Another Timbre finally realise their long-held ambition of putting together new recordings of John Cage’s Number Pieces, here performed by Apartment House who shine a light on Cage’s late period “reconciliation with harmony” on a staggering set of recordings that span over 5 hours in length and which will likely upend everything you thought you knew about the late, great composer's legacy. In other words; it’s a highly immersive, quiet and meditative entry-point to his vast catalogue that comes very highly recommended to old guard and complete newcomers alike - a mind/soul expanding session awaits you.
The Number Pieces were written by Cage during the final five years of his life, 1987-1992, and are widely regarded the most broadly appealing of his vast oeuvre - despite few of them having been performed over the past couple of decades. The starting point for the pieces is typical of Cage’s chance procedures - they don’t have a set time signature, bar lines or a conductor, and the musicians performing can decide when and how loud or soft to play each note, making each and every performance of a number piece unique. As the recordings took place during lockdown between August 2020 and May 2021, many of the individual parts were recorded separately and edited in in post-production, presenting a far from ideal, yet intriguing additional dimension to these performances.
Titled for the number of players (i.e. Five) and their position in the series of compositions (i.e. Five²), each piece accords to a score composed using Cage’s time bracket technique; short fragments which indicate performers play what is often just a single note, and for a mix of fixed and flexible durations. Some were composed for non-Western instruments, but this set focusses on works for traditional instruments, deploying a range from Accordion to Xylophone in myriad configurations.
The set is broadly centred around variations to one of Cage’s earliest number pieces ‘Five’, variations of which account for half of the set, and range from relatively succinct, gorgeous interpretations to a 40 minute rendering of its trombone and string quartet version ‘Five³’. Most striking to us, however, is the remarkably cavernous, abstract space explored in their take on ‘Fourteen’ and also ‘Seven²’, both demanding percussionists use “any very resonant instruments”, while the brief, Gamelan-esque ’Six’ also points to Cage’s fascinations with Far eastern traditions. The hour long ‘Eight’ for wind is also striking for the way Apartment House slowly comprehend its complexities (more than 80 time brackets per part) across its considerable arcing breath.
In effect, the Number Pieces reveal Cage’s return to ideas of harmony after ostensibly finding ways around it ever since his studies under serialist Arnold Schoenberg in the ‘30s. They are perhaps the most beautifully ponderous manifestation of his work with chance operations, or use of the I-Ching as compositional tool, and the soundest reflection of his notion that a harmony exists in everything, if one’s to acknowledge the possibilities that lie beyond the restrictions of classical convention - the rest of the world, the un/known cosmos, and everything between. For the Cage curious and acolytes alike, Apartment House and Another Timbre have here managed to frame Cage in an unexpected light, presenting us with an unmissable entry portal to his most rarified realisation of cosmic chaos.
Livity Sound mark a decade of skin in the game with a comp pulling focus on their roster of rhythmic misfits in 2021.
Originally founded as an outlet for Pev, Kowton, and Asusu’s like-minded soundsystem techno oddities in 2011, the label’s scope has gradually expanded over the intervening decade to embrace an emerging movement of non-standard bassbin operators such as Batu, Hodge, Bruce and Simo Cell via the Reverse label (Dnuos Ytivil), and nowadays stands at a busy intersection of globally related styles loosely termed hard drum, or bass music.
Proc Fiscal does his genre origami with grime, drill, jungle, footwork and vaporous ambient styles in a plush 2nd album for Hyperdub
In pursuit of the mercurial magick previously found on his string of acclaimed, daring 12”s and debut LP ‘Insula’ (2018), he returns with a charmingly effusive new volley of 14 cuts that sparkle with restless, fractious detailing and whirring rhythm mechanics. Like his label mates Lorraine James and Lee Gamble, it’s effectively IDM, as in he can’t help but go to town on his grooves and express a probing “intelligence” or curiosity in the embellishments. The results may be too busy for some straighter club heads, but fizz with ingenuity for others, and surely nobody can argue that he’s not got that classic Scottish feel for funk locked down.
In another time, ‘Siren Spine Sysex’ could have been prime Rephlex material, showing off a devilish mastery of inch-tight drum programming and non-standard electronic tuning in each part as the album cascades and skids between lilting downbeat opener ‘Anti Chesst’ and the salty noise convolutions of ‘Roman Fatigue.’ It finds him filleting drill’s glyding bass and hollow-tipped snares in aerial footwork styles on ‘Convaerge Iana’ and the skittish ‘Met Path Thoth,’ with a crafty cut of R&G vocal thizz in the centrepiece ‘8 Mgapixel See Thru Phone,’ alongside a warped, tangy take on Afrobeats in ‘Thurs Jung Youtz’ and ‘Her In.’ His playful wits are in best effect on ‘The Most Beautiful Irish Song,’ which sounds a bit like Todd Edwards doing a giddy jig, and comes complemented by the Carl Stone-esque levels of glitchy vocal processing on ‘Leith Torn Carnal,’ with the album’s sweetest treats coming in the relatively laid-back but mutant minor key drill swag of ‘Auld Peop.’
Maiden vinyl voyage of Thomas Köner’s seminal dark ambient album inspired by cosmic ephemera, available on wax and digital formats for first time since 1995.
Originally released by Barooni, who also issued Köner’s first trio of solo albums (and Roland Kayn’s titanic ‘Tektra’ boxset), ‘Aubrite’ checks into the German artist’s resoundingly dark, isolationist headspace a few years later for a profound meditation on the void. To be fair, it’s obviously “dark”, but more in a sense of its starkness and lonesome nature, rather than anything overbearingly gothic or cinematic, holding to a canvas of barely-there, near infrasonic inference and suggestion, and with a timeless fascination as evocative as the small achrondite meteorites that fell near Nyons in 1836 and lend it its title.
"Whoever hears the distortion of all sounds, will soon become Ultrablack. Whoever listens to this world, but has no affection for any of its sites, even to the place of Black Noise, may soon reach Ultrablack. Whoever understands the spirit of impartiality through ten thousand million partial tones, hears Ultrablack and can no longer be measured. No measures, no enclosures, no properties are the sign of ultrablack scores." Thomas Köner
Returning from the brink for the first time in 26 years, ‘Aubrite’ still imparts a message that’s best translated by atavistic instinct. Like Roland Kayn’s work, the level of scope and layered depth is just unfathomably cavernous and even on some levels unheimlich amniotic, yielding a series of quietly reverberating and sensational sort of non-musical events that suspend the senses and send its recipient floating thru richly imaginative deepsea, boreal, and cosmic headspace.
Much needed reissue of Porter Ricks’ 1997 follow-up to ‘Biokinetics’, plunging deep in the interzone between ambient, noise, and dub techno across its expanded and reshaped 2021 version
Re-floating an overlooked vessel from their 25 year voyage, ‘Same’ returns to the surface subtly resequenced to change its direction of flow, front-loading its rolling dub techno depths and pushing its mid-late ‘90s smoker-funk hip hop and D&B tracks to the back (to be fair they could have omitted them fully). Dodgy bits aside, what remains is a killer example of Porter Ricks’ patented subaquatic pressure in effect, oscillating waves of skanking and stepping groove with canny turns to funkier house and disco loop styles that acknowledge the era they were launched into.
Anyone smote by Porter Ricks’ preceding run of classics for Chain Reaction and Milel Plateaux will be in their element with this album’s dub techno dynamics, with wickedly offset grooves in the ‘Redundance’ parts at their skudgy best in the discoid grind of ‘Redundancy 3’, darker textural ambient scapes in ‘Redundance (Version)’, and a gorgeous scanner ‘Redundance 5’ surely laying the ground for Convextion’s album tracks. At its deepest point, ‘Scuba Lounge’ exerts 11 mins of menacing pressure, before the residual deep house throb of ‘Spoiled’ comes on like a rave heard from miles across dark sea, and ’Spoil’ cuts the filters to reveal a proper Chi-style disco-house loop in action.
The Invisible’s lynchpin, Dave Okumu steps out with a suave solo debut album of jazz-sparked hip hop neatly incorporating piano chops by his peer, Duval Timothy and strong nods to J Dilla
After more than a decade of supplying his talents to records by everyone from Amy Winehouse to Ed O’Brien (Radiohead), Tony Allen, Theo Parrish and Jessie Ware (he co-produced/co-wrote her Mercury nominated album, Devotion); Okumu plays it deadly cool and beatdown on his definitive personal statement to date. ‘Knopperz’ wears its influences proudly, with Timothy Duval’s slinky keys, and slompy drums and sirens patently hailing Dilla, but the rest is all him, hustling a hypnotically low-key and smoked out sound slanted to the twilight hours and beyond.
Keeping it fully instrumental and allowing his melodic personality to ooze thru the grooves and moods, the pacing is effortless, luring us in with the balmy bump and lyrical piano turns of phrase in ‘Son of Emmerson’ and coolly accommodating attentions between the groggy jazz-blues of ‘Ballpark’ to the melancholic sign-off ‘Don’t Die’, with his Dilla worship in evidence on the red-eyed nod of ‘Trouble’ and wickedly stumbling drums of ‘RTN.’
ATFA on their A-game with a debut album of Amapiano aces by Native Soul, the teenaged, Gauteng-based duo of Kgothatso Tshabalala and Zakhele Mhlanga (DJ Zakes)
Arriving in the vein of ATFA’s arguably overlooked zingers by Teno Afrika and DJ Black Low, Native Soul’s efforts should be set to catch fire with a rapidly expanding global audience for Amapiano, or at least its fervent UK fanbase. The tracks are perfectly calibrated with that Amapiano dark/light suspension system, balancing the trilling bass below the waist with atmospheric pads that get up in yuh head and grip the dance like little else right now. The pace is of course locked to SA’s favoured mid-tempo deep house velocity (we’ve heard stories of SA turntables with the pitch locked off at +4, lol), which to be honest does sometimes feel unusual in UK clubs, but soon enough locks everyone into its lathering groove.
Native Soul’s take on the still evolving genre displays a reserved emotive intelligence mature beyond their years, holding it down and lip-bitingly restrained in the tightest style. We’ll maintain that the best dancers we’ve ever seen hail from SA, and it’s perhaps no surprise when they’ve got this kinda gear to practice with; coming with tendon-tuning nuance in the hip-shot string stabs and puckered torque of ‘Ambassador’ ft. Ubuntu Brothers, and tucking in tight in-the-pocket on the brooding ‘United As One’, and with pure pensile suss in the delayed gratification of ‘Way To Cairo’ while the furtive progressions of ‘Letter To Kabza De Small’ and belly tightening hustle ‘End Of Time’, like much Amapiano, feel really strangely attuned to the tension and efficient energy conservation themes of the times.
In other words it’s a fucking massive tip!
YOUTH host Significant Other’s glum but resilient meditation on love and loss, a broodingly therapeutic debut album that straddles IDM and industrial Ambient signatures, reminding us of work from Bola to Jay Glass Dubs, Spectre to classic late night Rob Hall mixes.
Sharing a different side of his sound to that heard on club-cut 12”s for Spe:c, Oscilla Sound and anno over the past few years, Significant Other here dwells on feelings that “emerged from moments of extreme passion and pain", patching new and archival material to work thru a mental fug of ambient noise laments and crankily dubbed out illbient lines of thought.
The pacing is stygian and the atmosphere near still, betraying a depth of suppressed emotion that he processes over the album’s eight tracks. ‘Demonology’ evokes a hash haze contemplation with its patina of Burial-esque vapours and incidental crackle, and ‘The Future Doesn’t Exist’ taps into a classic vein of screwed NYC downbeats a la Spectre, showing off a killer instinct for crushed hip hop drums also explored on the weighty swang of his ‘Love Beat.’
‘Residuum’ doesn't fall into outright doom, preferring to skirt the event horizon of a black hole and keep the chin bobbing up with the vulnerable yet hopeful tones of ‘Pendant’, also in the Loren Connors-esque midnight peal of ‘Drifting In The Third Person’ and the elegiac closing sequence ‘Perpetual Care’, with its piano and string led coda.
Steven Ellison's first feature-length anime soundtrack is an endlessly satisfying jeweled box of delights, with Vangelis-esque vintage synth sparkles rubbing up against carbon-blasted trap, dusty tape warped funk and psychedelic electro-jazz.
It makes complete sense that Ellison would end up scoring a project as idiosyncratic and ambitious as LeSean Thomas’ anime show about a lone Black samurai in feudal Japan. The Los Angeles beat scene innovator cut his teeth doing short bumps for edgy US TV animation channel Adult Swim - home of Ellison's beloved "Afro Samurai" - so surely a project like this was always on the cards. And he's knocked it out of the park, blending a lifetime of nerdy musical influences, from the spiritual jazz of his aunt Alice Coltrane and the bouncy early electronic weirdness of Raymond Scott to the neon strip club pulse of Mike Will and the MPC-fried swing of Mobb Deep's Havoc.
There are 26 cues on the extended album, and while the tracks might lack the duration of those on his proper albums, their heart and mood speaks volumes. Ellison sounds completely untethered, like he's finally got the chance to pay tribute to a life spent jamming tunes and watching cartoons. He's in his element, and that gives the project a warmth and honesty that's hard to ignore. Fans of everyone from Adrian Younge and Emeralds to Ricci Rucker and Tangerine Dream should investigate immediately.
Contemporary classical minimalist Jürg Frey transmutes the poetic landscape observations of Gustave Roud (1897-1976) into haunting chamber works for Another Timbre.
Gustave Roud was a poet from the French-speaking part of Frey’s native Switzerland. He studied literature at the University of Lausanne and realised he didn’t want to return to life as a farmer, instead returning to live with his sister in the family’s farmhouse for the rest of his life, mooching in the countryside and mountains, detailing his thoughts in what would become a three volume Collected Works, as well as diaries and critical writings, plus lesser known work as a photographer.
After immersing in Roud’s work, Frey composed this collection in his honour, as he explains: “I first encountered Roud’s work more than 10 years ago, and the impact of his work on my music has been profound. I feel a close relationship to a poet whose mode of operation and sensitivity make a precise resonance in me. It’s a unique poetry that speaks from beginning to end of searching for the essence. I would like to compare his mode of work with that of a painter. Every day he went out, not with an easel, but with his notebook, and he wandered through the landscape as a flaneur, observer, writer, laying the foundations of his work with his notes. For me his work constitutes a kind of ‘field recording’, not with a microphone and sounds, but with his soul and body, recording his environment in the broadest sense. He perceived existential dimensions in the finest nuances of the weather, the landscape and its inhabitants, and made it the basis of his work.”
With quietly gripping results, Frey - and Stefan Thut (cello), Dante Boon (piano), Andrew McIntosh (violin), Regula Konrad (soprano), Stephen Altoft (trumpet), Lee Ferguson (percussion) - sensitively limn the Roud’s work with a painterly play of light and space, and quite literally thru the track titles, with the most enchanting of these bringing it all together, strings, wind, percussion, and transfixing vox based on Roud’s words, in the otherwordly evocation of ‘Farbiose Wolken, Glück, Wind (2009-11).’
Jürg Frey is present in his 7-piece Ensemble Grizzana, performing a suite of more conventional works that go easier on the silences.
The 2015 double album features Frey on clarinet surrounded in various arrangements by Mira Benjamin (violin), Richard Craig (flute), Emma Richards (violin), Philip Thomas (piano), Seth Woods (cello) and Ryoko Akama (electronics), performing 19 works written 2009-2014. Less prone to long, searching silences, as found on Frey’s more radical works, the music is still borderline liminal, but largely held back from ephemerality.
Frey’s clarinet is accompanied by Seth Woods’ sallow cello in the set’s beautiful opener ‘Petit Fragment De Passage’, which becomes a recurring piece performed by various configurations, from the perspectives of Ryoko Akama’s organ and Philip Thomas’ Piano keys, a string duet by Emma Richards (Viola) & Mira Benjamin (Violin), and Richard Craig (Flute) with Emma Richards (Violin) again, each as quiet captivating as the other.
But their strengths lie in the assembled ensemble pieces, which locate a tremulous democracy between their various voices in ‘Fragile Balance’ and the watercolour landscape of ‘Extended Circular Music No.8’, and with remarkably rich effect in the titular seven-part suite. Fans of Philip Thomas’ quietly unmissable ’Morton Feldman Piano’ set for Another Timbre will no doubt be charmed by his solo performance here, ‘Lieues D’ombres’, and in trio with Seth Woods and Frey on the haunting 30’ work ‘Area of Three’, and we’re reminded to the sacred sublime tension of Jakob Ullmann’s quiet music in the mesmerising hush of the ensemble’s ‘Ferne Farben.’
Last seen sparring with Lucy Railton, pianist Kit Downes here duels with composer and pianist Matt Rogers. Evocative, physical music that bridges the gap between improvisation and composition for fans of Keith Jarrett.
'Premonitions of the Unbuilt City' is based on Matt Rogers' opera "She Described it to Death", which was reduced to piano by Christopher Mayo before being arranged and edited by Downes and Rogers. With Downes adding his signature improvisation, the piece took on new life - something that no doubt inspired the change of title. It's a virtuoso performance from both players, who appear to be locked in debate as they trade harmony and texture between two pianos. Anyone into the slickly accomplished ECM catalogue - particularly Keith Jarrett's recordings - would do well to check this one.
Philip Thomas’ spellbinding solo piano performance of ’Circles and Landscapes’ is a result of Jürg Frey’s residency at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF), 2014
As with his masterful renditions of Morton Feldman found in the unmissable 4CD boxset, Thomas’ performance of these six Frey pieces bring the composer’s work to light with requisite precision and care at St. Paul’s Hall, University of Huddersfield, 4th and 5th August 2015.
Oooosh! Deadly Afro-funk from Benin, 1974 sees light of day again with Acid Jazz, to the relief of anyone put off by the triple figure 2nd hand prices.
Available for the first time outside of Benin, Nigeria, the cult side contains some of the deepest and earliest roots music issued on the Albarika label. It’s dominated by the 13 minute lead cut of inimitably Wets African drums synched to fiery psych guitar licks and balmy vocals in ‘Gan Tche Kpo’, which is surely enough to take the head top off any Afrobeat lovers, while the soulful slow jam ‘My Love’ strips everything right back to the tightest sway and almost garage-soul-styled guitars with a duet between wordless croon and sax that says it all.
‘Gnonnou Ho’ picks up the pace with spikier, stepping drums and melody that feels to look East to these ears, recalling Ethiopiques and much farther Eastern vibes on a lilting psych-funk groove, and ‘Min E Wa..We Non Dou’ keeps it up there in an eight minute special for the dancers hashed with wild electric guitar, organ and horns .
Montreal art rockers Suuns follow last year's hazed and phased EP "Fiction" with a more substantial, electronic and skeletal collection of timewarping sounds and ideas.
'The Witness' might be Suuns' chilliest, most anxious set yet. Its 7-minute opener sounds closer to a Radiophonic Workshop jam or a 1970s documentary soundtrack than anything from the band's back catalogue, with talkbox vocals only breaking the squishy wall of analog synth at the midway point. It's a curious choice, but works well, coming across like a prog rock power move rather than post-Radiohead avant electronic posturing.
The band's stoner rock cred is still more than intact. Vocals are rubbery and harmonized, often slapped across inverted rhythms or over slithering industrial synth arpeggios, sounding like Jean-Michel Jarre or John Carpenter, but lifted into Beach Boys territory. The sloppy noisiness of their previous records is still present in spirit, but now a DIY electronic spirit is the primary focus, and on angular, druggy tracks like 'Timebender' and 'Go To My Head' it really works.
The architect engineer of Industrial music, Chris Carter (TG, X-TG, CTI, Chris & Cosey) turns classic early works inside out in an Electronic Ambient style on the first of reissued volumes with Mute.
Effectively rendering his seminal solo debut album ‘The Space Between’ in hyperspace, Carter measures distance travelled between the end of the ‘70s and 2000AD with ‘Electronic Ambient Remixes One.’ Originally issued under the CTI alias that he shares with creative and life partner Cosey Fanni Tutti, the album exemplifies his switch from angular manipulations of bespoke hardware to a mixture of hardware and computer-based systems, practically melting the tensile hard edges of his early classics with infinitely smooth gradients and more sensual pulses that reset their meaning from club and living room laboratories to a headier abstract metaspace.
For anyone familiar with Carter’s 1980 debut album, it’s all the more remarkable to hear those tracks utterly transformed and transposed into their reflections here. Unrecognisable from the originals, Carter translates their original post-Industrial vernacular into an alien language of vaporous signs and suggestive textures, dematerialising any semblance of fixed structure in favour of sheer amorphousness and floating amniotic sensation somewhere between lush and unheimlich. But for anyone unfamiliar with the originals, we’d even advise doing them in reverse chronology to hear what were once deeply futuristic forms emerge from Ur flux and vice versa.
DJ Sprinkles' classic Midtown 120 Blues, self-released by Terre Thaemlitz through their Comatonse imprint and finally available again.
Bringing deep house back into contact with its club culture roots, Terre Thaemlitz created one of the most essential house albums of the last two decades with 'Midtown 120 Blues'. Terre was originally working as a DJ under her Sprinkles alias in the gay clubs of midtown Manhattan and New Jersey in the late 80's when deep house began to blossom. It's this early period of House history which Terre has beautifully recreated over 10 tracks, making a pointed comment with the intro track taking shots at Strictly Rhythm for becoming 'Strictly Vocal' and pulling no punches towards "Most Europeans who think deep house means shitty hi-NRG vocal house".
With the intentions made clear, Terre develops a masterpiece of serene melancholy and sublime deep house crafted with the skill and dedication of someone who you know lived this music through every fibre of their being. From the rich subbass driven tones of 'Midtown 120 Blues' with plaintive pianos slowly encircling one another, to drag queen monologues over the deepest ambient brushed rhythms on 'Ball'r (Madonna-Free Zone)' or head-meltingly warm chords and caressed percussion of 'Brenda's $20 dilemna' - this will suck in and swallow you whole - transporting you to another place, another time.
A total pleasure.
please remember that we support Terre and Comatonse Recordings' efforts to keep projects offline, minor, and acting queerly. When purchasing this item, we ask you to refrain from uploading and indiscriminate sharing in any form. <3
Vital narrative-led field recording work captured in the Amazon rainforest by Aussie recordist and Room40 boss Lawrence English. Utterly captivating stuff that places us in the center of a misunderstood part of the world and allows us to appreciate its rare, complex beauty.
While English is likely best known at this point for his transcendent and ear-splitting drone plates like "Wilderness of Mirrors" and "Cruel Optimism", it's his understated field recordings that have always fascinated us most. "A Mirror Holds The Sky" is a selection of untreated recordings gathered in 2008 in the Amazon over a period of several weeks, chopped down from over fifty hours of audio. It's layered, textured sound that's as mind-alteringly elaborate as any pioneering electronic work (think Morton Subotnick or latter-day Autechre) but exists completely in the natural realm.
'The Jungle' eases us into a world that might be familiar to anyone who's spent significant time with Werner Herzog's "Aguirre" or "Fitzcarraldo". The Screaming Phia takes a lead role here, calling indiscreetly over the hum and buzz of insects and other birds. But as the album digs further into the rainforest, more unfamiliar sounds are unearthed. 'The River' seems to exist both underneath and above the water, capturing the swirl of insects that flutter on the surface. 'The Island' is more unsettling still, with implacable animal gurgles that build into a chorus of groaning, dissonant rasps noisier and more desolate than any noise tape.
On 'The Shore', innumerable insects fashion layers of hypnotizing drone that lull you into near meditation, while 'The Tower' magnifies these sounds further, breaking the illusion. The record is constructed so perfectly; English works like a documentary filmmaker, using real life footage but forming a narrative anybody can hook themselves into.
It's a towering work from a consistently engaging artist that truly celebrates the raw sonic power of the natural world - and is an album to file alongside Chris Watson’s still incomprehensible/incomparable 'Outside The Circle Of Fire’ - it’s that good.
Queer deep house pioneer Terre Thaemlitz hustles her entire DJ Sprinkles solo catalogue beyond the seminal ‘Midtown 120 Blues’ album in a crucial 19-track set of NYC-via-Tokyo gold, including many tracks popping their digital cherries for the first time.
‘Gayest Tits & Greyest Shits: 1998-2017 12-inches & One-offs’ sums up twenty years of action deep in the bowels of house with a precious suite drawing from rare and hard-to-find pearls scattered between the late ‘90s and end of the last decade. They span the specificities of a sound rooted in the gay scene of NYC from the late ‘80s onward, testifying to the minimalist, bass-heavy style that Sprinkles played at DJ residencies in transsexual clubs and would later take to Tokyo after moving there at turn of the millennium. For our money they’re some of the strongest, most distinctive deep house cuts of our time, holding true to the fundamentals of a style that would become mistranslated, misunderstood, and coopted by successive waves of deep house dilettantes.
Newly collected and presented in tandem with the ‘Midtown 120 Blues’ reissue, the 19 heavyweight club grooves still kill the old way, focussing on proper jackers drums and sphincter-tickle levels of subbass sparingly ornamented with samples in purist integrations of function and politics that don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. From the earliest Sprinkles cuts in ’Sloppy 42nds’ (1998), a tribute to the 42nd St. transsexual clubs destroyed by Walt Disney’s buyout of Times Square, and 2001’s ruddy nods to that classic Adonis motif in ‘Bassline.89’, thru to proper red-lit basement pressure in ‘Glorimar’s Whore House’, puckered darkroom suss in ‘Kissing Costs Extra’ or ‘Masturjakor’, and up to the heart-punching 10min+ reworks of his Terre Thaemlitz material, it’s a totally unmissable set for proper house heads and far beyond. It’s a document of phase-shifting times helmed by one of the most interesting and important artists of our age.
Please remember that we support Terre and Comatonse Recordings' efforts to keep projects offline, minor, and acting queerly. When purchasing this item, we ask you to refrain from uploading and indiscriminate sharing in any form. <3
Beautiful meditation by Barbara Monk Feldman, performed by the GBSR Duo with Mira Benjamin.
One of only a handful of releases bearing her name, ‘Verses’ yields a five-part suite written by Barbara Monk Feldman between 1988-1997, and performed here with extreme sensitivity by George Barton (percussion) and Siwan Rhys (piano), with Mira Benjamin (violin). The dates of the works tell us it was all written in the wake of the late, great minimalist Morton Feldman’s passing, in 1987, and they effectively see Barbara continue her husband’s quietly resounding, radical practice during the proceeding decade. Morton’s legion followers will surely recognise the level of liminality from his work in Barbara’s five compositions, which patently share a patience, pacing and appreciation of painterly qualities in their music’s lingering notes and longing strokes of suggestive tonal colour.
As Barbara states in interview accompanying the release, ‘Verses’ takes its logic and nature from her observations of “what is inside and what is outside. The everyday life and tragedy of what goes on around you.” The sublime results are the lucid manifestation of a rich inner life, and speak to her awareness of the porous borders between perception and instinct. They tenderly model her feelings on spaces, places, and the elusive ephemerality of colour, drawing links to the sculpture of Giacometti, the transient qualities of Cezanne landscapes, or the mystical side of Wittgenstein’s thinking and logic, to most subtly emphasise the intangible, encouraging one to really occupy the space between the notes, and meld into the gradated harmonics of decay.
Arvo Pärt has become something of a yardstick by which contemporary sacred music has been measured, and 'Alina' is arguably his most loved and imitated piece of work.
Für Alina was first performed in Tallinn in 1976, and has become one of Pärt’s most-loved and widely appreciated works - regarded by many as an early, defining example of his signature tintinnabuli style. In the years since its release, Pärt has become the most performed living composer in the world, his approach to religious music seeping deep into our cultural landscape, from the avant garde to the mainstream.
Rendered with nothing more than piano and violin, this definitive ECM version from 1999 features Vladimir Spivakov, Sergej Bezrodny, Dietmar Schwalke and Alexander Malter providing alternate versions, handpicked by Pärt himself from recordings that were originally several hours long. It’s a masterclass in simplicity; an almost painfully beautiful rendering of emotional landscapes that, in the wrong hands, could have (and has, on many occasions, by so many) turned to schmaltz.
South Korean-born, LA-based producer, rapper and singer Park Hye Jin impressed with her "How Can I" EP and Clams Casino, Blood Orange and Nosaj Thing collaborations. "Before I Die" is a mixtape-like effort that combines disparate flavors of hip-hop and dance with sunny K-pop vocals and riffs.
'Before I Die' attempts a lot, but struggles to escape its cascade of influences. Park Hye Jin sounds most comfortable when she works in a house mode. Opening track 'Let's Sing Let's Dance' is the album's most successful track, her voice is assured whether singing or offering deadpan phrases and the production is propulsive and effective. But when she veers into overworked rap subgenres ('Before I Die', 'Where Did I Go') it gets a bit murkier.
It's not all bad news: 'Good Morning Good Night' is a blissful downtempo cut, and 'Can I Get Your Number' interpolates LA's short-lived jerkin' sound in a respectful way. But "Before I Die" is just too disjointed to fully lean into.
Mark & Moritz entrust their Basic Channel output to Pete and René (aka Substance & Vainqueur) who create a sort of immersive label mix featuring components from all 9 Basic Channel 12"s plus some choice cuts from Rhythm and Sound, remodeeled and reshaped in classic style.
The first cut employs fragments from Cyrus's 'Inversion', 'Mutism', 'Radiance III' and the Basic Channel reworking of Carl Craig's 'The Climax' - somewhere between mixing and remixing - and that's just the opening sequence. Flowing from first moment to last, it serves as a testimony to one of the most revered catalogues in all of electronic music - hugely enjoyable if you already know and love all contained within, and a good entry point for n000bs - if there are any left by this point.
Emerging from the chaos and destruction of post-gentrification NYC, "How the Garden Grows" is a jagged, angry record that bricks YVETTE's gloomy industrial pop into a desolate tower block basement.
Recorded in 2016 in fits and starts, "How the Garden Grows" documents not only a changing New York City but also the demise of YVETTE as a duo. The band was initially formed by Noah Kardos-Fein and drummer Rick Daniel in 2012, but as this album was being recorded, Daniel departed, leaving Kardos-Fein to carry on the project on his own. This event is documented on the album's woozy ambient outro, where you can hear Daniel open the studio door and leave.
The rest of the record was put together with both musicians and strikes a more familiar tone, with Daniel's propulsive rhythms giving a tuff edge to Kardos-Fein's reverberating chants and zippy electronics. It's cold, unusual material that sometimes sounds like a poppier take on Lightning Bolt's daring power duo noise and Animal Collective's ritualistic post-Beach Boys chants.
'Mirror Views' is a substantial minimalist tome from LA-based composer Byron Westbrook. Taking cues from Maryanne Amacher and Luc Ferrari, Westbrook sidesteps the cosmic synth shimmer of this year's 'Distortion Hue' and moves into long-form deep listening territory, using tape-dubbed field recordings, white noise and disorientating drones.
Clocking in at a hefty 72-minutes, 'Mirror Views' is not for the faint of heart. It's a departure for Westbrook, not necessarily for his practice - those that have seen him perform will have no doubt experienced this aspect of his work before. For our money it also might just be his most convincing album to date, a collection of delicate, careful field recordings and subtle tonal elements that places Westbrook solidly alongside his heroes and the greats of the genre.
It's a fully immersive work, not just in its duration but in the absorbing character of the sounds he creates and the narrative it inspires. The piece 'Mirror View' itself is split into three distinct sections, and the first develops over 20 minutes from marshy field recordings that dwell on barely-audible sloshing and insects' rhythmic chirps. Slowly, Westbrook introduces indistinct voices and feedback tones that transform a natural world into an unsettling alien landscape.
The shorter second part offsets these tones with white noise that mutates into crashing waves, but it's Westbrook's careful editing that pushes the track into transcendence. At times it's not completely obvious what he's doing, if anything, but focus your listening and you can just about make up the tiny shifts in noise and texture that create distinct rhythms and disorientating hallucinatory effects.
On the final piece, Westbrook turns up the gain a little further, conducting an orchestra of fine tones that act as a warm, harmonic finale before the environmental recordings return for one last coda. It's masterful deep listening material that displays the possibility for experimentation within the wider field recording spectrum - we urge you to check in.
German renaissance man Niklas Wandt digs his way thru psychedelic, jazz, world, funk and kraut moods on "Solar Musli", arriving on a hectic, borderless sound that refuses to stand still for a moment. Imagine Sun Ra jamming with "On the Corner"-era Miles, Florian Schneider and Felix Kubin.
A drummer, producer and DJ, Wandt has presented WDR 3's Jazz & World program for years, DJing in Düsseldorf's Salon des Amateurs and recording with bands such as Oracles and Stabil Elite and working on synth pop as Neuzeitliche Bodenbeläge. "Solar Müsli" is his most chaotic solo record yet, an album that attempts to flatten his life of wild, diverse influences and unpick a musical puzzle.
It's a thrill ride, veering from quirky, psychedelic free poetry ('Der gläserne Tag') to sprawling, percussive funk ('Lo Spettro'), unhinged free-jazz kraut-pop ('Küsnacht') and quirky early electronic experimentation ('Solar Müsli'). It's best looked at as the work of a particularly limber DJ - Wandt writes and plays like he's mixing with four un-synced decks, wandering thru rhythm, structure and genre like an intrepid explorer.
A surreal and carnivalesque lost French classique that's somewhere between Cocteau Twins, Nuno Canavarro and Leila, "Chaleur Humaine" originally emerged in 1992, the debut release of sibling duo Danielle and Didier Jean. Anyone into hypnagogic pop, fractured new age experiments or '80s FM synth soundtracks needs to hear this jaw-dislocating Rosetta stone.
UMAN's music spidered out thru various new age and global sounds compilations in the 1990s, but at this point the fwd-thinking duo are mostly forgotten, and in need of re-appraisal. After three decades, "Chaleur Humaine" sounds almost prophetic in its use of sounds, establishing a mood that's as dreamy and pristine as Enya's canonized run, as prismatically awkward as Portland MIDI fanatics Visible Cloaks and as chilling and evocative as Richard Band's schlock horror soundtracks.
UMAN teeter between identifiable pop forms ('UMAN Spirit', 'Entrelacs') and more challenging expressions that draw on experimental and new age concepts, like the lilting 'Mémoire Vive' and Badalamenti-esque 'Aubade'. It's an album that's jam-packed with gorgeous sounds, but seems to refresh itself with each track, skating close to plasticky exotica but never drifting into parody. Looking at it now, it feels as if it translates and pre-empts the shift from DIY rawk and folk sounds into hypnagogic pop and synth modes in the mid-'00s.
The recent obsession with neo-new age forms has resulted in some avoidable lost idols, but 'Chaleur Humaine' is a serious treasure trove of ideas and raw expression that bottles the chaotic analog-to-digital era with no small amount of panache. Anyone who's enjoyed Belgian node STROOM's extraordinary stretch of quirky electro-plated lounge-pop treasures won't wanna miss this.
HTRK mint their new label with a perfectly formed 5th studio album - in our opinion a career best - finding the duo stripped to a quietly cathartic, windswept arrangement of bare vocals rent with spectral webs of guitar and synth in a modern, classic, wholly inimitable style that will lodge itself deep in your heart. AOTY gear especially recommended if yr into anything from Dean Blunt to Mark Hollis, Gillian Welch to Slowdive.
Recorded in their native Dandenong Ranges, Australia earlier this year, ‘Rhinestones' contains some of HTRK's most aching/gratifying songwriting secreted in subtly plangent sheets of dubbed guitar, synth pads and crackling 808s that foge a sort of quasi-Americana that feels both intimately familiar and entirely new. It’s an album that seems to have been precision-tooled for tortured romantics and atomised souls, reverberating with a gentle pathos that’s therapeutic to succumb to.
The metaphysical soul of their songcraft somehow bleeds out more clearly than ever, infusing every song from the heartbreak pucker of ‘Kiss Kiss and Rhinestones’ to the intoxicating, spirit-catcher sway of ‘Gilbert and George’ with the tumescent glow of MDMA-tingled flesh and the uncanniest air of déjà vu. All nine songs land with a level of sound sensitivity that reveals every shimmering string, pad and echoic snare contrail like a halo around Jonnine’s voice, which regales tales of love, friendship and the mysteries of the night with an observant, diaristic directness that has a devastating emotive clout.
In key with the times, the songs feel like the soundtrack to emptied cities, casting gothic shadows in the spellbinding reverbs of ‘Valentina’ and mottled beauty of ’Siren Song,’ with the fragged ketrock of ‘Fast Friend’ imagining a séance with Prince and Anna Domino, while Conrad Standish (CS + Kreme) lends bass guitar gilding to the empty saloon sashay of ‘Real Headfuck,’ and ’Straight To Hell’ basks in a transition between the golden and crepuscular hours. Oh - and 'Sunlight Feels like Bee Stings’ - what a title?!
For real, no other band do it quite like HTRK, and ‘Rhinestones’ feels like their purest iteration, conjured in a mist of feeling, love and inebriation.
Patience is a virtue that Chilean guitarist Cristian Alvear beautifully understands and commands in his reading of Jürg Frey’s quietly demanding 2016 work for Another Timbre
With an opener counting just 8 (if we’re not mistaken) solitary notes spaced across 2 minutes, ‘guitarist, alone’ clearly sets its stall from the outset. As with its conceptual forebear, Frey’s ‘Pianist, Alone’, the 53 track double album typically follows in the footsteps of Frey’s 25 years of composition with a license to luxuriate in lacunæ and take the notion of minimalism to its rarified extremes.
Operating at a geologic scale of events, the results are beautifully contemplative on a number of levels; fundamentally offering the listener acres of room for meditation, but rather than anything Buddhist zen-like, where one is encouraged to think of nowt, the music suggests its recipient follow its lingering cadence, and ponder the relationship between the notes and moods they evoke, which may well lead to unusual patterns of thought.
Aye, we’re not going to go thru the whole thing with you, but we can tell say it’s a beautifully sanguine experience that requires a level of quiet time and space - both increasingly rare commodities for many of us - to really get into it, but you have those to spare, then it’s a real pleasure to let yourself wander its warm, still midnight garden.
On their opulent first outing since 2015, the MVO Trio embrace negative space and dematerialised jazz dynamics for a sterling debut with Modern Recordings (Pat Metheny, Craig Armstrong, Hendrik Weber) and a new lineup that now includes Laurel Halo and German jazz drummer Heinrich Köbberling. V highly tipped if yr into Carl Craig's Innerzone Orchestra or Move D's Conjoint.
Typically rooted in extended, improvised jams, the lissom and grooving results were teased into their final form by Moritz at the mixing desk, where he imbues the playing with an effervescent spatial nuance and deftly spotlights its ear-catching peculiarities as the trio naturlly explore and inhabit the interstices of rolling Afrobeat structures, modal Detroit jazz/beatdown, and airy ECM minimalism.
Picking up in the ether where ‘Sounding Lines’ left off in 2015, the deep presence of erstwhile trio member Tony Allen (RIP) is adroitly channelled by Köbberling’s shuffling stick work, and decorated with blushing organ chords and vibes laid down by Moritz, who finds an ideal foil in Laurel Halo’s electronic gilding. In unison they hold a sublime tension that’s driving but floating, placid yet thizzing with cool energy as they cycle thru harmonically sonorous permutations of a dubwise jazz techno.
From the pointillistic percussion and vapours of the opener, the set arcs low and wide from passages of spiralling organ to swingeing depths, coalescing at the mid-way point with a proper jazz techno vibe recalling Moritz’s early works with Juan Atkins, and traveling to almost 4Hero-esque hi-tech jazz abstraction and back into the pocket with natty rhythms that resolve into proper, heads-up techno.
New music specialists Apartment House render the tremulous glory and ceaseless drive of Eastman’s 1974 classic on their captivating 2019 recording
Following Frozen Reeds’ 2016 release of S.E.M. Ensemble’s 1974 take, and preceding the more recent iteration by Belgium’s ensemble 0 & Aum Grand Ensemble; Apartment House’s ‘Femenine’ is one of the first modern performances and recordings of the seminal, but long overlooked slice of c.20th avant-classical genius. It lands in the wake of Mary Jane Leach’s concerted and longstanding work in tending to Eastman’s legacy, holding some of the most remarkable classical compositions of its epoch, which has necessarily renewed interest in Eastman's sorely overlooked, yet hugely distinctive, work.
As a gay, black composer in a field dominated by white men, Julius Eastman shattered conventions merely by his presence, and his music was daring and distinctive, offering a more fluidly unified and singularly thizzing adjunct to the kind of repetitious minimalism explored by downtown NYC composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Eastman was just as adept at working with Arthur Russell on Dinosaur L’s landmark ‘24→24 Music’ and ‘Another Thought’ set as he was working on Peter Maxwell Davies’ monodrama ‘Eight Songs for a Mad King’ or Meredith Monk’s ‘Dolmen Music’ - all revered in their sphere - yet his own, remarkable compositions went practically unnoticed for decades and he ultimately ended up destitute and unsng, living on the streets of Buffalo, New York State.
Only in recent years has ’Femenine’ become recognised for the towering piece of work that it is, and this recording by Anton Lukoszevieze’s Apartment House helps spread the good word. It renders the full piece in all its colourful majesty, driven by insistent sleigh bell percussion and coursing with the purpose of a great river from streams of cello, flute, keys, vibraphone and violin that entwine and lushly gather with a ravishing torrent of ecstasy by the end of its 67’ flow. In effect it does away with notions of beginning/middle/end in a more cyclical, endless form and style that takes on Reich’s African inspirations at a more fundamental level, yet hasn’t been afforded the same sort of critical ear until only relatively recently. Trust Apartment House to handle the material faithfully and with the hypnotic traction we imagine Eastman intended.
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.
10 years since his debut, Container holds his line of bolshy, distorted machine rhythms for Alter.
Bringing his studio recordings closer than ever to the sound of his cultishly praised live shows, ‘Scramblers’ is as much mucky fun as the nippy motorbikes it’s named after. With the possible addition of some new software or bit of kit that gives this record a really nasty edge, he tears out between the evil revs of the title cut hacking up pure electro-punk havoc with ‘Nozzle’ and jabs like Rian Treanor on PCP with ‘Mottle’ and ‘Queaser’, with he spring-loaded rage of ‘Haircut’ and the scum bucket razz of ‘Duster’ there to clean any meat left on your dancing bones.
‘Morton Feldman Piano’ is a major 5CD collection of virtually all of Feldman’s music for piano, performed by Philip Thomas with a tactility befitting of this extraordinary, quiet, intimate music. It’s the most extensive survey of Feldman’s piano music since John Tilbury’s long unavailable 4-CD set was released 20 years ago, including several pieces which weren’t included there, and three works which have never been released on disc before at all.
Feldman was part of a radical group of experimenters, alongside the likes of John Cage, Christian Wolff and Earle Brown, who looked beyond the strictures of serialism to innovative with and embrace aspects of chance and “indeterminacy” in their compositions. Most often associated with the piano, Feldman is perhaps best known for his perceptively time-slowing later works, but this boxset presents the widest angle possible on his approach to the piano, spanning surprisingly cranky recordings from the 1940s thru to the exquisite delicacy of his acclaimed ‘Triadic Memories’ and ultimately ‘Palais de Mari’ in 1986. Feldman died in 1987, leaving behind a remarkable catalogue that has previously been tackled by John Tilbury in the 4CD set ‘All Piano’ (1999), which is now long out of print and trades for triple figures on the 2nd hand market, making this boxset of Philip Thomas’ Feldman interpretations an even more indispensable collection.
Accompanied by pianist Philip Thomas’ lucubrate and extensive book of notes on Feldman’s music, its development, unique notation, and his close personal relationship with it, ‘Morton Feldman Piano’ methodically and artfully unpackages the great composer’s often forbiddingly vast oeuvre for anyone looking for a way in or seeking to enrich their knowledge of his life and work. In great depth, Thomas writes about Feldman’s holistic approach, recognising the connection between ears, mind, and fingertips which resulted in the music’s quietly extreme dynamic, and which singularly revolutionised historic approaches to the instrument thru the artist’s attempt at refusing attack in the notes - essentially a near-impossible idea when considering that the piano is a percussive instrument, and needs to be hit to be played. The sensitivity of the results are quite astonishing, and most beautifully executed and evidenced in Thomas’ playing throughout all 31 pieces included.
While the later works will be well known to even the casual Feldman follower, and are sure to entrance newcomers, his early and mid-period works between the late ‘40s and into the ‘60s provide a fascinating grounding for his sound and style, ranging from a solemnly inquisitive ‘Untitled piano piece’ (1942) to the almost jazzy flourishes of ‘Illusions’ (1949), thru to his increasingly sparser ‘Music for the film ‘Sculpture by Lipton’’ (1954), and up to the barely there ‘Piano Piece’ (1964) before he took a 13 year hiatus from writing for solo piano (although he would still write parts for piano in larger ensembles), only returning to it with ‘Piano’ (1977).
Yet for all the technicality and philosophy surrounding Feldman’s compositional process, it remains to be said that his music is strikingly easy on the ear. With a little focus and patience in the right mindset, Feldman’s music has the capacity to lead the thinking mind into unusual places, and as his catalogue proceeds, it becomes an increasing pleasure to find the notes flickering, illuminating contrasts with the shadows of his lacunae.
Chock full of humid, resonant soundscapes that bend time and emphasize texture, tone and timbre, Sarah Davachi's latest is her most defining and rewarding full-length to date. We're floored, again - there's nobody else doing it quite like this.
Composed using a Mellotron, electric organ, piano and synthesizers, "Antiphonals" takes all the elements we know and love from Davachi's impressive catalogue to date and refines them into eight tracks of expertly-sculpted deep listening stickiness. If you're familiar with her work, the content won't be surprising, but Davachi's dedication to her craft has resulted in music that feels more and more revelatory each time.
Here, she brings her obsession with the tonal and textural character of early music to the fore, playing confidently with sounds that exist two or three steps from the contemporary sonic spectrum. Her favored outpost is a cocoon of soft-focus resonance, where sounds graze lightly and hypnotize rather than scrape or bruise. It's not background music - this is art that requires attention and understanding to appreciate its layered beauty and subtle complexity.
There are no real standouts or big moments, rather "Antiphonals" is a single long-running excerpt of Davachi's sonic thesis that plays continuously without a defined beginning or a defined end. It's a privilege to spend time in her world, listening to sacred music melt into prog rock and sensual, experimental drone into blurry neoclassical ambience. There are plenty of musicians who attempt to reach this jewelled nirvana, and precious few who get close - Davachi is currently sitting near the center. Breathtaking.
Low's thirteenth album is a brutally overdriven, but slow-as-fuck offering from a band who resolutely refuse to stay still. Unlike 2018's "Double Negative" it's not soft and hyper-electronic, "HEY WHAT" is distorted but achingly beautiful - like church songs banged thru a broken radio and blown speaker cones.
We gotta admit we were pretty surprised when we heard Low's last full-length. The band has always played with perceptions of their influential slowcore sound, but "Double Negative" was a death-defying drop into territory usually inhabited by artists like Andy Stott and Newworldaquarium. "HEY WHAT" subverts expectations again: Low stick with "Double Negative" producer BJ Burton but drive him to hone in on a completely separate aspect of their sound.
Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's dueling vocal harmonics are at the center of the album, spruced up by sparse sonic elements that sound so fucked they're almost completely unrecognizable. Is it guitar, drums, synth? It's hard to tell as chaotic, fractured sounds buzz and break off beneath Parker and Sparhawk's melancholy chorals. Opener 'White Horses' sets the stage, with mic hiss and axe fuzz slowly breaking into stuttering ear-bending electronics.
It's music that feels dangerously experimental, but never loses the magic of Low's idiosyncratic songwriting in the lead clouds of white noise, wobbling subs and ear-splitting fuzz. This time around Low have found a comfort zone making devotional music that forces itself thru our era's deafening cultural cacophony, finding a place of euphoric resonance. It's proof that a band can exist for nearly three decades and still find relevance in change, self-exploration and sonic rehabilitation.
Terre Thaemlitz digs deep into her archive for a dead strong 80 minute CD compilation of all her 'Neu Wuss Fusion’s' releases to date, including adjusted and tweaked versions of classics and hard-to-find gems dating back to ’93, including a remarkable liquid D&B cut and an utterly unmissable take on Tangerine Dream - exclusive to the set.
The overarching vibe here hits even deeper than the recent DJ Sprinkles 'Gayest Tits…' set, hovering between the edge of the floor and a late, late night flex instead of driving club pressure, with a focus on bustling breaks and spellbinding ambient jazz atmospheres.
The material here reaches back to the early ’90s, with the kick-less deep House shimmy of opener ‘Thirty Shades of Grey (Demo Version)’ harking back to their debut solo album ‘Tranquilizer’ (1994), and the ambient jazz house lather of ’Sloppy 42s’ connecting to 1999’s ‘Love For Sale’ album, both elegantly edited here, and shuffled up next to both sides of 1998’s ’She’s Hard,’ in its glorious ambient-to-breakbeat mix and rousing ‘Live At Hug Parade’ take.
The set only gets stronger on its 2nd half. The original 11:30’ mix of ‘A Crippled Left Wing Soars with the Right’ makes a welcome first digital appearance beside a mix of its ‘Steal This Record’ edit omitting the ambient breakdown, while also highlighting its incredible, liquid D&B-like ‘1-Step Forward, 2-Step Back’ version - think Calibre meets MvO Trio - seriously - and, just to absolutely polish us off, they include an e-s-s-e-n-t-i-a-l cover of Tangerine Dream’s ‘Love On A Real Train,’ re-titled and remodelled as their orgasmic ‘Sex On A Real Train’ version alongside the 12 minutes of lush, pastoral flutes and subbass in ‘She’s Hard (2007 Archive of Silence Mix.)
Utterly essential, once again.
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Colin Potter’s legendary ICR host the debut issue of powerful drone improvisations by London’s Jason Barton aka BArTc
Hand-picked and mastered by synth master Potter (NWW) for this release, the 13 tracks of ‘Insubstantial As Ghosts’ evidently share a realm of fascination with Potter’s own work. They are richly textured and immersive tracts of seemingly organically occurring electronics where its composer feels more like a fleshy medium for the circuit boards than the guy in charge of what’s happening.
In waves of thick, viscous tone he seamlessly consolidates raw synth sounds with field recordings, sometimes breaking off into unexpected pockets of inquiry, but more often helming to tunnelling vectors that drag its listeners into properly zonked head spaces with purpose and dread, perhaps best felt in the mighty traction of ‘Energy Field’ and the vertiginous dimensions and thousand yard stare dynamics of ‘Looking Into The Abyss’, recalling to our minds everythign from Potter’s work with Nurse WIth Wound to Giancarlo Toniutti’s grinding hypnagogia.
FUJI||||||||||TA's new album is a time-dilating soundtrack to butoh dancer Kentaro Kujirai's 'Gingan Arahabaki', and might just be his deepest work to date. Watery environmental recordings wash against resonant tones from the Japanese instrument builder's unique DIY pump organ = completely singular, evocative sound to file alongside your Kali Malone, BJ Nilsen and Davachis.
For “Gingan Arahabaki”, Kujirai looked to the life of his writer grandfather and painter father - who died only days after the show's premiere - to develop a performance rooted in memory and identity. Fujita responds by playing slow and careful drones with his custom-built pipe organ, mimicking the body's movement with glassy resonance and evocative tonal variations, overlaying more recognizable sounds to paint a time and place lost between history and perception.
Waves rumble and crash far in the distance on opening track 'Umi', growing closer and gaining clarity as the piece develops. It almost feels as if we're walking through a cave, greeted by the guttoral animal groans of Fujita's pipe organ. On 'Taki', Fujita plays with high-frequency tones like an inverse Sunn O))), and meets these with gentle koto plucks and strums, suggesting a fusion of Japan's past and present. Closing track 'Ibuki' returns to rumbling waves, but this time the organ sounds are harder to place, and eventually lost in the water.
'Arahabaki' is a poetic, theatrical work even without Kujirai's physical accompaniment; anyone who enjoyed last year's "Kōmori" or the artist's stunning run of Bandcamp drops should grab this immediately; it's the opposite of "power ambient" somehow - minimal, unashamedly beautiful drone pieces whose power lies in its context and gestural quality. It's an immersive, revitalizing listening experience.
Venerable minimalist Éliane Radigue continues her ‘Occam Ocean’ adventures at the threshold of perception on a third volume in collaboration with string trio Julia Eckhardt, Silvia Tarozzi and Deborah Walker
Performed and recorded in September, 2019 at the Abbazia di Santa Maria Assunta, Bologna, Italy, the 3rd volume of ‘Occam Ocean’ features the pioneering French composer’s radical thoughts on time, tone and timbre carefully manifest thru the trio’s fingers and strings in the model of preceding volumes, also for France’s Shiiin label. Incredibly patient in its sustained drones and incremental developments, the results return an experience that really only comes with Radigue’s work, among a few others, holding the ability to generate moments of revelatory epiphany from the subtlest alterations.
Where previous ‘Occam Ocean’ instalments fielded a mix of solo and duo works (Occam Ocean 1) and a broad orchestra (Occam Ocean 2), this one is perhaps most focussed in its triumvirate of works written for solo, duo and trio configurations of Julia Eckhardt (Viola), Silvia Tarozzi (Violin) and Deborah Walker (Violoncello). The first, for Tarozzi and Walker resonates with an intense immanence as the Violin’s icy high register is underlined by glyding lower end Violoncello contours, creating a unique weather system of mid-air dissonance, which makes Walker’s lone performance on ‘Occam VIII’ only appear hauntingly nude by contrast.
When all three players converge at ‘Occam Delta III’ they create a more sublime tension, adhering the composer’s instructions to follow a razor fine line between microtonal frequencies and making the piece’s technical challenges feel effortlessly natural, really honing in on tones that resonate the pharynx and get up in your head quite unlike anything else.
Very canny breakthru debut album from John Glacier, expressing her East London soul with executive production by LA-based Vegyn - a strong look for fans of Coby Sey, Tirzah, Mica Levi, Dean Blunt
‘SHILOH: Lost For Words’ frames Glacier’s singular sort of punk poet rap in 12 concise cuts that lay out her sound at the fringes of electronica, indie-pop and rap, proper. A remarkably diverse but collected whole, the album’s variegation owes to its plethora of like-minded producers - Vegyn, Holly, Psychedelic Ensemble and Tn_490 - who keep the ground shifting woozy and curious at Glacier’s feet, underlining droll lyrics about her hopes and dreams with suitably hazy, suggestive beats, at best in the over-compressed Dean Blunt styles of ‘If Anything,’ the sweetly skewed soul of ‘Trelawny Waters,’ and must-check highlights on the crystalline rap of ‘Boozy’ and the screwed jungle blues hymnal ‘Some Other Thing.’
“John Glacier says she chose her stage name because she's "icy". But, like her pitch-shifted vocal and deadpan stare, that dissembling coldness is shattered by the blistering reality of her lyrics. Everything she writes, in her punk-poet electronic pop songs, is viscerally vulnerable. Her debut album, produced with fellow London-born, LA-based producer Vegyn, is what she calls a "selfish" record, documenting "how I feel, what I'm going through, and where I want to go in my life." But like everything John touches, even this answer shapeshifts, revealing itself to be something unexpected by the time she's finished speaking. SHILOH is a document of healing and evolution that John created over the course of a year. Each track is a reflection of a moment, captured fleetingly, showcasing a different face of John Glacier. "The songs are all completely different spaces," she notes, but the common theme of the album is reflection, and processing – like chipping away at ice.”
Nomadic drum outlaw Stefan Schwander hitches his wagon to Bureau B again for a strong follow-up to the streamlined contours of ‘Plong’
For over ten years Harmonious Thelonious has ploughed a singular, strident path thru a plethora of outernational percussive styles, distilled into his own groove. With ‘Instrumentals’ he follows the subtle readjustments of 2020’s mesmerising ‘Plong’ album with a greater focus on effortlessly rolling structures, consolidating a world of influence from Pan African, South American, Antipodean and Middle Eastern percussive styles with a proper, fine-tuned sort of minimalist, motorik German suss rooted in the perpetual electronic drive of his native Düsseldorf.
Oblivious to trend, the eight supple fusions drums and widescreen flatland atmospheres are a very canny exercise in rhythmic world building, articulated in a drum language bound to be understood by moving bodies. With no tricks or stunts, or less gritty textures than early works, the tracks flow with a glistening quality, unfolding in nuanced permutations of sultry, tango-like elegance on ‘Beiläufige Muziek’, or knitting thumb piano-like rhythmelodies and pealing horns into swingeing syncopation on ‘Halb Ding’ and ‘Apakapa’, while saving a massive highlight for the heads down and shoulder bouncing ‘Yusuf’, which appears to imagine an elision of indigenous Australian and Kurdish Dabke reference points to our ears.
Inimitably eclectic figure Richard Youngs effectively sings thru his Spanish guitar strings upon return to Richo’s Fourth Dimension Records
‘Iker’, pronounced “eeker” and translating from Basque as ‘Visitation’, showcases Youngs’ lyrical solo guitar prowess at its stripped down best in a vein of practice shared by John Fahey and Sir Richard Bishop. It’s the most serene of his sides for the label, and absorbingly porous to his environment, very subtly incorporating street sounds and bird song, tape loops and synth that enliven the spare, afternoon air of the recordings and lend extra nuance for attentive listeners to lose themselves in, before becoming more noticeably foreground in the final part..
Hungarian mystic Hortobágyi graces avant classical titan ECM in trio with his Hortogonals, György Kurtág Jr. and Miklós Lengyelfi for an exquisite elision of deep space and spectralist musicks with remarkable runs into dub techno, for all intents and purposes like some stray ~scape or MVO Trio wonder
Originally issued beyond our peripheral vision in 2009, the trio’s only release to date plugs a hole in our collections that we didn’t even realise existed until recently. Their ‘Kurtágonals’ form a lattice like bridge between disciplines and worlds, discretely weaving formerly exclusive bedfellows into a richly imaginative soundsphere fizzing with influence from Romanian spectralist traditions and Hortobágyi’s worldly research of alternate tunings and modes, as much as the deepest German dub techno abstractions. It’s a totally unexpected but entirely welcome direction of exploration to our ears, seemingly manifesting an idea that we’d wager many of us have longed for, but never heard executed quite so well.
‘Kurtágonals’ is released by Manfred Eicher’s legendary ECM label, highly regarded for their production values, and as such patently benefits from an opulent sound staging, with Hortobágyi assisted in the August 2008 recording and engineering by Ferenc Haász at the Guo Manor, Budapest. Between them they conjure an unfathomably wide and vertiginous soundfield strafed by acéphalic chorales and sliding electronic pitches, and arced with resonant string harmonics, but really given depth by its ultra subtle layers of distant dub chords and padded subbass ballast, both of which we never really expected to hear on an ECM recording, and especially in this sort of seamless, playthru arrangement resembling a dream mixtape.
We could offer any number of add n to x allegories for this sound, but they’d all fall short of the stylistically transcendent end product. It’s simply extraordinary stuff that needs to experienced in highest possible fidelity and with good speakers to reveal its spellbinding nuance.
Dntel returns with a collection of 10 pop-infused vocal hymns. "Away" is the second of two Dntel albums to be released in 2021 by Morr Music in collaboration with Les Albums Claus.
"Jimmy Tamborello AKA Dntel is a musician who changed pop music forever – and still works in this never-ending labour of love, both effortless and highly focused, constantly tweaking the universe of our musical perception. Whether beatless or uncompromisingly embracing the limelight of collective ecstasy with one of his most remembered tunes "(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan", his almost forgotten anthem "Don’t Get Your Hopes Up" or his work as James Figurine. "Away" features 10 of these extravaganzas – uniting his audience once more in hope and future-bound optimism.
"I grew up with 80s techno-pop – these influences always come through in my music", Jimmy writes from Los Angeles. For this album, though, "I was thinking more of 80s indie pop or labels like 4AD. It is a mix of those influences along with trying to figure out what elements of my own discography I still connect with. I wanted it to reflect old Dntel records as well as the techno-pop band Figurine I used to be in. I have always considered my music basically being techno-pop, but not referring to pop as popular music – I just like pretty melodies. But with the Dntel moniker, I never had the ambition to produce music for a really big audience.”
It is exactly that looseness in approaching music which makes Tamborello’s style of composing so unique. On "Away" he combines a healthy dose of distortion with the most-sticking melodies, vocals and bitter-sweet lyrics he ever came up with – performing all vocals himself, with the help of technology. "My voice has a limited range. When I applied this vocal processing it seemed to bring out the emotions more. I don’t see it as the same as the more artificial, autotuned style of modern pop music. I think it still sounds like it could be a real person singing, just not me."
Using this technique, Dntel disembodies himself from his own art, welcoming all kinds of interpretations re. his current state as an artist. "Somehow this processed voice feels closer to how I see myself than my normal voice, for better or worse…", he writes. Pop music is a fragile entity, making its kingpins vulnerable. Many emotions reveal a lot of the originator’s personality –this is something one has to be prepared for. On "Away", Jimmy Tamborello finds the perfect way of marrying his unique musical personality with both the demands and possibilities of pop music. Just listen to "Connect" and you’ll know what we’re talking about. A perfect, yet timeless album for less than perfect times."
This collection of damaged subsonic headmelters was originally released back in 2001 under the CTI moniker, and used Carter's 1970s and '80s Throbbing Gristle rhythm tapes to inspire industrial vignettes that have been used on countless installations, TV ads and Hollywood movie trailers since. Still so far ahead of the game - frozen ambient void soundtrax.
This second collection of ambient reworks takes his pioneering Throbbing Gristle sounds into a sub-aquatic cave of watery textures, rumbling sheet subs and chattering alien echoes. It's not drone material by any means - Carter retains the rhythmic push of his TG beat tapes, but flexes them in dilated time, reminding of Thomas Köner or Kevin Drumm.
Tracks don't so much play from beginning to end as twist thru the perceived audio field like weightless blunt smoke diving between hi-frequency whirrs and lo-end growls. It's music that can pretty much only be enjoyed on a decent set of speakers or headphones - the original release read "not mono compatible" and "contains sub-sonics and resonant frequencies which lower specified audio apparatus may find difficult to faithfully reproduce".
But if you're in possession of a half-decent setup you're in for a treat. There are few artists who possess Carter's wizardry working in this mode. As a pioneer he changed the game, but he also rarely repeatshimself. Billed as "ambient remixes", these eerie versions are several steps removed from the cloying ambient music that clogs up playlists and soundtracks. Carter's take on the genre exists in negative space and hinges on dub flavor, hypnotic texture and pure sonic confusion. It's next level shit, from beginning to end.
‘Yellow’ is the life-giving debut album opus from pivotal London jazz player and band leader Emma-Jean Thackray, channelling sacred strains of everyone from Sun Ra to Alice Coltrane and even Funkadelic
Cementing a solid reputation as a catalyst of London’s jazzy groundswell in recent years, Thackray gathers a crack squad of the city’s finest for 14 variegated tracks deeply informed by ‘70s jazz fusion, but just as prone to veer off on cosmic or P-funk tangents. Recorded over the past 12 months of strife, ‘Yellow’ ultimately conveys a message of positivity thru classically schooled means, drawing upon examples of high black art, and effectively where they came from, to offer a whole vibe for those in need.
Hailed by the label as “exactly like the sort of thing we’ve been longing for over the last 12 months: a transcendent, human, shared experience” we’re inclined to agree; ‘Yellow’ is just the ticket to clear the murk with its cloud busting bursts of harmonic colour, plush vocals and elastic bounce. We advise checking for the effervescent bustle of ‘Third Eye’ at its core for a proper spirit lifter, and looking out for Sun Ra-esque gems in the cosmic beauty of album opener ‘Mercury,’ while dancers will be charmed by the bubbling takers of ‘Venus’ and the swingeing rug-cutters ‘Rahu & Ketu’ or ‘Our People.’
Finders Keepers' 3rd volume of Ilaiyaraaja tunes offers a bounty of south subcontinental '80s electro-disco-pop. While their previous collections have homed in on his work with the "Tamil Nightingale", K.S. Chitra, and "The Electronic Pop Sound Of Kollywood 1977-1983", this one follows in the same vein as Bombay Connection's excellent 'Fire Star: Synth Pop & Electro-Funk From Tamil Films 1984-1989' or Cartilage Records' amazing 'Play That Bat Mr. Raja' compilations with 17 songs selected for their dancefloor potential.
Drawn from a collection of over 4500 (and counting) songs mostly written for original soundtracks hardly known outside of his home region, 'Ilectro' follows up Raja's appearance in the Olympics opening ceremony of 2012 with a techno-coloured burst of sonic joy bound to thrill with its crammed arranegments and highly idiosyncratic application of early DX7 synths and cut-up drum machine patterns to traditional raga-style melodies and typically emoting vocals. To this extent his music can be likened with Charanjit Singh's acidic ragas or even the electronic orientations of early adopter Ilhan Mimaroglu in Turkey. Yet, ultimately, as you'll hear, this music is in a league of its own, augmenting Western pop ideas and electronics with a unique accent individual to gayaki style Carnatic music and the bombastic emotion of Kollywood cinema.
Charming expo of mbira music from Zimbabwe, 1983, charting its symbolism during early years of the country’s independence and as a means of contacting the spirit world
Showcasing the playing of Ephat Mujuru, the descendent of a respected spirit medium and master of the mbira dzavadzimu - “a handheld lamellophone used in Shona region to make contact and receive council from deceased ancestors” - the four pieces on ‘Mbavaira’ document Ephat working with a newly formed band, The Spirit of the People on their 2nd album of acoustic mbira music.
While named for the Shona for something like “chaos”, the album was intended to foster unity between Zimbabwe’s two dominant ethnic groups, the Shona and the Ndebele, and arrived on the country’s only label Gramma Records as one of few commercially issued mbira recordings at the time, and was practically received as a pop record, an immediate quality that it carries thru into 2021.
Ephat tragically died from a heart attack at Heathrow Airport in 2001, aged 51, en route to perform and teach in the US, and ‘Mbavaira’ is a lovely testament to his legacy, flowing free with four tracks of complex rhythmelodic colour and soulful vocals by his uncle Mude, sweepign from he lilting dealign music of the title track to the trad hunting song ‘Nyama Musango’ (Meat in the Forest) via the swingeing hustle of ‘Kuenda Mbire’ *Going to Mbire) and the more brooding tone of ‘Mudande’, named for a remote northern village in Zimbabwe.
'Perfect Vision' is another defiant set from enduring D.C.-based blues-rock guitarist and songwriter Thalia Zedek. Her dissenting voice has never sounded clearer than right here, on an album finished only moments before the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Zedek has been challenging the system of control since 1980, and her latest doesn't break the tension for a second. Her last album "Fighting Season" was about resistance as tension grew across the USA; "Perfect Vision" is focused on the search for clarity as the world languishes in isolation.
It shouldn't surprise any regular listeners that the album is toothy, serrated and to-the-point. Zedek's overdriven blues rock is accurately in-key with current malaise, and her voice - booming and incisive - sounds poignant, sober and prophetic.