Documented during peak isolation times in Los Angeles, between December 2020 and January 2021.
"These pieces were performed as Live AV pieces from 2017-2019, at Coaxial Arts, Zebulon and Desert Daze 2019, but not documented in a release until later. Signal processing and sequencing frameworks built in Max 8 with signals generated from Prophet '08, a broken AW16G, 0-coast, Max, and a MC-909. With the context of the electromagnetic medium, the absence of live performance and moving visuals and the new "spirit" of the pestilent times, "Cutting Them All Off" should barely be represented as reworks of the originally performed pieces. What was once pulsing and blasting out of PA speakers live is now referenced as a distant past document. These pieces (for better or for worse) have been removed and cut-off from their contextual source and can only be presented in their displaced/liberated state. Like a fish out of water gasping for air, or the only drunk survivor of a car crash that was his fault.
Christopher Reid Martin started Rotary ECT in 2016. The project focuses on highly active signal processes on synchronized Audio -> Visual signals, with many signals being constructed to self-generate. Much like a rotary machine's rotation, the process is consistent and signalled when turned on. Much like electroconvulsive therapy, a human need to be there to actively monitor and attend to the process and generation of the signals being emitted.
Christopher currently works for Cycling '74, is a curatorial/programmer at Coaxial Arts Foundation and ⅓ of curators (alongside J.Prey and J. Rivera) behind the ephemeral stream Cathode TV/Cathode Cinema. Christopher continues to show gallery works, both virtual and physical, digital and video works and performs in other numerous events and projects such as Bailouts, CGRSM (with Gabie Strong), Shelter Death, Gate (with Michael Morley) and Via Injection. He has performed and collaborated with artists Joseph Hammer, Bryce Loy (RIP), Tetuzi Akiyama, Christopher Thompson, James Roemer, Andrew Scott, Gabie Strong, Michael Morley, Lev Abramov and many others."
After great editions by Tape Loop Orchestra and John Powell-Jones, Open Tapes host the tantalising first breaths of Ovïd - an as-yet-anonymous operator hailing from Stockport and reminding of Pub, Xela, Automatisme, Signer
Primed to trigger intrigue with the ambient techno sleuths, Ovid’s debut arrives in a fine vein of contemporary atmospheric pursuits where the dancefloor is a distant but glowing memory and the bed is a raft for all night flight. For just shy of half an hour they furl a totally classic sound, yet one defined with a dewy, plasmic texture that feels like the edges of seminal ‘90s ambient and techno have been smudged and eroded to leave behind the essence of a style, all harmonic hues and submerged, grooving inference that feels like a nostalgic echo of the original thing that feels more appropriate to modern states of flux.
‘Ovdub’ tenderly outlines his style with pillowy pads and a sloshing groove that feels like a more ephemeral adjunct to Automatisme’s ambient systems, before ‘Ovdub2’ follows that line to slip below the surface into submerged dimensions recalling the systolic throb of Thule Records classics. ‘Ovdub3’ naturally extends into purist ambient pads, no beats, letting his melodies float in gauzy air like a beatless Signer bewt, while ‘Ovdub4’ returns to a sort of greyscale iridescence and brownian slosh that sends your bed/raft bobbing off on late night currents.
All Night Flight salvage an impossible-to-find ambient tape for its first proper reissue since the ’93 release. Lovely, serene stuff transcribing a summer’s day in Scotland into a form of environmental ambient composition controlled by the waves, wind, and sunlight
“Cruelly overlooked sound installation works from Brighton-based multi-disciplinary artist Professor Charlie Hooker, self-released in ’93 but here faithfully reproduced from the original master-tapes in cooperation with the artist. Separate Elements is one of Hooker’s pioneering ‘site specific’ sound installations - a large sonic sculpture consisting of music-generating buoys with wind powered sails anchored in an arc in St Andrews Bay, Scotland.
Utilising emergent glass sphere recording technology, Hooker captured the varying amount of Sunlight throughout a summer’s day and transcribed it into a musical score. Reworking these results into a mollifying electronic pulse, the resultant piece is a pacifying synthetic score of sustained chords and swelling overtones, combining the Earth’s four elements into an infinite musical companion. It lures us in like a siren's call, with man-made and natural elements synergising to produce a moment of true calm - the ceaseless crashing of the waves on the rocks, musical phasing created by the wind moving the floating speakers - it’s the sound of nature in stasis.”
The works on this cassette are based on a historic recording of "Structures I" by Pierre Boulez. Tom Schneider cut it into shreds – samples which he then mapped onto a MIDI keyboard, ready to be played freely while pulverising any overarching structure.
"In addition to improvisational reshuffles, acts of sock-puppetry join the resulting collection: The thinking behind other seminal works for piano such as John Cage's "4'33" and Helmut Lachenmann's "Guero" are linked to the audio or parametric content of "Structures". "0.433" takes the original recording's pauses and sequences them into a bumpy stretch of silence. For "Boulero", temporal and tonal properties of one of the underlying works drive the shape of the other.
Further pathways open up through MIDI data-extraction, generating new layers, organised into musical units which then can be played on a keyboard: Authentically serialist extensions of the limited parameters available to the pen and paper of the original composer.
Stefan Goldmann's remixes of Schneider's work are based on different types of MIDI data-extraction, with the results being routed to FM synthesiser presets. Further historic concepts and techniques are filled with the shreds of "Structures" – one of Schneider's selective loops is 'phased' with two different durations rubbing against each other. The focus however is on spontaneous order and emergent phenomena. Different MIDI-fication methods escalate from solo piano to robotic fusion trio in three steps. "Str_ct_r_s" is driven by multiple layers of the same material, slightly trimmed back into half-coherent shape by broad-brush deletion of MIDI notes. Most extremely, Schneider's "0.433" is restored to Cage's original duration by plain time stretching. The detected MIDI information is thus entirely accidental, with automation conjuring content out of the void.
Tom Schneider is a pianist and composer. As a member of the trio KUF, he has released three albums and performed extensively across Europe and East Asia. Sampling is integral to his work, which he applies to band interaction in multiple ways.
Stefan Goldmann is a composer and DJ of electronic music. His work offers close re-examinations of the aesthetic and technological foundations of techno, from shifting metres and designing tuning systems to re-imagining the technological fundamentals of storing music."
Proper, cult properties Michael J. Blood (blood, blood) + Tom Boogizm aka Ratheart join forces as RATBLOOD: debuting an hour of untouchable crooked funk on their new label BodyTronixxx and filling the spaces between Urban Tribe, Arthur Russell, Actress/Thriller and Turinn in a seemingly effortless flexing of DIY muscle that further cements their undisputed status as two of the most original and boundary-pushing characters on the scene right now.
A masterclass in loosey goosey, smoked-out badness, RATBLOOD's eponymous tape hustles stacks of deep fried shrapnel in a crushing session that lays their working out for all to hear in real time - no edits or overdubs, just hot-wired funk pebbledashed with samples, chewed and rinsed out with their untouchable swagger. Since emerging on Tom Boogizm’s NTS show in 2019, the pair have reliably destroyed heads, culminating with this, the duo’s 5th physical collab but the first under this umbrella, highlighting their most unpredictable and rudest moves yet.
The pair essentially seem to be developing a new kind of manc-specific club vernacular - where feeling and ideas trump precision, where everything often slides way off grid, out of bounds, into the red and turned upside down, making the most of basic/cheap equipment in a display of controlled chaos that’s as compatible with wayward Arthur Russell voiceover sessions to the crackling vibes of Actress’ Thriller series. In the best way imaginable, RATBLOOD dismantle pedantic old heads and snag younger mutants, dragging them sideways into an alternate timeline where anything can happen - from daylight-thru-curtains ambient soul scuzz, to cranky slow/fast madness, and loved-up/belly-aching rhythmic psychedelia.
Commencing with a sublime stroll in dusky/dawning Whalley Range zones, the session sharply swerves between fractal sampler blatz into serotonin-scraping soul thizz, vicious Detroit/Manc techno and hall-of-mirrors k-hole jit on the first side, before plastering syrupy soul licks to no waved vox and reeling off along kosmiche tangents into warehouse-folding dub noise and desiccated boogie on the backside. If you copped and loved any of the previous outings, this one’s another utterly unmissable salvo.
Push For Night is the New York City based duo of Oliver Chapoy and James Elliott.
"Trafficking in dark, liminal electronics, the duo's sound is an ever shifting morass of psychoacoustic textures and spectral utterances. Evoking eerie, unnatural, and hidden spaces, this is music that exists in the threshold – locked in a constant push and pull of thwarted expectations and sublime release, hovering in a trance state of the always in-between. These seven tracks reference dark ambient, post-industrial, electroacoustic, 90s IDM, even fourth world explorations, but the music never truly slides into any definable style. The uncertain and illusory rule this sonic soil. Recorded by PFN in NYC and CDMX, 2017-2020 using various synthesizers, drum machines, heavily processed field recordings and guitars."
Cut A Lonely Figure is the (mostly) solo project of Blue Tapes founder David McNamee. Previous releases include Sugimoto Seascapes (Fractal Meat Cuts), Rothko Horizons (Bloxham Tapes), and In Sea, In Circles, In Concrete (Pan y Rosas Discos).
"For this release, recorded at home during Lockdown 1, 2020, Cut A Lonely Figure was: Sarah Angliss (theremin), Maria Marzaioli (violin), Rosie Reynolds (clarinet), Andrew Smith (saxophone), and David McNamee (everything else)."
A suave and naif sliver of Scottish new wave from the mid-‘80s resurfaces via the National Library of Scotland’s Sound and Moving Image Archive as the first endeavour of Glasgow’s Seated Records
Sharing the untold or at least overlooked story of Kevin Low & Fiona Carlin - erstwhile members of post-punk indie band The Wild Indians - ‘The Gayfield Enterprise - Demo Tapes From 1986’ gives wings to their archival tranche of Yamaha DX-100 synth and RX-5 drum machine-crafted songs for the first time.
They came about when the pair’s previous band The Wild Indians disbanded, and the pair traded their 7” record collection and instruments for shinier new boxes, funnily enough making use of Maggot Th*tcher’s “Enterprise Allowance Scheme”, a policy that provided dole claimants with an extra £40 to pursue business projects, and would be ironically help catalyse the early rave era, too. Back to Low & Carlin though, and their music speaks to a sort of new aged positivity that maybe was in the air back then, in the unusual year of 1986 which would, with hindsight, bridge the era of synths and the advent of home computing that spawned a wave of new dance music in Europe.
‘The Gayfield Enterprise - Demo Tapes From 1986’ sit strangely in the gap between eras, giving an brace of elegiac toned ballads and discoid new wave making canny use of their machines’ sequencing capabilities, but not quite gridlocked to trackers, sporting big highlights in the sparkling proto-house kink of ‘Kylie’, and channelling Alison Moyet via Vazz in the tropical synth-pop of ‘Lonely When You Go, plus a natty electro groove ‘Hooch Coochie’ named after the Edinburgh club they frequented and played at.
From Alan Licht
“A Symphony Strikes the Moment You Arrive” was a live performance at PA’s Lounge in Cambridge, on a bill with Major Stars and a short-lived trio of Chris Brokaw, Doug McCombs, and Elliott Dicks. I think Chris invited me to play on the bill. I’m not sure why I chose to do a full set of shortwave radio; the radio belonged to my partner, Angela Jaeger. I had used it before in a duo performance with Kenneth Goldsmith; it was a touchy object but it worked really well for this set. Keith Fullerton Whitman recorded it, and he told me the next day that there had been a call within “the scene” for a boycott of the show since some people felt that Major Stars should never play a venue that had an actual stage. Never mind that PA’s Lounge’s stage was only about 3 inches high…this was also full-circle for me in a way since Love Child’s first gig in a proper venue was at the Middle East in Cambridge, also on a bill that Wayne and Kate played on, with Crystallized Movements, almost exactly twenty years before.
“Room for Storms” came about when the video artist Birgit Rathsmann contacted me out of the blue to ask about playing a live accompaniment to a video she was doing based on satellite footage of hurricanes. I immediately liked the idea since I’d used radio weather reports for my piece “A New York Minute.” We did a fifteen minute performance at the East River Park Bandshell, I worked up a short guitar piece that was partially improvised. Ben Manley did the recording."
Death Is Not The End excavate and assemble these incredible archival radio rips from the first black-owned pirate radio station in the UK - the Dread Broadcasting Corporation, also known as Rebel Radio. Founded by Leroy Anderson aka DJ Lepke in 1980, DBC aired a wide range of black music and was on air until 1984, an instrumental voice in building a regional community and developing UK radio culture.
Death Is Not the End parse the airwaves for the tastiest morsels of roots reggae, lovers rock, and dub dating back over 40 years to the early ‘80s run of Britain’s first black music pirate; West London’s Dread Broadcasting Company. In spirit and effect, the results are closest to the label’s now classic Bristol Pirates session, dwelling in a golden half light of pirate radio recordings that once knitted London’s hugely influential diaspora of Afro-Caribbean cultures.
It’s essentially an edited version of their NTS broadcast on 10/02/18, where you may be able to piece the tracklist together, but more crucially it features class snarks at the BBC and mainstream radio culture peppered among rucks of choice picks, with a stack of deejay hosts lilting and toasting over the top. Although patently and clearly directed to London, the recordings should resonate with many heads who came thru this era in the UK, showing how the sound radiated beyond London thru the diaspora to myriad other UK towns, cities, offering a nostalgic dose that radiates far beyond listeners from the capital to Russia, of all places.
Sound animist Alexandra Spence channels fascinations with material, object and place in richly atmospheric tributes to the native spirits of Vancouver, Hong Kong and Sydney for a very snug fit with Room 40 on their new tape series.
Respectfully mindful to her sites of interest, Spence’s work exists in a mid ground between field recording, composition, performance and installation, where she distills everyday sound into a subtly enchanting listening experience. ‘A Necessary Softness’ is the Australian artist’s sophomore release with Room 40 after ‘Waking She Heard The Fluttering’ (2019) and serves to further her nuanced flux of ideas with poetic effect. Spence’s vocals are an ephemeral presence amid the work’s unravelling soundscapes and shifting barometric pressures, vacillating acoustic and electronic textures with a captivating tactility and synergy comparable with other notables in this arena, such as Kate Carr, Claire Rousay, or Félicia Atkinson, yet finely telling her own story of transience based on her travels across the Pacific rim.
Acknowledging the influence of the people and lands where she lived and recorded - the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and the Coast Salish peoples; the Sqamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Nations - draws her ‘Necessary Softness’ from found objets and the sounds of nature, using FX to transform their resonant bodies and her ginger gestures into gently surrealistic impressions of those places, and their atmospheres. ’Tidewater’ is as tidewater does, seeping in slow and low and gradually submerging with volume, only to recede into ‘Waves,’ while ‘Bell, Fern’ contrasts hard and soft, brittle and stroked textures that beckon to bed down in their hypnagogic lull, eventually turning into a sort of ambient-pop, and ‘Rain’ revels in the eternally delicious sensation of drizzle on a hot day.
Not Waving renders his pop soul on a definitive album opus ‘How To Leave Your Body’, starcrossed with guest appearances by Jim O’Rourke, Jonnine Standish, Marie Davidson, Spivak and Mark Lanegan.
An escapist parable for the times, Alessio Natalizia marks a career high with his most sensitive production and songwriting illuminated by a coterie of notable collaborators. Its 11 songs deal with the necessity of friendship, the fragility of loss and spiritual transcendence via a spectrum of strategies that ultimately arrive at a mutual conclusion: love is the message. It packs ample amounts of nostalgia into a fantasy sequence of elegiac pop, skewed rave and midnight lullabies that fine-tune over 20 years of devotion to his craft, perfectly matching experimental restlessness with enduring pop appeal.
Perhaps unavoidably, circumstances had a hand in the creation of ‘How To Leave Your Body’, forcing Natalizia to work with collaborators remotely. Yet the strength of his bonds bleeds through in the album’s handful of poignant vocal pieces, none more so than the hushed intimacy of Marie Davidson on the bewitching downbeat trance hymn ‘Hold On’, but also in the bruised blush of ‘My Sway’ featuring Jonnine’s spine-tracing lilt over hovering organ and dembow bumps, while the hook-up with Mark Lanegan once again yields bittersweet fruit on ‘Last Time Leaving Home Part 2’, with gravelly blues vox diffused into detuned, miasmic cello that really tugs.
Effortless and made for rinsing, the whole album is testament to the humility and pathos of Natalizia's oeuvre, which has gotten better with age. It plays out like a lovingly crafted mixtape, decanting all original material with a classic cadence and fleeting play of styles, from aerial jazz notes in ‘You Are Always Younger Than The Future’, to the gnawing club grind of ‘Define Normal’, a noisily gurning ‘Self-Portrait’, and the lushly resolved admittance of ‘My Best Is Good Enough.’ Comparisons don’t really work with this one, it’s just Not Waving.
Cult London/Tokyo tape label NCA venture Molinaro’s solo debut for the label after a split with Black Void Smith and his future jazz / broken beat 12”s on Apron
We can’t full make out the silhouette of this one, but the demo showreel / montage promises something a little off-centre from his previous turns; a bit more frayed around the edges, with grubbing drums and littered with samples in a mutant sci-fi soundtrack vein.
NCA gear always flies out so trust your instincts and think quick.
Luke Owen expands his beloved NTS show and cult label into a full-fledged musical project with this hypnotic selection of turntablist blues, folk and gospel sounds. Like the Caretaker let loose on a box of American Primitive recordings - crackle blues!
For years now, Owen has been building a collection of crumbling blues, pirate radio hauntology, spiritual music, ghost folk and dusty proto jazz, sharing it on his excellent NTS show and via his eponymous label. Now, armed with a pitch-controlled turntable and delay pedal, he gives some of these sounds his own unique spin, piping the music thru a process that magnifies the feeling of melancholy and nostalgia.
Woozy and disorienting, each track highlights the imperfections in the recordings, allowing surface noise and tape hiss to turn into instruments of their own. It's like a hybrid of Philip Jeck and Leyland Kirby: ghostly and distinct, but deep and absorbing, re-contextualising old sounds without a shred of cynicism.
Perpetually keeping us on our toes, a Colourful Storm assemble previously unreleased works by cult Swiss synth-pop and NDW legend Christian Pfluger aka Die Welttraumforscher, essential listening if yr into owt from Cleaners From Venus to Skanfrom, Stano to Frederik Schikowski and The Kitchen Cynics.
Pfluger's sorely unsung, naïf pop recordings - loved and cited as an influence by everyone from Felix Kubin to Yello’s Dieter Meier and astronaut Hans-Joachim Roloff are introduced here with a kind of primer for newbs, packing sterling, previously unreleased examples of his endearingly oddball, near-mythical NDW style, perfectly distilling the oneiric appeal of the lo-fi imaginary universe he inhabits.
Since the early ‘80s he’s dished out dozens of releases spanning records to films and illustrations, mostly on his label, Das Moniflabel, but thanks to his German language lyrics, Pfluger’s music has been largely reserved to German speakers who perhaps best pick up on the subtleties of his wit and pathos. However, the sharply melodic instrumentals and vocal delivery are so timelessly enigmatic, that his music is surely ripe for wider appreciation by new ears.
The spirit of early ‘80s DIY craft is integral to the charm of Die Welttraumforscher music, imbuing his fanciful arrangements with a kitchen sink quality so prevalent in UK post-punk at the time. Daily life, or “coffee, cake, and comets” as he pithily puts it, provides the impetus behind each vignette-like song; channelling the eccentricities of waking life via guitar, synth, drum machine and tapes into discretely self-contained songs that sound as though they were recalled from a dream while still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. As far as introductions go, one could hardly ask for a more carefully assembled, immersive entry point to this secretive, fantastical microcosm.
A Colourful Storm’s Fleetway Tapes sublabel follow up that crushing ’Time Is Away’ tape with this super satisfying curveball from Andy Mac, offering over an hour of spirited vibrations that come highly recommended if yr into Beatrice Dillon, Awkward Corners/Chris Menist, Peverelist.
A decade since Andy Mac committed his crispy debut productions to Peverelist’s Punch Drunk he's cultivated a rocksteady rep for working rugged, minimalist grooves with bags of rude soul. On ‘First & Last, Sennen’ he weaves roots and branches of classic Bristol styles into his first physical mixtape, tracing a jagged line from prevailing interests in vintage Jamaican dub and Caribbean rhythms, and their distant echoes in post-punk, cosmic drug chug, and AOR oddities, across a tight selection certain to have nerds itching for track IDs.
it’s properly slanted and enchanted gear, planting its feet in dusty, lilting calypso and nonchalant South American grooves, toggling the groove with effortless suss, shuffling weight across continents and epochs with proper percies drawn from a venn diagram of NDW, post-industrial, and downtown NYC records whose names may elude and tease even the most ardent heads. In the best sense, each cut sets up the next, creating stepping stones through offbeat and lesser trodden regions of dub and dance music from the past 60 years.
First ever publicly available dip into Lil Toby’s hugely influential TSBO mix series, a 4 hour / double tape session of essential late 90’s early 2000’s Dancehall murder from one of the most pivotal operators/compilers/DJ’s on the underground scene - following his work bringing Mo Wax's genre-defining 'Now Thing' compilation to life in 2001 and appearances on some of the earliest mixtapes from The Trilogy Tapes back in 2008.
The TSBO series was a precursor and testing ground to what became the 'Now Thing' compilation which Lil Toby co-complied with Toby Feltwell (Cav Empt) and Frenchie from Maximum Sound. The mixes consisted of that proto “Now Thing” sound from the late 90’s - early/mid-2000s, arguably the most future sounding period in Jamaican music. Rather than looking back, the TSBO mixes were made from brand new releases and pre-releases Toby copped at Blacker Dread and Dub Vendor - including things like Volume riddim (released in London prior to coming out in Jamaica). In this sense, the TSBO mixes are a time capsule of a hugely vibrant time on the streets/clubs of South London, clubs that Lil Toby was playing at regularly alongside the Honest Jons crew.
There were 100 or so TSBO mixes made between 1999-2004, mostly recorded to minidisc and handed out to friends and sometimes played on pirate radio, with many of them copied, passed around and soon enough worming into the very fabric of London’s rich Dancehall culture. This 4 hour double set features Toby's personal favourite selections from the series, and is the first time any of them have been released. Alongside riddims that have since become rinsed classics, the set includes a ruck of material that was only ever available at Blacker Dread that have more or less been forgotten about in the years since; making it an important historical document selected and mixed by one of the original heads, but also the tightest, deadliest 4 hour dancehall session you’ll likely ever set your ears on.
What next? Now Thing 2, soon.
Maria Spivak follows her instantly sold-out debut album 'Μετά Το Ρέιβ' with this killer 30 minute addendum, a stunning set of slow-pulsing torch/pop songs that once again mine that brilliantly original sweetspot between Lena Platonos, Cocteau Twins and James Stinson’s Other People Place.
'Rare Backwards’ reaffirms the unusual, addictive nature of Spivak’s music, coloured with a nagging sense of déjà vu-like familiarity, with traces of midnight Detroit pads thru to ‘80s synth wave and trip hop all palpable and complementary to the depth of her forlorn Greek new age soul. In somnambulant steps that barely touch the floor, the album’s song sequence elegantly drifts from wordless underwater ballads to devastating ‘60s pop in Club Silencio style channelling Lynch via Cindy Lee, seamlessly taking in ambient jungle à la Teresa Winter’s finest in her stride, along with dance music primed for glyding mediterranean terrace tiles, and star-gazing synth scenes for nocturnal beach missions.
On the A-side, the simmering asymmetry is most striking on ’18:00', like a sunkissed counterpart to Cocteau Twins ‘Otterley’, but instead of grey industrial vistas we’re at golden hour, all melancholy and youthful possibility in the breezy summer air. 'Make It Make Sense’ follows and riffs on The Other People Place’s ‘Lifestyles Of The Casual’ with added amens and a vocal hook that makes us think of Masha Qrella’s overlooked, singular style. 'A Pause’ on the flipside, meantime, unspools like a delirious echo of Julee Cruise's 'Say Goodbye’, all romance, yearning and heartsick blues.
Of course it will all evince myriad feelings in others, but we’re completely taken by the late night allure and height-of-summer madness that makes Spivak's music so incredibly seductive, especially if you like your sonic signposts low lit, flickering and full of nostalgia. If you do - this one’s a total pearl.
First reissue of the fabled 2nd album by organ weilding Ethiopian legend Hailu Mergia and his band, The Walias who single-handedly catalysed the modern Ethiopian music scene from the early ‘70s onward. Totally grooving and vibing gear done in a low-key, in-the-pocket style that graces everything Mergia touches...
“Hardly anyone outside Ethiopia seems to know Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band “Tezeta” exists. Within Ethiopia this tape has been impossible to find for decades. That’s about to change with this release, which makes available this epochal recording on LP, CD and Digital formats for the first time.
From their genesis as members of the Venus club in-house band in the early 70s, Hailu Mergia and the Walias Band were at the forefront of the musical revolution during an era where modern instruments and foreign styles superseded the traditional fare to become the staple sound of Ethiopia. No one would argue that the Walias were the trailblazing powerhouse of modern Ethiopian music.
They were the first band to form independently without affiliation to a theatre house, a club or a hotel; unprecedented and risky as they had to raise all funding for expenses by themselves including buying equipment. They were the first to release full instrumental albums, considered to be commercially unviable at the time. They opened their own recording studio, with band members Melake Gebre and Mahmoud Aman doubling as technical buffs during sessions. They were also the first independent band to tour abroad. In short, they were the pioneers every band tried to emulate; some more successfully than others.
Odds are, any Ethiopian over the age of 35 who had access to TV or radio by the early 90s, will instantly recognize the sound of Walias. What is not a given is, how many would actually identify the band itself. Barely a day went by without hearing the Walias either in the background on radio or as an accompaniment to various programs on TV.
This Tezeta album is the band’s second recording, released in 1975. Sourced by Awesome Tapes From Africa and expertly remastered by Jessica Thompson, its unique and funky renditions of standards and popular songs of the day are so quintessentially Walias, flavorful and evocative. Hailu’s melodic organ, unashamedly front and center in every track, makes even the complex pieces accessible.
Profoundly engaging; it’s an immersive trip down memory lane for those of us getting reacquainted with it, while also an enthralling and gratifying experience for fresh ears. (text by Tessema Tadele)”
oh my dayz this is unreal, keeling levels of radio and rave nostalgia with a cherry-picked volley of adverts from London pirate radio 1984-1993 somewhere between Mark Leckey’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, Lee Gamble's 'Diversions' and Sublime Frequencies’ best radio surveys, except focussed much closer to home to capture an era that now seems like an entirely alternate reality.
Scanning the airwaves of a golden era in London history between 1984-1993 when dancehall soundsystem culture fostered the early stirrings and full rush of hardcore, Death Is Not The End turn their beady ear to one of the epicentres of UK rave music with stacks of raggo vignettes advertising everything from Greek salons to school reunions, video shops, datelines, drug helplines, and dances, each set to backdrops of contemporaneous club, rare groove, jungle and house.
As much as anything, the set speaks to London’s inimitable, cultural variegation, charting the myriad voices and flavours that make up the city’s stylistic mosaic, and would go on to deeply inform British pop and dance culture for decades to come. It’s as thrilling as Sublime Frequencies’ best radio surveys, but with an extra layer of familiarity for UK listeners, not just those who lived thru that era, but anyone who had the radio crackling as ambient wallpaper during that era. Unfortunately I can only recall RTE or jingles for South Cleveland Garages on radio from this era in our gaff, but if you allow for some vicarious nostalgia, this tape documents a rich slice of the collective cultural memory that we’ve all come to share.
Next on YOUTH: Dave Saved with a long awaited debut album proper, a flickering, woozy set of atmospheric low-burners that draws lines between that recently reissued rEAGENZ pearl from Move D and Jonah Sharp, the tripped-out world-building of Gescom’s late night Disengage sessions, thru to the crackling, nostalgic embers of Burial and 0PN’s vaporous throwbacks, bleeding with a rarified, timeless poignance.
As far as this stuff goes; Abisso is about as good as it gets, aligning twelve variegated tracks united by hypnagogic themes crafted with attention to tone designed for optimal immersion in its almost amniotic fantasy scapes. It’s a nostalgic listen for sure, tapping into that primal obsession electronic music has had with technology, science fiction and futurism since its earliest iterations, but rendered here with enough modern materials and a forward facing disposition to save it from feeling overly anchored to the past.
The album moves at a dreamlike pace between the gently curdled lather of ‘Voices’ and the cosmic synth starlight of ‘Nella Notte’ (In The Night); passing from the noctilucent cloud structures of its gorgeous title track to the screwed thizz of ‘Collapsing Patterns,’ taking in the romantic swoon of ‘No name, about cities and red lips,’ along with what sounds like The Humble Bee meets BoC on ’Stanza 2,’ and a slippery, compressed take on early ‘90s chill out room sensuality with ‘Red Storm,’ while ‘Hands’ and ‘Soffio Del Clelo’ bring the album’s final section in orbit of 0PN’s sounds, both his KGBMan edits and soundtrack styles to come.
Lovers of atmospheric, classic electronic music from early BoC to Nimlook’s FAX transmissions to FSOL and 0PN should jump in without delay.
Trust Prurient to furnish the Documenting Sound series with its crankiest turn, relaying his experience of an out-of-sorts NYC via junk metal rudeness inspired by formative fascinations with cemeteries, Dada and surrealism, recorded on 4 track to TDK cassettes using internal feedback and field recordings made during day 70 of last year’s first lockdown.
No bones about it, ‘Gotham Steel Gardens’ physically conveys the grinding reality of 2020 and into whatever “new” world we’re heading into, a throwing bout of restless noise and location recordings of NYC's first responders, harking back to Fernow's pre-musical influences of dada and surrealism.
Recorded at a lofty height in Manhattan’s concrete jungle, the 20 minutes of brutally tangled, arrhythmic, atonal clangour are presented by Prurient as an echo of the previous financial crisis that saw financiers throwing themselves out of windows in buildings similar to his current residence. In convulsive form, shearing metal sounds are beaten out and ripped apart with internal feedback and turntables, before the soundfield opens right out to scenes of panic, joy and nagging sirens that connote the strange feelings of tension and elusive resolution that seemed to dictate all our lives not so long ago.
black midi’s new album, ‘Cavalcade’, is a dynamic, hellacious and inventive follow-up to 2019’s widely-praised ‘Schlagenheim’, “a labyrinth with hairpin-turn episodes and lyrics full of dourly corrosive observations” (New York Times, Best Albums Of 2019).
"‘Cavalcade’ scales beautiful new heights, pulling widely from a plethora of genres and influences, reaching ever upwards from an already lofty base of early achievements."
Ambient sound baths from Carmen Villain, moonlighting on Geographic North with a gorgeous follow-up to her track on the nocturnal 2020 suite ‘A Little Late Night Music’
Carmen Villain is best placed to spell out her take on a seasonal music for the Sketch For Winter series, offering a sublime half hour of sound-sensitive scenes that appear to reflect a transition from cold space to deliquescent thaw over the course of six gently paced, instrumental parts. Any followers of her works for Smalltown Supersound and the sentiments of last year’s ‘Affection in a Time of Crisis’ with Longform Editions will surely recognise the near-therapeutic levels of ambient bliss and understated melancholy that makes Carmen’s music such a delicate treat.
It sounds as though her Norwegian/Chilean spar, flautist Johanna Scheie Orellana reprises her role from the Longform Editions release on opener ‘Everything Without Shadow’, blowing wistful lines thru Villain’s richly evocative synth pads, before her narrator/sound designer skills leads the way from the padded snow crunch and sleety slosh of ‘Two Halves Touching’ like PInkcourtesyphone’s protagonist gone wandering around winter gardens. ‘Things That Are Solid’ follows to sustain the vibe with warmer baubles of synth melody as the textures feel to melt at the edges with ‘Agua Azul’, gently warmed by the arrival of supple percussion and the return of Orellana’s languorous flute.
Ooooosh! Pirate radio recordings made in Bristol between the late ‘80s to early ‘00s - the latest tape from Death Is Not The End, issued as part of the cherry-picked Blowing Up The Workshop series. It's a fucking goodun..
Celebrated for their archival dives into historic musical blindspots of the past 100 years, Death Is Not The End this time focus closer to home (and within our lifetimes) with what they describe as "A trip across the frequencies of Bristol's pirate radio stations via cut-ups of broadcasts, taken from the late 1980s to the early 2000s ~ also a love-letter to my childhood, an audio document of the years I spent growing up in the city.”
Traversing the dial from raucous soundclash recordings to Blues Dance soul, and taking in mighty blasts of jungle, wafts of warbling Indian music, and, of course, a f*ckload of dub and dancehall, its all spliced with a mix of heartrendingly sweet and hilarious radio phone ins and jingles = supremely heavy vibes.
Peachiest, far-flung picks from DJ Fitz, following the lead of Laila Sakini and M. Quake on the ace Purely Physical Teeny Tapes.
Perhaps best known for his DJ sets alongside the Wooden Wisdom duo of Elijah Wood (aye, that one) and Zach Cowie, Fitz is renowned to those in the know for his collection of nuggets. His first official mixtape for PPTT knows few boundaries, covering a fully dilated musical flow that takes in everything from synth secrets out of Mumbai to jazz fire from Poland and modal psych certain to perplex the diggers. It’s nowt less than a real pleasure to follow the soulful logic of his sequencing between continents, epochs and melancholy, grown-up emotions.
Like we said, you can go sing for the track-list, and it’s no doubt better to just let yrself get swept up on his magic ride from dusky ballads and hip-gripping oddities out of South America, to lilting Arabic reggae, drifting by midnight oases of vocodered blues and library-like psych cues thru the sweetest symphonic strings of unknown origin. In some some senses it can be heard to echo the wanderlust of CS + Kreme’s doozy for Reel Torque, or the mesmerising global picks of Chris Menist, but there’s a ribbon of soul that ties it together with a personal touch that feels like it was made just for you.
Duelling blues, simultaneously piquant and distorted, from one of Death Is Not The End’s few extant acts, following the label string of compilation pearls
Back for third servings after an eponymous debut and ‘Fayet’ in 2017, Torontonian siblings Kevin and Patrick Cahill pick out bittersweet, wayward blues on these 2020 recordings made in their home city and out by the lakes in Kirkfield. We’re not sure if they’re twins, but the Cahills appear to work at near subconscious, telepathic levels of familiarity with an ideal balance of stressed and lilting guitar tones in the first half’s table of events taking in almost Tuareg-esque desert blues in ‘Joujoux Est,’ while naturally spooling a sort of instrumental storytelling in ‘Automatic Biography,’ and the sorely expressive tone of ‘Cut Whole House Open.’ The other side initially offers lilting relief from the more caustic grip of their previous, committing to a strolling pace and rolling melodies but gradually becoming more porous to noise and angular, unpredictable as the piece moves deeper into the woods.
Subtropical, rhythmelodic fancies from Baltimore’s Jacober, who’s drummed for likes of Dan Deacon and Dope Body, and now furnishes Geographic North’s long-running Winter series
OK it’s spring in the northern hemisphere, but Jacober’s ’Setch for Winter X: Immortal Word’ feels right for spring downpours and current news reports of gargantuan icebergs calving and floating south. Using marimba and frosted electronics, he convects lush harmonics from his supple percussive gestures, suggesting serene scenes of beachcombing and shuffling over melodic shells and a breezy promise of warmer tomorrows.
“Immortal Word opens with “Four Horsemen”, rippling across an incoming tide of bubbling, frothing percussion and mirthful melody. “Toast” breaks through the misting, overcast skies with a pulsing, sifting rhythm and wide-eyed optimism. The album’s namesake, “Immortal Word” turns that positivity inward, exploring a pile of tuneful textures and playful phrases.
On the B-side, “Flashbacking” wafts through a vacated, shadow-lined boardwalk in a euphoric daze of unhurried movement. The cold gust that is “Witching Hours” reels itself upward in a reversed rain of dripping tones. Closer “Universal Sign” makes calm space to host a sort of moonlit seance, decked in a wistful cloud of peripheral synesthesia.”
Influenced by notorious psychonaut Timothy Leary's utopian vision of the future, 'SMI²LE - Space Migration, Intelligence Increase, Life Extension' is the third in JD Twitch's limited edition series of mixtapes for Optimo, this time deploying 90 minutes of cosmic jazz, lifted folk, deep-space electronix, android poetry and left-handed freek funk. Tabs out fer this one.
Back in the 1970s, acid evangelist Timothy Leary was convinced that by the new millennium, humans would have set aside conflict and colonized space. He believed that we'd be living in utopian micro-communities and would have perfected cloning technology, ending world hunger and scarcity. This might sound ridiculous now, but Optimo boss JD Twitch has used this idea to inform the direction of his latest mixtape.
Informed by the problematic neoliberal free market utopianism of Elon Musk, Twitch spins a wobbly story of 20th century elevated thought, puppeteering it with an arched 21st century eyebrow. Vintage sci-fi samples collide with blurry prog, time tunnel electronic experiments and luscious sacred jazz. Soundtrack snippets are spliced lovingly with wide-panned bleeps, blurts and disruptions, before vocal spirits spit from the outer realms. It's the kind of mix that reminds you why the artform can be so much more rewarding than an algorithmic playlist. Given the theme, it makes sense it's long too, like 200 micrograms of Albert Hoffman's finest - a temporal commitment. Strap in, turn up and tune out.
The third limited edition Michael J. Blood transmission is an indispensible 90 minute session feat all-original productions mixed and edited by Tom Boogizm (aka Rat Heart) on a fragmented soul tip, essential listening if yr into The Other People Place, Urban Tribe, Moodymann, Andrés, I:Cube.
Chasing up the project’s already-classic first two tapes ‘III’ trades in next level variants that lend a raggo Lancastrian boost to the kind of Detroit engines tuned by Andrés, Carl Craig and KDJ. Their bassbins are supremely bugged out with restless Cuban and Brazilian breaks, shot thru with wavey vocals and lit up with wickedly off-the-cuff riffs in a way that proves they’re no dilettantes, but the real deal example of how OG music from Detroit and Chicago has been deeply absorbed and mutated in translation by the rudest dons in the UK’s Industrial North, particularly from Manchester to Glasgow.
Once again MJB supplies Tom B with the goods, which he chops and pastes into 90 minutes of the most soulful, red-lining grooves, prone to get deep inside the loop and switch tempo with a mind-boggling, natural sass. It’s that combination of choice original material and a nerve riding, counter-intuitive mixing style that makes the project so unique, delivering one side of transitions between fractal techno jit jazz, rug-slicing clave patterns and FXHE-y sleaze, before messing with the meter on the B-side’s jerky slow/fast flex with spats of scatty jazz-house and warped ‘80s disco inspirations infiltrated by Sockethead’s fleeting vocals.
Our advice; grab anything u see by this lot.
‘Archive Series Volume no. 5: Tallahassee Recordings’ is the lost-in-time debut album from Iron & Wine. A collection of songs recorded three years prior to his official Sub Pop debut, ‘The Creek Drank the Cradle’ (2002). A period before the concept of Iron & Wine existed and principal songwriter Sam Beam was studying at ‘Archive Series Volume no. 5’ documents the very first steps on a journey that would lead to a career as one of America’s most original and distinctive singer-songwriters.
"‘The Creek Drank the Cradle’ arrived like a thief in the night with its lo-fi, hushed vocals and intimate nature, while almost inversely Tallahassee comes with a strange sense of confidence. Perhaps an almost youthful discretion that likely comes from being too young to know better and too naïve to give a shit. The recordings themselves are more polished than ‘The Creek Drank the Cradle’ and give a peak into what a studio version of that record might have offered up. ‘Archive Series Volume no. 5’ was recorded over the course of 1998-1999 when Beam and future bandmate EJ Holowicki moved into a house together. Beam had not been performing publicly however, he was known for playing an original song or two in the early morning glow of a long night. Holowicki - also in the film program and who would go onto a career as a sound designer at Skywalker Sound - had a mobile recording device and after some prodding convinced his friend to record these latenight meditations. Together they would record close to twenty-four songs, ideas and sketches, with EJ on bass and Sam on vocals, guitar, harmonica and drums.
The recordings - all captured in the house where they lived - have a ‘live in the room’ feel akin to say Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’ or Nick Drake’s ‘Five Leaves Left’, rather than the homespun lo-fi 4-track home recording experiment taking place at the time. These recordings, minus one track, have never been made available and were instead left preserved on a hard drive for the last twenty years. The one track that floated out there, called ‘In Your Own Time’ was shared without a title to childhood friend Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses) at some point. The song became known as the ‘Fuck Like A Dog’ song and Ben shared it with more than a few folks during the golden era of mix CDs. Two of those folks were Jonathan Poneman from Sub Pop and journalist Mike McGonigal, who included it on his best songs of 2001 mix CD, passed out to friends and acquaintances. And for many that is where the Iron & Wine story begins, until now. ‘Archive Series Volume no. 5’ is the foreword to your favourite book that you’ve somehow skipped over time and time again. It’s an alternative history mixed with some revisionist history told over the course of eleven songs. It’s also the debut record by Iron & Wine some twenty years after the fact."
A true mid-decade classic, Mica Levi's ‘Feeling Romantic Feeling Tropical Feeling Ill’ is available once again in this new edition featuring Matt Colton’s re-master and new artwork, for optimal absorption in its lush aetheric flux.
Issued somewhere between Mica Levi’s emergence in 2008, and their recent gush of solo and band releases with Curl and Good Sad Happy Bad, Mica wrote and recorded ‘Feeling Romantic Feeling Tropical Feeling Ill’ around about the time they were receiving award-nominations and resounding acclaim for their soundtrack to Jonathan Glazer film, ‘Under The Skin.’ Naturally it shares some of that OST’s tones and moods, but the results are far more febrile, lush rather than dark and tense, stitching together a tapestry like mixtape-cum-production showreel of curdled chamber pieces, shrugged hip hop, ambient flights of fancy and gorgeous snatches of strings recalling the intervals of Carl Craig and Derrick May’s seminal ‘Relics’ set going into what sound like early sketches for what would become Tirzah’s ‘Devotion’ album a few years later.
Replete with new, minimalist artwork symbolic of the album’s enigmatic nature, the record’s second wind is arguably ideally timed for the world’s current state of torpor and tentative anticipation, with 60 minutes of figurative, quietly perplexing, evocative melodies that work by inference as opposed to ever beating you around the head with a message. It’s peppered with some exquisite, often unexpected moments that arrive and recede into its matrix with uncanny logic that perhaps comes as close as you’ll get to living inside Mica’s iridescent, endlessly intriguing mind.
Influenced by Silver Apples, Beverly Glenn-Copeland and quirky vintage British TV show themes, Cosmic Neighbourhood's "All for Fall" is chirpy Radiophonic sound collage that basks in its self-conscious eccentricity.
Based in York, Adam Higton is an illustrator and musician who "documents the daily goings-on of the forest folk within the realm of the Cosmic Neighbourhood." If this sounds a little twee, then you should know what to expect: Higton makes vivid, technicolor sound collage music that owes as much to The Moomins and Bagpuss as it does BBC Radiophonic Workshop founder Daphne Oram. It's cheerful and psychedelic, juxtaposing twinkling strings and bells with stuttering synths and off-the-rails drum machine loops. Imagine a Ghost Box album being played thru Teddy Ruxpin and you'll be on the right track.
Following that crucial archival excavation of John Zieman’s New York City 1980-1984 recordings, NYC/Rio de Janeiro’s Confuso Editions return with a mad tape from Rio popstar-in-waiting Pedro Singery - tapping into the stuff dreampop is made of with a superb album for fans of Paddy McAloon et al
Easily one of the most puckered, pop tart debuts we’ve heard in a minute, ‘Death For Never introduces Rio de Janeiro’s Pedro Singery with a full formed, natty sound quite clearly inspired by the inventive, hauntological pop tekkers of Ariel Pink (ye ye, let’s not go there) and John Maus (again, smh) that emerged some decades ago, and equally their own influences ranging from pop-punk and new wave to video game soundtracks. It’s an instantly recognisable style, effortlessly executed and wrapped up with hooky ribbons.
Totally chiming with that John Zieman pearl, the Rio/NYC label cannily frame ‘Death For Never’ as “An anti-bossanova oddity”, which only captures half the story, as Singery’s styles speak a sort of shared childhood naivety for anyone who grew up between the ’80s and ’00s. His songs are flush with FM synth pads and drily sparky drum machine patterns that feel daft and nostalgic, but also stung with zaps of mumbly lyrical pathos in lines “I’m so fucking depressed with you” on the standout ‘Daylight Clubbers.’
One to watch this label.
Exael shares their experience of “early quarantine mania” ranging from anxious metaplasmic flux to brain-licking plongs and aching ambient shoegaze for our Documenting Sound series of lockdown missives.
Through a microcosm of solo work and collaborations, Naemi aka Exael has become locus to a new wave of prism-pushing electronic music producers over the past half decade. As member of Critical Amnesia, Ghostride The Drift, and Micro Incubus beside the likes of shy (uon), Huerco S., Perila, and Ben Bondy, among others, they’ve been pivotal in shaping a fractious new take on ambient and dance music paradigms, restlessly morphing styles and patterns with lysergic lucidity and a lush sense of modern psychedelia.
Their contribution to the Documenting Sound series is typically effusive and elusive, with smoked out and deep-moving tracks that convey the thrill of working with new gear, while also making room for their special sort of of ambient tactility. The first half unfurls gyring rhythms and shearing synth dynamics that feel like a padded adjunct to Rian Treanor’s disruptive impulses and the viscous twysts of Goooose, while the latter half is given over to cloud formations that echo their core sound with gorgeous pads and virtually windswept choral voices intent on soothing your nerves.
Exael and their cohort are making some of this era’s definitive electronic music, metaphorically reading the room’s needs for new ideas, more porous stylistic borders and a finer tuned emotional intelligence, safely edging us ever closer to the end of this now year-long series of audio documents.
Latest Warp signing Squid cobble together angular post-punk shards and drone rock fuzz.
Post-punk is one of those genres that never ceases to inspire young minds. Brit five-piece Squid sound curiously out of time with eight-minute drone funk rawk workouts that straddle shouty Television-cum-Public Image Limited universes and betray a youthful obsession with LCD Soundsystem. It might seem like odd move for Warp somehow, but should please anyone whose entry point into the label was Maximo Park or even before that, !!!.
Remember when people were banging on about Brexit and Tory rule being the touchpaper for a new creative explosion in the UK? Well, about that.
AJ Tracey assumes the character of a rising young basketball player appearing in a livestreamed press conference to reveal his next move: a lucrative deal with major franchise Revenge Athletic ahead of a crucial playoff game.
"The broadcast ends with the true reveal: AJ’s highly anticipated sophomore album ‘FLU GAME’ will finally arrive. Always pushing boundaries with his creative output, AJ’s campaign draws influence from the story of Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls team in the late 90s, with ‘FLU GAME’ referencing one of MJ’s most memorable championship games where he overcame a nasty bout of food poisoning (brought on by a dodgy takeaway pizza) and took the Bulls to the championship. Revenge Athletic are a franchise on the brink of a massive championship win and AJ is their new star. All we know for now is that AJ is about to take us into this new world, as he dons the number 10 jersey and states he’s “ready to get going [and] do what I’ve always done.”
‘FLU GAME’ sees AJ showcasing twelve brand new tracks, with tantalising features including Kehlani, T-Pain, SahBabii, NAV and Millie Go Lightly. On the production front, AJ calls on regular collaborators Nyge, The Elements, Kazza, AoD and Remedee. The project also features the UK Top Five singles ‘Bringing It Back’ with Digga D, ‘West Ten’' with Mabel and the Platinum smash ‘Dinner Guest’ featuring MoStack. AJ Tracey is a man on an unstoppable, independently built trajectory. 2020 was his biggest year to date, with (certified Gold) single ‘West Ten’ alongside Mabel landing in the wake of chart-scaling ‘Dinner Guest’ featuring MoStack (Platinum), Number 1 charity single ‘Times Like These’ (alongside Dua Lipa, Rag & Bone Man and The Foo Fighters) and the Platinum-certified TikTok sensation ‘Rain’ with Aitch, which went on to become the most watched UK YouTube video of 2020. AJ finished the year with a stand-out feature on Headie One’s enormous anthem ‘Ain’t It Different’ alongside Stormzy, a Platinum certified track that peaked at Number 2 in the UK Singles Chart."
Padre Himalaya drop a limited and unique mixtape from Portugals Tendency that runs the gauntlet from experimental computer music to drum & bass. Fans of Lee Gamble's NTS shows should check!
"Tendency is the most unique and challenging DJ in Portugal. For more than a decade, he's been developing a very liquid form of mixing, not only technically but most importantly, sonically, while creating a very melting, weird sounding mix of organic, sub-heavy frequencies, together with the high pitch aggressions of the early rave influenced computer music in the line of Florian Hecker and alike. While in some larger European cities other DJs and producers were developing this approach conceptually, Tendency (Solution back then) refined this utopic, post-digital, aesthetics in the packed dancefloors of a small, musically conservative local club culture, not very tolerant to anything but catchy, melodic, dancefloor friendly, sets. It all sounded very futuristic, alien... It also sounded inevitable - like if the mix of genres and influences he was creating were logical, and yet most would never think of mixing them together." Carlos Milhazes (Matéria Prima)
Mute re-tell the charming story of Telex, Belgium’s legendary disco band, with a peach-packed compilation of trimmed/remastered hits hailing a comprehensive reissue scheme on the horizon. File right up there next to Kraftwerk, YMO, The Human League, Vince Clarke
Best known for ocean-crossing anthem ‘Moscow Disko’, which was massive in USA and UK as well as their native lowlands; Telex’s Marc Moulin, Dan Lacksman, and Michel Mors created an influential legacy of playful, frothy disco and synth-pop that has hardly been bettered and, like the best of their era, has firmly withstood the test of time. ’This Is Telex’ marks their 30 years of skin in the game between formation in 1978, and their disbanding following the death of Moulin in 2008, with a carousel of picture perfect synth and electro-pop produced during the golden era when this sound marked a revolution in music production and popular culture.
Forefathers of a Belgian scene that would give the world Soulwax and Stroom, Telex made music with vim and humour and exacting style that would see them gain success everywhere from early Detroit warehouse parties to chic NYC clubs and diskotheeks at home. ‘This Is Telex’ works as an ideal primer for anyone unaware of their history, holding 14 cherrypicked examples of their sleek studio finesse and the kind of classic vocals that will - presuming you’re one of the unknowers - lay instant ohrwurms and have one wondering just how the chuff they’ve slept on them for so long.
If you’re young and fresh to the band, run go check their all-time evergreen ‘Moscow Disko’ (yep, that’s them!) or the perky ‘Twist à Saint-Tropez’ for starters, and maybe a shot of their Euro-bop bullet ‘Euro-vision’, or the lip-bitingly sharp Italo zinger ‘L’amour toujours’, and the Art of Noise-esque ‘Radio-Radio’ for high club frolics, while longer term heads may also keen to hear their previously unreleased twist on Sonny & Cher’s ’The Beat Goes On’, and The Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’ reset in Belgian chamber-pop synth style.
NPLGNN ushers a haunting existential reverie as the 4th release on Forever Now, the occasional and cult label he runs with Dave Saved.
Linking locality to the wider world and bigger questions, ‘Forever Till No More’ elides a chopped & screwed take on a Napolitan classic, with an English voice sampled from YouTube, pondering the question “Are you anybody’s favourite person?” It’s as simple as that, but the results are just strangely haunting, rearing up with the sound of imminent, trampling boots or distant mechanical percussion before slipping into the lushest sort of melancholia lodged somewhere between Leyland Kirby’s The Stranger alias and a washed out William Basinski.
Ultimately the piece gives way to a young person positing and answering their own question, with vulnerable yet redemptive results that speak to the release’s core theme; “How we live our inter-personal relationships and how we connect between each other in the era of decay of truth?” For our 2p it’s the subtlest and most affective work in NPLGNN’s small but singular catalogue of records attempting to find his place in the world thru the smeared lense of post rave trauma.
Calling all hardcore! The Death of Rave’s Conor Thomas wheels back to '92-'04 on the 2nd volume of 3 x triple tape packs traversing the hardcore ‘nuum, expanding on his 2016 mixtape as The Smoking Man for MBE with 4 hours+ of high calibre breakbeat hardcore, jungle, D&B, and breakcore
Where the original MBE mix, ‘The Smoking Man 2002-2004’ dwelled on the sound of free parties and warehouse sessions in Manchester - back when he was unwittingly compared to the titular X-Files character - ‘The Smoking Man Redux’ nods to the pivotal, 3-part X-Files storyline with a labyrinthine expansion spanning helter-skelter hardcore thru to jungle percies, darkside D&B and the raggo breakcore which fuelled his early raving days around Northern England during the early ‘00s.
Also leading down the timeline from his ‘Reel Torque Volume Douzzze Part Deux’ mix, the tempo picks up to 150bpm, and much faster, across a stack of tunes dusted down and rediscovered during lockdown. The first tape runs from ’92 to ’95, channelling a rush of energy from early rave anthems thru Gurn-force breakbeat and junglist depth charges. Tape 2 follows from gangsta jungle steez to high pressure rollers, Reese bass tear-outs and pitch black tech-step, with a 3rd tape gunning hard for his love of late ‘90s and early ‘00s breakcore and drill ’n bass - the good stuff, not the shite, though.
Part historiographic, mostly chronological, and all properly up for it, the ruff ’n ready mix is intended as a love letter to a certain cross-section of the hardcore rave spirit, from its nutty to lush and darkside styles, hopefully raking up tunes that have been lost to mangled memories and the shifting sands of style and pattern. Warning: side effects may include bruxism, dilated pupils, bouncing off the walls or keeling face-first into mud.
Batida auteur DJ Nigga Fox serves a brilliantly twysted workout session of fluid-limbed styles compatible with classic US garage, deep house, Amapiano and the freshest Príncipe vibes, minted on limited edition tape hand painted by the don Márcio Matos.
Following from his crackshot debut album ‘Cartas Na Manga’ (2019), and going on in the nutty vein of his standout 2017 session ’15 Barras’ - one of the most inventive producers in all of electronic music here opens new paths into a sort of Angolan-Portuguese rhythmic psychedelia that simply sounds like nothing else. OK, it may be compatible with strains of Amapiano and rootsy US deep house, but there’s an effortless bendiness and irresistible lilt to the styles on ‘Live Nigginha Fox’ that are unique to the hyperlocal, Lisbon-based scenius that he’s been instrumental in building and expanding for the past decade.
Switching on with a gulf stream of breezy G-funk leads and grubbing subs, the groove takes hold and does not let go for over half an hour, furling syncopated breaks with scudding stabs and dub chords in a lissom parry that slinks between the beats in a way that recalls a melted parallel to South African Amapiano and the furthest reaches of Ron Trent’s sumptuous, rhythm-lead sound designs. Most crucially, there’s no tricks or stunts, just a mean sense of concentrated, heads-down and eyes-shut minimalism for the dancers to properly get into.
Following the lo-swung mayhem of his 'Introducing’ salvo a few weeks back, Tom Boogizm’s Rat Heart takes off in a completely different direction for this brilliantly bruised followup. Gone are the skits and squashed percussive percolators, in come washed out chorus pedal guitar shimmers somewhere between The Durutti Column and Cocteau Twins' ‘Otterley’, wrapped up in the room-recorded/found sound haze of Bark Psychosis’ still untouchable Scum, as well as the messed up energy of classic Wolf Eyes. Yeah it’s not what we expected either, but f*ck it’s good.
Tapping deep into a vein of urban blooz, Rat Heart rouses the ghosts of The Durutti Column and countless Whalley Range loners in ‘Impressions 4 Guitar + Broken Tascam.’ Restricting himself to guitar, samples and FX, the two sides yield the scuzziest and most emotive heartsore strums we’ve heard this year, saturated by claggy air and crackling infidelities, feeling out a plangent, flatland sound that echoes the feel of life in the enchanted inner city suburb.
His first side greets with the uncanny sound of life at a distance with pealing harmonic partials, slowly sinking into a sort of lushly faded doldrums that aligns the high ceiling peal of Vini Reilly with the burned out feel of Demdike Stare & Jon Collins’ collabs, and also presents a sort of ‘Last Wigan Hero’ to James Ferraro’s ‘Last American Hero.’ The B-side only hits deeper, collapsing the high ceiling sound to ratty low life levels with murky chords cutting the clag like a kebab sword, before a guttural belch tilts it into totally blasted hypnagogia and, ultimately, a needling coda of skull scrape distress frequencies.
Our advice: don’t miss any Rat Heart gear, we’re telling ya.
Lovely, light-headed Japanese ambient gestures from Yama Yuki, presenting their first physical release with Good Morning Tapes after a turn for Cafe Oto’s Takuroku download series of lockdown recordings - RIYL Nozomu Matsumoto, Laurel Halo, Harry Hosono, Maxwell Sterling.
Born in Japan but now based in São Paolo, Yama Yuki arrives with a modest yet accomplished sound on what is only their sophomore release. In a user-friendly style familiar to all Good Morning Tapes, ‘Inverted Cities’ plays out Yuki’s memories of travel between myriad futuristic city landscapes. From fleeting memories of billboards advertising electronics in Ciudad del Este, to the infinitely expanding shopping malls of Manila, and old seaside streets in Montevideo; a world of influence is absorbed and transmuted into optimistic projections of those city’s sights, scapes and soundspheres, adding up to a lush treasure map of dreams and hopes.
Each piece’s title acknowledges the city that inspired it, gently uprooting the listener and taking them between a recollected and reimagined Philippines with the airborne tone of ‘Manila 2033’, to the humid whirligig of ‘Manaus 2041, the heart-lifting trip to the near-future of ‘Jakarta 2025’, thru the lofty heights of ‘Montevideo 2050’ reminding of Nozomu Matsumoto’s Sustainable Hours’, visiting Ethiopia with the frothed bleeps and 0PN-esque turns of phrase in ‘Lalibela 2042’, and via a standout moment in the deliquescent ambient jazz fusion of ‘Casablanca 2033’, all making fine use of synth presets much in the same manner Maxwell Sterling used library stock on his ‘Hollywood Medieval’ beauty.
New mixtape from Demdike Stare featuring their own - all previously unheard and unreleased - productions, edits and mixes based around an obsession with drum machines and classic Muzic Box/Ron Hardy/Poindexter/Lil Louis vibes, assembled in typically scuzzed & fucked style.
‘Drum Machines’ sequences an hour of studio fragments in a killer stop/start stream of Roland shrapnel and gnarled samples, done with a freehanded style that surely betrays their influences running from Mage-like Detroit artist Anthony Shakir to garage house pioneer Todd Terry and the ruinous patterns of Aaron Dilloway. It’s Demdike at their loosest, freakiest, and inventive best, all blessed by a jump-cut sleight-of-hand familiar to earlier Mark Leckey soundtracks; yano it’s just deadly!
From the stereo-phasing intro of a German Intercity train engine, re-engineered to play a musical scale as it speeds up and departs, to pockets of obliterated scuzz and sizzling Millsian rug-cutting, it sounds like they had a load of craic making ‘Drum Machines.’ Their aforementioned, modded Roland TR-606 is the constant, if fractured, backbone for a proper rass-out session, twisting into recursive wormholes and spat out on the other side into scenes of gurning joyriders in a car park, or dropping a hip into swingeing machine funk hustle that craftier DJs would be wise to chop out and use in their own sets. It even contains samples of Sean’s notorious arrest for possession (lolz)
What a madness?
Yeah this one’s a bit special; selected and arranged by Jack Rollo and Elaine Tierney, ‘Ballads’ is a waking-dream meander through beautiful, romantic, weird, exotic, intimate, un-categorisable music that shouldn't go together but yet somehow makes complete sense, offering a sort of spiritual life-enhancement in the process. It’s a bit like discovering a portal to long forgotten memories that fill you with nostalgia but also the thrill of the new - disorientating, but also a reminder, once again, that music = life.
A Colourful Storm’s Fleetway Tapes seems to have already become the ideal place for skilled musical storytellers to flex their muscle, and on ‘Ballads’ the London-based duo turn their attention to the classic storytelling category of songcraft with the mix of forensic digging and poetic arrangement that has made their long-running NTS show a cult hit for many. Spanning a literate and cinematic world of sound with signature delicacy, they conjure a far flung and totally absorbing set whose track-listing remains impenetrable, and may well drive diggers to a tizzy. Suffice to say; numerous pearls lie within.
Sung in myriad tongues, the ballads range from the romantic and sentimental to the abstract and instrumental, spieling yarns that may not be fully understood, but whose atmosphere, pacing, and seductive vibe is unmistakable.
What a stunner?
Quietly majestic, therapeutic synth plumes from Zaheer Gulamhusein’s Xvarr alias, returning to the fray on his Twin Womb label after a few fallow years since his still haunting turns for Good Morning Tapes
‘Posism’ takes its cue from Paschal Beverly Randolph, and turns that inspiration into a swirling suite of spirited synth music comparable to aspects of Coil, Abul Mogard and Kevin Drumm. As anyone who has encountered Xvarr’s music before will surely attest; he’s a low key, if overlooked, visionary of modern synth music whose music taps into rarer states of mind.
His latest is patently blessed with this appeal at its most elusive yet absorbing, and with a sense of strung out melancholy that’s very much attuned to the zeitgeist, perhaps understandably so as it was produced during 2020 “as a means of communication between two individuals grappling with reality.” The other ‘entity’ in this formulation is not disclosed to us - perhaps a physical being, or perhaps a sort of psychopomp or spirit akin to Coil’s ELpH - but either way they lend a depth of presence to the music that appears to speak from beyond, and pushes the work into increasingly perplexed, abstract and uncertain terrain by the journey’s end.
One for the deeper synth nauts.
Optimo don JD Twitch shifts his frame of reference to Japanese techno-pop and synth prototypes in an enchanted 2nd instalment of his highly collectible lockdown mixtape series.
Following a sterling session of goth and wave cuts, Twitch rifles his collection for an influential epoch of plugged-in Far Eastern styles, further illuminating a period which has long been an enduring source of inspiration for the Glasgow-based collector and DJ, and has seen a lot of attention via reissues and YouTube algorithms in recent years. Trust your man mostly eschews the more ubiquitous examples of this sound in favour of obscurities and percies, following a silvery thread of inspiration that ties up 90 minutes of cinematic glyde and unusual, puckered grooves.
Anyone quick enough to snag a copy will be supplied with a whole other world to inhabit, beautifully sequenced for beguiling, theatric effect. Expect a lusher A-side focus on the synthy cinematic matters, and a B-side trip into technoid city-pop, laden with dreamlike vocals and wayward disco grooves bound to peck to diggers’ heads. In other words; a real pleasure.
Low Jack’s Editions Gravats return with Johann Mazé’s enchanting suite of driftmode concrète poetry, packaged in suitably grand boxset, hand-painted by artist Tiphaine Buhot-Launay and recommended if yr into work buy Luc Ferrari, Lionel Marchetti, Ghédalia Tazartès.
Leading down the jardín path from Mazé’s action on ‘L’homme à Zéro’ by France Sauvage in 2019, the french sound artist now appears as a peripheral presence on ‘Gérard’, which combines interviews, field recordings, poetry and fleeting passages of music, to frame an intimate tribute to a childhood friend of Mazé’s father - the eponymous Gérard. In the style of Gravats’ ’Saudi’ tape box by Krikor Kouchian, the medium plays a crucial part of the message here, with a hand-crafted package of tape and postcards that permits the user access to a private, other world unto itself.
For almost an hour, occasionally prompted by Mazé, Gérard speaks about the bliss of nature while surrounded by the verdant lushness of his garden in Paimpol, on the Brittany coast. With passion and humour Mazé speaks at length about his interests, often breaking off into laughter, with passages of speech punctuated and overlapped with the sounds of his peacocks and hens, and augmented by dabs of organ melody and fizzing drum machine patter.
It’s really as simple as that; on one level recalling the way Luc Ferrari or Lionel Marchetti divine the poetic from the prosaic, and on another, more instinctive level, reminding of warm days in the countryside with good company chatting about nature, philosophy and whatever else comes to mind - and who can sniff at that in the current climate of perpetual housebound darkness?