The Works of John B. McLemore, the star of one of last years biggest podcasts, S-Town, which is coming out on Dais. The story behind this release is truly fascinating.. the music itself is ambient remixes of Tor Lundvall's best works, but with John's idiosyncratic slant on them, with some having been woven together using the horde of clocks he use to keep in his basement. This story is really worth a read if you get a chance.
"In September 2012, I received an e-mail from someone named John B. who said he had assembled a lengthy remix of my music, which also incorporated some of his own material. John asked if I'd mind if he posted this recording on YouTube, to which I agreed. He also mentioned that there was a second part to his mix that was "roughed out", but never completed. I was curious to hear both parts, so shortly afterwards, John mailed me two CDrs which I enjoyed very much. The recordings were hypnotic and haunting, evoking images of vast fields at twilight. I was especially fond of the second disc which had a darker atmosphere and featured more of John's original material, beginning with ghostly clock chimes and ending with a mysterious piece using dried seed pods and other cryptic sounds that slowly built-up into an intense, almost claustrophobic environment.
My correspondence with John lasted about two months. In one of his final e-mails, John said "I have to observe that your paintings seem to have a great deal of loneliness involved in them... even multiple characters seem to be together alone, so to speak... I really appreciate looking at your paintings as well as your music, I think I have connected with the spirit of them both as much as anyone can." He went on to discuss his struggles with depression, caring for his aging mom and his concerns about the future. I tried to encourage his music as a possible outlet, perhaps as a means to help transform his feelings of loneliness into a more content solitude. Always easy to say, but as I well know, not always easy to do.
In his last e-mail in late October 2012, John sent me a beautiful slideshow of his Fall flower beds and his dogs. I was touched and I told him how much watching his video had brightened my day. That was the last time I heard from him.
Last year, I visited John's YouTube channel to see if Part One of his mix was still posted, which it was, and still remains. I was shocked and saddened to read in the comments section that he had passed away. The comments also suggested that John had received some sort of national attention recently. This quickly led me to the S-Town podcast. Although I had mixed reactions after listening, I was thankful that S-Town shed more light on John and his remarkable life... but somehow, I just couldn't place the person in the podcast with the person I had corresponded with. Had I not listened to S-Town, I would have remembered John as a very private, somewhat dark and lonely person. He may have been these things, but there was obviously far more to him than that.
After finishing the final episode, I decided to play the second, unreleased CDr of John's recordings for the first time in years. Listening to his clock chimes ringing in the dark was an eerie and chilling moment. I was reminded of a line from my song "29" which says "I live with dreams and a lonely mind, my clock is set to a different time". I wondered what those lyrics might have meant to him.
John had mentioned that he wasn't satisfied with his final mix, but I felt his work was too special not to be heard. I hope that these recordings offer another glimpse into the creative mind of a unique, complex and gifted individual who tragically left this world all too early."
January 17th, 2018
The Co-Ho people are an ethnic group living in the southern part of the central highlands of Vietnam. They speak a Mon-Khmer language.
"Co-Ho are animists who make a division between two types of supernatural spirits: the first type, with human characteristics, is called "Yang" - these are gods which are worshipped during ceremonies and important rituals to prevent bad luck, which is represented by the second type of spirits, called "Cha" = devils. The music of Co-Ho people serves different rituals and thus there are different styles of gong music, played on both flat and knobbed gongs.
Usually an ensemble consists of six gongs. On this recording, the number of gongs ranges from 2 to 6. On the occasions where music is performed in duo , a small ritual is conducted as a means to show respect to ancestors. If one of the gong players is unable to follow the other one, the player who fails to follow needs to drink rice wine from the vase. For this album, two locations for 2 groups in total were visited. "
Bonny sings Susanna, to simply try and save the world.
"Sonata Dwarf Mix Cosmos is an old companion of his and with the Chijimi house band +1 they bring it all back home again, this time to the space in Bonny’s place.
“As other practitioners are leaving the room in favor of novel forms of recording and distro and consumption, PALACE, fantastical and real
structures and practices. Like we are allowed into the museum at night. We can make a great essentially live record with great songs and great players because nobody else is? ‘Wolf Of The Cosmos’... is about, as much as anything, direct engagement with recorded music. So step right up to the replicant.” -
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is joined by musicians Emmet Kelly (bass guitar, voice, acoustic guitar), Cheyenne Mize (violin, slide ukulele, voice), Chris Rodahaffer (banjo, voice, acoustic guitar) and Elsa Madeline Oldham (juice harp)."
The Ede groups live mainly in Tay Nguyen, the central highlands of Vietnam. Gongs are one of the most valuable instruments for Ede people. Each player strokes the back or front of the flat gong by a wooden stick aggressively, to create unique rhythmic patterns.
"However, for this recording, Bamboo instruments such as Cing Kram are played by bamboo-made mallets/sticks. For Ede people, they usually practice with the Cing Kram first, before they play the gong - a sacred symbol and instrument. So, these bamboo instruments are used for their practices and they literally call it as “bamboo-gongs.”
Another fascinating instalment in the history of Jewish recorded music, this time drawn from the Syrena — ‘Mermaid’— record label of Warsaw, when the city in its gloriously diverse, cultural heyday was known as ‘the Paris of the East’, before the devastation of the 1940s
Precious, thrilling 78s thronged with people arguing, soldiering, going bankrupt, praying, dancing to Klezmer, meeting the devil, failing to have sex, complaining about modern girls… and eating. With an informative, richly illustrated, twenty-eight-page booklet.
The Bahnar are an ethnic group in Vietnam, living from the north to the south and northeast of the Vietnamese central highlands. Bahnar speak a language in the Mon-Khmer language group. These recordings were conducted in Dak Doa, Gia Lai Province.
"Bahnar people use both knobbed gongs and flat gongs; knobbed gongs mostly have a rhythmic function, the flat gongs are used for melodies. Usually a gong ensemble comprises 8 or 9 gongs in total (6 flat gongs and 2 or 3 knobbed gongs), but the number of gongs can go up to 20 (10 flat gongs, 10 knobbed gongs) or even 22 (11 flat and 11 knobbed).
For this recording, the musicians brought different sorts of sharpened twigs as drumsticks. the biggest knobbed gong was played with a jackfruits twig. For Bahnar people, gongs - equivalent in value to several water buffaloes - are acquired through exchanges with the people from Laos, Cambodia and with Kinh groups of Vietnam.
Gong music is commonly played among the Bahnar on particular occasions such as harvesting, funerals, buffalo sacrifice, wedding ceremonies, etc."
This recording consists of the music played by the only the female group of Ede (Ede-bih – subgroup of original Ede). They only play the gong on special occasions such as festivals, funerals, and welcoming guests.
This is absolutely belter: a genuinely never-before-heard collection of punk-funk oddballs by Stretchmarks, the short-lived but dead good Manchester band fronted by Matt Wand and Rex Casswell of plunderphonic pioneers Stock, Hausen & Walkman and fuelled by a rhythm section with previous form for both Nico and Blue Orchids. It’s the kinda stuff Manc-y wet dreams are made of - funky as f*ck, feral and devilishly effective, and totally set to light up a lot of grins on those familiar with Mancunia c.1989-1991 as much as classic Material, Pere Ubu, ACR, ESG.
Pulled together from live recordings of shows at The Millstone, basement sessions down in Withington, and from various rehearsal sessions in rooms across the city, The Stretch m-ARKhives contains the best of this bunch’s efforts during the period that everyone putatively associates with baggy kids and ecstasy pipes. Basically, Stretchmarks were a sort of antithesis to what they called “the ‘baggy plague”, and it’s fair to say with hindsight that their live-wire mix of funk chops, punkish vocals and electronic blatz succeeded in creating an excellent alternative to the usual suspects. Only thing was, at the time, only a few people gave a flying fxck about Stretchmarks and they never made a proper record to prove their anti-thesis.
Fast forward nearly 30 years to now, and, by all rights, Stretchmarks should find their audience in a scene that’s been primed to tell wave goods from wave bads after a decade absorbing YouTube rips, blog posts and a deluge of reissues. Hence it should be easy to detect their flashes of devious genius inside, from the mad mix of upclose whisper and distant holler on the roiling Puddle Of Love, thru to the nipped Afrobeat-punk meter of All The Same, the free jazz mind splash of No Way, and the helpless madness of Let’s Get Weird with its bestial grunts and instantly memorable lyrics intoning “let’s get weird/you and me/in my kidney shaped swimming pooooool.”
Ultimately, The Stretch m-ARKhives is yet another example of how history always favours the winners, in this case The Cranky Tuesdays and The Bony Losers, at the expense of the interesting crud that happened beyond the sight of scenesters and there mainstream, of which this LP is a perfect example.
Christina Vantzou follows her role in the superb CV & JAB album for Shelter Press with the starkly haunting No.4 in her chrono-numeric series of albums for Kranky.
Her JAB foil, John Also Bennett (Forma) also assists on this one, as do Angel Deradoorian, and members of Belgium’s Echo Collective, all sensitively incorporated into her signature dimension of smoky dream sequence logic and texturally rich electro-acoustic timbres. A strong look for lovers of Angelo Badalamenti & David Lynch soundtracks, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Global Communication - in other words: night time music.
“Belgium-based composer Christina Vantzou’s fourth full-length for Kranky ventures further into the uniquely elusive and evocative mode of ambient classical minimalism which has become her signature: a fragile synthesis of contemplative drift, heady silences, and muted dissonance. In regards to the new album she speaks of focusing particular attention on the effects of the recordings on the body, and of “directing sound perception into an inner space.”
No. 4 took shape across roughly two years, incorporating a diverse array of musical and conceptual collaborators, including fellow Kranky artists Steve Hauschildt and John Also Bennett (of Forma) as well as Angel Deradoorian (ex-Dirty Projectors), Clarice Jensen, Beatrijs De Klerck, and members of Belgium’s Echo Collective. During the creation process Vantzou wanted to “blur lines of hierarchy,” and thus allowed all ensemble members and technical assistants to add or delete elements. Despite such a spectrum of input the eleven tracks feel distinctly cohesive, weaving elegant textures and resonant open spaces within a twilit landscape of eclectic instrumentation: piano, harp, vibraphone, voice, strings, marimba, synthesizers, gong, and bells.
Vantzou describes the recording process as one of prepared spontaneity: that is, “having plenty of ideas ready to explore going into the session, but with enough time to depart from those ideas and see what happens.” This mindset of premeditated exploration informs the album’s emotive textural intuition, with hushed drones and delicate gestures eliding in the periphery of the mix. She cites sleep and “the loosening of time” as two formative practices in her private and professional life, which manifests in the quietly hallucinatory properties of Vantzou’s music. No. 4 feels both endless and ephemeral, immersive and immaterial. It’s a music of horizon lines and half-light, mapped with feeling and foresight.”
Dense, darkly cinematic drone works from Tehran via Newcastle
"I remember being 6 years old, locked in a closet and screaming and beating on the door until I couldn't feel my hands. I think it's because I didn't want to finish my mashed potatoes.
I remember feeling his rough, dry, red hands all over me. Moving down the length of me in the middle of the night. Putting himself inside of me. Telling me the same thing happened to him when he was my age. I knew crying didn't work. It didn't work all of the other times. I stopped after a while.
It was us in that house for years and then I was gone and I didn't see him again until I was a teenager. After that my mom found out what happened and we sealed off that part of our lives.
We got the news that he'd died alone in that house. It was 3 weeks before anyone found him. There's still a part of me in there with him that I'll never get back.
I've explored this on a few other albums but never in this depth. I didn't feel like I was a good enough writer to tackle something like that. I don't know if I am now but every road led me here. With Siavash's haunting music and never-ending friendship I felt like I could make this journey.
- Matt Finney”
These songs originate from the city of Sanaa, the sheikdom of Lahej and the port of Aden.
"This record contains oudh playing, percussion and singing from Yemen. The three Kawkabani brothers sing traditional poems and play oudh (lute), double drums, tambourine and, occasionally, the kanoun (zither). They were recorded in Sanaa in 1973. The oudh player Hassan al Zabeede and his double drum playing brother sing songs in the Lahej style and were recorded in Taez in 1973."
‘Challenge Me Foolish’ is an almost lost album of µ-Ziq material circa 1998-99, an era that saw Mike Paradinas release ‘Royal Astronomy’ on the now defunct Virgin subsidiary Hut records, and also tour with Björk.
"It’s an era of his music that’s definitely worth re-exploring, in which Mike went against the grain by producing music that was baroque, melodic and whimsical, while the IDM movement he was lumped with made instrumental music that was often neurotic and complicated. His taste for melody and dreamy beauty above roughness and intricacy confused people who were hanging on too tightly to the rules. He even brought in Japanese vocalist Kazumi, adding an extra human touch.
‘Challenge Me Foolish’ is something of a companion to the Royal Astronomy record; arguably even better given the fresh ears selecting the material. It’s imbued with a confident sense of pastoral colour, and a gentle optimism, utilising bells, studied orchestral arrangements and airy synthesisers that sit the album somewhere between, Jean Jacques Perrey (the French electronic composer whose whimsy was always balanced with serious innovation and chops) and the colourful, optimistic soundtracks of Joe Hisaishi. There’s a strange sense of the old and new throughout, the sentimental and utopia, with nary a hint of darkness. Even when the album dips into the hyperkinetic rhythms of jungle, the melodies and mood still retain a sense of gentle warmth. Dive into peak time Paradinas."
Minimal techno boss Phillip Sollman cues up a smart 22-track DJ mix
Features cuts from his Efdemin alias, Pom Pom, Margaret Dygas, Inland, Steve Bicknell, Konrad Sprenger and many more for Curle, following from last year’s experimental excursion Gegen Die Zeit for Dial’s Sky Walking label.
Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner return with their most inventive album to date, Dimensional People.
"The new album finds the Berlin-based duo reunited with Thrill Jockey, a powerful aesthetic partnership marked by such seminal albums as Radical Connector (2004), Idiology (2001), and Niun Niggung (2000). After a series of notorious dance floor releases, Dimensional People reveals them working deep within their own vernacular, digging into fertile terrain of their inexhaustible vault of digital and acoustic experimentation, and charismatically making elemental components new again. This album makes clear how their craft is of discovery, of finding new contexts for places, sounds, memories, sensations, ambiences, technologies, relationships, and of course, people.
A number of prolific guests joined the production: Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Zach Condon (Beirut), Spank Rock, Aaron and Bryce Dessner (The National), Swamp Dogg, Eric D. Clarke, Lisa Hannigan, Amanda Blank, Sam Amidon, Ensemble Musikfabrik, and about 20 more musical collaborators. The cast of characters are as unique as they are vast, clearly a rich quarry for the prodigious duo.
Dimensional People, initially titled new konstruktivist socialism, gives each participating guest a platform to imprint the album as whoever or whatever they want to be: a narrator, a perfect moment, a jam, an ensemble member, an abstract sound, a multiple persona, a mood, a soloist. Originally premiering as a spatial composition using object-based mixing technology playing with the possibilities of sonic design and collective musicianship, the recording expands upon these ideas. Dimensional People expresses itself as a dynamic 50-piece orchestra, telling a story in sound. Each player is a multifaceted character, the recording an imagined stage, and the production is direction, lighting, and setting changes. Mouse on Mars offer sound as a means to encourage open-minded societies, aided by cutting-edge technology including their own MoMinstruments music software or a spatial mixing technique called object based mixing, with which a spatial version of the work was created. It is a conceptual puzzle composed around one harmonic spectrum within one rhythmic scheme, mostly in the tempo of 145bpm (inspired by Chicago footwork, so the dance floor is not entirely absent). Looking ahead, Dimensional People will also be realized through installation, presenting the work as an immersive listening experience, as well as performance.”
Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. “Taking in the forest atmosphere” became the inspiration for A Hawk and A Hacksaw’s newest album.
"Their forest bath of choice is the Valle De Oro National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. This new album features ten original compositions by Heather Trost and Jeremy Barnes. The opening track “Alexandria” features Barnes on the Persian Santur, an ancient hammer struck dulcimer, and Trost’s string and woodwind melodies. The composition evokes the long trader’s route between what is now Bulgaria and the wealthy cities of Istanbul and Alexandria. The band has always had a bird’s eye view of this part the world— looking for the connections between places and even eras: a belief in the power of music to reach across borders and unite. The band is based on the idea of collecting music and inspiration through travel.
They are not of a place, but their music evokes places along a route. This is not urban music. It’s rural: songs of the woods and roads where there are no sidewalks or street lamps to light your way. While the bulk of the music heard on this record is played by Barnes and Trost, they do have some incredible guest performances, namely the clarinet virtouso Cüneyt Sepetçi, from Istanbul, Hungarian cimbalom master Unger Balász, and closer to home, Chicago trumpeter Sam Johnson, Deerhoof’s John Dieterich and Noah Martinez, of the band Lone Piñon."
Opal Tapes wrest an unusually emotive suite of studies in alternate tunings from Bálint Szabó (12z) in succession with their Leaper  release and his previous work for Nico Jaar’s Other People. Think Arthur Russell’s Tower Of Meaning unravelled and riddled by Ashley Paul and NYZ. It’s arrestingly impressive stuff
“It is profoundly moving and as compelling as anything you’ll find around at the moment." (Brian Morton - The Wire Magazine)
Following his widely-acclaimed record Leaper, Gosheven leaps again and continues the never ending quest he started, to share the hidden treasures of alternate tunings. Bivaq is a natural continuation of Leaper: it is still an utterly personal record that places vulnerability in the heart of the things while it shares end-of-the-world spirits and creates unusual atmospheres of parallel universes. It is an imaginary shelter where one can feel comfortable, far from the maelstrom of the outside world, and can take a rest, collect the intuitive and creative powers while gazing at the Earth.
Almost half of the tunes were triggered by the extensive work with a group of contemporary dancers-choreographers and later became the score of the group's still running performance "Deeper". Not surprisingly the music served as an essential part of this ungraspable visionary work.”
Keith Kenniff’s output as Goldmund has established him as one of the preeminent composers of minimal piano-based ambient music alongside peers like Hauschka, Dustin O’Halloran, and even Ryuichi Sakamoto, who himself once described Kenniff’s work as “so, so, so beautiful”.
"Hyperbolic as it may sound, Goldmund’s newest collection Occasus may be his most exquisite yet. Where his previous recordings trod faithfully and sincerely on paths of dimly lit, polaroid-esque nostalgia, Occasus deepens the undeniable aesthetic that was hard-won over eight previous Goldmund albums, while expanding the palette to include desultory clouds of synthesizer and a tastefully distressed analog sheen.
The word Occasus means downfall, end, or the rising and falling of heavenly bodies. The title is apt in more ways than one: while the emotional tone of the album denotes bittersweet feelings of conclusiveness, it also perfectly soundtracks the quiet moments when we look up to the sky, and humbly relearn the smallness of our lives as cosmic objects churn slowly overhead with bewitching indifference. Occasus feels deeply personal, private, and hushed yet simultaneously grand, colossal, and profound. Remarkably Kenniff is able to capture micro and macro with equal fidelity.
Tangential to prior Goldmund material, there are a few moments of Occasus that feel dark and menacing like “No Story” and “Thread”, both of which broach urgent paranoia, and provide a refreshing counterweight to the idyll typical of the project. Kenniff’s music has always been unquestionably gorgeous, but seeing it set against an occasionally manic backdrop makes the moments of light shine that much brighter. Even when elements of Occasus play by the rules harmonically, they tend to unfold with a satisfying level of rhythmical disregard. “I like mistakes, I like when things don't go perfectly,” says Kenniff of his wabi-sabi ethos, “I do have a tendency to want for things to be perfect and precise, but I have to also realize that a lot of things I like about music and art are very rough and impulsive, the slight imperfections that give something or someone a unique voice.”
To that end there are few artistic voices as distinct as Goldmund’s. Using only a few simple ingredients (piano, synthesizer, reverb, and a little more) Kenniff’s sound has become so universal that you'd be forgiven for not knowing who it belongs to. Knock offs be damned, every Goldmund recording is cut from an inimitable fabric woven out of emotional intelligence, honesty, vivid imagination, and skillful restraint. Occasus is another strong chapter in an ever more gratifying catalog.”
Cult noise alchemists Skin Crime leave a fresh mark on Hospital Productions with 'Ghosts I Have Been,' following the label’s 20CD boxset release Case Studies In Early Taxidermy . Emerging at a fecund juncture in the Hospital Productions’ catalogue, Skin Crime’s latest miasmic pall serves a disciplined and elemental definition of ‘noise’ dynamics at their abstract, affective and invasively visceral best.
“Ghosts I Have Been is the first album from the supreme atmospheric noise band Skin Crime since their colossal 20-CD box set collection on Hospital Productions in 2015. Anyone who attended the Hospital Productions 20 Years Festival in New York City and saw Skin Crime perform their first live show in nearly 15 years will understand the deep masterful balance of tension, texture, and dynamism that has been the signature since the early '90s of this cult and collectible project. A defining characteristic is the fact that Skin Crime is a band with multiple members which brings live space and intricacy to a genre otherwise isolated to the confines of stagnation.
Ghosts I Have Been exhibits the usual mix of concrete sounds with raw electric noise slowly and seamlessly building into crescendo. Unlike the early obsession with various forms of butchery, Ghosts I Have Been shows the darker more austere side of the subject matter of decay, small rural towns, an antique shop with an uncanny selection of dusty old books of stories you might rather not know about, or an old library which seems eager to open its doors to readers but reluctant to open them.”
Berlin-based Tobias Lisius débuts his fearsome Liziuz alias with this bleak AF 2 hour invocation of ambient techno noise for his neighbourhood cranks at Hospital Productions.
On Disc 1’s Interaction Personelle (Ambient Version) he pursues an elusive mixture of industrial and kosmische ambient techno themes in a seamless, viscous roil of ideas, easy on the distortion but full of scurrying detail and noxious space. Disc 2 yields a farther 50 odd minutes of material that skulks around the idea of techno as dance music for the first half, before picking up momentum with mucky synth swill and clustered beats in the final third.
“After a series of committed live performances in Germany, Berlin-based producer Liziuz delivers his stunning debut album for Hospital Productions, Geschichten Des Lebens. Presented on two discs with two interpretations of the same epic track with one in ambient form and one in techno form. Geschichten Des Lebens is an album that requires patience with deep rewards. Liziuz is a new name emerging from the contemporary Berlin electronic underground. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Liziuz has isolated himself in solitude, meticulously crafting long-form landscapes simultaneously industrial and psychedelic. RIYL: Dedekind Cut, Gas, Lussuria.”
In the 15+ years that have elapsed since 'Loop Finding Jazz Records' first shuffled out of his ambrosially dusty speakers, Jan Jelinek's most famous album has acquired an almost mythical status. Originally released via Pole's defunct Scape imprint, it now finds new life via Jelinek's own Faitiche label, for a new generation to marvel at one of the finest examples of loop-based electronic music typical of the early noughties.
Taking what reads like a pretty austere set of ingredients, Jelinek's technique revolves around a trio of elements which consist of second long cuts of 1960's-70's jazz recordings, the loop-finding modulation wheel (do your homework!) and the Moiré effect; albeit rendered in the acoustic as opposed to the image and spectral domains.
If all this sounds a bit academic, be assured that on record it is anything but; as crumbling edifices of mealy rhythms slowly pulse into life and swirl around your head like snow storms clashing with a dust devil. Taking sediments of fathom deep static then skimming the best stuff from the top, Jelinek opens through the dampened echoes of 'Moiré (piano & organ)' wherein a slow-motion thrum of spiraling clicks, rustles and analogue tones conspire to give the impression of recondite perspectives that extend well beyond the constituent elements.
Elsewhere, 'Rocky in the Video Age' instills a gratuitously optimistic blush to the aquatic micro-sound ebb, 'Moiré (Strings)' is a perfect companion to Basinski's disintegrating tape archive, whilst 'Them, Their' represents an aural crease so sleight you can only catch its distinctive gleam from the corner of your eye.
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.
Glass offers the sublime results of a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), as performed and recorded at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut during the private opening to Yayoi Kusama’s installation marking the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth.
Making sterling use of the landmark architectural work’s pellucid dimensions, the pair fixed contact mics to its glass walls, which they effectively played as an “instrument”, rubbing it with rubber gong mallets to generate delicate tones which they combined with a sympathetic palette of singing glass bowls, crotales, keyboards and mixers.
The seamless performance of floating, weightless tones and exquisitely quivering timbres is without doubt one of their finest. For the duration we’re held static and spellbound by the pair’s interplay of microtonal shifts and plasmic chronics, keening the listener thru hazes of digital dust and vortices of angelic harmonics to locate, alchemise and resolve a rarified, deeply mysterious spirit before the piece closes.
As the follow-up to their OST for The Revenant  and the warbling keys of Summvs  before that, the achingly lush tension of Glass is perhaps the purest testament to the clarity of vision and endless minimalist mutability of this highly revered duo.
Beautify Junkyards effortlessly blend their love of English Acid Folk and Brazilian Tropicalia in a collection of songs that conjure up a warm and verdant faerie world.
"Delicate acoustic guitars evoke an autumnal England suffused with Iberian heat by other-worldly voices; the ethereal lilt of João Branco Kyron and the warm languor of Rita Vian. The production is tempered with a haunted electronic palette that anchors the band squarely in the world of Ghost Box.
Their sound is further enhanced by newest member Helena Espvall ( formerly of Espers) on guitar and cello. With João Moreira on acoustic guitar and synth, Sergue Ra on bass and Antonio Watts on drums they are altogether an astonishingly talented group of people.
The Invisible World… will be the band’s third album and their first for Ghost Box, following on from their Other Voices single in 2016.”
RIYL: Popul Vuh, Henry Flynt, Arthur Russell, CAN, La Düsseldorf, Tony Conrad & Faust, Broadcast, Terry Riley & Alice Coltrane…
"A twelve-faceted sonic inquiry into celestial cycles, the rhythms of the natural world, and the illuminating nature of darkness, the accompanying album Bellowing Sun is the majestic culmination of Fennelly’s immersive explorations of the natural world’s sensory dimensions and the dialogues between musical traditions—acoustic and electronic, vernacular and avant-garde.
The solitary compositional genesis of the piece, and a significant portion of its early recording (before tracking and mixing sessions with John McEntire of Tortoise), occurred at Bean’s home atop a dune of fine quartz “singing sands” on the shore of Lake Michigan. Sonically, Bellowing Sun is both kaleidoscopic and telescopic in nature, offering a radiant palette of rhythmic, textural, and tonal complexity, as well as rapid shifts in scale, from the intimately corporeal to the dizzyingly cosmic.
All four J’s—Jaime, Janet, Jim, and Jon—appeared together on Undying Color, but have since solidified into a formidable, cohesive unit, a true band capable of increasingly expansive arrangements. Though divided into twelve movements, or aspects—zodiacal sectors, perhaps—the piece functions as a heroic, integral whole. The album’s sequence reveals a dynamic push and pull between contemplative stasis and headlong momentum, imparting a palpably physical mass to the cataracts of sound.
Bean sings on half of the tracks, including early stunner “Matchstick Grip” and the spectacular closer “Pause to Wonder.” Whether articulating words or intoning phonemes, her powerful, lucent voice elevates the proceedings to a devotional plane whenever it emerges from the saturated field of sound."
In a smart turn of events, Daniel Avery’s second album scales between lush ambient downstrokes and signature, rolling techno for a sublime dialogue between the ‘90s and now, all aided and abetted by guests including Teresa Winter, Manni Dee, and James Greenwood (Ghost Culture).
As lushly prefaced by the Slow Fade EP, Avery’s Song For Alpha continues to diversify his bonds in sublime style, strafing from slow acid to rolling and purring techno and back again with a time-dilating and immersively expansive effect that lends itself as well to headphone travels as smoky afters with a pack of pals.
On one level, its aesthetic and effect can be taken as a sincere nod to the hauntology of UK dance music, revelling in its phosphorescent ambient afterglow and beautifully distilling the paradoxical nature of being locked in your own world within a sweaty mass of dancers, whilst also conveying the detachment of perception between generations who experienced the original rush, those xennials who came in its slipstream, and a current generation raised on YouTube clips of the original.
On another level, he’s also tapping into a far more ancient, arcane thread of tribal ritualism and new age thought, of which Rave music, like the psychedelic movement of the ‘60s, is a manifestation of timeless esoteric desires that erupts in mass popular consciousness. In that sense, from the name to the cover artwork, Song For Alpha pursues a similar spirit to Ami Shavit’s In Alpha Mood, existing in a wider vein of hypnotic synthetic music with James Holden’s The Animal Spirits and AFX’s SAW volumes.
But that’s all another way of saying that the album, from the lissom Plastikman acid strokes of Stereo L thru to the diaphanous ambient techno of Endnote, which features a gasp of Teresa Winter teased into cirrus drones, is just a lovely example of that nostalgic but forward facing thing UK dance-as-folk music does best.
A new album of exclusive, previously unreleased material from The Caretaker released in memory of and for Mark Fisher, the legendary writer, cultural theorist and pioneering blogger (k-punk) who passed away on the 13th January 2017. Copies of this release were given to all attendees of The Caretaker's Barbican performance for Unsound Disclocation last week. There are now 400 more copies available - please noite that ths edition isn't numbered or signed. 100% of proceeds from this release will be donated to MIND, the mental health charity - so if yr thinking of flipping these - please don't.
Ever since he wrote the extensive liner notes for The Caretaker’s Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia boxset in 2005, Mark Fisher was instrumental in contextualising the complex, abstract nature of The Caretaker’s music to beguiled listeners across the world. Along with the music of Burial and Broadcast, for example, The Caretaker’s output fell under what Fisher described as “Hauntology” - a portmanteau of haunting and ontology which is rooted in Derrida’s study of the failure of Marxism and the left - which Fisher applied to contemporary culture, distinguishing merely “nostalgic” and revivalist culture from hauntological art and culture which is typified by its “refusal to give up on the desire for the future.”
The Caretaker’s work, including this billowing new longform piece, has always resonated with and fed into Fisher’s ideas, so we could hardly think of a more fitting send off from Leyland Kirby’s cherished vessel. We wholeheartedly recommend this CD, and also reading all of Fisher’s work - from his collected writings for The Wire and other publications, to his daringly seminal Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative?, which proposes a direct link between increased diagnoses of mental health problems and the incessant trudge of capitalism, and suggest a way beyond the assertion that “it is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism”.
A cherry-picked 56-track overview of the pivotal and influential dance music craze which emerged from clubs in Antwerp, Gent and Brussels c. 1987-89 in parallel to scenes out of Chicago, Detroit, NYC and the UK.
Arriving in the wake of multiple T.S.O.B. (The Sound of Belgium) volumes, this 4CD features a strong haul of nuggets not included on those sets - including a number on CD for the first time - while also broadening the definition of New Beat to locate the syncretic style’s roots and branches within synth-pop, EBM, house, and techno; from early influences such as Graham Lewis’ stylish synth-pop classic Pump , thru to to PN’P’s proto-hardcore slammer Poison  and taking in Belgium-built New Beat staples such as Ghostdanjce’s searing Ghostbeat (New Beat Mix) or Erotic Dissidents’ Move Your Ass And Feel The Beat (Instrumental) alongside imported anthems, Reese & Santonio’s Rock The Beat and The Rude Boy Keith Farley’s Give Yourself To Me.
We could bang on about the tracklist all day, but suffice it to say that the inclusion of total pearls such as Chayell’s relentless Don’t Even Think About It, White House White’s Oddball Harry, and Twice of Love’s grim acid grinder The Birth (the B-side to 24 Hours From Culture), and La Rolls’ Foolz Moonz Roolz means you’re saving a few hundred bob from the buying 2nd hand vinyl, at the very least!
Leyland Kirby's The Caretaker returns with a long-in-the-making soundtrack to acclaimed filmmaker Grant Gee's documentary about German writer WG Sebald.
'Patience (After Sebald)' is a multi-layered film essay on landscape, art, history, life and loss - an exploration of the work and influence of German writer WG Sebald (1944-2001), told via a long walk through coastal East Anglia tracking his most famous book 'The Rings Of Saturn'. Much like The Caretaker's oeuvre, Sebald's works are particularly focused on themes of memory, both personal and collective, making Kirby the ideal candidate for this score.
Grant tasked him with soundtracking responsibilities, but rather than thrift shop shellac, the source material for 'Patience' was sourced from Franz Schubert's 1827 piece 'Winterreise' and subjected to his perplexing processes, smudging and rubbing isolated fragments into a dust-caked haze of plangent keys, strangely resolved loops and de-pitched vocals which recede from view as eerily as they appear. Mastered by Lupo at D&M, the album is adorned with another specially commissioned painting by Ivan Seal.
James Kirby's work as The Caretaker has always dealt with the suggestion of haunted memory and the obscuring of temporal motion, and this - perhaps his most iconic album - made that more explicit than ever, with titles that reference amnesia, Alzheimer's, past life regression and other such memory misfires and short circuits.
Musically, this album might be compared to Philip Jeck's manipulated vinyl tracts, featuring similarly oceanic swells of crackle and dust, with faded pianos or big band sounds wafting wraith-like across the mix. After conjuring the sinister atmospherics of The Shining with his debut album Selected Memories From The Haunted Ballroom, The Caretaker has been chasing this idea of sound leaving its indelible mark on a space and time, so consequently these creepy, semi-dissolved musical passages sound no more tangible than shadows, and the album for the most part comes across as some sort of séance held via wax cylinder.
C L A S S I C.
The label that gave us that killer LP of Iranian Classical music from Morteza Hannaneh last year return with this curveball album of midnight anxiety and ambient trauma by ssaliva following on from releases for Leaving Records, Ekster, Vlek and Purple Tape Pedigree, among others. Highly recommended if you're into Oneohtrix, Arca, Mica Levi...
Pulling together material from blink-and-miss Bandcamp releases along with previously unheard works, WYIN coherently highlights a broader period of work than any of ssaliva’s previous releases, framing a probing and adventurous spirit at work in its element; modern digital ambient composition.
Coming off the back of Collapsing Market’s reissue of Tschashm-e-Del, an archival radio play of Persian Classical music conducted by the label’s grandfather, their first ssaliva entry keeps the label outlook as mutable as ever with a natural focus on atmosphere and feelings connoting existential angst and solitary psychedelia. It’s a product of the contemporary environment, which, more than ever, is bleakly electronic and at the mercy of rabid socio-economics, as symbolised in the sleeve’s illustration of a financial trader’s open palm, contrasting with the front cover’s zoomed in image of blood-spattered textures.
In six parts he just about keeps his head above the waves and acres of negative space, firstly buoyed by choral voices in Danger Came Smiling, then against the discordant fulgurite of Hell/Home, which both make the sublime timbral relief of a that much more effective, in the same way that the hyperreal, acrid sensation of For All I Care, the crystalline dimensions of 2drown and the spiralling, elusive complexity of b reflect and express the modern world with an intangible accuracy perhaps best compared to Arca.
A favourite of Four Tet’s, Entourage Ceremony of Dreams: Studio Sessions and Outtakes, 1972-1977 is a glorious portrait of the American ambient ensemble active in their early phase, shifting along the East Coast between Baltimore, Millbrook, New York, and back again.
Like their pair of Folkways releases, Untitled  and The Neptune Collection , the vibe is mostly free spirited, optimistic, utopian, but nicely held in balance with more wistful, melancholic flights of fancy, particularly on the two brooding parts of their soundtrack for a Danish theatre production of Cleopatra.
“Sampled by Four Tet, their name whispered in reverence through the decades, Entourage forged bold musical ideas on their two rare '70s Folkways LPs. Now, collected for the first time, 30 previously unreleased tracks from their archives. Notes by J.D. Considine, and by sole surviving Entourage member, guitarist Wall Matthews.”
Architect of the present future, Chris Carter goes retro hauntological on CCCL Volume One, his first solo album in 17 years.
Since his previous album, released in the last century, he’s been busy taking his influential duo with partner Cosey Fanni Tutti to a natural close, and likewise seeing thru their trio with Nik Colk Void, while at the same time diversifying his bonds with remixes of the contemporary field, from Factory Floor to Nisennenmondai and Perc. Here, however, the enormously pivotal artist paints a sonic self portrait indulging an unswerving thing for the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and the malleability of modular synths, all with a mixture of wide-eyed, youthful innocence and high end studio nous executed to nostalgic degrees.
In the classic framework of hauntology, Carter’s nostalgia is for a lost, assuaged or thwarted synthetic future he experienced explicitly and cosmotically growing up during the ‘space age’, when synthesisers were vehicles for interstellar and interdimensional travel and acted as the connective ligament of counter-cultural likeminds across the world, so its easy to understand why he can’t shake that feeling here.
Like a grown up kid with all the kit he could ever dream of, Carter brings his ideas to life in uniquely tactile style, working like a sculptor with broad palette of amorphous materials that continue to react and mutate after he’s fixed them in place, at his legendary studio in Norfolk. Each of the 25 tracks feels to offer a window onto worlds of encrypted kinetic energy, fulminating figments of the imagination which come to life in shapeshifting, plasmic forms made all the more “real” and hyperstitious thanks to his application of AI like vocaloids which populate the album, cropping up as alien sirens, glossolalic darkroom murmurs, and fully-fledged “singers” in their own strange right.
The result is a uniquely absorbing album tied together by Carter’s smart internal logic, a mazy manifestation of bio-electronic feedback systems that gives voice to the machine as much as the man operating it in a way that will really speak to followers of classic electronic music.
Moon Gangs return with a starry-eyed suite of synth themes intersection Indian raga, pulsating kosmiche and Carpenter-esque sci-fi cinematic themes
“'Earth Loop' is inspired by both classical music and the film scores of 80s sci-fi and horror classics such as Terminator, Videodrome and Phantasm, as well as those of electronic pioneers Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh. Young's childhood was spent playing CS4 and Amiga games, and discovering their soundtracks. An ode to these formative years, 'Earth Loop' casts ambient, analogue synth arpeggios against cinematic drones resulting in an evocative, nostalgic soundworld that's as invigorating as it is foreboding.
“Earth Loop mainly came out of jamming with synths. The mixer I use is an old Tascam 144 so if things are sounding good I just hit record and get it to tape. Everything started as big long rambles recorded live that are then trimmed down into something more concise. Inspiration-wise I’d been listening to more classical stuff, a lot of chamber music for strings, and I think that shows in the string section-y bits. Although they’re all synths, not actual strings.
It was recorded all over the place over quite a long time which I guess is why there are a lot of different ‘moods’ on it, rather than it being a document of a specific period of time/place. I also started building a field recording library over the last couple of years so there’s quite a bit of that in there, but they’re generally processed and run through synths so they’re not too recognisable”. - William Young, Moon Gangs
There was a time when The Third Eye Foundation was the mirror of the world from which the group drew its substance. But the reflection faded and dirt accumulated so it only provided deformed images and gradually became the world's shadow.
"This willingness to look at and express images and words about humans and their environment has since been embodied in the completely open face of its founder, Matt Elliott. Thus, The Third Eye Foundation is a discrete entity, the opposite of what Matt Elliott may otherwise represent. In 2010, The Dark (IDA 071CD) already portrayed this state of affairs. Today, Wake The Dead is banging the last nails into the boards that make up the barricades. Wake The Dead is like a key which attempts to open the doors of memory. Waking the dead is not a question of meaning but rather of sensations. Free will and free thought have no place here -- in the universe of The Third Eye Foundation, humans are no more than a simple product of their environment.
This may seem extremely violent and dehumanizing but it is not the case at all. You need to get rid of your certainties, empty yourself, and put yourself on the same level as those considered to be "the other". And that's probably the greatest quality of an album like Wake The Dead. Its abstract compositions are without a format and thus implicitly participate in the deconstruction of the imaginary, of all logical forms which we sometimes cling to without even knowing why. It offers something essential in its unpredictable approach: the possibility of letting go without this ever being judged as an admission of weakness. In a way, Wake The Dead is an album without a beginning or an end. Its melodic variations instill themselves without the listener realizing, and then progressively changes the listener's perception of the work. The 40 minutes of throbbing, hypersensitive dubstep that make up the record are not aimed at sending a message to the mind; The intention is to make souls dance and to unite them. Personnel: Matt Elliott - all instruments, vocals; David Chalmin - additional keyboards, vocals, drum machine, manipulations, effects; Raphaël Séguinier - drums; Gaspar Claus - cello."
Max Richter presents a properly widescreen album befitting of the panoramic cinematography in Hostiles, a 2018 feature by directed by Scott Cooper and starring Christian Bale, set in 1892 as an evocative study of fraught relationships between Cheyenne people and the American army.
The composer himself states “The landscape is a huge part of this film”, adding that “It offers this sort of medium for the characters to find their story in, but it’s all held in this extraordinary landscape, which can be populated also by music.”
Coming off the back of Richter’s first Emmy nomination for Taboo, his Hostiles soundtrack finds the UK composer drawing from avant garde techniques in order to paint a soundscape of textures and lush orchestrations, and not just wide-angled shot littered with emotive signposts.
In a sense he’s encroaching on territory recently explored by Scott Walker’s The Childhood of a Leader and Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto’s OST for The Revenant - a sterling addition to that section of your collection, then.
Your eyes do not deceive you! Ten years since leaving us all hanging with Two/Three, Tadd Mullinx a.k.a. Dabrye gives up Three/Three, loaded with guest spots from Guilty Simpson, Doom, Ghostface Killah, Jon Wayne, Shigeto, and many mo.
As one of the original architects of the instrumental “beat scene” which emerged from late ‘90s hip hop and morphed into more electronic-based structures during the ’00s, Dabrye forged a rugged, warped new sound which would predate the lurch of half-time dubstep and influence a stack of producers such as Hud Mo and Machinedrum who’ve become key, influential producers in their own right in the years since.
After leaving the Dabrye alias c. Two/Three in 2006 to focus on his JTC and Charels Manier aliases - which, in their own way, also triggered or predated sea changes in the wider dance/electronic scenes - Tadd Mullinx picks up like he never left us with Three/Three, reprising a natty, wonky style that pretty much ignores contemporary trap/drill trends in favour of super bass-heavy and psychedelically detailed productions that match the classic steez of his vocalists.
From first listens we’re most impressed by the woozy nudge of Dr. Shroomen feat G&D, and it’s hard not to get snagged on Doom’s hooks in Lil Mufukuz, definitely Ghostface Killah’s delivery on Emancipated, which sounds like a sharp update of some Dilla/Raymond Scott flex, and easily The Appetite feat. Roc Marciano, Quelle Chris & Danny Brown on some Clipse meets Kraftwerk vibe.
One of the more ‘extreme’ Edition Wandelweiser releases is Michael Pisaro’s ‘Sometimes’ as performed by Colectivo maDam, who feature a lone solo female voice flanked by three musicians on electronics. The score only allows for occasional sustained vocal and electronic tones of varying, but mostly short length, each separated by contemplative lacunæ where we presume you’re intended to imagine or fill out the harmonies implied by the sparse stems yourself. This near-silence forms the bulk of the work and leave the listener largely in a state of suspense, anticipation.
“this piece was, as the title indicates, the first of the 34 pieces that would eventually become the harmony series. in this and all the other pieces in the series, i attempted to create the conditions for a harmonic situation without giving any actual notes. the main stimulus for this was swell piece (for alison knowles) (1967) by james tenney (one of the postal pieces). i had reason to perform that piece several times in 2003/4 and marveled at how any group we assembled would find the "right" harmony without anything being said. so sometimes was the first piece i made that tried to do that: by specifying only numbers and durations of tones and the pauses between them. it is dedicated to tenney."
Edition Wandelweiser co-founder Jürg Frey presents the starkly beautiful minimalism of ’24 Wörter’, a song cycle based around the album’s evocative song titles, and performed by the trio of Regula Konrad (soprano), Andrew Nathaniel McIntosh (violin), and Dante Boon (piano). They’re mostly very succinct works with no detectable fat to trim, forming a gorgeous, dreamlike archipelago of experimental contemporary classical compositions...
“Jürg Frey in conversation with Thomas Adank:
JF: The 24 words are the titles of the individual pieces, and they are at the same time the entire text. They are also a list that shows how the piece gets from a beginning to an end. It is, in a sense, a cycle not simply a collection of pieces - a cycle which begins, makes a journey and ends at a different place.
TA: If I had to categorize this list of words, it seems to me they are addressed to quite different areas. Herzeleid (Heartbreak) for example, sounds old-fashioned, Einsamkeitsmangel (Lack of Loneliness) almost sounds like a neologism, as do Halbschlafphantasie, (Half-Sleep Fantasy) Sehnsuchtslandschaft (Landscape of Longing), Vergessenheitsvogel (Bird of Oblivion). Others, such as Tod (Death), Schlaf (Sleep), Glück (Happiness), Wind (Wind), are very often used in everyday life. Did you, as you compiled this list, consider these categories? Or did you tell yourself a story that made these words necessary?
JF: I was thinking in categories. At first I really wanted to make an even more rigid sequence. As it now stands, with the long words at the end and the short words in the middle, you can still feel a little of this structure; also at the beginning, which has many words with "e" and "ei". However, now it is not so strict. The words developed lives of their own, and this displaced some of the original structure. Some are everyday words, others are made by combining words, and some words found individual paths into the piece, including some very personal things. L'oiseau d'oubli ("Vergessenheitsvogel",Bird of Oblivion) comes from Edmond Jabès and is a tribute to this author I adore. But I also think that here Jabès has given me the perfect word.
TA: This piece consists of 27 parts, two of them being instrumental. The 24 words were set to music in pieces that are between 30 seconds and four minutes, and the words appear at most twice each in each piece. Again a fairly rigid structure?”
Graceful, barely-there, and enchantingly serene, Voice with Harp was written by German composer, keyboardist, musicologist and educator Eva-Maria Houben, and is performed by Tatiana Kuzina (soprano), and Christine Kazarian (harp).
A patient exercise in time dilation, Voice With Harp unfolds in five movements starting with the longest single piece, a sublime 15 minute instrumental Aeolian Harp, which appears to be an attempt at recreating the classical instrument’s wind-played elemental unpredictability under controlled conditions. We’d re commend listening to this one with the window open for best effect.
The other works are relatively shorter, generally between 3 and 5 minutes in length, and feature Tatiana Kuzina reciting texts by Eva-Maria and Felix Timmermans; three works opening with a sparse harp notes followed by vocal in Adagio, then in longing duet on Hatid, and two also accompanied by piano, before culminating with the five-part Songs For The Island - a sorta sublime inversion of The Vengaboys We’re Going To Ibiza .
Clarice Jensen, artistic director of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), makes a gripping first solo mark on the cello with 'For This From That Will Be Filled', an expansive suite of Cello recordings alongside filigree electronics and tape loops designed to highlight and perceive the instrument’s unique fidelities. It notably features one striking work conceived with the late Jóhann Jóhannsson.
Ushering in Miasmah’s 12th year of operations in the nether fields of modern composition, Clarice’s début is exemplary of the intense, slow-burning aesthetic which connects many of the label’s releases. It unfold in four parts of languorously void-touching ideas, scaling and sustaining a sublime tension said to “explore the variable differences between acoustic and electronic sound as well as depiction of the simulated and the unconscious.”
Using an array of methods ranging from FX pedals to multi-tracking and tape loops, Clarice both gently and ruggedly severs the sound from its source and contrasts it against its own grain, conjuring a contemplative effect akin to gazing out of a bus or train window at night, with light reflecting and scattered at odd angles, distorting the view and providing fleeting, surreal glimpses of new dimensions in the process.
The effect really first comes into play on BC when the string cycle gradually disintegrates with the wilting warble of a GAS or Basinski work, whilst her performance of Cello Constellation, a work for multi-tracked cello and sine tones written for Clarice by Michael Harrison patiently shows her ability to distress the instrument, make it keen like a choir of cosmic banshees, before the staggering title track occurs on the B-side, from a glacial traverse of icy dissonance and cascading borealis light to something like the drone of a sub arctic seed bank nestling humanity’s future in the deepfreeze of For This From That Will Be Filled (B).
Fred Welton Walmsley III (Lee Bannon) completes his esoteric ambient metamorphosis with Dedekind Cut’s melancholic Tahoe album for arch American electronic drifters, Kranky Records - home to some of the some of the finest atmospheric ambient works of recent decades by Stars of The Lid, Loscil, Tim Hecker.
In key with Kranky’s heritage, Dedekind Cut very neatly plays to the label aesthetic on Tahoe with a widescreen suite of slow, windswept synths layered into expansive harmonics evoking cinematic and psychedelic sensations. They range from pop-ambient pockets of bittersweetness to more brooding tracts of durational immersion, with each connected by an overarching feeling of sadness or unresolved strife.
It’s all very much what you’d expect from a Kranky release, until you start paying closer attention. Where Kranky’s chorus of ambient angels have often spent decades on their craft, developing personalised timbral sensitivities and sound identities, the shapeshifting Dedekind Cut’s newness to this particular field is betrayed by the more elusive reach of his soundsphere, but the artist makes up for a lack of tonal richness by conveying his intent more directly thru the arrangement and overall feeling, or soul connoted by his compositions.
Very sadly, this is the posthumous pressing of a long-awaited reissue for Jóhann Jóhannsson’s world-taking début album, Englabörn, which is now packaged with an extra side of reworks by peers including A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Paul Corley, and Jóhannsson himself with Francesco Donadello.
Born in 1969 in Reykjavik, Iceland, Jóhann Jóhannsson passed this mortal coil on 9th February 2018 in Berlin, Germany. An esteemed regular on these pages since this release of his first album, Jóhannsson recorded for practically every notable modern classical label in circulation, and also worked extensively beyond those parameters alongside everyone from Marc Almond and Barry Adamson to avant garde maestros such as BJ Nilsen and Pan Sonic, including most recently recording a number of soundtracks to high profile Hollywood movies.
Opening with the instantly recognisable processed vocals of Odi et Amo, Jóhannsson’s first album recorded under his own name has long held an uncannily nostalgic appeal, one which takes on a new poignancy in light of his passing. For anyone yet to encounter Englabörn it will remain an unusually absorbing experience, while anyone familiar with its tremulous strings, fleeting plays of light and shivering electronics will surely hear it imbued with a new levity.
Of the Englabörn Variations, we’re most attracted to Jóhannsson’s revisions of his own work, alongside Francesco Donadello. The practically chopped & screwed version of Odi et Amo is highly likely to induce tears in susceptible listeners - also appearing as a more glacial bis rework - while Ryuichi Sakamoto also plays the heartstrings like an aeolian harp in his breathtaking rework of Jói & Karen, and cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir takes Sálfræðingur Deyr to its deepest point, before Paul Hilliard’s other vocal ensemble Theatre Of Voices leave us shivering with a final version of Odi Et Amo.
R.I.P. one the 21st century’s first, great composers.
Frankly, Lisbon’s Príncipe are just showing off with this fever-inducing 23-track showcase of their full crew in heaviest effect; including stacks of label debuts and strong showings from their core players.
Mambos Levis D’Outro Mundo is accompanied by a quote from Guinea-Bissauan and Cape Verdean liberationist Amílcar Cabral, which points to the label’s social-democratic ideals and is worth reposting here:
“As to strategy, we learned in the struggle; some people think that we adopted a foreign method, or something like this. Our principle is that each people have to create its own struggle. Naturally, we have something to learn from the experience that can be adapted to the real situation of the country. But we bettered our struggle in the culture of our people, in the realities of our country, historical, economical, cultural, etc, and we developed the struggle, supported by our people which is the first and main condition: the support of the people.”
Within that spirit of independence and celebrating the reality of cultural struggle, the set approaches the ‘floor - an unparalleled site for cataylsing cultural expression - from myriad angles, flipping from wild-eyed, raving futurism in DJ Lycox’s Dor Do Koto to the aerobic mysticism of Swaramgami from the scene’s pivotal producer DJ Marfox, to whacked-out techno by Niagara, whilst also making enchanting introductions to the breezed out roll of Dadifox or the Gqom-like darkside hustle of DJ Safari’s Tempo Do Xakazulu, and the romantic flex of DJ Ninoo & DJ Wayne.
Basically there’s loads of reasons you need this lot in your life. Highly recommended!
Sub Rosa’s vital Early Electronic Series yields a fascinating and unprecedented collection of Indonesian Electronic Music 1979-1992 with the 1st survey of work by Otto Sidharta; a graduate of music composition at Jakarta Institute of Arts, electronic music composition at Sweelinck Conservatorium Amsterdam, and recently a doctorate from Institute Seni Indonesia Surakarta.
A pioneering figure within Indonesian Electronic Music since his début composition Ngendau , Sidharta has operated amid a small network of prism pushers in relative seclusion from the power centres of electronic music for nigh on 40 years. Since the start of his oeuvre, Sidharta’s work has been concerned with environmental sounds, integrating natural and electronic sources in a way that could be said to reflect the sound ecology of his home land as much as his personal imagination.
As the first collection to reveal Sidharta’s work beyond his home country, this set serves an increasingly rare encounter by revealing a hitherto un or little-known, yet fully formed and genuinely new, perspective on electronic music ranging from deliquescent gong works to dense blocks of gamelan abstraction, computerised chimes and totally unearthly oddities.
Make no mistake though, this isn’t some sort of Hassell-esque 4th world simulation or recreation of traditional music with plugged-in means. Rather, it’s better regarded as a fine mix of academic rigour and methodical electronic music techniques realised at the service of romantic, esoteric notions of space and place; vividly conveying sensations of heat, psychedelia, violence - both natural and political - with an immersively dreamlike effect from both within and post Soeharto’s brutal dictatorship.
Simply, if 4th world music is too fluffy for ya, but you like its Eastern-oriented ideas of new tunings, rhythms, imaginary spaces, this one is strongly recommended, especially to fans of Coil, Rashad Becker, Gottfried Michael Koenig, Pauline Oliveros.
Mark Pritchard makes great use of an original vocal by The Space Lady and a Gregory Whitehead sample on The Four Worlds, his sweetly concise LP follow-up to Under The Sun .
Save for its extensive opening track, there’s a glaringly notable lack of drums on The Four Worlds, which is a big part of its strength. As the first Mark Pritchard album in memory not made for or even bothered by the ‘floor, it reveals a whole other, intriguing side to his oeuvre, taking the listener from the magic carpet glide of of its lush opener Glasspops, which feels something like like a Morphosis meets John Carpenter piece, to the jazzy new age pool of Circle Of Fear, and much farther onwards far onwards.
Gregory Whitehead’s stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks vocal from Ziggurat (as previously used on DJ/Rupture’s incredible Minesweeper Suite mix) is framed by a lushly brooding synth backdrop, initiating listeners to a remarkable B-side run that takes in spiralling kosmiche à la Eno & Roedelius on The Arched Window, beside the intergalactic lilt of S.O.S., featuring The Space Lady at her charming best, and onto resonant meditation of The Four Worlds in a thoroughly satisfying style.
The 20th volume of Numero's Eccentric Soul series has all the boxes checked: Gun-toting, skip-tracing record producers, child stars, rip-offs, the “World’s Greatest Bail Bondsman,” swindles, soaring falsettos, and a dwindling rust-belt cityscape offering mere glimpses of hope before the record industry escaped for the coasts.
"Helmed by the O’Jays Bobby Massey, Saru was a creative vortex that pulled Cuyahoga County’s greatest talent in, making a strong case for Cleveland to contend with Detroit, Philly, and Memphis as America’s soul music’s capital. Includes obscure and unknown sides from the Out of Sights, the Elements, Pandella Kelly, David Peoples, Sir Stanley, the Ponderosa Twins + 1, Ba-Roz, Bobby Dukes, and of course, the O’Jays."
The widely-adored post-Stereolab unit of Tim Gane, Joe Dilworth and their pal Holger Zapf take their krautrock/psych buggy for another long player jag
Following from recent reissue of their debut LP Blood Drums and a new album, Void Beats/Invocation Trex, both released in 2016, on Hormone Lemonade they refuel the tank with gallons of liquid LSD and, presumably decked in best rollnecks and comfy cords for a highly stylised and charmingly archaic trip back to ‘70s psych vibes.
"The music in this box set does indeed demonstrate masterful arrangements of sounds and sources, movement and melody, humour and seriousness, that can well be described as magical. It is also a set of unpredictable keys and ciphers, revealing a unique worldview where high artistic rigour meets continual openness to chance and serendipity. In this, Holger not only cut and pasted music but time, place and mindsets, when such things in popular culture were not only technically near impossible but virtually unprecedented.” - Ian Harrison (Mojo)
"Krieg der Töne’ (‘War Of The Sounds’) was produced for the most experimental late night program on German public television network ARD, ‘Das kleine Fernsehspiel’ (‘The Small Teleplay’) in 1989. In the Eighties the department co-produced international independent films like Charlie Ahearn’s early hip hop film ‘Wild Style’ (1983) and Jim Jarmusch’s sophomore feature ‘Stranger Than Paradise’ (1984). Michael Meert’s ‘Krieg der Töne’ is emphatically called “a Video-Musical.” Meert was part of a movement of video activists in the early eighties, who wanted to create faster, more spontaneous pictures through video productions and hoped for a new, political and artistic public sphere of moving images through video. Holger Czukay plays a session musician, who is also named Holger Czukay but is not completely identical with the real Czukay.
He is a bass player for the all-powerful music corporation Super Sound, who has to earn extra money by tuning pianos. One of his customers is an ambitious upper class mother, who desperately wants her 12 year old daughter Ino to win the Super Sound talent show. She hires Professor Czukay as a piano teacher but mainly hopes he can put a word in for her daughter at the upcoming event. Czukay is a grumpy but original teacher who opens the world of everyday sounds for Ino, smashing her mother’s precious china along the way. Ino embarks on a magical journey through Cologne, where everyday sounds transform to music on Czukay’s wonderful soundtrack. People blowing into beer bottles sound like electronically distorted trumpets, rhythms of footsteps, trains and ships form a hypnotic groove. Finally she enters the high altar of German avant-garde pop: Holger Czukay’s real life studio, with his tape machines and a short wave radio receiver at the core. ‘Krieg der Töne’ is a musical slapstick comedy and a poetic film about discovering your own ‘swing’ and the magic of sounds.
VinylVideo recordings contain video (moving images and sound) stored in a special analogue stereophonic video signal format specifically developed for recording on vinyl records. The signal can be reproduced by connecting a special decoder unit to any ordinary HiFi turntable and standard television."
Widely regarded as the 20th century’s most important singer of English traditional song, Shirley Collins is someone who was born to invoke the old songs. Alongside her sister Dolly, she stood at the epicenter of the folk music revival during the 1960s and ‘70s.
"In 1980 she developed a disorder of the vocal chords known as dysphonia, which robbed her of her unique singing voice and forced her into early retirement. The Ballad Of Shirley Collins – which premiered at last year’s London Film Festival – tells this story, though to reduce it to that single aspect does everyone (not least of all Shirley!) something of a disservice.
The story proves itself to be something of a time-travelling Transatlantic road-movie of sorts, utilising a motherlode of archive audio to recount the tale of her seminal 1959 song-collecting trip around America’s Deep South alongside her then-lover (and legendary ethnomusicologist) Alan Lomax. As well as these songs (notably Alabama Sacred Harp Convention, Texas Gladden and Sidney Hemphill-Carter) there are more recent offerings, a home recording of Shirley’s sister Dolly Collins, and a BBC session from 1958, “Eight Five Spiritual” which gets its first release, some 60 years after it was recorded. Shirley Collins spent her life in song. Even during her time without her performing voice she was telling the stories of others’ music. Not once has she dropped the baton in keeping these songs, these stories, these people alive.
The soundtrack to ‘The Ballad Of Shirley Collins’ – though diverse – showcases just a fraction of the facets that make up an extraordinary career by anyone’s standards. Deliberately eschewing a straightforward biopic approach, Rob Curry and Tim Plester’s follow-up to their award-winning documentary WAY OF THE MORRIS, is a lyrical response to the life-and-times of this totemic musical figure. Granted intimate access to recording sessions for Shirley’s first album of new recordings in almost four decades, and featuring contributions from the comedian Stewart Lee and David Tibet of Current 93, what emerges is a meditative and carefully textured piece of portraiture.
A timely delve into the arterial blood, loam and tears of our haunted island nation. The film was released in October and has played more than 50 venues to date. December brings the last few screenings, before a major new wave of activity in January. January 9th is the date to look out for, with the film showing at around 30 venues across the country."