and motivate..."
"King Tubby (Osbourne Ruddock) arrived on earth in 1941. As a teenager he repaired radios before moving onto repair sound system speakers. Since the mid-50s, sound systems had conquered Jamaica, replacing live bands as the people’s favoured choice of access to their music. Tubby (a very slim man) found himself much in demand. In 1968, Tubby opened his own shop, Tubby’s Home Town Hi Fi. That led him into the world of sound, led him into recording studios where first he remixed. But then he got bored and in doing so released himself by devising his own amazing aural vision. Tubby invented dub and he did so by experimenting, by creating a unique template where he stripped away certain parts of the record, replaced them with another, highlighted some instruments, dropped others, and on top of this used all kinds of studio effects. And thus King Tubby became King of Dub. In 1971, inevitably, he opened his own studio – and he took the music deeper. Many musicians loved his set up, including Augustus Pablo. Pablo (Horace Swaby) arrived on earth in 1954. He hit the musical scene playing…the melodica.
No one had thought to do so previously. Again, the breaking of new ground was heard in Jamaica. The instrument was perfect for the King Tubby vision, Pablo’s playing producing a sound that was melodic, harsh, edgy, and soulful. Over Tubby’s shuffling rhythms and maelstrom of sound, Pablo improvises with huge imagination and skill. His major hit East Of the River Nile suggested and put forward a sound derived from the Far East and he was up and running. In 1975, he began a fruitful collaboration with King Tubby. Their first album together Ital Dub is a classic. The later King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown is more than that, it is legendary. And now The Messenger is upon us, an album cut at some point in the 70s and which remained in the vaults. Should it have stayed there? No way. This is music that upholds the very high stars of their past, music which fires itself on imagination and strength, a collusion and collaboration of immense proportions, music that provides and creates moods with such purpose and drive. Pablo’s melodica is centre stage but is counterpointed by contagious rhythms and touches of inspiration as horns and bass lines mesh in and out of view, held down by an ever steady barrage of sturdy drums and bass and a never ceasing source of imaginative and delightful sounds.
The sound constantly changes and because it does the album contains a staggering array of moods, from upbeat into deep waters. The Messenger is forward music, still sounding as fresh as it did on the day of its conception. And it will do so for time eternal.” Paolo Hewitt London 2019.
Ride are back with their second album since reforming - 'This is Not a Safe Place'
"They once again team up with producer Erol Alkan and mixer Alan Moulder, both of whom worked on 2017’s Weather Diaries, which came together quickly at the end of 2018. The first single is the sparkling “Future Love” which feature Ride’s lush, signature harmonies. They’ve always had a Byrds side to them and that plays out nicely here in a “Twisterella” kind of way. “Future Love is a song about the beginning of a relationship, when everything feels possible,” says the band’s Andy Bell."
Grimy, wonky cam shaft mechanics from L. Lund, minting a cranky debut of lurching rhythms and manacled digital noise for Andy Lyster’s burgeoning Youth label. RIYL Iueke, Brassfoot, Filter Dread...
Splashing around in the distorted wake of albums by FUMU and Hoshina Anniversary and the standout ‘Sports’ compilation, Finnish underground lynchpin L. Lund coughs up the label’s wildest patch of briering electronics yet to follow his equally scuzzy, nutty offerings on Calum Gunn and tuuun’s ace Co-Dependent label.
Dog-eared daubs of dancehall, grime and cubist electro are diced and in a feral, uncouth style that's become quite synonymous with the Youth label. From the charred subs and prickling electro trills of ‘Hold Back’ to the recursive blatz of ‘Spawn (Napalm Bat Version)’, your man holds a seething, stare-down intensity that just doesn’t let up. Bombed-out, hull-scraping bass charges in ‘Kops’ give way to sawn-off 8-bar styles in ‘Gassed’, while the swarming formations of ‘Go Ballistic (Irate Mix)’ recall aspects of Croww or 1127’s gnarled noise, and the pranging, window-smashing shrapnel of ‘Pusher (Version)’ comes off like a steaming drunk Anthoney Hart weapon.
Asymmetric, off-road, and thoroughly rotted with noise, this one’s a lot of mucky fun, and that artwork is properly on-point!
Vancouver’s ambient great Loscil returns with handfuls of foggy atmospheric saturation in ‘Equivalents’, his 12th solo album and 9th for long-term supporters at Kranky.
Framed by production methods mirroring the early 20th Century photographs of Alfred Stieglitz, regarded for “abstracting clouds into miasmic, painterly canvases of smoke and shadowplay”, Loscil vents eight voluminous swells of greyscale harmonics and distant, aeolian melody that beckons eyelids to half-mast and bodies to the horizontal.
Like Stieglitz’s naturally evocative images of cloud formations, Loscil’s ‘Equivalents’ are somber, wistful and beautiful in equal measure, looking above and beyond to scry for meaning in the firmament. Coming from Vancouver, a city nestled in straits that lead to the Pacific ocean, Loscil draws reflects an elemental play of light bouncing off big busy currents and big skies in a similar way to how, say, Philip Jeck can’t help but connote the silty shadowplay of light refracting off the Mersey and its waning canopy.
Fleetingly ephemeral yet immeasurably eternal, Loscil’s music feels like it occurred, rather than was made. Billowing chords loom and recede like vaporous castles in the sky, casting vast shadows of scudding bass, parting to reveal goodnight shafts of choral brilliance or textures as dense as flannel and wool, or finely effervescent as sea spray. It notably contains one tract ‘Equivalent 7’ with Loscil in collaboration with Amir Abbey aka Seceret Pyramid (Students of Decay, Ba Da Bing!) that was originally commissioned as a dance score for choreographer Vanessa Goodman, although it’s difficult to discern Abbey’s input, as it’s subsumed so well into the ebb and swell of the song.
Fuuck Buttons’ John Power goes for the jugular in his ravishingly direct and epic new Blanck Mass volley. Seriously, no punches are pulled here. Might as well take your top off before you start.
““In this post-industrial, post-enlightenment religion of ourselves, we have manifested a serpent of consumerism which now coils back upon us. It seduces us with our own bait as we betray the better instincts of our nature and the future of our own world. We throw ourselves out of our own garden. We poison ourselves to the edges of an endless sleep.
Animated Violence Mild was written throughout 2018, at Blanck Mass’ studio outside of Edinburgh. These eight tracks are the diary of a year of work steeped in honing craft, self-discovery, and grief - the latter of which reared its head at the final hurdle of producing this record and created a whole separate narrative: grief, both for what I have lost personally, but also in a global sense, for what we as a species have lost and handed over to our blood-sucking counterpart, consumerism, only to be ravaged by it.
I believe that many of us have willfully allowed our survival instinct to become engulfed by the snake we birthed. Animated — brought to life by humankind. Violent — insurmountable and wild beyond our control. Mild — delicious.
This is perhaps the most concise body of work I have written to date. Having worked extensively throughout my musical life with dramatics, narrative, and ‘melody against all odds’, these tracks are the most direct and honest yet. The level of articulation in these tracks surpasses anything I have utilized before.” -Benjamin John Power
This is the odd man out in the Ethiopiques series, which is ostensibly dedicated "the golden age of Ethiopian music."
"However, you could make a case that the fall of the Derg dictatorship in 1992 brought its own golden age, and it was celebrated in the azmaribets, the folk cabarets that proliferated in urban centers, notably Addis Ababa.
In many ways, it was pretty much the only popular music available. It's quite folkloric, and inevitably acoustic, and the Addis style, known as bolel ("car exhaust fumes"), as practiced by many of these performers, is often improvised, frequently sarcastic - a reveling in the new freedom. Of course, there are differentiations between the artists. Zedwitou Yohannes, one of the females singing in the cabarets, for example, as a habit of whistling while taking in breath, which comes across as quite distinctive, while her sister, Yezinna Negash, sometimes refers back to historical events to make her point. The azmaris use allegory a great deal, and their music, generally accompanied by strummed stringed instruments and percussion, might seem simple, but it offers a stunning level of complexity. And if you want to hear how Rastafarianism has traveled to its spiritual homeland, listen to Adaneh Teka sing "Bob Marley," which quotes the legend's Everything's Going to Be All Right - and in English, along with the name the name of other famous performers and soccer players - amid a fiddle line that can chill."
The third installment of Buda Musique's Ethiopiques series is undoubtedly one of the best, an unlikely occurrence as most of this material was released in 1975 - a year after the fall of Emperor Haile Sallassie and after the rise of a repressive military regime that quickly brought to an end the "Golden Age" of "Swinging Addis."
"Mahmoud Ahmed, the best known Ethiopian pop singer in Europe, contributes the two powerful lead tracks and the finale: three trance-heavy tracks not found on other Ethiopiqes releases dedicated specifically to him. But the best material on this installment are Alemayehe Eshete's tracks, four in all, that sound like heavy, James Brown-style funk sung by an African with a Middle Eastern horn section. Elsewhere, Hirut Beqele's ska-like rhythms and wavering, melodica-sounding voice testify to the reciprocal influence of Jamaican music."
This volume of the Ethiopiques series is the one that veers closest to what we think of as the traditional modern sound of Africa.
"The cycling stringed instruments, the chanting vocals, the handclaps, all remind one of juju music. Not that that's a bad thing. In fact, this might be the best single disc of traditional African music to emerge in the years prior to 2001. Most of this music is from the northern region of Eritrea and marked by a ring of singers and dancers who gradually increase the speed and complexity of their clapping and ululating to the point of frenzy. This is haunting stuff, not as mind-blowing as the sunglassed funk of the other volumes of the series, but charming in its way and a vital chapter in the musical history of the region."
Recording in the '70s in Addis Ababa, Ahmed mixed R&B with hypnotic Eastern vocal lines to create a most unusual style.
"At first the music seems familiar, with a lineup of guitar, bass, drums, and organ sounding like an ersatz Booker T and the MG's. But when Ahmed's keening, confounding voice joins in, listeners find themselves in new territory. The music is worthwhile just for its unsettling quality on Western ears."
A decade since debuting as The Haxan Cloak, Bobby Krlic is now a fully fledged soundtrack composer with his original score to the “Instagram-Wickerman” flick ‘Midsommar’ directed by Ari Aster (‘Heriditary’). Pastoral fairy tale themes vacillate with dissonant string symphonies and nods to ritualistic pagan folk
“Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) are a young American couple with a relationship on the brink of falling apart. But after a family tragedy keeps them together, a grieving Dani invites herself to join Christian and his friends on a trip to a once-in-a-lifetime midsummer festival in a remote Swedish village. What begins as a carefree summer holiday in a land of eternal sunlight takes a sinister turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that render the pastoral paradise increasingly unnerving and viscerally disturbing. From the visionary mind of Ari Aster comes a dread-soaked cinematic fairy-tale where a world of darkness unfolds in broad daylight.
Ari Aster selected British composer Bobby Krlic (also known by his stage name as The Haxan Cloak) to score the film. Best known for his dark instrumentals, Krlic has delivered a masterwork of tense, atmospheric pieces and beautiful orchestral movements. The compositions weave expertly with the looming threats clad in the daylight of Scandinavian countryside.”
Next in Coil’s archival excavations is their soundtrack to a pre-internet, VHS-only sex ed documentary released in 1992. Released from masters with the blessing of Danny Hyde (Jhon and Sleazy’s right hand man and go-to engineer), this first proper edition of the soundtrack features a newly reworked “sexy” edit of the main theme along with bonus reworks of ‘Nasa-Arab’ and ‘Omlagus Garfungiloops’ which appeared in the soundtrack to ‘Gay Man’s…’ as well as on 1992’s CD-only ‘Stolen And Contaminated Songs.’
In a way that Coil would shed with later recordings, ‘Gay Man’s Guide to Safer Sex’ sounds very much of its time, melding downtempo rhythms with smoky atmospheres in a way comparable to fellow ambient travellers such as The Orb and FSOL as contemporaneous material by Lynch & Badalamenti or even The Wildbunch, essentially nailing a sort of Balearic backroom or afterhours style.
The big highlights are the EP’s balmiest and jazziest bits, namely the dusky blue strut of ‘Alternative Theme From Gay Men’s Guide To Safer Sex’ that opens the EP, along with the iridescent shimmies of ‘Exploding Frogs’ and its rework ‘Omlagus Garfungiloops’, which could almost be a fantasy collaboration between Japanese Electronics-era Heinrich Mueller and Angelo Badalamenti at his most snake-hipped and winking.
While we’re not certain of the soundtrack’s efficacy in its purpose - it remains a unique piece of the impossible jigsaw puzzle that is Coil’s catalogue, and a fine throwback to early ‘90s ambient/downtempo styles.
Alessandro Cortini is best known as the lead electronics performer in Nine Inch Nails’, but in recent years his work as ‘Sonoio' and a pair of fine albums for Important Records under his own name have highlighted his own individual productions.
Known as one of the pre-eminent Buchla masters in North America, Cortini makes a surprising departure on this debut album for Hospital Productions by making use of little more than a Roland MC 202 fed through a delay pedal and ambient sound recordings taken in various hotel rooms recorded direct, sometimes into a small portable speaker system. “I liked to walk around the room with a handheld recorder to hear where the sequence would sound better, turn on faucets, open doors or windows to see how the ambient sounds would interact with the MC 202/delay/speaker sound…”
The result is a beautiful, evocative, highly unusual suite of tracks, quite removed from the Modular/Kosmische revivalism that’s been so preeminent over the last half decade. ‘Sonno' is soaked in atmosphere, those background recordings imbuing proceedings with a fizzing resonance that’s impossible to recreate artificially, making for essential listening for anyone who can’t get enough of classic material from ENO or AFX and bored with cheap imitations.
‘An Empty Bliss Beyond This World’ is perhaps The Caretaker’s most coveted and cherished venture into the haunted ballroom of the subconscious. It fetches a lot of moldy dough on the 2nd hand market, hence this new edition will be welcomed by many who’ve only picked up The Caretaker’s frayed thread since this album was first released in 2011.
Redefining ideas of “ambient” music on its release toward the start of this decade, the deeply unheimlich feel and sonic detritus of ‘An Empty Bliss Beyond This World’ have arguably provided a fitting score to the dazed feeling and regurgitated aesthetics of culture in the 2010’s. Despite sounding like mid-afternoon in an old folk’s home, we can vouch that it has (ironically enough) become a go-to afterparty staple for many gurned-up, memory-blipping listeners on one level, while also coming to characterise a whole stream of rumination on hauntology, a definitive idea of our age, as explored by the dearly departed theorist Mark Fisher, who prized The Caretaker’s “…understanding that the nostalgia mode has not to do memories but with a memory disorder…”, which he related to a form of dementia imposed by late stage capitalism.
Whichever way you take it, the record rarely fails to evoke personal reactions. Whether that’s nostalgia, sorrow, puzzlement, calm or despair is wholly variable, but it always takes listeners to that other place, like the one connoted in the dream-like scenes of Jack Nicholson unravelling in The Overlook ballroom during Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. With the sleight-of-hand of a veteran illusionist or hypnotist able to “conjure” parallel dimensions and manipulate metaphysics, The Caretaker subliminally uses the vague familiarity of vintage, nearly-forgotten music and the patter of gradual physical disintegration to reflect the side-tracking, melancholy nature of rainfall in much the same way as Burial, but with a haunted, middle distance stare all of its own.
Tom Johnson’s haunting minimalist classic ‘An Hour For Piano’ (1971), prefaced with the Feldman-esque ‘Spaces’ (1969), both performed by Keiko Shichijo at MIRY concert hall, Ghent, Belgium, April, 2018. Johnson ’s accompanying notes, meant to be read while listening to the piece, can be found at wandelweiser.de
“introduction to spaces: when i was studying with morton feldman, at his home in new york city, in the late '60s, he talked a lot about the importance of finding exactly the right sound. apparently i wasn't getting the point, so one day he tried a new tactic. "tom, I have a suggestion. don't write any music for a while. just listen to harmonies and think about them, and bring me a little collection of chords."
this seemed easy at first, but of course, it is very difficult to make a selection when there are literally millions of possibilities. everyday, when i would go back to the piano to look for my chords, i would change my mind, and i didn't know what to do. i couldn't go back to feldman saying i was unable to do the assignment, or that i didn't think it was important. but of course, if i went back with chords that sounded a little like his music or stravinsky's or someone else's, feldman would hear immediately that i had not taken his suggestion very seriously.
after working on the problem for two or three weeks, i decided to take him a little collection of seven chords. they all sounded similar, but i liked them all, and i couldn't find any better solution. with some trepidation, i showed my chords to feldman, who played them over about 10 times in different combinations, really liste- ning, the way he always did, and the way he wanted me to. finally he looked up and said, "you know, that's not bad. this is really your music. i think you learned a lot from this little exercise." feldman was never discouraging, but he did not pass along compliments very often either, and his positive reaction here was very meaningful to me.
it was some months after this, when i no longer went to study with him, that these seven chords found their place as the beginning of a new piece that I decided to call spaces. i could also say that this was the beginning of my life as a real composer.
- tom johnson, march 1994”
Guitarist Luis Fernandes appear to make the air sing on his fully fledged a solo debut proper for Room40 following his billowing 2018 collab with Joana Gama. RIYL Rafael Toral, Steve Hauschildt, Fennesz, Lawrence English
“For the first solo record under his own name, Luís Fernandes chose an on-point title that echoes in one word a constant feeling throughout Demora. Demora means ‘delay’ in Portuguese. Depending on the way you use it on a sentence, it can also mean that something is taking too long or it’s making someone wait for someone or something. Demora doesn’t take too long to show you its intentions, but it leaves you waiting. It tricks you to think to wait for the take-off until you realise you’re already in
It’s all part of the process that Luís embarked to create Demora. For this piece he decided to work in a different way from what he’s used to. The desire to create a piece with a constant flow with little variations was the starting point for his new album. Armed with a modular synthesizer, he recorded everything in one take to give the core structure of the album a unified sound that would create a permanent relationship with the listener.
Doing it in one take shaped the fundamentals for Demora. The flow of the improvisation gave room for Luís to play around with the structure and refine the sounds that now populate the main narrative of this 35-minute piece, separated in five different chapters.
The middle sections of Demora, ‘Demora Pt. 1’ and ‘Demora Pt.2’, sound like a reward. Not that you needed one. If you arrived there and felt tricked about the take-off, the slow and glimmering harmonies will provide the comfort you needed all along. It’s here that Demora shows how beautifully crafted it is, how the details aren’t just details. They’re the tiny screws that make the machine operate into a subtle kosmische lullaby. The details aren’t there to distract you from the main thing, they are there for you to embrace the core and follow the same flow, the same path, that Luís did when Demora took off in his synthesizer.
It took time for Luís to publish something solo under his own name. After years under various aliases and three beautiful releases with Joana Gama, including the Room40 release “At The Still Point Of The Turning World” (2018), Luís Fernandes has flourished with this mesmerising sonic experience.”
Tapping a sublime vein of purely vocal improv inspired by local landscape, history and people, Norfolk’s Laura Cannell and Polly Wright quietly blow us away with their debut collaboration.
Remarkably conceived, recorded and released in 2019 - the same year they first met - ‘Sing as the Crow Flies’ is a super-natural meeting of mutual souls seeking to limn a sort of deep topographical reading of their home turf in a series of haunting, near-wordless hymns. Shockingly effortless in execution and spine-freezing in effect, the nine songs are Laura & Polly’s beautifully concerted effort to rectify the lack of historical female voices in text or music hailing from the Norfolk/Suffolk borders where they live and create. With little to go on, they decided there’s no better time than now to start adding their joint female voices and experiences to the rural sound ecology and culture of East Anglia, and we, at the least, are dead happy they did so.
Drawing on a shared formative background in classical music (and specialities in medieval composition), they nod to the sort of heterophonic improvisation found in Pslams from the Isles of Lewis (as on those Arc Light Editions volumes), as well as Hildegaard Von Bingen inspired call-and-response styles, while taking select words from the 18th C. text ‘Norfolk Garland, A Collection of the Superstitious Beliefs and Practices, Proverbs, Curious Customs, Ballads and Songs, of the People of Norfolk’ to provide structural underpinnings. But what happens in between is just a spellbinding sort of magick, using Raveningham Church as a sounding chamber for their finely controlled but naturally keening and graceful, unhurried expressions of tradition and folklore.
The piece also exists as an installation of five telephone receivers dangling from a tree, in the landscape it was informed by and created for, and may well draw us for a maiden voyage to Norfolk just to get the full experience of this beautiful album.
Weirdly Eleh-sounding tones on the reliably out there Edition Wandweiser Records, keeping it real for but uncannily synthetic-sounding with John McCowen’s ‘Mundanas I-V’ (1986) studies for Clarinet, performed by McCowen and Madison Greenstone
The title ‘Mundana’ comes from Boethius’ (427-524 AD) printed work on ancient Greek music, and relates to the 6th century Roman philosopher’s ideas on “music of the spheres”, itself based on Greek beliefs in the way arithmetic and music are entwined. It was one of the first musical works to be printed in Venice between 1491 and 1492, and was instrumental in helping medieval authors during the 9th century understand Greek music.
In John McCowen’s ‘Mundanas I-V’, he explores the perceptive limits of Bb clarinets, demi clarinets, and BBb contrabass clarinets in a manner that we suspect relates to Boethius’ ideas on inaudible music, or tones that are felt rather than heard. Although we can hear the sounds produced by the clarinets in ‘McCowen’s ‘Mundanasa’, they barely sound acoustic and appear more like ringing oscillators in an Eleh piece. The first four pieces hover around about the 5-6 minute mark, and present some deeply odd, air-squeezed tones that curdle in mid-flight or shimmer with quivering harmonics, while the final, 11 minute part ‘V’ will hopefully baffle some real acoustic stick-in-the-muds and electronic types equally.
Amazing return from Alex Zhang Hungtai's Dirty Beaches; a sprawling double header opus of labyrinthine darkwave pop, knackered electronics and chamber experiments.
We've long been impressed by his work but this one is really something else, feeding forward the traces of dilapidated rockabilly, blues and garage that informed his brilliant 'Badlands' into a deeply captivating new sound more akin to Suicide, Andy Stott or Loren Connors. Crafted over the course of winter 2012 while living between Montreal and Berlin, it's leaden with heartbreaking gravity and existential self-reflection to often claustrophobic degrees but ultimately with a redemptive sense of catharsis that keeps it from sinking under the weight of his beautifully articulated misery.
It works as two albums conceptually linked but aesthetically cleft. The 'Drifters' half is driven by metronomic machine rhythms and hypnotically looped-up riffs haunted by forlorn vocals and Lynchian synth atmospheres, swaggering with a knackered but resolute sense of direction at times recalling Alan Vega at his glowering best, at others reminding of Tropic Of Cancer's emaciated, ghoulish presence. By the end of its eight tracks the gloom really sets in with 'Landscapes In The Mist', and at the point of no return the noirish suite of 'Love Is The Devil' takes hold; eight instrumental songs too depressed to speak, full of pining jazz-noir motifs, sepulchral keys, isolationist synth pads and heart-in-mouth string symphonies.
A minor masterpiece, no less.
A new album of exclusive, previously unreleased material from The Caretaker released in memory of and for Mark Fisher, the legendary writer, cultural theorist and pioneering blogger (k-punk) who passed away on the 13th January 2017. Copies of this release were given to all attendees of The Caretaker's Barbican performance for Unsound Disclocation last week. There are now 400 more copies available - please noite that ths edition isn't numbered or signed. 100% of proceeds from this release will be donated to MIND, the mental health charity - so if yr thinking of flipping these - please don't.
Ever since he wrote the extensive liner notes for The Caretaker’s Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia boxset in 2005, Mark Fisher was instrumental in contextualising the complex, abstract nature of The Caretaker’s music to beguiled listeners across the world. Along with the music of Burial and Broadcast, for example, The Caretaker’s output fell under what Fisher described as “Hauntology” - a portmanteau of haunting and ontology which is rooted in Derrida’s study of the failure of Marxism and the left - which Fisher applied to contemporary culture, distinguishing merely “nostalgic” and revivalist culture from hauntological art and culture which is typified by its “refusal to give up on the desire for the future.”
The Caretaker’s work, including this billowing new longform piece, has always resonated with and fed into Fisher’s ideas, so we could hardly think of a more fitting send off from Leyland Kirby’s cherished vessel. We wholeheartedly recommend this CD, and also reading all of Fisher’s work - from his collected writings for The Wire and other publications, to his daringly seminal Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative?, which proposes a direct link between increased diagnoses of mental health problems and the incessant trudge of capitalism, and suggest a way beyond the assertion that “it is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism”.
‘Seitō’ is a compilation of modern, experimental Japanese female artists gathered to echo the stylistic richness of the ’Tokyo Flashback’ series issued by P.S.F. in the early ‘90s, under a title referring to a cult feminist magazine printed in Japan during the 1910s
Yet another curveball from the Paris-based Akuphone label, ‘Seitō: In the Beginning, Woman Was the Sun’ lassos artists of traditions ranging from dub to the avant-garde, dance music and free improv, serving a broad but coherent cross-section of music by Japan lasses active at home and abroad.
The distance between Fuji Yuki’s doomy, noisy tract ‘Blood Moon’ and the way Keiko Higuchi channels Diamanda Galas in the low-lying folk drone torpor of ‘Okesa Bushi’ exemplifies the extent of the LP’s remit, which bows to haunt dub abstraction in Kiki Hitomi and Disrupt’s KMS-like ‘Gain And Lose’, a skunking house workout by Mikado Koda, and the album’s centrepiece highlight, the small sound shuffles of Miki Yui in ‘Radicalv.’
When Harry Bertoia's Sonambient label was resurrected, the intention was to tell the story of Bertoia's groundbreaking Sonambient work as revealed through his extensive collection of notes and recordings. When the first new LP was released in 2016 Important Records were only in possession of 1/20th of the archive. Now, they're excited to release the first LP of new material from the full archive.
"The recordings contained on this LP were selected because of their relationship to Bertoia's body of recorded work. The titles are from from Bertoia's notes which Bertoia placed in each tape box, indicating date and describing briefly. Like his sculptures, Bertoia never titled his recordings but frequently referred to specific concepts he was pursuing. These are among the earliest known examples of Bertoia using terms which would become more common in the years to come: "experimental," "mechanical" and "long sounds."
Very few of Bertoia's early experimental sessions survive on tape: he did not record many and often erased those he taped. Most were not recorded and those that were recorded were often erased. Those that remain, however, offer fascinating insights into how Bertoia likely worked in the barn when the tape machine wasn't running. Although he left behind hundreds of tapes, one can only begin to imagine the amount of unrecorded sessions that took place in Bertoia's barn.
Experimental I shows the artist stretching out, in no hurry and avoiding any bombastic explosiveness. We imagine Bertoia looking around the barn much as he is seen on this album's cover; searching for the next sound in his forest of metal wires. Unheard combinations of sculptures, percussion and long strummed sections make this recording unique. This piece has a an effortless, natural flow.
There appear to be at least 10 tapes from 1969-1975 that Bertoia noted were “Mechanical.”. Bertoia thought of his sculpture as a collaboration with industry since the diameters of his rods were, ultimately, determined by what was available from the factory that manufactured them. In that sense, Bertoia's music could, quite literally, be considered industrial and this piece has the metallic rhythms of a factory pulsing through it.
Long Sounds I: (CD only)
Bertoia mentions "long sounds" often in his notes. It's likely he used this phrase to describe the moments when he would allow a gong or tonal sculpture to reverberate and decay. As a result, passages or entire tapes where this phrase is used tend to be more spacious and reverberant, slower, calmer, grounded. Bertoia rustles up big bursts of sound and then lets them slowly recede, analyzing the results and considering the possibilities of including them in his sonic canvas. "
Another of Room40's delectable limited editions - this one comes from label boss Lawrence English, and of course no expense has been spared. The music (about 20 minutes in total) is only on the inside 3 inches of the disc, leaving a large empty plastic space which has been gorgeously screen-printed to produce a classic 'picture disc' kind of feel to the release.
Luckily though this is not a case of style over substance, and the sounds hidden within are just as devastating. English created this piece from masses of field recordings he had collected around Australia, which has resulted in a deeply personal piece of music that says evokes the landscapes in which English is most comfortable. Australia is one of those places that often gets forgotten when it comes to music, especially electronic music, but Room40 really is emerging as a real creative beacon down under, and it's discs like this one which really transport us to its vast, intriguing terrain. Recommended.
Including an acid remix of Steve Davis’ Thundermuscle, among other oddities, ‘Repeat’ is a 26-track compilation of acid rave trax by veterans such as Humanoid, Mark Archer (Altern-8), µ-Ziq, Gez Varley (LFO) and Todd Osborn (TNT), plus relatively younger acts such as Chevron, Emma Catnip, and Polysick
Based on the silliness of ‘Bippy2’ Steve Davis should definitely stick to DJing or snooker, but the veterans have you sorted for trippy dance music between the eczema acid breaks of B. Dougan aka Humanoid’s ‘Far Point’, while Mark Archer plays is deep with ‘House In U’, and Gez Varkley will get those cowie jaws going with the direct churn of ‘Acid Thunder (LFO Mix)’ and Mike Paradinas gets top marks for an early SoYo acid style in ‘Reaching (Future Feeling).’ Elsewhere Polysick serves a sweetly mild dose with ‘Pastoral’; Kev Cotter goes on a Derrick May/Kev Sanderson flex with ‘Black Synthesis’, and Wisp gets the ’91 hardcore styles right with ‘Catacomb Sound.’
Various configurations of four jazz titans recorded live one evening during Cafe Oto’s early years
“This recording from the earlier years of Cafe Oto documents the impossible pairing of four contemporary giants. Its one of those miraculous one off groupings that reminds us why the venue opened in the first place.’
“The magic of the first minutes – an alto solo by Joe McPhee of true purity – soft-spoken, masterful and accomplished – brought back to mind the blissful Coleman/Haden duet last year at the Royal Festival Hall. ‘Ornette gave me freedom to move in a certain way,’ said McPhee. He searched hesitantly and carefully for his words, all the more surprising from such an articulate musical (or, as he might say ‘muse-ical’) practitioner and campaigner. Coleman’s 80th birthday coincided with McPhee’s stint at Cafe Oto.
McPhee and his co-musicians delivered an intense performance which was both creative and restrained. With Evan Parker ‘s tenor in tow – a collaboration going back to the late 70s – and Lol Coxhill, sitting with head bowed intently, a soprano master – it could have gone anywhere, yet they worked off each other, often in the higher registers, building up almost bird-call like interactions and trills. Earlier, Chris Corsano‘s drumming presented a dense bedrock for McPhee to play against, and his solo spell was a crisp exercise in sonic curiosity.
McPhee picked up his soprano mid-way through the second set, heightening the lyricism of the three saxophones. Then, being a devotee of Don Cherry, he switched to pocket trumpet, allowing him to interject, and punctuate the concentrated sound layers built up by the quartet, and lead the music out through a different door”- Geoff Winston (londonjazznews.com)
Recorded 10th March 2010, this is also a document of the only time Lol Coxhill and Joe Mcphee shared the stage. The recording is a little rough, but hey, so was your birth!”
Compiling the final three albums in the 'Everywhere At The End Of Time' series - 4 x CD's and almost 5 hours of material cataloguing the ultimate descent into dementia and oblivion, using a patented prism of sound to connote a final, irreversible transition into the haunted ballroom of the mind that The Caretaker first stepped into with 1999’s ‘Selected Memories From the Haunted Ballroom’.
Invoking Jack Nicolson’s caretaker character in Stanley Kubrick/Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ as metaphor for issues revolving around mental health and a growing dissociation/dissatisfaction with the world, the project really took on new dimensions in 2005 with the 72-track, 6CD boxset ‘Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia’, which was accompanied by an insightful unpacking of its ideas by cultural critic Mark Fisher aka K-Punk; a stalwart of the project who identified it (alongside music from Burial and Broadcast) among the most vital, emergent works of Hauntological art - a form of music often preoccupied with ideas about memory and nostalgia (but one distinct from pastiche), and the way that they possibly overwhelm, occlude, or even define our sense of being; ideas that resonate with Fisher’s own assertion that capitalism essentially undermines collective thought, distorts the individual, and has tragically lead to a worldwide increase or even ubiquity of mental health-related issues.
By using fusty samples from an obsolete analog format, and by doing so in the 2nd decade of the 2nd millennium, The Caretaker perfectly and perversely bent ideas of anticipation/expectation with his arrangements, playing with notions of convention and repetition with effect that would lead some listeners to wonder if the same record was being released over and again. When combined with Ivan Seal’s bespoke painting for each release from 2011’s ‘An Empty Bliss Beyond This World’ onwards, the project crystallised as a real gesamtkunstwerk for these times, and one arguably defined by a stubborn and intractably chronic drive against the grain of modern popular culture, or even a refusal of it.
And so to the project’s final goodbye. Drifting from the silty departure of ‘Confusion so thick you forget forgetting’, thru the smudged anaesthetisation of ‘A brutal bliss beyond this empty defeat’, and the abyssal, distant echoes of ‘Long decline is over’, to the increased pauses that punctuate the final side’s piece, ‘Place in the World fades away’, it eventually leads to a final coda that breaks the fourth wall.
Here, with the outside world muted and only the timbral residue remaining like smoke, everything moves as slow as a Lynchian dream sequence - until a conclusion so ineffably sublime occurs that we can’t mention it for fear of waking up.
Preminent soundtrack composer and virtuoso cellist tactfully mirrors the mood of HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ docudrama in her crushingly dark ‘Music From The TV Series’
One of this year’s must-see bits of telly, ‘Chernobyl’ tells the ill-fated tale of the Russian nuclear power station, its catastrophic end, and its fallout - both nuclear and political - thru a ruck of gurning British actors and Stellan Skarsgård.
The most memorable part of the series, however, is Hildur Guðnadóttir’s soundtrack, where she clearly relishes the opportunity to limn the series' portentous and overcast feel with sounds ranging from Mika Vainio-esque Geiger counter triggers to more typical cinematic strokes of her cello, as epitomised in the spine-chilling theme. If you’ve seen he series and are not his site, you’re probably clicking buy already, but if you haven’t seen it, or just CBA, but still love dark Nordic ambience, it would be remiss of you to overlook this disc.
"When we look back now over our catalogue we realise how lucky we were to be working with so many of the world’s great artists.” - Peter Gabriel
"Launched 30 years ago in 1989, Real World Records has grown into a label of wide-ranging, world-class music from all corners of the globe. There are an enormous variety of styles, moods and genres within the music catalogue that bear the famous colour bar logo but they all have these things in common - the quality of the recording, the superb production and music of great passion. “
Many of the label’s releases are recorded at Real World Studios where the live interactive spaces provide an environment capable of capturing the excitement and vitality of musicians in performance. “Whatever the music, whatever the technology, great records come from great performances.” Peter Gabriel
Sublime to raucous jazz blast from free guy Charles Gayle, powered by John Edwards’ possessed double bass and Mark sanders percussive depth charge
“Charles Gayle is a saxophonist, pianist, sometimes a clown and radical musical performer wrapped into the body of a humble person living in Downtown Manhattan since the 1960s. As this set attests to, It is sometimes hard to predict what he will do on stage... In all his musical (and personal) life Charles Gayle has remained outside of any form of mainstream, carving his own singular path. There is no player on the scene today with the emotional wallop of Charles Gayle.
John Edwards is a true virtuoso whose staggering range of techniques and boundless musical imagination have redefined the possibility of the double bass and dramatically expanded its role, whether playing solo or with others. Perpetually in demand, he has played with Sunny Murray, Derek Bailey, Joe McPhee, Peter Brötzmann, Mulatu Astatke and many others.
Ubiquitous, diverse and constantly creative, drummer Mark Sanders has worked with a host of renowned musicians including Derek Bailey, Henry Grimes, Mathew Shipp, Roswell Rudd, in duo and quartets with Wadada Leo Smith and trios with Sirone and William Parker.
Here we present a 2CD set documenting the two very special sets delivered on the 15th of November, 2017 at Cafe Oto, Dalston, London.”
Compiling the first 3 albums in the 'Everywhere At The End Of Time' series - two and a half hours long, each album reveals new points of progression, loss and disintegration, progressively falling further and further towards the abyss of complete memory loss and nothingness...
Embarking on the Caretaker’s final journey with the familiar vernacular of abraded shellac 78s and their ghostly waltzes to emulate the entropic effect of a mind becoming detached from everyone else’s sense of reality and coming to terms with their own, altered, and ever more elusive sense of ontology.
The series aims to enlighten our understanding of dementia by breaking it down into a series of stages that provide a haunting guide to its progression, deterioration and disintegration and the way that people experience it according to a range of impending factors.
In other words, Everywhere At The End of Time probes some of the most important questions about modern music’s place in a world that’s increasingly haunted or even choked by the tightening noose of feedback loops of influence; perceptibly questioning the value of old memories as opposed to the creation of new ones, and, likewise the fidelity of those musical memories which remain, and whether we can properly recollect them from the mire of our faulty memory banks without the luxury of choice
Ferocious, previously unreleased Masami Akita works produced circa 1994’s ‘Venereology’ and ‘Hole’, now issued by Room 40 to mark the 40th anniversary of Merzbow’s conception.
“In the late 1980s, Masami Akita’s Merzbow began to shift from being a studio project into a fully fledged performative undertaking. It was a decisive period that began opening up new possibilities for his very particular approach to sound.
Across the first half of the 1990s, Merzbow began touring extensively across Europe, the United States and also in his homeland. It was during this period that the dynamism of Merzbow exploded and the physicality of volume became a primary driver for the experiential capacity of the work.
Simultaneously, Merzbow began developing a range of self made instruments and techniques for exploiting found objects as sound sources, which he used in combination with amplifiers to create a unique spectra of noise and feedback both in the studio and live.
Noise Mass catalogues a critical period within the continuum of Merzbow. It typifies the radical approaches he developed not just through his music, but also through mastering, pushing the very medium of digital audio to its limit through extreme post-production approaches.
Of Noise Masami Akita remarks,
“This was around the time Venereology was released from Relapse and the work of Merzbow became more well known to the world. Far greater quantities of that Relapse release were pressed, and much more promotion along with it. In other words, the image of Merzbow's music as it is best known in the world today came from this time. The music of Merzbow has always been a continuum, the piece added this time to Noise Mass, the revised version of Hole, is a work utilising a voice similar in style to Venereology. Listening to both Hole and Venereology, one can appreciate how these works constitute a thread of continuity through this period.”
Noise Mass is just that, a ritual of intensity and ferocity that denotes the force that is Merzbow’s approach to noise in the absolute.”
The finely textured concrète grain richly detailed location recordings and ASMR-like vocals of ‘Waking, She Heard the Fluttering’ appears to be the first solo release by Alexandra Spence, or at least her first for Lawrence English’s Room 40
Taking cues from a three month trip to Europe, where she immersed in the UK - cold London, cheap pints, meeting David Toop and recording fences in Scotland with Chris Watson - and also swam in the nudist lake at Grunewald, Berlin, Alexandra turns those experiences into smoothen like a recollection of a dream, or the sounds of waking into a dream.
In its 45 minute lifespan, the piece demonstrates the artist’s keen ear for sonic ecologies, both macroscopic and microscopic, taking the listener on a heavy-lidded trip in and out of electro and acoustic dimensions from the serene gentility of ‘Bodies In Place’ thru the harmonic blush andASMR whispers of ‘Bodyscan’, to the mesmerising rustle of what sounds like a pocket dial in ‘A Soft Crackle’, with more SMR poetry in ‘Flora (For A Friend)’, and beautifully transportive tracts such as the 15 minute title track and gossamer tactility of ‘Sky and Sea Were Indistinguishable’.
The long-awaited fourth full-length by Föllakzoid isn’t merely a recalibration for the band. It is a multidimensional reconsideration of what the process of songwriting, performance, and creating a work of recorded music can be.
"Föllakzoid grows via depuration, aiming with each record to fill longer spaces of time with fewer and fewer elements. The creative perspective of the band has always been about unlearning the narrative and musical knowledge that shape the physical and digital formats and conceptions available, both visually and musically in order to make a time-space metric structure that dissolves both the author and the narrative paradigms. “We found our sonic and metric identity even more in these songs than in our previous attempts,” guitarist/singer Domingæ GarciaHuidobro explains.
Unlike past Föllakzoid records, that were done in single takes with the full band, this record took three months to construct out of more than 60 separate stems – guitars, bass, drums, synthesizers, and vocals, all recorded in isolation. Producer Atom TM, who was not present for recording, was then asked to re-organize the four sequences of stems without any length, structural restrictions or guidelines. Those sequences ultimately became the four long tracks that appear on I.
The result of this was a set of songs where neither the band’s, nor the producer’s, structural vision primarily shaped the metric or tonal space shifts, but where both were still subliminally present in each of the parts that form the structure and the frequency modulations that guide them.“We invite you to join us in sharing the experience of being led by this nonrational, sonic artform and its energy. It is also an invitation to connect once again with your inner master and his intuition, erasing the systematic rationalization that usually follows creative forces when perceived, to guide you on this holographic simultaneous simulation where reality is rooted in,”
‘Kiri Variations’ is Clark’s first self-released album on Throttle. It’s a soundtrack-like suite of neo-classical ambient styles stemming from his work on Euros Lyn’s 2018 TV miniseries.
"Mysterious and morbidly beautiful pieces driven by piano, harpsichord, clarinet, strings, electronics and voice are interspersed with fabulously unusual and highly original curveballs: Odd-in-a-brilliant-way, the faux naïve ‘Kiri’s Glee’, evokes traveling minstrels of yore accidentally eating the wrong ‘shrooms, and ‘Coffin Knocker’ has diffracted psych feel, like David Axelrod’s work with the Electric Prunes, but chopped, screwed and scorched.
‘Forebode Knocker’ is darkly funky, like the kind of lost diggers’ nugget unearthed and sampled by RZA, whilst the sonically-perfect ‘Primary Pluck’ unfurls exquisitely, swaying slowly ever forward like a funeral march. ‘Cannibal Homecoming’ is nothing short of Clark’s most song-based composition ever, featuring augmented human voice as evident elsewhere and also a fully-fledged vocal sung by him. ‘Kiri Variations’ started life as the score to the BAFTA-nominated TV program ‘Kiri’, but only a small (and highly effective) portion of the music recorded was used – intentionally sparingly – by director Euros Lyn. That first incarnation has since grown and morphed intosomething entirely of its own being; a proper artist album.
“In addition to my usual methods of controlled randomness and tangential ideas, the TV commission was a prominent spark for new approaches. It’s a great balancing contrast with the solipsistic studio album”, Clark explains. The record allows simplicity and playfulness to shine through: “It’s a skeleton of an album, reduced to bare essentials, although it started out rather dense - the thing that takes time is making it succinct."explains Clark. “Certain parts are also what you could call anti muso – for example the recorder on ‘Kiri’s Glee’ is totally out of tune – but it sounds so colourful. I can’t resist the primary paint of acoustic instruments; it’s an antidote to frictionless digital music."
Classy, luminous album of synth-pop and early techno-house-influenced songs from Ascetic House originals Body of Light, channelling the perky glamour of ‘80s pop and the sleaze of early ‘90s NYC dance music - think Depeche Mode meets early Joey Beltram at a Stranger Things-themed club night
“Birthed from Arizona’s regaled Ascetic House collective, Body of Light is a dark synth-pop outfit comprised of young brothers Andrew and Alexander Jarson. What began as a vehicle for their exploration of noise and sound during their early teens has evolved into an established production over the last decade, as Body of Light continues to carve out their own style of complex, structured, and moving dancefloor electronics.
Their music is not only individually personal, but drawn from experiences shared between the two brothers – and calls on elements of new wave, freestyle, goth, and techno to create timeless and singular tracks without fear of trend or passing fashion.
On their third album Time to Kill, Body of Light refines their brand of cold and driving synth pop with a bold pallet of sounds and a focus on uncharted technique and purpose. Like the pale digital stare of the modern devices surrounding our daily lives, the album weaves stories of love and obsession in an era of technical bondage and fleeting exhilaration. Written over a period of intense and profound change, Time to Kill stands as a startling reminder of how important our existence truly is. Haunting keys, swelling pads, and punching rhythms score their work as Alex Jarson presents an alluring and romantic dialogue with confident projection. The title single “Time to Kill” kicks off the album with a merciless signature beat, complimented by distorted sample patterns against an infectious, moving bass groove that invites you to “let the memories fade.” The follow up single “Don’t Pretend” invokes sparkling nostalgia and innocence over a dark and driving beat paired with vintage electronic movements. The haunting “Dangerous”, slows the pace with its pendulum-like rhythm and ominous intonation, falling between a hopeful synth pop ballad and shadowy dirge – a slow dance for the sunrise set.
Produced by Matia Simovich at Infinite Power Studios in Los Angeles and mastered by Josh Bonati, Time to Kill shines with new direction and new intention through lustrous production and innovative songwriting.”
‘Light Pipe’ is a typically expansive missive by modular maestro M. Geddes Gengras, clocking in at 2.5 hours of abstract deep space ambience with traces of ‘70s synth epics and ‘90s chill-out functions smudged and teased into diaphanous new abstractions.
“To summarise the work of M.Geddes Gengras is no easy feat. A tireless artist, whose output sprawls across experimental dub, ambient and low key techno, his wide ranging discography reveals a curiosity that serves as a primary driver for creation.
Light Pipe is arguably Gengras’ most ambitious recording project to date. His 10th solo recording is an epic undertaking, spanning over two and a half hours. Across the two CD set, Gengras charts out evocative landscapes of texture and harmony. Working with very simple elements, he creates a tidal like sound space, where sound layers flow seamlessly, rising and falling with an ever-changing sense of motion.
These pieces were written across several years responding the site specific performance situations. These include a durational performance in Los Angeles at The Getty Center’s Irwin Garden, a special performance alongside the banks of the LA river and performances at the El Rey & Regent Theatres, Each disc in this edition focuses specifically on either interior and exterior spaces; the indoor and the outdoor, reflecting the specific conditions of how sound operates in these types of situations.
Light Pipe is a long-form work within which multiple states of listening are possible and moreover encouraged. It’s music that is ideal for deep immersion; for sleep, for flying and for any creative states within which a sense of expansion is needed.”
The Collection is an intimate survey of Italian minimalist Nicola Ratti (Bellows) in his element, conducting dusty knocks and electro-acoustic effervescence in a play of greyscale tones and rhythmic irregularities at his Milan studio. Featuring material recorded over a number of years, it’s best considered as summary of Ratti’s personal favourite, unreleased highlights of the past few years, focussing on stray, ostensibly unconnected pieces which, when collected, represent a mosaic of his artistic development and the underlying aesthetics of his identity.
Hand-picked by Ratti, The Collection peers into every nook and niche of his elusive style, from fidgeting small sounds redolent of Bellows, to booming slow techno and rolling, reactive dub mutations primed for the ‘floor, each giving a canny insight to the personalised intricacies and underlying inputs of his texturhythmic sound.
It’s the kind of music that the machines may make behind our backs or once we’re all gone. But, as it stands, it’s all the work of one man sequestered in his studio with his worries, facing banks of gear and often wondering what the f**k am I going to do today? That may not be instantly detectable to the listener, but as Ratti stresses in the promo text, this is an unspoken aspect of the recording process which belies each of these recordings, if only to him.
These outside pressures of artistic endeavour vs capitalist realism thus serve to inform the material’s agitated nature and emotional ambiguity, there in the itchy yet sanguine feel of L2, laced into the quizzical probe of L6, diffused thru the recursive dub-tech system of L1, or rendered in perfectly elusive, gaseous fashion with R401, which arguably defines his sound as uniquely suggestive not prescriptive.
Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
A master of intense but barely-there music, Dale Cornish completes a 5-album cycle for Entr’acte with the spellbindingly skeletal and sexy gestures of ‘Enhex’.
Started in 2012 with ‘Glacial’ and taking in the deco rave minimisations of ‘Xeric’ (2014), ‘Ulex’ (2015), and ‘Aqal’ (2017), Dale’s Entr’acte run has consistently, playfully toyed with ideas of anticipation and stylistic convention in electronic music for the best part of this decade. With ‘Enhex’ he yields one of the most forceful instalments with the same strict methodology that we’ve come to know and love about his music.
Sonically ascetic as Mark Fell and as rude as Russell Haswell, but with a queered tactility of his own, Dale continues to plough his own groove in ‘Enhex.’ From the spittly, gasping blatz and gut punch kicks of crowd favourite ‘Enhex Pattern 1’ he does it singularly throughout all 9 cuts. Whether diffusing boomy bass hits and flickering rimshots into acres of nothingness on ‘Enhex Pattern 2’, coming like a stoned Alva Noto in ‘Enhex Pattern 4’, really crushing on your cochleas with ‘Enhex Pattern 5’, or dancing with killer, ricochet dynamics in ‘Enhex Pattern 8’, Dale very knowingly moves in between the lines of convention, locating canny routes of investigation which, for all their ostensibly minimal construction, open vast playgrounds and suggest slightest prompts for the listener’s imagination and body to cut loose.
The square root of Berlin techno and UK Hardcore, Torsten Pröfrock's productions as Dynamo are now two decades old yet still sound like they were beamed in from some alternate timeline where electronic music took a turn away from polite conformity and instead splintered into the unknown.
Originally released in 2002, 'Außen Vor' collects tracks from four 12"s issued between 1996-2000 on Pröfrock's Din label and distributed via Hardwax, which he has staffed for more than two decades. A long-time staple around these parts, its ten tracks document the developments of Dynamo's dub-reduced techno tessellations from the scudding warehouse techno of 'Traktor Artists' thru the bass-swollen breakbeat minimalism of 'Voraus 1' and 'Voraus 2' to the spring-loaded step of four razor-sharp 'Aufenthalt’ variations.
While the definition of "Berlin techno" seems to have calcified around the dub chords and 4/4 formula in recent years, it's all the more important that the music on 'Außen Vor' reveals an ostensibly hidden history of Berlin dance music that’s as much influenced by UK Hardcore and D&B and the mechanics of the scene that followed, from Autechre in the UK, to the Schematic axis in Miami - all equally important, for us at least, to it's evolution, and an influence and predecessor to those contemporary artists who have continued to operate outside the margins.
Spanning a career well into its third decade, Spoon returns with a Best Of compilation, ‘Everything Hits At Once: The Best Of Spoon’. In addition to the 12 fan-adored tracks making up this album, Spoon return with the bold new ‘No Bullets Spent’.
"How many rock bands from the past 25 years could get away with a greatest hits album? Spoon stand alone, with a career-spanning retrospective culled from all over their unique songbook. It’s a flawless compilation of their best-known, bestloved tunes yet it’s still full of surprises - the only thing you could expect from a band that’s spent their whole career taking people by surprise."
Gloomy, rustic, cinematic soundscapes issued as part of Gizeh’s ‘Dark Peaks’ series.
“Several Wives lie in the darkened corner of a room. Paintings torn, forgotten against the wall. Dead rhythms seep through the floor. Everything is tired. Everything is jaded.
Göldi fell is Several Wives’ newest work, following on from the excellent Blonde, Arms Tight Black cassette release on Tombed Visions last year. The bowed, electro-acoustic, heavy drones continue and present an almost horror-soundtrack performance of intense beauty. It’s a deep, dark world of reverb, echoes, and distant pulses all struggling to be heard and understood.
This is a stunning piece of experimental, almost classical work, evoking a sense of ethereal dread and mournful regret. A thick air creeps in. It’s a doom-ladened record and one that will take you over if you let it.”
Arriving on a prevailing IDM/electronic breeze, clinical sound designer Detach’i is at his sweetest, emotive and detailed best for Aaron Funk aka Venetian Snares’ Timesig label, rinsing out a personalised intimacy from unwieldy Eurorack modules
“Much like its predecessor, 'Bones' manages to make the most of the possibilities modular systems offer, whilst avoiding their many pitfalls that can often turn such music into little more than a dry academic exercise. Indeed 'Bones' is a remarkably intimate album, written and recorded in the time following his father's death, and reflects this intense period of personal change in Joseph's life. "Creating this music was a therapy of sorts," Joseph recalls. "It was almost like a close friend being there for me, and it's something that I hope others can, perhaps, utilize in the same way."
The connection to his father is something that is reflected not just in the emotional intensity of 'Bones', but in the actual production itself. "My father and I were very close," he explains. "Whilst he was sick with cancer I bought him a guitar as he wanted to learn how to play, just to have something to do while he was getting treated. After he passed away my mother gave me the guitar to have as a sort of memory of him. I had the idea to record some sounds and music on the guitar and load it onto granular sample players on the modular synth so I could make new music from those sounds as a sort of tribute to my dad. You can hear some of those sounds on a few of the tracks here like 'Arrivals', 'Motion in the Living Room' and 'Undimension'."
The resulting album grapples with the intensity of these emotions. But for all their weight, tracks like 'Saugerties Road', ‘Rockledge 3A’ and ‘Antumalal’ transform that heaviness into something warm and comforting whilst the aforementioned 'Arrivals' or ‘Wand’ ultimately achieve some kind of escape velocity and soar. Even though 'Bones' is about endings and finding closure, it also looks forward to new beginnings. "It was something very much on my mind throughout recording this album," he relates, "ends being beginnings and beginnings being the end. Cycles of time and how time works, it's all reflected throughout the album right down to how the tracks are ordered."
Ranging from blissful ambience and guileless, starry eyed melodies, to intricate claustrophobic rhythms that forever sound close to collapsing in on themselves before expanding into bold new patterns, 'Bones' is the work of a producer who, twenty years on from his debut, continues to push the boundaries of electronic music.”
Regis & Surgeon’s pivotal British Murder Boys, one of techno’s greatest, shake up and recombine bleeding edge contemporary techno with provocative, enduring industrial inspirations from Throbbing Gristle and Coil on this rare outing, packaged in a deluxe 6 panel gatefold digifile
From the incendiary opening sample of Jim Jones used in ‘Hate Is Such a Strong Word’, thru a crushed iteration of ’As Above So Below’, and back to their definitive early statement ‘Don’t Give Way To Fear’ via various hacked and processed BMB components, the decorated veterans invariably make mincemeat of the shouty dilettantes who have committed to this arena in recent years.
Regis mans the mic, swaggering around Surgeon’s shredded drum patterns and egging on the intensity, but also knowing when to wind his neck in and stop short of the sort of the showboating industrial cliches that drove dancers from industrial to techno in their droves during the early-mid ‘90s. In essence, the decorated veterans’ sense of seething restraint, coupled with deadly conviction and technical expertise, makes ‘Fire In The Still Air’ a definitive BMB set for the ages, one ready and willing to trigger a riot anytime.
Just don’t call it a comeback.
Editions RZ collects historical recordings of Italy's forward looking and influential Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza 1967-75, a collective featuring Egisto Macchi (percussion + celesta), Ennio Morricone (trumpet), Walter Branchi (bass), Franco Evangelisti (piano), John Heineman (trombone + cello), Roland Kayn (hammond organ + vibes + marimbaphon), Giovanni Piazza (horn), Frederic Rzewski (piano), and Jesus Villa Rojo (clarinet).
All skilled players and composers, the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza were formed in 1964 at the initiative of Franco Evangelisti with an aesthetic agenda looking beyond the boundaries of previous improvisational musics. They focussed on production and the qualities of sound itself, employing innovative recording and playing techniques at the limits of their capabilities as performers and composers in order to discover the "new consonance" inferred in their nomenclature.
These ten pieces spanning eight years are highly considered works of art, aware of the Neo-Dadaists attempts to disassemble the concept of a work of art, and instead attempting to expand its parameters as a transitory body of work in flux. We can hear traces of this work reflected in the more forward thinking Italian film soundtracks of the era and to a further extent, in Ennio Morricone's work for Hollywood, in turn casting an influence over much exploratory, non-academic contemporary music.