New album from Valentina Magaletti & co's Vanishing Twin - ‘Ookii Gekkou’ (Japanese for Big Moonlight).
"Vanishing Twin explore new ground on ‘Ookii Gekkou’ incorporating elements of afrofunk, outer jazz and avant-garde, all while referencing Sun Ra to Alice Coltrane, Martin Denny to Morricone, Can’s Holger Czukay to meditative Gamelan, or The Free Design, to library music of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Locked into their strangely-accessible groove is a history of ‘other’ sound, a crafted hauntology that evinces something completely new.
Hurricanes, organisms, vibes, bells, and percussive rallies purvey throughout ‘Ookii Gekkou’, each infiltrated with influences as diverse as Piero Umiliani, Art Ensemble of Chicago and ELO among others. Indeed, even a cursory earful adds to an ever-expanding palette of sound, no mean feat for the newly-trimmed quartet of songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist Cathy Lucas, drummer Valentina Magaletti, bassist Susumu Mukai, and synth/guitar player Phil MFU, this reduction resulting in no fewer ideas and even bigger steps."
Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine release a collaborative album, A Beginner’s Mind.
"A Beginner’s Mind began when the two musicians and Asthmatic Kitty labelmates decamped to a friend’s cabin in upstate New York for a monthlong songwriting sabbatical. Watching a movie to unwind after each day’s work, they soon found their songs reflecting the films and began investigating this connection in earnest.
The resulting album is 14 songs (loosely) based on (mostly) popular films—highbrow, lowbrow and everything in between. They wrote in tandem—one person writing a verse, the other a chorus, churning out chord progressions and lyrics willy-nilly, often finishing each other’s sentences in the process. Rigorous editing and rewriting ensued. The results are less a “cinematic exegesis” and more a “rambling philosophical inquiry” that allows the songs to free-associate at will. Plot-points, scene summaries, and leading characters are often displaced by esoteric interpolations that ask the bigger question: what does it mean to be human in a broken world?
Stevens and De Augustine wrote everything with a deliberate sense of shoshin—the Zen Buddhist concept for which the record is named and an idea that empowered the pair to look for and write about unlikely inspiration without preconceived notions of what a film had to say (The I-Ching and Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies also served as incentives along the way). The movies became rhetorical prompts, with the songwriters letting their distinct reactions and creative instincts govern their process. The underlying objective was empathy and openness, absent of judgment: to observe with the eyes of a child."
Bruno Bavota returns with a new album of electronic explorations and solo acoustic piano works.
"In the early months of 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak ravaged his home country of Italy, prolific composer Bruno Bavota did what we all would eventually do: isolated and waited. What followed was a year of fear, anxiety, and dread. Eventually, fear gave way to fatigue, and the anxiety metamorphosized into nervous energy. The compulsion to create became more powerful than the compression and weight.
And so were born Apartment Songs and Apartment Loops. Representing two separate but intersecting paths of Bavota’s creative journey, Apartment Songs is a suite of sparse solo acoustic piano works, while Apartment Loops are expansive explorations for synthesizers and outboard effects processors. Though in theory the two sets should sound disconnected and unrelated – given their disparate creative approaches and instrumentation – it’s Bavota’s uncanny sense of melody and space that easily unites them as two halves of a singular vision."
Ghostly debut from Portland, Oregon-based musician Graham Jonson.
"A student of the Stones Throw catalog (his favorite is Madlib’s Quasimoto), Jonson remains rhythm-driven at heart, trusting his instincts in this new palette of organic instrumentation and verse-chorus structure. Tracks glide and bump with tasteful care to tempo as his scene-building and storytelling knack comes into focus. Jonson’s past material often suited passive listenership, the kind of bedroom-produced beat music that offers secondary utility and function as a companion to primary activities. The Long and Short of It showcases an evolutionary step into a style that uses chops cultivated in that niche that demand a more active listenership. That attention is rewarded with earworms, dazzling production flare, and earnest, genre-spanning songwriting."
Moor Mother, Rabih Beaini, Tim Hecker, Lucretia Dalt, Greg Fox and many more guest on a haunting tribute to the tragedies that have beset Beirut, Lebanon and are ongoing across Palestine and the Levant.
‘Qalaq’ translates roughly from Arabic to “deep worry” in english and signifies Jerusalem In My Heart’s motives on their first album since 2018. Flocking around sole member Radwan Moumneh, a stellar roll call aid in expressing his sound on a lamenting elegy to the geopolitics and tragedies of the middle east, with each artist’s style seamlessly absorbed into his “dismantled orchestra” of collaborations with coherent results guided by a narrative hand.
The album started as skeletal sketches through-composed by Moumneh, and subsequently divided into sections that were sent to his spars, whose decomposed, fractured iterations were rewoven back into the final body of work by the artist. Its first half is sparked off with the rupturous battery of Liturgy drummer Greg Fox, and tempered by JIMH’s haunting chorales and fine wrought buzuk that percolate across the side, meeting Beirut’s shimmering strings in ‘Istashraktak’, and harmonising with Lucretia Dalt on the dirge-like ‘Tanto’.
Side two’s tracks are all named ‘Qalaq’ and numbered to “represent the degrees of layered and complex violence that Lebanon and the Levant have reached in the last couple of years” as Moumneh states. They forge links with other displaced people via indigenous American signer Alanis Obomsawin on the folk lament ‘Qalaq 1’, and Afro-American jazz-punk poet Moor Mother in ‘Qalaq 3’, with Morphine’s Lebanon-born Rabih Beaini lending a cosmic resonance and gravitas to the buzuk study ‘Qalaq 4’, and Tim Hecker’s aetheric swirl found on ‘Qalaq 7’, before Beirut natives Raed Yassin, Sharif Sehnaoui and Mayss’s glitching voices and angular strings connote a clear sense of confusion and disruption.
Beijing duo Gong Gong Gong's genre-melted debut album gets remixed by their fave China-connected producers, including SVBKVLT's Zaliva-D, Yu Su, Howie Lee, Scattered Purgatory, P.E., Angel Wei and more. All over the place, in the best possible way.
On the original album, Gong Gong Gong power through musical genres like Mr. Ben outfits. This remix collection is no different, with each contributor attempting a completely different style. There's Zaliva-D's torched, dystopian club, Howie Lee's electronix-infected Sonic Youth-style noise rock, Yu Su's dubbed-out city pop, Scattered Purgatory's reverberating doom and P.E.'s quirky electro pop and that's only scratching the surface. Beijing is on a tear right now, and some of the world's most exciting sounds are emerging from that fertile meeting-point between global cultures. "Phantom Rhythm 幽靈節奏 Remixed" is an ideal tasting plate.
Legendary master of horror John Carpenter revisits his best-known score on 'Halloween Kills', his first trip back to the franchise since 1982's "Halloween III: Season of the Witch".
Joined by his son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies (son of Dave Davies of the Kinks), Carpenter finally gets a chance to update his sparse 'Halloween' soundtrack. If you've caught any of Carpenter's recent Sacred Bones releases or seen his run of live shows, you'll know what to expect; Davies and Cody have fleshed out his sound without damaging the simplistic brilliance, and that treatment works just as well here.
The DNA of "Halloween" is still present in every cue - from the minimalist five note melody of the main theme to phasing drum machine doom of 'The Myer's House' - and there's not much added except for the occasional jagged guitar fuzz. But there's not much needed; Carpenter didn't need to go overboard here and the cues have been fleshed out without losing their ominous presence. Let's hope "Halloween Kills" director David Gordon Green takes a similar route with the film itself.
Clemens Bacher returns as Cid Rim.
"A psychedelic ride from the Austrian capital, encompassing modern electronics, choral pop and contemporary jazz.
Clemens Bacher's last album, ‘Material’, was awarded BBC 6Music Album Of The Day, achieving as many as four A-list singles. He won a Gilles Peterson Worldwide Award and attended Africa Express with Damon Albarn and Brian Eno. Collaborator to Petite Noir, kmalumkoolkat and Denai Moore, he caught attention with show-stopping mixes for Sky Ferreira, Chvrches and The 1975.
But it is on his own records that we get a sense of Bacher’s scope. Cid Rim grew up the keystone of the vital club scene of Vienna alongside close friends Dorian Concept and The Clonious. For ‘Songs Of Vienna’ he relocated to London and crafted a new formula which reconciles kraut, psychedelia and jazz into detailed electronic pop.
Behind his impressionistic vocals lie themes exploring Vienna’s privileged place in the world: a safe haven for the European project rich with imperial history and culture. It was only here in the early 21st Century that Clemens and his friends could forge this hyper-specific club scene which still refuses category."
Venerable minimalist Éliane Radigue continues her ‘Occam Ocean’ adventures at the threshold of perception on a third volume in collaboration with string trio Julia Eckhardt, Silvia Tarozzi and Deborah Walker
Performed and recorded in September, 2019 at the Abbazia di Santa Maria Assunta, Bologna, Italy, the 3rd volume of ‘Occam Ocean’ features the pioneering French composer’s radical thoughts on time, tone and timbre carefully manifest thru the trio’s fingers and strings in the model of preceding volumes, also for France’s Shiiin label. Incredibly patient in its sustained drones and incremental developments, the results return an experience that really only comes with Radigue’s work, among a few others, holding the ability to generate moments of revelatory epiphany from the subtlest alterations.
Where previous ‘Occam Ocean’ instalments fielded a mix of solo and duo works (Occam Ocean 1) and a broad orchestra (Occam Ocean 2), this one is perhaps most focussed in its triumvirate of works written for solo, duo and trio configurations of Julia Eckhardt (Viola), Silvia Tarozzi (Violin) and Deborah Walker (Violoncello). The first, for Tarozzi and Walker resonates with an intense immanence as the Violin’s icy high register is underlined by glyding lower end Violoncello contours, creating a unique weather system of mid-air dissonance, which makes Walker’s lone performance on ‘Occam VIII’ only appear hauntingly nude by contrast.
When all three players converge at ‘Occam Delta III’ they create a more sublime tension, adhering the composer’s instructions to follow a razor fine line between microtonal frequencies and making the piece’s technical challenges feel effortlessly natural, really honing in on tones that resonate the pharynx and get up in your head quite unlike anything else.
DJ Sprinkles' classic Midtown 120 Blues, self-released by Terre Thaemlitz through their Comatonse imprint and finally available again.
Bringing deep house back into contact with its club culture roots, Terre Thaemlitz created one of the most essential house albums of the last two decades with 'Midtown 120 Blues'. Terre was originally working as a DJ under her Sprinkles alias in the gay clubs of midtown Manhattan and New Jersey in the late 80's when deep house began to blossom. It's this early period of House history which Terre has beautifully recreated over 10 tracks, making a pointed comment with the intro track taking shots at Strictly Rhythm for becoming 'Strictly Vocal' and pulling no punches towards "Most Europeans who think deep house means shitty hi-NRG vocal house".
With the intentions made clear, Terre develops a masterpiece of serene melancholy and sublime deep house crafted with the skill and dedication of someone who you know lived this music through every fibre of their being. From the rich subbass driven tones of 'Midtown 120 Blues' with plaintive pianos slowly encircling one another, to drag queen monologues over the deepest ambient brushed rhythms on 'Ball'r (Madonna-Free Zone)' or head-meltingly warm chords and caressed percussion of 'Brenda's $20 dilemna' - this will suck in and swallow you whole - transporting you to another place, another time.
A total pleasure.
please remember that we support Terre and Comatonse Recordings' efforts to keep projects offline, minor, and acting queerly. When purchasing this item, we ask you to refrain from uploading and indiscriminate sharing in any form. <3
Another Timbre finally realise their long-held ambition of putting together new recordings of John Cage’s Number Pieces, here performed by Apartment House who shine a light on Cage’s late period “reconciliation with harmony” on a staggering set of recordings that span over 5 hours in length and which will likely upend everything you thought you knew about the late, great composer's legacy. In other words; it’s a highly immersive, quiet and meditative entry-point to his vast catalogue that comes very highly recommended to old guard and complete newcomers alike - a mind/soul expanding session awaits you.
The Number Pieces were written by Cage during the final five years of his life, 1987-1992, and are widely regarded the most broadly appealing of his vast oeuvre - despite few of them having been performed over the past couple of decades. The starting point for the pieces is typical of Cage’s chance procedures - they don’t have a set time signature, bar lines or a conductor, and the musicians performing can decide when and how loud or soft to play each note, making each and every performance of a number piece unique. As the recordings took place during lockdown between August 2020 and May 2021, many of the individual parts were recorded separately and edited in in post-production, presenting a far from ideal, yet intriguing additional dimension to these performances.
Titled for the number of players (i.e. Five) and their position in the series of compositions (i.e. Five²), each piece accords to a score composed using Cage’s time bracket technique; short fragments which indicate performers play what is often just a single note, and for a mix of fixed and flexible durations. Some were composed for non-Western instruments, but this set focusses on works for traditional instruments, deploying a range from Accordion to Xylophone in myriad configurations.
The set is broadly centred around variations to one of Cage’s earliest number pieces ‘Five’, variations of which account for half of the set, and range from relatively succinct, gorgeous interpretations to a 40 minute rendering of its trombone and string quartet version ‘Five³’. Most striking to us, however, is the remarkably cavernous, abstract space explored in their take on ‘Fourteen’ and also ‘Seven²’, both demanding percussionists use “any very resonant instruments”, while the brief, Gamelan-esque ’Six’ also points to Cage’s fascinations with Far eastern traditions. The hour long ‘Eight’ for wind is also striking for the way Apartment House slowly comprehend its complexities (more than 80 time brackets per part) across its considerable arcing breath.
In effect, the Number Pieces reveal Cage’s return to ideas of harmony after ostensibly finding ways around it ever since his studies under serialist Arnold Schoenberg in the ‘30s. They are perhaps the most beautifully ponderous manifestation of his work with chance operations, or use of the I-Ching as compositional tool, and the soundest reflection of his notion that a harmony exists in everything, if one’s to acknowledge the possibilities that lie beyond the restrictions of classical convention - the rest of the world, the un/known cosmos, and everything between. For the Cage curious and acolytes alike, Apartment House and Another Timbre have here managed to frame Cage in an unexpected light, presenting us with an unmissable entry portal to his most rarified realisation of cosmic chaos.
Hungarian mystic Hortobágyi graces avant classical titan ECM in trio with his Hortogonals, György Kurtág Jr. and Miklós Lengyelfi for an exquisite elision of deep space and spectralist musicks with remarkable runs into dub techno, for all intents and purposes like some stray ~scape or MVO Trio wonder
Originally issued beyond our peripheral vision in 2009, the trio’s only release to date plugs a hole in our collections that we didn’t even realise existed until recently. Their ‘Kurtágonals’ form a lattice like bridge between disciplines and worlds, discretely weaving formerly exclusive bedfellows into a richly imaginative soundsphere fizzing with influence from Romanian spectralist traditions and Hortobágyi’s worldly research of alternate tunings and modes, as much as the deepest German dub techno abstractions. It’s a totally unexpected but entirely welcome direction of exploration to our ears, seemingly manifesting an idea that we’d wager many of us have longed for, but never heard executed quite so well.
‘Kurtágonals’ is released by Manfred Eicher’s legendary ECM label, highly regarded for their production values, and as such patently benefits from an opulent sound staging, with Hortobágyi assisted in the August 2008 recording and engineering by Ferenc Haász at the Guo Manor, Budapest. Between them they conjure an unfathomably wide and vertiginous soundfield strafed by acéphalic chorales and sliding electronic pitches, and arced with resonant string harmonics, but really given depth by its ultra subtle layers of distant dub chords and padded subbass ballast, both of which we never really expected to hear on an ECM recording, and especially in this sort of seamless, playthru arrangement resembling a dream mixtape.
We could offer any number of add n to x allegories for this sound, but they’d all fall short of the stylistically transcendent end product. It’s simply extraordinary stuff that needs to experienced in highest possible fidelity and with good speakers to reveal its spellbinding nuance.
Trunk celebrates 25 years of uniquely British eccentricity with this wyrd and wonderful set of unreleased gems and better-known catalog classics. Newly discovered sounds from Basil Kirchin's tape archive and - oh yeah - an unreleased cut from Delia Derbyshire make this one indispensable.
This sprawling 33-track compilation highlights the imprint's idiosyncratic accent; it's unmistakably British - snippets from Dudley Simpson's unforgettable "The Tomorrow People" soundtrack and Marc Wilkinson's "Blood On Satan's Claw" OST assure us of that - but zeroes in on the dusty jumble sale quirkiness that's slowly been lost to time.
Nothing makes that more clear than the overdubbed sleaze funk of 'Car Boot Sex Tape' or the vibe-led 'Sunbeam' from Kenny Graham And His Satellites. And since it's a celebration of all things Trunk, there are some surprises in store: a short synth jam from Delia Derbyshire, snipped from a Madelon Hooykaas/Elsa Stansfield film; and freshly sourced sounds from Basil Kirchin's tape archive. Other standout moments are more familiar: John Cameron's title music from "Kes", Tristram Cary's shuffling synth nursery rhyme 'The Electron's Tale' and John Baker's psychedelic 'JB Dubs'.
For his Shelter Press debut, Thomas Bonvalet aka L'ocelle Mare presents an album that’s considerably more than the sum of its conceptual parts, constructing "anti-compositions" that are - on the face of it - utilitarian rotations through an array of instruments, with a tracklisting that reads like nothing more than a basic gear list. Through some sort of alchemy, the recordings transform into a poetic body of work, an engrossing sleight of hand that lands somewhere between Pierre Bastien’s mechanical installations and the oblique mysticism of sacred music, buried between the notes.
Since his 2006 debut under the L'Ocelle Mare moniker, Bonvalet has gradually moved away from traditional notions of composition and diverted his attention purely to the textural and timbral quality of sound. His tenure playing guitar in various bands - notably Cheval De Frise and Powerdove - provides the experience needed to isolate his instruments, zeroing-in on the gestures of performance - plucks, strums, vibrations - using them to assemble component parts that are essentially free by design.
Flute, piano, strings and various percussive instruments collide with all manner of effects and assorted sound objects like a telephone, metronome - even masking tape, each recorded and assembled through a no-method process that rejects traditional notions of composition. But while the assembly is for all intents and purposes dispassionate - just take a look at the track names - the resulting recordings are a marvel, gradually building into individual mood pieces that betray a buried instinct for harmony.
Take 'Guitare Classique, Métronome, Tambourins…’ as an example - Spanish guitar, pitch bent, a frenzied metronome, an arpeggio, something rattles - a non-linear, complex rendition, a miracle of sound that lands like the most inspirational film music you’ll have heard in years. Or on 'Piano, Banjo, Orgue, Métronome' - a more angular, interesting take on the sort of thing Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto have tried over a number of collaborative albums - a 3 minute recital punctuated by increasingly agitated piano notes, all moving key changes and brittle strings.
Through its curious construction, 'Sans Chemin’ (literally, ‘without path’) feels to highlight the way our instinctive interaction with harmony, beauty, and dissonance can quickly ignite or extinguish heightened feelings without easy explanation. Perhaps all the pieces here were really made without direction - an aimless meander through sound - or maybe there’s something significantly more intricate and complicated at play. Either way, the result is the same; a richly textured and evocative, often startling transition from chaos and into the sublime, mirroring our own complex existential topographies.
Pioneering post-industrialist Asmus Tietchens returns to his Hamburg worksite recordings of 2010 from a more detached, atmospheric perspective for the Universal Exports label ran by Yves De May, Allon Kaye and Roman Hiele
Where the original ‘Abraum’, or “rubble”, recordings on the 2010 release were pure musique concrète that relished the rawness of what he happened upon (a long steel pipe, 80cm wide, gushing with rubble from a worksite), the five pieces on ‘Abraum 2’ render a far more spacious abstraction that resonates with how the original site of recording has come to change over the past decade.
It’s effectively a meditation on the fidelity of memory and the shifting sands of time, executed with the typical lack of sentimentality one might have come to expect from Tietchens work, but nevertheless intriguing for its stony cold sober approach and meticulousness. Fans of isolationist sonics from Thomas Köner to Mika Vainio will surely be in their element among Tietchens’ rich harmonic resonances and haunting spectral convolutions, with only the barest hints of the original works tying it to any one place.
After their ‘Ballads' doozy for Fleetway Tapes, a now-classic mix by Elaine Tierney & Jack Rollo’s DJ duo Time Is Away surfaces on CD with Idle Press, the boutique label run by esteemed Parisian digger DJ Sundae.
Last year, just before pandemic hit, Rollo and Tierney put together an installation in London - a "suggestive municipal environment, activated by sound, to invoke the ghosts of urban improvement." If that sounds impenetrable, don't worry - the long-time NTS residents instead stitch together a typically immersive and inspired collage of found audio, specially made recordings and drones to express their historical urban landscape. Whether you've experienced the installation or not, the mix itself is completely transportive.
Full of portent and weft with visionary transitions, ‘Fable of the Bees’ melts unfathomably romantic, psycho-spiritual jams with a care and intimacy that's an all-too rare commodity. The duo mix sounds with an unsurpassed level of sensitivity for the complexity of collage, yet they manage to achieve it with little to no fireworks; industrial field recordings feed into organ, flute and distant vocals, brief chants and rituals tumble over chamber recordings and cosmic synths, Akira Rabelais' Hildegard von Bingen treatments disintegrate into folk songs that sound as alien as they do familiar. On paper it just shouldn’t work, but as the duo drip left folk and devotional music into electrified ambient, lo-glo club sounds and negative-space jazz minimalism, an ineffably human logic pulls it all together.
You’ll have to go whistle for the tracklist, just let it go and fall into Time Is Away’s endlessly fascinating sound world - always a trip.
Gabber Modus Operandi, Vessel, KMRU, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Caterina Barbieri, Tygapaw and plenty more offer their own interpretations of Lyra Pramuk's exceptional debut "Fountain" on this bumper remix album. Made up of both new compositions and direct remixes.
While Pramuk's meditative and reflective "Fountain" didn't need any additional assistance, this global collaborative effort is a reminder of its sparkling positivity. The Berlin-based auteur has typically opted for a left-field take on the remix album, offering artists the opportunity to create new work from the roots of "Fountain" or simply sink their teeth into a single track.
Kenyan-born KMRU, who's also currently stationed in Berlin, offers an early highlight with a cross-"Fountain" soundscape that glues Pramuk's elegiac vocals to his own tactile synth fizz and organ-esque low-end bump. And while Hudson Mohawke's expectedly beat-focused rework of 'Tendril' is an avoidable mood-breaker, Kara-Lis Coverdale's fresh composition 'Returnless' is long, lavish and unashamedly glorious, following Pramuk's lead with a trail of purple silk.
Caterina Barbieri also impresses, adding her cascading synth to 'Tendril', while Vessel builds new track 'Fountain (ars amatoria)' out of fragments. Ever the overachiever, Eris Drew contributes not one but two new tracks, the psychedelic, ambient 'Sugarcube Revelations' and dusty house banger 'Everything is Beautiful & Alive'. But it's Indonesian party-starters Gabber Modus Operandi who shuttle Pramuk's music into the most unexpected places on 'Kaca Bulan Baru', a disorientating hi-nrg ritual grounded in Pramuk's sprit-rousing screams.
Portland metal duo The Body join forces with sludgy Montreal trio BIG|BRAVE and the result is... Appalachian folk?
'Leaving None but Small Birds' is an unexpected record. It's a chance for both bands to explore their long-time love of folk and blues music, as they challenge the very idea of what it means to make heavy music. It's an intense sound, but is rooted in American tradition, taking its cues from hymns and folk songs that were assembled and compiled by BIG|BRAVE's Robin Wattie. Once these ideas had been parsed, phrases were reworked to center marginalized characters, focusing on despair and empowerment without losing the inherent traditional qualities of the songs.
The origin of heavy metal lies in blues, so looking at that era and beyond feels like an important and rigorous exploration of the craft, and it pays off. And while 'Leaving None but Small Birds' veers away from both bands' regular sound, it's a profoundly moving record that examines the evolution and history of North American music without blindly relying on third hand appropriation. It's ambitious, challenging and affecting.
Kansas City noise rock trio BUMMER release their Thrill Jockey debut, "Dead Horse".
"BUMMER mirror the absurdity of modern life with a balance of dark humor, dejected nihilism and righteous fury. Their music spills out in torrents of skull-crushing riffs, gargantuan bass and caustic howls delivered at breakneck speed with gleeful abandon. Following their split 7” with longtime friends The Body which teased a more focused, lean sound for the group, Dead Horse hones BUMMER’s auditory desolation and scathing gaze to laser-point precision. In eleven short vignettes the trio lay waste to everything in their path, penning a vitriolic overview of life in the American Midwest, a surprising blend of one-star Trip Advisor review and insightful cultural critique."
Danish trio Efterklang return with their sixth album, "Windflowers".
"Every year as spring arrives, a sea of tiny flowers blossom across the Danish forest floor. They’re an explosion of colour, a symbol of hope and change, disappearing as quickly as they arrived and exposing the constant cycle of nature. They are known colloquially as windflowers.
For over twenty years, Efterklang have been pushing the barriers of experimental, electronic, emotional chamber-pop. Announcing their sixth studio album Windflowers, their first for City Slang, the Danish trio of Mads Brauer, Rasmus Stolberg and Casper Clausen continue a creative journey that’s brought them closer together, even as their lives grow apart. Channelling the motifs of hope and change its namesake flora represents, the album sees their many years of collaboration and experimentation distilled into some of their finest and most direct melodic moments to date.
With their ability to bring in guests and session musicians restricted, Efterklang had to challenge their usual creative process and accept their own limitations. Recorded over the course of five trips to residential studio Real Farm on the island of Møn, south of Copenhagen, the genesis of Windflowers was back to basics and became an exercise in putting their vast and dynamic experience to play. The album finds Casper singing in English again, for the most part. It’s rich and intimate, the sound of three friends finding each other at a time when the world around them felt unstable. The record is about existing, alone, together and in nature. It’s about reconnecting, and letting each other grow.
After all their years together, Mads, Casper and Rasmus share the real intimacy of family. Windflowers is proof that connection and community can triumph over adversity, and the result is something truly beautiful."
Timeless, cinematic atmospheres from Belgian bass clarinetist Ben Bertrand, reprising the classic feel of his 2020 side for Stroom with results tipped to fans of Elodie, Blaine L. Reininger, CV & JAB
Trailing in the smoky wake of last year’s ‘Manes’, Bertrand picks up again in airy art house cinema-soundtrack like zones on ‘Dokkaebi’ with five parts that convect the feeling of lofty Brussels apartments and echoic hallways cobwebbed with melancholy melody. It’s a music for luxuriating in contemplation, allowing oneself to be carried away on the glacial contours and vaporous contrails of Bertrand’s bass clarinet, and likewise the exquisitely low-key and lowlit backdrops supplied by Christina Vantzou, Geoffrey Burton, Indré Jurgeleviciuté, and Echo Collective: Margaret Hermant & Neil Leiter, Otto Lindholm.
The first two pieces ideally establish the timelessness of Bertrand’s music with referential nod to c.20th titan Cage’s latter, harmonic works in ‘The Nixe of John Cage’s River’, while ‘O Ignee Spiritus’ more literally uses a Hildegard Von Bingen melody sung to haunting effect, both conveying the scope of his practice. ‘Zeme’ however feels more in a vein of experimental chamber music akin to Christian Vantzou;s work with CV & JAB, and ‘Sora no’ follows the subtle electronic tones to gaze out on a star blanketed canvas, with a barely-there haze of laminal vocal timbres and elliptical clarinet in ‘The Aurae Loops’ glowing at the end and beckoning to repeat the experience.
Anyone nesting their coming autumn listening playlist needs to give this one a whirl.
Spunky wave pops from early ‘80s Germany, portraying the sound of the country’s first proper youth movement via bullets by Andreas Dorau, Conrad Schnitzler, Der Plan, Palais Schaumburg, Xao Seffcheque, Die Partei, Asmus Tietchens, Holger Hiller, Populäre Mechanik ++
Rifled from the considerable cabinet of Bureau B, ‘Eins und Zwei und Drei und Vier’ surveys those artists who bloomed in the fallout of ‘70s punk, spanning what became known as NDW (Neue Deutsche Welle) and paralleling post-punk and No wave movements elsewhere, up to the advent of home computing and the whole house phenomenon. OK, Germany had “krautrock” and kosmiche before this lot, that they could safely call their own music, and differed from both their parent’s music and Anglo-British styles, but that was never really a full on youth movement, to the extent that this stuff became. Bending aspects of punk, funk, and early industrial styles with everything from steel drums and cod-reggae, to dadaist tendencies, the youth of early ‘80s Germany put their own stamp on music with equal measures of spunk and ludicrousness that’s gone on to influence countless others.
If you’re after exemplary highlights, run check for the phet-twitch of Moritz Von Oswald, Thomas Fehlmann, Holger Hiller and co’s Palais Schaumburg zinger ‘Wir bauen eine neue Stadt’ for somethgin of a funky mission statement, and clock Conrad Schnitzler’s vocoder-driven motorik bullet for a bridge between he original kosmiche and techno welts, while Austro-German artist Xao Seffcheque can be relied on for the possessed drive of ‘Sample & Hold’, and Berlin’s Populäre Mechanik trade in killer, brittle funk on ‘Muster’, and the pop-punk spirit is kicking on gems from Die Radierer and the prince of NDW, Andreas Dorau.
Steven Raekwon Reynolds is a singer/songwriter and producer from New York City by way of Buffalo, NY. 'Where I’m At Now' is self-produced and self-recorded (save for drums on two songs, driven by the relentlessness of the East Village and the quiet serenity of Edwardsville.
"The abstractions of his earlier musings transform into a warm wave of genreless coherence, drawing influences from across R&B, rock, folk, and pop to build a record that shines in its quiet spaces as much as its sweeping movements. Simply put, Where I’m at Now is an album where S. Raekwon is no longer invested in hiding. These records don’t contain answers, but signals toward what feels like the right direction. This music serves as a gentle, yet intentional reminder that we only need to be who we are in the moment, and we’re worth becoming who we know we can be."
BADBADNOTGOOD return with their new album, "Talk Memory", a psychedelic jazz record that explores balance and harmony through musical improvisation.
"Collaborators include legendary composer Arthur Verocai and contemporary icons such as Terrace Martin, Karriem Riggins and Laraaji."
Piero Umiliani (as M. Zalla)'s 1972 album, "Africa".
"Piero Umiliani's Africa was released in January 1972, a years-ahead record that includes the prog-tinged black rhythm of "Africa To-Day", the 'fourth world' inspiration coming from Jon Hassell's "Green Dawn", the 'exotic' references in Martin Denny's style ("Lonely Village", "Echos"), the electronic new wave (hearing is believing!) of "Sortilège", the folk music ("Rite", "Folk-Tune"). An incredible album summarizes sounds and styles that will make the fortune of much more celebrated and popular musicians and artists."
Piero Umiliani's 1975 album Continente Nero.
""Continente Nero" is the perfect flip side of "Africa" (1972), an album that significantly expanded Piero Umiliani's music perspectives, incorporating partially explored rhythmic variations already used in "Percussioni ed Effetti Speciali" and "To-Day's Sound". It does so by taking inspiration from a tradition that starts from the divine Fela Kuti and reaches the amateur and field recordings by musicologists such as David Toop, but also from the Afro- American jazz history of Art Ensemble of Chicago, John Coltrane, Max Roach and hundreds of others."
New music specialists Apartment House render the tremulous glory and ceaseless drive of Eastman’s 1974 classic on their captivating 2019 recording
Following Frozen Reeds’ 2016 release of S.E.M. Ensemble’s 1974 take, and preceding the more recent iteration by Belgium’s ensemble 0 & Aum Grand Ensemble; Apartment House’s ‘Femenine’ is one of the first modern performances and recordings of the seminal, but long overlooked slice of c.20th avant-classical genius. It lands in the wake of Mary Jane Leach’s concerted and longstanding work in tending to Eastman’s legacy, holding some of the most remarkable classical compositions of its epoch, which has necessarily renewed interest in Eastman's sorely overlooked, yet hugely distinctive, work.
As a gay, black composer in a field dominated by white men, Julius Eastman shattered conventions merely by his presence, and his music was daring and distinctive, offering a more fluidly unified and singularly thizzing adjunct to the kind of repetitious minimalism explored by downtown NYC composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Eastman was just as adept at working with Arthur Russell on Dinosaur L’s landmark ‘24→24 Music’ and ‘Another Thought’ set as he was working on Peter Maxwell Davies’ monodrama ‘Eight Songs for a Mad King’ or Meredith Monk’s ‘Dolmen Music’ - all revered in their sphere - yet his own, remarkable compositions went practically unnoticed for decades and he ultimately ended up destitute and unsng, living on the streets of Buffalo, New York State.
Only in recent years has ’Femenine’ become recognised for the towering piece of work that it is, and this recording by Anton Lukoszevieze’s Apartment House helps spread the good word. It renders the full piece in all its colourful majesty, driven by insistent sleigh bell percussion and coursing with the purpose of a great river from streams of cello, flute, keys, vibraphone and violin that entwine and lushly gather with a ravishing torrent of ecstasy by the end of its 67’ flow. In effect it does away with notions of beginning/middle/end in a more cyclical, endless form and style that takes on Reich’s African inspirations at a more fundamental level, yet hasn’t been afforded the same sort of critical ear until only relatively recently. Trust Apartment House to handle the material faithfully and with the hypnotic traction we imagine Eastman intended.
Official reissue of Ryo Fukui’s only solo piano album, recorded in 1994.
"Sourced from the original masters, this intimate offering from the Japanese jazz legend is available on limited edition 180 gram vinyl mastered at half speed for full audiophile sound, as well as on digipack CD. Both formats come with liner notes by Yusuke Ogawa.
Originally released on CD only by Sapporo Jazz Create in 1994, My Favorite Tune is a beautiful bop adventure which includes two superb compositions that Ryo Fukui wrote as an homage to his belo-ved Hokkaido region, the fan-favorite “Nord” and “Voyage”, a tribute to his mentor Barry Harris ("No-body’s"), alternate versions of his mega classics “Scenery” and “Mellow Dream”, and, last but not least, bewitching takes on timeless gems by Sonny Clark and Avery Parrish.
My Favorite Tune plays like a cool summer night, full of contemplative notes and deep feelings, with Ryo Fukui baring his heart on the piano and displaying the soulful sophistication he is loved for. A true masterpiece completing his amazing discography."
Tirzah's second album is a fuzz'd-aut, narcotic dreamscape, all screwed trip-pop soulfulness and buzzing, chaotic layers of harmonic noize and hazy ambience. An even slower burn than her cult debut, "Colourgrade" is subtly surprising and calmly mindblowing - co-produced again with Mica Levi and Coby Sey plus an additional stealth production job from Kwake Bass & Dean Blunt. Yeah, Next level.
There's something about the way "Colourgrade" was recorded that makes each song sound like a memory, or a blast of familiar warmth from another room. But Tirzah hasn't doused her "Devotion" follow-up in cheap nostalgia or genre signalling. She uses memory as a creative tool, to sketch the outlines of songs and emotions in charcoal before she inks her evolving narrative. This time the songs are broadly structured around motherhood, being written after the birth of her first child and right before the arrival of her second. In her own words, they detail the process of "recovery, gratitude and new beginnings."
Since "Devotion" was released in 2018, we've witnessed a resurgence of interest in lo-glo trip-hop flutter, and since lockdown the home listening mood has been amplified. But Tirzah smartly swerves this obvious route, retaining the soulful downtempo loveliness of her debut but pepping it up with dissociated abstraction, pensive glaciality and smoove, slippery romanticism. In contemplating motherhood and the bond between parent and child, she creates musical swaddling that feels soothing but doesn't resort to cheap thrills.
The title track cracks open the record with timestretched words and rubbery synths melted over brassy bass sounds in arhythmic cacophony. Whistles take over completely and the expected beat never arrives; it's like a soulful acapella injected into a mercifully short psychedelic voyage. Advance single 'Tectonic' offers us the decelerated groove we may have been expecting, with icey cold vocals over downsampled funk that's half '96 Tricky and half '21 Taz & Meeks.
At its best, "Colourgrade" is unsettlingly simple. On its surface the Dean Blunt co-produced 'Recipe' is a stark vocal over a squashed half-speed beat, but repeat listens tear the seal off the tub, letting the prismatic warmth of complex emotionality haze into the atmosphere - it's just so good. The album's longest piece, 'Crepuscular Rays' is also its most uncompromisingly strange, with Tirzah's disembodied, mutated voice dripping like strawberry syrup over creamy phased waves of strummed electric guitar.
One of the most satisfying and consistently surprising records we've heard in 2021 so far, "Colourgrade" feels as sentient and unpredictable as the new lives that inspired it. It's gonna keep on growing.
The third LP from San Francisco's Cindy, "1:2".
"Cindy is a band built around the singing and guitar playing of Karina Gill. She became a musician only recently, having sat on the sidelines while ex-partners and friends made their stabs at it. Gill describes a chance encounter with an abandoned Squire Strat left in the basement by a previous tenant, “mummified in electrical tape with the remnants of a burrito on the head stock”, that led her to begin carefully strumming her way through simple chords and making her own songs. After one interesting self-released LP, still finding their footing, the band made the masterful and buzzed-about Free Advice, which went from a limited cassette on local SF label Paisley Shirt to vinyl pressings on Tough Love (UK) and Mt St Mtn (USA).
Cindy’s third LP arrives in quick succession, the quietly devastating 1:2. Jesse Jackson on bass, Simon Phillips on drums and Aaron Diko on keyboards weave the perfectly thin web behind Gill’s slow Velvety strums and murmured melodies. The rhythm section brings the crude flow, while the keys add subtle and surreal counterpoint to the withering world Gill depicts in her lyrics. “Songs tie together seemingly disparate things by the logic of mood,” Gill tries to explain. This isn’t dream-pop sunshine bliss; half-closed black drapes hang on the window where the narrator stares into the middle distance. “Sometimes you say you’re feeling small/You plan all day for your own funeral”, she intones in Party Store. Gill has a way of halting her phrasing that makes it feel like her thoughts are gently tumbling into the abyss. It’s this unsettling quality mixed with the hazy atmosphere that makes Cindy’s new LP 100% addicting and the perfect antidote to comfort listening."
Neo-modernist Mark Fisher acolyte Lee Gamble finally polishes off his ambitious conceptual triptych with a brace of dusty, pensive re-realizations of wyrd dance, hyperreal ambient and warp'd web 3.0 doomsignalling >> proper gurglers fer dissident ravers inside.
Back in 2019 (which at this point feels like about a decade ago) Lee Gamble began his most ambitious project to date, a three-part album that would weave together the loose threads of his varied and often polar back catalog. The conceptual framework was "semioblitz": “the aggressive onslaught of visual & sonic stimuli of contemporary cities and virtual spaces.”
And while we received two weighty transmissions - "In A Paraventral Scale" and "Exhaust" - the third and final piece of the puzzle never appeared, until now. "Flush Real Pharynx 2019-2021" compiles those acclaimed first parts and adds an ample chunk of new material, bringing Gamble's 4K flicker of scanline drone and inverted post-'nuum rhythmic tweakage bang into the post-COVID-19 reality.
If the first two pieces of the puzzle were relatively hopeful ('n brutally cynical) flashes of our capitalism-warped reality, Gamble's new material feels checker'd by dislocated sadness. Given the project's CCRU-wave roots, this makes some kind of perverted sense, and Gamble's use of mucky haunted piano ('Empty Middle Seat') and machine-grade halfstep ('Newtown Got Folded') anchors the nu material in a pensive half-remembered backtopia.
The glinting, polished shimmer of "In A Paraventral Scale" and "Exhaust" is almost gone now, obscured by endless months of digital dust and mental anguish. Transport has stopped, AI has been subverted, and the MDMA rush is completely solipsistic in isolation: what's a contemporary city exactly when u compare 2019 with 2021? Now Gamble casts his mind into the future and channels cracks of light into a new reality's stifling darkness. Who knows what's next, but we ain't going backwards.
Explosions In The Sky’s first soundtrack since 2014.
"Following nearly two years of global touring in support of their adventurous and acclaimed album, The Wilderness (2016), Explosions In The Sky paused on the future to reflect on the past. Celebrating their 20th year as a band with a pair of remastered reissues of early beloved classics – How Strange, Innocence (2000) and The Rescue (2005) – they embarked on a memorable series of anniversary concerts in 2019. It was around then that Explosions In The Sky was approached to craft the score to a new documentary about a place with which, as native Texans, they were very familiar: Big Bend National Park.
That documentary, Big Bend: The Wild Frontier of Texas, premiered on PBS in the United States as well as on a variety of networks in other countries in early 2021. The hour-long film intimately follows the lives of native animals amid expansive aerial views of the iconic desert landscape that makes up one of the grandest natural wonders in the world. The band set these sights to an inspired, melodic, and meaningful blend of acoustic guitar, slide guitar, strings, piano, bells, and drums that feels as alive and diverse--and vast and lonely--as the place it depicts.
Big Bend (An Original Soundtrack for Public Television) takes that mesmerizing score and recontextualizes it as a standalone album. Those brief cues have been expanded and transformed into a thoughtful, gorgeous full-length album that recalls some of the band’s most magical and memorable moments from their storied history.
Big Bend: The Wild Frontier of Texas is a film that explores the past and present of the vast, complicated landscape that still holds countless mysteries yet to be uncovered. In Big Bend (An Original Soundtrack for Public Television), Explosions In The Sky pursue a similar approach to their own past and present, and find inspiration in all that has yet to be discovered."
3 album set from Robert Curgenven: Bardo (longform), SPECTRES and Bronze Lands (Tailte Cré-Umha).
"The 3 albums that comprise this set all, at their heart, concern air and the attendant inter-permeability and fluidity of volumes. Be they discretionary or open volumes, architectural or spatiotemporal, each volume is subject to the specificities of: their resonance; the concomitant movements of volumes of air; their locational context and adjacent spaces. The 3 albums present different harmonic, gestural and durational possibilities to encourage us to step out of the perceptual frameworks that enclose us.
Each album offers a unique instrumental foundation: experimental turntable techniques interwoven with piano & pipe organ harmonics (Bardo); resonant architectural interventions articulated by custom-made oscillators in post-Communist architectures and their locational context (SPECTRES); extended pipe organ techniques with an accompanying soundsystem that plumbs architectural harmonics and corporeal resonances (Bronze Lands). These works entreat us to think and hear beyond the structures enclosing each instrumental- and performance- approach – the turntable body, the architectural, the pipe organ, the speaker enclosure itself, even the confines of an audience as a gathering – and to also consider these longform works as an inter-related suite of aural and conceptual worlds."
Over the last twenty five years Robin Rimbaud – Scanner has traversed the experimental terrain between sound, space and image, connecting a bewilderingly diverse array of genres – a partial list would include sound design, film scores, computer music, avant garde, contemporary composition, large-scale multimedia performances, product design, architecture, fashion design, rock music and jazz.
"‘Fibolae’ offers up a world that splinters between melancholia and penetrating energy. Combining digital technologies, software and live instrumentation it is both a rhetoric of mourning and a celebration of music to empower. Warm, organic, sensual, passionate and frequently angry, it’s an album that radiates with possibilities.
As to the meaning of the title, ‘Fibolae’? There is none. It was a word that appeared to Scanner in a dream, at a time of great challenges in his life. The fact that his unconscious mind could conjure up such inventions that offer no history and context was appealing and yet it was suggestive, playful and open."
Zbigniew Preisner’s super influential soundtrack to Krzysztof Kieslowski’s 'La Double Vie De Veronique’ available on vinyl once again. No schmaltz/overly produced tug-at-the-hearstrings Netflix nonsense here - 100% real deal brilliance.
At one point in time we had the VHS copy of La Double Vie De Veronique stuck inside an old player and subsequently ended up watching it many many dozen times - so its influence here is no doubt magnified, but nonetheless - what a record. If you’ve not seen the film - go do so at once - but irrespective, this score features some of Preisner’s best work, from the mythological 'Van Den Budenmayer’ choral pieces to the exquisite, dappled solo-piano melancholy of 'Les Marionnettes’ and the austere, mournful energy that seeps through each of the ’Theme’ works.
Cinematographer Slawomir Idziak famously used many different shades of yellow filter to elevate the un-real mood of the film, and it translates perfectly to this score - in our opinion an absolute modern great to file next to work by Goran Bregović for Emir Kusturica, Alberto Iglesias for the films of Julio Medem and Nikos Mamangakis’ sprawling work on the Heimat films.
Livity Sound mark a decade of skin in the game with a comp pulling focus on their roster of rhythmic misfits in 2021.
Originally founded as an outlet for Pev, Kowton, and Asusu’s like-minded soundsystem techno oddities in 2011, the label’s scope has gradually expanded over the intervening decade to embrace an emerging movement of non-standard bassbin operators such as Batu, Hodge, Bruce and Simo Cell via the Reverse label (Dnuos Ytivil), and nowadays stands at a busy intersection of globally related styles loosely termed hard drum, or bass music.
Proc Fiscal does his genre origami with grime, drill, jungle, footwork and vaporous ambient styles in a plush 2nd album for Hyperdub
In pursuit of the mercurial magick previously found on his string of acclaimed, daring 12”s and debut LP ‘Insula’ (2018), he returns with a charmingly effusive new volley of 14 cuts that sparkle with restless, fractious detailing and whirring rhythm mechanics. Like his label mates Lorraine James and Lee Gamble, it’s effectively IDM, as in he can’t help but go to town on his grooves and express a probing “intelligence” or curiosity in the embellishments. The results may be too busy for some straighter club heads, but fizz with ingenuity for others, and surely nobody can argue that he’s not got that classic Scottish feel for funk locked down.
In another time, ‘Siren Spine Sysex’ could have been prime Rephlex material, showing off a devilish mastery of inch-tight drum programming and non-standard electronic tuning in each part as the album cascades and skids between lilting downbeat opener ‘Anti Chesst’ and the salty noise convolutions of ‘Roman Fatigue.’ It finds him filleting drill’s glyding bass and hollow-tipped snares in aerial footwork styles on ‘Convaerge Iana’ and the skittish ‘Met Path Thoth,’ with a crafty cut of R&G vocal thizz in the centrepiece ‘8 Mgapixel See Thru Phone,’ alongside a warped, tangy take on Afrobeats in ‘Thurs Jung Youtz’ and ‘Her In.’ His playful wits are in best effect on ‘The Most Beautiful Irish Song,’ which sounds a bit like Todd Edwards doing a giddy jig, and comes complemented by the Carl Stone-esque levels of glitchy vocal processing on ‘Leith Torn Carnal,’ with the album’s sweetest treats coming in the relatively laid-back but mutant minor key drill swag of ‘Auld Peop.’
Maiden vinyl voyage of Thomas Köner’s seminal dark ambient album inspired by cosmic ephemera, available on wax and digital formats for first time since 1995.
Originally released by Barooni, who also issued Köner’s first trio of solo albums (and Roland Kayn’s titanic ‘Tektra’ boxset), ‘Aubrite’ checks into the German artist’s resoundingly dark, isolationist headspace a few years later for a profound meditation on the void. To be fair, it’s obviously “dark”, but more in a sense of its starkness and lonesome nature, rather than anything overbearingly gothic or cinematic, holding to a canvas of barely-there, near infrasonic inference and suggestion, and with a timeless fascination as evocative as the small achrondite meteorites that fell near Nyons in 1836 and lend it its title.
"Whoever hears the distortion of all sounds, will soon become Ultrablack. Whoever listens to this world, but has no affection for any of its sites, even to the place of Black Noise, may soon reach Ultrablack. Whoever understands the spirit of impartiality through ten thousand million partial tones, hears Ultrablack and can no longer be measured. No measures, no enclosures, no properties are the sign of ultrablack scores." Thomas Köner
Returning from the brink for the first time in 26 years, ‘Aubrite’ still imparts a message that’s best translated by atavistic instinct. Like Roland Kayn’s work, the level of scope and layered depth is just unfathomably cavernous and even on some levels unheimlich amniotic, yielding a series of quietly reverberating and sensational sort of non-musical events that suspend the senses and send its recipient floating thru richly imaginative deepsea, boreal, and cosmic headspace.
Much needed reissue of Porter Ricks’ 1997 follow-up to ‘Biokinetics’, plunging deep in the interzone between ambient, noise, and dub techno across its expanded and reshaped 2021 version
Re-floating an overlooked vessel from their 25 year voyage, ‘Same’ returns to the surface subtly resequenced to change its direction of flow, front-loading its rolling dub techno depths and pushing its mid-late ‘90s smoker-funk hip hop and D&B tracks to the back (to be fair they could have omitted them fully). Dodgy bits aside, what remains is a killer example of Porter Ricks’ patented subaquatic pressure in effect, oscillating waves of skanking and stepping groove with canny turns to funkier house and disco loop styles that acknowledge the era they were launched into.
Anyone smote by Porter Ricks’ preceding run of classics for Chain Reaction and Milel Plateaux will be in their element with this album’s dub techno dynamics, with wickedly offset grooves in the ‘Redundance’ parts at their skudgy best in the discoid grind of ‘Redundancy 3’, darker textural ambient scapes in ‘Redundance (Version)’, and a gorgeous scanner ‘Redundance 5’ surely laying the ground for Convextion’s album tracks. At its deepest point, ‘Scuba Lounge’ exerts 11 mins of menacing pressure, before the residual deep house throb of ‘Spoiled’ comes on like a rave heard from miles across dark sea, and ’Spoil’ cuts the filters to reveal a proper Chi-style disco-house loop in action.
New album by electronica producer Ulrich Schnauss and the Engineers guitarist Mark Peters, 'Destiny Waiving'.
"Hailing from Kiel in North Germany, it's now 20 years since the electronica prodigy Ulrich Schnauss released his debut album. His second, 'A Strangely Isolated Place' cemented his reputation as both a pioneer and an artist who routinely creates inspirational music that is adored by many. As a full time member of Tangerine Dream since 2014, his lifelong passion for their work inspired a creative resurgence for the band, resulting in their most successful new album for over 30 years, 2017's 'Quantum Gate'.
Liverpool born guitarist (and founder of the dream pop outfit Engineers) Mark Peters shared a similar musical path, exploring ambient textures and effect laden songwriting via a series of blissful albums for the band. In 2017 he released his first solo album, 'Innerland' which was enthusiastically received by BBC6 music and later included in Rough Trade's top ten best albums of 2018.
'Destiny Waiving' completes a collaborative trilogy that began with 2011's 'Underrated Silence' and followed by 2013's 'Tomorrow Is Another Day' (Schnauss also became a full time member of Engi-neers at this time). Initial sessions began at Ulrich's East London home studio in early 2017 and final mixes where completed there in late 2020. Despite it's extended conception, most tracks where com-pleted during 2017, in part informed by improvisational sets in London, Dublin and St James' Church in Birmingham (as part of the Seventh Wave electronica festival).
Despite these exercises in exploration, 'Destiny Waiving' is perhaps the most focused and concise collection of all three releases. Ranging in tone from precognitive foreboding to soaring optimism, the album delicately hones a particular atmosphere that is unmistakable in their work."
The Invisible’s lynchpin, Dave Okumu steps out with a suave solo debut album of jazz-sparked hip hop neatly incorporating piano chops by his peer, Duval Timothy and strong nods to J Dilla
After more than a decade of supplying his talents to records by everyone from Amy Winehouse to Ed O’Brien (Radiohead), Tony Allen, Theo Parrish and Jessie Ware (he co-produced/co-wrote her Mercury nominated album, Devotion); Okumu plays it deadly cool and beatdown on his definitive personal statement to date. ‘Knopperz’ wears its influences proudly, with Timothy Duval’s slinky keys, and slompy drums and sirens patently hailing Dilla, but the rest is all him, hustling a hypnotically low-key and smoked out sound slanted to the twilight hours and beyond.
Keeping it fully instrumental and allowing his melodic personality to ooze thru the grooves and moods, the pacing is effortless, luring us in with the balmy bump and lyrical piano turns of phrase in ‘Son of Emmerson’ and coolly accommodating attentions between the groggy jazz-blues of ‘Ballpark’ to the melancholic sign-off ‘Don’t Die’, with his Dilla worship in evidence on the red-eyed nod of ‘Trouble’ and wickedly stumbling drums of ‘RTN.’
"Mark Hawkins has dug deeper on ‘A New Normal’ representing a landscape of electro-funk, body-rocking house, experimental electronica, euphoric pop and reflective chill out all underpinned by his melodic sensibility."
YOUTH host Significant Other’s glum but resilient meditation on love and loss, a broodingly therapeutic debut album that straddles IDM and industrial Ambient signatures, reminding us of work from Bola to Jay Glass Dubs, Spectre to classic late night Rob Hall mixes.
Sharing a different side of his sound to that heard on club-cut 12”s for Spe:c, Oscilla Sound and anno over the past few years, Significant Other here dwells on feelings that “emerged from moments of extreme passion and pain", patching new and archival material to work thru a mental fug of ambient noise laments and crankily dubbed out illbient lines of thought.
The pacing is stygian and the atmosphere near still, betraying a depth of suppressed emotion that he processes over the album’s eight tracks. ‘Demonology’ evokes a hash haze contemplation with its patina of Burial-esque vapours and incidental crackle, and ‘The Future Doesn’t Exist’ taps into a classic vein of screwed NYC downbeats a la Spectre, showing off a killer instinct for crushed hip hop drums also explored on the weighty swang of his ‘Love Beat.’
‘Residuum’ doesn't fall into outright doom, preferring to skirt the event horizon of a black hole and keep the chin bobbing up with the vulnerable yet hopeful tones of ‘Pendant’, also in the Loren Connors-esque midnight peal of ‘Drifting In The Third Person’ and the elegiac closing sequence ‘Perpetual Care’, with its piano and string led coda.
Don Letts selections for Late Night Tales.
"Cultural polymath - pop star, filmmaker, radio broadcaster, commentator, Grammy winner. Oh and DJ, too. Take your pick from the many coats worn by our selector, Don Letts aka The Rebel Dread.
Born in Brixton, a child of the Windrush Generation, Letts’ slippery and unorthodox career is somewhat hard to define, without taking a few detours around London, New York and Jamaica. He began his working life managing the dauntingly hip Acme Attractions on Chelsea’s Kings Road, where he made a mark with his attitude, dress and, especially, the pounding dub reggae that vibrated the shop’s walls. His first gig as a DJ at the short-lived Roxy in Neal Street, became mythical for turning a generation of punks on to reggae. They in turn hipped him to their DIY ethos resulting in his reinvention as a filmmaker. This led to a shed-load of music videos (Linton Kwesi Johnson, The Clash, Bob Marley) not to mention documentaries on the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, George Clinton and Sun Ra.
There’s a diverse mix of classic and new, with legendary figures like John Holt, The Tamlins and Cornell Campbell, mixed in with British veterans Mad Professor and the irrepressible Dennis Bovell, while (relatively) young striplings Kiko Bun, Emily Capell and Prince Fatty deliver the goods, with laidback Texan groovers Khruangbin also offering an exclusive bass heavy-delight.
The song choices are diverse, from French dubsters’ OBF’s renditions of ‘Sixteen Tons’, the miners’ paean popularised by Tennessee Ernie Ford in the 1950s, to Ash Walker’s refix of Omar’s ‘There’s Nothing Like This’ and ‘All I Do Is Think About You’, immortalised by the ill-fated Tammi Terrell and preserved here by Quantic (the latter two both exclusives). Being a Rebel Dread compilation, there’s a cover (by Wrongtom Meets The Rockers) of The Clash’s ‘Lost In The Supermarket’ while Don’s exclusive, naturally, is a rendition of Big Audio Dynamite’s debut hit, ‘E = MC2’.
“Truth be told I’ve wanted to work with the Late Night Tales crew from the get go. We’re talking nearly two decades such was the allure of their musical aesthetic typified by curators like Nightmares on Wax, The Flaming Lips, MGMT, Trentemoller, Khruangbin and countless others. Now being as old as rock n’ roll (born in ‘56) and having nearly 20 years of Culture Clash Radio under my belt I figured I was tooled up to musically juggle with the best of ‘em. But I wanted to carve out a space that was distinctly my own - something that reflected my musical journey and the culture clash that’s made me the man I am today.”"
Steven Ellison's first feature-length anime soundtrack is an endlessly satisfying jeweled box of delights, with Vangelis-esque vintage synth sparkles rubbing up against carbon-blasted trap, dusty tape warped funk and psychedelic electro-jazz.
It makes complete sense that Ellison would end up scoring a project as idiosyncratic and ambitious as LeSean Thomas’ anime show about a lone Black samurai in feudal Japan. The Los Angeles beat scene innovator cut his teeth doing short bumps for edgy US TV animation channel Adult Swim - home of Ellison's beloved "Afro Samurai" - so surely a project like this was always on the cards. And he's knocked it out of the park, blending a lifetime of nerdy musical influences, from the spiritual jazz of his aunt Alice Coltrane and the bouncy early electronic weirdness of Raymond Scott to the neon strip club pulse of Mike Will and the MPC-fried swing of Mobb Deep's Havoc.
There are 26 cues on the extended album, and while the tracks might lack the duration of those on his proper albums, their heart and mood speaks volumes. Ellison sounds completely untethered, like he's finally got the chance to pay tribute to a life spent jamming tunes and watching cartoons. He's in his element, and that gives the project a warmth and honesty that's hard to ignore. Fans of everyone from Adrian Younge and Emeralds to Ricci Rucker and Tangerine Dream should investigate immediately.
Contemporary classical minimalist Jürg Frey transmutes the poetic landscape observations of Gustave Roud (1897-1976) into haunting chamber works for Another Timbre.
Gustave Roud was a poet from the French-speaking part of Frey’s native Switzerland. He studied literature at the University of Lausanne and realised he didn’t want to return to life as a farmer, instead returning to live with his sister in the family’s farmhouse for the rest of his life, mooching in the countryside and mountains, detailing his thoughts in what would become a three volume Collected Works, as well as diaries and critical writings, plus lesser known work as a photographer.
After immersing in Roud’s work, Frey composed this collection in his honour, as he explains: “I first encountered Roud’s work more than 10 years ago, and the impact of his work on my music has been profound. I feel a close relationship to a poet whose mode of operation and sensitivity make a precise resonance in me. It’s a unique poetry that speaks from beginning to end of searching for the essence. I would like to compare his mode of work with that of a painter. Every day he went out, not with an easel, but with his notebook, and he wandered through the landscape as a flaneur, observer, writer, laying the foundations of his work with his notes. For me his work constitutes a kind of ‘field recording’, not with a microphone and sounds, but with his soul and body, recording his environment in the broadest sense. He perceived existential dimensions in the finest nuances of the weather, the landscape and its inhabitants, and made it the basis of his work.”
With quietly gripping results, Frey - and Stefan Thut (cello), Dante Boon (piano), Andrew McIntosh (violin), Regula Konrad (soprano), Stephen Altoft (trumpet), Lee Ferguson (percussion) - sensitively limn the Roud’s work with a painterly play of light and space, and quite literally thru the track titles, with the most enchanting of these bringing it all together, strings, wind, percussion, and transfixing vox based on Roud’s words, in the otherwordly evocation of ‘Farbiose Wolken, Glück, Wind (2009-11).’
Jürg Frey is present in his 7-piece Ensemble Grizzana, performing a suite of more conventional works that go easier on the silences.
The 2015 double album features Frey on clarinet surrounded in various arrangements by Mira Benjamin (violin), Richard Craig (flute), Emma Richards (violin), Philip Thomas (piano), Seth Woods (cello) and Ryoko Akama (electronics), performing 19 works written 2009-2014. Less prone to long, searching silences, as found on Frey’s more radical works, the music is still borderline liminal, but largely held back from ephemerality.
Frey’s clarinet is accompanied by Seth Woods’ sallow cello in the set’s beautiful opener ‘Petit Fragment De Passage’, which becomes a recurring piece performed by various configurations, from the perspectives of Ryoko Akama’s organ and Philip Thomas’ Piano keys, a string duet by Emma Richards (Viola) & Mira Benjamin (Violin), and Richard Craig (Flute) with Emma Richards (Violin) again, each as quiet captivating as the other.
But their strengths lie in the assembled ensemble pieces, which locate a tremulous democracy between their various voices in ‘Fragile Balance’ and the watercolour landscape of ‘Extended Circular Music No.8’, and with remarkably rich effect in the titular seven-part suite. Fans of Philip Thomas’ quietly unmissable ’Morton Feldman Piano’ set for Another Timbre will no doubt be charmed by his solo performance here, ‘Lieues D’ombres’, and in trio with Seth Woods and Frey on the haunting 30’ work ‘Area of Three’, and we’re reminded to the sacred sublime tension of Jakob Ullmann’s quiet music in the mesmerising hush of the ensemble’s ‘Ferne Farben.’
Last seen sparring with Lucy Railton, pianist Kit Downes here duels with composer and pianist Matt Rogers. Evocative, physical music that bridges the gap between improvisation and composition for fans of Keith Jarrett.
'Premonitions of the Unbuilt City' is based on Matt Rogers' opera "She Described it to Death", which was reduced to piano by Christopher Mayo before being arranged and edited by Downes and Rogers. With Downes adding his signature improvisation, the piece took on new life - something that no doubt inspired the change of title. It's a virtuoso performance from both players, who appear to be locked in debate as they trade harmony and texture between two pianos. Anyone into the slickly accomplished ECM catalogue - particularly Keith Jarrett's recordings - would do well to check this one.
Philip Thomas’ spellbinding solo piano performance of ’Circles and Landscapes’ is a result of Jürg Frey’s residency at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF), 2014
As with his masterful renditions of Morton Feldman found in the unmissable 4CD boxset, Thomas’ performance of these six Frey pieces bring the composer’s work to light with requisite precision and care at St. Paul’s Hall, University of Huddersfield, 4th and 5th August 2015.
Oooosh! Deadly Afro-funk from Benin, 1974 sees light of day again with Acid Jazz, to the relief of anyone put off by the triple figure 2nd hand prices.
Available for the first time outside of Benin, Nigeria, the cult side contains some of the deepest and earliest roots music issued on the Albarika label. It’s dominated by the 13 minute lead cut of inimitably Wets African drums synched to fiery psych guitar licks and balmy vocals in ‘Gan Tche Kpo’, which is surely enough to take the head top off any Afrobeat lovers, while the soulful slow jam ‘My Love’ strips everything right back to the tightest sway and almost garage-soul-styled guitars with a duet between wordless croon and sax that says it all.
‘Gnonnou Ho’ picks up the pace with spikier, stepping drums and melody that feels to look East to these ears, recalling Ethiopiques and much farther Eastern vibes on a lilting psych-funk groove, and ‘Min E Wa..We Non Dou’ keeps it up there in an eight minute special for the dancers hashed with wild electric guitar, organ and horns .