Gusty prog-jazz fusion from the busy Norwegian lynchpin Hedwig Mollestad, asserting her place in Norway’s pantheon of jazz greats
“Hedvig Mollestad must surely be one of the hardest working musicians on the Norwegian music scene at the moment, with “Tempest Revisited” being her third album in a mere 18 months, all at a consistently high artistic level. Her first solo album, “Ekhidna” (2020), received a Spellemannpris (Norwegian Grammy), appeared on several jazz and rock best of the year lists and got her into Downbeat´s “25 for the future” selection.
“Tempest Revisited” draws lines back to 1998 and the very beginning of Rune Grammofon. This was the year we released “Electric”, the collected electronic works of Arne Nordheim, one of Norway´s greatest composers. It was also the year when parts of “The Tempest”, possibly his most cherished and well-known work, was chosen to be performed at the opening of Parken, the new cultural house in Ålesund, birthplace of Hedvig Mollestad. To celebrate 20 years, the culture house was ready for a new storm, and the first name that came to them was Hedvig, a local artist that was already making waves on the international scene with her power-trio. Hedvig took inspiration from the front of the house, adorned with Nordheim´s score for “The Tempest”, at the same time making a direct connection to the sometime heavy weather conditions of this coastal area in the northwest part of Norway.
One could say it´s a big paradox that over all this might be Hedvig´s most lyrical and less aggressive collection of music. On the other hand it´s quite a dynamic record, lots of light and shade and enough sonic parts at work to evoke the elements, the mighty Gran Cassa drum only one of them. The music included here was adapted from the initial performance in 2018 and produced by Hedvig in the studio the following year for this album release. The musicians included are old friends Marte Eberson from the Ekhidna band, Ivar Loe Bjørnstad from her trio and Trond Frønes (Red Kite) on bass as well as a horn section of three.
Yet another triumph in a more than impressive discography.”
'But Only After You Have Suffered' is a layered and personal new work from multidisciplinary artist, composer, percussionist & producer Jamire Williams.
Following his 2016-released Leaving Records debut, artist and percussionist Jamire Williams expands his craft in widescreen with an album that's a cross between movie soundtrack and mixtape. Ambitious stuff, with guest appearances from Sam Gendel, Carlos Niño, Zeroh, Mic Holden and Josh Johnson.
'But Only After You Have Suffered' fluxes through ideas with a fluidity that's omnipresent in the post beat-scene Cali landscape. Williams cuts movie samples with bell sounds and loops wobbly tape-recorded vocals over his idiosyncratic drumming, and he approaches songs with the scope of a cult director and the record collection of a digger. There's burned-out, post-Madlib rap ('Safe Travels', 'Ugly'), hollowed-out R&B fusion ('When it Gets Dark', 'For the Youth'), even loungey Stereolab vibes ('Bow'), and everything's interspersed with the dusty grandeur of David Axelrod. Fans of Flying Lotus, Tyler The Creator, Dilla or Adrian Younge, check this one.
Powell flicks his coattails and takes to the synthetic piano stool for a suite of ribboning rhythmelodic and tonal scapes inspired by Conlon Nancarrow, David Behrman, Xenakis.
Precisely not what one might have been lead to expect from previous exploits, but also not beyond the realm of possibilities explored in his private label a ƒolder, ‘Piano Music 1-7’ takes a marked step further into non-dancefloor directions; it’s all melody and space, as opposed to driving drums and samples, unexpectedly unleashing a more “musical” side in seven works that craftily play with perceptions of consonance/dissonance and clearly relish the semi-real tone of the basic Grand Steinway sampler at its core.
The seven parts range from expansive to succinct, and progressively diverge from relatively untreated to highly processed abstractions where his meticulous detailing comes into its own. They conceptually lead on from his four albums inspired by a formalisation of music proposed by Xenakis and issued on a ƒolder, applying research into stochastic (random) functions to generate an oddly contemplative music that encourages minds to wander his, and his computer’s, lines of thoughts from the curdled optimism of the opener to the strange interplay of glassy/gloopy textures and helical elision of plangent notes and their surreal reflections in the last.
One for the believers; Holy Other returns with a loooong awaited slash mythical 2nd album, one decade since his singles and debut LP for Tri Angle dominated our lives circa the short lived but influential w*tch house epoch.
‘Lieve’ is the first sign of life from Manchester’s David Ainley, aka Holy Other, since his debut album dropped in 2012 and he promptly appeared to exit stage left, leaving practically no trace of action, save for a 2017 credit on Cashmere Cat’s ‘9’, over the interim. It’s fair to say the legacy of those early records left a big impression with many of us, and would surely influence - whether explicitly or by osmosis - everyone from Andy Stott to AYYA, Space Afrika, Croww, Koreless and DJ Lostboi with his brand of bittersweet electronic blooz, which helped define that era alongside the work of peers such as Evian Christ and The Haxan Cloak. Those latter two have gone on to score Hollywood movies and produce for major rappers, but Holy Other has kept his powder dry ’til now, with lockdown possibly nudging him to reprise that uncannily affective brand of emotional punishment with tear jerking potential.
We’re not gonna lie; the instant gratification of Holy Other’s immaculate 2011 calling card ‘Touch’ has seen us thru some tough times, becoming a real go-to when you just need to feel something, anything. While there’s perhaps no equal to that tune here, ‘Lieve’ feels to better refine its intensely emotive effect to a more slow release appeal diffused across its 10 tracks of instrumental isolationist chamber pop modernism. Between the foggy onset of opening vignette ‘Dirt Under Your Nails’ and the trembling synthetic jaws of its closer ‘Bough Down’, his music has clearly lost none of its capacity to evince strong feelings, taking on an intimately cinematic arc from he skin-tingling developments of the title track, thru harpsichord licks recalling Æ’s ‘Dropp’ in ‘Absolutes’, and the self-evident ‘Heartrendering’, with exquisite, tintinnabulous sound design on ‘Whatever You Are You’re Not Mine’, and gorgeous sorts of post-rave hymnals in ‘Groundless’ and ‘Refuse’, and delivering that surefire piloerect effect on ’Shudder.’
The third proper album from Anthony Child (Surgeon) and Daniel Bean's acclaimed drone project, 'All Skies Have Sounded' is another voyage into esoteric synth-led ambience. Think cosmic new age business, but with teeth - the creeping dread of Cluster and early Tangerine Dream but tangled with Black To Comm's surrealist oddness.
Child and Bean have been regularly churning out syrupy psychedelic drones since their 2016 live appearance at Free Rotation, and with each successive release their music has increased its soft power. "All Skies Have Sounded" was recorded in Spring this year, and is the duo's most confident yet; there's nothing particularly new, but each element has been sculpted and all fat has been trimmed.
Like its predecessors, the album is a mind-splaying celebration of cosmic synthesis, allowing synth drones to bubble, squelch and sway without being subject to melodic phrasing. The duration of each piece (the longest here is an ample 12 minutes) is key to its unraveling, and allows for meditative focus into the texture of the sound. Oscillators are able to rumble and throb, shifting in timbre and subtly filtering in and out of the sonic spectrum.
It's music that requires laser focus - not simply background ambience - and rewards pensive, deep listening.
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."
Veteran US tape scene experimenters Jeph Jerman and percussionist/Quakebasket owner cut-up and collage their touring experiences into a beguiling, Burroughsian maze of tonal and textural shadowplay and mnemonic prods, feat. guest input by Billy Gomberg, Barry Weisblat, Jean-Herve Peron, Zappi Diermaier, Mike Majkowski, Chris Heenan, Joachim Nordwall, Ted Byrnes, Bill Hutson and Mitchell Brown
“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.”
LA ambient noise sculptor Ian Wellman transmutes his experience of lockdown into a schizzy quiet/loud suite, adding to the mountain of feels felt during the past two years
“A note from Ian Wellman: ‘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.”
A hitherto-unreleased electronic masterpiece from Roland Kayn, singular pioneer of cybernetic music. Over a period spanning the late 70s through the early 80s, Kayn (1933–2011) issued a quintet of extended works that quietly but definitively redrew the map of electronic music. Informed by cybernetics and a desire to actualise analogue circuitry as an agency in the compositional process, this music adopted a form that can only be described as oceanic, as side after side of vinyl allowed a wholly new vocabulary of electronic sound to find its shape. This set features a staggering batch of mesmerising computer music realised in 1982-83, roughly between his totemic ‘Infra’ and ‘Tektra’ boxsets. Essential listening for fans of Xenakis, Æ, Cam Deas, Jim O’Rourke, Laurie Spiegel.
As co-founder of the influential Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza (whose members included Egisto Macchi and Ennio Morricone), and an unparalleled pioneer of algorithmic composition, Roland Kayn made an inestimable and arguably unsung contribution to 20th Century music. Now following the acclaimed recent reissue of his jaw-dropping ’Simultan’ (1977) boxset and the 2017 unearthing of ‘A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound’, Kayn’s daughter Ilse has rebooted his Reiger-records-reeks label to unveil ‘Scanning’; a typically brobdingnagian expanse of perpetually amorphous sound generated by unfathomably complex iterations of maths, physics, philosophy and music that advances upon a genuinely post-human conception of sound arrangement.
Remastered from the original tapes by Jim O’Rourke - a long-time disciple of Kayn’s durational works, whose influence can clearly be heard in O’Rourke’s prized ‘Old News’ series - ‘Scanning’ now emerges from a pivotal phase of Kayn’s research/practice to highlight his pioneering grasp of bio-cybernetic communication at its most illusive and elusive. Where ’Simultan’ for example, felt darkly alien, and ’Tektra’ sounds like a black hole, the vast breadth of ‘Scanning’ is best defined by its spectra of impossible, string-like glissandi, cascading in infinitely smooth gradients and tectonic harmonic shifts that recall contemporary examples ranging from Autechre at their broadest (as on the æo³ & ³hæ DVD), thru to the sloshing shape of Cam Deas, and, at times, Dopplereffekt’s immense ‘Calabi Yau Space’ classic taken to Nth degrees.
For those who really like to know what’s going on in the mechanics of Kayn’s music, the boxset is accompanied by Kayn’s own notes, which, while succinct, may still require a Phd in scientific philosophy to properly digest (and same can be said of Massimo Ricci’s fascinating but baffling notes). However, the technical roots of Kayn’s music are not a barrier to entry for anyone with open ears and a taste for actually otherworldly sound. His frighteningly complex grasp of inimitably fluid dynamics and ear-probing tonalities can simply be enjoyed for their richly sensuous qualities and transportive/transcendent potential for altering one’s mindstate, as your grey matter attempts to perceive and compete Kayn’s revelatory series of ever-changing events and alien sonic scenarios. Trust this can have profound effects whether consumed when under the influence of psychedelic substances, or not.
We encourage anyone with the time, funds, and curiosity to immerse themselves in Roland Kayn’s non pareil computer music for some of the most unforgettable, enigmatic, and strangely life-affirming sonic visions imaginable.
Masters of sinister whimsy NWW are at their mind-spanking best in this session, recorded at The Great Monster Dada, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo 2019
Revolving around the core trio of Andrew Liles, Colin Potter and Steven Stapleton, NWW playthru a glacial, elemental 48 minutes of slanted swirl and slompy pulses with masterful psychedelic traction that really hits the spot. Titled in dadaist style befitting of the occasion, ‘3 Lesbian Sardines’ portrays them in synchronous, queasy harmony, flowing purposefully forth from melodically and rhythmically sensual urges to far more ratty atonality in an ideal expo of their inimitable breadth of palette and hallucinatory scope.
Potter’s signature, spongiform, raga-esque swirl of electronic textures weave with gotham city sirens in the initial induction of ‘Transference (Did Marcel Steal Elsa’s Urinal?)’, before they congeal into a swaying krautrock pulse led by lushly searching guitar lines and swarmed by spectral interferences and poltergeist noise on ‘Weimar Drill Head (Flea Circus)’, bringing us to a remarkable mid-way movement of almost D&B-like steppers pulse recalling DJ Krust-via-Conrad Schnitzler in the 12 minute title section that’s worth cost of admission alone. From here in it all breaks down and malfunctions in the best way, cogs crumblings and springs pinging as the machine whirs out of control into sheeting guitar noise in ‘Doing What We Are Told Makes Us Free’, and riffing on the star fucking schpangled banner in the ultimate collapse of ‘Broken America’.
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.
Iranian-Canadian brothers Mohammad and Mehdi Mehrabani-Yeganeh harness the fourth world power of Jon Hassell and the spannered, electrified weirdness of New York's short-lived illbient genre on this exceptional, eccentric voyage into stateless sound. RIYL DJ Spooky, Bill Laswell, Moor Mother, Supersilent...
Over the last few years, Saint Abdullah have been quietly cooking some of the most intense genre-distorting experimental music we've heard from NYC in ages. Their PTP run - 2018's "Stars Have Eyes" and last year's "Where Do We Go, Now?" - established them as key players in the city's musical landscape, and this two volume follow-up (the second part is a cassette on Important's sublabel Cassauna) is their most convincing statement yet.
On "To Live A La West", the brothers lean into the spiritual and political fluctuation of free jazz, effortlessly melting it into their established fractured electronic backdrop. So virtuoso instrumental performance takes a front seat, whether it's Panamanian trumpeter Aquiles Navarro on subdued opening track 'A Lot of Kings', British sax legend John Butcher improvising over stuttering beats on 'Like A Great Starving Beast' or Mohammad and Mehdi themselves inhabiting a space between Alice Coltrane and Florian Fricke on cosmic jazz burners like 'Philly' or 'Nocturnal Pool Party'.
The album is a subtle statement on western living; Mohammad and Mehdi grew up in Iran but were shuttled to Canada by their parents when they were kids. So they reflect on the choices they made for acceptance, for "a life lived with less tension". "But who are we imitating?" they ask. The brothers take American music history and reconfigure it in their own mode: levitational spiritual jazz becomes as emotionally affecting as Middle Eastern classical music, and blown-out, freeform electronics that owe as much to the post-punk era as they do The Bronx, sound as cybernetic and expertly wrought as Sote's "Parallel Persia". At times their production takes on the cadence of gutter-blasted IDM, refined with the free-flowing immediacy of Rune Grammafon's Supersilent.
It's hard to express how well engineered and perfectly cooked this sound is. Fusion is a tough thing to get right - a quick dip into NYC's restaurant culture will assure you of that - but when it's good, it sounds like everything you love all at once - and nothing quite like anything you've heard before.
Deadly deep dive into the legendary artillery of Ghana’s Essiebons label during a golden and influential era of West African music
Parsed from the power house label’s hundreds of releases between 1973-1984, there’s pure pressure for any self-respecting dancefloor here, running proper organ-fired heaters from a crack squad, including multiple zingers by Joe Meah, at best in the wigged-out vamps of ‘Ahwene Pa Nkasa’, beside a haul of Ernest Honny aces, including the suave ‘Kofi Psych’, his swirling groove ‘Say The Truth’, and the pen-on-pot Afro-Latinate percussion of ‘Odo Mframa.’
And it would be remiss of us to neglect the choppy psych-funk killer ‘Yeaba’ from CK Mann & His Carousel 7, or the fiery bustle of Nyame Bekyere, and jeeeez those breaks on ‘Wonnin a Bisa’ by Black Masters Band or Sawaaba Soundz’ ‘Egye Tu Gbe.’
Perennially bewildering polymath Akira Rabelais unveils the most impressive durational work of his career thus far with a 4 hour smudge of classical works by the musical zeitgeist of the late 19th and early 20th century Belle Époque. It’s a highly enigmatic erosion x sublimation of the familiar in a way that's by now etched into modern canon thanks to works by The Caretaker, but Rabelais has been weaving his own uncanny shroud of infidelity over our collective memory for over two decades now, with this extended set somehow managing to play like a homage to the mixtape, to the novel, to French pre-war culture and to the modern malaise all at once. Deeply immersive, stunning work that’s essential listening if yr into works by The Caretaker x William Basinski.
The focus of the set covers the time period and culture around Proust’s 'À la recherche du temps perdu’ novels, and attempts to unravel his fascination with the illusive qualities of memory - most famously identified in his notion of “Proust’s madelaines”, outlined in the eponymous novels that inspired this release. Taking fifty-one works by Bartók, Bellini, Berg, Brahms, Caccini, Chausson, Chopin, Debussy, Delibes, Donizetti, Franck, Hahn, Jungmann, Lully, Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Satie, Schoenberg, Schubert, Schumann, Scriabin, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Wagner, and Weber, Rabelais uses his Argeïphontes Lyre software, as well as specially commissioned new recordings (Bartók's String Quartet No. 2 was recorded specifically for this album at half speed with minimal dynamics) to play with our perception of time via a prism of distortions and subliminal refractions.
In an attempt to breathe in the same creative air as the French author, Rabelais’ distils the creative potential of sound in relation to our cultural fabric; everyone knows these pieces, despite precious few of us having lived in Paris in the 1920s. They're the background sound and building blocks of our culture, from cinema to advertising, but secreted in the music’s play of decaying reverbs, you get an uneasy sense of some unknown spectre floating thru the mists of time.
Stunning, multidimensional work from a master of the artform.
Can's live series continues with another pit-taped psychedelic sesh from 1975, following Spring's release of "Live in Stuttgart 1975". Unhinged music that captures the Krautrock pioneers at their most vital - outside of the studio, performing in front of a crowd of weirdos.
By 1975, Can's studio juice was running dry. That year's 'Landed' was a far cry from '71's "Tago Mago" - after losing idiosyncratic vocalist Damo Suzuki, their recorded music began to take on a more boxed-in sound. But as "Live in Stuttgart 1975" demonstrates, they were still just as ragged and rough around the edges. Like its predecessor, "Live in Brighton 1975" is another privately taped recording, remastered under the watchful eye of Can co-founder Irmin Schmidt.
It sounds exceptional given the covert nature of the recording, which is a testament to the equipment used to clean it up and producer Rene Tinner's keen ear. Split into seven sprawling sections, it features material that never made it to Can's recorded catalogue - we're guessing it may not have even been performed again - and most interesting for Can devotees, it features a rare (indistinct) vocal from guitarist Michael Karoli and an epic drum solo from Jaki Liebezeit.
With sleeve notes from Rob Young and journalist Kris Needs, it's a well assembled package that fleshes out the Can story into new dimensions.
15 years on from its original release, Studio One Groups remains one of the toughest of all Soul Jazz/Studio One releases and features some of the biggest groups in the history of Reggae including Bob Marley and The Wailers, Toots and the Maytals and The Heptones who all began their careers at 13 Brentford Road, under the guidance of the great producer and label owner Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd.
"Featuring many, many classic and killer tunes from The Wailing Souls, Carlton and His Shoes, The Gladiators, The Ethiopians, The Mad Lads and more. Studio One Groups brings together numerous classic artists alongside a number of rarities and delves into Studio One’s musical output in its prime in the 1960s and 70s featuring Ska, Roots, Rocksteady, Dub and more. Clement Dodd’s role in launching and nurturing Reggae groups and singers is unsurpassed and Studio One’s success was due to Dodd’s ability to see talent, surround himself with it and nurture artists.
Launching Bob Marley and The Wailers career at Studio One also meant housing Marley in a flat in the studio compound, as well as employing Marley in an A&R role, checking out the latest American soul and jazz 45s that came out for Studio One artists to cover. In similar fashion Leroy Sibbles, lead vocalist with the Heptones, became the key in-house bass player after being taught from scratch by Jackie Mittoo.
Studio One Groups were at the heart of the label’s success. The sweet three-part harmonies, so close to the heart of Jamaican music, can be heard throughout every stylistic change of Reggae music – Ska, Rocksteady, Roots and beyond - all of which are featured here in all their vocalised glory.
The album comes with excellent informative sleevenotes by the author and Studio One discographer Rob Chapman, and exclusive photography including the stunning colour picture of Bob Marley and the Wailers on the front of the release."
A strong look for anyone snagged on Mihály Víg’s Bela Tarr OST side, Colin Stetson, or Goblin’s giallo scores; Swiss-Bosnian accordionist Mario Batkovic moves between cinematic choral works and swirling folk-jazz electronic fusions on a captivating 3rd solo side
Batkovic’s 2nd album with Geoff Barrow’s Invada powerhouse is a melodramatic tour de force of brooding east and central European themes handled with emotive vigour. The head of the BeBa Orchestra and a skilled accordionist, he brings a masterful flair for shifting cinematic moods and soundscaping to ‘Introspectio’, leading in with the hauntingly stark choral arrangement of ‘Sanatio’ and cutting sharp left into swingeing jazz breaks and quickstep, keening accordion with thrilling style on ‘Repertio’, intruding electronics to the mix with a carmine-stained Goblin-esque feel in the needling arps of ‘Chorea Duplex’.
The 10 minute centrepiece of widescreen drones glacially brings his various elements together in a pensive vision that feels like Colin Stetson scoring a sped up Bela Tarr scene, with pulsing tones bleeding over ‘Surrogatum’ into smartly tempered dissonance. An elegiac then rushing accordion coda in ‘Primordial Finale’ lends an ideal closing sequence that wraps up his narrative in a satisfyingly succinct manner that makes the whole thing ideal for colouring your commute with a brilliant sense of drama, or however one sees fit to use it.
The eternally evocative and enigmatic concept of black holes fuels the musical imagination of Dr. Valery Vermulen on his debut mission for CM Von Hauswolff’s Ash International - RIYL Roland Kayn, Heinrich Mueller, Thomas Köner, Mika Vainio
Just over 100 years since German physicist and astronomer Karl Schwarzchild theoretically discovered and proposed the idea of black holes - a region of spacetime where gravity is so strong that nothing — no particles or even electromagnetic radiation such as light — can escape from it - the mathematician-artist Dr. Valery Vermulen takes advantage of subsequent scientific research data to model and sonify a multidimensional sound experience akin to passing out in deep space. Cynics may say this stuff is up its own black hole, but lovers of free-floating, spatialized electronics will be in their element when following the music’s path into next level oblivion.
“Black holes were first theoretically discovered and proposed in 1916 by German physicist and astronomer Karl Schwarzchild. Their possible existence resulted from an exact solution Schwarzchild had found of Einstein's theory of General Relativity published a year earlier. Being a long-contested concept, the existence of the first black hole, Cygnus X, was confirmed in 1971. Four decades later, in February 2016, science made another huge leap as the first merger of two black holes was observed by the LIGO – VIRGO telescope. This discovery announced a new exciting era in observational astronomy based on gravitational wave detection.
Using the latest technology, Mikromedas AdS/CFT 001 connects these fascinating scientific evolutions to the realm of electronic music. Having worked on previous astrophysics related musical projects, Vermeulen had the first idea for the album in 2016. It was not until 2018 that these conceptual ideas became a reality when Concertgebouw Brugge (BE) commissioned a new musical piece and live show for their Cosmos Festival. This work ultimately resulted in the album Mikromedas AdS/CFT 001.
The six-track album is produced using data streams generated by various simulation models of astrophysical black holes and observational data of regions in space with extreme gravitational fields.
Data used for the realization of Mikromedas AdS/CFT 001 includes gravitational wave data, data generated by black branes (i.e. higher dimensional generalizations of black holes), neutron star data, data from white dwarfs and trajectory data of elementary particles near black holes.
As a mathematician and artist, Vermeulen effectively designed and programmed new innovative data sonification, i.e. the means to translate data into sound and music, systems and techniques. These were used to transform black hole data and their associated mathematical models into engaging, moving and multidimensional sound experiences.”
Magisterial, psilocybic stuff from Windy City electro-acoustic explorer Olivia Block, returning to Room 40 with a filmic new album inspired by mushy trips during lockdown.
‘Innocent Passage in the Territorial Sea’ plots out a mental projection of pulsating Mellotron synth scapes that build on over 20 years of diverse practice involving composition for chamber instrumentation, field recording and explorative synthesis, as released by esteemed labels such as Sedimental, NNA Tapes, and Another Timbre. Reflecting on a process of listening “somatically”, as inspired by her “regular practice of listening with intention while on psychedelic mushrooms”, the results form an escape pod from lockdown, shaped into something like a sort of “speculative science fiction film” that now firmly lends themselves to use as your own shuttle to other dimensions.
Using the warped tonal colour of a broken Mellotron synth, Olivia was drawn to its low end possibilities which underline and propel the album from its elegant lift off ‘Axiolite’ across the oceanic ‘Laika’ to really take flight with heart-in-mouth sensation on the Alessandro Cortini-esque grandeur of ‘Great Northern, 34428’, and with Eleh-like thrum nagged by icicular patterns in ‘En Echelon’. The narrative takes a more blissed turn into keening new agey chamber styles like a frosty Laraaji with ‘Through Houses’ and ultimately leads up to the iridescent ice caves of the album’s 10 min climax ‘Rivers in Reverse’ where she acts as chilly fleshly conduit for the Mellotron’s off kilter voice to really sing out its strange dream.
Justin Cantrell's debut J album finds him skating into delicate locations, marrying faded piano and delicate electronics with gusty radio static and frozen pads. The CD edition features remixes from Laila Sakini, Fia Fell, mu tate, Nico Callaghan and Grace Ferguson.
Cantrell is better known for his recordings under the Ju Ca moniker, or his collaborations with mdo as picnic. As J, he reduces his sound to a whisper, gently manipulating environmental hums and crackles into a poetic wisp of harmony and microscopic sound. "my seat and week" is an album that requires close listening, and when you focus your attention, the details make themselves present. Like the lilting rhythm Cantrell extracts from piano on the title track, disturbing the natural pacing of the keys by digitally stuttering the sounds, or the faint sine chimes on 'you take each others breath away...' that beat quietly beneath an insectoid hum. Subtle spoken word from Angelina Nonaj elevate 'more room to breathe in', slipping between the gaps in Cantrells piano, while cello from Abby Sundborn gives a melancholy distance to 'a healing tear'.
But it doesn't quite end there, Cantrell has assembled an intriguing list of collaborators to re-interpret the album's songs. Experiences Ltd's mu tate refracts the electroid dub bliss of January's "let me put myself together" on his remix of 'yellow leaf flutters on a nail'. Laila Sakini doesn't disappoint either, pushing Sundborn's cello from 'a healing tear' into the foreground and allowing it to sink slowly into a bath of crackly field recordings and woozy analog synth. Pianist and composer Grace Ferguson's version of the album's title track is more restrained and allows the gossamer piano to crane itself out of the shadows.
All together it's a varied set, that highlights Cantrell's community approach to his craft - the warmth is palpable.
Brooding forces lead Skelton’s bowed cello, woodwind, cymbals and piano on his latest stunner for hiw own Corbel Stone Press.
Richard Skelton offers a fine soundtrack to the current low pressure system hovering over the land with a rumbling chamber drone suite primed for watching the weather from more comfortable surroundings. By this point in his singular oeuvre you know what to expect from him and he doesn’t disappoint on ‘a guidonian hand’, allowing the elements to osmotically seep into the skin of his sound with beautifully sore and evocative results sprawling over its ten-part soundscape.
Skelton uses his instruments to paint widescreen sound images with a lush but bittered flourish between recordings made across 2020/21, vacillating into shorter, fleeting sketches with more immersive tracts in a haunting play of light and shadow, granite textures and moistened, rolling meadows. There’s a notable electronic accent and emphasis to proceedigns that place it in this century at least, with a stressed tone in its expansive centrepiece ‘In Ancient Fabricks’ that really hits home somewhere between the gentler, more romantic side of Yellow Swans and Gabe Midnel’s follow-up projects, all underpinned by that low-end rumble that's full of uneasy menace.
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.
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.
Dizzying multi-instrument devotional jams based on Afro-Arab sufi trance music from Tunisian percussionist Houeida Hedfi, assisted by production from The Knife's Olof Dreijer.
When Hefdi picked up drumming for the first time, she was already an established academic, working in economics and mathematics. But her inquisitive interest in Afro-Arab sufi trance music led her towards percussion, and she began touring alongside teaching, reaching out to Tunisian violin player Radhi Chaouali and Palestinian bouzouk player Jalal Nader, for a nine years stretch touring back and forth across Europe and North Africa.
In 2011, Hefdi met Olof Dreijer when he visited Tunisia during the production of a compilation of music composed by local women, and he agreed to produce her album. The result is a work that's decidedly modern, but intrinsically linked to Tunisian folk traditions. Hefdi was insistent that the music should use Arabic quarter tones, but the compositions aren't an exercise in simply looking to the past - her music nods to classical minimalism, contemporary post-classical sounds and modern electronic music.
The first handful of tracks express her classical influence strongly - the lengthy 'Envol du Mékong' folds in Philip Glass-style organs into expressive piano playing and bowed strings before erupting into percussive Tunisian styles. In the album's second half, the lid is blown off as Hefdi allows herself to flex a little, experimenting with drums and electronics. 'Echos de Medjerda' is a clear highlight, balancing subtle processes with trance-inducing percussive loops, and 18-minute closer 'Cheminement du Tigre' is the record's most mind-bending moment, creating a singular mood with bells, electronics, drums and evocative pads.
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
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.
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."
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.
Recorded in Heliopolis Egypt between 1968 and 1973, 'Egyptian Jazz' sees the seamless knitting of cultural maxims - with the musical traditions of the North Arabian region of Africa overlapping Western jazz to intoxicating effect. Proper headmelt this one.
Given the interconnected world in which we now live, it's becoming an increasingly rare commodity for any music to remain under the radar longer than it takes for the Youtube algorithm to fling things your way. Yet whilst access to such vast tributaries of music is undoubtedly a good thing, it can take the fun out of hunting down long lost gems and bijou classics - with everything long dissected and consumed by the broiling blog community. It therefore comes with great pleasure to introduce a genuine find that will have your ears blossoming with dusty joy, as Salah Ragab and the Cairo Jazz Band create the kind of music which is vital, immediate and swelling with energy and scope.
Chief of the Military Music Department, Salah Ragab had at his disposal a vast retinue of musicians (almost 3,000!) all versed in the aural language of marches and national anthems, but with little knowledge of the more fluid aspects of contemporary jazz. From this foundation Ragab went on to carve a sound that is at once familiar and completely alien, using his own skills on the drums to inform and sculpt the vivacious music on offer.
Unreasonably broad in its scope, the twenty-five or so musicians involved were essentially anointed full-time jazz mercenaries by the military top-brass. Intuitive and dripping in talent, the opening 'Ramadan In Space Time' sets out their stall perfectly - as a traditional Baza drum rattles into life and soon becomes engulfed by stomping percussion and the kind of ribald horns that simultaneously combine upfront bluster and emotional nuance. 'Dawn' re-imagines a relihgious tract through a 6/8 rhythm and throbbing horns that raise the temperature in frenzied style.
From here the treats keep coming, with 'Neveen' (featuring Ragab's then six year old daughter on bass) bursting into life on top of a sparkling compote of traditional and New York-rooted percussion, 'Oriental Mood' looks to the far-east for inspiration, whilst 'Kleopatra' revolves around a flutter of horns and rhythms.
An unbridled pleasure from beginning to end. King Tut!
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.