Turntablist and composer Mariam Rezaei completes her ambitious, pithy triptych with 'BOWN', her debut for the Heat Crimes imprint. Flipping the concept of turntable-based music on its head, she fractures free jazz, noise, death drone and operatic fragments into a broken tangle of spinbacks, pitchbends, loping rhythms and perverted side-eyes. Featuring collaborations with Teresa Winter, Luka Koenig, Alya Al-Sultani, Bobby Glue and Gwily Edmondez, it's crucial listening for anyone into Maria Chávez, Evicshen, Marina Rosenfeld, Stock, Hausen & Walkman, I-Sound or Philip Jeck.
Billed as the central part of a triptych, 'BOWN' boasts some of Rezaei’s most pressing and rewarding work to date. It’s one of those albums that doesn’t get swallowed up by its own concept, harnessing extreme technical prowess fuelled by deep, sometimes visceral emotional and mental energies that reach a terrifying climax on the brilliant ‘Glass Bastard’ featuring Teresa Winter and Guttersnipe drummer Bobby Glu, an almost phantasmagoric counterpart to Flower/Corsano Duo's frantic improvisations that sounds like the sort of thing you’d reopen the Nurse With Wound list for.
‘It COULD be jazz' - a droll answer to a comment Rezaei received at last year's London Jazz Festival - is next, finding her kinetic and fired-up, using her command of the turntable to chop into raucous horn solos like Peter Brötzmann or Albert Ayler after a particularly heavy night. Bobby Glue provides drums again, but here Rezaei doesn't restrain herself at all, scrubbing rhythms out of spunky rattles.
On 'HMMM', she takes the human voice and queers its natural vacillations, bending it wildly as the pitch slides like some unstable Gregorian chant. Glitches and skips remind us of the process, as thick, syrupy subs rumble below, while the composer shifts voice between operatic wail and barely-there hum. Retaining the vocal theme, Rezaei adds animalistic howls from YEAH YOU's Gwily Edmondez on 'GEORDIE SPICE', transforming his feral squeals into high-pitched chirps and distorted machine whirrs. A celestial invocation rises from the noise, before clattering percussion rocks through the aether, demolishing the track with irregular bumps and scratches.
'MARIAMBA', uses Lucas Koenig's rounded woodblock hits to focus dramatic, saturated organ drones and scratchy loops. Like a demented 1950s Hollywood soundtrack put through a mangle, it's theatrical but deeply self-aware, zeroing in on the textural qualities of the instrumentation. On 'I WANT U 2' London-based soprano Alya Al-Sultani brings yet another element to the table, her echoing wails working like a counterpoint to dextrously scratched spoken phrases. It's dizzying, provocative stuff that never shies from its most experimental inclinations, balancing extreme technical fluency with humour and thematic weight, leaving you with many unanswered questions. Oh and there’s a track called ‘IDIOTIC MUSIC PEOPLE CUNTS’ which is something i’m considering tattooing on my face.
Phenomenal stuff, biggup.
Immense tramplers and jigs by the whirling percussive dervish of Valentina Magaletti (Moin), João Pais Filipe (HHY & The Macumbas) & Leon Marks’ (Hey Colossus) aka CZN - huge RIYL Mark Ernestus' Ndagga Rhythm Force, Shackleton, Bernd Friedmann, Uwalmassa, Don't DJ, Photek.
On their 2nd mission for TTT after 2021’s ‘Luxury Variations’, CZN come hungry for the ‘floor in all five parts of ‘Station to Station to Station’. While the title is a nod to Bowie, the EP has fuck all to do with him, and everything to do with untangling creaky limbs and showing nuff options for the aerobic mystics and polyrhythm-metered DJs.
The battery of Magaletti, Filipe and Marks make a wickedly disciplined racket from drums, drums, and more drums, sealed in place with sparing dabs of triggered synth and FX. ‘Compliance Crew’ gathers their energies in a pendulous mid-tempo swirl, congas and wraithlike vocies dubbed to the rafters, before ‘Lawn Thug’ more explicitly references West African traditions, notably the tussle of Mbalax, in its pugilistic call and response, and ‘Year of the Rat’ ramps it on the slow/fast bent with rattling drums corkscrewing at angles over rudest South London subs and pads like a lost Horsepower x Hatcha fantasy. The cosmic whorl of ‘Born to Snap’ is perhaps best compared with the proggier urges of Shackleton and Bernd Friedmann, leading to a the EP’s straightest, hypnotic, 15 minute highlight of rolling linearity recalling Shackleton’s remix of Villalobos or Ron Trent deep house.
Shadowy Swedish producer Civilistjävel! returns with another dubby slow-burner, this time in collaboration with Malmö trio Death & Vanilla.
Death & Vanilla's most recent album 'Flicker' was an electrified psych-pop gem, inspired by vintage library music, kosmische and French pop. With ambient dub alchemist Civilistjävel! in control though, the Stereolab/Broadcast glitter of the original material is puffed away, leaving gaseous traces and airy, stifled breaths. Removing most of the instrumentation from 'Find Another Illusion', vocalist Marleen Nilsson's faint cry of "dust" is left abandoned in a tape-garbled pool of disintegrating loops.
He lets more of the song poke through in his version of 'Perpetuum Mobile', focusing on gleaming, library-ready electric piano vamps and echoing vocals that drape over a faint, pulsing kick. But he injects most life into his dub of the same track, reanimating the poppy original with Deepchord synths and a clipped, inverted beat. Ghostly gear - if you enjoyed Civilistjävel!'s recent collaboration with Cucina Povera, this one's a must.
Iceboy Violet mutates drill rap and ambient noise with heavy inspo from desire and fantasy- a sureshot RIYL Rainy Miller, AYA, Blackhaine, Elvin Brandhi, Visionist.
The eminently watchable Iceboy fully takes control of proceedings on ‘Not a Dream But a Controlled Explosion’, following up 2022’s ‘The Vanity Project’, as produced by Nick León, Space Afrika, Jennifer Walton, AYA and others, with their truest self-portrait yet. Entirely self-produced, written and performed by Iceboy, the eight songs star guest vox by Florence Sinclair and Orlando, laced into a potent brew of emosh drill expression unusually heightened by their feel for belly-in-mouth rushes of textured choral pads and distressed tones, often sprung with depth charge subs. It’s another startling futureshock from a scenius that has been cultivated in the gut of Manc clubs and bedrooms over the preceding years, and most vividly, thornily bloomed between the cracks of styles in this decade, most notably via Space Afrika's extended fam as well as Rainy Miller’s Fixed Abode stable.
Like their cohort, and frankly many of the best to do it in Manchester right now, Iceboy hails from elsewhere, but draws strength from a self-organising, DIY community of mutual souls who encourage the best from each other. ‘Not a Dream But a Controlled Explosion’ speaks to the city’s sense of sanctuary, and the freedoms it allows, with a genuinely dare-to-differ burst of self expression. At each turn they twist convention to taste, parsing a crucial signal from the noise between the opening transition of ambient thizz to hungry rap, and a staggering conclusion of ambient bashment, ‘Pablos Cathedral’.
The set’s dreamlike emotional tenor fluctuates in between brooding, weightless poetry in duet with Florence Sinclair on ‘Black Gold’, to cold slugs of shoegaze dancehall in ‘Wounded Coogi’ and a keening R&B elegy à la early FKA Twigs in ‘Refracted’ ft. Orlandor. Throw in an incredibly strong finish with the martial doomhall of ‘Ekklipse’ and gut-punch of ‘Paris, Bradford’, and we more clearly than ever hear the roots and branches of Iceboy’s music as a product of heritage, modernity, and a phantasmic, liminal vision.
Supremely darkside selection by Karl O'Connor featuring exclusives from Regis and Mønic plus a dozen bullets from Pessimist, Overlook, Ipman, Killawatt and more, documenting a very specific moment in the mid-late 10’s where a bunch of renegades from D&B, techno and bass music lurched into a no-mans-land of industrial techno, moody electronics, autonomic D&B, halfstep and noisy bass experiments.
Now almost 20 years into its thing, osiris was established in 2006 by Simon Shreeve as a sort of dubwise cousin to Downwards’ more industrial predilections. Long intertwined with Regis through his label but also their collaborative work as Cub, Shreeve’s eye toward the hardcore continuum bleeds heavy into pretty much all the apocalyptic grot on show, veering from abstract noise textures to fully sunken, bombed out acid bass and peak-time rollers.
We start around 2013 with a pair of missiles from Ipman and Killawatt, the former punctuating pile-driving snares and snarling synths, the latter somehow sounding like a classic Burial woodblock intro turned full moody, red-lining wobbler. Mønic’s ‘Blink’ explores the elastic binds between dubstep and industrial/dub techno on a throbbing slow roller, while Dot Product tread into the sort of post-apocalyptic sci-fi territory claimed by the likes of Roly Porter.
Pessimist’s ‘Pagans’ more or less steals the show, going at it with churning subs and strafing hi-hats, while Overlook’s scowling 170bpm D&B madness ‘Former Self’ is just pure aggy brilliance. The previously unreleased ‘Skin Of The Sea’ from Simon Shreeve & Regis finishes things off with something like industrial slowcore, taking a sort of autonomic template and slowing it down 1000% into a growling crawler full of spacious stabs and scattered snares, deep in the echo chamber.
Wall -to-wall 🔥
The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We by Mitski, released just 18 months after Laurel Hell.
"Sometimes, Mitski says, it feels like life would be easier without hope, or a soul, or love. But when she closes her eyes and thinks about what’s truly hers, what can’t be repossessed or demolished, she sees love. “The best thing I ever did in my life was to love people,” Mitski says. “I wish I could leave behind all the love I have, after I die, so that I can shine all this goodness, all this good love that I’ve created onto other people.” She hopes her newest album, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, will continue to shine that love long after she’s gone. Listening to it, that’s precisely how it feels: like a love that’s haunting the land
“This is my most American album,” Mitski says about her seventh record, and the music feels like a profound act of witnessing this country, in all of its private sorrows and painful contradictions. In this album, which is sonically Mitski’s most expansive, epic, and wise, the songs seem to be introducing wounds and then actively healing them. Here, love is time-traveling to bless our tender days, like the light from a distant star.
The album is full of the ache of the grown- up, seemingly mundane heartbreaks and joys that are often unsung but feel enormous. It’s a tiny epic. From the bottom of a glass, to a driveway slushy with memory and snow, to a freight train barreling through the Midwest, and all the way to the moon, it feels like everything, and everyone, is crying out, screaming in pain, arching towards love. Love is that inhospitable land, beckoning us and then rejecting us. To love this place — this earth, this America, this body — takes active work. It might be impossible. The best things are."
Modern US new age ambient explorers Nathaniel & Earthtones align chakras on a gentle suite of mbira plucks and synth pads
LA-based jazz and electronic musician, meditation teacher and ritualist Serge Bandura aka Earthtones, and Kevin Nathaniel, a student of legendary African master musicians Ephat Mujuru and Chief Bey K, forged a creative relationship during the pandemic which resulted in this quietly functional set of music for relaxation.
The pair achieve a mutual conclusion of warm analogue synth rippling with the transportive plucks of mbira and kalimba in the 28 mins to ‘Of the Earth (Full Meditation)’, which also features in its constituent parts; the dawning arc ‘Of the Earth’, the nature bathing sublime of ‘Slow Emotion’, and drowsy bliss out ‘Sonrise’.
Glasgow’s Somewhere Press have made quite an impression with their fledgling Somewhere Between Tapes series, providing standout debuts from Chantal Michelle, Man Rei and Alliyah Enyo, whose smudged fusion of William Basinski's Disintegration Loops, choral music and dreampop provided one of last year’s most memorable album debuts. They return with their first label compilation, themed around the Blue Hour, that liminal stretch of time when the sun hangs below the horizon and the world doesn’t seem quite real. It’s a gorgeous evocation of blurred emotions, featuring contributions from Adela Mede, Man Rei, Chantal Michelle, Slowfoam, Dania, Astrid Øster Mortensen and a ruck of new names (to us) that we’ll be no doubt hearing more from.
The Blue Hour - that special time at dusk in summer when the light seems to glow soft and blue and the sounds of the world feel muted, has long been a source of inspiration in art, most famously with Guerlain’s indolic 1912 masterpiece L’Heure Bleue, a perfume that’s been described as an olfactory equivalent of an impressionist painting, and which attempted to capture that fleeting, melancholy moment where the smell of flowers also just happens to reach its peak.
For this compilation, Somewhere Press invited ten artists to convey the phenomenon, using a prompt from British writer-editor Hannah Pezzack. Each artist was asked to consider the historical and cultural significance of blue, tracking through its ancient association with melancholy, death and terror, to its later relationship with the divine and contemporary malaise. The colour's influence is far from universal, with many cultures only developing a word for it when the rare pigment was readily available, but its impact on the artistic world has been vast.
No stranger to these pages, Dania looks to the Romantic-era definition of blue on 'Lament', when German poet Novalis famously used Heinrich von Ofterdingen's dreams of a blue flower to symbolise the hopeless longing of the age. Singing softly over trembling strings, Dania establishes the mood with grace, burying almost inaudible whispers in pools of cavernous reverb. Mondlane takes a more liturgical approach, weaving solo voice around stretched, simmering bells sounding as phantasmagorical as Grouper and as spiritually resonant as Antonina Nowacka.
Angelina Nonaj contributes vocals to Georgia based artist santebela's 'If time bends', intoning slowly and purposefully over rainfall and clouded pads, and the album hits its emotional stride on 'Noise Dimensions', a rousing electro-orchestral composition from Anit Levan that reminds us of Cliff Martinez's flawless 'Solaris' soundtrack, gesturing towards the infinite vastness of the night sky.
The volume is turned down a little on the icy, Satie-like 'Winter go on' from Sweden's Astrid Øster Mortensen, who released the brilliant 'Sk æ rg å rdslyd' on Discreet Music last year. And Adela Mede sings assertively in Hungarian on 'Holnap' over slow piano chords and spiralling, softly psychedelic vocal loops. Elsewhere, the artists take the opportunity to use the blue hour to represent a space in-between places, with Rachel McDermott, aka Velvachell recording material in Mexico and sculpting the noisy, liminal 'Firewood (los colores)' back in Glasgow, while the set ends with its most entrancing sequence, Man Rei’s ‘Call’, a drift of synth pads, woodwind and voice that reminds us of the impossible melancholy of Malibu, or Sade’s ‘Cherish the Day’s slowed down 1000%.
Weather Music features music controlled by the weather and performed on instruments built by Quintron & NYZ.
"Side A features the Weather Warlock, designed by New Orleans artist & instrument builder Quintron. "Weather Warlock is an environmentally responsive analog synthesizer which uses moisture, temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and UV radiation to massage a major chordal drone. The resulting music was designed for self-hypnosis and healing. I wanted something with movement and changes, but completely devoid of human organization - like a fire, or a lake reflecting moonlight. Constantly vibrating with change but also very still." Quintron.
Side B features David Burraston's rain wire, a long string instrument stretched across a valley in Australia where it's mic'd like a guitar with a single string being played by the rain. Like Quintron's Weather Warlock, this piece is devoid of human organization but has a natural form we can easily recognize rhythmically as the steady randomness of rainfall mixed with the deep-space reverberations of this long wire instrument. "Rainwire encompasses the investigation of rainfall using suspended cables (long wire instruments) & its application as a medium for artistic, cultural and scientific exchange. The concept developed from using contact mic recordings of rainfall 'playing' the long wire instruments for music compositions suggesting environmental signification has great potential to measure rainfall accurately." David Burrasto."
Lawrence English rummages down the back of Room 40’s sofa and discovers an endearingly gonzoid session featuring him on drums in 2009 with Tenniscoats’ Saya & Ueno in Hobart, Tasmania
“Lawrence English: When I was preparing the 15th anniversary re-issue of Totemo Aimasho I spent a few days doing a deep dive through the room40 archive. There’s a hell of a lot of material that has been collected over the years, and truth be told I don’t exactly remember a lot of it. About a day into this search, I came across this recording. Tasmania Bootleg was recorded on Sunday the 15th of February 2009, at The Brisbane Hotel in Hobart. The visit to Hobart came about pretty last minute, so my email chain from the time seems to suggest.
I’d invited Tenniscoats down to Australia to help celebrate the finale of the Fabrique seres I was curating at Brisbane Powerhouse. Some folks from Hobart reached out once the other tour dates were announced and then before we knew it, we were headed there. As part of the Hobart visit we recorded a suite of material using the same ‘field recording’ style we used to create Temporacha in Tokyo the previous year. We also took the chance to record the show at The Brisbane Hotel.
This recording is 100% bootleg territory. I must confess to being a huge fan of this style of recording. I was an enormous cassette trader back in my teen years and I put down a lot of my interests in texture and noise to the quality of duplicated bootlegs I listened to back then. This recording was made in the audience by a friendly local and is an entirely faithful capture of the atmosphere that surrounded Tenniscoats during this time. You can literally hear the audience becoming completely entranced by Saya and Ueno’s performance. I was honoured to play alongside them for this show. It’s not something I talk about much, but my first life in music was as a drummer and a flicker of that life is captured here.
The edition also comes with a digital phonebook, containing photos in 110 and other formats, that were captured in Tasmania during that time.”
Stunningly hazed dreampop from Laila Sakini’s Princess Diana of Wales, backed with a mesmerising session of dour, spiralling oddities from RAP's Thomas Bush, sounding like some lost Flaming Tunes session. A combined hour and a half of outsider brilliance, packaged and presented via Perko’s increasingly curious FELT imprint, following a bunch of Civilistjävel! editions plus assorted ephemera.
Our love for Laila Sakini's enigmatic slowcore is long and deep, here presented at its most unadorned and devastating. Using voice, guitar, bells, recorder and assorted household objects, she manages to burn us to a cinder within seconds. Spectral guitar and dub-smeared, metallic shakes lead us in, buckling as Sakini's voice echoes over solemn, staccato bass notes. Her music isn't sedate or gloomy, instead sounding a bit like listening to just a couple of channels of a vital dreampop document, drifting, but never overblown or dense. "Free minds, free my mind," she mutters into cathedral-sized reverb; stately and intimate, made of real, special stuff.
Thomas Bush's side is stylistically very different, but made of similarly raw energy. His vocals simmer in a slop of lightly industrial machinery, like some early Coil, or perhaps Flaming Tunes' totemic amateur dramatics. "If you're waiting for a sign, take this instead," he exhales as his voice saturates and bends unexpectedly. Electronic elements are sublimed into murk, accompanied by partially-tuned guitar chords. It's like hearing the traces of jangly C86 pop, rigorously manicured microsound and distant hillside folk in parallel, plumbing the moonlit air like the weird sisters' wooded vents. It’s startling, mystifying stuff, highly recommended to disciples of Andrew Chalk, Coil, Richard Youngs or Laura Cannell.
Billed as Brighton artist Stephen Maskell's final release, 'Honkytonk Cheeseballs' is an eccentric, dreamy romp through the bargain bin of British culture, stretching quirky, tangled sounds through glassy computer processes.
Weird one this. Maskell used to be known as Nag's Head, and over his last few Kit Records releases stitched together pirate radio clips with pub banter, offering a modern portrait of broken Britain. 'Honkytonk Cheeseballs' is more tranquillising, maybe resigned to the mundanity of a post-pandemic, post-Brexit reality. Not exactly ambient music, there are still stretches of placid ambience, and while it's definitely not a club record, 'Honkytonk Cheeseballs' occasionally leers into rhythmic coherence.
'Looking at the Things' sounds almost diaristic, but whose diary it is isnt made clear. Rustling ASMR sounds are sellotaped to glassy, app-ready synth plucks and distant pads, before an ominous drone threatens to capsize the mood. 'Muppet Particles' is even more unwieldy, assembling jerky pinprick beats with rubbery electronic vamps and sing-song vocals, while 'Asses on the Ceiling' is - almost - a banger, all machine-gun snares and Rian Treanor-esque stabs.
It's a wild ride: imagine the '70s Gen X fetishism of Ghost Box dragged into the present day, and you'll have some idea what to expect.
Ziúr returns with a blistering, rhythmically damaged post-everything workout featuring contributions from Elvin Brandhi, Iceboy Violet, Abdullah Miniawy, Juliana Huxtable, Ledef and James Ginzburg. It's brain-warping, queered avant-pop that bends in on itself like a möbius strip to sound something like Tom Waits, Toshinori Kondo and The Knife on a demented 3way.
Ziúr’s Hakuna Kulala debut explodes like a firework within seconds: rickety drums snake ritualistically around Elvin Brandhi's vocalisations like a spirited, exhilarating take on Bjork x Karin Dreijer, with added pep. It's punk music on a level, but sculpted with inimitable skill and propelled by impressive technical prowess.
Ziúr has spent the last few years developing a sound that's hard to pin down, moving from punk to deconstructed club to avant-jazz, metal, dancehall and folk music, creating an environment where anything and everything goes. When Egyptian vocalist and composer Abdullah Miniawy shows up on 'Malikan’, for instance, his celestial chants and warbling trumpet are an apt foil for Ziúr's rhythms, making a sound that orbits Trip Hop, but cracked under spiritual weight and creative energy.
Iceboy Violet appears on 'Move On', slurring sensually over jazzy twangs and squeaky percussion; pulling away from the noisy futurism of that sick 'Vanity' mixtape and poking into hypnotic rhymes with hard-swung thickets of trampled acoustic instrumentation. Brandhi appears again on both 'Nontrivial Differential' and 'Cut Cut Quote', channeling early Björk on the former and rebooting riot grrl on the latter, her vitriolic delivery draped across elastic womps, cash register pings and hollow thuds - basically like the Huggy Bear x Dilloway hookup of our dreams.
There are very few synth sounds to be heard on 'Eyeroll’, this time round Ziúr mostly makes use of a microphone and a small arsenal of acoustic instruments to lend the record its swagger, making a salient statement about modern electronic music - while everyone else is trying to wrestle with a new piece of expensive modular gear or a complex new plugin, Ziúr turns leftwards and skips the chase. Instrumental moments like 'Pique', 'Hasty Revisionism' and the bizarre, Americana-flecked closer 'Lacrymaturity' only confirm her resolve, simmering with antagonistic joy.
Truly, there's nowt else quite like it.
Croydon born Jamaican Tony F. Wilson is a bona fide legend, producing his earliest work as Zurich in duo with Neil Halstead of Slowdive fame, he then worked with the likes of Thurston Moore, Seefeel and Robert Hampson during his tenure as Echo Park with Jon Tye, and has more recently contributed vocals to some of the most screwed ragga and post-industrial gristle we’ve heard in years as part of Human Inferno. 'Fortress Audio' is a "horror soundtrack to the real-life nightmare of social deprivation," set in the Croydon estate where he grew up, a properly blitzed, blurry and dubbed-out session of industrial-noise tipped if yr into Aaron Dilloway, Throbbing Gristle, Maurizio Bianchi, Dreamcrusher.
Keen-eared heads will no doubt have come across Wilson at this point. The veteran writer and noisemaker has been part of too many projects to list, but he cut his teeth operating on the fringes of the shoegaze scene back in the '90s, deviating into more industrial sounds as time slipped forward. On his last full-length 'False Dread', his first as Spykidelic, he touched on his former life growing up in New Addington, a Croydon town colloquially known as "little Siberia". 'Fortress Audio' expands the narrative considerably, using his experiences of violence and unchecked drug use to inspire a terrifying, noise-damaged soundtrack to the malaise of Greater London's urban sprawl. Wilson is quick to assure us that it's not all doom and gloom; in amongst the thickets of searing electronics and damaged tape loops, there are smudged references to the reggae tapes he'd buy from Croydon's indoor market, and ghostly vapors that whisper from the haunted woodlands that surround the town.
Dysregulated, dissociated vocals lead us into 'Prime Meridian', that drapes garbled drum loops with the rediscovered traces of Croydon's disenfranchised minds. Wilson's sound palette is broadly industrial, but the thudding, bass-heavy rhythmic backbone speaks directly to his experience as a British-Jamaican, all spiraling echoes and aborted, psychedelic futurism. 'Featherbed Lane' is paralyzed with doom, pocked with metallic scrapes and growling engine whirrs - a reference to the deafening fighter jets that zoomed overhead during the yearly Biggin Hill airshow. And 'Warlingham Park Hospital' is as terrifying as 'Silent Hill'; eerie footsteps reverberate into loose cable noise and muck-glazed sewer drones.
Wilson reintroduces a sandblasted beat on 'Centronic Limited', letting spectral drones surround it in uncomfortable paranoia, and on 'Falconwood Course' the rhythm is expanded into dense, blown-out cacophony, sounding like Vladislav Delay reworking a Wolf Eyes side. Wilson makes music that's locked into British social and architectural history, and tells a story that's often ignored by the experimental mainstream. His glimpse into the past is bewilderingly relevant, and although his narrative is autobiographical, it's the grim, grimy reality of many souls still trapped in Greater London's concrete labyrinth.
Wilson frames 'Fortress Addo' as a soundtrack, and it's as stark and realistic as any gritty British social drama; where the artist pulls away is with his use of tranquillizing surrealism. On 'Jewel's Wood' a grinding kick drum sits beneath layers of mud and stone, while listless spirits circle overhead, and on the foreboding 'Timebridge', demented oscillations wind around sizzling snares and stifled voices. If you listen closely, there's the dreamy, bass-heavy fog of A.R. Kane trapped in the darkness, desperate to escape, and you could even listen to 'Fortress Addo' as a grizzled, noise-pilled counterpart to Space Afrika's rain-sodden, cinematic ambience. It's powerful stuff from beginning to end.
Youth and $hotta alum Leo returns with a radical abstraction of his sound, pounding grimey blueprints into minimalist, wigged out dimensions on a similar trajectory to SND/Mark Fell x Errorsmith, gradually building into more fully formed and swung dembow patterns.
‘Lived I’ showcases Leo’s current working practice in action during one of the monthly Test Card A/V sessions in the basement of Manchester’s best new book and record shop, O! Peste Destroyed. The A-side is a straight from desk recording, backed with a B-side of bonus versions to the same material. It sees the brash ruggedness of ‘a buried river’, Leo’s 2021 debut LP for Youth, swapped out for sparingly sinuous and reticulated forms where kernels of sampled and processed vocals diffuse, congeal and bifurcate into serpentine, hyper-crisp clicks and skeletal dembow rhythms, culminating in a slow shunting, gothic industrial coda, then filtered into more curious timbres and spectral apparitions in the reworked material.
Electroacoustic explorer Erik Enocksson consolidates his raging industrial noise and choral ambient urges with a manacled grasp of quiet/loud dynamics and mournful melancholy, recommended listening if you’re into Tongue Depressor, Kevin Drumm, Beatriz Ferreyra, Maja S. K. Ratkje, Vainio.
‘Räkna evighet som intet’ (‘Count eternity as nothing’) pits Enocksson’s mettle at the service of a palindromic transition from ethereality to phantasmic facemelt terror and a choral sublime on the first part, into atonal metal-on-metal wondering on the 2nd. It follows a course of releases for the Kning Disk, Release the Bats, Posh Isolation and Irrlicht labels since 2007.
The choral sound du jour has been flung in every conceivable direction over the last few years, but is here handled by an experienced hand, able to transition from hushed reverence to clanging brutality with conviction and purpose. On the A-side, the sombre mood is gradually elevated by phased and pitched transitions that grow with an urgent, metalic intensity, recalling recent work by Henry Birdsey and Zach Rowden’s Tonge Depressor. On the flip, the mood is more industrial and aggressive, landing somewhere between Kevin Drumm’s ‘Sheer Hellish Miasma’ and Mika Vainio’s analogue terror zone.
Stuart Argabright of NYC's seminal post-punk unit Ike Yard and his Death Comet Crew accomplice Shinichi Shimokawa reconvene as Black Rain, this time on the Downwards label with a 40 minute album of cyberpunk, industrial drums and gnarled ambience, RIYL Blackest Ever Black, Akira OST, Regis, Front 242, Silent Servant.
Over 40 years since his Ike Yard unit landed on Factory, Stuart Argabright steers its offshoot project Black Rain thru a mini-epic of noirish noise techno, rain spattered cyberpunk drama and club-scene-in-a-movie industrial muscle. It’s a sound he’s been practising since 1989 and perfected over the decades on Fifth Colvmn and BEB, and in conjunction with everyone from Shapednoise to Genesis P-Orridge with consistently strong results.
Last spotted on Blackest Ever Black, Black Rain return with the bruxist industrial racket of opener ‘Atomisirien Atom 1’, evoking imagery of a factory full of grinding machinery shot thru with moonlight, while the widescreen ‘Black Mother’ takes it outside to toxic wastelands scanned by choral pads. ’50 Signs of Rain’ gears up for a Blade-esque rampage in the club spurred by Front 242, replete with adrenalised synth leads, and the beat-less ‘All Snowflakes Melt’ ends the session with a vertiginous sense of scale and dread.
Mappa's latest offering is the debut from Sowmya Somanath, aka Plume Girl, a Hindustani classical singer and composer who uses the root rāga form to inspire folk-y, experimental vignettes that pulse with warmth. RIYL Arushi Jain, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith or claire rousay.
Based in Austin, Texas, Somanath makes the kind of DIY pop music that's deceptively complex. Flitting between acoustic instrumentation and electronics, Hindustani structures and delicate American folk, she paints a deeply personal, diaristic picture that's rare and beautiful. It's her voice that immediately grabs us on 'bilhag', rising like humid air over evocative field recordings and a faint harmonium drone. The recording quality can't help but remind us of homespun, DIY folk music, but the construction is entirely different; Somanath uses these aesthetics to throw us off guard, introducing her narrative carefully and rigorously.
On '4get yrself', synthesizers splutter beneath harmonium squeaks and Somanath's powerful voice, but nothing sounds forced. It's as free flowing and raw as anything from the New Weird America set, but contextualized a little differently. Somanath sings through AutoTune on 'swimming lessons' over a ramshackle beat made from (what sounds like) cutlery, and harmonizes with material from fellow Texan claire rousay. And on 'alone, all one', she chops dialog samples over household sounds and airy drones - it's the soundtrack to an experience that sounds so human you can almost hear it breathing.
Carnivalesque kuduro madness from Príncipe's Normal Nada on his long-awaited debut album, welding Afro-Portuguese rhythms to overdriven drones and frenetic, all-over-the place goo, primed for the heatwave.
Normal Nada has worked as a sort of archivist and chronicler of the Afro-Portuguese musical evolution over the last decade or so, broadcasting his knowledge with mixes, rips and his own productions under a whole bunch of different names - including that sick ‘Transmutação Cerebral’ EP for Príncipe back in 2015.
Almost a decade later, Nada finally gives up a debut album, boiling his expertise into steamy, outlandish dancefloor hybrids that fall so far from their roots they’ve mutated into something entirely new.
‘Beautiful Caos' opens up the LP with a screwed hybrid of dissonant subs , toytown melodies and sweeping, horror strings. 'Da Rage' is more restrained, offsetting a thick kuduro rhythm with EDM synths, while 'Up Bumbulum' sounds like a Portuguese response to Jeff Mills' 'The Bells', with zippy, detuned percussion and a party-ready batida rhythm that morphs fluidly into pounding, big-room techno.
Nada lets loose on the title track, following his wildest inclinations into sawing electric guitar and distorted stabs, offsetting industrial clangs with acoustic drum rolls that form into rough kuduro patterns. 'Nai Na Chi' is almost as screwy, lining tripped out synths and bird calls next to martial rim shots and an urgent kickdrum, while 'Alive' sounds like a peaktime tearout - all happy hardcore vocal squeaks and cloud-punching melodies. Listen carefully and you might hear a bit of Southern rap in there too.
Full rhythmic ruckus, made for dancing.
Incred fuzzbox gristle from Editions Mego labelmates Klara Lewis and Nik Colk Void, 'Full-On' is a nutty back-and-forth that sounds as close to punk as experimental electronic music gets, turning blown-out loops and grotesque samples into elongated, disorientating blasts of heady distortion. RIYL Helm, Graham Lambkin, Aaron Dilloway, or Flora Yin-Wong.
Damn this one's good. Lewis is best known for her smeared run of Editions Mego sets, while Void has built up a reputation for industrial excellence as part of Factory Floor, bolting together an ace solo debut last year. Together they make music that's neither one nor the other, using their technical knowhow to improvise so fluidly that it doesn't really sound like the work of two people but a single, motivated mind. Each track is radically different - sometimes guitar plucks, textured ambience, or deranged modular sequences, sometimes snippets of pop music stuttered into abstraction - but everything's unified by the duo's bold use of distortion. And we're not just saying they're wanging their material through a few choice pedals, this is the kind of distortion and saturation that's so gritty you'll be pulling stones out of yr shoes, tweaked to perfection by two minds who realize the power and responsibility that comes with intense dynamism. Power ambient it ain't.
They start as they mean to go on with 'Say Why' forcing subs through their pedalboard and letting searing noise dissolve obscured rhythms, bizarre synth squeals and vocals. It's hard to tell which elements are there or not, let alone which artist is in control of them; there's a sense that they're both sat head-to-head, watching each other's reaction as they curl the saturation into blunt, filtered drones. And it doesn't stay anywhere for long: on the brief 'In Voice 1', Lewis and Void chop chirpy voices into a playful nursery rhyme that mutates into a theatrical AutoTuned chorus, before tripping into 'Junk Funk', a screwed funk loop that swiftly devolves into noise. 'Ski' is even better, taking a short snippet of Turko-Balkan folk pop and smudging the edges, treating it with respectful disrespect and enhancing its psychedelic potential with radical pitch shifts and, of course, plenty of fuzz.
The duo give a sly wink to camera one on 'Guitar Hero', damaging deranged guitar strums with harsh edits before ramping it into the red and reminding us of John Weise's epochal 'Soft Punk', disrupting their crunching axe sounds with cybernetic stutters that make it unclear whether we're inside the box or far from it. This mood continues on 'Pop' where, as you might expect, the same treatment is applied to glossy '80s pop music - it's vaporwave in a sense, but with sharper teeth and a far more pronounced arched eyebrow. And the album isn't without its breather moments either: 'Found' and 'Swimming' are gorgeous, ethereal moments, with the latter spinning a microsample of what sounds like Arthur Russell into a woolly memory.
If you're missing the CDR days when Midwestern noise bands would seemingly release records daily, Lewis and Void bottle that energy and drizzle it over a record that reminds us how fun experimentation can be. V good.
Leading Belgian polymath Dennis Tyfus invokes the theatric psychodrama of Ghédalia Tazartès or Samuel Beckett in a compelling recording for guess-again specialists A Colourful Storm.
As organiser of the Ultra Eczema label and an accomplished artist, performer and visual artist in his own right, Tyfus surely needs little introduction to acolytes of the contemporary European avant garde, but for everyone else, trust he’s a force of nature with a prolific catalogue of collaborative work spanning back to the early ‘00s.
Tyfus’ solo sides are relatively few and far between, making this snapshot of shows at Café Oto in 2022, and Serre-klanken, Hoeilaart, 2021, a relatively rare window into his solo practice in action. It really pushes the boat out for the cool heads at ACS, invoking the multifarious spirits of former spar Ghédalia Tazartès in a followup to his 2008 work ‘Zangstondes’.
Side A’s ‘A Surprise Visit From Lyon at Café Oto 22.12.2022’ is the main course. Opening bestial and panting, it unexpectedly turns into a theatric dialogue of surrealist cabaret between strange characters hollering like an exaggerated musical across the stage, seemingly both enacted by Tyfus, in possession of a genuinely staggering vocal range, and accompanied by the odd piano flourish. Despite the obvious surrealist comedy of the piece, there’s something vaguely ominous - the whiff of persecution, of otherness, hanging in the air.
The B-side’s ‘Jean Louis - live at Serre-klanken, Hoeilaart, 28.08.2021’ is much shorter and explicitly “musical”, introducing the characters with keys before they continue the surrealist dramaturgy in short form.
Donato Dozzy and Stefano Di Trapani plumb the kosmische void on 'The Black Sphere', an hour long session using turntables, electronics and brainwave generators for a deep dive into psychedelic, Cluster-inspired drone workouts and tripped-out Techno ballistics.
Dozzy and Di Trapani are both experienced improvisors, and Mantenna was conceived as a sort of laboratory for impromptu studio and live electronic performance, using the location and its limitations to inspire and guide their work. 'The Black Sphere' was recorded at Klang in Rome, where Dozzy and Di Trapani not only had to perform with no pre-recorded or practiced elements, but also do so with gear they had never used before - always a chance for failure, always an opportunity for opening up creative wormholes.
The side-long title track finds Dozzy and Di Trapani deep in the kosmische vortex, drawing on early Cluster by layering noisy oscillator drones into tripped-out textures, eschewing drums but not ignoring rhythm entirely. Playing off each other, the duo work like jazz players, allowing the sound to expand and then dip to near silence when necessary. Tones undulate like waves, slowly building into rough, ragged noise before dispersing into pulsing abstraction. It's not just a love letter to the '70s Berlin school, but a celebration of analog synthesis, toying with the physical sound of oscillators and cavernous echoes.
On the flip, 'Hiranyagarbha' finds the duo programming rhythms using an arsenal of drum machines, opening with a pounding, bass-heavy kickdrum that cuts through a fog of analog screams before taking centre stage, morphing into a distorted, electroid throb that's not a million miles from Mika Vainio or Emptyset. The duo eventually pull back into a corrosive, circuit-bent acid session that peaks with a womping, stepped kick like some classic Plastikman fed through a broken pedal board, or just classic Dozzy, if you like.
Made entirely out of samples taken from an 808 State show on Sunset 102 Radio from 1990, ‘808 Sunset 90’ is to Acid House what Lee Gamble’s ‘Diversions’ was to Jungle, a ghostly spool of faded memories parsed through the mists of time.
808 State, a constant presence, always looming; so many paths crossed; our first office was their old studio, memories of Graham Massey bringing Leila Arab to our shop, chatting about the Radiophonic Workshop, signing copies of that Rephlex / New Order remixes 12” in our office, the looming, ever-growing presence and influence of fu-cking NEWBUILD, Gerald, the GOAT.
The OG radio show, broadcast on 27th March, 1990, was made at a time when 808 state were ostensibly a chart act, just 3 years after they met and formed at Eastern Block, and just a few months after Pacific State was absolutely everywhere.
The music on this tape, issued by DDS, was made by Face Of Another in 2022-2023 and assembled entirely from samples of that radio show. it runs like one of those Pirate Radio tapes smudged and screwed to fuck, bits of manc dialogue buried beneath rave stabs and spasmodic kickdrums, pads frozen for eternity, strobe blasts almost audible.
Listen closely, join the dots.
Giant Swan's Robin Stewart returns to Trilogy Tapes with a new solo album and a new moniker, twisting warehouse techno into psychedelic, suspended bumps 'n grinds that never lose sight of the sticky dancefloor. RIYL Blawan, Regis, Rhyw or Rrose.
Stewart steps up his solo game on 'When A Worm Wears A Wig'; he's been releasing material under his own name since 2016, but re-badging his productions as RS Tangent feels like an intentional line in the sand. The album appears on Trilogy Tapes, who released his dubby 2020 EP 'Time Travel', but where that set honed in on stifling vapors and cavernous reverberations, this latest long-form suite cuts back on the FX and focuses on bone-dry and unpredictable ADHD rhythmic pressure. Stewart makes techno, but refuses to take the easy route. On 'Manic Balance', the kickdrum is drowned out by galloping, squelchy synth vamps and distant vocal snips wrapped around Berghain-ready sine subs that sound as if they could level a small building.
If you're searching for floor-filling, industrial pressure, 'Bovine Overbite' should convince you that you're in the right place. A thundering 4/4 that's interrupted by deliriously psychedelic percussion, it's a backroom jam that uses the language of big-room tech to challenge the status quo. There's parallels to be drawn with Batu and Metrist's cracked, controlled chaos too, but it's the pneumatic grind of Brummie techno that casts the longest shadow on 'When A Worm...', with Surgeon's scientific slop guiding tracks like 'Emperor Worm' and the itchy 'Swimmer's Ear', and Regis's pitch-black shuffle hypnotising 'Primitive Paste'.
When Stewart careens off course, like on 'Youth Scene Butcher Dub', he lets his propulsive jams dissolve into the aether, bringing out the rhythmic texture of his machines in the same way Rrose did on this summer's brilliant 'Please Touch'. And on 'Touch the Tap', the producer imagines a reality where minimal techno and bassline exist in the same continuum, adding a low end throb that wouldn't sound out of place in deepest, darkest Deutschland. Hard, heavy, and winningly tongue-in-cheek - just the way we like it.
Manny outlier Sockethead follows his Michael J. Blood collab ‘Eating Late’ with a new bullet for YOUTH, a mini album of rugged club shapes x lilting moods on the downstroke.
More bolshy and emotional than any of his gear so far, it opens with martial drums, subs and Detroit pads on ‘Sian’, into the more spasmodic bosh of ‘Walking On Clouds Slowly Sinking’, a peaktime joint bent out of shape via exaggerated mentasms and a tempered vocal like some Actress x John Cooper Clarke session.
‘I'm Losing My Fingers’ harnesses a different energy, wrapping motorik drums around that aggy vocal like some Suicide outtake, while the two “still life” parts are beautiful piano-led concrète/field recording vignettes, and ‘Make Myself Cry’ is a stunning trip hop roll.
Jack of all trades, master of many of them, ‘Drenched Worlds Fall Apart’ is probably the most fully formed and rinsable Sockethead yet, an impressive feat of imagination and execution that places him alongside Michael J. Blood and Rat Heart at the forefront of the anything-goes/DIY thing going through a golden moment in the city right now.
Fugged and liminal dreampop stylings from the spectral duo of Amelia Besseny & Cooper Bowman, aka Troth, making their debut for A Colourful Storm on an enchanting session of a cappella flights of fancy thru to tropical birdsong, piano recitals and fizzing lullabies, like an inebriated Tara Clerkin Trio jamming with Elodie at the midnight hour.
Through almost an hour of pregnant, blissed emotion, Amelia Besseny’s vocals take centre-stage, wreathed in reverb and set to Bowman’s barely-there arrangement of brittle synths and charred atmospheres, punctuated by the suave swirl of Anna Langdon’s saxophone motifs, in full romantic bloom.
The duo depict a sense of fraught sublime with poised instrumentation underpinning the resounding ache and beauty of Besseny’s voice. It begins with their unadorned version of ‘The Well Below the Valley’ and slips into hallucinatory states with the organ and sweltering atmosphere of ‘Wolkenträume’, coming closest to Lolina, or Laila Sakini’s brooding qualities in ‘The Slowest Dawn’.
There’s a poignant end-of-the-earth blooze to their ‘Kind of Cure’, and ‘Days Become a Circle’ reduces everything to a rapt cinder, weaving keys around a closing incantation. For a sense of the uncanny, the Deja entendu so often triggered by that ever expanding crew of after-hours specialists operating in and around Naarm (well, in this case, Hobart), this really is as bleary eyed and special as it gets.
Second part in a killer, wave-surfing double header by Hamburg enigma Braun Jaschkewitz for the V I S label, getting weirder and spanning wider than the first volume with ample screwballs and WTF bullets inside.
Where the preceding volume focussed on synth-pop, NDW and new wave, ‘Neid Dabai Zu Sein #2’ plays out a sleazier, more spangled soundtrack to creeping the Reeperbahn and scoring wraps of wizz. If the first volume mostly left us scratching our head for a tracklist, this one has us totally flummoxed for its flux of top shelf obscurities, which open with what sounds like a field recording of Pac-Man in an arcade and proceed to pluck curios from behind the ear.
Vocoder-led echoes of Zeus B. Held give way to curdled NWD grooves, horny boogie woogie, cybernoir soundtrack and an absolute zinger in that german cover of The S.O.S. Band’s ‘Just Be Good to Me’ on the A-side, before he cues up lysergic synth soul, oily electro downstrokes and piquant funk-not-funk, plus some heroic ‘80s main character themes and speedy steppers on the flip.
Revered Hamburg enigma and VHS specialist Braun Jaschkewitz racks up a full clip of coldwave bullets for local bastion V I S, counting stacks of killer, unidentifiable private pressings, flohmarkt finds and legendary gems.
The first of two ‘Neid Dabai Zu Sein’ (or ‘To Give Envy’, if we’re not mistaken) tapes brims over with an early ‘80s quintessence, all screwed drum machines, tart synths and an enchanting mix of German and english-sung vocals that exemplifies the era’s diversity within a theme.
Like a sorta parallel to Annie Hogan’s goth salvos, Jaschkewitz’s selections run a finely-shaded gamut of vibes from wiry lo-fi to poppy NDW and sultrier swag. It’s frankly facemelting parade, mostly taken from 7”s and recorded in one-take, although you suspect he spent serious time pulling out that track-list, which holds to an absolutely head frying mesh of steady, sleazy pacing, but prangs off at right angles when you least expect it.
(Previously issued on the TCCC label)
Athenian mystic Jay Glass Dubs summons the timeless spirits of Greek Roma music in a mesmerising tribute to the obscure tapes and psychedelic swelter of the Eleonas flea market. Featuring flute by Foteini Korre (Wild Terrier Orchestra), it’s a proper wild ride, heavily recommended if yr into Bryn Jones’ E.g Oblique Graph, Christos Chondropoulos, Craig Leon’s Nommos, or Mikel Rouse’s cult Linndrum odyssey ‘Quorum’.
On a typically roasting early summer day of ‘22 in Athens' Eleonas district, Jay Glass Dubs and Foteini Korre introduced Reel Torque to its mind-blowing sprawl of flea market traders flogging everything from Roma tapes and Greek vinyl nuggets to toiletries and Souvlaki. The lowkey carnivalesque atmosphere of myriad sound systems pumping unknowable future-primitive melodies and rhythms would stoke imaginations, prompting JGD to rework recordings of favourite tape finds within his singular style of inverted dub and loop chicanery.
Layered with faithful Ney flute improvisations by Jay’s Wild Terrier Orchestra bandmate, Fotini Korre, the results found on ‘Clandestine Cadence (Whispered Tales from a Wandering Fire)’ are an extraordinary 45 minute session without direct comparison, blurring distinctions between mixtape, collage, and original composition with a richly impressionistic effect that uproots and plunges listeners deep into another world while tapping into millennia-old traditional modes of expression that link Indian and Eurasian musics and beyond.
The results form one of a handful of original works, rather than mixtapes, proper, on Reel Torque. From an opening passage of heat-sick drone and drums, Jay locks into a pendulous traction of crashing Linndrum and instrumental loops teased with a dubwise hands-on-desk approach, transitioning to spine-shivering flute and synth duets, and thrumming industrial-dub versions of Romani styles, eventually shoring up in heart-in-mouth romantic meditation and awesome dub roil.
When attempting to revisit the flea market in 2023 with a Scottish gnostic from 12th Isle, we arrived too late and nearly died when crossing the road to its site, which we’ll take as an omen not to fuck with the flea market, and hold its treasures in the highest regard.
Wolf Eyes’ Nate Young captured at the peak of his powers, doing his singular technoid punk thing a decade ago at Hamburg’s legendary Golden Püdel. Oozing like brain juice from a caved skull, it’s fully gnarled, hi-grade TripMetal, a perfect addition to the DDS tape series.
After marinading in the archive for almost a decade, the half hour session is an epilogue of sorts to the Regression series, released across various formats and labels between 2009 -2012, and themed around Young’s highly identifiable shaping of screwy energies that place him on the continuum somewhere between Bernard Parmegiani’s concrète outliers and Rashad Becker’s wormlike ear-benders.
This one has you covered for a full dose of Young at his most apocalyptic, creaming his machines to pure battery butter, secreting acrid flashbacks in a deviant style he’s pursued since the original 2009 ‘Regression’ sesh. For 30 minutes he chars flesh into a sort of subconscious netherworld of phantasmic and vinegary tones with a primordial feel resembling the earliest electronic music as much as the most blasted ends of his TripMetal styled forged with Wolf Eyes.
In its painstaking, stygian flow and bezonked brand of hypnosis, the music is calm but deeply discomfiting in nature, expressing itself at a speed of slurred thought detached from waking reality but bringing to the surface a whole bunch of uncanny sensations. There really is nowt quite like it.
Slamming, wiggly and searingly melodic bikutsi - a progression of makossa and soukous - from 1989 Cameroon, translating trad xylophone lines to electric guitar on catapulting machine rhythms...
“No shortage of colorful characters emerged from Cameroon’s bikutsi scene in the 1980’s and early 90’s. Gibraltar Drakus is one of the most enduring and enigmatic of the artists who helped transform bikutsi into a beautifully endless fabric of triplet rhythms that eventually reached ears around the world.
Following the advent of Cameroon Radio Television in 1987, bikutsi began to supplant makossa and soukous for domination of the local airwaves and the attention of cosmopolitan, thrill-seeking residents of Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé and beyond. Biktusi perfectly fused Beti traditional music and increasingly electronic, highly rhythmic guitar-based bikutsi. Mimicking the sound of village-based xylophone music by rigging a mute to electric guitar strings, bikutsi artists provided a relentlessly energetic dance format for those with a taste for music steeped in their hometown sensibility (countering the popular makossa that many felt sounded less indigenous).
By the early 1990’s, Les Tetes Brûlées were indisputably the most famous and influential artists in bikutsi, due in part to the innovations of their incendiary guitarist Théodore Zanzibar Epeme. Following their first European tour in 1987, the band blew up internationally but Zanzibar tragically, and mysteriously, passed away, which nearly brought an end to the band completely. In hindsight, the consensus among most Cameroonians is Zanzibar’s contributions to biktusi were transformational and immeasurable.
“Zanzibar is the one who taught me how to compose a song, and I learned a lot from Zanzibar musically. We spent whole nights working on methods and other approaches to compose beautiful songs. I owe half of everything I have today to Zanzibar!”
Swept up in all this was Gibraltar Drakus, who was the youngest member of Les Têtes Brûlées and was also the protégé of his biggest supporter, Zanzibar. So it was fitting that he dedicate his 1989 debut to their groundbreaking late guitarist who had meant so much to him. Drakus literally exploded from his first album Hommage A Zanzibar (1989), which sold over 100,000 copies despite rampant piracy. For the recording, Drakus made sure he engaged prolific producer Mystic Jim to record and mix the album. The innovation musically rests both within the guitar interplay and the discipline in the orchestration, which result in a mind-bending clockwork of cross-rhythmic harmony.”
Circuit-mangled crunch and sodden emo electronics by the Welsh pioneers of radical noise techno
Veteran survivors of a scene that has mutated between speedcore, noise, breakcore, and industrial electronics, the Healy brothers aka Somatic Responses show no sign of letting up on their livewire hardware sound for Ireland’s (nearly) equally long-running Acroplane. Hailing from South Wales’ industrial heartlands, the SR siblings’ music reflects a sort of mucky-hands-on, artisanal approach to their craft, with circuit-bent boxes hot-wired into rambunctious rhythms and a mix of atonal and emosh arrangements.
‘Doomsday Conduit’ carries the energy of original ‘90s free-party techno rave into 2023, veering from the rusted tang of their Autechrian melody and lurch in ‘Other Destinations’, to panel-beaten AFXian drill ’n bass in ‘Photon Barrage’ and the breakcore ballistics of the title tune, before wrangling wild offbeat electro-breaks in ‘The Fault Inside Us’ and melodramatic ‘Slewed Diffusion’, and snapping back to acid electro in ‘2Hlec’ and ‘Imagined Darkness (Elektro Mix)’, with a scything signature piece of distressed rave signals in ‘Tec Cymru’.
Codeine’s swan song arrived in 1994 amid grunge’s ascension to alt radio’s godhead status.
"John Engle’s guitar alternates between crystalline and sludge, and Stephen Immerwhar’s distorted bass floats on top of punishing drums from newcomer Doug Scharin (Rex, June of 44), resulting in nine perfect meditations on the loneliness and uncertainty of early adulthood.
“Codeine’s unyielding numbness creates its own kind of warmth - the feeling of cold water running for so long that it suddenly feels hot.” - Spin
Luminous and reflective ambient pop opus from Alessio Natalizia on a career-defining outing as Not Waving, featuring contributions from Romance, Marie Davidson, More Eaze and Spivak, plus a posthumous appearance by occasional collaborator Mark Lanegan, R.I.P.
Poised and heartfelt, ‘The Place I've Been Missing’ feels like the culmination of Natalizia’s almost two decades work as a producer, songwriter, prolific collaborator and label founder, bringing together ostensibly disparate stylistic elements gathered on his travels over the years. Comfortable in both colourful pop and downcast modes, here these two ends of his repertoire come together in a way that’s perhaps eluded him in the past, marked by the passing of time and the joyous - and then suddenly painful - undulation of life as we get older.
It’s that sense of ambiguous hopefulness, of joyful melancholy, that flows through the album’s veins, where the unforgettably hooky, heartbeat-shaped ‘Fool’ sits alongside the FM synths x trills anthem ‘Running Back To You” with Romance, and the trip hop swoon of ‘Again and Again’, featuring Spivak. In the spaces between, Natalizia paints in bluer shades: 'Never Let Me Go' is a nebulous scramble of purring chorals and epic, Hollywood strings; 'The Distance Between' clicks rickety piano improvisations into minimalist repetitions that dissolve into slow moving field recordings; and 'Waiting For You To Notice Me', finds More Eaze’s fluttering AutoTune gliding over a delicate piano that's brushed into a dense, harmonic crescendo.
Although it’s not made explicit, it’s not hard to read between the lines and hear ‘The Place I’ve Been Missing’ as a tribute to Natalizia’s pal Mark’ Lanegan, who passed in 2022. On the album’s penultimate, longest track ‘I Found You’, Lanegan appears as if captured in mid conversation “…do I seem dark to you?” he asks, before sparking up over almost baroque acoustic guitar. Across its eight minutes, the piece gradually erodes until all we’re left with are trace echoes of Lanegan’s voice and a solitary, frozen piano.
Finally equipped with enough life and creative experience to imbue his work with a real sense of emotional honesty, ‘The Place I've Been Missing’ is likely the most subdued and personal work of Alessio Natalizia’s long and varied career thus far, but also the one that somehow feels most complete, packed with unforgettable songs.
Pavel Milyakov (aka Buttechno’s) darkest and most fraught material to date, recorded to close Cyprien Gaillard’s exhibition at Lafayette Anticipations in Paris, and slowly unfurling into 40 minutes of increasingly spiky material on a tip somewhere between Suzanne Ciani, Sunn O))) and Aaron Dilloway. All label profits will be donated to Livyj Bereh — a Kyiv-based group of volunteers who help rebuild houses destroyed by the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
Dispensed by Coni’s Firecamp label, the 36 minute piece pays witness to Milyakov at a stark peak of his powers, wrangling unearthly hallucinations from guitar, synth and pedals in a way that relates to his bleakest solo sides and deployed as a mark of despair at the situation in his native Russia, which the artist has staunchly denounced. If you want to hear Pavel delve deep into his knack for atmospheric worldbuilding - this is basically as good as it gets.
From a cold rush intro of shivering arps resembling a swarm of drones sent from kosmicshe mountaintops, to its haunting outro of caressed arpeggios, the set traverses trip metal sludge into caustic, granular soundscaping with a howling, apocalyptic feel. Rhythms appear to disgorge into hellish scenes of muddy planes, arrhythmically struck percussion recalls vehicle doors slamming, all in service of ever-darkening concrète soundwalls that - only at the very end - collapse into more hopeful, open-hearted dimensions.
As mentioned, the work was commissioned to accompany the closing of Cyprien Gaillard’s recent exhibition in Paris. Gaillard is one of the most significant French artists of his generation, his broad-ranging, research-based practice encompasses installation, photography, video, sculpture and sound, proposing a radical reimagining of the relation between human and nature, with an emphasis on investigations of space, history and materiality. He has won numerous international prizes such as the Prix Marcel-Duchamp & Award of National Gallery.
Demdike Stare finally snag a release from their idol Cherrystones for their limited DDS tape series; a hyper-inventive and rinsable session joining dots between avant-garde and pop dimensions, full of the sickest subterranean steez.
Practically a brother from a different mother in terms of his mutuality with DDS’s interests in all-ends of the DIY spectrum, Cherrystones has long been a DJ envied for the depth and obscurity of his record collection and his ability to put it all together in compelling and beguiling ways. Often associated with Andy Votel’s cosmos of labels, as well as the likes of David Holmes and Trevor Jackson, Cherrystones is a rare hyper-connector between chthonic scenes whose regular sets for NTS and London clubs (and beyond) are prized for bridging disparate styles and patterns and highlighting the mutual energy that underpins them. Trust ‘Peregrinations in SHQ’ is a masterfully meta joyride stuffed with nuggets, stitched together with the alliterative, collaged context and swag of an OG hip hop DJ.
Ducking and weaving between styles like a drunken master pugilist, Cherrystones elides vibes with storytelling flair, arcing from spangled radiophonic electro-jazz to pealing Anatolian pipes and psych fuzz, free jazz, and no-wave all in just the first 10 minutes, setting up a persistently guess-again logic that leads by the nose to howling deathrock, grinding hiphop and Memphis rap by the end of the first side, with circular breathing sax spilling into gnarled sludge, ritualist post-punk and possessed industrial swagger on the flip, before faithfully returning to the source in gully rap and WTFisms by the end.
A proper reel one for the nuts.
At this point in his career, Uwe Zahn has been producing electronic music for over 4 decades, the recent run of reissues of his classic turn-of-the-century albums for T++’s Din and the City Centre Offices labels have thankfully ignited a new spurt of activity. ‘Seismograf’ is more patient and glassy than much of his work thus far, situated on the spectrum somewhere between Minimalism, sound design and Ambient.
"In line with his recent body of work, Arovane bundled minimal compositions telling micro-narratives situating in the melodic realm of ambient music. On first sight, it seems common that one can enter or construct such stories through the melodies these compositions offer. However, melodies never stand on their own – maybe only theoretically – but in fact truly reveal their magic through the sonical context they’re embedded in. To Zahn, a crucial part of his practice is all about this latter notion: finding the sweet – and sometimes hidden – spots in sound-design that allow him to express the narratives he wants to share. ‘Seismograf’ could be seen as an ode to this exploration and devoted to the practice of listening - to hear sounds that are otherwise inaudible.
“i am like a seismometer for sound structures that are hidden deep under the surface. an ear on the ground, on the earth. the other ear listens to the sky, the birds, the clouds, the wind.” Arovane
Georgia's third album is a tight selection of itchy neo-disco A24 pop, like a Brit-pilled Robyn doing New Order covers with Carly Rae Jepson.
There's something garish and vivid about 'Euphoric - hardly surprising that the record was produced by Rostam, who's responsible for tidying up music from Haim, Clairo and Carly Rae Jepson, the latter of whom casts a long shadow on 'Euphoric'. But Georgia doesn't submit entirely to the Scandi-US pop hegemony, she augments just enough rain-y mischief into proceedings to ensure her accent is intact. While opener 'It's Euphoric' sounds like primo radio pop, 'Give it up for Love' is as inspired by Factory Records as Ariana, and although 'Mountain Song' begins like any A24 electro post-'Night Drive' burner, it just about makes room for New Order guitars between the bright analog synths and acidic squelches.
We're pleasantly surprised how much we like this one.
After the scrapped Dessau sessions in 1992, Codeine returned with an EP of icy and effervescent tracks.
"Clocking in at a brisk 25 minutes, the six-song release features drummer Chris Brokaw’s final recordings with the group, plus noisy guitar from Bitch Magnet’s Jon Fine and a solo piano arrangement from Bastro’s David Grubbs.
Remastered from the original analogue tapes and recreated in painstaking detail, ‘Barely Real’ is the slowcore classic your therapist warned you about.
“As far away from traditional rock & roll heat as a post-stellar universe is to the Big Bang.” - The Quietus
The drowsiest and earliest inklings of the slowcore movement can be traced to Codeine’s 1991 debut.
"Combining the Louisville scene’s relaxed tempo with doom metal’s distorted slurry, the album is a depressing masterpiece of hushed vocals, noisy guitar and punishing drums.
Remastered from the original analogue tapes and recreated in painstaking detail, ‘Frigid Stars LP’ is the NYC trio’s fuzziest and most affecting work.
“A deft musical approximation of the sound of water turning to ice, the guitars are so weighed down with distortion that they struggle to march from one chord to the next.” - Pitchfork
Silvestre's Padre Himalaya label back with this long delayed mixtape from Porto DJ Patricia Brito serving up an all-over-the place downtempo-to-peaktime-and-back-again selector special.
Pretty much everything on Padre Himalaya so far has snagged our ears and this tape from DJ/Textile designer Patrícia Brito is near the top of that list, taking us on a flight of fancy from squashed jungle to moody EBM, Trip Hop and percolated bontempi jams.
There’s an increasing number of mixtape-as-storytelling sessions hitting our review pile, but this one does a neat thing of not giving a f about buildup and instead follows its own path from full delirium to heads-right-down, and back again. It all hangs by a thread too - which in our book is precisely the way to do it.
Tipped if yr into owt from classic Aphex to Autechre's Disengage show to Andrew Weatherall on a deep one.
Benjamin Rupp follows an impressive run of releases on Opal Tapes and Stay Awake! with this murky, downtempo blast of industrial, dubby echoes and smudged beats that's like Demdike Stare, Coil and African Head Charge playing all at once.
There's a moan of tape saturation on 'Vapid Time' that provides each track with a character that immediately links the material to the early '80s, when short-run industrial tapes gave future reissue labels ammunition to keep them afloat in the 2010s. In Rupp's hands this era is channeled through '90s dub experiments and into contemporary beatmusick: tense rhythmic flexes are spiked with distorted vocals and squealing analog echoes. Mucky sizzles and barely discernible vocals flesh out a thudding kick and ring modulated percussion on '2 O'Clock and the Time'; it's dub, just about, but given a leisurely 4/4 that you'd more likely find on an Andy Stott record.
'200036' is even more damaged, its beat mangled into whirrs and pops and every additional sound piped through spiraling feedback. Rupp's music reaches back to the glory days of industrial music, but he avoids the genre's oppressive darkness, choosing instead to bring out a mischievous growl that undergirds his relentless experimentation. On 'Keep Trying', he almost freezes time completely, never letting the beat reach even a crawl, and on 'Don't Damage Our Ears' he mashes a grinding beatbox loop into clouds of euphoric noise. If you've ever wondered what The Fall might sound like if they'd only had access to a broken drum machine, Roland RE-201 Space Echo and a cheap microphone, this is basically it.
A deafening collision of squealing, carnivalesque electronics, wrecked baile funk and psychedelic vocals, DJ K's unhinged debut album is an important document of São Paulo's burgeoning Bruxaria sound.
If you've spent any time swiping thru TikTok then you've likely heard the distorted brand of baile funk that's characterised by a clash of sirens, jackhammer beats, long delays and garbled, overlayed Brazilian voices. That's Bruxaria, a sound that emerged from Baile do Helipa, a street party based in Heliópolis, São Paulo's biggest favela. More menacing and considerably more spannered than its close cousin, funk Mandelão, Bruxaria draws its energy from the auditory hallucinations - known locally as 'tuin' - caused by lança perfume, a drug made from chloroethane and perfume found everywhere throughout São Paulo's bailes. A little like poppers with a twist, lança perfume inspires a temporary euphoria that's enhanced by loud, shrill sounds, so the music plays into this necessity, emphasising the experience with wailing synths and blown-out drums.
DJ K started producing music when he was only 17, studying YouTube tutorials until he was able to bolt together rudimentary tracks for local parties. Before long, his sounds became central to Baile do Helipa, and currently he's on the front line of the Bruxaria Sound collective, a sprawling crew of São Paulo's most energetic MCs, producers and DJs. 'Panico No Submundo' (panic in the underworld) is the introduction many of us outside of Brazil have been waiting for, the first release in a proposed series from Nyege Nyege that promises to shine a spotlight on what, for our money, is one of the most important club music developments in recent years. Everything falls into place on opening track 'Viagem Ao Oculto' (occult journey) - if you've never come across Bruxaria before this it's a startling introduction, a ransacked onslaught of papery voices, toytown zaps and beats that'll blow straight thru your woofers.
There are a few sounds that crop up in almost every track: tight delays that whirr into gaps between beats, manic laughter, pitch-fucked carnival trance synths EQed to remove any trace of low end, and chopped-to-shreds vocals, supplied by any number of Bruxaria Sound's legion of MCs. MC Zudo Boladão and MC Menor Douglinhas lead 'Montagem Alem Do Universo' (assembly beyond the universe), trading rhymes over compressed hardstyle kicks and synths that might be funny if they weren't so demonic. It's haunted house music in the best possible sense, both deliriously silly and sonically terrifying, using white noise as a weapon of saturation to drive the rhythm and force movement - "embrazar" as it's known in the bailes. Even at lower tempos, DJ K manages to conjure a stifling groove, stapling hoarse sine squiggles to spaced-out, minimalist kick patterns on 'To Comendo Puta De Graça' (I'm eating this bitch for free) and almost losing the beat entirely on the cosmic, Halloween-sampling 'Sequencia Terrorista Do Heliópolis'.
The aesthetic quality here is variable but crucial - when DJ K scorches his tracks with overzealous limiting or saturation it's entirely by design. And although tracks like the sand-blasted 'Ela Quer Pop Pirulito' (she wants lollipop pop) and the metallic 'Montagem Eletrônica' - sounding like a broken ice-cream truck and a malfunctioning Yamaha DX7 respectively - might come across as completely unplayable to most DJs, that's really the point. It ain't music for mass consumption, it's the sound of a scene based around specific parties and specific drugs - and its energy and vigour is fucking deafening.
Tucked in the heart of Koreatown, Los Angeles, lies The Libra Hotel—the titular architecture of Nick Malkin's album and site of his musical and psychogeographic exploration.
"Unlike most musical "site-specific" studies, Malkin remains wholly ambivalent to the documentarian approach, instead sharpening an auteur-like focus on the site as a conceptual and highly expressive backdrop. The Libra is musically explored as a space that houses a noir fragmentation of identity—the exhausted trope of a complicated protagonist walking through rain-soaked street corners and fumy neon lights—where an inner monologue is rendered in both miniature and at a cosmic scale.
Casting aside stifling tropes around field recording, ambient, and improvised music, Malkin's work finds its own unique fidelity and emotional core through the assembly and reassembly of memory. Nearly every sound on the album—from frayed saxophones, lambent pianos, and dissected jazz drum kits—are multiplied, shattered, and reconstituted into shapes that adorn The Libra in a motion-blurred fog. The narrative of the Hotel suddenly appears as if out of the mist, with intersecting characters interacting within its walls by happenstance. Adminst the languid set pieces, wraith-like sonic grains gravitate around wide subbass beams that give structural form to The Libra, a narrative tension like when a scene is shot from hundreds of different perspectives: an image both luminous and veiled."
her her is the first full length album by Berlin-based Australian artist L.Zylberberg
"A little bit off yet playful, intriguing and perhaps a touch deceptive. Sounds, arrangements and images cajole the listener to second guess themselves and re-evaluate the listening experience as it's happening. It's a trip, it’s transcendental, but her her does not stylistically fall into such simple catagorisations. her her is a meticulously-crafted egress into a sonic world that is at times tense, lush, dense, and sometimes just hush.
This is the third offering by Zylberberg on Swiss publishing house Präsens Editionen, following a split tape with producer and singer Belia Winnewisser and a digital release that was accompanied by a silk foulard."
Teresa Winter heralds the coming of spring and the start of new cycles with a divine reflection on pagan and Christian rites set to her most elusive, quizzical arrangements - RIYL the films of Peter Greenaway, Cosey, Michelle Bokanowski, Delia Derbyshire, Cucina Povera.
Also marking the threshold of The Death of Rave’s 10th or “tin” anniversary year, ‘Drowning By Numbers’ is Teresa's follow-up the uneasy summery smudge of ‘Motto Of The Wheel’ and the dubwize dreampop of ‘Love Crime’. The 6-part, 30min work swaps out dance-pop tropes for a rich but sparing palette of concrète field recordings, Mozart, and tintinnabulous electronics, woven with a vocal narration deployed in a soft East Yorkshire cadence that's also morphed into much stranger reflections. It’s the quietest LP in Teresa’s oeuvre since her lush label debut ‘Untitled Death’ and perhaps the purest, too, bringing together myriad strands of her practice; from references to the films of Peter Greenaway, to research into the occult and the way it informs everyday life, to the ongoing refinement/intimacy within her intuitive DIY composition system, for a definitively lowkey and holistic highlight of her between-worlds style.
Themed around the traditional Gaelic festival of Imbolc on 1st February, which denotes the mid-way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and also shares its date with candlemas - the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Christian calendar; ‘Drowning By Numbers’ takes its elusive shape as an absorbing ebb and flow of hypnagogic stream-of-consciousness. It finds Teresa’s ability to probe odder, hard-to-explain emotional integers lucidly heightened and calmly centred, emphasised by an embrace of negative space and sublime tension in her gently delirious and quizzically optimistic way.
Setting the scene with reference to the magickal mise-en-scène of Peter Greenaway in both the cover artwork and her use of highly visual concrète signifiers, Teresa enacts a sort of synaesthetic narrative alchemy that brings her subject to life with animistic tekkerz while leaving lots to the imagination. Mozart samples give way to Delian modes of concrète electronics and shimmering timbral sensitivities, steepled choral vocals collapsing to slurred gynoid speech and unheimlich nature sounds, all occurring with a slanted rhyme and reason that makes itself clearer and yet more confounding on return visits.
For our money the best thing Teresa Winter has released, colour us completely spellbound.
Epic three and a half hour mixtape sprawl from Hessle/Timedance/Livity don Bruce on a lavish triplepack from party and tape series Club Night Club following releases from Ploy, Jon K, Special Guest DJ++
Described by Bruce as a 3.5 hour warm up, the vibe is deep and fully expansive; it takes almost an hour for as much as a rhythm to appear, with endless elements and styles moulded into one of the most impressive and cohesive displays of all-over-the place madness we’ve heard in a minute.
The set arcs from folkways and murder ballads to tape experiments, synth outerzones, screwed dancehall, f*cked tablas and bouncy steppers, into 4th world bangers, the T++ ends of the technoid spectrum, French Grime, liquid jungle and footwork glydes, dripping R&B - even peaktime kids tv themes. It all builds with feeling and an obvious love for the music, there’s no flexing or posturing - just pure vibes. The blends are effortless too - even when it sounds like things are being fed through an array of tape delays and pedals, it all just essentially makes you wanna know every single fucking tune.
If you’ve enjoyed all-hours/all-night sessions from Jon K and Tom Boogizm - this one is pretty much as good as it gets.
Demdike Stare zoom into the late 90’s sweetspot where jungle producers swang into UKG and R&B with a high grade mixtape spliced together with typical, obsessive knowledge and swerve - trust it’s one of their best.
Mining one of their essential touchstones, ‘The Call’ highlights the ’97-’99 period in the UK when the likes of Steve Gurley, Anthill Mob and Sky Joose were key players in the phase shift from ruff to sweet club styles around needlepoint 2-step drum programming. Also spotlighting the irrevocable influence of US R&B at the time, the mix homes in on one of the hardcore ‘nuum’s most fascinating innovations, when original, leading producers reclaimed their music from the sweatier excesses of jungle/D&B, and ushered it back to sexier, slinkier styles primed for dressing up and showing off - not gurning your tits off and brukking the f uck out.
Stitched together with subtle, patented sleight-of-hand edits and dial strafe smudges, the mix exerts exquisite control for one hour of dainty rudeboy shuffle and woodblock parry in honour of their innovative heroes. Without overstating it, they trace UKG’s flex from bumpty speed garage soul inflicted with syrupy R&B, to its four-to-da-floor variants, and the sparkier punctuation of 2-step, proper, emphasising the sound’s rhythmic and textural sensuality with triple deep and eternal cuts that find the sound crystallizing from a delicious flux of puckered US garage-house and R&B-soul aspects, and updating the memory banks of original UK rave.
Like the post-factum UKG archaeology of Finn and Oneman, Demdike’s picks are educated and educational, but never academic - presenting an ideal primer on the way styles shifted quickly back then, exemplifying how the tussle of energies between the house traction of Grant Nelson, Dem 2’s dissection of Timbaland/The Neptunes’ mainstream R&B, and the restless bad foot of rave were factored by the adroit chops of early jungle DJs on radio stations such as Freak FM and Jason Kaye’s Sun City mixes.
Second spellbinding volume in this vocal-only series of mixtapes sourced, selected and assembled by Simon Gabriel of Manhattan’s infamous 2 Bridges, and brought to you via Demdike Stare’s DDS label. This one’s on an elevated tip; all spirituals, incantations and folk songs spanning several decades, continents and mindsets, essential listening for anyone in perpetual pursuit of the special stuff.
Simon Gabriel once again opens a portal into the furthest reaches of his record collection to explore what you would ostensibly call sacred music and folkways, shining a light on the sort of LP’s you could easily spend a lifetime tracking down.
Speaking to the unique power of the human voice to communicate feelings without the need for so much as a shared language, the tape’s careful selection and arrangement is both transportive and enlightening, juxtaposing vastly different types of music that all seem to share a devotional dimension.
Even when the mix strays into what you might call “art music” - like the intensely shaped vocal exercises that span the opening of side B, there is a palpable sense of community and worship at play. The spell is broken momentarily towards the end of the side, when a frozen reverb and phased loops extend into more explicitly ethereal terrain, but even that small concession to technology only serves to amplify a sense of wonder at the human voice and its myriad expressive facets.