Not Waving & Romance turn heads into candyfloss with this sublime full-length opus, a keenly awaited follow-up to that Romance tape of mottled modern classical loops that sold out in an hour at the end of last year. If you’re looking for a smudge of blissed ambient in the vein of The Caretaker’s ‘Persistent Repetition Of Phrases', classic Stars Of The Lid, or even Arve Henriksen’s sublime ‘Chiaroscuro’, this is it.
Identified as a consummate collaborator in recent years on records with Jim O’Rourke, Mark Lanegan and Jay Glass Dubs; Alessio Natalizia aka Not Waving is now found at his most amorphous alongside Romance - an enigmatic figure who appeared from outta nowhere with that stunning ‘You Must Remember This’ tape in late 2020, and now lends their midas touch to the nine immaculate pieces on ‘Eyes Of Fate.’ It’s ambient music of a genuinely rarified, elevated calibre, or what the duo tongue-in-cheek term “mythological, Old Testament ambient”, a phrase which signifies a pointedly classicist approach comparable with seminal records by The Caretaker/Leyland Kirby, Brian Eno and SOTL, but with results that also coolly resonate with the modernist realm of castles in the sky ambient inhabited by the likes of Malibu, Kareem Lotfy or AYYA.
The duo’s first recordings explore the fertile territory between secular and religious music that has long fascinated them, and perhaps most poignantly in an age when allegories of the divine and existential bliss and terror are felt most acutely. Using a palette of choral voices looped and diffused into the ether, they recall The Caretaker’s dank parlour ambience in ’Tropic of Desire’, but equally make room for more grandiose statements in ‘While My Heart Is Still Beating’ and ‘Visions of Light’ reminding of GAS at his stateliest, while vignettes such as ‘Sleepers, Awake!’ are redolent of the intervals to Carl Craig and Derrick May’s ‘Relics.
Gloomy bubbling electronic power ambient and icy piano variations that hover between Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto's sparse minimalism and Tim Hecker's popular harmonic density.
Using rare instrument the Yamaha CP-70, an electroacoustic piano with built-in pickups, EQ and a tremolo effect, Stockholm-based composer Hara Alonso blends ambient textures with prickly minimalism and subtle dancefloor elements. On opener 'Desnuda', she juxtaposes her painstakingly slow piano work with rolling rhythmic glitches and white noise, but as the album develops the sounds build into glitchy rhythmic experiments ('Reversed Rain'), subtle dubby 4/4 ('40 Days of Silence') and thrumming granular ambience ('The Work of Poetry'). It's not particularly fresh, but it's expertly done all the same.
A keeling second dose of pirate radio advert rave excavations from Death Is Not The End, culling 40 more relics from the London airwaves c. 1984-1993.
Unless you’ve gone full hermit during lockdown and cut the internet conx, the first volume of this stuff has already gained cult status, covered in national media and coveted by ravers looking for any form of classic buzz. This 2nd set features a further 40 vignettes from the golden daze of rave, with voices flogging everything from datelines to “tasty leather jackets”, 25K turbo sound rigs, and, quite cannily, ads for throwback rare groove parties that kinda show certain UK ravers have always had one misty eye over the shoulder to a “golden era” when it was just better than it is now.
If we’re playing favourites, the blown out jungle rush of ‘Monster Soundsystem’ is right up there, along with some lass appearing to mimic M*ggie Th*tcher on House FM’s ‘Legal Pulse’ ad, the X-amount of flange on the Fantasia promo ’NYE ’93’, a spine-freezing ’Stunning Dimension’ rave flier, and most definitely the Scouse lass flogging “Tasty Leather Jackets” (well i’ll tell ya, it’s bad!). Despite that Today Programme feature doing its best to cover it all in a sneering/sexless/overly polite sheen, it’s completely undeniable that this stuff is just pure gold, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Death Is Not The End for putting the work in to get it all compiled.
Nyege Nyege Tapes showcase their diverse, inventive strengths with a full spectrum, 47-track motherload of material by label regulars and friends.
‘L'Esprit de Nyege 2020’ is a body-wobbling testament to the Ugandan label’s scope and integral links to East, Central and South African musics that the label has been disseminating to the wider world for the last 5 years. In that time, they've released thrilling Tanzanian Singeli, swingeing Bugandan drum batteries, ritual circumcision soundtracks, Kenyan grindcore - not to mention the rest - all of which can be found in this epic 3+ hour package, sequenced beside mutual spirits ranging from Kuduro stars RS Produções and Blacksea Não Maya, Indonesian mentalists Gabber Modus Operandi, and a stack of new artists ripe for discovery.
The set specifically relates to the label’s 2020 activities, when their revered annual festival was cancelled and instead took place online as a 96+ hour extravaganza. We’re seriously spoilt for choice with the all killer/no filler selections, notably including a mystic bewt by Duma at the front, ‘Cape to Cairo’, and Gabber Modus Operandi’s take on Tanzanian styles in ‘Mencuri Singeli’, while MVP Slikback serves the stunning Congo tekno of ‘Vein’ and we can practically smell the BBQ in the live festival recording of HHY & The Kampala Unit.
Singeli heads will be buzzed to hear heat from scene pioneer Bamba Pana, plus new names such as MC Kadilida and DJ Travella, and the likes of Mali’s DJ Diaki keep the pace recklessly UP alongside DJ Finale’s piquant percolator, while the pivotal South African scene gives up darkside Gqom mutations from DJ Menzi, Phelimuncasi, DJ Skothane, and DJ MP3, complemented by Kuduro sizzlers such as RS Produções Afro-Indo gem ‘Ansiedade’ and the murky meditation of ‘Reborda’ by Blacks Não Maya. Factor in inimitable business from Elvin Brandhi & Eckobass, stone cold rap from Boutross and NNSS-KHX05, EQ Why’s night-riding footwork, and the nutty Kizomba of Le Meilliur, and you’ve got enough to see you good until the festival’s next edition.
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.
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.
Hanne Lippard draws us into her unique soundworld, narrating life in Paris through an un-sentimental but ultimately deeply moving audio diary, making use of seemingly humdrum observations for a layered, phonetically mesmerising work of art apt for this anomalous time.
If you’re new to Lippard’s work; she’s a conceptual artist of some significant acclaim, usually concerned with the mechanics of language and meaning. Her ‘Work’ album last year was our first introduction, an unusual collection of spoken texts playing on what she calls ‘degenerate, or “b-language” - things like autoresponders, FAQ’s, social media posts, bot-generated spam mail etc. Part social commentary, part visual poetry, it lingered in the mind thru some linguistic voodoo we couldn’t quite fathom, and has been on regular rotation since.
In contrast, ‘PigeonPostParis’ plays like a ramblin’, diaristic travelogue; Hanne observes and navigates Paris through a summer of lockdown, following a train of thought starting from a newfound appreciation of pigeons, to the restlessness of daily life in a small apartment, and the difficulties of understanding, and being understood, when speaking french - a language that doesn’t care for the first letter of her first name - with a mask on.
Where ‘Work’ drew from the digital realm, PigeonPostParis ponders the world just outside her window - pigeon’s shagging - to gain a new perspective on the city’s detested/beloved air rats. But that’s just the conceptual touch paper for a stream of consciousness, fringed with the sounds of everyday life under lockdown, from the violence of a passing skateboard to an ironic lick of the Amélie theme, intertwined with a precise, alliterative investigation of her own physical, spiritual displacement.
Once you peer through the syntax, you discover existential blisters. Hanne distills our - mood - in a way that never feels sentimental, mirroring the way our thoughts have tended to meander late at night, after weeks of barely interacting with anyone - honing in on mundane details, then big important ones. Let’s quickly move past those.
Five years since their mix of Belgian New Beat++, ‘Reel Torque Volume Douzzze’, Conor Thomas finally supplies an unsolicited, 4 hour-long follow up and finds themselves weirdly writing in the third person again.
Returning to a cradle of late ’80s European dance music, the mix starts out in Belgium but sprawls out to encompass that sound’s contemporaneous parallels in the UK, and its influences from US dance music - mooching between myriad strains of early techno, acid house, EBM, Latin freestyle, bleep, proto hardcore and rave music, proper. It covers oddball cuts that didn’t make it to the first mix, plus a stack of new acquisitions including rucks of reissues that have been mercifully ticked off the wants list over the interim, all sequenced into a kind of fantasy, semi-uchronic session that aims to forge obvious, and oblique, links between the house and body music diaspora of the mid-‘80s to early ‘90s.
The mixing itself owes a lot to the experience of DJing regularly at The White Hotel, Salford since its inception (circa release of the first mix.) Depending what night and stage of the moon, one might catch Conor locked into a timewarp playing this sort of lark, and the selection is presented in thru takes - warts ’n all - but users may be able to smudge out the creases and better get into it with a few bevs and bifters. In that sense, and in light of the current dearth of IRL rave, it’s arranged long and unyielding for home use; building momentum with one tape of Belgian new beat suds and hard beat mutations, before checking links between early acid house and the UK’s free-rave scene, threading Miami and NYC freestyle mutations to bezzerker industrial, and checking for Detroit EBM edits alongside SoYo and Manc bleep pressure, plus a barrage of mentasm-laced breakbeat nuttiness.
Currently sequestered in the Boro gridiron, Conor intends this to be the first in a series of mixtapes spanning roots and branches of the “hardcore ‘nuum”, so long as he can hear the tunes over his neighbour’s turbo folk sessions, and stop thinking in the third person, ‘cos it’s weird as fuck!
Nyege Nyege back with a tape-only mix of screwed Afrobeat and Naija anthems by Jesse Hackett, Lord Tusk and Mariano Chavez; rugged, impressionistic, psychedelic expressions of Kampala nightlife highly recommended if yr into DJ Screw, Zuli, Andy Stott...
Firmly established among NNT’s weirdest and most watchable units, Metal Preyers slug screwed anthems on their killer 2nd mixtape for the central/east African powerhouse. Responsible for some of 2020’s strangest highlights with their eponymous debut, plus a single-sided 12” and the ‘Preying Well’ mixtape, the project now gathers their late night energies at a wickedly knackered slant across two sides of original compositions patched into a snaking tale of psychedelic torment and grouching grooves that pick up where they left off, deep in the underbelly of Kampala after dark.
Under the cryptic title of ‘432+’, a grippingly slow sequence of events and smeared styles occur, following an elusive thread of sozzled logic between bleary ballads, drag-mode Afrobeat bangers, and absolutely killer patches of splayed drill drums, into more gutturally psychoactive, bad-belly turns of digital distortion and smeared Naija anthems that make way for viscous R&B and dematerialised noise.
Quite simply, nobody else is making this kind of concentrated crud right now, striking the most vital balance of daring impressionism and rugged, druggy function that can’t help but suck listeners into its surreal temporality and psychedelic weltanschauung.
Shadowy cinematic doom-synth weirdness from Barn Owl drone dude Evan Caminiti. If Sunn O))) recorded an album at the GRM studios we'd imagine it wouldn't be far from this...
Drone veteran Evan Caminiti recorded "Autoscopy" using the grand Serge modular at EMS in Stockholm and managed to eke out low-end drones so thick they'll turn your stomach. It's truly ominous, deeply unsettling material, put together for London filmmaker Claes Nordwall's "Autoscopy", a short film about a young man's hallucinatory voyage in an abandoned floatation tank. This makes sense to us: the sounds are just psychedelic enough to inspire the kind of reaction you'd hope would accompany this kind of source material without ever relying on tired soundtrack tropes.
Caminiti takes his years of experience with ambient music, psych rock and drone and channels it into a short selection of cues that aren't afraid to experiment with form, but never lose that all-important sense of cinematic grandeur. The Serge synthesizer's thick, brassy wobble is fleshed out with glassy wavering electric guitar scrapes, dissonance layered on top of an epic wall of sub. It's so fitting given the subject matter: dark and foreboding, isolating and unsettling, but never without beauty.
In a white hot blast of synthetic light and bone-splintering rhythms, Holy Similaun intends to interrogate the notion of safe spaces for their return to Florence’s OOH-Sounds
“Following the aphex-blessed En-To-Pan and the recent ep Hegenrax [OOH-014] Holy Similaun goes further in its intimate and personal musical discourse with Ansatz [attempt / approach] to investigate uncertainty and the mutation of our "safe spaces”.
Extremely dilated fades, intermitted structures, massively warped voices, blasting industrial distortions and gaming sound effects populate the synthetic environments of a not-necessarily dystopian post-something, multifaceted and porous. The feel is that of a soundtrack for a present future, inspired to the narrative naivety of anime.
Holy Similaun seems to frame its attention on the matter between and around standard musical objects—rhythm, melody to name two— overturning normal hierarchies and apparently reorienting the listeners towards the scenery rather than the ‘action’. The voids, the gaps, the structural falls and the physical impact of sounds are the core of that "negative space" in constant change.
Ansatz leaves a sense of the unfinished—distant ambient mutant techno echoes in a Neo-Tokyo-3 soundscape.”
Telas is Nicolás Jaar's 6th full length album, and follows Cenizas from earlier this year.
"Telas (Veils) is multiple things at once. It's a visual terrain created by artist Somnath Bhatt. It's a record by Nicolás Jaar, with key contributions from Milena Punzi (cello), Susanna Gonzo (voice), Anna Ippolito & Marzio Zorio (instrument makers), and Heba Kadry (mastering). It's a digital terrain created by Abeera Kamran where the sounds and illustrations of Telas live in their primordial states. The site was imagined by Abeera, Somnath and Nicolás as a panspermic terrain where no matter -whether existing in thought, physical form or other- has a solid or unmovable origin.
Multiple parts of the music were first played during two shows at The Kitchen in NYC in the fall of 2017, alongside performances by Africanus Okokon and Patrick Higgins."
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?
Another highlight of Ascetic House’s newr batch, Der Kindestod expresses strains of darkroom sleaze, fractal trap soul, and gnarled digital n0!ze, alongside a rrattering bam remix by False Witness
‘Orion I Want You’ is the follow-up to Der Kindestod’s debut for Rabit Halcyon Veil in 2018. Since that release they also teamed with Rabit for a killer remix of House of Kenzo, making this their vital 2nd appearance on Ascetic House. It’s a proper pick ’n mix of styles, taking in a pensive, combustible techno trampler ‘Everything And Nothing’ and the absolute ecto-mode banger ‘A Little Bit’ from the top shelf of horny mid ‘90s house fantasies for a blistering start. But it starts to crumble around the edges into filthier mutations with the stumbling gabber noise of ‘OYFN’, and some deeply weird fractal soul jam in ‘By Your Side’, with Berlin’s False Witness taking it back to the ‘floor via a slamming techno remix.
Big Scraps leans heavily into mid ‘00s road rap in a crucial follow-up to his ‘Now Thats Wot I Call Drill’ mixtape for Tom Boogizm’s Shotta Tapes
Throwing back to the era parallel to grime which birthed the likes of Giggs and laid the groundwork for UK Drill, Big Scraps’ 2nd mixtape burns thru dozens of slow, brooding bangers mostly produced and voiced south of the river in Peckham and Brixton, but also from Hackney and Tottenham in London’s north and eastern ends. At the time, the tunes were mostly disseminated via CDs or the likes of Channel U (and then YouTube), arriving as a properly UK-styled, dibble-bothering answer to US rap that more than made up for years of LARPing UK “Hip Hop”.
Big Scraps knows the style and racks up some of the cruddiest cuts from that period right here, packing tonnes of chat and red-eyed sluggers patently skooled in contemporaneous US rap styles, but articulated with a road level UK rufige that’s distinguished from its cousin, grime, by its tempos and flows, and likewise from the myriad wannabe Eminems from Nottingham or the home counties who made up the UKHH scene prior this epoch. Trust the bars are mucky as fuck and perhaps should be approached with caution by more conscious beans.
Next up on Felix Hall’s Chrome label; a killer C90 mixtape of B-More classics on one side, and up-to-minute rap, dembow, and outernational mutations on the flip.
Arriving hot on the heels of a B2B tape with Skee Mask, Simo now switches modes to rack up one side of rudest B-More bangers, backed with a properly up-to-the-minute B-side plotting a path from wavey French and US rap to Congo tekno mutations and warped dembow heat. If listeners need any more persuasion that Simo is one of french dance music’s finest exports, this mixtape is it.
Primed for anyone who has just done the Wire boxset during lockdown, the first side cues up a cherry-picked ruck of raw-ass Baltimore club zingers from the sound’s ‘90s heyday. Packing tonnes of dirty south call-and-response lyrics, fizzing breaks, and Miami-style bass, the B-More sound was effectively the rugged US parallel to UK hardcore, and Simo follows the likes of Finn and Dress 2 Sweat to portray the niche regional style at its party-starting best here, leading to a run of compatible, contemporaneous club killers.
Flipside, he gets craftier on a slow/fast flex, zig-zagging from road-ready rap to outernational aces and alomst autechre-compatible rhythmic heaters, before simmering the vibe from heavy rap crud to jaw-slapping steppers and slippery diffractions of dembow currents perfected for the instant rewind.
FWD pressure from DivPro, chucking their hat in the ring with Gábor Lázár and Rian Treanor styles on a scything set of garage warpers for indomitable US label Ascetic House
Impressive for a first effort at the least, ’Surge’ wears DivPro’s influences clear and present, to the extent that the pinging 2-stepping structures of ’Surge’ and ‘Glitter’ could easily be mistaken for a Lázár production. But a little closer inspection perhaps betrays a closer knowledge of UK mechanics under the hood, especially in the Terror Danjah-like gremlinoid voices that pepper the grimy flex of ‘Sapsan Bounce’, and the natty nod to Youngstar in ‘Pulse DP.’
Killer stuff. One to watch!
Cellist, composer & sound artist Leila Bordreuil takes us to the bowels and liminal spaces of a deserted NYC during the summer months of lockdown, with contrasting works of tempestuous and sorely enervated nature, played on location in the subway at the Ralph Avenue subway stop in Brooklyn - complete with passing trains, people and the tension in the air, plus a resonance/frequency headmelter performed on cello, ruined piano and electronics on the flip. If yr into anything from Arthur Russell to Lea Bertucci, this one's a must.
For Documenting Sound, Leila supplies a richly evocative pair of performances recorded in a near-abandoned subway station (Ralph Avenue) and the hallway of her apartment block in Bedstuy, Brooklyn, with a grippingly stark edge that owes as much to the city’s history of jazz as it does to experimental classical forms, much in the vein of her exceptional ‘Headflush’ album from 2019 that we’re still trying to wrap our heads around two years later.
On ‘For Tamio’ Leila pays tribute to her most recent collaborator, Tamio Shiraishi, whose late night performances at the Spring Street subway, 10 stops away from Ralph Avenue, have greatly inspired her own approach to capturing and playing with resonance in the subway. For just shy of 20 mins, and accompanied by an incidental conductor who was residing in the station, she makes the air burn and buckle with a combustible grasp of loud/quiet dynamics and keening discord that has us seat-edge by the end.
In contrast, ‘Past Continuous’ on the other side operates at barely perceptible levels of tonality, working in the liminal space of her building’s hallway and positioned to its old, upright piano as a sort of resonator, with brick placed on the pedal to create hallucinatory, ghostly overtones and one colossal sub underneath that speaks to the anxiety dreams of a megatropolis in stasis.
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?
The enigmatic allure and environmental tragedy of Arctic regions provides impetus to Frederikke Hoffmeier (Puce Mary) and Jesse Sanes’ 2nd set of collaged tapestry as Free The Land
Also recording as JH1.FS3 and Fejhed in recent years, the duo now return to the project that supplied a highlight of Ascetic House’s 2018 release schedule with ‘Global Ecophony: Audio Transmissions From The Exhibition.’ Their aesthetic palette remains similar to their previous one on ‘Arctic Freedom’, comprising vocal snippets, field recordings and original synthesis, but is arranged in a more precise and variegated manner that’s less impressionistic and more figurative, from the descriptive track titles to the physical presence of their recordings.
’Svalbard Global Seed Bank’ starts out like a tourist trip to the important Norwegian facility, but soon turns more anxious and impending with its detailed, Chris Watson-esque rearrangement of location samples and textured synthesis, setting a more intricate template that they trust into a sort of Brinkmann-like minimal bleep techno on ‘gas-emission craters of the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas’, whereas ‘Permafrost Loss and bacillus anthracis outbreak in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug’ evokes a more menacing, encroaching sort of evil, and ‘The essential goal of human beings is to transcend, not dominate the biological, with a view toward bringing a new input: consciousness’ seeps with ancient sounding whistles, whimpering huskies and mottled AI voices that hint at some sort of spiritual gnosis.
Febrile, cut-up phantasies from new figure/s on Ascetic House, gushing with mutant energy comparable to likes of Elvin Brandhi, Gonçalo F. Cardoso, or a lo-fi Arca
Arriving with no background info, 266SX’s debut delivers a head-swilling blast of free-handed sampledelia and body-gurning synthesis with a wickedly unpredictable logic. Part of an ace new batch from Ascetic House, the deepest dwelling worms of the American underground, the seven cuts fit perfectly awkwardly in their catalogue with a tumbled mix of psychedelic Latin nous and naturally avant instinct that leads into some pretty fucking weird creases of sound; from bit crushed choral croaks, thru shattered kaleidoscope twysts on ‘Spartan’, to fractal wormholes of deconstructed dance music in ‘Chino Burbank Van Nuys’, to surprisingly doses of cut-up strings reminding of a smashed Fenn O’Berg, and kissing off with the recursive folk warp of ‘Un Veleta.’
Bitter industrial and dark ambient misanthropy from Jaclyn Kendall, newest recruit to Ascetic House, invoking invasive thoughts and putrified sonics for the headstrong - RIYL Prurient, Pharmakon, Lussuria
‘The Infamy of Pleasure Unto Death’ is not very nice but we like it. There’s an indelible sense of existential angst at play that really draws us into its pitch black folds and oblique aspects, first killing the lights for the slow pummel and groaning distortion of ‘Higher Source’, and and fully committing her darkside credentials over the course of blistered slow sluggers such as ‘Wasn’t Allowed to Wear a Burning Witch Shirt to Grandma’s Birthday’ and thee dankest sound design in the sunken other place of ‘Time Dilation’, with scant respite offered in the choral spirits cooing from the drains on ‘The Archangels Sing My Name.’
Standout from the latest Ascetic House batch, Omeed Norouzi impresses with a debut album of chamber-like electronics blessed with a geometric intricacy sure to engage fans of anything from Arca to Sote and ZULI
Omeed Norouzi chases up work on his net label Sibilants, and an early works comp for Lime Lodge, with a complex expression of self articulated thru inventive rhythmic shifts between electro-chaabi-alike and grimy drums, synched with totally beguiling melodic vamps that keep us seat-edge for the duration.
The trio of ‘RS’ pieces rudely characterise his rhythmic instincts, roughly working in proximity of styles found on Nashazphone’s mutant electro-chaabi set ‘This Is Cairo Not The Screamers’ with deadly crunchy, precise drum patterns revealing killer similarities with UK grime - seriously RS3’ is unmissable! - while the likes of ‘Eroscript’ demonstrates stunning, manacled noise sound design tekkers, and he’s given us a serious headfreeze with the harmonic tunings of ‘H.’
Be daft not to!
Mage-like selector and DJ, Vladimir Ivkovic graces Fleetway Tapes, sublabel of Moopie’s A Colourful Storm, with an extraordinary sequence of 20th century avant-garde, modern classical, space jazz and haunting Balkan folk. If yr looking for a treasure trove of amazing music you’ve likely never heard before, this is it.
Regarded among the very best to do it in recent years, Vladimir Ivkovic cut his teeth playing records at his dad’s club in Belgrade as a kid in the ‘80s, and honed his style while helming legendary sessions at Düsseldorf’s Salon des Amateurs, developing something of a cult following in the process. Vladimir’s mixes can be found strewn across the ‘net, but physical editions remain thin on the ground, making this jaw-dropping selection dedicated to ACR boss Moopie only his 2nd physical mixtape, proper, following the sought-after ‘lOVe tape’ for Berlin’s Sameheads in 2016.
‘Gospels for Moopie’ is essentially a selection of the rarest calibre, pulling from decades of fervent digging to plot out personal, rhizomatic links between the lesser heard nooks of his enviable collection. Rather than his typical conception of slow trance (literally Goa trance played on 33 not 45), there’s an entrancing slow-burn to this set, which slants away from fixed meter and into an other-world of music encompassing everything from oneiric theatricality to between-worlds folk, thru blinding, spine-freezing banks of horns, spirit-gripping choral passions, and inconceivably wonderful obscurities that may take a lifetime to ID and feels something like being lost in an Emir Kusturica film about the fall of civilisation.
Vancouver’s City explores a dynamic range of prepared electric guitar sculpted into icy miniatures, with input from i.o, for a quietly engrossing return to their spiritual home, Ascetic House
Operating at liminal levels of sensitivity, City coaxes out exceedingly sparing melodic figures from prepared and processed guitars that appear to resemble synths or even slowed down details of a Durutti Column composition. Restraint and space are key to the beauty of the thirteen works on offer, tiling concise, ephemeral vignettes with a handful of longer works where he allows the notes to ring out into unobstructed space.
The textures and shape of the strings shift with an elemental quality across the set, from pointillist glitter to cold sogginess, windswept aeriel harmonics, exquisite piquant dissonance, crafty Middle eastern microtonal tunings, and two folksier charms with i.o, perhaps most spellbinding in the arctic plangency of ‘Body Of Hell’, and the pineal squeezer ‘Claim Your Home.’
Napoli’s MBE series turn in a high energy techno set by Leftfield’s Paul Daley, recorded in 1994 at a legendary edition of the city’s United Tribe warehouse parties
Leading on from sterling mixes by likes of Beatrice Dillon, Nyege Nyege Tapes’ Moroto Hvy Indstr, and our own Conor Thomas, the series’ 5th instalment is a throwback to the heyday of Neapolitan raving, with Daley’s 60 minute set accompanied by local hypeman Ivanmaria Vele, and delivered on a 20kW rig to 3000 peaking techno pagan dancers pumping away under Bladerunner-esque club decor. Trust you can practically touch the sweaty walls and feel bodies bumping into you in the darkness.
We’re hard pushed to give any tracklist, but it’s basically loads of thunderous ’94 techno of the breakbeat and progressive varieties that Daley made his name DJing, and would go on to produce as half of seminal studio/live act, Leftfield, who were practically a household name for many in the ’90s (especially after their link up with Africa Bambaataa and an Irish drinks company).
It’s all high velocity but not quite hardcore, more made for the party and epitomising the thrust of United Tribes, a gang of pals who saw Napoli thru the transition from ‘80s punk and underground styles to ‘90s rave, and who soon moved to London, where they helped kick off the scene surrounding the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane from 1997 onwards.
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.
Superb chapter of moodily absorbing, pulpy, cybernoir-ish melodrama by Vancouver’s Baby Blue, marking their debut on Ascetic House after a tape and remix for PTP - RIYL James Ferraro, TCF, The Sprawl, 0PN
One for the doomed ravers, ‘Death Of Euphoria’ is an ideal accompaniment to the current state of club stasis and nostalgic reflection at the start of the 2020s. Gelling a deconstructed dance vernacular in a keen narrative style, Baby Blue has us rapt with eight original productions supplemented by remixes from fellow North Americans, 7038634357 and i.o.
While there’s been no shortage of producers working with weightless trance riffs and sculpted noise over the past decade, Baby Blue’s efforts in this arena stand out for their mix of underground, experimental nous and a more broadly appealing grasp of (mostly) instrumental narrative structure and extended melodic thought that places their work in an echelon with likes of James Ferraro’s future classical strokes or 0PN’s retro-futurist cinematic vision.
From initial blasts of fractured textural ambience and sawn-off hardcore techno, the album congeals a forlorn ravers soul with the elegiac rise of ‘Human’, leading to the cold negative ecstasy rush of trancey supersaws in ‘Collapsed’, and a breathless 10’ of widescreen wonder in ‘i hold u’, with i.o supplying a staggering 15 ‘ rework of ‘Collapsed’ transitioning from Merzbow-like noise to Drew McDowell-esque electronics.
Incredible kaleidoscopic/psychedelic synth works by Novo Line, inspired by Japanese Butoh, Gurdjieff’s proto-psych, and ancient Pythagorean tunings and highly recommended if yr into Depeche Mode, Paul DeMarinis, Autechre, Art of Noise, NYZ...
Under a title adapted from Huxley’s pivotal tome on C.20th psychedelia and mind-expansion, on ‘Doors of Proprioception - Articulation’ Novo Line shifts his interests from the noirish, filmic fixations of his ‘Autobahn Zwei’ and ‘To Qatsi And Die In LA’ tapes, to a more profound expression of ideas about “meta-cognition” and awareness of the body’s movement and position within space. The project crucially features research input from artist and yogi, Mathilde Fenoll, and Hélène Tharrault, a yoga teacher and acrobat, who both helped firm up the album’s overlapping interests in mind-body-spirit syncopation, with Mathilde’s voice also appearing as a sampler-mangled mantra, while the pair also plan contribute to the project’s performance iterations in the post-lockdown world.
The two pieces serve to conceptually resonate with, and deepen Novo Line’s references to ancient, Pythagorean tunings, as found on his breakthrough side ‘Movements’ (2016) and its follow-up ‘Dyad’ (2017), but switch their aesthetic touchstones from Belgian and German New Beat to a finer elision of Japanese Butoh’s slow, brutal elegance, with the contoured gradients of ’80s synth soundtracks and New Age ambient. In effect, these references lend a looser conception of meter and space to the music, practically manifesting its impetus to mindfully heighten and align the listener’s kinaesthetic awareness and “observe the appropriate balance of tensing and relaxing” as suggested by Butoh expert, Vangeline in their book ‘BUTOH: Cradling Empty Space’.
Most vitally, in the mesmerising style of all Novo Line’s work, and for all its lofty references, this is music that will be felt in your bones and is bound to perplex the mind with its deeply insightful application of ancient, affective tunings known to stimulate altered states of consciousness. In other words it’s a proper Aerobic Mystics special, blessed with Novo Line’s patented blend of absorbing esoteric nuance and a pop-wise appeal.
Rave flashbacks, field-recordings and fractal ambient collages by Berlin flatmates John “Xela” Twells and Jake Muir for this immersive and sprawling Documenting Sound double-header.
It took a global pandemic to revive their production juices, but John Twells has finally been coaxed back into action here, no less than a square decade since they excommunicated the Xela project. Working in earshot of their flatmate Jake Muir, who follows from a gorgeous second LP for sferic (‘The Hum Of Your Veiled Voice’), the pair supply reflective journals of a week in the early months of lockdown, respectively dwelling on memories of better times, and the feeling of being cloistered at home, as well as drifting an empty Berlin that’s usually fizzing with energy. Both artists were transplanted to the city in the months and year prior to the pandemic, and thus their relationship to the city feels tentatively curious and distanced on each work.
Xela’s passions for rave and film bleed thru on ‘Safe (in trauma)’, whose title combines a reference to Todd Haynes’ 1995 psychological horror, with a nod to Trauma, the bar they would frequent every weekend in a pre-apocalyptic Berlin, and in particular two clubnights featuring Julianna Huxtable and Ziúr that left a huge impression on them just before lockdown hit. The music follows with a transition from the clammiest vocals and OOBE-like sound design, to an apocalypse-baiting Russian hardbass finale to get your creaky heart started in a way thats pretty much impossible to describe, paying testament to Twells’ insatiable, boundless musical curiosity.
Jake Muir was in an adjacent room, studying, while all this was going on in Twells’ bedroom next door, and felt compelled to respond with a contrasting collage of Berlin’s soundsphere. With patient, absorbingly gauzy magick, they subtly locate the poetry in the everyday soundfield of church bells, strolling neighbours and strangers passing beneath their window, and the unusual silences of usually crowded places at Alexanderplatz. The recording has an almost flickering neon feel to it, a tense ambivalence that could spill into either romance or sheer terror at any moment, precariously balanced between the two for its extended duration.
Skin up, kick back with a killer 90 minute mixtape collage culled from the archives of DJ Stryda, a bastion of Bristolian dub - a big look for fans of Death Is Not The End's pirate radio tapes!
Stringing together a mosaic of chat, tunes, and radio jingles from the airwaves circa 1994, the results are a properly intoxicating dose of nostalgia for another place and time, throwing back to an era when it felt like everyone had a radio playing drowsily somewhere in the house, the street, from cars passing by.
The results clearly resonate with the pearls dug out by Death Is Not The End, and obviously with their Bristol Pirates session. But, where those sets were produced post fact, this tape was recorded, pause-button style, back in the day for sharing between pals, and was only recently discovered during a chance loft-digging session by Stryda, who has been a long-standing pirate radio veteran since the late ‘90s with his Sufferah’s Choice show.
Now dusted down and given a lick of TLC at Dubkasm’s studio, the tape is presented as is, sans edits or fuss, and ready to be prized by anyone in need of a vibe. All of us, basically.
Bursting at the seams with 31 exclusive and previously unreleased works by Félicia Atkinson, Fennesz, Malibu, Christina Vantzou, Takagi Masakatsu, JAB, Oliver Coates, Zelienople, Meitei, Clarice Jensen, Mary Lattimore, Alex Zhang Hungtai, iIlyas Ahmed, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Louise Bock and many others, consider ‘A Little Night Music: Aural Apparitions’ your home listening class of 2021 group portrait.
Spanning over two hours across two cassettes, 'A Little Night Music…’ unfurls itself in a literary horror structure, appearing and disappearing through a stirring Prologue and Epilogue by London-based cellist Oliver Coates, with each side of the cassettes introducing its Chapter with a chilling dirge courtesy of the inscrutable Geographic North House Band. Taking the pulse of offbeat ambient, avant-classical and cranky modern composition 2 years after their smart ‘Don’t Look Now’ compilation, Geographic North’s latest one goes deeper and further with a broader selection of label regulars and names both new and familiar.
Oliver Coates and the Geographic North House Band are prominent, with the former providing poetic prologue and epilogues, and the latter marking the chapters with beautifully sore synth vignettes, while the main body invites the romantic ambient pop sentiments of Malibu, Meitei, Félicia Atkinson, and a must check head-ringer from Alex Zhang-Hungtai (Dirty Beaches, Trouble), plus scuzzed Viennese grandiosty from Fennesz, all sequenced with highlights of their label catalogue such as cellist Louise Bock’s furrowed ‘Flummox’, a sort of wintry string mirage from Clarice Jensen, and the gently weeping guitar of Ilyas Ahmed.
Lilting, melodic Malian pop by one of the most popular singers from Wassalou region, highly regarded for producing some of the best signers in Mali
"The meaning of “Kanawa” is so simple. We see our children trying to cross the ocean all the time. I said that many of our children die in the ocean and some of them while crossing the Sahara. Some climb over the wires across the borders and they have gotten shot. We have asked them not to leave and instead stay home. But I ask them why do they leave their country? Why do they decide to go? They said that they leave because of the family situation or problems, poverty, and unemployment. We told them if ever they are to leave, they should privilege legal ways.
They should abide by laws vigorously when they are to emigrate. That’s better than hiding in boats or adopting other illegal means. I ask them to stay and work in their country. So that we can help each other find a solution to this problem. I call on the UN and African leaders so that we can coordinate our efforts to find a solution, to create jobs for them so that young people stop leaving. This song is about that message and I chose it as the title of my album because I like it. My choice is because it is very meaningful and it is something we see on a daily basis. I chose it in order to alert and sensitize everybody about this question of illegal immigration. To sensitize our brothers and sisters. It is a message. That’s why I chose it as the title of my album so that everybody can learn from it and also so that there is a reduction in the number of people emigrating. To sensitize them so that some can stay home and grow the land. Leaving is not the only solution. That’s my message."
Covert operations from some v. notable figures/producers/artists working under the cover of anonymity (for now), following a banner year for Manchester’s YOUTH after doozies from Sockethead, Dijit, Kassem Mosse and many more in 2020 - highly recommended if yr into Mica Levi, John T. Gast, FKA Twigs, The Dead C, Derek Bailey.
Remer Cier is quite a proposition; hustling a roll call spanning figures from the very pinnacle of experimental, contemporary pop, R&B, new age rave, cinema and TV, and spearheaded by one of the most notable A&R/producers of the last decade, the group speaks to a shared political leaning, which is disseminated literally by samples of Bajan PM, Mia Mottley; Steve Biko (as played by Denzel); and Trevor Noah.
Over the past few years, the project has evolved from a thought bubble into reality during lockdown, taking inspiration from London’s fecund, familial jazz and avant-improv scene to sketch out a witted stream-of-consciousness take on pressing issues, ranging from immigration, post-colonialism and racism to Covid-19, and inarguably lands at a critical point as the conscious world reassesses, well, practically everything.
‘Le Dernier Discours du Trône’ on the A side sees Bajan PM Mia Mottley’s cool-headed praise of her nation’s response to the 2020 pandemic layered over an array of prickling and languid strings that appear to channel Company via Miles Davis and The Dead C, creating an uneasy sense of tension with no real relief. On the flip ‘La Tonalité et La Teneur’ they lean in heavier and swaggering, with yanked strings, buzzing microtonal synths and a crispy drum machine underlying barbs of wisdom from Trevor Noah, who asks what white westerners would do without the food n spice immigrants brought with them, taking aim at historic atrocities carried out by the divs of the British empire, effectively still carried out in the dog-whistle politics of the Tories, and by the big ol’ Flump on the other side of the Atlantic.
Teresa Winter lays her soul bare on an incredible new set of raving, UK dubwise styles to rudely and beautifully recommence our Documenting Sound series, bridging some imaginary gap between Maria Minerva, Saint Etienne and Chain Reaction’s Hallucinator.
The half hour / six songs of ’Love Crime’ were recorded by Teresa during the first month of the 2020 lockdown in her bedroom at home on “the ridge” in Woodhouse, Leeds. Typically hand-built with her array of knackered boxes and secretive 4-track tape tekkers, and trading in some of her lushest vox, the album also belies Teresa’s newfound influence from classic dub spirits - as inspired by Edward George’s brilliant podcast series on ‘The Strangeness of Dub’ - which are evident in her judicious application of bass and FX, and quite literally firmed up in her outstanding cover of The Skatalites and Margarita Mahfood’s ‘Woman A Come.’
The recordings palpably pine for better times, distilling romantic and raving urges in Teresa’s patented style of lo-fi electronic mystique. But, as with all her work, any sense of beguiling breeziness is surely counterweighted by more pressing themes of Feminism and proper, feminine pressure. From the temporal melt of her instrumental opener, Teresa appears at her most honest and upfront throughout; meditating on new relationships over proto-jungle styles in her title song and the quietly devastating slowness of ‘It Isn’t My Game’, while her take on ‘Woman A Come’ is intended as prayer of solidarity for victims of domestic abuse (the song’s writer, one of reggae’s first female artists, Anita “Margarita” Mahfood was murdered by her husband, Don Drummond of The Skatalites.). Yet, for levity, the dream ‘ardcore of ‘M-O-E-T’ and the bittersweet ruggedness of ‘fn’ serve to cast more positive spells for a world in psychic distress.
Promesses player Apulati Bien transmutes iPhone sketches made on Parisian trains into natty bass trax starring Haitian MCDomoreless Zoekila, and Mexico’s Vica Paheco
Following directly from his 2017 album ‘OO:NÉ’, the original sketches for ‘RER Tracks’ were made on the titular train that same year, and polished up more recently at his current residence in Brussels. They feel immersed in the transitory madness of daily life in a big city, and yet detached from it, like a fever dream recollection of the olde world.
The deft collage of opener ‘Zaco’ portrays a sort of waking dream state, with scurrying melodies and vaporous flattering evoking the feeling of going with the early morning rush hour flow, into the reverberant dimensions of ‘Garedunord’, and an ace ambient dembow parry with Vica Pacheco in ‘Ouest.’ The EP’s other vocal cut ‘Oz’ is a major highlight, chopping Haiti’s Damoreless Zoekila into something like a wonky Slikback workout that shares a needling, dissonant oddness with ‘Fon du quai’ that feels very 2020.
Immersive experiments in synthetic tonal colour, space and rhythm from Italy’s Sebastiano Carghini, arriving as the 2nd in the EN X PL series minted by Nick Klein’s Psychic Liberation and Maine’s Enmossed imprint.
Working shades away from the likes of Giuseppe Ielasi and Nicola Ratti’s solo and Bellows projects, Carghini explores the sonic semantics and sentiments of blue-ness in a fine tradition of artists “engaging a word that is never just a word, the color that’s never merely a color.” Caraghini’s efforts have previously appeared on the likes of the ace Second Sleep and New York Haunted in recent years, and this one follows aesthetic suit; using a stripped down palette of tape loops of old studio hardware fed thru multiple tape decks and FX, to locate an uncertain ferric mid-ground where the sounds take on a quietly unpredictable life of their own.
Over the eight tracks of ‘Blue’ Caraghini diffracts the idea of blueness into myriad connotations. The lower case nuance of ‘Ice Stream’ suggests a sensation of ice-forming, and ‘Impromptu Temper’ explores a more agitated sort of blue-as-grumpiness, contrasting neatly with the contemplative conception of ‘Emotional Part’. ‘Daydream Loopy’ is perhaps closest to the absorbing, between-worlds fissures explored by Bellows, and there’s a clearly jazzy sort of blueness to the set’s closing statement that may get right under the skin of Mica Levi heads, too.
Incredibly absorbing studies in ambient-textural tension/release from Parisian artist Isham Kouidri on the EN X PL series initiated by Nick Klein’s Psychic Liberation and Maine, USA’s Enmossed labels
In a humbly innovative fashion, ’All I See Is Blue’ sees Kouidri juice the most from a single piano loop, creating a string of interrelated but fizzing sonic environments from tactful, sometimes brutal manipulation of minimal input. ‘Through The Window’ wrests three parts of abraded textures that wheeze and sing with buckled, keening dynamics - think Thought Broadcast meets Tape Loop Orchestra at Philip Jeck’s gaff - while the further trio of parts to ‘Now He’s Gone’ explore more rhythmic impulses with rotted bass hits and needlingly bittersweet melodic shards collapsing into off world DMT-blast visions of a rarer kind.
Don’t sleep on this. A doozy for fans of Bellows, Thought Broadcast, Basic House.
Coby Sey, Mica Levi and Brother May’s Curl collective huddle an intimate new compilation introducing us to a whole ruck of new artists on the label’s first group showing since a blink and miss CDr in 2018. This one features exclusive new music from their extended posse inc Daisy Moon, Akinola Davies Jr, Olivia Salvadori, Roxanne Tataei and Coby Sey, Wu-Lu plus a bunch of what we can only assume are either new artists or pseudonyms for core label protagonists. Like everything to do with this lot; expect the unexpected.
‘Curl Compilation 2’ covers a cross section of low key London styles embracing everything from Roxanne Tataei and Coby Sey’s air-spun jazz dirge, to absorbing ambient poetry by Steph Kretowicz and Ben Babbitt that sounds something like a meeting of Wayne Phoenix and Perila drifting on a cloud. Factor in teasers by Akinola Davies Jr, frayed ambient jazz notes by Wu-Lu, Daisy Moon’s melancholic broken beats, and Pelin Pelin’s aching avant-soul, and you’re in properly out there DIY zones.
Perhaps best of all, the set introduces a bevy of new names who are all worthy of further exploration, aside from Roxanne Tataei and Coby Sey’s hauntingly gutted ‘With Fade', the label bosses are either absent from the credits, or else operating incognito, preferring to shine a light on the likes of Olivia Salvadori with her spellbinding chamber drone vocals in ‘An Invisible Ode’, and the pastoral cello vignette of Suny, beside the breezy rap crud of PK Brako and MIC in ‘Curl It Like Cass Pennant’, while Sissy Fuss turns in an electrifying bit of psych blues hollering in ‘Pale Moon Melts’, while Baby___ASL’s Klein-meets-Tirzah-esque burner ‘Bloom’ has already been on a constant loop here for a weeks. Magic bag of tricks this one.
Nick Klein’s Psychic Liberation and Maine, USA’s Enmossed joins forces for the EN X PL series, debuting a gloomy, disciplined synth suite by Sweden’s Jin Mustafa and Robin Smeds Mattila
Not Kasabian Drone, as our eyes keep telling us, Karabasan Drane are a drily absorbing, minimalist prospect from Stockholm’s fecund underground. They’ve previously played the likes of Norbergfestival and Herrensauna in Berlin, and now commit mixed media experience in DJing, visual arts, and live music production/performance to their first collaborative album, sounding to our ears like a distant echo of 1991’s ‘Hi Tech Low Life’, Joachim Nordwall’s isolationist industro-dub, or CM Von Hausswolff’s EVP recordings.
Described by the label as “exercising abstention and reduction”, there is something decidedly minimalist monk-like about their recordings, which eschew any form of spectacle in favour of slow-shifting tones and rhythmic structures in a style that highlight their interests in liminality, and the way memory can be channelled through technology. The results should be properly convincing to connoisseurs of electronic isolationism, holding the finest line of icy stoicism between the Lussuria-like churn of ‘Ornamental Wave’, to the empty-belly ambience of ‘Array’, and sound-sensitive timbral intricacies of ‘Serpentine Rift.’
Killer session from Simo Cell B2B Skee Mask, shifting gears between 125-160BPM over a hugely diverse tape landing as the second release on the TEMƎT label after E-Unity’s up-for-it debut.
’TemeTape1’ is effectively the label’s mission statement, covering all poles between New Beat, electro, Manc punk and darkroom EBM sleaze in the first half, and fully twysting out between ghetto tech, breakbeat hardcore, footwork, and gnashing acid tekkers on the rushing 2nd part - including a killer haul of juke-juiced flips of classic ‘80s synth-pop.
Nose to tail, it’s a proper party session. The opening 45 minutes see them follow a hunch for grubbier, industrialised styles, warming up with handfuls of dank sleaze ranging from a trilling new beat nugget to fluid hydroelectric dynamics and slippery night slugs, leading to a highlight from Manchester’s “Iron” Mike O’Neill, before the candy kicks in for a run of puckered Italo-disco and EBM.
However, they really let fly on the B-side, seamlessly highlighting links between hardcore rave of all colours, from early ‘90s UK varieties to serious Chi and Detroit crud, culminating in sped-up spins on Depeche Mode and New Order that's quite honestly worth the cost of admission alone.
Hard, sweet and shiny fusions of Afrobeats, drill and grime cooked up by Manchester’s Fallow and Bristol’s Griz-O for their debut album with Tom Boogizm’s sought-after Shotta Tapes series.
Fallow is perhaps best known around Manny as co-founder of Chow Down, the grimy club incubator for the likes of Anz and Finn, and he brings lots of Chow Down flavour to this, his most significant work, broadly cleft between grimy Afrobeats with lots of colourful synths vamps, and more boisterous strains of grimy UK club styles.
Griz-O’s vocal cuts are stand-outs, from the brooding minor key drill/grime zoner ‘Time Is Now’, to the sion-dancehall sidewinder ‘Real Spice’ and a trilling ace ‘Rum Inna Mi Glass’, and a nastier, straight-up grime bullet ‘Darker Again.’ But that’s not to discount the instrumentals, where Fallow lets the melodies and samples do the talking between the summery bop of ‘Hus In The Park’, his scudding chromatic jackers ‘Bedlam 1’, and ‘Killin’ Me’ making great use of helium pitched vox, and the fructose boosted Afrobeats of ‘Elephant n Everything.’
Totally absorbing new album flush with ambient-jazz-electronic touches from Vegyn, following their production chops for Frank Ocean, Travis Scott and JPEGMAFIA with an ear-snagging new showcase on London’s PLZ Make It Ruins.
Affiliated with James Blake and Frank Ocean and known for work on some of the most prominent, boundary-probing rap releases of recent years, Vegyn brings a refreshingly optimistic, laid-back, dreamy aesthetic to the table in ‘Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds’. If this album had reached ears this summer it would have bene among the season’s most played, but as it stands it’s going to keep us warm all winter with its collaged mosaic of fleeting field recordings, Satie-esque melodic wist and sparingly used but super crispy R&B/hip hop snap.
A big, big look for fans of Klein, Gila, BoC, Oli XL.
Pivotal NYC figure Gavilán Rayna Russom pays homage to the sacred and the profane in a heady suite inspired by Bernini’s C.17th sculpture, Ecstasy of Saint Teresa
Their follow-up to last year’s ‘The Envoy’, which re-introduced Russom to the world under her new name, ‘Transverberation’ stems from the artist’s enduring obsession with Bernini’s sculptural rendering of St Teresa’s experience of being penetrated by the Holy Spirit. The resulting album is steeped in nostalgia for her uni days and art classes - “She often spent most of that class sitting next to her girlfriend so they could fondle each other in the darkened lecture hall; the mix of religious ecstasy, sexuality and attention to detail in the sculpture lodged deeply in her consciousness” and works as a sort of ontological anchor for rediscovering her sense of spirituality in this new phase of music writing and composition, where the dancefloor is mostly left for dust in favour of loftier and psychedelic themes.
“As a deeply spiritual and often extremely solitary and private person, her love of the story that animated Bernini’s hand has continued to grow throughout her life, especially after multiple visits in the late 90’s and early 2000’s to the chapel of Santa Maria de la Vittoria in Rome where the sculpture is currently kept. Transverberation sees her returning to that story as a sober woman in her mid 40’s, initiated into several spiritual traditions that specifically work with the energy of saints. The 9 works that comprise this release are also informed by her experiences of quarantine and social distancing. In an environment of enforced solitude and ramping collective horniness, the idea and practice of sexual intimacy with god became deep, complex and necessary.”
Hybrids of grimy machine wonk and plangent ambient pads from NYC’s Ephemera, going on like the rudest/sensitive ends of Filter Dread or Tom Boogizm
Arriving on Fixed Rhythms in the wake of Russell Butler and Hypervigilance, Ephemera’s debut shot fuses southern rap hi-hats with swooning synths and roving kicks in six amorphous parts. ‘Another Roach’ sets out his stall in rambunctious ambient-tek country, and follows thru with variations on stepping grime in ’SNL Tears’ and ‘Worms’, beside the sighing sino-choral motifs of ‘Vocal Interlude’, and more soft focus far eastern fetishism on ‘Preserves’, before rounding off with the smushed seasonal harmonics of ‘Jet Fuel.’
Manchester’s Queen of Clubs comes with her 5th annual production showreel, throwing down 35 unreleased dubs in just under 1.5 hours of fresh rave frolics - proper jawmelter.
The last 30 years of rave music are fair game for Anz’s magpie eye, whirling thru styles from deep soulful garage to boisterous electro, Jersey-meets-Afrobeat jams to whistle-blowing hardcore and UKF mutations, ghetto-tech and jungle, all with the quicksilver flow and focussed, yet polygamous style she’s come to own over the past few years.
As anyone who has raved to an Anz set will testify, she simply doesn’t know when to let up, and that force of nature is in full effect again on ‘spring/summer dubs 2020’, stirring up a spectrum of sweaty rave feels bound to bring baying hordes to her agent to book her when those scuzzy temporary autonomous zones finally reopen their doors in 2021.
'Into the Traffic, Under the Moonlight’ is a new set of songs woven from the same fibre as Laila Sakini’s stunning ‘Vivienne’ album - one of the records we listened to - and loved - most this year, expanding its minimalist palette of piano, voice and effects to include some percusive samples, cello, bass clarinet, flute and hand claps. Listening to that album, followed by this one, feels a bit like emerging from a small room - curtains drawn - into the outside world for the first time in a while.
The quietly suggestive presence of Sakini’s music once again evokes ciné-rich scenarios and vignettes from a careful paucity of ingredients to limn scenes of lonely existential angst and hypnagogic dreaminess that contrast with ruffer cuts of late night trip hop and nerve-bitten breakbeats that resemble a makeshift coffee table strewn with bits of baccy and weed, mug stains and unpaid bills, rather than unwieldy art books and pot pourri.
It pays to start at the back here, as the creaking cold space and aching vox of ‘Night Emotion’ really seems to sum up the wistful sensuality of the whole release, but - to do it properly - the album unfolds as a total artwork, looping from the plaintive vocals - and flute - of ‘Talk My Way’ in succinct turns thru the dust-mite dance of her instrumental ‘Wade High’, to the opiated night flight of ‘Into The Traffic’, while curled-lip smackers in ‘Easy Does’, and her restlessly cranky ‘Metro’ help play out a flux of feelings, ambiguous and determined - that remind you that no one ever really knows what goes on inside people’s heads.
In a world of overly produced and controlled music, this here is yr antidote - Laila Sakini is producing some of the most vital and brittle music of our time.
Fresh from “sampler” contributions on the amazing Oï les Ox album for The Death of Rave, Furtherset blesses -ous with an immersive suite of tantalising, expressive synthesis landing somewhere between Lorenzo Senni, Pita and 0PN
‘To Live Tenderly Anew’ is the Italian artist’s first solo shot since 2018 and most substantial since a 2015 album written circa his time at the RBMA classes in Rome. It’s not hard to hear how his music resonates with classical Italian renaissance music in the same way as Lorenzo Senni, but there’s also more bite and nervy energy to his music that we’re keen to hear more of after ingesting this one.
The rushy flux of ‘The Logic of a Secret’ is a great place to dive in and find your feet upended, while ‘The Expanding Drama’ betrays an absorbing taste for edge-of-dissonance tunings, and ‘A Prelude to Infinite Directions’ could almost be an expanded detail of an 0PN tapestry. We’re also really feeling the weightless, beat-less rave roller ‘Uncoordinated Delicate Perfection’ calling to mind Pita meets AYYA, and the adrenochrome energy of ‘Choirs of Deception and Truth’ points to much grander ideas on the horizon.
One to keep a close ear on!
Famously tagged by Low Company with "File under: Eh?!” It’s safe to say that instrument builder, playwright, musician and general mad genius Wojciech Rusin’s 'The Funnel’ album pricked up basically everyone’s ears last year, its completely inimitable line of occultist chamber music and electronics sounding something like László Hortobágyi and Hildegard Von Bingen on a jolly.
No surprise, then, that we weren't the only people to have tasked Rusin with a kind of lockdown project, his excellent 'Meat For The Guard Dogs' for Cafe Oto’s TAKUROKU series landed earlier this year and featured Hannah Aspinall & Ben Vince for a set of "fermented memories captured on a portable recorder…”
For Documenting Sound, Wojciech provides two extended cuts, “Inside” and Outside”, inviting us into his wildly colourful headspace complete with all the tangents you might expect if you’ve followed any of his work thus far. Above all else, there’s introspection and beauty here; piano and choral motifs drowned out by the sea, walking at night, voice, tape manipulations, those 3D printed reed instruments, squawking crows on a thermal drift.. every scene lined with an intangible shimmer.
Life, as someone said, is elsewhere.