Mica Levi’s absorbing soundtrack for Alejandro Landes’ ‘Monos’ is a jagged tessellation of electro/acoustic/environmental textures riven with pangs of emotive string orchestration.
Following a group of young soldiers and rebels watching over an American hostage in an undisclosed location and time in the South American jungle, ‘Monos’ pursues a storyline where “order descends into chaos”, which surely proved a tasty concept for Mica to dive in with her abundant imagination and remarkably wide-scoped palette of electronics, strings, and field recordings.
Across 15 songs in 30 minutes, Mica plays up to the film’s atemporality by drawing on her knowledge of medieval and renaissance music as much the variegation of global folk styles and modern sound design, with the soundtrack oscillating psychedelic between stark, recurrent flute and pipe motifs and supple, chewy electronics, to panic-inducing strings and moments of chamber-like grace, all interspersed with runs of dramatic timpani and incredibly rich location recordings of colourful birds and running water.
There’s perhaps an obvious parallel to be drawn with Popol Vuh soundtracks for Herzog, and their shared themes of psychological terror in the jungle, but Mica is a master of precision, and her contributions are all more sharply angular and more low key, while still connoting a sense of dread and natural lushness. If you need highlights for a way in, it’s advised to check for the ripping synths and tense string quartet of ‘Lobo Y Lady’, and the the feeling of being alone in the jungle at night connoted by ‘Sin Radio’, which could almost be a Mika Vainio and Hildur Guddnadottir piece, or the way her signature taste for experimental, dissonant tonalities comms into play on the deeply trippy ‘Helicóptero’, while ‘Monos’ is simply a classic end sequence theme bound to take on a new life beyond the film.
The combined forces of Steve Davis, Kavus Torabi (Gong/Cardiacs/Knifeworld/Guapo) and Michael J. York (Coil/Teleplasmiste/Guapo) have arrived at no less than a modular driven kosmische colossus of transcendent power enough to drive all talk of green baize firmly into the blue yonder.
"With Davis' modular geometry and ambient structures weaving with Torabi's keen and skewed sense of melody and York's various gifts for pipes, drones and fevered abstract - the result is a beguiling tapestry as likely to remind listeners of the countercultural benchmarks of Terry Riley, Cluster and Fripp/Eno as the latervortex-voyages of Emeralds and Seefeel.
"The overall sound was pretty accidental" reckons Kavus. "I certainly didn't expect the music to sound so ecstatic and positive, Without wanting to puncture the mystery, there really felt like an element of magic at play in making this album.
For the most part it was incredibly effortless" It was never any secret that Davis - even at the peak of his household name status in the 1980s - was as happy putting a needle on a vinyl record as anything else involving a cue.
What's more - his music obsession took on new bounds after his retirement from sport in 2016, with his DJ partnership with Torabi taking him to festivals and clubs for many a head-spinning rampage, in which the wide-eyed assembled would be as likely to hear Autechre as Black Sabbath."
Expanded edition of Dots & Loops, Stereolab’s fifth studio album and for our money their best. It was the first Stereolab album to mostly ditch the motorik/Neu! obsessions that had been a trademark since their inception; instead the sound here is dominated by odd time signatures wrapped in electronic, lounge and jazz textures, once again produced by Tortoise maverick John McEntire, with Mouse on Mars taking over duties on three of the tracks to showcase the band's most complex set of recordings to date. Remastered from original tapes, this new expanded edition includes a bonus disk of unreleased demos, outtakes and alternate mixes - which serve to highlight just how great the songs on this album are. Stripped of all the studio trickery, they still hold up - they hold up very well.
22 years old and Dots & Loops still sounds like a defining album of its era. Released in 1997, it found the band’s motorik fascinations upended by mostly electronic, loop-based foundations, in places augmented by echoes of Tropicalia and Sean O’Hagan’s psychedelic Farfisa. It’s an album that’s both exotic and rooted in the everyday detail with which they made their name over the previous decade - with that growing electronic dimension joining dots between their kraut roots, Pharrell /Timbaland and the more complex electronic music of the day typified by Autechre, Aphex, Mouse on Mars and so on.
Recorded in Chicago and Düsseldorf, Dots & Loops bridges a unique American-Euro influence - Bossa Nova and ’60s Euro pop are still major touchstones - imbuing proceedings with a deceptively light feel; while further listens reveal an elaborate work, with almost every track featuring complicated and layered arrangements. “Parsec” is space-rock meets drum and bass; “Brakhage” marries a minor key bass line to clinking vibes and a shuffling beat; the segmented, 20-minute “Refractions in the Plastic Pulse” is sunny and appealing, yet intricately constructed.
The dividing line between the band’s first phase and what would be its more experimental latter period, Dots & Loops is an intricately woven and complex masterpiece that's somehow breezy and evocative, like nothing else.
‘The Practice of Love’ is the 5th solo album peach by Jenny Hval, one of the strongest avant/pop artists to emerge this decade, and certainly one of the most striking to emerge from Norway.
Conceived as an interdisciplinary piece for Oslo’s Ultima festival, ‘The Practice of Love’ investigates the link between life and art in a specific way that Hval terms “an umbilical magic”, or essentially the empathy of collective creation. Working with artists she loves, Jenny brings Félicia Atkinson, Vivian Wang and Laura Jean on board for a spellbinding expression of joy and pain, presence/absence, or life and death, that deals with heavy subjects in a naturally light-handed and uncannily expressive electronic pop style.
On the most immediate level, ‘The Practice of Love’ offers colourful and energetic relief from the hauntingly stark ‘Blood Bitch’ album, mostly thanks to Jenny’s embrace of light-headed dance tropes and uplifting ambient touches. But on another level, the lyrics and feel of the music connotes a sense of being beside or outside of one’s self, seeing the world from shared and other perspectives, in a play of individual/communal paradoxes familiar to dance music and the club experience; a kind of practice of love?
Purring into gear with the dawning flight of ‘Lions’ the LP winds thru sensuous ambient chug in ‘High Alice’ and the dry iced lift of ‘Accident’ to the poetic ambient centrepiece of Laura Jean and Viivian Wang’s superimposed voices in the title song, before Félicia Atkinson chimes in on the final section, lending ASMR whisper to ‘Thumbsucker’, while all four women converge in the winged ‘90s disco-tech of ‘Six Red Cannas.’
Newly expanded with a bonus disc of 10 unreleased demos and alternate versions and available on vinyl for 1st time since 1996, Stereolab’s classic 4th studio album is back in circulation, offerign a fresh chance to dive into what Pitchfork ranked as the 51st greatest album of the 1990s, and was then (and still is) a cornerstone of retro indie-pop and post-rock experimentalism starring guest turn by Tortoise’s John McEntire.
Remastered from original tapes with a bonus disk of unreleased demos, outtakes and alternate mixes. Co-released by band’s own label Duophonic UHF Disks and Warp Records. Fold-out poster insert with lyrics and sleevenotes from Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane Vinyl comes in bespoke gatefold sleeve with download card, housed inside a heavyweight clear PVC wallet.
Newly expanded with a bonus disc of 15 unreleased demos and alternate versions and available on vinyl for 1st time since 1999, Stereolab’s classic 6th studio album is back in circulation, still brimming with their most charming, jazzy bossa nova and gallic avant-lounge-pop charms and featuring vital input from Jim O’Rourke.
Remastered from original tapes with a bonus disk of unreleased demos, outtakes and alternate mixes. Co-released by band’s own label Duophonic UHF Disks and Warp Records. Vinyl comes in bespoke gatefold sleeve with download card, housed inside a heavyweight clear PVC wallet Fold-out poster insert with lyrics and sleevenotes from Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane.
Shapeshifting polymath Mike Patton meets the gallic class of Jean-Claude Vannier in a smoky suite recalling the latter’s classique chanson arrangements for Serge Gainsbourg.
Accompanied by the Bécon Palace String Ensemble and guest musicians who have worked with Beck, Johnny Cash and NIN, the central duo of Patton and Vannier make an odd but comfortable coupling alternating between straight-laced and experimental songwriting in a studied style native to ’60s/‘70s french music, and the way it incorporated both avant and popular music in luxurious style.
““Jean-Claude and I met while working together on a Gainsbourg retrospective at the Hollywood Bowl in 2011,” explains Patton. “We bonded immediately. I could see he had a dedication and attention to detail that was relentless so the respect I had for him in my mind was magnified in person. We spoke loosely about working together in the future… and it took some time, but after a few years I contacted him and we began to ignite some sparks.”
“I would send Mike rough versions of the songs to get his thoughts, then I’d wait impatiently, staring at the clock, until I received his response,” offers Vannier about the process the duo used to create Corpse Flower. “He made my music awaken with his unique perspective and interpretations of my songs. A formidable vocalist, with a sense of humor, Mike and I created a strong, beautiful and sincere collection of music, as well as a friendship.”
Bat For Lashes grasps for a wistful ’80s aesthetic with her self-released fifth studio album ‘Lost Girls’
‘Lost Girls’ sees Natasha Khan’s BFL channel the soft focus FM synth glow of the ‘80s in a similar way to IDIB’s Johnny Jewel and co. while heavily referencing the dream-pop of Kate Bush, who has long been cited as an inspiration on her sound.
Following her ‘Sexwitch’ album of ‘70s inspirations, the choice to go all ‘80s just as everyone is nodding to the ‘90s and even the zero zeros feels a bit contrary, but also makes a natural fit to BFL’s sensibilities, which have long displayed an affection for the era’s emergence of dream-pop tropes and the digital language of modern pop music.
Working closely with co-producer Charles Scott IV, Khan makes her influences feel dreamily detached from the here and now, instantly separating her from the contemporary crowd and offering a fine framework for her tendency toward a sort of textural sensuality not often found in modern pop music.
Listen out for highlights between her 4AD-skooled shoegaze moment ‘Vampires’, embellished with extra synth and sax, along with a clear thing for Cyndi Lauper in ‘Safe Tonight’, plus super sultry vibes in Jasmine’, and a very Jai Paul-esque sound in ‘Feel For You.’
Miles Davis shocked the music world in 1985 when he left Columbia Records after 30 years to join Warner Bros. Records. In October of that year, he began recording the album Rubberband in Los Angeles at Ameraycan Studios with producers Randy Hall and Zane Giles. The musical direction Davis was taking during the sessions marked a radical departure, with the inclusion of funk and soul grooves; with plans to feature guest vocalists Al Jarreau and Chaka Khan. Eventually, the album was shelved and Davis went on to record Tutu, leaving the Rubberband songs unheard and untouched for over 30 years.
"Davis’ fans finally got a taste of the iconic trumpeter’s long-lost album last year with the release of a four-song Rubberband EP for Record Store Day, which is also available digitally. Now Rhino is excited to announce that the entire 11-song Rubberband album will make its debut on September 6 on CD, LP, and digitally. It was finished by the original producers Hall and Giles; with Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn, Jr., who played drums on the original sessions for the album in 1985-86. The track titled “Rubberband Of Life,” featuring Ledisi, is available now digitally. The cover art for the album is a Davis original painting from the time.
“Uncle Miles would be proud. Randy, Zane and I, and everyone involved, put our heart and soul into ‘The Rubberband Of Life,’” says Wilburn, Jr. In 2017 – 32 years after Davis started recording Rubberband– Hall, Giles, and – and Davis’ nephew, Wilburn, Jr., began work to finish the album. The final version includes several guest artists including singers Ledisi (a 12-time Grammy nominee) and Lalah Hathaway (daughter of soul legend Donny Hathaway).
Davis – who plays both trumpet and keyboards on the album – was joined in the studio by keyboardists Adam Holzman, Neil Larsen and Wayne Linsey; percussionist Steve Reid; saxophonist Glen Burris; and Wilburn, Jr. on drums. The sessions were engineered by Grammy®-winner Reggie Dozier, whose brother Lamont Dozier was part of the legendary Motown song writing team Holland-Dozier-Holland."
Cultishly adored singer/songwriter Sandro Perri (Polmo Polpo) saddles up a dream of an album with ‘Soft Landing’ for his spiritual home at Constellation. It sounds omething like Jim O’Rourke’s 'Eureka' crossed with Mike Cooper’s Pacific exotica and Prince’s ’Slow Love’ - it shouldn't work, but it does, boy it does!
Issued only a year since his ‘In Another Life’ album, he makes up for lost time (which, to be fair, was filed with two Off World LPs) in a deliciously gentle, rustic collection of songs brimming with that slow burn soul that’s kept us and many others coming back to his recordings over the past 20 years - if you haven’t heard his Polmo Polpo take on Arthur Russell’s ‘Kiss Me Again’ you haven’t lived, basically.
Just like his legendary take on ‘Kiss Me Again’, Perri applies that chronic magic to the opener of his new album with ‘Time (You Got Me)’ for 16 minutes of sunset strolling country folk that feels like a time lapse of hundreds of years in half the actual track length. Go figure. The rest of the album however is packed into relatively shorter songs, drifting from the balmy to psychedelic instrumental ‘Floriana’ to the soul gloop of ‘God Blessed The Fool’ and ornate acoustic guitar embellishments of ‘Back On Love’, before coaxing out the freckled ‘70s funk of ‘Wrong About The Rain’ and supplying a trusty closer with Fleetwood Mac winks of ’Soft Landing.’
Berghain’s resident IDM/electronica specialist returns with a debut album full of crafty. intricate rhythms and enchantingly melodic synth arrangements for loved up neuromancers.
Following his two LPs with Andy Baumcker, and recent 12” optimised for peaktime, Barker’s solo debut LP ’Utility’ is given a perhaps ironically dry title for an Ostgut Ton release that’s more likely to serve its purposes beyond Berghain’s boom room.
In nine elegantly efficient and melodic pieces Barker’s clinical sound design chops come to the fore in minimal, tactile style, flowing from the lip-smacking trance fluff of ‘Paradise Engineering’ thru Second Woman-like hyper-dub-techno in ‘Posmean’ to pockets of lush ambient dub inversion on ‘Gradients of Bliss’ and ‘Wireheading’, saving a strong closing statement with what sounds like a lush and frivolous Dynamo or Various Artists workout in ‘Die-Hards Of The Darwinian Order.’
Reissue of Satoshi Ashikawa’s classic of Japanese environmental/ambient/minimalism, Still Way (Wave Notation 2) - The Wave Notation series also includes Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Music For Nine Postcards album.
"The album, available on vinyl (first time since 1982) and digipack CD (with one bonus track), comes with a cover artwork by Hiroshi Yoshimura and liner notes by Midori Takada, Satoshi Ashikawa himself, and Irish producer Gareth Quinn Redmond (whose Still Way-inspired album Laistigh den Ghleo is being released simultaneously on WRWTFWW). Initially released in 1982 as part of the Wave Notation series*, Still Way is, without a doubt, a seminal Japanese environmental/ambient/minimalism album, often mentioned alongside Midori Takada’s Through Looking Glass and Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Green as one of the genre’s most important pieces.
"Like the moment of stillness, after the wind passes through the garden, when the rain stops for a brief second…" Notably inspired by Erik Satie’s Furniture Music and Brian Eno’s ambient work, Satoshi Ashikawa aimed to compose music "intended to be listened to in a casual manner, as a musical landscape or a sound object…not something that would stimulate listeners but music that should drift like smoke and become part of the environment."
The result is simply phenomenal, subtle minimalism and emotional elegance exquisitely orchestrated by Satoshi Ishikawa and his team consisting of his wife Masami Ashikawa (on flute), Midori Takada (on vibraphone), Yuko Utsumi (on harp), Tomoko Sono (on piano), and Junko Arase (on vibraphone)."
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."
Throbbing Gristle's second album, remastered - making for markedly superior sound quality to some previous editions - and reissued on Industrial Records.
This finds the band at their sleazy (no pun intended) and savage best, reaching an apogee of apoplectic rage on 'We Hate You (Little Girls)', and has to rank as one of the most brilliant British evocations of decay and dysfunction to appear in any art form, ever. For all the P.Orridge-helmed murk, you feel Chris Carter's presence more firmly on this album - as on the the steam-powered, laser-striped synth-wave of 'Dead On Arrival' and especially 'AB/7A', reminiscent of his recently canonized solo set The Space Between.
For all its electronic innovations, DoA also captures TG's oft-forgotten ability to rock, as heard on 'I.B.M.', 'Hit By A Rock' and 'Blood On The Floor', which locate and update the essence of the Stooges and Gen’s beloved Velvets. 'Five Knuckle Shuffle' is as disconcertingly, flagellatingly funky as it always was, and in 'Walls Of Sound' you see the roots of Whitehouse and pretty much all P.E. and harsh noise that's come since.
Never mind the bollocks, you've got Throbbing Gristle.
If you're new to Throbbing Gristle then, well, shame on you; but don't worry, all's not lost, you can get up to speed with the help of the band's Greatest Hits, newly remastered.
First released by Rough Trade in 1980 with the apt subtitle Entertainment Through Pain, it's an unbeatable summary of crucial material from Gen, Chris, Cosey and Sleazy's first three albums (Second Annual Report, DoA: The Third and Final Report and 20 Jazz Funk Greats), taking in the robo-fetish disco of 'Hot On The Heels of Love', the piss-streaked paranoia of 'Subhuman', the deadpan synth-pop pretensions of 'United' and more.
Once you've heard any of this stuff, you'll want to explore each album properly, but for now, if you ever wondered why TG are so deeply revered but were too afraid to ask, this'll tell you what you need to know. Punk might have done away with the past, but it was Throbbing Gristle that created the future.
Delicate ambient minimalism inspired by the early ‘80s Japanese environmental music of Satoshi Ashikawa’s Still Way (Wave Notation 2)
“WRWTFWW Records present the release of Irish ambient/minimalist producer Gareth Quinn Redmond’s Laistigh den Ghleo, a companion album to Satoshi Ashikawa’s Still Way (Wave Notation 2). The album, available on vinyl and digipack CD for the first time, comes with liner notes by Midori Takada and Gareth Quinn Redmond.
"Conceptually derived from the work of Japanese minimalist composer Satoshi Ashikawa, I have composed an album which hopes to engage, enrich and reflect the listener’s surroundings, an Environmental Music." - Gareth Quinn Redmond
Working with Still Way as a base for inspiration, Gareth Quinn Redmond takes Ashikawa’s meditative sound designs to more dramatic and lyrical landscapes, gracefully instilling his personal touch into the master’s melodic patterns and presenting six pieces which blend and reflect the modern listener’s ever changing environment. As Midori Takada explains in the liner notes, "Even though Gareth is deeply influenced by Still Way, he looks above, toward the air and the sky. He pays respect to Ashikawa’s approach, but adds bold elements from another dimension…Satoshi Ashikawa aspired to crystallize the sound structure of nature that exists in the environment. Gareth tries to capture what flourishes out of it."
Laistigh den Ghleo is released in conjunction with Satoshi Ashikawa’s Still Way (Wave Notation 2) reissue on WRWTFWW Records.”
Quiet music conceptualist and practitioner, Jakob Ullmann's 2nd release and first with Editions RZ was first issued in 2005.
It yields a single 73 minute piece written for an ensemble of thirteen solo strings and up to three additional solo parts arranged to explore the filigree infidelities of their range between almost "pure", natural harmonics to diffuse noise at the lowest threshold of perception thanks to masterly feats of restrained technicality and the composer's vision.
Of course, this is much more than an exercise in academic or technical exactitude. Ullmann's score elicits the players to play at the edge of their nerves and skill to reaffirm the piece's sureness and manifest the slightest differentiations, sustaining our attention in pensile equilibrium so that the most minor shifts in pace, tone, timbre ensure optimal effect, and live up to the piece's conceptual power.
Bringing to a close a series which has frankly altered the way we listen to and perceive sound and music over the course of this decade, Jakob Ullmann seals his important Fremde Zeit series with ‘Solo V for Klavier’; a fascinatingly stark and spectral hour-long finale that sets the idea of ‘Foreign Time’ in its most minimalist and broadest setting.
Like the previous instalments, ‘solo V für Klavier’ is interpreted from a graphic score, this time formed from a series of abstract water-colours aleatorically overlaid with transparent sheets marked with black lines, scattered in the manner of oracle sticks to create a pattern determining the duration of sections, their colour and sequencing. Whilst patently super-minimal, the piece’s pianissimo nature is too demanding for just one solo performer, Lukas Rikli, who requires the participation of three assistants who use horsehair on the strings to sustain the soundscape.
So far, so concrete (and the above is only a skim of the full technical requirements), but what occurs arguably falls within the realm of the supernatural and metaphysical. Performed according to Ullmann’s uniquely conjured laws of physics, the work opens an uncanny valley between the object - the grand piano - and subjective perceptions of its sound. It takes several minutes before one might even realise a piano is at the centre of the soundstage - somehow all the action appears to happen in the meridian, in the timbral, in the liminal aura, almost frighteningly connoting a presence but not the actual body that produced it.
It’s only when identifiable chords and strings occasionally loom forward that we can just about make out the fixed physicalities in the room, but in the process we’ve already attuned to Ullmann’s laws of sonic democracy (if you’re doing it properly, the piece should play at just above the volume of environmental sound - hence it works best at night), which makes any instrumental gesture, no matter how slight, appear magnified, animating a microcosmos of sound at the molecular level.
The results highlight the effective warzones of sonic bombardment and “pollution” we’re all subject to everyday, and most intently offer the invaluable space for retreat we’re all clearly, increasingly in need of.
Fremde Zeit Addendum 4 is the most recent iteration of Jakob Ullmann’s personalised and transcendent quiet music compositions following the equally highly recommended 3CD box set Freemde Zeit - Addendum (2012), plus Voice, Books and FIRE 3 (2008), and A Catalogue Of Sounds (2005) for Berlin’s Edition RZ imprint.
“Thus, Ullmann creates a quiet music in order to give himself and his listeners the opportunity to hear more, and better. This comes about because our ability to hear is augmented when listening to quiet music.
We hear better because we make an effort to hear better. That is why Ullmann likes to locate his sound sources at the periphery, so as not to make it too easy for the ear. In order to let sounds develop and move on their own time, the pieces are usually longer than the general concert norm dictates. The opening minutes serve as the exposition of the tempo and the mode, to condition, as it were, the listening. Bernd Leukert. (Translation: Laurie Schwartz)”
A colossal, trance-inducing, yet largely overlooked pillar of 20th century American minimalism.
Regarded no less than a "holy grail" by Keith Fullerton Whitman, it spans 100 minutes of atonal, amorphous string composition scored in four parts for a quintet, here performed by Linda Cummiskey (Violin), Malcolm Goldstein (Violin), Kathy Seplow (Violin), Stephen Reynolds (Viola), David Gibson (Violoncello).
By all accounts Harley Gaber was a colourful fella, a complex American artist, composer and filmmaker who dropped it all not long after release of this 1976 work to become a full time Tennis player and coach. He would return to the arts, and later music, writing soundtracks for his own films before sadly committing suicide in 2011.
'The Winds Rise in the North' is a frighteningly heavy and rewarding master-stroke, giving rise to dense, gripping harmonic overtones which prickle, seduce and get under the skin in a way that few others achieve. Lock the doors, turn off your phone and give yourself two hours with this. You won't regret it.
Eighteen months since their first issue, Woe To The Septic Heart!'s long delayed 2nd release finally dawns upon us.
Comprising entirely new and previously unreleased Shackleton material - including collaborations with vocalist Vengeance Tenfold and musical spars Andreas Gerth (Tied & Tickled Trio) and Kingsuk Biswas (Bedouin Ascent) - it's also his most shocking and invigorating body of work. What strikes us first and foremost is the newfound vitality and visceral impact of his sound here. Any signature murk is replaced with a lysergic lucidity and rendered in widescreen 3D that consumes the senses with ultra-vivid potential.
The CD entitled 'Music For The Quiet Hour' features your venerated protagonist and his mystical interpreter, Vengeance Tenfold in the extended format we've long wished to hear them, astral projecting cut-up passages of Tenfold's apocalypse-baiting text over five meticulously crafted sonic topographies which stretch to the periphery of the mind's eye and ever further into inky blackness. This combination of poetry/spoken word and dark ambience clearly calls to mind Deathprod's 'Reference Frequencies', but the choking bass pressure and timbral cadence are innately Shackleton, just presented in a vital new form. But, perhaps the most subtle yet striking new element is the wheezing, scaling tonal spectrum siphoned through the Italian drawbar organ module which inspired the title of 'The Drawbar Organ EPs'.
Effectively forming an album in their own right, it's here that we find more condensed, rhythmically structured episodes reminding of his recent live shows - which are, in our humble opinion, the finest in the world right now. Meditating on late '60s/early '70s Reich-ian rhythm phasing, stained with carmine Italian horror vibes, driven by wanton Junglist and post-punk torque and enveloped by a universal consciousness alluding to Alice Coltrane, it will take longer than we have right now for these tracks to settle in fully, but we can assure you that they're of the rarest, most precious substance. Unmissable.
"We would like to point out that this piece is extremely quiet. Please choose the volume setting of your sound system so as to just barely mask the ambient sounds of the room"
Jakob Ullmann: "voice, books and FIRE is the result of my reflections about the relationship between music and language: language as sound and language as text, the numerous relationships between texts of different cultural and religious traditions, between the work of the human spirit in the present and in the past and the questions arising from the problem of understanding these different traditions, languages and texts and representing them in a present, which has lost knowledge about substantial parts, even of its own tradition and history."
In Jakob Ullmann's 2nd release through Editions RZ, solemn, practically whispered incantations and creaking extended vocal technique of eight singers play in half-lit, wide open mid-air against the phosphorescing resonance of viola, violoncello, saxophone and flute. Recorded 1st July, in the Abteikirche Neresheim. Recommended
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.
Freshly remastered 20th Anniversary Edition of Múm's first album, with seven bonus tracks.
Thanks to the good folk over at Morr, this excellent 1st album from Mum has been recovered from the litigation ghetto and finally brought back to life for all those (and there are many) who have been hunting for it high and low over the last 10 years. Recorded in a "sweaty little room with carpenters banging nails around us", 'Yesterday Was Dramatic...' is undoubtedly Mum, just more brittle than we're accustomed too. With a sound that is sometimes more electronic then their later clockwork tundra's, Mum open with 'I'm 9 Today', wherein slow-motion electronica works itself into a healthy lather through some creaky bleeps and analogue shenanigans. Similarly, 'Small Memory', with it's brittle beats and propulsive urgency, bares little resemblance to the folky sound of last album 'Summer Made Good', yet somehow manages to retain that special something that makes their work so alluring. More overtly recognisable on the autumnal rustlings of 'Awake On A Train' or the rimy rhythms of 'Sunday Night Just Keeps On Rolling', and, of course, teh absolutely classic "Ballad of Broken Birdie.." 'Yesterday Was Dramatic...' will appeal to those who are and aren't familiar with Mum's previous work, and consummately proves why they are so fondly embraced by many.
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.”
Features two long-form tonal compositions, Sovereign of the Center (1972-1974) and the engrossingly slow movement of The Realm of Indra‘s Net (1974), running to 60 minutes total.
"Both works on this CD form, in a manner of speaking, bookends for another piece of mine, The Winds Rise in the North. The first of the two, Sovereign of the Centre, was my initial attempt at putting a new musical way of thinking into an ensemble rather than solo form. The second, The Realm of Indra's Net, builds on musical "discoveries" I made in the course of revising The Winds Rise in the North.
It is a hybrid work in as much as it is an "acoustic-tape piece" (not music concrete): There are four tracks of solo violin mixed down in different track combinations. (The one heard on this CD is a full-track mono version of the work.) Both of these pieces reflect a general shift in my musical thinking, which occurred in 1968 with Chimyaku (Japanese for "barely moving") scored for solo alto flute. It was with that work that I began to compose "slowed-down" music, like slow motion images in film, not merely slow music such as that of Feldman. H.G. July 2009 - January 2010"
New recording of vintage-sounding Kentucky country folk, made in Reykjavik, Iceland with Nathan Salsburg, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Maiden Radio and more .
“It was that Lee Hazelwood Cowboy in Sweden record. It was learning that the Atlantic Ocean spreads by about an inch each year, pushing apart Europe and America. It was that Iceland sits on top of that bubbling ridge and gains strange new land by its spreading. It was the desire to drink in that otherworldly landscape and experience its effect in the music, the way different alcohols have different intoxicating effects on a body. It was those cheap flights advertised. It was that you had to leave home to see it for what it is, to frame it neatly: to miss a thing was to know its shape.
These songs deal with the nest that is Kentucky. There’s a saying that goes something like, “When the world comes to an end, I want to be in Kentucky where it's always 5 years behind.” The water they say is good for distilling bourbon. There is something in the water. And what it produces in its people is alternately Dionysian and Apollonian.
Woven into the melodies and rhythms of these songs are fragments of the many musical traditions that comprise what we now call Kentucky music: Irish, British, and African to name a few. The best music would be a conversation with the divine that has seen all of it, or with the oldest trees that have witnessed the whole human story. These songs are partly that conversation, at times through the lens of lovers. They are also a longing cry born of all the dividing; a call across the slowly spreading ocean. Primarily, Like the River Loves the Sea is built as a haven for overstimulated heads in uncertain times. The title (which comes from a song by Si Kahn) speaks of the inevitable and at times indifferent nature of love. Whether it be a physical place or an idea, everyone needs a place of comfort. One where we can look out again from that place of calm and see how to best act and to be in an uncertain world.
- Joan Shelley
Skylight, Ky, April 2019”
Joey Negro & Sean P’s pivotal ‘Disco Not Disco’ compilation resurfaces on Strut CD nearly 20 years since it laid out the label’s stall and influenced countless DJs, dancers and producers in its wake.
Cutting across the face of NYC disco’s leftfield denominations and experimentalists between the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, ‘Disco Not Disco’ was, and still is, prized for pulling together a load of all-time classics which, in 2000, weren’t so readily available to the eager listener or dancer. It arrived at a really weird time in dance music when, beyond UK garage and 2-step or its cousin U.S. R&B, innovation was short on the ground, and it’s fair to say that compilations of vintage, “leftfield” gear such as this and the likes of Gomma’s crankier ‘Anti NY’ set would supply necessary inspiration and a license to groove weirder, freakier.
Running down from the John Lennon-produced Yoko Ono ace ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ thru the likes of Ian Dury’s anthem ‘Spasticus Autisticus (Version)’ to a number of Arthur Russell zingers as Loose Joints, Dinosaur L, and Indian Ocean, via Liquid Liquid’s ‘Cavern’ touchstone and Bill Laswell and co’s funky turn as Material, the set is evidently not short on big names. But it’s maybe fair to say that many of them have really seen a reappraisal or renewed interest after the release of this set, which was stocked in practically every indie record shop and even the high street stores back then. As a party-starting collection for entry-level connoisseurs and suave but lazy types, this one’s an education.
“Drawing inspiration from film, literature, art, and music, “Zdenka 2080” was heavily influenced in particular by a series of apocalyptic sci-fi novels by Octavia Butler and Gene Wolf. “They inspired me to explore the realms of fantasy as a means of illuminating concepts and truths about our own society and humanity,” she says. “I also was very inspired by the movies Tekkonkinkreet and Embrace of the Serpent - a beautiful exploration of capitalism, colonialism and greed.”
"Musically, Olsen references fellow members of Oakland record label/musical family Hot Record Societe: Cheflee, Mejiwahn, Asonic Garcia and Pacific Yew as ever present influences, alongside musical giants Shuggie Otis and Herbie Hancock, composer, bandleader and all-round visionary Raymond Scott, plus the likes of Stereolab and Flying Lotus.
“Sometimes my songs can be very silly and whimsical,” Olsen explains - with new single ‘Cumulous Potion (For the Clouds to Sing)’ being a case in point. “Sometimes they are more serious and emotional. I was looking for a way to weave all of my styles into a cohesive narrative, and I found a lot of inspiration in the way often movies and shows in the animé tradition seamlessly connect the whimsical, silly, serious, and meaningful.”
Olsen’s music is highly conceptual and “Zdenka 2080” describes a future dystopian Earth in the year 2080 that has been mis-managed by unethical governments and corporations. An initiative by greedy big business to capture solar energy to power a super-sized spaceship, results in a rapidly cooling Earth, and the elite escape via the spaceship to colonize another distant planet. The earthlings left behind find themselves fading with the cooling sun. The first half of the album follows the journey of a young earthling left behind. She discovers an octagonal room with eight paintings, each one leading to a new dimension, and travels through the dimensions in search of a way to save her planet. Her journey eventually leads her to a window where we discover that the octagonal room is the brain of the Earth and the paintings and coinciding dimensions are the thoughts of the Earth creature. The imagery of the paintings affect the thoughts of the Earth creature. Zdenka is the name of the artist who creates the paintings inside the octagonal room. Thus, she can influence the thoughts and actions of the Earth creature and humans on Earth based on what she paints. In this story, Zdenka is lost and confused and she paints very dark imagery. The young earthling begins a quest to find and convince her to paint more positive imagery.
Olsen says that her moods are often very connected to whether or not she is feeling creatively inspired and productive. “I have noticed creative blocks for me can be dark spirals into ego-centric, self loathing, isolating, and selfish tendencies,” she explains. “In this story, I wanted to explore the ways in which art can easily take dark and careless turns, but how important it is to remember the effects art has on others. I am not advocating for optimistic art only - I just wanted to write this story as a reminder to myself to strive to be intentional in the art I create.””
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.”
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.
Chris Carter, Cosey Fanni Tutti, and Nik Colk Void remerge for a 3rd and final group outing of motorik trample and tripped-out electronic noise Extant as trio since 2012, Carter Tutti Void have trodden a fine line between live and studio act, starting with an improvised group show at Short Circuit Festival in 2011 and subsequently cementing their visceral, in-the-moment charge in the ’Traverse’  and ‘𝒇 (x)’  albums. With ‘Triumvirate’ they bring the curtain down on the project with six gristly demonstrations of industrially attuned intuition, with Nik Colk Void’s sandpapered guitar textures opening out over heaving rhythms in a way that will dominate and ignite the senses when heard via powerful soundsystems.
“The rhythms, created by Chris Carter, formed the foundation and starting point from which the process began of melding the live instrumentation of Cosey Fanni Tutti and Nik Void’s searing guitars, vocals, effects and the arsenal of sounds each had amassed from a variety of sources, some sounds manipulated to extremes, all fed into the mix. Tying the album together is the power of three, and a free open approach to sound shared by the trio.
Chris Carter recently released his first solo album in 17 years, Chris Carter’s Chemistry Lessons Vol. 1 (Mute, 2018) and Cosey Fanni Tutti’s TUTTI, her first album since 1982, came out ear-lier this year on Conspiracy International (home of Chris and Cosey since 1982). Nik Void is currently working on her debut solo album.”
Warp’s in-house indie-disco band keep trottin’ them out with ‘Wallop’, another pile of funk vocals and the kind of student disco grease that was surely outlawed in the last decade, yet appears to be alive on some A&R guy’s Excel pie chart and an SU in the Outer Hebrides...
“Doesn't it seem like everyone's freaking out lately? !!! know the feeling well. The NYC dance-punk lifers have been chronicling the perpetual meltdown that is American society for nearly 20 years now, from the clattering full-band thrust of their instantly iconic 2003 single "Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story)" to the dark disco of 2017's wonderfully eclectic Shake the Shudder.
Their eighth full-length, Wallop, follows in the band's grand tradition of plugging straight into our collective nervous system and sending funky, rubbery shock waves through the body politic. If you've found yourself rubbing your temples while contemplating the collapse of everything around us? Well, !!! are bringing the soundtrack to your next nervous breakdown.
Like an apocalyptic jukebox, Wallop is jam-packed with various sounds and styles from dance music's rich history—from the pie-eyed psychedelia of Madchester-era English dance-rock to tunnel-vision techno and the flashy, bomb-dropping sound of UK grime. The candy-coated sounds of '90s rave loom large in Wallop's playful darkness, a callback to another era when everything felt like it was just about ready to fall apart. Diving into '90s retro nostalgia is good for us," frontman Nic Offer explains while discussing the sonic rediscovery at the beating heart of Wallop. "I know all the '80s stuff already, so it's like, 'What did happen in the '90s?' Because in the '90s, we were just listening to James Brown."
Wallop was recorded over the past year in Offer's Brooklyn apartment—a first for the band, as !!!'s latest was rife with experimentation throughout the creative gestation: "Our process was to get loose and get into uncharted territory," he puts it succinctly. This meant messing around with gear they didn't quite understand, conjuring new sounds and bringing in familiar friends to contribute vocals—including Liars frontman Angus Andrew, Maria Uzor of British dance aesthetes Sink Ya Teeth, and Glasser's synth-pop wizard Cameron Mesirow, who all join Offer and !!! co-vocalist Meah Pace on this barn-burning party of a record.”
Nobody does timeless yet modern ennui quite like HTRK. On their 4th album proper the duo trustingly cup your heart in a cats cradle of crepuscular rhythms & valium blues, all riddled with Jonnine Standish's ear worming mantras and Nigel Yang’s heat haze guitar shimmers.
Issued five years on from their excellent last album ‘Psychic 9-5 Club’, this new collection was recorded in the hills outside Melbourne and has a suitably lofty, cool, spacious air about it that makes their previous albums feel urgent by comparison. That’s maybe understandable considering the tragic circumstances surrounding their earlier albums (they lost a bandmate, mentor, and parent during this period), yet while ‘Venus In Leo’ is still decidedly gothic and downbeat, it’s clear they’ve come to terms with their quota of life’s worries, with Jonnine Standish’s vocals more than ever bearing the slow, travelled pathos of a country folk singer, beautifully accentuated by Nigel Yang’s acoustic strums. Don’t worry though, the spine tingling synths and lip-bitingly strong drum machine pulses are still firmly in place.
Preceded by two of its highlights, including Jonnine's sigh at the state of love in the age of social media on ‘Mentions’, and the aching shuffle of ‘Dying of Jealousy’ (whose singles both have killer B-sides), the album contains a further seven new songs that again confirm HTRK among the definitive songwriters of their scene. Between the opiated allure of ‘Into The Drama’, the shivery sweet acknowledgement of a lover’s compliments in ‘You Know How To Make Me Happy’, lazy afternoon sentiments on ‘Dream Symbol’, and the wilting petals of Yang’s guitar and dubbed drum machine in ‘New Year’s Day’, HTRK arguably prove the most crucial bridge between their heroes The Birthday Party/Rowland S. Howard/Suicide/David Lynch and a wave of modern pop tristesse from Lil Peep to Billie Eilish, whether those artists know it or not.
Back in ’79, when Chris Watson was still a member of Cabaret Voltaire, the industrial pioneers wrote the soundtrack for Babs Mondini’s 16mm flick, ‘Chance Versus Causality’. 40 years later the near-mythical recording finally resurfaces on Mute’s Grey Area, and is certain to send Cabs fans reeling
As the legend goes, Cabaret Voltaire’s Chris Watson, Richard H. Kirk and Stephen Mallinder mets Babs Mondini after their legendary ’79 Brussels Plan K show on a bill with Joy Division and William S. Burroughs. Babe asked the band to record a soundtrack to her upcoming film, and, without even seeing the film, or any instruction from the director, they created the soundtrack in an “ambient style”, meaning, in their own words “less rhythm, more tape” coupled with spacey, noisy FX and laced with vocals samples from other films. The results were sent as reels of tape to Holland and applied to the film, a split screen art piece given a limited release that was ultimately never seen by the band. Fast fwd 25 years and the music was returned to the band, who have finally conspired with Mute for this long-overdue 2019 vinyl edition.
The 2LP affords an unabridged gaze upon Cabaret Voltaire at their loosest and instinctive, providing a stark contrast to their driving disco-not-disco classic ’Nag Nag Nag’ and a rare snapshot of Chris Watson’s tenure, before he departed and became a preeminent field recordist for Tyne Tees TV and eventually the BBC. It’s worth focusing on Watson here, as his field recording influence is apparent right from the opening seconds’ sound of running water and throughout the soundtrack, whereas Kirk and Mallinder provide a range of percussion, strings and wind instruments that are warped, smudged and mulched in-the-mix.
If you’re a frivolous silly bugger, the soundtrack is practically worth it for the cranky, uncredited Yorkshireman decrying “There’s something bubbling up in this bastard, I don’t like it at all”, but if you’re in it for the music, mayne, you’ll be rewarded with some of the Cabs’ rawest material on record, with palmed blasts of dissonant blatz interrupting passages of wry electronics, anguished chorales, spluttering drum machines and buckling tape, all pebble-dashed with vocal samples lifted from french art flicks and radio and TV adverts and the like.
Only 28 years old, Kjetil Mulelid comes across as an exceptionally mature pianist and composer.
"His trio´s debut ”Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House” (2017) received wide international acclaim, with writers most typically mentioning Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans. All About Jazz noted their conversational style and sometime gospel feel, Textura made a point out of their melodic sense and folk-like character while The Wire noted the grooves, rich harmonies and lyrical melodies and concluded about "just how magical this album is". "What You Thought Was Home" continues in this tradition, with eight new beguiling Mulelid compositions expertly balancing energetic, often rhytmically complex and harmonically rich music with beautiful and evocative melodies.
It´s not all about Mulelid though, bassist Bjørn Marius Hegge and drummer Andreas Winther effortlessly conjure additional layers, tones and textures, incorporating a sense of calm; an unhurried yet constantly unfolding sound world which can be said to be distinctively Scandinavian, most typically heard in Hegge´s sole composition "Bruremarsj (Wedding March)".
“Find Sound is the debut record from Shards, a London based vocal group led by singer, composer and producer Kieran Brunt. Combining voices, synths and percussion, Find Sound is an astonishing exploration of the human voice; using the concepts of sound and light as simple metaphors for gaining understanding. The album’s pieces are intended to be miniature sonic paintings, with each adding to an overall picture of the emotional confusion of early adulthood: the uncertainty, the excitement, the terror and relief.
After collaborating with Terry Riley in 2016, Brunt was asked by the Barbican to form a choral group for Nils Frahm’s Possibly Colliding festival that summer. Following the success of the shows, Frahm invited Brunt to join him in Berlin to collaborate on choral arrangements for his recent album All Melody. Shards have since gone on to collaborate with other notable artists, including Michael Price on his recent LP Tender Symmetry.
Lyrically based around a haiku-like poem, album opener and title-track Find Sound feels both fresh and naive; perhaps symbolising some kind of birth or new life. Summer Sickness explores feeling anxious and depressed whilst everyone around you is seemingly happy and smiling. Take the unrelenting arpeggiated synth line, it seems upbeat and positive on the surface, but becomes unsettling and jarring on closer inspection.
Dissect is a more abstract moment early on, a mini psychodrama taking place in the listeners mind. It segues perfectly into Thoughts, itself a pean to the existential, reflecting how something that starts out small - private even - can become epic.
Beams replicates that moment of feeling the warmth of the sun on you for the first time. This is the most distant the choir sound on the record, as voices are fed through a guitar amp and reverb pedals to distort them into new shapes. On Lost the voices sound isolated and desperate. Nebulous is moody and brooding, like dark clouds gathering before a storm; and from this growing tension Unrest acts as its release. One of the boldest, most dynamic compositions on the record, this track sees Shards channel the dual feelings of anger and excitement.
Inner Counterpoint is a calming nod to a moment of reflection in the opera Billy Budd by Benjamin Britten, whose music continues to be a huge inspiration to Brunt. Album closer I Needed the Sun is a simple and poignant moment filled with sadness and hope.”
Strong new one from noise queen Pharmakon; sheer, hellish treats await intrepid types inside her first proper studio recording, especially the processed banshee intensity of her vox in ‘Homeostasis’ and the militant trample of ‘Self-Regulating System’ - a potential industrial dancefloor anthem.
“Devour marks the fourth full-length record from Margaret Chardiet’s project Pharmakon and her most intense output to date. Like her previous albums, Devour comes with a strong concept that is exorcised throughout the five demolishing tracks on the album, using imagery and language of self-cannibalism as allegory for the self-destructive nature of humans. Each of the five songs echoes a stage of grief associated with this cyclical chamber of self-destruction and the chaos surrounding us that leads us to devour ourselves in an attempt to balance the agony.
The album was recorded by Ben Greenberg (Uniform) and is the first Pharmakon album recorded live in studio. The A and B sides were each recorded as a continuous take with vocals from start to finish, marking a totally new process for the artist that allows the ferocity and immediacy of her live performance to resonate throughout. Devour also explores new sonic territory, with denser electronics, groovier hooks, and moments of her most unhinged vocal deliveries to date. As one of the premiere vanguards of modern industrial and power electronics, Chardiet continuously pushes the genres and everyone involved in them, and with the release of Devour, she has once again changed the game.”
Set your blasters for retro with a 30 year anniversary edition of Spacemen 3’s ‘Live in Europe 1989’ recording, remastered by John Rivers at Woodbine Street Studio, January 2019
The imagined offspring of Suicide, Sonic Youth and The VU run thru material from their first three albums across 13 songs recorded during their tour of Germany, Spring 1989. Recorded no doubt in a haze of gear circa their legendary ‘Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To’, it’s a strong testament to the live might of S3 in the late ‘80s, as they bridged the gap between psych and drone rock and shoegaze alongside other notables such as Jesus and Mary Chain, spawning a thousand and one imitators in the process.
‘i,i’ is Bon Iver’s most expansive, joyful and generous album to date.
"If ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ was the crisp, heart-strung isolation of a northern Winter; ‘Bon Iver’ the rise and whirr of burgeoning Spring; and ‘22, A Million’, a blistering, “crazy energy” Summer record, ‘i,i’ completes the cycle: a fall record; Autumn-colored, ruminative, steeped. The autumn of Bon Iver is a celebration of self acceptance and gratitude, bolstered by community and delivering the bounty of an infinite American music.
The sales and accolades are well-known – multiple Gold albums, multiple Grammys, chart-topping collaborations and festival headlines. But even more significantly, with each release Bon Iver quietly shifts the state of modern music. From the boundaries of folk, to the rules of autotune, to production work for others, Bon Iver’s fingerprint finds its way across the mainstream every time. Vernon has always been a master collaborator, and on ‘i,i’ that desire becomes maximal, with guests ranging from Moses Sumney and Bruce Hornsby to Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Here, the music — and band, and themes, and creative space — are bigger than ever."
This set contains the long out of print albums, “Sugar Fish Drink” and “Large Ladies With Cake in the Oven”. Both discs are remastered by Andrew Liles.
"You will never hear these better.“Sugar Fish Drink”: “Cod Surrealism A distinctly wet aberration on paranoid aesthetics occasionally coordinated by John Balance and Steven Stapleton”
Kaoru Tashiro plays previously unpublished piano pieces by John Cage student Toshi Ichiyanaghi and Xenakis student Claude Ledoux
“Toshi Ichiyanagi was born in Kobe, Japan, in 1933. He studied composition under Tomojiro Ikenouchi, and John Cage. While studying at the Julliard School of Music in New York from 1954 to 1957, he was awarded the Elizabeth A. Coolidge Prize (1955), the Serge Koussevitzky Prize (1956), and the Alexander Gretchaninov Prize (1957). Invited by the Festival of Institute of Twentieth Century Music, he returned to Japan in 1961 and held concerts and introductions both to his own music and the new music of Japan, Europe and the United States, stimulating activitity in a variety of fields. From 1966 to 67, engaged by the Rockefeller Foundation, he returned to the U. S. and held recitals of his works all over the country. In 1976 he was engaged by Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) as Composer-in-Residence for the city of Berlin, where he resided for six months. At music festivals all over Europe he held concerts to introduce his own works or the works of other Japanese composers. He visited Europe repeatedly after that, receiving commissions from the European Pro Musica Nova Festival (1976), Metamusik Festival (1978), Cologne Festival of Contemporary Music (1978, 1981), Holland Festival (1979), Berliner Festwochen (1981), etc."
Reissue of Goldie’s dud 2nd album, augmented with a bonus disc of remixes by Martyn, Grooverider, Optical, Gremlinz & Jesta, and Djrum that are worth a peep
We’re not going to waste time adding to the critical bricks lobbed at this album, but we will give a run thru the bonus CD of remixes and rare cuts. From the D&B nu skool, Gremlinz & Jesta work a tuff update of tech-stepper ‘Demonz’, and Martyn teases out the same track in a killer, signature 2-step woodblock style.
‘Crystal Clear’ provides contrasting results ranging from former Need For Mirrors producer HLZ’s smooth liquid rolige to a crafty transition of slow/fast, viscous soul to paso doble rushes by Djrum, and Optical revamps ‘Temper Temper’ with gnashing hardstep pressure, unfortunately keeping the vocal though. There’s also a 13 minute ‘Strings’ version of ‘the 70 minute+ ‘Mother’ 2nd disc off the original release.
The Kronos Quartet’s long-in-the-making recital of Terry Riley’s ’Sun Rings’ - a piece inspired by his peyote-induced vision of a Mandala in the stars, and Dr. Donald Gurnett’s plasma receiver recordings for NASA - finally made available for armchair astronauts
“The ten “spacescapes” that comprise Sun Rings were begun in August of 2001 and finished in July of 2002. They were written as separate musical atmospheres with the intention to let the sounds of space influence the string quartet writing and then to let there be an interplay between live “string” and recorded “space” sound.
In some movements, the intention was to place the quartet in such a way that it felt like they were traveling through spatial atmospheres, as a symbolic representation of the wanderings of space probes Voyager and Galileo as they moved through what must have been the incredible atmospheres of our solar system. In some cases, fragments of melody that I observed in these sounds became the basis for themes that were developed in the quartet writing. The addition of the two movements with the choirs was to further emphasize that this work is largely about humans as they reach out from earth to gain an awareness of their solar system neighborhood.
When Dr. Donald Gurnett handed me these original NASA recordings, which were to be the point of departure for this challenging adventure, my thoughts became filled with images stimulated by locales as distant as Jupiter and Uranus. I could almost feel myself propelled through space as one atmosphere gave way to another.
Space is surely the realm of dreams and imagination and a fertile feeding ground for poets and musicians. Ancient astrologers were aware of the significant influences of planetary movements on our lives. I feel these influences are somehow responsible for this amazing collaboration which has been so enthusiastically undertaken by all the participants responsible for its outcome.
Do the stars welcome us into their realms? I think so or we would not have made it this far. Do they wish us to come in peace? I am sure of it. If only we let the stars mirror back to us the big picture of the universe and the tiny precious speck of it we inhabit that we call Earth, maybe we will be given the humility and insight to love and appreciate all life and living forms wherever our journeys take us.
I dedicate Sun Rings to Dr. Donald Gurnett, whose brilliant mind has wandered the solar system and beyond for a lifetime, who inspired and launched all of us Sun Rings collaborators with his twinkle and the depth of his understanding, and who generously shared with us some of the Universe’s secrets.
Terry Riley, August 2002”
Sarah Davachi’s ‘Pale Bloom’ sees the preternaturally gifted composer return to her first instrument, the piano, with ineffably graceful results that incorporate vocals to spine-chilling effect.
Served in the wake of a series of albums where Sarah tested her improv mettle on everything from pipe and reed organs to analog synths - garnering a cult following in the process - her first album of 2019 confirms a versatile and bountifully prolific artist at work.
Recorded at the famed Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA, the first side is a three part suite ‘Perfumes I-III’, with the title a perfect allegory for the way her music diffuses and intoxicates with the quality of warm skin radiating gentle energy. She spends the first part coaxing keys into solemn figures and willowing overtones, seemingly in duet with her parallel, ghostly self or perhaps the spirit of Bach, setting the scene for one of most quietly devastating vocal appearances in recent memory when her (?) rich countertenor appears from nowhere in part II, channelling a richness and dreamy strangeness that transcends early choral music, torchlit blues-jazz and the kind of apparitions conjured by Akira Rabelais. The final part III of pealing drones and ultra sparse keys feels like a cats cradle to rest your head and reflect on the exquisite beauty of what just happened.
The B-side’s 21 minute piece ‘If It Pleased Me To Appear To You Wrapped In This Drapery’ provides a fine contrast and counterpoint to the sublime nature of the A-side. Here Sarah uses slowly descending and softly vibrating string pitches to conjure a more visceral, even dissonant sound that achieves something like the keening wow and flutter of a detuned analogue synth, gripping our attention like a master narrator regaling the saddest story of their life.
Don’t hesitate with this one. An essential for late night romanticists.
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.
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.
Excoriating blasts of cyberpunk noise from Chicago’s HIDE. Wretched and pointedly politicised bile coughed up from the gut via well-honed industrial instincts. This sh*t stinks in the best way. Big RIYL TG, Pharmakon, Rabit, Croww, Prison Religion
“HIDE's second full length album Hell is Here on Dais sees the band's evolution pushed even further. The tone is sick and heavy. Using their previously established blueprint of complex drum programming, stomach churning sub bass and aggressive expressive vocals, Gabel and Sher poke and prod at the perception of musical context, and remind the listener that feelings of anxiety, pain, and discomfort are equally as important as those of resolution. Perhaps the strongest tool utilized here is the material’s dichotomy between the abrasive and the sterile. Beneath the crushing noisy exterior, sparks the familiar human voice. Divorced from their caustic counterparts Gabel’s vocals play a decisive role in cementing narrative for the material’s uncompromising assault on the senses.
Opening track “Chainsaw” immediately lays the groundwork for the excursion to come. Twisted, cold, and dry repetition soundtracks a one sided catcalling verbal assault. The theme of objectification carries through to the following track “999” with the use of a well placed vocal sample that declares “...when you depersonalize another person... it seems to make it easier to do things you shouldn’t do.”. This sentiment is expertly echoed throughout the rest of Hell Is Here and attempts to forcefully remind the listener of humanity’s absurd and animalistic nature. Nearing the end of the punishing trek we find“Pain”, which is arguably the record’s most formidable use of space. The call and response nature of both the harsh percussive elements paired with the impending vocals effectively induces a deafening anxiety that’s rivaled only by the lyrical content of Gabel’s shrieking voice.
"SSSD" (which stands for Self Self Self Destruct) calls for total destruction of the ego via empathy. Here Gabel instructs the listener "Become nothing, you can feel everything, become nothing, you can be anything" in an effort to destroy the societal constructs that dictate the way we view ourselves and interact with others/the earth. "Raw Dream" closes out the album with driving focus and a determination to calmly but not quietly move forward despite feeling beat down and powerless, as a response to it even. "Raw Dream" is an anthem for the disenfranchised's rising up, a long overdue and joyous recalibration of an imbalance of power.”
Enchanting, gorgeous works for solo piano, strings, organ and Eastern percussion by preeminent composer Leo Svirsky. Seeming to unravel and weave simultaneously in mid-air, ‘River Without Banks’ is a significant new opus that taps into a rich vein somewhere between Charlemagne Palestine’s sustained ecstasies, the phasing pulses of Steve Reich, and the beatific glory of Alice Coltrane...
““How to begin? No beginning... never ending reverberation,” Antoine Beuger writes in the accompanying notes to Leo Svirsky’s River Without Banks. Dedicated to his first piano teacher Irena Orlov, River Without Banks is a mesmerizing, emotional collection of pieces that are simultaneously complex and fluid. The title River Without Banks comes from a chapter of musicologist Genrikh “Henry” Orlov’s profound work Tree of Music. In said chapter, Orlov traces the history of sacred music from the Western and Eastern tradition and how the forms (of the chant, raga etc.) sought to eliminate the division between the physical and the spiritual--the bank and the river.
Arranged for two pianos with accompaniment from strings, trumpet, and electronics, this is Svirsky’s first piece to approach the history of the piano and the possibilities of the recording studio, and his deepest dive yet into exploring the instability of listening and its transformation of musical semantics and affect. Like Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas project, Svirsky overlays romantic musical gestures to create a lush unfamiliarity. No sooner than each track begins the next moment unfurls beneath it, cascading time and blurring perception of past and present.
Akin to a multidimensional Rzewski thematic interpretation, Svirsky’s music defies genre-classification or classical ideology while its virtuosity clearly stems from somewhere from within disciplined traditions. Continuously revisiting, revising, and renewing its emotional core, River Without Banks is less an album of songs than songs of a singular, unlocatable album. Performed by the composer with assistance from Britton Powell, Max Eilbacher, Leila Bordreuil, Tim Byrnes, and recorded by Al Carlson.”