Cosmopolitan pop from 1920-50s Shanghai, spotlighting a cross-fertilisation of east/west pop and cinema music during a golden age, before it was outlawed by the CCP.
“Shidaiqu literally means “songs of the era”, a term used to describe a hybrid musical genre that first began permeating through the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai in the late 1920s. Blending western pop, jazz, blues and Hollywood-inspired film soundtracks with traditional Chinese elements, the shidaiqu represented a musical and cultural merging that would go on to shape a golden age of Chinese popular song & film in the pre-communism interwar period.
Waiting for Your Return brings together a wide collection of recordings for an anthological overview of the style. Taking in it’s early beginnings in the work of the pioneering composer Li Jinhui – whose 1927 song “Drizzle”, featuring the vocals of his daughter Li Minghui, is often referred to as the first shidaiqu record – through to more polished 1930s & 40s examples, when China’s western-influenced popular music & movie industry reached it’s golden age with the prevalence of the Seven Great Singing Stars (Bai Hong, Bai Guang, Gong Qiuxia, Li Xianglan, Wu Yingyin, Yao Lee and perhaps most prolific of all, Zhou Xuan).
Included in the collection are tracks recorded right up until the music’s demise in Shanghai in the early 1950s – during which time the Chinese Communist Party denounced shidaiqu as “yellow music”, outlawed nightclubs and pop music production, and destroyed western-style instruments – following which, much of these singers would decamp to Hong Kong where many saw further success throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s.”
Deerhoof's Miracle-Level, via Joyful Noise Recordings.
"Did you know that miracles happen every day? We don’t always see it that way. We look at the state of the world and think, “It’ll be a miracle if we make it out alive.” But miracles are what humans do. We’re Earth’s most inventive and unpredictable species, when we’re allowed to be. Also the most destructive. Miracle-Level is Deerhoof’s mystical manifesto on creativity and trust. It celebrates the infinite small wonders of existence that spontaneously present themselves, when not obstructed by our death-driven masters.
Musically, Miracle-Level is vulnerable, brave, and brimming with spicy surprises. Deerhoof’s 19th album is also their their first to be recorded and mixed in a recording studio. Production was entrusted to Mike Bridavsky, at No Fun Club in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This is also their first album written entirely in Satomi’s native language. Deerhoof once again speak in a secret code that only their fans understand, in which hooks abound, and genre is nonexistent."
Isabassi goes on like Brazil’s answer to 33EMYBW with a a debut album of insectoid rhythms and mutated traditions on the label helmed by FFT.
“‘Speaking Things’, the new album from Isabassi, is a collection of highly detailed industrial music examining her singular perspective on rhythm and texture. Through brittle percussion, supernatural atmospheres and astonishing bass power, the Brazilian composer and artist explores a conversational narrative on the first full length Super Hexagon release.”
Heavy-duty Indian soundsystem carnage by its leading proponent DJ Smiley Bobby, on Uganda’s immense NNT - unmissable for anyone wowed by recent videos of Indian sound clashes, priming the label for incoming heat by DJ TSR.
A proper mazza from Maharashtra State in Western India, DJ Smiley Bobby’s ‘Dhol Tasha Drum Exercises’ presents nearly an hour of up-to-the-second, electronic re-interpretations of ceremonial drums. It’s a full-frontal example of the rave energies in BRIC countries currently catching fire internationally, paralleling innovative mutations of Baile funk in Brazil or from the Svbkvlt lot in China with a ruthlessly rough brand of dancefloor discipline that sharply bends tradition into the hot present. Yr ears will not deceive you - DJ Smiley Bobby’s gear is frankly some of the sickest we’ve heard in a minute and we expect this introduction to be prized by any ravers unsatisfied with Western club music’s increasing tendencies to imitate-not-innovate.
First formed by the late Shri Appasaheb Pendse in the ‘60s, Dhol Tasha Drum exercises were originally performed on a sort of acoustic kettle drum but became electronically adapted in recent years thanks to the likes of DJ Smiley Bobby and peers including DJ Aasif, DJ Ammy, and DJ TSR, the latter of whom is due to drop an album with NNT this year. DJ Smiley Bobby’s introductory session finds the sound at its stripped down and breathless best with a ceaseless battery of drums and percussive madness that truly puts willing bodies thru their paces as the mixtape steps from side A’s 90-110bpm workout to its 150bpm ‘Hard Drum Sound System’ on the flip.
Also kinda mirroring the way DJ Plead has flipped Arabic drum styles, how Bilou XIV have transposed Senegalese mbalax drum patterns onto machine grids, or DJ Diaki’s Malian balani knee-ups, we’re certain this one will light up the pleasure centres of proper dancers everywhere, and dovetail with the sort of thing Beatrice Dillon makes, or anyone who’s been scouting zones where Indian bhangra and UK rave music bump fists, a la Mick St. Clair’s remixes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Soulful sound-system renegades Seekersinternational cook up 40 minutes of dubbed out, sunny day ‘90s hip hop, reggae and glistening R&B for Japanese denim manufacturers Edwin
Blessed with the sort of Vitamin C boost that SKRS have specialised in since 2008, ‘Healing HiFi’ follows in the mode of SKRS’ classic cut ’n splice mixtapes/albums such as ‘LoversDedicationStation’ with a flawless flex here.
The session is rife with nostalgic madeleines of sunny ‘90s optimism, heralding a sense of romance that feels alien to these times, like tuning into someone else’s dream mixtape/sweetly-spangled thought broadcast. You'll find golden era sampledelic hip hop nuzzling laid-back NYC ragga and lovers dancehall, toggling flashbacks to FM synth-sparkling boogie-soul and R&B with a steady hand on the FX and the other clutching a cup of gin and juice.
35th anniversary reissue of Rudimentary Peni’s 2nd album of punk snot and spunk, conceptually indebted to H.P. Lovecraft
Rather than repeating the revved-up gothic deathrock styles of their legendary debut ‘Death Church’ (1983), Rudimentary Peni took another five years before they came out with 1988’s ‘Cacophony’, whose 34 tracks paid homage to the life and foundational horror aesthetics of Lovecraft - no doubt a huge influence also on the artwork of RP’s Nick Blinko.
The results are still as short, sharp and fierce as their predecessor album, but also weirder and more narrative-based, with Blinko switching between possessed snarl and spoken word as the music fulminates gothic horrors of pranging, gurning, distorted guitars and pummelling drums next to stranger detours into dirgey gothic prayer on ‘Beyond the Tanarian Hills’ and the manic gibber of ‘American Anglophile in the World Turned Upside-Down’.
Guy Brewer revels in the cruddiest ambient noise and messed-up rhythms on his compelling debut as Carrier for The Trilogy Tapes.
Adding to his carousel of pseudonyms (Alexander Lewis, Commix, Covered In sand, Pacific Blue, Shifted), Brewer’s Carrier project explores a more loose-limbed and freeform formula than his usual, bloody-minded focus on a singular thing such as corrosive techno or greyscale noise. Here, granular detail is sprayed into more abstract shapes, underpinned by tight subs and a percussive swing that’s anything but rigid.
The seven bits of ‘Lazy Mechanics’ are alternately hard-nosed and sentimental, brittle and gunky, immersive and OOBE-like as he transitions from the astringent atonalities of ‘Chlorine’ to Thought Broadcast-like elegiac ambient of the title tune, and more nervously switches from the gob of bilgy slow techno in ‘Harsh Features’ to a razor-stepping zinger ‘Product of Environment’, and a superb piece of radioactive nasal drip dissonance in ‘Lost on Me’. ‘Ten by Ten’ sounds like T++ on a slower pulse - all snapped, rattling drums and tight subs, and album closer ‘Biger Skies’ fractures a dose of dappled euphoria for the warmest fuzz.
Definitely the most forward facing and enjoyable Brewer productions we’ve heard in years, trust TTT.
Lukid & Tapes aka Rezzett’s sick 2018 début album lands on cassette years after the vinyl edition sold out.
In possession of a sound that we described at the time as something like exotic birds nesting a space echo inside your ear, Rezzett, along with the likes of Jamal Moss, Actress, Terekke and Huerco S. were responsible for re-balancing the fidelity of dance music in the 2010’s, with radical insight over just how much scuzz and fuzz u needed in the dance.
Using various processes of attrition, they made a virtue of purposefully muddy vibes and steered clear of anything like proper resolution, embracing the infidelities of analog hardware noise for a sort of shabby chic appeal that 5 years on sounds prescient and normalised.
Rezzett essentially came to define that sound at its murkiest and most romantic, pulling from jungle, garage and ambient noise paradigms to forge something viscerally affective and memorably their own, as experienced between the mottled VHS memory-bank shakes of Hala, in the squirming, sore but lush Sexzzy Creep, and the salty angels tears of Yunus in Ekstasi, with the rusty grime and jungle shanks of Gremlinz and Worst Ever Contender lending a cranky, rinsed out finale.
DJ 0.000001 runs stacks of unreleased Shangaan missiles in a heat-seeking throwdown for leaders of the African new school, Nyege Nyege Tapes.
Giving us flashbacks to the heat of Honest Jon’s legendary 2010 compilation and its corresponding tours feat Shangaan disco dynamo Nozinja and dancers from Limpopo, DJ 0.000001’s mixtape hustles x-amount of exclusives that harness the sound’s galloping 180BPM energy in myriad mutations made between 2015-2022.
With energetic parallels in Tanzanian singeli and the Balani mix style of Mali’s DJ Diaki, Shangaan Electro is the incendiary and up-for-it party sound of Limpopo, a region of South Africa whose sound famously sped up over the decades to its breakneck current iteration, demanding ever more intricate and spellbinding footwork from its dancers. DJ 0.000001’s summary of Shangaan thru its remixes forms a party-ready rush spanning what sounds like Rian Treanor galvanising the sound with insectoid algorithms, to the adaption of RP Boo’s frenetic Chicago footwork, and punkish spins from the fringes of Nyege Nyege Tapes’ swelling number.
Billed as "the definitive Unknown Mortal Orchestra record", 'V' combines AOR and Hawaiian Hapa-haole music, strangling the songs with up-to-the-minute indie rock production techniques.
Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch, disco, Captain Cook, drone metal and pop, Ruban Nielson has plenty to say on his fifth UMO record. So much in fact that it's a double album that takes Nielson's unmistakable production style to its logical conclusion. If the band's combo of vintage mic/FM transmitter vocals and redlined instrumentation has helped define an era of indie rock, 'V' pushes everything the Kiwi band stands for to its limit, sculpting their songs into crumbly remnants of a soon-to-be distant aesthetic. For the moment, it's still novel and serves the band well, elevating their quirky songs in the same way a film camera might boost the emotional resonance of a set of holiday pics.
Opening track 'The Garden' is based on Bosch's 'Garden of Earthly Delights' but isn't nearly as horrific as that might sound. Nielson's vocals are squashed into a helium shriek, accompanied by Marr-like riffs and drums that'd be lo-fi except for the fact that it's obvious they've been thru numerous processes to sound so rickety. But the sound Nielson is able to approach is quite marvelous, mimicking vintage US AOR while simultaneously critiquing its excesses by leaning on distortion, saturation and compression. 'Meshuggah' is another highlight, sounding like Michael Jackson (or Michael McDonald?) dubbed to a rotting cassette tape. It's a lengthy album, but packed to the gills with purposefully grotty, perfectly manicured pleasures.
Right on the sweetspot between lovers, rub-a-dub, and early digi pressure, Robert Ffrench’s 1985 dancehall holy grail becomes the 2nd drop on Death is not the End’s reggae reissue label, 333 following a new edition of Devon Russell’s ‘Darker Than Blue’.
“Pioneering artist and producer (and cousin of the late, great Pat Kelly) Robert Ffrench was born in central Kingston in 1962, recording his first records in 1979 at the age of 17. Coming out off the back of a slew of roots & early dancehall-style 45s cut with a wide range of producers thoughout the early '80s, the Wondering LP's release followed closely after two acclaimed LP sets ('Showcase' produced with Lord Koos & 'The Favourite' for Ossie Thomas' Black Solidarity label - plus a split showcase LP with Anthony "Gunshot" Johnson for Jah Thomas' Midnight Rock label).
Ffrench would write and produce the Wondering LP himself in it's entirity, laying down the tracks at Herman Chin-Loy's Aquarius & Michael Carroll's Creative Sounds studios with the help of engineer Christopher Daley. Representing the sound of an artist first confidently striking out on their own, the album elegantly mixes a classic rub-a-dub & lovers rock-inspired sound with nascent digi-esque flourishes. It boasts an enviable list of contributors too, incl. Sly & Robbie, Dwight Pinkney, Robbie Lyn, Nelson Miller (Burning Spear) and Ronald "Nambo" Robinson among others, with Beres Hammond also providing backing vocals in places.
Following the release of Wondering, Ffrench would continue to write and produce, soon after releasing two further self-produced LPs for Edgar White's Parish label - and founded his own 'France' label in the late 80s, through which his productions would start to hit big, most notably alongside Courtney Melody on 'Modern Girl', and with US rapper Heavy D on the track 'More Love'. Robert's productions released through later label 'Ffrench' would go on to boast the cream of the crop of dancehall artists throughout the 90s and early 2000s, and he is often credited with discovering Buju Banton (producing his first single "Ruler" on the Stamina riddim). Ffrench is still actively producing music of his own to this day.”
Alvars Orkester was formed in 1987 in Johannishus, a small village in the south-east of Sweden by a group of young boys interested in the mysteries of psychic sickness, mental institutions, industrial music culture and the power of sound.
"For the first very creative years, Alvars was very active within the independent cassette culture scene releasing their stuff (that quite soon drifted from the industrialism inspired by Test Dept, TG, SPK and z'ev to an atmospheric, psychedelic and quite ambient version of noise) on small labels in Italy, Portugal, USA etc.
Joachim Nordwall writes: "1990-1991. In the middle of all teen confusion going on, me and Zwarre had a long creative time together. Recording every weekend, connecting with like-minded (or at least we thought so) people around the world and trading tapes with whoever. Our world was analogue synths, Party Zone late Friday nights on MTV, zines and out-there experimental music. By then, we had a few tapes out and had "Nobody Finds Nothing" being released on the Italian super-label (in our opinion) Biotope Art Organization. We were in the midst of something and recorded "Nuthull" for another Italian top level label called Old Europa Café. However, they did not like it and the tape was abandoned and forgotten. Then years and years later, close to present time, Zwarre was in touch with OEC for some reason and had the master returned." - Joachim Nordwall, Gothenburg, 21 February 2023. "
Anonymous Sextet For Perverted Piano by Ben Glas, an experiential composer based in Berlin.
"Through ephemeral compositions Glas' work questions preconceived notions between the acts of passive hearing and active listening. In seeking to discover open ended forms of music and pragmatic listening perspectives, Glas' compositions focus on the realms of subjective perception and cognition, via the use of acoustics, psychoacoustics and space as tools for sonic composition.
Ben Glas writes… "Anonymous Sextet for Perverted Piano is a conceptual performance piece that combines a traditional grand piano, six long-distance remote controlled vaginal/anal vibrators and the prolonged use of the piano's sustainer pedal.
The six vibrators were strategically (and preparedly) placed atop of the strings of a various grand pianos (and one harpsichord), while random strangers around the globe connected to and operated the sex toys remotely. After the random and unwitting performers had befriended and synced-up with a catfishing account linked to the six individual vibrators and controlled by three different smartphones, they then sent vibrational patterns and pulses to stimulate their assumed target. The then-kinetic vibrators bounced, slid and bopped aleatorically through the tonal possibilities that the piano and piano's soundboard itself permits. The piano's sustain pedal was held down throughout the performance, elongating the triggered notes and the good vibrations.
All tracks on side A are performed by those unwitting performers, while side B's single track was performed with (more than) a little help from my friends (Anonymous (1), Genesis Victoria, Harry Hudson-Taylor and Hayden Dean)." – Ben Glas, Berlin, 16 February 2023."
Recorded in late 2021 and early 2022, Cryptic Lexis features two long-form pieces connected by field recordings made in The Shetland Islands in 2019.
"The wind through a gate on a Bressay hillside is mixed with cascading guitars and minimal electronic percussion on "Confetti for the Flames" and recordings of Bains Beach form the backdrop of "Out on the Coast the Spirits Are". Paris based artist Graziella Torrigiani contributes words and voice to the latter, her text a direct response to the instrumental track."
Taut jazz-techno improv from London’s experimental underbelly, teasing apart and resolving in real-time the strictures of conventional style and pattern.
“теплота is the London-based duo of Grundik Kasyansky & Tom Wheatley. Their work interrogates the haptic, social and liberating relationships with technologies old and new; using feedback synthesizer and computer-acoustic bass, they fuse a spontaneous interplay orthogonally over cyclical structures, with techno as perpetual fulcrum.
Following their debut HEAT/WORK on Cafe Oto’s TakuRoku label and the monthly ЭС research series, Skynned land on Accidental Meetings. Half techno, half free jazz, the music is both hypnotic and open-ended, relentless and ephemeral.”
Sick death metal mixtape mayhem from cult duo Scheich In China for the reliably uncompromising V I S label - a must if you clocked that DKR pearl for The Trilogy Tapes, the $hotta Hardcore session, or just for anyone attuned to the meditative wonder of music at the extremities.
As you might have clocked from Scheich In China’s logo or the intense gnarr of their music, death and black metal is a key touchstone for Alsen Rau and Philipp Meiers’ duo. On ‘Death Mix’ they explore that influence in-depth across 90 minutes of white-out blizzard axe work and hell-for-leather vocals that are making the flu throat wince right now.
Perhaps it's a symptom of growing up with replays of a strobed-out roadhouse or maybe it's the counter-intuitive link between relentless metal riffage and meditative drone - but we find this shit healing / life affirming to the extreme - an acceleration of energy that in our mind at least blurs into an almost Raga-like singularity that makes us feel zoned out and v alive. You still with us? get this tape, it’s the shit.
Properly absorbing electronic enigmas from Zaheer Gulamhusein (Xvarr, Waswaas) and Justin Tripp (Georgia), following their noses down the rabbit hole into aether-chamber interzones adjacent to Coil, Conrad Schnitzler, Werkbund, and Jeff Mills’ deep space missions.
A strong case of two artists transcending the sum of their parts, String present an immersive exploration of the unknown, realising a “virtual vacation” from which they never returned. Their quest somehow made it into the mitts of Hamburg’s V I S, where it follows the label’s Ditterich von Eulberg-Donnersberg (Werkbund) album with uniquely engaging findings from the brink; eight tracks rendered in swirling sci-fi noir tones, siren-like chorales and plangent off-planet pads scried with a kosmiche twinkle in their 3rd eye. In other words: the sort stuff you may well have come to these pages for.
In its elusive fluidity and unfathomably spatialized scope, we find the duo fusing to project a sound that, without prior notice, would be difficult to attribute to either artist. There are no doubt traces of Zaheer’s new age toned work as Xvarr and the microtonal shimmer of Waswaas, and likewise Tripp's mutant sensibilities carried over from Georgia, but they’re distilled to a darker substance than anything we’d come to expect.
It’s not so much gothic dark, more dark as in full of negative space, with a richly meditative appeal that threads their hardware improvisations from the Millsian deep space intrigue of ‘Phase Transition’ thru the eldritch eeriness of ‘World Line’, to the illusive choral motifs of ‘Fringe’ and oceanic abstraction of ‘From the End to the Beginning’, with glimmers of a more lush, idealistic hope in ‘Plus Operator’ and the cinematic ‘Degrees of Freedom’ that beautifully moderate the journey.
Karl O'Connor’s Downwards mark 30 years in the game with a 30 track / double tape edition featuring label classics, rarities and exclusives, including material from label boss Regis, his pal Surgeon and as a duo in British Murder Boys, plus Tropic of Cancer, JK Flesh, Veronica Vasicka, Female, Ann Margaret Hogan, Fret, Robert Hampson and many others.
Originally founded in 1993 to release the results of Karl’s sessions at the studio of Mick Harris (Napalm Death), Downwards effectively picked up the baton from Birmingham’s early metal, techno and industrial heritage and have run with it ever since. ‘Spasms and Savagery’ finds them still gassed on the thrill of dank electronic mood music for dancing, crying and screwing.
The tapes include magisterial synth music from Simon Shreeve (Mønic, CUB), thru Anni Hogan’s solo piano blooz, William Bennett freaking the fuck out of Russell Haswell, and of course girder strength techno by Surgeon, Female and British Murder Boys, plus archival nuggets attributed to Karl O’Connor aka Regis - the dark ambient noise pollutant ‘Day One’ as Farmer & Karl (an exclusive, early recording from pre-Downwards days, 1988), and we would speculate the recording of Brummie workmen admonishing each other for necking Frosty Jacks on the job, plus a killer new CUB work ‘Informal Beauty’ with Mønic, who also supplies an extra-reticulated remix of Regis’ ‘Blood Witness’.
Never one to rest on their laurels or bask in the gurn of adoring techno nuts, the label has also often wormed into weirder ends, as characterised by Robert Hamspon’s grinding Chasm dub of Veronica Vasicka, or the opiated slug of Karl’s work with Einstürzende Neubauten’s Boris Wilsdorf and My Disco, resonating with the industrial clangour of Nitzer Ebb/DM producer Paul Kendall, while Justin K Broadrick aka JK Flesh brings it home to roost with the knuckle dragging stottish‘Offering’.
We’ll leave it to Karl himself to tell it like it is.
“I’m incredibly sorry for wasting everybody’s time. all artists included here are no strangers to the black embrace of loneliness and have spent all their whole “careers|? crawling around the woodwork of pigeon holes. Not one of them fell into those holes and I love them all for that, the useless bunch of sillies.”
Karl O'Connor, 2023.
Duane Pitre and Eleh present two extended drone collaborations precisely based on pure intonation utilising the prime numbers: 1-3-5-7.
The slowly unfolding results don't require a thesis in musicology to be enjoyed. Taking inspiration from the vibrational waves of sound, gravity and water, the duo yield seemingly naturally evolving layers of pure sine waves evaporating the kind of shimmering harmonic overtones that one breathes in and could practically and bathe in. They're graceful, seductively somnambulant and nuanced pieces of work, certainly not challenging, and provide a great sense of calm, centred stillness bound to reward patient listeners in dividends.
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma ventures into a radically discombobulated new sound with a staggering first solo album in four years - a huge RIYL Huerco via Actress.
Since the turn of the millennium Jefre been instrumental in re-shaping the tone and spirit of the OG shoegaze template via his influential Root Strata imprint, his solo recordings and releases as part of Tarentel and The Alps, collaborations with Liz Harris (aka Grouper) as Raum, and a pair of albums with Félicia Atkinson for Shelter Press.
‘Poverty’, however, is a radical departure, embracing a disorienting clutch of amorphous ambient-technoid drifters that leave his more conventional roots for dust. It’s one of those albums that makes us feel like we’re tiny lumens swilled with sand and jelly in a kaleidoscope, unable to trace the endlessly morphing shapes around us. Bolstered by biorhythmic machine pulses owing to the loosest ends of experimental Techno, the music here is given to a rich flux of elusive harmony and dynamic texturing that sounds like Actress at the tail end of the heaviest session, all smoke and shimmering, rhythmic gloop.
In 11 parts he streams a particular sort of delirium from the underwater trance bliss of ‘Name Myself’ to its full-sunken closer ‘Dead Body Blues’. We get snagged on the briny post-club rip-currents and harmonic hypnagogia of ‘FA Song’, while ‘Circles’ feels like floating in water, gradually smothered by waves. He references his roots with a literal nod to Grouper on ‘Torn Ocean (For Liz)’, the sun-bleached ambient daze of ‘Shame’ and ‘nervily activated thizz of ‘Smile Shaped Bird Shit’, beside coruscating acid oddities like ‘Non-person’ and the illbient flip of the title tune - all in service of an elusive, weightless mood.
‘Poverty’ is the best we’ve heard from Jefre, a mere three decades into his career...
A jaw-unhooking followup to Japan Blues’s recent album for DDS that runs at nearly twice the length of its predecessor, this astonishing tape is a fantasy regression session that folds resonant gongs and dense field recordings into snatched shamisen twangs, smudged enka and minyo recordings and gurgling, hypogean noise like some early C.20th Japanese answer to US folk blues. If you weren’t already spun out by the first one, this companion piece is guaranteed to unravel your proprioceptive senses and leave you with the uncanniest sensations of motion sickness of time travel, unchronic nostalgia or déjà entendu, haunting like The Caretaker and Chris Watson in an endlessly oblique matrix of reverb, echo and delay.
Howard Williams’ 5th Japan Blues excursion delves deeper into recordings made with singer Akari Mochizuki and Tsugaru shamisen master Hibiki Ichikawa for Demdike Stare’s DDS label. While the original album was already a deeply disorienting and heady experience, this addendum pushes the envelope farther into an oblique hall-of-mirrors where lonesome, plangent traces of Akari Mochizuki’s vocals ricochet down long corridors of layered field recordings and etheric folk-dub.
Elements that seem airy and identifiable in the first few minutes bleed into waterlogged environmental recordings and Mochizuki's sonorous song, before Williams' own words nudge into the foreground. A ghostly sonic vapourtrail curls around his words like smoke, and the extended piece takes a rickety rail into Sheol, zooming into the grit and muck, letting dissociated echoes pop and crack in place of a melody. By the final moments of the first side, we're left with isolated gong tones pulled from their usual context and placed alongside drowned percussion and mossy whistles.
The album's second side is more angular and rhythmic. Mochizuki's voice sets the scene again, disintegrating into woodblock percussion, birdsong and buried organ vamps. Again Williams uses a spoken word segment to signal a stylistic sea change, his words blurring as tempestuous growls intersect vibrations and off-world drills. We're not submerged completely this time, Williams and The Dengie Hundred keep a few limbs outside the murky blackness, letting Mochizuki's voice echo out and into drums that lead us into an abrupt, ritualistic end.
Intensely tactile music, 'Compainion Peace' is an exercise in cultural exchange that's impressionistic, compassionate and completely unforgettable.
3 Feet High and Rising is the debut studio album by hip hop trio De La Soul and was released on March 3, 1989.
"It marked the first of three full- length collaborations with producer Prince Paul, which would become the critical and commercial peak of both parties. Critically, as well as commercially, the album was a success. It contains the singles, "Me Myself and I", "The Magic Number", "Buddy", and "Eye Know".
The album title came from the Johnny Cash song "Five Feet High and Rising". It is listed on Rolling Stone's 200 Essential Rock Records and The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums. When Village Voice held its annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for 1989, 3 Feet High and Rising was ranked #1. It was also listed on the Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Released amid the 1989 boom in gangsta rap, which gravitated towards hardcore, confrontational, violent lyrics, De La Soul's uniquely positive style made them an oddity beginning with the first single, "Me, Myself and I". Their positivity meant many observers labeled them a 'hippie' group, based on their declaration of the 'D.A.I.S.Y. Age' (Da. Inner. Soul. Yall).
Sampling artists as diverse as Hall & Oates, Steely Dan and The Turtles, 3 Feet High and Rising is often viewed as the stylistic beginning of 1990s alternative hip hop (and especially jazz rap).
An absolutely essential slice of Hip Hop history that’s been unavailable for some time."
Death Is Not The End compiles hybrid pop from Shanghai on this bumper new set.
Death Is Not The End turn their attention to shidaiqu music, a term that literally means "songs of the era" and describes the music that emerged in Shanghai in the 1920s as a fusion of pop, jazz, blues, showtunes, and traditional Chinese elements. It's music that defined an era of Chinese culture before communism, and "Waiting For Your Return" works like a historical guide, featuring what's referred to as the first shidaiqu record - Li Jinhui's 'Drizzle', featuring his daughter Li Minghui - and plenty of material from the 1930s and 1940s.
The compilation stops in the 1950s before the music was outlawed by the Chinese Communist Party, who deemed the genre "yellow music", banning nightclubs and production houses and destroying Western instruments. The genre wasn't done though, many performers moved to Hong Kong, where shidaiqu continued to grow through the next few decades. If you're looking to get a relatively digestible guide, this is a great starting point.
Pö debuts on Hakuna Kulala with a furiously innovative mix of industrial/post-punk electronics, looped vocals, and ethereal, psychedelic transmissions that sound like a cross between Fever Ray, Grouper and Gabber Modus Operandi.
On ‘Cociage’ French-Ghanaian artist Pö builds on her work alongside Congolese producer Rey Sapienz in Poko Poko, channeling her voice through a pedalboard of effects and turning it into delirious pads and thumping, mechanical rhythms. The album is a personal summation of various different musical strands, assembled by an artist who's content to straddle borders. So 'The Reaping' sounds kinetic and rhythmic, built around furious kicks and Pö’s looping chants, while 'Klafouti’ pipes gurgled words through a voice modifier, smearing its remnants over a break that's so smashed it's barely a rattle.
On ‘Over the Clouds' the album steps into a different realm entirely. Here Pö adds a new dimension to new age music, humming gently into a vocoder and looping her reverberations over the top. Grouper is the most obvious point of comparison, but Pö’s combination of French chanson and West African pop gives it a bite that feels undeniably fresh. On 'Nuit Blanche' her cloud of vocals hits peak density before stumbling into a bit-crushed thump; assertive French words crack over the top w/ urgency.
Our highlight is the widescreen closer 'Galivanting', though, a track that wrongfoots us with lysergic, insectoid ambience before mutating into an airlock nightmare, Pö using her voice to command a robotic army of synthetic moans and flittering synths. It's horrifyingly beautiful stuff.
The debut album by East-Sussex raised, London-based guitarist, composer and producer Peach Banquet (aka Jonathan Palmer).
"'Rubber Leaves', a collection of solo guitar improvisations, invokes the feeling of jumping into a cool river in a heat-fogged daze, with meandering guitar lines that bubble and multiply like frogspawn before evaporating immediately into the ether. Recommended if you like Matsuo Basho's travelogues / haikus, John Frusciante's 'To Record Only Water for Ten Days', or Knobs youtube guitar pedal demos."
ONO host the physical edition of Uģis Jansons’ debut LP; a mixed bag of solo piano, lo-slung trip hop, synth-pop and electronica hailing from Riga, Latvia’s DIY scene.
Coinciding with the release of ‘Rīga Īpaša’, a survey of artists from his home city co-compiled with ONO, Jansons showcases his solo work on ‘NAKTHTTPS’ with a subtly psychedelic sort of micro-dosed DIY pop and beatdown moods & grooves. It spans jangly solo piano blues in ‘KLAVRĪT’ thru night owl jazz-tronica glitch on its title tune, with wistful trans toward electro-folk with crafty, layered vocal harmonies on ‘PLKST 1 13 5’ or ‘WAVESTATE’, and John Foxx-like synth-pop in ‘UPE’, keeping the formula curiously uneven with offset electro-jazz like a strung out Jimi Tenor in ‘KNTRLE’, and a nugget of downbeat trip hop ‘JĀ’ that exemplifies the variation and coherence of his vibe.
Flora Yin-Wong's new label/publishing house Doyenne ("for new forms, objects & the divine feminine") debuts with a fine split from multidisciplinary artist Susu Laroche and Yin-Wong herself: deploying a side of Laroche’s killer dungeon dabke followed by Yin-Wong’s astonishing, subterranean fever dreams.
We're excited about Doyenne. FYW has promised that her new label will handle more than just music; the second release is set to be a book about the tradition of singing to spirits featuring contributions from YL Hooi, Cucina Povera, Christina Vantzou and Lucinda Chua, and after that Doyenne will release photography, metalwork, poetry and illustrations as well as music. But the first release establishes the imprint's sonic foundations, and who better to rise to that challenge than Yin Wong and her London-based French-Egyptian pal Susu Laroche, who is also well versed in releasing art across multiple mediums, from making her own tarot cards, to producing films made with music by Mica Levi and Blackhaine.
Like Yin-Wong, Laroche infuses her sounds with context - her previous releases were lashed to ideas about 19th century occultists, trance states, ancient poetry and gender-fluxing Georgian monarchs. The tracks presented here have been left to marinate in the same gooey cultural oils; 'Hold Your Tongue' is precariously divine, unfolding gracefully from gusty vocal twists into bewildering dabke murk. 'Hours' is more asymmetric and hooky, sounding uncannily like Fever Ray as if produced by Shackleton, casually drawing us into a cycle of ritualistic chants, hand drums and acidic synths that suggest a levantine cyberpunk parallel history, with all the high-minded artistic exposition that might suggest.
Flora Yin-Wong follows last year's installation-led examination of the harmony between Daoism, paganism and Catholicism 'Sacro Bosco' with two immersive oddballs that strike a balance between spiritual nihilism and emotional abstraction. And - honestly - she just gets better with every release. If her Modern Love album ‘Holy Palm’ emptied her archive of years worth of field recordings, the tracks here are on a whole other level of madness.
‘Acid / Answered Prayer’ opens into the most desolate landscape imaginable, with ungodly howls and found sounds gradually multiplying in intensity. It could all go power ambient, but instead our ears are directed to the thrum of strings buried somewhere way down in the mix, all sparkling beauty illuminating the rot around it. So many people try their hand at this sort of textural/gothic ambient - but very few have done it at this sort of primal, deeply believable level.
The side ends on a short coda that in the space of 90 seconds folds from splintered Bill Orcutt-style broken guitar strings and thumb piano and into a sort of music box lullaby swallowed by apocalyptic industrial electronics. it makes no sense, and therefore makes all the sense in the world.
It’s hard to get excited by new labels when there is such a glut of new ones emerging pretty much every day, but Doyenne has a real shot at being a thing. We’re locked.
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.
ONO take the pulse of Riga’s musical underground with 13 works by artists largely unknown beyond their local scene; Elizabete Balčus, Uģis Jansons, Rudens Lapas, Bēdu Brāļi, Ivars Bez F, Imants Daksis a.o.
‘Rīga Īpaša’ was programmed by ONO’s Michael Holland with Uģis Jansons after the pair marvelled at the richness of Latvian music, and specifically the Riga scene surrounding Uģis’s recording studio. Considering that ONO have introduced the world to the likes of Tom Boogizm (pre-Rat Heart) and Marlene Ribeiro’s Negra Branca, plus myriad Manchester outsiders and DIY types over the years, we can trust that their cherry-picking skills are also on point here highlighting a wavelength of work running from fever-dream folk-pop to synthy torch songs, Grimes-like electro-pop, psych-soul and wayward styles that fall between generic integers.
The baker’s dozen pieces document a slice of Riga’s creative spirit in 2022 with results ripe for anyone snagged on the likes of Estonia’s Porridge Bullet, Finland’s Fonal label, or Stroom’s repeat returns to the region. Elizabete Balčus sets the tone with a captivating piece of ambient spiritual folk-jazz ‘Švamme’, and Waterflower’s radiant dream-pop electro work ‘Būrī’ helps define the survey’s breadth of style, along with standout highlights such as the DIY oil of ‘Freckles’ by OFF ME ON, the enchanted croon of Imants Daksis on ‘Spoks’, and the wickedly queried, curdled discord of ‘Klaviirs (Short Fuzzy Mix)’ by the set’s co-compiler Uģis Jansons, and the gothic post-punk jangle of Bēdu Brāļi.
The Heat Crimes label follows that incredible debut album from The Ephemeron Loop (as featured on countless EOY lists) with a twisted tape from Japanese ex-punk popon, swarming from psychedelic noise to Nkisi-esque kongo tekno impulses with unshakable conviction.
popon makes a convincing racket on ‘bubu’, grinding all of her influences into a fine paste, and using a handful of synths, samplers, small instruments and her own voice to drill noise into pulsating club rhythms. Mostly improvised, the music is a little like Giant Swan if the Bristol duo swapped factory strength 4/4 techno for the winding syncopated psychedelia you might expect from the Timedance imprint or artists like CCL and Rhyw, screwing rabid children’s voices, keeling banks of reverberating atonality and thunderous percussion into five overproof parts that beckon the apocalypse.
Opener 'Knock' exposes us to popon's love of hi-density chaos, boiling over from a curt, electrified simmer into a raging prism of metallic scrapes and ear-gouging distortion. She takes a left turn with 'Banana' directing screeching ghostmode synths into rattling upper-register rhythms that eventually cede to beating kicks, while bubu’ delivers the deadliest blow of all thru stampeding, double-time drums that run ruffshod somewhere near to Authentically Plastic on drills overseen by Masami Akita.
Seething club terror and animist energies par excellence.
Stunning liturgical shoegaze from Kranky’s Melissa Guion aka MJ Guider, originally released a couple of years back on a limited tape and now available once again in a new edition for 2023. Fuelled by pulsing drum machines, bells and an exceptionally expressive voice, it hits so many buttons for us all at once so as to feel like we’ve known it a lifetime, reminding us of sections of Cocteau Twins, Seefeel, Tropic of Cancer, Preisner’s ‘No End’ score, Cranes - but still in possession of its own unquantifiable spirit.
Recorded as a music score to ‘Known Mass. No. 3: St. Maurice’, a collaboration with friend and choreographer Ann Glaviano, ‘Temporary Requiem’ makes use of the traditional Latin requiem mass across 6 movements designed to help transport “the congregation” to the dreamworld. The 10 minute opener ‘Kyrie: The Stained Glass Windows in Their Original Order’ opens from choral drones into a sort of rumbling dreampop reminding us of AFX’s reworking of Seefeel’s ‘Time To Find Me’, the melodic lead supplied by a padded bassline wrapped around countless layers of texture and sweeping, filtered hi hats. ‘Gloria: Small Dance of Gratitude’ re-purposes the thudding kickdrum opening Cocteau Twins’ ‘When mama was moth’, but swerves through a vocal keychange into something else entirely, all detached vocal yearning somewhere between love song and lament.
Guion's vocals have always been impressive but feel especially devastating here, leaving enough space for each sound to respire; ducking around slow-motion beatbox cycles and queasy electronics. She binds her biographical litany of inspirations into a coherent blast of pseudo-plainsong and ethereal post-punk, her voice tripping from morose low-registers into layered choral cascades that genuinely made this listener bottle up in a gulp. When we reach 'Sanctus' - the album's shortest piece, a tape-rotted chant dissolves into an angelic aria. It's an apt preface for 'Benedictus', the moment we're shifted into gnarly droning landscapes of distended drone and saturated distortion.
Somehow the tenor adjustment works, deepening Guion's narrative and drawing parallels between vastly different forms of post-Catholic musical expression - there's truly no light without darkness. On the finale 'Agnus-Dei', she bolts together both strains of expression, singing over walls of harmonic guitar fuzz and a drum machine that sounds like machinery pushing through sandstone blocks. The noise abates before the track dims to a flicker, as Guion's operatic wails spiral deep into the pious abyss...
Raime’s post hardcore offshoot Moin mesh wiry guitars and rough hewn sampler chops to Valentina Magaletti’s flinty drums on a spring-heeled 2nd album for AD93 - RIYL Big Black, Slint, Fugazi, Discord-era bands.
‘Paste’ is the successor to 2020’s ‘Moot!’, which arrived some 8 years after Moin formed with a pair of releases for Blackest Ever Black. The project has since become the main vehicle for Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead’s fecund imagination, propelled by Valentina Magaletti’s drums, which had previously lent a seething bite to their Raime albums. Like that much adored project, Moin deal in a development of teenage nostalgia, whittling down enduring influences and reference points from the ‘80s & ‘90s to a taut, sculptural form of kinetic energy that moves perpendicular to contemporary trends.
There’s a shared sense of brooding introspection that ties their work as tight as bandaged straight-edge mitts; both projects defined by a certain swagger and discipline, but with Moin distinguished by a sweatier impulse that conjures the smell of sticky pub backroom carpets and well-worn band t-shirts from bygone days. Frankly, this reviewer hated that era in the late ‘90s, between post-hardcore and proto-emo, when the other main teenage option for an evening in small towns (they’re from Reading, I'm from a bastion of this stuff with links to Leeds’ epicentre) was £1 pint bars and shirts ’n shooz clubbing, but the way Andrews, Halstead and Magaletti reframe its context with a patina of half-heard, oblique samples, and a lean swingeing motion, makes it more intriguing and worthy of your time.
The nine songs on ‘Paste’ coolly distill their inspirations in sinewy chops between the skulking stepper ‘Foot Wrong’ and prowling discord of ‘Sink’, balancing teenage melancholy with more grown up Leslie Winer-esque samples in ‘Melon’ and ‘Knuckle’, and a certain tristesse in the melody of ‘Yep Yep’, while ‘Forgetting is like Syrup’ recalls Sonic Youth’s Chuck D propelled ‘Kool Thing’ in its pitch bent gnarl, and ‘In a Tizzy’ comes closest to more recent Raime works. ‘Life Choices’ is the clear highlight, gluing their wiry-then-saturated guitar top lines to a pendulous, needlepoint step and samples with a sexiness that recalls Kreidler’s recent evocation of ‘80s post-punk.
Alone with the Sound the Mind Makes by Koleżanka on Bar/None Records.
"While koleżanka's previous album, Place Is, was about life on the road and the people you meet living out of a suitcase, the new album is all about being alone at home. The voices that you hear in your head when you remember what it was like to hang out with friends. The drinks shared and the stories remembered."
A Manchester Soundsystem special, compiled from original recordings made at house & Blues parties between 1988 and 1996, fully connecting dots between early Manchester pirate radio culture and its latter-day experimental fringes - spliced together and dubbed into the void. Trust - it’s the lick.
Capturing the fabled Manchester soundsystem scene in its 1988-1996 heyday, the tape follows a sort of meta-narrative culled from multiple mixtapes recorded at the legendary Broadway, Stereodan, Soul Control and Splinta Blues Parties, slinking between sections of boogie soul and R&B, mad bashment edits and proto-house lit with MC chat and sloshing over with sirens and FX.
Anyone that lived in the area at the time will know that the story goes much deeper, Blacker, and far more eccentric than the standard Factory/Madchester narrative makes out, and this set of recordings reinforces the importance of those mostly undocumented days. Crammed with underground tunes that were run parallel to the hardcore, house and techno mainstream, played in a soundsystem style and notably slower, heavier in a way designed to hold the pressure in smaller spaces - there was no looney dancing for fear of jawing the lass next to you, or spilling Black Velvet on the next man’s new leather creps.
Space Afrika's Josh Reid recalls hearing Broadway tapes vibrating through his childhood home when he was growing up - in his bedroom he'd just hear traces of bass and the interconnecting sirens, crashes, and shout-outs, all elements that later went on to form the backbone of the duo's own compositions. It's music that addresses a sound and a community that's been low-key directing Manchester's creative energy for years - we're not overstating this; MCR musical royalty and the producer behind the greatest jungle album of all time A Guy Called Gerald cites Moss Side's soundsystem parties as a formative influence.
Listening now, decades later, it's easy to put the pieces together. Tracks cut between pliable riddims and ethereal, soulful calls; into blunted proto-trip-hop grooves lost in dense spirals of bouncing space echo. Bristol might get credit for placing its cultural foot forward as soul, reggae, and funk was filtered thru the collective British wyrd melancholia, but Manchester's stamp is made plain here. It's a different vibe altogether: cloudy, poetic, with an edgy whiff.
Best believe there’s no other tape quite like it, the closest you’ll get to a night out in Moss Side 30 years ago.
Khotin harks back to simpler times with 'Release Spirit', melting warm electronic tones into beats that sound as if they're wrapped in a mud-stained drug rug.
Dylan Khotin-Foote had already shifted his focus towards softer sounds before the pandemic, lockdown just made the switch more complete. 'Release Spirit' is his attempt at a full-length to define this new era, combining the dusty lo-fi squiggling of his beloved early material with the softpacked haze of the ambient techno and IDM era. Using crusty old gear like a Casio SK-1, Khotin effectively captures that early oughties Neo Ouija/Merck sound on opening track 'HV Road' (seriously it sounds like Brothomstates) before pivoting to sandy psy-tronica on 'Lovely'.
The album's most successful excursions hover around the Artificial Intelligence era: 'Home World 303' sounds like Higher Intelligence Agency, and Tess Roby starrer 'Fountain, Growth' is like Pentatonik reworking Chicane.
Jonnine Standish of HTRK returns with a divine third solo release of humanist pop and ornate (im)perfection with the down-home strums and gentility of ‘Maritz’ for DJ Sundae’s Idle Press, following cult turns for our Documenting Sound series and Good Morning Tapes.
Written and recorded at home in the Dandenong Ranges outside Naarm, Australia, with a spectra of scavenged instruments, ‘Maritz’ takes its title from the maiden name of Jonnine’s mother - “the most haunted word I know” - which signifies the music’s childlike innocence and spiritual provenance, wrapped in supremely blunted azure vapors and ruff, mossy fuzz.
Using bass guitar, a broken Swiss metronome, an oddly tuned wooden stringed instrument, recorder, Halloween charm bracelets and a homemade glockenspiel found at “an abandoned highschool in the hills”, plus spare additional instrumentation from Conrad Standish, James Rushford and Maria Moles, the eight songs of ‘Maritz’ span gonzo snapshots of domestic songcraft blessed with the sort of blissful melancholy that has long made Jonnine’s work such a staple of our musical diet.
Stripped to the barest essence of vocals and animated objets, the songs float daydreamy between the unforgettable lilt + hook of ‘I Put A Thing In Your Pocket’ to a pair of gorgeous baroque dub-bops fleshed with wavey recorder-as-melodica in ‘Tea for Two (Boo)’ and ‘Portrait’, while ‘There’s Nothing There’ is the sort of delicacy that we’d imagine Audrey Horne would play in private, and the groggy recorder set to offbeat metronome in ‘Three Spider Bites’ parallels the eerieness of recent work by Jonnine’s pal Laila Sakini - pushed even further into corporeal fantasy. ‘Blissfully Unaware (of you)’, meanwhile, most closely resembles the instrumental wonder of Matt Johnson’s The The at their most emotionally blitzed.
Like her last album ‘Blue Hills’, ‘Maritz’ is distinguished from Jonnine’s HTRK gear by a relative absence of studio embellishment or dynamic, preferring to leave songs lingering in a room-recorded air that conjures the feel of Alan Lomax folk recordings in the field, with incidental subtropical sounds carried thru open windows. Brittle and timeless, these are songs with an unhurried logic that feels antithetical to modern pressures, just happy to exist in their own temporal space.
It’s a rare privilege to spend time in Jonnine’s company. Pull up, and lean in.
‘Raspberry Hotel’ is the long-awaited solo debut LP by cellist Semay Wu, who’s best known as longtime player with Homelife, here left to her own devices on ravishingly inventive improvisations made in Glasgow.
A regular presence in NW England since the ‘90s with Paddy Steer’s Homelife, Semay Wu’s illustrious discography takes in work with everyone from Paul Heaton and King Creosote to The Owl Ensemble. Her first solo album is collaged from a week in a Glasgow studio, generating eight parts of unpredictable instrumental experimentation from her trusty cello plus a range of toys, electronics and everyday objets. The results form a semi-live showcase where runs of in-the-moment thought are ruptured with fleeting jump-cuts and spangled with a distinctive playfulness that will charm lovers of free music and sculptural sound art by artists ranging from Okkyung Lee to Rhodri Davies or Andy Votel, Sean Canty & Doug Shipton’s mixtape collages.
Working to her own lysergic logic, the album treads the finest line of frenetic and disciplined, from a blend of melancholy, rustic cello and squabbling electronics in ‘Midnight Peony’ to the pranging mechanisms and speaking-in-tongues expression of ‘Beauty Sleep’. She persistently pulls the rug form under the listener’s feet between purely documentarian snapshots oaf concentrated blatz on ‘Gut Wend’, to the poltergeist concrète frolics of ‘Ceremonial House’, and a standout ‘Eau Reader’, which takes its title from a commissioned poem, written by Juana Adock, and quietly recalling a more frayed echo of claire rousay’s domestic scenarios - appearing to make the washing-up melodic, and turning textured with the sounds of electric razors, chopped with what sounds like deft tape methods..
Another brilliant full-length from Duane Pitre, who continues experiments in just intonation - RIYL Kali Malone, Pauline Oliveros, or Sarah Davachi.
While he was writing a piece for experimental brass ensemble Zinc & Copper, Pitre chanced upon a technique that interested him. He wasn't able to use it for the piece he was working on, but he set aside the idea and implemented it while writing 2021's excellent "Omniscient Voices" LP. While working on that album he recorded multiple takes of the process, and 'Varolii Patterns' has been assembled from a small set of those takes. Using an eight-voice synthesizer tuned in just intonation (a xenharmonic tuning method that uses whole number ratios for its intervals, in contrast to the Western standard equal temperament), Pitre harnesses not only tone but rhythm, overlaying pulsing oscillators to create dizzying structures.
Pitre's drones are expertly sculpted, as becomes quickly evident on opening track 'Varolii Pattern 10-1'. His whispered electronic waves throb with the gaiety of early 20th century experiments and sound just as rigorous. The unusual tuning is pronounced, but it's the rhythmic ideas that keep us coming back: it's not completely obvious what he's doing at first, but as each track develops sounds enter the frame that appear to pulse on top of each other, setting up unusual polyrhythms. This is most stark on 'Varolii Pattern 8-11', that sounds like a melted approximation of Raymond Scott's soothing sounds. There's a warmth to it and a familiarity too, but Pitre subverts our expectations, bending the harmonics and upsetting the pulses into interlocking blips and moans.
Cult smallsound organiser/de-composer Craig Tattersall (The Humble Bee) does durational rhythmic noise and textured, crepuscular scapes on a remarkable deviation from expectations on his umbrella publishing imprint.
Messing with what we know of Craig’s work to date, he pushes far out into previously unexplored terrain with his most weather-beaten and enigmatically atonal, even noisy, works here. In some regards this new phase mirrors the latter stages of The Caretaker’s Alzheimers emulations, but also aspects of the sore beauty found in Fennesz works, Richard Skelton’s goretex ambient and the most concentrated Kevin Drumm meditations. On a more psychic level, it can be heard as a deep topographic reading or reflection of his native moorland in the Lancashire peaks, and the waterways they give rise to, as implied by the record’s title.
As the 4th release on his umbrella publishing, the 80 minutes here keep the label perfectly unpredictable after various turns of mulched field recordings with Chrystal Cherniwchan, and the gonzo lab experiments of ‘music for screens, turntables and contacts’ with Steve Oliver in 2022. It depicts Tattersall guided by a solo wanderlust under a claggy, inclement atmosphere that subtly comes to alternate as the piece proceeds uphill and across seemingly barren uplands that teem with life. As ever with Tattersall’s work there’s a poetic play of paradoxes in its make-up, with palapably pastoral tropes verging on milled, mechanical elements as it unfolds across long sides of tape flutter accreting incidental keys and bird calls, surges of oblique nose reflecting wet roadside noise and snapshots of obsolete machinery played like aeolian instruments.
One to get properly lost inside.
Death is Not the End follow their collection of Brazilian "música caipira" with another volume of hillbilly music from South America.
This set rounds up some of the earliest examples of música caipira, a stripped-back style that's seen as the forerunner to the popular música sertaneja - the Brazilian equivalent to US country that still dominates local charts. Folklorist Cornélio Pires made the earliest recordings in the 1920s, but the set stretches into the 1960s, grabbing recordings from small-run 78s and 45s.
The music was traditionally recorded by duos singing in parallel thirds and sixths, accompanied by a guitarist playing a ten-string guitar, the viola caipira. And the music was born in the Brazilian outback, using invented tunings and singing songs of betrayal, love and loss - the usual biz. If you enjoyed the first compilation, this one adds even more color to a genre that's not so well known outside of South America.
From the bowels of Glasgow’s industrial-EBM-noise complex Total Leatherette return with a 50 minute tape spliced from live recordings made during a 2018 residency at the CCA
Revolving Scott Caruth & Nikki Tirado, Total Leatherette have followed their nose for dankest darkroom sleaze since 2016’s ‘Fist & Shout’ on Domestic Exile (The Modern Institute, Grim Lusk, Cucina Povera), with subsequent tape ft. Contort Yourself’s Murray, and comp cuts with Extra Noir and ZONE Collective. On ‘Sleight of the Third Eye’ they throw back to 2 weeks of residency at CCA Glasgow (fka The Third Eye Centre) spent with gnarled boxes including their favourite Roland Space Echo RE-201 Tape Delay Unit, which lends a murky spatial quality to the whole of their single-track-recorded results.
Definitely one for the more insatiable c*nts, the session slops out from bleakest BM atmospheres to the coldest fetish disco and roiling darkwave function with a steely mastery of groove and atmosphere, variously pooling into industrial ambient grot and pranging out to machine-slaved pulses, overseen by headless EBM chorales and reverberant no wave industrial clangour recalling a stripped back Eros at times, and even including a fragment of Linda DiFranco’s balearic hit ‘My Boss’.
Pure pop magick. The Boats & Tape Loop Orchestra’s Andrew Hargreaves meets the elven Lancs voice of Beth Roberts on a gorgeous return - their first EP in a decade.
The Mistys return with a first EP, proper, of post industrial romance. Toned with timeless Manchester melancholy, their first set of dream-pop songs since 2018’s Pregnant Mannequin LP appear to linger in half-light between ‘80s synth-pop, late ‘90s trip hop and electronica, and the wist of ’00s witch house.
The duo’s titular lullaby pitches singer Beth Roberts as a naïf siren swaddled in soothing reverb and Salem-esque detuned synth, before the cinematic keys of Digital Mirror glance coyly at a gorgeous DX7-like bass coda. Controlled Absence’s stately swoon bears a shivering spine of influence from Kraftwerk via To Rococo Rot in its lust for nocturnal negative space and melodic resolution, while Sentimental Plastic poises Beth’s starkest, bloodletting lyrics velvet-stroked into contrails of elegiac decay and dewy detuned synth squinting at Boards of Canada.
Coby Sey fully transcends everything we expected - and that was already a lot - on his shapeshifting debut album; a multi-layered fractalisation of Tricky-level trip-hop, blitzed electronics, post Grime, surrealist poetry and filthy basement techno. We're ruined by this one - one of the most gripping and satisfying braindumps we've heard this year.
Trip-hop's been teasing a fully-fledged revival for years now, with steps made from artists like Space Afrika, Dis Fig and Dawuna who each juxtapose smoked-out '90s aesthetics with a contemporary, druggy malaise. Coby Sey has been skating around these landscapes for years at this point, collaborating with similarly-poised friends like Curl cohorts Tirzah, Dean Blunt, Lol K and Mica Levi and developing an artistic vision slowly, purposefully. That's probably why ‘Conduit' sounds so fully developed - it's rare that a debut album arrives with this level of complex layering, and that's what makes it so special.
'Marking the past', Sey repeats in the opening seconds of 'Etym'. For him, the album is a way to continue a musical lineage - and he does it without repetition: 'Conduit' doesn't sound like a trip-hop album exactly, but it feels like a spiritual and aesthetic successor to Tricky's underrated '96 masterpiece "Pre-Millennium Tension". When that album was released, it was a grotesque and asphyxiating representation of a confusing era, as neoliberalism snuffed out activism and the world hurtled towards economic collapse. And in the face of that year's defining pop music - The Spice Girls' "Spice" and Oasis's "(What's The Story) Morning Glory?" - it was a cracked mirror held up to the UK's New Labour-approved proto-TERF lad/ette cultural visage.
'Conduit' arrives at an even more perilous time in British history, and channels the island's suffocating mood of isolation, depression and future shock. Like Tricky before him, Sey weaves these emotions through a noodle-blitzing tapestry of contemporary aesthetic markers: dissonant synths, razed power electronics and despondent, surrealist poetics. These sounds plug into a continuum that's confident of its past, aware of its impact on the present, and unsure how new developments might help shape what's yet to come. In that respect, it feels almost hopeful.
'Permeated Secrets' filters a boom-bap bassline underneath Sey's chilling vocals: "I don't care if you like my work," he states after a dense verse that ties lethargy into political disenfranchisement. Sedate rhythms interrupt the flow, as sci-fi dub glimmers add a sheen to the mix. When trip-hop died a death in the late 1990s, it had been defanged by supposed social progress and reformed into polite, elevator music to accompany luxury car advertisements. The anger and self-assured expression of music from artists as vital as Tricky and Leila had been absorbed into a tech-powered cultural blob that saw no difference between Moby and Massive Attack.
By contrast, Sey spikes his music with elements that make it hard to misinterpret. 'Night Ride' sounds as if it emerges from nowhere, a grizzled industrial slugger that chops wordless vocal utterances into soupy basement tech booms. 'Response' features contributions from horn players Ben Vince and CJ Calderwood and guitarist Biu Rainey, pulls Space Echo jazz loops into a spiralling void of rhythmic, cinematic strings and medieval recorder trills before loping into its wordy final act.
By the time we hit the finale, 'Eve (Anwummerɛ)' is a much-needed breather, allowing us to reflect and absorb as Sey loops reverberating electric piano beneath field recordings and snatched, choral fragments. It's the perfect end to an album we're likely to be unraveling for the rest of the year - Coby Sey's given us an artistic statement that's robust, illusory, literary, complex, occasionally absurd and ultimately massively rewarding. If trip-hop's gonna continue to evolve from this point, it might need a new name.
The debut album from The WAEVE - composed of Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall, on Transgressive Records.
"Produced by The WAEVE and James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Florence and The Machine, Foals, HAIM) and recorded in London in 2022, The WAEVE is a collection of 10 new tracks from songwriters Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall. Joining creative forces in The WAEVE gave the duo the opportunity to push past their instrumental comfort zones.
Many tracks feature Graham on saxophone, one of the first instruments he played as a young musician back in the 80s. First single ‘Can I Call You’ starts as a ballad then morphs into a krautrock-style motorik number with a sprawling Coxon guitar solo. ‘All Along’ features Graham on cittern, a medieval folk lute. Rose plays piano and an ARP 2000 modular synth. The heavy weather all over The WAEVE recalls the blustery folk rock of Sandy Denny or John and Beverly Martyn, while tracks such as ‘Kill Me Again‘ and ‘Over and Over’ recall the 70s rock of Kevin Ayers or Van der Graaf Generator, almost industrial in places."
Serious pressure from Príncipe, featuring Lilocox slickly cramming 43 unreleased cuts spanning over 80 minutes of relentless drums - a masterclass in early batida x house polyrhythms.
Ricardo Vieira aka Lilocox is as well known for his percussive solo productions as for his work in the Piquenos DJs do Guetto crew with Firmeza and Maboku. On ‘Drums (Lata)’ he raids his archive for a throwback to the days when Lisbon promoters termed the Afro-Latin sound of the ghettos as “Lata”, a derogatory word used to describe their “tinny” beats, as opposed to more rounded and “well produced” house and club music. In a classic act of defiance, Lilocox and his peers would come to own the term as a self-description in much the same way Jamal Moss flipped accusations of “the worst DJ ever” (rightly so, cos he’s one of the very best), reclaiming their agency and giving a frank f you to dogmatic doyles.
Mixing up rough-cut rhythms and sultry ambient pads with velvety weapons, the session is full of the “cargaa”, or charge - or even moxie - that makes batida/kuduro so damn effective in the dance worldwide. Drawing on his Cape Verdean roots, and a life lived in Lisbon’s margins, Lilocox speaks directly to the Black Atlantic dialogue between displaced peoples from West Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean, US, and their European nodes, that has resulted in the best dance music of the past century and longer. Liliocox’s mix situates those vital drum communications in the here-and-now with infectious offbeats splintering into myriad directions from UK Funky to gqom, amapiano, and singeli - all sharing a relentless, undeniable fire.
MJB back on his high grade b/s with a second Blood F.M. volume - once again spinning the dial between fantasy FM stations of astral synth noise, slompy beatdown, ghetto heck and boogie-soul glyders like Sublime Frequencies’ Radio series scanning Electrifying Mojo broadcasts from another planet.
The 2nd in his self-released series bends a uchronic timeline of Motor City machine soul and manc blues party soundtracks into a devilishly strong session. Unpredictable as f, it’s prone to flick across eras and styles with deep knowledge and a total disregard for expectation. Freaky fractals from his hard drive are jump-cut with samples of big tunes, lovers nuggets and snatches of talk radio in a properly wild style.
Keener observers of MJB’s work thus far, from his early tape blended by Tom Boogz aka Rat Heart and onwards will recognise the vibe and flow, with ruffcut gems referencing Thriller/Actress, Madteo and even SND tumbled in-the-mix effortlessly jumping between BPMs, but with all the care taken for keeping it wildly varied within a theme.
Like the last one, sleep and weep yeh?>>
Björk’s 10th studio album is a ravishing set tracing rhizomic lines of thought that link traditional Icelandic musics to contemporary classical, reggaeton, and Indonesian avant-club styles via collaborators El Guicho (Rosalía), Gabber Modus Operandi, and serpentwithfeet
After an unusual gulf between albums since the Arca-produced ‘Utopia’ in 2017, Ms. Guðmundsdóttir binds fundamentals and fantasy in ‘Fossora’; combining dedications to her mother, Hildur Rúna Hauksdóttir, and contributions by her children, Sindri and Ísadóra, within a conceptual framework involving themes of survival, death, and ecological meditation. Aye, it’s Björk, alright, but also informed by her collaborators, R&B innovator serpentwithfeet, El Guincho, and Indo-nutters Gabber Modus Operandi, plus bass clarinet sextet Murmuri, who lend a rich insertmental colour and ravenous fervour to her wildly disciplined arrangements and head-spinning self-production.
Framed as her return to earth after dealing with the trauma of her divorce from Matthew Barney on the Arca co-produced “skybound haven” couplet of ‘Vulnicura’ and ‘Utopia’, Björk here seeds ideas of mycelia as alien lifeforms and communication networks that reflect the psychedelia and flux of info woven into ‘Fossora.’ More than ever she effectively acts as a conduit or hyperconnector for myriad energies that come to fruition most definitively in the album’s (3rd eye) opener ‘Atopos’ and its titular denouement, where chamber-like woodwind, doble paso dembow-gabber and avant-folk rush up in glorious style.
The rest of the album breaks down between stirring choral and chamber dedications to her departed mother on ‘Sorrowful Soil’ and ‘Ancestress’, the latter featuring her dóttir Sindri Eldon, and most quietly on the curtain closer ‘Her Mother’s House’ ft. Ísadóra Bjarkardóttir Barney. We locate a highlight in the brooding might of ‘Victimhood’ with its spine-chilling string and clarinet arrangement, and the switch of energies between heart-in-mouth ‘Fungal City’ starring serpentwithfeet, and the uprooted hardcore techno touches of Kasimyn (Gabber Modus Operandi) lend a nervous, refreshing energy that sprouts up in wonderfully unpredictable forms.
Soul Jazz Records’ long out of print classic ‘Studio One Funk’ collection in an 18th Anniversary edition.
"Studio One Funk’ is made up of rare and unreleased reggae funk from the vaults of Studio One. Ever since the birth of funk in America, the sound has been an ever-present ingredient in the melting pot of Studio One’s musical output. The music on this release is a combination of originals, US covers and versions of existing Studio One cuts. Jackie Mittoo shows his appreciation for Booker T and The MGs, the studio group at Memphis’ famous Stax Records, with ‘Hang ‘Em High’, itself a cover of a film soundtrack by Dominic Frontiere. Incredibly this version has never before been released. Booker T’s super funky ‘Melting Pot’ is also covered by the little-known Underground Vegetables.
Other versions include Isaac Hayes’ classic Blaxploitation soundtrack ‘Shaft’, again by Cedric Im Brooks, another unreleased gem, straight from the tape master. Motown gets a look in with Alton’s stripped-down version of the Spinners classic, ‘It’s A Shame’, written by Stevie Wonder
and Syreeta. James Brown is apparent in spirit with the JBs-inspired groove on the super rare cut, ‘Now’, by Lee Arab. Lloyd Williams similarly does a fine Kingston-style version of the hardest-working man in showbusiness on ‘Reggae Feet’.
Version-wise, we have ‘Idleberg’, Cedric Im Brooks’ tough instrumental cut on Horace Andy’s seminal ‘Skylarking’. The little-known Prince Moonie gives us a rare DJ cut of another Horace Andy classic, ‘See A Man’s Face’. Pablove Black’s cut of Sidewalk Doctor (aka Poco Tempo) is one of a handful of Studio One releases featuring Augustus Pablo’s trademark instrument, the melodica, played by Black himself.
Add to these original cuts from Studio One’s heavyweight session players, including Leroy Sibbles, Jackie Mittoo, Leroy Sibbles, Eric Frater, Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace, Richard Ace, Vin Gordon and more, and you have one of the finest selections of reggae and funk you will ever hear."
A label sampler showcasing the best of Winspear’s releases.
"Winspear Volume 01 is a collection of standout songs from the label’s catalog, spanning from their early years to the present day. Featuring tracks by Barrie, Divino Niño, Slow Pulp, Video Age, and more."
Acclaimed DJ/producer Elena Colombi compiles an ambitious, multi-faceted tribute to Bell Hooks’ writings on love, heard via exclusive music from Christos Chondropoulos, Laurel Halo, upsammy, Coby Sey, Solid Blake, Brainwaltzera and many more...
The 21 track, 92 minute results of this first part selection place Colombi’s curatorial tekkerz at the service of world building and allusive narrative navigation, pairing her selection of artists in an immersively quizzical session that questions cross-gender solidarity through art and music with a richly engrossing flow of material that jogs the imagination along its axes.
Resembling a radio play or deeply personal mixtape, the mix follows a thread from the tensions of opposites in Olivia Salvadori’s angelic cooks and Coby Sey’s spoken word on ‘With all the Senses, Su Di Te M’Infrango’ thru absorbingly textured vignettes by Christos Chondropoulos unique to the set (‘The Spell’ and ‘Love Song’), and some breathtaking works by Laurel Halo on ‘Waves Goodbye’, to sidewinding sorts of Drexciyan electro-techno that each embody her thoughts in their own ways.
The tape's conceptual thrust gives ample food for thought, but it’s just as well enjoyed on its musical merits, covering ground between the peal of Ben Bertrand’s solo sax ‘What To Do With My Male Body’ and muscular variations of dance music, and highlight to our ears a number of new artists such as Galina Ozeran with the Drexciyan enigma of ‘DVizhenie’, or the skulking beatdown of Frank Rodas on ‘Dial Up’, to see more established ones like Solid Blake flexing their experimental side. Really good.