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
Silvia Jiménez Alvarez finally follows up 2017's enigmatic nu-EBM tome 'Weightless' with a dumbfounding left-turn for Berghain's Ostgut-Ton imprint. "A World of Service" isn't techno or EBM, it illuminates Alvarez's staggering voice as it flirts with trip-hop, radio pop, grunge and industrial metal. Unexpected doesn't even come close.
Since the release of her acclaimed debut album for iDEAL, Alvarez has been touring constantly, building a reputation as a live performer and challenging, lithe DJ. So when lockdown hit, it provided her with the time she needed to finish an album that's been years in the making. 'A World of Service' is named after her now-defunct monthly radio show, and retains its sonic philosophy. The Spanish artist has never wanted to pigeonhole herself: she grew up with an obsessive interest in music that never began and certainly doesn't end with techno and electro. It doesn't even begin and end with dance music at all.
Her latest material is rooted in the pop forms that crystallized in the 1990s on alternative radio and MTV, and her dynamic voice is the glue that binds it together. Unlike so many of her peers, Alvarez's shift from electronic producer to enigmatic frontwoman sounds fated. Raw, unprocessed Spanish words lurch into view on 'Camelo', after 'Birds You Can Name' introduces the album on a curly instrumental electronic fake-out. 'Camelo' is the stylistic link to 'Weightless', and accompanies Alvarez's powerful vocals with grinding industrial noise and torched half-speed trap percussion. From here, we're funneled into the album's defining run, beginning with Autotuned lounge sizzler 'Luis' that sounds like a robotic re-interpretation of Sade via Kanye's peerless "808s & Heartbreak".
Title track 'A World of Service' might be the most improbable move for Alvarez. Described in the press release as "pandemic-era trip hop", it's a sultry, pristine slow burner that reminds of the moment where trip-hop started to poke into the mainstream with hybrid acts like Dubstar and Olive. And with clubs shuttered for the last couple of years, it makes sense that the genre's half-tempo crawl has began to resurface. But JASSS saves the best for last, teaming up with Berlin's Zíur on 'Wish', an industrial grunge anthem that sounds like Garbage's towering first couple of albums.
The Berlin underground's relationship with pop has been confused (and often antagonistic) over the years. Here, the union is flexible and candid - perfectly in tune with Alvarez's interests, obsessions and strengths. It sounds like the beginning of the next chapter of her creative story, and might be the most unlikely release on Ostgut-Ton thus far.
Queer deep house pioneer Terre Thaemlitz hustles her entire DJ Sprinkles solo catalogue beyond the seminal ‘Midtown 120 Blues’ album in a crucial 19-track set of NYC-via-Tokyo gold, including many tracks popping their digital cherries for the first time.
‘Gayest Tits & Greyest Shits: 1998-2017 12-inches & One-offs’ sums up twenty years of action deep in the bowels of house with a precious suite drawing from rare and hard-to-find pearls scattered between the late ‘90s and end of the last decade. They span the specificities of a sound rooted in the gay scene of NYC from the late ‘80s onward, testifying to the minimalist, bass-heavy style that Sprinkles played at DJ residencies in transsexual clubs and would later take to Tokyo after moving there at turn of the millennium. For our money they’re some of the strongest, most distinctive deep house cuts of our time, holding true to the fundamentals of a style that would become mistranslated, misunderstood, and coopted by successive waves of deep house dilettantes.
Newly collected and presented in tandem with the ‘Midtown 120 Blues’ reissue, the 19 heavyweight club grooves still kill the old way, focussing on proper jackers drums and sphincter-tickle levels of subbass sparingly ornamented with samples in purist integrations of function and politics that don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. From the earliest Sprinkles cuts in ’Sloppy 42nds’ (1998), a tribute to the 42nd St. transsexual clubs destroyed by Walt Disney’s buyout of Times Square, and 2001’s ruddy nods to that classic Adonis motif in ‘Bassline.89’, thru to proper red-lit basement pressure in ‘Glorimar’s Whore House’, puckered darkroom suss in ‘Kissing Costs Extra’ or ‘Masturjakor’, and up to the heart-punching 10min+ reworks of his Terre Thaemlitz material, it’s a totally unmissable set for proper house heads and far beyond. It’s a document of phase-shifting times helmed by one of the most interesting and important artists of our age.
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
Terre Thaemlitz digs deep into her archive for a dead strong 80 minute CD compilation of all her 'Neu Wuss Fusion’s' releases to date, including adjusted and tweaked versions of classics and hard-to-find gems dating back to ’93, including a remarkable liquid D&B cut and an utterly unmissable take on Tangerine Dream - exclusive to the set.
The overarching vibe here hits even deeper than the recent DJ Sprinkles 'Gayest Tits…' set, hovering between the edge of the floor and a late, late night flex instead of driving club pressure, with a focus on bustling breaks and spellbinding ambient jazz atmospheres.
The material here reaches back to the early ’90s, with the kick-less deep House shimmy of opener ‘Thirty Shades of Grey (Demo Version)’ harking back to their debut solo album ‘Tranquilizer’ (1994), and the ambient jazz house lather of ’Sloppy 42s’ connecting to 1999’s ‘Love For Sale’ album, both elegantly edited here, and shuffled up next to both sides of 1998’s ’She’s Hard,’ in its glorious ambient-to-breakbeat mix and rousing ‘Live At Hug Parade’ take.
The set only gets stronger on its 2nd half. The original 11:30’ mix of ‘A Crippled Left Wing Soars with the Right’ makes a welcome first digital appearance beside a mix of its ‘Steal This Record’ edit omitting the ambient breakdown, while also highlighting its incredible, liquid D&B-like ‘1-Step Forward, 2-Step Back’ version - think Calibre meets MvO Trio - seriously - and, just to absolutely polish us off, they include an e-s-s-e-n-t-i-a-l cover of Tangerine Dream’s ‘Love On A Real Train,’ re-titled and remodelled as their orgasmic ‘Sex On A Real Train’ version alongside the 12 minutes of lush, pastoral flutes and subbass in ‘She’s Hard (2007 Archive of Silence Mix.)
Utterly essential, once again.
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
Apartment House's latest set is a hypnotic rendition of Morton Feldman's towering late-period masterpiece, originally recorded in 1991 by Kronos Quartet and Aki Takahashi and here performed by Mark Knoop (piano), Mira Benjamin & Gordon Mackay (violins), Bridget Carey (viola) and Anton Lukoszevieze (cello).
When Morton Feldman wrote "Piano and String Quartet" in 1985, only two years before he died of pancreatic cancer, he had Kronos Quartet and Aki Takahashi in mind, but the piece has been recorded many times since it was released in 1993, and has been endlessly influential, like much of Feldman's work.
On this rendition, the dynamic range is tempered with piano and strings fluttering delicately like a whisper over a silence that feels omnipresent. When notes appear from the void, they do so with purpose, hanging like ghosts before slipping away into the aether.
Anton Lukoszevieze, leader of Apartment House, explains why he chose to record the piece:
"Piano and String Quartet, one of Feldman’s final works, is a seemingly simple work and yet it isn’t. As Philip Guston, a great friend of Feldman, wrote ‘Frustration is one of the great things in art; satisfaction is nothing.’ The length of the work (nearly 80 minutes) and the erasure of musical memory (What did we just hear?) is in fact its identity. Feldman makes simple statements, a piano arpeggio or a sustained string chord, holds these things and examines them over time. Gradually, as the sun’s light moves across a still life through the day, like a drawn out Morandi painting, the work evolves and indeed dissolves in some sense.
Using different transformative processes, Feldman illuminates his basic material and achieves the miraculous, an extended work of great beauty and enigmatic wonder. There are ghosts there, tinctures of late Schubert, Brahms and even Janaček, where beauty is a signature of passing time and an ephemeral focus on hearing and disappearing."
More than just a live session, this set of weighty, radiating interpretations features Anna Von Hausswolff on synth and vocals alongside the Sunn O))) touring band. Heavy-as-fuck ritual drone - you know it.
Recorded after their 2019 UK tour, 'Metta, Benevolence' is an impressive redevelopment of compositions from their two albums released that year - "Pyroclasts" and "Life Metal". After touring with the material for a few months, the band - featuring guest players Stephen Moore, Tim Midyett and Tos Nieuwenhuizen on top of core droners Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson - had worked on each composition to evolve them into their emotional final stages. Playing in front of an audience has the habit of shifting material, and O'Malley and Anderson embraced the change, looking to create an "all-inclusive radiation of O)))" that would support each player's interpretation of the themes.
Well, thankfully it sounds incredible. Anna Von Hausswolff's contribution on booming opener 'Pyroclasts F' is particularly noticeable, with her vocals pealing out ritualistically over the band's seismic rumble of saturated guitar and thick, modulated synth. It's Sunn O)))'s open-armed philosophy that's led to their work being so consistently engaging - It would have been easy for them to rest on their laurels years ago, but Anderson and O'Malley have continued to develop their sound and encourage the natural shifts in emphasis.
For many, a BBC session is just a formality, for Sunn O))) - it was an opportunity to basically dub a completely new album.
Exquisite minimalist investigations into counting, repetitive processes and listening from London-based acoustician and composer Georgia Rodgers, performed by Apartment House, Zubin Kanga, and Rodgers herself.
For 2019's Rainy Days festival in Luxembourg, Rodgers was commissioned to write a new piece of music for Apartment House, which would be premiered at the festival. "September" was the result, and it's bundled here in three excerpts, with a selection of other pieces recorded between 2010 and 2021.
'September' finishes the album, and it's undoubtedly a highlight. Rodgers wanted the piece to reflect the counting methods used to track bars, or notes, and it does so by sticking to a discernible rhythm, with instruments taking the place of a metronome. This forces the listener to tune into the sounds of the acoustic instruments, and the space itself. The presentation is minimal, but Rodgers packs it with tiny details and no small amount of emotion. Fans of Jonny Greenwood's soundtrack work - like his collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson on "There Will Be Blood - should investigate.
'Ringinglow' is the newest recording on the album, and possibly the most stark and evocative. Using a piano and ominous electronics, Rodgers evokes a mood that plays against traditional flourishes. 2010's 'Logistic', the earliest piece, demonstrates Rodgers' dedication to industrial soundscaping, with granulated glass sounds forming a nauseous atmosphere, while 'Base' is almost the polar opposite - warm and welcoming with oboe and strings. It's a varied spread of work that hangs together in harmony, joined by Rodgers' strong sense of space and musical philosophy.
CD release of the acclaimed soundtrack to "ZeroZeroZero" by Mogwai.
"To celebrate the UK transmission of the acclaimed eight-part cocaine crime drama, ZeroZeroZero, Rock Action are very pleased to release Mogwai's soundtrack to the series for the very first time."
Marissa Nadler's first original solo album since 2018's 'For My Crimes' is a glittering high-point in her catalog, reflecting the dreamy prog-gaze of Air's 'Virgin Suicides' OST in an oily pool of Neil Young, Low, Mercury Rev and Cocteau Twins' underrated "Four-Calendar Café". We're in love.
'The Path of the Clouds' is a remarkably different album from the rest of Nadler's eight solo full-lengths. During lockdown she kept busy, escaping into writing and recording an album of covers (Spring's "Instead of Dreaming"), and learning to play piano with Mercury Rev's Jesse Chandler. This provided a new method of writing, and many of the songs here were penned on keys instead of guitar. Nadler also began experimenting with synthesis, so while 'The Path of the Clouds' feels furthest from the whimsical folk of her early catalog, it also sounds like her most complex, and most developed work so far.
Distracting herself from quarantine boredom with 'Unsolved Mysteries' reruns, Nadler decided to re-imagine the murder ballad as a form to promote female empowerment, focusing on the unsolved case of D.B. Cooper, the unidentified hijacker of a Boeing 727 plane flying from Portland to Seattle in 1971 as a focus for meditation on transformation and the mastery of fate. The idea of escape from authority looms across each song, lightened by Nadler's cosmic synths, mellotron drones and charming shoegaze-country riffs.
Bella Union boss and ex-Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde adds bass to the album, and it's hard to know whether it's this that amplifies that Cocteaus sparkle or whether it's Nadler's inspired country-tinged songwriting. The spectral pop waftiness of late-Cocteaus tracks like 'Evangeline' and 'Know Who You Are At Every Age' are only a breath from 'Couldn't Have Done the Killing' and 'If I Could Breathe Underwater', and it's not unwelcome. The Scottish band's late period is still cruelly maligned, but Nadler's absorption of this sound is effective and smart. Smashed with the melancholy, doomer romance of Air's "Virgin Suicides" soundtrack, it lifts Nadler's songs into a surreal dreamworld she's only dipped into previously.
The trace elements of Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt are still there, but burned into coiled smoke that snakes around these delightful new forms. "The Path of the Clouds" is a dream pop album that's unafraid to lean into the genre's knottiest tendencies, it's able to be literary and comical, lavish and incisive, labyrinthine and visual. It's fair to say that Nadler had a more productive quarantine than most of us.
Les Disques du Crepuscule releases a newly remastered and expanded CD box set edition of The Warp of Pure Fun, the 1985 album by Scottish songwriter Paul Haig, formerly of influential Postcard/post-punk group Josef K.
"Co-produced by Alan Rankine of The Associates, The Warp of Pure Fun followed a brief flirtation with mainstream dance-pop on the Island Records, and marked a return to warmer, more personal songs and arrangements, as well as live drums and ringing guitars, and also embracing emergent digital technology such as Akai sequencers and the Kurzweil sampling keyboard.
The album includes 4 singles in Big Blue World, Heaven Help You Now, Love Eternal and electro-funk stormer The Only Truth, the latter produced with Bernard Sumner of New Order and Donald Johnson (A Certain Ratio). As well as Alan Rankine on luxuriant keyboards, other stellar guests include drummers Steve Goulding, Toby and James Locke, bassist Michael McCann and Blaine L. Reininger of Tuxedomoon, who adds dramatic strings to epic closer Love and War.
The mammoth 64 track box set also includes a raft of extended 12” mixes, including rare US remixes by Man Parrish and Mantronik, and no less than 3 versions of The Executioner, a spooky electro collaboration with Cabaret Voltaire taped at their Western Works Studio in Sheffield. B-sides include Paul’s frantic rockabilly take on Ghost Rider by Suicide, featuring Malcolm Ross and David McClymont of Josef K/Orange Juice.
Disc 2 features a fascinating early album demo recorded at home on 4 track equipment, featuring several previously unheard songs, as well as all tracks from Paul’s legendary ‘lost’ second album from 1984, including sublime standout song Shining Hour. Disc 4 offers 9 tracks professionally recorded live in Japan in May 1985 (with accompanying radio interview), along with several more demo tracks recorded later that year. Again, several of these songs (Testimony, Wrapped, Bridges) have never heard or released on record before."
Erstwhile Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie returns with 'Mockingbird Love', a new four track EP, the first in a short series of newly recorded instrumental releases.
"Guthrie, whose production and signature guitar sounds are said to have shaped multiple genres was the co-founder and producer of Cocteau Twins. Over forty years he has produced and remixed countless artists, recorded instrumental albums, movie soundtracks and collaborated with many outstanding artists. Mockingbird Love is a most welcome introduction to a series of releases which will be available for a limited amount of time exclusively on Soleil Après Minuit."
Gritty post-punk outfit Low Life investigate the "disgust and shame" of white Australia and the gloomy reality of betrayed adulthood on their dense third album. Influenced by Michaelangelo, Iggy and the Stooges and the Sydney hardcore scene.
There's a curl of thick, black smoke that surrounds Low Life; their music isn't depressing, but it's filled with anger - the kind of anger that grows from dented dreams, unfathomable reality and fragmented relationships. The band raked in acclaim for their first two albums, 2014's "Dogging" and 2019's Alter-released "Downer Edn". "From Squats to Lots..." is closer to their sophomore album, a record the press release describes as having a "nuanced flavour".
With the grim atmosphere of "Unknown Pleasures"-era Joy Division and Bowie's "Low" (apparently producer Mickey Grossman has a statue of the star in the studio), Low Life conduct a riveting noise that lifts the darkest emotions into almost jubilance. Guitars jangle beneath rugged basslines and thrash-y chords, and vocals lurch from snotty sneers to melancholy cynicism. It's a record that brings to life another side of Australia, one far from what we're accustomed to witnessing in the media. As the band themselves say: it's not for kids.
Juke-pop dreamer Jessy Lanza proves an ideal candidate for the DJ-Kicks series with a shimmering 26-track blend of vibes by the likes of Lolina, Gant Man, Grain, Mafia Boyz, Michael J. Blood, DJ Swisha and more
Beloved for her long players and renowned for party-starting live shows, Jessy Lanza here spells out her influences and current tastes with strong picks of US & UK dance music, peppered with slanted pop and low-key boogie hustles ++ bags of soul. It’s top marks for the flow and feel of her mix, coolly swerving between reference points proximal to her home city, Hamilton, Ontario — not so far from Toronto’s disco and jungle, and in raving distance of Detroit and Chicago with a bit of drive.
The strongest bits are by Jessy herself, who supplies a number of exclusives including the air-lock juke entry portal of ‘Guess What’, plus the percolated sweetness of ’Seven 55’ with Hyperdub labelmate Loraine James, and the feathered techno tump of ‘Wet x3’ and the electro-stepper ‘Heaving’ with Taraval. But that’s not to discount her other picks, spanning the gritty house slap of Michael J. Blood’s genius ‘Lip Biter’, to fleet-footed juke by CN and Mr. Ho, Chicago ghetto percolators by Dee Jay Nehpets, DJ Swisha, and DJ Spookie, with the likes of Lolina’s groggy ace ‘A Path of Weeds and Flowers’ tempering the flow.
Japanese-Korean classical minimalist Ryoko Akama collaborates with Apartment House again on this weightless set of deceptively complex pieces. Fans of Morton Feldman, Alvin Lucier or Eliane Radigue >> this one's pretty incredible.
An installation artist as well as a composer and performer, Huddersfield-based Akama writes music that's intentionally visual, or tangible. She creates sound that stretches across time and space, and uses silence like dead air - forcing us to consider our place as listeners.
'Songs for a shed' is series of six works for piano and instruments that was comissioned by Philip Thomas and Another Timbre. It isn't the first time Akama has worked with Apartment House - the collaborated on 2019's excellent "Dial 45-21-95" - and at this stage they feel perfectly in tune with each others' sonic philosophy. Simon Limbrick's vibraphone and marimba contributions are especially impressive, elevating the almost 20-minute 'proposal eleven' to scratch out a physical space in our minds eye.
Another expertly assembled set of avant-garde classical minimalism from Sheffield's Another Timbre label, this time highlighting Californian multi-instrumentalists and CalArts professor Andrew McIntosh.
McIntosh is among the most celebrated experimental string players in California, and here directs his talents to investigating the possibilities of his set of instruments, melting bowed harmonies from the violin and viola with field recordings made in the Californian pine woods.
The album opens on its darkest stretch, with hit piano strings used to punctuate elongated violin drones that reverberate into industrial strength textures. The 20-minute 'Middle' offers relief, a deep listening near-raga made from the microtonal harmonics that slowly emerge from a sustained string. 'Other Middle' is comparatively light-hearted, the instruments mimicking chirping sounds, before the record closes on 'Ending' - a contemplative weaving of environmental sizzle and low-register wobble.
Minimal clarinet compositions, fleshed out with subtle field recordings, vocals, double bass and cello.
There's something unsettling - in the best possible sense - about the clarinet. Reed instruments are tough to play, tougher to play well, with the clarinet perhaps the hardest to elevate. Thankfully, Heather Roche is an expert performer, and Martin Iddon's minimalist, textured piece was composed with her in mind. The sounds she manages to eke out of the instrument - especially on the album's 21 minute title track - are exceptional; turning from animalistic wails to a tender whisper in a heartbeat.
Placed alongside Iddon's recordings of birdsong makes the transition more stark; on 'Muses', Roche makes like a synthesizer next to Juliet Fraser's operatic vocal delivery, and on 'tu as navré', she turns the clarinet into rhythm and bass next to low, scraping strings from James Opstad and Anton Lukoszevieze.
Posthomous release of some of the barest mechanics and deadliest Chicago House you’ll likely ever hear, mostly recorded in the 80’s and now finally released via Carson’s long time disciples at Sound Signature. Best believe that this is the OG shit, never bettered, most of it previously unreleased - all of it a total fucking education. R.I.P legend.
The cover of LeRon Carson's debut album is a reminder of another era; Carson, smiling in front of a pair of decks, bulky headphones around his neck. The Chicago icon died in 2016, but left behind a vast archive of unreleased music, much of it recorded in the 1980s when the House sound was in its wildly creative infancy. Theo Parrish has made much of his obsession with Carson's production and performances over the years - and has put out a handful of tunes on Sound Signature - but this full-length set might be the most fitting tribute, showing the depth and prescience of the producer's sound.
Only seconds into opener 'Sof n Thik' you know what you're in for - fudgy kicks thud slowly and carefully, surrounded by pillowy, soulful pads and the warmest synbass. If you're looking for the root sound that gave rise to Theo Parrish, and in turn Newworldaquarium, Actress, and Andy Stott - this is pretty much the blueprint. Carson's veil-pierced ferric fuzz has been regularly duped but never quite captured. Carson didn't just pre-empt deep, knackered grooves either - tracks like 'Baby Said to Me' and 'Say It' tickle the same loopy funk euphoric sweet spot that Daft Punk, and the later entire French touch kru, would fire into the mainstream a few years later. MLK-sampling '72nd & Ogelsby' meanwhile can't help but remind of DJ Sprinkles with its spare beatbox shuffle and painfully moving square wave bass wind.
It's impossible to overstate the resonance of Carson's tracks; writing music from the Midwest - the US dance music heartland - in the country's beleaguered '80s, they're charged with a hedonism that's far from empty. It's a jubilant cry from Black America, chiming alongside established classic material from Larry Heard, Ron Hardy, Virgo, Adonis and Steve Poindexter.
Honestly, life-changing music.
Next-level hydrophonic fire from early electronic pioneer Michel Redolfi, best known for presenting the first underwater concert in history. It's mindboggling work that imagines deep-sea sound using the glassy tones of the Synclavier digital synthesizer.
Redolfi came up with the idea of his 'Sonic Waters' project in 1979, when he was working at UC San Diego in California. The university's Center For Music Experiment had funded his project "WET", or "Water Electronically Tuned", and he took his music across the USA to similar-minded centers where he was able to perform underwater, using specially-designed equipment. In the last four decades, Redolfi has shipped this concept across the world, performing in public pools in Sydney, Paris and Venice and also in various natural sites worldwide.
Redolfi splits the music into two fields, music for fresh water, which he composed in 1981, and music for salt water, which was put together concurrently, from 1979 to 1987. To call his music fluid would be to ignore its inherent thoughtfulness; Redolfi makes big brain sounds that pull influence from our cultural understanding of water's place in the history of soundmaking. He mixes the harps and shimmering electronics you might expect to see in a classic rendition of an underwater scene with sonorous synthesized sounds that harmonize with whale song or submerged gongs. Each element warbles and vibrates as Redolfi urges us to consider the historical resonance inherent in all the colors and textures refracted into our ears.
"..The songs of sirens, the bells of submerged cathedrals, the voices of lost mariners." Indeed.
Versatile cornet player and elecro-acoustic composer Ben Lamar Gay takes an assured step into ambitious territory with his second album, touching soul, funk, jazz, experimental electronics, ambient and psychedelic zones with help from Tomeka Reid, Angel Bat Dawid, Ayanna Woods, Ohmme and others.
Gay's debut album, 2018's "Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun", was assembled from material he'd produced over a seven year period. "Open Arms to Open Us" was a quicker process, and stands as a far more coherent work. Gay began writing the music in Spring 2020, as the world changed and we were all forced to reconsider our place in the world; "things have never been okay," he admits in an accompanying statement. What pulled him back from the brink was thinking about the future - his family, his young nieces and nephews - and Gay puts this into music by focusing on rhythm. "More than anything, I’d like my babies to always trust in rhythm," he explains. "It’s the one trueness that travels great distances and constantly survives the crumbling of facades."
Gay has put his finger on the pulse that travels through culture and history. Rhythm is a unifying force, and he uses it to pull together a wide cast of collaborators and a plethora of genres that all bend to his creative will. On opening track 'Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You', Chicago duo Ohmme back up Gay's vulnerable vocals with ethereal choral wails, but it's the clattering drums - layered over shifting xylophone clonks - that make the song so memorable. 'Aunt Lola and the Quail' is less showy, but no less impressive, with bubbling oscillator gurgles over a loose, pulsing downtempo funk shuffle; the jazz pressure is palpable, but Gay never allows his cornet prowess to overshadow his general theme.
Dorothée Munyaneza sings on the magical 'Nyuzura', vocally pirouetting through skeletal drum skitters and ethereal dulcimer clangs. 'S'Phisticated Lady' meanwhile finds Chicago legend Angel Bat Dawid and Gira Dahnee trading rhymes, seemingly live in situ, over rattling tamborines and a struck tom. Each track feels stylistically different, but philosophically related - it's quite a feat.
9-track mini-album "Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep" from Mykki Blanco.
"This body of work also marks their debut release as part of a recently signed deal with Transgressive Records in London (supported by PIAS worldwide). The music of this new mini-album introduces a more nuanced and genre- spanning set of work, suggesting the reflective wisdom of one who has experience and maturity on their side. Ushering in a fresh era for the artist, the songs take life and love into account, but also personal stakes that are higher than they've ever been. “I couldn’t continue on that same trajectory,” they say, calling up releases of old. "I can't call myself a serious musician if you can't go on a journey bumping a Mykki Blanco record from start to finish."
Mykki’s desire to elevate their artistry provided the lifeblood. They felt the approach of the early part of their career had long resembled that of a performance artist rather than a musician; and as much as they hungered for longevity, they wanted more to connect with the mechanics of how they created their own work. “I liked my life. I liked the life my career had given me. I loved songwriting, but I was afraid,” Blanco admits. “There was still a level of musicianship that I was relying too much on other people for, and I could feel that spiritual gap.” To that end, the unique partnership they formed with producer FaltyDL — one that has been continuous since they first found themselves collaborating in 2018 — was instrumental in its creative process.
When the two began working on music together in 2018, Blanco was fresh out of a serious relationship — Mykki’s actual first — that had spread out over three years. After a twenties that was characterized by “a lot of sexual trauma,” an actual committed relationship proved to be a balm. “It was healing. It was like God brought that man into my life to teach me how to love myself better. It was through his love of me that I was able to realize that I was worthy of love.” And though that relationship has ceased, the impact of it remains powerful in Blanco's mind as both a beautiful memory and an experience they sought to capture in composition. At its core, Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep is a collection of songs about love that grew out of the end of this cherished romance. This mini album is further informed by Blanco’s childhood spent between California and North Carolina, listening to acts as disparate as Jamiroquai (their first concert) and Macy Gray (the first CD they paid for) to Riot Grrrl bands and the Neptunes. They’ve also been further influenced by being based primarily in Europe for the last few years and collaborating with a wide cross-section of artists in these years that have passed since their debut album. Mykki Blanco’s music and artistic career has long been an amalgamation of their broad tastes and continuous evolution; and with great intention, Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep is the next step on this long road."
Full throttle, 160bpm hardcore, jungle and footwork tekkers from the rave’s leading pied piper, for Fabric’s key mix series
In the space of a few short years, Sherelle has leapt from cult quantity to headline dynamo, largely with thanks to her incendiary and highly memed Boiler Room showcase in late 2019, when she generated nuclear energy levels via a jump up dub of ‘RIP Groove.’ She’s spent the intervening pandemic building a fearsome rep as the happiest and up-for-it DJ on road, ultimately leading to this, her 27-track razz between UK and Chicago rave styles, taking in upfront Black dance music from key hotspots of NYC and LDN with a breathless, party-ready flow that’s precisely what eager yung ravers want, and are getting, right now
As with her A&R actions on the HooverSound and Beautiful labels, the mix highlights Sherelle’s roots and branches thru cuts from a close but far flung coterie of producers ranging from old skool soldiers (Aphrodite, Cloud9, Q-Bass) to relatively new skool jungle players (Dub One, Tim Reaper, Dev/Null) and US catalysts (DJ Rashad, Kush Jones, DJ Phil, AceMo), each finding a mutual axis around the 160bpm thing. With a sense of drama and intensity that’s perhaps more UK rave than US, Sherelle defines the sound at its most disciplined and up for it, spraying from the hip with a lethal disregard for our safety that can’t be prized any more, especially after 18 months of brutal club lockdown.
No prisoners, we tell ya!
Pye Corner Audio finishes his trilogy of albums - following 2016's "Stasis" and 2019's "Hollow Earth" - with this high budget tribute to vintage synth crust, dystopian lost futures and squashed dancefloor memories.
Could there be a more appropriate home for Martin Jenkins than Ghost Box? His latest album characterizes everything that the label stands for, building a strong theme immediately with Jenkins' peerless production skill and leaving the throng of other vintage synth fetishists in the dust. It's hardly surprising that Pye Corner Audio has been picked up for so much TV work recently, he sounds as if his music is umbilically joined to a set of cathode memories: blinking images of Doctor Who, 1980's Channel 4 documentaries, late night horror shows, Open University idents.
We've heard Jenkins' dusted retro-future electronics plenty of times now, and at this point he's just enjoying the ride; the squelchy sci-fi moods of 'Paleolith' are a perfect intro to 'Earthwork', where the album bugs from acidic squelching to knackered dancefloor froth. And while the shadow of Boards of Canada looms over so much retro synth music, Jenkins reaches his own distinct conclusions.
'Hive Mind' twists toughened disco rhythms and modulated arpeggios into a horror theme dancefloor jam that's two clicks left of the TV dial. 'Phantom Orchid' is another slow burner, sounding like Vangelis if he was given the opportunity to rescore John Carpenter's "The Thing". Basically, imagine Johnny Jewel, Alessandro Cortini, S U R V I V E, and Dean Hurley going b2b at the purgatorium disco and you have the measure of it.
New album from coldwave duo The KVB, "Unity".
"The KVB are back with their most potent and immediate record yet. Produced and mixed by Andy Savours (Black Country New Road, My Bloody Valentine, The Horrors) ‘Unity’ represents an exciting development in the band’s sonic journey.
Across the album's ten songs, The KVB masterfully pull together their trademark components; radiant guitars, textural synths and an ear for a moody, brooding melody all presented here with with a renewed dynamism.
Throughout the album lyrical themes combine double meanings and a sleight of hand is present; Le Corbousier’s brutalist ‘Unité d’habitation’ informs the title track and via the French-to-English translation ‘Unité' becomes ‘Unity’ - a rallying cry to totality on the dancefloor. ‘Unbound’ is informed by the classic shoegaze stylings of Slowdive and Ride but also late-modern poet Keston Sutherland and the idea of recreating a special moment lost to the past."
Richard Dawson & Circle collaborate on "Henki".
"Henki is the epic joint record from Richard Dawson, the diminutive Geordie troubadour, and Circle, the genre-straddling pioneers of The New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal. Unlike any metal album you have heard before, Henki’s seven tracks deal with special plants throughout history, making it the greatest flora-themed hypno-folk-metal record you’ll hear this year."
Otto A Totland completes his trilogy of piano compositions, following 2014’s Pinô and 2017’s The Lost.
"As a self-taught pianist, Otto further determines himself as a timeless composer who follows nothing but his own gut and heart. The outcome is something so pure it’s hard to not be affected. The development of his pieces over the years has grown into something so himself that it’s almost immediately recognisable. With Companion he has matured in his own craft, and the various pieces here feel confident and absolutely beautiful in a way that sees the end of the trilogy as a warm, empathic document for the times.
As with the previous two albums, Companion was again recorded at Nils Frahm’s Berlin studio for optimal warmth and space, Pinô and The Lost at his previous Durton Studio while Companion at the historic Studio 3 at Funkhaus. All three records are released by Sonic Pieces in hand-crafted limited edition covers as a statement showing that craftmanship and humanity still exists in this world constantly moving towards the exact opposite.
This quote by Norwegian philosopher Guttorm Fløistad seems an appropriate connection to both Otto’s music and the way we are all heading : “The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today […] In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.” With this in mind, Companion is exactly what it’s title sets out to be. A friend that can follow and comfort in both good or bad times."
Field recording artist Jeph Jerman & percussionist Tim Barnes collaborative album, "Hiss Lift".
"A note from Jeph Jerman:
What I remember…
…a car on fire alongside the highway in the middle of the night. Waking in someone else’s bed in London with an entire poem spilling into my head, and then recording it with Tim in the kitchen after breakfast.
Seemingly endless car, bus and train rides full of the country side splintered and refracted through glass and fatigue, always the same, always different. The screaming woman at the airport who pulled the fire alarm, evacuating the terminal. Some guy in Brooklyn talking through our entire set…
…smoking rope and playing chess with Jean-Herve Peron. Playing in that giant concrete bunker on Mare Island, our sounds smeared by endless reverberation. People smoking heroin in the bathroom in Oslo, setting off the fire alarm toward the end of our set, and the freezing room in Den Haag. Improvising in the back seat of Tim’s car while he drove and recorded it, somewhere in Indiana. The guy shooting up in the stairwell of that dilapidated squat in Berlin, and the whirlwind tour of the city at 3 AM. Chocolate you could snort in Antwerp. Crossing the English Channel through the Chunnel, and our entire train loaded onto a ferry to cross the Baltic Sea.
Spending a lot of time together, without ever running out of things to talk about.
It was Tim who said that our next record should be called hiss lift. We saw it on a sign pointing to an elevator in some hotel, the two words in different languages. For me, that phrase conjures up vague thoughts about tape manipulation, a finger on a switch so marked. We talked about the record a lot, mostly on trains, and came up with other titles launched from subtle in-jokes. What we didn’t talk about in any detailed way, was what it would sound like.
Lounging on-board and resting, not focusing on any one thing I could watch the landscape from two or three different directions at once, all rolling into and out of each other’s reflection. Different surfaces displayed aspects on the inside of our compartment, highly distorted by their curvature. It struck me that it was very similar to the music that Tim and I had been making, and that spark set off the fire you now hold.
Every tour that Tim and I did is represented here: Two runs through California and two up the east coast, a tight circle in the mid-west, and three weeks in Europe and Scandinavia. The spoken word bit is the recording we made in the apartment in London, and the rest is a melange of places and times superimposed. Sounds reoccur, jutting up in varied combinations, ghosts peeled and pasted. Sudden thwacks announce shifts of scenery, a door closes, another opens.
In Schiphorst, there was a William S. Burroughs book lying on the sofa. Burroughs once talked about all human experience being a cut-up. You walk down the street and your eyes alight on different things as you scan your surroundings: don’t walk/DRUGS/“spare change?”/ PLAY on the side of a bus, now the street through flashing glass. This idea also illuminates hiss lift, spotlighting the notion that what you remember is not what happened.
Here then are our cut-ups, mnemonic prods diced and displaced. The residue of experience passed hand-to-hand."
Ian Wellman's new album on Room 40, "On The Darkest Day, You took My Hand and Swore It Will Be Okay".
"‘On The Darkest Day, You took My Hand and Swore It Will Be Okay’ spawns out of reflections and realizations from the past year. The musical pieces themselves teeter between anger, anxiety, and hope, usually turning to distortion and noise. These were often an attempt to make sense of the happenings around the world. At times this process was a way to soothe my own frustrations with life at a standstill.
A big influence on this album was watching events unfold online. Technology made it incredibly easy to ‘experience’ something without having actually been there via live streaming and second-to-second updates on social media. You can now watch the world burn without leaving your home, and I did. With work on hiatus, I would obsessively watch how the world was fairing with the crises on our hands.
For an escape, I would often venture out for field recording. Unlike the reports I had heard about the silent cities, human-generated noise in Los Angeles never ceased. As people slowed their movement, the sound of LAPD helicopters were amplified. During the height of the fire season, I had recorded several areas to see how the air pollution had affected the soundscape. In North Hollywood, the electrical wires felt particularly loud as ash fell from the sky. Even as our forests burned, we continued to pump oil behind public parks and across the street from homes, only to speed up our own decline.
Through the year’s ups and downs, and navigating lots of unknowns, friends and family reassured me that it will be ok. This period was a constant reminder of how important it was to keep the folks you love close, physically or otherwise. Please hold on to each other."
New album of compositions by Olivia Block, "Innocent Passage in the Territorial Sea".
During the lockdown, unable to do anything in the world, I turned inward, adopting a regular practice of listening with intention while on psychedelic mushrooms. The mushrooms helped me to listen somatically, pulling my ears towards low tonal patterns and the warped sounds of a broken Mellotron I had recorded earlier.
I started playing in my studio, creating bass-driven pieces on my vintage Korg synth organ, using a very limited tonal palette.
The pandemic seemed like a strange dream or a surrealistic science fiction story. As a thought-exercise, I imagined this moment as a film; a mental lens through which I could conceive of this pandemic and all of the complex factors which converged to make it happen.
I approached this music as the soundtrack to this speculative science fiction film, an attempt to translate my emotions."
Jim O’Rourke pushes Apartment House to test their limits via an open-ended score for string trio requiring the players to whistle and sing wordlessly, with absorbing, minimalist results.
Commissioned by Anton Lukoszevieze of Apartment House, who also perform the work with exacting patience and nuance, ‘Best that you do this for me’ is a 50 minute work for string trio (featuring Lukoszevieze alongside Mira Benjamin and Bridget Carey) that also requires the performers to work out of their comfort zones, with additional instructions for them to whistle and sing, as well as play their instruments (violin, viola, cello.) The piece was originally performed in a 15 minute iteration for the BBC, but in this new expanded version its wider scope leads the players to unpredictable harmonic junctures as they work their way around its cyclical indications, overlapping into achingly mournful and sighing cadences with a glacially time-slipping quality.
O’Rourke was inspired to incorporate whistling and singing into the piece after re-listening to a few choral works by Martin Smolka, and was struck by how this relatively simple and always “on hand” instrument is rarely used. In the context of highly skilled instrumentalists such as Apartment House, the simple gesture of whistling and singing becomes a radical one, encouraging the trio to offset and balance their skills and intuition in a sometimes unnerving way that lends the work a beautifully uncertain character, unfurling like an archipelago of islands illuminated by moonlight and punctuated with gulfs of dark, pregnant silence.
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.
µ-Ziq and Mrs Jynx release a collaborative album on Planet Mu.
"In Spring 2021, Mike Paradinas (µ-Ziq and the owner of Planet Mu) spoke to long time friend and past label signing Hannah Davidson (Mrs Jynx) about the therapeutic power of writing music when times are tough. Both had recently been dealing with the loss of a parent due to cancer, and fresh from writing Scurlage, Paradinas suggested a collaboration. “I’ve always thought Hannah’s melodic sensibilities chime well with my own," says Paradinas, "and I've wanted to collaborate with her for a long time, since [her 2010 album] 'Shark Carousel' in fact, because she'd written some melodies that I wish I had.” In a matter of weeks the two collaborated online, sending stems back and forth, each encouraging the other and fitting perfectly together. “After about ten days we had ten tracks we were happy with." adds Davidson, "It was exciting to hear what Mike would do with the stems I sent, and equally exciting to see what he thought of my additions to his stems.” Overall the result is an opus of deeply personal moments of grief, depicted in a feeling of serene, misty tranquility that makes it easy to get lost in.
Davidson and Paradinas settled on the title 'Secret Garden' due to the melodic vista which unexpectedly opened up before them on the final track. The album truly is a melodic exploration that is so often missed in this genre. There are twists and turns in mood, from the pastoral loveliness of 'Jynxiq' and 'Unheard Melodies' which fall away to the dubby beats of 'Hi Jynx'; the sadness of 'Loss' leading into the beatless forlorn 'The Ballad of Darth Vader. The album ups the pace with the muffled kicks and warm atmosphere of 'Afternoon Sunshine', which sets the tone for the happier mood of the second half. This all leads up to the album's denoeument in final track 'Secret Garden' whose naïve meandering synth melodies, orchestral accompaniment and glockenspiel end the album in happy resolution."
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra's Jessica Moss paints another evocative nighttime scene on her fourth album "Phosphenes". Using violin, vocals and electronics, she creates visceral, ghostly soundtracks that are certain to appeal to fans of Deaf Center, Stars of the Lid or Marcus Fjellström.
Jessica Moss has added her signature sound to so many essential artists it's almost pointless listing them all. Most memorably, she toured with Vic Chestnutt's band, co-founded Black Ox Orkestar, performed alongside Carla Bozulich, and experimented with electronics with Growing's Kevin Doria as Total Life, but that's only the half of it. On 'Phosphenes', however, the most striking aspect is Moss's ability to harness the power of restraint, allowing minuscule strokes and small touches do the heavy lifting.
Epic three-part composition 'Contemplation' makes up the bulk of the album's first half, showing off Moss's instrumental skill without any kind of fanfare. Her playing is the central focus, but her knowledge of production and electronics infuses her productions with subtle elements that never detract from the instrumental sounds. On 'Let Down' and 'Distortion Harbour', these elements begin to strangle the strings as if a transition is taking place; by the end of 'Distortion Harbour', light starts to crack through the fog. A child's voice burbles up from the silence: "don't be sad, I love you."
Coldcut curate an ambient compilation for Ninja Tune sub-label Ahead Of Our Time. "@0", the 29-track compilation album features new recordings by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Skee Mask, Helena Hauff, Juliana Barwick, Sigur Rós, Laraaji, Suzanne Ciani and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, among others.
"Speaking on the compilation, Coldcut’s Matt Black said: “@0 refers to that liminal state experienced many times where my mental and emotional stability was not solid and it felt like teetering on a zero axis about to fall into depression, or more rarely, mania. I found that ambient music, by making no psychic demands, often opened some space and with its soft fascination, subtly raised the energy, helping to avoid that downward spiral and navigate slowly up and out. @0 is a balance point.”"
Chris Liebing's follow up to his 2018 debut for Mute, "Another Day".
"Another Day sees Liebing once again collaborating with an eclectic mix of artists, including several who were involved with Burn Slow. Miles Cooper Seaton, in one of his last performances following his sad and untimely passing earlier this year, and Polly Scattergood lend vocals to a track each, while Ralf Hildenbeutel returns to produce. Ladan (formerly known as Cold Specks), Tom Adams and Maria Uzor (Sink Ya Teeth) are new collaborators for Liebing.
“With this album, I wanted to take myself out of it as much as possible,” explains Chris Liebing. After three decades working dancefloors with pummelling techno, Chris Liebing formidable reputation as a DJ and is certainly comfortable with being in the spotlight, but for his solo work he has chosen a different avenue."
Collecting Eleh's three heavyweight drone albums on CD. Very precious, pure and meditative sounds strongly recommended to followers of Eliane Radigue, Pauline Oliveros, LaMonte Young.
"Retreat is a collection of exploratory sound assemblages put together during a cabin sojourn. New timbral richness, tonal expansion and deep synthesis make these pieces rather different from previous work. Return reflects on time away.Repose contains only one piece, the final recording of Circle Two: Coastal Rotation For Dune Loop which was debuted at 2010's Mutek festival in Montreal. This piece completes the Retreat/Return trilogy with Repose and is intended to stand very much on its own. Rain on your hood. Your heart beats. A beach break roaring in the distance. Isolated pines are played by the wind. A fine spot for repose. You turn around and head home. "Eleh demonstrates once again how a single amplified gesture delivered just so can reveal the inner workings of an entire cosmos." Tony Herrington/Wire"
Enveloping 38-minute piece from Eleh written for performance at the Cleveland Museum Of Contemporary Art.
'For Moussavi Atrium' marks the first new Eleh material since 2012, following an invaluable programme of reissues for their Important early releases during the 2013. It starts off in near silence before fleshing out a supple sinewave flux modulating at rapid intervals to a pulsing, brain-worming coda that'll hypnotise and control anyone susceptible to a good 'wave. This is one of those instances where the format plays some part - the clarity and duration afforded by the CD really holds us under without breaking the spell, and by the time we're 30 minutes in - the point you'd have to turn the wax - it really strikes serious depths of sub-harmonic intensity that feels like the world is geared in slow motion...
Fluxion's best album in years, the Greek dub techno veteran sculpts pristine dub-jazz moods that eschew the genre's usual foggy melancholy in favor of mind-expanding, horizontal landscapes. One for fans of Moritz Von Oswald Trio and Vladislav Delay's underrated "The Four Quarters".
There's an airy lightness to "Parallel Moves" that's unexpected in the dub techno canon. Fluxion's best work - his Chain Reaction two-parter "Vibrant Forms" - is rightly hailed as a genre milestone, and while "Parallel Moves" echoes that work's faded atmosphere, there's none of the eerie mystery. Instead, the Greek producer has augmented his production with a deep house-indebted jazziness, bringing in broken two-step rhythms, feather-lite electric guitar and warm electric piano. It's almost balearic.
Tracks like 'Passage' are as warm and bright as an acid sunrise, with aerated pads that cut through a supple kick and breezy horns that practically drag you to the sand dunes and frothing waves. 'In Limbo', a tight, uptempo deep house burner, sounds looped into Theo Parrish's sonic universe as it drifts around subtly plucked guitar and kinetic electric piano, and 'Spreads' sounds like waking up on a mountainside, watching the clouds part slowly. This is sunny, hopeful stuff, and breathes some happiness into a usually buttoned-up sound.
Compelling textural electronic experimentation in long form from Californian operative Robert Takahashi Crouch, who considers the relationship between abstract sound and personal resonance on "Jubilee", fizzing from luscious filigree drone to dense, crushing tonal destruction. RIYL Lawrence English, Tim Hecker or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma.
'Jubilee' is a major release for Crouch, arriving four years after his last full-length, the Touch-released 'Sublunar'. He admits in a soul-baring artist statement that it took him an unusually long time to complete; the recording evolved at a time when he was re-assessing his priorities.
So often, loud sound - from metal and noise to so-called power ambient - is used as a way of expressing frustration, or worse, repression. But Crouch uses his shifting dynamics to instead represent pain, anxiety, trauma and transgression. These feelings come from a similar place, but he treats them with sensitivity and bounded distance as he melts from liquid bass drones and glassy electronics in 'A Ritual I' to tectonic-shifting overdriven fuzz in the second part, before shifting into pensive, circling tones on the final act. 'I've been a part of evil doing' provides a breather between the album's two sides, evoking Steve Reich or Philip Glass, before Crouch shifts into more emotional territory for the two part 'Reconciliation'. Here, he hits a more jubilant tone - closer to My Bloody Valentine's noisy stompbox grind, or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's romantic laptop crunch - and reaches into a ghostly, peaceful shimmer before fading into the aether.
Crouch has found a musical way to process world-defining emotions and experiences, and it shows. Maybe it's not just abstract sound, after all.
Important Records release this early piece by Eliane Radigue, pre-dating her use of synthesizers.
Consisting solely of tape feedback, Vice Versa, etc was conceived in 1970, and originally, the feedback piece was issued in an edition of ten signed and numbered copies containing a magnetic tape and a handwritten note, conveying that the listener is free to experiment with playing the tape back at a variety of different speeds, and in both forwards and backwards directions so as to explore the timbral properties and minutiae of the feedback tone.
In their issue of the piece, Important Records have selected four playback speeds (one disc with the tape going forwards, the other with the tape spooling backwards) corresponding to the settings on tape recorders of the era. These drones are even more minimal and steadied than the works Radigue would go on to record with her ARP 2500 and represent an early manifestation of the creative principles that would go on to govern her better known work.
Eliane Radigue's complete "Opus 17" (1970), her final work created using feedback material.
"With Opus 17, Radigue perfected her slow mixing technique with sublime results. Imperceptible transformations envelop the attentive listener who is confronted with an immensely physical experience. Time is suspended in powerfully poetic and artful ways as Radigue masterfully sculpts the physical matter of sound using feedback for the last time. Opus 17 is an absolutely essential masterpiece in the realm of early electro-acoustic/drone/minimalist composition."
Original score by Jónsi for Tom Clancy’s "Without Remorse".
"Jónsi releases his latest score, for the new Amazon Original movie Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, starring Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner- Smith and Jamie Bell, directed by Stefano Sollima. The score is 23 tracks of pure action, adrenaline and anxiety."
It's impossible to overstate the unique brilliance of Arthur Russell's posthumous release, 'Another Thought'.
Originally issued on Phillip Glass's (then Decca financed) Point Blank label (CD only) a year after Arthur's tragic death in 1993, Another Thought features a mostly bare-boned Russell, his vocals mixed with cello plucks and bowing, occasional percussion and other subtle touches. Almost all the tracks are exclusive to this release, two tracks appeared on the Soul Jazz comp and here you also get an alternative take on the classic 'In the Light Of The Miracle’.
We're not ashamed to admit shedding a tear or two listening to the sheer life-affirming qualities of this record over the years. It's not sad, it's just heart-breakingly beautiful, stripped to the bare essentials of Arthur's voice and cello dappled with effects and backed with his own drum machine, plus congas, sax and keys from longtime collaborators Peter Zummo, Elodie Lauten, and Mustafa Ahmed, among others. In the most transcendent sense, it's music that occupies its very own genre, a magical soundworld all of its own, ready for you to visit when times are good, and perhaps even more so when they're bad.
Although it’s been available on CD, first on that 1994 pressing for Point Music, and later in 2006 for Philip Glass's Orange Mountain Music, the magic is arguably enhanced on wax. It's like finding a new, secret entrance to your favourite place in the world. Even passing Russell fans will likely know a few of its charms such as 'This Is How We walk On The Moon', 'Another Thought' itself, or the alternate version of 'Keeping Up' from 'The World Of...', and we envy those of you about to encounter it for the first time.
Staggering, transcendent composition rescued from the dust of Eliane Radigue's archives by Important Records.
'Transamorem Transmortem' has been virtually unheard since it was first premiered on March 9th, 1974 at The Kitchen in NYC, at an event organised by the venue's music programmer, Rhys Chatham. Like the majority of Eliane's works, it was created with her favoured ARP Synthesizer, and would surely count as one of her most subtle and still pieces - which is quite something, considering her status as an almost peerless master of sonic stasis. Like the very best of her canonical works, she challenges, or heightens, our perceptions of temporal awareness, seemingly expanding carefully organised frequencies or even a single note, or moment, into a meditative stillness with only the slightest of timbral transformations to create a near-unparalleled effect of immersion. If you've ever submitted yourself to one of her compositions before, you'll know what we mean.
Because the piece was originally intended as an installation, it's organised with clearly spatialized high, mid, and low frequencies to be played on a quadrophonic speaker set-up. If you follow the instructions you may well experience the localised physicality of these frequencies quite differently, but we'd equally recommend simple, linear home listening on a stereo setup for enveloping results. Stunning.
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.
The Mill Pond first surfaced in 1997 as a double 7". Over a decade later, Important Records reissue the EP on CD, accompanied by an extensive booklet reproducing Fahey's paintings.
Characteristic of the great guitarist's work from the period, there's little on The Mill Pond to suggest Fahey's past as a curator of ancient Americana. Instead these four pieces, aided by the electronics of Jeff Allman, are far more esoteric, more in line with the Table Of The Elements classic Womblife than those famous early ragtime jaunts. After the spooky, hummed vocals and vacant strums of 'Ghosts', the ten-minuter 'Garbage' spews blasts of noise and buried, tuneless guitar effects in a hypnotic, dazzling swirl. Yet more ear-shredding dissonance is in store during the almost sludge metal-like 'You Can't Cool Off In The Mill Pond, You Can Only Die' which leads into a more considered finale: 'The Mill Pond Drowns Hope', whose digital effects bolster Fahey's lonesome, echoing guitar picking which eventually leads ferociously into a crescendo of eerily bluesy electronics. Another essential Fahey recording from the archives, saved from obscurity by the good folk at Important. Highly Recommended.
Nairobi, Kenya’s KMRU debuts on Mego with a suite of serene ambient scenes after emerging with Four Tet-like electronica releases in 2019 and recently starring on ‘Alternate African Reality - Electronic, Electroacoustic And Experimental Music From Africa And The Diaspora’
Known as Joseph Kamaru to his pals, KMRU was hailed by RA as one of ’15 East African Artists You Need To Hear’ in 2018 and is a regular performer at Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda, beside performing at CTM and Gamma Festival. For his Mego release ‘Peel’ it appears he’s been listening to label hero Fennesz, the Austrian experimental guitarist, or Will Long aka Celer, with whom his tracks share a certain, longing melancholy in their long, sighing arrangements of glistening and creaking ambient pads and mournful post-rock/cienmatic elegance.
“The subtle calming atmosphere within Peel belies the compositional prowess as layers of delicate sounds wrap around each other creating a hybrid new form ambient musics both captivating through it’s textural depth and kaleidoscopic patterns. The track titles lend themselves to the themes and mood set within: Why are you here, Well, Solace, Klang, Insubstantial and the title track. This is a deep heartfelt journey with a new strong voice being expressed through the means of organically presented electronic ambient sounds, one which reveals further layers on repeat listens.”