A genius play on dance music history and semiotics, Jack Callahan’s cult Die Reihe project lands on Demdike Stare’s DDS label with a mad deconstruction of site-specific House classics, backed with a side of properly uncanny distilled crowd noise from a 1996 revival of The Loft clubnight. Mindboggling, conceptual and thought-provoking gear thats highly recommended if yr into Terre Thaemlitz, The Automatics Group, Mark Leckey, Theo Parrish, Stockhausen, Sensate Focus, Sam Kidel, Klein.
Die Reihe has been used as an outlet for Callahan to explore his wildest ideas, examining and abstracting a different musical element on each release. 2019's "106 Kerri Chandler Chords" compiled chords from the house legend's extensive back catalog and arranged them to be replayed by the SEM Ensemble, mutating the concept into a brand new piece of minimalist modern composition; on 2016's "Housed" (released on NNA Tapes), Callahan chopped up 250 house tracks and rebuilt the chords into glitchy plunderphonic epics; before that, he put Lex Luger and Zaytoven drum fills under the microscope on 2015's all-timer "Trap Studies” - an album we’ve rinsed and sampled endlessly since it came out.
'Loft Classics Vol. 1' examines House music from two differing vantage points, zeroing in on the relationship between vocals, memory and crowd interaction. It follows directly from his 2020 release "Karaoke Darmstadt", a suite of "karaoke versions" of mid-20th Century German new music, where Callahan stripped away the vocals from pieces by Luciano Berio, Henri Pousseur and Pierre Boulez. This new tape adopts an inverted route, using the Spleeter source separation library to strip away the music from disco and house classics, leaving just the vocals in place, backed with a synthetic backbone of digital detritus.
The opening track is an interpolation of Bini & Martini's 2000-released Ibiza staple 'Happiness (My Vision is Clear)' that removes the powerful diva vocal from its slippery house backdrop and re-plants it in a juicy bed of filtered SuperCollider bleeps and whirrs. It sets the scene for the rest of the side, as Callahan extends his technique though Brainstorm's 1978 disco belter 'Journey to the Light', Andwella's 1970 single 'Hold On To Your Mind', Level 42's 'Starchild' and Trussel's Fred Wesley-produced 1979 hit 'Love Injection'. For each track, Callahan's process is broadly the same, but the mood of each piece is completely out on its own. According to the liner notes, it's Callahan's way to deconstruct the nature of the "classic" as it pertains to House music - the result reminding us of the way in which Mark Leckey’s 'Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore’ documented a history of dance and rave culture disembodied from the experience itself.
Side B is where things get properly unsettling and thought provoking - a room recording of a short-lived iteration of The Loft on Avenue A in 1996, processed by David Kant in Santa Cruz to remove [almost] “everything but the ecstatic sound of the dancers with special care taken so as not to incriminate anyone.” What remains is the captivating, residual thizz of bacchanalian babble harvested from sweaty bodies and yielding a strangely voyeuristic, displaced PoV on the party, and the inherently hauntological nature of revival night simulacra that have since become ubiquitous. The most intriguing moments are when we can just about perceive the crowd singing along to something that isn't quite there, bringing the first side's experiments into deeper focus.
"Loft Classics Vol.1" isn't so much about the literal aesthetic sound of classic House music, it's about the feeling in the room, the sense of togetherness, the interaction between the DJ and the crowd and the expectation we bring to our own listening. It's a sobering examination of the contemporary nostalgia fetish - and how it's used to limit and diminish progress - and points fun at the concept of cultural churn while simultaneously doing something risky, radical and surprising. It's deconstructed club music for sure, but you won't find any broken bottle sounds inside.
Death is Not the End follow up their fab collection of London jazz with another well-researched collection of sounds, featuring tracks from Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott's Quintet, Dizzy Reece Quintet and more.
Made in partnership with the Barbican as part of their exhibition of postwar art between 1945 and 1965, "I Had the Craziest Dream: Modern Jazz and Hard-Bop in Post War London Vol.2" yet again shines a spotlight on jazz in London and its influx of players from the Caribbean and across Africa.
There are some important names featured here, from English modern jazz sax player Tubby Hayes and notorious bandleader and club owner Ronnie Scott to Jamaican-born tenor saxophonist Wilton Gaynair and Jamaican-born hard bop trumpeter Dizzy Reese. The compilation extends the world mapped out by its predecessor, and while it features plenty of the same names, it helps to illustrate a time period that's often lost in the ether. Post war London was a melting pot of sounds that ended up inspiring decades of innovative music - none of that would have been possible without these early pioneers.
A self-consciously epic, long-in-the-making new project that inexplicably fuses dub techno, grindcore, dreampop and psychedelic hard dance in a way that really shouldn’t work but which ends up completely upending the rulebook in the best way. Somewhere between Rhythm & Sound, Cocteau Twins, Napalm Death and DUMA? Bit special this one.
The Ephemeron Loop is the work of Gretchen Aury of acclaimed xenofeminist duo Guttersnipe, and comes to us as the debut release on a new label called Heat Crimes with deep connections to one of the sickest labels around atm. Gretchen wrote and produced the record over a tumultuous 14 year period, in an attempt to document the complex emotional upheavals she experienced as she began to acclimatise to life as a trans woman. Before transitioning, Aury had found herself gravitating towards dark, noisy music and found solace and community in Leeds' queer rave underground. Reconciling all her interests and emotions was going to be a mountain to climb: balancing shoegaze's shimmering beauty with the charge and aggression of noise metal and a gabber 4/4 pulse was the idea, it was just a case of figuring out how to do it.
It wasn't until 2018 that the finished songs began to take shape; Aury enlisted the help of producer Ross Halden - who she'd worked with on Guttersnipe projects before - and the two attempted to unravel years of Reason and Logic projects. Elevated by psychedelics, Aury wanted to curate a soundtrack that adequately captured her journey. The end result is one of the most unusual and daring records we've come across in a while - long-form songs that don't so much go from a to b as dance around locations like fireflies, flitting between poles as the mood inevitably shifts.
Title track 'Psychonautic Escapism (Cold Alienation)’ displays all this in microcosm, dissolving from screaming noise into throbbing dub techno chords and sweeter-than-sweet Liz Fraser-esque vocals. It's a narrative that parallels Aury's experience, flickering from doom into euphoria and landing in a dreamworld, assisted by MDMA-fuelled trance arpeggios. At the mid-way point (the track is 16-minutes long), Aury's breathy coos turn to screams, and hyperspeed hardstyle kicks roll thru the dub-gaze atmospheres with death-defying ease. 'Lattice Dysmorphism of Lysothymic Oneiroid' is bolder still, splaying cloudy vocals and haunted guitars over a labyrinth of overdriven kicks; Aury's rhythms rarely hover over the same spot for too long, they mimic her life with ADHD, morphing so frequently it's hard to keep up. On repeat listens, these mutations become the rhythm itself, signalling the club experience without fully leaning into dreary dancefloor functionality.
Aury's metal roots are fully bared on 'Trench Through Pink Death', smeared into digital effects and augmented with galvanized kicks. On some level, the guitars are still as harmonic as My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless", but the mood is fused with screeching gothic doom and, eventually, manic grindcore. It's to Aury's credit that she's able to stitch all these sounds together into a patchwork that's not only coherent but increasingly addictive. Her narrative is nakedly biographical, and her process of unpicking the story's consistent elements and re-assembling them into something brand new is as smart and sensual as it is complicated.
They say great art is always at risk of failure - Aury lives completely on the edge here, and her risk is our reward.
Swiss/German guitar duo An Moku & Schmidt wrest an impressive range of textured and resonant tones from their axes, as well as cello, field recordings and electronics, in a bleak one for Karlrecords.
Directly following from 2021’s ‘Raum’, the pair’s ‘Zwischenraum’ returns to a sort of liminal site of investigation for the 2nd of three instalments titled after a line from David Foster Wallace’s ‘Infinite Jest’. Drawing on longheld fascinations with improvisation and experimental soundscaping, Dominik Grenzler aka An Moku lives up to his Japanese moniker, meaning “tacit, unsaid, implicit”, bringing a shadowy, shapeshifting palette to Schmidt’s lifetime of experiments with punk and classical guitar which spill out on their hour of music inside.
Plumbing space somewhere between Fennesz and Rafael Toral, their music is sanguine, star-scanning by nature, focussing the vision from the viscous, cosmic raga whorls of ‘Yama’ to the granular shifts of ‘Sediment’ thru passages of reverberant atonalities and arcing harmonies in ‘Reflection’, to land on properly off world zones in the weightless roil of ‘Capgras Syndrome’, and sumptuous studies in subharmonic drone on ‘Tagundnachtgleiche’, gyring interstellar drama on ‘Rabennaas’, and a gorgeous sort of angelic guitar choral swaddled in softly pealing electronics in ‘Anywhere at the End of Time’.
Gqom hybridists Phelimuncasi return to Nyege Nyege Tapes for a second album of purple-hued, darkside energies that cross galvanized futuristic productions with frenetic MCing in isiZulu and English. Imagine DJ Lag, DJ Menzi and Byrell the Great in a blender and you'll get a vague idea of what to expect.
Nyege introduced Phelimuncasi to the wider world a couple of years back with a career spanning sampler that was released to much acclaim, but by that point they were already a long-established fixture on their local Durban scene. 'Ama Gogela' brings us right up to speed, allowing everyone outside of their Mlaszi township a chance to experience the sound and energy of one of gqom's most relentless, uncompromising units. Vocalists Malathon, Makan Nana and Khera team up once again with Gqom's most innovative producers DJ MP3 and DJ Scoturn, joined by locals DJ Nhlekzin and DJ Ndakx, alongside South Korea's NET GALA, who dropped the ace "신파 SHINPA" last summer.
The album starts on a delirious tip with 'I Don't Feel Like Legs', a DJ Nhlekzin-produced trunk bumper that lifts Malathon, Makan Nana and Khera's circular chants above a mass of subby womps and party clacks somewhere between Miami bass and classic gqom, complete with frenetic thee-part vocals, police sirens and chat delirium. NET GALA throws down another early highlight with the squelchy 'Ngiphupha Izinto', blasting Phelimuncasi thru rolling ballroom-adjacent snares and bee-sting synths.
'Maka Nana' features guest vocalist Bhejane riding a more traditional gqom blueprint, balancing a slithering drone against a familiar 120bpm bounce offset by those neon vocal chants, while 'Dlala Ngesinqa’ percolates with menace, a winding synth ramping up the tension with increasing intensity, and they leave it to the clipped vocal stabs of 'Uyaphi WeNano’ to present the most unhinged darkside energy on show, deployed at half speed for a tempo madness.
Corrosive concréte noise fug from Estonian alchemist Mihkel Kleis, who splays ugly close-mic'd vox, horror movie synths and white noise bursts over screwed 'n damaged drum machine malfunctions and hard-edited squeals. Properly spannered material and not for the faint of heart - RIYL John Wiese, Aaron Dilloway, Pharmakon or Lussuria.
It's almost a slur to refer to Ratkiller's music as simply noise, but "Leather Squeaking Softly" is noisy as fuck. The Estonian producer - who moonlights as a museum security guard - adopts the aesthetic of industrial noise music, but augments it with the surrealist blur of sound collage as he haphazardly chops together angular jazz drums, melting ice recordings and filtered analog synth wails. It's like hearing a particularly adept DJ crack their fingers and take some risks on four decks, or like pushing yer head into a room while a band soundchecks, a radio is left on, a fridge is wide open and a CRT TV is flickering in the corner playing VHS tapes endlessly. Kleis describes the tape as a "rare glimpse into visions of being stuck in a whirlpool of forgotten debris and plastic remains, discarded non-recyclable objects and broken hi-fi equipment,".
The first side lurches thru soundscapes with conviction, cut-and-pasting garbled moans over ritual rhythms, and electrified car-crash/glass smash sounds over looped electronic pops and doomed FM drones. This isn't anonymous noise tape meandering: there's a palpable signature to Kleis's dense collages, harnessing the binary crunch of Mego's early catalog and drainpipe groan of a 1980s industrial tape simultaneously. But it's his carnivalesque, mischievous sense of excitement that makes "Leather Squeaking Softly" stand head and shoulders over the litany of noise albums. There's no self-satisfied posturing here, Kleis appears to be having fun challenging our expectations, inserting unanticipated blasts of sound and then removing them just as quickly as they appear
The second side is noticeably more psychedelic than the first, descending deeper into Kleis's sonic volcano with synthesized factory clangs, throaty gurgles, baby screams and tormented music box jangles. If this sounds nightmarish, it definitely is - but Kleis's sense of humor prevents it from feeling self-consciously dark. It's moody music, but produced with an awareness (and unique skill) that ends up fitting more snugly alongside the most delirious Aaron Dilloway jams, or John Wiese's hardcore-influenced concréte inversions. If you listen close enough, there's even a faint air of Fonal records' mystical forest psychedelia. Exactly our kinda shit, basically.
Death is Not the End teams up with folklorist Derek Piotr once more for this bumper archive of North American folk music, this time focusing on every version they could find of the ballad 'Lamkin'. It's a fascinating study that displays how a standard was able to shift and evolve as it moved from person to person over the decades.
The first recording of 'Lamkin' Piotr discovered for this archive was dubbed in 1937 in New Jersey, and featured 93-year-old Lydia Gyderson. Her vocal performance is gloriously imperfect, enhanced by recording artifacts and the room itself, but it sets the pace for a set of versions that enshrines the lore of a song that passed through communities across the USA. Many of these renditions haven't been heard by anyone but the original recordists since they were taped, as they're an archival project rather than an exploration of aesthetic perfection. So on 'Beau Lamkins', we can hear a 1939 recording of 73-year-old Aunt Nancy Prather, who stops to chat and cough between pitchy, muffled verses.
The newest recording was made by Piotr himself last may, and having a contemporary version - sung by 69-year-old Bobby McMillon in North Carolina - gives us at least a reference for the rest of the material. It's a tough proposition to listen to from beginning to end, but an invaluable resource with a fascinating narrative.
Daydream Nation was Sonic Youth’s sixth full-length, their first double-LP, and their last for an indie label before signing with Geffen.
"Widely considered to be their watershed moment, the album catapulted them into the mainstream and proved that indie bands could enjoy wide commercial success without compromising their artistic vision. More recently, Daydream Nation has been recognized as a classic of its time: Pitchfork ranked it #1 on their “100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s”; It was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry in 2006. This edition of Daydream Nation is released on SY’s own Goofin’ Records and has been remastered under the band’s supervision."
Los Angeles-based post-beat scene improviser Sam Gendel teams up with 11-year-old vocalist Antonia Cytrynowicz on the quirky "LIVE A LITTLE". Somewhere between dusted electronic jazz and chipmunked showtunes? Very weird.
Gendel began collaborating with Cytrynowicz completely by accident - the younger sister of his partner Marcella, Cytrynowicz impressed Gendel when they were hanging out in her family's back yard and she improvised a song. He recorded it to his phone and later orchestrated it, building a song using his usual assembly of synthesizers, drum machine sounds, guitars, sax, and bass. The process felt so natural that Gendel suggested a session, and "LIVE A LITTLE" was recorded in one afternoon, with Cytrynowicz improvising the lyrics and melodies on the spot at Gendel played beside her.
It's quite impressive listening back that it was even possible, let alone done so quickly - the songs don't sound like sketches and the lyrical content sounds far more complicated than you'd think. Cytrynowicz has no formal training, but comes from a musical family, and while her vocals sound slightly alien - we're guessing there's an amount of processing from Gendel - there's no attempt to cover up her age. "LIVE A LITTLE" is an unusual album, but it fits comfortably into Gendel's catalogue - Cytrynowicz's vocals give his smokey e-jazz sounds a Lynch-via-Disney blur that's impossible to ignore. Worth a listen, for sure.
Twin Peaks and Melrose Place fiends beware: Lynch protégé Dean Hurley meets the none-more-enigmatic Romance for a spellbinding, scanline-obscured examination of VHS-frazzled post-vapor euphoric melodrama on a feature-length episode resourced from YouTube’s shared memory banks, on a limited edition special.
Since joining forces with David Lynch on 2007’s 'Inland Empire’ as a sound supervisor, Dean Hurley has worked with the cult US director on the majority of his projects, mostr famously as a sound designer on 2017's unforgettable ‘Twin Peaks: The Return'. On his own, Hurley has carved out a niche for a unique brand of burned melancholia that joins the dots between crumbled NYC illbient and stonewashed ambience - as heard on 2020's ace "Concrete Feather". Meanwhile Romance, whoever they, he or she might be, has spent the last few years proving to us that high and low art can exist simultaneously in perfect harmony, most recently sweeping Celine Dion samples into gut-wrenching Tarkovsky-esque mistral forms on the incredible 'Once Upon A Time'.
Together, the duo divine a masterstroke of concept and execution, ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’ celebrates the pulpy, melodramatic appeal of daytime soap opera, and its now nostalgic allure, thru a finely smudged lens of rearranged samples from YouTube. Embracing the genre’s curdled glamour and heart-rending tension from temporally displaced, hauntological perspectives, the duo draw on rich online archives as well as personal repositories for a contemporary classic that echoes the groggy air of The Caretaker and Pinkcourtesyphone’s valerian vapours via mistily soft-focussed nods to Angelo Badalamenti and Mark Snow.
Bathed in absorbing soft focus and the faint promise of menace in the air, the 13-part suite drifts scene to scene with a heart-in-mouth quality and flicker of intrigue that evokes the genre’s hyper-melodramatic examinations of moral conflicts, secret relationships, adultery, and familial turmoil amidst the mundane landscape of the domestic interior. Like the work of Hurley’s peer, David Lynch on the original Twin Peaks series, he and Romance wrest a poetry from banal conventions conceived to keep viewers hooked, dangling us by a silvery thread with their gripping yet ephemeral limning of life and death narratives and navigation of nostalgic chicanery.
A smudged masterpiece, no less.
Following instalments by Beatrice Dillon and the Nyege Nyege crew, the MBE series offers us a spectacular two hour set exploring the incredibly rich spectra of Greek folk music >> a joyous ethnomusicological salvo documented by Alyssa Moxley, Ramona Stout, and Stéphane Charpentier, replete with photozine booklet.
Spiritual successor to Beatrice Dillon’s Folkways deep dive, ‘Trance Mediterranea: Ecstatic Greece’ focuses on folk music, popular dances and rituals from Greece, spread over 2 hours of fascinating field and documentary recordings. Casting an observant ear over the Med, relatively close to MBE’s Naples base, the twin tapes offer a guided tour of ancient rituals that are thriving in the modern age, drawing links across aeons that help us understand and mark cultural distance travelled over the ages, identifying a familiar need for hypnotic rhythm and sound to aid humans transcend themselves. It's an unmistakably joyful and spirited celebration of rites rarely heard outside their island locations, and one that speaks to the composite nature of Greek music as a product of its mosaic-like make-up, absorbing traditions from proximal regions in Bulgaria (Thrace), and the Balkans.
Tape 1 features an audio documentary of the Pan-Cycladic Tsabouna Festival in Santorini (2011), alongside field recordings of panigiria / festivals held in honour of regional saints, especially in the Cyclades and the Dodecanese islands. Side A features Ramona Stout narrating and in conversation with players of the tsabouna, a member of the bagpipe family that can only play 6 notes, explaining its role in evoking a state of ecstatic trance through sound, and its recent cultural renaissance in Greece, cut with field recordings of its mesmerising tone deployed in situ. Side B focusses on Santorini and the celebration of the pan-cycladic tsabouna festival in Ikaria, plunging listeners into the thick of the celebrations with ecstatic, febrile results that prove these customs are very much still alive this century.
Tape 2 takes listeners on a fire walk, offering documentation of an urban Anastenaria - or fire-walking ritual - in Akademia Platonos, Athens, Greece. Acknowledged as one the oldest rites in continental Europe, with roots in ancient Thrace (modern day Bulgaria), the Anastenaria is practiced by communities from northern Greece and descendants of refugees from the Balkan wars, usually over the course of a three day festival, presented here as an hour of blazing horns and excited chatter that soundtrack processions, icon blessings, animal sacrifices and ecstatic dancing, before culminating in the dancers trampling hot coals, somehow unscathed.
Anyone enchanted by Jay Glass Dubs’ solo gear or work with Wild Terrier Orchestra; Christos Chondropoulos’ AI-augmented revival of microtonal Greek musicks; or the feistiest Sublime Frequencies: will surely be in awe of these tapes. Highest recommendation.
Really good this! Influenced by an interest in rave culture and queer theory, keyboardist and producer Dan Nicholls sublimes solo piano loops and field recordings into chirping loops that end up sounding like Colleen or Susumu Yokota.
Just when we thought we'd heard everything solo piano, Dan Nicholls brings something a little different. The component parts of 'Mattering and Meaning' are familiar, but the way Nicholls puts them together is stunning in its simplicity. Starting with field recordings and jazzy improvisations on an acoustic piano, Nicholls recorded these elements to his phone and layered them as if the piano was just a part of the soundscape. It's this non-hierarchal examination of the piano that makes it so interesting - instead of being in thrall, Nicholls sculpts the instrument into hazy riffs and themes that echo dance music without seeking to recreate it.
This warts-and-all process is madly enjoyable: wrong notes and tuning slips become part of the texture, and room tones, voices and key scrapes become as much a part of the composition as the notes themselves. It's like hearing someone play piano in a dream or a distant memory, but free of the usual tropes. We're sold.
L/F/D/M, aka Richard Smith, makes his debut on Osàre!.
"Gold Like Glass is razor-sharp and elemental, with each track cast from long passages of synth dissected into heavy edits.
According to Smith, this composition process is akin to printmaking, where the ink on a series of images deviates from the original stencil, becoming looser, softer and increasingly ghostly. ‘After Whitney’ is haunted by peak time rave energy; the drums are disembowelled, leaving a rolling climatic melody, utterly euphoric and disorientating. The track is followed by ‘Blood Byze Leech,’ a thunderously jagged affair, and ‘Delicate Push’ that fizzles like an electrified spinning-top, its frozen melodies accompanied by a lolloping beat.
Turning over to the B-side, ‘Plute’ winds its way into dark psychedelia while ‘m-two nine’ descends into the realm of mutant de-accelerated bleep techno.
Combing the ciphers of hardcore, its cruxes and suspense, with the serrated edge of minimal synth EBM, Gold Like Glass presents an alchemical fusion of deeply danceable and cerebral noise."
Another luminous compilation from London's Death is Not the End, this time examining the city's modern jazz and hard-bop scenes from the end of the 1940s until the early '60s.
After the surge of interest interest in British jazz over the last few years, DINTE take us back to the beginnings of the sound. This set was put together alongside the Barbican to coincide with their "Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945-1965" exhibition, and shines a light on London's modern jazz and hard-bop sounds. Cuts from well-known players like East Enders Ronnie Scott and Harry Klein sit alongside Jamaican jazz musicians Joe Harriott and Dizzy Reece, with equally as important cuts from lesser-known proponents like Ginger Johnson and Eddie Thompson.
More than just a history lesson, the set offers us a fascinating and effortlessly enjoyable picture of the British jazz scene in the post-war period.
Re-issue of 1987's Sister from Sonic Youth.
"There is no album in the entire corpus of indie rock—not Loveless, not Surfer Rosa, not Psychocandy— that reaches the heights of invention, joy, and magic of Sonic Youth’s sublime fifth album.... The haunted reveries of Sister remain with you for years, even if you only hear them once….
Sister is the sonic manifestation of refracted light. It’s a record that changes you.” Stereogum. One of Sonic Youth’s most beloved albums, 1987’s Sister incorporated the dissonance of their earlier releases into more traditional song structures. It’s an innovative and thrilling work assuredly delivered by a band at the peak of their powers.
Reissued on the band’s Goofin’ imprint."
Strictly bashment and dembow murder from one of the UK’s leading dancehall DJs, throwing down a 90 minute mixtape on Tom Boogizm’s $hotta Tapes, after cultish razzes for The Trilogy Tapes and Cav Empt.
Nowadays also known as CEO of Chrome, the label behind that momentous ‘Now Thing 2’ retrospective, Felix Hall is regularly hailed as one of the key nodes between the UK and upfront sounds from the Caribbean and South America. Never one to blow his own horn, Felix has arrived at this point via obsessive attention to up-to-the-second club movements from Kingston to Medellín, and respect for the artforms therein - as opposed to social media posing - with a celebrated NTS show presenting the freshest rhythmic reportage to keen ears everywhere. However, it’s on his meticulous mixtapes where Felix’ tekkerz really come into focus, drawing for blue-rare cuts flawlessly stitched into a proper education.
Blow for blow, Felix’s $hotta Tapes 015 session is world class heavyweight. The A-side sees him go for the bashment jugular, juggling dancehall’s most upfront iterations in a pyroclastic flow of soundsystem melters, voiced by some of the dance’s biggest gobs and lathered with FX overdubs, and including some absolutely nutty, near-industrialised body music variants that go harder than your life.
Not letting up, on the B-side he fully embraces dancehall’s Caribbean cousin, dembow, bringing baga snares and fast chat to the table with equally on-point skills, only this time a little sexier and slinkier, with gnashing tresillo patterns helmed by hardcore, slamming bass direct from the source that has held heavy sway over club and pop paradigms since the turn of the millennium, and never more so than now.
what a fucking doozy‽‽‽
Sounds of Healing is a pairing of two Spirituals releases, For Those You Love Who Are Tormented or In Pain Pt. 2 and Sounds of Healing In Isolation.
"Both works offer a glimpse into the way Spirituals creates music therapeutically to confront and process tragedy, grief, and loss. While the work spans multiple distinct composition cycles, the combined collection is a captivating 90 minute journey into deeply intimate reflections– from the delicate acoustic harmonics in A New Kind Of Quiet to the ambient stretching electronic tones of Hospital Harpist."
After snatching our album of the year spot in 2021 with ‘Rhinestones', HTRK open up the vault for a feature-length collection of alternate takes, demos, and sketches augmented by a bunch of unreleased songs, compiled to coincide with their US tour happening round about now. Love this band so fucking much.
Offering a “glimpse behind the veil” at last year’s most effective emotional support animal, ‘Death Is a Dream’ plays like an unexpected encore transmitted straight to the heart. It’s such a weird, real pleasure to hear these songs distilled and viewed from other perspectives, as with the ‘rehearsal’ take on ‘Gilbert & George’ or the slow thrumming ‘Eurodance’ version of ‘Kiss Kiss and Rhinestones’, while the newly unveiled songs are no doubt worth cost of admission alone, particularly the tear-jerk jangle and blunted croon of the title tune that closes the tape and appears to feature Nigel’s voice.
A shivering new backbone of minimal, pulsing reverb-drenched 808s now bolster their watercolored strings in ‘Valentina (Cali Highway Version)’ while the clipped drums on ’Straight to Hell (Demo)’ frames the scene with brilliantly different strokes, while ‘Reverse Deja vu (Demo)’ is stripped to heartbreaking quintessence complete with woodblock drums piercing the melancholy.
"lost highway jukebox standards”, indeed.
Bristol techno, noise and hardcore supremos SCALPING's debut album “Void”.
"SCALPING are heavy metal in 4D; the sound is moody, distorted and rhythmic, but the use of electronic techniques gives the finer details room to breathe, making more space for experimentation.
Tracks such as “Tether”, featuring Oakland rapper DÆMON, puts a modern, metal twist on Bristolian trip-hop, whereas album closer “Remain in Statis” features fast-rising artist Grove, a Bristol-based rapper and self-professed metalhead whose commanding presence sets the track alight.
In the heat and darkness, it’s a swarm of low-end frequencies and ripping guitars, somewhere between Black Sabbath-esque psychedelica and The Bug’s sub-bass headfuckery. Live, the effect is immense. SCALPING play continuously for the duration of their sets, generating a storm of metal-and-techno through a rising beats-per-minute count."
Karen Dalton's 1971-released second album is given a deluxe 50th-anniversary reissue, freshly remastered with brand new liner notes and a grab-bag of extra material, including previously-unreleased live recordings and alternate takes. A masterpiece, with or without the trimmings.
Oklahoma-born icon Dalton is having a a moment, again. Last year, director Robert Yapkowitz released his documentary feature "Karen Dalton: In My Own Time", and now the the film's namesake is getting a deluxe reissue. Dalton straddled folk, blues, jazz and pop, and influenced so man musicians in our orbit it's hard to keep track. The documentary alone features contributions from Angel Olsen, Julia Holter and Nick Cave, and the reissue's liner notes includes an appearance from superfan Devendra Banhart. Dalton's power lied in her ability to blur genre lines - her distinctive gravelly voice able to embody country, R&B, blues and jazz simultaneously, without pandering to any stereotype.
Half Cherokee and half Irish, Dalton played twelve string guitar and long-neck banjo, and only recorded two albums in her lifetime, despite being a key figure in the 1960s Greenwish village scene and playing alongside luminaries like Tim Hardin and Bob Dylan. She was famously particular about her sound, hating industry involvement in music she felt was personal and important - her debut album "It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best" was only recorded after the producer tricked Dalton into playing, thinking the tape wasn't recording. "In My Own Time" was released two years later and Dalton pushed through her nerves by having her two children, dog and horse bussed in from Oklahoma.
The result was a heartfelt set of songs that, while familiar - 'When a Man Loves a Woman', 'Katie Cruel', 'How Sweet it Is' - sounds completely unique in Dalton's hands. She had a way of making songs her own, not just with that unforgettable vocal turn, but with the unusual arrangements. A traditional song like 'Katie Cruel' had been performed and recorded hundreds of times, but it's Dalton's version that feels like the standard at this point, taking on extra resonance with hindsight. When she sang of being unwelcome in town, wandering alone, it's hard not to think about her tragic death, following years struggling with homelessness, addiction and AIDS. And it was the failure of this album, now rightly regarded as a classic, that helped accelerate her depression and substance problems.
The album's additional material is solid: alternate takes of 'Katie Cruel', 'In My Own Dream' and 'Something on Your Mind' are interesting curios, and the bounty of live material, including a German recording of 'Take Me' and a slew of tracks recorded at the Montreaux Golden Rose Pop Festival in 1971, is engaging. But it's the remastered full album that will floor you. If you've never come across it before, do yerself a favor.
Đ.K. meets downbeat mystic Sabla for a devotional new offering on his fledgling Worship label; a smoky, moonlit, dubbed-out special, like some lost mid 90’s Mo Wax x Chain Reaction collab.
Offering an absorbing switch-up from the musclier ‘Gate of Enlightenment’, Sabla here pulls Đ.K. into a far more furtive parallel dimension where their familiar ingredients of tuned percussion and pads take on a more brooding character, one akin to Sabla’s ace debut LP ‘Music For Melted Floors’ as much as Đ.K.’s more reserved, yet richly atmospheric works for 12th Isle and Good Morning Tapes.
Call it trip hop, illbient, ambient beats, or whatever you like, ‘Totem Society’ is patently built for introspective times and not for club use. Across the six tracks we can isolate residual traces of experimental post punk from the likes of 23 Skidoo and O Yuki Conjugate feeding forward via the squashed beats of DJ Spooky and even Muslimgauze’s more opiated, somnambulant works to limn a place and time out of joint.
The stark gamelan dub of ‘Ocra Flat Lands’ sets shadowy parameters where the drums of ‘Dove’ bounce off the walls to contrast with ‘Bamboo Houses’ style synth progressions, and ‘Nubes Shepherd’ lightens it up a smidge with something like a quasi-speed atmospheric D&B production, before nastier neurotic acid line complicates the feel. The penultimate ‘O’ likewise dials up jazz-fusion influence via Source Direct-on-quaaludes sorta vibe, and ‘A Minute’ beautifully sees it off with more impish synth voices hinting at Coil-esque zones.
Christian Love Forum debut on The Death of Rave with an unmissable suite of microtonal, new jack swing jams and apocryphal synth prayers discovered in a Thessaloniki thrift shop - think Teddy Riley x James Ferraro meets Gurdjieff and Mark Snow during an eclipse.
Enriching the mystery of Christian Love Forum after their cult album ‘Naked Light’ surfaced on the amazing Live Adult Entertainment in late ’21, this bonus tape of 12 crudely mesmerising votives grant a compelling insight to the trio’s mystic working practice in-the-moment. During the months since it manifested, the tape has become our most played and cherished listen in recent memory, conjuring an holistically immersive vibe for the eons with minimalist ingredients of loops and live keyboards maximised with the spirit of God to enduring effect. Ancient-futurist, darkly romantic, and utterly hypnotic, it simply slays every time.
Revolving keybordists Nicolas, Kiro, and Scott, very little is known about the band aside to their Christian names, but their music says all you need to know. Between the pendulous swang and searing organ vamps of its opener, thru its astonishing centrepiece of face freezing microtonal improv ‘Extra 6' drawing parallels with Gurdjieff and Litüüs, to the pair of extended panoramic synth jams on the B-side, CLF blur the sacred and profane with a proper grasp of intrigue, and stuff, that’s all too rare in the contemporary sphere.
Spirit-tested at Manchester’s new book, booze and vinyl portal, Peste, to awed response every time, CLF’s syncretised blend of devotional music with nods to late ’80s/early ‘90s thriller soundtracks, and cybernoir game music, is just untouchable and ineffably effective. Saints, sinners, heathens and heretics will all find something to lock into and send eyes rolling in the back of their skull.
Good Morning Tapes celebrate their 50th release with a suite of rapturous to blissed and meditative new age temple-strokers from Finland’s Simo Hakalisto aka Shakali, highly recommended spiritual/innerzone healers for lovers of anything from Alice Coltrane to Tomoko Sauvage.
Previously found on a short-run tape with Ikuisuus in 2021, the music of Simo Hakalisto aka Shakali is rich with swirling textures and Eastern mysticism, with a smart pre-midi bent. On ‘Aurinkopari’ Simo nimbly deploys a mix of massaged sine waves, hydroponic recordings, and a Javanese gendèr (a type of metallophone used in gamelan ceremonies) at the service of a mesmerising, naturally fractal-not-fractional conception of experimental ambient practice.
Heady but heartfelt, the set proceeds within a remarkably well realised and self-contained system of sound from the lush bloom of the title tune to the pastoral rumination of ‘Rural Aural’. Where the Alice Coltrane-esque opener is reverberantly plush with thrumming bass, cascading plucks and its brooding wind motifs, the following parts dematerialise into a subtler play of the senses, trickling from the metallophonic iridescence of ‘Aja Udu’ to hypnagogic exotica in ‘Ad Astra’ and organic, airborne melody in ‘Aluilla’ with a marked care and empathy for your trip.
Well, fuck what you know about claire rousay & more eaze, as they probe saccharine hyper-pop on a mad but fascinating one, including cameos by How To Dress Well and bloodzboi, for the revered Orange Milk label.
After building a strong rep for messing with lower case ambient and avant-classical convention in recent years, the duo change tack almost entirely to find a sort of skewed honesty in pop music - we’re talking proper melodies and choruses, and lyrics about crushes and the like. Of course, we say they almost entirely switch it up, but there’s still traces of their puckered avant-classical tekkerz in play, placing this surprising new body of work in a light shared by the legendary efforts of Lovely Music Inc., with a style of composition that challenges perceptions of contemporary pop; fiddling with its tropes and finding a peculiar, gurned reflection in the process.
Where there was a groggy magick to their earlier works, these ones are soberly upfront and piquant with melody, offering a glaring focus on the alien weirdness of autotune that dials up comparisons with Rebecca Black via “Blue” Gene Tyranny and Arca. If we’re quite honest, it all makes us feel uncomfortable in the most perplexing way. We’re compelled/repelled in equal measure by the sunny pop-rock pomp of ‘hands’, and find ourselves snagged on the pop R&B ickiness of ‘iphone2’, while ‘camille’ and ‘floor pt2’ fruitily short-circuit naif dance/trap-pop tropes. There’s a clear standout, no matter which way you look at it, in the warped ambient-pop of ‘missed’ ft. relatively straight-played appearance of HTDW and bloodzboi, and it’s not hard to hear claire & more eaze’s classical chamber affectations eliding puckered pop structures in ‘art’.
2022’s earliest and biggest head-scratcher, right here.
Finn gives a full dose of loose-limbed house and UKG rave on his most substantial beat-tape to date.
Leading on from the stunning Iceboy Violet mixtape with his 2 B Real department of Local Action, Finn’s hope springs eternal across nine tracks that simmer, then bring the dance to boiling point, with his classic UKG tekkerz. Without wanting to blow smoke up his ass, few producers in this paradigm have stamped their character on classic UKG quite like Finn, who continues to infuse the template with his own sense of soul (albeit vicariously sampled), rather than so many colouring-book examples from the revival wave. The nine tracks of ‘Everything is Alright’ are a masterclass in how to do it properly, but your own way, with ample deep and up-for-it bangers for ravers of the smartest persuasion.
Joyful, with a side order of melancholy, the vibe is empathetic of the times, toggling his feels from the gentle pill belly lift of his flute loops, organ vamps and mantric vox on the title tune, thru the speed garage welly of ‘Big Raver’ to the woodcut drums and pastoral bliss of ‘Forever Blue’. There’s an ace slice of sub-contoured deep garage house in ‘A.Y.O.Y.O.’ and an electroid Detroit variant in ‘I Don’t Know’, plus deeper burn in the slinky skip of ‘Ere U Are’, and a soul-grabbing elision of Jersey club and northern soul horns in the woozy ace ‘Alright’, saving a very special treat for the chamber -garage elegance of ‘Never Leave’ with its nagging piano refrain and and end-of-night processional flex.
The keenly awaited debut full length from Joy O arrives as a proper friends and family affair, packed with guest co-production and vox by Herron, James Massiah, Bathe, Léa Sen, Goya Gumbani, and many more
Twelve years since his anthemic first single ‘Hyph Mngo’, ‘still slipping vol. 1’ shapes up as a definitive long-player/mixtape with 14 choice cuts that speak to breadth of his tastes and stylistic bonds. Also spirited with a number of voice notes sent from family during lockdown, it offers a vicarious glimpse into the personal world of an artist who has come to define a certain aspect of UK rave over the past decade, exerting a kinds spotless spin on mutations of UKG and sub-bass heavy techno, with shades of D&B-style production. Here he continues and expands that agenda with dips into woozy beatdown and drill alongside signature swangers, finely toggling the London pressure gauge to a modestly homely, home-listening and headphone vibe.
Personalised by the presence of family everywhere from the opener’s sample of his dad, to the cover photo of his aunt Leighann, who introduced Joy O to garage and jungle at a formative age, the results prefer a slow burn intimacy over any raving madness. He keeps everything in-the-pocket and dialled down from Air Max bounce to Hush Puppy hustle from the Reese bass dembow of ‘sparko’ with Herron, to the lissom 2-step of ‘born slipping’, craftily drifting into a D&B lane on ‘layer 6’ and testing out soulful drill style on ‘runnersz’ and the bloozier ‘’rraine.’ But the album is really defined by its vocals, with James Massiah (DJ Escrow ov Babyfather) nimbly dancing around ‘swag’ and Léa Sen lending some Morcheeba vibes to the tech house of ‘better’, with conscious bars by Goya Gumbani on ‘Playground’, each complemented by sprinkled samples of his family giggling and chatting.
Paradigm-shifting percussionist Valentina Magaletti stops time on 'La Tempesta Colorata', a long-form set that rolls thru tempos and time signatures with gymnastic flexibility, offering another spectacular entry to A Colourful Storm’s gravity-defying recent run of releases.
Magaletti is a regular and constant presence on these pages as a member of Moin, Vanishing Twin, Tomaga and CZN, as well as thru endless collabs with everyone from Floating Points to Nicolas Jaar, Jandek to Helm. For our money, though, she's at her most arresting when operating in solo mode. "La Tempesta Colorata" was recorded at Cafe Oto in October 2021and follows her astonishing 2020 solo set "A Queer Anthology of Drums” with a virtuoso performance that never drags for a moment, fluctuating from ASMR scraping to angular post-punk rhythmic pulsewerk.
With a full drum set, a handful of additional small instruments and a delay pedal, Magaletti somehow captures a full spectrum of sound, employing only minor additional elements to flesh out her sound. From the dewdrop swagger of the opening minutes, thru rolling tom-led seismic activity - complete with customary screams - and into echoing industrial dub-improv experimentation, she's able to assemble her rhythms with metronomic accuracy, but with enough space in the gaps to enhance inherent human qualities - a far cry from fully electronic studio productions.
It’s a spellbinding display of polymetric complexities where no two seconds repeat themselves, persistently pulling patterns apart and restitching them in diffractive slow-fast-slow temporalities that arc from showers of cascading hi-hats, to pugilistic breaks, to an unexpected trough of Twin Peaks-y drones around the mid-section, only to climb out of it via icicles of melodic chimes and into more humid areas of her imagination, ultimately shoring up in pitch black Amazonian zones.
If you're into anyone from Autechre to Eli Keszler, Milton Graves to Han Bennink, this one's a mindmelt.
Following essential tapes from DJ Nobu, Vladimir Ivkovic, Andy Mac and Time is Away, A Colourful Storm's mixtape series Fleetway Tapes returns with this undulating hourlong set of mirrored tech-house and dimlite dub atmospheres from Dutch-Turkish producer Konduku.
Leading on from a string of 12”s with Donato Dozzy & Neel’s Spazio Disponibile, Delsin and Nous’klaer Audio, Konduku puts his work into practice on an hour long session of sleek, rolling techno minimalism recalling countless hours of wiggle-jacking in red lit basements and house parties many moons ago (the naughties). Quite specifically it dials into that period before producers started getting weirder or “lo-fi”, prizing a sense of crisp, clean tones and space that made for a more hypnotic dancing experience as he coolly modulates the flow like a pro. The A-side plays it more reserved, subtly toggling between slouchy swang and slightly more offbeat sludge, before the B-side steps up the momentum by degrees with more nagging, trancier motifs and gritty astro-jack tracks.
Wet Leg's self titled debut album.
"After releasing two of the best singles of the year, Wet Leg’s Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers were catapulted from their confines on the Isle of Wight to sold out venues across the UK and packed-out tents at festivals causing giddy excitement wherever they went. Now, the duo are thrilled to unveil their debut album. The album is called ‘Wet Leg’ via Domino.
‘Wet Leg’ was recorded and produced in the main by Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey (‘Chaise Longue’ and ‘Angelica’ were produced by Jon McMullen and Josh Mobaraki respectively). The album was mostly recorded in London, in April 2021, meaning they had a finished album before the world had even heard debut single ‘Chaise Longue’ or played live. “I guess how it happened was unconventional,” admits Hester."
mari maurice's latest solo set is an extended, inward-looking love song made from glistening fragments of dub techno, desert blues, experimental field recording, post-Kanye hyperpop, glitch and DIY house. Gorgeous narrative ambience for fans of Space Afrika, Perila, Lucrecia Dalt or Lea Bertucci.
There's a hesitance to 'oneiric' that harnesses the same nervous energy as an orchestra tuning, appearing from near silence with melodic elements nervously poking through environmental recordings that sound diaristic and sensual. Faint whispers and fleshy crackles rub against piano flourishes, vocal phrases tangle around Gavin Bryars-esque strings, and burned electronics carve into ornate rave orchestrals. Soon, a track that initially felt as minimal and fragile as a sleepwalking ant erupts into symphonic, distorted bliss, like My Bloody Valentine reimagined in perfect miniature.
maurice punctuates 'the neighborhood' with a kickdrum, manipulating expectations to drive a track that sounds like dub techno reduced to a single-digit BPM. Fuelled by a country-fried electric guitar and maurice's barely audible voice, it conducts like a whisper in the ear of a lover - part kiss and part pillow talk. claire rousay appears on 'heartbreaker', ducking from hypercolor synth flourishes and field recordings into a 4/4 so blurred you might not even notice it until you focus yr attention. Lucy Liyou provides vocals on 'heartbreaker', wailing softly into midnight drone and foley shuffles, creating a perfect crescendo without breaking a sweat.
It's the final track 'crii' that's the most surprising though; a rubbery minimal deep house groover that slowly builds into near-pop with percussive glitches and an Autotuned vocal turn from maurice herself. As diaristic and genre-blurring as Space Afrika's 'Honest Labour' and as sensual and unexpected as Perila or Lucrecia Dalt - it's a bit special this one.
Manny’s deadliest soul squad cough up ‘True Volume 2’, unbuckling an hour of killer, spangled vox and greazy beatdown spliced with messed-up, mushied electronics, primed for heads down with anything from Madteo to Kemetrix to Actress to Firewire.
Staggering back out of the echo-chamber/hot box, three of Manchester’s rudest reel off a slanted and enchanted sequence of events with a totally bezonked charm. We can hear aspects of each artist mixed up in the murk - Michael J. Blood’s strange soul, Sockethead’s grubby blooz, Rat Heart’s tattered electronic tekkerz - but crudely harmonised in a wickedly unresolved flux of individual styles that variously firm up in gobs of mutant Memphis rap, wigged-out Detroit beatdown and private press avant-funk slump.
Like the first volume, and, to be fair, everything else that’s emerged from this cult and prolific Manc microcosm in the past few years, the pressure is perfectly modulated to the downstroke, setting a laid-back buoyancy that effortlessly primes the session for all-dayers with the curtains closed or late night smokers basking by moonlight. That’s not to say it hasn’t got rough edges and x amount of crankiness up in its bones, but we could happily imagine letting this one roll on repeat until we run out of Raws.
Metamorphic masterclass from one of the best in the game; Jon K arcing thru grime, dancehall, gqom, footwork, UKG and Afrobeats on a tight-as-fuck 90 min selectors special, one of those that toggles between a ruck of shit you’ll prob never ID alongside heaters you already know, framed out of all recognition.
Recorded for the Club Night Club, NYC crew at the Sugar Hill Supper Club, this one ranks among Jon K’s best, optimised for club consumption but with ample contextual sprawl, gaming the ‘floor with unpredictable transitions between genres, continents, and modes that make absolute zero sense in writing and nothing but sense in the flesh.
You can go whistle for a tracklist, but know that the vibe is euphoric, emotional and highly zonked - from a spiralling booty reconfiguration of moments in love to a sort of looped and screwed Reichian phase action without breaking a sweat.
Basically, if you’ve copped and relished any of Jon K’s mixes for The Trilogy Tapes, $hotta Tapes, Reel Torque or Cav Empt, you’ll already know this one’s going straight on the top of the fiyah pile.
One of Manchester and the UK’s most cherished, Iceboy Violet blazes thru on a debut album of killer, dare-to-differ grime and reeling stream-of-consciousness rap with production and contributions from Space Afrika, Emily Glass, Jennifer Walton, Slikback, Nick Leon, Mun Sing, Blackhaine, Daemon, Orlandor, Exploited Body and aya/LOFT - finally released via Finn’s label - BIG RIYL aya, Arca, Blackhaine, Eartheater, Mykki Blanco.
After rising to prominence over the past five years via arresting live performances, cult self-releases, and guest credits for peers including Eartheater, Loraine James, and Blackhaine, 2022 is set to be the year that Iceboy Violet properly breaks thru with ‘The Vanity Project’. As a pivotal figure in Manchester’s nightlife economy, Iceboy Violet has come to represent the city’s enviably open-minded approach to club music, swaggering across outmoded boundaries with a wickedly skewed balance of upfront and road-level aesthetics countered by more oblique, enigmatic urges to self-expression. They share much in common with longtime spar, aya, not least their roles in queer-dominated collective boygirl, but also credits on the world-taking ‘Im hole’ LP of 2021 and a mold-shattering take on UK club and electronics, however ‘The Vanity Project’ is where Iceboy Violet really knocks us out with an unabashed lyrical confidence wrapped to rudely brittle and noisily damaged grime productions.
The seven tracks bleed a pent, irradiating energy that feels like we’re properly in the c.21st. Warping and buckling the templates of grime - this century’s most vital UK innovation - they effectively mirror the difference between original rock and its punk antecedents, covering the distance travelled from the formative touchstone with a helplessly mutant spin on its fundamentals. From the gripping insight of ‘Urban Ambient’ to the valdo-melted brilliance of ‘Atone/Blankface’, it's really special, innovative stuff, messing with convention at every turn from the Enya-goes-drill bewt ‘Are U Connected’ thru the bittersweet pucker of IDMelody and gurned grime in ‘Lilith’ starring Blackhaine, to the unmistakably hungry and raw highlight of the title track, and a scudding sort of nod to soca/singeli/congo tekno styles on ‘Antiskeptic’, with Croww-adjunct, talons-out noise in ‘Deathdrive’.
Fucking gwarn then. Unmissable.
Singapore-raised, London-based cyborg Yeule toys with quiet/loud dynamics and neo-expressionist electronic pop idioms on a breakthru album of AI lullabies and post-human fever dreams - RIYL Lena Raine, Grimes, Eartheater
‘Glitch Princess’ is a sprawling yet exactingly stylised showcase of Yeule’s hypermodern pop, weaving aspects of computer game soundtracks, ‘90s grunge and shoegaze, with epic R&B balladeering, in a wholly 2022-ready record of the times. Fragile, whispered lyrics about self-love, lust and the emotions that came flooding back after the artist’s self-imposed sobriety are framed in world-building aesthetics, intended to express the artist’s unbound identity and the freedoms felts as a non-binary artist.
The dozen songs toe the finest line between sincere and corny, drawing upon all the conventions available to spunky young hyper pop sprites and magpie-picking the most luridly effective for an unabashed expo of Yeule’s style that attempts to find depth in its ornate surface detail and immediacy. We’re really drawn in by the icily naif, confessional opener ‘My Name Is Nat Cmiel’, and find ourselves simultaneously attracted/repelled by sashays between saccharine, saturated harmonies and syrupy torch songs, with curious cuts of screwed grunge-dreampop piquing our interests in ‘Perfect Blue’ and the curbed Avrilian enthusiasm of ‘Don’t Be So Hard On Your Own Beauty’, or noise-pop of ‘Fragments’ and the crystalline seduction of ‘Friendly Machine’, which comes off like Fuck Buttons meets FKA Twigs.
DJ Plead switches gears for a more infectious, slow and deadly percussive whirl on this killer 40 minute session for our Documenting Sound series, mostly recorded on a Yamaha ‘Oriental’ keyboard and inspired by the likes of CS + Kreme’s ’Snoopy’ album and Felix Hall’s dancehall mixtapes. Proper spacious, all-tension-no-release gear from one of the best in the game.
Recorded and sent from his home in Sydney, ‘Relentless Trills’ sees Jarred Beeler aka DJ Plead dismantling his much-loved hard drum club style. Dropping the tempo and conserving energy levels across a suite of smoky, tense works, he matches the waviest microtonal vamps with the signature, rhythmelodic lilt of his drums in a properly hypnotic style.
Equally influenced by vintage dancehall riddims and the inspirational glow of CS + Kreme's psycho-ambient heartmelters, the results sound to our ears like an offshoot of Mutamassik releases for DJ/Rupture’s Soot, or Shackleton slowed to a hash-smoking drift and heading on a Mahraganat tip. A hazy introductory piece of autotuned vocals and digital bass prodding seduces from the front, with the vibe spilling out into deep, spaced-out dancehall pressure with deliriously strong works almost nodding to Timbaland and The Neptunes in ‘RT5’, closing on a mesmerising beatless highlight in ‘RT6’ to seal the deal.
'Liye Liye' is an outerzone burner, shifting Congolese sounds and soukous rhythms into a bleep techno milieu, flirting with grime's enduring exoskeleton. Tip!
La Roche's debut solo album establishes a series of releases on Nyege Nyege Tapes focusing on new music from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The producer is best known for his work with eco-activist collective Fulu Miziki, but on "Liye Liye" his outlook is electronic, examining the DRC's musical traditions and balancing them with influences from further afield, melting Afrohouse and gqom elements with lithe, mind-altering techno, shifting soukous (a sound derived from Congolese rumba) thru grime and trap pressure.
It's hard to express how bizarre and brilliant the result is - the ragged, slow electronic voices that growl beneath chants of "liye, liye" on the languid title track are odd and hooky, the glassy FM soundset on 'Esperimante Abbe' underpins loose, rapid-fire toms and left-of center melodic blasts that really sound like nothing else out there. There's an air of Sweet Exorcist's transportive early dance construxxions on 'Figuyr', but the moment you expect it to grind into 4/4, it mutates into near-highlife jubilation.
The album's most surprising twist isn't on the chiptune-inspired 'Azaliawa Instrim' or the chaotic, acid-dipped 'Fox de Moroto', it's on 'Elela', a track that sounds like Wiley's Tunnel Vision instrumentals, gunshots included, where spooky synths and car sounds cram into a deliriously fucked four minutes. Unhinged in the best possible way, "Liye Liye" is proof - if it were needed - that the DRC always marches to the beat of its own drum.
Been a while since PAN threw a curveball, but here’s a proper mad one - a new tape from Memphis rap legend DJ Spanish Fly, with an A-side bursting with new joints, and a flipside dubbed from baked vintage tapes. Strictly limited edition - you know it’s gonna fly.
There's no sense talking about Memphis rap without acknowledging the outsize influence of DJ Spanish Fly, the pioneering DJ, rapper and producer who paved the way for Three 6 Mafia, 8Ball & MJG, Tommy Wright III, and the later ascent of crunk and trap.'The Godfather Of Memphis Rap Mixtape Vol 1’ is more than just a history lesson, packaging a remastered suite of established classix with a selection of completely new material, refusing to let DJ Spanish Fly's legacy languish in nostalgia. It paints an illuminating picture of an artist who's always kept his ear to the ground, acting as a connecting node for his city, DJing regularly, and still laying down bars on any number of local mixtapes. There's no Denzel Curry, Spaceghostpurrp or Lil Ugly Mane without DJ Spanish Fly!
There are few officially sanctioned releases of his work either, despite well over a decade of rumors that something was coming. He cut his teeth DJing and rapping in South Memphis in the early 1980s, and quickly transitioned from winning events to hawking mixtapes to his local legion of fans. These cassettes swiftly became the stuff of legend, and while he recalls only selling "around 100" of each edition, bootlegs began turning up throughout the city - as his reputation grew, those mixtapes rolled through the South like snowballs, inspiring seemingly every young DJ, rapper or producer who heard them.
There was one song in particular that hoisted Fly's star skyward: a quirky "Dragnet"-inspired belter by Queens duo Showboys called 'Drag Rap', a track that gained notoriety in the South as 'Triggerman'. Fly bought the 12" before hearing it, but was stunned by the booming 808 sequence and made it a central point of his routine, using it again and again in his own productions. Soon, a dance craze had assembled around 'Triggerman': the gangsta walk. The track became so widely recognisable, and so popular, it was banned from local events for inciting violence; years later, 'Drag Rap' is one of the most sampled tracks in rap, having singlehandedly informed the direction of New Orleans' regional style, bounce.
Fly's ear for booming 808 sequences and looped movie samples gave his sets and productions a distinctive flavour that made Southern rap so particular in the '80s and through the '90s. Its influence can still be felt in the globally popular trap sound - even Drake has sung the praises of Memphis rap, sampling 'Drag Rap' on 2018's 'Nice For What'. Fly gives a firm nod to his part in this on 'Buckdance/G Walk Jukin' and 'Triggamanzz Revenge', allowing the brickwall 808 bass to marinate after a run of fresh material mapped out his contemporary flex. Hearing the Memphis God on slippery contemporary productions like 'Alarm' and 'Remember' just shows how ahead of his time Fly actually was - his rubbery drawl spreads across doomy, sparse synths and sub-heavy 808 kicks like butter. At 50+ DJ Spanish Fly has more swagger than rappers half his age.
Flexing attitude and raw low-end power from beginning to end, it's the tape's contextual uniqueness that pushes this one into the musical vortex. Each side helps draw out a story that's still being told, and being able to hear Fly's development through the decades in this way allows time to melt away into sub-bass, eerie riffs and gloopy rhymes.
Respect the godfather - it doesn't get heavier.
Third and final volume in the series, always mad limited.
“The Sound of Inevitability” we're told - and aye - whatever that means know that this one's another mad trip, from electrifying mojo sci-fi vibes to ESG space funk and low-slung laser-beam energy, mixed fast and sharp but with enough overdub shenanigans to keep u guessing all night long.
Completely fucking unhinged genius from perennial audballs Vanligt Folk with a beguiling patchworked 31-track suite of demented electronic wooze, unhinged vocals, sludgy cut-ups and off-piste techno blatz to file somewhere in between CS + Kreme, Autechre, Vainio, Dale Cornish x Fever Ray, mixed with classic Fonal madness, except considerably weirder than any of that sounds.
Fondly remembered around here for their killer ‘Palle Bondo’ 12”, Vanligt Folk’s David Sundqvist and Jessie Garon reprise that sort of madness with an extra dose of lysergic slipperiness on ‘Black Friday Hele Uka’. Sloshing their psyches over 31 tracks, they skewer and subvert yr expectations - whatever those might be - herding a big sack of screwed samples thru mutant wormholes that bend and buckle between splayed 2-step (‘Ett hjul av vatten oh eld’); scrunched up techno (‘En himmel att längta till’) and tripped-out acid (‘Sanger far barndomen’); plus freakish psych-folk (‘Kult af nada’ and ’Swedish dad’), and inexplicable acid-pop audness (‘(Af) kött’ and ‘’Arbæ’), all delivered with uncompromising sense of daring.
If u like yr shit fully screwed and unpredictable, this is it.
Death is Not the End follow up 'The Sun is Setting on the World' with another set of Greek rebetika from the 1930s to the late 1950s.
What we now know as Rebetika originally developed from Greek and Turkish folk music in the late 19th century, taking in aspects of Orthodox church music, and Ottoman cafe music and slowly developing into a sound that's now become recognisable enough to be certified by UNESCO. Death is Not the End's latest collection begins in the 1930s, as the bouzouki was becoming its main instrument, asserting a dominant Greekness after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
This was folk music, but with teeth - because it developed from cafe music, there's an edginess to rebetika that's often overlooked if you're missing the lyrical content. A deep dive will reveal songs about drugs, women, pain, loss, alcoholism, all that good stuff.
Finnish sound designer Atte Elias Kantonen dematerialises into surrealist hyper-synthesised glaciality on one of the most satisfying new electronic works we’ve heard this year. It’s both future-facing and entirely familiar with traditional experimental modes, a rare example of uncompromising sound design that also makes for a completely mesmerising listen. If you're obsessed with Theo Burt's still entirely inimitable ‘Gloss’, or the work of TCF - you might have just found a worthy companion.
Packed full of glassy sound design, spatial trickery and the kind of stylistic discipline that would no doubt make Mark Fell or Florian Hecker salivate (or more likely nod in appreciation), Kantonen has done that rare thing of making what should ostensibly be an unlistenable experience translate into one of the most emotionally engaging avant-electronic releases we've heard in time.
Kantonen's compositions are like fluid architecture - full of satisfying, gravity-defying curves and unexpected turns - and still somehow still in possession of a warm, glowing heart, expressing a world of emotion thru gloopy sonic textures. Perhaps its the sheer resonant beauty of the palette - those synth pads are really nothing short of transfixing - but every turn seems to take you to a new vanatge point, each one displaying a rendered vision of the future that’s all too human despite all those ray-traced, chrome contours.
It’s basically the audio equivalent of tasting a rainbow, on acid, and we're fucking glued to it.
Porridge Bullet presents Maha by Ajukaja & ATS.
"Ajukaja and Ats got together in a worn-out smoke sauna, behind their rusty synthesizers, squeaking whistlelators and clattering drum-machines and came up with this tape’s worth of loosely funked up improv-not-improv steam-house catching all the night-creatures. Wet monster-toads, eerie moths, springy worms — all gliding in and out on foamy harmonies and rattling beats."
Chopped and screwed french hardtek and dutch/german gabber, Jean Carvel selects. Erwan Tarek (Low Jack) chops and dubs!
Next on the cultish Editions Gravats label, Low Jack slashes and burns thru a stack of choice french hardtek and dutch/ german gabber selected by his partner in crime, Jean Carval. Dissecting and then stewing the crusty scally sound of late ‘90s continental Europe in its own juices, the results are cooked up into 42 minutes of oblique, pulsating savagery bound to leaves bits in your teeth.
Swallowing the raver’s spine whole and spitting out the marrow, Nation De La Boue is a severely warped take on an already severe sound, masticating the rotten entrails of classic Cavage and Hangars Liquids-associated acts - UHT, Saoulaterre, Yann Dub, Bambule, No Tek - and transforming them into a disfigured and contorted mind gurn laced with lysergic voices, mutated hyper-rhythms and K-holing trapdoors.
If you’ve never heard a 3m tall, 12m wide soundsystem play 200bpm hardcore at 7 in the morning, you basically haven’t lived. However, as that means 99% of folk are effectively just walking dead, this tape offers scant opportunity to actually grasp life by the short and curlies, provided you have the required soundsystem and an abandoned airfield to run amok at daft O’Clock. Although your bedroom and a battered boombox with functioning tape deck will definitely suffice, too.
The 3rd, final and by far away baddest volume in Hieroglyphic Being's archival deep dive; harvesting cosmic house jackers salvaged from a pile of VHS tapes of a 20+ year vintage, and including some of thee wildest productions in the entire Jamal Moss microcosm.
The final batch of ‘The Shittest Sounds U Don't Ever Want 2 Hear…’ presents a further dozen VHS-baked aces from Jamal's crypt, including cuts from far back as 1996, and all speaking to the unique breadth of his vision over the years. As longtime disciples of the Sun God will know well, the Chicago deity is a real unbique presence in his field, bridging house with its jazz and psychedelic machine music origins to locate a very special, inimitable energy that keeps us coming back for more.
Anyone who has followed the series and indeed Hieroglyphic Being’s work to date will recognise the mad quality within, characterised in the nine minutes of outstanding, psychosexual house thrust in ‘Deep Up In IT (1998 Edit)’ and the shocking club turbulence of ‘Mystical Equations (1996 Edit)’, and thru to a pair of keeling synth noise jams named after distant, earth-like planets.
Observant acolytes will be rewarded here with some of Jamal’s deadliest; going wickedly overeasy on the rhythmic noise drill ‘2Mass 1750-00’ and properly far-out in the aforementioned ‘Gliese’ parts, while unleashing angular nuggets such as the lusting, tracky killer ‘Freaky Little Creatures’, plus jab-jacking arp riders such as ‘Romp Stomp’ that hypnotically hark to his more melodic works with Axis and Klang.
Jamal is a real one, and this lot ranks as classic, canonical jakbeat.
Prevailing new age ambient currents bring X.Y.R. to Good Morning Tapes for a subtropical bliss-out in the glistening mode of his turns for 12th Isle, Quiet Time Tapes and others over the past decade
Under a moniker that translates to Temple of Solitary Reflection, Vladimir Karpov’s X.Y.R. pursues a “sensitive state of hypnosis” thru the soft timbres coaxed from his “formant” synth and field recordings made in Kerala, India. His lushly realised scapes call home to the pioneers of the past decade’s new age revival and now its leading lights, Good Morning Tapes with a particularly spirited, five-part / 40 minute trip drifting from floatation tank ambient to humid, soundtrack-y feels suffused with new age ambient’s typical, mystic subcontinental fascinations.
From the slow cosmic pads and bucolic settings of ‘palaruvi healing falls’ thru the lilting tablas and canopy of colourfully plumed avians in ’thirumalai kovil steps’, to its levitating ‘dervish dance’, between the spiralling plumes of ‘black sky chant’, and the plangent nocturnal motifs and distant dreams of ‘secret path to north cliff’ it’s a tape designed to lower yr heart rate, a concept we can properly fuck with atm.
Tidy sound design-focused deconstructed soundscrapes from French producer A/N (formerly known as Apollo Noir). One 4 fans of Lanark Artefax (where r u pal?), Shapednoise, Stroboscopic Artefacts etc.
Harking from the French steel city of Thiers, A/N has good reason to make music that sounds like bent and broken machinery floating thru a weightless void. The album's seemingly incomprehensible title is a deconstruction of the French word for steel (acier), setting the stage for a record that pulls apart the concept of metalworking aesthetically and conceptually. A/N balances his glitched-aut, gurgling grids of mangled percussion with casual bursts of euphoria, like cotton-wool pads on the electro-tinged 'Avouer Condamner', or "LP5"-era AE frozen shimmers on 'Fer Forgé'.
Elsewhere, harsh digital particles shift with sprayed vocals, rich analog textures and live drums, courtesy of Seb Forrester. It's an engaging atmosphere that will remind you of late '00s world-building from EOG and Einóma, bridging those worlds to the contemporary deconstructed islands of Shapednoise or Lanark Artefax.
The excellent Death Is Not The End label has done it again with this stunning collection of early Japanese ryūkōka music, documenting the beginnings of a sound that was popular in Japan until the 1960s.
Before the US occupation of Japan and the dominating influence of Western pop, there was ryūkōka, which literally means "popular song". The term now means a specific style of music that emerged in the 1920s, and fused Western classical music techniques with traditional Japanese folk sounds and kobushi singing.
On "Longing for the Shadow", we get to hear the subtle beginnings of the form, before it was influenced by postwar US presence in Japan. The music's theatrical qualities stand out most, with decadent vocal parts hovering over folk instrumentation. Due to the time period, the quality of the recording itself gives the music its own unique character, offering us the chance to travel into a completely different universe.
Some of the sounds might be hazily familiar from their usage in Japanese cinema, but most of the pieces here are startlingly unique. If you enjoyed the Kouta Katsutaro tape Death Is Not The End put out a couple of years ago, this one's going to be completely essential.
Reel Torque hand over to new wave pioneer and original goth/’alt.’ DJ, Annie Hogan, for an unmissable mixtape redux of her role c.1983 at Soho’s Batcave, a crucible of London’s goth scene.
Nowadays regarded for her solo piano works, Annie Hogan’s illustrious oeuvre is inseparable from the history of post-punk, new wave and goth, with thanks to her part in legendary bands ranging from Deux Filles to Soft Cell and Marc and the Mambas (= not to mention beside Jacques Brel, Yello, and Barry Adamson; the list goes on, and on!). However, the ‘Batcave ’83’ mixtape highlights her lesser known role as a key DJ at Leeds’ goth bastion Phono and Soho’s Batcave, the latter where she deployed a killer record collection to its colony of “Batfreaks” such as Siouxsie Sioux, Robert Smith, Nick Cave, Kid Congo Powers, Blixa Bargeld, and Lydia Lunch - many of whom would become Annie’s long-time collaborators. The 90 minute mix reprises exactly the sort of early hours set Annie would play at the Batcave - same records, mixed the same way - for a hugely entertaining session of context and subcultural archaeology primed for anyone who came thru, or has an interest, in the UK’s goth or ‘alternative’ scenes.
As a politics student in late ‘70s Leeds, Annie found herself in a crowd with Marc Almond and Dave Ball, soon turning her hand to club promotion and DJing lineups with Soft Cell and The Human League. She became one of the earliest DJs at foundational Leeds goth and alternative club Phono - an epicentre of Northern alt scenes - in the basement of the Merrion Centre. Gigs with Marc and the Mambas took her to Soho’s Batcave, run by Oli Wisdom and Jon Klein, where she took up residency in 1983, creating an early hours soundtrack “to enhance the night”. DJing to a Gotham City-styled backdrop of spider’s web drapes, bats, a jeep, and a “naked body shimmering” Danielle Dax, plus a sex room cinema; Annie’s selections spun silvery threads from classic TV themes to punk covers, swaggering NYC no wave thru early northern english industrial and rock n’ roll, with killer strains of what had emerged in Leeds as goth rock, proper.
Thru her curation and programming of infamous nights at Phono and the Batcave, Annie was effectively there at the square root of goth in its purest form, and also what would become known as “alternative” clubnights - formative sort of events well known to refuseniks and outsiders in the UK. From the big cities (e.g. Jilly’s Rockworld, MCR) to, importantly, smaller towns (e.g. Blaises, M’bro), these clubs and their communities served as an incubator and lifeline for many, and we owe some debt of gratitude to Annie for helping shape and define the sound at its hotspots. Aye, she’s a real one, and this tape is a black gold bat signal for all self-respecting goths and “alternatives”, wherever they may be.
Another treasure trove from Death is Not the End, "Wounds of Love" collects 1960s slow rock, pop and R&B 7"s from Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. Super moving stuff, that digs deeper and more meticulously than similar sets from Sublime Frequencies et al.
This bumper set unearths music that's rarely heard on this side of the world. During the 1960s, Phnom Penh was flooded by music: rock and pop records from the UK and USA, and chanson and bolero 45s from France and Latin America. The result was these sounds being absorbed into the country's musical landscape, which until that time was mostly influenced by Hindu forms and classical dance.
"Wounds of Love" looks at the Phnom Penh scene before the widely-known garage rock boom of the late 1960s, and it's a revelation. These songs are slow and romantic, undoubtedly inspired by pop and rock trends but spiked with a unique Khmer element that sets them in their own dimension. Gorgeous stuff.
On his absorbing debut for Nick Klein and co’s Enmossed X Psychic Liberation, Forest Kelley cultivates an ecology of mulched post-ambient sounds.
With the two durational sides of ’Silt’ Forest Kelley manipulates a batch of guitar recordings made with Jacob Uretsky in 2004 to resemble the organismic ecology of the aphotic depths - evoking a world without light where the logic of nature persists nonetheless.
The results draw impressionistic parallels between the dynamics of ambient dub techno at its most abstract, and the life of nematoda, annelida and other abyssal worms that process and enrich the hummus beneath our feet. With his stripped down, raw source palette morphed into elusive ephemera, Kelley smartly evokes the complex life of simplistic organisms, modelling dank, lightless conditions where the music occurs with a naturally mulched logic, occasionally resolving into moments of poignantly human emotion, but more often guided by an animist, almost occult-ish urge to tap into more universal, primordial, or sixth senses.
Bit of a trippy rush this one.