Première release of a pivotal piece by important American composer, Julius Eastman.
After more than 40 years, Julius Eastman’s Femenine - a euphoric, colourful, and inventive work by the brilliant but criminally overlooked composer with the S.E.M. Ensemble - finally sees the light of day thanks to Finland’s Frozen Reeds, bringing to life a wondrous iteration of the highly fertile 1970s north american minimalist/modern classical nexus for a whole new generation of ears.
Notable not least as the only known recording of Femenine, recorded live in 1974 at Composers Forum in Albany, New York - which makes it only the 2nd CD with Eastman’s name at the top - this release also documents the composer on piano (whilst wearing a dress, as it goes) and features his unique innovation, a set of mechanised sleigh bells, rattling throughout the 72 minute performance, which, in a way, neatly characterises the artist’s wide-open, pioneering idiosyncrasies and dichotomies for anyone new to his work.
Un/fortunately, depending your perspective, far too many folk will be new to his work or even unaware of Eastman’s involvement in some true totems of the time; whether that’s as lead vocalist on Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs For A Mad King (1971), playing keys on Dinosaur L’s disco-not-disco classic 24→24 Music (1981), or conducting Arthur Russell’s Tower of Meaning (1983). And we say too many folk, because, all considered, until quite recently, Eastman has been long overdue the shine afforded to many of his peers and contemporaries.
As a Gay, Afro-American new music composer, pianist and vocalist in the ‘70s, Eastman’s work was innately politicised and exceptional by the nature of its provenance, not to mention the music itself, which pulled from his personal history as much as wider social movements to represent a uniquely fluid perspective on minimalist music’s rigid process and presentation right up to his untimely death, aged 50 in 1990.
With that in mind, Feminine stands at a crossroads between Eastman’s earlier chamber work Stay On It, and later pieces such as his iconic, majestic Evil Nigger and the ambiguous flux of emotions in Gay Guerilla; sounding quite unlike any of them thanks to its sense of communal joy (there were somewhere between 12 and 15 players) and the polymetric meter of his mechanised sleigh bells, coupled with a display of massed, pitching tonal colour that moves with the kind of deliquescent, flighty optimism that’s hard not to be wowed by.
Ultimately, it genuinely lives up to the mantle of “new music” and presents its ideas in a deeply refreshing, insistent, yet never-cloying manner.
A huge recommendation.
This thirty-minute album from pianist Nils Frahm was originally intended as a Christmas present for his friends and family, but as a marker of just how commercialised Christmas has become it's again being sold for cash money, this time via Erased Tapes.
Frahm's piano playing inevitably bringing to mind the likes of Peter Broderick and Max Richter. With the inclusion of some tastefully deployed celeste and reed organ you might also find yourself thinking of Yann Tiersen soundtracks or Hauschka's chiming piano preparations, but looking beyond merely making aesthetic comparisons and you'll find an enormously impressive compositional quality at the root of Frahm's music.
There are just three pieces here, but each one is underpinned by strong themes and a style of writing that far transcends the often too-pastoral-for-its-own good genre. While shorter compositions 'Ambre' and 'Nue' are comparatively concise and florid (with the former of the two exhibiting something approaching a modern classical version of pop hooks) the album's centre-piece, 'Tristana' is a more contemplative outing, entrenched in rich atmospherics and the haunting timbres of the celeste. This is an achingly beautiful album from Frahm - enough so to have you craving Christmas in the middle of July. Very highly recommended.
Recorded in Liverpool back in 2003, this improvised performance unites two of the UK's foremost improv exponents (Tony Bevan and Paul Hession) with two pioneers of modern free music, the multi-talented guitarist, turntablist and noise artist Otomo Yoshihide and the late, great Derek Bailey.
The performance shuffles into first gear during the speculative, tentative first throes of 'No Hiding Place / Softly Softly', establishing a ruthlessly abstract sound world from the outset, only to tighten up slightly for 'Morse', which welcomes a far more full-blooded, often swing-influenced approach to percussion, accompanying Bailey's lightly overdriven, spidering guitar lines.
The remainder of the set introduces some charged-up, visceral reed work, sounding surly and untethered on 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' while Bailey playfully plots a more welcoming path.
"The golden record was a gift from humanity to the cosmos. But it is also a gift to humanity. It’s a reminder of what we can achieve when we are at our best-and that our future really is up to all of us..."
"In 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each of these probes is a beautiful golden phonograph record containing a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it, perhaps billions of years from now. This enchanting artifact, known as the Voyager Golden Record, may be the last vestige of our civilization after we are gone forever. Curated by a visionary committee led by Carl Sagan, the golden record tells a story of our planet expressed in music, sounds, images, and science. Etched on the record’s gold-plated aluminum jacket is a diagram explaining where it came from and how to play it."
Yo La Tengo return with their first proper full-length since 2013’s ‘Fade’.
"There’s a Riot Going On is an expression of freedom and sanity and emotional expansion, a declaration of common humanity as liberating as it is soft-spoken. While there’s a riot going on, Yo La Tengo will remind you what it’s like to dream. The sound burbles and washes and flows and billows. If records were dedicated to the cardinal elements, this one would be water. There are shimmery hazes, spectral rumbles, a flash of backward masking, ghostly flamingos calling “shoo-bop shoo-bop.” Even if your mind is not unclouded - shaken, misdirected, out of words and out of time - you can still float, ride the waves of an ocean deeper than your worries and above the sound.
For Yo La Tengo this is a slow-motion action painting and Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan and James McNew did it all themselves, in their rehearsal studio, with no outside engineer (John McEntire later did the mix). They did not rehearse or jam together beforehand; they turned on the recorder and let things coalesce. Songs came together over long stretches, sometimes as much as a year going by between parts. You’d never guess this, since the layers are finessed with such a liquid brush. You’d imagine most of the songs had sprung forth whole, since they will enter your head that way. Within two listens you will be powerless to resist the magnetic draw of ‘Shades of Blue’, will involuntarily hear ‘She May, She Might’ on your internal jukebox first thing in the morning and ‘Let’s Do It Wrong’ late at night. While there’s a riot going on you will feel capable of bobbing through like a cork.
In 1971, when the nation appeared to be on the brink of violently coming apart, Sly And The Family Stone released ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On’, an album of dark, brooding energy. Now, under similar circumstances, Yo La Tengo have issued a record with the same name but with a different force, an album that proposes an alternative to anger and despair."
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.
Brainfeeder present a special ‘chopped not slopped’ mix of Thundercat’s ‘Drunk’ album (2017) by DJ Candlestick and OG Ron C of Houston DJ collective The Chopstars. Slowed down and chopped up , the mix has been appropriately re-titled ‘Drank’. “If you got ‘Drunk’ it’s only right that you get ‘Drank’. I feel like they go together,” declares Thundercat.
For fans of Flying Lotus, BADBADNOTGOOD, Kendrick Lamar, DJ Screw.
Four cracking Sun Ra pieces, roving from the possessed tongues and earthy hustle of Island In The Sun, thru more astral, free vectors in New Dawn, to the wonky big band vibes and growled vox on Unmask The Batman, and amazing Afro-Astro hustle in I’ll Wait For You.
"Strut and Art Yard present another exclusive from the vast catalogue of cosmic jazz pioneer Sun Ra: a previously unreleased radio session most likely recorded at the WXPN FM radio studios in Philadelphia, 1974-5.
This newly discovered session features a new version of Ra’s earlier ‘Island In The Sun’, a romping, raucous rendition of ‘Unmask The Batman’ and the first studio recording of ‘I’ll Wait For You’ There is no bass player on the sessions and Ra’s left hand beats out a rhythmic bass pattern on the piano. All tracks are remastered directly from the original tapes. The album package features a newly commissioned painting by legendary Bristol urban artist Guy Denning and new sleeve notes by Paul Griffiths.
Recently discovered in the Sun Ra archive, the recording forms part of a series of sessions that Ra and the Arkestra recorded for WXPN-FM between 1974 and 1980. The ‘Antique Blacks’ album was recorded there in ’74. Based on the campus of The University of Pennsylvania, WXPN’s station manager Jules Epstein and music director Russ Woessner were instrumental in the exposure and recording of The Arkestra in their broadcast production studios. Geno Barnhart, founder of The Empty Foxhole concert collective, Jules and Russ broadcast an on-going series of jazz concerts covering a wide spectrum. The Arkestra performed at The Foxhole in Philly many times from 1974.
Personnel: Sun Ra: Piano John Gilmore: Tenor Saxophone Marshall Allen: Flute, Alto Saxophone Danny Ray Thompson: Baritone Saxophone, Percussion Atakatune: Oboe, Congas Eddie Thomas: Drums Elo Omoe: Bass Clarinet, Hand Claps Akh Tal Ebah: Trumpet, Vocal James Jacson: Congas, Vocal"
Geir Jenssen a.k.a. Biosphere yields the results of a field recording project on a Dutch farm, commissioned by Incubate festival.
Imperceptibly melded with Biosphere’s signature synthetic palette, the field recordings are effectively reanimated as dreamlike sequences, variously incorporating the sounds of a distant helicopter with shepherd’s calls and windswept choral synth voices in t’Schop, focussing in on insectoid minutiae with Pipistrellus, or indivisibly meshing the real and the unreal in lush pieces such as Audax and the pastoral bliss of Icoon.
Pivotal techno pioneer Susanne Kirchmayr a.k.a Electric Indigo presents a filigree detailed début album of high-end techno electronica with 5 1 1 5 9 3 for Robert Henke’s Imbalance Computer Music label.
Mainstay of the Berlin scene since she moved there from Vienna and took a job at Hardwax in the early ‘90s, Electric Indigo’s name and output is synonymous with the city’s leading edge of clubs and sound art thanks to her uncompromising aesthetics and vital work with the Female:Pressure group, which she established in 1998.
After some dozen 12”s with her name at the top, including a recent turn on the Berghain 08 EP, Electric Indigo now offers a definitive cross-section of her sound in 5 1 1 5 9 3, combining her praxes in the ostensibly opposing but often interrelated spheres of academic sound art and club music, in 10 uniquely twisted permutations of computer music, electro-techno and electro-acoustic styles.
While unremittingly greyscale in tone and minimalist in structure, 5 1 1 5 9 3 still possesses a depth of colour and striking variation of pattern within those parameters. The result is Berlin techno music at its probing, icy best, especially in the rhythm-driven highlights such as the recursive electro-noise vortex of Excursion, the purist pressure of 4.31Hz and quite strikingly in the Anne-James Chaton-esque rhythmic vocal cut-up of Trois, and to neck-cricking degrees with the immense spatial proprioceptions of The Landing.
Will long returns with a second volume of 'Long Trax' following that incredible first run alongside DJ Sprinkles.
Following his sterling run of raw, politically-charged deep house releases for DJ Sprinkles’ Comatonse, Will Long (Celer) pairs samples of Afro-American figureheads with sublime, rolling grooves in a beautiful extension of the Long Trax series.
Nothing’s Changed features sparingly used snippets of Barack Obama on a lean, simple, and deliciously smooth 11 minute groove gilded with signature chord cadence, while B-side he treats Jean-Michel Basquiat to a swim in deepest house water on the hazy 10 minute movement.
Also featured is a sensitively raw and low key spin on the style with gauzy samples of Angela Davis laced into the 12 minutes of keening float in The Struggles, The Difficulties and Richard Pryor and leading Black Panther Ericka Huggins in two more signature, raw, extended deep house grooves.
Marie Davidson & Pierre Guerineau’s Essaie Pas duo pay tribute to PKD’s classic sci fi novel A Scanner Darkly with a dark, suspenseful cinematic and driving suite of electro and synthscapes for DFA.
New Path finds the duo mirroring the book’s themes of mass surveillance, voyeuristic technology and drug culture thru a range of evocative strategies, both literal and oblique.
From insectoid rhythms emulating the effect of narcotic psychosis in Les Aphides to the record’s titular reference to the New-Path rehab clinics, the results are riddled with inference and explicit nods to the book, resulting in some superb highlights in the duo’s nerve-riding hot-stepper Les Agents Des Stupas, where they make great use of the Ensoniq ESQ-1’s sharp tones, and also the pendulous, shadow-strafing killer Substance M, with the cinematic depth of New Path providing neat closure to their short story.
The long awaited Remix album, featuring reworks from Andy Stott, Oneohtrix Point Never, Electric Youth, Alva Noto, Arca, Motion Graphics, Fennesz, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Yves Tumor, S U R V I V E and Cornelius...
We shouldn’t have to be writing this, but naturally the Jóhann Jóhannsson remix of Solari takes on a much darker shade of blue in light of his recent, untimely passing, yet it equally stands out as the LP’s most uncannily suggestive highlight. R.I.P..
Elsewhere, Yves Tumor can be trusted to handle Zure with a sensitively suspenseful sort of R&B/quasi-ambient breakbeat flip, while Andy Stott feathers Life, Life into an elegiac airborne waltz, Alva Noto catches Disintegration in a sublime, quiescent state, and Arca lends his own, original, tortured torch song vocal and windswept beat to a rework of Async with utterly heart-breaking impact. Yelp, this one really gets us.
The eight piece band - a sprawling, multi-limbed collection of international pop culture junkies, their debut album is self-produced and written and recorded in the east London house-stroke-studio-stroke band HQ they all share together (imagine a squat version of the Brill Building, or a lo-fi, DIY take on Max Martin’s Cheiron studio).
‘'Superorganism’ is a spectacularly confident debut record that beams with a sense of wonky fun, a kaleidoscopic riot of sound and visuals. Influenced by the world-building depth of artists like Devo, Beck and The Avalanches, ‘Superorganism’ soundtracks the band’s rapid trajectory from shared house side project to global audiovisual."
Glass offers the sublime results of a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), as performed and recorded at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut during the private opening to Yayoi Kusama’s installation marking the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth.
Making sterling use of the landmark architectural work’s pellucid dimensions, the pair fixed contact mics to its glass walls, which they effectively played as an “instrument”, rubbing it with rubber gong mallets to generate delicate tones which they combined with a sympathetic palette of singing glass bowls, crotales, keyboards and mixers.
The seamless performance of floating, weightless tones and exquisitely quivering timbres is without doubt one of their finest. For the duration we’re held static and spellbound by the pair’s interplay of microtonal shifts and plasmic chronics, keening the listener thru hazes of digital dust and vortices of angelic harmonics to locate, alchemise and resolve a rarified, deeply mysterious spirit before the piece closes.
As the follow-up to their OST for The Revenant  and the warbling keys of Summvs  before that, the achingly lush tension of Glass is perhaps the purest testament to the clarity of vision and endless minimalist mutability of this highly revered duo.
This 6-part overview of work by legendary Greek composer Jani Christou (1926-1970) is one of the greatest highlights of the practically peerless Edition RZ catalogue. Documenting distinct periods in the fascinating composer’s oeuvre, before he died in a car crash on, or just before his 44th birthday, the set provides a totally compelling introduction to Christou’s inseparable mix of music and philosophy, and his exploration of their metaphysical binds, and has become a real favourite of ours in the process.
The collected six works feel like discrete wormholes or windows onto parallel, proto- or post- dimensions in a way that we’ve rarely heard before. Taking cues from myriad sources such as his studies of logic and philosophy under Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, through to his private musical tuition with H.F. Redlich, and orchestration with Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, and, perhaps most unavoidably, his obsessions with death and the afterlife inspired by his upbringing in Alexandria, Egypt, where he was surrounded relics of ancient civilisation, Christou’s music feels to genuinely touch on other worlds, and bring them into our own reality.
We don’t want to delve too far into the philosophy for fear of misinterpretation - we’ll leave that for you to wrestle with in the excellent liner notes - but sonically we can assure of the music’s nonpareil grip, especially in the chaotic flux and cataclysmic orchestral resolution of Enantiodromia, as well as the remarkably open-ended Epicycle, whose score calls for high levels of improvisation in a fixed situation, resulting a proper proto-techno abstraction, or in the spellbinding recording of Mysterion, with its whispered Danish vocal and stygian pulse, which was somewhat uncannily the last of his works to be recorded before his tragic death.
It all begs the question as to what Christou may have made had he lived longer, with access to new technologies - judging by the trajectory of these works, our guess is some of the most incredible music imaginable - but also leaves us with some beautiful, hugely distinguished music which acknowledges “an awareness of how remorseless, varied, infinitely complex, fleeting, but sometimes also infinitely simple is the world-wide phenomenon of pattern recognition” in a way which most beautifully highlights it’s magical logic via its purposed application.
David Byrne teams with a squad of lads to make American Utopia
Featuring Rodaidh McDonald, Happa, Airhead, Bullion, Koreless, Daniel Lopatin (0PN), Ariel Rechtshaid, Jaako Savoleinen, Joe Williams, Jack Peñate and Brian Eno - literally enough for a football team with Byrne as Wenger (get out, lol).
Pivotal member of the Montréalais musical fraternity, Eric Chenaux gets right under the skin and in your head with the intoxicating, jazz-wise chops and strikingly classic-sounding vocals of Slowly Paradise; an instant modern classic if we’ve never heard one! Chenaux generates a genuinely bewildering sound which lives up to easy comparison with Arthur Russell and even Thom Yorke, balancing sweetness with a more off-kilter style that also gets to the point, yet from beguiling, perpendicular angles maybe better compared with Richard Youngs' approach to folk and post-punk/pop paradigms.
“Eric Chenaux makes conceptual music that’s not meant to sound conceptual. He operates among various 'traditions' but perhaps most broadly, Chenaux's records grapple with the relationship between improvisation and structure in very particular, unique, idiosyncratic ways – and quite without irony or cynicism, through love.
Because fundamentally, Chenaux writes love songs, which he sings in a voice honeyed and clear, while his guitar gently bends, frazzes, chortles, diverges and decomposes. This juxtaposition of his mellow, dexterous crooning and his highly experimental (and equally dexterous) guitar explorations, explodes even unconventional notions of singing and accompaniment, of tonal and timbral interplay between guitar and voice.
As a solo artist, Chenaux's improvisation methods are in certain literal ways solipsistic: as a singer-songwriter, he plays his guitar around and against his voice, challenging easy notions of harmony/harmoniousness, improvising 'with himself' in pursuit of surprising himself (and his listeners) as he unfurls ribbons of voice and instrument often to the point of seeming independence, all the better to capture – and be captured by – unforeseen, intimate moments of interdependence: a definition of freedom, as a profoundly intentional state of openness, presence and play.
Even within avant-garde currents of folk and jazz balladry, Eric Chenaux feels like an outlier. Yet his music remains wonderfully warm, generous and fundamentally accessible in spite of its irrefutable iconoclasm. While the constitutive elements of Chenaux’s solo work in recent years might suggest some underlying devotion to asceticism, the opposite is much more true: his musical reveries resist, critique and counteract austerity (in all its forms) in a joyful abandonment to the improvised space where playfulness and light-heartedness are taken seriously, and where love is invoked and expressed, without reductive or facile sentimentalism, in a full, nuanced, clear-eyed suspension/rejection of the cynical life.
Slowly Paradise is Eric Chenaux’s new solo record – a lovely collection of mostly long songs guided by soothing, buttery singing and bent, fried fretwork. It is arguably Chenaux’s most assured and essential solo work, expanding upon the critical acclaim his previous releases Guitar & Voice and Skullsplitter have rightly garnered.”
Beautify Junkyards effortlessly blend their love of English Acid Folk and Brazilian Tropicalia in a collection of songs that conjure up a warm and verdant faerie world.
"Delicate acoustic guitars evoke an autumnal England suffused with Iberian heat by other-worldly voices; the ethereal lilt of João Branco Kyron and the warm languor of Rita Vian. The production is tempered with a haunted electronic palette that anchors the band squarely in the world of Ghost Box.
Their sound is further enhanced by newest member Helena Espvall ( formerly of Espers) on guitar and cello. With João Moreira on acoustic guitar and synth, Sergue Ra on bass and Antonio Watts on drums they are altogether an astonishingly talented group of people.
The Invisible World… will be the band’s third album and their first for Ghost Box, following on from their Other Voices single in 2016.”
Superb selection of Bubblegum Soul & Synth-Boogie dialled in from 1980s South Africa by Miles Cleret and DJ Okapi for Soundway, who cannily survey the roots of what would become Pantsula, Kwaito, and Gqom. You can take it on trust this is an all killer no filler set, but then again you could just use your ears and feel the heat on Stimela’s rude boogie play ‘Mind Games’, Joshiba’s brimming ‘Gloria’, or the super woozy strut of Zasha’s ’Arrow Dub’.
“In 1980s black South Africa a local form of pop music evolved as the disco boom died down and slowly mutated. It was often ubiquitously described as Bubblegum - usually stripped-down and lo-fi with a predominance of synths, keyboards and drum-machines and overlaid with the kind of deeply soulful trademark vocals and harmonies that South African music is famous for.
Compilers Miles Cleret (Soundway) and DJ Okapi (Afrosynth Records) present a selection of 16 rare, handpicked 1980s cuts that highlight the period that nestles in between the ‘70s (where American-influenced jazz, funk and soul bumped shoulders with local Mbaqanga) and the ‘90s when Kwaito and eventually house-music ruled the dancefloors of urban South Africa.
Alongside French-Caribbean Zouk this kind of music has slowly been making its way into the DJ sets of many of the most open minded selectors around the world. This compilation is in many ways a sister release to the hugely popular compilation of Nigerian boogie and disco that Soundway released in late 2016 : “Doing it In Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980s Nigeria”.
The album takes its name from the band Ashiko’s track of the same name Gumba Fire that features on the compilation. The term is derived from gumba gumba, the term given to the booming speakers of the old spacegram radios that broadcast music into South Africa’s townships and villages. The phrase later evolved into Gumba Fire to refer to a hot party.”
“Answer Code Request’s 2014 debut LP Code was an exciting moment for electronic music in Berlin – one that offered a break from the eternal hall and monolithic 4/4 kicks that ruled the city’s club landscape. As a hybrid gesture, the album’s spirit recalled an especially fruitful era in the German capital from the mid-90s to early 2000s, when dub and pad-driven Detroit techno cross-pollinated with Berlin’s industrial aesthetic to create one of the city’s most exciting musical chapters.
Today the musical vision offered by Berghain resident Answer Code Request, real name Patrick Gräser, has proved far-sighted. While at first glance electronic music in 2018 seems increasingly balkanized, borders between genres have once again become fuzzier. Now, on his follow up LP Gens, Gräser looks beyond the bass euphoria of Code toward darker horizons and a desolate atmosphere befitting of current global circumstances.
In a sense, Gens (Latin for tribe or lineage) reverses the notion of the hardcore continuum as proposed by music journalist Simon Reynolds: embedded in a tradition of US and continental European techno, Gräser seeks its disruption through hardcore outgrowths, from ambient jungle to later variations of British bass music and IDM. It’s an interesting twist when seen in the larger biographical context of Gräser who, born and raised outside of Berlin in early 1980s, jumped from East German youth radio DT64 to American hip-hop, acid and early UK hardcore – a radical shift of musical interest born of a radical shift in political circumstances.
On Gens, the unsettling atmosphere is established early on with the fading rave opener of the album’s synonymous title track, and continues through the scrambled military communications and post dubstep rhythms of “Sphera”. From there, sci-fi pads, heavy phasing and alien syncopation lead explorative third track “Ab Intus” out into space. A glimmer of otherworldly positivity arrives with the warm, distorted breakbeats and interwoven synth melodies of album standout “knbn2”, while Gräser’s most dancefloor- oriented melds jungle and techno, Amen and 4/4 kicks, on “Cicadae”.”
The John Cage disciples at Edition Wandelweiser Records present their take on Cage’s Cartridge Music  - the pioneering composer’s concerted effort in presenting a genuinely “live” form of electronic music performance, involving a number of players scraping, striking and “playing” a record turntable’s cartridge (the bit that picks up and transforms vibrations from the needle, or stylus).
Many performances of Cartridge Music - one of Cage’s “indeterminate” works, meaning the piece’s length and structure is up to the performers - have been undertaken over the intervening years, but this 1 hour long piece is the longest and most captivating iteration that we’ve heard.
Undertaken by ensemble daswirdas - who had prior taken on Cage’s Child of Tree work in the Branches CD - the sextet coax out a sequence of small sounds ranging from barely perceptible to almost familiar, including snatches of shortwave radio nestling amid the scrabble and low key scree.
The composition is arguably a somewhat primitive form of electronic music performance by today’s standards, but listening to it now, as the ensemble take it to its quiet limits, it still feels radically incomprehensible and porous to the performer and listener’s perceptions.
One of the leading lights of Ethiopian music presents his first new material in an age on Lala Belu for Awesome Tapes From Africa - the label who were instrumental in showcasing his work to wider audiences with the compilation Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye in 2013, and later a reissue of reissue of his Tche Belew  album.
Comprising the virtuoso accordionist and keys player’s first new material since those reissues triggered a worthy career resurgence, Lala Belu catches fire in all six parts with a vitally tough and expressive sound that feels like Mergia has thrown off the more genteel jazz vibes of early releases in favour of a fierce, freer jazz and funk flex to proceedings.
The guy’s gotta be knocking into his 70s now yet shows no sign of letting up here, sounding utterly alive and full of feels from the opening cut’s switch from mellow sway to bustling jazz and blazing electric keys, thru the head-down funk chops of Addis Nat, to the swingeing organ lines and percolated percussion of Anchihoye Lene.
He chills out beautifully well on the sublime solo piano piece Yefikir Engurguro, which sweetly recalls the magic of Emahoy Tsegue-Mariam Guebru, while Gum Gum sounds perhaps closest to his debonaire early recordings.
This Gottfried Michel Koenig collection is a definitive document of his pioneering innovations in electro-acoustic composition: spanning his Zwei Klavierstücke  and other works created at the WDR, Cologne; thru his years at the Utrecht Institute For Sonology, and right up to his 60 Blätter for Streichtrio . If you’re into anything from Roland Kayn to Dave NYZ, Ligeti, Haswell or Æ, Koenig’s oeuvre is essential listening!
A key mind in the realisation and theoretical underpinnings of electro-acoustic music, Koenig came thru the Darmstadt summer schools as a student, and later a lecturer, where he met Stockhausen, Kagel, Evangelisti, and Ligeti, whom he would later assist at the famous WDR (Westdeutschen Rundfunk) studio in Cologne - where he also worked in the radio drama department, before moving to Utrecht as director and chair of the Institute of Sonology during its most fecund period until 1986.
The work he assisted on or created himself during this period was crucial to the development of electro-acoustic and computer music paradigms, and since the ‘60s he’s placed ever greater focus on realising a form of computer composition - both writing programs that generate unique scores for instrumentalists to play, and recordings of pure computer music.
For us, and we’ll safely assume many others, it’s the latter part of Koenig’s catalogue - the purely electronic works - that demand attention. Utterly raw, complex and alien, Koenig’s pieces such as Terminus X , and the colour-coded Funktion series from the same era, are some of the most captivating, visceral recordings of electronic music that we’ve ever heard, presenting sounds at their very most abstract, and with no concession to replicating instrumental timbres and dynamics.
We highly recommend getting to grips with the works in this collection, which is pretty much the only place you’ll find a reliable high quality versions of each piece.
Who Are You is a new collection of free form, free flowing music from E Ruscha V.
"A wandering, wondrous search for identity rendered in brilliant musical shapes and forms, Who Are You resides in the transitional realm between calm and ecstasy. A meaningful moment along an artist’s transcendent path of self-discovery, and meaningful music to those who identify with a conscious universe.
Who Are You is the first full-length release by Eddie Ruscha under his given name since donning the Secret Circuit guise in 2010 to administer an electronic antidote to the psychedelic / shoegaze dirge that dominated his formative music-making. Between Secret Circuit’s two 12” EPs and a colossal full length, Tactile Galactics, on Beats In Space in 2013 and now, Ruscha has remained wildly prolific producing unfathomable four on-the-floor formulas for the best and brightest labels outside of Space. The Secret Circuit hiatus suggests a return to self and an unmasked, untethered musical language, an approach Ruscha describes as “exploring melody that can mutate as different shades of beauty.” Rhythm plays a supporting role on Who Are You, an album with less concern over club constrictions and more contemplation of open, unbound spaces, areas in which Ruscha sees the music capturing “the feeling of a lost day.”
Who Are You further pares down the dub, tropicalia, and Afro / cosmic influences that have historically placed Secret Circuit at the dance music fringe, repurposing them as concerted instrumentals whose melodic themes are so lyrical they appear song-like, expressive without words. Brought to mind are similar instrumentalists such as Vini Reilly, Wally Badarou, Mark and Clive Ives of Woo, and contemporaries such as Gaussian Curve and Suzanne Kraft, a collaborator of Eddie’s.”
As footwork approaches 10 years as a style, proper, Teklifer DJ Taye presents a lush, new, hi-tech jazz spin on the fwd Chicago sound with Still Trippin’, his stellar debut LP for Hyperdub. Something of a unique triple threat in the footwork circle, Taye produces and raps, as well as dances to, his own music. On Still Trippin’ he explores these binds in mutant, highly refreshing ways in the hope of carrying DJ Rashad’s legacy forward for a new generation. Fair to say, he sees the late, great pioneer proud here.
Teaming with peers DJ Manny, DJ Paypal, and DJ Lucky, plus Jersey club queen UNIIQU3, vocalist Odile Myrtil, and Fabi Reyna - editor of women’s guitar magazine “She Shreds” - Taye gives a thrilling cross-section of the new gen, simultaneously diversifying footwork’s bonds while remaining true to its manic, hyper soul and ability to mess with the meter of modern dance music.
Marking up close to recent, forward-looking scene classics by Jana Rush and Jlin, Still Trippin’ lets Taye’s soul flow in myriad ways, constantly in flux between plus, jazz chord driven smarts such as 2094, the red-eyed rap/footwork hybrid Smokeout and the delicious bossa nova bump of I Don’t Know with Fabi Reyna, to more hi-tek variants in the the lightspeed jazz chops of Closer and the auto-tuned tweaker Anotha4 feat. DJ Manny.
But if you’re after straight up dancefloor bullets, they comes lean and fast on the likes of Trippin’ - with Taye admitting “i’m on those research chemicals/seeing new colours” over frenetic bleeps and slow/fast trap bounce, while Need It leans in hard on an acid-jungle-juke tip, and Bonfire sounds like Dhalsim playing for Mahavishnu Orchestra, on 45rpm, and his hook-up with DJ Paypal results the searing madness of Truu.
Nightports is based on a simple but unbreakable rule of restriction: only sounds produced by the featured musician can be used. Nothing else. These sounds can be transformed, distorted, translated, reworked, processed and reprocessed, stretched, cut, ordered and reordered without limitation.
"Nightports was established by musician-producers Adam Martin (based in Leeds) and Mark Slater (Hull), and Nightports w/Matthew Bourne is the first of a series of collaborative albums to be released by The Leaf Label. Material for the album was recorded at Bourne’s home outside Keighley, West Yorkshire, and at Besbrode Pianos in Leeds.
The recordings coax hitherto unheard sounds from a range of contrasting instruments - decrepit dusty uprights holding their own against the attack and precision of a modern concert grand. The lines between the source material and the manipulations are seamless, delivering an unexpected percussive drive and emotional impact."
All Nerve – the first new album from The Breeders in a decade – reunites band members Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson.
The quartet returned to the stage in 2013 to celebrate the album’s 20th anniversary and have been quietly working on new material since then.
““This record is definitely looser than our last one,” says Suuns singer/guitarist Ben Shemie. “It’s not as clinical. There’s more swagger.”
"You can hear this freedom flowing through the 11 tracks on Felt. It’s both a continuation and rebirth, the Montreal quartet returning to beloved local facility Breakglass Studios but this time recording themselves at their own pace, over five fertile sessions spanning several months. A simultaneous stretching out and honing in, mixed to audiophile perfection by St Vincent producer John Congleton who flew up especially from Dallas to deploy his award-winning skills in situ.
While maintaining a pleasing economy, the informality of self-production has enabled Suuns to explore bright new vistas. “Us doing it ourselves, that process was like a very receptive, limitless workshop to just try out ideas,” declares drummer Liam O’Neill.
Hence the hypnotic future-pop percolations of X-ALT or the way Watch You, Watch Me’s organic/synthetic rush builds and and builds atop elevatory rhythm and the ecstatic, Harmonia-meets-Game Boy patterns. As befits a band who cite Andy Stott and My Bloody Valentine as touchstones yet don’t sound like either, Suuns have always seamlessly blended the programmed and played. Never mere fusionists, it’s now pointless trying to decode their sonic signature as ‘dance music that rocks’ or vice versa.
Other notable developments are singer/guitarist Ben Shemie’s newfound vocal range and buoyant melodies, showcased in such wholly unexpected delights as the yearning lilt of Make It Real and sax-smoothed Peace And Love, which sincerely comes on like a post-punk Sade. There’s a previously unheard confidence to the singer and lyricist, perhaps best exemplified by centre-piece Control, where his hushed tones are complemented by a bilingual voice musing on dreams and reality, sampled from an old Montreal social art project.”
Your SA dance collection is set to swell with Pantsula! (The Rise Of Electronic Dance Music In South Africa, 1988-1990), a crucial survey of the much talked about - but little known - scene that sprang from bubblegum and Shangaan Disco, and laid the roots for those Kwaito and Gqom aces which would penetrate scenes and light up dancefloors far beyond the southern hemisphere.
As the excellent liner notes describe in much more detail, Pantsula music (think of Pantsula as a style, attitude rather than fixed descriptor) in 1988-90 was the soundtrack to a difficult, fractious time in SA society and politics, which was still under Apartheid and its people subject to all the shit came with it, which meant that nightclubs and shebeens (blues/after-hours joints/taverns/you know the ones) were constantly under threat of being shut down by the dibble and the authorities, even in places like Johannesburg, where black and white folk mixed more freely.
Still, where there’s a will… and all, meant that the low key shebeens acted as an incubator for Pantsula, where DJs in the backrooms of houses-cum-bars absorbed American and European influences into their own, deeply rich dance culture, resulting a sound that rudely mirrored the hard electronic jack of Chi-house, new beat or eurobeat and the sleek swing of US and Canadian garage, and even traces of Jamaican digi-dancehall, but with natty melodies and vocals familiar to Zulu culture and SA’s wealth of ethnic minorities.
Basically 4/4 house in all its variations was the common currency of Black Atlantic dancefloors, and few places mores than South Africa, which, outside of the USA, was evidently one of the Black Atlantic’s most important hotspots during the late ‘80s international house phenomenon. With that in mind, the 12 tracks on Pantsula! form a vital historic document of Afro-Futurism, catching a uniquely funked up brace of innovative, ingenious and down right infectious dance music which, with the benefit of hindsight, we’d identity among the strongest of its era. Just, it’s taken us all this long to realise.
And the tunes? 100% gold, pal, especially if you’ve a thing for the directness of new beat or the less jazzy sides of Chicago house, as it takes in absolute peaches such as Ayobayo Band’s Sorry Bra, the inimitably tangled bassline of Chaka’s Via Tembisa, the reggae-inflected lope of Go Siami from La Viva, along with pure, brimming soul aces such as The Equals New Lover, the lusty Chi-NYC-Antwerp-esque beauty of Ushelakanjani by Jazino, or the jagged sequencer funk of Scotch Band’s Watsotsama.
For anyone who enjoys dancing, or pissing off the po-po, this one's for you.
Like a cold mojito splashed direct to the ears, Atlas’s Breeze serves a piquant dash of Balearic new age fusion feels from Japan, 1986, on its first vinyl reissue as part of Mule Musiq’s Japanese disco reissue series. Trust it’s a total dream for fans of late ‘80s FM synths and slicked-out fusion, this one
Studio Mule says: “we are proud to announce the vinyl reissue of one of the best and most complex japanese jazz fusion albums, 1987’s breeze by hiroyuki namba, eiji kawamura, and toshiro imaizumi’s band atlas. hiroyuki namba is one of the most important japanese keyboardist of the ’80s with a legacy that includes japanese cosmic classic “who done it?” and “tropical explosion,” a sought-after gem by diggers. in addition to his work with his progressive rock band sense of wonder, he’s also known as a member of tatsuro yamashita’s band. eiji kawamura is a highly respected arranger who has worked on projects by major recording artists like kyoko koizumi and hideaki tokunaga, and atlas’ third member toshiro imaizumi is a skilled studio musician who’s also worked on major projects. the album opens with the soothing sounds of ocean waves that turn into the melancholic fusion number that is “mediterranean breeze,” setting the balearic mood for the whole album.
“simpatia” is an album highlight with a euphoric feel that could be tokyo’s answer to the sounds of ibiza―an obscure japanese gem. 'after brunch with you” is a sunny samba fusion with a playful, bright piano melody, followed by “summer breeze,” an electric fusion jam that sound like holger czukay could have wrote it. a track that was so ahead of its time, i wouldn’t be surprised if international feel picked it up and released it as is. breezy mellow tune “never come into your eyes” reminds you of the sentimental feeling one gets around the time summer’s about to be over. another album highlight, “indige,” is one of japan’s most unique dance tracks of the time, an electric disco stomper that sound like it could’ve been produced by todd terje. “breeze for siesta“ features toshiro imaizumi’s beautiful piano paying, a relaxing song that wouldn’t sound out of place on ecm. “love beach” blends prog influences with fusion in a way only hiroyuki namba can. the album ends with “madrigl,” a magical song with dramatic and melancholic moments, full of quintessentially japanese sense of beauty."
For fans of moody ‘80s pop pomp, Death of Lovers’ 2nd album, The Acrobat packs all the aching emo swoon and synthy licks you could hope for. Think New Order, Duran Duran, John Hughes movies, montages of Reagan/Thatcher economics in effect, and buckets of salty, sugary nostalgia.
“Since the 2014 release of Philly outfit Death of Lover’s acclaimed debut EP “Buried Under a World of Roses”, many wondered if a full length follow-up for the band was even possible – largely due to the extensive touring schedule of Domenic, Nick, and Kyle’s other band: Nothing. But between 2016 and 2017, the four piece band (that includes keyboard player CC Loo) was able to find the time to focus, demo, write, and carve out a stunning new direction and polished sound for the band. “The Acrobat” represents that labor of love, and Death of Lovers have created one of the most eye-opening alternative records we’ve heard in years.
Thoughtful compositions weave driving synths, drums and guitars through lock-step rhythm and nostalgia before shattering into intricate and spacious instrumental breaks. There is a welcome complexity and depth to the tracks, which dance between moody and sweeping to sparkling and bright – creating a beautiful contrast to the honest and dark lyrics.
On the album single “The Absolute”, Domenic’s vocals (accompanied in harmony by drummer Kyle Kimball) take on the topics of selfishness and greed - “All in all is trembling fear – bound to fall on bludgeoned bell rung ears. A senseless world of worth, deceived by needing, and the crow who perches on your tongue – reminding you it won’t be too long.”
“Lowly People” is the band’s answer to PULP’s “Common People”, cast through the lens of their own upbringing: the streets of Kensington, Philly – where “Broken glass shimmers like the stars, summer air breeds a certain violence.”
Somehow, The Acrobat achieves warm familiarity while sounding completely new. While the tracks could easily have been included on the soundtrack to every one of your favorite 80s films, there is a fresh perspective and process evident in the songwriting that rewrites the “post-punk” rulebook.”
The time-dilating ‘Hearing Metal 1’  renders the amniotic results of investigations into the gong-like TamTam by American composer, Michael Pisaro - an influential collaborator with Julia Holter and mainstay of Edition Wandelweiser.
Focussing on the unique idiosyncrasies of the TamTam - a gong-like metal plate highly sensitive to touch and external vibration - Pisaro’s three durational works in ‘Hearing Metal 1’ coolly harness the TamTam’s reverberant energies in a way that seems to draw order from chaos and, in the process, subtly alter the listener’s temporal perceptions. They generate a rare effect that’s perhaps best compared with Morton Feldman recording in Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient barn, or Eliane Radigue and Stephen O’Malley duetting on an ARP synth and bass guitar whose wires have begun to oxidise and decay. Required listening for anyone who like to hover at the brink of liminality.
“Performer: Greg Stuart (tam-tam). ‘The 60-inch (Mikrophonie) tam-tam is a large piece of metal, a proto-sculpture. Brancusi might have altered it: rounding and tapering the edges, making an oval instead of a circle, polishing the surface into smooth gold. The tam-tam is also a vast sound landscape-an instrument that makes noise at the slightest provocation. A resonance is created just in the act of walking past the instrument or breathing on it ... that is, if your ear (or a microphone) is close enough to hear it. Wherever it is touched with a bow or a hand, it responds with chaotic, unpredictable complexity, never producing the same sound twice.I have attempted to work within the givens of this landscape, to allow some of its implicit contours to reveal themselves-by collecting sounds, giving them a duration, putting them into a clear structure, and cutting a path through them with pure tones. Sleeping Muse is something like a four-part chorale of bowed sounds, with a melody made up of long sine tones buried in the sounds.
The Endless Column is a collection of sixty extremely light, close recorded strikes, randomly ordered, but with a rising scale of sine tones mixed in, more or less within the central frequency range of the tam-tam (from 50 to 671 hz). Sculpture for the Blind arranges eight layers of bowed sounds (which are then released) along a pattern of lengthening durations and combined with a sine tone trio, again woven into the sounds of the tam-tam. Hearing Metal 1 is the product of close collaboration between composer and performer. The piece evolved as Greg made test recordings based on my suggestions and then sent them to me. As it happened we feel we fell into its world, in order to move it slightly towards our own.’ Michael Pisaro”
Pivotal UK rave producer DJ Champion knocks out a killer début album with the self-released Snapshot, featuring guest spots by Dread MC, Shantie, Royal-T, Flava D, Slick Don, BKAT, Miss Fire, Jammz, and Four Tet.
As one of the most singular UK rave DJ/producers of the last decade, Reiss Hanson has persistently worked at the leading edge of bass music since his UKF anthems Motherboard and Tribal Affair trampled the scene c. 2009. Since then he’s minted a crucial label, Formula Records, and been named as a favourite of Skrillex, who understandably prizes Champion’s uncompromising sound as much as UK ravers.
Going hard in the gap between garage, bassline house, soca and grime, Champion gives the people what they need, consistently tweaking the formula of Afro-Caribbean and West African-meets-Black British styles in a way that’s oblivious to the posers and successive waves of posh noobs appropriating dance music to their own politics.
Chopping at the bleeding edge of the UK’s ‘ardcore continuum, Champion keeps the pressure gauge ticking with a firm grasp of both aggy and feminine pressure systems, kicking off with a strong nod to his roots with class soca sample sliced into the Intro, before twysting out proper with the martial skank of One Time feat. Dread MC and the instrumental soundsystem ballistics of Duppy Show, then nodding to the ‘unum’s other leading edge on Drill, before serving a stack of signature vocal-heavy killers, right up to the serious grime mutation Young Raiden and a VIP of his stone cold anthem Lighter.
Rated: A++. TIP!!
Alternating vocal compositions written 900 years apart, the Hildegard von Bingen : John Cage collection is the first release in stock on our site from Edition Wandelweiser Records, a rather incredible, uncommon label full of fringe avant-classical and Quiet goodness that we’ll be listing in the coming weeks.
Sung by soprano Irene Kurka, the suite offers a very canny comparison and contrast between two seminal bodies of work separated by eons but subtly bound by their plaintive stylistic distinctions. As the first introduction to Edition Wandelweiser for many listeners, the Hildegard von Bingen : John Cage release is a sterling demonstration of the label’s tastes, but also perhaps a misleading example of what else lies in their catalogue best known for exploring the liminal border between music and silence.
In three parts, the disc presents nine works by legendary German mystic / nun / philosopher / composer Hildegard von Bingen (1098 - 1179), followed by the nine-part cycle of Sonnekus²  by influential mycologist / philosopher / composer John Cage, before rearranges those same works in a back and forth, smartly and seamlessly segueing some 900 years of songcraft. taken individually, the bodies of work are very much of their time, yet when enmeshed they form a vehicle for temporal transcendance quite unlike any other, not withstanding Akira Rabelais or the VOX recordings.
These are beautifully haunting unadorned recordings, ripe for deep transportation. We urge you to check this one and anything else on the label at the nearest opportunity.
Frank Breischneider, arch minimalist and co-founder of Raster Noton, joins Shitkatapult to release his most accessible album in eons, Lunik
Where the last decade has seen him traverse from pure glitch (Rhythm and Exp), to Soviet-era modular electronics (Sinn + Form), this one is relatively full of colour and contoured electronic soul a more conventional, dub-wise sense that’s always lurked in his music, but is now felt firmer than ever in sizzling highlights such as Sputnik and the weightless lope of Logik, or the To Rococo Rot-alike instrumental ambient pop fuss of Optik (For Yen-Nil).
“Frank Bretschneider on the tracks: "It moves, it sings... but does it swing? Anyway, it represents the soundtrack of my life, my musical influences: some San Francisco psychedelia, some London underground, some Berlin school (old and new). Krautrock from Cologne and New York minimalism. A shot of Detroit grit, a bit of Moscow dust, a splash of Paris charm?" Bretschneider was raised in Karl-Marx-Stadt (now Chemnitz) in the German Democratic Republic. He is the founder of the East German underground band AG Geige and co-founder of the Raster-Noton label. He lives as a musician, video artist, and producer in Berlin.”
Onra releases his 6th LP on Dublin’s All City, blushing 13 tracks of romantic soul and R&B downstrokes straddling classic ’80s and ’90s vibes with up-to-the-second production. Furtively tucking the vibe away for the lovers, the Parisian producer licks choice samples into slick original arrangements of sticky boogie bass and snares drenched in gated reverb, all chain compressed for that pendulous pressure and a lip-biting sense of tension and release.
“On “Nobody Has To Know”, his fifth album for All City Records, the versatile French producer created music that reflects on the various aspects of a secret relationship pulling from R&B,New Jack Swing and Funk to soundtrack the passions of attraction.
Stylistically “Nobody Has To Know” picks up from the Future Funk style Onra originated on his 2010's “Long Distance” (and its 2012 companion EP “Deep In The Night” for Fool's Gold). Where those two releases mined the early and mid parts of the 1980s for ideas and references, the new album digs into late '80s and early '90s jams for smoother and richer sounds. Bolstering the record are two talented multi-instrumentalists, New Zealand's Lewis McCallum and Belgium's Pomrad, who bring touches of virtuosity to Onra's trademark smooth arrangements. The result is a record that, like its theme, oscillates between tender, torrid and tumultuous.
Over its 13 tracks “Nobody Has To Know” details the ups and downs of a secret relationship, from the excitement of doing something forbidden to the aftermath of living out fantasies. On "Let Me Fantasize" a rolling bassline and sparkling melodies capture the excitement of what is possible, the mind wandering into the forbidden. "No Question" taps into New Jack Swing to act out desires that can't be suppressed, exuberant solos echoing dangerous feelings. With its hard drums and smooth horn solos, and chorus of "Freak" takes you to that place where you can do things you only dreamed about. Balancing this intensity are more introspective moments. "Not Long Ago" rolls out gentle synth solos and nostalgic samples to reflect on past relationships and the very human desire to have what you had or can no longer reach. Rich textures and a languid rhythm underpin the reflective mood of "Nothing To Lose," as you wonder what could go wrong – it's a fine line after all.
The fantasizing, excitement and danger of fatal attraction are all reflected through the prism of the music. With “Nobody Has To Know” Onra deftly evolves the style he first began to explore a decade ago with his unique touch, re-affirming a unique sound rooted in warmth and setting the mood for some late-night escapades.”
Sound artist Tomoko Sauvage adds the gorgeous, elemental waterbowl recordings of Musique Hydromantique to a wonderful run of 2017 releases on Félicia Atkinson & Bartolomé Sanson's Shelter Press. Quite possibly the most soothing hour of music you'll experience all year
It will become hard to believe once you’ve heard it, but all sounds on the LP were improvised with acoustic technique and recording - meaning no electronics, edits or overdubs - whilst they effectively sound like the microtonal output of some unique, natural synthesiser affected by subtle variables such as temperature, architecture, humidity and human presence. If Philip Corner and Eliane Radigue ever made a record together, it may well sound like Musique Hydromantique.
Using a set-up of hydrophones (underwater mics) and porcelain bowls filled with varying amounts of water, developed by the artist over the better part of this decade, Musique Hydromantique forms a meditative, experimental study in rhythm and pitch which resonates with gamelan and ancient divination techniques as much as it does with minimalist modern electronics. The results are utterly captivating in their fluid timbres and plaintively plangent structure, rendering the elusive, ever-changing and hypnotic phenomena of moving water in three diverse states or sonic sculptures that patently demonstrate a deep, underlying and innate connection between the performer, her medium, and the listener.
Clepsydra - meaning ‘water clock’ - most closely resembles a form of gamelan practice, or, even some form of minimal electronic music. For ten minutes she renders a series of exquisitely variegated sonic glyphs gestured from her struck bowls and hands changing the quantities of water, and by extension, the pitch of each bowl. Tomoko makes a real virtue of everyday sounds, resulting in a time-dilating passage of smooth glissandi, elegantly unshackling our internal clocks from the anticipation of quantised convention.
Fortune Biscuit follows in a very different style. Here, the brownian flow yields a remarkable micro-ecology of sounds that almost mimic animals, cyborganic mechanisms and insect choruses, yet they were entirely generated by a piece of porous terra cotta (biscuit) dipped into water. The scuttling patterns are perhaps understandable in that context, but we’re utterly baffled how they also make those pealing, arcing harmonic partials. In the final, 20 minute piece, Calligraphy those techniques serve to gel and diffuse her water-based sounds in even more bewildering fashion, as she employs the 10 second reverbs of an old textile factory to render her delicate, subaquatic sounds in a play of fractious drips, haptic rubs and their resonant feedback, feeling to melt time entirely and open a tranquil space for divination of your own senses in between those perceptions of time and tone.
This is a record that seems to have been designed to promote ultimate well being, it will completely engulf and subsume your senses and keep your attention rapt from start to finish. And we'd echo Tomoko's request that you listen to it at the start or end of the day for optimal results - far healthier than a spliff or night cap and will set your mood like some kind of ancient tuning fork.
Nope, not the ‘90s house act, but rather Philadelphia’s original ‘80s synth trio, The Nightcrawlers, are subject of this revelatory compendium from Mexican Summer’s Anthology Recordings. Spanning 14 works in just over 2.5 hours, The Biophonic Boombox Recordings form a gateway to distant, lo-fi but fantastical dimensions
“Deep, diverse, and unheralded, the Philadelphia ambient electronic music scene of the 1980s is explored with The Nightcrawlers’ The Biophonic Boombox Recordings, an expansive archival collection documenting the hard-knuckled kosmische synthesizer trio’s home recordings self-released and distributed over 35 cassettes between 1980 and 1991.
Featuring the farthest reaching spacescapes of those cassette releases – improvised straight into the mic of a JVC Biphonic Boombox – none of these performances have been released beyond the original format, and essentially went out of print when Nightcrawler Peter D. Gulch got tired of dubbing them to blank tapes to mail-order through his Synkronos label and sell at live shows. Restored and recalibrated from the original cassettes, The Nightcrawlers’ music has never sounded better or so readily accessible.”