Sublime dream-pop beauty from Colleen, a gorgeous and crucial push and pull of experimental urges and pop immediacy. Make sure to check the brain-dancing percolations of ‘Another World’ and her exquisitely off-kilter title track. RIYL Arthur Russell, Teresa Winter, Delia Derbyshire...
Recorded in the wake of the 2015 Paris attack, which occurred just as she was visiting, A Flame My Love, A Frequency, finds Colleen setting aside her trusted viola de gamba to incorporate a Critter & Guitari pocket piano synthesiser and newly acquired Moog filter pedal into her feathered dub propulsion system, buoying her reflections on life and death, and bird-watching, with a creamy, bubbling backdrop that’s perhaps at odds, or even in defiance of personal strife in the preceding year.
Described in avian swoops, zig-zagging arpeggios and aerial shimmers, she flies the fine line between sorrow and beauty in a way that reflects that brutality and grace of the natural world as much as the scenes of Parisian cafes under blue skies which would turn into a bloodbath only hours later. This dichotomy lies at the heart of A Flame My Love, A Frequency, as Colleen navigates a flux of strong feelings between the exquisite instrumental melancholy of November thru to the title track’s plaintive cubist folk keen, emulating the sensation of flapping your wings hard against the headwind with Separating, and offering a sublime, necessary space for introspection with Summer Night (Bat Song), whilst the gently frothing, pizzicato piquancy of The Stars vs Creatures and One Warm Spark lend a more optimistic spin in their wistful shimmers, crucially not forgetting to dream in the face of so much shite.
Brian Shimkovitz returns to SA with pure house heat from Professor Rhythm. Check for infectiously slower parallels to the NYC garage/house and New Beat phenomenon of the late ‘80s in the strident, acidic ‘Leave Me Alone’, the piano house lixx of ‘Kancane Kancane’ and the tuffer push of ‘Zama Zama’
“Professor Rhythm is the production moniker of South African music man Thami Mdluli. Throughout the 1980’s, Mdluli was member of chart-topping groups Taboo and CJB, playing bubblegum pop to stadiums. Mdluli became an in-demand producer for influential artists (like Sox and Sensations, among many others) and in-house producer for important record companies like Eric Frisch and Tusk. During the early '80s, Mdluli projects usually featured an instrumental dance track. These hot instrumentals became rather popular. Fans demanded to hear more of these backing tracks without vocals, he says, so Mdluli began to make solo instrumental albums in 1985 as Professor Rhythm. He got the name before the recordings began, from fans, and positive momentum from audiences and other musicians drove him to invest himself in a full-on solo project. It was the era just before the end of apartheid and house music hadn’t taken over yet. There wasn’t instrumental electronic music yet in South Africa. As the '80s came to a close, that was about to change.
Professor Rhythm productions mirror the evolution of dance music in South Africa. They grew out of the bubblegum mold—which itself stems from band’s channeling influences like Kool & the Gang and the Commodores—into something based on music for the club. His early instrumental recordings First Time Around and Professor 3 mostly distilled R&B, mbaqanga and bubblegum grooves into vocal-less pieces for the dance floor. Musically, these were a success and commercially the albums all went gold. There were countless bubblegum albums flooding the marketplace, with nearly disposable vocalists backed by mostly similar-sounding rhythm tracks. Most of the lyrical content was light and apolitical. But the keyboards used formed the musical basis for what would come next.”
Visionist returns with his combustible 2nd album, Values; an intense meditation on themes of “machismo and effeminacy, self-deprecation and self-love”. The results are blisteringly compelling and affective quite unlike muxh else in circulation, bar maybe Arca’s music.
After leaving an uncanny impression with his debut album Safe for PAN, which was his bold attempt at modelling and resolving the onset and dissipation of anxiety or panic attacks - and perhaps circumvent the safe-ness of so much other music from the UK grime and electronic scene - this time he moves forward, emboldened by that experience to ‘fess up searing emotions in a way not normally associated with grime, or even cisgendered blokes for that matter.
At this point, we’re not even sure if it is grime anymore, as he’s seemingly transcended to somewhere else entirely, dissolving its stylistic rigidity and entangling elements of classical composition, computer music and trance into bold new forms in order to better convey his feelings and art. In doing so, and by grasping thornier issues head on - albeit in abstract style - he leaves himself vulnerable to critical value systems not usually associated with the club and road paradigms of grime, and does so with admirably unflinching, steadfast conviction.
Of course, without accompanying context listeners may not be aware of all that, but context in this kind of art is important, and when held up against it, the outpouring of emotive chamber keys and megadome trance gestures in instrumental songs such as Homme and Made In Hope sorely live up the conceptual thrust, while the album’s sole (human) vocal track Your Approval channels it ambiguously thru Rolynne’s gender fluid R&B voice. Likewise, his roiling, blasted rhythms undermine grime’s rigidity - which have pretty much become pop currency, not underground and experimental like they once were - on the convulsive New Obsession and No Idols in an almost sado-masochistic manner.
Just like Safe, there’s a a density of detail and information in Value that’s going to take a while to settle in, but it ain’t hard to tell this is a viscerally thrilling, refreshing piece of work which stands out far from the field, for what it’s worth.
Stephen O’Malley picks up the enchanted duo of Andrew Chalk and Timo Van Lujik for their immersive 12th release of shimmering chamber music as the cultishly adored Elodie. Since 2010 Elodie have stealthily charmed pretty much all who’ve crossed their path, whether on record through the Faraway Press and La Scie Dorée label, or in their achingly quiet and mesmerising live performances.
With Vieux Silence, Ideologic Organ takes the honour of issuing Elodie’s first material outside of their own labels, building on a relationship formed after they performed, alongside Jessica Kenney and Eyvind Kang, at an event in London curated by O’Malley. Naturally that night stuck in his memory, as O’Malley recounts; “Elodie's performance was among the most delicately engaging and savant I have witnessed… so very quiet, with snow falling in London outside Cafe Oto's windows, the audience palpably entered a high intensity listening focus. The impression of this vivid memory is striking, considering how spare each of the individual elements present that night were.”
Coincidentally, our first encounter with Elodie was a live performance, too (cheers, Sam!). And snow aside, it was almost exactly as O’Malley recalls, keeping us perched, rapt for the duration like nothing we’d ever heard before. Even better, their records somehow capture that quiet intensity perfectly, as you’ll hear on the beautiful example of Vieux Silence.
Accompanied by in/frequent collaborators Tom James Scott (piano), Jean-Noël Rebilly (clarinette) and Daniel Morris (steel pedal guitar), Elodie’s 12th release renders 41 minutes of their sublime music that will leave connoisseurs of quiet music agape at the telepathic levels of control and ineffable coherence in their improvisations, unfurling as a sort of oneiric, watercoloured tableaux of genteel jazz strokes, electro-acoustic spectres and chamber-like gestures.
Lovers of anything from Badalamenti soundtracks and Bohren And Der Club of Gore, to Cotton Goods or Ryuichi Sakamoto owe themselves time with Elodie, and this is great place to start.
On Lee Gamble’s stunning first major work since Koch , the rave dreamer reawakens to decode and interpret his hallucinations for Hyperdub, coming to terms with the idea of Mnestic Pressure - a confluence of individual and collective pressures on contemporary memory - in an astonishly febrile, vivid collision and projection of jungle and ambient structures.
With his move to Hyperdub following a string of modern classics for PAN, Lee Gamble has effectively reset his sound to realise a more intricate, restless matrix of ideas that seems to emulate the sound of a mind that’s too wired to sleep, rushing from an overload of inputs which it struggles to make sense of. In this case the struggle is perfectly sur/real, making the listener unsure of whether he’s awake or dreaming, or perhaps experiencing some combination of the two ostensibly opposing states of mind.
As with his previous releases, Mnestic Pressure finds Lee acting as a conduit or plugged in psychopomp, absorbing the physical and mental pressures of life in London and online, and then transmuting, firming up those feelings in an elusively abstract style that conveys the daily bombardment of the senses, and by turns the memory, in a way which the written word will never fully capture.
But in a marked departure from earlier releases, Mnestic Pressure reveals a subtle but decisive shift away from straighter 4/4 patterns towards a constant, broken flux of meters and velocities which can perhaps be heard to reflect the shift in popular perception of time as a linear sequence, to a more complex, difficult-to-grasp weave of timelines which expand and contract, sometimes folding in on themselves or short circuiting in a sort of Déjà vu or jolting hypnic jerks.
It’s really best consumed from front-to-back in order to really allow that tempestuous momentum to take hold, as it plays out like a live or DJ set in some of the more slippery passages, especially the psychoacoustic smudge between East Sedducke, 23 bay Flips and Swerva, and the deft transitions from You Hedonic’s amniotic suspension to the glancing arrhythmic ballistics of UE8, but the DJs will also find very useful parts to extract in the Rian Treanor-meets-Demdike Stare flex of Ignition Lockoff, and his absolutely deadly jungle bullet, Ghost.
For our money, it’s Lee’s most essential release since Diversions 1994-1996.
SAICOBAB are the Japanese quartet comprised of acclaimed vocalist YoshimiO (Boredoms, OOIOO), Yoshida Daikiti (sitar), Akita Goldman (bass) and acclaimed in Japan Motoyuki ‘Hama’ Hamamoto (percussion, gamelan).
"SAICOBAB masterfully blend traditional Indian music with melodies and unexpected rhythms using unorthodox instrumentation to create utterly distinct modern ragas.
On their debut album ‘SAB SE PURANI BAB’, YoshimiO’s leaping, animated, effected vocal melodies dance fluidly through Daikiti’s intricate sitar patterns. The entrancing synergy of Goldman and Hama’s rhythmic pulse drives and shapes the aptly named SAICOBAB’s sound to one that is at once rooted in ancient tradition and wholly new. YoshimiO has been a trendsetter as a member of OOIOO and Boredoms for over three decades. She has collaborated with Kim Gordon and Sean Lennon, has been featured on the covers of The Wire and The Fader and The Flaming Lips named an album after her.
“In the seemingly impenetrable, fantastic murkiness of Japanese experimental psych pop, more often than not,Yoshimi has been a beacon.” - FADER (cover)"
Whoa, like: this is a kinda stunning debut album from 77 year old American photographer and legend William Eggleston, a contemporary of Andy Warhol in the ‘70s, who has been quietly recording himself for decades. ‘Music’ is nothing less than an American Dream recording..
“Native Memphian William Eggleston, 77, who is widely regarded to be the most important photographer of the late 20th Century, presents his debut record, Musik.
It was during Eggleston’s Sumner, Mississippi childhood, where he discovered the piano in the parlor that ignited in him a lifelong passion for music. It was a passion he carried forth his entire life, playing quite adeptly when a piano was handy: improvised turns on Bach, Handel, gospel, country, and popular selections from the Great American Songbook for friends and family. Though his travels found him rubbing elbows with Andy Warhol‘s Factory superstars in New York, where he lived for several years with Viva at the Chelsea Hotel, and observing a music scene in Memphis that included Big Star’s Alex Chilton, and his old friend and owner of Ardent Studios, engineer Jon Fry, his own music went largely unheard by the general public.
In the 1980’s, Eggleston, who disdained digital cameras and modernity in general, became surprisingly fascinated with a synthesizer, the Korg OW/1 FD Pro, which had 88 piano-like keys, and in addition to being able to emulate the sound of any instrument, also contained a four-track sequencer that allowed him to expand the palette of his music, letting him create improvised symphonic pieces, stored on 49 floppy discs, encompassing some 60 hours of music from which this 13 track recording was assembled.
Eggleston lives today in a small apartment off Memphis’ Overton Park that he shares with a 9-foot Bosendorfer grand piano and an arsenal of ultra-high fidelity audio equipment, some of which was designed by his son, William Eggleston III. The synthesizer, alas, is broken and stubbornly refuses to be repaired, so for the purpose of this project another was purchased in order to be able to play back the floppy discs, which, along with a handful of DATs and other digital media, though frail, were digitized and mastered for this and future releases.
Mr. Eggleston often says that he feels that music is his first calling, as much a part of him, at least, as his photography. We take special pride in allowing the world to hear this side of a great artist who may now be rightly called a great musician.”
Sugai Ken follows in the vein of RVNG Intl’s Visible Cloaks release with an exquisite meditation on traditional Japanese percussion and 4th world electronics ruptured by unpredictable runs into more abstract terrain. RIYL YMO/Haruomi Hosono, Visible Cloaks, Foodman...
UkabazUmorezU works like a stage set or a variegated series of sonic scenarios, at once smartly demonstrating his compositional versatility as well as a dilated vision of the connections between Japanese tradition and western-rooted electro-acoustic practice. In a way it resonates with Visible Cloaks’ perspective on Japanese electronics as much as Foodman’s dextrous mutations of Chicago footwork, but still it’s weirder and more enigmatic than either of them.
In his own words, UkabazUmorezU is intended to reflect a “style that conjures [the] subtle and profound ambience of night in Japan.” Arguably, for someone who has never visited or experienced night in Japan (us), it does so as richly as a Murakami novel, sensitively using electronic instruments and process to emulate and evoke an intimate sense of the spiritual, supernatural recalling the effect of, say, Kenji Kawai’s Ghost In The Shell OST, but again, with a more elusive, amorphous and playful quality of his own.
Ultimately it’s a beautifully and subtly suggestive album, skillfully making use of pregnant lacnuæ and negative space, but also riddled with flighty melodic figures, and prone to wonderfully disorienting jump-cuts that ping us from serene garden and temple scenes to stranger, bestial ginnels of the Japanese mindset with an effortless sleight-of-hand.
Rod Modell returns to Soma with a slow-baked batch of rolling dub techno in Auratone some two years since Ultraviolet Music and reissues of myriad, related projects over the interim.
This is full fat DeepChord, swollen with bass and bristling with combustible, oxidising textures that their legion disciples will relish. Includes some sweeter highlights in the roving subs and dancing melodies of Wind In Trees and the insistent mesh of ghostly, pealing partials with pneumatic bass in Point Reyes.
“A foray into deep, organic, cinematic dance music. Subterranean bass, intercepted alien transmissions, and stripped down dance-beats meld with sheets of sounds that roll over the listener like waves lapping up on the shore. Shimmering, watery, brain hemisphere synchronization tones caress and melt stress away. Dance floor friendly tracks that work equally well in one s private listening space. Immersive music with a distinctive aquatic quality. Inspired by Detroit & Berlin s dance genres, but tempered by more ambience / atmosphere than one would expect from those genres. Music without harshness or rough edges. Fuzzy, out-of-focus, soft-sounds that slip in and out of the listener's consciousness.
Uniquely melds current dance rhythms with lushness and spirituality. Synesthetic sounds that trigger sensory experiences in cognitive pathways other than hearing smells of perfumes, thoughts of colours, and altered perception of time and space. Psychoacoustic, cerebral, electronic listening music for those wanting a different experience than the current harsher, darker dance trends are offering. Responsibly made gentle music designed from the ground-up to have a positive effect on the nervous system and leave the listener invigorated and recharged. Chi-building sonic balm. Timeless, exotic dance tracks for a new school of electronic music enthusiasts who are searching for beautiful sounds, crafted with a higher purpose in mind.”
Following the Turkish collaboration of Dalmak and the more rock-inflected Lost Voices, Esmerine embarked on a soundtrack commission for the National Film Board documentary "Freelancer on the Front Line" (about independent journalism in the Middle East), which also led to a deep dive into archival and previously unreleased recordings.
Sessions for the film soundtrack provided various seeds for a new album concept and composing/recording continued rolling into early 2017, informed by anxiety over the reactionary, regressive, seemingly irresolvable disharmony of human oppression/domination and the ever-accelerating degradation / denial of nature and social justice. Stylistically, Mechanics Of Dominion took shape with mallet instruments brought more to the fore (relative to Esmerine’s previous two outings): marimba, piano and amplified music box provide a more prominent through-line on this new album's otherwise quite diverse material. Multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson's contributions also continue to shape Esmerine's songwriting to an ever greater extent – his stately melodic lines on horns and acoustic strings are bracing, compelling elements in the ceremonious lyricism and keening vitality of this new song cycle. And the album revisits and further develops two previously recorded and heretofore unreleased pieces (the origins of the modernist piano, string and horn piece "Northeast Kingdom" date back to some of Esmerine’s earliest recordings in the mid-2000s; the sizzling free-improv of "¡Que Se Vayan Todos!" was captured during the Dalmak sessions.)
Mechanics Of Dominion is perhaps Esmerine's most dynamic and narratively-driven work, tracing an arc through Neo/Post--Classical, Minimalism, Modern Contemporary, Folk, Jazz, Baroque and Rock idioms to paint a soundtrack of lamentation, meditation, resolve, resistance and hope. It is Esmerine’s humble requiem for our intractably suffering planet and a paean to the inscrutable, essential dignity of indigenous ethics and the natural world. Mechanics Of Dominion is also another superlative example of Esmerine's acclaimed and award-winning dedication to album artwork and packaging, this time featuring the work of Montreal artist Jean-Sebastien Denis in beautiful resonance with the album's balance of stylistic tensions and emotional colourations."
One of the last, genuinely great, unsung artists of 20th century composition, Roland Kayn (1933 - 2011) - a sometime member of Gruppo Di Improvvazione Nuova Consonanza and the pioneer of what he termed Cybernetic Music - made some of the most breathtaking, intrepidly advanced electronic music ever recorded. The 14 hour expanse of A Little Electronic Milky Way is Kayn’s late major opus and forms a stargate-like introduction to his modular macrocosm, a place where many ideas of C.20th composition, from serialism to jazz and artificial intelligence, collapse into bewildering harmonic, metric and timbral structures practically unprecedented within his field. And mark our words, that’s not hyperbole: this is proper Enter The Void music.
A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound is Kayn’s first, posthumous release since Multiplex Sound-Art  and forms a staggering summation of his concept and aesthetic, which was first hatched when a series of 1950s broadcasts from WDR in Cologne named The Sound of Electronic Music prompted the then 20 year old artist to think that “a composer, like a painter, could realise his work without the help of other people. That he can handle the material directly and creatively edit it”.
He subsequently completed his studies as an organist (later applied to his work beside Egisto Macchi and Ennio Morricone in Gruppo Di Improvvazione Nuova Consonanza) and farther developed his concept of electronic music under the tutelage of Boris Blacher, Josef Rufer, Fritz Winkel and Oskar Sala (seminal composer of FX for classic Hitchcock flicks) in Berlin, grounding a sound which would come to pre-echo mankind’s push toward a form of AI, and serve to touch the very limits of human-machine imagination and perception.
A few years ago we were left reeling from a chance encounter with Kayn’s work, ironically enough offered up by YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, which pretty much turned our listening lives upside-down and inside-out. A keen investigation of Kayn’s composition ensued, which only confirmed our initial thoughts: this guy is light years out on his path; and how on earth is his music not better known?! We clearly weren’t the only ones to think so, and, now following their re-mantling of downtown legend, Julius Eastman, Frozen Reeds have grasped that task with both hands on this mind-expanding new release.
A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound effectively charts all aspects of Kayn’s unfathomable, algorithmically weft sound c. the era of his early boxsets Simultan, Makro, Infra and Tektra - from pineal-smudges and clouds of harmonic colour to fractured staccato pulses and keening, outer space dynamics usually only witnessed by Gods or astronauts. Mercurial by definition, elusive in nature, but gargantuan in scope and scale, it sounds as much like the inexplicable abstraction of a half-recalled, formative fever dream as your first K-Hole experience or some transmission from another galaxy, most effectively representing or emulating a sound which exists in our shared cultural imagination, but which has never before been generated, realised quite so vividly, and yet intangibly.
The implications of this sound are multitudinous. On the most fundamental level, he comes as close or closer, and earlier than any other composer to letting his machines speak their own language - and effectively years before Autechre, Keith Fullerton Whitman, the CCRU or Eno probed this same area. On another, connected level, his realisation of atemporal, atonal depth of field and mutably dissolved metrics can be said to consolidate myriad musical forms in a way that’s hardly been bettered (perhaps because so few knew of his examples), hinting at an atomic universality of all things that perhaps even transcends consciousness and gives a fascinating shape and formlessness to some of the C.20th’s most important ideas about AI and that old chestnut; where to next?
The fact that Roland Kayn did all this before most of us were even born, and he and his work still remains sorely unsung, is as humbling as it is frustrating. Kayn’s recordings described the future in prophetic terms and pretty much reset the last quarter of the C.20th in our books, making much extreme electronic music recorded during the interim seem pedestrian by comparison, and likewise makes a lot of deep space ambient seem like a kid’s picture book compared to his Hubble-scoped deep field projections.
Even more so now, in the age of everything at a touch and reams of modular explorers, Kayn’s music formidably generates a genuine, synaesthetically enhanced feeling of the unknown that’s sadly all too rare in modern electronic music, despite being the thing that probably attracted many of us to its putative charms in the first place.
We recommend serious time away from the laptop/desktop and getting right inside Kayn’s matrix, if only at the risk of coming out looking like Niander Wallace days later.
Music From Memory follow up the enchanting Suso Sáiz retrospective Odisea with a far more recent survey of the Spanish ambient and new age pioneer’s contemporary output, Rainworks; spanning wistful ambient vignettes to mind-engulfing drone, brittle concrète and drifting solo piano studies commissioned and written in 2016.
Highly regarded for his work with Orquesta De Las Nubes and Música Esporádica for Grabaciones Accidentales (home to Finis Africae, Luids Delgado, Randomize) in the early-mid ‘80s, Sáiz has followed that path ever since, resulting collaborations with Steve Roach and dozens more releases over the interim.
Rainworks finds him still feeling out a sublime, etheric otherness, bringing to life a series of atmospheric pressure systems with a deft, elemental touch in key with the original commission from Hidraulica, Tenerife (Canary Islands), gradually expanding and contracting in ambition from the opening arabesque to the abstract yet richly evocative tract of A Rainy Afternoon at the album’s perimeter.
For their first multi-artist compilation, Music From Memory take us on a trip to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1978-1992 is a double LP that explores the outer reaches of Brazilian music, where indigenous rhythms mix with synthesizers and where MPB mingles with drum computers.
"As Brazil faced the last years of its military dictatorship and transition to democracy, a generation of forward-thinking musicians developed an alternative vision of Brazilian music and culture. They embraced traditionally shunned electronic production methods and infused their music with elements of ambient, jazz-fusion, and minimalism. At the same time they referenced the musical forms and spirituality of indigenous tribes from the Amazon. The music they produced was a complex and mesmerising tapestry that vividly evoked Brazilian landscapes and simultaneously reached out to the world beyond its borders.
.The product of extensive research, this compilation is a unique introduction to this visionary music and features many fresh discoveries in a country well trodden by record diggers. It gathers tracks from obscure albums that have for too long been neglected by even the most avid collectors of Brazilian music. It includes now highly sought after music by Andréa Daltro, Maria Rita, and Fernando Falcão, as well as unknown gems like those of Cinema, Carlinhos Santos, and Anno Luz. This is an essential release that reveals a broader spectrum of Brazilian music, striking a unique sonic signature that is full of innovation, experimentation, and beauty.
Compiled by John Gómez and featuring extensive liner notes, Outro Tempo showcases this overlooked corner in Brazil’s rich music history for the first time."
Written and performed by Yasunao Tone. Recorded at ISSUE Project Room, Brooklyn, June 9th, 2016 by Bob Bellerue Mix and mastered by Russell Haswell. Photo by Cameron Kelley. Layout by Stephen O’Malley.
"I have had an idea if I apply the neural network to create my sound work for long time. When I had a performance at Centre Pompidou with Peter Rehberg and other friends I tried to talk about the idea with a French guy from IRCAM. But, he couldn’t understand my idea, which by using neural network the sound I create would never have any repetitions. That was 2002 and I had to wait until 2015 when I had a grant from New York State Council on the Arts through Issue Project Room, then its director Lawrence Kumpf applied for my new work. The grant finally made possible for making my cherished idea, the neural network piece, reality. I had talked about the idea with Prof. Tony Myatt at Surrey University, UK and he developed the software for the piece with a team included Dr. Paul Modler. At the lab in the University a series of my performances of my MP3 Deviation were captured and used to train Kohonen Neural Networks to develop artificial intelligences that simulate my performances. Hence a birth of new piece AI Deviations. I had a premiere at Issue Project Room on June 9th 2016 and the venue was more than packed and here is the performance of the piece." (Yasunao Tone)
Première release of a pivotal piece by important American composer, Julius Eastman.
After more than 40 years, Julius Eastman’s Femenine - a euphoric, colourful, and inventive work by the brilliant but criminally overlooked composer with the S.E.M. Ensemble - finally sees the light of day thanks to Finland’s Frozen Reeds, bringing to life a wondrous iteration of the highly fertile 1970s north american minimalist/modern classical nexus for a whole new generation of ears.
Notable not least as the only known recording of Femenine, recorded live in 1974 at Composers Forum in Albany, New York - which makes it only the 2nd CD with Eastman’s name at the top - this release also documents the composer on piano (whilst wearing a dress, as it goes) and features his unique innovation, a set of mechanised sleigh bells, rattling throughout the 72 minute performance, which, in a way, neatly characterises the artist’s wide-open, pioneering idiosyncrasies and dichotomies for anyone new to his work.
Un/fortunately, depending your perspective, far too many folk will be new to his work or even unaware of Eastman’s involvement in some true totems of the time; whether that’s as lead vocalist on Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs For A Mad King (1971), playing keys on Dinosaur L’s disco-not-disco classic 24→24 Music (1981), or conducting Arthur Russell’s Tower of Meaning (1983). And we say too many folk, because, all considered, until quite recently, Eastman has been long overdue the shine afforded to many of his peers and contemporaries.
As a Gay, Afro-American new music composer, pianist and vocalist in the ‘70s, Eastman’s work was innately politicised and exceptional by the nature of its provenance, not to mention the music itself, which pulled from his personal history as much as wider social movements to represent a uniquely fluid perspective on minimalist music’s rigid process and presentation right up to his untimely death, aged 50 in 1990.
With that in mind, Feminine stands at a crossroads between Eastman’s earlier chamber work Stay On It, and later pieces such as his iconic, majestic Evil Nigger and the ambiguous flux of emotions in Gay Guerilla; sounding quite unlike any of them thanks to its sense of communal joy (there were somewhere between 12 and 15 players) and the polymetric meter of his mechanised sleigh bells, coupled with a display of massed, pitching tonal colour that moves with the kind of deliquescent, flighty optimism that’s hard not to be wowed by.
Ultimately, it genuinely lives up to the mantle of “new music” and presents its ideas in a deeply refreshing, insistent, yet never-cloying manner.
A huge recommendation.
Jon Hassell’s entrancing Dream Theory In Malaya (Fourth World Volume Two) - the follow-up to his seminal Fourth World Vol.1 Possible Musics featuring Brian Eno - sees a much needed reissue, now expanded with a bonus track and available on any format for the first time since the early ‘90s.
Recorded at Bob and Daniel Lanois’s Toronto studio in 1981, Dream Theory In Malaya (Fourth World Volume Two) was titled after and inspired by a paper from visionary anthropologist Kilton Stewart, whose visits to a remote tribe, the Senoi of the Malay highlands, revealed a connection between their happiness and well-being and the tribe’s morning ritual practice of family dream-telling; sharing with each other and discussing the events of their previous night’s dreams, which they would also relay to other tribes in a process of mutual education and enlightenment.
Using this knowledge, plus samples of water-drumming by a tribe from the same region, the Semelai, and his patented, processed trumpet and electronics, Hassell created a definitively solo follow-up to his work with Eno, although as he points out in the liner notes, other personnel such as the Velvet Underground’s 1st drummer, Walter DeMaria also feature.
It all revolves around the central, 10 minute Malay, where a choir of his signature, warbling harmonics scat and flit over the sound of sloshing water drumming, cut-up and processed with soft gong hits in the kind of rhythms which Autechre would reprise algorithmically many years later. Either side of Malay is a series of lush postcards which come alive in your hands, ears, from the agitated fanfare of Chor Moiré to the lissom, plasmic regaling of Dream Theory’s bowl gongs and diffused hoots, thru mind-melting display of hypercoloured harmonic plumage in Datu Bintung At Jelong.
The only, beautiful, difference between the original pressing and this is the ending. Instead of passing out with the deftly genteel romance of Gift Of Fire, it’s now extended by inclusion of bonus track Ordinary Mind, relaying 3 minutes of windswept chants and glinting, liquid drumming that perfectly animates and articulates Hassell’s dream.
Archie Marshall aka King Krule oscillates between channeling strung out jazz crooners and mucky denim wearing rockabillies on a long-come follow-up to his 2013 debut.
“One of the most celebrated figureheads on the independent British scene, Archy Marshall returns with the dense, sprawling “The OOZ”, the much anticipated follow up to his debut “Six Feet Beneath the Moon”. Drifting and seeping through the cracks of South London like the album title, King Krule casts an unflinching eye over his kingdom, transforming his observations of all the disorientation and heartbreak of his youth into piercing narratives and poetry that are both startlingly honest and brutally beautiful. With “The OOZ”, Marshall finally takes the crown as poet laureate for the dazed and confused generation, painting a bleak and sometimes harrowing picture of a rapidly splintering city.
“The OOZ” is released October 13th on XL Recordings, preceded by the raucous new single “Dum Surfer” as well as a brilliant Brother Willis directed video. This autumn also sees Marshall hitting the road for a worldwide tour this autumn
Where “Six Feet Beneath the Moon”, released in 2013, was a rigorous, rambling excavation of Marshall’s expansive body of work to date, “The OOZ” snaps into focus quickly and sharply, his modus operandi coming into view almost immediately. Over jazzy curlicues and guitars, the opener “Biscuit Town” sets out its stall irresistibly as Marshall sings about rapidly disintegrating romance and personal dissolution with acute, almost painful detail. These wrenching themes of self-annihilation and fraying relationships seem inextricably linked in Marshall’s eyes – once you lose yourself to someone else, you inevitably wind up losing yourself completely when they leave – and recur in other tracks. “Why’d you leave me? Because of my depression? You used to complete me but I guess I learnt a lesson” he spits on the roiling “Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver)”, and, even layered with the warm vocals of Okay Kaya, “Slush Puppy” is an unsparing dissection of a couple with nothing left to give, like a Gainsbourg and Birkin ballad gone toxic. Elsewhere, things only get darker, as Marshall desperately tries to find safe harbor in the city he knows and loves, only to be thwarted constantly, as on “The Cadet Leaps” and first single “Czech One”. Not even the synthetic high of chemicals, as shown in “Emergency Blimp” and “A Slide In (New Drugs)”, can stanch the suffering.
Although seeming at first abstract, “The OOZ” as a title proves oddly fitting. There are references littered throughout about its physical manifestation, or as Marshall himself says, “about earwax and snot and bodily fluids and skin and stuff that just comes out of you on a day to day basis”. But it works on a more figurative level too, with the OOZ also representing the unknown depths or horizons the solitary mind can travel to, whether it’s sinking into the deep sea or soaring through the night sky. It may be messy, unwieldy, even unsightly, Marshall seems to say - but we need The OOZ in order to exist.”
Paul Woolford presents the definitive Special Request opus with Belief System, a brobdingnagian reflection upon his early years raving in Leeds, using samples from tapes dating back to 1993, diffracted thru the prism of up-to-date production aesthetics to visceral effect.
It’s pretty much the last word in Special Request’s coming-to-terms with nostalgia for the golden days of hardcore, jungle, rave, looking back to a time of rapid stylistic mutation and innovation from the relative safety of rose-tinted 2017 filters.
Rather than reviving the rabid energy and naive invention of rave proper, however, Woolford spends the first half of the album turning his sample pack into a UK Breaks and wonky techno set full of line-dancing grooves and electronica, before sparking off some breaks on pretty much the same base rhythm with the big room styles of Make It Real and the Amen Andrews-esque Brainstorm.
To be fair, the ruffneck Leviathan fares better with its boisterous tech-step barrage, and Replicant (Nexus 7 VIP) nearly grasps the nuttiness of hardcore proper, but the finale of Light In The Darkest Hour is a hybrid of Chicane and DJ Trace that never needed to happen, and people probably would have laughed off in the late ‘90s.
Frankfurt’s minimal house and electronica statesman steers Fabric 95 on slinky trip
Starting with a blend of Psychic TV with his and Ricardo Villalobos’ RiRom track, RoRic, thru the Metalheadz-esque breaks and synths of Koehler’s Oblivious Pool (Invisible Dub), to the Italo-house dream of Come Home by Pale Blue, foundational Chicago house from two of a Kind, the aerial breaks of Lanark Artefax, and even Sam Kidel’s Kachinja under his El Kid alias for Left Blank.
This the first CD released by drøne, after two vinyl albums on Anna von Hausswolff's label, Pomperipossa.
"Workers toil in smithies, call signs and chants-at-prayer reveal attempts to order the chaos, which always remains one step ahead. Post-lapsarian for sure, but smoke signals and drums have morphed into the 'bing bong' of the attention-grabbing, mind-polluting PA system. The coded simplicity of the whistle ("Start!") has evolved into a more deliberate attempt to control rather than inform by explicit, structured language. Announcements have become commands; signs bark orders. Thus 'no' becomes a powerful rejection, rather than merely an inclination; and no-ers are more easily to spot… "You're going the wrong way"! (To which the only sensitive and mature response is: "Indeed!")
Organic and man-made call signs, IDs, audio sigils and signatures all combine to describe a polluted, confusing atmosphere which threatens to leave us powerless and bewildered. "Decipher the sounds and you win the game! First prize is, guess what? You get to take the audio poison! Congratulations! You've lost!". A dynamic and involving result ensures a challenging but no less enjoyable listen.
The first album, 'reversing into the future' drew this response from Lend Me Your Ears: "This thrilling piece – surely the most kinetic non-dancefloor record in an age". Anna herself wrote of the follow up record, 'a perfect blind': "I love everything about this release. Such a great presentation and exciting project! And most important: the music is sublime."
The Quietus wrote: "Last year's distinctive debut from drøne was likened to a hurtling journey. It's combination of field recordings, shortwave radio and modular synths possessed an excited, driving energy whose route was hitherto unexplored and destination unknowable. But with an expanded sound pool boasting instruments across the ages - from guitar, through pipe organ and strings to dulcimer and psaltery – its follow-up takes a sideways step into more cognizant, reflective pastures."
Compiling the first 3 albums in the 'Everywhere At The End Of Time' series - two and a half hours long, each album reveals new points of progression, loss and disintegration, progressively falling further and further towards the abyss of complete memory loss and nothingness...
Embarking on the Caretaker’s final journey with the familiar vernacular of abraded shellac 78s and their ghostly waltzes to emulate the entropic effect of a mind becoming detached from everyone else’s sense of reality and coming to terms with their own, altered, and ever more elusive sense of ontology.
The series aims to enlighten our understanding of dementia by breaking it down into a series of stages that provide a haunting guide to its progression, deterioration and disintegration and the way that people experience it according to a range of impending factors.
In other words, Everywhere At The End of Time probes some of the most important questions about modern music’s place in a world that’s increasingly haunted or even choked by the tightening noose of feedback loops of influence; perceptibly questioning the value of old memories as opposed to the creation of new ones, and, likewise the fidelity of those musical memories which remain, and whether we can properly recollect them from the mire of our faulty memory banks without the luxury of choice
Memnon Sa grab our attention with the cover photo of RAF Fylingdales on Lemurian Dawn, and proceed to hold it firmly with a doozy mixture martial drums, mandrax synths and throat singing inside.
The fact that Lemurian Dawn is released by Aurora Borealis - home to albums by Haxan Cloak, Grumbling Fur, øjeRum - should be a signal of quality to those who know, but for everyone else, this is a class example of the eldritch infecting doom metal dimensions, swapping out glaring darkness for a gauzier, psychedelic appeal and sensitivity that takes hold with the subtlety of a psychoactive you didn’t realise you’d ingested. Fans of Steve Moore or Ghost Box should add this to their mushy playlist.
“Memnon Sa return with ‘Lemurian Dawn’, a cosmic journey through space, time and myth. Black ops missions witness the binary sunrise on a forgotten world. Pan dimensional spacecraft hover over ancient pyramids on worlds undreamed of.
The guitar driven doom metal sound of the acclaimed debut ‘Citadel’ has been replaced here by a myriad of analog synthesisers, ancient world instruments, throat singing and strings. ‘Lemurian Dawn’ channels New Age meditational works, film soundtracks and cosmic jazz from the 70s and 80s. The result could be the soundtrack to a lost 1970’s European animation sci-fi film, warm analogue sounds that hint at cosmic forboding and sinister forces unseen.
The album was recorded over a month and a half at Misha Hering’s Holy Mountain Studios in Hackney, London, and mixed using almost exclusively analog equipment to 1/2 inch tape.
It was mastered by legendary mastering engineer Dave Cooley at Elysium Masters in LA.”
Reissue of Mika Vainio's final album under the Ø moniker...
Following on from the crushing technoid scapes of 'Kilo' under his own name and the blackened alloys of his ÄÄNIPÄÄ album with Stephen O'Malley, 'Konstellaatio' reveals the revered producer at his most sensitive, teetering on the brink of the abyss and projecting to the stars. Between the goosebump-inducing panoramic pads of opener 'Otava' and the twinkling electro-dub of closer 'Takaisin' we're made privy to some of the strongest material in his whole oeuvre, and we really don't say that lightly.
His tactile manipulation of bass and sub-bass dynamics and spacious application of pure, isolated frequencies is just mindblowing, evoking imagery on sub-atomic scales. Far from being an academic exercise in production, there's an awe-inspiring and compelling sense of pathos and wonder at its core owing as much to the grandeur of Beethoven as it does the diffuse sound sculptures of Parmegiani.
It's pointless listening to this material on shit speakers because you're gonna miss half of it's extreme subtleties, but for those who know and care about this music, prepare to bunker down with one of Vainio's finest.
New Energy is Four Tet’s first album in two years
Leading on from the Morning / Evening set to a new age-inflected sound encompassing hang drum pieces with Tom Baker thru to modular synth input from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, all produced on a laptop computer using Ableton Live software to control and mix VST plugins as well as manipulations of audio recordings.
Avant-indie/post-rock hero and writer David Grubbs (Gastr Del Sol, Red Krayola, Codeine) gets to the core of his sound with the lyrically instrumental insight and poetic enigma of Creep Mission.
Issued just over a year and a summer since his Prismrose  LP, Creep Mission locates cult guitarist reprising a fruitful working relationship with in-demand drummer Eli Keszler, who provides percussion alongside electronic input from Jan St. Werner (Mouse On Mars) and Nate Woolley’s trumpet, all helping to unfurl a most compelling, elusive addition to Grubbs’ great American saga.
Grubbs’ nylon six string is front and centre, driving the narrative with a fluidity and plurality of voices worth three guitarists of similar talent, and with a cool virtuosity matched by Keszler’s deft drum fills, whereas the contributions of St. Werner and Wooley are reserved to subtle atmospheric presence for the most, but capably step in to set the whole thing at new angles when required.
Grubbs and Keszler make the perfect pairing in Skylight, opening the album like a mountain stream which, after snaking its way downhill opens out into roiling rapids buffeted by electronic squall and trumpet blare, before Mission Creep sets in with a jazz-wise curiosity that soon enough erupts into ragged raga-blues, and The Bonapartes of Baltimore - one of two solo pieces along with Jack Dracula In A Bar - finds him stripped back to succinct, emotive, nerve-braiding nylon string meditations, which he expands on with additional, woozy narration from Nate Wooley’s trumpet.
However the two biggest attractions for us come with the grubbing electro-acoustics of Jeremiadaic and the pitching abstraction of Return of the Creep, both cropping up at oblique angles in the tracklist to perhaps rouse listeners from getting too comfortable in the easy chair, as with the pranging, clangorous pointillism of the former, and the dissonant sludge/doom subduction zones that open up in the latter.
Mule Musiq’s master selector Kuniyuki Takahashi (Koss) distills the Soundofspeed vibe for house connoisseurs everywhere with A Mix Out Session
Drawing on fresh versions of label gear from DJ Sprinkles, DJ Nature, Vakula, and himself. Almost goes without saying but Sprinkles Deeperama mix of Kuniyuki & Jimpster’s Kalima’s Dance is a big highlight.
After leaving us hanging for too long, the enigmatic R&B starlet pays up on the promise of her Cut 4 Me mixtape and Hallucinogen EP with an impeccable album of proper, star-dusted songs about love and life as “…a black woman, a 2nd generation Ethiopian-American, who grew up in the ‘burbs listening to R&B, Jazz and Björk”. Yh yh, count us in!
Sweeping us up in the heart-in-mouth dream sequence of Frontline’s sylvan soul and gently fading with the deliquescent sensuality of Altadena at its curtain close, Take Me Apart is arguably a modern classic blessed with widely resonating appeal. Marking a sublime demonstration of Kelela’s personal development over the years since literally everyone jumped on Cut 4 Me, her first opus is a more mature, layered and more coherent set which defines the difference between a mixtape and album thanks to its fluid logic and and intimately involving narrative structure.
Jupiter allows a moment to catch your breath in its bittersweet pirouettes before the rugged LMK - the album’s lead single - takes hold, triggering an amazing 2nd half loaded with Arca’s tell-tale pitch bends in the boogie knuck of Truth Or Dare and the almost industrially-toned drums and maaaad wide bass on S.O.S., but we’re not sure who’s responsible for the radioactive lead line of Blue Light, or the Burial-esque 2-step of Onanon, and it doesn’t really matter anyway, cos Kelela’s really the star of the show in every part.
It’s All True is an opera-in-suspension from New York ensemble Object Collection based on the complete live archives of iconic underground band Fugazi.
"Grounded upon the DC post-hardcore outfit’s 1987-2002 Live Archive series, composer Travis Just and writer/director Kara Feely’s work uses only the incidental music, text and sounds, none of Fugazi’s actual songs. An obsessive leap into 1500 hours of gig detritus – random feedback, aimless drum noodling, pre-show activist speeches, audience hecklers, police breaking up gigs – is the foundation of an ear-body-and-mind-flossing 100 minutes for 4 voices/performers, 4 electric guitars/basses and 2 drummers. It’s All True is overloaded, maddening, mundane, properly funny, and a radical incitement to action.”
The Collection is an intimate survey of Italian minimalist Nicola Ratti (Bellows) in his element, conducting dusty knocks and electro-acoustic effervescence in a play of greyscale tones and rhythmic irregularities at his Milan studio. Featuring material recorded over a number of years, it’s best considered as summary of Ratti’s personal favourite, unreleased highlights of the past few years, focussing on stray, ostensibly unconnected pieces which, when collected, represent a mosaic of his artistic development and the underlying aesthetics of his identity.
Hand-picked by Ratti, The Collection peers into every nook and niche of his elusive style, from fidgeting small sounds redolent of Bellows, to booming slow techno and rolling, reactive dub mutations primed for the ‘floor, each giving a canny insight to the personalised intricacies and underlying inputs of his texturhythmic sound.
It’s the kind of music that the machines may make behind our backs or once we’re all gone. But, as it stands, it’s all the work of one man sequestered in his studio with his worries, facing banks of gear and often wondering what the f**k am I going to do today? That may not be instantly detectable to the listener, but as Ratti stresses in the promo text, this is an unspoken aspect of the recording process which belies each of these recordings, if only to him.
These outside pressures of artistic endeavour vs capitalist realism thus serve to inform the material’s agitated nature and emotional ambiguity, there in the itchy yet sanguine feel of L2, laced into the quizzical probe of L6, diffused thru the recursive dub-tech system of L1, or rendered in perfectly elusive, gaseous fashion with R401, which arguably defines his sound as uniquely suggestive not prescriptive.
Moon Field is a brilliant suite of electro-acoustic jazz abstraction by eminent Portuguese guitarist and electronic composer Rafael Toral.
A relatively rare solo release - his 2nd of 2017, following a five year hiatus - Moon Field looks beyond Toral’s Space Elements series to a stranger sonic state of hovering stasis, with carefully nipped guitar gestures framed against a shapeshifting mass of modular synth crackle, eliciting the sensation of music beamed in from another star system. Followers of Oren Ambarchi or Jim O’Rourke need apply right away.
“On Moon Field, Rafael Toral breaks new ground, it is his first edition that moves outward, beyond the Space Program series. This collection of three extended and interlocking works, marks the beginning of a transitional period into a new phase.
Building on the explorations of his almost decade and a half of work with the Space Program, Mood Field seeks a more open sensibility and integrates a range of new elements and new directions. These elements reposition the potential interplays of his chosen musical elements.
“Moon Field was originally written for live performance by a configuration of the Space Collective 3,” Toral explains, “It was with Ricardo Webbens on modular synths, Riccardo Dillon Wanke on electric piano and myself on electronic instruments. While working on it, the piece revealed a strange hovering quality, a kind of stasis. It's alive and awake, like all the recent Space Program music, but doesn't seem to want to go anywhere. The music wanted to be something very peculiar and I changed it a lot in response to that. It also revealed what I find a kind of nocturnal mood, as if we were listening to alien signals with satellites crossing the sky under the moonlight.”
Moon Field’s middle section, The Horizon, sees Toral entering a broader acoustic field. The piece weaves a fresh examination of the ambient music he worked on between 1987 and 2003 with the fabric of post-free jazz-inspired phrasing with electronic instruments. The results extend the free roaming aspects of the Space Program and mark out a distinctive and deeply personal approach to sonic atmospherics. This is the first step into a much larger, richer universe.”
Tokyo’s Kouhei Matsunaga with a lucidly crisp set of breakbeat techno an electro tricks for DFA Records continuing his world tour of labels after 12”S with PAN, Important, Raster-Noton, Diagonal, L.I.E.S.
The prolific multi-monikered artist covers a usual breath of nuance across the 8 tracks of Exit Entrance, weaving between Rian Treanor-esque, avian electronic mixed with crunchy garage in Meeting to fiercer, grungy pressure recalling Diamond Version in Dignity, taking in a glassy beatless apex with Notice and a killer lash of bendy acid techno with Dented.
Blasting outta Berlin, Ziúr reps a new wave of artists claiming the ‘floor as a space for freedom and experimentation. It’s a sound that would broadly fall in with an ‘anti-banger’ aesthetic, meshing cues from brooding post-rock electronica, snarky punk and J-pop with spare, deconstructed, spasmodic rhythms nodding to the ghetto styles of Lisbon as much as club music’s avant grade. In effect it’s more like a smart drug than traditional dancefloor/drug analogs; alert and focussed, assuaging ‘easy’ rhythmic gratification or the psychedelic sensuality of rooted dance music which preceeded it.
“Ziúr is one of the most exciting producers to come out of the fringes of Berlin club music in the last few years. A new generation is breaking out of the techno mould and creating in a spirit of freedom and experimentation, taking seemingly incompatible influences and balancing them into a new and exciting sound. Ziúr is also the founder and resident DJ of 'Boo-Hoo', a night championing diverse lineups, reflecting it's creative audience, bringing through the cream of the experimental dance underground. Planet Mu are proud to release Ziúr's debut album 'U Feel Anything?' in collaboration with Objects Limited, a label run by Lara Rix-Martin which releases music by women and non-binary people.
For someone who has previously released just two EPs, the vision of Ziúr's music is advanced and precise. It's music which beckons you into an alternate world; wonderfully alien pop music that eschews conventions. She creates eldrich atmospheres that balance gentle melody and warm pop, in which strange elfin voices sing from other worlds and spiralling rhythms feel like entire structures moving. In the latter half of the record these harden into a pounding, martial symphony of steel, and introduce the kind of rough electronic riffs and guitar samples that betray her background in punk.
'U Feel Anything?' was written as a way to think about music as a tool of enlightenment, a de-conditioning force and the kind of yin and yang that can be summed up in the title of one of the songs 'Laughing and Crying are The Same Things', a track which features Swedish pop singer Zhala, whose vocals straddle twisting beats, space and staccato strings. The album also features a collaboration with Aïsha Devi on the epic 'Body of Light', in which Aïsha's vocals are pitched up and down, manipulated and distorted into wispy angelic tones, setting the tone for the first half of the album. There's a process to Ziúr's music that's informed by this wish to get beyond the small things. She says Putting a relation on what's big and small and certainly meaningless behind our existence; how nothing is everything at the same time etc... it's something that I try to explore again and again by putting myself into a thought process, rather than having everything already formulated.
It's a record of powerful, emotional twists and turns and mind-flipping contrasts that resonate with depth. As Ziúr says I believe you can only tell that something is harsh when you have a soft side to compare it to. If everything is amazing then nothing is, right?”
Retro-futurist prog-pop made on modular synths.
“In 2017, the musical term “electronic” is nearly obsolete given the ubiquity of computerized processes in producing music. Even so, the prevailing assumption is that musicians working under this broad umbrella must be inspired by concepts equally as electrified as their equipment. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has demonstrated in her still-blooming discography that this notion couldn’t be further from the truth, and that more often than not, rich worlds of synthesized sound are born from deep reverence of the natural world. Smith (who by no coincidence, cites naturalist David Attenborough as a contemporary muse) has embodied such an appreciation on The Kid in as direct and sincere a way as possible by sonically charting the phases of life itself. The album, which punctually follows up her 2016 breakthrough EARS, chronicles four defining cognitive and emotional stages of the human lifespan across four sides of a double LP.
The first side takes us through the confused astonishment of a newborn, unaware of itself, existing in an unwitting nirvana. Smith’s music has always woven a youthful thread befitting of the aforementioned subject. Here she articulates it in signature fashion on the track “An Intention,” which serves not only as a soaring spire on The Kid, but on her entire output. There is playfulness here, but it's elevated by an undertone of gravity into something compelling and majestic that is fast becoming Smith’s watermark. The emotional focus of side two is the vital but underreported moment in early youth when we cross the threshold into self awareness. The subject is profound enough to fill an entire album, but rarely makes its way into a single track, indicating Smith’s ambition to broach subtler and deeper subjects than the average composer. This side offers up another highlight in the form of “In The World But Not Of The World” which serves its subject well with epiphanic, climbing strings and decidedly noisy textures over a near-Bollywood low end pulse.
Side three emphasizes a feeling of being confirmed enough in one’s own identity to begin giving back to the formative forces of one’s upbringing, which is arguably the duty that all great artists aim to fulfill. This side ends with the exploratory album cut “Who I Am & Why I Am Where I Am” recorded in a single take without overdubs on the rare EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer. This humble piece of sound design serves as a contrast to side four’s verdant orchestral moments, all written and arranged for the EU-based Stargaze quartet by Smith herself. This final side represents a return to pure being, the kind of wisdom and peace that eludes most of us until the autumn of life. On “To Feel Your Best” this concept is voiced in the bittersweet refrain “one day I’ll wake up and you won’t be there” which Smith intended to be a grateful acknowledgement of life rather than a melancholy resentment of loss. The song has both effects depending on the mood of the listener, and both interpretations are equally moving.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith belongs to an ilk of modern musicians who are defined by their commitment to creating experiential albums despite the singles-oriented habits of modern listeners, and here she represents her kind proudly. The subjects on The Kid are not simple to convey, and yet through both emotional tone and lyrical content, Smith does just that. There is a similar gravity to both birth and death, and rarely is that correlation as accurately and enthusiastically mapped as it is here. As Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith explores her existence through music, she guides us in gleefully contemplating our own.”
Under his guises Blessed Initiative and Ketev, as well as his own name, composer and sound artist Yair Elazar Glotman has explored extended techniques and processes to forge new sonic textures and musical forms. Compound picks up where the previous solo work under Glotman’s own name - 2015’s Études - left off. The acoustic sound palette has now expanded from solo contrabass into a trio including pianist Rieko Okuda and percussionist Marcello Silvio Busato.
"Glotman guides the trio into utilising sounds from the edges of their instruments’ abilities - arguably mere byproducts of harmony - and through improvisation, repetition, and post-production, conjures new sonic bodies over two sidelong pieces. His guidelines for each improvisation gave the players autonomy to emphasise the microscopic details of certain sounds: the shudder of a piano key, the hum of a cymbal, the incidental click of a plucked contrabass string. The recordings were then layered and reformulated by Glotman into two separate structures to complete the composition process. Both ‘Veil’ and ‘Revelate’ utilize the full spectral potential of each instrument, revealing new rhythmic patterns and harmonic content in the process.
Taking Glotman’s microscopic focus on instrument noises he put began on Études as a starting point, the trio on Compound ultimately bring into question both density and contrast, rhythm itself losing its stricter structures and becoming a purely pattern-based driving force in the music. The resultant unit contradicts and opposes itself, all sorts of clashing rhythms and melodies coexisting within the body of the two compositions of evolving sonic architecture.
Based in Berlin, Yair Elazar Glotman is a classically-trained musician and sound artist. Besides previous works on Subtext including Études, a collaborative score with James Ginzburg experimental film Nimbes, and the eponymous debut of his Blessed Initiative project, Glotman has released music via Opal Tapes and others under the nom de plume Ketev."
Lone spells out his influences for the DJ-Kicks series
A winding session taking in shoegazey electronica, wonky hip hop, jazzy Detroit house and blue indie rock along with two exclusive numbers, the dusty NYC deep house of Arc and Saturday Night.
Ninos Du Brasil’s excellent third album and second for Hospital Productions is their deadliest yet; offsetting tribal drum rituals laced with bestial electronics and possessed vocals, including a guest appearance by No Wave legend Arto Lindsay. Highly recommended if you’re into Psychedelic Warriors Of Gaia, Female or Vatican Shadow.
Nico Vascellari and Nicolò Fortuni come out to play in the dark, taking their fascinations with ritual musics - from Brazilian Afro-Latin tribal rhythms to library music and freezing Scandinavian BM - deep into the festering undergrowth of their shared, exotic aesthetic.
Where the cover of their last LP for Hospital Productions Novos Mistérios  depicted a naked man covered by a leopard pelt, Marvin Gaye Chatwynd’s oil painting of a screeching Chiroptera in flight on the Vida Eterna jacket makes a strong visual allegory for NDB’s finer tuned spatial sensitivities inside, with their churning rhythms now embedded in fathoms of dread space and shaded in layers of processed vocal chants, both punk, metal, and tribalistic.
The big highlight is no doubt the closing cut, Vagalumes Piralampos, where Arto Lindsay, the legendary founder of DNA, chimes in on a stygian, moonlit jag between the eyes of bossa nova, batucada and the sort of esoteric electronics also charted by Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement or Cienfuegos.
But it only really makes sense after you’ve expended your energies along with the band thru monstrous techno shakedowns such as O veto Chama Seu Nome, the soca-like rush of Condenado Por Un Idioma Desconhecido, or found yourself lost, without coordinates, in the pitch black breakdown of No Meio Da Noite and have been hypnotised by the stalking rhythms and atmospheres of Em Que O Rio Do Mar Se Toma with an explosive percussive charge that mimics sharp blades scything through a nocturnal jungle...
Julian House aka The Focus Group twists the kaleidoscope to reveal a fractious mosaic of some 25 vignette-like parts in just over 37 minutes with Stop-Motion Happening, the ‘Groop’’s - as it’s spelt on the cover - most delirious and mid-summery dosage to date.
Referring to that title again, ‘Groop’ as it’s purposefully spelt on the sleeve art, but not the metadata, quite possibly makes a nod to Stereolab’s The Groop Played “Space Age Bachelor Pad Music” and certainly suggests a temporal connection between the two records, if nothing else, as the music itself is perhaps better described as more Space Age Suburban Micro Dosing in its fractal nature and gentility.
The tracks weigh in between 15 seconds at their shortest to nearly 7 minutes at longest, acting like the hazily fragmented recollections of an ageing psychonaut or the sonic sketchbook of a romantic ’60s dreamer who was in the throes of the psychedelic age, with mind opened to Far Eastern thought in the pause-buttoned tabla and sitar chops of Stop Motion Happening and New Toytown Walk and the mystic bliss of Rendering The Forests, whereas other parts tie that in with nods to The Beatles’ psychy phase in Sir John Pepper and The Gone Outside. You can trust the other twenty tracks are of a similarly anachronistic and delightful style.
The lysergic/psilocybic whimsy is strong on this one. Do check.
Another Japanese ambient holy grail is ticked off the wants-list with a first ever vinyl pressing of Midori Takada & Masahiko Satoh’s Lunar Cruise following the widely celebrated reissue of Takada’s Through The Looking Glass earlier in 2017.
Flanked by YMO’s Haruomi Hosono and jazz player Kazutoki Umezu, Takada & Satoh’s original recordings of Lunar Cruise richly resonate with the preceding ten years of digitized 4th world innovation as well as traces of Badalamenti and Lynch’s synth parts from Twin Peaks of the same year, all while clearly pre-echoing the reverberant synthetic spaces of Kenji Kawai’s Ghost In The Shell OST. Even 2nd hand CD copies of Lunar Cruise are trading for a pretty penny, so this vinyl edition could hardly be more welcome right now.
Working deep into the modern ambient zeitgeist, Lunar Cruise’s charms sound as appealing now as ever, catching up with Takada’s sound seven years after her debut percussive masterpiece, Through The Looking Glass to find her working with a broader, worldly instrumental palette inspired by her 1989 tour with Satoh thru Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The pieces alternate super sparse and enchantingly cybersensuous states of mind with more urgent, pealing jazz and free experimentation that breaks far out of the ambient mould into sufi-esque dervishes and rippling dance studies recalling Steve Reich in full flight.
The effect is overall more crisply urbane, angular than the pastoral tranquility perceived in Takada’s better known precedent. From the names of its bookending pieces of Iron Paradise, also reflected in their tensile nature and construction, thru to the ten minutes of stoic tonal experimentation in Chang-Dra, and driving dervish of A Vanished Illusion, a sense of urgency and control is paramount to Lunar Cruise in a way that wasn’t there in its forerunner, pointing to a tightening and vivification of Takada’s ideas that perhaps reflected the increasingly cybersensual world around her and Satoh, as opposed her earlier new age influences.
Highlights belong to In D’s precise, vivid percolations of woodblock percussion and the wistful temperament of Madorone, underlined by Hosono’s quizzical fretless bass probes, but if there’s any one definitive moment, it comes in the gently pealing gamelan and breathy synth voices of Ancient Palace, which really freezes that cusp-of-the-’90s ambient shiver somewhere between new age optimism and the numbness of cybernetic sensuality.
Gird your loins, people, for 51 tracks, 2 hrs 35 minutes of prime, classic DAF. Think you can handle it?
As the legendary duo of Gabi Delgado and Robert Görl approach their 40th anniversary of formation, Grönland present the exhaustive, definitive Das ist DAF retrospective, including brand spanking new remixes from Giorgio Moroder and Boys Noize demonstrating the timeless resonance of their EBM/NDW classics with the modern disco.
From the razor-dancing Der Mussolini to the playful hooks and clenched twang of Im Dschungel der Liebe and the blend of daftness and steely electro-punk thrust in Kebap Träume, you’ll find the blueprints for masses of dance music to come, but more importantly these cuts still kill it cold on the ‘floor. If you’re into Powell, Ancient Methods, Not Waving or even LCD Soundsystem and don’t know DAF, sort it out with this set right now!
“Many things have been said about this band: they were called the “godfathers of techno,” the pioneers of EBM and the forefathers of electropunk. Yet they only laugh coolly and remain tight-lipped in the face of any attempt to historicize them. Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – better known as DAF – is a myth.
What we know is that they released four albums in a short time span between 1980 and 1982, and that those albums changed the history of music worldwide. Yet DAF’s international renown certainly was not based in the name: Gabi Delgado-López and Robert Görl were never looking for friendship; their expressions were invariably ones of steely, piercing stares, and they presented themselves with a precisely staged iciness that belied the ardor burning inside them.
DAF initially formed as a quintet in the confines of Ratinger Hof in Düsseldorf, alongside bands like Fehlfarben, Der Plan, Mittagspause and others, but later adopted a conceptual approach that left no space for other “young lords.” From that point on they worked as a duo. With precision percussive elements mastered in classical jazz training, a legendary Korg MS-20 and a highly fetishistic militaristic spoken-word style, they produced four albums in quick succession – records that could be construed as substitutes for sex, drugs and violence. While the first album, Die kleinen und die Bösen – on which half the tracks were recorded in Conny Plank’s studio while the B-side contained live recordings – still hinted at roots in original punk music, they then created a triptych of leathery, sweat-soaked hedonism on Alles ist Gut, Gold und Liebe and Für immer. In the early 1980s the records in the DAF box set Groenland Records is now releasing quickly made this duo the international figurehead of the music everyone now associates with the Rhine region: DAF, along with Kraftwerk and Can, were the pioneers of German electronic music. They were always in vogue. Sequencers, synthesizers, commanding drum beats and the most cutting staccato spoken-word vocals – an alliteration only disrupted by the notion of the uniform. Very few bands have managed to contrive their own look in such masterly fashion, and to even make it a subject of their work: “Was ziehst du an heut nacht?,” “Verehrt euren Haarschnitt” and – oh yes – “Tanz den Mussolini.”
DAF’s militaristic aspect is only broken by their attitude of denial, which invites us to dance in the dark with them and to follow Delgado-López’s rhythmic movements – even if he seems to be dancing entirely for himself. Perhaps it is that contradiction itself that renders this duo so eternal.
This compilation will allow you to experience the music of DAF; the darkest and hardest driving musical imperative ever to come out of Germany.”
Kamasi Washington continues to nurture jazz in its classical form with Harmony of Difference, a six-song sort of addendum to his roundly acclaimed master opus, The Epic  for Brainfeeder.
Premiered as part of this year’s Whitney Biennial in NYC, Harmony of Difference is a study on the musical theory of “counterpoint”, which Washington defines as “the art of balancing similarity and difference to create harmony between separate melodies”, and does so with in the hope that “witnessing the beautiful harmony created by merging different musical melodies will help people realise the beauty in our difference”.
We’re inclined to add at this point, the putative advantages of dissonance and discord, which could also help us understand the place of friction and anarchy in humanity, and another aspect of beauty derived from difference, but Washington has decided to forget a huge other chunk of jazz exploration in this case, leading to five pieces of smooth jazz on the front deftly infusing soul and latin influences, which are all re-combined in the B-side’s sweeping sixth movement.
Braindance IDM electronica. Apparently AFX is a fan, or alternatively, it's just AFX himself...
“The anonymous producer, whose work has has already received online approval from legendary british IDM auteur Aphex Twin, offers up his debut album. Brainwaltzera’s debut LP “Poly-ana" follows quickly on the heels of the producer’s Aescoba EP - also released this year via FILM (Steve Reich/Terry Riley/Grandbrothers) Across thirteen tracks of both previously released material and fresh excursions into the artist’s world, Brainwaltzera explores sounds ranging from luscious, downtempo grooves and expertly reduced braindance cuts with nods to early 90’s experimental IDM to harder, more caustic outings - all bound together by a recurring theme of otherworldly ambience.
Taking its name from a variety of sources dear to the artist, including polyphonic analogue synthesizers and the Pollyanna Principle itself - a theory that suggests individuals recall pleasurable experience more acutely than displeasing ones - the title represents a meeting point in the artistic process between creative method and conceptual choices. Production techniques range from more traditional hardware synthesis to the incorporation of a modified dot matrix printer acting as a modulation source for MIDI parameters.
Sample sources include VHS material from the producer’s own childhood and ambient Bullet Train samples from an on-the-fly production session traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto. According to the enigmatic producer, memory and its fundamental role in the human experience is one of the central themes of the record. While the artist's own experiences shaped the sound of the record, there is no attempt to impose them on the listener through blatant exposition. This is also evident in the artwork, which provides an identity and bold referential outline but, much like a coloring book, leaves the colors, tones and shades to others. In the same vein, the concept suggests that particular stimuli such as sound or scent, can transport an individual back to a particular point in their life. Scent has long been identified as the most efficient agent for this phenomenon, providing perhaps the most visceral form of "braintravel". “
DJ Harvey chucks his keys in the Pikes Records pot with this 16 track compilation of tracks from his pals and special nooks on his record shelves.
A simultaneous celebration of his recent residency at Pikes, and the first release on their label, The Sound of Mercury Rising works up a cool heat thru gems such as Eighth Wonder’s Pet Shop Boys-produced I’m Not Scared (Disco Mix), the sublime propulsion system of Mustat Varjot by Roberto Rodriguez, and the sultry italo of Golden War by Blue Camera, along with a lot more typical balearic bits that help reprise the original, decadent ‘80s vibe, as opposed to meathead house or megadome trance anthems.
Anxiety about the precarious nature of reality is a recurring thread on Protomartyr's fourth longplayer, and Domino debut, ‘Relatives In Descent’.
"Though not a concept album, it presents twelve variations on a theme: the unknowable nature of truth, and the existential dread that often accompanies it. It's no coincidence this missive comes to us at a moment when disinformation and garbled newspeak have become a daily reality.
Without sanding any of the edges born from their days as a Detroit bar band, ‘Relatives In Descent’ offers new layers and new insights, whilst showcasing Protomartyr at their most unsettling and impressive."
The Centre Cannot Hold is Ben Frost’s 5th studio album. It was recorded over ten days by Steve Albini in Chicago and represents a pinched, subtler refinement of the billowing structures heard on its predecessor, A U R O R A , as well as a more personalised statement from Frost, who has more commonly been found working to someone film scores for someone else’s storyline with Music From Fortitude and The Wasp Factory.
Accompanied by players Skuli Sverrisson, Nico Muhly, Daniel Lea, and Shahzad Ismaily, and aided by production from Lawrence English, Paul Corley, Daniel Rejmer and Valgeir Sigurðsson; Ben Frost is effectively the triple threat actor/writer/director of his own particular album-cum-movie, rendering a typically melancholic vision of modern ambient and neo-classical storytelling that keens heavy with textural and emotive inspiration from industrial, post-rock and noise paradigms.
The record’s two side openers, Threshold Of Faith and Ionia were issued as single previews of the album, and both offer fair measure of what to expect from the other eight songs, which contract and expand between the scything post dubstep dynamics of A Sharp Blow In Passing and shuddering storm systems of Trauma Theory and the very NIN/Cortini-esque sprawl of Eurydices Heel, to the crystalline ice caves of All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated and the heavy-handed troll-bait epic, Entropy In Blue.
In emotional terms, Frost sums up feelings of apoploptic rage and despair usually only felt when you’ve gone to an outside toilet in Iceland in middle of winter, but forgot the tissue, while the production remains as trustingly tourist friendly as the northern lights. Put this on after GoT while you reflect on another great episode of tits and CGI dragons for optimal effect.
Hyperactive anime soundtrack styles - think Squarepusher meets Foodman
“Iglooghost presents his debut album “Neō Wax Bloom”, almost two years to the day since he made his debut as a teenager on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder imprint with the “Chinese Nü Year” EP - four tracks documenting the time-traveling adventures of a gelatinous worm-shaped creature called Xiangjiao. Expanding on this story, “Neō Wax Bloom” follows the events surrounding two giant eyeballs crashing into the mysterious world of Mamu. Across its 11 tracks, Iglooghost builds a typically intense, hysterical, borderline batshit crazy soundtrack, introducing new characters to his fantastical world and inviting back old friends Mr. Yote and Cuushe for the ride.
In the words of Iglooghost:
“When a pair of giant eyeballs crash into the strange, misty world of Mamu, the mysterious forces that govern nature itself are disrupted. A life cycle of transforming creatures is thrown off balance, and the odd looking inhabitants of Mamu are forced to adapt to this calamity. These inhabitants include Yomi - a multicoloured pom-pom monk; Lummo - a wise blind witch training a band of melon coloured babies; and Uso - a sneaky bug thief hidden in a green cloak - as well as many others. As their respective stories begin to interlock, the mysteries surrounding the giant eyeballs are slowly revealed.”
The complete work by Luc Ferrari for films from 1960 to 1984 including electronic pieces, concrete music made in GRM and some hybrid including traditional instruments. An In-depth survey of the concrète poet/artist/thinker’s works for films, comprising eight durational pieces, and including the 73 minute ‘Chronopolis’
“This 3CD set gathers the complete work by Luc Ferrari for films from 1960 to 1984 including electronic pieces, concrete music made in GRM and some hybrid including traditional instruments.
Very rare pieces, most are unpublished (with collaboration with Jean Cocteau ou Jean Tinguely...), this is for the very first time the complete scope of one of the most innovative composer of the XX century.
Including 2 lighting texts by two writers and critics Philippe Langlois (Les Cloches d'Atlantis) and Guillaume Contré, some rare photograms from films and some handwritings notes by Ferrari himself.”
Intrusion’s A Gentle Embrace spawns a 3rd set of nebulous dub/house/ambient versions from Steve Hitchell as CV313, Variant, and Intrusion, including the original 33 minute tape session, spread over two discs. Plug in, push-off, zone-out.
“This marks the third single from Intrusion's forthcoming album "A Gentle Embrace" (also with alternate versions coming out on a forthcoming 12"). What has not been heard before comes into glimpse via analog circuitry, obsolete synthesis & sonic exploration beyond dreams. This double CD set features the original mix as well as 3 beautifully hypnotic dub reductions from cv313, an epic 60 minute beautifully composed hypnotic and entrancing ambient rework from variant, which might be one of our personal favorites to date. Those who loved the past "A Gentle Embrace" project will have much to love here. A passionate, galactic, deep voyage on the other side of the galaxy. See you in the stars..."
Typically enchanting electro-acoustic enigma from Philip Jeck, forming a richly abstract narrative from the reactive fizz and and timbral thizz of smeared shellac textures and their keening, dissonant harmonics
“Philip Jeck studied visual arts at Dartington College of Arts in the 1970's and has been creating sound with record-players since the early 80's. He has worked with many dance and theatre companies and played with muscians/composers such as Jah Wobble, Steve Lacy, Gavin Bryars, Jaki Liebezeit, David Sylvian, Sidsel Endresen and Bernhard Lang.
He has released 11 solo albums, the most recent Cardinal, a double vinyl release on Touch. Suite, another vinyl -only release, won a Distinction at The Prix Ars Electronica, and a cassette release on The Tapeworm,Spool, playing only bass guitar. His CD Sand (2008) was 2nd in The Wire's top 50 of the year. His largest work made with Lol Sargent, Vinyl Requiem was for 180 record-players, 9 slide-projectors and 2 16mm movie-projectors. It received a Time Out Performance Award. Vinyl Coda I-III, a commission from Bavarian Radio in 1999 won the Karl Sczuka Foderpreis for Radio Art. Philip also still works as a visual artist, usually incorporating sound and has shown installations at The Bluecoat, Liverpool, Hayward Gallery, London, The Hamburger Bahnhof Gallery, Berlin, ZKM in Karlsruhe and The Shanghai and Liverpool Bienalles.
Philip Jeck has won the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Composers 2009. A presentation ceremony took place at The Royal Institute of British Architects, London, on 9th November 2009. He has toured in an Opera North production playing live to the silent movie Pandora's Box (composed by Hildur Gudnadottir and Johann Johannson). He has also worked again with Gavin Bryars on a composition Pneuma for a ballet choreographed by Carolyn Carlson for The Opera de Bordeaux and has recently made and performed the sound for The Ballad of Ray & Julie at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool.”
Shelter Press collect all three volumes of the compelling Movement Building works for dance by Gabriel Saloman (Yellow Swans) in a handy double CD set, providing a first opportunity to listen and immerse yourself in the noise deity’s most refined and touching body of work since going solo after Yellow Swans’ demise.
Starting in 2014 with the follow-up to his split side with Peter Broderick and the agitated themes of Riots Don't Just Happen and Soldier's Requiem, the two parts of The Disciplined Body make up Volume I with a desolate drone tract of keening strings under fire from militant "poly-vocal drumming" before seceding to shimmering guitar chords and a blistering post-rock crescendo almost worthy of Godspeed or MBV over its 37 minute duration.
Volume II meanwhile factors inspiration from the novel Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata - a tragic Japanese love tale - with nods to the structures of Gagaku, or classical imperial court music, and the emerging field of ASMR, in a methodical combination of burning psych guitars and visceral noise tones punctuated by taiko drumming, plus a cover of Miles Davis’ My Funny Valentine, all written for the choreography of experimental theatre company Theatre Replacement and the dance creators 605 Collective.
Movement Building Vol. III simultaneously wraps up and expands the project to its logical endpoint thru a steadily tempered and stealthy narrative inspired by the choreography of Vanessa Goodman, matching the themes of her What Belongs To You  piece - namely shelter, love, self-actualization, as per Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” - with a stoically emotive cadence reflected in Salomon’s dread filled drums and his slow burning, apocalypse-dawn shoegaze panoramas. The effect could be said to resonate as much with those ancient concerns as the paranoia induced by corporate driven, social media enabled surveillance state - but the resolution is ambiguous; do we look to a sore past for hope, or fear the future as time marches forward?