Jim O’Rourke pushes Apartment House to test their limits via an open-ended score for string trio requiring the players to whistle and sing wordlessly, with absorbing, minimalist results.
Commissioned by Anton Lukoszevieze of Apartment House, who also perform the work with exacting patience and nuance, ‘Best that you do this for me’ is a 50 minute work for string trio (featuring Lukoszevieze alongside Mira Benjamin and Bridget Carey) that also requires the performers to work out of their comfort zones, with additional instructions for them to whistle and sing, as well as play their instruments (violin, viola, cello.) The piece was originally performed in a 15 minute iteration for the BBC, but in this new expanded version its wider scope leads the players to unpredictable harmonic junctures as they work their way around its cyclical indications, overlapping into achingly mournful and sighing cadences with a glacially time-slipping quality.
O’Rourke was inspired to incorporate whistling and singing into the piece after re-listening to a few choral works by Martin Smolka, and was struck by how this relatively simple and always “on hand” instrument is rarely used. In the context of highly skilled instrumentalists such as Apartment House, the simple gesture of whistling and singing becomes a radical one, encouraging the trio to offset and balance their skills and intuition in a sometimes unnerving way that lends the work a beautifully uncertain character, unfurling like an archipelago of islands illuminated by moonlight and punctuated with gulfs of dark, pregnant silence.
Unmissable stuff here, collecting Japanese avant pop and ferric beats from the scene's darkest, most thrilling corners.
Compiled by Yosuke Kitazawa and Dublab's Mark “Frosty” McNeill, this latest collection of Japanese obscurities from Light in the Attic sweeps up bizarre loose threads that fall through the cracks between the label's already released collections of city pop and ambient and new age music. Those two compilations spoke to the YouTube-driven resurgence of interest in albums like Hiroshi Yoshimura's "Green" and artists like Happy End's Haruomi Hosono and Shigeru Suzuki, and "Somewhere Between" investigates the fringes, dark crevices and unpicked crates.
Here, the sounds are exceptionally varied, falling from Mammy's twinkling odd-world electronix on 'Mizu No Naka No Himitsu' and D-Day's shimmering, dry ice-laced 'Sweet Sultan', to the gloomy avant synth pop of Neo Museum's unforgettable 'Area' and R.N.A-ORGANISM's gurgling, hiss-soaked 'WEIMAR 22'. The theme that unifies all of the selections is an unshakable sense of exploration and joy from the artists. The era's optimism is palpable, and it's a rare pleasure to hear musicians driven so wholeheartedly by exploration, experimentation, innovative song forms and bold artistic strokes.
Diggers will clearly get a kick from these rarities, but Kitazawa and McNeill have done such a great job with the selection that it's far more than just a curiosity. "Somewhere Between" is an invigorating listen, like a particularly wild and wonderful mixtape handed over by a trusted friend. It's a musical time capsule to get lost in.
The fleet fingers of harpist Rhodri Davies pick out connections between Gaelic, West African and Far Eastern traditions - to our untrained ears at least - on the 3rd album via his Amgen label
Making up 1 part of 4 to his ‘Pedlar’ boxset, ‘An Air Swept Clean of All Distance’ was recorded in 2014 at Blank Studios, Newcastle, and exec produced by folk chief Richard Dawson, and adorned by a continuing series of artwork by Anna Peaker. It skips back along the timeline to what sounds like happy times, where Davies’ playing fizzes with typically inventive, optimistic, and timeless beauty, which, if you shut your eyes and try a little, could almost hail from any point in the past half millennia - although we do wonder if they really shredded like this back in thee day.
He’s really going for it on this one, so understandably the tracks are mostly succinct, as who the chuff could keep up this sort of energy for any longer?! They come on In flurried waves with ‘soaked ruins of a raft’ and culminate in him expending his energies on the longest, final piece with the hyper jabs of ‘on the outer reach of the unending’, with numbers such as ‘In Distortion-Free Mirrors’ attacking like Rian Treanor doing Korean classical music at hi-speed, and the breathless, mellifluous flex of ‘continues, placement’ recalling Kadodi styles we’ve heard on Nyege Nyege Tapes. But of course he makes room for slower, serene moments, diffracting the pace thru more spacious and lilting parts like ‘Each clear and sudden drop itself’ and the anticipatory pauses of ‘fingers pluck played on by’ that temper the album’s gushing sequence.
'Described by Richter as “a place to think”, VOICES was a response to our tempestuous political climate and the enduring need for compassion. VOICES 2 develops this principle, continuing and intensifying the “place to think” concept.
"While the first part of the project focuses on the text of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights and its uplifting vision – opening with the 1949 recording of Eleanor Roosevelt reading the Declaration, and including excerpts read by a global community of 70 voices – VOICES 2 opens up a meditative musical space to consider those ideas raised by the first record,"
Trust Montreal's anti-capitalist post-rawk heroes to rustle up the ideal soundtrack to global collapse. It's their most charged material in years: raw, deliriously cinematic and rich with serrated urgency.
New albums from Mogwai and Godspeed in a matter of weeks? Is it 1998 again? We're not complaining - this flickering, silvery opus from GY!BE is among their most satisfying sets to date. "G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!" finds the band in an awkward comfort zone, inspired by 2020's pandemic and subsequent global collapse to dust off their shortwave radio and compose a fuzzed-out response to the failure of the state system. It makes a lot of sense; since they debuted with "F♯ A♯ ∞" they've never been quiet about their anti-fascist, anti-corporate, anti-state views. With this in mind, "G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!" is almost a "told ya" moment, or a euphoric apology for decades of prophetic post-rock doom-saying.
Weaved together with crackly snippets of shortwave hum, the album almost begins like John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness" with spine-chillingly indistinct chatter that signals isolation, desperation and media distortion. From there, the band allow their glacial compositions to hiss and crack through each distinct movement. At this stage in their career they have nurtured a rapport that sings as loud as any instrument, and twinned with their timely creative surge this has led to tracks that feel like a distillation of GY!BE's best qualities. The thrumming crescendos, Kraut-fed percussion, thick walls of layered feedback, near-classical compositional care and an unashamedly widescreen grasp of narrative. Godspeed sound heavier, tighter and more vital here than they have in ages. Who else could craft such elegiac, melancholy doom for the end of the world?
More bizarre and brilliant outsider funk from fine artist and latter day renaissance man Lonnie Holley.
Modern Americana pioneer Matthew E. White teams up here with sculptor, educator and later-life musical hero Lonnie Holley to rock through a set of eccentric psych-funk-gunk that should appeal to anyone who has been fascinated by Holley's last few records. Holley's idiosyncratic lyricism is the draw here, as he deconstructs the issues du jour - selfies, reality, outer space, psychedelics - with wit and undeniable style. But White's musical contributions make this more than just an odd aside, if you've enjoyed Holley's recent run ("MITH", "National Freedom") then "Broken Mirror" shows that Holley has more mileage yet. Not bad for someone who released their debut album at the age of 62 eh? Southern funk at its weirdest and wildest.
Jangling, mostly instrumental bluegrass and country variations from Chicago-based acoustic guitar maestro Bill MacKay and Durham, North Carolina-based Appalachian folk player Nathan Bowles. Quite lovely!
'Keys' is MacKay and Bowles' debut, and is a plaintive horseback ride into American folk music. Both players have trad chops, and flesh out their playing with virtuoso flourishes giving their music a haze of Fahey-esque experimentation. But this is more melancholy and more immediate than anything Fahey ever meditated on - MacKay and Bowles aren't afraid of scratching the country itch and teasing out a tear or two.
Imagine Bonnie "Prince" Billy covering the "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou!" soundtrack and you'll have some idea of where this one's headed.
Finnish future jazz eccentric Jimi Tenor collects a bevy of unreleased tracks from his fertile Warp era on this fun, free and funky set.
Between 1993 and 2000, Jimi Tenor was composing and recording music at an alarming rate. His bundle of Warp albums was honored on last year's "NY, Hel, Barca" set, and "Deep Sound Learning" goes deeper, exploring the Finnish multi-instrumentalist's extensive vault of unfinished demos and unreleased material.
Anyone who hear Tenor's classic run with albums like "Organism" and "Out of Nowhere" should know what to expect. Brittle tropicalia, leftfield jazz, sweaty library music funque, eerie Italian giallo vibes and slippery acid house. Tenor inhabits his own universe completely, not lifting music styles but folding them into his peculiar, effervescent and unashamedly passionate celebration of sound.
'Synopsis Seriation,' Hecker's latest release with Editions Mego, draws upon current research in machine listening and music information retrieval, where the 'ghosts in the machine' are unsupervised, engineered operators designed to extract auditory features from a signal.
"The album advances a general research programme Hecker initiated through various projects. In 'A Script for Machine Synthesis' (EMEGO 226, 2017), the third chapter in the trilogy of text-sound pieces in collaboration with Reza Negarestani, both a resynthesized and a computer-generated voice modelled after the narrators voice, reflect on systems of language, automatons and chimerized synthesis. 'Articulação Sintetico' (EMEGO 180C, 2017) — a complete resynthesis of 'Articulação' (EMEGO 180, 2014) — features synthetic voice models of Joan La Barbara, Sugata Bose and Anna Kohler. Central to 'Inspection II' (EMEGO 268 / UF047, 2019) is a bespoke computer-generated voice, reciting Robin Mackay's libretto — by means of deep neural networks and machine listening computation, perpetually crossing formal anticipations of sound analysis to the unexpected artefacts of synthesis**.
'Synopsis Seriation' does away with such staging of computer-generated speech. It dramatises synthetic sound in all its unnameable intensities and detail by transforming four multichannel pieces Hecker produced since 2015. These have been analysed, dissected and reconstructed utilising information geometry, a subfield of mathematics at the interaction between statistics and differential geometry, designed by Vincent Lostanlen. Similarities and logical segmentation, partly accessible to the human listener, partially exclusive to virtual listening agents, open a dialogue with these spectral operators. Moving between analysis and synthesis, they render audible their intelligence signature, the signal trace of their nonhuman brain-ear, between discriminative and generative models. This newly seriated arrangement of 'Synopsis Seriation' further abstracts and detours the appearance of specific motifs, sequences and characters, into a hallucinatory gaze. Remembrance of what has just been heard, in which formulation and mode of synthesis continually navigate between sensible and highly formulated registers. Resembling George Seurat's perception of the Seine, 'Synopsis Seriation' is a streamlined, structured whole. Yet, by embracing time, succession, and sound as an immaterial, its multitude of auditory perspectives and encoded logic challenges a traditional synoptical overview of analytical architecture and resynthesized sensation."
Finally available once again, "Keyboard Fantasies" was originally self-released on tape in 1986 and contains some of Beverly Glenn-Copeland's most fascinating material. An FM-synthesized combo of new age private press eccentricity and accidentally prophetic Detroit techno futurism. So good!
'Keyboard Fantasies' was entirely recorded using a Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer and a Roland TR-707 drum machine, giving Glenn-Copeland's third album a glassy, robust character that sets it apart from many of its contemporaries. Tangentially, he was working in the new age sphere, but his eerie homespun compositions pointed at far more more mind-expanding, idiosyncratic places.
While opener 'Ever New' (a highlight of last year's fantastic Glenn-Copeland primer "Transmissions") is charmingly light-hearted, with Glenn-Copeland's vocals layered over chiming BBC Radiophonic Workshop synths, 'Slow Dance' sounds more like slow techno, operating in the same realm as Yellow Magic Orchestra with synth bells and voices spun around a grinding 707 beat. Elsewhere, the jazzy 'Old Melody' sounds like a discarded cue from Angelo Badalamenti's "Twin Peaks" soundtrack, or an interlude from Air's "Moon Safari". Lovely.
Southern gothic shoegaze soul from Sharp Veins, debuting on Andrew Lyster’s YOUTH with a sorely affected album distilling aspects of A.R. Kane, B.o.C, and SALEM with fugged-up bedroom atmospheres in a brittle but tender style.
Finding his place on the Manchester label between Sockethead’s cranky blatz and the smoked-out downstroke of Dijit, ‘Lips The Same Colour’ reveals Sharp Veins’ burned-out soul at its most vulnerable and absorbing. It’s a lushly depressive come-down from the giddy rush of his self-released album ‘Armor Your Actions Up In Quest’ in 2020, and previous excursions on Different Circles and NYC’s UNO, betraying a syrupy emotive core dematerialised in clouds of reverb and harmonised pads, anchored in some of his most disciplined nods to rugged US hip hop drums and emo rap tropes.
In slowing down and opening up his sound to downbeat, pop-wise levels, Sharp Veins comes into his own amid a new wave of artists expressing the melancholy of modern life, with a personalised sound design that says as much as his bleak lyrics and ohrwurming melodies. Everything feels eviscerated and held in suspended animation, attempting to expunge ubiquitous emotions.
Between the numbed doomy tension of ‘Unless’, with its plagent vocal lament, to the gutted cry of “what the f*ck am I doing here?” in ‘Bastard Swarm’, Sharp Veins strikes a nerve on the tinny shimmer of ‘Glue Forest’ and continues under the skin with the B.o.C.-like wooze of album centrepieces ‘Paste 1’ and the Paddy McAloon-on-blues screw of ‘Paste 2’, with a deeply disarming moment to be discovered in ‘A Promise’ and unmistakeable echoes of A.R. Kane on the radiant elegy ‘For Gigi.’
A bearhug of chill-out room gouching gear from MFM spanning the golden era of ‘90s ambient dance music with gems from David Moufang, LFO, Global Communication, Kirsty Hawkshaw, Sun Electric and many more notables of that era.
Since the world turned into a big chill out room in early 2020, albeit with a heavy sense of anxiety, this set could hardly be better placed for downtime in the comfort of your own home, rolling out mystic highlights such as LFO’s MDMA-tingle arps and pads in ‘Helen’ and the sublime suspension systems of Global Communication’s remix of ‘Arcadian’, along with Move D’s early nugget ‘Sergio Leone’s Wet Dream’, and the lush pads of his close spar Jonah Sharp’s Spacetime Continuum, plus a strip of killer slow acid in Sideral’s ‘Mare Nostrum’, and the blissed romance of ‘Love 2 Love’ by Sun Electric.
One for the lovers and the ravers.
NWW’s 2009 recording resurfaces, backed with Colin Potter’s exclusive new iteration distilled from multiple versions by the band’s visionary synthesist.
‘Cabbalism III’ was the result of NWW meeting Blind Cave Salamander in Venice, where the latter were playing support for them at Teatro Fondamente Nuove.’ NWW thought that Blind Cave Salamander’s set sounded a bit like their classic ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ and suggested recording together. Two years later the final piece was conceived in Turin and the limited edition release quickly turned into a collector’s item. Due to demand the piece is now available again, backed with an extra track made by Colin Potter using sources from all three previous ‘Cabbalism’ recordings, completed at IC Studio, London 2020.
It’s not hard at all to hear how the original ‘Cabbalism III’ resonates with the legendarily spooky presence of ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ - arguably thee blueprint of dark ambient music - and it’s easy to understand how it became a fan favourite. It’s equally apparent that Colin Poter’s new megamix, of sorts, will deeply satisfy those fans’ cravings, too. For 45 minutes the master synth alchemist generates a gloaming cloud system of layered drones and trembling strings tones recalling the heights of Deathprod circa ‘Morals And Dogma’, with imperceptible transitions between unfathomably wide, steep and keening masses of synthesised electronics.
Rod Modell's Deepchord follows on the 'Hash Bar Loops' session with a more detached serving of 20 washed-out and introspective 'Electroacoustic Soundfields'.
These tracks epitomise Modell at his most intimate and fascinating, using granular synthesis and generative software to unfold his analogue hardware source material and field recordings into ghostly clouds of hiss and morphing bass geometries perfect for late night immersion. Those looking for his signature dub house anchors may be disappointed, but if you've always wanted to hear Rod float off like some metaphysical spirit over nocturnal inner-city nightscapes like something out of Gaspar Noé's 'Enter The Void', this one's for you...
Drummers Lee Buford of The Body and Zac Jones from Braveyoung conjure dubbed out illbient spells from spacy, overdriven breaks on their debut full-length. Proper grotty goodness like We TM, DJ Spooky or I-Sound.
Buford and Jones have been collaborating for years, but "World Vision Perfect Harmony" is their debut as a duo, assembled as a way for the two drummers to explore a shared interest in creative percussion techniques. Illbient is almost the perfect mode, and the two create a deliciously eerie atmosphere, combing their drumming with electronics and blurring the line between live performance and sampling.
Abstracting rhythms that have sat at the root of jungle, no-wave, dub and hip-hop, Manslaughter 777 make a compelling noise that feels surprisingly contemporary. With the resurgence of interest in trip-hop, surely illbient is due a revival some time soon? In the meantime, this is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Hallowed experimental pop-soul sermons that build on 2018's gorgeous, vocal-rich "Soil".
Serpentwithfeet applied a fresh coat of hi-gloss with last album "Soil", enlisting the help of producers like Clams Casino and Tri-Angle labelmate Katie Gately - "Deacon" finds the producer diving into even more personal realms, touching on spiky club forms simultaneously. These songs are soulful musings on serpentwithfeet's emotional world, dedicated to friends and lovers and struck through with feelings that emerge too rarely from contemporary pop. The production is often skeletal - 'Same Size Shoe', for example, is barely more than a kick and snare combo - allowing the complex vocal arrangements to yet again take the spotlight, building in blissful harmonic layers one by one. And by combining a love of gospel music with an implicit understanding of R&B radio pop formula and deep knowledge of experimental ambient music, serpentwithfeet has a winning, idiosyncratic formula. He's basically managed to achieve whatever it is people think James Blake is doing and does so without grandstanding.
'Amir' sounds like an alternate universe 'No Scrubs', all tearful and dense with chopped acoustic guitar and neck snapping '90s R&B production tics. While NAO collaboration 'Heart Storm' finds serpentwithfeet at his most euphoric, fusing choral music with waves of analog synth ambience. Closer 'Fellowship' is the pick of the bunch: a bonafide tearjerker, effortlessly inverting brittle Afrobeats-esque percussion for one of the sweetest musings on friendship we've heard in ages. If "Deacon" doesn't move you at all, you've got a heart of stone honestly. Church music for lovelorn heretics.
Apparently it's been over a decade since avant jazz deity Pharoah Sanders recorded any new music, it took Sam Shephard aka Floating Points to coax the 80 year old out of near-retirement.
Anyone familiar with Sanders' work will know how life-affirming his music can be, from his early work with John Coltrane, through 1967's mind-altering "Tauhid" to his spiritual pairing with Alice Coltrane on "Journey in Satchidananda". Here, he takes a more restrained role, offering bursts of tenor to compliment Shephard's pretty snippets of piano and synth. As "Promises" builds, the London Symphony Orchestra's presence becomes more stark, evolving the slow-moving work into cinematic levels of grandeur.
It's pretty senseless comparing "Promises" to Sanders' early catalogue as he's most definitely in a completely different place mentally. But his cloud-reaching brilliance is still a joy to behold; when his familiar overblown phrases appear from Shephard's gossamer synth clouds, it's hard not to smile. We can't help but wonder how different it might have been if Sanders had been paired with Dean Blunt, mind you. Just saying.
Jimmy Tamborello returns with the first of two albums this year, a dusty suite of sketches inspired by library music, early electronics and discarded acid folk.
Shaping electronic music for two decades, Tamborello has exerted an outsized influence on both pop and the landscape beyond. "The Seas Tree Sees" follows his recent run of more experimental excursions on Leaving Records, whispering from the shadows instead of shouting from the rafters. A humble, pleasingly low-key set of productions, it's intended to sit in contrast to Tamborello's more pop-poised work (like The Postal Service's 2003 smash "Give Up"), phasing through foggy moods and atmospheres rather than bright, bubbly riffs and hooks.
It almost reminds us of early To Rococo Rot, assembled from gently-coaxed samples of Rhodes piano, xylophone, vocoder and synth, and spiced with subtle field recordings and sympathetic static. Tamborello notes that he wanted the album to sound like something you'd find in a thrift store, so when a vocoder-heavy cover version of Kate Wolf's '70s folk song 'The Lilac and the Apple' appears, everything falls into place. A musical comfort blanket.
Reissue of a cult LP by master Japanese drummer George Otsuka and his quintet, recorded live on 19th July 1975 at the Nemu Jazz Inn.
"A unique time capsule, the album finds the quintet on fire and “Loving You George” is a vivid testimony that Otsuka and his musicians were at the top of their game and one of the best groups in Japan, playing a mix of modal and groovy tunes full of exciting and inspired solos. The album “Loving You George” is comprised of four superb performances fuelled by Otsuka powerful drumming and Fumio Karashima’s fender Rhodes. It also includes a wonderfully funky take on Minnie Riperton’s ‘Loving You’. It comes with original artwork featuring OBI strip and audio remastered from the master tapes by King Records in Japan."
Arch explorer of EVP and paranormal recordings, CMvH is joined by John Duncan, Joachim Nordwall and other members of the Swedish avant fraternity at the opening of his 2018 solo exhibition in Gothenburg
‘INSNITT’ captures 30 minutes of roiling subharmonic frequencies and anxious scrabble made at 3:e Våningen, Gothenburg on September 14th 2018. It arrives over 40 years since his first recordings to witness the Swedish polymath flanked by a coterie of longtime collaborators including Leif Elggren, Jean Louis-Huhta, and Henrik Rylander, plus the aforementioned, charging the air with stressed electronics that resemble the sounds of shearing metal and hi-pitched, whirring mechanicals.
Their massed effect is saturated with sense of hyperrealist psychedelia, appearing to physically keen and lurch in 3D in a way that ultimately makes us feel seasick and rinsed out by the end. Perhaps it’s best recommend to those listeners with strong sea legs and a tolerance for this kind of northerly climate sounds.
And lo, it was reissued - Coil’s pivotal dose of post-industrial/acid bath-house psychedelia reappears, remastered and expanded with a bonus disc of mostly unheard alternate versions, marking 30 years of soundtracking dreams and party afterlives.
Borne from intensive studio sessions circa 1988-1990 and served hot and slippery in 1991, ‘LSD’ is widely recognised as a key entry point to Coil’s illustrious, but sometimes hard to grasp, catalogue. Their 3rd long player features Jhonn and Sleazy working with Danny Hyde (who was then fresh from remixing Seal’s ‘Killer’) to realise a richly layered and hallucinogenic masterpiece that would influence the visions of everyone from Æ to NIИ, irrevocably infecting electronic music’s water table for a whole generation and beyond.
Their significant studio successor to ‘Scatology’ (1984) and ‘Horse Rotorvator’ (1986) simply sounded like nowt else at the time, aligning their esoteric interests and pursuits in 13 kaleidoscopic forms on the original album, and now supplemented by 10 bonus tracks on the new 2nd disc. The body-gurning cut-up of ‘Disco Hospital’ is now held up for contrast with its loping ‘Unedited’ version, and the crepuscular groove of ‘The Snow’ is featured in multiple Apollonian mixes for the darkroom dwellers, and all time classics like ‘Dark River’ and ‘Chaostrophy’ appear shivering and naked in their alternate, stripped down mixes, giving vital glimpses into their cabalistic studio process.
Alongside untouchable classics such as ‘Things Happen’ starring Annie Anxiety and Charles Hayward, and the This Heat drummer’s sizzling percussion on the title tune, the effect of LSD endures with wide eyed, future-proofed effect that’s bound to infect listeners for another 30 years, at least.
Rebellious, charged spiritual jazz that holds a mirror up to Berlin, reflecting the city's unreasonable treatment of Black people. Cathartic, uplifting and simmering with rage.
In November 2019, Angel Bat Dawid and her band Tha Brothahood traveled from Chicago to Berlin for JazzFest. Tragically, vocalist and instrumentalist Viktor Le Givens had passed out on the street and been robbed, ending up in hospital. When Angel reached Berlin with the rest of the band, she was passed the message that unless they could find a replacement, their fee would be reduced. This set the tone for the rest of the trip, where the group of Black musicians were greeted with constant stares, repeated microaggressions and suspicion from the German city's majority white inhabitants.
But they persevered, and the band's performance was considered by Angel to be among their best ever, charged with attitude and struck through with rage-in-process. This recording documents the entire thing, opening with a racist incident at Berlin's Duke Ellington Hotel (seriously) before tracking through a lifted selection of spiritual jazz experimentation from a troupe of Chicago's finest players. Human and electric, the set reflects the power of Angel's composition and conducting and stands as a crucial document of a historic moment for the band.
Leading Australian contemporary music composer A. Pateras yields a stunning, phantasmic spectralist work for tape and live players, recorded in 2019 at the 17th Sacrum Profanum Festival in Krakow, Poland
‘Pseudacusis’ is the follow-up to Pateras’ work on Sunn 0)))’s ‘Life Metal’ and Judith Hamann’s ‘Music For Cello and Humming’, and features the latter artist among his Tape Septet recordings, which provide the bed for its live performance iteration, here recorded in Krakow’s impressive new arts space, Małopolska Garden of Arts for the festival closely associated with estimable Polish label, Bocian Records.
Reliably helmed by Pateras at his trusted piano, the live septet (Lucio Capece: bass clarinet / soprano saxophone; Krzysztof Guńka: saxophones; Riccardo La Foresta: percussion; Mike Majkowski: double bass; Anthony Pateras: piano; Deborah Walker: cello; Lizzy Welsh: violin) render his strikingly dynamic composition with vigour and precision, found here edited into seven movements.
The results are surreal, febrile, and compelling, sweeping over it’s 50 minute course from frightful string tintinnabulation down concrète wormholes to tracts of glacial stasis and belly-churning dread, with outstanding parts of technically challenging, sustained dissonance and massed, keening orchestration that introduces fractious percussive themes and outlandish electronics. We’ve no doubt it will light up the harder to reach pleasure centres of fans of everyone from Iancu Dumitrescu to Xenakis.
Whew! Radical Welsh harpist runs rings around tradition on a thrilling set of nerve-riding, biting-point performances with processed lap harp for his Amgen label
Another piece of the puzzle to his 4-part ‘Pedlar’ boxset, this one was thrown down in 2011 at Newcastle’s legendary Morden Tower, a C.13th, grade-listed turret on the West Walls of the city’s ancient defences against curious Mackems and Durham scunners, that was also previously and notably site of seminal recordings by The New Blockaders, a.o. In that vein, Davies gets raw to the bone in ‘Wound Response’, using Lap harp fed thru transducer, read by contact microphone, and pushed to seething limits with volume pedal and two amps to make everything bleed in the red with fierce effect.
Accompanied by the quotation - ““And may the freed bear bathe his body amid the flows of the frozen north and not languish in the aquarium of distilled water in the academic garden.” Kazimir Malevich, Suprematist Manifesto (1916) - the album dances on the line between atonal freeness and melody with a wickedly demented alacrity and damaged/destructive results, running ruffshod and wild haired from the excoriating discord of ‘everything at each moment’ thru electrifying high line antics on ‘questions_____of middle distance’ to the caustic shredding of ‘a parallel or mirroring space’ and ‘here the sun does not enter’, with a janky bluesy brilliance in ‘only compromises were arrived at in the end’, spurting tongues of fire on the album’s longest burnout ‘the convergence of how we got here.’
Avant garde sound poet AGF works with eleven Greek residents to investigate “women’s struggle for language” in the context of Greek myth and “patriarchal social relations” with remarkably complex and thought provoking results - we're still gettin our heads round it.
“In her famous quote from Three Guineas (1938), ‘As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world’, Virginia Woolf captured the spirit of alienation that women have felt, or indeed should feel, vis-à-vis the request of belonging. Such alienation could morph into refusal, but this, as feminist historians of culture know, has happened in very few cases. For the most part, women have buried their alienation, forced by multiple mechanisms of persuasion and induced consent, to succumb to belonging. But is this the whole story? Or has the territory of language been a central battleground for women? And how is a contemporary female musician and sound artist invested in feminist politics to approach this unstable condition of the gendered experience of language? This is the case of AGF, or Antye Greie, whose creative endeavour is overall an audacious synthesis of electronic compositions, voice, field recordings, as well as of political explorations and re-enunciations of women-centred aurality.
In this new work, Arachnesound, AGF, together with her collaborators (composers, singers, poets), sought to work with an enduring language, Greek, and treat it as a tentative record of women’s speech but also silence. Effectively, AGF relied on the ambiguity of non-belonging to stitch together a counter-archive of words written, spoken, or - when she herself makes them up - associated with women’s struggle for language. Greek has been a language steeped in patriarchal social relations, nation-building, and wildly generalised, civilisational ‘origins’. The task that AGF set for herself was to compose a music narrative that takes women’s efforts to speak beyond the canonical myths surrounding Greek language as a record. It was a difficult task, requiring much research, much listening, much translation, much acoustic imagining. The outcome, however, is movingly rewarding - and it is so as an encounter of myth and history with the contemporary feminist avant-garde in electronic-music experimentation.”
New Age Steppers were a loose studio collective centred around the musical partnership of Adrian Sherwood and Ari Up from The Slits, operating on and off from 1980 to 2012. This is a 5CD + 32 page book boxset anthology of all their work for the On-U Sound label, compiled for the first time.
"Notable for bringing together musicians from the post-punk and reggae scenes together, their records feature contributions from members of The Pop Group, The Raincoats, Flying Lizards, Roots Radics, Aswad and Creation Rebel.
The set also includes a new LP of outtakes and rarities, Avant Gardening (in the On-U tradition of albums such as Return Of The Crocodile, Displaced Masters and Churchical Chant Of The Iyabinghi).
New Age Steppers launched the On-U label as the first artist to release both a single and album on the label, and it's fitting to have these brilliant records back out in the world as the label celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2021."
Relaxation aids from Picnic, the duo of Ju Ca and mdo, trailing the glistening wake of a lovely 2020 debut on Kansas City’s c- with a milky ambient bath featuring added suds by Huerco S, The Humble Bee, DJ Paradise (uon), and Dntel
On their eponymous sophomore outing picnic reveal a fuller picture of their sound. The eight original pieces are given to sensitively mulched textures and softly glowing pads mottled with new age spirited strings and wafting voices. It’s nothing particularly new or inventive but arguably works it’s way under the skin with pharmaceutic efficacy, at its lushest in the descriptive title and feel of ‘drops in the water (with tics)’, and the gently keening, hypnagogic appeal of ‘basket.’
The remixers however capture a sense of subtlety that draws us in closer, from Craig Tattersall’s typically hushed, drowsily suspenseful take on ‘folds and rips’, which contrasts with the air-stepping, weightless version by Huerco S., to the dusky tone of uon’s DJ Paradise remix of ‘drops in the water’, and the veteran Dntel’s aqueous smudge of ‘dewey.’
Norwegian ambient maestro Geir Jenssen blurs Beethoven into a spectral haze on this disarming suite of eerie vignettes. Fans of Akira Rabelais' unmatched "Eisoptrophobia" need this one.
On Gier Jenssen's 2016 album "Departed Glories", the Norwegian veteran used barely-audible samples of Eatern European and Russian folk music to illustrate a narrative that explored the Medieval history of Poland. These ghostly audio snippets were processed through Akira Rabelais' surrealist DSP software Argeïphontes Lyre and then smudged into echoes of a distant world. On "Angel's Flight", Jenssen takes a similar stylistic route, but uses Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 as the source material, allowing familiar traces of the German composer's favorite late work to peek through frozen drones and haunted pads.
This music, whether you realize it or not, has been repeated thru our collective consciousness again and again since its completion in 1826, so hearing it stretched, filtered and crushed by Jenssen is a fitting way to reabsorb it. "Angel's Flight" sounds like time itself wrestling with musical hierarchies, as themes and tropes dance and heave through aural molasses, inspiring the memory to land on images of movies, ballrooms, music lessons or adverts. It's also strikingly sad and beautiful, and while it relies on elements we've been assured are sad - minor keys, spooky drones, distant strings - Jenssen handles the elements with a restraint that's way too rare.
Somehow, "Angel's Flight" never descends into the realm of forced melancholy - rather it seeps into your pores slowly and affects you gradually, urging you to play it once more. Sadbient? Maybe, but this sounds strangely timeless.
Though it's hard to pick a winner among the estimable Black Jazz catalog, this 1972 release from bassist Henry "The Skipper" Franklin would have to be near the top of the list.
"Franklin got his start woodshedding with Latin maverick Willie Bobo in the mid-'60s and went on to play with The Three Sounds, but probably his most notable gig prior to this debut album was his stint in Hugh Masekela's band (that's Franklin playing bass with Masekela at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival). For The Skipper, Franklin assembled a crack outfit that included a horn section of trumpeter/flugelhornist Oscar Brashear (Bobby Hutcherson, Ry Cooder, Donny Hathaway) and tenor & soprano sax man Charles Owens (Buddy Rich, Horace Tapscott, John Mayall) along with a Masekela bandmate in electric pianist Bill Henderson and ace drummer Michael Carvin (Pharoah Sanders, Lonnie Liston Smith, Freddie Hubbard).
This is such a unique, organic recording that it's hard to make comparisons; definitely a little fusion, a little '60s Blue Note feel, and the usual Black Jazz journey to the more lyrical, pop-inspired ("Little Miss Laurie") and funk-infused ("Plastic Creek Stomp") sides of jazz, but perhaps the best comparison is late-'60s Miles before he went electric. In any case, The Skipper is just a joy to listen to from start to finish, beautifully recorded by Black Jazz producer Gene Russell and blessed with some really fine writing, most of it by Franklin himself. First-time LP reissue and a must-have!"
Outstanding introduction to Amapiano, the hypnotic house sound of Guateng, SA with feet in Kwaito and deep house styles. Proper dancers’ gear, dead compatible the deeper ends of Gqom, and new London sounds on Housupa. Tipped by Tom Booigzm, Black Mecha, and us, at the least.
“The past five years have seen amapiano, South Africa’s electronic music movement born in the townships of the country’s Gauteng province, evolve from an underground sound to a nationwide mainstream staple. Even with its commercial success though, amapiano’s DIY ethos has continued to disrupt music creation and distribution in the country. Most amapiano commercial successes today began their careers on cracked versions of production software like FL Studio, distributed their work through file sharing platforms like datafilehost and marketed it using social media pages they controlled and influenced.
Amapiano is partly a tasting menu of South Africa’s musical history, a lineage that has been as much a backdrop to the times as it has been a catalyst for change in the country. South African jazz has thrived pre and post-democracy, contributing international stalwarts of the genre, notably Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela. Kwaito music—which itself borrowed from other genres like marabi, kwela, mbaqanga, maskandi, bubblegum and others—was created and proliferated in the 90s partly because of the newly accessible House music imported into the country. In the early 2000s, Deep and Afro House dominated, to be followed by the rise of diBacardi, a percussion—heavy electronic music genre most popular in the city of Pretoria and its surrounding townships.
Amapiano Selections, the debut album by DJ and producer Teno Afrika, gives listeners outside the movement’s online release economy an insight into the high-burn nature of amapiano that has spawned a distinct typology under its larger umbrella. Nineteen-year-old Lutendo Raduvha has spent the bulk of his life moving between different townships on the outskirts of Johannesburg and Pretoria in the Gauteng province. The palette of amapiano styles on the album reflect these influences.
But at first, South Africa’s youngest electronic music movement lived underground with a small, loyal following. “Amapiano is a genre that I chose because I have a passion for it,” says Teno “I started following amapiano in 2016 because I wanted to explore how it’s produced. It was not taken seriously in our country. By: Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi”
Virtuoso, smoky jazz from young Norwegian firebrand Kjetil Mulelid. We know you're probably bored with solo piano albums at this point, but this is a cut above: more Keith Jarrett than you know who.
Rune Grammofon has been begging Mulelid to record a solo piano album for years now. He was hesitant at first, not just because there's a glut of mediocre to terrible piano records clogging digital dustbins everywhere, but because in jazz, the solo piano record has a lot of competition. It's notoriously challenging, but last year in lockdown, Mulelid found himself with time on his hands and isolation to maintain. In many ways, masterminding a truly next-level solo piano record is the perfect COVID pastime.
'Piano' is deceptively simple in its presentation, but even a cursory listen will reveal a startling talent. Mulelid performed the album at Athletic Sound studio on their unique 1919 Bösendorfer grand, and this lends the album a haunting texture. In Mulelid's hands, it sings with sadness, joy and cultural resonance, not speaking directly to our period of isolation and collapse, but speaking around it. Fans of Gonzalez's enduring classic "Solo Piano" will no doubt get a kick out of these sultry, swinging selections.
Yes, Sports fans; YOUTH rally the troops for a sprawling 2nd compilation of roving downbeat styles, featuring Peder Mannerfelt, Iueke, and RVDS, alongside label fam like FUMU, Herron and Sockethead, plus enigmatic new names inc. Warlock, Jessicunt, Joe Cotch and many more.
In the three years since the first Youth compilation, Andrew Lyster’s label has grown in stature and scale to encompass myriad integers between the club, the bedroom, and headphones. Their releases from Sockethead, Dijit, Seltene Erden, Blazer Soundsystem, and the mysterious Remer Cier, among others - many of whom appear here - have set the label’s coordinates in bold, new terrain which they explore further with this sterling sophomore suite illuminating shared, rhizomic links that span continents, styles, and intentions.
The vibe is modulated between the artists’ respective flavours, and with 20 tracks the label’s curatorial skills come into play, ably demonstrating a discerning flow between their poles and shadows that surpass the sum of the compilation's parts. Between the threshold of Lluke's hyperprism and the noise slurry of 1012’s closer, ‘Reprise’ the artists practically terraform a mutant microcosm unto itself, offering enchanted and murky slants on dembow modernism, ambient zeitgeists, and bedroom-bound songwriting in the age of Covid.
FUMU provides highlights thru heady location recordings on ‘Aphex Hall’ and what sounds like mechanically performed water drumming in ‘Loco Motive’, while his Return To Zero crewmate Sockethead serves likeminded ambient blatz and the crooked soul of ‘I’m Here’, with Herron teasing out the music box malady of ‘Pearl’, and RVDS duets with David Attenborough and a Lyre bird. However, for new kicks, check for Joe Cotch’s killer dembow cyberpunk mission, and a murky proto-grime ace by Warlock (not that one!), the paranoid thoughts of Jessicunt, and a class cut of Farsi drill by Leo & Tardast.
Field recordings, delicate drones, noise and sublime ambience for fans of vintage Brian Eno, K. Leimer or Loscil.
Interest in US ambient pioneer Marc Barreca's productions spiked again a few years ago when the Freedom To Spend imprint reissued his loopy and playful 1983 epic "Music Works For Industry". But Barreca isn't just an ambient fetishists dream, he's still releasing new music and "The Empty Bridge" proves he's still exploring haunted, atmospheric soundscapes with just as much vigor as he ever was.
Assembled during lockdown in a remote mountain cottage, the album vaporizes subtle field recordings into languid pools of synth, spine-chilling drones and sampled instrumentation. Sometimes it sounds almost orchestral, reminiscent of Steve Reich or Terry Riley, and sometimes is more in line with the subterranean gems that pock Erik Skodvin's Miasmah label or Manchester's sferic imprint. These ambient-industrial landscapes are a fine reflection of a new isolated reality, and act as a tight commentary on ambient music's four decades of evolution.
"From A Love Supreme to The Sex Machine!" The personal musical mantra of the late Philadelphia reedman Byard Lancaster informed an open-minded and varied lifetime in jazz.
"Strut issue one of Lancaster’s lesser known classics, ‘My Pure Joy’, recorded in 1992 for Black Fire. Lancaster had initially cut his musical teeth with the avant-garde on New York’s Lower East Side in the 1960s (famously on sessions with pianist Dave Burrell and drummer Sunny Murray) and in Paris during the ‘70s after an appearance at the Actuel festival but, throughout his career, his path was built around community engagement, positivity and “the Philly jazz sound, Germantown style.” He became an ambassador for the music of the City Of Brotherly Love, starting his own Dogtown label, helping launch the Philly Jazz imprint and campaigning tirelessly to improve the circumstances of the city’s street musicians.
Lancaster’s sessions for Black Fire were planned following a gig at Caverns Jazz Club in Washington DC. “Jimmy Gray of Black Fire and I originally met during the ‘riotous blisters’ of the late Sixties there,” explained Lancaster. “We became the best of friends.” Backed by a band of Philly musicians including percussionist Keno Speller and Baba Robert Crowder (drummer for Olatunji and Art Blakey), the album also featured the Drummers From Ibadan led by Tunde Kuboye, another influential figure dedicated to community jazz with whom Lancaster had bonded while teaching in Lagos. The result was a free-flowing set of spirituality and positivity, built around full band groove workouts, solo pieces and heavy African roots. “We had big fun documenting this music,” remembered Lancaster. The message of the album remains as relevant today as ever, “I dedicate this album to all African Americans in the USA. To the youth, I ask ‘What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?’” Originally delayed by three years because of cashflow issues within Black Fire, ‘My Pure Joy’ eventually surfaced as one of the label’s final CD releases in 1995."
Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) gets the best out of his longtime pal, Madlib in an ideal showcase of the master beat breaker’s untouchable, sampledelic style
Tailored for proper end-to-end immersion by Hebden, who’s responsible for the edits, arrangement, and mastering, ‘Sound Ancestors’ weighs in as one of ‘lib’s most distinctive albums, proper, flexing his inimitable style with extra focussed production that really brings his instrumentals to life in an LP context. That’s not to say his previous albums aren’t eminently listenable, but avowed Madlib stan Hebden has really done the hip hop icon proud, drawing from 100s of cuts sent him over the past few years, to render a lushly soulful collection contoured between bumping downstrokes and killlller cuts of syncopated, Afro-Latin suss.
Shy of any voices beyond the samples, the 16 tracks adds up to one of Madlib’s best sets since ‘The Beat Konducta’ series ended a decade ago, reprising that series’ colourful sampledelic tekkers at its best, while flowing with a livewire, jazz-wise quality that’s hard not to get snagged in. Fair to say Hebden’s touch can be felt in the swirling sound design of the album opener, but its a subtler presence as the album unfolds with Madlib’s patented swagger between instant anthem ‘The Call’, and a haul of crooked, club-ready gear such as the almost West London broken beat styles in ‘Loose Goose’, the flighty Afro-fusion of tht title tune and the rare groove move ‘One For Quartabê / Right Now’.
Okay! Grotty sleaze-dub, cavernous post punk, wyrdo industrial ambient and anxious keta-tekno on this gem of a soundtrack from 2001's underground porn classic "Bonking Berlin Bastards".
This is an absolute find, a scruffy collection of DIY electronix that soundtracked Ebo Hill's "Bonking Berlin Bastards", the hypersexual Berlin porn classic that captured the city's hedonistic, queer turn of the Millennium atmosphere. The music comes from improv techno three-piece AeoX and noise/industrial producer Rouage, who also shows up as CNM, and skates through the back rooms, free parties and squats of Berlin with a vivid cut-n-paste post punk aesthetic.
It's fantastically innovative music that captures the sound of Berghain's forerunner OstGut, that was apparently a primary meeting point for the movie's crew, so it makes perfect sense that Ostgut Ton is the label handling the release. It's hard to accurately describe the music except to say that it's somewhere between Vinyl On Demand's collections of scruffy proto-techno and industrial experimentation and the tape-scuffed noizz of Hospital Productions or Wolf Eyes' American Tapes imprint.
There's a raw, queer sexuality here that's missing from so much angry noise music; it's less angry boys than horny, disaffected ones. It feels celebratory somehow, with each squeal, thumping kick or harsh sheet of fuzz expressing the joy of public sex and messy chemical nights long before the tech companies and Australian coffee shops had moved into Kreuzberg. "Bonking Berlin Bastards" is a historical document of an influential era that's unlikely to be repeated, but stands as the backbone of contemporary Berlin's most endearing facets.
Mesmerising solo debut of works for mallet percussion from Brooklyn’s Patricia Brennan, crossing our paths for first time and recalling very classy works from CC Hennix to Miles Davis, Terry Plumeri and Michael Ranta
You can colour us enchanted with ‘Maquishti’, which introduces the Mexican born, NYC-based vibraphonist, marimbist, improvisor and composer Brennan with a deliciously low-key, furtive hush that’s totally snagged our attentions. Stepping forth from her previous experience, performing with everyone from Meredith Monk to Mary Halvorsen and Marcus Gilmore, here she employs a fine range of melodious thunks in lissom, playfully inquisitive style that’s both trance-inducing and edged with a fluidly sublime, but unresolved tension in her unfurling lines of extended melodic thought.
Brennan is patently adept at articulating her own sonic language, which makes it kinda surprising that this is only her first solo record, but we can only hope it’s the first of many, as she appears keen to experiment with the limits of her technique with a golden sense of patience and discipline that really shows on ‘Maquishti’, from her extra subtle use of pitch-bending and bowing, to her ability to lure us into the most curious harmonic spaces, without ever feeling hurried or demanding.
A real pleasure, this.
This is a gift: over four hours of revolutionary solo recordings from one of the US industrial/noise scene's earliest and most under-sung underground operators. Essential, completely proto shit, ranging from glacial, thrumming cosmic ambience thru fuzzy kraut-esque meditation and grungy tape noise to dusty rhythm-fuck'd experimentz and ghostly electro-punk, to harry partch/moondog-esque clattering percussion to tape worn solo piano drift oddities and smudged dub-pop vignettes. The square root of so much foundational DIY music, right here.
Don't worry if you haven't come across Robert Turman's music before, this epic set, originally released as an eight-cassette box in 1988 and now re-packaged on CD by Aaron DIlloway’s Hanson Records, gives you all the introduction to the US noise innovator you need. Turman was initially spotted as one half of legendary noise act NON alongside Boyd Rice, but quickly redirected his efforts into more personal, singular solo werk. "Chapter Eleven" rakes together some of the Ohio-based artist's earliest material, compiling 45 tracks made between 1976 and 1987. And jeez it's a revelation: out-zone sounds that are truly jawdropping not just for their stylistic scope, but for their originality. Really, who else was doing tape-degraded xylophone and kalimba loops AND crumbling rhythmic tape noise while Jimmy Carter was in the Whitehouse?
Listening to the album from beginning to end gives you a real sense of Turman's musical curiosity and dedication to his craft. It's the gnostic missing page that contextualizes the US noise/experimental scene's flirtation with industrial grot, dreamy guitar jams, futzed psychedelia, extreme noise, deep listening and hypnogogic tape loops. Turman has it all, and "Chapter Eleven" is an ideal primer to his sound, working like a diary or self portrait, revealing a personal journey marinated in emotion, texture and wonder, sitting a few paces outside the musical establishment's buttoned-up critical perception.
Dilloway has done the world a solid here, teaming with Helicopter Records to offer up a remastered edition of the entire long out-of-print set. And while Turman's music has experienced a resurgence of interest in the last few years following reissues on Spectrum Spools and Dais and collaborations with Dilloway, "Chapter Eleven" is the real key to understanding his role in the US experimental music landscape. Highest possible recommendation.
'Operation: Doomsday' has floated in and out of print since its original 1999 pressing on famed New York label Fondle 'Em, attaining mythical status amongst underground fans as one of the landmark releases of the decade, showcasing MF Doom's abstract wordplay, pointed wit, subtly subversive lyrics and alcohol drenched stream-of-consciousness flows over adventurous sample-based production.
The album's impact steadily grew to alter the landscape of hip hop as it was then known, and its periodic cycles of unavailabilty seem only to have enhanced its mythical status. This Deluxe Edition version is the same remastered and expanded double-disc set that was in the limited edition tin box reissue, but in a superior quality digipack sleeve with brand new cover art.
The audio content is identical; the same 42 tracks including 23 alternate versions, b-sides, instrumentals and acapellas. Still as bold, creative and villainous as it was 15 years ago, only now it's louder and longer.
Minimal, throbbing Kraut-inspired dubscapes from To Rococo Rot's Stefan Schneider and his long MIA Mapstation project.
Stefan Schneider is nothing if not reliable. His latest Mapstation full-length finds him ditching the studio drip in favor of a stripped-down setup: a TR-808 drum machine, Novation Peak synth, a guitar and a tape loop device. The result is his most immediate collection of tracks for years, a set that gets to the bare bones of his sound with uncomplicated ease. "My Frequencies, Where We" is hinged on a Cluster-influenced sense of rhythm, but one that's obscured by glitches, crackle and alien synthetic atmospheres. At this stage in his career, Schneider's primary point of reference is his own long career, so there are elements of To Rococo Rot or Kreidler that spring to mind as he cooks out eerie dub flavors from stark, disparate ingredients.
Schneider's real skill is his seemingly-effortless ability to evoke a sonic world that's immediately identifiable as his own: the magical, anxious buzz of 'To a Single Listener', the tape-distorted electo-psych ambience of 'My Mother Sailor' or the refined-yet-childlike early electronic squelch of 'Actual Possible'. It's a utopian, fairytale world we rather relish getting lost in.
Weightless ambient projections from the prolific don of this style Will Long aka Celer
“‘Being Below’ is a collaborative release between Past Inside the Present (US) and Two Acorns (JP). This is a mini-album of short songs created with digital and analogue instruments. Written with a structure that reflects shifting states, overlooking the past and future as a split pathway with the present endlessly fluctuating between. The pangs of rumination. An exercise in loop-less writing.
"Staring out, tense. Looking down isn’t so different than looking up, but it passes by faster. Contentment at the accomplishment that I'm here, and the fear that what I’ve always been looking for has passed by. Staring up and looking at the sky, wishing you were up here with me, here where you can see everything. Above, the surface drifts by, and the colors on the horizon in pale blues makes me calm. Then blue. Deep in pale blue.
Again, in the morning. Close your eyes. Repeating this, repeating that, then it changes. Try to stay focused, but you've already moved out of sight. You're a million miles away, and farther. Waiting for night. Stars, always beyond. Now, it's already tomorrow." -Celer”
The well trodden path of the Silk Road unveils new secrets to David Shea, who turns years of research into a masterfully absorbing trip for his latest opus with Lawrence English’s Room40
Landing square between the third eyes of Michael Ranta’s focussed east/west experiments and the more impressionistic scenes outlined by KWC 92, ‘The Thousand Buddhas’ feels out an epic journey across continents in a searching side intent on creating practical and esoteric connections between the myriad cultures, regions, and belief systems that follow the Silk Road between China and Rome, linking the ancient realities of Africa, Asia, India, Europe, and the Pacific region.
It’s no new obsession for David Shea, whose dozens of releases sine the early ‘90s have returned to these themes, specifically on ‘Hsi-Yu Chi’, ‘The Tower of Mirrors’, ‘Satyricon’, and ‘Rituals’, which were all based on adaptations of myths connected to the world’s ancient trading routes. Decades later, in a time when China is keenly pressing ahead with Silk Road 2.0, Shea’s latest retun to the area is a multi-dimensional thing, plotting a steeply immersive course from fathomless layers of gamelan percussion, field recordings, and keys, that reach some astonishing heights redolent of Alice Coltrane’s spiritual jazz as much as Michael Ranta’s forays deep into Eastern tradition.
Visionist dives into a chasm of deep introspection with this suite of smudged ambient textures and ghostly vocals.
Louis Carnell's third album as Visionist, "A Call To Arms" swerves the synthetic deconstructions of his debut "Safe" and the noisy, post-industrial grind of 2017's follow-up "Value". Here, Carnell channels light and dark elements, pairing slithering rumbles with operatic highs and enlisting a cadre of collaborators. He even explores the possibilities of his own voice for the first time, singing vulnerable phrases over torched doomscapes.
Opener 'By Design' has Childhood's Ben Romans Hopcraft on vocal duties, crooning in circling waves around wobbly sub bass and spooky waves of static. It's something like Arca's decadent 'Madre', Scott Walker's "Drift" and Antony and the Johnsons, but more introverted. As the album progresses, Carnell carefully reveals his own shy tones, draping his words uncomfortably around shivering foley percussion and grimbient drones.
Most successful is the album's extended eight-minute centerpiece 'Nearly God', which doesn't feature Tricky but does focus around a wonderfully brittle overdriven beat that eventually gives way to tape-munged church bells and looped vocal washes. Elsewhere, Carnell gets assists from Black Midi's Morgan Simpson, Circuit Des Yeux’s Haley Fohr and Ben Vince. It's a bold statement that fades his early Visionist material into the fog of history.
Transports' is the incredible 2nd album by audodidact and outsider musician/composer Tazartès. Originally released on vinyl in 1980, it has now been reissued with extra material on CD in 1998 and 2009, and "Probably represents the most original example of the artist's poetical and personal approach to sound organisation."
The tracks for 'Transports' were recorded in 1977 at Ghedalia's own studio in Paris, strafing stream-of-conscious between rippling electro rhythms to outernational singing styles, collaged field recordings and musique concrete, to chants, tape loops and exotic atmospheres with a perpetual sense of drift and magical imagination. We're spellbound from the first to last, through the deeply evocative peal of church bells and swirling synthetic textures in track 2, via humid sci-fi scenes and alien avian chatter on track 5 and the lost zones of the closing stages. Also included are the two parts of 'Transports' which were composed and recorded for a theatre piece later in 1997 and produced by Emanuele Carcano.
These are denser, more spacious and dramatic, but not necessarily that great. The disc concludes with 'Elie', a charming piano piece performed in duo with the composer's young daughter. For the original 'Transports' at least, this is nigh on essential for fans of adventurous electronic music and composition.
Following their ongoing exposé of Chicago Footwork, Planet Mu turn their keen ears to the 'floor and the sound of Bubbling; the hyper-futuristic Dutch dance craze perpetuated by the 2nd and 3rd generation descendants of Caribbean immigrants.
We'll let the ever-knowledgeable Dave Quam explain the origins "At a party in the late 80s in The Hague, a local DJ by the name of DJ Moortje accidentally dropped a dancehall twelve-inch at 45RPMs, causing chaos in the audience. Not the kind of negative heckling you get when a record skipped, but the kind of excitement that happens when a movement has been started. This beautiful mistake resulted in Bubbling, a cultural expression of immigrants from The Dutch Antilles and Suriname, a genre that would take these communities by storm in Holland in the 1990s. Jamaican exports such as the Fever Pitch and Bam Bam riddims were double and half-timed, with Cutty Ranks on one hand sounding like a pre-pubescent chipmunk, the other hand sounding like an evil duppy. Its sound borrowed slave rhythms from Curacao (DJ Moortje's origin), creating a new Caribbean style of music in Europe that ran parallel to London's Jungle scene."
Fast forward a generation, and now armed with pirate copies of Fruity Loops and basic PCs, kids like 18 year old Anti-G, Shaun-D, Master-D, Daycard, and Deschuurman are fusing the traditional Dembow rhythms of reggaeton with traces of HipHop, Funky House, Grime, and whatever else they feel like, resulting in some of the most exhilarating dance trax we've heard since 'Jukes & Bangs Vol.1'. 'Kentje'sz Beatsz' covers a spectrum of Anti-G's productions between 2009 and 2010.
Over these sixteen tracks his synths sound like Sooty & Sweep on battery acid, while the beats are arranged with an effortless Rubiks cube complexity. Most importantly of all, it makes you want to dance like a f**king Transformer rendered by Alex Rutterford and Hecker. That might not sound so appealling to some, but check the kids popping and locking to this stuff on youtube and you'll soon catch the bug. No doubt, this is already one of our records of the year, and manages to make 90% of stuff out there seem stiff and 5 years behind the times. Highly Highly recommended!!!
Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
A new collection of current DIY post-punk shaped by the mutant sounds of no wave, punk funk and New York Noise bands from the late 70s and early 80s that collided with the world of underground dance music found at the Paradise Garage, Mudd Club in New York City (ESG, Arthur Russell, Bush Tetras, Talking Heads, Suicide, Liquid Liquid).
"Other influences cited here include Manchester and Sheffield’s industrial post-punk sounds of the 1980s (Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, Gang of Four) as well as the 1970s German electronic experimentalism of Cluster, Neu!, Harmonia and Can. Featured artists from around the globe include Los Angeles DIY band Automatic, New Fries from Toronto, artist/music collaborators Toresch from Germany, Susumu Makai from Japan/UK, Vex Ruffin from the Philippines/California and Madmadmad, Gramme, Tom of England and other UK groups. That all the bands featured here manage to make distinctive contemporary music out of these 80s roots is testament to the wide range of other musics that are seamlessly absorbed into a modern melting pot of sound - hip hop, the electronic European avant-garde, rave culture and more."
Norwegian duo Smerz release ‘Believer’, the debut album that pushes Smerz far beyond their previous EP releases, 2017’s ‘Okey’ and 2018’s ‘Have Fun’.
"Since releasing the ‘Believer’ trailer back in October 2020, followed by a video for the tracks ‘I don’t talk about that much/Hva hvis’, the duo of Catharina Stoltenberg and Henriette Motzfeldt have slowly revealed a new auditory world. The duo meld sonic touchstones from their youth, like musicals and classical music, with swirling, tranceindebted synth lines and hip-hop plus R&B vocals that is distinctly Smerz. The duo performed recently at Oslo’s Ultima festival; in early 2020 they scored a performance by Carte Blanche, the Norwegian national company of contemporary dance, as well as performed at Mira festival in collaboration with legendary visual maverick Weirdcore."
Reliably unpredictable innovators Mouse on Mars are back with an album of bizarre AI-led club/Kraut deconstructions.
Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma's haphazard electronic experiments have been a refreshing constant over the last 25 years. Always different and often essential, the duo's productions inevitably reflect the era's shifting contemporary forms but inject them with a mischievous DIY spirit and innovative, exploratory sense of wonder. "AAI" is no different, and finds MoM exploring concepts of artificial intelligence without resorting to clapped posturing or empty-headed theorizing.
The title stands for "Anarchic Artificial Intelligence" and to assemble the record, Toma and Werner got together an intriguing team of collaborators: writer and scholar Louis Chude-Sokei, DJ and producer Yağmur Uçkunkaya, percussionist and longtime MoM collaborator Dodo NKishi, AI tech collective Birds on Mars and former Soundcloud programmers Ranny Keddo and Derrek Kindle. The team worked together to create a piece of software that could model speech, feeding it text and voice from Chude-Sokei and Uçkunkaya and allowing the software to learn from that. The resulting voice sounds that guide "AAI" are completely computer generated, despite sounding like narration or samples. Mouse on Mars were able to use the voices like an instrument and play the software like a synthesizer, using the artificial intelligence elements less like an app to write its own music, but like a tool they could manipulate to inspire their musical methodology.
"Machines can open up new concepts of life, and expand our definitions of being human," says Werner. Certainly the line between human and computer is seriously blurred here, with voices melting into percussion and drums rattling and fluffing between words and syllables like bees in honeycomb. "AAI" is a deeply unusual album, utilizing familiar elements - rhythmic flutters from footwork or emerging club forms are brought together in harmony with pulsing motorik sounds - and corrupting or disrupting them with sci-fi-tinged philosophical elements. It's not a record that you can acceptably play in the background, by any means, it takes attention and concentration, and it deserves it.
Cool, off-kilter, improvised jazz-fusion from Norway’s foremost proponents; Mats Gustafsson, Andreas Werlin, and Johan Berthing a.k.a Fire!
“Not the most optimistic title for pressing times, but the music sees Fire! tracking new paths and reaching new levels of excellence, still honoring their 12 year old vow of presenting a fresh approach to improvised music. Their debut album, You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago, was released in 2009 to wide international acclaim. “The basic strategy of pairing the expressive energy of free jazz with a sturdy sense of groove has yielded something potent and self-contained” (New York Times). Between this and Defeat there´s been five albums, including collaborations with Jim O´Rourke (Unreleased?, 2011) and Oren Ambarchi (In The Mouth A Hand, 2012).
No two Fire! records sound the same, but with Defeat they have taken their biggest leap so far, with Gustafsson giving the flute a prominent place in the sound image, a surprising and most successful move, his both expressive and ornamental approach given ample room to breathe, especially on the two long tracks bookending the album. In places more subdued than on previous efforts, but with the distinctive bass figures and hypnotic mood fully intact. There are some lively stretches with guests Goran Kajfes and Mats Aleklint, bringing to mind their big band offshoot Fire! Orchestra, albeit on a much smaller scale.”