Japanese composer/demi-god Ryuichi Sakamoto presents an exquisitely oneiric and elusively spiritual new album inspired as much by the sound sculptures of Harry Bertoia as the magic of Andrei Tarkovsky’s seminal septet of celluloid classics.
It’s been some years since Sakamoto has placed his name at the top of a solo album proper - as opposed to his swathes of collaborations and film scores - and we can promise that the results herein are definitely worth the wait.
Imagined and realised after a period of fright with his health, Async captures Mr. Sakamoto at his most wistful and wonderful, meditating on the existentialist, ontological themes and atmospheres of Tarkovsky’s work from both a gauzily impressionistic aspect, and a quite literal one, employing readings of Tarkovsky’s poetry (poem transcribed in the liner notes) in a variety of languages from a coterie of contemporaries including long time collaborators David Sylvian, Bernardo Bertolucci (for whom he composed the OST for The Last Emperor) and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), among others.
Embracing both the fluidity and flux of Tarkovsky’s water analogies as well as the harmonic chaos of Harry Bertoia’s lush metal rod clangour, Sakamoto melds feather touch acoustic keys with field recordings, shimmering electronic patinas and signature synthesiser flourishes in a suite that beautifully lives up to and even transcends its influences, revealing some of the most achingly emotive yet often abrasive and abstract work in a catalogue now spanning over 40 years of exemplary work.
Beyond maybe Scott Walker, we can hardly think of another artist who has continued to expand their oeuvre over such a long period of time, and with an appeal quite like this, albeit respectively unique to their work. But Sakamoto really is in a league of his own here, utterly absorbing us with the dappled keys, organ haze and stereo starting doom synths of Andata, thru the stark Sonambient emulations of Disintegration to the romance of ZURE and the almost Toshiya Tsunoda-esque sensitivity of his field recordings woven into Walker or Honj, with humbling moments to be discovered in the switch from disorienting cinematic dialogue in Fullmoon to the legit Ligeti style violence of Async, and again in the curdled chromatics of FF and the Gas-eous swells swirling about Garden.
Thurston Moore entered The Church studios in London to record new songs with producer Paul Epworth, the pair created a dynamic vibratory match (with the realization that they were both Leos, on the cusp of Cancer, born on 25 July.) The session was mixed by Randall Dunn (Marissa Nadler, Sunn 0))), Earth, Boris) at Avast! Studios in Seattle.
"Thurston Moore had been touring since the critically acclaimed release The Best Day introduced the core members James Sedwards (guitar), My Bloody Valentine's Deb Googe (bass) and Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley (drums). Rock n Roll Consciousness is Thurston's focus on this group's strength, beauty and promise, with an unleashing of James Sedwards' brilliant guitar play, Deb Googe's minimalist ethic and Steve Shelley's in-the-pocket swing dynamism.
The songs here are expansive, anthemic and exploratory with lyrics, co-written with poet Radio Radieux, investigating and heralding the love between angels, goddess mysticism and a belief in healing through new birth. They range from the opener "Exalted", an unfolding and emotional journey in homage to sacred energy and exaltation, to "Cusp" a springtime charging, propulsive piece with a feeling of Sonic Youth mixing in with My Bloody Valentine to "Turn On" a pop-sonic poem to holy love both intimate and kosmiche to the contemplative mystery of life-defining time travel in "Smoke of Dreams". The record concludes with "Aphrodite", a strange and heavy no wave rocker in salutation to the idol of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.
Rock n Roll Consciousness is a new chapter for Thurston, and promises to be a creative highpoint for anyone interested in his legacy of avant-garde music and writing, as strong a statement as anything he has recorded these last three decades - serious and precocious and strangely accessible."
As Young Druid, John T. Gast distills his most endearing Midi-eval energies into a suite of LED candle-lit fugues and funky Myrdas, making a sterling follow-up to his UVA_roots_and_destruction mixtape for Richard Sides’ Bus and the INNA BABALON tape in 2016, which was also self-issued on his 5 Gate Temple label.
Concocted from a bank of recordings alchemised on one box and a two-track recorder, Young Druid follows 12 ley-lines of investigation with findings equally applicable to occult soirees and the downtime of amateur archaeologists and tyrannical trap lords alike; conjuring a haul of exquisitely ornate, glyphic hooks, gilded dub grooves and smoked-out chamber themes of a supremely rarified yet earthly air.
They bear a striking resemblance to the bright, poised baroque MIDI orchestrations of Coil as much as King Tubby’s classic digi dubs, splitting the fine difference between K. Leimer’s new age experiments and Roland Young’s mystiphonic experiments or even Wiley and Geneeus’ early grime etudes; essentially divining an obscure, arcane and meditative sense of spirituality that transcends time and place with a broad appeal to armchair and headphone-dwelling mystics of all stripes.
If you need any prompts, check the creamy luft of Young Druid for a start, then the cross-eyed invocation of Fugue and the Jammer-meets-kenji Kawai stepper, Myrda, and Blue’s exquisite trip hop pallor and you should have a good measure of the variety and consistency of mood and vibe therein.
10 year anniversary celebration for Echospace with a new release from Deepchord presents Echospace.
"The set was recorded live at “Ghost In The Sound” on 05/26/2013 a few miles away from Hart Plaza. An official Movement after party curated by The Detroit Paranormal Society in association with Echospace, and now re-mastered by Rod Modell. From the second the bass dropped, it stole the breath from the room! This duo started off as barely more than a rumor supported mostly by the continous scarcity of their records.
The duo comprised of Detroit's Rod Modell and Steven Hitchell have spent nearly two decades producing low-key electronic music both bordering on the verge of myth. They're considered by many the most noted producers operating in the dub-infused aftermath of the Basic Channel axis and all its myriad offshoots. Once their critically-acclaimed The Coldest Season emerged on one the UK based Modern Love imprint, the curtain was unveiled and the sound of Echospace was born. They've often been coined the true heirs to the Basic Channel legacy but their work finds a home somewhere on the outskirts of the galaxy, where Detroit soul ties to Jamaican roots played through a tunnel in deep space.
This evocative, immersive sound that is Echospace was born out of a love and passion for analog circuitry, sound design, field recordings and non-conventional methods of recording. But it's also work that's quintessentially building upon the Detroit electronic scene where it was born, and that divine marriage of roots and vision make the work at once so highly considered, so pertinent and so timeless. This is the first new album from the Echospace duo since the critically-acclaimed Silent World (OST) 3LP/CD set dropped 5 years ago, it features live renditions of some of their classics as well as unreleased material. Expect gorgeous plumes of sound deeper than the ocean floor, a rich analog tapestry made and performed in the heart of Detroit, Techno City!"
At the invitation and by the design of Mark Greenberg (The Coctails, eleventh dreamday), half of this record was recorded mostly live at Wilco’s Loft Studio in Chicago with a band that included James Elkington, Gerald Dowd, Nick Macri, and Greenberg himself. Another half was made in TJO’s home studio in California with Devin Hoff, Wilder Zoby, Walt McClements and string supervisor Jim James. This album also features the voices of Chris Cohen, Carolyn Pennypacker-Riggs and Joan Shelley. Tara Jane ONeil plays guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion.
"TJO describes her new record as a “singer-songwriter” endeavor—a description which could apply to much, if not all, of TJO’s solo work. But there is something uniquely satisfying about this record’s willingness to offer individual songs qua songs, and to foreground her voice and lyrics. Unlike some songwriters, whose lyrics have the aura of sophistication because they’re essentially nonsense, or whose lyrics end up pretty banal once deciphered, TJO’s lyrics always repay the effort to discern them. She is a poet at heart, whose chosen phrases and images aim to communicate truly as much as to burrow and sound. As her vocals, lyrics, and melodies emerge into plainer sight on this record, it feels like an act of real, earned generosity. I get the feeling that she’s holding this record out to us, palms upturned, in the gold California sun; I already know it’s going to be one of my favorites.
Until the hammer comes down on us all—and even then—we’re living in an age in which music is more readily recognized as emanating from and belonging to people of all genders and sexualities. When TJO and I were coming up, there weren’t quite as many names for what we were or what we were doing, though certainly there were some. Nonetheless, we persisted. In TJO’s case, she pioneered. Like so many others, I basically just ran after whatever I saw in her, praying for a shred of that confidence, of that natural claim on innovation and presence that she seemed to possess. (I’ll never forget seeing TJO play with Come in the mid-90s, and promising myself on the way home to at least try, as a writer, to do whatever it was that I’d just seen Thalia Zedek and Tara Jane do with their guitars.)
In her music and life, TJO has modeled a new place to stand, new sounds to make, a new kind of artist and human to be. Her career is all the more remarkable for her music’s willingness to investigate quiet, minor, and fugitive sound even as her career at large has taken no prisoners. We are unspeakably lucky to be alive at the same time of her making and being—to behold, in real time, the unspooling of her unremitting ingenuity, voyaging, and grace."
Maggie Nelson Los Angeles, 2017”
The late, great J Dilla is widely regarded as one of the greatest hiphop producers of all time. Since his death in 2006, Dilla’s mother Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey has worked tirelessly to further her son’s legacy, and her latest effort is the new posthumous album Motor City.
For 2017’s archival Dilla delivery, Ma Dukes has picked 20 cuts from the archive of her son, the late, great hip hop architect, in dedication to Detroit, his home city.
His legion disciples will lap it all up. Us, we’re really feeling that medieval guillotine on the intro, the thumb pianos hooks of Motor City 3, and the low slung disco knocks of Motor City 14, but it’s frustrating hearing these amazing offcuts and wondering what mighta been…
Heart-rending new grime, pop and soul suite by the Gobstopper boss and Boxed co-founder following his productions for Katy B and P Money
Mr. Mitch presents grime as future UK soul music on his lush and deeply endearing sophomore album, Devout. Surrounded by family and friends and bringing his own vocals into play for the first time, it coolly and considerately sets a new benchmark for production and concepts within a style he’s helped to incubate for best part of a decade now.
Unmistakably fresh in aesthetic, but timeless in appeal, Devout is a contemplative album about “love, loyalty, family and the start and end of relationships” framing a cast of contributors including his son, Milo, as well as P Money and Palmistry, in a filigree-detailed, minimalist and melancholy dramaturgy intended to flip the script of typical grime and rap, as he says: “we all know the stereotype of the black dad with multiple children from multiple partners who is absent from he child’s life, we see it consistently in popular culture. I want to champion the alternative, which to me is just normal.”
Pricking the popular consciousness with a maturity and subtlety beyond many of his peers, Devout is frankly intimate and uniquely engaging; inverting grime’s aggressive side to reveal a resolute but aching soul within, in the process opening out its roadmap to encompass a vaporous, autotuned duet between Mitch and his oldest son, Milo at the front, which also reappears as the baroque R&B bump of Our Love, and thematic closure in the Afrobeats-inspired Oscar.
In between he touches almost club-worthy moments with Priority feat. P Money’s own thoughts on fatherhood, served honestly and without cliche, and we can also imagine Palmistry’s turn on VPN becoming a real percy in its own right, whilst Denai Moore and Py offer necessary balance of feminine pressure in the downstrokes of Fate and Pleasure, respectively.
But it’s all really tied together by Mitch’s quieter moments in between, like the blue - but not depressive - ambience of If I Wanted, or the artist’s lullaby-like dedication to his children in the deliquescent fragility of My Life.
One for the ages. UK soul music at its inventive best.
Wolfgang Voigt presents an incredible new chapter in the GAS saga almost 20 years since its last instalment, taking us deeper still into the recesses of that neon lit forest nightscape, just in time for that new series of Twin Peaks that's just around the corner...
Over the last two decades many listeners have become deeply familiar with Zauberburg, Königsforest, and Pop - many for the first time via the vital Nah Und Fern compilation , and with an even greater number becoming seduced and schooled via the comprehensive Box collection in 2016, which effectively sets the scene for this, Wolfgang Voigt’s keenly awaited re-arrival. Not to make him sound like christ or anything but, jeeeeez, we need this guy’s music now as badly as ever.
Under the title Narkopop, which suggests a continuation of the themes explored by its predecessor, Pop , as well as a succinct acknowledgement of his music’s putative purpose, the Kompakt kingpin floods the senses with what must be a life-threatening dose to folk who are AMSR responsive or suffer cardiac respiratory problems; you’ll either shiver yourself to a very pleasurable death or find yourself catching your breath at the point of systolic syncopation with Voigt’s inhale/exhale dynamics.
To be clear, the formula of etheric de/composition remains the same; there’s no studio skits or sidesteps into Ed Sheeraned polkapop (free ideas for the future right there, Wolfgang) - but the production and dense sense of tension is taken even further into that unique soundworld. The kicks remain as deep as your pulsatile tinnitus heard thru the pillow at night, whilst the strings are diaphanous and intangibly convective; slowly but surely directing the listener to a highly desirable state of delirium; along a spiralling Escher’s staircase to a beautiful nowhere.
It’s perhaps arbitrary to give a run thru of all the tracks because, as anyone who has immersed themselves in GAS will tell you, it’s quite likely that consciousness isn’t an option by the end of the recording, with the final tracks of his albums tending to be received by osmosis from behind closed eyelids. But, in case you have the concentration span of a long haul trucker or a tolerance for beta blockers, you’ll be well attuned to its valerian gauze and durational thrum, which picks us up at the very Leyland Kirby/The Caretaker-esque Narkopop 1, and carries thru distinct highlights in the breathtaking symphonic smudge of Narkopop 4, and the windswept aeolian harp shiver laced into Narkopop 6 before delivering us at the feet of a towering, cloud-shrouded holy mountain which gradually reveals its peak in Narkopop 10.
20 years on, it's still a sound that no one has managed to better, despite countless imitations.
Stunning record from Colin Stetson, continuing to redefine the saxophone’s role in contemporary music with an innovatively percussive and soaring follow-up to the trio of New History Warfare volumes released by his neighbours at Montréal’s Constellation. This time Stetson takes charge of everything - from engineering to mixing, production and release - to present a gripping document of timeless instrumental virtuosity and visionary solo persistence that somehow sounds like Autechre whipping up an ancient Sufi dervish.
Anchored in spirit and narrative somewhere between NHW:Vol.3  and Never Were The Way She Was , and making pointed use of his instrument’s myriad percussive possibilities, All This I Do For Glory was typically recorded without overdubs of loops to effectively bring the listener unflinching close to Stetson’s practice, like you’re the lone front row spectator facing the artist and his massive bass sax in a huge but deserted auditorium.
Shut your eyes, however, and the man incredibly appears to diffract and multiply into trio or quartet; somehow blowing, singing and knuckling out loping, irregular rhythms thru his instrument all at the same time. To break it down as simply a result of circular breathing, microphone placement and extended technique would be doing the results an immense disservice, though, as Stetson is patently transcending method and style to achieve something far more ambitious and disbelief-suspending in each of the record’s six parts.
Like some archaeoacoustic rendering of Autechre playing unplugged in Plato’s Cave, the results thoroughly play with perceptions of electronic and acoustic music: firstly like a cranky blues geist divined by Áine O’Dwyer in the loping, stomping chamber blues-folk buzz of All This I Do For Glory; and then with supernal, lupine elegance described in the wordless vocals and furtive, zigzagging search-and-destroy tactics of Like Wolves On The Fold; or with a perception-baiting buzz and syncopated convulsion that runs ragged along the line between programmed electronic music, improvisation and modern classical in the supernatural, paraphysical emulation of Between Water and Wind and the naturalistic techno-vortices of Spindrift and In The Clinches; before scrambling previously unscaled heights of polyrhythmic scree and windswept harmonic updrafts with agility comparable to a flock of mountain goats traversing an escarpment in the complexity and fixated, hunched intensity The Lure Of The Mine.
It’s truly rare that we hear artists blur the line between perceptions of acoustic reality and the modelled projections of electronic music with such delirious, remarkable results as these.
College return with their third full length album, a rich, glowing and nostalgic synth-based offering reminiscent of previous works heard on the ‘Drive’ soundtrack but at the same time exploring a unique and conceptual world - ‘Shanghai’ - giving College’s textural and atmospherical works a brand new dimension.
"‘Shanghai’ is an album inspired by the city itself - its culture and architecture; a melting pot of many things. Musically College draw on 90s sounds and the work from artists including Mark Snow, Angelo Badalamenti, Joe Hisaishi and Aphex Twin.
In College’s own words: “This record is a mysterious ballad in the heart of 1920s Shanghai... An invitation to travel, a tribute to the refinement and in the delicacy of a fantasized and blurry period of time, which fed the imagination of the musicians, the artists and the architects of this mythical city. Young chinese singer Hama, a Shanghai native, also honors me by singing on the title ‘Love Peas’.”
bvdub is Brock Van Wey, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area. Devoting his life to the SF rave scene in the late 80's, he began to DJ and promote his own deep house and ambient events in 1991, rising 10 years before a self-imposed exile to China in 2001 to escape the state of a scene he could no longer accept.
"He began to produce his own music in 2006, first releasing in 2007 on Night Drive Music. Soon after, his overtly emotional sound spread to Styrax, Millions of Moments, Southern Outpost, and Meanwhile, before a natural and gradual shift to his trademark ambient onslaughts saw him call n5MD, Glacial Movements, AY, Darla, echospace [detroit], Kompakt, his own Quietus Recordings, and many more home.
Now returned to his hometown, he has continued his prolific output, with a string of self-released CD and digital-only releases, a monolithic rework of Vortexual [element seven] for echopace [detroit], and his newest, most wistful and hypnotic work yet - his return to Glacial Movements, with Epilogues for the End of the Sky. Brock has also released numerous ambient projects under his given name, deep house as Earth House Hold, and drum & bass as East Of Oceans."
Disco, Funk and modernized Arabic Pop from Egypt!
"In the beginning of Habibi Funk, our search was focussed on vinyl records. Around a year ago though, we got to the point where we realized that it became substantially harder to discover music, that we enjoyed and hadn't heard before. It became apparent that it was time to start looking for other formats. Cassette tapes were the obvious alternative. These were introduced in the arabic world around the late 1970s. In some countries they took over a bit earlier, in others a bit later, but eventually they pushed the vinyl format out of the market in the 1980s. In Egypt this trend already even started in the late 1970s.
Al Massrieen was one of the first bands I learned about once I discovered the tape format for myself. They were really popular in Egypt in the 1970s and the more of their music I found on either tapes or Arabic pirate mp3 sites, the more I was becoming a fan. Only very few bands from the region can match the band's versatility as well as their strive for innovation. Hany Shenoda is the man behind the Al Massrieen band. He is a reknown figure of the Egyptian music scene and has worked with everyone from Abdel Halim Hafez to Mohamed Mounir. Al Massrieen was his attempt to introduce his ideas of modernizing Egyptian music, heavily encouraged by Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt's only winner of the Nobel Price for literature) after discussing his ideas with him.
Al Massrieen's sound goes from lush disco like "Sah" to psych rock like "Horreya" or incredible jazz fused pop on songs such as "Edba Mn Gded". I was shocked to realize the band seemed to be hardly known outside Egypt, even though I feel they're at least on the same level as Ahmed Fakroun. An relative obscurity which I largely attribute to the fact that their releases never have been pressed on vinyl (apart from a Greece best of LP which wasn't a strong compilation of the group's songs). One way or another it felt like this band and especially their composer, band leader and overall brain Hany Shenoda was in need to get some recognition outside of Egypt."
Typically sublime chamber works issued by Sonic Pieces with all the attention to detail you'd expect from this impeccable label. It’s a deeply contemplative affair rendered through layered strings and found sounds that will hugely appeal to anyone enamoured with the work of Richard Skelton or Max Richter.
The violin is at the core of these pieces, flanked by the low hum of double bass, piano and quiet percussive flourishes; all acoustically recorded with minimal digital processing. Berg does that thing of creating huge widescreen vistas with the most intimate of components; which is essentially what the Sonic Pieces label is all about.
It’s an exceedingly comprehensive, detailed reminder of music as an intimate art form, crafted by an unusually patient and perspicacious performer that by the sounds of it will soon be joining the likes of Johann Johannsson, Ben Frost, Max Richter and Cliff Martinez at the upper tier of artists who have emerged from the corners of this scene and gone on to establish a huge presence in the world of commercial, big budget film scoring.
If you’ve spent any time with Max Richter’s groundbreaking The Blue Notebooks, this one comes hugely recommended.
Tompkins Square's recent double-LP, Imaginational Anthem vol 8 : The Private Press shed light on forgotten, impossibly rare guitar recordings spanning several decades. Tom Armstrong's The Sky Is An Empty Eye is the first of several reissues planned by Tompkins Square of full albums by artists featured on IA8.
"Armstrong's self-released LP from 1987 sports blissed out acoustic numbers like the one featured on IA8, along with some electric workouts and even a deep pysch vocal tune. Tom's main mode of distribution for the album was handing the LP to drunken patrons at a bar in Pinos Altos, NM. Now Tompkins Square makes it a bit easier to acquire.
In his own words, today : I was born in Elmhurst IL, lived there 29 years. Had a brief career playing open mikes and bars for tips, drinks and nominal cash payments, even gave some guitar lessons. In 1984 I was offered a half partnership in an engineering firm in Dallas, so I moved to Texas. Made a big pile of money. My wife bought me a Tascam 4 track recorder for my birthday, I went crazy with it.
Recorded a bunch of melodies that had been rattling around my brain since I was 8 years old. Liked what I heard, decided to make an LP. It wasn't too hard to track down a studio to master my 4 tracks. By this time I was an old hand at graphic design for promotional material, so I designed the cover myself. Handed the albums out to business associates, as promotional material for other business interests, at a drunken open mike at a bar in Pinos Altos, NM. I continued to record for about another 10 years, blues rock, pop. Really refined my recording skills. Still play once in while, but I'm an old fart now, with all the baggage that entails."
Mika Vainio's Ø project with the first new album since 2008's incredible 'Oleva'.
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 sub-par 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.
For reasons that will become lysergically clear once you’ve heard the samples, Midori Takada's sublime debut album Through The Looking Glass  is widely regarded the holy grail of ‘80s Japanese ambient & minimalist music. Perhaps it’s no wonder that 2nd hand copies are known to trade for over £600, and, therefore this deluxe reissue is welcomed by a whole new generation of listeners tracing this enchanted sound back to source.
Rooted in Midori Takada's fascination with Asian and African percussion traditions, Through The Looking Glass documents the Japanese musician navigating syncretic channels of practice between floating fantasy kingdoms and parallel ambient dimensions whilst guided by a deeply ethereal, oneiric spirit that’s utterly key to the album’s appeal. While it broadly falls under the ambient banner, the results are far too grand and ambitious to be considered sonic wallpaper - they’re more like widescreen tableaus that open out exponentially the deeper in you dive.
The image of a Lady Godiva-like character riding a hare-sheep-horse chimera on the cover symbolises the surreal confluence of ideas and gestures within; a Japanese musician translating Victorian psychedelic fantasies into a language of rippling rhythmelodies and softly pealing harmonics that nod to Pygmy music as much as gamelan traditions, the soundtracks of Cocteau films and precise marimba patter.
The rest, we’ll leave for your dilated discovery. Take it on trust that this is especially spellbinding and sui generis stuff without complete comparison. A dream.
Remarkable recordings of the breath/wind-controlled EVI analog synth (as used by Marshall Allan), rendering a massive range of coruscating pastoral synth visions that intersect everyone from Hieroglyphic Being to BoC, or Kara-Lis Coverdale to Colin Steson, who cosigns below…
“’I could go on and on about the insane virtuosity, about the rare analog wind synth that almost no one in the world plays anymore, about the most unique intervallic melodies and harmonies, but it's all secondary to the simple beauty that Justin Walter is able to conjure up with his solo music.' Colin Stetson
Michigan trumpeter Justin Walter's solo work centers on evocative, intuitive explorations of the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument), a rare wind-controlled analog synthesizer from the 1970's.
Its unique, smeared tonality allows for an expressive range of glassy, jazz-like textures, which Walter loops and layers with hushed electronics and twilit trumpet, painting opaque landscapes of resonant beauty.
Walter's 2013 debut, Lullabies & Nightmares, included a handful of collaborations with percussionist Quin Kirchner but Unseen Forces finds him fully solo, refining the project to its essence: shape-shifting watercolors of pastel haze, lit by the soft synthetic glow of electric breath. It's a sound both modern and timeless, fusing emotion and technology, gauze and melody, force and fragility.
From Justin Walter: Unseen Forces is a collection of recordings that document the use of improvisation as a means to create sounds that can either function on their own or serve as the foundation of, or source material for, additional improvisation. There was a definite process used to create this music but at no point was any music ever written or composed.
When putting this music together I was often aware of feelings related to density, spacing,
silence, and the sense of time pulling back on itself, like trying to stretch a scene and pull on it in ways that distort it ever so slightly. This is a record of melodies, alone and in complex relation. This music is a reflection of both feeling, and thought, as much construction as composition. The recordings of the EVI, as well as the sequencing done using samples of those recordings, are mostly the result of exploring melody through intuition. Harmonically simple, but with a complex pallet of texture.”
Bedroom Community founder Valgeir Sigurðsson explores the temporal and textural gulf between classical orchestration and electronic production within the three movements of Dissonance, his 4th solo album (first since Architecture of Loss ), and the most aching addition to his illustrious catalogue of solo work and collaborations with everyone from Björk to Tim Hecker and Robert Wyatt.
The latest extension of his world-renowned practice, exposing and rejoining the fissures of Western classical traditions with contemporary sound manipulation, the finely layered symphonic swell and ebb of Dissonance is the artist’s attempt to reflect and consolidate both a period of personal strife and the underlying tensions of the wider world in a way that perhaps shows he’s not alone in feeling that way.
Using a laborious technique of recording each section of the 16-piece orchestra individually, before gilding them in post-production to really bring out their respective nuance and character, Sigurðsson effectively isolates and emphasises the chaotic qualities of massed, off-key strings in order to give himself up to their tumult and better control their, and his, emotions.
The result is a vast, side-long title piece of heaving, weeping, wilting viola da gamba played by Liam Byrne, and so anxious and quietly fraught that they keep slipping off the stave yet fight against the pressure in a perpetual struggle to remain positive and on-course against the odds. It’s not an easy piece but it is rewarding in its execution and resolution.
On the other side, the whole 16-parts of the orchestra come into play on the five parts of No Nights Dark Enough with a very cinematic quality emerging thru Flow to the electronic aurora of Infamy Sings and the pinched peak of Learn to Condemn Light, whilst the three parts of Eighteen Hundred And Seventy-Five appear to nod to Mozart as much as Star Wars.
To be fair, the B-side doesnt quite match up to that stunning A, but it's still an arresting album that comes highly reocmmended.
The noted Lisbon musician continues his quest to open a new dimension in sound with the final iteration of his long-running Space series.
Rafael Toral closes the loop on his Space Program ahead of schedule, ‘Space Solo 2’ his sixth and final outer-dimensional adventure as opposed to the series’ intended target of ten albums.
Continuing and expanding on the methods deployed in his first ‘Space Solo’ album from 2006, this second edition finds the Portuguese artist narrowing his craft down to just one instrument on each track. These include modulated feedback controlled through a Theremin, electrode oscillator, glove-controlled sinewaves and a series of modular synthesizer solos.
Whilst the Modular Synthesizer tracks occasionally sound like R2D2 hocked up on acid, Toral’s jazz-like mastery is evident throughout and is at its most decimating on the seven-minute Electrode Oscillator Solo.
RIYL K F Whitmann, Container, Metasplice and Senyawa.
Actress comes correct on a 5th album proper for Ninja Tune following a period of creative fecundity which has seen him DJ almost every corner of the globe and collaborate with the London Contemporary Orchestra at The Barbican on a project inspired by Xenakis, among many other things.
Taking its title from the moniker of his home-built studio, AZD forms a deep cartography of the new dimensions discovered between the wires and amid the haze of his equipment, modelling a suite of noumenal dancefloor extractions that could only come from one mind and place.
Turning up nearly a decade since his debut album Hazyville  effectively set in motion a phase-shift of fidelity which has arguably affected an entire spectrum of electronic music, on his 5th album Actress effectively parses a murkier selection of textural clag and heavy-lidded hooks with a more fluid secretion of internalized rhythms and in-built ruggedness.
It’s like he’s gotten deeper into the machines, or the machines have gotten deeper inside him - by turns dragging us, the listeners, farther into that zone of inseparable melancholy/ecstasy and stylishly writhing, sweat-burnt and THC-grained rhythms - of the sort that make you dance better no matter your actual capabilities.
He’s totally locked that vibe with the humid, Thriller-esque crystals and heads-down but dandy slam of Fantasynth and will send you reeling with the weightless steppers inversion of Blue Window, whereas Cyn neatly resets to a vintage, crunchy neck snap, before the up-tilt of X22RME intriguingly calves off into short monologue about semiotics sure to catch out the DJs.
Runner sounds naggingly familiar, like a flashback from a post-club Uber ride, and Falling Rizlas is his most attractive chamber-jazz since the R.I.P. phase, leading to a final run that really gets it right between the hardcore-sampling darkside buzz of Dancing In The Smoke, the noctilucent thizz of Faure In Chrome, and the romantic/voyeuristic ambiguity of There’s An Angel In The Shower.
And there you have it; an agitated, emotional, caustic and wickedly lush dispatch from the UK’s most important avant dancefloor mind.
Meditative, durational works for a 17th century organ, horn, trombone and microtonal tuba written by Ellen Arkbro, who has previously composed for early music ensembles and studied Just Intonation with La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Jung Hee Choi - Huge Recommendation.
“For organ and brass is comprised of two works by the Stockholm-based composer Ellen Arkbro. Both works focus on tuning, intonation and harmonic modulation. In previous projects, Arkbro composed for early music ensembles, wrote a series of durational pieces utilising synthetic tones and processed guitars, and, most recently, presented a work lasting 26 days at the Stockholm Concert Hall. for organ and brass looks back to Arkbro’s studies in Just Intonation with La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and their disciple Jung Hee Choi in New York, as well as with kindred spirit Marc Sabat in Berlin.
The title composition was written for an organ with a specific kind of historical tuning known as meantone temperament. It was only after locating an appropriate instrument—-the Sherer-Orgel dating back to 1624 in St. Stephen’s Church in Tangermünde, Northeastern Germany—-that Arkbro set about recording both for organ and brass and its counterpart, three. “Hidden within the harmonic framework of the Renaissance organ are intervals and chords that bare a close resemblance to those found in the modalities of traditional blues music,” explains Arkbro. “The work can be thought of as a very slow and reduced blues music.”
The work moves gradually through a series of long, sustained tones played by the organ and in parallel by a brass trio comprised of horn, tuba, and trombone. Arkbro’s treatment of pitch resembles the tuning strategies of La Monte Young. The brass parts were performed by microtonal brass trio Zinc & Copper, a group whose repertoire has included works by C.C. Hennix and Christian Wolff.
In Arkbro’s words, “the brass instruments and the organ fall into patterns of interaction in which a new breathing instrument emerges.” three, which follows the 20-minute title work, deploys the same principles of harmonic relativity. In removing the organ from the instrumentation and switching to a different meter, three acts as an intimate counterpoint to the ritual drone cycles of the title piece.
Ellen Arkbro is currently studying for her Master’s degree in music composition at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. Her work has been performed in Brooklyn, Stockholm, Norberg, Bologna, Gothenburg, Berlin, Birmingham, and Malmö, and on Swedish National Radio.”
Air Texture coax Juju & Jordash and Jonah Sharp (Spacetime Continuum) out of Amsterdam’s coffee shops long enough to gather this absorbing compendium of ambient pop and deep house themes from a creamy crop including Aybee, Fred P, Claude Young, Move D, I:Cube, Donato Dozzy, Gigi Masin and many more.
In the space between your eyes, between the horizontal and the vertical, they tee up 28 cherry-picked pieces that unfurl with delectable sequencing, arriving at some sublime highlights such as Patrice Scott’s pensile peach Synchronicity, the stately, Coil-esque chamber piece Fukui Morning from Claude Young, and a heavy-lidded treat called A Dialogue With Gravity from Tragic Selector, Terre Thaemlitz and Daisuke Tadokoro, along with a few of their own pieces like Sharp’s mellow melter Flux, and a couple of hushed Magic Mountain High exclusives for good measure.
Yes, Young Marco! The cultishly appreciated Dutch DJ and producer traces the links between Lowlands wave oddities, EBM, disco and US house in a prime double pack for Dekmantel’s Selector series.
We just came over all funny after seeing Force Dimension 200FA (Extended Mix) on the tracklist, which turns out to be Marco’s own edit of this stone cold ’89 EBM peach, and to be fair the original would cost about the same as this whole LP, so you’re winning from the start. You can trust he’s done a smart job on the edit, too!
The rest of the compilation is great, too: the percivals keep coming in the form of Green Baize’s slunky ace Spick and Span; Personal FX’s treacly roller Objects In Mirrors; a wavey late ‘80s Belgian beauty Televisiewereld by Gerrit Hoekema; and overlooked Larry Heard diamond, Dolphin Dream, a.o.
Following the excitement generated by the re-release of ‘Further’, ‘Chorus’ and ‘Distance’ last year, Domino are reissuing three more peerless early works from Flying Saucer Attack - the self-titled debut, ‘New Lands’ and ‘Mirror’.
Flying Saucer Attack’s self-titled debut album, released in 1993, was commonly known as ‘Rural Psychedelia’, an apt description for the rough-hewn soundscapes they crafted.
Following the excitement generated by the re-release of ‘Further’, ‘Chorus’ and ‘Distance’ last year, Domino are reissuing three more peerless early works from Flying Saucer Attack - the self-titled debut, ‘New Lands’ and ‘Mirror’.
‘Mirror’ would turn out to be Pearce’s final offering as FSA for 15 years but at the time of its release in 2000 it felt like the start of something exciting and new - it was seen in some quarters as one of the first great records of the millennium.
Following the excitement generated by the re-release of ‘Further’, ‘Chorus’ and ‘Distance’ last year, Domino are reissuing three more peerless early works from Flying Saucer Attack - the self-titled debut, ‘New Lands’ and ‘Mirror’.
‘New Lands’, released in 1997, was album proper number three, described by main man Dave Pearce as ‘phase two’ of the FSA project. It found Pearce operating alone and finally realising the guitar sound that had been in his head all along.
One of their strongest, widest appealing releases to date: Tombed Visions unleash the sepulchral invocations of Gareth Smith’s Vanishing - featuring members of Gnod and LoneLady concocting a proper midnight trip into scorched industrial scapes, given gravity and pathos by Smith’s impending, politicised lyrics. RIYL Ike Yard, Gnod, Einstürzende Neubauten
“Vanishing is the new album by Gareth Smith. Borne from the Islington Mill Arts Studios and featuring collaborations and contributions by members of Gnod, LoneLady and an array of other experimental musicians, it is the sound of blunted beats, stripped electronics and flares of melody, which coruscate around a deep emotional centre; words, that address a world, shifting, breaking, Vanishing.
Paddy Shine of Gnod is the most consistent contributor to Vanishing’s stark sound world, offering unused materials from his archives that were re-contextualised and carefully re-scored into the foundation of differing atmospheres chronicled on the albums 8 tracks. The original sources have been carefully re-contextualised, offering at times minimal tenderness, at times beautifully orchestrated passages, arranged and structured by Smith, to fit around his impassioned prose.
It is a prose that addresses a complex identity, both beautiful and brutalised, working through a plethora of difficult themes ranging from isolation, claustrophobia, social and political disenfranchisement. ‘As the recording process developed I realised I had created a musical platform to pursue the lyrical content to its fullest. This is the latest statement of my lifetimes work.’
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.
In which Italian techno maverick Donato Dozzy reworks material from US synth sorcerer Chris 'Bee Mask' Madak, generating seven serenely ambient, meticulously detailed themes that hark back to a more innocent, wide-eyed era of armchair exploration.
The two artists met last year at Japan's Labyrinth festival; having been commissioned to do a single remix for Madak, Dozzy found himself so stimulated by what he had to work with that he came back with an hour's worth of material - Spectrum Spools decided the only reasonable course of action was to release it all as a double-album. Dozzy's mastery of narrative is well-documented, whether in his celebrated work with Neel in Voices From The Lake or in the leftfield 4/4 gear he releases under his own name; his elegiac treatments of Bee Mask tend towards the astral melancholy of the former. 'Vaporware 1' and 'Vaporware 07' are typical of the whole, all intricately arranged bell-tones, humid field recordings and magnificently forlorn string-pads calling to mind the mid-90s Apollo missions of John Beltran, Locust or Thomas Fehlmann.
'Vaporware 02' retains more of the noise DNA that runs through the Bee Mask bloodstream but the atmosphere is still one of rarified despondency; the album's second half goes further into rhythmic, head-blown-off kosmische, building up to the climactic arpeggios of 'Vaporware 07', a sincere, irresistible articulation of IDM reminiscent of the original Black Dog or Kirk DeGiorgio in full space-flight.
Julia Holter opens Domino’s new Documents series of live recordings with a suite of new recordings of songs spanning her debut, Tragedy (2011) thru to Loud City Song (2013) and Have You In My Wilderness (2015), all taking the inspiration from classic BBC sessions and made over the course of two days at world class studio in London.
As anyone who has seen Julia play with her band - Corey Fogel (drums), Devin Hoff (double bass) and Dina Maccabee (violin) - will attest, her songs are really suited to intimate live performance, and it’s fair to say that this LP beautifully captures that aspect of her practice.
It reminds us of the time she played Manchester at the Anthony Burgess Foundation circa 2012; with the captivating singer eventually front and centre, making the seated crowd await her arrival in tense near-silence for a good 20 minutes; the kind of show where the crowd hold their breath ’til the end of each song and then melt afterwards.
We imagine you’ll do the same with this LP, but in the comfort of your own home.
Mannequin dig into the ruined foundations of ‘90s industrial rhythmic noise with reissue of Orphx’s debut cassette couplet and previously unheard 4-track tapes.
Scrolling back to early ‘90s Ontario, Canada - the site of Orphx’s first doings - Archive 1993-1994 reveals the noisy, abstract genesis of a unit who are maybe best known nowadays for their steely techno productions and valued modular synths skills, has released on Adam X’s Sonic Groove and heard alongside synthy collaborators ranging from Junior Boys’s Jeremy Greenspan to dark techno overlord, Dave Foster aka Huren in recent years.
Taking their cues from then contemporary European and Japanese noise scenes, Orphx hatched a feral and fucking busted sound that stirred improvised elements of power noise, electro-acoustic process and the notion of ‘death industrial’ into a crushing cacophony at their erstwhile member, Aron T’s basement studio named The Pit, wresting a guttural and unheimlich sound that wouldn’t be out of place on the Harbinger Sound catalogue or even Hospital Productions, who are coincidentally behind an expanded CD version of this collection.
The first disc of this set corresponds to their debut tape, 01 [Excretia, 1993], which was originally issued in edition of only 100 copies. It’s severely dank and distended stuff, akin to being pulped by a slow blowing sandblaster, prone to buckle and collapse under its own weight and undergo fits of spasming death gargle, with the’ rhythmic’ component pretty much reserved to the percussive detonations and metal-shearing screech of Excruciate and the bombed out hulk of Monophilia, which both make a mockery of much modern noise techno.
Disc two contains the gear off tape 02 [Excretia, 1994] along with unheard material, bookending the systematic immolation of Exposure and the very Prurient-esque Reservoirs of Infection with a much broader sound in the dive-bombing drone formation, Veil Of Dream and finally spewing up the black bile of the Wolf Eyes-like Beautiful Wreckage and a palpitating, cloven beast of Live Fragment 21/10/94, which is uncannily close to fellow Canucks, Wold/Black Mecha, but twenty years earlier.
It’s all basically as rare as chalky white dog shit (which we’ve not seen since the ‘90s; coincidence?!?!) and totally aches for the attention of noise grotbags everywhere.
Warp wrap up Gonjasufi’s salty af Callus album with a broadly compatible remix suite featuring various collaborators and mutual freaks, including a number of late ‘90s leftfield characters along with the LA beat scene and yung cats such as Moor Mother and Innsyter.
"The Mandela Effect is a recent phenomenon in which experiencers claim to be living in a reality slightly different from the one they remember. These differences, manifested in literature, movies, logos and even people themselves, constitute the evidence of an altered reality for ‘Mandela’ believers. The term was coined after large groups of people seemed to ‘misremember’ that Nelson Mandela had died during his imprisonment in South Africa.
Guests include Massive Attack’s Daddy G, Shabazz Palaces, Anna Wise, Ras G, Innsyter, Moor Mother, Perera Elsewhere, King Britt and a crew of Gonjasufi’s San Diego brethren."
Jeff Mills’ tribute to the Planets finally takes shape as a 2CD set housed in one of those clunky dual CD cases that used to house Now! compilations.
Suffice it to say that we’re not huge fans of this classical-meets-techno trajectory Mills is has been taking for the past decade - although, mind you there have been some highlights such as the Free Fall Galaxy album - but don’t let that put you off from checking this out, especially if you’re a sucker for Carl Sagan videos or retro-futuristic fetishism.
Long Distance Operators is a collaboration between the Australian musician Hugo Race and the Belgian violinist Catherine Graindorge.
"Hugo Race is a singer, songwriter, producer, and author, who has a long and wide-ranging history, from the trans-global Dirtmusic and his groups True Spirit and Fatalists, to his origins in the '80s Melbourne post-punk scene with Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and The Wreckery.
Catherine Graindorge is a Belgian violinist, composer, and actress, known for her work with the Belgian groups Monsoon and Nox, and more recently with Détroit (Bertrand Cantat and Pascal Humbert), John Parish or the German singer Andrea Schroeder. She also plays and composes for theater and cinema. Long Distance Operators is an intensely atmospheric dream-weave of violins, electronics and Hugo's darkly evocative voice.
The duo explores metaphysical lyrics, experimental sounds and retro-baroque orchestrations in a romantic, song-based context.”
Mean and muscular fusion of free jazz honk, psych rock and bluesy swagger from the Norwegian trio of Axel Skalstad, Jørgen Mathisen and Tom Hasslan aka Krokofant. File somewhere in the gulf between Mahavishnu Orchestra and Peter Brötzmann
“Krokofant typify a new and invigorating movement currently sweeping across the Nordic region: hard boiled improvisation and strong instrumental personalities bolted onto rock beats and driving rhythms. Equally powerful on record and on stage, Krokofant pull no punches, sounding off like some unholy three-way marriage of early 70s jazz rock (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Terje Rypdal), the sprawling progressive odysseys of King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator, and the fierce heat of John Zorn or Peter Brötzmann’s harsh free jazz ensembles.
If their 2014 debut album was a fresh breath of youthful energy, the follow-up showed a trio more confident of their abilities after extended live work. Their third album in just three years follows in this tradition, with Mathisen’s fat syntheziser tones adding a new colour to the soundscape. They still ally a strong discipline with wide, exploratory arcs, Tom’s agile guitar and Jørgen’s snaking sax fighting to break out, just held in check by Axel’s tough, rhythmic tumble. Only 23 years old, the young drummer is something of a sensation, combining pure energy with superior technical skills.
This is a trio where you can hear the individuals pushing each other to new heights while keeping the solid group foundation intact.”
Important electronic music pioneer Bülent Arel is subject of this crucial Sub Rosa retrospective, digging up some of his earliest works to present formative context for some of contemporary music’s most advanced operators. A must check for anyone who’s been snagged on the unique abstraction of early electronic music
"Bülent Arel's (1919-1990) work occupies a special place in the history of electronic music, with one thing being certain: Arel's work is still fresh, groundbreaking, and it always look outs for the next adventure in sound. Sub Rosa present a collection of his works here as part of their Early Electronic series. Bülent Arel was a Turkish-born American composer of electronic and contemporary classical music. He was also a devoted teacher, a sculptor, and a painter. From 1940 to 1947, Arel studied composition, piano, and 20th century classical music at the Ankara Conservatory. In 1959, Arel came to the US on a grant by the Rockefeller Foundation to work at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center.
By that time the center had just started out under its director Vladimir Ussachevsky. During Arel's work in Princeton he also met Edgard Varèse, with whom in 1962 he worked on the electronic sections of Varèse's Déserts. Frank Zappa lists Arel as a key influence. Today's electronic music - whether it is Autechre's Confield (2001), Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Vol. II (1999), or Squarepusher's Do You Know Squarepusher (2001) - builds upon a solid foundation which Bülent Arel helped to pave."
On Arca’s amazing 3rd, eponymous album - his debut for XL - the Venezuelan/American artist reveals his vocals, guts and more (check the press shots; which, to be fair, aren’t a patch on E+E’s old Myspace pic) in a riveting suite of tortuous torch songs riddled with violent electronic tones and heart-wrenching levels of emotive pathos.
If Xen  was a chrysalis for Arca to nervously find his place in the world, and Mutant  revealed him shedding that exosleketon and becoming flesh, then Arca documents the preeminent artist coming to terms with his soul in typically unflinching fashion thru 13 songs about, well, we’re not 100% sure; but they’re detectably as heavy as your life and every bit as unnerving, compelling as the sore, longing face looking out from Jesse Kanda’s artwork.
After first coaxing his voice out on the Entrañas mixtape in summer ’16, it is now a fully fledged and confidently integral part of his music on Arca, and to the extent it’s now almost hard to imagine his sound without it. Ranging from quivering, castrati-style to richer, processed lows, it turns out to be the perfect foil for his plasmic electronic scales, serving to match and emphasise the operatic/cabaret dramaturgy of his arrangements with an effect at times as surreal as Julee Cruise’s performances in Twin Peaks, or one of Coil’s studio sprites come to life, or even like some Kaspar Hauser-esque R&B diva who just emerged from another dimension.
Lead singles Piel and Anoche set the scene for 43 minutes of the most arresting music you’ll hear in 2017, sweeping us thru the windswept crest of Saunter and the oily sensuality of Reverie to the pinched, curdled chamber music of Castration at the album’s agitated instrumental core, whose chaos subsides to make the appearance of his soaring vox in Sin Rumbo (a highlight of the aforementioned Entraps mixtape) that much more poignant.
Farther in, you can trust Arca’s visceral sound design skills are in cutting effect with Whip, used to beautiful effect framing rave horns and expansive swooshes around the naked, shivering but soaring vox of Desafío, while Fugaces sounds like Julee Cruise reworked by Elysia Crampton, and Child dances on your nerve endings like Drukqs-era AFX rescoring Vangelis for prepared piano.
Clark toys with the “most perfect synth” aka the human voice on his eighth and latest album for Warp.
Death Peak! Surely the recommended way to pronounce Clark’s latest album is with your very best Don LaFontaine voice. The Warp massive will be all over ‘Death Peak’ which further finesses Clark’s canny LP formulae of splicing multiple sonic DNA sources into his main molecular structure, ensuring the end result doesn’t lose its inherent Clarkness. The main difference to previous Clark albums is the introduction of vocals – thankfully not Karl Hyde’s, that’s right Warp and Eno we haven’t forgot – but rather implemented as an instrumental element by the producer.
Commencing with the spry, malevolent drama of opening interlude Spring But Dark, Clark leads all on a merry dance through nine tracks that touch on early Hessle wrong footers, post-trance digressions of Evian Christ or Lorenzo Senni, and the intricate sound design of Laurel Halo.
After spending the duration of the album exploring these ideas in isolation, Clark elects to cram several into the nine-minute closing suite Un U.K.
Düsseldorf's 2nd greatest band return with a new album of improvisational krautrock inspired by modern society’s plummet down the toilet.
Who would have bet on Düsseldorf veterans Kreidler to be among the first bands to do a ‘John Oliver’ and deliver a musical riposte to the unfolding Trump era? According to Bureau B, Detlef Weinrich and his fellow Kreidlerites had wrapped up a new LP early last year that showed a more playful and light side to the modern-day dark kraut-poppers. The ‘brutal shock of the US election’ left the band thinking this album wasn’t the correct message to send out so they swiftly set about laying down tracks for an all-new LP more in line with their trademark rhythmic dystopia.
‘European Song’ is the result of those swiftly-convened sessions, a five-track album rife with nervous energy that is all the more impressive for being improvised one take recordings. The politically-loaded inspiration doesn’t bear too much of a weight on the music though, acting more as spontaneous impetus to drive Kreidler’s refined chaos.
Fans of their classic 2010 album, ‘Tank,’ will love this new Kreidler set with both Kannibal and Radio Island bearing further traces of the band’s giallo love. The latter finds the band achieving a particularly devilish harmony, twisting abstract kraut rhythms with fluttered melodies over 13 intense minutes.
The eagerly anticipated follow-up to Future Islands last album, ‘Singles’.
"Recorded in Los Angeles with Grammy Award-winning producer John Congleton at the legendary Sunset Sound (where everyone from The Beach Boys to Prince have laid down masterpieces), ‘The Far Field’s twelve chest-pounding love songs and odes to the road brilliantly express the central themes the band have been exploring for the last decade: that there is power in emotional vulnerability, that one can find a way to laugh and cry in the same breath - and be stronger for it."
Peter Broderick returns with Allred & Broderick – a duo project between him and his musical partner David Allred
"Armed with nothing but their voices, a violin and an upright bass, Allred & Broderick began their journey to create an album as minimal as possible. Recorded in Peter’s studio The Sparkle on the Oregon coast, the pair used this solitude to focus on creating something as raw and honest as possible, particularly in what some might deem unattainable during a time where complexity is sought most.
In a world full of noise and the anxieties of every day life, Find The Ways brings us together and reminds us to appreciate and confront the simple and fundamental facts of life, and that we as individuals will eventually find our way.
Words from Peter and David, January 2017:
“I sensed a truly unique character in David’s own music that is wonderfully heartfelt and sincere. With this recording David and I set out to make something raw which is an honest document of what we are capable of doing together at once, with just two acoustic instruments and our voices. The entire album was recorded live, with no overdubs and no edits. Just two guys playing together in a room. I have always dreamed of doing a project in which I only use my violin and my voice and David just plays upright bass and sings. It truly is a fifty-fifty collaboration.” – Peter Broderick
“It is such a pleasure to work with Peter. I feel that we're on the same page in more ways than one, both musically and non-musically. The making of this album was an incredibly fun challenge; writing music to be performed and recorded live with only violin, upright bass, and voices. It still amazes me that we managed to make a whole record with only those three elements. Over the years, I have felt a very strong connection to Peter's music and friendship, and I feel that this collaboration comes from a really good place. I hope this music gives the listeners a feeling of comfort, confusion and understanding.” – David Allred
XL Recordings release Nines’ eagerly awaited debut album ‘One Foot Out’. It follows his ‘One Foot In’ mixtape, titles informed by the desire to move away from street activity and towards the industry recognition he deserves.
"For those not familiar with with the most authentic name in London’s exploding underground scene, Nines hails from the Church Road Estate in North West London. Without the approval of the industry, Nines’ previous four music videos have amassed over 31.2 million views on YouTube. He has self-released four mixtapes since 2011 and his debut single ‘Yay’ sold over 30,000 copies - staggering figures that fully justify the hysteria surrounding Nines’ rap pedigree and which reinforce that this is no false dawn but a golden age for UK rap music.
In addition to the mixtapes and singles, Nines is also infamous for his ‘JD Sports Shutdown’ and ‘Turkey Shutdown’ videos (the former featured on Worldstarhiphop.com), which saw the rapper taking kids from his neighbourhood to JD Sports to buy them new trainers, as well as providing Christmas turkeys to those less fortunate to the whole of his Church Road Estate.
With production from the likes of Jevon (New Gen) and Menace (Desiigner’s ‘Panda’) and featuring guest appearances from Taylor Gang’s Berner, previous collaborator Tiggs Da Author, J Hus and Akala, ‘One Foot Out’ sees Nines stepping out of his comfort zone and displaying the depth of UK rap. His charismatic, laid back flow covers braggadocio on ‘High Roller’ (“Came through in the Audi you’re in that Honda Accord / All this gold got me looking like a Oscar Award”), soul searching on ‘I Wonder’ (“Wonder how all these guns get in to my area / wonder why they care about celebs instead of Syria”) and is filled with pop culture references (“acting like he’s shotting all that coke / looking invisible in the club like he’s got on Harry Potter’s cloak”), ‘One Foot Out’ is a statement of intent that should promote Nines into rap’s premiere league."
Something special from DDS - the long awaited album debut of avant-Dancehall mutations from Jamaica’s Equiknoxx, already tipped by everyone from Jon K to Mark Ernestus, featuring productions dating between 2009-2016, mastered and cut by Matt Colton, all on vinyl for the first time ever...
Equiknoxx are one of the weirdest, most innovative dancehall squads from Jamaica right now; Bird Sound Power is their debut collective show of strength, packing 12 avant, crooked riddims by core members Gavsborg and Time Cow, plus Bobby Blackbird and Kofi Knoxx, with vocals by Kemikal, Shanique Marie and J.O.E. (R.I.P).
The set was parsed and pieced together by Jon K & Demdike Stare , and now thanks to link ups via Swing Ting’s Balraj Samrai (a longtime livicated supporter), it’s issued on Demdike’s DDS imprint, replete with Jon K’s sleeve design.
Easily identified by the squawking bird idents peppering their cuts, Equiknoxx productions have been big in the dance since Gavin Blair a.k.a. Gavsborg produced Busy Signal’s billboard hit Step Out in 2005, followed by key instrumentals for Beenie Man, Aidonia, Masicka, and T.O.K.
Bird Sound Power arguably marks up the most striking riddim album you’ll hear in 2016, weighted with the potential to open up perceptions of current dancehall thanks to the mad character and broad reference points of its producers, encompassing King Jammy’s foundational digi-dub and Dave Kelly’s Mad House sound as much as rugged New York hip hop and the wigged-out, feminine pressure of Virginia Beach’s Timbaland or The Neptunes.
The oldest tune inside dates to 2009, but the rest are recent dancehall mutations, including a number of exclusives produced in the last 12 months. Each one reps for Equiknoxx’s unique aspects, such as Jordan Chung a.k.a. Time Cow’s brilliantly bizarre, layered arrangements of sawn-off hooks and digi-tight beats, also a result of their distinguished family vibe.
Bird Sound Power exists in a paradox, utterly fwd but classic, and with as much potential to turn new heads onto current JA sounds as Mowax’s Now Thing set back in 2001, which remains a key touchstone for so many contemporary producers. It’s one of the sharpest, most crucial DDS issues yet, check the clips and get sweaty...
Epic archival document from Raster Noton; the beginning of a comprehensive and authorized review of the past 20 years of the label. Comes with an exclusive CD featuring material from Kangding Ray, Emptyset, Alva Noto, Frank Bretschneider, Senking, Byetone, Atom Heart, Robert Lippok and more.
"A short introductory preface by Olaf Bender is followed by a keynote interview conducted by berlin publicist Max Dax that provides an insight into the identity and philosophy of the label heads. The main part of the book comprises the extensive catalog of all the releases published by the label between 1996 and 2016, while tabular listings of various formats and products that were distributed or curated by raster-noton complete the catalog.
A further exclusive part of the publication is the accompanying CD, which is only available when purchased with the book. Raster Noton‘s »archiv« series was first introduced in december 2003 as a supplement to »the wire« magazine and has since been continued in loose sequence with different artists related to the label. Following the idea of the label which defines itself as a platform for its artists, the releases in the catalog part are not presented according to their format, invested effort or meaning, but sorted according to their catalog number and presented on exactly one double page, whereas some series were summarized.
As a continuation of this archival revision, further books are planned that will document artist profiles, installations, composition techniques and sources of inspiration."
Goldfrapp’s 7th studio album is arguably among their most potent, poignant to date, and that’s no mean feat for a band approaching their 20th anniversary. This may be due to the input of fresh new hands such as Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak) and Leo Abrahams on a number of tracks, or simply down to Goldfrapp assuming their mantle as one of the world’s best-loved and persistent synth-pop units, but either way they’ve cooked up a goodun with Silver Eye.
Where their previous outing Tale Of Us  dabbled with pastoral indie pop alongside the usual smoky, noirish themes, they’ve returned to what they do best here; slickly glam and sensual synth pop proper, illustrated in glossy, sweeping DX7 synth contours and gilded with Alison Goldfrapp’s timeless grasp of impeccable, romantic songwriting.
The mingling of fresh young blood with Goldfrapp’s anachronisms makes for a record that could have been released at almost any point in their catalogue but somehow sounds very now, in a sort of ‘90s-referencing way - which we’d largely put down to the input of Bobby Krlic on four tracks in particular; on the glam stomp of opener Anymore, suggesting NIN meets Taylor Swift, in the sublime DX7 strokes and shoegaze guitar burn of Tigerman, and thru to the biting point crunch and detached vocal processing of Become The One, or the way how Moon In Your Mouth somehow sounds like a beautifully hyper-stylised version of Dido - and we mean that most respectfully.
The rest is sterling, too; highlights also to found in the lip-biting darkroom greazer, Systemagic; the perfectly curdled chords and Alison’s dry ice poise in Faux Suede Drifter; the Fever Ray-like techno-pop thump of Zodiac Black; or the misty-eyed beauty of Beast That Never Was, featuring Slip associate and Brian Eno collaborator Leo Abrahams.
Charmingly fluffy and melodic tech-house bubblers from the artist also known as Baths.
“Ask Will Wiesenfeld to contrast his project Baths with the music made under his Geotic alias and you’ll get a simple response: Baths is active listening, Geotic is passive listening. But behind this straightforward duality exists two projects that are equally poignant yet starkly distinct, reflective of the emotional complexities of its creator.
Don’t mistake “passive listening” for anything remotely resembling apathy. Released on Ghostly International, Geotic’s Abysma might be dance music created for at-home listening, but it’s replete with a quiet beauty and private communion that can rival anything made to command the totality of your attention span. In a world riven by noise and distraction, Abysma is as subtle as Sunday morning ritual, a tender epiphany in a bombastic fireworks show.
As with almost everything American, our dance music gravitates towards extremes. There’s big-room spectacle and strobelites, epileptic lights and steroidal drops, or stripped down techno and house cool. Big Macs or organic grass-fed Wagyu on brioche. What’s rare are albums like Abysma—ones that offer propulsive beats and immersive grooves, refined piano and string compositions occasionally buoyed by Wiesenfeld’s seraphic croon.
Abysma’s unspoken goal is to offer a finishing touch of décor to the apartment—eight celestial burners to rest alongside the Japanese flourishes, comic art, and framed prints. A song like “Laura Corporeal” strikes an atmospheric tone, sad and distant but still danceable. The finale, “Valiance” takes an opposite tack, ending the album on a more positive uplifting note.
It’s a very colorful but simultaneously muted album—a reflection of the music that emerged from the apartment, a rich space in physical and sonic expression.”
Hauntingly restrained vocals and gently sweeping cello arrangements from Rebecca Foon a.k.a Saltland, with Warren Ellis guesting on four instrumental parts.
“A Common Truth is the second album by Saltland, the solo project of veteran Montréal cellist and composer Rebecca Foon. Following the acclaimed 2013 debut I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us Foon performed Saltland live in various successful configurations, but as the concept and compositions for a new album began to materialize, she wished to further expand on an approach with her cello as primary source for all sounds on the record. Combining unadulterated, processed and sampled cellos, A Common Truth largely reflects this commitment and results in an album of gorgeous integrity, restraint, and meditative intensity. The one notable exception: longtime friend and prior collaborator Warren Ellis (Nick Cave, Dirty Three) is the album's special guest player, contributing violin, pump organ and loops to the album's four instrumental tracks.
Working with engineer Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes), Foon has produced a song cycle that alternates between wordless instrumentals and lyric-driven pieces, balancing austere, organic intimacy and lush, multi-layered expansiveness. The analog warmth of Lasek’s naturalistic rock production anchors Saltland’s juxtaposition of dry and processed strings, with the placement of Foon's voice very much within the mix but never veiled or concealed; a voice described as "an instrument of somnolent, gossamer allure which floats gracefully amid the eddying, amniotic music" (Mojo, 2013). Electronic music strategies, via signal processing and re-sampling, are deployed minimally and judiciously – and all the more powerfully as such.
A Common Truth also importantly channels other strands from Rebecca's life: the record is about climate change and marks an attempt to musically translate a complex mix of emotional, social and political resonances in this regard. The album's atmosphere and pace is guided by the coexistence of optimism and despair, resolve and resignation, the intimacy of the local/personal and the hope of the global/collective. Foon has devoted much of her life in recent years to working for decarbonization, land conservation and renewable energy – as a member of Sustainability Solutions Group cooperative, as founder of the conservation charity Junglekeepers, and as co-founder of Pathway To Paris, an international concert series bringing together musicians, writers and activists to help raise consciousness toward implementation of a robust international climate agreement.
Rebecca Foon's new Saltland album A Common Truth is a compelling coalescence and fullest musical expression of the inspiring trajectories charted by this committed and renowned artist, activist and organizer. Thanks for listening.“
Temporary Residence Limited and City Slang hook up to release Volker Bertelmann's eighth full-length outing as Hauschka (includes two bonus tracks).
Never afraid of dabbling in concepts, Volker Bertelmann’s latest Hauschka album finds the German in inspired form exploring life on earth some thirty years into the future which extends to the hypothetical nature of each track title.
Seemingly not content with his reputation for inventive techniques with prepared piano, Bertelmann expands his instrumental remit on ‘What If’ through toying around with the pianola, a Roland Jupiter 4 synth and an Eventide H3000 Harmonizer.
This results in an even richer, more unpredictable Hauschka experience across the nine tracks with the titles seemingly conducting the mood of Bertelmann’s compositions. The apparent nervous, fidgeting energy of I Can’t Find Water, the solemn piano romanticism of I Can’t Express My Deep Love, and the playful instrumental harmonics of We Live a Thousand Years